Or just click on this: Pesach posts
May Hashem please grant us all a Pesach that is truly kosher & overflowing with joy.
"Instead of stinging nettle, myrtle will rise" (Isaiah 55:13)
"Instead of evil, good will rise." (The Malbim's Interpretation)
For previous Pesach posts (including recipes), please either click "Pesach" under "Categories" in the sidebar (which, if using a phone, will be at the end below & not the side).
Or just click on this: Pesach posts
May Hashem please grant us all a Pesach that is truly kosher & overflowing with joy.
Let Rav Itamar Schwartz of Bilvavi help you get practically & spiritually ready for Pesach:
Please click on any image above to access its PDF for free download.
Please note: Rav Itamar Schwartz lovingly opposes all forms of the Internet & has no connection to the Bilvavi website.
Rav Schwartz has no more connection with the Bilvavi website than Rav Kanievsky ztz"l did with all the websites that post videos & quotes of him.
For more explanation, please see the Disclaimer here:
Here is some biographical information on Rav Itamar Schwartz (copied from here: bilvavi.net/back-issues/eng/Bilvavi_234_Shemini_Taking%20Shelter_5782.pdf):
The Rav attended the Pachad Yitzhak Yeshiva of Rav Yonasan David, Shlit"a and graduated from the Ponovitch Yeshiva of Rav Gershon Edelstein, Shlit"a.
Yesterday, a frum man in his late 20s sat down to eat his lunch near where my husband sat.
He invited my husband to a Torah shiur (class) he gave every Monday night at Tzomet Pat in Yerushalayim. (My husband couldn't recall more information than that—not even his name—I'm very sorry. But if you're in that area Monday night, maybe you'll get lucky and find it.)
Giving a weekly Torah shiur comprised part of his self-improvement program after his brush with death around 6 years ago.
This is what he told my husband...
Meeting Malach Hamavet, Plus Being Put on Trial
At around age 22, this young frum man was racing down the road at around 240 kph/149 mph—for no other reason than the reckless thrill of it—when he crashed into a cement barrier.
His soul left his body and he hung around in the air for around 15 minutes, watching the ambulances arrive & the paramedics fight to bring him back to life.
Then he found himself face-to-face with an terrifying black figure sporting a head shaped like an upside-down artichoke covered with eyes. Two big eyes looked out from the front of the head and the rest of its head was covered in eyes, like the pattern of artichoke leaves covering the artichoke.
It was Malach Hamavet—the Angel of Death.
(BTW, Judaism does hold a tradition that Malach Hamavet is covered with eyes.)
Two dogs accompanied Malach Hamavet, along with many other black figures.
(Interestingly, in Tehillim 22:17, David Hamelech pleads with Hashem: "For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me..." and in Tehillim 22:21: "Save my soul from the sword; my only one from the grip of a dog"-- yechidah, translated here as "only one" is also another name for the soul.)
Grotesque and terrifying, Malach Hamavet started challenging the young man: "Why did you do this? And what about this? And this-and-such?"
The young man could not answer because you cannot lie (not even tepid excuses or accidently-on-purpose passive-aggressive stuff) in the World of Truth.
He knew he lacked real justifications for the accusations of Malach Hamavet.
Then Malach Hamavet and his frightening escorts took the young man through different worlds, where he saw angels with wings, until they arrived at the Beit Din shel Maalah (the Heavenly Court).
The young man could not see the judges.
Also, family members who'd already passed on stood in the background, but were not allowed to approach him.
(Meaning, they weren't allowed to help or defend him.)
In general, he was finding the whole experience terrifying beyond imagination.
The Beit Din was about to deliver their verdict when the young man's deceased rav showed up.
(Rav Yazdi, a disciple of Rav Kaduri.)
Rav Yazdi brought a little boy before the Beit Din, who testified that this young man assisted with a kimcha d'Pischa organization (a project to collect & deliver kosher-for-Pesach food to any Jews in need prior to Pesach).
"Because of him, I had what to eat on Pesach," concluded the little boy.
With that, the young man found himself whisked out of the Heavenly courtroom & woke up in his physical body.
Fortunately, he embraced his second chance and straightened out the lax parts of his Torah observance, upholding the mitzvot with renewed enthusiasm.
The Importance of Chessed, Tzedakah, and a Connection with a Real Rav
It helps to see how the chessed we do really does matter.
