Thursday, January 30, 2014

One of my children asked me: In פרק כ"ה פסוק י"ב in Parshas Terumah, the pasuk says the word פעמתיו which Rashi copies as פעמותיו with an extra "vav".


Baby Girls

R' Yosef Tzvi Rimon
The Time to Give a Baby Girl a Name
Question: When is the best time to give a name to a newborn baby girl?
Answer: There is no strict halachic answer to this question, but there are various customs. Some have written that it is best to give a name right after the birth, without any delay. But the common practice is to give the name during the Torah reading (although it is clear that being called to the Torah is not a critical factor). In Responsa Tzitz Eliezer (18:54), the author explains that hearing the Torah is a way of listening to the word of G-d, while giving a name is related to a Holy Spirit that inspired the father, as is written, "You will be called by a new name, which will be declared by G-d" [Yeshayahu 62:2].
Which instance of Torah reading is to be preferred? In several places (for example, Minchat Yitzchak 4:106), Bnei Yissasschar is quoted as saying that since a person's name is his essence and giving a name "enhances the Jewish sanctity of the child," the giving of the name should never be delayed. He therefore recommends giving the name to a girl the very first time after the birth that the Torah is read, even on a weekday. It seems that this is also the opinion of Tzitz Eliezer (13:20).
However, it is written in Responsa Divrei Yatziv (appendix, 102), that since the name is inspired by a Holy Spirit that reaches the father, he should rise up to the highest spiritual level during the week, on Shabbat. This is therefore the best time to give a name to a girl. "That is the highest level day, the holy Shabbat is the day of the soul, and then the name which is related to the root of the soul should be given." This is also brought by Minchat Yitzchak, who also adds another reason. He writes that it is a good idea to prepare a meal and a party when the name is given, and this is easier to do on Shabbat than on a weekday. (See other customs that he brings too.)
We can also suggest another reason to prefer giving the name on Shabbat. Usually the Shabbat services are better attended than during the week, and as is written, "The glory of the King is greatest in the midst of a large group" [Mishlei 14:28]. Birth is a wonderful and miraculous process, where a new soul enters the world. When the father is called to read the Torah and declares the birth, he is announcing the miracle. The more people are in attendance, the greater will be the praise to G-d for the miracle that took place, and the more widely will He be recognized in the world.
The Blessing "Hatov V'Hameitiv" for the Birth of a Girl
Question: Is it proper to recite the blessing "Hatov V'Hameitiv" on the occasion of the birth of a girl?
Answer: "For every event that makes his heart happy that comes from the good of the world, a person is required to recite a blessing (of Shehechiyanu)... And if he shares this good with someone else, he should recite the blessing 'Hatov V'Hameitiv'." [Shulchan Aruch Harav, Birchot Hanehenin 12:1]. Based on this idea, the Talmud decreed (Berachot 59b) that Hatov V'Hameitiv should be recited by the father of a new son, and this ruling appears in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 223:1). The Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch do not directly mention the birth of a daughter, but Aruch Hashulchan (223:1) derives from their language that for the birth of a girl neither Hatov nor Shehechiyanu should be recited, because "this is not such a happy occasion."
The Mishna Berura disagrees (2; Shaar Tzion 3), and he writes that the blessing Hatov V'Hameitiv should not be recited but Shehechiyanu should be said because of the joy of the birth of a daughter. (This is how Tzitz Eliezer understood. See also the Mishna Berura, who gives another reason.)
But if this is so, why shouldn't the blessing be Hatov V'Hameitiv? After all, the birth of a daughter is clearly a joy shared by the father and the mother. Biur Halacha explains (223) in the name of the Rashba (4:77) that the two blessings are not recited for every pleasurable event but only in a case which provides a practical benefit (such as getting an inheritance or buying a new fruit). The Rashba explains that the benefit of the birth of a son is that he will take care of the parents when they grow old and that he is considered as a continuation of the family. This might be interpreted to mean that since this reasoning does not apply to a daughter no blessing should be recited for her birth, and in fact this is the ruling accepted by most of the rabbis. (The father should recite the Shehechiyanu since he receives another benefit that is not relevant for his wife, observing the mitzva "be fruitful and multiply" [Bereishit 1:28]. See Mishna Berura.)
In practice, it seems that at the very least the blessing Shehechiyanu should be recited for the birth of a girl (as Biur Halacha rules), and that those who prefer to recite "Hatov V'Hameitiv" have good reasons to do so:
First of all, as noted above, neither the Talmud nor the Shulchan Aruch explicitly state that the blessings should not be recited. Second, in the modern world there can be no doubt that daughters also help support their parents in their old age (maybe even more than sons), and thus the parents receive a tangible benefit from the birth. In addition, Rabbi Chaim Na'eh (Ketzot Hashulchan 64, note 10) disagrees with the way Biur Halacha understood the Rashba, and he feels that Shehechiyanu and Hatov should be recited for all joys, and not only ones that brings a tangible benefit. It may be that in the past people were less happy about the birth of a girl, but today a new daughter is greeted with great joy, just as for the birth of a boy. Since this is a shared joy, the proper blessing is Hatov V'Hameitiv.
It is true that in the case of a doubt in reciting a blessing one should be stringent (and not recite the blessing), but the BACH writes that the blessings Shehechiyanu and Hatov V'Hameitiv are exceptions to this rule (Orach Chaim 29:2). Since they are recited "when a person feels happy in his heart, he can recite them even though he is not absolutely sure that he has an obligation. This is because it is not a violation of the prohibition of taking G-d's name in vain if he is indeed happy to be alive at this moment." Therefore, in a case where a person feels that he wants to thank G-d he can take the doubts into account and recite a blessing of praise.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What did Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz ztz"l do every Erev Yom Kippur? Here.

נורא נוראות!:-)

Tefillin For The Ladies

I was asked my opinion about the two high schools that granted girls permission to wear tefillin in school. I believe that everyone is entitled to MY opinion [:-)], so here goes.

A quote I saw from one of the lucky, tefillin donning, maidlach.

“I looked down at my arm and at first I was so confused,” she says. “But it felt so Jewish… I felt different in the way I was davening.  After I took them off, there was this mark. All day, I was just staring at the mark on my arm and I felt so connected… this is what davening is about.”

That gave me insight. Religion, spirituality, is all about how it makes ME feel. That is sooooo new-age. Yiddishkeit is not new-age. It is OLD-AGE. To be a Jew is to practice constant nullification of the self.

Let us say that I feel spiritual when I swim on Shabbos. The holy beach reminds me of how the Jewish people are as innumerable as the sand, the blue color of the ocean reminds me of the sky which in turn reminds me of G-d's Throne. The pretty girls on the beach remind me of Adam and Chava before the sin. How spiritual!!:-).

Let us say that I feel more spiritual in Nepal than in Jerusalem. Should I live in Nepal? [Where IS Nepal? Do they have any shteibels??]

Maybe I feel more spiritual when I do an hour of Yoga than when I learn about the law of who is liable when I dig a pit nine tfachim deep [not enough to cause a fatal accident]  and then someone else deepens it a tefach and an animal falls in and dies. 

Looking at tfillin marks on the arm is not spirituality. It is a false, self contrived feeling of spirituality. [I am almost certain that if she were wearing black boxes with nothing inside of them she also would have felt very special and Jewish].  In our religion, spirituality is defined as something that our tradition teaches brings us closer to Hashem. We can't subjectively create our own new forms of spirituality and then decide that we are more Jewish or holy. There is no way on earth to know what creates a connection with the Divine unless He tells us. 

Here is the question sweetest friends. Have the aforementioned young ladies exhausted all forms of Torah mandated connection to Hashem designed for women?? Do they believe that 3,300 years of almost no women wearing tfillin meant that all of these women were spiritually deficient? Do they think that doing an act which is the subject of a machlokes and thus assur according to some opinions puts them in dangerous territory? What about doing things that EVERYBODY agrees is a mitzva?

Since when are young girls trailblazers of tradition?? Shouldn't people who are more formidable authorities the correct address for halachic reform when necessary [such as a instituting the requirement of a thorough Torah education for girls as the Chofetz Chaim did against a long standing tradition of girls being educated in the home].

I will assume that the girls are sincere and good people. I will go even further and assume that they are MUCH better people than I am. So my gripe is against the people who gave them permission and should know better.
I copy from an email I recently wrote on the topic:
...Halachically there are sources that permit so that is not the main issue.

Whether they are sincere or just doing it to acheive equality [which R' Moshe felt was apikorsus] is something only Hashem knows. [I do wonder if they keep the halachos they are obligated in - but maybe they do].

The real issue is the slippery slope. One of the biggest principals in educating children is that of establishing boundaries. A child without boundaries grows up to be a wild animal. I fear that in the MO world there are some who are trying to break down every boundary. [E.G.  R' X hosting a baptist choir - including many women - who sang in his shul in front of the aron kodesh]. I saw an interview with the "Rabba" and she said that she was taught that there is NOTHING  a woman can't do [I called out "try growing one of these" pointing to the many hairs coming out of my face:-)]. Really? Is that the way Chazal viewed women? Sopranos waiting to be men, if they can make the cut?

If there are no boundaries then your money is my money and my money is your money. Your wife is .... and my wife is ... etc. etc. A woman can now get up in the morning and say to her husband "I am sick of being a maid and a cook. I am going to shul for daf yomi and shachris and then off to develop my career. You take care of the kids, it's your turn for the next ten years"

THAT is frightening. Maybe I am overstating it but I think that we are on the road to anarchy. Even in the charedi world which is fiercely traditional and tries to block out worldly influences [for better and for worse...] this spirit of בא לי whatever I feel like, has penetrated.

After writing this I saw this blog post by Rabbi Pruzansky of Ir Hakoidesh Teaneck:

 The controversy du jour deals with the high school girls and their tefillin, and it has prompted the usual litany of responses. Once again, what passes for psak in the Modern Orthodox world is little more than cherry-picking the sources to find the single, even strained, interpretation of a rabbinic opinion in order to permit what it wants to permit or prohibit what it wants to prohibit. The preponderance of poskim or the consensus in the Torah world matters little; fables – like Rashi’s daughters wearing tefillin – carry more weight.

 No honest reading of the sources could ever give rise to a statement such as “Ramaz would be happy to allow any female student who wants to observe the mitzvah of tefillin to do so.” Happy? Tell it to the Rema or to the Aruch Hashulchan. And what about the prohibition of lo titgodedu ­– of not having contradictory practices in the same minyan (e.g., some girls wearing tefillin and others not)? And what of the statement being made to the traditional girls – that their service of G-d must somehow be inferior to that of their peers who are on a “higher” level, or the statement being made to all of them – women’s spirituality can only reach its peak when it mimics the religious practices of men? I would not want my daughters to be exposed to either sentiment.

Frankly, it is unsurprising that many young students in high schools text on Shabbat, observe half-Shabbat, and the like. If the Mesorah can be manipulated to permit girls to do what they want, why can’t it be manipulated to permit what boys want? Clearly, the subtleties are being lost in translation. Would that the schools focused on enhancing the commitment of the boys and their tefillin than broadening it to include others who are not within the purview of the mitzvah.

And, like night follows day, the secular Jewish press – besides praising the courage of the administrators – have trumpeted this story as another sign of the feminization of Orthodoxy – a triumph of women’s rights in an age when those are considered some of society’s most cherished values. They perceive it as another sign that Orthodoxy is modernizing, getting with the times, and catching up with the non-Orthodox movements, to the chagrin of the troglodytes on the right who insist on impeding progress.

But what if that is not the story? It is quite possible that we – and especially the media – might have missed the essence of this unfolding tale.

One question needs to be asked: do the girls here even define themselves as “Orthodox Jews?” Upon information and belief, they do not, and I do not write this to impugn them in the least. The fact is that in these day schools, anywhere from 10-30% of the student population consists of children from non-Orthodox homes. These families are proud members of non-Orthodox temples, and are certainly among the more dedicated. After all, they are sending their children to day schools under nominally Orthodox auspices. Some may even be the children of non-Orthodox rabbis, both males and females. When one girl explained that she has been wearing tefillin since her Bat Mitzvah, she is likely telling the truth. She has been wearing tefillin because that is part of the egalitarianism that is the most dominant value in the non-Orthodox world. If these girls – as it seems – are from non-Orthodox families, then the narrative has nothing at all to do with the so-called modernizing tendencies in Orthodoxy, but something else entirely.
The real story is not that Orthodox girls are wearing or want to wear tefillin, but that non-Orthodox children (or their parents) are essentially dictating to day schools how they want non-Orthodox practices incorporated – in school – in their children’s education. It is as if Conservative Judaism and its customs must be acknowledged much like schools have been known (and properly so) to allow children of the Edot Hamizrach to have their own minyanim and adhere to their own customs. And the schools are willing accomplices. Will they next remove their mechitzot to allow an egalitarian minyan, or is that too great a departure from the Orthodox brand?

There was a time when non–Orthodox Jews were thankful that yeshivot accepted their children, but correctly assumed that the curriculum, standards, practices and ideology taught would conform to Torah. They knew it would differ from what they were being taught at home – but they wanted that.

There was a time when a yeshiva administration had the authority and the courage to insist on those standards. Times have changed. In the competition for the tuition dollar of the non-Orthodox – and the fact is that SAR and Ramaz are competing for the same students – accommodations have to be made. And that is a travesty. Masquerading under the convenient narrative that this is a war for the soul of Modern Orthodoxy is the inconvenient reality: the inmates are running the asylum. The administrators are either unable or unwilling to maintain a complete fidelity to Jewish tradition, for at least some of their constituents are demanding otherwise.

Does a boy in such a school then have the right to say: “I do not feel that my divine service requires me to wear a kippa. My father doesn’t, not even in the house. I am against your religious coercion”? Should a school tolerate that? Or, an even better question: could a boy say that he rejects wearing tefillin until all the girls do? I.e., he is such an advocate of egalitarianism that it would be unconscionable for him, coming from his background, to continue to propagate the school’s antiquated, misogynistic, patriarchal attitudes that discriminate between males and females. I can hear it now: “There is only one G-d. He created all of us, and so there should be one law for all of us!” I wonder how the administrators would respond to that; probably, quite uncharitably, but on what grounds?

As one male SAR student asked me this week: if girls can be obligated when they are really exempt, why can’t he be exempt when he is really obligated? The logic is not impeccable – he is only 16 years old – but begs the question: if the Mesorah is so ephemeral that it can change on a whim, why can’t any rabbi make any change that he wants to make? Why can’t a layman?
Add to this one other point. I personally have met a number of graduates of these schools who are children of non-Orthodox female converts who were never informed by the administrators that the conversions were not acceptable according to halacha. In effect, they went through high school thinking they were Jews like all their classmates only to discover – years later and often on the verge of marriage – that they were not considered Jewish. The tragedy is heart-wrenching, because these young men and women are pure innocents. But there are halachic ramifications as well even while they are in school: Did the son of such a female convert lein in school? Was he motzi the audience with his Chazarat Hashatz? Did he count for the minyan?
Take a more tragic example: what if a young girl, child of a non-Orthodox converted mother, meets and falls in love with a male classmate (perhaps, her chavruta in Gemara class), and that young man is a kohen? What would have been a beautiful relationship is now marred forever and their life plans have to be altered. Perhaps, G-d forbid, the couple might then even turn away from Torah observance entirely because the young woman in question also needs to convert according to halacha, but now cannot marry this young kohen. Is the unequivocal acceptance of non-Orthodox converts and their children the norm in these schools? Is any attempt made to have them – if possible – convert according to halacha? I wonder.
On some level, the policy makes internal sense. For a day school appealing for non-Orthodox students in a very competitive climate, questioning the legitimacy of non-Orthodox conversions would be a turn-off to parents – just like denying these girls their tefillin would displease future applicants as well.
But the bottom line is that the story here might not be at all about “Orthodox” girls wearing tefillin but about non-Orthodox children seeking an accommodation of their religious practices, and about day school principals reluctant to insist on adherence to Torah standards. And that is the opposite of courage.



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Good Try:-)

A goy walks into a restaurant and sees a Jew sitting there so he says to the waiter "Drinks for everybody here except for that man" and points to the Jew.

The waiter brings out the drinks and the goy sees the Jew smiling.

He then says to the waiter "The most expensive main course on me, for everybody here except for that man".

The waiter brings out the food and once again the Jew is smiling, even more broadly. The goy approaches him and says "Why are you so happy? Everybody got except for you?"

The Jew answered "I own this restaurant...."

New Shiurim

A shiur on Trumah  - unreal. Here.
If you liked it [impossible not to] - another here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Almost Full

ONE SLOT IS MIRACULOUSLY STILL OPEN FOR THE NEXT ZMAN IN OUR "SKYPE-YESHIVA". First-come-first-served. זריזין מקדימין!!! for more info.

A Delicious History Lesson

I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time". So I ordered French Toast during the Rennaissance.

A Christmas Tree In A Torah Home

The editor of the Detroit Free Press related the following:

His grandmother Mary emigrated from Ireland as an 18 year old girl. She moved to Detriot and found work as a maid for a Jewish family. She had probably never met a Jew in her life until she met this family. The man of the house was a prominent personality and President of the local Orthodox shul.

One time the family went on vacation and were supposed to come back on December 24th. When they were away Mary noticed that they had no Christmas tree or decorations [!] so she innocently took some of the money they had left her to use in their absence to buy a tree and decorate the home.

When they returned they were quite shocked by what they saw. Especially given the fact that their tree was by the window in full view of anybody who passed by.

The man of the house called Mary into his study and told her that he was so touched by her gesture. He has never had anybody do something sooooo nice for him. He took out a hundred dollar bill [back when a hundred dollars was worth thousands of dollars today] and gave it to her as a show of his appreciation.

Then he gently told her that as Jews we don't celebrate Christmas so they don't really need to keep the tree and decorations.

Because of this story, said the editor of the Detroit Free Press, I have never let one bad word be written about the State of Israel [and I assume the Jews in general] in my newspaper.

We see how one little act of Kiddush Hashem can have such far reaching ramifications.

Amazing story. 

New Shiur

Shiur on Mishpatim here.

Not normal:-)
Weekly sugya on the parsha - here.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

מנחם משה בן חנה גיטל בתוך שח"י

From an email I received:

Dear Friends,

Our 9 month old grandson in LA is listed in critical condition at Cedar Sinai PICU. He is stricken with an as yet only partially unidentified infection that now courses throughout his body.
Tefilla is crucial. Through the course of today and days following, please say as many of the following Tehillim, as often as you are able:
6, 13, 16, 20, 23, 121, 127, 129,130, 142.

In the zechus of our tefillos and the tefillos of others, iy"H hayeled Menachem Moshe ben Chanah Gittel will be restored to full health b'karov.
Tizku l'mitzvos.
Rabbi Gershon C. Gewirtz
Young Israel of Brookline
62 Green Street
Brookline, MA 02446

What Happens When Life Is Stripped Of Meaning

There was a famous entertainer of whom I was a huge fan in my [somewhat wayward] youth [captured by the Gentiles...:-)]. He was a non-practicing, unaffiliated Jew. What did he have? Apparently - everything. Fame, fabulous wealth, wives [3 at last count] more beautiful than beautiful. What did he lack? Nothing, it would seem. In short - the American dream.

He also suffers and suffered from deep intense depression. He attempted suicide as well. His relationships consistently fail. I wouldn't want to be him for 5 minutes.

He is not a happy person. He is miserable. So what does he lack?


He professes to be an atheist [as if one can be sure that there is no G-d, being that not one single proof has ever been offered against His existence]. If a person has no G-d, then he has nothing. Life only has meaning to the extent that he invents his own subjective meaning that has no absolute truth. The whole world is a big accident. He is an accident. We live, get sick and then die. How utterly depressing. I would probably try to commit suicide also if I felt that way.... [Although I wouldn't do it by swallowing furniture cleaner:-)].

There is an organization in Israel [and in the U.S. as well] that helps Charedi people adopt a secular lifestyle. In other words - it helps them become like goyim. Ahhh michaye!!:-). It finds them employment, tries to provide a social structure with support groups and the like and helps them integrate into the G-dless world which so many people inhabit.

Recently, there has been a spate of suicides of members of this organization. No wonder. Quite often people become irreligious due in part to emotional imbalances that are not solved by becoming secular. Also, these people lost their families and friends. No more parents [or a best a very strained relationship], or siblings etc etc. To go along with this, there are terrible guilt feelings for all of their sins [a great deal of repression is required in order to try to push away such basic feelings]. Most importantly, they have lost the most valuable possession a person can have - faith. Faith in Hashem, faith in the ultimate redemption of themselves and the world, faith that all that happens has a purpose. Instead, they live the post-modern life where the only god and judge of good and evil, right and wrong is themselves. A world where they are no boundaries for everything is OK if they just decide that it is. To live in a world with no absolutes, with no ultimate truths is TERRIBLY DEPRESSING.

I am not surprised but quite saddened about the suicides.

Torah provides not only a meaningful framework and structure for life but quite a bit of happiness as well. עבדו את השם בשמחה - It is an avodah, hard work, to be genuinely religious, but also the greatest source of joy.

I close with a quote that has stuck with me for years: "When man abandons G-d, G-d in not alone. Man is." 

לזכות כל הנושרים שירדו מדרך התורה והפסיקו להחזיק בעץ החיים, שישובו בתשובה שלימה ובמיוחד ב"י!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One Spot Left....

ONE SLOT IS OPEN FOR THE NEXT ZMAN IN OUR "SKYPE-YESHIVA". First-come-first-served. זריזין מקדימין!!!

For details you may contact me:-).

New Shiurim!

Three wondrous shiurim on parshas Mishpatim here and here and here.
Please take a moment to say Perek 130 for Yaakov Ben Devorah.
May Hashem send him a refuah shleima right away Amen!

Please say Tehillim for a young family in Jerusalem who was accidentally poisoned last night by strong pesticide left in the storage unit of their apartment building. 
The father and mother and two younger children are in critical condition - these four are fighting for their lives.. Two older children of the family were already niftar.
Here are the names to have in mind when saying Tehillim:
- Shimon Ozer ben Tziporah (father)
- Michal bas Rachel (mother)
- Refael Yitchok Eizik ben Michal
- Chaim Michoel Shlomo ben Michal
ולא ישמע עוד שוד ושבר בארצינו 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Dangers Of Neutrality

From the book The Beast That Crouches At the Door by R' David Fohrman:

Just before Cain goes for that fateful stroll in the fields with his brother the Almighty speaks to him. This is what He says:
Why are you angry and why has your face fallen? Is it not the case that if you do well -- lift up! And if you do not do well -- sin lies crouching at the door, its desire is unto you, and you can rule over it. (Genesis 4:6-7)
What do these rather cryptic words really mean? And, whatever they in fact mean, why is it that Cain needs to hear them right now?

......... Anger and depression make good bed-fellows; they often go together. The reason, perhaps, is that each is basically a passive emotional response. Anger and depression take for granted that the source of our woes is located outside ourselves; that we have been betrayed by others, or have been victimized by forces beyond our control. And while this may sometimes be the case, it is often an exaggeration. More often than not, we do have choices available to us, even if we are not always prepared to recognize them. Once we see this, our anger and depression begin to evaporate.
Harriett Lerner, in her book, The Dance of Anger, paints a hypothetical scenario that nicely illustrates the point. Imagine that you and your roommate have a pet kitten. One night, the kitten wakes you with some strange meowing. It is two-thirty in the morning and you are concerned. You turn to your roommate, and a conversation ensures between the two of you that goes roughly like this:
You: "She really doesn't sound right. I think we should call the vet."
Your Roommate: "What do you mean call the vet? It's the middle of the night!"
You: "I don't know. She really sounds pretty bad. I think we should call the vet..."
Your Roommate: "Look, just go back to sleep. She probably swallowed a hairball."
You: "Are you sure we just shouldn't call the vet?"
Your Roommate: "Goodnight!"
You both go back to sleep, and when you wake up in the morning, the cat is dead.
Now, take a deep breath and ask yourself: How are you going to feel towards your roommate, when morning comes and you discover the lifeless kitten lying next to your bed?
You are likely to be enraged.
"It's all your fault! Here I was, telling you that we should take the kitten to the vet, and all you could think about was getting a good night's sleep! And now, the kitten is dead..."
Whether you like it or not, though, the reality is otherwise. You were not the victim of circumstances beyond your control here. You were not betrayed by your sleep-seeking roommate. You had free will. There were choices open to you, choices you refused to grab hold of. No one forced you to get permission from your roommate before calling the vet; you could have made whatever calls you wanted to. If you feel angry or depressed here, it is because you choose to see yourself as helpless, as a victim of your lousy, insensitive roommate. But in fact, you weren't a victim at all.
Cain, in feeling angry, locates the source of his problem outside of himself, in God. No one can control God, and as long as that's the problem, you're nothing but a victim. But that wasn't the reality. The core of his problem lay entirely in the choices Cain was himself making, in the nature of the relationship he was trying to build with God, and this was a realm entirely within his control. The first step off the bridge, then, is letting go and of anger and depression, and reclaiming this element of control.

So Cain, all in all, is being given an antidote to his feelings of anger and depression. You have choices, God is saying, the ball is in your court. "If you do well, then, lift up!" What had been downcast before -- Cain's face ("why has your face fallen...") -- can now be raised. Cain will be able to look himself in the eye, as it were, when he stares at the mirror in the morning. When we seize on our power to act in a positive way, we begin to lift up our faces again, in the ultimate gesture of self-respect.

Of course, when there are choices available, there is always the option of choosing poorly, too, "And if you do not do well, sin lies crouching at the door..."

Earlier, we got stuck on this phrase. How could the consequence of sin, be vulnerability to sin? But when the verse talks about "not doing well," who says that's the same as committing a sin? After all, the text doesn't say "if you do evil," then sin lies crouching at the door; instead, it says "if you do not do well." Not doing good isn't the same thing as doing evil. It is simply being neutral.

Maybe God is saying something like the following: Why has your face fallen? If you are active; if you seek out the good -- you can lift up your face. And if you are neutral -- if you do not act positively -- you can't tread water. While being neutral is not itself an evil -- it leaves you vulnerable to evil. Sin lies crouching at the door, and even the most well intentioned neutral party can still be become its prey.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Power Of Music

In the sefer אור המאיר written by a close talmid of the Maggid of Mezritch  [the Rebbe of Zitomir] who was a talmid of the Holy Baal Shem, he writes that the Baal Shem Tov said that he once heard a rasha playing the violin and he could discern all of this man's aveiros. If this is what he could do with an instrument, then certainly he could hear it in a persons singing. The reason is that a person puts all of his depths into his music, so if he is pure, the purity emanates from the music. If not, then other things emerge. [See there page 289]

SWEETEST FRIENDS!!! Be careful what music you listen to...... It is VERY potent.

A Milestone - BS"D

I just saw that this blog has received its 400,000th hit. THANKS FOR HITTING!!!!

I have often mentioned in the past my hesitations about having a blog but the fact that I know that so many people are reading makes it worth it for me, even though it takes up my most valuable asset - time. I hope that when I meet my Maker, He will say "My dear son Elchonon'le - thank you for spreading My words on the Mevakesh". 

Not Consecutive

I went to a store in Manhattan that had a big sign "Open 24 hours". This Hispanic guy was locking up. I asked him how he can lock up - the store is open 24 hours?!
He answered "Yes, but not in a row".

New Shiur

The sugya of a get that is אסור בהנאה here and here.

Another Rabbinic Scandal!

The Bi-ur Halacha [סי' תרי"ח] cites a tshuva of the Binyan Tziyon [of Rav Yaakov Etlinger] who says that if a choleh ate a half of a shiur on Yom Kippur in order to save his life and doesn't need to eat the other half, he is chayav kares if he eats more and completes the shiur.

This is scandalous, according to Mori V-rabbi Shlita. He didn't eat a whole shiur of something assur, only half a shiur [the second eating]. The first eating was bi-heter gamur! So how can he be chayav kares???! If someone was a goy and ate a half of a kzayis on Yom Kippur, then converted and ate the other half - is he chayav?? Of course not! [R' Genechovski ztz"l].

[Also, if you look at the tshuva of the Binyan Tziyon, as I did, you will see that he doesn't say what the Biyur Halacha says he did. Wonder of wonders].

[Heard at last night's weekly daf yomi bi-iyun shiur.]

See Li-horos Nosson [5/38], Rav Z'olti's article in the Moriah journal [Av 5735], Avnei Shoham [R' Shlomovitz Simman 82] and much much more, including this.

לזכות ר' משה גבריאל בן יהודית לברכה והצלחה בכל מעשי ידיו

Monday, January 20, 2014

Causing Others Pain

A short mussar vort on this weeks parsha - here.

חיוך יומי

A young man asked Morris, an old wealthy man, how he made his money.

Morris took off his glasses and said, "Well, son, it was 1932 during the heart of the Great Depression. I was down to my last nickel.

"So I invested that nickel in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing the apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for ten cents.

"The next morning, I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5:00 pm for 20 cents. I continued this system for a month, by the end of which I'd accumulated the sum of $1.60.....

"Then my wife's uncle Bernie died and left us two million dollars."

מרים ברכה בת שרה - בתוך שח"י

Please daven for Miriam Bracha bas Sara, a 21 year old from NY in critical condition and on a respirator. She has contracted a rare strain of the Asian Flu that is not treatable.

New Shiurim

The mitzva of wearing bigdei kehuna - niflaos mi-torah Hashem, here.

Giving a get on the hand of an eved - gittin 20b. Two big chiddushim in the sugya, here.

Speak Up

Scene One:

In my youth, I was quite the college football fan. My favorite team was the Penn State Nittany Lions, led by their legendary coach, the late [great? we'll see...] Joe Paterno. He had a magnificent reputation as a coach, leader and molder of young men.


Until the big scandal with such a big rasha that I don't even want to mention his name. One of his assistant coaches had repeatedly abused little boys and it was revealed that "JoePa" [as he was known] was aware of the behavior but concealed it in order to protect the football program. He was ignominiously fired in his mid 80's by the university for his silence and tacit approval of the criminal and evil behavior of his assistant. He will forever be remembered more for this tragic story than he will for all of his successes and good deeds.

Scene two:

In the Orthodox community we had a similar story. Prominent, storied leader and guide who accomplished so much in his life, both in the scholarly and administrative realms, who was forced to step down [also in his mid 80's] after it was revealed that he knew about but covered up the immoral behavior of his employees. He, too, will sadly be remembered for this and that will overshadow the tremendous good he brought to the world [he lived nearby so I know him personally and genuinely admire, like and respect him].

Striking parallel.

Scene three:

I was once in a room with a few dozen rabbonim and educators. I said something which one of the more prominent personalities in the room didn't like. He proceeded to lambast me and fry me alive, in hysteric tones. He took a general comment I made personally, assuming I was attacking him, when in fact I had no such intentions. That was clear from my comments and everybody in the room knew that. I try to stand up for myself but was shouted down by him. Nobody said a word in my defense. Afterwards people approached me personally, told me how wrong he was and that they wanted to say something, but..... Nu, it should be a kappara:-).

Some time later this person said in front of a crowd that he "forgives me" [I never asked for it and considered it another indication of his extreme emotional imbalance to forgive someone for something that he never did]. He said that he read a non-Jewish book about the powers of forgiveness and thought that it would be good for his soul to forgive me.

Again, nobody said a word.

Then he took it back and said that he doesn't forgive me after all and never will:-).

Lesson: When you see injustice - PROTEST! Speak up. Don't let it pass by with no reaction. Ultimately, there is a price to pay for silence.

Remember the world. The world didn't speak up when Jews were being slaughtered by the millions [not that I am comparing that to the three case scenarios mentioned above to the magnitude of the Holocaust, but the same principal applies - when one sees evil or injustice everything must be done to stop it].

That is my opinion. Am I wrong??

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Video!

A discussion of the Chasidim Ha-rishonim who would prepare to daven for one hour, here.

Poor Latrell

I received the following from a beloved friend in response to the previous post.

Hey Rebbe, I was reading your Shabbos in Cancun and it reminded of an article I read a bunch of years ago about an NBA player and his salary. I went online and found it and copied it below. Obviously, the numbers are a little different but the ideas mentioned by the writer (Rick Reiley) are similar.
On the official Ten Most Selfish, Greedy, Spoiled to the Spleen, Multimillionaire Athletes You'd Most Like to See Thrown to a Dieting Lion list, you'd have to rank Latrell Sprewell one through at least eight.
He's the Minnesota Timberwolves guard who choked his coach when he was with Golden State. ("It's not like he was losing air or anything," he told 60 Minutes.) He's the one who brandished a two-by-four during a run-in with Warriors teammate Jerome Kersey at a practice and then reportedly threatened to get a gun. He's the guy whose pit bull bit off his 4-year-old daughter Page's ear and mauled her face, but he didn't want the dog to be put down. "Stuff happens," he shrugged.
Now Spree has topped his own remarkable self. He'll be paid $14.6 million this season, but last week he was talking to reporters about how disgusted he is that he doesn't have a contract for next season. Why not help the T-Wolves win the NBA title this season and then see what happens? he was asked.
And Spree said--are you ready for it?--Spree said, "Why would I want to help them win a title? They're not doing anything for me. I'm at risk. I have a lot of risk here. I got my family to feed. Anything could happen."
On three, let's all hurl at once!
Whose family is this guy feeding, Brigham Young's? [pshat in joke - Brigham Young had many many wives]. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture calculations, he should be able to feed his wife, Candace, and six kids for $19,237 this year. Even if you take out taxes and agent fees--which leaves him about $8.3 million--he could feed not only his family, but also 431 other families of eight. Actually, through the World Vision relief program, he could feed 8.3 million people for one day. Or a village of 400 for nearly 57 years. 
He could still feed his family, three times a day every day for a year, the following: shark-fin soup ($100 a bowl in Hong Kong), beluga caviar ($920 for 8 ounces), Kobe beef ($49 a pound), preserved black winter truffles ($175 worth would be enough) and a box of the world's best chocolates (by Pascal Caffet, 14 pieces for $90) and still have almost $7 million left.
You know, for snacks.
Of course, kids don't want that garbage. They want McDonald's. Fine. He can get them McDonald's. In fact, at the low-end price of $466,000 apiece, he can get each of his kids a McDonald's franchise, and 11 for himself.
Or forget his family. Spree could buy every fan at Target Center a pizza and a large Coke (cost: about $10) at every home game this year and still have dough left over.
Not that he cares about fans. By asking "Why would I want to help them win a title?" Sprewell spits in the eye of every Timberwolves fan. (If the NBA ever dies, we'll carve that quote on its tombstone.) Why win? Uh, because they're paying you the gross national product of a small nation? Because fans making half of 1% of what you make scrimp for months to see you play one time?
Spree can't relate. Spree doesn't have time to. Spree is busy tending to his huge yacht. Spree is busy driving his fleet of cars, including a custom-designed Lamborghini Diablo, a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a $300,000 Maybach, the one with a champagne cooler in the armrest. Spree is busy being upset about the three-year, $21 million extension the Wolves offered him. "Insulting," Spree said.
Oh, it's insulting all right.
Shame on Latrell Sprewell. Shame on somebody so self-absorbed, so out of touch that he could say something so grotesquely selfish. And not just once, twice. Asked the next day if he regretted playing the "feed my family" card knowing that thousands in the Twin Cities are out of work and facing a bitter winter, Spree said--are you ready for it?--Spree said, "That's where I can be if something happens to me."
Can't we please throw this man a telethon?
No, you know where Spree could be without his God-given gifts? Standing in line at an Emergency FoodShelf outside Minneapolis with Michael Larson, an injured house painter living off Social Security, who gets $93 in food stamps a month. "If you can't feed your family on $8 million a year," says Larson wryly, "you're not budgeting properly."
Says Marc Ratner of FoodShelf, "I wish Mr. Sprewell could come here for a day. We have people who have to decide, every month, whether they should buy food or heat."
And Sprewell has the gall to talk about risk?
Spree, the only risk you face is running into an out-of-work piano mover late at night who has a wife and kids to feed but really has nothing to feed them--except maybe you.
But don't worry. When he chokes you, it's not like you'll be losing air or anything.

Shabbat In Cancun!!!!

This has been bothering me for some time and I have blogged about it in the past and I intended to blog about it again - but then I saw that my friend Reb Chaim at the Divrei Chaim blog touched upon the issue. I will copy..

I took a count of the number of ads for Pesach resort vacations I saw recently in a Jewish newspaper and stopped when I got past 20.  I was just on a “frum” website and was immediately hit with a pop-up ad for “Shabbat in Cancun.”  Mind you: some of same places running these ads won’t run an ad or article with a picture of even a modestly dressed woman because, after all, “hatzne’a leches,” we have standards of tzniyus, but running ads for decadent luxury resort vacations is somehow OK. 

I guess if you make a million dollars a year, blowing a few tens of thousands on Pesach is really not a big deal.  It’s a matter of proportion.  But then I start to think that judging by the number of these programs, there must be plenty of millionaires in our community (baruch Hashem!), and I start to wonder why are our yeshivos all struggling for cash.  There is obviously something wrong with my hashkafos because every one of these programs has a litany of Rabbis offering lectures and shiurim and daf yomis -- not only do they approve, they participate. 
I've posted about this in the past and realize it is a lost cause.  The trend is to offer more luxury to the kosher consumer, not less.  My hunch, though, is that you won't find someone who knows Ketzos sitting on a beach in Cancun -- it's a delusion to think you can live in both worlds. 
End of quote.
I add that it is not only the yeshivos that are struggling for cash. It is countless families who are drowning in debt, who don't have enough for the basics. Just this past Thursday, I was talking to a friend, a hard working man whose wife also works, but has so much debt , that Donald Trump would have trouble covering it. He has tuition's for his children, dental treatments, mortgage etc. etc. That is in addition to the daily expenses and bills such as groceries and various utilities. He is really trying hard and doesn't want tzdaka but is not able to make it. There are so many like him. A person could say - if I can't help so many people then what is the point? The answer of course is that to help even one person is a tremendous mitzva.
Here is a question I ask: Does Hashem receive "pleasure" from the Pesach seder of a family in a resort hotel when the money they are spending could support a poor family FOR A WHOLE YEAR [or more]. Another question I have is - are people apathetic to the plight of their suffering fellow Jews. If they are not - then they are going to have a hard time enjoying the vacation. If they are - then that is a drop of Amalek [don't be offended, the sfarim say we all have a drop of Amalek in ourselves]. I am enjoying myself on the beach, while my brother doesn't have money for food, and I don't even care. Oy vey is mir!
In my former career as a fund raiser I would always hear from people how "rough" things are. Ahhhhhh, rough. They had no food at home apparently because they went away to the Inbal for Succos with their whole family [and would have their children's friends over for meals - so a yuntiv lunch could easily be 5-10 thousand dollars]. I baruch Hashem am done with that but so many people are struggling and it pains me. I have almost nothing to give but halevai all of the people I know who have been given such shefa from shomayim should share it more generously with those in need. I have mentioned in the past, that in many families you will find some family members who are making a lot of money, buying fancy clothes, driving luxury cars and making 6 figure simchas [four hours - 200k!!] while their own family members don't have enough money to afford a cleaning lady twice a day to help take the burden off an overburdened, pregnant, full time job working wife.
Or for food.  
A brother. A cousin. A niece or nephew. Why wouldn't one give if they will still have a well padded bank account and someone they are close to will suffer that much less.
Wonder of wonders. According to the gemara, Jews are rachamanim bnei rachamanim.
That being said - some people need a vacation in order to maintain their mental health and equilibrium. If that is the case then they have a every right to go. My life and basic needs precede the basic needs of my friend - חייך קודמין. In addition, sometimes one needs to go for shalom bayis purposes. That is also a more than valid reason to go. Gotta keep the lady happy...
So how does one know if the expense is justified? I have a pashut eitza - ask a shyla. Go to your Rav, present the circumstances and ask for a psak. Should the 50k go to tzdaka or Cancun for a week?
Of course, another issue is whether these vacation spots are fitting for a ben Torah [I hear in the back of my head a voice crying "ALMOST NEVER". Should I ignore the voice?]. People live with the attitude - it is my money and I will spend it as I wish.
One can only have that attitude, if he also believes that there is no G-d. And if he believes that there is no G-d - why is he going away for Pesach??
Sweetest friends!! There is a Judge and there is a day of judgement. PLEASE don't spend a penny unless it is a fulfillment of the will of the One who gave you the money.  
Love and blessings and wishes for great financial success for all:-)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Article

Article on Yisro - here.


חיוך יומי - A Smile A Day

I went to the store to buy batteries. The package of batteries on the shelf was empty. I thought that was soooo strange. I looked at the small print on the package and it said "Batteries not included".

Learning And Feeing That Hashem And Torah Are One

לזכות ראובן יעקב בן שרה יוכבד לברכה והצלחה בכל ובריאות איתנה

Rav Yoel Kahn, the main "chozer" of the sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe related a story that happened to him:

I used to give shiurim in chasidus to buchrim in a certain litvishe yeshiva in New York. There was one boy who didn't attend the shiurim because he was too involved in learning gemara but we became friendly anyway. One time he told me that he has a personal problem and needs an appointment with the Rebbe. I tried to get him one but the Rebbe's schedule was full for a looong time. I pressured the gabbai R' Chadkov and finally he relented and gave the boy an appointment with the caveat that he cannot stay in there for more than 3 or 4 minutes.

In reality, the Rebbe spoke with him for over an hour. R' Chadkov was angry but there was nothing I could do. After the meeting the boy said "I am never going to 770 again!!" I thought that the Rebbe told him something that didn't make sense in his mind. The boy explained that what the Rebbe said was logical but he still is not going to return to 770.

15 years later I am walking down the street in Crown Heights and someone calls out to me. It was this boy. He told me what had happened in this yechidus with the Rebbe 15 years prior and what happened subsequently. 

This boy had come from a chasidic home but had lost the strong connection to the warmth, feeling and emotion of chassidus after learning for so long in this litvishe yeshiva. He told the Rebbe that he had a certain problem [to this day I don't know what it was] and the Rebbe told him that the ONLY way to solve the problem is to learn a few hours [!] of chasidus a day. The Rebbe explained that learning gemara without chasidus often brings one to learn for ulterior motives such as honor or to be a gadol. Such learning has no solid foundation and won't last. When one learns chasidus, all of his learning becomes pure. When one learns Torah he should feel Hashem in the Torah he is learning. The Rebbe gave a moshol of a child who hugs his father. There is no other purpose in hugging his father other than connecting to him. In the same way, we learn Torah in order to connect and feel that אורייתא וקוב"ה כולא חד - Hashem and Torah are one [as the Zohar Hakadosh says].

"Have you ever seen anyone learning that way?" The Rebbe asked the boy. The boy asked in return "If one learns chasidus, he learns that way?" "I saw people who did", countered the Rebbe. "Sometimes a person feels that he wants to "grab" Hashem, so he takes his gemara and learns."

The boy said that the Rebbe explained the topic very well but the boy wasn't willing to give up on his desire to be a gadol and learn less gemara. But since he knew that the Rebbe was correct he refused to come back to 770.

Some time later, the boy gave an explanation of a gemara which caused his friends to scoff. He was not used to this. It happened another few times until he had a personal crisis. Until now, all of the kavod he had received from the other boys and being considered a genius kept him going but now it was gone.

Eventually he left yeshiva, got married and went into business. He no longer had any taste for learning. After a long time he finally grabbed himself and realized how far he had fallen from his glory days in the yeshiva. He tried to get back into learning but it didn't go. He tried again - but for naught. He tried learning chasidus but that didn't grab him either. He was by nature a reserved and more cerebral boy and the fire and passion of chasidus didn't excite him.

One day he saw an advertisement for a farbrenegen at 770 and decided to go. AS HE WALKED IN, he heard the Rebbe saying "Hashem makes sure that everyone comes back. That applies to ALL Jews. But there is a special hashgacha for those people who once learned Torah, whether it was li-shma or not, and He makes sure things happen that bring such people back to Him."

The boy said that he doesn't know if the Rebbe was talking directly to him or not but he stayed and listened to the rest of the talk - some of which he understood and most of which he didn't.

After that he attended numerous farbrengens of the Rebbe. I asked him why he kept coming back if he didn't understand? He became angry and said "What don't you understand? I hear this Jew talking and I see that Hashem, the Torah and the Jews are one!" 

Since then he has been looking for me to study with him chasidus [Chabad chasidus is the most cerebral of all the sifrei chasidus. חב"ד = chochma, bina and daas. That is a good match for the nature of this man].

It was very important to him that the Rebbe remembered him and their meeting. One time [I think it was the last day of Pesach] he passed by the Rebbe to receive a li-chaim. When the Rebbe saw him he said "Voos machstoo" [How are you?].

We have been learning together for some time now and his home changed drastically for the better. His children now attend good yeshivos as opposed to where they used to be.

[This story was related in Kfar Chabad magazine י"ט כסלו תשע"ד]
זכות הצדיקים יעזור ויגן ויושיע!!   

The Power Of Inheritance

If one says "My property should go to you and after you it shall go to so and so, the law is as follows: If the first recipient is fit to inherit the benefactor and he thus received the award as an inheritance, the second one has no rights to it and after the first reipient dies the inheritance is passed to his heirs and not to the second. The reason is that this award was not made in the language of a gift but of an inheritance and an inheritance can't be interrupted.

