Monday, April 30, 2012

Fight It Out

"For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de-humidifier... I put them in the same room and let them fight it out."

Sweet Dreams

I have spoken about the centrality of dreams in the Torah and in our lives.

A myseh with yours truly [that I will be vague about because of the personal nature of the issue]. Some time back I had a disturbing dream. When I awoke I interpreted the dream as expressing a certain fear that I harbored. I was satisfied that I understood the inner workings of my psyche. "KNOW THYSELF", cried Socrates. I understood how I was feeling and what was bothering me.

Lo and behold - What I dreaded happening actually DID:-)! אשר יגורתי בא לי!!

Then why am I smiling? I am smiling because a Yid must ALWAYS SMILE [see the last Rema in Orach Chaim].

Also, because once again I see the power of dreams. First, the dream was merely expressing a fear but in retrospect there was actually a spark of Ruach Hakodesh involved. A dream is your neshama telling you the secrets of your soul and reality. My neshama is no holier than yours [probably much less.......]. So pay heed to your dreams and KNOW THYSELF. I try to.....

Love and blessings, besoros tovos and SWEET DREAMS for us all!!  

The Second Round

What should be the MOST SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE? The second marriage because the partners have experience. They really know what doesn't work.
The following statistics were complied from the National Center for Health Statistics (2002):
Fifteen percent of second marriages ended after 3 years and almost a quarter after 5 years.
The divorce rate following re-marriage is higher than that for the first marriage.

Why? Why can't people learn from their mistakes? Of course each individual case is different but I think it's safe to suggest a rule. People, generally,  don't change. They have their patterns, habits, attitudes and behaviors which even when proven ineffective and even harmful to themselves and others are consistently repeated. 

Change is hard - but not impossible.

And THAT is what this blog is about:-). 

Quote Of The Day

The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.

לא תחנם When The Gentile Already Owns Land

A mini chabura based on the teachings of אור ישראל וקדושו הכהן הגדול הרב אברהם יצחק הכהן קוק זצוק"ל.

This Toiiiiraahhhh should be לעילוי נשמת my two holy grandmothers נשמתן עדן Chana bas R' Yitzchak Yonah and Chana bas R' Meir Zev [and I'll bet you can guess what my little daughter's first name is....]

There is an איסור to sell land to gentiles in Israel from the pasuk לא תחנם which is interpreted to mean לא תתן להם חנייה בקרקע - don't give them a dwelling in the land. There is a svara to say that if the gentile already owns land it would be permitted to sell him additional land because even without the sale he has חנייה בקרקע. However, if the gentile sells his original plot of land then one might say that now retroactively the seller has enabled him to dwell in the land and thus it would be forbidden to sell it in the first place. One can yet still argue [Jews like to argue...] that בתר השתא אזלינן - we follow the present circumstances and if NOW there is no איסור then we aren't concerned with what might happen in the future and it is permitted.

We may travel faaaar away from our topic of לא תחנם and bring a proof that בתר השתא אזלינן from a gemara in meseches shabbos that talks about the איסור of plucking out tzaraas hairs. We know that in order to have tzaraas one must have a minimum of two hairs. So if one has three hairs and plucks out one he would still have tzaraas. With that background we learn...

ZUGT DER HEILIGE GEMAAAAAWWWWREEEEE [Shabbos 94b] : One who plucks out the signs of tumah from tzaraas or sears off a michya [a patch of skin with the appearance of healthy flesh within the afflicted area] transgresses a לא תעשה. It was stated - One who plucks out one of two hairs is חייב. If one plucks out one of three, Rav Nachman said חייב and Rav Sheshes said פטור.

Rav Nachman said חייב because the person's action is potentially consequential for if one more hair somehow becomes removed, the tumah will depart. Rav Sheshes said פטור because now the tumah is still present [for two white hairs remain in place] השתא מיהת הא איתא לטומאה.

So we see that according to Rav Sheshes we follow the present בתר השתא אזלינן and even though in the future one hair becomes removed and the tumah will depart, nevertheless now there are still two hairs and that is sufficient to absolve him of any wrongdoing. So, too, in our לא תחנם case בתר השתא אזלינן and by selling him land he isn't being given חנייה בקרקע.


Ayyyyyy - but what about Rav Nachman [from the gemara - not from Uman].  He holds that if the action is potentially consequential he IS חייב. So, too, if he sells land to a person who already owns land he will be חייב because the gentile might sell the orignal plot of land and the present sale will become halachically significant.    

However it would seem that even according to Rav Nachman he is פטור. For the gemara continues: Rav Sheishes said, From where do I know to say this? For we learned in our Mishna: And similarly, if one carried from domain to domain part of a corpse the size of an olive etc. he is חייב. This implies that if he carries the size of half an olive he is פטור. However, this is problematic because a braisa taught that if one removed a piece of a corpse the size of half an olive he is חייב etc. etc. Rav Nachman answered that the person is פטור [as the mishna implies] when he takes a half an olive from a large corpse, i.e. a corpse big enough that even if more was taken from it, it would still retain enough mass to transmit tumah. In such a case the persons act is clearly inconsequential and for this reason the mishna implies that he is פטור.

According to this, if the gentile owns a large amount of land, selling him more would be inconsequential because even if he sells some land there would still be a lot more left.

Now - please do me a personal favor and look in tosphos ד"ה והא דאפיק and see how his דיוק would pose a question to our thesis and then look in the sefer שבת הארץ in the preface page נב and you will find a חילוק that will dance and you will see נפלאות מתורת השם! [If you don't have it I can send you a pdf].

Would LOVE to hear people's insights ומכל מלמדי השכלתי - see previous post:-).

Love and blessingsssssss

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why Be Religious?

William James from "Pragmatism - A New Name For Some Old Ways Of Thinking"

[Pragmatism’s] only test of probable truth is what works best in the way of leading us, what fits every part of life best and combines with the collectivity of experience’s demands, nothing being omitted. If theological ideas should do this, if the notion of God, in particular, should prove to do it, how could pragmatism possibly deny God’s existence? She could see no meaning in treating as ‘not true’ a notion that was pragmatically so successful. What other kind of truth could there be, for her, than all this agreement with concrete reality?
…The notion of God… however inferior it may be in clearness to those mathematical notions so current in mechanical philosophy, has at least this practical superiority over them, that it guarantees an ideal order that shall be permanently preserved. A world with a God in it to say the last word, may indeed burn up or freeze, but we then think of him as still mindful of the old ideals and sure to bring them elsewhere to fruition; so that, where he is, tragedy is only provisional and partial, and shipwreck and dissolution not the absolutely final things. This need of an eternal moral order is one of the deepest needs of our breast. And those poets, like Dante and Wordsworth, who live on the conviction of such an order, owe to that fact the extraordinary tonic and consoling power of their verse. Here then, in these different emotional and practical appeals, in these adjustments of our concrete attitudes of hope and expectation, and all the delicate consequences which their differences entail, lie the real meanings of materialism and spiritualism—not in hair-splitting abstractions about matter’s inner essence, or about the metaphysical attributes of God. Materialism means simply the denial that the moral order is eternal, and the cutting off of ultimate hopes; spiritualism means the affirmation of an eternal moral order and the letting loose of hope.

