Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Pesach hotels

As the ads for Pesach hotels have already started appearing in Jewish publications and the parshios we're reading touch on the original Pesach story, I thought it's time to share this little piece from  the introduction of Nor the Moon by Night by Devora Gliksman Feldheim 1997 pp. xx-xxi

On a fundraisng trip for the yeshiva, R' Shliomele visited R' Shimon Wolf Rotschild, of the wealthy and famous Rotschild family. R' Shimon Wolf showed R; Shloimele around his beautiful estate, finally pausing beside a house built of the main house.

  "And this," R' Shimon Wolf gestured proudly, "this is  my Pesach house. I built it jut to be used on Pesach. The rest of the year it is kept locked."

R' Shloimele just shrugged his shoulders. R' Shimon wondered why he wasn't impressed.
R' Shloimele explained that his holy grandfather -- the Sanzer Rav - though not a wealthy man would have spent anything any amount of money to perform a mitzvah properly. Had he felt hat keeping Pesach properly necessitated building a separate house, he would have done so. Therefore, if he feels he needs it, why shouldn't Baron Rothschild?"

Thinking on the matter further, R' Shloimele saw a downside to a Pesach house:
"The gemara says that chumetz can be interpreted as to the yetzer hu'reh. Our searching for chumetz and destroying it is a mushol for searching out and destroying the  yetzer hu'reh, thereby doing teshivah.  We know that the only way to do complete teshivah is to put ourselves again in the same situation where we have done an aveirah and, when the opportunity presents itself, not repeat that aveirah. Therefore, it is only fitting that the house where had eaten chumetz be cleaned out and used for mitzvos -- the mitzvos we perform at the seider, the mitzvos we perform during Pesach. having a separate house set aside for Pesach does not accomplish that purpose."





7 comments:

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Very nice, and the comparison of chametz to the yetzer hara is certainly important, but I wonder if the the metaphor should be taken that far.

Socialism destroys society. As the Rambam says, לולי המשתגעים נשאר העולם חרב. If not for the super wealthy, all the Torah we have now could not exist. And to expect them to live lives of mistapeik be'mu'at is not realistic. They need to dream of building castles, and they associate with others that live like that. Not even one in one hundred of the super rich lives a mussardikeh life. And the fact is that their million dollar checks are the mainstay of all the mosdos that exist, not the average person that gives as much as he can. They're 100% entitled to their luxuries. That's how it is, that's how it always will be.

Ariella Brown said...

Sorry for the delay in showing your comment, Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg I only checked on what awaits moderation now.
The mussar there was not so much to eschew luxury. He wasn't critical of Rotschild's riches, only of the idea that he was having a better Pesach by having a Pesach house.
But I'll let Chaim comment on the other aspect.

chaim b. said...

B - there is a trickle down effect from the super rich to all others. The poor share the same dreams of castles and other luxuries; they just don't have the funds to carry it off, so instead they borrow or live beyond their means in debt to achieve the same effect. "Ad shetispalel she'yikanes torah l'toch gufo yispallel she'lo tikanes ma'adanim l'toch gufo." It doesn't mean socialism -- Rebbi had a fortune of wealth, but he was also able to hold up his fingers and say he was not ne'heneh from olam ha'zeh. Is it an unrealistic ideal? Maybe, but what's mussar for if not to remind us of the ideals to which we should aspire?

Ariella Brown said...

One more point on the current extent of consumerism, it makes the standards escalate for everyone, including those who can't afford it. That leads to the absurd position described here: http://orthonomics.blogspot.com/2008/11/hachnasat-bar-mitzvah-bochur-friend.html

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Chaim, I understand that a baal mussar should avoid mosros. I just don't think this is something we can expect from the vast majority of people. I think the biggest problem is not the extravagance, it's the overreaching, the feeling of resentment and entitlement that has such terrible consequences. That being the case, it's not the fault of the rich, it's the fault of the envious JAPs that resent that others have what they don't have and try to keep up with them.

What would you say to an extravagance that everyone does? It wouldn't be an extravagance. In their circles, that's the way it is.

And finally, I admit a personal flaw, that I can be jealous of the freedom and power and abilities of the super rich. I deal with it not by teaching myself mussar. My strategy is to tell myself (as the Mesilas Yesharim says) that the same way there are inequities in this world, with some people living a beautiful and lush and tranquil and powerful life, while others suffer and groan and worry with every breath, that's the way it's going to be in Olam Haba, too. The masmidim, the baalei tzedaka be'gufam, the ma'aminim, are going to have beautiful mansions with swimming pools in the basement, and everyone will fawn and tug their forelocks when they stroll by, while the average person is going to just survive on the dregs of his few mitzvos and his being a member of klal yisrael. If you don't like it in this world, you're really going to hate it later. So do something with your life before it's too late.

Ariella Brown said...

"If you don't like it in this world, you're really going to hate it later. So do something with your life before it's too late." Barzilai, Rabbi Mansour spoke about that very effectively.

You touch on something here, though, which is the general trend toward escalation of consumerism that I find very disturbing. It wouldn't necessarily be a problem if all frum Jews are rich (except for the lack of tznius inherent in conspicuous consumption) but it is a serious problem when everyone is expected to shell out thousands of dollars per child for sleepaway camp on top of thousands for bar/bat mitzvahs when they already can't come up with what they owe yeshivas for tuition. This is then compounded by the obligation (now considered normal) of extending support to one's SIL for at least 5 years. Again, even people who have no money to spare pledge over $10K a year (on top of shadchanus and wedding costs) in order to do what everyone else does. And if they don't, they can forget about getting a shidduch.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Shidduch pressure is awful especially if you're looking for someone that's going to learn for a few years. . But it can be done without impoverishing yourself. I've seen it happen. It's not easy though.