Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rasha And Tipeish

A hagada thought....
What is the opposite of a חכם? Well, if חכם is "wise" then the opposite would be a טיפש - fool. So why is the contrast in the hagada to a חכם a רשע and not a טיפש.
Herein lies the secret. At the root of all evil is stupidity and foolishness. To wit - A man wants money so he steals. Evil, right? At the root of the evil is foolishness because he will end up being caught, humiliated and sent to jail. A man is bored with his wife so he finds a "spare" wife. His wife finds out and as a present she serves him with divorce papers. He loses his wife, kids, house, loads of money and [as a bonus] has lots of hearthache. At the root of the evil is foolishness. That is what the author of the hagada is teaching us by contrasting the חכם and רשע.
Take Albert Einstein as a f'rinstance. He writes in his memoirs that had he not been so, uh let us say, "taken" with the opposite gender, he would have accomplished a great deal more in his lifetime. He admitted that at the root of the aveiros he committed was really foolishness. He would have done so much more but his yetzer hara owned him.
Let us be wise and not foolish.
Love and blessings:-).
[Based on the words of the Rebbe Shlita]

"Behave Yourself!"

Pursuant to the previous post I thought of writing a learned piece on the laws of tfillin.
But instead I chose another topic....

Criticism. Why are people SOOOO critical?? I believe it starts because children receive so much criticism from the adult world. Every time we correct a person it is also a form of criticism. Listen to the average parent interact with his or her child and you will find INCESSANT criticism. "Don't eat with your fingers", "Say thank you", "Don't hit your sister", "Put away your toys and do your homework", "Lower your voice", the examples are infinite.

Am I suggesting that we don't educate our children and allow them to grow up to be vilde chayos [that is Yiddish for "Palestinian Nationalist"]. Most certainly not! I AM suggesting that the proportion of positive to negative comments be a good ten to one, at least. I am ALSO suggesting that when criticizing we should choose our words carefully. For example, instead of "Stop hitting your sister" maybe we can substitute "When you treat your sister with the respect she deserves it is soooo wonderful". He'll get the point. Or "I see you are really enjoying playing with your toys. Would you like to put away your toys and do your homework now or would you like do so in 5 minutes".

Every time we hear words they make an impression on us for better or for worse. Some words build and others destroy. MOST words create very subtle feelings but the accumulative [whew! Took me a few seconds to find that word hidden in the far reaches of my brain:)] effect is tremendous. [There is scientific proof for this but not for here].

I believe that we hear so many subtle words of criticism and displeasure as children that we unconsciously pick them up and pass the same feelings of unworthiness to the next generation.

Vi-la-Psychologists hayisa orah visimcha visason veekar!!!

Let's break the cycle - TODAY!!:)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Power Of Words

I often wear tefillin at Mincha. Today a fellow approached me after davening and angrily told me to take them off because it is already shkiya. This fellow is about 10-15 years younger than I am and I felt disrespected. I insisted that it is permitted to have tefillin on after shkiya as long as they were already put on before. Where I come from [the Old City] loads of people wear tefillin after shkiya. His eyes got big and he emphatically told me that I am going against the Mishna Brura. And besides, the Rov of the shul once told me to take off my tefillin after shkiya and he is the Mara D'asra so I must listen to him. So there!!

I didn't want to fight so I turned away and went back to my Maharal and that was the end of it.

I didn't know how he knew that the Rov once told me [gently] to remove my tefillin as he said it in a whisper. I suspect now that this person told the Rov to tell me and that is how he knew.

I then went to look up the Mishna Brura who says [based on the Shulchan Aruch] that one must remove his tefillin by צאת הכוכבים but after shkiya they may remain on him. Ahhhhaaaa! So there:). He then cites the Ari who said that one must remove them by shkiya. Since I don't do lots of things the Holy Ari said to do, I feel comfortable following the psak of the Shulchan Aruch.

What is interesting is that I was feeling yicheee about this interaction for the rest of the night [it is now six hours or so later and it's still bothering at me]. My rational mind says to forget about it but my emotional side felt attacked and is not at peace.

From this I learn - 1] Be careful what you say. One negative comment and you can ruin someone's day. 2] I am more sensitive than I thought. 3] Respect everybody  - especially your elders [and I suspect given the fact that I have been learning full time since soon after he was born that I might know some things that he doesn't. So also respect people who know more than you]. 4] Rebuke must be given with love. Otherwise it won't have the desired effect. My most basic inclination is to make sure he sees me again tomorrow with my tefillin after shkiya. Mature of me  - isn't it? But so is human nature,,,,
Wonder-of-wonders - the philosophy-lomdus-halacha of the concept of "tzibbur", here, from my weekly parsha sheet.

Mi-simcha Li-simcha

A HUUUUGE Mazel Tov to Rav and Mrs. Yoel Rackovsky Shlita on the engagement of their son Elyashiv to Chaya Schick of Har Nof. Tonight is the engagement party in Har Nof [8:00PM Shaulzon 16 at the Dubin family] - if you can make it hope to see you there:)!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Read about the search for happiness - here.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I am invited to a wedding in New Jersey. Where in New Jersey, only Hashem and - li-havdil - my GPS knows. I drive up to the hall in my 2014 sleek sports car and a smiling young man wearing a bow tie, whose name tag says "Kevin", offers to take my keys and park for me. For a moment I hesitate to hand over my keys because I don't know Kevin and he seems like the type who would enjoy owning such a car but I calm myself by remembering that if he were a car thief he would have lost this job long ago [unless it was his first day at work and then maybe I do have something to worry about:)].

I enjoy looking at the waterfall right outside the hall and then enter the building with its high ceilings, large paintings, cacophonous carpets and restrooms that are equipped with either a television or have music playing in the background - ostensibly to distract a person so that he doesn't have Torah thoughts while in there.

After a lavish shmorg, I and the rest of klal yisrael are FULL. I wish the chosson and his father and his-soon-to-be father-in-law a huge mazel accompanied by a kiss and hug. Now the chuppah. A looong chuppah. The kallah marches down the aisle slowly and so do all of her relatives, entire high school and seminary classes, her co-counselor at HASC and all twelve sets of parents and grandparents. The band changes the tune for each group of marchers. When the chosson's nephews and nieces march down, the theme of Sesame Street is played. His little four year old niece holding a basket of petals, suddenly runs in the oppposite direction and everybody who notices laughs. Not everybody notices because a large percentage of the people are either busy on their blackberry's, catching up with their shnaim mikra vi-echad targum or whispering to their neighbors ["When did his parents get divorced?" "Is it true that they broke off the engagement for a while?"].

The Rabbi speaks about how special the chosson and kallah are, the uncles get their brachas under the chuppah, a few people are offended that they didn't get a kibbud, a glass is broken and the festivities begin.

The chosson and kallah go to the yichud room to spend 45 minutes with the photographer and the guests go to the main hall to start a meal they don't really need because they just ate only an hour ago right before the chuppah.

