Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg
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Yosef b'Reb Yitzchak ha'Levi z.l.
Ve'Re'eyoso Rochel bas Reb Ze'ev a.h.
The Four Nations
The Mishnah in Eilu Ovrin (the third chapter of Pesachim) lists four types of 'Ta'aroves Chametz (mixtures of Chametz that need to be destroyed [from the world - Bartenura]): Babylonian Kutach (a condiment containing moldy bread), Median beer, Edumian vinegar (containing barley) and Egyptian Zeisum (a cure containing barley).
Rebbi Eliezer Rokei'ach asks why, bearing in mind the cryptic style that Rebbi generally employs when writing the Mishnah, he chose here to list as many as four examples of 'Ta'aroves Chametz. Why would one or two not have sufficed?
He notes that, not only are all four adjectives describing the four types of Ta'aro'ves, names of countries, but that they also coincide with the four nations at whose hands we were exiled and from whose clutches we were delivered. And he therefore concludes that Rebbi incorporated a deeper meaning in the Mishnah. Rebbi was hinting here at a different kind of 'Chametz', he explains, and and a different kind of 'destroying'. In fact, 'Eilu ovrin ba'Pesach' refers to the destruction of those four evil nations, which took place (or will take place) on Pesach.
Kutach ha'Bavli - (whose numerical value equals that of 'Galus Bavel') refers to the death of Belshatzar, the last Babylonian king, whose death heralded the downfall of Bavel.
Sheichar ha'Madi - (whose numerical value equals 'Arur Haman ve'Yud Banav'), refers to the downfall of Medes (though it is unclear why Persia is omitted from the list).
The Tana does not include any hint to Yavan (Greece), since their defeat did not take place on Pesach. As a matter of fact they did not exile Yisrael either, and it is more than likely, that the two are connected, since all those nations that exiled Yisrael met (or have yet to meet) their end on Pesach.
Chometz ha'Edomi - (whose numerical value is equivalent to that of 'Bitul S'm [short for Samael], Sar shel Edom'), refers to the ultimate destruction of the kingdom of Rome, for which we long and pray each day.
Note that this Gematriyah counts each final letter as following on from the 'Taf', in which case the final 'Tzadik' in 'Chometz' is nine hundred.
Interestingly, the final 'Tzadik' also hints at the last of the four Galuyos, whose ultimate redeemer will be called 'Tzemach Tzadik'. Indeed, the word 'Tzemach' contains the same letters as 'Chametz', only in the reverse, because he will destroy the elements of 'Chametz' from the world.
Zeisum ha'Mitzri - (whose numerical value [including the five letters of 'ha'Mitzri] is equivalent to that of 'Galus Mitzrayim') refers to the downfall of the Egyptians. The reason that the Tana leaves Egypt until last, the Rokei'ach explains, is because Yisrael left Egypt prematurely, as is well-known. Had they not reached the lowest level of Tum'ah, forcing G-d to bring the Ge'ulah forward, they would have served out their full term of Galus, and left Egypt a hundred and ninety years later, never to taste the bitter taste of Galus again. And it was because they left Egypt early that they had to complement the missing years later.
Incidentally, this also helps us to understand why the Tana lists 'Pesach, Matzah and Maror' in that order, when one would have expected him to invert Pesach (which represents freedom) and Maror (which symbolizes slavery), or at least to switch 'Matzah' and 'Maror' for that reason.
According to what we just said however, the question is answered. Raban Gamliel deliberately ended with Maror, hinting that even though they had been redeemed from Egypt, that redemption was not destined to be of a permanent nature, and they would have to suffer Golus again later, to make up for the missing years of Galus Mitzrayim.
A Thing in Its Time
If the reason that we had to go back into exile after entering Eretz Yisrael was to make up for the hundred and ninety missing years of Galus Mitzrayim (see previous article), then why are we still in Galus today? Surely this Galus ought to have terminated after a hundred and twenty years (added to the seventy years of Galus Bavel), in the year 3931 (190 CE)? The answer to this question lies in the Pasuk in Koheles "How good is a thing in its right time!"
