Archive for Pesach

Reflecting Back On The Mah Nishtana



There’s an old saying, “Time marches on, it doesn’t stop for anybody.” We blink our eyes and the wonderful holiday of Pesach is history. There are many customs among our great nation for many of our chagim. Over the course of the holiday of Pesach, I had spoken to many people and I came across this touching story of Rav Baruch Dopelt. His name may sound familiar to some of the readers; this is because I quote him in many of the Divrei Torah which I write and lecture on.


He mentioned that his custom at the Pesach Seder is that everybody who is sitting at the Seder table gets a chance to say the Mah Nishtana to their father. This is because the Seder is all about asking questions to the elders. It doesn’t matter what age they are; everyone recites it. Of course, the youngsters are thrilled with the opportunity for the limelight. However, the teenagers are a bit embarrassed and feel it’s not their speed anymore to recite the questions. But there are those like Rabbi Dopelt, who’s a grandfather many times over, who has been saying the Mah Nishtana, with the exception of this year, to his father ever since he can remember. Unfortunately, his father passed away this past year and he discontinued his questions. There is a feeling of a tremendous loss at the table. I can definitely feel for Rabbi Dopelt, having lost my father eight years ago. I can still remember him sitting in his customary joma (holiday robe) and excitingly answering the Patriarch response to the questions, ‘avadim hayinu.’ Rav Dopelt said how nice it would be to say the Mah Nishtana one more time to his father.


It seems like Rabbi Dopelt and I have inherited quite a responsibility. Now we are the Patriarchs of our family and it’s our task to pass down the tradition of our families that goes back three thousand years. It’s a challenge to step up to the plate and give over to your children what your father has taught you all these years. The sages say to keep it fun and interesting. We, the Patriarchs, are now in the entertainment business; and it’s worth a million dollars to see your child respond eagerly to your stories and answers.

Pesach Seder Guide

Americans have their Thanksgiving, and us Jews have our Passover. Pesach is a holiday of extreme importance where we make it our business to get together with family or be part and parcel with our fellow brethren. The Seder nights are designed to seek that togetherness so that by the end of the 15th step of the Seder (starting with kadesh, urchatz), we accomplished completeness within ourselves and as a nation and are ready for the redemption.


Why do Jews put such importance on this holiday? Even the most secular Jew wants to connect to the Seder table. In popularity, Pesach is head to head with Yom Kippur. Rabbi Akiva Tatz, quoting the mystics, made an interesting observation. The most intense part of anything; the most concentrated, powerful, the most strongest, is the inception, the root is where everything sprouts from. A person’s childhood is crucial for his development. Any action and reaction to an accordance would most likely be magnified and indebted in his psyche and influence his adult decisions.

Pesach was the inception of us being a nation; it’s the root of camaraderie; it’s our birth as a people. The root is intense and the feeling of togetherness we experienced then for the first time is brought back every year. In the heavens, the concept of time is different;years are not a factor. If one experiences Pesach or Purim, it’s as if he’s experiencing it when it actually happened for the first time. G-d showered us with kindness and mercy when we left Egypt, even though we didn’t deserve it. In order to receive that Pesach experience with the same warm feeling that G-d bestowed on us, and perhaps ask Him for our wanting needs, then one has to accomplish certain steps on the Seder night. We have to reach a perfect, complete, heavenly state of Shalem in order for our requests to be granted. On this night, that reach is a lot easier because of the power of the moment in which G-d was kind to us then, or I should say then is now. The number 15 is a significant number which represents completeness. Although we try to reach that throughout the year in our prayers (15 steps in yishtabach, 15 emet veyatziv, king davids 15 shir hama’alot), the path is a lot easier on Pesach; perhaps we should take advantage of the opportunity.