People are eating and talking and talking and talking and eating and talking. Then the band starts a heavy beat which immediately puts pictures of Rocky Balboa in mind from my long lost childhood when I was being molded by Western Culture and all of it's trappings. The girls stand in two lines facing each other, holding circular rods, so that the chosson and kallah can run between them and under the rods. This is also how NFL games begin and I wonder about the significance of starting the dancing with boxing and football symbols. The boys [and I must publicly admit, one man who totally doesn't act his age] start jumping up and down. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of dental work are revealed in the large smiles all over the hall. The air is electrified. Finally, they appear!! The dancing begins and there is not much room to move unless you are in the outer circle. Otherwise, it's really squishy. Everybody is dancing except for a few old-timers who are watching and clapping their hands.

Everything is UNBELIEVABLE.

After 40 minutes the first dance ends and it is time for the main course, so all of the guests are asked to find their seats.

By this time many of the guests have left. Some left right after the chuppah. [I was once asked by the baalei simcha if I am leaving after the chuppah. I am not such a chashuve Rov yet, but I hope one day!!:)]. Some left during the first dance and some are exiting now. The baalei simcha paid 150 dollars a plate [the kallah's father is the caterer's doctor so he got 50 percent off]  and a significant amount of people are not going to enjoy the benefits. Money - down the drain. G-d Himself - teaches the Talmud [known in the "Mir" as "Gemara"] has sensitivities not to waste Jewish money. הקב"ה חס על ממונם של ישראל. But here, money gonno ["gonno" is an Italian word I just made up].

Little by little more and more people clear out. By the second dance, the dance floor is wide open. It is inhabited mostly by young people [and the aforementioned man who doesn't act his age]. As time progresses, more and more people leave until by the time dessert is served, but a small percentage of the guests remain. Mostly the friends of the chosson and kallah, some relatives and a few close friends of the parents. The band plays some yerushalayim songs, concluding with "Soooommeeeee daaaaaayyy weee will allllll beeee togeeeether", and the simcha reaches a crescendo.

Sheva brachos are said [this time the borei pri hagoffen is the last and not first bracha as it was during the chuppah] glasses of wine are mixed together [as explained here] and people line up to get brachos ["Oh Shaindy - give me a bracha that I should find a chosson, soon"] and the search for Kevin and my sports car begins.

Mazel Tov!!

What is my POINT??

It is hard to remain at weddings until the end. People have work the next day. Some masmidim want to go to learn [on a SUNDAY!!]. The drive home is long. People are tired. Weddings are predictable.

This is my hergesh [gut feeling] and you will tell me if I am wrong.

I noticed that at 100 percent of the weddings I attend the choson and kallah stay until the end. Every time. They are ALSO busy. And tired [they just fasted and then danced for a long time]. They have things to do, mitzvos to perform, gifts to open. But they remain. So do the parents and close friends.


The answer is - the more a person EXPERIENCES THE SIMCHA AS HIS OR HER OWN, the more more likely they are to stay.

Did you ever go to a simcha where you felt out of place and wanted to get out of there? Of course. And get out of there you did. The reason is that you didn't feel like you belonged.

But here is the kicker - we don't attend simchas to enjoy ourselves. We attend in order to enhance the joy of other people. Pil-ei Pla-os! It has NOTHING to do with ME. I am ZEERROOOOO. I am here for the chosson and kallah. It was wonderful that I came and G-d will reward me. But the reward will be commensurate to the amount of simcha I felt for them.

I am not saying that people have to stay until the end of every simcha. I AM saying that I think that people who aren't "feeling it" are more likely to make an early getaway. The proof, as I said, is that the closer a person is to the simcha - the more likely he is to put aside all of his other business and remain. He is also more likely to dance. The parents of the chosson and kalla will always take an active part in the dancing at their own children's weddings but at other weddings they will often be inactive spectators. Of course, it is natural to be happier at one's own child's simcha but to be a real Jew is to step outside of yourself and feel someone else's simcha as if it were your own.

In Israel, since Baruch Hashem there is such a proliferation of smachos [people have an average of nine chidren each - so figure in bris milah's, pidyon haben's, kiddushes, bar mitzva's, weddings, sheva brachos' etc. and multiply that with all of a persons friend's, you get a LOT of smachos] the custom for many, is to come for a few minutes, wish mazel tov and leave.

When I make a simcha - I sense who really wants to be there and who came just to be "yotzei". I assume that I am not the only one... So the message is - try to be at anothers person's simcha with all of your heart and soul - as if it were your own simcha.

Because it is.

Isn't that what ואהבת לרעך כמוך is all about??

Monday, February 25, 2013

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
e.e. cummings (1894 - 1962)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Who Is Poor?

Today I went collecting matanos le-evyonim for the poor of the neighborhood. One of my neighbors said: "I told my sister that we certainly qualify as evyonim this year." That didn't make me feel so good....

So I returned and gave her some of the money I had collected. She then insisted that they don't really need. Well, she explained,  they really DO need but own TWO apartments [one they live in and one they rent] so how can they take??

This is very common here - people are in debt [as is this family] but they own an apartment [or two] which would pay off everything if they would sell. So the question is - do they qualify as poor in order to fulfill the mitva?

I saw a psak in one sefer that they don't. That didn't make me happy [second thing that made me not happy. And on Purim, yet!]. Why should someone have to sell their apartment? At the end of the day these people don't have enough to cover expenses. I saw that Rav Moiiiishe Feinstein ztz"l felt the same way and that these people qualify as poor.

The end of the story is not relevant for us...

[Note - One should generally ask a Rov and not rely on Mevakesh for psak halacha. Today this is especially the case since people kept inviting me in for li-chaim's and I am not the type to say "no". After drinking, one is not allowed to pasken:)].

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"I've got a new invention. It's a revolving bowl for tired goldfish."

Lefty Gomez

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Heartfelt Wishes!

Truth is - I want to send out 10,000 personal emails and make 7,000 phone calls to everybody wishing them a good shabbos and happy purim. But due to time constraints and the fact that it is late and I am going on a long trip tomorrow morning I will be unable to do so.

Instead I use this forum to wish all of my sweetest friends a GOOOOOOOOD SHABBBBBBBBOS AND HAAAAPPPPYY PURRRRRIIIMMMMM!!!!!!!!!

Love and blessings:):)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק

Dachau is left standing because it must be. All the Dachaus -- all the Belsens, all the Buchenwalds, all the Auschwitzes -- all of it. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge...but worst of all, their consciences. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to think about, something to dwell on and remember...not only in the Twilight Zone, but wherever men walk God's Earth.
Rod Serling (1924 - 1975)
Source: "Death's-Head Revisited," episode of The Twilight Zone, 1961
What a story, here.
[The man relating the story was my fourth grade Rebbi].

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Please go here and see the powerful words of the Nesivos Shalom on Purim. Then say it over to others...

New Post

Read about the dog that doesn't let one practice a proven sgula here.

Mordechai Is Drinking - Should Esther Join Him?

Email question:

Is it a mitzva for women to get drunk on Purim?


NO! I am not sure that Chazal would be so pleased with the men getting drunk on Purim in our crazy day and age but women should certainly not. This is mentioned in numerous acharonim, among them the sefer Mekadesh Yisrael [סימן של"ד]. Some learn from the language of Chazal חייב איניש לבסומי - A man is obligated to drink. Not a compelling diyuk because many halachos are directed at men simply because it was the men who were learning Torah and not woman [until Seminaries and Stern College came around]. What is also interesting is that I was not able to locate any early source who even discusses this. But the conclusion and the custom in all Jewish communities of Yirei Hashem is that women don't drink and instead spend the day being amused at how crazy the men are acting [and clean up a lot, too..]

The Steipler is quoted as saying that woman should have A BIT of wine but many don't agree. If the men are drinking and the women are drinking then terrible things can happen - and they have in the past....

Living With Wisdom

I can't take it anymore...

The Oilam HAS to start learning Mishlei. Mishlei is everything that I am trying to say on the blog. USE YOUR SECHEL!! It is an indispensable item that is all too often ignored and gives deference to the powers of foolishness.

To that end I am posting shiurim on the topic. Here is the first and the second and the third.

I thank my Mishlei chavrusa, R' Daniel Simcha ben Chava Raizel who inspired me.

Monday, February 18, 2013

I am updating my email list. If you would like to be added or deleted from my weekly parsha email in English, you may contact me.

If you would like to be added or deleted from my weekly email in Hebrew [generally on a complex Talmudic topic that I myself don't understand], you may contact me.


“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.”

Rodney Dangerfield
Shiurim like this should generally not be given many yeshivos because the boys can't read. But once the master the basics - it's great:). 

Halacha For The Day

From an email that might interest many....

I feel like I ask the same question every year, but is one allowed to use Maaser money for Matanos L'evyonim?!
Answer - No, one may not use maaser money for Matanos L'evyonim.
[Mishna Brura]

No Answer

Scene 1: I get a call. I look at my cell phone and it's Avi, an acquaintance of mine. The first thought that goes through my head is "What does he want?". Then I remember that he recently asked me if he could borrow money and he is probably calling to follow up. I REALLY don't want to deal with him now - so I don't answer. It is much easier to ignore than it is to say "no". So I ignore. I am relieved that he is temporarily off my back.

Scene 2: I get a call.  I look at my cell phone and it's Avi, an acquaintance of mine. The first thought that goes through my head is "What does he want?". Then I remember that he recently offered me a job teaching in a huge yeshiva twice a week. I will give shiur to dozens of eager boys and get a very nice salary which is exactly what a man with seven mouths to feed needs. This will solve my existential [I need to teach Torah] and financial [I need to pay that mortgage - and for groceries] crises. Do I answer?? You betcha - OF COURSE I answer. "Heyyyy Avvvvvvvv!!! What's uuuppp?"

This was a mashal. I don't have a cell phone, an acquaintance named Avi [after I posted I remembered that I DO have an acqaintance named Avi:). Nice guy!], a job offer, a mortgage, or an existential or financial crisis. Thank G-d. I am happy with what I have - and with what I don't have...  

What is the difference between scene 1 and scene 2? Why don't I answer and why do I answer. Simple: I answer when I think it will be to my benefit and don't answer when I don't. Here is a life-changing thought for the next time you receive a call. Think of HOW THE CALLER FEELS. IF HE IS CALLING - ODDS ARE THAT HE WANTS TO SPEAK WITH YOU. Put yourself in his shoes [hoping they are your size and don't smell too bad] and imagine him waiting anxiously to hear your voice. Then decidee if you should answer. Sometimes you shouldn't because what you are presently doing shouldn't be interrupted [like mincha]. Then think about how he feels waiting for you to return his call. THEN decide when to call back.

Recently I have needed various people for a certain issue that has been the cause of much anguish for me. I call. No answer. I call again. No answer. Again. Again. Again. Yet again. They don't return my calls. Too busy? EVERYBODY religious makes time to daven because that is part of Avodas Hashem. Why isn't DERECH ERETZ part of Avodas Hashem??? Are people such big masmidim [most of the people I am in touch with learn or teach full time] that they don't have 3 minutes to return a call. Am I such a bothersome person? Maybe it's me  - who knows.

I have a "weakness" that I can't seem to overcome - when someone calls I feel compelled to get right back to them within a very short period of time. I NEVER ignore an email sent to me. Am I missing something?? Should I ignore people?? And no - I don't necessarily want to speak with everyone who calls me but I just can't take the feeling of insult that I feel like I heap upon another human being when I ignore him. People have time to read the paper or go on facebook so why not take the time to be mechabed another person?

Recently I called up a friend who is really, really a special person. He is deep, spiritual, a talmid chacham, a ben aliya etc. etc. I wasn't calling to ask for a favor but for something I thought would interest him. He didn't answer or return my call. So I called again. Ditto. I was shocked! Him too?? Of all people... A few weeks before I had called and he didn't return my call and when I ran into him I asked if he received my message and he answered in the affirmative. I was stunned. He didn't apologize. Nothing. I didn't say anything. On the message I left this time I was more forward. He called back soon after to apologize. I wish that I didn't have to leave provocative messages to get a call back.

Forgive me for sharing. I am honored to have a relationship with the Tolna Rebbe Shlita. I know that he sleeps little and is non-stop bombarded by telephone calls and people seeking his counsel and blessing. Countless problems come to his doorstep daily. He routinely reads new sefarim at breakneck speed from cover to cover and has regular sedarim in Tanach, gemara etc. He gives countless shiurim which require preparation. He also has parents, a wife, six children, and many grandchildren כן ירבו. Here is the kicker... He is [just about] the ONLY PERSON I know who calls me right back whenever I call him. If he is there he picks up in the first place. I can guarantee that when I call it is not for his benefit but for mine and he of course knows it. He doesn't do it to get money out of me because unemployed rabbeim who sit and learn three sedarim generally don't have money. It isn't because I am a tzadik or talmid chochom because I am not. I am not a widow or orphan or a nebach case. Thank G-d, I enjoy good health as do my family members and I don't suffer from any emotional disorders [other than being addicted to Torah and having a serious aversion to loud cell phone conversations on public transportaion]. It is because he realizes that if I am calling, I must feel that I need to speak to him so he makes himself available.

When I told him I was buying a computer he PERSONALLY got in touch with someone to get me a good deal and good service. When I looked for a school for my kids, he PERSONALLY researched every school around in order to determine which school would be best. When I thought of moving he PERSONALLY researched the neighborhood I was considering. Whenever anyone in my family has had a medical issue he PERSONALLY got me in touch with someone who knows who the best doctor would be. I once needed a lawyer, he PERSONALLY made sure I got a good lawyer.  I have HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of such stories. Many I cannot tell publicly that are simply beyond belief. I am not related to him, do nothing for him, have no money and no connections [the ones I have don't help him] and my father is not a big Chasidishe Rebbe. He also knows all of my faults. So why him and nobody else? I think it is simple. He wakes up in the morning with the determination to help everybody in every way he can and NULLIFIES his ego and personal desires.