To be sure, had we played out the full Galus in Egypt, and left a hundred and ninety years later, we would have been free of Galus once and for all. However, now that we were granted an undeserved loan of early freedom, the repayment had to meet new conditions that were not originally required. It is like taking out a forced loan, which carries with it tough conditions and a high interest rate.
The original Galus had a time limit of four hundred years, irrespective of whether K'lal Yisrael were worthy or not. Subsequent Galuyos did not (unless one counts the year six thousand, by which time this world must end, as a time limit). The length of subsequent Galuyos would be determined by merit, and its extension by default. That was the price that we were (and still are paying) for not going through the Galus in its right time.
The Mishnah in 'Eilu Ovrin' requires Ta'aroves Chametz and Chametz Nukshah to be destroyed.
At a deeper level, all the commentaries interpret the Mitzvah of destroying Chametz as an obligation to search for the Chametz within (as well as the Chametz from without) with the light of a lamp. This refers to the searching and destroying of every vestige of pride, the main cause of false Hashkafos (non-Torah ideologies) and of sin, using the light of Torah to counteract it.
In that case, the Mishnah which orders us to destroy Ta'aroves Chametz is also instructing us to eliminate the mixture of good and bad that so typifies today's generation. We see Shemiras Shabbos on our right and Chillul Shabbos on our left, and good-heartedly accept both as if they were two legitimate ways of life. Indeed, we speak of Chareidi Jews and Chiloni Jews as if there were two brands of Judaism. A Rav gives the Torah Hashkafah regarding a certain topic, and a rabid anti-Torah proponent offers his view in the same sitting, or in the next column.
There is only one legitimate way of life and only one brand of Judaism (notwithstanding the many legitimate streams of Chareidi Judaism). Other ideas that stem from other sources are not alternatives and are therefore not acceptable - period. That is not to say that we must not tolerate any of the people who present these opinions. Many of them do not know better and must be treated with love and respect. But to come to terms with their philosophies and respect them? That is something else!
And it goes without saying that we must not tolerate such duality within ourselves. We dare not allow ourselves to jump on two threshholds. Like Eliyahu ha'Navi told the people 'Make up your minds. If Hashem is G-d, then follow Him. If Ba'al is god, then follow Him' (But don't follow one today and the other tomorrow!). That is Ta'aroves Chametz, and the Mishnah is teaching us the falsehood of such an attitude, because whatever is evil must be eliminated.
And what is Chametz Nukshah? 'Chametz Nukshah' is not real Chametz, only partial Chametz. It represents those deeds and Hashkafos that are not downright evil, but which do not quite conform with the Torah's way of thinking either. All too often, we are willing to make compromises for the sake of convenience, knowing that what we are doing is not quite right, by reassuring ourselves that it is not quite wrong either.
That is what the Tana terms 'Chametz Nukshah'. It too, must be destroyed, because a Jew has to learn to strive for excellence in Avodas Hashem. He must discard all forms of evil from his system and perfect that which is good. Or as the Mesilas Yesharim puts it - 'Yefashfesh be'ma'asav' and 'yemashmesh be'ma'asav'!
Commenting on the four expressions of redemption, Rabeinu Bachya in Parshas Vo'Eira (6:8) writes that Chazal instituted the recital of 'Sh'foch chamoscho' when pouring out the fourth cup, because G-d is going to feed the Resha'im four cups of punishments (as hinted in the four Pesukim in this regard written in Yirmiyah and in Tehilim).
The footnote, quoting the Chida, cites the Rashbatz who queries Rabeinu Bachya. He argues that if that were so, then we ought to recite it before pouring each of the other three cups, too.
The Chida replies that it is not at all inappropriate to wait until the fourth and last cup before reciting it. Having drunk the four cups of redemption, we pray to Hashem to spin the other half of the coin. We implore Him to pour out His wrath on the evil nations of the world, in a final act of retribution that has yet to take place, and for which we wait with eager anticipation.
