Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: MOADIM Category:HAGADAH SHEL PESACH Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Fri, 03 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Ha Lachma Anya: Rav Eliyahu Dessler - Celebrating Freedom With Poor Bread

Matza is called poor bread as it is as basic as can be, made simply from water and flour. Why do we celebrate with poor bread on the night we are celebrating our freedom from slavery?

Rav Dessler says that the fact we left Mitzrayim with just matza to eat and the fact that we slept at night in simple huts, in a Succah, was not a product of our difficult circumstances. It was not because we were on the run and in a desert. It was because Hashem created for us the ideal situation. Nothing is beyond the capability of Hashem and He could have provided us with mansions along the way, with fine food and good wine. Our poor bread and simple huts were our plight because nothing could have been better for us!

We were chosen to be a Holy nation, that means exhibiting and apathy for worldly pleasure and becoming driven and exhilarated by spirituality. "Yaeh Aniyusa LiYisrael", poverty is befitting of Jews. "Lo Nitna Torah Elah L'Ochlei Mun", the Torah is only give to those whose diet is the heavenly Mun. Only those who are nourished by spirituality can absorb Torah properly.

Maybe the continuation of the Hagadah is following through on this thought. "Kol Dichfin Yeisei V'Yeichol", all those who are hungry should come and eat. We are not attached to our food and are able to give it out to those in need with a happy heart. "Kol Ditzrich Yeisei V'Yifsach", whoever needs should come and partake in Korban Pesach, in our spiritual feast.

Hashata Hacha, this year we are still in the galus of gashmiyus. Next year we should be zocheh to be in Yerushalayim and live heavenly lives on earth. Hashat Avdei, this year we are slaves to our desires. LaShana HaBa Bnei Chorin, next year we should be free people, soaring unchained from our physical impulses that misguide us.

The whole purpose of freedom from Mitzrayim was to receive the Torah. "Ein Licha Ben Chorin Elah Mi SheOsek BiTalmud Torah", only someone whose life is all about Torah is a truly free man. Just like our ancestors over three thousand years ago, as we embark on our journey towards freedom on the Seder night, we begin by preparing our food for the journey. Matza the free man's bread. 

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 03:00:00 +0000
Maharal: Why Is It All About The Matza?

In the Hagadah we say that the reason we eat Matza on Pesach is because the dough did not have a chance to rise until the Melech Malchei HaMilachim appeared to us and redeemed us. Why is this so integral to the story of our redemption that Matza takes center stage and plays the leading role on Pesach?

The Maharal explains that the whole point of the ten makos and all the miracles in Mitzrayim was to teach the world, and Bnei Yisroel as well, that Hashem created and controls everything that happens in the world. Man is so egocentrical that despite all of Hashem's miracles and all our own shortcomings, we easily forget this point. Without constant reminders we oftentimes believe that we control our own fate and destiny.

So too the Bnei Yisroel in Mitzrayim, despite witnessing all the miracles, at the time of leaving Mitzrayim may have entertained notions that they somehow freed themselves through their own efforts. Therefore Hashem caused them to leave at a time that was clearly not desirable to them. They would have preferred to finish baking their bread before embarking on their treacherous desert trek. Hashem wanted to leave this mark on us for generations and Matza symbolizes what Pesach is all about, belief in Hashem.

Wed, 09 Apr 2014 03:00:00 +0000
Dtzach Adash B'Achav - The Secret Behind The Words The Hagada tells us that Rebbi Yehuda made and mnemonic to remember the 10 makos.  Was that all this is about?  Is there any significance in the words themselves?  The Otzar Divrei HaMeforshim brings a number of explanations for these words.

The Chavas Da'as explains that while we are happy to see the downfall of our oppressors the Mitzrim, since we are in Galus we need to be quiet about our happiness.  Dtzach is from Ditza, happiness.  Adash is a lentil which is silent and has no opening or mouth as Chazal tell us.  Dtzach Adash, our happiness at the seder should be done quietly so as not to make waves in Galus.  For this reason we therefore also perform signs of aveilus at the seder like eating an egg.  B'Achav, or B'Ahava means that we will continue to struggle in our galus with love for Hashem as we wait for the day of our final geula, when our happiness will be complete and out in the open.

The Hagadah Marbeh L'Saper from the son of the Korban Nesanel says that as part of Yaakov's purchase of he Bechor from Eisav, we had to suffer slavery in Mitzrayim.  The entire time Bnei Yisroel were in Mitzrayim they were unhappy with the deal that Yaakov made.  Only after they went out, were they happy.  Dtzach - only now were they happy. Adash - with the sale of the Bechor for Adashim. B'Achav - that Yaakov purchased from his brother.

The Nefesh Yehonoson says that the mishna in Brachos says we must give a bracha to Hashem for the bad just like we do for the good.  Dtzach, in time of happiness, Adash, in times of aveilus when we eat lentils, B'Achav, we accept them both from Hashem with love.

Tue, 03 Apr 2012 03:00:00 +0000
V'Hi She'amda - Rav Chaim Soloveitchik Walks The Brisker Streets With Faith In this very poignant piece of the hagadah as we celebrate Yetzias Mitzrayim in a bitter Galus we say "Omdim Aleinu L'Chaloseinu".  Rav Moshe Shternbuch points out that we don't say that in their hearts they desire to destroy.  Rather they are standing and waiting, poised for the kill.  Only Hashem holds back their carefully prepared plans.

He says that when Rav Chaim Brisker would see a non-Jew when he walked the streets of Brisk he would say, "He wants to hit me an he has the ability to do so.  Why doesn't he?   Because he is lazy!"  This, says Rav Moshe Shternbuch, is all part of "V'HaKadosh Boruch Hu Matzileinu MiYadam".  They don't have the inner drive because they want peace for themselves.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Chacham Ma Hu Omer - Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld - Yaakov Tricks Eisav With The Afikoman

We tell the Chochom, "Ein Maftirin Achar HaPesach Afikoman", you cannot eat after the Afikoman.  Why this halacha?  When Eisav came in for the Brachos after Yaakov had already left and asks his father to eat his food, Yitzchok tells him, "Ba Achicha B'Mirma Vayikach Birchasecha".  Targum Yonasan ben Uziel translates this to mean, "your brother came with Chochma and received from me the Brachos." 

Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld explains what the great "chochma" was.  That night was Pesach night.  Yaakov served Yitzchok the Korban Pesach and the afikoman.  When Eisav told his father to eat the food he brought, Yitzchok said he could not do so because it is forbidden to eat after the afikoman.  This was the great chochma of Yaakov which prevented his father from partaking in Eisav's food.

Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld adds that the Gematria of B'Mirma equals 287, the same as the word... afikoman.  (Hagdah Shai LaTorah Brisk)

Mon, 18 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Brisker - The Rasha, What Comes First The Kefira Or The Lifestyle? The Hagada tells us regarding the Rasha, "U'Lfi SheHotzi Atzmo Min HaKlal Kafar B'aIkar", because he removed himself from the tzibur he is a Kofer.  Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer asks shouldn't it say the opposite way around, since he is a Kofer he has removed himself from the tzibur?

He answers with a story from his Rebbi, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik.  A person who had left the Torah way came to Rav Chaim and said that he had a number of questions about Judaism.  Rav Chaim said to him that if he has questions, he has no problem to answer them for him.  However he doesn't really have questions, he only really has answers.  He has answers and excuses why he has left Yiddishkeit, cloaked in the form of questions.  However he left Torah because it was convenient for him and he merely concocted the questions to justify his actions.  Questions like that can never be answered to the questioners satisfaction.

This is what the Baal Haggadah says about the Rasha.  Since he has chosen to remove himself from the tzibur that keeps Torah in order to chase his heart's desires, therefore he is Kofer BaIkar.  His Kefira is only a justification for separating from the religious way of life and is not a real theological issue.

Mon, 18 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Brisker Rov - Why Hashem Owes Us

The Shulchan Aruch (CM 176:48) paskens that if two people are partners and one gets taken away for things done in the business, his partner has no responsibility to try to free him from his captors. The reason is that they are only partners for financial concerns and not on each others lives.

The Talilei Oros brings from the Brisker Rov, that this is the very reason why Hashem is responsible for the life of each Jew and why He was obligated to take us out of our bondage in Mitzrayim. Avrohom Avinu took upon himself to spread Hashem's name in the world.

This undertaking was based not on money but on Mesirus Nefesh. We became partners with Hashem with our very essence. Since this was the whole intent of the original partnership, Hashem has an obligation to see to our well being not only financially but down to our very lives.

Thu, 14 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Arba Kosos: Vilna Gaon - We Drink To The Four Worlds

The history of the world is divided into four phases, Olam HaZeh, Yimos HaMoshiach, Techias HaMeisim, and Olam Haba. This is alluded to in Shabbos davening.

Ein Aroch Licha... BaOlam HaZeh
V'Ein Zulasecha Malkeinu L'Chayei Olam Haba
Efes Bilticha Go'aleinu Limos HaMoshiach
V'Ein Domeh Licha Moshi'einu Lis'chiyas HaMeisim

It is said in the name of the Vilna Gaon that these four worlds are represented in the four kosos. The first kos is Kiddush. In Olam HaZeh we need to make ourselves holy and rise above the mundane world, to make the world Kaddosh as well.

The second is Go'al Yisroel which is the redemption of the days of Moshiach. The third kos is Birchas HaMazon which talks about Hashem sustaining us and granting life and alludes to Techias HaMeisim. The fourth kos is Hallel which is the purely ruchniyos singing of Shira to Hashem and represents the perfect world of Olam Haba.

Wed, 13 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya: Rav Shimshon Pincus - Growing Up From Black To White

Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya was offered the position of Nasi but was only 18 years old.  He went home that night and by the next morning his beard had turned white.  Rav Shimshon Pincus asks what is the significance of black or white hair.  Why do young people have black hair and old people have white hair? 

He explains that white and black are the only colors that are not colors in their own right.  Within the color black is every other color.  If a child uses every color crayon to scribble the end result is black.  White is the opposite.  It is pure and without any color whatsoever.

A young person who learns and does good deeds, it is entirely possible that he is doing it for a multitude of reasons.  Maybe he want Olam Haba, or maybe honor in this world.  Maybe he has aspirations to become a Rosh Yeshiva or maybe it will help him get a job.  He is represented by the color black.  His actions are a result of a hodgepodge of ulterior motives.  However and old man who sits and learns has none of the above notions.  On Olam Haba he has given up.  To impress the Mechutanim?  They are already dead.  A Rosh Yeshiva he won't be.  He doesn't even need to earn a living anymore.  Why does he learn?  Because a Jew needs to learn torah.  His torah is pure and white.

That is the meaning of the term "Alter".  This title is given to describe the purity of the Gadol's actions.  Rebbi Eliezer ben Azarya turned white at the ripe young age of 18.  He may have been young, and he may have had the most glamorous position around, but he and his beard were both white.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Steipler Gaon - A Seder In Bnei Brak The Hagadah tells the story of the great Tannaim who had a seder that went so long that the Talmidim needed to stop them for Krias Shema in the morning. The Hagadah tells us that this took place in Bnei Brak. Why was this detail so important?

The Steipler Gaon answers that there is a Machlokes between Rebbi Akiva and Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya whether the mitzva of Achilas Korban Pesach is until dawn in the morning or only until midnight. Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya held it was only until midnight. If so then he also held that the mitzva of eating matza and Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim is also only until Chatzos.

Being that was the case why did he participate in the Seder past the time that it was a mitzva? The Baal Hagadah tells us that they were in Bnei Brak and Rebbi Akiva was the Rov there and Rebbi Elazar accepted his psak during his stay there.

