Printed from NYHebrew.org

The Kabbalah of a Bar-B-Q

Friday, 11 January, 2019 - 10:38 am

(adapted from Rabbi Y. Jacobson)

This Shabbat we read about the way in which the Jewish People were to prepare their meal eaten on that memorable night on which they discovered liberty - their Exodus from Egypt. They were commanded: “You shall eat the Passover offering on that night, roasted on the fire . . . Do not eat of it roasted in a pot, or cooked, or boiled in water; only roasted on the fire." (Exodus 12:8-9)

It seems uniquely strange that G‑d, creator of heaven and earth, would choose the roast and reject the sauté for the Passover offering. Does G‑d really care if you cook, boil or sauté the Passover offering meat? What message lies behind this peculiar mitzvah?

The basic difference between cooking and roasting is, that while in cooking (or boiling or sautéing) the food is prepared via a combination of both fire (or heat) and water (or other liquids), roasting only employs fire as the means to heat the food.

In Jewish mysticism, fire represents upward striving, yearning, passion, tension and restlessness, while water symbolizes satiation, containment, tranquility, fulfillment and calmness.

What type of life ought one to strive for? Should we yearn for a journey of ceaseless ambition and fervor, or for an existence of tranquility and gratification? 

One would imagine that freedom is achieving that state in which we are cleansed from all the tension, yearning and longing. "Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams and I will show you a happy man."

This mitzvah teaches us quite the opposite. On the very night when Israel embraced the blessing of freedom, it simultaneously learnt that the Passover freedom offering could not be prepared with even one drop of water, only through direct contact with fire. Why?

Freedom is the ability to be truly and fully human. And to be human is to be restless. Created in the image of G‑d, our horizons are forever extending. Our lack of satiation is not reflective of our lowly nature; on the contrary, it reflects our greatness. A human being always senses that there is much more to life, to reality, to truth, and he/she yearn for it.

Let us constantly look to add, never being complacent, and not allowing our lives to remain status quo. That is a true Kabbalistic Bar-B-Q!

Shabbat Shalom,

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