Here is a special piece I wrote on the Haggadah!!

Four Seder Meditations
by David Sacks

The Dzjikover Rebbe brings that the full gematria of matzah is 190 (when you add up each letter of each word. (mem, is spelled mem, mem so that is 90, tzadi, is tzdi, daled, yud, 104, hay is hay, aleph 6 = 190).  He points out that we ate the matzah Seder night while we were still in Egypt. We were supposed to be there 400 years, but we left after 210 years.  Amazingly, 210 plus matzah (190) is 400.  I think to add on this, or maybe the Rebbe meant it all along, a kavanah, holy thought for us to think about while eating the matzah is that if there is anything that still needs fixing, any personal work in our souls that is still unfinished, eating the matzah should make us yotzei, whole, so that there is no more pain, or obstacles, only freedom and Divine connection with nothing blocking the way.  

Who Teaches Whom?

One the most famous questions asked on seder night is, “Why isn’t Moses’ name mentioned in the haggadah? He’s the one who took us out of Egypt! Surely, if anyone is featured, it should be him!”

The truth is, Moses’ name is mentioned, but only once, and it’s easy to miss unless you are paying close attention.

The question is, why?

My rebbe, Shlomo Carlebach, explained that there are two kinds of teachers:

The first kind is exemplified by Moses.

The second by our parents.

Yes, Moses is the star of the historical event that we commemorate. But the seder is about our other holy teachers, our parents, who, on this night, are the ones who pass down our holy tradition to us, instilling us with emunah — belief — in the deepest, deepest way.

Yachatz: The Journey of Creation

One of the deepest moments of the seder is yachatz. That’s when we take the middle of the three pieces of matzah on the seder plate and break it in two. The larger piece is hidden away and becomes the afikomen, which symbolizes the korbon Pesach, the Passover offering. At the end of the seder, our children find it and bring it back to us for a reward.

This is so deep! With these actions, amazingly, we are acting out the entire history of the world, from before creation until the final redemption.

Let’s try to understand how this works.

Before HaShem created the universe, all that existed was Him alone in His Oneness.

After HaShem created the world, there is still only HaShem, but now, after creation, there began the illusion of duality: Heaven and Earth, good and evil, body and soul, male and female, the material and the spiritual, the written Torah and the oral Torah, and perhaps most important, free choice — the ability to choose between one thing or another.

Fascinatingly, we see this dynamic at work in the very first letter of the Torah — the letter bet — which in gematria corresponds to the number 2.

This of course makes perfect sense, as we know that the Torah is the blueprint of creation. And thus, the first letter of the Torah announces and describes for us the world that has been created.

Now, back to yachatz.

When we do yachatz at the seder, we begin with an unbroken matzah, which stands for the Oneness of HaShem before the world was created. Then we break it in two, which stands for the duality that now exists — or, put another way, the illusion that there is any power other than God.

But why do we hide the larger piece?

Because HaShem is infinite. The world, on the other hand, is finite. We hide the larger piece because the larger piece of reality is hidden from us.

But this will not always be the case. The world is destined to bask in the revealed Oneness of HaShem, and this will happen when Mashiach comes.

The Koshnitzer Rebbe explains when our children bring the larger piece of matzah, the afikomen, back to us, we have them to thank for restoring our sense of wholeness and destiny.

Thus, the seder night is not just about parents giving to their children, it’s also about children giving back to their parents.

As to the custom of rewarding the children for finding the afikomen, on the deepest level, this act symbolizes the reward all of us will receive for our mitzvot when Mashiach comes.

Loving the In-Between

During the seder, we drink four cups of wine. I want to share with you one of my favorite teachings about wine.

Carlebach once said that everybody loves you when you are a finished product. Everybody loves you when you are a grape or when you are wine.

But do you know what a grape has to go through before it becomes wine? How much it has to be crushed, and stepped on?

Then he asked a searing question. “Who loves you when you’re in-between — when you’re not a grape or wine? The people who do — those are your real friends.”

