To all my Madlik friends, let me take this opportunity to wish you a liberating Passover. In preparing for the Seder, I found myself going over some previous posts, for many of which I had forgotten the punch-lines. I’m happy to share below (scroll down to bottom) on the Wise and Evil Son and on Pour out Your Wrath.
Since my daughter is, please God getting married this summer, I also share below an intro to kiddush this year on Shabbat/Yom Tov. Feel free to share with other parents and couples in Wedding Planner mode.
The Seders are special this year because they occur on Shabbat. In the special kiddush that we recite we note the difference between the holiness of Shabbat and the holiness of the Festival.
As Rabbi Sachs writes:
The two forms of holiness — Shabbat and festivals – are different. Shabbat represents creation. The festivals represent redemption. Shabbat is about the presence of God in nature. The festivals are about the presence of God history. Accordingly Shabbat was declared holy by God Himself at the culmination of creation. God “blessed the seventh day and declared it holy” (Gen. 2:3). The festivals, by contrast, are sanctiﬁed by the Jewish people through their determination of the calendar – just as redemption takes place in history when we act in partnership with God. Thus on Shabbat we end the Kiddush by saying Mekadesh haShabbat, meaning that it is God who sanctifies Shabbat; but on festivals we say Mekadesh Yis’rael vehazemanim, meaning, “God sanctifies Israel, and Israel in turn sanctiﬁes time.” Shabbat is holiness “from above to below.” The festivals are holiness “from below to above.”
Rabbi Sachs could have added, that the three biblical words for festival all imply a meeting, a journey, a dating-dance or pilgrimage. Moed is a meeting as in the Ohel Moed; the moveable tabernacle in the desert. Regel as in the Shelosha Regalim (the Three Pilgrimage Festivals) literally means foot and Hag as in Hag Sameach comes from the same root as the Arabic word for the Haj, a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage. Hag, comes from חָגַג châgag; to move in a circle, to march in a sacred procession, to observe a festival; by implication, to be giddy:—celebrate, leap, dance, reel to and fro.
The only other time we make such a wonderful kiddush is under the wedding Huppah when we sanctify the wine twice. The marriage ceremony is called Kedushin – kiddush in the plural. Successful marriages contain this double entendre.
According to many traditions, marriages are made in heaven. There is even a Midrash that claims that God stays busy after creating the world by matchmaking. This is the kiddushin of the Sabbath. When two kindred souls (separated before birth or at the foot of Sinai) find each other and re-unite.
But the second kiddushin is equally significant and it is a reciprocal meeting, it includes happenstance and seizing of the moment, it contains the mating dance of a first date. It is a lifelong journey together, step by step on a-once-in-a-life-time heartfelt yet at the same time giddy pilgrimage. This is a marriage that grows stronger and flourishes over time.
It is these two miracles and possibilities of holiness that we celebrate when Shabbat and Festival coincide and which we shall all celebrate under the movable tabernacle called a Huppah in the near future!
Oh… and did I mention that when a festival falls on the Shabbat you add LOVE (b’Ahava).
Esther’s Purim message and how women save the world
Using Esther and other Biblical heroines we explore a feminist take on a Rabbinic theme of women sinning for the sake of heaven and for a greater good….
Listen to the madlik podcast:
The podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at a Kavanah session at TCS – The Conservative Synagogue of Westport, CT.
Esther sent a message to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night and day; I also and my maidens will fast likewise, and so will I go in to the king, not according to the custom” (Esther 4:16). Rabbi Abba said: It will not be according to my usual custom, for every day until now when I submitted myself to Ahasuerus it was under compulsion, but now I will be submitting myself to him of my own free will. And Esther further said: “And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). What she meant was: Just as I was lost to my father’s house ever since I was brought here, so too, shall I be lost to you, for after voluntarily having relations with Ahasuerus, I shall be forever forbidden to you. (Babylonian Talmud Megillah 15a)[i][ii]
לך כנוס את־כל־היהודים הנמצאים בשושן וצומו עלי ואל־תאכלו ואל־תשתו שלשת ימים לילה ויום גם־אני ונערתי אצום כן ובכן אבוא אל־המלך אשר לא־כדת וכאשר אבדתי אבדתי עד אשר לא כדת אמר רבי אבא שלא כדת היה שבכל יום ויום עד עכשיו באונס ועכשיו ברצון וכאשר אבדתי אבדתי כשם שאבדתי מבית אבא כך אובד ממך
Ulla said: Tamar engaged in licentious sexual intercourse [with her father-in-law, Judah (see Genesis, chapter 38),] and Zimri ben Salu also engaged in licentious sexual intercourse [with a Midianite woman (see Numbers, chapter 25).] Tamar engaged in licentious sexual intercourse and merited that kings descended from her and she also merited to be the ancestor of prophets [e.g., Isaiah, who was related to the royal family]. Conversely, with regard to Zimri, several multitudes of Israel fell due to him.
Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: Greater is a transgression committed for its own sake, i.e., for the sake of Heaven, than a mitzva performed not for its own sake.
The Gemara questions this comparison: But didn’t Rav Yehuda say that Rav said: A person should always occupy himself with Torah and mitzvot even not for their own sake, as it is through acts performed not for their own sake that good deeds for their own sake come about? How, then, can any transgression be considered greater than a mitzva not for the sake of Heaven?
