Shabat HaGadol

April 4th, 2020

10th of Nisan 5780


Performing Mitzvot with Fiery Enthusiasm

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"Command Aharon and his sons, saying: This is the law of the burnt-offering" (Vayikra 6:2)

Rashi writes, "'Tzav command' is an expression of urging, for now and for future generations. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said this exhortation is especially relevant to commandments that involve a monetary loss."

The Kohanim had a certain benefit from each korban, for they received part of the meat of the offering, besides the burnt-offering which was burnt in its entirety on the mizbe'ach and of which they received the hide only. This being the case, when commanding them about the burnt-offering, the Torah was concerned that maybe they will be lax with this service since it involved monetary loss. This is why specifically now the Torah uses the term 'tzav command', urging them to be zealous in performing this service.

This holds a moral lesson for us, a message for all generations. Even today when due to our sins we no longer have a Beit Hamikdash and the opportunity to offer korbanot, we must still take a lesson from this as to the way to serve Hashem. A person should urge himself to be zealous in fulfilling Hashem's will and not be lazy in performing the mitzvot. This applies even concerning mitzvot that seem to involve a monetary loss or in cases where we do not seem to derive any personal benefit and even mitzvot that entail a considerable expense, for example purchasing superior quality tefillin or buying a beautiful etrog. Similarly, concerning the mitzvot of charity and acts of kindness a person must be very careful not to allow the evil inclination to persuade him to save on the expense and fulfill his duty only according to the law and no more. Rather he should banish the Yetzer Hara and urge himself to zealously fulfill Hashem's command. This is what the expression 'tzav command', which implies urging, comes to teach us. A person should willingly and joyfully dispense with his money for the sake of fulfilling Hashem's commandments.

Another lesson that we can learn from the burnt-offering that was completely burnt for Hashem, is that all of a person's actions must be carried out entirely for Hashem's honor. Even when a person eats, drinks or sleeps or is otherwise occupied with his physical needs, he should intend that he is doing this not for his own pleasure but rather that he should have the strength and good health to be able to serve Hashem and continue his holy work with more strength. In this way, even his physical actions will be performed for the sake of Heaven.

Maran the Chafetz Chaim zya"a, was accustomed to from town to town in order to sell his sefarim. He once stopped by a certain inn in Vilna, where he noticed a coarse, ungainly Jew sitting down by the table and calling for the attendant to immediately serve him a piece of roasted duck together with an alcoholic beverage.

With great lust, he took the piece of meat and stuffed it in his mouth without first reciting a blessing, and then he gulped down the spirits with noisy swigs. The Chafetz Chaim stood off to the side, flabbergasted and astounded at the scene he was witnessing. He could not hold himself back and decided to go over to the man and comment on his behavior.

The innkeeper took note of the goings-on and approached the Chafetz Chaim in order to stop him from approaching the Jew, claiming that he was an ignoramus who had never had the chance to study Torah since when he was about seven years old he was snatched from his parents and taken to Siberia together with other children. Until the age of eighteen, he grew up among the local farmers and was then drafted to Czar Nikolai's army for the next twenty-five years. It is no wonder then that his behavior is so coarse. The innkeeper did not see any point in rebuking this Jew, saying that his words will certainly fall on deaf ears.

But the Chafetz Chaim was determined to speak to him and was certain that he would find the way to his heart. He went over to him and stretched out his hand in greeting. He began speaking to him in a friendly and cordial tone: "I heard that when you were a young boy you were snatched from your parent's home and together with other children you were taken to far off Siberia. You grew up among goyim and did not merit studying even one letter of the Torah. In fact, you went through Gehinnom in this world, since your wicked masters tried more than once to make you give up your religion and forced you to nauseate yourself with forbidden foods. Despite all this, you remained a Jew and did not convert! I would be overjoyed to possess your merits and know that I have earned a place in the World to Come as you certainly have. You should know that you have an extremely lofty place in the World of Truth and over there you will merit basking in the presence of tzaddikim and gaonim. It is not a simple matter to undergo these types of tortures for the sake of Judaism and the sake of the honor of Heaven, for so many consecutive years. This is a greater trial than that of Chananya, Mishael and Azarya…"

Tears sprung to the eyes of this former soldier. He was shaken by these sincere, warm words that flowed from a pure heart and served to revive his troubled soul.

When he realized who this special 'Rabbi' was, he burst out in heavy sobs and began to kiss the hands of the tzaddik.

The Chafetz Chaim continued to encourage him: "You merited being counted among the holy ones who sacrifice themselves during their lifetime for the sake of glorifying Hashem's Name. If you accept upon yourself to live the rest of your life as an upright Jew, there will be no happier person than you in this world!" Indeed, this Jew clung to the Chafetz Chaim until he fully repented and became a true tzaddik.

