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Volume 1621: Pesach - Yom Tov Rishon  15 Nissan 5776 23/04/2016

As Shabbat Approaches

A Blessing when Things are Bad /Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavne

"Whoever did not say these three things has not fulfilled his obligation: Pesach, matza, and maror." [Haggada]. Pesach and matza are a way of giving thanks for the redemption, but what about maror – bitter herbs? Is this also linked to our giving thanks?

The sages commented on the verse, "On that day G-d will be one and His name will be one" [Zecharya 14:9], that in the distant future we will bless about the bad just as we now recite a blessing for the good that happens. Some people have asked: Will there still be bad things in the distant future? The answer is that this refers to what we see today as being bad, for which we recite the blessing, "Dayan Ha'Emet." In the future the real picture will become clear and we will see that all the "bad" things are part of a good process. We will then retroactively recite the blessing recognizing the good that was done for us, "Hatov V'Hameitiv,"

A perfect example of this is the incident of the sale of Yosef. When this event took place everybody saw it as a bad act, and even Yaacov himself complained, "Why did you treat me badly?" ]Bereishit 43:6]. However, in the end, everybody gave thanks and blessed, "Hatov V'Hameitiv," as Yosef said: "And now, do not be sad and do not be upset that you sold me here, for G-d has sent me before you to provide a livelihood." [45:5].

There is a hint of this idea in the verse, "For it is a decree ('chok') for Yisrael, a law ('mishpat') for the G-d of Yaacov" [Tehillim 81:5]. What seems to Bnei Yisrael to be an unexplained decree is really judgement in the eyes of the G-d of Yaacov. Do you want proof? "See the testimony of Yehosef, when he went out into the Land of Egypt" [81:6]. Just look at what happened to Yosef in Egypt.

The Holy One, Blessed be He, gave good tidings to Avraham in the Covenant of the Pieces. Usually a covenant is a sign of friendship, but in order to create a chosen nation it was necessary to send the people through the melting pot of exile. And therefore the covenant includes a declaration that the nation will descend to Egypt.

"Everybody who expands the story of the Exodus from Egypt should be praised" [Haggada]. This refers not only to one who continues to discuss the story after midnight but also to one who broadens the story to include the descent to Egypt. Therefore, we begin the story with, "At first, our fathers were idol worshippers," in order to be able to tell about the exile which helped refine us.

In the Talmud Yerushalmi it is written that we redeem our firstborn for five Sela'im in order to atone for the sale of Rachel's firstborn, Yosef, for the same amount of money. But this seems problematic – if so, why should Yosef also pay for a firstborn, and to whom should he pay? Is it right that he should pay Levi, who instigated the sale in the first place? The answer is that in the end we owe a debt of gratitude to Levi for selling Yosef. If this had not happened, we might not have descended to Egypt, and perhaps we would not have become a chosen people.

It is written in the Talmud (Pesachim) that the lamb for the sacrifice was carried on the shoulders, as was the custom of the Yishmaelite merchants. Why should we remember the Yishmaelites on the night of the Seder? It must be that we are thankful not only for the redemption but also for the exile itself!

The commentators of the Rambam write that the eating of the "karpas" is a reminder of the "ketonet hapassim" – the striped shirt which Yaacov made for Yosef, which was part of the chain of events that led to Yosef being sold to Egypt. We dip this in salt water in memory of when the brothers "dipped the shirt in the blood" [Bereishit 37:31]. Rashi notes about the striped shirt that it was "fancy cloth, such as 'karpas' (white cotton) in Megilat Esther." All of this teaches us at the very beginning of the Seder that the descent to Egypt was part of a Divine plan, in order to bring the people out as a Kingdom of Priests. And we give thanks not only for the redemption from Egypt, "Pesach and matza," but also for the bitter "maror," for the exile itself.

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Point Of View

Does Containment Include those who are Proud of their Abomination?/Rabbi Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute

"The Torah spoke of four sons: One who is wise, one who is evil, one who is simple, and one who does not know how to ask. What does the evil one say? What is this service to you – to you and not to him. And since he removed himself from the community he has rejected the essence. Dull his teeth... If he had been there, he would not have been redeemed." [From the Haggada of Pesach].

Family Containment

Homiletic experts from all the generations have delved into and analyzed the four sons: the essence of their questions, the suitability of the replies we give, and mainly the fact that they have all been invited to the same place – our Seder table. Speakers of the last generation have added a fifth chair, meant for a son who doesn't even make it to the Seder. Not only doesn't he know how to ask the questions, in fact he has no interest in asking, and he might well block his ears so as not to hear anything. And even so, our speakers tell us, and rightly so – we maintain a warm corner in our hearts for him. "For as I speak of him, I will yet remember him. Therefore my insides pine for him, I will have pity on him..." [Yirmiyahu 31:19]. Women speakers of the last generations, who are working hard to translate the Torah into a feminized format, will also present a group of four daughters, in an effort to maintain equality. (What do you call the bad daughter? Evil? A shrew?)

