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1. Rabbi Boruch Sholem Abish Dvar- Shabbos Hagadol page 2
2. Rabbi Binyomin Adler Shabbos Taam HaChaim page 2
3. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein Beeros page 5
4. Rabbi Oizer Alport Parsha Potpourri page 5
5. Rabbi Yitzchak Botton - Ohr Somayach The Pesach Relay Race page 7
6. Rabbi Shlomo Caplan Mishulchan Shlomo page 8
7. HaRav Eliezer Chrysler Midei Shabbos page 8
8. Rabbi Yosef Farhi -Aish.Com Life Coaching from the Parasha page 9
9. Rabbi Eliyahu Fink - OU An Incredibly Inspiring Chapter page 10
10. Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher Chamishoh Mi Yodei'a page 10
11. Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher Chasidic Insights page 11
12. Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher Oroh V'Simchoh page 11
13. Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher Sedrah Selections page 11
14. Rabbi Yissocher Frand RavFrand page 12
15. Rabbi J. Gewirtz Migdal Ohr page 13
16. Rabbi Sender Haber Out of the Loop page 14
17. Rabbi Ari Kahn -Aish.Com M'oray Ha'Aish page 14
18. Rabbi Avraham Kahn Torah Attitude page 14
19. Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky Beyond Pshat page 15
20. Rabbi Shlomo Katz Hamayan page 23
21. Rabbi Dov Kramer Taking A Closer Look page 24
22. Rabbi Label Lam Dvar Torah page 25
23. Rabbi Eli Mansour Weekly Perasha Insights page 25
24. NCYI Weekly Dvar Torah page 25
25. Rabbi Kalman Packouz-Aish.Com Shabbat Shalom page 28
26. Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff Weekly Chizuk page 28
27. Rabbi Yehudah Prero Yom Tov page 30
28. Rabbi Ben-Zion Rand Likutei Peshatim page 31
29. Rabbi Naftali Reich Legacy page 32
30. Rabbi Mordechai Rhine Rabbi's Message page 33
31. Sara Yoheved Rigler-Aish.Com Are You In or Out? page 33
32. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Covenant & Conversation page 34
33. Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum Peninim on the Torah page 34
34. Rabbi Dovid Seigel Haftorah page 37
35. Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair Ohr Somayach Torah Weekly page 37
36. Rabbi Yaakov Singer-Aish.Com Making Passover Personal page 37
37. Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel Torah MiTzion page 38
38. Rabbi Doniel Staum Stam Torah page 39
39. Rabbi Berel Wein Pesach page 41
40. Rabbi Berel Wein Weekly Parsha page 41
41. Rabbi Noach Weinberg ZTL-Aish.Com 48 Ways to Wisdom Way #25 page 44
42. Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb - OU Person In The Parsha page 41
43. Rabbi Pinchas Winston Perceptions page 42
44. HaRav Shlomo Wolbe Ztl Bais Hamussar page 43
45. Yeshiva Aish HaTorah-Aish.Com Jewish History Crash Course#25 page 43
46. Rabbi Leibie Sternberg Pleasant Ridge Newsletter The Back Page
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See page 45 for columns on last weeks parsha that were received after publication.
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Rabbi Boruch Sholem Abish
Shabbos Hagadol - Preparations Galore
In this week's Parshah of Achrei Mos we read of the Yom Kippur services in
the Holy Temple. One of the first things done was the sequestering of the
Kohen Gadol (high priest) for seven days. How seasonally timely, being that
Pesach certainly is the season of advance work and preparation. Sometimes
those who actually carry the burden of the preparing, be it cooking cleaning
koshering or setting the table, feel under-appreciated or under-valued.
Notwithstanding that preparing but not doing the mitzvah is missing the mark,
all things being equal, the preparation aka Hachonah may actually be of more
value than the Mitzvah itself. One has control during the preparation phase,
more so than the mitzvah performance stage. While the situation may spiral out
of control or simply become stressful during the actual mitzvah, one can do and
redo the preparations, until it gets done well.
We are told that during the Seder night a great holy impact descends on each
and every Seder; however, how much we absorb and keep depends on how big
our pockets are. (A parable can be said of a king who allowed someone into his
treasure house to take as much as he could carry in his hands and pockets. Woe
to the shlemazel who went unprepared.) How we prepare is individual to each
person, man or women. Cooking, cleaning, wine or matzoh, or as we are
enjoined; 30 days before Pesach one should begin studying the laws of Pesach.
The leader of each Seder has both the responsibility and privilege of being able
to instill into everyone at the Seder a belief and understanding of Hashem and
by extension an appreciation of our Jewish heritage, to our children and
Where else do we find merit in the preparation? Everywhere. Before the giving
of the Torah, Hashem says Exodus 19 11; Be prepared for the third day.
Sukkoth is called the first day because it is the first of keeping tabs on our
sins after Yom Kippur, Why? Because we are busy preparing; the
ethrog/Lulav, the sukkah and the holiday. The entire Simcha beis hashoeva,
was done on the eve of the daily Sukkoth libations. The menorah in the temple
was allowed to be lit even by a non-Kohen, yet only a Kohen was allowed to
do the oil and wick preparations. And of course the Shabbat, where we are
clearly told, Introduction to the Manna, Exodus 16 23: bake and cook for
tomorrow. R Shimshon Pincus of blessed memory tells us that in America
while keeping the Shabbat is firmly established, it is generally lacking in
appreciating the Erev Shabbat. The preparations are not merely a means to an
end; rather they have become a mitzvah unto itself. It is a respect for the
Shabbat. We find in the Talmud many examples of Rabbis; even wealthy ones
with an abundance of service help, who rolled up their sleeves and did the
dirty work, cleaned cooked and wiped the cobwebs. All this was over and
above the general kethubah obligation of honouring ones wife above ones own
honour, by not letting her flounder. Maybe thats why this week is called
Shabbos Hagadol, the great Shabbos, because we were commanded to tie a
sheep to our bedpost in preparation for the Korban Pesach, this being the first
time that we find a mitzvah in the preparation stage itself. Shabbat afternoon is
called raava Draava alluding to the concept that this is when Hashem was
planning/preparing to create the world, and then creation started the following
eve of Sunday. Then the story of Rabbi Akiva being cruelly executed by the
Romans for maintaining his Jewish faith. While they presumably paused to ask
if he will abandon his faith, his students asked in astonishment; how do you
have the strength and fortitude to withstand the barbarism? And he answered,
all my life I have been preparing for this moment (by the daily shma- he
mentally declared himself ready to abandon his life, rather than abandon his
faith.), now that I am here, will I not follow through?
So whats with all this preparation? Well, when one prepares for something, it
removes it from a state of routine and lackadaisical interest and creates a
desire and urgency, the entire mitzvah takes on a life. The prophets railed
against those who perform Mitzvos by rote and habit. Imagine a groom (who
has his sins forgiven on his wedding day) that avows come his wedding day he
will pray the mother of all Minchas. The very heavens will shake! Yet when
the time comes, can not put together two focused and undisturbed minutes.
Why, because there was no preparation! Many coaches and players in
professional games declare when the playoffs come, they will turn it on but
then usually its too little too late. You gotta get into your game, not just
wander on to the field or ice. Ask any athlete what it means; game-day.
Lets take comfort in the efforts of our preparation, and excitement in the
anticipation of the upcoming Pesach. May Hashem bless our efforts with a
beautiful and inviting Seder table, where all feel welcome and inspired, and
bring all family members closer to each other. Shabbat Shalom
By; Bryan Abish. For comments / free subscription or to unsubscribe;
Subject; Dvar. J

Rabbi Binyomin Adler
Shabbos Taam HaChaim
Acharei Mos-Shabbos HaGadol 5774 (From the archives)
In this weeks parashah, Acharei Mos, we read about the passing of Nadav and
Avihu, the two elder sons of Aharon HaKohen. The Mishna Berura (O. C.
621:2 quotes the Zohar that states that one who cries upon hearing this passage
in the Torah describing the deaths of Nadav and Avihu will be granted
atonement for his sins and his children will not die in his lifetime. One must
wonder what is so significant about the deaths of Nadav and Avihu that if one
were to cry over their deaths thousands of years later, he will merit a reward.
What is the significance of the Exodus narrative?
In order to glean a proper understanding into this matter, let us take a closer
look at the festival that is approaching, the festival of Pesach. On Pesach we
commemorate our freedom from the Egyptian slavery. Yet, we do more than
commemorate our liberation from servitude. We are instructed to relate to our
children the entire story of our slavery to Pharaoh and the Egyptians and to
relate the wondrous miracles that HaShem performed for us upon redeeming us
from slavery and regarding the splitting of the Red Sea. Why is it incumbent
upon us to relate this period in our history to our children more than any other
period of our history?
Shabbos HaGadol and sacrificing the Sheep
The answer to this question can surprisingly be found in the idea of Shabbos
HaGadol, the Great Shabbos that precedes Pesach. The Tur (O. C. 430) and
other Rishonim write that the reason that the Shabbos that precedes Pesach is
referred to as Shabbos HaGadol is because the Jewish People took the sheep,
which were worshipped by the Egyptians, and they tied the sheep to the foot of
their beds. This act was a demonstration by the Jewish People that they no
longer feared the Egyptians and this act also expressed the Jewish Peoples
rejection of the Egyptians idols. This explanation, however, requires
understanding. What significance does this incident with the sheep have to us
today? We do not reside in an idolatrous society, and even ideologies that can
be associated with idolatry certainly do not resemble the worship of sheep.
Why, then, do we commemorate this seemingly isolated event that occurred
prior to the Exodus?
The Curiosity of slaughtering the Egyptian Idol
To gain a better understanding of our activities in Pesach, it is worthwhile to
reflect on the Seder night, when we are engaged in stimulating the children to
ask questions and be inspired by this awesome night. There are many
approaches to piquing the childrens curiosity, and the common them is that the
children should be excited and remain awake for a good portion of the Seder.
Perhaps herein lays the solution to the puzzle. Prior to being redeemed from
Egypt, HaShem instructed the Jewish People to take a sheep, the Egyptian idol,
and slaughter it. This instruction certainly must have piqued the curiosity of the
Jewish People, as this command placed the Jewish Peoples lives in danger.
Nonetheless, the Jewish People willingly took the sheep and subsequently
slaughtered the sheep before the Egyptians eyes. Can we even imagine
performing such an act? This would be equivalent to burning ones native
countrys flag before its citizens. Are we prepared to act in such a manner if we
were given this instruction from HaShem? In truth, however, twice daily we
recite Shema where we accept upon ourselves to sacrifice our very lives for
HaShem. Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, said that the entire theme of the
Pesach Seder is Shema Yisroel, i.e. sanctifying HaShems Name. Thus, we are
not merely relating to our children that we were enslaved to Pharaoh and
HaShem liberated us from a bitter oppression. In essence, we are relating to our
children that we must sacrifice our lives to serve HaShem, as this is what the
Korban Pesach represents.
The act of Nadav and Avihu was a sacrifice for HaShems Will
We can now understand why this festival is referred to as Pesach. Rashi writes
that Pesach means compassion or alternately, skipping over, a reference to
HaShem skipping over the homes of the Jewish People and smiting the
firstborn of the Egyptians. Yet, the sacrifice that the Jewish People offered
prior to the Exodus is referred to as Pesach. Based on the premise that on this
festival we are demonstrating our sacrificing of our lives to HaShem, we refer
to the festival as Pesach reflects the Jewish People sacrificing their very lives to
reject idolatry and embrace HaShems commandments. This idea is embodied
in Shabbos HaGadol, the precursor to the festival of Pesach. We can now better
understand why one who feels distressed over the deaths of Nadav and Avihu
will merit atonement for his sins and that his children will not die in his
lifetime. Despite the impropriety of entering the Holy of Holies without
permission, Nadav and Avihu demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice their
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lives for what they perceived was HaShems will. When one cries over their
deaths, he is relating to the concept of sacrificing ones life for HaShem. This
year Pesach, in addition to commemorating the miracles of the Exodus,
HaShem should allow us to reflect on sacrificing our lives for His Great Name,
and in that merit we should witness the Ultimate Redemption, with the arrival
of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Koh Echsof
Composed by Rabbi Aharon of Karlin, one of the greatest figures in the earliest
periods of Chassidus
, hallow them with the Shabboss holiness
which unites itself with Your Torah. The simple meaning of this passage is that
the Tana Divei Eliyahu states that one should make Shabbos completely Torah,
i.e. one should engage in Torah study as much as possible on Shabbos.
Furthermore, the Zohar states that a Torah scholar is in the category of
Shabbos, so we are asking that HaShem sanctify the righteous and the Torah
Scholars with the holiness of Shabbos so even during the weekday they should
bear the sanctity of the Holy Shabbos.
Shabbos Stories
Always Focus On The Positive
The Chofetz Chaim began approaching him, when the innkeeper intercepted
him. Dont even attempt to talk to him. That guy was a cantonist, conscripted
into the czars army at age seven, and he was not let out until twenty-five years
later. People have tried to change his ways, but hes stubborn. It seems he
missed the stage of developing his manners or his Judaism.
Unperturbed, the Chofetz Chaim pulled up a chair and said to him: Is it true
that you were a cantonist, drafted into the czars army for 25 years? The
cantonist grunted in affirmation. You must be such a holy individual! I cant
imagine what it took for you to retain your Jewish identity. Countless times
they must have beaten you for not converting to Christianity! You never even
had a chance to study Torah and yet you held on! Youve been through the
worst of conditions and yet you stayed strong! I wish I would have the merits
you must have! I wish I could have your portion in the World to Come!
By this time the hardened veteran was crying like a baby, and kissing the hand
of the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim continued, There are just a few
things you probably need to work on, but if you could improve in those areas,
there would be no one like you! After this, the man who was previously never
affected by the years of people rebuking him became a changed man. For years
he remained a close student of the Chofetz Chaim, and truly lived up to his true
Just No Bread Sandwiches at My Seder
No one could get Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev angry. No matter what
anyone did, he would always find something nice to say. He believed in
treating all Jews kindly, no matter how much his patience was tested. Rabbi
Levi Yitzchaks neighbor had a son who did not want to keep any of the
mitzvos. One year, during the Seder, the family was about to make a sandwich
of matzah and maror for koreich. To everyone's surprise, the boy pulled from
his pocket two slices of bread and some meat, and made himself a sandwich.
His father started to cry: How dare you bring bread to my Seder? But
father, the boy answered, Im hungry after reading the Hagadah. What
difference does it make if I eat bread or matzah? Im sure Rabbi Levi Yitzchak
wouldnt mind. The father jumped up from the table and grabbed his son. Oh,
wouldnt he? Lets go ask him.
The whole family marched next door, the father leading the boy by the ear.
Rabbi, the man said, even you would not tolerate what my son just did. He
ate bread at our Seder. I have four sons, rabbi, and I dont have to tell you
which one he is. Everyone in the room was shocked; everyone, that is, except
for Rabbi Levi Yitzchak. He smiled at the boy and asked if it was true.
Certainly, Rabbi, the boy said. I was hungry so I made myself a sandwich.
Dont you know that on Pesach Jews dont eat bread? Rabbi Levi Yitzchak
continued. Well, Rabbi, the boy answered, to be totally honest, I dont
really believe in all this. What difference could it possibly make if I eat bread
or matzah?
The entire room was silent. Only the boys mother could be heard sobbing in
the doorway. Please come here, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak called to the boy. The
boy walked slowly, afraid that this time he had gone too far. As he approached
the table, the rabbi hugged him. Such a fine boy, he said to the father, and
so honest too, he added to the mother. Hes ready to admit what he did and
hes acting according to his beliefs. Such a fine, honest boy must sit with me at
my Seder. I have so much to learn from him! Just one thing though. The rabbi
turned to the boy and said, Therell be no sandwiches at the Seder table -
unless you make them with matzah.
Through the Eyes of a Gadol
[This story was related by Rabbi Label Lam] A few years back, my wife and I
had the pleasure to spend Shabbos at a hotel with Rabbi Pesach Krohn. He told
over the following story. A young man from Midwest was married for a good
number of years without the blessing of children. One year his wife was
expecting and she gave birth prematurely. The child weighed only a few
pounds and remained hospitalized in Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit. After a
period of time the child was strong and healthy enough to be sent home. They
made a Bris and named the boy Yaakov. Now with his son at home, the father
of the boy didnt forget the tireless effort of the nurses that cared day and night
for his child. He wanted to express his gratitude somehow. He did something
seemingly unusual. He called his Rosh HaYeshiva his spiritual mentor Rabbi
Elya Svei in Philadelphia and asked him what he thought would be appropriate
as a thank you gift. Should he get flowers, candy, or balloons etc.? The Rabbis
answer was at first surprising. He told him to get them nothing.
Misunderstanding, the young man reiterated his reason. He only wished to
express his gratitude to those who had benefited his child so much.
The Rosh HaYeshiva had, of course, understood that. He asked, What reward
did HaShem give to the Hebrew midwives, Shifra and Puah (Alias Yocheved
and Miriam) for risking their lives to care for the Jewish infants in defiance of
Pharaoh? Everyone thinks, That He made for them houses, that is, family
dynasties, but thats not what the verse says. It states, G-d benefited the
midwives- and the people increased and became very strong. This was their
benefit that they saw the work of their hands prosper before them. Rabbi Svei
advised that he should rather bring the child back to visit the hospital staff each
year on his birthday and offer personal thanks. Thats what he did. Year after
year he paraded little Yaakov before the nurses and to thank them again and
Before his 13th birthday and for the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah young
Yaakov and his father delivered a Bar Mitzvah invitation personally to the
hospital. Soon afterward, they received a reply. The head of nursing writes, and
I paraphrase what Rabbi Krohn read verbatim from the text of the letter.
Congratulations on your family milestone. We wanted to let you know how
much your visits have meant to us over the years. We work in a high risk
setting never knowing if things will turn out alright. Even after a child leaves
our care we have little or no idea whatever became of our efforts. I was not
even at the hospital when your Yaakov was treated here but you should know
that when we train for this difficult and often thankless task your son has
become the poster child of whats possible. We mention again and again that
the infant that you are currently caring for may turn out like Yaakov. Then
she adds as a postscript, Many people send us flowers, balloons, and candies.
The flowers eventually wilt, the balloons deflate, and the candies are eaten up
but the gift that you have given us has been proven valuable beyond
comparison. Take note how a Gadol- a Great Torah Scholar learns Chumash
with such depth and practicality. How wise it is to follow their priceless advice.
Shabbos in Halacha
The Scope of Borer
V. Activities that are not deemed to be borer at all
The following activities are not deemed to be acts of sorting, and can at times
be helpful in separating mixtures while avoiding any transgression of Borer.
D.Filtering Liquids to Remove Minor Impurities
We have learned previously that filtering liquids to remove the impurities is a
form of Borer. However, this is only true if the impurities diminish the
drinkability of the liquid. One can filter a liquid that one can drink in spite of
its impurities, even if one filters the liquid to obtain a more purified state. The
reason for this permit is that given that the impurities do not diminish the
drinkability of the liquid, they are deemed to be a part of the liquid itself and
they are not considered separate species. Therefore, their removal is not
deemed to be an act of Borer.
For this reason one is permitted to use a specialized filter on the kitchen water
tap, unless the water is actually impure.
Nonetheless, a finicky individual who is bothered by even minor impurities
cannot filter out these impurities on Shabbos, as for such an individual this is
considered an act of Borer. Similarly, another person is also forbidden from
filtering liquids on behalf of the finicky individual,
New Stories - Acharei Mos-Shabbos HaGadol 5774
Our Legacy Passed Along
A Passover letter to my child.
by Rabbi Ahron Lopiansky
My dear child,
It is now a quiet moment late at night. After an exhausting day of Passover
cleaning, you have sunk into the sweetest of sleeps, and I am sitting here
with a pile of haggadas, preparing for Seder night. Somehow the words
never come out the way I want them to, and the Seder evening is always
unpredictable. But so many thoughts and feelings are welling up in my
mind and I want to share them with you. These are the words I mean to say
at the Seder.
When you will see me at the Seder dressed in a kittel, the same plain white
garment worn on Yom Kippur, your first question will be, Why are you
dressed like this?
Because it is Yom Kippur, a day of reckoning. You see, each one of us has
a double role. First and foremost we are human beings, creatures in the
image of God, and on Yom Kippur we are examined if indeed we are
worthy of that title. But we are also components of Klal Yisrael, the
Jewish People, links in a chain that started over 3,000 years ago and will
make it to the finish line of the end of times. It is a relay race where a
torch is passed on through all the ages, and it is our charge, to take it from
the one before and pass it on to the one after. Tonight we are being judged
as to how well we have received our tradition and how well we are passing
it on.
It is now 3,300 years since we received that freedom in Egypt. If we
imagine the average age of having a child to be about 25 years of age,
there are four generations each century. That means there is a total of 132
people stretching from our forefathers in Egypt to us today. 132 people
had to pass on this heritage flawlessly, with a devotion and single-
mindedness that could not falter. Who were these 133 fathers of mine?
One had been in the Nazi death camps; one had been whipped unconscious
by Cossacks. One had children stolen by the Czar, and one was the
laughing stock of his enlightened brethren. One lived in a basement in
Warsaw with many days passing with no food to his mouth; the other ran a
stupendous mansion in France. One had been burned at stake for refusing
to believe in the divinity of a flesh and blood, and one had been frozen to
4 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
death in Siberia for continuing to believe in the divinity of the Eternal
One had been hounded by a mob for living in Europe rather than Palestine,
and one had been blown up by Palestinians for not living in Europe. One
had been a genius who could not enter medical school because he was not
Christian, and one was fed to the lions by the Romans
132 fathers, each with his own story. Each with his own test of faith. And
each with one overriding and burning desire: that this legacy be passed
unscathed to me. And one request of me: that I pass this on to you, my
sweet child.
What is this treasure that they have given their lives for? What is in this
precious packet that 132 generations have given up everything for?
It is a great secret: That man is capable of being a lot more than an
intelligent primate. That the truth of an Almighty God does not depend on
public approval, and no matter how many people jeer at you, truth never
changes. That the quality of life is not measured by goods but by the good.
That one can be powerfully hungry, and yet one can forgo eating if it is not
kosher. That a penny that is not mine is not mine, no matter the temptation
or rationalization. That family bonding is a lot more than birthday parties;
it is a commitment of loyalty that does not buckle in a moment of craving
or lust. And so much more.
This is our precious secret, and it is our charge to live it and to become a
shining display of This is what it means to live with God.
132 people have sat Seder night after Seder night, year after year, and with
every fiber of their heart and soul have made sure that this treasure would
become mine and yours. Doubters have risen who are busy sifting the
sands of the Sinai trying to find some dried out bones as residues of my
great great grandfather. They are looking in the wrong place. The residue
is in the soul of every one of these 132 grandfathers whose entirety of life
was wrapped up in the preservation of this memory and treasure. It is
unthinkable that a message borne with such fervor and intensity, against
such challenges and odds, is the result of a vague legend or the fantasy of
an idle mind.
I am the 133rd person in this holy chain. At times I doubt if I am passing it
on well enough. I try hard, but it is hard not to quiver when you are on the
vertical shoulders of 132 people, begging you not to disappoint them by
toppling everyone with you swaying in the wind.
My dear child, may God grant us many long and happy years together. But
one day, in the distant future, Ill be dressed in a kittel again as they
prepare me for my burial. Try to remember that this is the treasure that I
have passed on to you. And then it will be your turn, you will be the 134th
with the sacred duty to pass on our legacy to number 135. (
Naturally! (Not)
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffman writes: Last night, I had the privilege of attending
the hesped (eulogy) of HaRav HaGaon R Moshe Halberstam ztl, held in
the famous Bobov shteibel on Rechov Chaggai in Jerusalem. For many
years, the Bobov shteibel had the distinct honor of hosting Rav Halberstam
every day for mincha/maariv; this was why it was likewise deemed an
appropriate venue for his eulogy.
There were many great speakers, including Rav Yaakov Yisrael Meisels,
shlita, Rav of Kiryas Bobov in Bat Yam and son-in-law of the previous-
previous Rebbe ztl, and Rav Salant, shlita, who gives a derasha in the
shteibel every week during shalosh seudos. The last hesped, delivered by
R Moshes grandson, stands out in my mind.
He asked the following question: The Gemara (Eiruvin 54b) tells the
famous story of Rav Preida, who, in a monumentally selfless act of
dedication, would review each Mishna with an especially weak student
400 times! Only after 400 times would this student fully grasp the
material, and Rav Preida would not allow him to settle for anything less.
Once, in the middle of their studies, there was a knock on the door. It
seems Rav Preidas presence was requested at an urgent community
gathering. He politely told them that he was presently in the middle of
learning, and that he would come as soon as he finished reviewing the
material with his student (little did they know what that meant!).
Painstakingly, they continued to review the material 400 times, each time
going over it as if it was the first. After the 400th time, Rav Preida, as he
always would, asked his student to repeat it to him.
This time, however, he couldnt. Try as he might, he stuttered and
stumbled and just could not get things straightened out. My dear student,
said Rav Preida patiently, normally, after 400 times, you grasp the
Mishna with great clarity. Yet now, even after we have gone over it 400
times, you still stumble. What was different this time that you remain
Rebbe, the student said, from the time that they came knocking on the
door to call you, I could no longer concentrate. I kept thinking, Soon Rav
Preida will go soon he will leave.
Fine, said Rav Preida, I am here. I am not going anywhere until we are
finished. Try and concentrate, and lets start again He proceeded to
teach him the Mishna another 400 times! The second time around, he got it
At that time, the Gemara concludes, a heavenly voice rang out: Rav
Preida, take your pick: Either to live 400 years, or that you and your entire
generation will receive eternal bliss in the World to Come (in the merit of
your great dedication)!
I choose, said Rav Preida, the World to Come for me and my entire
Said HaShem to the angels, Give him both!!
An exceptional story, and an exceptional reward. But in another place, he
asked, the Gemara credits Rav Preidas longevity to something else
entirely. Rav Preidas students once asked him: Rebbe, what did you do
that you merited to live so long? (Apparently they never heard of this
His answer: I was always the first person to arrive in Beis Ha-midrash in
the morning. (Megillah 28a) Now even if they had never heard the story,
he certainly hadnt forgotten it. So why did he give them a different
R Moshes grandson answered brilliantly: There are people who by nature
are not particular about how they spend their time. For such a person, if he
were to, say, spend three hours in the hospital visiting a lonely old man, it
would be a great mitzvah, no doubt, but no great surprise. He may on other
occasions spend three hours shmuesing with some friends about matters of
no great significance. Perhaps, as a result, hell sleep in, and catch a super-
late minyan. This is not to diminish the mitzvah that he did. But for him,
giving away even big chunks of time is something that comes naturally.
But what if a person who is highly scheduled and never wastes even a
minute were to spend the same three hours keeping the old man
companynow that would be something to talk about!
The fact that Rav Preida was willing to give huge amounts of his precious
time to study with his student was in itself a remarkable feat. But taken in
the context of Rav Preidas naturethis was the same Rav Preida who
never wasted a moment, never slept in, and was always the first person to
open the beis ha-midrash in the morningit is truly astonishing!
R Moshe, his grandfather, he said, was the same way. For eight hours a
day, he would see people, answer their questions, offer them advice (daas
Torah), and help them work out their problems. As Rav Meisels said, all
over the world, old and young, rabbanim and laymenwhomever you
asked would tell you, R MosheIm very close with him! And they all
were. He gave endlessly of his time and energy to help others, always with
a smile, and never asked for anything in return.
Yet by nature, R Moshe was a very scheduled person. For many years, he
would take a nap each afternoonfor exactly 13 minutesno more, no
less. In fact, after his death, when they were looking through some of his
writings that he wrote when he was younger, it became apparent that his
extreme generosity and ever-present smile didnt come naturally. Many
times he had written in his personal diary, Today I spoke to so-and-so
impatientlyI have to work on that! Yehi zichro baruch.
The generosity of Rabbi Chaim of Sanz ztl, the holy Sanzer Rav, author
of Divrei Chaim, is legendary. R Chaim, it is said, would never retire at
night until he had completely emptied his pockets; every last penny was
distributed to the poor and destitute.
Once, it is told, a distinguished scholar approached R Chaim with a
personal problem. He had, with G-ds help, succeeded in procuring a
suitable match for his daughter. But now he was in desperate need of funds
for the wedding, dowry, and other expenses. R Chaim gave him
generously, but the man was still short a substantial amount. You know
what, R Chaim said, in the city of Dinov lives a tzaddikR David. He
is also well-to-do. Let me write you a letter. Take it to him, and hopefully
he will give you a worthy sum.
The man took the letter, and set off to Dinov. There, he met R David, son
of the renowned tzaddik R Hirsch Meilech of Dinov ztl, author of Bnei
Yisasschar. He gave him the letter. R David, who deeply respected R
Chaim, gave the man generously. Along the way, he succeeded in
collecting additional funds, and by the time he returned to Sanz, he was
satisfied that he would be able to wed his daughter with honor and respect.
He returned to the Rav to thank him for his help.
Tell me, said R Chaim, How did you do in Dinov? How much did R
David give you? The man told him. Really?! exclaimed R Chaim, I
would have thought he might have given you more generously!
Somehow, the Sanzer Ravs words were eventually repeated to R David.
Needless to say, he was hurt by the criticism. The Torah says (in this
weeks parsha, Kedoshim, 19:17): Do not hate your brother with your
heart, R David said. I interpret this as follows: One should never be
judgmental of others on the basis of ones own good heart! Everyone has
areas in which they excel. Is it my fault that I was not blessed with the
generous heart of the Divrei Chaim?!
R Davids rebuttal made its way back to the Divrei Chaim. Its a
wondrous interpretation, R Chaim remarked, however in my case,
its simply not true. I am not at all generous by nature. To the contrary, I
was always very stingy, and had a very hard time parting with my money.
Its something I grappled with for many years, until I completely
overcame my lack of generosity. All the same, R Davids point is well
We are often naturally attracted to areas in which we naturally excel. Of
course, its only right to use our G-d given gifts to serve HaShem in ways
that others perhaps cant. But true greatness is not defined only by what is
achieved in the end, but by the hurdles we had to overcome to get there.
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 5
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Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein
Mixed Intentions(1)
Any man from the Bnei Yisrael who will slaughter an ox, a sheep, or a
goat in the camp, or who will slaughter it outside the camp, and he has not
brought it to the entrance of the Ohel Moed to bring it as an offering to
Hashem before the Mishkan Hashem
Beer Mayim Chaim - In a well-known attempt to resolve the a
contradiction between passages, Tosafos(2) develop a three-tiered system
in regard to intention in the performance of mitzvos. When a person serves
Hashem with the sole intent of pleasing His Creator, he is considered as a
child to his Parent.(3) Should he study Torah and perform mitzvos not for
the sake of His Creator, he is regarded not as a child, but as a servant.
Although his service is far from perfect, he can still be regarded at least as
a servant. In performing for the ulterior motive of gaining Divine reward
and escaping the punishment of Heaven, he seems to be not serving
Hashem at all. Seeking reward and escaping punishment is really an
exercise in self-service! His point of reference is not G-d, but his own
well-being and comfort. Nonetheless, Hashem does not take such a
jaundiced view of this persons Torah and mitzvos. Although self-serving,
what animates him is the firm belief that Hashem exists, makes demands
upon us, and reliably rewards those who act according to His dictates. This
emunah is significant. It sufficed to win freedom for our ancestors from
Egyptian slavery,(4) and suffices for us to win freedom from our own
yetzer hora. It is a wonderful beginning, and can propel a person to the
next level up, in which he serves Hashem entirely for His sake. It is
enough for a person to be considered at least a servant, even if not a loving
On the other hand, a person can outwardly serve Hashem without any
positive intent at all. One who learns and serves to gain public acclaim or
project his self-importance does not really serve Hashem at all. He
believes that his success is not a matter of Divine approval or disapproval,
so much as a function of his own efforts. He thus lacks the positive aspects
of even the person who serves Hashem for the purpose of receiving reward
from the outstretched Hand from Above. He is far less than a servant.
All of this is alluded to in our pesukim. Any man from the Bnei Yisrael
who will slaughter an ox, a sheep, or a goat in the camp and he has not
brought it before the Mishkan Hashem The Torah speaks of a
person who involves himself in Torah and mitzvos but fails to take them to
the innermost place close to Hashem, i.e. he does not perform them on the
highest level, which is to act for the sake of Heaven, and for no other
reason. Such a person conceivably acts for one of two reasons: Who will
slaughter in the camp, or who will slaughter it outside the camp. On
the one hand, he might act in expectation of some Divine reward. This is
far from perfect, and in a sense enhances the power of evil, since it
operates for a cause that is removed from Hashems plan. Nonetheless, he
should still be seen as acting within the camp, rather than outside of it, for
two reasons. Firstly, he is correct in his conviction that Hashem is the
Master of all good phenomena, and holds the future of all things in His
hands. Asserting the truth of this is important and meritorious.
Secondly, the very fact that his frame of reference is HKBH even if
focusing on His ability to offer rich rewards means that he operates
within the same camp as Hashem. Therefore, from the not lishmah will
ultimately grow the lishmah.
On the other hand, the protagonist of our parshah might act in a way that
should be labeled as outside the camp. He might act merely to enhance his
pride or his image. Worse yet, he might act just to be able to be
disputatious with others. All of these place him outside the general frame
of reference of Hashems Will. He is considered outside the camp of
The Torah continues with references to both of these contingencies. To
bring it as an offering to Hashem before the mishkan Hashem. In other
words, he may be within range of Hashem, but fail to make his actions the
perfect offering to Him, which can only be done when acting completely
for the sake of pleasing Him. Or, he may fail to bring it to the mishkan
Hashem altogether, by substituting the cause of his own ego over any
connection to G-dliness.
What is the fate of the person who fails to act with the proper motivation?
Not only is his offering not a genuine offering, but at times he shares in the
responsibility for some much greater evil. He has shed blood, and that
man shall be cut off from the midst of his people.(5) Other people are
attracted, in a perverse manner, to his imperfection. Those people
sometimes go further in their failings, and commit serious transgressions,
standing to a certain extent on his shoulders.
He can therefore bears some responsibility at times, for crimes as
serious as bloodshed.
1. Based on Beer Mayim Chaim, Vayikra 17:3-4
2. Taanis 7A
3. Bava Basra 10A
4. Yalkut Shimoni 240
5. End of Vayikra 17:4
Rabbi Oizer Alport
Parsha Potpourri
Parshas Acharei Mos / Pesach Vol. 9, Issue 29
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and Points to Ponder!
" " " "
) 16:3 (
The Vilna Gaon quotes a fascinating Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 21:7)
which teaches that although all future Kohanim Gedolim were only
permitted to enter the Kodesh Kodashim on Yom Kippur, Aharon was
allowed to enter whenever he wanted throughout the year as long as he
performed the service of Yom Kippur. This amazing fact provides the key
to resolve many difficulties regarding the section in the Torah that
describes the Yom Kippur service. The Vilna Gaon points out that the
entire portion dealing with the Yom Kippur service repeatedly refers to
Aharon and not more generally to the Kohen Gadol as one might have
expected. Also, it concludes (16:34) by teaching that this service shall be a
decree for the rest of the Jews once annually. In light of the Medrash, we
now understand that Aharons performance of this service was
unrestricted, whereas for future generations it was indeed limited to once
per year.
This Medrash also explains why the Gemora in Yoma (71a) teaches that
the entire service should be performed in the order it is written in the
Torah except for one verse (Rashi 16:23) which isnt written in its proper
place. The Gemoras proof is that if the service was done in the order that
it is written, the Kohen Gadol would only have to immerse himself in a
mikvah 3 times, which contradicts the Gemora in Yoma (30a) which
teaches that he must do so 5 times. However, if we recognize that this
section is addressing Aharons service on any day of the year that he
chooses when there is no obligation to immerse 5 times we can
understand that for Aharon, this verse is written in its appropriate place.
In light of this Medrash, the Chayei Adam adds that we may also
understand why with respect to all other sacrifices, the Torah writes first
the date and then details the appropriate sacrifice. In our parsha, the date of
Yom Kippur isnt mentioned until the end (16:29) because for Aharon
these sacrifices werent limited to Yom Kippur. We may similarly explain
another difficulty. At the end of this section, the Torah concludes (16:34)
that Aharon did just as Hashem commanded him. Rashi, troubled by the
fact that he was unable to do so since it wasnt yet Yom Kippur, explains
that Aharon performed the service when Yom Kippur arrived. However,
according the Medrash, we may suggest that Aharon immediately entered
and performed the Yom Kippur service, as only he was permitted to do,
with great alacrity.
The Gemora in Gittin (60a) teaches that there are eight portions of the
Torah that were taught on the day that the Mishkan was erected, one of
which is Acharei Mos. Rashi is bothered by the fact that all of the other
portions were immediately relevant and needed to be taught at that point,
but the details of the Yom Kippur service seemingly werent applicable for
six more months. Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky notes that according to the
Medrash, we understand that it was relevant at that time, as Aharon was
able to immediately enter the Kodesh Kodashim to perform the Yom
Kippur service.
Finally, the Gemora in Yoma (53b) derives from 16:13 that if the Kohen
Gadol leaves out one of the ingredients of the incense or if he doesnt
cause the incense to create smoke, he is liable to the death penalty at the
hands of Heaven. The Shaagas Aryeh (71) questions why there is a need to
derive this point from a verse discussing the Yom Kippur service, when we
could alternatively learn it from the more general principle that because
the Kohen Gadol made a forbidden fire on Yom Kippur (since it wasnt for
the sake of doing the mitzvah properly), he is liable to the even more
severe penalty of kares (spiritual excision). Citing the Medrash, the
Steipler answers that this derivation is necessary with respect to Aharon,
who was permitted to perform this service on days of the year when
making a fire would otherwise be permitted, but improperly offering the
incense in the Holy of Holies is not.
' ) 16:30 (
The Gemora in Kesuvos (103b) relates that when Rebbi Rav Yehuda
HaNasi passed away, a piece of paper fell from Heaven. On the paper
was written that all who were present at the time of his death would merit
a share in the World to Come. Although Rebbis level of holiness and
spirituality was tremendous, why dont we find similar episodes in
conjunction with the deaths of other righteous individuals?
Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor answers that the Gemora in Yoma (85b)
records a dispute between Rebbi and the other Sages with respect to the
6 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
atonement effected by Yom Kippur. The Sages maintain that Yom Kippur
is only effective together with confession and repentance for ones
misdeeds, but Rebbi maintains that the Holiness of the day intrinsically
causes atonement and forgiveness for all. It is also known that the death of
the righteous is compared to Yom Kippur in its ability to effect atonement
(Gur Aryeh Bamidbar 20:1). Although the law is decided in accordance
with the majority of the Sages, in deference to the honor of Rebbi his death
was treated in accordance with his opinion, and all who were present
received forgiveness, even if they didnt repent.

Shortly after beginning the Maggid portion of the Seder, one or more of
the children asks the Mah Nishtanah, a series of four questions
highlighting atypical actions that we perform during the Seder. The
Abarbanel points out that there are several other unusual features of the
Seder that are not mentioned. For example, why dont we ask about the
fact that at every other Shabbos and Yom Tov meal, we begin eating
immediately after Kiddush, while at the Seder there is a lengthy delay?
Why dont we also inquire about the four cups of wine, which we are
unaccustomed to drink on other occasions, or about the saying of Hallel,
which is not a part of any other meal and is not normally recited outside of
the synagogue?
The Abarbanel explains that change can occur in one of three ways:
Something can be added, something can be removed, or something can be
switched. The first three questions that we ask at the Seder correspond to
each of these categories. We begin by asking why on other nights we eat
both chometz and matzah, but tonight we take away the chometz and eat
only matzah. Next, we ask why on all other nights we consume other types
of vegetables, but tonight we switch and eat maror instead. We then ask
why on other nights we are unaccustomed to dip even once, yet tonight we
add and dip not once, but twice.
Each of these first three questions focuses on a change in the meal, while
the final question deals with a change in the attendees, namely that on
other nights we do not recline while eating, but tonight we do so as a sign
of our freedom. In other words, the Abarbanel says that we are not
attempting to create an exhaustive and all-encompassing list of every
abnormal component of the Seder, but rather to give one example of each
type of change that we are experiencing.
Rav Eliezer Ashkenazi takes this concept one step further and suggests
that the Abarbanels explanation can help us understand that the four
questions correspond to the four sons. The wise son is satisfied with his
lot, so he questions the need to add to it by dipping twice when he is
normally quite content without dipping even once. On the other hand, the
wicked son is never happy with what he has and always desires more, so
he focuses his query on the obligation to take something away, as he asks
why we must relinquish the chometz that we are permitted to enjoy
throughout the year?
The simple son is unsophisticated and is only capable of inquiring about a
switch from that which he is accustomed to, namely why we replace the
traditional vegetables with maror. The last son does not even know how to
ask a question. The proof of this is that he observes the numerous changes
that we make at the Seder, not only to the meal, but also to our bodies
when we recline, yet none of them inspires him to ask for an explanation,
thereby demonstrating that he is incapable of asking a question.
: , , ,

