Sunday, December 31, 2017


Pilei Pla-os. 

[And there is a part two which is also scintillating]. 

Pictures Of Women

I would like to preface by saying that the Torah was not given to angels [actually - the gemara says that. I plagarized:-)]. We are human beings and not expected to exceed our human limitations. If at times we slip - then we do teshuva and our slips are transformed into mitzvos. Hashem loves us and is not looking for us to sin. The foundation of any avodas Hashem is mental health and stability. I don't want anything I ever write to make anyone excessively nervous or tense. We do our best with simcha and serenity. 

That being said....

It is Shovevim time and that behooves us to discuss inyanei kedusha

There is a lot of backlash on the Internet against those religious publications that refuse to publish pictures of women. HOW DEMEANING!!!

Why is it demeaning? Why is it wrong? Because the bloggers say so. 

OK. But what does the HALACHA say?? What do Chazal say? Ask these writers and they either don't know or don't care. 

Rabbeinu Yonah, a very prominent rishon, writes in his אגרת התשובה: 

אסור לאדם להסתכל באשת איש מן התורה שנאמר ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם.

It is forbidden to gaze at a married women according to Torah law as it says "don't stray after your hearts and eyes".

He doesn't write that one is not allowed to look in a lustful way [as others understand and we will hopefully get to them and as he himself writes when he forbids touching] but that one is not allowed to look at all. [His ruling is based on the gemara in Brachos 12].

The gemara in Avoda Zara [20b] says:

"מעשה ברבן שמעון בן גמליאל שהיה על גבי מעלה בהר הבית, וראה עובדת כוכבים אחת נאה ביותר, אמר: מה רבו מעשיך ה'!ואף רבי עקיבא ראה אשת טורנוסרופוס הרשע...
ולאסתכולי מי שרי? מיתיבי: ונשמרת מכל דבר רע - שלא יסתכל אדם באשה נאה ואפילו פנויה, באשת איש ואפילו מכוערת, ולא בבגדי צבע של אשה...
קרן זוית הואי".

In short, the gemara relates that Rav Shimon Ben Gamliel and Rebbi Akiva saw women. The gemara asks HOW IS IT PERMITTED TO LOOK AT A WOMAN??? The gemara says that one may not even look at the attractive clothing of a woman!! 

The gemara should have answered that they had no lustful intentions because they were holy people, so it was OK.. But no - the gemara answers that she walked around the corner and it was TOTALLY unexpected, so it wasn't their fault. 

From this gemara it seems to emerge quite clearly that one may not gaze at a women. [I write "gaze" because many poskim, such as the Rogochover, make a distinction between looking for a moment (ראייה) which may be permitted and gazing intently (הסתכלות) which is not]. ולאיסתכולי מי שרי? - Is it permitted to look?? The gemara asks rhetorically. 

So how can one print pictures of women when men are not allowed to gaze at them?? The fact that it was done in the past is not a justification. And frankly - many women are not offended. Many women don't WANT their pictures printed. Many are happy that their husbands are not looking at other women. It is not intended to offend women. Why would the publishers offend 50 percent of their potential readers? Not wise.

It all depends on your narrative. The feminist narrative is that the Torah, and the men who propound it, are out to oppress women. 


Their "agenda" is [among other things] to create a holy world. 

When one goes to the so-called "kiruv" websites, one who understands these matters gets the sense that while they are being mekarev some, they are being meracheik [distancing] others when they print pictures of young, very attractive women. Did they ask a gadol if it is permitted? Hard to believe that they did.    

When a "beauty queen" like Miss Israel does or says something Jewish, they not only cover the story but make sure to feature a picture of her [I don't look but I see out of the corner of my eye that there is a picture]. WHY? It is shameful. Do they expect men not to have lustful thoughts [which is universally forbidden according to ALL opinions] when seeing a woman who was crowned the most beautiful woman in the country? Do they care??  

They certainly don't care what I say or even read this blog. They get far more hits than I do. They make a living off their websites. I don't [despite my consistent request on the side of the page to help support the site and the proliferation of Torah which is ignored]. But there is din vi-cheshbon and they will have to answer to Hashem for all of the men they were מכשיל. 

So if you are walking down the street you are allowed to watch where you are going. You must look up when crossing the street or driving. You are bound to see women. But ideally? Ideally, one should never look at a woman other than his grandmother, mother, wife and daughters. So when reading a newspaper of magazine that avoids pictures of women, one is able to live the ideal [not that reading a magazine is the ideal but that is another story].  

If you work and have to look at a woman then you do it - but as minimally as possible. This is undisputed. ALL Jewish sources agree that the less contact between the sexes, the better. 

The reason is simple - we are sexual beings with an active nefesh habehemis. Our holy souls are put on mute when encountering attractive women. If we are completely unaffected then it could just be that we have been desensitized to a women's sexuality and to our own. 

I don't think that that is a particularly positive development. 

There is MUCH more to say, both on a halachic, philosophical and psychological level. Hopefully in the near future....

In the meantime - a freilichin Shovevim.  

I just want to conclude by reminding ourselves that people writing opinion pieces on the Internet are often ignorant of Torah and apathetic to it's core goals and teachings. If you are in the Torah camp, it is critical to gain the traditional perspective on issues.  

That is what I try to provide. If you think that I am wrong then I would LOVE to hear from you.    

Is it permissible to steal money from a non-Jew?

Answer: There is a Torah prohibition to steal any amount of money or even an object that seemingly has no value from a Jew. We do not find a distinction in the Talmud between Jews and the other nations of the world regarding the prohibition of stealing. Just as is forbidden to steal from a Jew, it is likewise forbidden to steal from a non-Jew.

Nevertheless, we find in the Shulchan Aruch Even Ha’Ezer (Chapter 28) that a man can only betroth a woman using an object which belongs to him. The Rama (ibid.) writes that if one steals an object from a non-Jew and uses it to betroth a woman (even if the non-Jewish owner has not given up hope of retrieving the object and still hopes that it will be returned), the woman is indeed betrothed to the thief. It seems from the Rama that the prohibition to steal from a non-Jew is only rabbinic, however, it is permissible to steal from a non-Jew according to Torah law. It is for this reason that if one betroths a woman using an object stolen from a non-Jew that the woman is considered married.

However, most Acharonim are puzzled by the words of the Rama, for most Acharonim understand that the Rambam’s opinion is that stealing from a non-Jew is a complete Torah prohibition. The Siftei Kohen (Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 348) writes that the Samag, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rule likewise. (See Halichot Olam, Volume 2, page 212)

The Sefer Atzei Arazim explains the opinion of the Rama and writes that even the Rama agrees that stealing from a non-Jew is a Torah prohibition. However, the Rama is of the opinion that the obligation to return the object one has stolen from a non-Jew is only rabbinic and not Torah law. Thus, if one betroths a woman with an object that has already been stolen from a non-Jew, since the obligation to return it to the non-Jew is only rabbinic, the woman is indeed betrothed to him.

