Friday, July 31, 2015

Kefira - Join Me - Kill Cancer - Different Sides Of The Family

I have starting researching an article on the topic of kefirah [heresy רח"ל]. Why are people kofrim, how to prevent it, the roots, the tikkun etc. etc. If anybody has anything from our sefarim hakdoshim, I would appreciate if you would share.

R' Dovid'l of Tolna said that the world is divided between kofrim and maaminim. But not that some people believe and others deny but that every person is part kofer part maamin. We MUST do everything we can to obliterate this horrible curse from our midst and help bring people to Emunah tehora.

I will try and hope that I am not alone. Please join me.

After my most recent article on the topic of "atzvus" [sadness] I fear that people will call me the "Baal Ha-atzvus". Now it could be worse - the "Baal Hakfira". I assure you that my intentions are to remove atzvus and kefirah - which incidentally are closely related. True maaminim are never really sad. עז וחדוה במקומו. With Hashem there is only joy. True kofrim are sad to the point of being suicidal. Lucky for them they don't think enough to reach obvious conclusions. But if they are right then they are just overdeveloped monkeys who are hear because of some cosmic accident 15 billion years ago. Is anyone sad when a monkey dies? They say we are monkeys and nothing we do has meaning. If it does, then it is fake and contrived meaning. Nothing is real. Nothing matters.


So we want to eradicate this cancer that afflicts to a certain extent even frum Jews.

Reminds me of a favorite myseh of mine:

A young child asked his mother where he came from. From me and daddy, she answered. And you and daddy? From our parents. Them? Their parents? All the way back to Adam and Eve who were created by Hashem.

Then he went to his father, a "learned" university professor, with a big bald head and glasses half way down his nose and asked him the same series of questions. The father explained that they are really descended from monkeys.

The boy went back to his mother and said that he doesn't understand. Daddy says we come from monkeys and you say we come from G-d.
His mother smiled and explained "We are both right. You see, my side of the family came from G-d. Daddy's side came from monkeys".

A Dance Of Avraham Avinu

Dancing is called ריקוד. מרקד is a melacha on Shabbos meaning "sifting". We sift the flour in order to separate the good from the bad. So when we dance, we are trying to separate the pure holy side of us from the more base and profane side. We elevate ourselves from the crude earth and enter into a different realm.

There are two basic types of dances. 1] A "Avraham Tentzel" a dance of Avraham Avinu, where it brings out the pure and holy. 2] A "Bilaam Tentzel" which brings out the more coarse side. This is common in discos and the like.

A ger in Bnei Brak once met the Chazon Ish on the street and told the gadol of his loneliness and sadness. The Chazon Ish asked him if he knows how to sing. He replied that of course he does. The Chazon Ish asked him to sing and which he did. The Chazon Ish started dancing in front of this man.

Nora Noraos. The gadol ha-dor dancing in front of this poor lonely man. When people saw this they joined. The streets of Bnei Brak were filled with dancing.

That was a "Avraham Tentzel".

[משכיל לשלמה עמ' קנ"ט]


Wait For Shabbos

שמור את יום השבת לקדשו [ה יב]
שמור מלשון "ואביו שמר את הדבר" [בראשית לז יא] היינו שממתינים ומתגעגעים לקדושת השבת כל ימות החול.
ולמדרגה זו הגיעו בדברות השניות שבמשנה תורה [ראה במכילתא יתרו פרשה ז על הפסוק זכור את יום השבת שמות ג ח ובביצה טז א].
The word shamor can mean "anticipate" as it says about Yaakov after he heard about Yosef's dreams ואביו שמר את הדבר - He waited to see when they would be fulfilled. We should similarly anxiously anticipate the coming of Shabbos all week long. שמור את יום השבת. We reached this level at the time of the second luchos [where שמור was written and not זכור as in the first].
לזכות ידידי אהובי הרב ר' אריאל ישעיה' בן פסח דוד וכל בני ביתו

Dveykus Of The Klal

"ואתם הדבקים בד' אלקיכם חיים כלכם היום" [ד ד]

אין לישראל חיים של פרט כי אם חיים של כלל ובלא זה אין חייהם חיים וחיי הכלל הם חיי הנשמה ולכן אם תהיו דבקים בד' אלקיכם תזכו שחייכם יהיו חיי הכלל. חיים כולכם היום.
"You who are cleaving to Hashem are ALL LIVING today"
We must cleave to Hashem as a community. The jews don't live lives of the individual but of the community and that is the true soulfull life. חיים כולכם - You ALL live. It must be in the context of everyone.
[Mei Marom]
לזכות ר' אריאל ישעיה' בן פסח דוד

How To Get Close

"ואתם הדבקים בה' אלקיכם" [ואתחנן ד' ד']

אתם ולא אומות העולם, כי הם לא יוכלו בשום אופן להדבק בד' זולת ע"י אמצעות ישראל, ובידם להרכין ראש ולבטל את עצמם לפניהם והדבקות הזאת היא התורה שבה נברא העולם ואם יאמר לך אדם יש תורה באדום אל תאמין.
"You are clinging to Hashem"
Only YOU, the Jews. A gentile can only cling to Hashem through Klal Yisrael. The medrash says that one should not believe someone who claims that there is Torah among the goyim.
[Mei Marom]
לזכות ידידי אהובי ר' אריאל ישיעיה' בן פסח דוד

Do Not Fear

ונשב בגיא מול בית פעור
אמר להם משה לישראל, אף על פי שלא זכיתי להכנס לארץ ישראל ולא יעלה בידי לגלות נפלאות עוז הקדש של עטרת תפארת קדושת הארץ באופן שתתפשט בכל העולם כולו ולהעביר בזה את רוח הטומאה מן הארץ והיה
צורך לחזור לסדר העבודה שבחו"ל ללחום נגד הטומאה ולהכות באגרוף את הרשע, והמלחמה עם בית פעור היא מלחמה קשה מאד ודרושים כחות גדולים כדי להכניע אותה ולנצחה, בכל זאת ישבנו בשלוה ובבטחה כי יכול נוכל לה. ונשב בגיא מול בית פעור ולא פחדנו ממנה מאומה באשר ד' אתנו.
We sat in in the valley, opposite the house of Peor [the horrific idol].
The word ונשב implies settling in a relaxed manner. We were able to dwell with a sense of security. Despite the fact that Moshe was not to enter Eretz Yisrael and would not be able to reveal the great sanctity of the land in such a way that it would spread to the entire earth and remove the spirit of impurity from the land. And now he had to perform his Divine service outside the land to defeat the sources of impurity and in addition the war against בעל פעור is especially strenuous and requires tremendous energy, nevertheless we sat calmly and with a sense of security and were not afraid because Hashem was with us.
ונשב בגיא מול בית פעור - We were able to sit calmly for Hashem was on our side.
[Mei Marom Vol. 5]
This is a lesson for us. WHEREVER we are we have to battle tremendous sources of tumah. The tumah of technology, of the street, of the yetzer who tries to knock us down and out etc. etc. But fear not for Hashem is with you along the way. Make sure to remember that:-).
לזכות ידידי אהובי הרב ר' אריאל ישיעי' בן יסכה רחל 

Loving Hashem

From an email ....
Shaaloooommmmm Swweeetest friends!!!!!
A huuuuuuge mazeeellll tov R' and Mrs. Rafi Goodman on the birth of their firstborn son - Nathan Alexander!! May he a be light unto Israel and always in good health and happiness!!!

This Dvar Torah is dedicated in Nathan's zchus, sponsored by ... me!!!:-):-) Love you Nathan. You are a sweety pie! Next time I am on West End Avenue I can visit and we GOTTA do lunch. You like fast food? Maybe I'll bring over hot dogs from ...Nathans.
In this weeks parsha we read of the mitzva to love Hashem with all of your soul. ואהבת את ה' אלקיך בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך .   Chazal teach us that this means that one must be ready to give up his soul and die for Hashem if necessary. The psukim continue and say והיו הדברים האלה אשר אנכי מצוך היום על לבבך - These words should be on your heart. What are "these words"? Rashi says that it refers to Torah. The pasuk is telling us that if you want to express your love for Hashem, the way to do it is to learn Torah.
This is strange. The correct order is to first tell me HOW to do the mitzva and only then to tell me the PRICE of the mitzva. Here we go backwards - first we learn the price of the mitzva [even if it costs you your life] and only then do we learn how to do the mitzva [by studying Torah]?
The answer is that loving Hashem is much different from loving your fellow man. One must love his fellow man but one must NOT die for him - חייך קודמין, your life comes first. However, love of Hashem is of a completely different nature. Loving Hashem means realizing that you don't really exist without Him and that He is EVERYTHING so of course one must give up one's life. Dying for Hashem is not the PRICE of the mitzva, that we even have to pay with our lives, but the ESSENCE of the mitzva. The nature of the mitzva is such that it automatically encompasses our life and existence. Without Hashem we are nothing. He is EVERYTHING and we are so filled with love for the source of all good, all pleasure, all sweetness, all love, all life. Die for Him? "Avade - what's the shyla" they say in Monsey.
So first we learn the essence of the mitzva - Hashem is everything and our lives are nothing. Our love is so deep that our own existence is meaningless when it contradicts Hashem's will [such as when forced to do the three cardinal sins]. Afterwards, we learn how to perform this mitzva - namely, by learning Torah. והיו הדברים האלה וכו
Today is Tu B'av. That is really awesome because I am looking for a shidduch for my daughter Gila and I don't have to look anymore. Au contraire - the gemara says that the boys look. The girls put on white dresses that they borrowed from each other, dance in the vineyards and call out to the boys שא נא עיניך וראה - please raise up your eyes and see [and choose us]. They have to say "please look" because good frum boys are used to not looking....
Anyway - I hope there is good news soon for her and all people looking for their match. I also bless all the parents that they can pay for it!
Chazal say that it was the happiest day of the year. I think that the day right after Tisha B'Av is the happiest day of the year because people are so happy that Tisha B'av is over. But Chazal, with their great Ruach Hakodesh saw otherwise.
What was so great about Tu B'av? Some say that we skip Tachanun. But that is not enough...

