Shabat Chol Ha'Moed Pesach

April 15th, 2017

19th of Nisan 5777


Freedom is rooted in the Festival of Pesach

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Chazal say (Pesachim 116b) “In every generation a man is bound to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth from Egypt.” This seems to be impossible. How can one be obligated to feel now as if he was released from the bondage of Egypt when he never was enslaved there?

This can be compared to a poor person who is so impoverished that he does not even have a piece of bread to satisfy his hunger. It is not possible for him to feel satisfied like a rich person. And the opposite is true as well. A rich person who lacks nothing cannot feel the pain of a poor person who is penniless. 

We can explain this in the following way. In order for a person to acquire solid faith and achieve this feeling; to appreciate that if Hashem had not taken our forefathers out of Egypt then we and our children would still be enslaved to Pharaoh, he needs to supplicate in prayer. Furthermore, he has to educate his children to solid faith in their youth. This is why we must tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt at length, in order to instill in the hearts of our children true faith in Hashem without a shadow of doubt.

Now, while writing this article on Isru Chag, my little son asked me: Why do we eat only Matzah on Pesach, while the rest of the year we may eat chametz and Matzah? I told him: You already asked me that on the Leil Haseder, “Ma nishtana halayla hazeh mikol haleilot – why is this night different than all other nights of the year,” and I answered you. He said to me: The answer you gave me was not sufficient. Then I began to explain to him again.

But in the end, when I saw him still dissatisfied, I told him that this is what the A-lmighty commanded. But he rejoined: Whenever you have no answer to a question that I ask you, you tell me that this is what Hashem commanded. I smiled and told him: You are right. Give me some time to look into the subject, and I will give you an answer.

We see here that if a child grows up with doubts, chalilla, when he will mature, he will probably continue to harbor those doubts, and perhaps will be even more doubtful. He will not be able to sense the miracles and wonders that Hashem performed for our forefathers when he took them out of Egypt. Then when he will get married and build his own home and conduct the Leil Haseder with his family, he will read the Haggadah like some story, without any emotion. He will not transmit with excitement that if Hashem had not redeemed our ancestors from Egypt in His great mercy, then he would still be enslaved in Egypt.

If a person reflects and connects himself with the past, when Bnei Yisrael were enslaved in Egypt and suffered terrible affliction, and he experiences their pain, and visualizes how Hashem performed for them wondrous miracles and inflicted their enemies with ten Makkot, and he rejoices with their joy, then he himself feels as if he was liberated. But if he does not relive the grief and pain of his forefathers and rejoice in their salvation, he is far from appreciating the miracles done for his fathers and for himself, and he will not experience a sense of liberation.

Therefore, Pesach is truly a time of liberation. It is a result of the liberation that our forefathers experienced in Egypt, through great and wondrous miracles, without which we would not exist as free men. When Hashem performed the miracle for our forefathers in Egypt, He saw to it that the impact of those miracles would continue infusing sanctity and awareness of Hashem’s existence for all succeeding generations. They will be drawn and receive inspiration from the sanctity of the first Festival and the miracles which happened then. Subsequently, when a person is inspired to greatly rejoice, then surely he feels the great joy to be a free man, as our forefathers experienced when they left Egypt.  

This can be compared to a locomotive of a train pulling dozens of cars. All the cars are drawn by the first locomotive, which is the most important component, in which the driver sits and runs the engine. Only a fool would think that the last car operates independently of the head locomotive.

Consequently, a person must carry on the joy of the Festival just as he rejoiced on the Festival itself. It leads us to continue with our close connection with Hashem even after the Festival, serving Hashem with joy, cleaving to Him and believing in Him, just like our sacred Fathers did, whose names are alluded to in Hashem’s Name “Ehyeh.”

What is the reason that we say the Blessings of the Fathers in the Amidah? This is in order to connect to them in serving Hashem. By arousing their merits upon us, their merits serve to protect us in this lowly world where the Yetzer Hara attempts to disconnect us and distance us from Hashem.

Actually, why did the Torah make an allusion to the Name of “Ehyeh” through the words “ach sameach – only joyous,” (“ach” has the same numerical value of “Ehyeh”). This signifies that only through joy, a person can cleave to the Shechinah with this Name, since through this Name Bnei Yisrael were redeemed from Egypt, and are destined to be redeemed, with the help of G-d, in the Final Redemption, may it be speedily in our days, through this Name, as it is stated (Shemot 3:14), "Ehyeh asher ehyeh (I will be what I will be)," and Rashi explains: “I will be” with them in this predicament “what I will be” with them in their subjugation by other kingdoms. 