Sermons will be made, and I will make my own attempt to add my words to the issue which is called "containment" – that is, everything can be included, everything is treated in the same way. This word, which comes from the realm of psychology, is today used to denote acceptance of and compassion for the "other" – whether he or she is different, strange, and even a bit eccentric – just as they are, without any hint of rejection, without preaching to them, and without trying to make them change their behavior or their outlook. I can partially identify with this concept, but with one important limitation: The "other" must be aware that he or she is different and that his behavior is wrong as far as I am concerned. In this case, there is indeed room for friendship, a partnership, a combination, and a conversation. From my point of view I do not flatter him but act in accordance with the definition: "containment."

Let us return to the Seder table and to family containment. Many religious and Torah-true families find it difficult to accept sons and daughters who have strayed from the path, and who have removed the yoke of the mitzvot (partially or completely). However, the Seder table calls out to all of them and "contains" them, placing special emphasis on the "evil one" who sits on the sidelines. We must have only praise for the communities of the east, who during many generations have developed the techniques of "containing" those who stray from the path of Torah – people who come to the synagogue on Shabbat and then continue as on a weekday, but they still define themselves as "traditional." Reform Jews, on the other hand, who parted in anger from the Ashkenazi communities, do not exist in the eastern communities, and they are certainly not "contained" in the communities of Ashkenaz.

Community Containment?

I have in front of me a document with the title "Halacha and Containment," by the "rabbis of Beit Hillel and their wives," which was distributed in the synagogues on Shabbat Hagadol. (Since containment in Hebrew is "hachala," the Hebrew title is a play on words: " Hachala V'Halacha.") The rabbis of this modern-Orthodox enterprise produced a "position paper in the spirit of halacha," as they put it, which calls for opening the hearts and the gates of the communities to people with a homosexual orientation. If I understand correctly, this would even include same-sex "marriages" of either men or women. Well, the son might ask, but in this case the father totally rejects such "containment" using the building tool in his hand, as Shammai once did under other circumstances!

I am not opposed to some simple elements included in the document about the need and the positive effect of outreach to sinners and not to reject them, and about the positive halachic attitude towards those who sin because of an innate urge, and about such things as "spiritual rape," and more. However, I have sharp criticism about subjects that do not appear and as a result about the containment approach, which has evidently led to instability of the 14 rabbis (including some I know personally, and whom I do not understand) and the 7 women who signed the "ruling," as it is called. (I note in passing that the title "ruling" on a halachic position which is mainly based on a world outlook reminds me very much of the rulings of the "Conservative Rabbinical Court.")

Just what is missing in this document? As is noted in the Haggada, we should "remove from the community" all those who pride themselves in sporting a peacock's tail in order to make their sins into a banner for all to see . We cannot "contain" one who is proud of his or her sin and is a member of a sinful organization. The goal of such a declared organization is to draw other people into the circle of sin, and to provide legitimization of a forbidden pathway. Anybody who is part of such an ostentatious group cannot be accepted, and they should not be "contained" in any of our communities (the family or the Seder table is different, and this should be discussed separately). This absolute diagnosis is totally missing from the above "ruling," and it is clear from publicized material that the purpose of the document is to show appreciation for the progressive approach of Beit Hillel, which knows how to "contain" everybody!

Here is the main point in summary: It is not possible to "contain" institutionalized single-sex "families" within a community (and it is unclear whether this applies to a family grouping around a Seder table). "Chessed hu - It is a sinful act" [Vayikra 20:17]. "Tevel hu – it is an abomination" [18:23]. And it is also "hevel" – a vain approach. I wonder: Will these people react in the same way to men who marry Gentile women? Perhaps the answer is yes, who can know the spiritual depths of Beit Hillel? I want to note for the authors of this "ruling" that even among the abominations of Egypt, they never stooped to "writing a Ketuva for men" [Chulin 92b].

(Written after the end of Shabbat Hagadol.)

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A Woman's Angle

We were in Bondage to El-Sisi in Egypt /Shuli Mualem, MK

"If G-d had not taken our ancestors out of Egypt, we and our children and our grandchildren would still be in bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt" [From the Haggada].

Is that so? The Haggada is telling us that if the Holy One, Blessed be He, had not rescued us from Egypt, we would have lived through the "Arab Spring" as slaves. Mubarak, Morsi, and now El-Sisi would be our oppressors. After building the pyramids, we would have dug out the Suez Canal, we would have built the Aswan Dam, and while we were at it we would have built some very special hotels in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Is that what the sages were trying to teach us?

As history developed, the institution of slavery slowly disintegrated. We can be sure that the United States would have made an effort to free us, and if not them then the United Nations or some organization for human rights would have taken on the task. So why did the sages state in such positive terms that until this very day we would still have remained in bondage to Egypt?

We must understand that the words slavery ("avdut") and bondage ("shi'abud") mean two different things, even though they have some letters in common and in some ways sound similar. Slavery is physical, and it is expressed in real physical labor. Bondage is spiritual, and its main effect is on the way we behave. And that is the point – if G-d had not freed us until today we would still remain in bondage – but we would not be slaves.