I am not writing this to "brag"  that "my Rebbe" is the biggest tzaddik. There are many tzadikim around and I encourage people to get close to as many tzadikim as possible. I am writing this to demonstrate that if a person has a LEV TOV then he finds time for everybody.

If I am wrong I urge you to contact me and set me straight. This is an issue where I feel that so many people just don't get it.

I was recently writing stories about Rav Genechovski. He was such a pure soul that he couldn't bear to tell anyone anything that would cause them discomfort. He would never say "you are wrong" "just the opposite" [farkert] or other terms of endearment that are so common in the rhetoric of the Beis Medrash. A Rov once gave a shiur and came to a halachic conclusion that Rav Genechovski felt was in error. He KNEW that the Rov was wrong. He couldn't bring himself to publicly correct him so he remained silent. He then wrote him a letter thanking him for the shiur and told him how impressed he was that he came to the conclusion that ... and then he wrote the opposite of what the Rav had actually said, as if that is what he understood. He then proceeded to marshal proofs in favor of the Rov's thesis [which in fact was the opposite of what he had said] and thanked him.

Today, I called a certain Rosh Yeshiva. We are on very good terms. He picked up and after a minute told me that he was in the middle of a meeting and has to go. I think he made two mistakes. If he was speaking to some people why did he interrupt to answer the phone?? Right now he is with them and the call can be returned later. It is not derech eretz to interrupt in the middle [just as you don't interrupt one mitzva to do another עוסק במצוה פטור מן המצוה].  Then he made ME uncomfortable by telling me that I called him in the middle of a meeting and he can't talk. Rav Genechovski would NEVER have done that. He would have given the people he was meeting with his full, undivided attention and after the meeting returned the call.

We should all be zoche to walk in the path of the true tzaddikim:)!

Response To Post On Ignorance

I print this email response to my recent post not because I agree or disagree but because I believe that other people's opnion have no less validity than mine. The writer asked to remain anonymous so he will remain so....:)

Shalom. I hope all is well with you.
I read your recent post entitled “The Scandal of Jewish Illiteracy.” When I read it, I could not help but agree with your take of the metzius, that after 12 years of Jewish Day School education there are many (a frightening percentage) that cannot read a pasuk or mishna (forget a Gemara!) without the aid of Artscroll, etc.
But now that a few days have gone by, I feel the need to disagree with certain points you made in the post.
First of all, I found a flaw in your whole mashal with the car. Let me digress for a minute with a story. After Rav Elyashiv zt”l passed away, there were many articles and obituaries in papers across the spectrum. One chiloni reporter, I believe it was in Ha’aretz, wrote that Rav Elyashiv was the leader of a large number of frum Jews, and therefore we must evaluate him not only on the personal level, but on the community level. He therefore thought it was appropriate to list what he thought were the “problems” that were facing the frum community and to see what effect Rav Elyashiv had in mitigating those problems. What he viewed as problems were people learning Torah instead of getting a job, serving in the army, etc. etc. I assume I do not need to elaborate. As you can imagine, Rav Elyashiv did not “help” with those problems, and therefore this article concluded that Rav Elyashiv was a failure.
The absurdity of this author (in addition to the audacity of being the one to judge Rav Elyashiv) was that he assumed the goals that he had for the charedi community were the same ones that Rav Elyashiv had, and therefore when Rav Elyashiv did not achieve those goals, he was deemed to be a failure. In reality, as you know, Rav Elyashiv’s goals for the community may have been the OPPOSITE of this chiloni writer, and therefore he may have been very successful in his goals for the community (in addition to leading by example in many other areas). Yehi chelki imo.
Why did I bring that up?
You assume that the goals of Jewish day school education in America are to make people able to read Gemara on their own, without the aid of any tools or crutches. Because they fail in that goal, the education is compared to a car that does not move – useless! Why do you assume that is the goal of Jewish day school education?!? Whether that SHOULD be a goal (and for legitimate reasons) is another discussion. But there is no scandal here if that is not even a purported goal. Or if it is their goal, it is only a secondary (or lower) goal, and therefore the education cannot be considered useless.
Without thinking to speak on behalf of the schools, I would imagine that many of the schools don’t judge their success stories based on the ability to learn Gemara without Artscroll, but on whether, after all the years of education, they have an INTEREST in maintaining contact with their Judaism. Do they want to marry Jewish? Do they want to give their kids a Jewish education? Do they want to go to Israel to learn for a year or two? Will they want to be active in the Hillel on their college campuses? Will they contribute to the Jewish community (with time or money) in the future? Are they proud to be Jewish? Do they have enough basic Jewish knowledge to continue to be religious or know how and where to find those resources? In my view, most of the schools have those goals as their main goals. Many also have a goal of inspiring them to continue their Jewish education (to quote some teachers and principals I’ve spoken to: “Just like they would not stop their secular education after 12 years, and opt to continue it even when no one is forcing them to, we want them to opt to continue their Jewish education too”). In other words, there are schools that consider it a success (dealing in the binary world of success or failure) when their graduates go to Israel for the year. So the fact that it is now up to the yeshiva to make sure the students can read a Rashi without the Artscroll does not factor in to whether they achieved their goals. Many schools see their role as providing a Jewish education together with a secular one, as otherwise these kids might be in a public school etc. So the fact that “a very minute percentage of day school graduate [sic] become talmidei chachomim” is not necessarily a failure of not achieving its goals when the school’s main pressure from its parent body is to make sure that their kids get into Ivy League colleges so they can become successful doctors, lawyers, or businessmen.
Again, I’m not saying Jewish literacy should not be a goal. I’m just saying that very often it is not one of the goals or expectations of graduating students.
Second, without having done any sort of scientific study, the problems of not being able to read a Gemara properly exist with a “charedi” yeshiva education (at least in America) as well. I don’t think it is only a problem with what you call “the Modern ones.” I spent a few years going through many different chavrutot who had such an education, and I found it too frustrating to learn with many because of a lack of familiarity with how to read basic lines in the Gemara. If a guy reads “ein hachi” stops to sort of translate, and then reads “nami" as part of the next sentence (even when they use the phrase “ein hachi nami" as part of their casual parlance), or reads “mai kamashma” separate from “lan” that shows that he does not have the necessary background. This surprised me, because many of these bnei Torah had attended schools where they had years in which they learned Gemara for 4-5 hours a day, were in top shiurim (knew a ton of Torah), and were bright in other areas too. Somehow, this skill of knowing how to break up phrases that appear CONSTANTLY in the Gemara, or knowing FREQUENT Rashei Teivot, eluded them. These were students who spent their lives in real black hat yeshivot. Somehow, the same guys who would make me feel inadequate because they knew the “famous kashya of the ketzos” on the sugya, “the famous Tosafot,” or the “famous machloket” did not know how to read as well as I did.
Three, I object to the notion that there are not currently yeshivot dealing with this issue. I do agree that it is not as ubiquitous as it should be, and it does not happen across the board, but it does exist. In the yeshiva where I learn, there are 2-3 shiurim that new shana aleph talmidim are put in (the “lowershiurim) that focus specifically on this issue! But I do think that many more need those shiurim than go in it (from my few years of experience, not as many of you as course, I see students who went into those shiurim far surpass those who did not (who were in the “high” shiurim), specifically because the others need it too!). But the effect can be readily seen just by learning with one of them at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the year. But again, I don’t believe that is a goal of many yeshivot!!! Many see their goal as emphasizing the importance of learning Torah, so that when the students leave yeshiva they will want to continue learning (albeit part-time in most cases). So if they knew that 100% of their students would do daf yomi with Artscroll every day until 120 they would be ECSTATIC. They achieved their goal! Halevai…
Four, I found it interesting (this is from your follow-up post: Ignorance – The Sequel) that you judged being “halakhically observant” based on “shmiras einayim.” Unless that is a euphemism for something (like “not owning a TV”) and not actually referring to guarding your eyes, I don’t think there are very many “halakhically observant”people in the whole world! Yechidei segula, that’s it! Ashrecha if you are one of them, but I don’t think it’s possible to walk the streets of even Yerushalayim (let alone cities in the US). Charedi and modern alike are confronted with this issue. Imagine if I defined “halakhically observant” by whether they ever speak lashon hara. Would there be anyone left?
To sum up, what you are proposing is a change to the goals of the educational system, not an assessment of their current success rate.
I look forward to hearing your response to what I wrote. Tell me I’m wrong…
Kol tuv

