Friday, February 28, 2014


You know those annoying emails you get? Well, quite often there is a trick. You can "unsubscribe". I was thinking how I can unsubscribe from my yetzer hara....

But then again, I wouldn't want to. The yetzer is the mother of all creativity. The word "yetzer" means creator. You and I are only here because two people had a yetzer. We just have to learn to harness all of our creative faculties such as speech and action for the good.

לזכות אברהם מרדכי בן נעכא גיטל

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Things Aren't Always As They Look On The Surface

The sfarim teach us that when it says מלך in the megilla, it refers to the King of the world. That means that a secular word has a deeper, holy meaning.

The gemara relates that the Jews didn't want Purim to be a day of forbidden labor. This is because Purim is a day that should look secular on the surface but on a deeper level it is holy.

According to this line of thought we can say that on Purim a person looks on the surface as if he has no daas but on a deeper level he is FILLED with daas.

[Sefer Zikaron of Maran Baal HaPachad Yitzchak Page 100 - See there how he said it beautifully in Yiddish].

On Purim we read מגילת אסתר and we [literally] reveal the hidden [מגלה ההסתר] and perceive that things aren't as they appear on the surface.

לזכות אברהם מרדכי בן נעכא גיטל

Divine Providence - Pretty Dogs - Stupid Sofas - A Nice Chossid

I have been in New York for almost two weeks and as always, there are so many things that I have experienced that have shown me the Yad Hashem. It is simply AMAZING. I wish I could share all of my stories but I will not both because of how busy I am and because of the private nature of many of the stories. Suffice it to say, that I try to live with an oft repeated principal of the Holy Sfas Emes, namely, that if you live you life with the clarity that Hashem is running the show, He will show you with certainty that He does.

One small story: The other day I was in a neighborhood and didn't know where to go. It was night, it was dark, I didn't have a phone and had to get somewhere fast. What I really wanted was to meet a certain close friend, but how could I possibly find him? I walked to his house but he wasn't home. His wife tried to reach him but he didn't answer. I left the building into the cold night and started to walk.

All of the sudden I hear someone calling from a car "Rebbi!" It was none other than this good friend who gladly drove me the five minutes to my destination [I didn't know how to get there so it would have taken me 2 days...] and picked me up as well. Of all the people in the UNIVERSE....... AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!:-)

I also see FUNNY things. I find it hilarious that here on the Upper West Side, the dog capital of the world, they have a "beauty parlor" for dogs to keep peoples dogs looking their best:-). "Muffin, you look gorgeous today!! Who did your hair??"

They are having a "stupid sofa sale" in a local store where "the sofas aren't stupid but the prices are".

Last night I saw two old ladies who were debating whether to cross the street at a red light. I politely opined that since it is dark and the cars are moving really fast, it is not a good idea. They readily agreed and as I walked away, I heard one lady say to the other "A nice chossid!"


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

For The Love Of Money

The Gra in Mishlei [5/ 9] on the pasuk אוהב כסף לא ישבע כסף [he who loves money never is satisfied with money] says that the תאוה for money is different than all other תאוות. When someone is hungry and eats, afterwards he is no longer hungry. When someone receives the הנאה of מעשה אישות, afterwards he is satisfied and [at least for a short while] has no תאוה for more. However, when someone has a תאוה for money, even as he is receiving the money and right after as well, he has the desire for more. It is NEVER enough.

אוהב כסף לא ישבע כסף.

לזכות אברהם מרדכי בן נעכא גיטל

Great Shiur

Amazing shiur on Purim from the Rebbe Shlita, here.

Does Hashem Forget?

Chazal say that Hashem "forgets" the cheyt ha-eigel but doesn't forget the receiving of the Torah. Many commentaries wonder why He forgets one and not the other. One explanation is that the Torah was given with the word אנכי. One doesn't forget HIMSELF. The real "I" of the Jewish people is the giving of the Torah. All sin and particularly the sin of the golden calf was an external one time failing which can and should be forgotten. The giving of the Torah related to the essence of the Jewish people which cannot be forgotten.

There is a great lesson here in how to relate to others. Not based on their external behaviors but on their true self which is really the נשמה שנתת בי טהורה היא - The pure soul which Hashem "blew" into us.

Rav Hutner [Purim 1970] explained that we sinned with the eigel only once while the receiving of the Torah happened twice - on the sixth of Sivan [Shavuos] and at Purim time [Shabbos 88]. What happens a second time is not to be forgotten while a one time event is.

לזכות שמואל אלכסנדר בן נעכא גיטל 

Taking Esav's Wine

The gemara says that Ovadiah HaNavi prophesied against Edom because he came from there and therefore their destruction was done as an "inside job" [מיניה וביה אבא ליזיל בה נרגא - See Sanhedrin 39b with Rashi that it is compared to someone who cuts down the trees in the forest with an axe whose handle is made from a tree grown in the forest].

Esav sold his rights to the bechorah because he feared that if he drinks wine and serves Hashem by bringing the korbanos [as the bechoros used to do], he would die [as the the law for those who serve after drinking -שתויי יין]. So Esav sold the bechorah and received his wine. Now he could drink to his hearts delight.

On Purim we fulfill the mitzva of erasing Amalek [Esav's descendant] by taking his wine and drinking it.

An inside job. We use HIS wine to erase him.


[Maran HaRav Hutner ztz"l at his Purim Seuda 1970]

לזכות אברהם מרדכי בן נעכא גיטל

Na'aseh Vi-nishma On Purim

We all know that on Purim the Jews received the Torah for a second time [Shabbos 88]. However, we don't find a proclamation of נעשה ונשמע as we do in the first Kabbalas Hatorah. Why not?

Because on Purim after we fulfill the נעשה ["doing" the mitzva of the day and celebrating] we are in no state to fulfill ונשמע [hard to listen after so many li-chaims].


[Rav Hutner at his mesibas Purim 1970]

Monday, February 24, 2014


Life is simply time given to man to learn how to live. Mistakes are always part of learning. The real dignity of life consists in cultivating a fine attitude towards our own mistakes and those of others. It is the fine tolerance of a fine soul. Man becomes great, not through never making mistakes, but by profiting by those he does make; by being satisfied with a single rendition of a mistake, not encoring it into a continuous performance; by getting from it the honey of new, regenerating inspiration with no irritating sting of morbid regret; by building better to-day because of his poor yesterday; and by rising with renewed strength, finer purpose and freshened courage every time he falls.
William Jordan
Source: The Power of Purpose, pp. 22-23.

Be Open And Ramaz-dik:-)

[From the Jpost]

Students of a Jewish modern orthodox upscale high school in New York City are demanding that the administration permit its political society to host the noted Palestinian-American academic Professor Rashid Khalidi after the head of the school barred his appearance.

The controversy erupted earlier this week when the anti-Zionist blogger Mondoweiss reported that the Ramaz day school had nixed an appearance by Khalidi, who was invited to the Manhattan campus by the student-run political society.

The move angered some students, who were moved to circulate an online petition that called on the Ramaz headmaster, Paul Shaviv, to reverse his decision.

“I believe it is critical that Ramaz students are exposed to different perspectives and that open dialogue be encouraged at Ramaz — not limited,” the petition says. “I call upon Head of School Mr. Shaviv to realize how important academic equitability is to the Ramaz community and reverse his prohibition on Professor Khalidi’s address.”

Khalidi, a professor at Columbia University, was born to a Saudi-Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother. According to the Jewish Telgraph Agency, Khalidi was an adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization during the Madrid peace negotiations in the early 1990s. Khalidi has generated controversy in the past for stating that the Palestinians were legally entitled to resist Israel’s occupation by targeting soldiers.

In a statement issued to JTA on Friday, Shaviv said he was working with students to “navigate a delicate political situation, respecting their wish for open exchange of ideas, but also being mindful of multiple sensitivities within our varied school constituencies.”

The statement from Ramaz said, “The issue is not whether or not students should hear another view – they should. Our question was: ‘Is this the appropriate program?’”

The school’s administration said it believed the controversy would “massively overshadow any conversation and would make an educational experience impossible,” and that Khalidi was not the right partner for dialogue with high school students. Shaviv said he met with Khalidi and amicably explained the situation to him, and Ramaz’s statement said the school is “working with the politics club to arrange an event that will provide the program content they originally envisaged.”

Khalidi says that the Arabs should "target" soldiers meaning that he says that they should kill them. These highly-intelligent-over-educated-minds-filled-with-poisonous-liberal-anti-Jewish-values that are also Yiddeshe neshamas need a lot of tfillos. Fortunately, many of the students learn in Israel after high school and are de-toxed from the noxious fumes that they have ingested. Would they also invite Himmler or Goebels or even Hitler? Freedom of speech.

Why doesn't the school just say that Khalidi is a rasha and there is no freedom of speech to spew hatred and venom?? Shaviv said he was working with students to “navigate a delicate political situation, respecting their wish for open exchange of ideas, but also being mindful of multiple sensitivities within our varied school constituencies.” What type of gobbledy-gock is THAT? What about giving an education grounded in a strong sense of non-relativistic morality? And why did he "amicably" meet with Khalidi? Why be amicable with people who promote murder of Jews?? If you don't educate that there is evil in the world that must be eradicated - you perpetuate it.

And do you think the student council would invite Satmar Chasidim from Williamsburg to present their anti-Zionist and Charedi attitudes? What about inviting Rav Mattisyahu Solomon to share divrei mussar? Why is freedom of speech limited to those who don't deserve it??

