Thursday, April 05, 2007

Seder Highlight #2

Last year i included my favorite new thing learned in the seder: it concerned orgies and afikoman.

Well, this year I learned several new things. Sadly, this years tidbit is less racy, but fortunately it has significantly more ideological implications.

One of our friends, Rabbi Lenny Gordon, offered the following story:
Rabbi Israel Salanter [the major figure in the mussar movement] was in the process of giving a shiur on the issues of pesach kashrut to his students as they were about to set out to certify the kashrut of the all the area matzah factories.

The students asked their teacher, "Rabbi, what should we be especially careful to look for as we certify the factories? Should we pay special attention to the 18 minutes? Perhaps the water flour interaction? The completeness and proper patter of the perforation? What should we be especially careful of?"

R. Salanter responded: "Be most careful that the women who knead the dough in the bakery are not overly troubled and pushed around so that they are pained, these women are poor and widowed."
Lenny paraphrased the story from the Hebrew found on page five of Noam Zion's Halaylah Hazeh.

This passage is in keeping with a broader Mussar concern that people ought to be more concerned with how people behave towards others.

I was moved enough by this passage that I am planning to learn more about Salanter and Mussar in general. I am hopeful that this turns out better than the time I chose to follow up on a moving speech and delved deeper into Winston Churchill (ick).

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