Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 14   No. 24

This issue is sponsored by
the Intract Family
l'iluy Nishmos
Yosef b'R. Yitzchak ha'Levi z.l.
Ve'R'eiaso Rachel bas R. Zev a.h.

Parshas Tzav
(Shabbos Ha'Gadol)

The Five Korbanos

The Parshah opens with many general Halachos in connection with the five basic Korbanos, which it begins with the words "Zos Toras ha'Olah" (6:2) ... "Zos Toras ha'Minchah" (6:7) ... "Zos Toras ha'Chatas" (6:18) ... "Zos Toras ha'Asham" (6:7:1) ... & "Zos Toras Zevach ha'Shelamim" (7:11), respectively. The Pasuk changes the order here from the order in Vayikra (Olah, Shelamim, Minchah, Chatas, Asham), switching Shelamim from second place to the end. The reason for this, the commentaries explain, is because whereas there the Torah begins with the voluntary offerings (to which category Shelamim belongs), here it opts to begin with the Korbanos that are Kodesh Kodshim, (to which it does not).

Presumably, the reason for the change of priorities is due to the fact that in Vayikra, the Torah is discussing the initial designation of the animal (where the motive plays a prominent role); whereas here, it is discussing the details that pertain to the actual sacrificing. Consequently, the sanctity of the animal is more significant than the motive for bringing it.


The Gemara in Menachos (110a) comments that whoever studies the Parshah of Chatas or of Asham (with its respective Dinim [Rabeinu Bachye]), it is considered as if he had actually brought the Korban. The Torah Temimah refutes the contention that studying the Parshah replaces the need to bring the Korban, even nowadays, when bringing it is not actually possible. And he proves his point from the Gemara in Shabbos (12a), which cites the story of R. Yishmael ben Elisha, who after inadvertently turning up the wick on Shabbos, wrote in his diary that, when the Beis-Hamikdash would be built, he would bring a Chatas. Indeed, the Gemara in Yuma (80a) actually obligates someone who eats Cheilev be'Shogeg to do that. Now surely, if learning about a Korban eliminates the need to bring it, why would that have been necessary?

He therefore suggests that the Gemara is merely lauding someone who studies the Korbanos, and assuring him of a great reward, over and above what he would receive for learning a blat Gemara, but the obligation to bring the Korban remains.


It seems to me however, that this can be compared to someone who, unsure as to whether he is obligated to bring a Chatas or not, must bring an Asham Taluy. That Asham Taluy, Chazal explain, tides the 'sinner' over temporarily, shielding him from any punishment. The moment however, he discovers that he is actually guilty, he becomes obligated to bring a Chatas.

Likewise nowadays, when a person who cannot bring the Chatas that he is obligated to bring, studies its Halochos, it will protect him in the interim. It will not however, exempt him from bringing the actual Korban, once the Beis-Hamikdash is standing.

Proof of this lies in the Gemara in Megilah (31b [which the Torah Temimah actually quotes, and]) which cites Avraham Avinu who asked Hashem that, since, as He had just informed him, Yisrael's existence depended upon the institution of Korbanos, what would happen when the Beis-Hamikdash was destroyed and they were sent into Galus? To which Hashem replied that if they would only study the Korbanos, He would forgive them their sins *as if they had actually brought them*.


The Chasam Sofer queries the Tamei men in Parshas Beha'aloscha, who were given the alternative of Pesach Sheini after they complained of not being able to bring the Pesach Rishon. Why did they not sit and learn the Halachos of the Korban Pesach, which would be considered as if they had actually brought it?

Evidently, the Chasam disagrees with the Torah Temimah. In his opinion, when the Gemara in Menachos states that whoever studies the Parshah of Chatas or of Asham, it is considered as if he had actually brought the Korban, it can be taken quite literally.


Irrespective of how we interpret the Gemara in Menachos, the Ba'al ha'Turim, citing the Gemara's D'rashah, explains that just as the Korbanos are described as 'fire-offerings' (Bamidbar 28:2), so too, is the Torah compared to fire (Yirmiyah 23:29). Moreover, he says, both the Torah and the Korbanos are referred to as 'bread' - Mishlei 9:5 & Bamidbar (Ibid.). Clearly, Chazal are placing Korbanos on a par Torah on the whole.


Interestingly, the same Gemara in Menachos that we discussed earlier, issues a parallel statement, in connection with the Pasuk later (7:37) "Zos ha'Torah, la'Olah, la'Minchah, ve'la'Chatas, ve'la'Asham ... u'le'Zevach ha'Shelamim". But on this Pasuk the Gemara states that whoever studies Torah does not require an Olah, a Minchah, a Chatas or an Asham.

This time, Chazal are placing Torah-study on a par with the institution of Korbanos. (cont.)

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

When Times Are Tough

"Command Aharon and his sons saying 'This is the law of the Olah ... " (6:2).

