Tisha Be-Av which Falls on Motzaei Shabbat

1. Beginning of the Fast
The fast as well as the other prohibitions begin from sundown – not nightfall (i.e. when 3 stars come out), even though it is still Shabbat (Mishnah Berurah 552:24).

2. Seudah Mafseket
It is permissible to eat meat and drink wine and have a festive meal like King Shlomo (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 552:10).  And one does not eat an egg dripped in ashes as in a regular year.  There are Poskim who say that one should nonetheless eat the meal in a sorrowful manner without joy, and without company, while other authorities permit acting as on all other Shabbatot, so there is no public mourning on Shabbat (Mishnah Berurah #24).  One must be careful, however, to complete the meal before sunset (Mishnah Berurah ibid.).

3. Removing Shoes
The Rama (Orach Chaim 553:2) rules that on Tisha Be-Av which falls on Motzaei Shabbat, we remove our shoes after Barechu of Maariv, since it is forbidden to display any signs of mourning on Shabbat (Mishnah Berurah #6).  The Rama adds, however, that the Shaliach Tzibur removes his shoes before Barechu, after reciting "Baruch Ha-Mavdil Bein Kodesh Le-Chol" (Mishnah Berurah Ibid. #7).  The Mishnah Berurah (Ibid.) explains that he does so in order not to become confused if he has to remove them after Barechu.
There are however various problems which arise with this:
a. One who brings his Tisha Be-Av shoes to Shul on Shabbat violates preparing on Shabbat for a weekday.
b. When one removes his shoes and puts on his Tisha Be-Av shoes, he must be careful not to touch them, or he will be required to wash Netilat Yadayim.
c. Everyone changing shoes impinges upon proper intention while Davening.
d. If everyone changes their shoes (even if they brought them to Shul before Shabbat), the Shul will be filled with shoes, which disgraces the holiness of the Shul.
It is therefore preferable to act in the following manner: After nightfall (3 stars coming out), before one leaves his house, each person says "Baruch Ha-Mavdil Bein Kodesh Le-Chol" and puts on his Tisha Be-Av shoes (and see Shut Yechaveh Daat 5:38).  In order to do so, Maariv should be delayed 15 minutes.  If one is unable to act in this manner, he should put on his Tisha Be-Av shoes at home on Shabbat and walk to Shul in them so he is not preparing on Shabbat for a weekday, since he is using them on Shabbat itself.  Even though this seems to contradict the concept of not displaying signs of mourning on Shabbat, our Sages allow one to wear regular shoes on Tisha Be-Av if one is traveling or if one lives among non-Jews and he fears being mocked (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 554:17), and the same leniency applies for the honor of Shabbat and he may wear his Tisha Be-Av shoes on Shabbat.

4. Kinot
One who brings a Kinot book to Shul on Shabbat should learn a little from it so that he does not prepare on Shabbat for a weekday.

5. Havdalah
After Maariv, before reciting Kinot, we recite only the blessing over seeing a candle (and not the verses before Havdalah or the Berachot over wine and spices).  If one does not recite the blessing then, he should do so later that night upon seeing a candle or light.  A woman should also recite this blessing if she stays at home and her husband does not return until later.  On Motzaei Tisha Be-Av (Sunday night), we recite Havdalah only over wine, without a candle and spices (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim #556).  We also do not recite the verses before Havdalah.     

6. Eating   
When Tisha Be-Av is postponed until Sunday – those who are ill, nursing or pregnant fast as long as it is not difficult for them.  If it is difficult for them, it is permissible for them to eat.  There is no need to eat "Shiurim" (minimum quantities), but one should eat simple foods.
Anyone who eats should first recite Havdalah over grape juice.

7. Motzaei Tisha Be-Av when Tisha Be-Av is Postponed
After the fast, it is forbidden to eat meat and drink wine.  It is permissible to drink wine during Havdalah.  It is permissible to do laundry and get a haircut and shave.  All of the other Halachot of the Three Weeks no longer apply (Halichot Shlomo of Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Chapter 15, Dvar Halachah #26.  Unlike the ruling of Ha-Rav Yechiel Michal Tukachinsky in Luach Eretz Yisrael).  In the morning, all of the prohibitions of the Three Weeks are lifted.

May Hashem continue the return of His Presence to Zion, and may the Beit Ha-Mikdash be built speedily in our days. 

In Honor of Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim – the Next Chief Rabbi of Tzahal

Our Yeshiva, Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim, received very exciting news this week that Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim, who learned in our Yeshiva and was head of our Pre-Military Academy, has been appointed to be the next Chief Rabbi of Tzahal!
Although our Yeshiva is not an "Army Yeshiva", but rather a Yeshiva where we solely learn Torah, we are extremely proud since Ha-Rav Krim will be the second Chief Rabbi of our Yeshiva.  The first being Ha-Rav Avichai Ronski, who served as a Ra"m in our Yeshiva.
Rav Krim, along with serving as an officer in elite combat units and serving as head of the Halachah Department of Tzahal, has also published 6 volumes of Teshuvot relating to military related questions entitled "Kishrei Milchama".
In his honor, here are some Teshuvot of Rav Aviner which quote Rav Krim's rulings:

Using a Untensil without Immersion in a Mikveh
Q: I am a soldier.  I have a new pot and am unable to immerse it in a Mikveh.  Is it permissible to use it one time without immersion?
A: No.  It is permissible to use disposal utensils without immersion (if they are used more than 3 times, many Poskim require their immersion), but a permanent utensil may not be used even once without immersion.  In a pressing situation, it is permissible to give the pot as a gift to a non-Jew and then borrow it from him (since the utensil of a non-Jew does not require immersion).  Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 120:16.
Q: And what if there is no non-Jew?
A: Call a military Rabbi, or the 24-hour phone line for soldiers of the Military Rabbinate 052-941-4414.  They will sell the utensil to a non-Jew, or in a pressing situation, they will permit it based on the opinion that it is permissible since it is not the soldier's utensil (Kishrei Milchama of Ha-Rav Colonel 3:58).

