Going nuts over Pesach

Shushan Purim Koton 5776

A resident of the Holy City Of Jerusalem very scrupulously avoided the slightest hint of chometz during Pesach. He kept his intake of Matzo during Yom Tov and Shabbos to the bare minimum. During Chol Hamoed, he ate none at all. Other than moror, his diet during the week of Pesach (no Acharon Shel Pesach in Israel) was exclusively nuts which he purchased from a specific Arab. The Pesach following the Arab’s death, he purchased his annual nut feast from the latter’s son. Upon the conclusion of the festival, he inquired of the son how come his nuts did not taste as bitter as his dad’s. The reply was that his father’s nuts acquired their bitter taste from the beer in which he would soak them.

Totally beside himself, our friend related his tale of woe to the Rov of the Slonim congregation in the Ancient city, the Lubliner Geon (authored Shu”t Toras Chesed, disciple of the Tzemach Tzedek and his successors). The Rabbi chastised the distraught fellow, “this occured to you because you sought to be smarter than Hashem and His Torah. The Torah instructs us to celebrate during Pesach. However, in your zeal to avoid chometz, you did not have full confidence in this mitzvoh and instead turned the Feast of Passover into just about a fast. And so, the Almighty left you to resort to your own efforts.”

(Heard at a Zeirai Das V’Daas farbrengen several years ago in the name of the late R’ Zalmen Morozov a”h.)

A possible morale: In our care to observe kashrus at its pinnacle and to avoid any questionable product, we can’t resort to eating grass and herbs. It’s no feat or talent to be an angel. It’s preferable to be a mentsh amongst people.

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Shushan Purim Koton 5776

A great story I just came across in my personal journal. This story, probably recorded the same week it happened, takes us back roughly 19 years ago. (All names and identifying details changed.)  Mr Goldberg, a chassidishe businessman, gives a weekly Chassidus shiur every Monday night. His shiur is well attended by businessmen and professionals, religious and otherwise. Mr Goldberg spends an hour and a half preparing each shiur. He later quipped that if the Rebbe, who was fluent in the entire Torah, spent 2 hours preparing each farbrengen, certainly we should all do likewise. Over the following decade, Mr Goldberg began to feel the weekly strain of preparing and giving the ever-growing shiur.

One Monday morning, roughly three weeks after Pesach, Mr Goldberg entered the local Bais Chabad, as was his wont, to study with his chavrusa of twenty or so years. Together, the two businessmen would study Chassidus for some twenty minutes. Of late, they began reading a letter or two from our Rebbe’s Igros Kodesh towards the end of their daily study. Afterwards, they’d daven Shacharis with the minyon before commencing their daily routines.

But today, the Chavrusa noticed Mr. Goldberg’s face turn white as they approached the last paragraph in the letter they were reading. When he asks for an explanation, Mr Goldberg revealed:

“As You know, over Pesach I spent 2 weeks in the country. In addition to enjoying Yom Tov as well as vacation, I felt relieved from my weekly Shiur as well. Having plenty of time to think for myself, I began to wonder why I needed to continue the Shiur in the first place? You know, our town has so many talented yungerleit. I did my fare share over the past ten years, let someone else pick up from here.

Ever since I returned home, I wondered who might I approach to take over. This week is the first time I walked in here on Monday morning before preparing tonight’s shiur because I didn’t intend to give it. I came in here twenty minutes ago resolute not to leave until someone else agrees to continue the Shiur. How can I not pale when I encounter, today of all days, what the Rebbe writes here ‘That which he writes me that he wants to stop giving the shiur he’s given till now, he should never even have a thought about discontinuing the Shiur’ “?

Need I tell you that Mr. Goldberg still gives the shiur every Monday night?

(Editor’s note: A possible lesson from this story occurred to me. Mr Goldberg keenly felt the acharayus of finding a suitable candidate to continue the Shiur. Yet, it seems the Rebbe would have none of it. Rather, if b’hashgocho protis he began the shiur, it was his personal mitzvoh and must not be assigned to anyone else.

We might at times find it difficult to carry on an activity which one began and maintained for a number of years, or perhaps, one has come across a “bigger and better” mitzvah. Before therefore handing over the smaller/burdersome mitzvoh to anyone else, one would do well to consider that this is their personal mitzvoh and leave the more glorious and pompous mitzvos for others.

The same might be said when one is approached with a mitzvoh opportunity such as a Tzedokoh cause or a request to help complete a minyon. True, this may at sometimes be tough and there may be others around in a greater position to step in. Yet, before declining, is it possible that if you were for whatever reason approached or otherwise became aware of it, then it is your own mitzvoh?

Sorry for the over-sized droshoh.)

Shushan Purim Koton 5776

How did Yosef Hatzadik go so unhesitatingly to his brothers, knowing how much they hated him?

He had full trust in his father, the nasi hador, that no evil would befall him as a result of following his request.

(Sefer Chasidim).

Interesting interview with Rabbi Feigelstock here