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    Rav Moshe Tuvia Lieff Shlita, the Morah D’Asra of Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin in Brooklyn, New York, is a respected Talmid Chochom and a warm and dynamic individual, loved by his mispalelim & Klal Yisrael. Rav Lieff has been a sought-after guest speaker at hundreds of events across the United States and abroad. Rav Lieff replaced Rav Pinchos Breuer Shlita, who moved to Eretz Yisroel fifteen years ago. Before obtaining his current position, Rav Lieff was the Rov of Kehillas Bais Yisroel in Minneapolis. The Rov was instrumental in creating the Minneapolis Community Kollel. He was a true inspiration for the entire region in general and his community in particular. He is credited with helping to transform Minneapolis into the thriving Torah center it has become today.

    Rav Lieff attended Yeshivas Kol Torah in Yerushalayim, where he studied under the Posek Hador, Hagon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, and received Semicha Yoreh Yoreh, Yadin Yadin & was a close Talmid of Maran Hagaon Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Mirrer Yeshiva in New York.

    Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin was founded over 34 years ago by a few Baal HaBatim and has grown into a Kehilla of well over 200 families k”y. The first Morah D’asra was HaRav Yitzchak Hacohen Isbee zt”l who led the Kehilla for approximately 10 years until his untimely petira in 1997.



    Does the Rav daven nusach Ashkenaz or Sefard?
    Does the Rav sing Shalom Aleichem at home Friday night?
    Does the Rav sing Aishes Chayil at home Friday night?
    Does the Rav give brachos to his children/ grandchildren on Friday night?
    When does the Rav wash netilas yadayim? First or last?
    Excellent question. My father did it first and I would say for the overwhelming majority of my life I did it last, very much like my Shver. I pick and choose, I don’t know, but my answer would be, last.

    Does the Rav wash before kiddush?
    What does the Rav make kiddush on Friday night?
    A combination of wine and grape juice, like my Rebbe, Morainu, Harav Shlomo Zalman zt”l. I like to have better wine if I can. I try not to have a very strong wine because my family doesn’t like wine as much and I’m not a big fan of wine either. But, my Rebbe, Reb Shlomo Zalman Zatzal, would have a combination of wine and grape juice, so that’s what I have. More grape juice than wine.

    Does the Rav stand or sit for kiddush Friday Night?
    I do what my father did. I stand for “Vayachulu” and then I sit for “Borei Pri Hagafen and the kiddush.
    What does the Rav make kiddush on Shabbos morning?
    Same as I do Friday night, which is a combination of wine and grape juice.
    What does the Rav make havdalah on? Wine or grape juice?
    Grape juice.
    Does the Rav stand for all of leining?
    Does the Rav wear tzitzis tucked in or out?
    Does the Rav wear techeles on his tzitzis?
    Why not?
    It’s not my mesorah. My rebbeim didn’t do it. My father didn’t do it, so I don’t do it.

    At what point while davening does the Rav put his tallis over his head?
    The Mishna Berura says that you should be wearing your tallis for the entire davening, whenever you’re davening. So when I’m davening, I have the tallis over my head, so that means for brachos and for pesukei d’zimra, shemoneh esrei etc., but for leining, I take the tallis off my head.

    When does the Rav do tashlich?
    In Minneapolis, I did it on Rosh Hashanah, like when you’re supposed to do it. Here in New York, it ends up being sometime during Aseres Yemei Teshuvah or Chol Hamoed. It doesn’t happen on Rosh Hashanah.
    Does the Rav take a nap on Rosh Hashana afternoon?
    No. (I try not to)
    Does the Rav eat in a Sukkah on Shemini Atzeret?

    How many hours does the Rav wait between eating fleishigs & milchigs?
    Five hours and a minute. (My wife is not going to like this one).

    Does the Rav hold in the minhag of giving one’s wife a present before every Yom Tov?
    I try to.
    What does the Rav use for Kapparos?
    Does the Rav take a shower over Yom Tov?
    Does the Rav wear tefillin on Chol
    Yes, without a bracha.
    Does the Rav wear his Shabbos clothing on
    Chol Hamoed?
    Does the Rav wear both Rashi & Rabbeinu
    Tam tefillin?
    Does the Rav wear a gartel?
    Does the Rav eat fleishigs on Friday Erev
    I do. I try not to eat it after chatzos, but there’s no prohibition of eating fleishigs on Friday. I try not to eat mezonos after chatzos.
    Does the Rav eat turkey?
    Does the Rav’s family have upsherins?
    Does the Rav’s family sing Shir Hamaalos before bentching?
    In Shir Hamaalos, does the Rav say
    “tehillas hashem yedaber pi…” at the end?
    Did the Rav’s family visit matzeivas after someone is niftar over a year? Like on a yahrzeit?
    Does the Rav always dip his challah in salt?
    Three times. That’s what the Zohar says to do. Anytime you eat bread, dip it in salt three times.
    What does the Rav typically use when making an Erev Tavshilin?
    Matzah and a hard boiled egg.
    What is the Rav’s favorite song to sing at the Shabbos table?

    “Menucha V’Simcha Or La’yehudim”

    Does the Rav have a favorite perush or sefer to quote?
    Does the Rav wash his hands with mayim achronim before bentching?
    On Shabbos.
    Does the Rav say birchas hagomel when going to Eretz Yisrael? In Eretz Yisrael & back in New York?
    Yes both in Eretz Yisrael & when returning to New York.
    Does the Rav daven with a minyan when going to Eretz Yisrael on a plane?
    Generally not.


    Does the Rav have someone in his family go around and put 10 pieces of bread around the house before doing Bedikas Chometz?
    Yes. We write a list, so that we shouldn’t forget where they are.
    Does the Rav rely on the heater mechira? Does the Rav get rid of all his chometz before Yom Tov or put it in a cabinet & sell it?
    I used to not sell chametz gamor, but then I became the Rav in Minneapolis approximately 35 years ago. I decided that if I’m selling the chametz for others, I have to sell my own chametz as well, so I now sell chametz gamor.
    Does the Rav sell the chametz directly to the goy or do you sell it to another person that sells it to the goy?
    No, I sell it directly to the goy, together with other rabbonim.
    Is the Rav a bechor? Does the Rav fast erev Pesach or make a siyum?
    I’m not a bechor.

    Where does the Rav get his Matzos for Pesach from?
    Typically, Lakewood and Chareidim. Our favorite, of course, was Shatzer.
    How many sedarim did the Rav hold when you go to Eretz Yisrael for Pesach?
    At the Rav’s seder, who typically wears a kittel?
    All the married men.
    Does the Rav eat gebrochts on Pesach?
    With gusto- Oneg Yom Tov.
    Does the Rav eat kitniyot?
    What does the Rav have on his seder plate?
    For Karpas, we use cucumbers. We have a zeroah. We always make sure that we have a shank bone. For the chazeres, we have the horseradish root and then we use romaine lettuce, charoses and a hard boiled egg. For the hardboiled egg, we brown it a bit. We put it over fire, so it should be singed and a little bit more brown/ black, so it’s like a roasted egg.
    At the Rav’s seder how many people make kiddush?
    The entire family, men, women and children all say it together one time.

    At the Rav’s seder, how many people say Ma Nishtana?
    Everybody says it independently, including the adults- men and women.
    How long does that take?
    It moves pretty quickly and then people say it in different languages. It takes time, but according to the Rambam, it seems that the ma nishtana is a chalek of sippur so everybody says it.

    Does the Rav dip his pinky in the wine when saying the Makkos?
    At the Rav’s seder do you open the door for Eliyahu Hanavi when saying Shefoch Chamascha?
    At the Rav’s seder, does someone usually “steal” the afikomen?
    We don’t call it “stealing,” we call it “snatching” because Rav Shimon Schwab said that we don’t “steal,” we “snatch.” Generally, it’s the kids/
    What does the Rav use for the Arba kosos?
    Only wine. It’s the one night that I drink only wine and no grape juice. Sometimes, I’ll use wine that has less alcohol, like 4.5%, and sometimes I’ll use dry wine that has more alcohol content. I’m makpid to have wine for the full arba kosos and drink it the way we’re supposed to.
    Is there a specific wine?
    No, it’s either Kal, which is less alcohol, or dry wine.
    Which Haggadah does the Rav use at his seder?
    I use many different Haggadahs, sometimes Reb Shlomo Zalman’s Haggadah or Reb Moshe’s Haggadah.

    How does the Rav’s seder typically end?
    We sing and dance to “L’shana Haba’ah” and then we sing & dance to “Yerushalayim Oro Shel Olam.” Then, we dance in a circle and we split up and dance toward each other, back and forth. It takes a little while, but we make a matzav out of it. We usually go very late. Our average seder finishes around 3:30/4:00 in the morning.

