Pesach, matza, and Yitro, the father in law of Moses
BS"D Got my matzah, G-d is in His heaven and all is right in the world. And I got it with ease this time, shalva. I get special matzah from Jerusalem, from Wechelstein matza bakery, the classic Yerushalmi matza bakery. And it has been difficult to get because the boxes are big and I cannot take them on the bus and I do not have a car. I once paid 600 shekels to take a taxi back to Tzfat from Jerusalem to bring the matzot. But for the past four years, Tzfat's only woman Rosh HaYeshiva, Judy Paikin, has picked up my matza and brought them back to Tzfat. She is a professional driver and a good one. But this year instead of my calling her, she called me and asked me if I wanted her to pick up my matzot. It turns out that she has come to look forward to going to that holy matza bakery to pick up the matzot as a pre-Passover ritual, and she loves it.
The picture and scene are difficult to describe. You have to go behind an old building near the Russian Compound in Jerusalem, and you will see an pile of olive wood, as tall as Og of Bashan, to fire the matza ovens. Next to the olive wood pile is a narrow door leading into a long, narrow hallway that opens onto the big room with the shiny stainless steel tables where around twenty five kollel men are rolling the lumps of matzo dough thin, men with white shirts and aprons, singing Yerushalmi songs as they work. At regular intervals the supervising rabbi calls out, "L'shem matzos mitzvah," the verbal declaration that these matzot are being made for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzvah from the holy Torah of eating matzot during the holiday of Pesach, particularly at the Pesach Seder. That first bite of matza at the Seder contains the spiritual source of all the mitzvot we do during the coming year. So it is worthwhile to get mehuder shmura matzot, like the ones I am describing, matzot from wheat that was guarded against water touching it from the moment it was harvested until it was eaten to fulfill the mitzvah d’orayta, from the Torah. In Israel it is easy to get shmura matza, the big round hand made ones. In New York and Los Angeles and Miami and Chicago and other cities with a sizeable Jewish community and wherever there is a Chabad House. you can get genuine mehudar shmura matza. Chabad matzot are mehadrin min hamehadrin. Compared to Wechelstein's, in my opinion, Chabad matzot taste like asbestos shingles, but that's just me. My son, Yosef, prefers them.
Shmura matza is expensive. The kind I get, because they are extra thin, and come from where they come from, cost extra. Are you ready? $37.00 a pound. And there are matzot way more expensive than that. But it is an investment in your soul and the whole world's soul. When you take that first bite of matza to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matza on Seder night and you know even a drop of what you are accomplishing by saying both blessings, on the matzah as bread, "hamotzi lechem min haaretz," and to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzo at the Seder. Of course, the blessing "vitzivanu l'achilat matza," can only be said by a Jew by birth or conversion, but a Ger can certainly perform the mitzvah of eating matzo during Passover and observing Pesach to the fullest. But he or she cannot say the bracha, asher kiddishanu b’mitzvotav, Who has sanctified us an commanded us to eat matza, because only the Jew is commanded to eat matzo on Pesach. But remember, saying the bracha is a rabbinic injunction. It does not come from the Torah. One fulfills the mitzvah 100% without the bracha. However, when you say that bracha and mention Hashem's Name and say it with love and devotion, and then bite into that matza, you have fulfilled the reason for the Creation.
For many years now, I have been solidly in the camp of the Ger, and I still am. Any non-Jew who wants the Torah and the Giver of the Torah, our Father which art in heaven, and only Him, Hashem Echad, One without a second, does not have to convert. If his or her yearning is for Torah and mitzvoth alone, he can fulfill his purpose in this world, and have a rich and beautiful life and be good with G-d as a righteous Gentile, a Noahide Ger, a Ger in the gate, a Nilveh, take your pick of titles, but they all lead to spiritual riches and a life of blessings. Choose G-d and you get good because He is good and does good, Hatov u'Metiv.
That being said, when I made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Nabi Shuweib, who is Yitro (Jethro), the father in law of Moses, I came away from the very powerful experience thinking that Yitro did a great thing by not staying with the Jews and by returning to Midian to bring his family to believe in Hashem. His descendants, the Kenites were spectacularly great people, unique, incomparable, and their greatness stems from Yitro. If the Kenites had been around in the sixties instead of the Beatles, they surely would have brought Mashiach. Nevertheless, what Yitro might have accomplished for G-d and Israel and the Torah if he had petitioned Hashem to remove the last kelipa, kelipat nogah, and become actually holy, by converting, what might he have accomplished then? Remember, how great he was. Moses attributed all of his own greatness to his father in law. Yitro alone remembered to bless Hashem for all the miracles He did for Israel, taking them out of Egyptian slavery and signing a covenant with them on Mount Sinai. Only Yitro remembered to bless Hashem for all He did for His people. Yitro’s soul had the power to turn evil into good. Yitro could go where most tzadikim are not permitted to go. The Ari taught that Yitro was a spark of the soul of Cain, and so were the Levites, who, when the Third Temple is built and the sin of Cain and Abel has been perfectly and eternally rectified, then the Levites will be the Cohanim and the Cohanim will be the Leviim. But do not understand this wrong. A Levite can never be a Cohen and a Cohen can never be a non-Cohen Levite (Cohanim are from the tribe of Levite, hence they are special Levites). If a Levite performs the service of a Cohen in the Holy Temple, he is liable for the death penalty. And it is a matter of dispute whether the reverse is true, if the Cohen does the Levites job, he may receive some kind of demotion, but certainly not the death penalty because a Cohen is a Levite, but a Levite is not a Cohen.
