Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tremendous Shtuff

I just heard a great story, and though it's well known it's well worth repeating. A Chassid once had occasion to visit a Misnagdic stronghold, and he received a warm welcome. What I meant to write was that he got a lot of heat from his fellow Jews for his personal views. Anyway, once it got time for him to leave his ever-solicitous hosts wanted to know what he thought of their city. How did they compare to the Chassidim he usually associated with? The Chassid answered, "The difference between a Misnaged and a Chassid? Simple! A Misnaged goes around thinking about Hashem all day, while a Chassid thinks about himself." The villagers were delighted, and they gave the Chassid extra Challah and Chrein to take on his long journey. As the Chassid was getting out of dodge, accompanied by the elders of the city, he said, "Oh, and to explain myself a little: A Chassid knows that Hashem exists, but he has his doubts about his own existence, so he goes around all day troubled by the matter. A Misnaged, on the other hand, knows that he exists, but as for Hashem? He wonders about Him all day, trying to figure out if He truly is there." It was lucky that the only people there were old, and the tomatoes they lobbed at him were fairly easy to avoid.
What does this story have to do with Pesach? Lots. No, really. Pesach is all about cleaning out the Chametz within you, escaping your own personal (as opposed to someone else's personal?) Egypt, walking three hours to eat Matza and drink wine with a bunch of people from S. Louis Park. What? You don't do that? Do you even have a Seder? Is there Judaism in your life?
Seriously folks, Pesach is serious business. Once upon a time, back in the day, in the land before time, many years ago, when they weren't so enamored of repeating themselves in order to artificially lengthen their blog posts (not that they had blog posts or anything), Pesach was very different. Cleaning? It's not like anyone had too much Chametz in the first place, so all they had to do was a little of this and a little of that, and presto! Life was good. They did have to Kasher their dishes, but they had a Rav to take care of that. Pesach was mostly about making sure the Matza remained dry and the wine remained wet. Interestingly enough, it was much easier to ensure the latter than the former. Who would've thought?
Nowadays, we've got problems. There's Chametz all over, our cars are filthy, and we can't even afford to go to Florida for the holidays, because the economy is in the trash. Oh right, six of you can afford to go to Florida. Sick. Anyway, as I was saying, cleaning is the biggest thing we do to prepare for Pesach. Our Matza? Most of us just buy it, along with wine, and anything else one might need to celebrate the holiday in style.
Is there a lesson in all of this? Way back when the main thing was keeping away from things: keeping the flour dry, the wine free of alien influence, the Goyim out of their cemeteries and our houses. Today things are different. We're cleaning, shopping, cleaning some more, shopping some more (the President is so proud). Maybe we're just not good enough to stay away from sin and temptation, after all, we're the lowest generation of all time. At the same time though, we can do, accomplish, make things happen. Sure, we're pathetic losers for being alive now, but we also have the unique capability to bring Moshiach. No other generation was given the same tools we were. Is it difficult? Of course. Can we do it? Do we have a choice?

Fine, so I didn't really connect the story and its moral. What you're gonna do, shoot me?


e said...

Chicago matzah is actually baked in Skokie.

Just like a guy said...

The box says Chicago, and I don't argue with boxes. Well, at least not on Thursdays.