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

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

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 13   No. 25

This issue is sponsored
in honour of the marriages of
Menachem and Leah Schwob n.y.
Moshe Yehudah and Ayala Lopian n.y.

Pesach Edition

All About Pesach

Hashem's Chesed
(Part 2)

If, as we discussed last week, Shabbos ha'Gadol means 'a Shabbos of Chesed', it is indeed a befitting prelude to the Yom-Tov of Pesach, which is based entirely on Chesed. Indeed, what is the Seider, if not an expression of the many Chasadim that G-d performed with us, beginning from the time that He chose our Avos and brought them close to Him.


The B'nei Yisaschar points out how David ha'Melech too, stresses these Chasadim in Tehilim, where he writes "To smite Egypt via their firstborn, because His Kindness is everlasting".

And, based on the fact that the aspect of Shabbos ha'Gadol is of more consequence than that of the tenth of Nisan (as we discussed last week in his name), he adds that G-d made a point of fixing the miracles of Shabbos ha'Gadol on the tenth of Nissan, precisely because it fell that year on Shabbos. Consequently, each year, we recall those Chasadim on Shabbos ha'Gadol, and not on the tenth of Nissan (i.e. on the date, like we do on other occasions).


We also discussed last week, the tradition which on the one hand, denies somebody whose enemies are miraculously destroyed, the satisfaction of being a firsthand witness to the event, if the miracle is being performed on the merits of others, but which on the other, waives this denial there where the miracle stems purely from G-d's Chesed.

The B'nei Yisaschar uses the same principle to explain the Pasuk in Beshalach (in connection with K'riyas Yam-Suf) "And Yisrael saw the Egyptians dying by the Sea-shore. And Yisrael saw the Great Hand which Hashem 'used' against Egypt ... ". Firstly, he asks, why are the words "And Yisrael saw" repeated twice? And secondly, why does the Torah use the expression "the Great hand" ('es ha'Yad ha'Gedolah'), seeing as this has connotations of Chesed, as we explained; whilst what they saw was surely the manifestation of the Midas ha'Din, and it would have been more appropriate to have rather inserted a term that has connotations of Din?

The answer is, he explains, when Yisrael actually saw the downfall of the Egyptians, they realized that this was not due to their righteousness, but rather to Hashem's Midas Rachamim on their behalf. And it was this realization that brought them to the highest levels of Yir'as Hashem and Emunah, as the Pasuk concludes "And Yisrael feared G-d, and they believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant.

* * *


From the fact that the Pasuk writes in Yisro (in connection with Shabbos) "Zochor es Yom ha'Shabbos" and in Re'ei "Lema'an tizkor es yom tzeischo me'Eretz Mitzrayim kol yemei chayecho", the Gemara in Pesachim (117b) learns from a 'Gezeirah-Shavah' (the same word ['Zachor' 'Zachor'] that appears in both places) that one is obligated to mention Yetzi'as Mitzrayim both during Kidush and during Tefilah. According to the Rashbam, this ruling pertains to Kidush and Tefilah of Shabbos (and seemingly the Rambam in Seifer ha'Mitzvos learns that way too).

This gives rise to two popular questions; Firstly, why Yetzi'as Mitzrayim is not mentioned in our text of the Friday night Amidah (though the Kol-Bo does insert it), and secondly, the Dagul Me'revavah's ruling that once a man has Davened on Friday night (and has fulfilled his Torah obligation to recite Kidush), a woman who has not, can be Motzi him with Kidush, since his obligation, like her's, has now turned into a Rabbinical one. But how can that be, they ask? How can he have fulfilled his Torah obligation without having mentioned Yetzi'as Mitzrayim in Tefilah, as we explained?


The Torah Temimah wonders however, at the above Rashbam. The entire Sugya is talking about the text of the Hagadah, Hallel and the Tefilos of Pesach exclusively, and not about Shabbos at all. So what makes him ascribe this particular ruling to Shabbos, when he might just as well have interpreted it in connection with Kidush and Tefilah of Pesach? Why can the Gezeirah-Shavah not be coming to teach us that just as one is obligated to mention Shabbos in the Kidush and the Tefilos of Shabbos, so too, is one obligated to mention Yetzi'as Mitzrayim in the Kidush of Yom-Tov (which the author proves is min ha'Torah too), and in the Tefilos?

And he proves his point from the Gemara's wording 'It is written here (in connection with Yom-Tov) "Lema'an Tizkor ... " and it is written there (in connection with Shabbos) "Zachor es yom ha'Shabbos Lekadsho". Had the Gemara been coming to teach us a Halachah concerning Shabbos, then he should have inverted the order of the Pesukim, referring first to the Pasuk of Shabbos as 'here', and then to the Pasuk of Pesach as 'there'.

