Tuesday, April 15, 2008

EREV PESACH 5768: MATZA ON EREV PESACH - Guest Post by Rabbi Zvi Leshem

Received by e-mail from Rav Zvi Leshem:

Shalom Friends,

By now we are well into the final stages of preparing for Pesach and you can feel the electricity in the air!

I want to share this link with you regarding information about a scholarship fund in memory of the eight martyrs of the attack on Mercaz HaRav.

Having Shabbat on Erev Pesach (which occurred three years ago, but won't occur again for another thirteen years), while presenting us with some special challenges, also gives us the opportunity to really reflect and study about the Korban Pesach and matters of the Seder, as well as having a good nap. Enjoy!

I wish all of us and all of Am Yisrael, especially the kidnapped and missing soldiers and Jonathon Pollard, a true festival of freedom and liberation, physical, emotional, spiritual, national and cosmic.

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Kasher v'Sameach, Zvi

Rav Zvi Leshem

In addition to the mitzva of eating matza on Pesach night[1], it is also forbidden to eat matza on the eve of Pesach.[2]

In a startling Yerushalmi[3] we read Rebbi Levi says: One who eats matza on Erev Pesach is like one who has relations with his betrothed in his father-in-law’s house, and one who does that is whipped. The Korban HaEda explains simply that we are dealing with two cases of people who are impatient and unable to control their desires, so they “jump the gun”. However it should be apparent to anyone with spiritual sensitivity that there is something deeper going on here. The Maharil, in his Hilchot HaHagada, explains, If he eats matza before the night it is as though he had relations with his betrothed in her father’s house which is like having relations with a nida. And the reason is that matza has seven blessings before it and there are also seven marriage blessings.[4] Rav Moshe Feinstein[5] analyzes the connection in light of the fact that matza is permitted before Erev Pesach (although there are customs to refrain for a longer period). Matza before Erev Pesach is similar to a single woman, and on Erev Pesach becomes equal to one’s betrothed. Only at the seder does matza become fully “married” (due to the sheva brachot) and is therefore permissible, just as the bride is forbidden to her betrothed until after the chupa.[6] While Rav Moshe’s explanation deepens our understanding, we are still left with the feeling that these are hints to an even deeper message. What is it?

The Bet Yaacov of Ishbitz[7] explains that there are three stages in the initial relationship between a man and a woman. Before they are betrothed they have no connection whatsoever and therefore there is no desire between them, as one only desires that which belongs to him on some level. When they are betrothed they desire each other, but are forbidden to have relations since they must go through a period of abstinence in order that there eventual union will be meaningful.[8] After the chupa the couple completely unites. In a similar way, matza, before Erev Pesach, has no meaning to the Jew and therefore it is irrelevant how he relates to it. However, on Erev Pesach, by refraining from chametz (the “flip-side” of matza), as well as from matza, one earns the right to “unite” with matza at the seder.[9] During the day of Erev Pesach, the matza is still in “her father’s house”, i.e. in HaShem’s realm, and has not yet been given over to the Jew to enjoy. At the seder, we experience the unity with matza, and they themselves are matza, which hints at the unity we will enjoy with HaShem at the time of the future redemption. Just as unity with ones spouse is only meaningful after a period of intense longing (betrothal and nida), so too unity with HaShem (geula) is only possible after a similar experience (galut). May we merit that our intense longing for HaShem will in fact bring us to the total unity of redemption immediately.[10]

Chag Sameach!

[1] Shemot 12:18.
[2] Rema Orach Chaim 471:2. The Mishna Brura explains that this is so that matza will be eaten at the seder with appetite. This is in addition to the prohibition of chametz on Erev Pesach from the fourth hour.
[3] Pesachim 10:1. For a possible source for this seemingly bizarre comparison see Mishna Pesachim 3:7. See also the Meiri Pesachim 13a, and HaYerushalmi K’Fshuto of HaGra”sh Lieberman here.
[4] The reference is of course to the sheva brachot recited at the chupa. Count the blessings recited from the beginning of the seder and you will find that there are also seven before we actually taste the matza!
[5] Igrot Moshe O.CH. 1:155. The parallel between the bride and matza does not work out in every detail, but that does not detract from the spiritual potency of the comparison as a whole.
[6] It is important to note that before the betrothal any woman is forbidden as znut, pre-marital relations. However once the couple is betrothed, they are considered to be married in many ways, and yet, they have a special prohibition of relations until the final stage of marriage. Before Erev Pesach, explains Rav Moshe, one has no legal connection with matza and eating it is therefore insignificant. However, on Erev Pesach, when many laws of Pesach begin, one does have a “betrothal” relationship with the matza, which therefore becomes prohibited until after the sheva brachot at the seder! I also heard that Rav Soloveitchik said in the name of the Gr”a that the matzot are covered at the seder similar to the veiling of the bride!
[7] In his commentary to the Hagada, Sefer HaZmanim: Erev Pesach.
[8] Abstinence before betrothal doesn’t count, since as we have seen, there is no desire yet. We must lament how far our society has fallen in its norms of morality.
[9] Thus some chassidim eat matza while completely enwrapped in a talit, emulating the cheder yichud. We can now understand the Maharil’s comparison between relations with one’s betrothed and relations with one’s wife who is a nida. In both cases the woman truly “belongs” with her husband; however the time is not yet right. My son, R. Zion, once explained to me that since the night of mikva is compared to the night of the wedding, a woman during nida has the spiritual status of a betrothed woman. See also Mei HaShiloach Part Two, Pesachim, s.v. Tania. See also Rav Zvi Pesach Frank, Mikrai Kodesh Pesach, vol. 2, page 92; Perhaps the comparison is…that one who has relations with his betrothed has annulled ‘the beloved-ness of the first act of relations’, just as the act of eating matza at the seder needs to be particularly beloved.
[10] See the rest of this section of the Bet Yaacov for many other awesome Torahs, such as the parallels between chametz and matza, shamor and zachor, and the names Elokim and HaShem. Elsewhere the Bet Yaacov compares them to naaseh and nishma.

-Dixie Yid

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1 comment:

Natan said...

That Bet Yaakov is great.