Sunday, July 5, 2015


A letter to the editor in a well known Jewish publication from אבי מורי שליט"א. Well said!


The French foreign minister had the gall to fly to Israel to impose a Franco/UN solution on the Palestinian- Israeli conflict (“Fabius offers new approach to Israeli-Palestinian talks,” June 22).

Has Laurent Fabius forgotten the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup of July 16/17, 1942, when 12,531 Jews were sent from this Paris stadium to a transit camp, starved and humiliated beyond imagination, and subsequently forced to board cattle cars, with the final destination Auschwitz? The only euphemism I can now conjure is the French designation collaborateur.

Monsieur Fabius would do better to muster forces to contain the radical Muslims now running amok through the streets of France, destroying the legacies of Voltaire, Musset and Hugo.

JULES EHRMAN, Jerusalem/Antwerp

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Sanctification Of The Mishkan - Part 1

לזכות עדינה בת שבע בת נעכא גיטל ברכה כל מעשי ידיה
Raba objected: All the vessels which Moshe made were consecrated by their anointing [משיחתן מקדשתן] ; thenceforth, their employment in the service dedicated them [עבודתן מחנכתן]. Now why? Let us say: so shall you make it — for future generations [by משיחה and not by עבודה ]?  [Answers the gemara] It is different there, for the pasuk says: And he anointed them and sanctified them וימשחם ויקדש אותם   — ‘them’ he anointed; but [vessels] in 
future generations [are] not [consecrated] by anointing.
But you may say: ‘them’ he anointed; but [vessels] in future generations [may be consecrated] either by anointing or by employment in the service? — R. Papa said: The pasuk says [And they shall take all the vessels of ministry,] wherewith

they minister in the sanctuary כלי שרת אשר ישרתו בם בקודש ; the verse makes them dependent upon ministry - תלאן הכתוב בשירות.
Now that the pasuk has written ‘wherewith they minister’ [that we consecrate by משיחה and not by עבודה] , why do we require ‘them’ [to teach the same thing]? — If the pasuk had not written
‘them’, I might have said: these [in the time of Moshe] were [consecrated] by anointing [only], but
[vessels] in future generations [require both] anointing and employment in service, for the pasuk has
written so shall you make it; therefore the pasuk limits [by writing] ‘them’ — them by anointing, but not [vessels] in future generations by anointing. [Shvuos 15a]
We see from the gemara that Rava asked - If you learn from וכן תעשו that all עשיה of the mishkan and mikdash for the generations has to be like the mishkan that Moshe made, why does the braisa say that the making of the כלים for the generations doesn't need משיחה like the כלים made by Moshe? Asked Tosfos - Why does Rava ask from the כלים - he should have asked from the mishkan itself which was anointed when made by Moshe while לדורות the Mikdash wasn't anointed?? Tosfos leaves the question unanswered ["bleibs shver" in Hungarian].
The Maharsha explained that this is not just a question on the question of the gemara - it is a question that applies even independent of the gemara's question. Why doesn't the Mikdash require משיחה from the pasuk of וכן תעשו? Even after we learn the מיעוט of אותם, we only exclude כלים במשיחה but not anything else. So why wasn't the Mikdash consecrated with משיחה?
Another question asked by Tosfos [ד"ה וכן תעשו]: Why don't we derive from וכן תעשו - לדורות that the קידוש הכלים requires 71 חכמי סנהדרין as it did in the time of Moshe? 
IY"H more to come....

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Loolei Torascha Shaashuai" - The Power Of Music

R' Shlomo Carlebach was a student in Lakewood. He came to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Aharon Kotler, and told him that he wanted to leave yeshiva and do kiruv through music. The Rosh Yeshiva asked him to sing a song. On the spot he composed and sang his famous לולא תורתך שעשועי.

Some time later there was a sheva brachos that R' Shlomo attended. Rav Aharon said that he didn't want to come in if R' Shlomo was there [I guess he wasn't happy about the move...]. R' Shlomo offered to leave. Rav Aharon said that he could stay provided that he doesn't sing. People shouldn't think that music is equal to Torah.

Before bentching Rav Aharon asked R' Shlomo if he could sing לולא תורתך once again....