And for this type of education parents pay 25k plus a year.


See this video posted by my dear friend Reb Chaim, especially from the 52 minute mark [as he wrote].

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Koach Ha-tumah

The Tolna Rebbe Shlita has the ability to look at a person face and discern whether they have contaminated themselves by looking at pritzus. I once saw him talk to a teenager who was very careful about these matters and he exclaimed with certitude "Wow - you guard your eyes so well!" Knowing this boy [a student] extremely well I can attest to the fact that he was spot on [despite the young man's other spiritual weaknesses].

Recently I was dealing with a troubled youngster [the child of a friend] and at a certain stage, I saw a change in his face. It was frightening - I could see the tumah! I asked a few questions and found out that he had recently become involved in watching pornographic content.. Scarrrrrrrryyyyyyy. I don't have ruach ha-kodesh. The mishna in gittin says בפני נכתב ובפני נחתם - Literally "On the face it is written and on the face it is signed". Your actions and thoughts make an impression....

Tumah and tahara are not abstractions - they are as real as the computer [or other contraption] you are using.

No - more real.  


Monday night [tonight] shiur for women: 8 South End Court, Woodmere 8pm.
Topic: Do quick fixes fix?

Listen To The King

The pasuk says in the megilla ונשמע פתגם המלך ... וכל הנשים יתנו יקר לבעליהן - The word of the king was heard and all of the women gave honor to their husbands.

Said the Gerrer Rebbe the Beis Yisrael: If a husband listens to the word of the King of the world, then his wife will listen to him. If a man is doing what he should then his wife respects him so much more. Respect is probably the most basic building block of marriage.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Go All The Way

"A person is chayav to drink on Purim until he doesn't know the difference "between" cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai".

So many people strive in ruchniyus for ..... mediocrity. Haman and Mordechai were both "extremists". Haman an extreme rasha and Mordechai an extreme tzadik. A person should drink until he doesn't go "between" Mordechai and Haman - he shouldn't be mediocre, he should go all the way. Make a choice in life as to what is right and wrong and become the greatest person you can be.

[Sefer Hachodesh Asher Nehefach]

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Good News And Bad News

Michael and his family made the exciting decision to make aliyah to Israel. Michael had had a few health problems in the past, so as soon as he settled down in his job he looked for a new family doctor. Being that he had a very comprehensive health history, he thought it would be wise to bring along all of his medical paperwork for his first check up with his new doctor.

After browsing through the extensive medical history, Doctor Chafetz stared at Michael for a few moments and said, "Well there's good news and bad news. The bad news is, your medical history isn't very promising. The good news is that you look better in person than you do on paper.”

Must Army Be A Must?

This to me is similar to the girl-wearing-tefillin-question which means that this post should get a lot more hits than normal:-).

Where do we stand with respect to contemporary Rabbinic authority? Do we maintain that the "cannon" was closed 500 plus years ago and therefore contemporary gedolei yisroel have no more say or do we believe that even today our great sages guide us in applying the eternal Torah law on to present day situations? I firmly subscribe to the latter approach. Every generation is different and that is why Hashem provides us in every generation with tzadikim who know what the law and spirit of the Torah dictates.

My intention is not to define who the true gdolei yisroel are - that is usually decided by Klal Yisrael. Rav Moshe Feinstein wasn't elected democratically as "King Of The Jews". Because of his sfarim and shiurim, people realized that he was a top gadol bi-yisrael. And so numerous others until our day.

Here is an article from a Rosh Yeshiva of a hesder yeshiva on the obligation to serve in the army. I preface by saying that I studied for 13 years in a yeshiva where all of the Israelis served and I hold soldiers in very high regard for their self-sacrfice on my behalf and on behalf of the Jewish people. That does NOT mean that everybody should serve. That is a question for gdolei yisroel.

The Army: Volunteer, a Mitzva, or an Obligation
From the days when our state was established until today, the Israel Defense Forces have acted exactly as the name implies. The IDF is responsible for defending the country and its citizens, and for fighting back against those who attack us and try to destroy us. Any war that the IDF fights is clearly defined as a "War of Mitzva" – a commandment by G-d. Therefore, the first thing we must do is to clarify if every Jew is personally obligated to participate in this War of Mitzva.
In the portion of Ki Teitzei, the Torah gives a list of soldiers who are sent home and are not expected to fight in a war. The Sifri derives from the opening phrase, "If you go out to war" [Devarim 20:1], that this is a case of a "Voluntary War" (since everybody must participate in a War of Mitzva, without exception). In the Mishna, after the laws of those who are sent home from war, it is written:
"What case is this? It is a Voluntary War – but in a War of Mitzva everybody must go out, even a groom from his room and a bride from her wedding canopy. Rabbi Yehuda said, What case is this? It is a War of Mitzva, but in an Obligatory War everybody must go out, even a groom from his room and a bride from her wedding canopy." [Sotta 5:7].
The Babylonian Talmud explains that Rabbi Yehuda disagrees with the other sages and feels that only in an Obligatory War everybody must participate but not in a War of Mitzva, when a person who is performing another mitzva is allowed to continue what he is doing and is not required to go to war. Rava defines the different types of war:
"The War of Yehoshua to conquer the land is an Obligatory War according to all opinions. The war of the House of David to expand the boundaries, is a Voluntary War according to all opinions. The disagreement is about a war to reduce the number of idol worshippers so that they will not attack. One calls this a mitzva and the other one calls it voluntary." [Sotta 44b].
The Rambam defines the difference between a mitzva and an obligation:
"There are mitzvot which a man must pursue until he can fulfill them, such as tefillin, succah, lulav, and shofar. And these are called an obligation, because a person must always make an effort to observe them. And there are mitzvot which are not obligatory but are similar to avoluntary act, such as mezuzah and fencing in a roof. In this case, a person is not required to live in a house in order to obligate himself to perform the mitzva. If he wants to live all his life in a tent or on a boat he is allowed to do so, and he is not obligated to build a house so that he will be able to put a fence around the roof." [Hilchot Berachot 11:2].
Rabbi Yochanan (in the Yerushalmi, also quoted in the Babylonian Talmud), explains that Rabbi Yehuda and the other rabbis do not disagree, they simply used different terminology to describe the same phenomenon. But according to Rav Chisda, there is a definite disagreement. According to the sages Yehoshua's war of conquest was an obligation and David's war of expansion was a mitzva, while Rabbi Yehuda feels that a war where the enemy attacks us is an obligatory war, while when we attack the enemy it is a voluntary war. This means that Rabbi Yehuda does not feel there is an obligation to participate in a preventive war.
However, this seems to be quite problematic. If we do not preemptively attack an enemy our lives will almost definitely be in danger. Why isn't there an obligation to do a preemptive strike? As is written in Or Zarua with respect to desecrating Shabbat when Gentiles are placing a siege on Yisrael, "Even if they have not yet come but we hear that they want to come – Shabbat should be desecrated."
Defense and Attack
In both the Babylonian and Yerushalmi Talmud, it seems clear that if an enemy is poised ready to attack and there is therefore a direct security risk, any war will have the status of an obligation. Rabbi Yehuda only referred to a case where we initiated the war against an enemy and control the battle. A preventive war is a mitzva in any case, according to the Or Zarua, but the law that everybody must go to battle, as in a case where we have been attacked, is not in effect.
The halachic basis for this case is discussed by the Chazon Ish:
"It would seem that the law that even a groom leaves his room in a War of Mitzva does not involve a case where the people are needed for victory in a war – since it is obvious that in the case of a mortal danger and in order to rescue the nation everybody is required to participate. However, even in a case where only a specific number of people are needed... a groom can be taken from his room, since in a War of Mitzva nobody is allowed to leave the battle and return home." [Chazon Ish, Eiruvin, Likutim 114].
The Rambam rules in Hilchot Melachim (85) that helping to save Yisrael from an attacker who rises up against them is a War of Mitzva. As such, the king has the right to force the people to join him in fighting. This is because the laws of returning home from battle are relevant for a Voluntary War, but in a War of Mitzva everybody must come. In addition, the Rambam rules, "If Gentiles put a siege on cities of Yisrael... Every Jew who is capable has a mitzva to go out and help his brothers, who are under siege, and to save them from the Gen
tiles on Shabbat..." [Hilchot Shabbat 2:23].
"Heroes Coming to the Rescue with the Help of G-d"
In modern times, the routine task of the army is to prevent terrorist acts and to be prepared for a future war against the Arab countries, which want to destroy the State of Israel. Thus, the point of joining the army is to be ready for a war, which is definitely a War of Mitzva, with the purpose of saving Yisrael from an enemy. It is therefore very clear that the law that "everybody is conscripted" applies to all the people. Any proposal whose purpose is to cancel the obligation that "everybody is conscripted" and to transform the IDF from "the people's army" into a "hired professional army" is contrary to the instructions of the Torah. For such a proposal, the curse of Devorah the Prophetess is relevant: "Curse Meroz... Let its inhabitants be cursed because they did not come to the aid of G-d, to help G-d and His heroes" [Shoftim 5:23].
Devorah implies that coming to the aid of the people is the same as coming to the aid of G-d, since the wars of Yisrael are a War of Mitzva. We will end with the words of Moshe to two and a half tribes, "Will your brothers go to war while you remain here?" [Devarim 32:6].
Everything written above is true. HOWEVER, all of these sources were known to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and in his yeshiva the students didn't serve [nor did his children]. Rav Moshe Feinstein [in Igros Moshe] also held that one should preferably go to yeshiva and not the army. No Chasidic yeshiva sends or encourages army service. Rav Ovadiah Yosef fought very hard to annul the mandatory draft. He said that it hurts him more than the death of his son Rebbi Yaakov! The list goes on and on. So of course the sources indicate that there is an obligation to serve in the army, but ALL of the gdolei yisrael [to the best of my knowledge] maintain that in the contemporary circumstances, it is better not to serve. Rav Shteinman and others made exceptions for boys who dropped out of yeshiva and were roaming the streets. For them a religious unit is the preferred option. Other gdolim such as Rav Shmuel Auerbach disagree vehemently and feel that under no circumstances should a boy [and certainly girl] serve in the IDF.
I don't agree!!
I also don't disagree!!
I am a nobody. Expressing my opinion against the gdolim is like a person who reads the Science Times insert of the New York Times and then advises his surgeon on the various options for a successful surgery and treatment. Too little knowledge and experience for his opinion to carry weight. 
One of the 48 Kinyanei Torah is אמונת חכמים. It is critical to believe that the tzadikim and gdolei Torah know more that the average man. Otherwise the Torah is transformed chas vi-chalila into a silly website or blog where everybody offers their uneducated opinion.
I think I know why the gdolim were so against army conscription but that is not the topic of this post.
I also add that this does not diminish my respect and adulation for our chayalim. But respect and agreement are two different things.  
Hashem yishmor tzeisam o'boam may-atah vi-ad olam.