Let us explore the 15 steps:

In every happy joyous occasion, we make kiddush. Kadesh means to sanctify and here we sanctify time. Kadesh also means to separate; we are separating time. Perhaps this is where we get the expression “make something out of nothing.” We elevate the time because of the beautiful occasions. Why is wine the preference for the Kiddush? Rabbi Akiva Tatz reminds us of the famous phrase that we say for wine, “nichnass yayin yatza sod” – wine goes in, the secret comes out. The most popular explanation is we can determine by one’s drinking his true nature because wine takes away the mask, the barrier. However, R’ Tatz says the secret here is something deeper. There is a very fine line in drinking in the early stage. If one drinks slightly more than he should, he makes a fool of himself. At a certain point however, the person drinking has a vision well beyond the usual state of mind, he has the ability to think clear and to develop ideas and formulate concepts; he has the ability to use creativity to the highest caliber. Perhaps the fact that wine decreases the paranoia and sadness in one’s heart, gives way for opportunity to develop and to boldly go where one could not reach before. A Jew has the ability to sanctify time through his vision and bring down happiness at kiddush time.



This washing is in preparation for eating the karpas dipped in salt water. In the times of the temple when people were able to observe the laws of ritual purity in full, they were required to wash their hands before any produce that has been dipped in water or certain other liquids. So why do we wash our hands today? There is no temple; we don’t do it throughout the year. Why all of a sudden do we wake up now and say hey let’s wash our hands, and not throughout the year? Again, one of the themes of the Seder is to pursue the goal and increase, rekindle the hope of the final redemption where we will have a temple and we will be required to do the command that’s not required today.


No double dipping please, with the exception of George. The custom of karpas is to dip a vegetable into salt water. This apparently was a sign of freedom, comfort, and indulgence. Yet we dip it into the salt water to remind us of the bitterness of the bondage. Those who are meticulous and detail-oriented should be asking a fairly obvious question. If the Seder (which means order) is in its proper order, then why is karpas here and not in the section of magid telling of the story of the exile? It appears out of sequence. In order to get a clearer understanding of this, we must examine the word karpas.

The word karpas is also associated with clothing. Rashi, one of the main commentaries on the Chumash, associates it with one of the threads of the coat that Yaacov, our forefather, gave as a present to Yosef. One of the main ingredients of the galut (diaspora) is disunity, separation, and strife. This is the reason why throughout history, when the Jews were united, we flirted with having the Messianic time at our doorstep. It seems like the order of the haggadah is actually quite precise. You see the galut didn’t start when the Jews were in Egypt; it started way before that. When Yaacov gave only one of his sons a coat made out of karpas/wool for a present, all the other brothers got jealous and the harmony and unity among the brothers was shattered. The coronation of the disunity between the brothers was when Yehuda, the brother they looked up to, brought Yosef’s karpas coat, after selling him to the Arabs, to Yaacov, asking him if he recognizes this, referring to the ripped coat in which they dipped in animal blood.

The antithesis of the dipping of Yosef’s coat is the dipping of the vegetable in the salt water. We regret the sin of our ancestors and the disunity it caused. That incident was the beginning of the exile.


We are now preparing ourselves to start the telling of the story of Pesach by laying the matzoh in front of us. We take the middle of the three matzot and break it in half leaving the smaller half in between the two, and the larger is put away for the afikoman. The patriarch of the family usually does this task. There is a mystic source that when the patriarch is breaking the matzoh, he should concentrate on many brachot for his family and for Klal Yisrael. There are different opinions as to what the three matzot represent; Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov (our patriarchs) or Kohen, Levi and Yisrael (the three status levels of the Israelites), are two opinions of what these matzos represent. The middle of both Yitzchak and Levi represent din – harsh judgment. Symbolically, we nullify the harsh judgment on us by breaking the middle matzoh. Matzoh is called lechem oni – bread of affliction; the phrase can also be interpreted by our sages as lechem she’onim bo – bread that you answer to it. Therefore, it’s always present when we discuss the story of the redemption from Egypt. Rabbi Naftali Landau says matza represents freedom and freedom is the everyday man. A wealthy man has to many commitments and obligations. The everyday Joe has the true taste of freedom.