A Tale of Two Slaves

We can illustrate this by considering a slave of a wealthy man. The owner oppressed his slave, struck him, and humiliated him. This slave made a decision one day to obtain his freedom, while also taking with him his evil master's wealth. The former slave begins a new life, and he proudly tells his children the "war stories" of his past – what his evil master did to him, how he decided to rise up and rebel, how he became a free man, and the source of all his current wealth. As time goes on, the man hears that his former master is on his deathbed, without anybody to take care of him. It goes without saying that he does not even consider going to help the master.

Now take the story of a different slave. His master showed him great respect and took very good care of him. He bought him good clothing, invited him to join banquets with very well-respected guests, and even helped him find a wife and paid for the wedding. After many years, the master told his slave that he deserved to be rewarded for his dedicated service and that the time had come for him to be set free. In order for him to be able to start a new life, the master told the man to take whatever he wanted from his riches, but because he was ashamed the slave took very little. The man was free, and he raised his children on his heritage. He told them that he met their mother with the help of his former master, and that the master had given him his freedom and everything that he now owned. In other words, he told them, everything we have comes from his generosity. Many days passed, and the man heard that his former master was sick, and that there was nobody to come and help him. Without any hesitation the former slave returned to his master. He was not a slave of the master, but he felt an obligation to him.

The same is true of Yisrael. If the Holy One, Blessed be He, had not taken us out of the bondage in Egypt with a strong hand and with miracles, history would have taken its course. We would have received our freedom in one way or another. But we would still feel obligated to our former masters, the Egyptians.

"It Dwells Alone"

The Talmud has this to say about the future redemption: "There is no difference between this world and the days of the Mashiach except for the bondage to foreign nations" [Shabbat 63a]. The rabbi who said this feels that aside from the return of the Shechina and the Temple, the main effect of the coming of the Mashiach will be a lack of spiritual obligation by Yisrael to the other nations.

According to this approach, if we look at ourselves we can see that the feeling of obligations to others remains, alive and well. We can take the nation of Yisrael out of the exile, but it is much harder to remove the exilic mentality from the nation of Yisrael. The lack of new construction in Jerusalem and the areas of the new settlements stems from a fear of what the world will say and how the Europeans will react to any moves we make. Let us hope and pray that we will soon be described by the verse, "It is a nation that dwells alone and is not counted among the other nations" [Bamidbar 23:9].

We have had enough!

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The Good Land

New Produce in the Markets of Jerusalem /Yoel Yaacobi,
Institute for Torah and the Land

"As soon as the Omer Sacrifice was brought, one could go out into the market of Jerusalem and find it full of flour and toasted grain, and this was against the will of the sages – these are the words of Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Yehuda says, it was in accordance with the will of the sages. When the Omer was brought, grain from the new year was permitted immediately. And those who were far away were permitted to eat from the new crops starting from noon. When the Temple was destroyed, Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai decreed that for the entire day of the sacrifice the new grain would be forbidden. Rabbi Yehuda said: It is forbidden by Torah law, as is written 'until the middle of this day' [Vayikra 23:14]." [Menachot 10:5].

When does the Prohibition of New Grain End?

The mitzvot that are most strongly identified with Pesach (aside from the sacrifice and the other mitzvot of the Seder night) are the command of the Omer Sacrifice and the prohibition of eating new grain. These two mitzvot are very different, but they are tightly linked with each other. The prohibition of eating new grain is situated between two poles which seem at first glance to be diametrically opposite to each other. On one hand, as an exception to the general rule, even though it is a mitzva that is related to the land, it remains in effect outside of the land ("New grain is forbidden by Torah law everywhere" [Orlah 3:9]). On the other hand, also as an exception to the general rule of mitzvot that are related to the land, it is also closely linked to the service in the Temple.

As the name implies, the prohibition is to eat new produce. When does this prohibition end? In the Torah, two different times appear in the same verse: "Bread and toasted grains and green ears should not be eaten until the middle of this day, until you bring your G-d's sacrifice" [Vayikra 23:14]. This gives us both a date and an action for setting the cutoff time. That is, the new produce may not be eaten until "the day after Shabbat" [Vayikra 23:11] (that is, the second day of the Pesach holiday, up to and including the sixteenth of Nissan), and also "until you bring your G-d's sacrifice" – until the Omer is brought on the sixteenth of Nissan.

In practice, the limit to be applied depends on whether the Omer Sacrifice is brought or not. If it is, the new produce is immediately permitted for use. (This is only true for general use, but in the Temple the new produce can only be brought after the "Two Loaves" are brought as a sacrifice on Shavuot – see Menachot 10:6.) However, if the Omer was not brought, as unfortunately has happened ever since the Temple was destroyed, the new produce may be eaten only after the end of the sixteenth of Nissan. Even though the wording of the Mishna quoted above implies that the prohibition until the end of the day is a rabbinical decree instituted by Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai, that is not true, and the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda is accepted by the halacha. (Other opinions appear in the Talmud, but they are not accepted by the Rambam, see Hilchot Maachalot Assurot 10:2.)

Against the Will of the Sages

In the above Mishna, we are told that as soon as the Omer was brought flour and toasted grains were available in the markets of Jerusalem. Obviously this produce was harvested and processed before the Omer was brought, and the rabbis so not agree if that is acceptable or not. While there is no explicit prohibition to prepare the produce before the Omer is brought, the question is whether the sages made a decree not to prepare it in advance out of a fear that the people might eat it too. Rabbi Meir feels that there was such a decree, and therefore the rabbis were not happy with the situation. Rabbi Yehuda disputes this, and he feels that no decree was made.

