Thursday, May 26, 2016

הכל בחביבותא תליא

Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. - Franklin P. Jones
Rashbi said - Ha-kol bi-chavivusa talya
It is all about love

To Love And To Be Loved

To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides. - David Viscott

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tzniyus And Whatsapp

From Dixieyid based on a drasha of R' Weinberger

The greatest ideal in our lives is captured in one word found throughout our parshah– holiness. The Ramban (on Vayikrah 19:2) explains that the exhortation to be holy “because I am holy” “means that we merit to attach ourselves to Him when we are holy.” But what does it mean to be holy? As Rashi explains on the passuk, it means to be separate from sexual immorality and sin. At the beginning of the chapter calledShaar HaKedushah, Reishis Chochmah writes that holiness means “making a fence within a fence in order not to go outside.” What does this mean? Can it mean that it is G-d’s will that we always remain indoors?

Rav Yerucham Levovitz, zt”l, gives us a further insight into holiness by explaining, “‘You shall be holy’ means that we are commanded to be inner-focused people. Externality is the nature and essence of impurity.” We see that not going outside has nothing to do with staying indoors. For the majority of our history, most Jews have worked and done many of their activities outside. Holiness, not going outside, means something completely different: we must be deep people with rich inner lives.

The essence of exile and diaspora is not being in our place, in our true home. Why has it been Hashem’s will that we have not merited to live where we belong, in our national home where Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov dwelled 4,000 years ago? Moshe Rebbeinu asked himself this question when he saw his brothers enslaved in a foreign country (Rashi on Shmos 2:14).

According to the Midrash (Shmos Rabah 1:29), after Moshe killed the Egyptian, he looked around and saw that some Jewish people saw what happened. He said to them, “You are compared to sand. Just as [with regard to] sand, a person takes it from one place and places it somewhere where else and it makes no sound [during the transfer], so too this matter will remain hidden among you and it will not be heard.” Moshe assumed and expected that the Jewish people would be true to their nature and not reveal what he had done to the Egyptian.

But when he learned that certain Jews had circulated – “posted” – the secret, he said (Shmos 2:14) “The matter has become known.” The Midrash (Shmos Rabah 1:30) explains that Moshe understood why the Jewish people were in exile, outside their place, being persecuted by a strange nation: “There is lashon harah among them. How can they be worthy of redemption? ... Now I know why they are oppressed.” What is the essence of lashon harah? And why is exile and oppression its natural result?

A few pessukim after the commandment to be holy, Hashem tells us “Do not go tale-bearing among your nation” (Vayikra 19:16). The Rambam (Hilchos Deios 7:2) explains the nature and full impact of the prohibitions against lashon harah and tale-bearing – rechilus: “What is a tale-bearer? This is one who carries ‘merchandise,’ going from one person to another and saying, ‘Poloni said such-and-such.’ ‘I heard such-and-such about Ploni.’ Even though it is true, this destroys the world.”

Lashon harah and rechilus mean habitually revealing others’ secrets, speaking about things and people which are not their concern. Such a quality goes against the true nature of the Jewish people. We are deep people with powerful inner lives. That is why Moshe thought the Jewish people who witnessed his killing of the Egyptian thought they would keep it a secret.

People who have no inner life of their own have “no choice” but go outside of themselves and speak constantly about others. Redemption is when we have our own place. And exile is when we are outside of our true place. When the Jewish people go outside of their true place, their inner spiritual world, this manifests itself in exile – our removal from our physical place.

This focus on talking about externality, other people’s business, or other superficial matters, is the ultimate betrayal of the essence of the Jewish people. Moshe realized that this was why they were in exile. In fact, the Hebrew word for exile, galus – גלות, comes from the word לגלות – meaning “to expose.” When we jabber about others’ lives, exposing their private business, the natural result is exile. But after a couple of people revealed the fact that Moshe killed the Egyptian, the Jewish people learned their lesson and returned to their true nature. And this was the key to their redemption. How do we see this?

Most people are familiar with three things the Jewish people did that caused them to merit redemption (not changing their names, clothing, or language), but fewer know about the fourth one (Bamidbar Rabah 25:22): “They did not reveal their secrets." They returned to their true inner-focused natures. Once again, they began to live lives of “a fence within a fence,” not going outside of themselves to prattle endlessly about others’ lives.

