Nachal novea; makor chochma -
A flowing river; the source of wisdom (Mish. 18:4)

Parashas Bo

(Exodus 10:1-13:16)

“Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread...for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cutoff from Israel” (Shemos 12:15)

What is the essential difference between leavened bread, which is forbidden to eat on Passover and  unleavened bread that is required and permitted to be eaten on Passover?

Unleavened bread represents the aspect of open Divine Guidance in this world.  Matzos, unleavened bread, is synonymous to the mon, the bread that fell from heaven which sustained the Jews the 40 years they wandered in the desert.  As the Talmud says, “The cake (matzo] that the Jews took with them out from Egypt had the taste of the mon” (Kiddushin 38).  Matzo represents the concept of trust in Hashem and revealed Divine Guidance reflected by the fact that it was baked with a minimal amount of human effort.  “And they [the Jews] baked the dough...unleavened cakes for it was not leavened; because they [the Jews] were thrust out of Egypt, and could not linger, neither had they prepared any provisions for themselves" (Shemos 12:39).  When the Jews left Egypt, they didn't have time to do everything necessary for baking of regular unleavened bread. The bread was so to speak prepared automatically by itself with little human intervention. This is how Hashem runs His world; thus, matzo represents Divine Guidance.  The verse also informs us that they didn't take any provisions along with them for the journey through the barren, uninhabited desert, which indicates the Jews left Egypt with only the matzos, relying on Hashem's providence to supply then with all their needs.  Therefore, we clearly see matzo is connected to faith in Hashem.

Chometz, unleavened bread, on the other hand, in synonymous with nature, the natural course the way the world seems to function.  Nature is in reality Hashem's directing the events of this world in a more hidden, less obvious way.  Leavened bread requires a lot of human intervention, thus it represents Hashem's biding in nature.  How do we know that Hashem hides behind the mask of nature?  The numerical value of “Elokim” equals 86.  The numerical value of “hatevah,” the natural (world], also has the numerical value of 86.  This implies that Hashem is hiding in nature.  The   Hebrew word for world is “olam.”  This word comes from word “ne'elam,” hidden.   This wording indicates that Hashem is hiding in this world.

King David tells us why a person comes to steal from others: "Hashem release me out of the hand of the wicked, out of the grasp of the non-righteous and violent [Chometz) man” (Psalms 71:4).  The word King David uses to refer to a violent robber in this verse is the Hebrew word “chometz.”  This word also means leaven in Hebrew.  By King David referring to a violent robber by the word “chometz,” leaven, he is teaching us a valuable lesson. What makes a person run after money and even to point of taking it away unlawfully from others?  It is the leavening of one's thoughts in one's mind.  The leaven in one's mind, which we defined above as referring to tevah, nature, makes one mistakenly think that all one's money and possessions are exclusively due to his own effort, either through hard work or theft.  This attitude is referred to in the Torah as, “My power and the strength of my hand has gotten me this wealth" (Devarim 8:17).  Hashem responds to this attitude in the very next verse as follows: “But you shall remember Hashem your G-d; for it is He that gives you power to get wealth” (Devarim 8:18).  From these two verses in Devarim we see that the attitude of one who thinks success is solely do to human effort is called someone who has forgotten about Hashem.  Forgetting Hashem is a gross lack of faith, which is synonymous with idol worship. One should, however, believe that all the natural events in one's life is solely directed and determined by Hashem, even though we have absolutely no idea what Hashem is doing.
Therefore, even though we are forced to go out and earn a livelihood, and it appears that we obtain all our money through natural means, in reality we must be always aware that Hashem determines the results of our efforts.  For example, we see that many people work exceedingly hard, even working at three different jobs, and they can hardly make ends meet. We see many highly skilled and successful professionals, who suddenly get laid-off, go from the top of their fields into insignificance overnight.  We see that Hashem has the power to totally control this world, in ways we can't understand.  We see giant redwoods that originated from one tiny seed, without any human intervention at all. Hashem could easily do this with all of the functions in creation. No human effort would be necessary to be provided with all one's needs. Hashem created this entire world for man's benefit. Hashem wants that man should participate in his providing for himself for his earning a livelihood, even though this is not at all necessary.  In truth, Hashem provided man with all his needs, effortlessly, prior to Adam's sin.  Adam's eating prior to his sin, was like eating matzos, it was with openly revealed Divine Guidance, without any effort in obtaining his needs. However, when he sinned, his eating from the forbidden tree of knowledge, was like eating chometz, leaven, which made it difficult to realize Hashem provides a person with all his needs. Now a great amount of human effort is required to obtain one's livelihood.

If Hashem provides one with all one's needs, why must we work at all? Why wasn't it necessary to work before Adam's sin for one's livelihood? Why did it become necessary to work for one's livelihood after Adam's sin?

