Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Parsha Metzora, Miracles, Halacha and more

TWO DISCLAIMERS: Some of my “friends” on Facebook like too many Rabbis one is a Reform Rabbi named Wolfe who promotes himself on Facebook. He is not the famed Talmud Chacham Rabbi Wolfe or Rishon LeTzion and I distance myself from him. I DO NOT approve of Chabad people who proclaim that the Rebbe is Moshiach or still alive. I do approve of the Talmidei Chachamim who bring down stories and real Kabbalah and bring Jews closer to Judaism. As Rabbi Klein Shlita a former secretary of the Rebbe said, “These people remind me of some other religion that sprang from Judaism when their Moshiach died.” What I bring down from Chabad will only be truly Kosher Orthodox things.

Kurson Kosher, Mexico - Egg Matza for Passover This product is certified as Kosher for Passover by the Orthodox Union, however, the label should state “According to Ashkenazi practice, egg Matza may only be used for the aged and sick.” Corrective measures are being implemented.

Medications Kosher L’Pessach for alternatives in Israel:

For the USA refer to Rabbi Blumenkrantz’s book or ask your Local Orthodox Rabbi.

Aqua Farms Atlantic Salmon contains Kitniyos in their seasoning and is Kosher L’Pessach for Sephardim only. Baalei Teshuva who do not have a custom in their family should consult their local Orthodox Rabbi. Also certain Kitniyos such as peanuts were permitted by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Landau the Elder, and other great names also cotton seed and corn oil margarine used to be certified when I was in the States only in recent years did the OU become very strict like Eretz Yisrael on this. Rabbi Aaron Kotler was also very liberal on Kitniyos in the States (See Agudat Yisrael Conference 5 or 6). There appears to me to bullying by extreme elements from Eastern Europe in the Orthodox Community of Eretz Yisrael putting pressure upon Rabbis. I slept on this and when I woke up I remembered a discussion that I had with my son the former Mashgiach. Canola Oil aka Rapeseed oil has Omega 3, 6 and 9. The Sephardim OK the use for Pessach. In Israel the Ashkenazi Rabbis are afraid to put this genetically engineered oil as Kosher for Ashkenazim. I ask why – for surely one cannot make something that looks like a Matza from it which was the main reason for banning Kitniyos. There is no tradition about it. The seed is similar to Mustard and the only reason Mustard is forbidden is that it is particularly singled out in the Gemara. I might add that there are people who do not like to use genetically modified products like canola oil. In Israel for Ashkenazim after the bullies removed most of the cottonseed oil from the shelves after Rabbi Landau the Elder and the Lubavitcher Rebbe both passed away except in very large cities, one can chose from Olive Oil, Walnut Oil (both expensive) or Heart Attack/Stroke Oil known more by the non-health reason name as Palm Oil or Shemen Dekelim which leads to arterial plaque (so does cotton seed oil but to a lesser extent). Remember it takes an Am HaAretz to forbid everything and it takes a Ruv to permit. There are reasons to be strict because of traditions but there are also many reasons to be lenient on these issues and in the case of oil saving a life takes precedence.

A note on the stories: Many years ago I started writing stories of a number of people whom I knew and a number of Rabbis and I included some of my own experiences too. Without repeating myself or telling a Rabbi Glixman story or two, I would have run out of stories to tell. I took and lengthened a few years ago story of Hedva’s Bridge and the story from Chanoch Teller on the subject as Rebbitzen Hedva Silberfarb was a cousin of mine. I saw her crying and wanting to live with little Chana in her arms. Today Chana is a mother of a little Fraidy which was Hedva’s other name. I am not Chassidic but recently I came across on the net via weekly living Jewish bulletins a wealth of stories from Chassidic Jewels. I don’t agree with all the things in the stories all of the time but the messages are positive and strengthen the reader in faith or in practice. I have copy and pasted for this week and the next some of the stories. Often Aish HaTorah has stories on the net too and I plan to use in the future some as I had used in the past.

Paratroopers and Miracles: In the War of Independence Uzi Narkis (inventor of the Uzi) was commanded to retreat and abandon the old city of Yerushalayim to the Jordanian Legion. He did not like that idea but orders were orders. During the Six Day War, he was given the chance to do Teshuva. He led the paratroopers into the old city of Yerushalayim. 1) The Paratroopers came to a green door leading to the Temple Mount all the Arabs were shaking in fear in their houses. Suddenly an elderly Arab with a white flowing beard appeared with a large key. He told them in Hebrew that he wanted peace and calmly opened up the door for the Paratroopers. Uzi was to announce “Har HaBeit B’ Yadaynu” (literally the mount of the house {Beis HaMikdash} is in our hands). 2) Down below three paratroopers followed by a cameraman went into a street and came upon what was left of the Kotel. They stopped and looked up and prayed (famous news photo). A girl soldier came to them and asked them if they wanted to send a postcard home from the Kotel. After they wrote the card, they realized that there were no girl soldiers allowed on a front line combat zone and that soldier did not exist. The story was told on Yom Yerushalayim on the 40th anniversary of the reuniting of the city by one of the non-religious and still non-religious paratrooper! 3) After the Yom Kippur War there was a soldier named Bibber who was stationed on the Golan Heights. His half-track lost its breaks going down Har Dov. It crashed into a boulder throwing the soldiers out of the vehicle and the remains of the half-track plummeted tens of meters off a cliff. Bibber carved on the stone that the land of Yisrael shields its inhabitants.

Parsha Metzora

Last week the emphasis was on the disease Tzaras. The week’s Parsha is dealing with the person, the Metzora. Think about this a person is given a terrible skin disease and needs the support of society. Instead he is outcast and shunned. Instead of getting sympathy and strengthened is pushed away. However, Tzaras is a spiritual disease brought about by tale bearing, gossip, spreading rumors true or false, etc. Before he was chastising others and making them foolish and now he was chastised and make to look fools or down right lowly, this is what G-D does he gives us measure for measure. Moshe complained that the people would not listen to him so he was told to put his hand into his breast and it was white as Tzaras and he put his hand back in and it was whole again. Moshe’s complaint was more against himself so his Tzaras was very mild for a shorter time than a Cohain could declare him to Tumay. Miriam with her sister-in-law love was on the gossip level and she was punished for a week. However since she took her time to follow and watch the cradle of bull rushes, she was rewarded that the camp waited for her.

14:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: he shall be brought unto the priest.

Rashi notes that this must be done during the day and there is no release or observance of the disease at night no matter how bright the light. The assumption that there was a place outside of the camp where the Cohain met with the Leper or Lepers and observed the disease so they literally met there.

3 And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper;

The person has learned his lesson and has repented from his tongue wagging.

4 then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two living clean birds, and cedar-wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. 5 And the priest shall command to (kill) Slaughter via a process called Melaka which is not the usual ritual slaughter and this is only done to bird sacrifices one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water. 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar-wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. 7 And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let go the living bird into the open field. 8 And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean; and after that he may come into the camp, but shall dwell outside his tent seven days. 9 And it shall be on the seventh day that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off; and he shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and he shall be clean. 10 And on the eighth day he shall take two he-lambs without blemish, and one ewe-lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil. 11 And the priest that cleans him shall set the man that is to be cleansed, and those things, before the LORD, at the door of the tent of meeting.

The rest of the process continues in the following through Pasuk 33. We notice that the Tuma is great and he is out cast for another 8 days until he returns to the congregation. This process is similar to the police speed traps in Israel. They put out a carton car with a carton laser gun to get people to slow down. About a kilometer or more down the road is a real police car with a real laser gun. If that does not slow people down sometimes they see somebody with a ticket so they rev up the motor to a higher speed only to find that there is a second cop down the road. The period of two weeks of isolation from ones friends may be enough deterrent to make somebody put brain in gear before opening mouth.

… 33 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying: 34 When ye are come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession; 35 then he that owns the house shall come and tell the priest, saying: 'There seems to me to be as it were a plague in the house.' 36 And the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest go in to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house. 37 And he shall look on the plague, and, behold, if the plague be in the walls of the house with hollow streaks, greenish or reddish, and the appearance thereof be lower than the wall; 38 then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days.

The physical cause for this is mold in the rainy season where dampness comes into the air. One famous actress and actor died in their multi-million dollar estate recently in Hollywood CA due to breathing in mold from the walls. By knowing down the walls and airing out the house or rebuilding the house, the mold is eliminated on the physical level. On the spiritual level, the house where the mold or Tzaras appears is a gathering point and focus for Lashon HaRa. This could be via somebody nosing about somebody’s kitchen, wardrobe or romantic life. So now the place of Lashon HaRa in Eretz Yisrael is going to be scraped and replastered so that none could live there for a while until the house has a work over.