[Told by Rav Yaakov Shapira in his weekly sicha Parshas Balak. He added the following anecdote: פעם למד בישיבה דודי ר' שמואל, שידע את מה שצריך לדעת ישר והפוך, והרצי"ה אמר לו שלא ילך לדיינות, כי הוא צריך להישאר בלימוד כמה שיותר שנים. בסוף הוא כן נעשה דיין, והוא מאוד אהב את השיר "לולי תורתך". בשנתיים האחרונות לחייו היה לו אירוע קשה והוא היה מחובר לצינורות ולא היה אפשר לתקשר איתו, אך כשבני המשפחה שרו לידו את השיר "לולי תורתך" היו זולגות דמעות מעיניו, והרופאים אמרו שהם לא יודעים כיצד להסביר את זה].

Ultimate Greed


Rabbi Zweig from
    "his houseful of silver and gold..." (22:18)
In this week's parsha, Balak, the King of Moav sends high-ranking officials to commission Balaam to curse the Jewish people. Hashem appears to Balaam and tells him not to go. Balaam's response to Balak's officials is: "If Balak would give me his household of silver and gold, I could not transgress the word of Hashem." Our Sages see in this response the corrupt nature of Balaam's character. Rashi explains that by mentioning a houseful of gold and silver, he reveals his greed (as if to say that if he were able to transgress the word of Hashem, he would, but only for a huge sum of money).Many of the commentaries attempt to differentiate between the statement of Balaam and that of Rabbi Yossi Ben Kismah in Pirkei Avos. Rabbi Yossi Ben Kismah relates the story of how he was invited to leave the city of his residence, a city renowned for its Torah scholars, in order to join a different city which was devoid of Torah. His response to the invitation was, "If you give me all the gold and silver and precious gems in the world, I will not leave my city of accomplished Torah scholars." How is this response different than Balaam's?  One could, perhaps, say the difference is the following: Balaam was more specific in his request for the net value of Balak's estate, indicating his true desire, while Rabbi Yossi Ben Kismah did not quote a definite amount of money. However, this would create a new difficulty after with a statement made by King David in the Book of Psalms. There, King David affirms his love for the Torah with the verse, "Your Torah is more valuable to me than thousands of gold and silver (pieces)." Clearly, from specifying an amount does not indicate greed. The answer lies in the careful reading of Rashi. Rashi says that from the verse we see the corrupt nature of Balaam's character, for he desired the wealth of others. Rashi explains that Balaam's wickedness is revealed by his focus on the wealth of Balak, rather than the mere mention of money. The desire for greater wealth is intrinsic to human nature. However, it is of wicked nature to specifically desire to possess that which is owned by another.  In Control (17th of Tammuz)
    "On the seventeenth of Tammuz the Tablets were broken" (Ta'anis 26a)
Five calamities occurred on the seventeenth of Tammuz. The first of these calamities is recorded in the Torah. Upon descending the mountain after having received the Decalogue, Moshe witnessed Bnei Yisroel celebrating the creation of the golden calf and he shattered the Tablets.[1] The verse describes the Tablets as "charus" - "engraved".[2] The Mishna states that the word "charus" can also be read as "cheirus" - "freedom", for only the study of Torah brings true freedom.[3] Therefore, the breaking of the Tablets reflects a loss of freedom for the Jewish people.[4] What is the difference between the secular definition of freedom and that of the Torah? How do we reconcile the "pshat", the straightforward reading of the text as "charus" - "engraved", with the "derush", the homiletic interpretation as "cheirus" - "freedom"?  Freedom is often defined as our right or privilege to act or express ourselves without coercion in whichever manner we desire. The Torah's definition of freedom is cognizant of the fact that very often we behave in a manner which hides under the guise of freedom of expression, yet in reality we are submitting to coercive forces. Whether our actions are influenced by societal pressures or by our physical or emotional desires, these actions cannot be described as completely free from coercion. We ourselves are aware of the destructive nature of our actions but are helpless to overcome the deceptions of societal acceptance and self-gratification. The pursuit of Torah not only empowers the individual with the ability to overcome any coercive forces, but also removes the conflict that exists in the decision making process, synthesizing the individual's visceral sense to behave appropriately with his desires. Being bound by restrictions does not imply a lack of freedom; restrictions are not only ultimately for our benefit, but they prevent us from taking actions which we truly wish to avoid. The words of the Decalogue symbolize spirituality and the Tablets themselves, that which is physical. Had the Decalogue been described as ink which is scripted upon parchment, this would imply imposition of the words upon the Tablets. Chazal teach us that Hashem miraculously caused the letters of the Decalogue to suspend themselves within the Tablets. The Tablets wrapped themselves around the words, conforming to them.[5] This reflects the complimentary nature of the physical and the spiritual which can coexist without any conflict.  We all have a natural proclivity to behave in an appropriate manner. The Torah removes the impediments that mask our true feelings, breaking through the misconceptions and misguided value system which society creates for us.
1.Taanis 26a
2.Shemos 32:16
3.Avos 6:2
4.Eiruvin 54a
5.Megilla 2b

Balak - Holy Tents

From an email that is circulating.
This Dvar Torah is dedicated to my most beloved friend Moshe Yehuda ben Pesha Dina. KB"H should shower upon him and his family, limitless blessings in all areas of their lives.

How To See Holy Visions

The Medrash [Psikta on the pasuk והיה מדי חודש בחודשו וכו' יבואו כל בשר להשתחוות לפני אמר השם] says that the best way to "see the face of the King" is to overcome one's evil inclinations and particularly guard one's eyes..
The angels were not worthy of receiving the Torah because they don't have battles with more base and fleshy desires [see Shabbos 88]. The secret of human greatness lies in our ability to withstand temptation and trials. If we can keep our eyes pure and not look at  things we shouldn't see, our eyes will be able to envisage the מלך ביופיו תחזינה עיניך - beauty of the King [Yeshaya 33/17]. There are so many images out there that are begging for our attention and the task of mankind is only to see what is necessary for the service of the Ribbono Shel Olam.

Pischu Li Shaarei Tzedek
There are two ways that Hashem "opens" his gates of spirituality to man. One is when we open up a little - He reciprocates in a big way [פתחו לי פתח של מחט ואני אפתח לכם כפתחו של אולם- See Makkos 10 and Shir Hashirim Rabba 5/2].
The greater level which earns us a far greater, UNLIMITED, Divine "opening" is when we "keep our eyes at home" [as my ninth grade English teacher used to say during tests when the great "baalei chesed" in the class would "help" the weaker students....] and thereby achieve purity and holiness. This is what the pasuk calls ועוצם עיניו מראות ברע [See Bava Basra 58].
Yaakov was called an איש תם יושב אהלים - He was a pure tents dweller. The pasuk says אהלים in the plural [not because the Torah is chas vi-shalom pluralistic...] because it refers to two types of tents. One is that the tent hides a person's good deeds from others. צניעות. Not everyone has to know what a tzadik you are. And number 2 - To avoid looking at all of the bad things out there that contaminate the eyes and the soul. Yaakov was a יושב אהלים.
That is what Bilaam meant when he said מה טובו אהליך יעקב - How GOODLY are thy tents O Yaakov!! AZOI SHEYN!!! So puuuureeee!!

As Rashi says ראה שאין פתחיהם מכוונים זה מול זה - Their "openings" weren't angled opposite one another. Meaning [on a deeper level] that the openings that the Jews made to merit Divine bounty were not positioned in such a way that we "opened up" with a little of our own enthusiasm and desire for Divine closeness and corresponding to that Hashem opened up in a big way.
NO! We did better. We were closed up in our tents [the pasuk says nothing about "openings" just about be ensconced in our tents] as Yaakov, hiding our good deeds and avoiding contact with the impurity that rages on the streets. That merits us the HIGHEST level of unlimited spiritual blessings.
מה טובו אהליך יעקב.
[Based on the Eretz Tzvi of the Kadosh HaRav Aryeh Tzvi Fromer ztz"l הי"ד]. 

