Tag Archive: passover

Pesach and Music

While we have been cleaning for Pesach for about several weeks now, these past couple of days, there’s been one artist that has arguably gotten a lot of “air time” in our house as of late: Eitan Katz. Not only am I priviliged to call him both a friend and former classmate, but his niggunim reflect a certain tone of kedusha that permeats from the simplicity of the music. As such, I wanted to share with you his Dvar Torah Email that he sent out. If you are in the mood for some great Jewish music to listen to while cleaning for Passover, I’d recommend that you download any of his albums. You will feel relaxed and spiritually uplifted as you scrub, clean, and prepare for Pesach!

Dear Friends,

As Pesach is approaching, I wanted to share with you a beautiful idea which connects Yetzias Mitzrayim to the power of music.  In Likutey Torah on Pesach, the Ba’al Hatanya writes that the Yetzias Mitzrayim which took place thousands of years ago still takes place every day within the heart of every Jew.  Mitzrayim comes from the word Meitzar, narrow, rigid, boundaries.  When Klal Yisroel left Mitzrayim they did not only leave the physical boundaries of the land of Egypt but also broke through the mental and spiritual boundaries which Mitzrayim so tightly kept around them.

Every day, The Ba’al Hatanya writes, a Jew has the power to leave his own boundaries.  I know for myself, and for sure many people can relate to this, that in this crazy world, we feel like we are in our own spiritual jail, not being able to serve Hashem the way we want to.  Pesach is a reminder for us that just like there was a Yetzias Mitzrayim a long time ago, the same Yetzias Mitzrayim- the leap out of one’s boundaries, can be done today.  And here is where the connection to music comes.  The Ba’al Hatanya writes that because the first Yetzias Mitzrayim was eternal, we can look at the way they had acted then during the process of leaving, and apply it to our life right now.

The first act which Klal Yisroel did as a “free” nation was……SING!!!  After they crossed the sea, looked back and saw that the nightmare was over and that Hashem had taken them out completely form mitzrayim, they sang Shiras Hayam.  This wasn’t a coincidence, the Ba’al Hatanya writes.  The natural expression of someone that has just reached beyond their natural boundaries is singing.


Because when one sings, that is also an expression of leaving one’s boundaries.  How many times have we sat around the shabbos table, or at an uplifting concert or kumzitz, where we felt that singing just takes us to places where we never have been before.  When we sing emmesdik nigunim, the feeling should be that we are reaching beyond the places where we thought we couldn’t reach.  This, my friends, is the way how to tell if a nigun is “kosher” or not.  Not by how many instruments is being played, not by the arrangements, not by any of the superficial garbage we have come in contact with.  The only way to identify a kosher nigun is if it makes you feel bigger and greater  than what you felt before.

With this Torah, I released my latest album last month.  I felt that each of the nigunim (whether mine or not) had the ability in them to bring the listener to a deeper and more meaningful connection to Hashem.  I felt that the nigunim would allow a person to see how deep their neshama really is.   And I tell everyone who buys the CD that this is what I felt, but if you don’t feel that way about the nigunim, if you feel they are just commercial and not uplifting, please do me favor- don’t listen to them!

If you haven’t purchased the CD yet, you can listen to clips and purchase it here.

I wish everyone a Chag Kasher V’sameach!


The Top 3 Passover Videos of 2009!

Here in Jerusalem, Pesach is tangible. You can feel the excitement as we edge closer and closer to retelling the miraculous events at our Pesach Seder.

Others however, seem to express their excitement towards the upcoming holiday by emailing me and I’m certain many other friends and family as well, the latest links to inspirational videos that relate to Pesach.

Accordingly, I wanted to share with you what I believe to be The Top 3 Passover Videos of 2009!

Please note: When I was selected the three videos to feature in this post, I did so by only choosing clips that have been produced THIS YEAR.

It is my hope that you find them meaningful, and by extension help you  increase you feel the freedom of Passover.

The Holiness of The Wicked Son!

Passover and the Economy: A MUST WATCH

Egypt: Exile to Redemption by Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff

(Thanks to DixieYid for pointing this class out!)

Timely Pesach Related Links of Interest!

With Pesach soon approaching, I’m assuming that I won’t have time to write my thoughts on individual topics. As such, I’ve compiled a short list of Timely Pesach Related Links of Interest. I’m certain you will enjoy!

  • For all those who are also cleaning for Pesach, whether you are male or female, I urge you to check out this video and this article written by Jewish women that reveals a practical and spiritual side to Passover cleaning.
  • We live in an era in which people will use the following expression, “just Google it!” In fact, nowadays you’d be looked at as the funny one if you didn’t know what that weird sounding word that starts with a ‘g’ means. Accordingly, being that we live in the “Google Era” this video insight is a quick but relevant thought in terms of the eternal relevancy of Torah, which we ultimately merited to receive only after crossing the Red Sea.
  • Speaking of Google, this image of the Jewish people crossing the sea is inspired by Google Earth and is well worth viewing (see here for a couple more fascinating images using Google Earth. For another contemporary image of the Exodus see here) in that it will help you fulfill the obligation of visualizing that you too are crossing the Red Sea.
  • Various studies all come to one conclusion: Across the various denominations of Jewry, Passover is the most celebrated Jewish event. To that end, this recent study is worth paying attention to in that it sheds light on the future of the Jewish people. Remember it is on Passover that we officially became a Nation.
  • Finally, check out this relevant article that discusses Passover & four questions for a financial crisis.

