Friday, March 31, 2017

Acharon shel Pesach / Last Day of Pesach


From “Breslov Eikh she-Hu: Breslov Customs and Practices, Past and Present”

Like other Chassidim, Breslover Chassidim traditionally do not eat gebrokhts (matzah cooked or soaked in liquids containing water) on Pesach. However, in chutz la'aretz, gebrokhts are prepared and eaten on Acharon Shel Pesach, even in the vessels and dishes used for non-gebrokhts. Although this does not apply to Eretz Yisrael, where Shevi’i shel Pesach is the last day, something similar is observed during a leap year when Shabbos falls on Motza’ei Yom Tov. Then gebrokhts are eaten in the regular Pesach vessels and dishes, even by those who live in Eretz Yisrael.


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The Rebbe used to go to his daughter Udel for the se’udah on Acharon shel Pesach, during which the family ate soup with kneidlakh. Once Udel served her father two kneidlakh, and he blessed her that in their merit she should have two children. This berakhah came to pass—and Udel regretted that she had not served her father more kneidlakh.
(Avanehah Barzel, sec. 43, p. 33)

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The last meal of Acharon Shel Pesach is called the "Baal Shem Tov Se'udah," during which it is customary for a member of the group to retell the story of the Baal Shem Tov's attempted journey to the Holy Land. There is a special Breslover mesorah concerning the details of this story, preserved by oral tradition.
(Most Chassidim used to call this meal the “Baal Shem Tov Se’udah.” In the communities of Skver-Chernobyl, Skolye, and others, they still do. The Breslov nusach of the story of the Baal Shem Tov’s journey may be found in Eretz ha-Kodesh / Masa’ ha-Kodesh, Jerusalem: Toras ha-Netzach, 5758/1998; and in Yiddish in Der Otzar Fun Yiras Shomayim, Hotza’as Ben Adam, Aharon Weinstock, ed. 1992, pp. 71-87. The story was also published many years ago in Mabu’ey HaNachal. Other nus’chos of the story preserved by various Chassidic communities are presented and discussed by Rabbi Shlomo Abish, “Koros Chayav haMekoriyyim shel Rabban Shel Yisrael haBaal Shem Tov ha-Kadosh, zy ‘a,” #4, Kuntres Heichal haBaal Shem Tov, Nisan 5764 / 2004, pp. 145-152.)

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On the Shabbos after Pesach, some are accustomed to bake a challah with the form of a key on the loaf. Some engrave this shape by pressing a key into the dough; some attach a piece of dough in this shape; and some bake an actual key in the challah. (Reb Elazar Kenig’s family attaches a piece of dough shaped like a key.)
(Erkhei Yehoshua, Perach Shoshanim 156, mentions that the Manistritcher minhag was to engrave this shape. A reason for the minhag of baking a “shlissel challoh” is offered by the Apter Rov in Ohev Yisrael, “Le-Shabbos Achar Pesach,” pp. 282-283, 330-331.)

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Someone once complained to the Tcheriner Rov, “Purim is over, Pesach is over…” The Tcheriner Rov corrected him, replying, “Mer hobben areingenumen a Purim un a Pesach . . . We have internalized Purim and Pesach!”
(Heard from Rabbi Avraham Shimon Burshteyn)

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In this spirit, Reb Avraham Sternhartz would learn Likutey Moharan I, 135 (“Ki Ekakh Mo’ed”), saying, “I am taking the Yom Tov into myself!” He also used to mention that the number of this lesson (135) is be-gematria “matzah.”
(Mabu’i ha-Nachal, Kovetz 53, Nisan 5782, p. 37)

Shabbos HaGadol Thoughts




From Sichot HaRan 88 
Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom (Breslov Research Institute), pp. 205-206
  
It is customary to turn the tables over on Shabbos HaGadol, the Great Sabbath just before Pesach.

Speech remains in exile until Pesach.

Pesach is Pe Sach — “ a mouth speaking” (Rabbi Chaim Vital, Shaar HaKavannos, Inyan Pesach #6).

On Pesach speech emerges from Exile. This is the main idea of the Exodus.

It is written (Ezekiel 41:22), “ And He spoke to me, this is the Table that is before G-d.”

The table is speech.

“And He spoke to me— regarding my food and sustenance. This is the Table that is derived from the category of Speech.

Thus it is written (Deuteronomy 8:3), “On all that emanates from G-d’s mouth will man live.”

When Speech is not in exile, then the Table is turned toward us in an aspect of Face. “And He spoke to me, this is the Table that is before G-d.”

“Before” is lifney — literally “ to the face of.”

When “He spoke,” then the Table is in an aspect of Face.

Speech remains in exile until Pesach.

It is in Egypt until the Exodus.

The Tables are therefore turned over, showing that Speech is not yet in an aspect of Face.

Speech emerges from exile only on Pesach —Pe Sach — “The mouth speaking.”