R. Shimon says that the Pasuk needs to warn particularly there where there is a loss (i.e. a shortage) of money.


Taking the matter out of context, the S'fas Emes relates this to the hard times in Galus, where our oppressors interfere with our livelihood, leaving us without the means to support ourselves. (Tragically, in recent times, we have witnessed this scenario even here in Eretz Yisrael, at the hand of our fellow-Jews.) At that point, keeping the Torah and observing the Mitzvos is tied up with bitter trials and temptations, resulting from the worries of not having bread to put on the table.

And it is with regard to times such as these that the Torah sees fit to issue a special warning to strengthen ourselves and to stand firm.


Pride Comes Before a Fire

"This is the burnt-offering that goes on the fire (hi ho'Oloh al mokdoh) on the Mizbei'ach all night until the morning" (Ibid.)

Playing on the words 'hi ho'Oloh al mokdoh', the Medrash interprets them to mean that someone who is haughty will be judged in fire.

The commentaries connect this with the fact that the Olah comes to atone for sinful thoughts, which in turn, are largely synonymous with arrogance, whose roots lie in one's mind. Hence the Torah says that someone who indulges in thoughts of pride ("hi ho'Olah") will be judged with fire ("Al mokdah").


R. Heshel puts it like this: In explaining why pride is such a terrible sin, our sages describe it as the 'cloak with which Hashem wraps Himself', and it is not becoming for a human-being to wrap Himself in Hashem's Cloak.

Consequently, we challenge the one who has the audacity to wrap in Hashem's Cloak, placing himself on a par with Hashem (Kevayachol) to go and stand in His vicinity. And seeing as Hashem in His Pride is termed 'a Fire that consumes fire', his (that person's) end is a foregone conclusion.


Internal Enthusiasm


According to the Kotzker Rebbe, the word "Mokdah" hints (not at the punishment that is due to the arrogant, but) at fire that burns within the heart of a Yid, to serve G-d. Indeed, another Gadol once said, that this is precisely what the Torah means when it writes in this very same Pasuk "and the fire of the Mizbei'ach (i.e. of Avodas Hashem) shall burn "bo" (inside him, inside the Kohen [with reference to Aharon and his sons, mentioned at the beginning of the Pasuk]).

And that, the Kotzker Rebbe adds, explains the small 'Mem' in the word "Mokdah", to teach us that the fire should burn (unseen so to speak) inside the person, and not outside, for all to see, as was the way of the Kotzker Rebbe himself, who was all fire inside, but nothing of his Avodah showed externally.

And that is how some commentaries explain Rashi, who on the Pasuk at the beginning of Beha'aloscha (with reference to Aharon kindling the Menorah) "And Aharon did so" ... comments 'to teach us the praise of Aharon who did not change'.

And what is so praiseworthy about that? What else would one expect from Aharon ha'Kohen, they ask?

What Rashi means, they answer, is that Aharon did what Hashem commanded him, without the least external movement or change of facial expression. Because the overwhelming excitement, enthusiasm and love with which he performed the Mitzvos were completely internal, and not for the public eye.


Placing with Care

" ... and he (the Kohen) shall remove the ashes of the Olah that the fire consumed on the Mizbei'ach. and place them ("ve'somo") beside the Mizbei'ach" (6:3).

"ve'somo", the Toras Kohanim extrapolates ... 'gently'.

"ve'somo" ...'all of it".

"ve'somo" ... 'without scattering it'.

The difference between the two words 'nesinah' and 'simah' (both of which mean 'placing'), says the K'sav ve'ha'Kabalah, is that whereas 'nesinah' refers to placing in a haphazard manner, 'simah' implies placing in an orderly fashion.

And to prove his point, he cites the Pasuk in Pikudei "va'yitein es berichov, va'Yosem es keroshov" (and he placed the bolts and put the planks in place). The five bolts on each side were all equal and could be placed anywhere, hence the Torah uses the word "va'yitein"; whereas in connection with the planks, each of which had to be placed in its allotted location, the Torah writes "va'yosem".



"And he (the Kohen) shall remove his clothes, and put on other clothes, and he shall take out the ashes to a location outside the camp ... " (6:4).

One does not pour out the wine for one's master wearing the same clothes with which one cooked for him, Rashi explains. By the same token, says the Maharsha in Shabbos (114), commenting on the Gemara there, one should not wear the same clothes on Shabbos as one wore for cooking on Erev Shabbos' - a hint to wearing special clothes on Shabbos.


Up Down, All Around

"His hands shall bring it (the Shelamim) ... the Cheilev on the chest ... to wave it ("le'honif oso") as a wave-offering before Hashem" (7:30).

The numerical value of "le'honif oso"), says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'Molech u'meivi, ma'aleh u'morid' (he waves it in all four direction, up and down), which is precisely what the Kohen did with it.


And what's more, he adds, the word 'Tenufah' appears in this Parshah three times, once with an extra 'Hey' (ha'Tenufah), and the word 'Terumah', twice; hinting at the four directions and at up and down, respectively.

