Shabbat Hagadol

March 24th, 2018

8th of Nissan 5778


Alacrity leads to gratitude

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"If he is bringing it as a thanksgiving offering, he shall offer, along with the thanksgiving offering unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and scalded flour mixed with oil" (Vayikra 7:12)

This offering described in the pasuk is a korban Todah (thanksgiving offering), which a person brought for Hashem as a token of gratitude and thanksgiving for a miracle that was done for him. Included in those who offered this sacrifice are people who crossed the sea safely, traversed the desert, recovered from a life-threatening illness, or who were released from prison (see Rashi Zevachim 7a, starting by "lo didya"). This offering accustoms a person to acknowledge his gratitude to Hashem for the kindness and benevolence He bestowed upon him, as it is stated (Tehillim 107:22), "They shall give thanks to the L-rd for His kindness, and for His wonders to the children of men. And they shall slaughter sacrifices of thanksgiving."

Now, the leil haseder is the epitome of gratitude, when families get together and praise Hashem, "Who spoke, and the world came into being;" Who did wondrous miracles for them and redeemed them from the straits of slavery in Egypt. It is brought in the holy Zohar (Chelek II 40b) that when Am Yisrael praise Hashem and thank Him for the miracles of the Exodus from Egypt, Hashem gathers all the Heavenly Hosts and tells them, "Go and listen to Bnei Yisrael relating my praises, and expressing their joy over the salvation I brought them." Then, the angels return to Heaven and praise Hashem and laud Him over His holy people that He has on earth, and thus the glory and greatness Above in the heavenly spheres becomes magnified.

It is most incumbent upon man to reflect upon and acknowledge the benevolence of the Creator, Who sustains him in every way and surrounds him with endless loving-kindness every moment of the day, from the time he wakes up in the morning and says, "I gratefully thank You," until the end of the day, when he deposits his souls in the Hand of Hashem and says, "In your Hands I entrust my spirit." Certainly we all declare upon arising "I gratefully thank You…for You have returned my soul within me with compassion – abundant is Your faithfulness!" The question is if we really mean what we say, and if we are truly filled with deep gratitude over the magnitude of the miracles He has done for us. A person should not assume that because he wakes up every morning healthy and well he has no need to wholeheartedly recite "I gratefully thank You" with enthusiastic joy, thinking, "Why is today different than the day before?" So what do I have to get excited about?" This thought stems from a lack of acknowledgment for the benevolence of Hashem, and from becoming accustomed to all the loving-kindness, which Hashem constantly bestows upon us.

If we would consider the matter we would realize that there are many people who go to sleep completely healthy, but unfortunately they do not wake up in the morning. There are also many people who go to sleep assuming that they are completely well, but the next day they discover that they have a serious illness. If so, just for the mere fact that we get up healthy and well we should celebrate joyfully each morning and declare wholeheartedly, "I gratefully thank You" that the Creator restored our soul to us without any ailment or disorder.

Through the trait of alacrity and swiftness, a person can come to recognize the magnitude of Hashem's benevolence, and he can say "thank you" wholeheartedly with sincere gratitude. As proof of the matter, the author of the Shulchan Aruch (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 1:1) states: One should strengthen himself like a lion to rise in the morning and serve his Creator," because when a person gets up swiftly with alacrity and says "I gratefully thank You" with joy, he draws upon himself an abundance of goodness throughout the entire day, from beginning to end.

I can testify that this trait of alacrity and swiftness was characteristic of my righteous father, the tzaddik Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto, zya"a, who constantly instilled in us that swiftness attributes to half of one's achievements, as it is stated in Mishlei (22:29), "Have you seen a man quick in his work? He will stand before kings." This implies that alacrity is a prerequisite to achieving success. The lazy person loses out on all fulfillment, because when the time comes to achieve his aspiration, he is not ready to realize it, because he did not yet prepare himself for it.

May we always merit to acknowledge the Creator's goodness and thank Him for His benevolence, as the pasuk states (Tehillim 92:2), "It is good to give thanks to the L-rd, and to sing to Your name, O Most High."