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Don't Judge By Color

February is "Black History Month" and it is also chodesh adar [which mean "happy times"] and today is the yahrtzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu who married a black woman [according to the simple meaning of the text]. So I feel compelled to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr. [please say it out loud in the unique African American sing-song].

"I have a DREEEEAM of a time when a man will not be judged by the color of his skin... but by the size of his BOOM BOX!"

Love you guys. Thanks for laughing with me:).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Birthdaaaayyy!!

Today was the greatest day of my life! My son Simcha'le turned 10. He is my favorite child as I explained here. I don't just love him, it is far beyond that - they haven't invented a word for how I feel about him.

To make matters better, tomorrow is my father's birthday. HAPPPPPY BIRTHDAY DAAAAADDDD!!!!!!! Biz a hindrit un tzvuntzik gitte zisse gezunte yoren!


Reading Between The Lines

There were two Chassidic leaders, the Ropschitzer and Rimonover Rebbes, who were old friends since their youth but who were so busy with their own respective congregations, they found few opportunities to stay in contact and see each other, despite living in nearby cities. Their only contact was a weekly letter that the Ropschitzer Rebbe sent to the Rimonover and its response.
Between these cities was a forest, and every Friday, the regular attendant (shammas) of the Ropschitzer would be sent to transport a letter in a sealed envelope to the Rimonover. In return, the Rimonover would send a response letter, also in a sealed envelope.

This system went on for years. For all that time, the attendant transported the letters, imagining all the mystical secrets that the letters contained. Being the carrier of such important letters made him feel prominent, and enabled him to continue in this burdensome task.

Finally, the attendant's curiosity got the better of him. He could no longer control himself and had to know what was in the letters. One Friday, while traveling in the depth of the forest, he carefully opened the Ropschitzer's letter and was shocked at the contents, or lack thereof. What did the letter say?
'To my dear friend, the holy Rimonover Rebbe,' followed by a full sheet of blank paper, signed 'Your dear friend, the Ropschitzer Rebbe.'
The attendant couldn't believe it. For all these years he was carrying an empty letter! He comforted himself with the thought that for sure, the Rimonover's response letter must have some important contents. So, he carefully sealed the original letter and delivered it. The Rimonover gave the attendant the response letter and again the attendant checked the contents while deep into the forest and found that the Rimonover's letter was identical to the Ropschitzer's.
The attendant was fuming. He had to let off his steam to his Rebbe, the Ropschitzer, despite the embarrassment of his having opened the letters.
"Rebbe," the attendant said, "I refuse to carry your weekly letter to your friend the Rimonover anymore! I opened the letters this week, hoping to discover mystical secrets, but found them basically blank! What kind of a game is it to send me walking for miles to offer an empty letter! I will not be taken for a fool anymore!"

The Rebbe responded, "I understand your frustration and I am not upset at you. But please understand, the letters you have been carrying all these years were indeed letters which contained profound messages. You see, when two people have a friendship as deep and as close as the Rimonover's and me, you don't need to write out the words. We understand each other so perfectly well that all we need to do is read between the lines!"

Ignorance - The Sequel

Two responses [slightly edited] to the post about illiteracy in Jewish day schools:
I loved the illiteracy post and from personal experience I found the examples you gave about the "high level gemara shiurim" to be so accurate.  When I was in shana bet I still had no idea at all how to read gemara.  Based on my understanding, there are probably 2 reasons (which you probably know) why yeshivas are like they are. The first is that like you said, the magiddei shiurim know how to learn and probably wouldn't want to give "basic" shiurim.  The second reason is I think a historical one, the students of the traditional European yeshivot came in knowing how to learn on a high level and the shiurim that were given reflected this assumption of a significant amount of preexisting skills and knowledge.  Many of the yeshivot now a days are based on that same model, but now the students don't have the same background in learning.  So basically the student population changed, but the style of the yeshiva and level of the shiurim didn't.
Sort of like going into a yeshiva day school and giving shiur in yiddish because that's the way it was done in the old country.....

Also one other thing is that, from my experience, it's not only that the kids don't understand WHAT they are doing, (davening, learning etc.), and therefore resort to inappropriate amusement.  It's also that the kids don't understand WHY they are doing it.  I don't know many high school (or even post high school) kids that could: 1)Explain on more than a very superficial level why they believe in G-d. 2) Feel emotionally connected to Him.  Part of the reason for this is that Machshava/Hashkafa isn't really taught and even when it is, it's usually taught, like the rest of limudei kodesh, as another course with grades just like the secular subjects.


I really wanted to start a yeshiva to redress this wrong. Hope someone else does it...:)

And from the other side of the mechitza:):
I read your post on your blog about the illiteracy being perpetuated by the modern day schools. I just want to say I passionately agree with everything you said and I have personally experienced this....  And that's when I realized that my day school ripped me off because they never gave me the best part of Judaism which is a relationship with Hashem! Besides the fact that most of the boys can't read a Gemara to this day, or the girls can't understand a Rashi.... almost none of my classmates who went to seminary and yeshiva after high school know how to have a real relationship with Hashem. Some think they know what "being religious" is and reject it and decide not to care about certain things as time goes on but they don't realize that what they're rejecting isn't it!. No one ever showed them how beautiful the Torah is, and the amazing relationship a person can have with Gd! They think its just learning Gemara and not talking to girls and not using a slotted spoon on Shabbos, and if thats how it keeps getting presented in the schools, then we are just shooting ourselves in the foot (maybe thats being too nice).
My point is, I wholeheartedly agree with you, and I talk about this A LOT and it really upsets me that my classmates think they know but they have NO IDEA that they only have half a picture and I don't know what I can do about it and this is a seriously HUGE problem and much harder than showing kids who grew up secular the emes.
Interesting. What percent of day school graduates are fully halachically observant? That includes negiya, shmiras einayim, davening 3 times a day [trying to make minyanim]. I would say 5 percent or less. And those five percent don't know a lot of halachos because they were educated to be ignorant [I like that phrase "educated to be ignorant":)]. But at least they care. Then kids go to Israel and many are inspired. Then they go back to college and lose everything and end up like they were before Israel. Then they get married and have children who repeat the same pattern [my childhood friends have started sending their kids to Israel].
So what can we do about it? Maybe for a future post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Scandal Of Jewish Illiteracy

Imagine the scene: You buy a car for 250,000 dollars!! That's a CAR!:) Business must be awfully good these days. You pay the salesmen [who is now going to Hawaii] and try to drive home. You put the keys in the ignition and .... nothing. Doesn't move. You try again and the car moves a little bit. You keep trying and after 45 minutes you arrive home. The problem is that you live a five minute WALK from the car dealership. You return [by bicycle] and demand [with a smile] a refund. They refuse. "Too late, sir. You already paid. We are really sorry. No refunds." Something tells me that you are not going to buy from this dealership again and will raise QUITE a ruckus.

That was only a mashal. I am talking about Jewish day school education. After TWELVE YEARS of Jewish Studies that costs in excess of 250,000 dollars most of the students are NOT JEWISHLY LITERATE. They cannot READ HEBREW correctly without vowels. With vowels they read with the proficiency that a second grader reads English. They also cannot comprehend what they are reading. They don't know Tanach or halacha and certainly not gemara. IS ANYBODY TALKING ABOUT THIS?? It is in my mind the biggest scandal around. Most scandals involve one or a handful of errant people. This scandal is preserving the illiteracy of tens of thousands of children and as time progresses more and more. In the last 25 years that I have been involved in education, I have seen very few exceptions to this rule. Almost no kid can translate the siddur. If you don't believe me, pick out random passages and ask the average high school kid to translate them. פנות צבאיו קדושים רוממי ש-די. Ask.

A problem that arises in the wake of this situation is that kids don't want to learn or daven because they don't understand what they are doing. Then they find other sources of amusement. BIG PROBLEM.

This problem is perpetuated when they go to Israel for the year. The shiur Rebbi gives them a complex gemara shiur when THE KIDS CAN'T EVEN TRANSLATE THE MODEH ANI much less read a gemara. It is like I go into my son's third grade classroom and start lecturing on advanced calculus. HEEEEEELLLLOOOOOO - Start with addition and subtraction. This baffles my mind and I know it is going on as we speak. I used to ask the boys what they learned in shiur and 99 out of a hundred times I got a fuzzy answer: "Biiiiig machlokes!" "What is the Machlokes?" "You know, Ktzos- Nesivos". "Of course. What do they argue about?" "Yeush" "What is their argument?" "It's really complicated. There is a tosfos." "What does tosfos say?" "It was a long tosfos". "What does the gemara say?" He gives me a blank look. What does it matter what the gemara says when you learn a complex machlokes achronim [which of course is based on the tosfos which is based on the gemara]. [When I would ask the Rebbi what he said, he understood, so at least SOMEBODY got something out of it].

After a year or two in Israel the kids come home AND STILL CAN'T READ. They are then thrown into a shiur [if they are still learning in a yeshiva] where the Rebbi starts presenting them complexities which they have to memorize for the test. Ninety nine percent [or close to that] of the students will not continue learning this way after they leave yeshiva, so what's the point? Those who continue learning will learn simple gemara-rashi which they will continue to have trouble reading. Is our goal to finance Artscroll??!!

I once wanted to start a program in a yeshiva to learn "gemara" without all of the fancy stuff and was told that only the weak students would be allowed to join. Strong students are advanced beyond that. What is fascinating is that many of the students on the top shiurim of yeshivos [I talk of the "Modern" one's] CAN'T READ. A wonder. I promise that I am not making this up. [I thought I would do something about it with a new yeshiva but that is history, BARUCH HASHEM. Why have something new when there are so many inadequacies with the old:)].

A very minute percentage of day school graduate become talmidei chachomim. A very large percentage stop learning seriously somewhere in their early twenties.

And it's our fault....

Is anyone listening??

[PS - If it sounds like this bothers me - it does].

Connecting The Holy And Secular

Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg - Shabbat Bi-shaabato Teruma 5773
"Make the Tabernacle out of ten curtains of twisted linen..." [Shemot 26:1]. The length of each curtain was twenty-eight Amot and the width was four Amot. "Five curtains should be attached to one another" [26:3]. Rashi explains that the curtains should be sown in two sets of five each. The two large cloths that were thus formed were then joined together by hooks and loops. One may ask about the point of this division. If what was needed was to have one piece of cloth forty Amot long, all ten curtains should have been sown together, and if it was necessary to have two separate pieces of cloth, why were they attached with hooks?
Sforno implies that since the two halves of the cloth were attached with the hooks at the line of contact between the holy area and the Holy of Holies, they are meant to show us that while the two areas in the Tabernacle are at different levels of sanctity, they are not to be separated. Covering the entire roof with a single cloth would have meant that there is no difference between the holy area and the Holy of Holies. On the other hand, using two separate cloths to cover the Tabernacle would have meant that the two levels of holiness are completely separate and opposite to each other. So the two pieces were neither sown together nor left kept separate but were attached with hooks and loops.
We can learn a lesson from this – there is a difference between the holy and the secular levels, but they are not completely separate. There is mutual contact between them, and they cannot exist totally separate from each other, in the same way that the body and the soul depend on each other's existence.
We must take this idea into account now that we are rebuilding our national life. While it is true that the author of "Chemdat Halevavot" wrote that "the more the physical settlement increases, the greater will be the destruction of the intellect," the Chatam Sofer explained that this refers to the situation outside of Eretz Yisrael. Within our land, everything that is built is within the framework of a mitzva and preparation for holiness. What is needed is to know the proper proportion. As is written, "The Holy One, Blessed be He, took hold of Yeravam by his cloak and said to him, 'Repent, and I, you, and the son of Yishai will walk together in the Garden of Eden' (Yeravam would be involved in secular matters, and David would be involved in holiness). But when Yeravam asked, 'Who will be in front?' the answer was, 'The son of Yishai will lead.'" [Yalkut Shimoni Melachim I, 202]. That is, the secular will serve as a basis for the holy.
As Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook said, "Differentiation is not separation." I heard him say that one time when he was on a ship he met the poet Chernikhovshy, who asked if he wanted to hear a new poem that he had written. After he read the poem, Chernikhovsky noted that Rav Kook had listen with rapt attention, and that he was surprised that a rabbi was so interested in a nonreligious poem. Rav Kook replied that many of the poets in the nation wrote secular poetry, and that the holy and the secular are not disconnected from each other. Separation exists only between the holy and the impure, and ritually impure material cannot enter the Temple (and Rav Kook took this opportunity to criticize poems Chernikhovsky had written that included impure ideas).
My weekly parsha sheet, here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Can Identify:)

There's a myth that all you need to do is outline your vision and prove it's right—then, quite suddenly, people will line up and support you.

