Pesach Night Insights

Based on Devarim 22:6-7, we’re instructed that if we happen upon a nest with fledglings or eggs in it, we should send the mother away before taking the birds or eggs. We’re promised, as a reward, a long life. Superficially, it seems we’re talking about showing an extra measure of kindness, not merely avoiding cruelty, by taking the feelings of the mother to heart.

We do, of course, emphasize avoiding cruelty, which, along certain lines, is the basis of kashrut (there are those who convincingly argue that eventually, for a diet to be kosher it will need to be vegan!). There are other mitzvot aimed at kindness, such as supporting widows and orphans, welcoming converts, visiting the sick, accompanying the dead to their graves, regular tithing and other forms of tzedaka (charity), and that is very important, but also should be self-apparent to those of us striving to live a moral life.

Zohar, in general, and the Tikkunim, even more so, rarely repeat general lessons and sentiments we would have learned elsewhere. It was written in order to draw Divine Energy, HaShefa HaKodesh, into the material world we inhabit, for the purpose of providing Am Yisrael, the Jewish People, with the spiritual tools we would need to survive what has been almost 2000 years of exile.

When discussing this verse, Rabbi Shimon first, surprisingly, tells us not to take the word tzippur literally to mean bird, but rather to mean Neshama, not merely a soul, but one of the deepest levels of soul. More specifically, he refers to the Neshamot Tzaddikim, the souls of our holiest people (throughout history, as well as the deepest parts of our own neshamot), and he describes them as those who were constantly and actively engaged in Torah, learning (intellectual attachment to this highest levels of spirit) and  Tefilla, prayer, especially at regular hours).

The point he wants to make is that those who are always engaged in the holy aspects of life, especially at regular times, can count on God, the bird, to constantly hover over them, infusing them with the holy flow of energy. The rest of us, however, who only engage in such practices on an ad hoc, catch as catch can, basis, will occasionally experience the added intensity of being accompanied/protected/instructed by God Himself. But, only once in a while.

He emphasizes that these experiences are transitory and we need to function even when it feels more that we’re on our own. He really points at the danger of becoming a “spiritual addict”, someone who has talked himself into believing he needs a spiritual high at every waking moment in order to not merely be inspired, but merely to live a regular life.

Hopefully, later tonight all of us together, the collective Jewish Nation, Am Yisrael, will experience a great sense of freedom as we, walk out of Egypt as part of of Seder evening. We hope to be freed from the prison of Mitzraim, a narrow and restricted consciousness. We look to experience our greatest high as The Holy One draws each of us close to Him.

But given that we are, for the most part, normal people and not great saints, tzaddikim, we need to prepare for those feelings to pass, to return to normal. Hopefully uplifted and changed, at least a little, forever, but we won’t remain in that “peak state” for long.

I will go farther and say that if we do remain at that level for too long, we should worry and grow suspicious. A constant theme in Torah is that we both rise and then fall. And it is this “wave pattern” that’s both normal and healthy, but also which leads to final revelations and truths. A temporary truth or inspiration, no matter how attractive it feels, will prevent us from further growth if we refuse to let it go when proper. A ladder which carries us to the second floor becomes an anchor which locks us there.

May be all be blessed to experience, personally, God’s direct intervention in our lives, bringing us higher and closer, but let us also have the wisdom and the strength, Gevurah, to go back to our lives. Yes, bringing our new wisdom with us, but not thinking we’d reached the ultimate goal.

Chag Sameach

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7 Responses to Pesach Night Insights

  1. Peter Margolis says:

    One could also make the case that the non-dual absorption into the One of the Shema is followed immediately by a this-world task list in the Ve-Ahavta, creating the balance between the life of the spirit and the life of action that is essential for survival.

  2. Avi L says:

    Beautiful Torah, R. Zeitlin, thank you. A great reminder of our human condition, and how to move through the inevitable ups and downs of life in this world.

  3. Jacques Ruda says:

    Thank you for your insights. Have a kosher and joyous Passover!

  4. says:

    Very good points!!!! Harry. Hope you have a great Pesach. Much much love, Nathan

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