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30 Nissan

HELPFUL THOUGHT!  To inspire yourself, do not allow yourself to count the Sefirah by heart.  Instead, read each and every word of the bracha and count from a Siddur.



SHATNEZ ARTICLE: By clicking here, we provide a powerful and important article on the basic question May One Try on Shatnez When Purchasing Garments?




Special Note One:  Chazal (Pesachim 118B) teach that a person’s Parnassah is as difficult as Kriyas Yam Suf.  Likewise, Chazal (Sanhedrin 22A) teach that finding one’s Zivug is as difficult as Kriyas Yam Suf.  What is the similarity, what is the common denominator between and among Kriyas Yam Suf, Parnassa, and a Zivug?  The commentaries explain that when the Bnei Yisroel were in front of the Yam Suf they looked to their right and their left, to their front and to their back, and saw no basis for a Yeshua whatsoever.  Most certainly, the sea splitting was not within the realm of possibility.  Similarly, one may look at his Parnassa and think that it is coming from this direction or that direction, from this client, that customer, this referral, or that deal--and then all or part of it may come from somewhere wholly unexpected.  With a Zivug as well, one may believe that the Shadchan who knows him very well, the family member dedicated to finding him a Shidduch, or the close friend who has many contacts, will be the source of his Bashert--only to find that it comes through an unexpected phone call from a friend in another city.  The common denominator, the uniting thread, is that it may be difficult for us to fully fathom that it is Hashem and only Hashem Who will provide the Yeshua--whether at the sea, in Parnassa, or for the true Zivug, in a manner which He, and only He deems timely and proper, and through the Shelichim whom He designates and selects.  Whatever situation we are in--whether it be surrounded by Mitzriyim and wild animals with a roaring sea in front of us, very much needing Parnassa, or looking for our Zivug to finally come, rather than look to our right or left, to our front and to our back--instead let us sincerely and earnestly look steadily up--and may Hashem then send the Yeshua that each of us need as beautifully and wonderfully as He did at the sea--during this time of year!



Special Note Two:  As we conclude the Geulah of Nissan, and move towards the Geulah of Shavuos (which is the fourth Kos of Velakachti), we recall the words of Rashi on an essential Pasuk that we may recite several times daily:  “Yimloch Hashem LeOlam Elokaich Tzion LeDor VaDor Haleluka” (Tehillim 146: 10).  There, Rashi comments “Yekayem Es Malchuso BeShemiras Bonov.”  Hashem views His Kingship in terms of us.  If we are guarded and protected, if we are happy, if we are successful, then His Kingship is also successful and established.  When we are downtrodden and forlorn, Hashem’s Malchus is negatively impacted as well.  Thus, when we exclaim Yimloch Hashem LeOlam, we are asking for our position to be elevated so that Hashem’s Malchus can be fully and appropriately established.  We should certainly take comfort in the fact that Hashem’s position in the world works together with ours, and that our roles can improve together!


Additional Note:  In many of our Tefillos, we recite “Elokeinu V’Elokei Avoseinu--our G-d and G-d of our forefathers.”  Chronologically and from a perspective of honor and respect, it would appear that we should first begin Elokei Avoseinu -and then--V’Elokeinu.  Perhaps the lesson to us is that without first recognizing and establishing our own personal and close relationship with Hashem, the relationship Hashem had with the Avos is not really so relevant.  When we recite the Bracha of Go’al Yisroel--Who redeemed Yisroel (after Kriyas Shema in the morning and evening), we recognize that Hashem redeemed our forefathers in the past, and can/will therefore redeem us again in the Ultimate Redemption Bimheyra BeYameinu  .  However, when we recite the Bracha of Go’el Yisroel (in Shemone Esrei three times daily), we proclaim that Hashem can/will and is redeeming us directly in the here and now.  In this last day of Chodesh Nissan, let us bli neder commit to work on intensifying our personal relationship with Hashem, so that His Malchus, and His Geulah, is personal to us as well.  We can begin by concentrating on the Pasuk of “Yimloch Hashem LeOlam” when recited in our Tefillos, as well as by reciting the Bracha of Go’el Yisroel--Hashem is redeeming me-- with special recognition and intensity--at least for the month of Iyar--connecting the Geulah of Nissan to the Geulah of Shavuos!



Special Note Three:  As we are in the midst of the Sefira period in which we are careful to practice important Minhagim relating to the period, we remember that the students of Rebbi Akiva were Niftar during this period for not according the proper respect to each other.  Accordingly, in order to work on improvement in this area in this especially propitious period, we provide the notes below excerpted from the outstanding and highly recommended resource Guide To Derech Eretz by Rabbi Shaul Wagschal, Shlita (Targum/Feldheim).  Even if one knows many or most of the points below, and even feels that he is ‘pretty good’ with them, it is essential that we not only know them or study them--but conscientiously work on them  as well:




1.  Derech Eretz can be defined as a type of behavior that will be acceptable by one’s society and which is geared towards making people happy, as the Mishna [in this week’s Perek] states: “Which is the proper path one should choose?  One that is pleasing to the one who performs it and is pleasing to others” (Avos 2:1)


2.  The Maharal writes that one must offer greetings even to a willful transgressor of sins--otherwise the sinner will wrongly conclude that the Torah advocates scorning ignorant

people. This in effect profanes the name of Hashem.


3.  Mesechta Derech Eretz describes the degree of humility one should strive to achieve: ‘‘One should be as the threshold upon which everyone treads, and as the peg which people use for hanging objects” (Derech Eretz Zuta, ch. 1). This means that one is obligated to tolerate others--even if they do not consider him worthy of respect. The Midrash adds, “Be lowly before everyone, especially before members of your household.... Be as the threshold upon which everyone treads, for eventually the house will collapse, but the threshold will remain untouched” (ibid. ch. 3).


4.  Tolerance leads to peace and to new friendships, and precludes anger.  “A pious man was once asked, ‘To what do you attribute people’s affection for you?’  He answered, ‘Because I always consider other people to be better than I.” (Orchos Tzaddikim, Shaar Haanavah).


5.  It is told that one of R. Yisrael Salanter’s disciples once complained to him that his efforts to do chessed for his wife were not appreciated by her. R’ Yisrael responded, “Know that performing an act that you think is beneficial for your wife, or giving her something that you think she is lacking, is not yet considered chessed; rather, chessed is the performance of an act that she considers beneficial, and the giving of something that she feels she is lacking.”


6.  One is obligated to do chessed for a person he dislikes before doing so for a person he loves. It is questionable whether a person whom one dislikes takes precedence over one’s relative (Ahavas Chessed, sec. 1, ch. 4).


7.  It is stated in Mesechta Derech Eretz Zuta (ch. 5): “A person should not be awake amongst those who are sleeping, nor sleeping amongst those who are awake; cry amongst those who laugh, nor laugh amongst those who cry; sit amongst those who stand, nor stand amongst those who sit.  In general, a person’s behavior should not be at variance with other people’s behavior.” This idea is derived from Moshe Rabbeinu’s example, as R. Tanchum Ben Chanilai said: ‘A person should not deviate from the custom--Moshe ascended to the Heavens and he did not eat bread; the angels descended [to visit Avraham Avinu] and they did eat bread’ (Bava Metzia 86b). This concept has halachic ramifications. The Mishnah states: “In a city where the custom is to work on Erev Pesach until noon , work may be performed. In a city where the custom is not to work, work may not be performed....But one should not deviate from the local custom if this will lead to dispute” (Pesachim 50a).  The reason for this ruling, that a visitor is obligated to preclude dispute by conforming to local custom, is that people are not able to tolerate ideas and customs different from their own, and such differences can lead to dispute.


8.  Chazal teach: “’Love your friend as yourself’ is a general rule throughout Torah”(Yerushalmi Nedarim 9:4). Through his love for others one will refrain from causing them physical or emotional pain; in fact he will work for their benefit and behave towards them with derech eretz. Orchos Tzaddikim writes that it is possible to train oneself to feel love for people.  This can be achieved by fulfilling the following codes of behavior:


A) Speak gently. If someone embarrasses or misleads you, do not reciprocate.


B) Share other people’s burdens and refrain from increasing their suffering. Never conduct heated arguments with others.  Welcome everyone joyously and with a friendly facial expression, since a friendly expression strengthens bonds of love.


C) Soothe people who feel worried or angry.


D) Honor others, both verbally and through your actions.  Never act in a haughty manner with anyone; instead, yield to the will of others.


E) Refrain from passing judgment on others; instead, look for the merit in other people’s actions.


F) Conduct all transactions honestly.


G) Strive to benefit others, not to benefit from others.


H) Extend help to others, both physically and monetarily. Refrain from miserliness.


I) Avoid speaking in a derogatory manner about others, and refrain from listening to others speak negatively about people.


Hakhel Note:  Perhaps one can consider reviewing the above nine pointers (A-I) at the beginning or end of his day--to motivate him or see how he fared.


9.  Although the obligation to carry on friendly relations with one’s neighbor is great, one must not visit a neighbor too often, since overly frequent visits will eventually cause the neighbor to dislike the visitor.  Concerning this idea, the verse says, “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he will be weary of you and dislike you” (Mishlei 25:17).  Rashi explains that just as eating an overabundance of honey makes one feel like vomiting, so, too, frequent visits causes the host to revile the visitor. Metzudos David writes that love between people increases when they are absent from each other, whereas overly frequent visits have the opposite effect.


10.  From Moshe Rabbeinu, we learn how far Derech Eretz extends.  Before accepting upon himself the commandment to go to Mitzrayim and redeem the Jewish people, Moshe Rabbeinu said to Hashem, “Master of the Universe! I cannot fulfill Your commandment, since Yisro welcomed me and opened his door to me, and I am as a son to him.  A person who is shown hospitality is eternally indebted to his host.” Thus, Moshe refused to embark on his journey without first receiving Yisro’s permission. From this we learn that one act of derech eretz takes precedence over the redemption of the entire Jewish People!




29 Nissan

QUESTION: When you don’t receive the thanks for something that you believe you deserve—what is a possible message or lesson for you?



REMINDER! The Sefer Tallelei Oros brings from the following “Eitzah Ne’emana” (Trustworthy Advice) taught by the HaRav Leib Chasman, Z’tl in the Sefer Ohr Yahel: “ If one finds himself c’v in a tzara, he should take a neder to not satiate his desire in a particular manner which is otherwise permissible to him, and with this he will be assured of a having obtained a ‘zechus gadol’ with which to be saved....” Hakhel Note: HaRav Chasman is not requiring unrelenting abstinence--he is advising to select something permissible and simply not satiate oneself with it--because you--and not your Yetzer Hora--are in charge of your life!


MASHAL OF THE WEEK:  The Ben Ish Chai raises the following question.  There are ten birds on a roof.  A hunter shoots and kills four of the birds.  How many birds are left on the roof?


In fact, the Ben Ish Chai writes, there will be four birds left on the roof, because the other six would have flown away because of the gunshot fire.  The analogy he draws is to money that a person spends in this world.  The money that is well-spent on Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim flies nowhere--it will remain with the person forever and ever.  On the other hand, money improperly spent or squandered flies away and has no everlasting--or even lasting--relationship with the person.  Let us take the Ben Ish Chai’s thought a step further.  How could money which appears to be a purely material, Olam Hazeh kind of item be transported into Olam Haba?  HaRav Aaron Kotler, Z’tl, teaches that the “Kedoshim Ti’heyu” required by last week’s Parasha is not the holiness of Malochim or of people who separate themselves from others, but rather it is elevating the materialism of Olam Hazeh to Kedusha of Olam Haba.  Money, then, becomes an invaluable resource--a source of Kedusha for our Olam Haba--all based upon how we use it in this world.  To some, money is a source of evil.  To others, it is a necessary evil.  To us, however, it is and should be a source of eternity.  Every dollar for a Mitzvah, every check for Tzedaka is a fulfillment of a Kedoshim Ti’heyu--which will last forever! 




Special Note One:  Let us take a step back to Pesach for a moment. Rabban Gamliel Rabinovich, Shlita, makes an outstanding observation regarding the Pesach Seder--which is truly a bold and important lesson for daily living.  The Seder teaches us that there is a seder, an order, to things.  If we follow the Seder as we should, then in the end everything is Nirzah--accepted and we sing into the night.  However, not everything starts out happy--we begin as slaves, and we experience shame and degradation, physically and spiritually.  We even eat a portion of Marror.  But, if we do what we are supposed to--we will be zoche to a special Yom Tov Shulchan Orech and its joy-filled aftermath.  Olam Hazeh is not meant to be a fountain of delight or a wellspring of contentment.  It is meant to be a place where we learn our lessons and grow from them--where we shape our lives for eternity.  Success begins and is measured through effort, dedication, commitment and strength of character.  The bitterness may be there in different ways--as pure Marror, sandwiched with something else (Korech), and will have some Charoses to take out some of the sting...but, we must recognize and believe that all of this is only a purification agent that is needed for only a short period of time--it is as transitory as a passing thunderstorm--in light of the permanent sunshine of Olam Haba that will succeed it.  During the rest of the year we go straight to Shulchan Orech--but we should not be fooled.  It is the order of the Seder night which puts our lives into perspective.  You may have a lot of questions to ask through the course of the Galus night --but if you follow through the order and succeed to conclusion--you are guaranteed to come out singing--and with all of the answers.



Special Note Two: As we move towards Kabbalas HaTorah, we provide the following enlightening words of Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni to Mishlei 4):


“There are 248 Mitzvos Aseh in the Torah and 248 limbs of the body—for each limb reminds and cries out to the person ‘perform the Mitzvah-so that you will live in its merit, and also merit length of days; there are 365 Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh in the Torah corresponding to the 365 days of the solar year—for each day from the time the sun rises and until it sets, it reminds us and cries out—I direct you not to do an aveira today, which could tip the scales against me and the whole world c’v to chovah—in the wrong direction....”


Let us take an important moment now to look at our hands, our arms, our legs—they are Hashem’s messengers to us reminding us to stay focused, do right, and keep the world going. Every so often we should gaze at these ‘Chofetz Chaims’ of which we are composed—reminding us to fulfill our mission in life on a daily basis.


Then, we can look at the sun for a brief moment or even at the light it sheds—it is talking to us--communicating essential, life-bearing advice--Please, please, no-- don’t go there…don’t say that…close your eyes and don’t look… don’t hurt that person with what you are about to do…. If you squint when you are outside on a sunny day, it is not a coincidence—it is merely a stronger message.


Hashem has blessed us with reminders within us and around us—they are like alarm clocks gently sounding for us throughout the day— and they will only be ineffective if we turn them off. Incredibly, when we heed their message and do this Mitzvas Aseh here, and avoid that Lo Sa’aseh there--when we throughout the day consciously use Hashem’s gifts for Chazal’s stated and noteworthy purpose, we bring not only life and length of days to ourselves in this world and the next—but life to the entire world as well —for which the sun and the rest of Ma’aseh Bereishis will be so thankful!




28 Nissan

Special Note One:  Today, the 28th day of Nissan, marks the day that Yericho fell to the Hakafos and Shofar blasts (and not to the military prowess) of B’nei Yisrael.  As noted on Erev Shabbos, it was none other than Yehoshua Bin Nun who composed Aleinu at that time in recognition of Hashem’s Omnipotence--and the thanks that we owe Him for our position in this world!  According to the Sefer Chareidim, as brought in the Siddur Rashban, Aleinu was actually recited forwards and then backwards by Yehoshua and B’nei Yisrael, and this was the final blow that caused the walls to fall in.  This Tefillah is so crucial to us that we recite it at the end of each of our daily prayers, and it is the essence of our Tefillos on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (where we additionally genuflect).  The Rema in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 132:2) especially writes that we should be careful to recite Aleinu with Kavannah each day.


It is certainly no coincidence—as it never is—that Aleinu was composed so soon after Pesach, as it reflects so many of the lessons to be gleaned from those special days---Thanks to Hashem for choosing us as His people; Awareness of Hashem not only as Creator but in Hashgacha Pratis on a daily basis; Ain Od Milevado…and our longing and prayer for the final Geulah. If you start today to daven Aleinu only from a Siddur, or to be sure to have special Kavannah when reciting it for all of the essential yesodos of Emunah it contains (actually found in the plain meaning of the words), or to make sure that it takes you at least a minute to recite because you are not swallowing the words and you are paying attention to them, bowing down more properly or with thought…or any other improvement—then you will always remember the  anniversary of your improvement—the anniversary of Aleinu!



Special Note Two: We had received the following beautiful thought from one of our readers:


“Chazal relate: ‘Shenaim Asar Elef Zugos Talmidim Haya Lo L’Rebbi Akiva V’lo Nohagu Kavod Zeh Bazeh--Rebbi Akiva had 12,000 pairs of students who did not conduct themselves respectfully with each other.’  Why do Chazal say that Rebbi Akiva had 2 times 12,000 talmidim?  Why not just say that he had 24,000 students that were not respectful to each other??


The answer may be that, of course, when they were all together in the dining room and one asked the other to pass the Corn Flakes, or when saying “Good Morning or “Good Night”,  they were all very gracious and answered with a smile.  But that’s not where the true test was.  The test presents itself when two chavrusos sit down for hours together and one comes up with a good “kashe--question” or a “s’vorah--line of reasoning” that is enlightening--is it accepted graciously?  When one pours out his heart to the other about a difficult situation that he is going through is the other empathetic--or is his mind elsewhere?  The same is true in relationships between spouses, siblings etc.  Chazal here are not referring to dealings by and among acquaintances.  They are referring to the close relationships between “zugos”, people close to each other, those we perhaps take for granted.  That’s the true test of “Noheg Kavod Zeh Bazeh”.


There are still five (5) weeks left to the Omer…try to apply this lesson every day until Shavuos!




Special Note Three:  In honor of the Mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha, we once again provide our “Ahavas Yisrael Checklist”, which provides some practical suggestions and reminders on a daily basis:


1.                  Did you say hello to at least one person before they said hello to you?


2.                  Did you make someone smile or laugh today?  Did you boost someone’s spirits?


3.                  Were you truly happy to hear good news about a friend?  Even if you wish that the same good news would happen to you?


4.                  Did you judge someone favorably today?  Did you see people positively—or did you sum up their lifestyle, pros and cons, with one glance of the eye?


5.                  How often did you find yourself talking about someone else?


6.                  Did you actually do any of the following:

a.       Visit a sick person

b.      Help the needy in some way

c.       Invite a guest without family in town for a Shabbos meal

d.      Patronize Jewish products and stores

e.       Help a single person find a Shidduch

f.        Sincerely ask Hashem to bring the Geulah for all of us 


(This checklist is based largely on a checklist developed by N’shei Ahavas Chesed of Brooklyn .)



Special Note Four: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.





Many people preparing to purchase Tefillin wonder whether it is appropriate to spend more money on battim or parashiyos. The Mishnah Berurah wrote: I have seen God-fearing men spend large sums of money on their tefillin. They purchase their battim from a craftsman who produces aesthetically pleasing battim, which are mehudar in all respects. Praiseworthy is their lot. More importantly, though, one must be concerned with the tefillin which are inside, i.e. the parashiyos. The sofer must take care to write all the letters in accordance with halachah, including all the details and hiddurim. For this, the sofer must be well-versed in the laws pertaining to writing the letters and must work patiently, for if even one letter is not written in complete accordance with halachah, it can invalidate the entire pair of tefillin. (Free translation)


The Mishnah Berurah was attempting to impress two points upon the reader:


1) What is inside the tefillin is no less important than what is on the outside.

2) What is inside actually has many more potential issues, problems, and ultimately, pesulim (invalidating errors).


It seems that the Mishnah Berurah did not actually mean to suggest that one ought to spend more money on parashiyos than on battim. Rather, he was merely addressing a lack of concern about the purchasing of parashiyos which he sensed was prevalent in his time.


The Mishnah Berurah certainly felt that one must make every effort to obtain the best parashiyos and battim (and retzuos) possible.


In reality, there is no reason to spend “more” on one than the other. Just buy good parashiyos and good battim!




25 Nissan

QUESTION OF THE WEEK--ABOUT HAKHEL! At the outset of Parashas Kedoshim, Rashi writes that this Parasha was said ‘B’Hakhel’ because so many essential Torah teachings are contained in it. The difficulty with this Rashi is that it is apparent that only Parashios from Chumash Devarim were recited/taught at Hakhel (see Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah 612). What does Rashi mean when he writes that this Parasha was taught ‘B’Hakhel’?




Special Note One:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:


A. We are advised that this Shabbos, which is the day that Shlissel Challahs are served, is the day that some Chassidic masters waited until before they consumed Chometz after Pesach. The Shlissel Challah would be their first Chometz! What is the concept of Shlissel Challah? In The Book of Our Heritage (the excellent English translation of the Sefer HaToda’ah), Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, writes as follows: “In some communities, it is customary for the Shabbos on which we announce the approaching month of Iyar that sesame seeds are sprinkled on the top of Challahs in the shape of a key. This serves as a reminder of the Mon that began to fall from heaven in Iyar, as well as a reminder that the key to our sustenance is in Hashem’s Hand.” The Sefer Ta’amei Dinim U’Minhagim (p.249) writes about the Shlissel Challah: “U’Minhag Avoseinu BeVadai Torah Hu”. The Sefer then explains that the key is symbolic of the Ma’amar Chazal: “Pischu Lee…open up for me an opening like the point of a needle and I will open up for you an opening the size of the Ulam.” Additionally, the Sefer continues, our closeness to Hashem on Pesach opened up heavenly gates which became closed after Pesach. With the Challah-key, we symbolize that we want to open them again--and that we begin to succeed with the Mitzvah of Shabbos!


B.  As many may use the same special clothing for Shabbos and Yom Tov, we must be especially careful to check our pockets, as we wore our clothing for Yom Tov earlier this week.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 252:7) rules that it is a Mitzvah to check one’s pockets on Erev Shabbos in order to ensure that he will not carry outside or carry a Muktzah item inside, even on Shabbos. If one forgot to check his pockets on Erev Shabbos, he must do so as soon as he remembers on Shabbos itself.  The Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (ibid.) notes that, although others differ, the G’ra and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav both rule that one should not place any objects into his pockets at all on Shabbos itself--but rather should carry them in his hand--in order not to subject himself to the possible violation of the Issur Hotza’ah.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that in places where there is a Rishus Harabbim Min HaTorah, one should certainly follow the ruling of the G’ra and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav.


C.  Shabbos Kodesh is the Yahrzeit of Yehoshua Bin Nun (this coming Monday (28 Nissan) is actually the date that the walls of Yericho fell).  The Luach Davar B’Ito recommends that one have especial Kavannah this Shabbos when reciting Aleinu which Yehoshua composed upon the fall of Yericho, as well as when reciting the Second Bracha of Birkas HaMazon which Yehoshua composed upon entering Eretz Yisrael (Brachos 48B).  Hakhel Note:  It is fascinating to realize that these two Tefillos--for which Yehoshua is so well known--both relate to thanks and praise to Hashem--a truly appropriate aftermath--once again reinforcing the great lesson after Pesach!


D.  This Shabbos we will commence the recitation of Mesechta Avos--commonly known to us as “Pirkei Avos”.  HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, at the outset of the Sefer Ruach Chaim, writes that we begin each Perek with the words “Kol Yisrael Yesh Lahem Chelek LaOlam Habba--all of K’lal Yisrael has a share in the World-to-Come”.  The Tanna uses the phrase LaOlam Habba, rather than BaOlam Habba in order to teach us that Olam Habba is not a future world--but a world that is built in the here and now by the Mitzvos that a person performs.  One really does exist in Olam Haba in this world--it is just the physical elements of Olam Hazeh that prevent him from realizing its light.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, in fact, brings the words of the Zohar (1:265A), which explains that Olam Haba means Olam She’kevar Bah--a world that has already come.  Thus, just as a Ben Yeshiva is someone who is in a particular Yeshiva, a Ben Olam Habba, is someone who is already rooted in Olam Haba.  HaRav Friedlander also explains that the reward for a Mitzvah is ‘Ruchni Tahor’--total Ruchniyus, and that accordingly we cannot get reward in a purely Olam Hazeh way for Mitzvos.  Whenever the Torah or Chazal describe the physical reward in this world, what it really means is that we will be granted additional means to learn more Torah and perform more Mitzvos in the guise of Mitzvah Goreres Mitzvah--and that the ultimate rewards for any and all Mitzvos are exclusively in Olam Habba. The Mashal that may be given is to a very wealthy individual who owns a huge and profitable factory.  He will put on workers clothes in the factory and not be distinguished from the other workers there as the products are being produced--but will reap all of the profits when the products are sold.