This is an instructive lesson teaching us that a pure spark remains deeply buried in the heart of every Jew and even if he seems very far from Torah and mitzvah observance, his soul is still connected with ropes of love to the holiness that was present at Har Sinai. This is a holiness that is ingrained deep within each Jew. When it is aroused and presented with Torah and the spirit of life is blown into it, this spark immediately bursts into a large flame.

Walking in their Ways

Life as a Gift

Many years ago, Harav Medina’s mother, from Venezuela, paid me a visit. I asked how her son was doing, and especially the state of his arms and legs. She replied that all was fine, and he was completely healed.

“Have you any idea why I asked specifically about his hands and feet?” I inquired, “Because I personally do not.”

She thought for a moment and then replied, “Maybe it is because my son was born paralyzed in his arms and legs. The doctors stated that his chances of living were very slim. But my family strengthened themselves in emunah that Hashem can do anything. We increased our prayers on behalf of the boy. We also visited different tzaddikim, such as the Baba Sali, zy”a, in order to ask that they pray on his behalf. Baruch Hashem, he has healed completely and even enjoys the position of Rav, teaching Torah to the multitudes.”

After hearing the wonderful words of the mother, I felt compelled to speak with the son. “In what merit was your health restored?” I inquired.

Rav Medina responded with a personal story. “Some years ago, I visited the northern city of Israel, Kiryat Shemoneh, which borders Lebanon. One day, a booby-trapped car blew up exactly where I was, claiming many lives, may Hashem avenge their blood. In a most miraculous way, I escaped unscathed.”

This story only intensified my question. So I asked, “In what merit did you deserve to have your life handed to you on a silver platter twice, once, after birth, and again, when you emerged safely from the terror attack?”

Rav Medina was quiet for a moment and then admitted that he did not know how he was worthy of these special miracles.

I told him, “Hashem watches over you directly in the merit of your constant involvement in zikuy harabim. He observes your constant Torah study and involvement in bringing people to do teshuvah. In this merit, He protects you from all harm, even against the laws of nature.”

Words of the Sages

Why Did the Peddler Go To Tzipori?

"This shall be the law of the metzora" (Vayikra 14:2)

The Midrash Rabba tells us: "This shall be the law of the metzora – the law of the one who speaks motzi shem ra.

The Midrash brings the famous story of the peddler who used to peddle in the towns surrounding Tzipori, and he would proclaim: "Who would like to buy the elixir of life?" The townsfolk would rush to surround him.

Rabbi Yanai was sitting in his house, studying Torah. He heard this proclamation from outside and said to the peddler: Come up to me and sell it to me. He replied: you and those like you do not need this.

Rabbi Yanai pressed him so he took out a sefer Tehillim and showed him the verse, "Who is the man who desires life, who loves days of seeing good?" What is this followed by? "Guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit." (Tehillim 34:13-14).

Rabbi Yanai said: All my days I read this verse and didn’t understand the explanation, until this peddler came and proclaimed, "Who is the man who desires life?"

We need to understand what Rabbi Yanai found difficult in this verse, which was reconciled for him after meeting this peddler.

In order to answer this we will ask another question: The wording of the verse seems to be problematic; why is it in question form, "Who is the man who desires life?" Could the verse not simply say that one who guards his tongue from speaking evil – will live? When this peddler went around the towns and villages proclaiming "Who wishes to buy an elixir for life?", this is when Rabbi Yanai finally understood that David Hamelech's intention was that when it comes to this issue that everyone stumbles with, it must be announced to all in the form of a proclamation. Just like that peddler who loudly proclaimed "Who wishes to buy the elixir of life?", so too David Hamelech asked: "Who is the man who desires life?"

Why did the peddler go specifically to the city of Tzipori and to the adjacent towns to sell this 'merchandise'?

Rabbi Yosef of Pozna, the son in law of the Noda B'Yehuda zya"a, answers this question according to the words of the holy Zohar who derives an allusion from the verse "You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings" (Shemot 35:3), that 'fire' refers to the fire of arguments. The day of Shabbat is a day when people have time to sit around and talk about all kinds of things, and this could give rise to arguments and quarrels.

In Tzipori, the length of the day was longer than in other places, as the Gemara (Shabbat 118b) tells us: "May my lot be with those who bring in the Shabbat in Teveria and with those who take leave of the Shabbat in Tzipori". The city of Tzipori was situated on the top of a hill, and due to this, the time when Shabbat began was the same as in other places, but the time when Shabbat departed was later because the sun set at a later time. Therefore in this town of Tzipori, the Shabbat day was longer. This is why the peddler came especially to these places; these townsfolk needed a special warning about the sin of lashon hara and disagreements.