Asked Rava "How can we say that an inheritance is not interrupted? The benfactor interrupted it??"

Answered Rav Nachman: The benefactor thought that an inheritance can be interrupted but he was wrong because the Torah says that it cannot. [Bava Basra 133a]  

Explained the Rogochover Gaon: There are two reasons why a person inherits. One is because he is a relative [see Bava Basra 110a]. The other is because the inheritor is כמו עצם המוריש - he is like the essence of the one bequething. Thus, an inheritance is not considered a שינוי רשות - as if it in a different domain, rather it is as if it remained in the original domain. That is why our gemara says ירושה אין לה הפסק - that inheritance doesn't stop.

[עפ"י ההקדמה לס' צפנת פענח על שמות עמ' ט"ו]   

לזכות חנה בת הילה לברכה בכל

Being Humble That You Are Humble

The Baal Shem Tov Hakodesh told the following moshol: There was once a king who was told that if he is humble then he will live forever. He became sooooo humble and started to think to himself "Wow-eeee, not only am I king but I am humble also".

From we see that even a good middah like humility can become skewed.

Added the Holy Ba-al Hatoldos [Rav Yaakov Yosef of Polania, a close talmid of the Besht]: That is what the pasuk means in Megillas Esther "ומרדכי יצא בלבוש מלכות" - Mordechai went out with the garments of kingship. When he WENT OUT, he acted as king. But in his heart, he was humble and realized his nothingness.

One must be careful that his good middos only bring good to himself and the world.

[Heard from the Rebbe Shlita] 

Is An Issur Mafkia Zman?

There is a discussion in the achronim that explores the following question: Does a prohibition מפקיע [neutralize] time? In other words, if there is an act that has a set time for its performance but during part of the time it is forbidden to do this action, do we view this forbidden time period as if it is not part of the time at all or do we say זמן לחוד ואיסור לחוד, the time is one issue while the איסור is a separate issue?

The acharonim bring numerous proofs, f'rinstence: It says [Psachim 5a] "זמן שחיטה אמר רחמנא" - meaning, that from midday on the 14th of nissan it is considered the time of bringing the korban pesach even though it is אסור to bring the korban until the korban tomid is brought. We see then that the איסור is NOT מפקיע time.

Of course, this is not a proof, because bringing the tomid first is not מעכב and if one brings the pesach first he is yotzei בדיעבד. So all we can learn is that with respect to time we look at the בדיעבד  and not לכתחילה.  

Another proof is from the machlokes [Sanhedrin 13a] is the first day of succos must occur in the fall, as the pasuk says   חג האסיף תקופת השנה [the holiday of gathering at the season of the year], does this mean that ALL of succos has to occur during the new תקופה [season] or is it enough if just chol hamoed is during the new season [this question will determine if me must make it a leap year]. The machlokes is on the words חג האסיף the holiday of gathering. According to the latter opinion, since in practice one may only gather on chol hamoed, that is when there must be a new season. The gemara asks on the opinion that even the first day of yom tov must occur during the new תקופה that the pasuk implies that it must be a time of gathering, which is only during chol hamoed. The gemara answers: חג הבא בזמן אסיפה - a holiday that occurs during the period of gathering [but not that one must actually be able to gather]. Apparently, the machlokes is if the איסור is מפקיע the זמן. According to the first opinion, even though there is an איסור against gathering during yom tov, this איסור isn't מפקיע the זמן and it is still called זמן האסיף. According to the latter opinion, the איסור is מפקיע the זמן and therefore the first day of yom tov need not be in the new תקופה because it is not זמן האסיף.

However, that is not an absolute proof, because the question there is not whether the time per se is neutralized but on the act of gathering. The machlokes is if the Torah is referring to the time of gathering which is even during the first day or on the act of gathering, which is only on chol hamoed.

There is more.....:-)

Li'ilui nishmas Elisha Chanina ben HaRav Aharon Avraham.

[עפ"י המדות לחקר ההלכה ח"ב עמ' של"ד]


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Esrog On Tu Bi-shvat

On Tu Bishvat we daven for a good esrog [there are deep kabbalistic reasons for this]. Some EAT an Esrog. Question: Does one make a she-hecheeyanu before eating the esrog??

Why not?

Why yes???

[Why does a Jew always answer a question with another question?? I don't know - why?]

I will leave it up to the Bnei Torah, korei ha-blog ha-zeh, to research the topic and share there conclusions.

Soooo Sentimental

Moishe and Miriam Epstein were shopping at the mall. Suddenly Miriam looked around and Moishe was gone. Miriam was quite upset because they had a lot of shopping to do. She searched for a while before she decided to call Moishe on his cell phone to ask him where he was.

In a quiet voice he said, “Do you remember the jewelry store we went to about five years ago, when you fell in love with that diamond necklace that we couldn’t afford and I told you one day – one day, I would get it for you?”

Miriam choked up and started to cry. “Yes I remember that store,” she said trembling.

“Good,” replied Moishe, “Because I’m at the ice cream store next door.”

P.S. PLEASE don't try this with your wife. She WON'T find it funny...

New Shiur For Marrieds And Almost Marrieds

I continued the series in Shalom Bayis and Kdushas Habayis here.
Here is part one.
Great for Shovevim:-).

New Video Shiur!!:-)


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Gemara And Grades

How do you get kids to stop watching movies?

Give them a test on it...

In our schools there are tests and marks which makes kids dislike/hate/despise the subjects studied. Do you know anybody who studies his old high school and college textbooks in his free time?? After we are done - we are done. Since Gemara is a "subject" - kids don't fall in love with it.

So sad.

[An idea I heard and agree with].

High-Tech Ruchniyus

RABBI IN SHUL: "Will everyone please turn on their tablet, PC, iPad, smart phone, and Kindles to Art Scroll page 232. And please switch on your Bluetooth to download the sermon."


"Now, let us daven. Open your Apps, BBM, Twitter and Facebook, and chat with God"

S-i-l-e-n-c-e .......

"As we accept your kind tzedakah donations, please have your credit and debit cards ready."

"You can log on to the Shul Wi-Fi using the password 'Hashem18.' The Shammes will circulate mobile card swipe machines among the congregants:

Those who prefer to make electronic fund transfers are directed to computers and laptops at the rear of the Shul.

Those who prefer to use iPads can open them.

Those who prefer telephone banking, take out your cell phones to transfer your contributions to the Shul account.”

This week's shiur will be held on the various Facebook group pages where the usual group chatting takes place. Please log in and don't miss out.

Thursday's Talmud Torah study will be held live on Skype at 1900hrs GMT. Please don't miss out.

You can follow the Rabbi on Twitter this weekend for counselling and prayers.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Who Needs Aliyah La-regel

It says in the gemara that if one doesn't own land he is exempt from going to the Beis Hamikdash for aliya la-regel [Psachim 8]. Explained the Kotzker that if one doesn't own land i.e. he is not connected to the land because he is a very spiritual person, he doesn't need the inspiration of the Beis Hamikdash. One who owns land - needs the high of going to the Beis Hamikdash during the holiday.

Drop It

Would the world look any different if "answer" would drop the extra "w"? And "would" the extra "o" and "l". Makes it really hard for foreigners to learn the language.

A random thought on a Monday afternoon.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Qualitative Difference In Time

The difference between a set amount of time and forever in halacha, is not only quantitative but qualitative as well. "Forever" is a special category in and of itself which is unique from any other duration of time, as long as it may be.