I will tell you what I think sweet, beloved friends [by golly - otherwise, what is the blog for?? Just to make sports references?!]. One should be religious because it is absolute truth. G-d revealed Himself at Sinai and gave us the Torah. But one should also be mindful of the fact that being religious [if done correctly] also contributes to a much greater level of emotional health than the alternative. I know a lot of people who don't keep much and I don't find that the lack of discipline or meaning in their lives makes them any happier.

Sometimes you need a wise gentile to open your eyes.

Thanks Will.


Learning From Others

In a recent post I mentioned that I am an "Observant Jew" in that I observe Jews. A thought....

People are fascinating. I have never ever met a person who wasn't. Every person I know with any depth is an entire sugya. More - an entire world. Seeing how people react, think, feel, perceive, act etc. etc. is a never ending source of interest. Never ever are two people even alike.

I, like everybody else have certain patterns of behavior and thought in which I repeatedly engage. It comes naturally. The relationships I maintain teach me alternatives which I might not have otherwise considered.

Examples: I know someone who is super-easygoing. Doesn't get angry. Doesn't hold grudges. Just "goes with the flow".  By nature I am not like that but when I interact with this person it enables me to consider employing this person's more effective and G-dly behavior. מכל מלמדי השכלתי.

I know a person who is giving almost to a fault. He would give away everything he had if he could [if his wife would let...]. Seeing him crushes my own natural selfish inclinations.

I know a person who makes me feel like a million bucks [how does a million bucks feel???]. This makes me want to make others feel like a million bucks. I learn HOW to do it and THAT I should do it.

I know a person with a tremndous ayin tova. Someone who has pleasure when others are successful. This makes MY ayin slightly less רע.

I also learn from others what NOT to be. Seeing what גאוה and תאוה and שנאה and all the other bad middos look like is a great incentive not to have them.

Bottom line - It is great to learn from sefarim but don't forgot that the most powerful lessons are from living breathing people.

Quote Of The Day

What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.

Bob Dylan

Saturday, April 28, 2012

קדושים תהיו

I copied this from something I wrote many moooons ago:

What does it mean to be "kadosh" - holy?

Sitting on top of a mountain and meditating?

Fasting every day?

Learning non-stop?

Davening with unbridled intensity? 

Well, when we go under the chuppah we perform "kiddushin"? The root of kiddushin is "kadosh". So what is kiddushin? Tosphos at the beginning of Maseches Kiddushin says that it means "special" or "set aside" [miyuchedes]. Being mekadesh a woman means that we say "You are special to me. There is nobody else." 

Kedusha means that we live our life in such a way that shows that Hashem is special to us, that we are completely dedicated to the relationship. If anything else besides Hashem matters then He is no longer special. 

Kedusha means living in the world - for Hashem.

So Far

Sweetest friends - my Kotzker side is begging for expression. You'll forgive me:-).

I am an observant Jew which means that I observe Jews [in addition to observing mitzvos]. I see a lot of wonderful qualities. מי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד בארץ. So special. Really.

On the other hand I see so many people I know who are almost completely blind to their inadequacies. They move on in life with this false sense of security that they are doing GREAT when the reality is that they are light years away from where they should be. People who are ignorant of so much Torah think that they are Talmidei Chachomim. People whose character leaves so much to be desired are under the impression that they are great baalei middos. People who think that they are good husbands/wives/parents have no idea what that means and what the Torah expects of them. People think that their davening is a davening and it's not even close. They might not even be yotzei many times.

People go through life and barely change. I have known people for decades and they basically remain the same with some possible slight modifications.

This post is not for people with low self esteem [i.e. 90 percent of the population. I made that statistic up but it might be accurate...]. Such people need ego boosts. This post is for people living with a false delusionary sense of security that they are awesome-off-the-charts-super-duper-stand-up-and-salute-me.

If you try to explain to these people what is wrong with THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. They think you are OFF THE WALL.

An illness that is correctly diagnosed is dangerous. An undiagnosed illness is many, many times more dangerous.

המבין יבין.

I would explain more of what I mean but I fear that I will only be understood by a select few. Instead I will conclude this post and return to toisphos in yevamos ל' עמוד ב' ד"ה אשה זו בחזקת היתר לשוק.

Any thoughts [on what I wrote or the tosphos]?


Thursday, April 26, 2012






News Item

Soccer ball swept up by Japanese Tsunami found in Alaska.

I didn't make that up.

Spontaneous Therapy

Reb Mordechai Yehoshua cites Irving Yalom on spontaneous therapy.

I LOVE that idea. I have some thoughts about it and its ramifications  but הזמן קצר והמלאכה מרובה. Maybe another time........

You are intelligent. I will let you reach your own conclusions:-).

Coach V

In the previous post I quoted a college basketball coach so here is another one from the former coach of the N.C. State Wolfpack [REMEMBER THE 1983 FINALS?? Probably not.... But I do:-)] Jimmy Volvano. He later got sick with cancer and there was a whole write up about him in Sports Illustrated where he admitted that sports is much too overrated and he regretted much of his life. He died at 47.

From a speech he gave shortly before he died.

"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."

A Perfect Day

You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

John Wooden

I Love You

Aren't those beautiful words?

They ARE. But words are LITERALLY hot air.

If you really love someone  - SHOW IT!


Great question.

The answer is the same as the answer to the question of "What type of boy/girl should I marry?" "What should I do for a living?" "What flavor of Ice Cream should I buy?" [Huge question!] Answer - individual. What I looked for in a wife [a girl who was willing to marry someone out-of-the-box-off-the-wall-chassidishe-litvak-sit-down-comedian-blogger-rosh-kollel-recovering-sportsaholic-with-no-concept-of-time-and-little-patience-for-most-things] is not what you will look for in a wife.

Love is individual. Find out what makes your mother-father-brother-sister-wife-husband-child-bubby-zeide feel loved and act accordingly. If you say it and don't show it, then, as the line goes in Rabbinic literature העיקר חסר מן הספר - The most central element is missing.

A quote we've all heard...

Unbelievable. They had mp3's back in 1963....


100 years: The Woodmere Academy. I learned that when I was lost in Woodmere looking for the "Holy Fire". I saw a big sign that said it was founded in 1912. They have beautiful grounds and sports fields. I wish I would have gone there and played ball all day long.

50 years: The Mets. They went from being the hapless Mets in 1962 to being World Champs in 1969. Their seventh year. Shabbos. So spiritual. Eddie Kranpool. Tom Seaver. Yogi Berra. Bud Harrelson. Cleon Jones. Ed Charles. Tommy Agee. Ally Ehrman.

I wish.

64 years: The State of Israel. 64 miraculous years where the Jewish People daily overcome all odds and continue to exist as a free people in Hashem's special gift to them. Abba Eban [whatta name!] once said that Israel is the only country in the world about whom the United Nations votes to determine if they have the right to exist.

Reminds me of the story of the Rabbi who was sick and the members of his shul came to visit him in the hospital. The President of the shul said "Rabbi, good news. The board voted 8 against 5 to wish you a speedy recovery."  

They don't like us. "They" meaning the whole world. In 1939-1945 the world remained silent. Nobody cared. Even the President of the United States as has been documented by historians. Things haven't changed much.

PLEASE join me in singing to the tune of Schwekey....