The Haggadah teaches that the Torah addresses four different types of
children and instructs us how to educate each of them about the Exodus
from Egypt. Specifically, we say that the Torah discusses four sons: one
who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is simple, and one who does not
know how to ask a question. Rav Nissan Alpert questions why the
Haggadah repeats the word (one) for each son, instead of more
concisely stating : , , , .
Rav Alpert explains that although it appears that we are talking about four
different children, in reality we are actually speaking about one child who
has four different facets to him. He suggests that this is alluded to by the
fact that the numerical value of the word (13) multiplied by 4 (for the
four times that this word is repeated) yields 52, which is the numerical
value of the word (son), hinting to the fact that each child is comprised
of four different parts.
How can one person contain within him such disparate and even
contradictory elements? The answer is that children are still in their
formative years and have not yet become established in their identities.
Although they have many strengths and talents, they also have
deficiencies. Our job as parents is to take each child, with his four different
components, and raise him in a manner that will transform his latent
potential into future success and accomplishments.
Where does the Seder fit into this process? In advising us how to educate
our children, the Torah commands (Shemos 13:8) -
literally, you should say to your son on that day (Pesach). However, the
Avnei Nezer points out that the Targum renders the word into
Aramaic as , which means to show. In other words, the Targum is
telling us that the ideal form of talking to our children is not through
words, but through actions. We must certainly speak to our children and
instruct them how to behave, but that in and of itself is insufficient.
We must additionally show our children through our decisions and our
actions that we practice what we preach, just as the Haggadah specifies
that the mitzvah of recounting the Exodus from Egypt can only be
performed at the time when you have
matzah and maror placed before you as this enables our children to see
that we dont just discuss the mitzvos in an abstract philosophical sense,
but that we actually perform them as well.
) 7:17 (
After tempting Chava to eat from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, the
serpent was cursed that it would travel on its stomach and eat dust all the
days of its life (Bereishis 3:14). In what way does this represent a
punishment, as other animals must spend days hunting for prey while the
snakes diet dust can be found wherever it travels?
The Kotzker Rebbe explains that this point is precisely the curse. Other
animals are dependent on Hashem to help them find food to eat. The
snake, on the other hand, slithers horizontally across the earth. It never
goes hungry, never looks upward, and is totally cut off from a relationship
with Hashem, and therein lies the greatest curse imaginable.
Rashi writes that the first plague (blood) was directed against the Nile
River, which was deified by the Egyptians due to the fact that it never
rained in Egypt and their only source of water was the rising Nile. Rav
Shimshon Pinkus symbolically explains that just like the serpent, the
Egyptians were a totally natural people. Because it never rained in their
country, they never had to look skyward to see what the clouds foretold.
As a result, their hearts never gazed toward the Heavens, which effectively
cut them off from perceiving any dependence on or relationship with the
Almighty. Everything which occurred in their lives could be explained
scientifically and deceptively appeared to be completely natural.
In light of this, the Exodus from Egypt wasnt merely a physical
redemption from agonizing enslavement, but also represented a deeper
philosophical departure. The book of Exodus, then, is the story of
exchanging a worldview devoid of spirituality, through which everything
is understood and explained according to science and nature, for one in
which we confidently declare that Hashem runs every aspect of the
universe and of our daily lives, and we are proud to be His chosen people.
' ) 8:18 (
During his travels, Rav Yisroel Salanter once entered an inn at which he
had stayed several times previously. Rav Yisroel noticed that the
innkeeper had significantly deteriorated in his level of religious
observance since his most recent visit. The innkeeper explained that the
change was due to an atheist who had recently lodged there.
The guest spent several days sharing his philosophy about the lack of a
Divine system of reward and punishment. Finally, to prove his case, he
took out a sandwich filled with non-kosher meat. He announced that if
hes wrong, he should choke on the sandwich and die an agonizing death.
The atheist proceeded to consume the entire sandwich with no apparent
consequences. Ever since, the innkeepers religious belief and observance
had slowly weakened.
Rav Yisroel didnt respond to the story. He chose to wait for the right
opportunity, which wasnt long in coming. Later that day, the innkeepers
young daughter returned home from school. She was glowing and excited
about receiving her diploma, with especially good marks in the areas of
singing and mathematics. Rav Yisroel asked her to sing for him so that he
could judge her talents for himself, but she grew bashful and refused. He
went to inform the innkeeper that his brazen daughter refused to sing for
their respected guest.
The innkeeper summoned his daughter and demanded an explanation. She
told him that the entire purpose of her diploma was to prove her talent
once and for all. She argued that it was in fact their guest who was being
unreasonable in demanding that she perform according to his whims just
because he refused to believe her established record.
Hearing this, Rav Yisroel told the innkeeper that two of the great early
commentators the Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 21) and Ramban (Exodus
13:16) explain that the reason the Torah contains so many mitzvos
as a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt is because it
was in Egypt that Hashem proved His power and providence through the
numerous miracles he performed for the Jewish people once and for all.
Rav Yisroel concluded by pointing out that just as the innkeepers
daughter rightfully refused to lower herself and perform on demand for
whomever may doubt her diploma, so too Hashem already established
Himself for all time through the events of the Exodus and has no further
need to prove Himself to every doubter who comes along throughout the
Now that we understand the significance of the events which are detailed
in these Torah portions, we can appreciate why the Chiddushei HaRim
suggests that they be analyzed as comprehensively as yeshiva students
study a page of the Gemora with its commentaries. The Chofetz Chaim,
wanting to make the events recorded in these portions come alive, actually
pictured them occurring in front of his very eyes. These images were so
realistic that as he reviewed our portion, which contains the first seven of
the ten plagues, he literally laughed out loud as he envisioned the suffering
being meted out to Pharaoh and the Egyptians in the middle of his study.
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 7
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) How is it possible that a healthy person ate on Yom Kippur a quantity
of edible food larger than the size of a large date in a normal manner and
in less than two minutes, and yet he is exempt from punishment for eating
on Yom Kippur (16:29)? (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 612:6)
2) How is it possible that somebody became Biblically impure and was
able to become pure without having to wait for sunset? (Ibn Ezra and
Ayeles HaShachar 16:26)
3) Almost all of the forbidden relationships are bi-directional, in that they
apply both to older generations and to younger generations. For example,
just as one is prohibited to have relations with his mother or mother-in-
law, he is also forbidden to have relations with his daughter or daughter-
in-law. One notable exception is that a person is forbidden to have
relations with his aunt (18:12-14), yet it is permissible to marry ones
niece. Why is this prohibition different than all of the others in this regard?
(Peirush HaRosh, Seforno 18:6)
4) How is it possible that a person has a perfectly kosher bottle of red wine
available at the Seder, yet ideally he should refrain from drinking it?
(Mishnah Berurah 175:2)
5) At the end of the Seder, in the section called , we sing
next year in Jerusalem. This is one of two times that we
express this sentiment, the other being at the end of Yom Kippur. What is
unique about these two occasions that specifically motivates us to pray that
next year we should be celebrating in Jerusalem, more than on any of the
other Yomim Tovim?
6) Is a person obligated to own the matzah that he eats to fulfill his
obligation at the Seder (Shemos 12:15), and if so, if he is a guest, is he
required to perform an action to acquire the matzah that he will eat? (Sfas
Emes Sukkah 35a, Imrei Binah Hilchos Pesach 24, Mishnah Berurah
454:15. Shut Btzeil HaChochmah 4:172, Shut Tzitz Eliezer 2:37 and
13:15, Moadim UZmanim 3:266, Shut Mishneh Halachos 8:191, Piskei
Teshuvos 454:2)
7) Although Hashem commanded Moshe (14:16) to lift up his staff and
stretch out his arm over the Red Sea in order to split it for the Jewish
people, the Torah relates (14:21) only that he stretched out his hand over
the sea in order to do so. Did he also raise his staff as he was commanded,
and if so, why is no mention made of it in the Torah, and if not, why did
he deviate from Hashems instructions? (Targum Yonason ben Uziel 2:21
14:21, Shemos Rabbah 21:9, Rashi 17:5, Rosh, Rabbeinu Bechaye, Tur
HeAruch, Kli Yakar, HaEmek Davar, Ayeles HaShachar)
8) How were Miriam and the women allowed to sing the Shiras HaYam
(15:21) when the law is (Even HaEzer 21:1) that a man is forbidden to
hear a woman outside of his immediate family singing? (Peninim
MiShulchan HaGra, Tiferes Yonason, Nachal Kedumim)
Answers to Points to Ponder:
1) The Shulchan Aruch rules that if a person eats food at the beginning of
Yom Kippur, when he is still so full from the meal that he ate before the
fast began that he finds the food loathsome and has no benefit from it, he is
exempt from punishment.
2) Although a living animal is ritually pure, the Torah decrees that the man
who is in charge of transporting the goat to Azazel on Yom Kippur
becomes ritually impure as soon as he exits the walls of Jerusalem. After
completing his mission, the Torah requires him to immerse both his
clothing and himself in a mikvah, at which point he may reenter the Jewish
camp. The Ibn Ezra comments that the immersion alone suffices to render
him pure and he is not required to wait until sundown. Rav Aharon Leib
Shteinman notes that this is quite unusual, as it is the only case of a
person who is Biblically impure yet is able to become pure even before
3) The Seforno maintains that the Torah prohibits relations between close
relatives, both going directly up the family tree (such as one's parents and
grandparents) and going down (one's children and grandchildren).
Additionally, marriage to any relative who is one step removed from this
line is also forbidden. These lines are determined in relation to the man,
and for this purpose, a woman has the same legal status as her husband. As
a result, it is forbidden for a man to marry his father's sister, as she is one
step removed from his father, who is her sibling. However, it is
permissible for a man to marry his niece, as she is the daughter of his
brother, and as such, she is two steps removed from him. Alternatively, the
Rosh explains that part of a woman's function in marriage is to serve her
husband, and if a man's aunt were to serve him, it would be considered
disrespectful to his parents for one of their sisters to serve their child.
However, the reverse is not true and a man is not required to serve his
wife. As a result, there is no problem for a man to marry his niece, as he
will not serve her and there is therefore no disrespect to his sibling who is
the parent of the niece.
4) The Mishnah Berurah rules that one should (preferably)
refrain from bringing a new and higher-quality bottle of wine to the Seder
table to drink during the actual meal, as doing so would obligate him to
recite the blessing (which is said when consuming wine that
is superior to the wine over which the blessing was initially
recited, but which was not present at that time), and reciting this blessing
when drinking wine gives the appearance that one is drinking a fifth cup.
5) Pesach and Yom Kippur are unique in that they are the two festivals on
which we are presently unable to perform the primary mitzvah associated
with them due to the absence of the Beis HaMikdash. On Pesach, the
central component is the Korban Pesach (Passover-Offering), and on Yom
Kippur, the focus is supposed to be the service of the Kohen Gadol to
obtain forgiveness on behalf of the Jewish people. We certainly yearn for
the Beis HaMikdash every day of the year, and even more so on every
Yom Tov, but our present inability to serve Hashem in the proper manner
is most pronounced on Pesach and Yom Kippur, so we specifically
conclude each of them with a prayer that the following year we should
merit observing them properly in the rebuilt Yerushalayim.
6) The Mishnah Berurah rules that a person is required to own the
matzah that he uses to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah at the Seder.
The S'fas Emes adds that it must completely belong to him, such that he
could sell it or use it to betroth a woman. He therefore cautions guests to
make sure to perform a legal act of acquiring the matzah from their hosts.
However, he notes that most people are not accustomed to do so, and he
suggests that they rely on the fact that when the host gives them the
matzah, he does so with the implicit intent that it will belong to them so
that they can use it to perform the mitzvah. The Imrei Binah notes that the
Torah doesn't explicitly write the requirement to own one's matzah but it is
derived using Talmudic principles. Therefore, one need not actually own
the matzah, and it is sufficient that the host gives him permission to eat it.
The Tzitz Eliezer quotes an earlier source who agrees with this opinion.
Even if one does need to perform an act to acquire the matzah, Rav
Betzalel Stern and Rav Menashe Klein suggest that guests legally
acquire the matzah when they begin to chew it, and when they swallow it,
it indeed belongs to them. Still, Rav Moshe Shternbuch writes that he
knows of many great Rabbis who were careful to actually transfer
ownership of the matzah to their guests, which may be done even on Yom
Tov for the sake of a mitzvah, and some recommend that guests give a
small amount of money to their hosts before Pesach in order to acquire the
matzah that they will eat at the Seder.
7) The Targum Yonason writes that Moshe did use the staff to split the
water. This also seems to be the opinion of Rashi. The Rosh, Tur, and
Rabbeinu Bechaye explain that the word , traditionally understood to
mean lift up can also be interpreted to mean set aside, which is
supported by the Medrash. There were Jews and Egyptians who claimed
that Moshes strength was solely from his staff, which he had used to
perform the plagues, so Hashem insisted that he split the water with his
hand without the assistance of the staff. The Kli Yakar suggests that
Hashem made this point specifically at this time because He wanted
Moshe to perform each miracle in the manner it was decreed in Heaven.
Because the ten plagues are described as emanating from Hashems finger
(8:15), Moshe performed them using his staff, which resembles a finger.
The splitting of the Red Sea is connected to Hashems hand (14:31), so He
wanted Moshe to split it with his hand without the staff.
8) The Vilna Gaon answers that for this reason the verse says that Miriam
answered the men, meaning that she told them that they could sing, but the
women in fact could only say the words due to the prohibition against
singing in the presence of men. Rav Yonason Eibeshutz suggests that for
this reason Miriam and the women took instruments with them, so that the
din of their instruments would drown out their voices so that they could
sing without being heard by the men. The Chida cites the Gemora in
Niddah (13a), which rules that certain activities which would normally be
forbidden because they could lead to forbidden thoughts are permissible
when in the presence of the Shechinah. Since Chazal teach that there was a
tremendous revelation of the Divine presence at the Yam Suf, the women
were permitted to sing in front of the men without being concerned that it
may lead to inappropriate thoughts.
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Rabbi Yitzchak Botton - Ohr Somayach
The Pesach Relay Race
In every generation a person is obligated to see himself as if he had come
out of Egypt. (Pesach Haggada)
The night of Pesach, one of the most festive and well known of the year,
memorializes the birth of the Jewish Nation. We drink lots of wine as we
tell over, in detail, the age-old story of the exodus from Egypt. Recalling
the great miracles and events that were witnessed by over three million
people, we are meant to connect with the story in a personal way. In fact,
many consider this story as their own.
But can this story which happened so long ago really have anything to do
with the Jews of today?
According to Kabbalah the Jewish People, although innumerable, are in
truth all individual parts of one general soul. Just as a body, despite being
made up of two hundred and forty eight limbs and three hundred and sixty
five sinews, is one entity, so too the countless individual souls of Israel are
in essence united as one. With this in mind we can gain a deeper
understanding of how the story of Egypt affects us.
Let us consider a relay race. When each individual runner is running, he
represents all of the runners. If he takes the leading position, all of the
8 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
future runners share in that position. And if he falls back, they all fall
What the Jews accomplished through the harsh Egyptian exile is shared by
all of the future generations as well. So although a Jew living today was
not actually a slave in Egypt, by virtue of his connection to those that
were, he benefits. And in turn, he must also allow those that were in Egypt
to benefit from him as well.
How does he do that? When he continues to race forward towards the
finish line, he does it for all of the past generations of Jews that lived
before him, including those that actually left Egypt. While if he were to
quit racing for whatever reason, then all of the generations of Jews that
came before him would also be out of the race.
In light of the above we can gain new insight into ones obligation to see
himself as if he went out of Egypt. Since a person living today was
obviously never in Egypt, this cannot be taken literally. However, in a
deeper sense, if a Jew of today has a connection to the Jews that left
Egypt, then, by virtue of that connection, it is as if he went out of Egypt
too. As mentioned above, the implied message is that it is also as if I,
through my actions, take the Jews that left Egypt with me, affecting them
for good or bad depending on what I choose to do.
Now if there was a Pesach Seder in Heaven, so to speak, we could say that
their Haggada would read, We are obligated to see ourselves as if we are
experiencing what our descendants are doing in the world today.
We specifically focus on those who were redeemed from Egypt, because
spiritually, if they never left Egypt the burden to escape from there would
fall on us. However, through their suffering we were spared from the
burden of the Egyptian slavery, and we are therefore indebted to them and
must continue to work for their sake, as well as our own, for the future
redemption. May it be speedily in our days.
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Rabbi Shlomo Caplan
Mishulchan Shlomo
Rabbi Caplan On The Parsha Mishulchan Shlomo
Pesach - Ask Me A Question
Rav Chaim Soloveitchik asks, How is this night of Pesach different from
all other nights? On every night of the year there is a Mitzvah to
remember the Exodus from Mitzrayim. In what way is the Mitzvah to
recite the Haggadah on Pesach night different?
One difference that Rav Chaim describes is the requirement to follow a
question and answer format. This not only defines the procedure for the
Seder, but it is also the framework of all productive chinuch (education).
A question puts the student into the center of the discussion. It is an
interactive experience. The answer is not merely a monologue but a
response to something the student feels he needs to know. In this way the
student is more likely to properly digest and retain the information.
A question also helps to define the topic of discussion and set its
parameters. It demands a response that is clear and accurate. In this way
the question enlightens the teacher as well as the student. Rebbi Chanina
declared, I have learned much from my teachers, even more from my
colleagues, and more from my students than from anyone else.
After Reish Lakish passed away, his teacher Rebbi Yochanan was
inconsolable. Although his students attempted to ease his pain by extolling
his lectures, Rebbi Yochanan exclaimed, Are you like Reish Lakish?
Whenever I would say anything, he would ask twenty-four questions, I
would give twenty-four answers, and the topic was clarified.
Indeed, the question-answer format strengthens the relationship between
teacher and student. Through a sincere desire to arrive at a clear and true
explanation, a sense of mutual respect and admiration develops. The
Gemara in Maseches Kiddushin (30b) asserts that although the discussion
may become heated and even contentious, at the conclusion there will be
only love.
There is, however, one type of question which does not deserve an answer.
Thats the rhetorical question, for in truth it is not really a question; it is a
statement. That is the question of the Rasha, the wicked son. It is a wise
father or teacher who can distinguish the rhetorical question from the
genuine one. Sometimes it is the choice of words. Sometimes it is the tone
of voice. However, Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz insists that in reality, it takes a
true discernment of the personality or the agenda of the asker. Thus,
although the questions in the Haggadah of the wise son and the wicked son
are extremely similar, the father knows who is who.
Whether at the Seder, in the classroom or during the daily interactions of
parents and children, learning and spiritual growth take place in an
atmosphere which encourages and welcomes sincere and thought-
provoking questions.
To subscribe to this weekly Dvar Torah, email
HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Midei Shabbos
Vol. 21 No. 29
This issue is sponsored by the Intract Family l'iluy Nishmos Yosef ben Yitzchak
Halevi and Faigy a"h whose Yohrzeit is 28 Adar Rochel bas Zev and Chana
Aidel a"h whose Yohrzeit is 16 Nissan
Parshas Acharei-Mos (Ha'Gadol)
The Changing Morality of the Egyptians
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)
"Do not emulate the deeds of Egypt, in which you dwelt, and do not do
the deeds of Cana'an, where I am taking you, and do not go in their
ways' (18:3).
The Medrash extrapolates from this Pasuk that the Egyptians were the
most depraved and perverted nation in the whole world. And what's more,
says the Medrash, the words "in which you dwelt", indicate that it was
Yisrael who were responsible for Egypt's depravity.
But how can Yisrael be blamed for Egypt's depravity, asks the Oznayim
la'Torah, when Chazal tell us that Yisrael in Egypt were on an extremely
high level of morality and that only one woman (among hundreds of
thousands) behaved immorally?
Moreover, the Medrash informs us, when Yosef came to Egypt, he
guarded himself against immorality, as his encounter with his mistress
indicates, and that the Egyptian men took their cue from him and did
So we see that if anything, the Jewish people had a positive influence on
the Egyptians, and not the opposite!
To answer the question, the Oznayim la'Torah draws a distinction between
our laws and customs and those of the nations. We have been given a
Heaven-based Torah, which we observe, irrespective of whether we are
successful in our daily lives or not. Success is not a reason to follow the
path of Torah; nor is failure a reason to deviate from it. Ours is a religion
of faith, and if things appear to go wrong, we apply the Pasuk "A Tzadik
lives on his faith". A Jew understands that when things go wrong, it is his
behavior that he must change. Not his religion!
Not so the nations of the world, whose man-made laws and customs are
based on earthly values. Consequently, when one nation succeeds in
conquering other nations, people tend to look up to them with admiration
and to adopt some of their customs, because they assume that their
customs breed success and are therefore worth emulating.
This is not the case with a nation that has been conquered and has lost its
independence. There, people will shun their customs, for fear that the way
of life that brought about that nation's downfall will bring about their
downfall too.
With this, says the Oznayim la'Torah, we can understand what happened
in Egypt. When the Egyptians saw Yosef leave prison and become viceroy
of Egypt, they witnessed a tremendous success-story unfolding before
their very eyes. Duly impressed, they were keen to adopt his exemplary
Midos, above all, his outstanding Midah - Tzadik (morality). But that was
Meanwhile, Yisrael became their slaves, humiliated and tormented, their
children thrown into the river or used as bricks in the walls of buildings.
These were no longer people whom they wished to emulate. On the
contrary, the good Midos of their slaves were things to avoid, and avoid
them they did, degenerating to the point that they became the most
depraved nation in the world.
Living By The Mitzos
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)
" Observe My statutes and My judgements which man (ha'Adam) will
do and live by them (va'chai bahem), I am Hashem" (14:5).
From this Pasuk, the Gemara in Sanhedrin (Daf 74) learns that Mitzvos are
meant to be a source of life, not of death. Consequently, whenever life-
danger is involved, one should rather transgress than risk one's life, with
the three exceptions, that is, of the three cardinal sins idolatry, adultery
and murder.
The obvious question, points out the Oznayim la'Torah, is seeing as the
Parshah goes on to talk about adultery and incest (one of the three
exceptions that override life), why does the Torah insert "va'chai bahem"
here, when basically, it does not apply here? Elaborating further, he
reminds us that even Rebbi Yishma'el, who maintains that idolatry is
included in "va'chai bahem", concedes that both murder and adultery are
not - the former, since logic dictates that it is forbidden, since who says
that 'my blood is redder than my friend's?', the latter, because the Torah
compares it to murder. So why does the Torah insert "va'chai bahem" here,
where at first glance, it is not applicable?
Initially, the author suggests that the Torah inserts it, because, based on the
Gemara there (Daf 59), wherever the Torah uses the word "ha'Adam"
(with a 'hey'), it comes to include B'nei No'ach. And since the word
"ha'Adam" is used here, the Torah is coming to tell us that a Nochri is not
obligated to give up his life in order to observe one of his seven Mitzvos.
In any event, he isn't subject to the Mitzvah of Kidush Hashem, so his
inclusion in the Mitzvah of "va'chai bahem" makes good sense.
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 9
He refutes the suggestion however, based on the opinion of Tosfos there
(DH 'ben No'ach', that "va'Chai bahem" was said to Yisrael, and not to the
B'nei No'ach.
In one of his two answers to the initial question (why the Torah needs to
"va'Chai bahem" specifically in the Parshah of Arayos, where one is
obligated to give up one's life), the Oznayim la'Torah therefore explains
that it is necessary to exempt women from giving up their lives even with
regard to committing adultery. The significance of this leniency is due to
the fact that as long as a woman remains passive (which is why Chazal
refer to her as 'Karka Olam'), she is not subject to the sin of adultery (as
the Gemara writes in Kesubos, Daf 3). Consequently, "va'Chai bahem"
comes to teach us that, not only is a woman who is forced, on pain of
death, to commit adultery, not obligated to refuse, but that she is forbidden
to do so.
He does point out however, that this Chidush is confined to the opinion of
the Rambam, in whose opinion "va'Chai bahem" overrides Kidush
Hashem. It will not hold water however, according to the Poskim who
permit someone who is Patur, to give up his life in order to sanctify G-d's
Pesach Supplement
The Ten Plagues
(Adapted from the Hagodas Kehilas Ya'akov)
'These are the ten plagues that G-d brought upon the Egyptians in
The words 'in Egypt' seem to be superfluous, suggests Maran R. Chayim
To explain why the Ba'al Ha'godoh inserts it, he cites a Mechilta, which
explains that the Pasuk in Bo (13) 'And I will smite every firstborn in the
land of Egypt" comes to include other nationalities who were in Egypt,
whereas the Pasuk in Tehilim (136:10) "To the one who smote Egypt with
their first-born" comes to include Egyptians who lived elsewhere. This was
true of Makas Bechoros; but all the other plagues took place within the
borders of Egypt exclusively,
And it is because all ten plagues took place inside the country, and only
Makas Bechoros taking place also outside its borders, that the Torah added
the word "in Egypt" to the text.
Most of the following explanations, just like the previous one, are given by
Moran Chayim Kanievski (Sh'lita).
The Torah writes that the fish died (7:18) - who would have thought that
they would survive in a sea of blood? - to teach us that it was real blood
and not just water that magically had the appearance of blood.
Commenting on the Pasuk (8:2) "And a plague of frogs came up", Rashi
explains that the Torah writes 'frog' (in the singular), to teach us that
initially, only one frog appeared, and it was only when the Egyptians
began striking it with their sticks, that swarms began to emerge from it -
the more they struck it, the more the swarm of frogs increased.
Common sense dictates than when such a scenario occurs, one stops
striking the frog to stop the plague in its tracks, says R. Chayim. But
common sense and anger do not make a good match. And anger dictated
that the more frogs that broke off from the original, the more reason to
give vent to one's anger. And that's what happens when a major quarrel
breaks out between two sides. Common sense dictates that one swallows
one's words before the quarrel gets out of control. But anger prevails, and
hurtful words fly until the small fire escalates into a uncontrollable
Rashi explains that the Egyptian sorcerers were "unable to create lice or
even to bring them from other locations, because the demons employed by
the sorcerers were powerless over creatures that were smaller than a
The question remains however, why did they not produce them by means
of witchcraft?
To answer the question, he cites the Gemara in Sanhedrin (Daf 44b),
which describes how Shimon ben Shetach rendered eighty witches
powerless to do him harm by having them lifted off the ground. By the
same token therefore, the Egyptian magicians were unable to produce lice
by means of witchcraft since, as the Medrash tells us, the entire terrain of
Egypt was covered with carpet of locusts one Amah thick. Consequently,
since there was no empty piece of ground to stand on, they were powerless
to produce locusts even via witchcraft.
Wild Beasts
"And I will distinguish on that day the land of Goshen on which my people
are standing" (8:17).
Why, asks R. Chayim, does the Torah add the words "on which my people
are standing"?
And he explains that it is to teach us that, even if an Egyptian tried to
escape to the land of Goshen, where no Jews were being threatened, he
would not find refuge there, since it was only on the ground on which a
Jew stood that was 'safe'. The moment an Egyptian entered Goshen, he
was no better off than he was in Egypt.
"And G-d will draw a distinction between the cattle of Yisrael and the
cattle of Egypt" (9:4).
G-d made this distinction with all ten plagues, observes R. Chayim, so
why mention it here?
By the plague of pestilence it was necessary to stress that none of the Jews'
animals died, he explains, because Moshe had told Par'oh that the plagues
were only to force him to let Yisrael go and sacrifice to G-d in the desert.
Consequently, had their animals died too, Par'oh would have turned round
and accused Moshe of lying, and that the plagues were really meant to
punish his people. The fact that the Jews' animals were spared prevented
him from presenting any such argument.
In the Tochacha (the rebuke) in Ki Savo, the Torah refers to "the boils of
Egypt". Rashi there (Devarim 28:27) explains that the boils in Egypt were
particularly virulent, inasmuch as they were wet on the inside and dry on
the outside, as the Gemara explains in Bechoros (41a).
The Stypler z.l. points out that the Gematriyah of the words "sh'chin
Mitzrayim"(the boils of Egypt) is equivalent to that of 'zeh hu lach
mi'bi'fenim ve'yavesh mi'ba'chutz'(this is [boils that are] wet on the inside
and dry on the outside).
By all the other plagues that Torah relates how "Par'oh called Moshe and
Aharon". Why here, asks R. Chayim, does it use the expression " Par'oh
sent for and called Moshe and Aharon"(9:27)?
By all the other plagues, he explains, Par'ah sent his slaves to plead with
Moshe and Aharon, and 'the hand of a slave is like the hand of his master'.
Here however, this was not possible, due to the prevalent hailstorm that
threatened the life of any Egyptian who went outside. So he had no option
other than to send people from B'nei Yisrael, who were able to walk
outside without fear.
And he cites the Yerushalmi in D'mai, which rules that although a Nochri
cannot be a Shali'ach for a Nochri, a Yisrael can.
"There had never been locusts like that, nor would there ever be" (11:14).
Rashi explains that the plague that occurred in the time of Yo'el was
actually heavier than that of Moshe, only whereas that plague comprised
four species of 'locusts', this one consisted of the species known as 'Arbeh'
exclusively - and as plagues of Arbeh go, there was never another one like
it. Why, asks R. Chayim, did G-d not send the Egyptians a wide variety of
locusts? After all, we are told, they suffered fourteen different species of
lice, and twenty-four of boils, so why only one species of locusts?
And he quotes the Medrash, which explains how the Egyptians rejoiced
over the locusts when they first saw them, because they anticipated
pickling them - a sumptuous delicatessen in those times. Not that they
succeeded in doing so, since, as Rashi points out, they were all carried
away, but their initial reaction was one of excitement. And it was to
minimize their initial excitement that G-d sent them only one species of
locust, and the smallest species to boot.
Rashi, on the Pasuk "Not one locust remained", quotes a Medrash that
even the pickled locusts flew out of the jars and were blown away together
with the live ones. This is borne out says the Stypler, by the Gematriyah of
"one locust" which is equivalent to that of 'af ha'meluchim" (even the
pickled ones).
Rashi poses the question why G-d sent the Egyptians the plague of
darkness, and he answers that it was to enable Yisrael to bury the four-
fifths of their numbers who died, without the Egyptians being aware of it,
and in order to take note of where the Egyptians hid their valuables, which
they subsequently asked to 'borrow'.
The question is what prompted Rashi to question the reason for the plague
of darkness more than for any of the other plagues?
R. Chayim ascribes it to the uniqueness of darkness, inasmuch as, unlike
all the other plagues, it may have limited their movements, but it did not
cause them harm in the way that the other plagues did.
The Slaying of the Firstborn
Rashi points out that the Egyptian women would commit adultery with
other men, with the result that they often bore a number of firstborn
children, the first one, the firstborn of its mother, the subsequent ones, the
firstborn of their father. And each of these firstborn died during the plague
of Makas Bechoros.
R. Chayim cites the Pasuk in Tehilim (75:51) which supports this
explanation -"All the firstborn in Egypt (with reference to the firstborn of
their mother) the first of their strength in the tents of Cham (with reference
to the firstborn of his father),
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Aish.Com Rabbi Yosef Farhi
Life Coaching from the Parasha
Acharei Mot - Giving Rebuke
A certain psychologist was concerned as to exactly how he should respond
to a patient who confesses his sin, looking for acceptance and
understanding. "On the one hand, if I do a "blame shift" or lighten the
severity of the sin, allowing the patient to feel that he could face himself in
10 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
the mirror, then I may be forgoing the mitzvah of giving rebuke. And if I
tell him that he was wrong, then things could get much worse. The
solution I found so as not to be sitting by passively while the person is
pouring out a litany of his transgressions is to ask him if he thinks that
what he did was the right thing to do. Then, I show him genuine respect
for admitting his failures and mistakes. This somehow helps the person
feel comfortable and not embarrassed to see me even after therapy."
Many times we hear about the mitzvah of giving rebuke and wonder:
should I be saying something to the child? Should I tell the person just
how bad his/her actions are?
The Talmud (Bava Metziah 31a) tells us that the repetition of the Hebrew
words "rebuke and rebuke" comes to teach that one must rebuke even one
hundred times! There are different ways to understand this. One approach
is that sometimes the person giving the rebuke is not worthy of saying
what needs to be said. And at other times, the person who sinned is not
ready to hear what he is supposed to hear. It may be that only after one
hundred times both prerequisites can be met: that a person can actually say
what needs to be said to the person who really needs to and can hear it.
This is an interesting twist on that piece of Talmud. However, I have found
the following to be very valuable. The Torah says "Rebuke your friend,
and do not bring sin upon yourself because of it." This can be interpreted
to mean that if you do not give rebuke, you are guilty of sin. When
understood on a basic level, this can seem stressful. However, there is a
deeper meaning here. The words also mean "do not put a sin on him". The
Chavot Yair (also see Zohar) explains this to mean that when one gives
rebuke, he should not let the person feel that he is a wicked person. Rather,
he should say things that can uplift him - "such acts are not befitting either
for you or for your level of character". Do not make him feel as if he is a
sinner; rather, that he is a righteous person who has sinned. An external act
- that is not to be identified with the one who performed it. Labeling a
person with a title of "sinner" or evildoer causes the person to feel
disabled, disarmed and depressed.
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Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
An Incredibly Inspiring Chapter of
Passover Seder Law
April 9, 2014
This article originally appeared at
SederPlate_smWhen it comes to inspiration, most Orthodox Jews turn to
glorious books of Mussar, or historical legends about our Torah sages, or
fiery speeches by modern day orators, or the latest inspirational
story, or other Torah content that is heavy on encouragement or equally
overloaded with deprecation. When it comes to Jewish law, we study
Halachic texts. We dont expect to find inspiration in legal works.
But Halachic text can be inspirational too. For example, Aruch
Hashulchan, Orach Chaim 484.
The original text of OC 484in the Tur and Shulchan Aruch dryly
discusses the codification of the Rif regarding the procedure for one who
is, for some unknown reason, making blessings of the Seder in more than
one home. Its fairly straightforward and uninteresting. This is standard
Talmudic and post-Talmudic legalism. Conjure up an obscure situation
and use it as a test case to demonstrate the limits of the law. In this case,
the laws that dictate how and where one must eat their Seder meal and
perform the Seder rituals. The practical law is not relevant to the point of
this article.
Interestingly, in his halachic work, R Epstein pretty much invents (unless
he gets it from another source that I have not been able to find) the
circumstances of this quirky law. The Aruch Hashulchan, OC 484 begins
this section with this introduction: One who has neighbors who dont
know how to make the blessings and perform the Seder rituals, and he has
no choice but to make a Seder for his neighbors, should perform the Seder
on their behalf in the following manner. Later he says, that if the
neighbors cant read Hebrew he should recite the blessings with his
neighbors word by word. He references this idea of teaching his neighbors
how to do the Seder several times throughout the section. And not just at
one home. The law is speaking about an individual who is going from
home to home to home in order to help all his neighbors make a proper
Seder. Thus, the dry law found in the Tur and Shulchan Aruch is not
merely an abstract construction designed to test the limits of the law. In
fact, the law is relevant to a very practical and possibly common situation.
The chapter is about a Good Samaritan who abandons his own Seder for
the sake of his neighbors who dont know how to do a Seder on their own.
I cant help but feel a surge of love and pride for R Epstein and his
imaginary, but surely very real, hero of this section of halacha. This man is
incredible. Of course he does his own Seder. And of course he does it well.
When he proclaims at his Seder that All who want to partake may come
and join us, no one comes. But he knows that his neighbors are clueless
as to how to make a Seder. He knows that they are not enjoying their own
Seders. So he finishes his Seder in a timely manner, leaves the comfort of
his home, and gets to work on assisting as many people as he can in the
great Mitzvah of reliving the Exodus via the Seder. He is a giant of Jewish
Late 19th century Belarus had many pious, practicing Jews. But
apparently, many were apathetic or simply ignorant of the Seder traditions.
(Yes, even in the shtetl, there was Social Orthodoxy and religious
greenhorns.) Would these people be able to make a Seder on their own?
Certainly not. So would they just miss the entire Seder process? R Epstein
would not stand for that. It was either assumed that more educated
neighbors would obviously be out all Seder night helping their neighbors
who needed a Seder, or perhaps R Epstein was making an oblique
suggestion that people should get out and help their neighbors. Its a grand
view of the role of the practicing Jew and R Epstein almost demands that
this be our approach to the non-practicing Jew. Reaching out to others is
I was inspired by this chapter of Aruch Hashulchan. I was inspired by the
clever reframing of an obscure legalistic exercise into a spectacular
practical lesson in caring for our fellow Jew. Fortunately, it seems we have
embodied this monumental lesson into our modern Pesach Seders. So
many people host Seders with incredibly diverse groups of their Jewish
brothers and sisters. The level of education and familiarity with the rituals
ranges from expert to novice. But all are included. An emphasis on Jewish
education and modern technology gives us all easy access to attaining
familiarity with the Seder and its traditions. We can all assist others and
help them participate in a Seder. Lets do our best to make sure that there
is no one who needs to look up the laws of 484 this year. Make sure that
everyone has a Seder to attend. Theres also enough time to learn about the
Seder in time for Monday nights big event. All the Jewish people
experienced the exodus and tasted freedom together. The Seder belongs to
all of us. Take ownership and share the joy of the Seder freely and
Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D., is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the
Beach in Venice, CA. Connect with Rabbi Fink through Facebook, Twitter or email.

Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Chamishoh Mi Yodei'a
5 Questions And Answers On Parshas Acha'rei Mose 5774 - Bs"D
Please send your answers and comments to: Sholom613@Rogers.Com
1) Ch. 16, v. 1: "Va'y'da'beir Hashem el Moshe acha'rei mose shnei
bnei Aharon" - And Hashem spoke to Moshe after the death of two
sons of Aharon - Rashi comments: "Mah talmud lomar?" He then brings
the parable of Rabbi Elozor ben Azarioh of two doctors who warn a
person. What bothers Rashi with the beginning of our verse, how does the
parable answer his concern, and how is it alluded to in the verse itself?
2) Ch. 16, v. 2: "Ki be'onon eiro'eh" - Because in a cloud I shall be
seen - It was the opinion of the Tzidokim that first one lights the incense
and only after it is already smoking, does the Kohein Godol enter the Holy
of Holies, and this seems to be the simple understanding of these words.
However, they are wrong, as we see from the mishnoh in the 1st chapter of
Yoma. Nevertheless, what is the "pshuto shel mikra" application?
3) Ch. 16, v. 16: "Hashochein itom b'soch tumosom" - Who rests with
them in their defilement - Rashi (gemara Yoma 56b) says that these
words teach us that even when the bnei Yisroel are ch"v defiled through
their sins, Hashem does not forsake them, and still rests among them.
When does Hashem distance Himself?
4) Ch. 17, v. 13: "Chayoh o ofe asher yei'ocheil v'shofach es domo
v'chisohu be'ofor" - An undomesticated animal or a bird that may be
eaten and he spilled its blood and he shall cover it with earth - Why does
this law apply only to "chayoh" and "ofe," but not to "b'heimoh," a
domesticated animal?
5) Ch. 18, v. 18: "V'ishoh el achosoh lo sikoch" - And a woman to her
sister shall you not take - Why doesn't the verse straightforwardly state,
"V'achos ish't'cho lo sikach," and the sister of your wife you shall not
#1 On Dvorim 2:17 Rashi says that when Hashem addresses Moshe, the
term "va'y'da'beir" is considered a soft way of communicating, from which
we may conclude that "va'yomer" is a harsh way of communicating.
Commentators are puzzled with this, as in other places Rashi says the
exact opposite, as does the gemara Makos chapter 2. This was answered
and explained in a beautiful manner in a previous issue on parshas Dvorim
in the name of B'eir Baso'deh.
In any case, for Moshe, "dibur" is "rach" and "amiroh" is "kosheh."
Possibly, Rashi is bothered with our verse starting off with "va'y'da'beir"
and the next verse with "va'yomer." Why the repetition and why the
change of words? This is answered by Rabbi Elozor ben Azarioh. One
doctor spoke to a person who was afflicted with a disease, advising him to
avoid certain things. Another did the same, but added on that non-
compliance could be fatal, as it was to his acquaintance. The second doctor
did a much better job of advising him, as he made him aware of the
severity of non-compliance. This is the intention of first writing
"va'y'da'beir," a soft way of speaking (the first doctor), and then being
repetitive, but in a stronger manner, "va'yomer" (the second doctor).
(Nirreh li)
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 11
#2 The Sforno on our parsha says that Aharon had permission to enter the
Kodesh Hakodoshim any day provided that he made the sacrificial
preparations. This is actually stated in Toras Kohanim. The Sforno adds
that the required cloud when it wasn't Yom Kipur was the "ana'nei
haKovod," clouds of glory. They were indeed there AHEAD of his
lighting. (Nirreh li)
#3 Chovas Halvovos in shaar avodas hoElokim 4:9 says that haughtiness is
worse than an actual sin. The Holy Baal Shem Tov offers a compelling
proof for this statement. The gemara Sotoh 5a says that Hashem cannot
countenance a haughty person. Yet, from our verse the gemara derives that
Hashem can tolerate a defiled sinner.
This lesson was brought down to practical terms by the Apter Rov, Rabbi
Yehoshua Heshel, author of Oheiv Yisroel. He once came to a community
and was offered lodging in one of two homes, that of a very religious and
scholarly person who was renown for his haughtiness, and the other of a
simple person who was not totally Torah observant. He immediately
responded that he would lodge with the simple irreligious person. People
were quite surprised at his choice, and he responded that he wanted to
emulate Hashem. Just as He manages to rest even among defiled
irreligious people, but not with an inflated person, he too would do the
#4 The Rokei'ach in #319 says that this is based on a medrash that says
that when Eliezer returned with Rivkoh to his master Yitzchok, he said
that if Yitzchok finds that she has no virginal blood it is not because
Eliezer violated her. It is because during their return she fell off the camel
and her virginity was broken. They retraced a bit of their steps and found
where this happened. The blood was protected by undomesticated animals
and birds. The Rokei'ach says that because domesticated animals did not
come to take part in the protection of the blood, they do not merit having
this mitzvoh done with their blood. (Chid"o in Chomas Anoch)
#5 The gemara P'sochim 119b relates that in the future the righteous
personalities of the Torah will partake of a meal. At the end of the meal
Yaakov will be asked to lead the grace after meals. He will decline,
saying, "I do not deserve to lead the bentching because I have married two
sisters, something that the Torah would in the future prohibit to ME." This
is quite puzzling. The prohibition is not "to ME." It is a universal
We can say that the Torah should have said "v'achos ish't'cho lo sikach,"
but changed it to "v'ishoh el achosoh lo sikoch" to allude to Yaakov
specifically. He intended to marry Rochel and not Leah. Once he was
aware of the exchange he knowingly married Rochel afterwards. This is
"v'ishoh," Rochel the "akeres habayis," the one Yaakov intended should be
his wife, "el achosoh," in addition to her sister Leah. (Chanukas haTorah)
A Gutten Shabbos Kodesh.
Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Chasidic Insights
Chasidic Insights Parshas Acha'rei Mose From 5765 Bs"D
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Ch. 16, v. 2: "Hakapo'res asher al ho'orone" - One should repent,
"kapo'res," before he begins to study Torah, symbolized by the Holy
Tablets that are contained in the Holy Ark. (Noam Elimelech)
Ch. 16, v. 2: "Ki be'onon eiro'eh al hakapo'res" - Those who believe in
"Torah sheb'al peh" explain these words to mean that only after the Kohein
Godol enters the Holy of Holies should he light the incense, which will in
turn create a smoky cloud. Those who do not believe in the oral law say
that the intention of these words is that the Kohein Godol light the incense
before he enters the Holy of Holies (see gemara Yoma 19b, 53a). The
words of the written Torah are exact, while "Torah sheb'al peh" is not
always clearly evident from the actual words of the Torah. This is
symbolized by the smoky cloud created by lighting the incense. This is the
disagreement over where to ignite the incense and create the smoky cloud.
Those true to "Torah sheb'al peh" say to light the incense in the Holy of
Holies, right in front of the Holy Ark, which houses the Holy Tablets, the
symbol of the written Torah. The Rabbinic interpretation of the Torah goes
together with the Written Torah. They are both true and inseparable. The
non-believers say to light the incense in the outer room, creating the
smoky cloud there, and only then to bring it in to the Holy Ark. This
alludes to their false opinion that the Oral Torah is not part and parcel of
the Torah, and that the Oral Torah is the independent innovation of the
Rabbis, who bring it from the outside to the Holy Ark and the Holy
Tablets, the Written Torah. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 16, v. 3: "B'zose yovo Aharon" - Aharon shall come with THIS, the
prohibition to come whenever he wishes of the previous verse. After
hearing that he may not enter at his whim, he is humbled, and this in itself
prepares him to enter. (Rabbi Yisroel of Modzitz in Divrei Yisroel)
Ch. 16, v. 4: "Bad kodesh" - Doing mitzvos when no one sees you doing
them is holy. (Rabbi Mordechai Yoseif of Radzin in Tiferes Yoseif)
Ch. 16, v. 16: "V'chi'per al hakodesh" - Even the holy acts a person
does require atonement. They are sometimes done with the intention to
show off, or some other ulterior motive. (Agro D'kaloh)
Ch. 16, v. 16: "Hashochein itom b'soch tumo'som" - Hashem rest His
Holy Spirit within the bnei Yisroel even if they are ch"v defiled (gemara
Yoma 56b), but not if they are haughty. (Baal Shem Tov)
Ch. 16, v. 22: "El Eretz g'zeiroh" - The scapegoat is brought to the earth,
which has a decree against it, "aruroh ho'adomoh." Man is made of this
earth, so how is he expected to be perfect? This claim itself brings
atonement. (Rabbi Yekusi'eil Yehudoh Grunwald of Siget in Yeitev Lev)
Ch. 16, v. 30: "Ki va'yom ha'zeh y'cha'peir a'leichem l'ta'heir es'chem
mikole chatoseichem" - Through the sanctity of the day you will have
some atonement. However, there is some residue of the sin still present. To
rid yourselves of this you must purify yourselves as well, "a'leichem
l'ta'heir es'chem." Then it will be a total cleansing, "mikole chatoseichem."
(Rabbi Boruch of Mezhbizh in Botzina Dinhora) A Gutten Shabbos Kodesh.
Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Oroh V'Simchoh
Meshech Chochmoh On Parshas Acharei Mose - Bs"D
Ch. 16, v. 4: "V'rochatz bamayim es b'soro ulveishom" - In all other
places that the Torah prescribes immersion in a mikveh, the verse says
"v'rochatz b'soro bamayim," first mentioning what is to be immersed,
"b'soro," and only afterwards "bamayim." Here we find the order reversed,
"bamayim es b'soro." The mishneh Yoma 34b relates that the Kohein
Godol would descend to immerse himself, ascend, and sponge himself dry.
The Mishneh L'melech hilchos avodas Yom haKippurim 2:2 questions the
need to sponge himself dry. He offers that it is either because we fear that
when he immersed himself in the mikveh he might have picked up some
object that stuck to his body, and halacha requires that nothing intervene
between his body and his garments, or that the water itself might be an
intervening object.
The Meshech Chochmoh explains that the gemara Z'vochim 18b derives
from the word BOD in our verse that the garments of the Kohein Godol
must be as good as new. This disqualifies using a garment that was soiled,
even if it was laundered and there are no stains left. If the Kohein Godol
were to not dry himself after immersion his wet body would detract from
the crisp newness of his garments.
This is why the verse switches the order of the words. By saying
"bamayim es b'soro," the verse is stressing that the water should only go
onto his body and not onto the garments he will put on afterwards. This
necessitates the need to dry himself.
Ch. 18, v. 28: "V'lo soki ho'oretz es'chem b'tamaachem osoh kaa'sher
ko'oh es hagoy" - The verse seems to contradict itself by saying that you
will NOT be expelled when you DO contaminate the land.
A number of interpretations:
You will not be treated as the heathen nations who have occupied this land
before you and have been ejected, but rather:
1) Not only will you be expelled, but you will also suffer the punishment
of excision, "ko'reis," as stated in verse 29, "v'nich'r'su hanfoshos ho'osos.
(Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi)
2) If you fulfill the words of verse 26, "ushmartem v'lo saasu," then
you will be saved from punishment. Translate "V'lo" as LEST. (Rabbeinu
3) You will also be expelled, but in a manner which will be more severe
than the expulsion of the heathen nations. (Rivo)
4) They have only been expelled, but did not suffer the punishment of
"ko'reis." You, however, will not be expelled, but will be punished with
"ko'reis." (Baalei Hatosfos)
The Toras Kohanim 20:123 (mentioned in Rashi) compares sinning in
E.Y. to a prince who had a sensitive digestive system, as he was used to
only the finest of foods and delicacies. Any coarse alimentation would
upset his system. Similarly, E.Y. is very sensitive to sins. Those who sin
would be expelled. The Meshech Chochmoh says in the name of his father
that according to the above parable, if the prince continued to eat coarse
food he would eventually grow accustomed to it and would successfully
digest it. Likewise, if E.Y. would ch"v be subject to continuous sinning, it
would also become desensitized. This can be the meaning of our verse.
The land will NOT vomit you even though you defile it, as it has expelled
the previous occupants of the land. At that time the land was still sensitive.
However, it has unfortunately become accustomed to the sins, and instead
your punishment will be excision, as per verse 29, "v'nich'r'su hanfoshos."
I believe that this interpretation fits in best with the 4th explanation offered
above by the earlier commentators.
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Rabbi Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Sedrah Selections
Sedrah Selections Parshas Acha'rei Mose 5774 Bs"D
Ch. 16, v. 2: "V'al yovo b'chol eis el hakodesh" - And he shall not
come at anytime to the holy - The gemara explains the words "Osseh
tzedokoh v'chol eis" to refer to the person who financially supports his
wife and children. One might think that he has reached the apex of sanctity
through totally involving himself in a livelihood. Another person might
forsake all his financial responsibilities to his wife (a contractual
12 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
responsibility in the kesuboh) and children and totally immerse himself in
Torah study and other mitzvos, and think that he has thus reached "el
hakodesh." The golden middle is the correct path. (Korbon He'oni)
Ch. 16, v. 3: "B'zose yovo Aharon el hakodesh" - With this Aharon
may enter the Holy - The previous verse says "V'al yovo b'chol eis el
hakodesh." With this, the control he exhibits of not entering just any time,
he becomes elevated and may enter on Yom Kippur. (Sfas Emes)
Ch. 16, v. 3: "B'zose yovo Aharon el hakodesh" - With this Aharon
may enter the Holy - He actually enters the Holy of Holies so why does
the verse not say "el kodesh hakodoshim?" Although in our jargon the
inner chamber is called the "kodesh hakodoshim" the verse says that he is
only entering the "kodesh" because there is a location that is even holier.
This is on top of the "kaporres," from whence the words of Hashem
emanate to Moshe. (N'tzi"v)
Ch. 17, v. 4: "V'el pesach o'hel mo'eid lo heivi'o dom yeichosheiv
lo'ish hahu" - And to the opening of the tent of meeting he has not
brought it it will be calculated as if that man has spilled blood -
The ante-deluvian law was that no one was allowed to slaughter an animal.
When the Torah introduced permission in parshas Noach it was limited to
when all applicable laws were adhered to and otherwise the law reverts to
ante-deluvian law. This is why when a person slaughters his offering
outside the Mikdosh compound it is as if he spilled innocent blood.
Ch. 18, v. 2: "V'omarto a'lei'hem ani Hashem Elokeichem" - And you
shall say to them I am Hashem your G-d - It seems from these words
that Moshe was commanded to say "I am Hashem your G-d," something
that sounds as if Moshe is ch"v saying that he is Hashem. The gemara
Sukos says that we say on Sukos "Ani Voho hoshio na." this is explained
as two Holy Names of Hashem derived from the three verses that are in a
continuum in parshas B'shalach that each has 72 letters, and through a
system 72 groups of three letters each are derived. They are called the 72
letter Holy Name of Hashem. This is the intention here as well. Tell the
bnei Yisroel that "Ani Hashem Elokeichem," three words that are all
Hashem's Names has said (Haksav V'hakaboloh) Obviously this is
quite a chiddush. I wonder if based on this insight a sofer should sanctify
this word with kedushas Hashem.
Ch. 18, v. 5: "Asher yaa'seh osom ho'odom vochai bohem" - That a
person shall do and shall live in/from them - Don't do mitzvos by rote!
Put life and spirit into your mitzvos. (Holy Admor of Kotzk)
He will live INSIDE them. Even when a person just plans to execute a
mitzvoh, a holy spirit from above descends and envelopes him. This
sanctity intensifies when he actually does the mitzvoh. He literally exists
inside the cocoon of the mitzvoh. (Nefesh Hachaim)
One is to put his whole life into the fulfillment of mitzvos. The mitzvoh
itself puts life back into the person. This is why Nodov and Avihu died.
Although they put their whole being into bringing fire to Hashem, they
nonetheless died because there was no command to do so. (Chdushei
One should draw his raison d'etres from mitzvos and from no other source.
No "I really come to life when " (Chidushei Hori"m)
One should draw his life sustenance from the Torah. This also refers to
"olom ha'zeh." If you want to have a happy, meaningful "olom ha'zeh,"
work on preparing for your "olom habo." (Nisoyon hachaim)
Live only through Torah and mitzvos. Without them life is devoid of any
meaning. The Rambam writes that there are three sins for which a person
should rather give up his life than transgress, and he is prohibited from
offering his life rather than transgressing any other of the mitzvos. If he
gives up his life for any other mitzvoh it is as if he has committed suicide.
Rabbeinu Yeruchom says that one may be stringent and give up his life for
another mitzvoh as well. The Ram"o and Sha"ch write that a holy upright
Chosid may give up his life for a lesser mitzvoh if he is sure that it will
bring a sanctification of Hashem. This opinion seems quite hard to
comprehend, as the gemara clearly states only three cardinal sins. Based
on our verse that a person draws his life's sustenance from mitzvos, we
have a bit of a grasp of this opinion. (Yismach Moshe)
Ch. 18, v. 5: "Vochai bohem ani Hashem" - And shall live in/from
them I am Hashem - When a person does mitzvos with enthusiasm then
"ani Hashem," Hashem is present. (Rabbi Aharon Hagodol of Karlin)
Ch. 18, v. 6: "Ish ish" - A man a man - This is one of four places in our
parsha that we find this expression. By the other three the verse goes on to
say "mi'beis Yisroel," but not here. This is because in the other places the
law under discussion only applies to the bnei Yisroel. Here, where the
verse is discussing sins of improper unions, goyim are also included, and
hence no "mibnei Yisroel." (Tosfos Brochoh)
Ch. 18, v. 21: "Umizaracho lo si'tein l'haavir lamolech" - And from
your children shall you not give to pass through molech - This
prohibition is mentioned in the middle of the list of forbidden unions to
teach us that even if a person ch"v begot a child from a union that carries
the penalty of excision, and the child is a "mamzeir," nevertheless, the
Torah prohibits offering the child to molech. (Taama Dikra)
Ch. 18, v. 21: "Umizaracho lo si'tein l'haavir lamolech" - And from
your children shall you not give to pass through molech - The greatest
bond a person has is to his family. His children are his greatest love.
Molech's service was to give up one's greatest love to this deity. Hashem
does not want this. He wants us to nurture our greatest bonds. (Mei
Ch. 18, v. 28: "Kaasher ko'oh es hagoy asher lifneichem" - As it has
expelled the nation in front of you - Hashem had an original plan to
create the world with strict judgment and later, when it came to the actual
creation, He brought mercy in as well. The closer to the source of creation
the stricter it is. We find this in other matters as well. The Holy of Holies
does not allow fir the entry of even a Kohein, and even the Kohein Godol,
who is allowed to enter, it is only at restricted times, with much
preparation, i.e. offering of korbonos and ketorres. There were areas of the
Mikdosh campus where only Kohanim were allowed, but only with
preparation, and then there were areas where even bnei Yisroel were
allowed. The further from the source, the more lenient in what it can
absorb, i.e. the less "din" and more "rachamim." Eretz Yisroel is so holy
that it cannot maintain sinners, but "chutz lo'oretz," which is not holy, can
endure sinners. (Arvei Nachal on parshas Breishis)
A Gutten Shabbos Kodesh.
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Rabbi Yissocher Frand
Parshas Acharei Mos
These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand's
Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: Tape # 854 - Tattoos: Totally Taboo? Good
The Message of the Lottery of the Two Goats
A major component of the Yom Kippur Temple Service involved the ritual
of the "Shnei Seirim" [two goats]. Two goats were taken and stood in front
of the opening of the Tent of Meeting. Lots were drawn assigning one goat
to Hashem and one goat to 'Azazel'. The former was slaughtered and
offered on the Mizbayach in the Mishkan / Bais HaMikdash; the latter was
pushed off a remote cliff in the dessert. This Yom Kippur requirement of
choosing a Korbon by lot ('goral') is unique in the Temple ritual.
The Akeidas Yitzchak offers a beautiful insight into this concept of 'goral':
In the future, we will each be held accountable for what we do and what
we do not do in this world. Different people have different spiritual traits,
varying strengths and weaknesses in matters of the soul. There are
students, for example, who can sit and learn for hours on end. They have
the patience and the intellect and the spiritual desire to sit in a Beis
Medrash [Study Hall] hour af ter hour after hour studying Torah. There
may be other equally bright young men who just do not have the patience
to sit and study for hours on end.
This tendency will impact a person's experience and level of success and
accomplishment during the years he spends in Yeshiva. It will continue to
impact his learning level and degree of knowledge and spirituality
acquired throughout his life. We are all held accountable for our actions.
The studious person after 120 will go to the World of Truth and get
reward for all the hours and years he spent studying Torah, even though it
may have come relatively easy to him. What about the person who did not
have the patience to sit and learn? Will he be punished for not having
accomplished something he was apparently not given the tools of patience
and studiousness to accomplish?
The same question can be raised regarding other human personality traits.
Some people by nature are very calm and serene. It takes a lot to ge t them
angry. Because of their natural temperament, they never lose their temper.
There are other people who are not like that. They fly off the handle. They
have no patience. They have a nervous makeup and they get angry very
often. Is it truly 'just' that they should be held accountable after 120 years
for not being as calm and serene through all of life's stresses as their fellow
man who was born with a calm personality and makeup?
The answer is that the Master of the Universe takes all of this into account.
"The Rock -- perfect is His work" [Devorim 32:4]. The Justice He metes
out is perfect. Everyone is given appropriate reward and punishment that
factors in their particular upbringing and nature. We do not need to worry
that we will be held to the same standards as the next fellow. The
Almighty knows that people are different by nature and they react to
things differently. The True Judge will judge with true fairness.
This is the message of the two goats and the associated drawing of lots.
The word 'goral' in Hebrew means two things. It means lots but it also
means fate. Yom Kippur is about Repentance and Forgiveness. The
Almighty is sending us a message by the ritual of drawing lots over the
goats. We must ask ourselves: Why does this goat go to Hashem and the
other one go to Azazel? It is not their fault! That is the way the lot came
out and that is their destiny. Hashem will take it all into account.
This does not necessarily mean that if a person has trouble learning, he is
off the hook or if the person has a short temper, he has license to fly off
the handle and does not need to worry about spiritual consequences. No,
this is not so! But on the other hand, it is also not the case that a person is
judged by a universal standard without factoring into account varying
differences of personality and natural tendency. This is the message of the
lottery determining that one Goat goes to G-d and the other Goat goes to A
The Message of The Deaths Of Aharon's Two Sons
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 13
The Daas Zekeinim m'Baalei haTosfos on our parsha quotes a Medrash
that clearly speaks to our times. The Medrash, discussing the death of
Aharon's two sons, who were consumed by fire for having offered a
"foreign fire" on the Mizbayach, links this incident with a pasuk in
Tehillim [78:63]: "Fire consumed His young men, and His maidens had no
marriage celebration." The Medrash comments: Why were the two young
sons of Aharon consumed by fire? It was because they allowed the young
maidens to go unmarried. In other words, they were punished for not
having gotten married themselves. Many young maidens remained single
waiting for the prospect that one of these two very eligible bachelors
would marry them.
Nadav and Avihu said to themselves (according to the Medrash) "Our
uncle (Moshe Rabbeinu) is King, our father (Aharon) is the Kohen Gadol,
our other uncle is Prince, we are Vice-Priests (Seganei Kehunah) which
woman is good enough for us?" That is why they n ever got married. They
thus died without children.
The Daas Zekeinim m'Baalei haTosfos uses this Medrash to explain an
apparent redundancy in the pasuk: "After the death of the two sons of
Aharon when they approached before Hashem and they died." [Vayikra
16:1]. The first expression "After the death" refers to their own death; the
second expression "and they died" refers to the fact that they died childless
and had no one to carry on their lineage."
We need to understand that we are speaking about Nadav and Avihu, who
our Sages say were righteous individuals, pillars of the world. We cannot
speak of their faults in the same way that we speak of the faults of other
people. We do not understand who they were and we certainly cannot
ascribe pettiness to them. Moreover, I am acutely aware because of the
position I occupy, how difficult it is sometimes for a young man to find a
suitable marriage partner. There are certainly young men who try and try
and try as they might, yet they cannot readily find their destined soul-
mate. This is not always because of over pickiness or pettiness. Sometimes
they get turned down; whatever it is, this is sometimes the reality.
However, all that having been said, the lesson we need to learn from this
Daas Zekeinim m'Baalei haTosfos is that Nadav and Avihu rejected too
many girls because they thought that they were not good enough for them.
Part of what is happening in our society today - and this is a crises in our
society - is that there are so many single men and single women who are
not getting married. Again, I am not making universally applicable
accusations, but certainly PART of the problem is that people are looking
for perfection. The girl needs to have everything. She needs to be beautiful
and she needs to have money and she needs to have yichus and she must
have this and must have that, the list goes on. If they do not fit all the
categories on my list, she is not good enough for me (and vice versa).
The problem is that we have become such a pampered society and we can
achieve perfection in so many areas of life that we think we can achieve
perfection in 'shidduchim' as well. We can order a car and the car can be
exactly to our liking from the exterior color to the interior color to the
sound system, to all the options and bells and whistles. Forget cars -- we
can go into the coffee aisle of the supermarket. It used to be that there was
Folgers and Maxwell House, and that was it. Today, there are so many
options of how to order a cup of coffee -- to custom design it to one's
ultimate taste of perfection that we expect to be able to custom design
our future spouses as well! The problem is that people are not cars and
they are not coffee. People are NOT perfect. One should not expect to
achieve perfection in this area of life.
We need to stress and stress again to our single young men and women in
the community that we cannot achieve perf ection in a shidduch. The 'list'
has to be cut down to one or two major items and that is it! If there is any
lesson we can take out from the tragic death of Nadav and Avihu, this is
that lesson.
This write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Torah CDs on the weekly Torah Portion. CDs or
a complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail or visit for further information. To Support Project Genesis- Transcribed by David
Twersky Seattle, WA; Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman, Baltimore, MD RavFrand, Copyright 2007 by Rabbi Yissocher Frand and Join the Jewish Learning Revolution! The Judaism Site brings this and a host of other classes to you every week. Visit or email to get your own free copy of this mailing. Need to change or stop your subscription? Please visit our
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602-1350 FAX: (410) 510-1053

Rabbi J. Gewirtz
Migdal Ohr
A publication dedicated to Harbotzas Torah
Volume 16 Issue 29 P Achrei Mos Shabbos HaGadol Pesach 5774
Speak to Aharon, to his sons, and to all the Children of I srael and say
to them, This is the thing that HaShem has commanded, saying:
(Leviticus 17:2)
Moshe was commanded to convey this message to the Kohanim and all the
Jews that when one brought a sacrifice, it had to be in the Mishkan, and
not anywhere the wished. One who sacrificed outside of the permitted
boundaries was liable for kareis, early death.
The Kohanim had to be given the command because it was they who
would perform the sacrificial rituals. The Jews likely needed to hear it so
they did not attempt to bring a korban somewhere else.
Though it applies in the Bais HaMikdash as well, what is unique about this
command at that time is that in the desert the Jews were not permitted to
eat meat on their own. If they wanted to eat meat, it had to be part of a
korban Shelamim, a peace-offering.
This subjugation of the desires is key to the phrasing of our posuk, this is
the thing HaShem has commanded. It conveys to us that the way to
follow the Torah is as a soldier receiving orders from a commanding
officer. We do it not because it makes sense to us, symbolized by the
desire to eat meat, but because it is part of our service of G-d.
While the Chacham, the wise son, asks for details of all the rituals
HaShem commanded us, the Rasha, the wicked son, is looking for a reason
before complying. What is this ritual about? Why should I do it? Such
arrogance pushes away the Shechina, HaShems countenance.
Yes, we should seek to understand the reasons behind the mitzvos, but at
the end of the day, we do them because this is what HaShem commanded
Moshe at Sinai. Being able to subdue our personal desire to understand
and carry out the mitzvos simply because HaShem commanded us to do so
shows that we have evolved beyond our human nature.
The Torah was only given to those who ate the mon, say Chazal.
Perhaps this is one explanation for that. Only those who ate the mon, but
held back from eating meat unless it was a korban, were at the level of
accepting the Torah as the will of G-d without their own biases.
The Haggadah tells us that the more one speaks of the events of the
Exodus, the more praiseworthy it is. To highlight this, it tells the story of
five great sages who spent the entire night discussing the story of Yetzias
Mitzrayim until their students came to tell them it was time to recite the
What is the significance of the fact that it was their students who told it to
them, and that it was time for Shema? Could they not have said it was time
to pray, or that it was the morning?
Perhaps the purpose of expounding on the story of the Redemption is to
gain a better understanding of the mastery of the Al-mighty. By discussing
each act, we discover more about how He controls everything. However,
its possible for one to get carried away with his ideas.
The students came to remind their teachers that when all is said and done,
no matter how great you are in expounding on the Torah and delving into
its depths, you still fulfill it as a student fulfills his teachers will,
accepting the yoke of obedience even if you do not grasp why. The Shema
represents that understanding that G-d is unique and we dont have to
understand it all.
It is said that when Henry Ford bought parts for his Model T, he insisted
that the parts be sent in crates made to his very specific instructions, down
to where to put the screws. Not wanting to give up such a lucrative
account, the parts suppliers gladly had the crates made the way Ford
wanted. While they complied, the suppliers could not imagine what
difference it made what kind of crate the parts came in as long as they got
to their destination.
When the parts arrived, however, Fords workers were instructed not to
use crowbars to tear open the crates. The wooden crates were then
disassembled and became the floorboards for the famed Model T, with
holes for the screws already in the proper places! There was a plan behind
his orders, and the seemingly random holes and cuts in the crates were all
a part of it.
Dont Try This at Home
A fellow who was known as quite a joker had an interesting custom at the
Seder. When he reached the part that read, Maror zeh, this bitter herb, he
would point at his wife!
All joking aside, there is actually a custom brought down in German
Haggadas that upon saying those words, one points to his wife.
Incredible? Heres the story.
R Moshe Meir Weiss Shlita offers two insights to why such a custom
might be instituted.
First of all, Chazal tell us that when the Egyptians enslaved the Jews, they
resorted to psychological warfare as well. Part of that entailed giving men
work that was typically reserved for women, such as child-rearing, sewing,
and other home-based work.
At the same time, the women were forced to do back-breaking manual
labor. This role reversal caused not only physical pain, but mental anguish.
Therefore, when we say that the Egyptians embittered their lives with hard
work, we point to the women, who were subjected to the hardest labor.
Also, the Midrash says that the slavery was intended to keep down the
Jewish population, so only married people were enslaved, giving an
incentive not to wed and have a family.
By pointing at the wife, we highlight that the man was willing to endure
bitter labor because she was worth it. But still, dont try this at home.
Thought of the week:
No one will turn down a good meal just because he doesnt understand the
digestive mechanism.
In memory of our father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Rabbi Dr.
Max Schay zl
Sponsored by the Itzkowitz family
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14 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc

Rabbi Sender Haber
Out of the Loop
Good Idea? (Acharei Mos)
After the death of Aharons two sons Moshe came and told Aharon that he
should not enter the Kodesh Hakodashim.
Rav Yosi Haglili confirms that the sons of Aharon had been killed as a
punishment for their entry.
Something seems wrong here. If the sons were punished for bringing a
strange fire or for being intoxicated, one could argue that they had been
warned. But here there was no hint at all that the brothers were not allowed
to enter the Holy of Holies. Why the punishment?
One could argue that we are dealing with cause and effect but that does not
seem to be the approach of Rav Yosi Haglili.
I think the answer lies in a Medrash Rabba. The Medrash says that the
sons committed four sins. They entered the Holy of Holies, they brought a
strange fire, they brought the wrong sacrifice, and they did not consult
with one another.
Some explain cleverly that there is a sin for more than one person to enter
the Kodesh Hakodashim at a given time. Since Nadav and Avihu didnt
collaborate they ended up coming together and they died.
I think the explanation may be much simpler:
Whenever we embark upon something holy, exciting, and new, we need to
humble ourselves and check with somebody else. There is certain
arrogance to saying, there is one spot on earth that is holier than any other
and I am going to be the first one to enter it. It may come from a good
place and it may even be a good sentiment, but Nadav and Avihu should
have at the very least conferred with one another before taking the step.
The Torah is acquired Bchavrusa and Beitzah through companionship
and advice.
Perhaps the brothers were punished for entering because they should have
consulted with someone else first. Maybe they would have come up with a
different idea. Maybe they would have realized that only Aharon should
go in, and only on Yom Kippur, and only for a minute.
This was Moshes message to Aharon. Your sons cannot be excused for
entering the Kodesh Hakodashim on their own. You didnt enter. You
waited to discuss it with me. I am here as your brother to tell you that it is
a good idea.
Aish.Com - Rabbi Ari Kahn
M'oray Ha'Aish
Acharei Mot - Rectification
The parasha begins with an ominous frame of reference: "After the deaths
of the two sons of Aharon." The deaths of Nadav and Avihu are recounted
earlier in the Book of Vayikra, although some five chapters, laden with
commandments, separate the tragic events of day of the Tabernacle's
consecration from the Torah's response to those events in our present
parasha. In fact, the content of the commandments that are transmitted in
this parasha may be regarded as no less ominous than the events that frame
them: In this chapter, God conveys the laws that constitute the Yom
Kippur service. The Day of Atonement, first instituted here, will be a
constant in Jewish life for all time, yet this first Yom Kippur must have
raised mixed feelings for Aharon. On the one hand, Yom Kippur marks the
day that Moshe obtain forgiveness from God for the sin of the golden calf;
on the other hand, Aharon played no small part in that sin.
We find ourselves at a strange intersection of the two great tragedies in
Aharon's life: the deaths of his children and the sin of the golden calf. One
wonders if the thought ever crossed his mind that these events might be
From our perspective, the Yom Kippur ritual seems to contain echoes of
both of these tragedies. The sin committed by Nadav and Avihu that led to
their deaths was bringing incense that they were not commanded to bring.
Conversely, the climactic moment of the Yom Kippur service is the entry
of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies and ignites the incense to create
a cloud, as per the precise instructions recorded in this parashah. On Yom
Kippur, this cloud and the scent it carries somehow facilitate forgiveness,
whereas in the case of Aharon's sons, the result was the polar opposite.
A cloud of a different kind was a central aspect of the Revelation at Sinai.
The cloud was a visual representation of God Himself descending, as it
were, to the physical plane in order to rendezvous with His people and
give them the Torah. Later, Moshe ascended into the cloud to bring down
the Tablets of Stone, the physical testament to the Revelation. While
Moshe was at the summit of Mount Sinai, the sin of the golden calf
unfolded; as a result, the Tablets were shattered. Thus, in a very real sense,
the giving of the Torah, the completion of the process that began as the
cloud descended on the mountain, was "ruined" by the golden calf. The
cloud dissipated, as did the protective clouds that had accompanied the
Israelites as they left Egypt. Only on the tenth day of Tishrei, precisely one
year before the events recorded in Parashat Aharei Mot, on the day that
would become known as Yom Kippur, the people were forgiven and
Moshe was given a new set of Tabletsand as a result, the clouds which
protected the Jewish people soon returned. Now, on that same date one
year later, Aharon and his descendants are commanded to recreate the
cloud, to enter the Holy of Holies in a cloud of incense. This cloud, on this
day, will effectuate forgiveness.
In the Yom Kippur ritual, God elegantly addressed both failings: By
commanding Aharon to bring incense, God instructed Aharon to do what
his sons had done, with one crucial difference: They had now received a
commandment. There would be no free-style, spontaneous worship;
approaching the holiest place on earth would be permitted only through
precise adherence to the Word of God. On the other hand, the cloud of
incense would recreate the atmosphere at Mount Sinai on the day the
Torah was first given. Yom Kippur captures both the exalted moment
before the sin of the golden calf and the day the Torah was finally received
- the day God forgave them for their terrible transgression and Moshe
descended with the second Tablets of Testimony. This same day becomes,
for all time, a day on which we can return to a more pure state, cleanse
ourselves of our sins, and make a new commitment to accepting God's
commandments - which is the very core of repentance, the very essence of
the day. God even accepts our clumsy, misguided attempts to relate to Him
by transforming those very same actions into commandments that lie at the
heart of the Day of Atonement, creating the dynamic that recasts our sins
as mitzvot.
By commanding Aharon to do precisely what his sons had done - to
recreate the cloud of Revelation and seek out intimacy with the Divine -
God allows each and every one of us to experience that intimacy every
Yom Kippur. When we approach this intermingling of holiness and
intimacy properly, even the most profound transgressions can be forgiven.
For a more in depth analysis see:
motkedoshim.html Torah for Pesach:
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Rabbi Avraham Kahn
Torah Attitude
Pesach: Wicked Son, Wicked Son, What Have You Done?
April 10, 2014
There are different answers to the wicked son in the Haggadah and the Torah.
A factor of ignorance is underlying the mockery of the wicked son. When the
Jewish people roasted their pesach offerings they would see how useless the
Egyptian idol was. The Patriarchs brought a pesach offering before the exodus
from Egypt. The deeper levels of the commandments are known only to G-d.
The commandments educate us and affect our whole psyche. Even the wicked
son has a truly holy soul, only his ignorance has brought him to his negative
attitude. Every child is different. There is a way to deal with each one.
In the Haggadah, we read about the four sons: the wise one and the wicked
one, the simple one and the one who does not know how to ask. The wicked
son says, "What is this service to you?" On this the Haggadah reflects, "To
you, but not to me! Since he excludes himself from the group, he denies
everything. You should give him a blunt answer and say, Because of this, G-d
did [miracles] for me, when I left Egypt. With this answer the Hagaddah hints
that since he excludes himself he would not have been part of the redemption.
For me but not for you! If you had been there, you would not have been
saved!" (Meam Loez Haggadah, p.32).
All the questions of the different sons are mentioned in the Torah. We find the
question of the wicked son in Parashas Bo where it says (Shemos 12:26-27):
And it shall be when your children say to you, What is this service to you?
You shall say, It is a pesach offering to G-d, Who passed over the houses of
the Children of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians but He saved our
households. This seems strange. Why does the Haggadah not give the same
answer to the wicked son as the Torah?
Wicked Son
The question is even bigger. For the Haggadahs answer to the wicked son
actually appears in the Torah a little later (Shemos 13:7-8): "And you shall tell
your son on that day saying, It is because of this that G-d did [miracles] for
me, when I left Egypt". To add to the confusion, this is also what we tell the
son who does not know how to ask in the Haggadah.
Simple Son
Further on in the parasha it says (Shemos 13:14): "And it shall be when your
son will ask you in the future, What is this? You shall say to him, With a
strong hand G-d took us out of Egypt from the house of bondage". This
question is asked by the simple son in the Haggadah, and in this case the
Haggadah gives the same answer as the Torah.
Mocking Undertone
The Beis Halevi (one of the great Rabbis of Brisk) points out the difference
between the way the Torah instructs us how to deal with the wicked son and
the simple son. The simple son asks a straight question and we give him a clear
answer. The wicked son has a mocking undertone in his question. The Torah
instructs us to say a straight answer. But if we analyze the exact wording, we
see that the Torah just instructs us what to say, not to address it to him.
Whereas, in the answer to the question of the simple son, the Torah says
explicitly you shall say to him. The reason is, says the Beis Halevi, that the
Torahs answer is not necessarily addressed to the wicked son himself. Rather,
this answer is intended for those that are genuinely interested to understand and
want to get closer to G-d. On the other hand, the Haggadah responds to this son
directly and gives him a message with a hint, in response to his mocking. G-d
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 15
performed miracles for me, to enable me to live a life of Torah and mitzvot. If
you, wicked son had been there, with your attitude, you would not have been
redeemed." The Haggadah teaches us not to feel intimidated by those who try
to mock us, and to stand up for the truth we believe in.
We still need to clarify why we answer the wicked son with the same words
that we address the son who does not know how to ask. Maybe the answer is
that they are not all that different? After all, there is a factor of ignorance
underlying the mockery of the so-called wicked son. He does not appreciate
the deeper significance of the pesach offering. If he only realized that there is a
lot more to the mitzvot than meets the eye, he would not be so quick to mock
his heritage. So in fact the way we deal with the son who does not know how
to ask and the wicked son addresses the ignorance of both.
Breaking Ties With Idols
Before the exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people were surrounded by idol
worship. Many were influenced by the ways of their Egyptian neighbours and
began to worship idols themselves. The lamb was one of the idols of Egypt.
The Rambam explains that one of the reasons for bringing the pesach offering
was to help the Jewish people to break their ties with idol worship. For when
they roasted the Pesach lamb, they clearly saw that the idol was totally useless.
Modern Life
With his question, the modern-day wicked son indicates that we no longer
worship lambs as idols. Therefore, the ancient rituals do not apply to our
modern lifestyle. But he is ignorant of the fact that our Patriarchs and
Matriarchs already brought pesach offerings hundreds of years before the
Jewish people even entered into the land of Egypt. The Torah (Bereishis 27:9)
tells us that Rebecca told Jacob to bring two goats for her to make a savory
meal for Isaac. Why two goats? Surely, Isaac was not so hungry that he would
eat even one goat? So what was the second goat for? Our sages teach that the
second goat was to be brought as a pesach offering, (for both the kid of a goat
or a lamb can be used as a pesach offering) even though there was no reason to
celebrate the exodus from Egypt yet. This clearly teaches that there is more to
the pesach offering than commemorating our exodus from Egypt and its idols.
Deeper Levels
Every time we try to second guess G-d and His Ways, inevitably our guess will
be wrong. King Solomon, the wisest man of all times, thought he knew the
reason for every commandment. But when he was unable to understand the
workings of the Red Heifer (Bamidbar 19:1), he realized that there are levels
upon levels to every commandment that are beyond human comprehension (see
Proverbs 7:23).
Breaking Bones
The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 16) teaches us that the commandments develop
and educate us and affect our whole psyche. Each of the detailed laws of the
Pesach offering has its own reason and message. For example, the prohibition
not to break the bones of the Pesach offering educates us to eat with good
manners like an aristocrat, rather than to devour our food like a hungry wolf.
Answer For The Wicked Son
The wicked son mocks his heritage, because he fails to see that there are
deeper meanings to G-ds commandments than appears at first. In the Torahs
response to the wicked son, the Torah addresses the one who seriously tries
to understand what the service is all about. The Torah does not answer the
wicked son. But as we see in the Haggadah, there is an answer for this son as
well. The Torah combines it with the lesson to the one who does not know how
to ask. For deep down, even the wicked son has a truly holy soul. It is only
just his ignorance that has brought him to his negative attitude.
Sample Lesson
The Seder night is a sample lesson for parents and educators how to deal with
our children and students. Every child is different and needs to be dealt with
accordingly. There is no one answer that fits everyone. Parents and educators
may come across any of the four sons in real life situations, and it can be a
major challenge how to deal with some of them. The Haggadah teaches us that
there is a way to deal with each one. It is important to look beyond the negative
faade of mockery and find the way into the holy soul even of the wicked
son. Only then we can hope to educate every child to be a proud Jew
committed to a life of Torah and mitzvot.
These words were based on notes of Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto. Shalom. Michael
Deverett P.S. If you have any questions or enjoyed reading this e-mail, we would appreciate hearing from you. If you know of others who may be
interested in receiving e-mails similar to this please let us know at For previous issues please see

Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky
Beyond Pshat
LZeicher nishmas avi mori Reb Moshe Ben Yosef Kalatsky zl u lzeicher nishmas emee morasi
Shaindel Bas Reb Chaim Tzvi zl LZeicher nishmas ishtee Yehudis Chanah Kalatsky Bas Reb
Kehas Zl
1. Activating Gds Kindness in the Month of Nissan
The Gemara in Tractate Rosh Hashanah states, In the Month of Nissan our
forefathers were redeemed, in Nissan (in the future) they are destined to be
redeemed. Why is the month of Nissan considered to be especially relevant to the
redemption of the Jewish people?
Ramah in the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) states that there is a custom
among the Jewish people to provide the means for the needy before Passover in
order to purchase flour for matzos (kimcha dpischa), as well as other Holiday
needs.. Mishna Brurah cites the Jerusalem Talmud which states that this custom is
ancient among the Jewish people. For ages, the Jewish people have been providing
for the needy so that they should be able to celebrate the Holiday with dignity and
without lacking the basic necessities. Rambam writes that if one celebrates the
Holiday without concern for his fellow who may not have the adequate financial
means to provide for himself, it is considered that he is celebrating the holiday to
sate his own belly. His celebration does not qualify as a Holiday for Gd (Moadei
Hashem). However, the issue of not providing for the needy, as Rambam states, is
not limited to the Passover Holiday, it also applies to the other Festivals. However,
there is something specific about providing the means to celebrate the Passover
Seder properly with matzah and whatever the Seder requires. Why is there a special
obligation to provide for these specific mitzvos?
Shalah HaKadosh explains that the Jewish people were not sufficiently worthy to
merit redemption from Egypt. Despite that fact, Gd did redeemed them. The
Midrash tells us that as the Jewish people passed through the Sea, enclosed on each
side by walls of water, the angels began prosecuting them before Gd. They had
said, Why are you sparing the Jewish people and destroying the Egyptians? These
are idolaters and these are idolaters. Since the Jewish people were classified as
idolaters to no less a degree than their Egyptian masters, why were they being
redeemed and the Egyptians destroyed? Although Chazal tell us that the Jewish
people had some degree of worthiness to be redeemed because they did not shed
their identity as Jews, although they had been the chattels of the Egyptians for many
years (they did not change their names, dress, or language). Nevertheless, the Jewish
people were redeemed from Egypt was because of Gds unlimited Kindness. It was
purely an act of benevolence that He had taken then out of Egypt.
Each of the Patriarchs chose to emulate a specific Attribute of Gd. Avraham our
Patriarch chose to emulate Gds Attribute of Kindness (Chesed). Yitzchak chose to
emulate Gds Attribute of Justice (Din) and Yaakov chose to emulate His Attribute
of Mercy/Truth (Rachamim/Emmes). Why did Avraham choose the Attribute of
Kindness and not any of the other Attributes?
King David writes in Psalms, Olam chesed yibaneh the world was created out of
(His) Kindness. Gd is the perfect and complete Being who is in need of nothing.
He created existence only out of His Kindness to give man the opportunity to
develop in a setting that will qualify him as one who is deserving of reward. This
opportunity for spiritual advancement is only due to the Kindness of Gd.
Avraham chose to emulate Gds characteristic of Kindness because just as Gd
brought about existence through His Attribute of Kindness, so too would Avraham
bring about a new existence with kindness. Avraham was the equivalent of entering
into a new creation because he was the only individual in a world of paganism to
recognize Gd and espouse His existence. Avraham himself was the equivalent of a
new existence and thus established himself as the progenitor of the Jewish people,
who were destined to be Gds people.
The Jewish people were taken out of Egypt only for the specific objective to receive
the Torah at Sinai. As a result of accepting Gds Torah they became His holy
People, which was the equivalent of a new creation that did not exist before that
moment. This process of creation began with the Ten Plagues of Egypt and
culminated at Sinai, with the receiving of the Torah. Since the process of redemption
was the equivalent of a new creation, Gd utilized His Attribute of Kindness to bring
it about. Thus, the month of Nissan is the month that Gd demonstrated His Attribute
of kindness.
Zohar writes that when one takes a proper initiative on the terrestrial level, it
activates infinite forces within a similar context in the spiritual realm. In order for
the Jewish people to be beneficiaries of the ultimate redemption they must be worthy
of Gds Kindness. Since the month of Nissan, in its essence is a month that Gd had
demonstrated His infinite Kindness, when the Jew provides for his fellow what is
needed for the Seder to appreciate Gds Kindness (regarding the redemption from
Egypt), it will activate redemption, which is the ultimate kindness.
2. What is the Meaning of Freedom for a Jew?
The Men of the High Assembly, who composed the text of all the prayer services,
chose to refer to the Festival of Passover as the time of our freedom (zman
chairuseinu). It is true that we recount in the Seder service that it was during this
time that Gd redeemed the Jewish people from Egypt. They were enslaved for
hundreds of years and had suffered during their bondage under their Egyptian
taskmasters. The Jewish people were the equivalent of the chattel of the Egyptians.
However, had Gd freed them from their bondage through His infinite Kindness.
The objective of taking the Jewish people out of Egypt was not only to free them
from their physical oppressors, but rather it was so that they should stand at Sinai
and receive the Torah. Every aspect of the process of their redemption and
progressing towards Sinai was essential to qualify them to receive the Torah and
become Gds Holy people. The Ten plagues and all the revealed miracles that had
transpired relating to their redemption caused the Jewish people to be weaned from
their pagan beliefs and become spiritualized. During their enslavement in Egypt they
had become pagans to no less a degree than their Egyptian masters. However, at
Sinai the Jewish people chose to accept the Torah with the unequivocal declaration
of Naaseh Vnishma (We will do and we will listen). Thus, the objective of
redemption from Egypt was achieved. What is the meaning of freedom as it pertains
to the Jew?
The Jewish people could have chosen not to accept the Torah. If they had done so,
they would have perished under the mountain and all existence would have come to
an end. The creation of the world and its ongoing existence was contingent upon the
Jewish people accepting the Torah at Sinai. However, they agreed to be committed
to the dictate of Gd without knowing its extent and ramifications.
Regarding the Ten Commandments that Moshe had received at Sinai, the Torah uses
the term charusengraved. The words of the Ten Commandments were etched
through the stone Tablets. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (Ethics of our Fathers) states
that the word charus should not be read with its vowels but rather it should be read
as cheirus freedom. (Both words are spelled with the same letters; however, they
are punctuated with different vowels which determine their reading). As it states,
There is no free man other than the one who engages in Torah study. Why is this
so? If one is without a master dictating his existence, he should be considered free to
do as he chooses. However, the Torah, through the world cheirus alludes to the
16 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
fact that this is not so. The Torah which is replete with dictates and commandments,
which guide every aspect of ones life, seemingly woulkd deny ones freedom rather
than making him a free man.
One who is truly free is able to make decisions based on choices that are in his best
interest. One must establish an objectivity to be able to make that evaluation. In
order for one to make these choices he must have a sense of clarity in order to
discern between what is good and what is the antithesis of goodness. If one attempts
to choose what is truly good based on his own sense, intellectualism, and experience
he will be subject to his own human inclinations and desires. These human needs
create a conflict of interest that do not allow the individual to appreciate all the full
ramifications the issues in order to make the proper choice. Thus, one is enslaved by
his own impulses and material needs. He is blinded from what he truly needs to
advance his spirituality. In contrast, one who engages in Torah study is able to
extricate himself from the animalistic and material drives to utilize the material in
order to facilitate spiritual growth. One will have an understanding that the material
itself has no intrinsic value unto itself. Therefore, the one who engages in Torah
study is truly free, whereas the one who is not involved in that process is being
driven by the animal that exists within every person.
We say in the Haggadah that it was Gd Himself who took the Jewish people out of
Egypt. It was not through an angel or any other spiritual entity. Arizal explains that
the spiritual impurity of Egypt was so intense that not even an angel, who is a
spiritual being, would have been tainted by the environment. Therefore, only Gd
Himself could have extricated the Jewish people from that location of impurity. At
the time of their redemption they were permeated and infected with impurity to the
point that their spiritual system was completely shut down. They did not have the
capacity to process and relate anything within the spiritual realm. Gd not only freed
the Jewish people from their physical bondage, He had extricated and purged them
from the spiritual impurity that they had absorbed during the Egyptian bondage.
The Torah states, Yisro, the Minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard
all that Gd had done for Moshe and Israel, His People that Hashem took Israel out
of Egypt. After Yisro heard all that Gd had done for the Jewish people, he
abandoned his position as Minister of Midian and his community to join the Jewish
people in the desert. Why was Yisro so impressed with all that he had heard?
Yisro was world renowned as a pagan priest of idolatry. He was the most proficient
person in all forms of idol worship. In the past, he had been one of Pharaohs
personal advisors. He thus understood and appreciated the intense impurity that
existed in Egypt.. When he had heard that Gd had taken the Jewish people out of
Egypt and that they were able to express themselves at the Splitting of the Sea, as
they had done as a result of processing the miracles that they had witnessed, he was
amazed and taken aback. He realized that Gd had cleansed and purged them from
the impurity that they had attained in Egypt. It was not humanly possible for one to
be freed from the influences of Egypt unless Gd Himself intervened. After Yisro
had heard what had transpired, he abandoned his position of honor in order to join
the Jewish people in the desert. The spiritual freedom that the Jewish people had
attained was unequaled in existence. Gd gave them an objectivity, which gave them
the ability to make the proper choice. The process of full spiritual emancipation
culminated in the receiving of the Torah at Sinai.
When we mention in our prayers that Passover is the time of our freedom (zman
chairuseinu). we must understand that we are not only referring to our physical
freedom, but also the spiritual freedom to have the clarity to make the proper
choices. We are only able to function as Gds people because of that special level of
freedom that we had attained at the time of the exodus from Egypt.
3. Redemption from Egypt, the True Kindness of Gd
We recite in the Passover Haggadah and at every bris (circumcision) a verse from
the Prophet Yechezkel which states, In Egypt you were naked and devoid
Chazal explain that the verse is referring to the spiritual state of the Jewish people
when they were in Egypt. Since they had become pagans, they were devoid of
mitzvos. The Prophet concludes, I saw you wallowing in your bloods. Through
your blood, you shall live. Through your blood you shall live. In order for the
Jewish people to be worthy of redemption from Egypt they needed to have sufficient
spiritual merit. Therefore, Gd gave them the opportunity to perform the mitzvah of
circumcision and the mitzvah of sacrificing the Pascal lamb. It is through the
bloods of circumcision and the Pascal sacrifice that the Jewish people were made
sufficiently worthy for redemption. Why did Gd specifically choose these two
mitzvos in order to give the Jewish people sufficient merit?
Shalo HaKadosh writes that the redemption from Egypt was a replication of the
creation of the world. King David writes in Psalms, Olam chesed yibaneh the
world was created with Chesed (Kindness). Nothing existed before Creation.
Therefore, there was no one who was deserving of Creation. Gd created existence
out of His Kindness in order to give man the ultimate opportunity to spiritually
perfect himself. Just as creation initially came about in a context in which there was
no one who was worthy of it, so too were the Jewish people redeemed from Egypt,
despite their lack of worthiness. The only reason Gd had given them the
opportunity to be redeemed was purely out of His Kindness. The redemption from
Egypt, emanating from Gds Kindness, was a replication of the creation of the
Every day we conclude the Amidah (silent prayer) with a request that Gd should
rebuild the Temple where we shall worship Him and the offering of Yehudah and
Jerusalem will be pleasing to Gd, as in the days of old and in former years. One
would think that the days of old and in former years is referring to the time of
the First Temple, or the Mishkan when the Divine Presence dwelt in the midst of the
Jewish people. However, the Midrash explains that days of old and in former
years is referring to the days of Adam when he had brought his offering. At the
time of Adam, because the world was pristine and spiritually untainted by idolatry,
the offering that Adam had brought had greater value. It was truly pleasing to Gd.
Therefore, we supplicate Gd that at the end of time our offerings should be as
pleasant to Him as in the time of Adam, when there was no impurity of idolatry in
the world.
The Jewish people, by slaughtering the Pascal lamb, which was the deity of their
Egyptian masters, were in effect purging their midst from idolatry/paganism.
Rejecting idolatry in such a vehement manner was a reinstatement of creation at the
time of Adam.
Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains, based on a Zohar, that Adam was created without
a foreskin. It was only as a result of his sin, that the foreskin developed as an
outgrowth of the impurity that Adam had brought upon himself. If the Jewish people
were to be redeemed from Egypt, they needed to replicate the setting of existence
that was at the beginning of Creation. They were therefore given the mitzvah of
circumcision so that they would be in the state of Adam, before he had sinned.
When the Jewish people accepted the Torah at Sinai, they had fully ascended to the
level of Adam, before the sin. They became eternal spiritual beings. Gd had initially
created the world to be a setting in which His Presence could dwell. However,
because Adam had putrefied existence, the Divine Presence could not dwell on the
terrestrial level. At Sinai, the world was restored to its initial setting, in which the
Divine Presence could again dwell amongst the Jewish people. However, because
they had sinned with the Golden Calf they once again caused existence to revert
back to its impure state, as Adam had done through the eating of the fruit. Both
Adam and the Jewish people had putrefied existence with idolatry.
The Gemara in Tractate Sanhedrin tells us that after Adam had sinned, he was
classified as a heretic. Despite the fact that Adam was in the presence of Gd, he
ate of the Tree of Knowledge, defying His Will. This was a denial of Gds existence
similar to that of idolatry.
Ramchal explains that Gd had initially created man in a way that the soul (neshama)
was contained within the body. Adams physicality was spiritualized to the degree
that his soul could be infused within his body. However, after the sin of Adam, the
body of man became physicalized and thus the soul needed to hover above the body.
The body was no longer qualified to contain the soul. There was only one person,
other than Adam, whose body was sufficiently spiritualized to be the vessel for the
soul; it was Moshe. Thus, there is a commonality between Adam and Moshe.
However, just as Adam had failed with idolatry, so too did Moshes decision
precipitate idolatry among the Jewish people. Moshe had allowed the rabble (eirev
rav) to leave Egypt along with the Jewish people, without consulting with Gd. It
was the rabble that had instigated the sin of the Golden Calf. Once again there is a
parallel between the time of creation and the exodus from Egypt.
Maharal of Prague and Ramchal explain that the Jewish holidays that are mentioned
in the Torah are not merely commemorative (to commemorate events of the past).
But rather, the Jew is meant to re-experience what had transpired on those particular
moments in history. Whatever energies/influences that Gd had released to bring
about those events in the past, are once again released every year at those particular
times. The Jew who observes the festival as prescribed creates an infrastructure to
capture that energy- thus causing him to be the beneficiary of those influences.
Therefore in order for one to be the greatest beneficiary of the Divine Kindness that
is made available on Pesach, which is what had brought the world into existence,
one must create a proper setting by observing and internalizing the laws of the
4. The Plague, A Reaction to the Defiance of Pharaoh
The Midrash cites a verse from Psalms regarding the plague of darkness, He (Gd)
sent darkness and it became darker because they did not accept His dominance. The
darkness that Gd had brought upon the Egyptians was severe. Why was this so?
Because the Egyptians were unwilling to become subservient to Gd (despite all of
the plagues that had preceded the plague of darkness). Gd had said to the angels,
The Egyptians deserve to be smitten with darkness. All of the angels agreed in
unison and they accepted Gds Word. Gd sent the darkness and it to become more
intense. The darkness was more than a mere absence of light it was tangible. This is
analogous to a king who gives an order to one of his loyal servants to punish a
defiant subject with fifty lashes. Rather than administering fifty lashes, the devoted
servant of the king gave one hundred lashes. Similarly, Gd had commanded that
darkness should come upon the Egyptians and the darkness intensified itself.
Meaning, the angels that were commanded to bring darkness upon the Egyptians,
intensified the plague on their own accord.
An angel is a spiritual being that carries out the Will of its Maker with total devotion
as instructed. If this is so, how could have the angels intensified the darkness that
came upon the Egyptians, which was not in conformance with the Dictate of Gd?
The Torah tells us regarding the plague of hail that it was a phenomenon of fire and
ice coexisting simultaneously. Rashi cites Chazal who explain, Although fire and
water are opposing forces, they made peace with one another in order to carry out
the Will of their Maker. Because Gd Wills that fire should burn and water be the
agent that extinguishes fire, that is why nature functions in this manner. However if
Gd should Will that water should not extinguish fire, then water and fire will
coexist with one another. If this is so, then what is the meaning of the words of
Chazal fire and water made peace among themselves? This indicates that these
forces, on their own, chose to coexist without Gd Willing this new phenomenon.
Rambam writes in The Fundamentals of Torah that an angel is an intellectual
spiritual being. It is a being that has a unique level clarity to understand Gd and His
Will. Thus, it carries out the Will of Gd as instructed. An angel is not a spiritual
automaton. It is because of its exceptional understanding of Gd that the angel is
compelled to carry out His Will. This is similar to the Sinai experience at the time of
the giving of the Torah.
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 17
The Gemara explains that the Jewish people were compelled to accept the Torah at
Sinai. As it states, Gd held the mountain over them, as if it were a barrel, and had
said If you accept the Torah it will be good. If not, there you will be buried.
According to the literal understanding of the words of the Gemara, the Jewish
people were physically coerced to accept the Torah at the threat of losing their lives.
Reb Meir Simcha of Dvinsk explains that this passage within a metaphorical
context. The Jewish people had ascended, at Sinai, to an unusual level of clarity that
was compared to the angels. Choice only exists when one believes that there is an
alternative. However, if ones understanding of value is unencumbered then one no
longer has choice. Thus, they were compelled to accept the Torah. It was the
equivalent of holding the mountain over them.
When Gd brought the plague of hail upon the Egyptians, the angel responsible for
the function of water and the angel responsible for the function of fire chose to
coexist because they understood with absolute clarity the desecration of Gds Name
that was being perpetrated through the defiance of the Egyptians. The Egyptian
belief was that all existence was limited and bound by the laws of nature. Thus, fire
and water, which are opposing forces could not coexist. After Pharaoh had
witnessed the plague of hail he exclaimed, This time I have sinned; Hashem is the
Righteous One, and I and my people are the evil ones. Seeing this new
phenomenon which was contradictory to the laws of nature was a sanctification of
Gds Name. Pharaoh understood at that moment that there was a power outside of
nature that dictates existence.
Similarly, the angel that was responsible to bring about darkness appreciated the
desecration of Gds Name that was being perpetrated through the defiance of
Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Therefore, when Gd ordered the plague of darkness to
come upon Egyptians, the angels responsible for executing the Will of Gd,
intensified the plague in order to punish the one who desecrated Gds Name by
bringing greater devastation upon the Egyptiansjust as the loyal servant added fifty
lashes to the punishment of the defiant subject.
5. Taking Nothing for Granted
The Torah states, Gd said to Moshe, Please speak in the ears of the people: Let
each man request of his fellow and each woman from her fellow silver vessels and
gold vessels. Hashem granted the people favor in the eyes of Egypt; moreover, the
man Moshe was very great in Egypt, in the eyes of the people. Gd had promised
Avraham that after the Jewish people completed their years of bondage in Egypt,
they would leave with great wealth. In order to bring this promise to fruition, Gd
had told the Jewish people to request of their masters silver and gold vessels. One
would think that after experiencing nine devastating plagues that had reduced Egypt
to rubble, the Egyptian people would have even been willing to relinquish their
valuables to them as a result of intimidation. Why was it necessary for Gd to grant
the Jewish people special favor in the eyes of the Egyptians in order to borrow their
wealth? Seemingly, all that had previously transpired was not sufficient to force the
Egyptians to lend their personal effects to the Jewish people.
The Torah states at the beginning of the Portion of Shemos, A new king (melech
chadash) arose over Egypt, who did not know Yosef. After Yosef had passed away,
Pharaoh decreed new mandates against the Jewish people as if he did not know
Yosef. Yosef had been the Viceroy of Egypt who was responsible for Egypts
survival during the years of famine. The Jewish people were initially revered by the
Egyptians during Yosefs lifetime because they were seen as royalty. However, now
they were reduced to slaves.
The Midrash states, The Prophet says, They (the Jewish People) betrayed Gd and
they fathered strange children. Because of this, they will be eaten by chodesh.
They bore children and did not circumcise them. The moment Yosef had passed
away, the Jewish people nullified the mitzvah of circumcision. They had said, We
shall be like the Egyptians. When Gd had seen that the they no longer wanted to
identify themselves with Him, by nullifying the sign of the covenant/circumcision,
He nullified the love of the Egyptians for the Jewish people. As it states, He
changed their heart to despise His people Now they will be consumed by
chodesh. As it states, A new king (melech chadash) arose over Egypt. (Without
vowels the word chodesh is read chadash) This king enacted new decrees to embitter
their lives. The Jewish people were no longer were esteemed or revered by the
Egyptians because they had ceased to circumcised themselves. Since they nullified
their covenant with Gd, He nullified the love that the Egyptians had for them. The
only reason one finds special favor in the eyes of another is because Gd grants that
special favor.
When the Jewish people were still despised by the Egyptians they were their slaves.
Naturally a master does not esteem his slave/chattel. When Gd caused the Jew to be
seen by his master as special and worthy of respect, it was obvious that it was a
miracle being performed by Gd. It is true that even if the Jewish people would not
have found special favor in the eyes of their masters they would have released their
valuables on loan out of fear; nevertheless, Gd wanted the Egyptians to give up
their wealth because they perceived the Jewish people as special. Gd wanted to
convey this understanding to the Jewish people that ones status and acceptability
is determined by Gd. Initially the Jewish people chose to stop circumcising
themselves because they believed that by being uncircumcised they would be
embraced by Egyptian society. However, Gd caused them to be rejected and
despised by their Egyptian masters. This confirmed that finding favor in anothers
eyes is not determined by the way one behaves but rather by how Gd wants him to
be perceived. Immediately before redemption, Gd wanted to reiterate this
understanding and belief- thus causing the Jewish people to find special favor in the
eyes of their masters. The Jew needed to understand before redemption that every
aspect of his life is determined by Gd Himself.
The Jewish people needed to understand that the great wealth that they were taking
was not because they had intimidated the Egyptians, but rather it was only because it
was the Will of Gd. There was no aspect of the redemption that was not enmeshed
with miracle.
We find that although Yosef was exceptionally gifted and accomplished, he would
not have been appreciated by his master Potiphar or the warden when he was
imprisoned, had it not been for Gd to allow him gain special favor in their eyes.
We beseech Gd continuously throughout our prayers that we should find special
favor in His Eyes and in the eyes others. Although one may possess unique qualities
and abilities, one must understand that ones value is only appreciated if Gd allows
it to be so.
6. The Culpability of the One Who Has Clarity
The Torah states after the seventh plague, Gd said to Moshe, Come to
PharaohUntil when will you refuse to be humbled before Me After
experiencing all of the devastating plagues which befell Egypt, why was Pharaoh
not asked to humble himself before Gd earlier? Why did Gd wait until after the
seventh plague to reproach him in this manner?
After the plague of hail, the Torah states, Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and
the thunder ceased, and he continued to sin; and he made his heart stubborn Prior
to this moment, when the Torah mentioned the hardening of Pharaohs heart it did
not state that he continued to sin. Why, only after the plague of hail, does the
Torah state he continued to sin? Regarding the third plague (lice), although the
sorcerers of Egypt had said to Pharaoh, It is the finger of Gd, meaning it could
not be attributed to sorcery, he was not considered a sinner for remaining
unaffected by the plague.
Until the plague of hail, Pharaoh had attributed the previous plagues to a deity.
Although the Egyptian sorcerers had recognized that the plague of lice was the
finger of Gd, Pharaoh himself interpreted that to mean that it was the hand of the
deity of the Jewish people. The deity of the Jews, although it had demonstrated
superior powers, was only one among many other deities. This is in fact the basis for
pagan belief. Pagans worship powers that exist within nature, believing that they are
independent of Gd. These deities, regardless of their enormous power, are limited to
the natural order. Pharaoh was not willing to accept the concept of spirituality, an
Omnipotent and Infinite Being, Who transcends and dictates nature. As the Torah
states, Pharaoh replied, Who is Hashem (YKVK) that I should heed His voice to
send out Israel? I do not know Hashem, nor will I send out Israel!
All of the plagues that had transpired prior to the plague of hail were plausible
within a natural context. Once the plague was unleashed, its reality was something
that existed within the natural order. It was only the enormity of the plague that
overwhelmed Egypt. Contrastingly, the plague of hail was the coexistence of fire
and water, which are contradictory forces that cannot coexist within nature. As
Rashi cites the Midrash, Fire and water made peace between them in order to do the
Will of their Maker. Thus, Pharaoh could not attribute the plague of hail to a deity.
He had understood that the plague of hail was something that transcended nature and
therefore was Willed by an All-Encompassing Being. The Torah states, Pharaoh
sent and summoned Moshe and Aaron and said to them, This time I have sinned;
Hashem (YKVK) is the Righteous One, and I and my people are the wicked ones
This was the first time Pharaoh had reached a level of clarity to recognize Gd as the
Omnipotent Being and not another deity. However, after Moshe had prayed and
caused the plague of hail to cease, Pharaoh again hardened his heart and reverted
back to his previous stance and did not allow the Jews to leave. This is the reason
the Torah at this moment states, He continued to sin... It was only because
Pharaoh had reached a level of clarity to recognize Gd as the Omnipotent One and
despite this, he did not heed His Word. Therefore he was considered to be a
sinner. After achieving this level of clarity, the only basis to reject Gd and
assume a position of denial was a lack of humility. Therefore Moshe was instructed
by Gd to say to Pharaoh, Until when will you refuse to be humbled before Me?
The Gemara in Tractate Pesachim tells us that the Jew who truly despises
Judaism/practicing Jews is the one who had studied Torah but chose to leave its
path. Rashi explains that this Jew detests the others because since he had studied, he
knows how he is regarded and seen by other Jews. He knows that others regard him
as a lesser person for living the life that he has chosen. However, one can explain
this passage in the Gemara in another manner. The person, who at one time came
upon truth and then chose to reject it, must live in a state of denial in which he must
suppress the truth in order to accommodate his conflicts of interest. When one lives
a life of falsehood (denial), knowing the truth yet choosing to ignore it, he
continuously experiences a degree of guilt that causes an irrational hatred for
The Gemara in Tractate Kiddushin states that if one sins and then chooses to repeat
it, it assumes a permitted status to that person. When one transgresses in a particular
area (intentional or inadvertent), he has a choice to either correct the wrong by doing
teshuvah (repenting, or if he chooses to continue along the path of sin he must
recognize that behavior as permissible. This is because if he does not, he must
continuously live with guilt which is something that a human being cannot tolerate.
He must retreat into a state of denial by suppressing the truth and allowing his
conflicts of interest to dominate him. This is similar to the one who had studied
Torah and chose to leave the path.
Pharaoh, who had clearly seen the Hand of Gd in the plague of hail, could not deny
Gds Omnipotence. It was only his arrogance and conflicts of interest that caused
him to reject and suppress the truth which is the meaning of Pharaoh hardened his
heart. This is why the Torah refers to his behavior after the plague of hail as he
continued to sin. This is the reason Moshe reproached him only after the seventh
plague and not before.
7. The Perspective that is Needed for Survival
The Torah tells us that after the Jewish people had seen the remains of the Egyptians
on the seashore, They believed in Hashem and Moshe His servant. After the Sea
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had closed upon the Egyptian army, the Jewish people were not convinced that their
enemies had perished in the Sea. They were concerned that they would circumvent
the Sea in order to continue pursuing them. When their remains were cast on the
seashore, they had seen Divine retribution and they believed in Gd and Moshe His
servant. They were inspired to sing Gds praises along with Moshe, articulating
every aspect of the destruction of their enemies.
The Midrash states, It was because they believed in Hashem that the Jewish
people merited to inherit the Land. In the merit that Avraham believed in Gd, he
inherited this world and the world to come. As it states, He believed in Hashem, and
it was considered a righteousness. Similarly, when Moshe presented himself to the
Jewish people as the Redeemer, they believed. As it states, The tzaddik will live
through his belief (in Gd.). It is understood that if one believes in the in Gd after
he is the beneficiary of His Beneficence, his belief is not considered notable.
However, if one has reason to question and despite his difficult predicament, he
believes, it is considered something admirable. For example, the Torah states that
Avraham believed in Gd after he was promised that he would have a son.
Although he had not yet fathered a child from Sarah, our Matriarch, at his advanced
age, Avraham believed in Gds promise that he would. Therefore, his belief was
considered a righteousness. It is when one believes in Gd, despite the ones
circumstance, that belief is considered to be exemplary.
Although the Jewish people were pagans in Egypt, when Moshe presented himself
as the Redeemer of Israel, the Torah states and the people believed. Despite the
fact that they had abandoned their Jewish beliefs, when Moshe presented his
credentials as Gds agent, they believed.
Chazal compare the physical world to the night time period. It is because when there
is an absence of light, things are obscured and distorted. Ones perception of truth is
very often based upon ones own conflicts of interest. Throughout history, we as a
Jewish people have witnessed and experienced many tragedies and upheavals such
as the destruction of two Temples, expulsions, and continuous discrimination and
victimization. Without belief and trust in Gd, that all that He does is for the Good,
one would have difficulty doing His Will. A Jew can only thrive within the spiritual
realm, if he is secure in his belief.
When the Jewish people declared their belief in Gd and Moshe His servant it was
after witnessing the splitting of the Sea and the many revealed miracles that had
previously occurred. They had also witnessed Divine retribution when the remains
of the Egyptian army were cast on to the seashore. If their declaration of belief
occurred immediately after benefiting from Gd in a context of miracles, why was
their declaration of belief at that moment esteemed by Gd that they should merit to
inherit the Land and that the Divine Presence should rest upon them? If anyone
would witness what the Jewish people had, it is understood that they would declare
their belief in Gd. Why is it necessary for the Torah to state, They believed in
Hashem and Moshe His servant? Seemingly, this is a natural consequence.
Evidently, since the Torah does share with us their declaration of belief, it must be
because their experience was not as convincing as one may think. If it were, the
Torah would not need to state it.
The Jewish people at this point had left Egypt to go into the desert without any
provisions or any sense of security for the future. They had left the security of their
homes based on Moshes directive in the Name of Gd. Despite all of the
uncertainties of their predicament, their faith and belief in Gd and Moshe was
unswerving. This was considered an accomplishment that was valued by Gd. As the
Prophet states, I (Gd) will always remember the kindness of your youthyour
following Me into an unplanted land... It was because of their belief in Gd that the
uncertainty of the future did not distract or hinder them from heeding the word of
Gd. The righteous live by their belief. Despite all of the unanswered questions and
difficulties of life, every Jew must believe with absolute faith that Gd is
continuously watching over us and will speedily bring Moshiach to bring about the
ultimate redemption.
8. The Spiritualization of the Mind
After the Jewish people had witnessed the revelation of Gd at the Sea, the Torah
states, Moshe caused Israel to journey from the Sea of Reeds and they went out to
the Wilderness of Shur; they went for a three-day period in the Wilderness, but they
did not find water. They came to Marah, but they could not drink the waters of
Marah because they were bitterThe people complained against Moshe saying,
What shall we drink?...
After seeing the Hand of Gd in Egypt through the plagues and the splitting of the
Sea, it was inappropriate for the Jewish people to complain to Moshe that they did
not have anything to drink. They should have requested of him to pray to Gd to
provide them with water. Moshe cried out to Gd and He showed him a tree, which
he threw into the water and the water became sweet. The Torah then states, There
Hashem established for (the nation) a Decree and an Ordinance, and there He tested
Rashi cites Chazal, Marah was the first location in which the Jewish people were
given portions of the Torah for them to engage in (their study). What were the
portions that were given? The laws of the Shabbos, the laws pertaining to the Red
Heifer (Parah Adumah), and laws pertaining to monetary issues/damages (Dinim).
Before the giving of the Torah at Sinai, the classification of the Jewish people was
Noahides. They were not yet bound by the laws of the Torah. They were not
subject to spiritual contamination, because only a Jew (post-Sinai) is susceptible to
spiritual impurity. The laws of the Red Heifer had no relevance to their present
status. The value of the Red Heifer that was communicated to them was purely for
the sake of engaging in its study. Why was it important at this time to engage in
Torah study?
The Jewish people had witnessed at the Sea the Hand of Gd on the most vivid level.
Chazal tell us that what the maidservant had seen at the splitting of the Sea even
Yechezkel the Prophet had not seen. Although they had declared after the Sea closed
upon the Egyptians their belief in Gd and Moshe, three days later they quarreled
with Moshe rather than speaking to him in a more respectful manner. One would
think that after experiencing this level of revelation and understanding of Moshes
status as Gds Prophet, they would have behaved differently. It is evident from their
behavior that even when one is exposed to Gds Presence, ones human frailties and
conflicts do not allow the person to process and internalize the event sufficiently.
Without, the spiritualization of ones mind and emotion, the events have relatively
little impact on his being. The only thing that gives one the capacity to fully
appreciate a spiritual encounter is the study of the Torah itself. The Jewish people at
this time did not have that available to them.
Therefore, Gd gave the Jewish people the portions of the Shabbos, the Red Heifer,
and laws, in order to engage in their study. Through this process of studying, the
Jewish people would be spiritualized in mind and emotion to have the capacity to
fully appreciate spirituality. Thus, they would overcome their human impediments.
The blessing that is recited before one engages in the study of Torah is, Blessed are
You Hashemand has commanded us to engross/engage ourselves in the words of
Torah One would think that the blessing should be, and has commanded us to
learn Torah Maharal of Prague explains that the mitzvah of Torah study is to
engage in its study. The process of engagement, attempting to understand the words
and concepts of the Torah, is the mitzvah itself. Therefore, the text of the blessing
which precedes the study of Torah is to engage in its Words. It is this process that
impacts upon the person and spiritualizes him. It is not limited to the accumulation
of its knowledge.
Chazal tell us, Talmud Torah keneged kulam - the study of Torah is equivalent of
fulfilling all the mitzvos of the Torah combined. Thus, engaging in Torah study
touches upon the total spiritual development of the individual. Although the Torah
in its entirety was not yet given to the Jewish people at Marah, nevertheless,
studying the portions of Torah that were given to them would impact upon them as if
they had studied all aspects of the Torah. Consequently, through engaging in these
portions, they would become spiritualized in preparation for the Sinai event.
The Gemara in Tractate Avodah Zorah tells us that the one who engages in Torah
study and performs acts of kindness will dominate his evil inclination. Chofetz
Chaim explains in his work Toras Chesed that the evil inclination affects a person in
two areas of his existence through his mind and through his physicality. When one
engages in Torah study, the mind is spiritualized. Thus, his thoughts become
impervious to the evil inclination. When one engages in acts of kindness (chesed),
he is spiritualizing his physicality. Thus, body is not inclined towards evil.
The only reason one does not have clarity is because one is distracted by his
emotions and desires. The only way one can contend with this issue is to engage in
Torah, which spiritualizes all aspects of ones being.
9. Relativity Determines the Degree of Sanctification of Gd
The Midrash states, "Why does the Portion begin, 'It happened when Pharaoh sent
out the people...? It is because the same mouth that had said, I will not send them
out now had said I will send them out. What was the reward for this? The Jewish
people were given the mitzvah of not being permitted to harass the Egyptian. The
mouth that initially rejected G'd by saying, Who is Hashem... I do not know
Hashem retracted and said during the plague of hail, This time I have sinned;
Hashem is the Righteous One, and I and my people are the wicked ones... What was
his reward? G'd gave his people in ground internment. As the Torah tells us that
after the Sea had closed upon the Egyptian army, they were buried (and not left to be
devoured by the fish of the sea). "
Pharaoh was no ordinary man. He was the monarch of the most advanced and
powerful civilization in the world. In addition, he was a pagan who had proclaimed
himself as a deity. For Pharaoh to agree to send out the Jewish people because Gd
had commanded him to do so through Moshe His agent, it was a sanctification of
Gds Name (kiddush Hashem). The world had seen the obstinate and seemingly
invincible Pharaoh submit and adhere to the dictate of Gd, which itself was the
ultimate sanctification of Gds Name. Through this his people had merited the
negative commandment that a Jew is not permitted to harass an Egyptian. The self-
deified pagan monarch who initially denied Gds existence on the most insolent
level Who is Hashem I do not know Him? now acknowledged His all-
encompassing dominion by declaring Hashem is righteous. He thus merited on
behalf of his people that they should receive proper burial after the closing of the
Sea. For someone who was known to be the most powerful monarch and self-
proclaimed deity to acknowledge the Omnipotent Being, is truly a sanctification of
Gds Name.
The Torah states, You shall not taunt or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers
in the land of Egypt. Rashi cites Chazal who explain that the term stranger is
referring to a convert. A Jew is not permitted to cause pain or aggrieve a convert by
reminding him of his past. The Gemara tells us that this prohibition extends for ten
generations. However, we find that very often Yisro, Moshes father in law, is
referred to in the Torah as Kohen Midian high priest of Midian. Although this
was after his conversion to monotheism, he is continuously referred to in this
seemingly pejorative manner. If one is not permitted to remind another of his past,
then why does the Torah repeatedly emphasize and reiterate that Yisro was the
pagan priest of Midian?
If the Torah had not referred to Yisro as the high priest of Midian, then we would
not appreciate the ramifications of his ultimate accomplishment of converting to
monotheism. By rejecting idolatry and abandoning his position as the pagan leader
of Midian, he became a pariah in his own community. The Torah tells us that when
his daughters would go to water their flocks they were driven away by the other
shepherds because of the status of their father. The reason the Torah continuously
identifies Yisro as the high priest of Midian is to communicate to us that although he
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had originally represented the most advanced position as a pagan priest, he rejected
it all for the truth of monotheism. It would be the equivalent of the head of the
Catholic Church rejecting all his previous beliefs and acknowledging Judaism as the
true religion. An ordinary pagan converting to monotheism would have not brought
about such a level of kiddush Hashem.
The Midrash tells us that when Yaakovs children together with the Egyptians had
taken him to be buried in the cave of Machpelah in Canaan, the Canaanites initially
wanted to wage war against Yaakovs family. However, when they saw the crown of
Yosef, the Viceroy of Egypt, they encircled it with their own crowns thus
renaming the location to memorialize the event. The Canaanites exclaimed, It is a
time of profound grieving for the Egyptians. Yaakov is being buried. When they
had made this declaration, they had either first walked four cubits, according to one
interpretation in the Midrash, or raised their fingers to acknowledge the event.
According to the first opinion, for each pace they had taken to acknowledge the
passing of Yaakov, they merited that the Jewish people should be kept out of the
Land of Israel for one generation. Thus, since they had walked four cubits, the
Jewish people were not able to enter into the Land until four generations had passed.
Because they were pagans, their acknowledgement of the tragic passing of Yaakov,
a man who personified and embodied holiness, was considered a sanctification of
Gds Name.
The Gemara in Tractate Avodah Zorah tells us that Reb Chananyia Ben Tradion, his
wife, and daughter experienced tragedies at various levels. Reb Chananyia Ben
Tradion was wrapped in a Torah scroll and was burnt to death. His wife was taken
out to be killed, and his daughter was sent to a brothel in Rome. When each of them
experienced their own personal tragedy, they acknowledged and proclaimed that Gd
was just in the punishment that was being meted out to them. Without their
declaration, one could think that their tragic fate would be considered a travesty of
justice (Gd forbid). However, because they had declared that Gd is righteous and
Just in His Judgment, they dispelled any question and embraced Gds decision. This
was a kiddush Hashem.
The Gemara in Tractate Yoma tells us that when one repents out of fear of Gd , his
deliberate sins take on an inadvertent status. However, if one repents out of love,
then his deliberate sins are converted to merits. When one assumes the status of a
sinner and despite that status, he acknowledges Gd by repenting out of fear, it is a
degree of kiddush Hashem (albeit limited). However, when one assumes the status
of a sinner and truly recognizes the wrong and repents out of love for Gd it is a
more advanced level of sanctification of Gds Name thus he is able to convert the
deliberate sins into merits.
When one is able to acknowledge Gd in His true context, despite all the distortion
of truth, one is bringing about a sanctification of His Name whose merit is profound
and unlimited.
10. The Objective of the Egyptian Exile
The Torah states, Veileh shemosAnd these are the names of the Children of
Israel who were coming to Egypt The verse begins with the letter vav which
means and. This indicates that there is a connection and continuum between the
book of Shemos and the Book of Bereishis. Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains,
Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov understood that the Egyptian exile was needed to
purge the Jewish people from the sin of Avraham our Patriarch. He had posed an
inappropriate question to Gd and thus the Jewish people were decreed to be exiled
to Egypt. The state of exile began with the birth of Yitzchak and it culminated after
being in Egypt for 210 years. The Patriarchs understood that the necessity for the
purging process brought about by the Egyptian bondage was for the ultimate
objective of being qualified to receive the Torah at Sinai/to become the chosen
people. So too, the 70 individuals who came to Egypt with Yaakov understood the
importance of coming there. This is the significance of the letter vav (and). Thus,
the Torah is telling us that the descent to Egypt was with the same level of intent and
willingness to bring about a more spiritual people as the Patriarchs had intended.
Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh continues, Although the individuals who came to Egypt
were identified earlier in the Portion of Vayigash, the Torah reiterates their names to
discern between them and Esav. The Midrash tells us that when Esav was given a
choice to receive the Land of Canaan he was made to understand that this could only
come about if the debt of exile was paid (going to Egypt). He chose to pass on this
opportunity in favor of going to Mt. Seir. Yaakov and his family chose to go to
Egypt because they understood the value of receiving the gift of the Land of
There is a question among the earlier commentators regarding the identification of
the Five Books of the Torah. Ramban identifies the first book as Bereishis
(Genesis), the second book as Sefer HaGeula (Book of Redemption), the third as
Torahs Kohanim (Laws of the Kohanim), the forth books as Sefer HaPikudim
(Numbers), and the fifth book as Mishna Torah (Review of Torah). Each book is
identified by its content. However, Baal Halachos Gedolos (BHAG) identifies the
first book as Sefer Bereishis, the second book as Sefer Sheini (second Book), and
the remaining three books are identified by content. Nitziv ztl in his introduction to
Haamik Davar (Commentary on Torah) asks, If the basis for the identification for
each of the Books of the Torah is based on content then why does BHAG identify
the Second Book by number? Nitziv answers, BHAG identifies the Second Book
by number to indicate that in fact it is the second chapter, which is the closing
chapter of the First Book Bereishis (Genesis). The First Book discusses the
creation of existence and the evolvement of the precursor of the Jewish people,
while the Second Book is the culmination of that evolvement, which concludes with
the Sinai experience/the Torah being given to the Jewish people.
The Torah begins, Bereishis bara Elokeem In the beginning Gd created The
Midrash explains that the word Bereishis is alluding to the fact that, Bshvil
Reishis bara Elokeem for the sake of the choicest (which is Torah) Gd created
Heaven and Earth... The term Bereishis also alludes to the Jewish people who are
the chosen people/choicest and who will receive the Torah at Sinai. Gd created
existence for the sake of the Torah and the Jewish people. In order for them to be
worthy and qualified to receive the Torah, they needed to experience the purging
process of the Egyptian exile. Thus, the Second Book is a continuation and
culmination of the First.
It is interesting to note that four fifths of the Jewish people perished during the days
of darkness, which befell Egypt during the plagues. Why did they not merit
redemption? The objective of the redemption from Egypt was so that the Jewish
people should receive the Torah at Sinai. Thus, becoming Gds chosen people. It
was not to remove the shackles of bondage and be free of oppression. Since these
individuals had no interest in leaving Egypt, they perished during the plague of
11. The Egyptian Bondage, An Outgrowth of Avrahams Question
The Gemara in Tractate Nidarim tells us that one of the reasons the Jewish people
experienced the exile in Egypt was because Avraham had posed a question to Gd
that was considered inappropriate. The Torah tells us that Gd had promised
Avraham that he and his offspring would inherit the land of Canaan. The Torah
states, Avraham said, My Lord, Hashem/Elokim: Whereby shall I know that I am
(my offspring) to inherit itAnd He (Gd) said to Avraham, Know with certainty
that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not their own and they will serve
them and they will oppress them Avraham was concerned that if his offspring
were to sin in the future, they would not be worthy to inherit the Land. However,
Gds promise to Avraham was that his progeny would inherit the Land
unconditionally. Thus, Avrahams question/concern was unfounded. This was
considered a breach of faith and required that the Jewish people should experience
exile in Egypt. How did Gds response to Avraham, address his failing?
After remaining in Egypt for 210 years, the Jewish people had deteriorated
spiritually to a point that they had become idolaters. At the time of the splitting of
the Sea, Gd had decreed that the Jewish people should safely pass between the
walls of water, while the Egyptian army was being destroyed. The angels questioned
Gd, Why are You destroying the Egyptians and not the Jewish people? These
(Egyptians) are idolaters and these (the Jewish people) are idolaters. Meaning, the
Jewish people were as much deserving of destruction as the Egyptians for their
idolatrous behavior.
The Torah states, A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Yosef. Rashi
explains that the king of Egypt did not know Yosef because he was in fact a new
king (different person) or the king of Egypt was actually the Pharaoh who did know
Yosef; however, he acted as if he did not know him. Kli Yakar explains this verse
differently, The king of Egypt did not know Yosef because he was unaware of
what had transpired between Yosef and his brothers. Yosefs brothers attempted to
destroy him, nullify his dreams, and not allow them to come to fruition (that they
would bow to him one day). However, despite all of their efforts Yosefs dreams
came true. It was the Will of Gd to advance Yosef and bring him to an exalted
position and nothing could interfere with the Will of Gd. Similarly, Gd had said
that the Jewish people would increase in number and ultimately be redeemed from
Egypt; however, Pharaoh attempted to stifle their growth and keep them in bondage.
Despite all of his efforts, he was unable to interfere with their destiny. Just as
nothing could interfere with Yosefs destiny, so too nothing could interfere with the
destiny of the Jewish people.
Yosef was the model/profile of the Jewish people. He, like his father Yaakov, was
the prototype of the Jew in exile. Despite the fact that the Jew is in exile and subject
to many obstacles, hardships, and casualties (in the physical and spiritual sense), he
nevertheless ultimately survives and flourishes. Pharaoh did not know/appreciate
that this was the essence of Yosef nor did he know it was the essence of the Jewish
Avraham was concerned that if the Jewish people would sin, they would no longer
be worthy to inherit the Land. In response to this, Gd exiled the Jewish people to
Egypt where they were subject to bondage and oppression. They became idolaters
and as the verse in Yechezkel states, They were stripped naked (devoid of any
mitzvos). The Jewish people seemingly had no worthiness to be redeemed from
Egypt. Despite this, Gd gave them the mitzvah of dam Pesach- the blood of the
Pascal Lamb and dam milah blood of circumcision and thus had merit to be
redeemed from Egypt. Fifty days after the exodus, the Jewish people stood at Sinai
and declared, Naaseh VNishmah we will do and we will listen to receive the
Torah, Gds most precious commodity. This demonstrated that despite the fact that
the Jewish people had fallen to the depths of spiritual debasement through being
acculturated in Egypt, their essence remained intact and unaffected. Thus, they were
able to ascend and be worthy of becoming Gds people.
Gds response demonstrated that Avrahams understanding of the Jewish people
was inaccurate. Through the Egyptian bondage, it was indicated that although the
Jewish people had fallen to the depths of spirituality, their recovery and
rehabilitation was (relatively speaking) immediate. Thus, even if the Jewish people
should sin and fail, they still have relevance to the Land of Canaan, which will be
ultimately the Land of Israel Eretz HaKiddoshah (the Holy Land).
12. The Innate Negative Characteristic of Man
The Torah states, A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Yosef. Rashi
cites two opinions regarding this verse. One interpretation is that truly a new king
arose over Egypt who did not know Yosef. The other interpretation is that it was the
same king, however with a new mandate. The meaning of who did know Yosef is
that the king acted as if he did not know Yosef.
Daas Zikainim Baali Tosafos cite a Midrash which states, Reb Yehudah Ben Levy
gives us an understanding of the words who did not know Yosef with an allegory.
A person had stoned the image of the king and was not punished for his behavior.
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The following day the same individual stoned the king himself. Initially Pharaoh did
know Yosef, then ultimately he said, I do not know Gd. How does the Midrash
equate the allegory of the individual who stoned the image of the king with Pharaoh
not knowing Yosef and ultimately denying Gds existence? When the individual
stoned the image of the king, it a clear indication that he had no regard for the king
himself. Since he was not restrained after disgracing the honor of the king, he chose
to go to the next level and disgrace the king himself. However, regarding not
recognizing Yosef, seemingly this has no relevance to not recognizing Gd.
It is interesting to note that one does not immediately deny Gds existence. It
evolves through a gradual conditioning process which one undergoes that begins
with denying that he is a beneficiary of the good that was done on his behalf by
others. The same individual, because he is not willing to recognize that he should be
beholden to others, will ultimately deny that he is a beneficiary of Gds Goodness.
Pharaoh should have been beholden to Yosef. His level of indebtedness to him and
his family should have been unwavering and permanent. Had it not been for Yosef,
Egypt would have perished with the famine. It was only because of Yosefs genius
and astuteness did Egypt become the provider for the entire world. Egypt, through
the sale of the grain, amassed the wealth of the world. Rather than being beholden to
Yosef, Pharaoh subjugated his family to bondage.
A person, although he may be the beneficiary of the goodness of others, is able to
enter into a state of denial, which allows him to evade that reality in order to
accommodate his own agenda. Despite the fact that it was undeniably clear that
Yosef had benefited Egypt more than any other individual, Pharaoh chose to ignore
this because of his own insecurities.
Gd provides man with his total existence. It is undeniable that all existence
emanates from Him and is sustained by His Goodness. Yet it is possible for one to
ignore this fact because of ones own conflicts of interestwhatever they may be. This
conditioning process, which brings the individual to a level to even deny Gd, begins
with ones evading the fact that he is a beneficiary of the kindness of others. This is
the analogy stated by Reb Yehudah Ben Levy, who explained that it begins with the
stoning of the image of the king and concludes with the stoning of the king himself.
Identically the denial of Gd begins with one not feeling beholden to others and
ultimately concludes with not having any sense of being beholden to Gd. Thus,
Pharaoh was the ultimate ingrate.
It is within the natural makeup of man to have the ability to acknowledge and
recognize Gd through the reality of existence or despite that to reject Him. The
Torah tells us that after Adam had eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, Gd had asked
him, Why did you eat of the fruit of the Tree? He replied, It is the woman that
You gave me implying that it was only because Gd had provided that woman
that Adam sinned. In essence, Adam transferred blamed to Gd for his own sin.
When Gd had created Chava, He had done so only because it was necessary for
Adam to have a counterpart and helpmate. After Adams response to Gd, He said to
Adam, You are an ingrate. After Gd had provided Adam with all of his needs and
accommodated him with a wife (who is a necessity in his life to succeed), he did not
acknowledge the Good and furthermore, he blamed Gd for his failing. It is in the
fabric of mankind, because of their conflicts of interest, to resist seeing reality for
what it is in order to accommodate their own agenda. Thus, man is by nature an
individual driven by self-interest, causing him to be an ingrate.
The Torah tells us that Gd had provided the Jewish people with the Manna in the
desert, which was a spiritual food that accommodated their every nutritional need.
Because of the Manna, the Jewish people were fully sated and protected against any
type of disease or illness. It was absorbed into their organs so that they did not need
to do any bodily functions. However rather than expressing their gratitude to Gd for
what He had provided, they complained vociferously, What is this light food that
You have given us? Perhaps we may ultimately die from it! The Gemara in Tractate
Avoda Zorah tells us that Gd responded, You are ingrates the children of an
Gd was enraged by their behavior because this negative characteristic of being an
ingrate/denying that one is the beneficiary of the good, will ultimately lead them to
deny the existence of Gd. Pharaoh, because he was unwilling to acknowledge the
goodness of Yosef, ultimately denied the existence of Gd.
13. The Intensification of the Bondage
The Torah states, Yosef died, and all his brothers and that entire generation. The
Children of Israel were fruitful, teemed (vayishretzu), increased, and became strong
very, very much so The Torah continues, A new king arose over Egypt, who
did not know Yosef. Sforno explains vayishretzu to mean that after the
generation of Yosef had passed away, the Jewish people began to behave
inappropriately similar to rodents sheratzim (pejorative term for improper
behavior). Sforno states, Although Yosefs contribution to the survival of Egypt
was part of their history, after his death, Pharaoh did not acknowledge Yosefs
contribution and enslaved his people. After the passing of Yosef and his brothers,
the generation that followed had no semblance to that which preceded it. The Jewish
people had left the path of spirituality to pursue the material. They had given up
their spiritual posture. Thus, Pharaoh had no conscience when he chose to enslave
Yosefs descendents. Yosef and his brothers lived on a spiritual plane, which
clearly quantified them as Gds people. However, the generation that followed them
is compared to the rodent completely devoid of spiritual perspective.
The Torah states, They (the Egyptians) embittered their (the Jewish people)
lives. Sforno explains, When the Jewish people further deteriorated spiritually, the
Egyptians increased their level of bondage. The Prophet tells us that the Jewish
people did not cast away idolatryTherefore the wrath of Gd was unleashed upon
It is interesting to note that typically when one experiences difficulties in his life,
rather than introspecting to understand the cause of the problem, he points outwardly
to assign blame. The individual wants to deny that he is in fact the cause of his own
Chazal tell us that Avraham was initially destined to live 180 years; however, Gd
deducted five years of his life because He promised Avraham that he would pass
away in a good old age. If Avraham were to have lived to 180, he would have
witnessed the day that Esav committed five cardinal sins. It would have been in
contradiction to Gds promise of passing away in a good old age. Avraham would
have been anguished to know that his grandson is in fact evil.
The Torah tells that when Esav had returned wary and exhausted from the field, he
came upon Yaakov cooking a pot of lentils. The Midrash tells us that when he
entered into his home he noticed that Yaakovs face was soiled with soot as he was
preparing the lentils. Esav asked him, What has happened? Yaakov answered,
Our grandfather has passed away. Esavs reaction was, There is no justice and
there is no Judge! Thus, he denied Gds relevance to existence.
Esav understood that Avraham, his grandfather, was meant to live 180 years. When
Avraham passed away at the age of 175, Esav questioned Gds Justice. The irony is
that the answer to Esavs question is found within himself.
Esav chose to be a rasha (an evil person). In essence, he was the cause of his
grandfathers demise. When he chose to commit five cardinal sins on the day of
Avrahams passing, Gd was forced to cause Avraham to die before his time. Esav
became a heretic and denounced Gd because he believed his grandfather died
prematurely when in fact he was the cause of Avraham losing five years of his life.
Esav essentially brought about his own spiritual demise and turned Gd into the
Most people do not understand and appreciate why difficulties and complications
come upon them. They believe that their suffering and setbacks are undeserved.
When a person does not accurately evaluate himself and believes that he is
undeserving of punishment he will feel that Gd is being unfair. Ironically, the basis
for his disillusionment with Gd is only a consequence of his own
unwillingness/denial to recognize who he really is. One is most often the cause of
his own negative predicament. This is what actually happened to the Jewish people
when their lives were embittered.
14. The Privilege of Choice
The Torah states at the beginning of the Portion of Bo, Hashem said to Moshe,
Come to Pharaoh, for I have made his heart and the hearts of his servants stubborn
When Moshe and Aaron approached Pharaoh to ask him to release the Jewish
people, the Torah states, Moshe and Aaron came to Pharaoh and said to him, So,
said Hashem, Gd of the Hebrews: Until when will you refuse to be humbled before
Me? Send out My people The Torah states in one verse that Gd hardened
Pharaohs heart and in the following verse Moshe says to Pharaoh until when will
you refuse to humble yourself before Gd. The Torah is telling us that the basis for
Pharaohs rejection of all the previous events was because he was not willing to
acknowledge Gd due to his own lack of humility. Seemingly, we are able to
understand this within the context of measure for measure. Just as he was not willing
to soften his heart to Gd, Gd in turn hardened his heart.
Rambam writes in Hilchos Teshuvah (the Laws of Repentance) that Pharaoh had
forfeited his power of free choice. Rambam states that if one believes that the
classification of tzaddik (righteous) or rasha (evil) is predetermined, thus
indicating that man has no free choice, he is a fool. Every individual is born with the
ability to choose between good and evil. Thus, there is culpability for ones choice if
he has done evil, and is fully deserving if he has chosen to do good. Rambam asks if
one is only culpable for doing evil because he had the choice to refrain from evil,
then why was Pharaoh culpable for enslaving and withholding the Jewish people if
Gd hardened his heart? Rambam explains that initially Pharaoh did have the ability
to choose between right and wrong but because he had become so evil, Gd revoked
his ability to choose. This is the meaning of I (Gd) have hardened his heart.
Although Pharaohs continued perpetration of evil was not within his control, he is
held fully accountable for that behavior because it was his choice not to have choice.
It is interesting to note that although from the sixth plague onwards Pharaoh no
longer had free choice because Gd had hardened his heart, nevertheless, regarding
each consecutive plague the Torah again tells us that Gd hardened his heart. If
Pharaoh had forfeited his ability to choose after this sixth plague, then why was it
necessary for the Gd to continue to revoke his ability to make the proper choice?
Avraham, our Patriarch, was presented with ten tests by Gd. Each of the tests was
progressively more difficult and built upon the previous one to develop Avrahams
understanding of Gd and give him internal strength and resolve. If Avraham was
first to be tested with the Akeidah (binding of Yitzchak), which was the most
difficult of the tests, he would have probably failed. It was only after he developed
through his trials and tribulations a greater understanding of Gd that he was able to
succeed with the Akeidah.
Similarly, the plagues that came upon Egypt occurred in a specific progression of
increasing levels of revelation. They each touched upon and affected another aspect
of existence. Each one of them revealed another dimension of Gds ability. Initially
the Egyptians understood the plagues as being sorcery/witchcraft. However, when
they experienced the third plague of lice, the sorcerers declared, It is the finger of
Gd! When the seventh plague came upon Egypt, Pharaoh was impressed to the
point that he declared, I have sinned; Hashem is the Righteous One The
plague of hail was obviously not rooted in witchcraft or nature since two
contradictory forces were able to coexist simultaneously. The plague of hail was
comprised of water and fire. With each of the plagues Pharaoh came to a new
understanding of Gd. Each plague had the potential to bring him to a greater level
of clarity and understanding of Gd. Thus, with each new level of clarity and
understanding, it was necessary for Gd to revoke his power of choice at that level.
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 21
The Torah tells us that it was Pharaohs refusal to humble himself before Gd that
caused his heart to be hardened. The Gemara tells us that regarding a person who is
arrogant and haughty, Gd says, The world is not large enough to contain you and
I. In order for one to merit a relationship with Gd one must be humble. If one is
arrogant, Gd withdraws from that individual. The Gemara in Tractate Kiddushin
tells us that if it were not for Gds intervention and assistance to deal with ones
evil inclination, it would be impossible to survive spiritually. Because of ones
conflicts of interests and natural tendencies/drives, one needs Divine assistance in
order to triumph over ones inclinations.
After being exposed to the first five plagues, which are classified as revealed
miracles, one should naturally acknowledge Gds power. However, because of his
arrogance, Pharaoh rejected Gd and behaved as if Gd did not exist. Thus,
Pharaohs rejection of Gd at that point was the ultimate display of arrogance. Gd
therefore disassociated Himself from Pharaoh. Consequently, Pharaoh no longer had
the power of choice. Therefore, it was not necessary for Gd to be proactive in
hardening Pharaohs heart, but rather it was because of his own arrogance that his
heart was hardened.
15. The Importance of the Status of the Jew Before Redemption
The Torah states, Hashem said to Moshe,Please speak in the ears of the people:
Let each man request of his fellow and each woman from her fellow to borrow silver
vessels and gold vessels. Hashem granted the people favor in the eyes of Egypt;
moreover, the man Moshe was very great in the land of Egypt, in the eyes of the
servants of Pharaoh and the eyes of the people. The Torah tells us that Gd
communicated to Moshe to please speak to the Jewish people to borrow the
valuables of the Egyptians. The Gemara in Tractate Berachos tells us that the Torah
uses the term please to indicate that Moshe needed to beseech the people to do so.
The Gemara explains that the reason Moshe needed to plead with the Jewish people
to comply with his request was so that both aspects of the promise made by Gd to
Avraham, our Patriarch, would be fulfilled. The Gemara states, So that Avraham,
the tzaddik, should not say that the decree they shall be enslaved and afflicted for
400 years - was fulfilled and afterwards they would go out with great wealth - was
not fulfilled. The people said to Moshe, We are not interested in wealth. We have
been in bondage for 210 years and want to leave as soon as possible with our lives.
All we want is to be released. Thus, Moshe needed to beseech the Jewish people to
borrow the precious possession of the Egyptians.
It is interesting to note that the reason Chazal tell us that Moshe had to beseech the
Jews to borrow the wealth from the Egyptians was so that Avraham, the tzaddik
should not have a claim against Gd. Chazal could have simply said that the reason
the Jewish people needed to borrow was to fulfill the promise that Gd had made to
Avraham that they will leave with great wealth. How do we understand this?
The Torah tells us that Gd caused the Jewish people to find favor in the eyes of
the Egyptians. In addition, Moshe was made to have special status in the eyes of
Pharaoh and the Egyptians. It is only after the Jewish people and Moshe assumed
favorable status did they borrow. Why was it necessary for Gd to cause them to
assume a special status as a prerequisite to the borrowing? The Jews could have
taken the wealth without special status because Gd had already devastated and
humiliated Egypt through nine of the ten plagues. What then is the significance of
the Jewish people finding special favor/charm in the eyes of the Egyptians?
If the Jewish people had been seen by the nations of the world as
renegades/fugitives/escapees, who plundered the wealth of their masters and fled
bondage, it would not have been a Kiddush Hashem (Sanctification of Gds Name).
Avraham, our Patriarch dedicated his life to bringing about Kiddush Hashem. The
only reason the Jewish people needed to be exiled to Egypt was to purge them of the
failing of Avraham who had asked Gd an inappropriate question. It was a Chilul
Hashem (desecration of Gds Name) that the Egyptians should enslave the Jewish
people the descendents of the man who introduced monotheism into existence
and ultimately forfeit their heritage/belief in Gd. In order to bring about a proper
correction for the Chilul Hashem that had transpired because of Avrahams failing,
the Jewish people needed to leave Egypt in a manner that would bring about the
ultimate Kiddush Hashem to reflect Avrahams lifelong commitment to Gds Glory.
It was public knowledge that Gd Himself destroyed Egypt on behalf of His people
the Jews. This awareness was a Kiddush Hashem. Despite the fact that Gd had
destroyed Egypt, the Egyptians willingly gave their precious belongings to the Jews
because they were perceived as special even though they were the chattel of the
Egyptians for 210 years. Thus, the world will see the Jews as special.
The Jewish people left Egypt not as a downtrodden band of slaves, but rather as a
valued people of great status and prestige. This was a Kiddush Hashem. Thus, we
can understand the reason Moshe needed to beseech the Jewish people to borrow the
precious belongings of the Egyptians.
16. The Setting for Kiddush Hashem
The Torah states, Hashem said to Moshe,Please speak in the ears of the people:
Let each man request of his fellow and each woman from her fellow to borrow silver
vessels and gold vessels The Torah tells us that Gd commanded Moshe to
Please speak to the Jewish people to tell them to borrow the silver and gold
vessels of the Egyptians. Evidently, by needing to say please Moshe need to
beseech the Jewish people to borrow the wealth of the Egyptians. Without his
beseeching, the Jewish people would not have wanted to borrow the wealth.
Sforno explains that the reason Moshe needed to beseech the Jewish people was
because, The Jewish people thought, If we simply leave with our own belongings,
the Egyptians will not pursue us. However if we borrow all of their wealth and leave
the Egyptian never to return, they will pursue us. Thus it is better not to ask to
borrow the wealth. Thus Moshe needed to plead with the Jewish people to borrow
the wealth of the Egyptians.
Sforno continues, Gd said to Moshe, Please speak to the Jewish people to
beseech them to borrow the wealth, because it is in only through this that the
salvation will come about. Meaning, what seemed to be not in the best interest of
the Jewish people was in fact what brought about the ultimate salvation.
The Jewish people borrowed the wealth as per Moshes pleading and they were
pursued by the Egyptians just as they had feared. If they had not taken the wealth,
Pharaoh would not have been able to motivate his people to pursue the Jewish
people. Gd had already devastated Egypt on their behalf. However, since the Jewish
people had taken that which was most precious to the Egyptians, they were pursued.
How did this bring about the ultimate salvation?
The greatest miracle of the exodus was the splitting of the Sea. Had the Jewish
people not taken the valuables, the Egyptians would not have pursued them and
there would not have been a need to split the Sea. The revelation at the splitting of
the Sea was at such an advanced level that even the prophet Yechezkel did not merit
to see what the maidservant saw at the splitting of the Sea. If the Jewish people had
not taken the valuables, they would not have been privy to such a level of revelation.
All of the events of the exodus were in preparation for the giving of the Torah at
Sinai, which was the ultimate salvation. Every experience that the Jewish people had
during the exodus was to advance their spirituality in order to make them worthy
and give them the greatest capacity to be taken as Gds people at Sinai.
Chazal tell us that at Sinai when Gd spoke to the Jewish people, each person
prophesized to the level of his own spiritual capacity. Thus, the greater the capacity
the more advanced and profound is the level of understanding of the transmission of
the Torah. If the splitting of the Sea had not occurred, the Sinai event would not
have been at that advanced spiritual level. The Jewish people had experienced such a
profound level of revelation of Gds Presence at the splitting of the Sea that they
were able to point and say, This is my Gd! Thus, although the Jewish people were
initially terrified by the prospect of the Egyptians pursuing them, it was because of
their borrowing the wealth that they experienced the ultimate salvation at Sinai in
the most advanced state.
Chazal tell us that Gd interacts with the world in the manner of measure for
measure. The Egyptians were drowned in the Sea because they killed the firstborn
Jewish males by drowning them in the Nile measure for measure. The revelation of
Divine Justice in the world is a Kiddush Hashem (Sanctification of Gds Name).
The measure for measure punishment that was brought upon the Egyptians at the
Sea was a testament to the world that there is a Judge and there is Justice. The world
is not a random stream of events but rather the Omnipotent Being directs every
aspect of existence.
The splitting of the Sea was not only beneficial for the spiritual development of the
Jewish people as a preparation for Sinai, but also it was a Kiddush Hashem as a
testament of Gds Justice. Even the most advanced civilization in the world was
subject to Divine Justice and could not outwit Gd. Thus, Moshe needed to beseech
the Jewish people to borrow the wealth because despite the fact that the pursuit of
the Egyptians was inevitable, it would bring about the ultimate salvation and
Kiddush Hashem.
17. The Innate Difference Between the Jewish People and the Nations of the
The Torah states, Hashem said to Moshe, I shall harden the heart of Pharaoh so
that I may multiply My signs and My wonders upon EgyptPharaoh will not heed
you, and I shall put My hand upon Egypt. Rashi cites Chazal who explain, Gd
said, It is known to Me that when the nations of the world do teshuvah (repent) they
will not do so with a whole heart. It is better that I harden their hearts so that I
should have the opportunity to increase My signs (miracles) so that the Jewish
people should recognize My strength. Gd brings tragedy and destruction upon the
nations of the world so that the Jewish people should take notice and fear Him. As it
is written, I have cut down nations and made their corners desolate so that you
should take mussar (reproach).
Sifsei Chachamim explain Rashi, Gd said, If I do not harden the heart of Pharaoh,
he and the Egyptians will definitely do teshuvah. However, it is revealed before Me
that it will not be a complete teshuvah with a full heart. If I should bring further
plagues and tragedies upon them, mankind will say This is the way of Gd, that he
brings destruction upon those who do teshuvah. They will not realize that it is only
because they did not do a complete teshuvah. Therefore, I will harden the heart of
Pharaoh so that he should not do teshuvah of any sort, thus avoiding a desecration of
My Name.
When one does not do a complete teshuvah, Gd will bring upon him further
punishment to purge him of his spiritual impurity to bring him to the realization that
his teshuvah was not complete. However because the nations of the world do not
perceive the possibility of punishment in this context, Gd will not allow them to
begin the teshuvah process.
Chazal tell us that when King Solomon built the Bais HaMikdash (Temple) he
prayed to Gd that when the non-Jew comes to pray on the Temple mount, his
prayers should be received regardless of his level of worthiness. This is so he should
not accuse Gd of being unfair. However, regarding the Jewish people, Gd should
only respond to the prayers of those who are worthy. It is because the Jew will
understand that if Gd does not respond to his requests and supplications, it is due to
his unworthiness.
The Midrash tells that there is no nation in the history of existence that Gd began to
punish that was not ultimately destroyed. The reason for this is the more Gd inflicts
punishment upon them, the more they became enraged and defiant with Gd. They
believed that they were undeserving of punishment. As a result of their increased
rejection of Gd, they ultimately had to be destroyed. The Jew, on the other hand,
when tragedy and suffering befall him, will ultimately introspect and reflect on his
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past behavior. This is a fundamental and innate difference between the way the Jew
and the non-Jew process each of their own realities.
It is interesting to note that in the Portion of Haazinu the Torah states, Gd says,
My arrows will be expended from My quiver (inferring that the Jewish people will
not be expended). Rashi cites Chazal who explain this with an allegory. It is
similar to an archer who shoots his arrows at a secure beam. Eventually all his
arrows will be expended but the beam remains standing and intact. So too, despite
the difficulties and suffering that Gd will bring upon His people (to do teshuvah),
they will not be destroyed through punishment. Rather, they will introspect and
bring themselves to a point of reinstatement. This is not the case with the non-Jew.
The Sanctification of Gds Name (Kiddush Hashem) in Egypt was as a result of the
non-Jew not understanding that even if he had done teshuvah, it would not have
been sufficiently complete. They would have not understood that their difficulties
were because of their own shortcomings.
When Gd offered the Torah to the nations of the world at Sinai, their response to
Gd was, What is written in it? They were not willing to accept its dictates unless
they knew in advance that it did not conflict with their own interests. When Gd told
the Edomites (Esav) that the Torah contains the commandment Thou shall not kill,
they responded, We cannot accept the Torah since it is contrary to the blessing that
we received from our grandfather Yitzchak- that we are to live by the sword. Thus,
they rejected it.
If Gd had told them that the Torah contained the mitzvah of honoring ones father
and mother, which was the commandment Esav observed meticulously, the
Edomites would have agreed to accept the Torah. However, the basis for their
acceptance would have been to fulfill their own interest rather than submitting to the
word of Gd. On the other hand, the Jewish people unequivocally declared, Naaseh
vnishma we will do and we will listen, when they were offered the Torah. The
basis for their acceptance of the Torah was that it was the Will of Gd. Their needs
and conflicts of interest were not relevant at that moment. The Jew has the ability to
see beyond his own circumstances and evaluate the moment correctly even if it
means to recognize his own shortcoming.
18. The Eternity of The Jewish People Rooted in Gd
The Torah tells us in the Portion of Shemos that Hashem instructed Moshe to
present himself to Pharaoh and request that the Jews be released from their bondage.
The Torah states, Afterwards Moshe and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, So said
Hashem(YKVK), the Gd of Israel, Send out My people that they may celebrate for
Me in the wilderness. Pharaoh replied, Who is Hashem (YKVK) that I should
heed His voice to send out Israel? I do not know Hashem, nor will I send out Israel!
The Midrash tells us that when Pharaoh was told that Hashem, the Gd of Israel
wanted the Jews to be released, he immediately consulted his book of deities but did
not locate the deity of YKVK (the four letter Name of Gd)-Hashem listed.
Pharaoh thus responded to Moshe, I do not know Hashem. Moshe then said to
Pharaoh, The Gd of the Hebrews (Elokei HaIvrim) happened upon us
It is interesting to note the different appellations for Gd used by Moshe and their
significance. When Moshe initially presented himself to Pharaoh he used the
appellation YKVK Hashem in conjunction with the Jewish people being
referred to as Yisroel- the Children of Israel. However after Pharaohs response,
Moshe changed his presentation as the agent of the Gd of the Hebrews Elokei
HaIvrim He no longer used the appellation of YKVK, and the Jewish people
were referred to as the Hebrews and not Yisroel. How do we understand this?
In the Portion of Vaeira before the plague of Blood, the Torah states, Hashem said
to Moshe, Go to PharaohYou shall say to him, Hashem (YKVK), the Gd of the
Hebrews (Elokei HaIvrim), has sent me to you, saying: Send out My peopleSo
says Hashem, Through this shall you know that I am Hashem; behold, with the staff
that is in my hand I shall strike the waters that are in the River, and they shall change
to blood. The fish that are in the water shall die In this context the appellation for
Gd is Hashem(YKVK); however, regarding His relationship to the Jewish people
He is identified as Elokei HaIvrim- Gd of the Hebrews. What is the significance
of these changes of reference to Gd?
Rabbeinu Bachya explains that the title for the monarch of Egypt was always
Pharaoh. This appellation contains the Hebrew letters ayin, pay, raish which
spells the word aafar dust/earth. The Egyptian people believed that existence
was limited to the physical and the powers at hand/ deities were purely to maintain
physical existence. They rejected the belief of a spiritual realm, which transcends
physical existence. Thus it is befitting that the king of the Egyptian people, who
epitomized the essence of his people, is given the title of Pharaoh which connotes
earthiness and physicality.
The appellation YKVK-Hashem, which denotes I was, I am, and I will be,
identifies Gd as the Infinite and Omnipotent Being. The concept of an infinite Gd
who is not bound by nature and who transcends existence was something that was
rejected by Pharaoh. This is the meaning of his initial response to Moshe, Who is
Hashem (YKVK) that I should heed His voice to send out Israel? I do not know
Hashem (YKVK), nor will I send out Israel! There is no such Being or Power that
goes beyond the finite.
When the Torah refers to the Jewish people as Yisroel or Bnei Yisroel it is
using the appellation that was given to Yaakov after he had wrestled with and
defeated the angel. He had dominated the physical and spiritual, thus establishing
himself as the one who transcends the constraints of physicality. Yaakov was thus
given the name Yisroel which connotes the eternal person, who has relevance to
the infinite. Thus, the Torah initially refers to the Jewish people as Yisroel within
the context of Hashem(YKVK) to indicate that the Jewish people have relevance
to the Being who is YKVK the Infinite/Eternal Being. The basis for the Jewish
people being an eternal people is because of their relationship and connection to
Hashem (YKVK). Just as Hashem cannot be quantified; so too the Jewish people
cannot be quantified. As Gd had promised Avraham, the Jewish people will be as
numerous as the stars in the heaven and the sands on the seashore. This
quantification of the Jewish people is not in a quantitative sense; but rather, in a
qualitative sense. This is the reason the actual number of the Jewish people has
always been insignificant (regarding our physical existence) vis--vis the nations of
the world.
After Pharaoh rejected Moshes presentation of his credentials as the agent of
YKVK, he refers to Gd as Elokei HaIvrim- Gd of the Hebrews because
Pharaoh could not accept the reality of the Infinite. The appellation Elokei
HaIvrim simple means the Power/Deity behind the people who came from the
other side of the river (Ivrim). In terms of the Jews as a physical people, Moshe
refers to their Gd and them as Elokei HaIverim which was a term and
identification that Pharaoh would accept and consider.
In the Portion of Vaeira the Torah uses both appellations for Gd before the onset of
the plague of Blood- Hashem (YKVK), the Gd of the Hebrews (Elokei HaIvrim)
to indicate that if Pharaoh did not release the Jewish people (no different than other
physical nations) he would be punished by Hashem (YKVK) the Infinite Being
who transcends the laws of nature.
Sforno explains that sorcery and witchcraft can only change the appearance of
nature. It cannot change its essence. The sorcerers and magicians of Egypt were able
to change the appearance and texture of the water to seem that it had assumed the
properties of blood. However, its essence remained water. The Torah states that
Moshe had said, I shall strike the waters that are in the River, and they shall
change to blood. The fish that are in the water shall die to indicate that when
Hashem (YKVK) changed the water to blood, its essence was also changed. Sforno
explains that the additional verse, The fish that are in the water shall die is to
qualify that the change to blood was not merely visual but an actual transformation.
Moshe initially was communicating to Pharaoh that the Jewish people were physical
beings only because of their circumstance; however, their essence was spiritual with
relevance to the Infinite and Omnipotent Being YKVH (Hashem). Despite the fact
that Pharaoh could not believe in such a Being, he would be compelled to accept this
belief through the plague of Blood because it is only the Creator of the Universe
(the Omnipotent One) who could transform water into blood.
19. Appreciating Gds Mercy
The Portion of Vaeira begins, Vyadaber Elokim - Gd spoke to Moshe and said to
him, I am Hashem Rashi cites Chazal who explain, the Portion begins with the
appellation of Elokim because it connotes the Attribute of Justice. At the end of
the previous Portion, the straw subsidy that was provided by the Egyptian
government (as one of the materials needed to manufacture bricks) was withdrawn
from the Jewish people. However the same quota that was demanded of them until
time was not reduced- despite the fact that the Jews themselves needed to gather
their own straw for the manufacturing of the bricks. Moshe said to Hashem, My
Lord, why have You done bad to this people? Why have You sent me? Hashem
responded to Moshe, Now you will see what I shall do to Pharaoh
The Midrash tells us that the word Now in the verse infers that Moshe would only
now witness the redemption and exodus from Egypt but will not merit to bring the
Jewish people into the Promised Land/ Canaan. Because Moshe had no right to
express himself in the manner that he had, he forfeited the right to enter into the
Land. Thus, Moshe is addressed by Gd as Elokim to indicate he was being judged
by the Attribute of Justice. Additionally the term vyadaber- spoke is a more
formal manner of speech than vayomer-said. Gd was communicating to Moshe in
a most formal manner.
Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains that the verse which concludes with the words I
am Hashem, indicates that Hashem is the Gd of Mercy. Meaning what Moshe had
depicted and understood as having done bad to the Jewish people, as an
expression as His Attribute of Justice, was in fact an expression of His Attribute of
Mercy. The Jewish people were meant to be in Egypt for 400 years as Gd had said
to Avraham our Patriarch. However, because of the intensity of suffering, the
bondage was reduced to 210 years. Thus, the withdrawal of the straw subsidy was in
fact an expression of Gds Mercy because it shortened their stay in Egypt. Moshe
should have recognized this as mercy and not questioned Gd as he had done.
The Midrash Tanchuma explains that Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov did not
question Hashem although He did not reveal His Name (YKVK) to them. However,
Hashem did reveal His Name (YKVK) to Moshe and he did question Him. Thus
because of this failing, Moshe would only witness the initial redemption but would
not enter into the Promised Land. The Midrash concludes, Moshe was judged with
the Attribute of Justice as the verse states, Vyadaber Elokim - Gd spoke to
Moshe However the Jewish people were judged with the Attribute of Mercy as
the verse states, I am Hashem. Meaning, although Moshe was not worthy of the
Attribute of Mercy, nevertheless, the ultimate redemption would only come through
the Attribute of Mercy.
One could think that the Jewish people, although they are undeserving, succeed
because of their leaders. However, this is not the case. It is true that without a person
who did not have the qualifications of Moshe Rabbeinu, the redemption could not
have taken place. However, Moshe was only able to evolve into the special person
that he was only because he was needed to be the one to take the Jews out of Egypt.
Since Jewish people needed to be redeemed they needed a qualified Redeemer. The
emphasis is not on the Redeemer it is on the merit and worthiness of those who are
to be redeemed. The Jewish people themselves have merit because of their Patriarchs
(Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov) and thus Hashem will always provide them with a
qualified Redeemer.
20. The Objective of the Plagues
The Torah states regarding the Plague of Frogs, Hashem said to Moshe, Say to
Aaron, Stretch out your hand with your staff over the riversand raise up the frogs
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 23
over the land of Egypt. The Torah tells us that the frogs had pervaded all of Egypt
the houses, the land, and even entered into the innards of the Egyptian people. The
plague reached an intolerable level. Pharaoh summoned Moshe to request of him to
remove the plague. Moshe agreed to do so saying, It shall be as you requested so
that you will know that there is none like Hashem, our Gd. Meaning, the purpose
of the Plague of Frogs and its subsequent removal was so that Pharaoh should
know that there is no Being that is comparable to Hashem.
The Torah reveals the objective for the Plague of Wild Beasts and its subsequent
removal. The Torah states, I shall incite against youthe swarm of wild
beastsso that you will know that I am Hashem in the midst of the land
Additionally the Torah states regarding the Plague of Hail, For this time I shall
shall know that there is none like Me in all the world The Torah makes it a point
to continuously use the phrase so that you shall know It does not state, so that
you shall understand that I am Gd... Evidently there is a difference between
knowing and understanding.
Understanding is based on intellectual reasoning and comprehension. One can
develop an understanding of something through a process of reasoning. However if
it should be demonstrated that ones understanding or evaluation of something was
incorrect, based on false reasoning, then it would cause him to change his
understanding of fact. Because Understanding is based on evaluation, it is thus
subject to conflict of interest. However, the term knowing is applied and utilized
in a situation that is not based on intellectual evaluation and reasoning; but rather, on
fact. For example, one knows that if he were to put his hand into fire he would be
burned. There is no need for the intellectual process to be utilized to come upon this
reality. Thus, it is not subject to conflict of interest.
The Torah uses the term know and not understand regarding the objective of the
plagues, in order to communicate that Gds obviousness in each one of these
instances was at such a revealed level that it was established as fact. Thus, Gds
Omnipotence could not be denied. One did not require any level of intellectualism or
reasoning to accept this truth.
Pirkei Avos (Ethics of our Fathers) states, Rebbe says, If one considers these three
things he will never sin. You should know what is above you. There is a seeing eye,
a listening ear, and all of your actions are recorded in a ledger It is interesting to
note that the term used by Rebbe is not you should understand but rather you
should know. Meaning, if one knows that there is a seeing eye, a listening ear,
and that all of ones actions are recorded, it is only then that one will not sin. One
must live every moment of his life knowing that Gd and His involvement in
creation is fact. If one internalizes this as a reality, he will not sin. It is only when
one believes this on a conceptual level and not as fact/reality, that ones conflicts of
interests could allow him to see it differently. Chazal also tell us, You should know
before whom you stand. Here again, the term know is used rather than
The objective of the plagues of Egypt was to reveal and present to the Jewish people
and the Egyptians that Gd is a reality and His omnipotence is fact. King David lived
every moment of his life knowing that there is a Gd. Gd was always before his
eyes as it is stated in Tehillim (Psalms), Hashem is always before my eyes.
Anything that is less than knowing is subject to ones conflict of interest.

