Rebbe Nachman says, Yom Tov stands on the street corner and screams out to the world, “Please know that G-d is leading the world, that there is no nature!” He says that you have to listen with your ears and your heart very closely to hear this screaming. The more you hear the Yom Tov yelling out that G-d is leading the world, the more you feel the joy of Yom Tov. G-d forbid, if you are not so happy on Yom Tov, that means you didn’t hear it calling.
How do you get your ears to hear Yom Tov calling? Before Pesach you must give charity, you have to give to the poor. You train your ears by hearing the cries of those in need. Then your ears become refined, and on Yom Tov you can hear G-d telling you, “Know, there is only one G-d.” But if your ears are not open to the crying of the poor, then your ears are deaf and you cannot hear G-d calling either.
Rebbe Nachman talks about something called Noam Elyon, a kind of holy sweetness which flows down from Heaven.
This sweetness is so whole, that if your mind isn’t whole and if your emotions aren’t whole, then you can’t taste it. You don’t have a place in which G-d can give you the taste of this holy sweetness.
Matzo is the simplest bread in the world, just flour and water. No salt, no pepper. Rebbe Nachman says that on Yom Tov the Noam Elyon flows from Heaven in simplicity. If you are not whole, you cannot receive it. The matzo we eat gives over to us its simplicity, its wholeness.
Matzo tastes so good because it is a piece of the sweetness of Noam Elyon.
What makes us so perverted? We put so much work into our little piece of bread. What do people do for the few rubles they make? They put their whole heart and soul into it, and each time they do, they become more and more slaves. The matzo we eat on Pesach doesn’t take much time to make. We put the least amount of time into our food, and the rest of the time we have is for doing great things, to be free.
Don’t Take any Time
This is a Torah from Rebbe Nachman. Sometimes our children ask us questions, and we can take our time in answering. Sometimes if we take our time, we will lose them. Rebbe Nachman says, if our children ask us, “Is there one G-d?” and we say, “Let’s talk it over,” – we’ve lost them. If they ask for advice, what should they do, what career they should have, we can say, let’s talk about it. If they ask, “Are you a Jew?” if you have to think about it, that’s not good. He says, Seder night is when our children ask, “Is there one G-d?” And our answer has to be right away. Don’t take any time.
I remember once reading a book written by one of the outstanding Jewish leaders of one of the other religions. This outstanding leader wrote in the forward to his book that when he was a little boy he once asked a Rabbi if there is one G-d. The Rabbi said, “Let’s discuss it. Come to my house and we’ll discuss it.” He then quoted from here, and he quoted from there. The boy said, “I’m just asking one question, is there one G-d or not?” He couldn’t get an answer out of the Rabbi. The next week, the little boy met a swami and asked him, “Is there one G-d?” The swami said, “Yes, there is.”
Seder night is when I tell my children there is one G-d. There is one Torah. There is Eretz Yisrael. I have no time to waste. It has to be fast.
When someone is drowning, imagine if I would say, “Let me call a Rabbi and ask if I should save this person, because I heard that last year this person ate ham on Yom Kippur.” I call one Rabbi, and the line is busy, so I call somebody else. All these things are cute. In the meantime, the person is drowning.
You know the problem with us Yidden, you know why Mashiach hasn’t come yet? Because we waited, we waited so long. How did Moshe Rabbenu get us out of Egypt? Right now is the time – “bachatzot halayla,” in the middle of the night – right now, don’t think, just go. This is “mochin degadlus,” a high mind. It is not ‘not thinking.’ It is clearer than thinking. It is clear to me. It is on such a high consciousness level, a deep level.
When I see somebody drowning, where do they grasp me? Do they reach for my head? They reach for somewhere else; they touch the deepest depths of my understanding, which triggers something so holy.
So, Seder night, everything is fast, but it’s so clear, and it’s so good. “This I do not say other than when matzo and maror are placed in front of me.” Everything is clear. I can tell my child, “This is matzo, this is maror.” “I am a Jew, there is one G-d.”
You know, friends, we are living in a world where the devil would like so much to be able to take advantage of the great moments which we have. Seder night, every Jew wants to have a Seder. So, what does the devil do? He brings chicken soup and kneidelach. Sometimes I ask people, “How was the Seder?” They answer, “Oh, the food was unbelievable.” When you ask about the Seder, they are not thinking about the Haggada, they are thinking about the food.
I was in India three years ago. I asked one boy, he was a Hindu who didn’t want to come back; I asked him what he knew about Yiddishkeit. He said, “Once a year my family got together for a Seder. The spokesman of the Seder was my uncle, who told over all the dirty jokes he had heard all year long. One night I got up and said, “I don’t think this is what the Seder is all about.” My uncle said to me, “Look who’s talking. You haven’t even finished Hebrew school yet. What do you know?” So I thought that, if all Yiddishkeit can offer me is a night with dirty jokes and chicken soup, who needs it, who wants it?”
