Sunday, November 27, 2011

Words From An Angel

Rav Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam the Klausenberger Rebbe was a Tzaddik, an angel and a master of the Torah. His halachic prowess is displayed in his multi volumed Divrei Yetziv. Now, most halachists decry [I hope that means what I think it means - otherwise I'll feel stupid:-). Like I found out after writing my Thanksgiving post that the Bears didn't play the Lions! And that Walter Payton is out of the league - and out of the world. I am soooo passe. Hey, "football" - "passe", great pun!! I also haven't the foggiest idea how to get that squiggly line over the "e" of passe, but at least I can spell squiggly. And for the record this is the first time EVER I am using this font. Sheeeeheeeecheeyuuuuniiiiii vikiyimuuuuuniiiiii lazman haze. Have I gotten off the topic? Well I'm talking about "zman"..] the practice of davening after the appropriate time. It is well known in Chassidic circles that tzaddikim davened after the zman but it is stressed that this is for tzaddikim only and not for the common man. How surprised I was to see this passage from the Rebbes chumash shiur [parshas vayechi 1983].

ולזה היה המנהג בחסידים שאיחרו להתפלל וזקני הק' בעל בני יששכר מצדיק את המנהג הזה שלא הקפידו על זמן תפילה ומבאר שסיבת הדבר הוא אשר לדאבוננו אנו מגושמים מאוד וכשקמים מהשינה עדיין הוא מגושם לגמרי ראשו בל עמו ומי יודע איך עברה עליו שנתו .... לכל הפחות עומד יהודי ואומר מודה אני ובוכה להשי"ת בברכת התורה ולוקח מיד גמרא ומתיישב ללמוד ולמד כמה שעות לפני התפילה לכה"פ דף אחד או שני דפים גמרא ותוס' ומתעמק בתורת אמת ומתפשט קצת מהגשמיות ומטהר את מחשבותיו לאחר מכן יכולים לעמוד להתפלל לה' ואז יש לתפילתו פנים אחרות ממי שמשכים בבוקר ומיד ממטתו הריהו הולך להתפלל כי כך א"א להתפלל ואפילו אם ירוץ למקוה ויטבול שם ויבלה את זמנו בדברים בטלים ובדברי שטות אז לא כפי שהוא מדמה שהוא רוחץ את עצמו אלא הוא מטמא עצמו שם אם רוצים להתפלל כיהודי צריך ללמוד קודם גמ' ותוס' לפני התפילה ובודאי תבוא עליהם ברכה על מי שרוצה להתפלל מוקדם כוותיקין אבל כדי להתפלל אז עליו להשכים בחצות לילה וילמד כמה שעות גמ' תוס' ולאחר מכן הוא יוכל להיות כהוותיקין ולא כל הרוצה ליטול את השם יבוא ויטול כי להתפלל בפטפוטי מילין בעלמא וראשו בל עמו זהו אינו מצוה ואיתא בגמ' כונות שמי שאינו יכול לכוין לבו אל יתפלל ותפילה הוא כמו קרבן שנאמר בו זבח רשעים תועבה.

I haven't the will to translate the whole passage [maybe my good friend whom I often see on the way to the Kotel, you know who you are, will do that]. But his point is that one should only daven bi'zman if he is going to daven i.e. with kavana, otherwise what's the point. So better learn some gemara with tosphos for a few hours and then daven properly, even though sof zman tefilla has long past. See also the sefer Shu"t Eretz Tzvi simman 36.

I will NOT start missing zman tefilla but I WILL take the mussar that tefilla without kavana is NOT tefilla.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Power Of Words

שומר פיו ולשונו שומר מצרות נפשו

If you guard your mouth you save yourself a lot of trouble.

A true story [with some details changed]:

An older boy who had a LOT of trouble in shidduchim FINALLY FINALLY found a young lady who ALSO had been on the long frustrating world of shidduchim with no success and they decided to get engaged. He was from Israel and her family from chutz la'aretz, so her family flew in for the engagement party. Everything was ready to go but on the DAY of the party the shadcham called the father of the boy to tell him that the girl's side said it's OFF and they were furious and left in a huff back to chutz la'aretz. The father was understandably shocked and requested an explanation which was not forthcoming. The shadchan just said that they were angry at me for what I did and left the country.

The father of the erstwhile chosson was so distrught that he suffered a HEART ATTACK! His Rov came to visit him and he related the whole story. The Rov then got in touch with the girl's family's Rov in chutz la'aretz who told him the whole story.

It turns out that the girl's aunt had been in a pharmacy and saw that the boy had purchased medication for mental illness and quickly reported back to her family the shocking news. They thought they had been duped and this crucial information had been concealed so they called the whole thing off and returned home.

The TRUTH was that the boy had actually bought medication against SPRING ALLERGIES from which 40 percent of the population suffers. The aunt simply mixed up because the name of the medication was similar to the name of medication for mental illness but in fact it served a COMPLETELY different purpose.

All explanations to the girl's family that a terrible mistake had been made fell on deaf ears and so the young man and young woman remained single.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Ask a shyla before you talk!!!:-)

Of course this was the will of Hashem and הכל בידי שמים but we still must be CAREFUL before we talk.

Feeling The Other

This is deep.

We only experience other people and the world as refracted through the prism of our own consciousness. So when we are at a wedding we only feel joy as ourselves for the couple but don't actually feel the feelings of the couple. At a funeral we will feel our OWN sense of loss but not that of the dearly departed. We can never step out of ourselves - even for one moment.

This is why our sense of joy or sadness at what goes on is directly proportional to the closeness we feel to the parties involved. So if a Jew gets married you are happier than if a non-jew does. If you know the person more than if you don't know the person. If are close to the person more than if you are not, etc. etc.

What's my point??? THE TORAH WANTS US TO STEP OUT OF OURSELVES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE - DESPITE THE DIFFICULTY. We intuitively may feel that we are the center of the universe, but if I am then so is my friend! G-d loves my children but he loves the children down the block JUST AS MUCH. Yet, I don't even know the names of the children down the block! Why is that? Excessive immersion in the self.

Here is a passage that Hashem brought to my attention: Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

If one starts stepping outside of him/herself, NEW WORLDS OF CHESED, AHAVA, CARE AND COMPASSION OPEN UP!

This is huge. Would love to talk about it more. May next time we meet. Much easier verbally. I talk faster than I type!:-)

Love and blessings and a GUUUUUT VOOOOCHHH!

NOW We Understand!!

Re: Our post asking why Rivka didn't just tell Yitzchak to give Yaakov the bracha. We received an answer from my beloved friend and recent Chosson, Rav Yonatan Shai Freedman of Alon Shvut:

1. Netziv in HaEmek Davar (previous parasha), when discussing Rivka falling upon seeing Yitzhak, says that she fell because of fear and the she was constantly afraid of Yitzhak throughout her marriage. This fear prevented her from telling Yitzhak the truth about Yaakov and Eisav.

2. Ramban said that Rivka didn’t just want Yitzhak to know the truth. She actually wanted Yitzhak to give Yaakov the blessing that he wanted to give Eisav. The “rav ya’avod tza’ir” just meant that Eisav would not get the berakha in the end. It does not mean that Yaakov would get the berakha. So the way she could be sure of Yaakov’s blessing was the elaborate ruse she pulled off.


ps- This was NOT posted at 3:15 saturday afternoon. I really try to keep Shabbos...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Toldot: Tapping into Our Spiritual DNA

As its name implies, Parshat Toldot, is about the generations - perhaps more precisely it is about the transmission of a pristine set of values passed from one generation to the next.

And these are the generations of Isaac the son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac (25:19). The Midrash comments that the seemingly repetitious language of this verse alludes to the fact that Hashem made Yitzchak look remarkably similar to Avraham in order to quiet the claims of the heretics that he was not the natural born son of Avraham. Rav Soloveichik suggests further that the likeness was not only in appearance, but more importantly Yitzchak mimicked his father in action. Following in his father's extraordinary footsteps was the greatest proof that he was indeed Avraham’s son and the next in line to father the Jewish people.

Avraham was the father of Yitzchak - that is fact. But the Torah specifies that Yitzchak was the son of Avraham to show that Yitzchak followed in the righteous ways of his fathers and following in his footsteps. (Indeed the commentaries suggest that this is the symbolism of Yitzchak re-digging the wells of his father - indicating his dedication to work towards the same ideals as his father.) Yitzchak not only inherited his father’s spiritual DNA, but he tapped into them and actualized this great potential.

I have often wondered why the Torah descriptively tells not only the prominence of Yitzchak and Yaakov, but also the downfall of Yishmael and Esav. Perhaps one reason is to remind us that spiritual genetics are not enough – it is up to each of us to tap into that potential, to follow the ways and the model of our parents, grandparents, as well as our most distant ancestors.

A nuance of this same lesson is taught in the next verse: And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebecca the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to himself for a wife (25:20). Rebetzin Jungreis suggests that the Torah repeats these already known facts to remind us that there are times that we must overcome aspects of our spiritual genetics and disregard the negative tendencies, traits, and even experiences of our national and familial history.

Yitzchak came from a lineage of righteousness and Rivkah came from a troubled and iniquitous family, but both became amongst the most righteous personalities in our history. The Torah acknowledges the good and the bad that has gone into our spiritual genetics. And so we must be aware of both the positive and negative traits that make up our internal beings. With this awareness we can consciously work towards living up to the standards our Matriarchs and Patriarchs have established, and put behind us that national and personal parts of our past that are best left behind.

May we all search and find the greatness within and continue to work towards living up to the legacy of our most recent and most distant ancestors – in order that we can transmit these values to the next generations - keeping alive the remarkable spark of Jewish customs, pride, and values. Shabbat Shalom, Taly

Our Chosson On Toldos


This Is Exciting!!!

I was asked to post the following great news!!

Hi everyone!

There is going to be a bake sale for an amazing program called I-Shine on November 30 and December 1.

For those of you who dont already know, Ishine is a chai lifeline program that has homework help, really amazing activities and dinner for the kids twice a week. The program is not for children who are necessarily sick, but they do have siblings or a parent that is. I-Shine lifts a tremendous weight off the parents shoulders because their kids come home and have everything already done for them! In order to continue they need YOU! Please come bake and/or buy something!

