Passover – Giving of Yourself vs. Emulating Hashem

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This dvar Torah is part of a shmuz I heard from Rav Moshe Chait zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim Yerushalayim at around the beginning of the century.


Equivalent to the seventh day of Passover, by the splitting of the Red Sea, Klal Yisrael reached what is essentially the highest point of Holiness. They sang Shira [songs] to Hashem while crossing on dry land. In the Shira it says, “ זֶ֤ה אֵלִי֙ וְאַנְוֵ֔הוּ” which literally means, “This is my G-D and I will build Him a Sanctuary,” or “I will make myself into a G-dly sanctuary” (Shemos 15:2). This is the loftiest expression because they pointed and said “This is my G-D”. They had such a high level of emuna, belief in Hashem, that they were able to point at something. People recognize things with their senses, and the most realistic sense is sight, as they say, “seeing is believing.” The level they were on was above that because of their emuna [belief in Hashem].

What does אַנְוֵ֔הוּ refer to? The Gemara in Shabbos 133b goes through a list of mitzvos and says it comes from the word, נאה, to beautify the mitzvos. The gemara then quotes Abba Shaul who says they felt that they had to be comparable to Hashem, meaning they wanted to act like Hashem, just like a child wants to act like his parents, אני והוא.

The first view holds there is a level of a person who is putting a part of himself into doing a mitzvah. Abba Shaul is saying you should want to be just like Hashem which is a higher level.

The way Avraham found Hashem was not from a physical understanding of the world, but he saw the kindness that Hashem did in creating the world. Kindness is spiritual. This is how he came to recognize Hashem!

The truest love is trying to emulate someone else!

Click here for recording of Shmuz on Parshas Tzav with connecting to Passover and current events, im yirtzeh Hashem! The password to sign in is 3RmGSUNk.

Vayikra – Yearning for Meaning

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We find a very fascinating medrish at the end of this week’s Torah portion of Vayikra, that one can share at the Pesach Seder: “Rebbe Abba bar Kahana said that darkness (choshech vi’afela) was used in the land of Egypt for 3 days as it says, ‘and there was thick darkness over the entire land of Egypt for three days’ (Shemos 10:22). But void and desolation (tohu va’vohu) was not used in this world. Where will they be used in the future? In the great metropolis of Rome, as it says, ‘and He shall stretch over it a line of waste, and weights of destruction’ (Yeshayahu 34:11)” (Medrish Rabba Vayikra 6:6).

The Maharz”u explains that it appears from the medrish that since darkness (choshech vi’afela) was used there, then it must be that void and desolation (tohu va’vohu) will also be used at some point. This concept which is being alluded to by the medrish is that at the beginning of creation it writes, ‘Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep’ (Breishis 1:2). The main part of creation started from tohu va’vohu and choshech (void, desolation, and darkness). Even though it says that light came forth from darkness and all of existence was brought forth from out of the tohu va’vohu, still in all this choshech and tohu va’vohu did not cease to exist. They were and still are yearning to be used in the world at the right time and place. We in fact see in many places that it says, ‘If the Jews accept the Torah that is good, if not I will revert the entire world back into tohu va’vohu.’ This is what is meant here; that choshech (darkness) found a place to be used in Egypt, but tohu va’vohu did not yet find a place to be used until in the future.”

The Etz Yosef adds that in the future Gog and his allies will be flanked with darkness, but will be preceded with tohu va’vohu, which is a green line that will surround the entire world which, from it darkness (choshech), will spread out into the world. (Click here and here for Hebrew text.)

The darkness that plagued Egypt in the 9th plague was no ordinary darkness; it was something that could be felt. It was so thick that the Egyptians froze and were not able to move for three days, as it says in Shemos Rabba 14:3. This darkness will come forth again in the future, emanating from a green substance of tohu va’vohu which will encompass the Metropolis of Rome, Gog and his allies, who don’t believe in Hashem and have their own line of worship.

Everything has a proper time and place to be used in this world. Nothing ever goes to waste and rather it is recycled; hopefully with excitement, at its designated time and place.

