It's followed by Av, which is even heavier (at least the first 10 days, anyway).
If you'd like some help in understanding & dealing with Tammuz (and Av!), you can check out the following posts:
"Instead of stinging nettle, myrtle will rise" (Isaiah 55:13)
"Instead of evil, good will rise." (The Malbim's Interpretation)
We've just started Tammuz, and it's a pretty heavy month.
It's followed by Av, which is even heavier (at least the first 10 days, anyway).
If you'd like some help in understanding & dealing with Tammuz (and Av!), you can check out the following posts:
Rabbi Alon Anava has got a great shiur on the power of the month of Tammuz for transformation, and how using that power correctly can extend throughout the rest of the year.
This shiur really helped me because I always find this time of year depressing and scary.
And yes, many depressing and scary things happened between yesterday, the 17th of Tammuz and 3 weeks from now on the 9th of Av.
But judging events and people favorably can change everything.
In this time period, due to the Crab mazal influencing things to move backwards and the Lion mazal of Av providing a more savage "tear it apart" inclination (both according to the Kli Yakar), we can find ourselves becoming harsher with our hearts and minds.
And this is behind the Destruction of the Beit Hamikdash.
However, seeing the good in people and events, and judging favorably, can utilize the power of Tammuz for greatness.
(This does not mean that we whitewash truly bad acts or truly bad people, or allow them to hurt others, but that we see the good in things and people in addition to the bad, we find some kind of merit or something to be grateful for.)
Rabbi Anava speaks about how the disease is the same word as the Latin and Hebrew name of the month: Cancer/Sartan, and what the root of this disease is and more about the word Sartan and how it relates to the word seret, which is Hebrew for movie.
Being grateful for everything, even if you don't know why, and striving to find some chip of diamond in the mountain of sludge are the keys to utilizing the power of Tammuz.
Please access the audio & video of the shiur here:
The Secrets of Kabbalah behind the Month of Tammuz
Note: English dates are for the year 2018 only.
We've recently entered the month of Tammuz (June 13-July 12), which is followed by the month of Av (July 13-August 10).
Historically, these months contain a lot of tragedy and difficulties.
This is due to the mazal, the astrological influence, of these months.
If you find it harder to work on certain character traits or you find certain flaws getting the best of you, the mazal (Crab/Cancer and Lion/Leo) is the reason.
You also may notice other people acting "off." The mazal is why.
When we know that others are struggling against unseen forces, it helps us to give them the benefit of the doubt and judge them more favorably.
It helps us to judge ourselves more favorably too.
The good thing about the struggle against the mazal of Tammuz and Av is that it gets us into shape for Elul (August 11-September 9), whose mazal is so much more conducive for love and bonding with Hashem, and teshuvah, which in turns prepares us for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
It's all about flexing that teshuvah muscle.
Here are some past posts on the topic:
The Kli Yakar - Parshat Devarim
How to Fight the Crabby Mazal of Tammuz
How to Deal with the Mazal of Crabby Tammuz and Savage Av
May we all succeed in rising above all negative influences.
Seeing as Rosh Chodesh Adar (the first day of the Hebrew month of Adar) is on the horizon, I thought it might be interesting to look at the importance of the Moon.
The Moon plays a major role in Judaism, from determining months and holidays to its necessity for the mitzvah of Birkat Halevanah (Blessing of the Moon).
The Moon also contains profound spiritual and kabbalistic significance.
But in this post, we'll focus on just the bare scientific necessity for the Moon.
What would our world be like without the Moon?
Monstrous Tidal Waves
Everyone knows that the Moon affects tides. The Sun does, too, but to a lesser extent. The reason why the Earth bulges out at the equator is due to its pull on the Earth. This lunar pull also keeps the oceans in check. If the Moon suddenly disappeared, the oceans would flood into every continent, completely changing the map of the world. In fact, the movement of the newly liberated oceans to meet each other would cause 59-foot (the height of a 6-story building) tsunamis all over pushed from behind by the force of the entire ocean.
Every morning, Jews say the blessing "Baruch...rokah ha'aretz al hamayim -- Blessed be...Who spreads the land over the water" to show appreciation for the fact that the water usually stops at the seashore. (Well, that's one of the meanings of the blessing, anyway.) A major reason why it doesn't encroach further is because of the reining-in effect of the Moon as described above.