So what Cohen becoming Levite and vice versa means is that the Levite, who are from Cain the firstborn, and the Cohanim who are from Abel, the younger, will switch levels and the Levite will be the chosen of the two through his singing in the Temple which brings people to ruach hakodesh and pure nevua, prophecy, and through the secret compounding of the spices of the Temple incense, which was known only to the Levite family of Bet Avtinas, and through the Levitical cities of refuge, the place of Torah, the Levites would assume their true role as the righteous firstborn, and the teachers of all Israel, because in the Third Temple, the Shir Leviim will be three times greater than it was before, and the Temple incense, which is equal to all the other sacrifices combined, will become six times greater than ever before, and only the Levitical family of Bet Avtinas knows the secret of how to compound the spices. And the Torah they will teach is Torat HaMashiach. The Cohanim will be the judges, but the Levites will be the shepherds and guardians of Israel.
Speaking of Yitro, Where is Yitro's court system? It is mentioned twice in the Torah, in Parshat Yitro and in Parshat Dvarim, the first parsha of the Book of Deuteronomy. And Yitro’s court system is the only court system that the Torah mentions, and it does not resemble the rabbinic court system one bit. In the Torah, it is the Cohanim who are the court. According to the Torah, the Sanhedrin is one man alone, the Shofet, presumably the king. We have a binyan av in Moses as it says in Exodus 18:22, “and every great matter they shall bring to you.” He alone was the Supreme Court. The 71 man Sanhedrin is a Second Temple creation based on the structure of the Anshei Knesset HaGadola, a self-instituted body of Torah scholars and judges, who modeled themselves after the 70 Elders who received the spirit of Moses, but they were not the same at all. The Shiviim Zekainim were leaders and shepherds with the ruach of Moses, the true smicha, which is the knowledge of Maaseh Merkava, the Workings of the Chariot. It has nothing to do with the laws of taking blood out of meat, chas v’shalom…poo poo poo, kishuf. The only true smicha today is conferred by Eliyahu HaNavi, zachur latov, and I will guarantee you that few rabbis have it.
We are living with Prince John while Richard is fighting the crusades. That is the moshol in tumah. Transpose it from impurity to purity and holiness, and you see the truth of our Talmudic tradition. It is 60% politics. All religion is politics. Orthodox Judaism is no exception. Orthodox Judaism, Rabbinic Judaism, is 40% Torah.
We have to religiously dump religion. To be religious is something entirely different than observing a religion. Religious is a matter of searching for G-d. Religion is a matter of manipulating people who are not as clever as you. Yitro made the non-political choice by returning to Midian as a Ger, and not a Jew, but I cannot help wonder what this giant could have accomplished with a full revelation of his Yechida sh'b'Nefesh, the actual holiness of his soul. When a genius non-politician enters politics, his potential for accomplishment is unlimited unless he becomes corrupt. Had Yitro become a Jew and realized his spiritual potential (who know what Hashem would have bestowed upon him and his progeny?), with his knowledge of politics and his purity of spirit, he could have manipulated the entire world into serving Hashem in righteousness.
And I will tell you this, at the tomb of Yitro, it is strained and uncomfortable although profoundly spiritual for a Jew to be there. It is entirely in the hands of the Druzim, a fine people who observe the Seven Laws of Noah according to their Sheich, because Moses commanded it on Sinai. These people are surely the descendants of the Kenites. Go look it up on Wikipedia. But it is not haimish for a Jew, which means an aspect of the Nefesh Elokit, the G-dly Soul, is covered up.
Taking all those factors into account, and holding up Yitro as a dugma, a role model for the righteous Gentile, I believe that conversion to become a Jew is the supreme accomplishment. However, it should be like the Pesach matza, made for the sake of Heaven with joy. But if one does not feel it, really wants to have the spiritual riches of a Jew without becoming a Jew, then Ger is the highest path there is. And then the Ger becomes the Levite, the Elder in the family of man. And the only future for Ger is in Levitical Judaism, where Ger is in the essence.
Moving on -- Happy pre-Pesach preparations. It is a time of great accomplishment, when the dormant begins to bud and bloom. This is also the time when spider mites come to life to suck the juices out of every leaf, and it is the time when Monsanto and Tropicana start dumping tons of pesticides into our beautiful world because their satanic greed, proving the Torah is right for saying that the nature of man from his youth is evil. But every man can convert his evil inclination to good. How? The starting point is by eating matzo on Pesach. Eating matzo and having a sumptuous feast as commanded by G-d on Seder night is our testimony to freedom. And freedom is more precious than anything else on earth, and I place perfect health in the category of freedom. Only G-d can grant it. There can be no true accomplishment without a foundation of freedom. That is why communism fails everywhere and the chief cause of tyranny and human suffering. The more corporate science corrupts our world, the more malignant it will become. May Hashem protect us from theoretical physicists and charismatic atheists.