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Rabbi Elimelech Biderman on Pesach 2018 - Part 2/3

Chazal say, “Even if a sharp sword is on one’s neck, don’t lose hope from Hashem’s compassion.”

Rebbe Meir of Dzikev zy’a in Imrei No'am explains that although generally it’s recommended for a person to humbly conceal his good deeds and he shouldn’t publicize them, a parent shouldn’t conceal his good deeds from his children, so they can learn from him. This is the meaning of the passuk (Tehillim 31:20), most of your good deeds, you should conceal. for those who rely on you – who are your children, do your good deeds in front of them so they can learn from you. This idea is alluded to by yachatz. We hide and put away the larger half of the matzah. This implies that we should conceal most of our good deeds. But the children search for and find the afikomon. This is because on the Seder night, when we instill emunah into the children, it is proper to reveal even the half which is generally concealed, so the children can learn from and go in their parent’s ways. On the words "and you will tell your children," Unkelus writes "show your children." We can explain that you should show your children your true levels, so they can learn from you.

Chazal tell us that Hashem keeps the entire Torah. Just as we wear tefillin, so does Hashem (keviyachol). Just as we daven, so does Hashem. Rebbe Yissacher Dov of Belz zt'l said that Hashem also keeps the mitzvah of "and you should tell your children." He teaches His children about yetzias Mitzrayim. We are Hashem's children, so at the Seder Hashem will open our hearts to grasp the wonderful miracles that occurred. And when Hashem is the teacher, we will perceive the lessons of emunah very well.

The Zohar calls matzah food of emunah" and "food of health." "Food of health" is to be taken literal. Matzah heals. Therefore, the roshei teivos of מצ"ה spell מ'כל צ'רה ה'ציליני, “Save me from all troubles.”

The Yismach Yisrael zt'l (Haggadah shel Pesach 78) writes, “Also non-Jewish doctors agree that matzah cures the head. They don’t realize that they are prophesizing, because by eating matzah one merits emunah, and that cures and purifies the brain.”

There’s an element of bad in everyone (which is his primary bad middah, the root of the person's yetzer hara). There’s also an element of good in everyone, as everyone is special and unique in some way. How wonderful it would be if a person could find that good and serve Hashem with it! How much goodness he could do with it! And how purifying it would be if a person could cleanse himself from his drop of bad, which is his primary bad middah and his primary yetzer hara!

A person gets rid of his bad tendency, and develops his good element through (1) contemplation (because one must contemplate to discover his bad and his good); (2) through kabalos tovos, resolutions, geared towards his improvement. And (3) by keeping the mitzvos of chametz and matzah, as these mitzvos symbolizes these concepts.

Once, before Pesach, Reb Eliyahu Dessler zt'l asked a bachur which kabalah tovah he had taken on as a preparation for Pesach. The bachur said that he didn’t take on anything. Reb Dessler told him a mashal: Someone had to go to the one hundredth floor in a skyscraper in Manhattan. He entered the elevator, but he didn’t press any buttons. The doors shut, it turned dark, and he became frightened. He couldn’t see which button to press, so he pressed any button. As it turned out, he pressed the emergency button. The emergency personnel rescued him, and asked, "Which floor did you want to go to?" "The one hundredth floor." "So why didn’t you press that button when you came inside?" He replied, "This is my first time in an elevator, and I couldn’t believe that a small press on a button could lift me up all the way to the hundredth floor. Let me ask your opinion, do you think it’s rational? Walking up to the one hundredth floor takes so much effort, how could it be done by just pressing a button with a finger? So I didn’t press anything." Reb Dessler explained to the bachur that we shouldn’t underestimate small deeds. They seem insignificant, but they accomplish a lot. As in this mashal, one can reach the one hundredth floor with the smallest deed.

One shouldn’t say, "What can a small deed accomplish," because what seems minor to you, generates immense spiritual growth.

When should a person begin this process of change? There is no time like the present. Don’t wait another day. Begin today. Set aside time for contemplation, find your primary good and bad points, and make resolutions towards acquiring the good and banishing the bad. The Beis Yisrael (of Gur) zy’a said the following explanation on the Haggadah: perhaps a person will say that he will begin improving his ways on Rosh Chodesh (or some other special holy day). The Haggadah answers, begin on that day. Whichever day it is, it’s an ideal time for beginning the process of teshuvah. The Haggadah asks, perhaps I should wait for at least a bright moment in the day? The Haggadah answers, even when you have maror in front of you, and everything is bitter, that is also an ideal time when you should begin anew. The Beis Yisrael zt'l said this explanation at his first Seder post-holocaust, at a time when Klal Yisrael had to start anew. He was encouraging himself and others to begin rebuilding Torah Jewry immediately, today, and not to push it off for better times. Similarly, we are encouraging everyone to find that drop of good in them, and to banish that point of bad in them, and to do so with small steps. And there is no time like the present to begin

A person should never claim, "Now, for Hashem's sake, I must become angry…" or "I must become arrogant, for Hashem’s honor." Avoid using them for Hashem's service. Chametz also hints to anger, for an angry person naturally fills his heart with extra air. The prohibition against chametz, therefore, is a hint that we should cleanse ourselves from arrogance and anger. Matzah doesn’t have any air at all, as it bakes before it grows. Therefore, matzah represents humility and tranquility and shalom, the opposite traits of chametz.

Every year everyone has the potential to leave behind his bad and to become attached to holiness, no matter which level he’s on.

The Beis Aharon zt’l (Pesach p.85:) writes, “When one serves Hashem with truth, one can gain a lot from the Sedarim, both physically and spiritually. The Seder isn’t solely for people on high, lofty levels. It’s for every Jew on his level. One must believe this, and rouse the heart to teshuvah to come close to Hashem.”

The Shaalos v'Teshuvos min HaShamayim (71) states, "Be stringent [to be clean from chametz on Pesach] with all their laws and details, and whoever spends a lot of time with these matters, he will be granted long life."

Every home uses more or less the same type of matzos, as they are all made from the same recipe - flour and water and nothing else. When it comes to challah, every home uses a different recipe. Some use sweet challos, some eat egg challos, and so on. This suggests that on Pesach, everyone is the same: resha’im, tzaddikim, people of high levels, people of low levels, they are all equal in the sense that they can all gain from the Seder.

The name of the holiday פסח, which literally means to jump, also indicates that on his holiday one can jump away from his bad deeds, and rise to levels he couldn’t reach throughout the year.

Although we strive to make the Seder the best we can, you should know that even if it doesn’t turn out well as you desired, and you’re brokenhearted because of that, it’s possible that your Seder was extraordinary due to your broken heart. And the story is also a reminder for all the humble people, who feel distant from holiness that due to your humility, your Seder will be an extremely special Seder.

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