Story with Rav Avrohom zt”l

On Motzei Shabbos, I along with someone else stayed in Rav Avrohom’s apartment to watch it as the Rav and Rebbetzin went out. Upon their return, I made plans with Rav Avrohom to visit someone. We went over the instructions including the correct taxi needed to take. I and the person I was with went on the route and didn’t exactly get to the destination without hassles and delays. Nonetheless, we made it back to the apartment later that night. Rav Avrohom asked how it went. We didn’t want to go into all the details, but we did sort of hint that we encountered some complications in getting there. He responded – “So you arrived, and you made it back – Baruch Hashem.'” With confidence he stated the main point – that Hashem took care of the journey and we made it there and back.

Rabbi Binyomin Adler – Pesach and How to Succeed in Torah

We begin the Haggadah with the words הא לחמא עניא די אכלו אבהתנא בארעא דמצרים כל דכפין ייתי ויכול כל דצריך ייתי ויפסח, this is the bread of poverty which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat. Whoever is in need, let him come and celebrate the Pesach. Rav Moshe Shternbuch, shlita, in his classic Modaim Uzmanim (Volume 3:254), wonders why this proclamation is unique to Pesach. Do we not have an obligation on every festival to invite the poor and the hungry? Rav Shternbuch answers that the Vilna Gaon points out that it is said (Shemos 13:6-7)  שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תֹּאכַל מַצֹּת וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי חַג לַי-ה-וָֹ-ה: {ז} מַצּוֹת יֵאָכֵל אֵת שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה לְךָ חָמֵץ וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה לְךָ שְׂאֹר בְּכָל גְּבֻלֶךָ, for a seven-day period shall you eat matzos, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival to HaShem. Matzos shall be eaten throughout the seven-day period; no chametz may be seen in your possession, nor may leaven be seen in your possession in all your borders. Why does the Torah repeat the injunction to eat matzos for seven days? The Vilna Gaon explained that the first command is that every individual should eat matzah for all seven days. The second command, however, states יֵאָכֵל, that one should ensure that others have matzah to eat for the entire Pesach. Thus, it is specifically on Pesach where we are required by the Torah to feed others. Yet, this still does not explain why we are specifically required to invite guests to the Pesach Seder (See Rav Shternbuch’s suggestion for an answer).
We can suggest an alternative answer to this question. It is clear that this invitation is not the classic invitation to invite a guest for a meal, as we are already past Kiddush and we are not chasing down people on the street who require a meal. Rather, we are declaring that those who are hungry, i.e those who wish to live a Torah life, should come and eat. The MIshna (Avos 6:4) states כַּךְ הִיא דַּרְכָּהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה, פַּת בְּמֶלַח תֹּאכַל, וּמַיִם בִּמְשׂוּרָה תִשְׁתֶּה, וְעַל הָאָרֶץ תִּישַׁן, וְחַיֵּי צַעַר תִּחְיֶה, וּבַתּוֹרָה אַתָּה עָמֵל, אִם אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה כֵן, אַשְׁרֶיךָ וְטוֹב לָךְ. אַשְׁרֶיךָ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְטוֹב לָךְ לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, this is the way of Torah, eat bread with salt, and drink measured water. Sleep on the earth, and lead a life of distress, and toil in the study of Torah. If you do this, you are fortunate and it will be good for you. You will be fortunate in this world and it will be good for you in the next world. Thus, the author of the Haggadah is stating here that if one is hungry, i.e. he is willing to maintain a state of never being full, he should adopt the Mishna’s method of pursuing a life of toil in studying Torah. The word ויכול, besides its literal meaning of eating, can also be interpreted to mean conquest, as it is said (Devarim 12:16) לֹא תוּכַל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ, and Rashi explains that this means that one is able to but is not allowed to. Similarly, here we say that if one takes an austere approach to Torah study, then ייתי ויכול, he will be able to and he will succeed in the toil of studying Torah. It is noteworthy that the first letters of the words כל דכפין ייתי ויכול and the first letters of the words כל דצריך ייתי ויפסח equal in gematria 40, which is an allusion to the Torah which HaShem gave to Moshe after spending forty days on the mountain.
Pesach is the genesis of our freedom, which culminates in Shavuos, the celebration of our receiving the Torah. When we sit down to the Seder, we commence the proceedings by declaring that the proper way to achieve success in Torah study is by living an ascetic life and then one will truly have attained freedom.