39 And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look; and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of the house; 40 then the priest shall command that they take out the stones in which the plague is, and cast them into an unclean place without the city. 41 And he shall cause the house to be scraped within round about, and they shall pour out the mortar that they scrape off without the city into an unclean place. 42 And they shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those stones; and he shall take other mortar, and shall plaster the house. 43 And if the plague come again, and break out in the house, after that the stones have been taken out, and after the house hath been scraped, and after it is plastered; 44 then the priest shall come in and look; and, behold, if the plague be spread in the house, it is a malignant leprosy in the house: it is unclean. 45 And he shall break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the mortar of the house; and he shall carry them forth out of the city into an unclean place.

This is not the price of a pigeon or sheep but a very house that perhaps the family lived in for generations. (In Kfar Shunam the house of the Shunamite woman from the days of the first Temple still stands despite centuries, earthquakes, etc.) Today an old Arab Woman lives there – all I can say is that her family and she must have some merits to live in a house where miracles were performed.

46 Moreover he that goes into the house all the while that it is shut up shall be unclean until the even. 47 And he that lies in the house shall wash his clothes; and he that eats in the house shall wash his clothes. …

15:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and to Aaron, saying: 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When any man hath an issue out of his flesh, his issue is unclean. 3 And this shall be his uncleanness in his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it is his uncleanness.

Running seed is called in Hebrew Zov and a person in this condition is called a Zav. (See Shabbos first chapter)

4 Every bed whereon he that hath the issue lies shall be unclean; and everything whereon he sits shall be unclean. 5 And whosoever touches his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 6 And he that sits on anything whereon he that hath the issue sat shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 7 And he that touches the flesh of him that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 8 And if he that hath the issue spit upon him that is clean, then he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 9 And what saddle soever he that hath the issue rides upon shall be unclean. … 17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the flow of seed, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even. 18 The woman also with whom a man shall lie carnally, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even. 19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be in her impurity seven days; and whosoever touches her shall be unclean until the even. 20 And everything that she lies upon in her impurity shall be unclean; everything also that she sits upon shall be unclean.

A woman in her menses is called in Hebrew in a state of Niddah. The Niddah is in a state of Tumay due to the fact that the egg inside of her died without being fertilized and caused bleeding.

21 And whosoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 22 And whosoever touches anything that she sits upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 23 And if he be on the bed, or on anything whereon she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until the even. 24 And if any man lie with her, and her impurity be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed whereon he lies shall be unclean.

A woman with a constant blood flow or dripping is called a Zava and forbidden to men. If she keeps up this condition and it cannot be rectified aka by a hysterectomy then she is forbidden forever and must divorce her husband.

On the first Korban Pessach

On the tenth of this month, every man must take a lamb for each extended family, a lamb for each household... Hold it in safekeeping until the fourteenth day of this month. The entire community of Israel shall then slaughter [their sacrifice] in the afternoon. They must take the blood and place it on the two doorposts and on the beam above the door... Eat the meat during the night, roasted over the fire. Eat it with matzah and bitter herbs. Do not eat it raw of cooked in water, but only roasted over fire, including its head, legs and internal organs.

(From this week's Maftir reading, Ex. 12:3, 6-9)

The whole Passover sacrifice in Egypt revolved around trusting in G-d and sanctifying His Name in face of terrifying dangers. After all, the lamb was an Egyptian idol. The Egyptians “revered” and worshiped it, and it was holy to them. One can imagine their wrath when they saw how the Israelites were taking it and degrading it by tying it to the bedpost from the tenth to the fourteenth of the month, and then slaughtering it and consuming it festively.

By all rules of logic, the Egyptians should have been expected to attack and annihilate the Israelites. Let every Jew who stays in the exile ponder what the nations would do to Jews living under their rule if those Jews were to publicly treat their faith with contempt. Yet precisely such faith and trust did G-d demand of Israelfaith and trust that He could defend them against their foes.

Following is Mechilta (Bo, Mesechet DePischa, 5):

“Hold it in safekeeping” (Ex. 12:6): Why was this said? Because it says, “Take for yourselves sheep” (Ex. 12:21), Israel said to Moses, “Could we sacrifice the sacred animal of the Egyptians before their very eyes and not have them stone us?” (Ex. 8:22). Moses responded, “From G-d's miracle for you when you took the sheep [ i.e., the Egyptians' inability to do anything while you bond their deity for four days], you can deduce G-d's reaction when you slaughter it.

And Pesikta DeRav Kahana teaches (Parashat HaChodesh, page 55):

This teaches that they were tied to the Israelites' bed posts starting from the tenth of the month, and the Egyptians would come in and see them, and become incensed. R. Chiyah, son of R. Ada of Jaffa said, “Take for yourselves sheep” (Ex. 12:21): “Every Israelite must take an Egyptian god and slaughter it before an Egyptian, and let whoever is angered by it, speak.”

In remembrance of this bitachon [trust] and Kiddush Hashem, and by virtue of it, G-d split the Jordan for Israel, and its merit protected them in Haman's day, for everything Israel did with the lambs indicated their trust in G-d. Following is Pesikta DeRav Kahana (Ibid.): “The taking of the lamb stood by them at the Jordan, and its consumption protected them in Haman's day.”

Moreover, G-d established the steps involved in the Passover sacrifice in remembrance of the greatest bitachon that there could have been – our Forefather Abraham's readiness to slaughter his son Isaac at Mount Moriah. Following is Midrash Chadash on the Torah (220, quoted in Torah Shleimah, Ex. 12:6, letter 70):

In accordance with Abraham's response to “Take your son”(Gen. 22:2), so did G-d tie the ram for him at that very moment [i.e., when G-d saw that Abraham was ready to trust Him and slaughter his son, He immediately prepared and bound the ram to replace Isaac]. Abraham delayed for three days, as it says, “On the third day” (Gen. 22:4). G-d therefore said to Israel, “Go early and tie the animal as of the tenth, so that you will be remembered before Me like your ancestors.”

Thus, true trust in G-d by the Jewish people is tied exclusively to their self-sacrifice in face of danger of death. This expresses itself also in G-d's command that they place the lamb blood on the two doorposts and the beam above the door. Here, there is a controversy over whether they placed the blood on the outside or on the inside. In Mechilta (Ibid., 6), R. Yishmael and R. Natan comment that the blood was placed on the inside, yet R. Yitzchak differs, saying, “Certainly they put it on the outside, so the Egyptians would see it and become livid with anger.” Yonatan translated verse 12:7 according to R. Yitzchak, saying, “They shall take of the blood and place it on the two doorposts and the beam above the door, from the outside.”

All this was to magnify our trust in G-d while we were provoking the Egyptians. This is also the reason for the manner of consuming the sacrifice, commanded by the Torah: “Do not eat it raw ... but only roasted over fire (Ex. 12:9). Following is Da'at Zekenim MiBa'alei HaTosafot (Ex. 12:9):

Ibn Ezra interpreted G-d as saying: “Since you are sacrificing the deity of Egypt, you might say, 'Let us not roast it fully, lest the Egyptians notice'.

It therefore says, 'Do not eat it raw.'

Lest you say, 'Let us cook it and hide it in a pot,'

it therefore says, 'Do not cook it in water'(Ibid.).

Lest you say, 'Let us cut off the head and legs to make it unrecognizable,'

it therefore says, 'including its head, legs and internal organs' (Ibid.).” Clearly, G-d wished to establish for Israel the principle of trusting in Him against all the power of mortal man. He wished to emphasize that there is no power on earth that can stand up to Israel when Israel does G-d's will, and that we should not fear the nations at all, even the strongest king or kingdom.

A fundamental principle of trust in G-d is that complete faith and trust in G-d include a person's readiness to sacrifice himself, to give up his life, for the sake of Kiddush Hashem, where such a duty exists. Many righteous, G-d fearing people who indeed trust in G-d, have succumbed in this matter of completeness of trust in G-d, i.e., regarding their readiness to sacrifice their lives for this trust. Even Aaron the Kohen, holy from the womb, the first Kohen Gadol of Israel, who was the symbol of faith and trust in G-d, as we shall see, failed in this matter of self-sacrifice, such that he needed rectification for what was lacking.

Shemot Rabbah (41:7):

At that moment [when Israel sought to fashion an idol because Moses was delayed], Chur faced them and said, “Headless people [referring to their having no memory, or having incurred a death penalty]! Do you not remember what miracles G-d performed for you?” They immediately accosted him and killed him. Then they turned to Aaron ... and said: “Just as we did to that one, so shall we do to you.” When Aaron saw that it was so, he feared, as it says (Ex. 32:5), “Aaron saw and he built an altar [mizbe'ach] before him.” What is meant by “mizbe'ach”? “Motivated by the slaughtered one [min hazavuach] before him.”

Aaron had a reason for doing this.

As our sages said (Sanhedrin 7a):

Aaron saw Chur lying slaughtered before him, and he said, “If I do not heed them, they will now do to me what they did to Chur. Through me will be fulfilled (Lam. 2:20), 'Shall a Kohen and Prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the L-rd?' and their sin will never be rectified. Better they should worship the calf. Perhaps they will find atonement through repentance.”

Even so, Aaron sinned by doing this.