If You Missed It...

Last night's shiur, here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

New Shiurim

Mevatlim Torah for Mikra Megila, here.
Insights into the sugya of Mishloach Manos, here

Great Video

Peanuts and the Chassidic Psychiatrist, here.

Receiving Torah

Many years ago a young yeshiva bochur suddenly apeared at Yeshivat Hakotel on Rosh Hashana night. He asked the Rosh Yeshiva [Rav Hadari] if he could eat there. The Rosh Yeshiva asked him where he was from. The boy explained that he was learning in Yeshivas Netzach Yisrael in Rechavia under HaRav Gustman [ztz"l] and he had been set up by the yeshiva to eat a meal at the home of a certain family. He didn't trust the kashrus of this family and told the yeshiva this. The Rosh Yeshiva promptly expelled him from the yeshiva. If you don't trust us to set you up with a family that keeps kosher, explained the Rosh Yeshiva, then you have nothing to find in this yeshiva [in Hebrew they say אין לך מה לחפש פה].

This Motzaei Shabbos I was at the tisch of the Tolna Rebbe Shlita. I was sitting near a boy who had never been there before and learns in one of the top yeshivos in the world. He whispered to me "What is the hechsher of the food here?". I answered that I don't know.

What maybe I should have answered was "If you don't trust the kashrus of the Rebbe Shlita, then what are you doing here?? We are all here to learn from and absorb the kedusha of the tzadik. If in your mind he might not even be religious enough - then you should be spending your time doing more constructive things, like sitting in the beis medrash."

In order to be mekabel from someone - it is critical to have respect for the person, both religiously and otherwise. Having a Rebbe or Rov is critical - but the sine qua non is to be a proper כלי קיבול [receptacle].


For those interested - My number for the next week and a half in NY is 212 799 1124.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Refining The Material World


Tonight begins Shushan Purim Kattan. Shushan Purim reflects an increase and an ascent to a higher level beyond that of Purim. First Purim is celebrated in unwalled cities, and then, there is a more elevated celebration of the holiday in walled cities, the latter celebration being referred to as Shushan Purim.

The name of this holiday requires explanation. We find that the celebration of Shushan Purim was instituted in connection with Eretz Yisrael. Our Sages decreed that Shushan Purim be celebrated in the cities that were surrounded by walls at the time of Yehoshua's conquest of Eretz Yisrael. In this manner, they "paid respect to Eretz Yisrael," giving its walled cities the honor given to Shushan even though they were destroyed at the time of the Purim miracle. Nevertheless, the name of the holiday is connected, not with the cities of Eretz Yisrael, but with a city in the Diaspora, and furthermore, the capital city of Achashverosh, king of Persia (and thus the capital of the entire civilized world). Even if originally the holiday was instituted because of the events in Shushan, the name could have been changed afterwards. The use of this name, however, reflects the completion of the Jews' task of refining the material environment of the world. To explain: There are several levels in the fulfillment of this task. For example, the transformation of mundane worldly things to articles of holiness. On a deeper level, there is the transformation of influences which previously opposed holiness into holiness. The latter process often involves several phases and occasionally, there is an interruption between them. The most complete expression of the task of refinement is when this process of transformation takes place immediately, without interruption. We see a parallel in the service of teshuvah, which is not a step by step process of ascent, but rather a radical jump. Similarly, the exodus from Egypt involved such a radical leap, and thus our Sages borrowed the verse "leaping on the mountains, springing on the hills" to describe that redemption. Similarly, in regard to the matter at hand, Shushan Purim shows how Achashverosh's capital was transformed into a positive influence, indeed, an influence so great that it is connected with the celebration of Purim in the walled cities of Eretz Yisrael. Furthermore, this concept is accepted by all people. When a person is asked, "What is the second day of Purim called?" he will respond, "Shushan Purim." Moreover, this name is printed in siddurim (in regard to the days on which tachanun) is not recited, indicating its connection to every Jew, regardless of his spiritual level. For every Jew, even the most simple uses a siddur. Purim itself represents a great process of transformation, demonstrating how even within the period of exile, great miracles can transpire on behalf of the Jews. Furthermore, Purim is associated with a level of transcendence so high that there is no difference between "Cursed is Haman" and "Blessed be Mordechai," i.e., that Haman can be transformed into a positive influence greater than Mordechai.The latter concept is reflected in the fact that the Hebrew phrase meaning "Cursed is Haman" begins with an alef, the first letter of the Alef-beis. The Hebrew phrase meaning, "Blessed be Mordechai," by contrast, begins with a beis, the second letter. This relates to the concept that the narrative of the Creation begins with a beis, the first letter of the word bereishis, i.e., a beis represents perfection within the natural order. The alef, by contrast represents a state of perfection above the natural order. Thus "cursed is Haman," reflects a descent for the purpose of ascent. From Haman, a drastic descent, we ascend to a great peak, an infinite level above that of "Blessed be Mordechai." Thus Purim itself is associated with the process of the refinement of our material environment. And on Shushan Purim, we reach an even higher level within this process. Our Sages associate the concept of Mashiach with children, interpreted the verse, "Do not touch My anointed (Meshichoi)" as a reference to children who study Torah and emphasize how it is in their merit that the existence of the world is maintained. This shows how important chiunch (education), is. In this context, we can understand the verse, "Educate the child according to his way so that even when he grows older, he will not depart from it." On the surface, the verse is problematic: Why is the fact that an elderly man continues in the path he followed as a child praiseworthy? The intent is, however, that a child's education should provide him with a foundation on which he will grow and develop until he reaches the level of a wise man. Similarly, in a spiritual sense, although age -- and the wisdom with which it is associated -- is a high level (indeed, it relates to the unlimited dimensions of G-dliness represented in the thirteen plaits of the beard), youth represents a greater advantage. This is reflected in the verse, "Who will arise on behalf of Yaakov, for he is small?", i.e., the motivating force prompting positive influence on behalf of Yaakov is that he is small; he possesses the quality of bittul, "My soul will be as dust to all." This quality is the foundation for all positive attributes. And "dust" will lead to "the dust of the Sanctuary," which was used to in the process of the purification of a sotah, allowing her to resume relations with her husband. This purification process can be seen as an analogy for the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people during the exile. For it is certain that the Jews are above blemish and the exile is merely a test which, as the purification process of a sotah, will lead to increased blessing.
Our Sages relate that if a woman who was tried as a sotah would give birth to girls beforehand, after her trial, she would give birth to boys. Similarly, in regard to the Jewish people, after the "trial" of exile, their level will parallel that of males, i.e., they will sing a new song (as reflected in the masculine form of the Hebrew word for song, shir). And in this song, we will be joined by "those who lie in the dust" who "will arise and sing." And together, we will proceed immediately to the ultimate Redemption, a level immeasurably above the exile and above even all previous redemptions. At that time, all matters will reach a level of perfection.

Purim Kattan


Every day of the year has its own unique quality, and when a Jew is told about the special character of a particular day, it encourages him to accomplish more on that day.

