There is so much for which all of us feel immensely thankful to Reb Shlomo for. Since we are approaching Pesach I will just very briefly describe two unique customs of his that continue to enrich all my Seders.
The beautiful matzah moments I remember with Reb Shlomo, changed my whole perspective on even how to hand a piece of matzah to others or the way it is eaten. How he would lovingly give everyone a piece of Matzah for afikoman with the most uniquely relevant blessings for them and the heartfelt kavanah that was evident on his face when he ate the matzah; revealed a deep spirituality in moments that unfortunately are often performed in very rote and technical ways.
The other beautiful memory that comes up for me was the way he went out to greet Eliyahu Hanavi rather than the usual custom of merely opening the door. The beautifully futuristic Torah teachings he said then along with deeply inspirational stories he would tell & the joyous singing and dancing that accompanied this ritual have left indelible impressions on my soul.
I have much more to say about the way he conducted both of these rituals and many other unique Seder rituals that he initiated. G-d willing in the near future we should all be able to share these beautiful memories and consciousness with each other and please G-d the larger world as well. I encourage anyone on this list to share memories or further knowledge they have on these rituals or any other unique Passover customs of Reb Shlomo.
I want to share two beautiful teachings that Reb Shlomo would often relate before he began the prayer welcoming Eliyahu Hanavi “Pour your rath out upon the nations that don’t recognize you” (Shefoch Chamutcha). He said the hippalach in the 60’s asked him if after we experience the loftiness of the Seder & we go out to greet Elijah the prophet, is this prayer the best we can offer, namely our hope that God pours out his wrath upon nations of the world? Reb Shlomo answerd them that he saw a commentary from the Sar Shalom (Master of peace) the Belzer Rebbe that at this high point of the Seder we are really saying to G-d if there is some fixing the nations of the world need please dont make us do it, G-d, you do it yourself. So you pour “your” wrath out. Reb Shlomo added that the Hebrew word for wrath Chamatchu according to the Slonomer Rebbe is also related to the Hebrew word Cham which means warmth. We are praying that G-d unleashes a spiritual warmth upon all the nations of the world that will help repair all the ill feelings that nations and people of the world often have towards one another.
So welcoming Eliyahu Hanavi the great futuristic Messenger who will reveal the coming of redemption, really becomes an exercise of converting painful angry emotions into warm in embracing experiences that truly ready the world for redemption. After experiencing the liberating and optimistic messages of the Seder we attempt to sever ourselves from angry missions and seek to use their heated emotions in ways that spread warmth and love in the world.
Reb Shlomo, through interpreting the depth and best of Jewish spirituality, converted ideas that can easily be misunderstood as the lowest of expressions into what are really intended to be the highest of expressions. May we all be blessed in our own holy work to convert all that appears to us in its lowest forms into its highest restorations.
The afikoman ritual is the last food eaten at the Seder and the prayer greeting Elijah the prophet, which is recited minutes later after the Grace blessings (benching), marks the beginning of the final portion of the Seder. I think Reb Shlomo’s beautiful practices and teachings on these two concluding rituals of the Seder, perhaps reminds us that its great takeaway lesson for us is that in order to free ourselves from anger we must practice the remedy of finding the blessings in each other. That point is highlighted by all the prayers that follow the Elijah the prophet ritual which consist of songs of blessings and praises. Their recitation symbolize the great futuristic redemption. May we all be blessed to soon live in a world where anger is conquered by blessings. Even if such hopes may seem far-fetched in the world we live in today the Seder seems to be beckoning us to never give up on this higher calling and hopeful prayer to find true redemption.
Wishing everybody a happy, healthy, transformative and highest Pesach.