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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Tzav

Chometz...The Yetzer Hora

"What are you mixing in that bowl, Imma?"

"A cake batter, Leah."

"What's in the batter, Imma?"

"Flour, water, eggs, sugar, oil, and some baking powder to make it rise."

"It doesn't look like very much batter, Imma. It must be a small cake."

"It is going to be a big cake, Leah dear. Just wait and see."

Leah's mother finishes mixing the batter and pours it into a baking pan. It fills up less than half of the pan. She slides it into the oven and switches on the heat. Soon, a delicious aroma spreads through the kitchen.

"Mmmm. That smells so good Imma. Is it done yet?"

"It will be ready in about ten minutes, Leah."

Finally, Leah's mother opens the oven door.

"Wow, the cake is so huge! It even rose over the sides of the pan! How did that happen, Imma?"

"The secret ingredient is the baking powder. It makes the cake rise. Our Sages refer to it as the se'or she'bi'eesa, the leaven in the batter."

"Really? What do they say about it"

"It tries to stop us from serving Hashem."

"I don't understand, Imma. What does baking powder have to do with serving Hashem?"

"I will explain the whole subject, Leah. You noticed that a small amount of cake batter rose to make a big cake. There is actually very little flour in that big cake. The se'or she'bi'eesa pumps it up to a much bigger size. Our Sages (Gemora Berachos 17a) compare it to the Yetzer Hora.

"Rebbe Alexandre would say after every prayer, 'Master of the Universe! You know that we want to do Your Will. What holds us back? The se'or she'bi'eesa.' Rashi comments that this is the Yetzer Hora. The Maharsha explains how it works. For a person to serve Hashem properly, he is supposed to take the middle path, using his middos (character traits) and his desires in moderation. Along comes the Yetzer Hora and convinces him to 'pump them up' and go to the extreme. 'Overindulge your desires,' he says. In this way, he pulls a person away from Hashem, and sends him drowning in the pool of his desires. 'Be overly picky about unimportant things,' he whispers. He inflates them and exaggerates their importance. Just the same as leaven blows up a cake, making the main ingredient - the flour - look like much more than it really is."


"There is actually a reference to this subject in this week's parasha, Leah. The Torah teaches the Kohanim how to offer up the mincha (grain) offerings. It commands them, 'Do not bake (the grain into) chometz' (Vayikra 6:10). The Chasam Sofer explains that it is not fitting for the holy Kohanim to eat this food, which represents bad middos."

"I never realized the true nature of chometz, Imma. What can we do about it?"

"We must destroy the Yetzer Hora. That is what Pesach cleaning is all about. Pesach is called z'man cheiruseinu, the time of our freedom. Hashem gives us special Siyata Di'Shmaya (Heavenly Assistance) to free ourselves from the Yetzer Hora on Pesach. However, we must do our part. We must destroy the chometz. This physical destruction of leaven symbolizes the spiritual annihilation of the Yetzer Hora."

"I'm ready, Imma. Let's get on with the cleaning for Pesach and wipe out the Yetzer Hora!"

Kinderlach . . .

There are two sides to Pesach cleaning. Did you find cookie crumbs under the sofa? Do they remind you of the time when you overindulged, ate too many cookies, and got a tummy ache? Did you find some pretzels in your coat pocket? Do they remind you of the time when you twisted the truth, just as those pretzels are twisted? Did you find breadcrumbs under the bookshelves? Do they remind you of the time when you rushed through the Bircas Ha'mazone to run outside to play? Do teshuva! Destroy those aveyros and the Yetzer Hora that caused them! Clean up your houses and souls for Pesach!

The Great Shabbos

"Avi, this Shabbos is 'The Great Shabbos.'"

"Isn't every Shabbos great, Daddy?"

"It surely is, Avi. Shabbos is the 'os', the sign that Hashem gave us, His people. Every Shabbos, we refrain from melacha, and by doing so we demonstrate that He created the universe."

"What could be greater than that?"

"True, Avi. However, this Shabbos is especially great. This is the Shabbos before we left Mitzrayim. The Auruch HaShulchan explains that the miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim show how Hashem controls everything in the world with His hashgacha (supervision). This goes hand in hand with Shabbos - He created the world and He guides it. Therefore, this Shabbos is called Godol, because it demonstrates Hashem's Gadlus, His Greatness, in both creating and directing the world."

"Fascinating! Are there any other reasons for the name Shabbos HaGodol?"

"Yes, there are. Great miracles occurred on this Shabbos, the final one before we left Mitzrayim. Hashem commanded that each household take a lamb for their Korbon Pesach and tie it to the bedpost."

"The Mitzrim must have been furious, Daddy. The lamb was their sacred animal."

"They were livid, Avi, and that is where the miracle comes in. They did not attack the Jews, all they did was ask them what they planned to do with the lambs. When the Bnei Yisrael answered that they would slaughter them for the Korbon Pesach, the Mitzrim's teeth became blunted. They could not answer back."


"That is not all, Avi. The bechoros (first born males) asked the Bnei Yisrael why they were binding the lambs. They answered that The Almighty was going to kill the bechoros in Mitzrayim. Instead of attacking Bnei Yisrael, they went to Paroh and demanded that he free the Jewish slaves. When he refused, they made a war and killed many Mitzrim."

"That is a big miracle."

"That's right. That's why they call this day Shabbos HaGodol, Avi. Because nissim gedolim (great miracles) happened on it." "May we see more in our days!"

"Amen. That is the subject of today's haftorah, the prophecy of the coming of Eliyahu HaNavi. He will inform us of the final geula (redemption). That day is referred to as 'the great and fearful day,' when we will see miracles greater than those of Yetzias Mitzrayim. May it come speedily and in our days."


Kinderlach . . .

Shabbos HaGadol is truly a Great Shabbos. We mark the day with a special haftorah and minhagim. Some have the custom to recite the Haggadah, in preparation for the Seder. The Rav delivers a drasha before the congregation on the subject of the halachos of Pesach, and inspiring Aggados about the upcoming days. Appreciate the greatness of Shabbos HaGadol, kinderlach. We are on our way to having a truly great Pesach.

Parasha Questions:

Where is the korbon chattos shechted? (6:18)

What do we do with an earthen vessel that was used to cook a korbon chattos, and why? (6:21 and Rashi)

Who gets the skin of the korbon olah? (7:8)

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