Tuesday, April 07, 2009

This Is Really Good

In honor of Pesach, here is a recent inspirational email from Rabbi Ron Yitzchak Eisenman (Rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ).
My Chassidishe Friend.

I have a real funny Chassidishe friend. He always tells me interesting Vortlach (the plural of Vort) which although not always grammatically accurate, are always inspirational and often entertaining.

One of the best ones he told me, which now I have co-opted and added to my own repertoire of wisdom is the following: When some is in need, getting married, sick, or just down, I offer them the Brocha of ‘Gefen’. Gefen? Wait, doesn’t gefen mean grape-vines? What type of Brocha is that to offer a person a grape-vine?

My Chassidishe friend explained that what you are really wishing them is:
  • Gezunt – health
  • Parnossah – a livelihood
  • Nachas – joy and satisfaction
Meaning the three first letters of the word Gefen - should be broken into three separate words; the Gimmel is for Gezunt, the Peh is for Parnossah and the Nun is for Nachas. Therefore I love giving people the Brocha of Gefen! It’s an all inclusive Brocha!

Yesterday, my friend called me and I asked him for a remez - a hint - for the word Chometz. Meaning, we are commanded this Wednesday to destroy all of the Chometz in our possession, and we all know that the physical Chometz must represent some greater sublime spiritual message. So, therefore, I asked my Chassidishe friend for a remez - a hint for the word Chometz!

This is what he answered me - (indeed, lately; this is answer I have been getting more and more from people). “Rabbi Eisenman, when you first used to ask me about Chassidishe Vortlach- that was years ago before you had your own kehilla. Now, you yourself are a big Rebbe, go figure it out on your own! Hashem will guide you to find the remez for Chometz.

Armed with my friend’s brocha and my new crowned title of Rebbe, I allowed my mind to plummet to the depths of the human condition. My mind raced as it re-enacted hours and hours of pre-Pesach counseling sessions. My head throbbed as I attempted to visualize what Brocha I would want someone to wish me and which aspects of the human condition would I like to be eradicated together with the burning of the Chometz?

Therefore what follows is my brocha to me and to all.

I give a brocha that all of us this year (and of course myself as well), that we should truly be able to rid ourselves prior to Pesach of all of our Chometz. The physical Chometz and the spiritual Chometz as well: What is the spiritual Chometz that I am referring to? Chometz is spelled - ches, mem, and tzadik.

Ches - stands for Chutzpah. May I be privileged this year to remove and to burn from within me all of the Chutzpah which I can sometimes display towards others. Chutzpah in all of its forms is insidious and damaging, it destroys families and marriages. All of us should do our best to rid ourselves of this venomous character trait of being Chutzpadik. Do not think this malady is limited to the children of the community; not true, all of us must work and work hard to eliminate this trait from ourselves!

Mem - Stands for Machlokes. How we go into Pesach when in certain families the fire of Machlokes is raging? How can we stand and burn the Chometz when inside we are enraged with the fire of anger and machlokes against our spouse or our neighbor? This year before Pesach we must destroy the poison of Machlokes from among us.

Tzadik - Stands for Tzidkos. (Self) righteousness. We have to rid ourselves of our feeling of self-righteousness. We are constantly declaring ourselves to be righteous and correct. How often when we are involved in our family issues do we become obstinate and self-righteousness, refusing to apologize and forgive and forget in order to make peace. We use our feigned status of tzidkos – feigned piety- to allow situations of Machlokes to continue and fester. We must rid ourselves this Pesach of the false tzidkos - false piety - which interferes with our serving Hashem. We should attempt to be forgiving and not standing on our ‘principles’.

Last night I called back my Chassidishe friend and I informed him of the real remez which is found in the word “Chometz” – the remez of Chutzpah, Machlokes, Tzidkos. I then said, “Nu, so what do you think?”

He paused and then said, “Not bad for a Litvishe Rebbe, not bad at all.”
Rav Ron Yitzchok Eisenman has lead Congregation Ahavas Israel since 1997.
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