Wednesday, September 30, 2015

First Women Rabbis And Now This!

"A's hire first female coach in MLB history"

Simchas Ha-chag

Lots of GREAT new shiurim BI-SIYATA DI-SHMAYA!!!!

[Some linked on the side of the page - some not].

Taste and see......

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hashem's Holy Name - What To Do In The Succah

We say in our Yom Tov davening:

 קדשנו במצותיך
 - Sanctify us with your mitzvos. That refers to Pesach, when we received the first mitzvos [such as kiddush ha-chodesh].

וקרבתנו מלכנו לעבודתך
- You brought us close to your service. That is alluding to Shavuos, as it says about Mattan Torah - תעבדון את הא-להים על ההר הזה.

ושמך הגדול והקדוש עלינו קראת
- Your Holy name you called on us. That is Succos. The word סוכה is bi-gimatria 91 which is the name of הוי"ה [26] and א-ד-ני [which equals 65] together. To sit in the Succah is to sit in Hashem's shade.

The arba minim also allude to the four letters of the name הוי"ה as the Mekubalim teach.

Another remez - we sit in the "shade" of the succah. The word for shade is צל. What should we do in the shade? צל! The צ refers to the tzadik. The ל means למד - learn!! A tzadik should learn in the succah and who isn't a tzadik after the high holy days?!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Haazinu - Soulful Listening

From an email...
Shaalooommmm sweeetest friendsssss!!!!

This dvar torah should be a zchus for my beloved friend Moshe Yehuda ben Pesha Dina that he should have amazing simcha and success this year!!!

Also - to Daniel Simcha ben Chava Reizel for all the brachos!!!

In this weeks parsha we read האזינו השמים ואדברה - Listen the heavens and I will speak. ותשמע הארץ אמרי פי - And the earth will hear the words of my mouth.

The word שמים is an allusion to the soul and the word ארץ is an allusion to the body.

The word דיבור always means to speak TO someone, it connotes connection. לדבר עם - To speak with. You don't say אמר עם - because the word אמר does not necessitate connection. That is why Hashem gave us the ten דברות - because there was a deep connection. When he created the world and nobody existed he used מאמרות - from the word אמר. The utterances were without connection to others.

The Zohar Hakadosh says that after Moshe died, he shined in the souls of all Jews through the song of Haazinu. So the pasuk says - האזינו השמים ואדברה - Listen the soul [שמים] and we will connect through my speech. It uses a future tense [ואדברה - I will speak] because even after he dies we will listen . ותשמע הארץ אמרי פי - Let the body [ארץ] listen to my words but without a strong connection [אמרי] because Moshe connects to our souls and not to our bodies

[Based on the Eretz Tzvi of Rav Aryeh Tzvi Fromer Hy"d Ztz"l]

In every generation we can connect to Moshe Rabbeinu and to all of the tzadikim of all the generations. We can do this by learning their teachings and reading about their lives. In this way we can be inspired and become that person whom others look to for inspiration.   

Have a delicious shabbos sweetest friends!!!


What Took So Long?

From the pasuk כי שם ה' אקרא הבו גודל לאלקינו in this weeks parsha we learn the mitzva to say birkas hatorah.

Fregt the Chasam Sofer: Why only after 40 years in the desert does Moshe tell us to say birkas hatorah?

Ha-ziv Lach

Rabbi Zave Rudman

This dvar torah should be a zchus for the author that he should have complete health.

I have always been fascinated by the division of the Krias HaTorah. That the Parshiyos are divided as part of the Mesora seems to be true even according to the Eretz Yisroel tradition of a triennial reading of the Torah, since the division to fifty three parshiyos is found in various early sources . But even within the Parshiyos, the division of the actual Aliyos is curious. Sometimes it seems done mathematically as if to divide the Parsha equally. Sometimes there is an unusually long or short Aliyah. Some of these can be understood, such as the long Aliyah at the beginning of Ki Tisa , but many remain to me an enigma. But the one place where the division of the Parsha is clearly defined in Chazal is in this week’s Parsha- Ha’azinu.

There is an acronym for the division of the Parsha. The source is in Maseches Sofrim , it is quoted in the Gemara in Rosh HaShana , and then brought by the Rambam in two places . Then in the Tur and Shulchan Aruch it is brought L’Halacha . We are to divide the Parsha by the words which begin with the letters Heh, Zayin, Yud, Vav, Lamed, Choch. There are disagreements about which Pesukim to use to follow this acronym, since there are a few ranges of Pesukim which could fulfill this requirement, but that this is the way to divide it, is a given. When was this first done, and what is the meaning?