I’d like to add to this teaching. Right now, the world is in between. Mashiach isn’t here yet, and there is still evil. The people who love HaShem now — those are His real friends.

May I conclude on a personal note? On seder night, I go up to each of my children and whisper to them, telling them that just like HaShem promised He would take us out of Egypt, and He kept His promise and took us out, so, too, He promised us that He will bring Mashiach, and He’s going to keep that promise too, and redeem the world. Tonight, we are filled with so much love and confidence, we are celebrating it happening already.

Let it be soon, let it be soon, let it be right now.

I had kind of a crazy adventure finding a mikvah to go to before Pesach in the Catskill mountains. Contained is the story, plus an analysis of one of the most famous verses in the Torah — love your neighbor like yourself!

Another Way of Seeing Life

The Fixing of Consciousness and Getting Ready for Elul

How Manna Fixes the Tree of Knowledge and Archimedes

An overview of this world and the next!

Utopian Economics, Receiving the Torah, Sefirahs HaOmer, jam packed with ideas

What is most real? The Hidden or the Revealed?

Stories from my trip to Israel plus an approach to looking at the world

Why Joy rules and how to use time to overcome death

Hashem, The Torah, and The Jewish People are One.

Note: To get the most out of this talk I recommend that you first listen to Black Fire on White Fire: Torah vs. Science

The life of Moshe, uplifting fallen letters, and a formula for Redemption

If God loves you, you also have to love you!

Deep Torahs from the Megaleh Amukos, the Dzikover Rebbe and Reb Shlomo Carlebach

Is it possible to be loved to death? To actually kill someone with kindness? An overview of Jewish history and how to survive the exile

The spiritual dynamics connecting our Holy Fathers drawing on the teachings of the Megaleh Amukos!

The forces of Negativity try to use our greatest strengths against us. Learn the art of spiritual Judo and how to counter attack and WIN.

What’s better than money? Life!! Teachings about accessing the moment, withstanding tests, the blessing of Shabbos, and living in the moment.

A discussion I had with myself on the way to pray! Plus, deep Torahs on healing and End of Days.

Why does life has so many tests? The key to understanding this is the life of Abraham. Through the challenges he faced we can better understand the essence of all of life’s difficulties.

The connection between Noah and Moshe and a history of the Torah as it existed before it was given.

The Torah says Love with All you Hearts! Why the plural? Also, secrets to living in the moment.

Our Holy Tradition states that Hashem created the world from the Hebrew Letters. We explore this concept and how it shapes our world and our lives.

What are we to think when a prayer doesn’t get answered? We look at Moshe’s 515 prayers to enter Israel and what that teaches about relating to the Divine.

Life’s endless journeys! A look at the never ending travels we go through and how it all works!

Pinchas wasn’t a fanatic or a vigilante. He was unique in his ability to think and act from a selfless place. How did he do it, and what can we learn about the process of ego management?

A person is led in the direction they want to go. The dynamic relationship between free choice, destiny, and the fixing of our lives and this world.

Why did Moshe hit the rock? What would have happened if he spoke to it instead? What was he supposed to say to it? A new look at one of the most perplexing incidents in the Torah!

Are there any limits to originality? An exploration into the rebellion of Korach, arguably the most modern figure in the Torah.

What does it mean when the Torah says, “Let us create man?” A look into self-invention from the perspective of the great writer Jorge Luis Borges.

The best way to reveal Godliness in the moment. Also, the secret to why there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet!

A look at the month of Nissan as the beginning of the world. An exit from Egypt. The dedication of the Mishkahn.

What is MUSIC really? And (on another subject entirely) did anything GOOD come from the golden calf?

Everything here from Universal Monotheism to how to Receive, to past lives, to the strength to begin again!

God created the world with 10 utterances, He brought 10 plagues on Egypt, and then gave the Torah with 10 commandments.  What is the connection?  A deep look into reality, and how we can grasp the infinity of God.