The bake sale will be held at the Schertz's home, 88 Margaret Avenue in Lawrence. The bake sale hours are : Wednesday, November 30, 4-9 p.m Thursday December 1, 10 a.m-6 p.m Thank so much! Tizku L'mitzvos!

Shidduchim And What To Say

Sweetest friends, sometimes people say things about people which are nothing less than forbidden slander. HORRIBLE. Other times people DON'T say things when they should. You could indirectly destroy an innocent person by remaining silent. How my heart bleeds for people I know locked into a horrible marriage which sometimes could have been prevented had all of the information about the prospective spouse been revealed. So here goes. [We have 2 shiurim on this on yutorah. You can find them if you'd like...]

Guidelines For Revealing Information In Shidduchim

Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz [from The Jewish Observer]

So here you have it – the paramedic’s guide to neurosurgery. Yes, that is precisely what a concise summary of Hilchos Lashon Hara regarding shidduchim is like. In deciding when to speak up, what information to disclose, precise choice of words, and even tone of voice, one may very well be affecting the lives of individuals and families for years to come. The most subtle nuance – even unintended – could seal one’s fate for a lifetime. No article – nor even an entire sefer, for that matter – could possibly take the place of consultation with a competent, sensitive, experienced rav. The purpose of this article is merely to call attention to several basic guidelines that must not be overlooked by anyone involved in a shidduch in any capacity. And to alert the reader when to consult a Rav, and on which issues.

1. Suggestions and Advice: Eitza Hogennes

The first principle to keep in mind with regard to shidduchim is the commandment “Lifnei iver lo sitten michshol – not to cause the blind to stumble”; or as Chazal interpret it – don’t give bad advice (eitza she’eina hogennes). For the shadchan or advisor, that means neither suggesting nor promoting a shidduch that one does not believe the party he is speaking to would be interested in, were they made aware of all pertinent information. In the case of a parent or the prospective chassan or kalla, it would be wrong to request that a shidduch be arranged with a party who – if properly informed – would not choose to be involved.

According to the Chofetz Chaim, this is true even when the information in question does not necessarily reflect on the appropriateness of the shidduch. One does not suggest a shidduch to a family that is known to be especially particular about yichus, withholding the fact that the prospective’s grandfather was a well-known apikores. Instead, after explaining the situation, one could proceed to point out that some of Klal Yisroel’s most prominent families have favored character over genealogy…. Rather than truncate a decade or two off the prospective partner’s age, one could attempt to show that the person in question is exceptional and worth meeting despite the age difference. (Needless to say, one should not suggest a shidduch that he does not believe is a good idea for either of the involved parties.)

So what does one do when he feels that a bachur has “unrealistic expectations,” is “living in a fantasy world,” and “isn’t getting any younger”? The proper approach is one of reason – not manipulation. Occasionally, a poseik (authority in halacha) may allow for information to be withheld temporarily when there are grounds for assuming that the person is subconsciously waiting to be tricked into meeting someone, rather than admit to having made an issue of something trivial.

Additionally, the common practice of the inaccurate reporting of age is not considered dishonest in a society or situation where one is expected to do so. Not unlike “Jewish Standard Time” on wedding invitations (which for better or for worse has become a fact of life), using the number twenty-nine for a thirty-two-year-old will probably be understood quite accurately in many circles – much as, in those very circles, thirty-two could easily be taken to mean thirty-six. (This would obviously not apply when it can be assumed that the information will be taken at face value.) Because of the temptation to be extremely liberal in applying this rule, one cannot help but insist on having a rav decide the matter. On the other hand, where information is taken at face value, one should be precise in these details.

A serious issue in halacha is that of defining whom the relevant parties really are. Is it right to suggest a shidduch where the prospective chassan and kalla are within the parameters of one another’s standards of acceptability, but outside those of their families? On the one hand, it is the couple and not the families that is contemplating marriage, and indeed halacha does not leave the final word with the parents. Nevertheless, one must consider why he has chosen to assist the couple at the expense of the parents’ wishes. Furthermore, there are those who maintain that although children are not bound by the preferences of their parents with regard to shidduchim, they do not have the right to do anything that could embarrass their parents. In such cases, you must consult your local poseik.

2. Information: What to Reveal

Unlike the shadchan or advisor, who would be violating lifnei iver by promoting a shidduch while concealing information about one party that the other would have found objectionable, the person to whom a shidduch was suggested is not considered offering advice, and would therefore not have to volunteer facts that may be of concern to the other side. Similarly, a visit to a shadchan does not call for revealing information that could interfere with one’s prospects. The halachos that apply here are those of not causing harm to another – which would require the revealing of only issues that could pose a serious threat to the future of the couple should they marry; and midvar shekker tirchak – even when information can be withheld, one may not lie outright about anything that could in any way be relevant. Included in the category of facts to be revealed are physical, psychological, and psychiatric conditions that could interfere with the person’s ability to function properly as a spouse or parent, as well as any serious condition in the family that is hereditary. Such information, however, need not be revealed at an initial meeting; one does have the right to wait and see if the prospect is worth considering seriously before making oneself vulnerable. What is absolutely prohibited is to conceal a serious condition until the point where the other person is emotionally involved and will find it difficult to make an objective decision. (It may be a strategic mistake to withhold even less-critical information as the couple considers engagement, considering the fact that the other party could one day feel deceived.) An individual or family that is aware of a condition that may have to be revealed should be encouraged to discuss the subject with a rav before entering the era of shidduchim.
An acquaintance who is aware of a condition that must be revealed has the responsibility to see to it that the information will be communicated at the proper time, and if it seems that no one will communicate it, he (or she) must do so himself. This responsibility is included in the prohibition “Lo saamod al dam rei’echa – Do not stand by as your brother’s blood is being spilled.” Conditions of this type – whether those that cast doubt on one’s abilities as a spouse, or hereditary illnesses – are to be reported even if the other side has made no effort to find out. Other issues need not be brought up, even when approached as a reference, as there are no objective grounds for assuming they should be reasons for concern. When asked directly concerning some other issue, one must not be dishonest – but one could choose to be evasive.

• A girl on medication for manic depression must inform the bachur she is meeting before things get too serious. If she confides in a close friend that on the advice of a parent she has decided not to tell, the friend should try to convince her that such an approach is wrong – or more correctly, should direct her to a rav. If it becomes apparent that the girl is adamant on not telling, the friend would be required to do so. A sensitive, competent rav must be sought out for guidance on just how to go about that.

• A bachur has a history of losing his temper with chavrusos and roommates, and does on occasion get violent: His friends should have been in touch with the mashgiach who – in turn – would have had to see to it that this bachur get the appropriate help in dealing with his temper. If the bachur has entered shidduchim showing no signs of major change, the friends must seek the advice of a rav to determine who should tell, and precisely how to describe his personality.

• A young woman has mentioned to friends on countless occasions that she is just petrified of the thought of getting married, as she never learned to cook. Not only would neither she nor her friends have to mention anything about the situation to someone she is meeting, when questioned explicitly about her culinary abilities a friend can simply say, “I don’t know.”
In all situations where potentially damaging information is to be revealed, one must be careful not to cause any undo harm. If the father of a girl who is meeting a severely problematic bachur is known to be indiscreet and could be expected to make the information public, he may not be told about the bachur’s problems. This rule holds true even if there seem to be no alternative means for preventing a potentially unhealthy marriage.

3. Finding Out: Who Asks Whom and How

This brings us to the most complicated aspect of shidduchim in halacha: How do you find out about someone? If all but drastic conditions can be concealed by everyone involved, how does one obtain the necessary information in determining whether or not the shidduch is worth one’s while in the first place – and how does one protect himself, his children, and his students from marrying the wrong person?

Indeed, zivuggim (pairing people in marriage) are from Heaven. Often, the oddest combinations have made for beautiful marriages. Our own assessments of who is for whom are far from definitive. Nevertheless, a competent mechanech or parent should have a relatively good idea of what his child or talmid is like, what he needs in a spouse, and certainly what kind of spouse could be problematic if not outright destructive. When such a person asks pointed questions, it is understood that these are not mere matters of preference – rather, substantive issues of concern deserving of an accurate response.

As said, questions must be pointed; general questions are an invitation for miscommunication. One man’s talmid chacham is another’s am ha’aretz. The forty-year-old mother of seven has totally different standards for what it means to be organized than does the newlywed. And what precisely do you mean when you ask if someone is “good,” “neat,” or “friendly”? These are all unquantifiable terms for which we are without common vocabulary. “Is he on time for seder?” “Does he bother making his bed in the morning?” These questions leave little room for error. Even “Does she have close friends?” – when asked of someone mature – is a valid way of inquiring about one’s openness to relationships.

Whom to ask is an issue of its own. Ideally, what could be better than asking a mechanech or mechaneches? In reality, many a rebbe or rosh yeshiva defines his role as that of giving a derech in learning Gemora and may not find the time to gain an understanding of all his talmidim (especially if he has many). Even a mashgiach may be familiar with only the more positive side of a talmid; after all, the talmid probably does not conduct himself in the presence of the mashgiach the way he behaves in his dorm room. And then there is the tendency among rebbe’im and teachers to be protective of their students to the point where they would not consider saying anything that could possibly “ruin a shidduch.” If a mechanech is to be consulted, it should preferably be by a peer, colleague, or other acquaintance to whom he feels some level of responsibility.

The obvious next choice would be friends of the person in question. In light of issues raised with regard to relying exclusively on mechanchim alone, it would stand to reason that a roommate or close friend would be an invaluable resource in obtaining pertinent information. Many gedolei Yisroel, however, have voiced serious concerns over the practice of asking bachurim about one another. Not every twenty-one year old bachur possesses the necessary judgment to interpret the behavior of his contemporaries accurately and objectively. Such a reference must himself be checked out for maturity, accuracy of perception and integrity, and could only then be approached. As previously discussed, it would have to be made clear to the reference that the questions are coming from one who understands the issues crucial to the shidduch, and as such are worthy of an honest response.

