Tag Archives: Pesach

Exodus: Salvation or Transformation?

Everyone likes a story of an underdog succeeding, a happy ending after a difficult struggle. There are usually two variations on the theme. One is that of personal transformation, overcoming personal difficulties and becoming a better individual. Another is salvation from a bad situation. The former is about personal change and the latter is about a person emerging from suffering. The Talmud (Pesachim 116a) prescribes that the beginning of the...

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How Much Matzah?

R. Mordechai Willig calculates the preferred minimum amount of matzah to eat, i.e. the size of a ke-zayis. This is, by necessity, based on approximations and averages. Here is how I understand his steps: 1. According to measurements in Israel, the average size of a contemporary egg is 50 ccs. (The majority of classical authorities do NOT double this size.) 2. Measurements have shown that an egg’s volume decreases by 10% when the shell is removed, which leaves us with 45 ccs.

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Women and Reclining

As we tell the Exodus story during the seder, we teach about our freedom not only verbally — through reciting the text of the Haggadah — but also actively, including reclining at key places. Women, who are obligated in the various aspects of the seder, do not recline in many Ashkenazic communities. Why would they refrain from this, alone among the obligations of the evening?

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Idolatry and Tradition

The source of idolatry, among the gravest offenses a religious person can commit, lies atop a slippery slope. It comes not from a search for multiple deities and not even from an abandonment of the one true God. It’s origin lies in a deeper, more basic deviation. Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Avodah Zarah 1:1) explains the historical origin of idolatry. ...

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Judaism and Women’s Changed Status

Women’s roles and opportunities have changed dramatically in the past century and some have called for halakhah to recognize this new situation. Women now have greater financial independence. They can choose from almost any occupation and even no occupation, opting to remain at home. Women often hire household help who free them from cleaning and cooking. Such a different daily existence calls for a reevaluation of women’s halakhic status, some would say, acknowledging the historic changes.

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Me-Am Lo’ez: The Lost Translation

I. Standard Translation Psalm 114 is very familiar because it is part of Hallel, the group of Psalms recited liturgically on holidays, Rosh Chodesh (beginning of the new month) and at the Passover seder. The first verse has an unusual word that is surprisingly translated universally the same despite the availability of an alternate, and arguably preferable, translation. בצאת ישראל ...

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Mishing

I. Mishing There is a practice among some to refrain from eating at the home of others on Passover (what I believe some call “mishing“). While it is difficult to pin down a label of permissible or forbidden on this practice, I was wondering whether this custom is proper or not. It seems to imply that other people are insufficiently ...

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The Barebones Seder

People from families where passages from the Haggadah are skipped during the Seder need to know what is absolutely required. I’ve never seen it spelled out explicitly except in regard to soldiers. Here is the relevant parts from what R. Nachum Rabinovitch advised soldiers who are in an emergency situation (Melumedei Milchamah, no. 83): On the Seder night there are ...

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Where’d You Put The Shampoo

When I was newly married and a recent arrival to Brooklyn, someone in my synagogue asked what I do on Passover about a certain product. I quietly confided in him that my rabbe’im followed lenient views and I do not observe all of the stringencies mention in R. Avraham Blumenkrantz’s The Laws of Pesach: A Digest. The gentleman laughed and ...

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Hillel, Bnei Beseira and Passover

Meiri, Introduction to Avos (Seder Ha-Kabballah, pp. 54-57): The story is told in the Talmud (Pesahim 66a) that the elders of Beseira were the nesi’im (religious heads) in the land of Israel and were known as leaders in Torah teaching. It is said about them that once they forgot whether the Passover [sacrifice] take precedence over the Sabbath or not, ...

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