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Today is Thursday, April 24, 2014



Chag HaPesach

Weekly Divrei Torah
A project of the
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF YOUNG ISRAEL

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Chag HaPesach
15 Nissan 5774 / April 15, 2014

The Wicked Son
Rabbi Mendel Kaufman
Young Israel of Briarwood, NY

Concerning the wicked son, the Haggadah asks: “What does the wicked son say?” “Of what purpose is this work to you?” He says to you and not to me which shows he has excluded himself from the community and that he has denied the most important tenets of our faith. To that, the Haggadah declares: “Blunt his teeth and tell him, ‘it is because of this (the mitzvoth of Pesach) that HaShem performed these miracles for me when I left Egypt’” [Shemot 13:8]. The Hagaddah proclaims [by the wicked son saying to you and not to me]: “had he been there, he would not have been redeemed.”

For many years, I used to wonder why the Haggadah changed the language of the verse, “G-d made the miracles when I left Egypt” If the wicked son had been there, he would not have been redeemed. Why didn’t it remain consistent with the verse and say: “had he been there he would not have left.

Then, a few years ago, I read about a debate that took place at Queens College between Yitzchak Navon (president of Israel 1978-1983) and a young history professor from Hebrew University. The topic of the debate was “Was the victory of Israel during the 1948 War of Independence a miracle.” Mr. Navon, who at that time was a key aid to David Ben-Guron, said he certainly did believe it was a miracle, considering that a relative handful (about 600,000) of poorly equipped and trained Jews were able to withstand the onslaught of the highly-equipped armies of seven Arab nations.

I remembered a joke that was making the rounds in 1948. Two young men, both Holocaust survivors, had come from the D.P. camps to Israel during the War of Independence. They were immediately inducted into the IDF and sent to separate units. One of them, on his first day in an infantry unit, was handed a broom stick and told by his officer: “Take this gun and stand at the post tonight in the field over there.” The young man said: “This is not a gun; it is a broom stick!” To which the officer replied: “And I say it is a gun – take it and stand guard in the field tonight. That’s an order!”

Well, an order is an order. The fellow took the stick and went to his position in the field. Standing in the dark, he hears a rustling in the bushes. He calls out: “Halt, who goes there?” No answer. The rustling comes closer. He yells: “Halt or I will shoot!” Still no reply, and the rustling gets closer. The young man figured he had nothing to lose so he decided to use all his strength and clobber whoever it was in an attempt to defend himself. As he was ready to swing the broom stick, a light flashed and he noticed the person coming toward him was his friend from the D.P. camp. “Yankel,” he says. “Why didn’t you answer me, I could have killed you!” Yankel responds with a chuckle: “You can’t kill me; I’m a tank.”

That young professor at Queens College, on the other hand, argued that the Israeli victory was not a miracle. The IDF was a superior fighting force than the Arab armies. The IDF won on ability alone, he claimed.

With this debate we can understand the reason the Haggadah changed the language of the verse from “going out” to “redeemed.”

The wicked son does not want to be beholden to G-d; to him, the mitzvoth are an avodah (arduous work). Even if a merciful G-d had permitted him to leave Egypt, he would not have been redeemed; he would have found all kinds of explanations as to why the Jewish people were able to leave Egypt.

Moshe was a master diplomat. Pharoah wanted to be rid of the Jews by any means. The only way they were allowed to leave was through the might of G-d. The Hagaddah is teaching us that Pesach is the holiday of appreciation. We must appreciate that our salvation came from G-d, and we can show this appreciation by strengthening our observance of Torah and mitzvoth.

At Pesach, as we show our appreciation for the redemption from Egypt, we must also show our appreciation through Torah and mitzvoth for the miracles G-d performs for the Jewish people today – particularly for our brethren in Israel.

True, the redemption today is far from complete. Israel and the Jewish nation still face existential threats – both internally and externally. But this must not blind us to the myriad miracles that G-d has already performed on our behalf. Besides the War of Independence, there is the Six-Day War, Entebbe, and countless other examples. The more we appreciate the modern-day miracles, through Torah and mitzvoth, the closer we will come to the Geula Shelaima, the complete redemption we all yearn for.

It is no accident that we conclude the Seder with the words L’shana Habaah B’Yerushalayim – next year in Jerusalem. We have just read the entire Hagaddah, with its narrative and mitzvoth in remembrance of something that happened 3,000 years ago. Thus, we must be highly aware that the narrative continues. As we went from exile to redemption 3,000 years ago, so today we must go from exile to redemption.

Next year in Jerusalem! Amen

The Rooftops of Egypt and Y'rushalayim
Rabbi Moshe Greebel
Associate Member, Young Israel Council of Rabbis, Belmar, NJ


Directing the groupings of the B’nai Yisroel in Egypt to acquire their Korban Pesach (Paschal lamb), Moshe stated the following:

“Then Moshe called for all the elders of Yisroel, and said to them, ‘Draw out (‘Mishchu’), and take a lamb according to your families, and kill the Pesach lamb.’” (Sh’mos 12:21)

Now then, when HaKadosh Baruch Himself commanded that the Korban Pesach be acquired, He stated the following earlier in the Torah:

“Speak to all the congregation of Yisroel, saying, ‘In the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house.” (ibid. 12:3)

As can be clearly seen, nowhere in His statement did HaKadosh Baruch Hu make use of the term ‘Mishchu’ (draw out) as did Moshe. Why then, did Moshe alter the wording of HaKadosh Baruch Hu? A second question confronts us.

When HaKadosh Baruch Hu commanded the blood of the Korban Pesach to be smeared upon the doors of the B’nai Yisroel, He stated:

“And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the lintel of the houses, in which they shall eat it.” (Ibid. 12:7)

Yet, when Moshe issued the same order, he stated the following:

“And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out from the door of his house until the morning.” (ibid. 12:22)

Note that Moshe has reversed the order. HaKadosh Baruch Hu stated, “On the two side posts, and on the lintel.” Moshe however, reversed the order by stating, “The Lintel and the two side posts.” Why would he do such a thing?

