Passover has many commandments. We are forbidden to eat anything leavened or even a mixture of anything leavened starting from the preceding morning (approximately 10:30 am – check locally) and for seven more full days. We must eradicate leavening from the world, and have completed the selling of our chametz, no later than an hour after the eating deadline (because there is no buying and selling on Shabbat). We are forbidden to possess or have any benefit whatsoever from any leavened products all 7 days of the holiday. We must eat matza on the night of the 15th. And of course, we must tell the story of the exodus from Egypt during the seder of Passover, also on that night.

...the pinnacle of Passover was the eating of the Passover offering...

During the actual exodus, and afterwards when the Temple stood, the pinnacle of Passover was the eating of the Passover offering, a piece of roasted lamb together with matza and a bitter vegetable, on the first night of Pesach. This offering, i.e., the ritual slaughtering of the paschal lamb, actually took place in the Temple on that preceding afternoon. For technical reasons having to do with our current exile, until Mashiach comes and the Holy Temple is rebuilt, we do not perform the Pesach offering. Nevertheless, the matza of the afikoman, the last matza eaten just before the conclusion of the Passover seder meal, is eaten in its place. Even though we do not practice the actual offering today, by reading about the Pesach offering at its time in the afternoon, and eating the matza at the end of the meal at night, we fulfill this commandment in the maximum way possible to us.

What are the spiritual lessons of the Pesach offering for us today and how do they enable us to understand the Pesach process that follows only after the cleaning and removal of chametz, leavening and leavened products, symbolizing the ego in our lives?

Moses is instructed by G‑d: "And you will slaughter it…and take from the blood…and on this night eat meat roasted [on the spit] over the fire with [the lamb's] head on its haunches and on it entrails". (Ex. 12:6,8) Afterwards, when Moses instructs the people, Moses begins by saying, "[the Paschal lamb must be] mashchu v’kichu lachem/pulled and taken for yourselves." (Ibid. 12:21) Once we have removed the ego of chametz, the beginning of the spiritual transformation is with ‘pull away and take for yourselves’. ‘Remove your hands’ away from any efforts that are not for G‑d and ‘take for yourselves’ a true Jewish life, the study of Torah and fulfillment of the commandments. (Mechilta, Bo)

...we must develop this consciousness in ourselves until ...our essence is totally connected to G‑d.

In a way of ‘for yourselves’, means that the entire person, from head to toe, must be involved, as the verse describes, ‘its head on its haunches [legs] on its entrails’. Even more, the verse requires, "roasted over fire"--holy fire, the fire of the altar — to the point that the verse even demands, "do not eat from it …", (Ibid. 12:9) that it has to be completely affected with Holy fire before we may partake of it. And we must develop this consciousness in ourselves until it is 'On the doorway', apparent to the outside, to all around us that our ‘blood’, our essence, is totally connected to G‑d.

On an even deeper level, the three things mentioned in the verse, head, entrails and legs, are a hint to the three pillars with which a person connects to Jewish spiritual life: Torah, prayer and acts of kindness. The head refers to Torah study, where we invest our intellect, and is called G‑d’s wisdom. The entrails refers to the innermost part of the person, their heart, that this is prayer whose power comes from the heart. There is no prayer like the prayer of the heart. Finally the legs refer to acts of goodness and kindness, our actions, meaning all the commandments, but charity in particular. (Chassidim Ayn Mishpacha)

The Rebbe of Karlin said about the verse, "You said the offering ('zevach') of the Pesach is for G‑d". (Ibid. 12:27) You, the Jewish people say, when we, the Jewish people give ourselves to G‑d as an offering (zevach), then we will be able to leap (in Hebrew, 'pesach') — not just climb — closer to G‑d. The biggest leap should be the arrival of Mashiach, even before the holiday of Pesach, the holiday of our freedom, begins.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag sameach! Shaul

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