Torah E-Thought: Seder Musings


This Week at Lubavitch Centre of Leeds
Candle Lighting Times for Leeds:
Pesach candle lighting:
Wednesday 8th: 7.30pm

Thursday 9th: 8.35pm
Friday 10th, 7:30pm    
Shabbat ends: 8:51pm 
Torah Portion: 

Lubavitch Centre of Leeds   Email:   Phone:

Message from the Rabbi
Dear Friend,
It's been a difficult week for the Leeds Jewish Community, losing a number of beloved members. Please G-d their families should find comfort and all those who are unwell should have a complete recovery.

Pesach is this week! We’re completely out of Seder to Go kits but we still have shemura matza, wine and haggadas. Full details here.

Last night we had a Zoom class on DIY Seder: Making your Seder Inspirational. You can watch the recording here.
Last chance to sell Chometz is today at 12:00 - click here for details.

All our coronavirus support is online here.

This week’s E-Thought is slightly longer than usual, but it is the musings of a member of the Leeds Jewish Community on their upcoming Seder.

Stay safe and stay well!

Wishing you a Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Eli Pink
Director of Education
Chabad Lubavitch Leeds



Like so many this year for Pesach I, along with tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands – it may even be in the millions within world Jewry – have had to rearrange many aspects of my life and at a relatively late stage. With the festival nearly upon us, I found myself asking if this could have fallen out at a worse time? On the face of it, the answer is a painfully resounding no.
Despite being raised in a religious environment, I have never before had to set up for Pesach by myself. Suddenly and because I cannot stay with the family I normally visit, I realised that even ignoring the low income factor at the moment, I would have to lay out for food and cooking equipment, and there are the time consuming efforts in cleaning and preparing my home and the very daunting prospect of kashering the kitchen. In fact, were it not for a good friend kindly taking the time out of their own chaotic schedule to offer various tips and reassurances, I would have been utterly clueless about transferring everything over so as to have a kosher-for-Pesach home.
In these situations, (and this is coming from a self proclaimed moaner) it would be easy to lament "Woe is me!" to anyone who will listen. However, I recall the highly amusing advice of an NFL coach at a graduation ceremony advising "Don't tell people about your problems. Do you know that 90% of the people don't care? ..... And the other 10% are glad you've got them!"
Now put that way, I had to laugh….. Then I came back to the challenges which were still pulling faces in my direction. Yet having had time to reflect and accept my reality, two things have since occurred to me in response to the aforementioned "resounding no" about the timing of this pandemic and how it has affected countless Jews around the world.
1) At the outset, I want to stress that of course no one wanted this to happen now or at any point. The crisis of this health threat has in one way or another claimed a stake in all our lives and in ways we may not yet fully understand. All we can pray for is that Please G-d, those who are sick should be healthy, while the rest of us should remain safe and well. Purely from the perspective of where keeping mitzvos is concerned though, if there is an inkling of positivity to found here, it is perhaps this…. With Pesach, for all the social distancing and isolation rules in place, together with either the potential loneliness or family tensions bubbling under the surface, we can all at least still fully observe the mitzvos of Pesach. In contrast, it would for many be logistically challenging, if not physically impossible to fulfil the requirements of certain other festivals. Which leads onto....
2) Conveniently, the best analogy I can come up with is at a Seder table. We've all witnessed the touching scene of a little child being requested (or they volunteer) to ask the four questions, Ma Nishtana but when the moment arrives, they're too shy. They look down in the hope they'll be overlooked. They might even begin to sob as their parents cuddle them and try to offer encouragement about how much everyone was looking forward to hearing them ask the questions. Then often, when the father has already given up and begun to read, a short while later, the child wants to say it after all. They might begin softly, quietly, stealing the odd glance to see if anyone, whether it's their parents or guests are looking or listening and depending how they feel it’s going, they might become more emboldened and sing progressively louder until they reach the end with a loud voice. Everyone smiles, cheers and compliments the child, who can't stop smirking with a bashful pride.
Meanwhile throughout much of the rest of the Seder, there seems to be this presumption that the head of the household / host will singularly lead the proceedings as they wade through the haggadah. This can also be amidst the chatter of guests, exhausted children screaming who eventually are put to bed by their mothers, snoozing elderly parents and everyone wondering when the food is coming. Some might at certain points indulge their curiosity and actually read a few lines to themselves or even join in with the familiar songs..... 
Alas, much of this atmosphere and interaction will not be possible this year. Hosts don't have the honour bestowed upon them to have guests at their dining room table. Guests who enjoyed the convenience of going out are compelled to host themselves. How sad we all must be inclined to feel but before descending into that misery, here’s a slightly different take.....
This Pesach at the sedarim, like all those in the past, when the father hopes his child will take up the challenge of reading the Ma Nishtana, Hashem waits for us, his individual children, not only join in if we feel like it but also to read the haggadah by ourselves; to relive our history, the rulings, the stories, the wealth of teachings and ideas that are amongst the very foundations about what it means to be a Jew. Until this year, He has instead always had to accept that at best, someone else leading the Seder, will do the job for others. This year however, in a very unique and beautiful way, Hashem is saying, “My dear child, whom I love so much and know what you are capable of achieving, even in difficult circumstances…. I am already aware that others are reading the haggadah. Now I wish to hear the words specifically coming from your own voice.”
This is the responsibility, the honour, the once in a lifetime opportunity, which Hashem has decided to give us this year and which G-d willing, we will be able to look back at in the future and tell ourselves it was a challenge that we accepted and therefore overcame. He is already confident that we’ll do the mitzvos of the four cups, eating matza and marror. What He seemingly wants additionally this year is to hear those extra voices reading the haggadah because that’s the best way we can celebrate Pesach now.
Think of it as a big concert, where the loudspeakers are already set up to handle the additional sound that will be going directly up to Heaven. Our job this year, whether it’s simply with our spouse or family or even if we do so alone, is to make sure our voices are heard. Inevitably, some will be in loud grateful celebration, while others will be with soft, beseeching voices interrupted by flowing tears of isolation. What’s important is that like the child saying Ma Nishtana, we show our Father in Heaven that he shouldn’t give up. That we will do the best we can, by fulfilling that potential which He always believed we had, even if until now, we didn’t have enough faith in ourselves…. and with any luck, in the process, we’ll cause a power surge to those heavenly amplifiers because of all that extra sound from those hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of extra voices who want to be heard as we conclude next year, in Jerusalem, with the immediate arrival of the Moshiach.
A story has recently come to prominence about the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson z’l. For sixty years, he was married to Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, z’l and even with a growing Chassidic following and the responsibilities which came with it, he spent every Shabbos meal and all sedarim together just with his wife. After her passing, as they were sadly never blessed with children, for the following two years, the Rebbe spent the sedarim alone. It is perhaps appropriate that I write this on the 11th of Nissan, the birthday of this great tzaddik, whose entire focus, particularly after the horrors of World War II was to improve the lives of all Jews both spiritually and often materially, to give them back their voice and with it, their self worth, striving towards the ultimate goal of bringing the Moshiach. Please G-d, this year, we should cry out to Him that our potential becomes actual and that in its merit we are freed not only from having to shelter in our homes but from an exile that has gone on for far too long, with the final redemption beginning now! Amen.
Wishing you all a kosher, happy, healthy and redeeming Pesach.
Upcoming Events
Finish Eating Chametz BEFORE
Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2020 - 10:53 am
Dispose of Chametz BEFORE
Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2020 - 12:01 pm
Start First Seder AFTER
Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2020 - 8:33 pm
Start Second Seder AFTER
Thursday, Apr. 9, 2020 - 8:35 pm
Candle Lighting
Friday, Apr. 10, 2020 - 7:30 pm
Candle Lighting
Friday, Apr. 17, 2020 - 7:30 pm
Lunch and Learn
Monday, Apr. 20, 2020 - 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
This will be running as an online Zoom Class
More Info »
Candle Lighting
Friday, Apr. 24, 2020 - 7:30 pm
Lunch and Learn
Monday, Apr. 27, 2020 - 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
This will be running as an online Zoom Class
More Info »
Lunch and Learn
Monday, May 4, 2020 - 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
This will be running as an online Zoom Class
More Info »
Zoom Torah Tots and preparation of the Seder to go kits
Service Times