E. One final thought, as we are instructed to be “Kedoshim” by our Parasha this Shabbos, let us pay special attention to, and try to instill just a bit more additional spirit of, Kedusha …into tomorrow’s Shabbos Kodesh!



Special Note Two:  Not less than twice ( 19:14 and 19:32 ) in Parashas Kedoshim, Rashi provides us with the fundamental definition of Yiras Hashem.  Yiras Hashem, as demonstrated by the Pesukim, is defined as the personal awareness that Hashem not only knows what an individual’s actions are, but also knows what an individual’s thoughts are. As Rashi states: “Anything which is in a person’s heart which others do not know…is something that Hashem knows.”  When a person is in control of his thoughts--and especially does so because he knows Hashem discerns and understands them--he is demonstrating Yiras Hashem at its finest! What’s on your mind--make it count!



Special Note Three:  Chazal teach that Sinas Chinam is the basis for our current Galus (See Yoma 9A).  In this week’s Parasha, the Torah teaches us “Lo Sisna Es Achicha Bilvavecha--you shall not hate your brother in your heart” (Vayikra 19:17 ).  In order for us to better understand this Issur, we provide a special teaching from the wonderful Sefer Torah Treasury by Rabbi Moshe Lieber, Shlita (Artscroll, p.302).


“The term ‘Sinas Chinam’ is usually translated as ‘causeless hatred’.  The term does not refer exclusively to hatred with absolutely no cause because almost all hatred has some basis.


“HaRav Nisson Alpert, Z’TL, explains as follows.  When people are hurt, they often suppress their feelings.  Whether out of fear of confrontation or a sense of bravado, they refuse to try to work things out with the person who caused them their pain.  Instead, the animosity to that person grows stronger.


“Had the person made an effort to reach an understanding with the one who hurt him, the hatred would have never reached that level.  The extra hatred is ‘chinam’--it came about for no good reason.”


Let us take this penetrating yet practical lesson to heart and try to eliminate and avoid Sinas Chinam in our lives right now and in the future.



 Special Note Four: In this week’s Parasha, we find the immense Mitzvah of “V’Ahavta L’Rayacha Kamocha” (Vayikra 19:18 )--you shall love your fellow as yourself.  The scope and breadth of this “K’lal Gadol BaTorah--great principle of the Torah” (Shabbos 31A) includes the following situations which are listed in, or based upon, the teachings of Love Your Neighbor (by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, the wonderful work referred to yesterday).  The Mitzvah is fulfilled when:


  1. A craftsman or worker is mindful that he is making a product, or performing a service, not merely for a source of income, but also for the benefit or pleasure of the person who will use it;

  2. Teaching another person Torah;

  3. Forgiving one who has hurt or offended you;

  4. Helping someone by making change for a larger bill or coin, or giving them a quarter for the parking meter (or modern day equivalent);

  5. Going out of your way not to keep people waiting--trying to be the first one present on a conference call or for a meeting;

  6. Intentionally steering clear of annoying others--such as not slamming doors, making screeching noises with your nails, or doing something to which another person present would respond with “Uch”! or “How could you do that?!”  Note here that the “L’Rayacha Kamocha” is dependent on the person who is present, and is not the standard of the average person.  You must specifically relate to the person who is with you;

  7. Bringing good news or happiness to others;

  8. Getting some air or taking a walk with someone who appears troubled or is clearly in need of talking;

  9. Complimenting someone for their job, effort, or appearance; and

  10. Giving Tzedakah to someone, or helping someone with something he needs help with, **BEFORE** being asked.



Special Note Five: Three additional notes on “V’Ahavta L’Rayacha Kamocha”:


A. The Mesilas Yesharim (end of Chapter 19) writes, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu only loves those who love their fellow Jew, and the more one increases his love for fellow Jews, the more HaKadosh Baruch Hu loves him. [We note the incredible statement of the Alter of Kelm, Z’tl (Kisvei HaSaba MiKelm, p. 13) that with V’Ahavta L’Rayacha Kamocha one can be mekayem thousands of Mitzvos a minute because for every single Jew that one loves, he is mekayem a separate Mitzvas Aseh.  (Also see Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’Avoda 1:7-8).]  Many have asked—How can I properly fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh of V’Ahavta L’Rayacha Kamocha —How can I love someone else as much as myself?  Must I buy another a pair of shoes whenever I buy one for myself?  Rav Eliyahu Lopian Z’tl provides an incredibly practical guideline: The Mitzva is: Do for others what you would want them to do for you; and do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.  This is the formula to apply in all of your life’s encounters (Lev Eliyahu, Bereishis, page 253). 


B. A Holocaust Survivor (Mr. Landau from Hungary) relates how he and hundreds of others were on a train bound for Auschwitz towards the end of the war.  The train stopped abruptly when Allied bombs started to fall around it, and everyone was ordered to disembark and take cover.  A Nazi supply train stopped at the same location as well, and the enemy soldiers scattered for cover.  The bombing stopped and the prisoners were ordered back on the train.  In the upheaval, Mr. Landau found a crate of sardines on the supply train and brought it back with him to the Auschwitz transport.  As all the prisoners alighted back onto the train, he handed them each a can of sardines which the hungry captives began to eat with zeal.  The Nazi soldiers came back on the train and noticed many Jews eating the sardines.  They asked the prisoners who had given them the cans, and no one replied.  The soldiers surprisingly left the train, and Mr. Landau’s life was spared--because instead of hiding the cans for himself, he had shared them with as many people as he could.  Chazal (Vayikra Rabbah 34) teach that “more than the wealthy person does for the poor person, the poor does for the wealthy”.  This last story is a similar indication of how the proper fulfillment of loving another as yourself did more for Mr. Landau than it did for the others on the train--for it actually saved his life.


C. The following is brought in Growth Through Torah (p. 282):


Rabbi Chaim Koldetzky related to his family how he was once a guest at the home of the Chofetz Chaim.  The Chofetz Chaim personally made the bed for him and prepared his pillow and blankets.  Rabbi Koldetzky was startled to see that after preparing the bed, the Chofetz Chaim laid down on the bed for a few seconds to make sure it was sufficiently comfortable for his guest!


As we go through the day with the various acts of Chesed we perform for acquaintances, friends, and family, let us remember to take the extra step(s) necessary to elevate the level of our Mitzvah to a degree that Mr. Landau, or even the Chofetz Chaim, would be proud of!


One Additional Insight on  V’Ahavta L’Rayacha Kamocha”:  A reader provided the following important input: “When I tell a friend about a particular tz’aar or illness, I am sure to say ‘lo aleichem’--that this trouble or misery should not befall them.  Conversely, when I receive a Bracha from someone, I am always careful to say at the very least ‘V’Chayn l’Mar--may you be blessed in kind, as well!’”



Special Note Six: In this week’s Parasha, we also find the great Mitzvah of “Mipnei Sayva Takum…” (Vayikra 19:32)--In the presence of an elderly person shall you rise, and you shall honor the presence of a Sage....


The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 244) rules that one must rise if a person over the age of 70 (even if unlearned, but provided he/she is not wicked) enters within your 4 amos (i.e., within 6-8 feet of you).  One should remain standing until he/she has passed from in front of you.  Respect does not only consist of rising, but also includes respectful words and a helping hand (ibid. 244:7).  Let us take a moment to reflect upon our diligence in the performance of this Mitzvah as it may apply in our own homes, in the homes of friends and relatives, in Shul, in doctor’s offices, and in the various situations that may present themselves to us throughout the day.  Let us also thank Hashem for giving us the opportunity to be in their presence (and having the opportunity to learn from them, if applicable)--and making it a Mitzvah on top of that!


Additional Note:  Some opinions hold that the minimum age to which respect must be accorded is actually 60 and not 70.



Special Note Seven: Parasha Kedoshim, contains 51 Mitzvos. We present below several important notes from Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, on several of these Mitzvos (citations and sources presented there have been omitted--please refer to this wonderful Sefer directly for further detail):


  1. Parashas Kedoshim begins with the words “Daber El Kol Adas Bnei Yisrael--speak to the entire congregation of Bnei Yisroel.”  The Chasam Sofer comments that to attain holiness one need not be isolated and withdrawn from the rest of society.  On the contrary, the Torah’s admonition here to be “Kedoshim--to be holy--was especially stated in front of the entire congregation. A person must learn how to sanctify himself by behaving properly amongst people!


  1.  ”Lo Sa’ashok” (Vayikra 19:13 )--the prohibition of withholding money.  In order not to be guilty of withholding someone’s wages, or payments due to a worker, you should always reach an agreement about payment before he begins doing the job.  Failure to decide on a price in advance usually leads to arguments later on, with the results that both sides feel cheated.  The Chofetz Chaim’s son wrote that his father would not ask someone to do any work for him without first reaching an agreement as to all the details of the job, including the price.  If for some reason they could not settle upon a price before hand, the Chofetz Chaim would pay whatever the worker later requested.


  1. Lo Sikalel Chayreish” (Vayikra 19:14)--it is forbidden to curse even the deaf who are unable to hear the curse, all the more so is it forbidden to curse people who are able to hear.  Saying to someone “G-d should punish you” is a violation of this prohibition.  Note that it is considered using G-d’s name even when the name is not in Hebrew.  Although using G-d’s name constitutes a more serious offense, it is nonetheless forbidden to curse someone without using G-d’s name as well.  For example, it is forbidden to say “Drop d - - d” or the like to someone.


  1. B’Tzedek Tishpot Amisecha” (Vayikra 19:15 )--you shall judge your fellow man with righteousness.  In Yerushalayim, there is a group that regularly discusses practical ways to judge people favorably.  A member of the group gives true-to-life situations, and everyone else offers explanations that would present the person involved in a favorable light. For instance:


A.     You did not receive an invitation to a wedding.  Possibilities:  A. Perhaps the person was under the impression that he had already sent you an invitation B. Perhaps he sent it to you and it was lost in the mail. C. Perhaps he cannot afford to invite so many people.


B.     You are standing in a bus stop with a heavy load of packages, and a neighbor drives by in an empty car and does not offer you a ride. Possibilities: A. Perhaps he was only going a short distance. B. Perhaps he has already committed himself to pick up some other people. C. Perhaps he has a problem that weighed on his mind so heavily that he couldn’t think of anything else.


C.     You are hoping someone would invite you to his house, but he failed to do so. Possibilities:  A. Perhaps someone in his family is ill. B. Perhaps he is planning to be away from home. C. Perhaps he did not have enough food in his house.


  1.  ”Lo Sisna es Achicha Bilvovecha” (Vayikra 19:16 )--you shall not hate your brother in your heart [see also Special Note Three above].  The Chofetz Chaim writes that if someone has embarrassed or humiliated you, you should not hate him.  Although he has committed a transgression, he has actually rendered you a service--for when a person suffers humiliation in silence, it atones for any sins he may have.  The situation is analogous to that which someone prepared a hot bath for you.  Although it may cause you some pain, it will also cleanse you.  Keeping this thought in mind should prevent feelings of hatred from arising.  There is a proven method of changing someone’s feelings of hatred towards you.  You should consider him as if he were righteous and treat him favorably.  In a very short time, that person will begin to like you.  Ravid HaZahav interprets this verse, “You shall not hate your brother BECAUSE of your heart.”  You might have a warm heart and do favors for others.  Nevertheless, if your friend lacks this trait, do not hate him for it.


  1. Hochayach Tochiach Es Amisecha, V’lo Sisa Alov Chait” ( 19:17 )--you shall rebuke your fellow man, and you shall not bear sin because of him.  We are commanded to correct someone who behaves improperly, whether in matters pertaining to man’s relations with G-d or man’s relationship with his fellow man.


*The most important rule to remember about rebuke is that it must be administered with love and as painlessly as possible.  Only when the recipient of rebuke feels that the rebuker loves him, will he readily accept the admonition.


*Some people mistakenly think that the commandment to admonish others applies only to Rabbis and teachers.  But the truth is that every single person, even if he is unlearned, who sees someone behaving improperly is obligated to rebuke him.  Quite often the rebuke of a friend will be more effective than the rebuke of a Rabbi.  Some people might not heed the admonition of a Rabbi with the following rationalization: “If I were a Rabbi I would or would not do such and such.  But I’m just an ordinary layman.”  If, however, their friend rebukes them, they are likely to think to themselves: “If he is careful about this matter, then I should be, too.”  The author of the Noam Hatochocho writes that the mitzvah of correcting others is a Mais Mitzvah (a Mitzvah that is improperly ignored).  There are many Mitzvah observers who do not realize that correcting others is obligatory and not merely meritorious.  The severity of failing to correct others can be seen from the opinion in the Talmud which states that Yerushalayim was destroyed because the inhabitants failed to rebuke one another.  The Chofetz Chaim wrote that some people are careful to fulfill the commandments themselves, but never try to influence others to fulfill them.  In essence, they are saying, “I won’t suffer in gehinnom, so I don’t have to…..”  Such a person is selfish for he thinks only about himself and his own reward.  He shows a lack of feeling for Hashem’s honor and his fellow man’s spiritual welfare.  He is also wrong--for he will be held responsible for failing to perform this essential Mitzvah.


* When you rebuke someone, you must do so privately so as not to embarrass him.  This applies both when the matter pertains to his having wronged you, and when the matter pertains to his improper behavior relating to his obligations to G-d.


*If someone transgresses in public, you should rebuke him immediately so as not to cause a Chillul Hashem.  For example, if someone is in the middle of speaking Lashon Hara in front of a group of people, it is correct to point out his transgression immediately, even though other people are present.  Of course, this should be done in the most tactful manner possible (HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl).


*You must be very careful not to grow angry when rebuking someone.  Rebuke delivered in anger will not be heeded.  Even when you admonish your children or other members of your family, you should do so in a pleasant tone of voice.


*Before admonishing someone, offer a prayer that your admonition should be delivered in a manner that will be effective.


*If a person you have rebuked did not heed you the first time, you should continue to rebuke him as many times as necessary until he corrects his ways.  The Talmud says “Even a hundred times”.  The Chofetz Chaim gives an analogy to someone who sells apples from a stand.  He will keep calling out “Apples for sale!” the entire day.  Even if only one passerby in a hundred heeds his sales pitch, it is worthwhile.  This is his livelihood, and he cannot afford to remain silent.  The same is true of rebuke.  Of course, a person does not always effect a change in the recipient of his rebuke.  But even if he is successful only occasionally, it is worth his efforts.


*A person should feel love for someone who rebukes him.  A person is willing to pay a doctor for trying to heal him; how much more grateful should he be to someone who corrects his spiritual failings.


*If a whole group of people are in need of correction, you will be most successful if you admonish each person individually.  Speaking to the group as a whole will not have the same effect.


*If a person heeds you and improves his ways, all the Mitzvos he subsequently performs as a consequence of this reproof bring reward to you as well as the doer himself (Vilna Gaon in Even Shleimah 6:7)!




24 Nissan

Special Note One:  We continue with post-Pesach important points and pointers:


A.  The Chasam Sofer on the Haggadah (on the section of Ha Lachmah Anya) teaches that we know there are certain things that can bring the Geulah.  One of them, as indicated by the words ‘Kol Dichfin Yesei VeYeichol’ is the giving of Tzedakah.  We are, of course, familiar with the Pasuk in Yeshaya ( 1:27 ) as well:  Tzion BeMishpat Tipadeh V’Shaveha B’Tzedakah”.  It very much behooves us, then, to give Tzedakah--especially for the sake of Geulah.  In this post-Pesach period, many of us may feel that we have given an inordinate amount of Tzedakah before Pesach, and that there are several weeks until the next Yom Tov when we will give again.  We may suggest, however, that one overcome this guile of the Yetzer Hara--especially in this month of Geulah--and give Tzedakah--perhaps even on a regular or periodic basis for the sake of Geulah!  We all believe, and we all know as an absolute truth that the Geulah is coming.  Giving Tzedakah to bring it is truly much more secure than money in the bank!


B. The Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Mo’adim II, p.428) teaches that we can reinforce our feelings for the Geulah Shleimah every day in the Tefillah of Ezras Avoseinu which contains so many powerfully meaningful phrases, among them:


-”Ezras AvoseinuMagen U’Moshiah Livneihem Achareihem Bechol Dor V’Dor”


-”U’Mibaladecha Ain Lanu Melech Go’el U’Moshiah”


-”VeOneh LeAmo B’Eis Shavam Eilav”


-”Tzur Yisrael Kumah B’Ezras Yisrael U’fdeih Chinumecha Yehudah V’Yisrael”


Taking literally just an extra moment to feel the words as one says them can strengthen one’s D’veikus to Hashem and deepen one’s yearning for the Geulah Sheleimah. 


C.  If one had to describe the essence of Pesach in one word, it would be ‘Emunah’.  Even the Matzah is described as the Food of Emunah.  The most famous Ramban in Chumash found at the end of Parashas Bo (which we understand HaRav Wolbe, Z’tl, said should be memorized) affirmatively states:  “and from the great and famous miracles, one must recognize the hidden miracles of everyday life which are the Yesod HaTorah Kulah--the foundation of the entire Torah.”  One has no part in the Torah unless he believes that all of our affairs and experiences-- everything that occurs in one’s life--are miracles, and that there is no nature, nor a ‘minhag haolam’ at all--either on a communal, or a private level.  In fact, HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, writes that anything that can be ascribed to Tevah and Mazal are Nisyonos in life.  Based on this most fundamental of Torah teachings, we present the following essential teachings:


1.  The Rabbeinu Bachya (Shemos 14:31 ) brings from the Rabbeinu Chananel that there are four basic parts to Emunah: (A) Emunah B’HaKadosh Baruch Hu; (B) Emunah B’Nevi’im; (C) Emunah B’Olam Habba; and (D) Emunah B’Vi’as HaGoel.  The Rabbeinu Bachya continues that one who possesses these four beliefs has great zechuyos.  He provides an essential method for one strengthening his Emunah--and that is to answer Amen to the brachos of others.  Amen, of course, is an acronym for Kel-Melech-Ne’eman--that Hashem is our G-d and trustworthy King.  With these three words (and consequently in the one word of Amen) we describe Hashem as the All-Powerful-One Who closely watches over us and Who punishes and rewards in accordance with our deeds.  Hakhel Note:  Accordingly, it would be very much in order for one to commence a personal Amen campaign--in which he sincerely and dedicatedly answers this sacred word (which should not be uttered in vain) with Kavannah and feeling. 


2.  At the outset of Hallel, we recite the Pesukim: “Rom Ahl Kol Goyim Hashem…” followed by “Me KaShem ElokeinuHaMashpili Liros BaShomayim U’Va’aretz”.  This means that while the world believes that Hashem is in the distant Heavens, gazing upon us far away from humanity--we know that we can feel Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis hovering over us and directly upon us. However, there are different levels of Hashgacha Pratis that one can experience.  The Ramban (Iyov 36:7) writes:  Kefi Kirvaso LeHidabeik BeEilokav Yishtamer Shemirah Me’ulah--in accordance with one’s desire to come close to Hashem, will Hashem come closer and watch over him.”  How can we develop our D’veikus B’Hashem?  The Sifsei Chaim brings the fascinating words of Yirmiyahu HaNavi (9:22-23):  Ko Amar Hashem Ahl Yishallel Hachochom BeChachmaso…--thus said Hashem:  ‘Let not the wise man glorify himself with his wisdom, and let not the strong man glorify himself with his strength, let not the rich man glorify himself with his wealth.  For only with this may one glorify himself--contemplating and knowing Me.”  The Sifsei Chaim explains that this means that our importance to Hashem is not dependent on our wisdom, strength or abilities--but only in how we exercise our bechirah towards Avodas Hashem.  He continues that when each person recognizes his reward in Olam Haba, it will not be based on the fact that he was a Rosh Yeshiva, or a Chassidic Rebbe, or a children’s Rebbi or a businessman or an accountant.  Rather, it will be in accordance with the madreigah that he was supposed to have reached in this world in his Avodas Hashem--every person Kidrachav U’Kefi Ma’alalav.  It is for this reason that Hashem hides the complete Da’as Hashem from us in this world--and we will only understand Hashem’s actions in Olam Hazeh at the Geulah Sheleimah--it is to give us the opportunity to exercise our Bechirah Chafshis and to realize our potential without being forced or even easily led to the only true conclusion. 


3.  At the end, the darkness of Galus will be exceedingly dark, as the Pasuk (Zechariah 49:7) says:  Le’eis Erev Yehiyeh Ohr”--so that the clarity of the light will be most appreciated.  As things appear dark, darker, darkest (now with our own people attacking us in Eretz Yisrael, we must strengthen ourselves with the knowledge that the clarity of true light will soon shine forth.”  As Dovid HaMelech teaches (Tehillim 90: 15):  Samcheinu KeYimos Inisanu--Hashem will bring us joy to compensate for the previous afflictions”.


4.  The Sefer Nefesh HaChaim (1:9) brings the Pasuk in Shir HaShirim (1:9):  Lesusasi BeRichbei Paroh Demiseich Rayasi”--Hashem, I realize that my relationship with You can be compared to that of the horses of Paroh’s army in the hands of the chariot riders.  He remarkably explains that the world improperly believes that Hashem directs us in this way and that, just as chariot riders direct horses to go here and to go there.  However, this is not what happened to Paroh’s chariot riders--they did not lead the horses, the horse miraculously led them.  With the Geulas Mitzrayim, Hashem put us in a position of the horses at Kriyas Yam Suf which led the driver.  We determine our own fate and the fate of the world--by our choices, by our actions.  Hashem lets us ‘run the world’ in this way.  Will the Geulah come today--time will not tell--we will!


5.  To take a short and potent Emunah lesson with us daily, we highly recommend Emuna Daily.   To join and for further information contact:  emunadaily@gmail.com.  The recording is available via telephone as well:  Dial (605) 475-4799, access code 840886#.



Special Note Two: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.





My Sephardi friend needed to borrow a pair of tefillin the other day.  When I offered to lend him my Ashkenazi tefillin, he declined, explaining that the Sephardi poskim maintain that a Sephardi cannot make a berachah on Ashkenazi tefillin.  But didn’t you say that Kesav Ashkenaz is kosher even for Sephardim?



Kesav Ashkenaz is kosher even for Sephardim. The reason many Sephardi poskim maintain that a Sephardi may not make a berachah on Ashkenaz tefillin is unrelated to the actual kesav.  We will address this in a later discussion.



I live in a rented apartment, and just discovered that the mezuzos here are Kesav Velish. Do I need to replace them?



No. Since most poskim are of the opinion that the obligation of a tenant to affix mezuzos is only a Rabbinic directive, but not a Torah obligation, one may continue to use the Velish mezuzos as long as he is only renting.


It must be noted that when using the kesav of a different minhag, one should be careful to ensure that the writing is not b’dieved. Often, what may be considered kosher b’dieved according to one minhag would be considered pasul according to a different minhag.



I noticed that the shin on the battim of my tefillin is a “Velishshin. Is this a serious issue for an Ashkenazi Jew like myself?



Not at all. First of all, a “Velishshin as it appears on battim is kosher for Ashkenazim.  Secondly, the shin on the battim need not be identical to the shin written in STA”M. Hence, if one wears Kesav Arizal tefillin while on the Bayis Shel Rosh he has a Beis Yosef Shin (a common occurrence); there is no need for concern.




23 Nissan

QUESTION OF THE DAY ONE :  If the Moshiach comes between today and Pesach Sheni (the 14th of Iyar), will each one of us bring a Korban Pesach on Pesach Sheni, or because we missed bringing the Korban Pesach on Erev Pesach will we have to wait all the way until next year to bring the Korban Pesach?



QUESTION OF THE DAY TWO:  Which two seforim in Tanach do not have Hashem’s name mentioned in them?