What is the halacha? Rabbi Ovadia Bartanura accepts the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, as he usually does in a dispute between Rabbo Meir and Rabbi Yehuda. This follows the Rambam's commentary on the Mishna, which came before him. However, Rabbi Kapach notes that in all the manuscripts of the Rambam, and specifically the manuscript of the commentary written by the Rambam himself, he writes that the halacha follows the opinion of Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Kapach explains that there is a rule that "decrees of Rabbi Meir are halachically accepted." It is interesting to note that in his halachic work, the Mishna Torah, the Rambam does not mention this decree.

At the Foot of the Western Wall

Where was this produce sold? It goes without saying that we are not talking about the markets what are known to us today. However, at least one of the markets of the time of the Temple is well-known, even though today it plays a very different role. This is the road at the foot of the Western Wall.

Clearing of the debris of stones at the southwest corner outside the wall around the Temple Mount, in the archeological park south of the Mughrabi Gate, exposed a number of shops on both sides of the street. Those that are best preserved are underneath what was the staircase of the Robinson Arch. Dr. Eilat Mazar writes that inside these shops, which were meant mainly to provide service to people ascending to the Temple Mount, there were stone utensils, stone weights, coins, and typical Herodian earthenware, as would be suitable for shops (Karta Handbook of Temple Mount excavations, page 55). Note that a substantial use of stone vessels, which are quite expensive, heavy, and not easy to make, is typical of the Jewish population, which observed the laws of ritual purity both before and after the destruction of the Temple, since vessels made of stone can never become ritually impure.

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The Map At The Shabbat Table

Shir Hashirim and Eretz Yisrael /based on the book "The Shabbat Map (Tablecloth)" by Amos Safrai

Shir Hashirim (The Song of Songs), which we read this Shabbat (the first day of Pesach), reminds us of Shabbat and the holidays in many places.

First let us look at Kibbutz Kefar Etzion. The Shir Hashirim Forest has gazelles and ibexes, together with a rich selection of flora of the land. The forest was established by members of the kibbutz, which was overtaken by the Arabs in 1948. It was reestablished when the descendants of the former residents came back to the land.

The sources for the names of many sites in Israel are in Shir Hashirim. We cannot list them all in this short article, there are too many to do so. Our suggestion is to have a family competition to see how many place names that come from Shir Hashirim can be found.

"...I am black and beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Shlomo" [1:5]. Southeast of Maaleh Adumin is the town Kedar, from which there is a spectacular view of the Kidron river and the Yehuda Desert.

"... I was appointed to guard the vineyards (noteira), but I did not watch over my own vineyard" [1:6]. More than fifty years ago, in the eastern part of the Chula Valley, a Nachal post by the name of Noteira was established, and later on it became a kibbutz. The site suffered from repeated attacks by the Syrian army, until it was decided to disband it. Near Kibbutz Gonen it is possible to visit the Ein Netura nature preserve. It contains a large number of springs, water pools, and swamp flora, together with ancient fig trees.

"My beloved is like a cluster (eshkol) of henna to me, in the vines of Ein Gedi" [1:14]. In the center of the lower Gallil is a large reservoir called the Eshkol Reservoir, named after the Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol. This is also the source of the name of Eshkol Park, in the Besor region. In the southern area of the Chevron Mountain is the town Eshkolot, named for the many vineyards in the area. And let us not forget Ein Gedi, which is in the Yehuda Desert.

"You are handsome, my lover, and pleasant, and our bed is joyful (raanana)" [1:16]. Raanana was established in 5681 (1921) as an agricultural settlement by people from the United States who were members of an organization named "Achuza," and that is the source of the name of the main street in the city.

"I am a rose of the Sharon, a rose of the valleys" [2:1]. Chavatzelet Hasharon is a name that is shared by a moshav north of Netanya and a Torah nucleus that has settled in Kefar Yaavetz, in the Sharon. The community settlement Shoshanat Ha'amakim is also situated close to Netanya.

"The buds (nitzanim) have appeared in the land, the time for song has come, and the sound of the dove can be heard in our land" [2:11]. Kibbutz Nitzanim was established in 5703 (1943). During the War of Independence the kibbutz was surrounded and captured for a short time by the Egyptian army, and some of the residents were taken captive. After their release from captivity they rebuilt the kibbutz. Near the kibbutz is the settlement Nitzan, populated by people who were expelled from Gush Kativ. Two other names derived from Shir Hashirim are Nitzanei Sinai and Nitzanei Oz.

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What Is That Phrase?

"In his Honor, or By Himself" /Yaacov Etzion

In various places in the Talmud, the rabbis discuss whether to use one version of a text or another, and often the final decision is to use both versions in a combined text. One example is the blessing upon seeing a rainbow. One proposed version was to say, "He who remembers the covenant," and the other was "He is faithful in His covenant and stands by His declaration." The halacha accepted the suggestion of Rav Papa to combine the two proposals: "You are blessed, G-d, He who remembers the covenant, is faithful to His covenant, and stands by His declaration."

