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14 Nissan

SPECIAL EDITION OF HILCHOS SHABBOS: As part of our Hilchos Shabbos series, this week we provide by the following link http://tinyurl.com/jsyypc7  special Hilchos Shabbos relating to Yom Tov, which were distributed by the Hilchos Yom Tov Initiative, as a zechus for Chaya Malka Bas Bas-sheva. To subscribe on a weekly basis, email learnshabbos@gmail.com



OUR HILCHOS PESACH SERIES: By the following link http://tinyurl.com/nsgxf8s we provide all of the Hilchos Pesach that we have provided in the thirty day period before Pesach (including today’s Hilchos Pesach, below). Please print out for your review and feel free to disseminate further!


Hakhel Note: 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



REMINDER FOR THE MORNING: 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!



KEEPING THE PEACE: 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.



REMINDER! PRE-SEDER TEFILLAH! Click here 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!



REMINDER! 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:  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.



HILCHOS PESACH: We concluded our listing of 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 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!


B.  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]. 


C.  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!]





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 Yisrael--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 Hara 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.





A. 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 Yisrael 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!


B.  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!


C.  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.”


D.  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!


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.  At the Seder, we will be reciting the word “Dayeinu” fifteen times, multiplied by the number of times we sing the word.  Dayeinu means “it would be enough for us”.  What “would be enough” for us?  Let us look at the first passage of Dayeinu:  “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 Yisrael 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 Dayeinus--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 Dayeinus.  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- Dayeinu, Day-, Dayeinu, Day-Dayeinu, Day-Dayeinu.  This is what we ought to be talking--and singing--about!


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.  As in past years, 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!



HISORERUS! 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.



THOUGHTS ABOUT MATZAH:   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.



MEANING OF DAM PESACH AND DAM MILAH:  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 Yisrael 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!!





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!





13 Nissan

LET THE CONSUMER BEWARE! We have been advised that Costco is selling grapefruit from Eretz Yisrael.



FOR ALL THOSE ABOUT TO TAKE A HAIRCUT! The Kosher Haircut Guide--http://tinyurl.com/yh2dqy6.



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.



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….



FROM A READER: “The Biur Halacha in the first Siman quotes the Chinuch language in explaining how one can aspire to acquire Ahavas Hashem. I am not doing justice to the language of a Rishon but the essence of the advice of the Chinuch is that through learning Torah and delving into the torah ‘behecrech’ one will automatically come to love Hashem. (The more well known Rambam by contrast discusses another method of delving into the wonders of the universe). I have heard from the Bostoner Rebbe in the name of the Baal HaTanya that the only way to have true Ahavas Yisrael is through Ahavas Hashem because love of Hashem is the love of spiritual in contrast to love of this world. As many Seforim discuss, love of this world is basically mutually exclusive of love of Hashem. Therefore once this is so there is no longer a physical separation between man and his fellow Jew since we are all one Neshama--the more spiritual one is the more he will feel less apart from his fellow Jew ergo the greater Ahavas Hashem the greater Ahavas Yisrael. The reverse is also true; it will not be possible to truly love another Jew unless and until one has Ahavas Hashem.    I feel very strongly that this message should be broadcasted and made more well known. It so basic and so vital in our society that continues to descend morally at a precipitous pace. It is the basics of Ahavas Hashem and Ahavas Yisrael--what greater time is there to work on this than Pesach!”



FROM A READER: “Years ago, when speaking with Rebbetzin Kamenetsky, she suggested that every time I thank Hashem but don’t immediately ask Him for something, I am not ‘doing my job’--showing my Emunah and Bitachon ...  so I took her words to heart, and since then have been asking for something of HKB”H every time I thank Him, which is many, many times a day.  Usually it is for the Refuah Shleimah of someone on my lists, sometimes it is to ask Him to fix something that seems awkward Bein Adam L’chaveiro, or any one of the things I’m concerned about at the moment.  It is so clear that He runs the world and nothing happens except if He decides so ...  and I have found that the more I thank Hashem and ask for something, far from being greedy or a nuisance to Him as I had worried, I think He is pleased, because He continues to give me more and more... so I am left with only these words which I also say often:  Hodu LaHaShem Ki Tov, Ki L’Olam Chasdo!”



FROM A READER: “When Yaakov first meets Rochel, he is at a well with some shepherds, waiting for enough to come by to move the stone that protects the well. As she approaches, he asks the shepherds if all is well with his cousin Lavan, and they answer, “All peaceful, Vehinei Rochel Bito Ba’ah Im Hatzon — and here is Rochel his daughter, coming with the flock” (Bereishis 29:6).  A few pesukim later, “When he is still speaking to them, VeRochel Ba’ah Im Hatzon — and Rochel came with the flock that belongs to her father” (Ibid v 9). Notice that one time “ba’ah” is used to mean that Rochel was on her way, the other that she had arrived already. Rashi clarifies with a grammatical point; it makes a difference which syllable gets the trop mark and stress. The first usage was “ba’AH”, with the stress on the second syllable, meaning “she is coming”. The second, “BA’ah”— “she came”.


Everyone assumes that the line said at the end of Yom Kippur and the Pesach Seder is “Leshanah haBA’ah biYrushalayim — the coming year in Jerusalem”. But the Satmar Rav, HaRav Yoel Teitelbaum, Z’tl, said this is a mistake.


We voice this desire at the close of Yom Kippur, shortly after the year began on Rosh HaShanah, and on Pesach, shortly after the beginning of the year of months, the beginning of Nissan. We say it when a year just arrived. The line should not be said with the stress as “ba’AH” but rather say “BA’ah” — We are speaking of the year that just came!


Leshanah haBA’ah biYrushalayim habenuyah!



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.





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 Hara 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 Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, 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 Hara 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 Hara--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 Yisrael, 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!





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!



A MASHAL FOR THE SEDER:  One must come into the Seder stocked with help to hopefully enhance and in-trance.  To get us started, we provide the following Mashal of the Dubno Maggid as presented 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).



12 Nissan

MORE THAN TWO SODA CANS! We must be careful to check each and every Pesach product that comes into our home. A reader sent us a picture, presented by the following link http://tinyurl.com/jmhttgp which shows two seemingly identical cans of Coke that were found next to one another on the shelf--see if you can tell the difference.  He found the same issue with Mayim Chaim seltzer on the same shelf. A Rav reported a similar experience of members of his Kehillah with cooking oil. The lesson reverberates time and time again--each and every year--one must check each and every container!



FROM A READER: “With regard to your note on the 1,820 in Maggid of the Haggadah, I remember HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita, mentioning the above once, at his Pesach shiurim. He told us afterwards that the Avoda of Yom kippur, (I think Nusach Sefard) of Ata Konanta has 1,820 words as well. Hakhel Note: For further information on this topic, please see the following link: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/5635



PRE-SEDER TEFILLAH! Click here 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!



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.



THE LEIL HASEDER: For practical and meaningful Shiurim on how one should conduct his Seder, we provide an audio link to two masterful Shiurim by Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita (each approximately 60 minutes):





A “HEADS UP” FOR FRIDAY MORNING:  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!



HILCHOS PESACH: At a Shiur on the Halachos of Pesach, Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Z’tl, taught:


A.  It is a Mitzvah to eat Shalosh Seudos this Shabbos--even though the Leil Seder Sheini will begin a few hours later.  It is best if one davens Mincha on Shabbos early, goes home, washes and eats Shalosh Seudos with Matzah.  Indeed, the Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chaim 291:12) writes “Chalila LeHakel Shelo Le’echol Pas LeSeudas Shelishis…” [If one cannot find an early minyan for Mincha, and in his Shul they will be davening Ma’ariv soon after Mincha, then one can also eat Shalosh Seudos before Mincha].


B.  There are different Minhagim as to which brachos are recited by all participants in the Seder.  The Minhag Sefarad is generally that the Ba’al HaBayis makes all brachos (even over the four Kosos) and is Motzi everyone in order to fulfill the Hiddur of Berov Am Hadras Melech.  Others have a Minhag to the contrary, based upon the ruling of the Magein Avraham, and everyone recites his/her own Kiddush, Al Achilas Matzah and Al Achilas Marror, etc..  A third opinion attributed to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, is that the Ba’al HaBayis makes Kiddush and HaMotzi, and everyone makes all of the other brachos on their own.  Everyone should, of course, follow their own Minhag.  However, for those whose Minhag it is for the women to recite their own Kiddush on the Leil HaSeder--will they also recite Havdalah immediately following Kiddush on the second Seder Night?  The Debriztiner Rav, Z’tl, held that they would; as to whether women recite the bracha of Borei Meorei HaEish--this is a matter of further discussion (see Bi’ur Halacha 296, d’h Lo Yavdilu).  Hakhel Note: Accordingly, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek as to how to properly conduct himself.






1.         We once 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, Bilam 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 Yisrael 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 Yisrael 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!



TIMELY PISKEI HALACHOS--HARAV SHMUEL KAMENETSKY, SHLITA:  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!



11 Nissan

SHEMIRAS HALASHON--SALVATION FROM SAKANA ATZUMAH! The Chofetz Chaim expressly writes that when one is challenged with the possibility of consciously speaking words of Lashon Hara, he is in a ‘sakana atzumah’--great danger. The Chofetz Chaim does not write that it is only a spiritual danger that he is in. We may suggest that if one saves himself from the sakana atzumah of Lashon Hara--on a middah k’neged middah basis, he will be saved from sakanos atzumos in this world and the next!



REMINDER--DAVEN! This week, as we B’EH intently prepare for Yom Tov--let us remember to daven to Hashem that we successfully do so, without any Michsholim in the preparation--or in the ultimate result--of a Chag Kasher V’Sameiach!



ATAH CHONEN: As we daven for special Siyata Dishmaya this week, we recall the words of the Mishna Berurah on the bracha of Atah Chonen in Shemone Esrei (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 115:1, seif katan 1): “Ikar HaShe’eilah Shetzarich Ha’adam Lishol Mei’eis HaBorei Yisborach Sheyitein Lo Seichel V’Da’as Yashar Limos B’ra Velivchor BaTov--the ikar request of a person to Hashem should be that Hashem grant him the wisdom and clear knowledge to abhor that which is wrong and to choose that which is good.”



YOU CAN’T GO WRONG! The Pasuk clearly and expressly teaches that (Shemos 2:23-25): “VaYizakuVayishma Elokim Es Na’akasam…Vayeida Elokim--Bnei Yisrael cried out to Hashem, and Hashem heard their voices and knew that it was time for the redemption. This is what took us out of the Galus of Mitzrayim--one would certainly not go wrong in concluding that our crying out for salvation can take us out of this bitter Galus as well!



REMINDER--AN INVALUABLE AND TIMELY ASSET--SPREAD THE WORD! In the approximate 15 minute video available by the following link http://tinyurl.com/go2slw2, Rabbi Moshe Hillel Kaufman, Shlita, presents the mistakes a person can make when toiveling keilim--and how easy they are to rectify. Many misunderstand Tevilas Keilim as a “chumra”--whereas in many/most cases it is a Mitzvah D’Oraysa. Please view this video for yourself--and spread as far and wide as possible, as the biggest Tevilas Keilim season of the year has begun.



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



AMEN! Perhaps the most concise statement of one’s Emunah is his recitation of the word “Amen”--an acronym for Keil Melech Ne’eman. The Sefer Shomer Emunim brings from the Midrash that the Pasuk states: “Emunim Notzer Hashem” (Tehillim 31:24). That Hakadosh Baruch Hu saves and guards over each and every “Amen” that we answer, and that this special Shemirah will serve in a person’s stead in this world and in the next. One must be careful, then, to answer “Amen” properly at the end of a bracha--not too early before the bracha is completed, nor too late after the bracha is well over, and one must be sure that he has answered the full word of “Amen”--sincerely and enthusiastically expressing its acronym!