אמר עולא תמר זינתה זמרי זינה
תמר זינתה יצאו ממנה מלכים ונביאים זמרי זינה נפלו עליו כמה רבבות מישראל
אמר ר”נ בר יצחק גדולה עבירה לשמה ממצוה שלא לשמה והאמר רב יהודה אמר רב לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה ובמצות אפי’ שלא לשמן שמתוך שלא לשמן בא לשמן
Rather say: A transgression for the sake of Heaven is equivalent to a mitzva not for its own sake. The proof is as it is written: “Blessed above women shall Yael be, the wife of Hever the Kenite, above women in the tent she shall be blessed” (Judges 5:24 Etz Hayim p 425), and it is taught: Who are these “women in the tent?” They are Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. Yael’s forbidden intercourse with Sisera for the sake of Heaven is compared to the sexual intercourse in which the Matriarchs engaged.[iii]
Rabbi Yoḥanan said: That wicked one, Sisera, engaged in seven acts of sexual intercourse with Yael at that time, as it is stated: “Between her feet he sunk, he fell, he lay; between her feet he sunk, he fell; where he sunk, there he fell down dead” (Judges 5:27). Each mention of falling is referring to another act of intercourse.
אלא אימא כמצוה שלא לשמה דכתיב (שופטים ה, כד) תבורך מנשים יעל אשת חבר הקני מנשים באהל תבורך מאן נשים שבאהל שרה רבקה רחל ולאה
א”ר יוחנן שבע בעילות בעל אותו רשע באותה שעה שנאמר (שופטים ה, כז) בין רגליה כרענפלשכב בין רגליה כרענפל באשר כרע שם נפל שדוד
Lots Daughters Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Avin said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa said: A
person should always come first with regard to a matter of a mitzva, as in reward of the one night that the elder daughter of Lot preceded the younger for the sake of a mitzva, she merited to precede the younger daughter by four generations to the monarchy of the Jewish people. The descendants of Ruth the Moabite ruled over the Jewish people for four generations: Obed, Yishai, David, and Solomon, before the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam, whose mother was Naamah the Ammonite. (Babylonian Talmud Tractate Nazir 23:b)
א”ר חייא בר אבין א”ר יהושע בן קרחה לעולם יקדים אדם לדבר מצוה שבשכר לילה אחת שקדמתה בכירה לצעירה
זכתה וקדמה ארבעה דורות בישראל למלכו’
Starting with Eve and that damned apple, women have been depicted (and mostly condemned) as the willful and wily seducers of men: …Even the daughter of the patriarch Jacob, a woman who is the apparent victim of rape, is blamed by some of the more misogynistic rabbinical sages for provoking her rapist. And a minority tradition in the rabbinical literature reaches a similar conclusion about Lot’s daughters: “Lot is a warning example to men to avoid being alone with women, lest [they] should entice them to sin, as did Lot’s daughters.”
However, “an open-eyed reading of the Bible reveals that women play a crucial and dynamic role in the destiny of humankind, in both Jewish and Christian tradition. Inevitably, a woman figures decisively in the recurring theme of “the birth of the chosen one,” starting with the matriarchs of the Hebrew Bible and culminating with the Virgin Mary in the Christian Bible. As we have already seen, Lot’s daughters and Judah’s daughter-in-law are examples of how the bearer of the “chosen one” is not passively impregnated with the seed of a patriarch; rather, these women take it upon themselves to defy the will of powerful men and sometimes God himself in order to bring about the crucial birth. Indeed, the Bible frequently singles out “the woman as initiator of events,” as Ramras-Rauch puts it. “From Eve through Sarah and Esther, women have shaped sacred history through word and deed.””[iv]
Contemporary Feminist Interpretations of the “Sin” of Eve [v]
Mieke Bal[vi] does not see the action of eating the fruit as sin. Rather, Bal views the woman’s choice to eat as a way to gain the wisdom that will make her like God. Ironically, her choice also fulfills God’s intention of humanity made in the divine image (Gen. 1:27). By choosing to eat and gain knowledge, including sexual knowledge, the woman makes the continuance of the species possible, even though the individual will not be immortal. Her choice is a choice for reality. Her choice puts an end to the fantasy of individual immortality. It opens up reality as we know it.
Lyn Bechtel asks, why, if humans were created immortal, were they also created sexual? If they were created immortal, why were they made of finite clay? Why after eating the fruit do the humans fear their nakedness rather than death? Why is it considered punishment for Adam to be sent into the world to be a farmer, when Genesis 2:5 tells us that humans were intended to cultivate the ground? Bechtel interprets the Adam and Eve story as the story of human maturation…. Thus it is better to interpret this to mean that those who eat will become aware of the reality of death. That is what gradually happens as we mature. … After the humans mature, they are ready to enter the world where they will take up their life’s work, the work God intended them to do from the beginning. Although Bechtel sees the story as androcentric, she does not believe it is sexist. In addition, her reading has the advantage of placing life in the real world in a positive light. It is not a punishment for sin, but the world God created for mature men and women to share as partners.
Dutch scholar Ellen van Wolde discusses this problem in her treatment of the Adam and Eve story, which is similar to Bechtel’s. She sees the clue to the whole story in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” She writes: As man leaves his father and mother to become independent, so man, male and female, leaves YHWH God by means of his transgression of the prohibition in 3:1–7 to become independent. . . . The realization that verse 2:24 presents man’s process of development in a nutshell and the realization that a similar behavior can be observed in man’s attitude towards YHWH God, makes the reader aware of the fact that Gen 2–3 is really one extensive description of this growth. Van Wolde sees the transgression as a necessary disobedience, because freedom is the one thing that God could not build directly into the universe. Freedom cannot be conferred. It can only be grasped.