Fortunately, we have some very apt answers for these questions, from which a good degree of Torah knowledge may be gleamed, from the text K’hilas Yitzchak by Rav Yitzchak Voloshin (1749- 1821) of blessed memory, who began with the following Gemarah from P’sachim 85b- 86a, which speaks of a time when there was a Bais HaMikdash (Temple) in Y’rushalayim:

“Rav said, ‘The roofs and the upper chambers (of Y’rushalayim) were not sanctified (for the eating of the Korban Pesach).’ But that is not so, for Rav (also) said on the authority of Rabbi Chiya, ‘There was (only) as much as an olive of the Korban Pesach (to eat for each person), yet the (the recitation of) Hallel split the roofs. Does that not mean that they ate on the roof and recited (the Hallel) on the roof….?’”

The Gemarah answers the question in the following manner:

“…..No! They ate on the ground floor and recited (Hallel) on the roof…..”

But, why may one ask, were the roofs and upper chambers of the houses in Y’rushalayim not sanctified for the eating of the Korban Pesach? The K’hilas Yitzchak offers us a most Lomdish (scholarly) answer.

We commence with the Maharsha (Rav Shmuel Eidels- 1555- 1631) of blessed memory, who explained that the reason they ascended to the roofs and upper chambers to recite Hallel after eating the Korban Pesach on ground level in Y’rushalayim, was in order to publicize the praise and lauding of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, Who wrought such great miracles, in plain sight of everyone. Yet, they still ate the Korban Pesach on ground floor. We shall soon see why.

The K’hilas Yitzchak addresses our first question of why Moshe added the expression ‘Mishchu’ (draw out). In other locations in Mikra (Scripture), the term M’shicha (drawing out) implies pulling something upwards. When Yosef was sold, we read the following:

“Then there passed by Midianite merchants; and they drew (VaYim’sh’chu) and lifted up Yosef out from the pit, and sold Yosef to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver; and they brought Yosef to Egypt.” (B’raishis 37:28)

Clearly, the term M’shicha here means to pull upwards. When Yirmiyahu HaNavi (the prophet) was released from his subterranean dungeon, we read:

“And they pulled up (VaYim’sh’chu) Yirmiyahu with ropes, and took him up out of the pit; and Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.” (Yirmiyahu 38:13)

Clearly once again, the language of M’shicha means to pull upwards.

Now then, expounded the K’hilas Yitzchak, it must be understood that when the B’nai Yisroel led their purchased lambs and goats, which would be their Korban Pesach, through the streets of Egypt, they were in terrible danger from the Egyptians who worshipped such livestock. The B’nai Yisroel therefore, put their lives out on the line to accomplish this Mitzvah.

Knowing of this danger, when HaKadosh Baruch Hu directed them, “They shall take every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers,” what was meant was to keep the animal, slaughter it, and eventually eat it on ground level, a lot less hazardous than doing this on the roof in public in Egypt.

Along came Moshe, and suggested ‘Mishchu’, or, pull the animal up to the roof and slaughter it there in any event, so that it would be in plain view of everyone, unable to be missed. Unfortunately, the B’nai Yisroel were too terrified to so publicly slaughter their animals upon their roofs in Egypt, let alone to eat them there.

And, that is why Moshe reversed the order, answered the K’hilas Yitzchak, when it came to the application of the blood upon the door. For, HaKadosh Baruch Hu commanded, “On the two side posts and on the lintel.” That is, if the slaughtering and eating took place on the ground floor, the natural progression of applying the blood to the door would have been working one’s way up to the lintel.

Nonetheless, had the B’nai possessed the courage to slaughter the Korban on the roof tops, as per the proposition of Moshe, the natural progression of applying blood to the door as they descended from upstairs would have been downwards, as Moshe stated, “The lintel and the two side posts.”

And, concluded the K’hilas Yitzchak, because the B’nai Yisroel were not as determined as Moshe to slaughter the Korban Pesach high atop their houses to publicize this Mitzvah to so large an extent, our Rabbanim of blessed memory rendered that the roofs and upper chambers of Y’rushalayim were not sanctified for the eating of the Korban Pesach, in order to memorialize the mercy and compassion of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, Who did not require our ancestors in Egypt to make use of their roofs and upper chambers there, as per the intention of Moshe.

As can plainly be imagined, there is virtually no end to the inconceivable repository of knowledge which the Torah is. And, there is no better time to discuss such profundities with one’s family and friends than Seder night. May we all experience a meaningful Pesach. A Chag Kosher V’Samai’ach.

Confidential matters may be sent to Rabbi Greebel at: belmar.rabbi@yahoo.com

Denial - Not Just a River in Egypt
Rabbi Dov Shapiro
Associate Member, Young Israel Council of Rabbis, New Hempstead, NY

When Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky was the Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Voda’as, there was a young man whose attendance at shachris (morning prayers) was consistently dismal. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to help the student improve his attendance, a decision was made – with Rav Yaakov’s approval - to expel this student from the dormitory until he committed to improve his minyan attendance. As soon as the boy had been dismissed from the dormitory, Rav Yaakov called him and invited him to sleep in his own home until he would be allowed back into the dorm.

To the surprised student Rav Yaakov explained: Many years ago when I lived in Europe I studied in the Kovno Kollel. Your grandfather was one of the supporters of that kollel, and thus I benefitted from your grandfather’s generosity. Now his grandson needs a helping hand. Is it any surprise that I would welcome the opportunity to express my appreciation for what he had for me and my colleagues many years ago by welcoming you into my home?