Hakhel Note: Especially in this time of Nissan, we can bolster our Emunah in a very significant way by demonstrating greater care and earnestness with our recital of “Amen”!



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos (currently, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 431, et al.) relating to Pesach. The following is 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 obligated 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 Afikomen, 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 Afikomen 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 Afikomen. 


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.



TIMELY PISKEI HALACHOS--HARAV SHMUEL KAMENETSKY, SHLITA: 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.



NOT KNOCKING OUT THE TEETH:  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!



10 Nissan


AN INVALUABLE AND TIMELY ASSET--SPREAD THE WORD! In the approximate 15 minute video available by the following link http://tinyurl.com/go2slw2, Rabbi Moshe Hillel Kaufman, Shlita, presents the mistakes a person can make when toiveling keilim--and how easy they are to rectify. Many misunderstand Tevilas Keilim as a “chumra”--whereas in many/most cases it is a Mitzvah D’Oraysa. Please view this video for yourself--and spread as far and wide as possible, as the biggest Tevilas Keilim season of the year has begun.



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



PRAYERS FOR PEACE:  Because of heightened security concerns worldwide, let us try this week, in spite of its whirlwind nature, to especially focus in the bracha of Sim Shalom--asking Hashem to bring us peace, without any further terrorism, injury or loss of life.  As we know from the Yetzias Mitzrayim, it is only HaKadosh Baruch Hu Who can do this--it is only He Who is the Sim Shalom!



NON-GEBROKTS ALERT:  Please remember that many cake-like products now available--(yes even the week before Pesach!) are non-Gebrokts, and that the appropriate brachos on them are 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. Start Today!



REMINDER -- THE SEDER CHECKLIST: We provide by the following link  http://tinyurl.com/zajlctg our Checklist for Erev Pesach 5776. Please feel free to distribute further!



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 Matzos to the pound. An incredible resource!



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 Kollel Los Angeles, under the leadership of Rabbi Gershon Bess, Shlita, has once again prepared 5776: A Passover Guide To Cosmetics And Medications, a detailed list of acceptable products that may be used on Pesach, which is available by contacting the Kollel at 323-933-7193. Rabbi Bess writes that HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, and yblch’t HaRav Wosner, Shlita, urged his continued publication of this listing--both for reasons in Halacha and in Minhag Yisrael. At the outset of the Guide, Rabbi Bess warns “no one should refrain from taking any required medication, even if it contains Chometz, without first consulting his/her physician and Rav.” The list does not address whether a particular product is Kosher--but only its Chometz-free status. Something can, of course, be non-Kosher and Chometz-free.


B. Of particular note is that, among others, items in the Advil, Purell, Coast, Dial, Gold Bond, Mary Kay, Revlon, Cortizone, Claritin, Amoxicillin, Prevident, Eucerin, Shaklee, 4Kids, lines do contain Chometz. Page 3 of the Guide provides a list of ingredients to be on the lookout for. Page 61-62 of the Guide provides a list of products to be on the lookout for.


C. For questions to Rabbi Bess regarding the Guide, one may email rgbess@hotmail.com.  For the latest updates to the Guide, we refer you to www.kehilasyaakov.org



THE TENTH OF NISSAN: Today is the tenth day of Nissan, which is marked by at least three great milestones:


A. It is the day that the Bnei Yisrael 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 Yisrael, 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 Yisrael 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 Yisrael separate was annulled.


C. Just one year after Miriam’s passing on this date, Yehoshua Bin Nun and Bnei Yisrael 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.



ZEH HADECHAK: We will recite the words Ve’es Lachatzeinu--Zeh Hadechak: words in the Haggadah very shortly.  The commentators explain that the Mitzriyim kept us oppressed and pressured so that we would not have time to think, and to daven to Hashem.  We must keep in mind over the coming week that we cannot let the tremendous amount that needs to be done adversely impact upon our state of mind, our davening (which, if anything, should be enhanced!), or our learning, to the greatest extent possible.  We should not impose upon ourselves that which the Mitzriyim consciously inflicted upon us.  The words of the Rosh that we have noted in the past--Ahl Tevahel Ma’asecha should be kept in mind and on one’s lips, in order to avoid any feelings of anxiety, consternation or perturbance--which are in all events counterproductive.  Let us do our utmost to greet Pesach with a joy it so richly deserves!



COUNTING THE WORDS: 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!





A. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation had distributed the following Ten Rules of Shemiras HaLashon:


“Lashon Hara means the making of a derogatory or damaging remark about someone. The Torah forbids one to denigrate the behavior or character of a person or to make any remark that might cause physical, psychological or financial harm.


These are ten basic rules to remember:


1. It is Lashon Hara to convey a derogatory image of someone even if that image is true and deserved. (False derogatory statements are called motzi shem ra, slander.)


2. A statement which is not actually derogatory but can ultimately cause someone physical, financial, or emotional harm is also Lashon Hara.


3. It is Lashon Hara to humorously recount an incident that contains embarrassing or damaging information about a person even if there is not the slightest intent that they should suffer any harm or humiliation.


4. Lashon Hara is forbidden even when you incriminate yourself as well.


5. Lashon Hara cannot be communicated in any way, shape, or form (i.e., through writing, body language, verbal hints. etc.).


6. To speak against a community as a whole is a particularly severe offense. Harmful remarks about children are also Lashon Hara.


7. Lashon Hara cannot be related even to close relatives--including one’s spouse.


8. Even if the listener has previously heard the derogatory account or the information has become public knowledge and the subject will suffer no further harm by its repetition, it nevertheless should not be repeated.


9. R’chilus, which is telling one person a derogatory statement that another person said about them, is forbidden because it causes animosity between people.


10. It is forbidden to listen to Lashon Hara or r’chilus. If someone inadvertently hears Lashon Hara, it is forbidden to believe that it is true. One should give the person the benefit of the doubt--assume the information is inaccurate or that the person does not realize he is are doing something wrong.


NOTE: There are times when Lashon Hara is permitted or even required. i.e.,  when warning a person about potential harm, for example, a potential business or marriage partner. On the other hand, secondhand information and baseless impressions have momentous implications. The questions of when you are allowed or even required to speak Lashon Hara are complicated. A Rabbinic authority with expertise in the field of Shemiras Halashon should be consulted in any of these cases.”


Hakhel Note: May we suggest doing something--making an advanced contribution--in the fight against Lashon Hara.  How about memorizing the Seven Prerequisites that must be fulfilled in order to be able to speak (what may otherwise be considered Lashon Hara) for a constructive purpose?  How about putting to memory some of the Asehs or Lo Sa’asehs that a person could violate if he speaks Lashon Hara?  How about challenging oneself to a Lashon Hara free day--or to making sure that you compliment at least three people a day.  Let us LIVE the Parasha--day after day after day!


B. The following is excerpted from the excellent work Sefer Chofetz Chaim--with the Commentary Yad Dovid, by Rabbi Dovid Marchant, Shlita:  “The story is retold by R’ Shalom Schwadron, Z’tl, about one Purim when the home of the Chofetz Chaim was filled with people.  A certain young scholar insisted that the Chofetz Chaim promise him that he could sit next to him in the world to come.  The Chofetz Chaim replied: “I don’t know how big a share I have in Gan Eden, but one thing I do know-- I will probably have some share in Gan Eden, because from the day I was old enough to reason and understand, I have not listened to nor spoken Lashon Hara. If you promise me that from now on you will do the same, I can assure you a place next to me in Gan Eden.” Let us stop and think about this reply. Even if we have not personally been promised by the Chofetz Chaim that we may sit next to him in Gan Eden, we see that he made a clear assumption that probably, for keeping away from listening to or speaking Lashon Hara, he had some share in Gan Eden. In other words, a share in Gan Eden is assured to any Jew who observes the laws of Loshon Hara. What a tremendous revelation this is for us.”


Hakhel Note:  We may all be familiar with this famous story--but its lesson from Rabbi Marchant to us all--should really hit home in a great and powerful way!  As Rabbi Marchant himself puts it:  “Any thoughtful joy, upon learning about this, should immediately repent of having previously listened to or spoken Lashon Hara, thus wiping his/her slate clean of this sin and embarking upon a new life of learning and observing these Halachos!”



7 Nissan

MOTZI RA: Metzora can be viewed as a contraction of two words--Motzi Ra--in which we are enjoined to rid ourselves of the evil within us--or face the consequences.  As we are busy these days removing so many things from inside our homes--the Torah in our Parasha reminds us to ALSO MOST DEFINITELY REMOVE the evil within ourselves.. We need to clean not only our homes--but ourselves as well!  Remember it’s the time of Motzi Ra!



HILCHOS PESACH: We present the following rulings of HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, relating to Hilchos Pesach, as presented at the OU/Hakhel Shiur as well as from Piskei Halacha of Rav Belsky, as compiled by Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits, Shlita. We urge everyone to consult with his own Rav or Posek, as to his particular facts and circumstances.


BEDIKAS CHOMETZ: Even if one goes away for Pesach, he should be sure to designate an agent to be bodek Chometz and to be mevatel and sell his Chometz as well. Going away does not create ‘an exemption’ from Chometz.


LIBUN: One should not make his own determination as to how to Kasher his stove--which is perhaps the most important item to properly Kasher for Pesach. One should consult with his Rav as to just exactly what to do and how to do it.


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


SEDER: The Seder is intended to be a time of enthusiastic renewal--what does it mean to be an eved to anything--and what does it mean to be free? A person can be a slave to a potato chip--if he must eat the next one and the next one. On the Leil HaSeder, every person should bring himself to internal and external cheirus. Hakhel Note: We likewise refer to freedom from the servitude to a Smartphone.... As HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, teaches--a truly free person is not one who does what he wants--but one who does not do what he wants!


HESEIBAH: Heseibah is not intended to be an act of contortion, but a comfortable way to eat in a reclined fashion, as if one is on a short bed. If one does not know how to do Heseibah, or is unsure--he must consult with his Rav as to how to properly perform the Mitzvah


HAVDALAH ON MOTZA’EI SHABBOS: Even women who recite Kiddush together on the Leil HaSeder should not recite the Havdalah portion of Yaknehaz on Motza’ei Shabbos and should instead answer “Amen” to the brachos over the Ner and Havdalah.


TOOTHPASTE: Toothpaste is made to be palatable, and certainly made to be able to be swallowed accidentally. Very often, the glycerin product in the toothpaste is not Kosher. No one should fool themselves by purchasing a non-Kosher toothpaste. There is adequate Kosher toothpaste on the market.


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 is 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.



A WORD OF CAUTION WHEN SHOPPING: 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.  “Ushemartem 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!



THE PHRASE FOR NISSAN: 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].



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 (see the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah for further elucidation).



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!”



AN IMPORTANT NOTE FROM THE OUTSTANDING TORAH TAVLIN HAGGADAH: “Unfortunately, in many homes, after the second Seder night, the Haggadah becomes nothing more than a bentscher even though the eight days of Pesach are supposed to be an eight day course in Haggadah Shel Pesach. It is therefore very advisable that those who can should prepare Divrei Torah on the Haggadah for every meal until the end of Yom Tov. Also, each time one eats Matzah, he should internalize the many lessons in Emunah that the Matzah represents.”





We focus on this week’s special Shabbos--Shabbos HaGadol:


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 Eibeshitz, 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, the Bnei Yisrael 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 Yisrael no longer returned to work for the Mitzriyim.


E.         In Nishmas that we will recite tomorrow, we state that there are “Rivei Revavos--tens of thousands” of things to thank Hashem for. We then begin with a short and poignant list. What is the first one listed there....from this we see how foundational and fundamental Pesach is to our lives!