The whole Seder is orchestrated to be a kid-friendly atmosphere. The goal is to keep the children interested. We play hide and seek with the afikoman. In some communities, the participants of the Seder playfully hit each other with scallions when the prayer dayenu is recited to keep the children awake. The reason of the strong emphasis on the children is pretty obvious – they are our future. The second half of the haggadah’s primary focus is the future. Our children will carry the baton to the messianic time, although we might see him in our time period. Dealing with children is the primary agenda. There is such delicacy when dealing with the four sons. The Torah hints that every son should be approached differently. One must realize education cannot be taught the same to everyone. I excelled in the class in third grade but didn’t learn a thing in the fourth. The Rabbis’ styles of teaching were different; their personalities were different. Naturally, I gravitated to the one I was most comfortable with. The sages don’t suggest a different teacher for every student. Economically, it’s not possible; however it’s making one aware that there is a difference.

The importance of passing down the tradition is quite important. In the temple, in the Holy of Holies, the keruvim, which stood on top of the aron, had the image of a father and son. This relationship, if healthy, is the essence of Judaism.


We always wash our hands before bread. Although the health conscience advocates applaud the act because it promotes better hygiene, its main purpose, though, is to wash away spiritual impurities. The act and its blessing is associated with eating bread. The Torah says bread is the most satisfying food, more than meat, cheese and sushi, and therefore it is considered very important. By removing any spiritual impurities through washing of the hands, one can elevate an ordinary meal with bread to a highly energized spiritual experience. We are considered physical human beings with the purpose to use the physicality tools that G-d has given us to promote excellence in all worldly areas.

Motzi Matzoh

The question is asked, if chametz is so evil that one can’t even possess it during the holiday of Pesach and matzoh has such tremendous spiritual qualities, why eat chametz altogether? Perhaps one should eat the spiritual matzoh all year long. We’ll definitely score brownie points in the great adding machine in the heavens. In fact, the sages do agree it would be ideal, but find it impossible to deprive one of bread. There is a concept in the Torah involving the number seven which is defined by the Sages as being complete. There are seven days to a week; harvest occurs on the seventh year, etc. The Torah teaches us if one keeps Pesach with the utmost intensity and meticulousness during the complete seven days (8 days outside of Israel), he will fulfill his requirement of going full circle of not consuming chametz and eating matzoh.


Although some of our brothers, the Ashkenazim have a tougher time with maror then the Sefaradim, one has to taste some level of bitterness in the maror. One does not fulfill his requirement if he swallows the maror without chewing. In fact, the Gemarah says he has to bite it into pieces with 22 teeth corresponding to the 22 letters of the alef bet, which is found in the Torah. Life is bittersweet. One can find the Torah very useful and helpful in dealing with the difficulties one receives in his lifetime.


We can look at the ma nishtana as one question instead of four – why are we mixing the bitterness of matzoh and maror with the majestic royalty of dipping and leaning at the Seder night? The same paradox can be found with Hillel who combines the matzoh (freedom) with the maror (servitude).
This is the taste Hillel is left with at the end of the night. Taste is one of the senses we are given and tonight it’s a tool to connect to the feeling our ancestors had. When Adam sinned by eating from the tree, one of his punishments was that goodness which he will now experience, will be always be mixed with a degree of bad. If one notices any happy occasion in the history of the world, was interrupted by some negativity. This is the true feeling of life and is one that our ancestors realistically experienced on their way out to freedom. One should not be disillusioned and get depressed that life has turned out the way it has.

Shulchan Orech

Enjoy the meal!! After Pesach, G-d willing, we will occasionally feature recipes of various cuisines.


