Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Passover (Pessach) Parsha Shemini

Please pray for Rachel bas Bruncha 

Practice Korban Pessach from the Temple Institute a video to watch:

Parsha Shemini

9:1 And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel;

The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to talk about the mystical powers of 8. For the world was created in 7 days and the 8th day is above the Teva (nature). We do the Bris on the 8th day and so this was the 8th day of the dedication.

And it was on the eighth day: of the investitures. It was the first of the month of Nissan, the very day on which the Mishkan was erected. And [this day] took ten “crowns” [of distinction], which are enumerated in Seder Olam 7. — [Torath Kohanim 9:1] [called…] the elders of Israel: to inform them that it was by the express command of God that Aaron was entering into the Kehunah Gedolah , so that they should not say that he entered of his own accord.

2 and he said unto Aaron: 'Take thee a bull-calf for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD. 3 And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying: Take ye a he-goat for a sin-offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt-offering; 4 and an ox and a ram for peace-offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD; and a meal-offering mingled with oil; for to-day the LORD appears unto you.'

So on the 8th day HASHEM was going to reveal HIMSELF to the Cohain Gadol. It was going to be a tremendous spiritual occasion and boost. However, as we see it is fraught with danger. For as Kedusha rises so does Tuma and the Satan to be an adversary. So with the good comes danger. It will not be until Messianic times that the Yetzer will be purged from us.

For today the Lord is appearing to you: to make His Shechinah rest in the work of your hands [i.e., the work of the Mishkan], and for this reason, these sacrifices are obligatory for this day.

5 And they brought that which Moses commanded before the tent of meeting; and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD. 6 And Moses said: 'This is the thing which the LORD commanded that ye should do; that the glory of the LORD may appear unto you.' 7 And Moses said unto Aaron: 'Draw near unto the altar, and offer thy sin-offering, and thy burnt-offering, and make atonement for thyself, and for the people; and present the offering of the people, and make atonement for them; as the LORD commanded.'

First of all similar to Yom HaKippurim the Cohain Gadol makes atonement for himself and his family and then the general public of Am Yisrael.

Approach the altar: [Moses had to order Aaron to do so,] because Aaron was bashful and afraid to approach [the altar]. So Moses said to him: “Why are you ashamed? For this [function] you have been chosen!” - [Torath Kohanim 9:7] ... The people’s offering: The he-goat, the calf, and the lamb. Wherever the [unqualified] term עֵגֶל (calf) is stated [in Scripture], it denotes one in the first year. This [rule] is derived from this passage. [The term פַּר denotes one in the third year, עֵגֶל בֶּןבָּקָר one in the second year, and עֵגֶל one in the first year.]- [Torath Kohanim 4:208]

8 So Aaron drew near unto the altar, and slew the calf of the sin-offering, which was for himself. 9 And the sons of Aaron presented the blood unto him; and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar.

The blood of a wild animal and a bird requires covering up but a domesticated one. The sheep, goat or cow/bull only needed to have the blood poured on the floor.

10 But the fat, and the kidneys, and the lobe of the liver of the sin-offering, he made smoke upon the altar; as the LORD commanded Moses. 11 And the flesh and the skin were burnt with fire without the camp.

The flesh and the hide: We do not find [in Scripture] an outside sin-offering [i.e., one whose blood is sprinkled on the outside altar] to be burned, with the exceptions of this [instance] and [the sin-offerings] of the investitures. And all these [exceptions] were [burnt] at the express command [of God].

12 And he slew the burnt-offering; and Aaron’s sons delivered unto him the blood, and he dashed it against the altar round about. 13 And they delivered the burnt-offering unto him, piece by piece, and the head; and he made them smoke upon the altar. 14 And he washed the inwards and the legs, and made them smoke upon the burnt-offering on the altar. 15 And the people’s offering was presented; and he took the goat of the sin-offering which was for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first. 16 And the burnt-offering was presented; and he offered it according to the ordinance. 17 And the meal-offering was presented; and he filled his hand therefrom, and made it smoke upon the altar, besides the burnt-offering of the morning. 18 He slew also the ox and the ram, the sacrifice of peace-offerings, which was for the people; and Aaron’s sons delivered unto him the blood, and he dashed it against the altar roundabout, 19 and the fat of the ox, and of the ram, the fat tail, and that which covers the inwards, and the kidneys, and the lobe of the liver. 20 And they put the fat upon the breasts, and he made the fat smoke upon the altar. 21 And the breasts and the right thigh Aaron waved for a wave-offering before the LORD; as Moses commanded. 22 And Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people, and blessed them; and he came down from offering the sin-offering, and the burnt-offering, and the peace-offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and came out, and blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. 24 And there came forth fire from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat; and when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.

The fire from heaven existed in Beis Rishon but not in Beis Sheni and even Eliyahu HaNovi was able to bring down fire from heaven. Once the first Temple was destroyed, there was no more such fire in the second Temple but in the third Temple the fire will return again.

