Keeping Up with the Stein’s

(Being as we are less than two weeks away from Passover, each week we will have a short dvar Torah on Passover and another on the weekly Torah reading. Keeping Up with the Stein’s Passover is the holiday of freedom and Matzah is known as the bread of povertylechem oni.  If it has eggs or fruit juice or anything else to augment the taste it is disqualified as matzah.  It’s just flour and water.  In that way it is similar to a poor person who has no wealth or possessions, it’s just him and his Creator.  The Maharal of Prague (1520-1609) asks what does poverty have to do with freedom?  Wealth is a positive attribute.  We respect wealthy people because the Almighty has chosen to entrust them with wealth.  However, if somebody is dependent on wealth and possessions to define himself, that’s not so positive.  How does one know if he defines himself by wealth? If an affluent person is in a situation where no one knows that he is wealthy and because of this he has no self-esteem or self-respect that means that he is defining himself by his wealth.  That’s a pity.  You are what you are and not what you possess.  To be dependent on wealth or possessions is a lack of freedom.    Friends are important, even crucial but if our lives are dictated by what others think of us, if we make decisions based solely on how it looks to others, we are lacking.  For example, there are people who make Bar/Bat Mitzvot and weddings that are far beyond their means only because the neighbors made a lavish and expensive affair and they think, “how could I not keep up with the Stein’s?”   To be dependent on what others think is a lack of freedom. A slave is totally dependent on his master.  A free person should be dependent neither on wealth nor what others think.  It should be just him and his conscience (Creator).  A free person is similar to a poor person in one respect.  Just as a poor person has no possessions or wealth on which to be dependent, so too, a free person is not dependent on his possessions, wealth or what other people think.  He is free to do what he knows to be right.  May we, together with our Jewish brothers and sisters, be worthy of leaving behind the “Egypt” (enslavement) in our lives and attaining real freedom.