The day of Purim Kattan (the 14th of Adar I) should be viewed as a precious guest. Frequent guests deserve polite attention and hospitality, but when a guest arrives, who has not come for a long time, then he deserves special attention. In the 19-year cycle of regular years and leap years we have 19 Purims, but only 7 Purim Kattans. So, when Purim Kattan comes we truly have an infrequent and rare guest which deserves special attention. How must we appreciate and savor every moment of this rare and precious day? We must truly utilize it for special activities. This special treatment will also include the following night, for in the case of Purim the following day is Shushan Purim, and in the case of Purim Kattan it is Shushan Purim Kattan so the night of the 15th is still part of the holiday. There is a strong connection between Purim and Purim Kattan. As the Mishnah teaches: There is no difference between the first Adar and the second Adar save only in the reading of the Megillah and the distribution of gifts to the poor. (Megillah 6b) In all other matters it would appear that both Purims are the same, with Purim Kattan retaining the quality of being first! The theme of both is, of course, the Jewish victory over their enemies: And it was turned about: the Jews gained the upper hand over their adversaries. (Esther 9:2)So much so, that: "Many from among the people of the land professed themselves as Jews" (Ibid 8:17). While the others were overcome with the "fear of the Jews," and deferred to the Jews (exalted them), because "the fear of Mordechai had fallen upon them" (Ibid 9:3). At the Exodus from Egypt, Moshe also admonished Pharaoh that he would have to give his Egyptian flocks to the Jews to use as sacrifices when they would leave Egypt! So Purim Kattan carries this influence of evoking and eliciting the assistance and cooperation of the nations for the Jewish people. In the year 5687, the Previous Rebbe delivered the Chassidic discourse, "V'Kibel HaYehudim" on Purim Kattan, in the largest synagogue in the capital city of Russia, before a huge crowd. He did not give consideration to the dangers involved, and, as we discovered later, he exhibited superhuman self-sacrifice. The ma'amar itself discusses the reaffirmation of Kabba-las HaTorah (receiving the Torah) on the part of the Jewish people, in the time of Mordechai. This came about through the mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice) of Mordechai in conjunction with the Torah studies of the small children. Their Torah and self-sacrifice nullified the decree of Haman: Out of the mouths of children and sucklings You have fashioned an invincible put an end to (destroy) foe and avenger. (Tehillim 8:3) The ma'amar goes on to say that the education of the children is necessary as the foundation for the future existence of the Jewish people: "If there are no kids, there will be no he-goats" (Esther Rabbah, Proem 11). As you educate the child so will he grow and develop and so will he teach his children, and they, their children, forever. Thus, it is this dedication to educating the young generation which represented the essence of the reaffirmation in the time of Mordechai -- with an eternal force -- so that "the remembrance shall not perish from their descendants" (Ibid. 9:28). The "children and sucklings" referred to in the ma'amar are infants and nursing babes (as is evident from the commentaries). The dedicated educational foundation given to such young children, e.g., when their mothers sing to them lullabyes about the greatness of Torah, will set the foundation for their proper upbringing and foil and destroy the enemy. The Previous Rebbe stressed the importance of Jewish education at that time and did not show any fear of the enemy that hovered over him, emphasizing that the work would bring the results of destroying the enemy. In fact, he explained, that those who were previously foes would be converted to become allies and assist in the holy work. Consequently, all of Torah would be reaffirmed in the broadest possible way. With this in mind, we may derive the lesson and theme of Purim Kattan. If there should arise "a foe and avenger" against Yiddishkeit, Torah and mitzvos, not only must we not lose hope, but we must also increase our activities in all areas of Yiddishkeit. Start with establishing the "invincible might" (through raising babes and sucklings to all aspects of Torah) which will automatically "put an end to (and destroy) the foe and avenger." And, in fact, just as "Many from among the people of the land professed themselves Jews," during the redemption of Purim, similarly, the foe will be transformed, and assist you in spreading Torah. From this we may also project, that even partial independence also carries with it the characteristics outlined here. The exile of Babylon did not end until the Jews returned to Eretz Yisroel at the end of the 70 years. Yet, when Chananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were saved from the fiery furnace, Nevuchadnetzer and his ministers were very much aware and influenced by the miracle -- a partial redemption also has its influence. Similarly, when a Jew, in the golus, feels himself free and pursues his goals of Torah and mitzvos, then, because the "servant of the King is like a king," and being that he is serving the King -- he is truly in a state of freedom. This will lead to the ultimate redemption. First we will reach the redemption of Purim, when Mordechai became great and the condition of the Jews improved, to the point that soon after the miracle of Purim the work on the Bais Hamikdosh was started again (in the days of King Darius). Then we will bring close the redemption of Purim and Pesach to the ultimate redemption:As in the days of your coming out of the land of Mitzrayim I will show them marvelous things.
(Michah 7:15)
May all these forces be utilized in the proper manner, to become a partner with the Holy One, Blessed be He, and to reach the level of "ad d'lo yoda," beyond understanding and measure, which is the theme of Purim, but which will be even stronger on Purim Kattan, because of its rarity. May this all bring to action, from now into the future, from the redemption of Purim Kattan to the true and ultimate redemption, through Dovid, King Moshiach, speedily and truly in our times.


"Purim Kattan" is also called the "fourteenth of Adar I" in the Gemara. Therefore, when we choose to use the term "Purim Kattan," we are emphasizing that it has an aspect in which it is "smaller" than Purim.
 On the one hand we say it is "smaller," which would seem to indicate that it is less important than Purim. On the other hand the Gemara says: There is no difference between the first Adar and the second Adar (meaning Purim and Purim Kattan) save only in the reading of the Megillah and the distribution of gifts to the poor. (Megillah 6b)This would seem to indicate that in all other matters the two Purims are equal. Add to this the fact that we call it the "fourteenth of the first Adar" which would seem to say that it is "first" in importance. Interestingly, Purim has in common with Pesach that they both have a "small" partner. Purim has Purim Kattan and Pesach has Pesach Sheni (Kattan). Except, that in the case of Purim, the small Purim is first (more important). G-d created the world in a manner of giver and receiver. Nothing is completely independent, but everything must rely on something else, sometimes. This provides us with the opportunity to do good, by being benevolent to others, and it precludes jealousy in creation. Therefore, the adage,Who is wise? He who learns from every person,
(Avos 4:1)
means that even a great scholar, who usually finds himself teaching others, must also keep his eyes, ears and mind open to learn from others who are actually less wise than he. Since everything was created for the glory of G-d, it follows that everything in existence can contribute something which another creature cannot give. Now if G-d's honor and glory is enhanced by the contribution of a particular creature, certainly man must be ready to gain from everyone and everything. If so, Purim Kattan, although it may be "small," certainly has something important to contribute. By coming first, Purim Kattan opens the gate and makes it easier to follow through with the Divine service of Purim later on. It also provides the opportunity for Purim to introduce new aspects, subsequent to, and in addition to the theme of Purim Kattan. In a sense, it serves as a training day for Purim. Now, by giving encouragement and enthusiasm a month ahead, on Purim Kattan, all of the themes of Purim will be richer and stronger. And, although this could be done in a normal year as well, we see that there is a distinct advantage when the motivation is clothed in a Purim format, on Purim Kattan. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Too Much Light

R' Moshe Shalit

"Purim Katan" (the date of Purim in Adar I) provides a good opportunity to take a look at a Purim story told by the sages, according to the surprising interpretation by the Rebbe of Lubavitch.
Rabba and Rav Zeira both got drunk on Purim. "Rabba rose up and slaughtered Rav Zeira." The next morning, Rabba asked G-d for mercy, and he was able to bring Rav Zeira back to life. The following year, Rabba again invited Rav Zeira to the Purim meal, but he refused, saying, "Do not expect miracles to happen all the time." (See Megillah 7).
Is this Story Reasonable?
(1) Can it really be true that Rabba actually performed such a serious act and murdered Rab Zeira, just because he was drunk? Is this the end result to be expected from the intoxication on Purim?
(2) When Rabba saw what he had done to Rav Zeira, you would have expected him to become sober immediately because of the shock, and to try as hard as he could to revive him. Why did he wait until the next morning?
(3) How did Rabba dare to invite Rav Zeira again the next year? Did he want to have a "Happy Purim" like the previous year? And what about Rav Zeira's answer, that he was afraid to come because they could not be sure that a miracle would take place? Does that mean that if they could be sure that there would be a miracle Rav Zeira did not mind being killed again?
Entering Safely and Getting Out Again
It can happen that there is such an abundance of light that a human being is not capable of handling it. The Holy Or HaChaim uses this concept to explain the actions of Nadav and Avihu, who "entered the Tabernacle intoxicated from wine." They were on a "high" from their actions dedicating the Tabernacle, so they drank out of enthusiasm, and broke into the Tabernacle. As a result of the great light that was revealed to them there, their souls left their bodies. They simply "lost their souls" and they died from their close contact with sanctity, "When they approached close to G-d" [Vayikra 16:1].
And that is what happened at the Purim Meal of Rabba and Rav Zeira. Rabba was in possession of very broad spiritual tools (the name "Rabba" implies a large expanse), while Rav Zeira's capabilities were more limited ("Zeira" is from a root meaning small).
When the two rabbis drank wine on Purim, when the mitzva is to drink "until they do not know," their souls were revealed. They rose up without limit in their love of G-d and their yearning to be close to Him. Rabba drew Rav Zeira up to a very high spiritual level, beyond his usual capability, by revealing to him extremely deep secrets of the Torah. While Rabba could tolerate the great light and continued to rise to even greater heights, Rav Zeira was not able to sustain his position. His soul left him because of his great desire to be close to G-d, and he died.
(The Talmud notes that the act of slaughtering an animal "is not killing but drawing it out" [Chulin 30]. The act of slaughtering is a way to raise the animal up to the level of a human being, by eating its flesh.)
The Soul Agreed only Once
During Purim one must be in a state of "not being able to know." One must leave behind all the usual tools. Rabba did not see any problem with the way Rav Zeria acted. Only after the end of Purim did Rabba make an effort to revive Rav Zeira, and he succeeded. The main miracle was the fact that the soul agreed to return to the body and did not insist on continuing with the great attachment to G-d which it had experienced.
The next year Rabba once again invited his beloved friend, Rav Zeira, since he believed that his friend had expanded his abilities and would be able to encompass the powerful secrets that would be revealed during their drinking. But Rav Zeira was afraid because he was not sure that he had advanced to such a stage, and he feared that once again he would die. If that would have happened, it was doubtful that he would once again experience a miracle and that his soul would agree to return to earth.
As for the rest of us, the vast majority of Yisrael, we do not have to fear that we will rise to heights where we will "lose our souls." We are not at such a high level that we can reach a stage of clinging to G-d, and we are therefore not limited in the joy of our Purim feast.