QUOTE OF THE DAY :  From HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Z’tl, would often advise:  “Keep on smiling, and keep on going!”



NON-GEBROKTS ADVISORY:  There are still many cake and cookie products (many ‘on sale’) left from Pesach.  Please remember that many of these products are non-Gebrokts, and the appropriate bracha is Shehakol and Borei Nefashos.  Even if you know it--you may be used to making a Mezonos on the cake and Shehakol on the coffee--so extra special care is required.  This will provide you with a special opportunity to focus and concentrate on you Brachos--one great way to practice your Emunah in this post-Pesach period.




Special Note One:  We provide the following points and pointers on this Isru Chag:


A.  We are still in the month of Nissan--there is a real reason that we continue not to utter the Tachanun supplication daily. Chazal remind us that B’Nissan Nigalu U’V’Nissan Assidin Liga’el--just as we were redeemed in Nissan in the past--we will be redeemed in Nissan in the future.  We must continue to take a step back to at least appreciate what this means. Each day in Mussaf over Pesach we exclaimed V’Havi’einu L’Tzion Irecha B’Rina Velirushalayim Beis Mikdashecha BeSimchas Olam--bring us to Tzion, Your city, in glad song, and to Yerushalayim, home of Your sanctuary, in eternal joy.  While we cannot fathom the glad song of millions of people together, nor the eternal joy of even ourselves personally--we must at least appreciate how we need to yearn and long for the moment--which will then incredibly become eternal! We must remind ourselves of the poignant words of the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim (end of Chapter 19), who teaches that each and every individual must daven for the Geulas Yisrael, pointedly writing as follows:


Im Yomar Adam Me Ani…She’espalel Ahl Yerushalayim--if a person would say ‘Who am I…to daven for Yerushalayim--will it be because of my prayer that the Yeshuah will come?....” This is why a person was created individually, so that each individual should say ‘The world was created for me!’  It is certainly a Nachas Ruach to Hashem that His children plead and pray for the Geulah…. Each and every one of us is therefore obligated to do so, and no one can excuse himself because of his lack of position or power…for it is not possible for Kevod Shomayim to be increased until the Geulah of Yisrael comes, as the two are interdependent….”


Now--Nissan 5774, as the pangs of Ikvasah D’Moshicha beat about us--is the time for us to be especially passionate--now--Nissan 5774, is the time for each and every one of us to call out in our hearts for the Geulas Yisrael!  Do not lose--and instead very dedicatedly use--the opportunities in each Shemone Esrei, most certainly over the next week:  Tekah BeShofar, Velirushalayim Ircha, Es Tzemach, V’sechezenah Eineinu Beshuvecha L’Tzion, Sheyibaneh Beis HaMikdash BeMeheirah V’Yameinu, and VeArvah LaShem Minchas Yehudah Virushalayim. Let us call out from the heart--and may our calls be answered just as our forefathers’ calls were heard, as testified by the Pasuk (Shemos 2:23 ,24):  Vata’al Shavasam Ehl HaElokim…Vayishmah Elokim Es Na’akasam VaYizkor Elokim Es Briso….”  May it be speedily and in our days!


B.  We have concluded our recitation of Hallel HaMitzri (Tehillim 113-118), and Chazal teach that it would be inappropriate to continue to recite it daily as Hallel during the rest of the year.  There is, however, a second Hallel, which is known as Hallel HaGadol (Tehillim 136).  Hallel HaGadol contains 26 Pesukim each of which ends with the phrase “Ki Le’olam Chasdo--for His kindness endures forever.” HaRav Meir Schuck, Z’tl, brings Chazal (Pesachim 118A) who teach that the reason this Kepitel is known as Hallel HaGadol--the great Hallel, is because of the conclusion it contains--Nosein Lechem Lechol Basar Ki Le’olam Chasdo, in which we affirm our unwavering belief that Hashem not only is the executor of open miracles--splitting the sea, giving us water in the desert, giving us the Torah from the Heavens among the trembling mountains--but that He also sustains each and every creature in accordance with his needs. Hallel HaGadol thanks Hashem for His everyday kindness to us. On a daily basis, HaRav Schuck, Z’tl, explains, we must express our Ki Le’olam Chasdo for the miracles within what is to others nature itself. If one can relate back the world and its common experiences--eating, drinking, taking care of one’s needs, seeing the things that he sees, meeting the people that he meets, all back to their Source--then on a daily basis, and in fact many times on a daily basis he can remember the phrase:  Nosein Lechem Lechol Basar Ki Le’olam Chasdo!”


C.  Perhaps one of the most famous phrases in Ahz Yashir is Zeh Keili V’Anveihu--which Chazal (Shabbos 133B) interpret as teaching us that one should beautify the Mitzvos, by building a nice Sukkah, buying a beautiful Lulav, wearing nice Tzitzis…. HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Z’tl, teaches that the beautification of Mitzvos are not limited to Mitzvos which are Bein Adam LaMakom--rather the guideline of Zeh Keili V’Anveihu applies just as equally to Mitzvos which are Bein Adam L’Chaveiro as well.  Accordingly, when addressing another it should be in a pleasant and respectful manner, when writing to someone it should be in a neat and thoughtful way, when giving Tzedakah it should be with the feeling that I am helping another Tzelem Elokim.  When one beautifies any Mitzvah--whether it is Bein Adam LaMakom or Bein Adam L’Chaveiro--he indeed most beautifies himself! 



Special Note Two:    As we all know, Chazal teach “Ra’asah Shifcha Al Hayam Mah Shelo Ra’ah…the maidservant at the sea saw what the greatest of the Nevi’im were not able to see in their most sublime of prophesies.  The Ba’alei Mussar point out that even after everything that the maidservants saw in the heavens, on the earth, and on the sea--the next day they still remained maidservants.  How could this be?!  The explanation is that over time the supernally uplifting experience that the maidservants had, dissipated because after the experience they left it and did not seek to remain on the high level they had attained.  It is perhaps for this reason that the phrase Isru Chag is based upon the term in Hallel “Isru Chag Ba’avosim--tie the Chag with thick rope (Tehillim 118:27, Metzudas Tzion).”  The attachment must be a strong one in order for it to last.  Similarly, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Shir HaShirim:  Ve’im Teoreru Es HaAhavah Ad Shetechbatz.”  Rav Dessler, Z’tl, teaches that this means that we must be able to concretely relate that which we have learned to our everyday life.  Accordingly, we present below several teachings and lessons that we can take with us from the Pesach we have just experienced into the coming months:


A.  Every morning we make the bracha of Shelo Asani Aved.  This bracha should now come to life for us daily--for we truly could have been lowly, petrified, servile, decadent slaves with no independent bearing or existence of our own.  Moreover, since we achieved Cheirus Olam when we left Mitzrayim--the nations of the world have never been able to destroy us or even enslave us as a people again.  Remember--Shelo Asani Aved--say it with appreciation!


B.  Every morning we make the bracha of Shelo Asani Goy.  The Maharal explains that just as the Six Days of Creation reached their pinnacle with the creation of man, so too, did mankind reach its pinnacle with the creation of Bnei Yisroel from the Kur HaBarzel of Mitzrayim.  Our exodus thus enabled mankind to reach its potential, rather than be destroyed for lack of fulfillment.  If the Bnei Yisroel would have remained just another Goy, not only would we have taken the path of so many other nations which fell away and disappeared, but the world itself could not have survived.  Thus, the fact that Hashem has not made us like the other nations is, quite literally, keeping everyone going.  Remember--Shelo Asani Goy--not only being personally privileged--but having creation reach its intent--and allowing each sunrise to keep coming! 


C.  Dovid HaMelech exclaims (Tehillim118:24) “…Zeh Hayom…Nagilah VeNesmicha Vo--this is the day…let us rejoice and be glad in Him.”  The Malbim provides us here with an extremely fundamental lesson.  He writes that Dovid HaMelech is teaching us that the Ikar Simcha is not in the Yeshua itself, but in the awareness that Hashem is with us.  The miracles we experience are given to us not as an end, but as a means for us to recognize Hashem’s closeness to us.  Remember--Nagilah VeNesmicha Vo--we can rejoice that Hashem is with us--each and every day!  This is the Ikar Simcha! 


D.  Before performing many of our mitzvos, we recite the bracha “Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosav Vetzivanu--Who sanctified us with His Mitzvos (plural), and commanded us to perform [the particular Mitzvah of…eating of Matzah, the taking of the Lulav, enwrapping in Tzitzis].  The Chasam Sofer asks--should not the Nusach HaBracha on a Mitzvah be Asher Kideshana BeMitzvaso Vetzivanu (singular and not plural)--Who sanctified us in the Mitzvah, i.e., the Mitzvah I am about to perform [the eating of Matzah, the taking of the Lulav, the enwrapping in Tzitzis]?  Why not be specific and talk about our sanctification with the Mitzvah at hand?  The Chasam Sofer answers that, as the Zohar explains, the 248 Mitzvos Asei and the 365 Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei are the counterparts of our Eivarim and Giddim respectively.  We cannot sanctify one Eiver or Gid at a time, for as we know, a Karbon that is missing a limb is Pasul.  It is likewise inappropriate for us to recite that we are being sanctified only by the one Mitzvah that we are about to perform.  Rather, we declare our Kedusha through our acceptance of the Mitzvos in general, and that we are now going to perform this Mitzvah in particular.  We thus unabashedly, unequivocally and rejoicingly declare that with every Mitzvah that we perform, we are accepting upon ourselves the privilege, obligation, wholesomeness and Kedusah of all of the Mitzvos!



Special Note Three:  Having just left Pesach, we recall the powerful words of the Rambam (Hilchos Brachos 10:26 ):


“The primary rule is that a person should always call out to Hashem for the future and ask for His mercy; and give thanks for the past and praise Hashem, each person according to his strength.  And the more one thanks Hashem and constantly praises Him, the more praiseworthy he himself is.”


Rav Chaim Friedlander Z’TL deduces from this, and notes that, the Rambam does NOT write that the more one calls out to Hashem and asks for His mercy, the more praiseworthy he is.  Rather, the Rambam writes the more one thanks and praises Hashem, the greater he is.  Indeed, Chazal teach us that in the future, the Korban Todah--the Thanks Offering--will be the Korban that continues on and remains with us after the world becomes filled with the knowledge of Hashem.  The Sin Offerings and the Guilt Offerings will no longer have a place in our lives, but thanks always will.


It is amazing to note that the level of thanks and praise to Hashem on Pesach is so high that no Korban Todah can be brought because they must be brought with chometz loaves of bread--which is impossible on Pesach!  This is obviously no coincidence, as the Torah could have either excluded the chometz loaves from the offering on Pesach, or permitted them for the sake of the offering only.  The message is clear--on Pesach, we have grown even above this Korban.


Let us start the Spring/Summer season with our right foot forward, by keeping our Pesach spirit of Thanks and Hallel, so that as we begin to once again recite Mizmor L’Sodah daily, we will merge and blend our joy over the redemption of the past into an everlasting thanks continuing into the future.


Additional Note:  On the Pasuk that we recite daily in Pesukei DeZimra “Romemos Kail BiGronam VeCherev Piphios BeYadam”--the lofty praises of Hashem are in their throats and a double-edged sword is in their hands” (Tehillim 149:6), Rashi says it all by writing that the lofty praises of Hashem in their throats are the double-edged sword in their hands.  Do we get the message?  This is how we can continue the Geulah in our day!


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  As you go through davening (especially Pesukei D’Zimrah) focus on and feel the words of thanks--especially considering your being born close to the time of the Final Redemption and your having the tremendous opportunity to contribute to the last stages of Zechusim, putting up those last few bricks on the wall, to bring Moshiach, Bimheira V’yameinu!




14 Nissan

PRE -SEDER TEFILLAH!  By clicking here, we provide a link for a special Tefillah to be recited before commencing the Seder from the Siddur Ha’Arizal, which is not found in many Haggados.  May this Tefillah make its way directly to the Kisey HaKavod, and may it inspire our entire Seder!



SEFIRA REMINDER FROM TEFILLOS.COM:  “Tefillos.com is reminding you that we will again be sending Sefira Reminders this year.  Please logon to your account at http://www.tefillos.com/myaccount.asp and set your preferences.  If your cell phone number has changed, please update.  For new account signup, go to http://www.tefillos.com/rebyid.asp and click on Click here to Sign up!”



IF YOU LEARN just three Mishnayos a day of Mesechta Chagiga over Pesach--you will finish the entire Mesechta in Mishnayos by the end of the Chag--if you cannot bring a Korban Chagiga--this could be an important indication of how much you want to….



QUESTION OF THE DAY ONE :  When did the Geulah take place--on the night of the fifteenth, or the day of the fifteenth? Hint: See Ramban on Ibn Ezra to Shemos 12:31,



QUESTION OF THE DAY TWO:  Who was the first person to say “Halleluka Hallelu Avdei Hashem”?



QUESTION OF THE DAY THREE:  If a majority of the Tzibbur was not Tamei Mais, and if the Kohanim were not Tamei--but the K’li Shareis were Tamei--would the Korban Pesach be brought?  Hint-see Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach 7:1.



QUESTION OF THE DAY FOUR :  When is it that on Erev Pesach we blow Tekiah Teruah Tekiah three separate times i.e., nine Kolos all together, as on Rosh HaShana!?  Hint: See Mesechta Pesachim, Perek 5, Mishna 5.



FROM A READER!  Rav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, teaches that Erev Pesach is the time to be Misgaber on the Kelipos Paroh which is represented by the challenges of Anger and Ga’ava.




Special Note One:  We continue our Pre-Pesach points and pointers: 


A.  In Makkas Choshech--those members of K’lal Yisrael who were not inspired and actually stayed in the dark--r’l ended their lives there in galus. The tragic results were that neither they nor the hundreds of generations that would have succeeded them were zoche to live in this world with the Torah and bask in the reality of eternity.  As we look at our brethren immediately around us, we must realize that this is Hatzalas Nefashos--not only for their lives-but for all of their future generations as well.  You don’t have to be in Hatzalah for this--nor do you have to take any special training--you just have to stretch out your hand with a desire to save--as did Bisya bas Paroh--and we know the results for her, and for all of K’lal Yisrael!


B.  As we continue our preparations for Pesach, we ONCE AGAIN note that one aspect which is me’akev--an absolute requirement--for men [and some women]at the Seder is the act of Heseibah (translated as reclining) while eating Matzah, drinking the Daled Kosos, and possibly when

fulfilling other Mitzvos during the evening.  As we have recently noted, in order to accomplish Heseibah it is insufficient for one merely to tilt his body to the left.  What should one actually do---besides asking someone to bring a pillow to put on your chair?  May we recommend that you ask your Rav or Posek for a visual demonstration.  Don’t wait until you get home on the Seder night--realizing that you are not exactly sure how to do this... 


Additional Note:  As a starting point, we provide the following excerpt from the outstanding work Guidelines to Pesach--which is part of the outstanding Guidelines Halacha Series, by Rabbi Elozor Barclay, Shlita, and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger, Shlita.


“Question 323:  How should a person recline?  Answer:  Ideally, he should sit on an armchair or on a chair with armrests, and lean to the left side.  Preferably, a pillow or a cushion shall also be placed on the left side of the chair to support the body while reclining.  This adds to the feeling of comfort and freedom.

Question 324:  What if the has only a regular chair?  Answer:  He should recline on the table or on a second chair placed to his left.  Alternatively, he may sit sideways and recline on the back of the chair.  If possible, he should use a pillow or a cushion to create a comfortable position.  A person does not fulfill the Mitzvah by leaning to the left in midair without supporting his body on anything, since this is not the way of a free man.”


C.  At the Seder, two out of the 15 Simanim (more than 10%) are comprised of washing of the hands--U’Rchatz and Rachtza.  Clearly, this is a meaningful and significant activity, and should be viewed as much more than a ministerial or perfunctory act that we do daily. To get ready for the Seder (if you wash Mayim Achronim you will actually wash a third time), may we suggest that rather than thinking about nothing too important or letting your mind wander when washing over the next several days, that with each pour of water over each hand you think--”Thank you Hashem! Thank You Hashem!” and think of something else you are thankful to Hashem for with each pour!  Having difficulty starting?  You can start as far back as Yetzias Mitzrayim, and as close by as having the ability to pick up the cup and pour... and there is much--very much--in between to be thankful for!


D.  For special reasons, Erev Pesach afternoon is unique--we are generally not permitted to perform any melacha that we would not do on Chol HaMoed.  We must, therefore, cut our nails, shave and take haircuts before Chatzos (midday) on Erev Pesach.  If however, one forgot to do so, he may cut his nails in the afternoon.  If one was not able to take a haircut before Chatzos, the Halacha permits it to be given by a non-Jew only.  It does not help to be “already waiting” in the Jewish barber shop as Chatzos arrives.  Please plan your morning accordingly!


E.  The Mitzvah of Chinuch on the Leil HaSeder is perhaps at its peak for the entire year.  For those who have children below the age of Bar/Bas Mitzvah, one should be careful to review his responsibility and his child’s responsibility, as to the different aspects of the Seder--eating of the Matzah, the drinking of each one of the Four Cups, Heseiba (reclining), Hallel, Marror, and the other Mitzvos, minhagim and halachos of the night.  See The Halachos of Pesach (by Rabbi Shimon Eider, Z’tl) and Children in Halacha (by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita) for further elaboration in these areas.


F.  All are in agreement that a major theme of the Seder is Hakaras Hatov.  Indeed, we uniquely and especially read from the Parasha of Bikurim at the Seder--in which a person specifically expresses his thanks to Hashem for enabling him to fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikurim.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, points to the language of the Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel on the key words “Higadeti HaYom LaHashem Elokecha”, contained in the Parasha of Bikurim.  The Targum explains that the word Higadeti (related to Haggadah) means to thank and praise Hashem.  In our Haggadah too, then, this must be a main focus.  At the Seder, we should especially emphasize words of Hakaras HaTov--expressing sincere thanks for the hard work and important thoughts of others, as well as words of praise and compliment wherever there is even the slightest doubt as to whether they should be given!


G.  An additional, essential theme of the Leil HaSeder is, of course, Emunah, and its transmission from generation to generation.  One should seek out stories of Emunah, and should now think about and jot down situations and events personally and globally over the past year, which clearly evidenced the Yad Hashem.  The relating of these stories on the Leil HaSeder should be especially mesugal to strengthen the Emunah of all those present. 


H.  We asked Rabbi Yisroel Pinchas Bodner, Shlita, if he could provide us with some guidance on checking Matzos (as he is an expert in this area as well).  He provided the following two basic rules: 


1.  With regard to bugs, if the Matzah has been saved from a previous year, one should check it for bugs by holding the Matzah and observing if there are any webbing strings hanging from the Matzah.  If not, then the Matzah is fine.


2.  With regard to Kefulos, examine the Matzah to see if there are any folds, i.e., there is a part which folded and two layers are stuck together.  Also check for a bubble where the inside of the bubble remained not fully baked.  Break off the piece in question and discard.  When in doubt, one should throw out. Hakhel Note:  For more detail, one can study the specially written Pesach books, and can also see  http://star-k.org/kashrus/kk-passover-matzoh.htm


I.  One should especially note the words and phrases in the Haggadah with which he may have difficulty translating--and make sure that he understands them. For instance, the word ‘Misboseses’ or the term ‘Ba’adi Adayim’, may not be familiar--and there may be important meanings, translations and explanations which are lost because one skips over the word.  In fact, this year, perhaps one should make a special effort to explain those precious words of the Haggadah, which he may have glossed over in the past.  As an example, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, explains that even though the blood we are referring to with the word Misboseses is the blood of the Karbon Pesach and the blood of Milah--really not too much blood--the word Misboseses would seem to indicate a great amount of blood that is flowing.  Why, then, would we use this word here?  Rabbi Lieff explains that if a king or a prince cuts his finger, the people in the palace rush around, the royal physician is called and there is much more commotion than there would otherwise be if this was ‘only’ the cut finger of a commoner.  On the night of the Seder, we must appreciate that for us--our blood is Misboseses--every drop is royal blood!


J.  The following is excerpted from the Laws of the Seder by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Shlita (Artscroll), and it relates directly to those who wish to drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee after Kiddush on the Leil HaSeder:  “It is permitted to drink anything, including wine, between the first two cups (Rashbam, based on Pesachim 10:7, Orach Chaim 473:3).  To do so, however, one must be sure to have had these additional drinks in mind when he recited the bracha of Borei Pri HaGafen over wine during Kiddush [which would then include these additional drinks as well, without the need to make a further bracha].  Otherwise, one would have to recite another bracha before drinking, and this would create the problem of ‘apparently adding onto the number of cups’, a prohibition mentioned by Rema (472:7), although we are not aware of a Talmudic source for this stricture…Nevertheless, the Shulchan Aruch [because of the opinion of the Kol Bo] rules that one should refrain from drinking between the first two cups.”  Hakhel Note:  Accordingly, it would appear that whether one could drink between the first two cups may be a matter of difference between Ashkenazim and Sefardim, and accordingly, one should consult with his Rav or Posek for a final ruling in one’s particular situation. 


K.  The following is the start of a sampling of questions which should perhaps be addressed as the Seder progresses. Please feel free to add to the list, and to share your thoughts with us on additional points as well!


1.      Why were we exiled?

2.      If we had to be exiled, why couldn’t it be to Lavan’s area?

3.      Why were we taken out of Mitzrayim--and what can we do today to achieve a similar result?

4.      How many time is Moshe Rabbeinu’s name mentioned in the Haggadah?

5.      Lehavdil, how many times is Paroh’s name mentioned in the Haggadah?

6.      What is the Middah K’Neged Middah of each Makkah?

7.      Why did Hashem let the Chartumim mimic the first two Makkos?

8.      You are a witness of Makkas _____________--describe it!

9.      What Nissim happened in Mitzrayim besides for the Makkos?

10.  Give three reasons why Matzah is called Lechem Oni.

11.  Why were the Mitzriim told we would only be leaving for three days?

12.  Why were items only “borrowed” from the Egyptian homes?

13.  Why did we not leave when Paroh told us to--why did the process of redemption start at night and continue on through the day?

14.  Why is the Seder not in the daytime, if we left in the daytime?

15.  What Pasuk is recited three times in a row in the Haggadah, and why?

16.   Can [each participant] give five things that he has Hakaras Hatov to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for?

17.  Why does the first of the Aseres Hadibros say that I am Hashem Who took you out of Egypt , and not I am Hashem Who created the world?


Hakhel Note:  Remember--if you were told that you had won the $640 million lottery, oh what inspiration and excitement you would feel!  You are gaining a lot more on the Seder Night!



Special Note Two:  Several points made by Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, which relate to the Seder: 


A.  The tone of the Seder must be emotional, inspirational, ‘geshmake’, and one of celebration.  One’s language should be the language of the heart, and one should personalize and connect everyone to Hashem. 


B.  Ke’ilu Yatzah MiMitzrayim’ means that one must project to others that he himself has left Egypt .


C.  According to the Rosh, the Matzos are Lachmei Todah, intended to express our thanks for our freedom, our family, our friends, our possessions.  With this, we can understand why we do not make a bracha before we start the Seder--after all, how can we say ‘VeTzivanu--and He commanded us’ on sincere feelings of pure thanks?!


D.  The Shulchan Orech part of the Seder is like a Seudas Hoda’ah (see Rambam, Hilchos Chometz U’Matzah 7:8).  The ultimate way to serve Hashem is through Hakaras HaTov and Hoda’ah!


E.  The Birchas HaMazon on  the Leil HaSeder is very important--do not ‘gulp it down’ because you may feel momentarily weary or fatigued.  Wake up, meet the challenge, and regal in the experience!


F.  The family and minhagim should be kept--even if there may be nicer or other ‘up-to-date’ tunes. 


G.  One should be sure to practice savlanus--to be extremely patient, and not be angered--during the course of testy moments at the Seder.  Fascinatingly, Rabbi Lieff related that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, used Halperin machine Matzas, which he felt were the best choice, while each of his sons and sons in-law, had their own different kind of Matzas next to him at the Seder. 


H.  Tzafun teaches us that a lot of good things are hidden away for us--we just have to put the Matzah away…until it is revealed!