From HaGaon Rav Avrohom Genechovsky zt”l

I once called Rav Avrohom before Pesach and asked if he could share a d’var Torah. He told me that if you take the words hamez and mazzah as they are spelled in the Torah, they practically share the same letters except that the hey of mazzah and chet of hamez have a slight difference. The hey (ה) doesn’t quite connect to the top whereas the chet (ח) fully connects. Therefore the difference between hamez and mazzah is a miniscule protrusion of space. He said that in life the difference between living a life of hamez or mazzah is comparable to the minuscule opening that exists between the letters; teaching that through miniscule action one can transform his existence.

Rav Avrohom told me a drash in relation to Pesach that I believe has relevance to Rosh Hashana and all holidays. He said regarding the words in the Haggadah, Rebbi Yehudah haya nossen bo simanim, desach adash ba-achav. He said that the word desach comes from the words desa u’rena; merriness, adash, refers to the lentil bean that Esau sold his birthright for and ba-achav, if broken into two words would mean ba chov, the debt will be repaid. The explanation of the drash is that one who engages in worldly happiness and merriment similar to the type that Esau did will have to repay the debt for such conduct (perhaps it may be said all debts may be released year to year on Rosh Hashanah).


Rabbi Orlowek on Cleaning the Soul

The Kotzker Rebbe had a famous thought when discussing Teshuvah. Often our eyes look at the wrong things. How then do we avoid looking around at our environment and become ensnared in seeing the wrong things? The Kotzker says to be involved in Torah “Beiyun.” Learning Torah in great depth,using all the faculties of the mind, prevents the eyes from roaming as the mind is so preoccupied and it brings real Teshuvah. (How appropriate at a time such as Pesach where we are trying to eliminate all the Chametz from our being). Rabbi Orlowek recommends to write the main points you learned in a sugya on an index card before you finish. This way you can take it with you and continually review it in the “street.”

Important Insight By Rabbi Frand – From A Recent Video I Heard

Isra”el” and Ishma”el”both embody G-d’s name (“el”). This is a frightening proposition! If Yishmael contains Hashem’s name within it, how are we supposed to beat them? The answer must that we can’t only match them in their strengths, but we must surpass them. What are the strenghts of Yishmael? The first is tefillah. Hagar prayed to G-d and an angel assured her of safety and a future generation. It’s no coincidence that Yitzchak who was the first prototype to battle Yishael came from the exact place that Hagar davened when he went to beseech G-d with prayer. Secondly, Yishmael has the natural inclination of Mesirath Nefesh. Throughout history, they wiped out Jews with barbaric tactics. Today it manifests itself in the form of suicide bombers. How can we counteract this? What is our Mesirath Nefesh that is necessary? Well Nefesh doesn’t only mean “body” – it also means “ratzon” desire. We must place G-d’s wishes before our desires. It must be “He” before “Me.” To win, we need prayer and the placing of G-d’s will before our own.

An Unexpected Surprise And Moving Story With Rabbi Nagen (Genack)

Today Rabbi Nagen (Genack) came to the OU office to visit as he is in from Israel. My uncle and I were overjoyed. He brought his new sefer, Nishmat HaMishna, with him. He told us a moving story – that on the Friday night before Dafna Meir a”h was murdered, he gave a drasha on the importance to not let time “machmitz” – elongate – but rather to take action and effectuate change immediately. The next morning Dafna Meir a”l told my cousin that his “drasha” had a great impact on her and that she now adapted such a stance realizing the need to take action immediately with the knowledge that every moment counts. Indeed, for the last full day of her life she mastered the moment and must have lived every moment to the fullest. (How many of us even contemplate this in our lifetime?) The next day she was murdered. Rabbi Nagen dedicated the book to a few people and she was one of them.