Thursday, November 29, 2012

Forever Growing In Love

Today I sent an email to a friend about the importance of love.

I dedicate this to him and hope that this quote resonates with him and the many others who read it.

In discussing love, it would be well to consider the following premises;

One cannot give what he does not possess. Too give love you must possess love.
One cannot teach what he does not understand. To teach love, you must comprehend love.
One cannot know what he does not study. To study love, you must live in love.
One cannot appreciate what he does not recognize. To recognize love you must be receptive to love.
One cannot have doubt about that which he wishes to trust. To trust love you must be convinced of love.
One cannot admit what he does not yield to. To yield to love you must be vulnerable to love.
One cannot live what he does not dedicate himself to. To dedicate yourself to love you must be forever growing in love

Leo F. Buscaglia
Source: Love : What Life Is All About, Page: 36
That is HUGE! 


A shtickel mussar from a Mormon....

Free your heart from hatred - forgive.
Free your mind from worries - most never happen.
Live simply and appreciate what you have.
Give more.
Expect less.

Stephen Covey (1932 -)
Source: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

A Shabbos Of Issurei Torah??

Embarrassing someone in public; lashon hara; onaas dvarim; ruining shalom bayis; dvarim bteilim; leitzanus etc. etc. Sounds bad. When does this happen? At aufruffs.


A beloved friend sent me this shiur and asked me what I think. I think that you should listen... I once posted about this topic here. In my experience, most of what the Rabbi spoke about doesn't happen. But that is only my experience and I have only been to a small number of aufruffs [I don't have too many friends:-)] and if the phenomena described in the shiur exist it is indeed very serious [people not inviting their own parents to their vort? Horrible]. And since he testified that they do and he is more than reliable, people should be very careful.

I'd like to hear from boys what they think. Is it really as bad as described, in your experience?

שמעו ותחי נפשכם

New Article

Some Torah on a Chanuka topic written in the merit of a chosson and kallah over here.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Under All Circumstances

A myseh they tell about Mickey Mantle. I read it in Roger Kahn's book when I was in America and found myself in a place where Talmud Torah is forbidden:-).

Mantle was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He was also a big drinker [that is probably why he died relatively young. I like to say that when he died he was "dismantled"]. In the olden days most of the games were day games and that enabled the players to drink their nights away. Today of course this is no longer a problem as we have daf yomi and "Dirshu" and so many sefarim in English and shiurim on the Ipods and apps [did I write that word correctly - not sure what it is..]. So after the games the players go off to learn. But back in the day, due to the great physical thirst of the players [which today has OF COURSE been supplanted by a spiritual thirst צמאה נפשי לאלקים] they would drink heavily.

Mantle would always arrive at the game no matter how smashed [I love the way Brits say that word - Smaaahhhhshed] he had gotten the previous night. One time he was feeling so rotten that he only got to the game in the fifth inning [for those of you pure Yidden who don't know what that means, it is sort of like coming to shul at Yishtabach:-)]. The manager [either Casey Stengel or Leo Durocher] said to him with great annoyance "Yer late. Get up there and pinch hit".

Mantle took a bat, stepped up to the plate and promptly smashed [there's that word again:-)] a 425 foot home run. He wobbled around the bases and when he came back to the dugout he said to his manager "You have no idea how hard that was".

He then went to lie down. 

What is the mussar haskel?

Every day we ask Hashem ותרגילנו בתורתך - make me accustomed to learn your Troah. It should be a natural habit. No matter how we feel or how much we slept the previous night, we still must learn as a matter of habit. And if we are feeling really sick and learning is part and parcel of who we are we can still learn on a high level because it is so natural to us. Just like Mick who was such a good ball player he was able to blast a homer while suffering physical distress. Many great Torah has been learned under the most horrible of circumstances, be it religious oppression, poverty or illness.

Ahhhhh - that reminds me of a myseh with Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz. For another post bl"n. Remind me... :-)

Love and blessings,


Great Young Therapist!!

This is an unsolicited advertisment for my beloved friend R' Mordechai Yehoshua [Doni] Joszef.

Hi ,

My name is Doni Joszef, I'm a therapist practicing in Lawrence with individuals, families, and groups. My training is in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) which is a highly efficient model for helping people feel better about themselves and their lives. The cognitive model has been empirically proven to help a wide range of issues, from anxiety to depression, from addiction to marriage conflicts. In short, CBT is something I believe many members of our community can benefit greatly from.

I just opened a new office in Lawrence and am starting my practice, with very encouraging results thus far. I also work at DRS high school as a school psychotherapist, where I provide extensive counseling to adolescents and video workshop training on topics in positive psychology, such as resilience, social intelligence, substance abuse, mindfulness, and healthy self talk.

I just wanted to reach out to you, to let you know about my new practice and my eagerness to help anyone whom you feel may benefit from CBT, on an individual, couple, and/or family level. I charge a very reasonable rate and offer a hands on, methodological therapeutic program based on solution focused agendas.

Anyway, if you know of anyone who may benefit from such counseling services, please have me in mind.
It would be an honor to help you in helping others to help themselves!
All the best,
Doni Joszef, LMSW
Cognitive Therapy with Individuals, Families, and Groups

My phone number: (516) 316-2247
My email:
My private practice website:
My blog:

The Fine Art Of Not Listening

I had to interrupt what I was doing to tell you this. A woman just called to ask if "any of my girls" are available to babysit tomorrow night. I have Baruch Hashem 2 girls, a 16 year old and a 2 year old. It seemed to me that they will both be available, so I said "My 2 year old is available but I don't know how responsible she is."

The woman didn't laugh. She just said in a very serious voice "I need someone at 9 o'clock."

Since she wasn't listening to what I was saying anyway I handed the phone to my daughter. 

The 16 year old....:-)

New Shiur

A shiur on today's daf yomi based on Rav Kook here. Deep stuff.

Connecting Chanuka And Sukkos

Hashem sent these  thoughts on Chanuka and Succos today. Thought I'd share:-)

Tear It In Half

"Many a man wishes he were strong enough to tear a telephone book in half - especially if he has a teen-age daughter."

In The Ground

Somehow a little booklet found its way into my apartment from a questionable source. He rails against going to psychologists because everything is in the Torah. If I would meet him I would ask him if he sends his kids to a Rov when they need a cavity filled or if he makes sure a Rov flies his plane when he goes to America because all of the wisdom is in the Torah so what does he need secular wisdom for...

The Torah teaches us spirituality and according to some sources all of the wisdom in the world is also ALLUDED to in a very vague way. But when I learn how to drive I read a driving manual and not gemara Bava Basra [between us the gemara is FAAARR more interesting].

So since I am of the opinion that most people could be helped by a qualified, competent and successful mental health professional - please go if you think you need it.

Now I can put this little booklet in the ground where it belongs:-).    

Shabbos 55 - When To Give Rebuke

לזכות ר' משה גבריאל בן יהודית הוא וכל אשר לו לברכה והצלחה וכל טוב סלה

The Rosh says [as does Tosfos] that one need not rebuke his fellow if he is certain that he will not listen and is only obligated to rebuke if there is at least a chance that his friend will listen. He adds that this is only  true if we are dealing with a law that is learned from a drasha such as adding on to the time of afflicting oneself on Yom Kippur. However, if the law is explicit in the pasuk then he must give rebuke until the person listens.

The Ritva in Makos [20a] writes that the rule מוטב יהיו שוגגין ואל יהיו מזידין - Better people be shogeg and not meizid [meaning don't rebuke them so that they remain unwitting sinners] only applies to איסורי עשה ["negative positive commandments" where it's phrased as a positive but requires one to refrain from a certain action] such as adding on to the time of Yom Kippur but not to לא תעשה's. A לא תעשה requires one to give rebuke no matter what and we don't prefer that people remain ignorant.

The achronim ask a strong question on these opinions from our gemara that implies clearly that if the tzadikim had been certain that the people would not have heeded their rebuke they would have been allowed to withhold it [they were only held accountable because they weren't certain, so they should have at least tried]. The problem is that we are talking about the sins of the first Beis Hamikdash which were the three cardinal sins of גילוי עריות שפיכות דמים and עבודה זרה which are both explicit and לא תעשה's which means that they were obligated to give rebuke even if they were sure that it would not have been heeded. So how do we reconcile the Rosh and Ritva with our gemara?