Without the Moon, the ocean currents would slow down or stop, preventing the transfer of heat around the world.
The Earth as a Drunken Dreidel
The Moon has a stabilizing effect on the Earth. As the Earth spins on its axis, it spins at a tilt that wavers between 22-25 degrees.
Without the Moon, the Earth would swing around like a drunken dreidel, veering from zero degrees (no tilt at all, standing straight up) to an 85-degrees tilt (lying on its side, which would chill the upper hemisphere and shine the Sun directly on the South Pole and presumably cause some major warming and melting down there).
Due to the crazy wobble described above, seasons would just come and go randomly. Antarctica would sometimes be the frozen wasteland we know today and other times be as hot as the tropics. Hot areas of the world would sometimes freeze and cold areas would sometimes bake.
Rotation on Steroids
Without the Moon, the Earth would spin much faster. The Moon acts as a gentle restraint on the Earth (perhaps yet another reason why the Moon is likened to a woman in Jewish allegories and Hebrew grammar). If the Earth spun faster, this would shorten the days to 6-12 hours, which would increase our calendar year to 1000 days. It would also increase the strength of hurricanes, making Category 5 storms the norm.
Of course, there are other results you likely thought of: darker nights, the absence of eclipses, nearly non-existent tides, no asteroid blocker to protect Earth, and so on.
The Torah Blueprint
Our Sages often emphasize that the Torah is a blueprint for the world. Before Hashem created our world, He created the Torah, then structured the world accordingly.
As you can see from the above, without the Moon, not only would we face the challenge of physical survival, but we wouldn't be able to keep many aspects of the Torah relating to time.
Of course, the monster tidal waves wouldn't occur if the Moon never existed, but only if it suddenly disappeared. However, a steady tilt, predictable seasons, and the present calendar could never have developed without the Moon. (Not to mention how difficult life would be under such conditions.)
So whether we're grateful that Hashem created a Moon (at the perfect size and the perfect distance!) or we're grateful that Hashem allows us to keep the Moon, may you enjoy a very good month and rejoice in the fact that we even have such a thing as a month!
Chodesh Tov! May this Adar see the Redemption in a sweet way.
Over the years, I've learned to dread Tammuz and Av.
But I'm trying to view them as the opportunities they actually are, and not as the obstacles and frustration they end up feeling like.
A while back, I wrote a post describing my experiences in Tammuz and explaining the astrological effects based on the Kli Yakar:
How to Fight the Crabby Mazal of Tammuz
Later, the Kli Yakar mentions the effect of Av: the Lion.
Lions tend to savage their prey, which is why hatred and other person-to-person sins came to a head with the Destructions of both Temples on the 9th of Av.
And while we don't justify or excuse bad behavior, we can at least find a merit for people if they start acting wonky in Tammuz and Av:
"Oh, they're not innately awful. It's just that they're having a hard time warding off the influence of Tammuz and Av."
And even though the Gemara tells us that astrological effects do not decide a Jew's destiny, the effects are clearly there.
So what's going on?
And what are we supposed to do?
(Hint: The answer to this particular question is partly answered in the link above.)
Dealing with Tammuz
The mazal of Tammuz influences a person to start moving backwards or sideways, just like a crab.
This means that in Tammuz, you need to push yourself harder just to maintain equilibrium.
Picture yourself strolling down a sunlit path with a gentle breeze on your back.
Now picture yourself marching down an overcast path with hurricane-force winds at your face.
You need to brace yourself and push a lot harder to keep going forward, right?
The fun part of it is that when the hurricane-force winds suddenly stop in Elul, all your pushback ends up flinging your forward, spiritually speaking, into the loving arms of Elul.
Elul stands for "Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li - I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine."
(The acronym is clearer in Hebrew: אלול - אני לדודי ודודי לי )
Anyway, the same idea holds true for Av.
