Friday, April 6, 2012

PESACH: BLESSED IS THE YEAST

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


Blessed is the yeast. It seems strange to bless the yeast at the time of Passover, when we have just been toiling to eradicate it. We eradicate it to the point that we have zero tolerance for it, for were even the tiniest drop fall into our cooking pot, the entire pot would be rendered unkosher on the spot, whereas with regard to regular kosher laws, were a drop of milk less than 1/60 of the volume of the contents of the meat pot accidentally fall into the pot, ordinarily the pot would still be kosher.

We eradicate the yeast of Pesach because we are drawing attention to Am Yisrael's role in the world, on this holiday of our Jewish nation's birth. The people of Israel are like the yeast, vis a vis the nations of the world. Yeast is the catalyst in baking, enabling the food to rise, to become better and greater, to reach far beyond its limited ingredients.

Matzah is called lechem oni, poor man's bread. Indeed, the nations of the world are impoverished without the Jewish people among them, whether literally almong them, or figuratively among them as one nation among all the nations of the world in its land.

How impoverished would the world be without the blessings brought to them by the Jewish nation. Both the arts and the sciences have been enriched by the contributions made by the Jewish nation, whether individually or collectively. Just as yeast in relation to the cake is itself exceedingly small, so too the Jewish people, a mere fraction of a fraction of the world's population, bring blessing to the world exponentially greater than their utterly small population would suggest - quality versus quantity, powered by the blessing of He who is the Source of all blessing.

The yeast is emblematic of our role in the world, bringing down Hashem's blessing upon humanity. We eradicate the chametz from our homes this week precisely to call attention to our role in the world. We are the catalysing ferment in the rising of humanity beyond its animal nature- living by the teachings of our Holy Torah, teaching morality and giving the world a conscience, and the values of appreciating the need for working for justice and peace and improving lives with an emphasis on tikkun olam, making the world a better place.

G*d's blessing to Abraham is eternal: GEN 12:2,3,

"I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, I will make your name great and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and cursed will be those who curse you, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed through you."

Those nations that curse Israel will themselves be cursed. And those who bless Israel and the Jewish people shall indeed be blessed and rise up and thus achieve greatness and blessing for all.

Those nations which try to eradicate the Jewish people, seeing us as chametz, shall never themselves rise, but will remain ever matzah, as it was Israel, not they, whom the Lord G*d took out of Egypt and to whom He gave His Torah. A knife in the hand of a surgeon is holy, and brings blessing. But a knife in the hand of a criminal brings only curses and pain, both to himself and to others.

Chag Sameach!

© 2000-2012 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua HaKohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman,
obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l and in memory of my
beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.

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About Me

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I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!