Shabbat Parashat Vayikra Filling in the Blanks (and see “Pesah Tips 5781” below) March 20, 2021 – 7 Nisan 5781

Dear Friends,

We are used to having to fill in the blank on so many forms that we use both online and offline. The forms exist. They are prepared for us. All we have to do is fill in the blanks.

“Filling in the blanks” is often a thoughtless process – one that we do by rote – or by using “autofill” options. But, at other times, filling in the blanks can be a very thought provoking process. It can be frustrating when it is difficult or it can be pleasing when it is effortless. It can be earth shattering when we are forced to contemplate questions we have been ignoring. Or, it can be life affirming when we realize the vast options that lie before us. The act of “filling in the blanks” can be so much more than mechanical.

Our Sages taught us that there is wisdom in our Torah portion’s physical “layout.” In this week’s Torah portion of Vayikra, there are significantly noticeable blank spaces between the various teachings about the sacrifices.

Why so many blank spaces?

It has been suggested that without the blank spaces, we would simply read the Torah’s instructions without taking the time to contemplate their deeper meanings! The blank spaces are there to remind us to take time to think, to use our minds, to open our hearts, to engage with the Torah in real time in our own lives. The blank spaces are as holy as the written letters and words of Torah. They are there to enable us to connect with our tradition, bringing ourselves and our lives, our experience and our questions, our fears, our hopes and our dreams, in contact with the eternity of Torah.

I am so grateful that we have blank spaces in our world, in our prayerbooks, and in our Torah. And, as we approach Passover, and the Seder experience, it is my hope and prayer that we notice the blank spaces in our Haggaddahs!

Let us breathe life into the re-telling of the story of our Exodus, filling in the blanks of the Haggaddah, and taking advantage of those blank spaces to personalize and to uplift our Passover and Seder experience, for ourselves and for our children, for our elders and for our guests. Let us enjoy and share the joy of “filling in the blanks” for the best Seder ever!

On this Shabbat and on every day, for the gift of sharing our experiences and mingling them with the experiences of our ancestors, I give thanks.

Reminder: See Pesah Tips 5781 below….

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Pesah Tips 5781

Dear Friends,

 Following are some tips on traditional Passover observances:

 In preparation for Passover, please remember that you should not risk your life or endanger the lives of others in order to fulfill a mitzvah.

Please see the updated Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide

To sell your Hametz this year please use the Rabbinical Assembly website.  Please go to  And, please note that the RA form for sale of Hametz will only be available until 8:00 a.m. on Friday, March 26th.


Because the first Seder begins on Saturday night, there are some changes in the timetable of observances leading up to Passover. So, for instance, this year the Fast of the Firstborn (which is usually observed on the Eve of Passover) will be on Thursday, March 25th, two days prior to Passover because we do not fast on Shabbat, nor do we fast on Friday!

Thursday morning, March 25th!

Ta’anit Bekhorim (Fast of the Firstborn) – This daytime fast applies to the firstborn of either a mother or father. If you participate in a siyyum, completion of study of a tractate of rabbinic literature, this may be followed by a se’udat mitavah, a meal accompanying the performance of a mitzvah. Here, the performance of the mitzvah is the completion of study. All firstborn in attendance at a siyyum are then permitted to eat! 

If you would like to join a virtual siyum on Thursday, March 25th at 8:00 a.m., please sign up in advance on the RA website for Rabbi Mordy Schwartz’s Siyum Behorim on [ insert subject] by clicking on the following url:

Thursday Evening, March 25th

Bedikat Hametz – (Search for leaven): This is customarily done on the night before Passover immediately after sunset, but because Passover begins on Saturday night, it is done a day earlier than usual!

This ritual is especially effective and enjoyable for children…This is what we do:

a) Make sure all Hametz has been removed or locked away, with the exception of    what will be needed for the morning for early breakfast…

b)Place several pieces of bread (of visible size) in various locations throughout the house.

c) Make the following blessing: Baruch ata Adonai, eloheynu melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al biur Hametz. Then, proceed (traditionally with lighted candle, feather or brush and a box or cloth for the bread collected) to look for any leaven that may be found in the house.

d) After all the bread pieces are found and gathered, make the following declaration: “All manner of leaven that is in my possession which I have not seen or have not removed, or have no knowledge of, shall be null and disowned as the dust of the earth.”

Friday Morning – March 26th

Biur Hametz (Disposing of the Hametz)–The container of hametz, gathered the evening before, is to be burned. The burning of the hamtez should be completed by the fifth hour after sunrise. No blessing or nullification is recited on Friday. Instead, a modified version of the nullification will be recited on Saturday morning before the fifth hour after sunrise. (See Saturday Morning details below.)

Please note: If you are unable to safely burn the Hametz, dispose of it in the trash bin outside your home.  

Shabbat before Pesah:

For the Shabbat evening and afternoon meals, recite hamotzi over 2 full pieces of egg matzah (just as you would normally over 2 loaves of challah). Eat egg matzah as desired throughout the meals. You may continue to eat egg matzah throughout Shabbat until 5/6 of the daylight period has passed.

Saturday Morning – March 27th

Before the fifth hour after sunrise, a slightly modified version of the formula for nullification of hametz is recited, as follows: “Any leaven that may still be in the house, which I have or have not seen, which I have or have not removed, shall be as if it does not exist, and as the dust of the earth.”

Preparation for Yom Tov:

On Yom Tov, kindling a new fire is not permitted; however, the use of an existing fire for cooking or other purposes is permitted. To light candles for Yom Tov (Saturday and Sunday nights) ensure that you have a fire burning before candle lighting time for Shabbat that will continue to burn until after dark on Saturday, and one that will continue to burn until after dark on Sunday. You may use a burning candle that lasts for more than 25 hours or a pilot light on a gas range.

On Saturday night light the candles after Shabbat ends. When lighting the candles, we recite the blessings: “Barukh Attah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha-olam asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov” and “…Shehecheyanu…”

On Sunday night, after dark, light the candles from the existing fire. Recite the blessings: “Barukh Attah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha-olam asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov” and “…Shehecheyanu…”

Most importantly, have a wonderful, happy, healthy and kosher Pesah and may this year be a year of true redemption and peace for us and for all of Israel and for all peoples everywhere!

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy and Kosher Passover!