Thursday, January 31, 2013

The weekly parsha sheet that I spread around the neighborhood here. People are beginning to find out who the author is. As long as they don't know that I have a blog things are fine:).
The minhag of standing during the reading of the aseres hadibros, here.

ראשית חכמה יראת השם

I received this in my inbox. It says "Share this". So I will [slightly edited]... Thanks to my Uncle Fred for sending.

Last week the New York Times published an opinion piece that offered atheism's response to the evil/tragedy in which 20 children and six adults were murdered at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

What prompted Susan Jacoby to write her piece was a colleague telling her that atheism "has nothing to offer when people are suffering."

She wrote the piece, "The Blessings of Atheism" ("It is Here and It is Now!" screams the subhead) to prove her colleague wrong by offering a consoling atheist alternative to religion's consoling belief in an afterlife. Atheists cannot believe that there is any existence other than this life. But, Jacoby insists, atheists can still offer consolation to people who lose loved ones, such as the parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook.

It is meant as no disrespect to this well regarded writer that her piece provides one of the finest illustrations of the intellectual and emotional emptiness at the heart of atheism. Jacoby's piece actually confirms her colleague's assessment.

Jacoby offers a quote from Robert Green Ingersoll, who died in 1899. He "was one of the most famous orators of his generation, [and] personified this combination of passion and rationality. Called 'The Great Agnostic '... he also frequently delivered secular eulogies at funerals and offered consolation that he clearly considered an important part of his mission. In 1882, at the graveside of a friend's child, he declared: "They who stand with breaking hearts around this little grave, need have no fear. The larger and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest ... The dead do not suffer"(ellipsis in original).

I read this quote at least a half dozen times, convinced that I had somehow missed its consoling message. But, alas, there was no consoling message.

"The dead do not suffer" is atheism's consolation to the parents of murdered children? This sentiment can provide some consolation -- though still nothing comparable to the affirmation of an afterlife -- to those who lose a loved one who had been suffering from a debilitating disease. But it not only offers the parents of Sandy Hook no consolation, it actually (unintentionally) insults them: Were these children suffering before their lives were taken? Would they have suffered if they had lived on? Moreover, it is the parents who are suffering, so the fact that their child isn't suffering while decomposing in the grave is of no relevance. And, most germane to our subject, this atheist message offers no consolation at all when compared to the religious message that we humans are not just matter but possess eternal souls.

 I am intellectually convinced that only an Intelligence (i.e., God) could have created intelligence. But even atheists -- indeed, especially atheists, since they claim that, unlike believers, they are guided solely by reason and intellect -- have to be intellectually honest. They would have to acknowledge that, in terms of consolation, there is no comparison between "The dead do not suffer" and "Your child lives on, and you will be reunited with her."

What we have here is an intellectual unwillingness or a psychological inability on the part of Susan Jacoby and just about all atheist activists (including the New York Times, which featured, not just published, her column) to confront the consequences of their atheism.
If they did, they would have to say something like this to the parents of the murdered children of Sandy Hook:

"As atheists, we truly feel awful for you. And we promise to work for more gun control. But the truth is we don't have a single consoling thing to say to you because we atheists recognize that the human being is nothing more than matter, no different from all other matter in the universe except for having self-consciousness. Therefore, when we die, that's it. Moreover, within a tiny speck of time in terms of the universe's history, nearly every one of us, including your child, will be completely forgotten, as if we never even existed. Life is a random crapshoot. Our birth and existence are flukes. And you will never see your child again."

An atheist with the courage of her convictions would have written that. But the New York Times would not have published it.

All this column did for me was reconfirm this insight of the Bible: "Wisdom begins with reverence for God."

No God, no wisdom (witness your local university). And certainly no consolation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Unforgivable

Sent by my beloved friend R' Shmuel Simcha Kollander
I was in the midst of a private and uninterruptable meeting.
I had planned this appointment for a long time and was not about to be disturbed.
It was a meeting with a genuine ‘Shaker and Mover’; a force who had the power to affect my destiny.
I had a text prepared to keep me focused and my mind was intent on making the most of the brief six to seven minutes allotted to the meeting.
Apparently word must have leaked about my meeting as I was asked by others if I could bring up at the meeting some of their needs as well.
Time was of the essence and I had to stay at task.
Finally, the meeting began; I lowered my head, took a deep breath and began ‘my pitch’.
I had the benefit of utilizing the best authored ‘pitches’ known to man.
My father and grandfather had used the same text and had always found it effective.
Although I was somewhat nervous I was simultaneously confident.
The words began to flow from my mouth.
I felt a connection with my superior in a meaningful way.
I could tell that we were bonding and that He was listening.
I continued, as I recited the words slowly and with heartfelt meaning, I knew He was there; I knew he was listening to each and every word.
I continued to implore and plead; I began to mention the needs of those who had entrusted with me their deepest and darkest secrets to share with Him.
Suddenly he came.
He sounded like an invader from a foreign world; an uninvited interloper; an alien enemy.
He would not stop his intrusion until he succeeded in destroying the sanctity of my meeting.
He would not be silenced nor even quieted; he just continued his incessant prattle until I was totally debilitated and destroyed.
And then, after I was crushed and humiliated, he left.
However, in his wake he left me trembling and pained; disoriented and lost.
I was not his only victim.
He succeeded in disrupting the entire assembly.
I noticed men and women, young boys and girls who were now wondering helplessly and hopelessly in the meeting chambers.
Their concentration and chain of thought had been disconnected through his hideous and violating behavior.
Grown men were teary eyed and women cried openly as they realized their one and only opportunity to present their case had been destroyed and ruined.
They came to plead and to be heard by He who can hear and help; however, they left feeling angry and cheated by he who cares for no one.
His attacks are vicious and cowardly; indeed, he chooses his time to attack when all are in the midst of the meeting; at the time when no one can even respond to him.
My meeting was devastated.
My attempts at petitioning were stymied.
I stood silently and helplessly and could just wonder what could have been and wasn’t.
How many people could have been helped and will now be without anyone to plead their case?
How many hearts will remain broken?
How many children will go to be hungry?
And all of this was because this one insidious and perfidious ravager of prayer had once again infiltrated the Holy of Holies and profaned that which is sacred and pure.
Why do I share with you my pain and woes?
Why do I unburden myself to you?
Because you and only you can help me!
Yes, - you can help alleviate my pain and helplessness.
What, you may ask, can little ole’ you do?
What action can you take which will restore my sanity and peace of mind?
What small task can you perform to reclaim sanctity where profanity now reigns?
Ron Yitzchok Eisenman
Congregation Ahavas Israel
Passaic, NJ

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"C. S. Lewis pointed out that some people are angry with God for His not existing, and others for His existing but for failing to do as mortals would have Him do. Instead of such childishness, we are urged to know God and to learn of His attributes."

New Article

At the risk of seeming arrogant - I will suggest that this is HUGE.

I thank the person whose email request triggered the post.

Caspar And I

A friend asked me to ghost-write the hakdama to a sefer he is about to publish. I thought that it was a great idea. A ghost takes up no space and is invisible which is exactly what I want to be. The sefarim often talk about the value of ביטול היש - nullifying your "presence" and arrogance. This was my way of being מבטל my יש. Alas, I wrote it and he told me that it was good but too chassidish for his litvishe audience so he won't use it.

I took that as a compliment...:)

Here is an edited version.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Minchas Yitzchok: Can You Pledge Money at A Public Tzedoka Appeal and Not Give All Of It?
When making an appeal for a Tzedoka cause in Shul, can the gabbai or anyone else pledge more than he plans to give in order to encourage others to give a higher amount? The justification is, that it is not a real pledge since he never planned on honoring it.

The Minchas Yitzchok (3:97) says definitely not. He quotes a gemara (Succah 29a) that says that peoples' money is taken away by the government because of 4 aveiros. One of them being, promising money for tzedoka and not giving it. The Maharsha explains this to mean exactly our scenario, where gabbaim or other leaders pledge more than they plan on giving in order to raise the bar for the others. Therefore says the Minchas Yitzchok since you see that the gemara considers this a serious aveira with severe consequences it should not be done.
He brings a story from the Yerushalmi where 300 Nezirim came to Shimon Ben Shetach looking for a way out because they could not afford the cost of the required Korbonos (Olah, Chatas, and Shelamim for each Nazir at the end of his nezirus). He was able to find a way out of the Nezirus for 150 of them. The other 150 were stuck. His brother in law Yannai HaMelech came by and Shimon told him that there are 300 Nezirim who need to bring 900 Korbonos. He suggested they split the tab and each provide 450 korbonos for the nezirim. When Yannai heard that he was fooled since there were only 150 nezirim remaining, Shimon ran away. When Yannai's men caught him and brought him before Yannai, Yannai asked him why he lied. Shimon answered that in fact he told the truth. Yannai would provide half with animals to fulfill their obligation while Shimon provided a solution for the other half with his Torah knowledge.
The Minchas Yitzchok suggests that from here we learn that without any alibi it would have been assur for Shimon to flat out lie in order to get Yannai to cover the whole cost. Although he says, this may not be good proof since he only suggested his alibi to pacify Yannai.