Give To Get Rich?


Meaning [in my words]: You are all a bunch of lousy narcissists! You can't just altruistically give money to hungry children. It is also not enough knowing that it will give you life in this world and the next [guaranteed]. That's all "spiritual" fantasy stuff. But you might win 100 thousand dollars!!

AHHHHHH - now you'll give.

Oyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy - how low have we sunk. [Spell check doesn't seem to like the word "Oyyy"]

The goal - Just do what is right because it's right. Drop the ego and self-enrapture for a few minutes, discard personal interest and be Godly. Money isn't everything. Give some away and it should be so sweet you'll want to give more.

השיבנו ה' אליך ונשובה

PS [unrelated] - To those girls from seminary x in Yerushalyim who told their teacher to tell me that they avidly read the blog, I received the message and thank you for saying so and for your visits to our humble home at mevakesh. May Hashem fulfill all of the desires of your hearts li-tova.

The Case Of The Destroyed Computer

Someone once saw his friend on the street and he was with his dog. He asked "Does your dog bite?" The man answered "No, my dog doesn't bite".
The dog then bit the man.
He said to his friend "I thought you said that your dog doesn't bite?!"
His friend answered "My dog doesn't bite but this isn't my dog".
I remembered that story when I saw this artice by R' Yosef Tzvi Rimon.
Question: A man asked a friend to help him fix his computer. The friend replied, "I am not a technician, but I will help you." When he opened the computer, he saw that the memory was not connected to the motherboard. He reconnected the memory, but the motherboard was destroyed because of a mistake that he made. Is he required to pay for the damage that he caused?
A Professional Worker who does Damage
It is written in the Mishna, "A person is always held responsible for his actions, whether on purpose or by accident, whether awake or asleep." [Bava Kama 26a]. This would seem to imply that the friend must pay for any damage, since in spite of his lack of intention to do harm, "A person is always held responsible." This also seems to be implied by a later Mishna, where it is written that if somebody gives a professional workman something to fix and he damages it, the workman is responsible for the damage:
"If one gives something to an expert to fix and he damages it, he must pay. If one gives a box or a tower to a carpenter to fix and he damages it, he must pay. A builder who accepts a job to dismantle a wall and who breaks or damages the stones must pay." [Bava Kama 98b].
The Mishna brings two examples: A carpenter who receives a vessel in order to fix it and a builder who accepts a job to dismantle a wall and who breaks the stones (instead of keeping them whole, to be reused later). In both cases, the artisan is required to pay for the damage.
As a Favor or a Hired Job?
However, after a discussion in the Talmud (Bava Kama 99b), Rabbi Yochanan concludes that if the artisan is paid for his work he is required to pay for damages in all cases. But if he performs the work without being paid, the result depends on the conditions. If the worker is a professional, then he is not required to pay for damage that was done unintentionally, but if he is not an experienced professional he is required to pay.
Thus, it would seem that in our case, since the man who tried to fix the computer is not a recognized professional, he must pay for the damage.
However, the matter is not so simple. First of all, we must determine why a professional artisan who works for free is not required to pay for damage that he causes. Why doesn't the principle that "a person is always held responsible" apply in this case?
The early commentators do not agree on the reasons for the law.
The Tosafot explain that the professional worker is liable for the damage based on the laws of a person who causes damage, but since he is a recognized expert this occurrence has the status of a case of unexpected mishap, and the man is therefore not held responsible (similar to a case of theft or accidental loss).
The Ramban, on the other hand, feels that this man is not responsible at all, based on the laws of damages. He writes, "a professional who makes a mistake in his work is not considered as one who caused damage." Why is this so? This matter could be discussed at length, but briefly we can say that since he was given permission to do the job, this is not called "damage" at all (see Ramban, Ketuvot 34b; Machaneh Efraim, Financial Damages, 4).
But then why is a nonprofessional who works for free required to pay for the damage? After all, according to the Tosafot, a mishap caused by somebody working for free is the same as a forced event (like a theft or a loss of the object). This implies that one who works for free is not liable to pay for the item. And even according to the Ramban, a worker is not considered one who causes damage and he can only be charged if he was paid for the job (and in that way took on the responsibility for any damages or, if he will be viewed as the same as a paid guard).
This is explained by the SM"A (Sefer Me'irat Einayim) in a case pertaining to slaughtering an animal:
"For free, if the man is a professional butcher he is not required to pay. Since he is experienced and does not usually cause damage, we say that the bad luck of the owner led to the problem with the slaughtering. But if he was paid for his work, he should have taken greater care." [306:13].
That is, when the person involved is a professional, we can assume that he took all the necessary precautions. Then, if there was some damage, the problem can be attributed to the bad luck of the owner, and the worker is not directly involved. But when the worker is not a professional, we can assume that he evidently did not have the necessary skills to do the work properly and he should not have agreed to do it. If a problem occurred, it evidently stemmed from his lack of expertise, and it can therefore be considered as willful damage! This also seems to be the opinion of Rashi in this matter – that a nonprofessional should not agree to slaughter an animal if he knows that he might fail in the work.
"I am not a Technician"
The Talmud tells us (Bava Kama 100a) that Reish Lakish showed Rabbi Elazar a coin in order to determine if it was a good Dinar or not (not counterfeit, and so on). Rabbi Elazar told him the coin was a good one, and Reish Lakish replied, "Okay, I am depending on you." This implies that an advisor will be held responsible for damages only if the one asking for advice explicitly states that he is depending on the person.
The Raavad adds (Netivot 306:11) that if from the context it is clear that the person depends on the advisor he will be held responsible even if no explicit statement is made. Thus, if the advisor is paid for his advice (or is a hired worker), he is responsible to pay, since this is the same as if the owner explicitly declared that he depends on the worker.
However, if the person explicitly says, "Don't depend on me," he will definitely not be required to pay (SHACH 306:12, in the name of Shiltei Hagiborim).
In our case, the worker did not explicitly say, "Don't depend on me," but he did say, "I am not a technician." If he had not said anything, perhaps he would be responsible even though the owner knew he was not an expert (this is reasonable, since the passage in the Talmud which rules that a nonprofessional must pay did not involve only a case where the owner thought that the man was an expert – see Imrei Hatzevi by Rabbi Tzvi Meir, Bava Kama 99b, paragraph 3. However, if a man declares, "I am not a technician," he has explicitly said that he is willing to try to fix the device even though he is not sure he will succeed. This would seem to be the same as saying, "Do not depend on me."
Therefore, the one who tried to fix the computer in our case is not required to pay for the damage at all, because both sides understood in advance that the friend was not taking on the responsibility of fixing the computer but that he would try as best he could.

The Humility Of Moshe

Li-ilui nishmas ha-yeled ha-tahor Elisha Chanina ben HaRav Aharon Avraham and Chana Mindel

A Dvar Torah I once wrote.....

In Parshat Tetzave we find the strange omission of Moshe's name from the entire parsha. Much has already been said about this and some more is about to be said.

After the sin of the golden calf Moshe told Hashem that he should either forgive the Jews or מחני נא מספרך - erase me from your Torah. This parsha is a minor fulfillment of this "curse". But here the question presents itself - Moshe was such a great, devoted leader. Why does he deserve to have his name blotted out from the Torah? He was just trying to defend his people. 

Here we get to a fundamental point. The Torah relates that the Dor Haflaga [the gentlemen who built a tower. Many years later its twin was erected in downtown Manhattan] said "נעשה לנו שם" - Let's make a name for ourselves. Ever since then in all civilized societies people have been focused on "making a name for themselves", achieving fame and stardom. That is considered the pinnacle of human success. In the world of academia there is an expression - "Publish or perish". If your name doesn't appear at the by-line of an article that basically means that you have ceased to exist. Moshe Rabbeinu was different. He was the most humble of all men. When he pleaded for the Jewish people in essence he was saying "Hashem - Ich bin gornisht [I am nothing. I am certain that Moshe conversed with Hashem in Yiddish]. It's not about me. I am just a vessel, just a faithful servant." A servant is just that - someone who serves, not someone seeking personal glory. Moshe's sole concern was for the glorification of G-d's name through the Jewish people. 

Now we understand. As far as Moshe was concerned his name didn't have to appear in the Torah at all. Hashem in His more than infinite wisdom wanted it there but as a REWARD to Moshe his name was omitted from one parsha. So really this parsha says more about Moshe than any other. Moshe understood that the more self effacing one is the closer he can come to G-d. "Ego" is gematria "chamtz erev pesach". It is soooo not. But they should meet the same fate. Bittul. Nullification.   