Walking in Their Ways

A Spiritually Satisfying Repast

In my parents’ home in Morocco, as in all Jewish homes of those days, throughout the Pesach holiday, we would satisfy ourselves with potatoes, matzah, and a bit of chicken. Those days did not see the plethora of foods available today, all with superior hechsherim. All of the assorted foods, cakes, and drinks, were not even the stuff of dreams. Yet we lived very well. The holiday itself, including the changes it brought, gave us tremendous joy. In spite of the poor fare, we felt greatly enriched. Where there was a dearth of physical sustenance, we subsisted on food for the soul.

This teaches a valuable lesson. Throughout our lives, we crave various gourmet foods. We look for interesting recipes, in order to lend diversity to our dishes. Then, along comes Pesach and reminds us that it is all frivolous. It is possible to live very well for an entire week, and even longer, only on matzah, some potatoes, and water. The abundance of the modern world is superfluous and unnecessary. The more we fill ourselves with physical bounty, the less room we have for spirituality. Filling one’s plate with delicacies is an expression of feeding the Yetzer Hara with fleeting pleasures.

By satisfying oneself with the bare minimum and reducing one’s physical intake, he makes himself into a vessel fit to imbibe spirituality.

Relevant Topics

Summary of the halachot on the kashering of utensils for Pesach

Vessels that one uses with chametz are prohibited to be used on Pesach without kashering them. From the time that it is prohibited to eat chametz on erev Pesach, it is prohibited to use them without kashering them first. In the same way that the vessel was used with chametz, so is its kashering process, as will be explained below.

1. Every utensil is kashered for Pesach according to how it is used. For instance, if a utensil is used mainly for boiling, it is kashered through immersion in boiling water. And if it is mainly used in dry heat, as in the electric oven pans, it is kashered through libun – heating by fire until red-hot. Note that a utensil that was mainly used permissibly, but only once used for chametz, one does not go according to the majority of use, and the utensil must be kashered. Thus, a hot water urn on which one places borekas (knishes) to warm up, one may not use the urn for Pesach without kashering it properly. Likewise, a knife used for cutting bread, it if was once used for cutting a hot cake, or something similar, one must kasher the knife. Also a tea kettle used for tea brew only, if bread came in contact with it while the kettle was hot, it must be kashered.

2. Skewers that one uses for roasting meat on the fire, and sometimes comes in contact with chametz, since the usual way of using it is without liquid, they require libun – heating by fire until red-hot, until sparks of the fire bounce off. Immersion in boiling water does not kasher them.

3. Pans that one uses to bake challot require libun – heating by fire until red hot, until sparks of fire bounce off them. Therefore, the electric oven pans must undergo libun – heating by fire until red-hot, or to exchange them on Pesach with brand new pans.

4. Electric Ovens must first be cleaned as well as possible. It must thereafter be left unused for 24 hours prior to kashering. Then, one should light the oven on the highest heat possible and leave it on for an hour. This is sufficient.

5. Cake pans in which chametz pastries are baked are not kashered through immersion in boiling water, and since it is impossible to do libun because it will crack from the heat, one should not kasher it for Pesach.

6. Pots which are used for cooking on a stove top require kashering by immersion in boiling water. First one must wash it well, removing all particles of dirt and rust. The pot cover and handles also must be kashered by immersion in boiling water.

7. Handles of utensils that are attached by screws, one must first remove all dirt before kashering and wash them well with soap. This is also the case regarding the handle of a knife that is attached with rivets. It is best to buy a new knife for Pesach.

8. Grates, on which pots are placed for cooking, one must clean them and kasher them through immersion in boiling water. They may also be kashered by pouring hot water over them from a kli rishon (lit. “first vessel” – the pot that the water was boiled in). This is also the law for the gas stove top, and also for the place of the fire itself, one may kasher it after washing it well.

9. Electric hot plates can be kashered by pouring hot water over it from a kli rishon (“first vessel”), after cleaning it thoroughly.

10. Skillets which are used for frying with oil, can be kashered through immersion in hot water, and do not require libun. But frying pans used for frying without oil cannot be kashered through immersion in boiling water. Since it is not possible to do libun, they should not be used for Pesach.

11. Bowls and plates and teaspoons made of metal, which are generally used as a kli sheini (“second vessel”), may be kashered in a kli sheini. If they were kashered through immersion in boiling water, or by pouring boiling water over them through a kli rishon (“first vessel”), all the more so they will be kashered in this way.

12. Dentures must be cleaned from chametz as well as possible, and it is preferable to pour boiling water over them through a kli rishon ("first vessel").