Acknowledging those who have helped us, and expressing appreciation for what we receive from others is a fundamental midah which the Torah expects of us. At times, we find it quite difficult to recognize, remember, and show appreciation for the kindnesses we have received. Great tzadikim, - people like Rav Yaakov - consistently excel at remembering and thanking those who have helped them even in small ways. For the rest of us, realizing how important this midah is and recognizing our propensity to resist it can help us improve our commitment to hakaras hatov.
At the Pesach Seder we have 2 mitzvos d’oraysa (biblical mitzvos). In the excitement that surrounds the seder and its preparations, the distinctions between mitzvos d’oraysa, mitzvos drabanan and minhagim sometimes blur, but in the absence of the Beis Hamikdash, the only two mitzvos d’oraysa that are unique to the seder night are Magid (recounting the story of the Exodus from Egypt) and eating Matzoh.
Let us examine the second mitzvah and ask: Why do we eat Matzoh on Pesach?

In the haggada we find two separate reasons for eating matzoh on Pesach. The haggadah opens with the first reason: “Ha lachma anya d’achalu avhasana – this is the humble bread that our forefathers ate while serving their Egyptian taskmasters”. The matzoh serves as a reminder of the harsh conditions and meager diet the Jews were subjected to during their enslavement. Later on the Haggadah quotes the explanation for Matzoh given by Rabban Gamliel. At the time the Jews left Mitzrayim, they left in haste without adequate time to prepare food and other provisions for their journey into the desert. They only had enough time to bake matzoh which we eat to commemorate that dimension of the geulah (redemption). Even the night of the very first Pesach, the night before the Jews actually left Mitzrayim, they ate matzoh in anticipation of the hasty exodus they would make the next day.

The obvious question is why? Why did Hashem arrange such a hasty departure? Why didn’t He tell them in advance exactly what day and time they would be leaving so that they would be able to plan accordingly and prepare and pack up food for their journey?

The Gur Aryeh (Devarim 16:3) addresses this question and explains that Hashem wanted the Jews to realize that it was He who was taking them out of Egypt. Had they been afforded time to prepare leisurely for their trip and depart on their own unhurried schedule, the impression might be conveyed that they had left on their own volition. However, seeing Pharaoh and his nation – who until recently had imprisoned, subjugated, and tortured the Jews and not allowed them to leave – suddenly forcing them out of Mitzrayim, they would undeniably acknowledge that it was Hashem’s hand that had miraculously freed them from Egypt. This is why Hashem arranged that the Jews should leave Egypt hastily and this is why we eat matzoh every Pesach night.

Let us consider the implications of this chazal:
The Jews had just witnessed ten makos all of which transpired exactly as Moshe said they would. They were in the process of leaving Egypt – a country from which escape was considered impossible- with the great wealth that Hashem had promised. They had just completed the korban Pesach – sacrificing a sheep which the Egyptians considered sacred – and the Egyptians had been powerless to interfere. Surrounded as they were by miracles, could anyone really suggest that the final step in the geula –even if the Jews themselves had controlled the timing - was anything less than Hashem’s salvation? How can anybody suggest that any component of yetzias mitzrayim was an event of natural order and not the yad Hashem?
Apparently, we have a tremendous reluctance to acknowledge that we are beholden to someone. Even in the face of overwhelming benefits that we receive, we struggle mightily to reduce the degree of indebtedness that we feel. If the Jews could find one small part of yetzias mitzrayim that they don’t owe Hashem for, their focus on that could potentially reduce their overall hakaras hatov to Hashem. That is our nature; we excuse, we explain and we deny, all in an effort to avoid having to humble ourselves before our benefactors.

Our lives are filled with kindness we receive from others. Wherever we turn we are surrounded by Hashem’s kindness. We need not look far to see the many kindnesses we have received from our parents, relatives, friends and neighbors. Nevertheless, we need to make a conscious effort to see and react to these observations. Without that determined focus the greatest beneficiaries can rationalize why they don’t owe anybody anything in order to avoid the discomfort of indebtedness.
Because getting us out of Egypt and away from the Nile River was the easy part. Getting denial out of our hearts is far more challenging.

Rabbi Dov Shapiro is the Rav of Kehillas Bnei Aliyah in New Hempstead, and a Certified Mohel.e can be reached at 877-88-Mohel or www.eastcoastmohel.com.To receive an e-mail of his weekly parsha column, e-mail DSMohel@gmail.com.

Denial - Not Just a River in Egypt
Rabbi Dov Shapiro
Associate Member, Young Israel Council of Rabbis, New Hempstead, NY

When Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky was the Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Voda’as, there was a young man whose attendance at shachris (morning prayers) was consistently dismal. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to help the student improve his attendance, a decision was made – with Rav Yaakov’s approval - to expel this student from the dormitory until he committed to improve his minyan attendance. As soon as the boy had been dismissed from the dormitory, Rav Yaakov called him and invited him to sleep in his own home until he would be allowed back into the dorm.

To the surprised student Rav Yaakov explained: Many years ago when I lived in Europe I studied in the Kovno Kollel. Your grandfather was one of the supporters of that kollel, and thus I benefitted from your grandfather’s generosity. Now his grandson needs a helping hand. Is it any surprise that I would welcome the opportunity to express my appreciation for what he had for me and my colleagues many years ago by welcoming you into my home?

Acknowledging those who have helped us, and expressing appreciation for what we receive from others is a fundamental midah which the Torah expects of us. At times, we find it quite difficult to recognize, remember, and show appreciation for the kindnesses we have received. Great tzadikim, - people like Rav Yaakov - consistently excel at remembering and thanking those who have helped them even in small ways. For the rest of us, realizing how important this midah is and recognizing our propensity to resist it can help us improve our commitment to hakaras hatov.
At the Pesach Seder we have 2 mitzvos d’oraysa (biblical mitzvos). In the excitement that surrounds the seder and its preparations, the distinctions between mitzvos d’oraysa, mitzvos drabanan and minhagim sometimes blur, but in the absence of the Beis Hamikdash, the only two mitzvos d’oraysa that are unique to the seder night are Magid (recounting the story of the Exodus from Egypt) and eating Matzoh.
Let us examine the second mitzvah and ask: Why do we eat Matzoh on Pesach?