Nevertheless, even this explanation is subject to disagreement, for the great Chatam Sofer (in his commentary on Sukkah 30a) writes that according to the Rambam, the obligation to return a stolen object to a non-Jew is a Torah obligation. Only the Sefer Yere’im is of the opinion that it is merely a rabbinic commandment. Indeed, Hagaon Maharam ben Chaviv and the Sefer Sha’ar Ha’Melech disagree about this issue and the Maharam writes that the obligation to return a stolen object to a non-Jew is rabbinic while the Sha’ar Ha’Melech is of the opinion that this obligation is indeed Torah law.

The Poskim discuss this matter at length, however, all agree that it is absolutely forbidden to steal money of any other object from a non-Jew. The only disagreement is whether or not the obligation to return the object is a Torah or rabbinic commandment. Thus, halachically speaking, it is certainly forbidden to steal from a non-Jew and if one has done so, one must return the stolen object to him.

Nonetheless, we must point out that all of the above applies regarding stealing from a non-Jew; however, it is likewise forbidden to utter a lie from one’s mouth besides for several very select situations. Once, an Avrech was halachically exempt from paying property tax on his apartment inquired from Maran zt”l, “Can I declare on my affidavit to the authorities that I earn less than I actually do so that they exempt me from paying a tax that I am exempt from paying?” Maran zt”l replied in surprise, “Do you want me to tell you that it is permissible to lie? How can I say such a thing?!”

[halacha yomit]

The Passing Of A Tzadik

Some people just talk a lot, complain, malign or pontificate. Some people just DO and make no noise about it. יהא חלקי עמהם!! 

Hamodia -

Active to the end, Reb Yehoshua Zvi Herschkowits, inventor of the Tomche Shabbos concept in the United States and founder of its Boro Park chapter, was niftar Monday, having risen from the ashes of the Holocaust to leave his mark in creating the Jewish world’s tightest social network. He was 92.

Reb Shia distinctive boxes and innovative solutions helped an estimated thousands of families escape the grind of hunger while keeping their dignity intact during his four decades four decades leading Tomche Shabbos, says Rabbi Edgar Gluck, a longtime askan and friend of the niftar.

Rabbi Gluck told Hamodia by telephone as he was returning from the levayah Monday afternoon, “His trademark was, when he would see people he would ask them, ‘can I do anything for you?’”

Reb Shia was working for the United States Postal Office in 1975 when he became aware of a neighbor who could not afford to put food on his table. His desire to secretly help the neighbor led him to the shocking recognition that so many others were in his neighbor’s position but were too ashamed to seek help.

Together with a friend, he started Tomche Shabbos in his kitchen, yet it grew rapidly to help hundreds of families — more than 1,000 during Yamim Tovim. At the time of his petirah,Reb Yehoshua Zvi had about 700 people on his weekly lists.

Reb Shia put his entire life into the organization. He would oversee the distribution on Thursday night, and would then receive indigent people in his house all Friday afternoon. There was hardly a week that the Herschkowits family themselves ate regular food on Shabbos — he would invariably give it away.

“They would sometimes eat cookies for Shabbos,” Rabbi Gluck said, citing one of the sons as his source.

As the organization got bigger, Reb Shia arranged for a team of dozens of young volunteers with cars to drive around delivering food. Early on he established a firm policy that continues until today and is copied by similar organizations — never allow the recipient to see you. Just ring the bell and run away.

Reb Shia later became the first social organization to begin giving out cards that looked like credit cards at supermarkets. That allowed beneficiaries to get help and not lose their dignity.

He established Tomche Shabbos in Boro Park, but his net of chessed was not limited by geography. As the needy of Flatbush and Queens began calling he started distributions there as well. This continued until those neighborhoods started their own Tomche Shabbos groups, which were modeled after Reb Shia’s.

Reb Shia did not allow the nearly full-time work of fundraising and distributions affect his job at the post office, never taking off a day [!!]. When he was given his own office with a personal telephone, he reasoned to Rabbi Gluck, it was to be able to better help his clients outside of office hours.

“I’m sure the reason they gave it to me was that I could work for Tomchei Shabbos,” he said.

Reb Shia accomplished so much in his life, yet refused to accept any honoraria that came with it. Even the majority of those who benefited from his largesse were unfamiliar with his name or role in Tomche Shabbos.

“I’m sorry; I’m a plain Jew,” he told a gabbai at one shul when he was given shishi, the sixth and most prestigious aliyah in many circles. “Either give me a different aliyah or I’m not going to daven here again.”

But his efforts were recognized by a select few, as Rabbi Gluck relates.

Many years ago Rabbi Gluck went to a mekubal in Yerushalayim, whose name he no longer recalls, to request a brachah.

“Are you from Boro Park?” the mekubal queried. He responded in the affirmative.

“Do you know Herschkowits?” he persisted. Rabbi Gluck said that he know many people with such a name.

“I’m referring to the one from Tomche Shabbos,” the mekubal explained. “The brachah that he can give, none of us mekubalim in Eretz Yisrael could give.”

Born in Kiraljihazo, Hungary, in 1924, Yehoshua Tzvi Herschkowits lost much of his family during the Holocaust. He himself was sent to the Dachau concentration camp in 1944 and was liberated a year later. After the war he married and started a family that eventually grew to six children, three boys and three girls.

He was extremely meticulous not to miss any of his daily shiurim, several maspidim at the levayah said, going to various shuls every day for shiurim.

The levayah was held at the Tomche Shabbos building on New Utrecht Ave. and kevurah was at the Satmar chelkah of Washington Cemetery in Deans, N.J.

He was predeceased by his wife and is survived by his children, ybl”c, Reb Chaim, Reb Dovid, Reb Moshe, Mrs. Charna Stark, Mrs. Udy Paskez and Mrs. Esther Chaya Stein

Yehi zichro baruch

Points To Ponder

 Borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back.

 Half the people you know are below average.

 OK, so what's the speed of dark?

 How can you tell when you're out of invisible ink?

 If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

 Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

 When everything seems to be coming your way, maybe you're in the wrong lane.

Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.

 I intend to live forever... so far, so good.

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

 What happens if you get scared half to death...twice?

 My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

 Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?

 If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

 A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

 Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

 The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up.

If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

The Wit And Wisdom Of Geroge W. Bush Jr. - Part 2

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."

"G-d told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East."

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is, 'to be prepared'."

'There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.'

