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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Be The Matzah

Dough is one of the most unwieldy and uncooperative items in the kitchen. I’ve seen dough rise back out of the Garbage can, push open the door of the refrigerator and jump out of the bread machine and onto the floor. It has a life of its own. Wine ferments in a staid and mature fashion. Dough can be all over the place.

The Torah describes Matzah as Lechem Oni - a poor man’s bread but the way it is actually written in the Torah is Lechem Ani - Poor bread. Is it the bread that is poor or the person that is poor? The Gemara brings an argument as to which is the proper translation and the Shulchan Aruch quotes both.

The Bnei Yissaschar explains that in truth both explanations are the same. Our Mitzvah is not just to eat the Lechem Oni, it is to be the Lechem Oni. We need to be like that bread.

Creativity is great. There is nothing wrong with growing unpredictably and spontaneously, but every once in a while we need to put that dough back in its place we bang it down and pat it down and rush it into a two thousand degree oven to ensure that it doesn’t rise. We need to get back to the basics.

Take things down to their simplest level. This is how Hashem made me. This is what Hashem wants me to do. It is good to build on that, but once in a while we need to just take ourselves out of it.

Sometimes we have a little kid who is so excited about going outside or going to shul. We tell him or to stand still for a minute while we button his shirt or tie his shoes.

We are that little kid. We are so excited about life and G-d and fly off in ten different directions. Today we need to just pause and give Hashem a moment to tie our shoes. We need to make sure that we have the basics.

Matzah is called Nahma D’meihemnusa. It is the bread of Emunah.  Even if we lose everything else, we will still have our Emunah. On Pesach we get back to the basics.

Posted on 04/19 at 12:04 AM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at