Pesach: Next Year in the Land of Israel
Monday, April 06, 2009
I should write a guide to Pesach cleaning while keeping your Shalom Bayis (harmony in the home) in tact. Thank G-d, despite the stress, we’ve been doing okay. I’ve found a few rules to cleaning for Pesach to be in order, if one wishes to have successful Shalom Bayis and a chametz-free house. My wife and I have been following these guidelines for five years now, and we’re still married.
1) Always have a rav who knows you, to go to in case of any disagreements. And you both agree to do what he says.
2) Only the man of the house has the right to invoke any extra stringencies. Usually, it’s in the woman’s hands. But over the past 3300 years, women have abused this right over Pesach, putting untold pressure on themselves and their families for no apparent reason.
3) During the weeks leading up to Pesach, the wife should stay away from other women. Women talk. Comparisons are made. Women stress. Women then say silly halachos or stringencies that don’t exist and cause other women to worry.
4) Never believe any halacha or stringency that you (the wife) heard from a woman.
5) Never believe any halacha or stringency that you heard from a Bal Tshuvah (somebody who became religious), unless they have been religious for 10 years and lived a normal lifestyle.
6) Never believe ANYTHING from a woman bal tshuvah.
7) You might be wondering why this is all leaning against women. So, to make it fair I’ll list something for men… don’t call your wife fat.
There. That sums it up. My wife just read this and endorses it fully. If you follow these seven simple steps, you’ll have good Shalom Bayis. It’s as simple as that.
Okay, on to Torah!“This is the bread of affliction… Next year in the land of Israel”
Our current exile is much different than the one we experienced in Egypt. In Egypt, Pharaoh ruled over us. We were forced to do heavy labour and were in a physical and spiritual bondage. Yet, today, we look around at our exile, and can’t exactly see the bondage and suffering that the word “exile” connotes. In fact, Jews are doing rather well for a people in exile. Thank G-d, most people are doing well financially, despite the economic situation, we have homes and our tables are full of food. In fact, chances are, this year you’re having guests or are being a guest at somebody else’s home. Thankfully, as the host, you can afford it.
Then why is it, being so close to the redemption, that Hashem has arranged it so differently from that in Egypt?
The Malbim, in Eretz Chemda, supplies us with a parable to answer this:
A king (of course) had an only son (of course), but the boy only did what he felt like doing. Eventually, his father decided upon strong discipline. He evicted him from the palace, and sent him to a faraway land, where he had him sold into hard labour. When the boy’s masters laid their heavy burdens on him, and he was breaking under the strain, he began to send tear-soaked letters to his father, begging him to redeem him. He promised that if his father would let him come home, he would mend his ways, and not be an embarrassment to him anymore. The king felt for his son, and mercifully redeemed him, allowing him back into the palace.
As time passed, though, the son forgot his painful experience and again turned to evil. The king sold him into hard labour a second time. Again, from the faraway land, the son sent sad letters, pleading that his father forgive him and buy him back from his oppressors. Again, the son promised that he would not return to his evil lifestyle.
The king thought to himself, “Maybe he regrets his sinful behaviour only because he is suffering. But when he will be ridden of his suffering he probably will return to evil.”
What did the king do? He sent a messenger to free the boy, but it was to remain a secret that the money had come from the palace. This was to serve as a test of his son’s heart. If after being freed he would continue to beg to be allowed back home, even though he was no longer being oppressed, it would be a sign that he really intended to mend his ways, and he was seeking the closeness of his father and his home. On the other hand, if he would forget his father and his home, the king would disown him forever.
We begin our Seder with “This is the bread of affliction that our forefathers ate in Egypt”. After all, we were being serious afflicted. Thank G-d, today our exile isn’t about physical affliction. And even so, we say, “Next year in Eretz Yisroel!” True, we are not suffering physically, but still, we yearn to be close to the King.
May we merit that this Seder be the last Seder in exile. May we use Seder night to show our desire to become close to Hashem no matter how much or how little we are suffering. Next year, may we be in Eretz Yisroel. Both physically and spiritually.
Have a meaningful Pesach!
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