"Iraq and Afghanistan ...are now democracies and they are allies in the cause of freedom and peace."

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table."

"Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion."

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."

"To the C students, I say you too can be president of the United States."

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

It Is Possible Not to Look

As we enter Shovevim and try to make tikkunim for pgam ha-yesod*, I will share a story.  

A Rebbi in a very prominent yeshiva, a very mechubadike Rav, with an impressive looking frock and a more impressive comportment, related to me [I was shocked at his frankness] that when he was first married he was having problem with one of of his wife's sisters. She was very attractive and when he went to his in-laws for Shabbos, there she was, dressing and looking very good. He didn't know what to do. On one hand, shmiras einayim. It is not holy to be attracted to your sister in law, to say the least. But he couldn't help it. On the other hand - how do you not go to your in-laws for Shabbos??? And what is he going to do? Tell his father in law that he has shmiras einayim problems with his other daughter? That wouldn't have fit well with all of the praises that were said about him during the shidduchim and wedding period.... And how will he explain this to his new wife? 

Anyway, he went to Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg Shlita who told him that he will go - and won't look. 

And so it was. He went and the entire Shabbos he didn't look at his sister in law once.

 It can be done. 

[Note - He is a mentsch. I am sure that he did it in a way that she wasn't offended]. 

*Illicit thoughts, visions, speech and actions. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Geographically Challenged - Do Wings Dream? - Thinking Of New Ways To Harm our People

From the wisdom of George W. Bush - Part 1 

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."

"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment.

It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it. "

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."

"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

"Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."

When You're Gone, Hoops No Longer Matter - Obama's Hero - Red And Rav Shlomo Zalman

Recently, I heard someone talking about his late father, an observant Jew.. His father, he recalled with pathos, was a GREAT basketball player. A legend. A Jewish Jordan. [Almost as good as I was as my career was winding down:-)]. Tops. The best. 

But now his father is DEAD. Yet, that remains his legacy. That is how his son so fondly remembers his father. Ball. But wait. He is just a soul now. Where he is - there is no ball!! Basketball is no currency. All that matters is how spiritual he was in his lifetime. How many people he helped. How much tzdaka he gave. How much kavana he had when davening. How careful he was in what he saw, said, ate and thought. The list goes on. He has been a soul for quite a while now and every second of his existence [he is in a place with no time but you get my point] is determined by what he did in this world for better or for ... The more good - the greater the pleasure of the soul. Less good - less pleasure and more suffering, G-d forbid. 

So drop the "ball" thing. In our world we value people who can through a ball on a hole or achieve other acts of athletic excellence. Barack Obama said [I heard him say it] that one of his heroes growing up was Muhammad Ali, a man whose main claim to fame was that he could punch people so hard in the face that they were knocked out silly. In this world those type of people are heroes. But in the real world, G-d doesn't give reward for people who can punch really hard [even if their last name sounds eerily like my first name]. 

The currency up there is good deeds, holiness, spirituality, kindess and LOVE. Love of Hashem, fellow man and all of creation. 

In conclusion, I am really troubled that a Jew's legacy is how much he loved basketball and how good he was at it. Enjoy your games, everybody needs down time. But don't make that your mark on this world. I am sure that his father did many mitzvos and he would better be remembered that way. I also don't think that in people's memories we should name sports competitions. I can't imagine that this gives them the same עילוי נשמה as learning mishanyos or giving tzdaka. So when I die [and that is the plan:-)] no "Elchonon Ehrman Memorial Basketball Tournament". The world will continue the same without me. I have not made much of a difference to anyone [other than my landlord who graciously accepts my monthly rent] but I don't want my memory desecrated by naming a tournament after me. 

Thank you. 

This was a public service message brought to you in memory of the legend Red Auerbach, the famous Boston Celtic general manager and coach, who dedicated his life to hoops. Where he is now, he appreciates that life would have been better spent trying to emulate his cousin [I would guess] Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach....   

From Where Else?

"More and more of our imports are coming from overseas".

George W. Bush Jr. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Kfiyas Ha-Ratzon

There is a special avodah called כפיית הרצון - overcoming one's will. On a simple level we experience this constantly because we are all filled will desires that are counter to what is proper and moral and we have to suppress [or repress] and overcome. We want various pleasures of the flesh which would be better if we wouldn't have them in the first place. So of course we receive tremendous rewards for overcoming our base desires but it would have been better had those desires not surfaced in the first place. This is called "זיכוך הרצון" - Purifying our will so that we don't have negative or impure desires. Once we nevertheless have impure desires, we must overcome. 

But there are Tzadikim who reach a much higher plateau  - their desires are pure and it is not necessary for them to suppress negative desires. But their special avoda of כפיית הרצון is still needed. So Hashem sets up opponents to their derech who blaspheme, degrade and demean them. Then they have the GOLDEN opportunity to engage in כפיית הרצון by remaining silent and not entering into a bitter dispute. 

הנעלבים ואינם עולבים שומעים חרפתם ואינם משיבים עליהם הכתוב אומר כצאת השמש בגבורתו!!

[עי' בס' רזי לי עמ' ש"ה] 

Working On Our Ratzon

Ratzon - will, is a great thing. Everything we do requires ratzon. The greater the ratzon, the more likely we are to succeed. Even a ratzon which is not actualized has value. The mekubalim teach that a positive ratzon brings good on to the person and the world [and a negative ratzon the opposite...]. 

The problem starts when we decide that our own personal ratzon is all that matters and thus overrides the ratzon of Hashem. The goal is to align our retzonos with the ratzon of Hashem. If He wants it - then we want it. If He doesn't - then we don't. 

פותח את ידיך ומשביע לכל חי רצון - Hashem opens His hand and fulfills the ratzon of everybody. Does he really? Aren't there things that we want but aren't getting?? Well, if our retzonos would be aligned with His, then we would truly have whatever we want. For what we have is what He wants and if we are on the same page, then we have all we want. 

That is a HUUUUGE avoda. To stop wanting things He doesn't want us to have. How do we know what He wants? We don't always but we often do. If it against the Torah, He doesn't want it. If He gave us certain parents or siblings or spouse then we have to stop wishing that we had different ones. If this is what He gave us then this is what He wants and what we should want. 

It is hard work to accept the Divine will. But once we internalize that He knows what we need in order to reach our tikkun, it is much easier. 

[עי' רזי לי י"ח עמ' ד"ש] 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Bothered - Link

I am very bothered when Jewish religious institutions ask for tzdaka in honor of X-mas and New Years. OK - take your day off from work and enjoy. But to ask for money in honor of these horrible days is very troubling. 

Sometimes I feel that for so many people and even institutions, all sense of propriety goes out the window when it comes to money. 