Dealing with Av
As the Kli Yakar explains in Parshat Devarim:
That was in the month of Av whose sign is Aryeh (the Lion) because each person became like a lion who longs to attack his fellow
If in Av you feel like ripping someone apart, give yourself the benefit of the doubt and recognize that it's likely the influence of Av working on you (and not that you are an Godless raging bull of a person) and then do something to counteract those lion-esque tendencies:
By the time Av ends and Elul begins, you'll automatically be in a higher place than you would be otherwise.
Elul is a time that is very welcoming toward and conducive for teshuvah and self-improvement, and sweetening judgements and decrees.
So the very frustrations and challenges of Tammuz and Av are actually the perfect preparation for Elul.
Wishing us all a lot of bracha (blessing) and hatzlacha (success)!
This morning, I clearly saw the half-Moon in the sky at around 10:00 AM.
Over the past several months, I've gone for many, many walks at this hour and never saw the Moon at this time.
This follows along the lines of the Moon's fascinating appearances observed by so many people around the world throughout this past year as described in the post Thoughts on Nibiru-Part I: The Scientific Pros and Cons.
Furthermore, our Sages stated that sometime after Mashiach comes, the Moon will gain her original status equal to the Sun, a status that was originally diminished (although compensated for by granting her Rosh Chodesh and Birkat Levana via the Jewish people and an array of accompanying stars).
The Jewish People
As written in Thoughts on the Unusually Visible Erev Yom Kippur Moon, the Moon symbolizes Am Yisrael and also women (the Sages often referred to the moon as "the Levana," the feminine form of the word "white"). And its increasing illumination and edging into the Sun's realm is a very good sign that our light and authority is increasing, too. Although it doesn't appear that way in This World, the Kli Yakar says in Parshat Bo (scroll down to the section on "Heavenly Assassinations") that before events happen down here, those events must occur in Shamayim.
The Kli Yakar gives the example of the Sar (angelic representative) of Mitzrayim being slain in Shamayim before the Egyptians even started in pursuit of Bnei Yisrael as Bnei Yisrael stood looking out at the not-yet-parted sea. They Egyptians were doomed before they even began their pursuit, but never realized it until the waters were actually crashing down upon them.
Regarding women, the Kli Yakar explains in both Parshat Beshalach (scroll down to "The Jewish Women at the Crossing of the Sea") and V'Zoht Habracha that in the Mashiach-ruled future, women will achieve a certain equality with men. No, not the feminist view of equality, but a genuine spirituality-based equality, which includes experiencing joy equally. Women will no longer suffer from their reproductive system, for example. He doesn't say that women will become men (that's not the goal), but that "males and females will be equal." He explains that women won't have the tzaar (the suffering) inherent in pregancy and birth (and presumably niddah).
He also says that both men and women will shed their physical bodies, which implies a spiritual existence unencumbered by the limitations of gender for either men or women.
Though we Jews may very much feel like we're under the thumb of Yishmael and Esav, the truth is that our light and realm are actually increasing, as shown by the behavior of the Moon in recent months.
May Hashem illuminate pure emuna for all of us.
Go back to Part I
Why would Hashem need to send something like Nibiru?
What follows is solely my own opinion, based on my own subjective observations and discussions with Hashem.
Your conclusions may be very different.
So here it goes:
I keep getting the “message” (for lack of a better word) that there is very, very heavy din [judgment] hanging over all of us.
And this is what Nibiru symbolizes.
But there is also a tremendous amount of love, too.
Jewish, non-Jewish, secular, traditional, frum—doesn’t matter.
The reason why Nibiru’s existence isn’t entirely clear yet is because the judgment hasn’t been sealed. (Again, no proof, just my thoughts.)
Hashem is still giving us a chance to make teshuvah out of love, out of a sincere to desire to come close to Him and to become better people.
And it doesn’t need to be heroic measures. Baby steps are just fine for beginners or backsliders.
There is tremendous love in Shamayim and the time is ripe for even the smallest step in the right direction.
Some people have suffered so much and are also caught up in Western society’s values (even if they think they’ve lived such a frum life that they’re unaffected by Western mores) that they honestly can’t see the right way.
(Please see How to Avoid being a Victim of Mind Control for more discussion.)
Taking that first baby step feels like taking a step off a cliff while blindfolded.