In the haggada we find two separate reasons for eating matzoh on Pesach. The haggadah opens with the first reason: “Ha lachma anya d’achalu avhasana – this is the humble bread that our forefathers ate while serving their Egyptian taskmasters”. The matzoh serves as a reminder of the harsh conditions and meager diet the Jews were subjected to during their enslavement. Later on the Haggadah quotes the explanation for Matzoh given by Rabban Gamliel. At the time the Jews left Mitzrayim, they left in haste without adequate time to prepare food and other provisions for their journey into the desert. They only had enough time to bake matzoh which we eat to commemorate that dimension of the geulah (redemption). Even the night of the very first Pesach, the night before the Jews actually left Mitzrayim, they ate matzoh in anticipation of the hasty exodus they would make the next day.

The obvious question is why? Why did Hashem arrange such a hasty departure? Why didn’t He tell them in advance exactly what day and time they would be leaving so that they would be able to plan accordingly and prepare and pack up food for their journey?

The Gur Aryeh (Devarim 16:3) addresses this question and explains that Hashem wanted the Jews to realize that it was He who was taking them out of Egypt. Had they been afforded time to prepare leisurely for their trip and depart on their own unhurried schedule, the impression might be conveyed that they had left on their own volition. However, seeing Pharaoh and his nation – who until recently had imprisoned, subjugated, and tortured the Jews and not allowed them to leave – suddenly forcing them out of Mitzrayim, they would undeniably acknowledge that it was Hashem’s hand that had miraculously freed them from Egypt. This is why Hashem arranged that the Jews should leave Egypt hastily and this is why we eat matzoh every Pesach night.

Let us consider the implications of this chazal:
The Jews had just witnessed ten makos all of which transpired exactly as Moshe said they would. They were in the process of leaving Egypt – a country from which escape was considered impossible- with the great wealth that Hashem had promised. They had just completed the korban Pesach – sacrificing a sheep which the Egyptians considered sacred – and the Egyptians had been powerless to interfere. Surrounded as they were by miracles, could anyone really suggest that the final step in the geula –even if the Jews themselves had controlled the timing - was anything less than Hashem’s salvation? How can anybody suggest that any component of yetzias mitzrayim was an event of natural order and not the yad Hashem?
Apparently, we have a tremendous reluctance to acknowledge that we are beholden to someone. Even in the face of overwhelming benefits that we receive, we struggle mightily to reduce the degree of indebtedness that we feel. If the Jews could find one small part of yetzias mitzrayim that they don’t owe Hashem for, their focus on that could potentially reduce their overall hakaras hatov to Hashem. That is our nature; we excuse, we explain and we deny, all in an effort to avoid having to humble ourselves before our benefactors.

Our lives are filled with kindness we receive from others. Wherever we turn we are surrounded by Hashem’s kindness. We need not look far to see the many kindnesses we have received from our parents, relatives, friends and neighbors. Nevertheless, we need to make a conscious effort to see and react to these observations. Without that determined focus the greatest beneficiaries can rationalize why they don’t owe anybody anything in order to avoid the discomfort of indebtedness.
Because getting us out of Egypt and away from the Nile River was the easy part. Getting denial out of our hearts is far more challenging.

Rabbi Dov Shapiro is the Rav of Kehillas Bnei Aliyah in New Hempstead, and a Certified Mohel.e can be reached at 877-88-Mohel or www.eastcoastmohel.com.To receive an e-mail of his weekly parsha column, e-mail DSMohel@gmail.com.

Haggadah: Who Knows Four? (Sons, That Is)
Rabbi David Sochet
Associate Member, Young Israel Council of Rabbis, Spring Valley, NY

Let us contemplate one of the central themes of the Pesach seder, the parable of the four sons. How do we engage all types of people – chacham- wise, rasha- wicked, tam- (commonly understood as) simple and she’eino yodeya lishol- ignorant?

It has been cited in the name of great and holy men that these "four sons" are in fact conceptual archetypes rather than four real, living, distinct individuals; indeed, it is extremely rare, even impossible, to find pure examples of these types in real life. Almost all people are composites of all four. Were the Four Sons meant to represent real people, the tradition would most likely have identified individuals of note who personified each of them. The fact is that all these aspects are present in everyone to a greater or lesser extent. The question is how to know each “son”, or each aspect, within ourselves. For each, we ask, mah hu omer - what does he say? We can also interpret this question as “what is he really saying?” or what is the real message of this aspect of ourselves?

Each of us is at times either wise, wicked, naive, or totally clueless. We have to address these disparate aspects of our personae that in total manifest the individuals that we are. We have to get all these incongruent aspects of our personality to join and participate in the Seder as one. In order to accomplish this we must acknowledge these distinct yet unequal parts within ourselves and motivate each to be involved in the Seder experience. However, it must be understood that one answer is not going to suffice for each and every one of our characteristics, especially so if the answer is formulistic, a catechism if you will.

The Rambam [1] [2] alludes to a unique attribute of the Jewish people as follows. He explains the words of the Gemarah [3] in regard to gittin (divorce) ‘kofin oso ad sheyomar rotzeh ani’- the charge to the Jewish court system to compel someone to abide by the court’s decision through "forcing him until he articulates, ‘I fully consent.’“ This power of the courts seems to violate an elementary principle of the get, namely [4] that the man divorces his wife willingly. Any type of coercion invalidates the process.
The Rambam’s famous answer to this quandary is that the innate character of every Jew is to do the right thing. The Court merely assists him to act on his own to do what he knows in his heart is the right thing. Halachah maintains, in these instances, that it may take a series of lashes to the body to bring good judgment to the mind.

