Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Different Status Of An Arusah And Nesua As It Relates To Teruma

לע"נ הרבנית מרת גיטל מירל בריינדל האדמו"ר ר' יוחנן זצ"ל
ולרפואת ישי דב הלוי בן נרי בתוך שח"י

The gemara [Kiddushin 5] attempts to derive from a kal va-chomer that chupah is koneh for kiddushin. If kiddushei kesef, which [is weaker isofar as that it] does not enable a bas yisrael to eat trumah when betrothed by a kohen, nevertheless effects a kinyan, then chupah which [is stronger insofar as that it] DOES enable a bas yisrael woman to eat trumah [after chuppah-nisuin a woman married to a kohen may eat trumah] must certainly effect a kinyan kiddushin. The gemara then rejects this kal va-chomer by proving that even kiddushei kesef enables a woman to eat trumah [and thus it is not more "kal" than chuppah].

The Rogochover quotes two Yerushalmis which imply that there is an opinion that a betrothed woman may NOT eat trumah [as in the gemara's hava amina].

Then he adds an interesting point. Even according to the way we hold, that a woman may eat trumah as an ארוסה there is nevertheless a difference between an ארוסה and a נשואה.

דנשואה אכלה מחמת קדושה ואישות וארוסה גדר קנין  - When a נשואה eats trumah she is doing so not as a בת ישראל married to a kohen but as a female kohen. She herself receives the kedusha of kehuna and becomes a koheness! An ארוסה betrothed to a kohen is not a koheness but just גדר קנין - by dint of the קנין made by her ארוס כהן she may eat trumah but not because of a change in her essential, inherent, personal status.

What is the nafka minah, you ask. Good question!!:-) The nafka minah would be if she was מזנה and thus becomes אסור to her husband and forbidden to eat trumah. The Yerushalmi [Trumos 8/2] teaches that if she is a נשואה and eats trumah she need not pay the חומש penalty. The Rogochover adds that if she is an ארוסה she must pay the penalty because it is as if a זרה ate the trumah. As a נשואה who was מזנה she may be forbidden to eat the trumah but she still doesn't have the status of a זרה because by being a נשואה she adopts קדושת כהונה. All she must pay is the principal. In contrast an ארוסה must pay the extra חומש because she is considered [now that she has been מזנה] a זרה.

The Achronim [Rav Yosef Engel, Rav Shmuel Rozovsky, Rav Yisrael Gustman] discuss the status of an אשת כהן. Here I presented the Rogochover's understanding that there is a distinction between a נשואה and ארוסה. It emerges according to him that the gemara remains partially with it's hava amina. Kesef does not fully allow an ארוסה to eat trumah. She eats as the קנין כהן but not as a full fledged koheness herself.    

New Articles

A very powerful article on our required relationship to Eretz Yisrael [in Hebrew], here.

This weeks article on Parshas Devarim, here. Deeelicious!

רחמים בן עליזה חנה

 Rachamim ben Aliza Chana - a soldier who was critically wounded when he jumped on a grenade to save his comrades, bi-toch shear cholei yisrael.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


1. Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.
2. If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.
3. My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.

4. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where she is.

5. I have six locks on my door all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three.
6. It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.
7. Money won't buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem.
8. Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?
9. Children are smarter than any of us. Know how I know that? I don't know one child with a full time job and children.




Treat The Illness - Don't Ignore It

What happened in Gaza?

About 9 years ago, Israel pulled out and let the Arabs have complete autonomy. Now, we are paying a very heavy price. Besides the billions of shekels this is costing that could be going to poor people, we are losing soldiers and others are suffering injuries.

The lesson, of course, is never leave evil unguarded. The Arabs have spent all of these years building those tunnels and bolstering their infrastucture in order to achieve their "final solution" of wiping Israel off the map היו לא תהיה. Israel was oblivious until the rockets started endlessly falling.

My point is not to show how utterly foolish the Israeli government was and is. That is obvious and can be proven from so many other instances as well. [One example - In the Knesset they have Arab Knesset members who hate the Jewish people. Does the USA have Congressman who hate Americans??]

My point is to assert that the exact same thing happens when we allow the evil within ourselves to fester and we don't treat our spiritual ills. Like a cancer it spreads and once we want to do something about it, it's already too late.

So let us look inside of our psyche and see what lurks there. Sinah, kinah, gaava, taavas achila, taavas nashim etc. etc. Then we have to treat it by learning sifrei mussar and chassidus and by being around people who have mastered their inclinations. 

Hashem Is Watching Us!

From the Jewish Press

Hamas had been preparing a murderous massive assault on Israeli civilian targets during the upcoming Jewish New Year holiday, Rosh Hashanah – according to anonymous sources in the Israeli security services

Hamas had been planning a surprise attack where 200 fighters would have been dispatched through the dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel. The terror organization aimed to seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians. In total, thousands of Hamas terrorists would have been swarming across Israel, wearing IDF uniforms, which would have further complicated an Israeli response. Reports further indicate that Hezbollah may have planned to join the attack as well, opening another front in the north. cited by the Israeli daily Maariv.

The source stressed that the current unplanned war with Hamas inadvertently thwarted a catastrophic event on an apocalyptic magnitude such as the Yom Kippur War, which would have ‘brought the State of Israel to its knees.’ The destruction of these tunnels takes away from Hamas a strategic weapon it has been working on and investing in heavily for years according to the source.

Each tunnel has arteries, veins, offshoots as well as offshoots of offshoots designed in intricate and complex arrangements. As one Israeli spokesman said, “There are two Gazas, one above ground and one below ground: an underground terrorist city.”

Speaking to the CBC, a senior Israeli defense official said the Israeli military had considerable prior knowledge of Hamas weaponry and tunnels, but was still “surprised” by the extent of both when the current ground operation began. He added that the network had not been detected by aerial surveillance, because Hamas had solved the most obvious problem: how to hide the piles of sand removed from the tunnels. This, he said, was painstakingly taken away, a few bags at a time, and stored out of sight in buildings and underneath greenhouses.

The official said Hamas had diverted huge quantities of cement, imported for civilian construction, into the building of concrete-block walls and roofs for the tunnels. As an example, he cited a 1.7-kilometer tunnel discovered in February 2013 that Israeli engineers estimated would have required 500 tons of concrete – “enough to build a three-story hospital.”

Israel has discovered 31 tunnels so far, and has destroyed several of them by employing bulldozers, explosive and other methods. IDF excavation of the tunnels has resulted in the seizure of tons of Hamas supplies, as well as the discovery of plans for future operations.

Israeli soldiers have already frustrated several surprise assaults by Hamas through tunnels from Gaza into southern Israel. On July 21, ten Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel. They were immediately spotted and eliminated, but the clash cost the lives of two IDF soldiers.

Writing for Gatestone, Lawrence Franklin says that the construction of network of tunnels used hundreds of tons of concrete that might otherwise have been used by the Palestinians for building homes, shopping malls, parks, schools, hospitals and libraries.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Power Of Faith

From an email sent out [for those who didn't receive it]:

Shaalooom sweeetest friends!!
I usually like to share simchas. I had planned to make a siyum today with everyone via email on the yahrtzeit of a dear friend and have everyone join me in my simcha. But I had SOME DAY so my plans changed. I will share some of the details. [You are all invited to the siyum on a future email bli neder. Bring your cookies and cakes to the email and eat as you read.]
It started like every other day. A meeting with the Boss, my dear Father [called by the Talmud " Shachris"]. Then - a trip to the local pool [called by the Orthodox "mikva"]. Afterwards - morning seder including a phone chavrusa with my son Shmuli who is in yeshiva in Bnei Brak. A regular day. Then I debated - should I daven mincha in the neighborhood shul or daven later on in Tolna on the way to the Azkara for my beloved friend R' Yoel Weisberg ztz"l whose yahrtzeit is today. I decided to daven in Tolna. When I arrived later in the day at about 7pm, I froze in my tracks.
Big signs were hanging everywhere telling that the Rebbe Shlita's mother had passed away and that the funeral was at 5. It was so sad to see. Just recently I had visited her in the hospital. My wife went to give birth but it was a "fake-out-break-out" and little Adina'le wasn't ready to make her grand entrance. It turns out that Hashem sent us there because while there we found out that the Rebbe Shlita's mother was there so I interrupted my habit of reading all the plaques and seeing how many people I know [quite a few. I learned that one need not be rich to know lots of rich people:-)] and went with my wife to visit.
Back to our story.... It was too late to attend the funeral so I waited for everyone to get back. A few minutes later people started approaching me and telling me that the Rebbe Shlita noticed that I was absent at the funeral, obviously meaning that I didn't know about it. He was concerned that I should be informed because I attend his gemara shiur every monday night and I shouldn't come and find out that it was cancelled. That is what he was worrying about on the way home from his mother's funeral. That Elchonon Ehrman shouldn't needlessly come to his shiur. That fit in well with the drasha he had given last night about the jail so many of us find ourselves in. The jail of ...egotism. He emphasized that we must free ourselves because it is a horrible fate to be self-centered.
The Rebbe entered the beis medrash and sat down with his father and brothers. I approached him and he said "I was just talking about you..." I explained that I was on my way to an Azkarah and just stopped there for mincha when I found out the sad news.
Then the shiva began. Not a normal shiva. The Rebbe believes that one must always be happy. Even an aveil. So he was filled with simcha. He was making jokes, giving out l'chaim's and trying to add a spirit of simcha to the room. He said that at his late sister's funeral [she died a young mother of three of cancer] they sang Aishes Chayil. So he said "We are now going to sing eishes chayil". And sing everybody did. It wasn't somber. It was ... simcha-dik. Everything that happens is for the best and even the bracha of Baruch Dayan Emes must be said bi-simcha, so of course we will be bi-simcha.
THAT was a lesson. Not one from a book but one I saw right in front of my eyes. I will never forget it. It was genuine simcha even though of course he loved his mother very much.

