Thursday, December 18, 2014

Video You Shouldn't Miss

Chanuka is a good time to hear about chinuch.... here.

Hearing Vs. Seeing

by Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg, Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavne - Shabbat Bi-shabato

"And Yosef said to Pharaoh, G-d told Pharaoh what He is doing... G-d showed Pharaoh what He is doing" [Bereishit 41:25,28]. Rashi comments: "In the seven good years G-d told Pharaoh, because He was close by. And in the seven bad years He showed Pharaoh, because He was very far away and the correct verb is to show." Rashi is teaching us that for a simple and nearby thing talk is sufficient but for a faraway and exalted object hearing is not enough, and it is necessary to see.
On Purim the miracle of salvation was plain for all to see. Haman wanted "to destroy, to kill, and to eradicate" [Esther 3:13]. But things "were turned around" [9:1], and the Jews were saved from death and allowed to live. The miracle was clear and definite, and therefore reading out loud is enough. The mitzva of the day is to read the Megillah, while most of the people listen attentively and pay close attention. On Chanukah, the mitzva involves looking – "We do not have permission to use the lamps, only to look at them" [prayer after lighting the Menorah]. "One who sees a Chanukah lamp must recite a blessing" [Succah 44a].
The struggle between Yisrael and Greece was not for the bodies of the Jews but for their spirit. Rav Kook wrote, "The root of the miracle of Chanukah was meant to show the unique merits of the Holy Spirit which exists within Yisrael, and the fact that this is the basis for the physical existence but does not depend on it." And that is why the miracle occurred with the oil and not with the Menorah [which was defiled], and why the people at the time used a Menorah made of iron. In material things it is possible at a time of dire need to "make do" with a modest fulfillment of the goals. This is not true for the oil, the spirit, which must be at its best possible state.
To understand this principle is not an easy task. Why don't people in general base their lives on the spirit? "Only an erroneous illusion views exalted nobility in a desolate way and sees all the agitation of life as being settled and built-up, but this is one of the most comtempt falsehoods in the world." [Orot Hakodesh, volume 2, 310]. The physical world appears to us to be stable and more massive than the spiritual and abstract world. It is therefore necessary to expend a lot of energy to convince us that the spiritual world is the essence of existence.
What the Greeks saw as most important was a culture of materialism, the external view, and the human body. Therefore, they said, "Write on the horn of an ox, 'We have no part in the G-d of Yisrael" [Bereishit Rabba 4]. The ox is a symbol of Yosef – "Glory will come to the firstborn of his ox" [Devarim 33:17]. Yosef represents the external side of things. He knows seventy languages, he masters the economy, he curls his hair. Greece wanted everybody to be just like him. They wanted the people to follow the path of Yosef, basing their lives on the material and not the spiritual. The victory of Yisrael over Greece is a victory of light over darkness, of the spirit over the material. To extol this event by telling and listening is not enough, it is necessary to incorporate the sense of sight. And therefore the mitzva of the holiday is to light the lamps and look at them.
This concept appears in the Haftarah that is read for Chanukah. The prophet wants to strengthen the recognition that "not by the military or by strength but only through My spirit, that is what G-d says" [Zecharia 4:6]. In order to do this, it is necessary to show a vision of the Menorah, and it would not have been enough to tell the prophet about it. He must be able to say, "I saw a Menorah of pure gold... And He said to me, What do you see?" [4:2]. Since the matter is "far away and exalted," just hearing about the events is not enough.

The Barking Foe - חשד And כבתה

Regarding the previous two posts, I received a communication from Rabbi David Silverberg that ....

A] The צר המנבח can be the yetzer hara [Rav Shlomo Fischer Shlita] or Amalek [many others - sources are marshaled for both assertions]. After they are discarded אז אגמור בשיר מזמור חנוכת המזבח - the third beis hamikdash will be rebuilt.

