Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Passover
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Pesach

Ordering Priorities

By Rabbi Yehudah Prero

The shul was filled to capacity. Both men and women came en masse to hear the famous rabbi known for captivating his audience with his oratorical skills. The speeches were always filled with lessons on self improvement, designed to elicit emotion, to deliver a powerful message yet in the most gentle of ways.

The rabbi began this particular lecture describing a man. This man desired to spiritually elevate himself, to further sanctify himself to the service of G-d. So what did this man do? He decided that he needed to fast, to deprive himself of all sustenance. After all, the Talmud writes (Ta’anis 11a) that one who sits and fasts is called “holy.” He began his day with impassioned prayer, asking for forgiveness and the ability to come closer to G-d. He then sat down to spend the rest of the day engrossed in Torah study. However, as the day progressed, he found himself growing weaker and weaker, and his ability to concentrate severely decreased. He actually had to stop learning, as he could not accomplish anything in his weakened state. After quickly reciting the requisite afternoon and evening prayers, he rushed home, eagerly awaiting the sumptuous meal his wife prepared for the occasion.

He arrived home to no such meal. In fact, his wife had totally forgotten about her husband’s fast and that he would be home earlier than usual. Even the regular dinner she prepared was not yet ready. The man was livid. “How could you do this to me!” he bellowed. “Don't you have any respect for your husband? Don't you care at all? Don't you realize what I put myself through today?” he screamed. His anger totally consumed him: any feelings of holiness that had been present earlier in the day were most definitely gone.

The rabbi then delivered his message. “Look at this man: he wanted to engage in an activity that would lead to holiness. But what happened? Instead, he squandered away a day of Torah study. Not only did he not respect his wife properly, but he denigrated her and lost his temper! Our Sages have told us that those who lose their temper are like idol worshipers – and those who sin against their fellow man – even Yom Kippur cannot atone for those transgressions! This man, who thought that by engaging in a totally optional behavior, was doing something praiseworthy, ended his day by transgressing basic Torah precepts! Had he just studied Torah properly and kept his anger and haughtiness in check, he would have reached much greater heights than by engaging in a futile fast.”

The rabbi continued to speak to an enraptured crowd. Upon the conclusion of the lecture, a man approached the rabbi and kissed him. He told the rabbi “You speak the truth – the words of G-d are in your mouth! The illustration you gave of the man who fasted – that is exactly what happened to me! I cannot tell you how glad I am to have heard your words. You have opened my eyes as to what is truly a priority in life. I now have to always remember that the most important things have to come first – that it is silly and counter-productive to engage in optional, laudatory practices if the result is going to be the transgression of basic Torah precepts.”

Rabi Avraham Dayan of Aleppo notes that the Pesach celebration at the evening meal is called the “Seder.” “Seder” means “order.” We are supposed to learn from this order. After we have recited the main liturgy of the evening during the step of Magid, we then come to three different “eatings:” Matzo, Maror and Korech. The order of these three steps, Rabi Dayan states, is noteworthy. First, we consume the matzo. The consumption of the matzo is biblical in origin, a Mitzvah D’Oraisa. Next, we consume maror. The consumption of maror is rabbinic in origin, a Mitzvah D’Rabanan. Last, we consume Korech, the maror sandwich. Doing such is a “custom,” albeit one we have accepted upon ourselves as obligatory ages ago. We see how we are to view miztvos from the order of the Seder: Those precepts contained in the Torah are our top priority. Then, we must be concerned with those precepts of rabbinic origin. Only once we have fulfilled these two mandatory levels can we engage in “custom,” those practices that are not obligatory. The failure to keep these practices in their proper prioritization, as seen from the parable offered by Rabi Dayan, can have disastrous effects. That is the lesson of Matzo, Maror, and Korech.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Yehudah Prero and Torah.org.

The author has Rabbinic ordination from Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, NY.


 


ARTICLES ON MIKETZ AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Mercy Filling
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5763

Under the Radar
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

“So you Think You’re The Man, Alexander?” (Insights for Chanukah)
Jon Erlbaum - 0

Looking for a Chavrusah?

If You Have It, Don't Flaunt It
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

Don't Forget the Butler
Shlomo Katz - 5758

Passive Action
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

> The Real Story
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

Yiras Shomayim: The G-d-fearer
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5767

Everyday Miracles
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Standing Over the River
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Not a Minute Past the Expiration Date
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5757

Behind the Gray Blur
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

ArtScroll

A Little Light Chases Away a Lot of Darkness
Rabbi Label Lam - 5760

Into the Hands of the Few
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

Smelling The Fragrance Of Hope
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5768

Some on Chariots, and Some on Horses
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information