13. Earthenware cannot be kashered if they were used for hot food during the year. They should be stored in a closed place so that one should not mistakenly use them.

14. Porcelain dishes come under the same category as earthenware, and if they were used for hot food, they cannot be kashered. All the more so, this is true of earthenware dishes coated similar to porcelain.

15. Sinks in which pots and dishes are washed, even if they are made of earthenware, one should clean it thoroughly and pour boiling water over it so it will be permissible to use on Pesach. Likewise, the marble counters should be washed well and have boiling water poured over them, and some are stringent to line the counters with aluminum foil as well for Pesach.

16. Glassware does not absorb and does not emit taste at all, and does not require a hechsher for Pesach, even if used for chametz for extended periods. The tradition of Ashkenazim is to be as stringent with glassware as with earthenware.

The Haftarah

The haftarah that is read: “Then the offering of Yehudah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to Hashem.” (Malachi 3)

The connection to the parashah: The haftarah mentions that Hashem will send us Eliyahu Hanavi, of blessed memory, to herald the future redemption. This is similar to what happened on Shabbat Hagadol, when Hashem sent Moshe Rabbeinu, to herald the redemption from Egypt.

Guard Your Tongue

Who is an Apikores?

"Apikores" (a heretic whom it is a mitzvah to scorn) is defined as one who denies the Torah or the prophecies of Israel, either the written Torah or the Oral Torah. Even if he says that he believes in the entire Torah except for one verse or one law which is derived from the Torah through the principles transmitted at Sinai, he is considered an Apikores.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

The influence of a thought

Often Parashat Tzav is read on Shabbat HaGadol, and we need to clarify what the connection is between Parashat Tzav and Shabbat Hagadol.

In order to explain this, let us first clarify that Shabbat HaGadol is called in this way to signify the wondrous miracles that Hashem did for our forefathers in Egypt, since the Egyptians did not kill them out of rage when they saw them tying their god to the foot of their bed for four days, and afterward roasting it over fire, and eating it in large groups. Chazal state (see Tur Orach Chaim 430) that when the Egyptians saw the Jews roasting their god, they ground their teeth in anger, but they could not retaliate. They were so enraged that their teeth fell out.

This is perplexing. Why did Hashem order us to slaughter the idol of the Egyptians and roast it and eat it? Could Hashem not have shown us His Omnipotence and mighty strength through wondrous events, without having to slaughter the lamb?

I would like to suggest that even though it is clear that Hashem could have instilled faith in the hearts of Am Yisrael through wondrous miracles, nevertheless, Hashem knew that Am Yisrael had to perform an action which would leave them with a strong impression and would cause them to wipe out of their minds entirely any trace of the Egyptian idolatry. Certainly through wondrous miracles and events Am Yisrael could have come to believe in Hashem and observe His commandments faithfully, but at the same time they would have continued harboring faith in the power of the Egyptian gods and believe in them as well.

Although Bnei Yisrael would not have come to serving the idols because of their staunch faith in their Creator, but nevertheless, they may have entertained ideas about the power of the Egyptian gods, because they had been under the influence of the Egyptians for so many years, and surely they were affected by their idolatry.

The Egyptians also believe in a higher power, but they think that they have to serve it together with the lamb, G-d forbid. So it is possible that also Bnei Yisrael would have believed in the Creator, but they would also have attributed importance to the lamb and believed it had some power. When Bnei Yisrael were commanded to slaughter the lamb, they thereby eradicated any trace of belief in it from their hearts, until they wholeheartedly believed in Hashem's sole sovereignty, without any partners.

This is the connection between Parashat Tzav and Shabbat HaGadol. Parashat Tzav teaches us about the severity of corrupt thoughts, even when they are not accompanied by action. Also from Shabbat HaGadol, which is called this way because of the great miracles performed for us, we learn about the severity of corrupt thoughts, since Hashem instructed Bnei Yisrael to slaughter the lamb, in order that, G-d forbid, no corrupt thought should slip into their minds by attributing power to the lamb. Even though they would not dare to actually serve it, however, the mistaken thought alone of attributing power to the lamb had the ability to weaken their service of Hashem and diminish their faith.