If you think about this a bit, there is something actually quite astonishing going on here. Hashem created the world out of these two substances, choshech and tohu va’vohu. They must have been pretty important to be used as the basis for the entire existence of this world. Yet the Maharz”u seems to hint that one might have thought that once they were done being used they would just have been thrown away and never used again, having lost a purpose for their further existence. Yet that wasn’t the case, and they are reserved for a special time and place which they are eagerly waiting for, to be used again. But if you look what they were used for it would seem highly disappointing. Both were or will be used in seemingly negative and destructive ways. The darkness was used for the 9th plague of Egypt, not even the first or the culminating tenth; rather in the middle, or really towards the end. Tohu va’vohu could have also been used to destroy the world if the Jewish people would not have accepted the Torah, and will be used against the heathens in the future who will not accept Hashem as One at The End of Days. What kind of jobs are those that they are yearning and eagerly waiting for, especially compared to the first position they ever had?

However the truth of the matter is these substances are just ingredients in doing Hashem’s will, and they realize that whatever Hashem wants them to be used for they are willing to do, and yearn for the opportunity to be used again.

All the more so, us human beings, whom the entire world was created for, we are the purpose of creation, and there are multiple roles that Hashem has given us to play in the history of this world. We have to be excited and eager to see how it plays out and to enthusiastically accept whatever roles they are. By realizing that they are jobs given to you by the Master Of The Universe, King Of All Kings, that will make it easier to yearn for the jobs and to wholeheartedly accept whatever comes your way and lands in your plate.

Torah Riddles Test #106

  1. Question: How does the Noda B’Yehuda differentiate between inheritance and a sale in regards to the mitzvah of not owning chometz?

Background:

A. Noda B’Yehuda (Mahadura Kamma Orach Chaim 20) writes that if one dies after the sixth hour and he did not sell or nullify his chometz, his inheritors don’t need to destroy it and it is permissible after Pesach since chometz is not property inherited by his children.

B. The Noda B’Yehuda (Mahadura Kamma 19) writes to answer for a Rambam in the first chapter of hilchos chometz and matzah that if it would not have been chometz it would belong to him therefore the pasuk of “bal yeraeh” should put it back into his possession on Pesach for the asking of attaining a prohibition, in a case of where a person buys chometz, which the halacha is he gets lashes, even though zechia, positive acquisition does not apply to object which are forbidden to get benefit from, but since the Torah reveals that it is his through the verse of “bal yeraeh” then it is considered money/property in regards to zechiah.

 C. Acquisitions work even when not yours like by stealing.

Answer: Chametz on Pesach is only yours in regards to prohibition so it cannot work to inherit because it’s not monetarily yours, and Hashem won’t automatically put it in your possession if you didn’t play any role to get it. But in regards to a sale since you can acquire things illegally like by stealing then you can acquire it in regards to only having a prohibition as well, since you actively tried getting it.

Torah Riddles Test #105

  1. Question: Why is getting rid of chometz more strict then performing a bris?

Background:

A. They both are punishments of kares if not done.

B. They both are considered transgressed every moment they aren’t fulfilled after the time to do the mitzvah has come, according to the Machatzis Hashekel.

C. There are two parts to every mitzvah (1) the mitzvah itself, (2) the obligation to fulfill the mitzvah itself. D. The mitzvah itself by chometz is to not have chometz in your possession. The mitzvah itself of milah is to perform the cut of the  milah just once.

Answer: By chometz, as long as you are not getting rid of your chometz you are transgressing the obligation of the mitzvah which is to get rid of the chometz and the mitzvah itself of not having chometz in your possession, but by milah you only transgress the mitzvah itself of not having the milah cut, but the obligation to actively cut the milah is not being transgressed it just has not been done yet.

Torah Riddles Test #104

  1. Question: According to the Ta”z what’s the difference between a slab of meat which you are unsure whether the unkosher fats and sinews were removed where we assume it was removed and a house before Pesach where you are unsure if it was checked and cleaned out of Chometz where we assume it was not checked?

 Background:

  1. The Ta”z (Yoreh Deah 127:6) holds that if one is unsure whether a slab of meat had any unkosher fats and sinew taken from it or not we don’t assume it is forbidden because the meat itself wasn’t originally forbidden and the prohibition is just the unkosher fats and sinews, we are just worried that while eating the meat you might take a bite of the fat or sinew. Since what would be permissible after the removal was permissible the whole entire time just that it was mixed up with forbidden things therefore

 it is not considered to be assumed prohibition, ischazek isura.