Way too many people dismiss core Jewish values and even outright halacha as things that “only tzaddikim can do” or things that “people did back then, but it’s not for our generation” or else they present such a watered-down superficial version of the original Torah exhortation that it’s like saying a soggy tissue is the same as the tree from which it came, with the same qualities, strength, and fruit.
The road on which the baby steps must be taken consist of 2 things:
Now, it goes without saying that trekking down this road can involve fails, stumbling, careening, belly flops, potholes, and completely spinning off in a fit of pique.
That’s okay. Those fails are all from Hashem, too.
The main thing is to start walking. Even just a tiny step.
Trials and tribulations are meant to bring us closer to Hashem.
As life presses down on us and closes in, we’re supposed to realize that we have no one else to turn to—and turn to Hashem.
But many times, we don’t do that.
There always seems to be yet another expert with whom to consult, yet another method, treatment, or medication to try. There are addictions and other self-harming behaviors. Or sometimes we just remain in a constant state of anger or in a constant state of detachment and disassociation, lashing out our frustrations and fears either aggressively or passive-aggressively at whoever seems to be the most suitable target.
Anything so as not to face up to the truth and do the work necessary.
Yet despite all our most strenuous efforts, things get worse (or they improve temporarily and then get worse) as described here.
A lot of people are angry at or afraid of Hashem. They've been traumatized and Hashem doesn't seem Compassionate or Loving or Merciful. Deep down, they believe He's punitive, harsh, and sadistic.
And that's why even taking one baby step is so meaningful - because it is so hard to overcome all that false and negative programming.
As seen in Part I, there are definitely indications that something might be out there, but there is no clear undeniable pie-in-the-sky proof.
So does Nibiru exist? It does and it doesn’t.
Is it heading our way? Yes—and no.
In the meantime, Hashem is holding it off.
Why Nibiru? And Why Now?
I began to notice a sharp plunge middot and derech eretz that hit people starting around the age of 35.
And if they didn’t catch themselves (meaning, if they didn’t even try to start taking baby-steps toward a raw personal relationship with Hashem, which includes authentic continuous self-introspection/cheshbon hanefesh), they became progressively worse.
For example, I know people who always behaved with sterling middot, and now you wouldn’t believe the hostility and irrationality they express now—for absolutely no reason, completely unprovoked.
In fact, sometimes, they get hostile after you tell them something genuinely positive about themselves or give them comforting chizuk.
Other times, they wait until you’re in a vulnerable moment, and then they kick you when you’re down—which is incredibly nasty. I’m talking about people that I’ve known for 10-20 years. And even those who didn’t have sterling middot, per se, they still started off as pretty good people.
And this turn that starts at around age 35 affects EVERYBODY—including me.
I personally feel that if I hadn’t read Garden of Emuna and started talking to Hashem directly and making a real cheshbon hanefesh, then I would be a really horrible person right now. Or on medication. Or both!
And other people have confided the exact same thing. They also feel that if they hadn’t caught themselves and started talking to Hashem and doing real nitty-gritty teshuvah, they would be just awful right now.
Doing teshuvah and connecting personally to Hashem don’t mean that you act angelic all the time. Only tzaddikim are good all the time.
But it does save you from becoming the embodiment of Erev Rav.
I've had friends who ended up on Prozac for the long term.
What I didn’t know at first was that one of the possible side effects of Prozac is that it makes its user shoot off his or her mouth.
And it’s done in kind of cheerful way because of the false mood Prozac imposes upon its user.
He or she becomes less sensitive to other people.
In fact, sometimes people on Prozac even say shaming or insulting things to you in a loud, gleeful voice (which is really bizarre and embarrassing).
Because Prozac is usually used for depression and because depressed people see the world and often themselves very negatively and hopelessly, they see you that way too. Then they project their own self-loathing and life-loathing onto you.
So they feel better...but everyone else feels worse.
And let me tell you, it is very ugly to be on the receiving end.
I noticed that some people on Prozac showed no interest in me or even in my response to their words, skipping lightly from subject to subject without pause until they ended the conversation with a light "Well, that's all I wanted to say now...bye!" as if they were starring in a one-woman show, monologuing before an attentive yet passive audience.
Yet others still snipe and cheerfully insert insulting comments even when you don't talk at all, expertly finding something hurtful to say even when you provide no "springboard" and remain totally silent.