One opinion of why we eat the afikoman is in memory of the Pesach offering. The definition of afikoman means dessert. The matzoh of the afikoman was eaten at the end of the meal replacing the desert. As mentioned earlier, it represents the redemption as well as servitude .The taste of the matzoh is the last taste in out mouths before going to bed. One should have the taste of the servitude matzoh humbling him and he should also have the taste of the redemption. We play hide and seek with our kids as we try to find the afikoman. What are we trying to find? When our forefather, Yaacov, was on his deathbed, he called all his sons and apparently was ready to reveal the secret when the Moshiach will come. However, apparently G-d hid the thought and Yaacov forgot. It’s symbolic – the kids and the grown-ups trying to find afikoman and reveal the coming of the redemption. This is why we open the door of our home to usher in Eliyahu, the prophet, who will take the role of the Moshiach.




We say the grace after meal (birkat hamazon – bentching). In the last paragraph of birkat hamazon, we read “oseh shalom bim’romav” – G-d makes peace in the heavens between fire and water then He shall surely make peace among us and He’ll make peace on all of Israel and they would say amen. If we believe in G-d the way we’re supposed to, then G-d will inject in us a portion of unity that will lead to the redemption. Just like fire and water are opposites and they are able to co-exist in the heavens; so too, no matter how different people are from one another, we’ll co-exist as well. There are many couples that are opposites (fire and water), however they get along because there is a certain commitment to the one above. It’s interesting that this passage is in the benching, where one says after being satiated. My father always said, “son, never come home after a day’s work hungry.” Always put something in your mouth before walking in the door. A hungry person gets agitated quickly and a fight is imminent. After one eats and benches, then he’s able to accomplish the goal of unity.


We’re close to the end or perhaps shaping up the future. One has to be at an advanced state at this juncture of the night where showing praise and appreciation to G-d comes natural. The focus is clearly the future; however to get there, one has to realize the goodness that G-d has bestowed upon us. One of the passages we say in the Hagaddah is an important praise we sing early Shabbat morning called ‘nishmat kol chai.’ In most communities, it’s the main focal of their cantorial singing. What makes it unique in its praise and appreciation is that its composer was a Jew in the highest caliber named Shimon Khafa. About 2000 years ago, an offshoot religion started called Christianity. The great Sanhedrin (71 judges great court of Israel) was concerned that Jews will abandon Judaism for this new belief. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, the president of the Sanhedrin, who is quoted earlier in the Haggadah, approached Shimon Khafa to perform a difficult but important task; they wanted him to infiltrate the hierarchy of this new religion and alter, make a clear distinction between Judaism and Christianity; this way Jews won’t mistaken it as part of their own and won’t be lured in off guard. Shimon accepted and became one of the most important spies we’ve had. He successfully altered their day of rest from Saturday to Sunday, as well as, dehumanized their savior. Eventually many years later Khafa was exposed and was executed. Some say he was none other than Peter. As one can imagine, a spy cannot express his feelings outwardly. In fact, a spy has to take on a different identity; play the part. What often happens in the spy world is they play their role too well where there is confusion of who is the real person inside of you. We often have an identity crisis as is could one imagine what spies go through. However, Shimon had so much love for Hakadosh Baruch Hu (G-d), His nation, and Judaism, he composed a long and eloquent praise affirming his belief and great appreciation to life and to his master. It’s a tremendously moving piece and deeply inspiring whether it be Shabbat morning or at the Seder.


We conclude the Seder by asking G-d to accept our prayers and for our enthusiastic loving participation in this beautiful night. Many years ago, G-d showed us tremendous kindness and took us out even though we didn’t deserve it. It’s obviously a special night of tremendous potential kindness in which G-d can continue the flow of this good. We have to take advantage of this night. On any other night to get to a spiritual height, we have to work very hard to accomplish that task. However, tonight, the connection to the heavens is strong. (4g)

G-d willing, our prayers will be accepted and next year we will sit in Yerushalayim in happiness with spiritual abundance and the Moshiach. Amen.