Reb Gedaliah’s Seder Customs


From “Breslov Eikh she-Hu: Breslov Customs and Practices, Past and Present,” compiled by Dovid Zeitlin and Dovid Sears


Before going to shul on Seder night, Reb Gedaliah selected the three matzos for the ka’arah, and made other preparations, as well, such as arranging the chairs, etc. Thus, he could begin the Seder without unnecessary delay as soon as he came home from shul. However, he did not actually place the matzos on the table until he came home from shul. (Heard from Rabbi Yossel Sofer, citing his mother, Mrs. Mirel Sofer)


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During his early years, he used to check all of the matzos for kefulos before Pesach and separate the whole matzos from the broken ones in order to expedite things at the Seder. However, it seems that during his later years he did not always do so, and if he found kefulos, he broke them off and put them aside. (Heard from Rabbi Yosef Sofer, citing his mother, Mrs. Mirel Sofer)

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Like most communities today, Breslover Chassidim arrange the ka’arah (Seder plate) according to the custom of the Arizal as presented in the Mishnas Chasidim. That is, the three matzos (Chokhmah-Binah-Da’as) are placed under the six simanim, with the zero’a/bone (Chesed) to the upper right, beitzah/egg (Gevurah) to the upper left, morror/bitter herbs (Tiferes) in the middle, charoses/chopped fruit and nuts with grape juice or wine (Netzach) to the lower right, karpas/celery, parsley, or another vegetable that grows from the ground (Hod) to the lower left, and chazeres/second portion of bitter herbs (Yesod) between them, under the morror. The ka’arah itself corresponds to Malkhus. (See Mishnas Chassidim, Seder Leyl Pesach 2; Siddur ARI Rav Shabbsai, et al. This is also cited in Be’er Heitiv, Orach Chaim 473:8. Arukh haShulchan, Orach Chaim 473:11, states that this is the prevailing Ashkenazic custom today. However, the RaSHaSH and other Sefardic mekuballim do not place the matzos underneath the six simanim, but on the ka’arah at its upper point (i.e., “twelve o’clock” if it were the face of a clock). This is because traditionally the Sefardic matzos are smaller and made somewhat like pita breads. An interesting exchange on this subject between Rav Asher Zelig Margolios and the Minchas Elazar appears as an appendix in Kocho deRaSHBY, pp. 18-23.)

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Reb Avraham Sternhartz also arranged the ka’arah in this manner (i.e., as presented in the Mishnas Chassidim). (Heard from Rabbi Michel Dorfman)

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The matzos may be placed in a cloth bag with three sections; or between napkins; or in a special unit with three metal racks and a ka’arah on top. Reb Gedaliah did not own a special holder, but used to rest a plate containing the simanim in small vessels directly on top of the covered matzos. Reb Elazar explained that this was another example of his father’s extraordinary histapkus—contentment with his modest material circumstances and shunning of luxuries, even when it came to the performance of certain mitzvos.

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Mrs. Mirel Sofer remembered that Reb Gedaliah used napkins between the matzos.
(Heard from Rabbi Yosef Sofer)

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Reb Gedaliah’s minhag was to use romaine lettuce for morror, and he took the “kepel,” the part from which the leaves grow, for chazeres on the ka’arah. (That is, the bottom point of the upper segol was the leaf of the romaine lettuce, while the bottom point of the lower segol was the “kepel” of the romaine lettuce.) Once he tried to use chrein (horseradish) for the mitzvah of morror, but found that it made him ill.
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig. Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 473:5 states that romaine lettuce is the preferred type of morror. This is based on Pesachim 39a. However, cleaning these leaves to remove insects may be a difficult and time-consuming task. Therefore, some just use lettuce stalks. Special insect-free lettuce with rabbinic supervision is also available today.)

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However, Reb Avraham Sternhartz used chrein for morror.
(Heard from Rabbi Michel Dorfman)

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Since insect-free romaine lettuce was then unavailable, Reb Gedaliah advised his talmidim to put the lettuce in the coldest part of the refrigerator overnight. This would cause the insects to loosen their grip, so that cleaning would be easier the next day.
(Heard from Rabbi Dovid Shapiro)

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For karpas, Reb Gedaliah at first used potatoes, and then changed to a raw celery root (not the stalks or leaves), in keeping with the view of the Arizal. However, he also continued to serve cooked potatoes, which some people prefer. Many Sefardic kabbalists also use celery root for karpas.
(Heard from Rabbi Elazar Kenig and Rabbi Ephraim Kenig. This is supported by Kitzur Shulchan Arukh 118:2, Teshuvos Chasam Sofer, Orach Chaim, no. 132. See Rabbi Chaim Vital, Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, ‘Inyan Pesach, Drush 6, that the ARI was particular to use karpas and not any other vegetable. Sefardic authorities understand this to mean the celery root. Darkei Chaim ve-Shalom 589 states that the Minchas Elazar used a small amount of parsley leaves (petrizeil), which he held to be the karpas mentioned in the Gemara and Kisvei ARI zal. Some use the parsley root. The Hornestiepler Rebbe of Flatbush, Rabbi Mordekhai Twersky, told us that his family minhag is to use radishes. Bobover Chassidim use cucumbers. However, most Eastern European Jews used potatoes.)

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In any case, Breslover Chassidim do not use raw onions for karpas, in keeping with the Rebbe’s family mesorah that the Baal Shem Tov said not to eat raw onions.
(See Sichos haRan 265)

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However, Reb Gedaliah did not consider raw scallions to be the same as onions. When he spent Pesach in Brooklyn, at the home of Reb Moshe Grinberger, he considered using raw scallions for karpas.
(Heard from Rabbi Moshe Grinberger)

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Reb Gedaliah would eat the karpas without reclining.
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig. This follows the view of Shevilei Leket, 64; Matteh Moshe 626; Birkhei Yosef 474:14; Siddur ARI Rav Shabsai; Darkei Chaim ve-Shalom [Munkatch] 590; Minhagei Chabad; et al. Those who recline follow the shittah of Abudarham.)

