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    Grabbing or controlling?

    clenched fist handThe Midrash compares birth with death.

    It says that when we are born our hands are clenched: we start life wanting to grasp things. When we die our fingers open: we can no longer grab or grasp anything; our seizing days are over.

    The message is that human beings have an instinct to get hold of things. Desire and acquisition are part of our nature. That is, our original nature.

    Our social, moral and educational training teach us the opposite lesson, namely control. Not only in regard to possessions, where we find that we can’t have everything, especially if it isn’t ours, but also in regard to experiences.

    Control tells us that though many things are attractive, we can’t always have them, or else our health and balance are at risk.

    Shakespeare said, “To be or not to be – that is the question”. The Torah message is, “To have or not to have – that is the question”.

    Pesach symbolizes the dilemma.

    We want chametz but can’t always have it. Does that curtail our freedom? It does, but the only way to have freedom is to control it.

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