Tzav Shabat Hagadol

April 1st 2023

10th of Nisan 5783

Alacrity Leads to Gratitude

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

“If he is bringing it a thanksgiving offering, he shall offer, along with the thanksgiving offering unleavened lo mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, 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). 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 (II, 40b) that when Am Yisrael praise Hashem and thank Him for the miracles of the Exodus, 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 does for us. A person should not assume that because he wakes up every morning healthy and well he has no need to wholeheartedly thank Hashem with enthusiastic joy. He may think, “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 do not wake up in the morning. There are also many people who go to sleep assuming they are completely well, but the next day discover they have a serious illness. If so, just for the mere fact that we get up healthy and well we should joyfully thank the Creator for restoring our soul without any ailment or disorder.

Through the trait of alacrity and swiftness, a person can come to recognize the magnitude of Hashem’s benevolence. 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 day.

I can testify that this trait of alacrity and swiftness was characteristic of my righteous father, the tzaddik Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto, zy”a, who constantly instilled in us that swiftness attributes to half of one’s achievements, as it is stated (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.

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.”


Summary of the halachot on the kashering of utensils for Pesach

1. 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.

2. 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, until sparks of fire bounce off. Note that if a utensil 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, may not be used for Pesach without kashering it properly. Likewise a knife used for cutting bread. 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 into contact with it while the kettle was hot, it must be kashered.

3. Skewers used for roasting meat on the fire sometimes come into contact with chametz. Since the usual way of using them is without liquid, they require libun. Immersion in boiling water does not kasher them.

4. Pans that one uses to bake challot require libun. Therefore, electric oven pans must undergo libun, or one should use new pans.

5. 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.

6. 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, they cannot be kashered for Pesach.

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

8. 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.

9. Grates, on which pots are placed for cooking, must be cleaned and then kashered 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 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.

10. Electric hot plates can be kashered by cleaning thoroughly and then pouring hot water over them from a kli rishon.

11. 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.

12. Bowls, 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, all the more so they will be kashered in this way.

13. Dentures must be cleaned from chametz as well as possible, and it is preferable to pour boiling water over them through a kli rishon.

14. Earthenware cannot be kashered if it was used for hot food during the year. They should be stored in a closed place so one should not mistakenly use them.

15. 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 is this true of earthenware dishes coated similar to porcelain.

16. Sinks in which pots and dishes are washed, even if they are made of earthenware, should be cleaned thoroughly and boiling water poured over them to make them permissible to use on Pesach. Likewise, marble counters should be washed well and then have boiling water poured over them. Some are stringent to in addition line the counters with aluminum foil.

17. 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. Ashkenazim are stringent with glassware as with earthenware.


A Spiritually Satisfying Repast

In my parents’ home  in Morocco, as in all Jewish homes in 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 festival 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.


Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

The Influence of a Thought

Often Parashat Tzav is read on Shabbat HaGadol, and we need to clarify the connection between the parshah and Shabbat Hagadol. In order to explain this, let us first clarify that Shabbat HaGadol

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

This is perplexing. Why did Hashem order us to slaughter the Egyptian idol and roast 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 serve the idols because of their staunch faith in their Creator, 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 they have to serve it together with the lamb, G-d forbid. So it is possible that Bnei Yisrael too would have believed in the Creator, but they would also have attributed importance to the lamb and believed it had some power. Through slaughtering 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. From Shabbat HaGadol too 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.


The Tzaddik’s Warning

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 the tzaddik invested in order to avoid dissent between the people and the Rabbanim of his time.


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 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.


Signing with a Picture of a Ship

“If he is bringing it as a thanksgiving offering” (Vayikra 7:12).

A substantial part of the Parshah 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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