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21 April 2024

Two Presentations by Eliezer Katzoff

Bomb Shelters in Israel



As has been all over the news, last week Israel was directly attacked by Iran with a barrage of drones and missiles. And once again Israelis spent the night in the various bomb shelters that exist all over the place in the country. But what do all these shelters look like?


That's what I explore in the video above.


And, in the course of doing this, I sat down for one of the most intriguing interviews I've conducted in Israel with Colonel (Ret.) Miri Eisin.

Mind you, I conducted this interview the very next morning after the Iranian attack and everyone was pretty exhausted. But her observations about the situation here, in the US, and in general are truly insightful. Unfortunately I couldn't fit most of it into the short video above. So I've decided to attach the bulk of the interview here below in long form. Please enjoy and share.

 Full interview with Colonel (Ret.) Miri Eisin, April 14th

This long form (full interview) with Colonel (Ret.) Miri Eisin conducted on April 14th directly after the Iran attack on Israel explores topics ranging from shelters in Israel to payloads of the ballistic capabilities of Iran and others in the region. It is an almost uncut information heavy interview with a true expert in the field.

This blog IY"H will resume daily/weekly after Pesach

Yehonatan Pollard (2) – Unmasking the Reality and Can the Netanyahu Octopus Beat Iran?

Unmasking the Reality Around Us with Jonathan Pollard 

 Jonathan Pollard: Can the Netanyahu Octopus Beat Iran?


Reb Ginsbourg – Metzora: The one to whom the house belongs


A collection of commentaries on tsaraat of a house. The Alsheich Hakadosh says: This affliction should be considered by us, as a gift from Hashem. Why?

We read in our Parasha, of the wondrous occurrence of the house afflicted with tzaraat. The Torah relates:(14:33-35) ’Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aaron, saying:When you arrive in the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I will place a tzaraat affliction upon a house in the land of your possession ; the one to whom the house belongs shall come and declare to the Kohen, saying: Something like an affliction has appeared to me in the house.’

The Torah then describes the steps by which the house is treated ,as regards this affliction, till the ultimate step - should it be so adjudged - of the destruction of the afflicted house

If, on the other hand, it is determined that the affliction has not spread, and rendered the house afflicted, then (14:48)’’The Kohen shall declare the house to be pure, for the affliction has healed.’

Our Sages wonder:’What was the transgression of the land, that it should be afflicted?’; and answer:’ Rather, it is for the transgressions of men that the land is afflicted..Why do afflictions come to be? So that the people should see, and say that those who transgressed are afflicted, but those who did not sin, are not.

‘Why then, are the sticks and stones of the house afflicted? So that the owners of the houses should see, and do teshuva.

‘Therefore Hashem warns them, first by afflicting their houses, so that they should repent, aa we read:’And I will place a tzaraat affliction upon a house in the land of your possession.’

Our Sages add:’It is hard in Hashem’s Eyes to afflict the body of the person, so what does He do? He warns him first, as it says:’I will place a tzaraat affliction upon a house..’- He first afflicts the person’s house, and if he repents, well and good; if not, He afflicts his clothing, as the Torah relates; if he repents, well and good - but if not, the affliction is on the body of the person, as we read (13:2).’

Here we ask: What is the transgression that was punished measure-for- measure, by the house being afflicted, and - in the event that the transgressor has not repented - destroyed?

Answer our Sages:(Yoma 11:)’ What does the word לו: ‘to whom the house belongs’, come to teach, in our pasuk? - the one who keeps his house only for himself, or who does not want to lend his utensils to others, falsely saying that he does not have them; Hashem makes this known, as the affliction requires him to remove all his utensils out of his house, where all can see that he had them.

Our Sages add:( Arachin 16. ): ‘the house is afflicted because of צרות עין: ‘narrow-eyes’, which causes the person not to lend his utensils to others’.

Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein elucidates, first asking:’What was the query of the Sages, as to the word לו, as this appears to be the common usage of that word?’.

He expounds:’ Their query was that it should have merely said:’and came the owner of the house’, as we find in several other places in the Torah; the word לו alludes to one who thinks that what he has, is his forever.

‘The Torah, in choosing to use this word, tells us that this person too, thinks that his house and his utensils will remain his forever - and therefore will not lend his utensils to others, being unconcerned that he may, at some future time, have to borrow from others, too.

‘He forgets, that nothing is really ‘ours’ in this world, as ‘the wheel turns’ (Shabbat 151:).

The Breshover Rebbe brings a relevant Midrash:’Hashem takes out His anger at that person, who and how? A person asks another: Lend me a measure of wheat, and he replies: I don’t have any’ when he has, but does not want to lend to others, ‘what does Hashem do? He brings the affliction on that person’s house, and when he then is compelled to empty its contents into the street, all can see, and say: See how much wheat he has! Therefore Moshe Rabbeinu warned the people: ‘When you arrive in the land of Canaan..’’.

Expounds the Rebbe:’We learn from this, that the tzaraat afflicts houses because of the miserliness of people.

‘This in fact is why Shlomo Hamelech adjures the people: Do not bring upon yourself bad, so that you will not be afflicted: if you ensure that the ailment of miserliness does not take hold in you, but instead strengthen the measure of generosity, affliction will not come to your home.

‘This is the literal meaning of our psukim: ‘When you come to the land which (truly) I give to you as a possession ( and how, then, will you dare to be miserly, and not bring into it guests, or not loan utensils, and the like! ), and I will give the affliction of tzaraat on your house’: if you should think that it is ‘your land’, because of your actions and merits, then ‘I will bring the affliction..’, to reveal your shame - this is why Moshe issued this warning to the people.’

Rav Moshe Sternbuch adds:’ The Torah in its choice of words, comes to correct those who put their trust in their own abilities and wealth, believing that it is theirs forever: their possessions - their honor, and their house - their castle.

‘This is ‘the one to whom the house belongs’, as, in his mind, it is his private domain, and he therefore does not open its doors to those seeking his aid.

‘He will not learn nor understand mussar until the tzaraat afflicts his house, and he has to tell the Kohen, that ‘something like an affliction has appeared to me in THE house’, as he will come to understand that it the house is not ‘his’ house, and that the trust that he placed in his possessions was in vain.

‘This, alas, he will only come to realize, initially, when the Kohen commands that ‘they shall clear the house’, and, finally, when ‘he shall demolish the house’, and all its contents are revealed to all, so that it is made known that, ‘to Hashem is all the silver, and all the gold’, and he entrusted the wealth as a deposit to man, so that he should help those less fortunate and aid the poor.’

Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer notes that our Sages also see it as punishment for another transgression: for the sin of גסות רוח: haughtiness.

Expounds the Rav:’Haughtiness is likely to cause the person, when he has a nice home of his own, and his livelihood is assured, and he is feeling well satisfied with his lot, to then - as the Torah warns - (Eikev 8:14-18):,’And your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your G-d, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt..and you will say to yourself:’My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me. But you must remember the Lord your G-d, for it is He that gives you strength to make wealth..’.

‘The message of these words: When it is good, and the person does not take into account that all that ‘he has’, is not due of his wisdom or to his acumen - but is solely a gift from Above - he is likely to come to the situation of:’And Yeshurun became fat and rebelled..forsook the G-d Who made them’ ( Haazinu 32:14 ).

‘The Torah comes here to warn all who have merited to settle in the land, and to become established in it, and to instructs him how to appreciate this gift.

‘This is why the pasuk is in, as it were, two halves: the first half teaches those who come to the land: ארץ כנען: that it should be בהכנעה: with submission, and requires that they should act humbly, as the land is a gift from Hashem.

‘The second part is concerned with one who does not appreciate the gift, but considers that all is due to his efforts and merits, and warns him: If you should think that it is אחוזתכם: your possession, and forget that it is a gift from Hashem, then the affliction of tzaraat will strike you, and you will be forced to demolish ‘your’house.’

The Kli Yakar also expounds that this affliction of the house, is because of צרעת עין, as our Sages deduced from the words ‘the one to whom the house belongs’ - one who does not share it, or use it to benefit others, only himself.

‘It is to test the person, that Hashem gives him wealth and a house full of all good, to see if he will use it to benefit others, as well - as, in truth, all belongs to Hashem, and all that a person gives to others, is not his that he gives, but from the Table Above, from where it comes.

‘This is why the Torah says:’When you arrive in the land.,that I give you as a possession’: there is no basis for a mean-eyed person to say:’My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me’, because it is Hashem who has given him the strength and accumulation.

‘It is therefore only right that he should share ‘his’ with the poor, and, should he be amongst the narrow-minded who ascribe their wealth to themselves, then ‘I will place a tzaraat affliction upon’ your house, and - the Torah adds, immediately - ‘’the one to whom the house belongs’, who believes that his might was the cause of his ‘success’, will learn the truth.’

The Alshich Hakadosh, noting that the Torah refers to the affliction of tzaraat on houses as ונתתי:’And I will give’, comments: ‘This affliction should be considered by us, as a gift from Hashem, because, our Merciful Father, when his son transgresses, instead of afflicting his body, afflicts his house, to cause him to repent.

‘This is why the Torah says:’I will give to you this affliction of tzaraat’, to allude to it being a gift, as, by the measure of strict judgement, you should have been afflicted on your bodies.

‘To emphasize this chessed, let us note that, in the same pasuk, we also read:’the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession’, teaching that, just as the land is a gift, so too, the affliction of tzaraat on your house.

‘If you ask, why were the houses of the impure Canaanites in the land not afflicted previously by tzaraat, the answer is: why should the holy land be afflicted for the transgressions of people who were wholly impure from birth; only when Bnei Israel, the sanctified people, entered it as their possession, will their misdeeds be seen in this manner, because they have an intrinsic connection to this land, and the land, by being afflicted in this manner will be an atonement for them.’

A parting gem from the Noda B’Yehuda:’We read (14:45):’He shall demolish the house - its stones, its timber, and all the mortar of the house; they shall take it outside of the city, to a contaminated place’: We know that every מחלוקת: division leads to destruction, whereas peace builds, as it is the joinder of the parts together.

‘Therefore, the metzora, the one who by his lashon ha’ra causes division, his punishment is that this affliction comes upon his house, which is destroyed by taking apart its sticks and stones.’

