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APRIL 6-14, 2012 15-22 NISAN 5772


"This is the bread of affliction." (Haggadah of Pesah)

On the Seder night we open up the Haggadah and we begin the great misvah of telling over the story of Passover. Why does the first paragraph have to be in Aramaic? I saw a beautiful answer brought down by Torah Ladaa'at. The Midrash (Midrash Shir Hashirim) states that Moshe Rabenu's name is almost completely omitted from the Haggadah. What is the reason for this? After all, Moshe was a main player in the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The reason is that the Haggadah wants to emphasize the concept that only Hashem Himself took the Jews out of Egypt and did not use a helper to do it. Therefore, Moshe's name is omitted to teach us that only Hashem took us out. In addition to this, the Torah says, "I passed through Egypt, I, Hashem,. And not an angel." We learn now that angels are excluded from the miracles of Egypt. So even though we always invite the angels every Friday night to our home to join us for our Shabbat meal, we do not want the invite them to the Seder, in order to show that they weren't partners with Hashem in the Exodus. The paragraph of ???????????? is an invitation to the poor to join us for the Seder. The Sages wrote that invitation in Aramaic because the Talmud says (Shabbat 12b) that angels don't understand Aramaic and we don't want to invite the angels in!

The Ketav Sofer, in a similar vein, explains the question of the wicked son, "What is this work (service) that you do?" He means, why do you do all this work yourselves; you have servants that can do all of this work. So we answer him, "This is the offering of the Pesah that Hashem passed over the Jewish homes in Egypt." Hashem also could have used helpers; nevertheless, he saved us Himself. We also don't use servants and we do it ourselves.

How wonderful are the Jewish people on this holiday who dedicate all of their strength in the service of Hashem. Happy Holiday. Rabbi Reuven Semah

We say in the Haggadah "Arami Obed Abi" - that Laban the Aramite wanted to destroy my father [Ya'akob] and Ya'akob ultimately went down to Egypt. How did Laban try to kill Ya'akob, and what is the connection with Ya'akob going down to Egypt?

We can understand this by remembering that Laban was a very effective sorcerer, steeped in all forms of tum'ah (impurity). The Rabbis tell us that not only did Laban want to hurt us physically, but even spiritually, using magic and impurity, did he attempt to destroy us. He was able to affect us through his daughters Rachel and Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah, because some of his impurity was passed on to us through his children. Hashem, with His infinite wisdom, saw that the only way we would be cleansed from Laban's influence was to go to Egypt and work for all those years, thereby eradicating any trace of impurity from Laban. The Torah calls Egypt "kur habarzel," - the Iron Furnace, and the Rabbis say that the word "barzel" is an acronym for "Bilhah Rahel Zilpah Leah," thereby hinting that the furnace of Egypt was to purify us from any effect passed down to our matriarchs from Laban.

This answers another very fundamental question. We celebrate Pesah as the time of our freedom from Egypt, and thank Hashem for it profusely. However, didn't He bring us to Egypt in the first place? If so, why such gratitude for taking us out? According to the above, Hashem brought us to Egypt so that we would be purified and cleansed from Laban's influence, thereby allowing us to become His nation, untainted by any negative influence. We therefore celebrate Pesah with gratitude to Hashem both for bringing us down to Egypt and for taking us out. We should likewise have full appreciation for everything Hashem does for us, even if we do not see the good in it. Happy Holiday and Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And everyone who discusses the Exodus from Egypt at length is praiseworthy." (Haggadah)

Instead of saying that the person is praiseworthy, it should have said he performed the misvah in a splendid manner.

When one witnesses an unusual event it is common for the observer to recount it to his friends. As time passes on, there is a decline in his enthusiasm, until he finally no longer repeats it the way he saw. However, when a person or his family experiences a miracle, he talks about it his entire life. In addition, he conveys it to his children and his descendants continue to relate the episode which occurred to their ancestor.

The Haggadah is teaching that if in contemporary times one still discusses the Exodus at length, he is praiseworthy - of prime quality and pedigree. It is an indication that he is a descendant from those who were in Egypt and not a member of a family who converted to Judaism at a later date. (Ki Yishalcha Bincha)


Breaking the middle matzah

What is the significance of hiding the larger piece of the broken matzah for later?

The matzah represents redemption, since it commemorates the Jew's exodus from Egypt, when they ate matzah. Though we were redeemed from Egypt, we are still in exile anticipating the ultimate redemption through Mashiah. Putting the larger piece away for later indicates our belief that Mashiah will come and that when he redeems us we will witness even greater miracles than at the time of the redemption from Egypt. Hiding it alludes that exactly when this will happen is concealed from us, but nevertheless we are able to endure the exile because we live with the faith that his hidden moment will be revealed speedily in our times. (Ki Yishalcha Bincha)


"Why is this night different?" (Haggadah)

Where is there an allusion in the Torah to specifically the four questions of the Ma Nishtanah?

The words Tevillah, Umatzah, Umaror, Vehaseba- dipping and matzah and bitter herbs and reclining- have the numerical value of 737, which is exactly the numerical value of Vehaya ki yishalecha bincha machar- When your son will ask you tomorrow. (Ki Yishalcha Bincha)


"All who are hungry, let them come and eat." (Haggadah)

An invitation to guests is proper on all festivals, but it is particularly appropriate on Pesah. Various explanations are given. Among them are:

If this were literally an invitation to guests, it should have been made during the day or in the synagogue, not in the privacy of our own homes, after the Seder is already underway. Rather, this passage is a further illustration of why matzah is the 'bread of poverty." In Temple times, guests could not be invited while the Seder was in progress, because the Pesah offering could be shared only with prearranged participants. That we are now, at the Seder, still permitted to invite guests to join our meal is because, in our spiritual poverty, we have no Pesah offering. Thus our call to guests is to emphasize that we are in exile.

Pesah recalls not only G-d's kindness to the Jewish people, but also kindness that Jews extend to their fellow Jews. Our Sages tell us that the Jews merited redemption from Egypt because no Jew ever informed on another to the Egyptian authorities, no matter how cruel the persecution and how lowly the state of Israel. To the contrary, they made a covenant among themselves to preserve whatever they had learned from the Patriarchs and to render kindness to each other.

As we relive that special moment, we invite all people to join our celebration and share with them our bountiful blessing. Thus we begin our Seder with an act of benevolence. (The Sephardic Heritage Haggadah)


"Thus, it is our duty to thank, to laud." (Haggadah)

Why is it necessary to give an introduction explaining why it is proper to say Hallel this night?

The Gemara says that Hallel isn't said over a miracle which took place outside of Eress Yisrael. If so, the Gemara asks, why do we say Hallel on Pesach? The Gemara answers that this rule took effect only after the Jews entered Eress Yisrael, but before that it was appropriate to say Hallel over miracles that happened in any land. The Maharsha explains that the difference between a miracle which occurs in Eress Yisrael proper and one which occurs in any other land is that the former is performed through Hashem Himself while the latter is through an angel.

Since previously the Haggadah states clearly that the miraculous redemption from Egypt was entirely through Hashem and no one else, consequently, we say "Lefichach"- thus- it is proper to offer praise to the One Who personally performed miracles on our behalf, even though the miracles were outside of Eress Yisrael. (Ki Yishalcha Bincha)

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A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

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