Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why I Like "Lou Gehrigs Disease"?

Because it makes EVERY OTHER PROBLEM anyone may have, pale in comparison.....


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit."

Keeping Your Word

[Warning - If you don't like hearing shtark mussar  - please don't read...:-)]

The Nazir,  Rav Dovid Cohen, made a vow after the 1948 war. He swore never to leave his house until the Kotel is back in Jewish hands [from 1948 until 1967 Jews were not allowed to go to the Kotel]. He kept the vow, of course. He didn't leave his house for 19 years!!

There are two great lessons here. One is the sensitivity he had towards the Kedusha of the Kotel. He denied himself the basic comfort of going anywhere because he felt the צער השכינה. The other lesson is that he kept his word despite the extreme difficulty and inconvenience.

In our times [not to say it didn't exist in the past..] there is an extremely disturbing phenomenon - people who are not honest. Despite the fact that every culture and society values honestly as a primary value - it is still very common to see dishonesty. I refer not only to people who cheat the government, launder money or engage in other illegal activity, but plain old making promises and not keeping them. For example - anyone who works in fundraising will tell you how many people make pledges and don't follow through. I myself have personally witnessed many instances of seemingly honest people saying things, making promises and pledges and then not following through. I am flabbergasted that someone can say something, create trust and reliance, and then go on as if nothing happened.

I once had a friend who ran a very important organization that saved lives. He was once in America and asked to give chizuk to a community who had recently witnessed the tragic passing of a child. He declined to speak but said that there is a gemara that says that as a punishment for making pledges and not fulfilling them, children die [Shabbos 32]. You guys, he said, are CHAMPIONS at that. This was a very wealthy community but it doesn't matter - people feel better when they promise to give but when it comes time to "put their money where their mouth is" they mysteriously disappear.

The Ran in Nedarim [9a] says [to put it in modern terms] that a tzadik never says "I will send you a check in the mail" if he is approached and has his checkbook handy. He writes out the check immediately. A rasha says - send me an envelope.... He doesn't have his own envelopes??? No. It is his way of pushing off the anguish of having to give away his hard earned money and possibly - quite often - not giving at all. It is not pleasant to ignore someone standing in front of you but easy to ignore an inanimate envelope [same applies to the masses who ignore emails - even personal one's from friends].

An common occurrence - people sign up to learn mishnayos for a niftar and don't learn them. How many times I have been approached with the following query "I signed up to learn all of maseches negaim by the shloshim and I haven't started but the shloshim ends tomorrow...." Saying you are going to learn something has  the halachic status of a neder. Not keeping a neder is a very very severe offense.

The entire basis of Kabbalas HaTorah was honesty. We "swore" to Hashem that we would keep the Torah [מושבע ועומד מהר סיני]. But what obligates us to keep the oath? The Torah? The Torah only obligates us AFTER the oath but what is the basis for the oath itself? The answer is - the basic universal middah of emes [see a lovely essay on this in the sefer Ishei Yovel].

As we approach Matan Torah let us strengthen ourselves in the middah of emes:-).

לרפואת מרת הענא מרים בת חנה בתוך שח"י

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Obligation To Visit One's Rebbi On The Regel

The gemara in Rosh Hashana says that one is obligated to visit one's Rebbi on Yom Tov. There is a difference of opinion as to whether this applies nowadays after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. The Noda Biyehuda famously claims that it doesn't. Why not? Because we can only visit our Rabbeim three times a year if we are also visiting the Beis Hamikdash. If there is no Beis Hamikdash, it is not proper to give a Rebbi more kavod than Hashem.
We see that the Nodah Biyehuda learns that the mitzva of visiting one's Rebbi is related to the regalim and since there is no aliya la-regel there is also no mitzva of visiting one's Rebbe.

This understanding seems to fly in the face of the gemara. The source for the obligation is the husband of the Isha Hashunamis saying "Why are you going to the Rebbi today - it is neither Rosh Chodesh nor Shabbos". From here we see that normally one visits one's Rebbi on the regel. All of the meforshim wonder - how does the gemara prove that there is a mitzva to visit on the regel when the pasuk says that she would normally visit on Rosh Chodesh or Shabbos??

There are many explanations. One is that it depends on one's proximity to the Rebbi. The closer one lives the greater the frequency of the visits. Only those who live the most distantly are obligated to come only on the regel. There are numerous other explanations. [There is a shiur here. Pilei Plaos.] The common denominator of all of the explanations is that the obligation does not depend on the "shem regel" as the Noda Biyehuda understood.
Vi-tzareech iyun....

