Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Minhagim: Pesach (Part 2)

The Rebbe, shlit"a, sells chometz gamur such as bread and liquor.

Click here to read an informative article from the OK outlining the basics of selling chometz, including an explanation of the Baal Hatanya's requirement that the sale be done through an arev kablan (guarantor).

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It is customary to have special dishes for Pesach and not to rely on kashering them by hagala.

However, it is permitted l'chatchila to do so if one wishes. The Rebbe Reb Yaakov Yisroel, zy"a,  had special dishes for Pesach but there were always a few dishes that he would do hagala on. Similarly, the Rebbe, shlit"a, has separate dishes and utensils for Pesach but some years he will do hagala on a few things (particularly the becher of Reb Zisha Tolmitcher).

The source for the halacha of hagalas keilim is the verse (Bamidbar, 31:22-23) which states that any material that can withstand passage through fire, namely all metals, can be made "kosher" through libun or hagala. There is also a halacha that an earthenware utensil that has absorbed a forbidden substance has no remedy, even by way of hagala or libun, as the verse explicitly tells us (Vayikra, 6:21), "and any earthenware vessel...shall be broken, and if a copper utensil...shall be scoured and rinsed in water" (a reference to hagala).
At Shalosh Seudos on Shabbos Hagadol 5767 (2007), the Rebbe pointed out that when the Torah teaches us the halacha of hagala, it lists all types of metal (gold, silver, copper, iron, and so on). In the pasuk of earthenware vessels, however, the Torah only mentions copper. Second of all, as we know from the seforim hakedoshim, the entirety of Torah is always relevant and teaches us how to live in every moment and in every situation. How can we apply the ideas behind hagala to our daily service of Hashem?
The Rebbe explained that the reason why earthenware vessels cannot be kashered through hagala is because earthenware is porous and a substance will be absorbed much more deeply, to the "point of no return". Hagala isn't strong enough to expunge the absorbed material that entered so deep into the vessel. With metals (which are not porous), while the substance is absorbed to some degree, the damage done is merely a "flesh wound" and through the appropriate process, can be remedied.
In the Mikdash there were three levels: the Kodesh Hakadoshim, the Kodesh, which is where the service was performed, and the Courtyard where all the preparations took place. The Kiyor was there; that's where they prepared the animals and all the other things that were "mundane". A curtain supported by pillars set into sockets of copper separated the Courtyard from the Kodesh.
The dividing curtain between the mundane and the holy must be held in place by copper. The word for copper is נחשת (n'choshes), which comes from the word נחושה (n'chusha), meaning strong, adamant and inflexible.
In today's tumultuous and portentous world, there is no place safe from the adverse influences of society. The very air we breathe is impure and not only from an environmental standpoint. Today, living is hazardous to one's spiritual health. Undoubtedly, our best defenses will be breached. But the question is, how far will the poison and pollution get in?
If our convictions are made of n'choshes (copper), if we are adamant and unfaltering in our commitment to drawing the line when we are presented with something antithetical to our values as authentic Torah Jews, as inflexible as copper, then even though some of the "animalistic" and the mundane will penetrate, we can be purged. There are ways to restore one's integrity.
But if we are porous like earthenware and our minds and homes are a free-for-all, we will absorb much more of the impurity. Then, the only way to purify ourselves again is by breaking and that is something we are not ready to deal with.
The first pasuk teaches us in a practical sense that all those metals are subject to hagala. When the Torah tells us that earthenware is irremediable other than by breaking, we are supposed to pay attention to the alternate example: copper. None of the other metals are mentioned. Among all the other metals, copper (נחשת) represents that which is resolute and tenacious, and that is how we must live if we have hope of being restored to uncompromised purity and sanctitude.

On Motzei Shabbos Hagadol 5768 (2008), the Rebbe told the following story:
One year when the Baal Hatanya visited the Mezritcher Maggid for Pesach, he didn't have enough money to purchase a new becher for Pesach. All he had was a glass becher that he used during the rest of the year. Technically, a glass cup wouldn't need to be kashered but the Rama says in Hilchos Pesach that the minhag is not to kasher glass. Some understand the Rama to mean that on Pesach, because of the stringent nature of chometz, we are machmir not to kasher glass. During the rest of the year, to kasher glass that was used with treif, for example, one could kasher glass. Since the Baal Hatanya had no other option, he brought his glass becher with him to the Maggid's seder and relied on the opinions that glass is generally kasherable and even on Pesach.
When the Maggid was ready to begin the seder, he raised his becher to make kidush but something seemed out of place. He put his becher down and became lost in thought. He then proceeded to raise the becher a second time and again he put it back. After a third time the talmidim began to worry. Reb Mendele Vitebsker, a particularly close talmid of the Maggid, began to make his way around the room, searching for what could have upset the Maggid's kidush. Finding nothing amiss, he reported such to the Maggid. "I don't know either," exclaimed the Magid. "But how can I proceed when the Rama is standing there looking frighteningly b'rogez (trans. in a fury)?"
The Baal Hatanya heard that and quickly removed his becher from the room.

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