          One of the items that are controversial on Passover is whether kitniyot is permissible. Let’s mention some fundamental concepts before explaining what kitniyot are. The Torah forbids us to eat chametz (leaven) on Pesach. Something becomes chametz when flour and water mix together long enough for the dough to rise. The sages explicitly state and rule that chametz can be produced only from certain grains: wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and oats. The Rabbis imposed a stringency on kitniyot as a prevention to violating the Torah law of chametz. Kitniyot are also cooked in a manner similar to the way the grains are cooked and that could be confusing. In addition, in many locales, kitniyot are made into bread and people who are not well versed in Torah law might get confused.
          Another concern is that kitniyot are mixed with grains that have the ability to become chametz. For example, spelt is often mixed with rice. That is why in many communities our mothers and grandmothers clean rice before Pesach.  Much has been written about which items are included in the minhag (custom) of kitniyot. Four issues are usually explored. Is the item defined as kitniyot (legumes, such as beans, lentils, rice, soy, kidney beans, lima beans, peas, corn), or at least similar to kitniyot? Can the item be ground into flour in the same manner as grain? Does the item grow near a field of grain? Various communities have different customs and define what is and is not allowed. Some customs allow eating kitniyot; some just allow rice, and some none at all. My family custom permits rice with the exception of the first Seder night. There is no generality except what the Talmud explicitly states what is chametz which we mentioned above. Therefore, when going to a kosher supermarket for Pesach shopping, look at labels and ingredients to be in accordance with you family traditions.
The most important advice is to follow one’s rich traditions and customs, as long as they don’t violate any Jewish law. Minhag avot (the custom of our fathers) is the leading indicator to proceed in various functions of every day Jewish life. It is vital to consult with a Rabbi who is well versed in Torah and is also familiar with your family traditions.



          What is chametz? To begin, let’s introduce SEOR- leaven, which is an ingredient used in making bread which creates the pores one sees in bread loaves. Leavening agents spread throughout the dough by releasing gases that causes the entire batch of dough to rise.
          A leavened product is called CHAMETZ. The Torah describes SEOR as being a lump of old dough which was left to reach a high level of fermentation called yeast. When a peace of yeast is kneaded together with a mixture of flour and water, it accelerates the rising process and creates chametz. Today’s yeast is SEOR. So, is chametz the same as SEOR? Well, Chametz is edible, while seor is not.
          The Torah declares that no chametz shall be eaten for a full seven days starting from the 15th of Nissan through the 22nd of Nissan (Shemot 12:15-18, 34:18)
Enough of biology, what is the Torah’s perspective about chametz?
          Chametz, we believe, is considered an evil force. Its task is to manipulate the purer element. Similar to the lump of leaven in the batch of dough. Chametz is the evil in us. The bad traits including pride, desire, lust etc. are chametz. Therefore, we eradicate it, every speck and crumb, from our midst during the eight days of Pesach.
          The prohibition of chametz is not limited to the holiday Pesach. It was also banned from the meal offering -the Mincha