Veee-heeeee sheeee-uuuummmmdaaaaa laaaavoseeeeiiinuuuuu, ve-he she-umda laaavoseinuuu vi-laaaaaanu....

New On-Line Torah Journal

I thank the sweet Jews and Jewesses who linked me to the latest issue of "Klal Perspectives". Here are abstracts and a link to the journal. The theme: We need to get more in touch with our neshamos.....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Very Sad Day

Today is Yom Hazikaron and there are videos circulating around the internet about the many soldiers and innocent citizens murdered by Arabs. The magnitude of the tragedies are almost too great to bear.

Whenever I have to try to comfort a mourner, I never know what to say, so I don't say much. What can I say then to the tens of thousands of people who lost sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. A kallah [and her father] on the night before her wedding. [Still can't get over that one]. A mother, father and siblings all at once. [The Fogels]. 8 boys innocently sitting in a Beis Medrash immersing in the purifying waters of Torah. [One of them my upstairs neighbor Yochai. Last night I walked past his father on the stairs. I really didn't know what to say so I sufficed with "Shalom HaRav"]. A soldier killed by "friendly fire". An accident. Killed by one of our own. [My downstairs neighbor Ariel]. A family that made aliyah from Manhattan and their son died parachuting from an airplane. [Yosef Goodman. I saw a video on that one that my Uncle sent me. They insisted on allowing their other son's to serve in combat units. Unreal]. They could have stayed in the US where children are generally raised to worry first and foremost about themselves and not their people. Then their son wouldn't have been jumping out of airplanes but sittting in College ensuring a prosperous future for himself. A mother who lost TWO SONS. And thousands and thousands more who all left bereaving family and friends.

Trust me. A parent NEVER gets over losing a child. Every Shabbos and Yom Tov and every "simcha" are more opportunities to be sad and remember the loss. The pillow turns into a sponge for all the tears.

Sweetest friends - we should never know.

May Hashem comfort all of the families and send us Moshiach and tchiyas hameisim speedily in our days.

In the meantime, we can utilize the approach of Aharon Hakohen upon the loss of his two sons.

וידם אהרן. And Aharon remained silent.

Despite everything sweetest friends I still insist - TOMMMIIIIID BI-SIIIMCHA!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quote Of The Day

Never raise your hand to strike your children - it leaves your midsection unprotected.

My New Shoes And Existential Frustration

I walk a lot. I don't have a car and it is easier, quicker and healthier to use the two good legs Hashem gave me than it is to use public transportation. So my shoes kiss the ground quite often and over time it takes a toll. My mother noticed how mamesh "holy" my shoes are - kodesh kodashim. At least two big gaping holes. She told me that it's time for new shoes. Now, I really - but really - don't like going clothes shopping. I have zero patience for such things. The outcome is that if a woman in my life [i.e. my wife or mother] wants me to get an article of clothing they have to get it for me. But shoes have to be tried on so it was my job to fulfill the huge mitzva of kibbud aim and go to the store and try on the shoes, tell the salesman they are too tight, until I find a pair that fits [I never really know how I am going to like them until a few days afterwards anyway]. It took a few months and many excuses to my mother why I am procrastinating ["I can't buy them today because the mekubalim say that Monday is a bad day to buy shoes.... Tomorrow won't work either - the Knicks are playing the Pacers and I have to be ready just in case they call me up to play."] and I finally bought them. The shoe store had a deal that if you give in your old pair you get 100 shekel off a new pair. My yetzer hara liked that so I took both my yetzer hara and my yetzer hatov to the store and in minutes I had a shiny new pair of shoes.

I must admit - I was enjoying my new shoes [and telling my mother that I finally listened to her]. They were shiny and NEW. AHHHHHHH NEW.

Since then two months have passed and my shoes no longer have the same glitter. What a disappointment! Or as the young people say "Bummer". Why can't they stay new?

Why can't anything stay new?? When I got married BOOOOYYYYY was I excited. It sorta rubbed off. When my children were born - I was flyin'! No longer. Everything in life seems to get OLD. Even a delicious hot cup of tea. Give it a few minutes and it cools off. It's just not the same.

The one place that was an exception to this rule was the Beis Hamikdash. חם כביום הילקחו. The bread on the table miraculously remained warm and fresh for an entire week until it was eaten. The reason is that the Beis Hamikdash is the closest to the source of creation and the source never gets old. The source is SPIRITUAL and spirituality is above time. [Rav Hutner]

One day we will live in a world that is eternal and above time. Every "second" will be new and exciting and things will never get old. Our very existence will be a constant source of pleasure [man's greatest need is to exist - we just take it for granted, until it is almost taken away].

The job of each and every one of us is to try to preserve the newness and freshness in every area of our lives. Every month we start with Rosh Chodesh which should bring to renewal. Every DAY we say המחזיר נשמות לפגרים מתים - Last night I was DEAD and I have been given a new lease on life.

When we daven, when we learn, when we see the blue sky, when we kiss our parents or children, we should try to feel how special it is and not get sucked into the feeling of "been there - did that". Our relationships should constantly be renewed.

The Navi Hoshea proclaimed in the name of Hashem,  כי נער ישראל ואוהבהו - I love the Jewish People because they always maintain that youthful excitement for life.

And life - is Torah.

כי הם חיינו

Love and blessings:-)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Change Is Hard

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."

Rabbis And Jeans

Was Rav Soloveitchik a Conservative Rabbi?

Trips To Poland



I just present you the thoughts of Rabbi Aviner and will let you decide for yourself.

Thought provoking.

Traveling to the death camps in Poland is, quite simply, not a good thing to do. Any one of the following reasons should be sufficient to deter a person from doing so.

1. It is forbidden to leave Israel, unless one is: 1. Going on a temporary trip necessary to earning a living 2. marrying, or 3. performing a mitzvah. Visiting a death camp is not considered to be as a mitzvah, whether of the Torah or of our Sages. And is not mentioned amongst the hundreds of thousands of paragraphs found in halachic works that were written in recent generations.

2. One should not financially support the Poles, who collaborated with the Nazis in establishing the extermination camps, and even persecuted the Jews themselves many times. Shall murderers benefit from their deeds?

3. The trip is so expensive that often times only the wealthy students can afford to go on it. It is scandalous that something associated with the educational system should create a division between rich and poor.

Now one might say: If this is true, how should we remember the Holocaust? The answer is simple: books, pictures, films, Yad Vashem and similar places. One might also say: That's all well and good, but I’ll miss out on the experience of a live visit to a death camp. The answer is simple: Hold a live meeting with one of the Holocaust survivors, of which there are presently 87,000, and hear directly from him what he experienced.
Still again, one might argue: “But visiting a death camp is an infinitely more powerful experience than talking to a Holocaust survivor.” That argument is truly puzzling. Is an experience with inanimate objects really more powerful than one involving a living, breathing person?! Quite the contrary. Common sense and untainted morality dictate that all of the money spent on this trip should instead be donated to Holocaust survivors, who still suffering, to this very day, from the terrible open wounds to their bodies and souls.
It's true that many of them were successfully absorbed in our country and became its builders, but many others are still suffering. Our country does a tremendous amount for these survivors, but it has not succeeded in solving all of their problems. The State Comptroller's report from 2007 in fact found fault with the way survivors are dealt with. And even though, since then, their situation has vastly improved, there are still many who suffer from a lack of food and medical services.

