Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How is misery sweet??

Why, hello there bloggers.
Sefardi Gal has finally found the time to blog some more while her husband (!!) is asleep.
Married and all...I'm still an insomiac. Some habits change easily, and others improve slllloooowwwly :D

So, Pesach is coming up.
That's pretty exciting.
If I may share something kind of personal with y'all...this year is particularly very exciting for me because it is what I've been dreaming about for years: A religious home. A kosher seder. Finally. Baruch HaShem, I have the zchut to spend Pesach with my new family - my hubby, may he be blessed.

Being baal'at teshuva and all, it was never easy to properly clean the home, store away chametz, buy kosher for Passover foods, and conduct a seder every year. I always felt a tinge of sadness because I always felt like my chagim were super beautiful and spiritual, yet lonely. Pesach, in particular. Not only in the physical sense - since I didn't really have any religious relative to spend it with, but it was also lonely in a very emotional way. I just wanted a proper, frum seder and yom tov. Not sure if I'm even adequately channeling my feelings into words, but all of you with frum families - please appreciate your families. Appreciate that halacha is being kept and that the Shechina is entering your home. For those of you with not (yet) religious families, appreciate any compromises they make for you and know that one day, you too will have your own holy home.

Now that this post is all emotional, let's get to the good stuff: divrei Torah! (BTW, most of this is taken from last week's Rabbi Wallerstein's shiur at Ohr Naava. I highly recommend it to all!)
Here's an interesting question...


Hm, well that seems like a pretty basic question, no?
Most religious children can answer that because they learn in first grade that we eat charroset because it resembles the cement that the Jews needed to use to make bricks while enslaved by the Egyptians.

Chazal teach us that the Egyptians would demand that the Jews make an unreasonable, nearly unrealistic, amount of bricks per day. Whenever the Jews didn't reach the quota (which was quite often), the Egyptians would use Jewish BABIES as bricks.
HASHEM YIRACHEM! Just imagine how many Jewish babies were killed that way - smashed up with cement, as bricks. Mamash such a cruel, inhumane method to make bricks.

The Shulchan Aruch tells us that the Charosset should be sweet, and preferably, sweet red wine should be used.

Charosset is sweet. YUM. Absolutely delicious. But how does that make sense?! Why are we commemorating the cement, that was used to make bricks, by eating SWEET food? We should be eating bitter foods! The cement and bricks are a horrible memory -- the memory of Jewish babies being murdered! And it's not even like the sweet food is optional - the Shulchan Aruch tells us that charosset should be sweet!
It's almost like eating chocolate when remembering the cruel work that the Nazis made Jews do in the labor camps.
How does that make sense?!

The answer is very deep and beautiful.

There's a midrash that says:
When the Jews were trapped between the sea and the Egyptians, G-d was getting ready to split the sea.
The angel/advocate of the Egyptians came to G-d and said "wait a minute! G-d, how can You kill all of these Egyptians? They're not CHAYAV MITA! (deserving of death) They threw the Jewish babies into the Nile only because Pharaoh commanded them, and if they would've objected, they would be CHAYAVIM MITA because they would've been MORDIM B'MALCHUT (rebelling against authority) - which is punishable by death. They needed to save their own lives. So, the Egyptians do not deserve the drown!"
The Egyptian's angel had a point.
So, what now? How could G-d save the Jews?
The Jews were now at risk to be captured by the Egyptians!

Gavriel, the Jewish people's angel and advocate, ran to Egypt and brought back a brick. He entered the case in Shamayim and told G-d "it is true that the Egyptians weren't guilty of listening to Pharoah when he said throw the babies into the Nile. But when they required the Jews to make quotas of bricks and then used JEWISH BABIES as bricks - that was optional! Pharoah didn't command them to do such an act, and therefore, that cruelty was out of their own free will, and they DO deserve to drown in the sea!"
Gavriel won the case, G-d split the sea, and the Jewish people were saved from the Egyptians!

What a message.
What seemed so terrible, painful, and upsetting -- the Jewish babies getting smashed to death by being used as BRICKS -- ended up being what SAVED the Jewish nation.

People have adversities in life which seem so horrible. Such difficult nisyanot - people passing away, painful encounters, illnesses, etc. and we don't know the reason why. But we must know that there IS a reason for the pain. G-d has a master plan. And that pain can end up saving us in the long run.

That's why we dip the MARROR into the Charosset. The things in life that seem sooo bitter can end up being so sweet. The VERY same difficulty can end up being a huge blessing that can save ourselves, our families, and even all of klal yisrael.

Keep up the Emunah and know that G-d loves you very very very dearly. Klal Yisrael is His "only child." He wants to hold on tight to us and never let go.

May we all receive chizzuk and closeness to HaShem during this Holy month of Nissan, and may we all have the proper kavanot during the seder and throughout the whole chag! Wishing y'all a chag Pesach kasher v'sameach! :)

PS: my Mother gave me a quick and easy charosset recipe. Silan (date honey), crushed walnuts, and some sweet red wine mixed all together.
Yup, it's really that simple. Enjoy your Pesach food!! :)