Vol 17.10 - Chag HaPesach 1 Spanish French Audio Video
Three names to the holday:
– in Spritual Avodah.
Explanation of the saying of the sages (Sotah 47a) that: “Our Rabbis have taught: Always let the left hand thrust away and the right hand draw near” (7)
The festival of Pesach is known by three names:
In the Torah it is referred to as the Festival of Matzos;
in the text of the holiday prayers it is also known as the Season of Our Freedom;
during later times, our Sages referred to it, as do most people nowadays, as the Festival of Pesach.
The Prophet Yechezkel speaks of the exodus from Egypt as the time of the Jewish people’s birth. He does so not only because the Jewish people then attained nationhood, (for were this the sole reason, the term would also apply to other nations who won their freedom) but because at that time the Jews became an entirely new entity.
The ultimate purpose of the Exodus was consummated when the Jews received the Torah, as the verse states: "When you shall take out the nation from Egypt, they shall serve G-d on this mountain (Sinai)." Thus, the birth of the Jewish people is bound up with their becoming a Torah-nation. The essential quality of a Jew, both as an individual and as part of the collective whole, is Torah.
The three names mentioned above, and their respective order, emphasize the three distinct stages necessary for the Jewish people to become a wholly new entity.
This is analogous to a teacher imparting knowledge to a pupil - knowledge so profound that the pupil could never attain it on his own. The first thing the pupil must do is to arrive at a state of self-nullification, abandoning all preconceptions and thereby becoming a fit receptacle for his master’s teachings.
After attaining this state, the pupil must, however, also make an effort to comprehend the knowledge imparted to him - self-nullification is but a preparatory state to comprehension. The pupil does so by utilizing his own intellect.
During the initial stages of learning, the student’s knowledge of the subject can in no way compare to his master’s, as it is constricted by his intellectual capacity.
Ultimately, however, it is hoped that the pupil’s comprehension of the subject matter will equal his teacher’s. But in order for him to attain this state, he must transcend the limitations of his intellect and elevate himself to the intellectual state of his teacher.
The birth of the Jewish people as a nation was dependent on three similar stages. In order to receive the Torah they first had to attain a state in which they could fulfill the injunction, "You shall serve."
Like a servant who nullifies himself before his master, the Jews had to first expend effort to nullify their previous state, a state that was contrary to Torah. This level of service - like the first stage in the attainment of knowledge - is reflected in the name the Festival of Matzos, for the flat matzah bespeaks the nullification of one’s bloated ego.
This manner of service, far from being restrictive, leads to a second state that truly frees a Jew, for it is in keeping with his true essence, inasmuch as "a Jew and Torah are one."
This level of freedom - like the second stage of attaining knowledge - is celebrated in the Season of Our Freedom, for "only a Jew who studies Torah is truly free," and such a desire is part of a Jew’s essential being. (Conversely, when a Jew leads a life "free" of the constraints of Torah and mitzvos, he is in reality in a state of "slavery," for he is straining against the grain of his very essence.)
For our forefathers, the second level of freedom led to the final stage - receiving the Torah. This changed them radically, just as in the final stage of intellectual growth the student’s level of comprehension is radically transformed into the level of his master.
So great is this metamorphosis that even the former level of nullification, "you shall serve" - a finite level - is thereby transformed into a level of service that transcends limitation. This level is termed the Festival of Passover, for - as implied by its name - Passover means to transcend, to leap from and break the bonds of the finite, and attain the realm of the infinite.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, pp. 71-76.
The ultimate goal of the exodus from Egypt, when Jews became a nation, was the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. The three names given to the festival which celebrates the exodus - Chag HaMatzos, Z'man Cheiruseinu and Chag HaPesach - correspond to the three stages necessary to achieve the birth of a Torah nation.
In the Torah2 it is called Chag HaMatzos, the Festival of Matzos.
Central Theme Of Pesach
The Jews were not taken out of Egypt simply to free them from slavery, but primarily to receive the Torah, thereby enabling them to fulfill their raison d'?tre of introducing G-dliness into a spiritually barren world. Thus an integral part of the exodus, indeed, its ultimate goal, was the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, as stated:10 "When you have brought out the people from Egypt, you shall serve G-d on this mountain."
A Torah nation means that the very fibre and being of Jews - as individuals11 and as a nation - is Torah;12 everything else is peripheral. Torah and Jew are indivisible and one without the other is unthinkable.
Radical Transformation Of Jews
It needed a radical act on G-d's part to make the hitherto inaccessible within their reach, and a corresponding radical change in the very essence of Jewish identity to be able to accept it. The radical act on G-d's part was the giving of the Torah, when G-d Himself "descended on Mt. Sinai"16 and abolished the division which previously existed between the spiritual and the physical.17 From then on, Torah was "clothed" in physical matters, and G-d's wisdom thus became within human grasp. The radical transformation in Jewish identity was effected by the exodus from Egypt, when the Jewish nation - a Torah nation - was born.
There are three stages in this process of understanding a new concept:
Because the subject is intrinsically beyond his mental ken, the student with his own intellectual abilities cannot grasp it. He must therefore set aside his own ego and be ready to receive the teacher's explanation.
Although the student comprehends only the simplified version suitable to his present maturity of mind, the ultimate goal is for the student to understand the subject with the same depth as does the teacher. He must therefore be ready to transcend the limitations of his own intellectual capacities and reach the teacher's level. Then, eventually, he will be able to fathom the full depths of the concept.21
Process In Acquiring Torah Identity
A process similar to learning a new concept was necessary to give Jews their new Torah identity.
The giving of the Torah wrought an infinitely great change in Jews. No longer would Jews be bound by the innate limits of their finite existence. Because Torah is one with the infinite G-d, so, too, Jews' service in Torah and mitzvos would now transcend the temporal-spatial limits of the finite world.
These three stages are represented by the three names of this festival: Chag HaMatzos, Z'man Cheiruseinu, and Chag HaPesach.
Matzah is "bread of poverty,"28 and poor people are humble and free of arrogance. In contrast to chometz (leaven) which makes the dough rise, matzah is flat, symbolizing selflessness and humility.29 Chag HaMatzos therefore corresponds to the first stage in the birth of the Torah-nation, the acceptance of Torah with total submission.
Z'man Cheiruseinu, the Season of our Freedom, represents the way this submission and service to G-d is assimilated into the very fibre of a Jew - that a Jew is truly free only when occupied in Torah.
Pesach means "leaping over".30 The slavery of Jews in Egypt should have really extended for a longer period of time, both because their exile had a definite time span which had not yet elapsed, and because the Jews did not merit to be redeemed then.31 Yet G-d "leaped over" these considerations and took them out earlier.32 The Jews, in turn, celebrated the first Pesach also by "leaping over"33 - they transcended their innate limitations and reached levels previously inaccessible. Thus the name Chag HaPesach corresponds to the third stage of the "birth": service in Torah and mitzvos transcending the temporal-spatial limits of the world.
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, pp. 71-77
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