Carol Meyers, one of the most important recent interpreters of the Adam and Eve story, treats Genesis 2–3 as a narrative of human origins, as a story that explains why certain human conditions are as they are, and as a parable or wisdom tale. … The prominent role of the female rather than the male in the wisdom aspects of the Eden tale is a little-noticed feature of the narrative. It is the woman, and not the man, who perceives the desirability of procuring wisdom. The woman, again not the man, is the articulate member of the first pair who engages in dialogue even before the benefits of the wisdom tree have been produced. This association between the female and the qualities of wisdom may have a mythic background, with the features of a Semitic wisdom goddess underlying the intellectual prominence of the woman of Eden.
[ii] According to Rabbinic tradition, Esther was married to Mordechai: The verse states: “And when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter” (Esther 2:7). A tanna taught a baraita in the name of Rabbi Meir: Do not read the verse literally as for a daughter [bat], but rather read it as for a home [bayit]. This indicates that Mordecai took Esther to be his wife. (Babylonian Talmud Megilla 13a)
ובמות אביה ואמה לקחה מרדכי לו לבת תנא משום ר”מ אל תקרי לבת אלא לבית
[iii] Alternative reading in Babylonian Talmud Tractate Horayot 10b: Who are these “women in the tent”? They are Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, and Yael is more blessed than they are. Apparently, a mitzva performed not for its own sake is a negative phenomenon.
אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק גדולה עבירה לשמה ממצוה שלא לשמה שנאמר (שופטים ה, כד) תבורך מנשים יעל אשת חבר הקיני מנשים באהל תבורך מאן נינהו נשים באהל שרה רבקה רחל ולאה
[iv] Kirsch, Jonathan. The Harlot by the Side of the Road (pp. 58 and 251-252). Random House Publishing Group.
Humor“the Frenchman, the German and the Jew who are walking in the desert. They trudge in the heat for days, gasping for a drink. The Frenchman says: “I am hot, I am tired, and I am thirsty. I must have some French wine.” The German pipes up: “I am hot, I am tired, and I am thirsty. I must have some German beer.” The Jew says: “Oy! Am I tired! Am I thirsty! I must have diabetes.”
Howard Jacobson’s Booker-prize winning novel, The Finkler Question
Josephus[ii]Why the Almighty Caused Jerusalem and His Temple to be Destroyed –
The burning of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 CE/AD created a profound dilemma for faithful Jews of the time. Hadn’t religious observance throughout the land reached new heights in the years preceding the war? Wasn’t the revolt against Rome directly the result of zealous people vowing to have “no master except the Lord?” (Ant. 18.1.6 23). Then why did the Lord allow the Romans to crush the revolt and destroy his Temple?
Josephus offered a variety of solutions to this problem. His overall goal was to defend the Jews against the accusation that their Lord had deserted them. A further goal, which he only hinted at, was to pave the way for approval by the Roman authorities, at some future time, for the rebuilding of the Temple.
“I should not be wrong in saying that the capture of the city began with the assassination of Ananus [the High Priest by the Zealots]”
“I cannot but think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by fire”
“Certain of these robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments; and, by thus mingling themselves among the multitude, they slew Jonathan [the high priest]; and as this murder was never avenged, ….. And this seems to me to have been the reason why God, out of his hatred to these men’s wickedness, rejected our city; and as for the Temple, he no longer esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit therein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery – as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities.
The Slaughter of the Guards – by Zealots
Oh most wretched city, what misery so great as this didst thou suffer from the Romans, when they came to purify thee from thy internal pollutions! For thou couldst be no longer a place fit for God, nor couldst thou longer survive, after thou hadst been a tomb for the bodies of thine own people, and hast made the Holy House itself a burying-place in this civil war of thine. Yet mayst thou again grow better, if perchance thou wilt hereafter appease the anger of that God who is the author of thy destruction.
Jesus in 63CE cursed the Temple and foretold its destruction. (War 6.5.3 288-309)
Ruth Wisse“Is it not curious that the destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth came to be known from the perspective of a Jew determined to vindicate its destroyer? Josephus became an esteemed emissary to the Gentiles, the interpreter of the Jews to others as well as to themselves. Jews not only lost the war against Rome, but they supplied the historian who held them responsible for their downfall. By the middle of the sixteenth century, Josephus had been translated into every major western European language. Gentiles and Christians among whom the Jews resided learned from him that the Jews had deserved their ruin.”
Ruth R. Wisse. Jews and Power Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
Israel Jacob Yuval“Jesus already prophesied the Destruction of Jerusalem: “For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:43-44). The Destruction is described as the vengeance of; God: “For these are days of vengeance, to fulﬁll all that is written” (Luke 21:22). From the fourth century on and throughout the Middle Ages, these verses were included in the pericope (the weekly reading from the Gospel) read at Mass on the eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, that is, during the week, of Tisha b’Av, thereby clearly paralleling the Jewish day of mourning for the Destruction of their Temple.”
Two Nations in Your Womb: Perceptions of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages by Israel Jacob Yuval, p.39
Anti-Zionists – exile as release
“Herman Cohen, the main spokesman for liberal Judaism in Germany in the early years of the twentieth century, held that Jews had been able to develop a universal ideal of messianic redemption because they had been freed of the burdens of a state. In his view, Jewish religion alone was the driving force of modern Jewish life, having become more ethically advanced because it was freed of nationalism and a state apparatus.”[iii]
Similarly, Franz Rosenzweig writes that a return to Israel would embroil the Jews into a worldly history they should eschew. In his pre-Holocaust book ‘The Star of Redemption he expressed his belief that a return to Israel would embroil the Jews into a worldly history they should shun. He viewed Judaism as a “supra-historical entity” whose importance lies in the fact that it is not political but presents a “spiritual ideal” only. He saw the creation of a nation-state as a blow to the Jewish ideal of an apolitical spiritual life…
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither;
let my tongue stick to my palate
if I cease to think of you,
if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory
even at my happiest hour.
