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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Special Pesach Edition

Parshat Special Pesach Edition

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Pesach Edition 5781                                                                Print Version
15th of Nissan, 5781 | March 28, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Torahanytimes Pesach Edition 5781

TorahAnytime is proud to present its Special Pesach Edition, sure to enhance your Pesach and fill your holiday with wisdom, inspiration and insights. Culled from the lectures of renowned speakers far and wide, this concise Pesach Companion provides a mix of illuminating insights and stories for you and your family.
TorahAnytime lectures can now be brought to life at your table and engage the hearts and minds of you, your family and friends with the written word. Infusing meaning and joy to the Pesach aura, it is hoped that this compendium will leave you inspired long after Pesach ends and keep you growing as a dedicated Jew.

Wishing you a Chag Kasher V’Sameach,

Team TorahAnytime

Rabbi Shay Tahan
Attention and Admiration

Of the Four Sons we read about on the night of the Seder, the rasha (Wicked Son) appears to be disturbed, asking, “What work is this to you?” What, in fact, though is the rasha bothered by? Is the Wicked Son that interested and curious as to what we are doing and why we are doing it?

The truth is that the rasha is only externally wicked; from what we see on the outside. Internally, however, he is a sweet person. What then does he need?

Rav Mordechai Norgesher explains that our response to the rasha “Hak’heh et shinav,” which is typically rendered, “Knock out his teeth,” means something else. The word hak’heh means to smoothen. When someone asks such sharp, defiant questions, you know that this person may look like a rasha on the outside, but he or she is a gem on the inside. What must be done is giving him or her proper and respectful admiration by talking up to them, and making them a focus of attention.

Rav Mordechai Norgesher relates how on one occasion he relayed some words of Torah to his students, and one of them became irritated and infuriated. Rav Norgesher approached the boy, demonstrated his undivided attention to him and began building him up. All of a sudden, the boy transitioned into a gentle, respectful tone.

The boy eventually went on to start wearing Tefillin for the first time in his life. This is the idea underscored by the Haggadah. The sharpness which you see can become transformed when we relate to others with fondness, admiration and respectful attention.

Mr. Charlie Harary
Envisioning Freedom

וַתִּתֶּן לָנו...ּ חַג הַמַּצּוֹת הַזֶּה זְמַן חֵרוּתֵנוּ...
And has given us this Holiday of Matzot, the time of our freedom…

When was the first Pesach seder in all of history? While we would assume it to be the first year after the Jews left Egypt, in truth, the night before they left they were already acting as a free nation eating matzah and the Korban Pesach. Why would Hashem command them to have a seder before actually leaving Egypt? It is akin to celebrating an anniversary before getting married.

During my time spent at RXR Realty, a New York based real estate company, I wound up giving a monthly class where people could ask any question about Judaism in an open forum. On one occasion, a broad-shouldered 6’6” man named Josh walked in and took a seat. After sitting through the class, he approached me. “Charlie, I want to thank you for that lecture.” “It’s my pleasure,” I said. “Would you mind if I come back again? You may not know, but I’m not Jewish.” “It’s fine,” I said, “you’re welcome to stop by again.”

Sure enough, at the next session, there was Josh. As I spoke about the power of speech and words, I asked if anyone had a personal story of someone saying or doing something to them which indelibly shaped their life. Josh raised his hand. “Come on up,” I said. Josh then proceeded to relate the following story:

“As a young kid growing up in the South, I was exceptionally big and strong. I had the perfect build for a great football athlete, although I was only a decent player. When I finally joined a team, my coach one day came to practice and said, “Josh, you think you can give me the death crawl?” I knew that a death crawl entailed crawling on the floor using only my elbows and knees without my hands and feet, something which I knew would be a challenge. But I would do my best. “Yeah,” I told the coach. “How far can you go?” he asked. “I don’t know, but I think the twenty-yard line.” “You promise you’ll go to the twenty?” “Promise,” I said.

“As I was about to begin, my coach called me over again. ‘Wait a minute, Josh. Billy is going to be placed on your back.’ ‘What?’ I exclaimed in surprise. ‘Josh,’ my coach reminded me, ‘you promised…’ With little option to argue, I agreed to carry Billy on my back.

