Pesach Pain and Liberation

Nov 17, 2014
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by Rabbi Yitzchak Hirshfeld – Rosh Yeshiva Shapell’s

We are truly an abnormal people. Pain and suffering are an essential element of our national history. Foretold to our father Abraham and accompanying us to this very day, gloom and doom seem to be the constants of our existence. Here we are with yet another Pesach approaching (some would say all too quickly). Pesach the season of our redemption – does it do anything but remind us of how unredeemed we are? On the one hand the butcher of Baghdad can make grown men grovel without even having to grace us with a hostile glance. On the other hand those who observe Torah and mitzvot in Israel are the object of an intensified campaign of hatred and vilification on the part of the mass media . (There’s probably no connection). What are we to learn? Exile and pain are necessary to correct the imbalance which exists between spirit and matter. Somehow, and it seems no matter how hard we try, the material always seems to get the upper hand. The antidote…?

However, Harav Gedaliah Schorr, zt”l, in Ohr Gedalyahu makes a significant point – the pain need not be externally applied. There is a substitute – the effort we expend, the toil invested in seeking to understand the depths of Torah; the spiritual exertion of performing mitzvot conscientiously.

However, Harav Gedaliah Schorr, zt”l, in Ohr Gedalyahu makes a significant point – the pain need not be externally applied. There is a substitute – the effort we expend, the toil invested in seeking to understand the depths of Torah; the spiritual exertion of performing mitzvot conscientiously. If we can right the imbalance on our own who needs Sadam Hussein anyway?

But wait a minute? I thought this was Darche Noam – pleasantness, harmony… Judaism that feels good… if it hurts you’re not doing it right…

Superficial thinking! Of course, just because something hurts doesn. t make it right. But just ask our alumni who get up at 5 o’clock each morning to learn for an hour before Shacharit and a full day at the office (not to mention their wives). And ask the talmid chacham who drives himself to his limits to figure out why the Rambam really isn’t contradicting himself and/or the gemara. Or the eshet chayil who must juggle family and job and chesed and never seems to get enough sleep. It is painful – but it is a pain which liberates the neshama – and nobody is happier and more at peace than a person with a liberated neshama. This is what the exodus from Egypt is all about. Choose your challenge, choose your source of pain – Egypt or Mount Sinai. Choose life!

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