Mon, 11 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Avadim HaYinu: Zerah Beireich - Don't Make Chizkiya's Mistake

Afilu Kulanu Chachomim... Kulanu Yodim Es HaTorah, even if we were all wise... and even if we all knew the Torah, we'd still be obligated in the mitzva Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim. Why would we think that a wise or learned person is not exampt from this mitzva?

The Talilei Oros brings and answer from the Zera Beireich. After Hashem miraculously killed the entire army of Sancherev that was laying siege on Yerushalyim ruled by Chizkiyahu, Chizkiyau did not say Shira. Had he done so he would have been Moshiach and Sancherev Gog U'Magog.

Chizkiya's justification for saying shira was twofold. First the whole world already saw the miracle soShira which is meant to publicize a Nes was not necessary. Secondly Chizkiya's generation was totally immersed in Torah which Chizkiya felt exempt them Shira. However both these reason were wrong and Chizkiya was punished.

The Baal Hagada heads off these two arguments with regards to not saying the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim. Afilu Kulanu Chachomim, even if the whole world already knows the story we are obligated. Afilu Kulanu Yodim Es HaTorah, even if we are completeley immersed in learning Torah, still we must sing Hashem's praises for the great Nissim that he did for us.

Sun, 10 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shimshon Pincus: We Thank Hashem for the Rasha Son? After Moshe explained to Am Yisroel the mitzva of Pesach, the Torah says (Shemos 12:27) “VaYikod HaAm ViYishtachavu” they bowed down in thanks to Hashem.  Rashi explains that since the pasuk before says V’Haya Ki Yomru Aleichem Bneichem…” and it talks about the mitzva of Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim from father to son, they were thankful to hear that they would have children.  This seems strange says Rav Shimshon Pincus since that pasuk says the child will ask “Mah HaAvodah HaZos Lachem” and this is the question of the Rasha son.  Why would they be happy about hearing that their children will be Reshaim?

Rav Shimshon explains that after Yetzias Mitzrayim, Hashem became our eternal King whether we like it or not.  The underlying Bracha in this is that although we will be punished for our bad deeds, nevertheless we are stuck with Hashem and He is stuck with us.  When we stray, there are only two options; Tshuva or punishment but there is no concept of expulsion.  Hashem will always remain our loving Father no matter what.  Before yetzias Mitzrayim, a rasha was obliterated from becoming part of Am Yisroel even if they were children of the Avos.  That is why so many died before they went out of Mitzrayim.

When our Rasha son complains and laughs at our avodah, our mitzvos, our heritage, we tell him he is very lucky.  Had he done this in Mitzrayim “Lo Haya Nig’al”, he would not have been redeemed and would have been rejected from becoming part of the Am HaNivchar.  Today he is “in” no matter what.  Therefore says the Hagadah, “Hakheh Es Shinav” knock out his arguments and slug it out with him until he “gets it”.  Because even the Rasha is within the fold and will always remain so.  This says Rashi, was the beautiful Besura that Moshe told Am Yisroel.   At the Seder, let's raise our glass high and drink to that!

Thu, 07 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
HaLachma Anya: Rav Elyashiv - Inviting Guests When It's Already Too Late?

We begin Magid with HaLachma where we invite anyone who needs a place to eat to come in. First of all why is this part of Magid, what is the connection to Yetzias Mitzrayim. Secondly aren't we a little too late? Shouldn't this have been done before Pesach? Now we already drank one of the Kosos and no one is waiting around anymore.

Rav Elyashiv answers that we are not actually inviting anyone to our Seder. We are addressing our children when we say these words. Now is Magid and we need to teach them about Yetzias Mitzrayim. We need to teach them that Pesach is about freedom and becoming an exalted nation. It is about caring for our fellow Jew.

We were once beggars in Mitzrayim and were redeemed. No one should walk around outside like a beggar since as we say at the end of the paragraph, we were meant to be Bnei Chorin, free and upstanding people. That is the lesson that we start the Magid with, because that is essence of Pesach.

Wed, 06 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Mah Nishtana: Chasam Sofer - Reclining In The Desert "Vayaseiv Elokim Es Ha'Am Derech HaMidbar Yam Suf", And Hashem led the people a roundabout way through the desert to the Yam Suf.  The Medrash says, playing on the word "Vayaseiv", that from here we learn even a poor man must drink the four kosos with "heseiba" leaning.  What is the connection?

The Chasam Sofer explains that the pasuk says, "Vayotzei Es Amo Yisroel Mitochum L'Cheirus Olam", Hashem took out Bnei Yisroel from Mitzrayim to freedom from the world.  Even a king who rules the world, says the Chasam Sofer, is not free from the world and it callings.  He is a prisoner to his desires.  The wives of Shlomo HaMelech are a perfect example.  The ones who are truly free are the people who need nothing from this world like Rav Shimon bar Yochai and his chabura.  Nothing in the world ruled over them.

"Vayaseiv", Hashem took Bnei Yisroel out of Mitzrayim to such a freedom as the pasuk says they went to a desolate wilderness, free of all the trappings of the world.  This is the Heseiba the reclining in freedom that even a poor man can do just like a rich man, the reclining of real freedom.  On the night of Pesach "Kulanu Mesubim" we all leave our material desires behind and travel on a fantastic journey into a land of the chesed of Hashem, a land where there is no poor and there is no rich.

Tue, 05 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Dubna Maggid - The Sacred Sign Of Blood "VaOmar Lach B'Damayich Chayi VaOmar Lach B'Damayich Chayi".  The Medrash tells us that in Mitzrayim Hashem passed over each house and when he saw the blood of the Pesach and of the Mila he took each person and he kissed and blessed him.

The Dubno Maggid asks why does the Torah say, "V'Haya HaDam Lachem L'Os", the blood will be for you a sign.  Why does the Torah say "Lachem" for you?  This word is not necessary.  He answers that we find in Sefer Yechezkel that Hashem told Malach Gavriel to write the letter "Tuf" in ink on the forehead of the tzaddikim as a mark that they be spared from being killed, and a "Tuf" in blood on the forehead of each Rasha as a sign for the Malach HaMaves to mark them for death.  