With the Prozac-sniper, explaining yourself or calmly confronting his or her misperception (i.e., “Why did you call me ‘neurotic’? I’m not acting ‘neurotic.’ I’m showing enthusiasm. Being enthusiastic is not the same as being neurotic.”), you'll receive a blissful smirk in return. There is never any apology, no admission of misunderstanding, nothing. Your feelings simply do not register through the haze of Prozac. They may even imply that if you are bothered by their behavior, then that is a clear sign you need to be on meds, too.
In fact, I've known Prozac-users who encourage others go on meds. Many even start any children who are just old enough to also go on meds. They do this despite the fact that some meds (such as...Prozac!) are contraindicated for young people. For example, the rate of suicide in Prozac-users at age 13 or younger is so high that even the greedy pharmaceutical community was compelled to issue warnings about prescribing Prozac for that age group.
I saw that some of these Prozac enthusiasts want everyone medicated so that they can continue verbally abusing people (including their own children) without feeling any repercussions (such as healthy guilt or remorse).
And yes, of course, many of them have their own story.
In other words, underneath it all, there is a wonderful person who has been broken by life.
But as things stand right now, their behavior is insufferable and I haven’t the fortitude to continue even the most superficial relationship with such people.
What will it take to wake them up?
Answering the Wake-Up Call
We have millennia of mussar by all our Sages telling us that the trials and challenges in life are supposed to make us turn to Hashem.
But right now, there are people cracking under the weight of marital problems, health problems, chinuch problems, financial problems, problems with neighbors and schools, and much more...and they can't bring themselves to connect directly with Hashem.
And it doesn’t matter whether they are frum from birth or baal teshuvah. Many are in a situation in which they no longer have anywhere to turn. They’ve exhausted resources, schools, “experts,” methods, medications, treatments, and so on.
And they still won’t turn to Hashem.
And they won’t do a cheshbon hanefesh.
Oh, they may say Tehillim or do 40 days of Perek Shirah or give tzedakah or go to the grave of their favorite tzaddik or tzaddika.
And those are VERY good and powerful deeds.
But they aren't a replacement for direct connection and chesbon hanefesh.
It all goes together.
For example, some people keep Shabbat, but they don't keep kosher. Some people engage in serious learning while also engaging in serious machloket and lashon hara. Some people do chessed, but also chisel away at the self-worth of the very people they're supposed to be helping. And so on.
There has to be an attempt to keep the whole package of mitzvot and not just the ones considered easy or more appealing.
Likewise, some of people may go over an interaction in which they feel they may have spoken or behaved inappropriately. And they may even apologize—which is all very good.
But they don’t finecomb through themselves and their decisions and their overall behavior and hashkafah on a daily (or even weekly) basis. They don’t dig down and get dirt under their nails, spiritually speaking.
Rockets from Gaza, terror attacks, tragic accidents, the recent upending in American and British politics, mental health issues (considered “incurable” by standard mental health “experts”), chronic physical problems, rising Jew-hatred, chinuch problems, marital problems, societal problems, and much, much more…and some people are answering the wake-up call.
Personally, I needed the wake-up call several times over many years before I forced myself to answer, as described in How I Only Discovered Emuna 20 Years after I Thought I was already Religious and The Erev Rav Strategy: Following the Biggest Bully.
When Bread and Circuses Just Won't be Enough
This post has given examples from within the frum community.
But when I look outside the frum community, I see even more solidly anchored complacency.
An extremely intelligent and successful Jewish professor once told me, “If someone held a gun to my head and said, ‘Choose a religion!’, I’d choose Orthodox Judaism.”
“Not Reform?” I said. “Not Conservative?”
“No,” she said. “I’d definitely choose Orthodox.”
But the gun isn’t to her head and she has been happily intermarried for years and contentedly lives a life completely devoid of Judaism—no Yom Kippur, no Shabbat candle-lighting, no Chanukah candles or Pesech Seder—nothing.
Most people I know who are assimilated Jews and non-Noachide goyim are content to be as they are. Even a life-threatening illness or the death of a loved one does little to jolt them out of their haze.
The only thing I see that can nudge people into taking that first baby step is something that can’t be dealt with or controlled or smoothed over or ignored.