Evidently a similar phenomenon of combining two texts has taken place with the expression "bichvodo u'vatzmo" – in person. This expression appears in the Haggada, and it is commonly used in everyday speech. It appears in the Haggada with respect to the Master of the World, emphasizing that the miracles were performed by Him alone: He and not any kind of angel saved Yisrael in Egypt. Here is what is written in the Talmud Yerushalmi: When G-d came to redeem Yisrael he did not send a messenger or an angel but He went Himself ("hu b'atzmo"), as is written, "And I passed through the Land of Egypt" [Shemot 12:12].

The exact phrase used is "hu b'atzmo" – he himself – in the same way that we say today when we want to emphasize that a person performed some action without help from anybody else. In other places, the sages used a different form of expression, "hu bichvodo" – he, with his honor (or glory) – usually in reference to actions by the Holy One, Blessed be He, related to the expression which often appears, "the glory of G-d," when referring to the appearance of the Shechina. (For example: "And the glory of G-d rested on Mount Sinai" [Shemot 24:16]; "And the glory of G-d filled the Tabernacle" [40:34]; and others.) Here is a quote from the Midrash: "When Bnei Yisrael were in Egypt and it was time for a woman of Yisrael to give birth, she would go out into a field and give birth there. And after the birth, she would leave the child and hand it over to the Holy One, Blessed be He. She would say, Master of the World, I have done my part and now You do Your part. Rabbi Yochanan said: Immediately the Holy One, Blessed be He, would descend in His glory, as it were, and cut the umbilical cord, and wash and anoint them..." (It may be that the source for this form of the expression, bichvodo, in this sense, is the following verse: "For G-d has built Zion, He can be seen in His glory" [Tehillim 102:17].

In the Haggada too there are two parallel expressions: "The Holy One, Blessed be He, in His glory" and "The Holy One, Blessed be He, by Himself." (This can be clearly seen in the texts of the Haggada found in the Cairo Archives). As time went on, the two versions were combined into one form.

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Responsa For Our Times

Eating the "Afikoman" after Midnight/Rabbi Re'eim Hacohen
Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi, Otniel

Question: Is one allowed to plan in advance ("lechatchila") to continue the Seder for a longer time than usual and to eat the "afikoman" after mignight?


Until Midnight – Torah Law or a Rabbinical Decree?

Two tana'im disagree about the above question in a Baraita that is quoted in the Talmud (Pesachim 120b). Rabbi Akiva feels that the Pesach Sacrifice is the same as all the other "minor" sacrifices, which in principle can be eaten all night long. On the other hand, Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria feels that the Pesach is different from all the other sacrifices, and the strict Torah law is that it can only be eaten until midnight.

This passage implies that according to Rabbi Eliezer the flesh of the Pesach after midnight is considered "notar" – a sacrifice that has passed the limit of the time when it can be eaten – and therefore the hands of a person who touches it become ritually impure. As opposed to this, in a passage in Berachot (9a), both Rashi and the Ritva explain that even Rabbi Eliezer agrees that only eating is forbidden after midnight, but that the meat is not considered "notar" until the morning.

Keren Ha'Orah suggests a compromise. He feels that the impurity of the hands after midnight mentioned in Pesachim is a rabbinical decree related to the prohibition of eating.

Even Rabbi Akiva, who feels that Pesach is like other sacrifices which can be eaten until the end of the night, agrees that the sages decreed that a priori it should be finished before midnight (see the first Mishna in Berachot). This was written by Rashi (Pesachim 92b), Rashbam (120b), Tosafot, and other early commentators.

Or Zarua wants to prove from a passage in Zevachim which suggests that the Mishna giving a limit of midnight is according to Rabbi Akiva, who accepts that there is a rabbinical decree, that Rabbi Akiva also agrees that by rabbinical decree the Pesach must be eaten by midnight.

One aspect that should be discussed further is whether the case of one who did not eat the Pesach by midnight is the same as one who did not recite the Shema before midnight – who can recite it until morning. Tosafot in Pesachim write that after the fact such a person can eat the sacrifice until morning, but from the words of the Mordechai and the Rashbam (who write that the Pesach after midnight has a rabbinical status of "notar") the author of Einayim Lamishpat derives that even according to Rabbi Akiva the Pesach cannot be eaten after midnight, even after the fact. This is also the opinion of the Minchat Chinuch (6). Note also that according to the BAHAG the Pesach can be eaten until dawn – but it may be that there is no need for a decree for the Pesach Sacrifice itself, because it can be assumed that the large number of people assigned to the sacrifice will definitely finish eating it in time.

Halachic Rulings

Three Mishnayot give the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria as an anonymous ruling. One is in the tenth chapter of Pesachim, stating that the flesh of the Pesach causes hands to become impure after midnight. The second is the first Mishna in Berachot, which does not list the Pesach as one of the items which can be eaten all night long. In the Gemarra, Rav Yosef explains (9a) that the Mishna is according to Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria, who feels that the strict halacha is that the Pesach can only be eaten until midnight. The third Mishna is in Zevachim (56b), which states that the Pesach can only be eaten until midnight. In the Gemarra Rav Yosef explains that this follows the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria (57b).