This is the substantive difference between Aaron and Chur. Certainly, both trusted in G-d, but Chur trusted in G-d completely. Such trust includes willingness to sacrifice one's life for G-d's name and for the sake of preventing His name from being profaned. Chur took hold of this faith and trust and it led him to perfection: he sacrificed his life for Kiddush Hashem.

By that same merit, G-d chose precisely Betzalel to construct the Tabernacle, the earthly seat of perfection. Certainly Betzalel was not chosen because of his artistry or expertise, for he was only thirteen at the time, as our sages said (Sanhedrin 69b), and he lacked experience in craftsmanship. Yet it says in Shemot Rabbah, 48:8, “'I have filled him with a Divine spirit [and with wisdom]' (Ex. 31:3): Where was all this wisdom from? From G-d. And all of Betzalel's Divine spirit ... and understanding were from G-d as well.”

Rather, he was chosen by virtue of his grandfather Chur, who sacrificed his life for Kiddush Hashem, thereby demonstrating complete and perfect faith. Betzalel, therefore merited to construct the complete and pure place where the Divine Presence was confined. This was the reason it says, “I have selected Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur, of the tribe of Judah” (Ibid., v.2).

Only very rarely does the Torah mention someone's father and grandfather. The reason for it here, however, is that Chur's name had to be mentioned, for only by his merit was the thirteen year-old lad selected to be the architect of the Tabernacle.

Most certainly, when G-d [...] decrees that we must perform some deed, one must not look for reasons, however pious they may be, not to do that deed. Rather, if G-d or Jewish law requires us to fulfill some decree, then we must sanctify His Name and sacrifice our lives for it, this being the fullest expression of Kiddush Hashem and bitachon. It says, (Lev. 22:32-33), “Do not profane My holy name. I shall be sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel. I am the L-rd who is making you holy and bringing you out of the Land of Egypt,” and our sages comment (Torat Kohanim, Emor, 9), “Sacrifice yourself and sanctify My Name,” and (Ibid.), “I took you out of Egypt on condition that you sacrifice yourselves to sanctify My Name.”

Self-sacrifice is the ultimate proof of trust in G-d, it is bitachon in its fullest form. Let a Jew not evade his duty, claiming that today there is no Divine revelation, no heavenly voice or prophecy of any other sort by which G-d could decree the need for an act of self-sacrifice. Surely, the whole Torah, all the deeds of our ancestors and of the judges and prophets, and the words of our sages, were meant to be a lamp unto our feet and to show us the path we must follow. These deeds and G-d's ways were set down in our sages' homiletics as eternal guidelines, presenting our duty regarding how we must act when there is no Divine Revelation.


Compiled by Tzipora Liron-Pinner from “The Jewish Idea” of Rabbi Meir Kahane HY”D

Also on the Korban Pessach a noisy recording but interesting Rabbi Howard Balter Shlita:

Halachos from Danny Shoemann

Some of the Halachos presented by Danny are the same as Rabbi Lobel presents but in a simpler language. Perkei Avos 5:22 tells us in the name of son of Gerim ben Bag-Bag: Mull it over and mull it over for in the Torah everything is there. Elsewhere it is written that the 101st time you learn some Torah is not like the 100th time as each time you learn you find something new. For had I just been learning Chumash with Rashi for the last years, I would have given up long ago on adding something new but yet each year I find something new in the Parsha. For the time and the experience of life changes and what one saw at the age of 10, 20, 30 etc. is not the same as 31 and at 62 not the same as 63.

Halachos from Danny Shoemann

On the second night of Pessach we start counting the 49 days of Sefiras HaOmer; culminating with Shavuot. On the second day of Pessach one should do something at the meal to commemorate Queen Esther's second feast, which ended with the wicked Haman being hanged on that day. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:6

Chametz is Muktza on Pessach, since it may not be used for anything. Chametz (that was not sold to a non-Jew) found in one's possession on Pessach needs to be burned. If one finds Chametz on Yom Tov or Shabbat during Pessach, (to ensure that one doesn't eat it accidentally), one covers it with a bowl until after Havdalah - and then one burns it.
When burning Chametz on Pessach one says the Bracha of "Al Biyur Chametz" if the Chametz is the size of a Kezayis (size of an olive) or larger. Chametz found on the closing Yom Tov of Pessach, must be burned after Pessach without a Bracha. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:17
Chodesh Tov; tonight is Rosh Chodesh Nissan - no Tachanun from Mincha today until after Rosh Chodesh Iyar

Today - Tuesday - is the first day of the first month - Nissan. Don't forget Hallel and יַעֲלֶה וְיָבא Today - 1 Nissan - was the last of the 8 inaugural days of the Mishkan (tabernacle) and the first day that Aaron served as Cohen Gadol (high priest) and his 4 sons as Cohanim. That same day, two of them - Nadav and Avihu - brought an offering not in accordance with Halacha and were killed by a heavenly fire.

Today the heads of the 12 tribes started bringing their inaugural sacrifices - one prince each day. Some people have the custom of reading that day's sacrifice during the first 12 days of Nissan. This can be found in the Siddur as the Torah Reading for Chanucha. * One does not say Tachanun during the entire month of Nissan.
One may not fast during Nissan, with the following exceptions:
- Firstborns fast on Erev Pessach.
- Fasting for distressingly bad dreams.
- Couples getting married during Nissan. Even today - Rosh Chodesh - they fast, whereas on any other Rosh Chodesh the bride and groom do not fast.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 107:1,2 *The custom for people who do not have to punch a clock by a specific time living in Ramat Modiin/Chashmonayim is to read the daily portion from Naso for the dedication of Princes of the Tribes to the Mishkan until the 12th of the month. It is a Yerushalayim and Sephardic custom it has spread to many cities in Israel. However those who have to rush to punch a clock should honor their employment. From Rabbi Rafael Rabinovich Shlita:

During the month of Nissan trees start to blossom (in the Northern hemisphere). The first time a year that one sees edible fruit trees blossoming one says:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱ-לקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם - Blessed are you Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, שֶׁלֹּא חִסַּר בָּעוֹלָמוֹ כְּלוּם - for nothing is lacking in His universe, וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבוֹת - and He created in it good creatures and good trees, לְהַנּוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם- to cause mankind pleasure with them.
Once the flowers have fallen off and the fruit is visible then one can no longer say this Bracha. One makes this Bracha only once a year.
Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 226:1, A minimum of two trees which bear fruit are needed.

Halachos for Pessach Part 3

These and other Halachos can be found on the website of the Torah Organization (Project Genesis)

Chapter 118:6
Preparations for the Seder

6. One should prepare one's seat [at the Seder table] with the finest cushions one can afford, before the commencement of the festival, arranging it in a manner in which one can lean on one's left side (1). Even a left-handed person should lean to the left (2).

Similarly, one should prepare the Seder plate before the commencement of the holiday, so that as soon as one returns from the synagogue, one can begin the Seder without delay (3).


(1) It is a mitzvah on the night of Pesach to act and feel as if you, yourself, were just freed from slavery in Egypt. The Sages established the mitzvah of leaning to the left during the seder, as an outward expression of this newfound freedom; royality and nobility in those days reclined while eating (Rambam, 'Yad', Chometz U'Matzah 7:7).

(2) Leaning to the right was considered a health risk because doing so might cause the food to enter the windpipe instead of the esophagus (Mishna Berura 472:10).

(3) It is a mitzvah for a father to communicate the story of the Exodus from Egypt, to his children, on the first night of Pesach. Furthermore, as we saw earlier (HY 118:2), there is an obligation to do things during the Seder that will stimulate the children's curiosity and prompt them to ask "why is this night different." Therefore, one should start the Seder without delay, after nightfall, so that the children will be as awake and aware as possible.

Chapter 118:7
Preparations for the Seder

7. Although throughout the year it is proper to minimize one's use of fine utensils ("kelim na'im") in recognition of the loss of our Beit Hamikdash (1), on Pesach, however, it is preferable [to set the table] with as many fine utensils as possible. Even attractive utensils that are not necessary for the meal itself should be placed on the table for the sake of beauty, as a symbol of freedom (2).


(1) See Rambam, Yad, Hilchos Ta'aniyos 5:12

(2) As we saw in HY 118:1, it is a mitzvah on the night of Pesach to act and feel as if you, yourself, were just freed from slavery in Egypt.

Chapter 118:8
Preparations for the Seder

8. The seder plate should be arranged in the following manner: One should place three matzos (1) on a plate and spread a beautiful cloth over them; above them, one should place the "zeroa" (shankbone) on one's right side, and the egg on one's left side; the "marror" (bitter herbs) over which the blessing [for the mitzvah of marror] is recited, [should be placed below them], in the center; the "charoses" should be placed below the "zeroa" (in the next row down), and the "karpas" below the egg; the "marror" to use for the "kricha" (sandwich with matzah) goes [below them] in the middle (2).