10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 And there came forth fire from before the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. …

Two hints are given for what happened to them. According to the standard is that in Acharei Mos that warns against Cohanim performing the Avoda drunk. The second possible answer comes from the Talmud where Persimmon Oil based perfume is mentioned as inflammable and causing a death of somebody. Whatever it was, one is forbidden to drink wine or strong drink and perform a Korban or other Avoda before HASHEM all the more so drugs and other things that effect our concentration on the duty of serving G-D.

I must add here that below the silence of Aaron and his mourning is approved of by Moshe as he could not eat the Korban with fervor needed. AN ASSIDE NOTE: ON THE NIGHT OF THE SEDER WE DO NOT EAT MATZOS 24 HOURS BEFORE IN ORDER THAT WE GET A DESIRE TO EAT THE MATZOS WITH FERVOR AND A HEARTY APPETITE.

16 And Moses diligently inquired for the goat of the sin-offering, and, behold, it was burnt; and he was angry with Eleazar and with Ithamar, the sons of Aaron that were left, saying: 17 ‘Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin-offering in the place of the sanctuary, seeing it is most holy, and He hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD? 18 Behold, the blood of it was not brought into the sanctuary within; ye should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded.’ 19 And Aaron spoke unto Moses: ‘Behold, this day have they offered their sin-offering and their burnt-offering before the LORD, and there have befallen me such things as these; and if I had eaten the sin-offering to-day, would it have been well-pleasing in the sight of the LORD? 20 And when Moses heard that, it was well-pleasing in his sight.

There is no greater loss than losing a child. I wrote a few times about two young men aged 20 and 25 killed in a car accident from my Yeshuv. They were sort of guest teens and young adults weekly in my house. They are gone for 24 years now but even as I write this a my eyes water thinking about them so I can only appreciate what it is vaguely for a parent to lose a child. Aaron did not lose one child, he lost two. I cannot even imagine what is going on in the mind of the man who recently lost 7 children in a fire or men and women who saw their families perish around 70 to 75 years ago in the holocaust.

As there is no early or late in the Torah, the Torah cuts the narrative here and goes on to a previous teaching and then picks up in Parsha Acharei Mos. For otherwise we would be mourning for the death of the children of Aaron as if it were now and the Torah must be observed with joy and not depressing thoughts. So we are told the laws of Kashrus and Tuma which have to be observed especially in the Mishkan or Mikdash.

Why Kosher? What is kosher? The answers appear within and at the end a brief summary: 11:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them: 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: These are the living things which ye may eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. 3 Whatsoever parts the hoof, and is wholly cloven-footed, and chews the cud, among the beasts, that may ye eat. … 9 These may ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them may ye eat. 10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that swarm in the waters, and of all the living creatures that are in the waters, they are a detestable thing unto you, 11 and they shall be a detestable thing unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, and their carcasses ye shall have in detestation. 12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that is a detestable thing unto you. … 21 Yet these may ye eat of all winged swarming things that go upon all fours, which have jointed legs above their feet, wherewith to leap upon the earth; 22 even these of them ye may eat: the locust after its kinds, and the bald locust after its kinds, and the cricket after its kinds, and the grasshopper after its kinds. 23 But all winged swarming things, which have four feet, are a detestable thing unto you.

The signs for the non-kosher birds are given but not here but in Sefer Devarim for Kosher Birds. There is a tradition with locusts that have been lost to the majority but the Yemenites still eat them and I would trust their tradition but our Rabbis tell us to go after the majority even if we are mistaken. Until the Sanhedrin is restored we are in this fix.

24 And by these ye shall become unclean; whosoever touches the carcass of them shall be unclean until even. 25 And whosoever bears aught of the carcass of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. 26 Every beast which parts the hoof, but is not cloven footed, nor chews the cud, is unclean unto you; every one that touches them shall be unclean. 43 Ye shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. 44 For I am the LORD your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am holy; neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of swarming thing that moves upon the earth. 45 For I am the LORD that brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. 46 This is the law of the beast, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that swarms upon the earth; 47 to make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the living thing that may be eaten and the living thing that may not be eaten.

The whole business of Kashrus is summed up to make a person holy for HASHEM is holy. Kosher for Pessach as the valued lesson of remembering Yetzias Mitzrayim and educating your children.

Parashat Sh’mini/Shabbat Parah: So you think you understand? Daniel Pinner Shlita March 20, 2014 at 8:00pm

It should have been the most joyous day since God had given us the Torah some ten months earlier. After months of preparing to build the Mishkan and its many accoutrements, after the euphoria of collecting the gold, silver, copper, wool, linen, goat-hair, ram-skins, acacia wood, olive oil, spices, and many precious stones and dedicating them all to the service of God, after the excitement of actually constructing the Mishkan and seeing it and its appurtenances taking form – after all this, there was a seven-day dress rehearsal.

From the 23rd of Adar onwards, Aaron and his sons had stayed at the Ohel Mo’ed (Tent of Meeting) while every day for seven days, Moshe erected the Mishkan, performed the entire Mishkan service, and then took the Mishkan down again.