“Yet for all its rhetorical severity, Psalm 137 does not exhort Jews to take up arms on their own behalf. Assuming full moral responsibility for the violence that war requires, it calls on the Lord to avenge the Jews’ defeat and on other nations to repay Babylon “in kind.” This reflects the historical record: It was the Persians, not the Jews, who defeated the Babylonians, and King Cyrus who allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild their Temple, thereby inspiring Isaiah’s reference to him as “the Lord’s anointed,” the messenger of God’s will. God’s hand, not the soldiering of Israel, is credited with the Jews’ political recovery, for had the Persians not prevailed and acted magnanimously, who knows how much longer it would have taken the Jews to return to their home?” (Ruth Wisse)
R. Yossi ben R. Chanina: What are these Three Oaths?
One, that Israel should not storm the wall [Rashi interprets: forcefully].
Two, the Holy One adjured Israel not to rebel against the nations of the world.
Three, the Holy One adjured the nations that they would not oppress Israel too much.
Babylonian Talmud, Ketuobot 111a[iv]
Yitz Greenberg – The Third Era of Judaism“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, but absolute powerlessness corrupts the most.”[v]
The destruction of the Second Temple and the extended exile caused an even greater crisis of faith. Some Jews despaired and gave up, some Jews (such as Christian Jews) concluded the covenant was finished, and left. The fundamental answer of the Jewish people was the rabbinic one. God had self-limited in order to call humanity to greater responsibility in the covenant. For the first time, in rabbinic literature, we get the term “partnership” between God and man. ….[vi]
In our lifetime, we are living through another major transformation of the covenant. The crisis of the greatest destruction of all time — the Holocaust– raises the question of the credibility of the covenant altogether, and whether God exists or cares…. In effect, the Jewish people has concluded that God has even further self-limited in order to call the human being – in this case, the Jews – to greater responsibility…
From the beginning~ of Jewish history the conflict of power and its limits, particularly the covenant, was a source of difficulty…. The Rabbis came to leadership in the second era of Jewish history. In that era, exile and dispersion left the Jews relatively powerless in a world which was hostile. The rabbinic tradition proceeded to develop a sort of ‘ethic of powerlessness’. This ranged from the assurance that God is with the people in exile and there is no need to revolt, to the conscious suppression of hostility. In later centuries, the concept of the Jewish people doing its work through a sort of cosmic mysticism developed. Meticulous observance and the expanded list of observances would eventually evoke the messianic redeemer to come and restore life and faith to its wholeness. …
The ethic of powerlessness is relatively pure ethically, because it is unchecked by the needs of power politics or daily political reality. That, too, became part of the Jeish ethic, side by side with a focus on passivity. This period came to its tragic reduction ad absurdum in the catastrophic Jewish powerlessness of the Holocaust. …
The primary challenge of this era is the acquisition and exercise of power. Costs of acquiring that power have been enormous, — thousands of Israeli lives, tens of thousands of wounded, months of reserve duty and personal…. A moral army causes as few innocent casualties as possible, but it is impossible that it never cause innocent suffering….
8. Rav Kook
“All who mourn [the destruction of] Jerusalem will merit to see it in its joy.” (Ta’anit 30b)
“There are some Jews for whom international recognition of the Jewish people’s right to its land fails to inspire joy. This is because the primary focus of their mourning is the spiritual destruction of Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael. The bitter humiliation of the Land of Israel being subjected to foreign rule does not trouble them.
But for those who always felt a deep sorrow, not only for the destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of the Land, but for the absence of Jewish sovereignty in our land… the international declaration that the Land of Israel must return to the people of Israel is a source of joy. These individuals merit ‘to see Jerusalem in its joy.
The nation’s jubilation over sparks of redemption will rebuild that which baseless crying destroyed.”
“Baseless crying” — bechiyah shel chinam — refers to the spies sent by Moses who spoke against the Land of Israel, causing the people to despair and weep in vain. What is the tikun for this sin? How do we correct their cries of despair?
We repair the sin of the spies, Rav Kook explained, with teshuvat ha-mishkal, with a good that counterbalances the evil. We must show excitement and joy as the Land of Israel is rebuilt, stone by stone.[vii]
In messianic time Tisha B’av (and all other fast days related to the loss of Jewish sovereignty will become holidays.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month (Seventeenth of Tammuz), and the fast of the fifth (9th of Av), and the fast of the seventh Fast of Gedaliah), and the fast of the tenth (10th of Tevet), shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful seasons; therefore love ye truth and peace. Zechariah 8:19
We know from Berl Katznelson. Leader of the Social Zionists until his death in 1944 who came in 1909 from Russia, that his party’s youth movement held celebratory campfires on Tisha B’Av. [viii]
May 2018 – Gaza – The parallel Universe of Israeli Liberals and non-Israeli Liberals
Facebook Post – Sarah Silverman May 17, 2018
Is there anyone on the political left who sees — and has the courage to say — that Israel is truly defending ourselves right now? Hating Israel is super cool, I know. Can I have someone, anyone on the left, speak out about Israel not killing for fun on the Gaza border right now? Or are the consequences too great for your lefty credentials? Dear Lord. This is a modern day blood libel. PS Stick to my particular question.
Last reason given by Josephus: It was ordained: “Now, although any one would lament the destruction of such a work as this was, since it was the most admirable of all the works that we have seen or heard of, both for its curious structure and its magnitude, and also for the glorious reputation it had for its holiness; yet might such a one comfort himself with this thought, that it was fate that decreed it so to be, which is inevitable, both as to living creatures and as to works and places also.