The original reading of the Parsha in this way is actually from the Shira of the Leviim on Shabbos. In the morning by the Olas HaTamid they would say Mizmor Shir LaYom HaShabbas. By Musaf they would say one of the six parts of Parshas Ha’azinu, and by Mincha they would say either a part of Az Yashir or the Shira of the Be’er from Chukas.

The Tur seems to write that each week the Leviim would read all of Ha’azinu as divided above. The plain reading of the Gemarra, and the way the Rambam writes the Halacha is that it was six week cycle, as the Leviim would read each week one portion. As the Minchas Chinuch writes the questions and permutations of how to perform this are many, and till Moshiach speedily arrives, it remains a mystery. Either way what we read in shul is based on that reading. But, what is the significance to specifically divide only Ha’azinu in this way?

The Rambam in Hilchos Tefila writes that even though everyone who reads from the Torah is to start and end with something positive, here it is different, in order that the nation should hear admonishment and return in Teshuva. The Rambam seems to be juxtaposing the division here in that it is different than all other readings. Rabbeinu Bachye writes similarly and links the division to the acronym of HaZiv Lach. Ziv means glory and he says that the division is a sign of the ultimate return of the glory of Klal Yisroel through Teshuvah. The word Ziv is used in this way throughout Sefer Daniel, specifically the special glory and appearance of the human face.

In the writings of the Bnei Yisoschor we find an expansion of this idea. He writes that actually Eisav’s name should include a Yud, and Yakov’s name should be Akev, without the beginning Yud, since it means heel, which he was holding on to. But since Yakov holds on to the heel of Eisav, his Yad- Yud is removing the Yud from Eisav, and attaching it to Yakov. Where in our world do we see this?

In the Sefer Yetzirah as explained in the Bnei Yisoschor, the letters of the Alef Bais are divided into three groups. There are the three basic letters: Aleph, Mem, Shin; the seven doubled: BeGeD KaPRT; and twelve simple letters. This division into three, seven, and twelve has various parallels in the world. One variation is: three Regalim, seven days of the week, and twelve months. In addition the twelve also months correspond to the twelve Shevatim. The first three of those twelve letters are Heh, Vav, Zayin. Therefore those letters correspond to the months of Nissan Iyar Sivan; which are the months of leaving Egypt and receiving the Torah. The next three letters are Ches, Tes, Yud, which are parallel to Tamuz Av Elul. These are under the control of Eisav. Tamuz and Av we see very clearly are under the control of Eisav from the events of the Churban, but what about Elul? The answer is that potentially it also was to be under his control, but that is what Yakov grabbed onto to save something for us.

This can be explained through the Tur who brings the Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer . After the sin of the Eigel, Moshe received the opportunity to receive the Torah again. But the Satan wanted to bring the Jews to repeat the sin of the Eigel once again. As outlandish as this might sound- we do the same thing all the time. We sin, and then we repeat the sin. So when Moshe goes up on Rosh Chodesh Elul to get the second Luchos, it required a tremendous effort to take Elul and turn it into a month of Teshuva. That is what Yakov took from Eisav and made ours. Elul could have been a second sin of the Eigel, and then it would have been just like Tamuz when we did the first sin. But we took it from Eisav and through Teshuva made it ours.

So HaZiv is the joining the month of Elul to the months of Yetias Mitzrayim, Sefira, and Matan Torah. It is the Yud of Elul with the three months of Nissan, Iyar, Sivan. It is the month of the second giving of the Torah which began with Rosh Chodesh and ended with the giving of the giving of the second Luchos on Yom Kippur.

The one other place the word Ziv is used in Tanach is to refer to Iyar , which is the month completely devoted to getting the Torah. This is HaZiv, the completion of Matan Torah, with the Luchos Shniyos. The last Parsha we read on a Shabbos (Since VaZos HaBracha is read on Simchas Torah) is HaZiv Lach.

What is the Lach? Yakov and Eisav meet as Yakov returns from the house of Lavan. As we know, the actions of the Avos are a sign as to what will happen with their descendants. At the end of the confrontation and debate, Eisav says: Yehi Lecha asher Lach . Let what is yours be yours. Eisav is referring to Eretz Yisroel and agreeing to the sale of the Brachos, which are Eretz Yisroel. The Ziv is Lach. Eisav agrees that the Yud which symbolizes Olam Haba is really Yakov’s. The desire of Eisav to own Eretz Yisroel, which is the physical representation of Olam Haba, he now admits is Yakov’s. Yud always represents Olam Haba. If we have done the Avoda of Elul properly, even Eisav admits HaZiv Lach.