Special Note Three:  One must come into the Seder stocked with help to hopefully help to hopefully enhance and in-trance.  To get us started, we provide the following Mashal of the Dubno Maggid as present in The Maggid of Dubno and his Parables by Benno Heinemann (Feldheim):


“Hashem had given Avraham Avinu a glimpse of the future of the nation which would be descended from him.  He told Avraham that Bnei Yisrael would be enslaved and know great suffering, but that, in the end, they would “go forth with great abundance” as free men.  Now what was this great abundance?  Chazal tell us that it was the Torah that the Bnei Yisrael received in the wilderness on Har Sinai.  But, if this is indeed true, why were we, before leaving Mitzrayim, actually commanded to ask the Mitzriyim for money and goods?  The Maggid of Dubno would reconcile this contradiction with one of his famous Mesholim:  A young man had hired himself out to a wealthy merchant to serve him for six years, for which he would be paid with a bag of silver coins.  When the six years were over and the time came for the servant to leave, it occurred to the master that a bag of silver was much too small a reward for the splendid services the boy had rendered him.  He therefore put the silver aside and instead wrote out a check in an amount many times that of the total value of the silver coins.  But the servant, instead of thanking his master for his generosity, sullenly stuffed the piece of paper into his pocket and went home weeping.  The next day his father called at the merchant’s house and said to the wealthy man, “You have been most generous to my son and I want to thank you.  But the boy is still a child and does not comprehend the value of a check. All he knew was that he expected to receive a bag filled with shiny new coins and that instead he got a plain sheet of paper.  I should be most grateful, therefore, if you would let him have at least part of his wages in solid silver.”


In the same manner did Avraham Avinu come to Hashem, saying, “You have been generous indeed in promising the Torah to my descendants.  But the nation will be young and not mature enough to understand the value of the Torah, and if they will have to leave the slavery of Mitzrayim with empty hands they will say ‘Indeed, Hashem has fulfilled part of His promise.  We did become slaves.  But what about the great abundance which we were to receive at the hour of our deliverance?’  “It is for this reason, that Bnei Yisrael were clearly commanded to take gold and silver vessels from the Mitzriyim.  This would be tangible wealth which they could appreciate at that time.  In this manner, the Bnei Yisrael would see immediately that the promise given by Hashem to their righteous forbearer had retained its validity.  It was only as Bnei Yisrael grew in wisdom that it came to understand that its true wealth lay not in the coins and trinkets gathered in Mitzrayim but in the Divine gift of the Torah, which has stood by our side to this very day.”


Hakhel Note:  In addition to this outstanding work on the Dubno Maggid, there is also a Haggadah which is comprised entirely of Mesholim related by different Gedolim (including the Dubno Maggid), entitled The Palace Gates Haggadah (translated from the Hebrew--Feldheim).



Special Note Four:  As in the past, we provide: LET’S TALK HAGGADAH!


Below are some practical Haggadah notes, which we have culled from Ba’alei Mussar and Maggidei Shiur:


1.  Since it is of the essence of the Seder to feel that YOU PERSONALLY left Mitzrayim, you and those around you should consider closing your eyes, putting yourself there,


  • and thinking about/describing the “Avodas Perech” and the pain of enslavement--YOU ARE THERE


  • and thinking about/describing the Makkos, and its effect on the Mitzri’im and on B’nei Yisroel--YOU ARE THERE


  • and talking about the miracles, other than the Makkos, that YOU witnessed in Egypt --YOU ARE THERE


  • As you prepare for the Geulah--describe what you took (would take), how you reacted (would react) to the news that the time had come (as you would for Moshiach) and picture and discuss the events of the night and day of the Geulah.  How could three million people gather together so quickly?  What was the scene like?


2.  The night should be emotional.  Everyone can provide their own personal reflections of miracles and/or Hashgacha Pratis stories that happened to them or that they personally know about.


3.  Our focus should be on the salvations commencing with “Arami Oved Avi” through “Rabban Gamliel Haya Omer”--rather than getting caught up in nuances.  We should focus on the order of the Makkos and the Middah K’Neged Middah--How all was according to Hashem’s complete design and control.  Remember, we are becoming Avdei Hashem tonight and we should spend time on recognizing the opportunity of “Cheirus Olam”--the eternal, incredibly incredible position we have claimed tonight.


4.  It is important not be critical or short-tempered.  Remember, the Yetzer Hora is working overtime (past midnight !) to put a wrench into our precious Mitzvos D’Oraysa, Mitzvos D’Rabbanim and Minhagim of the Night.


5.  Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’TL, in the Sefer Kol Ram explains “Pesach, Matzah and Maror” in a unique way.  The Korban Pesach represents how we--in Goshen , many miles away from the Makkas Bechoros in Mitzrayim Proper--still appreciated how it was the Hand of Hashem watching over us, notwithstanding that the danger did not appear to be imminently upon us.  In all situations, we realize that it is Hashem who is watching and protecting us, even if we sense no immediate danger or concern.  Further, explains Rav Feinstein, Matzah, symbolizes how things can suddenly change.  Hashem needs no preparation time.  Therefore, though a person might be in the depths of despair, his situation can suddenly change, and he can go from the forty-ninth level of impurity to complete redemption.  The reverse may also be true, and therefore, a person cannot rely on the good by which he is surrounded and expect that it will be there tomorrow.  We must always pray to, and rely upon, Hashem to be our “Ozer, Moshea and U’Magen”--to come to our aid, save us and shield us--at all times.  Finally, Maror teaches us that we cannot rely upon any government, notwithstanding that the current situation may be sweet and good.  The Mitzriim turned upon us, as did the Germans and many others of their predecessors (the Spanish, the English, and the French to name a few).  Once again, we see a great lesson of Leil HaSeder is that we are now privileged to look to, and pray to, Hashem for all of our salvations in every step of our lives.



Special Note Five: The following is a famous observation of HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl:  Young non-Jewish farmer boys were drafted into the Russian Army for 20 years.  Prior to their induction, they were care-free, not orderly and not particularly concerned with their cleanliness.  During their stay in the Army, they were drilled with discipline, hygiene and orderliness.  Nevertheless, on their return home many years later, they almost immediately reverted to their old habits.  After 20 years of constant, professionally supervised drilling and training--how could this happen so easily?  He said that the answer was very simple:  The farmer boys had no interest in internalizing what they were taught--even though they lived it for 20 years.  There had to be a yearning, a sincere desire, to change, to improve their way of life.  This was absent.  What they accomplished was only a temporary, external habit.


There is a great lesson here.  When we perform the Mitzvos on the Leil HaSeder we must overcome our satisfaction with only external performance of the Mitzvos, and be Me’orer (arouse) ourselves internally to appreciate that when performing these Mitzvos, we rise to the heights of human existence in this world.  Moshe Rabbeinu (who David HaMelech in Tehillim teaches us was one step away from being an angel--Tehillim 8:6) was called an “Eved Hashem” (See Bamidbar 12:7 and Devarim 34:5).  And on the Leil HaSeder we, too, have stepped away from being servants of this world--Avdei Paroh--and have instead became Avdei Hashem!  Your appreciation and utter exuberance over this new-found incredible, boundless and eternal gain should run over and flow through to those around you.  For additional elaboration, see Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzva 16.



Special Note Six:  One important point to remember as we talk about the astounding Makkos is that they did not occur in one neighborhood or in one city--but across an entire country, and exactly within the boundaries of that country.  If we consider a flood or Tsunami affecting one city, or earthquakes in a particular city or area and the devastation they wreaked in seconds--consider a Makka lasting seven days (168 hours, or 604,800 seconds!)  Multiply that by numerous Makkos and the fact that the Bnei Yisroel living in and among the people of Mitzrayim were unaffected--and we can begin to fathom the enormity of the miracles--and the great Emunah we are to imbibe on the Seder night!



Special Note Seven:   What can we think about while we are dedicatedly eating our Matzah at the Seder, and we cannot talk?  Of course, we should reflect that we are doing the Mitzvah as Hashem commanded and to give Him Nachas Ruach.  To further “taste” the Matzah, you may also reflect upon the following teaching of Rav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (Sifsei Chaim 2:342):  Chometz represents a process by which “naturally” (i.e., without the assistance of outside forces) fermentation will occur--hiding Hashem’s hand in the dough.  To the contrary, the quick preparation of the Matzah--its sudden production and completion--shows that Hashem’s hand overrides “nature.”  We therefore do not eat Chometz on Pesach in order to distill any notion of “mother nature,” “the laws of nature,” and the concepts of “coincidental,” “by chance,” “as luck would have it” and the like, and in order to enrich us with the appreciation that it is the Yad Hashem, and the Yad Hashem only, that is conducting and directing--as the Master of all masters--all of our affairs, every minute of the day--notwithstanding the “chometz” of nature apparently occurring every day by itself anyway.  In turn, Matzah is referred to by the Zohar as the food of healing, for it cures us of all of these false notions which are harmful to our existence in this world, and which then perforce harm our existence in the eternal World-to-Come.



Special Note Eight:  The Ritva in his Haggadah (on the words “Vayehi Shum L’Goi), writes that our pe’rud, our lack of unity and friendship, is the “ikar gezeiras hagalus--the main reason that Galus is decreed” upon us(!).  Today and every day, even with and in spite of with the possible tension and pressure that one may feel, let us do what we can to abrogate this decree by keeping our focus on helping our “reyim: in any reasonable way that we can--whether it be with an offer to get an item for someone else during a shopping trip or “How can I help you, I know that….?”--you can fill in the rest, depending on the status and situation of your neighbors and friends.  Hashem wants people who think, and certainly those who think about others.



Special Note Nine:  Chazal teach that we needed the Mitzvos of Dam Pesach and Dam Milah--the blood of the Korban Pesach and the blood of Bris Milah in order to be redeemed.


HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt’l (brought in the Haggadas Arzei Halevanon) asks why it was that these two Mitzvos were chosen specifically by Hashem to give us that final Zechus that we needed for redemption.  He answers that we know that the entire creation is dependent upon our kiyum hamitzvos, our fulfillment of mitzvos.  If we fulfill a mitzvah in a natural way, such as walking to Shul, eating kosher food, or lighting candles for Shabbos, then we keep the world going in an otherwise natural way.  However, if we fulfill a mitzvah by going against our nature, then Hashem in turn will conduct the world in a manner which is beyond its nature as well.


Since we needed something beyond nature, something miraculous, for us to leave Egypt, Hashem gave us two mitzvos which were extremely difficult to perform:  The mitzvah of Milah which involved making a wound in one’s own body, or in the body of a small child or infant, and the Mitzvah of Korban Pesach which involved taking the Egyptian god in front of them (at that time, our masters and tormentors) and slaughtering it, both certainly defy human instinct and reason.  The Torah even records that the Bnei Yisroel wondered, “How can we take their god from in front of them [for the purpose of slaughtering it] without their stoning us?!” (Shemos, 8:22 ).


Thus, through these two mitzvos which we performed with dedication and perseverance, the miracles that we so desperately needed for Geulah occurred.


There is a great lesson to be derived here.  We are all looking for Geulah.  There is a time that it will come naturally, by itself, no matter what.  However, if we want to change that nature and bring it closer, we have to try to perform mitzvos at a time or in a manner which may be considered against our nature.  Hashem’s message here is yet another one in the manner of Middah K’neged Middah--if you break your nature, I will break the nature of My World!


Each one of us can try to do his part in overcoming his teva--natural inclination--and producing that Dam Milah or Dam Pesach, those very specially-performed Mitzvos--to bring nachas and Simcha to Hashem, to us all, and to the world, with that so-yearned after Geulah.  Please, please pick that special Mitzvah right now--and may we be truly zoche to the Geulah!!



Special Note Ten: We once again provide our CHOL HAMOED REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS


Chol HaMoed are days designated--set aside--for holiness.  We can therefore understand why someone who disgraces these days “has no share” in the World to Come (Avos 3:15 ).  According to the Bartenura (ibid.), disgracing the Moados means doing unnecessary work on them, and eating and drinking in the same manner as one would on a regular weekday.


The following highlights are from a recent Hakhel Shiur, given by HaRav Dovid Zucker, Shlita, author of the Sefer Chol HaMoed (Artscroll 2005), and Rosh Kollel of the Chicago Community Kollel.  This Shiur was broadcast via satellite to 13 locations in the United States and Canada by the Torah Conferencing Network.


1.                  The Avnei Nezer teaches (based upon the Zohar) that the Kedusha of Chol HaMoed may be likened to the light of the Moon--reflecting the Kedusha of Yom Tov itself.  Chol HaMoed is indeed enveloped by the Kedusha of the First Days and the Last Days of Yom Tov.


2.                  One should wear nicer clothes on Chol HaMoed than on a regular weekday.  The mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov applies to Chol HaMoed as well.


3.                  Rabbi Zucker stated that he felt that just as Kedushas Shabbos was the nisayon (the test) of 75 to 100 years ago, Kedushas Chol HaMoed is the nisayon of Galus Jewry today.


4.                  The laws of working on Chol HaMoed for a salaried employee depend upon whether the employee: (a) has vacation coming to him; (b) has no vacation coming to him, but can take time off without pay; (c) asking for time off will cause him to lose his job; or (d) asking for time off will not cause him to lose his job, but will have undesired effects.  Our notes here are intended to highlight these distinctions, but not provide the halachic parameters, which are detailed and often require consultation with a Rav.  For further information, you may study the Sefer itself, or obtain a copy of the Shiur on cassette tape or CD by calling (718) 252-5274.


5.                  Self-employed individuals and employers must consult with their Rav as to how/when to remain open on Chol HaMoed.  One should not rely on “everybody does it” or “ignorance is bliss”--remember, we are talking about the World to Come, and that is true bliss--and infinity.  The story is told of a factory owner who refused, despite the Chofetz Chaim’s pleadings, to close his factory on Shabbos--he told the Chofetz Chaim, “Rebbe, you don’t make money from a posuk in the Torah.”  When the Bolsheviks confiscated all of his property a few years later, he wrote a letter of contrition and apology to the Chofetz Chaim.


6.                  Unskilled work is permitted for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Therefore, if necessary, one may sew a button on in an unskilled manner.


7.                  A non-Jew cannot do work for you that you yourself cannot perform.  For example, your lawn cannot be mowed or landscaped--and your gardener must be sent away if he comes to perform work for you.


8.                  Skilled work is generally prohibited--even for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Once again, anything prohibited for a Jew to do is prohibited for a non-Jew to do for you.  There are certain exceptions in which skilled labor is permitted, which relate to “Tzorchei HaGuf,” such as a serious roof leak or a necessary oven or air conditioner repair. With respect to car repairs, it would depend on the type of repair necessary, the need for the repair, and other factors, and a Rav must be consulted.


9.                  Laundering clothing can only be done for young children who have soiled their clothing and have nothing else to wear.  You cannot add other clothing into the washing machine once their clothes are being washed.  Once again, a non-Jewish housekeeper cannot do for you what you yourself cannot do.  Spot cleaning, if necessary, is permitted.  Drying clothing is permitted.


10.              Going shopping is only permissible (even if you otherwise enjoy shopping) if needed for Chol HaMoed or the Last Days of Yom Tov, or if it would constitute a “davar ha’avad” (See paragraph 13 below).  One cannot “trick” the Halacha (and yourself) by “wearing it on Chol HaMoed too”.  Similarly, one should not push off buying a pair of shoes to Chol HaMoed if he can do so before Yom Tov (unless he simply ran out of time).  Rav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL once told a Yeshiva bochur to come back to Yeshiva a day later in order to go shopping for clothing after Yom Tov, rather than shop on Chol HaMoed.


11.              One cannot schedule a “routine” medical or dental checkup or exam for Chol HaMoed.


12.              One cannot put off to Chol HaMoed filling up the car with gas, going to the bank, etc., when he has time or an opportunity to do so before Chol HaMoed.


13.              In specific “davar ha’avad” situations where an actual loss will occur, if work (even if skilled) is not performed on Chol HaMoed, it may very well be permissible, and your Rav should be consulted.


14.              Cutting nails/manicure is permitted for Sefardim (if needed), and prohibited to Ashkenazim (unless needed, and one had previously cut nails on Erev Yom Tov as well).


15.              Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, ruled that setting/cutting a sheitel is considered skilled work and therefore is prohibited even for the sake of the Mo’ed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.


16.              Standard writing (not calligraphy) is considered unskilled work and is permitted for the sake of the Moed.  One can type, send e-mails, e-faxes and text messages, but not print them out (unless permitted as a “davar ha’avad”).  Similarly, one can utilize a digital camera as long as the pictures are not printed out, and a standard camera, as long as the pictures are not developed.


The above, obviously, only briefly highlights some common Halachos.  In fact, Hilchos Chol HaMoed encompasses 20 chapters in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 530-549).  We additionally refer you to Rabbi Zucker’s wonderful sefer.  You may want to ask your Rav to give a Shiur this Yom Tov on the Halachos and Hashkafos of Chol HaMoed for everyone’s benefit.  Remember, with any question, or difficult or special situation, please consult your Rav--and have Simchas HaMoed!






11 Nissan

LEIL HASEDER! By clicking here, we provide a masterful Shiur given by Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, on what to speak about to children at the Seder:



MATZAH AND MAROR--THE PROPER SHIURIM! By clicking here, we provide a link to a video shiur given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, regarding the amount of Matzah , Marror and wine that are needed to fulfill the requirements of the Seder.



RULINGS OF HARAV BELSKY, SHILTA: We present the following rulings of HaRav Belsky, relating to Hilchos Pesach, as presented in Piskei Halacha of Rav Belsky, as compiled by Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits, Shlita (this excellent Sefer is divided into 54 chapters, so that one chapter a week can be studied every Shabbos at a Seudah).  The Sefer is available in Seforim stores or by emailing piskeihvol1@gmail.com or by calling:  1-718-744-4360:


SIYUM BECHORIM--One must eat some food at the siyum in order to be able to eat later.


DEODORANT--Some say that liquid deodorant is nifsal me’achilas kelev and may be kept in one’s house on Pesach.  Thus far no one has demonstrated that this is so; no test as to whether this substance is potable has been conducted.  Others argue that this is similar to kufas se’or l’yeshiva (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 452:9), meaning that once it is permanently designated for a non-food use it is considered to be batel, and is no longer a Chametz item.  This opinion has appeared in some recent halachic works and it is a total misconception.  Kufas se’or loses its status as Chametz because the Chametz does not contribute to its functionality.  In the case of the deodorant, the alcohol contributes to its functionality.  Whether it’s designated as a food or non-food is irrelevant.


SHAMPOO--The alcohol that shampoo in America contains is almost certainly not chametz since most of the alcohol in the United States is derived from corn.  Wheat extract in the shampoo is batel in more than 1/60.  However, it is still better not to use any products on Pesach without checking to see whether it is permitted.


STARCHED SHIRTS--According to the basic premise of the law, one may wear starched shirts on Pesach as long as the starch was applied before Pesach.  It is customary to refrain from wearing them in case the starch might fall into the food during meals.


LICKING ENVELOPES--Glue which is on the back of envelopes should not be licked on Pesach because the glue might contain wheat starch which would be Chametz. .


TUMS--When there are no Tums available, the best remedy for treating heartburn is to consume a combination of baking soda and water.  The baking soda eliminates the heartburn immediately.



HILCHOS PESACH:  See Special Note Three below!



THE LAST PASUK AND THE FIRST PASUK! The last Pasuk in Shemone Esrei is also the first Pasuk of the Haftara for Shabbos HaGadol--VeArva LeHashem Minchas Yehuda Virushalayim Kiymei Olam U’Cheshanim Kadmonios--then the offering of Yehuda and Yerushalayim will be pleasing to Hashem as in days of old and former years (Malachi 3:4).  Why is the Karbon Mincha used as the ultimate example of Nachas to Hashem?  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, answers that when a person brings an animal as a Karbon, he may be essentially bringing something that he put little effort into.  The animal can feed itself, clean itself, and otherwise take care of its needs.  However, in order to make something into bread or Matzah, ten to fifteen Melachos may be involved, and a person may perceive that it his own efforts and skills that is producing the end result.  By bringing this object as a Mincha to Hashem, he acknowledges that it is not Kochi VeOtzem Yadi--his own power and prowess--that produce this result but that Hashem is the true source of anything and everything--including all of what is otherwise perceived to be human effort.  Perhaps we can go into Pesach with a goal to recite this final Posuk of Shemone Esrei three times a day with a special yearning to bring a Karbon Mincha in the Bais HaMikdash--fully and finally demonstrating one’s closeness and recognition of Hashem as the source of life and all of the blessing that comes with it!


Additional Note:  The Gematria of Yeiush--despair is 317.  The Gematria of Eliezer--Hashem helps me is 318.  Let us always remember that in any and all events Yeiush should be overridden by the realization of Eliezer!  




Special Note One: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:


A. In Kiddush on Leil Shabbos we recite the words “Zecher LeYetzias Mitzrayim.”--a remembrance of our leaving Egypt .  What does Kiddush on Leil Shabbos have to do with leaving Egypt ?  HaRav Yonasan Eibishitz, Z’tl, in Sefer Ya’aros Devash 2:8 provides an incredible explanation-- see there.  Tosfos (Pesachim 117B) writes that in Mitzrayim the Jews were forced to perform the 39 prohibited Melachos on Shabbos, as the term “Bepharech” is equal to the 39 Melachos based upon the Att-Bash formulation. We thus celebrate our freedom from Bepharech by not performing these Melachos on Shabbos. 


B.  One beautiful thought from Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, in his Sefer on the Haggadah:  The Shabbos before Pesach is not just another day before Pesach --it is still Shabbos.  It should not be put into a back position merely because it comes two days before Pesach.  In fact--this may be one reason that it is called Shabbos HaGadol--to remind us that notwithstanding its position in the year--it must be given the great respect that it deserves, and we should not take away from its kavod or oneg with any inferior meals or zemiros, by missing usual Shabbos guests, or in any way be lacking Divrei Torah relating to the Parasha.


C.  On Shabbos HaGadol in Mitzrayim (which fell out on the tenth day of Nissan), the Bnei Yisroel took the Egyptian gods--the sheep--and tied them to their bedposts.  The Pri Chadash (to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 230) writes that the reason it is known as Shabbos HaGadol, it because it is when we began to perform Mitzvos-with the first Mitzvah being the taking of the Korban Pesach.


D.  The Mabit teaches that after this Shabbos, Bnei Yisroel no longer returned to work for the Mitzriyim.


E.  The Sefer HaToda’a writes that it is referred to as Shabbos HaGadol because it is on this day that the Shabbos which is an odd number day that has no partner finally obtained its partner--Bnei Yisroel!


F.  The Bnei Yissaschar writes that the reason the Rav gives a special Drasha on Shabbos HaGadol is because Moshe Rabbeinu also gave a Drasha on Hilchos Pesach to Bnei Yisroel on the Shabbos before their leaving Egypt.


G.  Similarly, the Levush writes that the reason we read the Haftarah referenced above on Shabbos HaGadol is because it relates to the future Geulah, just as Moshe Rabbeinu advised the Bnei Yisroel of their imminent Geulah.  May this year’s Shabbos HaGadol lead directly to our Geulah Shleima as well!



Special Note Two:  It is important to note that tomorrow’s Parasha Acharei Mos places an important emphasis on arayos—forbidden relationships and immorality. A reader wrote that some of these acts are associated by the Pasuk with Mitzrayim--and that our refraining from these kinds of acts are so important that we read about them on Yom Kippur. As always, we must take the lesson from the Parasha as we live through it, and bolster our care in the fundamental area that the arayos plays in a Jew’s life. Especially as the warmer weather comes upon us, and the populations around us act with increased prurience, one must establish appropriate fences and boundaries--properly separating or distancing himself from arayos in all forms—this is where Kedusha may be found.


The western world incredibly considers some of the arayos as ‘victimless’ crimes. We, on the other hand, believe that not only are the participants and those who encourage them at fault, but that the degenerate mores impact horrendously on the world at large. We need go no further than the Pasuk “Ki Hishchis Kol Bassar Es Darko Al Ha’Aretz”—for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth (Bereishis 6:12), and the literal destruction of the world  at the time of the Flood that resulted in  its aftermath. We must do something to distance ourselves far, far, far away from this behavior.  Each of us (man and woman, young and old, city worker and chareidi neighborhood dweller) can do something to improve his/her situation in this regard—to bring a greater, tangible Kedusha into one’s life!