A little about her.
Rebbetzin Gittel Weinberg ע"ה was the daughter of The Tolna Rebbe ztz"l, Rav Yochanan Twerski. The Rebbe had a kehilla in Montreal and was very successful. His only daughter grew up in relative wealth and prosperity. In 1949 she went with her new husband to Eretz Yisrael. At the time, this meant living in abject poverty. Sleeping on the floor on a bug infested mattress as thick as a sponge, having barely anything to eat etc. etc. [Bread and jam for breakfast and dinner, vegetable soup for lunch. That's it]. The Rebbe Shlita asked his mother how she did it. She explained simply that she had an ideal - to live in Eretz Yisrael. The horrible material situation was not going to stop her.
When her daughter was ill for a long time and then died, there wasn't a word of complaint. If everything is for the best and from Hashem - what is there to complain about? Just simcha.
After maariv, the Rebbe Shlita left the Beis Medrash where he had been sitting and the first day of shiva was over.
So I went to the bus [I don't like traveling in any vehichle smaller than a stretch limo] and traveled to Baka where the Azkara was taking place. When I arrived [took me a while. "Rechov Asher". Lived in Yerushalyim for 25 years and never heard of it. FYI - it is right off Rechov Naftali.... So biblical. I asked a taxi driver for directions but couldn't find it. I then asked a taxi driver again for directions and he said with annoyance "You already asked me once":-)], I was told that the niftar's son, Yishai, had been wounded in Gaza and then hospitalized but came anyway. When I walked into the shul he was speaking in front of everybody with a huge patch over his eye.
Yishai Weisberg is a married, high ranking army officer with hundreds of troops under his command. You would never know it when you meet him. He is compactly built, soft-spoken, gentle, sweet tempered and filled with emunah. He was talking all about his father's maasim tovim but of course not about his own personal heroism. Afterwards I approached him, we embraced and I asked what the prognosis is for his eye. Will the doctors be able to save it? He laughed good-naturedly, slapped my hand and said "Fifty-fifty".
Laughed? Fifty-fifty if he will ever have two eyes again??
Where does this come from??
Sweetest friends - it comes from the same place where the Rebbe's simcha on the day of his mother's death comes from and the same place where the Rebbetzin decided to move to Eretz Yisrael and sacrifice the comforts of being near her parents and having material comfort to live in a war torn, fledgling State of Israel comes from.
It is called ...Emunah. The belief that life is more than a comfortable bed, a lot of money and the many pleasures this world has to offer. Life is knowing what your purpose it and then fulfilling that purpose. Our external circumstances are never completely in our hands but our resolve to sacrifice everything for what really matters, for something bigger and greater than our own individual selves, IS in our hands.
We live not for self-aggrandizement, not for professional success but to bring more light and kedusha into the world. Tzahal is doing this by attempting to wipe out the forces of evil and darkness. We have already lost many soldiers but we have not lost our spirit and high morale. It is not our war we are fighting but Hashem's.
Hashem tells Moshe to take vengeance for the Jewish People against Midyan - נקום נקמת בני ישראל מאת המדינים. Moshe in turn tells the Jews to take vengeance for Hashem - לתת נקמת השם במדין. It is the same thing. Klal Yisrael bring Hashem's presence into the world and to fight us is to fight Him.
I was on an emotional roller coaster today and wanted to share the lessons with others. Live your lives with Emuna and for others. That Emuna and self-sacrifice will always translate into simcha, regardless of the circumstances. NOTHING bad can happen. Everything is from our loving Father. To be great requires sacrifice, sometimes of life and limb but that doesn't have to lower our morale. The knowledge that we are members of the most special and chosen people on earth and that our entire focus is adding light and removing darkness is enough to fill us with constant joy. As the Rebbe Shlita said today - m'gait nor in de kav fun simcha. We only go with joy. [His eulogy was in Yiddish and I will pass it on to anyone who wants to hear it].    
Beloved friends!! PLEASE daven for my beloved friend Yishai Dov Halevi ben Neri bi-soch shear cholei yisrael. He is a beautiful, special person and he sacrificed his well being so that we can have a safe country to live in [or at least visit on Sukkos:-)]. And please try to think of ways to be more giving to others as a merit for your own neshamos and primarily for Klal Yisrael who are in dire need of a ישועה. We should all be zoche soon to see a fulfillment of the pasuk עין בעין יראו בשוב השם ציון. Eye to eye we will see the return of Hashem to Tziyon.
Thank you so much and a gut chodesh to all!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Source Of Kefira

הכפירה קמה למטה רשע וביותר בדורנו היתום לא מיתרון חכמה, ואולי גם לא מיתרון רשע, כי אם מריקות מוח ומיעוט חשק להתבונן גם בדברים גלויים
Kefira has risen in our orphaned generation, not from added wisdom, and maybe not even from added evil, but from empty brains and little desire to view even revealed phenomena.
HaRav Kook ztz"l 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What Is "Chuppah"??

The gemara in Kiddushin often says the word חופה. What is חופה??

Pashut. A canopy with four poles that people walk towards with slow music. Children drop flowers and grandparents bravely overcome the hip replacements they recently had in order to get there during the lengthy ceremony before the loud, fast music starts. At chuppah's people keep busy by texting and checking the weather reports on their blackberry's.

Not so fast [pun intended]. There are 8 opinions as to what חופה is. See the Talmudic Encyclopedia in the entry חופה for more information. The Rambam holds that חופה is yichud. The Rogochover agrees with his Rebbi [who lived about 700 years prior...]. The Rogochover explains that חופה seals the bond between the couple because yichud is like ביאה which is an act of marriage. He wrote on his gemara page [Kiddushin 5b] next to the words חופה גומרת the following: עי' כתובות דף מ"ה ודף מ"ט וסנהדרין דף נ"ז ודף ס"ו. You see from all of these sources [I would like to quote but it is a quarter to 4 in the morning and time is short:-). I just got off the phone with a chaver who is teaching Kiddushin next year so I felt that I had to write something Kiddushin-dik...] that yichud alone renders the woman like a בעולה even if nothing happened between them.

Then he adds וביבמות דף כ"ט ע"ב ובסנהדרין פ"ט. There the gemara describes chuppah as nichninsa li-nissuin and then he writes -  ודף ק"ז ביבמות. See the gemara there that one may not make a חופה [i.e. nissuin, the second and final stage of marriage] conditional. Only kiddushin can be done with a תנאי but not חופה. 

וזה גדר נכנסה לנישואין - There doesn't have to be a מעשה ביאה. It is sufficient that she "enters" into a room alone with him. וזה דין לא חזקה של פעולה  - This is an absolute law and not an assumption that when secluded an act of ביאה was performed.  But the Rogochover adds that when it comes to the mitzva of yibum an actual  מעשה ביאה must be performed and yichud does not suffice. He cites יבמות נ"ח and a Tosefta in Ksubos as proof texts for this assertion.

[Based on the Tzafnas Paneach on Maseches Kiddushin which you will buy for yourself, please, as a favor to me and then learn it as a favor to yourself. Your quality of life will greatly improve....:-)].

When All You Think About Is Torah

Rav Hutner as a young man studied in the Chevron Yeshiva which was located in ... Chevron [after the riot in 1929 they moved and today the yeshiva is in Givat Mordechai in Yerushalayim]. On his way home he stopped in Dvinsk to meet the Rogochover. He said that he was coming from Chevron. That was alllllll the Rogochover needed. He immediately launched into an complex pilpul about the status of Chevron as an Ir Miklat and the Bavli's, Yerushalmi's and Rambam's were flyin'. Only a genius like Rav Hutner could "hold kup" and follow the flood of information that was being presented at rapid fire speed.

The Rogochover was koooooolooo Torah! 

