Sweating Over Baking Matzos -- An Effective Remedy
The Shulchan Oruch (Orach Chaim 460:2) states that the
Rosh would attend personally to the baking of matzos. He
would stand over their preparation, spur on those who worked
the dough, and assist with the rolling of the matzoh. The
Shulchan Oruch concludes: "This is how everyone should
act. He should apply himself personally to the mitzvah."
The Mishnah Berurah (ibid. 5) explains that a mitzvah
is better fulfilled if one performs it himself rather than
through an agent (Kiddushin 41a).
The Mishnah Berurah (ibid. 7) quotes the Arizal that
one should exert himself over the preparation of the matzos
until he is hot and perspiring. This is an effective remedy
for a serious sin. Similarly, the Shaarei Teshuvoh
(ibid. 250:2) quotes the Arizal that the perspiration
incurred while preparing for Shabbos is an effective remedy
for erasing sins. He adds that the perspiration is equivalent
to the shedding of tears.
Tosafos (Niddah 61a) quote the Midrash (Bereishis
Rabbah 42:8) as to why Og Melech Haboshon was named "Og."
When he came to visit Avrohom Ovinu to inform him of the
capture of Lot (Bereishis 42:8), it was Pesach
(Shemos Rabbah 43:3). He found Avrohom preparing
matzos for Pesach. Matzos are called "ugos" (unleavened
cakes, Shemos 12:39). Therefore he was nicknamed
At first glance, it seems strange that he should be nicknamed
"Og" merely because he watched Avrohom preparing matzos.
However it seems from the Midrash that watching
Avrohom Ovinu preparing the matzos for Pesach had a lasting
spiritual impact on Og.
Why Doesn't a Female First-Born Fast on Erev
The Shulchan Oruch (ibid. 470:1) states: "The first-
born fast on Erev Pesach. There are those who are of the
opinion that even a female first-born should fast." However,
the Ramo (ibid.) rules that it is not the custom for
females to fast on Erev Pesach.
The Mishnah Berurah (ibid. 2) explains that the reason
the first-born fast on Erev Pesach is in remembrance of the
miracle when the first-born of Israel were saved from being
struck when all the Egyptian first-born died. The Midrash
(Shemos Rabbah 18:3) states that the Egyptian female
first- born also died in the plague in Egypt, except for
Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, who was spared in the merit
of saving Moshe. The verse states: "and Hashem struck all the
first- born in Egypt" (Shemos 12:29). Accordingly, it
is appropriate that even a female first-born should fast on
erev Pesach, for they too were saved from the plague
in Egypt. Nevertheless, the Ramo rules that it is not the
custom for females to fast on Erev Pesach.
The Mishnah Berurah (ibid. 4) quotes the Gaon of Vilna
who explains that the Torah did not give a female first-born
a special status in any respect.
Why Don't We Complete Hallel the Entire Pesach?
The Shulchan Oruch (ibid. 490:4) states that during
the days of chol hamoed and on the two final days of
Pesach, we do not recite the complete Hallel, just as
on Rosh Chodesh. The gemora in Erchin (10b)
asks: What is the difference between the yom tov of
Succos when we say the complete Hallel all seven days, and
the yom tov of Pesach when we only complete Hallel
the first day?
The gemora answers: The days of Succos are
differentiated from one another in respect of their
Korbonos, whereas the days of Pesach are not
differentiated in respect of their Korbonos. The
number of Korbonos brought on Succos changed from day
to day, diminishing by one, whereas on Pesach the number
remained the same.
The Mishnah Berurah (ibid. 17) cites the Midrash,
which gives a different reason. On the seventh day of Pesach,
the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea. The gemora in
Megilloh (10b) states that the angels wanted to recite
a song of praise when the Egyptians drowned. However, Hashem
stopped them and exclaimed: "My handiwork is drowning in the
sea and you recite a song of praise?"
Hashem does not rejoice at the downfall of the wicked. It is
Hashem's desire that the wicked repent rather than remain in
their evil ways and be destroyed. Hallel is also
classified as a song. Therefore we do not complete the
Hallel on the final days of Pesach. It is noteworthy
that the Mishnah Berurah does not mention the reason
of the gemora in Erchin.
The reason given by the Midrash only explains why we
don't say the complete Hallel on the final day of
Pesach, since the Egyptians drowned on that day. However, it
still remains to be explained why we don't complete the
Hallel during the previous days of chol
The Mishnah Berurah (ibid.) quotes the Levush who
explains that once Hallel is not completed on the seventh day
of Pesach which is yom tov, it follows that one should
also not complete the Hallel on chol hamoed, so
that chol hamoed should not have superiority over the
final days of yom tov.
The Cup of Eliyohu Hanovi
The Mishnah Berurah (ibid. 480:10) states that it is
the custom to pour an extra cup of wine that is called the
cup of the Prophet Eliyohu. This cup is to indicate that we
have faith that just as Hashem redeemed us from Egypt, he
will again redeem us and send us Eliyohu to inform us of the
The Maharil (Haggodoh Shel Pesach) states that this
cup should be large and respectable, for it is the cup of
redemption. (See also Siddur Yaavetz.)
Chazal tell us: "In the month of Nisan we were redeemed from
Egypt, and in the month of Nisan we will again be redeemed."
Therefore on the night of Pesach, we pour an extra cup of
wine to indicate that on this night we await to be
The Chok Yaakov (ibid.) states that for this reason
there is a custom not to lock the doors on the night of
Pesach, for we are waiting to be redeemed on this night and
when Eliyahu arrives we want to be able to greet him quickly.
However, the Chok Yaakov concludes that this is not the
common practice, since the danger of thieves is great.
Similarly, the Ramo (ibid.) states that when reciting
the prayer, "Pour your wrath," we open the door to remember
that it is a night when we are protected, and by virtue of
this, the Moshiach will arrive and pour his wrath over the
enemies of the Jews.
The Vilna Gaon cites a different reason for the cup of
Eliyohu. The Rishonim in Pesochim (108a) dispute if
there is a requirement to have a fifth cup. The Daas Zekeinim
(Shemos 12:8) states that the fifth cup corresponds to
the fifth term of Geulah -- "Veheiveisi." We therefore
pour a fifth cup and call it the cup of Eliyohu, referring to
the fact that when Eliyohu comes, he will resolve all our
unresolved inquiries including whether or not we are
obligated to have a fifth cup.
According to this reason, there is no need for this cup to be
larger or more respectable than the other cups.
May we be zocheh to the coming of Moshiach this
HaRav Chaim Charlap is rosh yeshivas Bais Zvul. This is
adapted from his sefer Ohr Chaim on yomim