18 April 2024



I did not expect to send out another mailing before Pesach, but a Great Miracle has occurred.
I must admit my shortcomings. I did not understand what happened last Motzae Shabbos. Yes, I heard the booms and sirens. Yes, I sat in the bomb shelter and said Tehillim.
But I did not understand. When my wife showed me a news article showing the miracle I became upset, because I do not like to look at the news. Then my wife asked me to listen to a shiur from Rabbi Berel Wein Shlita”h, which opened my eyes.
My friends, a miracle has occurred in front of the entire world.
During Pesach we recall the miracles which occurred in MitzraimPesach is the prototype redemption, the model for the Great Redemption.
Now I am beginning to understand what happened last Motzae Shabbos: Iran and its allies tried to destroy Israel. Hundreds of explosive drones and ballistic missiles were launched directly against Israel.
They failed!
“Yishmoel would take a bow and arrow and shoot them in Yitzchak’s direction while pretending to be playing.” (Midrash Rabbah on Beraishis 21:9) Yishmoel pretends to be innocent, but he is playing a game called “murder.” The Torah predicts the actions of Yishmo-el’s descendants, today’s Arabs, who shoot missiles and bombs, attempting to destroy us.
Throughout history, Hashem has saved His Children. Last Motzae Shabbos Hashem made a great miracle. Yes, United States, British, Saudi Arabian, UAE and Jordanian forces were involved, along with the Israeli air force. But that only adds to the miracle, for why on earth would all these enemies be on our side to save us, even to the extent of allowing the Israeli air force to use their airspace? Miracle upon miracle!
How is it that hundreds of deadly projectiles were launched toward Israel and almost none entered it? From those few which did enter, almost no damage was caused and no Jews were injured!
The possuk says, “[Hashem] threw Pharaoh’s chariots and army into the sea.”
Hashem literally hurled their missiles into the sea, for I have seen pictures of the Israeli Army removing a huge ballistic missile which fell into the Dead Sea!
Why are we not jumping with joy and gratitude at the massive miracles which Hashem made for us? Please note the following message which just came in from Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita”h“Regarding the miraculous failure of the Iranian attack, Rav Sternbuch said that he does not understand why the tzibbur has not been more motivated to change as a result of those events.”
Rabbi Wein explained something I had never heard before, namely that the Burning Bush had been seen by many people before Moshe Rabbeinu, but they ignored it. Only Moshe Rabbeinu stopped, looked, contemplated and was transformed by the realization that this was the Hand of G-d!
Don’t walk past the Burning Bush!
We are the bush and we are alive today! Why is the bush not being consumed by the fire?
The fire is Hashem’s Torah!
Only that fire can save us from the fire that rages around us!
Even the most powerful army cannot protect us from the hatred of our billions of enemies with their deadly weapons. But the Hand of Hashem can protect us, does protect us and did protect us last Motzae Shabbos.
“The might and vengeance of Hashem was salvation for me. This is my G-d and I will build Him a Sanctuary, the G-d of my father and I will exalt him. Hashem is Master of War. His Name is Hashem. He threw Pharaoh’s chariots and army into the sea …. Deep waters covered them….” (Shemos 15:2ff)
“Ain od milvado … there is nothing else” but Hashem and Torah.
Thank you, Hashem! May we be worthy of Your salvation!
May these indeed be the Days of our Redemption! 

Rabbi Berel Wein (Tsemach Glenn Photo)

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch (Tsemach Glenn Photo)

The Red Sea

"48 Ways to Shalom Bayis"
by Roy Neuberger
is available through Amazon.com. 
To order please click on this link:

48 Ways to Shalom Bayis: Roy S. Neuberger


Rabbi Wein – Metzora

 This week's parsha is truly one of the most difficult subjects for people in our time to contemplate, understand or from which to gain knowledge and inspiration. The entire subject of these mysterious diseases, which manifested themselves on the human body, in clothing and even in houses and buildings is technically discussed in the Mishna and also in various places in the Talmud itself. However, the fact that the subject is discussed does not really reveal the underlying pathology of these diseases nor does it help explain it to us in a purely rational fashion.

We are all aware that the Talmud connects the disease to the sin of slandering others and improper speech. Nevertheless, the mystery of the cause, diagnosis and cure for the condition remains a troubling and hidden matter. It is beyond my ability to add any new insights into this age old discussion by the great scholars of Israel. I think, though, that we simply have to accept that there are physical diseases that manifest themselves because of spiritual failings, whatever those failings may be and however they are interpreted.
We are all aware that there are psychosomatic diseases that can and often do become actually physical. Medical science has not yet been able to determine why such phenomena occur. Well, just as there are, so to speak, mentally caused diseases, the Torah informs us that there are also spiritually caused diseases that actually effect one's body, clothing and even one's home. There are many events and occurrences in life, both personal and national, that defy logic or any form of human understanding.
The Torah does indicate to us the areas of our lives where our human vulnerabilities exist and are apparent. Certainly our bodies, our health, our appearance and our general physical well-being rank as some of the most vulnerable of all human conditions. Our bodies are so delicately formed and perfectly balanced that even the slightest malfunction of any of its parts immediately causes pain and requires our attention.
The Torah expands this idea to include spiritual imbalances and shortcomings. We are usually never conscious of these matters and if, in fact, they are pointed out to us by others, the usual reaction is one of resentment. So, through the mechanism of physical symptoms as described in this week's parsha, the Torah reminds us that we need to examine and purify ourselves spiritually and not merely physically.
Our bodies, our clothing, even our dwelling places require inspection and sanctification. Even though the physical manifestations of these shortcomings are no longer apparent in our time, the underlying lesson is still present in all of our actions and attitudes.
The realization that we can be woefully deficient in behavior, unless we are constantly monitoring our relationship to our unique value system, is essential for living a truly Jewish and observant life. We are responsible for discerning those weaknesses within us even if they are not physically apparent. Perhaps this is the message to us from this week's parsha.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

Mayim Achronim – Mysteries of the Haggadah

 Mysteries of the Haggadah

The Passover Haggadah is one of the most ancient compilations of Jewish text. Its core goes back to the Mishnaic era (1st-2nd Century CE), and it came to its final version, more or less as we know it today, about 1000 years ago. The Sages filled the Haggadah with profound secrets and mysteries, giving people both young and old much to meditate and reflect on. In fact, we read in the Haggadah at the very beginning that although “we are all wise, discerning, sage, and knowledgeable in Torah”, it is still a mitzvah for each person to plunge into the Exodus story and uncover its secrets, and to share one’s thoughts and interpretations with others. Not surprisingly, the Sages embedded many such secrets and mysteries in the Haggadah itself. A small sample of them are presented below.

The Sefirot of Mochin above (in blue) and the Sefirot of the Middot below (in red) on the mystical “Tree of Life”.