One could logically conclude that every eligible young man and woman should have a responsible, well-connected person to research suggested names by way of pointed questions asked of the appropriate references. If parents don’t feel they can play that role, they should enlist the help of those who can. Singles on their own must find a rebbe figure to do the research for them, and concerned, capable people would be doing a great chessed by offering their services to those who do not have family looking out for them.

In gathering information about a family, one resorts to networking – seeking out among one’s own acquaintances someone familiar with an acquaintance of the family. A neighbor is not required by halacha to be open with a total stranger about any issue involving the family – with the exceptions of serious hereditary diseases and actual questions of p’sul (halachic ineligibility for marriage. That would not be the case when questioned by a responsible acquaintance attempting to clarify specific concerns relevant to the particular shidduch, where one should be forthright.) One should, if possible, try to establish the person’s credentials. On the other hand, one should be forthright when questioned by a responsible acquaintance attempting to clarify specific concerns relevant to the particular shidduch. It is also necessary to first establish that a neighbor to be consulted as a reference is not on bad terms with the people one is inquiring about. (Similarly, when inquiring about a divorcee, one would not contact the former spouse or his friends and relatives, unless a poseik has ruled that the specific situation allows for it.) If you are the “total stranger” contacting the neighbor, you would be well advised to have a respected intermediary introduce you or make the inquiries on your behalf.

4. Reporting Back: Avoiding Lashon Hara and Rechilus

A most sensitive area in shidduchim regarding lashon hara is the debriefing by the shadchan of the young man or woman following a meeting. When unsure of how to proceed when in need of advice, the prospective partner should discuss the issue with the person he feels is in the best position to help clarify matters for him – whether that is the shadchan or someone else. Having made a decision not to continue with the shidduch, one owes an explanation to no one but Hashem and himself. The shadchan can attempt to convince the party that he may be mistaken and that it may be in his best interest to share his concerns with the shadchan, but unless he feels that is the case, one does not owe it to the shadchan to explain his decision.

Furthermore, if it is clear to the person that his decision is final, he should not tell the shadchan anything negative about the other party without clarifying with a rav that it is important to do so. The shadchan himself must be extremely cautious in what he communicates to the other party. Any negative comment said over in the name of the first party constitutes rechilus – gossip – and is prohibited. If the shadchan feels the need to communicate constructive criticism, it must be done tactfully, to ensure that it will indeed be constructive, and not angrily brushed off as the subjective – and perhaps warped – perception of the other party.

And finally, following an unsuccessful shidduch attempt, all involved must be careful not to allow their frustrations to be expressed in the form of accusations and labeling. Not every shidduch is meant to work, and there does not always have to be a culprit.

After all the investigating, consulting, and intuiting, entering marriage is still very much a mystery; can anyone really know what kind of spouse and parent he will turn out to be – let alone this stranger with whom he is about to build a home? The feeling of vulnerability and helplessness is countered only by bitachon – trust that ultimately Hashem is looking out for us. Going about things in accordance with His will is a first step in enlisting that siyata diShmaya.

A Heartfelt Plea


Much discussion has taken place in our contemporary sources as to whether it is appropriate for a Torah Jew to celebrate Thanksgiving. I will not get into that discussion. Rav Hutner, Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Moshe Feinstein and many others expanded and enlightened.

One thing I know - If a Jew is given a day off from work and the goyim are busy watching the Bears play the Lions [for my female readers: Bears and Lions are both groups of people. Oversized people but people. They are named after animals because the brutality they practice is reminiscent of hungry preying animals] this is a GREAT time to learn! He can learn hilchos brachos which is all about how we thank G-d. He can learn anything! Or he can spend quality time enhancing his familial relationships. He can do many things.

But PLEEEEAAASEEEEE SWEEEEEET FRIEEEENDDDDSSSS!!!!!! Don't waste the day on nonsense, narishkeit or shtuyot [three languages, same sin]! The Chiddushei HaRim said that the sin of wasting time is as serious as having biah with an aishes ish.



Just Tell Him!

Why didn't Rivka just tell Yitzchak that she heard a prophecy ורב יעבוד צעיר which means that Yaakov was deserving of the bracha. JUST TELL HIM "Esav is NOT the guy!" Why the trickery??? We at Mevakesh are big proponents of good COMMUNICATION!

Help me!!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

אינה תלויה בדבר

Sweetest friends!!!!

Chazal had a way of encapsulating ideas in a succinctly phrased aphorism that took others pages or even volumes to express. What I wrote here, was expressed by Chazal in one pithy sentence.
כל אהבה שאינה תלויה בדבר - אינה בטלה לעולם

Unconditonal love is 4-ever!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

רפאל מתתיהו יעקב בן גיטל רבקה

Young father of four. Cancer.

בתוך שאר חולי ישראל


It's a girlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!

Mazel Tov to R' Avraham Yitzchak and Hila Jaspan and their families!!

Simchas by you soon too!!


Love - Temporary Madness

"Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two."

Sweetest friends - when couples are dating they often feel "in love". This feeling NEVER lasts. One should be aware of this at the outset and just use this feeling of excitement to get him/her to stand in the SCARIEST place in the world - under the chuppah!

After the guests have left, the band has packed up their instruments, the checks have been counted and gifts put away [many of them to be rewrapped and passed on to a different couple] la la land sinks under the horizen and real life begins. The goal - to go from la la land to the Promised Land of intense marital satisfaction.

The test is - can one sustain a true lasting love. One does this by deciding that short of my spouses untimely demise, this marriage is going to continue. I am FULLY devoting myself to CONSTANTLY enhancing the relationship and LEARNING more and more and yet more about my spouses needs, wants and desires and then going about filling them. I am also one million percent NEVER going to look, think about or desire to have a relationship with anyone else, even though on the surface they may seem more desirable. This is my first and last husband/wife and I am going to make it happen. I am NOT going to wait for my spouse to do what he/she is obligated [from my perspective] to do for me. He/She owes me NOTHING! I owe her/him the most doting, loving, understanding spouse on earth.

OF COURSE both the husband and wife read this blog so the behavior will be mutual.

AYYYYYYYYYYY - Sweetest friends, so much work goes into making a relationship work and so much understanding goes into making it deeper and deeper. Some people never get divorced but their relationships are SHALLOW! I don't wish that upon you. That is why my Bava Basra is begging me to return and open him again and I keep typing away. I feel like I could go on and on. Sooooo much to say.

BUT - That is for another time bez"H!!!

LOVE AND BLESSINGS TO ALL and a special thank you to the many who have emailed me recently with input, which encourages me to believe that in fact my small words may be having an impact on somebody's soul.

And now back to my Bava Basra where I am learning by "coincidence" a perek called get pashut which talks about the obligation to use a multi-folded parchment for a get so that it takes a long time to produce and in the meantime the husband will come to his senses and keep his wife. I gotta get going. :-)

PS - Please pass this on to anyone you think may benefit.

הילה בת הרמינה

PLEASE DAVEN FOR HILA BAS HERMINA who has entered labor. It should be a healthy baby!!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lesson Learned From A Crying Baby

Tonight [as many nights..] my daughter Chana Leiba arose from her slumber and cried until I picked her up and held her. Every time I tried to put her back in her crib she cried and then was at peace once again when I took her into my arms.

What is wrong? Is her crib not comfortable? Do I teach her deep Torah when I hold her??

No - and no! Chana Leiba, like every other baby, has a primal need for connection, in the absence of which her soul can't be at rest. When I hold her she is connected to a human being whom she knows in the most visceral way - cares for her [and she doesn't even know what visceral means:-)].

We are ALL "Chana Leiba" - we just don't always realize it. But take my advice [free with the purchase of a new I-phone, while supplies last!]: Connect to other people. Love them and let them love you.

That primal need for connection never goes away.

Chansie my sweet baby - thank you for teaching me.

מכל מלמדי השכלתי


Is this guy CRAZY??!! Darwin [that koiiiiferrr!] and Kabala!!!


Tell me what you think....


Listen to this [from the 16 minute mark - it's only about 30 seconds or less] and tell me if I am understanding correctly: One shouldn't listen to or follow one's Rabbeim from Israel after returning to America because they are detached from the present reality of the student. One should rather follow American Rabbeim who are connected to reality of life in America.

After bowing down to the honorable Rov and Gaon I beg to ask - is that correct? Because one is living in a more spiritually pure environment he can no longer guide someone living in a different environment? Are all Rabbeim from Eretz Yisrael detached??

But his attitude would explain why so many boys over the years with whom I was close in Yeshiva cut off contact with me after their return - despite my efforts to keep a kesher.

And for those who stayed connected - THANK YOU!!

Love and peace!!!!:-)

The Sign On Yoav Fogel's Wall

Thanks to R' Yisrael for sending me this.

מי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד בארץ

ברוך אלקינו שבראנו לכבודו והבדילנו מן התועים ונתן לנו תורת אמת

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ignore It!

Men and women both have a yetzer hara. The difference as I see it is that women have a yetzer hara, whereas the men's yetzer hara .... has them. But we both have to control it. How is this done?

Possibility One: Fight it head on. This is the WRONG WAY. If a guy walks down the street thinking "I won't look at girls, I won't look at girls" the result is that he is completely focused on girls - exactly what the yetzer wants.

Possibility Two: ignore it. AHHHHH - that is the correct way. Just don't think about it. Focus on other things. Think for example about how in a mishna Rebbe Akiva argues with Rebbe Tarphon and about the nature of that dispute Abaye argues with Rava in the gemara. On that gemara Rashi and Tosphos argue. On that Rashi and Tosphos the Pnei Yehoshua and the Maharsha argue. On that Pnei Yeshua and Maharsha etc. etc. Wow how those Rabbis argued!! You look up and you arrived at your destination. What about your yetzer? What about your almost irresistible urge to think about the other gender? You forgot all about it! The more you immerse yourselves in other pursuits - the less your yetzer will bother you.

Oh - and get married!

[Based on Tanya Kadisha]


How do you overcome fear of death? Some ideas here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Save Me!

"Money is a great servant but a terrible master."