B]   The Sha'arei Teshuva (673:12) cites a ruling from the Shevut Yaakov (3:48) whereby this halakha has application even in cases of a house with but a single entranceway.  The Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 673:2) rules that if one's Chanukah candles were extinguished before they had burned for the minimum required duration, one is not required to rekindle them (provided that they had initially been lit with enough oil or wax to burn for the minimum duration).  The Shevut Yaakov claims that while one need not rekindle the candles in such a case, he must leave the candles near the entranceway until the minimum required period has passed, so as to avoid suspicion.  In his view, just as the Sages required lighting candles in all entranceways to avoid suspicion, so did they require leaving the remnants of one's candles after they have been extinguished, lest pedestrians mistakenly conclude that the individual has neglected the mitzva.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (as cited in Halikhot Shelomo) disputed this ruling of the Shevut Yaakov.  He understood this requirement to light at a second entranceway as applying only at the time of lighting itself.  The obligation of Chanukah candles requires pirsumei nisa, publicizing the miracle, and for this reason one must light in a manner that achieves the greatest publicity and avoids any possible impression that candles were not kindled.  Chazal required lighting in the second entrance as part of the obligation of pirsumei nisa, which applies only at the time of lighting, and not thereafter.  Hence, one is not bound by this halakha once he had already lit the candles, even if they were prematurely extinguished.

Rav Shlomo Zalman suggesting applying this theory concerning the requirement to light by the second entrance to resolve a difficulty raised by the Beit Yosef (O.C. 671:8).  The Gemara in Masekhet Berakhot (8a, 61b) establishes that one should not pass in front of an entrance to a synagogue during services without stepping inside, as this gives the appearance of disinterest in participating in the service.  If, however, the synagogue has several entrances, one may pass by an entrance, as people will grant him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he will be entering through a different entrance.  Why, the Beit Yosef asks, do we not apply the same rationale in the context of Chanukah candles?  Why do we not trust that people will assume the individual has lit Chanukah candles by the second entrance?

Apparently, the halakha concerning Chanukah candles differs because of the interest in achieving maximum pirsumei nisa.  Even though most people would give the benefit of the doubt, as we assume in the case of walking past a synagogue, the prospect of some pedestrians entertaining fleeting suspicions regarding the individual's candle lighting suffices to mandate lighting in the second entrance.  Since this requirement stems from the strict demands of pirsumei nisa, we are more rigorous in insisting upon avoiding misperceptions than in other similar contexts, such as passing by a synagogue during prayers.

Yes חשד Or No חשד?

The gemara says that if one has two entrances to his courtyard, he must light in both of them for if he lights in only one entrance, people who pass by the second entrance will [mistakenly] suspect him of not lighting. In order to prevent חשד - suspicion, we require him to light in both places. So we see that we are concerned with חשד - [mistaken] suspicion.

Why then is the halacha that כבתה אין זקוק לה - If the candles extinguish, he is not required to rekindle. Why not? What about the חשד of people who see an unlit menora?? 

Who Is Our Barking Foe??

In "Maoz Tzur" we say לעת תכין מטבח מצר המנבח - When You will have prepared the slaughter
for the barking foe.


מצר המנבח - כלומר "כלב". ראה דברי החיד"א ז"ל עה"פ [במדבר לב מב] "ויקרא לה נבח בשמו" שהמדבר לשון הרע מתגלגל בכלב. ואפשר לפרש כוונת הזמר כאן על פי המדרש ויקרא רבה סוף פל"ג ומובא ברש"י [קהלת ח, ב] על מאמר חנניה מישאל ועזריה לנבוכדנצר [דניאל ג טז] ואמרין למלכא נבוכדנצר, שאמרו לו, את מלכא עלינו במסים וארנוניות אבל על זה שאתה אומר לנו לעבוד עבודה זרה את נבוכדנצר את וכלבא שווין. ואיתא שם שמיד נבח נבוכדנצר ככלב עיין שם
ספר ברכת אברהם על חנוכה
So the "barking foe" is Nevuchadnezzar who was called a "dog" by Chananya Mishael and Azarya...

Monday, December 15, 2014


Rav Tzvi Moshe on Chanuka here.

Rav Shmulie's drasha for his son's bris, here. MAZELLL TOOOOVVV:-).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Good Vocabulary

90 year old Saul Epstein was taking an oral exam in his English as a Second Language course. He was asked to spell "cultivate," and he spelled it correctly. He was then asked to use the word in a sentence, and, with a big smile, responded:
"Last vinter on a very cold day, I vas vaiting for a bus, but it vas too cultivate, so I took the subvay home."