Why is life so confusing?  In this week’s talk, we look at the nature of order and the role we play in making sense of out of our chaotic lives.

When something breaks and you put it back together.  it never looks as good as it did to begin with.  But this is only true in the eyes of people.  But in the eyes of Heaven, when something breaks and you put it back together, it looks even better than it did to begin with.  (Meir Fund)

Channeling the White Fire of the original light of creation into the world.  This is what the Maccabees did?  Learn how and why the miracle happened and what it means to us today!

Fear is a killer.  And everyone experiences it.  What can we do to combat it?  In this week’s talk, we look into Jacob’s wrestling with the angel and learn strategies for more healthy living.

Sometimes people use spirituality as an escape.  But authentic spirituality demands integration, balance, sensitivity and interpersonal responsibility.  Using Jacob’s dream of the ladder connecting this world and the next as a jumping off point, we explore tools to help us harmonize the competing energies in our life.

The holiness of Gelfite Fish, the greatness of Issac, the meaning of digging wells, the inner depths of Esev, the difference in the blessings Yitzhak gives Yaakov and Esev, the war in Israel, tons of deep ideas in this one!

The greatness of hospitality!  In this week’s talk we look into what Abraham accomplished with his kindness and how he radically expanded our perception of Oneness.

Everything begins with Abraham.  But who was he?  In this week’s talk, we look into why G-d chooses Abraham, what he stood for, the power of an idea, and the nature of tests.  We also look into today’s “hook-up culture”.

What happens when all seems lost?  Begin again!  What if you already began again?  Then Begin again again!  Nowhere do we see this message more clearly than in the story of Noach and the flood.  The first post-apocalyptic event on record, an exploration reveals practical advice for our daily challenges.

The Torah begins with the word Bereishis.    It’s usually translated as “In the beginning” but what it really means is, “with beginnings” God created the world.  That word is so deep and carries so many levels of meaning that it’s mind boggling.  The whole Torah can be balanced on it’s first word.  And then you can balance the first word on it’s first letter!  In this week’s talk, we look into what we can learn about life from all this.

Dear Friends,

Stay Above, Be Within — I learned this path from Rabbi Tzvi Freeman in his incredible book “Bringing Heaven Down to Earth: 365 Meditations from the Lubavitcher Rebbe.”  In this week’s talk, we discuss how to apply this advice to the battles that all of us face in life.

Dear Friends,

It’s time to start getting ready for the New Year!  The question is how?  A study of the zodiac sign of Elul (the Jewish month that precedes the New Year) contains within it a formula for success.

Dear Friends,

The dark days of the year are now behind us.  In this week’s talk, we learn Torahs of healing, tell stories of Divine providence, explore the dynamics of the voices in our heads, and look at the blueprint of Av and what it can tell us about life.

This week we began a new book in Torah, Safer Devarim or Deuteronomy.  Our Sages teach that this book is different from the first four.  Namely, this book was spoken by Moshe himself.  Why then did God want it included in the Torah?  Why not make it a separate book, like Safer Yehoshua, the Book of Joshua, for instance?  We give answers to this, and other deep questions in this week’s talk.

Dear Friends,

There’s so much in this talk: soul mates, reincarnation, a description of the most disgusting form of idol worship, sex, death, and how the story of Pinchas pertains to us both on the personal level and the cosmic.  Pictured here is an “x-ray” of the soul of Pinchas.  In the talk we explain!

Dear Friends,

What is the purpose of death?  Is it forever?  What is this world for?  And what is this trampoline business about??  In this week’s talk, we mourn the loss of Micol Cohen, a great person who left us way too early, read an awesome piece she wrote http://www.aish.com/sp/pg/Micols_Gift.html and try to wrap our minds around life’s most mysterious chapter.

When things are going well time goes by quickly.  And when things aren’t — so slowly!  Believe it or not, this aspect was implanted into creation in the Garden of Eden.  In this week’s talk, we look into the nature of time itself and how it got to be this way.

