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PASSOVER Sedar Table ~Matzah Empty PASSOVER Sedar Table ~Matzah

Post  Admin on Thu 21 Mar 2013, 9:06 pm

Seder Table: A Kabbalistic Perspective
A deeper look at matzah, karpas, charoset and more.
by Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov
http://www.aish.com/h/pes/t/si/Seder-Table-A-Kabbalistic-Perspective.html
We call the night's events by the word Seder, which means order. But why is it that everything the Haggadah describes about the Jewish people's deliverance from Egypt – such as the Ten Plagues and the Splitting of the Sea – is anything but natural and orderly?
The Kabbalists explain that all you need to do is take a look at Jewish history to know that for the Jewish people "above the natural order" is the "natural order." Miraculous is the norm.
With this understanding, let’s explore each of the items on the Passover table.
Matzah
Wine
A Seder plate with:
Karpas (celery, cucumber, parsley or potato)
Marror (lettuce or horseradish)
Charoset (apples, nuts, and wine mixture)
Shank bone (Zero’ah)
Egg
Wine
Judaism seems obsessed with wine. At spiritual events – wedding, bris, Shabbat – Judaism includes a cup of wine. Why?
Wine is produced from the material within the grape. It comes from a place that is hidden within, and exemplifies that which is hidden and needs to be brought forth. Likewise, spirituality is hidden in our physical world and needs to be brought forth.
For this reason, the numerical value of the Hebrew word for wine, Yayin, is the same as the numerical value of the Hebrew word for secret, Sod. Wine exemplifies the "secret" of the physical – i.e. the spiritual. Therefore, at any spiritual time or event, Judaism attaches wine in order to bring out the spiritual potential inherent in that event. As the Talmud says, "When wine goes in, the secret comes out."
Karpas
The word Karpas has dual meaning. Karpas has the biblical meaning of a soft colored fabric. However, at the Seder, we have grown familiar with an additional meaning of the word Karpas – a green vegetable.
What is the connection between the fabric Karpas and the vegetable Karpas? And what is the Karpas vegetable doing at the Seder?
Rashi implies the connection by explaining that the special coat of Joseph was made of Karpas, soft colored fabric.
It was the coat of Joseph that began the ultimate descent of the Jewish people into Egypt. When Jacob gave Joseph this special coat, Joseph's brothers were jealous. This led to the brothers selling Joseph to people, who in turn sold him into slavery in Egypt.
Before getting into the main topics of the Seder – i.e. the Jewish people's slavery and redemption – we eat Karpas, which hints to the way we arrived into Egyptian bondage in the first place.
Salt Water
Salt is unique in that it is bitter on its own, yet sweetens and brings out the taste of that which it is added to. For this reason, salt is the staple of suffering.
There are two perspectives of suffering – Purposeless Suffering and Purposeful Suffering.
Purposeless Suffering is suffering without reason, value, or an end-goal, and is therefore completely bitter. It is based on a keyhole view of life: “What is right in front of my eyes is all there is and there is no grander scheme.”
We squint in order to focus on something in the distance.
The Kabbalists explain that for this reason, the reaction of a person in pain is to close his eyes, since physical eyes don't see the spiritual purpose. Just as a person squints, which is a partial closing of one's eyes in order to focus on something in the physical distance, one may close his eyes completely in order to focus on something in the "spiritual distance.”
Purposeful Suffering is sweetened by understanding the greater context – that all is from God and for the best.
At the Seder, we dip the Karpas into saltwater in order to embody the concept of Purposeful Suffering – that we view any suffering in life as a surgery for our ultimate betterment rather than meaningless torture. (Additionally, we dip Karpas into salt water to represent the tears cried by the Jewish people while enslaved under Egyptian rule.)
We see these two sides of salt expressed by the Dead Sea. Due to its high salt concentration, the Dead Sea contains no life within it, yet has an incredible capacity to heal. On its own, the Dead Sea is "bitter," but when a person dips into the Dead Sea, he is "sweetened."
Shank Bone
The shank bone is not eaten at the Seder. Rather it is a reminder of the Passover lamb offering brought during the times of the Temple. The underlying message of this offering can be inferred by its laws:
The Pascal Lamb was to be one year old, with no broken bones, eaten whole and in one house. – all representing the theme of unity and oneness. Thus the Kabbalists explain the Pascal Lamb to be an expression of the unity between God and the Jewish people.
Additionally, the offering was specifically a lamb, since according to the Sages, a lamb's entire body feels the pain of each limb – alluding to the shared destiny of each and every Jew.
Matzah
Matzah is referred to as both the Bread of Freedom and the Bread of Poverty. What does poverty have to do with freedom?
The Kabbalists explain that a poor person is often alone and with nothing. However, in one sense, this snapshot of poverty contains a certain glimpse of freedom: if he has nothing, then he has no attachments holding him down. Similarly, the Sages teach, "To accumulate possessions is to accumulate worries." Or in the vernacular, "More money, more problems."
Taking this to another level, the deepest freedom a person can attain is within oneself – freedom from one's instincts, inclinations, natures, and nurtures – enabling him to be truly capable of making a free choice.
This is the essence of matzah: plain flour and water – without other things added or attached.
Just as it goes into the oven, so too it comes out.
Additionally, the Zohar, the main work of Kabbalah, refers to matzah as "faith food." This is because, unlike chametz which rises on its own, matzah does nothing on its own. All is done by its maker. Just as it goes into the oven, so too it comes out. The message of matzah is that the natural world does not run on its own. Rather, it is all run by its Maker.
This is also the message of the miracles that occurred in the Jewish redemption from Egypt. The Egyptians mistakenly believed that the world ran in accordance with constellations and there was nothing Higher pulling the strings. Interestingly, the Egyptian civilization invented leavened bread – bread that “rises on its own."
Marror – Bitter Herbs
It is well known that the meaning behind Marror is to help us connect to the bitterness of Egyptian slavery. Why, in fact, do the Jews so often find themselves enslaved and constantly kicked around?
In Kabbalah, it is taught that every nation has a ministering angel, an "emissary" from God. Except for the Jewish people, who have God "directly" above them.
When the Jewish people stick with God, there is no way for any other nation to assert its will or rule over them. However, if the Jewish people leave God, they are left with nothing and will inevitably fall under the bitter control of another nation.
Charoset
The Sages give three reasons for eating Charoset:
Charoset, as a pasty substance, commemorates the mortar with which the Jews had to work when building in Egypt.
In Egypt, the Jewish women, believing they would soon be redeemed, would entice their husbands, exhausted and frustrated by the difficult labor, to continue to have children and perpetuate the nation. In Kabbalah, the tapuach fruit (usually translated as apple or citrus) is a reference to femininity. Thus the fruity Charoset brings to mind the righteousness of the women who asserted their femininity in this praiseworthy manner.