* * *


'And the fire shall burn on the Mizbei'ach, do not extinguish it. And the Kohen shall burn on it wood each morning, *before the end of the fourth hour*; he shall arrange on it the Olah (the burnt-offering) and burn on it the fat-pieces of the Shelamim (the peace-offering') 6:5.


' ... Any earthenware vessel in which it (the Chatas [the sin-offering]) is cooked, shall be broken, in order that one does not come to cook Chulin in it; whereas if it is cooked in a copper pot, it shall be scrubbed (or dried) with earth and rinsed with water' (6:21).


'His hands shall bring the Korban of Hashem, from which he shall separate the fat that is on the chest together with the chest, after it has been severed (from the animal) together with four ribs, two on either side of the area that is in the vicinity of the neck; (then) he shall bring them in order to wave them as a wave-offering before Hashem' (7:30).


'And he shall pour some of the anointing-oil on the head of Aharon, and he shall anoint him, *after having dressed him to sanctify him'* (8:12).


'And Moshe Shechted the bull (of the Chatas) and he took the blood and placed it on the 'horns' of the Mizbei'ach round-about with his finger; and he anointed the Mizbei'ach (to purify it) from all theft and extortion, because he suspected that perhaps the princes of Yisrael took gifts from their brothers by force, which they subsequently used for the service of the Mishkan. Or perhaps members of B'nei Yisrael who had no intention of donating for the Avodah (and did so) only when they heard the announcement, (because) they were afraid (not to donate), so they brought it unwillingly. Therefore, he purified it (the Mizbei'ach) with the blood of the bull ... ' (8:15).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 302:
The Korban Omer of Barley

In addition to the Korban Musaf that one brings throughout Pesach, there is a Mitzvah on the second day of Pesach, to bring a lamb in its first year as a burnt-offering, and an Omer (i.e. one tenth of an Eifah [one Eifah = three Sa'ah]) of barley, known as 'the Omer of the wave-offering', as the Torah writes in Emor (23:10) " ... and you shall bring the Omer, the first of your harvest, to the Kohen. And he shall wave the Omer ... on the day after Shabbos" (which Unklus translates as 'the day after Yom-Tov'), by which he means the second day of Pesach, seeing as the previous Parshah talks about the first day of Pesach. And the Pasuk continues "And you shall prepare on the day that you wave the Omer, an unblemished lamb in its first year ... ". This Korban is also called 'Minchas Bikurim', and is hinted in Vayikra "ve'Im takriv Minchas Bikurim la'Hashem, Aviv Koluy bo'eish". The Mechilta explains that although generally, the word "Im", implies 'voluntarily', this is one of the three exceptions, where it means 'obligatory', for so the Pasuk concludes "you shall bring the Minchah of your first-fruit", implying that one is obliged to bring it.

Here is how the Minchah is brought: One brings three Sa'ah of (freshly-cut) barley, which, after being sifted in thirteen sieves, produces one Sa'ah. The rest, which is redeemed, may be eaten by anybody. It is subject to Chalah, but exempt from Ma'asros. One takes the remaining (Sa'ah) of flour and mixes it with a Lug of oil, before sprinkling on it a fistful of frankincense (like one does by every Minchah); The Kohen then waves it on the east side of the Azarah, in all four directions, up and down, before taking it to the south-western Keren ('horn') of the Mizbei'ach, just like other Menachos. He then takes a fistful ('Kemitzah'), which he burns on the Mizbei'ach. The remainder of the Minchah is eaten by the Kohanim, like the remainder of all Menachos.

A reason for the Mitzvah ... is to prompt us to reflect about the great Chesed that Hashem performs with His creatures, to provide them each year with a new set of crops for their sustenance, and it is befitting that we bring Him some of those crops as a reminder of this, before partaking of them ourselves. And now that, by virtue of our good deeds before Him, we earned His blessings, our produce will indeed be blessed, and the will of Hashem, who, in His abundant goodness, wants to do good to us, will be fulfilled. The reason that we are commanded to fulfill this Mitzvah on the second day of Pesach, rather than the first, is in order not to fuse one Simchah with another - the first Simchah being the commemoration of the great miracle, in that G-d took us out from slavery to freedom, and from grief to joy.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah ...The Gemara states in Menachos (64b) that the Mitzvah of the Omer is to bring barley, not wheat, spelt, oats or rye, and that it should be brought from the location close to Yerushalayim that is the first to ripen. In the event that no crops close to Yerushalayim have ripened, one brings crops from any other location in Eretz Yisrael ... It is a Mitzvah to cut the Omer on the night of the sixteenth, irrespective of whether it falls on a weekday or on Shabbos. And ideally speaking, it should be moist, so that its ripeness is visible to the eye ... All the local residents gather there, in order to harvest it with pomp and ceremony. And all this, to encourage us to acknowledge Hashem's kindness, via our actions and the accompanying joy (as we explained) The three Sa'ah of barley are cut by three men, with three boxes and three scythes ... The moment night falls, the man designated to cut the Omer asks those who are assembled there 'Has the sun set?', and they answer 'Yes!'; 'Has the sun set?', and they answer 'Yes!'; 'Has the sun set?', and they answer 'Yes!' He then asks them 'Is this a scythe?', and they answer 'Yes!'; 'Is this a scythe?', and they answer 'Yes!'; 'Is this a scythe?', and they answer 'Yes!'. Likewise, he asks them three times 'Is this a box?' and 'Shall I proceed to reap?', to which they reply each time 'Yes!'. Why is all this necessary, one may ask? It is to preclude the erroneous opinion of the Tzedokim, who maintained that the Omer had to be brought on Sunday, because, according to them, when the Torah writes "on the day after Shabbos", it means, not on the sixteenth of Nisan, but on Sunday (though which Sunday remains unclear) ... and the remaining details, are discussed in the tenth chapter of Menachos (and in the Rambam, Hilchos Temidin u'Musafin, chapter 7).