[Based on the Marbeh Zikaron Simman 47]

לרפורת שרה חאנטשה בת אהבה נחמה בתוך שח"י

Revoking The Evil Decree

The gemara in Rosh Hashana says that a decree against an individual can only be revoked during the aseres yemei tshuva [as the daf yomi learners know]. How then do we understand the gemara in Brachos where Yeshayahu told Chizkiyahu that he is going to die and Chizkiyahu answered that he has a tradition that no matter what, an evil decree can be revoked. Doesn't he know the gemara in Rosh Hashana that this only applies to a decree against the tzibbur but a decree against an individual cannot be revoked unless it is during the aseres yemei tshuva? [It is not likely to explain the gemara in Brachos as having transpired during the aseres yemei tshuva as the implication is that one can ALWAYS change an evil decree. The Turei Even offers an answer but it is contradicted by a few gemaras....] 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

“Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

-John Wooden

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dr. Yoram Bental z"l

[He was the friend of a friend]
From Hamodia....

 Dr. Yoram Bental, who as longtime director of the Laniado Hospital’s neonatal intensive-care unit, built the Sanz-Klausenburger Rebbe’s dream of a world-class hospital in Netanya into a reality, was niftar on Friday after a long illness, his life changed by the hospital as much as he changed it. He was 60.

“He was one of a kind,” Rabbi Aharon Yeshaya Spitzer, a Laniado trustee, told Hamodia on Sunday. “You only had to tell him once and he pursued it to the end.”

Rabbi Spitzer emphasized that besides for Dr. Bental’s reputation as a top-notch doctor, he was also a tremendous talmid chacham, who utilized all his spare time for learning Torah.

In an interview with Hamodia three years ago, Dr. Bental said that the first he heard of Klausenburg was in 1994, when as a secular doctor he was on his way to work when he passed a convoy of hundreds of cars. It was the levayah of Harav Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam, zt”l, the Rebbe whose miraculous survival from the Holocaust inspired him to create a life-giving hospital.
Dr. Bental came from a family of physicians. His father, Professor Ephraim Bental, arrived in Israel from Germany with his father, also a neurosurgeon, in 1933. Now 89-years-old, he is the former head of the neurology departments in two hospitals in Haifa.
Dr. Bental himself held a promising career by the mid-1990s, working in Haifa’s Carmel Hospital and serving as president of Israel’s Neonatology Association. But as he drew closer to Yiddishkeit, he consulted with Harav Yitzchak Zilberstein about where to pursue his career.
Harav Zilberstein advised him to go to Laniado. So although he never moved to Netanya, and never counted himself a Chassid, he applied for the position and was accepted.
For 13 years, Dr. Bental would make the hour-long commute two or three times a week; the other days, with all his children married, he would sleep in his office.
Dr. Bental’s expertise was quickly noticed by women, both local and overseas. By 2007, seven years after his arrival at the hospital, they were catering to patients from across the state — including 40 percent of whom are non-religious. Laniado has about 7,000 deliveries a year.
However, Dr. Bental ascribed all credit to others, insisting that credit goes to the head nurse who was devoted, the hospital director who took personal care, the Rebbe’s blessings, the willingness of staff to work overtime, to volunteer for extra work.
But he forgot to mention himself. That came from others. They talked of the devotion with which Dr. Bental went about his job, the way he stood with the families of the patients through their triumphs and disappointments.
Dr. Bental was diagnosed with cancer a while back, but he didn’t want to worry his friends so he sought treatment outside of Laniado. He would still come in regularly to check up on his patients, until several months ago, when he was no longer able to do so.
He was niftar on Friday morning; his levayah in Netanya drew huge crowds.
Dr. Bental is survived by his parents, wife, five children and about 20 grandchildren.
When he was asked how he felt, as a third- generation doctor, that his two sons and three sons-in-law were all learning in kollel, he had an immediate response.
“What do I say?” he asked. “Talmud Torah k’neged kulam.”
Yehi zichro baruch.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chein, Chesed And Rachamim

What is the idea behind the triple lashon in bentching, namely, that Hashem gives us food בחן בחסד וברחמים?

Explains the Maharal [Nesivos Olam Nesiv Ha-avoda chapter 18]: It is referring to the three categories of people. Tzadikim, mediocre people and evil people.

Tzadikim find חן - favor and grace in Hashem's eyes, as it says "ונח מצא חן בעיני השם" - Noach found favor [חן] in Hashem's eyes. Their parnassa is with חן.

Next comes the mediocre people. Their parnassa comes with chesed. They don't really deserve it but Hashem does a chesed and gives them anyway.

Then come the reshaim. Oyyyyy nebuch!!! What does a rasha have in his life. Hamburgers? The daily newspaper? A hot shower? He sleeps till 12 on Sunday mornings? Nebuch! So empty. He never enjoys dancing during a lecha dodi, singing ko echsof, learning a daf gemara with Tosfos or Parsha with the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh  Neeeebuucchhh!! He is sustained by Hashem with רחמים - mercy.

בחן בחסד וברחמים - צדיקים בינוניים ורשעים.

We continue - הוא נותן לחם לכל בשר כי לעולם חסדו. Lechem, the staple food, symbolizes our very existence. Hashem is filled with chesed and gives ALL of his creation existence with his eternal, everlasting chesed. כי לעולם חסדו.

לרפואת שרה חאנטשה בת אהבה נחמה בתוך שח"י.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It Costs

From R' Aviner:

Conversation between a father and son:
 "Abba, how much did Imma cost you?"

 "I don't remember! But I am still paying every day…
This is correct. Marriage requires constant effort from both members of the couple. They therefore begin with a down payment: Behold you are betrothed to me with this ring – which must be worth a "perutah" (a minimal amount of money). And one must fulfill, throughout life, what is written in the Ketubah: to feed, cherish, love, etc…
To what is this similar? To an advertisement which boasts of an inexpensive product, but with major payments written in small letters. Similarly, the betrothal is just a "perutah" but the Ketubah contains lengthy payments.
Perhaps you will say that an ongoing payment can be cumbersome. Just the opposite is true! If you exert effort for someone, you will love him or her even more. A general rule of the world is nothing really good is free, and all the more so for the deep connection of marriage.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Shtark mussar!!! Here.
If you work hard, you can overcome [BS"D] ANYTHING.

Two Diyukim in Bentching

לרפואת שרה חאנטשה בת אהבה נחמה

Re the previous post that occured to me during my nauseating journey on the 133 bus home tonight: In the first of the Aseres Hadibros, it says אנכי וכו' אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים מבית עבדים. In our bentching we say ועל שהוצאתנו השם א-להנו מארץ מצרים ופדיתנו מבית עבדים - Why do we add ופדיתנו? Is the terminology of Hashem not good enough?

And why is Mitzrayim called a בית" עבדים" ? Is Mitzrayim a house??


Re this post - an aquaintance of mine [who delights in sending me anti-Torah anti-Rabbonim material so that I too will fall in the category of those who say מאי אהני לן רבנן and be מאבד my חלק לעולם הבא ח"ו - see Sanhedrin 99a:-)] sent me an article from a newspaper that the Rabbi retracted and apologized.

Yetzias Mitzrayim In Bentching

לרפאות שרה חאנטשא בת אהבה נחמה

In our bentching we apparently repeat the same idea - ועל שהוצאתנו השם א-להנו מארץ מצרים ופדיתנו מבית עבדים - We thank Hashem for taking us out of Egypt and redeeming us from the house of slavery. Why the repetition?

Egypt is a physical place but not one where we would want to be. We are very thankful that we are no longer there. When we were there we suffered great physical and spiritual anguish being enslaved by the evil, cruel and idolatrous Egyptians. So first we thank Hashem for not being in the physical Egypt and then thank Him for not being enslaved. [עי' שפת אמת וארא תרל"א ובאר משה לצדיק מאוז'ורוב זצ"ל שמות עמ' שלג-ד].

The more we appreciate Hashem's kindness in taking us out, the more we can serve Him with joy.

What is interesting is that the gemara NEVER MENTIONS that we must mention yetzis mitzraim in bentching! In fact, Rav Amram Gaon, in his siddur found in the Cairo Geniza, omits any mention of it. The Magen Avraham [סימן קצ"ב] also omits it. Some suggest that since in vidui bikkurim, where we thank Hashem for the fruits, we thank Hashm for yetzias mitzraim, we also mention it here. [עי' בס' ברכת דוד עמ' קמ"א].

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Meaning Of Life

"Is there some meaning to this life?
What purpose lies behind the strife?
Whence do we come, where are we bound?
These cold questions echo and resound
through each day, each lonely night.
We long to find the splendid light
that will cast a revelatory beam
upon the meaning of the human dream.

Courage, love, friendship,
compassion, and empathy
lift us above the simple beasts
and define humanity."

Book of Collected Sorrows

Bloodthirsty Or Misrepresented? Black Is Beautiful:-)

I received two consecutive emails within minutes of each other in what will be much talked about for the next few days - primarily because people aren't busy enough learning Torah.... When you are areingetun [wrapped up] in sugyos hashas, you just don't have time for these things. So here is a call to all of my sweetest friends to try to increase their immersion in Toras Hashem leaving them no time for current events. Yeshiva Buchrim, baalei batim etc. it doesn't matter. Torah is for everyone. [You may see here for more chizzuk in this area].

Now on to the hot topic. EXCITING!! CONTROVERSY!!!!

I copy from a piece on a website written by someone who - for various reasons - has a heavy bias against Charedim:

One of the most popular maggidei shiurim in the Mir Yeshivah is Rav ---- -----. I used to know him, and I always found him to be a very nice and down-to-earth person. Over at Torah Musings, R. Joel Rich posted a link to a recording of a lecture that Rav ----- gave. R. Joel introduced the link by describing it as "A must listen for those who think that the reports of Chareidi Yeshivot/chinuch antipathy towards the government of Israel is overstated." Indeed. In the lecture, Rav ----- reports the view of Rav Steinman, widely considered the leader of the Litvishe charedi world (except by those who find him too moderate). Starting at 36:50, Rav ----- says as follows:
On Shabbos I spoke to my kids, and I said that Rav Steinman spoke that lemayseh, we have today Haman and Amalek, all this [Israeli] government, and really the way is to take knives and to kill them, just as with the Yevanim. This is what Rav Steinman said. You have to take a sword and to kill them. So why are we not doing it? Because, he said, I don't know yet who is the [suitable replacement] general who could run the war. But if I would know who's the general, we'd go out with knives. This is what Rav Steinman said. There's a war against religion... I explained this to my kids... then, in the middle of the meal, my kid, five years old, says, "Aba, we don't have a sword in the house, I'm looking... maybe a hammer is also good?" I was very happy, I gave him a kiss... I was so proud of my son, he's looking for a sword to kill all these government ministers... 

End quote.

Firstly - perspective. No Charedi EVER kills anybody. No Charedi killed Shulamit Aloni, Tommy Lapid, Yossi Sarid etc. etc. all avowed, outspoken enemies of Torah and Judaism. If there are a very small number of Charedim in jail for violent crimes it is because they are mentally imbalanced but not as a result of their Charedi education. [The assassin of Yitzchak Rabin was not a product of a Charedi yeshiva and didn't act with rabbinic approval].  If you go to any yeshiva, the mussar shmuesen are about increasing Ahavas Yisrael and the sfarim learned are replete with sources imploring every Jew to try to bring others back to teshuva with love, that there is hope for every Jewish soul etc. etc. If you watch youtube videos from mosques you will see their religous leaders exhorting the masses to kill and maim innocent Jews. If you go to ANY shul not only do they not talk about killing fellow Jews but frankly, there is not even talk of killing Arabs. We are not a killing people. Historically, we have always been the victims and not the aggressors. [There are exceptions which would require much explanation]. Even the IDF is the Israeli "Defense" Forces. We don't WANT an army!! Army is bi-dieved. We need it for protection but if only we didn't have so many enemies from whom to protect ourselves.

A Charedi wants one thing - to sit and learn Torah and to serve Hashem with simcha. The Rambam says that we don't want Moshiach to come in order to take revenge against our enemies! We have no such mitzvos. We want Moshiach so that we can finally serve Hashem in peace [and me personally to solve my financial woes...:-)]. We hate Nazis but revenge is for Hashem - אל נקמות השם. The pasuk says ורחמיו על כל מעשיו - Hashem has mercy for ALL of his creations and so must we. The Baal Hatanya says that even the reshaim whom we must hate - the hatred isn't complete. We hate the evil within them and we love the good.

There is a famous gemara that Rebbe Meir davened that some reshaim should die [note: he davened but didn't touch them] and his wife Bruria [named after the school] proved from a pasuk that we must pray instead that they do tshuva and not that they die. This is a gemara that everybody knows.

The many Charedi organizations that are devoted to chesed will perform the chesed for religious and secular alike. The average Charedi is not interested in "killing" anybody. It is not on his radar. I live amongst Charedim and have been for over 25 years and despite their human failings [as all people have], they are very far from being violent people [besides a few imbalanced hotheads - but why talk about the exceptions]. Every day thousands of thousands of immodestly dressed women pass by Charedim and 99.99999999 percent of the time they do and say nothing - despite the religious offense they [and I] take. The 0.00000000001 percent of the times that a Charedi reacts violently makes it to the newspapers.

In yeshivos there is no violence [unlike secular schools in Israel]. The only wars are "wars" of Torah.

I don't know what Rav Shteinman really said but it is veeeeryyy hard to believe that he really means that we should kill the government ministers. If he did, he wouldn't say "We don't have a general to lead the war, so we can't kill them." If the halacha is to kill them, we don't look for generals. Who needs a general to kill a handful of government ministers? It is clear to me that if I would go to Bnei Brak with a machine gun, and go to Rav Shteinman's house and say "Rebbi - I am going to the Knesset now and in order to fulfill the psak of the Rosh Yeshiva [i.e. Rav Shteinman], I am going to open fire against the anti-religious ministers", I am convinced he would call me a meshugene [and he would be right].

The language used in the religious world is often extreme. The sfarim talk about how every person has Amalek in them. Does that really mean we should kill them?? The answer is that he is not REALLLYYY Amalek. Even if he was, we wouldn't be allowed to kill another person besides the Amalek, there is also a great deal of good [only Amalek is pure Amalek]. Even secular people have good in them. He can't really mean it. [ומפורסם בחזון איש ועוד פוסקים שכל המושג של מורידין ולא מעלין לגבי פושעי ישראל אינו שייך בזמן הזה].

IF he does really mean it [despite my serious reservations], then his opinion is not accepted. No Charedi newspaper [even the most extreme] preaches murder against the enemies of Torah. No Rosh Yeshiva is telling his talmidim - "Boys - no seder today. We are going to the Knesset to liquidate the enemies of Torah. מי לה' אלי!!" NOBODY is saying that.

What Charedim ARE doing is davening a lot that they should be able to continue their lifestyle with financial security. Many Charedim learned extra over bein hazmanim as a zchus. But killing the bad guys?? Chas Vi-shalom.

I do think that the Rabbi from the Mir exercised poor judgement [at least he exercised. Many Charedim don't exercise enough] by publicly saying what he said. Bad public relations [even if he believed it to be true]. In general, Charedim suffer from bad PR. They are really very very fine people, filled with Torah and goodness. They educate their children to have good middos and that is far more important to them than financial success.

Read any Artscroll biography and you see that the heroes are the loving, sensitive, caring people. Whether all the stories told are true is less relevant than the fact that the stories told are about acts of kindness and not, chas vi-shalom, violence or enmity. It shows what they believe in.

To summarize: Either Rav Shteinman didn't mean it literally and if he did it is not the prevalent opinion in the Charedi world. Even though he is one of the leaders of the Litvishe world - in this matter his opinion [if that is his opinion] is not accepted.

Please sweetest friends - I am zoche to be close to someone whom I consider a tzadik gamur. I know so many things about him personally that I witnessed with my own eyes or heard first hand that nobody has ever even MADE UP about other people, they are so unbelievable. There are other tzadikim in Klal Yisrael as well, filled with love, light and compassion, ready to help anyone in any way. Get close to such people. Reading "rationalist Judaism" type blogs might make you more of a rationalist but it will also make you bitter and suspicious of holy people. The imperfections are accentuated and all of the pure and holy are absent. I can tell you first hand - the Charedim are generally good people. To portray them as violent is a gross misrepresentation [my great grandparents' family name was "Gross" so I know what I am talking about]. Their leaders have always been beyond good. Read about the Chazon Ish and Rav Aryeh Levine [Rav Eliyashiv's father in law] and Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz and the many other luminaries of the recent generations. They are the heroes of the Charedi world.

We are all in mourning for the 24,000 talmidim of Rebbe Akiva who dies not because they were "mean" to each other but because they didn't show each other the proper respect. Let us stop looking at what is wrong with everybody else and fix ourselves. The world will be a much better place as a result.

Love and blessings:-):-)!

PS - You may spread this if you think it beneficial.   

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We Don't Live On An Island

Yesterday we spoke about accountability. Continuing the thought....

Something that bothers me. People [I refer specifically to "our" people] sometimes commit crimes and they get caught and are punished. But there is more..... Their families suffer. They suffer greatly. Do they think of this in their greed?

There is a girl in my daughter's class whose [bearded, peyosed] father is going to the slammer for a few years. I don't know if he is really guilty. I wasn't there and didn't follow the case. But a general comment: When someone IS guilty it is a scandal that a person commits crime and afflicts suffering upon his innocent family members.

There is a well known institution [everyone reading this either went there or has family members who did] that is going through terrible financial difficulties and is under the threat of closing. One explanation given for some of the problems is that many years back two of the teachers abused the students and due to the terrible press after the story broke last year, there are having trouble raising money. I don't know if that is really the reason. But this I know - the actions of two people 30 years back can bring a whole institution down.

Even for us more simple people who don't steal government funds or accept or offer bribes, there is a lesson. Our actions affect others. We don't live on an island.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Everybody Accountable

A previous Prime Minister of the State of Israel, a storied warrior and illustrious politician, lay motionless for YEARS as a vegetable until him time was officially up and he was placed in the ground. א-ל מלא רחמים time...

Now, another former Prime Minister who lived in the fancy quarters that were worthy of world leaders, who met with heads of state, who was constantly looked upon for leadership and guidance, is going to spend the coming years as a simple prison inmate performing menial labor.

That is what the wisest of all men meant when he said כי לא לעולם חוסן - Strength lasts not forever [Mishlei 27/ 24 and see Sanhedrin 7b]. There is a din vi-cheshbon and nobody is above it. It usually happens in this world but always happens in the next. Rich, poor, middle class, famous, infamous, bearded, clean-shaven, black-hatted, yankees cap, big kippah, small kippah, long skirt, shorter skirt, pants etc. etc. Jew, non-jew - EVERYBODY is accountable for their actions.

For me this is an extremely powerful lesson....:-).

לזכות מרת הענא מרים בת חנה לבריאות איתנה!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014



A Blessing Of Abundance

Apologies to the many who come to the blog and noticed that nothing has been added recently. It is not for lack of Torah to share but rather because I am trying to focus my energies and efforts on my learning and finding some sort of parnassa. Im ein kemach - ain blog.... I would love to just continue learning but the supermarket won't give me food in exchange for divrei Torah. They want the "M" word...

May Hashem always provide for you and your family with great abundance.

I will hopefully start posting again soon:-).

Thursday, May 1, 2014


From my archives....
At the end Parshat Emor we read about the blasphemer. OYYY VEYYY!

The Torah teaches us that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. This is because of the law of gravity - otherwise the apple would fly away and not fall down to the ground. His mother was a Jewish woman but his father was an Egyptian and that means foul play. His mother's name was "Shlomit Bat Divree". Rashi explains that she was a big talker. "דברי" meaning "talker". What would she say? She would say "שלום" - hence the name שלומית. She would say hello to EVERYBODY. She would inquire about their well being "?מה שלומך"

Now when I read this Rashi I think "What's wrong with that?" The gemara says that Rav Yochanan would do the same thing and the understands his actions as acts of tzidkut. Boaz [from מגילת רות] made a special decree allowing [and encouraging us] to use Hashem's name [שלום is the name of Hashem] to greet our friends. So why are we critical of שלומית?

Here we get to an important point I heard from the Rebbe Shlita. Some people ask how their friends are doing out of genuine concern and that is indeed admirable. But others are just yentas and they want to stick their noses in other people's business. Shlomit didn't really CARE about other people and her motivations in inquiring about their welfare were less than pure. She was using the holy word of "Shalom" for less than holy purposes. That ultimately led her to having an Egyptian father for her child and his ignominious behavior of blaspheming the holy name of G-d. We see from here the impact of a parent on a child.

May we all genuinely care about each other and not just ask the perfunctory "How're ya doing".

Love and blessings:-).


From an Alcoholics anon. book:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

New Shiur

Third shiur on hafkaas kiddushin here.
The shitah of Rashi's Rabbeim!

The Ten Plagues Of Facebook

[Rav Shlomo Aviner, Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Pinchas 5770 – translated by R. Blumberg]

1. Face Worship. Facebook, the Book of Faces, could have been a blessed endeavor, strengthening family and social relations with the help of a social network. Unfortunately, however, it is a monster that has attacked its creator and become an impediment with its worship of faces. Man is not a face but a soul, which is revealed through its good character and good deeds, not through outer appearance, or through various artificial shows that one puts on for the sake of photo-ops. “Grace is false and beauty is vain, but the woman who fears Hashem – she shall be praised” (Mishlei 31:30). One time our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, was invited to an exhibition devoted to his father, Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook. He said, “People will see his books and his pictures there, but they won’t see his fear of G-d there. I’ve got no business going.” How the soul suffers, seeing itself shoved into a corner, alone and scorned – and the individual being judged by his picture.

2. Exposure. A person has to be humble and modest, and not to expose personal details for all to see. The Jewish People are humble. A Jew does not have to be so extroverted, to reveal his personality and emotions to all, but only to his true friends. One time, Prime Minister Golda Meir was interviewed following the Yom Kippur War, and at the end was asked: “What do you feel personally?” She answered, “What I feel personally, is personal.” A person has to be a bit introverted. Moshe placed a veil over his face. Likewise, one should not peek with curiosity into the lives of others, and certainly not into the pictures of women, all the more so if they are immodest.

3. Advertisements. Facebook is sponsored by advertisements, some of which are disgusting, full of offensive language and sexual immodesty, provoking people to commit acts that are base, coarse and forbidden.

4. Crime. Since the information is out in the public domain and available to all, all sorts of unsavory people take advantage of it for evil: identity theft for the sake of extorting monetary contributions; for convincing people to come to rendezvous where they will be robbed; as well as the use made by various types of sexual perverts; for sending junk mail, and for racist groups that encourage hatred.

5. Addiction. Facebook is the fifth biggest cause of addiction in the world. 400 million people in the world are addicted to it, and 2.5 million in Israel use Facebook. 75% of youth are regular users. Facebook addicts can spend 4-5 hours a day on it.

6. Loss of time. Time is one of the most precious things in life. A person thinks he isgoing into Facebook for a moment, and he may be stuck there for long hours.

7. Superficiality. It’s all so shallow, so full of nonsense. People pursue that nonsense, and wallow in it. Pictures and videos, talkbacks and cheap blogs, and blogs responding to blogs. People engage there in superficial discourse, in nonsense, emptiness and shallowness, and they become shallow themselves. It’s a vicious cycle, and it gets worse.

8. Exhibitionism. A person develops a longing to be seen by others, to share glances and find favor in the eyes of imaginary, virtual friends. He constantly updates his personal profile in order to increase his popularity. He strikes an alluring pose and has his picture taken in order to draw attention to himself. He becomes enslaved to finding favor in the eyes of others, and to being seen by them.

9. Disintegration. Time disintegrates. Life disintegrates into grayish nonsense. One’s personality disintegrates. True, quality friendships disintegrate into virtual friendships.

10. Loss of friendship. Friendship is something vital to a person. Friendship or death! Loneliness is an awful sort of wretchedness. Therefore, one is supposed to acquire for himself a friend (Avot). Facebook instead supplies addiction to a shallow kind of socializing, engulfed in meaningless excitement, in virtual friendship. Pictures no longer reflect life. They have become the essence of life. It is the end of friendship. Facebook is a social network devoid of friendship, because a true friend is like a war buddy – someone ready in every situation to offer help and support. Certainly social connections are good, but that’s not a real bond, but the destruction of the concept of friendship. Facebook also leads to the disintegration of the family. 20% of divorces are because of Facebook and the corrupt chats that go on there. True friendship is face to face, not face to screen or screen to face. Therefore, please harness all your courage and cancel your membership in Facebook. Be brave! At first you will have 4-5 days of feeling dazed, but after that you will feel wonderful pleasure and supreme freedom.

So True

A beloved friend sent me this - mussar from the PM, here.

Ahhhh Movies!

The Jews only served idols to permit "arayos bi-farhesia" [Gemara Sanhedrin 63]. It was all a ploy. Man's greatest urge. Gotta learn to contain it.

From my archives....

From [slightly edited].

The truth is I haven't seen a movie in the last five years, and that was for only a minute. Even though I graduated from film school and wrote screenplays in Hollywood, and still make short videos from time to time on subjects like Gush Katif and Amona, after becoming a ba'al t'shuvah, I gradually lost all desire for the make-believe world of the movies.

But five years ago, my wife had an urge to see a movie, and she insisted that I take her.

"Go with a friend," I suggested.

"I don't want to go with a friend," she answered. "I want to go see a film with my husband."

I offered to rent a video that she could watch on the computer. But she was adamant. Either we go to a movie together or we get a divorce. Of course, I am exaggerating, but she made me understand that if I didn't give in, I was going to be in for a lot of trouble.

So, I went downstairs in our building to my parents' apartment to take a look at the Jerusalem Post movie guide. Finally, I found a movie that seemed alright. The blurb said that it was based on a true story about an aging British novelist, Iris Murdoch, who had Alzheimer's disease. How immodest could that be, I thought? Since my mother suffered from Alzheimer's, I figured maybe I could learn something about the disease and, at the same time, make my wife happy.
At the ticket window, I asked if there were commercials before the film, since commercials in Israel are usually filled with models who are not exactly dressed according to the standards of Jewish Law. After being assured that there were no commercials at this theater, we bought tickets and made our way inside. Indeed, there were no commercials, but there were previews of upcoming attractions. The first was a new Italian release featuring a half-naked actress.
"Gevalt!" I yelled out.

Heads turned our way in the darkened theater. My wife tugged at my arm. "Don't you dare!" she whispered.

The next preview was even worse.

"Gevalt!" I screamed out again.

My wife sunk down in her chair as if she wanted to disappear. I heard a scattering of chuckles and someone shouted for me to shut up.

"I told you we should have stayed at home," I said to my wife.

Finally, the movie started. Up on the screen, in poetic slow motion, a pretty young woman walks through the woods, down to the bank of a pond, obviously a flashback to the old woman's youth.

In one deft motion, she reveals her entire self.

Cut to underwater. Still in slow motion, the actress swims through the crystal clear depths....