F.  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 Yisrael!


G.  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 Yisrael on the Shabbos before their leaving Egypt.


H.  The last Pasuk in Shemone Esrei is also the first Pasuk of the Haftara for Shabbos HaGadol--VeArva LeHashem Minchas Yehuda VeYerushalyim 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 are 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 Pasuk of Shemone Esrei three times a day with a special yearning to bring a Karbon Mincha in the Beis 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 One:  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!  


Additional Note Two:  The Levush writes that the reason we read the Haftara of “VeArva” on Shabbos HaGadol is because it relates to the future Geulah, just as Moshe Rabbeinu advised the Bnei Yisrael of their imminent Geulah.  May this year’s Shabbos HaGadol Drasha lead directly to our Geulah Shleima as well!



WHO IS THE MASTER OF YOUR HOME?: 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.:.”



A TIMELY MIDDAH! 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!



POINTS AND POINTERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA:  As the focal topic of this week’s Parasha is Metzorah, 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 Hara 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 Hara 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 Lashon Hara speaker smothers the light of his Torah with the Tumah which leaves his lips.  In addition to the profound impact Lashon Hara will have on one’s Olam Haba, the Chofetz Chaim (Kavod Shomayim 1:20) adds that Lashon Hara also severely impacts upon one’s actual Torah learning in this world.  He likens the Torah learned by a speaker of Lashon Hara 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 Hara 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 Pekudei 264):  “When a person has a hisorerous to speak Lashon Hara, a ruach ra’ah (evil spirit) by the name of ‘Sichsucha’ is thereby aroused and actually rests upon this hisorerous of Lashon Hara, 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 Hara, among other sins, has not left us.  The Chofetz Chaim (Kavod 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 eternal light and he is instead outside of the camp, isolated in quarantine, alone and ashamed. 


F. In fact, the Chofetz Chaim (Kovod Shomayim 1:17) brings from Chazal that the ultimate punishment for the Ba’al Lashon Hara 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 Sifsei Chalakos Lashon Medaberes Gedolos (Tehillim 12:4).”  The pasuk means that Hashem will forever cut off (kares) the tongue that speaks gedolos (a euphemism for Lashon Hara).



6 Nissan

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. 



SIMCHAS YOM TOV--A WEEK IN ADVANCE!  When one provides ma’os chittim, he is not only giving tzedakah, but fulfilling the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov--for himself and others.  One’s own Simcha is no longer relegated to his Simchas Krayso (or, if applicable, to that of his family)--but is extended to those in his community, and to those thousands of miles away.  It is getting close to a week before Erev Yom Tov, and Yad Eliezer still desperately needs funds to help Bnei Torah--which will be matched on a three-for-one basis.  Please, please--fulfill the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom today--for yourself and for those in need in Eretz Yisrael.  Donate by calling Yad Eliezer at 718-258-1580 by email info@yadeliezer.org visit www.yadeliezer.org, and in the comment section insert: Hakhel--Three-For-One Kiryat Sefer Avreichim match, or mail a check to 1102 East 26th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11210.


Hakhel Note One: Even if you have already given--now is the time to give again when your funds are so desperately needed!


Hakhel Note Two: By the following link http://tinyurl.com/q3lyrog we provide the powerful words of the Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah in this area, which we urge you to print out, and make known to others.



GETTING PRACTICAL!  The Rambam provides eight chapters in Hilchos Chometz U’Matzah.  If one begins today and studies one Chapter a day, he will have completed all of Hilchos Chometz U’Matzah in the Rambam by Erev Pesach!  There is another way for us to get practical as well--the Rambam also provides Hilchos Korban Pesach, which is 10 Chapters.  We all still have the opportunity to bring the Korban Pesach this year, as a Tzibbur Betumah.  To study these Halachos before Pesach (a bit more than a Chapter a day) demonstrates our Emunah that the Geulah Sheleimah can come at any time--even at any moment!  We recall the words of Chazal--B’Nissan Nigalu U’V’Nissan Asidin Liga’el--as we have noted in the past, Geulah is a reality to us at all times, and most certainly in Chodesh Nissan!



SHEDDING THE SHIBUD!  One Rav remarked to us that every person should go into Pesach with one less complete shibud upon him--and that a prime area for tikun should be in the cell phone area.  Many cannot go for more than a few minutes--and certainly a few hours without looking at the cell phone for calls, emails or texts.  Many are seen typing on the streets; others read or type as family members talk to them; others walk into shul; and other public places with gadgets affixed to their ears; and some talk in stores and on elevators. In truth, every person who owns a cell phone has at least one aspect of a shibud that he can release and relieve himself of.  Now, in the week before Pesach would be a wonderful time to drop at least that shibud--to more properly celebrate the Zeman Cheiruseinu!



AS THE CHAG APPROACHES, we once again provide an important link to The Kosher Haircut Guide Poster (available at http://tinyurl.com/yh2dqy6 ).  We urge you to distribute this link, in order to help many others in your community as well.  To obtain a free large and laminated poster for placement in a barber shop, or permanent placement in Shul, Yeshiva, or other institution, please call: 718-253-5497



BASKING IN THE COMING DAYS! Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita (in the name of HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita) brought 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 pristine as they needed to be to turn the tide and bring us the Geulah Sheleima.  This week, 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 week 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!



NISSAN AS A TIME OF ACTION:  Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita points out that Tosfos reconciles the fact that according to Rebbe Eliezer the world was created in Tishrei, and according to Rebbe Yehoshua the world was created in Nissan as follows:  In fact, there is no disagreement, 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 the teaching of HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, Rabbi Schneider 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 regale--in your fulfilling the LeMa’aseh of creation--exactly at the right time of year!



5 Nissan

SPECIAL RESOURCES:  We provide by the following links wonderful Pesach Handbooks for your distribution--as made available by Ohr Somayach and Partners in Torah--Mi KeAmcha Yisrael!!


 Ohr Somayach http://ohr.edu/pesachbook/org.php

Partners in Torah http://www.partnersintorah.org/jewish-holidays/passover



BIRCHAS HAILANOS REMINDER!  May we suggest that you join with family or others to make this uplifting annual bracha.. If you have not already made the bracha--don’t delay--and be mezakeh others with a warm reminder!



SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY:  The opportunities for us to recite “Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem” and “V’Sein Tal U’Matar L’Vracha” in 5776 are becoming fewer and fewer.  Please remember to make them really count!



TEFILLAH AHL HAGEULAH: We remind our readers that as we are in the period between the Geulah of Purim and the Geulah from Mitzrayim, it is certainly an auspicious time for the final, everlasting Geulah.  Accordingly, we provide by the following link to the Hakhel website the Tefillah Al HaGeulah, to be recited with Kavannah--especially during the month of Nissan!   The Hebrew version is available by the following link:  http://tinyurl.com/ncm2ou3  and the English version is available here:  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos 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. At a Hakhel shiur, HaRav Belsky, Z’tl, 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!


B. At the same shiur, HaRav Belsky ruled that one could simply  place his stove top grates into the self-cleaning oven to kasher them, rather than subjecting them to intense heat via placement of a blech on top of the stove.


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 10 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 Mitzraim, and as close by as having the ability  to pick up the cup and pour... and there is a lot--a lot--in between to be thankful for! Then--when it comes to the Seder--let your thanks reach a crescendo!



FROM THE OUTSTANDING TORAH TAVLIN HAGGADAH “Rav Zalman Guttman, Shlita, writes that Emunah means knowing that Hashem is the Creator and Supervisor of every single action in this world, and that everything He does is for the good! All negative traits, such as anger, frustration and kefirah, can be traced back to Paroh, the one who said: “Who is Hashem that I should listen to His voice?” (Shemos 5:2) Hakhel Note: You may want to reflect upon this teaching and its significance a bit further.



A NISSAN HALLMARK!  One of the hallmarks of Chodesh Nissan and Pesach is its call for Zerizus.  Making sure that one’s home is free of Chometz well in advance of the holiday and making sure that one’s Matzah does not rise well in advance of the time that it could--are key aspects of our Pesach preparations.  Indeed, and almost symbolically, it is fascinating that the Korban Pesach is brought during the day--even though it can only be eaten later that night--and once the time actually comes that we can consume it at nightfall, the short Mitzvah window is only until dawn or even only Chatzos.  It is no small wonder then that the Halachic principle of Zerizin Makdimin LeMitzvos--those who are Zerizim, those who view Mitzvos with energy and enthusiasm, make sure to perform Mitzvos early is actually taught in Mesechta Pesachim (4A)!  Similarly, Chazal teach (in Pesachim 5:7) that although the Torah mandates that the Korban Pesach is to be brought in the Bais Hamikdash in Three Groups--during which time the Group recited the Hallel and repeated it if need be until the entire Group had completed bringing their Karbanos, the last of the Three Groups was always so small that they would never even get up to ‘Ahavti’ (near the beginning of Hallel) and all of the Karbanos were already completed!  Yes, there were supposed to be Three Groups--but the Torah was certainly not requiring YOU to be part of that Third Group.  We may additionally suggest that Chazal especially point out that the Third Group ‘never reached Ahavti’--perhaps symbolizing that their love to HaKadosh Baruch Hu may have been somewhat lacking as demonstrated by their dilatory ways.  We must try to use this Month to act with a true Zerizus standard and yardstick--measuring our Mitzvos by the zeal and dedication by which they are performed.  We note that even though we are permitted to eat Chometz on all other days of the year besides Pesach--there is one Chometz Prohibition that does stay with us the Entire Year.  It is--Mitzvah Haba Leyodecha Al Tachmitzenah--A Mitzvah that Hashem avails you of --don’t let it sit there--don’t let it wait--don’t let it rise--perform it and immediately enjoy its everlasting mark!  Let us begin now with a rededication to prompt and timely Mitzvah Performance--and taste the fresh, tasty and crisp Matzah all year round!



A SPECIAL TEFILLAH! HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl (brought in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim) brings a meaningful Tefillah to be recited before entering the streets around us which do not honor or at least follow the same principles that we have been taught.  This very same Tefillah can in fact be recited when it is necessary for us to turn to the Internet--which in many cases is essentially bringing the streets into your office or home office.  This is the concise and potent Tefillah that he brings:  Hineni Holech Begai Tzalmovess Bemakom Mesukan.  Hoshieini MiYetzerHora U’MaiChatoim U’MaiAvonos, U’Bifrat [specify here any Chait that may be an issue based upon the circumstances]. HaRav Friedlander then suggests that the following Pasuk from Tehillim (119:37) be added:  Ha’avair Einai Mair’os Shav--Bidrachecha Chayeini--Avert my eyes from seeing futility; in Your ways give me life!  Hakhel Note:  Although we have not yet found anyone who has composed a Tefillah Before Internet Use, our solution above based upon HaRav Friedlander may be a good start.  One thing is certain--for one who must use the Internet, Tefillos are definitely in order.  There is no better time to add on this ‘prayer before a search’ than the month of Nissan--in which Tefillah played such a vital role not only in the salvation of an individual--but in the salvation of our entire nation!



4 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, Z’tl, 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.



THIS MONTH ONLY!  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 Yisrael 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!



MAZEL TOV!  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 Yisrael 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 Yisrael 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 for 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.



DISCOVERING CHEIRUS! 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 Teshuvah, 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 maakos 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!


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!



3 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.  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. 



TODAY!  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!



MORE ABOUT TODAY!  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.  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!


ACCORDINGLY, Please help Yad Eliezer provide vouchers for thousands throughout Eretz Yisrael. This year we have a three for one match (up to $300,000 for Avreichim in Kiryat Sefer).  For every dollar you give, Yad Eliezer gets $3!  Please call Mrs. Tropper at 718-258-1580 with your generous [could be tripled!] contribution, or please go to www.yadeliezer.org to donate to the Pesach campaign and please add which matching funds you are choosing in the comments section. 



