Celebrating G-d’s holy days when it’s not convenient (Passover)

When we lived in Israel, it was easy to celebrate Shabbat and the various holy days. Everywhere we turned, the holy days were present within the culture. These days were a part of the very fabric of society: schools and businesses closed; stores sold special food and other items pertaining to the holy day; even the standard greeting on the street reflected the upcoming holy day. Here in the US, however, we don’t have that constant reminder. Often schedules vie for our attention in our observing His days. I read an excellent and thought-provoking article that illustrates where ‘there’s a will, there’s a way.’

Passover in Hell by Yakov Brachfeld (Yakov’s grandfather’s Passover Seder, hiding from Nazis in the Krakow Ghetto)

krakow getto“Mendel and Moshe Brachfeld – my great uncle and grandfather – were two brothers who walked through the fires of the Holocaust together. After the rest of their family was killed by the Nazis, they made a pact that they will stay together at any cost. …

“My grandfather would never speak of the killing and torture but he would recount as often as he could tales of spiritual growth in the most harrowing of situations. How he and his older brother, with great sacrifice, managed to put on tefillin [prayer shawls] almost every day in that hell. How they smuggled tefillin from camp to camp, how at one point 500 Jews would line up every morning to put on their tefillin. How they broke open a jail cell and over 100 people were able to escape. How they found a mikva before Yom Kipper and how they survived on only potatoes one Passover. Many stories, all with the same theme – not of horror but of heroism.

On the Run in Krakow

“During World War II, the Nazis established more than 400 ghettos in order to isolate Jews from the non-Jewish population and from neighboring Jewish communities.

“In March 1943, five weeks before Passover, the Germans liquidated the ghetto [Krakow, Poland] either killing or removing all remaining Jews. The two brothers … decided to go into hiding. … They were running from attic to attic, trying desperately to stay alive and working on getting papers that they could use to escape.

PassoverInHell-230x150“With Passover approaching, the two brothers wanted to find a way to eat matzah on the first night of Yom Tov [the holy day]. It took a lot of inventiveness and sacrifice – getting caught meant getting shot – but they found some flour and built themselves a makeshift oven. They found a blech and some highly flammable paint. They set the paint on fire and were able to kasher the blech – and they had a kosher-for-Passover oven. They baked a few small matzahs for the Seder.

“The night of Passover came and they sat down to their makeshift Seder, celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in a hidden attic … in the Krakow ghetto. In years past they had sat at a beautiful set table with the finest silver and surrounded by family. Tonight they sat down in a dark attic, all alone in the world, running from the Nazis, their very lives in danger, with a bit of matzah for which they sacrificed their lives. Marror [bitter herbs] was not needed; they had enough of that in their lives.

What Freedom?

“My grandfather, then 21 years old, said to his older brother, “There is no way I can have a Seder tonight. The Seder is to celebrate our freedom, our going out of exile, yet here we sit, our lives in danger, our family is all gone, our parents, sister and her kids were all killed, the entire city is up in flames… Isn’t this worse than the lives the Jews had in Egypt? What kind of freedom are we celebrating tonight?”

“His brother answered, “Every night in the evening prayers we praise God for taking us out of Egypt to an ‘everlasting freedom’. The everlasting freedom that we gained and are thankful for isn’t a physical freedom – that is only a byproduct of what we got that night. Rather it’s the spiritual freedom that we recognize. When we sit down at the Seder we celebrate something bigger than life, a going out of slavery into the embracing hands of our Father in heaven, becoming a Godly nation. This is something that no one can ever take away from us. No matter how much they beat, torture and kill our physical bodies, our souls will always remain free to serve God.”

“My grandfather often said that this was the most magnificent Seder he ever experienced.”

As we focus on our Lord’s priorities, our decisions become easier … even though the implementation of the decision may be difficult … the decision itself becomes easier.  Are we going to do things His way? Or the way of convenience?


“Thank You for Your holy days! Thank You for brave individuals who choose to follow Your ways, rather than the ways that ‘seem’ prudent. Help us to choose Your ways and not the path of least resistance. Protect and give strength and encouragement to the persecuted church.  Bring Your peace to Israel. Give our leaders and Israel’s leaders wisdom. Help them to follow Your ways and not the ways of the world. Om Your holy Name, we pray.”

IMMEDIATE Prayer Requests:  

  1. Pray for Israel!
  2. Protection of the persecuted church.
  3. Cousin (Norm K): passed away, please pray for Norm and his entire family
  4. Jim: 5/12/2015 knee replacement surgery. Please pray that surgery goes swiftly and without incident; that this will alleviate his constant pain.
  5. PJ, Pamela, Norman G: healing
  6. Pray for the emotional turmoil of many around us.
  7. Sister-in-law (Les’a): healing of her kidneys and lungs – she’s a strong believer who has many complications from diabetes
  8. Unspoken: favor, truth, and righteous resolution.
  9. Deb: victory over overwhelming circumstances. Encouragement!! God will provide; prayer for wisdom and favor with all those involved in the decision-making. Protection from false accusations and that truth, victory, and peace will reign. That Deb’s spirit will be lifted up: that she will have the words and clarity of mind to accomplish what needs to be done. That there will be a miraculously successful outcome of fairness and provision for her future.
  10. Carla: continued healing.
  11. Family (Debbie in Houston):Spiritual, emotional, and physical healing.
  12. Friend (Norman G): healing and salvation.
  13. Prayer for family whose young son died.
  14. Marita (Israel): health and renewed vitality. Revitalization.
  15. Prayer for wisdom and favor as we encounter suffering people.
  16. Marriages: peace, harmony, serve G-d
  17. Cynthia (who’s relocated near family in Louisiana): favor for a job, healing for her sister, godly relationships
  18. Jobs: Pamela, Norman G., PJ, Natan and his new military assignment.
  20. REVIVAL in Arizona