Monday, April 18, 2011

The Light of the 14th

The Talmudic discussion on Passover opens with the words, "On the night of the 14th [of Nisan, i.e. Passover Eve,] you shall search for the leaven ...". Strangely, the Talmud does not use the usual Hebrew word for "night", lai-lah. Instead, the Talmud uses the Hebrew word ohr - which really means "light".

So the opening words of the Talmud can be read as, "By the light of the 14th [of Nisan] you shall search for the leaven ...".

Inspired by this unusual reading, the Chassidic mystics teach that the Creator sends down a special spiritual light on that night to aid in the search for leaven. At times, I've found leaven very unexpectedly on this night - in areas I've supposedly cleaned well beforehand.

In one instance some years ago, I was searching for leaven in an office basement when my flashlight strangely fumbled out of my hands. Then it tumbled away and rolled along the carpeted floor. Upon settling, it beamed directly on a chunk of bread chunk, just inches away. For me this was definitely a "wow moment".

A similar instance happened just this past Passover Eve, while searching for leaven in my carefully cleaned car. I was surprised to encounter an army of crumbs residing all along the lower crevice of a gasket. Shocking !

There's a lesson here for everyone: We need the Creator's help to notice even what's right in front of us - in plain view.


1 comment:

  1. Facebook Comments:

    EF: Maybe because light is needed to successfully conduct the search. Also casting light may be a metaphor for intellectual illumination. Perhaps...

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: Thank you EF for commenting. In both instances the areas were already cleaned beforehand in good physical light. However, what the Chassidic mystics are saying matches very well with your second sentence that the "light" is a metaphor for a non-physical light.

    AFL: EF Thank you as well Choni. I wanted also to comment on your "fruits of the soul photos" and discussion. In particular, I definitely agree that the Torah is a code, in the sense that it has multiple layers of meaning... literal, symbolic, met...aphorical, parables for teaching, mystical, historical, deeply religious, legal, and so on. Part of the reward of Judaism is that we get to explore and interpret all these layers on meaning. This is a part of Judaism that I have found difficult to explain to some of my christian friends, many who view religion in such dogmatic rigid ways and were taught NOT to explore but simply to believe and accept without questioning. I am so thankful to be Jewish. See More

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: I agree with what you're saying. The Oral Torah is an ongoing lively discussion and exploration which encompasses the entire span of Jewish History. Only, I did not put up the "fruits of the soul photos". I think there's a way of tagging people with photos that looks like they themselves posted the photos. I don't understand how it works or even how it looks to my FB friends.

    EF: ok, I thought you put that "fruits" post up there... sorry. But at any rate, it triggered a good discussion, so it worked out.

    EF: I'm sure we'll continue to have illuminating discussions.

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: With G-d's help, I'll looking forward. :)

    EF: Me too!
    11 hours ago · LikeUnlike.