Chazak U'Baruch

Let us imagine that on one bright clear day a new segulah is publicized, which was never known before, that has the ability to bring our prayers straight to the Heavenly Throne. The bulletin boards would immediately be flooded with colorful advertisements announcing the new segulah, and everywhere people would discuss the new segulah and the opportunity at hand. There is no one who would miss the chance to take advantage of the powerful segulah!

Well, we are about to reveal this new segulah: The segulah stems from the Beit Midrash of the holy Arizal, elucidated clearly in black and white:

"Before a person begins his prayers in the Beit Haknesset, from Parashat Ha'Akeida and onward, he must accept upon himself the mitzvah of 'Love your fellow as yourself,' and he should intend to love every single Jew wholeheartedly, because through this his prayers will ascend High from among all the prayers of all Jews, and will they will bear fruit."

Who would not want his prayers to ascend Above to the Heavenly Throne? Who is not prepared to do everything in order to merit this? Who does not want an explicit assurance from the Arizal that his prayers will bear fruit? There is no one who would want to miss this opportunity. 

The Arizal teaches us the secret: He reveals to us the "segulah" that has the potential to take our prayers up to the Heavenly Throne and even insure that they bear fruit!

What is this segulah?

It is so simple: "Before a person begins to pray in the Beit Haknesset, he should accept upon himself the mitzvah of "Love your fellow as yourself," and intend to love each and every Jew wholeheartedly!" That's it!!!

The logic behind this segulah is simple and clear:

Every prayer has its own capacities. Every prayer that a Jew utters when he opens his siddur and talks to his Father in heaven is very powerful. But what would we say about a prayer that had a number of causes together propelling it upward? And what about a prayer that hundreds or thousands of Jews send up? And what about the force of all of Bnei Yisrael together pleading to have their prayer ascend before the Heavenly Throne?

When a person intends to love each and every Jew wholeheartedly, he follows the text of the prayer, since when he recites the prayer of "You graciously endow man," he is not praying for himself alone, but for the entire public! When he asks during the prayer of "Heal us, Hashem," and "Bless on our behalf," he is not asking for himself alone, but for all of Bnei Yisrael everywhere! Thus it is not surprising that the awesome force of all the people in unity adds to the power of the prayer, sending it straight up to the Heavenly Throne.

Men of Faith

Rabbi Pinchas Amos told this awesome story regarding Rabbi Chaim Hakatan’s Divine inspiration:

At that time in Morocco, it was customary for women to prepare their own yeast for baking bread. One year, chemical yeast appeared on the market. Rabbi Pinchas Amos’s grandfather was meticulous in keeping kosher. He adamantly refused to eat bread baked with the chemical yeast.

The tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Hakatan, who knew him well, became aware of his stringency through Divine inspiration and came to visit him. During their conversation, the host divulged that he refused to eat bread containing the chemical yeast.

Rabbi Chaim turned to him and said, “The yeast was deemed kosher by the Va’ad Hakashrut of the community. Please, do not create dissent among the people by refusing to accept their authority.”

Rabbi Amos’s grandfather, who relied implicitly on the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim in all matters, accepted his reproof. From then on, he agreed to eat bread baked with chemical yeast.

We may add that this matter is discussed in the Torah. It clearly states that one must accept the decisions rendered by the Torah Sages, “And you shall be careful to do according to everything that they will teach you… you shall not turn from the word that they will tell you, right or left.”  If, G-d forbid, a person doubts the decisions of the Sages, there is no guarantee to where they may stray. Therefore, Rabbi Chaim instructed Rabbi Pinchas’ grandfather to abide by the Sages who permitted the yeast, and not take a stringent stand.

From this story we see the efforts that the tzaddik invested in order to avoid dissent between the people and the Rabbanim of his time.

Food For Thought

Signing the check with a picture of a ship

"If he is bringing it as a thanksgiving offering" (7:12)

A substantial part of the parashah deals with the sacrifice of thanksgiving that one offers in the Beit Hamikdash as a token of gratitude to thank the Creator after recovering from illness, returning from a dangerous journey, or being released from prison, and so on.

The Chida, zy"a, tells about his grandfather, Rabbi Avraham Azulai, who came with his family right after the Expulsion from Spain to the city of Fez, Morocco.

As they emerged from the sea and reached land, without their personal possessions, a storm suddenly hit the ship, rocking it violently, until it sank with everything in it. 

In memory of the miracle that had been done for them, and to make sure they would never forget it over time, he always drew the shape of a ship as his signature.


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