Names Of Our Wounded Soldiers - Please Pass On

אליוסף חיים בן חיה יהודית
מרדכי בן ברכה יהודית
אוהד בן אליס גנון
גיל בן מיכל
ישי דב בן נרי
רן בן צפורה
אוהד בן רות
אלעד משה בן עתיאל
אוהד בן אריקה
יונתן שמעון בן גיטל
יוני בן שרה
אביעד בן סימה
ארז בן שרית
דור יצחק בן סוזי
רמי בן רמונד
עובדיה בן רויטל
דניאל מנדס בן מרים
יונתן שמעון בן מסעוד
מור מרדכי בן שרית
נריה בן חווה
שקד בן אורה
אליאל בן אריאלה
אליהו בן חווה
ארד בן ליאורה
ליאל בן אילנית
יונתן בן חגית אביגיל
שוהם בן יפה פלורה
יעקב בן לאפו
מיכאל בן פרידה
יואב בן גילה

מי כעמך ישראל

An email forwaded me by my mother she-tichye....

A soldier on the border writes:

What's happening here in the staging area [area where soldiers prepare to enter Gaza] is beyond comprehension, not rationally, not emotionally and begs the imagination. 

Almost every hour a car shows up overflowing with food, snacks, cold drinks, socks, underwear, undershirts, hygiene supplies, wipes, cigarettes, backgammon and more. They're coming from the North and the Center, from manufacturers, from companies and private businesses, from prisons, Chareidim and Settlers, from Tel Aviv and even Savyon [Savyon is the "Beverly Hills" of Israel]. 

Every intersection on they way down here we get stopped, not by the police, but be residents giving out food. What is amazing is that the entire situation wasn't organized and everyone is coming on their own without coordination between the folks coming. 

They're writing letters and blessings, how they're thinking of us all the time. There are those who spent hours making sandwiches, so they're as perfect and comforting as possible. 

Of course representatives of Chabad are here to help soldiers put on Tefillin and distributing Cha'Ta'Ts (Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya) for every troop transport and Breslov are showing up to the border and dancing with the soldiers with great joy. 

The Chareidim are coming from their yeshivot to ask the names of the soldiers with their mothers' names so that the whole yeshiva can pray for them. It should be mentioned that all of this is done under the threat of the terrorist tunnels and rockets in the area. 
Soroka Hospital (in Be'er Sheva) today looks like a 5 star hotel. A wounded friend who was recently discharged told us how the MasterChef truck is parked outside and is preparing food for the wounded. 

It goes without saying the amount of prayer services that are going on. On the religious front as well, there are lectures and Torah classes, all the food is obviously Kosher. Shachrit, Mincha, and Maariv with Sifrei Torah. They're giving out tzitzit and Tehilim by the hundreds. It's become the new fashion! The Rabbi of Maglan [Special Forces unit] told me that almost the entire unit has started wearing them, because the Army Rabbinate has been giving out tzitzit that wick away sweat. They're gaining both a Mitzva and a high quality undershirt. We've started calling them "Shachpatzitzti" (a portmanteau of the Hebrew term for body armor and tzitzit). We're having deep conversations late into the night without arguments, without fights and we find ourselves agreeing on most things. 

אשרי העם שככה לו!!!

Chizuk For War

This is a talk given by Rabbi Frand where he delivers a sicha given by the Mori Vi-Rabi, The Tolna Rebbe Shlita and printed in the sefer Heima Yenachamuni. It should be li-refuas the Rebbe Shlita's mother Maras Gittel Mirel Breindel Leah bas Rabbeinu Yochanan.

The Special Role of the Kohen Who Reminds Us of the Source of Success at War
Before the Jewish people go out to war, a specially designated Kohen addresses the nation. He tells them "Hear O' Israel. You are going out today to do battle. You should not be afraid because the Almighty One will help you..." [Devorim 20:3] The Kohen who made this speech was known as the Priest Anointed for War (Kohen Mashuach Milchama). A Kohen was specifically anointed with the sacred anointing oil to have this job and to deliver this charge to the people before they went out to battle. In several ways, the Kohen Mashuach Milchama is similar to the Kohen Gadol [the High Priest]. Unlike a regular Kohen, but in common with the Kohen Gadol, he is forbidden to marry a widow but must marry a virgin. Likewise he is given the privilege (in common with the High Priest) to pose questions to the Urim v'Tumim. In fact although there was an office called the segan [vice] Kohen Gadol, the Rambam writes [in Hilchos Klei HaMikdash 4:19] that the Kohen anointed for war outranked the segan Kohen Gadol. It seems strange that the only known duty of the Kohen Mashuach Milchama was to address the people before they went out to battle. A person could perform such a job without working a single day his whole life! Wars are not an everyday occurrence. One can go years or decades without needing to make such a speech. It is conceivable that despite his exalted position such a Kohen never had to carry out the duties of his office.

This anomaly leads us to a simple question: Why not assign this job to the Kohen Gadol himself? Why create a new job title? Why not let the Kohen Gadol, or if not him the segan Kohen Gadol, perform this job if, and when, it becomes necessary to go to war?

Let us point out something else. The Rambam writes [in Hilchos Melachim 1:7] (regarding a son inheriting the throne from his father the king) "And not only regarding monarchy alone but all position of authority and all appointments in Israel are passed down through inheritance to one's son and one's grandson forever, providing the son is a worthy successor to his father in wisdom and in Fear (of Heaven)". However, the Rambam writes [in Hilchos Klei HaMikdash 4:21] that the position of Mashuach Milchama is an exception to the rule. This job does not pass on through inheritance to one's son, but rather the son of a Kohen Anointed for War is just a regular Kohen. Why does this exception exist?

Let us raise a third difficulty: The pasuk [verse] introducing the job of the Mashuach Milchama states: "And it will be when you draw near to battle the Kohen will approach (v'nigash haKohen) and speak to the people." [Devorim 20:2]. The two words v'nigash haKohen seem superfluous. What do they add? Obviously, the Kohen will not be standing a mile away when he gives the charge to the people. It is understood that he must approach the people before he begins to speak. In addition, usually the verb "hagasha" in Tanach connotes prayer. The Medr ash says regarding on the words "VaYigash eilav Yehudah" [Bereshis 44:18] that Yehudah approached Yosef with a prayer. Similarly, when the pasuk says, "Vayigash Eliyahu" [Melachim I 18:36] the prophet Elijah offered a prayer. Likewise, the words here "v'nigash haKohen" seem to imply that the Kohen Mashuach Milchama uttered some kind of prayer. The Torah does not tell us what prayer he uttered. What was it?

Finally, the Torah instructs that anyone who was afraid to go to battle was to return home [Devorim 20:8]. The Talmud states [Sotah 44b] that in addition to the simple interpretation of excluding someone who was actually afraid of doing battle on the battle field, this pasuk refers to someone who was afraid of aveyros [sins] he committed, which might make him undeserving of being saved in a time of danger. The Gemara says this would even include someone who merely violated the prohibition of talking between the time he put on his hand Tefillin and the time he put on his head Tefillin. Why, we ask, did the Talmud cite this specific example of a "small aveyra"?

To answer all four questions the Tolna Rebbe Shlita explained that fighting a war presents a person with a very difficult spiritual test. A person needs to go to battle with weapons and with military strategy. A person needs to use the latest technology and to fight the battle the ways battles are fought -- with soldiers, arms, battle plans, etc. We have a strong perception and gut feeling that an army is victorious because of military prowess.

Viewing the matter from a spiritual point of view, we all know that this is not true. We know that the outcome of a battle is determined "Not with valor and not with strength but with My Spirit, says the L-rd of Hosts" [Zecharia 4:6]. We know that to think it is our military might that made us success ful is heresy. It is falling into the trap of "My strength and the power of my hand made for me all this valor." [Devorim 8:17]

Those of us who remember the Six Day War in 1967 remember how the entire world was talking about the brilliant strategy of the Israeli army which defeated armies of tens of millions of Arabs. They decimated the forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in less than a week's time. There was a pervasive feeling of "we are so much smarter than them", "we are so much braver than them", "we are so much more technologically advanced than them". The attitude was indeed "My strength and the power of my hand made for me all this valor." This is a "treife hashkafa" – an improper, mistaken philosophy.

Certainly, we cannot rely on miracles, but we must always keep in the forefront of our minds that "It is He who gives us the strength to have valor" [Devorim 8:18].

How can people avoid the trap? How can those who have to fight that battle and be ou t there in the foxhole and who are so apt to fall into the trap of "my strength and the power of my hands..." avoid the trap? What can prevent them from making this tragic mistake?

Prevention of this mistaken attitude was the job of the Kohen Mashuach Milchama. The Kohen Mashuach Milchama prevented them from adopting this "treife hashkafa" by telling them "Hear O Israel you are drawing near today towards a war with your enemy. Do not let your hearts become soft; do not fear nor be alarmed; do not be frightened of them..." That was his message. We may have the arms and we may have the most brilliant generals and the best strategy but we must know that in the final analysis it is the Master of the Universe who will help us win this war.