This Mitzvah applies when the Beis-Hamikdash stands, to males, even Yisre'eilim, who are no less obligated than Kohanim to become involved in it, for, as the Gemara in Menachos states, the emissaries of Beis-Din go out to the fields already on Erev Yom-Tov and prepare sheaves (still attached to the ground) to be cut the following night. The main Mitzvah however, is the bringing, the waving, taking it to the Mizbei'ach, taking the fistful and burning, all of which are performed by Kohanim. Nevertheless, seeing as all of Yisrael play a role in the Mitzvah, and what's more the foundation of the Mitzvah concerns the renewal of the barley crops, which concerns everybody, the author sees fit to place it in the category of Mitzvos which are incumbent upon all of Yisrael.

* * *

This issue is sponsored by the Glassman, Schwartz and Chernick Families
Jerusalem - Efrat - Netnya - Jo'burg - Toronto - Harare - Perth
L'Iluy Nishmos Dov ben Tuvia & Shimmi Schwartz z.l.
by an anonymous sponsor

Pesach (1)

The Order of the Seider


To explain the basic differences between the nightly Mitzvah of Zechirah and tonight's Mitzvah of Sipur (or Hagadah), R. Chayim Brisk lists three distinct specifications that are inherent in the term 'Sipur': 1. It must be conveyed through questions and answers; 2. One needs to commence with Yisrael's initial degradation, before leading on to Hashem's praise; 3. Discussing the reasons for the main Mitzvos are an integral part of the Mitzvah.


The question is asked why we need to relate the details of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, when in effect, we know them already? The Malbim ascribes this to the fact that the basic Mitzvah of Sipur Yetzi'as Mitzrayim is to pass it on to our children. This is certainly true to a certain extent (as is borne out by so many things that we do in the course of the Seider); yet if this was the only reason, then why is someone who has no children at the Seider-table obligated to ask the same 'Mah Nishtanah' as a child would have done, and then to present the Hagadah in the form of an answer to his own questions? Surely he knows it all already and to repeat it all would be meaningless?


According to the Maharal, the basis of Pesach is Hakaras ha'Tov (gratitude), which, he explains, is the prerequisite to Torah (which is why Pesach precedes Shavu'os). That being the case, the Seider with all its details is our way of thanking Hashem for all that He did for us at the time of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim. And not only do thanks need to be expressed, but the extent of one's 'Thank you' increases with the extent of the kindness that one received. Bearing in mind the endless stream of miracles that G-d wrought on our behalf at that time, Chazal's statement 'The more one relates the events of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, the better', is hardly surprising.

Looking at it from a different angle, perhaps one can also say that knowledge is in the brain, and on Pesach, the anniversary of our birth as a nation (which was the result of the miraculous events that took place then), the Torah wants us to transmit the knowledge to our hearts ("Ve'yoda'to ha'yom, va'hasheivoso el levovecho" [from the intellect to the emotions]), in order to become emotionally involved in the proceedings, to stimulate the realization that it is not only our fathers, but us, who left Egypt (as Chazal require us to do).

What we just wrote will help to shed light on paragraphs 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 & 26-29.

* * *



After one arrives from Shul, the Seider, as always, begins with Kidush. Indeed, it is befitting that one opens the proceedings by declaring the day holy.



One of Chazal's interpretations of 'Lechem Oni' (one of the Torah's descriptions of Matzah) is 'Lechem she'onin olov devorim harbeh' (bread over which many words are said, with reference ofcourse, to the Hagadah). So it is appropriate to begin the Seider with 'Ho Lachmo Anyo', which discusses the Matzah, and (bearing in mind that Matzah represents the redemption), the future Ge'ulah. When the Beis-Hamikdash stood, the Seider revolved around the Korban Pesach, but today, when unfortunately, we have no Beis-Hamikdash, it revolves around the Matzah instead.



