Monday, May 23, 2022

Shavuos


From Breslov Eikh Shehu: Breslov Customs and Practices, Past and Present, compiled by Dovid Zeitlin and Dovid Sears (in-progress)

Shavuos Customs
Shavuos was one of the three fixed times of the year when Breslover Chassidim came to the Rebbe. Therefore, in recent years it has become common for many Breslovers travel to Uman to spend Shavuos near the Rebbe's tziyun. (However, there is no requirement to do so; the only time a Breslover Chassid is obligated to travel to Uman is for Rosh Hashanah.)

*

However, in Reb Noson’s day, his talmidim used to travel to him for Shavuos. They would try to arrive in time to conclude the counting of sefiras ha-omer together on the night of Erev Shavuos. One such occasion was Shavuos of 1834, when some eighty followers came to Reb Noson in Breslov. They prayed with such fervor that ever since, Breslover Chassidim refer to this as “der groiser Shavuos.
(See Rabbi Chaim Kramer, “Through Fire and Water,” chap. 33, pp. 366-377)

*

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender mentioned that during Reb Noson’s time, when the Breslover Chassidim who had come from far and wide counted the sefirah together on the night before Shavuos, virtually the whole city used to come to witness their fervor. This was an annual event that everyone looked forward to.
(Heard from Rabbi Avraham Moshe Wasilski)

*

In the Tzefas community, most Breslover Chassidim wear a white caftan on Shavuos at night and during Shacharis-Musaf. However, they do not wear this caftan for Minchah.
(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchok Kenig)

*

In Tzefas, the Breslov shul is decorated with greenery, following the common minhag.
(Heard from Rabi Yitzchok Kenig. See RaMaH on Orach Chaim 494:3.)

*

The Steipler Gaon mentioned that in the Ukraine it was customary to spread grass and small twigs on the entire floor of the shul.
(Orchos Rabbenu, vol. II, Bnei Brak 1992, p. 99, sec. 7)

*

Reb Noson darshans on the minhag of eating dairy foods on Shavuos.
(See Likutey Halakhos, Birkhos ha-Torah 1; Masa U-Matan 4:6; Eruvei Techumin 5:13; Shavu’os 1:4, 2:2; Devarim ha-Yotziyim Min ha-Chai 2:2 and 7; Simanei Behemah ve-Chayah Tehorah 4:40, 46; Mezuzah 2:4)

*

In Tzefas, as in most communities, the minhag is to eat milchigs after davenning Shacharis, during the Kiddush. However, the day meal is fleishig.
(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchak Kenig. See Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 494:3, with Mishnah Berurah; Likutey MaHaRiCH Vol. III, p. 577.)

*

Breslover Chassidim traditionally remain awake all night and recite the Tikkun Leyl Shavuos of the Arizal. In the Tzefas community, the chaburah recites the Tikkun together, and the Chassidim recite Kaddish and dance after concluding each section: Chumash, TaNaKH, Mishnayos, etc.
(See Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eytz Chaim, Sha’ar Chag HaShavuos, chap. 1; ; Kitzur SheLaH Masechtas Shavuos: Seder Leyl Shavuos.)

*

Reb Noson states that the main parts of Tikkun Leyl Shavuos are TaNaKh and Mishnayos. Although the Arizal omits the Mishnayos, the Shelah ha-Kadosh includes them.
(Likutey Halakhos, Kriyas ha-Torah 6:26)

*

Accordingly, Reb Avraham Sternhartz used to recite the Tikkun Leyl Shavuos with the Mishnayos.
(Heard from Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn)

*

In a letter to Rabbi Avraham Jacobovitch, Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz writes: “Remaining awake on the night of Shavuos gives life to all of one’s conduct for the entire year, both spiritually and physically. One should rejoice, for this is the 'wedding' of Matan Torah -- and one should rededicate himself to the study of the Rebbe’s teachings, which are a chiddush niflah, a wondrous innovation that comes from the Future World, from [the Torah of] Atika Setimah [the Hidden Ancient One], destined to be revealed in time to come…”
(Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, Mikhtevey Shmuel [Jerusalem: Keren Rabbi Yisrael Dov Odesser, first edition], Letter 2, p. 14; cf. Reb Noson’s description of the Rebbe’s teachings at the beginning of his Hakdamah to Likutey Moharan.)