Charoset reminds us of blood – either the Jewish blood spilled in Egypt, or the first of the Ten Plagues in which the Egyptians' water was turned to blood.
From these different meanings behind Charoset, it turns out that Charoset is both "bitter" and "sweet" simultaneously. Perhaps this is why the sweet Charoset is eaten with the bitter Marror – on one hand Charoset is a reminder of bitter events, on the other hand it sweetens the bitter Marror.

Egg
During the times of the Holy Temple, the Jewish people would bring a festive offering called the Chagigah. Today, during this ongoing spiritual exile of the Jewish people, we place an egg on the Seder plate instead. The egg is associated with mourning since it is round and, therefore, symbolizes the circle of life. It inspires feelings of both grief and comfort, knowing that we are presently without the Temple and this offering, yet we hope and pray for "Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem!"

During the times of the Holy Temple, the Jewish people would bring a festive offering called the Matzah:
Racing Out of Egypt
Why did God rush us out of Egypt?
http://www.aish.com/h/pes/t/f/Matzah-Racing-Out-of-Egypt.html
by Rabbi Tzvi Nightingale
No time left for you
On my way to better things
No time left for you
I'll find myself some wings
No time left for you
Distant roads are calling me
I got, got, got, got no time
-
The Guess Who
The definitive symbol of Passover is matzah, unleavened bread. The entire baking process of matzah, from the mixing of flour and water to its baking in the oven, must be done in less than 18 minutes, before it can leaven or ferment. Visit a matzah bakery and you will never see Jews move so quickly (except when attacking a Kiddush).
The Haggada teaches us the meaning behind the matzah:
What is the reason for this matza that we eat? Because the dough of our ancestors did not have enough time to become leavened before God revealed Himself to the Jewish people, and redeemed them, as it says (in the Torah), " They baked the dough which they took out of Egypt into matza because it did not rise since they were driven out from Egypt, and they could not linger."
Hence, matzah is associated with the haste and swiftness by which the Jewish nation left Egypt. But why indeed did God have to rush us out of Egypt? We were already there for 210 years. What’s another day or two for us to gather our things together, plan properly for the journey ahead and maybe make a trip to Grodzinski’s Bakery and pick up a rye (with seeds, please) and a danish for the road?
In truth, the manner by which the Jews left Egypt expresses an integral lesson and ingredient of the entire Passover experience of Freedom and Redemption. Haste was a necessary and definitive component of that momentous event and serves as a paradigm for all future Redemptions, both personal and national.
In everyone’s life, at some point or another, events arise without any sign or indication, and even if there is some sort of hint of their arrival, there is still a certain quality of disbelief once they indeed appear. One can plan for a wedding many months in advance, know that a child is to be born for the good part of a year, or on the other end of the spectrum of lifecycle events, know with a degree of certainty that the demise of a loved one is on the horizon. But when it happens, there is a stark and unexpected reality to it that no amount of preparation or prearrangement can ever provide.
These events are so dramatic that they catapult us into new ways of viewing and living our lives. They become such eye-opening and life-changing experiences that alter us so dramatically that sometimes we cannot even relate to the person whom we were prior to their happening. In a very real sense, they are moments of deliverance from a previous life.
This is what Judaism means by geula, redemption. We become redeemed and released from the constricted and limiting lifestyle and worldview that had dominated and defined us previously. In essence, we each leave Mitzrayim (Egypt) – which means the land of limitation and constriction, coming from the word maytzar in Hebrew. We depart the place that squeezes and suffocates the life of all who dwell there. We become free and released, we become a new person.
Matzah is the symbol of redemption because haste is inherent to redemption. No matter how fast or slow redemption happens, it is always too sudden for significant change, by its very nature, is something that we can never fully understand or know until we get there. It is something that we will never be able to anticipate or pretend to understand until it has already arrived. While there may be a build up to it, there is no process to Redemption; it is a momentary happening that alters things forever and happens in a split second. Redemption may come through sorrow and pain or may come through joy, but it is never on time.
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The haste associated with matzah – Passover’s symbol of Redemption - is because the very nature of any Redemption is that surreal, out-of-body, timeless experience where we get carried along by forces far greater than we can ever anticipate, know, fathom or imagine. All we can do is go along for the ride.
This Passover, as we sit around the Seder table with our families and friends and recount the Haggada, when we eat the matzah let us hope and pray that one day soon, the final Redemption will arrive and send us all to great new heights … whether we are ready for it or not.. Today, during this ongoing spiritual exile of the Jewish people, we place an egg on the Seder plate instead. The egg is associated with mourning since it is round and, therefore, symbolizes the circle of life. It inspires feelings of both grief and comfort, knowing that we are presently without the Temple and this offering, yet we hope and pray for "Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem!"
Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov's new book, "The Case for Judaism," is available at Amazon.

