MARCH 22, 2013

NISSAN  11, 5773


Candle-lighting Time: Fri 6:54 pm, Mon 7:00 pm, Tue (not before) 7:58 pm


This week’s Sparks of Torah is dedicated in the merit of a refua shlema for Alta Chana bas Nechama, amongst all the members of the Jewish People in need of a speedy recovery.



  • The last time to eat chometz is Monday morning 11:02 am, and to get rid of chometz, 12:03 pm.
  • Enjoy the matzah, and then the pizza! TJE is auctioning off the first Brooklyn Pizzas after Passover is over Tuesday night on eBay,
  • Last chance at winning $1000.00. Give $10 in March thru Dec. and for a 1 in 99 shot at the prize money. Hurry, ends March 31st.


Save Me From the Chametz

Over the last few weeks I received quite a few thank you cards for the Mishloach Manos baskets of food we gave to friends on Purim. When you receive a thank you card for something, it really shows you how much the person appreciated what you did. It made me feel great. I was tempted to write thank you cards for their thank you cards.

In Parshas Tzav, the Torah introduces a very special type of offering that was brought in the Tabernacle—the korbon toda, an offering of thanks. It was a very unique offering for several reasons. For one thing, it was only brought by someone who had been in a dangerous situation, like a serious illness or a difficult journey, and then been healed, saved or returned to safety. At these moments of salvation, we bring an offering of thanks to G-d.

The thanksgiving offering included forty loaves of bread of different types (although neither turkey, stuffing nor cranberry sauce went with them). Ten of these loaves were regular chametzdik challahs, i.e. leavened, and the rest were unleavened matzos of different sorts. Although the matzah may sound like the strange part, the challahs were actually the unique ones. With very few exceptions, Temple offerings never contained chometz, as it says explicitly in this week’s parsha.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the Tabernacle had to be kept Passover clean all year ‘round. (Could you imagine all that shelf paper?) It just means that the flour offerings didn’t have chometz in them.

Chometz is symbolic of oppression, as the word is used in Psalms (71:4) “…[save me from the] chometz.” (An oft quoted verse this time of year.) Matzah, on the other hand, is the bread of salvation, as we know from the Passover Seder. So why do we bring these two things together as a korban toda?

The Otzer Chaim explains with a significant idea from the Talmud. It’s easy to give thanks for the nice things that we’ve received, but it’s also appropriate to be thankful for the other stuff, too. Just like we make a blessing on the tov, good, we make a blessing on the ra, bad. When we bring an offering of thanks, there are two parts, the chometz and the matzah, because we know that ultimately, though we may not understand it in this lifetime, everything that happens is for the good.




We live in a world of specialties. When I was a kid your parents took you to a GP when you were sick. Today he is called an internist. If you called a store to ask about a product you spoke to one of the workers. Today after you answer all the automatic prompts, you are connected with a customer specialist. In a world of specialists, what defines the Jewish people as being special?

Maybe you will question the premise. Are we special?

Firstly, despite all the wear and tear that we have sustained, we are still here. Not just living as transients. We have rebuilt, with Hashem’s help, our communities after they were virtually destroyed during the war. Although we suffered losses in the millions, we have thousands and thousands of youngsters, teenagers, and adults studying Torah on every continent! We can never replace those unfortunate lost souls, but we can memorialize their dedication to Hashem by contributing to our nation in their memory as they would have certainly done if they would not have been murdered by a hideous enemy, the Nazis, their name should be blotted out forever.

We have outlived every major world power that has existed, from the mighty Egyptian empire to the Third Reich. Kings and emperors have ruled and been deposed, yet we remain and our ideals and philosophies are as pertinent and eternal as ever. As of this writing, thousands of Jewish households throughout the world are busy preparing for Pesach.

On Pesach the entire creation renews itself. We, too, as a nation, were created during this period when we were rescued from the clutches of Pharaoh, and we renovate ourselves and recommence at this time every year as well. We strive to eradicate those diversions that interrupt and disturb our peace of mind. As we rid our homes of chometz, we concurrently remove the ‘chometz’ from our hearts and souls and prepare to enter the period preceding Shavuos with a new state of mind.

To appreciate the dedication to Hashem that we as a people possess, let us examine the initial process of the exodus. Moshe commanded the nation to take a lamb, slaughter it and then sprinkle its blood on the doorposts and lintel. Can we imagine such rebellion against the nation that kept us captive for generations? We took lambs in preparation for this mitzvah and when our Egyptian captors questioned our motives we unequivocally responded that we intended to slaughter them and use the blood for the sake of serving Hashem. Would we have the strength to do the same thing?

The resounding response is that we would do it, and so have our parents and grandparents for many generations sacrificed their very lives when put to the test. This formidable and vigorous energy within us was bequeathed to us by Avraham when he was put to the test with his son Yitzchak. This is the same Avraham who accepted the challenge from Hashem that we would be submitted to subsequent difficulties and yet we would overcome those obstacles and build a nation that would be glorious and magnificent.

This is perhaps best summed up with the mitzvah of the Afikomen. The taste of the bread of affliction which also symbolizes the bread of freedom, devoid of all extraneous ingredients, remains in our mouths the entire night. Even when we experience the weight of exile and the darkness of oppression, we recall our miraculous deliverance and look forward to the dawn when we will witness the revelation of Hashem’s greatness, the recital of Shema, our acceptance of Hashem’s inimitable supremacy.


Joke of the Week


A Question for the Rabbis

The Jews in Egypt obtained sheep for their Passover offering, and although this was extremely offensive to the Egyptians due to their veneration of sheep, miraculously there were no reprisals against the Jews. This miracle is commemorated on the Shabbat preceding Passover. As the Code of Jewish Law states, “The Shabbat before Passover is called Shabbat Hagadol (the Great Sabbath) because of the miracle that occurred on that day” (Orach Chaim 430:1). A rabbi was asked what practical outcome arises from this ruling of the Code of Jewish Law. The only “law” that is stated here is that the Shabbat is called “Shabbat Hagadol”! The answer he gave is that there is significance even in the terms we use to describe a day. The way we speak is not only an outcome of what we think, but also affects how we think. Jewish law tells us to describe this Shabbat in a specific way, in order to impact our thoughts about that day.



Although we were enslaved in Egypt, we endeavored to retain as much of our heritage as possible. We did not change our names, our mode of dress or our language. We were not fully absorbed into the culture of the land.  The lesson for us is that we must always maintain our distinctiveness as Jews despite the imposing ‘standards’ that surround us.