In sum, despite the State's prodigious assistance, we have not succeeded in answering all of the survivors’ needs, especially since the Law of Assistance to Holocaust Survivors applies only to those who arrived in Israel before 5713. It's obvious that some of those who came afterwards are also suffering greatly.
But getting back to our topic: traveling to the death camps to remember what Amalek did to us there, while at the same time neglecting the Holocaust victims who live in our midst.

If someone claims that this involves no small measure of hypocrisy, he will not be entirely mistaken. If someone is shocked by a person who prefers spending his money on an important "death-camp experience," rather than assisting someone who was hurt there, and thereby performing a human kindness, he is not entirely mistaken either.

So here are several practical suggestions:

1. Cancel the Poland trips and give all the money to organizations that grant assistance and support to Holocaust survivors. There are many such organizations, and you can find them by yourself. That's far less complicated than all of the logistics of traveling abroad. I would like to mention one worthy organization that distributes free medicines to the poor, including many Holocaust survivors: “Chaverim LiTerufa” [Friends for Medicine].

2. Even if one does go to Poland, he should make sure that fifty-one percent of his expenses go to helping the victims themselves. This would allow one to argue that most of the funds are going to actual people, rather than to stones and rocks.

3. And even if this suggestion is rejected, then at the very least, ten percent of one’s total expenses from the trip should be invested in those suffering terribly to this very day, as a sort of ‘Ma’aser”, a tithe. That would at least render us a little bit innocent before G-d and man.
“Look to the Rock from whence you were hewn” (Yeshayahu 51:1).

Plane Conversation


A man was sitting on an airplane and tried to strike up a conversation with the Charedi man sitting next to him. The Charedi was learning Maseches Zvachim [I am too!] and didn't seem particularly interested in having a conversation. This is indicative, writes the man in an article in a major Jewish newspaper that is NOT ALWAYS [:-)] SO MAKPID on hilchos shmiras halashon, of the general inclination of the Charedim to divorce themselves from general society. And of course he goes on to say that they only care about themselves, don't contribute to the welfare of the broader Jewish People etc. etc. etc.


Maybe the guy just found the words of Rebbe Yehuda Hanassi more interesting than his neighbor on the plane. Maybe the the guy believes that the mitzvah of learning Torah is greater than the mitzvah of having a conversation about whatever topic his neighbor brought up [see yoma 19 on the pasuk ודברת בם]. I can only agree with him on both points. [Not that one should be anti-social but you get my point.]

What I found interesting is that the author of the article is the head of the Center for Jewish Christian Understanding. My suggestion: Before you try to understand Christians - try to understand your Jewish co-religionists. It seems all too often that many Jews reserve their love and understanding for people who deserve it less than their own brothers and sisters.

The same applies to parents, spouses and children. Try to understand them as well. That's the hardest. The easiest is to be critical.


Addendum: I normally try to avoid reading comments because I usually find them an insult to my intelligence and they often contain filthy language but I was advised by a friend to look at the comments to the article and was pleased.

Question For The Bochrim - Leporatic Circumcisions And Shver Rambams

The Rambam says in both hilchos milah and hilchos tumas tzaraas that despite the fact that one is not allowed to remove tzaraas, if the orlah has tzaraas one is allowed to perform the bris because עשה דוחה לא תעשה.


Problem is that the gemara [Shaabos 132b] says that not removing tzaraas is not just a לא תעשה but and עשה as well so it is really a case of עשה דוחה לא תעשה ועשה which it doesn't. So, bi'kitzur, how does the Ramam shtim with the gemara??

See the Kli Chemdah on Parsha Tazria and the Nachalas Tzvi [chelek beis] as well.

The Classification Of נביאים and כתובים

Some thoughts on the difference between נביאים and כתובים based on a shiur Hashem enabled me to give.... HERE

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quote Of The Day

"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, direct and wrong".

Don't Remain Silent

We know that as part of his purification process a metzora must bring two birds. One is slaughtered and the other is sent away. The reason for the slaughtering is because he spoke lashon hara just like the bird chirps away, so the atonement is to kill the bird [Rashi].

But the second bird requires understanding. Why do we send it away when it will just continue chirping? The answer given is that sometimes one MUST talk. The first bird for when he SHOULDN'T talk, the second for when he SHOULD.


I recently was told of a case here in Yerushalayim that I can't get over: A boy is about to marry a girl. Someone I know who was involved found out that [unbeknownst to the boy] the girl has a mental illness for which she is not taking medication. He asked a Rabbi if he should tell the boy and he was told TO REMAIN SILENT. He listened and they got married. The Chosson will soon find out the truth - to his tremendous dismay.

I searched and searched. What is the source for such a psak?? EVERYBODY who deals with these halachos paskens that in such an instance one MUST inform the boy, otherwise one transgresses the prohibition of לא תעמוד על דם רעך - Don't stand by idly while your brother's blood is spilled. I even suspect that the whole marriage might be dissolved without a get because it was performed under false pretenses and is thus a מקח טעות. For that we need to ask a Rav Eliyashav [he should have a refuah shleima] or someone else of very high caliber.

The truth is that I don't know the boy, I don't know the girl [I don't talk to girls] and I don't know the name of the Rabbi who paskened to refrain from informing the boy. But I DO KNOW that the person who told the story is trustworthy and I believe that the Rabbi made a grave error.

So if you ever know similar information remember that peoples lives are at stake and a wise, competent posek should be consulted.

Red Strings

I received an email about the post on the Shlissel Challah that triggered a discussion on the "red string" that is so popular [particularly amongst the beggars who hand them out to their benefactors].

Muttar or assur??

Well, in the shiur I referred to where the Shlissel Challah was banned, red strings similarly got the axe. There is an explicit Tosefta [body of literature dating back to the time of the Mishna] forbidding it as a goyishe, superstitious practice. Clear cut. Assur. Nicht voos tzu redden. Nothing to talk about.

Not so clear cut. In that same Tosefta [Shabbos 8/4] there is the opinion of Rabban Gamliel permitting it. A survey of the poskim will reveal that many not only permit the practice but actually encourage it as a segulah against bad things [see the sefer Lvush Malchus page 72 of R' Menachem Giat for the many sources].

On my wrist you will not find a red string. You will find a watch which reminds me with every movement that I am closer to my demise and that time is RUNNING OUT. Nor have I ever seen a talmid chochom wearing one. BUT that doesn't mean it is forbidden.

I would rather assume that people aren't sinners. I mean no disrespect chas vi-shalom to the Rav with whom I am taking issue. Just seeking the truth.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Personal Request

I usually try to avoid posting personal requests but I can no longer resist. The Rebbe Shlita has pneumonia so PLEASE daven. Ha'Admor Avdicha Reb Yitzchak Menachem ben Gittel Mirel Breindel Leah.

[My Simcha'le was sick all last week but I resisted the urge to ask everyone to daven. Don't like to trouble people. Baruch Hashem he is better. הודו לה' כי טוב כי לעולם חסדו!!]

To add to my "Excuses" post: Despite his illness he hasn't missed a tisch or a shiur. He could but he chooses not to. By the way - how much does he get paid for what he does??