We see that sometimes blood is a sign for salvation and sometimes a sign of death.  The Dubno Maggid says that the mark depends on what kind of blood is used.  If it is the blood is the blood, sweat, and tears of mitzvos with Mesiras Nefesh, this blood will serve as a shield during dangerous times.   If the blood, sweat, and tears is for the pursuit of evil like thievery, heavy handedness and dishonesty in business then this blood itself will mark you for devastation.  We see this, says the Dubna Maggid, since even the Bechorei Mitzrayim who hid in Jewish homes were killed during Makkas Bechoros.  The blood on the door did not save them.  The blood on the door with respect to them marked them as targets.  

This is why it says Lachem.  Your precious blood spilled for Hashem's honor will save you, and not just any ordinary blood.  "VaOmar Lach B'Damayich Chayi VaOmar Lach B'Damayich Chayi".  When Hashem sees your blood, he lifts you up and kisses you!

Sun, 28 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Dayeinu: Rav Chaim Zaitchek - The Secret Recipe To Delicious Mun, The Food Of Malachim "Sipeik Tzarcheinu BaMidbar Arba'im Shana", Hashem supplied us with Mun to eat in the Midbar for 40 years.  Rashi in Yehoshua (5:11) asks that we received Mun for 30 days less than 40 years, since it started on 15 Iyar a month after Yetzias Mitzrayim and ended on 15 Nissan in Eretz Yisroel.  Rashi answers that the bread we carried out of Mitzrayim became like Mun.

Rav Chaim Zaitchek asks since we know that Man was spiritual food how could ordinary material food turn into spiritual food?  He answers that the food we left Mitzrayim with was with incredible emuna and bitachon.  Mitzrayim was devastated and we turned the table on our sadistic captors.  And now we were just walking away.  We took our belongings and marched out following the call of Hashem to a dangerous barren wilderness without knowing where or what we were headed for.  We only had a thirty day supply of food.

We learn from here, says Rav Zaitchek, that ordinary food that is eaten with Mesiras Nefesh can be transformed in a spiritual entity.  A mere piece of bread can become the holy Mun if we have the right intentions.  We followed Hashem for forty full years and therefore we ate from His special food every step along the way, no matter where the food came from.

Sun, 28 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Netziv & Rav Chaim Kanievsky - When Did Lavan Chase The Bnei Yisroel Down To Mitzrayim? "Arami Oveid Avi Vayeired Mitzrayma", Lavan HaArami tried to kill my father and he went to Mitzrayim, says the Haggadah.  When did Lavan try to kill Yaakov and what is the connection with him going down to Mitzrayim, which happened decades later?

Rav Chaim Kanievsky answers that after Lavan chased Yaakov after his getaway, he was warned in a dream not to harm him.  Lavan then sent messengers to Eisav that Yaakov was coming and Eisav should kill him.  The reason why Eisav did not kill Yaakov was because he did not want to be the one to go down to Mitzrayim like Hashem told Avrohom in the Bris Bein HaBesarim.  Rather Eisav commanded his grandson to kill Bnei Yisroel after they leave Mitzrayim and the debt is all paid.  The Baal Hagadah is hinting this to us by saying that Lavan wanted to kill Yaakov but his plan failed because his hit man Eisav refused, since either he or Yaakov had to go down to Mitzrayim.

The Netziv in the Hemek Davar says that the gemara Pesachim (87b) says that the Yehudim were destined to go to Galus in Aram, but Hashem knew their cruelty so in His mercy He sent us to Bavel instead.  Yaakov as well was destined to go into a long Galus in Aram.  It started for him when he went to Lavan's house.  However when Hashem saw, "Arami Oveid Avi", that Lavan wanted to totally destroy Yaakov, "VaYeired Mitzrayma", there was a change of plan and instead Yaakov went to Mitzrayim.

Thu, 25 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
V'Hi Sheamda: Klausenberger Rebbe - Why Do We Hold Up The Wine? In V'Hi Sheamda we talk about how in each generation we face annihilation and our saving grace is that Hashem rescues us time and again.  Why do we hold up a cup of wine as we describe this difficult phenomenon?  Another question all the Meforshim ask is what is the "V'hi" that stood up for us in each generation?

The Talilei Oros brings from the Klausenberger Rebbe that the gemara in Eiruvin (65a) says that since the pasuk compares us in galus to drunkards who have lost their way and don't know what they are doing, we are therefore theoretically excused for all our aveiros since we are not of sound mind.  We have strayed so far we don't know the way back, nor do we even know that we are lost.  We surely don't understand the severity of our plight and the anguish that this long bitter galus and our indifference is causing Hashem.

The Klausenberger Rebbe explains that we hold up the wine and say, although we have sinned and deserve to be wiped out in each generation, it is only because we are drunk from our troubles.   Therefore we are not responsible for our actions.  This is the V'hi that stands up for us.  This is why Hakadosh Boruch Hu Matzileinu M'Yadam. 

Thu, 25 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Amar Rebbi Elazar -Why Was Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya Up All Night? Right in middle of the Hagadah we say the Mishna discussing Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya's shitta that Yetzias Mitzrayim is a mitzva every night as well as by day.  What does this have to do with the Hagadah, and why now?

The Otzeir Divrei Meforshim brings the Smicha LaChaim who answers this question with another question.  Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya held that the mitzva of Korban Pesach is only until Chatzos.  Therefore according to Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya the mitzva of V'Higadita L'Bincha, to retell your children the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim, is also only until Chatzos.  If so in the previous paragraph in the hagadah why was he awake the entire night until Zman Krias Shema with the other Tana'im in Bnei Brak, if there was no mitzva.

To answer this, the Ba'al Hagadah tells us that although the Mitzva of V'Higadita is not after chatzos, Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya held that there is a mitzva of Zechiras Yetzias Mitzrayim every night of the year.  This mitzva is during the entire night even after chatzos.  That is why Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya stayed around all night with his colleagues.

