Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Today I think I'll translate a bit of a Sicha from 1952 that you might find interesting. It's based on the Ma Nishtana that we all say on the night of Pesach by the Seder. One of the questions asked is, "Why on all other nights do we sit and lean, but tonight we only lean?" For the answer...

A person has three main body areas; the head, torso, and legs. There are also three (general) types of stances; standing, sitting, and leaning. What does this mean in spiritual terms? Standing represents haughtiness, with the head, the intellect, standing tall. Sitting is humility, with the head lower down, closer to the rest of the body. Nevertheless, the head is still cognizant of its natural superiority, and it is only with leaning that true humility is reached.
The difference between all other nights and the night of Pesach is the spiritual standing of a person in that time. During the year, a person can be full of themselves, but on Pesach, everyone realizes that they are truly nothing before G-d. Only with this attitude can the intent of the world be fulfilled, to make a dwelling place for Hashem down here. On this night all Jews are raised to the highest of spiritual levels, and every single one can accomplish their mission.
The question still remains, however, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" Every person knows himself; not only is he not nullified before G-d, a state of leaning, but he is not even sitting, without even the slightest humility. He knows that he can go against Hashem's will, whether in thought, speech, or action. Not only is this with regards to permitted things, but even with forbidden things; and not only does he do these things by mistake, but even on purpose. In fact, he takes the Torah, the crown of Hashem, and because of his self-pride he uses it for his own ends!
Knowing all this, a person can ask, "How am I in a state of, 'Tonight we all lean?' I know my own deficiencies better than anyone else, how can I claim to be at this great level?"
The answer is the one given to the four questions, "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and Hashem took us out". In Egypt the Jews were on the 49th rung of impurity, as it says, "They served idols there." The Jews were is such a bad position that an angel could not rescue them. The only way for them to leave was to be redeemed by Hashem himself. This revelation of Hashem happens again every year, that no matter how low any Jew may be, how far from Hashem, he can be saved. The day of Pesach is so great that every Jew is at the level of "leaning."
One question remains. I can understand how great Pesach is, but what about all the rest of the year? Does this incredible divine revelation just pick up and leave, without affecting anything? What about the normal efforts people make the rest of the time?
The answer is that normally it really is a good thing to work from the bottom up, to struggle with this world, to first build a foundation before attempting a skyline penthouse. Nevertheless, sometimes the physicality is too strong, the passions too tempting, the fire too bright. At these times it's necessary to have a divine revelation, to break all boundaries, and this is the accomplishment of Pesach. Pesach gives us the strength to tackle the problems of our everyday lives with the knowledge that we are not alone, that Hashem is on our side, helping us to overcome our challenges and succeed in whatever it is we try.

So that's the end. Is it as good as the original? Of course not. My stilted translations are never the hottest things in town, especially when it's nearly two in the morning and I was working hard preparing for Pesach all day. But don't worry, you'll get over it.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Real Shaliach: what a fantastic post - I had not heard this sicha before and it really struck a cord. By the way, your translation is excellent and really seems to capture the meaning and make it understood by those of us not able to interpret the original text. Find effort, please keep it up. L de T.

RE: Anonymous 6:38 said...

Are you for real?

The Real Shliach said...

Anon 8:48-what's the problem exactly?