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Parashat Metzorah - Shabbat HaGadol - Passover

Dedicated in honor of our parents,

Eddie and Sarah Esses and Nissim and Norma Matalon

By Joe and Sylvi Esses

Parashat Metzorah / Shabbat HaGadol / Passover

A Prayer for Proper Speech

Speech reveals our inner selves and reflects who we are. Let us appreciate the gift of speech and use it wisely! The following beracha will help protect us from speaking or hearing lashon hara.

“Master of the World, may it be Your Will, compassionate and gracious G-d, that You grant me the merit today and every day to guard my mouth and tongue from speaking lashon hara and rehilut. May I be zealous not to speak ill of an individual, and certainly not of the Jewish people or a portion of it; and even more so, may I be zealous not to complain about the ways of the Holy One, Blessed be He. May I be zealous not to speak words of falsehood, flattery, strife, anger, arrogance, hurt, humiliation, mockery, and all other forbidden forms of speech. Grant me the merit to speak only that which is necessary for my physical and spiritual well-being, and may all my deeds and words be for the sake of Heaven.”

A few years ago, a couple in Bnei Brak was blessed with a new baby girl. After the baby was born, she would not stop crying and would not nurse from her mother or take any bottles. This concerned the head nurse, who looked in the baby’s mouth and discovered that her lip and tongue were attached. This was a very severe case of this particular deformity. The nurse set up a feeding tube to give the baby the necessary nutrients.

Right away, the parents discussed between themselves that though this was a tragic occurrence, it was from Hashem and clearly symbolic. Since the defect occurred in the baby’s mouth, they took it upon themselves to strengthen their shemirat halashon—guarding one’s tongue and vowed to be more careful and refrain from speaking lashon hara. They also took it upon themselves to learn two halachot a day of shemirat halashon and to make sure not to speak or hear lashon hara as a zechut for the refuah shelemah of their newborn baby.

The parents then researched who was the best surgeon to perform this complicated procedure to fix their daughter. The parents brought their baby to the surgeon for the appointment a week after they took it upon themselves to refrain from speaking lashon hara. The surgeon looked into the baby’s mouth. He looked and looked inside with a serious expression, not saying a word, which made the parents anxious. Finally, the surgeon said, “I really don’t know why you are here, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your daughter’s mouth. Her tongue and lips are perfect, exactly the way they should be.”

A Frightening Idea

Rabbi Frand brings down a frightening chiddush—idea from the Chovot HaLevavot. The idea is that if Reuven was to slander Shimon, it is said that all of Reuven’s mitzvot and merits that he accumulated up until that point will be transferred over to Shimon, and all of Shimon’s sins will be transferred to Reuven. The Chovot HaLevavot goes as far as to tell a story about how Shimon sent Reuven a fruit basket as a gift for Reuven saying lashon hara about him, to thank and repay Reuven for transferring all his merits over to Shimon.

The Chafetz Chaim discusses a particular minhag—custom in one of his books. It is customary in the Amidah to say a passuk that begins and ends with the first and last letter of one’s name in case he forgets his name when the Day of Judgement arrives, at least he will remember the passuk he recited thousands of times in his life. The Chafetz Chaim asks, “Will a person really forget his name?”

He explains that when someone goes to the Heavenly Court and is suddenly credited with a whole range of mitzvot and averot he did not commit, the angels will call him by the many names of those who slandered him and whom he had slandered. He will become so confused! The passuk will have the first and last letter of his name, to remind him of who he really is.

Linking the Generations

Rabbi Paysach Krohn relates a story about a father and son stuck in the concentration camps. It was the first night of Pesach, and amidst the son asked his father, “Do you think we will say Mah Nishtana – the four questions next year? I don’t know if we will be alive to say them.” The father replied with confidence, “No matter what Jews will be around to celebrate Pesach for all of time.”

