Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pesach Thoughts

Call it Child-Induced ADD:  I rarely listen to an online shiur or Torah audio clip longer than about 15 minutes these days. 

(The exception being Rabbi Phil Chernofsky of OU Israel Centre.  I try to listen to his half-hour-long Torah Tidbits Audio every single week on IsraelNationalRadio.  He tends to wax somewhat rhapsodic about the Jewish calendar, but then, so do I; maybe that’s one reason I like it so much.)

With Pesach coming and everything, of course I am cleaning (ha ha ha; actually, Ted does all the Pesach work around here; I just keep us afloat in terms of dishes and laundry).  But it’s not enough to just scrub your house.  That’s just Spring Cleaning; everybody does that.  What Jews do at this time of year must be cleaning for a REASON or else it’s just oppression.

I’ve seen two terms for the types of oppressive work the Jews performed:  עבודה קשה (“avodah kashah”, literally hard work) – and עבודה בפרך (“avodah b’farech”), which is variously translated as backbreaking work, cruel work or… my favourite, pointless work.

A midrash says that b’nei Yisrael were actually set to build buildings and storehouses on top of quicksand, so that as fast as they could build, their work would literally sink, disappear out of sight.

SO.

When we’re cleaning for Pesach, it’s easy to SINK.  To lose sight of what we’re working towards.  For me, that’s where online shiurim come in.  (Who has time to get out to a shiur?)

There’s one shiur in particular, by Rabbi Manis Friedman, that I come back to year after year.  It is long, but well worth listening to, through and through.  And luckily, my memory is so bad that each year, it’s kind of fresh and new.

Here are two links:

  1. All in one streaming audio track
  2. Two double “sided” RealAudio tracks

Last year, I was so moved by three sections that I set about transcribing them.  Typical:  I only managed to transcribe two, but in case you’re interested in reading – I really recommend listening to it in his own voice, but the recording is old and not of a wonderful quality, here are links to the two sections I typed up myself:

  1. Part 1:  Faith in God or Faith in Nature? (I think I like this because it’s about planting and growing!)
  2. Part 3:  Divine Providence

So I thought I would post all of this here in the hopes that our efforts this week and into next not be b’farech; that we see meaning in all of it, the proverbial elephant in the heart of the (l’havdil) dungheap, the wonderful feast of redemption that really is the light in our collective tunnel.

There will be a few posts between now and then, I’m sure (when do I ever shut up completely??), but I do want to wish a kosher freilichn Pesach to anyone who’s made it this far, both in this particular post, and along this strange and wonderful blogging journey with me and my family.

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