1) On every Shabbos and Yom Tov, it is a mitzvah to begin the meal with two loaves of either bread or matzah ("Lechem Mishna"). On the Seder night, however, we add a third matzah to be broken in half during the Seder ("Yachatz"). The reason we recite the Haggadah over a broken piece of matzah, is because the Torah calls matzah "lechem oni" ("bread of oppression" or "poor man's bread") (Deut 16:3); since a poor man is accustomed to sustaining himself only on a morsel, so too, we use only a morsel, as a reminder of our poverty and oppression in Egypt.

(2) This is the order of the Arizal, and is based on Kabbalistic teachings (see Ba'er Hatev 473:8). The Ramah 273:4 has a different order based on the principle of not passing over one mitzvah in order to get to another mitzvah. As a result, according to the Ramah, those items used first should be closest to you: bottom row - karpas (right), salt water (left) (the Arizal doesn't have salt water on the plate); then the matzos in the next row, in the center; third row - marror (R), charoses (L); top row - zeroa (R), egg (L).

It seems that most people follow the order of the Arizal (See Oruch HaShulchan 473:11, and Mishna Berura 473: 26).

Chapter 118:9
Preparations for the Seder

9. The [wine] cups (1) must all be whole, without any cracks or chips. They should be carefully washed and should be able to contain at least a "revi'is". (2)


(1) As we saw in HY 118:1, it is a mitzvah on the first night of Pesach to act and feel as if you, yourself, were just freed from slavery in Egypt. The Sages established the mitzvah of drinking four cups of wine during the seder, as an outward expression of this newfound freedom (Rambam, 'Yad', Chometz U'Matzah 7:7).

(2) A "revi'is" literally means "one quarter" because it is equal to the volume of one quarter of a "log." There is a dispute among the authorities as to what a revi'is equals in modern measurements. The opinions range from 88.7 ml to 150 ml (5.07 fluid ounces).

If the cup is capable of containing only a revi'is, one should preferably drink the entire cup of wine for each of the four cups. However, if one is unable to complete the cup, one can fulfill one's mitzvah by drinking most of the revi'is, a measure referred to as "maleh lugmav," which literally means a "cheek-full" (a quantity of liquid which fills one cheek of an average person).

If the cup is capable of holding more than a revi'is, the Ramban rules that one must drink most of the contents of the cup, whereas the Ran rules that it is sufficient to drink most of a revi'is. One should preferably conduct oneself in accordance with the Ramban, however, if one only drank most of a revi'is of a large cup (containing more than a revi'is), one has fulfilled his obligation ("Halachos of Pesach," by Rav Shimon Eider Vol II, pg 230 (Ch20 E1))

One should make sure to drink an entire revi'is for the fourth cup, because the "bracha acharona" ("after-blessing"), recited after the fourth cup, may only be recited after drinking a revi'is.

Chapter 118:10
Preparations for the Seder

10. It is customary [for males] to wear a kittel (1) (white robe) at the Seder, and it should be prepared before Yom Tov begins. A mourner, may G-d protect us, should not wear such a garment (2). He is, however, obligated to recline at the Seder (3). Nevertheless, if he has not observed any aspects of mourning before the commencement of Yom Tov, for example, if he buried his dead on Yom Tov itself, it is customary not to recline. He must, however, recite Hallel (4), for Hallel is an obligation.


(1) The kittel is worn in honor of Yom Tov. According to the Midrash, it resembles the "clothes" of Angels, and is therefore a symbol of joy. Another reason for wearing it is proposed by the commentators: since it is customary for a Jewish male to be buried in his kittel, wearing it is a reminder of the day of death, and prevents a person from becoming too haughty and frivolous as a result of the obligation to act and feel like royalty during the Seder.

(2) Since the primary reason for wearing the kittel is for the joy and honor of Yom Tov, it is not fitting for a mourner to adorn himself in such a garment.

(3) As we saw in HY 118:6, it is a mitzvah on the night of Pesach to act and feel as if you, yourself, were just freed from slavery in Egypt. The Sages established the mitzvah of leaning to the left during the seder, as an outward expression of this newfound freedom; royality and nobility in those days reclined while eating (Rambam, 'Yad', Chometz U'Matzah 7:7).

(4) "Hallel" consists of selected paragraphs from Psalms.

Chapter 118:11
Preparations for the Seder

11. A son attending a Seder in his father's presence is obligated to recline (1). In contrast, a student attending a Seder in his Rebbe's (teacher) presence need not recline (2).


(1) It is a mitzvah on the night of Pesach to act and feel as if you, yourself, were just freed from slavery in Egypt; this is derived from the verse "and you shall remember that YOU were a slave..." (Deut 5:15), and the verse which tells us to tell our children that "He took US out of there" (Deut 6:23). The Sages established the mitzvah of reclining to the left during the seder, as an outward expression of this newfound freedom, because royality and nobility in those days reclined while eating (Rambam, 'Yad', Chometz U'Matzah 7:7).

There is one authority who rules that since nowadays it is not the custom of nobility to recline, we are not obligated to recline during the seder. However most authorities disagree and rule that if one did not recline while performing the mitzvah of eating matzah (including "Korech" and "Afikoman"), and drinking the four cups of wine, then one has not fulfilled his obligation and must eat or drink again. It is preferable (but not obligatory) to recline while eating and drinking the entire seder meal.

Although it would be generally considered disrespectful for a son to recline in his father's presence, we assume that the father forgoes this outward sign of respect on the Seder night, so that his son can perform the mitzvah (this is true even if the father is also his son's teacher) (Mishna Berura 472:14).

(2) According to the Talmud, the reverence a student must have for his Rebbe is comparable to the reverence he must have for G-d. Therefore, if the student has not received permission from his Rebbe to recline, it would be prohibited for him to recline. Some authorities rule that if the Rebbe gives permission for the student to recline, then the student is obligated to recline ( Mishna Berura 472:16).

Halachos for Yom Tov

(Translated/adapted from "A Summary of the Shabbat Laws" (published by Machon Ohaley Shem)

Law # 243

If a holiday or Yom Kippur falls sometime in the coming week, even if it falls on Thursday night and Friday, then the prayer "Vayehi noam" is omitted. The reason is that the verse "The work of our hands was made" is said twice in this prayer, and labor will not be permitted on ALL of the coming six weekdays (labor on a holiday is forbidden). Yet, if the holiday falls on the coming Shabbat, "Vayehi Noam" is recited. On those occasions upon which "Vayehi Noam" is omitted, "V'Ata kadosh" and 'Seder Kedushah' are also not recited. The reason is that "Vayehi Noam" is about the completion of the Sanctuary's construction. Through the Sanctuary, G-d's Presence came to rest with the Jewish people, as is mentioned in "V'Ata kadosh"-'And You Who are holy, dwell with the praises of Israel'. For this reason, these two prayers are always recited or omitted together.

From Elizabeth for those looking to convert to Judaism:

A crash course in Pessach:

From Shulamis on the four sons:

Birthright through the Jewish woman from Lori:


Guy, who recently turned thirty-one, is the son of an electrical engineer and a naturopath living in Tel Aviv. In high school he was enrolled the enrichment program for gifted students. Upon completing his compulsory army service, Guy signed on for an additional five years as an officer specializing in logistics. He studied computer technology at college level, and at the same time, served as director of a private school which prepared students with learning difficulties for matriculation.

Even before Guy was discharged from the service, his parents decided to start observing Torah and Mitzvos. It happened when Guy's mother and her sister, Guy's aunt, decided to surprise their own parents with a joint weekend trip to a luxury hotel in Ashkelon. That same weekend, an Arachim Seminar was being held in their hotel. Curiosity prompted them to ask about the program, and they decided to listen in on a lecture or two.

The families enjoyed the lectures very much. When an Arachim staff member phoned them about an upcoming Seminar, Guy's parents enrolled. As a result of what they learned at the Seminar, the senior Lavones decided to become Baalei Teshuva. Mr. Lavone joined a local Shuir for newcomers to Torah study, and Mrs. Lavone attends classes three times a week at a local institute for baalos Teshuva. Guy's younger brother, Tomer, saw how enthused his parents were and decided to attend a Seminar for singles. He came back fully convinced. His sister, Ravit, is also well on the way to Teshuva.

Guy finished off his stint in the army, then enrolled in university. However, he took no interest whatsoever in his family's new outlook on life. He enjoyed his visits back home, joined their Shabbos meals and found the new atmosphere a pleasant one, and he would do whatever he could to fit in with the rest of the family. However, for himself, he was happy with his life just the way it was. After a short visit with the family, he returned to his dorm at school and continued to pursue his studies.

Even so, in the long run, Guy was affected by the change at home. It made him stop to ponder life: Where was he headed? What did he want to accomplish with his life? His parents and his brother and sister seemed very happy in their new life; would he be happy in his own?

Very gradually, he also began to draw closer to his Judaism. Without letting anyone know, he began to wash negel wasser in the morning. On Shabbos, he would manage not to write anything down. Here and there, he kept other practices that he noticed his family had adapted. He had some basic knowledge, and was willing to learn and do more, but the pressures of work and his studies kept him from going into the topic at depth.

