This Shabbat is called, "Shabbat Hagadol" ("The Great Shabbat") because of the miracle which our nation experienced on this Shabbat. On this Shabbat we were commanded to take a sheep and tie it to our bedposts, in preparation for the korban Pesah. Despite the fact that the Egyptians worshipped the sheep and saw us preparing their deity for slaughter, they did not object. This miracle is commemorated on this Shabbat, Shabbat Hagadol.
This is well known. However, one question remains. Since the sheep were tied to the bedposts for four days, from the tenth of Nissan through the fourteenth, the miracle actually took place over the course of these four days. So why do we single out Shabbat in particular for the commemoration of this miracle?
The answer is clear and presents a critical message for us. True, the sheep remained in our homes for several days. However, the miracle was only on the first day. After that first day, the Egyptians were already accustomed to the notion that Benei Yisrael were slaughtering their deity. They had no reason to protest.
Indeed, this is human nature. When the Hafess Hayim zs"l witnessed the desecration of Shabbat for the first time (during World War I) he cried bitterly.
When he saw it for the second time he cried even more. He explained that on that second time he cried not only for the hilul Shabbat but also for the fact that he wasn't as troubled the second time as he was the first time.
This message is especially critical for the yeshivah students who are currently on vacation. Do not spend too much time roaming around the streets, and your spiritual sensitivities which you worked so hard to develop all these months do not wear off. Take care of these sensitivities, ensure their purity in preparation for the experience of Matan Torah on Shavuot.
"HOW HAVE WE SPOKEN AGAINST YOU?!"
In another week we will conduct the seder, in celebration of our Exodus from Egypt and our transformation into a nation. However, in order to properly understand the true significance of the event, in order to understand more clearly what exactly we are celebrating by this annual, family gathering which has been observed for over three thousand and three hundred years, the Sages instituted that on the Shabbat immediately preceding Pesah, Shabbat Hagadol, we read as the haftarah an interesting, perhaps even peculiar, conversation between the Al-mighty and His nation, us. This piece is taken from the very last book of the Nevi'im, Malachi, and relates to our period, the eve of the ultimate redemption. Hashem casts rather harsh allegations against us: "Your words have overpowered Me, says Hashem," meaning, "You have spoken harshly against Me." "And you say, 'How have we spoken against You?'" In other words, we respond, "We haven't said anything!" Strange, considering the fact that the Al-mighty knows everything we say and do, as Hazal say, "Know what is above you - an eye that sees, an ear that hears, and all your deeds are recorded in a book." Hashem sends His prophet to criticize us for having spoken harshly against Him, Heaven forbid, words of scorn and heresy. "You have said, 'There is no purpose to serve G-d, and of what avail is it when we observe his statutes?'" You have said that there is no need, G-d forbid, to observe the Torah. So, when the prophet comes to condemn this attitude, shouldn't we have kept silent and bury our heads in shame? How could it be that when he comes and tells us, "Your words have overpowered Me" we insist that we are innocent, pretending that we have no idea what the prophet is talking about? "And you say, 'How have we spoken against You?'" As if to say, "We didn't say anything!" This denial is as brazen and audacious as the actual opposition to the Torah! Instead of recognizing the presence of the ear which hears everything and burying our heads in shame and submission, instead of keeping quiet and then asking forgiveness, we dare respond, "What? We didn't say anything!" The answer is that this haftarah is a most frightening example of the truth and eternal nature of our prophecies. The prophet said these words around two and half thousand years ago, and yet they extend beyond the boundaries of time and speak to us today. There have always been individual Jews who have turned their backs to Torah and misvot. However, they and everyone around them knew that they had distanced themselves from Judaism, they have severed themselves from the rest. The path to teshuvah was always open for them. Unfortunately, before they did teshuvah they rejected their Judaism and moved away from the Jewish people. This was the way it always was. Until the renouncing of Judaism which occurred in the last generation.
Writers and orators assumed for themselves the authority as the spokesmen for Judaism and those who determine its laws. "You do not have a monopoly over Judaism," they said to those who followed the word of Hashem. They spoke as if the Orthodox Jews created something, rather than realizing that they merely have been transmitting the heritage from one generation to the next for centuries, giving over our tradition as it was given at Har Sinai, where we were bidden, "Do not add to that which I command you and do not take away from it."
