Zucchini Caviar from Beyond the Sea — koolkosherkitchen

Tzar Ivan the Terrible was a cruel tyrant. Everybody knows that. And just like many things that “everybody knows” and thus nobody questions, the sobriquet “Terrible” should be taken with a grain of salt. Since we are in the middle of Pesach (Passover), I recommend Kosher for Passover Red Sea Salt. True, he did accidentally kill his son […]

via Zucchini Caviar from Beyond the Sea — koolkosherkitchen

(Philosophy Poem) Stay Out Of Hell

(STAY OUT OF HELL)

 

Our Souls all came from the Light Above

The Fire Below is where we don’t want to be

Here on the Land we act as though we are free

We say what we will and we do what we want

We answer only to ourselves or maybe the Police

 

We work with our mind and hands ever how we choose

The History of Man is a history of O’ so many mistakes

Forbidden Fruit and listening to the Hissing of a Snake

We live our life as thought it is our own to take or keep

Life was given a Soul, with it, what is it that we have made

 

The last Plague in Egypt was saturated in the first borns blood

The Passover was never some form of random Angelic mistake

Life and Freedom have always never ever been free to partake

The Cross was drenched in The First Born’s Blood as it had to be

His Blood was required for us to be able to stay out of Hell you see

10 Facts about Pesach Sheini every Jew needs to know

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHABAD.ORG)

 

1. Pesach Sheni Means “Second Passover [Sacrifice]”

In Temple times, Jews spent Passover in Jerusalem. On the afternoon before the holiday, they sacrificed a lamb or kid, referred to as the Korban Pesach (Passover Sacrifice) to eat during their Seder that evening. If someone was unable to participate in the Passover offering at the proper time, they would offer the sacrifice a month later.

Read: The Second Passover

2. It Was Initiated by the People

One year after the Exodus, the People of Israel celebrated their first Passover as free people. Some, however, had become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, and could not, therefore, prepare the Passover offering on that day. They complained to Mosesand Aaron, “Why should we be deprived, and not be able to present G‑d’s offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel?”1

In response to their plea, G‑d established the “Second Passover” (Pesach Sheni) for anyone who was unable to bring the offering at its appointed time.

Read the Original Narrative in the Torah

3. It Is Observed on 14 Iyar

The second Passover sacrifice was offered on Iyar 14, exactly a month after the rest of the Jewish people had sacrificed their Paschal lambs in Jerusalem. Though Iyar 14 did not have the status of a festival or holiday, we commemorate the offering on the same day that it was sacrificed, not on the evening after, when it was actually eaten, which would be Iyar 15.

Read: Why Celebrate Iyar 14 and Not 15

4. The Second Passover Was Eaten With Matzah and Bitter Herbs

Like the primary Passover offering, the lamb of the Second Passover was to be roasted over fire and eaten on the eve of the 15th, together with matzah (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs). The other mitzvahs and rituals of the Seder, however, were not observed.2

5. It Could Be Eaten With Chametz in the Home

The Second Passover only concerned the sacrificing of the Paschal Lamb. There was no obligation, however, to purge one’s home from chametz. Another difference between the two Passovers was that Psalms of Praise (Hallel) were said during the consumption of the first Passover offering (as we do today during the Seder) but not while eating the lamb on Pesach Sheni.3

Read: What Is Hallel?

6. The Second Passover Was Even for Willful Offenders

The Torah states that the Second Passover was principally for those who had been impure or distant from Jerusalem (15 mil away4) on the morning of Nisan 14. But anyone else who neglected to bring the sacrifice the first time around could make amends on Pesach Sheni, even those who did not have a good excuse.5

7. Today We Eat Matzah

In our post-Temple reality, there is no Passover sacrifice, and, until Moshiach comes, Pesach Sheni has lost its primary function. Nevertheless, Jews around the world still celebrate this meaningful day by eating some matzah (but not bitter herbs).

Pesach Sheni is also marked by the omission of Tachnun (prayers of penitence) from the day’s service.

Read All About Eating Matzah on Pesach Sheni

8. It Is an Independent Holiday

Although it is called the Second Passover, Pesach Sheni is actually a distinct sacrifice in its own right. This plays out in a fascinating law:6

If a person converts to Judaism (or a minor who was not part of a Passover offering and then becomes bar/bat mitzvah) during the month between the first and second Passovers, he or she must bring the sacrifice on Pesach Sheni. If Pesach Sheni were only a catch-up for those who missed the first round, why would the convert need to bring the sacrifice? They lacked nothing, since they were not Jewish at the time. Rather, Pesach Sheni is an independent mitzvah—an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Read: How to Convert to Judaism

9. It Was Once Called “Minor Passover”

This date is universally referred to as Pesach Sheni. In the Mishnah, however, it is referred to as Pesach Katan (“Minor Passover”).7

What Is Mishnah?

