KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
Pesach and Shabbat Shemini
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs
All times listed are NY
For worldwide times on the web please visit my website
If anyone still needs to sell their Chametz, follow the
instructions on the above website.
The search for Chametz is Tuesday night, April 7th after
The Blessing on the Sun Birkat Hachamah should be said
by 9:42 a.m. April 8th. The latest time is 12:57.
The blessings are Barcuh Atta Adonai Eloheinu Melech
Haolam Oseh Maasei Breishit. Baruch Atta Adonai Eloheinu
Melech Haolam Shehechiyanu V’kiymanu V’higyanu Lizman
Chametz may be eaten until 10:47 a.m. Wednesday, April
Chametz must be burnt or sold before 11:52 a.m. Before
11:52 one must declare “All Chametz (leavening or
leavened products) in my possession are hereby null,
void, and without owner like the dust of the earth.”
Pesach extends from the night of April 8th through April
16th at 8:18 p.m. April 9th, 10th, 15th, and 16th are
Tefillin are not worn the entire week according to the
Because Shabbat follows immediately after Yom Tov, we
have a special Mitzvah called Eiruv Tavshillin. A Matzah
and a boiled egg should be taken by the head of the
household sometime Wednesday. The blessing Baruch Atta
Adonai Eloheinu Melech Haolam Asher Kid’shanu B’mizvotav
V’tzivanu Al Mitzvat Eiruv should be recited followed by
the declaration “By this Eiruv it will be permissible
for us to cook, bake, light candles, and carry on Yom
Tov for the sake of Shabbat.”
Candle lighting is 7:09 on Wednesday
Please endeavor to include as many Jews as possible in
the Pesach Seder both nights.
The Kabbalah teaches that the Matzah of the first Seder
is the bread of faith and the second Seder is the bread
Thursday during Musaf we stop praying for rain and begin
to pray for dew throughout the summer.
Candle lighting Thursday night is after 8:10 from an
Counting the Omer begins Thursday night. Every night
until Shavuot we count the days after nightfall. The
blessing is Baruch Atta Adonai Eloheinu Melech Haolam
Asher Kid’shanu B’mizvotav V’tzivanu Al Sefirat Ha’omer.
On Thursday night we say today is one day of the Omer.
May the All Merciful return to us the Temple service in
it’s place speedily in our days. Amen. Selah. On Friday
night we say the blessing and count today is two days of
the Omer etc. Next Wednesday we count today is seven
days, which are one week of the Omer etc. Next Thursday
we count today is eight days, which are one week and one
day of the Omer etc. If the Omer wasn’t counted at
night, we count during the day without a blessing.
Thereafter, we continue to count with a blessing. If we
miss an entire day, we continue to count without a
blessing. To receive a daily reminder via e mail,
contact me at
For a lengthy discussion of counting the Omer, please
visit my website
The Seder has a lesson for
each of us in our lives. Mitzrayim (Egypt) represents
limitations and boundaries. In our lives, it represents
our inhibitions and obstacles that prevent us from
reaching our goals. Pesach is the time Hashem gave us to
rise above our obstacles. The way to do so is Matzah.
Matzah is the bread of humility. It has the same grain
and nutritional components of bread, but it doesn’t
rise. What is the true meaning of humility? Faith.
Humility is not ignoring our accomplishments or
abilities. It is recognizing that these are gifts of G-d
and we must question if we have used His gifts to the
utmost. Moshe was called the humblest of all men. Didn’t
he know that he was the ultimate prophet and redeemer?
Of course he did. He saw these as G-d’s gifts. Had they
been bestowed on someone else, they would have done a
better job. Matzah is the bread of faith. Humility is
recognition that everything comes from Hashem. That is
the key to overcoming impediments. We aren’t working
with our powers we are working with his. Matzah is the
bread of faith. When we are imbued with ego, we are
plagued with grief for everything we think we deserve.
Humility teaches us gratitude which is the foundation of
In merit of faith may this Pesach be the celebration
of the final redemption with the coming of Moshiach who
will heal all of the wounds of Galut (exile).
Chag Kasher V’sameach
Shabbat Chol Hamoed
Candle lighting Friday is before 7:10 from an existing flame.
Shabbat ends 8:12
This Shabbat is very special in
that it comes as part of three days of continuous sanctity, Two
days of Yom Tov and then Shabbat. Three represent a Chazakah, a
continuing bond of sanctity that permeates the days thereafter.