However, one cannot but wonder at the accuracy of this period thereto relating; for the same month and day were not observed, as I said before, wherein the Holy House was burnt formerly by the Babylonians.
[vi] Israel Jacob Yuval understands this “partnership” as a nefarious linkage between the suffering and martyrdom of the Jews forcing the hand of God to bring the redemption and associated retribution. Cf. the last stanza of Maoz Tzur: Bare Your holy arm and hasten the final salvation, Avenge the vegenance of Your servants’ blood from the wicked nation… see Two Nations p106-7
ליל שמרים הוא לה’ להוציאם מארץ מצרים הוא־הלילה הזה לה’שמרים לכל־בני ישראל לדרתם
That was for the LORD a night of watchings (Shemarim) to bring them out of the land of Egypt; that same night is the LORD’s, one of watchings for all the children of Israel throughout the ages.
‘R. Joshua says, In Nisan they were delivered, [and] in Nisan they will be delivered in the time to come’. Whence do we know this? — Scripture calls [the Passover] ‘a night of watchings’, [twice – which means], a night which has been continuously watched for from the six days of the creation. (Rosh HaShana 11b) [i]
2. The Four Cups – The Four stages of Redemption
1. I will bring you out from the suffering of Egypt
Pour your wrath upon the nations that did not know You and upon the kingdoms that did not call upon Your Name! Since they have consumed Ya’akov and laid waste his habitation (Psalms 79:6-7). Pour out Your fury upon them and the fierceness of Your anger shall reach them (Psalms 69:25)! You shall pursue them with anger and eradicate them from under the skies of the Lord (Lamentations 3:66).
First found in Mchzor Vitry compiled by a pupil of Rashi in the 11th century.
4. Pour Out Your Love – Alternative reading
Pour out Your love on the nations that know You
And on the kingdoms that call upon Your Name
For the loving-kindness that they perform with Jacob
“Chayyim Bloch (1881-1973) reported that he found an unusual version of this prayer in a manuscript haggadah that had been compiled in 1521. He states that this manuscript, which included other poems that are not found in standard haggadot and differing versions of the text, had disappeared during the Holocaust without a trace. Fortunately, he claims, he retained some notes with this prayer… …. Chayyim Bloch has a reputation for presenting new texts as ancient documents.” The JPS Commentary on the Haggadah, Joseph Tabory, 2008 Jewish Publication Society p55
6. Two views of Redemption – inner/outer – personal/national
“The considerations I would like to set forth in what follows concern the special tensions in the Messianic idea and their understanding in rabbinic Judaism. These tensions manifest themselves within a fixed tradition which we shall try to understand. But even where it is not stated explicitly, we shall often enough find as well a polemical side-glance, or an allusion, albeit concealed, to the claims of Christian Messianism.
Judaism, in all of its forms and manifestations, has always maintained a concept of redemption as an event which takes place publicly, on the stage of history and within the community. It is an occurrence which takes place in the visible world and which cannot be conceived apart from such a visible appearance.
Christianity conceives of redemption as an event in the spiritual and unseen realm, an event which is reflected in the soul, in the private world of each individual, and which effects an inner transformation which need not correspond to anything outside.
But it remains peculiar that this question concerning the inner aspect of the redemption should emerge so late in Judaism—though it finally does emerge with great vehemence.”[iii]
7. The leaven in the bread – The original Passover Purge
Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the very first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day to the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. Exodus 12: 15
“Sovereign of the Universe, it is well known to You that it is our will to do Your will. Who prevents us from doing so? The leavening agent in the dough (the evil inclination within us) and our subservience to the nations. May it be Your will to save us from these so that we can return to fulfilling Your commandments wholeheartedly.” Prayer of Rabbi Alexandrai
May it be Your will, Lord, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that just as I remove the chametz from my house and from my possession, so shall You remove all the extraneous forces. Remove the spirit of impurity from the earth, remove our evil inclination from us, and grant us a heart of flesh to serve You in truth. Make all the sitra achara (evil inclination), all the kelipot (barriers), and all wickedness be consumed in smoke, and remove the dominion of evil from the earth. Remove with a spirit of destruction and a spirit of judgment all that distress the Shechina, just as You destroyed Egypt and its idols in those days, at this time. Amen, Selah. (kabalistic kavanah recited before the bedikat HaChametz (searching for the Leaven).
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth. [Corinthians 5:8]
“the leaven of the Pharisees,” which is “hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1; d. Mark 8:15).
8. You’re both right
Jewish history speaks to our generation in the voice of two biblical commands to remember. The first voice commands us to remember that we were strangers in the land of Egypt, and the message of that command is: “Don’t be brutal.” The second voice commands us to remember how the tribe of Amalek attacked us without provocation while we were wandering in the desert, and the message of that command is: “Don’t be naive.”
The first command is the voice of Passover, of liberation; the second is the voice of Purim, commemorating our victory over the genocidal threat of Haman, a descendant of Amalek.
“Passover Jews” are motivated by empathy with the oppressed; “Purim Jews” are motivated by alertness to threat.
Both are essential; one without the other creates an unbalanced Jewish personality, a distortion of Jewish history and values.
Yossi Klein Halevi, CJN, March 11, 2013
[i] See also Megillah 6b: Where Rabbi Gamaliel argues that in a leap year, Purim is celebrated on the 2nd Adar: “R. Simon b. Gamaliel again reasoned: Just as in most years [we think of] Adar as adjoining Nisan, so here [we keep the precepts] in the Adar which adjoins Nisan. …. The reason of R. Simon b. Gamaliel is that more weight is to be attached to bringing one period of redemption close to another.” Purim and Passover are times of future redemption.
