Tzav 5778


The Tur (430:1) explains why the Shabbos preceding Pesach is called Shabbos HaGadol. The Torah (Shemos 12:3) states that Klal Yisrael set aside their sheep for the Korban Pesach on the tenth of Nissan, which was four days before sacrificing it. The Bnei Yisrael left Mitzrayim on Thursday. Therefore, they sacrificed the Korban Pesach on Wednesday, which means that they set aside their sheep on Shabbos. Although the Mitzri’im’s deity was the sheep, it was a great miracle that they did not stop Klal Yisrael from sacrificing it. To commemorate this Neis, this Shabbos is named Shabbos HaGadol.
The Magen Avraham and Taz (430:1) point out that all other holidays are celebrated on the date of the month. Here too, the date (the 10th of Nissan) should have been distinguished, rather than the day of the week, Shabbos. Why is this different?
In addition, the Beis Yosef (ibid) asks, “Why aren’t all four days commemorated, since the miracle lasted for all four days until they sacrificed the Korban Pesach?”
Before answering these questions, another problem must be addressed. At Makkas Choshech (Shemos 10:22), Rashi explains that although the Pasuk seems to imply that the plague lasted only three days, in truth, it was six days long. Rashi then asks why Hashem brought the plague of Choshech. He answers that there were some rebellious Jews who did not want to leave Mitzrayim. Were the Mitzri’im to see Hashem punishing them, the Mitzri’im would say that the Jews are also getting plagued, just like us. Therefore, Hashem made the Makka of Choshech so that He could kill these Reshaim without the Mitzri’im noticing.
The Pnei Yehoshua (cited in Kuntres Moriah, Nissan 5752) asks, why did Rashi need to preface his question by stating that the plague was six days long? Also, why did Rashi only ask this question regarding Makkas Choshech, and not with all the other Makkos? Furthermore, he notes that at the end of Makkas Choshech, on the eve of the 14th of Nissan, Pharaoh summoned Moshe to tell him to stop the Makka and to leave immediately. Later during that same meeting, at Chatzos, midnight, Moshe told Pharaoh that tomorrow (the 15th of Nissan), at this same time, Hashem will kill all the firstborn Egyptians. The Gemara (Brachos 4a) says that Hashem killed the firstborns at midnight of the 15th of Nissan. It comes out that the last day of Makkas Choshech was the 13th of Nissan. According to this calculation, Choshech, which was six days long, lasted from the 8th through the 13th of Nissan and was in progress over Shabbos. If so, he asks, what was the big miracle of Shabbos HaGadol? The Mitzri’im were not able to see the Jews anyway as they were setting aside their sheep on the 10th of Nissan, due to Makkas Choshech!
He answers that there was no need for Choshech on Shabbos, because, as Rashi explains, Hashem brought Choshech only so that the Mitzri’im should not see Jews dying and others being busy with their burial. Since on Shabbos it is forbidden to bury the dead, Choshech was unnecessary that day. The Makka, therefore, only lasted three days prior to and three days following Shabbos.
Rashi can now be understood as follows: When questioning the purpose of Makkas Choshech, Rashi was in fact answering the Pnei Yehoshua’s aforementioned question. If Choshech spanned six days, including Shabbos, what was the miracle of Shabbos HaGadol? To answer this, Rashi explains that since the reason for Makkas Choshech was so that the Mitzri’im should not see Jews dying, there was no need for Choshech on Shabbos. Therefore, it was a miracle that although the Mitzri’im could see, they nevertheless did not stop the Bnei Yisrael from setting aside the sheep.
Perhaps the original questions can now be resolved. The reason Shabbos – and not the 10th of Nissan – is commemorated is that the Neis occurred precisely because it was Shabbos. Had it taken place during the week, it would not have been a miracle, since the Mitzri’im could not have seen what was happening in any event.
This is also why only the first day of the miracle, Shabbos, is celebrated. In reality, there was no Neis on any other day, because Makkas Choshech was in effect then, preventing the Mitzri’im from seeing the Jews.


Taking the Stress out of Pesach Preparations

The Kitchen (cont.)
Instant Hot: this too, should not be used for 24 hours prior to the Kashering. Pour boiling hot water, then cold, on top of the unit. Then run the hot water through it for 10 seconds, and it is ready for Pesach.

Microwaves and Dishwashers: these are two appliances that are very difficult to Kasher properly and should not be used on Pesach. A basic microwave oven is relatively inexpensive and if you need to use one for Pesach it is best to just purchase one for Pesach. Contact a competent Rav for further details on these two items.

Utensils: It is best to have a separate set of cooking and eating utensils solely for Pesach use. Another option is to use disposable dishes and pans for Pesach. These are relatively inexpensive and probably the easiest to deal with. If one must resort to Kashering Chametz utensils, a competent Rav should be consulted, as the Kashering process varies depending on the particular item.

Refrigerator and closets: After removing all non-Passover foods from the refrigerator, clean it the way you normally would. Wipe the shelves and drawers clean with a damp cloth, making certain that there are no crumbs. Since these are used only with cold foods, they are not required to be covered.

Things around the house
There are some items in the house that tend to attract somewhat more Chametz. Toys, for example, should be checked, and if possible, washed before Yom Tov. Alternatively, one can leave out some inspected toys for Pesach, and put away the rest in a taped-off area to be sold for Pesach. Briefcases, pocketbooks and backpacks should also be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed out. Pockets of overcoats and children’s pockets (even their regular clothing pockets) should be checked and vacuumed out if necessary. Clothes that were washed with detergent do not need their pockets checked, because the only Chametz left there would be inedible.

Outside of the house
Cars are Chametz magnets. Even if you will not be using your cars over Yom Tov, they have to be Chametz-free, just like the rest of the house. (Unless the Chametz is sold to a non-Jew through a Rav, it may not be opened the entire Pesach.) Make sure to do a proper cleaning of your cars before Bedikas Chametz. If you have a Shtender in shul, it must be cleaned out as well, as should tallis bags. Your office or workplaces are also places where you bring Chametz, so they must be cleaned well.

Selection of Lesser known Chol HaMoed Halachos

Davening: On the first night of Chol HaMoed, right after Yom Tov, one must remember 4 changes in Shemona Esrei:
a) Discontinue משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם (Nusach Sfard says מוריד הטל).
b) אתה חוננתנו in the 4th Bracha of Shemona Esrei, as the first step of Havdalah.
c) Substituteותן ברכה (for the first time) in the 9th Bracha of ברך עלינו.
d) יעלה ויבוא in רצה
Some people mistakenly think that Maariv of Chol HaMoed is like Rosh Chodesh, where missing יעלה ויבוא in Maariv does not invalidate the Shemona Esrei. This is incorrect. On Chol HaMoed, this omission does invalidate the Shemona Esrei. Therefore, in the previous list of changes, either c or d can invalidate any Shemona Esrei, and onlyאתה חוננתנו is not מעכב.
• It is a Mitzvah (preferable conduct, but not an obligation) to have 2 bread (Matza) meals every day of Chol HaMoed.
• If one does not have any physical difficulty in drinking aרביעית of wine and eating meat, one should do so each day of Chol HaMoed, at least once a day.
• When possible, one should wear Shabbos clothes, or at least clothing that is better than regular weekday clothing.
• Car repairs should not be done, unless waiting until after Yom Tov will cause a loss.
• Gardening should not be done, even by a gentile gardener. Even watering plants should not be done. If a loss will occur, all these activities are permitted.