But he is determined to spread ruchniyus so he is not going to let some inflammed lungs get in his way...

No excuses.

Art History And New Testaments

I read an article about the curriculum at a certain very prominent institution of higher learning written in an academic journal. I must say that I enjoy reading the author's articles because he is a brilliant man, a gifted writer and as an added bonus is an avid student of the writings of Rav Hutner. But I must admit that I found parts of the article disturbing. Torah Umadda in principle sounds good - seeing Hashem in everything and using secular wisdom as a springboard to higher spiritual achievements coupled with a livelihood. But it seems that קירבת אלקים is not ALWAYS the outcome. Like Wittgenstein, I too cannot help but look at every issue from a religious point of view. It's all my parents fault. They sent me to Yeshiva day school from age 3. G-d bless 'em!:-)

I quote....

"Art history usually includes generous servings of nudity and Christian art. If one adopts the most restrictive view, that halakha clearly prohibits these elements...."

Maybe I am missing something but is there a permissive view that allows one to see nudity. If so - where???

"There are many contexts in which a Yeshiva student may confront the New Testament. At Yeshiva College, the acquaintance is most likely to occur if a student takes the second of our two "masterpiece" literature courses. Some students requested that we move the problematic sessions to the end of the first course, which is devoted to Greek and Roman literature. They argued that having the New Testament early in the term deterred many from registering. If it were the tail end of the first course, students could put off their decision about doing the reading or skipping meetings until the last week of the semester.

This proposal was sensible, yet the faculty did not recommend a change. As we envision the curriculum, the New Testament provides fundamental background to the readings that follow, not a final chapter to the story of the ancient Greco-Roman world—a perspective better suited to intellectual history than to world literature. Here the academic structure was maintained at the cost of continued discomfort for some students."

Is it permitted to study works of Avodah Zara?? The New Testament [for a Jew and quite likely for a gentile as well] clearly qualifies as forbidden idolatry. A quick glance at the Rambam [Avoda Zara 2/2] clearly reveals that it is forbidden. So I laud those students who feel discomfort and I really think that their time could be better spent studying the "Old Testament".

I add that this institution has does much good for the Jewish People and is a bastion of Torah. However, some slight modifications would surely help. I am confident that the great Rav Soloveitchik would agree and know that some of the present Roshei Yeshiva do as well.

And a GUT VOCH and GUT CHOIDESH to one and all:-)!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Remove The Yetzer Hara

A Parshas Shmini thought...

Moshe tells the people [9/6] "This is what Hashem that you should do". The question is WHAT??? What should they do?? The pasuk doesn't say. The Medrash says that they should remove the yetzer hara from their hearts. THAT is what they should do.

What yetzer hara is the Medrash referring to? There are many suggestions. The Ponim Yafos says that it is referring to the yetzer hara of arrogance [gyveh]. After setting up the mishkan and Hashem appearing in His glory they are liable to feel excessively haughty. The Noam Elimelech says it is referring to the yetzer hara of sheker עיין שם. The Imrei Emes says that it is referring to the yetzer hara of machlokes and that is why the Medrash concludes ותהיו ביראה אחת ובעצה אחת.

The Heilige Beis Yisrael [Gerrer Rebbe] asked why the Medrash was so cryptic and didn't identify the yetzer hara? He answered that every generation has their own yetzer hara so the Medrash left it open so that in every generation it could be interpreted according to that generation's particular yetzer hara. In the Noam Elimelech's time it was sheker. In the Imrei Emes' time it was machlokes. In our generation, said the Rebbe, the yetzer hara is עניני קדושה and טהרה - being spiritually holy and pure, not looking at what we shouldn't see and not thinking about what we shouldn't think etc.

[Told by the Rebbe Shlita]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Non-Kosher Challah?

Many people have a custom to bake a "Shlissel Challah" the Shabbos after Pesach. This is a challah baked in the shape of a key or with a key inside or both. It is supposed to be a segula for parnassa because the "key" to parnassa is in only Hashem's hands [see beginning of maseches taanis/tynis]. I heard a shiur from a YU Rosh Yeshiva where he said that it is אסור מן התורה to bake such a challah because it is ניחוש [forbidden superstition]. Of course I have great respect for this Rov and he is certainly much greater than I [me? both?] but since this custom is mentioned in the sefarim hakdoshim [see for example מנהג ישראל תורה ח"ב סי' תצג] and is practiced by thousands of Jewish women with no objection from prominent poskim, I would have preferred if he would have been מלמד זכות on this custom. I also read an academic paper which showed its historical paganic roots. Despite this, I think that the bakers have a solid halachic basis. But since it requires more research on my part I won't talk yet.

In general, it is sooo nice when rabbonim try to justify practices which seem on the surface to be problematic. An example of such a sefer is the שו"ת ארץ צבי of Rav Aryeh Tzvi Frommer [Rosh Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin]. Among other things he tries to find a basis for the Chasidic practice to daven NOT EXACTLY bi'zman. He is very creative and his sefer is worth owning and learning. I would tell you that I have recorded shiurim based on his sefarim but I don't want to advertise:-). [I know of another sefer where the author - a gadol bi'yisrael - always seems to try showing how what everyone does is wrong.]

Of course if there is no justification then they must condemn the problematic practices. An aveira is an aveira.

But I don't think the shlissel challah is.

Later addendum - See Shu"t Chaye Halevi ח"ב סי' נד. Neither does he.

Hostages And Rabbinic Manuscripts

Due to the encouragement of Reb Y.D.B.F.S. I have started giving shiurim in Rav Hutner's Pachad Yitzchak on Shavuos here and here and hopefully more to come.

What is interesting about the sefer is that it wasn't written by Rav Hutner! What happened was that on September 6 1970 Rav Hutner was on an airplane that was hijacked by Arab terrorrists and he was taken hostage. Tefillos were said all over the world and after a few weeks he was released. The Arabs in their pure רשעות took away his manuscript on Shavuos and despite large monetary offers refused to return it. So the sefer was rewritten based on the notes of his students by ..... his daughter Rebbetzin Bruria David [so they say in the "oilam"]. If you read the sefer it is simply remarkable to see how she successfully mirrors her father's inimitable, poetic and clear writing style. I once had some Beis Yaakov girls at my house for Shabbos who were in the Rebbetzin's Pachad Yitzchak shiur.

I asked how I could get in....

I still haven't been zocheh.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Better go to a house of mourning than a house of parties"

King Solomon

Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.


A Different Perspective

Tonight I was at the Kotel davening maariv. Or at the Koysel davening myriv. Whatever works for you. After I finished I approached the Holy Wall to have a private talk with my beloved Father to tell him about my problems. Now, I used to have a magnet on my fridge that said "Don't tell Hashem how big your problems are, tell your problems how big Hashem is". But I habitually do the former and not the latter.

Before I began, I noticed a very physically disabled young man in a wheelchair to my right. He was sobbing uncontrollably. I was overtaken by rachmanus for this unfortunate soul. I then turned back to the Kotel to remind Hashem about my problems and offer some suggestions as to how He can solve them....

Then it dawned on me.

I don't have any problems.


So I asked Hashem to have mercy on the young man, turned on my heals and went back home with a heavy heart.