When my daughter’s teeth hurt, I send for the best dentist. When my children are sick, I call for the best doctor. When it comes to Yiddishkeit, the soul of the soul, the eternity of all eternities of my children, would I subject them to the lowest people in the world, who don’t know anything?
This is a Torah from Rebbe Nachman. He says that, basically, the downfall and the ultimate slavery in Egypt were brought about because we ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge causes you to eat your bread with sadness. The beginning of the Seder is that we eat karpas, we eat a little vegetable, and, a few moments later, we are on the level of eating bread with simcha, with joy. Matzo is on the level of eating bread with joy. From the beginning of the Seder, to the matzo, we are fixing everything from the Tree of Knowledge. And it goes so fast, so fast.
Chametz is that everything takes a long time. This is the downfall of mankind. The world says, “We have to wait for peace. It takes time until it comes.” Always waiting, waiting. Matzo is the symbol of alacrity [not waiting] in the service of G-d; today is a great moment – don’t wait.
Crossing the Red Sea
Why do we talk so much about the trial of Yosef? Rav Nachman of Breslov says that each time you do something wrong, you hate one person. Each time you do an aveirah [sin], you hate somebody. And whom do you hate? Somebody you know. It’s clear to me that people who hate people who aren’t religious, have a problem. What’s their problem? They did an aveirah, and, therefore, they hate somebody. They hang their aveirah on someone who doesn’t keep Shabbos.
Hatred comes from an aveirah. Take Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditshov. Why didn’t he hate anybody? Because he never did an aveirah. Why did the Bal Shem Tov not hate anybody? For the same reason.
Now I want to say the deepest depths. If you see a Jew who hates another Jew, the problem is not the Jew who doesn’t keep Shabbos. The problem is the Jew who thinks he keeps Shabbos. He must be doing aveirot [sins] left and right when nobody is looking. Rav Nachman says that if you learn Torah and you don’t understand it, then, obviously, you don’t love Jews, because if you love Jews, then the Torah loves you. The Torah does not allow you to understand it if you don’t like Jews.
I want to say something very deep. If Yosef would have sinned with Potiphar’s wife, he would have hated his brothers. There would have been no way for him to forgive his brothers for selling him. But he was so strong that he didn’t sin, and so his heart was completely void of hatred. As much as he had a right to hate them – he didn’t.
Can you imagine the ‘splitting of the Red Sea’ that Yosef was going through when he saw his brothers? The storm that must have been going on inside of his soul! “Gevalt, you are my brothers – gevalt, what you did to me!” Then, when the moment came, when he was approached by his brother Yehuda, when he stood next to Yehuda and he suddenly realized: Didn’t my mother change for her sister Leah? So why can’t I change for my brother Yehuda? I will do what my mother did. “And Yosef could not restrain himself [Bereshit 45:1].”
Yehuda was ready to give up Olam Haba [the World to Come] for his brother. But splitting the Red Sea is even higher than that – to actually turn yourself over inside – this is something else. So between both of them, both Yosef and Yehuda, together they both built the house of, the family of, G-d.
What happens to most of us when we have a gevalt moment? We go back to where we were before we had it. Jews go to shul on Yom Kippur, have a wonderful experience, and then go back to the way they were before Yom Kippur.
“The Sea returned to its original strength [Shemot 14:27]:” You know how the Sea went back? Not to where it was before it split. It went back to the ‘splitting all the time.’ The Sea is still connected, every second, to its splitting.
All of us have moments when we give everything up [we sacrifice everything]. But then we forget them. They are not incorporated – not connected – to our daily life. This condition that G-d makes with us, of the splitting of the Red Sea, has to be in every second of our lives. Every minute, every second. [When G-d created the Red Sea, He made a condition with it that it would split for the children of Israel.]
Everybody knows that the Temple was destroyed because we hated one another. When we crossed the Red Sea, the Jews saw a vision of the Temple, of Mashiach. What do we need to make us stop hating one another? If only every Jew would say, I’m ready, for the sake of another Jew, to be something else.”
Why are people fighting each other? Fighting comes about when two people do not receive each other on the level of Haninah Ben Dosa. You and I can have completely different ideas, but why do we fight each other? So, Rebbe Nachman says the deepest Torah in the world: When people have a disagreement in Eretz Yisrael [the , it is the sweetest thing. It has a heavenly sweetness. If I say something, and someone has a different thought, what difference does it make? The Torah is so big. But in exile, in chutz la’Aretz, when people disagree, they are really fighting. The Gemara tells us that the Temple was destroyed because of sinas chinom [unprovoked hatred]. You know what that means? Rebbe Nachman says that the moment that you fight, you are already in chutz la’Aretz, you are not in Eretz Yisrael. The Temple can’t exist outside of Eretz Yisrael.