[From with permission]
An email sent by my beloved friend R' Zevi Reinitz and printed with permission:

I know how much you love a great story... so I thought I would share a brief one about Rabbi Leo Goldman z"l, an old European Rav I knew from Detroit who passed away a couple of weeks ago.
Rabbi Goldman was a neighbor of ours in Detroit and for as long as we lived in Detroit, we davened virtually every leil Shabbos and Shabbos afternoon in the minyan that he maintained in his modest home.

Rabbi Goldman was one of the warmest, kindest individuals I have ever met. Growing up, it was hard not to notice the kindness and warmth he showed everyone, particularly children. Even as a young boy, he showed me personally an unusual level of consideration, respect and kindness. He loved when we were involved in the minyan and it was in his shteibel that I had my first taste of being a shaliach tzibbur - often serving as chazzan for Kabbalos Shabbos and Mincha/Ma'ariv. He was always quick with a smile, pat on the cheek and a kind word of encouragement.

A few years ago, I read the following story about Rabbi Goldman from which I saw that I was not the first young Jewish child to be inspired by his warmth:

On Sept. 30, 1945, inside the near-ruin that once was the Great Shul of Vilna, Lithuania, Rabbi Goldman, then a Russian army officer in his 20s, approached a father holding his 5-year-old son.
It was Simchat Torah and, in a city that once called itself home to 100,000 Jews, of which 3,000 survived, the shul has been stripped of almost everything, including the Torahs.
Rabbi Goldman asked if the boy were Jewish, then said, “During the war, I traveled many kilometers as a soldier, and I did not see many Jewish children alive. May I take him as my Sefer Torah?”
In place of dancing while holding the Torah, the soldier danced while hoisting the boy who, to everyone in the sanctuary, represented the rebirth of the Jewish people.
Although they parted ways after that day, the experience had a huge impact on both their lives. Rabbi Goldman would devote his life to teaching and comforting the Jewish people. And the boy, who had been hidden by a Polish nanny and raised Catholic until the end of the war, began his return to Yiddishkeit that day. Today, he is well-known as Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League in New York City, who serves as a protector of the Jewish people and fighter against bigotry.
Although he never heard what happened to the boy, Rabbi Goldman’s memory of the story became the subject of a song, “The Man From Vilna,” which was written in 2004 after he met a Toronto songwriter on an airplane. The song turned out to be pivotal in reuniting the two survivors.
In 2007, Foxman shared his story with a group of Israeli soldiers and Birthright Israel participants at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel. Someone asked him if the soldier were still alive.
A woman who worked at Yad Vashem said she would do some research and find out. She found a story about the song in a Chabad-Lubavitch newspaper. Connections were made and, in January 2010, Foxman met Rabbi Goldman’s daughter Vivian Aronson in Indianapolis.
When she showed him a 1945 photo of her father as a Russian soldier, Foxman was overwhelmed.
On April 8, 2010, Foxman walked into Rabbi Goldman’s Oak Park home. The little boy and the Jewish soldier would be able to hold each other again.

(This is an excerpt from a longer article about Rabbi Goldman here:

 The song "The Man From Vilna" was written by Abie Rottenberg and can be heard here:
MY NOTE: All men should not look at the screen from about the 44 second until the 50 second mark as there is an non-appropriately clad woman who appears on the screen somewhere during that time and also at towards the very end. A very moving video. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Poverty, I realized, wasn't only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people that could help you make more of yourself.
Keith Ferrazzi
Source: Never Eat Alone

Shabbos 115b

Back to Daf Yomi....

The only difference between the [other] Books and Megillah is that the Books can be written in any language, whereas a Megillah must be written in Assyrian, on a Scroll, and in ink.

Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank ]Har Tzvi 21] cites the Ramban who asks from this gemara on the Rambam who holds that Megillah doesn't require עיבוד לשמה. If so why doesn't the gemara list this as a distinction and say that all Sefarim require עיבוד לשמה while Megillah does not. [If you don't know what עיבוד לשמה means you probably don't learn daf yomi:)].   


A greater poverty than that caused by lack of money is the poverty of unawareness. Men and women go about the world unaware of the beauty, the goodness, the glories in it. Their souls are poor. It is better to have a poor pocketbook than to suffer from a poor soul.

Partners In Evil

There are some well meaning people in this world who are sorely misguided. That is one of the many reasons that one needs a Rebbi [and a wife - preferably not the same person:)]. A person can have the best intentions but make fatal errors.

Example: There is a politician who hates religion and is quite antipathetic to religious people as well. His goal is to battle the present lifestyle of the Israeli population of Bnei Torah. He is [according to press reports] an atheist who was married in a civil ceremony in Cyprus. He doesn't bother me so much. He is a person who was raised by a notorious Torah-Hater [also a politician] so we can expect that he will follow in his father's footsteps.

My topic are two of his helpers who are both knesset members. One studied in a very good yeshiva here and also in a top yeshiva in the US [he is a friend of a friend]. He wears a black velvet kippah and has a beard. And semicha. Yet he is helping this enemy of Judaism. The other is a Rosh Yeshiva of an Israeli high-school. This politician spoke there and proclaimed that Jesus is no less an important part of Jewish history than Moshe Rabbein and Rebbe Akiva עפ"ל. This Rosh Yeshiva sat there and said nothing [he is number 2 in the party].

What about the mishna that says אל תתחבר לרשע not to connect to a rasha?

What about being פורש מן הציבור when nobody who has a shred of yiras shomayim voted for this man? The Rambam says that one who is פורש מן הציבור, who separates himself from the larger community, even if he keeps mitzvos and says tikkun chatzos every night and wears tcheles and Rabbeinu Tam tfillin and learns daf yomi in both Bavli and Yerushalmi has NO CHELEK IN OLAM HABA.


What about all of the Rabbanim in all segments of the religious community who are against this person? Are they all wrong and only these two gentleman know what is right? Rav Chaim Knievsky and Rav Shteinman and Rav Shmuel Auerbach and every Rosh Yeshiva and Rebbi in any yeshiva both Charedi and Dati-Leumi are wrong and only there two guys are aligned with the ratzon Hashem? Do they really think that?

On some level - probably.

The gemara tells about a Tzduki who was DREAMING of finally entering the holy of holies when the ktores is already lit and not as the Prushim [our Sages] understood, that we light it only after entering the holy of holies. He was told to be careful but he said "How can I. I finally get to fulfill the true will of Hashem." They found him soon afterwards in the garbage can with a worm coming out of his nose [which was the first organ to enter the Sanctuary]. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz [Sichos Mussar] uses this gemara to illustrate the danger of making a mistake, even when one means well.

If these fellows would have a Rebbi and be willing to defer to him then they wouldn't make this egregious error.

Another example: Neturei Karta. They meet with and show public support for people who want to annihilate the Jewish people. Modern day Hamans. Who is the Rav they follow? Themselves. MAYBE their intentions are sincere [just as MAYBE the two aforementioned characters are sincere] but I have no doubt that they are doing an aveira worse than any other. Helping people who aspire to be Hitler. Hashem Yerachem.

The lesson: We can ALL make mistakes. Even this writer. I do all the time. So when I have a critical decision to make in life I go to my Rebbi to make sure that I am not fooling myself in my state of powerful subjectivity. I think it is a good idea.

So did Chazal.

עשה לך רב.

Been meaning to get this of my chest. Feel better already:).
"The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be polished, or the luster of it will never appear."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sweet Or Bitter

A good yid asked me for a dvar torah for shabbos. I figured that I might as well spread the wealth:

The Jews leave Egypt and they are THOISTY! They arrive in a place called Marah but they can't drink the water there כי מרים הם - Because the [water] was bitter. [Maybe at the seder we should have bitter water in addition to the bitter herbs. I have a good friend named Herb and he is not bitter at all].
But wait. The sentence doesn't EXPLICITY say that the WATER was bitter. It says that "they" were bitter. Maybe, suggested the great Polish Sage known as the Kotzker, it wasn't the water that was bitter but the JEWS. When the Jews were bitter they couldn't drink the water because it tasted bitter. When a person is bitter even sweet things seem bitter.
If you have a positive attitude about life you will see everything positively. Others who have a negative attitude see everything negatively. We determine in advance what our experiences will be [to a certain extent]. Let us all decide to put on rose colored glasses and view the world positively. It feels GREATTTTT:).
Sabbatical Salutations SWEETEST friends.

New Post

Good advice on keeping your marriage healthy, here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

If You Can't Make It Here For Shabbos

I print a parsha sheet each week here in the neighborhood BS"D. This is Beshalach and Bo.