Guy received his diploma in computer sciences at the height of the recession in the field. Two or three years earlier, he would have been overwhelmed with job offers; now, even experienced programmers were suddenly out of work. Under the circumstances, Guy decided it was time to give himself a break.

When Guy's mother, Shoshana Lavone, heard of his plans to leave for parts unknown, her heart was not easy. It was clear to her that her son was not planning a tour of the standard tourist spots. She turned to Guy with a request: "For your sake, and for ours, please keep Shabbos fully, for two weeks in a row. Guy agreed. In retrospect, when he looks back on those two days he spent absorbing the sanctity of the Shabbos, Guy feels that their special atmosphere accompanied him on his travels, giving him strength to carry on during the trials that befell him, without falling into utter despair even in the valley of death. But we are jumping ahead in Guy's story,

Armed with his parents' prayers and good wishes, with a siddur and a copy of Tehillim that his mother slipped into his backpack, Guy took a flight to Argentina. From there he flew to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, located on the archipelago that stretches out from the southern tip of Argentina and Chile as though trying to shake hands with the frozen Antarctic. On one side, Ushuaia is bordered by the meeting point of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; on the other, by steep mountains topped by permanent glaciers.

The region was dubbed "The Land of Fire" by the Spaniards who conquered the area. They were struck by the campfires the local Indians lit on mountain tops as a means of communication. Others say the name was given because of the numerous volcanoes the explorers found in the area.

Guy arrived in Ushuaia in the middle of South America's summer, when the region enjoys twenty hours of sunlight out of every twenty-four. Even so, there are heavy rains during the season. The combination of melting glaciers and heavy precipitation causes the many rivers in the area to run fast and fierce. The region is noted for its spectacular waterfalls and abundant swampland.

In Ushuaia, Guy found himself a companion well-suited to his goal of spending time alone with himself in the bosom of nature. Michael, an Austrian, was an experienced mountain climber. An accomplished athlete in fine form, Michael suggested the two set out on a three-day jaunt along a route that would circle Ushuaia's glacier and meet up with the highway that led to the north. Guy left a message where he was staying that he would be back in a few days' time, and the two adventurers started out.

Their route twisted and turned up the mountain slopes, giving them one breathtaking view after the other. Rivers plummeted down the slopes and gathered in frothy rivers, often forming spectacular waterfalls. They looked down on crystal clear, blue lagoons that appeared untouched since the day they were first created.

The original route seemed too easy to Michael. He pointed to the snowcapped peak beyond the lagoon and asked Guy: "Why not circle around that mountain, and come back to our starting point? The scenery there must be spectacular!"

Their new itinerary called for crossing a raging river whose waters were nearly at the freezing point. There was no bridge, only a large, slippery log joined the two banks of the frothy stream.

One false move could cause a serious injury - or worse. Guy managed the crossing unharmed; but Michael tumbled into the frigid waters. For a lesser athlete, it might have proven fatal, but Michael had his wits about him and pulled himself to safety.

Together, the two adventurers climbed toward the peak, planning to descend back to their starting point once they reached the top. However, when they reached the summit, they could see only one peak after the other. Before them lay an entire chain of mountains, with no end in sight.

Guy wanted to return just the way they had come, but that was too tame a solution for an experienced adventurer like Michael.

"There must be a pass somewhere between the peaks," he insisted. "We just need to find it, and make our way back."

Evening set in. They made camp, had supper from the provisions they had brought with them, and went to sleep. Next morning they arose refreshed, and carried on. They crossed a high plateau, thinking that they had almost reached the road that would lead them back to Ushuaia. However, they encountered an obstacle: a large lake blocked their path.

"No problem," announced Michael. "We'll just have to follow the shore and circle around it." The trek around the lake took them longer than they had anticipated. Darkness overtook them before they had reached their destination. Again they bedded down for the night. The next morning, they continued on their way. When they reached the river that flowed out of the lake, they followed along its banks. Their path led them onward until they reached a huge lagoon, which brought them to a dead stop. Where should they go from here?

The expanse of water reminded Guy of Lake Kinneret, back home in Israel's Galilee. It was about the same size, and brought back fond memories. At this point, Guy would have given a great deal to be in his native land, hiking in familiar territory rather than in the hostile Land of Fire. Now, however, the hikers had no alternative but to follow the shoreline. They plodded on and on, until night forced them to stop. Exhausted, they ate the last of their provisions and fell into a deep sleep.

Dawn woke them to a new day fraught with problems: no food, no direction, and no path to follow. It was then that Guy recalled the copy of Tehillim that his mother had tucked into his backpack. When they stopped to rest, he opened it and began to recite the heartfelt words of David HaMelech. It nourished his soul and renewed his hope. Michael climbed up to a nearby hilltop to get a view of the area around them. Perhaps he would see a path that would lead to some sign of civilization.

On his return, Michael reported that the only way open to them was the riverbed below. They made their way down to the muddy canyon. Again and again, they slipped and fell, but each time, they helped one another up and slowing moved forward.

After twelve hours of plodding, with nothing to eat, they reached another large lake that brought them to a halt. Once again, they would have to tackle the mountain heights respite their weakened state. Frothy streams slashed the steep slopes as they rushed down to the lake below. They continued to climb without having the least hint which way would lead them out of this beautiful, but forsaken land.

At one point during their climb, they suddenly heard a deep rumble in the distance. The ominous sound grew louder and louder. Suddenly an avalanche of ice, snow and rock tumbled down the slope only a few feet away from them. How close they had come to being buried alive!

It was a terrifying experience, but Michael had still not lost his confidence. "Just wait," he told Guy. "I'm sure we'll see the road right around the bend."

Guy was not convinced. An inner voice warned him that they were heading in the wrong direction. "Let's go up to the summit so we can see the entire region, and find out where we are," he suggested.

Meanwhile, it was growing dark. They took shelter under a ledge, to protect themselves from another avalanche. Morning found them hungry, but hopeful that the view from the top would answer the question, which haunted them: Where were they?

Another few hours' climbing brought them to the peak. The view left them breathless. The creation in its fullest beauty lay before them, displaying a chain of sharp mountain peaks that bordered a huge, open bay. Instead of the road they had gone so far to locate, they saw only water and more water, as far as the eye could see.

It was the top of the world! Or, perhaps, the end of the world. In every direction, they found not a single indication that another human being had ever reached the area. Overhead, two huge condors circled round. Guy wondered: Were they eyeing what they thought would be their next meal?

The two travelers were stunned. The wind cut into them, the cold numbed their senses, and clouds were closing in on the summit. They were desperate for food, and completely cut off from any human contact. Clearly, their wisest step now would be to change their plan of action. Rather than searching for a way to get back to civilization, they must concentrate on surviving until a search party could locate them.

The two found a sheltered ledge of level rock where they could light a fire. Perhaps the smoke would be seen by a passing ship or helicopter. They pitched their tent, and gathered some twigs. However, the wood was too damp to catch fire. They would have to try their luck lower down. They packed their gear and carefully descended to a valley, where they found some berries. They broke their fast, and continued down to the shore of the bay. There they found all the berries they could eat. This was their sole source of nourishment for the duration of their ordeal.

While exploring the shoreline, they discovered a peninsula, and decided to pitch camp there until they were rescued. Michael refused to rest for a single minute. He demanded that they do whatever they could to make sure they would be rescued. Even when heavy rains poured down, even when Guy declared it was his Sabbath, and he could not work, Michael was a whirlwind of tense, desperate activity.

In contrast, Guy was calmer. He continued to recite Tehillim. An inner voice assured him that, eventually, they would be rescued.

On Shabbos, Guy felt that his prayers had an additional dimension of depth that gave him new hope. He would recall scenes from the Shabbosos at home, before he left. The tunes of his family's Zemiros at the Shabbos table came back to him. He hummed to himself, again and again, and drew new strength. One song, in particular, echoed in his mind: "Ki eshmerah Shabbos, Keil yishmereni – If I guard the Shabbos, G-d will guard over me." What meaning these words took on, there at the end of the world! Every seventh day, the words infused Guy with renewed hope.

Guy explained to Michael that a Biblical verse declares that Hashem's salvation comes "in the blink of the eye."

"It can happen so quickly," he explained to his Austrian companion, "that we won't have time to prepare for it." The seasoned mountain climber remained pessimistic. "Perhaps our salvation has already come and gone, and it was so quick that we didn't even notice it!" He was not affected by Guy's faith.

Summer was drawing to a close. The days grew shorter, the winds colder. The sun's rays heated the earth less and less. Fall would soon be upon them. In its wake, would come an icy winter which would quickly freeze them to death. Michael looked to the future with dread. Guy continued to read Tehillim. Verse after verse seemed to express exactly what he felt in his heart, and he drew his optimism from its words.

One day they heard the drone of a helicopter, but the clouds hid it from view. They listened as the sound of its motor drew closer, and then faded away. Another time, they spied a ship in the distance, shell fishing the bay's deep waters, but it did not see them.