Special Note Three: The Sefer Kovetz Halachos of Pesach contains the Piskei Halachos of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, as wonderfully compiled (with extensive footnotes) by a close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita.  We once again provide below a sampling of the important P’sakim relating to Pesach contained in this exceptional Sefer.  We note, of course, that with respect to any particular P’sak or circumstance, one should consult with his own Rav for guidance:




26.  The prohibition to do work on Erev Pesach after Chatzos is less stringent than to do work on Chol HaMoed, and therefore any work that can be done on Chol HaMoed (such as a Dovor Ha’Aved) is permissible on Erev Pesach after Chatzos.


27.   If it is one’s custom not to recite Hallel in shul on the Leil Seder and he is davening at a Shul which is reciting Hallel, he should not recite Hallel with them (even without a Bracha), but rather leave the Shul in a manner which is not evident that he is being poresh from the rest of the Tzibbur.


28.  One should strive to set the table for the Leil HaSeder with nice utensils.  Even though one could fulfill the 4 Kosos with a plastic cup, one should nevertheless use a nice cup.  It is preferable to use a silver becher over a glass [the Sefer Kaf HaChaim writes that silver alludes to the Middah of Chessed.]


29.  When one makes the Shehechiyanu at Kiddush, he should have in mind all of the Mitzvos of the evening.


30.  If someone is strict to eat only hand Shemura Matzah, he may nevertheless Lechatchila be Yotzei with Machine Shemura if there is a reason for it, and he does not need to be Matir Neder.


31.  Lechatchila guests who are using their host’s Matzah should have Kavanna to be zoche to the Matzah (or the Ba’al HaBayis should have Kavannah to give the Matzah to them)--so there is no issue of it not belonging to them (‘Lachem’).


32.  The Ke’ara does not have to remain complete until the end of the Seder; rather, one can take all of the Karpas at the time of Karpas without leaving anything in the Ke’ara...and the same is true for Maror and the other items on the Ke’ara.


33.  One is permitted to eat the roasted egg at the Seudah, but one should not eat the roasted zero’ah at night.  One should also be careful not to throw the zero’ah into the garbage in a derech bizayon (as this is bizuy Mitzvah).  Instead, it is a Mitzvah to eat the zero’ah at the seudah during the day.


34.  If one uses a large Kos which holds more than a Revi’is, one is only required to drink a Rov Revi’is.  Some, however, rule that one must drink a Rov Kos, a majority of the cup--whatever its size.  Therefore, if one only wants to drink a Rov Revi’is, it is best that he use a cup which only holds a Revi’is.


35.  The Ba’al HaBayis should not pour the Kosos for himself.  Instead, another should pour for him as this is Derech Cheirus.


36.  The age at which a child is “Hig’ia LeChinuch” for the Daled Kosos is when he understands the concept of servitude and freedom.  There is no set age, as it depends on each child’s understanding and awareness.   


37.  Although males must eat Matzah and drink the Kosos BeHeseiba, one need not make the Bracha on the Kos reclining.


38.  The Mitzvah of Heseiba is to move one’s body to the left; it is not enough that one tilt his head to the left.  It is likewise not Heseiba if one is merely leaning into the air, rather than leaning on something.  One can, for instance, move his chair so that the back of the chair is to his left and lean on that.  [Hakhel Note:  If one has questions as to how to properly perform Heseiba--especially if he does not have an armchair--he should consult with his Rav or Posek.]  Boys who have reached the age of Chinuch for eating Matzah or drinking the Kosos should also be taught to eat and drink BeHeseiba.


39.  With respect to Karpas, one should wash his hands with all the stringencies he uses for washing his hands for Matzah, without making the bracha.  One should dip the Karpas into the salt water with his hands and not with a fork, because if one dips the Karpas with a fork, he does not really require Netilas Yadayim.


40.  Lechatchila a woman should read or listen to the entire Haggada and recite the entire Hallel at the Seder.  If, however, she is busy with her children or other matters, she should at least read or listen to ‘Avadim Hayinu’ and ‘Rabban Gamliel Haya Omer’ through the drinking of the second cup.


41.  It is a Mitzvah to tell over the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim to children who can understand the exodus.  The Mitzvah does not only apply to boys and girls who are Ketanim, but also to children who are gedolim--even if they are married.


42. Children who have reached the age of Chinuch should be taught to recite the Haggadah as well.


43. When asking the Ma Nishtana, the youngest child should ask the questions first.

44. If one forgot to remind everyone to have Kavannah to fulfill the Mitzvah of Achilas Matzah before washing--then bedieved he may do so even after making the bracha of Al Netilas Yodaim, and it is not considered a hefsek.


45. With respect to placing Charoses on Maror, the minhag is not to dip the entire piece of Maror into Charoses, but only a small portion of Maror into the Charoses, and then to shake it off so that the taste of the Maror is not lost.


46. After eating the Afikoman and for the rest of the evening, one should not rinse his mouth out with mouthwash so as not to lose the Ta’am Matzah.


47. If there is a mezuman at the Seder, then at the first Seder the Ba’al Habayis should lead the mezuman, and on the second night, he may invite a guest to do so.


48. One should recite Parashas Shema and Birchas Hamapil before going to sleep, but need not recite the other Pesukim of Kriyas Shema Al Hamittah, as it is a Leil Shimurim.


49. Shir HaShirim is recited BeSimcha at the conclusion of the Seder, until sleep overcomes him. This does not mean that one must fall asleep at the table--but that one is at the point of tiredness that would otherwise cause him to go to sleep.


50.  For the 50th level--May we all be zoche to Chasal Siddur Pesach Kehilchaso!



Special Note Four:  Notes on Bedikas Chometz:


A.  By the following link--http://tinyurl.com/7tljavl we provide practical guidance from Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, on the Mitzvah of Bedikas Chometz.  Do it Right--not only on Pesach Night--but on the Night Before, as well!


B.  Bedikas Chometz is truly an activity of the body and soul--as we are to simultaneously rid ourselves of the leavened products in our homes, and the “Yetzer Hora B’libeinu”--the leaven that exists within us.  The pre-Pesach toil, sweat, fatigue and enormous costs and expenses indicate our sincerity and dedication to both of these tasks.  At Bedikas Chometz, we are nearing the epitome of our achievement--can we let it go with a perfunctory search of our homes because everything “has already been cleaned ten times anyway?”  How could a serious bedika take less than half hour or an hour--depending on the size of your home?  Indeed, if you merely go around to collect the 10 pieces, your bracha is considered a bracha l’vatala (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:8).  Picture yourself waiting on line for two hours to get to the observation deck in the Empire State Building --as soon as you got up, would you ask the attendant where the line was for the down elevators? Hakhel Note: In a related vein, at a Hakhel Shiur, HaRav Belsky, Shlita, suggested that one search for chometz as if he were searching for a valuable coin or piece of jewelry--would you shrug your shoulder and not look here or there, or not make the extra effort when you realize how much is at stake?  Go for the gold!


C.  The Sefer Darchei Mussar likens falling prey to the Chometz of the Yetzer Hara to a thoughtless individual who elects to warm himself up on a cold day by rolling in freshly laid hot tar.  He certainly will warm himself up and feel good for the moment--but will most certainly be left with an awful lot of sticky and smelly tar to contend with, which will require much time and effort to remove.  He also likens a person’s relationship with his Yetzer Hora to the relationship between a Cossack and his horse--the Cossack must feed, bathe, and properly take care of his horse--but, has absolutely no ownership rights over it.  That being the case, who is really in control--the Cossack or the horse?  So, too, if we “feed and support” our Yetzer Hora--Who, then, is really in control of our lives?  This is the unique purpose of the time we are in--not only to finish up the macaroni, and carefully eliminate the challah crumbs from underneath the radiator--but to ALSO rid ourselves of the wretched Cossack’s plight--and to ensure that we do not act like the careless fool who jumped into the tar!  Let us complete the cleaning--without--and within!


D.  To help with the cleaning, we note that the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim in the Sha’ar Nekiyus (coming clean!) provides the four major Middos for one to work on--as all other Middos Ra’os stem from them.  Here is the important List of Four to remove from our lives:  (i) Ga’avah, (ii) Ka’as, (iii) Kinna, and (iv) Ta’avah.  Especially at this time of year, one may theoretically be more jealous than at other times of the year--as others have money to buy new clothes, better foods, “go-away”, take far-away Chol HaMoed trips, or because they have a large family or extended family for the Seder or over Yom Tov.  However, the Pasuk goes out of its way to teach us:  Rekev Atzamos Kinna”--what will cause the bones to rot (after 120 years) is jealousy.  The Maharal explains that this is so, Middah K’Negged Middah, because if a person feels that he is lacking, then his body in fact is or will be lacking as well.  Each of us must recognize that we have our own role on Pesach (and otherwise!)--whether it be in Eretz Yisroel, in a hotel, with friends, with children….  Pesach is a time to enjoy all of the Mitzvos, to rejoice in the fact that Hashem molded us into His Chosen Nation, and to individually inspire ourselves for the entire year.  Putting ourselves in the proper (true) state of mind is an essential preparation for a wonderfully successful Pesach!



Special Note Five:  As Pesach approaches, we provide the following important notes:


1.         We again recall the story of the man who looked around for “Kulos”, for leniencies, his whole life.  After 120 years, the Heavenly Court reviewed his records, noted that he followed the laws, and advised him that he would be going to “Gan Eden.”  The angels escorted him to his final place, which turned out to be a dark, dingy and rather damp cell. “This is Gan Eden?!” “Yes,” they replied, “according to some opinions.”


2.         Pesach is a time when we are machmir, where we follow stringencies because of the force the Torah puts into Pesach itself, with 8 Mitzvos D’Oraisa in our time (and 24 in the times of the Bais Hamikdash--may it be rebuilt for this Pesach).  Its tremendous significance is underscored by Yetzias Mitzraim being referred to 50 times in the Torah.  For further elaboration on its relevance to our daily lives, please review the famous last Ramban in Parashas Bo.


3.        The word “Mah” is traditionally translated simply as “what.”  However, Rabbi Meir Schuck, Z’tl, offers a more penetrating and insightful definition of the word.  Rabbi Schuck cites three well-known uses of the word “Mah.”  Yaakov Avinu, upon reaching the place of the future Beis Hamikdash  exclaimed:  ”Mah Nora Hamakom Hazeh--What an awesome place this is!”  Similarly, on the night of the Seder the young child calls out “Mah Nishtana Halayla Hazeh--what is so different about this night?”  Indeed, Bila’am himself, who initially recited the Pasuk of “Mah Tovu,” also did so because he was stunned by the difference between the homes of the Bnei Yisroel and those of the world at large.  The word “Mah,” then, indicates something strikingly new--a remarkable realization, an awareness and appreciation of a place or event that did not previously exist.  There are other moments at the Seder where you will use the word “Mah”--make a mental note to try and find them and see how wonderfully this new definition of the word can be applied in each instance.


Additional Note:  The word “Mah” itself is indicative of how refreshed we should be, no matter how tired we are, when we participate in the Seder.  Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, at a Hakhel Shiur, mentioned the story of the man whose torn Haggadah was repaired on Erev Pesach by someone who could not read Hebrew.  Regrettably, he mixed in pages from a Machzor as well, and finished his job right before Pesach. As the newly-bound Haggadah was read that night, without reflection and with hunger, the head of the household hurriedly read “Dam, Tzefardeiah, Kinnim, Ashamnu, Bagadnu, Gazalnu…”  For no reason or at any time should one lose his appreciation of the heightened sense of the evening--and of the great importance of every word of the Haggadah.


4.        There is one positive commandment that pervades and invigorates every day of Yom Tov--the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov.  Every day--including each day of Chol HaMoed--is a separate Mitzvas Aseh!  Let us *now* consider how to actually best fulfill this daily Mitzvah for ourselves and for others--and act upon it.  Pesach is a Chag in which the preparation far surpasses the length of the Chag itself--providing a great lesson for us in the importance of aforethought and planning--the need for “hachana” in Mitzvah observance.  It may be a pair of shoes, rainbow ices, different kinds of wine or a silver brooch...but please remember that we should take the lesson from the Nesi’im and not wait until the last moment--diving into Yom Tov with cherry ices because the mango was sold out!


  5.        It could never, ever hurt--and may help in ways we will never know about--to sincerely daven over the next few days that we have a “Chag Kasher V’Sameach”.  Each one of these requests--Kasher and Sameach--is a mouthful (once again, pun intended).  People have reported, for instance, that they have found non-Kosher L’Pesach items on Kosher L’Pesach shelves in supermarkets.  Others may be fooled by a lot of Hebrew lettering on a label which is not meaningful, or perhaps, not even true.  The word “Sameach” is also loaded, as it is such an essential element of the Yom Tov, and may be challenged at any moment by any number of situations or events.  In addition to our earnest prayers for ourselves in this regard, when extending this wish to someone else over the next several days, we should likewise express it with sincerity and feeling.


6.          At the Seder, we will be reciting the word “Dayenu” fifteen times, multiplied by the number of times we sing the word.  Dayenu means “it would be enough for us”.  What “would be enough” for us?  Let us look at the first passage of Dayenu:  “If Hashem had taken us out of Mitzrayim…it would have been enough…”  Clearly, just leaving Egypt , in and of itself, would not have been enough. We would not have received the Torah, we would not have entered Eretz Yisroel and we would not have had the Bais HaMikdash, for starters so what would “have been enough?”  The Siach Yitzchak therefore explains that it would have been enough in and of itself to thank Hashem from the bottom of our hearts for that one thing He had done for us.  We then go through an additional fourteen items and realize that it would have been enough to thank Hashem for each and every one of them because He gave us such great gifts, and we did not deserve that which we received.  Thus, the springboard of all the Dayenus--of all of the realization of the enormous and eternal thanks that we owe Hashem is His taking us out of Egypt --the first of the Dayenus.  This is then the blastoff on the Seder night for us to express and discuss the great and unlimited thanks and gratitude that we owe to Hashem for each and every item that He provides us with.  Now, sing along--Day- Dayenu, Day-Dayenu, Day-Dayenu, Day-Dayenu.  This is what we ought to be talking--and singing--about!


7.          Finally, on the matter of speech, it is important to note that after having thanked Hashem, and recited Hallel with true sentiment and emotion, we conclude the Hallel with the words “Ana Hashem Hoshea Nah--please Hashem save us.”  The Haggadas Seder HaAruch points out that after thanking Hashem, which demonstrates our recognition for what He has done, we must, as a matter of faith, immediately thereafter plead with Hashem to do more, which demonstrates our continuing faith in Him.  Thus, as we conclude the Haggadah, we verbally affirm that our Emunah is complete!




10 Nissan

EMUNA DAILY:  On an Emuna Daily message, Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, once pointed out (in the name of Rabbi Asher Wade, originally a pastor who converted to Judaism) that there are only approximately 148 generations that have passed from the generation of Yetzias Mitzrayim to our generation.  Picturing this in the simple way, imagine that there were 37 tables in a room with four people at a table--son, father, grandfather and a great-grandfather who is on a swivel chair turning to the table of four preceding him….less than 40 tables in a room--and you are connecting back to Yetzias Mitzrayim!


We highly recommend Emuna Daily.  To join and for further information contact:  emunadaily@gmail.com.  The recording is available via telephone as well:  Dial (605) 475-4799, access code 840886#.



NON-GEBROKTS ALERT:  Please remember that many cake-like products being served even in this Pre-Pesach time are non-Gebrokts, and that the appropriate bracha is Shehakol and Borei Nefashos. Even if you know it--you may be used to making a Mezonos on the cake and Shehakol on the coffee--so extra special care is required. Pesach is a time for enriching our Emunah--a wonderful place to begin is with enriched and carefully-made brachos.



FOR THOSE WHO MAY HAVE MISSED OUR RECENT NOTE, we once again provide the Hakhel Tevilas Keilim Guidelines by the following link  http://tinyurl.com/dlsvjh.  Tevilas Keilim is such a basic, beautiful and simple Mitzvah to perform--let’s take a moment out to make sure that we, and those around us, are performing it properly!  Please distribute further--and if you can, post these guidelines near your Keilim Mikveh! 


ADDITIONAL CHOMETZ REMOVAL:  As we rush to rid ourselves of our Chometz items, let us not forget that this is an appropriate time of year to rid ourselves of other ‘kinds’ of Chometz--videos, DVD ’s, CD’s, periodicals and papers which are simply not befitting the home of a people that experienced Geulas Mitzrayim, and separated and distinguished themselves from the Umos HaOlam.  A Jewish Home should be sure to have Jewish content!



QUESTION OF THE DAY :  After Bedikas Chametz and Biur Chametz, we will recite the words Kol Chamira.  As we refer to Chametz, why don’t we refer to Lechem, bread directly--but only indirectly with the term “Chamira”?!  Hint: See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 434 Ba’air Haitaiv, seif katan 5.



SEFIRA REMINDER FROM TEFILLOS.COM:  “Tefillos.com is reminding you that we will again be sending Sefira Reminders this year.  Please logon to your account at http://www.tefillos.com/myaccount.asp and set your preferences.  If your cell phone number has changed, please update.  For new account signup, go to http://www.tefillos.com/rebyid.asp and click on Click here to Sign up!”



HILCHOS PESACH:  See Special Note Three below!




Special Note One: Today is the tenth day of Nissan, which is marked by at least three great milestones:


A. It is the day that the Bnei Yisroel took the Egyptian gods--their sheep--away and tied them to bedposts in order to inspect them for blemishes before Shechita four days later.  This was an act of tremendous faith by Bnei Yisroel, not only in taking them for slaughter, but also in holding them this way for four days.  In fact, the Egyptians ended up being powerless to stop Bnei Yisroel or harm them.


B. Towards the end of our stay in the desert, Miriam HaNevia passed away.  Miriam was so great that even as a young girl, her suggestion to her father Amram, the Gadol HaDor, was accepted and the decree he had made to have the husbands and wives of Bnei Yisroel separate was annulled.


C. Just one year after Miriam’s passing on this date, Yehoshua Bin Nun and Bnei Yisroel crossed over the Yarden River which had dried up through a miracle.  Some recommend reading from Sefer Yehoshua, Chapters 3 and 4, and reciting Tehillim Chapter 114 in honor of the occasion.



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, (in the name of HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita) brings an EXTREMELY POWERFUL Kedushas Levi relating to this time of year. The heilige Kedushas Levi studied Jews scurrying about with so many Mitzvos before Pesach, and wondered to himself HOW IT COULD REALLY BE that the Moshiach did not arrive.  He was left with one conclusion--it must be due to our Ungetzoigenkeit--our being too on-edge, too tense, too irritable, too obviously sleep deprived, too reaction-filled, too short-fused, to make the Millions of Mitzvos performed at this time of year as pure and wholesome as they needed to be to turn the tide and bring us the Geulah Sheleima. Over the next few days, as our To-Do list gets longer and our time to accomplish it gets shorter, as there is legitimate basis for concern that there is so much to get done with the clock ticking, as not everyone around seems to be ‘pulling their weight’ the way they should, as the food prices seem to match the gas prices--let us remember that--at least according to the Kedushas Levi, we can do our part in finally BRINGING US HOME by not losing ourselves, by keeping a perspective, by the judicious uses of a Kepitel Tehillim before doing this errand and a Kepitel Tehillim before speaking to that person, by maintaining a soft tone and sharing thoughtful and kind words or compliments, by not responding to a shout or a sarcasm with something in kind, by helping to calm another, all of which will serve to project our Mitzvos on the very special, direct and precise course to Geulah.  Let’s try to keep a record (or at least a mental note) over the next several days of all our Geulah-bringing actions and reactions that would make the Kedushas Levi so proud.  The time is not next week or the following one--the Time is Now!



Special Note Three: The Sefer Kovetz Halachos of Pesach contains the Piskei Halachos of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, as wonderfully compiled (with extensive footnotes) by a close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita.  We once again provide below a sampling of the important P’sakim relating to Pesach contained in this exceptional Sefer.  We note, of course, that with respect to any particular P’sak or circumstance, one should consult with his own Rav for guidance:



1.      Every person is obligated to study the Halachos of Pesach within the thirty day time period before Pesach.  Some even say that it is an obligation Min HaTorah.  It is, in any event, an obligation--and not only a meritorious act.

2.       Being involved in the baking of Matzah is a Mitzvah in and of itself, and not only a Hechsher Mitzvah.  One can appoint a Shaliach to bake Matzos for him, and this is why “Chaburah Matzos” are preferred.

3.      A person who checks to see whether the Matzos are Kefulos fulfills the separate Mitzvah of “U’Shemartem Es HaMatzos  [Hakhel Note:  We must be sure that our Matzos are checked against being Kefulos or Nefuchos.  Many of the contemporary Pesach Seforim and publications provide clear guidelines as to what to look out for when inspecting your Matzos before Pesach].  

4.      The correct Nusach in the Bracha over fruit trees is “Sheloh Chisar BaOlamo K’lum” (not Davar).  Women should also make the Bracha.  Rabbi Kleinman brings in his footnote that the Aruch HaShulchan writes that Yirei Hashem are careful to make this Bracha, and that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, was very careful with this Bracha and remarked that from the time he became Bar Mitzvah, he never once missed making the Bracha.

5.      Women’s rings do not require Haga’ala, but they should be cleaned very well, and preferably not be worn for 24 hours prior to the time of Issur Chametz.

6.      One need not Kasher braces, but should be careful not to eat hot or sharp Chametz for 24 hours prior to the time of Issur Chametz.

7.      If one did not Kasher the expensive utensils in his breakfront, one should cover the glass on the breakfront, rather than leave them exposed to view over Pesach.

8.      When performing Bedikas Chometz, one need not turn off the electric light in the room.

9.      If one will not be able to perform Bedikas Chometz on the night of the fourteenth, it appears to be better to check on the night of the thirteenth than the fourteenth by day.

10.  If one must take care of his bodily needs during the Bedika, he should make an Asher Yatzar immediately.  Similarly, if he heard a Bracha from someone else, he should answer Amen.

11.  Pockets of clothing need not be checked by candle light; it is enough if they are shaken out.  One may check his pockets at any time, and one need not necessarily check them the night of the fourteenth.  However, even if one did check his pockets on the night of the fourteenth, one should shake out the pockets of the clothing he is wearing when burning the Chametz on Erev Pesach in the morning.  When checking clothing, one should also check cuffs.

12.  One need not check suitcases, as one does not typically put food in them, and even if one does, he usually empties out a suitcase upon arriving home.  Accordingly, it has a Chazaka of being checked.

13.  One is obligated to check Seforim that he brought to the table while eating during the year, if he will use them on Pesach, for even if the Seforim contain only crumbs, the crumbs could get stuck to his hands, and he can inadvertently touch Pesach food with them.  When checking Seforim, it need not be by candle light, and one need not check every page, but only shake out the Sefer and its pages.  Even after checking, it is still best not to bring back any Sefer to the table, as there still may be crumbs stuck in the Sefer.

14.  On the night of the Bedika, one should check areas even though he will still be eating Chametz there in the morning--and he should then check the area again in the morning.

15.  If one has already put his Pesach items into the refrigerator and cabinets, he need not check them on the night of the Bedika, as they are no longer considered a place in which Chametz would enter.

16.  When searching for Chametz, one need not move any item which is difficult to move [such as underneath a refrigerator]; however, if it has wheels, one should move it and check underneath it and in back of it.

17.  One must check an open porch or patio, and cannot rely on the fact that birds or squirrels would eat any leftover Chametz.

18.  In an apartment building or multi-family dwelling, all of the residents have a joint obligation to check the stairwell and the laundry room.

19.  One should check his car on the night of the Bedika with a flashlight.

20.  A garbage can belongs to its owner, and one is not permitted to put Chametz directly into a garbage can, as it will remain it his possession.  One should put any leftover Chametz into a bag and deposit it in a public area or receptacle.