Walking in their ways

The Natural Order

On a trip to Los Angeles, I visited an enormous bakery which produces cakes, breads, and a host of other baked goods. Upon entering the kitchen, I found a machine, some hundreds of meters long. Flour is poured into one end, and fragrant, freshly-baked bread comes out of the other end. I was mesmerized by this hunk of metal and watched how it operates. After a specific amount of flour was measured into it, it would sift out the chaff. Water and other ingredients enter automatically. This machine never becomes tired and works the ingredients very well, kneading them into a soft, supple dough.

I was entranced as I observed all the steps of braiding, baking, and packaging, until the products were ready for sale.

It struck me that when a person watches such a machine, he may think it is supernatural. In a most wonderful manner, it has produced food fit for human consumption. But anyone with any sense in his head knows that this is not the case.

Whatever is produced by this massive machine is due only to those who operate it, who feed it with flour, electricity, and the proper instructions. Without human intervention, this machine would be useless.

So is the world of Hashem. Looking at it from the outside, one may think that luminaries, the clouds, and the rain are all-powerful. The earth and other natural elements combine to bring us abundant wheat and succulent fruits.

But upon reflection, one will realize that there is a Master behind the scenes. It is His power alone which causes the elements of nature to function optimally. Without His intervention, the world would not only cease to function; it would simply cease to be.

Guard Your Tongue

The Community must support him

There is an injustice that many people commit. For example, there are people in the community who are known to be poor, and they must be provided with charity. However, word is spread that they are not really poor, but they pretend to be poor in order to deceive people.

According to the Torah, this is a grave injustice, because this constitutes lashon hara. According to the Torah, one may not believe this lashon hara, but may only be cautious, because he is still considered to be poor, since for a long time he is known as a poor person. The members of his community are obligated to support him, and are only permitted to beware of the rumor spread about him and check it out thoroughly. As long as it has not been clarified entirely, it is not permissible to exempt oneself from his obligation to provide charity. Concerning this, Chazal quote the pasuk, “Do not rob a poor man because he is poor.”

Words of Our Sages

How many teeth do we have?

The answer to this question varies from person to person, and is rooted in his national identity:

There is something amazing written in the sefer “Midrash Talpiot” (Anaf Eivarim), that only Jews have thirty-two teeth, but members of the other nations of the world have thirty three-teeth. A non-Jew who is destined to convert, Hashem creates him in the first place with thirty-two teeth.

Rabbeinu Chaim Vital says that this is alluded to in the pasuk “U’leven shinayim michalav - and white toothed from milk” (Bereishit 49:12). The word “U’leven” alludes to the numerical value of thirty-two, and thus we can infer that the number of teeth a Jew has is thirty-two, just like the thirty-two – “Netivot Chochmah – ways of wisdom.”

The gaon Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, shlit”a, tells about a non-Jewish doctor in the Diaspora, who was very anti-Semitic, and when a man came to him for treatment, he would count his teeth. If he had thirty-two teeth, he would refuse to treat him.

A different count of teeth is brought in the sefer “Minchat Yehuda,” who writes that the Gentiles only have thirty-one teeth, and consequently the explanation was given to what is stated in the Hagaddah in the following way: “Since he takes himself out of the group, he denies everything. You should also give him a blunt answer” (lit. break his tooth). Because the wicked child is a heretic, he is considered like a Gentile, and therefore, he does not need thirty-two teeth, which is characteristic of Jewish people. Thus, his tooth must be broken and then he will have thirty-one teeth, just like the other Gentiles.  

A great Torah scholar, who learned in the yeshivah of the Chafetz Chaim related: I would often come to the house of the Chafetz Chaim. Once, when the Chafetz Chaim was about eighty-three years old, despite the weakness he experienced then, he was in an exceptionally good mood. Because of his weakness, Rabbeinu lay in bed. Suddenly he motioned for me to draw closer to him, and asked me to open his mouth. When I hesitated, he told me again, “Open my mouth.”

After his second request, I did as he asked, and opened his holy mouth. Two lines of white, snow-white teeth appeared, neatly arranged and perfect. It resembled the teeth of a small child who had not yet damaged the teeth that he had received from Hashem.

The Chafetz Chaim turned to me and made another request: “Count how many teeth I have in my mouth.” Again, he did not allow me to think too much, and urged me to count his teeth. What shall I say? I began the difficult task, and at the end, I reached thirty-two, exactly the number of teeth that Hashem created in man. Not one tooth was missing nor damaged! All the teeth were healthy and strong as on the day they were given.