Parashat Sh’mini opens on the 1st of Nissan: “It was on the eighth day that Moshe called Aaron and his sons and the Elders of Israel…” (Leviticus 9:1). This was the climax of the inauguration of the Mishkan, and the beginning of its regular functioning.

It should have been the most joyous day since God had given us the Torah…but disaster struck in the midst of the ecstatic celebrations. “Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, took each one his fire-pan, placed fire in them, and placed incense on it; and they offered before Hashem alien fire that He had not commanded them. And fire went forth from before Hashem and consumed them, and they died before Hashem” (Leviticus 10:1-2).

There are many different explanations as to what this “alien fire” was and why they died. The general trend is that in their (commendable) enthusiasm for God’s Service and their burning desire to come closer to God and to achieve greater holiness, they overstepped the boundaries of the acceptable.

Maybe they entered the Holy of Holies, which is forbidden to all except the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) on Yom Kippur (Vayikra Rabbah 20:8, Sifra Sh’mini Introduction part 34).

Maybe their intentions were improperly directed not towards the perfect Unity of Hashem (His attribute of Mercy), but towards His attribute of Justice, which was why they were punished harshly (Ramban, Commentary to Leviticus 10:2).

Maybe it was because they remembered the earlier charge, “The sons of Aaron the Kohen shall put fire on the Altar” (Leviticus 1:7), which they interpreted to mean: Even though fire comes down from Heaven, nevertheless it is a mitzvah to bring their own fire (Yoma 53a). And even though their interpretation was correct, they were punished for rendering this decision in front of their rabbi, Moshe, instead of deferring to him (Vayikra Rabbah 20:6, Rashi to Yoma 53a).

Maybe it was “because they entered the Ohel Mo’ed drunk with wine” (Vayikra Rabbah 12:1 and 5, Esther Rabbah 5:1).

But this tragedy was not to interfere with the national celebration. “Moshe called Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uziel, and said to them: Approach, lift your brethren from the midst of the Sanctuary to outside the camp” (Leviticus 10:4), “like a man who says to his friend, Remove this dead body from in front of the mourner! How long can this mourner continue grieving?!” (Vayikra Rabbah 20:4).

The Midrash implies that they removed the bodies so as to let Aaron and his family recover from their grief sooner.

Rashi, however, paraphrases and changes this Midrash: “Like a man who says to his friend, Remove this dead body from in front of the bride, so as not to disturb the celebration” (Commentary to Leviticus 10:4), implying that it was so as not to impinge on the nation’s celebration.

Maybe Rashi refers here to the Talmudic dictum that “if a dead body and a bride are both being escorted and the two processions approach each other, the funeral procession makes way for the bridal procession because honouring the living takes precedence over honouring the dead” (Semachot 11:6), which is the halachah in practice (Rambam, Laws of Mourning 14:8 and Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 360:1).

In the event, Mishael and Elzaphan (who were Levites and not Kohanim, which was why they were allowed to carry dead bodies) were charged to remove their cousins’ bodies.

The Ba’al ha-Turim (Rabbi Ya’akov ben Asher, Germany and Spain, c.1275-1343) notes that the word “kirvu”(“approach”) in the phrase “Approach, lift your brethren…” has two cantillation marks over it (telisha-gedolah and gershayyim), and explains: “There are two cantillation marks, indicating that they did not approach them into the Heichal (Inner Sanctum); rather, they cast iron hooks in and pulled them out”.

This is a reference to the Sifra, which records two different opinions of where exactly they died: “Rabbi Eliezer says, They died outside [of the Holy of Holies], in a place where Levites are permitted to enter… But in that case, why does it say ‘they died before Hashem’? – An angel smote them, and he pushed them out. Rabbi Akiva says, They died inside [the Holy of Holies], as it says ‘they died before Hashem’. But in that case, why does it say ‘they approached and lifted them by their Tunics’ (Leviticus 10:5)? – To indicate that they cast iron hooks in and pulled them out”.

So according to the Ba’al ha-Turim, the double cantillation suggests that Mishael and Elzaphan kept a certain distance from their task, only fulfilling it with a tool.

Both the telisha-gedolah and the gershayyim are “separative notes” (they indicate a slight pause in the sentence, approximately similar to a comma in English). They both indicate a form of removal: telisha connotes tearing off, and gershayyim connotes expulsion. Maybe the Ba’al ha-Turim relies on the names and functions of these two cantillation marks: kirvu – approach, tear them away and expel them from where they are now, but nevertheless keep a certain distance from the bodies.

This double cantillation of telisha-gedolah and gershayyim on a single word is extremely rare: it occurs only one other time in the Torah – the word “zeh” (“this one”) in Genesis 5:29: “This one [Noah] will bring us respite from our work and from the travail of our hands”. Maybe the Ba’al ha-Turim is also making an oblique reference to Noah: he, too, kept a certain distance from his task, fulfilling it only half-heartedly. Ideally he should have saved all of humanity by warning them of impending destruction and inspiring them to repent of their evil; instead he saved only himself and his immediate family, but failed to save the rest of humanity.