Rabbi Shlomo Katz
Parshas Acharei Mos - Habits
Volume 28, No. 29 12 Nissan 5774 April 12, 2014
Sponsored by Aaron and Rona Lerner in memory of their fathers Avraham
ben Yaakov Hakohen ah and Yaakov Yonah ben Yisrael ah
The Neugroschl family on the yahrzeit of Genendel bat Yaakov vRachel
Martin and Michelle Swartz on the yahrzeit of his grandmother, Eva (ne
Kalikow) Lichman ah
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Beitzah 13
Much of this weeks parashah is devoted to describing the sacrificial
service that the Kohen Gadol was required to perform whenever he entered
the Holy of Holies. The Torah says (Vayikra 16:2), He shall not come at
all times into the Sanctuary . . . Why not?
Rashi explains: Because My Shechinah is revealed there, Aharon should
be careful not to enter regularly. R Chaim Shmuelevitz zl (1902-1979;
Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva in Shanghai and Yerushalayim) elaborates: Habit is
the greatest enemy of one who wishes to feel holy and uplifted. When one
stands opposite that which is sublime and exalted, and in his soul burn
sparks of a holy fire, habit sneaks in and douses the embers one by one
until the entire fire is extinguished.
R Shmuelevitz continues: The prophet Yechezkel writes (46:9), When
the populace comes before Hashem on the appointed days, whoever comes
in by way of the northern gate [of the Temple] to prostrate himself shall go
out by way of the southern gate, and whoever comes in by way of the
southern gate shall go out by way of the northern gate. He shall not return
by way of the gate through which he came in; rather, he shall go out
opposite it. R Yosef Yaavetz zl (died 1507) explains that Hashem
doesnt want a person to see one of the gates twice lest he equate it in his
mind with the gate of his own house. Likewise, he shouldnt see the same
wall of the Bet Hamikdash twice lest he equate it with the walls of his own
house. In fact, writes R Yaavetz, this is what caused the sin of the Golden
Calf, for they took the Ohel Moed for granted and began to despise it.
Therefore, after the sin, we read (Shemot 33:7) that Moshe dismantled the
Tent and rebuilt it outside of the camp. (Sichot Mussar 5731, No. 16)
Aharon shall lean his two hands upon the head of the living he-goat
and confess upon it all the iniquities of Bnei Yisrael, . . . and send it with
a designated man to the desert. The he-goat will bear upon itself all their
iniquities to an uninhabited land, and he [the messenger] should send
the he-goat to the desert. (16:21-22)
The Mishnah (Yoma 66a) teaches that, even though it was Yom Kippur,
there were way-stations where food and drink were offered to the man
taking the seir lazazel to the desert. However, says the Gemara (Yoma
67a), the person never needed the food or drink. This illustrates the
principle that one who has bread in his basket is not like one who does
not have bread in his basket, i.e., a person who has the ability to fulfill a
particular desire generally does not desire that thing as strongly as does
one who does not have the ability to fulfill that desire.
Rabbeinu Nissim zl (Ran; 14th century; Barcelona, Spain) writes that
this is the same principle which states that a mitzvah performed by one
who is obligated to perform that mitzvah merits greater reward than does
the same mitzvah performed by one who is not obligated to perform that
mitzvah. When one is obligated to do a certain mitzvah, the yetzer hara
resists. One who is not obligated does not experience that resistance, just
as someone who has bread in his basket is immune from the whiles of
the yetzer hara.
Ran continues: There is another reason why a mitzvah performed by one
who is obligated earns greater reward than does the same mitzvah
performed by one who is not obligated. If G-d commands that a certain
mitzvah be done by a certain category of people or in certain
circumstances, and not others, it is because that is the only way the
secret behind that mitzvah can be actualized. Even though a person who
is not commanded may still be permitted to do that particular mitzvah, his
actions do not accomplish the tikkun / spiritual rectification that that
mitzvah was designed to accomplish. (Derashot HaRan: drush chamishi,
nusach bet)
Elsewhere, Ran offers a third reason for why a mitzvah performed by one
who is obligated merits greater reward than does the same mitzvah
performed by one who is not obligated. If G-d needed our mitzvot, then
there would be no difference between one who is commanded and one
who is not, for each would have given G-d exactly the same thing. In fact,
however, G-d does not need our mitzvot; rather, they were given to us in
order bring us merit. That merit, however, can come about only by
following G-ds instructions, not by doing things He did not command.
(Derashot HaRan: drush shevii)
From the Haftarah . . .
Behold! I send you Elyah the prophet, before the great and awesome day
of Hashem. (Malachi 3:23)
R Yitzchak Weiss zl (rabbi of Verbau, Slovakia; killed in the Holocaust)
notes that the initial Hebrew letters in the phrase, Behold! I send you
Elyah the prophet, have a gematria of 343. This alludes to the 343 out of
the 613 mitzvot which cannot be practiced today. After Eliyahu Hanavi
heralds the redemption and mashiach arrives, we will again practice these
commandments. (Siach Yitzchak p.151)
Shabbat Hagadol
Why is the Shabbat preceding Pesach called Shabbat Hagadol / the
Great Sabbath? R Zelig Reuven Bengis zl (1864-1953; rabbi of Bodki
and Kalvarija, Lithuania; later rabbi of the Eidah Hachareidis of
Yerushalayim) suggests the following reason:
Midrash Rabbah relates that Moshe Rabbeinu persuaded Pharaoh to give
his slaves, Bnei Yisrael, one day of rest every week, and Moshe chose
Shabbat as their day off. At that point, however, Shabbat was nothing
more than a day of physical rest; it did not yet have a spiritual component.
Indeed, our Sages teach that Bnei Yisrael were mired in idolatry like their
Egyptian neighbors.
Before the Exodus, Hashem commanded Bnei Yisrael to set aside lambs to
offer as the korban Pesach. Lambs were holy to the Egyptians; thus,
fulfilling this commandment meant breaking from the idolatry of the
Egyptians and expressing emunah / faith in Hashem. The day on which
Bnei Yisrael set aside lambs to slaughter as offerings was the tenth of
Nissan, which that year fell on Shabbat. That Shabbat was the first one on
which Bnei Yisrael did more than rest physically; they experienced a day
of spirituality. Thus, it was a greater Shabbat than any previous one.
(Lflagot Reuven - Haggadah Shel Pesach p.17)
R Yishmael Hakohen zl (Modena, Italy; died 1811) writes: There are
two conflicting midrashim regarding the reason for the Ten Plagues.
According to the Midrash Rabbah, each of the plagues was a punishment
for some aspect of the slavery that the Egyptians imposed on Bnei Yisrael.
For example, because the Egyptians did not let the women of Bnei Yisrael
immerse in a mikvah, their water turned to blood; because they forced
Bnei Yisrael to gather small animals for them, they were swarmed by
frogs; because they forced Bnei Yisrael to sweep their marketplaces, the
dust of those marketplaces turned to lice; etc. According to the Midrash
Tanchuma, on the other hand, each of the plagues represents a weapon that
a king would use against a rebellious province: First, he cuts off their
water supply, next he disturbs their peace with loud noises, then he shoots
24 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
arrows at them, etc. Likewise, Hashem first attacked the Egyptians water
supply (blood), next he disturbed their peace with loud noises (frogs), then
he shot arrows at them (lice), etc.
What is the point of departure for this disagreement? R Yishmael
explains: The disagreement is whether the primary purpose of the plagues
was to punish the Egyptians for enslaving Bnei Yisrael or it was to force
the Egyptians to let Bnei Yisrael go. According to the Midrash Rabbah it
was the former; according to the Midrash Tanchuma, the latter.
What is the practical implication for us? R Yishmael answers: There is a
well-known midrash which teaches that the angels wished to sing praises
of Hashem after the Egyptians drowned in the Yam Suf, but Hashem told
them, My creations are drowning in the sea, and you want to sing?
Commentaries ask: Why then were Bnei Yisrael allowed to sing? Because
they benefitted directly from the drowning of the Egyptians.
Similarly, concludes R Yishmael, if the primary purpose of the plagues
was for our benefit, as the Midrash Tanchuma holds, then we should give
praise and thanks to G-d for the plagues. On the other hand, if the primary
purpose was to punish the Egyptians, we should not rejoice at the plagues,
as it is written (Mishlei 24:7), When your enemy falls, do not rejoice.
(Haggadah Shel Pesach Shevach Pesach)
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Rabbi Dov Kramer
Taking A Closer Look
The judgment of the Egyptians [lasted for] 12 months (Eiduyos 2:10).
There is much discussion about what this judgment consisted of, and
how it could have lasted for 12 months. The starting point for much of the
discussion is Rashis explanation of the seven days given for length of
the plague of blood (Shmos 7:25); the plague was active for a quarter of
a month (the seven days mentioned in the verse) and [for] three [quarters
of the month] he (Moshe) warned them (about the plague). If each plague
lasted for one month, and there were 10 plagues, the judgment of Egypt
should have only lasted 10 months, not 12. Why are there two additional
months that are considered part of the judgment of Egypt, and what was
happening that it qualifies as part of their judgment? Numerous approaches
have been suggested to deal with this issue.
Yfeh Toar, commentating on Shmos Rabbah (9:12, the Midrash that
Rashi is based on), says explicitly that this Midrash is not consistent with
the Mishna in Eiduyos, as according to the Midrash the judgment of
Egypt must have only lasted nine months (one month each for the first
nine plagues; the tenth plague followed immediately after the ninth, so no
additional time had passed). However, there is no need (aside from thereby
sidestepping having to reconcile the Mishna with the Midrash) to say that
the term judgment must refer to the actual plagues. As a matter of fact,
the Vilna Gaon, in his commentary on Seder Olam (3) saying that the
plagues of Egypt [lasted] 12 months, says that Seder Olam does not
literally mean the plagues, as the 12 months started from the time G-d
spoke to Moshe at the burning bush, which Seder Olam (5) says was
during the time of Pesach. (The Gaon brings a couple of proofs that Seder
Olam could not have meant that the actual plagues lasted 12 months.)
Therefore, even though attributing the discrepancy between the Mishna
and the Midrash to a difference of opinion avoids having to attempt a
reconciliation, the attempt to understand what the Mishna meant by the
judgment of Egypt is much more inviting than just sweeping the issue
Midrash Seichel Tov is among the commentators who count incomplete
months in the number 12. Moshe and Aharon came to Paro (Pharaoh) at
the end of Iyar in 2447, and the nation left in the middle of Nisan 2448, so
when you add those two partial months to the ten complete months in
between them, you have a judgment of 12 months. Among the issues
this approach has to deal with is that the 12 months of the judgment of
the Egyptians is just one set of 12 months listed in the Mishna, and the
others seem to be complete months without having to count any partial
months. As a matter of fact, if we count partial months as months, the
generation of the flood would have been judged for 13 months, not 12,
as Noach entered the ark on the 17th day of the 7th month (Braishis 7:11)
and the land dried on the 27th day of the 7th month of the following year
(Braishis 8:14, with the extra 11 days completing a solar year).
Rav Yaakov Emden (Lechem Shamayim, his commentary on the Mishna)
suggests that Moshe went to see Paro in the middle of Nisan (2447) to ask
him to send G-ds people out, at which point G-d started sitting in
judgment of the Egyptians and Paro started to feel G-ds punishment (as
his power was being challenged). A month later (in the middle of Iyar),
Moshe went back to Paro, which was when he and Aharon did the
snake/stick trick (Shmos 7:10). After another month (in the middle of
Tamuz) the process of the first plague began when Paro was warned it was
coming if he didn't back down. By adding two months before the first
plague, and explaining why they were considered part of the judgment of
Egypt, our issue has been resolved. However, other issues are now raised
in its place.
For one thing, Seder Olam uses Iyar as a reference point in his timeline
(how it is used depends on how his timeline is understood, a matter of
discussion that we will put aside for now) because that is when the straw
Paro made the Children of Israel start to collect (Shmos 5:7) is available
in the fields. Paro added this task right after Moshes first trip to see him,
which Rabbi Emden says was in the middle of Nisan, not in Iyar.
Nevertheless, Seder Olam (5) says that Moshe spent a week trying to get
out of being the person to take the nation out of Egypt, meaning that he
left the burning bush with only a week left in Nisan, not halfway
through it. And he went back to Midyan to get his family and take leave of
his father-in law (Shmos 4:18-20) before heading to Egypt, which had to
take more than one day (since G-d had to tell Moshe again in Midyan to go
back to Egypt, see 4:19, and he stayed at an inn on the way to Egypt, see
4:24). All of this occurred before going to Paro, meaning that Moshe
didnt see Paro the first time until the very end of Nisan (at the earliest),
which fits with the straw season being in Iyar. Although this removes
the possibility of there being exactly 12 months from Paros first refusal to
send the Children of Israel out until they actually left Egypt, if we include
the drowning in the sea as part of their judgment (which is quite
reasonable), we are off by only a couple of days.
Other issues with this approach that need to be resolved are the Midrashim
(e.g. Bamidbar Rabbah 11:2) that say Moshe disappeared for three months
after he saw Paro the first time before going back to see him the second
time, as well as the fact that a month is not needed for the tenth plague
(Rabbi Emden only accounts for two missing months, not three).
However, if the plagues started a month later (in Av), and we move the
snake/stick scene to shortly before the first plague, we have a three
month interval between Moshes first visit to Paro and his second.
Midrash HaGadol (7:25) is among the sources who say that even though
each plague lasted for a month, there was a week in between one plague
and the warning of the next one. First Moshe would warn Paro about the
upcoming plague for (approximately) three weeks, then the plague would
last a week (to complete the month), then G-d would wait a week before
sending Moshe to warn Paro about the next one. If we take away the week
between the ninth and tenth plagues (since they came back-to back), and
dont give the tenth plague its own month (since the nation left the next
day), we are still one month short. Nevertheless, if we dont need a three
week warning before the third, sixth and ninth plagues either (since the
Torah doesnt mention Moshe going to Paro before these plagues), we now
have three months plus an additional week that we can assign to Moshes
disappearance. Some (e.g. Or Hachayim on Shmos 7:25) say that when
Paro asked Moshe to remove a plague, that plague didnt last the full
week. If that plagues month was thereby cut short, and the week
between plagues started right away rather than waiting until the previous
plague would have ended, the extra week above and beyond the three
months attributed to Moshes disappearance could easily be accounted for.
Seder HaDoros has Moshes three month disappearance coming after the
first plague. By adding three months to the nine months of the first nine
plagues, the 12 month judgment started with the first plague and ended
after the tenth plague. However, the first plague couldnt have started
until, at the earliest, the very end of Nisan 2447 (accounting for the week
spent by the burning bush, the trip to and from Midyan, the first two trips
to Paro (made before the third trip when Paro was warned about the first
plague, see Shmos 7:14-17), and all that happened in between those first
two trips (such as adding to the chores of the slaves, the complaints to Paro
about it, the complaints to Moshe for making things worse, and Moshe's
complaint to G-d for making it worse, see 5:6-23), while the tenth plague
hit in the middle of Nisan 2448, leaving us about a half a month short of
12 months. Additionally, Moshes three month disappearance can be easily
explained if it occurred after his first trip to Paro made things worse (the
Midrashim that mention his disappearance are discussing this time period).
But why would Moshe disappear for three months after the plagues had
already started?
[It should be noted that some Midrashim (e.g. Shmos Rabbah 5:20) have
Moshe disappearing for six months, not three. It is obviously much more
difficult to make this time frame work if each plague lasted a month and
we are limited to a 12 month period of time. (Midrash Seichel Tov says
that according to this opinion the plagues started in Shvat -- hence its
name, which connotes a stick of retribution -- with each plague lasting a
week, i.e. ten plagues in ten weeks.)]
The most straightforward timeline is the one put forth by Yfeh Toar (see
also Yday Moshe), despite the fact that he says theres no need to
reconcile the Mishna with the Midrash about the length of each plague.
(He doesnt get as specific as I am about to get.) Moshe agreed to go to
Paro after a week-long discussion at the burning bush, a discussion that
started on what would become the first day of Pesach. The 12 months of
the judgment of the Egyptians started after Moshe agreed to go, and
ended when G-d threw the [Egyptian] chariots and horseman into the sea
a week after the nation left Egypt. Moshe disappeared for three months
after his first visit to Paro because he was so distraught about things
having become worse. Although Yfeh Toar says that each of the first
nine plagues last a month (even those where no warning is mentioned in
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 25
the Torah), it is more likely (as many commentators say explicitly) that
there was no warning before the third, sixth or ninth plagues (as each set of
three plagues taught a specific message, and once a warning was ignored
the first two times for each message, there was no third warning). This
gives us an additional nine weeks (or more, if the warnings were longer
than 21 days and/or the week of the actual plague was shortened when
Paro temporarily gave in), but it allows for a healthy amount of time for
Moshes return to Midyan, his first trip back to Egypt, and the time
between the snake/stick showdown and Moshe being instructed to warn
Paro about the first plague. As long as we arent limited to the 12
months starting with the first plague (and the Vilna Gaon presents a
strong argument why we are not), and the judgment of Egypt can start
when everything was set to begin their punishment (i.e. Moshe agreeing to
be G-ds messenger), there is no contradiction between the formula for
each plague being three weeks of warning plus one week of
implementation and the judgment of Egypt lasting 12 months.