Ambush on Shabbat
Q: If a soldier goes out of an ambush on Shabbat or returns from an ambush on Shabbat, is it permissible for him to take personal items with him?
A: It is permissible to take food which will contribute to his alertness.  There is a dispute regarding non-essential items.  The Chafetz Chaim is lenient in his book "Machane Yisrael" (see Ke-Chitzin Be-Yad of Ha-Rav Avichai Ronski, former Chief Rabbi of Tzahal, Volume 2 pp. 36-37.  And Kishrei Milchama of Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim, head of the Halachah Department of Tzahal, Volume 4 pp. 86-90).

Writing during a Life-Threatening Situation on Shabbat
Q: If one is obligated to write on Shabbat during a life-threatening situation, in the case of a doctor or soldier, is it preferable to use a pen or computer?
A: Computer, since writing with a pen or pencil is a Torah prohibition while writing on a computer, which involves electricity, is a Rabbinic prohibition (see Kishrei Milchama of Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim 3:41).

Soldiers in Protective Edge Eating Meat During the Nine Day
Q: Is it permissible for combat soldiers fighting in Gaza to eat meat during the Nine Days?
A: In general, it is forbidden for Ashkenazim to eat meat from 1 Av (Mishnah Berurah 551:58) and for Sefardim from 2 Av (Kaf Ha-Chaim ibid. #125).  A soldier in Tzahal, however, is not defined as Ashkenazi or Sefardi but as a soldier, and it is permissible for a combat soldier to eat meat if it is needed to give him strength.  And this is also the ruling of Ha-Rav Colonel Ayal Krim, head of the Halachah Department of Tzahal (Kishrei Milchama 3:56).  And the Military Rabbinate also ruled this way.
Q: Can non-combat soldiers eat meat?

A: There is a Chiddush of Maran Ha-Rav.  It once happened that there were two restaurants for workers, one Kosher and one not Kosher, and many of the non-religious Jewish workers ate in the Kosher restaurant.  During the Nine Days, however, meat was not served in the Kosher restaurant, and the workers who wanted to eat meat would eat in the non-Kosher restaurant.  The Rabbi, who was responsible from the Poalei Mizrachi, asked Maran Ha-Rav Kook: Is it permissible to serve meat in the Kosher restaurant so that the non-religious Jews would not eat the Treif meat?  Rav Kook said that it is permissible since it is a Mitzvah to save Jews from eating Treif.  Any such meal is therefore considered a Seudat Mitzvah at which one may eat meat during the Nine Days, and even you - the Rabbi - would be allowed to eat meat there (Moadei Ha-Re'eiyah pp. 539-542)!  One could say, based on this, that a meal during which a combat soldier eats meat in order to give him strength to wage war is considered a Seudat Mitzvah, and at a Seudat Mitzvah even a non-combat soldier would be permitted to eat meat.  If Rav Kook had given such a ruling, we would certainly accept it, but he did not.  So the non-combat soldiers must still refrain from eating meat.

The Generous One, Dr. Irving Moskowitz z"l

There are wealthy people in the world who are selfish, and who only think about themselves, their own pleasure and their own possessions.
But they are some wealthy individuals who understand that their money was given to them by the Master of the Universe in order for them to serve as holy agents for the sake of Am Yisrael.  They give generously and they give generously joyously.
This was Dr. Irving Moskowitz z"l, together with his wife Cherna, may she be granted a long and good life. 
He was a G-d-fearing man, who fulfilled the Mitzvot and always remembered the Torah's warning: "Your silver and gold will multiply, and all that is yours will multiply, and then your heart will be lifted up and you will forget Hashem, your G-d.  And you will say in your heart: 'My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth'" (Devarim 8:13-14, 17).  But he himself fulfilled the continuation of the verse: "But you will remember Hashem, your G-d, for it is He that gives you power to get wealth" (ibid. verse 18).
Dr. Moskowitz donated tens of millions of dollars to build Eretz Yisrael, and his actions remind one of the great man, Baron de Rothschild - "The Known Generous One" - z"l. He donated to building up East Jerusalem, Yehudah and the Shomron.  He donated to Chesed organizations and to victims of natural disasters.
He was both modest and humble, lacking the habits of the wealthy, and pleasant and gentle.

May his soul be bound up in the bonds of life with all of the Tzadikim, and may Hashem grant long and good days to his devoted wife, Mrs. Cherna, who was with him in this holy work, and continues in this holy work.

Hilchot Shavuot - Laws of Shavuot

Early Davening on Shavuot

Q: Can one daven Maariv early on Shavuot, or is it a problem because one needs 7 complete weeks of Sefirat Ha-Omer?

A: Ashkenazim – No, Sefardim are lenient (Mishneh Berurah 414:1.  Shut Yechaveh Daat 6:30).


Q: Is there an obligation to eat Milchigs on Shavuot?

A: It is the Custom.  Yemenite Jews do not do so (Shulchan Aruch Ha-Mekutzar, p. 72).

Q: Does one have to eat an entire Milchig meal?

A: It is enough to have one dairy food.  And it is then possible to wash out one's mouth, wash one's hands and clean the table, and have a Fleischig meal (Or Le-Tzion 3:196).  And the Steipler Gaon would only have a Milchig meal at night (Orchot Rabbenu vol. 1, p. 98).

Learning on the Night of Shavuot

Q: Is there an obligation to learn the entire night of Shavuot?

A: No.  But it is a proper custom.  Someone who is unable should try to learn until midnight (Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim 494).

Q: Which is preferable – learning all night and falling asleep during Shacharit or going to sleep?

A: Going to sleep.  Davening Shacharit without falling asleep is a basic halachah, and learning all night is a worthwhile addition.  The custom of learning Torah the entire night of Shavuot is mentioned by the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim #494), based on the Zohar, that we dedicate the night to learning Torah in an attempt to rectify a mistake made by the Nation of Israel at the time of the Giving of the Torah.  When Hashem “arrived” to give the Torah to the Nation of Israel, we were still sleeping and had to be woken up.  The custom therefore developed to stay awake all night to spirituality rectify for the oversleeping and to show our zeal for the Torah.  But one should be aware that if he cannot Daven Shacharit with proper concentration, on account of the exhaustion of learning Torah all night, it is better not to stay up since Davening properly is a clear obligation (the Magen Avraham makes this exact point regarding staying up all night on Yom Kippur – see Orach Chaim 611:11).