It is a well-known educational fact that the best way of transmitting knowledge is by way of questions and answers. The Torah itself, when referring to the three more knowledgeable sons, presents the various levels of explanation following the questions posed by the child (though age is not a criterion). So what better prelude to the Hagadah could there be than the four questions, as conveyed by the Torah?



(Physical Degradation)

The opening phrase of Magid, this contains in a nutshell the essence of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim and why we are conducting a Seider. According to one opinion, it also constitutes the physical degradation with which we are obligated to begin the Hagadah; and he gives precedence to this opinion (over the opinion mentioned in 9), because the Gemara mentions it first (even though chronologically, the order ought to have been inverted.And that in turn is a. because of the reason that we presented at the beginning of the paragraph and b. because the latter opinion is the perfect introduction to the paragraphs that follow.

Yet before elaborating on the details of the Hagadah, the Ba'al Hagadah wants first to convey the extent of our obligation, as well as the method, the time and other factors concerning the Mitzvah, as the subsequent paragraphs will prove. And he adds that we are all personally obligated, because, as he explains, were it not for the miracles that took place then, we would still be there. This leads to the obvious conclusion that we are not just celebrating a historical event, but are participating in a personal thanksgiving celebration.



This proves that the obligation to relate the story of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim really does extend to even the wisest and most knowledgeable, because if it was not an obligation, merely relating the story would be deemed Bitul Torah (a waste of time) for such great Torah-scholars.



This paragraph teaches us that it will not suffice just to mention Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, since this is something that we are obligated to do every night. The Mitzvah of Sipur Yetzi'as Mitzrayim on this night, must therefore be more extensive and must be presented in a different format, as we explained in the introduction.



Now the Ba'al Hagadah teaches us that tonight, not only does one need to elaborate on the nightly mention of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, but that one needs to explain it according to the knowledge and the maturity of the son who is (or who is not) asking. And he gives a rough idea as to how one must answer each son in the way that is most beneficial.



This paragraph teaches us that the Mitzvah of Hagadah applies, not on (or starting from) Rosh Chodesh (when G-d first informed Moshe about the Seider), or even from the time that one Shechts the Korban Pesach earlier in the day, but at the Seider exclusively.



(Spiritual Degradation):

The Ba'al Hagadah added this to accommodate the opinion that requires us to begin Magid, not with our physical degradation, but with our spiritual decline. This automatically leads us to mention Avraham Avinu (who chose a different path than that of his father Terach), and the other Avos, who followed in his footsteps. And it was to them that Hashem initially promised that He would take us out of Mitzrayim when the time came. And that is the Ba'al Hagadah's cue to continue ...



(The B'ris Bein ha'Besarim):

This promise was not confined to Galus Mitzrayim, but extended into the future. It was a declaration of the eternity of the Jewish people. And that is why we continue ...



The promise that, just as we survived Paroh, so too, will we survive all the nations that attempt to destroy us. They will perish, but Yisrael will live on.


12. TZEI U'L'MAD ...

(The First Attempted Genocide):

The first person who attempted genocide, as the Ba'al Hagadah explains, was Lavan. So we now discuss a Pasuk in Ki Savo in connection with Bikurim (which is also said as an expression of thanksgiving), which not only begins with the mention of Lavan and his intentions, but which describes Yisrael's journey to Egypt, their sufferings and reactions (in considerable detail), and Hashem's response. And we comment on that Pasuk, phrase by phrase. Incidentally, these six short paragraphs incorporate all the nine merits on account of which Hashem took our ancestors out of Egypt (see footnote).

(The Galus begins) The current paragraph begins with Lavan's attempt to commit genocide, and then Yisrael's descent to Egypt and their settling in Goshen. Then comes ...



(The Cure Before the Stroke - Becoming a Nation):

The growth of Yisrael from seventy to 600, 000 x 5 (bearing in mind that four fifths of the people died during the plague of darkness), and that's not counting the women, the tribe of Levi, or the large segment of Efrayim that left Egypt thirty years before the Exodus.



(The Slavery begins):



(The Slavery Intensifies):

The basic slavery turns into affliction.

Note, that whilst elaborating briefly on each of these headings (drawn from the Pasuk in Ki Savo, as we explained), the Ba'al Hagadah illustrates his statements with quotations from Pesukim, drawn from both Chumash and T'nach.



(Prayer: The Catalyst of Redemption) :

Our fathers cried out to Hashem and He heard their cries.



(Hashem Responds):

Our cries and Hashem's response in greater detail.



(It Gets Worse before it Gets better):

The greatest horror of all - the killing of the Jewish babies, and the harsh oppression, the catalysts that sparked off the Divine response, perhaps more than any of the other cruel acts perpetrated by the Egyptians.



(The Smiting of the Firstborn - The Straw that Broke the Camel's back):

The Exodus begins, marked by the tenth plague, the killing of the Egyptian firstborn.



(The Plagues in More Detail):

And then, as an alternative interpretation of the phrase "be'yad chazakah u'vi'zero'a netuyah ... ", the Ba'al Hagadah discusses the Ten Plagues.



