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OnegShabbosNorth West London's Weekly Torah and Opinion Sheets
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23rd April 2016 "
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5. In the Torah it is called Chag hamatzos. Why then do we call it Pesach?
LESSONS FROM OUR TEETHRabbi Jeremy GolkerHead of Kodesh, Hasmonean High School
How many teeth should an adult have? The answer is 32; 16 lower teeth and 16 upper teeth. Strangely, this seemingly arbitrary fact, is highly relevant to Pesach.
I once heard Dayan Yehonoson Hool shlita cite a fascinating observation of the Rokeach. The Rokeach explains that the number of teeth we have is not by chance. The number 16 is significant in two areas. 16 is the minimum number of korbanos offered in any week in the Beis Hamikdash (the two daily temidim and two mussafim on Shabbos). 16 is also the minimum number of parshiyos/aliyos in any week (7 on Shabbos and 3 on each of the leinings on Monday, Thursday and Shabbos afternoon).
This represents the two functions of the mouth; to eat and to speak. Chazal refer to the offering of korbanos as achilas mizbeach. Eating keeps body and soul together. Speech should also be elevated and productive.
Seder night is full of mitzvos involving the mouth. We eat and speak. We eat matza and maror and in the past we would partake of the korban pesach. We also fulfil the mitzvos of sipur yetzias mitzrayim and hallel with the mouth.
Perhaps that explains the strange reply to the rasha. Hakeh es shinav, knock his teeth out, is a highly unusual response. Perhaps we are telling the wicked son that he is not using his teeth for what they were meant for: elevated eating and speech. He neither eats in order to live as he should and speaks no refined words of Torah, so of what use are his teeth?
Rabbi Pinchos Roberts shlita often quotes the Shelah HaKodosh that the way in which a sedra falls throughout the Jewish year is not a coincidence. The proximity of a certain sedra to a Yom Tov is not by chance.
The sedras of Tazria and Metzora invariably fall around Pesach time. What is the connection?
The medrash at the beginning of sefer Shemos tells us that Moshe was wondering why Klal Yisrael of all the nations were singled out for slavery and persecution in Mitzrayim. Once he heard people speaking lashon hora, he understood. Achein noda hadavar.
The Gemara in Arachin (15b) says the remedy for lashon hora is to speak words of Torah.
This is symbolised by the metzora taking birds (which chirp and twitter) and kills one and releases the other. The metzora kills his negative speech and instead uses it productively.
But refraining from negative speech is not enough.
A person suspected of having tzaraas was quarantined for one week and kept away from his family and friends. Because tzaraas was a punishment for lashon hora, the ordeal brought shame with
it as well. After one week the person was re-examined. If, at that time, the Kohen determined that the blemish was not tzaraas after all, the person would go free.
It would seem that in such a case there has been a miscarriage of justice! An innocent person has suffered; shamed and separated from the community for seven days, seemingly for no reason.
The Imrei Emes zya (the third Gerrer Rebbe) explains that in fact, it was not for nothing. The false alarm was a punishment in itself, not for forbidden words that have been spoken, but for positive words that had been
Not speaking loshon hora is not enough, we need to speak more loshon hatov, using our power of speech to compliment, praise and thank people.
Rabbi Berel Wein shlita tells the story of when he once had a speaking engagement in an out of town location somewhere in America. After his talk, he went to the local kosher restaurant. To his amazement he recognised the man slicing the salt beef behind the counter. It was Moshe who had been in yeshiva with him many decades earlier.
Moshe! exclaimed Rabbi Wein, I cant believe its you. What are you up to?
Moshe explained that hed been working at the restaurant for years.
Rabbi Wein couldnt hold himself back. But they said about you that you were the next Rav Aharon Kotler! You were the ilui of the Skokie yeshiva in Chicago!
Really said Moshe, They said that about me?
Moshe paused and then said: So why didnt they tell me?
What a terribly sad story. Potential unfulfilled. We have an obligation not just to desist from lashon hara but to speak positively. To thank, build and compliment. And to speak words of Torah.
That is the connection between the sedras of Tazria and Metzora and Pesach. To move away from negative speech and use our mouths for a more elevated purpose, as we do on Seder night.
TIME 4. There are many things on the seder night that have to do with the number four. What
are they and what is the significance of them being seen in the number four?
NFREE SPEECH AND PESACHRabbi Dovid RobertsRav, Kehillas Netzach Yisroel & Director of Education, Federation
Chazal offer several reasons why the holiday of Pesach is so named. One explanation offered by our mystical tradition is that Pesach is a contraction of the two words Peh Sach, the mouth converses. This was to reverse a situation where speech itself was considered to have been in exile!
As we scratch beneath
the surface, more speech
connections emerge. The
catalyst for our descent into
Mitzrayim was the episode
of Yosef Hatzadik bringing
negative reports of his brothers
to Yaakov; Moshe acknowledges
the justice of our enslavement
when he encounters loshon hora in Egypt (Rashi Shemos 2:18); Our
chief protagonist was someone whose name can be rearranged to read
Peh Ra bad speech; We were tricked into slavery by the deceptive tactic
of Peh-rach soft speech. No wonder Moshe demurs, declining to act as
our liberator, offering as a reason that he is incapable of oratory he is
! Indeed, we find that there is an emphasis on communication
unique to Pesach: The Torah instructs us to tell our children about the
departure from Egypt and children ask the Four Questions. The matza
is known also as the bread upon which we
respond and recite many things. Why this emphasis on speech on
The Targum translates the key phrase in the Creation narrative
And Man became a living soul as And Man became
a speaking being, giving expression to the idea that integral to our
humanity is the capacity for speech. To articulate is not merely a means
of aiding clarity of thought, but a sophisticated system of connecting
to another person through articulating the subtleties and nuances and
shades of emotion that we may be feeling revealing the inner-self.
This is light-years beyond the various forms of communication that the
animal kingdom employs. Ingenious though many of them are, they are
primarily functional. Hunting, breeding, surviving and avoiding danger
are their priorities. Our creativity, and ability to communicate abstract
concepts is unique.
Rav Yitzchak Hutner ztl writes that at creation, being given the ability
to reason and choose, distinguished mankind from the rest of living
creatures. The freedom of choice is an elevation from acting based on
need and instinct, and only man has freedom of choice. That which
clearly indicates the existence
of this freedom is the power
of speech. Only man is able
to speak, to clearly express
Pesach is the time when we
became a Nation, no longer
individuals, but a collective,
charged with representing
Hashems vision for improving
ourselves by following his plan
and serving and emulating
him. The imperative for speech
to be enabled was thus critical
at that juncture. The awesome
responsibility that comes with
it must always be uppermost in our minds. Used correctly, the energy
of words creates connections between people. Relationships flourish,
develop and deepen. The negativity unleashed however, by abusing
this essentially human ability is unfathomable. The toxic and corrosive
power of improper, thoughtless or slanderous speech is evident to all
right-thinking individuals. And that is without delving into the deeper
meaning of speech, the medium through which we create and sustain
the spiritual dimensions through our Torah and Tefilah which must be