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

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Vol. 17   No. 25

This issue is sponsored by
the Glassman, Schwartz and Chernick Families
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Dov ben Tuvia Glassman
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The Pesach Issue

Pesach, Matzah and Maror (1)

After eating 'Hillel's sandwich', we recite 'Zeicher le'Mikdash ke'Hillel', which describes how Hillel used to eat Pesach, Matzah and Moror in the form of a sandwich. We conclude with a quote from Beha'aloscho, which, discussing the Pesach Sheini, concludes "together with Matzos and Merorim they shall eat it".

It appears strange that we quote the Pasuk written with regard to the Pesach Sheini, rather than the Pasuk in Parshas Bo "roasted in fire and Matzos together with Maror they shall eat it", that is written in connection with the Pesach Rishon. The Rashash in Pesachim (115a) deals with this question. To clarify the difference between the two Parshiyos he explains, one first needs to understand that the word "together with" ("al") indicates that whatever it refers to is secondary. That being the case, the Pasuk in connection with the Pesach Sheini teaches us that one eats Matzah and Moror together with the Korban Pesach (not on their own). In other words, on Pesach Sheini (the fourteenth of Iyar), there is no Mitzvah to eat either Matzah or Moror - unless one eats them together with the Pesach. In the event that one brings the Pesach Rishon, when one brings the Korban Pesach, one also eats it together with Matzah and Moror (according to Hillel), and that is why we cite this Pasuk in connection with Hillel, who would eat all three simultaneously.

The Pasuk in Bo however, indicates that it is only the Moror that is secondary to the Korban Pesach. Indeed, min ha'Torah, Moror is never eaten on its own, only together with the Pesach. Matzah on the other hand, which is not preceded by the word "al" in that Parshah, is independent of the Korban Pesach. That is why Moror nowadays is mi'de'Rabbanan. Matzah is min ha'Torah even if one is not eating the Korban Pesach.

Granted, the Gemara in Pesachim (120a) learns this from the Pasuk in Bo "bo'Erev Tochlu Maztzos", but that refers to Matzah nowadays, when there is no Korban Pesach at all. The current D'rashah refers to someone who is Tamei or far from Yerushalayim (in the time the Beis-Hamikdash stood), who is Patur from eating the Korban Pesach. It teaches us that he is nevertheless Chayav to eat Matzah on its own - even when everybody else is eating it together with the Korban Pesach!


Pesach, Matzah and Maror (2)

The basic relationship between the Korban Pesach, and Matzah and Maror, and the major role played by the Korban Pesach at the Seider-table can be better understood with the explanation of the Maharal. Briefly, the Maharal explains that Matzah stands for freedom, and Maror for slavery; whereas the Korban Pesach stands for 'Hashem Echad' - and that both slavery and freedom come from Him. This explanation will add meaning to both the 'vort' that precedes it and the one that follows, and will help to put them in the right perspective.


The Korban Pesach

We find the Korban Pesach mentioned four times in T'nach - in Egypt (in Parshas Bo); in the second year in the Desert (in Beha'aloscho in connection with the Pesach Sheini); Immediately after entering Eretz Yisrael (in Yehoshua) and in the days of Yoshiyahu ha'Melech (in Melachim).


The Aruch la'Ner attributes this to the fact that the main objective of the Korban is to negate idolatry and to accept Hashem as the One and only G-d - as Chazal, commenting on the Pasuk (Bo 12:21) "Draw forth and take for yourselves yourself a sheep" explain 'Withdraw from idolatry and take a sheep of Mitzvah'.

And all the four above periods followed a specific laxness in faith (connected with idolatry) that preceded them. In Egypt, they had been worshipping idols for years and the Korban Pesach was the catalyst that helped them break that terrible habit (as we just explained).

The second year in the Desert was shortly after the episode with the Golden Calf; Their entry into Eretz Yisrael followed closely upon the heels of the shameful episode of Ba'a Pe'or, where the entire community was involved in worshipping Pe'or; whereas Yoshiyahu celebrated a vast communal Pesach after destroying all the idols and images in Eretz Yisael.

* * *

(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

The Kittel

Why do we wear a Kittel at the Seider? The Taz explains that we wear the garment in which one clothes the dead, to prevent the Simchah from going to our heads and causing us to become vain. According to this reason, a mourner is obligated to wear a Kittel too just like everybody else.

The Taz's reason is also the basis for the Minhag that a Chasan in the first year does not wear a Kittel at the Seider, the Kuntrus Acharon explains, since he has a Mitzvah to rejoice with his new wife, and the last thing we want to do is to dampen his Simchah.


The Cup of Wine

One should take care, says the Maharil, to drink the entire cup of wine (or at least the majority of the cup), in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of drinking a Revi'is of wine (by each of the four cups).

He adds that one should also remember to pour the remainder of each of the four cups back into the bottle, and then pour it back into the cup, to rectify the P'sul of 'Kos Pagum', though he concedes that there are those who permit pouring a little fresh wine into the cup in order to rectify it.