Ahhhhh - we take this line of thought a step further. We know nothing of Hashem. All we know of Him is how He relates to the world. This is revealed to us so that we can emulate his ways [which of course is a great opportunity for me to use the word "emulate" which is one of my favorite words]. We spend a lot of time praising Hashem. This is NOT because He has an ego and needs us to constantly inflate it. The reason we praise Hashem is because the more we praise, the more our appreciation of His greatness is magnified which enables us to be elevated above our lowly earthly state. But Hashem Himself doesn't need any of it. On the contrary - he wants to show us that the ideal is achieved when His name is not even mentioned. This is a display of Divine humility [see Megilla ל"א]. 

That is a possible explanation of the mystery of the absence of Hashem's name in Megillas Esther. From His perspective the goal was to save His beloved children and not to "show his stuff". That is why His name is absent and the whole miracle was accomplished through natural means. A clear display of Divine humility. 

In the end, our Torah is called by the Navi Malachi "Toras Moshe". Moshe was self effacing - he ended up with the greatest name of all. The Torah of Hashem was "renamed" after him. Amalek is the arch enemy of Hashem in this world and thus their ultimate destiny is to be completely blotted out. When a nation is solely concerned with making a name for themselves they cannot last. When Haman was approached by Achashveirosh and asked how to give a special person honor he said to himself "Who would the king want to honor more than me." I need not tell you about his ignominious end. [GOOD WORD!!] As it says in Pirkei Avos נגיד שמא אבד שמיה [perek aleph mishna yud gimmel] - one who pursues a name loses his name.

On the yahrtzeit of Moshe may we connect to his soul and follow his ways.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Shiur

The difference between different types of shvuos - the Torah dances! Here.

שמעו ותחי נפשכם!!

The Real Issue

When I was young and too open minded, I used to read Conservative and Reform literature. I wanted to know what they were thinking. One of their methods [I refer to the leadership, the average Reform and Conservative Jew knows next to nothing] was to find a source somewhere and use it to justify unaccepted practices. In other words, you start with a goal of permitting a certain practice and then you get to work trying to find one. Since we have such a vast amount of literature in our tradition, it is usually not hard to find something in your favor, whether explicit or implied.

Off the top of my head I just came up with one:-). Mechitza!! Ahhhh - I so want to pray with my wife and daughters. Why do they have to be behind a wall? WAIT!! The Shulchan Aruch doesn't mention the need for a mechitza for tefilla in shul [to the best of my knowledge], so let's do away with it! What about the accepted Jewish practice of the centuries to have one? No more. The gemara itself only mentions it in the context of the Beis Hamikdash and not a shul. 

But that is not how halacha works. We have tradition, accepted practice and a vast literature. How do we apply them to any given case? That is for the poskim to decide. Not for bloggers. See what my good friend wrote here quoting one of the many bloggers who feels that he is on the level to decide halacha for klal yisrael against all of the gdolei ha-poskim. I don't know this person [I refer not to my friend whom I linked but to the person he linked] but I wonder if he knows shas and shulchan aruch by heart like the Rov with whom he is arguing. Humility is the name of the game:-).

I suggest that we move the focus of the argument from this "women's role in Judaism" issue to something more basic - what can we do to make an entire generation of youth knowledgable about Judaism. After over 20 years of teaching graduates of Modern Orthodox institutions I can honestly say that the vast majority a] can't properly read and translate a hebrew text [including the siddur] and b] are not completely halachically commited [most of them are ignorant of the vast majority of halacha so even if they wanted to they couldn't keep the halacha]. THAT is the issue.

Ramaz and SAR have much much bigger problems than girls who want to dress up for davening like the guys. Many of the students don't BELIEVE IN G-D [as told to me by a graduate of one of these schools] and are so immersed in the technological-secular-permissive world that they don't begin to touch the foundations of our faith and tradition. I used to teach in a post high school yeshiva where they would have an "emunah seminar" in January. The boys would return with their mouths agape. "There is a G-d!! I never realized that before". I PROMISE!! That was their reaction. 12 years of day school education and four months of intensive gemara study and they just realized that there is a G-d.

A good place for these high schools to start would be to stop encouraging them to go to secular colleges. Another step would be to educate the ignorant parents about the damage the Internet is doing to their kids.

These are pure neshmos and we are losing them by the thousands. Who are we losing them to?


Are you listening Rabbis H [I can't spell it:-)] and Lookstein??

Getting Out Of Gehenom

A great vort in honor of the yahrtzeit of the Avnei Nezer here.

New Shiurim

On the significance of the 39 melachos shabbos, here.
Erasing Shem Hashem, here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Golda For Prime Minister? [Important Links At The End]

When Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel, Rav Soloveitchik was asked if it is permitted based on the Rambam who says that women may not be appointed to public positions of leadership. He answered "And to elect Ben Gurion wasn't a question? He was anti religious and it was forbidden to elect him as well. The answer is - they never asked us and we have no responsibility for their appointments".

[Nefesh HaRav Page 90]

In the Israeli government there is a rabidly anti Torah figure named Yair Lapid who leads a major party. In his party, he also has two people who wear kippahs and call themselves "Rabbi", one of them a graduate of Ner Yisrael. The latter went on a tour of North America some time ago explaining why it is so good for Torah and Yiddishkeit that Lapid is in power. It is all in the Rambam! The Rambam says that you must work and charedim don't work. So Lapid, by cutting off funding to charedi families and yeshivos is the only one truly bringing about a fulfillment of the words of  Rambam. What a tzadik! [Don't ask the impoverished charedi families what they think].

The Rambam also says that it is a mitzva to serve in the army so by forcibly constripting tens of thousands of charedim into the army, Lapid will bring about a fulfillment of the great mitzva to serve in the army.

It is a mitzva to learn secular studies, so by making government funding of religious schools dependent upon following a government designed curriculum, Lapid was bringing to a greater appreciation of Yad Hashem in nature and allowing charedim to ultimately fulfill the great mitzva of supporting their families.

The upshot of all of this is that it is NOT Rav Chaim Kniyevsky and Rav Shteinmen who are really following the Torah but this character together with the mechalel-shabbos-ocheil-neveilos-mumar-lichol-hatorah-koola Lapid. That was his incredible claim.

What troubled me was not his stupidity [some would call it רשעות] in ignoring all of the Gdolei Torah and the entire olam Hatorah but that he received a very sympathetic ear from the Anglo-Saxon community including invitations to speak in various shuls.

It must be clear: There is a mesorah and the way it works is that we have big people who are filled with Torah and Yiras Shomayim and they decide what the halacha is in any given situation. Taking random quotes from earlier sources when the conclusions contradict the rulings of the Gedolim is a spiritually fatal error which many people make on a whole slew of issues.

One random example: Since the birth of the State of Israel, there has not been one serious Rov who has allowed women to serve in the army. Yet, an analysis of earlier sources indicate that women do serve in the army. So a certain sector of religious Jews, with no rabinnic heter, encourages their daughters to serve. I once asked a women how she, with her head covered, can ignore all chachmei yisrael? She told me that she learned the sources and concluded that it is a mitzva to serve. Meaning, rabbonim no longer decide halacha. Everybody can decide any question. That is not only foolish but dangerous. In the OU magazine Jewish Action there was once an article celebrating a certain religious female soldier. It was hard, she explained. Everybody in my environment was against it - Rabbis, teachers, family etc. But I persevered and enlisted anyway. What a heroine! She ignores psak halacha and follows her own will:-)!

Sweetest friends! For 3,300 years talmidei chachomim have been deciding how to apply halacha to the given circumstances. How sad to see how many perversions of this principal we see today. Being a principal of a day school doesn't make one a posek. It makes one an administrator:-). People have to know their place. I feel that it is chutzpah to publicly flout Torah authority and pave new ways of religious behavior. The term we have for this is "reform". That is a growing phenomenon in the Orthodox communities both in Israel and America.

I thank my beloved friend R' Jonah Steinmentz for sending me this EXCELLENT article of Rav Schachter on "Partnership Minyanim" and an explanation of the importance of following the chachmei hamesorah, here. An article in English on these minyanim here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

All The Answers

Some adopt a rigid system that answers all possible questions and so you don't have to think beyond its systems.  The other response is much more seemingly fragile but much more expansive, because it doesn't lay down a rigid framework.  It allows you to move within the mystery of it.  And that seems to be flowering right now.  I think people are more and more interested in embracing that because they've been through everything else.  It is a willingness to embrace mystery, a willingness to embrace not knowing, allowing that intuitive awareness to speak.

Source: The Translucent Revolution: How People Just Like You Are Waking Up & Changing the World

You Once Wrote Me A Letter

Curiosity, more than anything else, brought an Israeli journal­ist to a private audience with the Rebbe in 1971. He had been visiting the US, and some of his American acquaintances said that they could arrange an encounter between him and the Rebbe.

Though he lacked the reverence of the Rebbe's followers, he appreciated the opportunity to meet such a great man. When the arranged date came, he entered the Rebbe's study and handed him a note with his questions and requests, as he had been advised.

The Rebbe gazed intently at the piece of paper. "I recognize this handwriting. You have written to me in the past," he said.

The journalist was taken aback by this unexpected comment. "With all due respect," he replied, "I have never written you a letter."

The Rebbe sat in deep thought for a few moments. "There is no doubt that you have written to me in the past," the Rebbe main­tained. As he spoke, he opened the drawer of his desk, took out a piece of paper and handed it to the journalist.

The journalist stared at the paper, stunned. Here it was, a letter to the Rebbe written in his own handwriting. But what is this at the bottom? Someone else had signed the letter.

