Monday, May 27, 2024

Haman Was Right! (About One Thing)

I love the beginning of Pesach bein hazemanim. During these weeks of Chodesh Nissan, one notices something unique about Klal Yisroel that one does not witness at any other time of the year. That is our chavivus hamitzvos, how much we care about and love mitzvos.

When I pass a car wash and see bochurim feverishly vacuuming cars, I am overcome by a great feeling. “Ah! Pesach is coming. Look how Yidden care so much about getting rid of every crumb of chometz!” When I walk in the street and see mounds of old furniture, carriages, bikes, and who knows what else flanking the sidewalks, I realize, “You know what? Yidden are cleaning for Pesach. Mothers, fathers, bochurim and girls are working so hard…”

Upbeat music is playing in the homes of Yisroel kedoshim, holy Yidden, and yes, contrary to what some think, Yidden are holy. In fact, this time of year, when everyone is preparing for Pesach, is an opportune time to marvel and say, “Look how wonderful Yidden are! Look at all the young people, the girls and the bochurim helping for Pesach, running around, cleaning, shopping, busy with hachanos for this special Yom Tov, a Yom Tov that characterizes the uniqueness of Am Yisroel as Hashem’s children.”

Haman’s Lashon Hara

I hope my readers will forgive me for going back to Purim, but in the spirit of “ah gantz yohr Purim,” I would like to pose a question that the Rachmastrivka Rebbe of Boro Park brings in his sefer on Pesach. He says that Haman told terrible lashon hara to Achashveirosh about the Yidden. He said, “The Jews don’t follow the laws of the king. How so? The entire year they are saying, ‘Today is Shabbos, today is Pesach…’”

Perhaps we can understand Haman’s lashon hara on the Jews regarding Shabbos. After all, Shabbos comes every week and Jews are busy with Shabbos, especially on Thursday and Friday. But Pesach? It is only eight days during the year. That’s it. How could Haman say that the Yidden say every day, “It is Pesach today”?

Hachanos for Pesach…Starting Sukkos?!

Rav Elozor of Lizhensk, son of the Noam Eliemelech, answers with a profound explanation that shows the beauty of the Jewish nation. He said, “It wasn’t the eight days of Pesach that the Jews keep with which Haman could not make peace. Indeed, Pesach is not such a long holiday. What drove him crazy were the hachanos for Pesach, the fact that Yidden were indeed busy with Pesach throughout the year. It starts already during the summer when they cut the wheat for the matzos. Then, in the middle of the winter, they are baking matzos…”

I remember my grandmother saying that in Europe, at the beginning of the winter, they would start making the fat from the geese for Pesach along with the borscht and preserves for Pesach.

All the major hashgachos have been doing Pesach runs in factories since after Sukkos. There are wonderful Jewish women who are already Pesach cleaning during the Chanukah season, and certainly during the last two months before Pesach, people are cleaning, shopping and doing the myriad other tasks associated with Pesach.

My daughters have been talking about shopping for Pesach clothing since well before Rosh Chodesh Adar…

Walk out of your house today and in any frum community you will see signs everywhere for car cleaning, shaimos pick-up, chometz takeout, and the list goes on. If you get any publication delivered to your house, you will see hundreds of advertisements for every kind of Pesach service that you can think of.

The Pessimistic and Optimistic Points of View

What does this mean? If you want to look at it with a pessimistic perspective, you will say that there is too much consumerism in our society. We spend so much and there are so many newfound “needs” that never existed in times of old.

That is not wrong, and yes, there is too much consumerism in our society, but I think that we should look at all of this with a benevolent eye as well. Look at how Yidden prepare for Yom Tov! They are busy with all kinds of Yom Tov busyness – cleaning for Pesach, kashering for Pesach, painting for Pesach, scraping your floor for Pesach, and buying things for Pesach. Look at how much hachanah goes into a Yom Tov that lasts a mere eight days. Isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t that show the beauty of our nation?

We are so busy preparing for Hashem’s Yom Tov and spending money on Hashem’s Yom Tov. We are buying food and clothing, and you know what else we are doing? We are making sure that those with less will also be able to buy food and clothing for Yom Tov. Millions upon millions of dollars are distributed every year so that every person can be a king or a queen at their Pesach Seder and their Yom Tov tables will not be lacking.

Klal Yisroel is simply amazing in this fact. Yes, we may have succumbed to consumerism to some degree, but you know what? We may want things for ourselves, but we also want others to have a beautiful Pesach. We want other mothers and their daughters to have new outfits and new shoes for Pesach, and Yisroel kedoshim give for this. We want every family to have meat and fish and matzos with the best hashgacha, so we give and give.

Our hachanah is not selfish hachanah for Pesach. It is hachanah for Hashem and Hashem’s people.

The Rachmastrivka Rebbe reminisces about the tremendous amount of effort that Yidden invested in hachanah, recalling from his youth how before you could buy anything readymade and before we had some of the machines and cleaning and cooking aids that we have today, Yidden would start way before Pesach, with such a bren, such a holy fire, undertaking the difficult tasks associated with Pesach.

He recalled that when he was a boy, they had in the house a metal wire strung between two poles, where they would hang wet towels and the like. “I remember my zaide, Rav Dovid of Rachmastrivka, would spend so much time kashering that metal wire until it became red hot. I wondered to myself, ‘Why is he bothering? Firstly, what kind of chometz is there, and even if there was chometz, for pennies one could get a new wire and not have to be busy for so long with the difficult task of libbun, burning out the wire?’ When I got older,” the rebbe continued, “I realized that my grandfather had a spiritual desire to engage in the avodah of haggalah and libbun, purging and burning out, as he tried to purge and burn out any vestiges of the yeitzer hara in his preparation for the great day, when we once again become Hashem’s nation on the night of Pesach.”

The truth is that I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for the love of Hashem that all the many hachanos for Pesach display.

Yidden really do prepare for Pesach with a bren, even today. The amount of effort that we invest in this eight-day Yom Tov, which flies by and is over before you can blink, is amazing.

We should appreciate that.

The Men’s Hachanos…

One more thing. Although in many ways women take the lion’s share of the hachanos, as they are busy with Pesach for many weeks and even months in advance, men have a job to do that only they can do. Yes, of course, they need to help at home so that the family will make it to Pesach, but they have another job as well. Sometimes, in an effort to prepare and buy and clean before Pesach, we get so busy with those hachanos that we forget that the ultimate mitzvah that men and fathers have is vehigadeta levincha, fulfilling the mitzvah of sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. The seforim bring that on the night of Pesach, the emunah that a father can infuse penetrates straight into the neshomah of his children. There is no night like the night of Pesach, which is mesugal to infuse one’s children with emunah.

That, however, takes hachanah as well. During the buzz and constant upheaval of pre-Pesach preparations, it is important that every father find some time to actually learn the Haggadah, understand what he is saying, and prepare basic lessons from the Haggadah that he can transmit to his children at their age level.

Yes, it may take some forethought to carve out the time, but it is a hachanah that is every bit as important as any of the other hachanos.

Let us appreciate the amazing chavivus for mitzvos that Yidden show at this time of the year and realize that it isn’t only “ah gantz yohr Purim,” but rather “ah gantz yohr Pesach!”



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