*

The Terhovitza Maggid, a close talmid of the Rebbe and a prominent Chassidic leader in his own right, and Reb Menachem Nochum of Chernobyl, author Me’or Einayim, always used to take turns visiting each other to celebrate Shavuos. On Shavuos night, they would dance together in ecstasy all night long. When Reb Nochum grew too old and weak to continue, he sent his son Reb Mordechai of Chernobyl to the Terhovitza Maggid for Shavuos, and they, too, danced all night.
(Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, Mikhtevey Shmuel [Jerusalem: Keren R’ Yisrael Dov Odesser, first edition], Letter 64, p. 201. From this it would seem that the two tzaddikim did not recite the Tikkun Leyl Shavuos.)

*

Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz states that on Shavuos in Uman, the Chassidim took turns dancing all through the night. Thus, one group was always reciting the Tikkun and another was always dancing.
(Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, Mikhtevey Shmuel [Jerusalem: Keren R’ Yisrael Dov Odesser, first edition], Letter 54, p. 190; ibid. Letter 64, p. 201)

*

By contrast, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender recalled that the Breslover Chassidim in Uman recited the Tikkun Leyl Shavuos, as is customary, and then danced for a long time. On one occasion, Reb Borukh Getche’s danced with the members of his chaburah all night until it was time to get ready for Shacharis.
(Si’ach Sarfei Kodesh V, 303)

*

Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn heard that in Uman, it was primarily the “ovdim” who danced at such length on Shavuos night. Most of the olam simply recited the Tikkun.

*

In the Breslov shul in the Katamon section of Yerushalayim, they used to dance after each of the three or four “kaddeishim” during the course of reading the Tikkun.
(Heard from Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn)

*

The melody for “Atah Nigleisa” that we sing on Shavuos night came from the Rebbe Reb Borukh’l of Medzhibuzh, who sang it on Shabbos evening to the words of “Eishes Chayil”—while the melody we sing to “Eishes Chayil,” Reb Borukh’l used to sing to “Atah Nigleisa.” However, the Rebbe switched them. 
(Heard from Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn)

*

Just before alos ha-shachar, it is proper to immerse in the mikveh. Kabbalistically, this mikveh represents the Fiftieth Gate, and is the source of holiness of all immersions in the mikveh throughout the year.
(Likutey Moharan I, 56:7; Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, Mikhtevey Shmuel [Jerusalem: Keren Rabbi Yisrael Dov Odesser, first edition], Letter 64, p. 201; Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar Chag HaShavuos, chap. 1)

*

As mentioned above, Shavuos is one of the five times that the tzibbur davens ki-vasikin.
(Oral Tradition)

*

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender stated that throughout the Ukraine, including in Breslover communities, it was customary to omit the yotzros on the first day of Shavuos, but to recite them on the second day. In Breslov communities in Eretz Yisrael (where there is only one day of Yom Tov), yotzros are recited during chazoras ha-SHa”TZ on Shavuos.
(See Si'ach Sarfei Kodesh IV, 463)

*

In America, the Borough Park Breslov congregation does so on both days.

*

Rabbi Nachman greatly praised the medieval poem "Akdamus Milin" and the regal melody with which it is sung. This remains a highlight of the Shavuos davening in Breslover shuls today. Each stanza is sung by both the chazzan and the congregation, not by alternating stanzas, as in many other communities.
(See Sichos ha-Ran 256)

*

Reb Avraham used to sing a melody without words prior to Akdamus, and extend and embellish the stanzas with various melodic phrases as he recited them.
(Heard from Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn)

*

Reb Noson mentions the minhag followed by most congregations to recite Sefer Rus on the second day Shavuos (in chutz la’aretz).
(See Likkutei Halakhos, Birkhas ha-Shachar 5:18, 52; Kriyas Shema 5:17; Birkhas ha-Peyros 5:22; et al. This custom is mentioned in Machzor Vitry, based on a midrash in Pesikta Zutra (Midrash Rus); see Likutey Maharich III, p. 579.)