It says in Avot, “Raban Gamliel, the son of Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi says, Torah study is good together with an occupation, for the exertion of then both makes sin forgotten” (Avot 2:2). We see from this teaching that Hashem made man work for his livelihood after Adam's sin for the purpose that he wouldn't have time to sin. The main antidote for sin is learning Torah, as the Talmud teaches, “I [Hashem] created the evil inclination and I [Hashem] created the antidote for it, which is the Torah” (Kiddushin 30).  However, it is impossible for most people to be able to study all day long and especially the average person.  Therefore, Hashem designed that man must work for his livelihood, even though one's efforts are really not necessary at all.

Therefore, we eat matzos on Passover to instill within our minds and attitudes, that we must rely on Hashem alone for our livelihoods and that everything is conducted through His will alone. Why must the eating of matzos, which injects our minds and thoughts with faith, be specifically be done on Passover?  Why are we aloud to eat chometz all year round?  Isn't chometz a bad thing to eat, even the entire year round?

During the week of Passover the Jews were at a point that was just prior to their redemption. At the time the Jews were still strongly connected and under the rule of Egypt, and the spiritual forces of evil, which were attached to the Egyptians. These forces were so strong that they could pollute and pervert the mind's of the Jews to think the world is controlled by nature. Therefore the Jews had to eat matzo during Passover to inject their minds with strong faith, so they could counteract these forces of evil. Then they would realize Hashem controls everything, for as we mentioned above, matzo possesses the spiritual power of faith. However, after the splitting of the Reed Sea, the Jews were freed from the Egyptians once and for all and the forces of evil which had attached themselves to the Egyptians.  Plus, the Jews fortified their faith by eating matzo to such an extent during the week of Passover, that it was no longer necessary to avoid chometz, leaven, the rest of the year, after the seventh day of Passover.  So by our eating matzo at the time when work is done in the fields, in the spring-time, we fortify ourselves with faith, to such an extent, that we are able to go out to work and not forget that all our achievements are due to Hashem's will.
Why is it necessary to eat matzo each and every Passover?  We have long since been delivered from Egypt, and our minds have been freed from their influence, so why must we still inject faith into our minds annually, at this tine of years by eating matzos?

The answer is, that once a significant act has been performed at a certain time, that act creates a spiritual impression annually for all time on that same exact date.  So the week of Passover was a time when the Egyptians, who were the agents of the forces of evil, made their strongest efforts of all to retain control of the Jews, when they physically pursued the Jews. This act created a spiritual time- warp for all time, that annually occurs an this date, the week of Passover.  At this time the spiritual forces of evil try to exert its strongest influence to trick the Jews into disbelief in the Divine Guidance within nature. Therefore, every years during Passover, we must make our strongest effort of the year to purify our minds to the greatest extent possible. This is accomplished by eating the most powerful spiritual drug of faith, which is contained in the matzo we eat on Passover. The matzo's influence only works on Passover, since the physical matzo is only able to draw its spiritual powers of faith, which are especially available at this time of year, due to the past events, which the Jews created during the week of Passover for all time.  The matzo is like a radio receiver that receives only the available transmissions that are broadcast at this particular

For the same reason that it is forbidden to eat chometz on Passover, it is also forbidden to eat before one's morning prayers, even on Shabbos. Why is this so?  Through the reciting of the morning prayers, one draws down to oneself Hashem's unconditional free gift of kindness. This kindness is parallel to Hashem's Torah, for these two items are both hidden and are the essence of every physical item existing in this world.  As our Rabbi's tell us, Hashem created the world from the letters of the Torah. So when we eat our breakfast, the food we have just purified through reciting our morning prayers, we draw sustenance from the Torah itself, which is hidden in our food, as the verse says: 'Your [Hashem's] Torah is within my bowels' (Psalms 40:9). This means, the Torah, which is hidden in the food I eat, is in my digestive system, which gives me life. By praying before one eats, one activates the hidden life-force of the Torah, which is hidden within the food one eats. Prayer has this ability because prayer is asking for a free gift from Hashem, and the morning is a time when kindness descends to the world; therefore, the morning prayers has this unique ability to activate the Torah, which is also a free gift t from Hashem, for it is available to all those who want to study it.