That was his job and that is why it says "v'nigash haKoehn v'Diber el ha'Am" [the Priest drew near to speak to the nation]. This was not just a speech to the people. It was also a prayer to G-d. "Please, G-d, do not let my people fall prey to this foreign philosophy of 'the strength of my arms makes this valor for me'".

That is why the Kohen Gadol was not given this job. The Kohen Gadol spends his entire day and his entire life in the Beis HaMikdash. He is a person who is entirely spiritual. This job description does not require a holy person. It requires a person who knows the temptations of what it is to be out there in the "real world" and to deal with these feelings of "it is my strength which accomplished all this". This job requires a unique special person.

That is why the Kohen Mashuach Milchama's son does not automatically inherit the position. The position requires rare talents. Every generation needs a new Kohen Mashuach Milchama.

That is also the reason why the Talmud cites a person who spoke between putting on the hand Tefillin and the head Tefillin as the example of one who returns home from battle due to being afraid of his aveyros. The Tefillin shel Yad  represent the attitude of "the strength of my hand". It is the head, the brain, which has to rein in such a philosophy of life. The Head has to rule over the Hand. One who pauses between donning the hand Tefillin and the head Tefillin believes that there can be a separation between the two. He believes there can be a time when the philosophy of the Hand rules by itself without being reined in by the philosophy of the Head. Such a person indeed must retreat from the battlefield.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Winning The War

לרפואת מרת הענא מרים בת חנה בתוך שח"י והצלחת חיילי צה"ל

In sports, if your team scores more points than the other team - you won. There is always a winner and a loser.

War is different. The are ALWAYS two losers [or more, depending on how many nations participates]. NOBODY ever wins. Baruch Hashem and b'ezras Hashem, Tzahal has killed hundreds of the enemy and they have lost far more than we have. But that doesn't compensate for the loss of life among our people. If the ratio would be 10,000 to 1, we would still be considered losers. Today, I saw a sign up in the Ramban shul in the Old City that a shiur gimmel student in Yeshivat Hakotel was killed. I think of his parents and family who will never be truly happy again and my heart bleeds. We go on, work, eat, live, laugh, go on vacation etc. etc. but there are so many people who just in the last week had there lives shattered forever.

Our job is NOT to fall into a מרה שחורה - melancholy. Depression is a key tool in the hands of the Satan. But maybe a curtailing of our summer-fun plans is in order so that we identify with our brothers and sisters at war. האחיכם יבאו למחלמה ואתם תשבו פה!? "Are your brothers going to go out to war and you will sit here", said Moshe to the Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuvein. Can our family members be at war and while we are having fun in the sun? Where is the נשיאה בעול - partaking of the burden. Not everyone can actually go out to the battlefield but everyone can feel in his heart that he is part of the battle effort. And of course, lots of tehillim, tzdaka, limmud hatorah etc. etc. to give our side more and more merits to deserve special shmira from Above.

Food for thought.

חגי בן חנה

Please daven. Father of three. Injured at war.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How Did Yitzchak's Bracha To Yaakov Take Effect?

לרפואת מרת הענא מרים בת חנה ומרת גיטל מירל בריינדל לאה בת מורנו הרב יוחנן בתוך שח"י

"Hakol kol Yaakov vi-hayadayim yedei Esav". Why did Yaakov not impersonate Esav's voice as well?? If he is already DRESSING UP as Esav, he might as well speak like him too. We see that his insistence on speaking with his own voice and with his own form of speech made Yitzchak very suspicious. Why put himself in hot water like that??

The Baalei Mussar say that if he would speak like Esav he would almost become Esav and that was too much for Yaakov to handle. So his compromise was wearing Esav's clothing and speaking like Yaakov. There is a LOT to say about that but not for now.

The Rogochover has a different and completely original approach. Let us ask: Since the bracha was given under mistaken pretenses, how did it count at all?? If I have in mind to bless one person and actually bless another, the whole deal is off. Just like if I intend to marry one girl and find out that another one was standing next to me under the chuppah [my glasses were off so as not to look at a girl...:-)] - we are not married [which brings up the question of how the union between Yaakov and Leah was sealed being that it was also under mistaken pretenses]. Mekach Ta-us - man!  [Now I speak like Esav:-)].

THAT was why Yaakov spoke like Yaakov and not like Esav. He WANTED that Yitzchak should have a doubt in mind so that he would not be decisive in his desire to bless Esav. Now his intention will be that whomever is standing before me [according to the clothing - Esav. By voice - Yaakov] will receive the bracha!!

The Rogochover doesn't suffice with this and quotes THREE different gemaras to prove his point. He doesn't actually quote them. He just references the pages and leaves it up to us to figure out what he means. Bava Basra 142, Nedarim 87b, Krisus 24. After the last citation he adds - דכל היכא דחזינן דאין ברור לו ומ"מ עשה נחית לספק ולא קפיד - Whenever we see that he isn't sure and nevertheless acts - he is acting with his doubt in mind and doesn't care if it isn't as he might assume.

Let's get to work...:-).

The gemara in Bava Basra [142a] teaches that if one made a kinyan over the possessions of a ger that dies [and he has nobody to inherit him] and then finds out that his wife was pregnant and then she subsequently miscarries - a second kinyan must be done. Why was the first kinyan not sufficient? The fetus was never born to inherit, so the property should belong to the person who made the kinyan without the need for a second kinyan? The gemara answers that since he made the first kinyan with a doubt in mind that maybe the ger's wife was pregnant it is not an absolute kinyan. So too, since Yitzchak had a doubt in mind that the person standing before him wasn't Esav - Esav never received the bracha. [It would seem according to this that Yaakov would have to get another bracha just as this person had to make another kinyan. The answer is that Yitzchak DID give him another bracha when he said after he realized his error גם ברוך יהיה - Yaakov is indeed blessed.]

The gemara [Nedarim 87b] says that if one rips his garment over the passing of a relative without being sure which relative of his died but assuming that it was his father and it turns out that it was his son - he is yotzei his mitzva of ripping. Since he wasn't sure he left his options open and didn't resolve to rip ONLY over his father. Similarly - Yitzchak was blessing with the intention that it is probably Esav but even if it is Yaakov it should count. Such a bracha is effective no matter which son was really there.

The gemara in Krisus [24a] says that if one separates two korbanos for an Asham Talui, one to bring and one as a backup, even the backup-pinch-hitter-korban has the status of an Asham Talui. By separating it he is showing that he is not certain that he will bring the first animal and therefore his true intention is to sanctify both. So we see that even though he didn't actually have to bring it, since it was set aside out of doubt, that is sufficient. So too, Yitzchak blessed his son out of doubt as to which son was standing before him so whichever son is the lucky one gets the bracha.

The Rogochovers power of associative thinking was astounding - to say the least.

What took me about 750 words to say the Rogochever stated in about 3 and a half short lines. Pilei Plaos!

Five Minute Torah Video

Great Torah [about Rav Ovadiah] from the Beis Medrash where I became me, here. [In Hebrew].

Hefker Of Peiros Shviis - Part 3

לרפואת א"מ הענא מרים בת חנה בתוך שח"י ולהצלחת חיילי צה"ל

Two more proofs that the hefker of Shmitta is not humanly activated, אקרקפתא דגברא, but rather אפקעתא דמלכא - a Divinely ordained hefker.

1] In the Yerushalmi Peah [5/1] there is a discussion if hefker beis din absolves one from the obligation to give maaser. [The Chazon Ish explains the safek of the gemara as being whether hefker beis din is a bona fide hefker that devolves on the cheftza of the fruits or maybe it is only a din on the gavra, that the person must relate to his fruits as if they are hefker and there is no issur gezel but in reality they are still his and he must separate maaser.] The gemara proves from the added month in a leap year in the seventh year of shmitta that he is patur from maaser, for in this case it is hefker beis din [for they added the extra month] and he is patur, so too, in any case of hefker beis din . The gemara then rejects this proof and says that adding a leap year is actually not a case of hefker beis din but mi-dioraisa [see there with the commentary of the Mahar"a Fulda].

If you assume that the law of hefker on Shmitta is אקרקפתא דגברא, how could the gemara logically compare hefker beis din to the added month of the leap year? The added month of shmitta is אקרקפתא דגברא while hefker beis din is the doing of beis din?! This compels us to conclude that Shmitta is indeed אפקעתא דמלכא - coming from a higher source and can thus be compared to hefker beis din which is also coming from a higher source. This proof was cited by the Chazon Ish in the name of the Radbaz and he said that it is a ראיה אלימתא - a very powerful proof.

2] In Nedarim [42b] the gemara says that if one is מודר הנאה [forbidden to derive benefit] from his friend, on shmitta he may eat his friend's fruits because they are hefker but he may not enter his friend's field. The gemara asks why this is so. Just as his fruits are hefker, so is his field? The gemara offers two answers: 1] The fruits are on the border of the field and the field is only hefker for the pupose of picking the fruit, so it is not necessary to enter the field. 2] There is a decree forbidding him from entering the field, lest he enter for longer than necessary in order to pick the fruits.