(K'ri'as Yam-Suf);

The Tana'im now elaborate on the intensity of the plagues, each one presenting his view of what each of the plagues comprised, and that whatever it was, the Egyptians suffered five times more at the Yam-Suf than they did during the Ten Plagues; just as a hand comprises five fingers.


24. ILU HOTZI'ONU MI'MITZRAYIM (Acknowledging Hashem's Miracles):

Enumerating each of the fifteen major miracles that G-d wrought on our behalf during the period of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, for which we are indebted to Hashem.



How much more so now that we experienced all fifteen.



(Our Obligations on Leil ha'Seider):

However much we discuss Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, we will not fulfill our obligation without discussing the reasons behind (the Korban) Pesach, Matzah and Maror.



(Internalizing the Redemption):

And finally, the Ba'al Hagadah stresses that Sipur Yetzi'as Mitzrayim is not just a narrative, but a personal thanksgiving, as we already mentioned in 'Avadim Hayinu' (4).



(To Thank & Praise Hashem ):

And it is all of these miracles that obligate us to acknowledge what Hashem did and to praise Him to our utmost ability. Consequently, we recite Hallel (even though Hallel is not generally recited at night-time). And we continue ...



We are no longer slaves of Paroh, but slaves of Hashem.



The difference between being slaves of Paroh and being slaves of Hashem is that, the former was a humiliating experience, whereas the latter elevates us to a position of holiness and rulership.

We break in the middle of Hallel (for the Se'udah) because the first two paragraphs (that we just recited) belong to Yetzi'as Mitzrayim (i.e. Magid), whereas the rest of Hallel refers to the ultimate long-awaited redemption, which we hope will come soon. That is why it is placed next to 'Sh'foch Chamoscho', which also refers to the future Ge'ulah, and which we will recite after Birchas ha'Mozon.

* * *


The nine merits on account of which Hashem took our fathers out of Egypt (all contained within the paragraphs that follow 'Tzei u'L'mad'): Because ...

1. ... Ya'akov initially went down to Egypt only in order to sojourn.

2. ... Yisrael stood out there (they retained their names and language).

3. ... of Yisrael's Mesiras Nefesh (self-sacrifice) with the two bloods (that of the Korban Pesach and that of the B'ris Milah, which they performed before bringing the Pesach).

4. ... of the back-breaking work that they had to do for the Egyptians (for which the Redemption compensated; and the same applies to 7, 8 and 9).

5. ... they prayed to G-d.

6. ... of the covenant that G-d made with the Avos.

7. ... the Egyptians tormented them by separating the men from their wives.

8. ... they drowned the Jewish babies, and killed them, to use their blood to cure Paroh's leprosy.

9. ... of the ongoing oppression (i.e. no respite from their work).

* * *

Thoughts on the Hagadah

(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

Skipping the Formalities

As is well-known, Yisrael left Egypt early, before the specified time (four hundred years) was up, and before they really deserved to go. Hashem gave them Mitzvos (the blood of Pesach and the blood of B'ris Milah), so that they should have some merit on which to rely; but that was instigated by Him, and not by them.


The Seifer Chesed le'Avraham citing R. Baruch mi'Mezritch, explains the Pasuk in Bo "u'Posach Hashem al ha'pesach" (and Hashem will pass over the entrance) based on the Chazal 'Open for Me an opening like the eye of a needle (ke'pischo shel machat), and I will turn it into the opening of a hall'. What Chazal mean is that Hashem expects the initiative to come from us. Once we make a minute effort to do good ('It'arusa di'le'Tata'), Hashem will bless us with a vast measure of Divine Inspiration ('It'arusa di'le'Eila'). And that is how Hashem generally operates. The first move must come from us, then He steps in.

In Egypt however, it was different, says R. Baruch. Yisrael had reached the lowest level of Tum'ah imaginable. Had they remained any longer, they would never have been able to leave. It would have been futile to wait for Yisrael to do Teshuvah; so Hashem deviated from the normal procedure, by making the first move.

And that is what the Pasuk means when it says "u'Posach Hashem al ha'pesach" - And Hashem passed over (overlooked) the opening of the needle's eye that He would normally have demanded, to take the initiative and make the first move Himself. Otherwise, we would still be in Egypt.


Dipping in Twice

Many reasons are given for dipping in twice during the Seider:

1. Corresponding to the two Tevilos that they performed in Egypt, one regarding Avadim who were born in the house, the other, Avadim whom they purchased.

2. Corresponding to the blood that they sprinkled a. on the lintel, b. on the doorposts (Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos). 3. In memory of the Ge'ulah, by which it is written "And you shall take a bundle of hyssop twigs and dip them in the blood that is in the bowl"; the other, in memory of the Galus, which was caused by the sale of Yosef, by which the Torah writes "And they dipped the shirt in blood" (Ma'asei Hashem).


