Pesah Week Meditations
Translated and compiled by Rav Rahmiel Drizin:
Alef”Taf ; — The day of the week on which the first day (Alef) of Pesah takes place will also be the day of the week when Tisha Be’Av occurs. “With matzot and merorim (bitter articles) they should eat it” connects the matzoh of Pesah to Tisha Be’Av, a day of mourning, the most bitter day of our year.
Beit”Shin :— The second day (Beit) of Pesah will be the day when : Shavuot falls.
Gimmel”Reish — The third day (Gimmel) of Pesah will be the day when first day of Rosh Hashanah takes place.
Daled”Kof — The fourth day (Daled) of Pesah will be the day of Kriat haTorah,
which is Simhat Torah, when we conclude the annual cycle of Torah reading and start again from the beginning.
Hei”Tzaddik — The fifth day (Hei) of Pesah is the day of Tzom, the fast of Yom Kippur.
Vav”Pei — The sixth day (Vav) of Pesah is the day on which 5 Purim has taken place a month earlier (in Adar). It is necessary to know what day Purim took place the month before in order to calculate the day of Lag BaOmer since Lag BaOmer and Purim always occur on the same day of the week.
Meditation for 15 Nissan: 1st Day of Pesah
We start with Alef”Taf — The day of the week on which the first day (Alef) ! of Pesah
takes place will also be the day of the week when Tisha Be’Av occurs. “With matzot and
merorim (bitter articles) they should eat it” connects the matzoh of Pesah to Tisha Be’Av, a day
of mourning, the most bitter day of our year.
We read in the Haggadah right before the “Egyptian Hallel”:
He [Gd] took us from slavery to freedom,
from sorrow to joy,
and from mourning to festivity,
and from deep darkness to great light
and from bondage to redemption
So at our time of greatest joy, when we left Egypt, we recall our pain. It is sort of like a coin. On the one side there is the revealed good which we celebrate. On the other there is the pain of bitter times. But this is the same coin! These bitter times we are told are really concealed good. As it is said, Gam Zu LeTovah…this too is for the good.
Our job, perhaps is to keep flipping the coin to make sure we realize that when things seem bad, that they can become good in an instant. On Tisha Be’Av we sing a Kinnot/lamentation of unknown authorship, following the Alef-Bet that has been used to connect the ; Tav of Tisha Be’Av to the ! Alef first day of Pesah:
A fire of elations burns within me, when I recall in my heart what happened,
when I went forth from Egypt (in triumph);
But I will arouse lamentations so that I remember what really occurred,
when I went forth from Jerusalem (in chains)
Pesach Reading from the Zohar
Many Sefardi Haggadot list this to be read before Maggid. The following (26th) commandment is to relate the praise of the exodus from Egypt, whichis incumbent upon every person always to relate these praises. We have explained thatevery person who relates the exodus from Egypt and rejoices when relating that account isdestined to rejoice with the Shekhinah in the World to Come, which is joy from all sides.For such is a person who rejoices in his Master, and the Holy One, blessed be He, rejoicesin his story. At that time, the Holy One, blessed be He, gathers His whole retinue, and says to them:’Go and listen to the account of My excellency that My children are relating, rejoice in Myredemption.’ At that time, they all gather and come and join with Yisrael to hear the storyof the praise. They rejoice with the joy of the deliverance by their Master, and come tothank and praise the Holy One, blessed be He, for all these miracles and mighty deeds, andthank Him for the Holy Nation that He has on earth that rejoices in the joy of thedeliverance of their Master. Then His strength and power are increased above. By their recounting, the children ofYisrael give power to their Master, like a king whose strength and power are increasedwhen his strength is praised and he is acknowledged. All fear him and his glory rises aboveall of them. Therefore, it is incumbent to praise and relate this story, as we learned.Similarly, it is the duty of every person to relate before the Holy One, blessed be He, andpublicize the miracle among all these miracles that He did. One may ask why it is obligatory; does not the Holy One, blessed be He, know everything,everything that was and will be in the future? And wherefore this publicity before Him ofwhat He did, if He knows? Surely one has to make the miracle known and relate beforeHim all that He did, because these words ascend and all the company above gather and seethem, and give thanks before the Holy One, blessed be He, and His glory rises over themabove and below. It is the same with he who relates and enumerates his sins, of everything that he did. If youask why this is necessary, it is because the Accuser is constantly before the Holy One,blessed be He, in order to recount and seek retribution for the sins of people, and todemand Judgment against them. However, when the person enumerates each and everyone of his sins beforehand, he does not leave any pretext to the Accuser to exploit. And theAccuser can not demand any Judgment against him, for he always demands Judgmentfirst, and afterwards enumerates and accuses. Therefore, the person should take his owninitiative before the Accuser and enumerate his own sins. As soon as the Accuser sees this, he has no pretext to complain against him, and then takesleave from him entirely. If he repents, well, but if not, the Accuser rests on him and says:’So and so who came before you unashamedly, he kicked his Master, his sins are such andsuch.’ Therefore, it is advisable that a person be careful in all this, so that he should beconsidered a faithful servant before the Holy One, blessed be He.LaShon Hakamim (Vol 1, p. 171) suggests this learning upon one’s table during the meal in apleasant voice, which consists of collections from the Holy Zohar.Peace to you Holy Holiday! Peace to you Holy Hag! Peace to you Holy Guest! You arecalled Holy! You are an appointed time called Holy. You are crowned and desired. Andyou are sanctified and praised with joy. You are considered the deep of the depths. Riverscome and flow from you. And Yisrael who are called Holy receive you with glowing facesin joy and in praise. They appoint you and prepare for you a rich feast. They set theirtables with complete preparation and beautiful vessels. This is the joy and praise to theHoly One Blessed be He.The Holiday of Pesah corresponds to the right arm. How beloved and precious are you! On you Yisrael went out from a foreign domain to that of a Holy supervision. On you itsays ” For seven days leavening shall not be found in your homes.” The bread is calledMatzah, for it subdues and subjugates; namely, it chases away the evil ones of all sides andmakes a quarrel with them, just as the name Shadai of the mezuzah chases away the evilspirits and demons that are at the gate. So, too, Matzah chases them away from all thedwellings of holiness, and makes a quarrel and a fight with them. How beloved are your days which are days of joy! These days rise to the the supernalhonor. In you is the joy of Yisrael who rejoice in the redemption of their Master. In youYisrael praises the might of the Holy One blessed is He and gives strength to above. In youthe Holy One blessed be He rejoices in His story and praise.On you Yisrael eats the food of healing. On you they eat matzah which is the curative toaid in coming into and knowing the secret of Faith. This is the bread of wisdom in whichYisrael receives the supernal wisdom of the Torah and brings them on Her path. On youall Yisrael needs to guard and protect from Hametz and leavening at all times. And alltheir food and drink all are protected.