A large pale green dwarf star appearing in our sky cannot be medicated away.
No “expert” can instruct you in the right method for treating it.
Reality shows, mindless novels, Internet surfing, yoga, Buddhist quotes, “giving it your all!”, atheism, raw food diets, addictions, temper tantrums, chocolate fudge cheescake, pretending not to see it, platitudes, getting angry, and giving away parts of Eretz Yisrael to those who want us dead will not touch Nibiru’s effect in any way.
Nothing can stop it or even deter it.
(And all those underground luxury bunkers are bunk. For all their hype, they cannot survive a direct hit from an asteroid or being in the middle of an earthquake fault or massive flooding. Hashem decides where things hit and He has perfect aim.)
If Nibiru does come, I’m kind of hoping it shows up before the scheduled Amona destruction because then I think the big fake Libtards will forget about Amona and just panic (or do teshuvah!).
People will finally have to confront themselves—and deal with God and what it all means.
And I will, too.
(Believe me, as much work as I’ve done on my own middot, I’d be working a lot more intensely if I had a massive brown dwarf star system visibly bearing down on me.)
Here are some resources for getting started in talking to Hashem and cheshbon hanefesh:
And here is how good deeds and emuna can rearrange the stars (including Nibiru) for your benefit:
Go back to Part I.
On Tuesday afternoon, Erev Yom Kippur, I unexpectedly noticed the Moon a full 2 hours before sunset.
Its visibility was even more striking because there were clouds floating around (i.e., its exceptional visibility wasn't due to it merely being the only white thing in the sky) and a cloud slightly covered it.
Additionally, over the summer, I saw the Moon regularly around an hour before sunset.
Of course, there could be practical reasons for it:
1) The Moon is closer to the Sun (enabling the Sun to illuminate it more).
2) The Moon is closer to the Earth.
3) The Sun is shining brighter, making the Moon (and other planetary bodies) brighter.
4) In addition to the Sun, another luminary body (Nibiru!) is shining on us all, making the Moon (and other planetary bodies) brighter.
Most of the above can be checked out online.
However, there are also always spiritual reasons for naturally occurring events.
We know that the Jewish Nation is compared to the Moon.
It seems that if the Moon's light is growing brighter, then that is a good indication that our light is growing brighter, too.
Furthermore, our Sages speak of the Sun and the Moon possessing separate "memshalah" - authority or rulership - the Moon's memshalah occurring at night while the Sun's memshalah occurs during the day. But now the Moon is increasing its memshalah by edging into the Sun's memshalah, which is also a good sign for us.
And even if this was only a one-time occurrence, the fact that it occurred Erev Yom Kippur is still significant.
Finally, many others have already noted that the Moon has become very bright at night and at times, we've seen an enormous and very beautiful halo around the Moon.
I really hope that the Moon's increased light and memshalah is truly a siman tov for us.
May we merit that it be so.
Yesterday (written in 2016), I underwent two experiences which brought out an unusually heated response in me.
I was literally seething inside.
It was also unusually difficult to get a hold of myself and remind myself that hey, everything is from Hashem and to give the benefit of the doubt or daven for the offenders to do teshuvah, etc.
One incident (trying prevent a potential accident as I intervened with a fairly chutzpadik kid to stop him from throwing passionfruits at passing buses) is the type of interaction hasn't happened to me for years.
The other (a car zooming by me anyway as I stood in the middle of the street on a crosswalk and clearly motioning them to STOP so that I could help 3 little boys waiting to cross the street) has NEVER happened to me before.
(It's much more common to witness drivers who see kids waiting to cross often stop of their own accord. Buses here sometimes even swing around to block both lanes of traffic until the kids are safely across the street.)
And these 2 incidents happened within 15 minutes of each other.
What is going on?
How can that kid be such a knucklehead?
And how can two middle-aged ladies in sheitels be so callous?
And why was I responding like an atheist?
(By "atheist," I mean, as far as the intensity and duration of my inner rage - as if the events happened on their own without Hashem intending them to happen that way. I certainly don't regret telling the kid to stop nor do I regret my rebuking hand gestures and facial expression to the ladies as they sped by - even if maybe the sun was in their eyes or their brakes weren't working or whatever.)