Q: Which is preferable – learning during the night, or learning during the day, if I will learn more during the day?

A: During the day, since learning more Torah is a basic halachah, and learning Torah all night on Shavuot is a worthwhile addition.  This is unlike the ruling of Ha-Rav Chaim Kanvieski that the custom is to learn all night, and it is preferable to learn during the night even if one learns less than he would have during the day (Piskei Shemuot, pp. 81-82). 

Although Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav, was surprised that people are so particular to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot, which is a custom, while on Pesach night, where there is a law to discuss the Exodus from Egypt until one is overcome by sleep, people are not so careful.  And in the city of Brisk, people were not careful to follow the custom of staying awake the entire night of Shavuot, since why is this night different from all other nights?  And also, learning on Shavuot night is not more important than learning during the day (Uvdot Ve-Hanhagot Le-Beit Brisk vol. 2, p. 79).

And it is related in the book "Ha-Shakdan" (vol. 2, p. 240) that one of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv's grandsons once asked him why he does not stay awake all night on Shavuot like everyone else, but follows his regular learning schedule of waking up at 2:00 AM to learn Torah…  Rav Elyashiv explained that he calculated that if he changed his few hours of sleep on that night, he would not gain more time to learn Torah, and he would actually lose 15 minutes of learning!  For a few precious minutes of learning Torah, he decided that it is preferable to go to sleep at the beginning of the night as usual…
And Gerrer Chasidim have a saying: Our Tikun Leil Shavuot is Keriyat Shema Al Ha-Mita (reciting the Keriyat Shema before going to bed)…
Therefore, each person should therefore carefully consider if it is worthwhile for him to stay up all night since there is a concern that "his gain is offset by his loss."

Q: I heard that it is forbidden to engage in idle chatter on the night of Shavuot?

A: It is not a prohibition, but it is proper, and one should try as much as possible to refrain (Kaf Ha-Chaim 494:11).

Q: Is one obligated to learn the Tikun Leil Shavuot?

A: No.  A person should learn Torah in a subject that his heart desires (Avodah Zarah 19a).  And Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski said that there are different customs, each of which is acceptable (Piskei Shemuot, p. 81).

Q: If one's father says the Tikun, should his son also say the Tikun, or is it permissible to learn Gemara?

A: It is a personal decision.  And Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv said: "It is better for him to learn Massechet Baba Metzia, Perek Ha-Socher Et Ha-Po'alim [One who hires workers], and even if his father says the Tikun."  And Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski said: "If his father says the Tikun, he should also say the Tikun" (Yadoon Moshe vol. 9 #59).

Q: Do women also need to learn all night?

A: They are not obligated, but it is certainly a good thing.

For one who will remain awake all night, this is how he should act in the morning:


One who wears Tzitzit all night should not recite a new blessing on it in the morning.  One should try to hear the blessing said by someone who is obligated to recite it or he should have the Tzitzit in mind when he recites the blessing over his Talit (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 8:16 with Mishnah Berurah #42).

Netilat Yadayim

One should wash "Netilat Yadayim" without a blessing or hear it from someone who is obligated to recite it (Shulchan Aruch Ha-Rav 4:13).  It is preferable to use the restroom and one is then obligated according to all opinions to wash "Netilat Yadayim."  After washing "Netilat Yadayim," he should recite the blessing of "Al Netilat Yadayim" and "Asher Yatzar" (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 4:13 with Mishnah Berurah #27, 29, 30).

"Elohai Neshamah" and "Ha-Ma'avir Sheinah"

They should be recited without the ending of using Hashem's Name or be heard from someone who is obligated to recite them, since these blessings where established over the return of the soul and removal of sleep and neither of these occurred (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 47 with Mishnah Berurah #30 and Biur Halachah).  If one sleeps a half an hour, one is obligated to recite these blessings (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 4:16 with Mishnah Berurah #34-35 and Biur Halachah).

"Ha-Noten Le-Yaef Koach"

One should recite this blessing even if he is very tired, since this blessing was not established for the person's individual state, but as a general praise of Hashem who created His world which includes the removal of tiredness (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 46 with Mishnah Berurah #22 and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 47 with Mishnah Berurah #28).  Chasidim recite all of the morning blessings even if they remain awake all night (Shulchan Aruch Ha-Rav 47:7 and Siddur Chabad in the laws before the morning blessings and blessings over learning Torah).

Blessings over Learning Torah

There is a dispute whether these blessings should be recited if one remains awake all night.  One option is that the morning before Shavuot, one make a condition that the blessings will be for the following day as well.  One can also hear the blessings from someone who slept and both of them have in mind that the blessings will apply to both of them (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 47 with Mishnah Berurah #25-28).  If neither of these is an option, one can recite the blessings based on the opinion of the Shut Sha'agat Aryeh (#24-25) that these blessings are a Torah Mitzvah and in the case of a doubt, one is strict to recite them.  This ruling is found in Maran Ha-Rav Kook's commentary on the siddur "Olat Re'eiyah" (vol. 1, p. 59 #5) and in Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef's responsa (Shut Yabia Omer vol. 5, Orach Chaim #6 and Shut Yechaveh Daat 3:33).

In this regard, women are also required to recite the blessings over learning Torah and these blessings are printed in all of the Siddurim for women.  Since women are not obligated to learn Torah, how can they recite the blessing "Blessed is Hashem…who has made us holy and commanded us to engage in words of Torah"?  There are various answers, but the answer of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, known as the Griz, on the Rambam (at the end of Hilchot Berachot, p. 10) and Maran Ha-Rav Kook (Orach Mishpat 11, 2) is that these are not blessings over performing a mitzvah but blessings of praise.  If the Torah was not given, the world would be in darkness for both men or women.  Women therefore also thank Hashem for the Torah being in the world. 