במוצאי יום מנוחה

I thank Akiva Maretsky for sending me this.
Perfect if you are feeling stressed out. Or even if you aren't...:)


I received an outpouring of emails after yesterdays post. It was a clear mass display of ואהבת לרעך כמוך. The central message was "There is hope. Don't give up".
יש תקוה וכו' יש אמונה חזקה מכל הפחד לא ניפול לא נרעד כי יש לנו השם אחד
There is hope, there is faith stronger than all fear, we will not fall or shake because we have ONE HASHEM!!!!

So beloved friends world over [OK - mostly in the NY NJ area] I present you with this.

ערבים כל ישראל זה לזה - Jews are all SWEET [ערבים] to each other.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Open Letter - The Demise Of Nefesh Yochanan

This was sent to all of those people on my email list:

Shalommmm sweet friends!!
For a long, long time I had a dream of opening up a yeshiva built on the principles of Rav Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik, The Baal Shem Tov, Rav Yisrael Salanter, Rav Kook and others, thereby creating a complete Torah personality. Boys who have refined character, are deeply spiritual, learn gemara in the sweetest, deepest way and always with simcha. I thought that it was a great concept that would attract the attention of students, their teachers and big donors alike. I figured that I know so many people of means and they would get excited about the project and the money would flow in. So this summer I tried to finally make it happen with the goal of opening next fall. I brought two great Rabbeim on board, Rav Ari Klapper and Rav Simcha Sussman, an executive director, Rabbi Yehoshua Looks, and we were ready to go. We invested a tremendous amount of time and resources in order to make the project successful. I thought "Yeshivat Nefesh Yochanan is going to FLY!".
I was wrong.... I learned that new yeshivos are not wanted. I was told again and again by high schools to come back after we establish ourselves. But in order to establish ourselves we needed students and our concept was great. But alas, it wasn't happening. It also required a tremendous amount of funding and I was collecting only a minute fraction of what was needed. אם אין קמח - If there is no flour there is no Torah. I had almost no flour. I understand the schools that didn't send. They wanted the security of an established product. I also understand the donors - times are rough and there are already so many institutions on the map that need funds that to help my fledgling institution was a burden people didn't think they could handle. Hence, the paucity of donations [maybe the fact that I use such un-yeshvish words as "paucity" made me unfit to be Rosh Yeshiva:)]. But it is still sad for me. There is so much that I [and my partners] wanted to give to the students who would have come. But Hashem Yisborach decided otherwise and CERTAINLY I can say גם זו לטובה.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank EVERYBODY who helped in any way. At the risk of forgetting some people I will name names. A thank you to Rav Ari, Rav Simcha and Rav Yehoshua for everything. To R' Aharon Yisrael Feit for helping in numerous ways including picking me up at the airport only hours before Sandy arrived. He is a quiet and unassuming person who is on my list of "top tzadikkim of the generation who are not well known". To R' Shmuel Binyamin Stein who has been a dedicated friend from the start and helped my kollel get off the ground in many ways. To R' Yisrael Tzadok Forgash who was my chavrusa in Hakotel over 20 years ago and didn't let the many years that passed diminish our friendship. A true Rodeph Tzedaka vi-chesed. To R' David Mottehedeh who graciously hosted me in his beautiful home and helped me in ways that I can't publicize. To R' Moshe Shimon Frohlich who after one Shabbos we spent together became a lifelong close friend. He together with Rebbe David keep taking me to "The Wolf and The Lamb" thereby ensuring that I don't become hungry.... or a vegetarian. To R' Daniel Kratka who met me by chance at the kosher supermarket and immediately dedicated himself to helping me in any way - despite the fact that we had been out of touch for about a decade and a half. He is someone special and I love him very much. To R' Zevi Blumenfrucht who has not only been helpful practically but also makes me feel like I am doing him a favor when he does for me. A special person who has tremendous Ahavas Torah. To R' Ephraim Gervis who is a true model of an individual whose entire thrust is to be a tzaddik and to get close to other tzadikkim. To HaRav Dovid Kram Shlita who was the one and only high school Rebbe who actively recruited on my behalf. He is always ready and able to do anything on my behalf despite his busy schedule. To R' Simcha Gissinger who is the head of the board of directors of the kollel and a person who is a הצנע לכת always modest but a tremendous baal chessed. To R' Shalom Yitzchak Chaim Dworkin who is a deep baal machshava, oved Hashem and close friend. R' Ariel Jacob - a person who is on my "my brother" list. A lamed vavnik as well. To Rav Gil Simchi - a Yemenite man of holiness and gentleness. To Rav Rami Strosberg, a good friend and dedicated mechanech. To Dr. Ashi Weisstuch - a man dedicated to helping his patients and Klal Yisrael. To HaRav Baruch Simon - a Rosh Yeshiva who LOVES Torah and will do anything for a talmid or friend. To R' Moshe Gavriel Bernstein who is a dedicated and beloved friend and ben aliya. To R' Shmuel Tzvi Rauch who has proven himself on innumerable occasions to be someone whom I can count on for anything. He is emotionally one of the most solid people I know and this solidity expresses itself in our ongoing friendship which is not impeded by his busy schedule and the physical distance between us. I feel privileged to know him. To R' Yaakov Dov Slomnicki who is a person that never stops working to grow in middos and learning and avodas Hashem. When I think of him, I know that he will always be there for me as he has in the past. To his father-in-law R' Barry Weiss who sponsored a pizza party for potential students and LOVES to give. If you would perform open heart surgery on him you wouldn't find mere flesh. You would find gold. To Rav Yehoshua Weinberg - a deep man of faith and sincerity. He is there for me even at those rare times that nobody else can be. To R' Baruch Bareli who has done so much for me. To my friend HaRav Dovid Cohen who allowed me to speak in his shul. To Rav Shaul Robinson who allowed me to speak [and daven] in his shul. To the people at the West Side Institutional who gave me the pulpit one memorable Shabbos. To R' Chaim Yehoshua Austein who would give me the world if he could. He is a true Ben Torah and a model for me. To R' Elchanan Salig, a beloved man of good deeds and kindness. "Elchanan" means "gift from God". He is. To R' Daniel Simcha Borenstein who gives a new, improved meaning to the concept of "sweet and sincere". To R' Rafi Goodman who is wise and mature well beyond his years and makes my stays in New York so special and enjoyable. To R' Daniel Zweigbaum who has been such a caring friend and inspires me with his yiras shomayim. To R' Eytan Feldman who always graciously opens up his home and heart for me. Once a chavrusa - always a chaver. R' Ariel Edelstein, a tremendous gaon and marbitz Torah who found time to help me despite his busy schedule trying to make a living and helping Klal Yisrael. R' Yirmiyahu Ginsburg who may or may not have a chavrusa with Eliyahu Hanavi. The Jaspan brothers R' Avraham Yitzchak and R' Yosef Ezra who are not only brothers to each other but of mine as well. Enough said. To R' Moshe Naftali Richman who gives even when I say "enough already". It always flows from a G-dly, magnanimous spirit. R' Shmuel Simcha Kollander whom I value as a close, caring friend forever. R' Yehuda Yaakov Spindler who is like a brother to me. At his recent wedding I got "annoyed" at him because he made me cry. I cried because I love him so much and he was leaving me for Rachel.... I think all would agree he did great - and so did Rachel. To R' Jonny [Moshe Yehuda] Hanus whom I love very much and I am not sure why..... It probably has something to do with his kind heart, sincerity, sense of humor, sweet disposition and Emunah in "KBH" [as he calls Him]. R' Shmulie Brown - an איש כלבבי who is dedicated to proliferating the same ideals as I am. HaRav Binyamin Staiman - I can't say enough about him - so I won't try. Such עדינות הנפש and a close friend for over 15 years. Rav Meir Goodman - an beloved friend who is bubbling with enthusiasm for everything good. To my childhood friend R' Shmuel Wexler who is a tzaddik and if there is a single women in her thirties reading this I can guarantee you that he will make you happy forever. He is my Queens address. To R' Chaim Schreck, an emes'e ben Torah and trusted friend. To R' Yaakov Schulder who is a bastion of emunah and someone who gives me the kavod of visiting every time I come to the States. To R' Daniel Eliyahu Ross who is a close friend and very sincere Jew. Both R' Yaakov and R' Daniel heroically made it through the hardest of times and came out victorious. They are a never ending source of inspiration. To Rav Dori Binyamin Levin, a trusted friend and confidante who is dedicating his life to Klal Yisrael. To R' Chaim Wolfish who is a very special ben torah and ben aliyah. And friend. To R' Eliezer Yehuda Pollack who is always striving upwards. His נעימות is unique. I hope to emulate him. To R' Ari Lichtman - a future gadol bi-yisrael. Rav Binyamin Leibowitz - how can I ever repay you for all your kindeness. You are about the most likable person on earth. To Rav Tzvi Moshe Kantor - remember the name, he will be big. R' Chemi Jacob - a man of sincerity and kindness to all. Rav Yaakov Cohen - a tremendous ben aliyah and inspiration. HaRav Yoel Rackovsky - a Rebbi and extremely close confidante. He really understands me and so many others. R' Nachi Freidman - a amn filled with a holy spirit, forever striving upwards. Hachosson R' Mordechai Daniels - always seeking the truth in a gentle, sincere and loving way. R' Yisrael Yaakov Berman - a ben aliya I am honored to know. He and his Rebbetzin will change the world. R' Yoni Pollack - thanks for everything. You are really special. To R' Shimshon Yitzchak Garber - a man who does everything he can to help. He also hasn't missed a minyan since his bar mitzva many many moons ago. The Goldstoff brothers R' Yoav and R' Shlomo Aryeh - always there with a smile and good word. To R' Jordan Barth, one of my best friends ever and forever. To a good friend who forbade me from ever mentioning his name. I love every person I mentioned and feel honored to know them. May Hashem bless you all with only good things. And of course to the many, many other people who have helped me in many ways. To all the talmidim at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan who display abiding friendship. To Jay Leno for hosting me on the Tonight Show [I made that up:)]. To Yaakov Shwekey for allowing me to fill in for him when he couldn't make it to one of his concerts [ditto]. Thank you all. [I didn't really how indebted I am to so many people until I complied this partial list. Oh boy...]
OF COURSE to all of the wives of my aforementioned friends. Without a good wife - you don't have a good life. We all know that the facilitators of everything we are able to do are our wives. There are also many females who are deserving of my specific thanks. You know who you are and more importantly - Hashem does. May Hashem bless you to be like Sara, Rivka, Rochel and Leah and fulfill all the wishes of your heart li-tova. Particularly to D.G.R. who built the yeshiva website free of charge and is always on call to help - whether asked or not.
Last but not least - my parents for EVERYTHING. There are no words. My brothers R' Yosef Tzvi and R' Dovid Avraham who are the two people I know I can trust more than anybody in the world. To my Uncle Fred who is a model of someone who is dedicated to learning Torah and doing for Klal Yisrael in countless ways.
And to my wife and children who willingly suffer my long absences in order to allow me to spread the light.
To the Tolna Rebbe Shlita who has done more for me and my family members than anyone else on earth. What I personally know of his deeds make him not just the biggest tzaddik of this generation but one of the biggest tzaddikim ever to live. Maybe one day I will tell....:)
And acharon acharon chaviv - Hakadosh Baruch Hu. .אילו פינו מלא שירה כים ולשוננו רינה כהמון גליו ושפתותינו שבח כמרחבי רקיע - אין אנחנו מספיקין להודות לך
He is the BEST!!!
Future plans: I will not let this setback cause me despair G-d forbid. I still have plans for the future of which you will be informed in a future email. LI-HAGDIL TORAH ULI-HAADIRA!!!!!:)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Post

