Passover Message

Passover Message from Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Blumenfeld

 Yeshive Neveh Zion, March 28, 2007

Dear Alumni and Friends,

I have written two emails to you about freedom. But I feel I owe you a postscript. So here goes. This Shabbos is Shabbos Hagadol. The Maharal explains that the Shabbos before Yom Hakippurim is called Shabbos Tshuva because the goal and purpose of Yom Hakippurim is teshuva. If so, the Maharal explains this Shabbos is called Shabbos Hagadol because the goal and purpose of Pesach is greatness…gadlus! I would venture to say that the greatness of a person is defined by his ability to overcome the temptation to do what he feels like and choose to do what is right and what he really wants. Freedom defines the greatness of man.

At the very beginning of the seder we invite guests to join us. Hopefully this was actually done before Yom Tov, but the Haggadah announces, “all who are hungry come…” since this invitation is an essential aspect of the seder. We could ask, why? There is a mitzvah to invite guests and the poor every Yom Tov and Shabbos as well. Why is Pesach special? I heard from Rav Noach Weinberg, shlita at his seder an answer which in a nut shell recaps our definition of freedom. He explained that a slave has no property or possessions. “What a slave possesses is owned by his master.” When a slave becomes a free man he can now acquire property. What he does with his possessions will determine whether or not he retains the freedom he has just acquired. If he shares them with others and is not selfish, he will remain a free man. But if he is selfish and hordes them to himself, he will inevitably become a slave to his property. A workaholic is not a free man. Neither is one who neglects his spiritual quests, family or health for his possessions. We invite guests and say with meaning that all who are hungry should join us because sharing with others what we possess is essential for the freedom we are trying to achieve on the eve of Pesach.

There is one other application of this principle that I had thought of myself and would like to share with you. The word “seder” means an organized order. Why is the seder called a “seder”? Next to manishtana, the favorite among the children is to sing the kadesh, urchatz, karpas. We are actually announcing the order of the seder. What other mitzvah do we begin by announcing the order of events to come? It would seem that order or seder has special role in acquiring freedom. Let’s think. A slave has no order to his day. He is at the mercy of his master who will tell him exactly what he wants him to do. He himself has no order or priorities. Not so a free man. With freedom we can organize our lives with goals and priorities. Not only can we, but we must if we wish to retain freedom. If we have goals, and an organized order of how to achieve them; if we have priorities and organize our life to reach them, then and only then are we free men. For one who has no goals, priorities or order to his life inevitably becomes a slave to his instinctive drives and laziness. Perhaps this explains the pivotal role of seder in the seder.

Here in Neveh we will be sharing the Yom Tov with some 35 talmidim who have remained in Eretz Yisrael for Pesach. Please accept this email as a personal wish to each and every one of you and your families for a chag kasher v’sameach. May we all be worthy to struggle to achieve the inner meaning of freedom and may Hashem grant us true cheirus. If not this year, may we all celebrate together next year chag ha’Pesach in Yerushalayim!


Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Blumenfeld

Mashgiach, Yeshiva Neveh Zion

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