Money can buy just about everything. Food, a plane, a plane ticket, shoes, glasses, braces, a computer, season tickets to the Rangers, a night in a hotel, the hotel itself, clothing, diamonds etc. etc. and yet more etc.

That is why people go BULLUNIKIES over money. ממש crazy. The word כסף is the root of the word כיסופין which means desire. Ohhhhhh do people desire money. Money can be converted into most anything of what man [and woman] desires.

We are Jews - What does the Torah say about money??

On one hand עניות מעבירה את האדם על דעת קונו Poverty can cause a person to transgress the laws of the Torah. We don't want people to be poor. We daven every Shabbos Mevarchim for a life of עושר - wealth. It is great to have money. Poverty is a very difficult test.

On the other hand money is NOT everything. What can money NOT buy? Health [maybe a good doctor but that doesn't guarantee health], happiness [comfort - yes, happiness - no. I know a lot of unhappy rich people], spirituality, good children, a happy marriage, friendship, Torah knowledge, meaningful tfillos, a good personality, brains, serenity [מרבה נכסים מרבה דאגה - the more money the more worries] etc. etc. and yet more etc.

If I had to choose between the list of things money can buy and the things money can't buy, I would definitely go for things that money can't buy. Those are the things that really matter.

Another point - money and what it can buy can only last for us, as long as we last. Without trying to bring your mood down - THAT IS A RELATIVELY SHORT TIME! So all of the money in the world can only last you at most for a small number of decades [until 120 but frankly most people don't make it there]. What money can't buy lasts FOREVER. A daf gemara, a loving relationship, an act of kindness and it's yours FOREVER. A sleek Cadillac? Really not so long. And it gets boring after a short while anyway.

Conclusion - Use your money for things that will last forever. You buy a sefer and the sefer helps you understand the Torah better - an eternal aquisition [besides that fact that buying the sefer itself is a fulfillment of the mitzva of writing a sefer Torah]. You give tzedaka - you invested money in a stock with eternal dividends. You find some children in the neighborhood who don't have a father and you buy them Chanuka presents - besides the WONDERFUL feeling right here on earth, the Good Lord will remember and reward you forever. You buy your wife a new dress - not for her birthday but just because you love her, you will have a happier wife, more peace in the home, well adjusted children and a better life for all. "Shalom" is the goal of creation and using your money to promote it advances the goals of Hashem.

Avraham Avinu was a VERY rich man. What did he use his money for? To honor his wife with the ideal burial plot. THAT is a good way to spend money [if necessary - L'chaim to all!].

If one doesn't have - don't sweat it. Reb Yisroel Salanter died without a penny to his name and yet he changed the world. The list of great tzaddikim who were poor is endless. MONEY ISN'T EVERYTHING.

In this generation people bow down to money and its possessors. This is a major error. I have met many very rich people and frankly it is quite disappointing to realize that they aren't necessarily the deepest, or the warmest, or the kindest or the anything-est. Just lotsa money in the bank. That's sorta boring. OF COURSE klal yisrael is blessed with a lot of wonderful rich people who do wonderful things with their money and who are wonderful people and some are even תלמידי חכמים. But money and good character don't necessarily go together.

Dovid Hamelech cried הצילני מדמים אלקים which literally means that he is asking Hashem to save him from bloodshed. But דמים doesn't only mean blood, it also means money. So in that light Rav Meir Mi'parmishlan explained that it means "Save me from making money my G-d."

OYYYYYYYY - הצילני מדמים אלקים!!!!!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chayei Sara: Constant Conversation

Within the relatively short parsha of Chayei Sara we find countless lessons that are embedded within the told stories. In Eliezer’s search for a wife for Yitzchak Avinu, he calls out in prayer, asking that Hashem send a sign to show him who is worthy to be the next progenitor of the Jewish nation. The sign will be that when he asks for water, the young woman will be generous enough not only to give to him, but to also offer water to the camels.

An important and insightful question can be asked about Eliezer’s request: If he was asking for a miraculous, Divine sign to reveal the destined wife of Yitzchak, why not ask that "the one" should go out of her way to offer him and his camels water to drink, before he can even ask her the favor? Why does Eliezer specify that he first ask for her help, and then determine how generously she responds?

The Ishbetzer Rebbe provides a profound answer to this question. He suggests that Eliezer models for us the perfect balance between hishtadlut (human effort) and bitachon (trust in Hashem). One cannot idly wait around for miracles to happen - for our lives to be lived, our desires, goals, and needs to be fulfilled - without putting in our time and energy. At the very same time, we must also turn to Hashem in prayer and supplication, realizing that we cannot rely on human effort alone to complete any task.

A similar lesson is gleaned from a later scene in the parsha, as the Torah describes: vayeitzei Yitzchak lasuach basadeh (Yitzchak went to pray in the field). Commentaries note the unusual word lasuach, which technically translates as to converse. The use of this ‘casual’ word reminds us that our prayers should not be limited to the designated times for prayer, or restricted by the printed words in the siddur. We should constantly be speaking to Hashem, conversing with Him as we live our lives.

Just as we learn that prayer should come into our daily lives, our daily struggles should be part of our prayers. Even during times of ‘designated’ prayer we should be inserting our own voice, asking for our personal needs, and expressing our most pressing concerns. Rav Moshe Taragin suggests that the seemingly “distracting” thoughts that come to mind during our tefilot should not be seen or treated as disruptions at all –instead, we should make the concerns, excitements, and plans for the day that invade our thoughts during prayer part of our prayer – we should transform these thoughts into requests and prayers for Divine assistance with the daily chores to the greater aspirations that consume us throughout our days.

I hope we can all internalize this lesson from the parsha – to recognize the importance of taking our own strides forward, but realizing that part of our efforts should include turning to Hashem to ask that our efforts be fruitful. May we all learn to integrate prayer into our lives, and incorporate the ceaseless chatter that goes on in our minds into the constant conversation that we have with Hashem throughout our lives. And, may Hashem hear our words, allay our concerns, answer our requests, and help us in all the ways we strive to succeed in our lives. Shabbat Shalom, Taly


This is the parsha of shidduchim - and love. Some aphorisms to remember from R' Shlomo Carlebach whose yahrtzeit was this past week [from the booklet עומק הלב]. It should be li'ilui nishmaso.

1] When you meet someone you really love - you stop being superficial.

2] A good friend is someone who makes me want to be a better person. A true friend is someone who makes me actually become a better person.

3] If you see someone sad or alone - be his friend.

4] If you love someone who thinks differently than you, you don't become less special or less of a Jew. You become more special and more of a Jew.

5 ] The question is not how much you love or hate but how much you can rise above your pettiness.

6] All the quarrels in a home are over petty matters and when a person elevates himself, peace comes to the home.

7] When someone approaches you to ask for a dollar you should know that he is asking for something else as well. Try to determine what he really needs.

8] When I really love someone, my speech becomes truthful [emes'dik].

9] If you hurt a person, you are hurting Hashem.

10] There are no chance meetings between Jews. We have something to fix from a previous life. Maybe we can fix it through a kind word or a favor. If we don't we might have to come back to this world for another round to fix what needs fixing.

So sweetest friends - try to make every interaction, email, telephone call etc. meaningful.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"I am considering being dissatisfied with my life; I could probably do better with it if I do."



Yitzchak Yaakov Ben Batya Sarah - Brain cancer.
Daniel Ben Shira Tzivia - Hit by a moving car on the FDR. In a lot of pain!

Bisoch shear cholei yisroel!!

Yerida For The Sake Of Aliya!

I will be in New York from November 30 until December 19th to spread Torah and help the kollel. BS"D of course!!! Looking forward to seeing you!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


How EXCITING is this!

The sefer our kollel wrote is available on line for free download here.

BY GOLLLY! I hope someone learns it....:-)

Steve Jobs Commencement Address At Stanford - GEVALDIK!

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Daas Torah

Quite often, people go to Rabbonim for guidance and advice. The question then presents itself - Must a person follow the Rabbis advice?

The answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT! Why not? Because it says nowhere in the gemara or the shulchan aruch that a Rabbi's advice is binding and we live our lives based on the gemara and shulchan aruch.

What about "daas torah"? 2 answers: 1] The concept of "daas torah" as it is used today appears nowhere in the gemara or shulchan aruch. 2] Ask 5 Rabbis and you will get 9 opinions so which one is true "daas torah"? Rov Shach or the Lubavitcher Rebbe? Rov Eliashiv or Rov Shlomo Zalman Auerbach? Rov Moshe Feinstein or Rov Yaakov Kaminetsky or Rov Soloveitchik?

That being said I add that it is nevertheless STRONGLY RECOMMENDED to follow the advice of a Rov simply because a] his advice is based [we hope] on Torah principles which we might not have taken into account when deciding and EVERY decision we make has spiritual ramifications and b] he is [hopefully] objective.

It is also fine to ask more than one Rov for his opinion and decide which advice to follow. When we learn a piece of gemara and look up a Rashba to see how he understood the gemara we don't hesitate to look in the Ritva for fear of offending or disrespecting the Rashba becaus his opinion isn't good enough. Our knowledge is just enhanced and expanded.

I personally am a chossid of a Rebbe who is consulted by thousands of people on an endless array of questions and he has proven to me that he just has a clearer perspective on things than I do so when I ask his opinion I follow whatever he says. I would therefore suggest you find [if you haven't already] a Rov/Tzaddik with a proven track record and consult with him on those issues where you would benefit from guidance. Often people are just completely confused and it is comforting knowing that a tzaddik decided a certain way. We believe that he has Divine guidance - even in our generation. But not everybody called "Rabbi" is a conduit of the Divine will. Not everybody called Rabbi is necessarily a talmid chochom or even understands people or life very well. So one must pick a GOOD one!

I have learned from the Rebbe shlita NOT to impose my opinion on people so when someone asks me for advice I make it clear that my opinion is not binding. Ultimately it is the asker who must live with his decision - not me.

Everything I wrote is when the Rov offers his opinion about a non-halachic matter. Halacha is a different question which I did NOT address.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Shiur In Genetics

From an article forwarded to me by Mrs. Miriam Adahan:

People with a certain gene trait are known to be more kind and caring than people without it, and strangers can quickly tell the difference, according to US research published on Monday.