Geula Shleima: The Fixing of Fear
It says at the beginning of Parshat Beshalach, “Vayehi Beshalach… sadly it was that Pharaoh let the Jewish people go.” The commentaries ask, Why “sadly?” The Ishbitzer Rebbe says, there are moments when you have the opportunity to get everything in the world, and the saddest thing is when, at that moment, you limit yourself to one thing.
That night when G-d brought us out of Egypt, we had everything in our hands to bring the redemption. At that moment, we could have done thousands of additional things, but we were just happy to get out. It’s heartbreaking, why did we limit ourselves to something small? We could have eliminated everything at that moment, and fixed everything. We always take less at the wrong time. The moment when the Gates are open, don’t limit yourself to something small.
What will happen when Mashiach comes? What’s hatred about between nations? Hatred comes from our missing something that isn’t ours, something we didn’t take.
When G-d took us out of Egypt, you know what was wrong? We were still afraid of Pharaoh. When we left Auschwitz, we were still afraid of the Nazis. This is engraved fear. The miracle at the Red Sea is that G-d took fear from us, for a moment we were free.
Fear paralyzes us. The less fear, the more free we are, the more we can grow.
Our Torah says that the lowest, simplest person in the world, when he crossed the Red Sea, had higher vision than Ezekiel the Prophet. We were ready for the highest. For one moment, all of Israel had the same vision as Moshe. Why don’t we have the same vision as Moshe all the time? It’s because of fear.
If I’m absolutely free inside, I’m not afraid of anything.
By the end of Pesach we reach the level of infinite Prophecy and infinite riches. The Egyptians brought all their gold and silver with them, and the ocean spat it out.
There’s high oneness and lower oneness. The high oneness is like on Rosh HaShanah, when I fall down before G-d. There is only G-d: I don’t exist. Low oneness is there’s you, and then there’s me.
Why does a seed have to disintegrate before it becomes something? What remains of the seed is the deepest depths, a vessel for everything. When we stood at the Red Sea, at that very moment we were in a state of the deepest disintegration. On the one side Egyptians, on another side the Sea, and on the third side, wild animals. At that moment we were at the deepest place of recognition, and it was the children who saw G-d first when they crossed the Red Sea. We were disintegrating, but obviously not yet enough. We were still afraid of Pharaoh, we were still too afraid to be prophets.
What’s the first sign that someone’s a slave? No self-confidence, fear.
Why isn’t Mashiach coming? We’re still a little afraid of it.
Rebbe Nachman says that you can’t taste the hidden light of the world unless you first get rid of fear, because fear paralyzes us mentally and physically. At the Red Sea we learned not to be afraid, to trust G-d in the deepest way.
We are so afraid of loving people. The only ones who aren’t afraid are our children. Seder night is the fixing of fear. How do we do it? We make children the center.
On the first day of Pesach a sin offering is brought to ask G-d to forgive us for not bringing Mashiach sooner. We might have, but we were afraid to.
At the crossing of the Red Sea, all of Israel went to mikva for the first time ever. It was just before Mount Sinai – our conversion – therefore we all went to the mikva.
The end of Pesach is the highest mikva in the world. Most people don’t keep Shabbos, don’t keep Yom Tov, because they’re afraid to. Even when they keep it, it’s not done on the level of Kriyas Yam Suf [crossing the Red Sea]. Only after we cross the Red Sea can we receive the gift of a Shabbos without limits, a Yom Tov without limits. Shabbos and Yom Tov are gifts from the inside, inside, inside of heaven.
The way to fight evil is by becoming infinitely holy.
When we get out of Egypt, Pharaoh is still there. There is still evil left in the world. If we know that there is still evil left in the world, how can we sing? But when we crossed over the Red Sea, there was no evil in our world, so now we could sing.
In order to sing you have to be free. Okay. The slaves from Africa used to sing to tell you that no matter how much you tried to enslave them, they were still free. Singing comes from the world of freedom. When you sing, you are telling evil, “You don’t have dominion over me.”
In Judaism, the walking, the journey, is so important. Judaism becomes precious because of the long walk. The holiness of it is that it teaches you that you are always on the road. Teachers have to teach you the holiness of walking, and they have to walk with you. The Bal Shem Tov says that a teacher who doesn’t walk with you, doesn’t know your soul, and is not a real teacher.