Now that he inverts the order, referring first to "Lema'an Tizkor ... " as 'here' ... , it is clear that he is coming to learn Pesach from Shabbos, and not the reverse, like the Rashbam. Consequently, it is not necessary to mention Yetzi'as Mitzrayim in the Tefilah of Shabbos, and the two problems that we mentioned earlier fall away.

* * *

Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim

Erev Pesach

Ta'anis Bechorim

The firstborn are obligated to fast, explains the Levush, to commemorate the miracle of being spared when the firstborn Egyptians died during the plague of Makas Bechoros (even though they were barely more worthy than the Egyptians ['these are idolators and so are those']).

A firstborn baby that is born after midnight is not subject to the fast however (because any Egyptian baby that was born after midnight did not die, [Z'chor le'Avraham]). He is though, if he was born beforehand, says the Sh'vus Ya'akov, in which case his father is obligated to fast on his behalf. However, if the father himself is a bechor, his own fast covers his son's obligation too, says the Ateres Zekeinim, and it is not necessary for his mother to fast on his behalf. The Korban Nesanel disagrees with the Sh'vus Ya'akov. He maintains that any bechor who was born within thirty days of Erev Pesach is not subject to the fast. How can it be, he argues, that a father is obligated to fast on behalf of a firstborn whom he is not yet obligated to redeem? And what's more he says, it is a Chumra that leads to a Kula, since one is basically forbidden to fast in the month of Nisan.


Mayim Shelonu

Many people have the Minhag to bake Matzos specifically on Erev Pesach. A major Halachah concerning the baking of Matzos shel Mitzvah is the use of 'mayim shelonu' (water which stayed overnight). The Levush explains that, during the month of Nisan (when the length of the days and the nights are just about the same), the water from underground springs becomes hot during the night, but remains cool in the day. Therefore, to ensure minimum temperature, the water for Matzah-baking is drawn at the end of the day (after sunset), and then left overnight, to be taken into the house twelve hours later, before sunrise (even on a cloudy day, for so Chazal have said - on a cloudy day, 'the sun is everywhere').

The Shulchan Aruch ha'Rav adds that one should take care to cover the water on the way home (to ensure that no Chametz falls into it). It is customary, he says, to sift the water (in case some did) and then to cover it. Upon entering the house too, one places the water in a cold place. When carrying it to the house where the baking takes place one covers it again, to make sure that the sun's rays do not fall on it.


Not to Eat Matzah

Chazal compare someone who eats Matzah on Erev Pesach to a Chasan who has relations with his Kalah before the Chupah, who is overcome by his desires and cannot wait until after the Chupah, at which one recites Sheva B'rachos. Likewise here, someone who eats Matzah before reciting the seven B'rachos that precede it, is guilty of the same sin, since he too, cannot wait until after the seven B'rachos that precede eating the Matzah ('Yayin, Kidush, Shehechiyanu, Al netilas yadayim, Borei P'ri ha'Adamah, Motzi and Al achilas Matzah') have been recited. He too, like the Chasan, deserves to receive Malkos mi'de'Rabbanan (Levush).

Many extend this prohibition to the period between Rosh Chodesh and the fourteenth. This is based, says the Ya'avetz, on what we say in the Hagadah 'I might have thought that we start already on Rosh Chodesh; therefore the Torah says "On that day (the fifteenth)", at the time when Matzah and Moror are lying in front of you'. And for the same reason, he maintains, one should avoid reading the Hagadah on Erev Pesach, and even from Rosh Chodesh, as we explained. He is therefore surprised at the Minhag of Chutz la'Aretz, to recite the Hagadah on Shabbos ha'Gadol. It is obvious, he explains, that much of the enthusiasm of reciting the Hagadah is lost if one has already read it before (and the same applies to eating Matzah earlier).


Working on Erev Pesach

The reason for the prohibition of not working on Erev Pesach after midday, Rashi explains, is in order not to forget to perform the various Mitzvos that take place on that day (such as destroying one's Chametz, Shechting the Korban Pesach and preparing the Seider).


The Levush however, ascribes the prohibition not to work on Erev Pesach (in contrast to other Yamim-Tovim, where it is permitted), to the Minhag that whoever brought a Korban, would refrain from working on that day, like on a regular Yom-Tov. Since everybody is obligated to bring a Korban Pesach, Erev Pesach became a public Yom-Tov, and since the Korban is only brought in the afternoon, the prohibition on working too, is confined to midday and onwards.