A simple reading of the sugya would indicate that the hefker status of the field is a general one and not dependent on the will of the owner [even though the language of the gemara is אפקרה, which means that the owner was mafkir, nevertheless the text of the Ran and others reads "רחמנא אפקרה"].

From all of these proofs concludes the Minchas Asher [Shviis 7] that EVERYBODY holds that hefker peiros shviis is not at all dependent on the hefker of the owner but a Divine mandate - אפקעתא דמלכא. Let us carefully examine the language of the Beis Yosef "אע"ג דרחמנא אפקרה כיון דאיהו לא אפקרה חייבת". It is clear that he holds that Hashem is doing the hefker. What the Beis Yosef holds is that if the owner is not mafkir the field and locks it up then the fruits are חייב in trumos and maasros [even though מדין תורה the fruits are hefker].

The explanation is as follows: If someone makes his field hefker and then locks the field up and allows nobody to enter, the fruits will be patur from maaser since the fruits are hefker. But Shviis is different because the Torah did not remove the field from the person's possession in the seventh year. The Torah just permitted anyone to come and take from the fruits. Hashem doesn't need to remove the field from a person's possession in order to allow people to take. In the seventh year the field remains in the owner's possession but anyone is allowed to enter and help themsleves. Since there is not a monetary, mammonis-dik removal from the owner, the Beis Yosef was mechadesh that if the owner doesn't allow people to enter the fruits remain obligated in maaser. If it were hefker gamur then it would be a different story. Whether people may enter or not doesn't matter because the fruits have no owner. This is then included in the drasha of the gemara that says that one must give shevet levi the fruits because he has no portion in the land [כי אין לו חלק ונחלה עמך]. But if the fruits are completely hefker then he DOES have a portion and the fruits are thus patur from maaser. But on shmitta where the land is formally still in the possession of  the owner and he also refuses to comply with the din Torah that he must let everyone in, we cannot say that the Levi has a portion and the fruits are patur from maaser. No way! The fruits are the owners and the Levi is practically being refrained from entering. Hence, the ptur from giving maaser doesn't apply.

This also explains the gemara [Peah 6/1] that says that on Shviis the fruits are hefker for the animals as well. How is it possible to talk about monetary rights for animals [such as Hamas...]? The answer is that the hefker we are discussing here is not a formal, legalistic type of hefker but a practical "Let everyone in to eat your fruits". This can apply to animals as well.  Even according to this thesis, if the person WAS mafkir the field and let eveyone in, the field becomes a mamoness-dike full-fledged hefker.      



Selling A Mezuza To A Gentile

I am a sofer. No, I am not. But let's say that I am. A man walks into my shop and he looks as Jewish as the Pope. On his lapel there is a sticker that says "Paul Christinson, Fargo North Dakota." Now there is surely a lovely Jewish community in Fargo - consisting of the Chabad Rabbi and his wife and children. But no more. Anyway, Paul doesn't look like a Chabad Rabbi and even less like his wife.

So he says "Can I buy a "my zuzer."

"What?", I ask.

"You know, a "my zuzer" to hang up on my door post to guard me from harm."

Uh oh. May I sell it to him?

Answer: I should really try not to. The Maharatz Chayes [simman 32] says that it is forbidden to sell a mezuza or Sefer Torah to a Gentile. If he would get really angry, my advice would be to sell him a beautiful mezuza case without the "Hebrew instructions" that come inside.

Not only that but Rav Moshe Feinstein [Igros Moshe Yo"d 1/174] rules that one should not sell a Sefer Torah to a Conservative or Reform congregation because they might not treat it with the required sanctity.

A Potential Beis Hamikdash

Rav Yochanan, relates the Medrash [Vayikra 22], would make noise before entering his home. Why? Because it says "Vinishma kolo bivo'o el hakodesh" - He would make noise when entering the holy. In fact the gemara elsewhere [Pesachim 112] says that everybody should knock before entering.

Who is this pasuk talking about and in what context? It is talking about the Kohen Gadol entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur [he had bells on his garment that made noise]. What does this have to do with us??

From this we see, said the Alter Mi'Slabodka the Giant of Mussar Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, that every person can elevate himself to the level of a Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur and that every home can be on the level of the Holy of Holies.


Newspapers On Tisha B'av

It is forbidden to learn Torah on Tisha B'av [except for certain sections such as Eicha and parts of Yirmiyahu etc]. The reason is that Torah makes one happy "pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev". This would certainly not apply to newspapers. Au contraire [did I spell that right?], newspapers are quite depressing. The Mordechai says that one shouldn't "hang out" on Tisha Báv. But the reason given by the Beis Yoseph is not because one might forget about the aveilus but because it might lead to levity.This would also not apply to reading a newspaper.

Rav Ovadiah Yoseph Shlita rules [Chazon Ovadiah page 315] that according to the strict letter of the law it is therefore permitted to read a newspaper on Tisha B'av. However it is preferable not to do so as the Machzor Vitri writes that one shouldn't be involved in dvarim btailim on Tisha B'av. It is better to learn permitted Torah or to read a book about the Holocaust.

Hashem's Land

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land.

Gilbert K. Chesterton

In this weeks parsha we read about the travels [massa'os] of the Jewish people. Everywhere we went in accordance with the command of Hashem. This is so that when we arrive in Eretz Yisrael we will continue to follow his commands. Eretz Yisrael does not belong to us. It belongs to Hashem and was given to us as a CONDITIONAL gift.

I hope that we get it back soon.


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Difference Between Us

“The difference between us, is that we’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

B. Netanyahu

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Articles

Weekly sugya on the parsha here.

Continuing the Minchas Elchanan, here.

New Shiur

The present war in Israel - according to Maran HaRav Kook ztz"l, here.

יקרא שמה בישראל....

To answer many emails at once.....

The new baby's name is Adina Batsheva. Everyone must add to this world a dimension that was lacking before his or her arrival. Adina means gentle. We live in a world filled with harshness and much overt and covert criticism. I want my daughter to be gentle, sweet and soft. To make everyone feel special and accepted. She should be ..... עדינה.

Challenge of the day: What dimension/s are you adding to the world?

Batsheva was my wife's grandmother. It is a zchus to be able to show kavod for my mother in law by naming after her mother. Batsheva is also the progenitor of Moshiach. Boy, could we use Moshiach!:-)

May we all have lives filled with simchas. I thank everyone for their good wishes and may all of your brachos fall upon you as well!:-)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

בן ציון בן שולמית מחלה

He is a Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivas Ateres Yisrael and was just found to have a terrible illness.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mazel Tov!:-):-)

From my weekly email.....:-)

Shaaallooooom swwweeetest friends!!!!
With great pleasure I would like to wish mazel tov to my parents and mother-in-law on the birth of a beautiful new granddaughter!!!! A special mazel tov to the mother [my wife] and the new baby's five siblings!!!
I am a strong believer that men and women are different but equal and therefore I have 3 boys and 3 girls [as if I had any say in how many children I have and what their genders are...].
The sfarim say that when one relates the kindness of Hashem and His wonders - he/she brings upon oneself more kindness and more wonders [see Beirach Moshe - Shlach]. So I will take the liberty of recalling His wonders...

1] I spent my first hour as one cell. I have since developed a hundred trillion or so.

2] If it were removed from the body, the small intestine would stretch to a length of 22 feet. Thank you Hashem for my small intestine. Couldn't manage without it:-).

3]  In my eyes I have 127,000,000 cells called rods and cones that line up in rows as the “seeing” elements that receive light and transmit messages to the brain. These rod cells are so sensitive that the smallest measurable unit of light, one photon, can excite them.
Our brains do not receive photographic images of anything.  Rather, some of the 127,000,000 rods and cones get “excited” by light waves and fire off messages into the 1,000,000 fibers of the optic nerve, which coils like a thick television cable back into the recesses of the brain.  Impulses from the retina race along the fibers of the optic nerve, fan out in the brain, and finally slam into the visual cortex, stimulating the miracle of sight.

The cortex has no easy task, since one billion messages a second stream in from the retina.

Wonder Of Wonders! I love seeing. Thank you Hashem for my eyes!

4] My blood!!
1. Blood enters the heart through the inferior and superior vena cava.
2. It enters the right atrium and passes through the tricupsid valve into the right ventricle.
3. Once blood is in the right ventricle, blood is quickly pumped through the pulmonary valve and into the pulmonary artery.
4. The blood enters the lungs through the pulmonary artery, picks up oxygen, and enters back into the heart through the pulmonary vein.
5. Oxygen-rich blood travels through the pulmonary vein and into the left atrium.
6. Next, the blood travels from the left atrium, through the mitral valve, and into the left ventricle.
7. The blood is quickly pumped out of the left ventricle through the aortic valve, and finally into the aorta.
8. Finally, the oxygen-rich blood travels out of the heart through the aorta, and delivers oxygen to the rest of the body.
All this with no GPS to direct it. Pilei Plaos!!