There are two Jewish ideas that most young women returning from seminary would be content never hearing again: “the whole honor of the daughter of the King is inside” (Tehillim 45:14) and tznius – modesty. And while these ideas are often applied to sleeve lengths and hemlines, appropriate clothing is only the edge of the tip of the meaning of these concepts – which are applicable to both men and women.

Rav Yerucham explains tznius this way: “The secret of the idea of tznius is to be hidden, internal.” As we have already seen, this has nothing to do with remaining indoors and not going out into the street, though unfortunately many have misinterpreted the concept this way. The deeper meaning of “the whole honor of the daughter of the King is inside” is that we access holiness when we direct our attention to our inner life and away from things and people outside ourselves that do not truly concern us.

But what are these inner ideas with which we should occupy ourselves? How does one distinguish between superficial and essential concerns?

One deeper focus is the study of Torah. The Gemara (Sotah 49b) says, “What does the passuk (Shir HaShirim 7:2) mean, ‘the curves of your thighs?’ Why are the words of Torah compared to the thigh? To teach you that just as the thigh is hidden, so too the words of Torah are hidden.” What does it mean that the words of Torah are hidden? Isn’t sharing the Torah far and wide a great ideal?

The Gemara means that the words of Torah are called “hidden” because they are not superficial or external. They go to the heart of life. The more one is focuses on superficial things, the less he can focus on putting his full energy into understanding Hashem’s will as expressed through the Torah.

But maintaining a rich inner life has become a rarity. Today, in frum communities, everyone must discuss and have an opinion on whatever everyone else is doing. I heard this past week that at one Shabbos table, one person brought up the tragic decision by a newly married couple to get divorced. No one knew what truly happened, so everyone felt the need to express an opinion about why they were getting divorced. The women assumed that the young groom must have been a monstrous secret abuser. The men assumed that the wife must have been a wicked woman suffering from terrible and insufferable psychological problems.

But why must we discuss other people’s tragedies at all? What does it have to do with us? Do people even begin to think about the pain of the parents of this bride and groom, knowing that the whole world is talking about them? Do people consider how this talk and speculation destroys the lives of the young man and woman involved? Or how it affects the other relatives who are broken-hearted over this tragedy? Do we realize that we are destroying the world? Why must we prattle on, behind the guise of a concern for other Jews’ welfare, about other people’s business?

We live in a world where parents learn that their children are engaged only after the whole world has seen the 40 pictures they posted of themselves sitting inappropriately close to one another on a simchah website or Facebook. And who says it is a mitzvah to post every picture from their private simchah for the whole world to gaze at?

Why are our inner lives so empty that everyone must post every little thing that happens on their favorite WhatsApp group? “My baby had solid food for the first time today!” Following the big news, everyone feels like they would be callous and uncaring if they ignored this important announcement. “Wow!” “What a big baby!” “Congratulations!” “What did she eat?” The endless, pointless chatter goes on and on.

How much value do we really add to the world by talking with our friends or commenting somewhere online about the latest banality uttered by Hillary or Donald? Do we actually believe our political analysis on Twitter or Facebook will turn the tide of the election? The reason we become so obsessed with what is going on outside in the world is because our own inner life is completely barren.

But our nature as Jews is to bring out the depth and inner-focus with which we merited the redemption from Egypt. We can become holy and cling to G-d by turning away from focusing on what other people are saying or doing and turning our attention inward. We can set aside time to improve the quality of our davening or our motivations for doing the things we do. We can dedicate our attention to rectifying our own personal characteristics. In doing so, we begin to turn inward, working to become the people we want to during our one hundred and twenty years on this earth.

Let us consider how we can build fences within fences to separate ourselves from superficiality. Let us turn inward because Hashem is telling us that this is the way to access holiness. In the merit of our efforts to turn our focus and attention where they belong, may Hashem return his entire nation to where they belong, Eretz Yisroel, with the coming of Moshiach and the complete redemption, may it arrive very soon in our days!

Two Parts Of Sleep

לזכות רבי אהרן ישראל בן ר' משה מרדכי ורעייתו היקרה
ולזכות רבי יהודה יעקב בן דינה חאשע ורעייתו היקרה

Every day we thank Hashem who is מעביר שינה מעיני ותנומה מעפעפי - He removes sleep from my eyes and dozing from my eyelids. 

1] Why do we thank Hashem for BOTH removing SLEEP from our eyes and DOZING from our eyelids?

2] What are our eyelids only dozing while our eyes sleep?

When we sleep, two things happen. 