B. The Shach in the Nekudas Hakesef argues there and holds that since originally it was forbidden to eat this piece of meat then its considered ischazek isura.

C. The Shev Shmaisa (6:5) explaining the view of the Shach says that he has to admit the meat is assumed permissible but it is also assumed to not have what’s forbidden removed. He brought a proof to this assumption from a Beis Yosef (Orach Chaim 437) that poskin by a house which we are unsure if it was checked from chometz is assumed to be unchecked. This means that granted the house itself is permissible but the chometz inside would be forbidden we still assume the house was unchecked.

D. The Rabbis enacted that the person living in the house has to check it for chometz.

E. People don’t have to eat meat.

Answer: The obligation is what triggers the assumption of being forbidden so because there is an obligation to check the house then we assume it is unchecked until we know it was checked but there is no obligation to eat meat so the assumption that the forbidden fats and sinews weren’t removed doesn’t kick in.

Torah Riddles Test #28

  1. Question: Rabbi Akiva Aiger asks and answers in his Responsa, first version, siman 30: Why do you make a blessing on separating Terumah even if done in one’s mind but a blessing is not said over bitul chometz, which can also be done in one’s mind?

Background:

A. The Mishna Berura 432:1:3 says that you don’t say the blessing of “al bitul chometz “ upon nullifying the chometz since the main part of the bitul is dependent on the heart and we don’t say blessings on matters that pertain to one’s heart or thoughts.

 B. After teruma is separated from fruit it is given to the kohen but in this case the teruma is separated in one’s mind and the blessing is goes on separating teruma, not the giving.

C. What is Rebbe Akiva Aiger’s answer?

Answer: The purpose of separating teruma is to give it to the kohen so even if it was separated in one’s thoughts it is as if he did something which has an action since in the end it will lead to an action, i.e. giving it to the kohen. But nullifying the chometz is completely done in one’s heart even if he verbally announces it to the world.

Torah Riddles Test #27

  1. Question: Why does one make a blessing of “al biur chometz” at the time of burning when he found chometz on Yom Tov but before Pesach we say the blessing by the checking, bedikas chometz?

Background:

 A. The Magen HaAlef (2) poskins that if one realizes on Yom Tov that he did not check for chometz before Pesach then he should check for chometz and cover it if he finds any because it is muktzah on Yom Tov and then on chol hamoed he should burn it with a blessing.

B.Normally we say the blessing and check for chometz the night before the eve of Pesach, then burn it in the morning, which is the proper time to burn the chometz, before chatzos, noonish. By chatzos all chometz is forbidden and automatically made ownerless by the Torah if you have not done it yourself by then.

 C. In normal circumstances the checking at night is considered the beginning of the mitzvah of burning and that is why the blessing is said then.

D. In both cases the checking and burning are on different days so why is the blessing said at different times?

Answer: As long as the time for burning hadn’t come yet then the checking is considered the beginning of the process of burning but once the time of burning already past and you found chometz on Yom Tov but you can’t just burn it until chol hamoed then the checking isn’t considered the beginning of the mitzvah since the time you burn has already past, so finding it is just one action and burning it is another action which just couldn’t be done earlier since it was muktzah. (See footnote 4 in Dirshu Mishna Berura 435:1:3)

Torah Riddles Test #26

  1. Question: Why do we apply the rule of “Trei mashehu lo amrinan” that little bits don’t transfer twice when it comes to foods but not when it comes to vessels like a stirring spoon?

Background:

 A. The Mishna Berura (467:9:37) says, If a ladle stirred soup that had a cracked kernel of barley found inside it on Pesach while piping hot then you use the ladle to stir another boiling hot pot it ruins all the food in the pot and the pot because since it can prohibit with even a little bit then we assume even that little bit of taste went out of the spoon and into the next pot of soup.