10. The Lesson: It’s Never Too Late

Pesach Sheni is an extraordinary mitzvah. G‑d legislated it only after a group of Jews, impure ones at that, sincerely demanded a second chance. The lesson for us is clear: No matter how far we may wander, or how impure we may become, G‑d will pave the way for us if we sincerely want to make amends.

In the same way, says the Rebbe, we must cry, plead, and even demand that G‑d bring Moshiach and the Final Redemption. Just like the impure Jews of old were not afraid to ask for the opportunity to become closer to G‑d, neither should we.

Read a Transcript of the Rebbe’s Talk

FOOTNOTES
4.

mil is a bit less than a kilometer. Fifteen mil is the distance one could walk at an average pace to Jerusalem, beginning at sunrise and arriving there by noon, in time to bring the sacrifice. Anyone farther away than that is considered to be at a distance.

7.

Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah 1:3.

Poway Chabad rabbi had asked border patrol agent to pray armed – just in case

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)
(GUN SAVES MANY LIVES. Taking guns away from honest people only serves one purpose, making them easier targets for the bad guys to kill, rob and rape!)—(oldpoet56)

Poway Chabad rabbi had asked border patrol agent to pray armed – just in case

Agent Jonathan Morales had been driving 3.5 hours to attend services after recently discovering his Jewish roots

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein speaks at a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, April 28, 2019, in Poway, California. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein speaks at a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, April 28, 2019, in Poway, California. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

POWAY, California — Jonathan Morales, an armed off-duty US Customs and Border Patrol agent who recently discovered his Jewish roots, was among the worshipers at Chabad of Poway on Saturday when John Earnest entered the synagogue near San Diego during Passover services and began shooting.

The 19-year-old gunman killed Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and wounded three people: Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 8-year-old Noya Dahan and her uncle, Almog Peretz.

“Morales recently discovered his Jewish roots. He would travel three and a half hours from [the California town of] El Centro to pray with us at our shul,” Goldstein told media at a Sunday press conference outside the synagogue. “He felt this was his house of worship. And many times I said, ‘Jonathan, you work for the border patrol. Please arm yourself when you are here; we never know when we will need it.’”

US President Donald Trump spoke with Goldstein on Sunday and took to Twitter to praise the rabbi and Morales, writing: “He may have been off duty but his talents for Law Enforcement weren’t!”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Sincerest THANK YOU to our great Border Patrol Agent who stopped the shooter at the Synagogue in Poway, California. He may have been off duty but his talents for Law Enforcement weren’t!

38.5K people are talking about this

As for why there weren’t any active duty guards at the synagogue, in an earlier interview with CNN Goldstein said, “Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to have an armed security officer at every service, so whenever we had extra help, we were grateful for it.”

In a moment that Goldstein referred to as “miraculous,” Earnest’s gun jammed, and congregant Oscar Stewart, a 51-year-old Army veteran, and Morales attempted to subdue the gunman. Morales was also able to open fire and give pursuit.

Suspected San Diego shooter John Earnest (YouTube screenshot)

After Earnest fled the building, Morales followed in his own vehicle and shot and hit Earnest’s car. Earnest soon turned himself in to law enforcement.

On Sunday, Goldstein, his two hands in fresh blue bandages, gave a detailed recounting of Saturday’s harrowing shooting in Poway, a suburban town just north of San Diego.

“I was preparing for my sermon, I walked out of the sanctuary and into the lobby and I saw my dear friend Lori Kaye,” said Goldstein. “I walked into the banquet hall to wash my hands, walked two or three footsteps and I heard a loud bang.”

That bang was the sound of the first shots fired by Earnest, a college student who entered the Chabad House undetected amid a flow of mourners who were gathering for Yizkor, the traditional memorial service held on the final day of Passover.

Volume 90%

“I turned around and saw something indescribable,” Goldstein continued. “Here is a young man standing with a rifle pointing right at me. He had sunglasses on. I couldn’t see his eyes, I couldn’t see his soul.”

The rabbi said that when he saw the shooter he initially froze, then raised his hands to cover his face. Two of his fingers were blown off; one was reattached by surgeons at Palomar Medical Center in San Diego late Saturday.

Gilbert-Kaye, whom relatives and friends on Saturday described as a woman of unconditional love and unbounded generosity, was the only fatality of Earnest’s mass shooting.