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For zero’a, Reb Gedaliah used a roasted chicken wing.
(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchak Kenig, Rabbi Ephraim Kenig, and Rabbi Yossel Sofer)

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For beitzah, Reb Gedaliah used a hard-boiled egg, but did not roast it. (Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)


Reciting the Haggadah
Many Breslover Chassidim use the Haggadah Ohr Zarei’ach compiled by Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Beziliansky (better known as Reb Alter Tepliker). This work is a digest of Breslover teachings related to the text of the Haggadah. However, there is nothing special about the nusach of this Haggadah.

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The women in Reb Gedaliah’s family used to light the Yom Tov candles after the men came home from shul. They recited the berakhahShehechiyanu” immediately afterward, and did not wait to do so until Kiddush. (Heard from Rabbi Yosef Sofer, citing his mother, Mrs. Mirel Sofer)

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Reb Gedaliah said “Ha lachma ‘anya,” with a kametz under the heh, as in most versions of the Haggadah, not “Heh lachma ‘anya,” with a tzeyre under the heh—although the latter is the nusach of the Arizal. (The common nusach of “hah” with a kametz is mentioned in Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 473:6. For the nusach of the ARI zal, see Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar Chag haMatzos, 7; Mishnas Chassidim, Masechtas Seder Leyl Pesach, 5:2, et al. This is based on several pesukim: Bereishis 47:23, Yechezkel 16:43, and Daniel 2:43.)


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Reb Gedaliah followed the more common order of “Mah nishtanah” (Matzah, Maror, Matbilin, Mesubin), not that of the Yerushalmi (Matbilin, Matzah, Maror, Mesubin), although the Arizal preferred the latter.
(The common nusach is that of the Talmud Bavli, and is cited in the Machzor Vitry. It also appears in all of the Slavita siddurim. The ARI zal follows nusach of the Yerushalmi, as redacted by the RIF, RaMBaM, Rosh, and Baal haRoke’ach; see Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar Chag haMatzos 7. Chassidic sources that follow the minhag ARI include Siddur Baal ha-Tanya; Darkei Chaim veShalom [Munkatch] 599; Erkhei Yehoshua [Manistritch], Perach Shoshanim 121; Siddur Tzelosa deShlomo [Bobov]; et al. The Arizal explains that the Four Questions parallel the Four Worlds, in ascending order.)

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Reb Gedaliah and his family recited the “Mah nishtanahs” in unison, not the children first, followed by the adults.
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)

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After the “Mah nishtanahs,” Reb Gedaliah used to exclaim, “Oo-ah! Azoyne shtarkeh kashas . . . Such strong questions!” Then he would say “Der teretz is . . . The answer is…” and recite “Avodim hoyinu.” (Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)

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Sometimes after reciting the section “ ‘Avodim hoyinu,” he would add: “Me darf es noch fahrenferen. Tzorekh biur … We need to give more of an answer. This needs explanation…” (Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)

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Reb Elazar has told his family members and talmidim that when we mention the ben sho’el during the Haggadah, this is an “es ratzon.” Therefore, one should quietly daven for whatever one needs. (Heard from Mrs. Hindy Hecht)

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Reb Avraham Sternhartz knew all of Reb Noson’s children. He heard from them, and particularly from Reb Noson’s daughter Chanah Tzirel, “az Pesach banacht is geven zeyr a shverrer tzeit . . . Pesach night was an extremely difficult time . . . ‘Es is geven fun di shverster tzeiten fun a gantz yohr … It was one of the hardest times of the entire year.” Reb Avraham explained that first, there were all of the hakhanos, physical and spiritual, and later during the Seder, Reb Noson was enflamed with emotion. Reb Noson used to recite the Haggadah loudly and with great fervor. His deveykus was so intense that once—and possibly more than once—when he came to the words “U-ve-morah gadol—zeh gilu’i Shekhinah,” he actually fainted. His family was therefore extremely nervous about what would happen at the Seder. They were afraid that he might suddenly expire.
(Heard from Rabbi Avraham Shimon Burshteyn)

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Reb Gedaliah recited the Haggadah like a “flamm fier,” with intense passion. He conducted the Seder with awe and yiras Shomayim, creating a rarified atmosphere that affected everyone present. He did not allow the emotional climate to degenerate, notwithstanding all the children and the lateness of the hour, but maintained this exalted mood from beginning to end.
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)

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Reb Ephraim Kenig once remarked that the way his father recited the Haggadah, intensely probing the meaning of its words, was “a perish af der gantzeh Haggadah.”



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Reb Gedaliah would place the Kos shel Eliyahu on the table at the beginning of the Seder and fill it after bentching. Thus, it was visible throughout the Seder. He used a slightly larger kos than the rest, made of glass, not silver.
(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchak Kenig and Rabbi Yosef Sofer, citing his mother, Mrs. Mirel Sofer)

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The wine from the kos shel Eliyahu was used the next morning for Kiddush.
(Heard from Rabbi Yosef Sofer, citing his mother, Mrs. Mirel Sofer)

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Reb Gedaliah sometimes spoke briefly after “‘Avodim hoyinu,” and perhaps two or three times during “Maggid.” However, he and his sons and guests did not say vertlach, or engage in lengthy discussion of the Haggadah.
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)

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Reb Gedaliah would spill a drop of wine while reciting each of the Ten Plagues, and not remove the wine with his finger.