Speak The Truth

I have posted numerous times about the vice of lying. In every culture and religion of which I am aware, liars and lies are despised.

Yet, every culture and religion are also FILLED with lies and liars. I have been lied to countless times that I know about and countless more times of which I am unaware. It is very disturbing, to say the least. Dovid Hamelech said אני אמרתי בחפזי כל האדם כוזב - I said in my haste that all men are false. People lie. 

Every single religion [except for one - ours:-)] is predicated upon lies. Billions of people are living based on lies. 

It is sad. 

We only accept our tradition and every second of our lives are governed by it's laws and beliefs because we believe that we weren't lied to. So many people don't believe because they just assume that it is another lie that they were told.

The problem with assuming that EVERYTHING is a lie is that then we should doubt that our parents are really our parents. Maybe they lied to us and we were really adopted? Then society crumbles because we lose all respect for parents - because we don't know who they are. [Rav Kook made this point in his מורה לנבוכי הזמן]. 

So we MUST trust sometimes. We trust that we weren't lied to and Hashem really gave the Torah at Har Sinai. There are many reasons for this trust. One of the MANY, is that if we don't trust, we are left with NOTHING. No values, no morals and we just turn into animals with two legs and a Facebook account. People who have no G-d are just that. Eat, drink, defacate, copulate. Animals. We NEED our tradition. [Again - there are amny other reasons we trust in the veracity of our tradition but not for here. We have discussed and written about this on many occassions]. We trust that our parents are really our parents. We trust that when we order something over the Internet it will be sent to our home - otherwise we can't purchase things this way. We trust that people we do business with won't rob us blind - otherwise we can't do business.

Yet, after all is said and done we remain wary of people and their falsehoods. All we can do to combat all of this falsehood is to try to be true to our word and not say things that aren't true. 

אגרא דתעניתא צדקתא!!!

The reward for a fast is the TZDAKA you give! 

[Brachos 6b]


“To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.”

Not Just Me

“Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.”


Some shtark mussar for Shovevim for those who can handle it from a huge young talmid chochom.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Good Night :-)

“Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow, 
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.” 

― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Believe In Yourself!

Some people are neurotic about sinning. They are scared to do anything lest they sin. This is very unhealthy and stunts one's spiritual growth. Believe in yourself and your capacity to do what is right. 

רעה חולה היא, כשרגש המוסרי מתעדן יותר מדאי, עד שלא די שהוא משמש בתור כח עוצר בבא תור המעשה, שלא תשולח יד לעשות רע, אלא הוא מאיים תמיד ביראת עונות הסובבים את האדם, במעשה ובמחשבה. הפחד הנפרז מכל חטא, מאבד טובו של האדם, ועושה אותו למין בריה שפלה שאינה עושה דבר, כ"א שוכבת ורועדת. האדם צריך להאמין בחייו, להאמין בכחו החמרי ובכחו המוסרי יחד. האמונה היא כוללת הכל, כמו האהבה. האמונה בחיים היא ברכת ד', כמו שאי האמונה היא הקללה היותר איומה - ולא תאמין בחייך. כשאדם מאמין בחייו הרוחניים, הוא מוצא קורת רוח בעמל נפשו, והוא הולך ומתעלה.

So Much Lying

Chazal say that before Hashem created the world, truth said "don't create [man] for he is filled with falsehood". 

"אמר רבי סימון: בשעה שבא הקדוש ברוך הוא לבראֹת את אדם הראשון, נעשו מלאכי השרת כיתים כיתים, וחבורות חבורות. מהם אומרים אל יִבָּרֵא, ומהם אומרים יִבָּרֵא, הדא הוא דכתיב: (תהלים פה, יא) חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת נִפְגָּשׁוּ, צֶדֶק וְשָׁלוֹם נָשָׁקוּ. חסד אומר: יִבָּרֵא, שהוא גומל חסדים. ואמת אומר: אל יִבָּרֵא, שכולו שקרים. צדק אומר: יִבָּרֵא, שהוא עושה צדקות. שלום אומר: אל יִבָּרֵא, דכוליה קטטה. מה עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא נטל אמת והשליכו לארץ, הדא הוא דכתיב (דניאל ח, יב) וְתַשְׁלֵךְ אֱמֶת אַרְצָה.
אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבון העולמים! מה אתה מבזה תכסיס אלטיכסייה שלך?! תעלה אמת מן הארץ! הדא הוא דכתיב (תהלים פה, יב) אֱמֶת מֵאֶרֶץ תִּצְמָח".

This medrash requires a lot of explanation but maybe another time. In the meantime, some words about sheker from the web. 

According to recent research, lying happens a lot more than you might think.I’d love to start, as I normally do, with a nice long anecdote, but there’s a problem. By the time you have finished reading this post there’s every chance you might just think that I’m making it all up.


Well, because the big truth I want to get across in this post is how often people lie. The spoiler here is that, unfortunately, it’s a lot. 60 percent of people lie for every ten minutes of conversation

Yes, that’s right. According to the University of Massachusetts, a whopping 60 percent of people lie to you at least once during discussions lasting ten minutes or more.

Think about how many of those you have in a week.

And what I’ve just told you is almost a white lie right there. It’s not just one lie you might hear. Oh no. The average number of lies these people told was actually two or three lies in ten minutes.

And that’s a wee bit worrying when you have a moment to take that fact in. Because, in a ten-minute conversation, they won’t be talking for all of that time. They will be listening to you chatter on as well.

So the truth-to-lies ratio for their contribution is, in a way, a lot higher.

And I just pray that you’re not one of the 60 percent as well – because the above conversation is simply not worth having then! Seriously: under those circumstances there could be two people telling six lies in ten minutes.

And, even if those figures are somehow a little off, things are still not great.

An earlier study that didn’t come to the same conclusion still said that men and women lie in a fifth of conversations lasting ten or more minutes. It found they deceive 30 percent of their work colleagues every week.

What kinds of lies are these people spreading?

Well, it’s a whole range of things. In the Massachusetts study, participants were asked to look over recorded conversations they had had. As they did, they were encouraged to identify all the lies that they had told. A lie counted as every time someone deceived someone about the facts. So that included smaller things: like if you said someone’s hair was nice (when you didn’t think it was) right through to big whoppers.

The results of this experiment also found that men and women, on the whole, lie for different reasons. Women lie to feel better about themselves, while men lie to look better.
But let’s break down these lies just a little bit more.

This doesn’t end when we stop being kids, either. When you are late for work, or you forget someone’s birthday, you may well lie to cover your back. If you don’t then you might get into more serious trouble, or might cause offense when there was never meant to be any. Nobody intends to forget the birthday of someone they care about, for instance. Of course if you do remember to buy that gift – and the other person doesn’t like it – then they feel socially obliged to lie to you.