One reason given by the gemara for the specialness of the day is that it was יום תבר מגל - the day they finished cutting wood for the Beis Hamikdash. Why were they so happy about that?
Rabbeinu Gershom [Bava Basra 121a] explains that now they have more time to LEARN TORAH! That is a cause for great simcha.
This Torah must be learned as the Torah prescribes - אשר אנכי מצוך היום - that I command you TODAY, which means according to Chazal בכל יום יהיו בעיניך כחדשים - EVERY DAY WE MUST LEARN AS IF IT WAS THE FIRST DAY EVER!! With complete freshness and excitement. מיט פרישקייט! Only then will we feel the Ahavas Hashem that learning is supposed to create. All too often we learn with a heaviness and boredom which ultimately necessitate the ritual washing of three times on each hand [called "negelvasser"]. Our task is to feel tremendous chiyus and excitement every time we are fortunate enough to learn Hashem's sweet Torah.

Interesting that the place from where we derive that every time must be exciting is the "shema" which is something we say every day at least three times. Even something said so often must never get old. 

[Based mostly on a sicha given by the Tolna Rebbe Shlita 5768]
May we feel the simcha of Tu B'av with a reawakened commitment to learning Torah with excitement and freshness, May we hear of many new shidduchim in Klal Yisrael. We have this Atomic Bomb crisis with Iran so we can't also handle a shidduch crisis. Every new couple means two happier people and 1 plus 1 ultimately equals 8 -12 imy"H!!
Love and blessings and a sweet Shabbos Nachamu to all!!    

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sudden Downfall

There is a very popular Rav here in Israel who has a lot of videos one can see on the Internet where he is mobbed by followers who give him the honor accorded normally to a gadol bi-yisrael. I saw one video where he entered the hall, the music blared ימים על ימי מלך תוסיף - may the king have added years, and people went beserk. He then gave a shiur and people were hanging on every word and eating it up. Before and after his shiurim the faithful crowd around him and kiss his hand like there is no tomorrow.

A King indeed. One of the richest rabbis on the world, great yichus, thousands of fawning followers, a mini-empire.

One minor detail. He was found guilty of illegal financial dealings and is going/ already went, to the slammer.


One day he is the "King", the next he is a prison inmate who must spend the next year locked up and doing forced labor. It doesn't help that last year he was diagnosed with cancer רח"ל....

It haunts me.

For that is life.

What do I mean?

Nobody sings to me ימים על ימי מלך תוסיף. Besides my mother, wife and children, I don't know too many people who care so much whether I have long years or not. Nothing personal. People are just busy with their own lives and families. Sometimes, when I walk into a room the band is playing music but that is only because I am attending a wedding and the music is not in my honor. In fact, I am not looking for honor. I have received much honor in my life, far more than I deserve on too many occasions, and I can attest to the fact that it is all hot air. Really. Nobody really cares how important you are. It does nothing for you. Very often, the people giving honor are just humoring the person but don't really mean it anyway. And at the end of the day, I have to pay rent, and being shown honor and be awarded honorific titles doesn't pay the rent. So the issue is not the honor.

The reason I am haunted is because in this world things can be one way and in the next world it will be completely different. This world is COMPLETE SHEKER while the next world is COMPLETE EMES. This man's downfall is a paradigm for the greater picture.

I have been gifted with a sixth sense to understand people and see beyond the facade. Sometimes I want to say to people - "Who do you think you are fooling?" At other times I just want to tell them their personality defects of which very often they are completely ignorant. But I am polite and never want to hurt someone's feelings so I keep it to myself.

But one day all of the truth comes out and we receive reward and punishment based on who we really are. EVERYTHING people think about us in this world is as relevant as an aged, yellowed, ripped piece of newspaper from China in the mid 1950's. Garbage.

I am haunted because it all can end in a second and then we are thrust from our fake illusionary reality into something real. Then the real me will be exposed and that is scary. I see personality defects in other people but I see even more when I look in the mirror.

So my personal conclusion [you can draw your own] is that we have to drill into ourselves the one immutable truth.

איז דאך אלץ הבל הבלים אין עוד מלבדו - Everything is complete vanity and all that really matters and all that really exists is Hashem.  

Making The Most Out Of Things

"Just 7 colors in the rainbow and look at what Chagall did with them.

Just 7 musical notes and look at what Beethoven did with them.

Just 10 numbers and look at what .... Madoff did with them."

Kerem Bi-yavne - Wine And Grapes - After The Churban - There is Hope

Let us learn a shtikel gemara and see mamesh niflaos mi-toras Hashem al pi Toras Maran HaRav Kook. 

תנו רבנן כשנכנסו רבותינו לכרם ביבנה היו שם רבי יהודה ורבי יוסי ור' נחמיה ור' אליעזר בנו של רבי יוסי הגלילי. פתחו כולם בכבוד אכסניא ודרשו פתח רבי יהודה ראש המדברים בכל מקום בכבוד תורה ודרש (שמות לג, ז) ומשה יקח את האהל ונטה לו מחוץ למחנה והלא דברים קל וחומר ומה ארון ה' שלא היה מרוחק אלא שנים עשר מיל אמרה תורה (שמות לג, ז) והיה כל מבקש ה' יצא אל אהל מועד תלמידי חכמים שהולכים מעיר לעיר וממדינה למדינה ללמוד תורה על אחת כמה וכמה.
 Our Rabbis have taught: When our teachers entered the vineyard at Yavneh, there were among them R. Judah and R. Jose and R. Nehemiah and R. Eliezer the son of R. Jose the Galilean [most guys I know named Jose are from Puerto Rico. But he was a holy Tanna and his name was NOT "Jose"]. They all spoke in honor of hospitality and expounded texts [for that purpose]. R. Judah, the head of the speakers in every place, spoke in honour of the Torah and expounded the text, Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it without the camp. Have we not here, he said, an argument a fortiori [קל וחומר]? Seeing that the Ark of the Lord was never more than twelve mil distant and yet the Torah says, Everyone that sought the Lord went out unto the tent of meeting, how much more [is this title applicable to] the disciples of the wise who go from city to city and from province to province to learn Torah!
I copied the entire passage but we will focus on the first line and return to the rest in a later post bez"H.
What troubles anyone who reads the gemara is why it is so important for us to know that they were in Kerem Bi-yavneh. Is this to convince guys to go there and not to Shaalvim? I think not. There is obviously SOME MESSAGE embedded in the teaching that they were in Kerem Bi-yavneh. Also, Yavne is a place and Kerem is a vineyard. Were they farmers or rabbis? What is the meaning of Kerem?

Let us remember some history. After the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, Yavne became a center of Torah knowledge and even the Sanhedrin sat there. With that in mind we will see what Maran HaRav does with this gemara with the G-dly spirit that dwelt upon him.
 ההלכות יהיו נחתכות בשני אופנים, או מצד הנתוח הפשוט שלהם בראיות נבנות ע"פ מדות התורה, או סברות שכליות פשוטות מכוון לשופט שאמרה תורה לשמע בקולו בפרשת כי יפלא ממך דבר למשפטי. ועוד יש יתרון לגבורי כח עומדים בסוד עיקרי תורה, שלפעמים יגיעו הדברים לחתוך הלכות שבתורה ע"פ שרשי ידיעות כלליות מעומק טעמי תורה, אשר אמנם נסתמו . לנו דרכיהם בפרט למעשה. אבל גלויים היו לרבותינו אלה, "אלה הדברים עשיתים כבר גליתים לר"ע וחביריו" .
There are two ways to decide halacha. One is with razor sharp logic, analysis, proofs based on the laws of hermeneutics [י"ג מדות] and the like. There is another way: Sometimes those who behold the Divine spirit are able to decide halacha based on deeper secrets of the Torah which are hidden from us but are revealed to his chosen scholars such as Rebbi Akiva and his friends.
ע"כ נמשלה ישיבתם לכרם שיש בו שני מיני שימושים בפריו, אכילת הענבים הפשוטה "כי תבא בכרם רעך ואכלת ענבים כנפשך" , ועוד שימוש יותר נעלה מעילוי ע"י יין הנעשה מהענבים מתוכיותם. הצד הראשון נערך נגד הדרישה הפשוטה שבתורה, והצד השני נגד הדרישה העמוקה והנסתרת מעיני אנשים שלא הגיעו למדה זו.
Therefore, the rabbis were said analogously to have been sitting in a "vineyard". There was the consumption of grapes as a worker does when he works in the vineyard. And another more elevated use which is when the grapes are used for their "pnimiyus" - their insides, for wine.
Grapes represent the common way of deriving laws while wine represents the hidden approach.
 והמתיחדים רק בעסק הדברים המיוסדים בעומק סתרי תורה קראום חכמי הזוהר בשם מחצדי חקלא, לעומת בעלי הכרם שבהם שני האכילות עומדות לכך כדרכם, בא ההנאה של השדה דוקא אחרי רוב מעשה ועבודה של קצירה עימור דישה וטחינה. כן חכמת סתרי תורה תבואר רק ע"פ הישרה רבה בהכנות מרובות, וכשהם בעינם טרם נעבדו ונבררו לא יוצלחו להיות למזון רוחני נעים לעם. לא כן הקיבוץ על כללות התורה בכל דרכיה העיוניות והמעשיות, שנבנה לה מקום ביבנה, ע"פ עצת ד' להקים עדות ביעקב ולהאיר אור ישראל בשקוע שמשו הלאומי והמדיני, נקבצו שתי התעודות יחד העיון והמעשה. הכרם נעבד והענבים נאכלו גם הם לתיאבון ומשיב נפש כמו שהם גופי תורה והלכות מאוששות, גם הריקו מעליהם יינה של תורה, בעומק הגיון וחכמת אלהים.  
Those who study the hidden Torah are called מחצדי חקלא - Reapers of the field. In contrast to the nature of a vineyard where both types of eating [grapes and wine] may be done in their normal way, a field can only be enjoyed after really hard work - reaping, gathering, threshing and grinding. So too, the secrets of Torah can only be understood after lots of intensive preparation and before the requisite preparation they cannot be appreciated by the people.

What was special about Yavneh was that it was like a vineyard, which doesn't require such hard work and has the benefits of both the revealed and hidden Torah. There are grapes which represents the revealed Torah and there is also the wine which represents the hidden Torah.