THE TIME IS UPON US! 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 the following in Hebrew here http://tinyurl.com/2u3l4e  and in English here  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq.  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!



… ON A PERSONAL LEVEL AS WELL! 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!



29 Adar II

 LET US JOIN TOGETHER AS A GROUP AND REACH OUR GOAL!  The Chayei Adam (Chapter 68) teaches that a Mitzvah performed by an individual is absolutely incomparable to a Mitzvah performed by a group together--the Chofetz Chaim similarly writes that when one contributes to a Gemach Fund he has a Chelek in each and every loan given--for EACH AND EVERY CONTRIBUTION IS ESSENTIAL TO THE GEMACH’S EXISTENCE AND ITS ABILITY TO MAKE THE NEXT LOAN! 


Additional Note One:  The Chofetz Chaim writes that one who benefits a Talmid Chochom from his assets is considered as if he is Misdabeik BeShechina--and fulfills the Pasuk of “VeAtem Hadveikim BaHashem Elokeichem Chaim Kulchem HaYom(!)”.  The Chofetz Chaim also writes that one who supports those who study Torah merits that he too will know the Torah that was studied, even if he was ignorant of these Torah topics in this world. The Chofetz Chaim adds that this is pashut, for Gan Eden is based on the Ruchniyus of Torah--and when one is zoche to Gan Eden because of his support, he must be able to benefit from Gan Eden--through the Ruchniyus HaTorah that he has gained!


Additional Note Two:  The Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah provides the following points and pointers relating to Ma’os Chittim (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 429):


A.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that one can utilize his ma’aser money for Ma’os Chittim, and that this is not considered to be paying one’s debts with ma’aser money.  HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that it is a hiddur in the Mitzvah if one provides one in need not only with money for matzos, but for his other needs of the Holiday.  In a similar vein, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach rules that Gabbaim who collect for Ma’os Chittim can use the money not only for all food needs--but for clothing for the Holiday as well. 


B.  The Mishnas Ya’avetz (Orach Chaim 7) rules that if one does not have enough funds of his own, he should borrow money in order to give Ma’os Chittim--even though he is otherwise exempt from giving Tzedakah.  The reason for this is that in addition to Tzedakah, one fulfills a separate Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov--causing others to rejoice on Yom Tov.  As the Rambam (Hilchos Yom Tov 6:17-18) emphatically rules: one who does not give to the destitute and is mesameiach his family does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov--but instead “fulfills the Simcha of his stomach”.  Because the Mitzvah of giving Ma’os Chittim is inextricably bound to Simchas Yom Tov, continues the Mishnas Ya’avetz, the Shulchan Aruch records it not in Hilchos Tzedakah--but in Hilchos Pesach itself!



BITACHON:  As we proceed through this great Bitachon-filled period of Bein Purim L’Pesach, we provide the following important two (2) thoughts from the Ohr Avigdor Sha’ar HaBitachon (a translation and commentary on Sha’ar HaBitachon by Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Z’tl):


A. It is important to notice that the man with bitachon does not live any differently from the man without bitachon. They are both working at their jobs. Both people are sitting at their desks and both are making a living, or trying to make a living. So superficially, you see no difference between them. The only difference is in their minds. Of course, if you know them well you will know that one of the two men is always cheerful and the other is not. He replaces a smiling face with a scowling face. The reason for that is the fundamental difference in attitude between the two men.


B. If one is a tailor, he is serving the world by supplying its people with clothing; that is what Hashem wants. If he is a grocer or a baker, he is supplying the world with food. If he is in real estate, he is supplying people with apartments and homes. He is doing all this because Hashem commanded him to do it. So whatever he is doing for his livelihood, he should consider it a service of Hashem and not because he relies on his work to support him or help him. Hashem is the One who gives him all of the help that he needs, but he is doing things out of service to Hashem.



PARASHAS HACHODESH: Tomorrow is one of the most renowned days in the Torah, as we will lein tomorrow, in Parashas HaChodesh, 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 Parashios of the Torah were taught to K’lal Yisrael on this specific day (See Gittin 60A).


The Navi in Yechezkel (45:18) teaches that on ROSH CHODESH NISSAN 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 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.


Tomorrow’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 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!


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 Rosh Chodesh 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!


Hakhel Note: We were alerted to Chazal (Shabbos 147B) who teach that because he spent some time away from his regular Torah studies, Rebbi Elazar Ben Arach, the great student of Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai, was unable to read “HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem” (the beginning of Parashas HaChodesh) properly--and instead read it as “Hachreish Hayah Libam” (their heart was deafened). The lesson to us is clear: For the next two weeks, our Torah study will be placed at a great test--we will be tempted on many occasions to forgo or curtail our regular Keviyus Ittim LaTorah, our regular Torah accomplishments, our regular chavrusos. Chazal are teaching us that we must remember that it is HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem--a very special month coming up--but marked by a dedicated commitment and resilience to Torah study in the face of difficulties and challenges. We have to prove that for us--we want to make it HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem! If one needs guidance, he should speak to his Rav or Posek!



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to present pertinent rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to Hilchos Pesach, as excerpted from the monumental Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Orach Chaim, Volume III). Of course, one must consult with his own Rav or Posek for a final p’sak as to how he should conduct himself in a specific situation:




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


2.      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. Hakhel Note: This p’sak is especially pertinent this year, as the first day of Pesach is Shabbos.


3.      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.


4.      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.] 


5.      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….”


6.      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.


7.      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.


8.      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”.


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





The following is excerpted from Zemiros Shabbos, by HaRav Tzvi Yavrov, Shlita, which provides insights of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, into various aspects of Shabbos:


1. L’Halacha, one may recite Hashem’s name when singing Zemiros on Shabbos, as when one thanks Hashem it is not considered to be using Hashem’s name in vain (see Sefer Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim 137:5 d’h kasav). The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, however, did not do so.


2. The reason that the songs we sing on Shabbos are not called Shiros or Sishbachos, but Zemiros is because Dovid HaMelech (actually, originally, Adam HaRishon) exclaimed: “Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos”!


3. Hashem completed the world on Shabbos and thus ruled over it. It is for this reason that the Zohar refers to Seudas Shabbos as Seudasah D’Malka (Zohar, Bamidbar 179). Accordingly, we find the concept of Malchiyos in our Shabbos Tefillos--the many references to Malchus in Kabbalas Shabbos, Yismechu V’Malchusecha, Vesimloch Aleinu (in Kedusha), and the Pesukim of Malchiyos recited before taking out the Torah. Hakhel Note: Additionally, the Mishna Berurah writes that one should stand in Pesukei D’Zimra when reciting “Hashem Melech, Hashem Malacha, Hashem Yimloch L’Olam Va’ed!”


4. The basis for the custom of parents blessing their children on Shabbos is that Shabbos itself is a Siman Bracha (see S’T Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim 23 and Siddur Ya’avetz).


5. Shabbos is referred to as a chok (‘Sham Sam Lo Chok U’Mishpat) even though the Torah explains the reason for its observance--Hashem’s completion of the world. Nevertheless, it is a chok because it is so chamur, that its violation is compared to worshipping idols. Moreover, we must be careful of any thoughts which could dampen the Shabbos spirit.


6. The bracha of Kiddush is not a Birchas HaMitzvah, but is a Bracha of Shevach. It is for this reason that we do not say B’Mitzvosav V’Tzivanu, but B’Mitzvosav V’Ratzah Vanu.


7. On Shabbos, many recite Tehillim 23--Mizmor L’Dovid Hashem Ro’ee Lo Echsar. The reason that this is a custom is because although akum lack the ‘taste’ of Shabbos and its foods--as is evidenced by the ma’aseh with Rebbi Yehudah HaNassi and Antoninus--we lack nothing!


8. In bentsching we recite Retzei V’Hachalitzeinu. HaRav Kanievsky explains that the simple meaning of V’Hachalitzeinu is strengthen us--we ask Hashem to give us the ability to properly observe and perform all of the Mitzvos of Shabbos.


9. Also in Retzei, we ask Hashem to show us Nechemas Tzion Irecha. The Sefer Avudraham writes that Nechemas Tzion will occur on Shabbos. HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, adds that according to the Yerushalmi if K’lal Yisrael observed only one Shabbos we would be immediately redeemed--and this really means immediately--on Motza’ei Shabbos!


10. HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, also teaches that we conclude Retzei with a Tefillah for Geulah and the acknowledgement that Hashem can remove all of our anguish and bring us Yeshuos--for Hashem’s powers extend beyond the Shabbos and into the coming week--and the entire future ahead!





A.  We learn of the terrible affliction of Tzora’as. Chazal (Arachin 15B) teach that if one speaks Lashon Hara, he will be punished with this dreaded ailment. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked whether the Lo Sa’aseh of Hishamer B’negah Tzara’as, still applies to Lashon Hara in our times--after all, no Kohen will pronounce any person tamei. HaRav Kanievsky answered that this negative prohibition does not require a declaration of tumah for the prohibition to exist. Tza’aras could exist, but for the fact that we lack the qualified Kohen to pronounce it. It is for this reason that the Chofetz Chaim counts Hishamer B’negah Tza’aras as a prohibition applicable to Lashon Hara--even in our day.


B. In a different vein, the Sefer Me’am Loez asks why it is that in our times we see people speak Lashon Hara--and yet they appear whole and healthy? He provides the following shocking response: “You should know that the Tzora’as referred to in the Torah could either afflict a person’s body or soul, and if it does not afflict his body, it will afflict his soul. Indeed, the Tzora’as of the soul is worse than the Tzora’as of the body, as the Zohar writes that in the Heavens there is a special place called ‘Negah Tzara’as’, where the Neshamos who spoke Lashon Hara are punished.”


C.  HaRav Refeol Shain, Z’tl, provides the following insight: Why is it that a metzora becomes tamei only upon the pronouncement of a Kohen who views the blemish —after all, it may have been days or weeks for which a person was afflicted with the blemish prior to the Kohen seeing it—and for this entire period he is Tahor and can be with his family and not be considered ‘defiled or ‘defiling’ just because a Kohen didn’t utter the word ‘tamei.’ Rabbi Shain explains that a key cause of Tzora’as is Lashon Hara. With the pronouncement of the word “tamei’, the person is made to understand the power of just one word. Before the utterance of that word, his entire world was different one—a happy one, with friends and family, joined together with his community and able to reach the highest heights. Now, as a metzora, he is ostracized and alone, ashamed and secluded. That one word of the Kohen was in response to perhaps that ‘just one word’ he had uttered against his friend or neighbor, adult or child. Until his utterance of that one negative word, the world was different for someone else—and with the word uttered, his reputation has been tarnished, a shidduch ruined, a business deal suspended, or a friendship ended. We can create and destroy existential worlds—depending on that one word that we use. So, will it be “Uhh!” or “Ahh!” The bechira chofshis—that choice—is yours!


D.  Rav Nachman MBreslov is said to have taught: Children learn how to speak, while the elderly learn how to remain silent. Who should we better learn from--the children or the elderly?!  Chazal teach:  “Yofeh Shesika Lechachomim Kal Vechomer Letipshim--silence is beautiful for the wise all the more so for the unwise. As we take lessons from the Parasha of Tazria, we should do so with an uplifted sense of our power of speech--oh, how it is important to use in many situations--and how important it is to refrain from using in many situations.  This is the perfect time to practice circumspection and judiciousness in our speech, particularly with people who one has fallen prey to forbidden speech within the past.  In our times, we have an additional mode of terms and phrases which may not constitute Ona’as Devarim against others, but could be hurtful to the individual himself, simply by virtue of uttering the very words. It is well known (as we have previously published) that HaRav Pam, Z’tl, objected to use of ‘whatchamacallit’, because it indicated that a person was not thinking before he spoke. There are other terms as well which simply do not take into account the Kedushas HaPeh that we all possess. Here are just a very few. Please feel free to add on to the list (and send to us, if you would like):


        “I have done this a thousand trillion times.”--Although exaggeration may be permitted in general, the notion of a gross untruth could have a significantly negative impact on the person as a whole--especially if it becomes a habit.


