By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
As we get ready for Pesach – besides purging the house from chometz, buying the very expensive matzah, and all of the other accoutrements of this very special festival, there is another very important type of preparation that we parents and grandparents need to make and that is preparing ideas and Torah themes to share with our descendants on the seder night. For the seder creates memories like no other time of the year. It is such a wonderful time for the smart parent and grandparent to utilize to make a lasting impact upon their progeny.
Let me share with you one such idea. The Haggadah informs us that Paroh worked the Bnei Yisroel b’forech, with back breaking labor. When Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu to go to Paroh and tell him to let my people go, Moshe responded that the ‘Bnei Yisroel didn’t believe me. How is it possible that Paroh will believe me?’ The Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh points out that this seems to be a flawed fortiori for the Torah tells us that the Bnei Yisroel didn’t listen to Moshe Rabbeinu, “Mi’kotzer ruach umei’avodah kasha – Because of shortness of breath and the harsh servitude.” If so, this reason would certainly not apply to Paroh and therefore Paroh should have listened when he witnessed the three signs of the stick turning into a snake, Moshe’s hand being stricken with leprosy, and the water turning into blood.
The Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh give a fundamental answer. He explains that the Bnei Yisroel didn’t listen because they weren’t Bnei Torah and without the Torah, their souls were in a state of unrest and unease. Rav Koppelman elaborates that it’s not money, gadgets, fancy houses and cars that give the soul a sense of peace. It’s Torah that accomplishes this and without Torah they were too scrambled to absorb what Moshe was saying. This was certainly true of the farshtupteh kup (clogged head) of Paroh.
This idea is oh so important. In yeshivas all over the world bochurim dance to this sentiment, sometimes for over an hour on Simchas Torah, “Toras Hashem temima, meshivas nafesh – The Torah of Hashem is pure, it rejuvenates the soul.” If we want to experience true personal tranquility, it comes from using a lot of our spare time on the sweet study of Torah.
This is also the secret to attaining the universal quest of happiness. The quest for happiness is a multi-trillion dollar industry in America. But,, most people try to achieve happiness by addressing the needs of their bodies. However, sadness and unrest emanate from the soul and therefore if we want to achieve true happiness, we have to zoom-in on what will make the soul happy. And the answer to that is Torah. As the verse says, “Pikudei Hashem yishorim, mesamchei lev – The statutes of the Torah are straight, gladdening the heart,” and we are also taught, “Ein simcha k’simchas haTorah – There is no happiness like the happiness of Torah.”
Another fascinating secret about true happiness is taught to us by the Rambam who reveals, “Ein simcha m’fuarah – There is no more glorious joy than, Lisameiach yesomim v’almonos, aniyim v’geirim – To cause to rejoice orphans and widows, poor people and converts.” This is actually counter-intuitive for we would think that there is joy in taking and not in giving. But, once again, we’re addressing the body and, in truth, the body loves to receive. But, true joy is found in the soul and the soul is a, “Cheilek Elokah mimaal – A sliver of G-d from Above.” So therefore, what makes G-d happy makes the soul happy. And we are taught, “Ma Hu rachum, af attah rachum – Just like He is merciful, you should be merciful, Ma Hu chanun, af attah chanun – Just like He is gracious, you should be gracious.” This is why people can find a true fountain of happiness in helping others.
May it be the will of Hashem that we discover the sweetness of Torah and bequeath in kindness to others and in that merit may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
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