          It seems like we have tremendous respect for bread, especially on Shabbat. We even cover the bread so we shouldn’t hurt its feelings, since the kiddush on the wine is recited first. Some have the custom that if they see bread on the street, they turn it over if it’s upside-down and move it gently to the side. If bread was so evil why do we give it such respect?
          We have to be aware of a few points in order to understand the answer. Firstly, the power of the Seder night is such that, without much effort, we can accelerate to the 49th level of kedusha. Once achieved, we have the ability to request from G-d whatever we desire. The high spirituality, although diminishes over the Yom Tov, is still powerful throughout the eight days. Secondly, it’s funny how things are. Against our will we are brought down to this world. (Some say that this is why the baby cries at the brit; he doesn’t want to be in this world. Similarly, when a person dies, the relatives cry, however the soul, is happy). Why in actuality doesn’t the soul want to come down to this world? Simple. It is because he has to co-exist with the lowly body. Therefore, his spirituality is limited.
          So we are presented with a quandrary, we don’t want any physical motivations, but still we are told that “chametz” -our bad traits, are not always prohibited? To resolve this. we must realize that indeed chametz has a time and place as well. In order for humans to function, one needs both the spiritual and the physical. Humans cannot function without the chametz, our evil side. Therefore, G-d said refrain from chametz for seven days and that will be sufficient  for the whole year. These are the seven days from 15 Nissan to 22 Nissan when G-d displays a special kindness towards us.
          It is no coincidence that this auspicious time occurred when we were first redeemed and led out of our bondage. Hashem specifically granted us this time when we needed it the most to draw close to Him and ask for whatever our heart desires.
          So we see that although, yes, “chametz” is inherently bad and must be eradicated, we unfortunately are faced with the reality that we cannot survive without it. Therefore, chametz is only prohibited for one one week period throughout the year, for the duration, we need the chametz.
          Interestingly, the only sacrifice that has chametz is the one offered on Shavuot, when we celebrate receiving the Torah. We are not concerned by the intrusion of the chametz as the tremendous infusion of Torah deems the chametz insignificant and will not influence us.

Why Slaves?


This Dvar Torah was taken from a conversation I had with Rabbi Illan Feder of Yeshivat Chafetz Chaim.
          We Jews come from royalty. Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov, our forefathers, were not only well respected members of society, they were also materialistically wealthy. Avraham was tall and charismatic. Yitzchak was looked upon as quiet but very spiritual, as he had been the one chosen to be the sacrifice. Yaacov had the twelve tribes. Our forefathers were blessed with good Mazal, and whatever they touched turned to gold. This was the result of their wholehearted belief in G-d.
So it’s puzzling how their descendants would be tortured, humiliated, and victims of genocide as a result of being taken as SLAVES!!
How did that happen? Why slaves?  Why that particular punishment?  What happened to the royalty that our forefathers enjoyed?
          It seems like us children were so remotely distant from the lifestyle of our forefathers. We allude in the Hagadda to the descent of our ancestors to Egypt. Yaacov and his sons, the twelve tribes, packed their bags and headed towards Egypt because that’s where Yosef resided. Yosef, who was sold by his jealous brothers many years before, was now second in command of a superpower country. It was because of Yosef’s advice that Egypt became the “caretaker” of the world. He promised to take care of his brothers during the famine years.
          One of the prime directives of our Torah is to make us master and refine our natural character traits. An angry or jealous person, or whatever other bad traits one has, has no place in G-d’s world. One has to work on himself to eradicate bad traits and thereby better himself.
          The brother’s jealousy of Yosef was a trait that bothered G-d tremendously. For this reason, they were punished by being converted into slaves. Slaves have no say, no opinion. They don’t own anything so no one slave can be jealous of the other. They are all equal. This is the kind of mindset G-d wanted his chosen people to have. “We are equal!!”. There is not one Jew who’s better than the other, and one cannot be jealous of his fellow.
          The Seder is set up so that the first half, until the meal, discusses the slavery period. During this time, there was no jealousy among the Jews. The second part of the seder, after the meal, discusses the redemption. It’s a period of tremendous spirituality, closeness to G-d, and a unity among Jewish brethren that also contains no jealousy.
          G-d is teaching us the importance of unity, of caring for one another. It was a painful and costly lesson- one that absolutely had to be conveyed.