All services are suspended until further notice

This Week @
Sell Your Chametz Online
Any chametz left undisposed must be sold to a non-Jew. Use this online form to quickly delegate a rabbi to sell your chametz for you.
By the Numbers
9 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Matzah
How well do you know this food, which has been with us since the dawn of our peoplehood? Here are some of our favorite matzah myths.
Your Questions
Why Is Matzah So Bland?
The short and simple answer is that another name for matzah is lechem oni—“poor man's bread” or “bread of poverty.”
Getting Personal at the Seder
Why Is the Charoset Sweet?
Every single Jew is a building brick in the process. Every child that comes into the world is a miracle and an entire world. At any age and at any stage, we don’t know what will happen or how.
Parshah in a Nutshell

On the eighth day, following the seven days of their inauguration, Aaron and his sons begin to officiate as kohanim (priests); a fire issues forth from G‑d to consume the offerings on the altar, and the divine presence comes to dwell in the Sanctuary.

Aaron’s two elder sons, Nadav and Avihu, offer a “strange fire before G‑d, which He commanded them not” and die before G‑d. Aaron is silent in face of his tragedy. Moses and Aaron subsequently disagree as to a point of law regarding the offerings, but Moses concedes to Aaron that Aaron is in the right.

G‑d commands the kosher laws, identifying the animal species permissible and forbidden for consumption. Land animals may be eaten only if they have split hooves and also chew their cud; fish must have fins and scales; a list of non-kosher birds is given, and a list of kosher insects (four types of locusts).

Also in Shemini are some of the laws of ritual purity, including the purifying power of the mikvah (a pool of water meeting specified qualifications) and the wellspring. Thus the people of Israel are enjoined to “ differentiate between the impure and the pure.”