*

Reb Gedaliah told Reb Aharon Waxler that one should say “shnei se’irim le-khaper” during the Musaf of Shavuos, as in the Musaf of Rosh Hashanah.
(Heard from Rabbi Aharon Waxler. Cf. Siddur Baal ha-Tanya, Musaf shel Shalosh Regalim)

*

Shavuos is the yahrtzeit of the holy Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, and the Rebbe’s great-grandfather. Therefore, it is a custom of Chassidim in general to mention a teaching from the Baal Shem Tov, or at least to mention him on Shavuos.
(According to most mesorahs, the Baal Shem Tov passed away on the first day of Shavuos; see Siddur Arizal of Rabbi Avraham Shimshon of Rashkov, p. 298; Rabbi Yitzchok Eizik Yehudah Yechiel Safrin of Komarno, Heikhal HaBerakhah, “Ki Seitzei,” 129b; Sefer Baal Shem Tov, “Ki Savo,” in Mekor Mayim Chaim, note 12; Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch, Likutey Dibburim, Vol. III, p. 1054; Darkei Chaim vi-Shalom-Munkatch, Hil. Yom Tov, 527). 

The Mikveh of the Fiftieth Gate: A Shavuos Teaching



Likutey Moharan I, 56, sec. 7
Translated by Dovid Sears
This is a difficult excerpt from a complex lesson, but well worth studying, especially in preparation for the coming Yom Tov.

The holiday of Shavuos represents an extremely great and exalted level of consciousness, which is supernal loving-kindness and great compassion; for the extent of compassion depends upon the extent of divine perception (da’as). This is because at the Giving of the Torah, the Holy One, blessed be He, appeared as an Elder full of compassion” (Rashi on Exodus 20:2).[1]

“Elder” refers to one who possesses a composed mind (yishuv ha-da’as; see Kinim 3:6; Zohar III, 128b). This determines the extent of compassion, as we have stated. Thus, Shavuos [which commemorates the time when God was revealed as an “Elder full of compassion,”] is characterized by supernal loving-kindness and great compassion.

This is also the paradigm of the mikveh of Shavuos,[2] which is the aspect of the mikveh of the Fiftieth Gate—the highest gate of the Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding,[3] the aspect of supernal loving-kindness and great compassion.

Therefore, the mikveh saves from all troubles, as it is written, “The Hope (Mikveh) of Israel, Who saves her in a time of trouble” (Jeremiah 14:8).[4] For it is supernal loving-kindness, which saves from all troubles. This is why the mikveh purifies from all impurities, as it is written, “And I will sprinkle upon you purifying water, and you will be purified” (Ezekiel 36:25).[5] For “there is no suffering without sin” (Shabbos 55a). Thus, the mikveh, which delivers from all trouble and all suffering, purifies from all forms of impurity and all sin.

This is the paradigm of MaN (Aramaic: manna),[6] which corresponds to the aspect of “exalted consciousness”; because the manna is the aspect of da’as.[7]

This corresponds to “an open statement (ma’amar pasu’ach), extended trustworthiness (ne’eman pashut)” (Shabbos 104a).[8] An “open statement” is the aspect of revealing da’as, for speech is the medium through which da’as is expressed; as it is written, “Da’as and understanding are from His mouth” (Proverbs 2:6).

In Egypt, da’as was in exile, as it is written, “However, I did not make Myself known to them by My Name YHVH (Exodus 6:3); thus, speech was also in exile. This is the aspect of [Moses’s description of himself as] “difficult of speech and difficult of language” (ibid. 4:10).[9] However, when they left Egypt, when da’as went out of exile, speech came forth and “opened up.” This is the meaning of an “open statement”: speech opened up and revealed da’as.

Through the revelation of da’as, the perception of God’s trustworthiness spreads forth and it becomes apparent that He is trustworthy—He promises and He acts. This is the aspect of “extended trustworthiness”: His trustworthiness spreads forth. In Egypt, where da’as was in exile, His trustworthiness did not spread forth, and it was not apparent. Accordingly, Rashi explains the verse: “ ‘However, I did not make Myself known to them by My Name YHVH’—I was not known by My true quality.” Since higher consciousness was not revealed in Egypt, His trustworthiness was not apparent; for loving-kindness depends upon da’as, as we have said.

This is the aspect of ANOKHY (Exodus 20:2),[10] the initial letters of which our Sages interpret to mean “Yehiva Kesiva Ne’emanim Amareha . . . My giving, My writing, Her statements are trustworthy” (Shabbat 105a).[11] [The initial letters of “ANOKHY” corresponds to this phrase.] Through the Giving of the Torah, the “statement” [i.e., holy speech] was opened and da’as was revealed, and through this, God’s trustworthiness spread forth. This is the aspect of “ne’emanim amareha . . . her statements are trustworthy,” corresponding to “extended trustworthiness (ne’eman pashut), an open statement (ma’amar pasu’ach),” discussed above.

