1. One of Reb Yaakov Kamenetzky’s talmidim related: “Prior to Pesach he was in some doubt as to the kashrus of one of the ingredients of a particular medicine. He made an educated guess based on the substance’s Latin name, but not wanting to rely on ‘himself, he took his question to a pharmacist. The pharmacist began searching through his numerous textbooks and after a long while told Reb Yaakov that the preparation did not contain any trace of chametz and could be taken on Pesach. Judging from appearances, however, it seemed that he had not managed to find the information he had looked for in all his books but was simply too embarrassed to admit that he didn’t know… Reb Yaakov commented that this demonstrated to him the difference between-a pharmacist and a Rav. A pharmacist must give an answer and if he doesn’t know what it is he invents something… A Rav who renders halachic rulings is different. When the Beis HaLevi was appointed rav of Brisk he was reputed to be a. towering scholar, thoroughly knowledgeable in every area of Torah. No sooner had he been appointed mu than a very difficult question was brought before him and instead of giving a. ruling he said, “I don’t know.” The questioners were surprised and left. Curiously, this happened again with the second question he was asked. The community began to feel somewhat disappointed but, for  the time being, nobody said anything.  After this happened a third time, the laymen held a meeting to discuss the situation. “We heard that the Rav is the genius of the generation in Torah,” said one of the notables, “yet it turns out that he can’t answer our questions.” “Perhaps he’s indeed a great scholar,” another said, “and could serve as a rosh yeshivah and deliver wonderful shiurim but we need a Rav who can rule on our questions.” After some further discussion they reached the conclusion that there it was no choice but to ask the new Rav to leave. When the communal leaders came to the Beis  HaLevi and expressed their disappointment, he smiled and told them, “Don’t worry, raboisai. Be’ezras Hashem I will manage to answer your questions from now on. All I wanted to do was to show both you and myself that if it ever happens that I really don’t know the answer, I won’t be embarrassed to admit it…”  (chametz, I don’t know) (In Their Shadow Volume Three)



    1. Raphael Dubzinsky was a pious Jew who lived in a village in Poland, and like so many of his country- men who were barred from living in the larger cities and from various types of livelihood, Raphael operated an inn which he rented from the local Poritz. Raphael was known for his honesty and was respected and loved by all, Jew and Gentile alike. Raphael and his wife were content, but their happiness was marred by their being childless. One time a new priest came to village, who was a virulent anti-Semite, and Raphael’s popularity vexed him no end. He issued an -edict that none of his parishioners were permitted to patronize the Jew, but inasmuch as the inn had been a place for drinking and camaraderie for years, the edict went unheeded. Similarly, his pressure on the Poritz to revoke Raphael’s lease on the inn bore no fruit. Raphael sold his entire supply of beer and spirits to a non-Jew every Pesach, so the priest issued an injunction that no one was permitted to buy the Jews chametz, under threat of excommunication and eternal damnation. When Pesach arrived and no one wished to buy his chameiz, Raphael left the doors to his inn wide open and made a public announcement: “I hereby renounce ownership of all my beer and spirits. Whoever wishes may come in and take it. ” He and his wife then left to spend Pesach with relatives, and although he knew that he-would now be penniless, Raphael rejoiced during the festival. When he returned home, Raphael asked the first townsfolk whom he met whether everyone had enjoyed all the free drinks. “What do you mean enjoyed free drinks?” they said. “We could not even get close to your place with those vicious dogs you had guarding it. Raphael did not know what they were talking about, but when he came to the inn, he saw two vicious looking dogs there. The dogs approached him gently, sniffed him, and then took off. Raphael realized that G-d had intervened to protect him from economic ruin. But he had one problem: If his chametz “had been guarded and thus had remained in his possession over Pesach, and as such he was forbidden to derive any benefit from it. Raphael began opening the spouts of the barrels to dispose of the beer and spirits. His wife screamed at him, “What are you doing? You did what you were supposed to do and divested your- self of ownership of the chametz. You may use it and sell it. Ask the rabbi!” The rabbi ruled that the wife was indeed right. When Raphael opened the doors and left his inn open to all, declaring publicly that all who wished were free to help themselves, he had indeed abandoned ownership of the chametz. The fact that Ci-d had miraculously protected him did not change things, and he was therefore now permit- ted to reclaim his former goods. But Raphael was not at peace with himself. “The chametz was in my inn, and if because of a technicality it is halachically permissible, I still do not wish to benefit from it, ” and proceeded to pour his entire stock down the drain. When the wife poured out her bitter heart to the rabbi, saying, “Now we are both childless and penniless,” the rabbi said, “Have no fear The virtue of his intense devotion to Torah will merit your having a child whose spirituality will illuminate the world.” – . That year the woman gave birth to a son, who later be- came the chassidic” master, Abraham of Czechanov.    (Not Just Stories By Rabbi Dr. Avraham Twersky) (chametz)