Lori Gilbert-Kaye. (Facebook)

Goldstein took several minutes to thank San Diego County law enforcement and to praise the wellspring of warmth and support that the local community has offered in light of the tragedy.

A chain of miracles

In a remarkable series of events, the rabbi and a handful of congregants were able to save a group of children playing in the adjacent banquet hall, preventing a full-fledged massacre.

“I ran [to gather the children],” Goldstein says. “My granddaughter, who is four and a half years old, saw her grandpa with a bleeding hand. She saw me shouting, ‘Get out! Get out!’ She didn’t deserve to see her grandfather like that.”

Aided by Peretz, an Israeli war veteran who was also at Chabad of Poway with his family Sunday, Goldstein was able to usher the children out of the banquet hall with the shooter in pursuit.

But in what Goldstein referred to as a “miracle,” Earnest’s gun jammed. Even while Morales was still on Earnest’s trail, congregants — who had been gathered in the sanctuary and would have made easy targets for Earnest had his gun not jammed — fled to Chabad’s front entrance.

Noya Dahan, 8, rides on the shoulders of her father, Israel Dahan, at a candlelight vigil held for victims of the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting, April 28, 2019, in Poway, California (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Goldstein’s hand was bleeding badly and his two fingers were dangling by cartilage. “I grabbed a prayer shawl,” he said, wrapped his wounds, and stood on a chair to address his congregation.

“I said, ‘I gotta do something,’” he said. “I said to our congregation: ‘Am Yisrael chai [The People of Israel live]. We are a Jewish nation that will stand tall and we will not let anyone or anything take us down.’”

Farewell to an ‘angel’

“Lori took the bullet for all of us. She died to protect all of us. She didn’t deserve to die,” Goldstein said.

Gilbert-Kaye was one of the congregation’s oldest and most devoted members, the rabbi told media. A former employee of Wells Fargo, she was instrumental in helping Chabad secure the loan for the building in the early 1990s. She and her husband Howard were so close with the rabbi and his wife that two weeks ago they flew to New York City for Goldstein’s youngest daughter’s wedding, and danced together with the bride.

Roneet Lev, friend of Chabad of Poway shooting victim Lori Gilbert-Kaye, April 28, 2019. (Debra Kamin/Times of Israel)

Her generosity and kindness was lauded on Sunday by Roneet Lev, who was at the Chabad of Poway to mourn. Lev described herself as Kaye’s best friend.

“Lori Kaye is an angel on this planet,” Lev said. “She’s touched many lives in her own life. Not just in this community but throughout the entire world.”

Describing a woman who always carried gifts cards and greeting cards to offer as presents and who would regularly purchase extra coffees and donuts for homeless people on the street, Lev explained that Kaye was at Chabad of Poway to say the first Kaddish mourner’s prayer for her mother, who had recently died.

Kaye’s daughter Hannah lives in Los Angeles and had driven down to be with her mother for the service.

Lev offered hope and optimism as she spoke of her friend.

“Even in this horrible, painful event, we know good will come out of it,” Lev said. “Lori is known for bringing out the good in people. And look at these flowers. Look at this law enforcement. Look at the good people of San Diego. Lori is now bringing them together.”

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Russia’s largest yeshiva attacked with arson and swastikas ahead of Passover

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Russia’s largest yeshiva attacked with arson and swastikas ahead of Passover

No one reported injured in fire at Torat Chaim in eastern Moscow, hours before 60 people gathered for traditional seder meal

A person inspects the damage from a fire set at the Torat Chaim Yeshiva on the eve of Passover, April 19, 2019 (Courtesy/Torat Chaim Yeshiva)

A person inspects the damage from a fire set at the Torat Chaim Yeshiva on the eve of Passover, April 19, 2019 (Courtesy/Torat Chaim Yeshiva)

MOSCOW, Russia — Jewish officials said Friday an arson fire was set at the largest yeshiva in Russia just ahead of the Passover meal celebration. Swastikas were also sprayed on the seminary.

No one was reported injured in the early Friday fire at the Torat Chaim school in an eastern Moscow suburb.

Olga Esaulova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s chief rabbi, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the fire was set in a storage area for kosher meat and that swastikas were drawn at the yeshiva’s entrance.

There were about 60 students, rabbis and guests in the building at the time, the state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

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Avital Chizhik Goldschmidt

@avitalrachel

Reports from Moscow that the Torat Chaim Yeshiva was attacked last night by what seems to be neo-Nazis. Swastikas painted on the doors and the storehouse entirely burned, the yeshiva community’s precious kosher meat/food for Passover gone.

