Pesach, Matzah and Maror
Rav Yisrael Asulin
Translated by Moshe Neveloff
Tuesday, 11th of Nisan, 5776
The night of the Passover Seder is coming closer, this great night which we work hard for more than any other time of the year. Soon we will all sit around the seder table and say these important words from the Passover Hagaddah: “Whoever has not explained the following three things on Passover has not fulfilled his duty, namely: Pesach- the Passover Offering; Matzah- the Unleavened Bread; Maror- the Bitter Herbs.”
What is special about these three words? What is their meaning?
These three words express, first and foremost, what happened to the Jewish people, long ago, when they left Egypt. The Jews took the Passover offering, “With matzot and bitter herbs shall they eat it,” (Numbers, 9:11) and this was their preparation for the great redemption. They did what they were commanded to do, here below, and Hashem, from above, took them out of Egypt with signs and wonders.
However, in these words there is also a very deep teaching, which says: “My precious Jew, you want to leave Egypt? You want to be redeemed? Then what you need is Pesach, Matzah and Maror!”
What does this mean?
Just as in Egypt, also today, Pesach, Matzah and Maror symbolize your path to redemption.
Maror- A Burning Desire for Change
Why do we eat bitter herbs on the Seder night?
They are in memory of the bitterness we experienced in Egypt. It was bitter for us! Very, very bitter!! Because of this strong bitterness we screamed to Hashem, we asked to be redeemed, we wanted with all our strength to leave Egypt, and this Maror is the beginning of our redemption.
What does this mean?
There is the situation of a slave, who thinks that being a slave is actually something good. They bring him food and give him a place to sleep, provide him with a schedule (even if it’s not nice; however it’s organized and orderly…), they give him in the menu watermelons and garlic… and he is completely trapped in the illusion of ‘I loved my master’…
A slave like this has no chance of leaving Egypt!
In order to leave Egypt you need to feel that it is bitter! To hate the slavery. To feel the pain, the enslavement. Because only if you think that being a slave is really terrible, you will leave that situation in the end. There will come a moment when you won’t care about anything else, and you’ll find the path to escape from there and be redeemed.
This is true also inside of our soul in every area.
For example, working on marriage. As long as you have the outlook which says that it’s good to be alone and why do you even need an obligatory relationship like this which requires you to give and consider and listen and be there for the other all the time, which causes you to lose your privacy… it’s better to be alone! But then you won’t have the true and necessary drive to leave yourself and truly connect to your spouse.
When do you receive the internal will to leave yourself and completely dedicate yourself to your marriage?
Only when you taste with your whole mouth the bitterness of the loneliness and feel completely what is written in the Torah ‘It’s not good that man be alone’ (Genesis, 2:18), only then and only from there, the door to your redemption is opened.
Pesach- To Slaughter the Idol Worship
What is the idea of the Passover offering?
Before the exodus from Egypt Hashem commanded the Jewish people to take a lamb, an idol of Egypt, and slaughter it. Not in hiding, not in a way that no one would see, rather completely in the open, so that each and every Egyptian would see how we took the symbol which they were enslaved to and we turned it into roasted lamb.
What was the reason for this?
The Jewish people needed to be freed from the idol worship of Egypt, and in order to be completely freed, without leaving any footsteps or any scars, they needed to break the Egyptian idol and slaughter it.
This is true also in the depths of the soul.
Every one of us has some type of idol worship in his head, some type of substitute will allows him to escape from the real thing. Surely it is not in his conscience, but he is completely enslaved to it. Some of us serve the idol of money, others the idol of honor, or beauty, or excellence or career or appearance…
What is the problem with the fact that I want a little money or that it’s important for me to succeed at work? As long as the main thing for me is the service of Hashem which I’m obligated by, and all the other things are just background, it’s okay. The problem with idol worship is that it turns the less important into the main thing. The moment that this happens- you disconnect from life, from your path to redemption!
If, for example, it’s very important for me to succeed at work, how much time and availability and energy will be left for me to dedicate to my marriage? And if I serve the idol of ‘everything is perfect and there’s no problem’, how can I listen to my wife when it’s hard for her and everything is not exactly perfect for her?
Because in order to reach true freedom, to leave Egypt and split the sea, you need to know to ignore your ways of idol worship and focus on what’s important.
If I have Pesach and Maror in my soul, then I’m ready for one more important part of the great exodus, and that is the Matzah.
Matzah- Complete Trust
What is Matzah?
The Holy Zohar explains that Matzah is the bread of faith and also the bread of healing!
What does this mean?
Faith is not connecting to something that I understand and see openly; for that which I can see clearly I don’t need faith. True faith begins where the intellect stops. Where I don’t understand and don’t see anything- that is where faith begins. It is far beyond intellect.
This is one of the main powers that we need to strengthen in order to reach a true connection- with Hashem, with myself, with my wife and with my children, the power of trust and faith; to look a little deeper, and only what is apparent to us.
If I see, for example, in my spouse only what is revealed, how he or she looks and what they do and say, then I’m connecting only to their external reality, which seems good sometimes and sometimes bad. However, in order to reach a true and complete connection, you need to obtain complete trust in their good. It’s clear to me that my spouse is the essence of good! What if he or she does something which is nonsense? If my spouse doesn’t understand me despite the fact that I explained the point to them day and night? If they fall again and again into the same mistake?
Then it’s not their true self. It’s their not true self, which they certainly need to work on to be saved from, but their internal self is complete and pure!
This is being faithful.
How do we reach this faith?
By way of the Matzah!
What is special about Matzah that helps us obtain faith?
Its specialness is that in contrast to leavened bread which sours our consciousness with arrogance, Matzah is the bread of poverty, the bread of humility.
This is the secret of the Matzah and the faith- humility. This is also the secret of the soul. If you don’t have humility and you’re only full of yourself, then you don’t have any place for the other person, and you lose the opportunity to connect. However, if you have humility then you can believe in the internal, complete good of yourself and of the other person and not be stuck with all the ‘proofs’ of evil which come from an exile mentality.
In this way you too can fulfill your obligation and leave what is constricting your soul and be redeemed, very soon.