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Dvar Torah - Tzav

When it rains, it pours." The aphorism famously means that when one event requiring a great deal of attention occurs, there will almost inevitably be others as well. When something puts us under a lot of pressure, other things will, too.

The period starting a couple of weeks before Purim lives up to this maxim. It is an incredibly packed time in our calendar. Adar features Purim and is immediately followed by Nissan and Pesach. The Gemara explains that these two hectic holidays are only a month apart because "it is preferable to put a redemption near a redemption.

"Indeed, the messages of Purim and Pesach are closely related. Purim is about how Hashem saved us from certain destruction at the hands of our enemies. However, he only did so after we recommitted to the Torah. The Gemara explains that the Jews "reaffirmed what they have already accepted" on themselves and upon their children, to maintiain the Torah and to strengthen their Jewish identity. Similarly, Pesach celebrates Hashem taking us out of Egypt. However, there too, it followed our own actions in committing to Him before He took us into freedom, we first had to assert our freedom by sacrificing the Pesach lamb (an Egyptian god) in the most public way possible. Pesach and Purim both represent the return of Jews to their roots in response to an external threat.

However, because Pesach and Purim are so close together, it is easy to forget about the important spiritual messages of this time in our calendar. As we prepare our Purim parties and Seders, we don't always take time to prepare spiritually. The pressure of events makes us prioritise the physical meals, costumes, and mechanical acts of observance. However, this risks emptying the days of their content, turning them into the opposite of what Hashem intended for them.

As such, there are two halachot that kick in on Purim itself to prepare for Pesach. The first is to begin learning the halachot of Pesach. While we celebrate Pesach every year, we don't necessarily remember all the many nuances involved in the Seder and the chag. There are a lot of rules. If we revise them now, we can both keep them better and find more meaning in them.

The second is "Kimcha DePischa," or "the flour of Pesach”. We must all donate money to those who cannot afford Pesach. As we are all aware, Pesach is a costly holiday. The food is exorbitant, and for many in the community, it is simply too much. Those of us who can support them and make Pesach a pleasurable experience instead of torturous. Pesach is about high-minded ideas of freedom and our obligations to G-d. However, the highest mark of freedom is our ability to show concern for each other. A slave must hoard food in case he isn't fed tomorrow. A free man can afford to be more generous.

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