Wed, 24 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Klausenberger Rebbe - Rebbi Elazar Ben Azarya Believed In The Night Rebbi Elazar ben Azarya held for years, against the opinion of his day, that there was a mitzva to remember Yetzias Mitzrayim at night.  The Klausenberger Rebbe says that Rebbi Elazar ben Azarya put this underlying principal into use in another place.

The gemara in Brachos (28a) says that the day Rebbi Elazar ben Azarya was appointed Nasi he relaxed the strict entrance requirements to the Yeshiva that were enacted by Rabban Gamliel.  Rabban Gamliel required that each talmid be Tocho K'Baro, his deepest insides must be as pure as the appearance he gives to the outside world.  Rebbi Elazar ben Azarya allowed in even unworthy students and suddenly the Bais Medrash was full way beyond capacity.  The Klausenberger Rebbe says that Rebbi Elazar ben Azarya learned this from Yetzias Mitzrayim, where Hashem took Bnei Yisroel out even though they themselves were badly sullied with the tumah of Mitzrayim.  

According to Rebbi Elazar ben Azarya the Torah demands that we remember Yetzias Mitzrayim even "BaLeilos", even it the dark of the night.   Before the light of Torah is shining on a person we must have compassion on him just like Hashem had compassion us.  Because of this Rebbi Elazar ben Azarya let in everyone, even the ones whose minds and behavior had not seen the light of day, to expose them the shining light of Torah.

Tue, 23 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Why Isn't Moshe Rabbeinu's Name Mentioned In The Hagada? Vilna Gaon, Kli Chemda, Yichi Reuven Moshe Rabbeinu was the Shaliach of Hashem and the human hero in the story o Yetzias Mitzrayim.  How could ti be that on the night that we regale in telling the story Moshe Rabbeinu's name is completely absent?

The Vilna Gaon answers that the only real force behind Yetzias Mitzrayim was Hashem.  On this night it is forbidden to speak about Moshe's role as if he were a partner to Hashem.  

The Yichi Reuven answers that the first retelling of the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim was in the Midbar by Moshe Rabbeinu himself.  In his incredible modesty he did not mention his own name, only HaKadosh Boruch Hu.  Moshe's version of the story was passed down from generation to generation and therefore his name is omitted.

The Kli Chemda answers that in Mitzrayim there were two redemptions, the Geulas HaGuf and the Geulas HaNefesh.  While Moshe was the key player in physically releasing Bnei Yisroel from the iron grip of Paroh, it was Hashem who redeemed us from our spiritual bondage.  Today we are still in Galus but we celebrate our spiritual freedom.  That story is about Hashem and not Moshe.  

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Kozhnitzer Maggid - A Rasha's Teeth Has No Bite The Rasha asks Ma HaAvodah Hazos Lachem.  The Maggid of Kozhnitz (Parshas Bo) explains the question of the Rasha as follows.  There are people who as they say in America have a strict division between religion and state.  With regard to spiritual matters they do all the formal mitzvos, daven, and even learn.  However when it comes to their physical needs such as eating and drinking, they don't see any religious importance attached to that.  Religion to them, only influences typically religious matter.

When they see the Seder table set up with wine and matza they ask, if this is a spiritual event why all the food and drink?  They don't acknowledge that every bite a person takes in his life is also a religious experience and not simply an animalistic act.

Our response to him is to knock out his teeth, to tell him that since he does not believe that eating is an Avodas Kodesh and only physical pleasure, his eating is a waste of good food.  We therefore knock out his teeth to spare the food and not have him waste his time and resources on mundane activity.

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Avadim Hayinu: Chasam Sofer - Which Part Of The Hagadah Interests You? The Hagadah tells us, "Afilu Kulanu Chachomim... Mitzva Aleinu L'Saper B'Yetzias Mitzrayim."  Yetzias Mitzrayim had two aspects, says the Chasam Sofer.  Firstly we were freed from centuries of oppression and torment.  However that is not the main cause of our celebration.  The greatness of Mitzrayim is that we left to become a nation and receive Hashem's Torah.

The ordinary people who do not appreciate Matan Torah use Pesach night to celebrate our release from bondage, the "Inui" Mitzrayim.  However the Chachomim and Nevonim, those who know the whole Torah, their Mitzva is to celebrate the "Yetzia" from Mitzrayim.  They celebrate the exit that led them to Har Sinai.

Thu, 18 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Mah Nishtana: Rav Avrohom Danzig of Vilna - Tonight We Dip Twice On Pesach night at the Seder we dip the Karpas in saltwater to remind us of the tears we cried over the hard labor.  We also dip the Maror in Charoses to dull the bitterness so we don't get sick.  In the Ma Nishtana though we make a point to say we dip twice.  Since these two are not related why do we make a point of saying that we dip twice?

Many Meforshim explain the Ma Nishtana to be a single question regarding our contradictory behavior at the seder.  At times we act like slaves and at times like kings.  Based on this we can answer this question with the answer of Rav Avrohom Danzig (author of the Chayei Adam).  He says that we dip twice to remember the dipping that caused Galus Mitzrayim, when the Shevatim dipped Yosef's Kisones Pasim in goat blood, and also to remember the dipping that gave us the zechus to go out of Mitzrayim, the dipping of the Eizov into the blood of the Korban Pesach on the night of Yetzias Mitzrayim.

Here again we see that the night of Leil HaSeder is commemorated by both symbols of slavery and symbols of freedom.  These are the two contradictory dips that we ask about.

Wed, 17 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Ha Lachma Anya: Rav Sholom Schwadron - Bread For You, Meat for The Guest We start Magid with "Ha Lachma Anya", this is the poor bread that we will eat tonight.  Then we say "Kol Ditzrich Yeisei Viyifsach" whoever needs should come and partake in our delicious roasted lamb.  

Rav Shalom Schwadron says that this teaches us that while we must be satisfied with a piece of dried out bread, our guest must be treated to fine delicacies.  He brings the Alshich who says (Vayechi 49:20), "MeiAsher Sheima Lachmo", Asher eats bread and oil.  "V'Hu Yitein Maadanei Melech", but he serves the delicacies of the king to his guest.  