Guard Your Tongue

One who Profanes the Honor of Heaven

One is forbidden to talk lashon hara to other Jews and all the more so if a person condemns someone in front of non-Jews. In this case, his sin is even greater, for besides disgracing the honor of the Jewish people, he is also causing great adversity to his friend. If one tells a fellow Jew about a negative act that another Jew committed, he will not necessarily believe him whereas when relating this information to a non-Jew, it will immediately become public knowledge and will cause him great damage and suffering.

The Haftarah

The Haftara of the week: "Then the offerings of Yehuda and Yerushalayim will be pleasing to Hashem as in the days of old" (Malachi 3)

The connection to the Parsha: The Haftarah mentions that Hashem will send Eliyahu Hanavi to announce the future redemption. This is a similar idea to the celebration of 'Shabbat HaGadol', where Hashem sent Moshe Rabbeinu a"h to inform the Jewish people of their imminent redemption from Egypt.

Timely Topics

A Summary of the Laws of Kashering Utensils

1. On Pesach, one is forbidden to use utensils that have been used for chametz foods without first kashering them. From the time when it is forbidden to eat chametz on Erev Pesach, it is forbidden to use these utensils if they have not been kashered. The way to kasher the utensil depends on its use, as will be explained below.

2. The type of kashering is determined by the majority use of this utensil. If this utensil was used the majority of times for liquid, it is kashered using a process called hagalah. But if it was mainly used for dry ingredients, for example, the tray of an electric oven, it is kashered using the process of libun. However, in the case where a utensil was used mainly for foods that are permitted on Pesach and was only once used for chametz, here we do not go according to the majority and this utensil requires kashering.

Therefore, a water urn that was used for warming up cakes, challot or borekas, may not be used on Pesach without kashering it appropriately. Similarly, a bread knife that was used even once for cutting hot cake or other hot chametz, must be kashered. Similarly, a teapot which is used for tea alone, if it even just once touched hot bread, must be kashered appropriately.

3. Skewers which are used for grilling meat that may sometimes contain chametz, since they are normally used without liquids, require libun until they produce sparks of fire. In this case, hagalah is not good enough.

4. Oven trays which are used for baking challot and cakes, require libun until they produce sparks. Therefore, the trays of an electric oven require libun, alternatively one may buy new trays.

5. An electric oven should be cleaned well to the best of ones' ability, after which it should not be used for twenty-four hours prior to kashering it. The oven should then be switched on to its highest heat for one hour. This procedure is sufficient according to the basic law.

6. A cake tin which is used for baking chametz cannot be kashered using hagalah and since it is not possible to do libun since this kind of utensil might explode in the fire, it cannot be kashered for Pesach.

7. Pots that are used for cooking on the gas, require hagalah. They must first be cleaned well from any kind of dirt or rust. The lid and the handles also require hagalah.

8. Pot handles that are fixed to the pot with screws: Any dirt must be removed from them and they should be washed with soap before hagalah. This is also the case for the spot where the blade is screwed to a knife. Ideally, it is better to buy a new knife for Pesach.

9. A tripod on which hot pots are placed, should be cleaned well and kashered by hagalah. One may pour boiling water onto it from a kli rishon (defined as the original first vessel that was directly on the fire and in which the contents were cooked) This is also the law with regards to the gas stove and the burners. After cleaning them well they require hagalah.

10. An electric hot plate should be cleaned well, after which it is sufficient to pour boiling water onto it from a kli rishon.

11. A frying pan that is used for frying with oil, may be kashered with hagalah and does not require libun. A frying pan that is used for frying without any oil, may not be kashered by hagalah and since one cannot do libun to this kind of utensil, it should not be used on Pesach.

12. Metal bowls, plates and spoons which are normally used as kli sheini, are kashered using a kli sheini. If they are kashered with hagalah or by pouring water onto them from a kli rishon, all the more so is this a permissible way of kashering them.

13. False teeth should be cleaned well from any visible chametz and it is praiseworthy to pour hot water onto them from a kli rishon.

14. Ceramic dishes cannot be kashered if they were used for hot chametz during the year, therefore one should store them in a special place so that they should not be used on Pesach.

15. Porcelain dishes have the same law as ceramic dishes and if they were used for hot chametz they cannot be kashered. All the more so is this the case with ceramic dishes that are covered with a type of porcelain.

16. A sink that is used for washing pots and dishes, even if it is ceramic, should be kashered by pouring boiling water all around it and it may then be used for Pesach. One should also pour boiling water on the counters. Some are stringent and cover the counter with tin foil after pouring boiling water on it.