Both Noah performing the task God had given him, and Mishael and Elzaphan performing the task God had given them, had to tear themselves apart from their environments – Noah in order to maintain his righteousness among the evil that was prevalent in his generations, and Mishael and Elzaphan in order to bury their cousins in the midst of the national celebration without dampening the general joy.

This year 5774, as in about two-thirds of all leap years, Parashat Sh’mini coincides with Shabbat Parah, which is the Shabbat which directly precedes Shabbat Ha-Chodesh, which in turn is the Shabbat which either coincides with or immediately precedes Rosh Chodesh Nisan (Mishnah, Megillah 3:4; Mishneh Torah, Laws of Prayer 13:20; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 685:1-6; Mishnah Berurah 685:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 140:2).

The Maftir-reading for Shabbat Parah is the quintessential chok – the statute for which human reason can find no rationale – of the Red Cow (Numbers 19). The Red Cow purifies the Jew from spiritual defilement contracted from coming into contact with the corpse of a dead Jew.

An unblemished Red Cow which had never been given a yoke was to be slaughtered outside the camp; it was then burnt entirely – its hide, its flesh, its blood, its dung; then the Kohen would take cedar-wood, hyssop, and crimson thread, and throw those into the pyre.

For seven days before the Red Cow was burnt, the Kohen who was to perform the ceremony would be removed from his house and from his wife (Rambam, Laws of the Red Cow 2:2).

And when the Kohen performed this rite, he would thereby become ritually impure until evening, during which time he would have to remain outside the camp, separated from his brethren. Then another man, who was ritually pure, would gather the ashes and store them in a pure place; he, too, would become impure until evening. The ashes would then be stored up to be used as and when needed to purify any Jew from ritual impurity caused by contact with the corpse of a dead Jew.

The Torah commands that this purification ceremony be performed “outside of the camp” (Numbers 19:3). In later generations, when the Mishkan in the desert had been replaced with the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the purification ceremony would be performed outside of the walls of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives (Mishnah, Middot 1:3, 2:4, Parah 3:6; Yoma 16a; Rambam, Laws of Shekalim 4:8, Laws of the Red Cow 3:1).

Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura explains that we read this section on this Shabbat “to warn Israel to purify themselves so that they will be able to sacrifice the Paschal Lamb in purity” (Commentary to Mishnah Megillah 3:4). That is to say, the Red Cow is the necessary prelude to Pesach, because by its ashes the Jewish pilgrims to Jerusalem become purified, and consequently can enter the Holy Temple to offer both the Korban Pesach (the Paschal Lamb) and the Korban Chagigah (the Festival Sacrifice).

The tragic deaths of Nadab and Abihu in Parashat Sh’mini warn of the terrible danger of humans following their own decrees instead of God’s, even when they have the holiest and most exalted of intentions. Parashat Parah teaches us that God, and only God, decrees how purification can occur, that human reason cannot fathom pure spirituality.

That is to say, both Parashat Sh’mini and Parashat Parah tell us that there are certain decisions and processes which are best left to God to decree and define, and that we humans interfere with them at our peril. This may be the reason that even though the commandment of the Red Cow appears in Parashat Chukkat (Numbers 19), long after Parashat Sh’mini, God actually commanded it at the time when the Mishkan was erected, very shortly before Nadab and Abihu died (see Gittin 60a-b and Yerushalmi Megillah 3:5).

Nadab and Abihu should have understood from the mitzvah of the Red Cow that their limited human understanding did not allow them to fathom God’s reasoning, and certainly not to interfere with what God had commanded.

For sure, enthusiasm and spontaneity, individualism and creativity, have their place in Judaism, in worship of God. But Parashat Parah teaches us that just as we cannot fathom the itzvoth with our limited human intellectual resources, we certainly cannot invent new itzvoth or new ways of fulfilling the itzvoth. And Parashat Sh’mini teaches us how tragic the results can be when individuals – even the greatest of individuals – try to do so.

Pessach the family holiday

I mentioned this last week that the Seder and Judaism be transferred to the next and following generation. “And you shall tell your son”: Is it the son only but also the daughters for the mother is the main transmitter of Judaism both with her presence to the young child but genetically transmitting Judaism from generation to generation. The pogroms and rapes over the centuries both in Europe and other countries only reinforced this idea. In fact one can see the very light Euro-Jews vs. the completely black Ethiopian mostly Caucasian noses and lips but dark skin color or the pure Chinese Jews of Kaifeng. 

I honestly cannot say that any one section of the Seder is more important than another. For me the beginning stating that “This is what HASHEM did for me when HE took me out of Egypt.” I have never been to Mitzrayim unless you contend that in the IDF when I served in Sharm-El-Sheik. It is an easier read for me this year when I will read “This year we are in Gallus and next year in the land of Yisrael”. When one sits in Eretz Yisrael he has to realize that the Moshiach as not yet come.