(Heard from Rabbi Yossel Sofer, citing his mother, Mrs. Mirel Sofer. Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar Chag haMatzos 7, with glosses of Rabbi Yaakov Tzemach, hagahah 1; cf. Shulchan Arukh haRav 473:51, s.v. “ve-yesh nohagin”; Kaf haChaim, ad loc. 166. The custom of using one’s finger is also mentioned by these sources, as well as by the RaMA, Orach Chaim 473:74.)

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The spilled wine would be collected and poured into an unglazed earthenware container, and later disposed of.
(Heard from Rabbi Yossel Sofer, citing his mother, Mrs. Mirel Sofer)

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Reb Elazar Kenig continues his father’s minhag of personally making the charoses for the Seder, with the help of one or two of his daughters. His recipe is: 10 apples, peeled and cored; 10 pears, peeled and cored; 10 bananas, peeled and sliced. The entire mixture is put through a food processor. Then Reb Elazar adds the juice of one pomegranate, strained through a cloth; three cups of home made sweet red wine; plus ground walnuts, ground almonds, ground cinnamon, ground ginger. He divides the batch into a number of separate bags for his married children who will not be with him for the Seder. The rest is used at his table.
(Heard from Mrs. Hindy Hecht)

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Reb Gedaliah would dip the morror in charoses for both morror and korekh, and immediately shake it off. He did not eat charoses together with the matzah and morror for korekh.
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig. According to Erkhei Yehoshua, Perach Shoshanim 131, the Manistritcher minhag was to include charoses in the korekh/sandwich. Sefer Minhagim-Chabad similarly states that one dips the romaine lettuce in charoses and then shakes it off, as prior to eating the marror.)



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He added a little grated horseradish to the lettuce for korekh, but did not do so for morror.
(Heard from Rabbi Yossel Sofer, citing his mother, Mrs. Mirel Sofer)

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When Reb Avraham Sternhartz ate the morror, he would exclaim again and again, “Ot azoy is gevezen bitter di Yidden… Just like this, it was bitter for the Jews!” Reb Gedaliah used to repeat Reb Avraham’s words when he ate the marror, as well. (Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)

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During the meal, Reb Gedaliah would use a bed in order to recline while eating. However, he would sit in the usual manner while eating the soup, or if it became difficult for him at some point.
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig. This reflects the view of the Rama, Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 472:7, end; also cf. Mishnah Berurah, ad loc., that this is only le-chatchilah. Some say that this is entirely not applicable today.)

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In Reb Gedaliah’s home, it was customary to eat the egg after the fish, not immediately at the beginning of the meal. He used the egg on his ka’arah (unlike those who leave all the minim on the ka’arah for the entire Seder).
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)

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However, Reb Elazar did not remember his father waiting to eat the egg.

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Reb Gedaliah would slice the egg into sections, dip the sections in salt water, and give them to everyone with a spoon. If he needed more slices, he would use a second egg, in addition to the one from the ka’arah. Before eating the egg, he would announce, “Zekher le-chagigah.”
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)

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However, Mrs. Mirel Sofer remembered that when she was a young girl, Reb Gedaliah did not use the egg from the ka’arah, but took eggs from a separate bowl, dipped them into salt water, and distributed them. The egg from the ka’arah was eaten during the day meal, and Reb Gedaliah would distribute slices to those present.
(Heard from Rabbi Yosef Sofer)

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In Reb Gedaliah’s house, sour pickles, chrein mixed with beets, and other sharp-tasting foods and condiments were not served during the Seder meal. It seems that this was because the Haggadah, in the second of the Four Questions, states: “ba-laylah ha-zeh, marror.” This is an old hanhagah, which is mentioned in various seforim.
(Heard from Rabbi Ephraim Kenig)

Pesach


The Rebbe stated that on Pesach one should cry out in davenning.
(Likkutei Moharan I, 201)

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Like his saintly great-grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov, the Rebbe did not eat gebrokhts. However, in the Breslov community this chumrah is not taken to extremes. This is due to the Rebbe’s remarks about not taking on chumros yeseiros (excessive stringencies). Therefore, although most Breslovers refrain from gebrokhts, those who have a previous custom to eat gebrokhts are not obligated to change.
(Re. Rabbi Nachman’s attitude about chumros yeseiros, see Sichos ha-Ran (English: “Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom,” Breslov Research Institute), section 235. This seems to have been the prevailing view in the circle of the Baal Shem Tov; cf. Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, Imrei Pinchas ha-Shalem [Frankel edition, Bnei Brak 2003], vol. I, “Pesach,” sec. 170-173, that Reb Pinchas was opposed to excessive stringencies except on Pesach, and even then limited himself to those mentioned in the Shulchan Arukh.)

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The Rebbe stated that reciting the Haggadah in a loud voice (be-kol ram) is a form of tikkun ha-bris, rectification of the Covenant.
(Likkutei Moharan I, 20:10)

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Shevi’i shel Pesach is one of the five times of the year that Breslover Chassidim are particular to daven together ki-vasikin, following the custom of the Baal Shem Tov.
(See Yemey Moharnat II, 71)

Pesach Customs of the Barsky Family



Rabbi Shimshon Barsky of Bnei Brak, depicted in the photo above, is a son of Rabbi Noson Barsky and grandson of Rabbi Shimshon Barsky of Uman. He remembered a number of Pesach customs and hanhagos of his father and grandfather.

Rabbi Shimshon Barsky of Uman, some of whose teaching were published as “Likutey Eitzos—Ivri Teitch,” was a descendant of Rebbe Nachman through his daughter Sarah, and was a leading figure in the Breslov community before the Stalinist persecutions. His son Reb Noson spent the first twenty years of his life with his parents in Uman, until in 1914 on the eve of World War I, he married the daughter of Rabbi Henich Gutterman, a Gerer Chassid from Lublin, Poland, who had become a Breslover. From then on, Reb Noson lived in Lublin, while his father remained in Uman until his passing in 1935. Reb Noson and his wife and seven children miraculously escaped to Eretz Yisrael two weeks before the outbreak of World War II, when Shimshon was four years old. Reb Noson Barsky’s customs mentioned below were also those of his father.

Reb Shimshon remembered that his father Reb Noson Barsky allowed the smaller children to eat gebrokhts. However, when the children were older, he no longer permitted gebrokhts in his home.

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Reb Noson Barsky put out ten pieces of bread, but did not perform a lengthy bedikas chometz.

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He wore a spodek and kittel at the Seder.

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His wife and any other women present lit the candles when the men came home from shul. They were yotzei “Shehechiyanu” after Kiddush.

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He did not bentch the children before the Seder.

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Only the men and boys said Kiddush. The women just listened, as on a regular Shabbos or Yom Tov. Reb Noson Barsky and his sons recited Kiddush together, and the boys also said the words out loud.

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The bekhers they used contained a smaller shi’ur (presumably around 4 oz.), as was common in those parts of Eastern Europe in past generations.

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The men leaned on a pillow next to the arm of the chair for the mitzvos, but not during the se’udah. (According to Ashkenazic custom, the women did not recline.)

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Kadesh, Urchatz,” etc., were recited at the beginning of the Seder, and then at each component of the Seder, the name of the new section was announced with the niggun of the Haggadah.

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After “Yachatz,” Reb Noson Barsky wrapped the Afikoman and put it aside. The children “stole” the Afikoman, and Reb Noson bartered to get it back, according to the common minhag.

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Only the children said “Mah nishtanah,” and the adults did not repeat it.

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After the Four Questions, Reb Noson said, “Der teretz is…” and recited “ Avodim hoyinu.”

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He used chrein for both morror and korekh. Lettuce was not available in either Poland or the Ukraine at Pesach time.

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For karpas, he used potato. This seems to have been the common minhag.

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He reclined for karpas.

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The egg for the ka’arah was boiled and then roasted on the fire.

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Charoses consisted of grated apples, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and wine.

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The wine was added to the charoses when it was prepared, not when the mixture was place on the table. A small amount of charoses was placed on the ka’arah, and the rest remained on the table in a bowl for serving.

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Reb Noson Barsky placed a plate containing the six simanim on top of the three covered matzos.

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He did not use the egg from the ka’arah at the beginning of the meal, but distributed eggs from a separate bowl.

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He dipped the chrein into the charoses and left a little charoses on the chrein (not a lot) both by morror and korekh. He was not makpid about preventing the the matzah from coming in contact with the charoses for korekh.

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On the ka’arah, he used grated chrein for morror (i.e., the lowest point of the upper segol), and a piece of the head of the horseradish root for chazeres (i.e., the lowest point of the lower segol).

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For zero’a, he used a roasted chicken wing.

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He used the Ohr Zarei’ach Haggadah compiled by Rabbi Alter Tepliker.

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He recited the Haggadah with intense hisorerus, and chanted the entire Haggadah the same niggun except for “Vehi she’omdoh,” which he sang to the familiar upbeat melody that is still sung by many Chassidim.

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He simply recited the Haggadah and explained a few highlights briefly to his family in Yiddish.

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He sent the children to open the door for “Shfokh chamoskha,” and no one said “Borukh ha-boh.” The kos shel Eliyohu was placed on the table and filled after bentching, prior to “Shfokh chamoskha.”

*

After concluding the Seder, he recited Shir HaShirim with great deveykus.

Nisan


From “Breslov Aikh she-Hu: Breslov Customs and Practices, Past and Present” compiled by Dovid Zeitlin and Dovid Sears
Rebbe Nachman taught that the days of Nisan are days of teshuvah, like the days of Tishrei.
(Likutey Moharan I, 49)

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The Rebbe was born on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, which the Mishnah (Rosh Hashanah 1:1) designates as the "Rosh Hashanah shel malakhim," the day on which the reign of a Jewish king officially begins. Today many Breslover Chassidim travel to Uman to pray near the Rebbe's tziyun on Rosh Chodesh Nisan because it, too, is a “Rosh Hashanah,” and to some extent possesses the segulos of Rosh Hashanah.

