from the heart of jerusalem: rabbi binny freedman

A Pesach lesson: Begin life now, and do it right

In this moment, you are beginning the rest of your life. Every mistake you ever made can be overcome.


If you can keep your head when all about you 

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;

If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: 

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

‘Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,

if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

From If, by Rudyard Kipling 

This Shabbat, as we read the weekly portion of Tzav, we are also in final preparations for the festival of Pesach. Is there a connection between these two themes?

One of the central mitzvoth of Pesach is the injunction not to eat any chametz, or unleavened bread. Instead, we are commanded to eat matzah, the unleavened bread, for the entire week. And whenever we think of matzah we think of Pesach. Less known, however, is the special mitzvah of matzah, which we read of in this week’s portion, which seems to be completely unrelated to the festival of Pesach.

Regarding the minchah (meal) offering in the temple, the Torah tells us (Leviticus 6:9): “It (the meal offering’s) remainder shall be eaten … as matzot, in the holy area. It shall not be baked with leaven (chametz)…”

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