The Mitzvah of Settling the Land of Israel

[Tal Chermon – Moadim pp. 213-220]

The Mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel according to the Ramban
Is having our own State in the Land of Israel a means to an end, or an end in itself?  Does the State possess inherent value and holiness, or is it merely a way to accomplish certain goals, such as the observance of Mitzvot?  Is it no more than a place to achieve security for the Jews – a "safe haven," to quote Theodore Herzl?  If so, then there may be times when we can achieve these goals better somewhere else.  We may come to the conclusion that Jews are safer in the Exile than they are in the Land of Israel, or that it is easier to observe the Torah outside of the Land of Israel.  If this is the case, are we to give up the idea of a Jewish State?
To answer this question, we must first clarify how Halachah relates to the State, since Halachah is the system that enables us to put the Torah's ideals into practice.  Ramban, who categorized the halachot pertaining to the Land of Israel and the State of Israel, derived our halachic obligations regarding the Land from the verse, "And you shall inherit it [the Land of Israel] and you shall live in it" (Devarim 11:31).  This general Mitzvah includes three related stages (Ramban, additions to Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam, positive Mitzvah #4):
1.    It is a Mitzvah to live in the Land of Israel and not in the Exile.  This Mitzvah is incumbent upon every individual Jew.
2.    It is a Mitzvah to build up the Land of Israel and to make it flourish: "We may not allow it to remain desolate."  This Mitzvah is directed to the Nation and not to individuals.  Not every Jew is a contractor or a farmer (though doctors and teaches obviously also play important roles in developing the country).  Therefore, it is the Nation as a whole that is responsible for the population and development of all parts of the Land, by creating cities and villages, and developing agriculture and industry.
3.    It is a Mitzvah to possess the Land of Israel: "And we are forbidden to allow it to be ruled by any other nation."  The Land of Israel must belong to, and be under the sovereignty of the Nation of Israel.  And not be ruled by any other nation.  This Mitzvah is also incumbent upon the Nation, and not upon individuals (There are other Mitzvot that are the obligation of the Nation of Israel as a whole, i.e. appointing a king, building the Temple and declaring war).  Sovereignty of a nation over its land is the definition of a state.  Therefore, the Torah commands us to establish a sovereign Jewish State in the Land of Israel.

A Mitzvah for every generation, even in exile
We might think that this Mitzvah applied only until the period in which we entered the Land of Israel under the leadership of Yehoshua, or to the period in which King David conquered the Land, and that it is not relevant today.  After all, G-d sent Assyria and Babylonia to destroy the Kingdom of Israel, resulting in the Nation of Israel's exile.  Perhaps this is a sign that he that He no longer wishes us to have a sovereign State in the Land of Israel.  The Ramban, however, reiterates three times that the Mitzvot of conquering the Land of Israel and settling it apply throughout all generations, even during our exile.
It is incorrect to presume that our current dispersion indicates that G-d does not want us to leave the Exile and establish a State.  If it is a Mitzvah, no difficulty or obstacle can erase our obligation.  We cannot use difficult events as an excuse not to fulfill a Mitzvah.  This may be compared to a person who is about to write a check for Tzedakah, when his pen suddenly runs out of ink.  Is this a sign that he should not make a donation?  No, it is a Mitzvah to give Tzedakah.  If someone mistakenly violates the Shabbat laws is that a sign that that person is incapable of observing Shabbat?  No, it is a warning to be more careful and study the laws.  When we experience difficulty in fulfilling any Mitzvah, we are simply being told to try harder, even if it may take a long time until we see the results of our efforts.
Some of the Mitzvot which require the greatest exertion, and take the longest to bear fruit are Torah learning, prayer, acts of loving-kindness and settling the Land of Israel (Berachot 32b).  Before Yehoshua entered the Land of Israel, G-d urged him to "be strong and courageous" (Yehoshua 1:6, 7, 9, 18), signifying that it was going to be a major undertaking.  We never received the Land of Israel on a silver platter in the past, and our task today is no less fraught with difficulty.  We might wonder why the Ramban himself did not try to establish a State in the Land of Israel.  In his times, conditions were not conducive for its fulfillment.  Halachah terms this phenomenon as one's "force of circumstance" ("ones").  One who is unable to perform a Mitzvah is not exempt from it; he is simply not liable to punishment.  We must keep on persisting throughout the generations, until we succeed in fulfilling this Mitzvah.

Rambam: The Mitzvah to appoint a king
In his addenda to the Rambam's Sefer Ha-Mitzvot, the Ramban inserts the Mitzvah of possessing the Land of Israel and establishing sovereignty over it.  The Rambam himself, however, did not include this Mitzvah there as one of the 613 Mitzvot.  Yet, in his Mishneh Torah, he does state that it is a Mitzvah to live in the Land of Israel, and that this Mitzvah is as important as all the other Mitzvot combined.  In fact, it is so important that one spouse can legally force the other to fulfill it (Hilchot Melachim 5:9-12).  Therefore, its conspicuous omission from the Sefer Ha-Mitzvot is significant and requires explanation.
We do find that the Rambam considers the appointing of a king over the Nation of Israel a Mitzvah and includes it in his Sefer Ha-Mitzvot (ibid. 1:6).  Obviously, there can be no king unless there is a Nation over which to rule.  If the Nation of Israel does not live in its homeland – or is ruled by another nation – this Mitzvah is meaningless.  Therefore, the Mitzvah of appointing a king includes within it the obligation to establish a sovereign State of Israel for the Nation of Israel who resides there.  The term "king" does not necessarily mean a king in the narrow sense of the word, but refers to any authoritative leadership agreed upon by the Nation as a whole.  This government has all the power and authority of a king.  The laws concerning rebellion against a king are deduced from Yehoshua, who was the leader of the Nation of Israel, but nevertheless was not officially its king (Sanhedrin 49a; Hilchot Melachim 3:8).  For example, Yehoshua was told, "Any man who rebels against you…shall be killed" (Yehoshua 1:18).  Although he was not formally a king, defying his orders was deemed "rebellion against the king" because he was the national leader (National leaders are only granted kingly powers regarding the leadership of the Nation and do not have the special dispensations granted to kings such as permission to marry eighteen wives, etc…).
The Israeli government of today falls into the same category.  Since it is elected by the people, it is empowered to make national decisions.  The sovereignty of the State of Israel is certainly not a true kingship; it is a government and not a monarchy.  Moreover, it is not run according to religious principles.  Despite this, our government has some of the authority of a king of Israel (see Mishpat Cohain, pp. 128, 365), and is part of the necessary groundwork for fulfillment of the Mitzvah of establishing the Kingdom of Israel.  This is a long and arduous process, consisting of many phases, which will ultimately culminate in the Kingdom of the House of David.