“But don’t go quite yet,’ my coach added, ‘there is one more thing.’ He proceeded to pull out a handkerchief from his pocket and blindfold me. About to perform a difficult task with a guy on my back and my eyes blindfolded, I didn’t think I would get too far. I had thought I could make it to the twenty-yard line, but now I had my doubts.

“But I simply began to move. Inching forward five yards and then ten yards, my coach yelled out to me, ‘Josh, you are doing great!’ I felt that I had gone so far, but then my coach signaled that I had only reached the ten-yard line. ‘Keep on moving!’ I heard him yell. ‘You’re at the fifteen!’ Working as hard as I could, I soon felt I could go no more. ‘I can’t do it coach! I have nothing left.’ ‘C’mon,’ he yelled, five more steps.’ Putting in a few more steps and getting closer and closer… I finally collapsed.

“Rolling over, I repeated, ‘Coach, I told you, I can’t even get to the twenty.’ But then my coach said, ‘Josh… turn around. You’re at the fifty.’

We often live our lives thinking that who we are is who we are. We become stuck in our own limitations. Before we left Egypt, Hashem had us visualize with a seder what it meant to be a nation free to carry out His mitzvos without restraint. Freedom does not merely mean changing your geography or altering your mode of dress. Freedom begins when you mentally decide that you are going to be free. Only when you can visualize such a reality will you experience true freedom and reach above and beyond your limitations.

Rabbi YY Jacobson
4 Lessons for the 4 Sons

כְּנֶגֶד אַרְבָּעָה בָנִים דִּבְּרָה תּוֹרָה

Concerning four sons did the Torah speak

These few words contain volumes of lessons about education and pedagogy. Among many, there are four messages our Sages mean to convey with this brief statement:

1) אַרְבָּעָה בָנִים –There are four sons. There is no one child because everyone is different. Never make the mistake that one cookie-cutter model encompasses all children.

2) בָנִים –They are all your children. Never look at any of these children and write them off or reject them. They may be from one extreme to another, but they are all your children.

3) דִּבְּרָה תּוֹרָה – Torah has something to say to each one of these children. No child is ever too far for Torah to inspire and uplift them and provide them with joy and wholesomeness in life. The Torah speaks to every child’s needs.

4) אַרְבָּעָה בָנִים דִּבְּרָה תּוֹרָה –The conversation the Torah has with each of them is a different one. The Torah offers a unique message for every individual in every circumstance of life.

Rabbi Paysach Krohn
Thinking of You

אַתְּ פְּתַח לוֹ

You initiate him

When my grandson, Avraham Zelig, was seven years old, I reminded him, “Avraham, when you are ready for your first baseball glove, it’s on me. Just let me know and I’ll buy it for you.” Two days later, sure enough, there was Avraham Zelig. “Zaidy,” he said, “I’m ready.” Keeping to my word, I told him that I would pick him up after school the following day and take him to Sports Authority, the local athletics store.

When we later entered the store, I was blown away. There must have been thousands of baseball gloves of all kinds for all ages. This was in addition to the hundreds of other basketballs and soccer balls. Everything you could imagine was in that store. Quite overwhelmed, I had no idea how we would ever be successful in finding a suitable mitt among countless others.

As we started walking up and down the aisles stacked with gloves from top to bottom, I began thinking back to my own very first baseball glove. I could still remember it. It was a Wilson glove, which had an unbelievable smell of leather. Between pitches, I used to take a whiff of it. It was incredible.

We continued making our way around the store, and soon enough, I spotted something familiar. It was a Wilson glove for a seven-year-old. All too excited, I picked it up and smelled it. Within seconds, I was transported back to my youth. “Avraham,” I called out, “this is your glove!” “Zaidy,” he said, “what do you mean? What is so special about it?” “Don’t worry,” I assured him, “just smell it; you’ll find out.” Although he had no clue what I was referring to, he compliantly put on the glove as we started tossing a baseball back and forth. Sure enough, Avraham took a liking to the glove. It fit him well, he liked the feel and he was happy. And so, Avraham happily returned home with his first baseball glove.

Three weeks later, to my surprise, my wife came home one night holding Avraham’s glove. “What are you doing with that glove?” I asked, worried that perhaps he had regretted his decision or that something was wrong with it. “Avraham said you can hold onto it for tonight,” she replied, “he knows you like to smell it.”