This Shabbat we read about the giving of the second tablets.
After begging Hashem’s forgiveness for the Jewish people for
having made the golden calf, Moshe asked that Hashem show him
His glory. (Moshe’s goal was not a selfish one. He knew that by
rising to a higher spiritual plane, he would be able to share
his spiritual wealth with the Jewish people.) The Rambam
explains that although Hashem has no physical form, Moshe wanted
to reach the pinnacle of human awareness of Hashem. Hashem
acceded to his request. From this we see a powerful lesson. By
begging for forgiveness for other Jews, although they were
involved in lust, idolatry and violence, Moshe was elevated to a
new spiritual plane.
This is reminiscent of a story of the third Lubavitcher Rebbe,
The Tzemach Tzedek. The Tzemach Tzedek studied a great deal
under his grandfather, the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur
Zalman of Liadi. Even after his grandfather’s passing, he would
appear to him and answer his questions in Torah. One time, his
grandfather had not appeared for a long time, causing the
Tzemach Tzedek great anguish. The Tzemach Tzedek was on the way
to synagogue and a poor man asked for a loan, because it was a
market day. The Tzemach Tzedek told him to meet him after
prayers. After entering synagogue and going through spiritual
preparation for prayer, the Tzemach Tzedek donned his Tallit. He
then thought that he was wrong for delaying the loan. In the
interim, as the Tzemach Tzedek was praying, the man could be
making a living. He took off his Tallit, went and got the money,
and sought out the man in the marketplace. (One can only imagine
the distraction of such a Tzaddik searching the marketplace
before prayers.) When he returned to synagogue, and again donned
his Tallit, his grandfather appeared to him and explained all of
the questions the Tzemach Tzedek had saved since their last
meeting. He then explained to him the tremendous spiritual
heights one can reach by doing a fellow Jew a physical favor and
certainly a spiritual favor.
The Haftara describes the prophecy of Yechezkiel when Hashem
brought him to a valley of dry bones and told him to bring them
back to life. Upon doing so, Hashem told him that the dry bones
represent the Jewish people.
Many parts of our life can be represented by dry bones. Often,
when we pray, or do another Mitzvah, it is without life. We say
the words and go through the motions, but they are without life.
We help poor people or study the Torah, but it is without life.
Hashem is telling us to arise and feel the beauty of every
Mitzvah we do.
This also applies to our relationships with our friends and
family. The Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Shneerson, once
said that a Shalom Aleichem used to be a heartfelt greeting.
Now, in the greeting there is a hint of when are you leaving
already? We need to put life into our dry bones. A kiss good
morning to our children, a hello, must be full of life.
Through our breathing new life into our dry bones, may Hashem
speedily grant the coming of Moshiach and the resurrection of
Tuesday night Sefirah is 6 days of the Omer
NY City Candle lighting Tuesday 7:15 p.m.
Candle lighting Wednesday after 8:17 p.m. from an existing flame
In NY City, Pesach ends 8:18 p.m. Thursday
Shalom and Bracha!
Wednesday and Thursday we celebrate the last two days of Pesach.
On the Seventh day of Pesach we celebrate the splitting of the
Red Sea. As the Jewish people fled Egypt, Hashem hardened
Pharaoh’s heart and he pursued them. As the Jews reached the Red
Sea, they found themselves completely surrounded. The sea was on
one side, and the approaching army was on the other. The people
were thrown into a panic, and were divided as to what to do.
Some felt it was better to commit suicide by jumping into the
sea rather than capitulate. Some felt it was better to return to
servitude. Others felt it was better to try their hands at war,
and still others felt they should dedicate themselves to prayer.
Moshe answered the Jewish people “Fear not. Stand strong and
you shall see the salvation of Hashem that He will perform
today. You will never again see Egypt as you have seen them
today. Hashem will battle for you. Be still.” Thereafter, Hashem
told Moshe “Speak to the Jewish people and they should go
forward.” Nachshon Ben Aminadav, the leader of the tribe of
Yehudah, bravely entered the waters and proceeded forward until
The four approaches mentioned above represent different
reactions to problems in following Hashem’s direction in life.
Suicide represents the inability to fulfill one’s mission.
Although more idealistic than returning to Egypt, it rejects the
principle purpose of our existence, to make the world a divine
place. Returning to Egypt represents a lack of faith in the
ability to fulfill Hashem’s direction. Battle represents
attempting to deal with the world with only our own finite
powers. By only praying, we ignore Hashem’s directive to
accomplish things ourselves.