The Four Matzos

The Tzadik R. Yitzchak Aizek from Ziditchev once sent his sons to ask the Tzadik from Dzikov the following question. Why is it, he wanted to know, that our Tefilin contain four Parshiyos, we attach four Tzitziyos to our garments, and we take four species on Succos. Yet on Seider-night, we take four cups of wine, but only three Matzos?

Back came the answer that this is precisely why we break the middle Matzah into two, leaving us with four Matzos.


Interestingly, the G'ro says something similar with regard to the four expressions on which the four cups of wine are based. As opposed to the generally-accepted explanation, that the four expressions are "ve'Hotzeisi'Hitzalti ... ve'Go'alti ... ve'Lokachti', he lists them as 've'Hotzeisi ... ve'Hitzalti ... ve'Go'alti eschem be'Yad chazakah ... u'vi'Zero'a Netuyah' - three phrases, but four expressions. It seems that the third and fourth expressions are really one expression divided into two (just like the third Matzah).

* * *

All About Pesach

(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

No Kitniyos

The reason for the Ashkenazi Minhag not to eat rice and other species of Kitniyos (legumes [such as peas, beans and lentils]) on Pesach is due to the fact that, like the five species of grain, it is a food that can be either cooked, or made into flour and baked. The Chachamim were therefore afraid that people might assume that just as one is permitted to cook Kitniyos, so too, is one permitted to cook the five species of grain. So they forbade the former because of the latter.

If however, some Kitniyos fell into a Pesach dish, it does not render it Chameitz and one may eat the dish (Levush).


A Mixture of Chametz

Even a Mashehu (the smallest amount) of Chametz forbids the Pesach food into which it falls, for two reasons: a. because Chametz is something that will become permitted after Pesach (min ha'Torah), and b. because people eat Chametz the whole year round, (which is one of the reasons why the Chachamim were particularly stringent in all areas of Chametz [Beis Yosef]).

According to the Yismach Moshe, the reason for the Chumra is because it is reminiscent of K'lal Yisrael, who could not have remained in Egypt even for one moment (a Mashehu) longer than they did, as the commentaries explain.


The Isur of Mashehu incorporates Hana'ah (i.e. deriving benefit from it), and this extends to the pot in which the Mashehu Chametz was cooked, says the Derech Pikudecha. However, the pot does need to be Kashered or broken. One may merely store it away until after Pesach and then continue to use it as if nothing happened.


'ho'Keil be'Sa'atzumos Uzecho'

The Shatz begins Shachris with these words (which means 'G-d, with the power of Your strength') on all three Yamim-Tovim, because all three major Yamim-Tovim commemorate the Exodus from Egypt, which reflects the power of G-d's strength and infinite ability (Levush).


The Thirteen Qualities

On Yom-Tov, we recite the thirteen Midos of Hashem, followed by 'Ribono shel Olam', which are both in the form of supplication, even when Yom-Tov falls on Shabbos, because, even though we generally avoid reciting supplications on Shabbos, the Chachamim were less fussy on Yom-Tov than on Shabbos (Magein Avraham). The Minhag however, is not to recite them whenever Yom-Tov falls on Shabbos.


No 'Shehechiyanu' over Sefiras ha'Omer

Many reasons are given as to why we do not recite 'Shehechiyanu' over Sefiras ha'Omer:

1. Because the Mitzvah does not entail joy or personal benefit (which are an intrinsic part of the B'rachah [Chok Ya'akov]).

2. Because one may forget one of the days, in which case the B'rachah will turn out to have been in vain (Mateh Moshe), though it is unclear as to why, for the same reason, we do not refrain from reciting a B'rachah over Sefiras ha'Omer altogether.

3. Because it is not the day that we are counting that is important, but the day towards which we heading i.e. Shavu'os, and that is when we recite 'Shehechiyau' (B'nei Yisaschar citing R. Pinchas Koritzer).

4. Because, in similar vein, whenever one Mitzvah is merely a preparation, we tend to recite 'Shehechiyanu' over the main Mitzvah (such as building a Succah), which covers the preparations, too (Pachad Yitzchak).


The Leining on Shabbos Chol-ha'Mo'ed

On Chol-ha'Moed Pesach (and Succos) we Lein from Parshas Ki Sisa "Re'ei Atoh omer eilai ...", because not only does the following Parshah 'P'sol l'cho' speak about the Mitzvos of Shabbos and Yom-Tov, but it contains the Pasuk "es Chag ha'Matzos tishmor", from which Chazal derive the prohibition of working on Chol ha'Mo'ed. And it is only due to the obligation of calling-up seven people on Shabbos, that we are forced to begin with "Re'ei ... ", the chapter before, which has no direct connection with Yom-Tov (Machtzis ha'Shekel).


