Rabbi Chaim Zwick
Hopefully you have not gone through Pesach – but rather grown through Pesach. It is important to keep in mind that we have to take the levels we gained on Pesach with us as we progress through Sefira and onto Shavous.
By the way, what are those levels we gained on Pesach? I commonly ask people, what is the holiest day of the year? I typically get a variety of responses but most people seem to say Yom Kippur. Not a bad guess, but the truth is according to the Ariezal, Shabbos is the holiest day of the year. However, the Ariezal brings down that the night of Pesach is the holiest night of the year even greater than the night of Yom Kippur or Shabbos.
Another question that needs to be asked is when does Pesach end? People frequently answer, after the 8 days of Pesach. However, the Rashash brings down in the name of the Ariezal, that Pesach ends on Shavous. He continues to explain that Pesach, Sefira and Shavous, are really different aspects of one long Yom Tov.
What are these different aspects and how do they relate to each other?
The Zohar expounds on this concept in Parshas Vayikra where the Rashbi elucidates a 3- tiered growth model in the service of Hashem.
Level 1: K’Avadim: The relationship between a slave and his master, representing Yiras Hashem (awe or respect). This level requires mastery of Halachah, taking on the yoke of Torah and acquiring the basic fundamentals required of an observant Jew.
Level 2: K’Banim: A father – son relationship, representing Ahavas Hashem – serving Hashem with love and joy.
Level 3: Bas Zug: A husband – wife relationship, representing unity & oneness. This level represents the merging of opposites and is the loftiest level.
We find these same 3 levels represented in many places throughout the Torah. The Haggadah says in the name of Rav Gamliel, to fulfill our obligation a person has to recite Pesach, Matzah & Marror. The obvious question is, what is so fundamental and essential about these 3 aspects of the Sedar that if they are not mentioned a person does not fulfill his obligation.
Now that we understand the Zohar’s 3- tiered growth model of fear, love and unity, the answer is quite clear. Marror represents the bitter enslavement, and symbolizes the first level – K’Avadim. The Korban Pesach is when Hashem skipped over our houses to smite the Egyptian children, symbolizing the second level K’Banim. Lastly, Matzah represents the third and highest level of Bas Zug – symbolizing oneness with our creator.
We find another representation of this model in our Avos – Avraham, Yitchak and Yaakov. Yitzchak representing Yirhas Hashem, Avraham representing Ahavas Hashem, and Yaakov representing Devaykus to Hashem. On a Kabbalistic level the Sefirot of Nahea (Netzach, Hod, Yissod) representing Yirhas Hashem. Chagas (Chesed, Gevurah, Tifferes) representing Ahavas Hashem. Chabad (Chochma, Binah, Dass) representing Devaykus to Hashem.
With this knowledge, we can better understand the fundamental relationship between Pesach, Sefira and Shavous, how they are really 3 different facets to one greater YomTov and why it is of paramount importance to take the Kedusha of Pesach with us in our journey towards Shavous.
As the Rashash explains on Pesach we reach the first level of K’Avadim – Yiras Hashem. At Kriyas Yam Suf we reach the second level K’Banim – Ahavas Hashem. And at Shavous we will reach the third and exalted level Bas Zug – Devaykus with our creator.
These three Yom Tovim when approached with the proper intentions and attitude represent a Koma Shelama – a unified whole, and can bring a person to the highest levels.