All parents and grandparents are in position to instill within their children and grandchildren wonderful values of kindness and concern for another. Yet how exactly can we achieve that? It all begins with one simple step: showing our kindness and concern for them. When we model the behavior we would like for them to follow and give them of our quality time and attention, we have taken the first step to imbuing them with such beautiful ideals.

Rabbi Fischel Schachter
Cry, Cry and Cry

וַנִּצְעַק אֶל ד'
And we cried out to Hashem

I have often been asked what my Pesach seder looks like in my home. While we certainly have our fair share of noise and ups and downs throughout, there is one part during which all of my family joins together.

It is before the words in the Haggadah which describe how the Jews cried out to Hashem amid their pain. Every year without fail, I tell my family the same story.

It was the Shabbos before Pesach, and to the chagrin of many families in the town, the landowner made his way over. “No rent?” he yelled. “Out!” “But, it is Passover…” “Out!” the landowner yelled again.

The homeowner was very dejected. Where would he and his family go for Pesach? He didn’t have the means to pay the rent at the moment, but he didn’t want to be evicted either. But upon the encouragement of his wife, he gathered himself together and traveled to hear the Apter Rav deliver his widely attended Shabbos HaGadol speech he gave every year before Pesach.
As he soon discovered, though, the shul was packed with people from wall to wall. There was no way to get in, let alone to find a place to stand. And so, with no other resort, the man put his head to the window just enough that he could hear something to repeat to his wife.

“There are two blessings that we say: Go’el Yisrael and Ga’al Yisrael. The former is said every day, and refers to Hashem being our Redeemer on an ongoing basis. The latter, in contrast, refers to unique times during the year when Hashem opens certain doors of redemption, which we can grab hold of and slowly work our way in. We take the opportunity to look at the larger picture, the bigger door of geulah, and from there practically make our way inside on a daily basis.”

The poor Jew was now even more despondent. “I’m going to tell this idea to my wife and the landowner as he throws me out? Hebrew grammar is the last thing he is interested in …”

But then, just as the poor yid began walking away, he heard the Apter Rav loudly proclaim, “Suppose there’s a yid named Yankel who lives in a distant village, and suppose the landowner told him, ‘No rent? Out!’ The yid wants to give up on everything he has. But he is forgetting one simple thing. You can cry out to Hashem. Cry and cry. The Jews cried in Egypt, and roused the merits of all previous generations all the way back to our Avos. When we cry, we do the same. We invoke the merits of our fathers, grandfathers and so on, all the way to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.”

The Ohr HaChaim further says that the words, “Hashem saw the Children of Israel, and G-d knew” (Shemos 2:25), refers to the greatest degree of connection between Hashem and the Jewish people. “And Hashem knew” speaks to the most intimate relationship possible. A person can cry a thousand times, until he cries one cry which is so sincere and pristine that, all of a sudden, Hashem turns to him in a way He never turned to him before in his life. When Hashem simply sees you screaming out to Him amid your pain, that itself helps to remove the agony.

A number of years ago, I was asked to speak to a group of people undergoing very difficult situations. I stood up and just read these words of the Ohr HaChaim again and again and again until there was an ocean of tears. There is no magic wand to relieve pain, but there is a cry to Hashem which He sees and hears. And once He sees your genuine cry, whether you can explain it or not, the pain is lifted.

As the yid heard these words and explanation of the Apter Rav, he told his family, “During the night of the seder this year, we are going to cry and scream.” Sure enough, it was the night of the seder, and as they reached the words, “And the Jews cried out,” the entire family began screaming and yelling. The landlord came rushing in, flustered to see an entire family in what appeared to be a frenzied state. And as the story goes, he pitied the man and his family and gave the yid a new lease on life.

If you scream, Hashem listens. And so, as is the custom in my home, as we reach the words of Va’nitzak during the seder, all of my children and grandchildren await their turn to tell us someone we should cry for. This one needs a child, this one needs a shidduch, someone needs better health … and we daven for each and every one of them. We cry about a certain neighbor, about an elderly gentleman down the block, and someone sick in shul. We cry for the full gamut of people needing Hashem’s help.
Well before Pesach, my family begins preparing names we will daven for. We write down everyone’s names and create lists of people we can cry our hearts out for.