On the other hand, the following appears in the Mishna in Megillah (20b): "Anything whose mitzva is for the night can be observed during the whole night." And the Gemarra explains (21a) that this means the opinion of Rabbi Akiva can be accepted.

Based on these considerations, the rabbis disagree whether the halacha is according to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria or Rabbi Akiva. The reason for the dispute is based on the general rules for halachic rulings. On one hand, there is a rule that "Rabbi Akiva's opinion is preferred over that of his colleague," which in this case would mean that the halacha follows the opinion of Rabbi Akiva. On the other hand, Tosafot in Megillah (21a) and Zevachim (57b) rule according to Rabbi Eliezer, since most of the anonymous rulings in the Mishna agree with him. However, the Rashba in Berachot, the Baal Hahashlama, and the RAN reject the rule that the halacha should follow the majority of Mishnayot, based on the following statement: "This one is anonymous and so is the other one, there is no difference between a single anonymous Mishna or two Mishnayot." [Yevamot 101b].

Note also that in the two Mishnayot – Berachot and Pesachim – the Mishna itself is not clear about the ruling, but we depend on a derivation that was made by Rav Yosef. Since these passages might be explained in a different way, there is no longer a clear majority of anonymous Mishnayot which favor the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria.

Or Zarua in the laws of Pesachim (231) rules according to Rabbi Eliezer, against the rule that Rabbi Akiva is to be preferred over his colleague, since the final ruling should be taken from the Mishna which is directly involved in the laws of the Pesach Sacrifice, based on a principle set down in Sanhedrin 34b. Others who rule according to Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria include Rabeinu Chananel, the Raavan, Raviah (168), the Mordechai, Ri'az, and more.

As opposed to this group of rabbis who are mostly from Ashkenaz, the Rambam rules according to Rabbi Akiva (Hilchot Korban Pesach 8:15), but he writes that in practice one should finish by midnight, in order to keep far away from a situation of sin. Later rabbis do not agree what the Rambam's opinion is in a case of after the fact, when a person has already missed midnight. Beit Halivi (1:34) and the Natziv (Zevachim 57b) feel that even after the fact one should not eat from the sacrifice after midnight. On the other hand, Aruch Hashulchan (in rulings for the future) writes that after the fact one is allowed to eat the Pesach Sacrifice after midnight.

Is the Law of the Afikoman the Same as That of the Sacrifice?

We are left with the question of the relationship between the laws of eating the Pesach Sacrifice and the laws of eating matza, and eating the Afikoman, which is in memory of the sacrifice. While for the sacrifice the Rambam ruled that by rabbinical decree it should be eaten by midnight, he writes that the mitzva of eating matza continues all night long. Rabeinu Manoach writes that there is no need to make a decree about matza, since there is no punishment of "Karet" for eating it after dawn. However, Pri Chadash feels that even according to the Rambam the matza should be eaten by midnight, as a rabbinical decree. In my humble opinion, it is clear that Rambam feels that one is allowed to eat matza all night long, but that the Afikoman, which is in memory of the Pesach Sacrifice, should be eaten like the sacrifice, and a priori it should be finished before midnight.

It is written in the Mishna, "Nothing more should come after the Pesach, the Afikoman" [Pesachim 119b]. Thus, eating after the Afikoman is prohibited, but the specific time limit is not given. Avnei Nezer (381) assumes that the prohibition is only during the time of the meal, and therefore according to Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria one is allowed to eat after midnight. He therefore proposes that if the hour of midnight is approaching a person should eat a "kazayit" of matza with the following condition: If the halacha is according to Rabbi Eliezer, this matza was meant as the Afikoman – and he can then continue eating after midnight. And if the halacha is according to Rabbi Akiva, he can eat a "kazayit" of matza as the Afikoman at the end of the meal, even after midnight.

However, begging his forgiveness, I must make it clear that the Ramban and other early commentators explicitly state that the prohibition of eating continues for the rest of the night. Therefore we should not depend on this suggestion of the Avnei Nezer. And this also corresponds to the ruling in the Shulchan Aruch with respect to the Afikoman: "One should take care to eat the Afikoman before midnight" [477].


A priori, as a best choice, one should finish eating the Afikoman before midnight, since the Pesach Sacririce is only eaten until midnight (in Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria's opinion by Torah law and according to Rabbi Akiva by rabbinical decree). Soldiers and others who because of circumstances could not fulfill the mitzvot before midnight should observe them after midnight without reciting a blessing (Mishna Berura and other rabbis).

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When The Children Open Their Hearts

By the Merits of Righteous Women /Meirav Maggeni,
Author of Content and Stories in Chemed, the Religious School System

"Can you understand now why I am so upset and impatient?" I had tears in my eyes when I asked Yael this question. Yael is my best friend, and I share all my secrets with her. Yael nodded and didn't say anything. Then she suddenly whispered, "Believe me, if my mother didn't need me, I would come and help you."