Especially potent for me is “In every generation there arises those that would destroy us”. This past Motzei Shabbos 4 resolutions were passed in Geneva condemning Yisrael by the UN. Out of the 192 members nothing was written about ISIS, Syria, Libya, Lebanon etc. However the main section from being a wandering person from Aram and the DIYENU praise song and the retelling of the 10 plagues that is the heart of the Seder. We know one thing today with modern communications that we did not know years ago. Everybody knew of the holocaust including newspaper owned by Jews called The New York Times but the silence was horrendous as they wanted to be assimilated. We have seen genocide after the war by starvation in Biafra, by people in Rwanda and Darfur Sudan but nobody comes to help and that the last one occurred with a Black President in the USA. OUR ONLY HELP IS THAT HAKADOSH BARUCH HU WILL SAVE US FROM THEM! 

What happens if the story teller of the Haggada does not feel that it was he who left Egypt or he even questions something about the departure from Egypt? It is still better than my first 9 years in a total assimilated vacuum. The only difference between me and the local clan of Goyishe Kids was that I was beaten up often by them and our windows broken a few times by the kids. I was too young to know why or for my parents to let me know the awful truth. One the other hand, growing up with them I heard the Jew jokes and the anti-Semitic remarks ‘no offence to you as you are one of us but…’ or even being mistaken as a non-Jew because of my family name. What went for me was worse for other assimilated Jews 7 years or less before I was born when the actions went back five or six generations and practicing Christians from Jewish Blood were rounded up.

The Mitzvah of the day is to conduct a Seder and say something in one’s own words even if it is just a husband and wife and they are old and wise. When one eats the egg it is as if one was eating the Korban Chaggiga and the Afikoman as if one was served the Korban Pessach. Singing the songs is good for the young ones and gives them points of interest. In fact I had a singing competition between my tune and my son-in-law grandchildren’s tune. I usually sing in an operatic voice and volume. It was last year at Adir Hu song that after the second or third “KAIL BINEY” that their volume was high enough to compete for volume as they are usually reticent and quiet like their father. I was happy that they had fought for their custom as it will continue on in the generation of their children.

Last but not least is my non-religious friends from work who do not abandon the Seder despite their normal state of behavior. The stable is Matzos and the Seder is said. In the course of my life, I have gone from the son who was so far removed that he did not know what a Seder was to the Chacham. It is more pleasant at this end of the Seder Table than the lack there over. Yet the Seder is not a Seder without a child in the family that does not know how to ask. The Lubavitcher Rebbe went further and included the Rasha who says “What is the Avoda for you?” He is still better off than I was as a young child because he still sits at the Seder perhaps eating bread on purpose at some Kibbutz or movement but that still is his Seder. If there are not somewhere all the four sons existing in Am Yisrael it is far worse than not having the Rasha at the table.

Chag Kosher V’ Samayach! 

From Keren to Rabbi A. L. The next through stories up to Rita Getty come from them:
 Shabbos Stories for Yom tov Pessach 5775 Volume 6, Issue 30     15 Nissan 5775/ April 4, 2015
Printed L’illuy nishmas Nechama bas R’ Noach, A”H

A Seder without Wine By Nissan Mindel
Published and copyrighted By Kehot Publication Society

A Seder without wine? How can it be? You ask. Everybody knows we have to drink four cups of wine at the Seder, in remembrance of the four stages of liberation from Egyptian bondage.
Indeed, so important are these four cups of wine that we make a blessing on each of them, while on the first cup of wine we make the Kiddush.
A Seder without wine is almost unthinkable! Yet, it happened once upon a time when a whole Jewish community had to make the Seder without wine. This is what our story is about.
It happened many years ago, in a land ruled by a king who was not unfriendly to the Jews. Indeed, one of his best friends was the rabbi of the community, whom the king admired for his wisdom and learning, kindness and humility, a combination of virtues he did not find among his courtiers. The king just loved to spend time with the rabbi, discussing matters of importance. And when the king had any problem, he asked the rabbi’s advice, and he never had any cause for regret.
Everything would have been well, except that the king had a prime minister who was no friend of the Jews, and who was especially jealous of the friendship the king showed to the rabbi.
One day the prime minister asked the king why he was showing such friendship to the rabbi. “Why not?” replied the king. “I admire his wisdom and learning; there is nothing but kindness and fear of G‑d in his heart, and he is most loyal to me and wishes me well. He certainly deserves my friendship!”

Denigrates the Rabbi to the King

“What if I proved to Your Majesty that the rabbi is not all that he pretends to be, and that behind Your Majesty’s back he will not hesitate to break your laws, and speak unkindly of Your Majesty?”
“I doubt very much if you can prove any such thing,” replied the king confidently. “But if you do, I will know how to deal with him. On the other hand, if you fail to prove your reckless accusation, I will know how to deal with you. And so, my dear Prime Minister, how do you propose to prove your accusation?”
“The day after tomorrow, the Jews will begin celebrating their Passover festival. On the first two nights of the festival they have a special feast, a ‘Seder,’ they call it, when they drink four cups of wine. So important is wine for their Seder that a Jew will gladly sell his last shirt to be able to have wine for the Seder.
“Now, I suggest, Your Majesty, that you command the rabbi to tell the Jews that no one, not even the rabbi himself, shall drink any wine at the Seder. Then you will see if the rabbi and the other Jews carry out your order, and what they say about Your Majesty.”
“And how are we going to find this out?” asked the king.