Then he remembered. A few years earlier, during the Six-Day War, one of his buddies had injured his hand. After the war, the friend had wanted to send a letter to the Rebbe. Unfortunately, because of his injury, he was unable to write. The journalist wrote as his friend dictated, and the injured man managed to sign his name.

The journalist's attitude changed abruptly. The meeting became far more than a curiosity, and he departed far less indifferent than when he had entered.

In the seven years between the writing of that letter and that meeting, the Rebbe had responded to several hundred thousand other letters. Yet the Rebbe had this letter at hand.


[PS - I myself saw this story from an impeccable source]. 

Moshiach Is Mine!

I thank my beloved friend R' Zvi Wietschner for sending me a link to voosiznaeis where this was written.

A recent mussar shmooze in Yidish given by the Tolna Rebbe of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yitzchok Menachem Weinberg, discusses with a sense of humor why Chazal tell us, (Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 1:11) that the third Bais Hamikdash will descend from the heavens, fully built.

“My sons, Hakadosh Baruch Hu knows his yidden.  Imagine for yourselves that Moshiach is coming.  Let’s try to picture for ourselves that we are standing now on a Motzei Shabbos and we all hear the sound of the shofar. Moshiach is here.

“The first thing that we need to do is to rebuild the Bais Hamikdash.  We all know how the chareidi world operates, Baruch Hashem.  Picture for yourselves how this Bais Hamikdash will be built.  Let me tell you what is going to happen.

“The first ones who will enter the picture will be Agudas Yisroel who will say ‘Of course we are the ones who will build the Bais Hamikdash.  We are the ones who worry about all the needs of the chareidi community. Is there any doubt that we should be the ones in charge?’  They will convene a whole assembly of gedolim in order to decide what needs to be done.

“Meanwhile, R’ Meir Porush will come and say, ‘And what about me?  The Agudah represents everyone?  I want this to be under my auspices.’  And then there will be a second group of Rabbonim discussing how to build the Bais Hamikdash.

“The Litvaks will come next and they will start to scream. ‘Gevald! The chasidism should build the Bais Hamikdash?  They will all be dancing because they don’t know anything about the actual halachos of building the Bais Hamikdash.  They will offer to find one Kohein who actually knows the halachos of the avoda. But they will tell us:  “for this part, you are going to need the Kollel Chazon Ish.  For that part you are going to need the avreichim in Brisk.”  What are you, crazy?  We will build the Bais Hamikdash.’

“Then will come Satmar, from both sides, and they will say, ‘You are all Zionists!  You are unfit to build the Bais Hamikdash.’

“The Chabadniks will also get involved.  ‘You are all crazy!  Moshiach is ours!  It is our Rebbe, our Moshiach, what are you talking about the Bais Hamikdash?  You are all insane.’

“You understand that Moshiach will come and, nebuch, it will be another long galus just until we can all agree who will build the Bais Hamikdash.

Therefore, Hakadosh Baruch Hu has made the decision for us saying, ‘Listen to me, my children. It is enough for me that you will come to the Bais Hamikdash.  I will build it on my own, because there is no other way the Bais Hamikdash could ever be built.’”

As Modern Orthodoxy Moves To The Left

I am reprinting a recent essay by Rav Schachter on the latest nonsense.... He says it VERY WELL and yashar koach to the great Talmid Chochom and Marbitz Torah. I thank Kivi Naiman for sending.

I will take issue with him [respectfully] on one point. He says that people are paskening shylos based on the "Otzar Hachochma" or "Bar Ilan" computer programs without the necessary training in psak etc.

Things are actually much worse. Every housewife with a blog is able to print her "psak halacha" for the world to see. SHE CAN'T READ ARAMAIC AND IS PASKENING HALACHA AND TELLING THE WORLD THAT THE RABBIS DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.


כל העדה כולם קדושים

בריש יומא (ב.) הובאה המשנה ממס' פרה (פ"ג מ"ז) ,מטמאין היו הכהן השורף את הפרה ומטבילין אותו, להוציא מלבן של צדוקים שהיו אומרים במעורבי השמש היתה נעשית. וכי היכי דלא ליזלזלו בה (לומר ,הואיל וטבול יום כשר בפרה ,אין צריך להיות זריזין בה בשמירת טהרה ,לכך עשו בה מעלות הרבה לטהרה, וזו אחת מהן, רש"י) שכל מעשיה בכלי גללים בכלי אבנים ובכלי אדמה, דלא לקבלו טומאה. וכן הנהיגו (שם במס' פרה משנה ב) שחצרות היו בירושלים בנויות ע"ג סלע ותחתיהם חלול מפני קבר התהום, ומביאים נשים עוברות ויולדות שם ומגדלות שם את בניהם, ומביאים שוורים וכו'. הרי שכל העסק של גידול התינוקות וההשתמשות בדוקא בכלי גללים וכלי אדמה וכו' היה מפני שהקפידו חכמי המסורה שבזמן הבית לא רק על אותן המצוות שעשו הצדוקים לגמרי שלא כדין, כגון לקבוע חג השבועות תמיד ביום הראשון [אף שיו"ט ראשון של פסח לא חל בשבת] ,וכגון בעבודת יוה"כ -לתקן מבחוץ ולהכניס בפנים ,שהשביעוהו לכה"ג שלא יהא צדוקי (משנה יומא יח:), אלא אפילו במקרה זה של עשיית פרה ,שהצדוקים החמירו בו יותר מן החכמים ,דקדקו חכמי המסורה בדוקא לנהוג כפי הקולא של התושבע"פ, שטבול יום כשר לעשיית הפרה ,והיו מטמאין את הכהן ומטבילין אותו, כדי להוציא מלבן וכו', להראות בדוקא שאפילו החומרות שאינן כפי התושבע"פ אין בהן ממש, ושאין לנהוג בהן. וכל זה כדי להשריש בלבנו היסוד שאין לנו אלא המסורה שלנו, הנמסרה לחכמי המסורה שבכל דור ודור והמפורשת על ידם.

והנה חדשים מקרוב באו והנהיגו הנהגה מחודשת שהנשים יחבשו כיפות או טלית ותפילין בשעת תפילת שחרית ,ולא הציעו שאלה בזה לפני גדולי ההוראה של זמננו, כנראה על פי הסברא של כי כל העדה כולם קדושים, כעין טענת קרח ועדתו, אף שאולי אין זה כונתם ,דהיינו (-כפרש"י שמה ע"פ המדרש) שכולם השתתפו במעמד הר סיני. וממילא - כל אחד רשאי לפסוק הלכה כפי הבנתו שלו וכפי הרגשותיו ,ומדוע תתנשאו וגו', כלומר, מה צריכים לרב או לרבי לפסוק הלכות [השוה בזה דרשת רבנו הגרי"ד סאלאוויטשיק המפורסמת ,הובאה בקצרה בס' נפש הרב ,בליקוט"ת לפ' קרח ,ובס' השקפת הרב (של ר"א בית-דין) ,ח"א], כל מאן-דהו שלמד בישיבה יכול לפסוק ולהכריע עפ"י שכל עצמו, ובפרט בזמננו , שאת הכל אפשר לחפש ולמצוא באינטרנט, ב"אוצר החכמה", וב"פרויקט השו"ת של בר אילן", וכדומה, וכל אחד יכול לעשות א"ע כת"ח וכמורה הוראה ופוסק אף בשאלות חמורות, כאילו יודע מעצמו את כל המקורות ואת כל השיטות -בסיוע כל הנ"ל.
והתפלאתי לראות היאך שאנשים בעלי שכל מפלפלים פלפול של הבל בקשר לנדון נשים אם רשאות להתנדב (בתורת אינה מצווה ועושה) לקיים מצות תפילין ,והראו פנים לכאן ולכאן ,ודנו כאילו היינו חיים בתקופת התנ"ך (שהביאו ממיכל בת שאול) ,או בתקופת התנאים (שנחלקו התנאים אם נשים סומכות רשות) ,או בזמן הראשונים (שפלפלו לגבי בנותיו של רש"י). אכן בעו"ה - חיים אנחנו - בשנת תשע"ד - בתקופת מרד המינים נגד התושבע"פ כשהנהגה זו – עטיפת טלית והנחת תפילין – מצויה אך ורק אצל הקונסרבטיבים, שכל הגישה שלהם להלכה מבוססת על היסוד שאכן מותר – ואף חיוב יש – לשנות מדרכי המסורה ע"פ רצונם וניהוגם של ה"עמא דבר" כל עוד שיש להם איזה "מקור" לדבר, ודוקא נקודה זו היא היא ההבדל בינם לבין האורטודוקסים .ויש כאן מלחמת אחים של מערכה מול מערכה, שהללו, הממשיכים במסורת אבותיהם שבידיהם , ואומרים שאבותינו לא שיקרו לנו, וגם אני מאמין באמונה שלמה ,ככל הדורות הקודמים ,שמשה קיבל תורה מסיני; והללו צועקים בקול ואומרים שאנחנו לבד המומחים האמתיים על אמיתות ההיסטוריה ,וטוענים בהחלט שמשה לא קיבל תורה מסיני וכו' וכו', וחלק גדול מעמדתם ושיטתם הוא טענת "קרח אבינו" -שכל העדה כולם קדושים ,וכאמור. ונראה שרק הסומא שאין לו עינים לראות , לא יכיר מה שנמצא לפניו ממש "תחת האף שלו" ,שהנהגה זו היא הנהגת הקונסרבטיבים ,ועלול להביא לידי עוד הנהגות נגד המסורה ולהתרשלות כללית בענייני פסק והוראה.  [וידוע מה שהעיר הגרי"ז על גדלות אביו הגר"ח סאלאוויטשיק ,שהי' לו כח הבנה וכח החדירה שכזה ,שהי' יכול להגיד מראש -שאם יחליטו היום ללכת בכיוון זה ,שכך וכך יהי' בעוד ששים שנה ,ואם יחליטו ללכת בכיוון האחר, שכו"כ יצא לבסוף לאחר ששים שנה ,אבל (הפטיר הגרי"ז) לי אין את כח החדירה הזה - לידע מה יהי' לבסוף - לאחר ששים שנה. ולאחר ששהה קצת הוסיף לומר ,שאכן כמדומה לי שכן יש לי מעלה ,שלכה"פ אני יכול להכיר מה שישנו כבר לפני כעת -תחת האף שלי]. ודבר פשוט הוא שכמו שהקפידו חכמי המסורה שלא להרשות לנהוג אפילו כחומרת הצדוקים, והקפידו בדוקא לטמא את הכהן השורף את הפרה ולהטבילו, כדי שתעשה הפרה בדוקא ע"י טבולי יום, כן בנד"ד ממש, דפסקי הלכה אינם נאמרים "מתוך חלל ריק" ,אלא מתוך ההקשר (קאנטעקס"ט) של אותו הדור, ובדורנו אנו, כל התנאים וכל הראשונים וכל האחרונים יסכימו שהנהגה זו אסורה היא בהחלט ,אע"פ שהיא לחומרא יתירה ,שלא לחקות את המינים ,עי' משנה סוף פ"ב דחולין (דף מא.). ונראה דד"ז הוא בבחינת ערקתא דמסאנא ,דרבנו ז"ל אמר שערקתא דמסאנא גדרו -כל הנהגה שהיא שהפכה להיות סמל להריסת הדת ,אפילו אם "ע"פ הלכה" היא מותרת, זה גופא (שנהפך לסמל להריסת הדת), גורם לכך שיהיה אסור. וכך התבטא רבנו בשעתו (בקשר לפרשת "מי הוא יהודי" שפתח בן-גוריון), דאין הבדל בדבר בין אם האנס הוא נכרי כאנטיוכס הרשע או יהודי כבן-גוריון, עדיין דין אותה הנהגה כערקתא דמסאנא ויהרג ואל יעבור. (וביטוי זה לענין אנס יהודי, מקורו בשו"ת אבנ"ז או"ח סי' תקל"ז ,ועי' ס' נפש הרב עמ' רל"ג).