We left Egypt with the goal to receive the Torah at Mount
Sinai. However great the obstacles were, Hashem told us not to
lose focus on our mission. All of the above approaches did
nothing to advance us towards receiving the Torah, and as such
were wrong. Only by pressing forward with Hashem’s mission with
full faith in success can we progress.
Often, we find it difficult to follow the Torah while living
within society. Challenges lead us to feel we must either escape
the world or forgo certain Mitzvot. The splitting of the sea
teaches us that we must face and overcome challenges by focusing
only on the mission of Hashem and we will then surely succeed.
Nachshon was the head of the tribe of Yehudah, from whom
Moshiach stems. On the eighth day of Pesach, we celebrate the
coming redemption. May our resolve to follow the Torah in an
unwavering manner hasten his coming and may we conclude this
Pesach in Yerushalayim.
The Baal Shem Tov instituted a custom to conclude the holiday
with a meal celebrating the coming of Moshiach. Matzah is eaten
and four cups of wine are consumed. The Rebbe added that each
cup should be consumed with the intent to hasten Moshiach’s
coming. May the continuation of this meal be the great feast
Hashem has prepared for the coming of Moshiach!
April 17th NY City Candle lighting 7:18 Shabbat ends 8:20
Friday night Sefirah: Today is 9 days, which are one week and 2
days of the Omer
Shabbat Mevarchim Iyar - Rosh Chodesh is next Friday and Shabbat
The Molad is Friday Afternoon 7:07 and 2 Chalakim
Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of Shemini. The word Shemini
means eighth and the portion begins with the special
instructions which Moshe gave Aharon on the eighth day of the
consecration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Although the Mishkan
had been consecrated for seven days, Hashem’s presence had not
been felt. On the eighth day, special sacrifices were offered
and the Fire of Hashem’s glory appeared and consumed the
offerings. The experience was so intense that everyone fell too
the floor in amazement and praised Hashem.
The number eight has a special connection to the revelation of
Hashem. The Brit is done on the eight day. On Yom Kippur, all of
the offerings in the Holy of Holies were in the number eight.
The world was created in seven days. Eight represents the step
beyond nature. In service of Hashem this teaches us that to
reach Hashem’s infinite presence we have to transcend our own
Thereafter, two of Aharon’s children, Nadav and Avihu, brought
an offering that was forbidden. A fire consumed them and they
died. The death of Nadav and Avihu teaches us that Hashem must
be served as He wants, in the manners prescribed in the Torah.
If we seek to have a spiritual experience outside the parameters
of Torah, we are not serving Hashem, but rather ourselves. As
such we are embracing death instead of life. The reason this
occurred shortly after the revelation of the fire of Hashem’s
glory is because their egos grew when Hashem accepted their
offerings. Recognition by Hashem must increase our humility, not
our ego. The Torah continues that Aharon was silent, because he
accepted the decree of Hashem. His acceptance was pure self
nullification, the antithesis of their error. Aharon’s silence
was their Tikkun, the correction for there error and the healing
for their souls.
Thereafter the Torah teaches at length about the Kosher laws.
This comes in sequence to the revelation of the Divine presence
because by sanctifying our bodies through keeping Kosher we
allow Hashem’s presence to dwell within us. The Torah teaches us
that by eating non kosher food we defile ourselves and chase
away the divine presence.
Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai told his students before his passing
that their fear of Heaven should be as strong as their fear of
flesh and blood. A deeper perspective in his words is that we
should be as concerned with the health of the soul as we are
with the health of our flesh and blood. When a product is found
to be tainted, it is recalled. Until there is clarity which
exact product, and from which factory it came, people remove all
products that might be tainted from there homes and tables. This
applies whether the tainting causes fatality, injury, or
occasional injury. Even when clarity is reached, we are wary. We
should treat our souls with the same respect. Instead of eating
and then asking, (or not asking), we should be positive that
this food is suitable for our soul.
Eight (Shemini) is a very special number in connection with
Moshiach. The harp in the Temple had seven strings, whereas the
harp in Moshiach’s time will have eight. Let us pray that we
will merit this Shabbat to again see the revelation of the
Divine presence and hear the harp of Moshiach.
Biggs is from Chabad of Great Neck, NY. His website is:
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