The Seder at the Jewish Guest House

“I know that before the rabbi sits down to his own Seder table, he visits the Jewish guest house, where a public Seder is arranged for the poor and homeless wandering Jews who happen to be in town. If we disguise ourselves, it will be easy for us to join the crowd and witness the Seder.”
“So be it,” the king agreed. “But I warn you: you are playing with your head!”
“It’s my head against the rabbi’s head,” the prime minister challenged.
The following day the king sent for the rabbi, and when he appeared, the king said to him: “I command you to tell the Jews that no one, not even you, my friend, shall drink any wine at the Seder on penalty of death!”
The rabbi was surprised and saddened, but he answered dutifully: “Your Majesty’s command shall be obeyed.”
True to his word, the rabbi sent out word to all the Jews in the city: “By order of the king, Jews are forbidden to drink wine at the Seder. But except for that, the Seder should be celebrated in the usual way, and with the usual joy and inspiration. And each time, when the Haggadah calls for the drinking of a cup of wine, an empty cup should be lifted, and the following prayer recited:

A Revised Blessing For the Empty Wine Cup

“‘Master of the World! It is revealed and known to you that we sincerely desire to do Your Will, but His Majesty the King forbade us to drink wine tonight on penalty of death. Since, according to Your holy Torah, the saving of life puts aside the mitzvah of the four cups, we pray for Your forgiveness for not drinking wine tonight.’”
In the guest house, the table was set for the Seder. For each place setting there was a Seder plate, with matzah, bitter herbs and the other required items; there were spotless wine glasses and cups, and bottles filled with red wine.
Soon the room was filled with celebrants, who seated themselves around the table. Among them were two strangers, dressed as poorly as the rest; but since all were strangers, no one paid any particular attention to them. Certainly it did not occur to anyone that those two were none other than the king and his prime minister.
Presently the rabbi came, and all rose respectfully in his honor. He seated himself at the head of the table and greeted everyone with a hearty “Good Yom Tov.”

The Kaddesh at the Start of the Seder

The first item of the Seder was, of course, Kaddesh: to make Kiddush on the first of the four cups of wine. The rabbi reminded all the guests of the king’s decree. He bade them to rise and lift up empty wine glasses and recite after him the prayer he had composed for this occasion: “Master of the World,” etc.
Everyone faithfully followed the rabbi’s instructions, and the wine bottles were left untouched. Otherwise, the Seder proceeded as joyously and inspiringly as ever.
The king and his prime minister sat through the entire Seder and heard the same prayer repeated four times. Everyone, including the king, enjoyed the Seder meal; only one person sat there like a bereaved man among bridegrooms—the unhappy prime minister.
When the Seder was over, the king and his prime minister left the guest house together. Before parting at the gate of the palace, the king told his prime minister to be sure to appear before him the following day in mid-afternoon.
The following morning, the king sent a messenger to the rabbi to summon him to appear before the king in mid-afternoon. At the appointed time the rabbi and the prime minister met at the gate of the palace, and both were ushered in before the king.

The King Confides in the Rabbi

Turning to the rabbi, the king said: “Unknown to you, worthy Rabbi, I and my prime minister were your guests at the Seder last night. We were disguised, of course, and we came to see with our own eyes if you would obey my order. The foolish prime minister had staked his head, assuring me that you would not.
“I am happy that you did faithfully carry out my order, though I sincerely regret having caused you and all the Jews unnecessary heartache by interfering with your sacred Seder celebration. But the prime minister shall pay for his folly. I place him in your hands: choose any kind of death for him, and it shall be done!”
“Your Majesty,” the rabbi replied, “ever since we lost our Sanctuary in Jerusalem, no rabbinic court is authorized to pronounce a death sentence on anyone.”
“In that case,” said the king, “I shall pronounce his death sentence: he shall be hanged publicly forthwith!”
Then the king told the rabbi that the decree prohibiting wine drinking was lifted, and the rabbi could now make it known to all Jews that they could again drink all the wine they wanted.
The happy news quickly spread among the Jews and was received with great jubilation. The second Seder was celebrated with extraordinary joy and deep gratitude to the Almighty, in celebration not only of the miracles and wonders of the liberation from Egypt, but also of the miracle that happened to them in getting rid of a cruel enemy.
It was the happiest Passover that they had ever celebrated. Reprinted from the website of Chabad.Org

The Sweetest Matzos ever by Rebecca Rubinstein

A few weeks before Passover, a handful of Jewish prisoners in a Soviet labor camp in Siberia decided they wanted to celebrate the upcoming Jewish festival.