        In order to express frustration or difficulty, uttering a word which has the first syllable which is identical to that of a curse word.


        “I know someone who is filthy rich”--what, after all, does ‘filthy rich’ mean--is one also ‘filthy poor’?  Isn’t it up to Hashem whether one is wealthy or poor--for whatever reason (whether it be a reward, test, etc.)--how could anyone refer to that r’l as filthy?


        “I don’t care”--Even when not uttered to hurt another person, it can have an impact on a person’s attitude, goals or approach.


HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, (brought in the Sefer Sha’ari Orah) teaches that one should practice silence for a few minutes every day--the result is getting a better handle on one’s speech, and improving Yiras Shomayim-- through one’s awareness that one’s words are listened to--and do really mean something and count.


E.  TAKING THE TIME FOR THE EXTRA SHEMIRA:  A CONCLUDING THOUGHT.  After having STUDIED THE LESSONS of the Parasha of Tazria, we realize that Shemiras Halashon must play an essential part in our lives, and that we must always endeavor and strive for improvement in this area. For all those who study the daily two Halachos, or any other daily Shemiras Halashon Sefer--may we once again suggest reading the daily study aloud even to yourself (it can be softly!) and/or perhaps re-reading the lesson a second time--so that you demonstrate affirmatively that you want to use your mouth for the right reasons and in the right way!  We welcome any suggestions you may have as to how to strengthen others in Shemiras HaLashon. We also remind our readers about the outstanding resource known as the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s  Shemiras Halashon Shaila Hotline--718-951-3696 (M-Th nights and Motzei Shabbos 9-10:30 pm EST, and for emergencies)--where you can ask expert Poskim your Shemiras Halashon Shailos in the situation (business, shidduchim, friends) that you find yourself in.  What an opportunity to make sure that you do the right thing for all concerned!



A GOAL FOR SUNDAY:   The Nasi whose portion we read on 2 Nissan, 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.



28 Adar II

TODAY--FOR ALL:  We provide a Tefillah Al HaParnassah Mimamon Kasher, which the Shelah HaKadosh writes should be recited before Rosh Chodesh Nissan.  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TefillaAlHaParnassa.pdf


Hakhel Note:  Especially Yom Kippur Koton--today, which serves as a portal from the last month of the year to the first-- Nissan--we should include a special level of Teshuva and Tefillah into our day!



IT IS THE PRAISE THAT COUNTS! The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 112, seif katan 2) teaches that in the first three brachos of Shemone Esrei we give praise to Hashem, in the middle brachos we make our requests, and that the last three brachos are recited for one having received gifts--praising Hashem for all of His beneficence.



QUESTION OF THE DAY: Which Mishna in Mesechta Pesachim deals with the very issue which we have this year--the Leil HaSeder falling out on Leil Shabbos? Hint: Let us hope that we will witness its implementation for this Pesach!



WOMEN PREPARE!  This Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh Nissan is very, very special—especially for women. The Daas Zekainim MiBaalei Tosfos (Shemos 35:24) writes that the reason women were given Rosh Chodesh as a special day for them (to treat it as a Yom Tov-- not to do certain work—see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 417) is because they were ‘semaichos u’zehiros’—happy and careful –to donate their jewelry to the Mishkan, whereas their jewelry had to be taken from them against their will for the Eigel HaZahav.  Tosfos notes that the effect of their donations was noticed on this Rosh Chodesh--Rosh Chodesh Nissan—when the Mishkan was established, and that all of the other Rosh Chodoshim of the year are given to women as a Yom Tov because of Rosh Chodesh Nissan. So, especially this coming Rosh Chodesh—plan on making it a special day!



AN ENLIGHTENING TIME! The following is based on a Shiur given by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, (Mattisyahu Chaim Ben Ettel L’Refuah Sheleimah) which we once again provide to enlighten and uplift our readers:


Rabbeinu Yonah in the Shaarei Teshuvah (2:5) writes that a Botei’ach BaShem--one who trusts in Hashem--who is in the midst of a t’zara, a difficulty, or even only a challenge, must view the situation differently than the millions of people surrounding him.


The Pasuk in Micha (7:8) as explained in Midrash Tehillim (22) teaches, “If I had not fallen, I could not now stand, if I had not sat in darkness, I would not now have light.”  The common perception that one “passes through”, “recovers”, “rebounds” or “survives” his suffering is foreign to the one who truly trusts in Hashem.  Rather, the one who trusts views his suffering as an opportunity ordained by G-d--only FROM THE FALL comes the rise, only FROM THE DARKNESS comes the light.


It is not the Ribono Shel Olam pushing him down, letting go, making it difficult for him--it is a fall created by Hashem Himself to enable him to rise, a pervasive darkness required in order to attain true light.


HaRav Salomon explains that the Botei’ach BaShem does not say “Hashem will get me out of this” or “There is a light at the end of this tunnel.”  Instead, he acknowledges and understands that the purpose of the tunnel is for him to arrive at the light.  One must, as a given, acknowledge and understand that the All-Knowing, All-Present, Creator and Supervisor has intentionally designed the process by which one can attain the goals he is to reach in his lifetime.  The trials, tribulations, and difficulties are not established out of cruelty, disdain or indifference, but arise because He, in His Omniscience, knows (infinitely more than us) who are we are really and what we really need.


In this elevated period between Purim and Pesach, we can understand this lesson both on an individual and a communal level.


Esther, a descendent of royalty, wife of a leader of the generation, and a Neviah in her own right, is forced to live in the most repulsive place imaginable, away from her family and her people--in a literal prison without walls--for nine (9) long years, without any seeming rhyme or reason.  What had she done?!  Can we fathom what her suffering could have been?  What emerged was the saving of all of K’lal Yisrael, and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash as a direct result of the few discussions she had with Achashveirosh, as recorded in the Megillah.


Similarly, in Mitzrayim, hundreds of thousands of B’nei Yisrael suffered from “Avodas Perech”--in all its definitions, systematic torture--for scores of years.  What went wrong?  How did all this happen?  And the Torah supplies a two-word answer--[We were placed in Mitzrayim as a] “KUR HABARZEL”--a smith’s oven, used to refine metal.  Why were they there under these horrific conditions?  So that K’lal Yisrael would survive and thrive from then on and through the Mashiach’s times and forever thereafter.


HaRav Salomon points to the wine we drink on both Purim and Pesach.  Why is wine so crucial on these special days and why is wine the only food over which we recite the brocha “Hatov V’HaMativ”--Hashem is good and does good? If we study the wine-making process, we note that luscious, edible grapes are stomped on or crushed before they would otherwise have been eaten.  Then, instead of drinking the resulting liquid, we watch in amazement as it ferments and becomes moldy and terrible tasting.  Are these people sadistic--spoiling such good grapes?  But then--after the wine ages and matures, it is filtered and what is produced is not a thirst-quencher, but an honorable beverage, which lifts up a person’s spirits.


To the Botei’ach BaShem, Rav Salomon continues, this is a microcosm of the Ribono Shel Olam’s Hanhaga--behavior--in this world.  Without the fermentation process--without the years of repulsive mold which seems irreversible--we could not have the brand, kind and taste of wine which a connoisseur could appreciate and savor.  We can now understand why we make “Hatov V’HaMativ” specifically on wine--because we realize that the process was necessary and intended by the world’s Creator and we acknowledge that it is for good--notwithstanding our original misconceptions.  The cup of wine that we drink has gone through an entire process and represents how we are to understand the Hashgachas Hashem in our world.


As we go through these days of Purim to Pesach, a time that is surrounded by intense suffering that led to sparkling redemption--as symbolized by the wine of which we partake--we, too, should become connoisseurs and remember that Hashem will take us out of all of our current t’zaros, individual and collective, just as the horribly soured wine is ultimately whiffed and savored by the most discerning of experts.  We can perhaps do this best through constantly reminding ourselves of Hashem’s Hashgacha in our everyday lives--to the smallest detail--and our Bitachon can be especially reinforced by the dedicated way in which we recite our brachos--no matter how harried, time-pressured or distracted one may otherwise be!



HILCHOS PESACH: 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.      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.


8.       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.


9.      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


10. 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.]



27 Adar II

MORE ON VOWS: The following is excerpted from the outstanding work Journey to Virtue (Artscroll) by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita, a great handbook and guidebook-truly a necessity for every home:


Any statement of intention to learn Torah or perform a mitzvah has a force similar to a vow and one is required to fulfill what he has stated, unless he specifies that his commitment is bli neder.


o I will learn this chapter of Mishnah.

o I will get up to daven in the first minyan.

o I will host these guests for Shabbos.

o I will attend your wedding.


However, any statement that is not a mitzvah does not have to be fulfilled.

There are people who mistakenly say bli neder indiscriminately.

o I will go shopping.

o I will go on vacation.

o1 will cook this.


However, the following statements do have to be fulfilled:


o I will go shopping for you (a person who needs the help).

o I will make you a meal (the recipient is a guest or is ill, or is in

need of help).


If the mitzvah was intended to help someone, and that individual waives the favor, one need not take any further action.


Mrs. A to Mrs. B (who is ill): Im sending you a meal.

Mrs. B: Thanks.

 Later, Mrs. B calls: My mother came and cooked supper, so I don’t need your help today. Thanks for the offer! Mrs. A has no further obligation.



FROM A READER: “A friend of mine, was doing some early Pesach cooking, when she noticed in TINY letters the following statement: Kosher for Passover for people who use Kitniyos. Please remind your readership to be careful what they purchase.”



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. Although one should not interrupt the bedika, if one needs to take care of his bodily functions during Bedikas Chometz, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that he recites an Asher Yatzar. HaRav Wosner, y’blcht, adds that one can even answer Amen and Baruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo to the brachos of others, and make brachos over thunder and lightning as well. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 443, Dirshu Note 8)


B.  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.


C.  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! 


D. 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.).



ON THE FOURTH YAHRZEIT OF HARAV SCHEINBERG (CHAIM PINCHOS B’R’ YAAKOV YITZCHOK), Z’TL: The magnitude of HaRav Scheinberg, Z’tl’s gadlus is hard for us to comprehend.  His Ahavas Hashem, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Yisrael were nothing short of awe-inspiring.  His being, his essence, was Ahava.  Who can forget how he answered shailos to those lined up waiting to see him as if each sho’el was his son or grandson?  And how he especially urged his students to ‘give Tzedaka!’ in order to achieve Kapara for chait!  We recall how he would urge people to learn just a little more every day...for time was one’s most valuable possession and must accordingly be used most wisely. Rav Scheinberg was once asked if he could provide “hadracha”, or guidance, in how one could better study Torah.  He provided a two-word response: “Learn more.” Rav Scheinberg once told a parent who had requested that he give his son a bracha that he become a Talmid Chacham--that he would give him the bracha, provided that the son committed to learn an additional five minutes per day!


  We provide the following excerpts from the The Torah Home, by Rabbi Shlomo Furst, Shlita, based on the Shiurim of Rav Scheinberg, Z’tl. To obtain the full, original English version and the Hebrew translation--and other books in Rabbi Furst’s Torah Way of Life series containing Rav Scheinberg’s teachings, please call: 972-2-500-4682:


A. Sechel.


Our lives are precious. Therefore, people who are concerned train themselves to follow their sechel. We cannot ignore our emotions--but we can direct them. The emotions can become submissive to the sechel. Then they will be manageable, instead of assertive. Individuals who are successful with their sechel will not become angry or infuriated. They are settled and calm. Tranquility is the prevailing characteristic of their personalities.