Late one afternoon, Guy stood scanning the horizon, when suddenly a thought occurred to him. The whole time, they had been heading south. If so, east was to their left. But that was where the sun was now sinking downward, toward the horizon. The sun was setting in the east! How could that be?

Guy felt his strength suddenly drain from him. His mind was flooded with melancholy thoughts. Perhaps all his life he had been going in the wrong direction? Maybe this was just another mistake in a long series of mistakes? This might well be far more than just another error; it might prove to be his last.

He turned to Michael: "Tell me, in which direction were we going all the time?"

"Southward," answered Michael, mechanically.

"If we were going south," retorted Guy, "then look! That way must be east, and that's where the sun is setting now. Do you want to tell me the sun is setting in the east?"

"You're right," said Michael with a shrug of his shoulders. "I made a mistake. A bitter mistake. But what good does it do us to find out now that we're helplessly lost?"

Now Guy decided that he must be the one to take the lead. Above all, they must not lose hope! Together, they would do everything they could to make themselves visible to a passing ship or plane.

They found logs whose bark had been whitened by the fierce winds. As weak and tired as they were, both men sawed away at the wood and dragged it into place. They knew their lives depended on someone's spotting them from afar. After they had formed a wooden SOS they added a white frame, the better to attract attention should another helicopter chance by. It took several days, but they had to try. It seemed their only hope.

Guy kept track of the days, and each Shabbos, he prayed. He also recited Tehillim, and sang Zemiros. He remained full of hope, confident that somehow, they would be rescued.

They finished their project. Another day went by, and another. On the third day, Guy prayed with more concentration than usual. He pleaded with G-d that this be the day of their rescue.

Suddenly they heard the drone of a motor in the distance. They looked up and saw a helicopter, headed their way. Closer and closer it came. Their logs had been spotted! They were saved!

The helicopter landed! As the two men rushed up to it, out stepped the pilot, South American, and the passenger, Japanese who was en route to Chile to hire a team of photographers. They were the first human beings the lost pair had seen in thirty-three days!

The pilot had spotted their SOS and decided to investigate. The meeting was moving for all four men. Quickly they took down their tent, packed up their gear, and climbed eagerly into the rescue plane. As the rotors began to spin and the plane left the ground, their hearts swelled with joy. They would live! They would see their families and dear ones once again! The melody of "Yeshuas Hashem keheref Ayin – Hashem's salvation comes in the wink of the eye ran through Guy's mind again and again. Indeed, Guy's situation had changed in the time it takes to blink an eye.

From the helicopter's pilot they learned that they were not in Argentina, but in Chile, 200 kilometers away from the city of Ushuaia! Their rescuers took them back to civilization. Guy's first step was to contact his family back in Israel. He had lost fifteen kilos, he told them, but thank Heaven, he was alive. His family told him that an expert search team was looking for him and Michael right then, but closer to Ushuaia. Dozens of friends and relatives had prayed for him constantly; groups of women had gathered daily to recite Tehillim on his behalf. The family sought the blessings of a number of outstanding rabbis and asked them to join in their prayers on behalf of the two adventurers.

It was a fateful month for the Lavone family in Israel. Their hearts alternated between prayers and hope, and anxiety for their son's fate. Upon his return, Guy learned that until now, no one had ever survived more than two weeks in the Land of Fire and come out alive. The harsh conditions made survival almost out of the question.

After a short rest, Guy returned to Israel a different person. Convinced that Heaven had not guarded over him and rescued him for nothing, he was determined to make his life more meaningful. Now he followed his family's footsteps and delved more deeply into his Judaism. Today he attends a Torah study circle regularly. He continues to find deep inspiration in Tehillim, and is certain that one verse, above all, will always be particularly meaningful to him: "Though I walk through the valley of death, I shall not fear, for YOU are with me." (Tehillim 23:4)

A Fortune in Whisky Barrels

Reb Chaim Eleazar Shapira (1832-1937), the Rebbe of Munkatsch, often told the following story on Shushan Purim, the anniversary of the passing of Reb Koppel of Likova:

Reb Koppel made a good living as a wholesaler of hard liquor. As sometimes happened, the approach of Passover found him with a large stock of full barrels in his warehouse. They were worth a small fortune, and he was relying on them to provide him with money for the numerous dowries that he would soon need, for he was blessed with many daughters and he had no other source of income. This should not have posed a problem, for it was exactly for this situation that the sages legislated the sale of leavened products for the duration of the Passover festival.

But he did not know that this year the local gentiles had conspired against him. They were well aware that, as every year, Reb Koppel would be seeking a non-Jew to whom he could sell all his leaven products. So they plotted that this year no one would buy his Chametz from him. They knew that he would then have no alternative but to declare it all ownerless. Then they would be able to legitimately help themselves to this wealth of liquor and divide it among themselves.

Everything went according to plan. Early in the morning of the eve of Pesach, Reb Koppel went to the homes of a few different gentiles, to whom he was accustomed over the years to sell his stock of whiskey. But this time each one refused, each mumbling a different excuse. He knocked on many other doors but no one would agree to help him. From the smiles that accompanied their refusals, he realized that something was up.

After a few hours, the deadline for benefiting from Chametz arrived; after this time he could no longer own the contents of his barrels nor sell them. Having no choice, he loaded them all on a wagon, and drove to the riverside beyond the borders of the town. There he unloaded them and recited the traditional Aramaic formula: “All leaven or anything leavened which is in my possession…shall be considered naught and ownerless as the dust of the earth.”

Although he had just cast away a small fortune with just a few brief words, he drove his empty wagon home in a happy mood. He thanked G-d that he had been able to fulfill the mitzvah of ridding oneself of one’s Chametz in such a magnificent yet straightforward manner, for surely he would never again cast eyes on that valuable merchandise.

His family was devastated at the loss and throughout the eight-day festival barely managed to conceal their depression over their sudden destitute state. Reb Koppel, however, spent the entire holiday in a state of exalted joy.

The morning after the final day of Passover, he and his family set out for the riverside spot where Reb Koppel had abandoned his life’s worth. Although they were certain that the local gentiles had happily drained every barrel to the last drop, they hoped that at least the barrels had been left standing and intact. Now that they had been reduced to poverty, they thought that perhaps they could make a bit of money by selling the empty barrels

When they arrived at the location, a group of gentiles that were standing around there called out to them derisively:

“You’re a real clever Jew, huh! What a trick you played on us, proclaiming in a loud voice that you are abandoning all of your whiskey, and then sending a fierce watchman with a sword in his hand to guard the barrels night and day for your entire festival?”

Reb Koppel and his family did not know what they were talking about. What watchman? Where was he? Where did he come from? Who sent him? Why? However, when they approached the barrels, they saw with their own eyes that they were all intact and as full as they had been nine days previously, not a drop was missing. Only then did they understand from where the watchman had come – from heaven!

Since the barrels of whiskey were still officially ownerless, Reb Koppel quickly claimed them and took legal possession. Then he reloaded them on his wagon, and returned them to their starting place in his warehouse.


Biographical note: Reb Koppel of Likova was the maternal grandfather of the famous Chasidic Rebbe, the Seer of Lublin. He passed away on the Fifteenth of Adar in the late 1700′s.Connection: Less than 30 days till Pesach! [Sources: Translated and freely adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from Sipurei Chasidim, p.274, with some additions from A Treasury of Chassidic Tales - Artscroll.]

Chabad of Central Africa

With North Africa in revolt for weeks of terror and uncertainty and the rest of the continent periodically experiencing periods of unrest, there are occasionally quiet times for celebration and peace. A few weeks ago, Chabad celebrated 20 years in Central Africa at the Congo Hotel. The fact that the event took place just days after a terrorist attack at a nearby military base and an attempted coup at the presidential palace is testament to the Chabad spirit of continuing its goal of spreading Yiddishkeit regardless of local disturbances or challenges, large or small.

Antoine Ghonda Roving, Ambassador for the Congolese President, was touched by Chabad’s decision to continue the banquet undeterred by local problems and fears; “Your people and your community have given the best proof of friendship by maintaining this event today despite the awkward situation,” said Roving, as reported by Haaretz. “Members of your community did not hesitate to travel from the U.S.A, Europe, Israel, and South Africa to prove to the international community that you trusted this country.”

“As you say in Hebrew, Mazal brings Mazal,” he added.

Chabad spokesman Yaakov Behrman reported a general feeling of safety in Africa, in spite of the fact that Jews are a very small minority in the region and there are occasional bouts of political and social unrest. Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, the Kinshasa-based director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Central Africa, reported that not only has he not sensed anti-Semtism, even as he has traveled through 14 countries, but he has felt that the local population holds Israel and the Holy Land in high regard.

Antoine Ghonda Roving discussed Chabad’s many programs that contribute joy, knowledge and kindness to the 14 countries where Chabad has a presence. He praised the contribution the Lubavitch movement has made to society in Central Africa and the open-handed generosity exhibited by its emissaries. Ghonda described the way in which every Chabad House is like a spiritual embassy in miniature and gave a concrete example. When the Israeli embassy closed down in Kinshasa due to financial constraints, Chabad emissaries stepped in and provided services for Israelis traveling in the area, and even became involved in social, political and agricultural projects.