Sometimes, religious girls' groups or schools go to help at a food bank or collect clothes & items for a gemach, and many other chessed activities.
Boys collect for their yeshivah, help out with kimcha d'Pischa, etc.
Many of us have engaged in such projects.
It feels more like a lark, a social activity, but it really means something in Shamayim—as shown clearly in the true story related above.
Also, connecting to a real rav helps. We hear these stories and they feature truly special rabbanim (many times, chassidic Rebbes of yore—but apparently, any real rav helps!).
Who we choose to follow matters.
A rabbi with good intellect (and maybe also charisma, plus enthralling oratorical skills), but lacking in middot and true spiritual greatness, will not be the one to come rescue you as you stand before the Beit Din shel Maalah.
(I mean, after all, we never hear stories in which a regular Rabbi Ploni Almoni intervenes.)
Furthermore, even after Rav Yazdi passed away, the young man still considered Rav Yazdi "his" rav.
So apparently, as long as you still consider yourself a talmid or chassid of that rav, his merit helps you.
We should also say Tehillim/Psalm 22 with a LOT of kavanah (heartfelt sincerity)!
And finally...don't drive recklessly!
Going through the Me'am Loez always provides inspiration, interest, and knowledge.
For a previous post describing the Me'am Loez, please see:
For example, the Me'am Loez's Pesach Haggadah originally appeared as part of the book of Shemot/Exodus, published in Constantinople in 1734 by Rav Yaakov Culi.
But when translating the Me'am Loez into English, they decided to publish the Haggadah as its own separate volume—an astute & helpful decision for those of us who wish to use a handier version of the Haggaddah. (The entire book of Shemot of the Me'am Loez is massive.)
Rav Aryeh Kaplan translated the Haggadah directly from the original Ladino, including consultation with Rav Shmuel Yerushalmi's Hebrew translation.
For Ashkenazi readers, Rav Kaplan also included the Ashkenazi customs in parentheses & italics when they differ from the Sephardi customs, making the Haggadah accessible to all.
Reading centuries-old texts written for both regular people and scholars provides so much insight & mussar, in addition to a better understanding of Judaism & its laws.
The Beauty of Spilled Wine
In the translator's preface, Rav Kaplan notes the wine stains found on the Haggadah pages of the original editions of the Me'am Loez's Sefer Shemot.
This provides evidence for the active use of the Me'am Loez's Haggadah during the Seder itself.
But can you imagine how the people 300 years ago perceived such spills?
Printing was much more laborious back then. Only wealthy bibliophiles kept shelves & shelves of books in their homes.
Whenever possible, Ladino-speaking Jews strove to acquire a set of the Me'am Loez. Others needed to settle for a public reading of it.
Back then, chatanim (grooms) received a set of the Me'am Loez, similar to today's custom of gifting the chatan with a set of Talmud Bavli.
One can imagine the disgruntlement of people who now faced a wine-stain on their not-so-easily replaceable & highly prized volume of Sefer Shemot of the Me'am Loez.
Yet those very stains provide the heart-warming & valuable evidence that, yes, this Haggadah was in active use and not just a bookshelf trophy.
Little did they know back then that Hashem wanted their wine to splash onto the Haggadah pages to provide us with cherished evidence & connection 300 years later.
This knowledge also granted me comfort (and prevented a scowl) when my own small child placed his soupy hand right in the middle of page 108, where Rav Culi explains about the afikomin.
Because the soup contained generous amounts of turmeric & because turmeric acts as a yellow dye, my own Me'am Loez Haggadah also provides evidence of use during the Seder—making us part of this unintentional but long-standing tradition associated with the Me'am Loez Haggadah.
So Rav Kaplan's preface enabled me to feel good about the pattern of yellow finger-stains rather than miffed. (Also, if I really wanted to, I could access a new copy of the Me'am Loez Haggadah with a lot more ease than 300 years ago.)
Everything really does happen for a reason—a good reason!—including Seder stains on a Haggadah.
How to Make a Cup of Water...
Reading the sections on how to get ready for Pesach and how to make perfectly kosher matzahs highlights how complex things were before so much of kashrut and the domestic sphere received a hi-tech upgrade.
In fact, producing kosher matzahs sounds nearly impossible and reading the directions makes me wonder how anyone managed such a feat prior to the modern era—yet they clearly succeeded.