 Among the ways to define the differentiation of the different parts of the Parsha, we find the Toldos Yitzchok which explains in the following way: After going through the other parts he says that these Pesukim which begin with Yud are the description of the good which Klal Yisroel receives in Eretz Yisroel. It begins with the teaching that Eretz Yisroel is higher than all the lands, and ends with the sad fact that the bounty of Eretz Yisroel can lead to rebellion.

This is what Eisav is giving to Yakov. Yehi, let the Yud which you took for me be yours.

What is also interesting is that the word Ziv as used to describe the month of Iyar is only used when describing the construction of the Bais Hamikdosh. The Ziv is the ultimate glory of what Eretz Yisroel is meant to be. This is the building of the Bais HaMikdosh which as described in the Mishnah in Taanis, is the completion of the Chasanah of Matan Torah, and the day of HaShem’s Simchas Libo- the joy of His heart.

In Parshas Ha’azinu which is always read as we reach the culmination of the year, we strive to HaZiv Lach.

Packaging - Consumer Beware

Don't believe the packaging.

You buy cookies in a supermarket. It says "BEST HOME MADE COOKIES IN THE WORLD".

They are not home made and they are not the best in the world. Your bubby makes much better cookies than those.

The package of the lulav or esrog says "Mehudar Alpeh Aleph". You might well find out when you bring it to a Rav that they are either pasul or at least not mehudar.


Accept Everything With Simcha



Thursday, September 24, 2015

Direct Communication

Did you ever notice that the first bracha of bentching is written in the third person - הוא נותן, בעבור שמו, כי הוא א-ל זן etc. etc. Why wouldn't we speak to Hashem directly instead of talking about Him?

The kashya is a KASHYA!!!

Rebbe Tzadok [Tzidkas Hatzadik 247] explained based on the gemara that teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu wrote the first bracha of bentching. Since he never entered the Land of Israel [where hashgacha is palpable - עיני השם א-להיך בה], he could not speak to Hashem directly but had to speak indirectly. Someone who lives in chutz la-aretz is like he has no G-d [Ksubos 106b] and that includes Moshe.

This is a remarkable insight given the fact that Moshe was the greatest prophet ever and spoke to Hashem פנים בפנים.

Where We Fall

Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death [i.e. sin] I will not fear evil because you are with me. [Tehillim 23]
Rebbe Tzadok heard from the Ishbitzer that whenever a Jew falls - he falls RIGHT into the lap of Hashem.
"גם כי אלך בגיא צלמות לא אירא רע כי אתה עמדי" - וכמו ש ש מ ע נ ו מהרבי מאיזביצה זצ"ל שכל נפש ישראל איך שנופל הוא נופל בחיקו של השם יתברך
פרי צדיק ח"ד נשא סו

The Kedusha Of Eretz Yisrael In Chutz La-aretz

Rebbe Tzadok said in the name of the Ishbitzer that when the Jews went down to galus Bavel they were very sad. However, Yechezkel Ha-navi was very happy because he realized that the light of kedusha would shine upon them more in Bavel than it did in Eretz Yisroel bcause they had previously been in Eretz Yisroel. The pasuk says היה היה דבר השם - Hashem spoke to Yechezkel [in Bavel]. היה מפני שכבר היה -  He spoke to him because He had already spoke to him [in Eretz Yisrael]. [See Yechezkel 1 and Moed Katan 25].

כי שמעתי מאדמו"ר הקדוש זצוקלה"ה שבעת שגלו לבבל כולם הלכו במר נפש ויחזקאל הלך בשמחה רבה היינו מפני שיחזקאל הרגיש אור הקדושה אשר יזריח הקב"ה לישראל בבבל יותר מבהיותם יושבים על אדמתם והקדושה נבעה מפני שהיה קודם בארץ שנאמר היה היה דבר ה' ' היה מפני שכבר היה
 פרי צדיק ח"ה סוכות יח

If you were zoche to spend time learning Torah in Eretz Yisroel, you can be bi-simcha like Yechezkel because you can reach greater heights after you leave through the power of your time spent there. The same applies to the aliyah ruchanis you have during chagim. The US is just not the same but the memories and inspiration can stay with you forever.

Of course we must remember that Yechezkel only went to galus because he was forced. If he could have returned, he happily would have....... וד"ל.

Exciting Link

Great Torah for Parshas Haazinu.

Kivrei Tzadikim

On a recent trip to kivrei tzadikim, a very popular [with many of the readers of mevakesh as well] mashpia quoted the following (11:40-) (reading from a writeup related to a R. Yosef Dayan of Eretz Yisrael) that:

"One hour of Torah and tefillah at the burial site of a tzadik, he used to say, is equivalent to hundreds of such hours in a Beis HaMedrash."

What does that mean? Is there a source for this? Should we then move our yeshivos and kolleim to cemeteries?

I really don't get it. I would say the following: Hundreds of hours of learning and davening in a holy Beis Medrash [a mini-beis hamikdash according to Chazal] are hundreds of times more valuable than an hour of learning or davening at a kever of a tzadik - there is also a special value in davening and learning at the grave of a tzadik that maybe cannot be accomplished when learning elsewhere.
I love tzadikim. They are holy. Their kevarim are holy. But I think that one must not lose perspective.

If there are sources that support his claim, I would be indebted to anybody who sends them to me.

The Uses Of Humor

Humor is a very important tool. People today can't really digest mussar so well, they get offended, become defensive and are very resistant. Mussar mixed with humor sweetens the message with spoonfuls of sweet honey, making it much easier to digest. Humor also boosts the immune system, lower stress hormone levels and has a host of other benefits. Those are some of the reasons I use humor [it only helps if people think I am funny....].  

However, at times people confuse the "tool" with the essence, the means with the end. I recently gave a shiur with an amazing explanation of two Rashis in Chumash and an important spiritual lesson. From the many reactions I received, it seems that all that people retained and remembered was a certain funny one liner of mine. It was quite distressing for me. It is like a person receives a wad of bills and says "Wow! Look at all of the pictures of these important people. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin etc. etc." He then hangs the "pictures" up on his wall.

He is missing the point. "Farshtait zich" [Spanish for "Oh so stupid"].

When I write on the blog or give shiurim the root of what I am trying to convey is the moral or spiritual lesson. The humor is just to sweeten things, to open you and me up, to create camaraderie and connection, to lower stress and to improve the mood of people who can use an "up" [who couldn't]. So I plead with those who listen to shiurim or follow the blog to never forget the tachlis.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In Memory Of Yogi Berra - 1925-2015

“You can observe a lot just by watching,” he is reputed to have declared once, describing his strategy as a manager.

“If you can’t imitate him,” he advised a young player who was mimicking the batting stance of the great slugger Frank Robinson, “don’t copy him.”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” he said, giving directions to his house. Either path, it turned out, got you there. [I quoted this in a shiur today without knowing he had just died].
“Nobody goes there anymore,” he said of a popular restaurant. “It’s too crowded.”
"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there."
"You wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you."
"Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets."

"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."

"I wish I had an answer to that because I'm tired of answering that question."

 “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

“Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?” -Carmen Berra, Yogi’s wife. “Surprise me.” – Yogi

"I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did."

."It ain't the heat, it's the humility."


Kibbud Av Vs. Truth

From today's Times: An interesting ethical dillema. What does one write on the tombstone of one's father who was a rasha. Kibbud Av vs. Emes!

Forever the prankster, my father died at 79 on Yom Kippur of 2003, prompting my mother’s comment: “That day is for the holy — how did they ever let him in?”
Wicked or not, Dad was much loved by his siblings and his nieces and nephews. However, my brother, Andrew, and I had a different narrative. To us, our father was a failed lawyer, a sadistic philanderer — not much of a role model. When it came time to put up the stone, which according to Jewish custom is within a year after a death, we stalled. For a very long time.
Dad’s sister lost patience with us. One winter night six years after my father’s death, she shouted at me over the phone. I could just imagine her finger jabbing the air as she threatened me, “We will do it ourselves and have our own unveiling and we’ll never tell you. Take your hatred of your father to the grave!”
Only looking back on it now do I see the callousness of our fribbling. I should have been sympathetic; after all, she loved her younger brother just as I did my older.

Credit Getty Images

My first word was not Mommy or Daddy, it was “Ahdew.” My first memory was Andrew picking me up out of my crib. We fingerpicked our guitars together, singing out “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore.”  When I, a depressed teenager, hitchhiked in an attempt at running away, it was direct to Andrew’s dorm room. In trouble, he contacted me through dreams. Like the time he was thousands of miles away and, as I drifted to sleep, his voice woke me up.
“I’m scared,” he said. My mother thought I was nuts, but it turned out he was in a Manila hospital with a severe and mysterious inflammation.
Andrew went on to marry his college sweetheart, live in Milwaukee, have a family, become a cardiologist. I went on to have romance, yet not marry, to rent a Lower East Side walk-up and critique wine. Through it all he remained not only my brother, but also my best friend and the father mine should have been.
Our aunt was wrong about our delay with Dad’s stone. It wasn’t motivated by hatred. We had writer’s block. We talked feverishly about it, bonding over the task. But we could not solve the puzzle of the proper wording. How could we be truthful about our feelings, yet memorialize the love he inspired? We weren’t being flippant; for us, the stone was too heavy.
Mom suggested “I Did It My Way,” the tune Dad whistled as he left her in 1972. Andrew and I thought the poetic simplicity of giving his siblings and their children top billing, “Beloved Brother and Uncle Phil,” omitting us, would work. The stone had long been paid for and we were late and running out of excuses and ideas.
Several times a year, Andrew came in solo for visits to New York. When my aunt mysteriously stopped bugging us about the monument, we decided that on Andrew’s next trip out East we would visit the cemetery to see if she had made good on her threat.
It was a clammy Sunday in August when my mother, who should have been a taxi driver instead of the most senior jeweler left on the Bowery, drove from her home in Long Beach to fetch me. We picked up Andrew from La Guardia and headed to Pinelawn’s cemeteries. On the way we did our usual catching up: my next travels to Loire vines, his latest invention for angioplasty techniques, Mom’s complaining about the cost of a carat stone.
“It’s a maze here,” Andrew observed as Mom navigated through Mount Ararat to find my father’s family plot. We let her blaze the way, swinging her age-defying pink pocketbook.
Sure enough, next to our paternal grandparents, was a rock, flush with the ground, that bore the name Philip T. Jering..
I glanced over at Andrew. Side by side we then looked down and saw Beloved Brother, Uncle, Father, Grandfather. Our aunt had done it her way.
Truly, we were more relieved than disturbed. We packed into the air-conditioned car and headed to Cedarhurst for the treat, kosher sushi.
A short year later Andrew, who was supposed to be on a plane to New York for one of his visits, called me.
“Are you here already?” I asked, confused, looking at the clock.
“No. I’m at the hospital,” he said, and I knew immediately he wasn’t in the cath lab.
“Pancreatic cancer. Getting a chemo pump installed.”
“But we don’t have cancer in our family!” I insisted. I had to be calm. I knew he needed that.
When he was last in, there was the nausea he complained about. There was also that check he left for me, unbidden and sizable, under the coffee cup in my kitchen. It was an unprecedented concrete yet sentimental act of approving the unconventional and poorly compensated path I had taken. He must have sensed that his symptoms went deeper. I tormented myself; why hadn’t I intuited it?
“When did you find out?” I was bewildered.
That week, he had called the radiology department at the hospital where he worked. “I’m coming in for a few pictures,” he told them. He knew exactly what he was looking for and it was soon confirmed. “It’s bad when the radiologist bursts into tears,” he said to me.
We had a job to do, to strategize how to tell our mother that she would outlive her son. Then I stuffed a pillow in my mouth so my neighbors wouldn’t hear me as I bled the pain into its down.
Those of us who would survive started to fray.
My mother and I flew out as often as we could. I brought cashmere caps to keep his head warm, and wines to tease his palate, to show him why the world of wine had captivated me. He and I talked daily, struggling to snuggle into the closeness we had assumed we would have time for in old age. A year after his diagnosis, my sister-in-law told us to come the next day.
We had less than 24 hours to spend with him. He was in bed in the blue medical scrubs he wore as pajamas, clutching his pillow, in a morphine haze. I felt I could read into his restlessness, wanting it to be over and wanting to cling to life all at once.
My mother, a very religious woman, said she believed in miracles. I didn’t argue this time. I just said,
“Go in and say goodbye, and tell him you love him.”
“He knows I love him,” she said.
I stood by the door, grateful when she got the words out.
We returned the next week to Milwaukee where he was buried. It was a rainy, stormy, muddy day. He was 62.
A year later, no one could deal with the unveiling, where we would normally gather graveside to take a ceremonial gauze cloth off a stone, and then eat the traditional bagels and lox. Instead, on the anniversary of his death my sister-in-law sent me some digital pictures of the monument. In poignant contrast to the way Andrew and I handled our father’s, her stone went up swiftly. The words carved in the granite were unapologetic and erasing.

Andrew Jonathan Jering, beloved husband and father
It sliced me in a way I couldn’t have imagined. There was no Jewish law requiring the mention of a sister or a surviving mother, though by custom the mentions include all those left to sit shiva. But like most traditions around death, they were in place more for the living. The dead? Not so much. Andrew would have laughed and have tried to soothe me. “Why do you need that affirmation?” he would have said. “Mouse, it doesn’t matter. Really. It doesn’t.”
My brother left notes, and not only under coffee cups. Like a silly girl looking for a sign from the dead, my eyes traveled up above my desk to the books of wine research and Philip Roth to a local crafts tchotchke Andrew had sent me long ago, when he was at medical school in the Philippines. It was a naked man wearing a removable wooden cask. Over the years I had always placed the figure, like some totem, close to my work spaces, from Selectric to Macintosh. Having not removed the barrel from the toy man in years, I slipped it off. All of its hinged appendages went boing. Taped to its torso was a note that my brother had written, the content of which I had forgotten.
But there in now faded indigo ink was, “Alice, hang in there. Love, Andy.”

A Tale Of Two Minyanim

I davened the first part of Yom Kippur with a minyan of very fine Jews that created a more Tishba B'av-dike atmosphere [at least that is what I felt]. For Mincha and Neilah I switched to a minyan that had a serious but far more festive atmosphere.

What can I do? The Holy Besht taught that Yom Kippur should bring tremendous simcha. You are getting a clean slate! Imagine that you had a debt to the bank of 10 million dollars and because you asked nicely and incidentally the President of the bank was your Father, you are released from the debt. How would you feel? Whatta simcha!! And how about if you would get a bonus of 10 million dollars into your account? Wonder of wonders!

THAT is what happens spiritually, in the real world [not our fake one where people think money really matters:-)] on Yom Kippur. So I can't handle these depressive minyanim. People mean well but it doesn't work for me.

בשמך יגילון כל היום - In Your Name they will rejoice all day [Tehillim 89/ 18]. The Roshei Teivos spell "בכיה"-  crying. Even the crying should be with rejoicing! The Rambam strongly implies that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are days of simcha [albeit not as happy as Succos or Yom Yerushalayim:-)].

I am sure everybody in the first minyan did a fine teshuva but next year I will be elsewhere.

I hope that there is a next year for me.

And you!!!

Ameeennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 

Link With A Summary

To summarize the shiur:

4 questions:

1] What is the distinction between the widow of a king who is forbidden even to another king while his utensils [כלי תשמיש] are permitted?

2] Tosfos in Sanhedrin asks why the gemara in Ksubos doesn't answer that for the sake of a mitzva a king is allowed to forgo his honor [which would explain why Agrippas went aside for a kallah] as the gemara answers in Sanhedrin about the permissibility of doing yibum and chalitzah?

The problem is that this answer was only given according to Rebbi Yehuda but not the Rabbis so it would not be a satisfying answer in Ksubos when we are not following the opinion of R' Yehuda. So what is Tosfos asking [pray tell]?

3] According to the Ra"n a king may forgive his honor if there is either both a mitzva and he is bringing the lack of honor on himself [and not others acting without the necessary honor] or in a case where there is both a mitzva and only a small degree of disrespect. The question is - If the fact that it is a mitzva alone doesn't allow him to forgo his honor because of the rule that a king may not forgo his honor, how does the element of "himself doing it" or that is is only a small amount of disrespect change matters?

4] Question on R' Yehuda: He holds that a king may perform yibum or chalitza if he chooses to forgive his honor. This would imply that if he chooses NOT to forgive his honor then he doesn't have to perform yibum or chalitza. That means that the notion of honoring the king applies even in a case of a mitzva. If so, how is he allowed to forgive his honor - we have a rule that a king may not forgive his honor מלך שמחל על כבודו אין כבודו מחול?

Picking And Choosing

The psak of the Chacham Tzvi that visitors to Israel need to keep only one day of yuntiff is getting more and more popular while the psak of the Chacham Tzvi that women don't go to mikva on Friday night is not popular at all.

A paraphrase of Rabbi Baruch Simon Shlita

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Forget - A Taste Of Bliss

I got an email alert that my "private info" has been exposed on 8 sites.

What private info? That I was/am really bad at chemistry? That I could never get myself to like Harry Potter books?

And who cares! I am about to stand before Hashem for 25 hours and He is going to decide if I am going to live or the opposite.

A person has to reach a point where he realizes that this whole world is sheker and that all that matters is Hashem. All the emails, texts, instant messages etc. etc. etc. all of the nonsense of our technological society are all hevel havolim.