Hours later, I remembered the Kli Yakar on Parshat Devarim 1:1.
Astrologically speaking, Tammuz is "the month whose sign is Sartan [the Crab] in that his nature is to go backwards. And so they [the Jews] went backwards...."
Historically, Jews end up committing some pretty big sins in Tammuz, like the Sin of the Golden Calf.
So I'm not really turning into a crazed avenger and those people aren't necessarily bad seed, per se; we're all just regressing under Tammuz's "crabby" mazal. (Ha!)
Yet the Gemara tells us Ein mazal l'Yisrael: Astrological forces cannot overpower a Jew.
Therefore, in Parshat Bo, the Kli Yakar reassures us that for those who:
And that is the way to keep going straight ahead despite the disorienting forces of this month's mazal.
And it shall be when your son will ask you tomorrow, "What is this?"....
וְהָיָה כִּי יִשְׁאָלְךָ בִנְךָ מָחָר לֵאמֹר מַה זֹּאת
Throughout Pesach, we read from Parshat Bo.
So the Kli Yakar uses that parsha to provide illuminating insights into Bnei Yisrael's first Pesach, the parable of the Four Sons, and what it all means for us and how we can apply these lessons to our own lives.
(The Kli Yakar's insight into the Son Who Does Not Know to Ask appears here.)
The Universal Lesson of the Wise Son
Regarding the Wise Son, the Hagadah says the following:
What does the wise son say?
The Kli Yakar notes that the questions and answers of the Wise Son are mentioned in the Torah itself:
And you shall tell your son on that day, saying, "Because of this, the Lord did [this] for me when I went out of Egypt." (Shemot 13:8)
The Kli Yakar sees the order of the answer as a universal lesson on how to attain spiritual perfection:
....the Wise [Son] shall learn the order of the acquirement of perfection. And this is the order:
Along these lines, why is it so important that the Pesach Offering be the last thing one eats on the Seder night? Why is it so crucial that the taste of the Pesach Offering linger in one's mouth, and not the bitter herb or the matzah?
The Pesach Offering is the primary objective and the desired final purpose, elicited by the eating of the matzah and the bitter herb: That is to say, the Pesach Offering signifies emuna in Hashem Yitbarach.
We'll see exactly why in the following section.
The Pesach Offering vs. The Entire Zodiac
The Kli Yakar explains the tremendous power behind the Pesach Offering:
The Pesach Offering [Zevichat HaPesach, AKA "the Pascal Lamb," AKA "haPesach"] bears witness that Hashem's Testimony is Faithful in that Hashem Yitbarach rules over the astrological system, even over the sign of Aries [the Ram], which is the first-born and leader of all the Zodiac [according to the opinion that Nissan, whose sign is Aries, is actually the first month of the Jewish year] and certainly over the rest of the Zodiac.
The Symbolism of Matzah and Chametz
As is well-known, matzah represents humility. The pre-Pesach drive to annihilate, throw out, and nullify all chametz (leavening and leavened products) represents the goal of doing the same to our Yetzer Hara, and especially to any unearned sense of superiority and haughty pride. Chametz makes the otherwise flat dough rise just as haughtiness makes us rise in our own estimation.
....the dough of the matzah is "limited;" it does not rise.
And here's what the Kli Yakar has to say about chametz:
Chametz is sentenced to burning because anyone who is haughty is judged by fire as seen in the Yalkut (Tzav 480) regarding the verse: "The Olah [Burnt Offering] that burns...." (VaYikrah 6:2) because the nature of fire is to rise upward. Likewise, one who rises upward [i.e., become haughty or prideful] is judged by it.
May we all merit to be truly liberated this Pesach.
Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Luntschitz (1550-1619) lived in Bohemia (which is today Poland and Czechoslovakia). He served as rabbi and dayan and wrote several books, the most well-known being his commentary on the Chumash known as the Kli Yakar.
Although I did borrow a couple of terms here and there from Rabbi Elihu Levine's translation, this is primarily my own translation and any errors are also mine.
For a wonderful rendering of the Kli Yakar into English on Parshat Bo, including helpful footnotes, please see Rabbi Elihu Levine's translation.
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