Got to Have Faith Especially in the Big Apple



          Here is a story which made an impression on me and it is a perfect intro to the holiday of Pesach. A few days ago, I was on 47th street in the jewelry district, where I used to work, and I met a friend of mine, Robert. Robert related an incident that happened to him, maybe fifteen years ago. He was working and, as many of us sometimes experience, one day had to come up with $5000 to pay some bills.
          Robert left his office early to go downtown where he had a number of clients who owed him money, which he hoped to collect.  As he  walked to 48th St. and 6th avenue to take the train, he was stopped by a man who needed some help.
           Us New Yorkers are experts in reading people- we know who to stop for or who to ignore. This person, though not a bum, would definitely be considered one with major psychological issues. Sounds familiar right, everyone knows a few of those.
          Showing Robert an envelope full of coins, he told Robert in a slow weird voice “I found this in the street here and I tried to call the number and name found on the envelope and return it several times, but every time I ask for Dr. Kennedy, they hang up. Hey! all I want to do is be a good human being and return it. You look like an honest guy, can help me?”
          It was very obvious what had happened. Dr. Kennedy thought it was some weirdo calling, so he hung up.
          The man then asked Robert if he can call and try to get through to Dr. Kennedy. Robert said to himself “there is no harm in that” and proceeded to call.
          Robert did indeed get through to Dr. Kennedy who asked for Robert to describe some of the rare coins which were in the envelope. They were very expensive and Kennedy said that he was about to place an ad in the New York Times’ lost and found.
          Dr. Kennedy said “I am busy with patients, please tell the man to take a cab to the upper west side where I work, and to top it off, I’ll give him a $700 reward for the return of the coins.
          Robert, still on the phone with the Dr., relayed the message to the man, who said  “I’m not going, I’m too scared”. Kennedy then said to Robert “ok, then why don’t you come with him and I’ll give you half the reward”. Still the man was reluctant to go and maintained “I’m not going with you, I’m scared”.
          There was a long pause. Finally, Kennedy gave a suggestion to Robert – “why don’t you give $150 to the man and come here yourself and I’ll give you the reward”.
          He thought about it and rationalized, “it would seem that everybody gains, and not only that, I’m on a time clock to come up with the $5000, this would be a perfect start in the process of reaching my goal of the day.
          He gave the man $180- chai. The weird man looked to the left and then to the right, and he was gone.
          When Robert reached Kennedy’s building on the West side, he asked the doorman “can I take the short cut to the side office entrance which Kennedy described to get to his office?” The doorman laughed. He said “you’re the 5th person this month to come looking for Dr. Kennedy. There is no Dr. Kennedy. It’s all a scam”.
          Robert told me “I had been had, they tricked me. At first I laughed and said ‘wow what a performance’, then, though,  I got a little upset. I said ‘why did G-d do this to me? He knows I have to raise $5000. I not only lost $180, I also lost precious time’”. “I then started to think with my head and not with my emotions, Robert continued, and I shrugged it off as “this is what G-d wants, it is what it is.”
          Robert got an appraisal for the coins, they were worth one dollar!
Ten years after the incident, Robert was chauffeuring a famous mukubal (a Kaballist) who was going from community to community. He had plenty of time with the Mekubal and discussed various issues. He also mentioned this little incident. Later, while they were still in the car, it was quite and the Rabbi was thinking. Then the Rabbi said, “if you ever see that weird man again, give him another $180″.
          It seemed that the Rabbi was implying that if he would have taken the route downtown at that moment, he would have had devastating results. The “unfortunate” and not lucrative diversion saved him from hardship. Was the Rabbi trying to make him feel better by suggesting the alternative? It didn’t seem like it . Perhaps the Mekubal knows something we don’t know. We can all be skeptical about a kabalist. Still, one has to believe that everything is from G-d. And this is true no matter who tells it to you.
          G-d said to slaughter and eat the animals that the Egyptians called God. The Holy One said “nothing will happen to you”. Klal Yisroel did it anyways, even though it made no sense. This is belief.
          G-d said to jump into the waters when the Egyptians were chasing after the Jews. Nachshon jumped in because he believed. The waters split. Did it make sense? NO. That is belief.
          One has to have faith. Many unexplained occurrences can happen throughout the course of the day. New York is a colorful place with a lot of interesting characters. One has to believe that everything is from G-d!!