We are in the midst of a "World War". Not a war with missiles and rockets but a spiritual war that has ramifications far beyond the confines our tiny, eensy weensy planet. The world cries out to us "LOOK AT ME". Come to my Facebook page. Click me a "like". "Friend" me. Look at the billboard on 42nd street. Check out that "Rebbetzin" who nebuch nebuch either forgot to get dressed that morning or just can't afford clothing. Every storefront window screams "Look at me!!" Come in and buy something that you don't need. Hotels advertise - "We will give you a week of Paradise. 24 hour fressing. Pretty girls everywhere. Mixed swimming ["heimish" - everybody in the pool is Jewish], golf course [someone once said that golf ruins a really enjoyable walk], entertainment [kosher of course - everyone watching the goyim perform is Jewish], and OF COURSE daily minyanim and daf yomi. SOOOO SPIRITUAL. If it wouldn't be the middle of the Californa or the Bahamas you would think that you are in Yerushalayim at the Kotel. And all for only 41,455 dollars [INCLUDING AIRFARE!!!] for one week. Why are you working so hard if not to spend it all on pleasures that your soul doesn't want and your body doesn't need. [Note from the editor/censor/writer: There is nothing wrong with taking a vacation - the question is where, why, how, with whom and at what cost. We are in favor of enjoying Hashem's blessings and as followers of the Baal Shem Tov don't preach abstinence].
People read this advertisement and it WORKS. "Josh", the woman says to her husband as she looks up from the ad on the Jewish Press on line, "this looks really good. Pesach in Egypt. They have a great program. I think the kids will really enjoy it. I mean - they are bored of Miami already. Wow! Jeep rides on the pyramids over chol hamoed. Better than Six Flags. Lets go!" And who can say no to his devoted faithful wife - so off they go. 50k and a day after Pesach later they are already planning the next one.
We are people of tents. We need not indulge in all the world has to offer.
What we CAN do [in the positive sense] is involve ourselves in mitzvos that nobody [or the fewest possible people] know about. This is the second aspect of the tent. We learn as much Torah as we can, we generously share of Hashem's money that He kindly deposited in our accounts with those less fortunate, we do chesed for those in need, we comfort widows, set up singles, invite the lonely to our homes for Shabbos meals and quietly lives lives of which Yaakov would be so proud.
In that merit we will certainly see the end of this bitter-bitter galus and no longer have to fast and mourn but rather live in a world of complete joy and bliss. The שכינה left because we expelled Her and by elevating ourselves and purifying out "tents" she will return. In fact, the mishkan, where the שכינה would dwell is called by the Torah an אהל. In the merit of our אהלים we will once again enjoy the presence of Hashem in His  אהל-  but this time forever.
A Shabbos of bliss!!
Love and blessings to all,

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Please Daven - For How Long?

Very often we hear of cholim and are asked to daven but don't receive updates as to their condition. Since it happens that the choleh no longer needs our tefillos [either because they healed or because they went to a place where there is no illness...] - should one still daven even if we don't know if the choleh is still a choleh? One problem is that it might be a תפילת שווא - a prayer for nought. Another is that if one mentions the choleh in the רפאנו bracha of shmone esrei and the person is no longer a choleh it would be a הפסק.

This is discussed in many sources and the consensus of the poskim is that one should still daven [and even mention the name during shmoneh esrei]. Praying for someone's life - even out of doubt - trumps all other factors.

That is the short of it. See among other sources the Ramat Rochel of the Tzitz Eliezer in Simman 18.

PS - Since רח"ל there are so many cholim I am not sure that it is practical to daven for every choleh עד ביאת גואל....  But we should be מתחזק in davening at least once for every choleh we hear about.

Simcha In Learning

From the archives .....

