Goodbye Pesach, Hello Summer

April 18, 2012

As we say goodbye to Pesach ( when we left Egypt) and count 49 days ( Sefirat Ha’Omer) to Shavout (Festival of Weeks) when we received the Torah on Mount Sinai, a certain theme begins to emerge.

There is a well known homiletic on the word Pesach which breaks it into two – Peh sach – which means the mouth talks. Indeed Jews and others like to talk and in Israel even I am finding it difficult to get a word in edge ways!

Rashi said that we are born with two ears and one mouth so that we should hear twice as much as we speak but not many people have heard of that Rashi! We are not good at listening or concentrating any more.

The Seder is all about talking, explaining, asking and answering questions.
It is also the one and only occasion that the Torah actually commands us to eat or drink something. To eat a slice of matzah on the evening of the 15th Nisan, ie Seder night is a biblical mitzvah, one of the 613.

The Torah tells us what not to eat but only actually commands us to eat one thing!

Nowadays, many people are quite rightly careful of what they put into their mouths. People are very diet conscious, and nobody wants to eat unhealthy, stale or potentially dangerous food. We Jews have the laws of kashrut. The problem is that they promote a healthy spiritual life. Eating non kosher affects the soul of a Jew though this is much harder to detect than the affects of drinking poison.

The Rabbis tell us that eating non-kosher causes disbelief and bad behaviour. Eating treife and denying the Torah go hand in hand.

We read about the kashrut laws in last week’s sedra of shemini. This week’׳s torah reading commences with the Laws of childbirth. The Baal Haturim explains the juxtaposition of the two ideas is to teach us that what the parents eat affects the type of baby you have. It’s not so much you are what you eat as you give birth to what you eat. Actually, there is a growing amount of research which confirms this theory.

But we pay less attention to what comes out of our mouths!

Lashon Hara, tale bearing, cursing, defamation, slander, insult, bad language, put downs, lies, flattery, threats etc etc

This weeks double sidrot speak about these things.

And, as mentioned above, we are in the period of sefrat haomer, when Rabbi Akiva’s students died because they did not speak politely to each other.

So, we have to be careful what we put into our mouths, and extra careful about what comes out of our mouths.

Wishing you all a healthy summer wherever you are.

Rabbi Wise

One Response to “Goodbye Pesach, Hello Summer”

  1. Lovely thoughts R. Wise!

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