21.  If one finds Chametz in his home after the Bedika--even if he knows that this Chametz was not there at the time of the Bedika--he need not check his whole dwelling again based upon the notion that Chametz was brought into other areas, as well.

22.  If one will be selling an area of his home to a non-Jew on the day of the fourteenth, one should still check it on the night of the fourteenth, as the area is still in his possession at the time of the Bedika.  One may enter the area that was sold on Pesach even though it has been sold, for a purchaser would not be makpid if one did so.

23.  Even if one’s custom is not to sell Chametz Gamur to a non-Jew, one may Lechatchila purchase Chametz after Pesach from a grocery or supermarket which properly sold its Chametz Gamur to a non-Jew before Pesach.

24.  One need not burn the Chametz on his own property, but it is best that one burn his Chametz on his own, and not give it to someone else to burn for him.

25.  It is permissible to pass by a non-Jewish bakery on Pesach even though a smell emanates from the store.  However, it is forbidden to intentionally inhale the smell of the Chametz.


Special Note Four: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.





I am Sephardi but daven every morning in a litvishe minyan. Is there any reason for someone wearing Arizal or Velish (Sephardi) tefillin not to accept an aliyah to a Sefer Torah written in Kesav Beis Yosef (or vice versa)? In general, should Ashkenazim and Sephardim accept aliyos to each other’s Sifrei Torah?



There is no need for a Sephardi or an Ashkenazi to refrain from accepting an aliyah to a Sefer Torah written in a different kesav, regardless of what type of tefillin they are wearing.




What about Parashas Zachor – may I hear it from a Sefer Torah written with a “different” kesav?



Inasmuch as many poskim are of the opinion that Parashas Zachor is a Torah obligation (as opposed to a “standard” Torah reading, which is a Rabbinic enactment), you should make a concerted effort to hear it from as kosher a Sefer Torah as possible. The poskim agree that this includes hearing it read from a Sefer Torah which is written in accordance with your custom. If, however, you heard Parashas Zachor read from a Sefer Torah written in a different kesav, you have certainly fulfilled your obligation, and need not hear it again.




9 Nissan

REMEMBER THE SEDER CHECKLIST: We provide by clicking here our Checklist for Erev Pesach 5774. As always, we welcome any comments or suggestions. Please feel free to distribute further!



LOOK OUT FOR IT!  May we suggest that you take the time as you are davening over the next several days to look for the mention of Yetzias Mitzrayim both in the regular weekday davening, and in the Yom Tov davening (see the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah for further elucidation).



HILCHOS PESACH:  See Special Note One below!




Special Note One:  We once again present pertinent rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to Hilchos Pesach, as excerpted from the monumental Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Orach Chaim, Volume III ):



1.      It is best to recite the Birkas Ha’Ilanos over a minimum of two trees, as the bracha itself refers to ‘Ilanos’ in the plural.  The bracha may be recited on Shabbos and on Yom Tov.


2.      Ma’os Chittim may be given from Ma’aser money; however, at least a small amount should not be from Ma’aser funds. 


3.      When a Jewish store sells its Chometz, and then continues to sell Chometz on Pesach it is a chucha u’telula. Accordingly, one should not purchase from a store like this after Pesach, as it may be Chometz Sheavar Alav HaPesach.  It is better to purchase pre-Pesach Chometz from a store which sold its Chometz properly before Pesach, than to rely on the other store selling Chometz from ‘after Pesach’.


4.      If one lives in a building in which the tenants or unit owners are not interested in selling the Chometz in the common areas, one should be mafkir his Chelek in the common areas before the time of Issur Chometz sets in.  [ Hakhel Note:  One should consult with his Rav as to how one is mafkir.]


5.      According to the Ikar HaDin, one need not check his Seforim before Pesach, as any miniscule crumbs would be batel.  However, a Sefer which was not cleaned page by page, should not in any event be placed on the table, for a crumb from the Sefer may fall on the food, and all of the food would become assur, as the Chometz is not batel in the food.


6.      If one checks his pockets well by hand, he need not check them by candle light.


7.      Our Minhag is to burn the Chometz.  Thus, one should not pour kerosene on the Chometz before it burns, because this will ruin the Chometz before he has successfully burned it.  Rather, the Chometz should be substantially burned by fire, and then one can pour kerosene over it, so that in the end it is completely burnt.


8.      On Erev Pesach, one should LeChatchila complete laundering, pressing, sewing, haircutting, nail cutting, and shoe shining before Chatzos.  However, if one was not able to do so, he may still cut his nails and shine his shoes after Chatzos, but a hair cut after Chatzos may only be performed by a non-Jew.


9.       One can measure a Revi’is, a Kezayis and a Kebeitzah on Yom Tov, for the shiur of the four Kosos, Matzah and Maror, but one may not weigh the Matzos in this regard.


10.  The fact that one eats food in a Kittel on the Leil HaSeder does not derogate the Kittel’s status, for the Leil HaSeder is a Layla Shel Mitzvah.  Accordingly, one may not enter the restroom wearing a Kittel. 


11.  One should prepare the Kezaiysim of Matzah for all participants in plastic bags before Yom Tov, so when it comes time to partake of the Matzah, there is no significant lapse between the bracha and the eating of the Matzah.  [Hakhel Note:  The same would seem to apply for Maror.]


12.  One should pay for the Matzos before Yom Tov, so that it is legally his, both MiD’Oraysah and MiD’Rabanan.


13.  On Shabbos, one should not remove a piece of Matzah which is possibly Kefulah, because of the Issur of Borer.  One must instead remove the possible Kefulah together with some Kosher Matzah.  If the Matzah is actually (Mitsad HaDin) Kefulah, then it is Muktzah on Pesach and on Shabbos as well.


14.  LeChatchila, men and women should use wine for the four Kosos.  However, one may dilute the wine with grape juice, provided that the taste of alcohol significantly remains.  For children, one can be maikil and give them grape juice.  It is better for an adult to drink a smaller shiur of wine than a large shiur of grape juice.  If one is repulsed by wine and cannot drink it, he is patur from drinking it, as it is ma’us to him.  He should try to mix wine and grape juice in a manner in which the wine is still tasted.  If he cannot tolerate this, he can drink grape juice. It is also better to drink an entire smaller cup than the majority of a larger cup.


15.  Heseibah requires Derech Cheirus--which means in a royal and enjoyable manner, as kings eat.  This includes a person not bending his body towards the food, but bringing the food to the body.  Heseibah involves leaning most of one’s body and one’s head to the left side, and leaning on the arm rest or a pillow.  One should feel comfortable as royalty would feel.  If one leans without actually leaning on something, this is not considered Heseibah.  [Hakhel Note:  If one is unsure how to perform Heseibah, he should consult with his Rav or Posek.] 


16.  Although before performing a Mitzvah, one should state that he is about to perform it, one should not say “Hineni Muchan U’Mezuman LeKayeim Mitzvas Asei”, if in fact it is a Mitzvah DeRabanan.  HaRav Elyashiv himself recites “Hineni Muchan U’Mezuman LeKayeim…”, but does not say the “LeSheim Yichud….”


17.  The Sefer Chayei Adam strongly objects to the partition which separates the Matzos in a Matzah cover.  The places that are noheig like the Chayei Adam should keep their Minhag.


18.  The Yesod of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is to relate the story--it is not Me’akev for it to be to a son.  This is why a son does not necessarily have to come to his father for the Seder.  If a child is only three years old or so, and could only understand this story on a kindergarten level, the father should relate it to the child on that level.  There is no inyan, however, for the three year old to relate the story to the father based upon what he knows from kindergarten.


19.  One should throw the wine from his cup at the designated points in the Haggadah with his Etzbah (pointer finger as opposed to pinky), because the Pasuk says “Etzbah Elokim He”.


20.    If one is in the midst of eating Matzah, he can answer “Amen” to another’s bracha if he has swallowed a bit.


21.  It is permissible to change one’s parent’s Minhag, and eat Romaine Lettuce instead of chrain for Maror. 


22.  White reciting Hallel at the Seder, it is permissible to sing and repeat Pesukim, and to say Divrei Torah--for this is not like the regular reading of Hallel during davening which cannot be interrupted, but instead has a Halacha of Shira. 


23.  If in davening one said “Es Yom Chag HaPesach HaZeh”, instead of “Es Yom Chag HaMatzos HaZeh”, he is Yotzei Bedi’eved.


24.  If one finds Chometz on Chol HaMo’ed that was sold to a non-Jew, it is permissible for him to burn it on the condition that he will pay the non-Jew for its value.


25.  If one sees Chometz in the dirt on the street, he need not pick it up and move it away, for it is not fit to be eaten on Pesach. 


26.  Although on Yom Tov, the custom is not to eat Shalosh Seudos, on the seventh day of Pesach, one should eat Shalosh Seudos, because of the Chavivus of the Mitzvah of eating Matzah, as was the Minhag of the G’ra.


27.  Chazal (Yoma 21A) teach that a great Neis occurred weekly with the Lechem HaPanim and they remained as hot when they were removed from the Shulchan a week later, as they were when they were placed on the Shulchan.  The people who came to be Oleh LeRegel were shown the steaming hot Lechem HaPanim and were told:  “See how precious you are to Hashem!”  Rav Elyashiv explains that what we are supposed to take with us from the Chag is the warmth, the feeling of how cherished we are by Hashem--and this warmth should not cool off or cool down after the Chag when the weekdays begin!



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, provides the following insight into our response to the Rasha in the Haggadah.  We are instructed by the Ba’al Haggadah to “Hakheh Es Shinav.”  This is often misinterpreted/translated as knock out the Rasha’s teeth.  In truth, it means to blunt his teeth.  Hakheh is spelled with a Kuf not a Kaf.  The difference is explained by Rabbi Reisman with the following famous story:


HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, together with another Gadol went to collect for Chinuch Atzmai--and there was a stingy G’vir who did not contribute.  So they went to his office--without an appointment--and asked his secretary if they could see him.  The secretary said he was not in.  They knew what that meant.  So they said they would wait for him.  So they waited.  And waited.  And waited him out.  Finally, the G’vir burst out of his office and gave it to them.  He was furious.  “You come here without an appointment and you harass me for money.  I have no Menucha.”  He continued his harangue without Derech Eretz to these Gedolim.  After the fury of the G’vir was put to rest, the Gadol accompanying Rav Aharon said to the G’vir, “Now that you gave us what we deserve, could you give Chinuch Atzmai what it deserves?”  Quieted, the G’vir cut them a handsome check.


That is P’shat in blunting the Rasha’s teeth.  Further, Chazal say that in Gematria if you subtract Shinav (teeth) from the word Rasha, you get Tzaddik…there lies a Tzaddik in every Rasha once his sharp teeth are removed!


Hakhel Note:  If this is a key element in defining a Rasha, we should be especially careful in this regard.  Why only end up being a Tzaddik, if we can start out being one?!  Perhaps this is another great lesson of the Haggadah--using our mouths for hours in a positive, beautiful, thankful, and inspiring way!



Special Note Three:  The first letters of “Yismichu HaShomayim VeSogel Ha’Aretz--the heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice”, a Pasuk that we recite twice in Shacharis every day, actually spells out the name of Hashem (Yud Keh Vov Keh).  Al Pi Kabala, when reciting the name of Hashem on Rosh Chodesh Nissan in the special (fourth) bracha of the mussaf of Rosh Chodesh--we are to have this phrase in mind.  It is no small wonder why.  It is, after all, a month that demonstrates the Yismichu HaShomayim VeSogel Ha’Aretz--spring blossoms everywhere (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyways), our faith is renewed, and the opportunity of Hischadshus is tangibly evident in everything around us.  Let us not squander the message and the opportunity, by actually taking the time to change.  We must really try to get through the next few days in situations where things would have gotten out of hand in the past and instead move through them without anger, without despair, without ona’as devorim, with calmness, and with the sense that all that I am doing--all of the minutiae, the shopping, the hustle and bustle, the hassle and multi-tasking--is all for a great and noble goal and an incomparable, eternal purpose.  The Mitzvah will most certainly be elevated and purified--and Pesach itself will have thereby attained a new level in Avodas Hashem!


Additional Note:  As we have noted in the past, the last Chapter (150) of Tehillim has twelve phrases, corresponding to the twelve months of the year (with the last phrase of Kol HaNeshama being repeated for the thirteenth month of Adar Sheni). The first phrase of the Kepitel is for the month of Nissan as the first month of the year--it is “HalleluKa--Praise Hashem!”  The Artscroll Siddur, in its usual manner, has a wonderful and succinct commentary on this phrase, this time quoting HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl.  “HalleluKa is a contraction of two words.  ‘Hallelu’ denotes crying out in happy excitement, while the unique meaning implied by the name ‘Ka’ means ‘the One who is forever’.  The Psalmist addresses everyone, saying:  Use your energy to be excited over Hashem...[for that is the ultimate purpose of life, and all else pales in significance].


Yismichu HaShomayim--VeSogel Ha’Aretz--and Halleluka--messages of renewal for the month...which should invigorate us--and be taken with us for the year, as well!




8 Nissan

OUTSTANDING, ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING! Rabbi Jonathan Rietti’s Sunday Night Hakhel Shiur on living history and experiential Emunah brought great knowledge, awareness and excitement to the capacity crowd.  For instance: “Many are under the misimpression that Ani Ma’amin B’Emunah Shleimah means that I believe with full faith. HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, explains that this is not accurate.  What it really means is that “I am convinced with absolute certainty!” The masterful and lesson-filled Shiur is available both in CD and DVD format, by contacting 718-252-5274.  Although it is soon Pesach and the presentation is two hours--it may serve quite well in preparation for the Seder!



QUESTION OF THE DAY : What happened to the mateh of Moshe Rabbeinu?



PROPER MEASURES! Rabbi Dovid Braunfeld’s highly researched and masterful Sefer on weights and measures in Mitzvos, known as Moznei Tzedek (Israel Bookshop) provides an in-depth explanation and listing of amounts required for the Mitzvos of the Pesach Seder and other Mitzvos throughout the year. The Sefer includes charts for Shiurim of Matzah depending upon whether one purchases 6, 8 or 10 Matzahs to the pound. An incredible resource!



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos (currently, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 475, et al.) relating to Pesach. The following are culled from the Notes of the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah. Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A.  The Bach rules that with each achilah of a kezayis of Matzah on the Leil HaSeder, we accomplish a separate Mitzvas Asei Min HaTorah. 


B.  For the Afikoman, Lechatchila one should eat two kezaysim--one Zecher LePesach, and the second Zecher to the Matzah that was eaten together with the Pesach. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, writes that based upon the Bach’s opinion that every kezayis of Matzah is a Mitzvah, it is certainly befitting that we eat Matzah (and not another food) Zecher LePesach.


C.  The Shelah HaKadosh writes that he has seen bnei aliyah who would kiss the Matzos and the Marror (just as they would kiss the Sukkah upon entry and upon exit) to show affection for the Mitzvah. The Shelah HaKadosh concludes:  VeAshrei Me She’oved Hashem BeSimcha--fortunate is the one who serves Hashem with joy!”


D.  Some have the custom of only dipping twice at the Seder--with no additional dippings during the meal--in order to show that the dippings of the evening are L’Sheim Mitzvah. 


E.  It is proper to wash the kos before pouring wine into it for the kos on Birkas HaMazon, so that it is fresh and clean. 


F.  If some at the table only eat hand Matzah and some only eat machine Matzah, they should consult with a Rav as to whether they can recite zimun before bentsching together.


G.  The Pasuk in Shir HaShirim of “Hashme’ini Es Koleich”--in which Hashem says to Bnei Yisrael “Let Me hear your voice”--refers to us reciting Hallel in a beautiful niggun!


H.  There are different minhagim as to when the Kos Shel Eliyahu is poured.  Some pour it when pouring the fourth cup.  From the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (119:1), it would appear that it is already poured when pouring the wine for the first kos at Kadeish [some have the  custom of then adding a little bit of wine to the kos Shel Eliyahu every time an additional kos is poured for the participants]. 


I.  The Chok Yaakov teaches that we open the door at Shefoch Chamosecha so that if Eliyahu is coming--he will find an open door--and we will be able to run out to greet him.


Hakhel Note: The Otzar Meforshei Haggadah presents the following insights regarding the Shefoch Chamosecha:


1. When opening the door for Eliyahu HaNavi, some have the custom of reciting “Baruch HaBa!”


2. There are four Pesukim which comprise this Tefillah, three of which are from Tehillim, and the last is from Eicha.  These four Pesukim represent the “Four Cups of Punishment” that will be meted out against the Four Nations which subjugated us in the Four Galios.


3. The opening of the door signifies that unlike the redemption from Egypt in which we could not leave our houses during Makas Bechoros, and which was only immediately realized in its entirety by Bnei Yisrael and not by the other nations of the World, at the time of our final Geulah we will witness the punishment of the wicked, and all the nations of the world will openly and immediately appreciate our redemption.  Additionally, our opening of the door reminds us of the opening of the gate of the Bais HaMikdash exactly at Chatzos on the Seder night.  [Even when we open doors, it has great significance!]




Special Note One: As Yom Tov soon approaches, we present the following Halachos relating to Yom Tov, as culled from the Hakhel Shiurim of HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita. The following Halachos are presented as Questions and Answers and complete the 100 question bechina (Shabbos and Yom Tov), which was prepared by Rabbi Webster. For tapes and CD’s of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim please call: 718-435-6974.


87. Is one permitted to use a sieve or a sifter on Yom Tov?


Due to the fact that a sieve is normally used to separate a large amount, it is prohibited. The same would be regarding a large sifter. However, a small sifter is permitted.


88. Is there a problem using a tea bag on Yom Tov due to borer?


One is permitted to allow it to drip, even though the bag is being used as a vessel that allows the liquid to drip out.


89. If I have mixed cutlery from before Yom Tov, can I set the table before going to shul?


It would permitted only if one uses a shinui because they could have been separated before Yom Tov. Therefore, one must select the ochel from the pesoles, taking each item separately and setting the table. However, if the cutlery became mixed after washing them on Yom Tov, then one may set the table before going to shul. It is understood that if there is a mixture of cutlery at the end of the first day of Yom Tov, one is prohibited to set the table before nightfall due to the prohibition of preparation and borer for the next day.


90. If one has a cluster of grapes that have some spoiled grapes, is one permitted to remove the spoiled grapes from the cluster on Yom Tov?


We have stated that on Yom Tov one must perform borer in the easiest manner. Therefore, if there is a mixture of grapes, and the ochel (good grapes) is only a small amount one must remove the item that is less tircha. Therefore, one removes the ochel (good grapes) from the pesoles. However, if in the mixture, the pesoles is less than the ochel, than one should remove the

pesoles and not the ochel.


91. Is one permitted to make a salad on Yom Tov before going to shul?

On Yom Tov the condition of immediate use does not apply . However, one cannot prepare a salad that will also be for the second day of Yom Tov.



Special Note Two: HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, points out that Emunah is an extremely important Middah to work on at this time of year. He continues that it is very telling that the Ani Ma’amin in which we assert that we know that Hashem knows everything is juxtaposed with the Ani Ma’amin for the Biyas Hamoshiach, which is then further juxtaposed with the Ani Ma’amin for Techiyas Hameisim. From this juxtaposition, we must understand that our deeds have a destination. What we do in the here-and-now is not simply a concept of ‘do good, and do not do bad’--but is instead life with an end-goal, with a purpose. What would you say is the ‘most important’ Mitzvah in this world? Based upon punishments, it would clearly be Chilul Hashem--as the Rambam brings in Hilchos Teshuvah that one cannot generally obtain forgiveness for the sin of Chilul Hashem with Teshuvah, with Yom Kippur or even with suffering--but must wait until death to obtain complete forgiveness. At the time of Moshiach, life will be a flowing Kiddush Hashem--we will have attained the fulfillment of our deeds--and all of our actions will be truly L’Sheim Shomayim. This is our exit strategy. It is to this time that we long and yearn. At this time, we must recognize that Geulah is the destination of the world--it is the direction the world is going in--and that with our deeds we can bring it closer, or r’l, make it further. Chazal teach how important it is to be someich geulah l’tefillah--recite the bracha of Ga’ahl Yisrael and then immediately begin to recite Shemone Esrei. In Shemone Esrei itself, we then express that Hashem was not just the Ga’ahl Yisrael of the past, but is our Go’el Yisrael in the here and now. We look to the accomplishments of the past--with our full bitachon of our Geulah Sheleimah…in the forthcoming future. An important step for us is to at least recognize that not only was Hashem the Ga’ahl Yisrael--but, as we say in each and every Shemone Esrei--is also the Go’el Yisrael--the One Who will redeem us once and for all, so that we can fully and finally attain the purpose of creation. 



Special Note Three: The Sefer Otzar Pelaos HaTorah brings from the Sefer Ahavas Torah that there are 1,820 words in the Haggadah--corresponding to the 1,820 times that Yud-Kay-Vuv-Kay is found in the Torah!  Oh, how we should treasure each and every word in the Haggadah!



7 Nissan

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FROM RABBI MOSHE GOLDBERGER, SHLITA--Of the first 23 Mitzvos of the Torah, 20 of them are related to Pesach.  It would appear extremely appropriate to study these 20 before Pesach!



FROM A READER:  While at the Seder, think of those who for health reasons cannot drink wine, eat Matzah, or partake of a regular Yom Tov meal.  Also think of those who do not know how to drink the wine, eat the Matzah or enjoy Yom Tov.  In addition to thinking about them--thank Hashem then and there for all that you have!”



A WORD OF CAUTION:  A reader once reported that he found not Kosher For Pesach Chrain mixed into the “Kosher For Passover” section in his supermarket--this could innocently happen when a product is reshelved by a worker not so familiar with the English language.  Every label should be checked when putting it in your basket--at this time of year it not only has to be Kosher, it has to be....  We also caution about brands that you are not familiar with during the year--that is not to say they are not fine--it is to say that if you want to use an unfamiliar brand, even if it may have an ostensibly good hashgacha for you--just check to make sure that the product is in fact certified by checking with the certifying agency.  “U’Shemartem Es Hamatzos---be careful about the Matzos”--and everything else you will bring into your home--and into your body (to sustain your soul) during these uplifting and uplifted days!



FROM EMUNA DAILY:  The Chasam Sofer teaches that every brick that we laid in Egypt as slaves, each and every bitter event that occurred--added up to the Cheshbon of our redemption!  Hakhel Note:  HaRav Gedaliah Schorr, Z’tl, in the Ohr Gedalyahu teaches that the Galus we are in is very much a part of our Geulah Sheleimah.  He explains that Hashem had to redeem us when we had sunk to the 49th level of tumah--because although Hashem could have redeemed us even at the 50th level, we literally would have been a different people.  The brilliant Mashal he gives is to a seed planted in the ground which, while in the process of dissolving becomes a growth and bears fruit.  If the seed had totally disintegrated, no fruit could be attributed to that seed.  The lesson to us is as we feel the pangs of Galus--even within the trying period that Torah Jewry is now experiencing in Eretz Yisrael--we must recognize that if we act and react properly, the last brick we had to place will have been laid--and the Geulah will have come sooner, instead of later.  Let us feel for the Roshei Yeshiva and the Yeshiva students, let us do good deeds for them…and let us daven to Hashem with fervor, remembering:  Shelo Echad Bilvad…VeHakadosh Baruch Hu Matzileinu Miyadam!”



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos (currently, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 431, et al.) relating to Pesach. The following are culled from the Notes of the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah. Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach rules that if parents and grandparents are present at the Seder, a father can rely on the grandfather’s teachings, for the Mitzvah of Vehigadeta Levincha simply requires the son to hear the Sippur Yetziyas Mitzrayim on the Leil HaSeder--not that the father specifically be the one to relate it.  If one has no children present, one nevertheless has a duty to himself to review in detail the Sippur Yetziyas Mitzrayim.  The Kaf HaChaim adds that when one reviews the Sippur to himself, he should do so in a loud voice. 


Hakhel Note:  At a Hakhel Pre-Pesach gathering, HaRav Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, emphasized that one must experience the Leil HaSeder as a Derhobiner Nacht--personally feeling a level of Kedusha, together with a Simcha Atzumah--the personal euphoria of Yetziyas Mitzrayim.  We may add that one who truly feels and is elevated and uplifted by the experience of our previous Geulah--will be well trained and ready to experience the Kedusha and Simcha of our Geulah Sheleimah--BeMiHeirah V’Yameinu!