305 people are talking about this

While Russia has a long history of anti-Semitism, it has noticeably declined under Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Putin has made considerable efforts to reach out to Russian Jewish communities, both within his state’s borders and in Israel. His country’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, is a close confidante.

He has encouraged the restoration of dozens of synagogues destroyed under communism and taken a hard-line on anti-Semitism.

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Science helps verify an unbelievable Holocaust escape account

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

Jews digging a trench in which they were later buried in, after being shot, in Ponary, Poland. (Courtesy of Yad Vashem)
The escape tunnel at Ponar is witness to ‘the victory of hope over desperation’

Science helps verify an unbelievable Holocaust escape account

The story of a band of Lithuanian Jews who dug their way to freedom was met with widespread skepticism over the years. A new TV program sheds light on their incredible tale

April 15, 2017, 8:38 am 4

LOS ANGELES (JTA) – A one-hour TV program airing next week on PBS links brings advanced scientific techniques to bear on an incredible Holocaust escape story.

“Holocaust Escape Tunnel,” a “Nova” production to be shown April 19, sheds new light on the attempt by 80 imprisoned men and women — mostly Lithuanian Jews — to make a break for freedom in the face of Nazi bullets. The show documents the application of scientific methods to verify what would otherwise be a nearly unbelievable story.

The documentary is set in and around Vilna, the Yiddish and Hebrew designation for Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. At its peak, before World War II and the Holocaust, the city boasted a Jewish population of some 77,000, had 105 synagogues, the largest Jewish library in the world and six daily Jewish newspapers.

The vigorous Jewish life in Vilna started to decline in 1940, when the Soviet Union absorbed Lithuania. It was almost completely destroyed after German armies attacked Russia in 1941, quickly conquering Lithuania.

Within a year Nazis shot and killed – in the days before Auschwitz-type gas chambers – most of the Jews and tossed their corpses into huge pits in the nearby Ponar Forest, initially dug by the Soviets to store fuel and ammunition. One pit alone held 20,000 to 25,000 corpses.

In late 1943, with Russian armies advancing from the east and partisans attacking German supply lines in surrounding forests, Hitler’s headquarters in Berlin decided to cover up the monumental massacre by ordering that all the bodies be cremated.

The Germans ordered the region’s surviving Jews, along with some Russian prisoners of war, to first chop down large trees in the forests, cut them into planks, form huge layers of wood, spread the bodies between the layers and then set them aflame. Methodically, the Germans formed 10 “burning brigades,” each consisting of 80 prisoners, mainly Jewish.

After a day’s work, the “burners” were held in pits and their feet shackled. One such unit, consisting of 76 men and four women, decided it was duty bound to pass on the truth to the world and future generations.

The prisoners freed their legs by cutting the shackles with a smuggled-in file and, for the next 76 days, using only spoons and their hands, carved out a 2-by-2-foot-wide tunnel extending 130 feet.

April 15, 1944, the last day of Passover, was set for the escape. As the first prisoners left the tunnel, guards opened fire and killed almost the entire group. But 12 made it out and cut through the wire fence. They joined a detachment of partisans commanded by the legendary Abba Kovner.

At the end of the war, all but one of the escapees were still alive and eventually settled elsewhere, mainly in pre-state Israel and the United States.

Among the thousands, if not millions, of post-Holocaust remembrances, the story of the Vilna escapees was met with widespread skepticism even by the future wives and children of the 11 survivors, said historian Richard Freund, who is prominently featured in the documentary.

The skepticism was fueled by the absence of any physical evidence of the alleged tunnel. Lithuania — already beleaguered by charges of its wartime collaboration with the Germans — showed little enthusiasm for further investigations.

In recent years, however, with a change of attitude by a new generation of Lithuanians, their government was ready to seek the truth about the Holocaust and invite outside experts to participate in the endeavor.

An initial contact was Jon Seligman, a leading researcher with the Israel Antiquities Authority. Freund, of the University of Hartford, also was interested — he had directed archaeological projects at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, as well as at six ancient sites in Israel. In 2014, the two scholars decided to cooperate on the project, spurred by their similar ancestral descent from Vilna Jews. A third member of the documentary team with Jewish roots in Eastern Europe was Paula Apsell, the senior producer for “Nova.”

The infamous “Burning Pit” used by the Nazis to burn the remains of their Jewish victims in order to rid themselves of all evidence. (Ezra Wolfinger for WGBH/JTA)

The infamous “Burning Pit” used by the Nazis to burn the remains of their Jewish victims in order to rid themselves of all evidence. (Ezra Wolfinger for WGBH/JTA)

Seligman and Freund had initially set their sights on exploring the fate of the Great Synagogue of Vilna, once the center of Jewish worship and scholarship, which had been destroyed by the Germans. The Soviets later razed the remains and built a school there.