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In a letter to Rabbi Avraham Jacobovitch of Toronto, Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz mentions that Nisan is the head of all months and is a time of simchah in “all the worlds”; each day is comparable to a Rosh Chodesh and a Yom Tov; and through this simchah, one can attain tikkun ha-neshamah and shemiras ha-bris, as discussed in Likkutei Moharan I, 49.
(Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, Michtevei Shmuel [Jerusalem: Keren R’ Yisrael Dov Odesser, first edition], Letter 26, p. 103)

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Beginning on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the minhag in the Ukraine was for each person to recite the parshas ha-nasi followed by the “yehi ratzon” after Shacharis, not to read it from the Sefer Torah in public. This was also the Breslover minhag.

(Heard from Rabbi Michel Dorfman. Those who read the nasi privately include the communities of Chernobyl-Skver, Boyan, Karlin-Stolin, Chabad, etc. Reading it from a Sefer Torah was the minhag of Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz, also mentioned in Darkey Chaim ve-Shalom [Munkatch])

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However, in recent years it became the minhag in the Tzefas Breslov community to read the nasi from the Sefer Torah. This change was made out of concern that otherwise people might forget to do so.

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Reb Elazar Kenig and a group of talmidim from Tzefas usually go to Uman immediately after Pesach to spend the last days of Nisan at the Rebbe's tziyun. The chaburah usually spends one day visiting the kivrei tzaddikim in Berditchev, Medzhibuzh, and Breslov. While in Uman, Reb Elazar teaches Sippurey Ma’asiyos and Likutey Moharan every day, and the chaburah recites Tikkun ha-Klalli be-tzibbur.

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Reb Gedaliah Kenig and his talmidim used to go to Tzefas in order to pray there on Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar. When asked about this, Reb Gedaliah said that this was the date that Mosdos Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma purchased its first property in Tzefas.

(Heard from Rabbi Dovid Shapiro)

Rabbi Herschel Wasilski’s Pesach Customs

Photo by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Rabbi Herschel Wasilski’s Pesach Cutoms
From “Breslov Eikh she-Hu: Breslov Customs and Practices, Past and Present,” a work-in-progress compiled by Dovid Sears and Dovid Zeitlin.

Rabbi Zvi Yosef (“Herschel”) Wasilski (1922-1981) was the central figure in the New York Breslov community after World War II. There is a Breslover shtiebel in his name on Lee Avenue in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, which he founded, and which is led today by his son Rabbi Avraham Moshe Wasilski. Reb Avraham Moshe kindly provided the information posted here.

A descendent of many distinguished talmidei chakhomim, Rabbi Herschel Wasilski was born in Vilna, Lithuania, raised in Oszmiana on the outskirts of the city. At age thirteen his parents sent him to learn in Rabbi Elchonan Wasserman’s famous yeshivah in Baranovitch. Many talmidim in Baranovitch were Breslover Chassidim, and Reb Herschel soon became a Breslover, too. With the invasion of the Nazis, the yeshivah was forced to disband and reestablish itself in Vilna. When Vilna came under attack, Reb Herschel was forced to flee. Captured by the Russian army, he spent the rest of the war in Siberia and then in Samarkand. There, he became a close and lifelong friend of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender, who also survived the war and went on to lead the Breslov kehillah in Yerushalayim. Reb Herschel emigrated to New York in 1946, soon entering the Torah Vodaath Yeshivah in Williamsburg, where he later served as a maggid shiur, melamed and menahel. Reb Herschel was a devoted Breslover Chassid who worked tirelessly for the Breslov chaburah in New York and on behalf of the Breslover shul and yeshivah in Yerushalayim and the Breslover Chassidim in Eretz Yisrael.

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Rabbi Avraham Moshe recalled that his father, zikhrono liv’rakha, had many personal chumros which reflected his deep yiras Shomayim—but not hakpodos. His Pesach hanhagos were all conducted in a pleasant spirit.

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He came from a Litvishe family that basically followed the minhagey ha-GRA. However, unlike his family, Reb Herschel did not eat gebrokhts on Pesach. There were no gebrochts in his home, even on Acharon shel Pesach. Even the children were not allowed to eat gebrokhts.

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Reb Herschel did not “mish” (eat food prepared in other people’s homes, or in restaurants or at public events) all year long—but his hatznei’a leches (modest conduct) was so thorough that no one ever noticed. This certainly included Pesach. But on Acharon shel Pesach, for the Baal Shem Tov Seudah (Ne’ilas HaChag), it is customary for everyone to bring some food to shul (usually matzos, hard-boiled eggs, and fruit) which the entire chaburah shares. This was the one time that Reb Herschel did “mish,” as an expression of achdus.

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He refrained from commercial food products all year long, with a few exceptions such as bakery bread, rolls, and cake; milk and cottage cheese. On Pesach he used only staples such as salt and sugar (with the hekhsher of the Hisachdus HaRabbonim), and wine. Rebbetzin Wasilski and later her older daughters did all the cooking. The Rebbetzin made her own non-gebrokhts lokhshen. She made her own shmaltz rather than use commercial oil, and she ground her own fish for gefilte fish. On Pesach, she squeezed her own orange juice and grape juice, and they didn’t even use selzer.

Yet, Reb Avraham Moshe added, his father never made an issue about these hanhagos; nobody thought that this was anything special, or that Reb Herschel was “extra frum.” Everything was done with temimus u-pshitus and with simchah. 