עיין אריכות דברים בס' מאור ישראל עמ' קט לגאון הרב עובדיה יוסף שליט"א

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


"Giving power and money to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

The Beauty Of Greece

לזכות שמואל אלכסנדר בן נעכא גיטל ואברהם מרדכי בן נעכא גיטל שיהיו צדיקים גדולים אוהבי השם ואהובים על כל הבריות

As we get closer to Chanukah we think more and more about the differences between Jewish values and Modern-Secular-Philosphical attitudes. The Greeks were the fathers of modern science, mathematics, aesthetics and all around propagators of human knowledge.

There are two aspects of secular culture. One is objective facts, technology, know-how. We may use modern science and technology for our benefit because they are neutral. יפיופיותו של יפת ישכון באהלי שם - The beauty of Yefet [father of Greece - Breishis Perek Yud] will dwell in the tents of Shem.

There is another aspect that is not spiritually neutral. This is where society makes moral judgements and our Torah stands in contrast. One example - Don't kill. Every civilized society axiomatically accepts this prohibition as fundamentally correct. But here is where one must activate his thought process. The are at least two possible reasons why we don't kill. One is because society can't function if people are going around killing others. Another is that it is morally wrong to kill another human being. למאי נפקא מינה - What's the practical difference?

If someone comes and says "Either kill him or I will kill you" the gemara says that he must be killed and not kill his fellow [Pesachim 25a - who says his blood is more red, maybe his friend's blood is more red]. That may be a point of agreement between the two possibilities we presented. However, what if someone says "Either kill him or I will kill BOTH OF YOU". Here is the difference. If we are concerned with a properly functioning society then one could reasonably argue that he should kill his fellow because what benefit would be achieved by not killing his fellow and having both of them killed. But the Torah view is that even in such an instance he may not kill his fellow because it is morally wrong to kill another human being. This is where we diverge from the likely societal approach.

The beauty of Yefes will dwell in the TENTS of Shem. A tent is a structure that anyone may enter, even Yefes. Medicine, mathematics, technology - yes [are you reading this from a machine that didn't exist 25 years ago? For sure]. But Yefes may not enter into our homes. That is the inner sanctum set aside for the holy spirit of Israel alone.

The gemara says that the Greeks entered the "Heichal". This symbolizes the invasion of the Greeks into our spirit, into the Beis Medrash, as opposed to using Greek wisdom for morally and spiritually neutral domains of life. 

I think I once heard that a Rosh Yeshiva of a Hesder Yeshiva [I won't say his name because I am not sure he said it] tells his students that if they want to go to university and study business or medicine that is fine. But not Talmud.

Talmud is for the Beis Medrash.

These words have far-reaching ramifications....:-)

[Based on the teachings of Rav Kook in Ayn Ayah and the sefer Meoros Nerya page 55]

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blurring The Lines

Why do many people light Chanuka candles at sundown when it is still somewhat light outside and not when it is completely dark. שרגא בטיהרא מאי אהני - Who needs a candle by day??

Maran HaRav Hutner - The Greeks mixed everything up and tried to blur the lines between what is holy and what is secular. The most appropriate time to light up their darkness is in the evening, ערב - which means mixture [like the word תערובת].
I always wanted a happy ending... Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.

Gilda Radner (1946 - 1989)

New Article

When I was at the "Israel night" my friend Rabbi Warren Cinamon, a Rebbi in Yeshivas Bnei Torah, asked me about the use of שמן שריפה for נר חנוכה. The Rambam [on the heels of the Yerushalmi] ruled that one may use it only if he has no other oil. What is the reason for this? If it is valid oil it should work even if he has other oil and if it is not then it shouldn't work even if he doesn't....

A question many may have: What is שמן שריפה?

Here is part of what I found on the topic....

Outside Is Inside

The gemara says that ideally one should light his chanuka candles OUTSIDE his front door [or courtyard] in the רשות הרבים [public domain]. Only during a time of religious oppression is it permitted to light inside. The question then presents itself - Why are do many people still have the custom to light inside. There is [thank G-d!!] no longer any fear of repercussions from the Gentiles [except maybe in Iran]?

The Rebbe Shlita says a mind-blowing idea. In the olden days the public domain was public and the private domain was private. When you went home you were freed from any association with the outside world. Today things are different. The רשות הרבים has penetrated our inner sanctum. So when we light inside it is just as if we have lit in the רשות הרבים.

פלאי פלאות.

I would like to add that there is a famous-famous [after all of my readers read this post it will be that much more famous] teshuva of the Dvar Yehoshua [סימן מ of Rav Yehoshua Ehrenberg ztz"l who was a Rov in Europe, survived the holocaust and came to Tel Aviv Hakodesh] where he says a huge chiddush. Not only does he justify the custom to light inside, but he goes further. He says that in our day and age one MUST light inside, otherwise he has not properly fulfilled his obligation. I am not going to tell you his rationale because it is my fervent wish that after getting a daily dose of Mevakesh, people open up tshuvos sefarim and "kinock in lernen" [after the daf yomi, halacha yomis, tehillim yomi, nach yomi, tanya yomi and a regular iyun seder:-)]. With the insight of Mori V'Rabi Shlita maybe we have another reason. People must be reminded today more than ever about the dangers of the רשות הרבים which permeates our homes.

OF COURSE, הלכה למעשה one follows his or her Rov.... 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New Shiur

Maran on "Galus On Our Home Court", here.

A "Pachad":-).

New Shiur

I couldn't post shiurim on YUTORAH when I was in America because I forget to bring the cable that connects my mp3 player to my computer. I always seem to forget SOMETHING! ברוך הוא וברוך שמו. But I am back!

A shiur on Vayishlach based on the teachings of Maran in the Pachad Yitzchak, here. [Note: Saying it is much quicker for me than typing it. Ah mechaye...]

[If it doesn't stream you can download it] .
Why would I want to help them win a title? They're not doing anything for me. I've got a lot at risk here. I've got my family to feed.

Former NBA guard Latrell Sprewell after turning down a three-year, $21 million contract offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

I am collecting tax deductable donations to help him feed his family. Please don't send:-).

Questionable Math

We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees.

Jason Kidd after his Mavs won the title in 2011.

Anything To Win

Former NFL Linebacker Matt Millen:

"To win, I’d run over Joe’s mom, too" (after Redskins lineman Joe Jacoby stated he'd " over my own mother to win the Super Bowl").

A Very Important Fraction

The gemara says that a Talmid Chochom should have  שמינית שבשמינית - an 8th of an 8th gyveh [pride]. Why an 8th of an 8th??

The Chasam Sofer zugt: This is an allusion to the 8th mitzva of Bris Milah which follows after the 7 mitzvos of Noach and is done on the 8th day. The pride a Talmid Chochom should feel is when he is careful about his Bris Milah. He watches what he thinks, what he sees, what he feels and certainly he is careful with whom he comes into physical contact.

He is vigilant regarding the 8th of the 8th. Truly something about which to feel proud.

Optional Prayer

לזכות שמואל פינחס בן שרה לאה לברכה והצלחה בכל אשר יעשה

According to many opinions there is no mitzva from the Torah to daven. How is it possible that such a basic mitzvah should be omitted from the Torah and only the Rabbis later instituted an obligation. EVERY religion, li-havdil, has prayer as one of its central tenants. Why are we different?

Let's say a boy really likes a girl. "A boy really likes a girl". Said it. OK - they get married and in the yichud room he says "I COMMAND you to talk to me. Whenever you need ANYTHING you must turn to me and I will provide whatever I think you need. We must always have open channels of communication." By golly - that's slightly less than romantic. It is also unnecessary. She understands that his job as husband is to provide for her and that part and parcel of every relationship is solid and consistent communication.