The Charoses

We do not recite a B'rachah over the Charoses, even though it is a Mitzvah, the Ya'avatz explains. This is because it is not a Mitzvah to eat it (only to dip into it).


The Zero'a & the Egg

Even though we do not eat the Zero'a (the shankbone, which is there to remind us of the Korban Pesach), we do eat the egg. This is because, over and above the Korban Chagigah, which the latter comes to commemorate, it also serves as a sign of mourning for the destroyed Beis-Hamikdash. This explains why the night of Tish'ah be'Av always corresponds to the first night of Pesach (See 'The Yom-Tov Time-Table [2], as the Remo explains).



A number of Poskim (including the Avudraham and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch) rule that one should lean whilst eating Karpas, though the Minhag follows the opinion that rules not to do so.

The literal translation of Karpas (which is an Arabic word) is parsley, and there are a number of Poskim who insist that one eats specifically parsley to fulfill the Mitzvah.

The problem is that it is not generally palatable, in which case one cannot recite a B'rachah before eating it. The Ri'az Margulies, however, mentions a number of places where a very palatable species of parsley grows.

Although one is supposed to eat less than a k'Zayis of Karpas (to avoid a Safek B'rachah Achronah), in the event that one did, one does not recite a B'rachah Acharonah - on account of the principle 'Safek B'rachah Lehakeil'. The reason that one avoids a B'rachah Achronah after Karpas is because the B'rachah before eating it is meant to cover the Moror, as is well-known.


A k'Zayis

The Ba'al ha'Tanya writes that a k'Zayis is the size of half an egg (notwithstanding the opinion that our eggs are smaller than they used to be). However, there are some who maintain that it is a fraction less than a third of an egg. And that Shi'ur will suffice for the Mitzvah of Moror, which is only mi'de'Rabbanan nowadays.

With regard to a B'rachah Achronah (e.g. 'al ha'Michyah') and Birchas ha'Mozon (not with specific reference to Seider night), which also require a k'Zayis, one should be careful to eat the size of half an egg; Otherwise, we will apply the principle 'Safek B'rachos Lehakel'.

One should also take care to eat the Moror quickly (just like one does with the Matzah), so as to eat the k'Zayis within the required time frame. Otherwise, not only has one not fulfilled the Mitzvah, but one is also guilty of reciting a B'rachah le'Vatalah (in vain)!


The Matzos Mitzvah

The reason for the Minhag to take three Matzos, the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos explains, is to commemorate the three Sa'ah of flour which Avraham told Sarah to take to prepare for his guests.

This event took place on Pesach, the Yom-Tov of Chesed (one of the meanings of 'Pesach' is to take pity). This also explains the association of Pesach with Avraham Avinu (Yitzchak is connected with Shavu'os and Ya'akov with Succos).


Breaking the Middle Matzah

And the breaking of the middle Matzah into two, the Da'as Zekeinim adds, is in memory of the Splitting of the Yam-Suf and of the River Yarden - two stages in the Exodus from Egypt and its ultimate aim of entering Eretz Yisrael.

We break the middle Matzah, the Minhagim comments, and not the top one. This is because if one were to break the first Matzah, then one would be forced to use the second one for 'Motzi' (since the Matzah over which one recites 'ha'Motzi' must be complete). By doing so however, one would contravene the principle of 'Ein Ma'avirin al ha'Mitzvos' (not to pass by a Mitzvah).


Eating the Two Matzos Simultaneously

And we eat the two Matzos at the same time, the Z'chor le'Avraham explains, because, on the one hand one is obligated to eat the 'Motzi' immediately, whereas on the other hand, if one eats it first, then one will have already fulfilled the Mitzvah of Matzah by the time one eats the 'Lechem Oni', and the main Mitzvah is to fulfill the Mitzvah with 'Lechem Oni'.

* * *

(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

The Yom-Tov Time-Table (1)

(The days on which the Yamim-Tovim can never fall)

Pesach can never fall on 'BaDU' - Monday, Wednesday or Friday;
Shavu'os can never fall on 'G'HaZ' - Tuesday, Thursday or Shabbos;
Rosh Hashanah can never fall on 'ADU' - Sunday, Wednesday or Friday;
Yom Kippur can never fall on 'AGU' - 'Sunday Tuesday or Friday;
Purim (of open cities) can never fall on 'ZeVeD' - Shabbos, Monday or Wednesday.

The reason that Pesach cannot fall on 'BaDU' is because, if it were to fall on Monday, then Yom Kipur would fall on Friday, which is not allowed to happen, because then if somebody dies on Yom-Kipur, he will remain unburied for two consecutive days, until Sunday, and will emit a foul smell - a contravention of 'Kavod ha'B'riyos' (human dignity). And it is for the same reason that it cannot fall on Wednesday, because then Yom Kipur would fall on Sunday, creating the same problem.

Alternatively, it is to prevent the vegetables, which cannot be tended to on Yom Kipur, from wilting after lying for two days.

