Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy 100th

Mrs. Geula Rafael [better known by her pen name Geula Bat Yehuda] is the daughter of Rav Yehuda Leib Maimon, Mizrachi activist, the first minister of religion in the State Of Israel and a very prolific author and talmid chochom. He had a library of about 40 thousand sefarim [he LOVED sefarim] and you can see it for yourself if you go to the Mossad HaRav Kook building across from the Central Bus station in Yerushalayim. We have to thank him and his son in law Dr. Yitzchak Rafael [he studied at JTS but was frum. JTS was different back then...] for the great publishing house "Mossad Harav Kook". Mrs. Rafael is also a very prolific author. She recently celebrated her hundreth birthday!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!:-) BARUCH HASHEM she had one son, Rav Shiloh ztz"l, who was a great talmid chochom and he raised a family and had children and and grandchildren going בדרכי אבות!

Here is where she describes her father hearing of her birth. 

How Rav Moshe Wrote His Tshuvos

One contemporary Rav [ztz"l] who is famous for his "tape recorder" approach to psak [that is negated by Rav Shulzinger in the above passage] argued that one cannot decide a halacha unless one sees what everybody else said about it. Maybe they have a svara to permit or forbid that the posek didn't think of! You can't think of EVERYTHING yourself and therefore it is necessary to SEE everyone else INSIDE [and not rely on hearsay or quotations from other sefarim] and then DECIDE based on various factors what the halacha should be. 

That would be his answer to Rav Abramsky's critique ודו"ק. Rav Moshe, famously, did not abide by that approach. He bases his psak on the rishonim and a few major acharonim and that's it. 

Celebrating Conflict

לזכות ר' דרור דוד בן שרה וכל משפחתו לברכה והצלחה בכל מעשי ידיהם

We might very well assume that it would be better if there was no conflict in Klal Yisrael. Why can't we just agree on everything??!!!

But read this:

So we see that conflict is a boon to creativity. Therefore, we CELEBRATE conflict!!! 

Sounds so pluralistic!! Well, we are talking about those views that are within the spectrum of what is permitted and not heretical, non-traditional views. But once we are talking about valid Torah-based opinions then conflict is great!!

That would explain why we pasken like the Bavli over the Yerushalmi. In the Bavli there is a lot more conflict and give and take. The Yerushalmi is clear, concise and to the point. We prefer the arguers!! [See Maharal Nesiv Hatorah 13 who makes this point]. 

This would also be a lesson for marriage. We don't aim for marriages that are free of conflict. Such marriages don't exist [unless one or both of the spouses are brain dead]. We embrace differences of opinion. The question though is HOW one argues. Are the arguments acerbic, abrasive and caustic [to use 3 words whose meanings I don't know] in order to get your way or show that you are right? Or is the goal to get to the truth and to fulfill the ratzon Hashem?

The litmus test is whether the outcome is אוהבים זה את זה or not.

ויש להאריך!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why the Jealousy?

This Shabbos I was thinking and hearing a lot about the middah of קנאה - jealousy. It was Parshas Korach which teaches that jealousy, LITERALLY, takes one out of the world [as per the mishna הקנאה והתאוה והכבוד מוציאים את האדם מן העולם]. Interestingly enough, I found that at those times when I wasn't eating-sleeping-learning-or davening, I found myself being ... jealous. In those areas that are very important for me to be a success, I look around and see lots of people doing far better than me. Then that pernicious feeling rares its ugly head. I will assume you are never jealous but since you know people who are [like me] I would like to expand. 

Why?? What are the deeper psychological reasons that people harbor such damaging feelings of jealousy? 

Here are a few:

1] A person is dissatisfied with his or her life.

Imagine a chosson [I'm a guy. If you aren't you can imagine a kalla]: He is watching as his beautiful bride whom he is so crazy for is being escorted to the Chuppah. They are playing that soft, sweet chuppah music. In moments - they will create a bond that will unite them forever. But first - he will put a ring on her finger, answer amen to some brachos, and have a wild party with his family and friends for a few hours. Then what they call in Hebrew עת דודים. Then a week of sheva brachos. Then a lifetime and eternity with his beloved. He is in the clouds. Does he look at one of the guests at that moment and notice that he has a really nice gold watch and think - "Oh man, I wish I had that guys watch"? Or he sees the photographer [the third most important person at any wedding] and says "That is a really nice tie he is wearing. I want that guy's tie!!"