Hashem doesn't command us to daven because he wants us to do it on our own as part of the relationship [later on the Rabbis helped us along and made it obligatory]. This being the case the holiest tefilla is Maariv. Maaiv, says the gemara, is an optional tefilla [today we accepted it upon ourselves as obligatory]. Thus, it should emanate from the depths of our soul and not be said because "we have to". Maariv is learned from the words ויפגע במקום - He [Yaakov] 'chanced' upon the place. Meaning - Maariv is so exalted and lofty that it cannot be planned, it just 'happens'. THAT is the holiest:-).  

Let us see these ideas expressed by Rav Kook ztz"l [עולת ראיה עמ' רט] in his poetic and Divinely-inspired language:

תפלת ערבית רשות - בפני עצמה היא. ההשגה הכללית כמו שהיא בתוכיות רוח האדם היא מלאה בכל תכניה, אינה צריכה להיות חושבת שיהיו לה סתירות מצד מה שממעל לה ומצד מה שמתחתיתה. כי האדם בהיותו יודע, שאי אפשר שהאני הפנימי לא יהיה ספוג מהכל העליון וממקור הכל, הרי הוא מתעלה מרוחו פנימה, ויודע איך להוקיר את כל ההתרחבות הרוחנית שבפנימיות אור הוייתו, הוא ידע אז איך להתרחב ולהתרומם, איך להגביר את אור הטוב עד כדי העליונות של הפיכת כל חושך לאור גדול, לאור ד' וטובו. מה שהתפלה שהיא צריכה להיות כ'כ נובעת מקירות לב, עד שכל חיוב יוכל לעשות אותה קבע, זהו יסוד שיטת הסוברים שאין לתפילה עיקר מן התורה. על כן בזה תפלת ערבית היא החלק המובחר ביחש לתפילה, שגדלה היא במה שהיא רשות, ותפילה נקיה מכל צד של קבע נקראת פגיעה, מדת יעקב, ויפגע במקום


Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Written And The Oral

לזכות שמואל אלכסנדר בן נעכא גיטל שיהיה כאחד הגדולים אשר בארץ

What is the difference between hearing a shiur and reading a book? That would also be the difference between the Written Law [תורה שבכתב] and the Oral Law [תורה שבעל פה].

When you read something you discern the intellect of the writer but not [completely] his heart and his passion. When you hear him the more emotional side of what he is saying becomes clear. The inflections of his voice, the emphasis of certain words over others ["He is a MAZIK" is different than "HE is a mazik"] gives one a deeper sense of what the speaker means. Books are great but can never take the place of a human being. The gemara often uses the term אליבא, which is translated as "according to". What it really means is "on the heart of". תורה שבעל פה is in the hearts of the Sages.

Let us read my words in their source -  R' Tzadok Hakohen:
כי הבדל בין כתיבה לדיבור כי בכתיבה הוא רק התגלות
החכמה שבמוחו ומחשבתו אבל הדיבור הוא התגלות הבינה שבלב שזה נגלה בדבור כפי
איכות הדבור ותנועתו ניכר עליו מה שבלבו כידוע שיש הכרה בדברים אם יוצאים מן הלב ואם
מדבר בתוקף או בנחת בכעס או רצון וכיוצא בו. הלשון קולמוס הלב כמ"ש בחובת הלבבות שער
הענוה וניכר ומלובש בדבורו הבינה שבלב משא"כ בכתיבה מלובש רק החכמה - לקוטי מאמרים עמ ז


"Inner peace is impossible without patience. Wisdom requires patience. Spiritual growth implies the mastery of patience. Patience allows the unfolding of destiny to proceed at its own unhurried pace."

ועם רוחי גויתי השם לי לא אירא

What is the meaning of ועם רוחי גויתי השם לי לא אירא? Whatever tune you use for אדון עולם those are the last words.

Let's translate - ועם רוחי - and with my spirit, גויתי - my body, השם לי - G-d is with me [or "to me"], לא אירא - I will not fear.

What are we saying here?

Death can be scary. They say that 60 percent of the population fears death and 71 percent of the population fears public speaking which effectively means that more people would rather be the dead person at a funeral than gave the eulogy.

But still, death is scary to many. How do we deal with our fear of death? It can happen at any second [the next one included]. What will happen when we go? F-R-I-G-H-T-EN-I-N-G!! The body goes down and we are GONEEEEEEEE!!!!! Especially before we sleep which is a miniature form of death we are liable to be fearful.

The author of Adon Olam [who is unknown but the tfillah is at least a thousand years old] calms us down. My body and my spirit are one unity. עם רוחי - with my spirit goes גויתי - my body. My body is not alone as long as I live and when my body goes my spirit will still be extant. Hashem is able to encompass both seemingly contradictory elements of body and soul. Therefore there is NOTHING to fear. So we can go to sleep with complete trust in Hashem that he will wake us up and return our soul to our body.
In Tehillim it says אני שכבתי ואישנה הקיצותי כי השם יסמכני - I will lie down and go to sleep, I will wake up because will support me.

Let us see what Rav Kook ztz"l says on this sentence in his own words -
וכהבטחון באמונת אל נאמן מצד השינה, ככה הוא הבטחון הנמרץ, המסיר מהאדם כל פחד, הראוי להופיע נגד עיניו בכל עת על ערך קיומו, שהוא דוקא במושג החיים הזמניים, חיי החומר והגויה, בחבור הרוח, עד עת קץ אשר ברצון אל כל אחד יעמוד לגורלו עד עת תחית עולמים. הנה מצד הערך העצמי של אלה שני הנושאים, הרחוקים זה מזה, שחבורם פלאי, היה ראוי שיהיה האדם תמיד אחוז ביראת הפרידה, הראויה למרר את חייו ולהמס אותם בפחד וחלחלה. אבל מהיכן בא אומץ החיים, והסרתה של היראה הטבעית הזאת מקרב האדם, עד שתקנן בו אמונת חייו, זהו מפני שעם רוחי גויתי, שהם כ"כ נגדיים זה לזה ומרוחקים זה מזה, ד' לי, המאחד הכל בגדולת אחדותו, ואין מצדו הפכים ורחוקים נגדיים, ולא אירא - אני שכבתי ואישנה, הקיצותי כי ד' יסמכני

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Today I saw from my window the first Thanksgiving day parade since 1986!!! Mamesh a walk down memory lane:-)!

A old post for the yontiff...

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."

G.K. Chesterson

The first word out of a Jew's mouth every morning - "thanks".

"Yehudi" means "thanks".

A Jew IS thanks and gratitude.

Internalizing what you have to be thankful for is the secret to happiness.

The secret is OUT!!!:)

Love and Blessings Tyere Yidden!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.
Norman Cousins (1912 - 1990)

May A Soldier Guard A Monastary?

In this clip, Rabbi Aviner is asked if a soldier is allowed to guard a monastery.

What do you think?

He permits it. His reasoning is that we are governing over Eretz Yisrael which is a mitzva and we shouldn't lose out on this mitzva by not guarding over this monastery [despite the fact that a monastary is a place of avoda zara]. 

With all due respect I think that this is not so simple. There is a mitzva in the Torah to uproot all avoda zara in Eretz Yisrael. How can we go ahead and PROTECT a place of avoda zara? His psak was colored [it seems to me] by his strong hashkafa that we must show our control of Eretz Yisrael under all circumstances but doesn't stand up to close scrutiny [in my humble opinion with the caveat that he is a much great talmid chochom than I]. It is forbidden to even ENTER a monastery and certainly one may not aid and abet them by guarding it. Instead, the soldier should tell his commander to find a "weekday goy" to do it, like a Druze soldier. כך נראה לעניות דעתי