Even routine acts we take for granted today (like drinking a cup of water) involved a whole process.
Water from public wells needed to be boiled to kill germs. It also needed to be strained to remove bugs & worms.
Even water from a relatively clean private well needed to undergo straining to make it bug-free for drinking.
That process occurred all year 'round, not just for Pesach.
The Challenges of Children & Pesach
Making Pesach with small children proved as much as a blessed challenge in the 1700s as today. (Maybe more?)
As Rav Culi writes (pages 192 & 225):
"One must be particularly scrupulous in a house with small children. They walk around carrying bread and breaking it into small crumbs. Sometimes they throw around more than they eat."
Couldn't have described it better.
Clearly, the rav knew exactly how things go in real families.
Rav Culi then recalls a case of which he had personal knowledge, in which a small child threw a piece of bread into a Pesach pot full of fat being rendered for Pesach.
No one realized what had happened until the child himself spoke up.
Rav Culi ascribes the revelation to the merit of the family, which clearly devoted themselves to the mitzvah of ridding their home of chametz. Such devotion earns "help from on high."
Rav Culi states (page 225):
"God had mercy and the child told his mother, allowing the family to avoid the prohibition of chametz. But certainly, they might have eaten chametz that year."
The practical side of me wonders what they did with the pot, what happened with all that fat, and how they remedied the situation.
Back then, people used rendered fat in place of oil or butter.
Purchasing oil for Pesach back then was no easy feat either and needed to be planned 6 days in advance. It could mean they were stuck without fat for the duration of Pesach, unless they had oil too. Likely, they bought, borrowed, or received kosher-for-Pesach fat or oil from someone else.
If Rav Culi personally knew about it, maybe he even helped them out himself.
Something's Funny with the 17th-Century Honey
While food purists like to romanticize the quality of food before mass production, mass regulation, and mass kashrut supervision, it wasn't always better.
For example, Rav Chaim Benveniste (1603-1673), the author of Knesset HaGedolah & chief rabbi of Izmir/Smyrna, decided to investigate whether the honey sold in the marketplace was really kosher for Pesach.
After all, it's simple straight-forward honey, right?
Trustworthy people informed him that to remove honey from its comb, merchants sometimes used hot water.
This meant that the honey sold in jars wasn't necessarily pure honey, but a somewhat watered-down version.
This also presented a problem for those who did not want any water with their matzah or matzah flour (AKA gebrochts).
Furthermore, the rav also discovered that many honey merchants mixed their honey with flour or starch to make it thicker. The merchants explained how difficult it was to remove honey from its comb without hot water, which thinned the honey. So they admitted to thickening it back up again with flour or starch.
However, in the market place, the honey looked like regular pure honey and was also sold as such.
Yet it was actual chametz! Who would've guessed?
Based on the above, Rav Benveniste warned against the use of commercial honey on Pesach.
He only permitted honey still in the comb that never underwent any kind of tampering.
We see from this the problem of commercial foods without regulation or supervision.
Also, while I've no idea if people then realized the digestive problems associated with issues like Celiac and the like, but buying honey without realizing it contains flour or starch can cause health issues in some people.
I also wonder about the addition of unsifted flour into the honey; without sifting, flour easily contains worms & bugs.
Furthermore, we also see how the dedication to the laws of kashrut revealed that, even for non-Pesach use, the product sold in bottles as pure honey was actually a concoction of honey, water, and flour or starch.
Though it required more labor, one imagines that people may have ended up purchasing honey comb throughout the rest of the year too in order to get their real money's worth, in addition to accessing the purer, healthier option of flourless/starchless honey.
These are a Few of My Favorite Things...
Many Jews today feel challenged by Torah Laws today, but we see out of His Compassion for our weakened state, Hashem has made things SO MUCH easier for us.
Compared to 17th-Century Constantinople, much of the more demanding aspects of halacha are a skip in the park.
It's also a big chessed that in most modern homes, we can drink all the water we need without giving a thought to underground bacteria or bugs or filth.
Even if we're concerned about other things in the water, options exist to purify our water even more.
Not to mention the ease & relative safety of purchasing bottled water from a store.
We also tend to rely on labels from reputable companies stating that the honey within is pure honey—and even the source of the honey (wildflowers, avocado flowers, orange blossoms, etc.).