The variation is linked to the body’s receptor gene of oxytocin.Scientists at Oregon State University devised an experiment in which 23 couples, whose genotypes were known to researchers but not observers, were filmed.

One member of the couple was asked to tell the other about a time of suffering in his or her life. Observers were asked to watch the listener for 20 seconds, with the sound turned off.In most cases, the observers were able to tell which of the listeners had the “kindness gene” and which ones did not, said the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences edition of November 14.

“Our findings suggest even slight genetic variation may have tangible impact on people’s behavior, and that these behavioral differences are quickly noticed by others,” said lead author Aleksander Kogan, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.Nine out 10 people who were judged by the neutral observers to be “least trusted” carried the A version of the gene, while six out 10 deemed “most prosocial” had the GG genotype.People in the study were tested beforehand and found to have GG, AG or AA genotypes for the rs53576 DNA sequence of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene.

People who have two copies of the G allele are generally judged as more empathetic, trusting and loving.Those with AG or AA genotypes tend to say they feel less positive overall, and feel less parental sensitivity. Previous research has shown they also may have a higher risk of autism.

“The oxytocin receptor gene in particular has become of great interest because a select number of studies suggest that it is related to how prosocial people view themselves,” Kogan said.“Our study asked the question of whether these differences manifest themselves in behaviors that are quickly detectable by strangers, and it turns out they did.”However, no gene trait can entirely predict a person’s behavior, and more research is needed to find out how the variant affects the underlying biology of behavior.

“These are people who just may need to be coaxed out of their shells a little,” said senior author Sarina Rodrigues Saturn, an assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University whose previous research established the genetic link to empathetic behavior.“It may not be that we need to fix people who exhibit less social traits, but that we recognize they are overcoming a genetically influenced trait and that they may need more understanding and encouragement.
End of article.

Chazal say that Jews are characterized by the middos of being merciful, bashful and giving רחמנים ביישנים וגומלי חסדים. It's in the genes. We just need to "coax it out of our shells" sometimes.

Make A Shidduch!

Looking for good solid religious working boy in Jerusalem for 34 year old wonderful girl, never married.

I have a close friend, 40, never married, lives in New York. Nicer than nice, normal, religious, nice looking. Everything good except that he lacks a wife. But that can be remedied as well!

If you help me I promise you a chelek in Olam Haba. Even if you don't help me you get a chelek. EVERY Yid has a chelek but you will get a BIGGER chelek!

You may contact me with ideas.


Here you can listen to eulogies about Rov Nosson Tzvi. Some are in Hebrew some in Yiddish. If you don't understand Yiddish there is no better time than now to learn....

בנימין ביינוש בן חנה


Monday, November 14, 2011

"Harboring resentment is like letting someone you don't like live for free in your head without having to pay rent."

Who would want to do THAT???

10 Laudable Characteristics

Since this is "Be Nice To The Charedim Week" [see previous post] I would like to list 10 positive aspects of Charedi society. I am talking about the majority and all those students of Halacha know - אזלינן בתר רוב we follow the majority. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule.

1] They don't have internet in their homes. This is another way of saying that they don't have pornography in their homes.


2] They place a heavy emphasis on Torah study at all ages. Talmud Torah is indeed kineged koolam.

3] They put on a hat and jacket before davening following the gemara [shabbos 10] and shulchan aruch [see the little letter there] that one should dress nicely for the King.

4] They have separate seating at their simchas. The gemara and shulchan aruch [even haezer 21 - based on the CHUMASH] forbid a male from enjoying the beauty of a female. If a male can keep that law at a mixed wedding then he is one step below a malach. Most of us aren't.

5] They do loads of chessed and give tzedaka well beyond their means.

6] They follow and cling to great tzadikim following the gemara that says that to cling to a tzaddik brings one to G-d Himself. WOW!

7] They have lots of babies. To quote an outspoken anti-charedi Rabbi in Israel: "The best sherut leumi [national service] is to have babies." I LOVE babies. So does G-d. See Genesis:-).

8] They make aliyah in large numbers. Really. If you don't believe me go to Har Nof and try to find someone who speaks an Israeli hebrew.

9] They daven with a minyan. Any neighborhood with a large Charedi population is filled with minyanim.

10] Every summer they fill up large halls with thousands and thousands of women who leave their homes, comfort and sweet children in order to listen to someone tell them not to speak lashon hara. They come out not for entertainment, not for physical pleasure - but just to become better people. I find that inspiring.

מי כעמך ישראל!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Charedi Bashing - Is It Justified?: An Impassioned Offensive

Charedi bashing is IN! There was an article in the Jerusalem Post [which for the record I don't read - there is no ahavas Torah one will get from that paper, or just about any other..] about Post-Charedeism. People who are still religious but have become fed up with the Charedi world because of their many failings.

In the Zionist parsha sheet given out in shul "Birosh Yehudi" there was an interview with an ex-Charedi who HATES Charedim and started a website designed to help people leave the Charedi world. The article left one with a horribly bitter taste in one's mouth.

I have two short things to say [in lieu of the book I could write on the topic if my time wouldn't be better spent on Gemara]: The VERY SAME person who conducted the interview with the Charedi hater [=Jew hater, Charedim are Jews too:-)] also wrote a GLOWING article on Rov Nosson Tzvi Finkel ztz"l. Who produced Rov Nosson Tzvi as we know him? Not Ida Crown [even though he went there for high school - no offense] and not any other modern orthodox school. He is a product of hard core Charedi'ism. He was a tzaddik yesod olam and nobody could claim otherwise. He has thousands of CHAREDIM who aspire to follow in his footsteps. Shouldn't that at least temper the hostility??

Number two: Are there problems in Charedi society. Of course. Are there Charedim with bad middos? Some have terrible middos! Should more Charedi men be working? Many people think so and have sources in Chazal to support that contention. Should I enumerate all of the problems? NO! Because my point is that people should focus on the positive [unless they are constructively able to change things and frankly no one person is going to change the Charedi world]. THERE IS A WORLD OF POSITIVE!!! Their chesed, their idealism, their willingness to live in poverty in order to study Torah. There are sooo many tzaddikim and MASSIVE Talmidei Chachomim walking around. People whose lives are dedicated to Hashem and his people.

We could look at a Satmar chossid and say "He is opposed to the State of Israel. Crazy!" or we could look at the same chossid and say "Look at how he goes to the hospital every day to visit the sick and to give them food". We could look at a Lubavitcher and say "Meshugena - he thinks the Rebbe is Moshiach." Or we can say "Wow, he lives in Vietnam away from his entire people, his family and friends, a shul, in order to help some [often drugged up] Israeli find some meaning in his miserable life." We could look at a 35 year old talmid of Ponovitch and say "Why doesn't he get a job?" Or we can say "Wow, 35 years old and he knows shas cold."

Let us focus on the good. There is an abundance of good in all segments of the Jewish community. EVERY society has their fair share of problems. No group has a monopoly on goodness and rectitude. If you want to be a happy person and find favor in the eyes of G-d and man - always look for those rays of light and holiness.

If you seek - you will find.

Love and blessings!!

PS - Thanks to my friend D.R. who brought the certain sources to my attention, enabling me to somehow try to restore the lost honor of tens of thousands of Jews.

PPS - In Tolna, the custom is not to say Mar-Cheshvan but RAM- Cheshvan. Exalted - not bitter.

שתהיינה שפתותיו דובבות בקבר

I had a tyveh [hey we are all human and it is understood if we have tyves from time to time] to share Rav Berel Shwartzman's torah [see link in previous post]. The man was a tzaddik and gaon and why shouldn't the readers of Mevakesh enjoy his Torah. [Incidentally - a careful reading of the piece would please one with feminist leanings - although I am sure that he didn't intend it that way:-).] So here goes... From his sefer on Gittin!! May our souls be worthy of connecting to his pure soul through the learning of his Torah.

והנה הרמב"ם פ"ז מגירושין הכ"ד כ' וז"ל נתן לה גיטה והרי הגט יוצא מתחת ידה אינה צריכה לומר כלום והרי היא בחזקת מגורשת הואיל וגט שבידה כתוב כהלכתו והעדים חתומים עליו ואע"פ שאין אנו מכירין כתב העדים ולא נתקיים אין חוששין לה שמא זייפה אותה שהרי אינה מקלקלת על עצמה ועוד שהעדים החתומים על הגט הרי הן כמי שנחקרה עדותן בבי"ד עד שיהא שם מערער לפיכך נעמיד הגט בחזקתו ותנשא ואין חוששין שמא ימצא מזויף כמו שנעמיד הגט בחזקת כשר וכו' שאין דיני האיסורין כדיני הממונות עכ"ל

וצ"ע כל אריכות לשון הרמב"ם בזה שמתחילה כתב הטעם שאין חוששין לה שמא זייפה אותו משום שאינה חשודה לקלקל עצמה וגם מדאורייתא אי"צ קיום דעדות הגט כמי שנחקרה בבי"ד ואח"כ כתב עוד דאין חוששין שמא ימצא מזויף משום שמעמידים הגט בחזקת כשרות, ושוב סיים וכתב הטעם שאין חוששין לזיוף משום שאין דיני האיסורין כדיני ממונות וצ"ב איך מצטרפין ג' טעמים אלו יחד

ונראה דהנה בגט יש לדון להצריכו קיום משום ג' סיבות א' משום תקנת קיום בשטרות שכל זמן שלא נתקיים יהא ככל שטר שאינו מקויים דאינו שטר כלל דשיטת הרמב"ם היא שכל שטר שלא נתקיים אינו שטר כלל היינו שלאחר שתיקנו חכמים קיום בשטרות אם בא לפנינו שטר שאינו מקויים אין אנו פוסלין אותו רק מספק מחשש זיוף אלא שחסר בעצם הדין שטר ואינו שטר כלל וכאילו אין לפנינו כלל עדות כשרה עד שיתקיים. ב' גם אם נימא דשאני גט משאר שטרות וחשיב שטר גם כשאינו מקויים מ"מ יש לדון להצריכו קיום משום עצם החשש לזיוף ג' גם אם אנן לא חיישינן מצד שהגט מדאורייתא בחזקתו וגם מדרבנן לא חיישינן כדלקמן מ"מ מדין טענינן נפסול הגט דמכיון שהבעל נאמן לטעון מזויף כשלא נתקיים הגט כמש"כ הרמב"ם פ"ז מגירושין ה"ב ומשום שיש לו כח טענה לערער על השטר כמו בשטרי ממון שהנתבע יכול לטעון מזויף כל זמן שאין ודאות שהעדים חתמו ומחויב התובע לברר תביעתו וא"כ ממילא יהא גם דין טענינן שגם אם הבעל אינו טוען מזויף אנן טענינן ליתומים וללקוחות במקומו.