“Consequently, if someone goes out and ask to anyone that Israel doesn’t have an embassy in Kinshasa, no one will believe you,” he said. The Jewish programs sponsored by Chabad in Sub-Saharan Africa are developed for tourists, businesspeople and the small local community. By Miriam Metzinger

More on Pessach from Hollywood FL Chabad:

The last story is written in Hebrew with my condensation: בכל יום מימי השבעה, נכנס רמי לוי- בעל סופר מרקט רמי לוי, לבית משפחת פוגל באיתמר, וממלא בעצמו את הארון והמקרר במצרכים ואוכל למשפחה וחברים. היום, אחד מקרובי המשפחה הביע את הערכתו למעשיו ורמי ענה לו שכדאי שיתרגל לפרצוף שלו בסביבה, כי הוא התחייב לעצמו שהוא ימלא את הבית הזה אוכל עד שקטן היתומים יהיה בן 18.

Chaim O. sent me the above story. Rami Levy an owner of a supermarket chain was moved very much by what happened to the Fogel Family at Itamar. During the Sheva he came daily to house of the grandparents personally and made sure that they had a refrigerator full of food to serve to their many guests. He told them that they better get used to seeing his face for he is going to be coming back until the youngest of the orphans is 18.

Inyanay Diyoma

The Democrats will not let the USA mine oil shale but with a Jewish head and brains in gear, Israel promises to be a major oil shale producer because oil is over $50 a barrel:,7340,L-4049471,00.html

USA stopping the bombing of Kaddafi as they realize that the rebels are Al Qaeda:

Attempt to infiltrate Military Base:

Here is Hamas and the voice of Cairo is not far behind: related: Get out of Sinai now:,7340,L-4051076,00.html

Hezballah prepares for war:

When non-Jews need your help make a Kiddush HASHEM

Hypocrite Ron Paul is one of the earmark kings of Congress:

Two part editorial and military analysis:,7340,L-4051709,00.html and,7340,L-4052100,00.html

As for our good friend Chavez:

Chavez has another friend who will punish the west:

Nazi Saboteurs:

Somebody is trying to put the government household in order:

Science News:

When they are not committing genocide in Dafur, the Sudanese are helping Hamas now guess what:,7340,L-4053036,00.html

This is a real gasser:,7340,L-4053235,00.html

Chabad in Japan March 24th, 2011

When the tsunami struck Japan on Friday, March 11, few could have predicted the scale of the devastation created by the quake that measured between 8 and 9 on the Richter scale. While Asian nations are no strangers to tropical storms, the amount of destruction that resulted was beyond expectation. Across Japan, tens of thousands lost their lives, nearly half a million were without adequate food, shelter and electricity, and the shock and confusion in the aftermath of the disaster only deepen the wounds caused by the trauma.

As usual, Chabad emissaries have been on hand to deal with the crisis, not only to the community of Jews in Japan, but to all those affected by the catastrophe. Rabbi Mordechai Avtzon, director of Chabad in Asia ordered massive shipments of food to be brought to the Chabad House in Japan, which now serves as a kind of “nerve center” of relief and healing to all those who need assistance.

Rabbi Binyomin Edery of Tokyo has struggled to remain in Japan along with his wife Efrat and their children. Even in dire and dangerous conditions, he traveled from Tokyo to Sendai, a city that was among the hardest hit by the quake, to search for Jews who needed a helping hand. Along the way, he handed out brochures detailing the Seven Noachide Laws to non-Jews he met, and he received positive responses from those who saw their world literally collapse and were searching for answers to their desperate and deepest questions.

Finding inspiration from the letters of the Rebbe, Edery felt there was no reason for further panic, even as neighborhoods were destroyed beyond all recognition; “Once you travel approximately 300 km north from Tokyo along the east coast of Japan the sights are very difficult. There are miles of decimated houses, cars and trees. Unfortunately, there are too many bodies.”

Even without basic necessities, the Edery family is preparing for the joyful holiday of Purim with what little is available. Meanwhile, Chabad emissaries, including Rabbi Mendy Sudakevich of Japan who is temporarily in Israel, are organizing the delivery of 50,0000 food rations to be sent to Japan from the U.S. Rabbi Avtzon said the relief effort could end up costing $25,000 a day for a month. “In addition to our prayers, all of Japan needs assistance,” Rabbi Avtzon told Donations for these efforts can be made at By Miriam Metzinger



As President George W. Bush's top speechwriter, Marc Thiessen was provided unique access to the CIA program used in interrogating top Al Qaeda terrorists, including the mastermind of the 9/11 attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM).

Now, his riveting new book, "Courting Disaster", How the CIA Kept America Safe (Regnery), has been published.

Here is an excerpt from "Courting Disaster":

Just before dawn on March 1, 2003, two dozen heavily armed Pakistani tactical assault forces move in and surround a safe house in Rawalpindi . A few hours earlier they had received a text message from an informant inside the house. It read: "I am with KSM."

Bursting in, they find the disheveled mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in his bedroom. He is taken into custody. In the safe house, they find a treasure trove of computers, documents, cell phones and other valuable "pocket litter."

Once in custody, KSM is defiant. He refuses to answer questions, informing his captors that he will tell them everything when he gets to America and sees his lawyer. But KSM is not taken to America to see a lawyer Instead he is taken to a secret CIA "black site" in an undisclosed location.

Upon arrival, KSM finds himself in the complete control of Americans. He does not know where he is, how long he will be there, or what his fate will be.

Despite his circumstances, KSM still refuses to talk. He spews contempt at his interrogators, telling them Americans are weak, lack resilience, and are unable to do what is necessary to prevent the terrorists from succeeding in their goals. He has trained to resist interrogation. When he is asked for information about future attacks, he tells his questioners scornfully: "Soon, you will know."

It becomes clear he will not reveal the information using traditional interrogation techniques. So he undergoes a series of "enhanced interrogation techniques" approved for use only on the most high-value detainees. The techniques include waterboarding.

His resistance is described by one senior American official as "superhuman." Eventually, however, the techniques work, and KSM becomes cooperative-for reasons that will be described later in this book.

He begins telling his CIA de-briefers about active al Qaeda plots to launch attacks against the United States and other Western targets. He holds classes for CIA officials, using a chalkboard to draw a picture of al Qaeda's operating structure, financing, communications, and logistics. He identifies al Qaeda travel routes and safe havens, and helps intelligence officers make sense of documents and computer records seized in terrorist raids. He identifies voices in intercepted telephone calls, and helps officials understand the meaning of coded terrorist communications. He provides information that helps our intelligence community capture other high-ranking terrorists, KSM's questioning, and that of other captured terrorists, produces more than 6,000 intelligence reports, which are shared across the intelligence community, as well as with our allies across the world.

In one of these reports, KSM describes in detail the revisions he made to his failed 1994-1995 plan known as the "Bojinka plot" to blow up a dozen airplanes carrying some 4,000 passengers over the Pacific Ocean.

Years later, an observant CIA officer notices the activities of a cell being followed by British authorities appear to match KSM's description of his plans for a Bojinka-style attack.

In an operation that involves unprecedented intelligence cooperation between our countries, British officials proceed to unravel the plot.
On the night of Aug.9, 2006 they launch a series of raids in a northeast London suburb that lead to the arrest of two dozen al Qaeda terrorist suspects. They find a USB thumb-drive in the pocket of one of the men with security details for Heathrow airport, and information on seven trans-Atlantic flights that were scheduled to take off within hours of each other:

* United Airlines Flight 931 to San Francisco departing at 2:15 p.m.;

* Air Canada Flight 849 to Toronto departing at 3:00 p.m.;

* Air Canada Flight 865 to Montreal departing at 3:15 p.m.;

* United Airlines Flight 959 to Chicago departing at 3:40 p.m.;

* United Airlines Flight 925 to Washington departing at 4:20 p.m.;

* American Airlines Flight 131 to New York departing at 4:35 p.m;

* American Airlines Flight 91 to Chicago departing at 4:50 p.m.

They seize bomb-making equipment and hydrogen peroxide to make liquid explosives. And they find the chilling martyrdom videos the suicide
bombers had prepared.

Today, if you asked an average person on the street what they know
about the 2006 airlines plot, most would not be able to tell you much.
Few Americans are aware of the fact al Qaeda had planned to mark
the fifth anniversary of 9/11 with an attack of similar scope and magnitude.

And still fewer realize the terrorists' true intentions in this plot were uncovered thanks to critical information obtained through the interrogation of the man who conceived it: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

This is only one of the many attacks stopped with the help of the CIA interrogation program established by the Bush Administration in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Editor's Note: For other foiled terrorist plots, see page 9 of "Courting

In addition to helping break up these specific terrorist cells and plots, CIA questioning provided our intelligence community with an unparalleled body of information about al Qaeda Until the program was temporarily suspended in 2006, intelligence officials say, well over half of the information our government had about al Qaeda-how it operates, how it moves money, how it communicates, how it recruits operatives, how it picks targets, how it plans and carries out attacks-came from the interrogation of terrorists in CIA custody.

