Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Bava Metzia 10b: Shlichus Of A Chatzer/ Natural Law


Mishlei 1-4: Dimyon And Seichel


Mishlei 1-4

 The importance of teaching Torah.


 People like to complain.

A waiter approaches a table where two yentas are sitting and says "is anything OK"? 

People complain about Trump, about Cuomo, about DeBlasio etc. etc.. In Israel, about Netanyahu, about Kupat Cholim, about LOTS of things. Things are TERRIBLE! [they say]. 

"Grunia" was the sister of Rav Meir Chodosh ztz"l. She lived under Communist rule for many decades. She once wrote in a letter that she didn't have an apartment to live in. The Communists, who used to intercept and read mail, didn't like it. They said that it was subversive to the cause. So she was sent to a Siberian labor camp for TEN YEARS [!!!!]. 

Fortunately, Stalin ימ"ש died five years into her sentence so she and many other innocent prisoners were freed. 

Historical perspective.

PS - In all of her years under the Communists she never ate unkosher and managed to somehow keep Shabbos and Jewish holidays and to daven. Her daughters, sadly, left home and left the faith. At least one of them came back B"H. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Sotah 2a: Machlokes Rashi-Rambam If The Tumah Witness Relates To The Stira Witnesses


Things To Remember Before Criticizing

I have spoken about this in the past but it is worth repeating. 

Before you criticize someone - remember: This person is going through a lot more than you know. What you say will make them feel bad not only about what you actually said but will also make them feel worse about the other things in life that they are suffering from. 

It is also worthwhile remembering that you might forget what you said a minute later. The subject of your criticism, however, might walk around with the hurt for weeks. Or months. He/she will probably get over it eventually but might never forget it completely and every time he remembers, your words will sting him anew. 

Also, remember that we are not Hashem's policemen. There is a mitzva of giving rebuke but there are very specific halachic parameters that must be adhered to. Otherwise. the rebuke is an aveira. הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשא עליו חטא.  

People care little about your accomplishments, talents, abilities, academic degrees and what you do with your life. People care primarily about how you make them feel. EVERYBODY wants to feel loved and accepted. So if you MUST say, don't forget to ALSO give the person lots of praise and appreciation for who they are and what they do. When someone only speaks up when they have something negative to say [which is very very often the case], it is hard to accept criticism from them. One of the conditions for giving rebuke is that the person will listen. So make sure they get lots of positive from you so that they listen when they get negative. 

We Don't Live In Czarist Russia

From a Rebbetzin:

Some brief thoughts:
1. The virus is once again out of control in our Orthodox communities and networks. We are in danger – and in denial.
2. We do not live in Czarist Russia. We live under the rule of law in a democratic republic. Our elected officials are neither our “friends” nor our “enemies.” They are people who have been elected by citizens to legislate and to implement and enforce the law. Orders and regulations are sometimes terrible policy, politically motivated, even unconstitutional; but they are not evil decrees or gezeiros meant to destroy us.
3. Public health is a real thing. It is a basic responsibility of government. It is not a conspiracy of people out to get you. It is not tyranny. It is not a violation of your civil rights.
4. The Jewish people have survived through terrible edicts and murderous regimes throughout our history. No current policies or actions of our local, state, or federal government are remotely comparable. Making hyperbolic statements comparing them is highly irresponsible, inflammatory, and frankly ludicrous.
5. It is generally our obligation – as Americans and as Jews – to obey the law and to follow the rules. This applies whether or not we agree with, approve of, or like the rules. We may certainly try to lobby, advocate, or even sue to change unjust or unwise laws; but until they do change, we are still bound by them.
6. We are not a special case; we do not deserve special treatment; we are not victims and thus excused from the rules; our votes do not count more or less than the votes of any other citizens; and throwing public tantrums does not change this. We are in golus. Let’s remember that.
7. If you choose to disobey the law – even on principle – you must be willing to accept the consequences. That is how civil disobedience works. It is a strategy for making change, not permission to do whatever you want and get angry when held accountable.
8. Covid-19 can be a terrible affliction, whether or not one dies from it r”l. There is no sure way to predict how intensely it will affect you. There is no known cure, and no vaccine is currently available. Its possible long-term effects on the brain, the lungs, and the heart are not yet known. Its possible long-term effects on children are not yet known. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize we should avoid catching it, we should avoid spreading it, we should try to stop it in its tracks.
9. Making it easy for a virus to infect you and those around you is not “heroic” or “brave” or “macho” or an expression of “resistance to tyranny” or even “bitachon.” It is foolish. It is reckless. It is negligent. It is selfish. It is “naarish.” It is a chilul haShem. We shouldn’t need the government to mandate this; the Agudah put out a Roadmap in the spring, the OU issued guidelines.
10. We are only as strong as our weakest link when it comes to this virus. Let us show HKBH that we are capable of caring about one another enough to be somewhat uncomfortable and that we actually prioritize tefila and limud haTorah enough to forego some enjoyments and conveniences. If the virus continues to spread – at simchas, at hakafos, inside restaurants or crowded supermarkets, in schools amongst children, rebbeim, and moros, it will be exceedingly difficult to avoid losing containment of the virus in our communities altogether. We could r”l be right back where we were in Nissan. We must not allow ourselves to forget the illness, suffering, and losses, l”a, endured by so many beloved mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and gedolei Torah.
We are in danger from a virus, not a politician. Let’s aim our energetic, passionate resistance in the right direction.