There is something more. We have essential and undeniable physical needs. Life would be impossible without them. We must eat, drink and sleep. People must populate the world. These things are all true and appropriate. Nevertheless, thought, control and moderation must govern every physical act we do. The influence of Torah elevates us beyond the need for pleasure. Indulgence, the thoughtless pursuit of every whim, will not bring satisfaction. When our sense of priorities is wrong, an inner conflict will rage between an unquenchable need for physical gratification and the unfulfilled aspirations of the neshama.


Most of us want to be good. Nevertheless, the best of us can fall prey to daily stresses, fatigue and frustration. The sechel is certainly influenced by the body and its physical needs. Nevertheless, the more we fortify our sechel with Torah, the less vulnerable we will be to the influence of our emotions. Counterproductive emotions, especially anger, flourish best under stressful conditions.


The best response to a situation where anger has gained control is to remain silent. Try not to react. Instead, maintain your own composure. Be tolerant, for most good-natured people, although temporarily enraged, will surely come to their senses and snap out of it. We must realize and value the importance of sechel. We must behave like mature people and control the urge to vent our anger.


Self-control is vital for creating and maintaining a healthy marriage and relationships. If our sechel is so undeveloped and therefore weak and we cannot resist a momentary upset, we will make many mistakes. We will have many regrets.


Under the influence of anger or frustration, spouses may make many hurtful statements. It is difficult to retract such harmful words. We have to be sensible enough to evaluate our loss against what we gain. Thoughtless outbursts of anger are destructive. Under all circumstances, whether we are provoked from within or from without, we must remain silent. To remain silent is very difficult, but the reward for holding back angry words of retort and revenge is very great. If we exercise control over ourselves, we will feel wonderful over our success and our marriage and relationships will flourish.


B. Menuchas HaNefesh.


Guided by sechel--clear and balanced thinking--we will fulfill the purpose of our lives. We will achieve ‘ashrecha v’tov lach’ (Tehillim 128:2). We will have menuchas hanefesh. We all desire and value shalom. Nevertheless, shalom is an elusive reality. We generally think of peace as being the lack of conflict among people. This definition, however, does not indicate the need for menuchas hanefesh.


Shalom is truly the result of personal, inner peace. We must achieve peace between our inner drives and motivations before shalom can be expected to flourish among people. We must be happy with ourselves before we can be happy with others. Shalom begins with us. The more menuchas hanefesh we have, the more we will be able to be calm in our homes and supportive to our families. If we have menuchas hanefesh, then even in the fact of daily challenges and ordeals, the quality of our home lives will be peaceful. Bickering is an outward expression of the lack of personal shleimus. It is a lack of menuchas hanefesh that leads to discord within the home. Our inner, spiritual life affects our behavior. The home is a place where we think we can be ‘ourselves’. Nothing can be further from the truth. At home, we have to be better than ourselves. We may be angered much more easily and lose our control at home. If we lack education and training about how to manage our emotions, wherever we may be--including the home, then this battle ranges throughout life. If we are at peace with ourselves--at all times--we can help bring peace to our families, our friends--and the world!



26 Adar II

YOUR TEFILLAH IS NOT TOO SMALL! The Mesilas Yeshorim (end of Chapter 19) writes that one should never say about himself “Who am I that my Tefillos should be answered to bring an end to this Galus?” Instead, one should daven for the Geulah with Kavannah, for it may be your very Tefillah that brings the Geulah. Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl, in Shearim B’Tefilah (p. 94) in fact writes that Tefillah does not change nature or create miracles. Tefillah is simply the natural manner of modifying nature, built into creation in the same manner as grass, trees, fish and animals. Hakhel Note: This is already the time of Geulah--let’s try to daven to our utmost to make it happen--now!



REMINDER REGARDING VOWS: The following is excerpted from the outstanding work Journey to Virtue (Artscroll) by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita, a great handbook and guidebook-truly a necessity for every home:


The wisest policy is never to make vows of any kind so as not to risk violating a serious transgression by failing to fulfill them Therefore, if possible, one should not commit oneself to give; one should simply give. However, in a public gathering where each person is asked to pledge a certain amount, one should join in the public mitzvah. Nevertheless, he should still be careful to avoid vows by stating explicitly that his pledge is bli neder (i.e., does not have the force of a vow). In such a situation, even though one does not actually verbalize a commitment, he still receives a reward for the statement since he joined the public mitzvah and encouraged others to pledge as well.


Chazal taught: If a person says he will give, and then he gives, he receives reward for the words and reward for the deed. If he didnt say he will give, but he tells others to give, he will be rewarded for those words. Even if he doesnt tell others to give, but he mollifies the impoverished with words he will be rewarded, because the Pasuk says (Devarim 10:15), For because of this davar (literally thing, but also explained to mean dibbur - words), Hashem will bless you.” (We learn that Hashem rewards words of tzedakah or any mitzvah, and it is therefore proper to say I will do a mitzvah.” However, in order to avoid a vow one should say he will do it bli neder” (without any force of a vow).



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 (Orach Chayim 436, seif katan 32) provides the following ruling to us for these days before Pesach:  “Kol Shloshim Yom Tzorich LeAyein Bechol Davar She'oseh She'lo Yishar Bo Chometz Be'ofen She'lo Yuchal Lehasiro BeKal--during the thirty days before Pesach one must be sure in everything that he does not to leave Chometz over in a way which in which it will be difficult to remove or dispose of”--the Housewife's Vigilance is rooted deeply and firmly in the words of the Mishna Berurah!


B. What is gebrukt--L’Halacha? The following is culled from the excellent and need-to-have Sefer Halachos of Pesach (Feldheim), by Rabbi Shimon D. Eider, Z’tl:


1. Where matzah in any form (e.g. matzah meal, cake meal) came in contact with water [or other liquids], some communities have a minhag not to eat it on the first seven days of Pesach. Yet, we know that once matzah was baked, it cannot become chometz again. What then is the reason for this minhag? The Knesses HaGedolah explains that it was made as a gezeirah, that one should not, in error, come to use flour instead of matzah meal during Pesach. Another reason mentioned is that there is a possibility that some of the matzah flour was not kneaded well and when it will get wet it will become Chometz. Since the last day of Pesach is MiD’Rabanan, many of those who accepted this minhag did not accept it for the last day of Pesach because of Simchas Yom Tov.


2. Can one change his minhag? Since gebrukt is not considered in halacha as chometz and this minhag was not accepted by most communities, there are Poskim who hold that in case of necessity one may change his minhag. However, a Rav should be consulted as to whether Hataras Nedarim is required. A woman, upon marriage, assumes the minhag of her husband (see Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim I: 158 and III:64).


C. Annual Essential Hakhel Alert: As the saying goes, a fool learns from his own mistakes--a wise person learns from the mistakes of others! When one notices two or three Hashgachos on a product--one should look to make sure that the Hashgacha that he is relying upon is actually certifying it for Pesach near its insignia.  Unless the ‘Kosher L’Pesach’ insignia is next to the Hashgacha’s name--it does not mean that the Hashgacha is certifying the product as Kosher L’Pesach. An extra moment of purchasing caution--can save hours of kashering issues  (or at least moments of consternation or concern) later!  Chazal teach Aizehu Chacham HaRo'eh Es HaNolad--the wise person looks into his actions and understands their ramifications.  We will be reading about the Chacham on the Leil HaSeder--let's start practicing now!



THOUGHTS ON THE LAST WEEK OF ADAR: The following thoughts of HaRav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel, Z’tl, are presented in the Sefer Leket Reshimos, and provide timely lessons for us in this last week of Adar:


A. HaRav Wachtfogel brings Chazal (Ta’anis 20A) who teach that Nakdimon Ben Gurion asked Hashem “Hodah Sheyeish Lecha Ahuvim BeOlamecha--Hashem show that You have beloved ones below and please do not allow daytime to turn into night--so that I can pay back the debt of water that I owe to the Roman.” Hashem listened to his Tefillah--and the sun remained standing. Nakdimon was not Moshe Rabbeinu, nor was he Yehoshua Bin Nun. We do not even find that he was among the Gedolei HaDor. Rather, he came to Hashem with Emunah Peshutah and poured out his heart before Him. We may sometimes wonder--in comparison to previous generations, how will we merit the Moshiach? The explanation is--when we realize that our relationship is only with Him, and that no one else can help, we too will cry out: “Hodah Sheyeish Lecha Ahuvim BeOlamecha--Hashem show that You have beloved ones below!Hakhel Note: HaRav Wachtfogel would speak often of the Moshiach, and urged his students to speak to others about the Moshiach coming, and to be misbonein in it.


B. On one of his visits to the Chofetz Chaim, HaRav Wachtfogel heard a Yesod Gadol: “One has to work and toil on his own--and that is what will help him in life.” HaRav Wachtfogel once instructed a student to go to sleep reflecting on the Pasuk (Yeshaya 11:2): “VeNacha Alav Ruach Hashem, Ruach Chochma U’Vina, Ruach Eitzah U’Gevurah, Ruach Da’as V’Yiras Hashem.” HaRav Wachtfogel would do so himself and relates that the next morning upon awakening there were times that he would find himself reciting the Pasuk.


C. According to Hashem’s laws of nature, only thorns and thistles and the like grow by themselves with no nurture and care. Likewise, no act of Torah Lishma or Mitzvah Lishma comes by itself, without toil and effort. No person becomes a Tzaddik without recognizing that he has a shelichus in life--personal directions and goals, which he must work on to achieve. One can get distracted by the many needs and events of life and constantly mix-up the ikar and the tafel. One must stay focused--his purpose in life is the ikar, and everything else is tafel. Accordingly, one must be clear as to what his purpose in life truly is.


D. If a person does not seek out the Hashgacha Pratis in his life--he will not find it, but if he does seek it--he will see it quickly, and continuously.


E. Chazal (Shabbos 31A) teach that the first question that a person is asked after 120 years is if he set aside set times for Torah study. HaRav Wachtfogel points out that a person is not asked--Did you become a lamdan? Did you become great...? He is asked whether he recognized the importance of Torah--by acknowledging that he dedicatedly kept designated times for its study. This is the key--to hold high the honor of the Torah and the honor of Who gave it to us.


F. As we continue through the period of Simcha in Adar, we must realize that the Kavannah of Simchas Adar is not to drink a ‘Lechaim’ every day--but to increase our Simcha in our learning and in our davening--even in the reciting of our Tehillim. HaRav Wachtfogel would say: “BeTefillah Mitoch Simcha Efshar Lishbor Es Kol HaGezeiros--with joyful Tefillah one can break all the decrees!”


G. The great lesson we are to bring with us from Purim through the rest of the year is our unity with the rest of K’lal Yisrael--as is evidenced by the Mitzvos of Purim day. Purim teaches us that when we give to a brother it is not just ‘Tzedakah’, but is Matanos L’evyonim--gifts to our brothers. We may think of the Mashal of a king with two sons--one who becomes the king in a neighboring country--and the other who becomes a working man. When the king makes a Simcha--they both come back, and both sit at the king’s table--for after all, they are brothers! Hakhel Note: Likewise, the monies that we give before Pesach are not called Tzedakah--but Ma’os Chitim--money for wheat--this time not even gifts to our brother--but simply handing over money (from our Father) to him!



25 Adar II

FOREVER!  The following extremely meaningful quote is excerpted from Questions You Thought We Were Afraid You’d Ask, by R’ Moshe Speiser (Targum Press): “The concept of forever is amazing, if one thinks about it.  If one would receive a penny a day, forever, there would not be enough money in the world to cover it. If every win and loss [against the Yetzer] affects us for eternity, it sounds like there is an awful lot at stake here!”