I copy three sources from Maran HaRav Hutner ztz"l on the importance of uprooting avoda zara from Eretz Yisrael [which of course we are unable to do today because it is against the law and would land the person in jail].
 אין מקום לדיבורים על מצות כבוש הארץ, כל זמן שאין כח לקיים את ה"לשרש אחריה" של עבודה זרה שבתוכה. דכל שאין הכיבוש יוצר את תקיפות היד לעקור עבודה זרה של נוכרים בא"י ביד רמה- אין זה הכיבוש האמור בענין; ואין שום הבדל בין אם מניעת האפשרות של עקירת עבודה זרה דנוכרים באה היא מצד השעבוד לטורקיא או לאנגליא ובין אם מניעה זו באה היא מצד השעבוד לאו"ם, או לאפיפיור ברומא, או לדעת הקהל העולמית. כל אלו המצבים נכללים הם בהביטוי ש"יד עכו"ם תקיפה על עצמן". ותקיפות ידם של העכו"ם בא"י בענין עקירת עבודה זרה כפי דין העקירה המיוחד לא"י דוקא, כידוע ברמב"ם פ"ז מהלכות עבודה זרה היא סותרת את מצב הכיבוש (ספר הזכרון למרן ה"פחד יצחק" עמ' נב'-נג').
"ארץ ישראל רק לציבור ניתנה, ומכיון שפריקת עול הוי פרישה מדרכי ציבור, בודאי שהיא מפקיעה את בעליה ממתנת הארץ. חלק בארץ ישראל, למי שמפקיע עצמו מכלל ישראל, הרי זה משפט הסותר את עצמו".(פחד יצחק, חנוכה, מאמר י"ג' אות ד').
"ורואים אנו מכאן (עיין רמב"ם הלכות ע"ז, פ"י ה"א) להדיא שלענין מחטיא את ישראל, האפיקורסים מישראל דינם יותר חמור מהשבעה עממים. ומכיון שכתבה תורה על השבעה עממים "לא ישבו בארצך פן יחטיאו אותך לי", אנו למדים קל וחומר על המומרים מישראל, שבודאי הם עומדים להחטיא את ישראל ושפיר קאי עלייהו הלאו ד"לא ישבו בארצך"  - פחד יצחק, אגרות וכתבים, מכתב נ"ז
In summary, Maran is mechadesh that there is no mitzva of living in Israel as long as we haven't uprooted avoda zara from the land.  
Halacha li-myse - one should ask a Rav!:-). 

Preparing For the Big Day

An excerpt from a column by Dave Barry in the Miami Herald:

It's almost Thanksgiving, a time for us to pause in our busy lives and remember, as the Pilgrims did so long ago, that an improperly cooked turkey can kill us.

PREPARING THE TURKEY: Proper turkey preparation is critical. according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more Americans die every year from eating improperly cooked turkey than were killed in the entire Peloponnesian War. This is because turkey can contain salmonella, which are tiny bacteria that, if they get in your bloodstream, develop into full-grown salmon, which could come leaping out of your mouth during an important business presentation.

This does NOT mean you can't serve turkey this Thanksgiving! It just means that you, personally, should not eat it.

Step one in preparing the turkey is to let it thaw (allow six to eight years). Step two is to reach your hand inside the slimy, dark chest cavity of the turkey and remove the giblets. Be careful, because you are intruding upon the territory of the deadly North American giblet snake, which can grow, coiled inside an innocent-looking 12-pound turkey, to a length of 55 feet. In one of the most horrifying moments in cooking history, one of these monsters attacked Julia Child during her live 1978 Thanksgiving TV special; it would have strangled her if she had not known exactly where to insert her baster. Few people who have seen this chilling footage have failed to order the videotape from PBS.

Assuming you get the giblets out safely, Step Three is to cook the turkey until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 7,500 degrees centigrade (check by feeling the turkey's wrist). You're all done! It's time to enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving dinner, just like the one enjoyed by the Pilgrims.  None of whom are alive today.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Reading Minds

לכבוד הבחורה היקרה אביבה זהבה בת מירל לברכה הצלחה וכל טוב סלה

Rav Moshe Tzvi Neria related the following story that Rav Charlap told him:

Rav Charlap read the sefer נפלאות החוזה which related the wonders of the Seer of Lublin [the חוזה מלובלין]. Rav Charlap wanted to understand how someone was able to see things that nobody else was able to see.

He went to ask his Rebbi, Rav Kook. There were other people in the house with Rav Kook so Rav Charlap waited until he they left. When this happened Rav Kook turned to Rav Charlap and explained with a passion [without Rav Charlap prompting him and explaining his reason for coming] that some tzadikim purify their heart. Others focus on the mind. Other purify their ears. Then there are tzadikim who focus on their eyes. They work so hard to purify their eyes to only see what is permitted and in that merit they are able to see things that nobody else can see. Rav Kook explained at length the concept of Kedushas Einayim and the powers endowed upon somebody who reaches high levels in this area. That, explained the Rav, was the Seer of Lublin.

Rav Charlap was blown away by the fact that Rav Kook read his mind. 

I guess if you purify your thoughts you can read the thoughts of others. 

שיחות הראי"ה עמוד שמז


Rav Kook held his student Rav Charlap in such high regard that Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook testified that Rav Kook's last words were "Reb Yaakov Moishe"...  

The Kiss Of Death

לזכות הבחורה היקרה אביבה זהבה בת מירל - ברכה והצלחה לה ולכל הנלוים אליה

Another vort based on Rav Charlap in the Mei Marom [Volume 5 page 71]:

In this weeks parsha we read of Yaakov's meeting with Rochel. He saw her, he kissed her, he raised his voice and he cried [29/11].

He kissed her??


How can that be?

Rashi explains that he cried because he saw with ruach hakodesh that he would not be buried with her.

Explains the Rav:

כמה נפלא הדבר הזה שיחד עם הנשיקה זכר יעקב את יום המיתה עד שצפה
ברוח הקודש מה שיהיה עמו ועמה. וכמה קדושות וטהורות הן הנשיקות הללו
שבאו בזכרון עמוק ביום המיתה

How wonderful that together with the kiss, Yaakov remembered with ruach hakodesh his day of death and what would be with them at that time. How holy and pure are these kisses that came with the memory of death.

These were kisses of ETERNITY. Of the soul. It had NOTHING to do with physical desire.

According to this we can also understand the pasuk ויהי בבוקר והנה היא לאה  - It was morning and behold she was Leah. Meaning that the whole night he thought it was Rochel and only in the morning he realized that it was Leah. והנה means something new. Only in the morning she was Leah [in Yaakov's mind]. This means that Yaakov was SOOO PURE that after so many years of bachelorhood he didn't even look at his bride on their wedding night. Notice that the pasuk doesn't say that he "saw her" in the morning. It just says that in the morning he found out that she was Leah but not that he looked.

Yaakov didn't marry a body. Yaakov married a soul.

We all come from Yaakov. May we all strive to reach his exalted madreiga.

פלאי פלאי פלאות

Love and blessings:-)

A Holy Man

Today I was walking down 72nd and Broadway and I stopped at a book stand [as I often do, I have a weakness for books] to look at the various used books for sale. I picked out three and approached the seller and asked how much they will cost me. The pleasantly plump black man is usually pretty predictable. "Fiiiiive bucks" he usually says. I was ready and willing to hand over 15 dollars but he surprised me.

"On the house" he boomed with a smile.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Yeah, enjoy the books." [He knew that I know how to read because I look Jewish and all Jews are smart. Plus, I wear glasses:-)].

I was stubborn. "I'm willing to pay".

No it's fine, he assured me.

"Do you have enough money to live?" [I just took money out of the bank so I was feeling generous:-)]. By the look of him I wasn't sure.

He nodded. I thanked him and assured him that I would return.

One of the books was Holy Brother. I saw a story there that relates to a story I told in a recent post.

R' Shlomo Carlebach was once davening at the Kotel with his chevre and an old man approached  him. In furious tones he said "זה מקום קדוש ואתה איש טמא. לך מפה". [This is a holy place and you are an impure man. Leave!]

He then spit directly into R' Shlomo's face.

Frozen with shock, R' Shlomo's followers watched in horror as he began to wipe off the thick rivulets of spittle streaming down his face and waited for him to speak. Turning to the group, R' Shlomo said "Did you see the holy eyes of that man? We are privileged to have in our midst such a holy man!"

There was no anger, no rebuke, no sarcasm and no bitterness in his voice, just a sense of awe and marvel that such a holy man had crossed his path.   

Wish I Were There:-)

When the Heilige Beis Yisrael ztz"l first became the Gerrer Rebbe [in 1948], he used to spend 3 hours on Erev Shabbos learning Kabbala privately with Rav Charlap ztz"l in Rav Charlap's apartment in Shaarei Chesed.

[Pe'er Yisrael Page 317]

When the Imrei Emes passed away and the Beis Yisrael wasn't sure if he should become the Rebbe, Rav Charlap sent him a note hinting to him that he should accept the yoke of leadership, as he ultimately did.

[Page 270]

The Beis Yisrael's talmid, Mori V'Rabi Kvod Kedushas Ha-Admor Mi-Tolna Shlita, suggested to a person I know well that he read the biography of Rav Charlap Shirat Ha-Yam. I pass on the עצה טובה.

An Angel Of God

לזכות ידיד נפשי משה יהודה בן פעשא דינה שיזכה לזיווג הגון במהרה

Nuuuuu sweet, beloved friends. After all the talk about the evil deeds of some Rabbis, a story about how it SHOULD be done. On the Rav's yahrtzeit. זכות הצדיקים יעזור ויגן ויושיע!!:-)

Rabbi Eliyahu Weissfish was on an airplane going to America and an older man who didn't look particularly religious, sat down next to him. The man first spoke to Rabbi Weissfish in heavily accented English but when Rabbi Weissfish related that he is a Yerushalmi he switched to Yiddish. Upon learning that Rabbi Weissfish was the grand nephew of Rav Charlap ztl"z he told the following story:

When I was a child I was mesmerized by the holy presence of Rav Charlap. It seemed to me that he radiated the Shechina. Even his bekeshe seemed to shine more than anybody elses. I would accompany him to the Gra shul on Friday night, daven in the Chasidic shul and then go back to the Gra shul where he davened and walk him home.

One week I noticed a man who was contorting his face in a strange way. When Rav Charlap came close I understood what he had been doing. He proceeded to empty out the contents of his mouth on the Rav. The Rav didn't look at his aggressor [so as not to feel enmity towards him or maybe so as not to embarrass him] and took out a handkerchief and cleaned his face, beard and clothing as well as he could and then walked home deep in thought. His eyes looked very sad. I wanted to hug and console him. 

I now knew that this man was truly an angel of G-d.

The man removed an old picture from his wallet and showed it to Rabbi Weissfish. He explained that he had undergone many difficulties in his life. Whenever he thought to do something he shouldn't have, he looked at the holy Rav and asked himself how he could look at this holy man and veer from the path of Judaism. Everything he has become in this world, he said, is thanks to Rav Charlap.

[Based on a story in the Rav's biography Shirat Ha-yam]   

Hashem Is HERE!

Today is the yahrtzeit of the great gaon and tzaddik, Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap ztz"l, the Rov of Shaarei Chesed in Yerushalyim and a heilige heilige Yid. When I was zoche to learn Torah with the bochrim [I am only one big check away from re-realizing that dream:-)], one of my favorite sets of sefarim was the Rav's Mei Marom [16 volumes!].

A short vort on this weeks parsha based on one of the sefarim [Vol. 5 page 70]: We read of Yaakov's great vision of the angels ascending and descending the latter. If it were me, I would wake up and say "COOOOL-OOOOO. ANGELS! How spiritual! I must be something special:-)". Then I would gather my family for a conference and I would tell everybody about what Abba saw. I would expand on the holiness of angels and how their entire existence is to fulfill the will of Hashem and how they are invisible but if someone becomes a spiritual being he can see them. Then I would feel really good and eat a sumptuous breakfast to celebrate my good fortune..

What was Yaakov's reaction? He experienced great fear and said "Ohmigosh!! Hashem is HERE and I didn't know!" Nothing about the angels. The reason is because when in the presence of G-d, angels are completely insignificant. Some people are so enamored of great "mekubalim" [some with the parenthesis and some without] that they forget about HASHEM. If the mekubal says to eat melave malka they will. But if Hashem commands us not to speak lashon hara that is not enough. So of course we should respect and revere tzadikim but never forget about the Boss:-)!

Then Yaakov made an oath to give big bucks. The vision didn't make him arrogant or haughty but more humble and spiritually aware.

That is "Torah she-bichtav". For some "Torah she-beal peh" you can click here.

 זכות הצדיקים יעזור ויגן ויושיע!!:-) 

Marry A Frummy

As we prepare for Chanuka, an old post that is still revelant בימים ההם בזמן הזה:

The ancient Greeks were prutzim. They liked to "reveal all".

We Jews in contrast are tznuim. What is tzniyus [modesty]? Saying that tzniyus is defined by the length of a skirt is like saying that one is religious because he wears a kippah. It is the exact opposite - one wears a kippah because he is religious. Similarily, if a girl is tznuah, she wears a long skirt. Wearing a long skirt doesn't make her a tznuah. The skirt is the effect not the cause [the מסובב and not the סיבה, if I may wax philosophical].

What do I mean???

The pasuk in Michah talks about one who is הצנע לכת עם השם אלקיך - walks modestly with G-d. To be modest means to be focused on ones internal essence and not on ones external shell [i.e. the body]. A tznuah is someone who understands that the "real me" is the soul and not the body. Such an attitude necessitates that the body be properly covered because if it isn't, the focus will be drawn to the externals - the diametrical opposite of tzniyus. Thus, tzniyus applies to men and women equally. Tzniyus is knowing that my soul is a piece of Hashem and therefore ALL that matters is His will. What others think and say is irrelevant because they are fixated on the externals.

The paradigm of tzniyus according to Chazal was Rochel [megilla 13b]. When she gave her sister the private signs between her and Yaakov on their wedding day she exhibited tzniyus. Where is the tzniyus here? A good heart, yes, but where is the tzniyus?? But now we understand that tzniyus is focusing on what is good and right in a world we can't see. Rochel gave away the signs because she knew that this was the will of her Creator and paid no heed to the desires of her body.

Shaul her descendant also exhibited tzniyus when knew he was about to be appointed king and told nobody. The shows that he was internally focused and had no need to publicize his greatness.

So when a girl dresses modestly and covers up she is displaying tzniyus, meaning that she is focused on her soul and is trying to draw attention AWAY from her body. Thus, the result of her tzniyus is her dress. [See Kol Hatorah Nissan 5763]

There are many, far too many, young men who are looking for a wife who is NOT tznuah. Those "frummy girls" are boring in their misguided minds. They will unabashedly ask the shadchan or the girl herself embarrassing [as least to me when I hear about it] and immodest questions.

For such people I have news - not only is it MORALLY corrupt to be immodest but it is also NO recipe for a successful marriage. On the contrary. External attraction and excitement are short-lived causing those who seek it to look elsewhere. והמבין יבין. If, however, the primary attraction is the soul and inner life of the person, then there is hope for a future.

So girls, Bnos Sarah, Rivka, Rochel and Leah, PLEASE don't be swayed by young men whose minds have been contaminated by our morally deviant society, by pictures on a screen that convince him that his happiness is going to be rooted in an external, temporal shell. Don't be afraid that you won't get a husband because they are all like that. There are boys who realize that a lasting union must be built on tzniyus, otherwise it's doomed.

Marry such a boy. He is not supercial and shallow like so many others. He realizes that in the private context of marriage a "frummy girl" is not necessarily a boring girl and that the MOST ATTRACTIVE quality a girl can possess is tzniyus.

Tznius is beautiful. Therefore on chanukah we celebrate the victory of the tznuim against the prutzim with beautiful menorahs and light mehadrin min hamehadrin - in the most beautiful way.

Can't Believe It

Recently I was chatting with the Rabbi of a well known shul in the New York area. He is a follower of a Rabbi who was indicted on charges of abuse. He said something I found disturbing: He is not ready to believe that he did what he is accused of doing, despite mounds of evidence to the contrary. "Maybe he went a little further than he should have but not what he is accused of doing."

The moment we put somebody on a pedestal, it is psychologically too painful to admit that he also has a sinister and sometimes deranged element to his personality. I see this all the time. People are not ready to admit that a person whom they admire doesn't possess only the sterling qualities that are attributed to him.

I will tell you the danger in this: If wrongdoing is denied, the abuse continues unabated and the victims multiply. In my lifetime I have seen this process many times. Big name abuses. People don't believe it and cover it up. He continues. People continue defending him. Until there is such overwhelming evidence that it can no longer be denied and it gets to the newspapers. In my head I have a long list.

Why does the aggressor have more rights than his innocent victims??

By the way - The aforementioned indicted Rabbi is [according to his wiki page] still giving shiurim in numerous venues. He is not the only one who commits crimes against the Torah and/or the law and continues to spread his darkness  "light".

Remember the eternal guidance of our Sages [מועד קטן יז]: If your Rebbi is like an angel of G-d, learn from him - if not - don't. 

I discuss this here, here and  here.

Coping With Stress

"Stress is a part of life. Wouldn't you love
to have a button you could push to turn
off stress and an equally useful button to
turn on relaxation? Well, you can, by
simply acknowledging the triggers that set
you off and imagining the button that calms
you down. You can retrain yourself to push
the right buttons that allow you to relax and
feel at ease."

The Punishment Of Evil

A strategy against the yetzer hara: Whenever you want to do something or say something you shouldn't, tell him [or her] that you will have to pay a price afterwards. Acts of evil have their price not only in the next world but right here in this one. People who steal eventually get caught and pay a heavy price. A person who maligns others will eventually suffer from his own words and they will come back to haunt him. Examples abound. Here is another one. People, even those who wear fabric on their heads which covers up their bald spot and also serves as a religious symbol, will sometimes exhibit infidelity in marriage [notice how careful I am not to call them religious or observant because the moment they engage in such behavior they cease to be..]. This will torment him for many years to come in various ways. When his children find out it will cause a rupture in the relationship and when his wife finds out... well, you can use your imagination. He will then lose his car and house and pay a LOT to lawyers [recently a lawyer was telling me what his firm charges. When I heard that I decided that I should become a lawyer and work one hour a day. That'll be more than enough:-)]. Hurricane Sandy will not be necessary to put him out and with him there will be less sympathy and chesed and much derision and antipathy. Ahhhh - some medical harm as well? Read this excerpt from newsmax:

“You may think getting involved in an affair is great when it starts, but it often leads to immense stress, causing heart disease and cancer,” renowned cardiac specialist Chauncey Crandall, M.D., tells Newsmax Health.
When we think of health problems from risky sexual behavior we often think of sexually transmitted diseases. But the most serious medical effects from an extramarital affair are often heart related, said Dr. Crandall, head of cardiac preventive services at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The dangers are multifold, he said. First, men who engage in illicit sexual activity are often at high risk for heart attacks even before the affair begins. “Older men may have underlying heart disease, and the extra stress that occurs during an affair may be what pushes them over the edge. During sex, their heart rate and blood pressure becomes greatly increased, and this can cause plaque in the coronary arteries to rupture and cause a heart attack,” said Dr. Crandall.
Indeed, this is backed up by medical studies, including one published in May in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Researchers from the University of Florence analyzed data about men who had heart attacks. Men who were cheating on their wives, especially with younger women, were found to be more likely to have heart attacks compared to men who were faithful.
But it’s not only physical stress that takes a toll on health. The emotional stress is devastating as well. “When you are having an illicit affair, you are hiding a big secret, and this adds huge mental stress to everything you do,” said Dr. Crandall.
When you’re under stress, your body pumps out increased levels of certain hormones, including adrenalin and cortisol, which circulates in the bloodstream, and are linked to the development of heart disease along with some types of cancer, he explained.
The stress of being found out can be too much for many men to bear, Dr. Crandall said. “If you’re in politics or political service, the likelihood of being found out is enormous, because everyone is watching you and waiting for you to stumble. But, for even ordinary people having an affair, the likelihood of being found out is magnified these days, because of the Internet and because phone calls and activity can be so easily traced,” he said.
When affairs become public, stress can engulf the entire family, which causes heartbreak and depression for the aggrieved spouse as well. If divorce occurs, the health risks increase further.
“Studies have found that getting divorced can shorten the lifespan for up to 10 years, and I’m not only talking about the person who has the affair, but also the children as well,” said Dr. Crandall, adding, “I tell people that committing adultery is like a surgical scar – it’s ugly and it is something that will never go away.”
This post can be encapsulated in three words of chazal - שכר עבירה עבירה.
Think about it:-)
Love always,

PS - See previous post. Another example.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Another Tragedy and Chillul Hashem

A very well known English Rov with a large kehilla has been accused of doing some terrible things in the area of גילוי עריות. I don't know the details but the accusations are very serious.

He wrote the following letter in his own handwriting that was on the web...

היות ונתעורר כמה טענות אודותי בעניני יעוץ לשלום [בית] החלטתי לטובתי למשוך ידי ממשרות ציבורית שמחוץ לבית מדרשי, ובעזהשי”ת אמשיך להרביץ תורה תמידין כסדרן בסיעתא דשמיא
ה’ כסלו תשע”ג
מקום החותם
“Since several complaints have arisen against me relating to marriage counselling I have decided in my interest to withdraw from public positions beyond my beis hamedresh, and please God I will continue to teach Torah in regular shiurim with the help of Above.
5 Kislev 5773
Did he do it? I don't know. But that is not relevant to us right now. I want to talk about the bigger question of seemingly great people who fall very low. As we know there is a Rov in Eretz Yisrael who was nothing less than the most popular Rov in the whole country, I exaggerate not. He was on TV and the radio and not only did religious people worship the ground he walked on but even many non-religious people were spellbound by his shiurim, charisma and depth. He spoke with passion and power and pathos and often broke new ground in his profound understanding of Torah. Then he was accused of doing some really disgusting things. Really disgusting. This was nothing less than traumatic for so many of his followers, particularly the youthful ones who saw him as their role model in life. He is now out of the public eye and his life is effectively over.
A letter from one of the followers of the English Rov that was on line:
The kehilla Divrei Chaim is in crisis. Our rov has been our mentor, our rock, our guide, our problem solver, for so many years, and we are reeling from these revelations. None of us can accept it, and yet deep down we know it's true. We have felt it even if we haven't articulated it. Even as the rumours grew stronger, no rov would publicly defend our rov, or even offer us some mitigating statement. While we said to each other that this is because everyone else is jealous of him, we knew that this could not explain such a mass desertion. Surely the other rabbonim are not such kalei daas.
This conclusion is nothing short of devastating. Our kehilla has been destroyed. The Rov was our life, he was why we all joined, and why we all stayed. We have prided ourselves on being a cut above the rest, belonging to a special shul and being loyal to a rov who demanded that we set the bar higher than the average GG baalebos - shiurim, tznius, tefillah. Now the whole thing has come tumbling down.

What do we do? Do we stay in a shul that has a rov whose flaws are too embarrassing to even discuss? How will this affect our children, who grew up in the shul? If we leave, where can we go? No shul is like ours - that was why we belonged! We must be a complete laughing stock!
I could never say this to him to his face, but here on a blog, under the cover of anonymity I can ask our rov - how could you have done this to us? How could you mess up so badly that all of us in your kehilla have been damaged by your actions? What were you thinking? Don't you think you owe us an explanation?

I, and others in the kehilla, are too shocked to be angry. We are so invested in our rov, we cannot even deal with this story. To his face we are pretending "business as usual", but inside we are in turmoil.

Hashem yeracheim aleinu!

This is my mehalech and two cents: People have different sides to them. We all do. We all have a good, holy and pure side and we all have a more base, selfish, narcissistic side. One side doesn't cancel out the other. Most of us don't have it to such an extreme. The expressions of the good and not-so-good are within certain limits. We daven but not exactly with the intensity of the Chafetz Chaim, we learn but not exactly with the hasmada of Rav Chaim Kniyevsky. Our faults are also within limits. If you are a guy, chances are that within the last 24 hours you have had a thought and or seen something that is forbidden according to Jewish law. The gemara says that just about everybody does. You probably feel jealousy/anger/impatience etc. etc. from time to time. You have probably doubted Hashem in your life as well. These aren't beautiful middos and thoughts of which we are proud.

So in a sense, we too are guilty of a certain level of unfaithfulness and at times hypocrisy. OF COURSE it is not to such an extreme as we find in the aforementioned examples [assuming that the accusations are true] but in a more moderate way we too are guilty.

So what is the correct approach? I believe we all need to introspect and find our inconsistencies and fix them. It is not always comfortable but the rewards are great. There is so much room for growth and so much to explain but I don't feel that I can properly convey what I mean within the scope of this post. If I am ever zoche to have my own yeshiva or kollel I will hopefully try to transmit my understanding. It is not a short easy path but a minefield. If one successfully gets across and really changes [as opposed to most people who, frankly, don't change very much, certainly in their adult years. With kids there is more hope] he is a modern day hero.

Another thought: Some people are really sick and delusional. I personally know two such people. Rabbis who have learned and taught a lot of Torah who are in my humble opinion, reshaim. Sick, delusional reshaim. Why are only people from the general population allowed to be sick but not Rabbanim? Sickness doesn't discriminate and some people who have a talent for learning and teaching and strong religious predilections can also be mentally ill. We should never make the mistake made by so many to confuse Judaism with Jews. The Torah is complete shalom and pleasantness - דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום [see the Rambam at the end of hilchos chanuka] but some of its partial practitioners are not living up to its principles. That is tragic and a chillul Hashem but it is the reality.

Our job is not to engage in speculation about what did or didn't happen but to know that the yeter hara is a tricky character and tries to get ALL of us.

The answer: A lot of mussar, chassidus, gemera [preferably bi-iyun], a true tzaddik as a guide and many tefillos that we shouldn't fall.

Love, blessings and many we be constantly mischazek and be mechazek others to climb the ladder leading to Hashem.

אורח חיים למעלה למשכיל למען סור משאול מטה

PS - People sometimes misread my intentions, so I want to clarify. I am NOT and would NEVER defend the actions of someone who hurt another human being in any way. Evil is evil regardless of the perpetrator and his position in life and on the contrary, the greater the individual, the higher our expectations. אוהבי השם שנאו רע.

Finding The Balance

Chesed alone is dangerous because the chesed can go too far. Incest is called by the Torah "chesed". It is a chesed that extended beyond it's boundries. In life it is dangerous to do chesed because there is always a risk that it will go overboard. Some boys sincerely want to do kiruv. What a chesed! Giving somebody meaning and a reason to live and showing them the richness of a Torah lifestyle. But in some instances their target audience is teenage girls. Chesed gone overboard. Let him instead visit an old age home and learn gemara with an elderly man. Avraham the paradigm of chesed had a Yishmael which is chesed gone awry. He and his descendants are notorious for their sexual impurity, without going into the gory details [don't be fooled by the apparent "modesty" of the women]. Too much chesed. 

Strict judgement, din,  is also dangerous. It can lead one to being an excessively critical, unloving person. If gone overboard it can make one a murderer. Esav was an extreme overdone expression of the strict judgement that was Yitzchak.

When one finds the proper balance and harmony between chesed and din there is no more danger. Yaakov personified this harmony and merged the characteristics of chesed and din. That is why he inherited not only Eretz Yisrael but also every area outside of Eretz Yisrael that is captured by the Jews and thus becomes sanctified. His inheritance is without borders - נחלה בלי מצרים [see Rashi Beraishis 49/26 and the commentary of the Brisker Rov thereon]. Yaakov doesn't need borders.

In davening we say לך אתן ארץ כנען חבל נחלתכם  - To you [singular] I will give the Land Of Kenaan the portion of your inheritance [plural]. Why does the pasuk open with the singular and close with the plural? Did you ever think of that question? I didn't. Psukei D'zimra is too quick to think much about anything...

The answer suggested by the Rinas Yitzchak [עמ' סה] is that the first part of the pasuk is discussing the inheritance of Avraham Avinu which only includes Eretz Yisrael proper. Since Avraham was chesed he only inherits a limited inheritance with BORDERS. The latter part of the pasuk is referring to the limitless inheritance of Yaakov Avinu which includes any land that is captured by the Jewish people as a community and is then annexed to Eretz Yisrael proper with its attendant sanctity.

Mussar haskel: Make sure that your chesed and din are both within their respective borders and try to find that Yaakovian balance.

Torah is deeeeeeppppp!

Love and blessings:-)


"Trust allows you to give. Giving is abundant. Trust allows the experience of bliss. Bliss is awakefulness. Trust allows you to laugh. Laugh at the richness, the beauty and the playfulness of the universe. Apply consciousness to this process and all roads will lead to home."

I really wish I could trust more people. So many have proven themselves not trustworthy. Makes me appreciate the special ones whom I know will always be there.
OK - all of this blogging has kept me awake. Now, at 4:10am I go to the airport.

ברוך הוא וברוך שמו

חי וקיים

We say first thing in the morning that Hashem is a מלך חי וקיים - a living, existing King. If he lives, he exists and if he exists he lives. So why the repetition? What is the difference?

Hashem never changes. אני השם לא שיניתי - I, Hashem, never change, the pasuk says. On the other hand, life, חיים, is FILLED with change. In Hashem, we find a harmony in the constant flux of life, Hashem as a חי and at the same time he is קיים - he never changes. Completely unchanging and immutable.

חי וקיים.

In the words of The Master:

הקיום הוא העמדה הקבועה, המתעלה מכל שינוי ותמורה. מקור החיים הוא היש הקיים העומד בעליוניותו ממעל לכל השינויים כולם, "אני ד' לא שניתי". אמנם החיים אינם מצטיירים לנו כ"א ע"י המון שינוייהם, ואנו מתעלים לההכרה וההרגשה העליונה של מכון החיים של האורה האלהית, שתואר החיים ותואר הקיימיות מתאחדים בו. ומזה אנו באים להשכיל, שכל המון השינויים אינם משביתים את הקיימיות כ"א בערכם של הנבראים, בעלי החלק והקצבה, אבל באור הנצח השינויים כולם הנם רק אוצרות חיים קבועים, חיים עליונים, חיים קימים. "צדיקים יושבים ועטרותיהם בראשיהם, ונהנים מזיו השכינה". הישיבה היא הקביעות, קבועים הם הצדיקים, איתנים הם באור החיים הקבוע הבלתי משתנה, ודוקא עם זה הוא מלא כל העליצות וכל האור של זיו החיים. "קביעין כן תהויין בהנהו חבורתא", אמר הפייטן. וזה בא מאור פני מלך חי וקים, ששתי ההופעות, של החיים, המלאים לפי השקפתנו שינויים ותמורות, והקיימיות האיתנה העומדת לעד, מתאחדות בו באחוד מופלא

Sleep And The Return Of The Soul

When a person is deprived of sleep for long enough he will literally go crazy [I write this in a sleep deprived state so it's mamesh li-myse:-)]. A person needs sleep because that is what gives him the strength to continue. What is the spiritual explanation for this?

When a person is awake he is in his most physical state. Sleep is 1/60th of death as the gemara teaches. We even make a bracha that expresses this clearly - המחזיר נשמות לפגרים מתים [You return souls to corpses]. Thus, death is a return to the Source. This return effectively "fills up the tank" for another day of activity. In its absence a person will have no strength to continue. When we wake up in the morning, we thank Hashem שהחזרת בי נשמתי - that he returned my neshama. This is not the same exact neshama as the one I returned last night before sleep but a "recharged" neshama. However, its basic properties remain unchanged, which is why we say שהחזרת - you returned, meaning that it's same one we gave you.

On Shabbos we sleep, because Shabbos is the day when the world returns to its source [that is what the word "Shabbos" means - return] and so do we.

Sweet dreams:-)!!

עיין סידור עולת ראיה

Finding Yourself

A "moira-dike" hergesh [show of acute spiritual sensitivity] of Rav Kook. A person wakes up in the morning and he looks into the far beyond, he thinks of all of the galaxies and the vast cosmos and feels completely nullified into nothingness. He is less than a speck of dust compared to all that exists in our universe. In simple French "GMG"-  "Gornicht mit gornicht" - N-O-T-H-I-N-G!