We always knew the severity of the desecration of Shabbat, we always recognized the centrality of the thirteen principles of faith as defining one as a believing Jew. Suddenly, many Jews have gotten up and said, "What? Judaism should determine what Judaism is? We are good Jews even if we desecrate Shabbat, eat non-kosher food, ignore the guidelines of proper dress and modest behavior, "There is no purpose to serve G-d, and of what avail is it to observe His statutes?" This falsehood has become so entrenched that when the prophet accuses, "You words have overpowered Me," the people do not understand what the big deal is - "How have we spoken against You?"
This distortion has reached the point where a law has been suggested whereby a Christian family whose son has fallen during battle (and, no question, the pain and sorrow are great, as is his reward) will be proclaimed to be Jews. All that is needed is a few members of Kenesset - and who made them Torah authorities? - to raise their hands and the law will be implemented. With the stroke of the pen, all the family members of that fallen hero will suddenly become Jewish! Is there any greater distortion of our tradition? This is the message of our haftarah, and we must take it with us to the seder. When the son comes along and says, "What is this service to you?" insisting that one can be a good Jew without performing the misvot, we must respond, "Because he took himself out of the whole he has rejected the principles. You must chastise him and say, 'Because of this Hashem did for me when I left Egypt, for me and not for him, if he would have been there he would not have been redeemed.'" There is but one Judaism, and one can either subscribe to it to reject it, but not distort it.
ASKING AND EXPOUNDING
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Taken from the booklet, "Min Hamaayan," by Rav David Yossef shlit"a
The Laws of "Koshering" Utensils for Pesah
Utensils which are used with hamess throughout the year may not be used on Pesah unless they are properly "koshered," since hamess is absorbed into the utensil. A utensil is koshered in the same manner in which it was used with hamess. If the utensil was used with fire, then it must be koshered by exposure to fire. If it was used with boiling hot water, then it is to be koshered by being immersed in boiling water. The underlying principle is that the hamess which was absorbed into the utensil leaves the utensil in the same manner in which it got there to begin with. Some utensils, however, cannot be koshered, as will be discussed. There are six different methods of koshering, and utensils are koshered through one of these methods, depending upon how it is used. The methods are:
1) Exposure to fire until sparks are produced.
2) Immersion in boiling water over a fire.
3) Pouring boiling water over the utensil from the pot in which the water was boiled.
4) Immersion in a "keli sheni," meaning, a pot into which boiling water was poured from the original pot in which it was boiled.
5) Rinsing in cold water.
6) Soaking in cold water for 72 hours.
Metal pots which are used over a fire, including their covers and handles, are koshered through immersion in boiling water over a fire. Meaning, water is boiled over a fire in a large pot, and while the water is still boiling, the hamess utensil is lowered into the pot. Similarly, the grating over the stove (which is over the fire and under the pots which are cooked) and gas stoves are koshered in this manner. If boiling water was poured onto them from the original pot in which the water was boiled, this also suffices.
However, the Ashkenazim are more stringent in this regard, and insist on koshering the grating and gas stoves through exposure to fire. One may use the grating or gas stove without koshering them by placing a strip of metal on them. Some wrap the stove in aluminum foil after they were immersed in boiling water, and those who follow this stringency will be blessed. The custom is to rinse the utensils in cold water after their immersion in boiling water.
Marble counters are koshered by pouring boiling water (from the original pot in which the water was boiled) over them. If one is afraid that they will be ruined by boiling water, he should wrap them in aluminum foil or plastic after cleaning them thoroughly, and this suffices. Similarly, sinks in which dirty dishes are placed for washing are koshered by pouring boiling water over them. Some have the practice, as an extra degree of piety, to line their sinks with plastic "sinks" (basins) throughout Pesah, and those who do so are deserving of blessing. An electric hot plate is koshered, as well, by pouring boiling water over it, though, as an extra degree of piety, it is preferable to line it with aluminum foil. An electric refrigerator is koshered by thoroughly rinsing it with cold water, and no hot water is needed, as is the case regarding utensils used for making seltzer.