Read about my interest in cooking, here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Post

A good reason to stay married - here.

Calling A Spade A Spade

In the summer of 1980 Rav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht ztz"l came to the Lubavitcher Rebbe ztz"l and told him that he is supporting his son in the Ponovitch kollel and asked if he should encourage him to find a job teaching. The Rebbe told him that it is a zchus to support him and that he should remain in Kollel and that Torah should never be used as a "spade to dig with" i.e. a means of earning a living. [Torah should be studied for Torah's sake].

Many parents encourage their children to get smicha because this will enable them to get a job and earn money. So essentially. smicha is a 'Torah degree' just like an accounting or business degree. May G-d save us from such an attitude. Torah is holy and is not a menas to do anything other that give Hashem nachas ruach [כביכול]. Even when one does take a position that will earn him a salary, the intention should be to spread Torah and the salary only incidental in order to avoid starving to death.

He also told the Rebbe that Kerem B'yavneh started a program where the boys just learn and don't serve in the army but some of the balabatim aren't happy about it. The Rebbe told him that their displeasure is a good sign and quoted a story from Chazal to prove it.

I had a lot of pleasure watching this video. I hope the link works.

Yechi yechi:).
I thank those who read the post and davened. May Hashem fulfill all of the wishes of your heart.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In A Rush

Sometimes, the most subtle movements, facial expression, body language, terminology etc. can be the difference between making someone feel good or the opposite. Examples are INFINITE.

Just one [it's almost 2am:)]: People are often in a rush. Therefore, when someone wants to talk, the hurried people will make the person feel very unwanted. "I can't talk. I gotta run". What a WONDERFUL feeling:):).

I have been privigeled to know two of the most sought after and busy people on G-d's green earth. The Tolna Rebbe Shlita and Rav Yaakov Katz Shlita. I have NEVER met two people who were so adept at giving me the feeling that they have ALL the time in the world and that ALL they want to do is talk to me. Complete attention with a calming and peaceful demeanor. A mechaye. I have heard that other tzadikim [such as the Lubavitcher Rebbe] had/ have this quality as well.

Or take Rav Genechovski as a f'rinstence. Someone once wanted to speak with him and he agreed but added "Daven for me that I get back to Bnei Brak in time for hadlakos neiros chanukah." The person understood that the Rav has to go. He was just TOO SENSITIVE to say "I can't talk now. I am in a huge rush" so he hinted instead.

Please sweet friends, pay careful attention how you relate to others. And the rule of rules: Try to make sure that every interaction you have leaves the other person feeling just a little bit happier. It could be with a smile or a compliment or just listening to him or her speak. When you talk to a yeshiva bochur, ask him to share something he learned. When you meet a six year old, ask him the name of his friends or teachers and what he wants to be when he grows up. If he says "Policeman" don't try to dissuade him....:). If you are talking to an old [or young] Bubbe, ask her about her grandchildren. It is EASY to make someone feel good. It is also easy to make someone feel badly. The difference is a hairsbreadth כחוט השערה.

If I don't end this post soon, I am not going to get ANY sleep:):).

Tell It Straight

In the last few months I learned something very fascinating. I have had to ask numerous people for chesed in helping me with certain things and almost always received a positive response. But in most instances they didn't follow through. Then I realized what was going on - it's not polite to say "no". So people say "yes" and then do nothing. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't experienced it. This bland keyboard is not sufficient in helping me express my incredulity!

פלאי פלאי פלאות!!!

Tonight I met an acquaintance who I was told could help me with something. I asked him and he said straight out "I can't help you". I LIKED that.

We have a word for it in English.


My last name means "honest man" so I hope that I too uphold this sacrosanct value. Sacrosanct. Great SAT word. If you email me I will tell you my score on the SATS.

PS - Tomorrow may be a very critical day for me. Please drop a line to heaven for Elchanan ben Henna Miraim and may the blessing of Chazal be fulfilled and your own tfilos will be answered first.

PPS - The surgery for Shalva bas Avigail Raizel went well B"H. Thanks for davening.

Love always,


Friday, January 18, 2013

שלווה בת אביגיל רייזל

Shalva bas Avigayil Raizel
Thank you

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shiur To Remember

A sicha on Bo from my previous life may it rest in peace [אבדל לחיים טובים וארוכים]
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, None but ourselves can free our minds.
Bob Marley
Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal - that there is no human relation between master and slave.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Take Risks

"A ship in harbor is safe.
But that is not what ships are built for."

Please think of how this applies to your life:).