ARE YOUR NON-COMPETE AND LOAN DOCUMENTS HALACHICALLY VALID? WILL THEY BE UPHELD IN BAIS DIN? For more information please speak to your Rav, or you may contact our Business Services Division at 718-233-3845 or email ask@businesshalacha.com .



SPENDING PERSONAL MOMENTS TO DAVEN FOR THE GEULAH SHELEIMAH: Four years ago today, the horrific massacre in Toulouse in which Rabbi Yonasan Refoel Sandler, Z’tl, his two sons, and a young girl, Miriam Monsonego were murdered, H’YD.  The pain of galus moves on and on--time passes, but the searing pain is remembered and we beg Hashem to avenge each and every suffering.  The Sefer Sifsei Chachomim on Mesechta Megillah brings a comforting Pasuk (Yeshayahu 65:16): Ki Nishkechu HaTzaros Harishonos Ki Nistaru Mai’ainai--for the earlier travails will have been forgotten.... Remembrance of all of the tzaros we experienced in galus will be expunged in the bliss of the final Geulah.  With this thought in mind, how can we not daven with special zeal every day for the Geulah Sheleima to come once and for all--today?!  When it does come--and it will--perhaps your Tefillos that day will be instrumental in its coming--with all the tzaros gone, and all the joy to begin, and you as an important part in its coming!



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:


Almost everyone purchases some kind of new utensil before Pesach. Accordingly, in order to give you plenty of time, we once again provide the Hakhel Tevilas Keilim Guidelines (reviewed By HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl).   Please note that Tevilas Keilim is an obligation (chiyuv), and if not done properly, a k’li may not be used until toveled correctly.


General Tevila Reminders:


A. All chatzitzos (i.e., dirt, glue and stickers or other items or markings not part of the k’li which neither the owner nor most people would use with this item on the k’li) must be removed prior to submersion.


B. The entire k’li (even if oversized) must be fully submerged all at once (not one-half first, then the other half immediately thereafter).


C. Do not hold the k’li tightly, so that the mikva water can reach everywhere. You can tovel the k’li by moving your hand to another part of the k’li while holding it below the water level; or you can dip your hand in the mikva first, and then take hold of the k’li and submerge it in the mikva.


D. All keilim should be submerged right side up or on a slant, but not upside down, so that no air is trapped in the utensil.


E. Submersion must be supervised only by an individual over bar/bas mitzvah. A child may be tovel keilim if an adult sees him do it.


F. Using baskets:


1. Items should be placed in the basket side by side and not on top of each other.


2. The basket may be submerged in water, and then you may drop utensils into the basket, so that each utensil is surrounded by water as it falls in.


G. The Bracha:


1. Brachos are made for metal and glass utensils only.


2. “Al Tevilas Keli” for one item, “Al Tevilas Keilim” for more than one item.


3. Hold the k’li in your hand (or basket) and be ready to tovel immediately after making the bracha.


4. When toveling storage utensils or utensils which come into contact with the food while it is not yet edible, no bracha is made.


Hakhel Note: Tevilas Keilim is such a basic, beautiful and simple Mitzvah to perform--let us 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!



KASHRUS--A PRACTICAL APPLICATION FOR ONE AND ALL! As we study the Parasha of Kashrus, as we review the animals that serve man in different ways, we recall the words of the Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 3): “One’s compassion should extend to all creatures, and he should neither despise nor destroy them, for the Chochmah HaElyona extends to all of creation, inanimate objects, plants, animals, and humans. For this reason, our sages have warned us against treating food disrespectfully. Just as the Chochmah HaElyona despises nothing, since everything is created from there - as the Pasuk states, “You have made them all with Chochmah” (Tehillim 104:24), a person should show compassion to all the works of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. This is why Rebbi Yehudah HaNassi was punished when he had no pity on a calf that tried to evade slaughter by hiding behind him, and he said to it, “Go! For this purpose, you were created.” Had he shown mercy, he would have been protected from suffering, which emanates from din. Instead. he was forced to undergo suffering. Then, when he later had mercy on a weasel, quoting the pasuk: “VeRachamav Ahl Kol Ma’asav…His mercies extend to all His deeds (Tehillim 145:9), he was spared from further suffering. Similarly, one should not disparage any creature, for all of them were created with Chochmah. Nor should one uproot plants unless they are needed or kill animals unless they are needed. And one should choose a noble death for them, using a carefully inspected knife, in order to maximize his compassion. This is the general principle: Having pity on all beings and not hurting them demonstrates Chochmah. However, if one intends to raise them higher and higher from plant to animal, and from animal to human - then it is permissible to uproot a plant and slaughter an animal, taking away from them in order to benefit them. “



THE WORLD’S CREATION AND US! There is a disagreement between Rebbi Yehoshua and Rebbi Eliezer as to the date on the calendar upon which man was created.  Tosfos explains that according to Rebbi Yehoshua, who holds that man was created on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, it would mean that the first day of Ma’aseh Bereishis--the day the world began--is today, the 25th of Adar!  What a great day it is to start something new.  A new Mitzvah, a new project, a new goal, a new accomplishment.  Each and every one of us has the ability to--and should strive to do so.  In this regard, we provide the following insights--from Dovid HaMelech himself in the extremely poignant and instructive Chapter 119 of Tehillim:


A.  Dovid exclaims (Tehillim 119:164):  ’Sheva Bayom Hillalticha Ahl Mishpetei Tzidkecha...Seven Times a Day I have praised You for Your righteous ordinances’.  Rashi (ibid.) explains that these seven times are in fact the seven Brachos that we recite every day which relate directly to Kriyas Shema--three Brachos in Shacharis (two before Kriyas Shema and one after), and four Brachos in Ma’ariv (two before Kriyas Shema and two after).  What a great new goal it would be if we would especially recognize the tremendous importance and significance of these Brachos--rather than viewing them only as portals to Kriyas Shema or Shemone Esrei--and put some real Kavannah into their recitation.  Seven focused Brachos a day--revolving around our fundamental daily Kriyas Shema--truly a phenomenal accomplishment.  Dovid Hamelech expressed it clearly--Sheva BaYom Hillalticha--and this is what he meant!


B.  Dovid pleads (Tehillim 119:18) ‘Gal Ainai Ve’Abita Niflaos MiTorasecha--unveil my eyes that I may perceive wonders from Your Torah.’  The Torah is so deep and there is so much for us to know.  One may dejectedly ask:  Is the task really possible?  This is definitely not the appropriate question--a more telling query for oneself is--what am I really doing to gain as much Divine Knowledge as I can?  Beyond my set or daily Torah study, am I steadfastly and actively seeking Hashem’s guidance--am I asking Hashem for help daily--for eye-opening understanding in what to study, how to study--and in the study itself?  When stuck or stymied on a point, when tired or unclear, when unsure how to next proceed--do I ‘turn off’--or instead do I recite this very Pasuk that Dovid Hamelech recited when he was in his own similar situation (on his level)?!  Hashem as the Source of all Torah can most certainly assist you to acquire more and more of it.  Commit the Pasuk to memory--and use it very sincerely--and very freely!


C.  Dovid teaches (Tehillim 119:129) Pela’os Eidvosecha Al Kain Netzarasam Nafshi--Your testimonies are wonders, therefore my soul has guarded them.  Rashi (ibid.) comments that the enormity of Mitzvah accomplishment is hidden from us--as an example, he cites the Mitzvah of Shi’luach HaKan--which appears so simple, quick and costless--yet has Arichus Yomim attached to it in and of itself.  With this in mind, no Mitzvah should be downplayed, underrated, skipped, or skimped upon.  Chazal teach that HaYom La’Asosam--our Mitzvah performance is limited to our time in this world, and so no G-d-given opportunity should be forsaken.  Moreover, one should actively seek to perform Mitzvos that he has not had the opportunity to perform before.  Dovid (Tehillim 119:19) actually expresses it clearly with the words:  ‘Ger Anochi Va’Aretz Al Taster Mimeni Mitzvosecha--I am a sojourner in the world, hide not Your Mitzvos from me’.  If one views each day as a fountainhead of burgeoning opportunities--if he sees the events in his life as true occasions for eternity, if one actively looks to uncover and achieve new sources for his soul’s satisfaction--then he is taking the teachings of Dovid HaMelech to heart.  The Chayei Odom devotes an entire Chapter (Chapter 68) to appreciating and accomplishing Mitzvos.  If possible, one should study it, and even review it again from time to time.   Hashem has given and continues to give us gifts of immense proportions daily--let us try hard to appreciate, to rejoice in, and make the most of these Heavenly gifts.  We can then ask for more and more--which He will be happy to give--and which will give Him nachas!  A new, devoted effort to appreciate and strive for Mitzvos daily--what opportunity!  Thank you--25 Adar!



22 Adar II

V’ASAF ISH TAHOR: In the Parasha of Parah Adumah that we lein this week, the Pasuk records V’Asaf Ish Tahor Es Efer HaParah--a pure man shall gather the ash of the red heifer (Bamidbar 19:9). The Ba’al HaTurim (ibid.) writes that in our day the Tefillah of Tzaddikim can act as our own personal Assaf Ish Tahor…. We must take the lesson--and ask Tzaddikim to daven on our personal behalves!



THAT LAST WEEK OF ADAR BEGINS TOMORROW--ON SHABBOS! The following is excerpted from the always timely and relevant Sefer HaToda’ah by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, as translated and known as The Book of Our Heritage (Feldheim Publishers--available in pocket size as well!).  “The last Seven Days of Adar, from the Twenty-Third until Rosh Chodesh Nisan, are called the Yemei HaMiluim--the ‘days of dedication.’  It was then that Moshe Rabbeinu consecrated the Mishkan after its construction.   These days of dedication of the first Mishkan are destined to be repeated when the Moshiach comes.  It is said that his coming and the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash will take place in the month of Nisan.  Thus, the days of dedication serve as a memorial to the Mishkan made by Moshe, as well as a time of prayer for the final redemption and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash in which the Shechina will dwell eternally.”  Hakhel Note: It is extremely important that we understand the timely message--that we appreciate the times--and that we utilize them to their utmost, to their fullest. The choice is now ours as to whether we will be busy with 100 other things--or whether we will not be satisfied with the status quo, and will be proactive--yearning for the Geulah with especially dedicated Tefillos.  To personalize and apply the thought with an Olam HaZeh analogy:  It is as if the lottery is about to be drawn, and you have been awarded four out of the five numbers for good behavior an hour before the drawing--you have only to successfully choose the fifth number.  Would you bother taking the time and making the effort to select it?!  Each and every one of us must take this incredible time period as seriously and as wonderfully as it really is!  It is the time of Miluim--the time of fulfillment!



A SPECIAL LESSON FOR THE MIDPOINT AND BEYOND:  Last week, we reached the half-way point of Torah in Pesukim, the midpoint of the year in days and months--as we are now in the second six and one-half months of the year. This Shabbos, too, we reach the midpoint of the Torah in words.  Let us be sure to take all of the reminders to ensure that the second half of our year is both more refined than our first half! 


The Kotzker Rebbe, Z’tl, provides a potent teaching for us in this week’s Parasha which can really guide us in this regard.  The Pasuk (Vayikra 9:6) teaches: “VaYomer Moshe Zeh HaDavar Asher Tzivah Hashem Ta’asu VeYairah Aleichem Kevod Hashem--And Moshe said--this is what Hashem has commanded you to do--then the Glory of Hashem will appear to you.”  The Kotzker comments that many believe that they are very much ready to reach ‘Madreigos Gevohos--lofty heights in their lives.’  Moshe Rabbeinu, however, advises us: Do you truly want to attain Madreigos, do you truly wish to elevate yourselves--then do what Hashem wants you to do--work on removing the Yetzer Hora from your heart. How? Think About, Focus on, What Hashem wants You To Do in the Particular Situation, Circumstance or Event You are in--and do not focus on the Yetzer Hora and his myopic, temporary and destructive whims, fancies and attitudes.   If you work at this, if you move towards accomplishment in giving--not the Yetzer Hora--but Hashem the Nachas of your doing His Will--then the Glory of Hashem will appear to you, and all of the Madreigos that you sought will fall gently and everlastingly into place. Let us take the Kotzker’s words with us in the second half of this year--by making sure as often and as resolutely as we can to follow the words of the Pasuk--Asher Tzivah Hashem Ta’asu--so that VeYairah Aleichem Kevod Hashem--the Glory of Hashem appears TO US--forever, and ever and ever!