Dear Friends,

One of the deepest things my Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach ever said to me was “G-d doesn’t run the world in a one plus one equals two way.”  It’s deeper than that.  In this week’s talk we begin with the verse “G-d gives wisdom to the wise.”  The problem is — what if I’m not wise?  How do I get wisdom then??   We also look into perhaps the most “contemporary” thinker in the Torah, a man named Korach, how he anticipated modern conversations about Godliness and universalism in general.

Dear Friends,

What does it mean when God calls Himself a “Jealous God”?  Is God really jealous??  In this week’s talk, we explore this word in the original Hebrew to get a better sense of what “don’t believe in other powers (also known as the second of the Ten Commandments) means.   I also share the story of a real life miracle and it’s surprising aftermath — a must for everyone desiring a break through in their lives!

Dear Friends,

Today is the 14th anniversary of my Mother leaving the world.  In this week’s talk, I look into the role parents play in our spiritual developments, why the Torah considers the day we leave this world greater than the day we’re born into it, and the great holiday of receiving the Torah we are celebrating this coming Saturday night!

Dear Friends,

A person who walks alone at night and occupies themselves with idle thoughts jeopardizes their soul.   This teaching from the Ethics of Our Fathers (3:5) seems straight forward enough, but in this  week’s talk we go into the depths of it from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.  We also open with a shout out to all the Moms and Parents-to-be out there.  (PS: If you make to the end of this one the source is Lemech in Gen 4:23 — “Shemahn” )

Dear Friends,

This is a very fundamental talk.   It discusses what a human being is and what we are made out of.  It also gives over a map of the universe — so that we can clearly conceptualize where the earth ends and the heavens begin in a very tangible way.  We even show where the creation of gravity is in the Torah.  Clarity is so precious.  There is clarity in this talk.  Please listen and share.

Dear Friends,

A deep exploration of the sin of the golden calf allows us to understand what may well be the final test G-d will administer before the end of days.  Sound dramatic enough??  In this week’s talk, we look at what the Talmud (Shabbos 89a)  says triggered the sin, and what trait of ours was being tested at this most crucial moment in history.

Our Holy Jewish tradition is, that God sang the world into creation.  This concept is very deep.  In this week’s talk, we look at how the structure of Hebrew letters mirrors the structure of human beings, how the letters parallel the four worlds of creation, and how understanding this can guide us both to making the most of our lives in terms of the choices we make, while also pointing the way to transcendence.

Dear Friends,

Why did God command us to build the Mishkan, the holy tabernacle?  On the one hand, we’re taught that it was a fixing for the sin of the golden calf.  On the other hand, the command to build it comes before the incident with the golden calf — so it appears that God wanted us to build it anyway!  So which is it??   In this week’s talk, we give an answer to this riddle by looking deeply into the blueprint of creation, and our purpose in this world, and how we can achieve it.

Dear Friends,

After the splitting of the Red Sea, we went without drinking water for three days.  We asked, “Is G-d among us or not?”  This was a different kind of doubt.  We obviously believed in G-d, after all we just witnessed one of the greatest miracles ever.  But then how could it be that now that we had a pressing need — G-d was seemingly not there for us?  Put another way, imagine you haven’t met your soul mate and you desperately want to.  You wonder if she even exists.  That’s one kind of doubt.  Now imagine you actually meet her, fall in love, and now mysteriously… she’s gone.  You wonder if she’s ever coming back, or if she still cares at all.  This form of doubt is perhaps even deeper and more painful, precisely because you know she does exists and you shared something meaningful together.  This is the test we went through after the sea split.  And this is what most of us experience when we doubt G-d.  Not whether He exists, but whether He cares.   In this week’s talk, we look into the roots of doubt, past lives, the snake in the garden of Eden, and why life is so confusing.  And we give some deep answers and advice.

Dear Friends,

Getting out of Egypt is just the first step.  Just because we’re  not slaves doesn’t mean that we are free.  The next more important step is getting the Egypt out of us!  In this week’s talk, we learn fundamental consciousness based tools for owning our freedom.

The first mitzvah the Jewish people get as a nation is to sanctify time. This is very deep because when you think about it, all a person really has is time.  Now that we are free, how are we going to use it?  We explore this idea as it relates to connecting the heart and the mind, and two key Talmudic foundations — that Hashem prepares  the healing before the punishment, and that people are led in the direction that they want to travel.

Dear Friends,

We are commanded to be a light unto the nations, yet while living outside the land the lure of other cultures is often irresistible.  How do we remain strong in our identity while simultaneously being immersed in another culture?  What is the balance and how do we achieve it?

If I told you the person dressed in rags that just walked into the room was a mufti-millionaire — I guarantee you’ll treat him differently.  You’ll imagine that he’s eccentric and most probably a genius.  Maybe if you’re nice to him he’ll even give you money.  Speech creates perception.  Perception creates reality.  We are now in the book of Shemos which means Names in English.   It is also called the book of Redemption.   In this week’s talk we discuss the connection between Naming things — i.e. defining your terms — and Redemption.

Dear Friend,

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan put it this way.  Our bodies are the hardware and our souls are the software.  And just like software can exist independently of the hardware, so too, our soul after it leaves our body not only continues to exist, but has imprinted on it all our our memories and levels of attainment.  Or put another way, we really do live forever.

We all desperately want to be happy. But how? In this week’s talk we lay out a detailed program for success in this most crucial area of life.

What went wrong in the Garden of Eden?  In this talk, we explore how the snake seduced Eve, and how to evaluate our own desires.

Dear Friends,

Lots in this week’s talk, from how to avoid becoming an imitation of yourself, to a discussion of Star Wars, to mezuzahs, to the beauty of Joseph, to death bed confessions, to how to pursue true success in life to one’s last breath.  In other words, another typical talk!

Dear Friends,

In this week’s talk we explore the dangers of over-sensitivity, the epic final meeting of Yakov and Esev, intelligence vs. wisdom, some cool gematrias, and general advice for living.

Dear Friends,

Did you ever wonder how Jacob got tricked with his wedding?  Or how Leah could have taken part in this subterfuge? Or why, if Jacob loved Rachel more — and why did he?? — why Rachel isn’t the mother of Mashiach?  We discuss these questions and more in this week’s talk.

There are a lot of healing teachings in this talk, and some cool crazy stories, too.  Everything from teachings about Chanukah to the selling of Joseph, to the philosophy of gematria, to the whole episode of Yehudah and Tamar.  Lots of teachings about Mashiach and Hashem’s closeness even in the darkest of times.

Every person has Godliness within them — that’s what the soul is.  But how do we bring it out? In this week’s talk, we discuss actualizing potential, and see how it comes up in the most interesting places, from the tenth test of Avraham to why the snake came to Eve instead of Adam.

Dear Friends,

There are certain moments in life when we receive a flash of clarity.  What we do with these, and how much we hold on to them, can be the difference between achieving our potential or sadly, not quite making it.  In honor of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s yartziet, I reflect on some of these moments in my life.

Dear Friends,

The Parsha begins with a seemingly innocent description — Avraham is sitting at the entrance of his tent — and yet worlds are literally contained within this description.  To fully understand, we begin by exploring what the nature of the clothes G-d made for Adam and Chava were after they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, how this relates to the mitzvah of circumcision, and what it actually means to have an open heart.  We also look at how Sarah’s name change impacted her destiny.

Dear Friends,

In this week’s talk, we look at how Abraham became Abraham.  We also, explore the gematria of Avraham, and learn what “Lech Lecha” means according to the Ishbitzer Rebbe.  Lots of deep teachings about the man who changed the world forever.

In rare cases certain letters of the Torah are written larger than others.  Four times as large to be exact.  According to the Chatam Sofer, the gematria of those letters is also four times what it would normally be.  With this is mind, we visit the large Beis of Breisheis — the first letter of the Torah, and the large Ayin and Daled of Shema Yisrael to gain deeper insights into these key passages.

