Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Shabbos Chol Hamoed Pesach

A gitten moed and a gitten Erev Shabbos,

I would like to bring your attention to two pieces that appeared earlier this year for Shabbos Ki Sisa: When To Use Holy Pride and Trust In Hashem's Cheshbon. The pesukim that these two pieces are based on appear in the laining from Shabbos Chol Hamoed as well.

The following was heard from the Rebbe at Shalosh Seudos on Shabbos Chol Hamoed Pesach 5767 (2007) in Lakewood:

In the laining for Shabbos Chol Hamoed, the pesukim are in an interesting sequence. "Elohei maseicha lo saaseh lach, es chag hamatzos tishmor...kol peter rechem li" (Shemos 34:17-19). First comes, "Molten gods do not make for yourself". Immediately following is, "You shall keep the festival of Matzos (Pesach)" and then we have, "Every first of the womb is Mine". The peculiar juxtaposition of these three mitzvos begs interpretation.

Rashi (Shemos 12:17) quotes Chazal that like matza needs careful guarding lest it become leavened, so should you not allow a mitzvah that comes to your hand to be left unfulfilled and hence leavened. Rather, once the opportunity presents itself you should immediately fulfill the mitzvah.

If you ask a Jew what the absolute most important thing is, he will tell you the Creator of the World. However, if you put off a mitzvah, although you are not saying outright that you don't care about Hashem, you are nonetheless subtly giving yourself precedence over Him. If you put off a mitzvah, when you do finally get around to doing it, in some sense it is too late for you were machmitz (meaning leavened and spoiled) the mitzvah. It is tantamount to eating chometz on Pesach because you showed that you come first (as we know that chometz represents haughtiness and self-interest, see here), that what you are doing now is more important, and you corrupted your performance of the mitzvah and your intention later.

The Rebbe said, "I don't think I feel qualified to cast such a harsh judgment as that, but it is a small form of avodah zara. At that moment you are saying that you are more important than Hashem. You have made yourself into an avodah zara."

The yetzer hara usually operates by telling us that a particular sin is a "davar kal", a light, insignificant matter, (see Maor Einayim, Parshas Tzav, third shtickel) and then eventually grabbing us by "avosos ha'agala" (thick ropes used to pull a wagon). The yetzer hara ultimately leads a person to worse and worse transgressions and potentially to throwing Hashem out completely, chas v'shalom.

The word "masecha" means molten metal, something that is at first soft and later becomes hard. You think Hashem is still the most important thing in your life and that it is an insignificant, soft matter when you put yourself first in any particular instance. But this attitude eventually "hardens" the mitzvah whenever you do actually get to it and this "soft" form of avoda zara leads to "harder", more offensive and concrete forms of avoda zara.

Don't make yourself into molten gods. How? By keeping the mitzvos as matzos and not letting them become chometz. And that is the same message as redeeming the firstborn. At the very beginning, from the outset, make sure it is "li", "to Me". The Rebbe concluded, "When you do a mitzvah make sure you don't put yourself first."

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