More than that says Rav Sholom, when will you be zocheh to serve your guest a king's feast, only when "shmeina Lachmo" you piece of bread is like fine food in your eyes and you are very satisfied with it alone.  This is what the gemara says (Brachos 17a), the whole world eats in the zchus of Rebbi Chanina ben Dosa yet he himself is satisfied with a small measure of carob for the entire week.  Rav Shalom says that precisely because he was satisfied with a little carob, the world was supported in his merit.

Tue, 16 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Wars of Mitzrayim and How The Trouble In Mitzrayim Started The serious trouble for Bnei Yisroel started, says the Torah, when Paroh said to his advisors that he was scared Bnei Yisroel would join his enemies and chase him from Mitzrayim.  Why suddenly did he get worried?  Which enemies?  There is a long backdrop to this fateful gathering of Paroh and his advisors that spans many years and many wars among the various powers in the region.  They include Bnei Eisav, the King of Africa, Tzfo of Kitim and three Parohs.  

The Medrash Sefer HaYashar recounts how the trouble started many years before when Bnei Yisroel went to Eretz Yisroel to bury Yaakov.  During the burial, a war broke out with Bnei Eisav that led to Eisav’s death at the hands of Chushim.  During this war one hundred Bnei Eisav were killed and fifty men were captured and taken to Mitzrayim.  Among the captives was Tzfo the son of Elifaz the son of Eisav.  In an effort to save Tzfo, Bnei Eisav together with the Bnei Chori went to Mitzrayim to wage war.   Yosef and his brothers decimated the Bnei Eisav and their allies killing over six hundred thousand people.  This left Eisav in disarray and led to numerous civil wars in the area, which further hurt Bnei Eisav.  

It was only over thirty years later when Bnei Eisav under their King Bela Ben B’or tried again to attack Yosef in Mitzrayim.  Yosef and six hundred people met the enemy army of over eight hundred thousand Bnei Eisav and their allies in Ramseis to wage war.   Once again Yosef’s armies destroyed Eisav killing their King and two hundred thousand soldiers.  This ended Eisav’s attempts to battle Yosef and save Tzfo.

Another twenty years later Tzfo finally managed to escape Mitzrayim to Africa where he was welcomed with honor by King Angias and appointed General of his army.  Tzfo proved to be an excellent General and helped Angias win some key wars including a war with Torgos over the beautiful princess of Kitim who Angias and Torgos both wanted for a Queen.  Despite all of Tzfo’s success he could not persuade Angias to wage war on Mitzrayim and Yosef, which was Tzfo’s great desire.  After losing all hope Tzfo ran away to Kitim.  Shortly afterward Angias’s troops came to battle Kitim and loot it as they frequently did.  This time however Tzfo stood at the head of the battle and successfully repelled the attack.  After this heroic victory the people of Kitim crowned Tzfo as their King.

After many years of battle by Bnei Eisav in their region with Moav and Midyan and the battles between Angias and Tzfo things quieted down and Tzfo became a superpower.   He then turned his focus to revenge on Mitzrayim and Bnei Yisroel especially since Yosef and all the Shevatim had passed away.    He convinced Hadad king of Eisav to join forces with him.  

Meanwhile in Mitzrayim, Malol the son of Migrom who was raised by Yosef became the new Paroh.  Malol was from the generation after Yosef and did not have any allegiance to him like his father did.  It was he who started the persecution of Bnei Yisroel.  Faced with the imminent attack of Tzfo and Hadad on Mitzrayim, Paroh gathered three hundred thousand Mitzriyim to fight against them.  He also drafted one hundred and fifty man from Bnei Yisroel, but worrying about their allegiance to their uncle Eisav he did not let them fight together with his own troops.  He stationed them near the battle only to be called in case of emergency.  

On the battlefield Tzfo and Hadad had the upper hand killing one hundred and eighty Mitzri soldiers.  At this point the Mitzriyim called for the help of Bnei Yisroel.  And help they did.  Crying to Hashem for salvation in this suicidal war, Bnei Yisroel in fierce battle, killed four thousand enemy soldiers and the rest began to flee.  Fearing this heated battle, the Mitri soldiers hid while Bnei Yisroel chased the enemy all the way to Kush.  On their way back from Kush Bnei Yisroel avenged the Mitzriyim for abandoning them.  They killed two hundred Mitriyim that they found along the road.

After this amazing show of force by the Bnei Yisroel, Paroh got scared and gathered his advisors….

Wed, 08 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Tzei U'Lmad: Vilna Gaon - You Have No Idea Go learn what Lavan wanted to do to us, says the Hagadah.  What does this have to do with the hagadah?  And what terrible things do we find that he wanted to do?

Rav Moshe Shternbuch brings the Vilna Gaon who says that this piece is a continuation of V'Hi She'amda.  We end V'Hi She'amda by saying that every generation the non-Jews want to destroy us but Hashem saves us.  Yet we see that Klal Yisroel often lives through peaceful and tranquil periods?  To this the Ba'al Hagadah tells us that we are sorely mistaken.  Look at Yaakov and Lavan.  When Yaakov ran away, Lavan came chasing him just to say good-bye, hug his grandchildren, and lament that he couldn't throw him a lavish good-bye party with a big orchestra, in Lavan's own words.  Yet we know the truth that Lavan hated him and chased him to kill him.  But in the middle of the night Hashem appeared to Lavan and warned him against causing Yaakov the slightest harm.

From here we see, says the Vilna Gaon, that in every generation even our best friends and protectors despise us and would prefer to destroy us.  Sometimes their plans are known to us and sometimes they are hidden behind a veil of friendship. Even if we foolishly think that it is our master diplomacy and great contribution to society that keeps us in their good graces, go look at Lavan who Yaakov turned into a very rich man and treated him with the utmost respect, to no avail as his jealousy and hate burned within him.  Learn from this that in every single generation without exception, it is only Hashem that protects us.