At this time the people of the hidden Torah didn't have to be מחצדי חקלא because Hashem wanted to establish the foundation of Torah after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. Now, both the world of action, revealed Torah, grapes, and the world of hidden Torah, secrets, the wine of Torah with all of its profundity and G-dly wisdom, will be perceived by the Jews and Torah will continue to flourish.

In summation, we learn from the words כרם ביבנה that after the destruction, when the Talmidei Chachomim went to Yavne, Hashem made certain that both the revealed, action oriented side of Torah and the more hidden, esoteric side, would remain strong. This is expressed by the imagery of a "vineyard" where one can easily get both grapes and wine.

I think I might go to KBY after all....

PS - Back in my time the stereotype was that the really "frum" kids went to KBY, the really "nice" kids went to Shaalvim, the really "smart" kids went to the Gush, the "bummy" kids went to .... and the kids who were heavy into drugs went to .... I didn't go to the first three yeshivos, and I certainly have never touched drugs in my life [excluding Shev Shmatsa with the heyaros of the Steipler]. I hope I was never a bum. No matter what - I can still do teshuva.

As long as the candle of my soul burns-  there is hope:-).  
לזכות רבי דוד שוקראללה בן רחל לברכה והצלחה ואהבה רבה

Don't Tell:-)

"Don't tell people your problems. 90 percent probably don't care. 
And the other 10 percent are glad you have them"

Lou Holtz

Those Were The Days

To think I was once so young.....

Health Care

A woman telephoned the Mount Sinai Hospital.

"Hello, I'd like to talk to someone who can give me some up-to-date information about one of your patients."

The operator said, "Please hold while I find someone who can help." Soon, an authoritative voice said, "I'm the hospital manager. Are you the lady who is asking about one of our patients?"

"Yes," she replied, "I'd like to know exactly how Rifka Levy in Room 23 is doing." He replied,
"Levy, now let me see…Lewis, Levine, Levy… yes, I have Mrs. Levy's details here. It says she is doing very well. She's eaten two full meals and her doctor says if she continues improving, he is going to release her on Tuesday. Is that the information you need?"

The woman said, "Yes, it's wonderful news that she's going home on Tuesday. I'm so happy."

The manager then asked, "From your excitement, you must be one of Mrs. Levy's close family."

She says, "What close family? I am Rifka Levy. My doctor won't tell me anything."

The Kvittel And The Rebbe

From my archives for Tu B'av....

A tearjerker!

A wedding at Moshav Talelei Shachar. Uncle Shmuel, the uncle of the chassan, approaches the microphone after the chuppah to say a few words.

"Dear Congregation, for 30 years I am an electrician on the Moshav, but now I feel an obligation to tell a story that is more befitting for a Rabbi than for an electrician. Eight years ago I decided to travel to the death camps in Poland. As you know my parents are holocaust survivors and I felt a strong need to find out where they came from. My wife was against the trip. You don't vacation in Aushwitz, she argued. But ultimately I was able to convince her.

One day we visited a small, unknown death camp where my father was an inmate for four years. We walked around the camp and wiped away tears. Suddenly we saw a man in Chassidic garb, about 85 years old rushing towards us.

"Are you Jews from Israel?"


"Today is our Rebbe's yahrtzeit. His grave is about 5 kilometers north. Go there, write a kvittel [note] and ask for something you need and you will see wonders and miracles. Believe me, any person who came on the yahrtzeit and wrote a kvittel received what he asked for."

Nu, continued Uncle Shmuel, I am not so religious and wanted him to leave me alone. However the Divine Spirit suddenly rested on my wife and she pressured me to go until I relented.

We arrived at the grave and saw Chassidim chuckling back and forth. I wanted to leave but my wife pressured me - "Shmuel, write a kvittel!" What kvittel? I don't speak to dead people, I told her. You write. So my wife took out a pen and paper and wrote something. I have no idea what she wrote. She then found a crack and stuck it in. In the meantime the Chassidim got on their minibusses and left. Suddenly a big Polish farmer came with two pails. He started gathering thousands of kvittlach and placed them in the pails.

"Hello Mister! What are you doing?"

The Polish farmer answered in broken English that once a year he gathers the papers and burns them in his courtyard.

Thousands of people come and write kvittlach to some Rebbe who died a long time ago. What were they writing? The curiosity was killing me. So I decided to pick out ONE kvittel and see what a person wrote. Just one.

Dear Friends, Chosson and Kallah, for 8 years I am walking around with this kvittel and with your permission I will read it.

Shmuel the electrician took out his wallet and pulled out an old, creased, yellowed note and started to read.

"Dear Rebbe,

They tell me that you are connected to the Creator and you make sure that people are granted whatever they ask of you on your yahrtzeit. I am a simple Jewish boy and I have one request. I know a kindhearted girl named Michal. Please do me a favor and ask the Creator to convince her to marry me.

Natan from Moshav Tallelei Shachar"

Natan and Michal - MAZEL TOV! This kvittel was written by our chattan 10 years ago when he was 17 and a half and today I am at his chuppah. Today I see the power an elderly Rabbi possesses to make things happen... Do you understand, from the thousands of kvittlach I took specifically the kvittel of my beloved nephew and guarded it like a treasure. You are right, Shmuel is no big religious guy but Shmuel tells you that you Natan and Michal are not only a match from Heaven - but a match from the kvittlach.

The Chosson Natan ran towards his Uncle Shmuel and looked at the kvittel. "I am shocked, I don't believe it. Only a blind man would not admit that this is a case of Divine Providence. I forgot about it completely. How did you pick it up from the thousands of kvittlach?!

Yes, dear invited guests, Natan forgot about the kvittel, the Rebbe and the request but the Holy Shechina which surrounds the chuppah of this couple caressed his head and sent him a reminder.

Two weeks later Natan and Michal travelled to Poland.

Natan kissed the tombstone and said: "Dear Rebbe, Michal and I are deeply touched. Thank you for your prayers and we promise you honorable Rabbi, to build a holy Jewish home outside the Moshav."

On the other side of the old, creased, yellowed note Michal wrote with a shaking hand the following words:"Daven for us Rebbe that we should succeed on our new path", and she stuck it deep, deep into a hidden crevice so that no Polish farmer would be able to remove it.


[Told by Rav Yaakov Levi, Ohr Ha'Emunah Netzvim Vayeilech]

Eilu Vi-eilu #9 - Machlokes About Metziyus - How Does Hashem Spend His Time? - Who You Shouldn't Make Fun Of - If I Were A Rich Man - Secrets - Torah Not History

A statement of intent

We will endeavor to prove that even in matters pertaining to metziyus we apply the rule אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים. May this Torah be a zchus for Gila Shoshana bas Necha Gittel, Chana Leiba Bas Necha Gittel and Adina Bas Sheva Bas Necha Gittel for everything good. I love them as I would my very own daughters. [Wait a second.....]

Is A War Ever Civil?

In Sefer Shoftim [19] we [meaning girls, who actually learn Navi. Boys should take the cue and learn it to:-)] read of the tragic episode of פילגש בגבעה. A man became angry with his concubine who fled from his house. This eventually led to a chain of events that resulted in her death at the hands of the people of Givah and a civil war [is a war ever civil?]. The gemara [gittin 6b] discusses what incurred his wrath.


The gemara in gittin

ותזנה עליו פילגשו - רבי אביתר אמר זבוב מצא לה, ר' יונתן אמר נימא מצא לה. ואשכחיה ר' אביתר לאליהו, א"ל מאי קא עביד הקב"ה? א"ל עסיק בפילגש בגבעה. ומאי קאמר? אמר ליה אביתר בני כך הוא אומר יונתן בני כך הוא אומר. א"ל ח"ו ומי איכא ספיקא קמי שמיא? א"ל אלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים הן זבוב מצא ולא הקפיד נימא מצא והקפיד. אמר רב יהודה זבוב בקערה ונימא באותו מקום זבוב מאיסותא ונימא סכנתא. איכא דאמרי אידי ואידי בקערה זבוב אונסא ונימא פשיעותא

Commenting on the text, And his concubine strayed against him, [how did she stray?] R. Aviatar said that the Levi found a fly with her, and R. Yonatan said that he found a hair on her.

R. Evyatar soon afterwards came across Eliyahu and said to him: ‘What is the Holy One, blessed be He, doing?’ and he answered, ‘He is discussing the question of the concubine in Givah.’

‘What does He say?’ said Eliyahu: ‘[He says], My son Aviatar says So-and-so, and my son Yonatan says So-and-so,’ Said R. Aviatar: ‘Can there possibly be uncertainty in the mind of the Heavenly One?’ He replied: Both [answers] are the word of the living God. He [the Levi] found a fly and excused it, he found a hair and did not excuse it.

Rav Yeudah explained: He found a fly in his food and a hair in loco concubitus [אותו מקום hey - I just copy from the Soncino]; the fly was merely disgusting, but the hair was dangerous. Some say, he found both in his food; the fly was not her fault, the hair was. [see Rashi]

So much to learn from agada

Before we get down to business, one point - This gemara is FILLED with wonders. To my mind, this is one of the most important gemaras on Shas. We learn here what HASHEM does with his time! He learns Navi according to the understanding of Chazal!! And what topic in particular is he involved in? The question of what made some Levi angry years back. Was it a fly or a hair in the wrong place? Hashem has nothing better to do with his time?! If he is already learning - let him learn Ktzos with Nesivos and add His own chiddushim, kviyachol! No. He is learning a STORY FROM NAVI [like a seminary girl] and is concerned with the question of what teed some guy off. [Maybe it was bein ha-sdarim??]

Noira noraos.

We see from here the importance of learning stories from Navi. We see how important it is to learn according to the understanding of Chazal. We see how important it is to understand each detail. We also see that we shouldn't make fun of seminary girls.

Yet, if you look in all of the lumdishe sefarim written by maggedei shiur and roshei yeshiva you will see that this gemara is SKIPPED. In every yeshiva they learn the first perek of gittin. They will spend a week on one line of Tosfos but not 5 minutes trying to understand this gemara which reveals the secrets of creation! Pilei Pla-os!!

