Parshas Tzav

ושמו אצל המזבח   ו:ג

This pasuk is describing the mitzvah of terumas ha’deshen, the daily removal of ashes from the mizbeiach and placing them on the floor right next to it.  The Gemara in Pesachim (26a) says that we also learn from this pasuk that the ashes remain assur b’hanaah.  It is prohibited to derive benefit from them.  Normally, once the mitzvah of a particular kadosh item is completed – naaseis mitzvaso – its prohibition falls away.  It is no longer forbidden to derive benefit from it.  (For example, blood of korbanos that has already been sprinkled on the mizbeiach, one is m’d’Oraysah allowed to use as fertilizer.)  This is a general rule: naaseis mitzvaso, the mitzvah has been completed so the item is no longer prohibited to use for personal benefit. Terumas ha’deshen, though, asks the Gemara, seems to be a contradiction to this rule.  The korban has already been fully burned on the mizbeiach – its mitzvah is done – yet the ashes remain forbidden for personal benefit!  The Gemara there answers that we find another exception to the rule of naaseis mitzvaso – either bigdei kohein gadol or eglah arufah – and we therefore apply the concept that we cannot learn a general rule from two examples of the same principle (shnei kesuvin ha’bain k’echad).

Reb Chaim Brisker holds that the rule of naaseis mitzvaso only applies to kadshei mizbeiach but not not kadshei bedek ha’bayis.  The reason, explains Reb Chaim, is that the rule of naaseis mitzvaso is not an inexplicable gezeiras ha’kasuv but a milsah d’sevara.  It is simple logic.  To understand the logic, it is necessary to understand the fundamental difference between the kedusha of korbanos, on the one hand, and that of the general Beis Ha’Mikdash estate/treasury, on the other.  Kadshei mizbeiach, korbanos and everything associated therewith, are kadosh l’mitzvaso.  In other words, the whole kedusha of a korban is in order to do with it the appropriate mitzvah pertinent thereto.  It being designated for the mitzvah of sacrificial offering is what generates its kedusha.  As such, once the mitzvah is done, the kedusha has been used up.  Since there is no further sacrificial mitzvah left to be done with it, it reverts back to being full-fledged chullin, a regular non-kadosh item.

Kadshei bedek ha’bayis, on the other hand, are not kadosh because of a particular mitzvah that needs to be done with them.  Even when an item of the general Beis Ha’Mikdash estate/treasury does have some mitzvah that needs to be done with it, that is not the source and cause of its kedusha.  Rather, what makes it kadosh is the fact that it belongs to Hekdesh.  Temple Treasury is a fully legal entity.  Kadshei bedek ha’bayis means that it belongs to Hekdesh, the Temple Treasury.  It is the statutory ownership of Hekdesh that makes the item kadosh.  Therefore, naaseis mitzvaso – its mitzvah having already been done – has no bearing on this kedusha.

This all being the case, it is quite difficult to understand why the Gemara had a kashya from terumas ha’deshen on the rule of naaseis mitzvaso.  If not for the pasuk of v’samoh eitzel ha’mizbeiach, what would we have thought?  That after it is fully burned, the mitzvah is finished and it is no longer forbidden to derive benefit from it.  Now, what is the pasuk telling us?  That there is still a mitzvah to be done with it!  You have to take from the ashes, put it on the floor next to the mizbeiach, and it has to remain there.  Terumas ha’deshen, then, remains with a mitzvah.  Its mitzvah is never finished.  So in what sense is it an exception to the rule of naaseis mitzvaso?!  On the contrary, it would seem to be completely in accordance with this rule.  It would have been permissible to derive benefit from the ashes if no more mitzvah would be left to do with it – as the rule of naaseis mitzvaso dictates – and the pasuk tells us that, really, there is a mitzvah left to do with it.  Namely, terumas ha’deshen.  So, again, in what way is it an exception to the rule of naasesi mitzvaso? Apparently, the answer is that the mitzvah of terumas ha’deshen is not that it has to remain next to the mizbeiach, but just to place it there.  Once that placement has been executed, there really is no more mitzvah left to do with it, and yet it remains assur b’hanaah.  This, then, is indeed an exception to the rule.

(Ed. note: If you listen to the recording of this shiur, you’ll hear that Rav Twersky presented this kashya and then opened the floor to the bachurim to offer an answer.  One of the bachurim offered the above answer.  It is pretty clear, though, that Rav Twersky seemed to hold that the mitzvah of terumas ha’deshen is not just to place the ashes next to the mizbeiach, but that they have to remain there; and that the above answer therefore does not suffice.  Rav Twersky seemed prepared to offer his own resolution, but in the end he refrained from saying anything further about the matter.  This is not surprising, as Rav Twersky often seemed reticent to proffer his own novel insights.) ~

Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim According to the Rambam

The Rambam says that the pasuk “zachor es ha’yom ha’zeh” is the source for the obligation to engage in sipur yetzias Mitzrayim (relating the story of the exodus) on the first night of Pesach (Hilchos Chametz U’Matzah 7:1). The Rambam then adds a word of elaboration and says that the mitzvah of “zachor es ha’yom ha’zeh” is akin to the mitzvah of “zachor es yom ha’Shabbos”. The Or Sameiach and others grapple with the question, in what way is the mitzvah of sipur yetzias Mitzrayim comparable to the mitzvah of zachor es yom ha’Shabbos?