The central part of the Seder is called Magid, which comes from the same root as the word Haggadah. Both mean to tell over. We are required to tell our children the story of Pesach. The Seder is a process we practice each year that links the generations! As Jews, we have been following this tradition from our fathers, who learned from their fathers, and so on, going back over 3,300 years.

This connection between father and son is of utmost importance, and it is this connection that Pharoah so badly wanted to destroy. Before the eighth plague of locusts, Pharaoh finally told Moshe to “Go and serve Hashem,” but without the children, to create a division between father and son. Pharaoh intentionally tried disconnecting the generations to prevent the sons from carrying on their fathers’ beliefs. Once the connection between the fathers’ observance of Torah and mitzvot was severed, it would be simple to integrate the sons into the corrupt Egyptian culture. Before long, they would intermarry, and eventually, the name of Israel and the Jewish Nation would chas v’shalom cease to exist.

This was the ongoing theme of nations throughout the ages, like the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Spanish, and the Germans. This theme has been repeated with the destructive objective of causing Judaism to become extinct. Therefore, we read in the Haggadah, “Vehi she’amdah lavotenu velanu—And this [Hashem] stood firm for our fathers and us.” It continues, “In every generation from that time on, there were those who would try and annihilate us, but the Holy One, Blessed is He, saved us from their hand!”


Dayenu recalls all the trials and tribulations that our ancestors went through when they left Egypt. Singing this, we realize how much we must appreciate and praise Hashem for everything He did for us every step of the way. The middle of the song focuses on the miracle of B’nei Yisrael’s Exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea.

“If He had split the sea for us but had not led us through it on dry land, Dayenu—it would have been sufficient for us! If He had led us through the sea on dry land, but not submerged our enemies in it, Dayenu—it would have been sufficient for us! If He had submerged our enemies in it, but not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years, Dayenu—it would have been sufficient for us!” And so on, up until the arrival at the Land of Israel and the building of the Bet Hamikdash.

What is the significance of this part of Dayenu? Would it actually have been sufficient if the Egyptians weren’t submerged? Tosafot explains this concept in Masechet Erchin 15a. He says B’nei Yisrael were not convinced at first that they were saved by this miracle. They were worried that just as they emerged on the other side of the sea safely, the Egyptians could have also emerged safely on the opposite side.

The commentary says it would have been sufficient “if the Egyptians had come out on the other side. B’nei Yisrael would still have been safe because they would have been separated from the Egyptians by the entire breadth of the sea.” Tosafot concludes that the Israelites did not walk across the dry seabed of the Red Sea, rather, they entered on one side, traveled in a semi-circle, and emerged safely further down the coast on the same side they entered. So, the whole purpose of entering the sea was to lure the Egyptian army into the sea so they could drown there. Hashem, in His incredible kindness, punished those who wronged the Jewish Nation, even though it would have been sufficient if B’nei Yisrael had just escaped. Dayenu!

Like the Plants in the Field

Hashem promised Avraham that the number of his children would be many like the stars in the sky and the sand of the beach. Additionally, during the Maggid portion of the Seder we say that Hashem promised that B’nei Yisroel would multiply “like the plants in the field.” Why does the passuk use this specific wording?

The Midrash says that the Jewish women of Egypt would go to the forest to give birth out of fear that the Egyptians would take away their babies. They would daven to Hashem to protect their children and then the mothers left them there. This analogy of “like the plants in the field” shows us the great kindnesses Hashem did for these children. He sent special angels to protect these babies. Also, each child was given two rocks, one with honey and one with milk to nourish them.

When the Egyptians would see these children in the fields, they would order their soldiers to kill them. Hashem orchestrated another miracle and the children sunk into the ground, disappearing. When the Egyptians searched and dug for the children they were nowhere to be found. When the babies were old enough, they grew out of the ground like plants! Then, as each boy looked like his father, they knew where to return home.