I wish, ayyyyy yyyyy yyyyyyy, that I could fix this and learn these gemaras with bnei yeshiva and avreichim. But alas, no money. And with no money and no status, I am powerless. I tried to start a yeshiva and kollel but I quickly learned that the only person who really wanted me to be successful was me. Alone - I can do nothing. To try to schlep a few dollars out of Jews I find personally to be a Herculean task beyond my capacity. Baruch Hashem many other people have more success. But what we [בס"ד] have to offer is not being utilized. It hurts me a lot but that is ratzon Hashem and we must be mekabel bi-simcha. Maybe I will be zoche one day in the future. All I need is the means and siyata dishmaya and so much can be accomplished. Rich people smile, wish me luck and not even 50 cents. Zol zein a kappara. At any rate, on Mevakesh we try to bring these types of forgotten gemaras into people's consciousness. It doesn't cost me any money to write and it doesn't cost anybody else money to learn, and Baruch Hashem we are zocheh to have a very broad reader base.

Is there a rule of אלו ואלו in questions that seem to be relating to concrete reality?

Back to our topic. When the gemara asked "Can there possibly be uncertainty in the mind of the Heavenly One?" did the gemara not know the rule of אלו ואלו?

It would seem that the give and take revolves around the question of whether you can say אלו ואלו when dealing with a machlokes about a metziyus or a historical fact. First the gemara wondered how He can be unsure - either it was the hair or the fly AND IT COULDN'T HAVE BEEN BOTH because when it comes to מציאות we don't say אלו ואלו.

Eliyahu Hanavi [!!] responds that this understanding is not correct. Even when it comes to concrete reality we say אלו ואלו [at least in this instance - this doesn't obligate you NECESSARILY to follow Rabbeinu Tam. See the 8th installment].

The argument was about something much deeper than what made him angry

As we mentioned before: Isn't it a little strange that Hashem is trying to figure out why some Levi got angry at his concubine? The Holy Rebbe Yosef Chaim of Bahgdad explains [Ben Yehoyada] that one may not understand this gemara on a superficial level. There are great secrets hidden and embedded in the gemara. The same applies to other stories of Tanach. For example: The Torah tells us at the end of Vayishlach who the kings were that ruled in Edom? Like, who cares?? Some goyishe kings. So what. Yet, the Torah tells us about them at length. There are clearly great secrets here that we must try as best we can to reveal.  He concludes the R' Aviatar and R' Yonatan were also telling us deeper secrets.

These sentiments are echoed by Rav Chaim Freidlander [אמונה והשגחה page 273 see there]. His Rebbi, Rav Dessler says the same thing:

...אולם כלל גדול הוא, כשחז"ל אומרים דעות שונות בעניני אגדה, הרי כולן מאירות אותו נושא מצדדים שונים מבחינות שונות (ואינם מחולקים). (חלק ב עמוד רמה)
והנה מפורש בתיקוני זהר דבעניני אגדה וקבלה לא שייך מחלוקת, והביאור הוא כנ"ל, משום ששני המבטים אמת כל אחד בבחינתו, ואינו חלוק למעשה... ופירוש 'פליגי' בזה, שהוא מופרש וחלוק זה מזה. (חלק ג עמוד שנג)

So the question here is NOT [only?] what happened historically but something much more profound that delves into the deeper recesses of existence. [Rav Dessler writes that if we are not on the level to understand the secrets then we shouldn't try - Vol. 4 P. 353]

The starting point must be emunas chachomim

If a person has Emunah in the kedusha of Chazal then this is an easy proposition to accept. For the scoffers, doubters and skeptics, it is not convincing. That is why in the world of Emunah, everything depends on one's starting point. Those who accept the THEORY of evolution as FACT, everything is explained based on this premise. We know, for example, that there is such a strong attraction between the genders because Hashem wanted the world to be populated, so He created women to want to have a man and vice versa. For those who start with a different [and mistaken] premise, a girl sits at home upset that she doesn't have a date because she is programmed that way from the time that she couldn't fend for herself and needed a man to provide for her. Now she doesn't need him anymore because she is making six figures in her law firm but she is programmed and it is too late.... BTW - We can well understand how relations is so pleasurable since we know that Hashem made it that way so that we would procreate. But how did the genders "program themselves" to make relations so pleasurable? Another "miracle" of evolution. One of the billions and billions of "lucky coincidences" that just "happened all by themselves". I don't buy it. ה' מלך ה' מלך ה' ימלך לעולם ועד.

אין עוד מלבדו.

Does the gemara argue history?

We are still left with a question: How to explain gemaras where there is an argument about a historical reality that relates to concrete halacha. Halacha is not an analogy but has a clear expression in our physical world.

Rav Dessler [Michtav M'eliyahu P. 56-57] explains that in certain matters, we lost the mesora as to what actually happened, so the job of the Chachomim is to now expound the psukim in order to determine how it should be done. Once the pasuk is expounded a certain way, it doesn't matter what the historical reality was. Even if the custom was to the contrary, it doesn't matter. The new understanding of the psukim trumps formerly accepted practice. Even if the practice was otherwise, that doesn't mean that there are no other ways of understanding the psukim. אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים.

Rav Karmel [in a footnote there] notes that this explanation sheds light on a wondrous gemara [Shabbos 63b]. The Chachomim say that the ציץ [headplate of the Kohen Gadol] had the words "Kodesh Lashem" written on one line.

Rebbi Elazar ben R' Yosi says that he was on Rome and SAW the ציץ with his own two eyes and the words Kodesh Lashem were actually written on one line.


Yet, one quick glance in the Rambam [כלי מקדש ט א] will reveal that he rules like the Chachomim. Ohhhhh myyyyy Gooooooooo..... We have clear "archaeological proof" [interesting how that "a" snuck its way in after the "h". Shkoyach spell-check] that it was not made according to their understanding, so how can he pasken like them??

The answer is that their understanding is ALSO true, regardless of the fact that accepted practice might have been different. Once we lost the mesorah, we have to learn the psukim and reach our own conclusions. This explanation is implicit in the Rambam himself who concludes that if one writes Kodesh Lashem on one line it is still kosher bi-dieved ופעמים שכתבוהו בשיטה אחת implying that the Rambam was well aware that they used to do it that way [as R' Elazar testified] but it doesn't matter because now we have a new understanding of the psukim.

I believe that this is precisely what Rav Hutner was saying about the machlokes about the shape of the beams [see Eilu Vi-eilu #7]. This explanation also emerges from a Rishon - Tosfos Rabbeinu Peretz [Eiruvin 13]. He was bothered by the problem of how we can say אלו ואלו  about a machlokes regarding the size of the mizbeach.

He answers:

וי"ל דגם כולהו לא היה אלא בחד ענינא אלא חד מוכח מקרא דבדין היה לו להיות הכי, וחד מוכח מקרא דבדין היה לו להיות הכי, והא דקאמר אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים פי' דמתוך הפסוקים יש משמעות למידרש כמר וכמר אבל ודאי לא היה אלא בענין אחד ע"כ.
Exactly as we have been saying. What was in reality was certainly only in accordance with one of the two sides of the machlokes. However what concerns us is the implication of the psukim and not history. See also Rav Elchonon Wasserman [Kuntres Divrei Sofrim 4/6] and the sefer כבוד חכמים [from page 144 written by Rabbi Michoel Bush who seems to have two relatives who made it big in American politics. I wonder if he also named his son Michoel Jr.] to whom I am indebted for most of this post.  


From my archives.... Thought it worth sharing again:

Did you know that 40 million Americans suffer from extreme anxiety?! That is 18 percent of the population. [I seem to know quite a few of them:-).] So almost everytime you go to shul, chances are that 2 out of every ten people in your minyan is suffering from some sort of anxiety disorder [which is very often exacerbated when the chazan goes too slow or the guy next to him blows his nose REALLY LOUD...]. There are a LOT of very tense people out there. It crosses all socio-economic, religious, ethnic and racial borders. Whether he wears a black hat or is actually black, there is a chance that he is struggling with this issue .

My job today is to try to find the Jewish response to this. One Jewish response is to go to a psychiatrist because he is probably Jewish and has tuition and camp fees to pay which probably make him quite anxious and visiting him for treatment [and paying of course...] would help diminish some of that anxiety.

In this weeks parsha we have another answer. The Jews are fleeing from the Arabs  I mean the Egyptians and they are ANXIOUS. On one side - the sea, on the other - blood thirsty enemies.

This is a perfect time for tfilla. Not. Hashem says to Moshe - "What are you screaming for? Tell the Jewish people to travel." [14/15] According to Rav Chaim of "Volozhin" [a small village near Monsey], Hashem was saying "If you just CHILL OUT, and travel with COMPLETE FAITH that everything will work out - then everything will in fact work out."

This was not a time for tfilla. When a girl dreams of her chosson and gets a date with her DREAM boy but doesn't show up because she is busy davening that Hashem should find her a chosson, then she is making a very big mistake.... This was a time for action. The action was to move forward and display their trust in Hashem. Not to lose their bearings. The Egyptians were the ones who were thrust into a maelstrom [GOOD WORD!] of anxiety and tension [see 14/24-25 with Rashi]. The Jews were to remain calm because their Chief Of Staff is the Ribbono Shel Olam Himself.