We rely on the majestic boxes of shemurah matzah and their regal hechshers for our Seder needs.
Kosher-for-Pesach nosh & fresh fruits & vegetables now exist for children up to and including Pesach.
Hardly anyone renders fat anymore. A variety of oils and sometimes even schmaltz itself stand at attention on the shelves of local supermarkets.
(And sure, a piece of bread tossed into a cooking Pesach pot would still cause a mini-crisis, but one more readily remedied in our times.)
We know that stains of wine or soupy turmeric on our commentary-filled Haggadahs provide cherished evidence of the unbroken chain of meaningful Pesach Seders.
May Hashem please redeem us completely with compassion so that we may experience a genuine era of Geula & joy.
I got caught up in Pesach preparations, and kept meaning to say something about it, but didn't get around to it.
Or I wrote a post, but didn't managed to finish it.
Stuff like that.
I also just found out that we in Eretz Yisrael are changing clocks tonight, which is terrible timing—Erev Pesach.
We lose an hour, plus Leil HaSeder gets pushed back later.
Also, I hate Daylight Savings Time. It always feels so unnatural to me. The days naturally grow longer on their own, so why push it to the limit? In times like these, I wish I was Satmar because they don't follow Israeli government dictates—including changing clocks.
You need to be aware of this if they invite you to a wedding in the summer so you don't come at the wrong time.
And you see that Satmar has the right idea because a real Jewish government would never allow a change of clocks to fall out on Erev Pesach.
(Also, another good thing about Satmar was their Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum ztz"l. He was fabulous.)
I've often fantasized about not changing my own clocks & living within my preferred time while the rest of the country saves its daylight...which would mean things like taking my son to school by 9:30 am instead of 8:30 am.
I can't see that working out well.
Anyway, back to Pesach...
Even if you only managed to read this after the Seder, it's still worth checking out Rav Avigdor Miller on Pesach because he makes lots of excellent points in his usual witty way that apply all year 'round:
Also, here are Myrtle Rising Pesach posts, including recipes:
Chag Kasher V'Same'ach!
I'm very grateful to the fabulous person sends me Bitachon Weekly every week.
(You can also subscribe to it by emailing a request to:
In the Parshat Vayikra 5781 edition of Bitachon Weekly (around page 19), the writer recalls when he asked a tzaddik what inner work to focus on throughout Pesach, and the tzaddik answered to focus on 3 things:
Pesach is an ideal time to work on humility.
The whole idea of deleting puffed-up chametz & replacing it with flat, humble matzah plays a starring role in Pesach preparations and during Pesach itself.
Mitzrayim (Egypt) was a place of gaavah (pride, arrogance).
Moshe Rabbeinu embodied the epitome of humility.
So focusing on bitachon & humility help us leave Mitzrayim in our times!
Humble people do not get angry because they know Hashem orchestrates everything—and that He orchestrates everything for each person's best benefit.
So a truly humble person sees no need to feel angry over anything.
A truly humble person feels no fear or anxiety or desire to manipulate events to his perceived advantage—all of which lead to lying.
A humble person feels no need to raise himself by denigrating others.
A humble person feels no satisfaction or gloating over the flaws or suffering of others that leads to lashon hara.
Rav Yechezkel Levenstein recommended learning Chovot Levavot/Duties of the Heart during Pesach because that really helps people feel Hashem. (The chapter entitled Shaar HaBitachon/Gate of Trust especially helps.)
A unique concept in Judaism is that Hashem does not judge us by results.
He only judges us on effort.
In other words, you don't need to succeed in order to succeed.
You only need to try.
One Navordak Method for Pesach
One Navordak method is:
This means, for example, if you love overeating matzah spread with butter, you refrain from eating it once a day.
When you feel the urge to surf online for no reason or check your social media for the ninety-eighth time, you refrain once a day.
If you feel the urge to make a critical remark, you say something nice instead.
If you feel like getting angry, you bite your lip (or restrain your hands or feet) and say, "Ein od bilvado" or "Gam zu l'tovah" instead.
If you feel like mentioning something on Shabbat or chag that is not in the spirit of the holy day, you keep silent or bring up something from the parshah.
Once a day.
As always, these baby-steps MATTER.
Don't let people convince you they don't.
They definitely matter.