Perhaps we may also refer to Chazal, who distinguish between Yisrael, whom Hashem punishes whenever they sin, thereby cleansing them of their sins, and the nations of the world. When the nations of the world sin, say Chazal, Hashem does not react immediately. He allows their guilt to accumulate, until such time as their cup is full, and then he punishes them for all the evil that they perpetrated and destroys them..
The Rashbatz it seems, interpreted the four cups as pertaining to the four nations that subjugated K'lal Yisrael. In that case, each one drunk their cup of punishment when their time came, and it would indeed have been more appropriate to recite 'Sh'foch Chamoscho' by each cup.
Three times, Moshe said to Par'oh "in order that you shall know - 1. ... that I am Hashem''; 2. "that I am Hashem in the midst of the land" and 3. "that there is nobody like me in the entire world". Interestingly, each one precedes one of the three groups that categorize the makos ('d'tzach, adash be'achav').
The Mahari Avuhav, interprets each one as pertaining to one of the three key fundamental beliefs (all of which Par'oh denied): The existence of G-d, His supervision and His ability, respectively.
The K'li Yakar elaborates. With regard to the first group of plagues, Par'oh, who worshipped the Nile, said to Moshe 'Who is Hashem ... ', so Hashem answered by turning it into blood. Then from that very same god, He produced frogs who acknowledged Hashem's existence by sanctifying His Name (as Chazal have taught with regard to their entering the burning ovens). Finally, He sent the plague of lice, which the magicians were forced to admit were caused by 'the Finger of G-d' (see Rashi 8:14).
With regard to the second group of plagues, Paroh denied G-d's supervision over each individual species, His ability to distinguish between the good and the evil within one species. So Hashem sent them wild animals, where He 'made a distinction' between the land of Goshen, where His people lived and where not one wild animal appeared ... '. By doing so, He proved to Par'oh that His supervision was absolute, even within one species. Likewise, He made that same inexplicable distinction between the Egyptian cattle, all of which died, and the cattle belonging to Yisrael, which did not. And that is what happened with the plague of boils, which resulted from the soot that Moshe threw into the air, and which settled only in Mitzrayim and not in the land of Goshen. Moreover, the Torah records that the astrologers were unable to appear before Moshe, because they were stricken (even before the people were). This too, Moshe told them, was an act of Divine Providence for backing Paroh until then and causing him to harden his heart.
With regard to the third group of plagues, Par'oh argued that even if there was a G-d, and He did supervise, He was not unique, because there were other gods too, who were just as powerful. There was the sun and there was the Mazel T'leh (Aires), which could match G-d's power, they claimed. So Hashem sent a powerful hail-storm that blocked the sun and the Mazalos (proving G-d's Omnipotence). And He repeated this by the plague of locusts, as the Torah itself testifies, and again by that of darkness.
And certainly the slaying of the first-born of the Egyptians who worshipped Mazel T'le, in its own month Nisan, was a sure sign that He reigned Supreme over all His creations.
Ya'aleh ve'Yavo - Never on a Shabbos
The Anaf Yosef asks why we do not recite 'Ya'aleh ve'Yavo' on Shabbos, nor do we even mention Shabbos on Rosh Chodesh or on Chol ha'Mo'ed, even though we are reciting it anyway. And he bases this on the Pasuk in Beha'aloscha (10:10), which, with reference to Rosh Chodesh and Yom-tov, ends with the phrase 'And they shall be for you a Zikaron (a remembrance) before Hashem ... ". Clearly then, the concept of 'remembrance ' pertains to the Mo'adim (Rosh Chodesh and Yom-tov), but not to Shabbos, which is not mentioned there. Consequently, when Chazal instituted 'Ya'aleh ve'Yavo', whose main function is to serve as a reminder before G-d, they deliberately omitted Shabbos from its text.
This is difficult to understand however, bearing in mind that the Sifra expressly interprets "u've'Yom simchaschem" (the opening words in the Pasuk in Beha'eloscha) to pertain to Shabbos?
In any event, the Anaf Yosef's question is puzzling. We do not recite 'Ya'aleh ve'yovo' in the Amidah of Rosh Chodesh Musaf or of Yom-tov proper (only at Shachris of the former, and on Chol ha'Mo'ed of the latter) either. The reason for this is because a Zikaron is only required in those Tefilos where the issues of the day would otherwise not be mentioned.