You may be surprised to know how many people have told us that that they’ve started doing this in their homes during the seder, and how many prayers have been answered. May Hashem help that we all find it within our hearts to cry out on this night, because all we need is to get His attention, and the refuah and yeshuah are around the corner.

Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky
My Brother

לֹא לָנוּ ד' לֹא לָנוּ

Not for our sake, Hashem, not for our sake…

Years ago, as a young man enjoyed the smooth ride in his new car, he pulled up to the local supermarket to buy some groceries. While looking for a place to park, he caught sight of his friend’s younger brother gazing at his car. Rolling down his window, the young man called out to the boy, “Do you like the car?” “I really do. Where did you get it?” “My brother bought it for me,” the man replied.

Still entranced by the sight of the car, the boy stood there. The man figured that he would respond as any other typical boy would, “Oh, I wish I had a brother like that!” But this boy was different; he had a different look on the matter. “Wow!” he said, “I wish I could be a brother like that.”

Caught off guard by such a comment, the man said to the boy, “Would you like to go for a ride?” With his face breaking out in a smile, the little boy excitedly nodded his head. “Can we drive to my house?” asked the boy. The man figured that the boy wished to show off the elegant car to his friends, to which he happily complied.

When the man finally pulled into the driveway of the house, the boy turned to the man and shyly asked, “Could you wait just a moment?” Running inside, the little boy soon came out carrying his younger brother who could not walk. He had polio. As he brought him close to the car, he clenched his brother tightly and said, “Can you see that? His brother bought him that car. One day I will buy you a car like that so it will be easier for you to get around. Right now it’s a bit hard for you to do so, but that will one day all change.”

Just listen to the beautiful message of this little boy: “Everybody wishes they had a brother like that; but how many people wish they could be a brother like that.” We would live as much happier, thoughtful and selfless people if we would only adopt such an attitude.

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
The Strange Stick

וְאָתָא חוּטְרָא וְהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא

And the stick came and hit the dog

I was once about to write out a check for a tzedakah collector who came to my office when he asked if I could wait a minute. “Before you give me a check, would you mind if I ask you a question on the Haggadah? It is the easiest question you have ever heard. If you can answer it, I don’t want the check; but if you cannot answer it, please double the amount.”

Presented with this challenge, I liked what I heard. “Are you sure it’s an easy question?” I asked. “It’s the simplest question you ever heard on the Haggadah!” “Okay,” I said, “go ahead.”

“In Chad Gadya, we read how a man purchased a goat for two zuzim. Along came a cat and ate the goat; along came a dog and ate the cat; along came a stick and hit the dog; fire then burnt up the stick; water then extinguished the fire; the cow then drank the water; the slaughterer then slaughtered the cow; the angel of death then killed the slaughterer; and then Hashem smote the angel of death.

“Everything naturally makes sense in the sequence of events. Cats eat goats, dogs eat cats, water extinguishes fire, cows drink water and so on. But I have one question. How did the stick hit the dog? Sticks don’t walk. It should have said that a person came with a stick and hit the dog. But it doesn’t say that.”

Thinking to myself how I have been reading the Haggadah for decades and never even considered this question, I sat there silently. “Double the check please,” he said. And I did.

“Let me tell you the answer,” he continued. “The Haggadah was written in this way for a reason. When you read the story of Chad Gadya, everything appears to occur naturally. But there is something the author of the Haggadah put into the middle of the story that doesn’t make sense at all. A stick appears on its own and hits the dog. When you read this, you immediately raise your eyebrows and say, ‘Wait a second! How did the stick get there?’ And then you realize that it must be Hashem holding the stick. And if that is so, the same is true of all the other ‘natural’ events. Even the cat eating the goat and the water extinguishing the fire is the hand of Hashem. Nothing is natural and happens by itself.”

After the man finished explaining this, I said, “I will triple your check.” I was taken aback by this answer.

Throughout all the hardships in our lives, we can never think it is natural. At the end of the Haggadah when we read about the events of Chad Gadya, we are meant to think of all the incidents in our own personal lives. And then we are to realize that even the stick that hits and the hardships that confront us are from Hashem. He is behind our lives every step of the way.