מקוה ישראל השם!!! Jump into the mikva. No chatzitzos. No separations. Just you, Klal Yisrael and Hashem.

Forget the day after Yom Kippur, forget your succos plans, forget your bills and worries, forget what you are going to eat after the fast-  just be like an angel. Immerse yourself in the Divine light of Olam Haba that descends on Yom Kippur.

It will be mamesh mamesh מעין עולם הבא!

A Bracha I Heard From A Tzadik

A shmeichel-dike Yom Kippur.

[A smiling Yom Kippur]

A Different World - Light Bulbs - Who We Can Change - Make It Count

You would think that after Yom Kippur the Batei Din would go out of business. All of the couples who filed for divorce would cancel because each spouse appeased the other, tearfully begging forgiveness and taking concrete steps in order to make it work [this, of course, excludes extreme cases where divorce is necessary].

All of the people involved in monetary disputes [especially those ugly family wars] will have come to a compromise where each was concerned only with placating and satisfying the other party etc. etc.

In addition, all of the terrible fights in our yeshivos, shuls, schools etc, will have ended instantaneously. It was Yom Kippur and each side admitted their part of the guilt and promised to try to reach a peaceful solution.

All of the ruptured relationships between parents and children will have ended. Children will tearfully apologize to parents for all of the anguish they caused. Parents will likewise reciprocate and express contrition and remorse for all of the pain they caused the child.

Women will go on Motzei Yom Kippur and buy a new, more modest wardrobe to replace their less modest clothing of the past. [The Rav of Kfar Chabad recently came out with a strong letter to the women spelling out tzniyus requirements, including the need that the skirt cover the knee. Chasidic women have to be told not to wear mini-skirts???!!! שומו שמים. What is the world coming to. I saw a drasha of the Satmar Rebbe from the 1960's where he also decries the immodest clothing Chasidic women are wearing. What is gong ON? The Eden Roc and Inbal styles made inroads in Crown Heights and Williamsburg?].

Shuls will have signs up with new shiurim for all of the people who decided on Yom Kippur that they have to learn more.


An אנדערע וועלט - A different world.

But alas, none of this happens and עולם כמנהגו נוהג. I have been following people for decades and they are the same. The exact same. A wonder. You would think, after all of those Eluls and Yomim Noraim that something would change...

Bottom line: We may not have the power to change others [how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? 1. But the light bulb has to want to change... How many Chabad-niks does it take to change a light bulb? None. The light never went out....] but we DO have the power to change ourselves.


Let us make this Yom Kippur COUNT. Think a lot about your life and what changes you want to make. The vidui [with great English language commentary], gives ample ideas about what must be changed.

With much love and blessings for a גמר חתימה טובה:-),

Me ☺☺

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Value Of Life

We conclude the al cheit confessional prayers of Yom Kippur with the following declaration:
“אֱ-לֹהַי, עַד שֶׁלּא נוֹצַרְתִּי אֵינִי כְדַאי. וְעַכְשָׁיו שֶׁנּוֹצַרְתִּי כְּאִלּוּ לא נוֹצַרְתִּי.”
“My God, before I was formed, I was of no worth. And now that I have been formed, it is as if I was not formed.”
The Talmud (Berachot 17a) records that fourth-century scholar Rava composed this prayer, but its meaning is unclear. Before I was formed, of course I was of no worth — I did not exist yet! And after I was formed — why does it say that ‘it is as if I was not formed’? Do I exist or not?

My Life’s Goal

This short prayer gives us an important insight into the meaning of our existence. “Before I was formed, I was of no worth.” Clearly, before I was born I was not needed in this world. ‘I was of no worth’ — nothing required my existence, there was no mission for me to fulfill. Since I was not yet needed in the world, I was not born in an earlier generation. “And now that I have been formed” — since my soul has entered the world at this point in time, it must be that now there is some mission for me to accomplish. I am needed to repair and complete some aspect of the world.  And yet, “it is as if I was not formed.” Were I to dedicate my life to fulfilling the purpose for which I was brought into the world, this would confirm and justify my existence. But since my actions are not in accordance with my true goal, I am not accomplishing my life’s mission. And if I fail to fulfill my purpose in life, my very existence is called into question.  If I do not accomplish the mission for which I was placed in this world, then the situation has reverted back to its state before my birth, when, since I was not needed in the world, I was not yet formed. Thus, even now that I have been formed, it is regrettably ‘as if I was not formed.’

