Printed from NYHebrew.org

Rabbi's Corner

Just a Little Push

We’re just 7 days away from the “big night”. Next week at this time, millions of Jews across the globe will re-experience and internalize the Divine revelation of the Exodus. The minutes and moments of the seder are magical and potent. They carry in them blessings; the magnitude of which we cannot fathom. 

Sounds a little overwhelming? Will my evening truly be transformative and other-worldly? How can “little me” – a Jew who is not really that observant or Jewishly educated – expect to be internalize the grandeur and holiness of the evening? 

The Talmudic story might give us the answer: 

Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa once saw a huge stone which he wished to donate to the Temple. The stone was too big for him to move by himself and he could not afford to hire laborers to help him move it. Suddenly he had a vision. “Push the stone with your little finger”, he heard G‑d call to him. And so Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa pushed the stone. Miraculously he watched as angels helped him move the stone to the Temple. 

What is the lesson of this story? Whenever a task or process seems overwhelming or too big it is worthwhile to remember the following: All G‑d asks is that we push with our little finger. We have the ability to tap into the infinite, we just have to "open the door" and do our best. 

And when we do, we will find ourselves succeeding beyond our wildest dreams. With the help from Above, we are able to accomplish far more than we ever could by ourselves. However, we have to make that first move, even if it is only a little push, to tap into the infinite, to bring down the Divine blessings into our everyday lives. 

And so, as we set forth on this week leading to Passover and we attempt to prepare ourselves to internalize the magic of the evening, let’s give a push with our finger and take the first step. True, we might not be able to learn, appreciate, or understand the depth, meaning, and richness of every facet of the seder. But if we spend just a little bit of time this week allowing the message of the holiday to sink in; if we do our little part - G‑d will do the rest and bestow upon us, at the seder, His infinite blessings just as He did ”in those days and this time”.

I encourage you to do some independent study: www.nyhebrew.org/passover

You’ll find stories and insights, videos and audio classes, and much more. 

May the words we uttered at the conclusion of last year’s seder come true and we be “this year in Jerusalem”! 

Gillie and our children join me is wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

Every Crumb... Matters...

With Passover just two weeks away, preparations are in full swing!  I'm thinking about when to schedule the annual Passover car cleaning, including uninstalling the car seats and cleaning them. We always find plenty of crumbs and other treasures under and inside the seats.

At times I ask myself, why am I doing this?  Does every crumb really matter? But I know that when we're done, we'll enjoy the special feeling of a spotless car and the knowledge that our hard work paid off.  

On a spiritual level, Passover is a time of inner freedom and spiritual growth. Even the smallest crumb can be an obstacle to growth and needs to be removed. The work is hard and at times tedious, but the result a “cleaner” me, ready to climb to new heights.

How are your Passover preparations going?

Shabbat Shalom,

P.S. Click here to read all about Passover.

The Infinite Value of a Single Deed . . .

As we conclude the book of Exodus, we read of Moses presenting a detailed account of the donations contributed for the construction of the Temple. Down to the very last piece of silver and copper that came into his hands, not a single coin remained unaccounted for.

There is a simple but very moving message here. In the biblical perspective, there is no contribution in life that is not worthy of being accounted for. Every deed counts; every word, each gesture must be reckoned with. No contribution is too small to be counted and valued.

For Moses the single silver or copper coin contributed by the poor man, the tiny bracelet or earring contributed by an individual woman, must be counted with equal sincerity and passion. Why? Because in Judaism there is no such thing as a small, insignificant act. Every moment contains the promise of eternity; every deed changes the world.

Moses understood the infinite value of a single deed of grace - of one mitzvah. 

There was once a poor Scottish farmer whose name was Fleming. One day, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby marsh. He dropped his tools and ran to the swamp. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.

"I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life." "No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family shack. "Is that your son?" the nobleman asked. "Yes," the farmer replied proudly.

"I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of." And that he did. Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated with honors from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London. In 1928 he discovered that certain bacteria cannot grow in certain vegetable molds and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill.

His son's name? Sir Winston Churchill.

Look what can come from one single deed.

Shabbat Shalom,

 

 

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.