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Spiritual Growth for Jews

Pesach In A New Light

Posted on | April 4, 2008 | By Rabbi Moshe Zionce | Comments Off

This week’s parsha, Tazria discusses a mother giving birth. There is a great irony in the birth of a child. The mother is one with the embryo before birth. Physically, a closer bond could never be attained between two. However, at birth, when the infant emerges and mother and child are physically separated, the love intensifies and there is an even greater bond than before. The irony is; through the separation is a stronger union. This new connection can be referred to as a union “face to face.”

The gemarah (Eruvin 18a) explains that Adam and Chava (Eve) were first created as one being, back to back. Hashem separated the two in order to achieve a greater union face to face.

In the deeper wisdom, the back represents the side of negativity. It is the side of darkness where light does not shine. It is a lack of revelation (expressions can only be seen on a face, not a back) and it is the place of filth. Negative energy is referred to as the sitra acher, the forces of the back.

Hashem separated Adam and Chava. In doing so, He created their back, great negativity. The sacrifice, however, was for a greater good. It was in order to attain an eventual, superior union face to face.

The Arizal elucidates that a soul before birth is created back to back. It is explained that a zivug (one’s soul mate) is half of one soul, separated into two, male and female. It seems that, like Adam and Chava, one is attached to his zivug in Heaven back to back. At birth, the two are separated and a virtual back is created. This is the negativity the couple experiences through separation in this world. However, all the uncertainty and anguish is for a greater good. It is in order to have the exalted relationship of face to face under the chuppah.

I would like to suggest this is all a parable for the ultimate relationship in life, our relationship with Hashem. We too were one with Hashem before birth. The soul is a part of Hashem above. Perhaps, our attachment to Hashem on high was like a back to back relationship. Our soul is separated from Hashem and plunged into this lowly world. It is only through the back, the darkness and pain of this world that we can achieve the supreme, ecstatic union of face to face with our Creator.

This is the challenge of Parshas Hachodesh (the Torah portion of the new moon read this Shabbos). The moon only shines in the night sky after it experiences great darkness. A crescent blossoms into a complete sphere. This is the Jew. Through the darkness he shines most magnificently. The non-Jewish calendar is exclusively a solar calendar. A solar year is called a shana. In Hebrew, shana means old. However, our calendar is also based on lunar months. A month in Hebrew is a chodesh. It means new. The Jewish people, like the moon, are always reinvigorating and becoming stronger and brighter than they were previously.

This is the message of Pesach. One can only complete the hagadah when the matzah and marror (bitter herbs) are before him (Pesachim 115b). His mouth can only be full of song through the recitation of Hallel (praises to Hashem) on the Pesach night, when there is a constant reminder of the darkness of Egypt. This is the breaking of the glass at a wedding. This is the plight of a baal teshuva. The apparent negativity and distance is not simply a reminder. It is an integral component of growth. It is this very darkness that yields the greatest simcha. This is Pesach. It is the back to back union transformed into a face to face relationship through the birth of the Jewish people into a nation.

Good Shabbos,

R’ Moshe Zionce

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