Rav Avigdor Miller, Rav Itamar Schwartz, the Navordak mussar, and other great people...they all emphasize the importance of baby steps.
It's not me saying this; it's them.
May we all merit a Pesach that is truly kosher and joyous!
Here are some Bilvavi links to get us in a Nissan state of mind:
"The special ability in the month of Nissan is identified as the power of speech/'sichah'."
The astrological sign associated with the month of Nissan is Taleh/Lamb/Ram/Aries.
The Tribe associated with Nissan is Yehudah.
NEW! (Regarding COVID-19)
Also, Bilvavi recently published a new collection of translations of the transcripts of the lectures of Rav Itamar Schwartz!:
(12 pages—it also discusses the covid-19 saga)
A Friendly FYI to subscribers who sometimes receive posts on Shabbat: The delivery service (FeedBurner) is completely automated. There's no control over when the automation sends posts (which is why sometimes you'll receive 3 posts in a bulk or a post on Shabbat). So even though I neither write nor schedule posts for Shabbat, it still comes out that way sometimes due to the bots.
Before we go to Rav Avigdor Miller's dvar Torah for Parshat Bo 4 – Take for Yourselves Sheep, we need some background.
Ancient Egyptians felt toward sheep similarly to how the culture in India feels about cows: reverence.
Furthermore, the astrological sign of Nissan is Taleh/Aries—a lamb.
Nissan is considered the first of the months, so that makes Taleh/Aries the most powerful sign, and highly esteemed by ancient Egyptian idol-worshippers (Kli Yakar).
Ancient Egypt looked down on shepherds—yet another reason to despise Am Yisrael, a nation of shepherds whose greatest holy men worked as shepherds at some point.
Rabbi Dovid Kass at Neve Yerushalayim once described the dynamic of taking the pascal lamb and slaughtering it at that time as similar to a Jew burning the Nazi flag in front of the Nazis during the Holocaust.
So when we read about Am Yisrael taking the pascal lamb & slaughtering it, we need to understand the powerful context in which it occurred.
The Egyptian Demand for Safe Spaces!
With the above in mind, Rav Miller explains on page 5 about the Egyptians:
And a terrible idea began to enter their minds: “Who knows what these depraved people are going to do to these sheep! They certainly don't worship them. Oh no! Could it be that it’s true what we’ve heard that the Hebrews do horrible things; they didn't do it in public, but secretly we hear that they eat sheep! The Hebrews are preparing for a sheep massacre!”
It kind of recalls today, with all the morality written in the Torah that so many people find so offensive today.
You can picture the more activist & diplomatic members of Am Yisrael back then bending over backward to explain their controversial attitude toward sheep to Egyptian society in strenuous attempts to make shepherding & lamb chops more palatable to Egyptians.
Or the renegades of Am Yisrael who stand up & say, "I ALSO revere sheep! Even though our ancestors roasted lamb & shepherded sheep & made delicious cheese with their milk, many people find that offensive today. Just the phrase 'braised lamb chops' triggers some people—how can we not be sensitive to that? Let's make safe spaces for sheep & those who worship sheep. We need to progress with the times!"
I don't know if anyone did, but they sure would today.
Anyway, this whole mitzvah caused tremendous anxiety for Am Yisrael.
Looking back, we know nothing happened during those tense days.
But Rav Miller notes that in real time, Am Yisrael lived in dread of mass pogroms & genocide carried out by triggered Egyptians.
The Value of Mishchu: It Protects Us from Getting Lost
Rav Miller emphasizes that Hashem not only wanted Am Yisrael to take the sheep for holy slaughter, but to make a demonstration of it.
He explains this on page 6 by using a modern-day example (Toras Avigdor gave it a very witty title: "Concealed Carry"):
It’s like the person who buys a lulav, and he’s traveling on the bus.
If you think about, this display of holy spiritual backbone must have been great preparation for freedom.
Such a display breaks the slave mentality.
Interestingly, Rav Miller states that all those who refused to pull the sheep through the streets (rather than taken them quietly, disguising them, or taking them somewhere else for slaughter)—they ended up lost to the Jewish people.
Rav Miller brings more modern-day examples of this (page 7):
It’s like the Orthodox Jew who wears a big beard.
Rav Miller ends that particular chunk of mussar with some very sobering food for thought (page 7):
That’s the lesson of mishchu; it means that if you're interested in being redeemed from Egypt, if you don't want to be destroyed when the destroyer passes over the land, you'll have to be willing to stick your neck out for Hakodosh Boruch Hu.
The Struggle to Maintain a Torah-Based Identity
While we accept today that Am Yisrael kept their core identity in Egypt, we also know that we were redeemed for 3 aspects:
Yet Rav Miller notes that Egyptian culture influenced Am Yisrael in other ways.
He compares the length of time Am Yisrael remained in Egypt to a Jewish family in America from 1770 to 1980.
(Or in the current time, from 1811 to 2021.)
The fact is that Jew arrived in America in 1811 and before.
Yet where are those families now?
So Rav Miller notes that whatever Am Yisrael preserved of their core identity, wisps of Egyptian culture still seeped in.
The whole episode with the pascal lamb helped uproot these wisps from the hearts of Am Yisrael.
Rav Miller again uses a modern example (page 9):
It’s like the shomer Shabbos Jew who walks out of his house on a Sunday morning and he's happy; it's so peaceful and quiet.
Authentically Kosher Jewish Humor
The idea Jewish humor is well-known.
(After I became frum, life became so much funnier; there was more opportunity to find things amusing; I thought maybe it was just me, but others said it too: Life becomes more amusing when you become frum!)
Yet despite our ready humor, Judaism frowns sternly on leitzanut: mockery, ridicule, joking around, making fun, and the like.
In modern society—in which leitzanut earns you popularity, likes, retweets, and even money—this utter contempt of leitzanut sounds strange.
Yet even leitzanut can be used for holy purposes: to fight avodah zarah—idolatry, the occult. Rav Miller includes in this definition: wrong ideas, wicked ideas, and lies.
And that's exactly what Rav Miller does on page 4:
That’s the way of the Torah when it speaks about idols; it degrades them.
How to Live Forever
I didn't write much on my own in this post. Most of it end up copied 'n' pasted from the PDF.
I couldn't help myself. It just flowed like that.
So let's end with this final idea (in Rav Miller's own words yet again), which applies so strongly to us today, wherever we live, especially in this oppressive darkness of cancel culture:
You know, when you have to fight back against the public so you gain a certain hardiness.
Thank you very much to Toras Avigdor for helping us be proud Jews. All credit for quotes & material go to them.
Don't forget to check out their practical tip on page 15!
In the Pesach Haftarahs, it's possible to see our current situation reflected in our current situation, either what is happening or what we should be doing.
The First Day of Pesach
On the first day of Pesach, we read Joshua 3:5-7; 5:2:15; 6:1; 6:27. (HERE is a summary.)
It refers to Am Yisrael leaving the regular world and entering Eretz Yisrael. It's not totally theirs yet, however.
Anyway, the luxury of manna ceases, which kind of reflects our situation now, in which many of us are making do without our usual level of material comfort this Pesach. Many of us did not manage to get new clothes or even the supplies we need for Pesach.
Personally, I was not able to get more pots for Pesach. So for meat, I ended up with just a large pot, 2 medium pots, and a frying pan. And then another a frying pan for dairy.
No Pesach oven either, but I've never had one and that's okay.
I really wanted to get more pots – a couple of small ones and at least 1 really big one – but oh well. I'm making do.
Thank You, Hashem, for disposable pots in the plastics section of the supermarket!
Many of us, both before Pesach and during, were & still are making do without ready-made food or eating out or ordering out like we're used to.
So that's the end of our manna for now. We're making do with "the grain of the land" instead of the delectable & easy manna. Just like Am Yisrael back then.
Before they enter the Holy Land, Bnei Yisrael either gets circumcised (for those who didn't before) or improve their original circumcision.
And that's also happening for many Jews now: Many are "circumcising" their hearts by either keeping Shabbat or other mitzvot for the first time or, if they're already mitzvah-observant, improving on what they're already doing.
And if they aren't, then reading the Haftarah gives them some pretty good advice: Get real with your Yiddishkeit! Excise that arlah!
As usual, Erev Rav was still bothering Am Yisrael, according to Rashi on Yehoshua 5:9. They were vexing or taunting them about being taken out with the star Ra'ah, which also symbolizes blood. (HERE is what the Kli Yakar says about it.)