The two scholars — backed by other experts and teams of young volunteers — made some dramatic discoveries at the Great Synagogue site, but also were intrigued by reports on the escape tunnel.

In approaching the latter, the project leaders ruled out using the traditional method of digging into an archaeological site with spades and machines.

“Traditional archaeology uses a highly destructive method,” Freund told JTA. “You only have one chance to get it right and you can’t repeat an experiment. Additionally, in our case, we were determined not to desecrate the site and victimize the dead a second time.”

Instead, the teams used two noninvasive techniques that are widely employed in gas and oil explorations. One approach was through Ground Penetrating Radar, or GPR, which uses radar pulses to return images of objects found beneath the earth’s surface. The results were analyzed in Los Angeles by geophysicist Dean Goodman, who developed the GPR software.

In the second approach, called Electrical Resistivity Tomography, or ETR, scientists investigate sub-surface materials through their electrical properties. The same technique is widely used in medical imaging of the human body.

Thanks to these techniques, in 2016 the investigators were able to scientifically confirm the existence and dimensions of a wartime escape tunnel, as JTA reported at the time. The New York Times listed the feat as one of the top science stories of the year.

One of the successful tunnel escapees was Shlomo Gol, whose son Abraham (Abe) was born in a displaced persons camp in Munich, Germany. The elder Gol died in 1986 at the age of 77, and his son will be 68 in July. The family initially immigrated to Israel, then moved to the United States.

Abe Gol, who lives in Pembroke Pines, Florida, told JTA that friends recalled his father as a young man full of life and as a natural leader. However, the father young Abe knew “withdrew within himself” and did not speak of his experiences.

The little he learned of his father’s past came in two ways: One was the annual reunion, on the last day of Passover, held by escapees who had settled in Israel. At dinner, when shots of vodka loosened tongues, the men talked of the past, paying no attention to the boy listening in.

In later years, Gol discovered that his father had kept a written record of his past, which the son translated into English. One small recollection from the diary: the persistent stink from the combination of kerosene and tar the prisoners had to pour on the wood pyres to fan the flames.

At the time of the tunnel’s discovery, Seligman of the Israel Antiquities Authority wrote, “As an Israeli whose family originated in Lithuania, I was reduced to tears on the discovery of the escape tunnel at Ponar. This discovery is a heartwarming witness to the victory of hope over desperation. The exposure of this tunnel enables us to present not only the horrors of the Holocaust, but also the yearning for life.”

With the deaths of the last eyewitnesses of the Holocaust, Freund said, historians will have to rely increasingly on yet unknown scientific and technological advances to preserve and enlarge our knowledge of the great tragedy of the 20th century.

“Holocaust Escape Tunnel” will air April 19 at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times; 8 p.m. Central time. Check your local PBS station for details.

21 Year Old Female British Student Stabbed To Death In Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

A British exchange student was fatally stabbed Friday by a Palestinian attacker just steps from Jerusalem’s Old City, where thousands of Jews and Christians gathered for religious holidays at one of the busiest times of the year, officials said.

Thousands of people filled parts of the ancient city: Jews to celebrate Passover, which ends Monday in Israel; and Christian pilgrims for Good Friday. The attack took place inside a car of the city’s light-rail train near the entrance to the Old City’s Christian Quarter.

The woman identified as Hannah Bladon, 21, was treated for stab wounds in a hospital and later died, police said.

Bladon was an exchange student from the University of Birmingham in Britain, and she arrived in Israel in January to spend a semester at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the latter said in a statement.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency named the suspected attacker as 57-year-old Jamal Tamimi from East Jerusalem, a mostly Arab area. They said he had mental health issues and had attempted suicide this year while hospitalized. Tamimi was arrested at the scene, the report said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the attack to other violent acts around the world in recent weeks. “Radical Islam strikes at the capitals of the world and, unfortunately, terrorism has hit the capital of Israel — Jerusalem,” he wrote on Facebook.

Israel considers Jerusalem its united capital, and all of its official offices are based there. Palestinians want part of Jerusalem as the capital of any future state.

Friday’s killing is the latest in a spate of stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks by Palestinians over the past 18 months.

Israel has been accused internationally of being too heavy-handed in response to the attacks, which have left nearly 50 Israelis and more than 200 Palestinians dead. Israel says most of the Palestinians killed were attempting to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians, soldiers or police officers.

The targeted stabbings and other attacks started in October 2015 with almost daily assaults. Incidents slowed in mid-2016 and, with Israeli forces stepping up their response, fatal attacks are now rare.