The prohibition however, applies only to performing real Melachos in order to earn money (such as manufacturing new clothes), but not to repairing one's clothes in honour of Yom-Tov, nor does it apply to somebody who writes Divrei Torah whilst he is learning (Levush).


One should have a haircut and cut one's nails before midday. If one did not, the latter may be done after midday, the former may not (Chok Ya'akov).

* * *


Four Cups - Four Merits

The B'nei Yisaschar citing the Chida, links the four cups of wine to the four merits that earned Yisrael the right to leave Egypt. The first cup, he explains, corresponds to their not having changed their names ('They went down to Egypt as B'nei Yisrael, and that is how they left Egypt'). Therefore we recite Kidush over the first cup, and say ' who sanctifies Yisrael'.

The second cup corresponds to their not having changed their language. That is why we apply our mouth and our tongues to relate the numerous miracles and wonders that G-d performed on our behalf.

The third cup corresponds to their not indulging in immoral conduct (only one woman was guilty of slight misconduct in 210 years). Consequently, we recite Birchas ha'Mazon over the third cup, in keeping with the Pasuk in Vayeishev, which writes that with reference to the wife of Potifera 'only the bread that he ate was forbidden to Yosef'.

The fourth cup corresponds to Yisrael's not speaking Lashon-ha'Ra, which explains why over it we recite Hallel, which contains the phrase "Not to us Hashem, not to us ... Why will the gentiles say 'Where is their G-d'? Perhaps we can add that as a result of keeping our tongues pure, we have merited to sing Hashem's praises on this night (similar to the explanation that we gave with regard to the second cup).


Raising the Needy

The commentaries explain that we lift up the Seider plate before reciting 'Ho lachmo anyo' in order to encourage the children to ask questions.

The Mateh Aharon finds this explanation inadequate. He therefore ascribes it to the Medrash, which links the Pasuk in Hallel "He raises the needy from the trash-heaps" to Yisrael, who had reached the depths of despair in Egypt, when G-d lifted them up and gave them hope and dignity.

And it is with this Medrash in mind that we lift up the Seider-plate and announce 'Ho lachmo anyo' ... to remind us of the low that we had reached in Egypt, from which G-d raised us.



The question is asked as to why Raban Gamliel lists Matzah before Maror, when, bearing in mind that Matzah represents freedom, and Maror, slavery, it would, chronologically speaking, have been more appropriate to have inverted them? Some commentaries attribute this to the fact that, although Yisrael were destined to remain in Egypt for four hundred years (as G-d had informed Avraham), they actually left prematurely (after two hundred and ten years). Otherwise, they explain, Yisrael's level (already low to begin with) would have hit rock bottom, and they would not have merited leave Egypt at all. To explain how G-d could do this without going back on his word to Avraham (see Lech-Lecho 15:13), they point a. to the severity of the slavery and b. to the fact that, following Moshe's first visit to Paroh, Yisrael's work-load was significantly increased. As a result of this combination they achieved four hundred years work in two hundred and ten years.

It transpires that the extreme bitterness of the slavery worked in Yisrael's favour, enabling them to leave Egypt whilst it was still possible to do so.


Hint, Hint, Hint!

The commentaries refer to many hints in the Torah that Yisrael would leave Egypt prematurely. The first of these lies in Ya'akov's words to the brothers (who, without realizing it, were going down to Egypt to prepare the way for the Galus to begun) "Redu shomoh" ('Go down there' [rather than the more common 'Lechu']), whose numerical value is 210 (Rashi). Another direct hint lies in the words of Yosef, who said to his brothers "Pokod yifkod Elokim ..." (meaning that G-d will remember you and take you out of Galus). "Pokod yifkod" can also be translated as 'G-d will deduct 190' (leaving 210 [Seider ha'Yom]).

And yet a third hint is to be found in the Neginos on the words "Vayemoreru es chayeihem (And they embittered their lives)" (Sh'mos 1:14) - 'Kadma ve'Azla' (which means 'brought forward)', hinting that it is due to the bitterness of the Galus that Yisrael left Egypt early. But what is even more amazing is that the numerical value of 'Kadma ve'Azla' is (believe it or not) 190, so that 'Kadma ve'Azla' informs us, not only that they left Egypt prematurely, but it even lets us know exactly how many years before the due date, the Exodus occurred.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

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

Mitzvah 89:
Not to Shecht the Lamb of the Pesachas long as There is Chametzin Our Possession

It is forbidden to Shecht the Korban Pesach on the fourteenth of Nisan as long as one has Chametz in one's possession. The time to destroy it is until midday, as the Gemara in Pesachim (5a) extrapolates from "Ach ba'yom ha'rishon", "Ach", 'cholak' ("Ach" divides Erev Pesach, inherent in the word "ha'rishon"). And the source for this La'av is the Pasuk in Mishpatim (23:18) "Lo sishchat al Chametz dam Zivchi", which Chazal interpret as a command against Shechting the lamb of the Pesach as long as there is still Chametz in one's possession. The Gemara (63b) explains that the La'av incorporates the Shochet, the Kohen who sprinkles the blood, the Kohen who burns its Eimurim on the Mizbei'ach, and each and every member of the specific group that owns it.