No Mention of Yom-Tov in the Haftarah
(of Shabbos Chol ha'Mo'ed Pesach)

The reason that we conclude the B'rachos after the Haftarah with 'Mekadesh ha'Shabbos', omitting any mention of Pesach (neither in the middle nor at the end of the B'rachah), is because Chol ha'Mo'ed per se is not subject to a Haftarah (Taz). On Shabbos Chol ha'Mo'ed Succos, on the other hand, we conclude 'Mekadesh ha'Shabbos ve'ha'Z'manim', because the fact that each day has its own Musaf, enhances its esteem (which is also the reason that we recite whole Hallel on Chol ha'Mo'ed Succos, even though we do not do so on Chol ha'Mo'ed Pesach [Magein Avraham]).

Another reason for the importance of Shabbos Chol-ha'Mo'ed Succos is because on it we take out two Sifrei Torah, as opposed to the other days of Chol ha'Mo'ed, when we only take out one (thereby giving Shabbos Chol ha'Mo'ed Succos a special character); whereas Shabbos Chol ha'Mo'ed Pesach is no different than the other days of Chol ha'Mo'ed, seeing as one takes out two Sefarim throughout Chol-ha'Mo'ed Succos.

* * *


Parnasah & Splitting the Reed-Sea
(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

There is an age-old Minhag, says the B'nei Yisaschar, to appoint community leaders on the seventh day of Pesach. This is based, he claims, on the very first appointment of Kingship. Citing a Medrash, he explains that, because Binyamin were the first to jump into the Yam-Suf, they merited temporary Malchus (even before Yehudah, who was destined to receive it anyway). As a result, the first king of Yisrael was Shaul, who belonged to the tribe of Binyamin.


Alternatively, he ascribes the above Minhag to the title 'Parnes' which Chazal give to a community leader (see for example B'rachos 28a). The reason for this, he explains, is that the Parnasah of any generation is closely linked to the righteousness and leadership of the nation's rulers. Hence Megilas Rus opens with the words "Vayehi bi'yemei sh'fot ha'shoftim", which Chazal interpret to mean that there was trouble because the people judged their judges (who stole just like they did), and then goes on to discuss the famine that plagued them at the time. Whereas in contrast, just a few Pesukim later, the Pasuk writes "because Hashem had remembered His people to provide them with food", which Targum Yonasan ascribes to the merit of the Tzadik Bo'az, who had just been appointed the new leader.

How appropriate then, to refer to a communal leader as 'Parnes'. And how appropriate to appoint him on the seventh day of Pesach.


The Gemara in Pesachim (118a) remarks that 'Sustaining man is as difficult as splitting the Reed-Sea'. In that case, says the B'nei Yisaschar, is it not befitting that on the seventh day of Pesach, the day when Hashem did indeed perform the great miracle of splitting the Yam-Suf, He will follow-up by decreeing a good Parnasah for His people Yisrael, even in the event that they themselves do not deserve it? And since, as we already explained, Parnasah is intrinsically tied-up with the caliber of the leaders we have, the seventh day of Pesach is the ideal time to appoint the community leaders (with a prayer perhaps, that G-d should sustain us in their merit, even if we are not worthy).

Enhancing Chazal's comparison between Parnasah and the Splitting of the Reed-Sea, the author cites the Ziditchever Rebbe, who observes that the concession to cook and prepare food on Yom-Tov is mentioned in Parshas Bo (12:16) specifically in connection with the seventh day of Pesach.


I would add that remarkably, immediately after 'K'ri'as Yam-Suf', the Torah records the episodes of the water and of the Manna.


The Death They Deserve
(adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

The Gemara in Sanhedrin (39) relates how, when at the time of the splitting of the Yam-Suf, the angels wanted to sing Shirah to Hashem, Hashem cut them short. "The work of My Hands is drowning in the sea, and you want to sing Shirah to Me!?"


R. Shmelka from Nicholsburg presents a novel explanation of this Gemara. He refers to the famous story of Sancheriv's vast army (comprising 185,000 generals alone), which died during the siege of Yerushalayim. Chazal tell us that they died when Hashem caused them to hear the sound of the Chayos ha'Kodesh singing Shirah. This was too much for their mortal bodies to bear, and their Souls left them.

At K'ri'as Yam-Suf too, R. Shmelke explains, the angels wanted to sing Shirah to Hashem, with the intention that the Egyptians should hear them and die. But Hashem stopped them. 'The work of My hands they drowned in the sea' He pointed out (with reference to the Jewish babies whom they had drowned in the Nile) 'and you want to sing Shirah!? What they deserve is death by drowning, Midah k'Neged Midah! And that is what they will receive.'


It seems to me that the above explanation is based on the phrase "Ma'aseh yodai tub'u ba'Yam ... " (meaning 'The work of My Hands drowned in the Sea ... '), which can also be read as "Ma'aseh yodai tav'u be'Yam ... " (meaning 'They drowned the work of My Hands [with reference to the Jewish babies] in the Sea ... ').

The problem with this explanation is that the Gemara actually says "Ma'aseh yodai tov'in ba'Yam ... " (meaning 'The work of My Hands is drowning in the Sea ... '), and is not subject to any alternative interpretation!

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel