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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 7:21-8:3 & 9:1-2

MARCH 30-31, 2007 12 NISAN 5767

Pop Quiz: For how long may the meat of a korban shelamim be eaten?


"For seven days you shall eat matzahs, bread of affliction, for you departed from the land of Egypt in haste." (Debarim 16:3)

Most Jews can answer the question of why we eat matzahs on Pesah. But relatively few know the precise answer that is given in the Torah itself. The verse above quoted from Parashat Re'eh in Debarim says, "because you left Egypt in haste." Note that matzah does not commemorate only liberation - liberation is not even mentioned here - but it is to recall the haste, the rush in which we left. What was the rush? Rashi's commentary explains, "The haste was not yours, but Egypt's, as it says, 'And Egypt pressed the people to hasten to send them out.'" The Egyptians pressed us to leave before they all died from the plague. This is something new. The Torah is saying that the essential point of matzah, more than freedom, and more than miracles, is to remember the haste "all the days of your life." Why is this haste the most important thing to remember?

Rabbi Yisroel Miller explains that the answer lies in a clear understanding of the relationship of the Exodus and Shabbat. In Friday night kidush, we say that Shabbat is a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt. How is Shabbat connected to the Exodus? Shabbat is the reminder that the world has a Creator, but it is theoretically possible to believe that Hashem afterwards ceased to concern himself with it and put the world on auto pilot. The Exodus teaches us that the Creator of the universe is also the controller of the universe. Pesah gives life to Shabbat because the Exodus shows that Hashem is still involved. However, the question now becomes: Granted we need Pesah to testify to the involvement of Hashem, but why do we need the Shabbat? Once the Exodus demonstrated that Hashem is in complete control, why require a weekly reminder that he is also the Creator?

Sometimes you have a problem, and given the circumstances you are in, there is no solution. A loyal Jew seeking employment might say, "You, Hashem, can help me find a job, but there are no jobs to be found." Or, "I have faith that Hashem can help me find a marriage partner, but in this town, there aren't any potential mates." This is selling Hashem short. Pesah tells us that Hashem controls. Once we know that He controls, He creates. Hashem not only directs the flow but He makes the flow. If all the solutions to your problem are unworkable, He can make a new solution out of nothing. In Egypt, the same Pharaoh that said, "never," Pharaoh who warned Moshe, "Do not come to see me again," was the same Pharaoh who ended up running through the streets yelling, "Where is Moshe? Moshe, Aharon, leave, go, just as you said and bless me too.' The haste was from the Egyptians. It was they who hastened to comply with the word of Hashem. Hashem, the Creator, not only freed us, but He transformed the Egyptian will.

In Israel, for many years the Torah leaders have taken many public positions on important religious and political issues of the day. But surprisingly some of the most outspoken Rabbis never articulated a position on what Israel should do concerning its problems with its Arab neighbors. A suggestion was made that perhaps there is no logical solution to the situation but, at the same time, the Sages know that where no solution exists, Hashem can always create a new one. And if we seek to do His will, He will show us that He is not bound by the restrictions of the current situation.

We must do everything we can to deal with problems as best we can. But we must always keep in mind that Hashem has his own methods, and He can transform enemies into friends, swords into plowshares and Jews into holy people. Remember this "kol yemei hayecha - all the days of your life." Shabbat Shalom and Happy Pesah. Rabbi Reuven Semah

We say in the Haggadah 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


"This is the law of the burnt-offering" (Vayikra 6:2)

Our verse can be read : "This" is the principle of the arrogant person, the one who looks at himself as an exalted person (ha'olah). He constantly demands "this." He always wants things to be done his way without taking the needs of others into consideration.

An arrogant person always wants to have everything his own way. His thoughts are focused only on what he wants. He is totally inconsiderate of others. This trait causes much strife in interpersonal relationships. If two people in a relationship both demand that things must be their way, they will quarrel all the time. If such a person finds someone who is submissive to him, he will get his way but at the heavy price of causing another human being pain and anguish.

Be aware of the needs and feelings of others. Be willing to compromise on your demands of how things should be. While you need not always give in to others, when you take someone else's needs into consideration you gain spiritually more than you would have by demanding that only your wishes should be met. (Growth through Torah)

Ask Me Tomorrow

"One is wise and one is wicked" (Haggadah)

The Torah does not categorize the children. How does the Haggadah know which portion refers to the hacham (wise) and which to the rasha (wicked)?

A very important ingredient in observing Torah and misvot is Kabbalat Ol - submitting to the yoke of Hashem. A Jew must fulfill the misvot of the Torah whether he understands their significance or not. The wise person fulfills Hashem's commandments and afterwards studies and tries to understand as much as possible. The wicked refuse to accept what Hashem says as long as they themselves cannot find a rationale for it.

When the Torah talks of the sons, concerning two it says, "Ki Yishalcha Bincha mahar - When your son asks you tomorrow" (Shemot 13:14 and Debarim 6:20). Concerning another one the Torah syas, "And it shall be when your children say to you, 'What is this service to you'" (Shemot 12:26), without mentioning the word "mahar - tomorrow." A son who listens to his father and fulfills his instructions promptly and only mahar - afterwards - seeks an explanation, is either a wise son - hacham - or a tam - simple, but sincere. The one who, when instructed, obstinately refuses to act unless he comprehends the significance and who will not wait until tomorrow, is a rasha - wicked. (Ki Yishalcha Bincha)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Two days and one night.

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.

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