וזה נראה כונת הרמב"ם דמתחילה כתב לבאר הטעם ש"אין חוששין לה שמא זייפה אותו שהרי אינה מקלקלת על עצמה ועוד שהעדים החתומים על הגט הרי הן כמי שנחקרה עדותן בבי"ד" היינו דגט שאינו מקויים הוי גט משום דמדאורייתא יש דין נחקרה ולא חיישינן כלל וגם התקנה של קיום שטרות מדרבנן ליכא בגט משום שאינה חשודה לקלקל עצמה וממילא שטרא דגט נחשב שטרא מעליא גם בלא קיום. אח"כ הוסיף הרמב"ם עוד "ואין חוששין שמא ימצא מזויף כמו שנעמיד הגט בחזקת כשר" היינו שמתירין אותה לינשא ע"פ גט זה ולא מצריכין אותה לקיימו מחשש שמא יבוא הבעל ויברר וימצא שהגט מזויף משום שהגט בחזקת כשרות כל זמן שלא בא הבעל וערער ושוב הוסיף וכתב "שאין דין האיסורין כדיני הממונות" היינו שהגם שהגט בחזקת כשרות מ"מ אמאי לא טענינן מזויף כשם שטוענין ליתומים וללקוחות כפי שנתקשו תוס' הנ"ל אמאי גט בא"י כשר בלא קיום ולא טענינן, ע"ז כ' הרמב"ם שאין דיני הממונות כדיני האיסורין והיינו דהגט נחשב לשטר של איסורין שבא להתירה לינשא ולא שייך טענינן אלא בממונות ולא באיסורין וכעין זה כ' הר"ן ג' ע"א ברי"ף ראין להוכיח ממתני' דלא טענינן ליתומים וללקוחות לפי שאין האשה ממונו של בעל אלא ברשות עצמה היא לינשא ואנן לא מנעינן לה ע"ש

מאידך בהאי טעמא לחודי' לא סגי דמ"מ מצד הגט עצמו יחשב בלי קיום לחספא בעלמא כמי שאין עליו עדים וע"ז לא מהני הטעם שאין דין האיסורין כדיני הממונות דלגבי חשש זיוף אין סברא לחלק בין איסורין לממונות ואדרבה איסורין חמירי טפי ואזלינן

בספיקא דאיסורא לחומרא לכן הוצרך גם לפרש שהגט מצד עצמו אינו צריך קיום וכמש"נ

ואני הקטן הצעיר באלפי ישראל מוסיף שדברי פי חכם חן - ושם האריך בסוגיא עיי"ש ותרווה נחת.

The Power Of Forgiveness

A myseh that happened in Yerushalayim told by Rav Gamliel Rabinovitch Shlita the famous mekubal.

A certain man had a daughter who got engaged. He made a party for her and called it for a certain hour. As is well known - Jews have their own concept of time [they say that דיוק - puncuality, stands for ו'ען ד'י י'ידין ק'ימען - when the Jews arrive...] and at the appointed hour nobody had arrived yet. So he sat and waited. Then a man came who was an uncle of the chosson. So they started to talk. You know how it goes when people start talking about which people each if them knows in common, and who is related to who etc. etc. After talking for a while they realized that they had actually studied together in the same yeshiva decades before.

Do you remember, asked the uncle of the chosson, how one of the boys was locked in a room by the other boys! The boy was screaming to let him out and was banging on the door .. but nothing helped. Was thaaaat fuuuunnnyyy!!! Ahhhh the world of bochrim!

Suddenly the father of the kallah's face became red and he said - "That was ME in the room. I have been suffering from that incident for years. I will never forget the humiliation I suffered and will never forgive the people who did it to me."

The uncle of the chosson said "It was me who locked you in."

"Well then, I will never forgive you!"

The uncle of the chosson started pleading with him for forgiveness but to no avail. He kept returning to the man over a period of time but he was rebuffed again and again. He even offered a respectable sum of money in return for mechilah but nothing helped.

FINALLY, the father of the kallah relented and forgiveness was granted. They had a li'chaim together and everybody felt better.

EXACTLY a year later the uncle of the chosson had his first child, a son, after 35 [!!!] years of marriage.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

In addition to the great Rov Nosson Tzvi ztz"l, klal yisroel lost another gadol. Read about him here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vayeira: What a Smile is Worth

Parshat Vayeira begins with the famous story has become emblematic of midat hachessed (characteristic of kindness) that defines the Jewish people. Rav Nissan Alpert that because this serves as the paradigmatic act of chessed, Hashem wanted to show us the most ideal way to perform an act of kindness for another individual; each detail reveals a different dimension of Avraham’s kindness.

The Torah tells us that despite his pain (in the aftermath of his circumcision) and the heat of the day that the Torah describes, Avraham excitedly ran towards the strangers literally jumping at the opportunity to give them nourishment and a moments rest on their journey (8:2).

The details of the story tell us that Avraham did not act because he felt obliged to do so; nor did he feel resentful that the travelers were partaking in his food and would presumably never repay him the favor. Noticeably, the only description lacking detail is that of the three men. For Avraham these details were irrelevant - the fact that they were in need was enough to get Avraham running to greet and to treat them.

Sometimes the challenge of "doing a favor", or an act of chessed goes beyond the physical labor or time that is required – the real challenge is in the internal workings of our mind as we are doing it. Are we frustrated, annoyed and bitter? Or, instead are we excited and honored to be helping out a friend, or even a stranger, to make their lives a little easier and sweeter?

Chazal suggest that the reason Hashem specifically sent angels, who do not depend on food for nourishment, was to emphasize that the one who benefited the most was not the recipient of the deed. The paradox of the giver becoming the taker is fundamental to Jewish thought and practice; it is not just the ability to give that defines us as the descendents of Avraham Avinu, but the pleasure we feel when we seize the opportunity to do so. When we will feel the same elation as Avraham did to do a chessed, this internal reality will translate into a more complete, thoughtful, and rewarding act of kindness. Whether you do the favor with a smile or a frown on your face takes the same amount of time and effort on your end, but makes a world of a difference for the person on the other end, and the amount you give becomes exponentially greater.

In closing, I just want to point to another lesson to be gleaned from our parsha that relates to character development. We learn from this weeks parsha, among others, that the Torah's way of imprinting in us the proper way to conduct ourselves is through the model, the example, of Avraham Avinu. So too, whether we are teachers, parents, friends, or neighbors, the best way to influence others to strengthen their middot tovot (positive qualities) is by modeling for them in our own lives. Shabbat Shalom, Taly

"True friendship is like good health. It is rarely appreciated until it is lost."

A Open Letter

This is a letter I sent to my friends and am reprinting it here so it reaches more friends.

“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes


I am excited to share that our Kollel Iyun HaNefesh is successfully running with an all time high of nine members [which is exactly nine more than we had when we started!]. This was only accomplished thanks to YOU! I often note that the very first word out of the mouth of a Jew every morning is "thanks" and a Jew is called "Yehudi" after Yehuda who is named for the fact that Leah his mother felt gratitude and "thanks" to Hashem. We are a nation of thankers. So THANK YOU ALL!!

This zman we are starting and finishing Maseches Shvuos בעזרת השם. This is in the spirit of Rov Nosson Tzvi Finkel [the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir who was niftar this week] who exhorted his students to cover ground and complete Shas.The fellows will also be writing a summary of the entire Mesechta ensuring retention and clarity. We also have a set mussar seder every single time we learn, making us one of the few kollelim in the world whose members are required to immerse themselves in the works of character improvement and Jewish thought.

We are also about to publish our first sefer of Chiddushei Torah!! The sefer is called "Simchas HaNefesh" and will hopefully be a best seller. Check your New York Times in the next few weeks to see if it made the best seller list:-). As word of our Kollel is spreading we are getting more applicants for whom the common denominator is that we have to turn them all away. The guilty color is green and the guilty material is paper. Not enough green paper.

Anybody who would like to sponsor a kollel fellow for an entire month the cost is a mere [tax deductible] 300 dollars. An entire year would then be 3,600 dollars [if my math is off you know why I went into chinuch and not a profession that deals with numbers]. In return, one receives the merit of his learning and the merit of helping a family in Jerusalem eat. In addition, we would like to publish a second book and dedication opportunities are available. We also daven daily for our donors [if we have their names] including many tfillos at the Kotel by yours truly.

At some point I will be in the United States [this must first be discussed with the Vice President of the Kollel and mother of my children] and would be happy to meet with anyone and also give shiurim anywhere [for free of course. G-d teaches for free, we aspire to emulate Him]. May Hashem bless you all with health, wealth and boundless joy!!

Love and Blessings and תמיד בשמחה,

Elchonon [Ally] Ehrman

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


What is the pnimiyus of man, the deepest hidden part?

Take the word אדם, the "inside" of the אל"ף is לפ, the inside of the דל"ת is לת and the inside of the מ"ם is מ, you emerge with the word ....


That is the essence of man - a davener!!

[Ben Ish Chai - heard from Rav Moshe Schapiro]

Please Daven

Names of the Yeshiva Bachrim from Waterbury Yeshiva who were that terrible crash who are in critical condition:
Meir Aryeh Leib ben Ferel Hindel
Yisrael ben Nechama Ahuvah [someone else said the name is "Yisrael ben Nechama Matel"]
Yoel ben Bracha Ahuvah
Avraham ben Bracha Sarah Brindel

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Love Thine Enemy

A man once came to Rav Kook and asked him to write a letter in order to help him get money for his sick daughter. As Rav Kook was writing he asked the man his name. The man answered. It turns out that this man was one of the people who used to arrange for large posters to be placed around the walls of Jerusalem ["pashkivilim"] denigrating and disgracing Rav Kook.

The eyewitness to this story [Rav Havlin, a well known Chabad Chossid] said he watched Rav Kook's hand and said it didn't hesitate for even a fraction of a second. He continued to write as if nothing had happened. Rav Havlin concluded the story by saying "A moifes [wonder] like this I have never seen".

[Related by Rav Yaakov Shapira Rosh Yeshivas Mercaz HaRav on Gimmel Elul at the Churva Shul heard here. It's worth a listen.]

Missing Kedusha

The Satmar Rov was known for his sharp wit. A good friend sent me the following story:

A litvishe guy went to visit the Satmer Rov. The Rov asked how old he was and he said 19. The Rov asked if he is married, and he answered that he is not. The Rov said "Nu, ben shmone esreh l'chupa". The boy answered "I have a long shmone esreh."

The Satmer Rov responded "If you have a long shmone esreh, you miss kedusha."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pleasure Seekers

When two parties make a covenant it is called כריתת ברית. Now that is strange because a bris brings people together and "krisa" [as in "chayav kares"] is to cut apart??

When you want to connect to someone else you have to give up part of yourself and your own egotistical desires. "Krisa" - cut away part of yourself, and you can now make a "bris", a true covenant. [Maharal]

Maybe the symbolism of bris milah is that we are "cutting off" [literally] the part of us that represents our progeny and future generations and dedicating it to G-d.

We live in a generation of pleasure for the sake of pleasure. וכל המרבה הרי זה משובח. The Torah stops us and says "ENJOY!! But for Hashem and with Hashem and according to His rules." Somebody who really believes knows that the laws that seemingly limit and curb our pleasure are really meant to maximize our pleasure. I know many people who think - on some level - that they are smarter than G-d! He just doesn't understand [so they think], that to really enjoy a relationship one can't be shomer negiyah. So they aren't.

But the opposite is true. The GREATEST PLEASURE is when one is in CONTROL of ones desires and not the other way around. TRUE pleasure is being a SPIRITUAL BEING with the body at one's disposal to reach spiritual heights.

I know quite a few people who are immersed in pleasures of the body - and they SUFFER GREATLY. A groyse paradox!!

Inability to control appetite spells obesity. Excessive avarice oftens causes one to end up in jail. Not putting the brakes on a persons most powerful urge [the one bris milah is supposed to elevate] results in divorce, loss of respect in one's children's eyes, hatred, pain, loneliness, loss of financial assests. And maybe worst of all - loss of SELF-RESPECT. Full recovery is almost an impossibility.

I speak sweetest friends not because of what goes on amongst the goyim - but because AGAIN AND AGAIN it happens amongst people who attend shul [with a mechitza!!] and send their kids to yeshiva day school.

People can't control themselves.

No! People CHOOSE not to control themselves. And they pay a BITTER price. And so does everyone else around them.

I have known numerous innocent victims who suffer daily.

May we focus on getting true pleasure. Pleasure from a daf gemara, a perek tehillim, a maase chesed, a kind word, Shabbos. From hugging a Yid. Pleasure from Hashem.

טעמו וראו כי טוב השם! He is, kiviyachol, delicious!!!

Everything else might LOOK appealing but beneath the veneer is poison!

וחי בהם - Keeping the Torah should be our chiyus, our vitality!

Love and blessings!!! :-)
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

Or in our literature - כל הפוסל במומו פוסל

Sweetest friends - if one's heart is filled with love it is easy to see good in others. If one has anger, antipathy, hostility, resentment etc. it is expressed in the way he views others.

How does one fill his heart with love?


Maybe for a different post - but it is better that you think about it yourself. Mevakesh wants people to THINK.

An all too rare activity in our Facebook/Youtube/DVD generation.
A tzaddik sent me these headlines from the news and asked how to make sense of everything. I of course don't know, but being the 11th of Cheshvan maybe Hashem wants us to cry more. People by nature are very focused on themsleves, a G-dly person is able to experience the suffering of others.

Tragedy: 3-Year-Old Burned To Death Alive In Blaze In Eretz Yisrael.

TRAGEDY IN CONNECTICUT: Two Bochrim Killed In Crash While Travelling To Waterbury Yeshiva.

TRAGEDY IN MONSEY: Child Struck By Vehicle In Monsey Is Niftar.

Toddler Who Drowned In Tub Was Niftar Monday.

ויהי רצון שהשם הטוב יאמר לצרותינו די ויגאלנו גאולת עולמים

On Our Collective Bubby's Yahrtzeit...

Mama Rochel cry for us again
Won't you shed a tear for your dear children
בזכותך ושבו בנים לגבולם

קיילא רות בת חיה רחל

Please daven for Kayla Rus bas Chaya Rochel, a girl who found out she has a tumor.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

רק בשמחה


Some people unconsciously decide that they are not going to be happy until they get "x". A husband, a wife, a child, a job, improved health etc. WHY WAIT?? Be happy right NOW at this very moment. Without a husband or a date for the last three months. Without what you want. With the flu or an annoying neighbor or wife or husband. No matter what. Yes - we have that capacity. Hard - but possible!

If you don't have what your heart desires that is an indication that Hashem decided that it is better for you not to have it. So rejoice in the knowledge that you have EXACTLY what you need at this moment to fulfill your purpose on earth. And enjoy praying that you get what you want in the future. But NOW? Just simcha.

Rav Meir Schapiro was the one who spread the idea of daf yomi and he was Rosh Yeshiva of the famed Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. He died prematurely at the age of 46 [his yahrtzeit was last week]. When he was so sick that he could no longer talk he motioned for someone to bring him a pen, whereupon he wrote his last words on earth.

I quote:

רק בשמחה


Some cities have a policy that in order to collect money, one must first stand before a committee and prove that he is really needy, whereupon he receives a certificate allowing him to collect. Rav Menashe Klein ztz"l [one of the greatest gaonim of our generation who passed away erev rosh hashana] wrote a responsum in the 13th volume of his Mishne Halachos FORBIDDING this practice [the questioner was a Rov from Chicago]. He says that this process humiliates the poor.

I like that! Sensitivity to the plight of the poor. Poor people have feelings too!!

And please sweetest friends, before you send me emails arguing with him - please read the teshuva!


Something to think about as we read about Sodom in this weeks parsha.

PS - A groyser yasher koach to YF who posted the teshuva in the comments for all to read.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mazel Tov

A HUUUUUUGGGEEEE Mazel Tov to Reb Daniel and Shulie Zweigbaum on their marrige. May these two special neshamas build a HOLY home filled with Divine light and inspiration, and of course - simcha tomid!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lech Lecha: Putting Theory into Practice

Many people wonder why the Torah does not give us any explicit background information about Avraham Avinu, and how he emerged to be the greatest spiritual leader. Various answers are offered, and I want to suggest just one lesson Torah teaches by starting the story of Avraham at the precise moment it does.

At the start of Parshat Lech Lecha Avraham sets out on a journey. In trying to understand why Hashem was so ambiguous about Avraham’s final destination (to a land that I will show you), the Sfat Emet suggests that Hashem was giving Avraham the opportunity to show his greatness, which was his willingness to display his faith by following the command of Hashem even when he did not understand where his mission would take him.

This is perhaps the most pivotal moment in Avraham’s life, as it is here that Avraham put into action all of the theological and philosophical thoughts that he had over the past decades of his life. In taking this giant leap of faith forward into the unknown, Avraham was finally able to both demonstrate and establish his faith through action. This was not only a display of great and genuine faith, but also a deepening of Avraham's trust and belief in G-d.

Imagine the first time you have the opportunity to demonstrate your love, appreciation, or trust in someone close to you - certainly you feel an excitement as well as a deepening of the feelings that you had all along when they are finally expressed in action. That is precisely the ecstasy that Avraham felt in finally being able to not only think about the Divine or even speak to the Divine, but to finally show his awareness of G-d’s greatness by "blindly" and faithfully following his command.

Judaism is not a religion of mindless action, but just the same it is not a religion whose practice is in theory alone. Avraham’s early years of meditating about the Divine was essential, and learning about G-d is fundamental to living a Torah life and growing spiritually, but that is just part of what Judaism is about. While Judaism is a religion of deep thought and constant contemplation, the essence of Jewish faith is putting the theory into practice. May we all continue to strengthen our trust in all our relationships, and continue to seize opportunities to demonstrate, inculcate, and reinforce our beliefs by putting them into practice. Shabbat Shalom, Taly


Tonight we started say "Visein tal umatar" asking for rain. And, behold, a rainstorm!

Hashem should always answer our prayers so fast!!

A eulogy for our beloved Rav Benny here.

The Secrets Of Chinuch

A good friend voluntarily translated the letter I posted earlier today. I thank her very much. She wishes to remain anonymous, otherwise I would publicly say really nice things about her, thereby embarrassing her. But I will say she loves Torah and Hashem, lives in Israel and is single.

י"ז אייר תשמ"א, יום ה' לסדר אם בחקותי תלכו ומשפטי תשמרו ועשיתם אותם.

17th Iyyar 5741, Yom Chamishi of Parshas Bechukosai.
לכבוד ר' מרדכי עמנואל שליט"א, קיבוץ שעלבים.
ראש הישיבה ר"י גוסטמן שליט"א קיבל את שאלתך בענין חינוך, וביקש ממני לכתוב לך את תשובתו.
הנה, ענין חינוך הבנים אינו רק מצוות עשייה, שהמצוה לעשות דבר, ובעשיית הדבר קיים המצוה; מצות חינוך היא מצוה לעשות פעולות להגיע אל תכלית, דהיינו להדריך ולהדריך את הבנים ביראת ה' ובאהבתו, וישמח הבן בלימוד ובקיום המצוות, ולא יעשם רק כעול המוטל עליו מהוריו, אלא שתחילת לימודו יהיה באופן שהתלמיד ילך בדרך זו כל ימי חייו.