The Court can be satisfactorily assured that after a few lashes the Jew becomes sufficiently "motivated" to remove the yetzer hara (evil inclination) from his subconscious and do the right thing. He is now ready to perform a meritorious task which, were it not for the impediment of an evil impulse, he would have been willing to do all along.
Where does this special trait of "wanting to do what's right" come from? Each and every Jew contains within himself the traits and capabilities of our forefathers as the Medrash says [5] “Maseh avos siman labanim” – the actions of our forefathers are sign for what is to come onto their descendants. Our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov comprise the foundation upon which is constructed the ethos of our people. What they achieved became part of our spiritual and physical inclinations. Each one of them developed and excelled in a different area of understanding Hashem and His world and that legacy is passed on to this very day. The forefathers are the source of every Jew’s inner self being good no matter the circumstance.

I would like to suggest that three of the four sons are symbolic of the three Avos - forefathers:
Avraham is symbolic of the שאינו יודע לשאול - The One Who Does Not Know How to Ask. Although Avraham Avinu was not raised by a G-d fearing father, nor was his surrounding influences conducive to belief in monotheism, as such his knowledge of Hashem was therefore only known to him through thorough searching until he was fully convinced that there was a Creator and Proprietor of the world [6] . Avraham was the first to recognize with absolute clarity the existence of the One Creator of the universe and that He is the source of all existence.

Avraham presented his vision to mankind and assured them that this clarity of vision lies within everyone's reach. A person need only search within himself and he will find it there. For all succeeding generations these things were clear as well, and that clarity is deeply embedded within ourselves. Some understand this as the concept of zechus avos / the merits of the forefathers, meaning that Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov instilled within their descendants those traits and values that remain with us until this very day.
(In medieval times some rabbis debated the issue as to whether it is more worthy to gain a more profound and esoteric understanding of the existence of Hashem through Chakirah - philosophic inquiry- to the utmost that one’s intellect can grasp, or instead to simply believe based on Emunah Peshutah - simple faith- that is to believe in the Jewish faith as is written in the Torah, and because this was passed down to us from father to son through the ages, a continuous unbroken chain from the events that transpired on Sinai.

This weighty discussion is way above our pay grade. Nevertheless, the majority of achronim (rabbis of our more recent past) understood that at least as far as their generations were concerned, the more preferable path is that of Emunah Peshutah – blind faith as it were and that this is the course where the benefits outweigh the risks of placing our age-old value system in jeopardy. It was agreed that the ancient Rabbis were more intellectually gifted, and they were capable of raising the most probing questions and arriving at the conclusions that agree with those reached by our forefathers by virtue of the sheer power of their mental acumen. The Rabbis of the later generations were less confident in their intellectual prowess and they felt that they might not gain the correct understanding when delving into areas of faith by the use of Chakirah, intellectual deliberation.

Indeed, simple logic dictates that we should shun this approach, for what advantage is there to be gained in Chakirah? Suppose for a moment that the ancient Jewish philosophers with their thorough scrutiny had not been able to fully comprehend as they did or, heaven forbid, on the contrary, they would have understood otherwise. Would it be excusable for them to not believe in the existence of Hashem? Certainly not! A heretic is not absolved for his sin because his intellect led him astray. To accept such a premise would be to allow for any bad behavior however perverse, because after all, the perpetrator believed in it, did he not? And as such, since I am morally bound by the well-established Jewish creed regardless of where intellectual exercises lead me, what then is the benefit in analyzing a matter which, either way, I am not at the liberty to do as my poor wisdom dictates?)

Pursuant to the above, since Avraham had no Mesorah, no historical tradition upon which to base his faith, one might assume that Avraham only had the lesser level of faith, one based on his own understanding and not the superior level of Emunah Peshuta - blind faith. If this indeed was the case, how can it be expected of us to attain this higher level of belief? If our faith is a continuum of that attained by Avraham, our forefather, how can we aspire to that which he could not endow us, simple faith which he himself seemingly lacked?

It can be suggested that Avraham actually did gain this level of faith through the incident of kivshan haEish (being cast into the burning furnace and being saved miraculously through Hashem’s grace). Since this was not at all a logical development it was evident to him that there are things we cannot fathom and understand about Hashem’s wondrous ways yet we still must believe. This too, is part and parcel of Avraham's legacy.

We should understand that although Avraham came to his belief on his own, nonetheless as an outcome of his experiences the bottom line was that he believed in Hashem without question, without inquiry, as if he were one that does not even begin to know what to ask.

The Tam although often the illustrations in Hagaadas show a foolish and inane looking man, the accompanying text explains that the Tam is neither wise nor evil. This actually is not the true meaning. The Tam actually means one who is whole, complete, or perfect. This correlates to Yaakov as the pasuk [7] explicitly states, ויעקב איש תם ישב אהלים - but Yaakov was a wholesome man (tam), abiding his tents.
Yitzchock is the wise son as stated in the Medrash quoted by the Maaseh Hashem [8].

This can be explained by an explanation of the Avnei Nezer [9] quoted by his son the Shem Mishmuel [10] who suggests an explanation for the Torah's narration of Yitzchok’s well-digging activities and what significance it has for us. Based on the pasuk [11], "מים עמוקים עצה בלב איש ואיש תבונות ידלנה - "Deep waters are in the heart of a man and an understanding person will draw them out”, the Chovos Halivavos [12] teaches that there are deep waters in each of us, but just like deep well water is covered by the earth so too the deep waters of our inner powers are hidden from others and from ourselves. A wise person knows that these inner powers are there, and is able to uncover them and draw them out when needed. The inner wisdom possessed by each of us in our hearts and minds is waiting to be uncovered. This is the inner dimension of well-digging, and the influence our father Yitzchak has on us: the coarseness of our exterior does not have to hide the inner wisdom and counsel present within a Jew.

The fourth and final, son the wicked son, is our very own ego as the pasuk [13] tells us ”כי יצר לב האדם רע מנעוריו - since the design of man’s heart is evil from his youth." This part of ourselves we owe to ourselves; this is not a glorious legacy passed on to later generations. We own this trait completely, and to add insult to injury our egoism tries to keep from us our self-awareness of our other three parts that we have inherited from our forefathers.