1] We process and work through the events of our days. It is a time to rest from the daily battles and to deal and react to our circumstances. If we wouldn't sleep and process - we would go nuts. 

2] We rest our weary physical bodies from life's daily toils.

The eyes are the window to the soul. It is true that when we sleep, all of our body sleeps but we emphasize our eyes because that denotes the spiritual and emotional part of ourselves that is resting. The spirit is much deeper than the body so it requires an actual deeper sleep [as opposed to the lesser dozing off]. 

The eyelids represent the PHYSICAL, bodily part of us that has dozed off. The eyelids protect the eyes so we mention specifically that part of the body which is closest to the spiritual aspect [because the primary aspect of man is his soul]. Just as the emotional and spiritual part of man has slept - so has the physical. But here we intone the concept of "dozing" - תנומה, because the body requires less of a rest than the more intense soul.  

Thank you Hashem for giving us this dual rest and refreshing us daily!! 

Let's read how the Holy Rav ztz"l puts it: 

בא"י, אמ"ה, המעביר שנה מעיני ותנומה מעפעפי.

ההכרח של השינה בא בתכונה כפולה. העיפות הנפשית, אחרי אשר מלאה חקה בעמלה החיוני, לקבל רשמים מכל הסביבה, לעבדם עבוד רוחני, ולהביאם לאוצרה הרוחני פנימה, זאת היא הגורמת לדרוש בחזקה מנוחה נפשית פנימית, להעתק מן העולם הסובב ומכל רשמיו המרעישים בחקיקתם. זאת היא הפעולה הנפשית של השינה, הבאה בעקרה ביחש להעינים, הכלי המקשר את הנפש אל כל העולם החי והרוגש אשר מסביב לו. זאת היא השינה העמוקה, הבאה מתוך תביעתה של המרגעה הנפשית. אבל עם זה מתחברת היא התביעה של התנומה, הבאת בעקב הלאות של הכח החמרי, הניכרת על האברים החיצונים, שהמקום היותר מסוים וקודם לכל האברים להיות מורגש בהם הכרח דרישה זו הם העפעפים, בתור כלים להאבר הפלאי, ראי הנשמה, העין, שעליהם שוכנת היא התנומה הקלה והחיצונה. שתי אלה יחד הן המפריעות את המשכתן של פעולות החיים הערים והרעננים, בצד הרוחני והחמרי גם יחד. הרוח המתאזר חיל ע"י מנוחת השינה וכלי הבשר המתכוננים להיות כלים מכשירי המפעלים הנכבדים לתעודת החיים, שניהם יחד מוצאים את מטרתם בברכת ד' ע"י המנוחה המבורכה של השינה, שהאדם מתחדש ע"י כבריה חדשה בכחותיו הרוחניים והחמריים. והננו מברכים ע"ז : המעביר שנה מעיני ותנומה מעפעפי.

The Crown Of Glory

לזכות רבי יהודה יעקב בן דינה חאשע
ורבי אהרן ישראל בן משה מרדכי

The gemara [brachos 60] says that when you put on your hat in the morning, you are supposed to make the bracha of עוטר ישראל בתפארה - He crowns the Jews with glory.

What is so glorious about a Borsalino??

There are two levels of intellect. There is the natural, IQ intellect. that is common to all people [except for professional boxers after too many blows to the head and offensive linemen after a long string of difficult Sunday afternoons] and all nations. And there is the prophetic "supra-intellect" that is unique to Klal Yisrael.

The bracha refers to the latter. We thank Hashem for our crown of glory - the capacity to be so close to Hashem that time is no longer a boundary and the future is as clear as the past and present. 

Thank you Hashem for crowning us with this glory of prophetic power that resides in our heads!!! We say this when we embellish our heads by wearing a hat which accentuates the importance of the head.

In the words of the Rav ztz"l:

בא"י, אמ"ה, עוטר ישראל בתפארה.