5] ELBOWS!! Imagine going a day without having elbows. Try eating or brushing your teeth.

6] Teeth. Amazingly, we are born without teeth [would make nursing quite a painful experience] but afterwards develop superstrong teeth that enable us to bite into the hardest piece of steak. One of my children once gave me a tooth that had fallen out and asked me to cut it with a knife. I took a VERY sharp knife and was unable to cut it. מה רבו מעשיך השם!!  

7] Sleep!!! I get so tired at night sometimes that I just can't function anymore. אויס מענטש! Unfailingly, I wake up some hours later a refreshed man!! ברוך הנותן ליעף כח.

8] There are millions and billions of chasodim that we are surrounded by daily. It is just a matter of opening up our [very-very complex] eyes and appreciating them. Then singing שירו לה' שיר חדש - Singing a new song for every new second of chesed we experience. For every parcel of food we eat. For the oxygen in the atmosphere. [A fellow once went to Mars and ate at a restaurant. He said that the food and service were very good but there was no atmosphere]. For the pleasure of the sound of music. For the "cushions" we have in between our legs and back that make sitting so comfortable. For our two hands that can accomplish so many tasks without even having to think about it. For the shoes on our feet which make walking so easy. For our sweat which cools off our bodies when overheated. For our saliva which has enzymes that enable us to digest food, For antibodies which constantly battle disease. For our incredible memories, which store everything we have ever seen and heard and then access the information in a milli-second. So I see a friend from second grade that I haven't thought about in 30 years and immediately all of his information streams into my mind. Where he lived, that he liked peanut butter, that his sister liked my friend Marvin etc. Li-havdil -  I learn a gemara that I have learned before and I say to my chavrusa "Ahhhh - we have to see the Maharsha here". I last saw the Maharsha on a Friday morning 22 years ago when I was munching on Potato chips. But it's all there.
On a personal level I have to thank Hashem so incredibly much. I have been married for 20 years. For 18 years I was living on an extremely low income [how low? Lower than my rent...:-)]. For the last couple of years I have been living on NO income. But I am here and so are my wife and [now] Baruch Hashem 6 children. We are all well fed, dressed and have a roof [and a few rockets] over our heads. It would be remiss if I would neglect to thank a few most beloved Jews who have kept my family alive and nourished during this time. I write "Jews" but they are really angels in the guise of people. They will not get their name on a building or be honored at fancy dinners but in Hashem's book - they are tops. Tzdaka li-shma. I assume they wish to remain anonymous so I will keep them that way.
I thank Hashem for all of the chesed of the past and ask for the future that I and my wife have nachas from our children, that I continue learning and teaching Torah in Eretz Yisrael, that I complete the sfarim on which I am working and write many new ones and that most of all... we should be zoche speedily to Moshiach Tzidkeinu b'mheira biyomeinu!!!  
May we always share in simchos together and Hashem should fulfill all of the wishes of your hearts li-tova....:-)  
A short thought on the parsha: The Jews asked for pens for their animal and then for cities for their children. Rashi says that they were more "concerned" [חסים] with their possessions than with their children and their priorities were wrong. The kids must come first. The medrash Rashi based himself on writes slightly differently -  that they "loved" [חיבבו] their possessions more than their children. Rashi complements the medrash. They were more concerned and worried about their possessions [as Rashi says] and therefore they loved them more [as per the medrash].
[Heard last night from the Rebbe Shlita]

Sweetest friends!! How often do we lose sight of what is most important to us. A spouse, our children etc. always must come first. Clients can wait. They don't need you as much as your family does.
We also sometimes sacrifice our spiritual principals for fleeting material pleasures. Nobody would die to watch a Yankees game on a Sunday afternoon [especially since Reggie retired many fortnights ago. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?!!] But for Torah we have willingly given up our lives for thousands of years. How shocked I am on Sundays in America when I walk into empty Batei Medrash. I feel that the prioirties are sometimes out of place.... 

May we all be zocheh to lichtige, yiddishe kinder that spread light to the whole world and hasten the geula!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Shiur

Kinyan kesef - part one here.
Part two here

Hefker Of Peiros Shviis - Part 2

Continuing our recent post about whether shmita is אפקעתא דמלכא - Hashem makes the land ownerless or אקרקפתא דגברא  - it is man's job. Some Achronim learn that it is a machlokes however there are proofs that EVERYBODY holds [even the Beis Yosef] that it is אפקעתא דמלכא.

1] The gemara in Bava Metzia [39a] seems to clearly state that it is אפקעתא דמלכא. See the gemara: נטושים דבעל כרחו דכתיב והשביעית תשמטנה ונטשתה אפקעתא למלכא - The field is called "abandoned" [נטושה]  meaning unwillingly as it says "In the seventh year, release it and abandon it [ונטשתה]" a command of the King [אפקעתא דמלכא].  

That sounds like אפקעתא דמלכא if only because it says so explicitly, black on white [yeshivish colors:-)]. But really there is no proof because maybe it just means that the King commands US to abandon the land and it is really אקרקפתא דגברא.

Moving right along:-).

2] The Rambam [Shmitta 4/4] says מצות עשה להשמיט כל מה שתוציא הארץ בשביעית וכו' וכל הנועל כרמו וכו' ביטל מצות עשה. From the lashon that "one is mevatel a mitzva if he fences in his vineyard" one may derive that only an active prevention of others from entering one's field is a problem. But it is not necessary to go ahead and make the field hefker because that is done by Hashem. If the mitzva were אקרקפתא דגברא the Rambam would have said that by not being mafkir the field he is mevatel a mitzva. See also the language of the Rambam in his Sefer Hamitzvos [134] where he says that Hashem is mafkir our produce [but see there that the lashon is not clear].

3] The mishna in Kilayim [7/5] says that if one plants forbidden kilayim on the seventh year, the produce is not forbidden because a person may not cause something that doesn't belong to him to become forbidden. So we see that even though this person planted his vineyard and didn't honor the Torah prohibition of being mafkir it, the field is nevertheless hefker. This indicates that the hefker is Divinely placed in effect.

4] In the Yerushalmi [Shviis 4/2] there is a machlokes when a person takes his fruits into his possession on the seventh year. According to one opinion, when he places the fruits into his vessels. According to the second opinion, placing the fruits into his vessels is not effective because this kinyan is predicated upon an error i.e. that the fruits belong to him when they really don't because they are hefker. We see that this person failed to make his field ownerless but it nevertheless has such a status. We are compelled to conclude that it is אפקעתא דמלכא. If Hashem didn't do it - who did? 

There is more to come but mincha beckons:-)



Shabbat Bi-shabato - Rav Mordechai Greenberg
"And Moshe spoke to the people... to inflict the vengeance of G-d against Midyan" [Bamidbar 31:3]. According to the Midrash, Moshe said: Master of the world, if we were uncircumcised or rejected the mitzvot, they would not hate us. They only pursue us because of the Torah and the mitzvot which You gave us. This is therefore Your revenge – to establish the revenge of G-d." [Bamidbar Rabba 22].
The Torah which we have received is the reason behind the hatred of Israel, because through it we represent the world of the Master of the Universe, as is written: "You are My witnesses, G-d says... and I am G-d" [Yeshayahu 43:10,12]. The sages taught us: "If you are my witnesses, I am G-d, but if you are not my witnesses – as it were, I am no longer G-d." [Yalkut Shimoni Yitro 271]. The struggle of the other nations is indeed against G-d. But since there is no way to fight G-d directly, they fight against the nation which represents Him. The Ramban wrote: "'I will reply with revenge to my enemies, and I will repay those who hate Me' – They have done all of this because of their hatred for the Holy One, Blessed be He." [Devarim 32:41]. In his letter to Yemen, the Rambam wrote that because of the Torah "the other nations were extremely jealous of Him... and they wanted to fight G-d and struggle against Him, but He is G-d, who can fight Him directly?"
This concept is repeated in many verses. "We have been killed because of You every day" [Tehillim 44:23]. "They have put their hearts together, they have made a covenant against You" [83:6]. And in the beginning of the book, "Why are the nations excited, while the peoples talk in vain? The kings of the earth take a stand, and the princes gather together – because of G-d and His Mashiach." [2:1-2]. What do they want to do? "Let us remove their strings and throw their ropes away from us!" [2:3]. What strings of ours bind the nations of the world? This was revealed by the infamous Adolf Hitler, before he came into power in Germany, in a talk with the author Hermann Rauschning. "Providence has reserved for me the task of being the great emancipator of man. I save humanity from the limits of conscience and ethics, which have become independent goals, from the vile and degrading torment of the vain vision which is called conscience and morality." Hitler declared his intentions to the interviewer: "The war for control of the world is only between us – the war between the Germans and the Jews. Everything else is merely for the sake of appearance... The Tablets of Mount Sinai have lost their significance. Conscience is merely a Jewish invention... Israel, the historical nation of the G-d of the spirit, must of necessity have a hatred as deep as the abyss for the German nation, which worships the god of nature. Peace between these two gods is an impossibility."
Here is what Rav Kook wrote about the reason for anti-Semitism: "Until the coming of the future redemption, the only influence we have on the world is to teach obligations, morality, and justice... The world does not want to accept any obligations, and if they do accept them, they maintain in their hearts a grudge against the main ones who have dissipated the information about the obligations, who do not allow the barbarian soul to expand."
In the future, all the people will recognize the value of the influence of Judaism and its contributions to humanity, and therefore "ten men from all the other nations will take hold of the edge of the garment of every Jewish man, and they will say, we will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you" [Zecharia 8:23].