See also: “It is customary not to close the door at all in the house in which we are sitting … and when we go to greet Elijah we do so without any (closed door) obstructing our way.
בספר “מעשה רוקח” מובא: “מצאתי במגילת סתרים, ראיתי מרבנא אלוף אבא – לא היה סוגר דלתי הבית אשר אנו יושבין בו כלל. מעידנא ועד עתה כך מנהגנו, ודלתות הבית פתוחות, וכשיבוא אליהו נצא לקראתו במהרה בלא עיכוב. ואמרינן: בפסח עתידין ליגאל, שנאמר: ליל שימורים הוא לה’ – ליל המשומר ובא מששת ימי בראשית”
Born in Mainz, Germany. An important scholar of his time. As a paytan he composed yozerot, kerovot, selihot, hymns, and rashuyyot le-hatanim. It is probable that he sang his piyutim himself. His piyutim bare traces of the language found in early piyutim, and they are marked by the pain of the persecutions of the Jews in Bar-Isaacs’ lifetime. Birth: after circa 970 Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany Death: 1020
[iii] Scholem not only distinguishes between an inner and outer, personal and nationistic view of messinaism, but also distinguishes between catastrophic and utopian trends in messianism: “I spoke of the catastrophic nature of redemption as a decisive characteristic of every such apocalypticism, which is then complemented by the utopian view of the content of realized redemption. Apocalyptic thinking always contains the elements of dread and consolation intertwined. The dread and peril of the End form an element of shock and of the shocking which induces extravagance. The terrors of the real historical experiences of the Jewish people are joined with images drawn from the heritage of myth or mythical fantasy.
The apocalyptists have always cherished a pessimistic view of the world. Their optimism, their hope, is not directed to what history will bring forth, but to that which will arise in its ruin, free at last and undisguised.
This catastrophic character of the redemption, which is essential to the apocalyptic conception, is pictured in all of these texts and traditions in glaring images. It finds manifold expression: in world wars and revolutions, in epidemics, famine, and economic catastrophe; but to an equal degree in apostasy and the desecration of God’s name, in forgetting of the Torah and the upsetting of all moral order to the point of dissolving the laws of nature.
Little wonder that in one such context the Talmud cites the bald statement of three famous teachers of the third and fourth centuries: “May he come, but I do not want to see him.”
This utopianism seizes upon all the restorative hopes turned toward the past and describes an arc from the re-establishment of Israel and of the Davidic kingdom as a kingdom of God on earth to the re-establishment of the condition of Paradise as it is foreseen by many old Midrashim, but above all by the thought of Jewish mystics, for whom the analogy of First Days and Last Days possess living reality. But it does more than that. For already in the Messianic utopianism of Isaiah we find the Last Days conceived immeasurably more richly than any beginning. The condition of the world, wherein the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9), does not repeat anything that has ever been, but presents something new. The world of tikkun , the re-establishment of the harmonious condition of the world, which in the Lurianic Kabbalah is the Messianic world, still contains a strictly utopian impulse.
But it always retains that fascinating vitality to which no historical reality can do justice and which in times of darkness and persecution counterpoises the fulfilled image of wholeness to the piecemeal, wretched reality which was available to the Jew. Thus the images of the New Jerusalem that float before the eyes of the apocalyptists always contain more than was ever present in the old one, and the renewal of the world is simply more than its restoration.”
And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25, 8)
וְעָשׂוּ לִי, מִקְדָּשׁ; וְשָׁכַנְתִּי, בְּתוֹכָם
As the commentary in Etz Hayim notes: “The text does not tell of God dwelling “in it,” i.e. in the sanctuary, but “among them,” i.e., among the people of Israel.
The word Mishkan comes, afterall, from the same root as Shochen “to rest or dwell” and is the source of the name of God which characterizes his presence Shechina. You’d expect God to dwell in His dwelling place.. the Mishkan, but according to this verse, He dwells amongst the people.
This resonates with us moderns: God does not inhabit an edifice of bricks and mortar; he dwells in the hearts and minds of his faithful. For a humanist this translates into God lives inside of man.
If you’re a nutritionist like my 102 old grandmother was… this translates into:
“Your body is a temple… take care of it.”
But the challenge of God’s abode on earth has plagued theologians throughout the ages. For Jewish thinkers the question has always been. ..is God actually in the house? Is the shekina actually dwelling in our temple?
With regard to the tabernacle (mishkan) and the first temple there seemed to be a consensus that God was in the house… that the Shechina rested there. The same cannot be said of the Second Temple.
According to modern scholars, the sects who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls lived in the desert of Qumran because they rejected the holiness of the Second Temple and they were not alone.. according to the Book of Ezra the old men who had seen the First Temple in its glory cried at the dedication of the second (Ezra 3:12) The priests were corrupt, and even after the Maccabee re-dedication there was no prophet to approve their work and no miracle to assure that the temple was the abode of God. To add insult to injury, the Maccabees installed themselves as high priests even though they were not of the priestly line. 
With regard to the propriety let alone political correctness of a Third Temple…. No need to go there…
But for classical theologians and mystics the question posed by a temple was not related to politics or signs from God… it was more basic… how can it be that God can be confined to one place?
As the Midrash says with regard to the place of Jacob’s dream of the ladder which occurred on the future location of the First and Second Temple: “God is the place (makom) of the world, but the world is not His place” 
שהוא מקומו של עולם ואין עולמו מקומו
The problem is actually larger than justifying a temple or a holy place… for the mystics the problem is how to explain a finite physical world when God is infinite. If God is the Eyn Sof … an existence that suffers no beginning and no end, how is a created world with beginnings, ends and finite dimensions, let alone “evil” permitted to exist.
