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Life-Transforming Passover Meditations

The Civil War & the Beilis Blood Libel

1 hr 48 min

Artist: Zalman Kleinman | Chaiartgallery.com

Class Summary:

Farbrengen 11 Nissan, 5771/2011, honoring the 109th birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Talk One – The Beilis Trial: One hundred years ago, in April 1911, a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy Andrei Yushchinsky was murdered. In one of the most infamous blood libels in history, Mendel Beilis, a Jew from Kiev, was charged with the murder, supposedly motivated by the desire to use the boy’s blood for matzah. The Bailis trial brought forth a truth about the Jewish people, articulated long ago in the Midrash, and embodied in daily life by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose birthday is commemorated tonight. Talk Two – The Meaning of Freedom: 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln cast his Inaugural Address as a last-ditch effort to win back the South. A single thorny issue divided the nation, he declared: "One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute." Civil war broke out and it cost 600,000 lives. Slavery in the US was abolished. The slaves experienced their “Passover.” Many a Muslim nation battle today to acquire their freedom from tyranny. But freedom in Judaism is more than the absence of slavery and oppression. A reflection on two forms of liberty, one called “chofesh,” the other—“charus.” One is negative freedom; the other—positive freedom."

Talk Three—The Challenge of the Ego: The difference between the egotist and the humble human being is the difference between Chametz and Matzah, the inflated dough vs. the humble dough. It is the difference between the letter Hay and the letter Ches. Both types of people fall. One knows how get back into the circle of life; the other remains stuck in the abyss. This Passover, try an exercise.

Talk Four—the Crisis of Ignorance: Why is the rebellious child, the Rasha, counted as number two in status, right below the wise son, while the ignorant child is on the bottom of the list? Because ignorance is in many ways far worse than rebelliousness. How the four sons represent the four generations of Jewish immigrants to the free and open countries.

Please leave your comment below!

  • N

    Naomi -10 years ago

    Why the deception twice?
    This explains why Rivka had to employ deception in the incident of giving the blessing. However, Rivka again seems to have deceived Yitzchok when she had to send away Yaakov to escape from the anger of Esav. Instead of telling Yitzchok that she is sending away Yaakov because he is in danger, the reason she gave was about Yaakov having to go away in order to find a wife. There seems to be a pattern of non-direct communication. Why?

    Anyway, thanks so much for your articles -- they are excellent.

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  • MN

    Mark NYC -10 years ago

    As the Rabbi says, much ink has been spilled on this subject. Among some of my readings on this portion, I recall  Chazal's comment that any form of deception  of a tsaddik such as Isaac is inappropriate. Indeed, the point has been made that Isaac was fully aware of the negative proclivities of Esau, and in trying to bless him, hoped he could still influence him to follow a correct path. By interfering with this intent, Rebecca may have changed the future in a way that was not her intention. Indeed, it is my understanding that one of the saddest outcomes of this incident is that Esau never spoke to his mother again, nor did he even attend her funeral. Since Jacob was also gone for many years, she ended up living the rest of her life without any contact with her children. Can one think of a worse fate for a mother? Some commentators take the view that our holy ancestors were sancrosanct and should be above criticism, particularly from the pedestrian among us. But one of the strengths of the Jewish religion is that it has never held its holy people to be above criticism, and indeed, virtually every one of our ancestors and great leaders have had their failings. Considering their exceptionalism, one can only shudder at what this implies for the rest of us.

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  • C

    CARMELA -13 years ago




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    • S

      shlomo -13 years ago

      nobody ever uses the word "chufsha"---

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  • SW

    shlomo weinreb -13 years ago

    your talk on passover
    Dear Rabbi i really enjoyed what you said about thechildren before we yell at them think for a min keep up the great work a gut yom tov

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  • R

    Roberta -13 years ago

    I really liked the singing and think it added to the whole talk.

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Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • April 6, 2011
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  • 2 Nisan 5771
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Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein In the loving memory of Alta Shula Swerdlov And in honor of their daughter Yetta Alta Shula, "Aliyah," Schottenstein. Dedicated by Feivish and Tamar Pewsner in the merit of Rivkah Shifrah bas Dina for a complete and speedy recovery

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