The topic of chinuch is not simply a mitvas asiyah, wherein you take certain actions and the mitzva is accomplished; rather, the mitzva of chinuch is a mitzva to do actions aimed towards a purpose, namely to guide children towards awe of G-d and towards loving Him, so that the child will take delight in learning and in the fulfillment of mitzvos, and will not do them as if they were a yoke his parents burdened him with; instead, the beginning of his learning should be such that the student will [wish to] continue in this path all the days of his life.

והנה, כשם שפרצופיהן של כל אחד אינם דומים זה לזה, כך דעותיהם ומידותיהם וכישרונותיהם של כל אחד הם טיפוס מיוחד, וצריכים חכמה גדולה וסיעתא דשמיא לחנך כל אחד לפי הדרך המסוגל לו, כמו שכתוב 'חנוך לנער על פי דרכו גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה'. ומפסוק זה אנו לומדים שני דברים. א: החנוך לנער הוא על פי 'דרכו', דהיינו שיש לכל נער דרך שמסוגל לו, והדרך בחינוך צריך להתאים לתנאים המוצרכים ליחיד. וב: 'גם כי יזקין' – שתכלית החינוך הוא שלא יסור ממנה גם כי יזקין.

Realize that just as the facial features of each individual are distinct from those of others, so are the [דעות] and middos and talents of each one unique, and it requires great wisdom and siyata d’shmaya to teach each one according to his ideal path, at it says, “Teach the child according to his path, and even in his old age he will not stray from it.” From this pasuk we learn two things. א: Chinuch for a child must be according to “his path,” which is to say that each child has a path that is ideal for him, and the path in chinuch must match his distinct needs. ב: “Even in his old age” - that the purpose of chinuch is [to ensure] that “he will not stray from it” even when he is older.

כל ילד בהתפתחותו צריך למלמד, וגם צריך להתרגל בעבודה בעצמו, דהיינו שבעצמו ילמוד ויעשה מצוות ויתחנך ברגשי היראה. ועוד צריך ילד רך בשנים עיתים להתפתחות הגשמית, כמ"ש בבבא בתרא כא, א 'ומכניסין אותן כבן שש כבן שבע', ועיין בתוס' ד"ה כבן שכתב כבן שש בבריא כבן שבע בכחוש. וכן כתב בספר החינוך מצוה תי"ט "וראוי לכל בן דעת שיתן לבו שלא להכביד על הילד בלימוד בעודנו רך האברים ורך הלבב, עד שיגדל ויתחזק כח לבו ותוקף אבריו ועצמותיו ימלאו מוח ויוכל לסבול יגיעת הלימוד". עכ"ל. והטעם בזה הוא פשוט כמו שכתבנו, שמצות החינוך אינה רק מצוות עשייה שעושים מעשה ונפטרים, אלא שמצות חינוך היא לעשות פעולות שגם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה.

Every child, as he progresses, needs למלמד, and also needs to become used to working by himself, for by himself he will learn and do mitzvos and educate himself in feelings of yir’ah. Further, a young child requires time for physical development, as it says in Bava Basra 21.1, “And you shall bring him in at age six or seven,” and in Tosfos there כבן שש בבריא כבן שבע בכחוש. And thus writes the Sefer HaChinuch, mitzva 419: “And it is appropriate for all men to take care not to overburden his child with learning when he is still young of body and young of heart, until he grows and his will increases, and his limbs and bones strengthen and his brain is ready to bear the exertion of learning.

ועוד יש להוסיף במצות חינוך, שיש בה שתי מצוות. האחת, שהאב חייב ללמד את בנו לכל הפחות [וז"ל החינוך מצוה תי"ט] 'עד שידע לקרות בספר תורה ויבין פירוש הכתובים כפשוטן'. עכ"ל. ויש עוד מצוה, כמ"ש בקידושין דף ל, א 'ושננתם – שיהו דברי תורה מחודדים בפיך, שאם ישאל לך אדם דבר אל תגמגם ותאמר לו אלא אמור לו מיד' וכו'. ופשוט דזהו בכל התורה כולה, כמ"ש שם שמלמדו 'מקרא משנה ותלמוד אגדות והלכות', שאל תגמגם אלא אמור לו מיד. ביאור הדבר, שאם לא לימדו לקרות בספר תורה על זה כתב החינוך שביטל מצות ושננתם ולא יצא ידי חובת המצוה כלל, אבל עד שילמדו כל התורה וידעה בלי גמגום עדין אביו מקיים מצות ושננתם, שהוא מצות חינוך. [ובאופן הלימוד בתורה עי' ברכות ו, ב רש"י ד"ה אגרא דפרקא ורש"י ד"ה אגרא דשמעתתא, ושם בדף מז, ב רש"י ד"ה שלא שימש ת"ח]. וכמו שהוא בלימוד תורה כן הוא ביתר הדינים שבמצות חינוך – דעד שיגיעו מעשיו ומידותיו למעשה אבות העולם שכך חשק ה' בהם עדיין הוא מקיים מצות חינוך, ולזה צריך שישים מגמתו ושאיפתו.

As well, let it be added that mitzva of chinuch contains two mitzvot within it. The first is that the father is obligated to teach his child, at the least, (as is written in the Chinuch, mitzva 419) “Until he is able to read from a sefer torah and understand the simple meaning of the text [meaning the Chumash? Or Ketuvim? Text in general?].” Ad kan leshono [end of citation]. And there is another mitzva, as it says in Kiddushin 30.1: “vishinantam -- that the words of Torah should be sharp in your mouths, so that if a man asks of you, ‘Speak [about Torah]!’ you will not have to hesitate, but will be able to speak immediately.” And it is pashut that it should be thus with kol hatorah kula, as it says there to teach him “Mikre, mishna and talmud, aggada and halachot,” so that he need not hesitate but can speak immediately. To clarify, if he does not teach his son to read from a sefer torah, the Chinuch states that he has ביטל the mitzva of vishinantam and has not fulfilled his obligation at all; but until he teaches him the whole torah so that he knows it without hesitation, the father is still continuing to fulfill the mitzva of vishinantam, that is to say the mitzva of chinuch. And as it is with limud torah, thus is it with the other laws in the mitzvos of chinuch - that until his actions and middos reach those of the Avos, as Hashem wishes, he is still fulfilling the mitzva of chinuch, and it is towards this goal that he should aspire.

ועל פי זה מוסברת הברכה 'ישימך אלוקים כאפרים וכמנשה' שאנו מברכים בה את הילדים. וקשה, איך נעיז פנינו לבקש בקשה גדולה כ"כ שיהיו כאפרים וכמנשה, ומדוע לא נברך אותם שיהיו כחפץ חיים זצ"ל, שבוודאי אושר גדול יהיה לנו אם בנינו יהיו כחפץ חיים? אלא ששאיפתנו צריכה להיות שיהיו כאבות העולם, ולזה אנו צריכים לתת מאוויינו ותכלית החינוך, ואם נשתדל שיהיו כאבות העולם - אז יהיו בני תורה, ואל לנו לוותר על כיוון ותכלית זה.אבל לפי מה שביארנו שתכונות כל אחד שונות, וצריך חכמה מיוחדת לחינוך כל אחד, לפעמים צריכים נסיגה קטנה אחורנית בכדי להשיג אחר כך התקדמות גדולה קדימה. וכיון שכל ילד שונה מחברו, לכן לכל ילד ובכל מצב יש דרך אחרת, אבל העיקר הוא לדעת ולכוון בתחילה שסוף כל הדרכים יגיע אל התכלית המבוקש.

According to this we can explain the bracha, “May Hashem make you like Efraim and Menashe,” with which we bless our children. It is difficult to understand how we can dare to request something so great as to be like Efraim and Menashe; why do we not bless them to be like the Chofetz Chaim? Surely we would be delighted to have our children be like the Chofetz Chaim? But our aspirations must be that they be like the Avos, and we must aim towards this target; and if we try to make them like the Avos - then they will turn out as bnei torah, and ואל לנו לוותר על כיוון ותכלית זה - but according to what we have previously explained, that everyone has different characteristics, and we require special wisdom to educate each one - sometimes we need to take a small step back in order to later achieve a great step forward. And since each child is unique, every child and every situation requires a different path, but the essential point is to know and to aim carefully at the beginning so that the end of all the paths reaches the desired goal.

ועל פי זה נראה לפרש הגמ' בשבת קד, א שנדחקו בה כמה מפרשים, 'אמרי רבנן לריב"ל אתו דרדקי האידנא לבי מדרשא ואמרו מילי דאפילו בימות יהושע בן נון לא איתמר כוותייהו' וכו', עיין שם הסוגיא. והנה קשה, מה מלמדנו שצריך ללמד לדרדקי? ונראה שמשמיענו שבתחילת לימוד קטנים, כשהם דרדקי, כשמלמדם אלף בית, כבר מוסרים להם משלים שידיעתם הוא בסודות התורה הגדולים והמופלאים. דבשעת לימוד אלף בית אין התכלית רק אלף בית, וכשיזכה ללמוד חומש אז התכלית הוא ללמוד חומש וכן במשניות ובגמ', אלא שתחילת לימודו הוא על מנת ללמוד לאח"כ כל התורה כולה, ואפילו סודות שלא הודיעום בימות יהושע בן נון.

And according to this we can explain the Gemara in Shabbos 104.1 [We interrupt this translation for the following information: Your translator does not understand Aramaic.]

ולהאריך בדברים אלו צריך קונטרס מיוחד, ובפרט שכל יחיד הוא עולם מלא. לכן ישתדל שאופן הלימוד יהיה כזה המביאו

לתכלית המבוקש כמ"ש.

And to speak at length on these matters would require a kuntreis of its own, particularly as each individual is an entire world. Therefore let us attempt to make the method of learning be thus, to arrive at the intended goal as we have written.

וה' יצליח דרכו לגדל דור ישרים אשר צדיקים ילכו בו.

הכותב בשם הראש ישיבה ר"י גוסטמן שליט"א, מיכל ברניקר