Michael Stravinsky had been chosen as their representative to request flour for baking matzahs from Vladimir Petrov, the Russian officer in charge.
The Jewish inmates knew that they might be severely punished for asking such a request. But they also knew that the mere thought of eating matzah on Passover night along with Jews all over the world would be their greatest taste of freedom.
Michael had been accused of treason and passing on Soviet State secrets to Israel. He had been sentenced to 25 years of exile in Siberia to work in a forced labor camp. He was separated from his family and friends and was allowed contact with his loved ones only once a year for two hours.
His real crime was teaching Jewish History and Hebrew to a packed room of young Jews, hungry for some knowledge to connect them to their people.
Michael, the group's spokesman, approached the Russian camp administrator with their written petition for baking matzahs. With a smirk on his face, Petrov said, "I will forward your request to KGB headquarters, and we will act according to their instructions."
Days passed, and there was no reply from Moscow. Some of the group were convinced that they had made a grave mistake by signing the petition, and they would be singled out for even worse treatment.
Passover was only a few days away and still no reply from Moscow. All of the group with the exception of Michael had given up hope and were nervously awaiting the repercussions.
As Michael was busy repairing equipment in the labor camp, the prison guard called out, "Stravinsky, you are to go immediately to administration building." With his heart in his stomach, knowing full well what this summons could mean, Michael did as told.
Fully expecting the worst punishment of all -- confinement to the eight-foot-square punishment cell for the whole of the Passover week -- Michael knocked on the door.
Inside, he confronted Petrov, who, without ceremony, handed him a piece of paper. "Your request for matzah has been granted," Petrov announced, adding, "We are as surprised as you Stravinsky. I will command the officers to give you and your group the bricks to build your oven. The flour ration will be deducted from your food ration for the next 7 days."
The building of the oven began with feverish haste for fear of a reversal of orders. Matzahs were baked from the meager rations of flour. The group had now been joined by other Jewish inmates who were astounded at the thought of eating matzahs on Passover. For some of them, this would be their first Passover celebration.
Even though the shapeless, burnt matzahs they baked were nothing like the matzahs they had once received in smuggled packages from Israel, to the Jewish prisoners these matzahs were the sweetest taste of freedom.
Seder night arrived and a place for the Seder was secretly arranged in a corner of the labor camp between two huts. They used a plank of wood for a table and placed their blankets on the ground to lean on. An old, dented broken pot was used to represent the traditional Seder plate. There was no roasted shank bone, no egg, no charoset, no maror, only a boiled potato one of the Jewish prisoners had saved from lunch.
Heading the Seder, Michael began to sing the only Seder tune he knew, and tears of joy trickled down his cheeks. Mah Nishtana Halaila Hazeh Mikol Haleilot? "Why is this night different from all other nights?"
Michael knew why this night was different and he would remember this night for the rest of his life. At that moment, on the night of Passover, this group of wretched Jewish prisoners shivering in the dark around their symbolic Seder table felt like G-d had redeemed them and made them free men.

Passover, the festival of freedom, connects us to our yearnings for personal liberation from our self-imposed limitations. It reminds us that as a nation we have saved by God from our oppressors, time and time again. By celebrating the festival, we unite with the Jewish people not only in the present, but also in our past, creating a sense of unity and connection with Jews of all time.
Under Communist rule, Jews behind the Iron Curtain were forbidden to study, teach or practice their Judaism in any way. If they were caught, they were interrogated by the KGB and often thrown in prison for long terms on false charges or espionage, treason and illegal gatherings.
But no one can extinguish the spark in each Jew. The Communist Regime tried to strip the Jew of his Jewish identity, but it had the opposite effect. Jews behind the Iron Curtain were willing to risk their lives in order to learn and practice Jewish tradition.
On the night of Passover, as the Jewish inmates of the Siberian camp ate their matzah, they experienced a moment of true inner freedom. Clinging to a ritual practiced by Jews for more than 3,000 years fuelled their inner flame to survive their ordeal in a Jewish way, to feel connected to the Jewish people, and to believe that G-d would save them.
Reprinted from the website of