    1. While studying in Slobodka, R’ Yaakov was invited to spend Pesach with a certain family. He declined the invitation on the grounds that it was not his custom to eat gebroks, foods which contain matzah and liquids. Actually, it was the custom of R’ Yaakov’s family to eat gebroks and until that year, R‘ Yaakov himself ate gebroks. But from the time that he uttered the words “l don’t eat gebroks” until he passed away, R’ Yaakov never again ate gebroks, though he permitted his family to do so. (pesach, truth) (5 Great Lives)



    1. One year, the late Manchester Rosh Yeshiuah, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, traveled to America to spend the Pesach festival with his children. lt was R‘ Segal‘s custom to eat only malzos which were baked under his personal supervision. Along with his suitcases, R’ Sega] brought to the airport a few boxes of matzos. As he stood on line to check his luggage, another traveler approached him. “Rabbi, I see that you have quite a bit of baggage. l’m a seasoned traveler and l can tell you that your things are going to be very much overweight — it‘s going to cost you a lot. “Take my advice: Put those boxes on the side somewhere; no one will take them. When you get to the counter, just show them your suitcases. Later, when you board the plane, take the boxes with you —l assure you that no one will bother you.” R’ Segal looked at the man as if he had not heard him correctly. “l don’t understand — are you suggesting that l try to trick the airline personnel? How can a person do such a thing? it’s dishonest!” The boxes cost fifty British pounds in baggage fees. As he withdrew the money from his wallet, R’ Segal remarked joyfully, “Another hiddur (beautification) in the [mitzuah of] matzah!” There is more than one way to beautify a mitzuah. (Shabbos Stories 1) (matza, hidur mitzva)


    1. A woman in Ofakim was suffering from a life-threatening illness which necessitated her taking certain pills. The pills contained a substance that posed a problem on Pesach, but given the seriousness of her condition, there was no question that she was obligated to take them. The woman. however, refused: she would not ingest chametz bePesacb. Rav Shimshon stepped in. “You know.” he told her. “there really is no question about it, you are right and it is forbidden to take these cbametzdik pills. Yet, there is a solution according to the poskim. If you place the pill between two large pieces of matzah, then it becomes nullified to the matzah, and the chametz wouldn’t pose a problem at all.” The woman happily accepted this psale. For the Rav had perceived what was really in her heart. troubling her, “How can I eat cbametz?” He he took away the cbametz and made it matzah. In essence, that synopsizes the message that he shared with us: He took the cbametz, the mundane acts of everyday life, the sleeping. eating, and interacting with people. and he taught us to elevate them, to fill them with meaning and significance. to saturate them with cbiyus and light. He gave us matzah, (Warmed By Their Fire) (matzah, empathy, bikur cholim)


    1. In advance of Pesach each year, Rav Pam joined a distinguished group of Torah Vodaath alumni in overseeing the baking of the matzos which they would use for the Seder. One year, a new bakery opened which employed a. number of hiddurim (halachic stringencies) in the baking process. Some members of the group thought that it would be an excellent idea to use the new bakery for their baking. They presented the suggestion to Rav Pain who said, “just as there is a mitzvah to be mehader (make use of stringencies) in the matzos, so too, is it a mitzvah to be mehader in helping another Jew to earn a livelihood.” They remained at their -original bakery. (matza, hidur mitzva) (Rav Pam)



    1. If the lesson of the matzah is that man should pare his needs to a minimum and learn to forego the pleasures of the world, why does God not ask us to subsist on this simple fare all year round? Why is a week of self-control and simplicity sufficient? The Alter of Novardok explained with a parable. A policeman was escorting a prisoner on the way to his trial. Afraid that the defendant might escape, the guard attached the prisoner to himself by means of handcuffs, locking one cuff on his own right arm and the other cuff on the prisoner’s left arm. As they walked through the street passersby looked scornfully at the prisoner. The prisoner could not bear the silent stares of condemnation and shouted: ”Don’t look at me that way! lt is not the policeman who leads me, but I who lead him. Don’t think I am chained to him; he is chained to me!”   A wise man was not fooled. He replied to the indignant prisoner, “Let us see you escape from your ’captor’ and we will know who is the captive.”  Likewise, explained the Alter, there is nothing wrong with enjoying some of the good things of life. But one has to be in control of them, rather than them controlling him. lt all depends on whether one merely partakes of the world’s pleasures or whether he becomes their prisoner.  The litmus test to determine if man is the prisoner of his passions or whether he really controls them is whether he can unlock the chains of desire at will and still be content. If he must have his wants and cannot escape their shackles, then he is-truly their prisoner. God allows us to indulge ourselves to some extent, symbolized by the leavened bread we eat all year long. On Pesach, we are given the opportunity to escape and show that we are not hopelessly chained to our every whim. We eat the poor, unleavened bread as a sign of escape, thus showing/that we are in control of our lives. Then we may resume eating regular bread and enjoy life without the fear of becoming enmeshed in the mundane. We really control it as opposed to the other way around. Thus, through eating matzah, the poor bread, we break the shackles of servitude on the Festival of Freedom. ’ (The Hagada Treasury)