Saying Thank You for our Personal Pesach Miracles

In my preparation for the Pesach Seder (remember we who live in Israel only celebrate 1, that’s right 1 Passover Seder!) I have been researching the words of the great mystic, Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin. He reveals that on Chanukah for instance, we recite  a blessing on the amazing miracle that occurred. However, on Pesach we omit this blessing. At the surface this appears rather perplexing given that the Exodus was a miracle “heard around the world!”

Accordingly, he analyzes the differences of the miracles that took place on these two distinct holidays and by extension, explains why if one would recite this blessing on Passover, Hashem would view it as  being verbally brazen. As such, the custom is to not recognize the miracle of  Pesach with a blessing but rather through the Pesach Seder. All in all, whether we make a blessing or not, we all know that the Almighty has certainly performed many a miracle for us on the national level as well as on the individual level.

Sometimes a miracle is obvious.

Sometimes we just need to open our eyes and see the kindness of God. But it’s the searching for the kindness that can be difficult.

Truth be told, there’s soo many more layers to this world, that even our generation that is higly advanced in the fields of science and medicine, has yet to discover. Case in point, if I were to tell you the facts in the following article just several years ago, you would have thought I was joking. And yet, Hashem has decided that now is the time that scientist will begin to regrow limbs and help reclaim what some people may have thought they eternally lost! Read here for all the details. If you need additional inspiration see here.

In general, I’ve heard on several occasions that the Pesach Seder is referred to as the Jewish version of a Thanksgiving meal, in that for many families it may be the only time that everyone comes home and sits at the table together. And so, I call upon every Jewish person to utilize the Pesach Seder (be it if you are making 1 or 2 Passover Seder’s) to say “thank you” to the Almighty not just for the miracles that took place thousands of years ago and that may be hard for us to relate to, but also to the miracles that Hashem gives us on a daily basis. In fact, you may find that when you express your appreciation for the small little things that God provides us with, it will only amplify the great miracle of our Exodus from Egypt and put it in a proper perspective.

Indeed, this year, among many other things, I know that my wife and I will be thanking Hashem for the miracle that is our daughter Ora!

I’m certain that it’s without coincidence that merely two days after Ora Rachel was born, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin wrote in his Daily Life Email:
Even if a doctor says there is no chance of recovery, one should not despair. There are an extremely large amount of cases when doctors have given up hope and nevertheless the patient recovered. While it is irresponsible to disregard reliable medical advice when something practical can be done, doctors are only human and are fallible. It is important for doctors themselves to realize this and even when the situation appears bleak, they should realize that while we cannot rely on miracles, medical miracles do occur. Whenever Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin was told that a doctor had given up hope on a patient, Rabbi Diskin would comment, “A doctor has a right to heal, but who gave him the authority to despair?” (Amud Aish, p.158; Gateway to Happiness, p.377)

All in all, this Pesach we must remember that the ‘P’ in the word Pesach stands for Perspective. With a little bit of perspective we could experience a Passover like never before!

Chag Sameach

How to Still Have a Fun Passover Vacation on a Budget!

With the economy in the doldrums, many families won’t be able to afford amusement parks or attend a big concert over Chol HaMoed. To that end, without some suggestions of how to still have fun this Pesach, I’m near certain that there will be a good amount of Jewish kids spending their time in front of a computer screen, playing PlayStation, or hanging out on social networking sites. Frankly, as this and this article indicates, that’s not something that I, as a Rabbi, would encourage spending hours and hours of time on!

As such, I’ve compiled a list of  5 economically friendly but fun activities that will allow you to have a great time over Pesach vacation.

  • If you’ve got little kids, they will most probably love this economically friendly but creative Portable Art Studio. It will certainly keep the kids occupied while cleaning for Pesach!
  • As a kid, I enjoyed watching private planes or small commercial airliners land and arrive at Santa Monica Airport. In fact, because there’s less of a crowd, President Clinton used to land there when coming into the LA area. Indeed, I even got to meet the President, shake his hand and see what a real Presidential entourage looks like up close and person. Even today in a post 9/11 world, you and your children can go to one of the local but smaller airports around your area and watch for the flying planes in the sky!
  • As far as snack food, purchasing Kosher for Passover products can add up to one pricey bill! Indeed, growing up as a kid, something that we always looked forward to on Pesach was my Mom’s homemade potato chips or homemade ice cream.  As Passover became more of a commercialized event, and as the Jewish community rapidly grew in Los Angeles, one could easily purchase Kosher for Passover Potato Chips, ice cream and so on and so forth. Nowadays however, people may not want/be in the position to shell out hundreds of dollars on just eight days of Passover. To that end, if you are looking to have a great snack, such as potato chips, check out this recipe.
  • During Pesach vacation, instead of going to commercial venues, Why not try the outdoors? Consider a family hike. Go fishing, cherry picking, pick-nicking on a beach, or bike riding together as a family. You may walk away from this even surprised to find that you had more fun doing an activity such as this, as opposed to going to Six Flags!
  • If your family is like most, you may have just a couple people who may enjoy a great sporting event and cheering on the local team. That said, with the ever-growing price of tickets, taking your family to a MLB, NBA, or the like event can make a major dent in your wallet. As such, in addition to checking for promotional days or nights to lower the cost somewhat, why not try the minor leagues or become a fan of your local college teams. In general, tickets are usually less expensive, the games are more festive and you can sit closer to the action for a lot cheaper!

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