Matzah: Racing Out of Egypt
Why did God rush us out of Egypt?
by Rabbi Tzvi Nightingale
No time left for you
On my way to better things
No time left for you
I'll find myself some wings
No time left for you
Distant roads are calling me
I got, got, got, got no time
-The Guess Who
The definitive symbol of Passover is matzah, unleavened bread. The entire baking process of matzah, from the mixing of flour and water to its baking in the oven, must be done in less than 18 minutes, before it can leaven or ferment. Visit a matzah bakery and you will never see Jews move so quickly (except when attacking a Kiddush).
The Haggada teaches us the meaning behind the matzah:
What is the reason for this matza that we eat? Because the dough of our ancestors did not have enough time to become leavened before God revealed Himself to the Jewish people, and redeemed them, as it says (in the Torah), " They baked the dough which they took out of Egypt into matza because it did not rise since they were driven out from Egypt, and they could not linger."
Hence, matzah is associated with the haste and swiftness by which the Jewish nation left Egypt. But why indeed did God have to rush us out of Egypt? We were already there for 210 years. What’s another day or two for us to gather our things together, plan properly for the journey ahead and maybe make a trip to Grodzinski’s Bakery and pick up a rye (with seeds, please) and a danish for the road?
In truth, the manner by which the Jews left Egypt expresses an integral lesson and ingredient of the entire Passover experience of Freedom and Redemption. Haste was a necessary and definitive component of that momentous event and serves as a paradigm for all future Redemptions, both personal and national.
In everyone’s life, at some point or another, events arise without any sign or indication, and even if there is some sort of hint of their arrival, there is still a certain quality of disbelief once they indeed appear. One can plan for a wedding many months in advance, know that a child is to be born for the good part of a year, or on the other end of the spectrum of lifecycle events, know with a degree of certainty that the demise of a loved one is on the horizon. But when it happens, there is a stark and unexpected reality to it that no amount of preparation or prearrangement can ever provide.
These events are so dramatic that they catapult us into new ways of viewing and living our lives. They become such eye-opening and life-changing experiences that alter us so dramatically that sometimes we cannot even relate to the person whom we were prior to their happening. In a very real sense, they are moments of deliverance from a previous life.
This is what Judaism means by geula, redemption. We become redeemed and released from the constricted and limiting lifestyle and worldview that had dominated and defined us previously. In essence, we each leave Mitzrayim (Egypt) – which means the land of limitation and constriction, coming from the word maytzar in Hebrew. We depart the place that squeezes and suffocates the life of all who dwell there. We become free and released, we become a new person.
Matzah is the symbol of redemption because haste is inherent to redemption. No matter how fast or slow redemption happens, it is always too sudden for significant change, by its very nature, is something that we can never fully understand or know until we get there. It is something that we will never be able to anticipate or pretend to understand until it has already arrived. While there may be a build up to it, there is no process to Redemption; it is a momentary happening that alters things forever and happens in a split second. Redemption may come through sorrow and pain or may come through joy, but it is never on time.


The haste associated with matzah – Passover’s symbol of Redemption - is because the very nature of any Redemption is that surreal, out-of-body, timeless experience where we get carried along by forces far greater than we can ever anticipate, know, fathom or imagine. All we can do is go along for the ride.
This Passover, as we sit around the Seder table with our families and friends and recount the Haggada, when we eat the matzah let us hope and pray that one day soon, the final Redemption will arrive and send us all to great new heights … whether we are ready for it or not.
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