Rabbi Label Lam
Dvar Torah
Pesach - Out of Order
1-Kadesh -the recitation of Kiddush. 2-Urchatz -washing the hands. 3-Karpas -
eating a vegetable dipped in salt-water. 4-Yachatz -breaking of the middle
Matza. 5-Maggid -the recitation of the Haggada. 6-Rachtzah -washing of the
hands a second time. 7-Motzi reciting the blessing Hamotzi. 8- Matzah -
reciting of the blessing al Achilas Matzo, eating the Matza. 9-Marror -eating
the bitter herbs. 10-Korech -eating a sandwich of Matza and bitter herbs. 11-
Shulchan Oruch -eating the festive meal. 12-Tzafun -eating the Afikomen. 13-
Barech -the recitation of Birchas HaMazon. 14-Hallel -the recitation of Hallel
songs of praise. 15-Nirtzah -our prayer that G-d accepts our service. (To see
a full list of explinations of each step, see:
These are the fifteen steps of the Pesach Seder which are sung or recited aloud
at the beginning of the Seder. Why do we recite the steps ahead of time? There
is a very obvious pedagogical reason.
Pesach night we have a sacred obligation to relate the experience of the Exodus
to each and every one of our children. We dont want this holy opportunity to
relapse into an amateur hour. Admittedly, many of us may lack the skill and
training to manage the task of teaching a wide variety of interests and
intellectual capacities with the same lesson. Teaching is hard. Not everybody is
up to the task. Even if we think we are, its not always easy to be the lecturer to
our own children. They are just too familiar with us and we know what that
familiarity breeds- contempt if not boredom. They know all of our speeches
already. So we have to do something different to grab and hold their attention.
Thats the challenge of the night.
Boruch HASHEM we have the Haggada, which is not less than the greatest
and most successful lesson plan of all time. The sages understood the nature of
the beast. A good lesson plans needs a hook- an anticipatory set and an
It should employ a multitude of modalities, using many senses and in various
combinations. Since every child present is presumed to be different we need a
plan with differentiated instruction and accommodation for those who are just
not getting it.The Haggada has all this and more.
We need the children to stay awake, so we have a raffle, of sorts in the
beginning with a chance for big prizes in the end, namely the Afikomen. Most
important, to keep kids awake and attentive even, is to announce in the
beginning that we know where we are headed and we have signs along the way
to indicate we are making progress. Nothing is more painful than an enduring a
lecture of any length, if there is no pre-set time for conclusion or indicators that
the end in in sight.
When settling onto a plane, the pilot always announces the schedule, the Seder,
of what will unfold, from the take-off, to the climbing to a certain height, to the
showing of a movie, and serving of the meal and finally the time of arrival and
the all-important port of destination. We too look forward with anticipation to
arriving in or taking one giant step closer to Jerusalem by the conclusion of the
Seder. We know where we are going and how we are going to get there. There
will be entertainment and food and song along the way. Its not an endless
journey into the unknown. The main and comforting message at the beginning
is that all is in order- HaKol BSeder.
Recently I took note of the sign on the copy machine in school. It wasnt good
news. The sign read, out of order.This time it caught my attention in a new
way. When something does not work we call it out of order. The
conventional wisdom, though, is, If it aint broke dont fix it! At the Pesach
Seder, all we have to do is buckle in and follow the program so no-thing and
no-body is out of order
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602-1350 FAX: (410) 510-1053

Rabbi Eli Mansour
Weekly Perasha Insights
Parashat Ahare Mot- The Lesson of the White and Gold Garments
We read in Parashat Ahareh-Mot of the special service which the Kohen
Gadol would perform on Yom Kippur in the Bet Hamikdash. One of the
many fascinating features of this service is the special garments worn by
the Kohen Gadol. Yom Kippur marked the only time any human being
would enter the Kodesh Hakodashim the innermost chamber in the Bet
Hamikdash and before entering the Kohen Gadol would change out of
his ordinary priestly vestments and wear plain white clothes. The reason,
as the Gemara explains, is En Kategor Naasa Sanigor, which literally
means, A prosecutor cannot become a defender. The standard garments
of the Kohen Gadol contained gold, and gold is reminiscent of the Egel
Hazahab (the golden calf). And thus as the Kohen Gadol enters the sacred
chamber to beseech G-d for compassion and forgiveness on behalf of the
Jewish people, he must not wear gold garments, which bring to mind the
grievous sin of the golden calf. He therefore changes out of his ordinary
gold vestments and wears special white garments when he enters the
Kodesh Hakodashim.
The question, however, arises, why does the Kohen Gadol wear his
ordinary gold garments for the rest of the Yom Kippur service, when he is
not in the Kodesh Hakodashim? If wearing these garments will have the
adverse effect of bringing to mind the golden calf, then why does the
Kohen Gadol not avoid them altogether throughout the entirety of the Yom
Kippur service?
Many stories are told of great Sadikim who always looked to see the
positive, admirable qualities of their fellow Jews. The most famous of
these is likely the great Hassidic master Rabbi Levi Yishak of Berditchev
(1740-1809), who always came to the defense of other Jews. It is told that
once on Tisha BAb he happened to pass by a gentile-owned eatery and
saw a Jew sitting there and eating. The Rabbi approached him and asked if
he was aware that it was Tisha BAb, when eating was forbidden. The man
apathetically answered that he was fully aware that it was a fast day. The
Rabbi proceeded to ask if the man was aware of the fact that the food he
was eating was non-kosher, and the man again calmly acknowledged that
he knew he was eating non-kosher food.
Rav Levi Yishak turned to the heavens and said, Master of world, look
how wonderful Your children are! Even when they disobey You, they still
speak the truth!
Stories like this one are certainly inspiring and set a crucial example for us
to follow, but they also raise an important question: what happened to the
Torah obligation to reprimand our fellow Jew? In the next Parasha,
Parashat Kedoshim, the Torah commands, Hocheah Tochiah Et
Amitecha, that we must point out mistakes made by our fellow Jew in
order to help them improve. Needless to say, this must only be done in a
way and in a context that offers the realistic possibility of effecting
positive change. If one has reason to suspect that his criticism would be
ignored or rejected, then he must not say anything. Nevertheless, the fact
that the Torah requires criticizing under the proper conditions necessarily
means that we must take note of wrongful behavior, and we cannot always
look only at the positive aspects of our fellow Jew. How, then, do we
reconcile these two values offering constructive criticism, and focusing
our attention on the positive qualities of other people?
The answer can be found in the Yom Kippur service. Rav Zalman
Sorotzkin (1880-1966) commented that there is a difference between the
way the Kohen Gadol approached G-d, and the way he appeared before the
people. When he came before G-d, he, like Rav Levi Yishak of
Berditchev, spoke only positively about the Jewish people. G-d does not
want any of us complaining to him about His other children. He wants us
to love and respect one another and pray for their wellbeing, without
paying attention to their faults and mistakes. Therefore, the Kohen Gadol
could not wear gold when he came before G-d. But outside the Kodesh
Hakodashim, when the Kohen Gadol appeared before the people, it was
certainly appropriate for him to wear gold and subtly remind the people of
their sins and the need to improve. The gold garments that have no place in
the Kodesh Hakodashim were perfectly acceptable and played an
important role outside, when the Kohen Gadol faced the people.
The lesson of the Kohen Gadols garments, then, is that we must exercise
great caution when casting judgments about our fellow Jew. On the one
hand, if we see wrongful behavior and we are in a position to correct it, we
are not only entitled, but obligated, to do what we can, in an appropriate
manner and setting. Otherwise, however, when there is no practical
purpose intended, we must follow Rav Levi Yishaks inspiring example
and look only for the admirable and praiseworthy qualities of all our
fellow Jews.
National Council of Young Israel
Weekly Dvar Torah
Hagadol, Haftorah, Haggadah
By Rabbi Moshe Sosevsky
Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel
One of the reasons given as to why this Shabbat is called Shabbat HaGadol
attributes it to the special Haftorah assigned to this Shabbat, where the closing
verses speak of the coming of Elijah the Prophet before the great and
awesome day of the Lord (Yom HaGadol VHaNorah).
If the central identifying factor of Shabbat HaGadol is the theme of the
Haftorah, it seems most intriguing that in the entire Haftorah there is not one
reference to Passover. While there is indeed a tradition that the Prophet Elijah
participates in our Seder, this is nothing more than a tradition and is, at best,
peripheral to the central themes of enslavement and freedom that is at the core
of the holiday. Strangely, the focal theme of the Haftorah is the subject of the
26 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
Suffering of the Innocent. While this is indeed a central theological issue in
Judaism, it does not appear to be anything more than minor to Passovers major
themes. Why then, from the all the Haftorahs in Tanach, was this chosen as the
Haftorah of Shabbat HaGadol?
The Midrash in Shemot Rabbah (5:18) tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu was able
to negotiate a day of rest for the Jews in Egypt (assuming Pharaoh accepted it
because Moshe convinced him that the Jews would be more productive after a
day of rest). Apparently the day of rest chosen was the Sabbath. According to
the Midrash, on that day, Moshe studied the Megillot with them (they had
Megillot on hand from which they found enjoyment each Shabbat). Yet,
Pharaoh soon rescinded his permission for a day of respite by ordering
(Shemoth 5:9): let the work be heavier on the people and let them not
delight on false words. According to the Midrash, that is a reference to the
Megillot they studied.
Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, in his work Emet LYakov, asks: What Megillot did
Klal Yisrael possibly posses at this juncture, well before the giving of the
Torah? He suggests that one of the Megillot they might have had in their
possession was Tehillim 92, A Mizmor for the Sabbath Day which, according
to an opinion of Chazal, was authored by Moshe Rabbeinu (See Baba Batra
14B). Yet strangely, there too, the major theme of the Psalm is not Shabbat, but
the Suffering of the Righteous: When the wicked bloom like grass and all the
doers of iniquity blossom.
Furthermore, Chazal attribute authorship of the Book of Iyov to Moshe
Rabbeinu, a work whose entire theme is the Suffering of the Innocent.
Assuming that Moshe was too busy to author such a lengthy and difficult
philosophical work once the Torah was given, we can suppose he authored it
earlier. And so, this too, may have been another of the Megillot in Klal
Yisraels possession from which they found delight.
In this suggestion, Rav Kaminetsky intuited the words of the author of Meor
Einayim, Rabbi Azaryah of Adumim, who writes in the name of an early
scholar from the days of Rabbeinu HaKadosh that he found written in an
ancient scroll, how Moshe Rabbeinu would carry Sefer Iyov back and forth to
the elders of Israel during the subjugation in Egypt. (See R Yaakov
Kaminetsky on A Mizmor for the Shabbath Day [Jewish Thought: A Journal of
Torah Scholarship, Vol 3 No.2]. Parenthetically, considering the great
philosophical complexity of Sefer Iyov, we can perceive the incredible depth of
Klal Yisrael even in their period of Egyptian bondage).
By now we must wonder: why was Moshe Rabbeinu so taken up with this one
topic that he would have placed such efforts in authoring works on the subject,
and have been so involved in their dissemination?
The answer lies in the realization that this issue was undoubtedly the major
philosophical question facing the Jews in Egypt. What justice is there in the
fact that they, the sons of the Avot, would be subjected to such backbreaking
bondage? Even more troubling, were they not the descendents of Shem who in
the first post-deluge narrative in
Parshat Noach, was blessed for covering his fathers nakedness? Indeed, he
was assured that he would lord over the descendents of Cham who were cursed
in the aftermath of that incident with eternal enslavement to Shem and Yephet.
Still, the Egyptians (descendents of Cham) were cruelly enslaving them.
Undoubtedly this issue shook the very foundations of their faith and forced
Moshe to spend major efforts in addressing this extremely perplexing issue via
the works that he authored and by distributing their teaching among the masses.
The problem appears so daunting that we may indeed wonder what its solution
could be.
The answer lies in the close of Mizmor Shir LYom HaShabbat and in our
Haftorah of Shabbat HaGadol. Ultimately the righteous shall blossom as a
date tree (Psalm 92). And in Malachi 3:18: You shall return and see the
distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves G-d
and one who does not serve Him.
At the time, the Egyptian Bondage seemed the ultimate perversion of justice
and a reversal of biblical assurances.
Yet seen in retrospect, it was nothing more than the requisite stages of
preparation for the eternal freedom which we will celebrate on the holiday of
Pesach when we were delivered from bondage to freedom and from darkness
to a great light.
And so, the theme of the Suffering of the Innocent becomes a theme most
relevant to Pesach which, in a real sense, represents the resolution to the
problem by teaching that, to gain a true glimpse of reality, we must often view
history from a far broader perspective than from any particular period.
Therefore, at any specific moment in our complex history, we can restore our
faith in our Redeemer as we await that great and awesome day when G-d shall
turn back the hearts of the fathers to the sons and the hearts of the sons to the
fathers. Just as in Egypt, on that great day, all of historys injustices shall be
permanently resolved and like the days of Mitzrayim, I shall show you
wonders. Shabbat Shalom.
The Weekly Sidra- Acharei Mos
By Rabbi Moshe Greebel
Associate Member, Young I srael Council of Rabbis, Belmar, NJ
One Shabbos, the Rabbi told his congregation, "Next week, my sermon
will be all about the sin of lying, and to help you understand it better, I
would like you all to read Leviticus Chapter 28 before next Shabbos."
The following Shabbos, at the start of his sermon, the Rabbi asked his
congregation, "How many of you have read Leviticus Chapter 28?"
Every hand exuberantly went up.
The Rabbi smiled and said, Since Leviticus has only 27 chapters, our
sermon this week will deal with the grave sin of lying.
As is well known, with the exception of the Kohain Gadol (high Kohain)
on Yom Kippur, no one was permitted to enter the Kodesh HaKadashim
(Holy of Holies) in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) or in either of the Batei
Mikdashim (Temples). Even the Kohain Gadol himself could not enter the
Kodesh HaKadashim whenever he wished, as the following Passuk (verse)
from this weeks Sidra clearly attests:
And HaShem said to Moshe, Speak to Aharon your brother, that he come
not at all times into the holy place inside the veil before the covering,
which is upon the ark; that he die not; for I will appear in the cloud upon
the covering. (Vayikra 16:2)
In the next Passuk the Torah turns to how the Kohain Gadol should enter
the Kodesh HaKadashim on Yom Kippur:
With this (BZos) shall Aharon come into the holy place with a young
bull for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. (ibid. 16:3)
Now, many times in our mailings we have spoken of the efficiency of
words in the Torah, whereby nothing is superfluous. This being so, could
not the upper Passuk have simply stated, Aharon shall come into the holy
place with a young bull for a sin offering.. What need is there for
With this (BZos) shall Aharon come..? In the text Yalkot Pninim
fortunately, we have an answer.
In the Torah there are four concepts which are referred to by the term
Zos (this). They are 1) the Torah 2) Yisroel 3) Tzdakah (charity) and 4)
1) And, this is the Torah which Moshe set before the Bnai Yisroel..
(Dvarim 4:44)
2) This your stature is like a palm tree.. (Shir HaShirim 7:8)
3) And this is the offering which you shall take from them.. (Shmos
4) Happy is the man who does this, and the son of man who lays hold on
it; who keeps the Shabbos and does not profane it.. (Yshaya 56:2)
Interestingly enough, these four concepts are the entire basis of being a
Jew, the whole foundation of our existence among the other nations of the
Now, elaborated the Yalkot Pninim, in the time when there was a Bais
HaMikdash, it was up to the Kohain Gadol to be concerned that Yisroel
was constantly accomplishing these four concepts of keeping the Torah,
loving each other, giving Tzdakah, and observing the Shabbos. That is,
the Kohain Gadol had to sufficiently urge the nation to do so.
Nevertheless, continued the Yalkot Pninim, in these times of exile we
have no Bais HaMikdash, only our synagogues. And, in the place of a
Kohain Gadol there is only a Rabbi in the form of a community leader,
who became the one responsible to stress these four rudimentary concepts
in all of his sermons.
Therefore, the above Passuk, in a more contemporary mode would read,
That he (the Rabbi) come not at all times into the holy place (synagogue,
to elevate himself personally through his sermon). Instead, he must only
arise to speak in order to stress those four concepts which are fundamental
to Judaism, and he may say nothing that will give him notoriety or will
lend any degree of haughtiness to his person.
For anyone familiar with public speaking, good vocabulary, equally good
diction, and entertaining oratorical skills among other things, are essential
in capturing an audience and keeping them listening. Yet, the Rabbi
delivering his sermon has the added responsibility to constantly keep in
mind that he speaks for the sake of the congregation, and not G-d forbid,
for his own self aggrandizement.
This then, is why our original Passuk makes certain to use the term Zos,
to stress those four concepts that the Kohain Gadol, and subsequently the
synagogue Rabbi, must stress to their congregations, with nothing of a
personal nature included.
And, here we have yet another example of the timelessness of the Torah,
which is applicable to each and every generation, through the mastery of
our Rabbanim of blessed memory. May we be merited to study the
profundities of the Torah for many years.
May we soon see the Gulah Shlaimah in its complete resplendence-
speedily, and in our times. Good Shabbos
Confidential matters may be sent to Rabbi Greebel at: Also appearing on the website: The National Council of Young Israel
Dvar Torah - Acharei Mos- Shabbos Hagadol
Wherefore art thou Shabbos Hagadol?
By Rabbi Dovid Sochet
Associate Member, Young Israel Council of Rabbis, Spring Valley, NY
The Tur (1) (2) gives a reason as to why the upcoming Shabbos is called
Shabbos HaGadol. We find in the Torah (3) that on the 10th day of the
month of Nisan the Jews were commanded to take a sheep and set it aside
for the Korban Pesach (Pesach offering). The Jews heeded Hashems
commandment - the head of each family took a sheep and tied it to the foot
of his bed. When the Egyptians saw what they were doing, they were
mystified and asked "What are you doing with these sheep?" The Jews
replied, "We are putting them aside in order to slaughter them as an
offering for Hashem". The Egyptians worshiped sheep as gods, and thus
they were extremely agitated when they heard this.
Our experience in exile in either the Christian or Islamic countries was that
even minor disrespect of their religion, or even the simple allegation of
said disrespect, would result in a pogrom against the Jews. Yet, for reasons
unknown even to them, the Egyptians found themselves helpless, unable to
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 27
react. As the Psalmist writes, (4) "For fear (of the Jews) had fallen upon
them". Now we know (5) that the day Bnei Yisrael left Mitzrayim (Egypt),
the 15th day of Nisan, was on a Thursday. Thus, the miracle of the
Egyptians' powerlessness occurred on Shabbos, five days earlier. We
therefore refer to this Shabbos as Shabbos HaGadol - the Great Shabbos,
because of the great miracle which occurred on this Shabbos.
Many Rabbinical commentators find difficulty understanding the above. If
it is as the Tur writes, why was Shabbos chosen to commemorate this
miracle? True, the miracle happened to occur on Shabbos of that year, but
aren't events in Israel's history commemorated on specific days of the
month rather than on a specific day of the week? Wouldn't it have been
more appropriate to designate the 10th day of Nisan, no matter what day of
the week it falls, as the day of commemoration?
In this weeks parsha the Torah (6) says regarding Yom Kippur
-" it is a Shabbos of Shabbos (implying
complete rest) for you, and you shall afflict yourselves; this is an eternal
The Klei Yakar (7) offers an explanation for the double expression
"Shabbos Shabboson" in this weeks parsha (8) as a reference to Yom
Kippur. He says that every Shabbos brings with it a rest from the external
activities of the body, namely creative work. It does not, however, contain
a rest from the internal urges of a person which are heightened by eating
and drinking which provide energy to the blood and flesh (dam v'cheilev).
Therefore the prohibitions to eat or drink on Yom Kippur add another
dimension to this Holy day, a form of rest that results in the abatement of
internal urges.
The Ibn Ezra (9) clarifies the double wording more simply. It is used to
emphasize its uniqueness and importance. Shabbos Shabboson is implying
that this Shabbos - Yom Kippur, is greater than others.
The Zohar Hakadosh says (10), All the blessings (of the week) present in
the higher realms (implying spirituality) and those of below (implying
those blessings which relate to material needs) are resultant from the prior
Based on this concept Reb Aharon of Karlin (11) frequently stated that this
is the intent of the words we say during Kiddush every Friday night:
, , "His holy
Shabbos, with love and favor he bequeathed us, as a remembrance of
creation, the prologue to the holy convocations". The statement that
Shabbos is a preface to all Jewish holidays (convocations} means each
Yom Tov that falls on a weekday gains its holiness from the preceding
Shabbos. The preceding Shabbos contains the original spiritual seed from
which sprouts in fullness the holiday that falls during the succeeding week.
Shabbos is referred to as remembrance of both a "ma'aseh Breishis - the
creation of the world" and a "yetzias Mitzrayim - Hashems redeeming us
out of our Egyptian slavery". It also simultaneously commemorates the
creation of the world and our leaving Mitzrayim. These two events
highlight two aspects of how Hashem interfaces with His Creation, namely
Hashem is both the Creator and the One who controls the world.
Both dimensions of Shabbos are fundamental to our entire service of
Hashem. One would have expected that priority should be given to
acknowledgment of Hashem as Creator which preceded His role as the
One who took us out of Mitzrayim. However, the aseres hadibros - Ten
Commandments - begin with Hashem as the One who took us out of
Mitzrayim. The Ramban (12) explains that only through yetzias
Mitzrayim, our exodus and redemption from servitude, did we come to
recognize Hashem as our Creator as well as our Savior.
Nobody witnessed creation but our actual experiencing yetzias Mitzrayim
enabled us to accept Hashem as the One who controls the world. The
corollary to yetzias Mitzrayim is creation. Only the Creator of the world
can control it; this is corroborated by the miraculous experiences of yetzias
Mitzrayim. Shabbos is the affirmation of our complete belief in ma'aseh
Breishis and yetzias Mitzrayim, the two fundamentals of Shabbos
observance and the foundation of our entire service to Hashem.
The first step of the exodus from Egypt was the taking of the sheep in
preparation of its sacrificial offering while observing that the Egyptians
could not interfere with the process. It was therefore this Shabbos that
was the beginning of yetzias Mitzrayim. More so, the Rabbis (13) teach us
that the pasuk (14) draw out and take sheep for
yourselves (ultimately to sacrifice) also includes an implied
commandment of Hashem that the Hebrews were henceforth to cease
worshipping false idols. This acceptance of Hashem being the Sole Creator
and the Sole Provider for entire universe enabled Bnei Yisroel to be
worthy of redemption.
That first Shabbos was the germination of the Yetzias Mitzrayim to follow.
Recursively, Shabbos is based on the faith generated by the events of
Yitzias Mitzrayim. The Shabbos preceding Pesach is therefore referred to
as the Shabbos HaGadol, comparable to Yom Kippur being regarded as a
double Shabbos. This Shabbos is a Great Shabbos since this Shabbos
itself was the source of all subsequent Shabbosim.
In accordance with the above we can understand the significance of
commemorating this miracle on Shabbos rather than on the tenth day of
the month Nissan.
An additional understanding to the name Shabbos HaGadol is based on
what the Tur (15) writes in the laws of Rosh Chodesh (the new month) that
the three pilgrimage festivals correspond to the patriarchs. Pesach
corresponds to Avraham, as is alluded to by the pasuk (16) " -
Knead and make rolls". (The Rabbis revealed (17) that the angels came to
visit Avraham on the holiday of Pesach, and Avrohom wished to serve
them Matzoh.) Shavuos corresponds to Yitzchak because the shofar blast
at the time of the giving of the Torah (18) came from the horn of the ram
(that was sacrificed in place) of Yitzchak at the time of the Akeida.
Finally, Succos corresponds to Yaakov, as it is written (19) "
- and for his cattle he made little huts (Succos),
therefore they called the name of the place Succos".
Avraham personifies the trait of chesed - kindness, as the pasuk says (20)
" Grant truth to Jacob, loving-kindness unto
Abraham,", the holiday of Pesach is also symbolic of chesed. Hashem took
the Bnei Yisroel out even though they were not worthy of redemption at
the time.
The attribute of Chesed - kindness is also known by the name Gedulah -
greatness, as in the pasuk (21) which enumerates the Divine attributes, and
which begins, ' ' - Yours, O Lord, are the greatness,
and the might, and the glory.
With these introductions we can now understand why the Shabbos
preceding Pesach, which is symbolic of Avrohom and chesed is called
Shabbos HaGadol. Gadol is the source word of gedulah which also means
chesed- kindness.
1. Orach Chaim chapter 430
2. The Arba'ah Turim, often called simply the Tur, is an important
Halakhic code, composed by Rabbi Yaakov the son of Rabbi Asher (1270
- c.1340), also referred to as "Ba'al ha-Turim", "Author of the Tur"). The
four-part structure of the Tur and its division into chapters (simanim) were
adopted by the later code Shulchan Aruch.
3. Shemos / Exodus 12:3
4. Tehillim/Psalms 105:38
5. See Seder Olam chapter 10
6. Vayikra / Leviticus 16:31
7. Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz 1550-1619
8. Vayikra / Leviticus 23:32
9. Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra 10891164
10. 2:88A
11. 1802-1872, He is the author of the Sefer Beis Ahron
12. Rabbi Moses ben Nachman also known as Nahmanides, also known as
and by his acronym Ramban 11941270
13. See Mechilta Bo 12:21
14. Shemos / Exodus 12:21
15. Orach Chaim chapter: 417
16. Bereishes / Genesis 18:6
17. See Seder Olam 5
18. Shemos / Exodus 19:19
19. Bereishes / Genesis 33:17.
20. Michah 7:20
21. Divrei HaYamim 29:11
Rabbi Dovid Sochet is the son of the Stoliner Rebbe of Yerushalayim; he spent a considerable amount of his formative years in Los Angeles CA, and
the 5 Towns in New York. He studied in the following Yeshivas: The Mesivtah of San Diego, Yeshiva Harbotzas Torah in Flatbush NY, and Yeshiva
Gedola of Passaic. He currently is a Rabbi in Spring Valley New York where he resides with his wife and children. Rabbi Sochet is also certified
Mohel. The National Council of Young Israel
Torah Insights-Acharei Mos- What?! I Did That!?
By: Rabbi Dov Shapiro,Certified Mohel
Associate Member, Young Israel Council of Rabbis, New Hempstead, NY
This weeks Parsha contains one of the most difficult mitzvos in the entire
Torah. If we can really succeed at it though, not only is it a great mitzvah
but it can bring us peace of mind and improve the quality of our lives and
our relationship with others.
The Torah commands us Lo Sikom Vlo Sitor Es Bnei Amecha. Do not
take revenge and do not harbor a grudge against your fellow Jew.
There are actually two mitzvos contained in this posuk. The first one You
should not take revenge is relatively manageable. We are expected to
control ourselves and our actions and not react in kind when someone
wrongs or injures us. Even if the other person is completely wrong and his
provocation is unjustified, the Torah commands us not to take revenge.
You can be angry, you can seethe, but control your actions and dont take
The 2nd mitzvah Do not bear a grudge is far more onerous. Being upset
at someone doesnt require a conscious decision. When someone hurts us,
the memory of that wrong lives on in our hearts. Bearing a grudge is
something we do in our hearts and minds. It is usually a natural,
unconscious reaction to being victimized, one that we dont even think
about. Is it really possible for us to be so strong and in such control of our
emotions as to not even bear a grudge deep in our hearts?! When someone
hurts us, or our pride, or a member of our family, it is very difficult to
wholeheartedly let it go.
Rav Yisroel Salanter (Ohr Yisroel) gives us a simple but effective method
of dealing with feelings of anger towards other people which can help us
to not maintain grudges against other people.
Rav Yisroel points out that while we all do things wrong and make
mistakes, we react very differently to the mistakes of others than we do to
our own mistakes. When we make a mistake, we give ourselves the benefit
of the doubt, we are quick to justify our mistake, or at least downplay the
28 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
significance of its consequences. We arent nearly as harsh on ourselves as
we are on others. When someone else does something wrong especially
if it hurts us we see it for the terrible crime that it is, and it is therefore
difficult to forgive. All we need to do then to be able forgive others is to
associate that persons actions with a mistake that we have once made
ourselves. If we can recall a situation where we made a mistake (or tend to
make mistakes) similar to the one that has been done to us, we will likely
see the event and the severity of the other persons sin in a much more
generous light.
For example, a husband sometimes gets upset when his wife is late.
Although he doesnt complain or say anything to make her feel bad, in his
heart he is upset that she caused them to be late to their appointment. Rav
Yisroels suggestion is that he think back to a time when he wasnt so
punctual. Perhaps he once caused them to be late. Perhaps he is sometimes
late to Shul, or to his shiur. Or perhaps he sometimes makes others wait for
him. By focusing on that, he transforms being late from being a major
offense to an understandable human foible that we can all use some
improvement in.
By being a little creative we can often find the faults of others somewhere
in ourselves, and reduce or eliminate disappointment and resentment. This
is not only a great mitzvah; it also causes us to be happier and more at
peace with those around us.
Rabbi Dov Shapiro is the Rav of Kehillas Bnei Aliyah in New Hempstead, and a Certified
Mohel. He can be reached at 877-88-Mohel or To receive an e-mail
of his weekly parsha column, e-mail

Aish.Com - Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Shabbat Shalom
Acharei Mot 5774
GOOD MORNING! Recently, I suggested using props at the Seder -- such
as frogs to throw during mention of the plague of frogs and Ping-Pong
balls to throw during mention of the plague of hail -- to make the Seder
more interesting for the kids. A few years ago, I went to Toys-R-Us the
day of the Seder. I asked an employee where the plastic frogs were. He
looked at me strangely and said, "You're the 7th person today to ask me
for frogs ... and we're all out. And not only that, but we're out of Ping-Pong
balls, too!" So, shop early!
Q & A: Why The Emphasis On Pesach To Be Chametz-Free?
On Pesach we are forbidden to own chametz (leavened bread -- i.e.,
virtually any flour product not especially produced for Pesach) or have it
in our possession. On the evening preceding Pesach there is a serious
search of the home for chametz. This is why it is very important to
purchase matzah that is kosher for Pesach -- not all matzah is chametz-
free. (I suggest buying round hand matzot for a unique and real treat at the
Chametz represents arrogance ("puffing up"). Passover is the time of
freedom -- spiritual freedom (which is the essence of why the Almighty
brought us out of Egypt). As I've mentioned before, the only thing that
stands between you and God ... is you. To come close to the Almighty
(which is the essence of life and the opportunity of every mitzvah and
holiday), one must remove his arrogance. This is the lesson of removing
the chametz from our possession.
Freedom means having the ability to use your free will to grow and
develop. People think they are free when really they are "slaves" to the
fads and fashions of their society. Slavery is non-thinking action, rote
behavior, following the impulse desires of the body. Our job on Pesach is
to come out of slavery into freedom.
One of the freedoms to work on during Pesach is "freedom of the mouth."
The sages view the mouth as the most dangerous part of the body. It is the
only organ that can cause problems in both directions -- what comes in
(food and drink) and what goes out (speech). It is so dangerous, it is the
only part of the body that has two coverings -- hard teeth and soft lips.
Most of us are slaves to the mouth, both in what we eat and in what we
On Seder night we fix this. We have the mitzvah to speak about the Jewish
people leaving Egypt to elevate speech, and the matzah and Four Cups of
wine to elevate eating and drinking.
The structure of the Hebrew language hints at the goal of "freedom of the
mouth." Pesach can be divided into two words: Peh Sach, which means
"the mouth speaks" -- we are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus
the whole night. The Hebrew word, Paroh, (Pharaoh, the persecutor of the
Jewish people in the Pesach story) can be divided into two words: Peh
Rah, a "bad mouth." Our affliction of the slavery in Egypt was
characterized as Perach, (difficult work) which can be read as two words:
Peh Rach, "a loose mouth."
May we all merit on this Pesach to free ourselves from the "bad mouth,"
and to overcome the "loose mouth" where too much of the wrong food and
drink come in and too many inappropriate words slip out.
Feed The Poor Of J erusalem!
Hundreds of families in Israel are unable to afford groceries for Yom Tov (the holiday). This
group gives them coupons redeemable only for food. They arrange with the supermarket to get
an extra 10% on every dollar you give them. I know they are legitimate and I give them money!
Send your tax-deductible contribution to: Keren Y&Y 805-A Roosevelt Ct. Far Rockaway, NY
Or give online: Fulfill the special mitzvah of Maos Chitim,
helping the poor for Pesach!
Torah Portion of the week: Acharei Mos
Acharei Mos includes the Yom Kippur service where the Cohen Gadol
cast lots to designate two goats -- one to be sacrificed, the other to be
driven to a place called Azazel -- after the Cohen Gadol (the High Priest)
confessed the sins of the people upon its head. Today it is a phrase in the
vernacular in Israel in the heat of an argument to instruct another person to
"go to Azazel." I don't believe the intent, however, is to look for the
The goat sent to Azazel carried away the sins of the Jewish people. This, I
surmise, is the source of the concept of using a scapegoat. One thing you
can truly give credit to the Jewish people -- when we use a scapegoat, at
least we use a real goat!
The Torah then proceeds to set forth the sexual laws -- who you are not
allowed to marry or have relations with. If one appreciates that the goal of
life is to be holy, to perfect oneself and to be as much as possible like God,
then he/she can appreciate that it is impossible to orgy at night and be
spiritual by day.
Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And you shall keep my statutes and my ordinances, which a person shall
do and live by them, I am the Almighty" (Leviticus 18:5).
What lesson for life can we learn from the words "and live by them"?
Rabbi Yeshayahu Hurwitz (author of Shnai Luchos HaBris) comments that
when you do good deeds they should be done with life -- that is, with a lot
of energy and enthusiasm. This makes your whole being come alive.
There is no comparison between doing a good deed with a feeling of being
oppressed and forced with doing the same thing with joy and excitement.
The life of a person who lives with joy is a life of pleasure and elevation --
and one which motivates others. When they see how much enjoyment you
have from doing good deeds, they will be motivated to emulate your
What does one do if he doesn't feel enthusiasm? Mesilat Yesharim, The
Path of the Just, teaches that the outward act brings the inner appreciation.
Act as if you felt enthusiasm and you will feel enthusiasm!
Quote of the Week
The fruits of rushing are regrets
11 Nissan - The birth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. On his birthday each year, Rabbi Menachem
Mendel Schneerson 'redoubled his efforts to reach out to Jews in every corner of the world'.
Sandy Ray
Happy Passover Wishes! SYFO Seltzer Certified OU-P for Pesach
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Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Weekly Chizuk
Adapted from Leil Shimurim by Rav Shlomo Brevda, zt"l.
The Sefer Hamitzvos of the Rambam (157) writes that we were commanded to
talk about the exodus from Mitzrayim on the night of the 15th of Nisan, each
one according his own eloquence of expression. The more one enhances and
elaborates in the retelling the greatness of what Hashem did for us, and the
terrible persecution and oppression the Egyptians did to us, and how Hashem
took revenge against them and he praises Hashem Yisborach for all the
goodness He has bestowed upon us, this is even better.
The holy Zohar (Mitzvah 26) has some remarkable words regarding the
Hagaddah. "It is an obligation to speak in praise of Yetzias Mitzrayim forever.
Everyone who talks about the Exodus from Mitzrayim and joyfully elaborates
on the story will in the future share the simcha of the Shechina in Olam Haba.
For when a person is joyous with his master, Hakadosh Baruch Hu has simcha.
At that moment Hakadosh Baruch Hu gathers together the entire Heavenly
Entourage and tells them, 'Look and listen to this story of praise that my
children are telling about Me and they are so happy in the Geula.
"Then they all gather and come and join the people of Israel and listen to the
story of praise and they are happy and have simcha for their Master's
redemption. Then they go back to Heaven and praise Hakadosh Baruch Hu for
all the miracles and demonstrations of might and they praise Him for His holy
people who are so happy for the Geula. This adds force and power to the
Heavens above. Also Yisroel, in retelling that story, give power to their Master,
like a king whose dominion has been strengthened when his servants praise his
power and thank him, and everyone fears him. This increases his honor in
everyone's eyes. Therefore one must praise and tell over this story."
This Zohar is quite puzzling. What is so exciting and enthralling to the
Heavenly angels when Yisroel are joyfully retelling the story of Yetzias
Mitrayim. Why is this such a big thing?
Hakoras Hatov (gratitude) is one of the most essential character traits and is
exceedingly important to cultivate. One who has a real appreciation of the
chessed that another has done for him doesn't skimp on words. He elaborates
and elucidates and can't stop talking about it. He digs deeper and deeper into
the story to see more and more wonderful things that were done for him.
Having survived the Holocaust, Moshe was left with no family, no friends;
completely alone. He was very weak from the ordeal he had endured and was
suffering several illnesses. He was penniless and totally destitute.
Moshe had an uncle in America who discovered that his nephew had survived
the Holocaust. He immediately arranged, at great cost, to bring him to the US.
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 29
He greeted him with tremendous simcha and boundless love. Uncle brought
him home and started nursing him back to health. Moshe became a part of his
new found family. Uncle bought him a complete wardrobe and dressed him
from head to toe. He took him to the top doctors until he was nursed back to
health. All this at a very great expense.
Uncle taught him English and trained him in business. He bought Moshe his
own business enterprise, and found him a proper wife. He purchased a house
and proceeded to fully furnish it with all the trimmings. Moshe and his wife
embarked on their new life and raised a wonderful family.
The day arrived. Moshe's oldest son was getting married. Of course Uncle was
at the top of the invitation list. He was seated at the head table. During one of
the dances around the choson Moshe danced with Uncle and whispered in his
ear, "Dear Uncle. Thank you for everything that you've done for me!"
Uncle's face immediately gave Moshe a stern look and forcefully pulled him
into a corner of the wedding hall. "That's the thanks I get from you for all the
multitude of chessed I did?"
Moshe was shocked. He looked at his uncle and asked, "Uncle, how can I
thank you properly?"
Uncle replied, "This is what you should have said. 'My dear Uncle. I was left
with no family, all alone in the world. I was weak, sick, and destitute. I had
nothing: no clothes, barefoot, homeless. And you in your great mercy brought
me to your country at great expense. You fed me and dressed me from head to
foot. You took me to the best doctors, etc., etc. You set me up in business and
helped me build a new family. Everything I have until this very day, came from
you. If I live a thousand years I won't be able to thank you enough, etc., etc.'
That's how you express thanks!"
Therefore on this night of Pesach the more you elaborate on the praises of the
Holy One blessed be He for what He did for us in taking us out of Mitzrayim is
more praiseworthy!
The Haggadah - A Paradigm For Jewish Education
Based upon the introduction to the Commentary on the Haggadah by Rav
Zalman Sorotzkin, zt"l
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"And you shall tell your son..." (Sh'mos 13:8). I would learn from that this
means from Rosh Chodesh. Therefore the scriptures say, "...on that day." If on
that day, would I not think that it means while still day? Therefore the
scriptures say, "...because of this," meaning, at the time when Matzah and
Maror are lying before you. -Mechilta Parshas Bo, Chap. 17.
We find mentioned four sons, one wise, one wicked, one simple, and one who
doesn't know how to ask. -ibid., Chap. 18.
The Festival of Pesach is also the Festival of Education for Jews. The whole
year we are occupied with our daily lives and we don't have the time to look at
our children to ask, What are they doing? What are they learning? And most
important, in what direction are they going? The Torah, therefore, has set aside
one special day, the day commemorating our Exodus from Egypt. It is on this
day that we are obligated to see what type of fruits we are bringing forth; to sit
down with our children and impress upon them the sanctity of the Festival,
"And you shall tell your son on that day saying, 'It is because of this that G-d
did for me when I went out of Egypt'" (Sh'mos 13:8).
In four places the Torah has instructed us to retell to our children the story of
the going out from Egypt:
1) "And it will be when your children say to you 'what is this service to your',
and you shall say to them, 'it is the Pesach offering to the L-rd for He passed
over (pasach in Hebrew) the houses of the Children of Israel when He struck
the plague on Egypt'" (Sh'mos 12:26).
2) "And you shall tell you son on that day..." (Sh'mos 13:8).
3) "And it will be when your son asks you in time to come saying, 'What is
this,' and you shall say to him, 'With a strong hand the L-rd took us out of
Egypt" (Sh'mos 13:14).
4) "When your son asks you in time to come saying, 'What are these
testimonies, and statutes, and judgements, which the L-rd your G-d has
commanded you?' And you shall say to your son, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh
in Egypt, and the L-rd brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand'" Devorim
Therefore our sages explained that the Torah prepared us for four types of sons,
each one different from the other in intelligence and attitude. One wise, one
wicked, one simple, and one without the knowledge to even ask. On the night
of the Seder the father sits down with his children, in order to kindle within
them the ancient faith of Israel, the spirit of the Torah and the Mitzvos.
He finds among them the wise son. He may say to himself, now what use has
my son for me? In all his wisdom he understands quite well by himself. But the
Torah tells us, No! and No again! Even the wise son needs his father. Even if
we were all wise, even if we all had great understanding. Even if we were all
versed in the Torah, still we need a Tradition. Every father has an obligation to
give testimony, and everyone is obligated to hear this testimony, and to hear
directly from his father, that he heard from his father, and his father from his
father, back to the generation of the Exodus, "We were slaves to Pharaoh in
Egypt, and the L-rd took us out of Egypt with a strong had and an outstretched
arm, with wonders and miracles." The father tells his sons, and they in turn tell
their sons until the last generation.
If he finds among them the wicked son, the father may get discouraged and
proclaim, what use is there in talking to him? Why bother? He thinks he's
smarter than me and won't believe what I say. Therefore, the Torah admonishes
us, don't be discouraged. For even if your words don't impress him now, they
are hiding in his heart, consciously or unconsciously, they have made their
impression. It will just take time until he is ready to listen to them. It is
worthwhile for all the sons to sit at the Seder and hear their father retelling the
Exodus from Egypt. The fire of his words will kindle a spark in their hearts and
eventually they all will hear.
Perhaps among his children is the simple son, or the son who doesn't know
how to ask. Again, the Torah admonishes us, don't refrain and say that the
study of Torah is only for those with intellectual capabilities, it is only a waste
of words on the tender ears of this son who has no understanding. No! It is an
obligation on the father to tell the story of the Exodus even to young children,
and simple children, to warm them with the light of our pure faith which will
penetrate even into the soul of this tender child or the child of limited
Thus have our Sages instructed us. Whether a wise son, or a wicked son, or a
simple son, or a son without the understanding to ask, it is an obligation on the
father to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt to all his children. Regarding
all of them it says, "And you shall tell your son..." With all of the them is the
father obligated to take time out from his daily routine and personally supervise
their education in the faith of our Fathers and teach them Torah and Mitzvos on
this night of Pesach.
The time designated for this educational experience is specifically the night of
Pesach. Not before. Not after. And thus have our Sages instructed, "'And you
shall tell your son...' refers to the time when Matzah and Maror are lying before
you." It is quite startling that the Torah goes out of its way to specify not to
start the process from Rosh Chodesh. Or even while still day. Specifically on
the night of the Seder. Then and only then when Matzah and Maror are lying
before you. What difference does it make when I tell my children? What is the
need to tell them over a piece of Matzah and Maror?
Among the nations of the world the great events of their history are
memorialized in monuments. They erect a memorial, carve out the history of
the event, and thus feel they are assured that the event is preserved for future
generations. The poor build it from stone, the rich from metal. It is erected on
their land, or on the site of the victory, or in the capital city, in order that their
children should know the history of their fathers.
This is true of the nations tied to the land with an everlasting bond, a bond that
cannot be broken without danger to the very existence of that nation. This
monument can fulfill its purpose only as long as that nation remains on its
homeland. Once they are dispersed, their life-string as a nation has been cut,
and eventually they will be assimilated among their conquerors. Then there
will no longer be any need for their monuments and their testimonies.
But there is one nation, which enjoys its independence even when dispersed
among the nations - the People of Israel. Our history started with the command
to Avraham, "Go out from your land..." We went into Golus even before we
had the chance to inherit our land; and from this Golus to a wilderness. Our
history is replete with great and awe-inspiring events, events unheard of among
any other nation; especially the supernatural Exodus from Egypt. We were
brought to Egypt by the Divine decree, and with a strong hand and an
outstretched arm, with signs and with wonders He took us out of there.
Certainly it is appropriate that these great events should be captured for future
generations in order that we should tell our sons and grandchildren.
But what kind or monument is possible by Israel? A monument of stone or
metal with a carving of the story of the Exodus? Certainly not! The people of
Israel do not travel in the paths of the nations who hand over their testimonies
to wood and stone, gold and silver. It may be fine for the other nations who are
far from the spiritual life which is the inheritance of Israel. It may be fine for
the nations whose existence is dependent upon their remaining upon their
homeland. But monuments which are material and which need a place, are not
suitable for the spiritual testimonies of a spiritual people. We need monuments
which will last for generations, in whatever land our Golus finds us, in all times
and places.
Therefore, The Torah has prepared for us, a unique people, unique monuments.
Fitted for our lot and our function as a teacher of nations. Portable monuments,
that we are able to carry on our shoulders and travel with them from nation to
nation, from one dominion to another; in order that the people of Israel and
their testimonies should always remain in one place and to ensure that this
remarkable and special history remains intact for all generations of the
descendants of Israel in any place they may be.
These monuments of the most important events in the history of the People of
Israel are the Mitzvos called Testimonies which the Creator has
commanded as a remembrance of the miracles and victories, the strength,
salvation, and battles He waged for our Fathers. This is why we have been
commanded to sanctify (and redeem) each firstborn, and celebrate Pesach each
year as a remembrance of the Plague of the Firstborn and salvation of the
firstborn of Israel; to eat the Pesach offering and Matzah and Maror, to recall
the bitterness of our enslavement and the redemption in haste; to celebrate the
Festival of Pesach as a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt; and the
Seventh Day of Pesach to remember the splitting of the Sea; to write the
mezuzah on the doorposts of our houses and gates, and to tie a sign (tefillin)
upon our hands and between our eyes, "For with a strong hand He brought us
out of the Land of Egypt."
It is not in the power of any individual to destroy these monuments or to take
them away from the People of Israel. (Many have been those who tried and
who have decreed laws forbidding the fulfillment of mitzvos. Still the Jews
have given their lives for the existence of these mitzvos and they have never
been taken from us.)
Wherever the Jew is dispersed, his monuments go with him. Even in the most
distant land, far from Egypt, from the Sea, and from our holy homeland, the
Jew has the ability to erect his ancient monuments, to wear Tefillin, to attach
Mezuzas to his doorposts, to redeem his firstborn, to celebrate Shabbos and
Festivals, to eat Matzah and Maror on Pesach. The monuments will stand for
our children and give witness to our history, on our remarkable past, they
inspire in us faith in our unique existence and the shining future awaiting us.
30 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
It is with these trusted and true witnesses that we stand up against those who
deny our history. The First Day of Pesach testifies to the Exodus, the Seventh
Day of Pesach testifies to the spitting of the Sea; the redemption of the firstborn
to the Plague of the Firstborn; the saving of the firstborn of Israel is represented
by the Pesach offering; on the Exodus in haste from Egypt - the Matzah; on the
bitterness of the enslavement - the Maror; and on them all - Tefillin and
Mezuzos. How is it possible to deny these monuments? "Your Testimonies are
very steadfast" (Psalms 93). And they are steadfast, not only for us and our
children, but even for the ones among us who have strayed.
At the time when their hearts feel a spark inside of them, they admit (in part) to
the event, and deny (in part) and explain it as "Nature." They explain away
everything as a natural event, and even against all bounds of reason and
common sense. It is these "deniers" who are afraid of the testimony of our
monuments that the Haggadah refers with the "Wicked Son" who says, "What
is this service to you?" He sees his father the whole year practicing Torah and
Mitzvos and he remains quiet. He is not disturbed by the actions of this old
man from the old generation.
But on the night of Pesach when he sees the father taking out ancient
monuments, erecting them as witnesses that "the L-rd passes over the houses of
our Fathers... when he struck Egypt." "That the bread of our Fathers did not
have time to rise (leaven) as they were saved from the Angel of Death and the
Holy One saved them." And that, "The Egyptians embittered the lives of our
Fathers." It makes an impression that even the Wicked Son is unable to ignore.
He grinds his teeth and proclaims, "What is this service to you!?" because it is
demolishing the model he has conceived and the work of his life, to rebel
against the House of his Father in Heaven and Earth and to spread his "Theory"
as "Truth."
Even though he constantly sees his father lay Tefillin and attach mezuzos to the
doors, he has already forgotten what is written inside of them, and on what they
are testifying. But the Mitzvos of Pesach, the Father sits and elucidates, each
one with its reason; and says to his family, "This is the Pesach... because the
Holy One Blessed be He passed over the houses of our Fathers in Egypt...
when He struck the Egyptians and saved our homes," and so on with the
Matzah and Maror. Therefore the Wicked Son on this Pesach eve cannot
remain silent.
And since the Wicked son is specifically afraid of the testimony of these
ancient monuments of ours, we must use them specifically! At this moment
when we are instructed to relate to our children the Exodus from Egypt, in
order to instill in them the spirit of faith and fear of G-d, we bring to fore the
hidden power of our Mitzvos, these witnesses. Every Jewish house has made
the Seder a great family gathering and celebration; from the first "Seder" our
Fathers celebrated in Egypt the night of the redemption until today. It is a
spectacular and dramatic experience, as the Son asks and the Father answers
and he imagines himself as if he himself is leaving Egypt. He sees with his
spiritual eyes the whole panorama; the hard enslavement, and the unforgettable
redemption, the miracles and the wonders, and the Great Hand which G-d set
against the Egyptians in their land and on the sea; and with this he fears G-d
and believes in G-d and in the Moshe his servant.
Therefore the Torah has commanded us, "And you shall tell your son on the
day saying, because of this that the L-rd did for me when I went out of Egypt."
Don't start to tell the history of the Exodus from Rosh Chodesh, or even while
still day. The story alone during the week before we bring to the stand the
"trusted witnesses," before we set our tables with Matzah and Maror will not be
effective and may bring on disbelief in our children with this remarkable tale,
the like of which is unheard of among the Nations. Even in the best manner, it
will not make the maximal impression which is only possible "at the moment
when Matzah pand Maror are lying before you." Even if you repeat the story
on the night of the seder, they will not lend their ears to hear a second time
what they just heard a few days before. Therefore it is incumbent upon the
father to wait until the night of the Seder. And then, when his witnesses take
the stand, the tale will make the greatest possible impression, and he will put
upon his heart and the hearts of his children the Love and Awe of G-d in order
that they follow His Torah and serve with pure hearts.
The obligation of the Father to raise and educate his children in the spirit of our
Faith and to teach him the wisdom of Torah, is a great and difficult task, and
not everyone is able to accomplish it in its entirety, especially in a confused
generation such as ours, when the spirit of confusion and rebellion is swaying
the world. The whole year we designate others to take over this great task, the
teachers and the educators. But on the night of Pesach, on which G-d sent the
Plague of the Firstborn against the Egyptians Himself and not by any agent, so
too, we must teach Torah and Faith to our children personally, ourselves, not
by others.
Krias Yam Suf
Out of the Straits I Cried unto God
And Pharaoh drew close... and behold! Egypt was traveling after them, and
they were very afraid. And the Children of I srael cried out to Hashem.
(Shemos 14:10)
From my sefer Trust Me! The following is based on Da'as Torah by R.
Yerucham Levovitz vol. 2, parashas Beshalach.
Rashi, quoting a Midrash from the Mechilta, comments that the Jews followed
the example (lit., "grasped the craft") of their forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak,
and Ya'akov, who all davened. This cryptic Midrash raises several questions.
Why did Chazal inform us here that the Patriarchs davened? Furthermore, what
was the point of stating that the Children of Israel took up their forefathers'
Addressing these questions, R. Yerucham comments that he often thought
about the terrible prospects facing the Jewish People in his time. In those days
immediately preceding World War II, most of the world's nations, and
particularly Germany and Russia, were openly campaigning to deny Jews the
most basic human rights, and absolutely no one raised a voice in protest. It was
a time of grave adversity for the Jews. There was no one to turn to, and all
avenues of escape seemed blocked. All hope seemed lost. Rav Yerucham
In despair, I thought to myself, "Why are we not crying out? Is there truly no
one to turn to in the entire world?" When I found myself saying this, I stopped
and thought, "And before this did we have someone else to beseech? Even
when fortune was shining on us and times were good, was there anyone to rely
on? In reality, there is no difference between good times or bad times, and all
we have is Hashem. 'Out of the straits I cried unto God' (Tehillim 118:5). There
is no one else to turn to, no one else to cry out to."
Upon pondering all this, I understood the meaning of Rashi's comment: "They
grasped the craft of their forefathers." Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov lived in
relatively peaceful times. Yet their prayers were filled with the tears of one
experiencing great suffering. They understood that it doesn't matter what the
times are like and that the only one they could depend upon was the Almighty.
Therefore, their prayers were the paradigm of complete devotion and
attachment to Hashem.
This is the secret of the Jewish People. We are constantly in a situation of "Out
of distress I cried unto God." We never had anyone to rely on but the Creator.
The nations of the world have been placed under the control of natural law, as
the verse states: "the sun, the moon, and the stars... Hashem has apportioned to
all the peoples under all the heavens" (Devarim 4:19). They have somewhere to
turn to and something to rely on. "These with chariots and those with horses;
but we, in the name of Hashem, our God, call out" (Tehillim 20:8). The nations
have armies and they have fostered channels of diplomacy. This is the portion
that was granted to them. We, however, have nothing, and for us there is no
such thing as nature. The whole being of Israel transcends the laws of nature.
For us, therefore, there is no difference between situations of comfort or of
trouble. That is the secret of prayer: to understand that there is nothing else but
the Almighty.
In the Realm Above Nature There Is No Room for Tefillah
And God said to Moshe, "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Children of
Israel to go." (Shemos 14:15)
They don't have to do anything but journey on, for the sea will not stand before
them. The merit of their forefathers and their own, and the faith in Me which
they displayed when they left Egypt, will suffice to divide the sea before them.
The following is from Da'as Torah by R. Yerucham Levovitz.
A profound concept lies behind Hashem's statement to Moshe: the idea that the
power of prayer lies strictly within the realm of nature. We read in the Torah
(Bereishis 2:5): "Now, all the trees of the field were not yet on the earth and all
the grasses of the field had not yet sprouted, for Hashem had not sent rain upon
the earth and there was no man to work the ground." Chazal tell us the reason it
didn't rain: "Because there was no one to work the land and to recognize rain's
benefit. When Adam came into being and understood how necessary it is for
the world, he prayed until the rain fell. Only then did trees and grasses grow"
(Rashi, based on Chullin 60b and Yalkut Shimoni 2:20).
Rain is in the domain of nature; without it, vegetation could not grow. Thus,
prayer plays a role in effecting rainfall. "It has been engraved in all of Creation
from the outset that everything waits just beneath the surface of the ground.
Nothing grows or is produced until man comes and takes them from the
opening of the ground. How does he take them? With prayer" (See Da'as
Torah, Bereishis.) It is important to understand that prayer relates only to the
world of nature. In the world above nature, however, the concept of prayer is
irrelevant, because there is nothing holding anything back. Therefore, there is
no need for prayer.
This is the meaning of the Almighty's response to Moshe: "Why are you crying
out to Me? The sea will not stand before them." Hashem was revealing to
Moshe the secret of the Jewish People: they exist in the realm above nature.
Therefore, the sea cannot stand before them, because in the world above
nature, the sea has no existence. Since there is nothing in the way, there is no
need for prayer.
"Why are you crying out to Me?" retorted Hashem to Moshe's prayers. Don't
you understand the exalted position that Israel holds in the general scheme of
Creation? The survival of the Jewish People is completely assured for they are
above nature, and they are above prayer as well.
Wishing everyone a Chag Kosher v'Sameach!
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff 4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel Tel: 732-858-1257 Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim
Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood). If you would like to correspond with Rabbi Parkoff, or change your subscription,
please contact: Shema Yisrael Torah Network Jerusalem, Israel