The violence contrasts with the first and second intifadas of the 1980s and 2000s, which were centrally organized and included mass unrest.

Jewish Passover: 4 Steps To Breaking Bad Habits

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHADBAD.ORG)

Passover’s 4 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

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During the Passover Seder we recount in detail the plight of the Israelites as slaves in ancient Egypt, and we celebrate their eventual salvation. However, the Seder is not just about commemorating past events.

The Talmudic sage Rabban Gamaliel II called upon us to include a personal element in the rituals of the Seder. “In every generation, a person must see themselves as if they personally left Egypt,”1 he instructed, leaving it to us to figure out how to make this ancient tale of redemption relevant to us today.

One suggestion was offered by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch, the third Rebbe of Chabad, also known as the Tzemach Tzedek. He viewed the rabbinic instruction to drink four cups of wine (or grape juice for those who avoid alcohol) during the Seder as a framework for achieving personal freedom.2

Each cup was instituted to reflect another expression G‑d used to promise the Jews that they would be rescued from Egypt and become a nation with the power to determine their own destiny.3 If we follow this path, the Tzemach Tzedek writes, it can lead us on a personal journey towards freedom from any negative practices that hold us back.

Here is my personal understanding of those four 4 steps to breaking bad habits, based on G‑d’s 4 promises:

1. Stop

G‑d’s first expression of redemption to the Israelites was, “I will take you out” of Egypt. Before you get clean, you must get out of the mud. The first step to breaking free from a habit is to simply stop doing it. Medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides says, “A sinner should abandon his sins,” and suggests that you control your thoughts before they trigger a repeat offence.4 Immediately stop, even if you have already gone at it again.

2. Adopt

After the Israelites left Egypt, they were ill at ease with their new identity. G‑d promised: “I will save you,” and supplied them with protective clouds of glory and manna from the sky. The second step on the path to breaking free is to immerse yourself in an alternative, positive reality. When dropping an old habit, adopt a new one to take its place and fill the void. Happiness researcher Gretchen Rubin says that it is much easier to form new habits after a change in life. Adopt your new activity steadily and continuously so it becomes the new you.

3. Rationalize

G‑d gave the Israelites the holy Torah on Mount Sinai as a roadmap to living a meaningful life. The expression, “I will deliver you,” alludes to the study of Torah, which spiritually and intellectually transforms you. The third step on this journey is to establish the ethical reasoning of your decision and an understanding of the new person you are trying to become. As the Israelites said after receiving the Torah, naaseh v’nishma (“we will do and we will understand”). After you “do” by adopting a positive activity, the next step on the journey to change is learning and understanding.

4. Internalize

As the Israelites wandered through the desert, G‑d promised them that He would bring them to the Promised Land. Knowing that they would have a place to call their own allowed them to establish an emotional connection with their new selves. This positive emotional bond is reflected in the expression, “I will take you as a nation.” The fourth step on this path is to not only rationalize and understand the person you want to become, but to also fully internalize the change within you, because emotion plays a big part in influencing the decisions we make.

“Through the story we are redeemed from Egypt,”5 the Tzemach Tzedek once commented. You have the power to make the Passover narrative your own success story.

FOOTNOTES

1.

Pesachim 116b.

2.

Ohr HaTorah, Shemot, vol. 1, p. 185.

4.

Mishneh Torah, Laws of Teshuvah, 2:2.

5.

Rebbe Rayatz, eve of 20 Kislev 5692; Sefer Hamaamarim 5710, p. 197.

Rabbi Yehuda L. Ceitlin is the outreach director of Chabad Tucson, and associate rabbi of Cong. Young Israel of Tucson. He coordinates the annual Yarchei Kallah summit of Chabad scholars, and was on the editorial staff at Chabad.org.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org’s copyright policy.

If The Haggadah Has Got It Correct Then Western Education Has It All Wrong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHABAD.ORG)

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What’s So Wise About the Wise Child?

They say the Haggadah never ends. That makes sense, because the Haggadah is the classic Jewish guide to education, and education never ends.

So now that we’ve done our Seder for the 3,329th year, and while it’s still Passover, I’d like to open a discussion on how we educate our kids. And I’d like to start by listening to what the Haggadah is telling us.

It seems it’s telling us we’re doing it all wrong.

Here’s evidence: How do we test, monitor and measure the success of our students? By asking questions, right? (Like I just did.)

