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Haggadah: Karpas Part One

Transcribed by Anna Beller: We are now up to Urchatz and Karpas: you wash your hands and you eat the vegetable.  I want to tell you what the Ishpotzer says, and what Rav Kook says. The Ishpotzer is less complex so we will begin with this.


The Ari says, in an abstract way, vegetables represent the first smallness of the Mother, a tree, on the other hand,  indicates the greatness of the Original Light. What does this mean? A tree grows on its own, it doesn’t need to be replanted every year, it will produce fruit from the first time. You plant the tree, its going to continue to produce fruit. In fact, halachically why do you need to say adama on a banana? Because the tree needs to be replanted every year. It’s the whole debate about pineapples if you need to say haetz. The whole essence of the tree in halacha is that it thrives all the time when its planted. So the tree represents the original light, its still there and continues to produce something for you and even if you’re not nurturing it one year, and its not raining and doesn’t produce one year, it will produce the next year.

But a vegetable is not like that. A vegetable you need to replant it every year. When it dies, it’s dead.  So therefore, it says like this, a tree when it receives its nurturing its rain its going to continue to thrive on it’s original plant. So that’s what it means when the Ari says that a tree represents the original light of creation, once its there you can continue to live on it.

So too. the Ishbitzer says, sanctity that a person acquires through learning Torah; it’s there forever, however there are times that a person has a wound in his heart and has a spiritual lacking so he needs to be helped in that specific area or he’s going to make changes. So as he makes changes different things need to be nurtured, but the basic Torah that he learned is going to give him what he needs, sometimes it needs to be redirected, but it will continue to sustain him.

And he says,  for example wine, someone’s depressed and you drink wine it’ll make you happy, someone’s depressed he can sing happy songs and it’ll make them happy. In general when you drink wine and you sing and it loosens you up a little bit. But there are times when you drink wine and BOOM you get more depressed and times when you sing and it doesn’t give you any pleasure at all.

So too in the service of Hashem there are many many changes. When a person is changing and there are new lacking in his heart, he needs God to fill in that little part. But essentially he’s thriving on what was originally planted there. There are two things of the tree, its original planting and its need of nurturing, it’s watering , cared for. But even though it needs to be cared for and one year you don’t care for it and doesn’t produce fruit but the next one you do care for it it will produce fruit then you don’t need to plant it means that’s its original essence its still there. A human being who learns Torah; it’s there, yes there are times, lets say I’m not davening well, I wont be able to use the Torah to grow. But if I’m filling in the void of the Torah so I’ll be able to use it to grow, that’s like a tree.

If I’m having trouble in one part of me, God needs to give me a different kind of nurturing so I can use the Torah I already learned to produce fruit. If I drink wine I’ll be happier, but if I’m depressed the same wine will make me more depressed. So at different times I need different things but it doesn’t mean that the original essence has changed. The Torah that you learned is still there. The tree represents the old light, meaning the light that came in the oldest moment, which is the moment of when the world was created. Now we understand fruit.

To be continued…

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