But then he realizes that as a product and expression of the Divine light he IS something. In finding Hashem, he finds himself. That is the meaning of what we say when we awaken [which at the present moment I can't do because I can't go to sleep because I have to leave for the airport despite the fact that I am falling asleep all over myself:-)] "מודה אני לפניך". When we thank Hashem for the return of our Godly soul, we find our individual אני, the value of our existence. In the beautiful poetic language of Rav Kook ztz"l

האדם מוצא את עצמו בעצמו, ע"י אור החיים האלהיים המופיעים בקרבו, הממלאים אותו ברוח הטוב של רגש התודה של הכרת הטובה האלהית והבטאתה. כי במה נחשב האדם בחלישות כחו, באפסיותו וזעירותו, נגד כל היקום הגדול והעצום, וכחות הבריאה האדירים והנפלאים העוטרים אותו, מרוב שממון לעומתם אובד האדם את תוכן האני שלו. אמנם בהאיר עליו אותו האור של הכרת הטובה האלהית, וכל הסעיפים הקדושים כבירי עז הקודש שהיא מעירה בקרבו, אז בא האדם להכיר את גדולת ערכו, את אניותו והעדר בטולו בכללות ההויה, ומוצא את עצמו מאושר לומר בפה מלא : אני
Gveerosai [ladies] Vi-rabboisai [men] - is that idea anything less that awesome?!!:-)   

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hearing But Not Listening

I often talk [and write] about how people don't really listen. The words go into the ear and are heard but there is not true listening. They tried the following experiment in the Knesset. A journalist approached various Knesset members in the halls of the Knesset and asked the following question [I will translate into English]: "In your opinion, in light of the rising inflation and the fall of the Stock Market, will the wonshplat  begin to gintij on the bruplast?" Meaning, a nonsensical, unintelligible question. 

Remarkably, most of the people answered! The more veteran the Knesset member, the more confidence that he reflected in his answer. "Yes, I believe that......"

What does it matter what was asked, I want to say what I want to say.....:-)

[Heard from R' Yoni Lavie]

What makes me sad is that I know people who read this blog who don't know how to listen and this post won't change a thing.

Or maybe it will. A little.....

Mature Or Immature?

 In the hotel room I saw a notice next to a TV set informing us that this television set has programming that contains content for "mature" viewers. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

We recently explained on the blog that to be an adult, a gadol, means to be a giver. A child is primarily a taker while an adult is [or should be] primarily a giver. What is pornography [for which content intended for "mature" viewers is a euphemism. It wouldn't be respectable to write in an upper scale hotel that the TV has programs that contain "hard core pornography"]? Pornography is the act of TAKING! The man couldn't care less about the woman he is watching. She is just the object of his lust and he fulfills his base desires by watching her. Then he turns the channel and the "relationship" is over. There is no concern for another person, it is a completely self-centered exercise. All that matters is ME and my pleasure.

So the notice should say "Warning - This TV contains content that is fitting for completely immature self-centered, narcissictic, lustful, pleasure seekers. It will damage their souls almost irreparably. So why do we show such filth? Why do we drag peoples minds through the sewage filled gutter? Because it $ells!"

השם יצילנו!

Good Morning

It is 2am and I am still in the hotel lobby, blogging, learning and waiting for takeoff. A black man [people have told me that I am "black" so maybe he felt kinship] just walked by and offered me a friendly wave, a smile and a "good morning". I LOVE friendly people. I have an hour plus until I go home.....:-)

The Dual Meaning Of תודה

לזכות שמואל אלכסנדר בן נעכא גיטל ואברהם מרדכי בן נעכא גיטל שתמיד יהיו מלאי הודאה לקדוש ברוך הוא

Maran ztz"l in the Pachad Yitzchak [it's been at least two posts since I last quoted him so it's about time:-)] on Chanuka shows that we thank Hashem twice in Modim, we start  "מודים אנחנו לך שאתה" and then we say "נודה לך ונספר תהילתך על". Why the double thanks? He explains that הודאה sometimes means "thanks" and sometimes "admitting" [as in הודאת בעל דין]. Essentially, the two concepts are interrelated. When you thank someone you are admitting that you needed them [not an easy task - we often like to think that we are self sufficient]. When it means "admitting" it is connected to the next phrase with the letter "ש", meaning I admit "that". When it means "thanks" it is connected with the word "על" - for. I thank someone "for" what he did. So the first time we say מודה and continue שאתה it means that we admit to Hashem [that we are needy], the second time when we continue with על it means "thanks".

According to this, explains the Rinas Yitzchak, when we say מודה אני in the morning and continue שהחזרת with a ש, we are ADMITTING that He returned our neshamos and that we couldn't have done it ourselves. 

Rav Kook [whom I suspect Rav Hutner was basing himself on, as he considered himself a talmid and told somebody I know that he owes 50 percent of who he is to Rav Kook] in the very first shtickel in his siddur עולת ראיה explains מודה אני as referring to both. For those who want to see the original...

ראשית ההופעה של צהלת החיים מביאה עמה את השמחה העליונה בחדות הקודש, שהיא מתבטאת בכל מלא הודה בבטוי "ההודאה". הכרת התודה לאלהי עולם, אדון כל המעשים, המחיה חיים בטובו, היא אוצר הטוב, הכולל בקרבו את כל התוכן של מילוי החובה וכל התוכן של העידון הרוחני ממלוא תנובת האהבה בחוברת, והנשמה מתנהרת בה ומתמלאה אורה ושמחה. ההוראה הלשונית של חובת הודאה, בבטוי "מודה" ביחוד, משותפת היא להודאה מגזרת תודה, הבאה מתוך הכרת הטובה של המיטיב, ומגזרת התודות והודאה על האמת. והדברים מתאימים זה לזה. צהלת החיים הראשונה, הפוגשת את האדם בהקיצו משנתו ומוצא הוא לפניו עולם מלא וחדש בכל מלואו וטובו, היא מרימה את אור השכל הפנימי להכיר את אור החיים וזיוו ביסודו, ותחת ההשקפה העכורה החמרית, שהיא מוטבעת בטבע הבשר, מתעלה הרוח להשקפה אלהית צחה, לראות את נשמת אור חי העולמים ביפעת מפעלה. והאדם ברגש תודתו מודה הוא על האמת, ומקיים את עומק אמתתה של ההכרה הרוחנית, ומעיד על כל אור החיים והיש, שהוא נובע כלו ממעין הטוב ומקורו, ממקור חסד עליון, המשפיע שפעת חיים לכל המון עולמים וכל יצוריהם
That is SOMETHING!! No translation will do it justice. But in a word - We wake up and upon seeing the new, fresh, exciting world we are filled with gratitude to Hashem. Then we are inspired to admit the truth. EVERYTHING comes from the source of all good ברוך הוא וברוך שמו.        

Corn Bread - A Celtic Or A Food?

For posterity, I note that as I type this I am sitting at 12:30am in the lobby of a hotel in Michigan next to a wreath with a X-mas tree in the corner listening to Jingle Bells. [Tonight I heard that Yoshke was a Jewish boy who tried to go into his Father's business. כן יאבדו כל אויביך השם]. Soon I will be flying back to a Jewish State [New York] and will no longer be subjected to this bitter fate:-).

I received an email asking what the bracha is on corn bread. Now I must admit that I have never eaten corn bread before and the only corn bread I was familiar with played for the Boston Celtics and his last name was Maxwell. Upon further research I discovered that it is also a food item.

I searched around and found that there is no easy pat answer to this question. The sefer Shaarei Bracha [עמוד תקפט] rules as follows: If it is made of corn flour only the bracha is she-hakol and borei nefashos. If it is mixed with wheat which is added for taste, it would be hamotzi and bentching.

Others give it a ha-odoma [see the sefer Pninei Halacha page 100 in the name of the Mishna Brura רח לג. If you are wondering why I don't quote the Mishna Brura directly, see the Mishna Brura there and you will understand why:-)].

PS - If the corn bread is eaten with a "Bird" and you add Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish then you make a ברוך דיין אמת because your team is going dowwwwwnnnn. Tonight in Detroit I wanted to catch a Pistons-Bulls game to see Isaiah go up against Jordan. What a SHOCKER!! They retired???!!!! Two black men, one named after a prophet, another after a middle eastern country bordering the Holy Land and in some respects holy itself, trying hard to show the world that they can SHOOT THE PILL [to take a line out of Dickie Vitale's lexicon]. Not so holy. OK - no more basketball references, at least until next time:-).

A hearty appetite,