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Reb Herschel used handmade shmurah matzos from the Poilisher Matzoh Bakery on the Lower East Side, which he participated in baking with a special chaburah. The chaburah included his brother-in-law Rabbi Tuvia Kaplan, his younger brother Rabbi Boruch Kaplan (founder of Beis Yaakov Seminary in America), and Rabbi Dovid Bender (Menahel of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and father of Rabbi Yaakov Bender). They were particular to use razeveh (whole wheat) matzos, as a hiddur in halakhah. (The whole wheat flour was only sifted once, leaving less chance for error.)

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Reb Herschel used these handmade shmurah matzos, not machine matzos, throughout Pesach. Rebbetzin Wasilski and the children also used only these handmade shmurah matzos.
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He used to leave some matzos on a tray in the middle of the dining table throughout the entire Pesach, in case anyone wanted to wash and make “hamotzi.

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Bedikas chometz: The bedikah was a serious avodah for Reb Herschel. He did not speak the entire time, and all the lights in his home were turned off. They would put out ten small pieces of bread, as is the common minhag. Reb Herschel used a long wax candle, which one of his young children would hold for him. He would sweep any crumbs with a feather into a white cloth. He also used a wooden spoon. Yet he did not perform an unusually long bedikah. It took 15-20 minutes to search their seven and a half room apartment.

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In those years, bedikas chometz kits were not common. Reb Herschel would get a feather from the local butcher.

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He used to say the tefillah after bedikas chometz from the Rabbi Yaakov Emden Siddur (“Dinei Erev Pesach,” p. 226, Lemberg ed.).

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After the bedikah, he would tie up the the white cloth and its contents, including the feather and spoon, with string. Then he would hang it from the light fixture in the front hall of the apartment until the morning.

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He would recite the tefillah after bi’ur chometz from the Rabbi Yaakov Emden Siddur. Alluding to Yechezkel 36:26, this tefillah asks that Hashem grant us a “lev bosor” (heart of flesh). In Chayei Moharan (sec. 339), Reb Noson mentions that the Rebbe related “lev bosor” to “Breslov” (since they have the same letters). Therefore, Reb Herschel would always tell his children and all those nearby after reciting the tefillah, “So we’re asking to become Breslover Chassidim!”

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Hadlokas HaNeiros: The women would light the candles before the zman on the first night, as on Erev Shabbos. The second night they would light after tzes ha-kokhavim. Reb Avraham Moshe assumed that the women recited their own “Shehechiyanu” after lighting, although he wasn’t absolutely sure.

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Reb Avraham Moshe remembered that when his father came to the Seder, he had an aura of malkhus. His face would be radiantanpin nehirin.” Reb Herschel wore a white yarmulke and white kittel. He used his regular armchair covered with a white cloth, to the left of which was another chair covered in white with several pillows on which he would recline when drinking the wine or eating the matzoh, etc. But he did not lay down, nor did he recline during the meal.

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His sons did not use pillows, but just leaned at the required times. The guests did not have their own pillows, either—and there were always guests.

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Reb Herschel did not bentch the children before the Seder (although he did so before the Shabbos meal on Friday nights).

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Reb Herschel himself picked out the matzos for “Kohen, Levi, Yisroel” (arranging them in that order—“Kohen” on top, “Levi” in the middle, and “Yisroel” on the bottom), and then set up the Ka’arah.

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Ka’arah / Seder Plate: They used one ka’arah, set up according to the minhag of the Arizal (which is the common minhag in Breslov). However, each guest had his own lechem mishneh. The children did not have their own matzos, though, even Reb Herschel’s grown sons.

Simanei HaKa’arah:

Karpas: Reb Herschel used both potato and onion for karpas. Although he preferred potato, he always served onion as well, since this was his father’s minhag (as it was throughout Lithuania). So the onion was on the table, even though he didn’t use it. (This probably reflected the Rebbe’s caution not to eat raw onions in Sichos HaRan 265).

Whenever Rebbetzin Wasilski’s father Rabbi Yaakov Mordechai Gordon joined them for Pesach, they also served raddish for karpas, since that was his family minhag. (This was customary in the region of Kobrin, where his family came from.)

Chazeres: He used the head (keppel) of the horseradish root.

Moror: He used the end (i.e., the root, not the tip) of a romaine lettuce stalk. 

Beitzah: He used a boiled egg, not roasted.

Zeroah: He used the neck of a chicken (gorgel). But in later years, he used the wing (fliegel).

Charoses: Like most Eastern Eurpean Jews, he used a mixture of grated apples, wine, chopped nuts and maybe cinnamon. He would mix them together himself in the late afternoon on Erev Pesach.

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Kadesh, Urchatz, etc.: Reb Herschel led the entire Seder, and everyone else followed along. He alone recited “Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz…” (If anyone wished to say it for themselves, they would do so quietly.) He also announced each of these simanim individually as the Seder progressed, and often would comment on it.

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Kiddush: According to the common Litvishe custom, Reb Herschel alone made Kiddush on Shabbos and Yom Tov for his family. However, on Pesach every son made his own Kiddush one after the other, in the order of their ages.

He drank the entire kos for each of the four cups of wine—even though in those days only Tokay, Malaga or Concord wine were available. He usually used Concord wine.

He used an 8 or 9 oz. glass kos on Shabbos and Yom Tov and also at the Pesach Seder. Yet he would drink the contents all at once. However, the women and children over bar mitzvah didn’t use such large glasses; they were probably 6 oz. glasses.

Every child also had his own Kiddush cup, even if it was a small shiur. This included even the younger children, beginning when they were as young as three or four.