It goes without saying that at such an old age as the Chafetz Chaim was at the time, there are not many who merit such a gift. After I did as he requested, the Chafetz Chaim took my hand and said with a smile, with a smile that I will never forget, “I guarded the mouth that Hashem gave me, and therefore, Hashem preserved my mouth.”

The Haftarah

The haftarah of the week: “The hand of the Lord came upon me” (Yechezkiel 37)

The connection to Shabbat Chol Hamoed: Yechezkiel’s prophecy mentions the resurrection of the dead and the redemption of Bnei Yisrael, which is related to the Festival of Pesach, since in the month of Nisan we were redeemed, and in the month of Nissan we are destined to be Redeemed.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Lessons from the Names of Pesach

The Festival of Pesach is called the Festival of Matzot, and matzot is from the same root word as mitzvot. Bnei Yisrael came out on this holiday from Egypt in order to accept upon themselves the mitzvot. Just as the matzot are thin, so too, a person loves the mitzvot and wishes to feel that they are not difficult. We know, Hashem does not give mitzvot to Am Yisrael which they cannot abide. Although the mitzvot seem to us big and difficult, they are really small and every person can perform them. This is why the Festival of Matzot is called by its name which refers to mitzvot.

This Festival is also called the Festival of Pesach, and Pesach is from the root word of passing over. This signifies that a person can “pass over” i.e. forget the past and begin a new page. Just like Hashem passed over the houses of Am Yisrael, we pass over all the bad things we have done until now, and concentrate only on the fulfillment of mitzvot.

I also would like to add that the Festival of Pesach is a special Holiday, since everyone prepares for this Festival; rich and poor alike. I feel that on this Festival the Jewish soul awakens, because the Festival of Pesach is a Festival filled with mitzvot, such as leaning, the Four Cups, eating matzot, and eating Maror. All of the miracles that Hashem performed for them were in order to prepare them for receiving the mitzvot.  

Of course, we feel the Festival of Pesach today by all the cleaning we do, since there is not home that is not cleaned. Even those who are not at home for the Festival clean their home, because there is an awakening of cleanliness. Regarding this, Chzal say that this is the Festival of cleansing from sin. One cleanses himself from sin and performs mitzvot, in fulfillment of “mishchu yedaychem m’avodah zara v’kechu lachem tzon shel mitzvah – draw forth your hands from idolatry and buy for yourself a sheep of a mitzvah.”

Indeed, in order to feel what the Festival of Pesach is, one has to be Jewish, since only a Jew feels the sanctity of Pesach. Regarding this it is stated, “Pesach hu l’Hashem – It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord,” it is the Festival of Hashem. Just as Hashem passed over the houses of Bnei Yisrael during the Plague of the Firstborn and killed only the Egyptian first-born, so should we feel on this Holiday.

It is clear to us that the Festival of Pesach and the Festival of Matzot are connected to one another; one must skip the sins and observe the mitzvoth, both Pesach and Matzah. This implies that a person must arrange to skip over all the bad things that he did and begin doing good deeds and fulfilling mitzvot. This is also a facet of cleaning for Pesach. One must wash himself and skip the bad things in order to don new clean clothes. Therefore, this holiday is also known as the Festival of Pesach, as well as the Festival of Matzot.


The following is a piyut (liturgy) about the Festival of the Matzot composed by Rabbeinu Chaim Pinto, zya”a

(The first letters of each line spell “אני חיים בר שלמה חזק.  - I am Chaim bar Shlomo chazak.”)

אשורר שירה חדשה, לה' עושה גדולות

הלוא הוא, הפליא ועשה, מופתים ואותות מעולות

ועדה ברה וקדושה, הוציא אותה מאפלות

ואור גדול האיר לנו, כאור חמה שבעתיים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

נתן לדם את מימיהם, ולשתות מהם לא יכלו

וכן עשו חרטומיהם, לשטח הנראה כולו

כי אין השליטה להם, במה שהו אמת חתלו

ולא סר ממעללו, האכזר מלך מצרים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

יחיד שליט בנבראים, גזר וצפרדע עלתה

וממנה היו יוצאים מחנות וזעקה רבתה

ובתוך מעיהם נחבאים, לא האמינו גם עתה

כי בלהטיהם נעשתה צפרדע במצרים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

חזק יסף להכותם, בכנים בכל גבולם

רחש ובם ובבהמתם, כי כן גזר מלך עולם

חרטומים קצרה יכולתם, בושו ונכלמו כולם

אמרו זאת אצבע חי נעלם, שלא-להי השמים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

יחד באו ונאספו, כל מיני חיות הטורפים

טרף גדול בהם טרפו, מאד והנם זועפים

דבר ושחין בם נגפו, ברד כבד בו רשפים

הכה בו רעים מקציפים, אל מתחת השמים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

