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The secret of Rav Pinkus: an extraordinary Passover eve

Published on Wednesday April 7th, 2021

The gaon HaRav Shimshon Pinkus was known for his burning love for the Torah. The flame that characterized his speeches, in which he awakened the Jews to Torah and Divine service, turned into hot lava when he performed the Mitzvot. Every Mitzvah, whether between man and his fellow man or between man and God, took on an extraordinary meaning to him; he devoted himself to it with all his strength and spared no effort to perform it to perfection.

Rabbi Shimshon dedicated an important part of his life to prayer, defined by our Sages (Berachos 6b) as "matters which stand in the height rum of the world but are despised by men". As a result, it is not surprising that a large part of his speeches was devoted to strengthening this particular issue, and he even wrote a booklet, Shearim B'Tefillah (Gates of Prayer), on this subject.

On the eve of every Passover, one could particularly witness his level: he carried out the preparations for the holiday with unparalleled recollection and seriousness, down to the smallest details.

It is highly symbolic that even his tragic death took place on the eve of Bedikat Chametz, on his return from a Chizuk trip in Torah institutions, which he had taken upon himself, as he always did, in addition to acts of Chesed and preparations for the Passover holiday.

His secret

For years, many tried to break through his secret: how had he managed to elevate himself to such heights and where did his spiritual ascension begin? But he, in his great humility, would not talk about himself, up until this rare moment when he decided to confide in relatives and explained in these words:

"When I was a student at the Brisk yeshiva, I lived in an apartment that I shared with friends. As my parents lived abroad, I did not return home for Passover, and on the night of Bedikat Chametz, I remained alone in the apartment: it was my responsibility to perform the Mitzvah of Bedikat Chametz in the whole apartment.

The apartment was big and quite neglected so that the checking process went on late into the night. For several hours, I went to great lengths to check room after room; it demanded great effort to move furniture that prevented me from checking, and many other things delayed me. It was at least midnight when I finished the search. I collapsed on a chair, worn out, exhausted, but filled with a sense of content.

But suddenly, a thought disturbed me; I remembered there was an attic, common to all the residents of the building. All residents were bound to proper checking, but I knew that if I did not do it, no one would.

An internal battle was raging within me: on the one hand, I was totally exhausted, and I knew that I had largely fulfilled my Hilchatic duty, far beyond what was required of me, but on the other hand I knew that these thoughts came from physical fatigue and that according to strict law, I had to check the attic.

After several minutes of hesitation, I made the decision: I will not give in! I decided to perform the Mitzvah in its entirety, with Messirus Nefesh (self-sacrifice), dedicating myself to it with all my soul, and immediately I climbed up to the attic with the last of my strength. When I opened the rickety door and turned on the light, I was stunned by the vision that was before my eyes: obviously, this attic had not been cleaned in years. The floor was covered with a thick layer of dust, and in each corner, items were piled up willy-nilly.

"Everyone shall clean the rooms where he lives before the Bedika" – I remembered this explicit Halacha from the Shulchan Aruch, but the exhaustion that affected my whole body almost made me give up.

Then I remembered that I had made the decision to perform the Mitzvah with Messirus Nefesh, no matter what! So, just as if I had not been devoting myself to exhausting labor for several hours, I gathered my last strength, filled a pail of water and began working.

A stranger passing by the attic at that time would have been amazed to see this strange scene: an American yeshiva bachur, soaked in mud and clay, busy cleaning up a place that had barely been trampled by man, and all this after midnight the night before Passover…

When the day was dawning, I had eventually finished checking there was no Chametz, my body trembling from the tremendous effort provided and the intense fatigue, The sun rose. In the morning after Tefila, I hoped I could rest a little, but the Mitzvot of the day, like Srefat Chametz (burning the remains of Chametz), etc. made me give up my rest, despite the immense fatigue I felt.

Before the evening prayer preceding the Seder, I thought, discouraged: "What kind of Seder will I have now that I am exhausted with fatigue? Not to mention the four cups of wine that I’ll have to drink..." I was about to pray with mixed feelings, but as soon as I started praying, I forgot everything; a kind of spirit of holiness wrapped me up, and a sweet feeling that I had never felt before filled all my senses.

This particular feeling of elevation also enveloped me at the beginning of the Seder, and, miraculously, I felt absolutely no fatigue. I felt I didn’t want to lose a single moment of that holy night. I read the Haggadah with an elevated spirit, my heart was overflowing with joy while I was pronouncing the words of the Haggadah, which had taken such an intense and new flavor!

I performed the other Mitzvot of that night, such as eating Matzah and Maror and drinking the four cups of wine with an unusual spiritual elevation. Undaunted by fatigue, I felt with all my being that I was ready to sacrifice my life for accomplishing Mitzvot.

I became a different person! I felt a genuine closeness to Hashem, and a great light enveloped me through the entire Seder, until after the time of Chatsot (Jewish midnight). Surprisingly, even after the end of the Seder, I could not go to bed, I remained awake all night and I devoted myself to the story of the Exodus from Egypt until morning.

I was astonished to find that the state of spiritual elevation I had experienced during the night of the Seder continued the day after, on Yom Tov, and did not leave me during the days of Chol Ha’moed. I made the most of these days and dedicated myself assiduously to Torah and prayer. I can say that on this Passover holiday, I devoted myself to nothing but getting closer to God.

That year, the seventh day of Passover was the day before Shabbos, and during the Mincha prayer of the seventh day of Passover, I had tears in my eyes. I feared very much that this spirit of holiness would leave me with the end of Passover when Shabbos would come. I strengthened myself with the thought that Shabbos is even holier than the Yom Tov that preceded it, and decided to strive for continued spiritual elevation, hoping to continue to receive help from above in this domain.

This same Shabbos, I felt the sublime taste of the holy Shabbos, and for the first time, I perceived the essence of Kedusha (holiness).

And since then, I started rising and rising... if I have anything of my own today, it all comes from the power of a Mitzvah of our Sages, the Mitzvah of Bedikat Chametz, which I clung to with all my might!"

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box Account

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