The standard answer in the kabbalah .. the Jewish mystical tradition, is that of the 10 sefirot. Everything is contained in God, but there are different emanations that shine and are reflected, in various degrees of physicality, which ultimately create a perception of a created world.
The same holds true for the temple. There is an eternal and entirely spiritual temple which God inhabits and which inhabits God… our material tabernacle or temple is simply a reflection of that celestial temple.
When Moses is commanded to build the tabernacle in Exodus 25:9, God instructs Moses:
And see that thou make them after their pattern, which is being shown thee in the mount. (Exodus 25: 40)
As the in Etz Hayim notes: “Exactly as I show you The tabernacle and its furnishings are conceived of as earthly replicas of heavenly archetypes… notions found earlier in the Ancient Near East and elsewhere in the bible.
According to this approach, the earthly temple is a reflection or emanation of a Celestial Temple. 
This concept of our Temple and prayer services mirroring the Celestrial Temple and prayer services of the Angels is institutionalized in our prayers especially the Kedusha where:
“We proclaim Your Holiness on earth as it is proclaimed in heaven above.”
In the Pesikta D’Rav Kehana,  which was probably published first in the 8th century but contains material that dates back to (1) the times of the Midrash we find an interesting rendering of this theology.
The Holy One, blessed by He, said to Moses: If you pattern the tabernacle here below after the one in heaven above, I will leave My heavenly counselors, come down, and so shrink My presence as to fit into your midst below. (Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 1:3 see also note 43 to lecture VII Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism Gershom Scholem )
כך אמר הקב”ה למשה, משה אם אתה עשה מה של מעלה למטה אני מניח סנקליטין שלי של מעלן ויורד ומצמצם שכינתי ביניכם למטן
For anyone who has heard of Lurianic Kabbalah and the system of Tzimzum this is a truly revolutionary midrash which is the only Midrashic/Talmudic reference to Tzimzum in Rabbinic literature.
Let me explain… According to Gershom Scholem, the preeminent authority on the development of the Kabbalah, the de facto solution to the infinite God creating a finite world and dwelling in a worldly temple was the theory of emanation, where God’s totally spiritual and infinite presence is reflected through a series of increasingly physical illuminations and reflections until the physical is possible. This solution is not particularly philosophically satisfying since it literally kicks the can down the road… but it was the best that the mystics could do and it survived from the earliest days of the Kabbalah and Zohar until the expulsion from Spain in 1492.. close to 1,000 years after our Tzimzum midrash was written.
The expulsion from Spain disrupted Jewish thought and sensitized the mystics who went to Safed to the dialectic between Exile and Return and suffering and redemption.
Isaac Luria who lived only to the age of 38 turned the theory of emanation on its head. According to Luria God didn’t so much as create the world and contract Himself into himself in order to permit the existence of a physical world, including matter, evil and a temple, but rather according to Scholem, Tzimtsum (contraction) as redefined by Lurianinc Kabalah “is one of the most amazing and far-reaching conceptions ever put forward in the whole history of Kabbalism. Tsimtsum originally means “concentration” or “contraction” but if used in the Kabbalistic parlance it is best translated by “withdrawal” or “retreat”…
“Instead of emanation we have the opposite, contraction. The God who revealed himself in firm contours was superseded by one who descended deeper into the recesses of his own Being, who concentrated Himself into Himself, and had done so from the very beginning of creation.
צמצם עצמו מעצמו אל עצמו
To be sure, this view was often felt, even by those who gave it a theoretical formulation, to verge on the blasphemous. Yet it cropped up again and again, modified only ostensibly by a feeble ‘as it were’ or ‘so to speak.’ (p 260-261)
Another way of phrasing contraction would be dimunition. In a very real and radical way, tsimsum implies that God commits the ultimate blasphemy.. he diminished Himself.. the Godhead.
Tsimsum is a variation on the old conundrum… If all powerful God can make anything… can he make a weight that is too heavy for Him to lift? In the case of tzimzum the answer is Yes. God can diminish himself to a point that He alone cannot repair the damage…. As it were.
It is clear to me that tsimzum is a dialectical process. Just as in our original midrash, God withdraws from the celestial temple to concentrate into the temporal temple. And when God withdraws he leaves traces of his holiness called Reshimu or residue. Luria provides a metaphor of the residue of oil or wine in a bottle the contents of which have been poured out. And this process is not smooth it is disruptive to the point that Luria coined a term “Breaking of the vessels” Shevirat haKelim.
When God contracts the vessel, so to speak, that holds him is ruptured into pieces. Both the residue (Rashimu) and broken pieces contain remnants of the infinite, but God is removed, exiled and separated from these remnants and only man can unite God with these broken pieces and this…. is Tikun.
This is the mysitical concept of Tikkun Olam, fixing the world. What it has in common with the social action concept of Tikku Olam is that both are dependent on Man.
Getting back to our Temple… we now come full circle and have a radically humanistic conception of God’s presence in our world.
God’s dwelling in the Mishkan is exclusively dependent on man. The Tabernacle and Temple are a poetic dance between God and man, exile and return, suffering and redemption… of both man and God. The vision of Jews praying outside of the temple, willingly withdrawing from the temple looks less absurd.
The Kotzke Rebbe’s answer to the question of “Where is God?” makes more sense and is empowering at the same time.
“Where is God? Wherever we let Him in.”
 See Cohen, Cohen, Shaye J. D., From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, Westminster John Knox Press, 1988. pp 98 and 131
“The second temple… although authorized by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, was built by a gentile king and was never authenticated by an overt sign of divine favor. ….
But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, the old men that had seen the first house standing on its foundation, wept with a loud voice, when this house was before their eyes; and many shouted aloud for joy.
