Passover Message 5775

Moshe Ben-Chaim

God not only “freed” us from the Egyptian bondage, but He also “saved” us, “redeemed” us and “took” us to Him. Much more can be said of these four kind acts, which are praised with our four cups of wine. God then elevated us above all other nations with His gift of the Torah. His design of man with intellect, teaches that this is our purpose: to engage in studying God through His creations and His Torah. 

Sharing Torah knowledge has always been the core of and the Jewishtimes. As best as I can, I have labored to bring to your hearts a profound appreciation for Torah’s brilliance. This is achieved by detecting God’s clues in His written words, and toiling to uncover their precise, intended meaning. When we grasp the questions and then the answers that perfectly fit, we are astonished. And this is clearly God’s plan, that questions are crafted into Torah’s words, which also contain paths to the answers. This system engages the mind. 

However, often times, people and teachers pass off Torah as cute tidbits, abundant quotes, or obvious notions. And although these might all be true, this is not to be compared with what I call true Torah study and knowledge. True study, is when we are fiercely loyal to God’s words, without projecting our own notions not demanded by God’s words. Yes there are many ideas we can squeeze into a pasuk (verse) but as a wise Rabbi said, “What MUST you say?” Meaning, “What are the ideas demanded by the verse?” We can say many ideas, but as each pasuk is unique, each pasuk must be driving at a new and unique insight. And as far as I am concerned, if an idea doesn’t make you pause and think, “Wow, that’s interesting”, then you have not uncovered the intent in that pasuk. Certainly, as the Author of Torah also created the billions of galaxies, microscopic particles, the intricate human body, the brain, and global natural laws that amaze us, His Torah lessons too must carry the same brilliance. So let us not simplify Torah, and not be satisfied with anything less than that. 

In this issue, (“Matza”) we discussed the problem of why the Jews rolled the dough in their garments, and also carried it on their shoulders during the Exodus. These are seemingly odd and unnecessary facts! We also learned of Ibn Ezra’s observation, that Moses’ staff was omitted from 3 plagues, and that Aaron performed 3 plagues alone. Why was this? The answers are found in the verse verses.

In the Torah’s precise and exact words, God encoded many messages for us. And only through patient study and thought, will we arrive at God’s lessons. Quick answers for the mere sake of removing the question, is not learning. In fact, we should treasure the question, for God wrote the Torah precisely in order that careful study presents questions!

I mention all this, since I have not stressed this in so few words. It is only the person who is demanding and particular in his or her study, someone desirous of understanding Torah’s nuances and oddities, who will realize astonishing answers. But one with no questions, loses out on discovering the Torah’s marvels.

We live once. The best life is lived by those who learn. And God’s Torah design is such that the dedicated student of Torah at any age will be blessed with the continued discovery of greater and greater insights. These new ideas set one’s curiosity on fire to delve even further.

Use the holiday to take time off from work. Plan time to study with a teacher, a family member or friend. And may we all realign ourselves with a greater attachment to Torah in both time, and diligence, so like the great Prophets and Rabbis, we enjoy life as God designed us, benefitting us here with thoroughly enjoyable insights, and in the next world with eternal life. 

“If you seek it [Torah] like silver, and search for it like buried treasures. Then you will understand the fear of God, and the knowledge of God will you find. For God gives wisdom; from His mouth are knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:4-6).”  Here too, we see King Solomon’s method of cryptic writing…he mimics God’s method, which generates questions through nuances. The Lessons:  1) You must value Torah like wealth. For only then are you compelled to chase it. 2) But even when you don’t have sufficient clues and the answers evade you, like a undiscovered buried treasure, keep searching. 3) The King then explains the reason why we must search and why it is hidden, for it emanates from God, who is subtle, and deep. 4) But as His mouth – the written Torah – is available, study it. His articulations will guide you to great treasures!

Chag Sameach!