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Passover 2019

Rabbi Pincus Tells How He Merited to Come Close to God

If there's anything in me today it's all from one rabbinic commandment, checking for Chametz, (leavening) which I did to the highest degree with self-sacrifice

| 21.03.17 | 15:19
Rabbi Pincus Tells How He Merited to Come Close to God
Rabbi Shimshon Pincus of blessed memory passed away 15 years ago and he was well-known for the love of God that burned in his heart. This fire characterized all his speeches in which he would kindle the hearts of Jews to learn Torah and serve God. This love burned even brighter every time he would do any mitzvah whether between man and man or between man and G-d. If he accepted something upon himself he went all the way with it and didn't spare any effort to fulfill it properly.

For many years people wanted to learn the secret how he merited the great heights that he reached in serving G-d? Where did he start from and how did a young American boy grow up to be an elevated person with real closeness to God?

Rabbi Pincus in his humility would never talk about himself and evaded the question. In a rare moment he explained the following to his family and friends. He actually wrote this story in an introduction to his Haggadah of Passover Tiferet Shimshon.

When I was a student in the Brisk Yeshiva I lived in an apartment with a few roommates. Since I was from out of Israel and I did not return home for Passover the situation was that I had to check my own apartment by myself and I was responsible for the whole apartment.

The apartment was big, old and neglected so checking it for Chametz went late into the night. I worked for room to room it took great effort moving obsticles preventing me from checking. There were many other things that made the checking difficult. Finally I finished checking the apartment close to midnight. I collapsed on the chair feeling worn-out but full of satisfaction.

Just then another thought disturbed my rest. I remembered that there's a joint attic that belongs to the whole building and in reality everyone was responsible to check it. But I knew that if I don't check it now, no one else is going to do it.

Inside my heart a battle was raging. On one hand I was worn out and tired and I knew that I did above and beyond my obligation. On the other hand I knew that these thoughts were based on physical tiredness and really the best thing for me to do would be to go up and check the attic.

After a few minutes of internal debate I decided I'm not giving in. I decided to do the Mitzvah totally in the most complete manner with self-sacrifice. I climbed up with the last of my strength into the attic. When I open the old door and turned on the light I was shocked by what I saw. It was obvious that no one cleaned here for years if at all! The floor was covered with a thick layer of dust and in every corner there were items strewn around.

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The rabbi continued and repeated a law that he remembered when he saw the attic; “Every man has to clean up his room before checking.” That means even before the tedious job of checking he would have the task of cleaning it up.

The tiredness that overcame all my bones almost made me give up but I remembered then that I made up my mind to do this Mitzvah with self-sacrifice no matter what. So I made believe I didn't just finish a few hours of work in my own apartment. I grabbed buckets of water and I started working.

A stranger coming up to the attic at that time would have been shocked by what he saw; a young American student covered with mud and plaster cleaning a place that was almost never cleaned and probably almost no man ever set foot there. All this is taking place way after midnight the night before Passover.

It was  close to dawn when I finished checking the entire attic for Chametz. My whole body was shaking from the effort and the great tiredness that came over me. When I finished, it was already sunrise. In the morning after praying I hoped to rest a bit but the Mitzvoth of the day like burning the Chametz made me forgo my rest even though I was really tired.

Right before the evening prayers on the Seder night I thought to myself sadly: “What kind of Seder can I hope for if I am so wiped out? My tiredness will overcome me! Who knows if I'll be able to drink the four cups of wine at all?” I started praying with mixed feelings but as soon as I started praying I forgot everything. A spirit of holiness came to lift me up and a sweet feeling that I never felt before rested upon me.

I began my Seder night with those elevated feelings and to my wonderment I didn't feel tired at all. Quite the opposite I was so alert that I did not want to waste even one moment of the holy night. I read the Haggadah with an elevated spirit and my heart was overflowing with happiness. The words of the Haggadah weresweet on my lips.
I fulfilled all the mitzvoth of the night such as eating matzo, bitter herb and drinking 4 cups of wine feeling elated. i wasn't tired at all and I felt with my whole being that I am prepared to sacrifice myself to keep the mitzvoth.

I became a different person. I felt true closeness to G-d and a great light enveloped me the whole Seder night until after midnight. To my great wonder, even after the Seder was completed, I couldn't fall asleep. I stayed up the whole night and went over the story of leaving Egypt until the morning. I was surprised to find that this elevated spirit acompanied me from the Seder night till the end of the holiday. I took advantage of the opportunity to expend great effort in prayer and Torah learning. You can say that on that Passover, I dealt with nothing but closeness to God.

In that year, the seventh day of Passover was a Friday and during the last afetrnoon prayer of Passover,tears came to my eyes. I feared very much that the spirit of holinesst that rested upon me all of Passover would weaken and leave me when the Sabbath came. I strengthened myself with the thought that Shabbat is even holier than the holiday. I decided to keep on striving to go higher spiritually. I hoped for continued assistance from on high. Indeed I felt for the first time the very sweet taste of the Holy Shabbat and for the first time I understood the essence of its holiness. From that moment on I started rising to higher levels in my Divine service.

Rabbi Shimshon concludes his secret saying: If there's anything in me today, it all came from that one rabbinical Mitzvah; the Mitzvah of checking for Chametz that I grabbed onto and fulfilled with self-sacrifice.