"Fire! Fire!" I screamed out in Hebrew. Continuing to scream, I jumped out of my seat and made my way to the corridor. "Fire! Fire!" I yelled as I hurried out of the theater, leaving my poor wife to watch the movie alone.

Needless to say, my wife doesn't ask me to take her to films anymore. I waited for her in the car.
"You were right," she said, when she rejoined me after the movie. "Every ten minutes of the film, they returned to the flashback of the old lady as a young woman swimming uncladded

What else is new? After spending several years in Hollywood, you learn that in movie-making, the bottom line is the box-office gross. You can't expect your average moviegoer to sit two hours through a movie about an old lady with Alzheimer's disease without throwing in a little nudity every ten minutes to keep them munching away on their popcorn.

For the same reason, I couldn't watch Schindler's List. Every ten minutes, some Nazi butcher was jumping into bed with a Jewish girl. Spielberg could have gotten the point across without the nudity, but that's what sells tickets.

Think I am exaggerating? Let me give you another example. Several years ago, I was asked to lecture to a group of yeshiva students from South Africa. When they showed up late, I asked what happened. They explained that they had a few free hours, so they went to see a movie, Titanic.

"The Titanic!" I exclaimed. "Seeing a movie like that is worse than eating pork!"

All the guys booed. "The cinematography was great," they proclaimed.

"Since when does great cinematography override the Torah prohibitions of, 'You shall not turn after your hearts and after your eyes to lead you astray,' and 'You shall guard yourself from every evil thing,' meaning you should not look at prohibited matters by day and come to impure emissions at night?" (Avodah Zara 20B; Niddah 13A)

"It's a completely clean movie," one of the students insisted.

"Look, guys," I told them. "I haven't seen the movie, but you don't have to have ruach hakodesh (Divine inspiration) to know that there is bound to be a pretty girl and a good-looking guy on board. Once the ship hits the iceberg, they have to find some way to consummate their passion before the ship sinks into the cold, unloving ocean. Am I right?"

They answered with grumbles.

"Whether you guys like it or not, watching an attractive actress on a movie screen for two hours, and exposing yourselves to that kind of ongoing visual stimulation, is a no-no for a Jew."

A year later, I drove one of my sons to an out-of-town yeshiva for an interview. Finishing late, we decided to spend the night at a hotel, rather than starting out on the long trip back to Jerusalem. "The movie Titanic is playing on cable," my boy informed me. "Can we watch?"

"What the heck?" I figured. Many people had advised me to see the movie, to see all of the wondrous cinematography and special effects, so I agreed to watch a few minutes.

How does the great award-winner start? We are back once again underwater. This time, we are following the point of view of the camera as it is moves toward the sunken ship and enters into a porthole. After a few mysterious turns down empty corridors, we enter an eerily undisturbed cabin. We pass by a large canopy bed and move toward a dresser, zooming in to a screen-filling close-up of a framed photograph of - you guessed it - a girl dressed as Eve before the sin. And this is the movie that almost every Jewish boy in the world, from the age of eight to eighty, has seen who knows how many times.

The point is that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and forbidden images, whether we want to face it or not, pollute a Jew's soul with a terrible impurity.

In his book Kuntres HaAvodah, Rebbe Sholom Dov Ber of Lubavitch, one of the early great rabbis of the Chabad Hassidic movement, writes the following: Everyone who is concerned about his soul, not to pollute it, G-d forbid, should guard over his eyes. And if this is difficult for him, he should endeavor to restrain himself with all of his strength and might. He must take to heart that this matter is instrumental to the well-being of his soul. If he does not guard himself in this matter, then all of his Divine service is accounted as nothing, and all of his achievements are as naught, and his service of G-d will fall lower and lower....

Behold, there are people who are far from actually committing evil deeds, G-d forbid, but their hearts pull them to look and stare [at women]. They gaze with a seemingly cold detachment, and they do not feel any immediate excitement when they look, but the reason for their being attracted is because they experience an inner pleasure.... This gazing, even with seeming detachment, creates an impression and a great stain on the soul, which will not go away without arousing some actual evil in its wake, G-d forbid....

Thus, it is every man's duty to control himself and to guard over the things he sees. In so doing, he will save himself from evil, and his service of G-d will find favor. He will bring salvation to his soul, and he will rise higher and higher. (Kuntres HaAvodah, ch. 2. For an English translation and commentary, see the book Love Like Fire and Water, Moznaim Publishing Corp)

The nation of Israel is called upon to be a holy nation. Just as we have to be careful what we eat, we have to be careful what we see. When a man feasts his eyes on the beauty of another woman, even if just her face, these images poison the purity of the Jewish soul.

New Shiur

Hafkaas Kiddushin here and here!