The statement that we are all wise [chakhamim], discerning [nevonim], and knowledgeable [yodi’im], is a clear allusion to the upper three Sefirot of Chokhmah, Binah, and Da’at. The same verse also says we are all zkenim, literally “elders”, which is strange because obviously not everyone around the seder table is an elder! What does this really mean? We must remember that Da’at is only the inverse and the application of the highest Sefirah, Keter. There are, in fact, four mental faculties: Keter, Chokhmah, Binah, and Da’at, or willpower, information, understanding, and applied knowledge, respectively. (The Arizal actually teaches that these four are the reason the head tefillin has four compartments!) Now we can understand the purpose of inserting zkenim in the Haggadah: The highest Keter reflects the “face” of G–D known as Atik Yomin, the “Ancient of Days” (a term that comes from Daniel 7:22). This is the “elder” zaken in the Haggadah’s phrasing. All four mental faculties are stimulated at the seder, just as the tefillin stimulates all four.

The Haggadah continues by saying it is a mitzvah for us to lesaper, speak at length about the Exodus. Speech corresponds to the bottom of the Sefirot, Malkhut. And what of the six Sefirot in the middle? The Haggadah goes on to tell us that Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon were all celebrating Pesach together one year. The teachings of these Mishnaic sages formed the core of the Haggadah text itself. They can be said to correspond to the six middle Sefirot (which are collectively called Zeir Anpin, and parallel the realm of Yetzirah, literally “formation”). You might ask: but wait, that’s only five rabbis—where is the sixth? The Haggadah itself answers: “Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah said to them: ‘Behold, I am like a man of seventy years, but I never merited to understand why the story of the Exodus is told at night until Ben Zoma expounded…’” The great Shimon ben Zoma is hiding here, too!

Recall that Ben Zoma is a contemporary and colleague of these wisemen, and even ascended up to the heavenly Pardes alongside Rabbi Akiva (Chagigah 14b). An amazing chiddush (that belongs to my wife) is that we can parallel the “Four Who Entered Pardes” with the Four Sons of the Haggadah: The wise one is undoubtedly Rabbi Akiva—the only one able to enter and exit Pardes in peace. The wicked one is, of course, Elisha ben Avuya who became the apostate Acher and traitorously joined the Romans. He totally separated himself from the Jewish community, so he said: “‘What is this service to you?’ To you and not to him.” The Passover service was no longer relevant to him. Hak’heh et shinav, Acher needed to have his teeth blunted! Then we have “the simple one” or “innocent” one, Ben Azzai, the bachelor who never married, and simply “gazed” at the Divine Presence only to immediately perish, his soul never returning back to Earth. Finally, the one who doesn’t know how to ask is Ben Zoma. Recall that upon his return from Pardes, Ben Zoma was thought to have gone “mad”, unable to converse with regular human beings or keep up a discussion with the Sages. Ben Zoma, quite literally, could no longer “ask”!

The Sages of the Haggadah were deeply contemplating the past redemption of Pesach, but also the future redemption of Mashiach. We find that much of the seder is centered around not ancient events, but forthcoming ones. This is, of course, evident from the concluding part of the seder with a wish for next year’s Pesach to be in a rebuilt Jerusalem, with a rebuilt Holy Temple, where we can properly bring a korban pesach. It is the deeper meaning behind reciting dam esh v’timrot ‘ashan, “blood, fire, and columns of smoke”—spilling a drop of wine for each—which actually comes from the prophet Joel’s vision of the End of Days (Joel 3:3). We are not talking here about the past miracles and plagues in Egypt, but the future signs and miracles that we await! The same goes for pouring a fifth cup for Eliyahu, with a prayer that Eliyahu returns speedily to usher in the Messianic Age. And this is the secret meaning behind those cryptic words we recite: sh’fokh hamatcha el hagoyim asher lo yeda’ukha! “Spill Your wrath upon the nations that don’t know you!” (Psalms 79:6)

Redemption & the War Against Rome

To fully understand the Haggadah, we have to keep in mind that its core was composed in the Mishnaic era, and the undisputed adversary and oppressor of the Jewish people at the time was the Roman Empire. In fact, Rabbi Akiva would end up being martyred at the hands of the Romans. And this connects to an incredible idea that has been proposed to explain that strange episode in the Haggadah where the five chief rabbis are getting together on Pesach. We must ask: why are the rabbis sitting together all night? Where are their families? The Torah commands that one must celebrate Pesach with family, and make sure to instruct one’s children and grandchildren. It seems here in the Haggadah that the five rabbis are alone, confined to a room until the morning when “their students came and said: the time for the morning Shema has arrived!” Even their own disciples were not with them at the seder. What’s going on?

We must remember that Rabbi Akiva’s generation lived at the time of the Bar Kochva Revolt. Rabbi Akiva himself supported Bar Kochva, and believed the latter to be the potential messiah of the generation:

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught: “My rabbi, Akiva, used to expound that ‘A star shall emerge out of Jacob…’ [Numbers 24] is Bar Koziva… when Rabbi Akiva would see Bar Koziva, he would say: ‘He is the King Messiah!’ Rabbi Yochanan ben Torta would say to him: ‘Akiva, grasses will grow out of your cheeks and still the Son of David will not come!’” (Yerushalmi Ta’anit 24a)

Bar Kochva did indeed get very far in the war, managing to expel the Romans (albeit temporarily), re-establishing a sovereign Jewish state (and minting his own coins), even clearing the Temple Mount and starting to rebuild the Beit haMikdash. This would not have been possible without Rabbi Akiva’s support. Unfortunately, the war ended in disaster, with 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students killed, along with Rabbi Akiva himself.