Arabs Against Arabs

Yoni Lavie from Shabbat Bi-Shabbato Parshat Bo

No doubt about it, we have become accustomed to the idea. "A hundred and forty two people were killed in Syria yesterday, including thirty-five children... Scud missiles were fired from Damascus towards areas that are under the control of the rebels. At least ninety people were killed... There was heavy bombing of the city of Homs. Dozens of people were badly hurt..." When such reports come day after day for months at a time, it almost begins to sound to our ears more like "the weather tomorrow will be partly cloudy, with clouds high in the sky" than a report about cruel murder of citizens of a neighboring country. However, when this happens in an enemy country with which we have a long history of bloody battles, many of our people feel that it involves them. This can range from a feeling of joy ("very good – let them be busy with their own problems and leave us alone") or cynicism ("let us wish both sides great success") to anger about the apathy of the world and sorrow about the great loss of life. What should a Jew of faith feel when he or she hears about such events day after day for an entire year? How should we relate to this when it happens to one of the worst enemies of our own country?
Hypocrisy of the World
Before anything else, it is hard to refrain from mentioning the insolence of the rest of the world, which is very hard to understand. Every theoretical building permit on a rocky hill and every slight injury of Palestinians rioting in a demonstration trigger harsh criticism and threats out of all proportion, but mass butchering of women and children for months is greeted with a weak and stammering response. The great countries of China and Russia cast veto after veto at the United Nations Security Council at every attempt to do something against the Syrian regime, while with their other hand they sign new contracts with the tyrant in Damascus, selling him weapons and oil. The hypocrisy and the distortion of morality cry out to the heavens. How do you dare to come at us with ethical demands? How do you dare to try and teach the State of Israel how to behave morally, when it makes superhuman efforts not to harm anybody who is not directly connected with terrorism?
The Wolf and the Sheep
Moshe Dayan, the legendary Chief of Staff and Defense Minister, once said: "In the future, when the verse 'a wolf will dwell with a sheep' will be fulfilled, we will be better off if we are the wolf..." When you see how the Arabs relate to their brothers, how they butcher their own people without any mercy, you cannot avoid a harsh thought: If they ever get a chance, what will they do to us? Have no illusions about what is going on. The rebels in Syria are not better or more moral than their President. The simple truth is that they have fewer resources available in order to butcher and be cruel to their enemy. If they had an opportunity, what we have seen until now would be "small change" as compared to the scenes we might see in the future. A well-known President of a Middle Eastern country who received a Nobel Prize for Peace once said, "the number of treaties that were broken by the Arabs is no less than the number of treaties that they signed." The only democracy in the Middle East should not forget this statement when it comes to signing a peace treaty full of clauses of total surrender to a dictatorial regime. For us our word is binding, and a treaty is something that must be observed. For them, a peace treaty is merely an opportunity to improve their status and a way to start the next war from a better position.
World Remorse
We have no intention of relating to these acts of killing, violence, and cruelty with apathy, and certainly not with cynicism. The phrase, "to mend the world in the Kingdom of Shadai" is not an invention of Jewish leaders. It is a prayer that every Jew recites three times every day, just a short time before he closes the Siddur and goes to work. This is our aspiration and our vision, and everything we do at any moment of our lives is nothing more than a part of this great dream.
Rabbi Menasheh from Ilia, a disciple of the GRA, would often say:
"As long as there remains even one worm caught in a crevice in a stone, under stress and praying to be allowed to continue on its way, it is impossible for anybody to live in peace and to view everything as good."
That is the way a true Jew feels when he walks on the path of the Holy One, Blessed be He, who is good for everything and who has pity on all of His works. He knows how to fight evil when it is necessary, but he also knows how to feel sorrow and pain about any loss of human life. He is not swayed by the hypocrisy of the world, and he never loses sight of his strong moral backbone. He does not allow apathy and repetitious behavior to take control of him, and he continues to pray for a world that is pure, mended, and moral – a world which will be linked to the Holy Name of G-d.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


So much to say but been busy with "things". Hence the dearth of blogs. It's the yahrtzeit of the Sfas Emes, Baba Sali and Rav Dessler so please learn their Torah or read stories about them.

Or at least have a l'chaim [even on juice is fine] and make a bracha in their zchus.

זכות הצדיקים יעזור ויגן ויושיע 

Love always,


New Shiur On Bo

Not normal Torah on Parshas Bo from the Holy One, here.

Monday, January 14, 2013


"Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other. It is the place of confidence​. It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defen​se, and where we pour out the unreserved communicat​ions of full and confiding hearts. It is the spot where expression​s of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardnes​s and without any dread of ridicule."

-Frederick W. Robertson

[Thanks to D.R. for sharing]


Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to.” -Mitch Albom
[Sent by a sweet friend whom I thank]

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Good Man!

Ribbono Shel Olam!!! How do I get this guy on my team??????????


Make A Cheshbon Hanefesh

Second Shovevim shiur here from the Kuntres עבודת ה' בימי השובבים. I thank those who joined me for the first.

The Most Important Knowledge

במה ששלימות האדם בידיעת ובהשגת
הנמצאים, היה יותר ראשונה לדעת ולהשיג מהות עצמו
The Maharal opens up his sefer Beer HaGolah with a critical insight. It is VERY important to understand the world around us. To understand the world is to understand it's Maker. But far more important is knowing and understanding yourself. He notes that only the very wise understand themselves. See also the Maharal on the 48 Kinyanei Torah, one of which is המכיר את מקומו. A person must not overestimate himself nor underestimate himself. He must know his true value and capabilities, strengths and weaknesses.
I've said it before and I'll say it again [Socrates beat me to it - see the hakdama to Alei Shor]: KNOW THYSELF!!:) 

Soul Or Body - The Sequel

In the previous post I debated a great [unnamed in my post] Rosh Yeshiva, Talmid Chochom and Marbitz Torah as to the reason why there is little talk of the after-life in certain circles [called "modern" for the purposes of labeling...].

I received an email from one of his prominent students [Rav Y.F. whom I thank] quoting the end of his explanation:
At issue in this context is not only the afterlife as such, but rather the interface of our present life, within which the problem, inter alia, of remolding ourselves in the world which Chazal regarded as the prelude to the next. 
That is exactly what I meant but of course the the Rosh Yeshiva said it a thousand times more eloquently than I. So no disagreement after all.
I also want to apologize if there was even the slightest amount of disrespect shown towards him in the post. It was not meant but if it sounded that way I apologize.
When one person knows Shas by heart with many of the rishonim and has thousands of students and exemplary character then one who is much less that dust under his feet [i.e. me] must be careful. Not that one may not offer another opinion but it should be done with respect and the recognition that the other person is on a much-much-much higher plateau.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Soul Or Body?

לזכות ר' יואל בן פנחס הלוי לברכה והצלחה וכל טוב סלה

A well known and brilliant Rosh Yeshiva was recently asked why in the more "modern" world [his constituency] there is much less talk of the after-life than in the more "observant" world. He proceeded to offer a complex lengthy answer which included an intricate analysis of the Rambam in hilchos teshuva followed by more analysis.....

I am not nearly as smart as he is and not as knowledgeable either. But I believe that the problem with geniuses is that sometimes they over "complexify" simple issues. The gemara calls this לפום חורפיה משבשתא - He is so sharp that he confuses matters. Paradoxically, their intellectual aptitude beclouds their perspicacity [is that a correct sentence?? Sounded good to me so I wrote it:)].

In my humble opinion the answer is much more simple [to be honest, I don't even know what his answer was. All of the verbiage left me searching in vein for the nucleus of the explanation. Part of what I write I base on an idea of Rav Eliyahu Lapian זצוק"ל]: There are people who are called "Bnei Olam Haba". These people live in our world but since they are spiritual and this world is phyiscal they feel like strangers here and only feel at home and in their comfort zone when doing "Olam haba-dike" things, such as learning, davening or any mitzva for that matter. Others are very materialistic and don't connect to the supernal world. They like lots of good food, nice vacations and many of the creature comforts that our world has to offer. They are not fired up by spirituality. They may keep Shabbos but not as Shabbos is supposed to be kept. At the table they will discuss what one mechalel shabbos said about another mechalel shabbos in order to gain popularity [i.e. Israeli politics] or how one group of over sized, tattoo-riddled gentiles wearing underwear managed to put a cows hide in a net more than another group of over sized, tattoo-riddled gentiles also wearing underwear but of a different color [i.e. basketball]. That is not Shabbos. When such people daven and they say על כן נקוה לך .... לתקן עולם במלכות ש-ד-י we anxiously await the time when the  world world will be fixed under the dominion of the Almighty, they are hurriedly putting away their tefillin so that they can rush not for the Almighty but the Almighty Dollar. The idol of Mamon .

They don't relate to G-d and aren't terribly interested in Him either. When they raise they children they talk about the kids future. The "future" invariably means the next fifty sixty years of the child's life and not his eternity. Activities that purify the nebulous soul are foresworn if they impede one's advancement in matters of the Body [I capitalize the idolatry] and Its wants and desires.

People who ARE spiritual [regardless of the material of Kippah on their heads or hashkafic allegiance] think of everything [to varying degrees] in terms of the future when they will divest themselves of this temporary shell and live in the Real World.

Our job is to too make Olam Haba RIGHT HERE and thereby insure ourselves that when the time comes we will have Olam Haba over "there". Our motivation for doing this is because it is the will of Hashem.

In a word - whether people about the physical or the spiritual will determine how interested they are in the after-life when there will no longer be a physical.

כך נראה לעניות דעתי ואם שגיתי השם הטוב יכפר.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Shiur

Thoughts on Kiddushei Shtar, here. By golly talmud is deeppppp.