And indeed, the average middle-grade teacher asks around 400 questions a day. That’s about two per minute. After 15 years, a teacher has asked at least one million questions. The student has asked if he can go to the bathroom.After 14 and a half years, that’s a million questions. The average student, however, generally only asks two or three questions a week—most commonly, “Can I go to the bathroom?” In high school, not much better, with about ten questions a day. Compare that to preschool kids, who ask an average of 100 questions a day.

Some will tell you that’s the Socratic method. We’re attempting to elicit intelligence from students by battering them with questions they never thought of asking.

But the Haggadah does the opposite. Rather than evaluating children by their ability to answer, it identifies them in four categories by their ability to ask.

Questions Are Rich

That turns everything around.

For one thing, from a child’s correct answers, you often know very little. Maybe he simply has a good memory. Maybe he’s good at guessing what you want to hear. At very best, a child’s answers only tell us what that child knows.

But theA child’s answers tells us what he knows. A child’s questions tell us who he is. child’s questions provide a window into the child’s mind and soul. A child’s questions tell us who that child is.

Every child is on a critical mission to make sense of things, to find the meaning behind everything, to put the pieces together. But each child sees a different world, through different eyes. So each child discovers that meaning in his or her particular way.

So that only once we know what this child is looking for, and how he is looking for it, only then we can assist him to find it. And that is education—assisting the child on his or her particular journey of discovering meaning.

Ask! Please Ask!

Let’s start from the beginning: The Haggadah is designed to incite questions.The Haggadah is designed to incite questions. How does it do that? By breaking the routine.

Generally, a festive Jewish meal begins with a blessing on the wine. We then all proceed to wash our hands, return to the table, and say a blessing on the bread.

On the Seder night, we also start with the wine. And then the hand-washing. And we return to the table. And then we take small vegetable and dip it in some sort of liquid, and eat it.

Why the change?

You’ll hear all sorts of reasons, but there’s one definitive answer cited in the Code of Jewish Law: We do it so that someone will ask a question.

And if they ask, what do we answer? We answer that they got it right. They asked a question.

Which means that the question is of prime value, even when there is no answer. As the ancient rabbis said, “Even though we have no answer for this question, once the child is asking, he will ask more questions.”

And why is that important? Because, to those ancient rabbis, it’s obvious that you can’t teach a child a thing until the child has a question.

Passing by a ninth grade classroom in a yeshiva, I hear the teacher lecturing: “Okay, so the ultimate reason for the creation of all things is…”

The diligent students take notes. The rest stare into empty space. The teacher may as well be speaking about the average rainfall in Indonesia.

You can’t teach a thing until you have first awakened a question.

A question creates a vacuum, a space in the brain to fit new knowledge. Just like a car is useless if you live in a big city where there’s no place to park it, and a meal goes in the trash if there’s no one to eat it, so the most satisfying answer in the world is meaningless to the child who never had the question. He has no place in his skull to store it. It’s just a distraction and confusion for his mind from its true quest—to find meaning.

Yes, in case the child has no questions, we provide some, in the form of the Ma Nishtana—”Why is this night different from all other nights?”

But that’s Plan B. Plan A is that the children will ask questions of their own. And you, the parent, will wrack your brains finding answers for them.

Answering the Children

That brings us to another vital lesson from the Haggadah: We don’t answer the question.Don’t answer the question. Answer the child. We answer the child.

“The wise child—what does he say?” Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitchwould point out that in Hebrew, with just a slight change in punctuation, those words can read quite differently: “The wise child—what is he? He says…”

Through the question, we see the child. And that is who we answer.

The wise child articulates his question. He’s obviously thought it through well and knows exactly what he’s looking for.

If he’s wise, why does he ask? Why doesn’t he just have faith, like a good religious boy, and accept all his parents and teachers tell him?

He asks because he has faith. Like a scientist who believes that there will always be an explanation if we will just dig a little further, he believes that there will always be meaning, and deeper meaning, and yet deeper. His mind is not fettered by faith, but driven by it. And his faith, in turn, is enriched by his questions.

Something neat Rabbi Avraham Altein just pointed out: If there are no children to ask, no guests, nobody, the halacha is that you have to ask the question to yourself. According to Maimonides, even if the children have asked the questions, the parents must also ask.

Get that? You know the answer, but you have to ask again. Really ask. Revisit the darkness of “I don’t know”—as though you never knew. Because last year’s answer no longer satisfies you. That’s how you get to a new light. And that’s what it means to be wise.

All the Children

Which all explains why the Wise Child often ends up getting all the attention, while the others are left out.

But no, there are three more children in the room.There are three more children in the room. They are also our children. They are also our children.

Like the Wicked Child. He’s next in line in expertise at asking questions. After all, he has identified exactly what it is that is bothering him. Problem is, he’s not interested in an answer.