Independence signifies rejuvenation and its loss signifies destruction
Loss of an independent State in the Land of Israel is the halachic definition of destruction.  According to Halachah, "One who sees the cities of Yehudah in their destruction must tear his clothes" (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 561).  Rav Yosef Karo writes, "As long as the cities are ruled by non-Jews – even if they are settled by Jews – they are termed 'destroyed'" (Beit Yosef on the Tur, Orach Chaim ibid. and cited in the Magen Avraham and Mishnah Berurah).  In other words, despite the fact that the cities of the Land of Israel are populated by Jews, if non-Jews rule them, their halachic status is one of "destruction."  If, however, Jews control the cities, they are considered "built," even if no one lives there.  Therefore, we do not tear our clothes today over the sight of any cities, standing or destroyed, that are under Israeli jurisdiction.   
After the Six Day War, our Rabbi, Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, ruled that we should no longer tear our clothes upon the sight of the Temple Mount, since it is under Israeli jurisdiction.  We have the political power to rebuild the Beit Ha-Mikdash today.  The fact that we have no immediate plans to do so, for various religious, political and other reasons (justified or not), does not negate the fact that it is our decision not to build the Beit Ha-Mikdash, and therefore we no longer tear our clothes when we see the Temple Mount, as we would if it were under non-Jewish domination (Be-Ma'arachah Ha-Tizburit, p. 55).
Loss of independence and exile also constitute the destruction of the Torah.  There are those who say, "The Torah alone is sufficient; there is no need for a State.  We managed very well without own State for two thousand years."  Our Sages were not of this opinion.  They explained, "Her [Zion's] king and princes are scattered among the nations – there is no Torah.  There is no greater nullification of Torah than the exile of Israel" (Chagigah 5b).  They did not intend us to take this statement to mean that we need devote less time to learning Torah in the Exile.  They meant that the Exile invalidates the essence and purpose of the Torah, which can only be realized when the Nation of Israel is in its homeland.

Independence equal peace
Another halachic reference to national independence as an ideal may be found in the laws of fast days.  The prophets declared four national fast days: the Seventeenth of Tammuz, the Ninth of Av, the Fast of Gedaliah and the Tenth of Tevet.  The prophet Zechariah promised us that in the future, these fast days will become days of joy (Zechariah 8:19).  The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (18b) expands upon this, listing three possible permutations regarding our obligation to fast on these days:
1.    In times of peace – these will be days of joy.
2.    In times of oppression – these remain fast days.
3.    When there is neither peace nor oppression, fasting is optional; it is not an obligatory Mitzvah.
The Rishonim (early halachic authorities) wrote, however, that regarding the Ninth of Av – when so many tragedies occurred – the Nation voluntarily accepted upon itself the obligation to fast from sunset to sunset with accompanying restrictions.  On the other fast days, we also fast, but with certain leniencies – only from sunrise to sunset and without the added restrictions of the Ninth of Av.  In any case, in times of real peace, we do not fast.
What is the definition of "peace"?  According to the Ramban, it refers to the time when the Beit Ha-Mikdash is built.  According to Rashi, it means "that the nations of the world do not rule Israel with a heavy hand" (both opinions are cited in the Beit Yosef on the Tur, Orach Chaim 415).  In other words, we are autonomous and not subject to foreign rule.  Rashi's definition of peace has no organic connection to the cessation of hostilities, but rather of to autonomy.  Even during times of war – as long as we have the ability to defend ourselves and fight back without losing our independence – according to Rashi, we are "at peace."
The Rambam writes that the Jews even fasted on the Ninth of Av during the Second Temple Period, after the Beit Ha-Mikdash had been rebuilt (Rambam, commentary on the Misnayot, Rosh Hashanah 1:3).  The Admor (Chasidic Rebbe) of Gur explains that the Rambam follows Rashi's definition of peace, which is determined by our independence from other nations.  For most of the Second Temple Period, we were under foreign domination – first under Persian rule and then Greek and Roman rule.  This period was defined as one in which "there was neither peace nor war," and in such a case, according to Rashi, the Jews should fast on the Ninth of Av, despite the fact that the Beit Ha-Mikdash was standing.  Only later, under the Maccabees, did we achieve self-rule.  The Rambam therefore rules that the Jews' lack of liberty during the Second Temple Period obligated them to fast, except for the brief period of the rule of the Chashmonaim (ibid.).
Today, the dove is the universally accepted symbol of peace.  Where did this symbol originate?  In our sources, the dove first appears in the story of Noach.  He sent the dove out of the ark to find out whether the floodwaters had sufficiently dried up, and she returned to him in the evening with "an olive leaf in her mouth" (Bereshit 8:11).  Our Sages commented: "The dove requested of G-d: Let my food be as bitter as a raw olive, but only dependent upon You, rather than as sweet as honey, but at the mercy of men" (Eruvin 18b).  The dove thereby revealed a desire for freedom, even at the price of self-sacrifice and inconvenience.  Thus, the dove is the symbol of independence and of the willingness to sacrifice in order to achieve this aim.  This is Rashi's definition of peace: that no other nation will rule over us, even if we have to fight to preserve our freedom.  According to this view, peace is not a state of "ceasefire," but rather one of independence despite the wars.

According to Rashi's outlook on peace, it would seem that we should not fast in this generation, since we have the State of Israel in our possession.  Aren't we independent in our country, free from the domination of other nations?  Aren't we at the stage of "peace," wherein the fast days are transformed into days of rejoicing?  There are those who say that our independence is not complete since we are not altogether free from the influence of the nations, as we are subject to political pressure.  This is not a valid claim because all nations of the world are subject to such pressure; this does not make them any less independent.  Rather, the reason that we still fast in our generation is because the majority of the Nation of Israel is still in Exile under the rule of other nations; Rashi's definition is peace therefore does not apply to the entire Nation.

Why are Women Obligated in all of the Mitzvot of the Seder

[From Rav Aviner's Commentary on the Haggadah]

Question: Why are women obligated in all of the Mitzvot of the Seder, when these Mitzvot are time-bound and women are exempt from time-bound Mitzvot? 
Answer: They also experienced this miracle (Pesachim 108a-b).  Here are two explanations for this answer.  According to Tosafot, women are obligated because they were also in Egyptian Exile and were redeemed.  According to Rashi, women are obligated because the Jewish People were redeemed on account of the righteous women of that generation.  The first soldier in the struggle against Egypt was Miriam.  "And I sent before You Moshe, Aharon and Miriam" (Michah 6:4).  "You have three great leaders" (Ta'anit 9a).  Miriam taught Torah to the women (Aramaic translation to Michah ibid.).  She was born during the most difficult time for the Nation of Israel.  She was therefore named "Miriam" based on the Hebrew word "Merirut" meaning "bitterness."  The Egyptians decreed that every baby boy was to be thrown into the river.  Amram, the leader of Israel, despaired and separated from his wife, Yocheved.  He said: "Why should we bring more children into the world to be killed by the Egyptians?"  The entire Jewish People followed his lead and separated from their wives.  This would have certainly destroyed the seed of Israel and we would have been defeated without a fight.  Everyone yielded except for one six year old girl – Miriam.  She said to her father: "Your decree is worse than Pharaoh's.  He only made a decree against the boys, but you made a decree against the boys and the girls!"  She succeeded in convincing her father; he remarried his wife, and all Israel followed his lead and did the same.  At the remarriage of her parents, Miriam danced with her little brother, Aharon, who was two years old.  When Moshe was born, Amram was again concerned and wondered if perhaps he acted imprudently.  Miriam, however, was confident that there would be a solution and, indeed, Moshe's salvation came in an unexpected way.  Even before this event, Miriam showed herself to be a warrior.  The Jewish midwives, Shifrah and Pu'ah, who saved the Jewish People, were Yocheved and Miriam.  Even though Miriam was young, she helped her mother.  Yocheved was called "Shifrah" because she made the child beautiful ("meshaperet" which is similar to "Shifrah") and cared for him.  Miriam was called "Pu'ah" because she spoke ("Po'ah" which is similar to "Pu'ah), sang songs, and hugged him.  When Pharaoh asked Yocheved why his decree to kill the baby boys was not followed, Yocheved evaded the question and said that the Jewish women are skilled at giving birth without a midwife.  Miriam, however, spoke brazenly to Pharaoh, "She stuck out her nose at him and said: Woe to the man from whom G-d comes to take retribution.  He was filled with anger against her and wanted to kill her.  Yocheved attempted to pacify Pharaoh: "Do not pay any attention to her.  She is a baby and does not know anything" (Shemot Rabbah 1:13).  Miriam obviously understood everything, and she began to organize a rebellion ("Meri" which is similar to "Miriam") among the Nation of Israel.  Our Sages relate how the women established a powerful underground in Egypt.  They would encourage their husbands, give birth in the fields under apple trees, "I roused your love under the apple tree" (Shir Ha-Shirim 8:5), and raise their children in secret.  They stubbornly continued to become pregnant and give birth, until they reached six hundred thousand.  Including the elderly, woman and children, they reached a few million.
At a much later time, during the donations to the Mishkan (desert sanctuary), the women brought copper mirrors as a donation.  At first, Moshe Rabbenu refused to accept them, since they were used to focus on the external beauty of women.  "Grace is false and beauty is vain, a woman who fears Hashem, she should be praised" (Mishlei 31:30).  Moshe was repulsed by the mirrors because they were used by the evil inclination.  The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said to him: "Accept them, because these are the most precious to me.”  Through these, the women created legions of Jewish children in Egypt.  These mirrors were not objects of the evil inclination, but of the awe of Hashem.  The daughters of Israel beautified themselves with them in order to entice their husbands who were exhausted from the back-breaking work.  When Pharaoh decreed that the men would sleep in the field and the women in the city, the women heated up food and brought food and drink to their husbands.  They would comfort them and say: We will not be enslaved eternally. Hashem will redeem us in the end.  They took the mirrors, and each one would look in the mirrors with her husband and entice him with words…as it says, 'I roused your love under the apple tree,'" and this is how they had children.  These mirrors are therefore called "legions of mirrors" ("Marot Ha-Tzovot"), because in their merit, legions ("Tzeva'ot") of Israel were born (see Rashi to Shemot 38:8).

Therefore, do not be surprised that after the splitting of the Red Sea, after the Song at the Sea of Moshe Rabbenu, "Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aharon, took the drum in her hand, and all of the women followed her with drums and dances" (Shemot 15:20).  They knew that the redemption was on account of their merit, the merit of the righteous women.  They danced, they overcame the laws of gravity, they floated in the air, and they were freed from the physical reality of the land.  When they left Egypt, they did not even bother to prepare leavened bread, yet they packed drums among their belongings out of the faith that a great salvation would occur and the chance would come to play music to the Master of the Universe, Redeemer of Israel.

How to do your Pesach Cleaning Cheerfully in Less than One Day

Going away for Pesach
If you are going away for Pesach and will not be at home during the entire holiday, you can be lenient and not clean for Pesach.  You should sell all of the Chametz (leaven) in the house, including all of the crumbs -- but not just the crumbs on their own, because that would have no halachic value.  It is possible, however, to sell the food in the cabinets and closets including the "Chametz dirt."  If someone is staying in your house, you need to clean the rooms which will be used.  The remaining unused rooms must be closed off with tape, and you must sell any Chametz that is in them.

There is still the question of how to fulfill the Mitzvah of Bedikat Chametz (the search for leaven).  If you arrive at your Pesach destination by the fourteenth of Nisan, perform the search there.  If you arrive on the morning of the fourteenth, you should clean well and check a small room, i.e. the entrance way and not sell the Chametz in that room.  You must also perform the search for Chametz, with a blessing, in the rooms in which you will live during Pesach - if no one else has done so.