In fact, the opposite is true. Remarkable visions and genuine insight are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. Products, services, career paths... whatever it is, the forces for mediocrity will align to stop you, forgiving no errors and never backing down until it's over.

If it were any other way, it would be easy. And if it were any other way, everyone would do it and your work would ultimately be devalued. The yin and yang are clear: without people pushing against your quest to do something worth talking about, it's unlikely it would be worth the journey. Persist.
Seth Godin
Source: The Forces of Mediocrity
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.

Robert Frost
Source: Civilization's Quotations: Life's Ideal

Accept Yourself

"You are a perfect person for who you need to be, right here and right now. The person that you are, currently, is the product of all of the choices and experiences you have had previous to this moment. There is no possible way for you to not be the person you are, right now. No doubt, some of the choices you have made led to unintended consequences. You may have regretted the outcome of those choices. But who you are now is who you are supposed to be."

Rebbe Tzadok Hakohen in the Tzidkas Hatzadik explains that even our aveiros were the will of Hashem because nothing can be accomplished against His will. Teshuva is appreciating that and knowing that everything is from Hashem - אין עוד מלבדו. If you realize that, you made a true tikkun and will not sin again.

Sorry that I have to contract topics which require voluminous books into a short post...

Monday, February 11, 2013

We're Flying!

I have not been blogging much because I have been so busy with Yeshivas Skype-Elchanan. Baruch Hashem enrollment is full!! I only wish I had more than 24 hours in the day and didn't have to sleep. The concept is brilliantly-simple - No tuition, no dorms, no food, no bills, no fundraising expeditions, no politics, no competing with other yeshivas, no recruiting [just a blog post and an email and we were Baruch Hashem there]. Just Torah-Torah-Torah. Among the topics being studied - Masechtos Megilla, Gittin, Ksubos, Sfas Emes and lots of laughs.

FORTUNATELY [!!!]  - Shiurim from the Yeshiva will be on-line. With one young man I learn Gittin, so I decided to invite Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz, the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, to give a Shiur Klali on the topic of Breira. Sadly, he couldn't make it so I read the notes one of his talmidim took from his shiur and tried to clearly explain the profound and thought provoking sugya based on those notes, here.

It is soooooo gratifying when something actually works out well:).

The Shake



A Freilichin Choidesh:)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Watch How Rashi Dances

This shiur and the continuation in this shiur are NOT normal. A completely new way of looking at the gemara. On Maseches Megilla  which is a good preparation for Purim. Reb Tzadok Hakohen writes that the light of every holiday is found in its Maseches. Which puts one in a quandry - What Maseches does one learn to prepare for Yom Ha-atzmaut.

שמעו ותחי נפשכם!

Note: When I praise as shiur I don't intend to praise myself but the Holy Sweet Torah. Shlomo Hamelech already said יהללוך זר ולא פיך. Let others praise you but don't praise yourself. But I may say that the Torah is the BEST.

Friday, February 8, 2013

New shiur on קים ליה בדרבה ליה , wonders of wonders.

New Shiur On Maseches Megila

A wondrous iyun shiur on the sugya of kedusha rishona kidsha li-shyta which not only a local lesson in the sugya at hand but is also a lesson in HOW to learn gemara/rashi, here.
Bi-siyata di-shmaya:).


My weekly parsha sheet that circulates in the neighborhood, here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

נטלי בת שושנה

Nataly bat Shoshana needs a refuah shleima bisoch shear cholei yisrael.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hating Evil

There is a video of a speech by a politician that has gone positively viral. It has been appearing and reappearing in my inbox. It is hailed as being "brilliant" and that it is "vitally important" to watch this video. A very popular religious blog run by Orthodox Rabbis featured a transcript of the talk. For better or for worse, I read it. My thoughts?

I think people have gone positively BANANAS!

He is a Mechalel Shabbos which means that according to Jewish law he has the status of a GOY. If he moves a bottle of wine I may no longer drink it as if a goy had touched it. He has done many sins for which he is חייב כרת which means that he is cut off from Hashem [a בועל נדה is חייב כרת - you think his wife goes to mikva?]. He is UNQUESTIONABLY a Rasha with a capital R.

How can I judge another human being? Indeed, ultimately it is G-d's job to judge others but in this world we must know who is evil in order to keep a distance. A long distance. So when davening we should ask Hashem to have mercy on him because he never received a Jewish education and he is a complete ignoramous. We can pity him for being a spiritually empty person. But practically speaking, he deserves scorn and  disdain and not the respect of religious people who are so excited that he admitted that the Charedim "won".

Dovid Hamelech said הלא משנאיך השם אשנא - I hate those who hate You. Rabbeinu Yonah writes that one who views others keeping mitzvos in a negative light is classified as a "hater of Hashem". If he could - he would close down every yeshiva in the country. If he could - he would turn this whole country into an assimilated, secular country. A sonei Hashem [if he believes in Him - he certainly doesn't believe in Torah Mi-sinai which means that he has no portion in the world to come] par excellence.

He is a politician and realizes that it is impossible to completely secularize the country so instead he says that he want to build bridges between secular and religious. We ALSO want bridges. We want every Chiloni to cross the bridge and come to our side.

In his speech he told Charedim how they should educate their children and what the curriculum should be. WHAT A CHUTZPAH!!! A complete ignoramus who wantonly tramples on a daily basis upon all that is holy for us is telling us how to teach our children.

His speech was anything but brilliant. I wrote a rebuttal but I will not reprint it here because he doesn't deserve that respect. In all likelihood he didn't write it himself anyway. Maybe he made a valid point or two but that was all part of his insidious plans to undermine the foundations of Torah-true life in Israel. All sheker must contain a grain of truth.

Should Charedim work? CHAZAL in numerous places said that a good Jew goes to work. For that we don't need Yair Lapid שר"י. But who should learn and who should work and how we educate our children and where we live is a question that should be decided by the leaders of our generation, the Tzadikim and Chachmei HaTorah and not by him. I am SHOCKED that he was given a public forum to speak to a Charedi school of higher education in Kiryat Ono [I can't imagine that it is all that Charedi because most Charedim probably never even heard of Kiryat Ono].

May he and we all do Teshuva Shleima and live lives of  dveikus bashem, kedusha, tahara and may our children grow up to be talmidei chachamim, baalei middos tovos, ohavei Hashem vi-sonei ra.  

Love and blessings!!:)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Yeshiva!

Wow is Hashem great!

In the end, I AM having a yeshiva!!


But a yeshiva without headaches. Without having to recruit and compete with other yeshivos [how can Hashem be happy when his children compete against each other], without having to be sent away by high schools being told that new yeshivos aren't welcome, without having to fund raise in order to cover expenses involved in laying the groundwork for the yeshiva and then to receive an email from a donor demanding his money back [which comes out of my pocket:)], without having to worry about food, dorms, tiyulim, salaries, etc. etc. and yet more etc.