Coins minted by Bar Kochva

When exactly did Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues make the decision to support the revolt against Rome? This certainly would not have been an easy call to make. It would require all the chief rabbis of the time to get together and deliberate carefully. And, according to Rabbi Dr. Ronald Eisenberg (Essential Figures in the Talmud, pg. 16) this is precisely what they did on that Pesach night where they were all together. Confined in a room with no one else around, they stayed up all night to come to a verdict. The students arrived in the morning and said: Time’s up! Do we revolt or not? And what did the rabbis answer? They quoted that last part of the Haggadah: sh’fokh hamatcha el hagoyim asher lo yeda’ukha! “Spill Your wrath upon the nations that don’t know you!” This was the signal to go to war against Rome. And we do know that the main part of the war subsequently took place between Pesach and Shavuot (Yevamot 62b), which is why we still observe a mourning period during this time today. All the puzzle pieces add up neatly to explain this Haggadic mystery.

 The Sh’fokh verse in the Darmstädter Haggadah (c 1430)

Bar Kochva wished to throw off the oppressive and idolatrous Roman yoke. In supporting him, the rabbis were hoping to usher in the Messianic Age. It was Nisan, the month of Redemption; and Pesach, the holiday of geulah. And those same Sages taught: b’nisan nigalu, u’b’nisan atidin liga’el, “In Nisan we were redeemed, and in Nisan we are destined to be redeemed again.” (Rosh Hashanah 11a) This was the maxim of Rabbi Yehoshua—the very same Rabbi Yehoshua of the Haggadah, sitting and deliberating with his colleagues all night on that fateful Pesach. It seemed the time was ripe for redemption. The Vilna Gaon taught (as relayed in Kol haTor) that Bar Kochva really was the potential messiah of the generation (otherwise, Rabbi Akiva surely would never have supported him!) Unfortunately, the potential wasn’t realized.

Nonetheless, that same potential exists in every generation, just as there is a potential messiah in every generation. The power to bring the Redemption is in our hands. It takes two things: proper Torah observance and true repentance on the one hand, as well as a collective “Mashiach mass-consciousness” on the other. Rabbi Akiva’s generation had the former, but not the latter. This is evident from the Yerushalmi passage above, where Rabbi Akiva was constantly declaring publicly that Bar Kochva was the messiah—to spread that “Mashiach mass-consciousness”—yet other rabbis were quashing people’s hopes and telling them to stop dreaming, as Rabbi Yochanan ben Torta did.

In this difficult time that we are currently in—where all of the prophecies have already been fulfilled and there are none left to await—let’s make sure we do both, and finally bring about the Geulah.

Wishing everyone a chag Pesach kasher v’sameach!

Rabbi Palvanov:  efi@palvanov.com


Rabbi Winston: Metzora – Refined speech is what life is all about

 THE LAWS OF purification from tzora’as seemingly have little to do with Shabbos HaGadol. True, Moshe himself became a metzora on Har Sinai when he spoke badly about the Jewish people:

“…his hand was leprous like snow” (Shemos 4:7)”: It is usual for tzora’as to be white [as it says:] “If it will be a white blemish” (Vayikra 13:4). With this sign He (God) also hinted to him (Moshe) that he spoke slanderously when he said, “They will not believe me.” It is for this reason that He afflicted him with tzora’as, just as Miriam was for speaking slanderously. (Rashi)

But that seems to have been more incidental to the story, not a central part of it, right? Maybe not. On a Pshat level perhaps, and that is the level Rashi speaks on. On a deeper level, actually not.

After all, Pesach is peh sach, the mouth that spoke. Pharaoh is peh ra, the evil mouth. Moshe complained about having uncircumcised lips, which he felt made him unfit to redeem the nation. The Jewish people finally escaped the Egyptian people at Pi HaChiros, the mouth of the freedom. That’s a lot of mouths in the redemption story. 

Maybe it has something to do with this:

Berurya came and found a student learning Torah in a whisper rather than out loud. She smacked him and said to him: “Isn’t it written: ‘Ordered in all things and secure’ (II Shmuel 23:5), that is, if [Torah is] ‘ordered’ in your 248 limbs, it will be secure (i.e., not forgotten), and if not, it will not be secure.” (Eiruvin 53b)

It’s true. Everyone who has learned anything knows that there is something different about letting your mouth speak and your ears hear what your eyes are seeing. It’s as if the information resonates more with the person, and affects more parts of them, somehow making what was learned a more memorable experience.

But even if a person jumps and down and acts out what they are learning, which definitely helps a person to be more connected to the information, there is something unique about speech itself. This is especially so since the Gemora says God only made a bris with the Jewish people because of Torah Sh’b’al Peh, the Oral Law (Gittin 60b). According to the Arizal, learning the Oral Law is transformative:

A person who only performs mitzvos merits [access to] the [level of soul called] Nefesh, which corresponds to [the level] called Asiyah, but not more…[But] a Nefesh without Ruach…hasn’t any light or intelligence to understand. If they make an additional effort to learn Torah, learning, thinking about, and constantly teaching Oral Law, learning it for its own sake (lishmah), then they will merit [access to] the [level of soul called] Ruach, from [the level of] Yetzirah…Then their Nefesh will be filled with the spirit of wisdom, and their Nefesh will ascend from Asiyah to Yetzirah. (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Introduction 18)

The answer to the question comes from a short but profound Targum Onkeles

God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils a living soul, and the man became a living spirit. (Bereishis 2:7) 

A living spirit: A speaking spirit. (Onkeles

Until God gave man a soul he was just a golem, a lifeless body. But after receiving a soul, man not only became a living being, he became a speaking being. Speech may use the body, but it is a function of the soul. Hence, the Zohar says:

From a person’s mouth you can tell what they are. (Zohar, Balak 193b)

Refined speech is what life is all about:

Rebi Elazar said: “Every man was created to toil, as it says, ‘Because man was made to toil’ (Iyov 5:7). I do not know if this means to toil through speech or actual labor, but once it says, ‘A toiling soul toils for him, for his mouth compels him’ (Mishlei 16:26), I know that a person was created to toil with his mouth. I do not know if this means to toil in [oral] Torah or just in mundane conversation. However, once it says, ‘This Torah should not leave your mouth’ (Yehoshua 1: 8), I know that man was created to toil in Torah [speech].” (Sanhedrin 99b) 

Talk? It should never be cheap, but the song of the soul and a ticket to freedom. History is changing quickly. Prophecies are coming true. We need to know what to work on during these challenging times. Subscribe to Thirtysix.org Plus for Strategy For the End of the Days at www.thirtysix.org or write to thirtysixorgplus@thirtysix.org

Eliezer Meir Saidel: THIS IS BIG! – Metzora – Shabbat HaGadol


וְחִטֵּא אֶת הַבַּיִת בְּדַם הַצִּפּוֹר וּבַמַּיִם הַחַיִּים וּבַצִּפֹּר הַחַיָּה וּבְעֵץ הָאֶרֶז וּבָאֵזֹב וּבִשְׁנִי הַתּוֹלָעַת (ויקרא יד, נב).


The Tur says that whenever a chag occurs during the week, it is hinted to in the parshat hashavua preceding it. It is not hard to find the hint to Pesach in our parsha which deals with צָרַעַת. In the past few weeks, we have been discussing the connection between צָרַעַת which is the result of sins of the mouth, and Pesach, פֶּה סָח, which comes to atone for sins of the mouth.


Cleansing a home afflicted with a blemish is akin to Pesach cleaning "on steroids". The descriptions of the cleansing process in the parsha remind me of a story my mother a"h told us as kids, of how her father used to kasher their dining room table for Pesach by spreading burning, hot coals over it. That must have been a pretty resilient table, I don't think modern furniture would stand up to that.


In this shiur, I would like to focus on a different subject – Shabbat HaGadol. This week, the Shabbat preceding Pesach, we read the special haftara of Shabbat HaGadol from sefer Malachi (chap. 3). All the eidot, except for the Yemenites, read this special haftara this Shabbat (the Yemenite custom is to simply read the haftara of the parshat hashavua).


What is Shabbat HaGadol and why is it thus named?


Shabbat HaGadol is different to the other "special" haftarot of the period. With the others (Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, HaChodesh), we first read a special maftir from the Torah and after that, the special haftara. Shabbat Hagadol has no special maftir – we do not take out a second sefer Torah.


The only other special haftara that resembles it is Shabbat Shuva (we also have Shabbat Chazon and Shabbat Nachamu, but these are not of the same stature of a special haftara before a major chag). Shabbat Shuva too has no special maftir, only the haftara. Shabbat HaGadol and Shabbat Shuva share another similarity – on both of them it is customary to deliver a special drasha to the congregation (more on this later). Both on Shabbat Shuva and Shabbat HaGadol we read the haftara from the תְּרֵי עֲשַׂר, the minor prophets – Shabbat Shuva from the first הוֹשֵׁעַ and Shabbat HaGadol from the last מַלְאָכִי.


In order to understand the essence of Shabbat HaGadol, we need to explore the origin of its name.


The most common reason given why we call it Shabbat HaGadol is brought by the דעת זקנים מבעלי התוספות (שמות יב, ג) quoting a Midrash (of unknown origin), also by the Tosfot (Gemara Shabbat 87b) and in Sefer HaOrah (חלק ב, סימן סב, עמ' רא). According to these sources, it is called Shabbat HaGadol because of the miracle(s) that occurred on this Shabbat in Egypt.


On the Shabbat preceding יְצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם, which, according to the דעת זקנים מבעלי התוספות was the tenth of Nisan, the Israelites had just undergone Brit Milah and they were physically weak and could not defend themselves. The Egyptians saw the Israelites procuring sheep, their god, with the intention of slaughtering it and planned to unleash a "pogrom" on us. However, HKB"H performed a miracle and they could not harm Am Yisrael.


Another reason, given by the Chizkuni (שמות יב, ג) and the Abudraham (אבודרהם השלם, עמ' רי) is that on this Shabbat, Am Yisrael performed their first mitzva – taking the lamb for bringing the Korban Pesach.


The צפנת פענח (דף סז, ד) says that on that Shabbat, the עֲבוֹדַת פָּרֶךְ in Egypt ceased.


The above are all certainly special occurrences and worth commemorating, but what connection is there between these events and the name Shabbat HaGadol? It would have better been named "Shabbat HaNes", or "Shabbat HaMitzva", or "Shabbat HaMenucha"?


Other Mefarshim connect the name Shabbat HaGadol to the special drasha given on that Shabbat, which is longer (bigger) than the normal weekly drasha, or alternatively, given by a more prominent (bigger) Rav.


Sometimes, it is not necessarily the length of the drasha that makes an impression, but simply the stature of the Rav. A story is told, I think about R' Isser Zalman Meltzer zt"l, who travelled numerous times on fundraising drives to the US to collect for his Yeshiva. As was his custom, he would deliver his drasha in Yiddish. One time he was giving a drasha to a very wealthy community, but not the closest to Yiddishkeit. 

In the audience was a young boy, who obviously spoke no Yiddish, but appeared to be listening intently. After the drasha, the Rav went up to him and asked him (in English) if he understood Yiddish, to which the boy replied "No". The Rav then asked him "You were listening very intently. Did you understand what I was saying?"  The boy replied "Yes Rabbi, you were asking for money!"