שלומית בת יהודית שרה

Cancer for the third time and the doctors gave her two weeks to live. PLEASE daven! בתוך שאר חולי ישראל.

Excuses - The Sequel

Take Rav Shach as a f'rinstance: He wrote a large voluminous set of sefarim called Avi Ezree. He said that if he would write about all of the tzaros he experienced in his life it would be longer the all the Avi Ezree's combined. But he didn't look for excuses. He just became a leader in Klal Yisrael.

Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel: Every day was a living gehenom. He NEVER stopped shaking. I heard that it took him about 15 minutes just to put his jacket on in the morning. He didn't let that stop him. He just smiled. And learned. And went all over the world fundraising. And learned some more. Sometimes he would try to give a shiur and over the course of a half hour say four words. But that didn't stop him from trying. He never complained. He just DID. Go to the Beis Yisrael section of Yerushalayim and see the empire he built. Wonder of wonders.

Rav Meir Don Plotzki the author of the Kli Chemdah: He lived in Pre-War Poland and was poorer than poor. He made a salary as Rov of his shtetl of 2 and a half cents a month [OK slightly - but only slightly - more]. He had cancer for over 30 years. He beloved son died in his youth. His daughter[s] went off the derech. What a miserable life. But read the Kli Chemdah [or his other sefer "Chemdas Yisrael"]. What a GAON! What mastery of the Torah. He LEARNED.

No excuses.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How Chimps Deal With Death

How utterly fascinating!

ScienceDaily (Apr. 27, 2010) — Two studies in the April 27th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, offer rare glimpses into the ways that chimpanzees deal with the deaths of those closest to them. In one case, researchers describe the final hours and moment of death of an older female chimp living in a small group at a UK safari park as captured on video...
In the days leading up to the chimp's death, the group was very quiet and paid close attention to her, the researchers report. Immediately before she died, she received much grooming and caressing from the others, who appeared to test her for signs of life as she died. They left her soon after, but her adult daughter returned and remained by her mother all night. When keepers removed the mother's body the next day, the chimpanzees remained calm and subdued. For several days they avoided sleeping on the platform where the female had died, even though it was normally a favored sleeping spot, and remained subdued for some time after the death.

Based on this, I understood pshat in the gemara on Bava Matzia פ"ה - check it out!

Please Smile

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

Fred Allen

A Belated Zman Cheyrusainu Thought

"Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be."


In the past I have discussed how people are multi-faceted. I am also included in the category of "people" [notwithstanding the fact that in my sports-saturated youth I was encouraged by my elders to "play like an animal". On my good days, I did..] and thus no exception to the rule. On one hand I have a "Reb-Levi-Yitzchak-Mi'berditchev-Rav-Kook-Reb-Shlomo-Carlebach-Hey-Man-I-Love-You-Just-The-Way-You-Are-Let's-Hug-You're-Perfect-Dude-Sooo-Holy-Mamesh-Kodesh-Kodashim" side. I also have a "Kotzker-Brutally-Honest-Highly-Critical-Tell-It-Like-It-Is-Hold-No-Punches-Go-For-The-Jugular" side. With myself I naturally tend towards the latter side. It hurts sometimes, especially since I am literally in my brain. With others I TRY [with varying degrees of success] to allow the lovey-dovey side to come out.

This post is definitely an expression of the latter Kotzker side, so stop reading here if you don't want to get annoyed.


Once upon a time I was involved in a certain "time bound" mitzva. Some people chose to take part in the mitzva, many others chose to abstain. After the mitzva ended many of the abstainers felt it necessary to come up to me and apologize. Each person had a "sorry" usually accompanied by an excuse. I heard one excuse and then another and then yet another. 156 excuses altogether [I totally-completely-absolutely made up that number but you get my point]. I smiled politely to these people but they didn't know what I was thinking. I was thinking that there aren't really 156 reasons. There is ONE lone reason: It just wasn't important enough to them to be part of this particular mitzva, because if it had been they would have...

How interesting. According to halacha the Kallah doesn't have to show up to her wedding. She can send her friend Racheli to stand in her place and she [not Racheli] is married. This is called in advanced Talmudics "Shlichus" [no relation to Lubavitchers moving to Madagascar or Haiti]. So why does no Kallah ever does this [upon rereading this post I noticed this incorrect sentence. I meant to say "do this". But it reminds me of the way some of the "chevre" in my old town used to speak so I kept it]? Maybe she has a HUGE Art History final the coming week and she just can't give up a whole Sunday for dancing and celebrating because she has to study. That is a valid excuse. Just ask Chagall or Van Gogh! Answer: HER WEDDING IS FAR TO IMPORTANT TO MISS AND SHE WILL DO EVERYTHING IN HER POWER TO MAKE IT.

This can be applied to anything in life. If we decide something is important enough we will never miss it. All we have to do is create our list of priorities and make sure that the higher it is on the list, the less likely we are to miss and make excuses. No frum guy ever misses a tefilla [I hope...]. It is just too important. Nobody ever forgets to look before crossing the street. It is just too important. Nobody EVER dies of starvation because he forgot to eat. We have the ability to make the important things in life as critical as eating.

After 20 years in chinuch and 16 years of parenthood I have had ENOUGH of hearing excuses. They just fall short of the mark. Responsibility means production. No excuses. Determination is the name of the game.

Of course I am not going to change the world but there is ONE FELLOW whom I can stop from making excuses for his spiritual dessication and get him to start being a YID! He is presently wearing my shoes....




Two Types Of Belief

To summarize the previous post in a nutshell:

There are two types of belief. 1] Our natural inborn belief in Hashem. 2] The belief we achieve after intense study. They are both necessary and should be strong enough to exist independently of each other while co-existing side by side.

On Pesach we offered the Korban Ha-Omer which consisted of barley that is considered animal food. This symbolizes our natural belief in Hashem even while intellectually on the level of an animal.

On Shavuos we offered the Shtei-Halechem which consisted of wheat that is human food. This symbolizes the intellectual comprehension of the Divine that we achieve on the holiday of the giving of the Torah [according to one opinion the עץ הדעת was a wheat stalk].

In our lives we need both.

PS - It's MUCH better in the original:-).

Anyone Who Can Translate This And Send To Me - תבוא עליו\עליה ברכה - It's AWE-SOME!!:-)

יסוד האמונה השלמה שבלב נובע הוא מתוך מעמק סגולת הנפש שבישראל. לעומתו מכוון קרבן העומר של שעורים, מאכל בהמה, הנוטה
רק לרגש הטבעי. אחריו ועל גביו בא יסוד העילוי השכלי והלמודי. אמנם חולשת האדם גורמת, שבהיותו מוכשר למחקר שכלי יוחלש בו יסוד הנטיה האמונית, ובהיותו שלם באמונה הוא עלול למעט בהשכלה וחכמת לב. אבל תכלית דרך הישרה היא, שכל כח לא ימעט את חברו, ולא יתמעט על ידו, כ"א יתגלה בכל מלא עזו, כאילו היה הוא השולט לבדו. כח האמונה צריך שיהיה שלם כ"כ כאילו אין לו שום אפשריות של מחקר, ולעומת זה צריך שיהיה כח החכמה כ"כ מעולה ומזורז כמו לא היה כלל כח של אמונה בנפש. "אדם ובהמה - ערומים בדעת ומשימים עצמם כבהמה". אכן זאת היא מורשה מיוחדת לישראל, שהאמונה הקיימה היא אצלם טבעית, מצד המורשה הגלויה של גילוי שכינה, "רק עם חכם ונבון הגוי הגדול הזה - הניסה אלהים לבא לקחת לו גוי מקרב גוי". ולהפך, הכפירה היא אצלם בלתי טבעית, ואפשרית רק ע"י העזה של שכרון, שמתוך עקשות או תאוות. מה שאין כן באומות העולם, שמציאות האמונה אצלם היא דוקא ע"י שכרון, כי לא נגלו להם ענינים מוחשיים גדולים על יסודי אמונותיהם, על כן אין טבעם האנושי גוזר להאמין כ"א ההסכמה המשכרת וההתגברות על הטבעיות. ועל כן טובה מאד לישראל תמימות האמונה בפשטותה, שהיא ג"כ מבוררה כיום בהיר, "ברה כחמה". ולפיכך מחובר הוא פסח לעצרת ע"י ספירת העומר שבבית המקדש, שהיא מחברת את מנחת השעורים, מאכל בהמה, נטית הרגש הטבעית, אל החטים, מאכל אדם, העלוי השכלי הרוחני, "עץ הדעת חטה היה". ושני הכחות היסודיים האלה מגלים את כל מלא ערכם ופעולתם, במעמקי הנפש מרחבי החיים, בהופיעם כל אחד בצורתו העצמית השלמה, באין שום דבר מעיק לו כלל, ובהתכנסם והתקשרם יחד למערכה אחדותית - עליונה הרב קוק אורות ישראל פרק ח.

Quote Of The Day

A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Education Without Values

Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.

C.S. Lewis

At virtually every university in the United States what they offer is education without values. ברוך ששמת חלקנו בבית המדרש where the education is all about values.
הכל בחביבותא תליא - It all depends on love.

Zohar Hakadosh


Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.
C.S. Lewis

In a recent post I made reference to co-education. Upon receiving an email on the topic by a holy friend C.A.F. I was reminded of an excellent article on the topic written by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz [thanks to my beloved friend K.N. for correcting my spelling error] which you can find if you google his name and the word co-education. Enlightening.


Most if not all people live with a certain level of "disconnect" between what they believe and what they actually do.

Examples abound:

1] Food. Everybody knows that it is unhealthy to be overweight and yet people still eat that extra piece of cake. Is it worth it for "a second on the lips and lifetime on the hips?" No. But the momentary desire for the cake conquers all. Even the mind.


2] Crime. People know that crime doesn't pay for various reasons. 1] Eventually they may get caught. 2] They live in fear. 3] Their conscious bothers them constantly. 4] It's wrong to be a criminal and people who have a soul don't want to do what is wrong. Yet the world is filled with criminals.


3] Marriage and family. "Who is more important?" you ask a man. "Your wife and kids or the Jets?" "My wife and kids, of course", will be the answer that is immediately forthcoming. "So why do you spend Sunday in the den with the Jets while ignoring your family? All week long you are too busy working so you can at least give them some time on Sunday."


4] Religion. An Orthodox shul I know of is filled with Yom Kippur faster's who then break their fast on ... unkosher food [at least some of them]. "Do you believe in G-d?" You may ask them. "OF COURSE", they will answer. "That is why I fasted and married Jewish."

"Why then are you eating lobster on Motzei Yom Kippur?"

Since this is a Torah blog I would like to share 10,000 other examples but I don't want to hit too close to home....

OK. One more...

Is it "nice" to promptly return phone calls [an oft repeated theme here on Mevakesh]? An act of RESPECT for the caller? Of course. Yet ....

Is it right to talk during davening? If a person is in shul, he knows that the same G-d to whom he is davening requests full, undivided attention. Yet...

Do we believing Jews really think that our money is OURS? No, of course not. Everything we have belongs to Hashem, we will proudly declare. Yet, when being asked for tzedaka we sort of feel that we are sacrificing our OWN money. Don't we?

Everybody knows that one is obligated to love his neighbor as himself. How often do we? How often do we even think about it? How often [PLEASE FORGIVE ME - I REALLY LIKE HAVING FRIENDS AND DON'T WANT TO OFFEND:-)] do we really think of others and their needs independent of our own? How much sleep do we lose worrying about ourselves and how much sleep do we lose worrying about others??


Did I say one example? Sorry, I pashut got carried away.... And a little more in number 5.

5] Middos: We KNOW that jealousy, anger, arrogance, laziness, selfishness etc. etc. are terrible middos and yet aren't many of us afflicted with some of those [including the "etc."] spiritual maladies.


I know people who live with SEVERE LEVELS of disconnect. People who can give deep shiurim on matters that in their personal lives they fall terribly short of personifying. People who seemingly understand it all and can explain it all and yet they fail miserably at practicing what they preach. Some such people even have good, honorable intentions but there is that disconnect that I sometimes can't comprehend. "THIS person did THAT?"

Of course the bottom line for us, tyere yidden, is to try to "reconnect" ourselves in those areas where we suffer from "disconnect". Actually, Judaism has a word for it.



Love and blessings:-).

The Dangers Of Praise

Li'ilui nishmas my grandfather Reb Shmuel Pinchas ben Reb Yaakov Tzvi whose yahrtzeit is today.

The gemara says [Bava Basra 164b] "A person should not praise his friend because this might lead him to speak negatively about him." The Rashbam explains that EXCESSIVE praise leads to slander [people have trouble thinking that people are SO good so they like to find some "chinks in the armor"]. Rashi adds [Erchin 16a] that not only might the speaker add some negative characterization but the listeners might as well.

The Rambam [Deyos 7/4] understands the gemara to mean that one should not praise someone [at all] in front of his enemy. The enemy will likely hear the kind words and find some lashon hara to say.

Interestingly enough the Rambam [Deyos 6/3] says that ואהבת לרעך כמוך is fulfilled by praising another person.

It would emerge then that when one excessively praises his or her friend, according to the Rambam one is fulfilling a mitzva from the Torah of ואהבת לרעך כמוך while according to Rashi one is doing an aveira [because it might lead to lashon hara].

The Rambam also says that one should not publicly praise someone else because this will cause one of the listeners to say something insulting.

This topic is a broad one and we have just scratched the surface....

[See Likkutei Sichos Vol. 27 Parshas Emor and the Sefer "Bitzror Hachaim" Vol. 4 Page 175 and on]

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Did You Go See Rebbe ....?

I don't remember if I have written about this in the past, so if I am repeating myself I apologize.

There is a phenomenon of "Mekubalim" who have to raise money for their institutions so they come to America and people come to see them and receive advice, segulos, promises and brachos. The "brachos" part is great. Any bracha from a Jew has value. The "advice and segulos and promises" are where the problems begin. Example: One of these people might say to a single "You will be engaged by Purim". Lo and behold, Purim comes and Purim goes and no zivug in sight. One can be מלמד זכות that they didn't mean by THIS Purim the person will be engaged but by Purim in 22 years but there are other things that they say which flat out don't happen. This makes people cynical and they lose faith in Rabbonim altogether.