Of course, things can spiral out of control. Dr Paul Ekman explains that the greater the stakes, the worse we are at covering lies. So when you forget to buy someone a present and then say it’s in the mail then that’s fine. But if you are pulled over by the police over a potential speeding ticket, then a lie is less likely to pass under the radar.

Are we creating a world where we want to hear lies?

Of course what is interesting is that we already have a world where we almost want to hear lies. It sounds cynical, but I think to some extent this is true.

First off think about work. Does your boss really want to know that you have rolled into work late because you have no motivation? Or would they rather you told them you were late because of traffic? Think of it like this: which of these keeps you out of trouble, and makes them feel better?

And, in terms of your friends, these lies also persist. Like I mentioned before, you are told to say a gift is nice, even if you don’t like it, so as not to hurt someone’s feelings. This is a rule which has been pushed onto you since you were a child.

Connect To Tzadikim

Do you want to really LOVE Hashem? Do you want to really BELIEVE in Hashem? I have some advice...

Connect to those HOLY SOULS who have mastered the art of love and belief!! Yes, I mean cling to Tzadikim. Take a "טרמפ" [hitch] on their coattails. 

"שכלול האמונה והאהבה ואומץ קיומן מתחזק ביסוד דבקות נפשית בחכמים ותלמידיהם, או כפי המבטא של החסידות: התקשרות עם הצדיקים. יסוד זה, שהחסידות טפלה בו הרבה, צריכים אנו להקימו בשכלול גדול והדור מאד בתור אוצר חיים, והדום רגל, לשכינה הכוללת את אור האמונה והאהבה, השרויה בחכמים צדיקים, שמהות חייהם כולה, היא התגלות האמונה והאהבה, המחוזקה באיתניות התורה והמצוה, בכל מילויהן המעשיים והרוחניים, עם סגולה נפשית מיוחדה, שהיא הסתגלות רוח הקודש, הראוי להולד דוקא בארץ ישראל."

Link - Shovevim Around The Corner

I agree with the article. But the explanation is as follows [in my humble opinion]: Harassment is against the harassed party's will while adultery is consensual [generally, the spouse who is being cheated on doesn't consent but that is a minor, insignificant detail:-)]. In our world [according to many on the left] - there is no absolute right and wrong or objective morality. The only rule is not to hurt anybody else. Once G-d is out of the picture, then you get to make up your own rules. So Bill Clinton, who cheated on his wife countless times, both before and during his presidency, is a hero. He can command hundreds of thousands dollars for a speech. What do you want from the guy? He was just having a good time. 

During the Democratic national convention, he got onstage and told the story of how he met Hillary. Basically, he saw her, was instantly attracted and decided at that moment that he was going to get her [I don't want to be vulgar but it is clear where he wanted to get her]. Eventually - he was successful. The problem is that the seeing and being attracted and then pursuing the woman happened to Bill many times afterward as well. Hillary didn't plan that out. 

Anyway - next week we start Shovevim, the six week period where we place an emphasis on working on inyanei kedusha. So since we live in such a crude and crass world - this is the BEST time to swim against  the tide and strengthen ourselves in shmiras einayim and shmiras hamachshava. Besides the value of reaching higher levels of kedusha, it also accentuates our being different from all of the nations.  

They don't get it. We do. 

True Heroes

I don't want to be a party pooper but why is Shalom Rubashkin such a hero?? What did he do that earned him "movie-star" status? 

Don't get me wrong - I am THRILLED that he is free. Prison is a miserable place to be. It is no coincidence that there is a high suicide rate in prisons. BARUCH HASHEM he is out. It could be that the trial was rigged. Maybe. Maybe not. It is likely that his sentence was much more severe than his crime. Maybe. Probably.

But why is he a hero?

It is BEAUTIFUL that Jews who never met him are so happy at his great fortune. מי כעמך ישראל!! 

Still - if he committed a crime then why should we be happy? Crime is evil. If he didn't commit a crime and is completely innocent then the reality remains that a TERRIBLE Chilul Hashem was caused through him. The Mishna in Avos says - אחד שוגג ואחד מזיד בחילול השם. We should feel horrible that the name of Hashem and His Torah was desecrated. People believe that frum Jews can be dishonest. That is a churban. I would feel much better if he would get up and say "thank you for your outpouring of love and care. But I am terribly sorry that I added to the already bad reputation that frum Jews have in areas of honesty. Let us be mischazek in being honest in all of our monetary dealings".

Heroes? People who donate a kidney, give tzedaka, honestly fill out their tax forms, greet everybody with a smile or learn Torah with great diligence, are heroes. There are PLENTY of heroes walking around. Let us celebrate THEM. 

Why isn't there dancing on the street every time a woman gives birth after 20 years of being childless? Or when a Jew is healed from cancer? Or when a talmid chochom makes a siyum hashas bi-iyun or puts out a "knock your socks off" sefer? Why only here? 

There are plenty of people who are suffering and almost nobody cares.  People are suffering from financial distress, emotional problems, kids off the derech, marriage problems, lonely single people, health problems and the list goes on and on and on. And on.  If everybody cared about every suffering Jew like they cared about Shalom Rubashkin then Moshiach would be here.  

Monday, December 25, 2017

Limmud Zchus

I received the following communication about this post:

I wouldn't take one student's hyperbolic, sensationalist line so seriously. People need to write sensational articles so they write these stupid things. That's also part of the goyish culture. I have been going to YU every day for the past 7 years and I have never felt I was in a "hook up culture". That being said not everyone here is kadosh vetahor like anywhere else. There is a wide range of frumkeit among the student body but I doubt any of the bnei Torah feel they are in a "hook up culture" environment. Not to deny YU has plenty of issues they need to fix in terms of the ruchniyus but . lemayseh it's not a goyish college dorm Baruch Hashem. 

I prefer to be melamed zchus. 

Kefirah And Hatred - What To Do?

Our culture, writes Rav Kook many decades ago, is built upon denial of G-d and hatred, that negate the essence of life and we can't overcome this disease unless we reveal the treasures of faith and  love, as expounded by the hidden Torah.  

הקולטורה הזמנית, כפי מה שהיא מתבססת עתה בעולם, בנויה היא כולה על הכפירה ועל השנאה, שהן שוללי החיים העצמיים, ואי אפשר להתגבר על מחלה זו, כי אם לגלות את כל אוצרות הטוב המונחים בבית גנזיהן של האמונה והאהבה, וזאת היא מטרת גילוי סתרי תורה.