Rabbi Aryeh Sokoloff
Thank you, Thank you

אוֹדְךָ כִּי עֲנִיתָנִי וַתְּהִי לִי לִישׁוּעָה

I thank You Hashem for You answered me and became my salvation

When considering which school would best suit my son with Down syndrome, my wife and I toured one particular school which we thought might be suitable.

Almost immediately upon entering one of the classrooms, an energetic sixteen-year-old boy came running over to me. “I have a dvar Torah for you!” he exclaimed. “I’m all ears,” I replied, “go ahead.” “There is a Pasuk in Tehillim which we say as part of Hallel, ‘I thank You Hashem for You answered me and became my salvation.’ We repeat this phrase twice. But do you know why we say it twice?” After hearing the question and thinking about it for a moment, I realized that I had never even considered it. “That’s an excellent question!” I said. “Well,” the boy continued, “let me tell you the answer!”

“If someone came over to you and offered you an orange, what would you say?” Although unsure where the boy was going with this question, I went along. “Thank you,” I answered. “But what if someone came over to you and offered you an iPod; what would you say then?” Before I could get out a word, the boy continued, “I’ll tell you what I would say! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I would never stop saying thank you.

“Don’t you understand? That’s why we repeat this Pasuk twice. When Hashem took us out of Egypt and made us a free people, it was the greatest thing possible! It was like getting an iPod! So what do we say to Hashem in return? Thank you, thank you. We can’t stop saying thank you!”

Rabbi Gavriel Friedman
One Penny

עַל שׁוּם שֶׁפָּסַח הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל בָּתֵּי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בְּמִצְרַיִם

Because the Holy One, Blessed be He, passed over the homes of our forefathers in Egypt

If you were to be offered $347,000 or the value of one penny doubled every day over the course of thirty days, which one would you choose?

Let’s say you choose the penny. Now what if you would be offered $1 million or the value of the penny doubled for thirty days?

Still the penny? What if you would be offered $2.5 million or the penny? 4 million? 5 million?

If you’ve stayed with choosing the penny this long, you’re doing well.

One penny doubled for thirty days is: $5,368,709.12. Just imagine.

Pesach is a time when, like Hashem did in Egypt, we can make quantum leaps. It is the time when we can go above and beyond ourselves and achieve the exceptional. Yet, how can we practically achieve this? The answer is simple. In life, we tend to dream about the big and major accomplishments. Yet we cannot forget that it is the small, consistent things which grow over time and eventually add up to something we never imagined. One penny added up day after day is more than five million. And that’s just one penny.

Rabbi Avraham Schorr
What’s on your Mind?

אֶחָד מִי יוֹדֵעַ אֶחָד אֲנִי יוֹדֵעַ…

Who Knows One? I Know One…

As we conclude the Haggadah and reach the crescendo of the seder, one of the last recited refrains is that of Echad Mi Yodei’a. On the surface, this song seems to be relatively simple and straightforward. We all know that there is one G-d, two Luchos, three Avos, four Imahos and so on. It cannot be that the Haggadah is merely reminding us of these common knowledge facts. What place then does such a song have as we reach the highpoint and climax of the seder?

The answer is that Echad Mi Yode’ia is far deeper than it seems. It is placed at the very conclusion of the Haggadah because precisely then we have reached the highest of heights, and feel tremendously uplifted and close to Hashem. Imagine then if someone were to ask you, “Who knows one?” What will be the first thing which comes to mind? After an entire Leil Ha’Seder, permeated with sanctity and spirituality, our almost automatic reaction will be “Hashem.” That is the only answer we think of.

The same is with two. “Who knows two?” “Two Luchos,” we say. We do not respond to two or three or four, “I have two swimming pools, three cars and four houses.” We ask and answer such simple questions because we intend to highlight that these most fundamental concepts are so ingrained within us. When we think of “one,” “two” or “three,” all that we think about are these ideas.
Occupying our mind front and center with utmost clarity are these facts – there is one G-d in heaven, two Luchos, five books of the Torah and so on. There is nothing else on our radar after such an exhilarating and inspiring seder.

And now you can answer the ultimate question, “Who knows why we sing Echad Mi Yodei’a?” “I do.”

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