    Does the Rav say Shir Hashirim after the seder?
    The beginning of it.
    Does the Rav find that until Maggid everything is slow and then after Maggid through the end of the seder it’s a rush?
    Maggid usually takes a while. My brother is a Rosh Yeshiva in Monsey. We used to sit at my father’s seder and we made up a rule “no notebooks.” Whatever you want to say on the Haggadah, you have to know it by heart; there’s no looking through notes and reading them. The truth of the matter is, it’s really about sippur, it’s not about telling over peshatlach and shtiklach Torah. That’s the chiddush of “Tzeh U’lmad.” I’m also a big believer in not talking about the whole world, talk about your family, your parents, your grandparents. They were moser nefesh to be shomer Torah and mitzvos in America. They lived through the war. They rebuilt their lives. There’s so many magnificent stories. One year my mother in law was at the seder and
    the kids started asking questions. For an hour she talked about Yiddishkeit and how she would watch the milking of the cows and hachnosas orchim. She made Shabbos. It’s good for the
    kids to hear and that’s what it is. I think there’s two yesodos in the seder: 1. Teach the children there’s a Rebono Shel Olam in the world. 2. He’s our Rebono Shel Olam. Our family has a mesorah. I don’t care if you’re a Baal Teshuva, there’s so much richness in one’s background that it’s kedai to talk about that at the seder.
    Any other interesting minhagim in the family for the seder?
    We’re big into
    וצריך לעשות שנוי בלילה הזה
    כדי שיראו הבנים וישאלו ויאמרו
    מה נשתנה הלילה הזה מכל הלילות
    The Rambam in Hilchos Chametz U’Matzah Perek Zayin Halacha Gimel says that one should give out candies or nuts to the kids, so we do all kinds of fun things to stimulate the kids. For example, by makkas barad, we throw out ping pong balls. It used to be that I would throw out the ping pong balls, now the grandchildren want to. Of course, when they do it, it ends up in the wine.

    The Iranians walk around with scallions or celery and they tap people on the shoulder throughout the seder, so we sometimes do that.

    Sometimes, I’ll disappear for a few minutes, I’ll come back wearing a coat and a cane of some sort and the kids will say “Yehudi Meifo Atah?” “Where are you coming from?” And I’ll say, “I’m coming from Mitzrayim.”

    Another part of the seder that’s big by us is “Chotfin Es Hamatzah” that when we break off the matzah for the Afikomen by Yachatz, I put it in the Afikomen bag and I say “Chotfin, Chotfin, Chotfin” and we start passing around the matzah to everybody very quickly. Of course, by the time it’s finished, it’s crumbled matzah.

    The Rebbetzin has different kinds of makkos hats that we wear depicting the different makkos, so you know which makkah it is.

    Once, our cousins came to Minneapolis, the Hoberman’s, and we had a very big Olam at our seder, so we went to a theatrical store and we picked up crowns and those kinds of hats that the ladies wore in Medieval times with two horns. Everybody got a hat and a crown. Dressed as a royal king or queen.


    Which gadols seder would the Rav have liked to attend?

    Moshe Rabbeinu or the Chofetz Chaim.
    What is the Rav’s favorite part of the seder?
    I don’t know if I have one particular favorite part. From the beginning “Ha Lachma Anya”- turning Lechem Oni into Matzah/Geulah. The Ma Nishtana are a good part too and then of course Nirtzah is great. Chad Gadya is assigned to different children and adults to portray the sounds of each part.
    If the Rav can have a chavrusa with anybody from the beginning of time for a half hour, who would it be with?
    Reb Shmuel Berenbaum zt”l, my Rebbe.
    Does the Rav have a favorite Masechta?
    Makkos. I must have given a shiur twenty times on that mesechta and it’s the first masechta I’ve ever learned. Rav Nosson Scherman was my rebbie in 7th grade when I finished it for the first time. I was eleven years old when I made a siyum on Makkos in my father’s shul Erev Pesach for siyum bechoros.
    If the Rav could hear a shiur of anybody from a Masechta that you’re learning right now, who would you want to hear a shiur given by?
    My rebbie, Rav Shmuel Berenbaum zt”l.
    What’s the Rav’s most prized sefer?
    A Minchas Chinuch given to me by the mashgiach in the Mir, Harav Tzvi Hirsch Feldman zt”l. I received 4 sets of Minchas Chinuch. One was a leather padded set. A fellow gave it to me, a chassidishe person, who said “Ah you’ll probably never learn this, but I’m giving it to you anyway.” It’s still sitting in my mother’s bookcase. But the mashgiach wrote a gorgeous Hadgasha, half a page long, beautiful shprach, Nachas Hadigula, V’hadigula B’Yisroel and that one is falling apart. I gave shiurim on Minchas Chinuch in Columbus Ohio. I would say that that is my favorite sefer.
    What is the first middah that someone should look for when looking for a shidduch?
    Vatranus. Not being an akshan, not being stubborn. They’re the same thing I guess. Vatranus means to be mevater and akshan means to be stubborn, so a person who’s mevater and not stubborn.
    Someone who’s a game changer in the world of Chinuch.
    Rav Nosson Scherman.
    Why has the Rav never made Aliyah?
    I wanted to, but the Rebbetzin didn’t think that we were ready for it. I asked Reb Yaakov Kamenetzky zt”l early on in my youth, when I was married and in Kollel and he said you have to have an eitza about parnassah. I almost moved to Eretz Yisrael to become the Rav of a community called “Neve Yaakov.” They were trying to get me to go. Then, a friend of mine, Tzvi Hershfang, who’s a big talmid chacham and a special man, said “Your kochos are in America.” I guess part of the reason is because I feel b’siyata d’shmaya that I’m able to help people over here. I’m not saying that I can’t do it over there, but perhaps I’m more effective over here thanI would be over there.
    If the Rav can have any three people sitting at his seder, not alive, who would he want to invite?
    My Rebbe, Maran HaRav Shmuel Birnbaum zt’l, my father Rav Yakov Dovid Lieff zt’l & my Shver, Rav Yakov Levi Shmuel Dardac zt’l,