Wed, 08 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Chidushei HaRim - Why Borrow the Money and Not Take It Outright? Hashem promised that Bnei Yisroel would leave Mitzrayim with great wealth.  Why “borrow” it from neighbors?  Could Hashem not figure out, among all his other miraculous wonders, a way for them to get it outright?  True it was never going back to the Mitzriyim but why have this debt hanging over their heads?  Besides Chazal tell us that these riches were their salary that they were owed for all the years of work.

The Chidushei HaRim answers that these were poor deprived people living like slaves for generations.  Too much money is no good for anyone and certainly not the instant wealth that this windfall created.  Hashem used this borrowing scheme as a psychological tool to help keep Bnei Yisroel well grounded.  True they got all the money and finally tasted the feeling of being rich but on the other hand they would not get too comfortable since they knew that it wasn’t really theirs and they would have to give it back. (Hagadah Otzar HaMedrashim)

Wed, 08 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Dayeinu: Maharal Tzintz - Har Sinai Without The Torah? In Dayeinu we say that had Hashem brought us before Har Sinai but not given us the Torah it would have been sufficient. What would be the point?  Why are we so quick to forgo the torah and its mitzvos?

The Otzar Divrei HaMeforshim brings the Maharal Tzintz answers that the remez to 613 mitzvos is from the pasuk Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe.  Torah is b'gematria Taryag/613.  The gemara ask that torah only equals 611.  It answers that Moshe gave 611 the other two, Anochi and Lo Yihiyeh, Hashem said on Har Sinai Himself.

The Maharsha says that within the two mitzvos of Anochi and Lo Yihiyeh are included all the other 611.  Therefore if Hashem had brought us to Har Sinai and told us those two mitzvos but Moshe would not have given us the torah, it would have been sufficient.

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
SheEino Yodei'a Lishol - What Do We Want From Such Little Kids?

On pesach every child needs to be involved so we do all sorts of extraordinary things that we don't do during the year just so the children ask.  And if they are too little to comprehend these changes or don't have the capacity to open their mouths and ask "At P'sach Lo", we put the questions in their mouths.  If they are too young to make even this minimum effort of asking, why do we bother with them at all?  Even for Chinuch the children need to be old enough to participate in the mitzva.  Why not wait until next year when they develop and mature?

The Otzar Divrei HaMeforshim brings from Rav Moshe Rappaport of Keidan that we insist on their participation since many of the harshest decrees in Mitzrayim were directed towards these young children and many of the miracles were to save them.  He lists seven decrees.

1.  Husbands and their wives were separate to prevent children from being born
2.  A baby boy was killed during delivery
3.  The boys were thrown into the river
4.  They plastered the children into the building walls
5.  They were slaughtered to let Paroh bathe in their blood to cure his Tzora'as
6.  They were thrown into the iron melting pot
7.  The mother's miscarried while assisting their husbands in making the bricks for building

 Just like we use the rule that women are obligated in a Mitzva where they were part of the Nes, so too these little children are very much a part of Pesach and we help them if they are unable to help themselves. 

Mon, 06 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Chochom Ma Hu Omer: Rav Yechezkel Sarna - Why Do We Need Reasons For Mitzvos? The Chochom asks, Ma HaEidus V'HaChukim V'HaMishpatim?  Chukim are mitzvos without logical reasons, while mishpatim make sense to us.  Rav Yechezkel Sarna the Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron explained that the Yechidei Segula not only do not seek reasons for a mitzva, but even when there is a rational reason they try to close their mind to the reason and do it because it is the will of Hashem. They want to avoid any sense of self purpose or self righteousness which would compromising their intentions.  A mitzva for a mitzva's sake only.

If so why did Shlomo HaMelech seek out reasons for the mitzvos and lament that the Parah Adumah escaped his grasp?  On the contrary, shouldn't he be happy that he does not know the reason for Parah Adumah and he should erase from his mind the reasons for all the other mitzvos?

The Rosh Yeshiva answers that there are two reasons why even Tzadikim, who will fulfill Hashem's command L'Shem Shamayim, strive to know the reason for a mitzva.  If you do not know the reason for a mitzva you can only fulfill it to the letter of the law.  Knowing the reason and understanding what our great King desires from us enables us to expand the mitzva beyond its torah given boundaries.  If we understand the reason we can go far beyond the actual command.  Without this knowledge we'd be treading on dangerous territory, possibly doing something against the Ratzon Hashem.  This is the level of a chasid who does not only do what what Hashem says but tries to figure out what Hashem wants and does it without being commanded.

The second reason, says Rav Yechezkel, is because if we don't know the reason than we are forced to do it L'Shem Shamayim.  If we know the reason and it appeals to us, yet we do it L'Shem Shamayim anyway, then we have broken through our own ego and placed the will of Hashem front and center.  This is the madreiga of self annulment that tzadikim wish to reach.

Sun, 05 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Boruch HaMakom: Rav Moshe Shternbuch - When You See Makom You See Trouble When introducing the four sons, the Hagadah refers to Hashem as "Makom", the place.  Hashem is the place of the world since their is no realm absent Hashem's presence.  Rav Moshe Shternbuch, in his hagada, points out that we usually find Hashem referred to as Makom when something has gone wrong.  HaMakom Yinachem Es'chem is said to an Aveil mourning a lost relative.  HaMakom Yimalei Chesroncha is wished to someone who has suffered a material loss.

The reason is that when someone sees something bad in Hashem's domain, it can lead to questions and doubts as to whether the good Hashem is really in control when bad things happen.  Therefore we tell the person suffering a loss that Hashem is indeed all over and that although we don't understand why, even this is ultimately for the good.

Therefore before mentioning the Rasha son we bless HaMakom.  We acknowledge that he gives free choice to each person, and as part of His good world Resha'im can exist.  Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin viewed it as nothing short of miraculous that there can be Resha'im in the world despite the obvious hand of Hashem that plays a role every second of the day!