“ר’ הונא בשם ר’ אמי אמר: מפני מה מכנין שמו של הקב”ה וקורין אותו “מקום”? שהוא מקומו של עולם ואין עולמו מקומו” – בראשית רבה, ס”ח, י’
 See Chronicles 28:11 and for a comprehensive review of this literature see:
The Celestial Temple as viewed in the Aggadah by Victor Aptowitzer found in Studies in Jewish Thought ed Joseph Dan – January 1, 1989 Greenwood Publishing Group – Publisher
 Undoubtedly the core content of the Pesikta is very old, and must be classed together with Genesis Rabbah and Lamentations Rabbah. But the proems in the Pesikta, developed from short introductions to the exposition of the Scripture text into more independent homiletic structures, as well as the mastery of form apparent in the final formulas of the proems, indicate that the Pesikta belongs to a higher stage of midrashic development. According to Strack & Stemberger (1991), the text of the current Pesikta was probably not finally fixed until its first printing, presumably in S. Buber’s edition. Zunz gives a date of composition of 700 CE, but other factors argue for a date of composition in 5th or early 6th century (Strack & Stemberger 1991).
Every week I am reading Shai Held’s The Heart of Torah and in his second essay on parshat Va-’era’ Held once again demonstrates the depth of his scholarship and the breadth of his reading. In discussing the age-old question of how the biblical God could harden Pharaoh’s heart yet maintain Judaism’s belief in our God-given right to freedom Held makes a suggestion.
Held suggests that freedom is not so much:
… a fact, but it is also—and perhaps primarily—an aspiration. Real freedom requires, R. Joseph Soloveitchik (1903–93) writes, “a continuous awareness of maximal responsibility by man without even a moment’s inattentiveness.” [Soleveitchik, On Repentance p. 143] Mindfulness and constant, exquisite attention are necessary for freedom to flourish. Freedom needs to be nurtured and attended to, not taken for granted.
R. Shlomo Wolbe (1914–2005) adds that “freedom is not at all part of humanity’s daily spiritual bread. It is, rather, one of the noble virtues which one must labor to attain. It is not lesser than love, and fear, and cleaving to God, acquiring which clearly demands great effort. We can acquire freedom, and therefore we must acquire it.” [Wolbe, Alei Shur p 155]
Joseph Soloveitchik is widely known, especially within the modern-orthodox world as the head of Yeshiva University and scion of a famous Lithuanian Rabbinic Dynasty, but R. Shlomo Wolbe is hardly known outside of the haredi (ultra-orthodox) world which he joined at the tender age of 19. Wolbe transferred from the University of Berlin and ended up at the Meir Yeshiva in Poland. Wolbe, who passed away in 2005 was considered the last of the great mussarniks, he was also my rebbe during the two years I studied at Yeshivat Beer Yaakov where he was the mashgiach ruchni (spiritual guide).
Rabbi Wolbe lectured and wrote extensively primarily for the “yeshiva world” on subjects such as a progressive approach to education for children and adolescents and intense introspection for adults. But there was one singular point of departure that ran through all of Wolbe’s teachings. Never take the easy road.
If he saw a yeshiva bachur (student) who had previously concealed his tzitzit, wearing them exposed, or a previously clean-shaven student, sporting a pious beard, he would call the student over and ask: “What happened to you… did you become a tzadik (saint)?” For Wolbe there were no shortcuts to piety, certainly not by a superficial change in outward appearance. The higher level of spiritual consciousness of the mussarnik could only be reached by the hard work of the heart (hovot halevavot) and the sweat of the soul.
Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe once asked a pupil: “Did you ever say the Shema Yisrael?” “Of course!”, said the student. “Did you say it with kavana (intention and attention)?” The pupil replied, “Yes, of course, Rabbi.” Said Rabbi Wolbe, “Tell me, while you were saying the Shema did you follow the teaching of the sages and accept the “yoke of the kingdom of heaven?” “Of course” answered the exasperated student. “And did you feel a hint of rebellion against God?” “Chas v’shalom,” replied the pupil, “God forbid, of course not… never.” “Then you have never said the Shema” replied the Rabbi. [This is how I remember the story… for a more toned-down version see a Nice Patch of Grass by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair]
Such an unvarnished challenge to religious caution and timidity lies at the heart of Rabbi Wolbe’s concept of choice insightfully cited by Rabbi Held.
But the few pages allocated to his weekly essay does not permit Held to expand on the depth of Wolbe’s challenge and his explicit critique of his coreligionists.
I have posted the complete text below from Wolbe’s book Alei Shur, and you can follow the Hebrew text and listen to Rabbi Yoram Bogacz read and translate here (start at minute 10:38) with a great South African accent!
Permit me to provide a further excerpt.
“It is possible that an individual can live out his days and never make a choice! Imagine a person with a pleasant disposition, who has not moved from the upbringing that he received at his parents home, he fulfills the commandments … as he was taught, his predispositions strengthen him in his [rote] behavior (he is considered a tzadik – righteous person) and no trials occur [to shake him up]. Amazingly, he could live out his days, with good name and without him having actually chosen a path through independent intellectual review!”
“Its an extreme example, but if we are honest with ourselves, it is on rare occasion that we make choices in our lives. “Everything is foreseen, and freewill is given” [Ethics of the Fathers 3:15] but in truth we are governed by our natural disposition, our education, habits and biases both in terms of the fateful decisions in life and also the small day-to-day decisions… and where is the choice?” ואיה הבחירה
Between Rav Wolbe and Rav Held, we are fortunate to have teachers who challenge us to choose… and now the choice to choose is all ours!