Rothschild Roots

Meir Anschel, founding father of the Rothschild family, served closely with Rabbi Zvi Hirsch of Chortkov. The evening of Bedikat Chametz, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh was cleaning his office and noticed that the 500 ducats he saved up for his daughter’s dowry was missing. Immediately, the Hirsch family blamed Meir Anschel despite Rav Hirsch’s trust in Anschel’s innocence.

The family pestered Rav Hirsch until one day the Rav told his former attendant what had happened. As soon as the Rav had finished speaking Meir Anschel said, “It’s true. I took the money. At this moment I can only return 200 ducats. I’ll repay the rest as soon as possible.” Over the next year, true to his word, he reimbursed Rabbi Zvi Hirsch the total of 500 ducats.

Truly, a few weeks before Pesach, a gentile woman hired to whitewash the Rav’s walls had stolen the dowry. Excitedly, she returned home to show her husband her fortune. After nearly a year, when the husband assumed the matter of the stolen dowry was forgotten he headed to a nearby tavern and bought a drink with one ducat (a noticeably large sum of money).” Drunkenly, he told the tavern owner that he had found the ducat.

After a couple of times of this strange occurrence, the villager coming to the tavern asking for change, the tavern owner suspected that the ducats had been stolen and alerted the authorities. The tavern owner was encouraged to cajole the villager to reveal the source of the ducats, and he did. Amidst a drunken state, the villager admitted that his wife had stolen the money and the remainder of the 500 ducats were buried in his backyard. The police investigated the matter and arrested the villager and his wife.

The following morning, the day before Pesach, the chief of police tracked down Rabbi Zvi Hirsch and returned the stolen money, explaining what had happened. Although the Rabbi was glad that the money had been returned, he was sorry he had suspected the innocent Meir Anschel. He traveled to Siniatin and asked Anschel why he admitted to a crime he never committed.

“I saw that you were very upset over the loss of the money and decided to reimburse you for the entire sum,” Meir humbly replied. Hearing these words Rabbi Zvi begged Meir Anschel to forgive him and returned the 500 ducats. Then, he blessed Meir Anschel with much success and prosperity. From that day on, Meir Anschel’s business boomed.

May we all appreciate everything that Hashem does for us throughout our lives because everything we have is a gift from Hashem. May we truly live the words of the praises we sing in Dayenu and have tremendous gratitude to Hashem for saving us from the Egyptians. May we always have hope and emunah, and never give up. May we always strive to make Hashem proud, and live, learn, and teach the Torah to our children and grandchildren for generations to come! Amen!

Chag Sameach!!

Rabbi Amram Sananes, written by Jack Rahmey

Discussion Points:

Are we familiar with the halachot of lashon hara?

Was there a time in our lives when we clung to hope?

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Le’ilui Nishmat…

Eliyahu Ben Rachel

Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Avraham Ben Garaz

Sarah Bat Chanah

Esther Bat Sarah

Avraham Ben Mazal

Shulamit Bat Helaina

Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Rahamim Ben Mazal

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther

Rafael Ben Miriam

Ovadia Ben Esther

Rav Haim Ben Rivka

Moshe Ben Mazal

Moshe Ben Yael

Yitzchak Ben Adele

Avraham Ben Mazal

Meir Ben Latifa

Chanah Bat Esther

Yaakov Ben Rachel

Malka Bat Garaz

Moshe Ben Garaz

Avraham Ben Kami

Yaakov Ben Leah

Mordechai Ben Rachel

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

Saadia Ben Miriam

Eliyah Ben Latifa Simhon

Margalit Bat Mazal

Ovadia Haim Ben Malaky

Rabbi Aharon Chaim Ben Ruchama

Luratte Bat Masouda

Esther Bat Menucha

Uri Ben Rahel

Rivka Bat Dona

Shalom Ben Zahra

Rachel Bat Sarah

Shalom Ben Zahra

Refuah Shelemah…

Rachel Bat Devorah

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