Whereas if Pesach falls on Friday, then Hosha'na Rabah will fall on Shabbos, in which case, the Mitzvah of Aravah, which does not override Shabbos, will not take place that year.


The Yom-Tov Time-Table (2)

(The days on which the Yamim-Tovim do Fall)

To remember on which day of the week the major Yamim-Tovim will fall, one has merely to remember the 'Si'man' of A-T, BaSH, GaR, DaK, meaning that

The first day of Pesach ('Alef') always corresponds to Tish'ah ('Tav') be'Av
The second day of Pesach ('Beis') corresponds to Shavu'os ('Shin')
The third day of Pesach ('Gimel') corresponds to Rosh-Hashanah
The fourth day of Pesach corresponds to the day of Kinyan ha'Torah (Shavu'os [since a 'Daled' and a 'Kuf' are interchangeable])
The fifth day of Pesach ('Hey') corresponds to 'Yom Hakipurim
The sixth day of Pesach ('Vav') corresponds to the previous Purim. Incidentally, Lag ba'Omer too, always falls on the same day as the previous Purim (Orach Chayim 428:1).
The reason that Chanukah and the Purim after are omitted is because the months of Mar-Cheshvan and Kislev fluctuate (comprising sometimes twenty-nine days and sometimes thirty).


The Twelve Prophetic Days

The Seifer Agra de'Kalah writes that each of the first twelve days of Nisan (on which the twelve Nesi'im brought their inaugural sacrifices) acts as a sort of dynamo for the twelve months of the year, each day hinting to the major events that are destined to occur in its respective month. Those people who have a clear vision can see by scrutinizing with their good eye, exactly what will happen in the month corresponding to its respective day.

He writes that the Admur Yosef Yitzchak, with his holy spirit, would record on each of these twelve days what was destined to happen during the corresponding month. On the Pesach preceding his death, he concludes, the Admur recorded the events up to the month of Av. There he stopped!

* * *

(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 489:
To appear in the Beis-Hamikdash On Yom-Tov

Every male is commanded to appear in Yerushalayim in the Beis-Hamikdash on three fixed occasions annually. These occasions are Pesach, Shavu'os and Succos, about which the Torah writes in Re'ei (16:16) "Three times a year all your males shall be seen before Hashem your G-d".

The basic Mitzvah is for every man to travel to the Beis-Hamikdash together with all of his sons who are able to make the journey on foot, and to appear there. Included in the Mitzvah is the obligation to sacrifice there a Korban Olah, an 'Olas Re'iyah'. This Korban has no fixed measure; it may consist of a mere pigeon or a dove. The author has already discussed (in Mishpatim, Mitzvah 88 [to celebrate the Yamim-Tovim]) the three Mitzvos that Yisrael are obligated to fulfill on Yom-Tov - namely, the Mitzvos of 'Chagigah', Re'iyah and Simchah, each of which requires a Korban - a Korban Chagigah (a Shelamim), an Olas Re'iyah and a Shalmei Simchah.

A reason for the Mitzvah is for all of Yisrael to see and to take to heart, by means of the Korban that arouses the hearts, that they are all, from the smallest to the biggest, 'the portion' that G-d chose for Himself and His 'inheritance'. They are part of a holy and chosen nation, the plants of His testimony, the treasure that He has picked from among all the nations under the Heaven, to observe His statutes to fulfill His laws. That is why they come three times annually to His House, as if to say 'Here we are, G-d's servants, who have entered into the shade of His beam. On His strength we will rely forever, in our love and fear of Him. No stranger will come among us, for we alone are members of His household'.

This entire ceremony will serve to arouse our thoughts and to implant His fear in our hearts. We for our part will fix His love in our hearts, for which we will merit to receive His loving-kindness and blessings.

The obligation is confined to males, since they are the major members of G-d's household, whereas the little children and the women are secondary to them. And by establishing them as His servants, this automatically extends to all those who are under their jurisdiction.

And it is based on the same idea as the special Mitzvah of 'Hakheil', the gathering of all men, women, children and Geirim (proselytes) on the Succos following the Sh'mitah to the Beis-Hamikdash (Hakheil). Only there, the Sh'mitah year sets everybody free, and removes all forms of servitude from all of mankind, so that everything reverts to becoming subservient to the Master, the G-d of Hosts alone. That explains why specifically in that year, the establishing the men alone as Avadim will not automatically extend to the women and children. Consequently, they too, need to participate.

The author points out that he has another reason for the Mitzvah of Hakheil, which he will present when he discusses the Mitzvah directly (in Parshas Vayeilech).

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah . . . Chazal have said that the Olas Re'iyah and the Shalmei Simchah push away neither Shabbos nor Tum'ah. They do however, push away Yom-Tov, despite the fact that Nedarim and Nedavos are not generally brought on Yom-Tov. The author already discussed additional Dinim of the Mitzvah in Parshas Mishpatim in the Mitzvah of Chagigah (Ibid.), including to whom it does, and doesn't apply, and other issues concerning it.

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