The Rebbe’s Passover Punishment By Menachem Posner

It was Passover eve of 1910. In the town of Lubavitch, every Jewish home was freshly scrubbed. The tables were bedecked with threadbare but meticulously cleaned white linen, surrounded by families about to begin their Sedercelebrations.
But before Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn could begin his own Seder, he first took a detour to visit the yeshivah, Tomchei Temimim, where he served as dean. (He would later become the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe.)
There, he was pleased to find the large study hall lit up with a sea of candles. Dozens of tables filled the room. Each table had eleven settings, for ten younger students and one senior student, who would serve as amemuneh, the overseer and guide who would take the place of their fathers, many of whom were hundreds of miles away.
Each student’s place was set with a kaarah, a ceremonial tray holding bitter herbs, a bone, an egg, a bit of vegetable and the special sweet mixture known as charoset, all arrayed on a kerchief that covered three hand-baked matzahs.
Two of the matzahs were made from flour that had been zealously guarded against contact with water from the time of the grinding. The third matzah—the one to be used for the very first bite of matzah over which the special blessing is said—was made from wheat that had been under close watch from the time of harvest. Both types were considered shmurah matzah, guarded from water, but the difficulty involved in watching the wheat from the time of harvest made the second kind prohibitively expensive and a highly prized commodity.
While all Passover matzahs are made from only flour and water, the two kinds of matzah were made from different grades of grain and were easily distinguishable.
As the Rebbe strode through the hall, he took his time delighting over the students’ shining faces, the meticulously prepared settings, the care that had been put into ensuring that every speck of leaven had been cleaned from the premises, and the festive atmosphere that filled the room.
Suddenly, he stopped.
Turning to one of the tables, he lifted the kerchief covering the matzahs of thememunah, a 16-year-old boy named Yochanan Gordon. Lo and behold, he discovered three coveted shmurah matzahs, guarded from the moment of harvest, instead of just one.
“Hay lach minayin?” demanded the Rebbe, using a Talmudic expression that literally translates as “From where do you have this?”
Yochanan managed to mutter, “A memuneh git zich an eitzah,” “A memunah figures things out.”
“For this,” the Rebbe replied, “you’ll go without midday meal tomorrow.”
The following day after prayers, Yochanan steered clear of the dining hall. He knew that there was no food for him there, and besides, he was in no mood to socialize.
Instead, he chose to still his hunger pains by walking along the river, which ran through the town and served as the local mikvah, swimming pool and laundromat.
As he strolled along, he suddenly heard his name being called out.
Turning around, he saw his friends, Shlomo Chaim Kesselman and Peretz Mochkin, running along the riverbank.
“Yochanan!” they called. “Here you are! We’ve been looking everywhere. The dean knew you’d have no place to eat today and sent us to find you. He wants you to join him at home for the holiday meal.”
By the time Yochanan arrived, the meal had already been finished. But he gained something more than a full belly. He learned that Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak truly cared about each and every student; even those who were punished deserved a warm holiday meal.

Nowadays, when it is relatively easy to obtain shmurah matzah made with flour that has been watched since the time of harvest, it is preferable to do so for the Seder. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 453:19.) Reprinted from last week’s email of Chabad.Org Magazine

An insight from Rita Getty

Asking for forgiveness and the act of being forgiven comes on three levels.
1)    Physical awareness – asking on a physical level for forgiveness and a logical level.
2)    Emotional – being forgiven or not forgiven on an emotional level for sometimes the hurt goes deeper
3)    Soul or Neshama level – complete or incomplete forgiveness in this world and the next.

This was so cute from Chaim O. a Seder Machine sort of:

Inyanay Diyoma

I warned about this trend of Netanyahu that people vote right and he goes left more proof:

Finally the Arabs stopped depending on uncle Sam to save them and are taking matters in their own hands:

The Pentagon released a 386 page ISRAEL 'top secret' document that details ISRAEL's NUCLEAR program and capabilities. Do not delude yourself for even a moment
into concluding that HERR Obama OSAMA -the most ANTI SEMITIC-ANTI ISRAEL US Pres. in history did not approve of this egregious despicable action against the US' most loyal steadfast ALLY. Like a little boy, the narcissistic egomaniacal 'Hollywood' president is still NOT willing to accept PM Netanyahu's landslide victory in
ISRAEL elections last week.
With the constant threat and peril of the NUCLEAR Iran looming against ISRAEL, America, and the world, it is absolutely unbelievable that HERR Obama would continue to throw ISRAEL under the bus and treat her like an enemy-nation and pariah, isn't it?                                                                                                                                                            ANSWER
NEVER AGAIN NEVER FORGET Administration Declassifies Top-Secret Doc That Reveals Israel’s Nuclear Secrets - Breitbart
The Pentagon has declassified a document that was once labeled “top-secret,” which goes into sophisticated detail about Israel’s nuclear weapons program. The document...

Did you think that Netanyahu would collect the electrical bills from the PLO? Can you believe this man any more?

Netanyahu to try to form a unity government after he gets Shass on board.

Ed-Op after Ben Dror (center left) criticized the leftist media now Chanoch Daum (center-right) does the same:,7340,L-4641858,00.html The Israeli media represents liberalism. It represents the left. For this reason it attacked Eli Yishai's party with bared teeth, as it explained why Baruch Marzel is not legitimate. Hanin Zoabi, however, a woman who refuses to brand the murderers of three boys as terrorists, gets a warm welcome. Naftali Bennett was asked in every interview about civil marriage, but none dared shatter Ayman Odeh's equilibrium.

Honor is due the IDF medical and air evacuation for learning its lessons and saving lives:,7340,L-4642146,00.html

Rabbi Riskin Shlita speaks up on who is like Haman today:

Iran threatens wiping Israel off the map “In every generation there stands against us to destroy us and THE HOLY ONE BLESSED BE HE saves us from their hands”.

US Rabbi formerly silent calls for Jews to stand up against Obama’s bias:

63,000 poor families need food for the Seder and with no governmental help the charities may fall short of their usual help:

IDF assessment of the next Lebanese War will not be pleasant 1200 rockets a day!,7340,L-4643066,00.html

Chag Kosher V’ Samayach to all and a wonderful Shabbos and Chol HaMoed,
Rachamim Pauli