The "Mekubalim" also tell people to do things which are not in their best interests. "Marry this girl" they will say, while the truth is that this is the right girl for him like I am the right girl for him. People assume that they are speaking from Ruach Hakodesh and are afraid to act otherwise. I say that we are given a brain and we should use our logic to make the right decision. The correct way is that he meet both parties or be given all the relevant information and he can make a recommendation which is discussed with the questioner. I find it quite disturbing that in 30 seconds he will make a life changing decision for someone he has never met. Troubling is an understatement...

Some of these people MIGHT have Ruach Hakodesh but not EVERYTHING they say is based on this Ruach Hakodesh. So if they say "Go to college and become a lawyer" it doesn't mean it's necessarily Ratzon Hashem. I am not sure they know what goes on in college campuses. I know what college is like so I will never say "Go to college and become a lawyer" [unless the person won't fall in ruchniyus ואין כאן המקום להאריך]

Some of these people give kavod to רשעים because these רשעים give them big money. Another huge problem. It comes down to money.

My advice is to have a Rav or Rebbe and you don't need to go to these people and you can save your money. A Rebbe knows you and will learn all the details before giving advice and guidance. Rav Yaakov Hillel, one of the biggest Mekubalim alive, wrote an entire book decrying the phenomenon of "Mekubalim" called [in English] "Faith and Folly".

There are too many bad stories. People have trouble connecting to an abstract G-d so they search for a concrete כל יכול - all powerful person. If these people really had so many powers then why are there still sick and poor and single and sad people?? They should just do their magic and make everything better.

So of course we believe באמונה שלימה that צדיקים have special כחות but make sure that the person is really a tzadik and keep in mind that only Hashem has unlimited power.

ישמע חכם ויוסיף לקח.

Connection Lost

Sometimes people tell me something and I find out afterwards that their words didn't reflect true reality [there is a strong word for this that rhymes with "stying" that the Chazon Ish tried to avoid saying so I too will refrain as long as I hold out]. This makes me wonder how often people are telling the truth and how often not. When not, the question presents itself how much they are veering from the truth.

This is distressing.

The Torah doesn't say to stay "far" away from eating pork. The Torah [as noted by Reb Simcha Bunim Mi'pshischa] doesn't say to stay "far" away from desecrating Shabbos. The Torah doesn't say to stay "far" away from wearing shatnez. But the Torah DOES say to stay FAR away from falsehood - מדבר שקר תרחק. So insidious is falsehood that the Torah says - "DON'T COME CLOSE". [Paranthetically, the Shulchan Aruch [אבן העזר סימן כא] uses a similar language when talking about distancing oneself from the opposite gender "יתרחק מאד מאד מנשים" - Not just stay "far" away but stay "far far" away from women. Co-education permitted according to the Shulchan Aruch? You make the call.]

Interesting. "Connection" in Hebrew is "קשר". If one wants to corrupt the connection then one just has to twist around the letters and you get ..... שקר. It undermines the basis of all human relationships.

Reminds me of this post.

No Time

The Kotzker Rebbe said he hoped to have Chasidim who didn't listen to their yetzer hara NOT because they don't want to do the wrong thing but because they don't have the TIME to do the wrong thing.

A Rav once spoke against the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He then felt remorse and went to ask the Rebbe to forgive him. "Believe me" the Rebbe told him, "I don't have the TIME to hold a grudge."

Sweet friends - If you are a guy then there is Bavli, Yerushalmi, Rambam, Shulchan Aruch etc. etc. to keep you busy when you are not busy with making a living. If you are a female then there are limitless chasdom to do, pirkei tehillim to say and many things to learn which you must know such as hilchos shabbos, lashon hara, tefilla etc. etc. in addition to shiurim or sefarim dealing with Ahavas Hashem and Yiras Hashem which are obligatory on women no less than men. And of course time to relax and get in touch with your deeper self. Of course being married and having children and a home are also tremendously time consuming.


Thursday, April 12, 2012


קשה זיווגו של אדם כקריעת ים סוף - Making a shidduch is as difficult as splitting the sea. We wondered in a recent post about the comparison and offered an answer.

Another one...

You walk with your beloved on the boardwalk. How romantic! What is romantic though about a sea splitting??

When two people come together they assume that they should be alike. We like, someone once said, people who are alike. This is an error when it comes to marriage. We can't be like our spouse. The Zohar Hakadosh says תרי אפכיא - man and woman are two opposites. "East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet" [bonus points if you can tell me where that quote is from]. If spouses would be alike we would have yet ANOTHER blog called "Mevakeshes Lev". I thiiiink one Mevakesh Lev is mooooore than enough. The "Mevakeshes" is busy ensuring the future of Klal Yisrael.

So here it is - The sea is naturally together and Hashem had to separate it. A man and woman are naturally apart and Hashem has to bring them together. Same principle. Against nature.

Something to keep in mind next time you are annoyed with your spouse...

A Guide To Miracle Working

Chazal say ראתה שפחה על הים מה שלא ראה יחזקאל בן בוזי - A simple maidservant saw at krias yam suf what the holy Navi Yechezkel didn't see in his heavenly visions. Meaning, that she reached a much higher level. If so, why are we so enthralled by the great personality of Yechekel? We have a sefer of his [Sefer Yechezkel], a street named after him [right off ככר שבת], and much discussion about him in our ancient sources. We don't hear much else about the simple שפחות. Why not - they were apparently even greater?!

The Baalei Mussar have a field day with this question: The שפחה remained a שפחה!! She saw the most exalted visions but didn't change much from the experience. Yechezkel, in contrast, was a lofty and elevated personality and continuously grew from his experiences and visions.

What is the difference? What separates the "men from the boys" or the "prophets from the maidservants"??


Tyere yidden - we have to be willing to work hard if we are going to change. When Hashem performs miracles he breaks through the normal routine of nature. In our daily lives we are ALL, NO EXCEPTIONS, stuck in patterns of behavior and thought that are not always conducive to spiritual growth and development. A "miracle" for us would be to follow the Divine model and break our patterns to reach the next level.

When you go to a [separate] gym you can hire a personal fitness instructor who will design a special tailored-fit program to help bring you to the highest level of physical fitness. In your spiritual world you need a similarly tailored-fit program to help bring you to the highest level of spiritual fitness. [A Rebbe helps....]

This computer is so inadequate in expressing what I really want to say.


But you catch my drift.

BELOVED FRIENDS - With the inspiration of שביעי של פסח and the miracles Hashem performed for us, let us perform a few of our own...

A zissen yom tov followed by a Shabbos from the heavens.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kriyas Yam Suf

קשה זיווגו של אדם כקריעת ים סוף - Chazal compare the difficulty of splitting the sea to the difficulty of making a shidduch. What exactly is the comparison? Much has been written in the sefarim.

One idea: If Hashem would have split the sea for a minute nothing would have been accomplished. The Jews would have drowned. The point was KEEPING THE SEA APART as long as the Jews were passing through. Similarly, it is no big deal to make a shidduch. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Glass is smashed. Caterer is tense. Band plays. Friends dance. Goyim serve. Jews eat.

Easy stuff.

The trick is KEEPING THE COUPLE TOGETHER! Today we are witnesses to many failed marriages and that is something to lament. So the avoda is to try to make lasting marriages - for ourselves and others.....

Love and blessings:-)