Love and fear are the essence of our souls:

אין האדם מוכשר לשום כח רוחני שבעולם בשלמות גדולה כזאת שהוא מוכשר לאמונה ולאהבה, וזהו האות, שבכחות אלו מונחים כל יסודות הויית מהותיותו.

Frightening And Distressing

This is from an article in a recent edition of the YU Commentator, written by a Stern girl: 
"Mr. Prager is being naive if he assumes that the only sexual activity on the YU campus is within a state of marriage.....Similar to any other college campus, YU has its share of couples, dates, and romances, as well as a hookup culture. I do not state that with negative connotations, nor do I wish to detail specifics, as it is not my business nor anyone else’s. However, it is important to make the point as the fine line between sexual activity and sexual objectification is often a dangerous one. Sexual activity is fine. As long as the relationship is consensual, it is healthy and normal."

This young lady doesn't believe that there is anything negative about a hookup culture. She believes that sexual activity is fine, as long as it is consensual. It is healthy and normal. It is actually the greatest spiritual cancer known to mankind. She should buy herself a copy of the Tanach.  

The new President spoke about the "five Torot" of YU in his inspiring investiture speech. Maybe the sixth Torah should be educating the students about the virutes of not succumbing to their nefesh habehemis

Did this girl go to a religious high school? To seminary in Israel? Does she believe in G-d? How many are there who think like her?  Why do they print such filth in their official newspaper? If it were my daughter writing that way I would rip kriyah [which is a tautology but that is besides the point]. 

I wouldn't care except for the fact that all Jews are responsible for each other and affect each other. If there is a hookup culture in YU then my soul and your soul are being contaminated by that whether we are aware of it or not. The whole world is affected.  

I post in order to maybe, maybe make the world a more pure place. It is an uphill battle but battle we will and battle we must.....

PS - I used to teach in a school where there was pressure to send the boys to YU and not to classical yeshivos [probably for financial reasons]. I wonder if there is a hookup culture in Ner Yisrael, Ohr Hachaim or Lakewood. I would guess not.... 

PPS - I skipped college. Shas and poskim are the best teachers. Parnassa? Nobody cares if I have a parnassa - why should I? Torah is the best schorah. Plus - plenty of people became very rich without a college education. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

How To Deal With The Sexual Depravity Of Our Culture

There is much talk in the news about the countless sexual harassment cases that are coming to light. Instead - there should be talk about how to fix the problem. 

Here it goes: The problem is the entire culture. Everywhere one looks there are images of women portrayed as sex objects. This is compounded by the fact that men NATURALLY view women that way. Until one gets to know a woman, all he knows about her is what she looks like and this triggers the male carnal desire. Afterward, when he sees and experiences that she is a living, breathing, thinking and feeling human being, there is a chance that his perspective will be altered. 

One goes down into the subway - BIG pictures of women in partial states of undress, advertising the latest movie. He opens the newspaper - pictures of attractive women advertising various products or pictures of attractive women who are in the news and are dressed in an alluring way. He turns on the television and the actresses he sees are portrayed as sex objects. He watches the news and he sees women who were chosen only for their good looks [and ability to read English]. Old, unattractive women don't get jobs as television newscasters [maybe they do radio - I wouldn't know...]. The plots of movies revolve around sex. He wants to go watch some sports? On the sideline are groups of skimpily dressed young women whose job it is to attract the men [nobody needs them to "lead the cheers". People can cheer without their help].

It is ubiquitous. The entire culture is built around objectifying women. Facebook started when Zuckerberg was in Harvard and started posting pictures of young women, asking who is pretty and who is not [he didn't use the word "pretty"]. It spread to other college campuses and became the rage. 

So what is the solution? To change the entire culture and to cease focusing on sex and women's physical attractiveness. This won't happen because sex sells. 

So as Jews our only moral option is to distance ourselves as much as possible from this corrupt society. I see no other option. Of course we must go to work and one can't completely avoid the world. But as much as possible. 

Our other strategy should be to enhance the marital bond and improving the relationships between man and wife. It is rare to find a happy couple who is sexually frustrated. What happens in the bedroom carries over to other areas of life. 

So kallahs [and beyond] have to be taught how important it is to "make their husbands happy", both in the bedroom and out. The husbands also have to learn to be affectionate not only in a sexual way and how to please their wives in a myriad of ways. This way - all of the movie stars they see on a daily basis will be far less interesting because they are involved in such a fulfilling union with their own spouse.

As an interesting and sad aside: There was an article in the paper about single women "rabbis". The claim is that there is not ONE who hasn't experienced sexual harassment. When men go to "temple", they are "checking out" the "rabbi", and if she is attractive then she will have vulgar sexually charged comments made to her. Sometimes they are also touched in inappropriate ways. There of course is no way to gauge  how many men are looking at her in sexual ways. Here is my guess - all of them [depending on her level of attractiveness]. I would venture that she is often hired on the basis of her good looks in the first place. 

For us this means that we can strengthen our belief in the value of the mechitza and make sure our mechitzas block off the women from male view. A man being in a shul is not going to stop him from thinking about things he shouldn't be thinking about. THAT is why we have a mechitza. 

So we should enforce external fences [literal and figurative] and also work on ourselves s individuals and communities to be careful in the area of shmiras einayim. No matter how a woman is dressed, there is never any excuse to look at her inappropriately and certainly not to speak to or about her in such a way. In addition, like I wrote, we have to strengthen the marital bonds we have. 

One more point: Tzniyus. Women think that as long as their hair, elbows and knees are covered that they are dressed modestly. This is a mistake. When a woman wears the latest "knock your eyes out" outfit, puts on a lot of jewellery and makeup and her three thousand dollar sheitel and spends a great deal of time before she leaves the house beautifying herself, men are going to look at her. This is bad for her, bad for her husband and bad for the whole world. Men aren't particularly interested in a women's elbows. But when she is wearing tight suggestive clothing, she becomes more interesting. So officially covering certain parts is not sufficient. Tzniyus is the entire look. Some women are enraged by this - men are going to tell ME how to dress?!! NEVER. 

This militancy is not beneficial [and sadly - they pay the price]. We don't want to control women. We want to create a society where women are viewed for who they REALLY are  - souls. Holy, G-dly souls. The emphasis on externals distracts both women and men from this reality. 

Tzniyus is beautiful. It reminds us that what is hidden is what matters. We cover up the body so that the focus should be on the soul.      

והיה מחניך קדוש!!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Leap Of Faith?

People - even Talmidei Chachomim - talk about how our belief in Hashem is a "leap of faith". This is a big mistake. We are not asked to take a "leap of faith". The Rambam says: 

יסוד היסודות ועמוד החכמות לידע שיש שם מצוי ראשון והוא ממציא כל נמצא וכל הנמצאים משמים וארץ ומה שביניהם לא נמצאו אלא מאמתת המצאו. 