Chametz smaller than a "Kezayit" (the volume of an olive)
Chametz which is less than a "Kezayit" may obviously not be eaten, but it is not included in the Torah prohibition of "Bal Yeira'eh" and "Bal Yimatzeh" (Chametz may not be seen or found on Pesach – Shemot 12:19, 13:7) (Responsa Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:145).  Regarding the Mishnah Berurah's statement (Sha'ar Ha-Tziun 451:6) that Chametz which can be seen is included in the prohibition of "Chametz She-Avar Alav Ha-Pesach" (using Chametz that has spent Pesach in a Jew's possession) -- the fact is that if it was included in the sale of Chametz, there is no problem (see Mishnah Berurah 142:33 and Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim 117:15).  A "Kezayit" is 27 cubic centimeters - 3 centimeter square or a little over a square inch.  Usually, only rooms in which children are allowed to bring sandwiches or cookies are likely to contain such big pieces of Chametz.  A room in which people do not walk around with food does not need to be cleaned at all.  Incidentally, you must take care not to hide pieces of Chametz which are larger than a "Kezayit" before "Bedikat Chametz," in case one of the pieces should get lost.  That way, you do not find them, you will not need to bother much to hunt for them, and you can rely on the "Bittul Chametz" (declaring Chametz ownerless) that you do after the search (Responsa Yechaveh Da’at 5:149).

Bedikat Chametz
Start "Bedikat Chametz" in a place where Chametz was used, so the blessing will apply to it.  Only search for Chametz in places in which there is a reasonable chance of finding it.  It is nearly impossible for Chametz which is a square inch to be hidden inside a book!  If there is a chance that the book has Chametz in it, then it must be thoroughly checked. Most books, however, do not need to be cleaned or checked. Cleaning and checking a sample is sufficient. It is customary not to place books that have not been checked for Chametz on the table during Pesach.  Everybody knows their kids' habits. Peek, and open here and there.  Regarding crumbs in the corners of the house: 1. They are not a "Kezayit."  2. They are inedible to a dog.  If there is bread behind a cabinet in an unreachable place, nobody will get to it on Pesach and it is as if it is buried -- just as you do not have to search under stones or under the house's foundations, since nobody will take Chametz from there.  

Educating Children
If you want to do a spring cleaning, this is certainly possible, but not before Pesach – this is not the appropriate time.  Pesach vacation is for taking trips, playing with the kids, being happy, dancing and preparing stories for the Seder.  A woman works hard all year long: "They enslaved the Jewish women with back-breaking work" (play on Shemot 1:13).  If the husband is on vacation too, this may be a good time to leave him with the kids, and give the wife a vacation!  That is what vacation is for – not for working like a donkey and scraping floors.  You can take trips, enjoy yourself, and arrive at the Seder rested in order to make a beautiful Seder and inspire the children.  If a woman wants to work like a donkey, and be a kind of slave, she is permitted to do so, but it is not good educationally.  She should be free in order to play with the kids.  We left the slavery of Egypt, and it was not to enter into our own slavery!  We do not have anything against house cleaning, but you should spread it out over the course of the year – each few months clean another room.  This is not the time for projects of cleaning and arranging.  In any event, when the Seder arrives there will still be disorder and cleaning that has not been completed.

If a woman is happy with suffering, she is allowed and it subtracts from the suffering of "Gehinom": Any suffering in this world is deducted from the suffering of "Gehinom."  If someone desires, this it is legitimate, but not before Pesach.  The month of Nissan is a happy month.

Husband's Help
Question: Does a husband have to help his wife?
Answer: A husband does not have to help his wife nor does a wife have to help her husband.  Rather, the two of them have to clean together since this is a shared home, and theirs is a shared life as well.

Children's Clothes
There may be cookies in your kids' pockets. Even the crumbs must be removed, since a child may put his hand into his pocket and then into his mouth.  You only have to check the clothes you will be wearing that season.  It is unnecessary to check any clothes that are put away and will not be worn now, such as winter clothes.

Question: Is it possible to simply wash them in a washing machine?
Answer: Running the clothes through a washing machine will not necessarily get rid of all of the crumbs.  The clothes must be checked.

Toys must also be checked.  However, you may put some or all of the toys away, and buy new toys as a present for the holiday!  This serves a double purpose of saving work and making the children happy.

Bathroom Cabinets
These may contain Chametz, such as wheat germ oil and alcohol derived from wheat.  What a waste to clean it.  Close and tape the cabinets and include it in the sale of Chametz.

You have to check between the pillows.  It is an interesting experience to find lost objects.

There is no need to clean them, just do not put them on the table on which you eat.  The custom is not to check books for the crumbs that remain in them, but to rely of the nullification (Haggadah Chazon Ovadiah of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef, p. 21).  Clean the books which you will want to read at the table on Pesach, or clean a few books for Pesach.

Dining Room
You do not have to clean everything, just the place where people eat, i.e. the chairs and the table.
Chairs: If the chairs are clean, there is no need to clean them.  If the kids throw cereal or other things on them and they do not look clean, clean them with a wet rag.
Table: There are two options: 1. Kashering with boiling water.  2. Covering with several layers of plastic and cloth tablecloths.

High Chair
If it is plastic, it may be immersed in a tub with boiling water and cleaning agents. Clean the cracks with a stiff brush. It is unnecessary to take the chair apart, because whatever is in the cracks and holes is inedible to a dog.

This room must be thoroughly cleaned and not one crumb of Chametz left. A crumb is not nullified even in a thousand times its volume. 

It is preferable not to Kasher a dishwasher. You can do the dishes by hand as in previous generations.  It is also possible to use disposable dishes.  

Question: Is it at all possible to clean a dishwasher?
Answer: It is possible, but it is a lot of work; there are a lot of rubber parts and connections.

If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, it is best not to Kasher it. Seal the oven and buy baked goods or buy a "wonder-pot" which allows you to bake on a stove.

Grates: Clean and cover the grates with as much aluminum foil as possible.  Use aluminum foil that is thick enough not to tear, but thin enough to bend and shape.  What a waste of time and effort!  The best thing is to use special Pesach burners.
Burners: There is no need to clean them; they get burned up in the course of use. Bottom Pan (where everything falls): In general, if some food falls into it, we do not pick it up, and it is considered "treif;" nevertheless, put aluminum foil on it. 
Knobs: Wipe them clean.

Clean it, but it does not have to be a lot of work. Of course, defrost the freezer (if you have an older model which does not defrost automatically) and clean it. It is best to eat up all Chametz before Pesach, but if expensive Chametz food products are left over, i.e. frozen foods, they may be wrapped up well, labeled "Chametz," stored in the back of the freezer/refrigerator and included in the list of Chametz sold before Pesach.  