Was Noach holy?  Yes!  But then why is the flood blamed on him?  Or put another way, if he was a Tzaddik, then why didn’t he pray for his generation to be spared?  Did you know Noach gets reincarnated as Moshe, and that Moshe rectifies his soul?  All this is discussed as we explore the role of the Tzaddik and the evolution of righteousness.

Who are you really?  Put another way, when you hear a voice in your head that begins with the words  “I want…”  who is speaking exactly?  In this week’s talk we look into spiritual identity theft, and look further into how the Torah is black fire written on white fire.

The month that we are in right now Cheshvan, has an amazing duel character to it.  On the one hand it is the month that Hashem brought the great flood to the world in the time of Noah.  On the other hand our Sages teach that it will be the month where the 3rd Holy Temple will be inaugurated.  When we probe deeper into the nature of the month we see that both outcomes are due to a tremendous down pour of light.  Why then do they manifest themselves in such radically different ways?  And what can we do in our own lives to ensure that we are able to hold on to the blessings?  This is today’s subject.

Dear Friends,

The Torah is Black Fire written on White Fire.  In this week’s talk we look at interplay between the two as we compare the first letter of the Torah with the last letter of the Book of Exodus and show how they are the flip sides of each other.  This one is only twenty minutes — check it out!

Dear Friends,

If the world is literally made out of the fabric of beginnings and every moment is a new beginning — then what increased significance does Rosh Hashanah have?  The answer is that it is the beginning of all beginnings.   In this week’s talk, we discuss how we can use this awesome opportunity to shape our year.  We also discuss the upper Garden of Eden, and the path we all travel together.

Dear Friends,

Shortly after I first started keeping Shabbos, I got my first job as a staff writer on a sit-com. It was the ninety-ninth rated show out of ninety-nine in prime time. Not that this has anything to do with the story, I’ve just always thought that was cool.

There wasn’t much to do the first week, and it was August when the sun sets relatively late, so we finished work before there was any conflict. The second week was different. Friday rolled around and we were finishing just in time for me to be able to make it home for candle lighting. I lived close to the studio, so as long as we wrapped it up quickly, I’d make it home by the skin of my teeth. Read more…

You are not stuck!  Life is good!  Every moment is a new beginning in the deepest possible sense!  In this week’s talk, we discuss becoming the master of your thoughts and consciousness, how to do it, and the amazing things that can result by accessing the power of the moment.

Dear Friends,

Like a car without gas, or a toy without batteries, sometimes one missing element can make all the difference between whether something is working or not.  When it comes to heavenly service, sensitivity is that thing.  It has a power that pumps life into relationships.  In this week’s talk, we discuss the transformative nature of sensitivity, connect it to the heal of a person, the Garden of Eden and the End of Days.

Dear Friends,

What if there was a decree on you that’s been lifted — but you’ll never find out because you’ve stopped trying?  How terrible that would be!  This week is Tu B’Av, one of the happiest days of the year, where we celebrate the end of the 4o year decree of wandering in the desert.  It also marks a dramatic shift in energy from the sadness of Tisha B’Av to joy.  In this week’s talk, we make it real and discuss how we can apply these lessons to our lives.

Dear Friends,

The journey of the soul never ends.   Not in this world and not in the next.  It’s our destiny is to travel forever through the infinite expanses of Hashem.  In this week’s talk, we delve deeply into the blueprint of all travels — the 42 stops the Jews made from Egypt on the way to Israel.  As I think you’ll see, so much is contained within this, it’s mind boggling.

Dear Friends,

How do we turn our lives into art?  In this week’s talk, we set out a practical series of steps that allows us to look at the upcoming moments of our lives as blank canvases waiting to be filled with beauty.  We also discuss the three weeks — and figure out how best to relate to G-d during this time, and even more importantly how He is manifesting His love during this most challenging part of the year.