The Sin Of Dovid

From Shabbat Bishabbato Parshat Va-era [Translated by R' Moshe Goldberg]

Holy & Secular
> "The Shlezinger Tunnel" / Rabbi Amichai Gordin
Yeshivat Har Etzion and Shaalvim High School
Ephraim Kishon was trying to tell a joke to his friend, the "Yekki," Dr. Feinholtz:
- Did you hear (I began)? Two Jews were riding in a train...
- Excuse me (Dr. Feinholtz interrupted, putting on his glasses). Who were these Jews?
- Just some Jews, it doesn't matter...
- From Palestine?
- It doesn't matter. Let's say they were. They live in Israel. Well...
- Oh, I see. Are you, sir, trying to tell me that this story took place after the State of Israel was established?
- Absolutely. But it doesn't make any difference. There they were, traveling in the train...
- Where to?
- What's the difference? Let's say to Haifa. Here's the main thing. The train suddenly went through a long tunnel...
- I beg your pardon, but there is no tunnel on the route to Haifa.
- Okay, so they were going to Jerusalem. It doesn't matter! Well...
- There are no tunnels on the route to Jerusalem either. It is true that in 1923 there was a suggestion to dig a tunnel under the Kastel, but the Mandatory government...
- It doesn't matter! Let's say there were not here but in Switzerland. So...
- Oh, Switzerland! Might I ask which tunnel it was? Was it the Litsburg Tunnel or Simpleton? Or perhaps St. Guthart or Arlburg?
- It doesn't matter (I shouted)! As far as I am concerned, it could have been the Shlezinger Tunnel!
- The Shlezinger Tunnel! (Here Dr. Feinholtz burst out laughing.) Wonderful! What a fantastic joke! The Shelzinger Tunnel! I must tell this joke to my friends! The Shlezinger Tunnel...
[Based on Ephraim Kishon, "Yekki"]
* * * * * *
An important warning: The correspondence between Kishon's fantastic story and the subject of this essay is not perfect. I want to discuss the Tanach, and to declare that in the study of Tanach as in other subjects it is important to stick with the main elements and not to get sidetracked by the "Shlezinger Tunnel." It is important to emphasize that as opposed to a simple satire, every detail in the Tanach has an innate value, and it is important to study every detail of the Tanach.
However, even though every verse has its own value, it is important to invest more time and energy in understanding the verse "Do not stretch your hand out to harm the youth" [Bereishit 22:12] than is required for the verse "the sister of Lotan was Timna" [36:22].
* * * * * *
"And David was very angry at the man... I swear that any man who does this should be punished by death" [Shmuel II 12:5].
"And Natan said to David, you are the man... Why did you shame the word of G-d to do evil... And now the sword will never leave your house... I will bring evil on you from within your house... And I do this thing in front of all of Yisrael and in front of the sun." [12:...].
"And David said to Natan: I have sinned before G-d." [12:..].
* * * * * *
Natan the Prophet acted "by the book". First he made David angry about a rich man who took away the sheep of a poor man. And then Natan demanded that David turn his own anger against himself, deep within his soul. "You are the man!"
It is very doubtful if from the time of creation until this very day any human being has fully succeeded in accomplishing such a task – to accept sharp and humiliating criticism, to accept an unbridled ethical scolding, to hear that "the sword will never leave" his house and that his own son would humiliate him in front of the entire community. David was expected to hear all of this, to look straight at all the facts, and to declare: "I have sinned before G-d."
King David did not try to justify his actions. He did not explain that the poor man's sheep was one thing that his actions were something else. The King of Yisrael did not ask for special treatment because of his celebrity status. And he did not demand that the prophet speak to him with greater respect. The King made a simple declaration, a pure statement: "I have sinned before G-d."
* * * * * *
The controversy over the teaching of Tanach which erupted in the last year enhanced the rating of the story of David and Batsheva. But, unfortunately, in many cases the focus of the discussion has been in the wrong place. It is true that we must ask exactly what David's sin was. But that is not the main point. The main focus must be somewhere else.
We must not become too involved in the "Shlezinger Tunnel." On the path to understanding the greatness of the declaration, "I have sinned," we must not stop to wonder if there really is a tunnel between Haifa and Tel Aviv. The story of David and Batsheva is first and foremost a story about a giant of a man who succeeded at an extremely difficult moment to set his ego aside and to concentrate on the truth. That is the focus of the story, that is the main point. That is the ethical volcano that erupts from within King David.
The sin of David is the dark tunnel which leads to the great light of his declaration: "I have sinned before G-d." Is this the Shlezinger Tunnel or the Arlburg Tunnel? You know what? It really doesn't matter...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A short shiur on Shovevim here.

Home Or At Work

Should a woman work or stay home with the children? Read this.

I have what to say about this. Maybe for another time.... It's about to snow and I have to get ready to be the only adult in the neighborhood throwing snowballs:).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Beautiful People Do Not Just Happen

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Reporting Abuse

From w/ permission:

 If a child is brought to a hospital battered and showing signs of cruel abuse such as burns, broken bones, black and blue marks it is forbidden for a Jewish doctor to return the child to his parents custody and he must immediately report it to the authorities who will remove the child from the home and place him in foster care. The Doctor does not have a Din of a Moseir since returning the child is Sakanas Nefashos.

What if the child may ultimately end up in a non-Jewish home or institution? The Nishmas Avrohom (CM 388:1) says that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and ybc"l Rav Elyashiv both hold that you must still report the abuse to the authorities, but you must do everything possible to try to make sure the child ends up in a home that is Shomer Torah U'Mitzvos. He brings from the Tzitz Eliezer that the doctor is only removing the child from his parents murderous arms. What the government does after that is not his immediate concern.

Furthermore he writes that Rav Shlomo Zalman and the Tzitz Eliezer both explicitly held that this halacha applies when a father sexually abuses his daughter, even if she is a ketana, since the halacha equates saving a girl from this abuse to saving her from murder.

עד כאן

See also the journal Yeshurun [Volume 15] where there are a collection of articles on this critical topic and of course echo the above-mentioned psak.

Yismichu Hashomayim....Ushiavtem Mayim Bisason...Eliyahu Hanavi Eliyahu Hatishbi....

Give this guy a standing O!!!!!:)

You can find him at Times Square 42nd street 1,2,3 train platform.

Shovevim And Shabbos

לזכות משה יהודה בן פעשע דינה לזיווג הגון במהרה

The Chida quotes the Shlah and the Arizal who say that תשובה is an acronym for ת'ענית ש'ק ו'אפר ב'כיה ה'ספד - Fasting, sackcloth, ashes, crying, eulogy. But these generations are weak and can't handle all that so today תשובה is an acronym for ת'ורה ש'בת ו'ידוי ב'ושה ה'כנעה - Torah, Shabbos, confession, embarrassment, subordinate [to Hashem]. In the olden days people needed to afflict themselves but today Shabbos is in place of afflictions. Today שבבים is an acronym for בא שבת בא יום מנוחה - Comes Shabbos comes a day of rest. Enjoy Shabbos in a Shabbos-dike way and fix your soul.

ספר רביד זהב לג"ר ישראל דוב בער גילערנטער
אב בית דין סטאפשטשעט לעמבערג תר"ל
מובא בס' אוצר אפרים


Sent by a VERY sweet friend from Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan. Watch especially the first 35 seconds.

Thanks to him!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Return Wayward Sons

These weeks are called שובבים. That is an acronym for the parshiyos שמות וארא בא בשלח יתרו משפטים. This is based on the pasuk שובו בנים שובבים - Return wayward sons. During these weeks we are supposed to do extra teshuva. Heavy duty. Sort of like a winter-dike Elul. The source for this is not the gemara but the later mekubalim. Those who can appreciate kabbala in its depth can appreciate שובבים. I am not a mekubal. To be a true mekubal you need to enjoy chicken and a hot cup of tea a lot less than I do. But I try to dabble in sifrei chassidus which elevate me a little out of my coarse physicality as I suggest everyone does.

I once went to a mekubal [Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz Shlita] and he gave me a siddur he published of special mystical tefillos to say during this period. Some people fast every day [until night] or at least Monday and Thursday. The Klausenberger Rebbe told his wife at this time that for the next six weeks she is off duty [meaning that he is not going to eat]. I knew a tzaddik who fasted every day until mincha - but he davened mincha right before shkiya.

The area in which we place a special emphasis is in the area of arayos, histaklus and all around kedusha. These are the parshiyos of Mitzraim which was called ערות הארץ - The nakedness of the land. We try to put some clothing on this nakedness....

This was a shiur on this topic geared for married people.

If people want more on this topic email me and I will try to write more. I also recommend you purchase the sefer on שובבים written based on the sichos of Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg who is an angel living amongst men.

For gematria fans -
If we do teshuva we reach שלמות which eliminates the power of the shor [Esav] and chamor [Yishmael] which will ultimately bring Moshiach.
They are all the exact same gematria -
שובו בנים שובבים = שלמות = שור וחמור = ביאת המשיח 776

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Not To Hurt A Jewish Girl

Over at my other home I put up a few new posts - short and sweet. One is too good to remain there [I get a lot more visitors at this home].