Former CIA Director George Tenet has declared: "I know this program has saved lives. I know we've disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than what the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."

Former CIA Director Mike Hayden has said: "The facts of the case are that the use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer. It really did work."

Even Barack Obama's Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, has acknowledged: "High-value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country."

Leon Panetta, Obama's CIA Director, has said: "Important information
was gathered from these detainees. It provided information that was
acted upon."

And John Brennan, Obama's Homeland Security Advisor, when asked in an interview if enhanced-interrogation techniques were necessary to keep America safe, replied : "Would the U.S. be handicapped if the CIA was not, in fact, able to carry out these types of detention and debriefing activities? I would say yes."

On Jan. 22, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13491, closing the CIA program and directing that, henceforth, all interrogations by U.S personnel must follow the techniques contained in the Army Field Manual.

The morning of the announcement, Mike Hayden was still in his post as CIA Director, He called White House Counsel Greg Craig and told him bluntly: "You didn't ask, but this is the CIA officially nonconcurring". The president went ahead anyway, over ruling the objections of the agency.

A few months later, on April 16, 2009, President Obama ordered the release of four Justice Department memos that described in detail the techniques used to interrogate KSM and other high-value terrorists. This time, not just Hayden (who was now retired) but five CIA directors -including Obama's own director, Leon Panetta -- objected. George Tenet called to urge against the memos' release. So did Porter Goss. So did John Deutch. Hayden says: "You had CIA directors in a continuous unbroken stream to 1995 calling saying, 'Don't do this.'"

In addition to objections from the men who led the agency for a collective 14 years, the President also heard objections from the agency's covert field operatives. A few weeks earlier, Panetta had arranged for the eight top officials of the Clandestine Service to meet with the President. It was highly unusual for these clandestine officers to visit the Oval Office, and they used the opportunity to warn the President that releasing the memos would put agency operatives at risk. The President reportedly listened respectfully-and then ignored their advice.

With these actions, Barack Obama arguably did more damage to America's national security in his first 100 days of office than any President in American history.

Now for an M. Wolfberg Good Shabbos Story “To Heal Him”

Good Shabbos Everyone. In this week's portion Tazria the Torah describes how the kohan was responsible for diagnosing tzaraas, a skin disease which inflicted Jews who had violated Torah ethics. A person who was suspected of being contaminated was to be brought for diagnosis before Aharon the Kohen or to one of his sons the Kohanim. Several verses in the Torah reading describe how the Kohen was to examine the affliction to determine the status of the patient. If a Kohen found the person to be contaminated, the kohen would send the afflicted person out of the camp.
Being alone outside of the camp allowed the afflicted metzora to reflect on his spiritual deficiencies, allowing him to do Teshuvah - to repent, and later return to the community. (Stone Tanach, citing R 'Hirsch, p.276) The kohen was not a medical doctor, but then again, tzaraas was a skin disease caused by spiritual shortcomings. Thus we see the great role that the Kohanim played in the spiritual lives of each and every Jew.
The Jewish nation is sadly still wandering in the desert, in golus - exile. Whom do we look to for spiritual guidance during our current wanderings? Until the Temple is rebuilt (it should be soon) we are unable to consult the Kohanim.
Rabbi Aryeh Levine of blessed memory. was well known, both in his homeland Eretz Yisrael and worldwide, for the unbridled love which he displayed to every single Jew. No act of kindness was beneath his dignity; no chesed - kindness too small. In his eyes a Jew was a Jew, and deserved to be treated like someone special. The tales of his kindness are legendary.
One such episode occurred, oddly enough, in a prison. Reb Aryeh had a custom to daven - pray on Shabbos with a group of prisoners. Arriving early Shabbos morning he would spend the next few hours davening - praying with the inmates and sharing with them words of inspiration and Torah. To these disheartened inmates Reb Aryeh's visit was the highlight of the week. Their lives were generally void of spirituality and relatively empty of all meaning. When Reb Aryeh spent time with them, it gave some measure of meaning to their lives. It made them feel special that a rabbi would make such a sacrifice and spend Shabbos with them; it was truly the best day of their week.
On one particular Shabbos Reb Aryeh, as usual, trekked to the prison to daven with his unique group. In the middle of Shacharis - the morning prayers, a messenger burst into the room where they had been davening. "Rabbi — you must come — immediately!" the man shouted, urgency in his voice. "It's your daughter. Something terrible has happened." The bearer of the unfortunate news could hardly catch his breath as he had obviously run as quickly as possible to relay the information.
Reb Aryeh apologetically excused himself and hurried home. He walked out of the prison and was instantly directed to Shaarei Tzedek Hospital where his daughter had been admitted. Reb Aryeh's wife greeted him at the entrance of the hospital. She detailed the chain of shocking events that transpired that Shabbos morning. She had been preparing the Shabbos meal in the kitchen when she noticed her daughter lying motionless in the adjacent room. Her head was burning hot and she was completely unresponsive. She retold the frightening episode in its entirety, clutching her Tehillim in her trembling hands.
Reb Aryeh calmed her as they were led to their daughter's room. The child was lying there in a near-comatose state, and the doctors were at a complete loss as to what had happened to her.
Around the clock Tehillim (psalms) vigils were organized as word spread throughout Yerushalayim. Heartfelt prayers stormed the gates of Heaven but none seemed to alter her frail condition. Reb Aryeh himself altered his schedule so that he could spend maximum time at his sick daughter's bedside. A stressful week passed and there was no apparent change in the young girl's condition.
Shabbos came and Reb Aryeh decided that although he had not left the hospital for any other reason, he had to be at the prison minyan. How could he not? The prisoners waited an entire week for his visit. Leaving instructions as to where he could be found, he set out for the prison. As soon as he arrived a buzz filtered through the quarters, "Reb Aryeh is here!"
They couldn't believe he had come. They were painfully aware of his daughter's sad predicament and were shocked that he had come. Gathering around their Rav they inquired about the little girl's welfare. Reb Aryeh informed them that there had been no apparent improvement over the last week and that the doctors were concerned, "Hashem yaazor," (Hashem will help) he declared, the inmates witnessing the sincerity and faith in his voice.
The crowd settled down and Shacharis (morning prayers) progressed uneventfully. After Shacharis the chazzan placed the Torah down on the makeshift bimah (stand) and prepared to read from the Torah. Uzi, one of the prisoners, had the first aliyah. At the conclusion of his aliyah, the gabbai began reciting the Mi she'beirach - the prayer for the person who had the aliyah, pausing to hear the amount which Uzi wished to donate.
Uzi looked around the room. His gaze settled on Reb Aryeh and he wondered if he could somehow use this moment to help alleviate his teacher's suffering. And then it hit him. "I would like to offer one day of my life to the daughter of the Rav."
Reb Aryeh, startled, turned toward the bimah to ensure that he had heard correctly. "Uzi — but —" Reb Aryeh did not know how to respond. He could not believe what he had just heard. Ignoring his rebbi's protests, Uzi motioned to the gabbai to proceed with the remainder of the Mi she'beirach.
The next person who had an aliyah, took his cue from Uzi and the unusually touching scene repeated itself. All those who had aliyahs offered weeks, and even months from their respective lives to Reb Aryeh's ill daughter.
Reb Aryeh was completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and sacrifice that these men had exhibited.
Finally, Maftir was announced and Dov Tamari, a middle-aged fellow with a tough exterior, strode forward to recite the blessings on the Torah. The portion was read and the group turned around to pay close attention to Dov's Mi she'beirach.
Most expected him to follow suit and donate another week. Some, however, were skeptical and whispered their reservations to one another. But Dov shocked everyone with his proclamation. "What is our meaningless life in this prison worth when it is weighed against the pain of Reb Aryeh and his sick daughter? I wish to give over the rest of my life to Reb Aryeh's little girl." Not a week or a month. Not even a year. The rest of his life!
Reb Aryeh looked around at these men. Some had made mistakes during their lives, perhaps squandering opportunities given to them. But not today. Today these men achieved more than one could ever imagine. For a short time they did not seem like prisoners, rather they resembled angels. Or maybe, they were simply reciprocating to a special man by giving back a little bit of what they had received.
Reb Aryeh returned to the hospital that day and was greeted by the astonishing news that his daughter had opened her eyes. No one was able to explain the young girl's sudden "miraculous" improvement. No one, that is, except for Reb Aryeh. (Reb Yechiel Spiro, p. 220, Touched by a Story.)
Let us be inspired by this story to seek out qualified Torah leaders who will help us reach our spiritual potential.
Good Shabbos Everyone.

M. Wolfberg’s stories are sponsored by: Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah

REMEMBER DUST IS NOT CHAMETZ so have an easy Pessach cleaning and shop wisely. Have a good Shabbos and a good month and stay healthy,

Rachamim Pauli