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Deepest Fear

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of G-d. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The Purity Of Children

הטבעיות הטהורה של נשמת האדם יכולים אנו להכיר בהבחנה עמוקה וחודרת בקטנותו של אדם, בתקופת הילדות - בעוד לא נזדהמה נשמתו בזוהמת השאור שבעיסה שבמהומת החיים. בהבנה מבוררות רואים אנו כמה נוח אז הוא האדם לקבל רגש אלקי וכמה הוא מוכשר להיות מושפע לחבת קדושה ויראת שמים, תיכף משבא לכלל דעה כל שהיא

המאמר קרבת אלהים בספר מאמרי הראיה עמ' 32-39

We can recognize the purity of the human soul during the period of childhood before the soul has been contaminated by the illicit desires and forbidden yearnings of life. With a clear penetrating perspective we can observe how easy it is to inculcate children with spiritual feelings, holiness and fear of G-d, from the time the child has reached the most basic level of intellectual comprehension.

Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook used to show his students an article written by a Communist Russian psychologist in the 1920's. He observed that small children are more inclined to believe in G-d and not to accept Commnist ideas. After being continuously indoctrinted with atheistic ideals eventually the child moves away from religious belief. [The article can be found in the sefer Tzadik Be'emunaso Yichye page 433-434.]

I once read about a well known Rav that he couldn't stand children. He said that adults at least can cover up their evil intentions whereas children are often openly, unabashedly cruel. I have stopped learning this Rav's sfarim. Someone who can't see the beauty and purity in children is missing it....

."לפעמים יש עוד אור של ילדות מבורכת גם אצל הבאים בשנים"

"Sometimes the light of the blessed childhood still remains with older people"

Igros Haraayah 3/19

The most pursued quality in this world is HAPPINESS. Everybody wants it - but many find it elusive. My idea is that we are TOO adult like and should try to restore more child like qualities.
Some qualities I see in children more than in adults. This is just my list. You can have your own.
Little children aren't "too busy" to play. Either should we be.

Little children laugh easily - so should we.

Little children are completely themselves - we should be too.

Little children cry when they are sad - we should also.

Little children crave attention - we also need attention and we should realize that.

Little children live with wonder - we should also.

Little children aren't cynical or suspicious of others - we should be a LITTLE less cynical and a LITTLE less suspicious.

Little children don't have an inflated sense of importance thinking that people should listen to them because only they truly understand. We should have a little of that too.

Little children are sweet. Adults could use some of that sweetness. The world would be a better place.

Little children are pure - we could use some of that purity.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

שמעו ותחי נפשכם

A shiur for the fast - here.

Hefker Of Peiros Shviis - Part 1

The Achronim discuss the fundamental question of how we understand the law of the produce becoming hefker [ownerless] on shviis. We know that one's field becomes ownerless on the seventh year and anybody can come in and help himself to the fruits.

The question is - How does this work? In the terminology of the Minchas Chinuch, it is אפקעתא דמלכא - Hashem renders the field ownerless without any human input. Or is it אקרקפתא דגברא - man is commanded to render his field ownerless and if he fails to do so, one who takes his fruits is stealing. There are numerous nafa minah's. 1] If the owner neglected to make his field hefker, is it nevertheless hefker? 2] A field belonging to a חרש-שוטה-וקטן who cannot make a field hefker on their own. 3] Does the owner have to actively mafkir his field in order to fulfill the mitzva or is it sufficient to refrain from working the field. If we take the side of אפקעתא דמלכא then it is hefker even without the owner saying anything, even a field of a חרש-שוטה-וקטן becomes hefker and the mitzva is fulfilled by merely not working the field. If it is אקרקפתא דגברא then the owner must make it hefker, a חש"ו don't have this ability and the mitzva is only done properly when the owner is mafkir.

The Minchas Chinuch [Mitzva 84] says that this is a machlokes between the Mabit and the Beis Yosef, R' Yosef Karo. The Mabit held that the produce of goyim in Eretz Yisroel is patur from trumos and maasros and based his opinion on 2 principles. 1] The very קדושת הפירות of shmita makes the produce patur from maaser even if they wouldn't be hefker at all. 2] Even produce of goyim is hefker since it is אפקעתא דמלכא and not a mitzva on the owner of the land.

The Beis Yosef argued on both points. He contended that the only reason the produce is patur from maaser is because it is hefker. He also believed that the produce of goyim is not hefker since it is not included in the mitzva of shmitta and by extension it is chayav in maaser. The Minchas Chinuch understood that the Beis Yosef held that shmita is אקרקפתא דגברא and goyim are thus exempt.

The Chazon Ish takes issue with this approach and says that according to everyone, shmitta is אפקעתא דמלכא. For more  - please visit Mevakesh again soon when I hope to continue:-).  

לזכות נעכא גיטל בת רחל אסתר זרעא חיא וקימא די לא יפסוק ולא יבטול מפתגמי אורייתא   

More On "Ain Kinyan Chal Al Kinyan" From The Rogochover

לזכות נעכא גיטל בת רחל אסתר זרעא חיא וקיימא זרעא די לא יפסוק ודי לא יבטול מפתגמי אורייתא

In a recent post we discussed how a חלות cannot take effect upon and replace an already existing חלות. So for example - we cannot derive the קנין of ביאה from the fact that a man takes a יפת תואר at war with ביאה because he already had ביאה with her one time [before her conversion]. Hence, the second ביאה is not a full fledged קנין.

The Rogochover, in his broad sweep, marshals another proof for this principal not from the world of nashim, which is the topic of discussion, but from the world of nezikin. When dealing with concrete issues then it is best to stay local and focus on the matter at hand but what interested the Rogochover were the logical constructs that are the underpinnings of Talmudic law. Therefore, it didn't matter what area of halacha he was discussing, he was always open to proving his point from a seemingly unrelated area of halacha, because the logic was parallel and germane to the topic at hand.

The Mishna in Bava Kamma says [45B]: An ox that was bound by a cord and the door was locked before it and he went out and caused damage, both a tam and a muad are liable [because this is a שמירה פחותה - an inferior watching]. So is the opinion of Rebbi Meir. Rebbi Yehuda said that a tam is liable [because inferior watching is not sufficient] and a muad is patur as it says about a shor muad ולא ישמרנו בעליו - his owner failed to guard it, and this ox is guarded [because a שמירה פחותה is enough].

The gemara says: Rav Adda bar Ahava said, Rebbi Yehuda said a muad is patur only for the צד העדאה - the muad side of the animal [the half he would have to pay over and above the צד תמות the tam side of the animal], but the צד תמות remains in place [and he must pay half damages because a tam requires superior watching which is lacking here].

From here we see that an owner is not chayav in a new chiyuv shmira over his ox when it becomes a muad. Rather, the new obligation is built upon his previous obligation to guard the animal as a tam. Therefore, even after the animal gores for the third time and turns into a muad, the original chiyuv shmira remains in force. Hence, even after it becomes a muad, when he watches it with a שמירה פחותה, he must pay for the tam side for which שמירה פחותה is insufficient even though the muad side is not liable. So we see that a new חלות of muad doesn't replace the first חלות of tam.

The Rogochover continues and says וגיטין מ"ח. As is his wont, he doesn't spell out his intentions but leaves it up to the student to figure it out.... So let's see:-).

The gemara [Gittin 48a] says that according to Rebbi Meir who maintains that קנין פירות כקנין הגוף דמי - the ownership of the rights to a field's produce is tantamount to ownership of the essence of the field, when a child acquires a field from his father, whereupon his father dies, and then the son consecrates it to the Beis Hamikdash, we need a special pasuk to teach us that it is considered a שדה אחוזה - inherited field and not a שדה מקנה - acquired field. [There are various halachic differences between the two types of fields. One is that a שדה אחוזה which is consecrated to the Beis Hamikdash and then sold reverts to the kohanim at yovel unlike a שדה מקנה which when consecrated and then sold reverts back to its ancestral owner at yovel - see Rashi in Gittin and Arachim 14a]. Without the pasuk we would assume that the field has the status of a שדה מקנה and not a שדה אחוזה. He cannot inherit the field after acquiring it because אין קנין חל על קנין. Hence the need for a special pasuk to teach that it nevertheless has the status of a שדה אחוזה.