Now it is to these four parts of ourselves that we wish to inspire on the Seder night that they should all work in unison to bring us closer to the service of Hashem.

Please feel free to forward this Torah thought to anyone you feel will take pleasure in reading it. Feel free to contact me at Rabbisochet@gmail.com for any questions and comments.

Good Shabbos and May we all merit to a kosher and happy Pesach.

Rabbi Dovid Sochet
[1] Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon ("Maimonides") 1135- 1204.
[2] Rambam Hilchos Geirushin (Laws of Divorce) 2:20
[3] See tractate Eiruchin 21A
[4] Tracatae Yevamos 112B
[5] See Tanchuma Lech Lecha 9
[6] See Medrash, Bereishes Rabbah 39:1
[7] Bereishes / Genesis 25:27
[8] Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi (1512–1585)
[9] Rabbi Avraham Borenstain (1838 –1910) was a leading posek in late-nineteenth-century Europe and founder of the Sochatchover Chasidic dynasty. He is known as the Avnei Nezer after the title of his posthumously-published set of halachic responsa which is widely acknowledged as a halakhic classic
[10] Rabbi Shmuel Borenstain (1855–1926), he was the second Rebbe of the Sochatchov Chasidic dynasty. His teachings are recorded in the Shem Mishmuel a nine-volume collection of homiletical teachings on the Torah and Jewish holidays.
[11] Mishlei / Proverbs 20:5
[12] Rabeinu Bachyaibn Paquda (he lived at Zaragoza, Spain, during the first half of the eleventh century.).
[13] Bereishis / Genesis 8:21

Meafar Kumi
Rabbi Ronen Shaharabany
Graduate, Young Israel Rabbinic Training Program, Brooklyn, NY

כתוב בתורה "ושמרתם את המצוֹת כי בעצם היום הזה הוצאתי את צבאותיכם מארץ מצרים" (שמות יב, יז). דרשו חז"ל (מכילתא בא יב, ז) אל תקרא מצוֹת אלא מצוות, מצוה הבאה לידך אל תחמיצנה, ע"כ. מדוע התורה בחרה ללמד את חיוב עשיית המצוות בזריזות דווקא ממצה, ולא ממצוה אחרת?

עם ישראל היו צריכים להיות משעובדים במצרים ארבע מאות שנה, כדכתיב "ויאמר לאברם ידוע תדע כי גר יהיה זרעך בארץ לא להם ועבדום וענו אתם ארבע מאות שנה" (בראשית טו, יג). אבל למעשה, בני ישראל יצאו ממצרים לאחר 210 שנה. אחד הפירושים הוא שקושי השעבוד השלים את הזמן, ובמשך 210 שנה השלימו עבודת 400 שנה. מדוע הקב"ה הכביד את השעבוד כדי להוציאנו ממצרים 190 שנה קודם הזמן? ביאור הדברים על פי דברי האריז"ל הידועים, שהתורה אומרת "ולא יכלו להתמהמה" (שמות יב, לט), בני ישראל שקעו במ"ט שערי טומאה, ועוד רגע עמדו ליפול לשער הנ'. ואילו נפלו ישראל לשער הנ', לא היו יוצאים ממצרים לעולם, לכן הקב"ה הקדים להוציאנו ממצרים.

זהו בעצם עיקר הטעם לאכילת מצה, כמו שכתוב בהגדה "מצה זו שאנו אוכלים על שום שלא הספיק בצקם של אבותינו להחמיץ, עד שנגלה אליהם מלך מלכי המלכים הקב"ה וגאלם, שנאמר "ויאפו את הבצק אשר הוציאו ממצרים עוגות מצות כי לא חמץ כי גורשו ממצרים ולא יכלו להתמהמה" (שמות יב, לט). לכאורה יש להקשות, מדוע הקב"ה הוציאנו ממש ברגע האחרון לפני נפילתנו לשער הנ'? ועוד, מדוע סיבב הקב"ה שרגע זה יהיה דווקא תוך כדי עשיית הבצק, באופן שלא יספיק הבצק להחמיץ? הרי ה' היה יכול להוציאנו יום לפני, בלי המהירות והחפזון, ואז גם בצקנו היה מספיק להחמיץ.

אלא בזה הקב"ה גילה לנו את גודל אהבתו אלינו. הקב"ה הוציאנו ממש ברגע האחרון, בהיותנו גובלים בשער הנ', להורות שאפילו שנפלנו למדרגה התחתונה ביותר, עד שלא הייתה לנו שום זכות לגאולה, בכל זאת הוא יתברך באהבתו אלינו גאל אותנו ובחר בנו לקבל את תורתו, ולהיות לו ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש. לכן ה' סיבב שנצא ממצרים דווקא בשעת עריכת הבצק, רגעים ספורים טרם שיחמיץ, כדי שיהיה לנו אות וזכרון לגודל אהבתו אלינו, בזה שהוציאנו למרות שעוד רגע היינו בשער הנ'. ואות זו היא המצה.

עתה ניתן לבאר מדוע לומדים את חיוב הזריזות במצוות דווקא ממצה. כתב ה"אורחות צדיקים" (שער הזריזות): "מי שעושה מעשיו בזריזות, בזה הוכחה גדולה שהוא אוהב את בוראו, כעבד האוהב את אדוניו ומזרז עצמו לעשות רצונו. כי הזריזות תלויה בלב האדם, וכשהאדם מפנה לבו מכל המחשבות האחרות שיש בו "ותופס" מחשבה אחת, אז הוא מזדרז", עכ"ל. הרי שזריזות נובעת מאהבת ה'.