When I got home, there was a huge load of work waiting for me. I took some vegetables out of the refrigerator and chopped them into a very fine salad. I fried some eggs and set the table for lunch. Then I went outside to hang the laundry from the machine which I had turned on before I left the house in the morning, and then I ran to the kindergarten to pick up Elchanan. When we finished eating, I straightened out the rooms in the house, and then, as I passed Imma's room very quietly she called out to me to come in. "How are you, my darling?" she asked, with a wan smile. I nodded my head. I didn't want to tell her how hard it was for me to do all the work while she was kept in her bed, in order to guard over the new baby that she was carrying. Imma has difficulty with her pregnancies, and the doctors told her to lie down all the time and not to make any effort, in order not to put the new baby in danger. I really didn't want to tell her how much I had to give up, such as not going out to play with my friends in the evening, and how hard it was for me to do Imma's work and to be responsible for almost everything. It's just lucky that we had a maid who did the main preparations for Pesach.

But Imma understood by herself. She patted my hair, and she said, "I am very proud of you, dear. When I had to lie in bed before you were born I was not as calm as now, you weren't born yet to help out." And I started to blush from the compliments. "Okay, Imma, I have to run," I said. "I have to bring Elchanan back from his club meeting, and then I have mounds of homework and huge piles of laundry to fold."

But Imma said, "Wait a minute, you are running around too much." She phoned her friend Shlomit and asked her to bring Elchanan home when she went to pick up her son Ehud.

Imma gave me a big smile. "The homework and the laundry can wait a while. Come here, I want to tell you a story." And she invited me to curl up next to her in the bed. I took a deep breath and I could feel my muscles starting to relax. I really needed a rest, and I love the stories that Imma tells me. And here is what she said:

* * * * * *

When Betzalel came home from his labor, he could barely stand up straight. His whole body ached, and his back was black and blue from all the blows that he had received. But the poor state of his body lost all importance compared to his broken spirit. He had no hope, he had no vision for the future, and he did not feel that he had any reason for living. Devorah tried to console him by telling him what her mother had passed on to her, that had been passed down from one generation to the next. One day all of their troubles would be over. A savior would come and take them out of slavery. Devorah believed so strongly in the tradition that her words helped to comfort her husband.

One day Betzalal came home from work and found that Devorah was sad. He asked, "What happened?" Devorah told him that she was afraid that when their savior came there would be nobody left to rescue. "Very few children are born here in Egypt, and it looks almost as if the nation of Yisrael may disappear altogether!" And she gave a deep sigh.

Betzalel was amazed. "Are you crazy? Why should we bring children into such a harsh life? What kind of a future will they have? They will be born as slaves to the evil Pharaoh. Is that what you want?"

Devorah answered with a big smile. "Does you mean to say that you don't believe we will be redeemed? Don't you believe that we will one day leave here, to go to the land which G-d promised to our fathers? Just yesterday you said that I was right to believe. What we have to do is to have a lot of children, in spite of the situation. Let our nation grow... Let the evil Pharaoh rage all he wants, and when the redemption comes there will be many people to redeem."

("And what do you think happened?" Imma asked me. But she didn't wait for an answer.) Devorah accomplished her mission. Not only did Betzalel and Devorah have children, but in every house in Egypt the righteous women didn't let the harsh conditions of slavery break their wills. The did not let a feeling of despair take over their hearts, and because of what they did, the impossible happened: "As they continued to make them suffer, they were fruitful and multiplied" [Shemot 1:12 ]. It is to the credit of those righteous women that our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt.

And Imma finished her story.

* * * * * *

I looked at Imma's growing belly, and I realized that she also was not letting the difficulty of the situation bring her to despair. Just like the righteous women of old, my Imma wanted to add more and more Jews to the world.

And at that moment I was very proud of my mother. I realized that because of her merits and the merits of all the other women - who are willing to suffer to bring children into the world and to teach them, in spite of all the difficulties – the future redemption will come.

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Holy & Secular

Why is it so Difficult?/Rabbi Amichai Gordin
Yeshivat Har Etzion and Shaalvim High School

Opposite the burning bush, the Almighty was revealed to Moshe, and he gave him a promise: "Go and I will send you to Pharaoh, take My people, Bnei Yisrael, out of Egypt" [Shemot 2:10].

Moshe went to Pharaoh, just as he was commanded to do. Moshe demanded of Pharaoh, "Send my people out" [7:16], just as he was commanded to do. Moshe explained to Pharaoh, "We will go a distance of three days and we will offer a sacrifice to our G-d" [5:3], just as he was commanded to do. But Pharaoh didn't even blink. "They are not working hard enough," was the conclusion of the tyrant, "we will make sure that they have to work harder."

Moshe did not understand what had happened. "Why did You make things worse for this nation? Why did You send me? Since I went to Pharaoh... he made things worse for this nation, and You did not save Your nation..." [5:22-23]. Couldn't the Master of the Universe take Yisrael out of Egypt in an instant? Why was it necessary for the matter to be so complicated? Why did the nation continue to suffer? ... Who needed the Ten Plagues?

* * * * * *

The Holy One, Blessed be He, answered Moshe. "I revealed Myself to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaacov with the name 'El Shadai,' but I did not explain to them the name G-d." [6:3]. The Creator did indeed promise to redeem the nation from the accursed tyrants. But that is not the whole story. There was another great task that had to be accomplished. A new name for G-d had to be revealed to the world.