B.  HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, writes that the Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim should be related on the Leil HaSeder in the manner in which all gathered understand, feel and are moved by what happened to us in Egypt --bringing them to give hoda’ah to Hashem for what has occurred.  Any other pilpulim, drashos and kushiyos are unrelated to Sippur Yetziyas Mitzrayim and to the reading of the Haggadah. 


C.  Women are obligate to recite Hallel just as men are at the Seder.


D.  The use of the term ‘stealing’ the Afikomen is objectionable--as Jewish children do not steal.  In fact, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, did not allow the children to take the Afikoman, for it is colloquially known as stealing--and how can we allow children to steal and get rewarded for it?  Accordingly, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen rules that if one does have the Minhag in his family, he should not use the negative verb of ‘stealing’ but rather ‘chatifa’--or grabbing, which is more palatable (forgive the pun).  HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik, Z’tl, objected to the practice as well, because the afikoman needed to be guarded--as all Matzos Mitzvah, based upon the Pasuk “U’Shemartem Es HaMatzos”.  It was also not a custom in the Steipeler’s home for the child to take the Afikoman. 


E.  The Brisker Rav writes that everyone at the Seder should eat their first kezayis from Matzos that were on the table when the Haggadah was being recited--properly fulfilling the term Lechem Oni--bread over which the Haggadah was recited. 


F.  When using ground chrain for Maror, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that because it is difficult to dip into Charoses, one can simply place a little bit of Charoses on top of the Maror. 


G.  The Tur writes that reason that we do not make a bracha over Charoses, is because it is tafel to the Maror. 


H.  Although we do not eat the Maror B’heseiba because it is zecher l’avdus, the Mishna Berurah rules that one may nevertheless eat it B’heseiba. 


I.  One should be sure to drink a revi’is of the fourth cup--as he is making a bracha achrona of Al Hagefen after this cup.




Special Note One:  Chazal teach that according to Rebbi Eliezer the world was created in Tishrei, and according to Rebbi Yehoshua the world was created in Nissan. Tosfos explains that in fact, there is no disagreement between them--Hashem’s ‘Machshava’, His thought to create the world originated in Tishrei--but the Ma’aseh, the Creation itself,  was actualized in Nissan.  Based upon a teaching of HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita explains that in Tishrei we follow the lead of Hashem and work upon our Machshavos--our thoughts.  We are busy with Hirhurei Teshuva, with thoughts of self-improvement, and intent to change over the coming year.  Nissan, on the other hand, is the time that the world was actually created--it is the time of Ma’aseh, of deed, of action.  All of the Chometz removal, all of the pre-Yom Tov preparation--the Matzah, the shopping, kitchen, the Seder preparation , the Yom Tov foods--this is exactly the Avodah of this time of year!  We are fulfilling the map and direction established by Hashem at the time of creation itself.  So as you toil, as you work, as you prepare and perform the Mitzvos--recognize and appreciate--be glad of heart and feel inner joy--in fulfilling the LeMa’aseh of Creation--exactly at the right time of year!



Special Note Two:  It is said that a person can live for seven days without eating.  The Yetzer Hara lives on haughtiness and desire, symbolized by Chometz. We accordingly ‘starve him’ over the seven days of Pesach--with the hope that he will never return! In this regard, we provide an outstanding and moving story provided in the wonderful work Commentator’s Haggadah, by Rabbi Yitzchok Sender, Shlita (Sh’or Yoshuv Institute):


“Rav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk said that people make a mistake if they believe that Eliyahu HaNavi comes in through the door.  In truth, he must enter through our hearts and souls.  A story is told of a man who came to the Maggid of Mezeritch and complained that evil thoughts entered his mind and he had no control over them.  The Maggid advised him to go on a journey to visit the Tzaddik, Rav Zev Wolf of Zhitmor.  The man followed his advice and embarked on his journey.  He arrived in Zhitmor late one winter’s night and knocked on Rav Wolf’s door.  Nobody answered, and even though he continued knocking and shouted and begged to be let in, nobody answered.  Suffering from the bitter cold, he had no choice but to seek out the local Shul and sleep on a bench there until morning.  Early the next morning, he made his way once more to Rav Wolf’s door.  This time the great Rav himself answered his knock and welcomed him, saying nothing about the previous night.  After some hesitation, the man told Rav Wolf that the Maggid of Mezeritch had sent him. “It is well that you have come,” answered the Rav; “For you have now learned the lesson that one is master of his home, and whomever he does not want to let in, cannot enter.:.”



Special Note Three: As Yom Tov soon approaches, we present the following Halachos relating to Yom Tov, as culled from the Hakhel Shiurim of HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita. The following Halachos are presented as Questions and Answers and complete the 100 question bechina (Shabbos and Yom Tov), which was prepared by Rabbi Webster. For tapes and CD’s of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim please call: 718-435-6974.


80.  Why is one permitted to cook on Yom Tov?


Briefly, the Torah states “Ach Asher Yei’acheil Lechol Nefesh Hu Levado Yei’aseh Lachem”--from this pasuk we learn that certain melachos were permitted for the sake of preparing food-i.e., ocheil nefesh. L’halacha, any melacha for food that is done in small amounts and could not be done before Yom Tov with the same results, may be done on Yom Tov. Cooking is one of the melachos in this category, due to the fact that fresh cooked food is better than cooked food prepared before Yom Tov (e.g. fresh kugel, roast, etc.). However, if the food can be cooked before Yom Tov without it losing in taste , it may not be cooked on Yom Tov (e.g. some desserts). If one did not have time to cook/bake before Yom Tov, or was only able to purchase the needed item close to Yom Tov, then one is permitted to cook/bake the item on Yom Tov. As always, one should ask a Shaila when in doubt.


81. Is one permitted to shecht on Yom Tov?


The halacha of ochel nefesh permits shechita for that day. However, in today’s times we do not shecht animals, although the shechita of chickens is permitted.


82. Is one permitted to perform an act of borer on Yom Tov?


Yes, if it could not be done before Yom Tov as stated in #80.  The halachos of borer on Yom Tov are different than Shabbos. On Yom Tov, one must perform borer in the easiest manner. If there is a mixture of ochel and pesoles, and the pesoles is only a small amount--one must remove that item, as it constitutes less tircha.


83. Is one permitted to use a vegetable peeler on Yom Tov?


Yes, as food preparation on Yom Tov is permitted for purposes of ochel nefesh.


84. Is one permitted to use an apple corer on Yom Tov?




85. Is one permitted to use a slotted spoon on Yom Tov?




86. Is one permitted to use a colander on Yom Tov?





Special Note Four: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.





I recently had my mezuzos checked, and was informed that some of them are Kesav Arizal while others are Beis Yosef. Is it a problem to use both at the same time in one house?


Ideally, all the mezuzos in one’s home should be written according to one custom. Therefore, if one can afford it, the other kesav should be replaced. If one is renting, however, there is significantly more room to be lenient.



What if one’s tefillin parashiyos are written according to one kesav, while his mezuzos are written according to a different kesav?


If the tefillin are Kesav Arizal – and that is his minhag – while the mezuzos are Kesav Beis Yosef, there is no problem at all. This is because many acharonim are of the opinion that the Arizal only wanted his kesav used in tefillin in any event.


If however, the tefillin are Beis Yosef while the mezuzos are Arizal, and the person is Chassidish, he may want to change his tefillin parashiyos to Kesav Arizal. If he is not Chassidish, he should switch his mezuzos to Kesav Beis Yosef if he can afford it. (Although again, when renting there is room to be lenient.)




Is it correct to assume, therefore, that if one finds a combination of Kesav Arizal and Kesav Beis Yosef within the tefillin themselves, this would be problematic?


Correct. Although such tefillin are kosher, it is not recommended to continue using them.




4 Nissan

FROM A READER: Regarding yesterday’s Sta”m Note: “Thank you, Rabbi Mendlowitz, for addressing this very common scenario, resulting from the Hashgacha delivering a large number of Sho’ah survivors from Hungary and Galicia hailing from Chassidishe stock, but whose children/grandchildren’s American upbringing and chinuch has been predominantly in the Litvishe tradition.  It is interesting to note that a scion of the Lechovitcher-Koidenover Chassidic School (which, indeed, was Lita-based), HaRav Sholom of Breihin, Zt”l, writes in his Sefer Mishmeres Sholom (6; 1) that his practice was to don Tefillin for reciting Birchos HaShachar and Krias Shma prior to Shacharis.  While his primary Tefillin (that he wore for davening) contained Arizal Parshiyos, as per the Minhag of his forefathers, followers of the Besht, Zt’l, his pre-Shacharis Tefillin contained Parshiyos of the Bais Yosef, in order to fulfill Mitzvas Tefillin in accordance with all opinions.”



CHOMETZ GEMACH IN FLATBUSH! Bring your chometz that has a reliable Hechsher (even in an open original box) and the Gemach sells it with its Chometz (it sells real Chometz), and after Pesach distributes it to poor people.  For more information, please call:  718-377-6361 or email yitzchak@relkin.com (write “Chametz Gemach” in subject line). The Gemach is located at 1101 East 3rd Street --one should call before to make sure that someone is home to receive the Chometz. All chometz must be dropped off by Sunday, April 13th at noon , the day of bedikas chometz.



KEEPING THE MIDDOS!  As our good character is tested in the time constraints that are ahead of us--let us remember that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim--for a reason!



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos (currently, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 431, et al.) relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period! The following are culled from the Notes of the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah. Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A.  The Steipeler would leave pieces of cinnamon which were not ground in the charoses so that it resembled straw--zecher l’teven.


B. There is a dispute among authorities as to whether one can combine two different kinds of maror together to make up the Shiur.  The Aruch HaShulchan brings that some do have the Minhag to do so, whereas HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, and the Minchas Yitzchak are concerned that one may take away from the taste of the other.  In all events, if one expels the Maror without swallowing it, he is not yotzei the Mitzvah. 


C.  When dipping must be done, such as the karpas in salt water, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that the dipping should be done before the bracha is recited.


D. There is a Machlokes Haposkim as to whether one should eat the karpas b’heseibah.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky and HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, for instance, rule that it is not eaten b’heseibah.  On the other hand, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, as well as the Brisker Rav and others, require heseibah. 


E.  The Maharil writes that when the Mah Nishtanah is recited, it should be done in a beautiful tune, with the intent of praising Hashem.  The one asking the Mah Nishtanah need not be a child--it can be an adult as well. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach rules that the person leading the Seder is obligated to specifically explain the answer to each one of the four questions of the Mah Nishtanah--and how through the Parasha of Avadim Hayinu all of the questions are resolved.  One should not simply rely upon the “Rabban Gamliel Omer” at the end of the Haggadah. 




Special Note One: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:


A. The following is excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 318). Once again, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


1. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that it is permissible to pour boiling liquids into a disposable (one-time use) plastic cup, and despite the fact that the plastic softens as a result, this is not considered to be boiling the plastic, as it is not the intent of the act, and is not the shiur of boiling plastic (which would be a shiur necessary to make plastic shapes). HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, concurs with this, explaining that it is only a melacha of Bishul when one softens something that is hard, and that one-time use disposable cups are soft to begin with. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that if the shape of the item will surely change because it has softened, it would be prohibited to pour hot liquid into the cup (ibid., Dirshu Note 2).


2. Similarly, it is not considered Bishul to soften a food by putting it into a hot liquid if the food is already fully cooked or baked. It is for this reason that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach suggests that one may put tznimim into a kli sheini which is not yad soledes bo, or into a kli shelishi, which is yad soledes bo (ibid., Dirshu Note 3).


3. If one who has already made Havdala records the voice of one who has not yet made Havdalah, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach rules that one may benefit from the tape. This is because--even though the one who did the taping intentionally violated the Lo Sa’aseh of Lifnei Iver--the person who was recorded did not realize he was being recorded and was accordingly only a misaseik (ibid., Dirshu Note 15).


4. If one mistakenly turned on a light switch, HaRav Nissim Karelitz is in doubt as to whether one can obtain benefit from the resulting light. If one turned on the light as a matter of course (such as one who usually flips on a switch as he enters the room), then HaRav Elyashiv rules that it should be treated as a shogeg on Shabbos, which the Shulchan Aruch rules is assur for the person who did the act, as well as for others, to benefit from on Shabbos. In a case of need, one should consult with his Rav or Posek (ibid.).


5. If a Jew  intentionally carries the keys of a Shul through the reshus harabbim and opens the  Shul door, the Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 2:77) rules that it would appear that the Shul could not be used unless it is locked and opened by a non-Jew in a permissible manner (ibid., Dirshu Note 28).  


6. The Igros Moshe, as well as HaRav Elyashiv and y’blcht, the Shevet HaLevi each rule that cooking in a microwave is a melacha d’oraysa on Shabbos, because it is the common manner of cooking, and is equivalent to cooking on a fire. However, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that it is Assur Mid’Rabanan, and that accordingly, if one must cook for a person who is ill, it is preferable to use a microwave (ibid., Dirshu Note 32).


7. The Sefer Shevisas HaShabbos writes that the Chasam Sofer permitted making seltzer on Shabbos (ibid., Dirshu Note 43).


8. The Shevet HaLevi rules that Lechatechila one should not make kosher jello on Shabbos, because of concern for the issur of nolad (ibid.).


9. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach rules that one can put a hot solid on a plate which has challah crumbs on it, for one does not intend to cook the challah by this. Similarly, HaRav Auerbach rules that one can place cucumber salad on a piece of hot kugel because a person does not want the cucumber salad to get cooked and in fact cooking the salad would ruin it a bit. However, HaRav Elyashiv rules that the kugel and cucumber should not touch. If they touched without intent through moving the plate, HaRav Wosner rules that one is nevertheless permitted to eat them (ibid., Dirshu Note 60).


10. If a pot has been heated not on the fire, but close to it, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach and the Shevet HaLevi rule that it is nevertheless considered to be a kli rishon (ibid., Dirshu Note 72).



Special Note Two:  The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh highlights for us how important the Torah considers this month, the month of Nissan.  The Torah uses the words (Shemos 12:2):  HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem Rosh Chadashim”, and then continues:  Rishon Hu Lachem LeChadshei HaShana”--this month to you is the first of the months, the first of the months is it to you…. There is, the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh teaches, no redundancy here.  The Torah is emphasizing that the inherent powers of this month are so great that it was intentionally made the first month of the year.  It is up to us, then--Lachem--to unleash these powers.  If we begin to characterize our Pesach work as a ‘mitch’, or a bother; if we express our frustration and cynicism at high prices, or complain of other Pesach-related ‘hardships’, then we are defeating the Lachem which the Torah reminds us about twice in the same Pasuk.  It is with a sense of joy and privilege that we should approach the next eleven days leading us to Pesach--a Chag upon which our souls became eternally free, even if our bodies may otherwise be bound in a temporary (hopefully at this point, very temporary) Galus Edom.  There is a related point, as well.  This year, there appear to be so many individuals and organizations in need--many more than in previous years.  There are those who are making a yeoman’s effort to keep their Ma’os Chitim and Tzedaka donations on par with previous years.  Others, may, however, fall short because of the financial position they are in.  If one finds himself in a better economic position this year than last, he should realize that Hashem is empowering and directing him to give more than in previous years--to help make up the slack of others.  Especially in these times in which we look to HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s Tzedaka and Chesed to save us in Eretz Yisroel and the world over, we should view the extra Tzedaka collectors and needy organizations as a means given to us by Hashem for us to exercise Tzedaka and Chesed.  Why?  The Pasuk states:  VeNassan Lecha Rachamim VeRichamcha VeHirbecha.”  HaRav Pam, Z’tl, explains that this Pasuk teaches that Hashem will give us opportunities for Rachamim and that if we exercise them, He will, Middah K’Neged Middah shower Rachamim upon us.  Let us do what we can-- over the next week and a half--giving of ourselves and of our money--with Simcha, and with trust!  Let us rise to the occasion!



Special Note Three:  As we come so close to Pesach, it becomes incumbent upon us to begin our study of the Haggadah.  The Vilna Gaon and the Maaseh Nissim Haggadah teach that the Geulah from Egypt was called “Chairus Olam”--because the Geulah of Egypt was the root of, and source for, all future Redemptions.  When one does Teshuva, he must always look back to the source, to the beginnings, of the aveira in order to uproot and destroy his connection to it.  Similarly, when yearning for our own final Geulah, we must study and review how our initial Geulah came about and what happened in order to properly connect to it.  This being the case, one can never learn enough of the Haggadah, its discussions and its teachings.  While intellectually one may know the ten makos by heart (including details from the Midrashim), shoot off the four reasons that we were redeemed, or list in perfect chronological order the Mitzvos we have on the Seder night, this is simply not enough.  Even if we “know it all,” we must come back year after year to the same concepts, the same lessons, and even to the same words, so that we continue to emotionally internalize Geulah through continuously developing a greater spirit of faith and belief in Hashem within us (See Michtav M’Eliyahu, Volume 4, Page 249).  The night of the Seder, with the uplifting four kosos, the Matzoh, the paradoxical Korech, the amazing Haggadah, and the unrestrained Hallel, is given to us by Hashem to continuously expand this spirit of Cheirus Olam within us. Accordingly, it behooves us to properly prepare!



Special Note Four:  As the focal topic of this week’s Parasha is Tzora’as, and Chazal explain that a primary cause for Tzora’as is Lashon Hara, we provide the following insights.  We must also once again recall that if we are studying the Parasha now, that there are no coincidences, and that there is great reason for its study AT THIS TIME.  We must accordingly be sure to apply the lessons to our daily life:


A.  The purification process of the Metzora involves the shechita of one bird, and the sending away of its counterpart alive. The birds, of course, symbolize inappropriate chattering which was the source of the Tzora’as affliction. HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Zt’l, asks, however--if the bird symbolizes chattering, why was one bird sent away alive--why were both birds not shechted, in order to symbolize the Metzora’s total cessation of needless speech as part of his Teshuva process?  HaRav Yerucham answers that, indeed, much speech needs to be corrected. Sharp, biting and sarcastic remarks, words of hurt and derision, Lashon Hora in all its forms, must all come to a complete halt. However, this does not mean that one should stop talking completely. Friendly words, words of encouragement, good advice, compliments and even properly worded constructive criticism, all have an important, and, indeed, essential place in an individual’s life. We note that before the live bird is sent away, it is dipped in the shechted bird’s blood, as if to remind it to always remember to avoid the wrong messages, the inappropriate comments and the wrong expressions. Then, and only then can the positive words take charge. They are set free upon the open field--to use life to its absolute utmost!


B. How can it be that two people study the same Mesechta thoroughly, put in the same effort and hours and remember it equally well, yet, in Olam Haba, one is cheerfully greeted by the Bais Din Shel Ma’alah, and the second is frighteningly frowned upon?  The Chofetz Chaim (Chovos HaShemira, Chapter 7) writes that the disparity may be based solely upon the Lashon Hora occasionally spoken by the latter person.  The Torah of the one who is careful with his speech, the Chofetz Chaim writes, shines from afar, while the Loshon Hora speaker smothers the light of his Torah with the Tumah which leaves his lips.  In addition to the profound impact Lashon Hora will have on one’s Olam Haba, the Chofetz Chaim (Kovod Shomayim 1:20) adds that Lashon Hora also severely impacts upon one’s actual Torah learning in this world.  He likens the Torah learned by a speaker of Lashon Hora to one who presents the King with a unique and beautiful gift (the words of Torah), which is poorly wrapped in a dirty gift box (the foul mouth).  Obviously, the more Lashon Hora ones speaks, the more repulsive the box--and gift itself--becomes.  On the other hand, a beautiful wrapping truly enhances the gift!


C. Tumah of the lips also includes Nivul Peh (profane language) of any kind (Shaarei Teshuva 3:229), notwithstanding its “social acceptability” by the “average person” in the ordinary course of conversation, and its use by persons who might otherwise consider themselves successful, professional, sophisticated, or religious. Pass by a city playground and listen to the way they talk--that should not be any of us--even for an instant!


D. The Chofetz Chaim brings the following remarkable statement from the Zohar Hakodosh (Parashas Pekeudei 264):  “When a person has a hisorerous to speak loshon hora, a ruach ra’ah (evil spirit) by the name of ‘Sichsucha’ is thereby aroused and actually rests upon this hisorerous of Lashon Hora, causing it to rise heavenward and bring death and destruction down to the world.  Woe to those who arouse themselves to do evil, and do not guard their mouth and tongue, and are thus not worried about this terrible result!  They do not know the tragic effect of their actions.”  Hakhel Note:  Remember Sichsucha --and say no to it! 


E. Contrary to popular thinking, Tzora’as as a punishment for Lashon Hora, among other sins, has not left us.  The Chofetz Chaim (Kovod Shomayim 2:15 ) brings from the Sefer HaKoneh that anyone who deserves this particular punishment will receive it in the future, r’l.  Observation:  The shame and embarrassment in the future may be that much greater, as others bask in unfathomable light and he is instead outside of the camp, isolated in quarantine, alone and ashamed. 


F. Furthermore, the Chofetz Chaim (Kovod Shomayim 1:17 ) brings from Chazal that the

ultimate punishment for the Ba’al Lashon Hora is that he will be speechless for eternity.  Can we at all appreciate the pain and shame one will feel if he stands mute as all around rejoice in the incomprehensible bliss of Olam Habah?  The Chofetz Chaim explains that we are forewarned of this Midah K’neged Midah punishment by the posuk “Yachres Hashem Kol Sifse Chalakos Loshon Medaberes Gedolos (Tehillim 12:4).”  The pasuk means that Hashem will forever cut off (kares) the tongue that speaks gedolos (a euphemism for Lashon Hora).


G. In this week’s Haftarah, we learn that the official in Shomron who exclaimed:  “If Hashem were to make windows in the sky…[could the famine be remedied by tomorrow]?!”, was trampled by the people at the gates of the city and died.  With this, the words of Elisha “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat from it!” were fulfilled. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that the sin of the official was that he was not Melamed Zechus on K’lal Yisroel.  He should have realized that they could be capable and deserving of such a great Nes even in such a short period of time.  Our Derech Eretz to others must include our respect for the Zechusim of each and every person that we encounter--and the fact that Hashem can and will provide for miracles in light of these Zechusim alone!




3 Nissan

HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos (currently, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 431, et al.) relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! The following are culled from the Notes of the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah. Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A.  The Steipeler would give treats to the children before the Seder began, so the children would get excited and begin to ask questions as to what was happening. 


B.  Before Kiddush, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach would especially advise all those at the Seder that they should have in mind that the bracha of Shehechiyanu covers all of the Mitzvos of the night. 


C.  The Mishna Berurah rules that when drinking each one of the four kosos, one should drink a rov revi’is from the kos at one time.


D.  The Mishna Berurah rules that if one does not have zero’ah for the ke’arah, he can take any type of meat.  If one does take the zero’ah, it should have some meat on it, as it is zecher l’korban Pesach.  The Chayei Adam writes that it is a bizuy mitzvah to throw out the zero’ah; instead, it should be eaten on the morning of the second day (or in Eretz Yisrael, on the first day) as part of the Seudas Yom Tov.


E.  The egg for the ke’arah need not be roasted; it can be cooked as well, for it is zecher l’korban Chagigah--which could be roasted or cooked.




Special Note One:  Yesterday, the second day of Nissan, the Parah Aduma was burned under the auspices of Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohein.  Today, the third day of Nissan, is the first day that the unparalleled and purifying Parah Aduma waters were first sprinkled on anyone ever!  Accordingly, it is a day that holds special tahara capability, individually and for our nation, and we should be sure to use that capability by purifying ourselves in some way.  The Luach Davar B’Ito points out that if there is anything that you can think of that could use some tahara--the time is extremely auspicious, and the opportunity is very great.  For some on-point ideas, we refer you to Chapters 16 and 17 of the Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim (which is on the topic of tahara).  You may think that if so few know about this, can it really be that effective?  Please consider, on the other hand, that when there are fewer customers purchasing, there will be much greater selection, and much better pricing!