Rabbi Yehudah Prero
Yom Tov
Pesach: And You Shall Tell Your Son
Guest Contributor: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
The need for continuous and inspired parent-child dialogue is about as deep a
Jewish value as you will find. For millennia, we have used such
communication as a means of inculcating within our offspring a deep sense of
religious connection and understanding, while also keeping them focused on
proper behaviors and values. In fact, the concept dates back to our national
inception, and has served as a basic charge in terms of how we recount our
exodus from Egyptian bondage. And you shall tell your child on this day
(Shemos 13:8)
In the words of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch:
Tell it to your child We are asked to accompany the practical observance of
every religious precept, which our children see us perform and which we seek
to teach them to perform in their turn, with a verbal explanation of its substance
and significance. Through our words, our children should learn what these
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 31
practices and observances mean to us so that they, too, may perceive them with
their hearts and minds. (Collected Writings, Vol. VII, pp. 360-361)
That obligation, says Rav Hirsch, begins in a childs earliest days, when his
world is filled with immense curiosity and the need for answers. To support his
point, Rav Hirsch references the clear, visible distinction between children who
are fortunate to enter their first classroom having been raised in a home
environment that encourages and properly responds to the simple, oft-repeated
question of mah zos (what is this?), and those who were reared in an
environment that thwarted such interest, and relied on the school to provide
answers and motivation due to their own limitations (real or imagined) of time,
insight or desire.
If there is ever a moment in our lives that clearly underscores the crucial role
that parents play in the development of their children, it is the Pesach Seder. At
the Seder, we cease to discuss the divine as an abstract concept, somewhat
removed from our practical reality. It is there, as we sit together surrounded by
the many mitzvos of the evening, that we deeply impress upon the inquiring
child that by strength of hand did G-d take us out of Egypt, from the house of
bondage. It was not due to our strength or skills that we achieved our freedom;
only through Hashems direct intervention could we witness salvation.
Moreover, it is at the Seder that we solidify the nexus of thought and action.
We do not simply recount what occurred to our forefathers three thousand
years ago. Rather, we aim to relive that experience through the reenactment of
their glorious experiences, and draw a personal connection to ourselves and our
present realities. A man is obligated to view himself (at the Seder) as if he
himself was leaving Egypt. (Pesachim 116b)
One could express understandable concern about this obligation. After all, is it
truly fair and realistic to expect parents to achieve things that even the most
seasoned and accomplished educator cannot? This question is strengthened
further in contemporary society, with the proliferation of observant parents
who were themselves deprived of a foundational Jewish education. How can
they be expected to provide so many core values and religious building blocks
to their children? Moreover, on what basis can we assume that every father and
mother, even the most educated amongst them, are well equipped to make the
proper connection with their children?
Naturally, it is expected of each of us to become as learned as possible, not
only for our own growth, but also to be able to properly answer our childrens
questions. But we should also be aware that the Torah sees in each of us the
ability to reach out to and connect deeply with all of our children, regardless of
which of the four famous categories that they belong to. Again, in the words of
Rav Hirsch (pp. 364-365):
But just as every father is expected to perform this educational function for his
child, so, too, the Law has made certain that every type of child will be able to
benefit from parental instruction. The Word of G-d has made allowance for all
children with their infinite variety of intellectual and emotional tendencies. The
Law speaks of a child whose desire for knowledge is still altogether dormant;
what goes on around him still leaves him indifferent The Law also speaks of
the simple son, whose desire for knowledge has already been awakened The
Law further speaks of the wise son, who already shows signs of that dutiful
attitude toward G-d and of the wicked son, who, even at an early age,
demonstrates the contempt for duty.
The Seder provides us with a unique opportunity to connect deeply with our
children, each on their own level, and to inspire them to new levels of
greatness. Let us hope that we can each make proper use of this special
occasion, so that our children will grasp that their own future survival derives
from that redemption long ago. It was because of this that Hashem did for me
when I left Egypt.
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is President of Impactful Coaching and Consulting
(, which provides support services to leaders and
executives. He can be reached at
Yom Tov, Copyright 2014 by Rabbi Yehudah Prero and The author has Rabbinic ordination from Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, NY.
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Rabbi Ben-Zion Rand
Likutei Peshatim
jxp -,un hrjt
Volume 29 Number 27 April 12, 2014
s"ga, ixhb c"h
d"h vmhc :hnuhv ;s
To Reprove And To Defend
He shall don a sacred linen shirt, linen pants shall be upon his flesh,
and he shall gird himself with a linen belt, and cover his head with a
linen hat; they are sacred garments. Vayikra 16:4
The Kohen Gadol does not enter the Holy of Holies wearing his usual
garments because they contained gold, which was a reminder of the sin of
the Golden Calf. This would violate the rule that an accuser cannot
become a defender (see Rosh HaShana 26a). For the parts of the service
that were done in public (for example, the offering of the Tamid in the
morning and in the afternoon), he wore his regular garments which
contained gold threads. Yet, if the Torah was so careful to prescribe
special plain white linen garments for the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur,
why didnt he wear them the entire day?
In Oznaim LaTorah, Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin points out that the
famous Chassidic Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, would
intercede in his tefillos for even the most estranged Jew, trying to find
some excuse as to why the person was unable to follow the dictates of the
Torah. Yet, as the rabbi of the town, he certainly did not shirk his duty to
reprove people for their laxity in keeping the Torah and meting out
punishment, if necessary, for those who would not heed his words of
mussar and direction. What barometer did he use to determine when to
defend and when to reprove? When it came to speaking to a person or to a
group of people, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok would fulfill the mitzvah of "W,hng
,t jhfIT jfIv" - you shall reprove your fellow man - with words and
actions, so that the people would do teshuvah and follow the path of the
Torah. However, when it came to interceding with Hashem on behalf of
the Jewish people, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok would be careful to speak only
positively about them.
Similarly, when the Kohen Gadol did the public service on Yom Kippur,
he wore the garments containing gold to remind people to do teshuvah for
their wayward actions, as represented by the gold threads which reminded
people of the sin of the Golden Calf. But when the Kohen Gadol went into
the Holy of Holies to pray on behalf of Klal Yisrael, he wore only white
garments, which contained no hint of the failings of Klal Yisrael.
First Things First
And he shall atone for himself and for his household, and for the entire
congregation of I srael. Vayikra 16:17
The manner by which the Kohen procures atonement establishes a
standard for a persons life mission. Before a person sets out to worry
about the world at large, he must first aim to educate and perfect himself
and the members of his family in the ways of Torah and its mitzvos. Once
he has purified himself and those in his immediate environment, he can
then turn his attention to improving the state of others.
In his Taam Vdaas, Rabbi Moshe Shturnbach points out that there are
activists who neglect the needs of their own families, and they rely upon
the fact that the merit of their involvement with the community will help to
influence their own children. As a result, they carelessly overlook their
own families and the needs of their own children. Yet, the verse teaches
that the Kohen had to first achieve atonement for himself, and then for his
own family. Only then did he turn his attention to the needs of the
community at large. The proper thing to do was first to correct himself. As
a result, he was then fit to assist others before Hashem
For Pesach: Redemption - Spiritual And Physical
Why is there no mention in the Haggadah of Moshe and his great role in
the Exodus from Egypt? Chazal differentiate between the vhbJU vbIJtr vkUtd
- the first and second redemption - and the sh,gkJ vkUtd - the redemption
that will come in the future. The first and second redemptions were
accomplished with the help of man (the first through Moshe and the
second through Ezra), while the future redemption will have no human
intervention. The redemptions which had human intervention did not last
forever, since they were done through man, who does not live forever.
However, the future redemption will be everlasting, for it will be through
Hashem alone, Who is everlasting.
Sefer Kli Chemdah notes that although we find in the Haggadah that the
miracle of the Exodus from Egypt is described as happening by the hand
of Hashem alone, it does not contradict the previous Chazal, for the
redemption from Egypt was characterized by two distinct aspects. There
was both a spiritual redemption and a physical redemption. The spiritual
redemption was directly and exclusively provided by Hashem, whereas the
physical redemption was led by Moshe. Consequently, although the
spiritual redemption remains forever, the physical redemption was time-
limited. This also explains the reason we say Hallel for the miracle of the
Exodus from Egypt. In contrast, we do not say Hallel on Purim as we are
still in galus. One would think that this should apply to the miracle of
Pesach as well, and, since we are still in galus, that Hallel would not be
appropriate. Nevertheless, now that we understand that the Seder night is
to remember and praise Hashem for the spiritual redemption which
remains forever, the difference between Purim and Pesach is obvious.
Purim was a limited redemption and as long as we are in galus we cannot
proclaim that we are independent and free. However, in order to recite
praises on the spiritual redemption, which lasted forever, Hallel on Pesach
was instituted. This also explains the almost total omission of the name of
Moshe from the Haggadah, for he was a factor mainly in the physical
redemption process, whereas the Haggadah deals with the spiritual
Facets Of The Redemption
Therefore say to Bnei Yisrael: I am God, and I shall take you out from
under the burdens of Egypt; I shall rescue you from their service; and I
shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
Shemos 6:6
The Talmud Yerushalmi (beginning of Arvei Pesachim) teaches that the
four cups which are featured at the Pesach Seder correspond to the four
expressions of redemption which are found in these verses. In his
commentary to the Haggadah of Pesach, the Vilna Gaon writes that the
common understanding is that the four expressions are: I will take out -
h,tmIvu; ...I will save - hTkmvu; ...I will redeem - hTktdu and ...I will take -
hTjeku. Nevertheless, he writes that this fourth expression - hTjeku - cannot
be the fourth expression to which the Gemara refers, for if so, there should
have also been additional cups of wine designated to correspond to the
other verbs in this narrative - the words h,hhvu (in Verse 7) and h,tcvu (in
Verse 8). Rather, explains the Vilna Gaon, the third and fourth expressions
32 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
of redemption are both contained within the word hTktdu (in Verse 6). One
is I will redeem you vhUyb gIrzC - with an outstretched arm, and the other
is I will redeem you ohksD ohypJc - with great acts of judgment. This also
accounts for the halachic ruling that one is not allowed to drink between
the third and fourth cups of wine during the night of the Seder. Whereas
the other cups are each derived from different words in the verses, the third
and fourth cups have the one word, hTktdu' as their common source.
Chasam Sofer teaches that the Yerushalmi seems to confirm this insight,
because it also mentions (in the name of Rabbi Avin) that the four cups on
Pesach correspond to the four times the word xIF appears in the verses in
Tehillim (16:5, 23:5, and 16:13). Interestingly enough, the third and fourth
expressions of xIF are learned from the one word in the phrase RtGt
,IgUJh xIF - cup[s] of salvations I will lift up. The Ari HaKadosh also
writes that the deeper symbolism of the third and fourth cups are one and
the same, thus indicating that their root is from the same source. Chasam
Sofer writes that the question of the Vilna Gaon can be addressed and
resolved. The reason we can count the word I will take but not I will
bring or I will be... is that the expression I will take - hTjeku refers to
the giving of the Torah, which is a direct and essential aspect of the
redemption (see 3:12, Rashi). This is in contrast to the promise that
Hashem made that I will bring you to the land, for although the entry
into Eretz Yisrael was a major aspect of the destiny of the Jewish people, it
was not a critical aspect of the redemption itself.
jxp ka hghca - The Seventh Day Of Pesach
One usually assumes that during the hours of the actual Exodus from
Egypt the Jewish people were a joyful people, as depicted in all the
children's books. This simplistic outlook may not be true, and this error
ultimately may not allow us to properly understand the lessons of the story
of the Exodus from Egypt.
Rabbi Tzvi Haskell directs us to examine several historic points. The
enslavement in Egypt became the harshest after Moshe approached
Pharaoh and demanded that he send out the Jews. The decree of killing the
children probably ended with Moshe's birth many years before. Secondly,
Chazal tell us that many of the Jews died during the plague of darkness,
seemingly leaving almost no one without the loss of a close family
member. Furthermore, Ramban explains that at the very zenith of geulah
during the splitting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire went to the back of the
encampment of Israel. This move caused a dimming of the degree of light
that the Jews had enjoyed on other nights, causing them now to walk
slowly. It would appear that at this point, when the time of their dire need
to flee from the Egyptians had come, Hashem seemed to be holding them
back and placing them in a terrible position.
A superficial outlook may lead us to believe that the Jews could have seen
themselves as beaten mourners on the verge of absolute disaster, a
calamity uniquely engineered by Heaven. The proper outlook, however,
was that there existed a nation chosen to be the wv og - the nation of God -
who were poised to witness perhaps the greatest miracle in history.
A purely simplistic view of the Exodus from Egypt will lead one to
mistakenly expect that God's help will always be in the form of the
wonderful and rosy situations we would wish for ourselves. With this
training, when we are faced with the hardships of life and history, we
might feel abandoned and lost, as this is not what we have envisioned to be
the work of God. Perhaps only through understanding that the salvation of
God does not always come exactly as we would have expected do we now
have the ability to see the hand of Hashem in our lives and in our history.
This corrected outlook gives us the ability to derive the lessons and
strengths from the Exodus from Egypt that are necessary in our ongoing
travels toward Mashiach and our return to Eretz Yisrael.
Halachic Corner Shabbas HaGadol
The Seder table should be prepared before yom tov in order to facilitate
beginning the Seder immediately upon returning home from shul after
nightfall because we want the children to be able to stay awake. The Torah
stresses the child in the mitzvah of relating the story of the departure from
Egypt at the Seder as it says (Shemos 13:8), "tUvv oIhC Wbck Tsdvu"- You
shall relate to your son on that day. Therefore, if the Seder begins
without delay, the child will ask "vbTJb vn". The father will then be able to
respond to his questions and properly fulfill the mitzvah of ohrmn ,thmh rUPhx.
Although during the entire year it is best to minimize the use of elegant
vessels at the table in order to recall the destruction of the Beis
HaMikdash, on the Seder nights it is a mitzvah to set the table with the
finest vessels in the manner of free men and royalty. There is a minhag for
men to wear a kittel at the Seder. There are two reason for this minhag:
1) The kittel resembles the garments of angels.
2) The kittel resembles a shroud. Since at the Seder we conduct ourselves
as free men and royalty, we are afraid that a person may become
overbearing and haughty. Therefore the kittel reminds him of the eventual
day of his death.
Questions for Thought and Study
1. In Pasuk 16:34 the implication is that Aharon did the Yom Kippur
service right after he was commanded to do so. Wasnt he commanded
months before at the death of Nadav and Avihu? See Ramban 16:34
2. Why is the section concerning slaughtering a sacrifice outside the
Mishkan written right after the Yom Kippur service? See Baal HaTurim
3. Why is blood of the sacrifice brought on the Mizbeach? See Rabbeinu
Bachya 17:11
4. When did Moshe detain Pharaoh? See Rabbeinu Bachya 8:15
5. How does holding up a cup of wine at "vsngJ thvu" indicate that Hashem
will show us mercy in our exile? See Bnei Yissoschor
1. The service was not until months later, but he immediately fulfilled the
command to not enter the Kodesh Kodoshim.
2. This is to teach us that even though as part of the Yom Kippur service a
goat was sent outside to Azazel, still, one should not slaughter any
sacrifices outside the Mishkan.
3. The blood represents the Jpb (soul) of a person. When the blood is
offered on the Mizbeach it is an atonement for the Jpb of the sinner.
4. Moshe detained Pharaoh when he met him at the Nile. This caused
Pharaoh great pain as he used that time to go to the bathroom for the day.
5. A person who is intoxicated is exempt from mitzvos. Hashem will judge
us as if we were intoxicated during our exile and will forgive us for our
Likutei Peshatim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker in loving memory of Max and Mary Sutker and Louis and Lillian Klein, d"r. May their memory
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Rabbi Naftali Reich
Parshas Acharei Mos & Pesach
One of the most wondrous features that surfaces during our pre Pesach
preparations is the manner in which we assume responsibility for one
another, ensuring that everybody's needs are met before the Pesach
festival. The first Mishna in Pesachim instructs us not to lean at the Seder
table until everybody has been provided with their Seder necessities.
Earlier this week, a scene unfolded here in Monsey at the Tomche Shabbos
headquarters, replicated in Jewish communities across the globe, that put
the magnificent solidarity of the Jewish people on display in faithful
adherence to this teaching.
Scores of volunteers assembled to pack the Pesach food that was donated
to hundreds of families in our community. Over ten trucks lined up in front
of the Tomche Shabbos warehouse and eager volunteers from every
religious stream gathered in unity, sorting, loading and delivering what
seemed like an endless stream of boxes onto the waiting trucks. Grape
juice, potatoes, chickens, groceries, staples and the like were piled high in
the warehouse. It was truly an inspirational and heart warming scene to see
Jews so joyously fulfilling the mitzvah of providing Kimcha d'Pischa to
those in need.
Why do we emphasize this particular mitzvah before Pesach? Why do we
feel such an urgent sense of responsibility to one another leading up to this
particular festival? True, the needs associated with Pesach are greater than
at any other time of the year. The festival provisions tally up to an
enormous expense and for many, securing the bare necessities for the
family is daunting. Yet the awesome sense of responsibility we see
displayed for fellow Jews in our midst goes above and beyond what one
would expect. What brings to the surface at this particular time the
tremendous compassion and desire to reach out to our brothers and sisters?
Perhaps the answer is that over three thousand years ago, when we
accepted the Torah, we Jews accepted upon ourselves the bond and
covenant of areivus, responsibility to one another. We recognize that all
six hundred thousand of us are one unit, one organic entity; we are
inseparably intertwined. This remarkable unity, undeterred by barriers of
time and geography, is unique to the Jewish people.
Consider the human body's amazing capacity to address its needs. If a
germ invades a particular area of the body, the entire human organism
springs into action. Nutrients and blood cells stream to the affected area
from all over the body to repel any substance that endangers its health. The
hand, the toe, the head, any organ-it makes no difference. Every cell is
interconnected and stands ready at any given moment to assist the body
and restore it to health. This the unique trait characteristic of the Jewish
It is well known that during the Mendel Beilis trial that was held in
Moscow at the turn of the century, the prosecutor accused Jews of
harboring contempt for non-Jews. He quoted a piece from the Talmud to
demonstrate how superior Jews feel to Gentiles and how they loathe those
who are not of their faith. "Atem keruim Adam, you [the Jewish people]
are called a man, which is not true of the Gentiles," says the Talmud. The
legal defense team of Mendel Bailis was in a quandary as to how to
respond to this devastating attack on the Jewish faith. They consulted with
the Rav of Moscow who sent a telegram to Rabbi Meir Shapiro for advice.
He instructed them to tell the judge that this segment of the Talmud
reflects the essential character trait of the Jewish people and is not
intended as an insult to the other peoples of the world.
"This essential Jewish characteristic is on display during this very trial in a
courtroom in Moscow," he said. "The entire Jewish world is up in arms.
Jews across the globe are using all the resources at their disposal to
intercede on the behalf of the accused, Mendel Beilis. We are one Adam,
one man, one organic whole. We feel the pain of one another and are
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 33
willing to sacrifice for each other in a way that no other people has ever
This profound trait surfaced at the moment of our formation as a people
and is the force that renders us distinct and unique. On Pesach, at the
moment of our annual rebirth, we sit at the Seder to celebrate our exodus
from Egypt and our creation as a nation. Our joy at this momentous
occasion and our cohesion as a nation is expressed in a heartfelt reaching
out to our Jewish brothers and sisters: "Let all who are hungry come and
partake, let all who need come and join us!"
Next Year In Jerusalem!
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos and a Kosher and Happy Pesach!
Rabbi Naftali Reich
Text Copyright 2014 by Rabbi Naftali Reich and Rabbi Reich is on the faculty of the Ohr Somayach Tanenbaum Education Center.

Rabbi Mordechai Rhine
Rabbi's Message
Do you have a Seder?
Seder means order. And order is important.
Take Pesach preparations for example. Did you ever try to Kosher the
kitchen before cleaning it? Or, buy all your Pesach products before making
place to put them? Doing things in order is truly the theme of the holiday.
This is especially true at the seder, which gets its name from the fact that it
is done in a calculated, orderly fashion.
In this week's parsha we are told that there is a seder- a proper order-
which must be employed for effective living. The Torah describes the
process of atonement which was effectuated by the Kohein Gadol on Yom
Kippur. So great was the Kohein Gadol that he could activate G-d's love
and blessing for the entire world. Healing, prosperity, healthy children,
peace, and serenity were all part of the prayers of the Kohein Gadol on this
special day. But there was a process.
The Torah tells us that first, "He shall atone for his household," referring
to his wife. Then he would atone for the Kohanim. And only then would
he atone for the entire Jewish people and attain blessing for the entire
Sometimes we meet people who don't realize the importance of doing
things in order. They may decide to try and fix the world, but haven't spent
time properly developing the relationship they have with their spouse, and
inner circle of friends. Or, they may have much great intellect- they can
give great advice- but have never spent the time and emotional energy to
first implement that great wisdom in their own lives. They may do much
good, but because it is done out of order and without a proper foundation,
it is doubtful that their approach will endure. Going in order may take
longer, but it can be described as the long route which gets you to your
As the holiday of Pesach nears, we are aware of the unbridled potential
that this season brings. Hashem declares, "I am Hashem, your G-d, who
took you out of Egypt. Open your mouth and I will fill it." Just as when we
left Egypt we could not have fathomed the great role that Jews would play
in the world, so we often sell ourselves short, not realizing the great
potential that is available to us. Hashem asks that we open our mouths
wide, and be open to great blessing. For sure, we are able to bring blessing
to the entire world. But the theme of the season is to do it with a seder, to
do things in order. In that way we will succeed.
Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, kosher, and joyous Pesach!
Rabbi Mordechai Rhine is the Rav of Southeast Hebrew Congregation- Knesset Yehoshua in Silver Spring, MD. He is also the Director of
TEACH613, which promotes Torah and mitzvah education through classes and virtual media. Rabbi Rhine has received semicha from Rabbi Berel
Wein, and Rabbi Shmuel Meir Katz, and holds a Masters in Educational Leadership from Bellevue University. Rabbi Rhine's "Take Ten for Talmud"
ten minute audio program based on Daf Hayomi is available by free e-mail subscription. His book, "The Magic of Shabbos," and the Perek Shirah
Collection CD Series are available in Judaica stores, and through He can be contacted at 2014, Rabbi
Mordechai Rhine and TEACH613TM

Aish.Com Sara Yoheved Rigler
Jewish Identity: Are You In or Out?
Passover and the redemptive value of Jewish identity.
Our Sages assert that the Israelites in Egypt were on the lowest level of
spiritual impurity. They worshipped idols. They were debauched and
dissolute. So how did they merit the grand and miraculous redemption?
They had only three things going for them: They kept their Hebrew names,
their Hebrew language, and their distinctive Hebrew dress. In other words,
they retained their Jewish identity.
Wait a second! Didnt you cringe when you found out that the biggest
Ponzi scheme in history had been perpetuated by someone with a distinctly
Jewish name? Wouldnt we have preferred that instead of retaining his
Jewish identity he had changed his name to Christopher Johnson?
What is the redemptive value of Jewish identity?
The question assumes particular importance in our generation. Indeed, the
rates of adultery, domestic violence, addiction to drugs and porn, and
murder for reasons as trifling as being cut off in traffic have skyrocketed in
this generation. An objective look at our moral standing would produce a
grim assessment.
Judaism promulgates a teleological worldview that history is moving
toward a specific goal, namely, the Redemption, or the Messianic era. So
how can a generation as dissolute as ours be redeemed?
The Power of Community
Maimonides, in his code of Jewish Law, makes a startling pronouncement.
He writes that a Jew who lives in isolation from the Jewish community,
even if he keeps all the commandments, is considered a kofer bikar, a
heretic. The implication is that identifying with the Jewish community is a
basic value that underlies all the commandments.
The challenge to identify as a Jew or not became a viable choice in the
19th century, as the ghetto walls came down. During the 19th and early
20th century, huge numbers of Jews defected. Over the course of the
nineteenth century, the majority of Warsaws most affluent Jews converted
to Christianity. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1867 and 1918,
about 20,000 Jews converted to Christianity to rid themselves of the social
stigma of being Jewish. (Gustav Mahler is the most famous example; he
converted to Roman Catholicism in 1897 in order to snag the post of
Conductor of the Viennese Opera.)
Many Jewish immigrants en route to America from Eastern Europe threw
their tefillin into the New York harbor because they wanted to eschew
their Jewish identity and become Americans. In contrast to the ancient
Hebrews in Egypt, who retained their Hebrew names and language, many
Jewish immigrants changed their names. The film Hester Street about life
on the lower East Side has a scene in a class for ballroom dancing. The
sign on the wall proclaims: NO YIDDISH SPOKEN HERE.
In our generation, many Jews have renounced their Jewish identity in
favor of becoming citizens of the world. Their political views have led
them to identify with the enemies of the Jewish People.
Since 1948, the benchmark of Jewish identification in America has been,
more than synagogue affiliation, support of the Jewish State. Rabbi
Nachman Kahane remembers that when he was a teenager in New York in
1948, he helped raise funds to buy arms for the Jewish fighters in what
was soon to be the State of Israel. Their truck would stop at a street corner,
they would jump out, and two of them would hold an Israeli flag
horizontally. Passers-by would reach into their pockets, and without even
looking, throw everything they had into the flag. This enthusiastic support
of Israel was unwavering in the American Jewish community until the last
Thats why alarm bells rang a couple years ago when a study revealed that
50% of American Jews under the age of 35 would not consider it a
personal tragedy if the State of Israel ceased to exist. Two months ago an
American Congresswoman declared that the Jews of America had sold out
Israel in their support of Obamas diplomatic surrender to Irans nuclear
The nadir of this abandonment of support for Israel is the BDS (Boycott,
Divestment, Sanctions) movement, which actually has some Jews among
its supporters. The BDS movement seeks to destroy Israel economically
just as Iran seeks to destroy Israel physically. The starkest defection from
the Jewish People is to side with those sworn to our destruction. According
to Jewish law, every person born to a Jewish mother is Jewish, even if s/he
converts to another religion. But a Jew needs to minimally cast his/her lot
with the Jewish community to be redeemable.
Lets be clear here. God wants the maximum from us Jews: love your
neighbor as yourself; keep Shabbos; dont speak lashon hara; keep kosher
the whole nine yards. But the minimum requirement to be redeemed is to
identify as a Jew.
Spiritual DNA
Why should a dissolute Jew who identifies as a Jew be redeemable? Here
it gets mystical. According to our sages, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs
passed their spiritual DNA down to their descendants. Their spiritual
achievements were not personal. In virtually every Divine revelation to the
Patriarchs, God makes promises dealing with their descendants they will
be like the stars of the heaven and like the sands of the seashore, they
will inherit the Land of Israel, etc. Among the promises was that God
would not let a Jewish soul hit rock bottom without Divine intervention to
stop his free-fall. This spiritual safety net is called, zechut avot, the
merit of the forefathers.
According to the Midrash, at the Splitting of the Sea, the angel of Egypt
protested to God that both the Hebrews and the Egyptians were idol
worshippers. Why should the Hebrews be saved, and the Egyptians
drowned? God answered that the Hebrews are the descendants of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Zechut avot, the merit of the forefathers.
But zechut avot, like any inheritance, only becomes yours if you claim it.
Your grandfather can bequeath you a bank account worth a million dollars,
but if dont show up at the lawyers office and identify yourself as Jake
Levys grandson, you wont have access to his fortune. If you dont
actively identify as a Jew, you cant inherit the precious fortune of zechut
Zechut avot is like a skydivers reserve chute. If the main parachute fails
to open, and the skydiver is falling at 120 mph, she can be saved by the
reserve chute. But only if she pulls the cord! The cord that activates the
merit of the forefathers is Jewish identity.
Jewish identity is what prompted Kirk Douglas to fast every Yom Kippur.
As he proudly stated, I might be making a film, but I fasted.
Jewish identity is what prompted Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg to post a large silver mezuzah on the doorpost of her Supreme
Court chambers.
Jewish identity is what prompted movie star Scarlet Johansson to stand up
for Israel at the cost of her prestige as an Oxfam ambassador.
34 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
The Passover Seder speaks about four sons. Only one of them is cast as
wicked. As the Hagaddah states: The wicked son, what does he say?
What is this service to you? To you, but not to him. Because he
excludes himself from the community, he is a heretic. Say to him,
Because of what God did for me when I went out of Egypt. For me, but
not for him, because if he would have been there, he would not have been
The first Passover marked the birth of the Jewish nation. Every Passover
since poses the challenge to every Jew: Are you in or are you out?
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Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Covenant & Conversation
Sprints and Marathons
Acharei Mot - 12 April, 2014 / 12 Nisan, 5774
It was a unique, unrepeatable moment of leadership at its highest height.
For forty days Moses had been communing with God, receiving from him
the law written on tablets of stone. Then God informed him that the people
had just made a golden calf. He was about to destroy them. It was the
worst crisis of the wilderness years, and it called for every one of Moses
gifts as a leader.
First, he prayed to God not to destroy the people. God agreed. Then he
went down the mountain and saw the people cavorting around the calf.
Immediately, he smashed the tablets. He burned the calf, mixed its ashes
with water and made the people drink. Then he called for people to join
him. The Levites heeded the call and carried out a bloody punishment in
which three thousand people died. Then Moses went back up the mountain
and prayed for forty days and nights. Then for a further forty days he
stayed with God while a new set of tablets was engraved. Finally he came
down the mountain on 10 Tishri carrying the new tablets with him as a
visible sign that Gods covenant with Israel remained.
This was an extraordinary show of leadership, at times bold and decisive,
at others slow and persistent. Moses had to contend with both sides,
inducing the Israelites to do teshuvah and God to exercise forgiveness. At
that moment he was the greatest ever embodiment of the name Israel,
meaning one who wrestles with God and with people and prevails.
The good news is: there once was a Moses. Because of him, the people
survived. The bad news is: what happens when there is no Moses? The
Torah itself says: No other prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom
the Lord knew face to face (Deut. 34: 10). That is the problem faced by
every nation, corporation, community and family. What do you do in the
absence of heroic leadership? It is easy to say, Think what Moses would
have done. But Moses did what he did because he was what he was. We
are not Moses. That is why every human group that was once touched by
greatness faces a problem of continuity. How does it avoid a slow decline?
The answer is given in this weeks parsha. The day Moses descended the
mountain with the second tablets was to be immortalised by turning its
anniversary into a holy day, Yom Kippur. On it, the drama of teshuvah and
kapparah, repentance and atonement, was to be repeated annually. This
time, though, the key figure would not be Moses but Aaron, not the
prophet but the High Priest.
That is how you perpetuate a transformative event: by turning it into a
ritual. Max Weber called this the routinization of charisma.(1) A once-and-
never-again moment becomes a once-and-ever-again ceremony. As James
MacGregor Burns puts it in his classic work, Leadership: The most
lasting tangible act of leadership is the creation of an institution a nation,
a social movement, a political party, a bureaucracy that continues to
exert moral leadership and foster needed social change long after the
creative leaders are gone.(2)
There is a remarkable midrash in which various sages put forward their
idea of klal gadol ba-Torah, the great principle of the Torah. Ben Azzai
says it is the verse, This is the book of the chronicles of man: On the day
that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God (Gen. 5: 1).
Ben Zoma says that there is a more embracing principle, Listen, Israel,
the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Ben Nannas says there is a yet more
embracing principle: Love your neighbour as yourself. Ben Pazzi says
we find a more embracing principle still: The first sheep shall be offered
in the morning, and the second sheep in the afternoon (Exodus 29: 39)
or, as we might say today, Shacharit, Mincha and Maariv. In a word:
routine. The passage concludes: The law follows Ben Pazzi.(3)
The meaning of Ben Pazzis statement is clear: all the high ideals in the
world the human person as Gods image, belief in Gods unity, and the
love of neighbours count for little until they are turned into habits of
action that become habits of the heart. We can all recall moments of
insight or epiphany when we suddenly understood what life is about, what
greatness is, and how we would like to live. A day, a week, or at most a
year later the inspiration fades and becomes a distant memory and we are
left as we were before, unchanged.
Judaisms greatness is that it gave space to both prophet and priest, to
inspirational figures on the one hand, and on the other, daily routines the
halakhah that take exalted visions and turn them into patterns of
behaviour that reconfigure the brain and change how we feel and who we
One of the most unusual passages I have ever read about Judaism written
by a non-Jew occurs in William Rees-Moggs book on macro-economics,
The Reigning Error.(4) Rees-Mogg (1928-2012) was a financial journalist
who became editor of The Times, chairman of the Arts Council and vice-
chairman of the BBC. Religiously he was a committed Catholic.
He begins the book with a completely unexpected paean of praise for
halakhic Judaism. He explains his reason for doing so. Inflation, he says, is
a disease of inordinacy, a failure of discipline, in this case in relation to
money. What makes Judaism unique, he says, is its legal system. This has
been wrongly criticised by Christians as drily legalistic. In fact, Jewish law
was essential for Jewish survival because it provided a standard by which
action could be tested, a law for the regulation of conduct, a focus for
loyalty and a boundary for the energy of human nature.
All sources of energy, most notably nuclear energy, need some form of
containment. Without that, they become dangerous. Jewish law has always
acted as a container for the spiritual and intellectual energy of the Jewish
people. That energy has not merely exploded or been dispersed; it has
been harnessed as a continuous power. What Jews have, he argues,
modern economies lack: a system of self-control that allows economies to
flourish without booms and crashes, inflation and recession.
The same applies to leadership. In Good to Great, management theorist
Jim Collins argues that what the great companies have in common is a
culture of discipline. In Great By Choice he uses the phrase the 20 mile
march, meaning that outstanding organisations plan for the marathon, not
the sprint. Confidence, he says, comes not from motivational speeches,
charismatic inspiration, wild pep rallies, unfounded optimism, or blind
hope.(5) It comes from doing the deed, day after day, year after year.
Great companies use disciplines that are specific, methodical and
consistent. They encourage their people to be self-disciplined and
responsible. They do not over-react to change, be it for good or bad. They
keep their eye on the far horizon. Above all, they do not depend on heroic,
charismatic leaders who at best lift the company for a while but do not
provide it with the strength-in-depth they need to flourish in the long run.
The classic instance of the principles articulated by Burns, Rees-Mogg and
Collins is the transformation that occurred between Ki Tissa and Acharei
Mot, between the first Yom Kippur and the second, between Moses
heroic leadership and the quiet, understated priestly discipline of an annual
day of repentance and atonement.
Turning ideals into codes of action that shape habits of the heart is what
Judaism and leadership are about. Never lose the inspiration of the
prophets, but never lose, either, the routines that turn ideals into acts and
dreams into achieved reality.
1. See Max Weber, Economy and Society, University of California Press,
1978, 246 ff.
2. James MacGregor Burns, Leadership, 454.
3. The passage is cited in the Introduction to the commentary HaKotev to
Ein Yaakov, the collected aggadic passages of the Talmud. It is also
quoted by Maharal in Netivot Olam, Ahavat Rea 1.
4. William Rees-Mogg, The Reigning Error: The crisis of world inflation,
London, Hamilton, 1974, 9-13.
5. Jim Collins, Good to Great, London, Random House Business, 2001.
Great By Choice, London, Random House Business Books, 2011.
About Rabbi Sacks: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a global religious leader, philosopher, the
author of more than 25 books, and moral voice for our time. Until 1st September 2013 he
served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, having held
the position for 22 years. Copyright 2013 The Office of Rabbi Sacks, All rights reserved. The
Office of Rabbi Sacks is supported by The Covenant & Conversation Trust The Office of Rabbi
Sacks PO Box 72007 London, NW6 6RW United Kingdom

Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum
Peninim on the Torah
Parshas Achrei Mos
After the death of Aharon's two sons. (16:1)
Nadav and Avihu were great tzaddikim, righteous and pious persons.
Indeed, Hashem attests to their virtue when He says, Bikrovai akadesh, "I
will be sanctified through those who are nearest to Me" (Vayikra 10:3).
The average person taking a cursory look at this tragedy will, no doubt,
have pressing questions that challenge the core of his faith in the
Almighty. After all - why? The question screams out at us. Let us posit
that, indeed, Nadav and Avihu erred by getting so carried away by their
consummate love for Hashem that they just had to go into the Mishkan and
offer ketores, incense, without first being commanded to do so. Is this a
reason, however, for their sudden, untimely, tragic deaths? Did Aharon
HaKohen, a man who was the essence of goodness, a man who loved
every Jew, whose love for Hashem was boundless, deserve such a klop,
When the Aron HaKodesh was being pulled along in a wagon it was about
to fall, and Uzah took hold of it, thereby preventing it from falling.
Nonetheless, when he touched the sacred Ark, which he was not supposed
to do, he immediately died. Did he deserve such severe punishment?
"David (HaMelech) was upset (with himself) because Hashem had
inflicted a breach against Uzah" (Shmuel 2, 6:8).
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 35
During the Counting of the Omer, we are careful not to make joyful public
celebrations, such as wedding feasts. This is out of respect for Rabbi
Akiva's 24,000 students, who perished during this period. These were not
simple Jews. They were Klal Yisrael's spiritual elite, but they had not
manifest proper respect toward one another. So, they were punished. Did it
have to be so final? It is true that Hashem has a different standard for those
close to Him. Did they have to die? Imagine a Torah world with 24,000
Torah giants!
It is very difficult to understand the death of the righteous. Obviously, we
are not privy to the larger picture, the Heavenly perspective, where it all
makes sense. We look at the vicissitudes of life through our one-
dimensional outlook. We see only the here and now. We have no clue
concerning the yesterday and tomorrow. We certainly do not have any idea
concerning Hashem's viewpoint and all that He factors in before He makes
a decision. Yet, we ask; we have complaints. It is because we are short-
sighted, stigmatized by our own myopic perception of life.
The Melitzer Rebbe, Shlita, suggests the following analogy to address
some of the questioning. A villager who lacked education and culture, as
well as all of the accoutrements and perspective that comes with
proficiency in these areas, was broke. He had lost his house in a fire; all of
his material belongings had gone up in smoke. The last few months he and
his wife and family had been living in absolute, abject poverty. He simply
could not go on. He decided to travel to the big city. Perhaps he would
meet a wealthy man who would be kind and generous enough to help him
in some way.
Hashem listened to the villager's pleas, and the man met a wealthy
individual who took pity on his plight and offered to help. He gave the
man a fine home outfitted with the necessary furniture and appliances.
They now had a place to live. In addition, he gave the man a stipend of
four thousand dollars a month! All of this was for nothing in return. He
told the poor man, "Get back on your feet. You are my welcome guest."
The man could not believe his good fortune. The family moved in, and life
was good.
Three years passed, and the wealthy benefactor decided that it was time to
give his home a makeover. The man lived in an elegant mansion, but, with
time, even mansions require some fixing up, a little modernization. Never
leaving well enough alone is a way of life. It was time for an upgrade. He
put ads in the local paper and hung posters all over the city seeking
architects, carpenters, plumbers, painters, specialists in every field of
construction. This was going to be a makeover to end all makeovers.
Money was clearly no object. The very next day, the poor man, who had
been living off the dole on the benefactor's property, presented himself at
the man's door: "I can do it all. I am proficient in all of these professions.
"Wonderful," replied his benefactor. "Get to work, and we will work out
the payment."
The poor man was assiduous and quite adept at what he was doing. He
went to work immediately. A month went by, and the benefactor was at
the point of settling a business deal concerning a large parcel of land
which he owned. This was a real estate deal in the millions of dollars.
Everything was all set. The buyer was there with his lawyers; the seller
was there with his attorneys. It was all about to go down, when the poor
man burst in: "Mr. Benefactor, I have completed my job. I want payment -
NOW!" Obviously, the man's lack of culture was showing. He should have
realized that the benefactor was in the middle of an important meeting. He
was nice to him, but could he not have waited a little bit longer until the
meeting was over, and the money had changed hands?
Despite all of this, the benefactor was a real mentch, decent human being,
who understood his worker's background. "Ok, let me pay you. How much
do I owe you?" he asked. "Six thousand dollars, and I must have the
money now." The benefactor was slightly taken aback, but he took it all in
stride. "Fine, come back a little bit later, and I will pay you."
"Absolutely not!" the worker replied emphatically. "I worked for a month.
I did the carpentry, painting, everything that you requested of me. I
worked from early in the morning until late at night. I demand my money -
The businessman who was about to purchase the real estate parcel became
agitated, thinking, "What is this man's [the benefactor's] problem? This
poor man worked from day to night for an entire month. All he is asking is
six thousand dollars, which is probably nothing more than a drop in the
bucket for this wealthy man. Why does he not pay him outright and move
on?" The question gnawed at him until he decided that he really did not
want to do business with such a person.
"Excuse me, sir," he said to the owner of the real estate, "I am not feeling
well right now. I would like to rest, do a little thinking, and perhaps later I
will sign the papers. Forgive me now, I must go to my hotel."
On the way to the motel, he met the city's banker, an individual who was
well aware of the financial portfolios of his customers. Plus, he was a very
good judge of character - both in business and otherwise. The businessman
shared with the banker his current hesitations concerning closing the deal
with the land owner. The banker assured him that he had nothing to worry
about. The man was the paradigm of integrity. Feeling reassured, he
returned and closed the deal.
The wealthy landowner was no fool. He understood what had taken place.
He felt that he owed the businessman an explanation: "My friend, you
probably had questions concerning my behavior vis-?-vis my worker. Let
me share a bit of history with you. I took in this man and his family three
years ago. I gave him a monthly subsidy of four thousand dollars. During
the past three years, I have never once asked him to do a thing for me. Yet,
when he completed a job, he demanded to be paid immediately! This took
place while I was involved in a major business transaction, and, if I tarried
momentarily, he would scream at me!"
Let us ask ourselves how far removed we are from this villager, how
different is our lack of hakoras hatov, gratitude. The poor man was taken
in off the street. For three years he had been supported by the wealthy
landowner. During this time, he obviously had forgotten the meaning of
the term, "thank you." Yet, he had the audacity to demand payment
immediately - if not sooner - or else he would slander the landowner!
Now, let us examine ourselves with a critical eye. Our heart beats
approximately seventy beats per minute, over one hundred thousand beats
a day. Do the math and calculate how many beats per year. Then calculate
the amount of beats experienced by the heart of a thirty-year-old person in
his lifetime. Do we ever say, "Thank you, Hashem," for that beating heart?
One missed beat means a visit to the emergency room - if we are lucky!
Yet, as soon as something goes awry- we do not feel well, our day is not
perfect - we ask, "Why is Hashem picking on me? Why should I be in such
pain?" The complaints come one after another. It is always Hashem -
never us. The nature of man is to see the negative, notice what is missing -
rarely to observe, appreciate and pay gratitude for what is good. Therefore,
the moment that we are challenged, we should ask ourselves: "What does
Hashem want? Why?" And then thank Hashem for all the good that we
have already received from him.
Every time something occurs which takes us out of our comfort zone, we
should not immediately complain to Hashem. We are no different than the
uncultured, ungrateful villager who did not appreciate a good thing when
he had it.
For in a Cloud will I appear upon the Ark-Cover. (16:2)
No one was permitted to enter the Kodesh HaKedoshim, Holy of Holies,
except for Aharon HaKohen and future Kohanim Gedolim. This would
take place once a year, on Yom Kippur. It was in the Kodesh
HaKedoshim, from within a Cloud hovering above the Kapores, Ark
Cover, that Hashem's Glory was manifest. Hashem's Glory is hidden
beneath many veils. It is within the innermost area of sanctity and, even
then, it is shrouded within a cloud. Horav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Shlita,
derives a powerful, inspirational lesson from Hashem's clandestine
Presence. Ki be'anan eiraeh, "For in a Cloud will I appear." Every time,
every moment, at every juncture that a person feels his life inundated with
darkness; he is within a murky cloud of ambiguity; his problems have
trapped him into a corner; the vicissitudes of life have gotten to him; he
sees no way, no avenue, no light at the end of the tunnel - he should not
give up. Concealed within the problems and darkness is Hashem's
Presence. He is behind, hidden within the challenges. If one maintains his
spiritual stamina, if he keeps the faith, he will find Hashem.
In his commentary to the Torah, Devarim 31:8, the Baal Shem Tov, zl,
explains, V'Anochi astir panim, "And I will have surely concealed My
Face." How can Hashem hide Himself from us? He explains this with an
analogy. A king placed a number of optical illusions on the road and in the
palace, as he concealed himself within a room in the back of the palace.
The average person might believe that the king is nowhere to be found.
The astute observer understands that a king who cares, a loving Father in
Heaven, does not leave. He is present, taking refuge behind various cover-
ups which enshroud His Presence. The true believer keeps looking for
Hashem. He never gives up, because he realizes that Hashem will never
forsake His children. The various canopies which seem to conceal Him are
actually figments of our imagination. If we look - we will find Him.
This is what our pasuk is teaching us. Whenever there appears to be a
hastoras panim, concealment of the Divine Presence, it means that we
must look harder and deeper, because Hashem is "hidden" within the
A well-known analogy is worth repeating. There was once a man who was
continually stricken with misfortune. Nothing seemed to go right. If it was
not an illness, it was a financial problem, or an issue with a child - it was
always something. Feeling alone and forsaken, he looked Heavenward and
asked the One Above, Keili, lamah azavtani? "My G-d, why have You
abandoned me?"
One night, the man dreamed that he was walking on a long path. When he
looked back, he saw two sets of footprints. The prints were not consistent,
since in areas in which the path narrowed, he saw only one set of prints.
He contemplated the meaning of the dream, quickly realizing that the
dream was about his life. The path represented his journey through life,
from birth, childhood, youth and middle age, and finally the present: old
age. As he traveled the road of life, he was accompanied by Hashem;
hence, the two sets of foot prints. The wider road represented the good
times, the happy times, when the sun shone on him. The narrower road
symbolized the periods of adversity, times of challenge that he had
experienced. This part of the road was bumpy, as well as narrow.
He was now even more troubled, since apparently when the road became
difficult to traverse, there was only one set of footprints. Apparently, when
he needed Him most, Hashem had abandoned him. What other explanation
36 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
could there be for the single set of footprints? He cried out to Hashem,
"Why, why did You forsake me when I needed You most? Why did You
leave me to travel alone at my most difficult time? It was then that I
needed Your support more than ever!"
Suddenly, he heard a Voice gently say, "My beloved son, you are greatly
mistaken. While it is true that there are difficult times, when the road
narrows and it seems that you are walking all alone, it is specifically
during these times when you perceive loneliness and abandonment, that
quite the opposite is true. During those times a wide path is unnecessary,
because there is need for only one set of footprints - Mine. I do not walk
beside you; rather, I carry you. Please realize that during those times when
you feel most forsaken, when you feel that I have abandoned you - I am
closer to you than at any other time. I know that you need Me, and I am
The man woke up a transformed person. He learned to rely on emunah,
faith, in Hashem during his times of travail. Adversity no longer frightened
him; challenges no longer overwhelmed him. He walked with Hashem.
We tend to ignore another aspect of adversity: Hashem's pain. A parent
who cares, a teacher who is sensitive, invariably feels pain when
punishment is required in order to maintain his child's / student's proper
behavior and attitude. No one enjoys punishment - least of all the parent or
teacher who is charged with meting it out. Why should our Heavenly
Father be different? The average person does not think this way. It is all
about "me" and "my" pain. The following vignette should prove
Horav David Dubiner, zl, was an outstanding holy Torah scholar who
lived in Tzefas. For many years this righteous Jew, together with his wife,
lived alone. Hashem had not yet blessed them with a child. When a son
was finally born to them, the simchah, rejoicing, was reflected throughout
the entire community. The boy was raised in a pure Torah environment
and, at the age of seventeen, he was engaged to be married to a wonderful
like-minded girl. Alas, shortly prior to the wedding, the young man
became ill and succumbed to his illness.
The shock and pain reverberated throughout the entire Torah community.
The city's Jewish population all attended the funeral. Everyone shed bitter
tears of grief over the tragedy and for the pain that the parents were
experiencing. One person did not cry - neither at the funeral, nor during
the first three days of shivah, seven-day mourning period. Rav David
listened to the visitors' comments, bent his head, and said nothing. There
was no manifestation of grief on his face - only silence. On the fourth day,
he began to weep and continued to do so for the remainder of the shivah.
After the shivah, he explained his seemingly strange behavior: "I believe
with complete faith that Hashem, Who gave me a precious gift - my son,
took him back with complete justice. This is why, for the first three days
of shivah, I remained silent. I did not protest Hashem's decree by shedding
tears. On the fourth day, however, I became calm enough to accept my
tzarah, trouble, and reflect on the tragedy and how to react to it.
"I felt that Hashem is certainly correct in punishing me so cruelly. In as
much as the blow is immense, I must accept it without question, without
protest. Thus, for the first three days, I did not shed a tear. On the fourth
day, however, I realized that when a father strikes his child, regardless of
the justification, it causes the father great pain - even more than that of his
son. It then came to my attention that Hashem's 'pain' over having to
punish me so severely is far greater than my own pain. For this pain of the
Shechinah, I cried."
The Kohen who has been anointed or who has been given the authority
to serve in place of his father. (16:32)
The Kohen Gadol's son is first to succeed him, providing that he is suitable
for the position. The Torah underscores the notion that he serves in place
of his father. This teaches us, observes Horav Gamliel Rabinowitz, Shlita,
that the Kohen Gadol must deeply understand his roots and realize that he
is there only b'zchus, in the merit of, his father. If the Kohen Gadol
appreciates that his position is an "inheritance," that he has succeeded in
achieving the apex of spiritual leadership due to z'chus avos, the merit of
his past lineage, then he is fitting to be Kohen Gadol and atone for the
If, however, the Kohen Gadol loses sight of his past, arrogating himself to
believe that this is all about "him" - not "them" - then his pompousness
impugns his character and will be an impediment in his efforts to advocate
on behalf of Klal Yisrael. He must feel that others are actually more
deserving than he to be in the place of distinction, to serve as Kohen
Gadol. He is there not in his own right, but tachas aviv, "in place of his
When we follow the mesorah, tradition, of the holy legacy that has been
preserved and transmitted throughout the generations, from father to son,
rebbe to talmid, then we are able to achieve the pinnacle of observance
which will affect a healthy and fortuitous future for us and our children. If,
however, we break with the mesorah, if our every attempt to bring back
those who have waned in their observance by hacking away at the age-old
traditions for which our ancestors lived and died falls on deaf ears- we will
have failed miserably. This is true, regardless under which banner we refer
to ourselves. Adding the term Orthodoxy to any flagrant aspersion of
tradition does not grant it a hechsher, approbation. If it breaks with the
holy mesorah, it cannot be approved, regardless of what mask we put on it,
and what name we give it. We may never disassociate ourselves from our
past, because, without it, we have no future to speak of.
Do not perform the practice of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled;
and do not perform the practice of the land of Canaan and do not
follow their traditions. (18:3)
Rashi explains that Klal Yisrael is herein enjoined not to emulate the
customs and practices of the nations, such as attending theaters and
stadiums to watch the gladiators battle one another. We are being taught
here a new perspective on Judaism. There are areas of human endeavor
which, although not Biblically or Rabbinically prohibited, are nonetheless
inappropriate for the Jew. As we will see in the next parsha, which begins
with the words, Kedoshim tiheyu, "You shall be holy," the Jew has a
higher calling: to sanctify himself. It is not enough to perform mitzvos and
distance oneself from sin; one must achieve a level of kedushah, sanctity
and adinus, spiritual refinement.
Veritably, what distinguishes us most from other nations and cultures is
our emunah, faith. While other nations may also have faith-based religion,
our faith is comprised of an inner-feeling of G-dliness. A Jew does not feel
distant from Hashem. Indeed, this dimension of spirituality permeates a
Jew's entire essence. Everything that we do, all of our mundane, physical
acts should be infused with G-dliness. Our culture is spiritual in nature;
our goals and objectives are focused on spirituality. The concept of reward
for a good life is spiritual. Thus, one may observe the Torah, perform acts
of loving-kindness, never sin; yet, if he is not focused on G-dliness, he is
missing the essential component which defines Judaism.
The Torah describes our nation as an am segulah, a treasured People. This
does not define us as racially superior, but as racially unique. It describes
us as a nation that is especially close to Hashem, a relationship that is
qualitatively better than that of the other nations of the world. In other
words, we may not necessarily be better, but our relationship with Hashem
is closer. This is because we accepted the Torah and live by the Torah. We
made the responsible choice to accept additional obligations and
responsibilities on our collective self. This grants us greater and more
personal access to the Almighty.
To maintain this unique closeness one must be infused with G-dliness.
Mitzvah observance and Torah study cannot be extraneous activities. They
must be intrinsic parts of our lives. Therefore, any practice which does not
contain a G-dliness component within it is a practice which distances us
from Hashem. It is just not the "Jewish" thing to do.
The Nesivos Shalom questions the Piaczesner Rebbe, zl, who, upon
reaching the age of forty, said, "What can I now accept upon myself? To
study more Torah? I think that I am doing all that I can. To distance
myself from desire? Baruch Hashem, thank G-d, I am not in any way
subject to the blandishments of the yetzer hora, evil inclination. What am I
missing? I am missing, simply, to be a 'Jew,' I appear as a human being,
similar to a figure on a drawing. What is missing from the picture? The
neshamah, soul, of a Jew! Therefore, I hereby want to 'convert' myself to
become a 'Jew'!"
Powerful words from an individual whose depth of understanding taught
him the profound truth concerning the meaning of Judaism. Even if a
person observes everything that is demanded of him, and he follows along
the path of Torah and Kedushah, it still does not define him as a Jew. He
must devote every aspect of his life - everything that he does - to Hashem.
The Nesivos Shalom concludes that, when we recite the blessing of Shelo
asani goy, "Who has not made me a non-Jew," we should ask ourselves if
this applies to every limb and organ of our bodies. Could it be that a
component of non-G-dliness exists within certain areas of our bodies? Are
we "Jewish" through and through?
Va'ani Tefillah
V'nasati metar artzechem b'ito yoreh u'malkos.
Then I shall provide rain for your land in its proper time, the early and
late rains.
At first glance, one who reads the Shema Yisrael quickly might err, and
think that the purpose of observing the mitzvos is that we will be rewarded
with rains at the proper time. This is, of course, not the meaning of the
pesukim. Horav Shimon Schwab, zl, relates that a member of one of the
secular synagogues said to him that they had removed the second parsha of
Shema from their siddur. He claimed that V'hayah im shemoa, "And when
you will listen to My mitzvos," was applicable when the Jewish People
lived in the Holy Land and was an agricultural society. They needed the
blessing of rain to produce an adequate livelihood Today, we are past this;
our modern society is removed from agriculture. Rav Schwab immediately
replied to the man that apparently he did not understand the flow of the
pesukim. V'hayah im shemoa - "when you will listen to My
commandments"l'ahavah es Hashem Elokecha u'l'avdo b'chol
levavchem, "to love Hashem, your G-d and to serve Him with all your
heart." The purpose of mitzvos is not to catalyze agricultural blessings; it
is to demonstrate our love of Hashem and to serve Him.
When one carries out mitzvos, it has nothing to do with him. He is serving
Hashem out of love - end of story! Nonetheless, Hashem rewards us with
blessings, but the purpose of serving Him has nothing to do with the
receiving of blessings. It is all about our love of Him.
In loving memory of Mrs. Fanny Brunner Feldman by her family
Peninim on the Torah is in its 20th year of publication. The first fifteen years have been published in book form. The Fifteenth volume is available at
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":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 37
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Rabbi Dovid Seigel
Parshas Hagadol - Malachi 3:4
This week's haftorah, read in conjunction with Shabbos Hagadol, depicts
the Jewish scene moments before the advent of Mashiach. Malachi, the
last prophet before our first exile, shares with us the prevalent
conversations during the final moments of our final exile. The masses of
our people will reflect upon the generation's unprecedented affluence and
conclude that Torah observance is a wasted exercise. Their argument will
be, "What material gain has ever come from observing His commandments
or walking the downtrodden path for His sake? We constantly praise the
agnostics and the wicked who met much success and yet, escaped the
wrath of Above." (3:14, 15) The impressive financial success of so many
unaffiliated Jews will suggest an indifference on the side of Hashem,
almost to the extent of condoning their inexcusable behavior.
What will be the response of the righteous? The prophet continues, "Then
the G-d fearing people will speak amongst themselves and Hashem will
hearken, listen and preserve the comments of those who revere Him and
respect His name." (3:16) During those dark moments G-d fearing people
will be scarce. However, those who will endure and persevere, despite the
fierce influences of exile, will remain steadfast in their faith. They will
gather and strengthen one another sharing their true perspectives on life.
They do not seek tangible benefits from life and certainly do not expect a
reward in this finite world (see Malbim to 3:16) Their service is based on
reverence and respect rather than reward or material gain. To them, the
absence of fame or financial success will not present a serious challenge to
their commitment. Instead, they will patiently await the era of redemption
wherein the glory of Hashem will become revealed to all.
Our Chazal in Yalkut Shimoni (591) explain this unwavering faith with the
following parable. The queen was once confronted by a maidservant in the
midst of a dark night. The latter argued that she was more attractive than
the queen herself! The queen responded calmly, "Say all you wish now
because tomorrow in the light of day the truth will be revealed." In the
same vein righteous people, during our dark exile, find themselves at a
serious disadvantage. In the absence of Hashem's clear revelations,
anything can be presented and said. Allusions can easily be construed that
promise eternal bliss for those who walk the unethical and immoral path. It
requires men of great character and commitment to rise above public
opinion and speak the truth. Their response to this senseless talk is, "The
truth is around the corner." "Soon Mashiach will arrive and the clear
revelations of Hashem will tell the real story." Regarding these devout, the
prophet says, "And for you who fear Hash em a gracious and healing sun
will shine upon you." (3:20) Those who firmly awaited the light of
redemption will merit its light, the brilliant radiance of Hashem. The light
of day will finally arrive and those clear perspectives of the righteous will
become self evident truths.
In truth, these very same discussions took place in Egypt and served as an
essential factor in the preservation of our people. The Midrash
Rabba(Shmos 5:18) reveals to us that the Jewish people observed Shabbos
long before they were commanded. In defense of his people, Moshe
Rabbeinu approached Pharaoh and insisted on a day of rest. After being
granted his request, Moshe conveniently dedicated the seventh day of the
week for this purpose. The Midrash adds that the Jewish people effectively
utilized this day to study scrolls of redemption. In the midst of heavy
persecution, the Jews maintained their faith in Hashem. Although no trace
of Hashem could be seen, they remained devoted to Him. They didn't
question Hashem's lack of involvement and were not influenced by the
darkness of their exile. Although their wicked taskmasters enjoyed a
comfortable life this could not seduce the Jewish people into straying from
Hashem. They, too, gathered together and encouraged each other w ith the
truths of Hashem. They understood that daylight would eventually arrive
and, in the radiance of Hashem, the truth would become self evident. In
this merit, they did experience those long awaited results. Eventually,
Hashem did shine His light upon them as it says, "For the Jewish people
there was light in their settlement." (Shmos 10:23) May we merit to
experience this light speedily in our days.
To Support Project Genesis- Haftorah, Copyright &copy 2014 by Rabbi Dovid Siegel and The author is Rosh Kollel of Kollel
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Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
Ohr Somayach Torah Weekly
G-d instructs the kohanim to exercise extreme care when they enter the
Mishkan. On Yom Kippur, the kohen gadol is to approach the holiest part
of the Mishkan after special preparations and wearing special clothing. He
brings offerings unique to Yom Kippur, including two identical goats that
are designated by lottery. One is "for G-d" and is offered in the Temple,
while the other is "for Azazel" in the desert. The Torah states the
individual's obligations on Yom Kippur: On the 10th day of the seventh
month, one must afflict oneself. We abstain from eating and drinking,
anointing, wearing leather footwear, washing, and marital relations.
Consumption of blood is prohibited. The blood of slaughtered birds and
undomesticated beasts must be covered. The people are warned against
engaging in the wicked practices that were common in Egypt. Incest is
defined and prohibited. Marital relations are forbidden during a woman's
monthly cycle. Homosexuality, bestiality and child sacrifice are
The Emperors New Clothes
"After the death of the two sons of Aharon" (16:1)
Sometimes in our great enthusiasm to follow our hearts desire, we can
twist logic into something resembling a pretzel.
The Midrash tells us that Aarons sons Nadav and Avihu died because they
entered the Holy of Holies without dressing in the long robe-like garment
of the Kohen Gadol (high priest).
This Midrash is difficult. Why should Nadav and Avihu have dressed
themselves in this meil? They werent kohanim gedolim. They were
regular kohanim. So why should they have worn the garments of the
Kohen Gadol?
The answer is that if Nadav and Avihu gave themselves permission to
enter the Holy of Holies and offer the ketoret incense which was an
offering exclusive to the Kohen Gadol, perforce they must have seen
themselves as kohanim gedolim. According to their own logic they should
have "dressed for the part." They should have worn the clothes of the
Kohen Gadol.
The fact that they didnt was indeed a valid allegation against them.
But maybe, theres another way to understand why Nadav and Avihu
didnt dress for the part.
There can be no question that Nadav and Avihus actions came from an
overwhelming desire to serve G-d. It was this unbridled love that led them
to make serious and fatal errors. Maybe the fact that they didnt dress in
the clothes of the Kohen Gadol revealed that, in their own heart of hearts,
they themselves knew the nakedness of their claim.
Source: Based on Responsa of the Rosh, 13
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Aish.Com Rabbi Yaakov Singer
Making Passover Personal
The Jewish peoples exile and redemption is a map for spiritual growth.
The number four is important in the Hagaddah. There are four cups of
wine, four questions asked, four sons All of these fours are rooted in
the four different words used to describe how the Jewish people will leave
Egypt: 1. I will take you out 2. I will rescue you 3. I will redeem you and
4. I will take you to Me (Exodus 6:6-7).
Each of these words is necessary. They are four distinct parts of a process
we call redemption. It did not happen overnight. It took time. The
descent into slavery took time, and the journey to freedom took time as
well. In Genesis 15:13, God tells Abraham about the descent: Your
offspring [1] will be aliens in a land not their own, [2] they will serve
them, and [3] they will oppress them There was alienation, servitude,
and affliction. Just like the descent of the Jewish people into Egyptian
slavery was a gradual process, so too their ascent to freedom was a gradual
process. There was the cry of the Jewish people. There was the arrival of
Moshe. There were plagues. There was Pharaohs stubbornness. And there
was Gods Strong Hand and Outstretched Arm that took us out. It was a
process that took time.
What does this have to do with us?
The mitzvah of retelling the story of the outgoing from Egypt is not meant
to be the reading of yesterdays news. Its purpose is to demonstrate to
ourselves that we ourselves are going out from Egypt. That process of
going down and coming back out is personal.
But we dont relate to the exodus from Egypt as personal because we use
such impersonal words to describe it. The Jewish people were in galut,
exile. The Jewish people experienced a geulah, redemption. What do
exile and redemption have to do with us? Those words seem foreign, fit for
a nation, not an individual certainly not you and me.
We can make these terms relatable by bringing them down into our own
Galut/Exile: What does it mean to be in exile? Exile is being trapped by
bad habits. Exile is being a slave to old ways of thinking. Exile is feeling
very far away from the relationships that we care about (Mom, Dad, God,
friends). Mitzraim (Egypt) comes from the word tzar, which means
narrow in Hebrew. Being in exile is feeling limited and restricted, even
when we can walk or drive as far as we want. Thats personal. Thats
something we can all relate to.
Geulah/Redemption: What does it mean to be redeemed? Redemption is
being free from peer pressure. Redemption is working really hard on
something and feeling good about the hard work. Redemption is saying I
love you, Mom, even though its not cool. Redemption is doing the right
thing, even when its not so easy.
38 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
How do we leave the place of restriction and negativity to freedom and
happiness? Lets use the example of the Jewish people as a guide.
When the Jewish people originally went down to Egypt, Josef set aside a
place for them in Goshen. It may have been the Jewish peoples own
space, but it was still an alien land, and they paid a price; the influence of
the Egyptians affected them. After the death of Josef and his brothers, they
began to work for the Egyptians, but over time that turned into oppression
and affliction.
Its similar on a personal level. We innocently wander away from our
home turf, the values of our home, and we find ourselves in a foreign
place. These days you dont even have to leave your house to do it. It
doesnt seem so bad at first. There is right and wrong after all, but little by
little we can pick up some very bad habits, ones that we ourselves dont
even want.
So what did the Jewish people do to get out of Egypt?
While it was God who took them out, the Jewish people got the ball
rolling. The verse says, The Children of Israel groaned because of the
work and they cried out (Exodus 2:23). The groan was a plea for the hard
labor to stop, but the cry was a prayer, a desire to be close to God.
Together they initiated the process of redemption. God heard their
groaning, and God remembered His covenant (Ex. 2:24). Even though the
servitude and affliction had not yet stopped, that cry created hope. It
wasnt until Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore (Ex 14:30)
that the layers of slavery had been peeled away, but the process had begun.
We have to do the same thing. We have to want the better thoughts,
healthier habits, close relationships, and a connection to God. We dont
have to have all the answers, but we have to care enough to cry out, Over
here! Me. I want good things. I want a relationship. Thats our part. Then
miracles can happen.
That desire to not merely run away from problems, but to go forward
toward something positive is the message of the fourth word of redemption
I will take you out. The first three steps in the process of redemption
are leaving Egypt, leaving all the negative stuff we no longer want behind.
The fourth stage is striving toward a healthier, happier life. To be taken
requires that we want God to take us. When we get that clear, there are no
limits to the freedom and happiness we can experience.
How does the Passover Seder help us achieve this?
The amazing opportunity of Seder night is that God tells us that we have a
chance to jump in an unnatural, miraculous way from a state of exile, our
world of limitations, to get a taste of total redemption freedom. (That is
one of the meanings of Passover we have the opportunity to make a
leap in spiritual growth.)
Even more than that, we are given a jump suit the way to experience
that leap. Its called the four cups of wine. As we drink each cup we want
to move through the steps in the process of redemption, shedding the
levels of slavery and opening ourselves to a world of true freedom.
So in order to prepare, ask yourself: what is enslaving you? What values or
habits are preventing you from being who you want to be? Consider how
that creates alienation, enslavement, and affliction in your life. Picture
what life would be like with those blocks removed. Then go to the Seder
with great anticipation. Before each of the first three cups of wine, ask
God to take away the things that are holding you back. Then before the
fourth cup of wine, ask God to take you to a place of freedom and joy.
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Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel
Torah MiTzion
Acharei Mos
In this week's parashah, the Torah describes, in detail, the order of the
Service of the Kohain Gadol (the High Priest) in the Tabernacle and the
Temple on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Since, unfortunately, we
no longer have the Holy Temple, we recite the Service in the repetition of
the Mussaf Prayer on Yom Kippur. After the description, we say,
"Fortunate is the eye that saw all of this; indeed to hear about it makes our
souls grieve." In other words, the recollection of what things were like and
how they were done at the time of the Temple makes us lament its
destruction and yearn for its restoration. And this yearning is what
encourages us to do that which we have to in order to merit the coming of
Moshiach and the renewal of the Beis Hamikdash.
The first time I was privileged to visit the Kosel Hama'aravi (the Western
Wall), I was a guest in the home of the tzaddik, Reb Shalom Shvadron zt"l.
He asked me if I saw the pool which is said to be the mikveh (ritual bath)
where the Kohain Gadol would immerse himself five times throughout the
Yom Kippur Service. Reb Shalom told me that, being a kohain himself,
seeing that sight fills him with tremendous emotion as he thinks to himself
- right here, at this very spot, is where it all happened!
Surely, being at the Holy Wall and its surroundings makes it easier for us
to stimulate our imagination and envisage what went on there. But just
suppose we had a video, two thousand years old, in which we could
actually see the ceremony itself. How exhilarating that would be. It would
certainly cause us to grieve over what is no more and to yearn for its
return. Well, unfortunately we don't. However, the closest to it is an eye-
witness account written by a Roman who lived in the Holy City of
Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple. It is brought in the siddur of
Rabbi Ya'akov Emden, after the Tashlich prayer. He, apparently, found it
in a book called Shevet Yehudah. At the end, Rabbi Emden explains that
he included this description "So that we should know what we lost because
of our sins; to grieve and supplicate; to return to our G-d. May He return
and have mercy upon us; may He gather together our dispersed. And may
He restore the Service to its place, choose for us our estate, and may our
offerings be sweet to Hashem as in days of old; may He accept our
sacrifices, and renew our days as in ancient times, Amen."
The following translation is from the book "The Yom Kippur Avodah," by
Rabbi Menachem Moshe Oppen, published by C.I.S. Publishers.
The second service is the coming of the Kohain Gadol to the Beis
Hamikdash. They did not tell me how he served in the Beis Hamikdash,
but they told me about his going in and of his departing from the Beis
Hamikdash. I saw some of it with my own eyes and was astonished. I then
said "Blessed is the One who shared His Honor with these people."
Seven days before the (special) day called Yom Kippur (which is the most
honorable of all days for the Jewish people), they prepared in the Kohain
Gadol's house seats for the Beis Din, the Kohain Gadol, the deputy to the
Kohain Gadol and the king. Aside from these, seventy chairs were
prepared for the seventy members of Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court).
An old sage of the Kohanim would stand up and say to the Kohain Gadol
words of admonishment. He said: "Be aware before Whom you are
entering. Consider that if you don't perform as intended, you will fall and
die. Consequently, the forgiveness of all of Israel will be lost. Behold, the
entire nation of Israel is turned towards you. Scrutinize your ways lest you
have even a small sin, for sometimes one sin can outweigh many
Mitzvahs. The balance is known only to Hashem, the G-d of all thoughts.
Also, inquire of the Kohanim, your brothers, and purify them. Pay heed
that you are coming before the King of Kings who sits on a throne of
judgment and seeks out with His eyes all evil. How can you come if the
enemy is with you?"
The Kohain Gadol then answered that he had already scrutinized himself
and repented from anything which seemed a sin. The sage also gathered
his brothers the Kohanim in the Azarah (courtyard) of the Beis Hamikdash
and made them swear in the Name of the One Who dwells in the Beis
Hamikdash that everyone should report whatever wrong he sees in his
friend or whatever fault he himself has. The sage would assign to each of
them the method to achieve proper atonement.
The king encouraged the Kohain Gadol and assured him of honor upon his
peaceful departure from this holy place.
After this, they would announce in which direction the Kohain Gadol
would go to his special room in the Beis Hamikdash. Then all the people
would go out to accompany him. They walked in a certain order. This is
the order in which I saw them walk before him:
First went the descendents from the Kings of Israel, because those closer
to the Kohain- in the procession are more important.
After them went members of the royal family of Dovid, all in a proper
order, one after the other. A crier went before them and proclaimed: "Give
honor to the royalty of the House of Dovid."
After them came the House of Levi and the crier proclaimed: "Give honor
to the House of Levi." They numbered thirty-six thousand. Their deputies
wore blue silk clothing. The Kohanim wore white silk. These numbered
twenty-four thousand.
Then came those Levi'im who sang in the Beis Hamikdash, followed by
musicians, trumpet blowers, the keepers of the gates, the makers of the
perfumes for the incense, the makers of the paroches, guards, officers and
a group called Cratophilus.
They were followed by anyone who worked in the Beis Hamikdash, the
Sanhedrin of seventy and one hundred police who held silver rods in order
to make a path.
After them walked the Kohain Gadol.
He was followed by the elders of the Kehunah who walked in pairs.
At the entrance to each street the Roshei Yeshivah (heads of Talmudic
academies) rose saying: "Sir, Kohain Gadol, may you come in peace. Pray
to our Creator that He should sustain us in order that we should be able to
learn Torah."
When the procession reached the gate of the Har Habayis (the Temple
Mount), they first prayed that the Kingdom of Dovid should continue and
then they prayed for the welfare of the Kohanim and for the Beis
Hamikdash. The sound of the multitudes was so powerful, that when they
answered "Amen," flying birds fell to the ground. Then the Kohain Gadol
bowed towards the people and turned away in tears and awe. Two deputies
of the Kehunah walked him to his room where he was separated from all
his brothers, the Kohanim.
This took place when he entered. However, when he left, the honor he
received was double as much, for all the people in Yerushalayim passed
before him. Most of them had torches of flaming white wax. All wore
white clothes. All the windows were decorated with embroidery and full of
The Kohanim told me that many years the Kohain Gadol couldn't reach his
house before midnight because of the great numbers of people who came
and the great congestion. Even though the people were all fasting, they
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 39
would not go to their houses till they tried to reach and kiss the hand of the
Kohain Gadol.
The following day, the Kohain Gadol hosted a great feast. He invited his
friends and relatives and made a day of festivity to celebrate his safe
emergence from the Kodesh Hakodoshim (the Holy of Holies, the
innermost chamber of the Temple). Afterwards, he would have a craftsman
make a golden tablet and engrave it to read: "I, So-and-So, the Kohain
Gadol, the son of So-and-So, the Kohain Gadol, served as Kohain in the
Great and Holy House, for the service of He Who caused His name to rest
there, in Such-and-Such a year after creation. May the One who granted
me the merit of this service also grant the merit to my children after me to
stand in the service of Hashem."
Shema Yisrael Torah Network Jerusalem, Israel 732-370-3344

Rabbi Doniel Staum
Stam Torah
Parshas Achrei Mos/ Shabbos Hagadol/Pesach 5774
A Matter Of Perspective
Dear Rabbi,
So it's Pesach again. Another Seder night where we meet up with distant
relatives we almost forgot about, to tell a story that we aren't allowed to
forget about. Is it really necessary more than 3000 years on to still
commemorate our ancestors' freedom from slavery in Egypt? Can't we
move on to more pressing and contemporary issues?
My friend, you are reading the wrong Haggada. The Seder is not just a
memorial to events of the distant past - it is a dynamic process of freedom
from the challenges of the present.
We are slaves. Slaves to our own inhibitions, fears, habits, cynicism and
prejudices. These self-appointed pharaohs are layers of ego that prevent
us from expressing our true inner self, from reaching our spiritual
potential. Our souls are incarcerated in selfishness, laziness and
Pesach means "Passover." It is the season of liberation, when we pass
over all these obstacles to inner freedom. On Pesach, we give our souls a
chance to be expressed.
Reread the Haggada. Every time it says "Egypt" read "limitations."
Replace the word "Pharaoh" with "Ego." And read it in the present tense:
"We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt" =
"We are slaves to our egos, stuck in our limitations."
How do we free ourselves? By eating Matza. After eating Matza, the
Israelites were able to run out of Egypt and follow G-d into the desert.
Because Matza represents the suspension of ego. Unlike bread, which has
body and taste, Matza is flat and tasteless - the bread of surrender.
Usually, we are scared to suspend our egos, because we think that we will
lose ourselves. On Pesach we eat the Matza, we suspend our egos and find
ourselves - our true selves.
This night is different from all other nights, because on this night we let
ourselves go, we liberate our souls to follow G-d unashamed. We say, "I
may not understand what this means, but I have a Jewish soul, and
somehow that is the deepest layer of my identity."
That soul is the innocent child within us is waiting to be free. This Pesach,
let's allow that child to sing:
Ma Nishtana Halayla Hazeh...
Rabbi Aron Moss (Sydney, Australia)
Rabbi Moshe Wolfson shlita, the Mashgiach of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas in
Brooklyn NY, explains that whenever a portion from the Torah that
discusses any of the holidays is read, a certain level of the unique spiritual
of blessing endemic to the holiday mentioned becomes available.
During the prayers of each holiday we pray, '
Load us up, Hashem, our G-d, with the blessings of Your
holiday. Each holiday brings with it unique spiritual blessing and specific
components of Divine Service that one can achieve. When a weekly
Shabbos Torah reading includes a discussion about a holiday, a taste of
that holidays blessing is spiritually palpable.(1)
This year parshas Achrei Mos is read on Shabbas Hagadol. The first
section of the parsha includes a detailed discussion about the special
service performed by the High Priest on Yom Kippur. Therefore,
incorporated into this Shabbos is a taste of the holiness of Yom Kippur.
In a sense, this year the great holiday of Pesach is preceded by the spiritual
sanctity of Yom Kippur.
An important component of the service performed by the High Priest on
Yom Kippur included the offering of the goat that was sent as the Azazel.
The verse states(2), - And from
the congregation of the Bnai Yisroel you shall take two male goats as a
sin offering. The Mishna(3) states that the two goats had to be identical in
color, height and value, and had to be purchased simultaneously.
On Yom Kippur the two goats were brought before the High Priest. As the
identical goats stood side by side, the High Priest drew lots. From that
moment onward, their paths diverged drastically. One was designated
laHashem, as a sin-offering on the Altar, while the other was sent
laAzazel, to be cast off a steep cliff in the wilderness of the desert.
While the goat being sent to the wilderness stood in the sanctuary, the
other goat was slaughtered and its blood collected in a vessel. The vessel
was transported into the inner sanctuary (the Holy of Holies) where the
blood was sprinkled between the poles of the Holy Ark, on the
paroches(4), and on the Golden Altar. The remainder of the goat was burnt
outside of the camp.
Soon after, a designated individual led the other goat out of the Temple
and into the desert. They walked for a distance, stopping at pre-arranged
rest stops along the way. When they finally arrived at the top of the Azazel
cliff, the goat was turned around to face the other direction. Then, with a
swift and heavy push, the goat was thrust off the cliff. The Mishna notes
that by the time the goat was half way down the mountain it was nothing
more than a mess of rolling limbs, blood, and guts.
Although the meaning and depth behind the Azazel offering are beyond
the scope of this essay, suffice it to say that the Rambam (Maimonides)
explains the Azazel as a bribery given to the Evil Inclination in exchange
for forgiveness and atonement.(5)
Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch ztl makes a poignant observation: If we
could probe into the mind of the goat designated as the Azazel we would
notice his joy at thinking that he had gotten the better end of the deal. As
he stands in the sanctuary waiting to be taken for a stroll in the desert, he
observes the ritual slaughter of his peer followed by the catching and
sprinkling of his blood. With a haughty smugness he thinks to himself,
Look at the difference between us! He may have been offered on the
Holy Altar as a sacrifice before G-d, but he is dead. I, on the other hand,
am alive and well.
As they began their trek through the desert, the goats joy mounted as he
departed from among the masses of people in the noisy Temple. At each
juncture of their trek they stopped and rested before continuing.
When they finally reached the summit of the cliff, the goat truly felt
majestic. He could see Jerusalem in the distance and the vast desert
surrounding him. As he was turned to face the other direction he continued
to rejoice. But a moment later, the goat was tumbling down the mountain
in a hundred pieces, dying in a most vile manner.
If somehow we could ask the Azazel-goat afterwards who had gotten the
better end of the deal, he would unquestionably point to his friend. All
along it seemed that his friend suffered a horrible fate, but at the end of the
day his friend had died for the most worthy cause, serving as atonement
for the entire Jewish Nation. The Azazel however, had died a hideous
death for the sake of pacification of the evil forces of the world.
On Yom Kippur the lesson of the goats is particularly important. Every
individual begins life with certain similarities. But then we each have
decisions to make and paths to choose. Often one path seems wrought with
sacrifice and pain - the other blissful and serene.
We're often plagued with questions: Why give up pleasures? Why restrain
ourselves? Why not get all that we can out of life?
But any intellectually thinking person understands that it's the struggles
and sacrifices of life which reveal and build inner strength. The easy path
is never the fulfilling one. That which seems so tempting and easy is often
catastrophic. The path of least resistance does not lead to the inner
sanctum of internal fulfillment and holiness.
On Yom Kippur one looks beyond, through the illusions which
characterize this world. It is a day when we pay heed to the underlying
truths and reflect upon the path we have chosen to follow.
The Azazel-goat was the greatest victim of his own illusions. But there are
many people who live their lives in the same manner, with false illusions
and mistaken ideologies. They look at those poor souls who live a life of
Torah and mitzvos with the rigid demands and the yoke that it places on its
King David stated(6): Taste and see that G-d is good. To those who
counter that living a life of Torah seems to be a miserable and deprived
experience we have one answer, Try it! Live a Torah lifestyle for some
time and you will see that it is indeed a sublime and meaningful
experience. Witness the true joy that those who sincerely and properly live
a Torah lifestyle feel. Then see if its bitter and painful or internally
rewarding and fulfilling.
The holiday of Pesach is dubbed the holiday of our freedom, .
To an outsider this may seem to be a ridiculous title for this particular
holiday. The weeks prior to Pesach are an extremely busy time for Torah
Jews. Countless hours are spent cleaning ones home. The kitchen must be
koshered and all chometz food must be consumed or prepared to be sold to
a non-Jew for the duration of the holiday.
When we finally sit down to the regal and majestic Seder there are myriad
laws and a rigid order that must be punctiliously followed. One must be
scrupulous to consume the proper amounts of matzoh, marror, and wine.
There is a mitzvah to recount the haggadah in as much detail as possible,
yet one must be conscientious of the time in order to consume the
afikomen before midnight.(7)
With all of these vast responsibilities, deadlines, and laws that must be
meticulously followed one can surely wonder why this holiday is called
the holiday of our freedom?
The answer to this question is dependent on how one defines freedom.
Irving Bunim, in his commentary on Pirkei Avos, quotes the Indian poet
Rabindranath Tagores analogy for human freedom: I have on my table a
violin string. It is free But it is not free to do what a violin string is
supposed to do to produce music. So I take it, fix it in my violin, and
tighten it until it is taut. Only then is it free to be a violin string.
40 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
Commenting on that passage, Irving Bunim writes: An uncommitted life,
free of any higher goals and responsibilities, brings a bondage worse than
If one conceptualizes freedom as anarchy, lawlessness, and the ability to
do whatever one chooses, then indeed the holiday of Pesach is not a
holiday of freedom at all. But if freedom refers to the ability to connect
with ones essence and true self, the ability to transcend ones ego and its
limitations, then Pesach is truly the holiday of freedom. That notion of
freedom can only be achieved through discipline and obedience. It requires
certain measure of forfeiture of the pleasures and indulgences of the
physical world. It takes a tremendous amount of work and effort to
overcome ones physical drives which steer him away from his true
essence and from becoming who he has the potential to become.
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski relates(8) that a recovered drug attic once
quipped to his father during the Seder: How can you say that you were a
slave? You dont know what it means to be a slave, but I do. When I was
addicted to drugs, I lost every remnant of freedom. Drugs were my master,
and I did everything I had to do for them.
Dr. Twersky continues, Narcotics are not the only master to which a
person may fall subject. Anyone who cannot control his actions has
become enslaved. Many people who smoke cigarettes know that they are
lethal and would like to stop smoking but are unable to do so, and they
have become slaves to cigarettes. A person who cannot stop drinking has
become a slave to alcohol. A person who cannot control his anger has
become a slave to his rage. Someone who cannot control his eating is
likewise enslaved, as is someone whose indolence makes it impossible to
act swiftly and properlyWhen a person pursues tranquility and pleasure
as a primary goal, he may become enslaved by these, and may not be able
to free himself to do the things he knows he should do.
A human being should pride himself on being free. Slavery is abhorrent
even when it is not cruel, because it deprives a person of being free and
making his choices in life.
An outsider may view the Pesach holiday and the weeks before it as a time
of slavery. In fact, this is the complaint of the wicked son when he asks,
- What is the work for you? The wicked son cannot
fathom that one would celebrate a holiday of freedom by expending so
much effort and adhering to so many laws.
Our response to the wicked son is that he would never have been
redeemed. Perhaps he may have somehow merited physical redemption
and would have been able to leave the confines of Egypt and escape
physical servitude. However, with his attitude, he would never have
achieved the level of internal freedom that the Jewish People achieved at
the time of the exodus. The wicked son is doomed to forever remaining a
slave to his whims, desires, premonitions, and nature.
This is similar to the statement that is mentioned prior in the haggadah,
Had G-d not taken us out of Egypt, then we, and our children, and our
childrens children, would still be slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. Although
perhaps at some point in the future the Jews would have been able to
escape physical servitude, they would have been lost in the oblivion of
psychological and mental exile. They could never have developed into the
Chosen People who possess the ability to become internally free.
Perhaps, when we state that we blunt the teeth of the wicked son it is to
symbolize that we seek to remove his teeth which help him consume food.
In order to achieve true freedom a certain measure of sacrifice and
withdrawal is necessary. We blunt his teeth to restrain his involvement
with food and overindulgence in the pleasures of this world. Only then do
we have a hope of guiding the wicked son toward repentance and the
attainment of true freedom.
The Shabbos prior to Pesach is called Shabbos Hagadol- the great
Shabbos.(9) The Shabbos prior to Pesach is the anniversary of the Jewish
Peoples first real demonstration of their unyielding will to be the Servants
and People of G-d. Overcoming ones nature transforms a person into a
person of - greatness. When the Jews bravely demonstrated their
sole obedience to G-d, the real process of liberation began.
Two goats stand side-by-side on Yom Kippur. The Azazel scoffs at his
peer and mockingly laughs at the sacrifice he made.
Two sons sit together at the seder. The wicked son scoffs at his wise
brother and derides his efforts at attaining freedom.
But he who laughs last, laughs best!
You shall take two goats as a sin offering.
An uncommitted life a bondage worse than slavery.
There are two other correlations between Yom Kippur and the Pesach
Seder. Firstly, they are the only two times during the year when the
custom is for married men to don a kittel. Secondly, it is the only two
times that the mantra of the Jewish people in exile- -
Next year in Jerusalem is officially stated as part of the liturgy of
prayers. (On Yom Kippur we recite the refrain after concluding the entire
service of the day; on Pesach we recite it at the conclusion of the seder.)
It seems that it is particularly at these two junctures that the pain of the
exile becomes overbearing. At the conclusion of the inspiring Yom Kippur
service when we have spent the day immersed in prayer and imploring G-d
for forgiveness, we leave with an invigorated feeling. Yet, it is then that
we recognize the void of not having a Temple where the glorious and
unique Yom Kippur service could be performed by the High priest. As we
say in the Mussaf service of Yom Kippur in which we when we recount
the service of the High Priest, Ashrei Ayin Raasah Kol Eileh, HaLo
LMishma Ozen Daavah Nafsheinu- happy is the eye that saw all these
things; to hear of them pains our soul.
At the conclusion of the Pesach seder too, when we have joyfully fulfilled
all the special mitzvos and obligations of the night, we realize that our
seder was remiss because we were not able to offer and partake of the
Korbon Pesach. Despite all that we have accomplished during this exalted
evening, we were unable to fulfill one of the central mitzvos of the
May we merit - this year - the fulfillment of our prayer that the Temple be
rebuilt so that next year we will indeed partake in the special Pesach
sacrifices at our sedarim.
" - Next year in Jerusalem
1. Heard from Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman shlita, the Mashgiach of
Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim, Queens, NY.
2. 16:5
3. Yoma 6:1
4. the curtain separating between the Holy (outer sanctuary) and the
Holy of Holies (inner sanctuary)
5. See Ramban who vociferously challenges the Rambams explanation.
6. Tehillim 34:9
7. Vilna Gaon is purported to have said that he counted 64 mitzvos that are
fulfilled during the Seder.
8. In his book, Lights Along the Way
9. See Tur at the beginning of his discussion of the laws of Pesach (Siman
10. Truthfully, at the conclusion of the Succos holiday we recite a special
prayer requesting that next year we merit sitting in the great Succah of the
leviathan. At that point we also recite the nostalgic refrain. However, that
prayer is clearly one of hope for the advent of Moshiach.
Rabbis Musings (& Amusings)
Erev Zman Chairusainu 5774
14 Nissan 5774/April 14, 2014
A number of years ago I was in a car with a friend who was listening to a
sports talk show on the radio. They were discussing a popular power hitter
on the New York Yankees who was in a miserable slump. The host of the
show suggested that the player thought too much. When he steps up to the
plate hes busy trying to strategize what the pitcher is going to throw to
him. So lets say he concludes that the pitcher will probably throw him a
sinker. Then when he throws him a curveball hes totally off guard. So
then he readies himself for a curveball, and then when the pitcher hurls a
slider he swings and misses. When he is convinced hes ready for any type
of off-speed pitch, the pitcher hurls it down the middle, and he goes down
looking like an amateur.
The co-host added that the slumping star needed to be more like a different
player (whom he named), who was a great hitter, and not known to be
intellectual. Yeah, he probably steps up to bat and thinks, I like ice
cream. Then, a second later BOOM! He whacks the ball into the seats!
A wise friend asked me recently what my goal is vis--vis my children on
Seder night. What is it that you want them to walk away with? Its a
good question.
One morning a chossid was reciting Shema fervently in proximity of the
Kotzker Rebbe. Kotzk is legendary for their abhorrence of externalities
and the chossid made the mistake of demonstrating his intense fervor.
After davening concluded the Rebbe summoned the chossid and asked him
what he was concentrating on as he said the Shema. The chossid proudly
explained all of the deep thoughts he was pondering as he said Shema
the oneness of G-d, the omnipotence of G-d, how G-d rules over all four
corners of the earth, is above the seven heavens, etc. The Rebbe listened
patiently to the chossids discourse. When he concluded, the Rebbe replied
that he seems to have forgotten one thing. The chossid was stunned; what
could he have forgotten? The Rebbe poignantly replied, That there is a G-
Sometimes we become so involved and consumed by the deep and
mystical that we forget and overlook the simple integral truths. There is an
endless amount of explanations, ideas, discourses, and halachic debates
which one can study and ponder regarding every passage and law of the
Seder. But when all is said and done, the most important idea that we must
convey to our children and inculcate within ourselves is the most simple of
all: That there is a G-d. It was He who redeemed us from Egypt, He who
chose us as a nation, He who punished the evil Egyptians, he who brought
us to Sinai and gave us the Torah, and it is He who runs every facet of our
lives and every thing that transpires in the universe. He loves us and awaits
our success, and has much more faith in us than we do.
We shouldnt become so involved in trying to hit pilpulistic, Talmudic,
and homiletical homeruns that we become distracted from remembering
the most basic truth of all. Everything else is just icing on the cake, or in
(non-gebrokst) Pesach lingo butter on the matzah.
Chag Sameiach & Good Yom Tov,
R Dani and Chani Staum
720 Union Road New Hempstead, NY 10977 (845) 362-2425
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 41
Rabbi Berel Wein
The glorious holiday of Pesach is upon us once more. With all of its rituals
and wonder, Pesach marks the uniqueness of the Jewish people a people
delivered from centuries of bondage through miraculous Heavenly
intervention. So, one of the main functions of Pesach is to connect us to an
event that occurred millennia ago in a distant land.
The natural inclination of people is to feel disconnected to that event. This
is implicit in the questions raised in the section of the Hagadah devoted to
the four sons. Their basic question is: What is the relevance of this long-
ago event to me? And this has remained the basic question in all of
Jewish life throughout the ages.
The enormous number of Jews who are completely disconnected from
their faith and their people, from their homeland of Israel and from the
values and observances of Torah, testifies to the intensity of doubt and
difficulty posed by this question. If the Exodus from Egypt does not speak
to me, then the rest of Judaism is pretty immaterial to me as well.
And that is basically the statement and question of the evil son in the
Hagadah. In effect he is saying that the whole rite of Pesach as well as all
of the other rituals of Judaism are meaningless because he has no
connection to the Exodus from Egypt or to Jewish history generally. It is
this disconnect that creates rampant assimilation and a constantly
diminishing connection to the past and destiny of the Jewish people.
The answer of the Hagadah to the seemingly irrelevance of the Exodus
from Egypt to our current world, three thousand, three-hundred, twenty-six
years later, is difficult for us to understand. We tell that evil son that had
he lived at the time of the Exodus from Egypt he would not have been
redeemed and would have died in Egyptian captivity.
Midrash teaches us that a majority of the Jews in Egypt did not survive,
spiritually or physically, to participate in the Exodus. The clear message
here is that Exodus denial means spiritual annihilation as far as the
individual Jew is concerned. In order to be able to achieve freedom inner
and lasting freedom as a Jew, one must first feel connected to the Jewish
people and to its past and committed to its future.
Ritual is one of the proven methods to achieve such a connection. Every
bite of matzo brings me closer to my people and to its eternal mission in
world civilization. One of my grandsons when he was a little boy said to
me at the Seder: Zaidy, tell everyone to be quiet I want to hear what the
matzo is saying to me. In his wise, childlike way he encompassed the
message of Pesach to all of us.
We have to listen to what the matzo is saying to us. By so doing, we
connect ourselves to the Exodus from Egypt and thereby to all of Jewish
history and Judaism itself. Without listening to the matzo, we will be
disconnected from our past and all of Judaism will appear to be irrelevant
to us.
Pesach teaches us many basic lessons about life generally and Jewish life
particularly. It teaches us that we are a unique people and therefore have to
behave in a unique fashion. It teaches us that the past has to always live in
our present and that memory is the key to wisdom and survival. It teaches
us never to despair and to always hope and trust for better times and
salvation. It teaches us of the power of an individual even one individual
alone, such as our teacher Moshe - to affect and alter all of human history.
It points out to us the inherent danger of Jews not feeling Jewish and
distancing themselves from their people and their own individual destiny.
It proclaims for us God's rule over nations and the omnipresence of His
Divine hand, so to speak, in human affairs. Many times this guidance is an
unseen force but there are times in history, such as the Exodus from Egypt
and perhaps even in our time in the miraculous resilience of the Jewish
people after the terrible events of the past century, when God's direction of
events is more visible to us.
Pesach and its matzo have a great deal to say to us if we are prepared to
listen and understand the message. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov was reputed
to have said: Every step that I take brings me closer to Jerusalem. We
can also say that every bite of matzo that we take brings us closer to the
experience of the Exodus from Egypt and to the great redemption of Israel
that yet awaits us.
Shabbat shalom, A happy and kosher Pesach to you and yours
Berel Wein
U.S. Office 386 Route 59 Monsey, NY 10952 845-368-1425 | 800-499-WEIN (9346) Fax: 845-368-1528 Questions? Israel
Office P.O. Box 23671 Jerusalem, Israel 91236 052-833-9560 Fax: 02-586-8536 Questions? 2009 The
Destiny Foundation

Rabbi Berel Wein
Weekly Parsha
Achrei Mos
The three main vices that tempt leadership are misuse of power, greed and
sexual licentiousness. We here in Israel are unfortunately well aware of all
of these vices. We know how they have affected our political leaders and
even important national decisions. The Torah, here in our weekly parsha
reading, addresses both directly and indirectly these dangers and vices.
The two sons of Aaron that died during the dedication of the
Tabernacle/Mishkan exploit their priestly power. They were convinced
that they had the right to substitute their own form of worship and service
for the instructions that they were given by God through Moshe. The
Talmud also ascribes to them impatience and unacceptable ambition.
They looked at their father and uncle and thought: When will these two
old men pass from the scene so that you and I can become the leaders of
the generation. The corruption of power affects even the closest family
bonds and relationships. The Torah sees itself as the final arbiter of power,
clearly limiting and defining in detail the roles and actions of the priests
and kings of Israel.
The prophets of Israel, as well as its religious leaders throughout the
generations, always served as a brake against runaway power. The moral
law was meant to accomplish what the legal law alone would be unable to
achieve. The value system of the Torah, with its stress on humility,
obedience to the law and the realization that the Lord takes all of our
actions into consideration and judgment, is meant to temper and channel
ambition and power into the constructive national good.
We are warned against the vice of greed. The Talmud states the case very
succinctly: He who has one hundred, wishes to have two hundred. Such
is human nature. The Torah warns us many times against the corruption
that the pursuit of wealth can bring to leadership. It blinds otherwise great
leaders and distorts and skews the thoughts and words of even holy people.
Even a cursory review of the books of the prophets of Israel reveals
constant emphasis on rooting out corruption and graft from the highest
levels of government. Of course, this innate quality of greed, which exists
amongst us all, when it is combined with the above described vice of
overreaching power, becomes lethal to all concerned. It is greed that blinds
our vision to the consequences of our behavior. Greed forces us to
somehow believe that enough is never enough.
This week's parsha clearly details for us the forbidden sexual relationships
enjoined by Torah law. This section of the parsha constitutes the Torah
reading for the afternoon services of Yom Kippur. A holy people cannot
be a society that condones all types of sexual activity and promiscuity.
This type of behavior has become the scourge of our society. Untold
tragedies and family dysfunction have resulted because of this very
dubious type of freedom that is now such an entrenched part of Western
The Torah again points the way towards normal, productive and healthy
living. All of the lessons and messages of this week's Torah reading should
be the constitutional basis for current Jewish life and our continuing
national renaissance. Shabbat shalom, Rabbi Berel Wein
U.S. Office 386 Route 59 Monsey, NY 10952 845-368-1425 | 800-499-WEIN (9346) Fax: 845-368-1528 Questions? Israel
Office P.O. Box 23671 Jerusalem, Israel 91236 052-833-9560 Fax: 02-586-8536 Questions? 2009 The
Destiny Foundation

Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb-OU
Person in the Parsha
Parshat Acharei Mot (Shabbat HaGadol)
The Great, But Not Yet Holy, Sabbath
There are many steps that we ascend on our journey towards the holiday of
Passover. It is as if it is impossible to just plunge into the holiday without
proper preparation. These steps include the many special Sabbaths that precede
the holiday. They include the Parshiyot of Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, and
HaChodesh, and they culminate this week with Shabbat HaGadol, the Great
Sabbath, the final Sabbath before Passover.
I fondly remember the wise old rabbi whose little shul I frequented before I
became a shul rabbi myself, back in Baltimore. His name was Rav Yitzchok
Sternhell, may he rest in peace. He had many astute observations, only a few of
which I recall.
In one of these insights, he pointed out that when one has a question about
some aspect of Torah study and finds a single answer, then, essentially, there is
no longer a question. It is answered, plainly and simply, once and for all.
But when one has a question and there are many answers, then the question
remains as strong as when it was posed. There is no need for many answers
when there is one correct answer. The multitude of answers indicates that not
one of them was sufficient enough to completely resolve the question posed.
One question that has received many answers over the centuries is, Why is
this Sabbath called the Great Sabbath, Shabbat HaGadol? One answer points
to the closing phrase of this weeks selection from the Prophets, the Haftarah,
which reads:
Behold, I will send you
Elijah the Prophet
Before the coming
Of the great and awesome day of the Lord. (Malachi 3:24)
Since we read of the the great day, we call it the Great Sabbath.
Another approach emphasizes that on the Sabbath preceding the Exodus, the
Jews were finally able to prepare lambs and goats for the paschal offering.
They did so in the face of their Egyptian slave masters, for whom those animals
were considered divine. To be able to fearlessly defy their former slave masters
was a great miracle. Hence the term the Great Sabbath.
The list of answers goes on, and space does not allow even a small sample of
the others. But I would like to share with you, dear reader, a very creative
approach to the term the Great Sabbath. This approach is creative because,
contrary to all the other interpretations with which I am familiar, this approach
sees this weeks Sabbath not as greater than all the others of the year, but as
The creative commentator to whom I refer is the Chassidic Rebbe, Rabbi Shaul
of Modzitz, may he rest in peace. He was known for his prodigious repertoire
of musical compositions. The musical creativity of Rabbi Shaul was expressed
42 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
in his ability to surprise the ear of the listener. His homiletic creativity also
contains the element of surprise, of divergent thinking. Using this same
divergent thinking, he held a very unique and thought-provoking approach to
the Passover Haggadah.
Most of the reasons that are given for the fact that this weeks Sabbath is called
the Great Sabbath insist upon the superiority of this particular Sabbath over all
the others of the year. Rabbi Shaul diverges from all these other explanations
and provocatively suggests that this weeks Sabbath is inferior to all the others.
Therein he asks the question, Why do we praise this Sabbath as great? Is
every Sabbath not great? In the special blessing that we incorporate in the
Grace After Meals, the Birkat HaMazon, every Sabbath, we refer to this great
and holy Sabbath this day which is great and holy before Thee
His surprising answer is that every Sabbath of the year is both great and holy,
but this final Sabbath before Passover is, in a certain sense, merely great and
not holy.
For every Sabbath, argues Rabbi Shaul, has two components. We might refer
to them as the physical component and the spiritual component. The former is
built in to the cosmos and can be traced back to the verses in Genesis 2:3.
There, God blesses and hallows the Sabbath as part of the process of creation.
That is the Sabbath of the physical rest and gives recognition to Gods creative
powers and omnipotence. It is holy, but only potentially so.
The second aspect of the Sabbath is a spiritual one; zecher lyetziat
Mizrayim, a memorial day celebrating the Exodus from Egypt. This has to do
with the experience of freedom, of becoming a nation, of undertaking an
historical mission.
On this last Sabbath before Passover, the Exodus had not yet taken place. And
so, the Sabbath was merely gadol, great. On that Sabbath, the Jew could
only celebrate his freedom from utter bondage and his ability to defy his former
slave master. That was great, but not yet holy. He did not yet have a sense
of spiritual freedom and religious destiny.
Only after the first day of Passover, with the actual departure from Egypt, and
the march into the desert and towards Mount Sinai, could the Jews begin to
sense that something holy was in store for them. Only then could they begin
to anticipate not just great freedom, but holy freedom, in order to sense
that something spiritual and holy was in store.
After that first Passover day, and with every ensuing Sabbath since, the Jewish
people experienced not just a great Sabbath, but a great and holy Sabbath.
Sabbath prior to Passover is great, but not yet fully holy. After Passover,
every Sabbath is transformed and is not only great, but great and holy.
Passover and all that it symbolizes adds a new dimension to every Sabbath that
follows it.
This week, then, we remember a Sabbath long ago that was the last of the
merely great Sabbaths: A Sabbath only of respite from slavish toil, of relief
from physical slavery. Next week, after we tell the full narrative of the Exodus
and experience all of the Seder nights rich symbolism and profound lessons,
we will be able to celebrate a complete Sabbath, a Sabbath of spiritual freedom
and full religious significance. Not just Shabbat HaGadol, but Shabbat
HaGadol VeHaKadosh.
Rabbi Pinchas Winston
Parshas Acharei Mos and Pesach: The Passover Order
Like the practice of the land of Egypt, in which you dwelled, you shall not do
. . . (Vayikra 18:3)
It is a very sensitive topic to be sure, and therefore one that I have avoided over
the years. There are a couple of issues of which to be careful, such as writing
within the boundaries of what the Torah calls modest, and being careful of
peoples sensitivities.
In this weeks parshah the Torah addresses the issue of forbidden relationships,
which is the section we read on Yom Kippur at Minchah. Of all the
prohibitions to have to deal with, forbidden relationships have to be one the
most difficult, evident by how rampant they are in society, and have been
throughout history. Even the Talmud states:
Rav Yehudah said in Ravs name: The Jewish people knew that the idols were
nonentities, but they engaged in idolatry only that they might openly permit
forbidden relationships. (Sanhedrin 63b)
To appreciate just how common such an approach to life is, just ask yourself,
What would society be like if the Torah hadnt provided us with a list of
forbidden relationships and the punishments for committing them? It is very
doubtful that man, on his own, would know which relationships to pursue and
which ones to shun. Hes already acting as if he doesnt know in spite of the
Torahs listing.
In fact, as society pushes the envelope of what constitutes a good and healthy
relationship, the question has arisen: How much about what we think about
forbidden relationships is nature and how much is nurture, that is, Torah-
induced? If it is the former, then there is what to guard against even if one does
not hold of Torah from God. But if the latter, the argument goes, and forbidden
relationships exist because of Torah, well, then, if one does not want to hold of
Torah from Sinai, then it becomes open season for any relationship one
Hence, as the world has become more agnostic and atheistic it also becomes
more permissive in the area of relationships to the point that what was once
wrong is now right. And if the forbidden relationship is not outright
okay, then it is at least something for which one need not feel any shame for
having. While some (many do not) may still feel a need to be discreet when
engaging in such relationships, they feel no reason to be ashamed as well.
Its a problem, just it was it was for the people of the Flood in Noachs time.
They had a blast engaging in the same kind of forbidden relationships people
have today and got blasted for it. Ask the people of Sdom who were so certain
about their position on forbidden relationships that they actually legalized
them. They and their land were obliterated in a horrible way.
What is it about the arayos (forbidden relationships) that makes God so angry,
angry enough to destroy His creation? Since God is not human He is
unaffected by human relationships. Whatever He says and does is for our own
good, for the Creation He built for us, to allow us to maintain it and use it to
fulfill our own potential to be Godly.
Its like building a house and letting termites infest it. On one hand they are so
small and quiet that you may not even know they are there. On the other hand,
they are eating up the very structure that is holding up the house, and therefore,
endangering its long term existence. Left alone long enough to do their own
thing the house will eventually collapse and take down all of its contents with
The same is true of the world. It was built according to certain principles, and
those principles act like the internal structure for the building. If they go, so
does the world they support, and this is what the Torah conveys to us when
listing the forbidden relationships and their punishments. It is telling us that
when we tamper with the order of relationships, we tamper with the very
structure of all of existence.
So says a Torah-believing Jew, the argument goes. For the rest of us, they
say, who do not believe in God, or at least Torah from Sinai, the Torah
approach is politically incorrect. These people honestly see no risk in
deviating from the Torahs approach to relationships and are energized to do
engage in them, and, apparently, even punish those who get in their way.
Of course they make no connection between the events of history, potential
disasters, and their opinions and actions. They never do. They never can. How
can they if they dont believe that history is a function of Hashgochah Pratis
Divine Providence? As one website published regarding the many disasters that
have occurred to America over a decade after making decisions to give Jewish
land to the Arabs:
The historical accounts in this eRumor are, for the most part, accurate. What is
left is the question of what do they mean? Believers in the emails message say
it means that if the U.S. wants to avoid natural disasters . . . be nice to Israel.
Skeptics say that going through all the events in a particular span of years and
finding apparent correlations doesn't mean they were connected. (Ten Major
Then what is the point of the Hashgochah Pratis? Or, perhaps, more accurately,
for whom is the Hashgochah Pratis? Clearly it is not for atheists or agnostics,
and certainly not for the advocacy groups that push agendas that run contrary to
Torah laws and philosophy.
This coming week, bH, Jews all around the world will sit down for another
Pesach Seder, most of whom will probably not even wonder why it is called
that. Even people who do not speak Hebrew call it a Seder, so it has become
one of those important and instructive ideas that has been unimportant and non-
Imagine, though, if someone asked you, Where are you spending your
Passover Order this year?
The question would probably catch you off guard a bit and cause you to think
for a moment before answering, You mean with whom am I placing my
Pesach order?
More than likely at that point your friend will chuckle and say, No, no. I mean
where are you having your Passover Order this year?
It will probably take a moment before it dawns on you that order in Hebrew
is seder, at which point you will may chuckle as well as you finally respond
correctly to the question.
As you later walk away and think to yourself, Its true, seder means order,
it might occur to you that not only do we make an order, we even sing about
it as well. Around the world families begin their Sedarim by singing its table of
contents, Kadesh, urchatz, karpas, yachatz, etc. You have to admit that it is a
relatively odd way to begin the celebration of our redemption from slavery.
Unless that is, you come to realize that the entire reason why we were
redeemed from slavery was for the sake of order, that is, for the sake of
maintaining the Divine order for Creation. Mitzrayim represented tohu, the
primordial chaos mentioned in the second version of the Creation Story. The
Jewish People were extracted from there to be a light unto nations, to restore
Divine order to Creation and to maintain it.
Apparently though we had a tough time making the adjustment in the
And Moshe heard the people weeping for their families . . . (Bamidbar
11:10) i.e., because of the families [members] with whom they were forbidden
to have relations. (Yoma 75a)
It was a vulnerability that the Erev Rav, the Mixed Multitude, made a point of
exploiting, and continues to exploit. To the naive it seems like a simple and
primordial desire to emotionally and physically connect with whomever one
feels comfortable. In truth it is nothing short of attack on the Divine order of
Creation, a disintegration of the very spiritual columnsand beams that hold
up Creation, endangering all of us.
It is ironic that, at this stage of history, Hollywood should produce a modern-
day movie version of the Biblical story of Noach (ironically, in gematria kollel,
Hollywood in Hebrew equals Noach). I understand that the current film is
historically inaccurate, but the overall message is the same, and many people
know the Biblical version of the story.
When I saw that the movie was made, I wondered to myself, Why make such
a movie in this day and age? Is anyone really interested in such a story of
Divine destruction for immoral and amoral behavior?
It really made me wonder, which is why I applied the principle, This is from
God, that which is wondrous in our eyes (Tehillim 118:23). Basically it means
that if something is quite out of the ordinary you have to realize that it is not
regular, covert Divine Providence but unusual and overt Divine Providence,
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 43
perhaps a message from God Himself: I did it before, Ill do it again, water or
no water.
But again, for whom is the message? Good question, but one the Haggadah
was designed to answer by its authors who understood history and man better
than most of us ever will. It says that such messages are for us, the Jewish
people, the light unto nations, the ones entrusted with the mission to maintain
the Godly order of Creation, and when necessary to repair it.
Pesach is generally a festive time of year, at least once you get past all of the
cleaning. However, there have been many times in Jewish history when it has
not been, especially when the arrival of the holiday itself was the reason for
increased anti-Semitism and terrible brutality directed against the Jewish
population. It certainly had to have been a bitter experience for those
celebrating freedom from Egyptian slavery while living through current ones.
Thank God today most Jews arent in such circumstances. Nevertheless, the
world is in terrible moral shape and getting worse by the day, which does not
bode well for the future of mankind. The people of Noachs time were also
fooled by the pleasantness of daily life. Even Noach had doubts about God
making good on His threat of colossal destruction until the Flood actually
The laws of Yom Tov require us to celebrate the holiday in a festive manner.
The Haggadah Shel Pesach requires that we recall the reason why God
miraculously destroyed Egypt, to free a people unworthy of being freed. A
good home owner inspects his house and looks for small problems before they
become bigger and destructive. When it comes to Creation, WE are the
Baalei Battim, as the Talmud says:
No punishment comes to the world except because of the Jewish people.
(Yevamos 63a)
As we sit down to our Passover Order, we should consider how disorderly
the world has become on our watch. Then, we should resolve to do what we
can to restore as much of Gods seder to our world as we possibly can. And
finally, as we praise God for our past victories we should pray to Him for
future ones, if not with actual words, at least with the intention of our hearts to
assume the role for which we were formed into nation.
Chag Pesach Kosher vSamayach, Pinchas Winston
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HaRav Shlomo Wolbe Ztl
Bais Hamussar
This Dvar Torah is sponsored L'iluy Nishmas our Rebbi and teacher, the
Mashgiach Harav Shlomo ben Moshe z"l, who's 9th Yarhtzeit will be on
the 17 of Nissan, Chol Hamoed Pesach.
The Kuzari (written by Rav Yehuda Halevi in the twelfth century) was written
as a dialogue between a king of Kuzar searching for spiritual fulfillment and a
Jewish sage. After failing to be convinced of the authenticity of Catholicism
and Islam, the king summoned this Jewish sage and asked him for a descrpition
of the beliefs of the Jewish Nation. The Sage responded, "We believe in the G-
d of Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov who took us out of Egypt with miracles
and wonders. . ." The king inquired as to why the sage described Hashem as,
"The One Who took us out of Egypt," in contrast to the representatives of other
religions who describe G-d as, "The One Who created the world." The sage
answered that the other nations base their religion on philosophical
conclusions. Nature itself is evidence to the veracity of a Creator, and thus,
they relate to G-d as the Creator of the world for the creation is the foundation
of their beliefs. However, the Jewish People have no need to revert to
intellectual proofs, since they "perceived Hashem" with their very eyes through
the numerous miracles performed during Yetzias Mitzrayim. Thus, they refer to
Hashem as the One Who took them out of Mitzrayim, an occurrence that they
witnessed as opposed to creation which was witnessed by no one.
Our emunah, says Rav Wolbe, is not based on logic. Our emunah is a result of
what we perceived with our own eyes. We "saw" Hashem when he took us out
of Mitzrayim, when He opened all the heavens and gave us the Torah on Har
Sinai, and He sustained us in a barren desert with daily bread from the heavens.
This is what the seforim refer to as "emunah chushis" - belief which can be felt
with the senses.
One might ask that while this level of emunah was certainly achieved by those
living through the above miracles, how can we, who live more than three
millennia after those events took place, achieve a parallel level of emunah? The
Torah, in its description of Matan Torah, addresses this issue. When Hashem
descended upon Har Sinai, the mountain was consumed by fire, "and its smoke
rose like the smoke of a furnace." Chazal tell us that the allegorical reference to
a furnace was written so that one could relate to what had occurred. Why is this
important? As long as at the end of the day we received the Torah, who cares
exactly how the mountain looked? We care. We care, because the way for us
who were not present at Har Sinai to achieve the emunah that was achieved
back then, is by reliving what occurred. We can only relive it if we know
exactly what transpired. We need to know that the mountain was shaking and
that the smoke was rising like smoke rises from a furnace.
Elsewhere, the Kuzari writes that the imagination should to be employed to
picture the awesome events of the past, such as Yetzias Mitzrayim and
Ma'amad Har Sinai. Imagination is a powerful tool. It even has the ability to
effect changes in the natural world as mentioned in the Torah regarding the
staffs Yaakov placed before the sheep. Likewise, it has the ability to make an
impression and effect a positive change in our level of emunah. The extent that
we are able to relive and "perceive" the occurrences mentioned in the Torah, is
dependent upon the extent that we are able to depict and imagine them.
Another way to achieve clarity of Hashem similar to that which we
experienced at Har Sinai, is mentioned by the Maharal. He writes (Sha'ar
HaBechina chap. 5) that one should contemplate the survival of the Jewish
People through the generations because it is a wonder similar to the wonders of
Har Sinai!
The Seder night is the most opportune time of the entire year to inculcate
emunah into our children. We must recount and relive Yetzias Mitzrayim in a
way that they can relive it. The aim is to create an atmosphere that lends to
feeling as if "he himself went out of Mitzrayim." Moreover, the second idea
mentioned above is also referenced during the Seder when we recite, "In every
generation they stand up against us to annihilate us and Hashem saves us from
their hands." Serious contemplation and discussion of these ideas on Leil
Ha'Seder, has the ability to bring us and our children to levels of emunah
unattainable during the rest of the year!
Chag Kasher V'Sameich!
Maaseh Rav
A few days prior to Pesach, Rabbi Wolbe asked someone close to him, "Did
you prepare already what to speak about at the Seder?!"
V'higadto L'bincha at the Mashgiach's seder wasn't with "Vort's", it was a
pertinent message applicable to that day. Last year's message is likely not
relevant enough in our rapidly changing time. When we must see ourselves as
we today are leaving Mizrayim, we must have clear in our hearts what today's
Mizrayim is and what we're leaving behind.
Once we are ready to leave Mizrayim, we can anticipate growing to heights
enabling the true Geulah.Please share with us your personal experiences with the
Mashgiach Rabbi Wolbe z"l, Thank you.