יסף אדיר להכותם, מכה רבה ועצומה

ארבה עלה לאדמתם, ויכסה את אור החמה

אכל פרי תנובתם, וכל עשבי האדמה

נהלל לשוכן רומה, השם נפשינו בחיים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

מלך שלח חושך להם, ונעשו כולם כעורים

ולא ראו את אחיהם שלושת ימים אמורים

ולא קמו מתחתיהם, שלושת ימים אחרים

נגלו מצפונים אחרים, אל בני א-להים חיים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

בכל זאת חיזק את לבו, רשע עריץ ולא אבה

לשלח את עם קרובו, אל ארץ טובה ורחבה

ויך כל בכור באוייביו, הוא ולא מלאך שר צבא

ויציל לאום אהובה, ולא חלו בה ידים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

רצה לזכות עדתו, וברוב חסדיו גמלם

לפרוש מחמץ מצוותו, בזמן זה לדורות עולם

כי עם השטן חברתו, אחים, ולא יתפרדו כולם

מצה חלקם וגורלם, הנה טובים השניים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

שלושה שמורות סודם, שלוש ראשונות מאירות

מוחין דאבא יסודם, המה בראש ועטרות

זרוע קו ימין נגדם, ביצה לצד הגבורות

מרור ביניהם מתווך, לקח אליו פי שניים

ויהיו אלה בתווך, והוא בין המשפתיים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

חרוסת תחת זרוע, סודות נצח בה נתכנו

ההוד אל הכרפס ריע, ותחת הביצה תנו

וביניהם הן בוקע, יסוד חזרת אופנו

קערה מלכות אמנו, נשלמו עשר אורים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

שירו מאד לא-להודו, פינו יספר נוראותיו

טובו סלח גבר חסדו, עלינו על פי מידותיו

כל גויים כאין נגדו, ובישראל שם תורותיו

ויכתירם בעטרותיו, לאיש כתרים שניים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:

חדש כקדם ימינו, למה נשכחנו

זה כמה, זכרנו ושמחנו עשה בגויים נקמה,

קנא לכבודך אבינו ושלח מנחם נחמה

אז יגדל שמך רב עוצמה הנוטה כדוק שמים

בחוזק יד הוציאנו ה' ממצרים:


Almonds for Sale

Rabbi Chaim Hagadol had two pious and G-d-fearing friends who engaged in business, enjoying much success in their endeavors.

One year, there was an abundant crop of almonds, and the two merchants purchased large quantities in order to sell them in London. However, to their misfortune, they received a letter from the authorities in London informing them that the almonds were not suitable for consumption and had consequently been banned. They could not be marketed anywhere because they posed a health hazard.

Distressed, the merchants turned to the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim.

“What happened to you?”

“We invested all our capital in almonds. However, we were informed that the almonds are not good and had been banned. Moreover, we are not allowed to market them to any other retailer selling almonds.”

The tzaddik advised them, “Do not worry. First of all, write a letter to the authorities stating that the almonds are excellent merchandise. They are tasty and suitable for consumption. Meanwhile, store the almonds.”

Three months later, there was suddenly a large demand for almonds. Their value rose sharply to unprecedented heights. The two merchants approached Rabbi Chaim and asked him how to proceed.

The tzaddik told them, “If the profit is substantial, you may sell the almonds. Write to the authorities again informing them that the almonds are very good and should not be banned.”

They did as the Rav told them and ultimately were able to sell them, earning a substantial profit from the sale.

This was the greatness of the tzaddik. Everything that he predicted materialized in the merit of his intense holiness (Shevach Chaim).

Food For Thought

What to invest in

Once someone came to ask Rabbi Yehudah Tzadka, the Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef, advice about his business: What should he invest his money in?

He had two options, two opportunities, in order to prosper.

His question was: Which one should he choose?

Rabbeinu listened attentively to the man’s words and realized that this involved a huge business investment of enormous sums of money, which beyond doubt would disturb him and fill his mind all day and night, without leaving him time free for set times to study Torah and other spiritual pursuits.

The Rosh Yeshiva replied:

“From your words I understand that you have a lot of money and assets which could provide you with ample livelihood for the rest of your life. If so, tell me please: Why do even consider troubling yourself pursuing a world that does not belong to you? Has the time not come yet for you to say “enough” to chasing the vanities this world? Is it not preferable to invest your life in the study of Torah, Mishna, and Gemara, Halacha and Aggadah, mitzvot and good deeds, which is the safest and best investment that there is!”


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