Musaf of Rosh Chodesh on the other hand, and all the Tefilos of Yom-tov, where the Tefilah covers aspects of Rosh Chodesh and Yom-tov respectively, no additional Zikaron (in the form of 'Ya'aleh ve'yovo') is necessary. By the same token, the Shabbos Amidah, which already talks about different aspects of Shabobos, does not require the Zikaron of 'Ya'aleh ve'yovo'.
'Ya'aleh ve'yovo', explains the Eitz Yosef, contains eight expressions of coming near, corresponding to the seven Heavens that divide between us and G-d's Throne of Glory. As a result of our sins, He removed His Shechinah from us from one Heaven to the other, until He arrived at His Throne, eight levels away from us. And we beseech Him to remember us via the eight divisions that now separate us from Him.
So we pray that 'Ya'aleh' - our remembrance should rise to 'Vi'lon' - the first of the seven heavens, the first barrier between us and Hashem.
've'yovo' - they should come to Roki'a (the second Heaven), which divides between the water that is above it the water that is below it. That is where the Yeshivah shel Ma'alah convenes, and that is where the soul (Nefesh) will return after death. "Boruch ha'bo be'Sheim Hashem" (in Hallel) refers to the Soul that arrives in the Yeshivah shel Ma'alah.
've'yagi'a' - and they will reach Shechakim (the third Heaven), as the Pasuk writes in Yirmiyah "because its judgement reached (noga) the heaven, and was lifted up to Shechakim". That is where they grind Mon for the Tzadikim who derive pleasure from the glory of the Shechinah (like Yisrael in the desert enjoyed the Mon, each according to his level). At the same time the Resha'im will be ground into dust there, to be scattered under the feet of the Tzadikim, as they had to scatter to look for the Mon.
've'yeiro'eh' - and they will be seen in Ma'on (the fourth Heaven), about which the Pasuk writes in ve'Zos ha'B'rachah "Look down from Your Holy dwelling place (mi'Me'on Kodshecha) and bless Your people".
And this conforms with the Pasuk in Re'ei "Three times annually all your males will be seen", because, as Chazal have said, just as one comes to see Hashem ( to bless Him [ke'vayachol]), so one comes to be seen (and to be blessed by Him). 've'yerotzeh' - and they will be accepted in Z'vul, the fifth Heaven, where they bring 'Zivchei Rotzon' (sacrifices of goodwill), as the Pasuk writes in Melachim "I built You a residence (Beis Z'vul)". This refers to the Mizbei'ach in Heaven, upon which the Arch-angel Micha'el would bring Yisrael's sacrifices before Hashem when the Beis-Hamikdash stood. Since its destruction, he offers the souls of the Tzadikim before Him, though metaphorically speaking, this means that he brings before Hashem a gift comprising the Souls of the Tzadikim and the children who did not sin. And they rise as 'a sweet smell' before Him.
've'yishama' - and they will be heard in Machon (the sixth Heaven), as the Pasuk in Melachim writes "ve'Atah tishma ha'Shamayim, Machon leShivtecho". And it is there, in G-d's abode, that our Tefilos are heard and accepted.
've'yipakeid ve'yizacher' - and they will be remembered in Arvos (the seventh Heaven, also known as 'Shemei ha'Shamayim), as we say in 'Modim', ' ve'al Nishmoseinu ha'Pekudos Loch', and that Arvos does indeed house the store of Neshamos. And this is based on the esoteric interpretation of the Pasuk "And Hashem remembered (Pokad) Sarah. In fact, 'Zechirah' amd 'Pekidah' are essentially one and the same, and it is the Neshamah that carries our remembrance and the record of our deeds before G-d, as the Gemara explains in Ta'anis.
'Zikaron' is mentioned here a total of five times, and 'Pikadon' once, corresponding to the number of times they are mentioned in the Torah for the good (the former, once in Va'eira and four times in Bechukosai; the latter, in Sh'mos).
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