Sound like a fantasy? It's real. The yeshiva already opened up!!


It's called "Yeshivas Skype-Elchanan". The concept is very simple: A man or men skypes with me, we open up a sefer and learn. Everybody gets to choose their own subject matter whether it be gemara bava metzia, sfas emes al hatorah or virtually [pun intended] anything else. There is no charge [for now]. Just LEARNING TORAH li-shem shomayim. Now, when you open up the dictionary and find the word "AWESOME" there will be a description of "Yeshivas Skype-Elchanan". Enrollment is almost full already. All one has to do to be accepted is to be male [any age], Jewish and have access to a computer [until enrollment closes]. The idea is the brainchild of my close friend and confidante HaRav Yoel Rakovsky Shlita and Baruch Hashem we have already started.

הודו לה' כי טוב כי לעולם חסדו! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

New Shovevim Shiur

A shiur for anybody with a yetzer hara, here

הוצז"ל and other critical issues.

How We Determine If It Is A Good Question

A big principle from Rav Gustman ztz"l: Many times the rishonim answer a question with the words ולא קשה מידי or לא קשה כלל and other times they answer with the words ויש לומר or ויש ליישב. Why do they use different terms?

The underlying premises that led to a question may ALSO be a correct understanding and approach to the sugya [even though the question is answered]. In such instances the rishonim will say ויש לומר or ויש ליישב. However, in other instances there is a fundamental misunderstanding that led to the question. In such a case, the rishonim will say ולא קשה מידי or ולא קשה כלל.

ספר הליכות ישראל בהקדמה

Sunday, February 3, 2013

רחל בת שרה

Refuah shleima Rachel bas Sara. Elderly lady who had a stroke and is in a lot of pain רחמנא לצלן
Wonder of Wonders:)

Super Day!

I was informed that today is the SUPER BOWL!!!!!!

Go Dolphinssssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!! Whup those JETSSSS!!!!!

A shiur for your half time entertainment, here.

Seeing The Word Of Hashem

Re the recent post on seeing the auditory, a good Yid sent me the Meshech Chochma [Chukas] which is a gem. I thank him.

. והנה רצה השי"ת שכן בדיבור אל הסלע יראו בני ישראל הדיבור האלקי, אשר יוצא מגרונו של משה - ששכינה שרויה בתוכו - איך הוא פועל בסלע, ויהיו רואים את הנשמע, ויהיה להם זה לחיזוק האמונה מעין המעמד הנכבד, אשר רצה השם, שיהיה קודם כריתות ברית בערבות מואב. ולכך צוה שיהיה גם אהרן, דהיינו תרי שושביני (זוהר ויקרא נג) [שושבינא דמלכא משה, שושביני דמטרוניתא אהרן]. ולהורות מוסר לבני ישראל, כי הסלע הוא מתפעל מן הדיבור האלקי. והמה המרו את רוחו, והדיבור האלקי לא פעל בהם להיות נכנעים לעבודתו יתברך ולעשות ככל מוצא פי ה'. ולפי זה היה מהיאות כי בני ישראל יכינו את עיניהם להיות פקוחות לראות את הדיבור האלקי, ויקדשו חוש הראות לראות דבר קדשו. וזה (פסוק ח) "ודברתם אל הסלע לעיניהם" - שיכינו עיניהם. אבל משה מכעסו על העם אמר (פסוק יו"ד): "שמעו נא המורים", ולא צוה על הכנת חוש הראות, ולכך לא פעל הדיבור האלקי מאומה, והיה צריך להכותו, וזה עון למעלת משה, לא לזולתו. וזה דרך קרוב לפשט לפי עניות דעתי. ואין לתפוס כי הדיבור היה ממשה, כי זה לא יסופק, שכבר אמרו חכמינו ז"ל (זוהר פנחס רלב): שכינה מדברת מתוך גרונו של משה. וזה היה להם לאות כי השכינה היא שרויה בקרבו, וכל מה שמדבר בשם השם, הכל הוא כשומע מפי הקב"ה. ולכן בודאי היה בזה חיזוק האמונה בלבב בני ישראל. "ולא האמנתם" הוא פועל יוצא - שלא השרישו אמונה בלבב בני ישראל. ודייק בכל זה

New Shovevim Shiur

A shiur for Shovevim on the Koach of Teshuva even for the pgam habris here.

Chap a rein! Shovevim is almost over.
An interesting article on the purpose of Medrashei Chazal here.

New Shiur

A shiur on Shovevim - serving Hashem Bi-simcha, here.

Is that my topic or WHAT???

Saturday, February 2, 2013

אחת שאלתי

Two pshatim in a pasuk [or drushim] that I saw -

אחת שאלתי מאת ה' אותה אבקש שבתי בבית השם כל ימי חיי

Dovid Hamelech says - One thing I ask of Hashem that I seek, that I sit in the house of Hashem all of the days of my life.

Did Dovid want to be a Kohen? Too late, he was born a Yisrael. So how can he sit in the house of Hashem [the Beis Hamikdash] all of the days of his life?

The Slonimer Rebbe: Dovid was saying that even when he is in his house, he wants it to be the House of Hashem. He should have a holy home. [You can use that as a sheva brachos or aufruff vort:)].

In a similar vein: Many people live double lives. When they are learning or davening they are good and pure. However, when they get to the outside world and find themselves in mid-town Manhattan, all of the sudden their darker, more goyish side emerges. So Dovid prays - אחת - I want to be ONE. These contradictions drive me BESERK. My request of Hashem is that I should be ONE. Completely pure - no matter where I find myself.

Gevaldik or WHAT???:)

New Shiurim - שמעו ותחי נפשכם

Shiur on the mikdash and keilim in lomdus and machshava, here . Deeeeppp.

Shiur bi-iyun on sugya from this weeks daf yomi, here.

New shiur from Pachad Yitzchak, here . GESHMAK!

The Maharal explains why "Finders keepers, losers weepers", here.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Big NEWS! My 2 year old Chana Leiba started her career today as a bilingual Israeli. Gila said to her מה את רוצה?  and she said "What you waaaant".

So Israeli:).

Seeing The Auditory

A MOREDIKE vort I saw today. Chazal say that at Har Sinai the Jews SAW the קולות [sounds]. How do you see sounds? It was a supernatural experience [and I'm a guy who likes to eat super natural food so I can appreciate it].

In Kedusha [nusach sefard] we say that when the geula comes [as opposed to recently when I came to the Geula. The place, that is..:)] הוא ישמיענו ברחמיו שנית לעיני כל חי - He will have us hear to the EYES of all the living. There we have it again. Seeing what is heard.

Or a pasuk ונגלה כבוד השם וראו כל בשר יחדיו כי פי השם דיבר - The glory of G-d will be revealed and everyone will SEE that Hashem spoke!

Something else!
"Love may be or it may not, but where it is, it ought to reveal itself in its immensity."