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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Making Kadesh Last

“The conquest will not be through strength or power; it will be with my spirit”. – G-d (to Zecharia in 4:6)

The land of Israel was blessed with two types of holiness.

When Zecharia’s generation regained Israel after the Babylonian exile, the conquest was from the outside in. We gained (partial) control militarily and strategically in order to built a second sanctuary for Hashem.

The future conquest of Jerusalem will be from the inside out. We will conquer Jerusalem with a holiness that will then overflow to encompass the entire land of Israel.

What will be the source of this holiness?

The answer lies in the table of contents that we sing at the Seder. According to the Kabbalists, we name each step of the seder because it represents a spiritual undercurrent. The seder is not just a mimicry of the Greek symposium; it is a yearly process of freedom, liberation and closeness to G-d.

We begin the Seder with Kadesh Urchatz: we sanctify ourselves and wash our hands. Common sense would dictate that we wash our hands as a first step in sanctification, but the Hagada tells us otherwise.We sanctify first and wash our hands second.

The Shpoiler Zaide (of Dancing Bear fame) explains that it is not we who are sanctifying ourselves at the seder, but G-d who is sanctifying us. Every Pesach (and, on smaller scale, every shabbos) we receive a gift of free sanctification from Hashem. Sometimes that holiness is allowed dissipate and get lost, but if we are alert we can ride that holiness and follow it with our own purification, making it last forever.

The Bais Yisroel of Gur had a unique perspective on the “Baal Teshuva movement”. He used to tell his Chassidim that a spirit of Teshuva had descended upom the entire world, unfortunately it was only the irreligious who took advantage and became inspired. His point was that every person at every stage in life is given freebies from G-d. We can ignore them and let them fade away, but if we are smart we will grab them.

Zecharia taught us that one jump start of Kedusha can fuel the conquest of the entire land of Israel. One spark, properly cultivated, can bring redemption to the entire world.

Post Script:

This is the third essay in a trilogy on holiness. The Targum on Isaiah, quoted in our daily Tefilla, writes that the three-fold Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, refers to three types of Holiness. There is Holiness in Heaven, Holiness on Earth, and Holiness that Lasts Forever.

Uploads on the Hagada (prepared for my students).

Hilchos Haseder (43 pages)

Hagada Companion (58 pages)

More posts on Pesach:

The Double Dip

The Call of the Turtledove

Bongo Without a Cause (on Unity)

Bottle It

Chag Kasher Vesame’ach!

Posted on 03/24 at 05:40 PM • 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