And you know what - it worked. We're here, aren't we?
I received the following article in an email from the shabbos sheet "Shabbat Bi-shabato" about this topic:
In spite of the silence in the kitchen, he felt that they were calling out to him. There they were, colored candies in the big glass jar, and they were smiling and winking, inviting and tempting him. "Come on, you cute thing, take a chair and climb up to us," they whispered. "Nobody will notice, your mother will not know. Why not put something sweet in your mouth, it's just what you need right now!" Even though he had celebrated his fourth birthday only a week ago, he managed to drag the heavy chair all by himself, climb up on the marble counter, and take the jar off the top of the refrigerator. It was very easy to take the top off, and the path to the prize was simple and very inviting. But then, surprisingly, he had another serious problem. He couldn't pull his hand out of the jar...
He pulled stubbornly, he turned back and forth and used all his strength, but even after a very long time of painful and frustrating effort, his hand remained stuck deep inside the jar. His painful cries filled the room and quickly brought his mother, who had thought that she would grab a few minutes of well-deserved rest. One quick glance was enough for her to understand the problem. From her experience she knew that she could use soap or olive oil to decrease the friction and to allow the hand to free itself from its cramped quarters. For example, that is what she had done when by mistake she had put a small ring on the wrong finger. But this time she had a much smarter idea. "My darling, it's very simple. Let go of the candy. Open up your hand." The weeping boy looked at his mother and did as she had said. Like magic, in a second, he took his hand out without any problem...
The Contracted Muscle
A new baby bursts out into the air with his or her hands tightly clenched. As it were, the whole world is folded into the baby's hands and is held there. It is not easy to convince the baby to give up the treasure held in his little hand. Decades pass, and the moment comes when the person closes his or her eyes and departs from his loved ones. By now, his hands are spread out and open. It takes an entire lifetime for a man to understand his proper place, to realize that even what he had imagined belonged only to him was not really his at all.
During a lifetime, a Jew encounters a wide variety of elements that cause him to exercise the muscle of relaxation. This is a special muscle in the soul which requires constant exercise in order to become free and flexible.
The process begins with what happens every day. A man is required to interrupt his hectic life three times a day, to step back from the race for money and accomplishments, and to pray to the Master of the Universe. He loses precious work time, and all of his meetings and labors must wait for him, but these quality times will help him get back onto the fast track of a life that is upright, true, and more precise.
It seems that this is not enough, and every week there is a need for a longer pause, a full day of relaxation. The person takes a step back, puts aside all the matters of physical material and time, and doesn't even talk about them. This is the opportunity for the soul to get its due, for the internal batteries to be charged with spiritual energy, and to return to the days of activity after the internal world has reached a higher level of harmony and a better order.
Once a year, just at the time of the harvest, when the crops are at their peak and the hearts of the masters of the land are full of satisfaction for the great success during the year, the man must once again back off. For a whole week he leaves his grandiose and comfortable house and goes outside into nature. He sleeps in a temporary dwelling and looks at the stars which twinkle at him through the "sechach."
Once every seven years, an even more drastic step is necessary. The work on the land is stopped completely, and a place of honor is reserved for broader spaces of life and of the soul.
Letting G-d Enter
Is it easy for a person to relax? He will always feel an internal opposition to such a move. It sometimes even brings about a feeling of trepidation and fear. "What will happen when I let go? How can I set aside everything that I have achieved?"
King David uses a sentence with only five words to express the great secret of "surviving during Shemitta" – "Relax and know that I am G-d" [Tehillim 46:11].
Relaxation is an expression of faith, of modesty, of giving in, of patience. It shows that I know my proper place.
Relaxation frees a man from his stubborn hold on reality and leaves an opening for external influences to operate in his world.
Relaxation creates a distance which can help a man clarify the quality of the link between him and what he held on to beforehand. Some things simply cannot be seen when we are still in their midst, and they will be revealed only when we step back to take a look.
Relaxation helps to balance relationships, to look at things in the proper proportion, to look at the entire picture. (This is the meaning in depth of the entire wonderful concept of "family purity." In the monthly cycle of a couple, it is vital to step back for a few days from the physical plane in order to maintain a relationship that is healthy, balanced, pure, and precise.)
Relaxation implies humility. A man understands that he is not necessarily the one who controls all existence. There is a greater power, and mankind is nothing compared to it.
Relaxation, paradoxically, can enhance a person's confidence in the face of losing his grip. Making room within ourselves leaves room for the Holy One, Blessed be He, to enter...
The Correct Position
Anybody who has the merit of exercising his relaxation muscle and making it more flexible will find that he has in his hand a tremendous tool for a life that is healthy and calm. He will make use of this as a parent when he discovers that "his" children do not really belong to him. They grow up to be independent human beings, with their own will, which does not always exactly match the path of the parents. He will make use of this in his contact with his mate, and he will therefore be able to free himself from the haughty desire to change the mate to correspond to "his own truth." This approach will help him in all of his work relationships, in his studies, and in society. Above all, it will lead him to a better position with respect to the world and in relation to the One who created it.

The Power Of Rebbe Bunim

One time, Rebbe Yeshaya of Peshdeburez asked Rebbe Yitzchak of Vorki: "Why are you so enthralled by Rebbe Bunim (from Pashisscha)? Does your rabbi really have such great power?"
Rebbe Yitzchak replied: "The strength of our Rebbe Bunim can be compared to the strength of the Prophet Eliyahu. Just picture Eliyahu, when he found Elisha leading a pair of oxen, plowing a field [see Melachim Aleph Ch. 19]. Like any farmer from a village, urging the oxen on with his cry, 'Nu, hey! Ksaava! Get a move on!' But the moment that Eliyahu threw his cloak to Elisha, Elisha changed from one extreme to the other. He immediately slaughtered the oxen, burned the plow, used the fire to cook the meat from the oxen, and distributed it to the people who were there. And when Eliyahu asked him, 'What did I do to you?' Elisha replied, 'Host mir a sach getton! – You did me a lot of good!' You remember that Elisha immediately left his father and mother and ran after Eliyahu. He became so attached to Eliyahu that he could not be separated from him in any way. In the end, Elisha received twice as much as his rabbi."
And Rebbe Yitzchak of Vorki continued, "The same is true of Rebbe Bunim. When he takes somebody else's hand in his own, even if it is a simple man, he immediately becomes very enthusiastic – ess hot on-gehoben tzu brennen Yidishkeit (the rabbi lifts him up to fiery Judaism). Every such person immediately wants to kiss the Blessed G-d. Such a person runs to study right away, and he feels that he is part of the Torah and all of its letters, with great love. He kisses all the letters, and with tears in his eyes he dedicates himself to the Altar of sanctifying G-d's name, and his entire being is ready, with wonderful passion, dedicating all of his strength and his entire life..."
["Simchat Yisrael" 5670 (1910), page 40 - translated in Shabat Bi-shabbato Va-eschanan].

Eilu Vi-eilu - #8 - When Is Nightfall? - Is Tzfat In France - Who Will Ultimately Decide This Question - What Did The Brisker Rov Say When Confronted With A Metziyus That Contradicted His Opinion?

In our previous segment we saw the opinion of Rav Hutner, Rosh Mesivta Drabbeinu Chaim Berlin, that even where there is a machlokes which seems to be about מציאות - concrete reality, we STILL say אלו ואלו and both opinions are correct. 


Well, I guess Rav Herschel Schachter Shlita, the Rosh Kollel of the Marcos and Adina Katz Kollel [the "Shollel?],  is not a "Chaim Berliner".... Let's see why. [I thank my beloved friend R' Scott Hoberman Shlita for pointing out to me the opinion of Rav Schachter and inspiring this post].

Every day the sun sets and gradually darkness descends upon us. The question that has occupied rabbis for centuries is - when does nightfall being?

Ummmmmm - when it gets dark?

Not so simple. The Shulchan Aruch and the Rema agree [!!!!] that night doesn't begin until 72 minutes after the sun has dipped under the horizon [סימן רס"א]. The source for their opinion is Rabbeinu Tam and it is popularly known as "Zman Rabbeinu Tam". This is quite startling because if you go outside you will see that it is dark already about 20 minutes after sunset. The Geonim famously say that at this point it is already night time.

So from when can I say Shema every night? When does Shabbos end? When does Shabbos BEGIN??? When do you circumcise a child born 25 minutes after sunset? When do you turn on the lights at Citifield? If you want to romantically propose to your Kallah under the stars - must you wait an entire 72 minutes or can you be lenient and wait only 20 minutes? All BIG shylos.

This all depends on the machlokes between the Geonim and Rabbeinu Tam. [Most people don't start Shabbos later according to the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam, though].

Rav Shachter Shlita in his Ikvei Hatzon [p. 260, a sefer more famous for the teshuva on women's minyanim - not a fan...] says that one need not even be machmir to follow Rabbeinu Tam because as the Gra points out - החוש מכחיש, the sense of sight is the clearest contradiction to Rabbeinu Tam. Go outside and you will see that it is dark 20 or so minutes later and NOT 72 minutes later. We don't say אלו ואלו, asserts Rav Shachter, because Rabbeinu Tam was incorrect. The Gra said it and the eyes confirm it.


מה אפשר לומר כדי להסביר את שיטת רבינו תם התמוהה לכאורה?


Some say that Rabbeinu Tam was only referring to the reality in France but never meant Eretz Yisrael where we see differently. But this is untenable because the Mechaber, Rav Yosef Karo, who lived in Tzfat, ruled like Rabbeinu Tam and last I checked Tzfat was in Eretz Yisrael and not in France.    

It is not only Rabbeinu Tam and the Shulchan Aruch who hold this way but many others as well. Were they all [chas vi-shalom] blind? No.

It would therefore seem compelling to say that the argument is NOT when it gets dark but about something else. It is very very very difficult to accept that so many rabbis would make such an obvious mistake. Much ink has been spilled and many many computer keys have been pressed in order to understand the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam. An entire sefer was written about the topic called אורות וזמנים. In the haskama of Rav Moshe Halberstam he says in the name of the Chazon Ish that only the Heavenly Yeshiva will be able to pasken the halacha about this matter and Moshiach will report what they ruled. 

Rav Ovadiah Yosef, who normally is very strident in his viewpoint that we must pasken like Rav Yosef Karo, says that since the minhag is otherwise we may be lenient and follow the Geonim. HOWEVER, unlike Rav Schachter,  he says that if one is machmir - תבוא עליו ברכה. So he is of the opinion that there is a basis for the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam and we don't say [as the Gra averred] that החוש מכחיש and thus discard the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam. [See Yalkut Yosef of the Rishon Li-tzion Rav Yitzchak Yosef, סי' רצ"ג].

Some suggest that the issue is NOT when it gets dark but when the average sized stars emerge. We are not experts in making that determination so we just wait 72 minutes at which point we are sure that they are all out [see for example Moadim Uzmanim 2/155].

I will also point out that even in Eretz Yisrael [I have been there a few times - really nice place to visit:-)], it is not COMPLETELY dark after 20 minutes and darkness descends only later - so I definitely understand, even according to my חוש - the position of the מחמירים.