Tables used for eating hamess throughout the year with a tablecloth do not need koshering at all, and one merely needs to wash it thoroughly and cover it with a new cloth. If it was used during the year without a tablecloth, then the custom is to kosher it by pouring boiling water over it (from the original pot in which the water was boiled). If one is afraid that the table would be ruined, then he may just clean it thoroughly and place a new cloth on it.
THE GOLDEN COLUMN
Rabbi Moshe Alshich zs"l On Thursday, 13 Nissan, 5360, the saintly Rabbi Moshe Alshich passed away in Sefat. He was known especially for his important works on Tanach. He was also a popular orator, and the Ar"i, who listened to Rabbi Moshe's speeches, testified that he reached the ultimate truth in Torah.
In his work, "Madregat Ha'adam," the "Saba" of Nevarduk zs"l tells that once the Alshich spoke of the great quality of trust in Hashem. A digger was so inspired by this talk that he decided he wouldn't go to work anymore.
Rather, he sat in the Bet Midrash and recited Tehillim. Having no choice, his wife rented out the donkey and carriage to an Arab who would dig and give her half his salary. The Arab left the city, dug, and found a hidden treasure. He placed it on the carriage and covered it with dirt. He returned to the dig to see if there were anymore riches, only to be killed by an avalanche. After waiting for a long time, the donkey eventually turned around and returned to its owner's house. The entire city of Sefat was shocked when, suddenly, this digger was among the wealthiest men in the city. His trust in the Al-mighty proved itself beyond anyone's expectations.
The Alshich's students turned to him and asked, "We learn Torah diligently, we have been studying your Torah for years, we have heard your talks about faith, and yet, none of us have had such an experience. This digger, a simple, 'Tehillim Jew,' hears just one talk, and suddenly has reached such a level of faith that he is deserving of such a miracle?! How could this be?" Their great rabbi answered, "My talk about faith is like a nail, which I try to drive like with a hammer into the hearts of my audience. But, what can I do, your hearts are like sand, and the nail goes in so easily. But, once it is in, it is not held tightly. But the heart of this simple Jew is like a stone. And once the nail has penetrated the stone it is implanted there permanently. His faith was therefore so strong that he was deserving of such a miracle!
FROM THE WELLSPRINGS OF THE PARASHAH
Hazal tell us that the word, "sav," command, implies specific zeal and meticulous observance regarding which Moshe had to remind Aharon and the kohanim. The Or Hahayim zs"l explains that since the daily sacrifice ("korban tamid") was the first sacrifice offered each day, it may happen on occasion that at the time when it is to be sacrificed no sheep will be available yet, as happened during the time of siege of Jerusalem. Therefore, the kohanim had to be reminded not to sacrifice any korbanot before the korban tamid even in such a situation. This serves as a lesson for all time, that one does not have the right to make his own arrangements in the performance of misvot. Rather, he must subject his will to that of the Torah.
"On loaves of hamess-bread he shall sacrifice [the thanksgiving offering]"
Generally speaking, no hamess was allowed to be brought as a sacrifice. Only with regard to the korban todah (thanksgiving offering) did the Torah require hamess, as ten loaves of regular bread were brought with thirty massot. They were not offered on the mizbe'ah. Rather, one of every ten was given to the kohen and the rest was eaten by the individual offering the sacrifice. Rav Ovadiah Seforno zs"l explains that hamess represents the evil inclinations which swells one's temptations like yeast in dough. One who brings the korban todah expresses his gratitude over having been saved from danger, and so he is reminded that the danger evolved as a result of his sin, which was caused by his yesser hara.
"And the fire of the mizbe'ah should burn in it"
It is told that when the author of "Imrei Emet," one of the celebrated rebbes of Ger, zs"l, was a five-year-old student, he asked his teacher, why does the Torah write that the fire of the mizbe'ah should burn "in it"?
Shouldn't it have written, "upon it"?
The teacher did not know the answer and told the boy to ask his father, the author of "Sefat Emet" zs"l. The father asked his son, "What do you think the answer is?" The child answered, "I thought that the expression actually refers to the kohen, meaning that the fire should burn within him, that the misvah should shine and burn in all its force and warmth within the heart of the kohen!"