This is also the aspect of MaN (manna), which is an acronym of “Ma’amar Ne’eman (a trusted statement),” corresponding to “an open statement (ma’amar pasu’ach), extended trustworthiness (ne’eman pashut).” For the manna embodies the paradigm of great da’as. Therefore, “the Children of Israel ate the manna for forty years” (Exodus 16:35)—because “at the age of forty, one gains understanding (binah, as in the Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding)” (Avos 5:21).

NOTES

1. In the Kabbalah, the term “elder (zaken)” is related to the sefirah of Keser, which transcends all harsh judgments and is the source of the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy. These Thirteen Attributes are symbolized by the beard, which in Hebrew is “zakan.” The word zakan is related to zaken, “elder.”
2. A mikveh is a natural body of water or man-made pool that meets certain halakhic requirements, which enables a person or object to regain a state of ritual purity (taharah). This water is symbolically related to the “river that came forth from Eden,” mentioned at the beginning of Genesis.
3. Our Sages state that the world was created through “Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding,” all but one of which were revealed to Moshe Rabbenu (Nedarim 38a). The Zohar and other kabbalistic works relate these Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding to the fifty times that the Exodus is mentioned in the Torah (see Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Shiur Komah, Hakdamah, Parshah 92). Thus, there is a deep connection between the revelation of the mysteries of creation and the Exodus, which culminated in the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, when the entire nation attained prophecy. According to the Arizal (see Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, Shavuos, Drush 1), the mikveh into which it is customary to immerse on Shavuos morning is related to this awesome level of the Fiftieth Gate—which ultimately will be made available to all Israel with the proliferation of da’as in the Messianic Age.
4. The word mikveh also can mean “hope.” Thus, the verse from Jeremiah, which refers to God as the “Hope of Israel,” may be understood homiletically to allude to the mikveh in which one immerses to attain purity.
5. That is, just as God will purify all humanity through water in time to come, when divine knowledge will fill the world, so the mikveh purifies even today.
6. The word “MaN” is spelled “mem-nun.” In context of this lesson, these letters are an acronym for “mikveh nun,” the Mikveh of the Fiftieth Gate.
7. By eating the manna from heaven during their forty years in the desert, the Children of Israel attained higher levels of consciousness. The manna was the ideal food, possessing none of the spiritual or even physical problems associated with ordinary food.
8. The Gemara renders each letter of the Hebrew alphabet interpretively. This cryptic phrase is what it has to say about the letters mem and nun. The Rebbe goes on to elucidate this idea in keeping with his teaching about the exile and redemption of consciousness (da’as).
9. This refers to Moshe’s speech impediment, which was only manifest during the period of Egyptian exile. After the Exodus, the Torah never again mentions this problem. This implies that Moshe stuttered because holy speech in a transpersonal sense was in exile in Egypt. With the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, speech was rectified (Zohar II, 25b).
10. This is the first word of the Ten Commandments, which begin ANOKHY / I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of Egypt…” (ibid.).
11. The letters of the word ANOKHY, when read backward, are an acronym of Yehiva Kesiva Ne’emanim Amareha . . . My giving, My writing, Her statements are trustworthy.” This interpretation suggests that with the word ANOKHY,” God gave His approbation to the words that followed. The emphasis on the trustworthiness of God’s word in this interpretation of the Talmudic Sages lends support to Rebbe Nachman’s lesson.

Akdamus Milin


"Even if the heavens were parchment,
All the trees were quills,
The seas and all waters were ink,
And all inhabitants of the earth were scribes and skilled writers,
His might eternal would remain beyond description.
Alone, the resplendent Master of heaven and earth
Founded the universe and garbed it in mystery…"


One of the highlights of Shavuos is the responsive chanting in the synagogue of Akdamus Milin, written by Rabbi Meir ben Yitzchak of Worms during the 11th century C.E. The hymn begins with these two Aramaic words, which mean "Before I speak…" (The author asks the Creator permission to utter His praise.) However, as a title, Akdamus Milin may be translated "Introduction to the Words," meaning the Divine Speech heard at Mount Sinai. Therefore it is usually read on Shavuos morning before the Torah reading, which describes the awesome experience of all Israel hearing the Ten Commandments at the foot of the desert mountain.