Everyone stood for Kiddush. The women held their glasses and quietly recited the Kiddush at the same time as Reb Herschel. Then the male guests and his sons would recite Kiddush, one after another. No one left the table during Kiddush, but everyone listened to everyone one else. There was no hefkerus.

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Maggid: With Reb Herschel leading, everyone would recite the text of the Haggadah together, section by section. He would frequently add chiddushei Torah based on Breslov teachings. These chiddushim were new every year. Occasionally one of the guests would add a vertl, but this was infrequent.

Reb Herschel recited the Haggadah with a certain niggun or nusach that he probably heard from his father.

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He always used Reb Alter Tepliker’s Ohr Zareich Haggadah, which includes various excerpts from the Breslover seforim. Reb Avrohom Moshe recalled that his father had an old edition, probably from the 1940s.

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Karpas: He did not recline for karpas.

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Yachatz: He would set aside the Afikoman in a cloth bag nearby, and during the Seder one of the children would “steal” it and then bargain with him at the end of the meal, as is common.

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He followed the common nusachHoh lachma anya” (with a kometz-heh for “hoh”), not “hey lachma anya” or “ki-hoh lachma anya”—although he was well aware of these variant nuschos. This probably reflected his father’s custom.

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Mah Nishtanah: The younger boys and girls would recite the “Fee’ir Kashas,” and Reb Herschel alone would repeat them when they were through. (He would often preface this by saying, “I was the youngest child in my family.”) He would then say, “Der teretz iz… (the answer is)…” followed by “Avodim hoyinu.”

They said the “Mah Nishtanah” in the order of the Bavli, as found in most Haggadahs, and not according to the Yerushalmi and Arizal (even though most of the other Breslover hanhagos conform to those of the Arizal).

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In addition to commenting on the Haggadah, he would sing at various points, particularly in Hallel, and then at length after the conclusion of the Seder. Everyone would enthusiastically join in the singing. There were years when some of his talmidim and other local yeshivah bochurim stopped by just to witness Reb Herschel’s Seder (which was much longer than most).

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Mitzvas Moror: He would use only the stalks of romaine lettuce, removing the rest of the leaves and then rinsing the stalks thoroughly with water.

He would add some white chrein on top of a few lettuce stalks, with a very small amount of charoses. However, he distributed large shiurim, six or seven stalks.

For his personal use, he would prepare slices of the ends of the lettuce (i.e., the lower part from which the leaves grow) and add white chrein to those slices. This too may have been his father’s minhag.

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Korekh: Reb Herschel would add a little charoses to the chrein and lettuce stalks. Despite his carefulness to avoid gebrokhts, he was not concerned with the charoses touching the matzohs for korekh.

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Beitzah: At the beginning of the meal itself, he would serve hard-boiled eggs. For himself, he would slice an egg and put the slices in a small dish of salt water. This was his father’s minhag. (In Eastern Europe, many families only ate slices of the egg; they could not give each person a whole egg, due to poverty.)

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By the time he got to the fourth kos, which was after 4:00 AM—or sometimes after finishing the Seder—he often would go to the kitchen sink and dampen his forehead with cold water to wake himself up in order to continue his avodah. Reb Avrohom Moshe speculated that he might have even done so for the sake of the children, whom he encouraged to do the same thing.

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Afikoman: Reb Herschel was never makpid about the zman of chatzos. Reb Avraham Moshe does not remember his father even mentioning it. He just did his avodah in its own time. And in fact there were many Gedolei Yisrael who were not makpid about the zman chatzos on the Seder nights.

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After completing the Seder, he would lead the singing of the various songs at the end, some of which he sang in Yiddish or Russian, as well as in Hebrew. Then he would recite aloud the entire “Shir HaShirim.” After this, he would go to wake up those who asked him to do so for Shacharis, go to the mikveh and then to shul. (He did not daven ki-vasikin but a little after 7:00 AM.) Thus, he would be awake all night long on both of the first two nights of Pesach.

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Reb Avrohom Moshe added that one should remember that his father and his peers were strong people, and they were capable of doing these avodahs with simchah shel mitzvah and without becoming overstressed. Reb Herschel himself would always tell people that if they would not be able to function the next day, they surely should finish the Seder earlier.

Reb Avrohom Moshe added a vort of his own about this issue. The Haggadah mentions how five chakhomim stayed up all night discussing yetziyas Mitzrayim, until their talmidim came and announced that the time had arrived for kriyas Shema shel Shacharis. Did the sages need their talmidim to tell them this? Maybe we can infer from this that the talmidim wanted to inform their teachers that they couldn’t stay up all night like their masters and function properly the next day!

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After Pesach:

Shlissel Challoh: At first, the Wasilskis did not bake a “shlissel challoh” for the Shabbos after Pesach. But in the later years, Rebbetzin Wasilski would bake a challoh with the form of a key on top of the loaf, not an actual key. (There are a number of different customs for baking shlissel challoh.)

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Because they didn’t eat kneidlach on Acharon shel Pesach, for many years Rebbetzin Wasilski made kneidlach for the Shabbos after Pesach. They were prepared from a half-pound of matzoh meal which Reb Herschel bought before Pesach, ground by the bakery from the matzoh baked by his chaburah. However, it seems that this was done for the sake of the children. After the children grew up, Rebbetzin Wasilski stopped making kneidlach for this Shabbos.