אם הקב"ה דורש מאיתנו להיות זריזים בעבודתו, הוא צריך לתת לנו את הכוחות ואת הכלים כדי לעשות כן. מאיפה נשיג אהבת ה' כדי שנהיה זריזים בעבודתו? הוי אומר ממצה! המצה זועקת לכל אחד מאיתנו את עוצמת אהבתו של הקב"ה אלינו, בכל מצב שהוא. ובזמן שנתבונן בלקח זה שטמון במצה, יתמלא לבנו באהבה בחזרה לאבינו שבשמים, כמים הפנים לפנים, וממילא נזדרז בכל מצוותיו!

נמצא שמהאהבה הטמונה ב"מצה", זוכים לבחינת "ושמרתם את המצוֹת, אל תקרא מצוֹת אלא מצוות, מצוה הבאה לידך אל תחמיצנה". דהיינו שהמצוֹת משפיעות לעשיית תרי"ג המצוות בזריזות. ונראה לי לרמוז זאת: המילוי של "מצה" (מם צדי הא) עולה בגימטריא 190 – רמז לגודל אהבתו יתברך אלינו, בזה שהוציאנו ממצרים בדיוק 190 שנה קודם הזמן, רגע לפני נפילתנו לשער הנ'. וכשאדם חש אהבה זו, הוא זוכה להגיע לבחינת "ושמרתם את המצוֹת", דהיינו לקיים את כל תרי"ג המצוות בזריזות. לכן המילוי של "מצוֹת" (מם צדי ויו תאו) עולה בגימטריא תרי"ג – בדיוק כדרשת חז"ל, שלמדה מ"מצוֹת" את החיוב להזדרז בכל התרי"ג מצוות, כי ב"מצוֹת" טמון הכח להשפיע על כל תרי"ג המצוות. ולכן "מצוֹת יאכל" (שמות יג, ז) עולה בגימטריא "עצלות" (עם הכולל) (597), לרמוז שעל ידי מצה זוכים לבטל את מידת העצלות.

בזה נבין מדוע התורה קוראת לחג הפסח "חג המצוֹת". תכלית יציאת מצרים הייתה בשביל שישראל יקבלו את התורה, כדכתיב "בהוציאך את העם ממצרים תעבדון את האלהים על ההר הזה" (שמות ג, יב). ורמז נפלא לדבר: "יציאת מצרים" עולה בגימטריא "נעשה ונשמע" (891). ותכלית כל התורה היא להגיע לאהבת ה', כדכתיב (דברים ל, יט-כ): "ובחרת בחיים למען תחיה אתה וזרעך. לאהבה את ה' אלקיך" (המפרש להרמב"ם, ריש פ"ב מהלכות יסודי התורה). נמצא שהתכלית הסופית של יציאת מצרים, ושל חג הפסח, היא להגיע לאהבת ה'. ומטרה זו תושג דווקא על ידי המצה, שהיא הסמל והאות לאהבת ה' אלינו, הגורמת לנו לאוהב את ה' בחזרה. לכן נקרא "חג המצות", כי על ידי המצה משיגים את תכלית החג. (ולכן חג הפסח כנגד אברהם אבינו, שהוא סמל לבחינת אהבה - "אברהם אוהבי" (ישעיהו מא, ח). וממילא גם לומדים מידת הזריזות מאברהם, כדכתיב "וישכם אברהם בבוקר".)

לפי המבואר אפשר לפרש את המשנה "אם אין תורה אין קמח, אם אין קמח אין תורה" (אבות ג, יז). מובא בספרים הקדושים (עיין בספר "דברי חיזוק" לחודש ניסן וימי הפסח, עמ' פח) שהקמח במשנה הוא קמח של המצה הקדושה. אמרנו שתכלית יציאת מצרים הייתה בשביל שישראל יקבלו את התורה, ושזו בעצם כל הסיבה שה' אוהב אותנו. וזה "אם אין תורה", דהיינו לולא שישראל היו מקבלים את התורה, "אין קמח" מצה, הקב"ה לא היה מראה לנו אהבה כה גדולה – המטבטאת במצה – להוציאנו מתוך טומאתנו. וביארנו, שתכלית התורה היא אהבת ה', וזה "אם אין קמח" מצה, דהיינו אם אין לאדם אהבת ה', שהוא הלקח העיקרי של מצה, ממילא "אין תורה", כי מחסיר את עיקר תכלית התורה.

"רשע מה הוא אומר. מה העבודה הזאת לכם. לכם ולא לו. ולפי שהוציא את עצמו מן הכלל כפר בעיקר. ואף אתה הקהה את שניו..." (הגדה).

איזו תשובה היא, הקהית השנים?! אבל באמת, אין תשובה כמוה! סיפר לי הגאון רבי זלמן סורוצקין זצ"ל, בעירו לוצק היה פוקר אחד שזילזל בכל קודש. שבת, פסח, אף יום הכיפורים, רחמנא לצלן. לעג והתלוצץ מהתורה ושומריה. לא לעולם חוסן, ויום אחד חלה במחלה חשוכת מרפא, טיפוס המעים רחמנא לצלן. כל באיה לא ישובון. אמרתי: הן סופו קרב, להספידו לא אספיד, אין מה לומר בשבח עוקרי תורה. וירננו, וילחצו, ויוקיעו. אלך לבקרו, להראות שאין בלבי נגדו אישית, אבל דרכו הרסנית.

באתי לבקרו, ומצאתיו מתפתל ביסורין. כיון שראני התייפח: "שהרב יתפלל עלי, שהיסורים ירפו מעט!"

הוא – מבקש שיתפללו עליו?!

עליתי לבית הכנסת ונשאתי דרשה. אמרתי: "כסבורים אתם שההתפקרות נובעת מחסרון יראת שמים? טעות בידכם! לא יראת שמים חסרה, כאב בטן חסר!"...

רק יקהו שניו – ויגנח ויתפלל...