I believe that when Moshiach comes, the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam will be satisfactorily explained. In the meantime, I follow my Rebbe and am not machmir at all for Rabbeinu Tam. My 18 year old son is and I bless myself that he should be more machmir than me in EVERYTHING.    
Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, the great talmid of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, dayan in London who later came to Eretz Yisrael [d. about 1976] used to be machmir in accordance with the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam. After he came to Eretz Yisrael, he stopped because it is quite obvious that nightfall here is not a full 72 minutes later.
He then heard that the Brisker Rav, Rav Yitzchak Ze'ev Soloveitchik, was machmir like the opinion of R"T. He took a trip from Bayit Ve-gan where he lived to Geulah to ask the Brisker Rov if this is correct. The Brisker Rov confirmed that it is.
When the question was asked it was a half an hour after sundown. Rav A. said "Let's go outside and see for ourselves".
The Brisker Rov answered " 'Torah' we don't seek out in the street. We have a mesorah to follow the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam. Once we have a mesorah, all of the proofs from concrete reality are meaningless". [From the fascinating tome הרב מבריסק page 258 based on the eulogy of Rav Abramsky for the Brisker Rov].
I understand him to mean that he was sure that the mesorah is correct. If the מציאות contradicts the mesorah then there MUST BE a rational explanation of which we are not aware, to resolve the question. [But not that our mesorah is really contradicted by the מציאות. That cannot be because the absolute מציאות is found in our mesorah].
I guess that Rav Schachter Shlita is not a 100 percent Brisker either. אלו ואלו.
Incidentally, the same logic is used by the Briskers to explain why they don't wear tcheiles. It is not part of our mesorah [which was lost] so all of the proofs to the contrary do not change matters.
But לדרכינו למדנו the intellectual honesty of the rabbis. The Gra and many other were willing to say that Rabbeinu Tam was mistaken when it was compelling to say so. The important thing is getting to the truth. Others felt that it is inconceivable that he [and many others in his footsteps] would make such an obvious error so there must be another viable explanation for his opinion. Some offered explanations. Others just relied on the mesorah and greatness of our chachomim of yesteryear.
We will see imy"H in a future post a proof from the gemara that even when the machlokes revolves around מציאות we nevertheless say אלו ואלו.
Stay tuned:-)      


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kavod Chachomim

One of the yesodos upon which our mesorah stands is the respectability of our chachomim. I know a Rosh Yeshiva who enjoys "bringing the gedolim down to our level". So he tells the students that Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Rosh Yeshivas Mir, wore short sleeved shirts [which is not acceptable in some circles and very very uncommon among Roshei Yeshiva]. Now, these students have no idea of the greatness in Torah of Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz. They never learned his "Shaarei Chaim" [I hope you have because it is beyond any pleasure this world has to offer] and they haven't even learned his "Sichas Mussar" so all they are left with is the fact that he wore short sleeved shirts. So anytime they hear his name he will be "the guy" who wore short sleeved shirts.

This same Rosh Yeshiva likes to tell about about how another famous Rosh Yeshiva [whose name I omit for obvious reasons] once listened to a basketball game where Israel beat Russia and he was very happy. I am not sure that he sat for 2 hours and listened on the radio to a basketball game. I am also not sure that he assigned importance to a silly game. What I am sure of is that he has many sefarim of the deepest Torah on Shas and that was the essence of his life. But for the students of this Rosh Yeshiva-Gedolim-debunker he will be the rabbi who was part of the action when Israel beat Russia. He is just like me:-). I don't believe that this brings anyone close to Torah. I DO think that it is a terrible disgrace and question the wisdom of the person who fondly repeats this story.

There is a lecturer on a popular Torah website who likes to tell about a certain Rosh Yeshiva who went to the opera in his youth. That is either lashon hara [if he did] or motzi shem ra [if he didn't]. It seems to me that this is his way of cutting this Torah giant down to size. Why does he NEVER say any of his unbelievable Torah in his name. His life wasn't about opera. He certainly never taught his students to attend opera. His life was about learning and teaching Torah but all the innocent listener will know about him is that he is the rabbi who liked opera. Sad.

If you are rasing children, PLEASE always have the UTMOST RESPECT for talmidei chachomim. That is critical if you want your children to grow up ehrliche yidden.

Hopefully more to come....

Eilu Vi-eilu #7: Arguments in Metziyus - Rav Hutners Approach - The Chazon Ish On Variant Texts

Maran HaRav Hutner was asked by a student how we can say that a machlokes in metziyus - concrete reality, falls under the rubric of אלו ואלו. I mean, it was either one way or another. We can accept that IDEAS have variant yet equally true perspectives. But when the subject of the dispute is the nature of a concrete reality - how can we say that both sides are right? The student was bothered by the argument in the gemara about how the beams in the mishkan were shaped which has practical halachic implications [see Shabbos 98a]. Now, the beams were either this way or that way - they couldn't have been both.
Rav Hutner [אגרות פחד יצחק עמ' נ - thanks to Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn Shlita for reminding me of this source] first notes that his question clearly relates to all arguments about מציאות but since the example he used was the beams of the mishkan, he will answer using that argument as a paradigm.
בנוגע להשאלה מקרשי המשכן, הנה בודאי יודע אתה כי סוגיות כאלו נמצאות הן בתלמוד במספר מרובה, ועל כן הנני דן בפשיטות דנקטת סוגיא דקרשי המשכן בתור דוגמא, וממילא מובן שהתשובה תהא כללית מקפת כל הסוגיות הדומות. אלא שמכיון שאתה העמדת את קרשי המשכן לדוגמא, גם דברי יתיחסו לאותה עובדא בתור משל.
הנה ידוע לך שהיו בישראל כמה וכמה גניזות נגנזו הלוחות, נגנז המשכן נגנז הארון וכו' ובודאי שמכל גניזה היו תוצאות בדרכי התורה ועבודה, ומפורש היא הדבר בכתוב בדברי יאשיהו המלך בשעת גניזת הארון שאמר שגניזת הארון הולידה חידוש באופיה של תורה ועבודה. והוא הדין והיא המדה בכל הגניזות. והנה כשם שאפשר לגנוז חפץ כמו כן אפשר להסתיר ידיעה, ועליך לדעת כי בשעה שפלוני אלמוני סובר כי קרשי המשכן נעשו באופן ידוע שונה מכפי שהיתה המציאות באמת הרי זה אינו אלא טועה. אבל בשעה שחכם מחכמי המסורה של תשבע"פ "שהתורה ניתנה על דעתם" [ל' הרמב"ן] שהם הם אנשי עצתו של יוצר בראשית כשהוא סובר שקרשי המשכן נעשו באופן שונה מכפי שהיתה המציאות באמת הרי אין זה אלא גניזה בכוח הדעת.
כשם שגוף המשכן נגנז לפי רצונו של מקום, כמו כן יש מהלך שגם הידיעות על ענינו ובנינו של משכן ידונו לגניזה. אלא שבזמן שמקום גניזתו של גוף המשכן הוא בחללא דעלמא, הרי גניזת הידיעה על אודות המשכן הוא בכוח הדעת של חכמי המסורה, וממילא במקום שהידיעה על אודות פרט אחד מבנין המשכן נוגעת לנו היום להלכה כגוונא דסוגיא דשבת דקרשים שעליך הנך דן, אז אם חכם מחכמי המסורה של תשבע"פ לא כיון אל מציאותו של גוף הבנין, הרי דוקא ע"י זה כוון לרצונו של מקום מפני שבאופן זה רצונו של מקום הוא לצרף את גניזת הידיעה לגניזת הגוף. וממילא ההלכה היוצאת מסברתו של חכם זה היא היא ההלכה האמיתית וכל מציאות יש לה "אמת" שלה. וגם המציאות של תורה יש לה אמת משלה והאמת של מציאות תורה הוא הכוון לרצון השם. וכששני האמוראים חולקים באופן עשייתם של קרשי המשכן, פירוש מחלקותם הוא כיצד נגלתה לפנינו עכשו תמונת קרשי המשכן מפני שההלכה היוצאת מפלוגתא זו אינה תלויה לגמרי במציאותם של קרשי המשכן אלא באופן גילויים. [גניזת קדשי כנס"י היא היא גופה של תורה מפני שכל גניזה פועלת היא על מהלך חיי הקדושה בישראל].
ומחלוקת האמוראים היא כיצד עלינו לדרוש את הפסוקים הדנים בענין זה מפני שדרשות הפסוקים אצל חכמי תשבע"פ הוא הוא רצונו של מקום. בגילוי ענין זה בכוח הדעת וכל פרט ממציאות גופו של משכן שחכמי תשבע"פ לא מצאו מקום לדרוש אותו מן הכתובים או מן סברתם אינה אלא גניזה וכשיעמוד ב"ד גדול בחכמה ובמנין מן ב"ד הקודם אשר ע"פ דין יש לו כוח לבטל את דברי הב"ד הקודם וידרוש את הפסוקים באופן אחר המהפך את תמונת הענינים מן הקצה אל הקצה, אז נאמר כי רצונו של מקום הוא עכשיו לגלות את מה שנגנז מקודם, ואלו ואלו הם דברי אלקים חיים.
כמובן שמקומם היחידי של גניזות אלה וגילויים אלה אינם אלא בכוח הדעת של חכמי תשבע"פ לבד. כל דעת אחרת הנמצאת בעולם מופקעת היא מכל המהלך הזה של גילוי וגניזה וממילא אין אנו אומרים עליה אלא אחת משתים, או שזה טעות או שזה נכון אבל כל סברותיהם דעותיהם ודרשותיהם של חכמי המסורה של תשבע"פ מופקעים הם מעצם ההבחנה של נכון ובלתי נכון ואין אנו מבחינים בזה אלא הופעה של גילוי או הופעה של גניזה אידי ואידי רצונו של מקום הם. אלו ואלו דברי א' חיים.
I must say - I am drunk on this man. הביאני אל בית היין says the pasuk in Shir Hashirim. Chazal darshan that the בית היין refers to Sinai. You can mamesh get drunk on Torah.
In a nutshell: Hashem decreed that the mishkan was to be stored away. This storage was also to occur in the minds of the Chachmei Hatorah. Thus, Hashem didn't want the rabbis to know how the physical beams looked. He wanted them to use their powers of analysis and expound the psukim in order to ascertain how the beams looked and pasken halacha based on that understanding. The "truth" in this instance is not how the beams were actually shaped because that doesn't concern us. What concerns us is how it appears from the psukim that the beams were shaped. Hashem gave the rabbis the authority to expound the psukim and thus whatever they conclude is willy nilly [בעל כרחך], the truth and expression of the Divine will.    
Let me give an example: Let us say we read a Rambam and have a question. Then we offer an answer. Are we saying that this is what the historical Rambam, Rabbi Moshe the son of Maimon, would answer? I don't believe so. It doesn't interest me what the person would answer. What interests me is what the text says, what it implies [whether Maimonidies meant it or not] and how to resolve any difficulties [again, regardless of whether Maimonidies the Rav would agree].
The machlokes then is not a historical one - how the beams were shaped, but a textual one - how does the text imply that the beams were shaped. Two variant understandings of a text can both be  correct if the Good Lord gave the rabbis free reign to expound the text as they see fit.
Example: Rav Kook gave his major talmidim the right and free reign to edit his writings as they saw fit. Can we say that he meant to say what appears in their editorial emendations? ["Edit" is often a euphemism for "changed" and "altered"]? The answer is - yes. He said that whatever they see fit to publish is what he wants published. So their changes are really his changes. [Of course, it is fascinating to compare the original with what was edited but that is besides the point].
In our case, they didn't change anything. The text of the Torah stayed the same. But Hashem wanted the mishkan to be stored away, He wanted the knowledge of how exactly the beams looked to be stored away as well and He wanted to rabbis to derive from the psukim how they should have looked. Their mandate to expound psukim makes everything they say "truth" in the sense of an expression of Divine will although not necessarily "truth" in the sense of the expression of concrete reality.
We are Jews and spiritual people. Concrete reality doesn't limit us......
Interesting. Many times we have questions that are neatly answered by an alternative text. Once the text as we have it doens't say what the writer originally wrote, the question is easily resolved. So how come we don't spend more time investigating ancient manuscripts?
The Chazon Ish answered in a letter in a similar vein to what Rav Hutner wrote in his letter. The text that we have is what Hashem wanted us to see so it doesn't matter that there might be a more accurate text. We must understand the text we have before us. If we find other manuscripts then we can understand those to the best of our ability but that doesn't give us license to ignore our accepted classical text. Once a text has been canonized its accuracy is no longer an issue.
This is predicated on a deep belief in השגחה where Hashem is guiding everything - even our errors.
Many would not accept this approach of the Chazon Ish and say that mistakes must be corrected - not sanctified....

Eilu Vi-eilu - #6

In a letter, Rav Kook explains how two opposites can both be true.
מצד המחשבה העליונה הסוקרת את עומקם של דברים, אין במציאות בכלל הפכים וכל מקום שיש הפכים יש שם בודאי איזה תנאי נעלם שכשיתפרש נמצא ששני המשפטים שנראו במבטא ובציור הפכים שאחד מהם הוא בנוי על צד אחד מהמשפט והשני על צד אחר. ונמצא שע"י שני ההפכים יחדיו אנו רואים את המשפט משני צדדיו, ונמצא שאין כאן הפכים בדרך החלט ומצידם אין כאן נושא אחד כיון שהיחוסים של הנושא הם שונים.  
[אגרות ח"ב עמ' קלג]
From the birds eye perspective of Hashem, כביכול, two contradictory approaches are merely two different ways of relating to the same reality. They are both correct from their point of view.
You can ask me what the purpose of an iphone is and I will tell you that it makes phone calls. A second person will say that it is used for texting. A third person will say that it is a camera, and so on and so forth. They are all correct.
He says the same idea in another place:
 אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים הכוונה שתלוי לפי המקבלים אם היו מונהגים ע"פ הנהגה שמשיג זה החכם או מונהגים הם אחרי דרך חכמים אחרים
[מאורות הראי"ה חנוכה עמ' רע"א]
Each Sage views things from his unique perspective [or that of his teachers] which is a reflection of the Divine perspective.
This seems to accord with the approach we saw earlier of Rebbe Tzadok and the Maharal. See also Rav Dessler in Michtav M'Eliyahu [3/ 353; 5/ 215].
I would be indebted to anybody who can share with me important sources on this issue that I may have missed.
Thank You:-).

Fire Your Shrink

Read instead this article on sadness.

Getting Ready

One of my Rabbeim is Rav Avraham Kahana Shapira zt"l the former chief rabbi and rosh yeshiva of Mercaz HaRav. He was a gadol bi-yisrael and a tzadik. Sometimes when he would come to a simcha the band would start playing מראה כהן. He said "Why do they play that song? זה מפחיד אותי". Yom Kippur is SCARY.

Elul is mamesh mamesh around the corner. SCARRRRRYYYYYYYY!!!

I am ready. Not necessarily to do tshuva but in the sense that I have a lot to do tshuva for. I am not coming sinless and I'll be, like, bored, when everybody else is davening. No, no. Lots of heavy tshuva work to be done. I hope we can go through this process together.

This might help you get in the mood.

[If you are Rechavia this Elul you can be there in person.]

Deeper Than Psychoanalysis

I grew in Georgia, Soviet Union, where my father served as a rabbi. He had gone there on the advice of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose directions he always followed.

From my earliest years I remember my father speaking about the Previous Rebbe. It was as if the Rebbe was part of the family. He was our Zeide, our grandfather. My father taught me that, when something disturbing happens and you need advice, you write a letter to Zeide.

In 1941, when the Soviet Union entered World War Two, my father was arrested and charged with “engaging in an occupation that was not healthy for society,” meaning being a rabbi. He was sentenced to nine years in prison, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because otherwise he would have been drafted into the army. Likely, he would have been killed since the Red Army used people like him as cannon-fodder.

While my father was in prison, I reached Bar Mitzvah age, but there was no celebration because my mother was afraid that I might be arrested too. As my Bar Mitzvah present I got to visit my father in prison. He said to me: “Listen my son, you have to learn Torah. You have to learn Jewish law. You have to learn what to do because you don’t know what will come – here in prison I have to know Jewish law well, so that when I’m forced to do certain things on Shabbos, I do them in a way that doesn’t violate Torah. So you must learn well.”

After this I enrolled in Tomchei Temimim, the Chabad yeshiva, in Kutaisi. I stayed there until my father was released from prison in a general amnesty following the end of World War Two, and we left for Europe. Again, this was on the advice of the Previous Rebbe.

My father eventually accepted a position as a rabbi in Sweden, while I came to study at the Chabad yeshiva in New York. But after a few years in Sweden – this is in 1950 when the Korean War started – my father became frightened that the Cold War between the Soviets and the Americans would cause another world wide conflict. He decided that it would be prudent to leave Europe and migrate to Canada. He wrote about this to the Previous Rebbe, but, in the meanwhile, the Previous Rebbe passed away. Sometime after that, I received instructions from my father to direct his question to the future Rebbe who, at that time, had not yet formally accepted leadership of the movement.
I brought my father’s letter to the future Rebbe, explaining that my father was in urgent need of advice. After he read it, he looked away for a moment. Then he said, “Your father is afraid that another world war is coming. But I don’t see a world war. Still, if he would feel more calm with a visa under his pillow, let him apply for a visa.”
I wrote to my father what the Rebbe said, and he applied for a visa. But he didn’t leave Europe right away – he was calmer because he had the visa, and he waited another two years before immigrating to Canada.
Meanwhile, back in New York, I became involved in publishing some of the Rebbe’s talks, and I was also privileged to be present when some interesting people came to visit him. One audience I remember in particular was when a group of students came to meet the Rebbe.

The students started asking questions of the Rebbe. One of them asked if the Rebbe used the techniques of psychoanalysis – Freud’s system – in giving advice.
The Rebbe said, “No, a person’s soul is much deeper than what mere psychoanalysis can penetrate. Freud’s theory concerns the ego and relates to people as if they were guinea pigs.”
The student then asked, “Does a Rebbe ever use Freud’s system for himself? Does he ever go to a doctor?”
The Rebbe smiled and said jokingly, “If a Rebbe has a pain in his leg, he has to go to a leg doctor. If he suffers in his head, he has to go to a head doctor.”
Then he spoke to them about the energy they had as young people, and how to use it out for the sake of Judaism. He said they should use it now because, once they get older, they will not have as much.
One of the students – a smart aleck – said, “No, it’s not true. Leon Trostsky, the Marxist revolutionary, was as energetic in his later years as he was in his youth.”
The Rebbe answered, “If you’ll read what he wrote in his earlier years and what he wrote in his later years, you’ll see that there was a difference.” [Me: !!!!!!]
When I finished yeshiva studies, the Rebbe dispatched me to Morocco, where his earlier emissaries – Rabbi Michoel Lipsker, Rabbi Nisson Pinson and Rabbi Shlomo Matusof – were already doing outreach with thousands of children lacking a Jewish education. But more teachers were needed.
First though, the Rebbe said, I should obtain my American citizenship, and only once I had an American passport, should I go to Morocco. This was very sound advice because, years later, I was deported and needed that passport to save my skin.
In Morocco, the Rebbe’s emissaries established yeshivas in the major cities – Casablanca and Meknes – but my job was to set up schools in the outlying towns where Jews lived, using local teachers.
While in Morocco I got married – my wife was Rabbi Michoel Lipsker’s daughter – and settled in Agadir, a place in the mountains around which there were many small Jewish villages. I established a yeshiva there – which was very successful and attracted hundreds of students from the surrounding areas – and I also built a mikvah there.
Then I was thrown out of Morocco.
When I first went there, Morocco was a French protectorate. But then Morocco became independent and a new governor came to Agadir. He wanted me out. People in the community came to plead on my behalf, but he said, “For him you plead? Don’t you know he is an Israeli spy?! In his school he teaches Hebrew – he doesn’t even know Arabic.”
So I had to leave. It’s a good thing that I was an American citizen and I had an American passport because, otherwise, they would have put me in prison. My skin was saved thanks to the Rebbe.
After I left, there was a big earthquake in Agadir and many people were killed. But I and my family were fine because we got out in time.

