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Friday, April 19

The Weekly Shtikle - Leil Seder

For this year's thought on the haggadah, I would like to continue with the theme we discussed on the megillah – the applicability of our ancient stories to modern times – while touching on some points we have discussed in the past.

As we explained a number of years ago, one of the central charges of the seder experience is to see or consider ourselves as if we were part of the exodus from Egypt. On a simple level, this demands of us to use our imagination to travel back many thousands of years ago as if we ourselves were there during the exodus from Egypt. But this connection to the deliverance from Egypt is experienced in both directions. In addition to projecting ourselves back to that time, we can also project the exodus experience forward as we realize HaShem's salvation over the course of our history and in even more so, in our time.

The "fuel" for this journey is provided by another highlight of the seder – vehi she'amdah. As we take a good, long look at our history and come to the realization that our existence is threatened in every generation, it is but a simple step to realize that every generation HaShem provides a new geula of sorts.

Going through the haggadah, there was one passage that stood out as frighteningly applicable to our times. In the section of the haggadah that expounds on the pesukim from Ki Savo with the pesukim from sefer Shemos, we examine the phrase (Devarim 26:6) "vayareiu osanu." The way the haggadah explains this phrase, it speaks not of the Egyptians treating us badly but rather, making us appear bad, as it is connected to the pasuk (Shemos 1:10) dealing with the Egyptian "solution." The mistreatment of the Jews is justified by the claim that the Jews could potentially join forces with another enemy to bring Egypt down.

In The Egyptian Holocaust, David Farkas explores the many striking similarities between the subjugation in Egypt and the Holocaust. Indeed, the charge of dual and dueling loyalties (point #5) was prevalent in both cases. This isn't really unique to persecution of Jews. Since human beings do have a natural inclination to be reasonable and oppose mass murder, every entity that wishes to destroy what it considers to be an enemy, needs to engage in a significant campaign of dehumanizing that enemy in order to justify their annihilation.
For Jews, with their strong sense of community and national identity, the charge of dual loyalty is not a difficult case to make. This has been true throughout history and is certainly not a modern invention in the era of Jewish statehood, although it does seem to provide an easier target. Unfortunately, these claims have come to the fore in very recent times with statements by individuals in frighteningly significant positions. We must certainly be mindful of these threats while at the same time being proud of the positive national qualities that give rise to them.

Have a good Shabbos and Chag Kasher ve'Sameiach!

For a collection of previous seder night shtikles, please check out my archive of past Seder shtikles.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Chad Gadya

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Friday, April 5

The Weekly Shtikle - Tazria

This Sunday, 2 Nissan, marks the 13th yahrtzeit of my Bubbie. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.

This coming Tuesday, 4 Nissan, marks the 1st yahrtzeit of my wife's grandmother, Rebbetzin Faigie Frankel. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmasah, Leah Feiga bas Aharon Tzvi.

In this week's parsha we are taught about the laws concerning tzara'as that is found on the walls of one's house. There is an intriguing difficulty found in pasuk 14:37, "Vera'a es hanega vehineh hanega b`kiros habayis sheka'aruros yerakrakos o adamdamos umar'eihen shafal min hakir." First, the nega is referred to in the singular. However, in the rest of the pasuk it is described in the plural.

R' Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l, gives a fascinating, yet somewhat complicated answer in the name of R' Netta Grunblatt (of Memphis, Tennessee). We are taught in the gemara (Sanhedrin 71a) that the required size of the tzara'as on the house is the size of two beans whereas other negaim require only one bean. One may deliberate on the following point: Is it that the required size of nig'ei batim is twice that of other negaim or that nig'ei batim requires two negaim? The difference between the two is illustrated with the precise language used by the Rambam. He writes, in regular cases of tzaa'as, that a nega smaller than a bean is "not a nega." However, in the laws of nig'ei batim, he writes that if the spot is less than two beans, it is tahor. The implication is that it is still considered a nega, but is nevertheless tahor since it hasn't reached the required size. [The halachic ramifications of this specification arise in connection with the gemara in Shabbos that states that the prohibition of cutting tzara'as out of one's skin applies even to a nega tahor.]

 

It seems from the Rambam that the proper interpretation would be the second, that nig'ei batim require two nega'im of total size two beans. Therefore, if the spot is less than two beans, it is still a nega, only it is tahor. This, suggests R' Grunblatt, is the explanation for the change in the pasuk from singular to plural. In the beginning, we are referring to the spot as a whole. However, since in essence we are dealing with two negaim, the pasuk describes them in the plural.

 

Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov.

Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: White Hair

Dikdukian: Meaining of "kibus" by Eliyahu Levin

Dikdukian: Various Dikduk Observations by Eliyahu Levin

 

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com