B. The Shaar Hatzion (67) says this only applies by a spoon transferring from liquid to liquid but if that cracked barley kernel fell on a piece of hot meat and then that hot meat got mixed up with other hot solid foods like vegetables and there is a majority to nullify its taste, then as long as you can see and take out that solid piece of meat which had the chometz absorbed in it, then everything else is permitted at least to get benefit from and even to eat if not eating it would detract from the joy of Yom Tov.

C. The Taz (17) asks why the rule that little bits of taste don’t transfer twice apply to the spoon mixing two pots of soup just as it applies to the food.

D. Food has their own tastes absorbed in it but spoons don’t have their own tastes absorbed in them.

Answer: The Dirshu Mishna Berura note 41 quotes the Elya Rabba (447:1) saying that a little bit [of taste] absorbed in a spoon is different from a little bit absorbed in a solid food substance, for when it is absorbed in food the [foreign taste] clings to it and does not get spit out again from it and therefore we can apply the rule of “trei mashehu lo amrinan” but when absorbed in a spoon, since the spoon does not have its own taste, then the [chometz taste that was absorbed] does not cling to it so it then gets spit out into the other pot [the spoon was mixing.]

Torah Riddles Test #25

  1. Question: Why is taste of chometz absorbed in food more stringent than taste of chometz absorbed in a vessel on Pesach?

Background:

A. The Rema (467:10) holds that we have a custom to burn a chicken which has a cracked kernel of wheat found in it, and you can’t leave it until after Pesach even though the physical chometz was removed and only the taste is absorbed in the chicken.

B. The Shulchan Aruch (451:1) says that any earthen ware vessels that chometz like oatmeal, which one uses throughout the year should be washed off of all physical chometz and put away until after Pesach. The Mishna Berura (2) says this applies to any other type of vessel if you don’t want to kasher them.

C. The Chazon Ish (Orach Chaim 117:15) says that technically one does not have to sell any chometz which is absorbed in vessels though he does include them in the language of his document of selling chometz as a stringency to get rid of every last bit of chometz.

D. The Chazon Ish says that really absorbed taste of chometz cannot be sold because it has no physical substance to it but since the taste can come out of the wall of the vessel it can be considered physical so he stringently sold it but Rav Elyashiv and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav both say as long as there aren’t any physical chometz on vessels they don’t have to be sold before Pesach.

E. The Chazon Ish in note 12 said that absorbed taste in a vessel is like chometz which was left in rubble which isn’t edible.

Answer: The Dirshu Mishna Berura (451:1:2:2) quoting the Chazon Ish answers that taste of chometz absorbed in food is different from taste absorbed in vessels since it is still edible in food even though it is not physically there but when eating the chicken for example it is like you would eat the chometz absorbed inside it, with it, so it should be burned according to the Rema except in extenuating circumstances.

Torah Riddles Test #24

Question: Explain the argument between Rebbe Akiva Aiger and the Ra”n on whether nullifying chometz within a majority of non-chometz is different from nullifying sheep wool in a majority of camel wool to combine it with linen and not transgress shaatnez?

Background:

A. The Teshuvas HaRan (64) says that chometz before the time of being forbidden to own is nullified in non-chometz even though it is permitted food being mixed with permitted food. It is just like a Mishna in Kilayim 9:1 which says that sheep wool and camel mixed together, if the majority is camel wool than it can be interwoven into linen and it is not shaatnez because only wool from a sheep is forbidden to be mixed with linen and camels aren’t sheep and the sheep wool is nullified to the majority of camel wool, even if it is permissible wool being mixed with permissible wool since the sheep wool isn’t intertwined with the linen yet.

B. Rebbe Akiva Aiger says the cases are incomparable because the sheep wool has a forbidden name to it to be mixed with linen so it can be nullified in the camel wool as if it is forbidden stuff being nullified in permitted stuff. Whereas chometz has no connection to prohibition whatsoever before the forbidden time on the eve of Passover.

C. What is the reason for prohibition?

Answer: Rebbe Akiva Aiger holds the reason for prohibition by chometz is time so that is why it is different from shaatnez but the Ra”n holds the reason for prohibition is the item i.e. the chometz it is just restricted by time meaning it is only prohibited on Pesach just like shaatnez where the reason for prohibition is the sheep wool but only when mixed with linen.