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 writes that it is a good practice to burn one’s Chometz together with the Hoshanos from Sukkos--since one Mitzvah was done with it, a second Mitzvah of Tashbisu should be performed with it as well. The Rema brings a different Minhag--to bake Matzos with the Hoshanos (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 445, Mishna Berurah seif katan 7, Dirshu Note 10).


B. Can one take any leftover Chometz that he has and throw it into his trash can on the side of his house? HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:57) rules that even though one would not violate Ba’al Yeira’eh with Chometz disposed of in a trash can, nevertheless, one should destroy any Chometz by the time the z’man of biur arrives. Many Poskim, including the Minchas Yitzchak and Shevet HaLevi agree. The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, held that one should sell the Chometz in his trash cans, and reports that it was the Minhag of the Chazon Ish to burn the Chometz that was found in trash cans, and to wash the cans out with water. The Steipeler himself would pour kerosene into the cans in order to ensure that there was no leftover edible Chometz within them. HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, on the other hand, rules that when one throws trash into a trash can, it is no longer usable, and is the same as giving it to an akum, with no further action being required (ibid., Dirshu Note 22).


C. If c’v, one found Chometz in his home on Pesach--what should he do--after all, has he not sold it to an akum, and accordingly, it is no longer his to destroy? HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Z’tl, rules that, in fact, one should not burn it, but put it away together with other Chometz that he has sold. The Shevet HaLevi, rules that lechatechila one should make a fence around it--but if one cannot do so, then he can place it in the location of items that he sold to an akum. The Shevet HaLevi adds that it may very well be that it is permissible to burn this Chometz, for the akum would understand, is mochel, and not consider this to be problematic in terms of the sale (ibid., 446, Dirshu Note 2)




WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES: The following Halachos are culled from the Mishna Berurah Dirshu Edition. Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A. Frozen food in the freezer which his edible if one would defrost it is not Muktzah. Even if one has no intent of defrosting it on Shabbos--because one is able to defrost it if he would like (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 310, Dirshu Note 29).


B. The Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 4:78)  rules that a closed carton (such as a milk or juice carton which is opened by separating the folds) may not be opened on Shabbos, as we do not view it as an original opening which has been closed. This is because the seal is done very well and the original opening is considered to be no longer existence.


C. If after taking care of one’s bodily functions, he realizes that by cleaning himself blood will come out, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that it is nevertheless permissible to do so because it is a pesik reisha d’lo neichalei k’lal and it is Kavod HaBriyos (Orach Chaim 312 and Mishna Berurah Note 4).


D.. One should be very careful not to hit another person (or an animal) in a way which will cause a wound (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 316, Mishna Berurah seif katan 30). The Ben Ish Chai rules that even hitting a friend in jest or ‘play fighting’ or holding on to one’s or another’s flesh so that the skin reddens is assur (ibid., Dirshu Note 55)


E. The Chazon Ish rules that one may remove a fly from food together with a portion of the food to avoid Borer issues even though the fly is otherwise muktzah, because this is not considered to be titul muktzah, but instead making the food edible to eat. One cannot, however, kill spider or other small insects on the pretense that they would be dangerous if they went into someone’s food. Instead, one should cover the food (especially if we do not know that they are, in fact, dangerous). Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 216 seif katan 48).


F. In one owns a cat or dog, he can close the door in the room there are in, as they are considered as domesticated and living in the home and not subject to the Melacha of tzad--trapping (SA OC MB seif katan 53 and Dirshu Note 101).


G. HaRav Elyashiv and yblch’t HaRav Nissim Karelitz rule that one should not tie any kind of knot in something which one does not intend to open again. For instance, when one has finished with a garbage bag--the fact that he has tied it up and does not intend to open it again renders it a Kesher Shel Kayama.



TALKING TURKEY: As this week the Parasha teaches us about Kosher animals, birds and fish, we once again provide a brief summary on the kashrus of turkey, as excerpted from the Sefer Shaleiach Teshalach--A Practical Guide to the Mitzvah of Shiluach HaKan, by Rabbi Naftali Weinberger, Shlita (Feldheim Publishers)--which notes that Israel today actually leads the world in turkey consumption(!): 


1. The Damesek Eliezer, the Knesses Hagedolah and the Shoel U’Maishiv all rule that the turkey has all of the signs of a Kosher bird-- a crop; a gizzard that is peelable by hand; an ‘extra toe’; and, even beyond these three core simanim,  the turkey is clearly not a ‘doress’--it does not have the characteristics of a predatory species. The Arugas Habosem writes that even the Rema, who requires a Mesorah for birds, would agree here that no Mesorah is necessary because of all of the turkey’s clear Simanim..


2. The Sefer Otzar Yisrael writes that while definitely today we would follow the Rema’s requirement of a Mesorah for birds --turkey is an exception because it was discovered approximately 50 years before the Rema was born, and did not lose its status once it had become accepted.


3. Other Poskim (See Bach and Magen Avrohom to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 79) hold that the Gemara (Yerushalmi Berachos 3:5) refers to a ‘red chicken’ which is really the turkey--which means it had its early sources in Eretz Yisroel... and somehow made its way to America!


4. A fourth possibility is that we rely on the Mesora of the Jews of India, who it is claimed had a Mesorah dating back to the times Moshe Rabbeinu that the bird was Kosher.  This is perhaps why we refer to the turkey as the ‘Tarnigol Hodu ‘--the Indian chicken, and in Yiddish as well it is referred to as the ‘Indik’--or the Indian bird.


5. The Netziv writes that when turkey was originally imported into Europe many questioned its Mesorah. Nevertheless, it became widely accepted, and this accepted status need not be Halachically removed unless there would be a compelling reason to do so--in short, turkey is treated L’Halacha as if it had a Mesorah! The Netziv actually suggests that if the turkey’s status had been called into question before it became so widely accepted as kosher, the poskim definitely would have declared it as non-kosher due to its lack of Mesorah.  Given the current situation, the Netziv favors maintaining the status quo.


Among the more contemporary Poskim, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl discusses the permissibility of eating turkey on Thanksgiving, thus clearly holding that it is permissible to otherwise consume it. Similarly, the Chazon Ish, Z’tl and the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl ate turkey (Orchos Rabbeinu III, p.72), and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita eats it as well.  HaRav Yaakov Kamenetsky, Z’tl did not eat turkey because his Rebbitzen Itta Ettel came from Shavell, Lithuania, where the minhag of the whole town was not to eat turkey since it lacked a Mesorah. HaRav Yaakov accepted this upon himself, but did not require his family to do so. His son, HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, accepted his father’s practice and does not eat turkey--but his children and extended family do--for it was accepted only as a stringency, and not as a custom.


The above is of course only a short aspect of this important Sefer on the Halachos (and Hashkafos) of Shiluach Hakan.  The Sefer is otherwise filled with unique and fascinating Halachos on how to properly perform the Mitzvah, contains the Shailos U’Teshuvos of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita on this Mitzvah--and a discussion of all of the segulos involved in its proper performance!





A. At the beginning of the Parasha, we find that Moshe Rabbeinu first “called to Aharon...” and only afterwards “Spoke to Aharon.” HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, Z’tl, notes that when one wants to speak with a person, he should call him specifically by his name, and only then continue with a conversation. Mentioning someone’s name can create a special level of endearment and closeness, a human bond. Moshe Rabbeinu may very well have learned this very beautiful Middah from Hashem Himself, Who at the outset of Sefer Vayikrah (1:1) first “calls to Moshe”, and only afterwards begins “speaking to him.”  May we suggest that over Shabbos (i.e. the week-end) and Sunday (i.e., the week-beginning), you take the lead of Hashem--and of Moshe Rabbeinu--and call to a person by name before starting a conversation. May this serve as a source of bracha in enhancing all of our personal relationships! (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita)


B. The Torah records that after Aharon and Moshe did everything they were supposed to do during the Yemei HaMiluim, the Shechinah nevertheless did not descend onto the Mishkan. They did not despair. Instead, they taught us a lesson forever. The Torah (Vayikrah 9:23) records: “Vayavo Aharon V’Moshe Ehl Ohel Mo’ed.” Rashi (ibid., in one explanation) explains that they entered together and asked for Hashem’s mercy--and the Shechinah descended. We must realize the great importance and in spite of and in addition to all our actions--of asking Hashem for His mercy!


C. At the outset of the Parasha of Kashrus, Rashi provides us with an explanation of why we were zoche to receive the laws of Kosher animals: “Zos HaChaya--this is the animal….” Rashi (Vayikra 11:2), teaches that the word Chaya is related to the word Chaim or life. Because we connect ourselves to Hashem, Hashem gave us the laws which separate use from impurity, which he gave to no other nation. There is a great lesson here: When observing the lessons of Kashrus and being careful with the Hashgachos and the products that one utilizes--one should not view this as a burden and a chore--but as a special and unique privilege given by Hashem to us and to no other nation for we want a connection to Hashem--we want life--and this is how we achieve it! The more careful we are--the more we want life!


D.  The Chasida, or the “Kind One”, is remarkably the name of a treife bird.  Many of us have heard as the explanation for this anomaly that although the bird does kindness--it is only with her friends and not with strangers or those that it does not know.  We suggest another explanation as well.  The Chasida is treife because she does kindness with her neighbors--after all, she is known to all as the Chasida--but does not do Chesed with her own family, as she will win no special appellation in this regard.  This provides a great lesson to us.  We can improve ourselves from ‘treife’ to ‘kosher’ by making the additional effort to do “unsung Chesed”--helping to clean up around the house in some additional way than before, doing something for a family member before being asked, taking the time out to think about and give a parent, sibling, spouse or child a thoughtful or creative idea geared just for them.  Ahavas Chinam doesn’t have to take place on the streets, in Shul or in the workplace--it can show its constant special presence-- beautifully housed--in your very own home.  Yehi Ratzon that in this zechus, we will be zoche to the end of the horrifying effects of Galus--speedily and in our days--may we make it happen!


E. The Torah (Vayikrah 11:44) teaches that “Vehiskadishtem Viheyisem Kedoshim”--if we attach ourselves to holiness we will be holy…and that if we defile ourselves (or even allow ourselves to be defiled) we contaminate not only our present physical bodies but our future spiritual existence.  In truth, the kind and degree of holiness and contamination varies from person to person. The G’ra teaches that a person can determine what his tachlis is in this world by understanding and studying the situations that: (a) he most frequently encounters--for they are new G-d given opportunities to succeed, and (b) the items and events that one has the greatest ‘cheshek’ --the greatest desire for--for these are his key life tests to pass, and if possible, excel at.  Just as our faces are different, so are our roads to Olam Haba--we are all on the same road with the same method of transportation, but will each get there in different ways, at different times, and will enjoy different lodgings.   The elevated spirit in which we raised ourselves up from servitude and bondage--from the difficulties and tribulations of Olam Hazeh--on the Seder night, should be the spirit that takes us through the year-- as we remind ourselves that if we can stay clear of the contamination and instead uplift ourselves to holiness through the process of our Galus, we--as the Chad Gadya-- will be left at the end--with the One and Only Hakadosh Baruch Hu!


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