    1. The following, which occurred while The Brisker Rav was still young, served as a powerful lesson for him about the necessity to exert oneself to his utmost in learning halachah in depth in spite of the difficulties such efforts present. It gave him ammunition to resist the temptation to take “shortcuts” in learning: R. Chaim, his father, put tremendous energy into the baking of matzos. His degree of intense concentration on the task and the care he took in it are well-known. His sons and talmidim helped him in the work. Each person had his particular job. The Brisker Rav and his brother R. Moshe were in charge of examining the matzos as they came out of the oven. They decided which were considered kefulos (“folded”). Some of the matzos invariably broke during the baking, and they had to decide which pieces among the broken matzos that came out of the oven belonged to matzos that had been “folded in the oven/’29 for those pieces would also have the status of “kefulos.” The two brothers would work long hours in the heat of the bakery, matching pieces of matzah in an effort to determine the origin of each one. One year, a bachur, who was a regular visitor in R.Chaim’s home, came to help them in this tedious and time-consuming task. They noticed that while they had to work long and hard to match the pieces, this young man — who was a simple-minded though God-fearing person — would quickly and easily match the pieces of matzah, showing no signs of stress. Naturally, they wondered at his ability to complete this arduous task so quickly, and asked him for an explanation. With his answer, it all became clear. “It is very simple,” he said. ”When I find two pieces that don’t quite match, l break off a few little pieces of each one until they match perfectly…” The Brisker Rav turned to his brother and pointed out that the same idea is true regarding learning Torah: There are those who, when learning a sugyah, recall another source that contradicts the sugyah they are dealing with. They expend great effort in examining solutions to the problem. Much time and brain power are needed to reach a satisfactory conclusion. However, there are others who, when encountering such a contradiction, twist the meaning of one source, smooth out the other one, cutting corners until finally the two sources seem to agree with each other. But, of what value is such a solution?”    The Brisker Rav Volume Two, By R’ Shimon Yosef Meller, Published by Feldheim, page 263 (ameilus, matzah)



    1. One day during pesach A man entered The Brisker Rav’s home and noticed a heavy wooden box sitting in the corner of the room, securely locked. His curiosity got the better of him, and he wished to know what valuable item had the Brisker Rav seen fit to lock up so well. I I “What is in the box?” He asked. Upon hearing that the box contained the rm/s matzos, he was somewhat surprised, and asked jokingly, ”Do the thieves have nothing to steal but the mz/s matzos?” ‘ _ The Brisker Rav’s son responded: “My father says that since the Torah says, ’And you shall guard the matzos,’ one must guard them as securely as possible, just as one would a great sum of money — in a Well-locked safe. The Brisker Rav Volume Two, By R’ Shimon Yosef Meller, Published by Feldheim, page 399 (matzah)




    1. One year at matzah baking time, a certain person, upon seeing The Brisker Rav’s legendary efforts in baking his matzos, shared with The Brisker Rav the following story that is told of R. Leib of Sassov, a Chassidic Rebbe also known for his great care and extra hiddurim in baking his matzos. The Rebbe was once baking his matzos at a certain bakery when a simple Jew arrived to bake his own matzos. When he saw how careful the Rebbe was in baking his matzos he became discouraged; he did not have the wherewithal to make such efforts with his own matzos. The man turned to the wall in the corner of the bakery and raised his voice in passionate prayer: “Master of the Universe! I am a simple and poor man; it is not possible for me to be as careful as the Rebbe is in baking matzos. But, You, You can do anything. May it be Your will that my matzos come out of the oven as kosher and mehudarim as those of the Rebbe…” When the Rebbe heard this Jew’s pure and moving prayer, he approached him and asked him to exchange matzos. “Please take my matzos that I worked so hard over and give me the ones you baked.” The Brisker Rav understood that the man’s intention in telling him the story was to say that matzos that are accompanied by sincere prayers are preferable to those that have been produced with the greatest hiddurim and with attention to the fine points of halachah. That being so, The Brisker Rav answered him: ‘On the contrary, the story teaches that prayer is effective. That Jew’s prayers were accepted, and he therefore he merited matzos that were more mehudar than the ones over which the Rebbe had worked so hard, so that they should have the ultimate level of kashrus!”    The Brisker Rav Volume Two, By R’ Shimon Yosef Meller, Published by Feldheim, page 400 (matzah)