The purpose of the tremendous events of the Ten Plagues was so that Egypt and the entire world would get to know and recognize the name of G-d, yud-heh-vav-heh. That is why the phrase "They will know that I am G-d" is repeated over and over. Until the Exodus the people of the world only knew the name "Elohim." G-d's name was still hidden from the world. The time had come for this name to be revealed.

What is the essence of the name yud-heh, and what is Elohim? Let us listen to the words of Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik:

* * * * * *

The name Elohim presents us with the fact the He is the Almighty, the Creator, the engineer of the world and its designer, the source of all the power in the universe, without any limit... the name Elohim carries with it meanings of tremendous unlimited strength, power, and might. The dwelling place of Elohim is nature...

The link between mankind and G-d in His appearance as Elohim reaches the limits of the impossible, for what is the significance of mankind in the pathways of the great universe? Any possible value is as null and void. The psalmist of Yisrael presents this question when he compares mankind and the stars: "For I will see Your heaven, the works of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You fashioned – What is man that You remember him, and the son of man that You should take note of him?" [Tehillim 8:5].

The entire picture takes on a new face when the name of yud-heh is added to the story. This is a name which represents the unique relationship between G-d and mankind. This name tells us that G-d turns directly to man, not through the natural universe. Man turns towards the Holy One, Blessed be He, using the first person, as a unique personality. As it were, the Holy One, Blessed be He, becomes a friend of the man who is a stranger to Him. The Holy One, Blessed be He, as it were, enjoys the company of man...

[Based on: Man and his Home, pages 29-30.]

* * * * * *

Until the Exodus from Egypt, mankind knew only the name Elohim. G-d was revealed only through nature. The distant G-d, the source of all power, was visible through the trait of justice. It is no surprise that Pharaoh's instinctive response was, "Who is G-d, that I should listen to Him? ... I do not know G-d." [Shemot 5:2]. Pharaoh was not aware that Elohim can be revealed under another name. He did not know that G-d is also present in real events and is not merely the source of force. Pharaoh was not ready to hear that the Holy One, Blessed be He, can encounter man directly.

In the Exodus, the Holy One, Blessed be He, was revealed to the entire world with the name yud-heh. He announced to all the creatures of the world that it is possible to meet Him not only through the awesome and tremendous universe but also through our own personalities, through our own special soul. The Holy One, Blessed be He, taught us that he is also revealed through a new name, one that is close and intimate. This is a name to which we can turn, and we can speak to Him directly.

The name yud-heh represents mercy and compassion. The Holy One, Blessed be He, is not only a powerful G-d who completely controls nature, He is also a compassionate and merciful G-d who loves His creatures and wants them to be righteous. In the story of the creation of the world in Bereishit G-d is revealed as Elohim, now with the redemption from Egypt He is revealed by his other name, yud-heh.

Many people quote the phrase, "Send my people out," emphasizing the elements of redemption and freedom which we achieved. However, this completely misses the point. The full phrase is really, "Send my people out, and so that they will worship Me." [Shemot 7:16]. This is not only redemption, it is a personal encounter with the Holy One, Blessed be He, through the name starting with yud-heh. In the Exodus, we received the privilege of getting to know the new name of G-d, to worship the Holy One, Blessed be He, and to observe all of His mitzvot. This is the mystic hidden secret of the Exodus from Egypt. The new name will allow us to serve the Holy One, Blessed be He, and to receive His holy and wonderful Torah.

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Zomet At The Crossroads

"OR-LI"/The Zomet Institute

Many people go to great lengths to observe the laws of Shabbat in all their details. At times, however, because of the great stringency, their enjoyment of Shabbat might be impaired. This can take the form of hesitating about which lights to leave on, what to do if suddenly light may be needed in the children's room, and other similar dilemmas. These quandaries can now be solved with the help of the latest model of the "Or-Li" Shabbat lamps available from the Zomet Institute.

The lamp, which is very sparing in its use of electricity and is very safe because it has no glass parts, gives off a strong light which can be turned on or off at any time, without any complications. The main thing is that the enjoyment of Shabbat is greatly enhanced.

The lamp can be put on a table or hung on the wall. It can be taken on trips to places where a Shabbat timer is not available, such as in hospitals or hotels.

For more information, see the Zomet website: Press here.

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Riddle of the Week

Pesach /Yoav Shlossberg, Director of "Quiz and Experience"

A host presented it to his two guests:

It was given to a king and his men

And a judge gave it to a Divine angel.

What is it?

Answers for last week's quiz – it was: The Torah portion has a word consisting of the same letter written twice. What is it?

(Note: I heard this riddle in the past – I would be happy to know who originally wrote it.)

- The word is "rar" – to flow - "This will be his impurity from a discharge: If his flesh runs with the discharge or is blocked by the discharge..." [Vayikra 15:3].

* * * * * *

We will be happy to publish your riddles here, with proper credit to the author. Send your suggestions to the e-mail address given below.

Do you have a bar/bat mitzva coming up? Are you looking for a special quiz? To order:


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