Special Note Two:  Which Makka was going on today--the third day of Nissan in Mitzrayim--and accordingly, which Makka were we--the Bnei Yisrael--saved from today?  As Rav Dessler, Z’tl, teaches, we go through cycles in time which recur--perhaps we can think about today--and thank Hashem--for saving us from this devastating Makka we were miraculously saved from...!  One of the key aspects of Emunah we touch upon (actually grab hold of) during Pesach is Sechar Ve’Onesh.  As we prepare for the Seder, we should develop an appreciation and awareness of this in our everyday life.  It is no secret to anyone that the second Parasha of Shema focuses on Reward and Punishment.  This concept teaches us that Hashem cares about what we do, and that, our own actions determine our own outcome.  We are wholly and utterly powerless compared to Hashem--yet Hashem allows us to determine our own destiny.  What an important and far-reaching lesson!  If only the Mitzri’im had not done this, perpetrated that, or gone this far or that far.  We can well imagine that there would be much more left of them than some chariot spokes at the bottom of the Red Sea and some other ancient artifacts.  Take their devastating punishment, and multiply it by the converse--the eternity of spiritual reward, and we can begin to understand the teaching of the Ba’alei Mussar who plead with us to rid ourselves of the Yetzer Hara in every which way that we can as we rid ourselves of the Chometz.  Cleaning closets, scrubbing walls and emptying refrigerators are not perfunctory acts for the sleepy and overworked--but are lessons in cleansing and purification--as we thoughtfully work on our Emunah in Sechar Ve’Onesh--ridding ourselves of the causes of Onesh, and bringing ourselves to eternal and everlasting reward.



Special Note Three:  We have already reached the third Nasi today--the Nasi of Zevulun, Eliav ben Chailon.  Although Zevulun was the tenth son of Yaakov Avinu, he merited to bring the third Korban as Nasi.  Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:17) teach that the “tenth” son became the “third” son here--a 300% plus prioritization--for one reason alone:  It was because “Shechibav Es HaTorah VeHirchiv Yodov Lefazer Es Mamono LeYissocher--his cherishing of Torah caused him to open his hand wide and support his brother Yissocher in his Torah studies.”  With this wise and generous act, he fulfilled the words of the wisest of all men, Shlomo Hamelech, who teaches in Mishlei ( 18:16 ), “Matan Adam Yarchiv Lo, Velifnei Gedolim Yanchenu--A man’s gift will make room for him, and it will lead him before the great.”  In fact, Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah, ibid.) even conclude with respect to Zevulun that “Godol Hame’aseh Yoser Min Ha’oseh--he was greater than Yissocher because, but for him, Yissocher would not have been able to study, and would not have produced 200 leaders of the Sanhedrin.  It would appear to be especially auspicious to write a check to a Kollel member or to a Kollel today.  Remember Yad Eliezer’s plea for the Ponovezh Kollel (see above)! Additional Note:  The Navi teaches that ‘VeShaveha B’Tzedaka--those who return will be redeemed with the giving of Tzedaka’.  In this season of Geulah we should try to give whatever we can!



Special Note Four:  We most definitely should not let these Emunah-filled days go by without some Bli Neder attempt, commitment, or improvement in our daily Tefillah or brachos recitation.  Even if one would take just one Bracha in Shemone Esrei (such as Re’ai VeAnyeinu or Tekah BeShofar Gadol LeCheiruseinu) with attention to the specific meaning of each word, or stop and think for one moment before making a bracha on a food item about the nourishing and meaningful gift Hashem is about to bestow upon him, he will have demonstrated an elevated and TIMELY level of Emunah.  It is important to note that just as a caring woman cannot afford to wait until the last moment to rid her home of Chometz and begin her Pesach preparations, so too must we all--men and women alike--now move meaningfully and powerfully in the direction of true faith, belief and trust.  We note that the Mishna Berurah (Orach Chaim 429, seif katan 7) explains that the reason we do not recite Tachanun at all this month is because most of the month--the first twelve days (because of the Nesi’im Dedications) and then Yom Tov itself--have kedusha associated with them, the entire month is made ‘KULO KODESH’ (these are the words of the Mishna Berurah--not ours!).  Let us utilize this Kedusha, which infuses even a weekday like today to its fullest--by truly enhancing our lives with Emunah-filled days!



Special Note Five: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




The following question is extremely common:


I am an Ashkenazi Jew from Chassidish stock. However, we have no outward appearance of being Chassidish, nor do we have a Rebbe whom we follow. Also, we send all our children to Litvish schools. The only manifestation of our Chassidish roots is our family minhagim (i.e., davening nusach Sephard, standing for Kiddush and Havdalah, arranging the Seder Plate according to the Arizal, etc.).


For my bar mitzvah, my father bought me Arizal parashiyos, and now my son’s bar mitzvah is on the horizon. Which parashiyos should I buy for him – Kesav Arizal or Kesav Beis Yosef?


It is well-known that the Steipler Gaon (R’ Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, 1899–1985), and R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky, (1891–1986) used to tell people the following: “The only type of kesav mentioned in the works of the Rishonim is Kesav Beis Yosef, which is also the only kesav that is kosher according to all opinions. Therefore, by wearing Kesav Beis Yosef, one fulfills his Torah obligation according to all opinions. So why raise doubt unnecessarily?” This would seem to be particularly applicable in your situation, where it appears that you are raising your children in a Litvish environment.


Although one who is unquestionably Sephardi or Chassidish should follow his minhag (custom); one who is not a full-fledged Sephardi or Chassid would be advised to purchase Beis Yosef parashiyos.



After what you’ve told me, I’m getting a bit nervous. Does this mean that I should change my own parashiyos to Beis Yosef?



This is a very sensitive subject which has no clear answer. It is simply impossible to respond to such a question without knowing the questioner and his family history. You should consult a Rav who is thoroughly familiar with both your family and the halachic issues involved to help you reach the right decision.




2 Nissan

DAF YOMI REVIEW:  In the past we have mentioned the wonderful Daf Yomi Chazara website http://www.shaschabura.org.  We provide the Chazara program for Mesechta Beitzah by clicking here.  We thank a reader who helped us with this important link. 



WHAT A DAF YOMI RESOURCE! An important and valuable service is available to the Daf Yomi community worldwide.  Daf Notes (www.dafnotes.com), which produces a wonderful daily review of the Daf, also takes questions by email relating to the Daft Yomi Mesechta being studied and respond--as yet another one of its outstanding free services.  To correspond with Daf Notes, or to ask any questions that you like relating to the Daf or the Mesechta contact info@dafnotes.com



PRAYER FOR GUARDING YOUR EYES : By clicking here, we provide an essential Tefillah from the Sefer Taharas HaKodesh, as provided to us by the Always Our Kids Organization.



YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO REACH GREAT HEIGHTS : By clicking here, we provide a beautiful demonstration of the important progression of our daily Shacharis, as provided by The V’ani Tefillah Foundation. If one can visualize the contents of this link as he begins, and continues, to daven Shacharis--it should truly inspire true heartfelt Kavannah.



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A.  The Mishna Berurah defines heseibah as one’s head leaning to the left while seated, with a pillow placed underneath the head.  HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, explains that in addition to one’s head, most of one’s body should be leaning as well.  However, the leaning should not be to the extent that one feels uncomfortable in the position he is in.  The Ohr LeTzion writes that the position is one somewhere between lying and sitting--at least at a 45 degree angle.  Additionally, one must be leaning on something--if he is leaning in the air, HaRav Elyashiv rules that this is not heseibah. 


B.  The Mishna Berurah writes that the Haggadah itself is not recited b’heseibah, but instead B’Eimah U’V’Yirah--in awe.  Likewise, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that the brachos over the wine and the Matzah should not be recited b’heseibah--as a bracha requires awe as well. 


C.  Although it is brought that the Yom Tov meal at the Seder be eaten b’heseibah (see Mishna Berurah, Orach Chaim 472, seif katan 23), the Chazon Ish, Z’tl, the Steipeler, Z’tl, and HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach ruled that if one feels uncomfortable eating b’heseibah, he need not do so, and they in fact did not do so.


D.  In a similar vein, HaRav Elyashiv rules that the drinking of wine at the Seder to demonstrate cheirus should not be overbearing--and that one could use eitzos to make the drinking more pleasant--for instance adding grape juice to some extent--as long as the taste of the wine is still felt, so that derech cheirus remains.  The Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rav, Z’tl, the Chebiner Rav, Z’tl and HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, all rule that one can be yotzei cheirus with grape juice.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl and Rav Elyashiv require wine.  One who follows the latter p’sak should consult with his Rav or Posek in the event of any health or other issue regarding the intake of wine. 




Special Note One:  The Nasi whose portion we read today is Nesanel Ben Tzu’ar, the Nasi of Shevet Yissocher.  The Luach Davar B’Ito writes that the symbol of the Shevet Yissocher is the study of Torah.  Accordingly, the Luach writes that one should especially daven today for hatzlacha in Torah studies, and for Hashem to remove the impediments (including the Yetzer Hara’s guile) which distract him in any way from Torah study.



Special Note Two: The Chofetz Chaim (Chovas Hashemira, Chapter 13) ponders the following question: A person takes out insurance on his house, so that if, c’v, a fire occurs, he will have enough funds to rebuild his home. But a house is made only of wood or brick and it is only a safek that it will actually burn down. A person’s body, on the other hand, which is so holy that it houses the neshama, will certainly be consumed in the end, because all people die. Why does not everyone purchase T’chiyas HaMeisim Insurance, in order to insure that his body will come back to life at T’chiyas HaMeisim?! Neither cash nor a broker is needed to purchase this important insurance. The Chofetz Chaim explains that T’chiyas HaMeisim Insurance is the study of Torah. As the Posuk (Yeshaya 26:19) teaches  Hakitzu V’Ranenu Shochne Ofor Ki Tal Oros Talecha”—Awaken and sing you who dwell in the dust, for  the Dew of Light [of Torah] is Your Dew”—this, Chazal explain, will be what revives us at T’chiyas HaMeisim (Kesubos 111B). The Chofetz Chaim goes on to teach that the Light of Torah that will revive a person can actually be a combination of his Torah, the Torah of others that he supports and even the Torah of his children that  he sends through Yeshiva. It would seem that just as with insurance, where the larger the face amount of the policy, the larger is the amount that will be collected, so too with T’chiyas HaMeisim Insurance, the  more Torah to one’s credit, the more…


Note: What prevents one from arising at T’chiyas HaMeisim? The Chofetz Chaim (ibid.) quoting Chazal (Sotah 5A) states that the sin of gaivah (arrogance) prevents a person’s earth from moving during T’chiyas HaMeisim. Additionally, lending money with ribbis (interest) prevents one from arising (Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer 33). Even if a Heter Iska is used, the Chofetz Chaim writes, one must make sure that it is properly completed in order for it to be valid. Additionally, the Chofetz Chaim (Dovor B’ito, Chapter 2) writes that lack of proper care in matters of kashrus will also cause a person great difficulty  at the time of T’chiyas HaMeisim. His proof is clear: The chait of Adam HaRishon, which was eating  from the Eitz Hadaas, brought death to Adam HaRishon and death to the world, because the consumed fruit of the Eitz HaDa’as  traveled through the bloodstream and infected his entire body and consequently, the bodies of all future generations. One who consumes ma’acholos asuros in his lifetime, without exercising the proper care, likewise infects his entire body and demonstrates that he has not learned from the chait of Odom Harishon,  who was punished with death. How then can he awaken from his death at T’chiyas HaMeisim?! In fact,  the Chofetz Chaim answers that in such a case, one’s body will then require a “Tikun Norah” or, as he also  puts it, a “dreadful operation,” to remove the horrible infection in all of the limbs and organs of the body caused by ma’acholos asuros, in order to make him worthy to arise. With this idea, we can understand the  words of the Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 11) who writes that forbidden food is poison, and that one should  take the same steps to avoid it as one takes precautions to avoid death. This is not an allegory, it is really  very literal! One should never indifferently or naively put the blame on the mashgiach at a hotel catered affair, Shabbos retreat or restaurant—for it is your body, and your T’chiyas HaMeisim!


We must remember that Rav Schwab, Z’TL, writes in Selected Speeches (page 16) that he personally heard from the Chofetz Chaim that every day should be treated as a “sofek hashakul” (equally likely) for Moshiach’s arrival. T’chiyas HaMeisim will B’EH follow thereafter. Each person should take whatever steps are necessary to prepare himself now for this upcoming Great Event.


Final Note: Relating back to the Chofetz Chaim’s caution about Heter Iskas, we must advise that  there are a number of improperly worded Heter Iska documents in current use which are completely  invalid, rendering loan transactions made through them bone fide Ribbis. For example, the phrase “in lieu of the sharing of profits and losses” or “it has been agreed… (followed by language which does away with  the sharing of any form of losses)” voids the Heter Iska. Additionally, language which provides that “these  payments will continue until the original loan is paid in full” (which has the effect of guaranteeing payment of the principal) voids the Heter Iska, as well.




1 Nissan

HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A.  In the Nusach of Bitul Chometz, we recite the words “Debiyartei U’delah Biyartei--which I have burned/destroyed and which I have not burned/destroyed.”  If it has been destroyed--why does one need to nullify it?  There are many reasons:  (i) perhaps the subject Chometz has not been completely burned or destroyed; (ii) one intends with these words to include Chometz upon which something has fallen and which one does not intend to uncover, but still requires bitul; and (iii) the words also cover Chometz which has been removed by being sold to a non-Jew, and the possibility exists that the sale did not properly take place.


B.  The following is from the Sefer Otzros HaTorah on the Haggadah Shel Pesach:  All of the chumros and dikdukim that we undertake in cleaning our homes and utensils for Pesach are certainly me’orer great zechuyos for K’lal Yisrael, and are mevatel [as in bitul Chometz!] the machshavos ra’os of our enemies against us.  It is said that when HaRav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov would see women cleaning and preparing their homes, rinsing, washing, scrubbing and the like before Pesach, he recited the following: “Yehi Ratzon She’eilu HaMalochim HaYotzim Meima’asei Yedeihen Ya’alu Lifnei Kisei Kevodecha VeYamlitzu Tov Ba’adeinu--May this be an Eis Ratzon before You, Hashem, and may the Malochim that are created by their holy activities come before Your Holy Throne and serve as melitzei tov for all of K’lal Yisrael.”  Let us not lose sight of, and remember, that all of our holy activities in these days are creating Malochim Kedoshim!  Rebbi Levi Yitzchak recited a Yehi Ratzon--so can we! 


C. On Erev Pesach, the Chasam Sofer, Z’tl, would himself prepare the Seder table with a zriyzus nifla’ah and simcha atzumah.  The Michtav Sofer, based upon this, writes that every Yirei Shomayim should begin to set the Seder table after Chatzos on Erev Pesach, and make sure that everyone’s kos has a proper shiur and is fit for use (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 431, et al.).




Special Note One:  Now that Nissan is upon us, we must be smart enough to use the Month of Geulah--for that purpose.  Not only is Nissan proven from the-past, Chazal even teach that “U’BeNissan Asidin LiGa’el--in Nissan we will be redeemed.”  Indeed, the Yotzros for Parashas HaChodesh make it perfectly clear “Rusham BeChol Dor Shomur Hu LeRochev Al HaChamor--It is reserved **in every generation** for the one who will come riding on the donkey.”  Far be it from us to allow the Yetzer Hora to razzle and dazzle us over the next few weeks--when IN  FACT  we can accomplish so much towards our own Geulah!  Perhaps, if you have not already done so, you can start daily with the Tefilah Al HaGeulah from now until Pesach--which we once again provide by clicking here the tefilah in Hebrew and by clicking here the tefilah in English   May we also suggest that when reciting VeLirushalayim Ircha in Shemone Esrei that you picture Yerushalayim well--with the millions of people that were there in the past and will be there again celebrating Pesach--visualizing the Seder [including yours] on the rooftops, the palpable Ruach Hakodesh of the Tzaddikim, the Kohanim working in beautiful harmony, and the incredible Miracles of the Mikdash.  Think about the unadulterated Simchas Yom Tov (not needing Great Adventures to make it happen), and of the harmony, health and purity of spirit that will abound.  All of this may be only a prayer--your prayer--away!



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, provides a touching insight from the Chiddushei HaRim (the Gerrer Rebbe, Z’tl).  Geulah need not take place only on a communal level, but on an individual level, as well.  The Yotzros that some may have recited last Shabbos teach that Nissan is “HaChodesh Asher Yeshuos Bo Makifos--the month in which salvations follow quickly one upon another” (translation of Artscroll Siddur).  The Chiddushei HaRim, however, teaches that the word “Makifos” is also very much related to the word “hakafa”--an extension of credit (see, for example, Avos 3:20 , “Vehachenvani Makif--and the Merchant [Hashem] extends credit).”  The month of Nissan is an auspicious time during which we can ask Hashem for personal Yeshuos--on credit.  Even if we have not gotten there yet--we can express our beginning intention to do better and ask Hashem for the “merchandise” we need now.  It is market day, if you will, and the Merchant is unbelievably making it available on credit!  We have ahead a month that is infused with so much potential and good for us.  Let us begin with the beginnings of an act of Teshuva--whether it be coming to Shul on time, being more careful with Brachos, refraining from Ona’as Devorim to family and “close” friends, or anything else that you know you have to get better at--and then ask Hashem for His unparalleled and incomparable credit on your continued future actions.  May you be zoche to a marvelous credit rating in this very special month--and may you speedily receive the Yeshua that you seek.  Most certainly you have the Chiddushei HaRim to back you up!


 Additional Note:  In the Hagadda, we recite “Yachol Mai’Rosh Chodesh…--I might think [that the Mitzvah of relating the story of our Exodus from Egypt could be performed] from Rosh Chodesh Nissan and on.”  Why would I think this way?  After all did not the Exodus actually take place on the fifteenth day of Nissan, which is exactly the first day of Pesach--why would I think the Mitzvah could be performed earlier?  The Netziv (in the Chumash Ha’Amek Dovor, Shemos 34:18) writes, in fact, that the entire month is mesugal, is especially opportune, to instill within us true principles of Emuna and Avodas Hashem.  If this is the month which is mesugal --let’s not lose out on today!  



Special Note Three:  As we have noted in the past, the Mazel for the month of Nissan is a ram.  The Egyptians, who were the most professional of astrologers, worshipped this particular Mazel, because it is the first, the b’chor, of all of the Mazelos.  Accordingly, they believed they could draw the strength and power from this Mazel which was necessary for them to rule the world.

Hashem therefore specifically took B’nei Yisroel out of Egypt during the height of this Mazel’s governance--on the 15th day--in the middle of Nissan.  Moreover, the lamb (ram) which was the earthly symbol of this Mazel, was restrained by being tied to bedposts--and then even shechted during the Mazel’s very governance.  Had B’nei Yisroel been taken out in any other month, the Mitzri’im could have claimed that its Mazel was simply not ruling that month, but had it been…

  What is Mazel?  HaRav Chaim Friedlander Z’TL (Sifsei Chaim 2:268) explains that it is the method of controlling the creation from heaven to earth, which is wholly independent of man’s conduct (Mazel is connected with the word “Nozel”--to flow from heaven to earth).  The Egyptians were right--Mazelos were effective--until Rosh Chodesh Nissan--the day upon which Hashem taught us that WE, B’nei Yisraelwould now supersede and govern over all creation by our actions.  As the Posuk states: “This month is TO YOU the first month.”  Hashem, in the first mitzvah given to K’lal Yisrael as a people, teaches them that their actions will simply override all Mazelos.  As Rav Friedlander explains, the term “Ain Mazel L’Yisrael” (Shabbos 156A) means that the Mazelos have no power over us--just the opposite, our actions now control the creation.


This obviously puts us in a very responsible position.  On that first day of Nissan in the year 2448, we lost the status of commoners, and, in effect, became ranking high officers, because all of our actions, even the smaller ones, impact the world in its entirety.  In fact, our actions are so profound, that we can bring the Shechina into this world by building a Mishkan, and we can, c’v, drive the Shechina away with seemingly something as trivial as the Sinas Chinam--the senseless hatred--shown in the Kamtza-Bar Kamtza incident.


So what are we to do--is this simply teaching us about “Jewish guilt”?  No, quite to the contrary.  Does a King’s son look to make life simpler and say, “Forget this, I would rather carry water”??  Or does a Colonel say, “I’m giving this up to the easier life of guard duty??”  No, or at least, they should not.  Instead, they will recognize the importance of their position and learn how to help themselves--and the many others whose lives they now affect.  How?  By taking instruction from the King, and by learning from the Generals, what to do and how to do it.  Indeed, Rav Chaim Volozhiner Z’TL in the Nefesh HaChaim (Sha’ar 1, Chapter 4) teaches that the acts of sacrilege of Titus HaRasha in the Holy of Holies were less than meaningless trifle and had no bearing on this world--but our smallest deeds shake the cosmos. 


As we begin our Pesach preparations, where we spend our valuable time searching for even crumbs of Chometz, scrubbing walls and turning pockets inside out, when some men become homemakers--kneading dough, baking matzos, or perhaps grinding marror, where world class athletes would envy women’s adrenaline levels, when we spend so much money on potatoes and eggs and figuring out different ways to prepare them, we should keep in mind--or least when the going gets rough, remind ourselves--when performing any and all of our actions that we are the star colonels, we are sons of the King--whatever we do is truly very, very important and how we do it impacts not only on our family, friends or neighbors, but actually governs the world and all of its hosts.



Special Note Four:  Today is one of the most renowned days in the Torah, as, once again, we read last week, Hashem taught Moshe Rabbeinu on this day-- “HaChodesh HaZeh Lochem Rosh Chadoshim--This month is the first month to you of the year…” (Shemos 12:2).


The Gemara (Shabbos 87B) teaches that Rosh Chodesh Nissan took “Eser Ataros”--ten separate and distinct crowns--for ten unique events that happened on this day, which include the first day of the Avodah--the complete service in the Mishkan, with Aharon and his descendents to serve everlastingly as Kohanim Gedolim and Kohanim.  It was also the first day ever of the Shechina descending into the Mishkan, and of fire coming from Heaven to consume the Karbanos.


Additionally, not one or two, but eight different Parshios of the Torah were taught to K’lal Yisroel on this specific day (See Gittin 60A).


The Navi in Yechezkel (45:18) teaches that on THIS DAY the “Miluim”--the consecration of the THIRD BAIS HAMIKDASH will commence.  Accordingly, the Siddur Bais Yaakov writes that all who are “Mitzapim L’Yeshua”--await the Redemption--should recite the Pesukim related to the dedication of the Third Beis HaMikdash in Yechezkel, 43:18-27 and 45:18-20.


Indeed, the first 12 days of Nissan, the days of the dedication offerings of the Nesi’im (the princes of the tribes) in the Mishkan, are so powerful that Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov taught that in each of these days are inherent an entire month of the year.  With true clarity of vision, on each of these 12 days, one can understand what the entire corresponding month will be like.  The first day of Nissan provides the clarity for the entire month of Nissan, the time of redemption.


Today’s Nasi, i.e., the first one to bring Karbonos in the Mishkan, was Nachshon ben Aminadov, who was the same Nasi who jumped into the stormy sea for Geulah.  Perhaps the lesson for today is not to be ashamed or hesitant--but to jump in--to give it all that we have, to prepare for--and to bring--the Geulah!


Today is also the first day we can recite the Birchas Ha’Ilanos (list of locations  supplied yesterday), upon seeing a blossoming fruit tree (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 226 for further details on the proper performance of this Mitzvah).  One can show his/her zerizus and chavivus--alacrity and dearness--for this once-a-year Brocha by reciting it as early in the month as possible.


Finally, Rosh Chodesh Nissan is the Rosh Hashana for Shekalim (Rosh Hashana 7A)--the day **new** contributions were **required** to be used to purchase the daily sacrifices for the Bais Hamikdash (no matter how full the Temple treasury already was).  This teaches us that today is the day to start again, with a fresh and new commitment, to utilize the coming days to personally spring and blossom.  Let us feel the Special Time in the AIR --and improve and elevate our actions accordingly.  The opportunity is oh so blatant--grab on and enjoy!


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