At the end of Parshas Balak we read that a Jewish man brought a non-Jewish woman close to him and they did what they did [OY VEY!]. The pasuk relates והמה בוכים פתח אוהל מועד they [the Jews] were crying at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Rashi says that they were crying because at the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe knew exactly what to do with the sinners but here he forgot what the halacha says to do when someone publicly has relations with a non-Jewish woman. Pinchas remembered the halacha and swiftly carried out their punishment.
Why is it important to note WHERE the Jews were crying, namely פתח אוהל מועד - at the entrance to the tent of meeting? It would have been enough to write that they were crying. Why is the location important?
The Maharsha [Sanhedrin 82a] explains that the אוהל מועד was the place from where the halacha would emerge. The Jews were crying because the halacha no longer came from this ohel moed.
When a person learns new things in Torah it gives him simcha. I used to have a chavrusa with a man in his 90's who had no wife or children and was basically all alone in the world for much of his life. I was constantly amazed to see how happy the learning made him. We were studying Bava Metzia which had no practical application to his life [he didn't own any fields which is what we were learning about...] but the learning gave him life, spirit and joy [and me too...].
We can suggest that BECAUSE the Jews were crying Moshe Rabbeinu forget the halacha. In order to think new, original Torah thoughts one must be bi-simcha [see Kiddushin 20a]. Otherwise the wellsprings of wisdom are sealed. The sadness of the Jews brought about a momentary inability for Moshe to tap into his personal data-base of Torah law and he simply forgot what to do when the act that was taking place before him transpires. Sadness dulls ones mind and memory to Torah which is an entity of simcha.
In order for a kohen to bless the Jewish people the Zohar says that he must be bi-simcha. Pinchas was the one who remembered the halacha, meaning that he was happy. Therefore, his reward was that he and his seed became Kohanim for all times [and bless the Jews with simcha].
Tisha b'av is time when we mourn because, according to our Rabbis, we cried a בכיה של חינם - we were sad for naught. The tikkun is to be happy for no special reason!!
The gemara says משנכנס אב ממעטים בשמחה which was translated by the Baal Shem Tov as "When we enter Av, we lessen our tzaros through simcha".
The yetzer hara tries to get us down. He will do ANYTHING. He will get us to feel guilty about our aveiros and even our mitzvos. He will put us in stressful situations and blow everything out of proportion. He will get us to read lots of websites with distressing news so that we will sink into a world of cynicism and depression. He will make us hate other people. It is really no holds barred for that shmendrick we call the yetzer hara.
Our job is not to succumb!! As we used to cry out during color war "WE - SHALL - NOT - BE - BEAT - WE - SHALL - NOT - BE - BEAT!!!" You have problems with your children? Everybody does!!:-) You have money issues? EVERYBODY I know has "issues" with money and I know quite a few multi -millionaires. Your shalom bayis isn't what you want? Welcome to a large club! Having trouble finding a shidduch? Hey - Yaakov Avinu didn't get married until he was a senior citizen!! LIFE IS TOUGH!!! That doesn't mean you should get down. Health issues? They ain't so many doctors for nothing. Sometimes I call for an appointment and the secretary is like "In four and a half months on Tuesday at 11:15". Hmmmm. Lots of sick people around. [Or the doctor enjoys looong vacations].
If we want to do a mitzva in memory of the holy souls of the three kedoshim - here is an idea....
Every day - make it your business to bring simcha into the lives of three people. It can be a phone call, an email, a kind word at work, a check, a small gift [if it's your wife - a big gift. She deserves it] anything to help people feel more simcha in our depressed-can't-sleep-without-alcohol-because-I'm-so-stressed-out-world. The pasuk says עז וחדוה במקומו - In G-d's place there is ONLY simcha.
An excerpt from the book "A Blaze In The Darkening Bloom" page 365 [Feldheim Publishers] about Rav Meyer Shapiro, in whose millions of daf yomi pages have been studied.
The hour of night grew later and later. On a piece of paper he asked that he be shown all the prescriptions which the doctors had written. When they were handed him, he went through them and selected the one for a preparation to cleanse the throat and the respiratory organs and he asked that a new supply be gotten for him. Every few minutes he kept washing his hands while his mind was obviously immersed in distant thoughts. The evident struggle that he had to make to draw breath was heartbreaking.
One could feel the frightful, racking agony that he had to undergo to try to get a bit of air into his lungs, and try as he would, he kept failing, because the channels were blocked.  On a piece of paper, her scrawled a request to be carried into another chamber that he designated by its number ("Room number so-and-so"). Interestingly, that room had two doors, each with the name of an organization that had contributed money toward its construction. One door bore the name of the Bikur Cholim society (for care of the sick) of Chicago; the other, of the Chesed Shel Emes Society (for proper Jewish burial) of St. Louis. When the transfer was accomplished, he asked for a change into a clean shirt and a fresh Talis Katan. Needless to say, his wishes were carried out.
But then his wife, the Rebbetzin, noticed a change in his countenance, and she began weeping emotionally. Rav Meir did his best to calm her, as he wrote the message, "Now the true Simcha begins"…  In a broken, barely legible scrawl he wrote, "Let everyone drink l'Chayim!" Some liquor was poured out into tiny glasses, and all who were there drank and wished him l'Chayim, "to life!" Then he shook hands with them all, one by one, holding each one's hand in his for a long time. And now he gave his instruction, "Make a Rikud (a little Chassidic dance) to the words, 'b'Cha Batchu Avoseinu' ("In You our fathers trusted, and You rescued them"; Tehilim 22:5). His wishes were obeyed: they joined hands, put hands on shoulders, and lifted their feet in rhythm as they sang the holy words to the melody they knew so well - the melody which he himself had composed.  It was clear that the end was approaching.
Into the great Shul the young scholars came streaming now to say Tehilim, to implore Heaven's mercy for him... [As he noticed some of the dancing students sobbing,] clearly and distinctly he pronounced two Yiddish words: "Nor b'Simcha" ("Only with joy!"); then he snapped his fingers -- and expired. He passed over and away and out of his body. And he was gone from us [at the age of 46, leaving no children].    
[Based, in part, on a talk given by the Tolna Rebbe Shlita - Seuda Shlishit 5768]