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Parshas Shemini 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 6:57 pm
March 21, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 23
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Dvar Torah

Let Your Outside In 


By Rabbi Yakir Schechter 


The saying goes that if you talk the talk you have to walk the walk.  All Jews should desire to act in a way that truly reflects who they are and what they believe.  Often, people preach lofty ideas that they themselves don't practice.  But the Torah demands more from us.


The Gemara in Maseches Berachos (28a) says that during the time when Rabban Gamliel headed the Yeshiva he declared that anyone whose inside is not the same as his outside may not enter the study hall.  Similarly, the Gemara in Maseches Yoma (72b) says in the name of Rava that any Torah scholar whose inside does not match his outside is not a true Torah scholar, and the Maharsha explains that this refers to a Torah scholar who studies Torah but lacks fear of heaven.


This idea has its roots in this week's Parsha as well.  The Torah tells us that we must only eat kosher animals, and it tells us the signs that signify which are kosher: "Everything among the animals that has a split hoof . . . and that brings up its cud - that one you may eat."  The Torah goes on to give four examples of animals that don't meet these criteria.  For example, the camel may not be eaten even though it chews its cud since it does not have split hooves.  The pig may not be eaten even though it has split hooves because it does not chew its cud. 


The Kli Yakar takes note of the following peculiar syntax.  The Torah first tells us the criteria for an animal to be labeled kosher.  It should follow, then, that the reason why, for example, a pig is not kosher is because it does not chew its cud.  Yet the Torah first says that it has split hooves before informing us that it doesn't chew its cud.  Why does the Torah first mention the kosher sign it has and thereafter tell us that it is not kosher because it lacks another kosher sign?  The Kli Yakar explains that the Torah is teaching us that these non-kosher animals that have one kosher sign are even more impure.  They show themselves to be kosher on the outside while in reality they lack the true signs of pure, kosher animals.  They are worse than regular non-kosher animals, for those non-kosher animals don't pretend to be kosher.  This, says the Kli Yakar, is a lesson to all those who show themselves to be one way on the outside but are really different on the inside.  Just as the Torah makes it clear that these animals are unwanted by Hashem, so too those whose outside does not match their inside are less desired by Hashem. Let us all learn from the parsha of kosher animals and strive to be better people, both on the outside and on the inside.






Dvar Halacha

 Halachos of Pesach      Part 1



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi



It is a mitzvah for each person to learn hilchos Pesach beginning 30 days before Pesach (Shulchan Aruch 429:1) [i.e. Purim] (Mishneh Berurah 429:2).  Furthermore, it is a mitzvah on  Yom Tov itself to learn hilchos Pesach [hilchos chag b'chag] (Mishneh Berurah 429:1-2).


There are five mitzvos on the first night of Pesach: two mitzvos m'doraisa (Biblical commandments) and three mitzvos m'derabanan (Rabbinical commandment).  The mitzvos m'doraisa are: eating a kzayis of matzah [Shemos 12:18] and sipur yetziyas mitzrayim (relating the story of the exodus from Egypt) [Shemos 13:8].  The mitzvos m'derabanan are: daled kosos (drinking four cups of wine), achilas maror (eating bitter herbs) and reciting Hallel.


Both men and women are obligated in all the mitzvos of the Seder (Shulchan Aruch 472:14).  Even though it is a mitzvas asei she'hazman grama (time-bound positive commandment), women are still obligated because they were also included in the miracle (Mishneh Berurah 472:44).  Therefore, unless a woman has to get up from the table, she should be present the entire time.  At a minimum, she must be present for the essential parts of the Haggadah.  This includes: Kiddush, the paragraph "Avadim ha'yeenu," and from "Rabban Gamliel omer" thru the drinking of the second cup of wine.  Many have the custom that women should be present at the time of reciting the Ten Plagues, in order they should hear all the miracles that Hashem did for the Jewish people (Mishneh Berurah 473:64).


The Torah [Shemos 13:3] states "Remember this day that you left Egypt."  A few p'sukim later [Shemos 13:8] the Torah says, "You shall relate to your son [the story of the exodus] on this day, because of this."  The Rambam [Hil' Chometz U'matzah 7:1] explains, the words "because of this" imply that we are commanded to fulfill this mitzvah at a time when one is able to point to matzah and marror placed in front of him, which is at the Seder.  The Rambam continues: even someone who does not have children, and even great Talmidei Chachamim who know the story of the exodus, are required to say over the story Pesach night, and whoever elaborates in relating the story is praiseworthy.  Ramban [Shemos 13:16] explains the reason why this mitzvah is so important [and why we have numerous commandments that are a remembrance to the exodus of Egypt] is because the story of yetziyas Mitzrayim testifies that in addition to Hashem creating the world, He also knows and is involved in running the world.  Therefore, the story is one of the foundations of our belief.


A child who understands the story of yetziyas mitzrayim should be taught.  This includes both boys and girls.  Generally, children around five or six years old are capable of understanding (Aruch Hashulchan 472:15).


In order to fulfill this mitzvah, in addition to reciting the actual words of the Haggadah, one must also understand what he is saying.  Therefore, if there is someone present who does not understand what is being said it should be translated and explained (Rama 473:6).  Additionally, one has not fulfilled his obligation until one has answered his children's questions of Mah nishtana (Mishneh Berurah 472:50).  Therefore, one should be careful not send children to bed before you have properly answered them (Halachos of Pesach [Rabbi Shimon Eider] pg. 217).



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