If we are jealous is because we feel lacking in our present circumstances. 

2] We don't love the other person enough. If we loved the other person enough we would be THRILLED at what he has and not be focused on the fact that we lack. 

3] We love ourselves too much. That is why we project what the other person owns or has achieved back to ourselves. But it really has NOTHING to do with us. NOTHING. It is just excessive narcissism. 

4] We don't love and believe in Hashem enough. If we loved and believed in Hashem as we should, we would be very happy at how He gives things out. 

5] Narrow vision: If we knew what the other person is suffering from we wouldn't be jealous. And I promise you, that person is struggling in life. EVERYBODY is struggling. 

6] Distorted thinking: Many of us have a distorted perception of reality which cause us to see other people and situations in ways that don't reflect reality. Then we are jealous due to our imagination. 

There are other root causes as well. Knowing what causes jealousy will help us combat it. 

So I admit to suffering from this horrible middah. My consolation is that A] I admit it. B] I don't try to justify it. C] I am working to eradicate it. D] I am trying to take all of my beloved friends [who are also afflicted with this malaise] with me on the journey. 


Explaining The Sharp Way The Raavad Argues With the Rambam

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Korach- The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall

Shaaalllommmmm sweeeeteest friends!!!!!

This Dvar Torah is dedicated to a Tzadik Nistar who is beyond kind. He knows who he is and so does Hashem. May he and his family have only bracha and chesed all of the days of their lives.  

In this weeks parsha we read about the great machlokes with Korach and his cronies. You know - it is lonely at the top!!! People attack you from ALL SIDES. In Moshe Rabbeinu's time he didn't even have a twitter account to answer all of his detractors and accusers.... 

The pasuk says [16/4] וישמע משה ויפל על פניו - Moshe heard and fell on his face. What did he hear? Chazal say that he heard that people were accusing him of being with their wives. They wanted to test their wives with the Sotah waters to see if their suspicions were valid!!

MOSHE RABBEINU!! A man who separated from his own wife because of his high level of prophecy. A man who went 40 days and 40 nights without bread and water [and even cake!!]. A man who spoke "face to face' with G-d. How can it be??? Sleeping with married women?? UNTHINKABLE! How could they even accuse him of such a dastardly deed??

Rav Charlap explains that היא הנותנת - his greatness was exactly the source of their suspicions. The greater a person is the lower he is liable to fall. The Jews are compared to the stars and to the dust of the earth. When we are high - nobody is higher. We get HIGH, MAN!! The highest. The stars. But when we sink low - nobody goes lower. We are so low we can play handball on the curb. 

So the Jews figured - if Moshe is that great that means he also has the capacity to sink the lowest. That was why they suspected him of the worst.

There is a HUUUUGE lesson here for all of us. We tend to feel secure in our talents and areas of expertise and success and only are concerned with our areas of weakness. But we have to remember - sometimes it is our greatest strengths that can be our downfalls. I can tell you personally that my greatest strengths have another side that also make them very big liabilities. I am happy I have them but also have to be constantly wary of the down side. 

So look at your strengths and try to discern how they also have another less glorious side to them. Then try to use them only for the good without the negative part. 

So for example: If you are very smart - sometimes we are required to suspend our intellect, as when we try to figure out tragedy. Depending solely on one's intellect can lead one to dangerous places. Also, some very smart people neglect to develop their emotional side.

If you are very good at making money - remember that greed often overtakes people or they get so involved in the excitement of making more and more that they neglect other parts of life that are no less important.

And the list goes on and on. I can't do psychotherapy over an email but you get the point.

Of course Moshe was innocent of all charges and may we also be pure and innocent in all of our doings. 

With much love and wishes for a GREAT Shabbos and gut chodesh,


You Never Know

Something once happened to me that I thought may be the worst thing EVER. It turns out that it was [not THE best but] one of the BEST things that ever happened to me. 

Something else happened that at the time I was SURE that this is about the best thing possible. As good as I thought it would be - it was that bad.  

Another thing happened that was GREAATT for a long time but when it was over then it HURT [and still does]. 

The message: 

A] Don't worry. We NEVER know how things will work out and worrying never helps.

B] Let Hashem run the show. We have little control. All we can control are our feelings and to a certain extent, our actions. The results and outcomes are completely in His hands. Let go and let G-d.    
C] Nothing lasts forever. [Except Hashem, your neshama and maasim tovim].