    Can the Rav please share with Jewish Vues readers a special Dvar Torah on Pesach that they can say at the seder?

    There is a question asked about the seder. Why do we start Maggid, Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim, with such a downer “Ha Lachma Anya”: This is the bread of affliction, the poor man’s bread, the bread of slavery. Why is that the opening salvo? Start with something geshmak, start with something positive. Additionally, why do we make such a strange hachraza “Kol Dichfin, Kol
    Ditzrich?” No one is coming! On Shabbos Hagadol, after the Rav’s drasha, get up to the bima and say I’ll invite 2 people, I’ll take 5 people, I’ll take 10 people, I’ll take older, I’ll take younger, I’ll take singles, I’ll take, I’ll take!!!! Now, the drawbridge is up, the moat can’t be crossed and you make this hachraza- “Whoever is hungry come and eat. Whoever wants to, join us.” And by Korban Pesach. The whole thing sounds so ludicrous. It sounds hypocritical. Also, why is the wording in Avar, Hoveh and Asid? Past, present & future? “Ha Lachma Anya” this was the bread of affliction “Di Achalu Avhasana” that they ate “Hashata Hacha… L’shana Haba’a B’nei Chorin” Finally, why do we call it lechem oni? It’s referred to “lechem oni” only one time in the Torah. Sixteen times it’s called Matzah. Call it Matzah. I would like to suggest that lechem oni is the bread of a slave. It’s poor man’s bread. And the slave eats it on his own. When you
    take matzah, it is so tasteless that some have a minhag from Purim, others from Rosh Chodesh, not to eat matzah. There’s even an issur to eat matzah Erev Pesach, so you have an appetite to eat matzah. It’s tasteless like cardboard. That’s when you eat it alone. But, if you take the matzah and eat it with some fish. If you eat gebrokts, you put it in your soup or if you’re a little more
    “modern,” and while still non-gebrokts, you schmear jelly, cream cheese or butter on it. Now, it’s delicious. That’s what we’re saying. You want to turn lechem oni into matzah, then you better get busy with other people. You better take care of other people. You better have them over. It’s a hachraza for the future, that next year is not going to be like last year. Now, we’re slaves because we’re eating poor man’s bread, we’re only worried about ourselves. Someone I know, a very chashuv fellow, told me once years ago, “Rav you know, when I was a kid, we had a tiny house, but we had room for everybody.” They once dropped off a child on our doorstep, and we raised him for two years. Now, you have to make preparations six months in advance- I’ll talk to my wife, I’ll talk to my….. What are you talking about? You have 5 bedrooms and he had two little bedrooms! It’s a hachraza, not to the world. If it was to the world, then you would invite people on Shabbos Hagadol or Rosh Chodesh Nissan. This is a hachraza to our family members. We’re going to turn lechem oni into matzah, the bread of geula. How do we do that? When it accompanies food, when you have people with you, when you eat a seudah on Shabbos or Yom Tov and during the week and you invite people, and then the past “Ha lachma anya di achalu avhasana,” we’re turning it into matzah. “L’shana haba’a Bnei Chorin, L’shana Haba’a B’Yerushalayim.” The derech to do this is by bringing people under our roof.