For The Love Of Money

By Sam Polk - excerpted from the New York Times
IN my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million — and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted.
Eight years earlier, I’d walked onto the trading floor at Credit Suisse First Boston to begin my summer internship. I already knew I wanted to be rich, but when I started out I had a different idea about what wealth meant. I’d come to Wall Street after reading in the book “Liar’s Poker” how Michael Lewis earned a $225,000 bonus after just two years of work on a trading floor. That seemed like a fortune. Every January and February, I think about that time, because these are the months when bonuses are decided and distributed, when fortunes are made.
I’d learned about the importance of being rich from my dad. He was a modern-day Willy Loman, a salesman with huge dreams that never seemed to materialize. “Imagine what life will be like,” he’d say, “when I make a million dollars.” While he dreamed of selling a screenplay, in reality he sold kitchen cabinets. And not that well. We sometimes lived paycheck to paycheck off my mom’s nurse-practitioner salary.
Dad believed money would solve all his problems. At 22, so did I. When I walked onto that trading floor for the first time and saw the glowing flat-screen TVs, high-tech computer monitors and phone turrets with enough dials, knobs and buttons to make it seem like the cockpit of a fighter plane, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It looked as if the traders were playing a video game inside a spaceship; if you won this video game, you became what I most wanted to be — rich.
IT was a miracle I’d made it to Wall Street at all. While I was competitive and ambitious — a wrestler at Columbia University — I was also a daily drinker and pot smoker and a regular user of cocaine, Ritalin and ecstasy. I had a propensity for self-destruction that had resulted in my getting suspended from Columbia for burglary, arrested twice and fired from an Internet company for fistfighting. I learned about rage from my dad, too. I can still see his red, contorted face as he charged toward me. I’d lied my way into the C.S.F.B. internship by omitting my transgressions from my résumé and was determined not to blow what seemed a final chance. The only thing as important to me as that internship was my girlfriend, a starter on the Columbia volleyball team. But even though I was in love with her, when I got drunk I’d sometimes end up with other women.
Three weeks into my internship she wisely dumped me. I don’t like who you’ve become, she said. I couldn’t blame her, but I was so devastated that I couldn’t get out of bed. In desperation, I called a counselor whom I had reluctantly seen a few times before and asked for help.
She helped me see that I was using alcohol and drugs to blunt the powerlessness I felt as a kid and suggested I give them up. That began some of the hardest months of my life. Without the alcohol and drugs in my system, I felt like my chest had been cracked open, exposing my heart to air. The counselor said that my abuse of drugs and alcohol was a symptom of an underlying problem — a “spiritual malady,” she called it. C.S.F.B. didn’t offer me a full-time job, and I returned, distraught, to Columbia for senior year.
After graduation, I got a job at Bank of America, by the grace of a managing director willing to take a chance on a kid who had called him every day for three weeks. With a year of sobriety under my belt, I was sharp, cleareyed and hard-working. At the end of my first year I was thrilled to receive a $40,000 bonus. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to check my balance before I withdrew money. But a week later, a trader who was only four years my senior got hired away by C.S.F.B. for $900,000. After my initial envious shock — his haul was 22 times the size of my bonus — I grew excited at how much money was available.
Over the next few years I worked like a maniac and began to move up the Wall Street ladder. I became a bond and credit default swap trader, one of the more lucrative roles in the business. Just four years after I started at Bank of America, Citibank offered me a “1.75 by 2” which means $1.75 million per year for two years, and I used it to get a promotion. I started dating a pretty blonde and rented a loft apartment on Bond Street for $6,000 a month.
I felt so important. At 25, I could go to any restaurant in Manhattan — Per Se, Le Bernardin — just by picking up the phone and calling one of my brokers, who ingratiate themselves to traders by entertaining with unlimited expense accounts. I could be second row at the Knicks-Lakers game just by hinting to a broker I might be interested in going. The satisfaction wasn’t just about the money. It was about the power. Because of how smart and successful I was, it was someone else’s job to make me happy
Still, I was nagged by envy. On a trading desk everyone sits together, from interns to managing directors. When the guy next to you makes $10 million, $1 million or $2 million doesn’t look so sweet. Nonetheless, I was thrilled with my progress.
My counselor didn’t share my elation. She said I might be using money the same way I’d used drugs and alcohol — to make myself feel powerful — and that maybe it would benefit me to stop focusing on accumulating more and instead focus on healing my inner wound. “Inner wound”? I thought that was going a little far and went to work for a hedge fund.
Now, working elbow to elbow with billionaires, I was a giant fireball of greed. I’d think about how my colleagues could buy Micronesia if they wanted to, or become mayor of New York City. They didn’t just have money; they had power — power beyond getting a table at Le Bernardin. Senators came to their offices. They were royalty.
I wanted a billion dollars. It’s staggering to think that in the course of five years, I’d gone from being thrilled at my first bonus — $40,000 — to being disappointed when, my second year at the hedge fund, I was paid “only” $1.5 million.
But in the end, it was actually my absurdly wealthy bosses who helped me see the limitations of unlimited wealth. I was in a meeting with one of them, and a few other traders, and they were talking about the new hedge-fund regulations. Most everyone on Wall Street thought they were a bad idea. “But isn’t it better for the system as a whole?” I asked. The room went quiet, and my boss shot me a withering look. I remember his saying, “I don’t have the brain capacity to think about the system as a whole. All I’m concerned with is how this affects our company.”
I felt as if I’d been punched in the gut. He was afraid of losing money, despite all that he had.
From that moment on, I started to see Wall Street with new eyes. I noticed the vitriol that traders directed at the government for limiting bonuses after the crash. I heard the fury in their voices at the mention of higher taxes. These traders despised anything or anyone that threatened their bonuses. Ever see what a drug addict is like when he’s used up his junk? He’ll do anything — walk 20 miles in the snow, rob a grandma — to get a fix. Wall Street was like that. In the months before bonuses were handed out, the trading floor started to feel like a neighborhood in “The Wire” when the heroin runs out.
I’d always looked enviously at the people who earned more than I did; now, for the first time, I was embarrassed for them, and for me. I made in a single year more than my mom made her whole life. I knew that wasn’t fair; that wasn’t right. Yes, I was sharp, good with numbers. I had marketable talents. But in the end I didn’t really do anything. I was a derivatives trader, and it occurred to me the world would hardly change at all if credit derivatives ceased to exist. Not so nurse practitioners. What had seemed normal now seemed deeply distorted.
Wealth addiction was described by the late sociologist and playwright Philip Slater in a 1980 book, but addiction researchers have paid the concept little attention. Like alcoholics driving drunk, wealth addiction imperils everyone. Wealth addicts are, more than anybody, specifically responsible for the ever widening rift that is tearing apart our once great country. Wealth addicts are responsible for the vast and toxic disparity between the rich and the poor and the annihilation of the middle class. Only a wealth addict would feel justified in receiving $14 million in compensation — including an $8.5 million bonus — as the McDonald’s C.E.O., Don Thompson, did in 2012, while his company then published a brochure for its work force on how to survive on their low wages. Only a wealth addict would earn hundreds of millions as a hedge-fund manager, and then lobby to maintain a tax loophole that gave him a lower tax rate than his secretary.
DESPITE my realizations, it was incredibly difficult to leave. I was terrified of running out of money and of forgoing future bonuses. More than anything, I was afraid that five or 10 years down the road, I’d feel like an idiot for walking away from my one chance to be really important. What made it harder was that people thought I was crazy for thinking about leaving. In 2010, in a final paroxysm of my withering addiction, I demanded $8 million instead of $3.6 million. My bosses said they’d raise my bonus if I agreed to stay several more years. Instead, I walked away
Dozens of different types of 12-step support groups — including Clutterers Anonymous and On-Line Gamers Anonymous — exist to help addicts of various types, yet there is no Wealth Addicts Anonymous. Why not? Because our culture supports and even lauds the addiction. Look at the magazine covers in any newsstand, plastered with the faces of celebrities and C.E.O.'s; the superrich are our cultural gods. I hope we all confront our part in enabling wealth addicts to exert so much influence over our country.
I generally think that if one is rich and believes they have “enough,” they are not a wealth addict. On Wall Street, in my experience, that sense of “enough” is rare. The money guy doing a job he complains about for yet another year so he can add $2 million to his $20 million bank account seems like an addict.
I recently got an email from a hedge-fund trader who said that though he was making millions every year, he felt trapped and empty, but couldn’t summon the courage to leave. I believe there are others out there. Maybe we can form a group and confront our addiction together. And if you identify with what I’ve written, but are reticent to leave, then take a small step in the right direction. Let’s create a fund, where everyone agrees to put, say, 25 percent of their annual bonuses into it, and we’ll use that to help some of the people who actually need the money that we’ve been so rabidly chasing. Together, maybe we can make a real contribution to the world.