If you have an old refrigerator with cracks or crevices in the door which is difficult to clean, do not use its inner shelves, but cover them with plastic. Similarly, you must clean the door's rubber part well. If it is old, sometimes it is easier to replace it.

Food Pantry
Do not clean.  It is a waste of time.  Seal, put sign or sticker not to use and include it in sale of Chametz.

Cabinets of dishes, utensils, pots and pans
Dishes, shelves, and drawers that will not be used on Pesach may be sealed, and need not be cleaned.  There are those who are strict to clean even the things which are used for Chametz, but one can be lenient on account of three reasons, each of which would be enough:
1. We sell all the crumbs together with the sale of Chametz.
2. The dishes are clean -- nobody puts a dirty dish away in the cabinet.
3. Even if there is "Chametz dirt," it is definitely less than a "Kezayit."
By the way, sometimes it is easier to paint than to clean. You can paint the corner of the kitchen where food flies using a water-based paint and the gas grates using aluminum paint. 

It can be Kashered by not using it for twenty-four hours, cleaning it for five minutes and boiling water in it for half an hour. All food cooked or baked in it on Pesach should be placed in a covered utensil.

It is possible to cover them with thick aluminum foil, and then there is no need to Kasher them at all; just wipe them with a rag. Sometimes it is complicated to cover, and then one can Kasher it. Where there are holes, pour floor bleach in them and then pour water from an electric kettle which is still boiling.  It is good for two people to do this: One to pour and the other to unplug.

Regarding the kitchen sink, there are a few solutions:
1. Do not put anything into the sink on Pesach, and wash the dishes in the air.  This, however, is unrealistic.
2. Put a plastic bin inside. Just make sure there is still a direct flow down the drain.
3. Thoroughly clean and Kasher the sink like the counters.

It is impossible to clean a toaster, but there is no need. Put it in the cabinet of sold Chametz. 

You have to do "Hagalah" (Kashering by dropping into boiling water) for the bowl and blades. As for the body of the mixer, wrap it in plastic -- making sure not to block the air holes. The best thing is to buy a cheap hand-mixer for Pesach.

Kashering dishes
This is a tremendous amount of work. It is preferable to buy new dishes.  True, it is expensive, so buy a few things each year. As for pots, it is possible to buy cheap aluminum ones which are okay for just seven days. There are cheap plastic plates as well as cheap cutlery.

You have to clean it. Take out the mats and gather the "Chametz dirt" – there is no need for a vacuum cleaner -- and clean the compartments and containers. There is no need to pour water or dismantle the seats. In general, there is no need to dismantle anything with screws. Any way you look at it -- if the Chametz is accessible, you can take it out without a screwdriver, and if it is not accessible, it will not come out on Pesach either.

Chumrot - Being Strict
If you know that you are being stricter than Halachah requires, and you choose to be strict, you deserve a blessing.  And if you accepted a stricture on yourself and now you want to stop, the way to do that is to do "Hatarah" (getting the vow annulled). But if you thought that a particular act was the actual Halachah, and now you realize it is a stricture, you do not need a "Hatarah."  If you have a strong desire to clean a lot, you deserve a blessing, especially for Pesach, "whoever is strict deserves a blessing."  You should not, however, force a stricture on yourself, but accept it with love.  

In light of what is written above, it should take about an hour for the dining room, two-three hours to Kasher the kitchen, and another hour to clean the rest of the house. In short, about one day!

All the rest of the cleaning jobs are either strictures or just made up.  When we work hard, we use up our energy and get mad at the kids. You have to educate the kids -- but not to educate them to be aggravated: "I told you not to go into this room anymore! Why did you go in?! Eat on the porch! Eat standing up! Don't touch!" The whole kitchen looks like it was overturned by vandals; the husband and kids are trembling in fear in some corner and eating; the mother looks at them like a drill sergeant; there's anger between husband and wife. This is preparation for Pesach?! This is educating the kids?  This is definitely not setting a positive example!  Our memories of Pesach should not be of a reign of terror.

If you clean together with the kids, that is great, but it must be a happy adventure.  First of all, you have to clean what you must – taking half a day – and after that if you want to do other things, you can clean with happiness and joy.  Clean, sing, pour water and "you will clean with joy from the wellsprings of salvation" (based on Yeshayahu 12:3).

The Rama rules in the Shulchan Aruch: "Every person should sweep his room before Bedikat Chametz, and check his pockets for Chametz, and the pockets or cuffs where you sometimes put Chametz also need to be checked" (Orach Chaim 433:11) The Mishnah Berurah (#46) adds: "It is the custom to sweep the whole house on thirteenth of Nisan, so that it will be ready to check immediately after nightfall on the fourteenth."  This custom is enough. Beyond that, "whoever is strict deserves a blessing" -- as far as Pesach goes, but not as far as the kids go.

It is understood that I am not forcing my opinion on anyone.  I am simply stating my humble opinion with explanations.  Whoever accepts the explanations will listen and whoever does not accept them will not.  I heard most of the practical suggestions about how to shorten the cleaning from women themselves.  It is possible that a woman has a strong desire not to shorten this work, and just the opposite, she finds joy in it.  That is okay.  Even she will benefit from all of the above, because she will not feel pressured that she might violate the Halachah, but rather she will clean with satisfaction and tranquility.

The essential point is the distinction between Chametz, which there is an obligation to clean with all the severity of the Halachah, and dirt – which should obviously be removed, but not necessarily before Pesach.  You can spread out the work of removing dirt over the whole year, so that we and our families do not suffer before Pesach.  I am not advocating poor housekeeping.  We should stand before Chametz with awe and fear, but not all dirt is Chametz.  Do not treat Chametz cavalierly, G-d forbid, but at the same time, not everything that is accepted as Pesach cleaning is directed at Chametz.

Have a kosher and happy Pesach.  We should ensure that we have a HAPPY Pesach and a KOSHER Purim (!).  We should arrive at the Seder night neither tired nor aching but happy, so that this night will be a powerful experience for the kids, and a great source of faith in Hashem, the Redeemer of Israel.

"Dirt is not Chametz and children are not the Pesach sacrifice!"