Wed, 01 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Ma'aseh B'Rebbi Eliezer: The Alter Of Slabodka - Oiling Your Mind's Eye In Avadim Hayinu the Hagadah tells us that even the greatest chachomim must talk about the nisim of Yetzias Mitzrayim.  But that is so simple minded.  Wouldn't it be better if they discussed the deep sugyos?  Moreover, the hagadah tells us the story of the great tana'im who were so engrossed in the story that they didn't realize it was already the morning.  What was keeping them so busy after all these years?   Was there something new that they hadn't heard about yet?

The Alter of Slabodka says that stories are understood on different levels.  We grow up on these stories and they become the foundation of our yiddishkeit, the pillars of our hashkafa.  But how can an understanding so fundamental to the way we live our lives as Yidden be sealed in our minds at the ripe young age of five years old or less.  Can our Yiddishkeit thrive on such a weak foundation?

We need to free ourselves from our childhood visions, says the Alter.  We need to broaden and deepen our understanding of these events in parallel to our intellectual and emotional growth.  Each year with every new daf gemara and every drop of additional torah that we learn, we grow an we surely need to frame the hagada in terms of our new level.  Don't get frozen in time.  Don't flashback to a long ago world where you sat around in a circle listening to the story of frogs in Paroh's bed and on his head.

Rebbi Eliezer and all the greatest tzadikim were able to delve deeper and deeper with each passing year until the night no longer encompassed enough hours for them to get to where they wanted to go.  We have thousands of miles to travel.  Make this year's seder an eye opener for you to pry open the rusted eye of your mature mind.

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Avadim Hayinu: Chidushei HaRim - Do Yo Know What It Means To Be A Slave? Avadim Hayinu, we were slaves to Paroh.  A slave has no personality and no self whatsoever.  He is property of his owner.  It is hard for us to grasp the concept of slavery today, but the Chidushei HaRim puts it in perspective in light of the following halacha.

The halacha is that if a non-Jew has children and then is Migayer, converts, he has fulfilled his mitzva of Pru U'Rivu with the children he had when he was not a jew.  However if an Eved has children and then he and his children are all freed to become full fledged Jews, he still has not fulfilled his obligation of Pru U'Rivu.

The reason, explains the Chidushei HaRim, is because the children he had as a slave are not associated with him at all.  He was simply a mechanism used by his owner to produce more slaves.  However an Eved is not considered a person with respect to even his own children.  Even a paternal bond doesn't exist.  His own children are ripped away and totally cut off.  He has absolutely nothing in this world.  Not one shred of self.  This is who we were (or weren't) in Mitzrayim!

Sun, 29 Mar 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Dovid Soloveitchik: Yaakov Was Forced to Go to Mitzrayim? The Hagadah says “Anus Al Pi HaDibur”; Yaakov was forced by Hashem’s commandment to go to Mitzrayim.  Where do we see that Yaakov was forced?  Which “dibur” does the Hagadah mean?

Rav Dovid Soloveitchik answers with another question.  Yaakov was on his way down to Mitzrayim and in the middle of the night Hashem came to him to tell him “Al Tirah Meirda Mitzrayma”; do not be scared to go to Mitzrayim.  If Yaakov was already on his way down why did Hashem come and tell him this?  He answers that Yaakov had absolutely no intention of staying there.  He merely wanted to see his beloved son Yosef one more time, “Eilcha V’Erenu Terem Amus” and then return home to Eretz K’Naan.  Hashem told Yaakov do not be afraid to go.  This was the “Dibur” that forced Yaakov to remain there.  Hashem informed Yaakov that there is a change of plans and that he will remain in Mitzrayim through good times and then later in troubled time.  “Do not be afraid”, says Hashem, I will remain with you until the Geula. 

Wed, 16 Apr 2008 03:00:00 +0000
The Great Promise To Avrohom, Rechush Gadol! The Bnei Yisroel “borrowed” from their Mitzri neighbors all their valuables so that Avrohom will not complain to Hashem that Hashem enslaved them in a foreign land in accordance with His promise made at the Bris Bein HaBesarim but not the promise of leaving with great wealth.  This begs two questions.  First why did Avrohom care about the money?  Second why did Hashem keep His promise so that Avrohom shouldn’t complain?  Shouldn’t Hashem keep His promise whether Avrohom complains or not?

The Alshich HaKadosh says that in fact the “Rechush Gadol” that Hashem promised was the spiritual level that enslavement in Mitzrayim would help them reach and not material wealth.  He proves this by the fact that the torah uses the words Rechush “Gadol” meaning big and great.  Had it referred to material wealth it should have said Rechush “Rav” abundant wealth. 

Therefore explains the Chidushei HaRim, as far as Hashem was concerned His promised was kept to Avrohom by giving Bnei Yisroel the torah and not by giving them the wealth of Mitzrayim.  However Hashem was concerned that Avrohom would complain that just like when Hashem promised enslavement it turned out to be both physical and spiritual, so too should the riches that they receive at the redemption be both physical and spiritual. (Hagadah Otzar HaMedrashim)

Mon, 14 Apr 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Hagadah: Lavan the Big Tzaddik? Lavan Bikesh La’Akor Es ha’Kol. Why was Lavan such a danger to Klal Yisrael? Was he worse than Pharaoh or Haman or any of the other myriad of enemies of Klal Yisrael over the years? The answer is yes! He was the most dangerous enemy of Klal Yisrael because he made an outward appearance of being a Tzadik while in truth he was a Ramai (fraud).

The Sefer Mei Shiloach (Rebbi from Izhbetz) says that Lavan was so successful at making an outward appearance of righteousness that he initially fooled even Yakov Avinu who thought that Lavan was a greater Tzaddik than himself. For this reason he was called Lavan (white). He was white and pure on the outside but on the inside he was a Rasha. Such a person is infinitely more dangerous than a person who makes no pretense of being a Tzaddik.

The Mesilas Yesharim says there is nothing in the world that is worst than a hypocrite. Because Lavan made an outward pretense at being a Tzadik he was a great threat at influencing Klal Yisrael and causing untold spiritual damage. 

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 03:00:00 +0000