התפארת העליונה היא תפארת הרוח העליון, שלאור השכל האלהי, הכשרת רוח הקודש של אומה קדושה זו, שהיא כולה שקויה בטללי אורות של קדושת הנבואה, המושרשת בסגולתה, בשכלה הבהיר המלא ברוחה העצמי, המאיר את דרכה, לדעת באפיה הפנימי ידיעה עצמית מקורית את ד' אל אמת, עד כדי נשיאת דגל קודש זה, שהוא תפארת כל ההויה כולה, ברמה לעיני כל אפסי ארץ. זאת היא עטרת התפארת המיוחדה לישראל, נתונה בטבע המקודש של ברכת ד' החופפת על ראשינו, שבשביל כך יש מקום לכסוי הראש בתכונת המוסר הקדוש של ישראל, להורות על אצילות מיוחדת, השרויה בשכל הישראלי בפנימיותו, העודף ביתרונו על השכל הטבעי, אשר לכל אדם באשר הוא אדם, בעל שכל הגיוני לבדו, שאין בו אותו הפאר העליון, המצטין בתפארת ישראל, "עם זו יצרתי לי תהלתי יספרו", שזהו הודנו והדרת כבודנו, שאנו מברכים עליהם : עוטר ישראל בתפארה.

People Of The Cookbook

Rabbi Emanuel Feldman - Mishpacha Magazine

The annual explosion of dairy recipes for Shavuos has come and gone. The recipes are all colorful, original, and tasty, but as they say in Yinglish, “Enough already!” I like cheesecake and blintzes as much as anybody, but Maamad Har Sinai is in danger of being flooded by the onrush of milchig recipes. It may come as a shock, but imbibing dairy meals on Shavuos is not a ticket into Heaven, though increasing one’s Torah studies and mitzvah performance might help a bit.

But here, too: Enough already! Although there is much to say about the Jewish belly trumping the Jewish soul, I had determined to remain silent, because, having by now achieved a questionable notoriety due to our unwelcome grumblings about overdone Purim mishloach manos and overemphasis on Pesach hotel physicality, I had promised myself not to add to this column’s curmudgeonly reputation by a Sisyphean attempt to rein in the creeping dominance of Shavuos food. I even resisted the temptation to lament how the People of the Book had become the People of the Cookbook.

But now a new Shavuos menu has intruded itself into my consciousness, and it simply cannot be ignored. A fascinating multicolored notice bestrides my computer screen. Atop the notice is a rendering of a mountain, obviously Sinai, at whose foot stand a multitude of people — appropriate enough for Shavuos. But wait:
The message of the ad reads: “Shavuos Night Learning, With Delicious Sushi, Chinese Food & Midnight BBQ.” Beneath this announcement are three pictures — sushi and Chinese food and barbecue. Underneath these three delicacies, this declaration: “We will explore the essence of the Ten Commandments in depth.” At the bottom is the contact information for the sponsoring (Orthodox) synagogue. (To protect its good name, let us say it is located somewhere west of Chicago.)

All of which is a prime candidate for a satiric column, a sitting duck just begging to be hit. And yet, in all fairness, the sponsors are trying to attract a certain clientele who would never show up if they were offered only Chumash and Rashi and Ramban and davening at 4:30 a.m., plus occasional black coffee and cookies. So this is an attempt to bring a new type of patron into shul, with the hope that even if they come for less than holy reasons, perhaps somehow the evening’s teachings will have a spiritual impact. 
Maybe, maybe not. But my sense is that the potential clientele will not commit to an all-night Shavuos session without clear answers to the following questions:

1. Can I have sushi and BBQ and Chinese, or must I choose only one of the three?

2. Will the BBQ be available all night, or just at a certain hour?

3. Is attendance at the study sessions mandatory, or could I just eat the sushi and go home?

4. If I don’t attend Maariv that night, can I still come to the food part?

5. How long will the study sessions be? Will you allow enough time for the food?

6. There is no mention of beverages. Could you, like, serve Chinese herbal tea, just to maintain the spirit of the evening?

7. The food sounds great, but sessions about the Ten Commandments are kind of old hat. Why not try a brand-new subject, like the mystical relationship between Chinese food, which comes from an ancient culture, and the Ten Commandments, which also come from an ancient culture. This could dovetail with a session about the connections between the Japanese sushi, the American BBQ, the Chinese food, and, say, anti-Semitism. Could be a big draw.

8. If this is a religious organization, where is the Shavuos cheesecake? I know dairy with meat is a no-no for some people, but with an all-nighter, there is ample time for both, no?

P.S. This sounds like a real fun evening. You guys are really on the ball. Maybe you could use your influence to change some of those other shuls. No offense, but if for all Jewish holidays they would cut down all those prayers and rituals and ceremonies and get right to the good food, their shuls would be packed with people like me. Anyway, please do answer my questions, because I sure would like to be with you and help you celebrate. 

I Was Wrong

Good advice for all year round. Great for shalom bayis - Rav Kluger: