By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And You Shall Tell Your Children
Telling the story of the Exodus on Seder Night is definitely one of the highlights of this night, to such an extent that the other mitzvoth that pertain to this night, i.e matza, maror, the Paschal lamb [God-willing] etc., become “props,” so-to-speak in telling this story, as the verse says, “you shall tell your children on that day, for this [pesah lamb, matza, and maror] Hashem did to me when I left Egypt.” Ideally, this showing should bring us to feel that we are actually experiencing the Exodus in the present.
The fact that the Torah commands us to educate our children in this manner teaches us an important lesson in educating others, and also educating ourselves. As Mark Twain said “don’t tell me, show me,” so too ideally the messages we wish to deliver should be so palpable to the receiver as if “showing” them on Seder Night. Ultimately, this ideal is the reality of the future, when Hashem will make us “experience” His Presence always, “knowing” Him at all times, as it says (Yirmiyahu 31, 33): “No longer will they teach each other, or say to one another, ‘Know Hashem,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” Therefore, we may say that by internalizing the first redemption in this way on Seder Night we may merit to reach this state of “spiritual experience” in the future redemption. This, simply, is the explanation of the Harahaman added on Seder Night: “may Hashem grant us the day that is entirely good, when the righteous sit and benefit from the splendor of the Holy Presence, and may we merit to be one of them.”
Today, with Hashem’s kindness, imagining the future redemption is not so far away from us. Thank God, the Land of Israel is being rebuilt and resettled by multitudes of Jews. Let us all imagine, regardless of where we actually are this Seder Night, that our entire People have come back to their homeland, the Holy Land. Let us imagine that our People are collected in Jerusalem on this night eating the Paschal lamb with rejoicing before Hashem’s Presence in the Beit Hamikdash. For the imagining and “experience” of this night is not only in regard to the taking of our People out of the bondage of Egypt, but also experiencing the redemption, the full redemption. May we merit through this imagining and experience to truly experience this redemption. Then it will be said: “So then, the days are coming,” declares Hashem, “people will no longer say, ‘As surely as Hashem lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 8 but they will say, ‘As surely as Hashem lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them. Then they shall settle in their own land.” This is the message of Hebron, Beacon of the Holy Land, “connecting” [Hebron-hibur means connection] our People to the Divine experience.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #310
The First Shabbat in Hebron after the Six Day War (even before the famous Pesah at the Park Hotel): We organized a Shabbat for students in Hebron. On 8 January a news item appeared in the newspaper “Ma’ariv” headed “Students will hold a Symposium in Hebron.” It stated that this programme would be sponsored by the Military Governor, they would be accommodated in the Military Government Building in Hebron and prayers would take place in the Cave of Machpelah at times determined by the Military Governor. Apparently this news item in “Ma’ariv” prompted the Foreign Ministry to intervene with the Military authorities and asked that they prevent the students from staying in Hebron since it would give expression to activities in the liberated territories which were at the time, in their opinion, undesirable. As a result of this request, the Military Government of Judea and Samaria notified the heads of the Religious Students’ Union that they would not be able to utilise the Military Government Building at all and they even went as far as requesting that they cancel their visit to Hebron completely. This occurred on the Thursday evening and that very evening the students tried to get public figures to intervene and for the military authorities to rescind their cancellation, but to no avail. Dagan, the head of the students’ group thought that he would have to cancel the whole visit and notify all the participants accordingly. However on the Friday morning he took a taxi to Hebron and went to the Park Hotel in Hebron. There he managed to book the entire hotel for Shabbat. The owner Kawasme was only too glad to rent out the hotel and even expressed a willingness to help them as much as possible. On the Friday morning an official notification was received by the office of the Military Government in Hebron telling them not to give any assistance whatsoever to the students. The students were in no way deterred by this and they notified the Hebron Military Government that they were coming. In reply they were informed that their activities would be on their own responsibility. The students did however manage to receive a license from the Military Government to arrange “hikes” in the Hebron area on the Friday and Shabbat! Using this license they were able to obtain firearms from the police for their personal defense.
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