("וימררו את חייהם בעבודה קשה בחומר ובלבנים ובכל עבודה בשדה את כל עבודתם אשר עבדו בהם בפרך" (שמות א, יד

הזוהר הקדוש (פרשת בראשית ובהעלותך) פירש את הפסוק הזה: "וימררו את חייהם בעבודה קשה" – זו קושיא. "בחומר" – זה קל וחומר. "ובלבנים" – זו ליבון הלכה. "ובכל עבודה בשדה" – זו ברייתא. "את כל עבודתם אשר עבדו בהם בפרך" – זו תיקו, ע"ש. לכאורה מופלאים, ומה משמעותם? מפרש ה"דברי השכל", ידוע ששבט לוי היה פנוי מעבודת פרך במצרים, משום "כל המקבל עליו עולם תורה מעבירין ממנו עול מלכות". ורק אותם שמאסו ביגיעות התורה, נתנו עליהם יגיעות עבודה, מידה כנגד מידה. וזה שאמר הזוהר, "בחומר" – זו קל וחומר, דהיינו עונש על שמאסו בקל וחומר. וכן בכולם.

("בכל דור ודור חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים" (הגדה

כתוב בספר "עבודת פנים" (עמ' נח אות ו): בתחילה כשרוצה אדם לחזור בתשובה, צריך שיסיח דעתו מחטאו כאילו לא חטא מעולם, ויתחזק ויחדש עצמו כבריאה חדשה וכתינוק שנולד, כמאמר הכתוב "ויגבה לבו בדרכי ה'". ועל זה אמרו חז"ל (יומא כט.) "הרהורי עבירה קשים מעבירה", כלומר כשאדם מהרהר ומתבונן בעבירות שעשה, זה יכול לגרום לו ליאוש וליפול לגמרי, נזק גדול יותר ממה שהעבירה עצמה גרמה. ורק לאחר שעבר זמן בלא חטא, יקיים "וחטאתי נגדי תמיד" (תהלים נא, ה) כדי שיהא לבו שבור, ויתודה על חטאו, ע"ש.

נראה בס"ד, שזה רמוז במה שאומרים בהגדה "בכל דור ודור חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים". מצרים מרמז על המיצרים והנפילות בעבודת ה', מצבים שהאדם נפל לרשתו ומיצרו של יצרו הרע. מהי הדרך לעלות מאותם מיצרים ולשוב לה'? הדרך לצאת מהמיצר, אפילו בהיותנו עדיין בתוכו, הוא לראות את עצמנו כאילו כבר יצאנו! על ידי שהאדם מסיח דעתו ממצבו השפל ומחטאיו המרובים, ורואה את עצמו נקי מחטא לגמרי – "כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים" – בזה יתחזק ויחדש את עצמו כבריאה חדשה וכתינוק שנולד. מפלתו של אדם היא בעצם ראיית עצמו תמיד בתוך המיצר, ושלעולם לא יצא. חשיבה שכזו היא בעצם מיצר יותר חזק מהחטא עצמו.

("ולמען תספר באזני בנך ובן בנך את אשר התעללתי במצרים" (שמות י, ב.

כתב הרמב"ן: וטעם "התעללתי", כי אני מצחק בו, שאני מכביד את לבו ועושה הנקמות בו. כטעם "יושב בשמים ישחק ה' ילעג למו (תהלים ב, ד), ע"ש. ויש להביא רמז לדבריו: "ויחזק ה' את לב פרעה" (שמות י, כז) עולה בגימטריא "התעללתי" (945). זה שה' חיזק את לבו, וממילא הכה בו שוב ושוב, הייתה הדרך להתעולל בו.

סוד הגאולה

הקב"ה נגלה למשה בסנה ובישר לו שרצונו לגאול את ישראל ממצרים. משה רבינו טען שבני ישראל לא יאמינו לו על בשורת הגאולה. מדוע חשב כן משה? נראה לבאר, ישראל ידעו שגאולתם ממצרים אינה סתם למטרת שיחרור מעבודתם. אלא רצונו יתברך בגאולתם הוא להתחבר עמהם – לתת לישראל את תורתו, ולהיות לו ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש. משה רבינו חשש שבני ישראל לא יאמינו שהקב"ה עדיין חפץ בקרבתם ובוחר בם לקבל את תורתו, שהרי שקעו במ"ט שערי טומאה.

כתב ה'בני יששכר' (מאמרי חודש תשרי), שביטוי למושג של קשר בין הקב"ה לישראל, היא המילה "לי". האות "ל" היא הגבוהה ביותר מכל האותיות, ומרמזת על הקב"ה שהוא גבוה מכולם. והאות "י" היא האות הקטנה ביותר מכל האותיות, ומרמזת על כלל ישראל, שהם המעט מכל העמים. נמצא שהמילה "לי" מבטא חיבור וקשר בין הבורא יתברך לעם ישראל. וזה עומק דברי משה רבנו (שמות ד, א): "ויען משה ויאמר הן לא יאמינו – לי", דהיינו שישראל לא יאמינו שה' עדיין חפץ בקרבתם – בחינת "לי" – שהרי נפלו לתחתית המדרגות, וכבר אין סיבה לגאולתם!

זו טענת היצר הרע, החפץ לנתק אותנו מאבינו שבשמים. הקב"ה אמר למשה בסנה "ואמרת אל פרעה כה אמר ה' בני בכורי ישראל" (שמות ד, כב). ה' יתברך לא המתין עד שיצאנו ממצרים ונתקדשנו בהר סיני לקרוא לנו בנים. אלא קרא לנו בנים עוד בהיותנו במצרים, בפתח כניסתנו לשער בהנ' – ובגלל שאנו בניו, חפץ בגאולתנו! מכאן תקווה לכל יהודי, באשר הוא שם, לצפות לישועה פרטית וכללית מה' יתברך. אילו היינו מרגישים כמה רצויים ואהובים אנו לאבינו שבשמים – בכל מצב שהוא – היינו מקיימים את מצוות "ואהבת את ה' אלקיך" בקלי בקלות!

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Need to locate a Young Israel Synagogue? Need the Zmanim in a partcular zip code? See our website www.youngisrael.org 

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