Maran HaRav Hutner ztz"l told Rav Dov Yaffe Shlita [a famous mashgiach in Eretz Yisrael] that there was a very successful Rosh Yeshiva in the United States who was engaged to a girl before the war. She went through the holocaust and lost her family and possibly her mental health and there was even a doubt as to whether she could conceive. The boy's family tried to convince him to break off the engagement. He refused. He said that before the war she had her health and she had her family and now she lost both. All she has left is her chosson and he is not going to cause her to lose that as well. They married.

Rav Hutner said that this Rosh Yeshiva was so successful in life because of the heavenly reward for not hurting a Jewish girl.

I have been walking around with this story for a few days and I pashut CAN'T GET OVER IT!!


Punishment With Love

This is the first week of Shovevim, those six weeks when we do extra tshuva. Shemos starts with a shin which alludes to tshuva as the pasuk says שובה ישראל עד השם אלקיך starting with a shin.

When Moshe saw the Egyptian hitting the Jew is says ויך את המצרי ויטמנהו בחול - He smote [only in the Bible people "smote" other people:)] the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. The first letters spell אהובו [if you scramble the letters] - his beloved. Explains the Chida [בספר נחל קדומים] that Moshe was a gilgul of Hevel and the Egyptian was a gilgul of Kayin and this time Hevel killed Kayin not out of hatred [as did Kayin to Hevel] but out of love! That is why he killed him by saying the שם המפורש [Hashem is kviyachol a Being of love] and not physically. He then buried him in the sand which means that he was absorbed into the Jewish people who are compared to sand.

From this we learns that even when punishing it should be done out of love. The gemara learns to kill someone who is liable to capital punishment in the most humane way from the pasuk ואהבת לרעך כמוך. Even punishment must be meted out with love.

מו"ר האדמו"ר מטאלנא שליט"א סעודה שלישית תשע"א

How To Let Go Of Anger

"Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath. Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body. Then look at, or think of, the person triggering this emotion: With mindfulness, you can see that he is unhappy, that he is suffering. You can see her wrong perceptions. You can see that he is not beautiful when he says things that are unkind. You can also see that you don't want to be like him. You'll feel motivated by a desire to say or do something nice -- to help the other person suffer less. This means compassionate energy has been born in your heart. And when compassion appears, anger is deleted."

There is a saying in Hebrew - אין אדם רע - יש אדם שרע לו

There are no evil people - just people for whom life is "evil" [i.e. difficult]. I don't believe that this is fully true. There are evil people. But most of the people with whom we come into contact are not - they are just having a rough time. Remember that, feel compassion - and anger gone.

How To Get Past Emotional Pain

"Everything we experience -- no matter how unpleasant -- comes into our lives to teach us something. To move on from something difficult, look for the lesson. Start by asking yourself: 'If this is the way things are supposed to be, what can I learn from it?' Think about how you may have contributed to the painful experience, or if there was anything you could have done to prevent it. Often we don't realize the lesson because we'd rather avoid reliving the pain. But once you allow yourself to reflect on the sadness, anger, guilt, or shame you've been hiding, those feelings will begin to subside. Yes, someone hurt you. Once you've forgiven them and let go, you can move forward and begin creating the life you desire."

That is called in our language "Tikkun". Make a tikkun. You can fix everything. How did Rebbi Nachman say it? אם אתה מאמין שאפשר לקלקל תאמין שאפשר לתקן - If you believe that you can mess things up, believe that you can fix them, too.

והשם יהא בעזרנו

How To Listen Better

"Start by doing everything you can to fire up the 'mirror neurons' in your brain, which mimic what others are experiencing. You can subtly imitate the other person's posture, even match the pace and depth of their breathing. Your words can also mirror what the other person is telling you. For example, you might say, 'What I'm hearing is that it distresses you when your husband acts silly in public' or 'Wow, I can tell just from your voice that you're under serious pressure.' Don't add advice or commentary -- just reflect. If you simply must add something, ask the speaker to disconfirm what you say. In other words, ask to be told where you're mistaken -- and mean it. Do not ask to be told that you're right; it turns a listening ear into a bid for authority, and no one will want to talk to you then."


Thursday, January 3, 2013

How To Treat Your Sworn Enemies

Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap was once walking down the street with his grandson when he was accosted by a קנאי [zealot] who starting saying horribly insulting things to him. His "sin" was that his Rebbi was Rav Kook whom the zealots could NOT STAND [the feeling was NOT mutual...]. Rav Charlap's grandson was appalled and wanted to answer the man but the Rav gently grabbed his arm to calm him down and to signal him to remain silent.

When they passed him Rav Charlap explained: A wealthy man once wanted to buy Rav Kook an apartment. Rav Kook said that he didn't need one but that he should give it to me. The man agreed and offered it to me. I ALSO didn't want a beautiful new apartment because I was satisfied with what I had. So I found this poor man and gave it to him in such a way that he wouldn't know it came from me. So he doesn't even know that the people he holds in such contempt gave him a free apartment.

זכות הצדיקים יעזור ויגן ויושיע

[From the book שירת הי"ם]

New Post

Dealing with differences in marriage, here.

Don't miss it:).

Magical Powers:)

Just saw an advertisement on the top of my gmail page: "Tell me your birthdate and I will tell you your love future." [I am not contacting her because I want to believe that I will remain married until death. Not looking for any surprises:). Also, I spend my money on silly things like groceries and shoes for the kids and don't have much left over for dubious astrologists].

I can't offer that but I can say "Tell me your birthdate and I will tell you how old you are".

The Songs Of Eretz Yisrael

I know that I am back tracking a little but it's OK. A friend in the neighborhood writes for a newspaper and asked me for sources on the power of niggun for an article he is writing. He came to the right place [not only because I love music but because I have a computer and can do a search and he doesn't...].

This is one idea I found: Yaakov tells his sons קחו מזמרת הארץ    - This is translated as "Take from the best of the land [meaning food, and bring it to the leader].

But not by Rebbe Nachman....

Rebbe Nachman said [if you were in the same Yeshiva as me about 3-4 years ago I gave this over on Shabbos afternoon Parshas Mikeitz in room 306]: Take from the ZMIROS of Eretz Yisrael. Bring him a niggun to elevate him. That's the greatest gift.

Asked Rav Moshe Tzvi Nerya: How can they give away such holy niggunim and risk that the filthy Egyptians will misuse them for their immoral desires??

The answer is that Yaakov hoped that they would bring over the niggunim and the niggun would spread around town and Yosef would hear it and it would inspire him to return to Hashem. [Yaakov didn't know that Yosef was the leader and had remained faithful to Hashem.]

The כח of a niggun!!


A Vort For The Shabbos Table - And For The Heart

לזכות התינוקת חיה שירה בת ר' אהרן ישראל לברכה הצלחה וכל טוב סלה
In parshas shmos we read about the birth of Moshe Rabbeinu and how he was placrd in a box in the river and subsequently pulled out by the daughter of Paroh. The pasuk says ותפתח ותראהו את הילד והנה נער בוכה "she opened [the box] and she saw the CHILD and a behold a LAD was crying". Waaaaiiiitttt a second - was he a child or a lad? He was in fact a child - a baby - as the pasuk begins, so why does the pasuk suddenly make an about face and call him a lad?

Rashi answers that Moshe's voice was deep like that of a lad.

The Baal Haturim says something that almost makes ME cry. The "lad" in the pasuk is not Moshe - it's his brother Aharon! Aharon was worried about his brother to the point of tears. WOW!!

The daughter of Paroh then exclaims - מילדי העברים זה - he is a Jewish baby. How did she know? If his brother is crying for him he must be a Jew. We Egyptians don't have such a quality. [Sefer Terachem Tziyon]

One of the themes of sefer bereishis is sibling rivalry. Kayin kills Hevel. Yitzchak and Yishmael. Yaakov and Eisav. Yosef and his brothers. OYYYYY! At the end of the sefer, Yaakov gives the younger Ephraim the preferred bracha over his elder brother Menashe yet FINALLY there are no repurcussions. Menashe remains silent. [Some suggest that this is why we bless our children that they should be like Ephraim and Menashe - no sibling rivalry]. Yet here with Aharon, we see an even greater tikkun. He CRIED for his brother [while his sister Miriam stood from afar observing to see what would happen with her brother].

Later in the parsha we find Moshe arguing at the burning bush that he can't redeem the Jewish people from Egypt because Aharon his older brother is the leader and he doesn't want to take his job. Hashem says וראך ושמח בלבו he will see you and be so happy that he won't be able to express it with words. His joy will be overflowing in his heart.

When a Leiby Kletzky is brutally murdered the entire Jewish world cries in unison. We are all siblings and know how to cry for each other. How odd then that we have such trouble getting along.

Maybe this Shabbos we can think of ways to show others how much we care.

Because deep down -
we really really do.