Rabbi Noson of Breslov (1780-1844) writes that Rabbi Nachman highly praised Akdamus.

"The Rebbe observed, 'Because the Jewish people are so immersed in and habituated to what is truly good, they don't fully appreciate the greatness of the sacred hymn of Akdamus, which we recite on Shavuos.'

"He went on to say, 'One who knows the loftiness of this poem of Akdamus, together with the melody to which it is commonly sung, realizes that this is something most wondrous and unique.'

"The Rebbe then chanted a few stanzas of Akdamus. He added, 'Akdamus is a song of cheshek – of love and desire for God.'

"The Rebbe said all of this on Shavuos, during the dairy meal [traditionally eaten after the morning service]. The second minyan was in the middle of their prayers in the synagogue, and the chazan was chanting Akdamus. That was when the Rebbe spoke with us about the loftiness of this hymn." (Sichot HaRan 256)

Rabbi Nachman clearly experienced Akdamus as an expression of the mutual love between the Jewish People and G-d. This love and desire is the pre-condition of prophecy, which is the essence of the Torah.

Continuing to expound upon this theme, Reb Noson also discusses the custom of reading Akdamus in his masterwork, Likkutei Halakhos:

"On Shavuos, we spiritually ascend to the supernal root of ratzon (will or desire). [An aspect of the sefirah of Keser (Crown), ratzon expresses the deepest will and desire of the soul for God, and God's corresponding will and desire, so to speak, for creation].

"Through this ascent, all profane wisdoms related to the natural order are transmuted to ratzon, due to the power of the revelation of ratzon that now becomes manifest. That is, we vividly perceive all existence and all that transpires as only a reflection of the Divine Will.

"Profane or 'natural wisdoms,' by contrast, are derived from the Aramaic tongue. [Aramaic is the language closest to leshon ha-kodesh, the 'holy tongue,' which is Hebrew. During the Talmudic period, Aramaic was used for everyday speech and writing.] On Shavuos, however, the aspect of ratzon is revealed to such an extent that even the Aramaic tongue, the source of 'natural wisdom,' becomes absorbed into the holy.

"This is why we recite Akdamus, which is an awesome expression of praise written specifically in Aramaic – for this transformation of the profane to the holy represents the fullest revelation of ratzon." (Likkutei Halakhos, Hilkhos Kaddish, 1)

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Shlissel Challah



From A Simple Jew:


There is a minhag to bake shlissel challah (shlissel means key in Yiddish) for the Shabbos after Pesach. Shlissel challos are best known as a segulah for parnasa, though there are other reasons for it, as we will soon see. Some bake the challah with an actual key inside, some make the challah in the shape of a key and some put sesame seeds on top in the form of a key. There are those who make the challah flat to look like matzos. We will discuss this later on. The Ohev Yisroel says about shlissel challah that “the minhagim of our fathers are most definitely Torah”. There are many reasons given for this minhag of baking shlissel challah; we will go through some of them. (Some of the items written below can also be found in Taamei Minhagim, Nitei Gavriel, Sefer Hatoda’a and Minhag Yisroel Torah)

First of all, the second Mishnah in Rosh Hashanah says on Pesach we are judged on the grains, parnasa. Rabbeinu Nissim asks if we are judged on Rosh Hashana then how are we judged on Pesach? He answers that on Pesach it is determined how much grain there will be in the coming year for the world, but on Rosh Hashanah it is decided how much of that grain each individual receives. The Meiri, however, says that on Rosh Hashanah it is decided if one will live or die, suffer or not and other such things, but on Pesach is when we are judged on the grains. Based on this there are customs in Sephardic communities to do things Motzei Pesach as a sign that we want Hashem to give us livelihood. In Aram Soba (Syria) and Turkey they put wheat kernels in all four corners of the house on Motzei Pesach as a sign of prosperity for the coming year. (Moed L’kol Chai -R’ Chaim Palagi, Beis Habichira). From a Mishnah we already see that there is a connection between Pesach and parnasa.

For more, see the full posting on A Simple Jew here.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

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)


*

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)

*

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.)

*

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

*

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.

*

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

*

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.)

*

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

*

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)

*

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.)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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.)

*

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

*

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.

*

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)

*

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.)


*

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.)

*

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

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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.”



*
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)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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.)

*

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)

*

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)

*

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.)



*

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)

*

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)

*

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.)

*

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)

*

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

*

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)

*

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)

*

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)

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.”