The gemara [Nazir 8b] and Rambam [3/ 11] rule that a person who is a Nazir forever  - a נזיר עולם - shaves, brings his korbanos and starts again every thirty days. This is in contrast with a Nazir for a thousand years who goes straight for a thousand years [or however long he lasts] as a Nazir without ever shaving. Even though we KNOW that he will not live a thousand years [so he should be no different than a person who took upon himself a vow of Nezirus forever], nevertheless, there is a qualitative difference between his Nezirus and that of the person who accepted upon himself Nezirus forever. Thus, they have different halachos.

[המדות לחקר ההלכה חלק ב' עמ' שכ"ט]

לזכות ר' שמואל צבי בן ר' דוד עקיבא לברכה והצלחה בכל מעשי ידיו, הוא וכל הנלוים עליו

In Living Color:-)

At the behest of my friends, I have started to post short video shiurim, here is the first:-). I thank my Skype chavrusa, R' Aharon Yisrael ben R' Moshe Mordechai with whom I learned this gemara. I also thank my beloved daughter who owns a digital camera and recorded this. I don't own a cell phone [you know, you can save a lot of money by not having a phone... Do I think like a poor person?:-)] or any other device that would enable me to video anything nor do I know how. Thank G-d for my daughter. I have a few other reasons that I am grateful I have her:-).

 If people watched and want more - tell me. Please don't tell me though, how great I was. I am trying to keep a level head. All of this publicity might send me out of my equilibrium.... Just trying to spread TOIRAHHH!:-)  

Anything To Sell Papers

About the murder of Mr. Stark, the press coverage and the lessons learned, here.

I will add that the New York Post is a sensationalist, pornographic, beneath contempt newspaper and it is shameful that any frum Jew should ever read it. I am not really upset that they spoke so negatively of the murder victim after his death [except for the pain it caused his family and friends]. They have one objective - to sell papers. They will write anything they can in order to reach this objective. I don't expect much more from them. Would you like that the Chofetz Chaim be their guiding light??

I see how low some frum Jews will sink to make money [there are some genuinely religious Jews who are models of honesty], so I certainly don't expect more from goyim.

It is not only a question of dishonesty in our communities, there is a much more basic issue at hand. Everybody will say that it is wrong to steal. The problem is the way people relate to money and how it trumps religious obligations [such as learning] impinges on family life [because of the endless hours people work in order to make a living], causes strife between couples and makes people awwwwfulllly arrogant.

הצילני מדמים אלוהים - Save me from making money my god, cried Dovid Hamelech in tehillim. אלהי כסף ואלהי זהב לא תעשו לכם - Don't make gold and silver your gods, we read in this weeks parsha.

It is an obsession that people have and, frankly, makes people crazy. I have written this on many occasions in the past and will write it again now.


So if you are fortunate enough to have it [I know many people who aren't], be generous, use it for good things and always remember where it came from.....

Who Pays For The Broken Elevator?

Let's sit on a Beis Din together....:-)


A resident in an apartment building put a heavy machine in the elevator that was beyond the permitted weight for this elevator. Because of his negligence, the elevator was slightly damaged. Some time later, another resident did the same but this time the elevator was completely broken. The neighbors are suing the second person to fix the elevator and he in turn is suing the first person to pay his part in the damage, because he claims that it was the other fellow's fault as well. What is the din?


The first person must pay for the amount of damage he caused. The second person pays for the rest. Tosfos in Bava Kamma [51a D.H. Ha-acharon] say that if one person dug a pit 8 tfachim deep and a second person dug another tefach, they are partners in the damage. The Shulchan Aruch rules that each pay proportionately to the amount of damage he caused.

This should not be compared to the law explicated by the Rambam [Chovel U'mazik 6/ 14] and the Shulchan Aruch [383/4] that if 5 people each placed a burden on an animal and then after a sixth person came along and placed his burden on the animal it died, if we don't know if the animal would have died even if the sixth person had not come along or it died because of the added burden, the halacha is that they all pay equally. In that instance the death of the animal might have been caused by all of them as a unit, thus, they all pay an equal share. Here, the damage was already caused by the first person before the second person came around and he was already chayav for the damage he caused. Afterwards, the second person broke it and has to pay the rest.
[ספר משפטי התורה עמ' רס"א-רס"ב]

לזכות אורה יפה בת חי' מינדל לברכה והצלחה בכל מעשי ידיה

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ones In Bal Ti-acher

We recently discussed the opinion of the author of the Sefer Ha-aguda who maintains that an אונס ביום האחרון is not a valid אונס. His proof was from the mishna at the end of Arachin. The halacha is that a person who sells his home in a city that was walled from the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun has one year in which he has the right to redeem it  and after which he can no longer do so. When the buyers saw that it was the last day of the year they would hide so that the seller wouldn't be able to find them and they would be able to keep the house forever. Hillel made a decree that the seller could avoid this problem and having to get the FBI involved to find the buyer by simply putting the money in a special chamber and thereby redeem his former home. Asks the Aguda - Why was this decree necessary?? Since he was אנוס in his inability to redeem his home, it should remain his even without a special decree.

AAAHHHH!!!! From here we see that an אונס on the last day is not considered a valid  אונס. Thus, if not for the decree, the house would remain the buyer's.

Rav Amiel [המדות ח"ב עמ' שלב all of the forthcoming is obviously based on my understanding which may be erred - see there for yourself] claims that the Aguda would agree that in the case of בל תאחר [not bringing a korban within 3 regalim] an אונס on the last day would be considered a valid claim of אונס. The reason for this is that in the case of redeeming the home, the reason it becomes the permanent property of the buyer after a year is because the seller refrained from redeeming the field an entire year. How can you claim אונס when you had an entire year [until the אונס at the tail end] to do something?!

In contrast, the prohibition of בל תאחר is only transgressed at the last second of the third regel. The fact that he had the opportunity to bring the korban all year doesn't interest us. What matters is that the aveirah is only being committed at this last second. Since he was אונס at that time, he is off the hook. When a field becomes the seller's permanent property after the year it is NOT because it wasn't redeemed by the seller at the last second of the year but because it was not redeemed by the seller for the entire year. In such an instance the claim of אונס at the last minute is not valid.
I believe that Rav Chaim [who we mentioned in the last post] would dispute this assertion. As we said, according to Rav Chaim, there are two types of conditions relating to time. One is where the time frame is just a "book-end" to perform the act. The act must be performed once within that time period, from beginning to end. The other is where the time is part and parcel of the condition and applies every second during the duration of that time frame. In the former instance an אונס at the last second is not considered an אונס because the person had so much time to do the act and shouldn't have waited until the last minute. In the latter instance, since the time frame was part and parcel of the condition and applied every second, if there is an אונס even during the last second, one may claim אונס. The case cited by the Aguda is an example of where the time frame is merely a book-end, circumscribing the time in which the house must be redeemed. Thus, even if there is an אונס on the last day, since he had so much time beforehand to redeem the house, the seller is not considered אונס. So, too, in the case where he made a neder to do something within a certain time period and experienced אונס. [In the case of the get, however, he is essentially saying "If I don't come back every second of the next twelve months then the get should be valid" and we see that there was a time when he desired to return but was prevented from doing so, we rule that the condition was not fulfilled [as he can claim אונס] and the get is invalid.]

It would seem that בל תאחר is in the same category as the house and neder case. He has a book-end of 3 regalim to bring this korban. It is not an act that relates to every second of the year but a one time act. He had all year to do it and not doing it is negligence on is part. The fact that at the last second an אונס occurred is no excuse. R' Amiel's argument is that בל תאחר is a din that applies not to the whole year but only to the last second of the three regalim and therefore an אונס claim would be accepted.
See Minchas Chinuch מצוה תקע"ה and Gvuros Yitzchak of Rav Y. Sorotzkin Rosh Hashana P. 10 .

לרפואת אורה יפה בת חיה מינדל ברכה והצלחה וכל טוב סלה