Shmuel And Agag

לזכות שמואל אלכסנדר בן נעכא גיטל שיגדל לתארת עם ישראל

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the story of how Shmuel dispensed of Agag the king of Amalek [which inspired this little burst of lightening]. Agag was an EVIL man. Before Shmuel killed him he said כאשר שכלה נשים חרבך כן תשכל מנשים אמך - Just as your sword caused to many woman to lose a close relative, so your mother is going to lose you.

That is a strange thing to say, as if all he did was make women lose someone close to them. He was a murderer! He murdered innocent human beings!! Shmuel should have said - "Just as you killed others, so you will be killed". So there:).

Much has been said on this pasuk. Rav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi Shlita explained that there is a unique, sinister and profound evil, when a person not only kills but thinks to himself "How pleasurable it will be to know that this boy's mother will mourn for him for many years to come. And mamesh a gevald to think about his newly widowed wife crying at his funeral, and his orphaned daughters shedding oceans of tears - what a pleasure". That was Agag and because of that Shmuel said that just as your unspeakable evil was premeditated to cause other women pain, so will your mother experience your loss.

I add that when someone dies he only dies once. When someone loses a child or spouse they die a million deaths. Every time they think about their beloved, departed relative something inside them dies. Agag with one act of murder wanted to kill other sensitive [bi-gimatria women] people millions of times. That is worse than the actual killing.

In the last 70 years between Nazis and Arabs we have experienced much Agagism.

How can we counter this? When you do an act of kindness, think about the ripple effect. Maybe - how proud it will make your parents or how the person who was the benefactor of your kindness will pass it forward.

פלאי פלאות!!:-)

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Some Torah on the sugya of reclining on Pesach, here. If anyone can help me resolve any of the issues I raised, I would be indebted.

The Greatest Gift

One of my children, in their pure-holy-un-media-affected-no-Internet-no-television-no-movie-way, once asked me why very religious people have more children than more modern people? How does it work? In my neighborhood, just about every woman under forty is either expecting, or recently had a baby. In less frum places, two or three or maybe even four children is the norm. In frum places, by the time she is 27 she already has at least four and that is just the "appetizer".

Why? Is it because of the special love that Hashem has for those who are faithful to Him? Maybe that is part of it but we know another reason... [I didn't tell my child this.]

Pharoh tried to have the Jewish fetuses aborted and Jewish babies killed. We are in favor of babies. So why do so many Jews limit their output?

The answer very often is money. Before people get married they already go to the Rabbi to ask for a heter to postpone conception [and others don't even ask].

I am in a bit of a rush so I will keep it short.

A child IS expensive but is worth FARRRR more than money can buy. I have over 20 billion dollars.


I have five children בלי עין הרע and if you would offer me 4 billion dollars to take a child away I would never agree.

Most Charedim in Israel have very little money but that doesn't stop them from having large families while people with good jobs and a lot of money have a child every 7 years because they fear that the child will cost too much. 

A child is the source of the greatest feeling of love and connection possible. They are worth the money. Really. Hands down. A no-brainer.

Please - if you are fortunate enough to be married, give the world the greatest gift possible - a Jewish child.

There is nothing sweeter and more pure.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Eat Sweet Child

New study - Overweight people less likely to die than healthy people.

So if you ever need an excuse to have a meal of ice cream and cake for the main and chocolate for dessert - you have one. [You should wash - the cake is pas habba bikisnin and you were kovea seuda.]

What does a skinny man like me do [I couldn't be overweight if I tried]? Say more tehilim and give tzdaka for arichus yomim.

Paying A Babysitter On Time

Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon from Shabbat Bi-shabbato. Traslated by R' Moshe Goldberg

Question: A couple hires a young girl as a babysitter for their children. When they return home at night they see that they do not have enough money in their wallets to pay her. Can they delay the payment to the babysitter until the next time that she comes to work for them?
Answer: The Torah commands us to pay the salary of a worker as soon as he or she finishes the work. One who delays paying violates a Torah prohibition and also does not perform a positive mitzva. (One who "takes possession" of a wage – that is, who declares that he will not pay at all – violates five different prohibitions. See Choshen Mishpat 339:2, and the article on "Bal Talin" in the Talmudic Encyclopedia.) On the other hand, the worker is allowed to waive the obligation and to agree to accept the payment at a later time. It is also possible to make an agreement in advance that the payments will be made at regular intervals and not after every individual job.
However, both of the above alternatives – waiving the obligation and making an advance agreement – are not recommended. With respect to a waiver, there are times when the babysitter will agree to the request only in order to avoid an unpleasant situation. In addition, when the babysitter is a child there are some who feel that she is not halachically capable of agreeing to a condition. And with respect to a prior agreement, while it alleviates the problem of the prohibition of not paying on time, there are those who feel that a person who makes such an agreement has forfeited the opportunity to fulfill the positive mitzva of paying on time.
It is written in the Talmud that if one who has hired does not have the money to pay the salary he does not violate the prohibition of paying the salary late (Bava Metzia 112). The Ritva discusses a dispute about whether one who hired a worker is obligated to sell his personal belongings in order to raise the money to pay. In the end the rabbis took a lenient position and ruled that the person should try to obtain the money as soon as possible but that he is not required to sell his own possessions. (See the article by Rabbi Tzvi Arnon in Techumin, volume 22.)
Thus, strictly speaking, one who does not have money available is allowed to delay the payment. But as is written in the Sefer Hachinuch, "In any case, every reasonable person should make sure to have the salary available before hiring a worker" [Mitzva 588]. In the book Alya Rabba it is written that the ARI ruled that one should be very careful about this matter and take care as much as possible to make payments for rent on time, even if the renter will be forced to borrow money to do this (Orach Chaim 232, Hilchot Tefillat Mincha). It is said that one time the ARI delayed the Mincha prayer in order to obtain the money to pay a worker who had done a job for him. Similar stories have been told about other prominent Torah scholars who tried to observe this law and to pay every hired worker on time.
Therefore, it is best to take a little more time and take money out of an ATM on the way home in order to fulfill a Torah mitzva!

Troubled About His Humanity

Rav Mordechai Greenberg - Rosh Yeshivat Kerem Bi-yavneh in Shabbat Bishabbato. Translated by R' Moshe Goldberg

The sages interpret the name "Di Zahav" in the beginning of the book of Devarim as a reference to the sin of the Golden Calf. They described a parable of a man who had a son. He washed him, anointed him with oils, fed him, and gave him to drink. He then tied a bag with money around his neck and sent him to the entrance of a place of ill repute. Could this son avoid sin? That is how Moshe defended Bnei Yisrael. He said: You gave them an abundance of gold, until they were satiated. Why is it surprising that they made a calf?
Rabbi Soloveitchik found this difficult to understand. While it is true that the story has elements in common with what really happened, it is basically illusionary. What father would ever do this to his own son? The rabbi replied that just like Egypt, which was the height of civilization at the time of the exile, so all of the places where Bnei Yisrael were sent to exile were considered the most sophisticated cultures of their times. This includes Babylon, Greece, and Rome (and perhaps Germany in our generation), which were all at the highest levels of culture, technology, and science when they conquered the people of Yisrael. Why did G-d specifically choose to send Bnei Yisrael in exile to these places? The answer is that this was meant to oppose any possible suggestion that just as the Jews have the Torah the other nations have just laws and regulations, culture, and behavior patterns of their own. The Holy One, Blessed be He, therefore sent us into the most civilized centers, so that we would be able to compare the Torah and the culture of the other nations from our own experience.
Based on this approach, Rabbi Soloveitchik was able to explain a verse from this week's Torah portion. "And he saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man from among his brothers. So he turned to and fro and saw that there was no man, and he struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand." [Shemot 2:11-12]. It is interesting to note that at first we are told that Moshe saw "an Egyptian man," but in the end he struck "the Egyptian" – without the title "man." At first Moshe thought that the Egyptian was a man, somebody who was important and learned. But when he saw how ruthlessly he struck the Jew, he was troubled about his humanity. "He turned to and from and saw that there was no man" – Moshe realized that this was not a man but a two-legged beast who strikes others and pushes them around, and therefore, "he struck the Egyptian" - without the title "man."
This is similar to what Malbim wrote with respect to the verse, "I said that there is just no fear of G-d in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife" [Bereishit 20:11]:
"He [Avraham] told him that even if he or his nation appeared to be great philosophers and that they had written upright laws and acted in good ways and followed justice and the law according to their intellect – Avraham could not be sure that their intellect would prevail when lust moved such a man or nation to perform an evil act. The opposite was true. At a time when they would have a fiery lust for another man's wife or his fortune without any witnesses, then the intellect would also follow the inclination to murder and adultery and all kinds of evil. There is only one force in the soul of man that we can trust not to sin, and that is the trait of fear that is planted in the soul."
It is remarkable to see these thoughts that Malbim wrote before the Nazis came to power in Germany.
"You chose us from among the nations" (the primitive ones) "and lifted us up from all the other peoples" (who are cultured). [Shabbat Mincha prayer].