Aish.Com - Rabbi Ken Spiro
Jewish History Crash Course
Crash Course in Jewish History Part 25: The Second Temple
The re-building of the Temple which had began under Cyrus when the Persians
first took over the Babylonian empire, and which was then interrupted for 18
years, resumed with blessing of Darius II, the Persian king whom we believe to
be the son of Esther.
The work is completed in 350 BCE and the Temple re-dedicated. But it is not
the same.
The intense spiritually of the First Temple cannot be compared to the Second.
The constant miracles are gone. Prophecy is gone. The Ark of the Covenant is
gone - and although there is a Holy of Holies, it stands empty.
The Ark - this special gold-lined cedar chest which had contained the tablets of
the Ten Commandments - was the place where the Shechinah, the Presence of
HaShem, descended from heaven between the outstretched wings of the two
golden cherubs. What happened to it? The Talmud (in Ta'anis) talks about it
and relates two opinions. One opinion says the Babylonians took it into
captivity. The other opinion says that it was hidden by King Yoshiah who had
anticipated the impending invasion and destruction. (See Part 22)
There's a very famous story told in the Talmud of a Kohen, a priest, who finds
a loose stone on the Temple Mount and realizes that's where the Ark is hidden.
On the way to tell others about it, he dies. The point of the story is that the Ark
is not meant to be found. Not yet.
The Jews who rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem are very well-meaning people
but they were sadly lacking in leadership.
To fill the vacuum comes Ezra.
A scribe and scholar and a Jewish community leader in Persia, Ezra, a Kohen,
hears that the Jewish community in the Holy Land is floundering with neither
king nor prophet. So, he takes with him 1,496 well-chosen men with leadership
abilities and comes to the rescue.
Ezra is so well thought of in the Talmud that it is written of him that "the Torah
could have been given to Israel through Ezra, if not that Moshe preceded him"
(Sanhedrin 21b).
This high praise goes to Ezra for the spiritual rebuilding of the Jewish people
and his efforts to reinstate Torah law in the land.
Among his most dramatic reforms is his war against assimilation and inter-
Indeed, the Book of Ezra condemns all the men who had married non-Jewish
wives and gives their names -- all 112 of them. (Ezra 10:18-44.)
You might ask: Why the big deal? After all, only 112 guys strayed. Today,
millions of Jews are intermarrying -- the intermarriage rate in America is 60%.
The difference is that 2,500 years ago, even one Jew intermarrying was an
outrage. Now society accepts it as normal. So-called "progressive"
congregations in America are even shopping for rabbis who will officiate at
mixed marriages - to lend legitimacy to something the Bible repeatedly
condemns, and which spells the death of the Jewish people.
Through Ezra's efforts, these mixed marriages are dissolved. All the people are
then gathered in Jerusalem - men and women from all over the country - and
the Torah is read out loud to all. At the end, all present pledge not to intermarry
and to uphold the Torah. (Nechemiah 10:30-31)
Spiritual Vacuum
Despite Ezra's efforts (and those of the other leaders) the Temple is spiritually a
shadow of its former self.
At this time, it is also physically a humble edifice. Eventually (circa 30 BCE) it
will be rebuilt again by Herod the Great, and made into a spectacular structure,
but even though it is going to be physically beautiful, it will be spiritually
empty when compared with the First Temple. And even though there are going
to be High Priests, the institution will become corrupt.
According to the Talmud, during the First Temple period of about 410 years,
there were only 18 High Priests. During the Second Temple period of 420
44 ":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc
years, there were 300 High Priests! We know (from the Talmud, Yoma 9a) that
Yochanan was High Priest for 80 years, Shimon was High Priest for 40 years,
and Yishmael was High Priest for 10 years. That means in the remaining 290
years there were 298 priests - one ever year or so. What accounts for that?
The Talmud tells us that the Holy of Holies was forbidden ground, except for
Yom Kippur. On that one day only, the High Priests entered to perform special
rites before HaShem. But if he himself was not spiritually pure and unable to
focus, he would not be able to stand the intense encounter with HaShem and
would die on the spot. We know that during the Second Temple Period a rope
had to be tied to the High Priest, so that in case he died, he could be pulled out
of the Holy of Holies.
Because the whole High Priesthood was a corrupted institution for most of the
Second Temple period, the High Priests died every year. And yet people
clamored for the job, which went to the highest bidder. So the question has to
be asked: If he was going to die on Yom Kippur, who would want the position?
One possible answer is that the candidates had such huge egos that they
thought they were the ones who were going to make it. That is how bad things
Loss Of Prophecy
Why did things get so bad?
Largely because prophecy disappeared from the land.
When the prophets were around, heresy was impossible. A prophet talked to
HaShem and he'd straighten a heretic right out. No one could deny basic tenets
of Judaism in the face of prophecy and open miracles.
But when prophecy disappeared and central authority was weakened, it became
easier for people to stray and for various holy institutions (like the High
Priesthood) to become corrupt.
Prophecy disappeared because HaShem was no longer with the Jewish people
in the same way as before. But also because the people themselves were
spiritually weaker and could not do the same intense spiritual work required to
achieve prophecy.
To be a prophet you have to perfect yourself spiritually, you have to have total
self control. It's the ultimate Jewish expression of who being a great man is.
The sages say, "Who is a great man? He who conquers himself." [Ethics of the
Fathers, 4:1]
Prophecy in the Jewish understanding is not just the ability to predict the
future. It is a state of transcendence of the physical world. It means the prophet
has entered such a high plane of understanding that he or she is able to
communicate with the Infinite.
Moshe was the ultimate prophet - that is he reached the highest level of
prophecy that is humanly possible. But there were many others - hundreds of
thousands, according to the Talmud - who achieved lesser levels and were
prophets. In the story of Saul, Part 16, we talked about how the Jewish people
consulted the prophets on everything, including lost objects. But that
phenomenon all but disappeared with the destruction of the Temple and it did
not return with its re-building.
If anyone is interested in how to become a prophet there is an instruction book
available. It called "Path of the Just" and it was written in the 18th century by
the great Kabbalist, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto, also known as the Ramchal.
This is a guidebook on how to get complete control of yourself physically,
emotionally and spiritually so you can transcend this world and become a
But even if you master that book, you will not be a prophet. Why not? Because
prophecy is only possible if the rest of the Jewish people are also spiritually
As an individual you can reach a tremendously high level but you can only
reach so high. To get all the way to the top and break through the threshold,
you've got to stand on the shoulders of the Jewish people because there has to
be a minimum level of spirituality of the entire nation upon which to rest
yourself so that you can reach the level of prophecy. If the nation drops below
that level, that threshold, it doesn't matter how much you stand on your tippy-
toes and reach up, you're not going to succeed. And during the Second Temple
period, we're going to see the Jewish people dropping below a certain threshold
of spirituality which they're never going to attain again.
The Talmud says there were definitely individuals living at this time, who, had
they lived earlier, would most certainly have been prophets. But the door to
prophecy had been slammed in the face of the Jewish people. And we are told
that it will not be opened again until the Messianic Era.
Realizing that the Jewish people were growing weaker spiritually, a group of
wise leaders came together - expanding the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme
Court, from 70 to 120 members - with a special aim of strengthening Judaism.
They were the Men of the Great Assembly.
Next: The Great Assembly
This article can also be read at:
Copyright 2001 - Author Biography: Rabbi Ken Spiro is originally from New Rochelle,NY. He graduated from
Vasser College with a BA in Russian Language and Literature and did graduate studies at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow. He has Rabbinical
ordination from Yeshiva Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem and a Masters Degree in History from The Vermont College of Norwich University. Rabbi Spiro
is also a licensed tour guide by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and five children where he works as a senior
lecturer and researcher on Aish HaTorah outreach programs.

Aish.Com - Rabbi Noach Weinberg ZTL
48 Ways to Wisdom
Way #25 No Pain No Gain
What is the opposite of pain?
Nine out of ten people will say, "Pleasure."
Incorrect. The actual opposite of pain is "no pain" - i.e. comfort. And while
comfort may be very nice, it is not the ultimate pleasure. A person who goes
through life chasing comfort will be very disappointed at the end - because if
you spend your life avoiding pain, you will also avoid the deepest pleasures.
As much as everyone tries to minimize pain in life, the fact remains that pain is
unavoidable. Everything has its ups and downs. Therefore, if we want to
succeed in life, the key is not to eliminate pain entirely (for that is an
impossibility), but rather to learn how to understand and accept the pain.
The 48 Ways says: Pain is the price we pay for pleasure. All of life's lasting
pleasures - good relationships, successful careers, the pursuit of meaning -
require a lot of pain and effort to achieve.
What we call "pain" is frequently a matter of "effort." The effort of physical
fitness is painful. The effort of thinking through a difficult idea is painful. The
effort of building a long-term relationship is painful. From here we see that
although effort may be "painful," the goal of life should not be to escape it.
Anyone looking for a smooth ride will miss out on life's immeasurable
A Pain-Pleasure Example
Real pleasure is inseparable from pain. Here's an example:
What would you say is your parents' greatest "pleasure?"
That's right: You.
What would you say is your parents' greatest "pain?"
The same answer: You.
It's not an accident that your parents' greatest pleasure is also the source of their
greatest pain. Because the greater the pleasure, the greater the effort required.
To pursue comfort is defined as "decadent." When an entire society makes
comfort its primary goal, that's dangerous. The Roman Empire collapsed
because of decadence; they got too comfortable.
The low birth rate in the Western world is an indication of contemporary
decadence. I often ask young people how many children they want, and they
tell me "two."
"Why so few?
"Because I love children, and I want to give them every advantage. It'll be
difficult enough sending two children to university, let alone five. And what
about clothes? And summer camp? With two children it's feasible, but with
That sounds logical. So I say: "OK, I'll give you one million dollars for one of
your sisters. You've got five of them, so you won't miss one. She'll be given
every advantage. No harm will come to her. You just won't see her again."
"Are you crazy? That's my sister you're talking about. I wouldn't take TEN
million dollars for her!"
Do you see? If you run from pain or effort, you're really running away from
Fear Of Pain
Often, the fear of pain is worse than the pain itself. An inoculation takes all of
one second, but anticipation of the pain can last for hours beforehand.
Fear of pain is the greatest restriction there is. If you're afraid of traveling,
you'll never go anywhere. If you're afraid of physical or emotional exertion,
you won't achieve, you won't grow, you won't find truth.
We all have a choice: Either pay in the pain of trying, or in the emotional pain
of knowing you're too weak to try. For example: If you don't ask for the job,
you avoid the pain of refusal - but you have the pain of being a quitter the rest
of your life. And that always comes back to haunt a person.
What is at the core of someone's choice of suicide? What is really driving the
person when he picks up a gun to put an end to it all?
He wants to avoid pain. He wants to escape.
In the words of Shakespeare, "To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether
to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or by taking arms
against fate ... to end it all."
That's what he's looking for. He wants to sleep.
To help you confront tough situations, remember: "Pain is passing, results are
lasting." In fact, pain is often just a threshold to cross to get to another world of
pleasure. A good example is the dentist. The drill and filling will take an hour,
and the pain will subside in two. But the filling will prevent further decay, and
give you eating enjoyment for years to come.
Fear Of Reality
The biggest fear people have of all fears, and the one most important to
overcome, is the fear of facing up to reality. People would rather live an
illusion than wake up to reality.
Why? Because if reality turns out to be something different than what we're
used to, it means having to change our course in life. And that hurts!
We all choose to escape, now and then, from the effort that's involved in
accomplishing the goals and ambitions we have in life. We all want to be great;
we all want to change the world. It's just that we don't always feel like putting
forth the effort. So we distract ourselves and escape from who we really are
and what we want to achieve.
The 48 Ways says: It hurts a lot more when reality confronts us, especially
when it may be too late to do anything about it.
Always ask yourself: "What pain am I avoiding?" Identify exactly what you're
afraid of. Reason it out: What's the worst that could happen?
As an exercise, make a list of the goals you'd love to achieve if no pain was
involved. Then next to each goal, write down the amount of pain you anticipate
in trying to reach those goals.
Then, write down what makes the goal so worthwhile. Now compare the two
columns. If a particular goal is truly worthwhile, then you'll see instantly how
your fear of pain is holding you back from achieving that goal. And it will
clarify how you'd even be willing to pay the price of pain to achieve it!
Keep Your Eye On The Ball
One of the best ways of getting rid of pain is to forget about it and focus
instead on the pleasure.
It may seem as if pain and pleasure can't occur simultaneously, and that if
you're feeling pain there is no pleasure. Wrong! There is pleasure to be felt, it's
just that in focusing on the pain, you make yourself numb to the pleasure.
Switch the focus and you switch the feeling.
Imagine a team of basketball players, running around the court, pushing
themselves to the limit, just to score a basket. Do they notice the pain they're
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 45
feeling? Barely. The pleasure of playing and scoring overwhelms their feeling
of pain.
Now what would happen if you asked them to conduct the following
Play basketball as you would normally - run, jump, shoot, and defend. But this
time do all of that without the ball!
How long do you think they could play for? Maybe five minutes! Because
without the ball, there is no pleasure to distract them from the pain. Every step
now seems like a major effort!
Give them back the ball, and they'll play for another two hours!
Judaism says: Keep your eye on the ball. If you want the ultimate in living -
then you'll want to learn all you can about life. This will enable you to focus
and make any effort a pleasure.
Focus On The Up-Side
Imagine a little boy playing ball with his friends. He falls down, scrapes his
knee and begins to cry. But when his friends call out, "Cry baby!" he quickly
pulls himself together and goes back in the game.
An hour later, the child comes home, walks through the door, shows his mother
his knee - and immediately bursts into tears!
Our enjoyment of life has a lot to do with how we deal with pain. Many people
have learned to say, "So what!" and take pain in stride. Others focus on their
suffering and get stuck in a mode of "complain ... be sad ... you owe to
Many people make the error of focusing on their failures, rather than on their
strong points. This causes pointless anguish and pain. Every human being has
been created with marvelous talents and potential. Therefore, to obsess over
your shortcomings is as foolish as going to a spectacular concert, then fretting
the entire time about being overcharged fifty cents for your ticket!
Those who have achieved the most are those who've endured the greatest pain.
Would you stop the revolution because you have a splinter in your finger?
Would you hold up wisdom because you have a headache?
Imagine yourself at a wonderful restaurant - beautiful view, exquisite
furnishings ... but there's no salt. "NO SALT! How can that be?! This is an
outrage!" And so, what could have been an enjoyable experience turns into a
nightmare for you and those around you.
In fact many relationships sour for the same reason. Rather than focus on the
positive, people focus on the negative. It causes unnecessary suffering.
Learn to focus on the goodness amidst the pain, and you'll discover the
maximum goodness that life can possibly offer.
According To The Pain Is The Reward
In one sense there is a positive side to pain: The greater pain we experience on
the way toward a goal, the greater we enjoy the success of reaching it. In other
words: The more we pay, the more we treasure.
Human beings can actually derive pleasure from overcoming pain. People will
swim in ice-water or walk over hot coals just to conquer the pain of doing so.
Overcoming pain gives us a sense of our own free will, and how much we can
shape our lives.
Learning wisdom is a good example of the value of struggling. Wisdom is the
most valuable tool for living a meaningful life. If you want to be happy - really
happy - you need wisdom. Learning wisdom means taking the time to research
an idea, working to understand it, integrating it, and practicing it over and over
again. That means taking the pain now to learn some eternal ideas. Because
when you finally do figure it out, you'll value it all the more.
You know you have what it takes. Now go and get it.
Pain Of Others
The rules are different when it comes to the pain of other people. Don't ignore
their pain. When you go to visit a friend in the hospital, don't start preaching
about how he should "look at the positive side." Compassion and
understanding will help alleviate his pain. That's being a good friend, spouse,
parent, etc.
Similarly, don't look away from the suffering of humanity. If there's a problem
in your community (or even in some faraway land), ask yourself: "What can I
do to alleviate it?"
A person would need to be blind to be unaware of the plight of humanity
today: despair, persecution, broken homes ... (Blind, or too involved with one's
own personal concerns.) Those who have some sense of vision do something
about the problem. They write a check when there's a knock on the door. But
even they are "too busy" to get personally involved.
It is the rare few who go out of their way to seek solutions to the problems.
Greatness is not found in "upping your donation" from last year. Greatness is
found in being involved, in making it as much your problem as the one who is
suffering. That is where a leader will be found, and that's where your own
greatness will ultimately be expressed.
Why Did HaShem Make It This Way?
HaShem could have created us as automated robots. But instead He gave each
of us a set of challenges - and the potential to overcome them. This is how we
grow and "repair our souls."
Utilizing our Free Will is the essence of what it means to be a human being.
Every moment we're alive, we're using our free will to choose between life and
death, reality or escapism. It's a constant choice. We are either making the
choice to take the pain in order to grow, or we're quitting.
Which is not to suggest that we should go out of our way to seek difficulties.
But if there is a process that we must undergo, then it is foolish to avoid it. Too
often we busy ourselves with petty distractions, in order to escape the
confrontation with reality. But it always catches up with us eventually. Because
it is part and parcel of our reason for being.
Effort is a process that each of us has to go through. We have crucial life
lessons to learn, and it is precisely for that reason our souls have come to earth
in the first place. Our greatness is found in using our free will to resolve
conflict, fight and accomplish. To bite the bullet and not run away.
Why Is "Accepting Pain" An Ingredient In Wisdom?
"According to the effort is the reward." The more effort you expend, the
more pleasure you'll get.
If you jump ship when the waters get choppy, you'll never make it to
Accept the pain of confronting reality and finding the truth.
Deal with the difficulties of life by focusing on your pleasures; learn to
find the pleasure within the pain.
Don't fear the pain; learn to welcome it as a necessary byproduct of
Don't escape the suffering of others.
It's all part of the Grand Eternal Plan.
Author Biography: Rabbi Noach Weinberg was the dean and founder of Aish HaTorah International. Over
the last 40 years, his visionary educational programs have brought hundreds of thousands of Jews closer to
their heritage. Copyright 2003 - "The 48 Ways to Wisdom" is culled from the Talmud (Pirkei Avos 6:6),
which states that "the crown of Torah is acquired by 48 Ways." Each of these is a special tool to help us sharpen our
personal skills and get the most out of life.

The following columns on last weeks parsha were received after publication
1. Rabbi Yissocher Frand RavFrand page 45
2. Rabbi Yaacov Haber TorahLab page 46
3. Rabbi Mordecai Kamenetzky Parsha Parables page 46
4. Rabbi Shlomo Katz Hamayan page 46
5. Rabbi Label Lam Dvar Torah page 47

Rabbi Yissocher Frand
Parshas Metzorah
These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand's
Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: Tape# 853 - Mila on Shabbos: Fascinating
Questions. Good Shabbos!
Something Like An Affliction Has Appeared On My House
Parshas Metzorah contains the laws of Tzaraas on Houses. The Torah teaches:
"When you arrive in the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I
will place a tzaraas affliction upon a house in the land of your possession; the
one to whom the house belongs shall come and declare to the Kohen, saying:
Something like an affliction has appeared to me in the house. (k'negah nireh li
b'bayis)" [Vayikra 14:34-35].
Rashi points out that even a Torah scholar who knows full well that what he
has seen is certainly tzaraas affliction, may only tentatively state "something
appearing like an affliction has developed on the wall of my house." Various
interpretations are given as to why a person must express himself in this
fashion. Some say it is an application of the principle "Do not open your
mouth to Satan" (in other words, do not initiate the verbalization of comments
relating to misfortune occurring).
Tosfos YomTov offers an interesting interpretation. The Talmud states that
one of the reasons Negaim appear is as punishment for haughtiness and
arrogance (gasus haRuach). We are trying to teach the person a lesson: Don't
be so sure of yourself. You cannot definitely state "It is a Nega." You should
state the facts with less confidence and self-assurance. Leave your declaration
at "Something like a Nega has appeared on my house."
'You got yourself into this trouble by being too sure of yourself. Forget the fact
that you spent the last 25 years studying the Laws of Tzaraas. Don't be so
cocky. The Tikun [antidote] to self-assurance is to retain some doubt about the
correctness of your diagnosis. Say only "K'nega nireh li babayis."
One of the components that is dipped into the blood of the slaughtered bird as
part of the purification ritual for the afflicted house is Eizov a kind of moss.
Rashi, quoting Chazal, explains that moss is a very low lying growth. We are
sending the person a message that his problem r esulted from an
overabundance of arrogance and haughtiness. We are telling him "You have to
start acting more like the Eizov."
The Sefas Emes asks a simple question. Why doesn't the Kohen just come out
and say that directly to the person: "You are too haughty!" Why is this
message delivered so obliquely with this Eizov ingredient in the bird
purification ritual? Why are we beating around the bush, let's tell him "You are
a Baal Gayvah, you had this coming to you! Start acting more humbly and
your problems will go away!" We do not do this. We deliver the message with
extreme subtlety. Why?
The Sefas Emes answers that you cannot preach humility. Humility must be
self-generated and self-inspired. Preaching the value of humbleness to a
haughty person will fall on deaf ears. He needs to come to this realization on
his own. We try to send him messages that will cause him to introspect and
inspire him to think "What have I been doing wrong?" He should think why
is it that out of all the plants in the world, they bring me moss? Hopefully, this
will trigger the inspiration that must come from within -- that it would be wise
to be a bit more humble in the future.
This write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand's Commuter Chavrusah Torah CDs on the weekly Torah Portion. CDs
or a complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail or visit for further information. To Support Project Genesis- Transcribed by David
Twersky Seattle, WA; Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman, Baltimore, MD RavFrand, Copyright 2007 by Rabbi Yissocher Frand and Join the Jewish Learning Revolution! The Judaism Site brings this and a host of other classes to you every week. Visit or email to get your own free copy of this mailing. Need to change or stop your subscription? Please visit our
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Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Diagnosing Tzoraas
In this weeks parsha we learn about the diagnosis and treatment of tzoraas
(a leprous disease, which one would suffer because of some moral failing) by a
kohen. The kohen might observe a whitish sore on the persons skin, and, if he
diagnosed it as tzoraas, he would declare the person tamei (inadequately
translated as unclean or impure"). In general, the whiter the sore, and the
larger the area it covered, the more tamei the person would be; butand
here is a remarkable thingonce the sore covered the whole body, the person
became tahor ("clean", pure") again! (Lev. 13:13)
How can we explain this? The Gemara (Sanhedrin 97.) quotes R Yitzchak as
saying that the Messiah will not come until all the governments of the world
will have become heretical. His pupil Rabba says: Where did he learn this
from? From the above verse. (meaning: everything will be bad before good
can come.)
Well, that was not much of an explanation of our original puzzle! If anything,
it made it more puzzling.
I cannot claim to give a complete explanation, since the laws of purity and
impurity are difficult to understand, but perhaps we can give some clue to the
There is a story in the Gemara (Avoda Zara 17.) about a certain Eliezer ben
Durdaya, who visited every house of sin that he could. One day he heard of a
prostitute who lived overseas, and was very expensive. He collected the
money, and sailed across seven seas to visit her. While they were together,
she suddenly started to berate him about his lifestyle, saying Eliezer ben
Durdaya, there is no hope of forgiveness for you! (Many questions arise here:
What moved her to admonish him thus? How could she know that there was
no hope of forgiveness for him? And who was she to talk? But let us leave
these questions aside for now.)
Eliezer, hearing this from her, fled to the countryside. He said to the mountains
and valleys: Pray for mercy for me! But they responded: We cannot, we are
busy praying for mercy for ourselves. He made the same request of the sun
and moon, and the stars, but they gave the same answer. Finally he exclaimed:
I see that my salvation depends on no one but me! He lowered his head
between his knees screamed out with cries of anguish and died. At that
moment, a heavenly voice said: Rabbi Eliezer ben Durdaya, there is a place
for you in the world to come.
What can we make of this story? The best way to approach G-d is through
years of hard work, improving oneself. But in some cases, teshuva (penitence)
can come quickly (although never easily). Eliezer ben Durdaya only rose to
teshuva after he had fallen as low as he could. We must be careful herethis
does not mean that someone can deliberately sin, with the idea of doing
teshuva afterwards! (The Rambam speaks explicitly against this.)
If Eliezer ben Durdaya had deliberately sinned with such an idea in mind, his
teshuva would never have been accepted. But sometimes it can happen that
someone who is steeped in sin becomes so disgusted with himself that he
reacts against his behavior, and finds the energy to lift himself up to a more
virtuous life. The very lowliness of his situation serves somehow as the
inspiration to drastically better himself.
In Koheles (7;20) it says: There is no tzaddik who has only done good and
never sinned. The Gra comments: Why does it include the phrase has done
only good? Why not just say: There is no tzaddik who has never sinned?
The reason, says the Gra, is that it means that every tzaddik has done at least
some good as a result of some sin.
This, I suggest, is the explanation for the puzzle we started with. The spread of
the leprous sore reflects the spread of sin in the soul of the sufferer. When it
reaches a certain point, with the sore covering the whole body, the soul reacts
to its sinful state, rises to teshuva, and the person is pure again. The Torah tells
us that a tzaddik must fall seven times, and then he may rise (Proverbs 24:16).
Sometimes it is possible that the path upwards entails some falling. The fall is
one step closer in the direction upward.
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky
Parsha Parables
Parshas Metzora 5774 - Holistic Healing
Dedicated for a Refuah Sh'eleima to Chaim Baruch Yehuda ben Hinda Sarah
Tzora'as, the main discussion of Parshas Metzora is an affliction that discolors
human skin, clothing, hair, beards and even homes. The laws of tzora'as are
detailed, complex and intricate. There are Talmudic tractates that deal with the
proper procedure for purification and a litany of laws that must be followed
flawlessly. The ramifications of tzora'as have more than physiological
implications, they have a great theological impact as well.
The discoloration of skin does not necessarily reflect a chemical impropriety
or a nutritional deficiency. It is a heavenly sign of a spiritual flaw, primarily
related to a deficient speech pattern. It is a disease that afflicts a gossip. The
one in question must go to the kohen (priest) who instructs him in the proper
procedure to rid himself of both the blemish and the improper behavior that
caused its appearance. The Torah tells us that the fate of the stricken man is
totally dependent upon the will of the kohen. The kohen is shown the negah
(blemish) and has the power to declare it tamei (impure) or tahor (pure). In
fact, even if all signs point to the declaration of impurity, if the kohen, for any
reason deems the person tahor or refuses to declare him tamei, the man
remains tahor. He is not tamei until openly and clearly labeled as such by the
Yet the verse seems a bit redundant. "And the kohen shall look at the negah
affliction on the skin and behold it has changed to white and appears deeper
than the skin of the flesh - it is a tzora'as and the kohen shall look at him and
declare him tamei" (Leviticus 13:3). Why must the kohen look twice? The
Torah should tell us that the kohen shall look at the negah, and if the affliction
is white and appears deeper than the flesh of the skin, then the kohen shall
declare him impure. What purpose is served by looking again?
The Story
Rabbi Abraham Twerski tells the story of a young man who came to the chief
Rabbi of Vilna, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky with a request. As this young
man's father was applying for a Rabbinical position in a town that the sage was
familiar with, he asked the rabbi for a letter of approbation on his father's
Rabbi Grodzinsky felt that the candidate was not worthy of the position, but
instead of flatly refusing, he just said that he would rather not mix into the
Rabbinical affairs of another city and was sure that the council of that city
would make a fair and wise decision.
Rabbi Grodzinsky did not realize the tirade that would be forthcoming. The
young man began to spew insults and aspersions at him. The sage, however,
accepted them in silence. After a few minutes of hearing the abusive language,
Rabbi Grodzinsky excused himself and left the room.
Students who witnessed the barrage were shocked at the young man's brazen
audacity. They were even more surprised that the Rav did not silence the
young man at the start of the barrage.
Rabbi Grodzinsky turned to them. "You cannot view that onslaught on its own.
You must look at the bigger picture. This young man was defending the honor
of his father, and in that vein I had to overlook his lapse."
The Message
The kohen who is instructed to deal with the stricken individual should not
only look at the negah. He must look again. He must look at the man. Rabbi
Meir Simcha HaKohen of D'vinsk explains that even if the negah has all the
attributes that should lead to a declaration of tumah, there are other factors that
must be weighed. If the man is a groom, about to wed, impurity must not be
declared. It will ruin the upcoming festivities. If there are other mitigating
circumstances, then a declaration of contagion must be postponed.
Perhaps the Torah is telling us more. It is easy to look at a flaw and declare it
as such. But one must look at the whole person. He must ask himself "how is
my declaration going to affect the future of this person." He must consider the
circumstances that caused the negah. He must look again - once at the negah -
and once at the man.
There are those who interpret the adage in Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers),
"judge all (of the) people in a good way," as do not look at a partial person:
rather, judge all of the person -- even a flaw may have a motivation or
rationale behind it. The kohen may look at the negah, but before he
pronounces tamei he must look again. He must look beyond the blemish. He
must look at the man
Good Shabbos 2014 Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky
Rabbi Shlomo Katz
Parshas Metzorah: The Holy Land
Volume 28, No. 28 5 Nissan 5774 April 5, 2014
Sponsored by Nathan and Rikki Lewin in memory of her father, Harav Eliyahu
Moshe ben Yitzchak Dov Gordon ah
Rabbi and Mrs. Barry Greengart on the yahrzeit of his mother Yuta bat Yosef
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Beitzah 6
This weeks parashah continues the laws of tzaraat that were begun last week.
But, while last weeks parashah presented the laws of tzaraat that appears on
ones body or clothing, our parashah discusses tzaraat that appears on ones
house. We read (14:34-35), When you arrive in the land of Canaan that I give
you as a possession, and I will place a tzaraat affliction upon a house in the
land of your possession. The one to whom the house belongs shall come and
declare to the kohen, saying, Something like an affliction has appeared to me
in the house.
Why does one say Something like an affliction has appeared . . . , rather
than, An affliction has appeared . . .? A person who suspects that there is
tzaraat on his body or clothes doesnt say, Something like an affliction has
R Chaim Palagi zl (1788-1868; rabbi of Izmir, Turkey) explains: As the
above verse indicates, the laws of tzaraat on a house apply only in Eretz
Yisrael. Regarding Eretz Yisraelthe house is effectively part of the Holy
Land--it is not proper to speak negatively; the most one may say is, Perhaps
there is something wrong with this house. There is no similar concern when
speaking about ones self or ones clothing. This, continues R Palagi,
provides a basis for the teaching of our Sages that the kohen should plead with
the homeowner to repent in order not to cause impurity to Eretz Yisrael.
Again, the kohen does not do this when faced with tzaraat on ones body or
clothing. (Artzot Hachaim p.32)
Zot tihyeh torat hametzora / This shall be the law of the metzora on the
day of his purification. (Vayikra 14:2)
R Shimon Sofer zl (1821-1883; rabbi of Krakow, Poland) asks: Why did the
Torah not use a simpler phrase, Zot torat hametzora / This is the law of the
metzora . . .?
He answers: If the Torah had stated, This is the law of the metzora, it would
have implied that there definitely would be a metzora in the future. The Torah
":\D nu trcdk trcd ihc 47
did not wish to express such a pessimistic thought and therefore stated, This
shall be the law of the metzora should the circumstance ever arise. (Michtav
The kohen shall command; and for the person being purified there shall be
taken two live, clean birds, cedarwood, crimson thread, and hyssop. The
kohen shall command; and the one bird shall be slaughtered into an
earthenware vessel over spring water. As for the live birdhe shall take it
with thecrimson thread and the hyssop, and he shall dip them and the live
bird into the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over the spring water.
Midrash Rabbah states: Why was Tzipporah (the wife of Moshe Rabbeinu)
called by that name? Because just as a bird (tzippor) purifies a metzora, so
she purified the house of her father (Yitro). [Until here from the midrash]
R Yehuda Loewe zl (Maharal of Prague; died 1609) explains: An idolator is
called dead, as in the verse (Tehilim 106:28), Then they attached
themselves to [the idol] Baal Peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.
Likewise, a metzora is is called dead, as in the verse (Bemidbar 12:12), Let
her [Miriam] not be like one who is dead. Tzipporah purified her fathers
house of idolatry, which is equivalent to death, just as the bird offering
purifies the metzora of tzaraat, which is equivalent to death.
Maharal continues: Specifically the blood of the bird purifies the metzora of
death, because blood is the essence of life. And, specifically the blood of a
bird because birds, which fly about so effortlessly, seem to have more life in
them than do other living things. Thus, they purify the metzora, whose
condition was equivalent to death.
Maharal concludes: Among all animals, birds appear to be the least connected
to this material world. Similarly, Tzipporah was less connected to the gross,
material world than were her compatriots. That is what made her a fitting wife
for Moshe Rabbeinu. (Gevurot Hashem ch.19)
As for the one who does not know what to ask, you must begin to speak to
him, as it is stated (Shemot 13:8), And you shall tell your son on that day,
saying, I t is because of this that Hashem acted on my behalf when I left
Egypt. (From the Haggadah)
Why is this the answer we give to the child who does not know what to ask?
R Yaakov Perlow shlita (Novominsker Rebbe in Brooklyn, N.Y.) explains:
Rashi zl comments on the quoted verse: Because of this in order that I
will fulfill His commandments. According to Rashi, writes R Perlow, the
purpose of the Exodus was so that we would receive the Torah and fulfill
Hashems mitzvot, for only in that way can Hashems Honor be revealed in
this world.
The Gemara (Pesachim 68b) teaches that a person first beginning to serve
Hashem may legitimately do so for selfish motives--for example, for the sake
of his own soul. Therefore we tell the young child or the beginner, Hashem
acted on my behalf, for my own good. How so? Because of this--in order
that I will fulfill His commandments, which will elevate me and make me
great. (Adat Yaakov: Pesach p.137)
They could not delay [leaving Egypt]. (From the Haggadah)
Our Sages say that, had Bnei Yisrael remained in Egypt a moment longer, they
would have sunk to the 50th gate of impurity from which there is no return.
R Zalman Sorotzkin zl (rabbi in Lithuania and Israel) observes that Bnei
Yisrael reached that stage after only 210 years in exile. In contrast, the Jewish
People apparently have not fallen that low after the nearly 2,000 years in the
current exile. Why?
He answers: The key difference between us and our ancestors who were in
Egypt is that we have the Torah and they did not. True, our Sages say that they
preserved their unique style of dress and they spoke the Hebrew language, but
that wasnt enough to preserve their identity. Only the Torah can accomplish
that. (Haggadah Shel Pesach Hashir Vehashevach p.105)
R Gedalia Schorr zl (1911-1979; Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaath in
Brooklyn) asks: What does it mean that there is no escape from the 50th gate
of impurity? Chazals statement implies that even Hashem could not have
removed them from there, but surely there is nothing that is impossible for
Hashem to do!
R Schorr explains: Hashem promised Avraham that his (Avrahams)
descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years and then
redeemed. But not all of Avrahams descendants were enslaved in Egypt, only
those who carried Avrahams physical DNA and were his spiritual heirs. Had
Bnei Yisrael sunk down to the fiftieth level of ritual impurity, the spiritual link
with the Patriarchs would have been severed. Of course Hashem still could
have saved them, but He would not have been saving the spiritual descendants
of Avraham. Rather, it would have been a new people that He was taking out
of Egypt. That could not be permitted to happen. (Ohr Gedalyahu)
Perhaps one of the most perplexing parts of the Haggadah is the song known
as Dayenu, in which we say that if G-d had taken us out of Egypt but not
judged the Egyptians, that would have been enough for us. Or, if He had
judged the Egyptians, but not destroyed their idols, that, too, would have been
enough for us. Or, if He had destroyed their idols, but not killed their
firstborns, that, too, would have been enough. Or . . . What does this song
Rav Eliyahu Hakohen Haitamari zl (Izmir, Turkey; died 1729) explains: For
each of the Divine gifts or miracles listed in this song, one could argue that G-
d should have acted otherwise. We praise G-d that He considered all these
arguments and acted in the way that was best for us and for the glory of His
For example, one could argue that if He had taken us out of Egypt but not
judged the Egyptians so harshly as to practically destroy them, His name
would have been magnified even more, for the Egyptians would live to
remember, and to tell others, how He had humbled them. On the other hand,
one could argue that they would not feel humbled in that event. Rather, they
would say, He won this battle, and we will win the next battle.
That is why G-d judged the Egyptians harshly. Still, one could argue that if He
had judged the Egyptians harshly but not destroyed their idols, those idols
would have served as constant reminders of G-ds power to anyone who saw
them. On the other hand, some people would say that G-d wasnt strong
enough to destroy the Egyptians idols.
That is why G-d destroyed the Egyptians idols. But, one could argue that if
He had destroyed their idols, but not killed their firstborns, then those
firstborns would have had a special reason to tell others of G-ds greatness. It
was customary at that time to devote ones firstborn to the service of the idol;
with all the idols destroyed, the Egyptian firstborn, who were no longer
performing that service, would be a testament to G-ds power. On the other
hand, Pharaoh was a firstborn; if the firstborns had not been smitten, people
would say that it was Pharaohs merit or power which saved him and those
like him.
Thats why G-d killed the firstborn . . . (Minchat Eliyahu ch.32)
Memoirs will resume after Pesach
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Rabbi Label Lam
Dvar Torah
Parshas Metzorah - All Israel
The wicked son, what does he say? What is this work to you? To you but
not to him, and because he excludes himself from the community, he denies
the essence. So you should blunt his teeth and say to him, Because of this
Hashem did for me with my exiting from Egypt. For me, but not for him,
because if he would have been there, he would not have been redeemed!
(Shemos 13:8) (From the Four Sons at the Pesach Seder)
Why are we so tough on this son at the Pesach Seder? What does it mean that
we should blunt his teeth? Surely the Haggada is not recommending striking
him physically at the Seder! How then are we blunting his teeth? How are we
addressing any of our concerns about his attitude problem by telling him that
this is what Hashem did for me when I went out of Egypt? Because of what
did Hashem do for me? What are we specifically that we are referring to? How
is this conversation helpful at all?
All the cleaning and gritty preparation for the Pesach is comparable to surgeon
and his team scrubbing and sanitizing for a serious operation. The Pesach
Seder is a heart surgery and although it is routine, anytime we open up the
heart there is great risk. What are we trying to accomplish with this procedure?
Rabbi Avigdor Miller ztl. had said, based on the Mishne in Sanhedrin, that
crowns each chapter of Pirke Avos, All Israel have a portion in the world to
come It should have stated that all Israel have portions, plural in the world
to come. All Israel have a portion, he states, is only if they are a part of All
Israel! We want to be a part of All Israel, we and our children, want to be
powerfully connected and to identify with the mission of the entirety of the
Jewish People from Avraham Avinu until Moshiach.
We want to bask in the glory of the blessings promised to Avraham that have
carried us thus far. The risks of feeling or being detached are too great.
The wicked son comes with his dismissive attitude deluded by the notion hes
not a part of it. So we blunt his teeth. How so? Weve all been there in the
dentist chair wincing and squirming with the sound of the drill. The tooth has
this tough enamel exterior. It looks rugged and invincible until the drill enters
the mouth and it goes a millimeter below the surface. There is a sensitive nerve
not excited to have been discovered. Thats the delicate point we want to
penetrate within the tough exterior of the wicked son.
So we tellm, because of this Hashem did for me when I went out of
Egypt.Rashi explains, because of this that because I will fulfill His
Mitzvos. Hashem took us out of Egypt 3325 years ago now, so I will be
sitting here in Monsey in the 21st century eating Matzos. Like the one who
plants a tree, he has in mind that hundreds of seasons later there will be new
generation of luscious ripe that were all included in his intent and that single
seed. Its a remarkable perspective and everyone who honors the Seder by
happily doing Mitzvos was part of that original plan. By excluding himself, the
wicked son, therefore, not only opts out of the here and now but he has
scripted himself out of the deep past. He was not one of the ones that Hashem
had in mind back then- and we tell him so. Thats the shock treatment, the
blunt(ing) talk.
By pushing against the Western Wall one does not move it away. He can only
alienate and distance himself from it. This tough talk is meant to arouse the
wicked son to declare, Whatya mean, Im not a part of history!? Now he is
ready to be a part of All Israel.
To Support Project Genesis- DvarTorah, Copyright 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Questions or comments? Email Join the Jewish Learning Revolution! The Judaism Site brings this and a host of other classes to you every week.
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602-1350 FAX: (410) 510-1053

sga, A Kehilas Prozdor Publication
(c) 1990-2014 Rabbi Leibie Sternberg (Monsey/Spring Valley Zmanim) (kusdv),un-hrjt:,arp Candles Mincha DafYomi Shiur Shachris a ezx
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As this contains Divrei Torah and partial Pesukim, it should be treated with proper respect, both during and after use
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The Gemara in Yoma (19b) states that the Kohen Gadol was
required to swear before doing the Avodah on Yom Kippur that he
would not follow the procedure espoused by the Tzadokim which
was to place the Ketores on the fire prior to entering the Kodesh
Kodashim. Since the Posuk says s hbpk atv kg ,ruyev ,t i,bu,
Chazal derive that the Ketores be prepared in the Kodesh
Kodashim - before s, whereas the Tzadokim derive from the
words ,rpfv kg vtrt ibgc hf that the cloud of Ketores smoke
must already exist when the Kohen Gadol enters. The Sefas Emes
asks, what purpose will the oath serve ? If a Tzadoki believes he is
doing the mitzvah the way the Torah wants it, he will have no
compunction about swearing (falsely) that he will do it differently,
since an oath that contravenes the Torah is automatically void !
(A Tzadoki Kohen Gadol did once successfully process the
Ketores his way, for which he died ignominously.) A similar
question is asked regarding the Tzadokims belief that Shavuos
was supposed to always fall on Sunday (,hghcav ,cav ,rjnn) to
the extent that they hired false witnesses (for money) in an attempt
to arrange Rosh Chodesh Nisan according to that theory. The
Moadim UZmanim (4:291) explains the motivation behind their
zeal as a desire to undermine the influence of Chazal, by pointing
out how the Torah really wanted Pesach to always fall on
Shabbos, and Shavuos to always fall on Sunday, which would
give everyone a two-day holiday and allow the women to cook
only once, rather than inconvenience them with a disruption and
the need to cook twice. They argued that Chazal purposefully
made things more inconvenient than was required. As such, the
Tzadokim had an agenda, and may not have truly believed that the
mitzvah must only be done their way - certainly not to the extent
that they would swear falsely.
Which 2 brothers, born legitimately to the same parents, are called
up for an Aliyah using different fathers names ?
(Why do we not include Yom Tov in the daily Tefilah of Korbanos ?)
The Kol Bo states that there is no need to mention the Korbanos
of Yom Tov in the daily Tefilah section of Korbanos because on
Yom Tov, we will be reading it during Krias HaTorah, which we
do not do daily for the Tomid or on Shabbos for its Musaf. (He
holds we shouldnt say jr either see Rivevos Ephraim 1:40).
There is an Issur to smell Chometz, even if it belongs to a Goy.
Even those who hold that a Goys Chometz is not vtbvc ruxt,
especially where the Chometzs normal use is as food and not to
be smelled, nevertheless, for fear that smelling may lead to eating,
all would agree that it is prohibited. Smelling warm bread would
cause further complication as it might require a vfrc. (See Sdei
Chemed t:vmnu .nj ,frgn)
The Shulchan Aruch (jut 568:1) rules that if one mistakenly ate
on a fast day, he must still continue to fast the rest of the day. In
fact, the Rashba (Kidushin 21b) states that if a vbfx uc aha vkuj (a
dangerously ill person) eats on Yom Kippur and then recovers, he
must complete the fast. Why then are we so lax with regard to the
Erev Pesach Taanis Bechorim, that once a Bechor participates in
a Siyum he need no longer fast the rest of the day ? The Eretz Tzvi
suggests that there are two aspects to every standard ,hbg, - the
fact that one must fast, and the prohibition against eating as a form
of hubhg (affliction). Even if one ate, and thereby could not
complete the obligation to fast, the prohibition against eating still
continues all day. However, since the purpose of Taanis Bechorim
is to publicize the xb of how we were spared from ,urufc ,fn,
there is no included prohibition per se against eating. Therefore,
once one has eaten legally and can no longer complete the Taanis,
there is no other reason to refrain from eating. However, Mikraai
Kodesh derives from the Tur that the Taanis Bechorim is to
commemorate the fact that the Bechorim in Egypt probably fasted
when told by Moshe that the Egyptian first-born would die that
night, and that they should stay indoors. As such, this fast is
similar to Taanis Esther, where the J ews also probably fasted in
order to garner ohnjr at a dangerous time, and on Taanis Esther
one must certainly complete the fast ! He therefore concludes that
wherever a Taanis is instituted as a minhag subject to legal
exceptions, once a vumn ,sugx has intruded, the minhag no longer
applies. In this way, Taanis Bechorim differs from Taanis Esther
in that the minhag established in the first place for Taanis
Bechorim included the suggested use of a vumn ,sugx.
A Lesson Can Be Learned From:
A Shadchan, wishing to suggest a Shidduch between a young man and
the daughter of a Rabbinic family, praised the boys qualities to the
young ladys father. The Shadchan described the boy in Yiddish as
possessing four major attributes: He was 1) GeShikt (meaning sent
[from Heaven] - usually used to denote a talented person); 2) Tichtig
(a handy person); 3) a Mentsch (fine and mature person); and 4)
Pinktlich (a punctual person). The young ladys father was hesitant
about accepting the suggestion as no mention was made about the
young mans education and Torah knowledge. However, the Shadchan
persisted, constantly urging the father to at least allow a meeting and
judge his qualities for himself. Finally, the father told the Shadchan that
he would agree to the meeting only if the Shadchan found a Posuk in
the Torah that was a source or znr to the boys qualities. The Shadchan
immediately contacted the famous Badchan - R Chaim Mendel
Mermelstein AH and asked him for help. R Chaim Mendel thought a
moment and then said: These qualities are to be found in the Posuk:
h,g aht shc jkau - where jkau suggests he will be sent; shc - in the
hand[y] of; aht - a mentsch ; h,g - a timely one. The Shidduch was
favorably arranged.
P.S. Sholosh Seudos will not be eaten in Shul this week.