וכזה ידוע בשם רבנו, שכשהתחילו הקונסרבטיבים להכניס טקס בת מצוה לבנות באמצע התפילה - דוגמת הבר מצוה לבנים, הצהיר בזה רבנו שהרבנים האורטודוקסים אסורים בהחלט לעשות כמותם, וזה בבחינת ערקתא דמסאנא , ודינו שיהרג ואל יעבור. ועי' חזו"א (חאו"ח סי' נ"ב אות ו') שאע"פ שנראה להתיר פתיחת מכסה הנמתחת שע"ג עגלת התינוק, יש לאסור פתיחת ה'מעין מטריה' מכמה טעמים , והאחד מהם - מפני שגורם פרצה. ואולי כוונתו כנ"ל ,שמטריה שימשה כסמל להריסת הדת באירופא אצל הריפורים, ועל כן צריכים אנו לאסרו, אע"פ שמכח הל' אהל עראי דמלאכת שבת הי' צ"ל מותר.

ותמיה אני, מעיקרא מאי קסברי המתירים בזה ,הלא כבר הביא הרמ"א (לאו"ח סי' ל"ח ס"ג) מהראשונים, ואין חולק עליו מכל מפרשי השו"ע שם ,שבזמננו יש לכולנו בעיא של גוף נקי ,אשר על כן החלטנו למעט בהנחת התפילין אף לגברים עד המינימום (כלומר רק בשעת תפילת שחרית), כאשר ביאר בזה רבנו ז"ל בשיעוריו בטוב טעם ודעת (עי' מש"כ בס' מפניני הרב ,ערך תפילין ,אות א) ,וכאשר כן פסק רבנו ז"ל למעשה בשעתו בנדון בעלת תשובה שהיתה תלמידה בבי"ס התיכונית על שם "פריש", שרצתה בדוקא להניח תפילין, והורה רבנו עפ"י דברי הרמ"א האלו למחות בידה. ואין נראה לומר שבמשך ארבעים השנה האחרונות שהשתפר המצב ביחס לטוהר המחשבה הנצרך להנחת תפילין ,וכידוע לכל ,ככה היתה ההנהגה המקובלת מדורי דורות, ומי הוא זה שיהין ויתחצף להורות נגד פסק המקובל של רבינו הרמ"א. והשוה רמב"ם פ"י משמיטה ויובל סוף ה"ו ,שהקבלה והמעשה (כלומר ,הנהוג המקובל) עמודים גדולים בהוראה ,ובהן ראוי להתלות ,כלומר ,אע"פ שדעתו של הרמב"ם בהלכה זו היתה נוטה דלא כדעת הגאונים ,הכניע א"ע לפסקם ,שכן הי' הנהוג המקובל. ואלו שמצהירים שמשה קיבל תורה מסיני ממשיכים ואומרים -ומסרה ליהושע וכו' וכו' ,שיש בידינו מסורת חזקה באופן פסק ההלכה ,ואין שדה ההלכה כשדה של הפקר שכל הקודם זכה ,וכל דאלים גבר ,ומי שמקדים לפרסם דעתו דרך העיתונים או האינטרנט -הלכה כמותו ,אלא הענין הוא כמבואר במדרשים ,שאלף נכנסים לביהמ"ד ואחד יוצא להוראה ,ואותו היחיד הוא זה ששימש את רבו ביותר וקיבל בדמו ובנפשו את דברי התורה ,ושיש לו "נישואין" עם התורה ,ולא רק "ארוסין". (ועמש"כ בזה רבנו בס' דברי הגות והערכה ,עמ' ע"ב). וכך אמר רבנו (בדרשתו הידועה לפ' קרח) שכל אדם צריך להכיר שצריך לרב או לרבי ,ואפילו ת"ח שנפטר רבו צריך תמיד לשאול לעצמו באמת (כשמציעים לפניו שאלות) -מה הי' רבו אומר בנדון זה ,ובאיזה עמדה הי' נוקט. ושמעתי פעם מידידי יקירי הר"ר אבא ברונשפיגל ,שיחי' ,שפעם הציע איזו שאלה לרבנו (כשהי' מבקר אצל אמו בדירתה) ,ולאחר קצת משא ומתן הכריע רבנו לקולא ,והקפידה עליו אמו ואמרה" ,שאביך לא הי' פוסק כן" ,ותיכף חזר בו רבנו מהכרעתו ,שאביו בודאי הי' רבו המובהק].

וביטוי זה שאומרים כמה מהמתירים "שע"פ הלכה" פעולה מסויימת מותרת ,ושהמחמירים רק רוצים לאסרה "מטעמים פוליטיים" ,איננו נכון ,שגם ענין זה של שינוי המסורה מהווה חלק-עצמי מן ההלכה ,וכשדנים ע"ד הנחת תפילין לנשים ,לא מספיק לעיין בשו"ע הל' תפילין ובמקורות שם ,ולדונה כשאלה קלה ,אלא ,כמו כל שאלה בהלכה, צריכים לדון בנושא מכל הבחינות ומכל המבטים ,ולא תמיד נמצא את הפסק על אותו הדף שבשו"ע שחשבנו מתחילה לעיין שם ,וכמ"ש הירושלמי (דמס' ר"ה עה"פ ממרחק תביא לחמה) שדברי תורה (הרבה פעמים) עניים במקומם ועשירים במקום אחר ,וכל שאלות קשות שכאלו [דלפסוק נגד רמ"א המפורש בשו"ע ,בודאי שאלה קשה היא ,אשר בודאי צריכה כתפיים רחבות], צריכים להציע בפני ת"ח מורי הוראה שיש להם היקף בידיעת ההלכה ,ואין לכל מוסמך או רב מקומי ,אף אם כוונתו לטובה ,לחוות את דעתו בשאלה שכזו ,וכ"ש שלא לפרסם את דעתו הפרטית דרך התקשורת או האינטרנט ,כי שאלה חמורה כזו נוגעת לכל כלל ישראל הנאמנים למסורה ,ורק גדולי ההוראה רשאים להכריע בה. ואין תלונתנו בזה בכלל על הנשים שהתנדבו לקיים מצות תפילין ,אלא על הרבנים (שהוסמכו כולם מישיבתנו) שחיוו את דעתם המוטעת בזה ,מבלי להתייעץ עם מורי ההוראה שאליהם אכן פונים לשאלות אחרות ,ושפרסמו את דעתם כאילו הדבר פשוט להיתר. וד' ית' יגדור פרצותנו ויאחה את הקרע הזה שנתהווה במחננו ויטה לבנו לעבדו באמת ובתמים. [ועי' מש"כ בתשובתנו בנדון "המנינים המשותפים" (שבט ,תשע"ד) וצרף לכאן].

צבי שכטר (אדר הא' ,תשע"ד)