Regarding the mitzvah, “zachor es yom ha’Shabbos l’kadsho”, Chazal make a derasha - which the Rambam cites (Hilchos Shabbos 29:1) - that this pasuk teaches us that we have an obligation to declare the importance and sanctity of Shabbos on Shabbos. The mitzvah is to talk about Shabbos on Shabbos. The mitzvah is not just to remember Shabbos, but to verbalize shevach, praise of Shabbos, on Shabbos. From this we see how the Rambam defines a mitzvah which is indicated indicated with the word zachor. Namely, that it indicates a mitzvah to talk about the day on that day. Now we understand perfectly well what the Rambam means when he says that the mitzvah of “zachor es ha’yom ha’zeh” is akin to the mitzvah of “zachor es yom ha’Shabbos”. The Rambam is saying that the mitzvah of sipur yetzias Mitzrayim is to relate, on the night of the 15th of Nissan, what happened on the night of the 15th of Nissan. That is very much like the mitzvah of kiddush which is to talk about Shabbos on Shabbos.

Reb Chaim Brisker is quoted as saying that, according to the Rambam, the mitzvah of reciting Hallel during the seder is not an additional mitzvah, per se, but is actually an integral part of the mitzvah of sipur yetzias Mitzrayim. This idea is also alluded to in the Rambam’s comparison of sippur yetzias Mitzrayim to Kiddush. Just as part of the zechirah of Shabbos is to declare the grandeur and greatness of Shabbos, so too, regarding the mitzvah to relate the account of the exodus, it is not simply a dry narrative that is incumbent upon us to convey. Rather, the mitzvah includes giving praise to Hashem for all the miracles that He did for us, and for taking us out of Mitzrayim, both physically and spiritually. ~

Second Cup/Ha Lachma Anya

Our minhag, which is in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch, has the filling of the second cup after Ha Lachma Anya before Mah Nishtana.  However, the Rambam puts the filling of the second cup before Ha Lachma Anya. What is the basis of this machlokes? The answer is that it is a function of yet another machlokes.  We have Yachatz right after Karpas.  The Rambam, though, puts Yachatz all the way after Maggid and the drinking of the second cup, right before Motzi Matza. Why do we break the matzah before Maggid?  It’s as the Mishna Brurah brings down from the Gemara, to fulfill both drashos of “lechem oni” – lechem sheh’onin alav devarim harbei – bread over which many words are said (meaning, maggid), and oni mi’lashon ani – poor – and the way of a poor man is to eat a prusah, a broken piece.  Our minhag, then, is to make the matzah into full-fledged lechem oni before we begin Maggid. That being the case, the paragraph of Ha Lachma Anya, according to our minhag, is an explanation for the action of Yachatz.  Why did we just break the matzah?  Because it needs to be lechem oni.  So Ha Lachma Anya is not part of Maggid; it is just an explanation for Yachatz which is a preparation for Maggid.  That is why we only pour the second cup after Ha Lachma Anya.  We recite Maggid over the second cup.  Since Ha Lachma Anya, according to our minhag, is not part of Maggid, we wait until after it to pour the second cup. According to the Rambam, though, that Yachatz only comes immediately preceding Motzi Matzah, it is obviously not possible to understand Ha Lachma Anya as an explanation of Yachatz.  Therefore, it must be that according to the Rambam, Ha Lachma Anya is in fact a part of Maggid.  Therefore, the cup over which Maggid is said must be in place before we begin Ha Lachma Anya.  That is why the Rambam puts the pouring of the second cup before Ha Lachma Anya. (Reb Meshulam Twersky) ~


“Remember, the first mitzvah of the seder night is simchas Yomtov.”



One of the occasions that I was able to get a glimpse into the depth of the devotion that my father had for his talmidim took place when I was seventeen years old. My father began giving a shiur right around the time that I was born, so this was about seventeen years into his teaching career. He mentioned to me, I don’t recall the circumstances of how it came up, that from the moment he accepted upon himself the task of being a rebbi to talmidim, he made a kabbalah (resolution) that he would do his utmost to always give a talmid the time that he needed. For a question in learning, a request for advice. Whatever it may be that the talmid felt he needed, my father resolved that he would not turn the talmid away. ‘So,’ I asked my father, ‘did you do it? Have you kept to this kabbalah and always given a talmid the attention he was seeking?’ ‘Yes,’ my father answered me, ‘with the exception of three occasions where circumstances simply did not allow me to do so.’ (Reb Avrohom Twersky).” “If I may, I would like to add that Rav Twersky would occasionally express his satisfaction with the questioning nature of his talmidim. For example, he once expressed his appreciation for the fact that many of the bachurim in his shiur would remain after the shiur was over to ask questions, despite it being time for lunch. He said to us, ‘Halevai that everyone would be like that!’ (Rabbi Matis Feld).

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