FROM THE WONDERS OF CREATION
The Tale of Two Customers
It is told that the rabbi of Kuneshtat zs"l, one of the Roshei Yeshivah of Yeshivat Kol Torah, wanted to purchase a hat. He entered a hat shop in Yerushalayim and found it empty. The owner had left his desk for a few minutes, so the rabbi stood and waited for him to return. Suddenly, a secular Jew entered the store. He was very cold and needed a hat to keep his head warm. He looked around, saw the rabbi, and asked, "Are you the owner of the store? I need a hat. What do you have to offer?" The rabbi told him, "Look around, pick out what you want, and take. There is no owner here." The man was amazed. "What do you mean? How can I just take a hat? Who is the owner of the store?" "It belongs to nobody," responded the rabbi. "Do you see the dust? The air is full of dust, right? The dust came together into blocks of solid. Some of it took the form of hats, some of it turned into boxes, of all different colors, and this is what you see around you. It all happened by itself; it doesn't belong to anybody."
The man was rather perplexed. "Listen, I don't know you, but you look like a very respectable man," he said. "But from the way you are talking, I am sorry to say, I think you need some treatment. What are you talking about - dust collecting together, turning by itself into hats - are you normal?"
The rabbi was not insulted one bit. To the contrary, he expressed further interest in what the other had to say. "Really?" he cried. "I need help when I claim that the store came into existence by itself, by chance. And you, who believe that the entire world was brought into existence in this way, what about you? If you declared my insanity because of what I said about one store, what about the entire universe? But, you are right, the owner of the store is coming. You should know, that soon enough you will stand before the owner of the world, as well."
The Repaid Debt (10)
Flashback: A Jew from a remote village saved young Naftali who was being brought to the capital city to stand trial for having injured a general during a rock-throwing game. The man reserved the storage room on the outskirts of his property for the boy who stayed there studying Torah day and night. As Naftali reached adulthood, the man asked his daughter if she would agree to marry the boy, and she expressed her consent.
The host made his way to the small cabin on the other side of the yard and heard the sweet sound of Torah, a resonating voice filled with excitement and emotion, the boy's voice which did not stop day or night. The man warmly knocked on the door and asked if he could interrupt for a brief moment. He emotionally spoke to the boy, who lifted his head from his book, and said, "The Sages are in dispute as to whether a person should learn Torah before getting married or vice-versa. Regarding somebody like you, however, there is no dispute. You will learn before and after the wedding.
I have a daughter who is ready to be married. I will be honored to have you as my son-in-law. You may continue to learn as you please, as this is also the desire of my daughter. You will be supported by my table, as long as Hashem blesses me and takes care of my needs."
To his surprise, the young man did not respond. He kept quiet for a long moment. Finally, he answered, "I cannot give you an answer right now - "
"I understand," interrupted the man, "after all, Hazal say that one may not betroth a woman until he sees her. My daughter is waiting in the house. You can come in and speak with her. If you do not want to come now, then please tell me when."
The young man's face became even more intense and was confused. "No, this is not what I had in mind. I need time to think about the proposal even before I meet your daughter. Do not think at all that I have any doubt regarding her qualities and I owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude. But do not pressure me, give me some time to think it over."
The host was very surprised and even a bit insulted. "Very well," he said, "I will come back tomorrow."
to be continued...
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Holy Bodies (part I)
Aaron: Perhaps their minds or Souls became holy, but not their bodies.
Mr. Goodfriend: "They shall eat meat on this night" (Shemot 12:8). This was the first time in history that any offering to G-d was eaten by men.
Hitherto, no men were holy enough that their bodies should be worthy of consuming the flesh of the offerings, and therefore all the offerings had been Olot, which were consumed by the fire on the altar,. "Noah erected an altar to the L-rd...and he brought up burnt-offerings (Olot) on the altar" (Beresheet 8:20). Isaac said: "Where is the lamb for the burnt-offering (Olah)?" (ibid., 22:7). But in Egypt, at the Exodus, they received G-d's commandment of the Pesah offering, and they therefore became physically holy. The blood of the Pesah was not put on an altar, as with all other offerings, but on the doorposts and the lintels of the Israelites' dwellings, for henceforth the homes of the holy nation were sacred. The flesh was consumed in the bodies of the holy people, for their bodies are tantamount to a holy altar.
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