17. Glass neither absorbs nor discharges chametz, so it does not require kashering for Pesach in any way. Even if a chametz drink was left in a glass cup for a long time, it does not have to be kashered. Ashkenazim have the custom to be stringent with glass dishes as with ceramic dishes.

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Alacrity in Mitzvah Performance

This Shabbat is called 'Shabbat Hagadol' since Am Yisrael eagerly fulfilled the will of Hashem who commanded them to tie a sheep to their bedposts and slaughter it in front of the Egyptians.

Inherent in this mitzvah was a seemingly great drawback for the Jewish people. This mitzvah involved not in a monetary loss but a much greater one  the loss of life since the Egyptians wished to satiate their anger on them and kill them for bringing dishonor to their god. It is natural for a person to be laid back about something that holds an inherent detriment for him. But the Jewish people overcame their Yetzer Hara and with great self-sacrifice obeyed Hashem's word. With great alacrity, they tied the sheep to their bedposts even though this endangered their lives. This is a concrete example for us and our children of serving Hashem with devotion and loyalty, and fulfilling His mitzvot with alacrity even if we will thereby experience some loss. This is the reason why this Shabbat is called 'Shabbat Hagadol'.

The Jewish people inherited this wonderful attribute of alacrity in serving Hashem from Avraham Avinu a"h. He too, also on Erev Pesach, hurried to fulfill the mitzvah of inviting guests although it involved great self-sacrifice, on the occasion when the three angels came to his home looking like Arabs. Although it was the third day after his brit milah and he was weak and feeble, nevertheless Avraham Avinu unconcerned about his health, got up to invite them into his home. He waited on them, offering them food and drink, all with remarkable alacrity as if he was a young lad. The verses stress this: “he ran toward them” …”So Avraham hastened…and said”, “Hurry!”…”Then Avraham ran to the cattle”. Since Avraham knew that the Yetzer Hara will disturb him in trying to fulfill this mitzvah and will weaken his desire by telling him to take care of his health and go about it slowly, he therefore overcame the Yetzer Hara and did everything with alacrity and great sacrifice in order to rid himself of any undesirable thoughts stemming from the Yetzer Hara. The Jewish people absorbed these attributes of alacrity and self-sacrifice in fulfilling Hashem's commandments that Avraham displayed, deeply into their very essence and they too follow in his footsteps.

Pearls of the Parsha

Fathers and Sons - One Path

"Command Aharon and his sons" (Vayikra 6:2)

The word 'tzav - command' is in fact an expression of connection, like 'צוותא ', togetherness.

In this lies a significant indication for our avodat Hashem, as the Imrei Chaim zt"l explains: The Torah wishes to teach us that one must connect Aharon and his sons together, meaning that father and sons should be one team and follow in the same path.

To Cause Pleasure to the Poor

"A repeatedly baked meal-offering, broken into pieces" (Vayikra 6:14)

The Torah wishes to impart an important foundation with regards to the poor person, concerning the attribute of mercy.

The Torah commands us "You shall break it into pieces" (Vayikra 2:6). The point of breaking the offering into pieces was so that it should look like it is a large offering.

Why is this?

The sefer 'Darchei Mussar' explains in the name of Rabbi Ahron Bakst zt"l, that when the rich man brings his offering, for example, an ox, then due to the size of the ox it takes a long time for it to burn on the Mizbeach. This causes the poor person to become disheartened.

Due to this, the Torah has mercy on the honor of the poor person and therefore regarding his offering it says, "He shall split it  with its feathers  he need not sever it", meaning one should burn the poor person's offering, which is a bird, together with its feathers, and as a result, the burning will take longer and this will cause pleasure to the poor person.

From here we see to what extent the Torah wishes to raise the spirits of the poor so that he should not feel dispirited and dejected. On the other hand, we also see how the Torah is concerned that the rich person should not become proud because of his wealth, for "every haughty heart is the abomination of Hashem" (Mishlei 16:5).

Your Miracles are with us Every day

"And the flesh of his feast thanksgiving peace-offering must be eaten on the day of its offering" (Vayikra 7:15)

The Admor Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Gur zt"l was asked:

Why must the entire thanksgiving offering be consumed on the same day, unlike the other offerings that can be eaten over two days and one night?

The Admor's reply is brought in the sefer 'Mimaiynot Hanetzach':

We know that the thanksgiving offering is brought for having experienced a miracle and every single day new miracles happen to us. This being so, it would not be possible to eat from yesterday's thanksgiving offering and also from the offering that is brought for the new miracle experienced today…


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