 Yet another reason given for naming it Shabbat HaGadol is brought by the Maharshal (מטה משה, סימן תקמב), who says that the name of Shabbat HaGadol stems from the last passuk in the haftara –


הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי שֹׁלֵחַ לָכֶם אֵת אֵלִיָּה הַנָּבִיא לִפְנֵי בּוֹא יוֹם ה' הַגָּדוֹל וְהַנּוֹרָא (מלאכי ג, כג).


It would not be the only such named haftara. Shabbat Chazon and Shabbat Nachamu are also named after words in the haftara, but it seems a very weak reason to call it Shabbat HaGadol, simply because that is the second last word in the haftara. It would be more logical to call it "Shabbat VeArva", which is the first word in the haftara –


וְעָרְבָה לַה' מִנְחַת יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלָ͏ִם כִּימֵי עוֹלָם וּכְשָׁנִים קַדְמֹנִיּוֹת (מלאכי ג, ד).


just as Chazon and Nachamu are named after the first word in the haftara.


I believe that, although seemingly superficial, the reason of the Maharshal is the correct one, but it embodies much greater depth.


Before we explore this further, a short perusal of the haftara is necessary.


Every time we end the Amidah, we say the above passuk וְעָרְבָה לַה' מִנְחַת יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלָיִם כִּימֵי עוֹלָם וּכְשָׁנִים קַדְמֹנִיּוֹת, that HKB"H will derive pleasure from the Mincha offering of Yehudah and Yerushalayim, as it once was כִּימֵי עוֹלָם and כְשָׁנִים קַדְמֹנִיּוֹת. What do these last two phrases mean?


It is a machloket in the Midrash (ויקרא רבה פרשה ז סימן ד). According to the first opinion כִּימֵי עוֹלָם refers to the days of Moshe and כְשָׁנִים קַדְמֹנִיּוֹת refers to the time of Shlomo Hamelech, when fire came down directly from Heaven (on the form of a crouching lion) and consumed the offerings on the Mizbeach. The second opinion (Rebi) says that כִּימֵי עוֹלָם refers to the days of Noach and כְשָׁנִים קַדְמֹנִיּוֹת refers to the days of Hevel. In both these periods, there was no avodah zara in the world. In the time of Noach, the rest of the world was wiped out and the world was reset with no avodah zara, Avodah zara only began in the generation of Enosh, which was after Hevel.


Our haftara begins with HKB"H saying how He yearns for those times when Am Yisrael were worthy, like before mankind began serving idols.


Unfortunately, however, mankind and Am Yisrael sinned, but HKB"H was steadfast in His promise to the Avot, that even though Am Yisrael would sin He would not wipe us out. When Am Yisrael sin, HKB"H immediately punishes us in small doses and doesn't "bottle things up". When evil nations sin, HKB"H does not immediately punish them, He "bottles up" their sins and at the end of days, He will bring retribution upon them by completely wiping them out (Malbim). Am Yisrael became confused, they observed the goyim prospering while we were suffering צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ, רָשָׁע וְטוֹב לוֹ. They lacked understanding of the above principle.


HKB"H chastises Am Yisrael saying that since the Avot, we have sinned and that He implored us to do tshuva שׁוּבוּ אֵלַי וְאָשׁוּבָה אֲלֵיכֶם (another link to Shabbat Shuva) and we had the audacity to respond "Us? Sin? When did we sin?" HKB"H replies "You stole from Me with trumot and m'aasrot."


The Gemara (Gitin 81a) explains that this does not mean that Am Yisrael were actually violating the halacha. It is simply a comparison between the earlier generations who went out of their way to be able to perform the mitzva of truma and ma'aser, while the later generations did the opposite. The later generations were not ignorant of the halacha, they were perhaps "too well versed" in the halacha, so much so that they abused it to get out of performing the mitzva, whenever possible.


The halacha says that you are only required to separate truma and ma'aser from produce if you bring it into your home through the main entrance. However, if you bring the produce in from another place, like from the roof or the window, into your home, you are not required to separate truma and ma'aser. The later generation was not ignorant of the law, but instead of showing how they loved to perform HKB"H's mitzvas at every possible opportunity, they showed their disdain for His mitzvas, by looking for every loophole to get out of performing them.


However, they kicked themselves in the foot, because by their actions, by denying the Kohanim and Levi'im the trumot and ma'asraot, they were not deserving of the Heavenly abundance and their labors bore no fruit.


Their reluctance to relinquish the produce that they gathered and give trumot and ma'asrot reflected a lack of gratitude to HKB"H. Their mistaken thinking "Why should I part with this tenth apple from the tree, which I worked so hard to prune, fertilize, shield with nets from the birds, wrap in paper bags so that they fully ripen, etc.? I deserve this apple more than the Kohen/Levi does, it is my apple, not his" came back to bite them.


Trumot/ma'asrot are not simply gifts to the Kohanim/Levi'im, they are a sign of recognition and gratitude to HKB"H. When a person separates truma and ma'aser, he/she is not "losing out on the tenth apple", quite the opposite, the very act of recognition and gratitude that is truma and ma'aser, ensures that HKB"H heaps abundance on him/her that far outweighs one measly apple. 

Not only does HKB"H cause the earth to produce more abundant harvest, He also protects that harvest from locusts and other pests that threaten crops. When Am Yisrael perform HKB"H's mitzvot willingly and enthusiastically, HKB"H blesses us and we become the envy of other nations.


True servants of HKB"H though, do not perform mitzvot to get reward, they do so out of their love for HKB"H. They understand that the ikar is not this world but the next, and even so, they observe the mitzvot from love and not because they want to be rewarded in olam habah. As a true son loves his father - unconditionally.