The Talmud comments about someone who only lives from the physical and tries to exclude the spiritual from one's life as, “The wicked even when [physically] alive are called (spiritually] dead” (Brachot 18). Existing from only physical nourishment is not called living at all.  This is the level of existence of an animal.  Eating before one's prayers is in the category of “Lest when you have eaten and are satisfied...then your heart will become proud, and you forget Hashem your G-d” (Devarim 8:12,14).  The combination of these verses teach that one could come to forget Hashem through his eating before reciting the morning prayers, because one hasn't activated the hidden Torah found within one's food through the recitation the morning prayers. The food then becomes the food of an animal, which strengthens one's desires for the wrong things. The pursuit of these desires can cause one to forget Hashem, which has the same effect an the eating of chometz, leaven on Passover.  This is a living death, as was mentioned before, in the Talmud above. (Lekutai Halachot: Orach Chalin: Hilchot Brachot Hashachar 5:12,13)

Please note the Shulchan Aruch, code of the Jewish Law, provides for those individuals who are physically sick, and are unable to pray their morning prayers, without first eating. In such a case one should eat and one's eating is then in accordance with Torah Law. When one eats in such a case before his morning prayers, one still activates the hidden Torah within one's food, since this eating is in accordance with the Torah. This eating is done for one's health, so he can be able to serve Hashem, and not due to one's gluttony. The Shulchan Aruch permits everyone to drink water before one's morning prayers. However, Rabbi Nachman recommends against this leniency. Rabbi Nachman was lenient about the observance of most laws and even warned against the practice to be excessively stringent in the observance of the law. This practice just burdens a person unnecessarily and takes the joy out of serving Hashem. As long as a person fulfills the basic requirement of the law, this is sufficient. However, in this practice, Rabbi Nachman was strict, because of the strong negative influence unpurified food has on one's mind, which could sorely damage one's service of Hashem.  However if one has violated this law until now, one could always make a fresh start and observe this law from now on.

The following story clearly illustrates Hashem’s providing a person with his livelihood:
The saintly Rebbi Zusha of Anapoli had very strong faith in Hashem,  that Hashem could provide him with all his needs. He would never ask his attendant for his morning meal after his prayers. Rebbi Zusha would say in a loud voice to Hashem that he desired to eat. Then his attendant upon hearing this would bring Rebbi Zusha his breakfast.  This practice made his attendant think that Rebbi Zusha didn't want him to provide Rebbi Zusha with his daily breakfast. He thought that it was obvious that Rebbi Zusha only wanted Hashem to provide his with his food. So why should he continue to give him breakfast any longer? He wanted to see what would happen to Rebbi Zusha when he didn't bring him his breakfast, what would he do then, without me?

It was winter and Rebbi Zusha went early to pray as usual. The streets were full of mud, from the heavy rain that fell during the night. Some of the townspeople placed narrow boards across the muddy streets to make it possible to walk the streets without having to go through the mud.   Rabbi Zusha was walking very carefully on one of these narrow boards, in order not to fall into the mud.  Suddenly a stranger from a far away town approached Rabbi Zusha from the opposite end of the narrow board.  This stranger didn't know anyone in town. He saw approaching him a poor simple man. This stranger decided to have some fun. He then pushed Rabbi Zusha into the mud. The stranger then laughed at Rabbi Zusha laying in the mud and enjoyed this prank very much.

Rabbi Zusha didn't even react at all, he just got up and continued on his way.  When the stranger returned to his Inn, he boasted to the innkeeper about what he had done.  The stranger described to the innkeeper what the man who he had pushed into the mud earlier looked like. The innkeeper exclaimed, “You have pushed the holy Rabbi Zusha into the mud!  This is his way, he dresses simply, and be walks without anyone accompanying him.”  When the stranger heard this, he became panic stricken. Be said, “How could I have assaulted such a holy man?”  The innkeeper gave the stranger advice on how he could appease Rabbi Zusha for his foolish prank.

The innkeeper told the stranger that he shouldn't worry. Rabbi Zusha is a mild person who is easily appeased.  The Innkeeper advised the stranger to take some whiskey and some pastry to Rabbi Zusha after his morning prayers.  It was well known that Rabbi Zusha liked to snack a little after reciting his morning prayers.  By doing this, he would surely forgive the stranger.

The stranger did as the innkeeper had suggested. Be took a tray with a little whiskey and some pastry and went early to Rabbi Zusha's home. Rebbi Zusha was sitting at his table as he did everyday after reciting his morning prayers and made his usual declaration: 'Master of the universe, Zusha is hungry, please and him something to eat!” His attendant heard this, but didn't bring him anything to cat as be had decided. Suddenly, the door opened, and a Jewish stranger entered the room. He stood by Rabbi Zusha at his table with a tray in his bands and in a troubling voice begged for forgiveness from Rabbi Zusha for what he had done to him. Rabbi Zusha tasted the food that the stranger had brought, which revived his soul. Then in a soft voice, he calmed the stranger, and said, “I forgive you with a full heart.”
The attendant stood in shock. He didn't believe what he had just seen. Then the attendant realized that Rabbi Zusha's faith was so great and that be he was on such a high level, that heaven was worried about providing Rabbi Zusha with all his needs in order not to hinder him from his service to Hashem. (Stories of the holy brothers, Rabbi Zlivelich and Rabbi Zusha)

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