Thursday, June 30, 2016

Know From Whom You Learn

About a week and a half ago I linked an article from anonymous "talmid chochom" who was matir a big aveirah. The article was replete with sources and tried [unsuccessfully] to be very convincing.

I am not 100 percent sure but I researched and it seems that the author is in fact a former yeshiva student who learned for many years and is now not religious. So please don't read anything he writes as it is forbidden to learn from such a person [knowledgable or bright as he may be - see Divrei Yatziv Yo"d 141 and Yabia Omer 7/19]. 

I am sorry for linking the article and I deleted it. 

Never A Waste Of Time

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Two Approaches To Fulfilling Mitzvos - Part 2

Continuing the thought from the previous post. The Rashi we mentioned has a huge תנא דמסייע in the Zohar Hakadosh [Parshas Kedoshim]:

דאשתכח בר נש בזווגא חד דכר ונוקבא ואתכוון לאתקדשא כדקא יאות. כדין הוא שלים ואקרי אחד בלא פגימו. בגיני כך בעי בר נש למהדי לאתתיה בההיא שעתא לזמנא לה ברעותא חדא עמיה. ויתכונון תרוייהו כחד לההיא מלה. וכד משתכחי תרוייהו כחד כדין כלא חד בנפשא ובגופא. בנפשא לאדבקא דא בדא ברעותא חדא. ובגופא כמה דאוליפנא דבר נש דלא נסיב הוא כמאן דאתפליג וכד מתחברן דכר ונוקבא כדין אתעבידו חד גופא אשתכח דאינהו חד נפשא וחד גופא ואקרי בר נש אחד כדין קב"ה שארי באחד ואפקיד רוחא דקדושה בההוא אחד. ואלין אקרון בנין דקב"ה כמה דאתמר. ובגיני כך קדושים תהיו כי קדוש אני יי' זכאין אינון ישראל דלא אוקים מלה דא באתר אחרא אלא ביה ממש דכתיב כי קדוש אני יי' לאתדבקא ביה        ולא באחרא ועלדא קדושים תהיו כי קדוש אני יי' אלקיכם

The Zohar Hakadosh is clear that Hashem dwells only when the couple is emotionally and physically united and bound together. [I don't translate the whole passage for various reasons]. 

Elsewhere [Parshas Vayikra] the Zohar Hakadosh says that only where there is simcha and desire are the couple similar to the Divine and His holy name is placed on them: 

"בשעתא דאזדווג בבת זוגיה באחדותא בחדוותא ברעותא ויפיק מניה ומנוקביה בן ובת, וכדין הוא בר נש שלים כגוונא דלעילא, ואשלים הוא לתתא כגוונא דשמא קדישא עלאה וכדין אתקרי שמא קדישא עלאה עליה".

There is much more....

Two Approaches To Fulfilling Mitzvos

לזכות הרב מרדכי גימפל בן חיה אביגיל שה' יוציאנו מאפילה לאורה ומשיעבוד לגאולה 

There are two ways to fulfill a mitzva. One way is to do so because it is written down that one must fulfill this mitzva. So a person does it. Even if it is performed with enthusiasm it is still being done because the text says so. This is much better than doing it for ulterior motives but still not [I believe] the ideal.

The ideal is to fulfill a mitzva because I want to do the mitzva. Example: Many of us eat breakfast. In fact the gemara says that we should eat breakfast. So what is our attitude towards our doughnut and coffee? Is it "The gemara says to eat so I am fulfilling the words of Chazal"? Or is it "I really enjoy my morning doughnut and coffee and when I eat it I am fulfilling the words of Chazal". Meaning, I naturally want to do this act anyway but since it is written in the gemara my intention is to eat in holiness in compliance with the words of our Sages. 

The latter way is the ideal. The Torah should not be a set of superimposed rules but something that flows from within.  

If I love my friend because there is a pasuk that commands us to do so then my love is lacking. I should love my friend naturally and deeply and think "I am fulfilling the mitzva of loving my friend and this is a sweet mitzva". 

There is a SHOCKING Rashi [נדה י"ז. ד"ה אונס אונס שינה]. He writes about the act of conjugal relations

"מתוך שהוא נאנס בשינה אינה מתאווה לה כל כך ומשמש לקיום מצות עונה בעלמא או לרצותה וקץ בה והוא מבני תשע  מדות דאמרו בנדרים כ,ב".

Since he is exceedingly tired he does not desire her so much and has relations JUST IN ORDER TO FULFILL THE MITZVA OF ONAH OR TO APPEASE HER and is disgusted by her, the children will be spiritually blemished [see Nedarim 20b בני תשע מדות]. 

This is a revolution and completely counter intuitive. One would think that specifically the mitzva of Onah should be fulfilled only because it is a mitzva with zero personal interest. Isn't that קדושה? Comes Rashi and says "No". If one's intention is JUST for the mitzva or to make her feel good then the children that result from this union will be blemished. There must be a natural element of desire. 

Of course, one should have this natural desire because Rashi says so. If Rashi would tell us to obliterate it and only have intention for the mitzva then we would do that as well. But now that Rashi tells us to to desire in a natural way - we must do that. 

This can be applied to all mitzvos. One could and should enjoy the intellectual pleasure of learning Torah while appreciating that by deeply thinking and analyzing with great interest - he is immersing himself in the word of Hashem, fulfilling His will and sanctifying himself. But if he just learns because the Shulchan Aruch says that one must - he is missing out on a complete fulfillment of the mitzva. 

There is MUCH MORE to say - maybe for another time....

The Sad And Tragic Suicide Of A Formerly Chasidic Woman

A lot of people are talking about the 50 year old mother of 7 girls who decided a number of years ago to abandon Torah observance and recently committed suicide. Some thoughts... 

First of all, the entire story from beginning to end is a tragedy. 

Second, it is worth noting that it is quite common for people who went off the derech to commit suicide. There are statistics about this and the organizations that help these people adapt to a secular lifestyle are well aware of this phenomenon and are trying to figure out ways to end it.

There are obviously many reasons and each case is different but it is safe to say that very often a person goes off the derech due, in part, to emotional instability. It is NOT [and people hotly contest me on this but I am still convinced] because they found some hole in Judaism and Torah and decided that it is not true and went on their happy way. They might think this themselves but nobody has succeeded in furnishing ONE PROOF that G-d doesn't exist. In the absence of compelling logic there are obviously psychological factors involved as well. Since they are unstable from the outset, when they reach crisis proportions they take their lives רח"ל. 

One last point: Everything we do is in order to make our lives better. That is why we go to work, go to the dentist, get married, have children, buy [or more commonly - lease] a car, buy a house, eat lunch etc. etc. 

When someone involves himself in a life of crime on some level he believes that this will make his life better. He thinks that if he robs a bank then he will have lots of money and be happy. But the reality is that crime doesn't pay and in the end he lives in fear, ultimately gets caught and lands in jail. 

A man thinks that if he has an affair it will make him happy but then he gets caught [almost everybody does at the end] and loses - his wife, children, home, and many other things. It just doesn't pay [besides being an aveirah].

I have seen MANY people go off the derech, some of whom I know intimately and deeply. I have yet to meet a person who is HAPPIER after he abandons observance. Are there such people? Maybe. But my experience has been that people are always less happy afterwards. Now they can finally watch movies [even on Shabbos] or wear jeans and no kippah or a short skirt [רח"ל] but it is not really such a thrill after a while. What do they lose? Almost EVERYTHING. They lose their families [as did the recent suicide], their meaning in life, the many pleasures that organized religion affords [such as a solid communal structure, smachot etc. etc.] and much more.

That can also lead a person to suicide. 

I have known many many people who abandoned their secular lifestyle to become religious and all of them were much happier after becoming observant than before. Why? Because now they have meaning, a solid community, build large families which are a source of great nachas and have a structure than consistently gives them pleasure - Shabbos, Yom Tov, Smachot, learning, davening, singing etc. etc. 

To summarize: People go off the derech very often thinking that things will be better for them on the other side but all too often are severely disappointed. There is almost NO GRASS on the other side. Yes, being secular means that one need not control his lusts and desires, he may eat what he wants when he wants, he may dress as he pleases and much more, but the human spirit doesn't need that that in order to be happy. On the contrary, a life without authentic meaning is quite depressive for anybody who thinks about it.

I conclude with a quote from a 20th Century Jewish thinker:

When man abandons G-d, G-d is not alone. 

Man is.

The Gift of An Able Body

I have a friend. He was a huge talmid chochom and masmid. He was always learning and wrote many sefarim. He loved to teach and to speak. He would daven and daven and daven - last guy in shul. He has a very large family. He is not an old man but his body is wracked with disease and he is a shell of the man he once was - vibrant, alive, filled with simcha and enthusiasm. Now he can barely walk or talk. 

To see him is to be heartbroken. 


1] Take advantage of you health if you have it. It doesn't last forever. Do lots of mitzvos and thank Hashem with every breath. 

2] We aren't in chage of ANYTHING. As long as Hashem gives it we have it - the moment He deems fit to take it away it is GONE. 

3] Complain less about your tzaros. They could be much worse. 

4] Always remember that no matter how much success you have in this world - at that very moment many people are suffering. 

5] At the end all that really matters is the good that you did with your life. Try to do thing about which people will talk glowingly and be inspired by after you go. I have never heard anyone say at a shiva home: "Moish was so special. He could down 3 hefty portions of spaghetti and meatballs and still have planty of room for dessert". Or "Yocheved loved fancy hotels. She must have spent a third of her life in them". 

We Want More!

לזכות לאה אסתר בת פרימט לזרעא חייא וקיימא!

Imagine you had a job that paid $4,000 an hour [which is EXACTLY $4,000 more than I make in an hour, so appreciate it]. 

The work day ended and today you earned enough to take your family away for Pesach. But you are not completely satisfied. You want to finish paying your mortgage. You figure that with 25 hours of overtime - the mortgage is paid off [besides the capital you are earning - that pays for the basics like bread, water, jewellery for your wife and of course the greatest expense - nursery school tuition]. So you approach your boss and say "Maybe there is more work to do??"

That was what the Jews said at Har Sinai. "נעשה ונשמע". We will do whatever you tell us. נעשה. But after we are finished we want ot hear MORE. We love being Jewish!!! We love Tachanun, especially the long one on Monday and Thursday. We say extra tehillim every day because the standard davening doesn't suffice for us. We learn our daf-yomi - but with Tosfos too. We ALWAYS want more. נשמע. Let's hear more!!!

[עפ"י שפ"א משפטים עמ' 121]