A reason for this Mitzvah is based on the importance of the time factor in everything that we do, as everybody knows. That is why, when it comes to the Korban Pesach, which plays such a major role in the world of Torah and Mitzvos (as the author already explained in Parshas Bo), G-d commanded us to perform each and every aspect of it in its right time, to ensure that one aspect does not encroach on the other. And it is in this vein that He warned us first to destroy the despicable Chametz, and only then to commence with the Korban Pesach, which begins the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom-Tov (in keeping with the Pasuk in Tehilim "Depart from evil [first, and then] do good").

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah ... Chazal have said that the time to Shecht the Korban Pesach is after mid-day. In the event that it is Shechted earlier, it becomes invalidated. Its specified time may well be mid-day, yet Lechatchilah (initially) it may not be Shechted before the afternoon Tamid, which in turn, follows the burning of the afternoon Ketores (on the inner Mizbei'ach), and the preparation of the Menorah ... and all other details, are discussed in Pesachim (and in the first Perek of the Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach).

This Mitzvah applies when the Beis-Hamikdash is standing, to both men and women. Someone who contravenes the Mitzvah and who deliberately retains a k'Zayis of Chametz in his possession, no matter whether it is the Shochet, the Kohen who sprinkles the blood, the onewho burns the limbs, or any other member of the group that owns it, transgresses the La'av. Either way, the Korban Pesach remains Kasher.


Mitzvah 88:
The Mitzvah of Chagigah on Yom-Tov

It is a Mitzvah to celebrate on Yom-Tov. To this end we are commanded to go up three times a year to the Beis-Hamikdash, for Pesach, Shavu'os and Succos, in order to celebrate there, as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (23:14) "Three times a year you shall celebrate before Me". The Mitzvah, which appears twice in the Torah, comprises bringing a Korban and sacrificing it there as a Shelamim in honour of Yom-Tov. The Gemara in Chagigah (10b) informs us that Yisrael have been commanded three Mitzvos (in connection with Korbanos) on Yom-Tov: Chagigah, Re'iyah and Simchah.

A reason for the Mitzvah is because it is not befitting to appear before G-d empty-handed. Strictly speaking, He does not need our gifts, as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (3:12) "If I am hungry, I will not tell you". Yet in our mind's eye we imagine that we are standing before Him, and in fact we are closer there to the source of goodness more than anywhere else, and the light of the Face of the King shines on us from there. That is why it is befitting to come with a Korban at that time, because through the Korban one prepares oneself to become recipients of the Divine Goodness, and our Souls will become more and more elevated, as we shall explain later.

Some Dinim of the Mitzvah ... The Mishnah at the beginning of Pe'ah lists the current Korbanos among those that have no fixed minimum value, so that even one animal, bird (dove or pigeon) will suffice ... One is obligated to travel to Yerushalayim on Yom-Tov, together with either the prescribed Korbanos, or the money (but not goods to the required amount) with which to purchase them ... Someone who did not bring Korbanos on the first day of Yom-Tov, remains obligated throughout the seven days of Yom-Tov, until he has fulfilled his obligation, provided he himself is there on the first day ... and the remaining details, are discussed in Masechet Chagigah.

This Mitzvah applies when the Beis-Hamikdash is standing, to men, but not to women. A man who is lame however, or blind (even in one eye), sick, old or finicky to the extent that he is unable to walk on foot to Yerushalayim, is Patur from the Mitzvah, as is a Tumtum (whose male organs are covered over by a skin), an Androginus (someone who is bi-sexual) and an Eved. Every other male however, is Chayav, even if he has an unpleasant profession (such as someone who handles dog's manure for tanning, a copper-smelter, or a tanner, all of whom emanate a foul smell). These are obligated to clean themselves as well as their clothes, and then to appear in the Azarah before Hashem, who will welcome them together with everybody else. For it is the defilement of the Soul that causes man to be rejected before G-d, not his profession (provided he pursues it with honesty and integrity). Someone who contravenes this Mitzvah, and appears in the Azarah on the first day of Yom-Tov without a Korban, has nullified an Asei, and transgressed a Lo Sa'aseh, too, as the Torah writes there (23:15).

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

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

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