Unconditional love for HKB"H will result in the greatest reward, when we return to this world after the Geulah and תְּחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים and ultimately understand HKB"H's truth and why it only appears as if צַדִּיק וְרַע לוֹ, רָשָׁע וְטוֹב לוֹ, but in fact is the opposite.


The day of the Geulah is coming like a fiery furnace, when HKB"H uncloaks His Heavenly light, which will heal the righteous in a loving embrace and devour the evildoers like fire to straw, and no memory of evil will remain.


The nevuah of Malachi draws to an end with HKB"H entreating us to remember the Torah of Moshe His servant, that He commanded at Har Sinai, the חֻקִּים וּמִשְׁפָּטִים.


Behold, I (HKB"H) am sending you Eliyahu Hanavi, before this great and terrible day (the Geulah) to announce its coming. And Eliyahu will cause the entire world to do tshuva and the hearts of the sons will return to the hearts of the fathers. This is the ultimate chessed, that before HKB"H reveals Himself in the Geulah, we will have done tshuva and will not perish together with the evildoers.


When is this great day?


The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 11a) brings a machloket when the future Geulah will take place – in Tishrei (R' Eliezer) or Nisan (R' Yehoshua). Another Gemara (Sanhedrin 97b) brings the conclusion – both are right, they are each referring to the two possible timelines of Geulah בְּעִתָּהּ אֲחִישֶׁנָּה. R' Eliezer/Tishrei is referring to the eventuality that Am Yisrael all preemptively do tshuva אֲחִישֶׁנָּה. R' Yehoshua/Nisan refers to the set final date regardless of whether Am Yisrael do tshuva or not בְּעִתָּהּ.


The reason it is called Shabbat HaGadol is not because of what happened in the past, but rather because of what will happen in the future. The Maharshal's reason is "correct", but it is not simply a play on words, as the Maharshal's reason superficially appears to be, like Shabbat Chazon or Shabbat Nachamu, it is commemoration of THE BIG DAY which is yet to come, the Shabbat before the Geulah.


This is why Shabbat HaGadol and Shabbat Shuva are linked in so many respects, because they are both intricately intertwined with the two timelines of the future Geulah.


The million-dollar question is – "Is the Geulah going to happen this month, during Nisan תשפ"ד?" The answer is … "I don’t know, nobody does!"


What I do know is that we need to behave as if it will. It is one of the Rambam's 13 principles of faith –


אֲנִי מַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה בְּבִיאַת הַמָּשִׁיחַ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּתְמַהְמֵהַּ, עִם כָּל זֶה אֲחַכֶּה לּוֹ בְּכָל יוֹם שֶׁיָּבוֹא


We have to live every day of our lives as if Mashiach is going to come today!


We all have contingency plans. We have savings schemes in the bank "in case of …". We have emergency lights in our homes "in case of …" We like to keep the gas tank filled in our car "in case of …" We back up our media on our smartphones "in case of …"


How many of us have a contingency plan if Mashiach would suddenly appear today? What will we wear? How will we get to Yerushalayim to witness the Beit HaMikdash descending from Heaven? By car/bus/taxi? Where will we dispose of our spectacles / hearing-aids / crutches / walkers / Advil / Acamol / Bandaids / etc. that we will no longer need – because all our ailments will be miraculously cured. Where is the closest place I can get a sheep to bring Korban Pesach? etc.


Unfortunately, the answer is – very few of us have such a contingency plan. Human nature is that we make contingencies for bad things that could possibly happen, not good things, especially not the "best of the best" things.


This is a failing amongst all of us and could very well be the very reason that the Geulah has not yet come, because we do not truly believe in its reality, the same way we feel the need to save money in the bank. It is a failing in emunah.


This is what Shabbat HaGadol truly is or at least should be. We all congregate to listen to the Rav doresh on Hilchot HaPesach. How to kasher keilim? What percentage of a factory matza is a kezayit? Should we dip our fingers in the cup during the Ten Plagues or tip a drop out of the cup?


How many Shabbat HaGadol drashot have you heard that include the halachot of Korban Pesach? How to roast the sheep? What amount of sheep's meat to include in the Korech? Or the laws of bringing the Omer? What quantity of barley flour? How much oil? Levonah? How to wave it around? The answer is zero! And why? Because we do not have the Beit HaMikdash today and these halachot are not immediately applicable.


There is one Rav, however, who, although he lives in a reality where the Beit HaMikdash does not exist, this does not stop him from devoting his entire Shabbat HaGadol drasha to the halachot of Pesach in the Beit HaMikdash. You know who this Rav is? His name is מָרְדְּכַי הַיְּהוּדִי. He had a surprise gatecrasher to his drasha – Haman. Haman entered the Yeshiva in the middle of the drasha – which was all about … Kemitza. Haman had never heard of Kemitza before, so he asked what it was. One of the tinokot shel beit rabban explained to him that Kemitza is a measure of barley flour.


Why was Mordechai giving his Shabbat HaGadol drasha on Kemitza? There was no Beit HaMikdash in sight. Am Yisrael were in their darkest hour on the edge of oblivion … Davka to doresh on Kemitza for the Omer? What Omer? What Beit Hamikdash? What Am Yisrael? Tomorrow is the end of the world!


Mordechai's Shabbat HaGadol drasha was the TRUE Shabbat HaGadol drasha. It was total emunah. Making contingency plans for what HKB"H promised us will be, even though the current reality does not seem to corroborate that promise.


And what was the result of that Shabbat HaGadol drasha? Less than 70 years later, Am Yisrael were actually bringing the Omer again in the Beit HaMikdash!


If we really want the Geulah, we have to start living the reality of the Geulah, as if it is going to happen today.


Then it will.



Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher Ve'Sameach

See you on Monday night in the Beit HaMikdash.

Eliezer Meir Saidel

Machon Lechem Hapanim


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