The foundation of everything is to KNOW that there is a G-d. 

If one feels that he is taking a leap of faith but he can't be absolutely sure, then there is a serious lacking in his faith. [Full disclosure - many many good people are not on the level where they know that there is a G-d. Our life's task is to work to achieve this level.] 

Rav Kook writes: 

האמונה אינה לא שכל ולא רגש, אלא גילוי עצמי היותר יסודי של מהות הנשמה, שצריך להדריך אותה בתכונתה. וכשאין משחיתים את דרכה הטבעי לה, איננה צריכה לשום תוכן אחר לסעדה, אלא היא מוצאה בעצמה את הכל. בעת החלש אורה, אז בא השכל והרגש לפנות לפניה דרך. וגם אז צריכה היא לדעת את ערכה, שלא משרתיה, השכל והרגש, הם הנם עצמותה. ותהיה קבועה באיתן מושבה, אז יצליחו השכל והרגש בפינוי הדרך, ובהמצאת האמצעיים השכליים והמוסריים המסקלים את המכשולים מעל דרכה. ההסתכלות המיוחדת של האמונה שהיא חלק בעצמה, הוא האור של הנבואה, וברדת המדרגה, שפעת רוח הקודש, שגם אלה יורדים לפעמים ומתאחים עם השכל והרגש בדרכי גילוייהם.

I urge everybody to learn and analyze this passage because it may be the most important thing the Rav ever wrote. 

Learn what the Rav writes. Learn Kuzari, learn Maharal, learn Ramchal etc. etc. and over time your Emunah will be bolstered. 

But no "leaps". "Leaps of faith" are for things we can't know and never experienced. 

One Result Of Talmud Torah

"It is impossible to put your mind into the great works of genius without some of their genius sticking with you."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Unpublished Teshuva From Rav Ovadiah - Drinking During Psukei D'zimra

לכבוד ידידנו היקר ר' אברהם מלול שליט"א

שלום וישע רב,

מכתבו מיום כד אייר ש.ז. קיבלתי לנכון, ובו חוזר על שאלתו הקודמת (שאבדה ממני) מכתבו אם מעשה בלי דיבור כגון שתיית תה או מים באמצע פסוקי זמרה הוי הפסק. ונראה ודאי דמיירי שבירך על התה או המים לפני ברוך שאמר, ורוצה להמשיך לשתות בתוך פסד"ז. והנה כבר העליתי בתשובה (א"ה. בשו"ת יביע אומר) בחלק ה' (חאו"ח סי' ד) שיש להחמיר שלא להפסיק בין תפלין של יד לתפלין של ראש אפי' במעשה בלא דיבור. עש"ב. אך בפסד"ז אין הדבר חמור כל כך כהפסק שבין תפלין של יד לתפלין של ראש. ומ"מ נראה שאם אין צורך בכך, ודאי דלא אריך למיעבד הכי, אבל במקום צורך יש לסמוך ולהקל. ומכל שכן לפמ"ש בשו"ת מקור חיים (חאו"ח סי' ב) שאם שואלים אותו דבר באמצע פסד"ז מותר לכתוב להם תשובתו. ע"ש. (וכעת אין הספר תחת ידי) אלמא דמעשה לא חשיב כדיבור. והנלע"ד כתבתי .

בכבוד רב,

עובדיה יוסף

An Impressed Gentile - Massive Torahs

From a goy's twitter feed: 

I'll never get tired of dudes breaking out massive Torahs on the subway for some light studying.

I love this city.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Capacity To Be Loved

Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to? If your answer is yes, you will likely live longer than someone whose answer is no. For George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who discovered this fact, the master strength is the capacity to be loved. Conversely, as the social neuroscientist John Cacioppo has argued, loneliness is such a disabling condition that it compels the belief that the pursuit of relationships is a rock-bottom fundamental to human well-being.

Martin Seligmann

"You Can't Hurry Love"

Dr. Isaac Weiskopf 

On a global, national and personal level, the spring of 1967 was fecund with memories for me.

Israel fought the six-day war. Anti-Vietnam protests began. The Philadelphia 76ers dominated the NBA, as The Dirty Dozen did the big screen, and Batman the small one. The Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper” pushed The Supremes’ ” You Can’t Hurry Love” off the airwaves.

Most importantly, I was graduating high school.

As much as I hated grade school, and even more than I despised my subsequent college experience, I loved my high school. Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Manhattan, better known as MTA (Manhattan Talmudic Academy), was perfect for me.

I made many friends with whom I stay in touch to this day. I was inspired by, and learned so much from both my Rabbis and secular teachers. I even developed a lifelong friendship with my principal, Rabbi David Weinbach.

Unfortunately, it was because I spent so much time in his office.

We were introduced at the beginning of my sophomore year, thanks to my Latin teacher.

There were but five students. (Not many of us were planning to move to The Vatican.)

As our first class began, I was joking with my classmates, when our teacher walked in. He turned to me: “You! What’s your name?”


“Herschkopf, you dirty dog. You spit on my wife’s grave!” (Apparently, his wife of many decades had recently passed.)

And so, my two-year Latin adventure began. The other students sat contiguous with his desk. He placed me in a different area code, in the far corner of the empty room. If I dared raise my hand, he glared at me until I put it down. And yet, I learned a great deal of Latin, which I still use frequently.

That was not apparent from my test scores. Reflecting the size of the class, our tests were informal. He would read passages in Latin and English; we would translate them. He would arbitrarily subtract credit for every mistake.

When I got my first test back, I was relieved to see that my grade was over 100. Then I noticed the minus sign preceding it. It was downhill from there. My subsequent scores were -212, -314, -613. No matter how hard I studied, I could not make it back to zero.

Eventually, I approached him and tried to diplomatically point out how unfair his grading system was. His helpful response was: “Quod Licet Jovi, Non Licet Bovi.” (What is permitted of Jupiter is not permitted of an ox.)

When I showed Rabbi Weinbach my tests, he started rubbing his forehead with his thumb and index finger. He asked me if I had discussed this with my teacher. I reported our dialogue. He rubbed faster. Finally, he asked me if I would accept 85 as my grade. I nodded. (In retrospect, I should have held out for 95. I wasn’t a very good negotiator then.) My next eight report cards had my negative Latin grade in red ink, with 85 in blue ink marked over.

My last office visit with Rabbi Weinbach occurred in the spring of 1967.

Our Rebbe had, weeks earlier, assigned each of us a page of Talmud to study, prepare and present to the class. We had no idea when this would start, or who would go first. One day, an hour before class ended, he unexpectedly called upon Ephraim Love.

