Putting our Mind over Matter
Taste of Parasha
One of the students of Rava understood from him that the correct blessing to be recited prior to the Mitzvah of checking for chametz is L’vaer chametz to destroy the chametz. Another student understood the lesson differently; he understood that the correct formulation of the blessing should be Al Biur chametz, on the burning of the chametz. The Talmud (Pesachim 7b) explains the basis for this dispute. All agree that a blessing associated with a Mitzvah must be said prior to the fulfillment of the Mitzvah. In addition everyone agrees that the wording of the blessing must have the connotation that Mitzvah is about to be fulfilled. In this regard, all agree that the wording, “to destroy chametz” contains the proper connotation that the destruction of the chametz is about to take place. They disagree as to whether or not the formulation, “on the destruction of chametz” has that connotation. This formula contains a double meaning on the one hand it sounds like the destruction of the chametz has already begun while on the other hand it also has the connotation that the chametz will be destroyed in the near future.
Taste of Halacha
Interestingly enough, the Halacha follows the opinion that says we should use the wording that has a double connotation. Rav Elchanan Wasserman Zt”l, Hy”d, asks, “Wouldn’t it be better to use the wording that cannot be misunderstood?” He answers, that in truth, the destruction of the chametz has already begun even before the blessing has been made. As soon as a person has made up in his mind that he will destroy the chametz the process has begun. Hence, the wording of the blessing on the destruction of chametz, with its double connotation is actually more accurate, as it conveys the truth that the process has already begun. With this concept he answers a difficulty in the words of the Rambam in regards to the laws of Bris Milah. Why does the Rambam say that a father recites a different blessing than would a mohel performing the act on his behalf? The answer is that when a father is performing the circumcision, there isn’t a two-step process. Until he actually performs the circumcision, nothing has transpired. The Mohel, on the other hand, is performing the second stage of the Milah process, once the father has given him the go ahead. The Mohel, therefore, recites a blessing which has the connotation that the Milah process has begun.
Taste of Parasha
“And Yaakov lived in Egypt for 17 years, and he died at the age of 147.” What is the Torah teaching us in clearly stating the number of years which Yaakov lived in Egypt? The Nesivos Shalom answers that the number seventeen is the numerical value of the word Tov good. In explicitly writing the number of years Yaakov lived in Egypt the Torah is conveying to us the good effect which Yaakov had upon that land. Our sages teach what it was so good about Yaakov’s presence in Egypt. Yaakov is the founding father of serious Torah study. He brought the goodness of Torah, the truth of Torah, the purity of Torah to Egypt and with it was successful in beginning the process of vanquishing the evil. He succeeded in overriding the physical drives and adulations of the culture that surrounded his descendants in Egypt. He taught them that with a mind that is refined and elevated with Torah study all of the empty physical vises which they may come in contact with are as nothing. With his goodness he vanquished the bad and made it possible for us to do the same. All we have to do is apply ourselves to the study of Torah.