But he’s still number two, because something bothers him. The whole Seder bothers him. Which means he’s alive and kicking. Which means there’s something there to work with.

The Simple Child asks, but he’s not sure what he’s asking. He’s the one that is too often ignored. Since you don’t really get his question (because neither does he), he never gets an answer. In the times we live in, that’s a precarious situation. Because that may one day mean to him that there is no answer. And if so, he will have a different question: “Why am I doing all this if there is no answer?”

So the Haggadah instructs you to tell him stories of wonders and miracles. That is his world, that is what he sees. He is in wonderment. Go with it—take that wonderment and nurture it, all the way. Don’t give him any less than the Wise Child, or the Wicked One. And don’t demand that he become the Wise Child—lest you push him towards his cynical brother.

As for The Child Who Doesn’t Know How To Ask—In illustrated Haggadahs, he’s always a baby with a pacifier in his mouth. But that’s nonsense.The Inquisitively Challenged Child got 100% on his Haggadah test. I’ll bet he got 100/100 on his Passover Haggadah finals.

You know why I think that? Look at the answer we give him: “For the sake of this, G‑d did what He did for me when I left Egypt.” That’s a deep answer to an intelligent person.

So what does it mean that “he doesn’t know how to ask”?

Many of the ideas I’m writing here were sparked years ago by a conversation with an Israeli researcher, a student of renowned educational psychologist, Benjamin Bloom, who visited our school along with many high schools across North America. At each school, the researcher would ask the principal, “Give me your best students, one by one, in a private room.”

When the student would enter, she would just sit there for a minute or two. Then she would ask, “Do you have any questions?”

Silence.

Then: “I’m visiting from Israel.”

More silence.

“I’m doing research.”

You get the gist of it.

But then, she would ask the principal to bring in the troublemakers, one-by-one. They would enter, and immediately break into, “Why am I here? Who are you? What is this all about? Israel? What’s that like?”

Open For This Child

So this child #4, a bright child who excels in school, why does this child not ask? Why is he not in search of understanding and meaning? What went wrong?

My guess? He went to school. There he was rewarded for answering questions just the way the teacher likes. But he was never rewarded for asking the really good ones that might disrupt the class, or the questions that the teacher might not have the answers to.

So Teach him, by example, that it’s even ok to question the most basic assumptions.for this child, “You must open for him.” Open his mouth. Teach him to ask. Teach him that it’s ok to ask. Teach him that it’s even ok to question the most basic assumptions. How? By example. By showing him how you yourself question assumptions.

That could explain another one of those Seder tidbits that should spark a thousand questions—or at least some annoyance. Immediately after the episode of the four children, a heavy chunk of Talmudic exegesis plops down upon us, seemingly telling us nothing of the Exodus narrative or the people sitting here.

Here’s the classic translation:

One may think that [the discussion of the exodus] must be from the first of the month. The Torah therefore says, “On that day.” “On that day,” however, could mean while it is yet daytime; the Torah therefore says, “It is because of this.” The expression “because of this” can only be said when matzah and maror are placed before you.

But Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abravanel (15th century) tells us it’s actually as relevant as you can get. It’s a response to that Inquisitively Challenged Child. It’s about opening his mind with a question that challenges the most unquestioned assumption of the entire ritual: Who says it’s Passover tonight?

Try reading it like this:

You: Hold on, maybe we were supposed to do this Seder on Rosh Chodesh—15 days ago on the first day of the month!

Child: Umm. Why then?

You: Because that’s when God told Moses about the mitzvah of Pesach.

Child: Okay, so we messed up.

You: Nope, it says on that day.

Child: Okay, so let’s get on. What do we say next?

You: Not so simple. Because then we should be doing it during the day. Now it’s night already.

Child: So it’s over. Let’s eat.

You: Not so fast. You see, it says, for the sake of this stuff. Meaning this matzah and bitter herbs that we eat on the night of Pesach. So we have to wait until we’re supposed to eat that stuff—and that’s tonight.

Child: Why on earth do we have to tell a story to food?

See? It worked!


So here’s what I’m taking from my Seder into the coming year:

Torah comes to us in a beautiful package, wrapped and tied. The only way to untie those knots and open up its treasures is by asking the right questions whenever and wherever they come to mind, and asking them without fear or shame.

How do we get ourselves,How can we teach the faith and courage it takes not to fear a good question? our children, other Jews, and everyone else who can benefit, to ask? How can we teach the faith and courage it takes not to fear a good question?

If we can find answers to those questions, we will have half of education nailed.

What’s So Wise About the Wise Child?

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman’s writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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