Rabbi Azriel Chaikin has been the Rebbe’s emissary in Morocco, Scandinavia, Belgium and Ukraine since 1955. He was interviewed three times in the My Encounter Studio, once in 2010 and twice in 2015.

from the myencouterblog

A Lubavitcher Chossid

My name is Herbert (Chaim Zev) Bomzer. I was ordained a rabbi by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and also by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik at Yeshiva University, where I obtained a doctorate in Jewish Education. For forty years, until my retirement in 1995, I served as the rabbi of Young Israel of Ocean Parkway and as professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University.  I mention this because my education and career path have been decidedly Modern Orthodox, yet I call myself a Lubavitcher chasid. And I’d like to tell the story of how that came about.

It all began about thirty-five years ago when I befriended Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, who worked for Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, under the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Around this time my oldest daughter Etty was going through a rough time. She had gotten married to a wonderful young man, a Kohen, a real scholar, and was trying to have a family. But each time she got pregnant she would miscarry. It happened once, twice, three times. Each time – heartbreak.
And then she got pregnant for the fourth time – this was in 1983 – and we were all holding our breath.  I confided my concerns to Rabbi Kotlarsky. “My daughter is two months pregnant and having a very hard time,” I told him.

“Why don’t you write a letter to the Rebbe?” he asked.

I said, “Moshe, I’ve never done a thing like that … I don’t even know the formalities of how to write a letter to the Rebbe.” I mean writing “To our holy Rebbe” was just not part of my vocabulary. But he promised to help me, so I agreed to do it. After all, what wouldn’t I do for my daughter?

I wrote the letter which was delivered to the Rebbe’s office. Rabbi Leibel Groner, the Rebbe’s secretary, said that it would take two to three days to get an answer. But just one hour later, the answer came back! The Rebbe said, “She should remain in bed for the next seven months, and she will have a living child.”

It so happened that when I got the answer my daughter was staying in our house. She lived in New Jersey but she had come into Brooklyn for an appointment with a doctor that was scheduled for the next morning. This doctor, a Filipino woman at Caledonian Hospital here, was supposed to be the expert in these matters.

So I told my daughter what the Rebbe advised. But she said, “What about the appointment with this doctor? What should we do?”

I wasn’t that much of a chasid yet, so I said, “Okay, I’ll take you to the doctor.”

The next day I took her to the doctor and, when she came out, she said, “Daddy, I don’t know what’s happening here. The doctor said that if I get into bed for the next seven months, I have a good chance of having a live baby.”

Now, how do you like that? The doctor reached the same conclusion – she confirmed what the Rebbe already knew!

Etty stayed in our house for the next seven months and gave birth, thank G-d, to a healthy baby girl.

After these events, Rabbi Kotlarsky and I became even closer friends, and he began to encourage me to come to the Rebbe’s farbrengens. At first I put him off – it just wasn’t my style – but finally I agreed. I was seated right up front and in between the Torah talks, the Rebbe distributed wine. I took a tiny sip because I am allergic to wine. I go into shock and pass out when I drink a quantity of it, so even on Passover – when we are obligated to drink four cups of wine – I stick to grape juice.
The Rebbe saw that I wasn’t drinking, and he motioned that I should drink more. I made a blessing, said “L’Chaim,” and took another small sip. But the Rebbe motioned for me again to drink more. Rabbi Kotlarsky also nudged me, “Do what the Rebbe says.”

So I said, “I hope there is a paramedic handy,” and I drank the full cup.

And … nothing happened. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t get sick – it was as if, in the presence of the Rebbe, I was protected.

After that I began to come to the farbrengens very, very often and I also got to know Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Hodakov who was the Rebbe’s chief of staff. He was very interested in knowing what’s doing in the American rabbinate, and what’s doing in the yeshivas, as I was part of that world. We met very often. Whenever I was at 770, the Rebbe would smile and greet me warmly as he’d be walking in or out of the synagogue.

In 1987, at the behest of the Rebbe, I made a trip to Russia where I spent two weeks, acting – for all intents and purposes – as the Rebbe’s emissary. My task (because there were no rabbis in Moscow at this time) was to make sure that divorce documents were issued in accordance with Jewish law; to free the women so that they should be able to remarry, otherwise they would have remained unmarried agunas. I also made sure that any conversions that needed to be carried out were done according to Jewish law.

Chabad was just about the only organization that was active in Russia at the time, helping to keep Judaism alive. In the seventy years under Communism, a great percentage of Jews just forgot they were Jewish. Seventy years is a long time, but Chabad was active during all those years when it was terribly dangerous to do so.

Although glasnost, which heralded the greater freedom of information and the eventual fall of the Soviet Union, came shortly thereafter, in 1987 it was still nerve-wracking for a Jew to enter the country, especially carrying tefillin, tzitzis, and matzos. My wife and I were stopped at the airport and searched for six hours before we were allowed in. I claimed that I was a professor of Jewish Literature, invited to give lectures to various groups. That wasn’t a lie – I did deliver lectures – but my chief purpose was to influence Jews, issue divorce documents and conduct conversions.
For the conversions, we needed a ritual pool, a mikvah which had to be cleaned out and filled with water. We had to wait for the water to fill the pool which was taking a long time. Suddenly, even though it was June, the sky grew dark and a heavy downpour started which lasted two hours. When the sun came out again, the mikvah was full of water.

Upon return, I reported on the trip to the Rebbe, and I mentioned that when I met people in Russia, I identified myself as “a chasid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” but never as “a Lubavitcher chasid.”
The Rebbe said to me, “The time has come for you to say that you are a Lubavitcher chasid.” I replied, “Rebbe – I don’t know if I am, but I am one thousand percent sure that I am a chasid of the Rebbe.”
He said, “The time has come.”

So after that I began to say, “I’m a Lubavitcher chasid.”

Rabbi Dr. Herbert (Chaim Zev) Bomzer, a long-standing member of the Rabbinical Council of America and rabbi of the Young Israel of Ocean Parkway for 40 years, passed away in February of 2013. He was interviewed in his home in Brooklyn in June of 2009.

[From the blog myencouters]

False gods - Cling To A Torah Scholar- Guys Named Bill - When You Can Believe Lashon Hara - What People Choose To Believe

In a recent post we discussed intellectual idolatry. Not bowing down to idols but to a god that doesn't exist. That is ALSO a form of idolatry. If our perception of Hashem is twisted or tainted, then the god we are serving is not the G-d of Israel but a foreign non-existent god. This is a profound idea and I am honored to have shared it with the world. [In general, I am honored and thank the G-d of Israel for the privilege of being able to spread His word as I try my best to understand it. And thank YOU for being my "study" partner, invisible as you may be to me....]

I would like to expand this "foreign god" definition, especially as this week we read the BIG 10 dibros that changed world history.

The psukim tell us to "cling" to Hashem  - ובו תדבק, ולדבקה בו [Dvarim 10/20, 10/22]. The gemara [ksubos 111b] wonders how we can possibly cling to Hashem who is a consuming fire אש אכלה? The gemara answers that we cling to him through a conduit - Talmidei Chachomim. They are Hashem's ambassoders on earth, so to speak. The Rambam rules in Mitzva 6 that this is a mitzva from the Torah and explains that by being close to him we can learn from his ways how to get close Hashem. [Another good reason to have a Rebbi.....]

It emerges then that if one connects to fake, non-genuine, inauthentic, Talmid Chochom, he is clinging to a "false god". The mitzva is to cling to the real G-d through the real Talmid Chochom, anybody else is a false conduit to an non-existent god.

I wonder about a lot of people. Take the very well known rabbi of a very wealthy congregation somewhere on the east coast. This rabbi has the moral turpitude located somewhere between Bill Cosby and  Bill Clinton [girls - think twice before marrying a guy named Bill?:-)] and he doesn't deny it. Hey, attraction is attraction. Why should being married to someone else get in the way? Minor detail.  He also admittedly has very serious emotional problems. Yet, contrary to anything within the realm of the what my miniature brain can wrap itself around - his community insists upon retaining him as their "spiritual leader". What spirituality can you get from such a man?? It is certainly not Jewish spirituality.

This is also a form of a "false god". The דבקות to the "spiritual guide" is taking one in the opposite direction of the true G-d. If that isn't idolatry - then what is?

It befuddles my mind when again and again prominent people get in trouble with the law [both Jewish and, li-havdil - secular] and people CONTINUE TO FLOCK TO THEM. Wonder of wonders.

The complexity of man and the decisions he makes and what he chooses to believe.... A theme we have been fleshing out recently.

I am not saying that we should believe every story about every rabbi. Chas Vi-shalom. אסור להאמין ללשון הרע. But sometimes there is overwhelming evidence and the story is considered דברים הניכרים - clearly accurate, and one may believe it [see Hilchos Lashon Hara כלל ז הלכה י' י"א]. In other cases the accused admits it. At other times one should at least - as the Chofetz Chaim himself says - למיחש מיהא בעי, be wary. But no, people don't want to believe it so they don't and continue to follow and seek spiritual guidance from this spiritually sick man. For example - there is someone in Eretz Yisrael that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein said is dangerous and shouldn't be teaching due to issues he has. Let's say you are not convinced. OK. But isn't Rav Aharon enough of a "gavra rabba", that he would never say such a thing and publicize it unless he was sure that he was correct. I am no "gush-nik" but it is more likely that Derek Jeter would convert and a month later be learning in Chazon Ish kollel in Bnei Brak than it is that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein would say one word of lashon hara. If he said it, at LEAST למיחש מיהא בעי.

There are so many good people out there. Why can't people follow them and stay away from the creepy ones?

So the point of this "thread" [weird word they made up for post] is - connect to true tzadikkim and true talmidei chachomim and stay away from the problematic ones that either steal money, or have serious issues with gilui arayos in its various forms וד"ל. Of course, if he is a בעל גאוה or afflicted with other diseases of character he should also be avoided.

ויה"ר שה' יצילנו משגיאות ומתורתו יראנו נפלאות!!

לזכות עדינה בת שבע בת נעכא גיטל לברכה והצלחה ושמחה תמיד