Based on its blood association, the Egyptian astrologers predicted disaster for Am Yisrael under this star, made this prediction public, and everyone started ridiculing Am Yisrael for jumping from the frying pan and into the fire.
The Egyptians started it, and the Erev Rav continued it.
What they didn't know, however, was that the blood seen by Egyptian astrologers was the blood of circumcision.
So by circumcising (or improving the circumcision), that shut up all the leitzim (mockers & detractors), including those within Am Yisrael's ranks.
This is very symbolic of what's happening today.
The powerful & progressive surrounding culture misinterprets events & science, they mock authentic Torah Judaism & the Jews who adhere to it, and the Erev Rav (who seem just like any other Jew) follow & imitate the biggest bully instead of Hashem.
Yep, that reflects today's world pretty accurately.
And because of the mass circumcision, many people in Am Yisrael aren't feeling so good in Chapter 5 of Yehoshua. Many also died before. And so the whole Am is waiting in solitude for their fellows to recover.
Kind of like now.
And finally, in Yehoshua 6:1, we have a city shut down.
Yericho is "sogeret u'misugeret – shut & barred." Yericho is closed from within and from without, according to the commentaries.
In other words, Yericho was in bidud – quarantine.
The Second Day of Pesach
The haftarah for the second day of Pesach continues HERE with major teshuvah going on in Melachim II:23 under the reign of King Yoshiyahu.
In this haftarah, people burn all their addictive non-kosher hi-tech gadgets and got rid of all the self-proclaimed leaders leading them even deeper into sin and confusion, and turn to their real talmidei chachamim instead.
Oops, I mean that they burn all their idolatrous addictive items and get rid of the pagan priests who offered incense to Baal & led the people astray.
The Jews also rediscover the Torah and experience a spiritual re-awakening.
Hopefully, with Jews in Eretz Yisrael preparing for Shabbat on the second day of Pesach & Jews outside of Eretz Yisrael continuing to celebrate the chag as they go into Shabbat, there is some healthy spirituality going on (even if things are also understandably stressful).
And King Yoshiyahu is like many Jews today in that if you go back a few generations, he comes from good people. But his grandfather Menashe and his father Amon committed terrible transgressions.
Yet King Yoshiyahu got in touch with his real self, his neshamah, and reached back past his father & grandfather to connect with his real roots.
He made himself great and managed to influence Am Yisrael too.
And then on Shabbat, the dry bones of Sefer Yechezkel come to life.
May Mashiach please come already.
Rav Shlomo Binet, a dayan (rabbinical judge) in Belz Chassidus, has come out with a series of lectures regarding current preparation for Pesach.
He states that this year, we must invest our primary spiritual & physical energies in our children, who are at home with us and who need our best efforts in middot & supervision.
Rav Binet warns that the harm done to the children now (if we focus our energies on non-halachic cleaning, rather than on the children's needs) can produce negative consequences that last far longer than the current situation.
Therefore, we are not to do more cleaning than halachically required.
He offers the following directives due to the current circumstances:
Rav Binet recalls how the holy former Rebbe said that they ate chametz as usual on Shabbat Hagadol (the Shabbat before Pesach) on a regular tablecloth.
After Shabbat ended, they shook the tablecloth to make the crumbs fall to the ground.
Rav Binet wishes to remind everyone that chametz smaller than a k'zayit (around the size of a golf ball) is nullified "k'afra d'ara – like dust of the earth," as we say in the chametz-nullifying prayer during Bi'ur Chametz (burning of chametz).
One is even allowed to see chametz smaller than a k'zayit (because it has been officially & spiritually regulated to the status of dust).
In addition, Rav Binet explains that most of the closets & cabinets of the home can be sold to a non-Jew, using only those that are absolutely necessary (and cleaned from chametz).
The most important point, says Rav Binet, is to take care that the home atmosphere is one of calm & tranquility, to find fun activities to do with the children, and to enjoy the children, even during these unusual circumstances sent by Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
Rav Binet ended with these heartfelt wishes:
"With blessing that we will hear good news, salvation & comfort, that the disease of corona will disappear completely, and that we will soon merit the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days, Amen."
The original Hebrew article is found here: www.hidabroot.org/article/1136305
Here is more info about the measure of k'zayit (size of an olive): https://dinonline.org/2019/05/28/kzayis/
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