Seated a few rows behind Effie, I could not see his face, but I noticed his ears flush. His voice was hesitant as he read the first two words: “Tonu Rabbanon.”

He then paused. It was clear that he, like most of us, was totally unprepared. It was only when the Rebbe looked up at him that he finally translated: “The rabbis ask.”

He paused again. Rebbe looked up at him again. He continued: “In actuality, the literal translation is ‘ask the rabbis.’ Why is it phrased that way? Why does the verb precede the noun? What is the Talmud trying to tell us with these two words? Is it suggesting that the function of rabbis is to ask? Is it telling us that the questions might be as important, or perhaps even more important, than the answers? It behooves us to focus on this important issue. Does anyone have any thoughts that they would like to share?”

Effie’s voice was now strong and confident. It was apparent that Effie, a future politician, was attempting to filibuster until class was over.

Rebbe was not pleased. He said: “Veiter” (Yiddish for “forward” i.e. proceed, go on.)

Effie however, like any good politician, was determined to stay on message: “Why is it the rabbis, plural, who ask? Surely, they were not asking the exact same question, in the exact same words, in unison. Surely, it was one rabbi who had the question, and perhaps the others agreed with the question. Why not identify the rabbi who had the question? Does he not deserve credit for the question? Is this to teach us that the message is more important than the speaker? Is this to teach us humility?”

Rebbe was losing his patience. He banged his hand on his desk: “Love, veiter!”

Effie would not be dissuaded: “Is it possible that it was, in fact, the rabbi who asked the question himself who did not want to be identified? Is it possible that he realized there was greater honor in being identified as part of this prestigious group, rather than taking credit individually? Is this a message that is still relevant to us today? Does anyone have any thoughts on this important subject?”

Rebbe banged his hand again. He turned to us: “Can anyone explain what Love is doing? Can anyone explain why he won’t go past the first two words? Can anyone tell me how to get him to proceed further?”

Perhaps it was spring fever, perhaps it was senioritis, perhaps it was because we would be graduating shortly, perhaps it was sympathy for Effie; I raised my hand. Rebbe, and the rest of the class, looked at me disbelievingly. This was a rhetorical question; no one was supposed to answer.

Rebbe, with whom I had a good relationship, spread his hands disbelievingly, as if to say, what are you doing?

I smiled: “Rebbe, don’t you know?”

Rebbe shook his head, even more disbelievingly.

I stood up, spread my arms like a Las Vegas headliner, and started to sing The Supremes’ familiar lyrics: “ You can’t hurry love. No, you just have to wait. Love don’t come easy. It’s a game of give-and-take.”

I sent down to absolute silence and stunned looks. With two fingers, Rebbe motioned me to leave the room, which at that point I was relieved to do.

When Rabbi Weinbach saw me enter his office, he immediately, wordlessly started rubbing his forehead. He remained silent as I told him what happened, but his thumb and forefinger moved from his forehead to his lips. When I was done, without a word, he motioned me, with some urgency, to leave his office.

As I closed the door behind me, his secretary Naomi started to ask me what he had said, but we were interrupted by the sound of hysterical laughter from behind his door.

The spring of 1967 is now a half century ago, but I remained friendly with both Rebbe and Rabbi Weinbach for decades.

Some years before he passed away, Rabbi Weinbach had to have brain surgery at my hospital. (I was worried that he rubbing his forehead on all my visits to his office had caused it.) The outcome was perfect, but with surgery of this type, someone had to ascertain that there had been no deleterious impact on his cognitive functioning. I was honored that he asked me to do so.

We sat in his hospital room and spoke for over an hour. Within minutes, it was obvious that his thinking and memory were completely intact. Neither of us however wanted to end the conversation. We kept reminiscing until the neurosurgeon and the rabbi’s wife, Lee, finally interrupted us.

They looked at me, concerned with my verdict. Before I could say anything, Rabbi Weinbach grabbed my hand: “ This was the finest student in the history of MTA.”

I looked at them and said: “He’s psychotic.”

I so miss him, MTA and the spring of ‘67.

– Dr. Herschkopf ‘67, President of the NYU Bellevue Psychiatric Alumni, has written in literary, medical and news publications. This excerpt is from a forthcoming memoir.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


We Don't Change The Torah

I read  piece today on one of the silly anti-Jewish Jewish websites by a housewife from Cederhurst whose son came out [very unhappily] as a "gay". Her assertion is that that he is not a sinner even though he no longer keeps Torah and mitzvos [after learning at Hakotel and serving in the IDF - hey, I ALSO learned at Hakotel:-)] and will be having sex with other men. He can't help it and thus it is not his fault. According to her bio she enjoys cooking and listening to the Grateful Dead. 

I appreciate the sentiment of a Jewish mother who loves her son. My mother also seems to think that  I am one of the four greatest people on earth [together with my three siblings]. However, I would hope that if I was being sinful my mother would not write a blog post to the world telling everyone how great I am and that the Torah and rabbis are wrong for having a moral standard that counters my immorality [she wouldn't]. 

I wonder - If her son were molesting her grandchildren, would she be as accepting? "We support you in your decision to be a pedophile because you are very special and can't help yourself". Where do we draw the line? Why is behavior suddenly permitted because someone you love is inclined to it? Why should we discard 5,000 years of Jewish tradition because your son wants to sleep with other men?? Why do you write about this? Why are there idiotic remarks in the comment section supporting your nonsense? 

Of course a mother should love her child but we have come to a place in world history where there is no longer right or wrong, good or bad, male or female, Jew or goy etc. etc. Everything, everybody and every behavior is equal.

So I will be clear about it. A man may not sleep with a man [unless they are in different parts of the room and actually sleeping]. It is a SIN. Being attracted to a man doesn't permit it - even if it is hard to resist [I can't pretend to understand what such people feel and go through but their difficulties don't make it moral]. The Torah remains the immutable word of G-d. Even in Cederhurst and even if he served in the IDF. Housewives have no right to call for a change in the Torah - even if they like the Grateful Dead and can make a wicked potato kugel. House husbands have no such right either, nor does anybody including a prophet. We have been dying for the Torah from time immemorial and a poor, sad, unfortunate boy's sexual preference is not going to change it. 

It is too bad that he chose to reject the rest of the Torah as well. Just because he has chosen to do one type of aveirah doesn't mean that he has to do the rest. He can be 612 out of 613. He should speak to his Rabbeim in Hakotel. They would tell him that.      

I was debating whether to write this post because it is stating the obvious but the chilul Hashem of the sentiments of this boy's mother was painful so I felt a need to counter it. Plus, I didn't know that people still listened to the Grateful Dead.