The Message for Yom Kippur

It is highly significant that this prayer was added to the Yom Kippur confession. After we have recognized and admitted our many faults and mistakes, we could conclude that we cause more harm than good, and would be better off retiring to the privacy of our homes. Rava’s prayer teaches that we have a mission to accomplish, and it is critical that we discover this mission and work toward fulfilling it. Otherwise, tragically, “it is as if I was not formed.”  (Silver from the Land of Israel, pp. 77-78. Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. II, p. 356)

Yom Kippur: Healing The Universe

The Sages made a surprising claim about the power of teshuvah:
“Great is repentance, for it brings healing to the world... When an individual repents, he is forgiven, and the entire world with him.” (Yoma 86b)
We understand that one who repents should be forgiven — but why should the entire world also be forgiven? In what way does teshuvah bring healing to the world?

Responsibility for the World

There are deep, powerful ties that connect each individual soul to the rest of the universe. Not only are we influenced by the world, we also influence it. In Orot HaKodesh (vol. II p. 351), Rav Kook described this connection as a ‘powerful underlying influence.’ This is not merely mankind’s industrial and technological impact on the world, as we utilize fire, water, electricity, and other forces of nature to do our bidding.
“That is only a partial and superficial aspect of our impact on the world. The Kabbalists taught that the world’s essence, in all of its wholeness and scope, is bound to us with ties of subordination, accepting our influence. This understanding indicates that there is a fundamental integration between the nishmatiut [soul-quality] that operates in the world and our own nishmatiut.”
This inner connection and influence on the rest of the universe implies a heavy moral responsibility:
“How wonderful is the moral perspective that arises from this great responsibility — a responsibility for all of existence, for all worlds. We have the power to bring favor and light, life, joy, and honor in these worlds. This occurs when we follow the straight path, when we strengthen and gird ourselves with a pure fortitude and conquer paths of life that are good and admired, when we advance and go from strength to strength.
“Yet it is also in our power to bring pain to every good portion, when we debase our souls and corrupt our ways, when we darken our spiritual light and suspend our moral purity.” (Orot HaKodesh vol. III, p. 63)
Given our great responsibility for our actions, the Talmudic statement becomes clearer. Those who correct their ways repair not only the flaws in their own souls but also those aspects of the universe that they damaged. Their teshuvah truly ‘brings healing to the world.’

The Ne'ilah Prayer

This dual responsibility — for the purity of our souls as well as the spiritual state of the entire universe — is hinted at in the final prayer of Yom Kippur. The Ne'ilah prayer, recited as Yom Kippur’s gates of forgiveness are closed, concludes with a special passage, “Atah notein yad laposhim,” (‘You extend Your hand to transgressors'). In this prayer we confess that
“There is no end to the fire-offerings required of us, and countless are our guilt-offerings.”
What is the difference between these two phrases — ‘the fire- offerings required of us’ (ishei-chovoteinu) and ‘our guilt- offerings’ (nichochei-ashmateinu)? Writes the Rav:

אין קץ לאשי חובותינו ואין מספר לניחוחי אשמתנו חובתנו היא החובה אל הבריאה כולה שאנחנו חייבים לתקן את מה שפגמנו בחטאינו וכמ"ש באבות להפרע מן הרשעים שמאבדין את העולם. הבריאה תובעת מן האדם שיתקן מה שפגם
בהם וע"ז אמרה תורה שיעשה תשובה ויביא חטאת ויתקן את מה שפגם בהם. אבל מלבד שפגם בבריאה טמא גם את נשמתו והיא מלוכלכת מכתמי העונות שנתרשמו בה והוא צריך לכבס כתמי הנפש ולטהרה ולהביאה אל מדרגתה
שהיתה מקודם שחטא, ועל זה באה העולה שהיא לרצות לפני הקב"ה וז"ש אין קץ לאשי חובותינו ואין מספר לניחוחי אשמתנו היא אשמת הנפש ככתוב ואשמה הנפש ההיא [עיין ברמב"ן]. ואם נביא על כל חטא וחטא קרבן עולה לריח ניחוח
אין להם מספר

Restoring the Soul’s Purity

Our moral defects and lapses have a detrimental effect on the soul, sullying it with the imprints of failure and sin. We seek to cleanse these stains and restore the soul to its previous state of purity. To repair the damage we have caused to our own soul, we offer an olah offering before God. It is for this reason that the Torah commands us to bring an offering even if we have sinned unintentionally.  [So explained the Ramban in his commentary to Lev. 4:2: ‘The reason that one who sinned unintentionally brings an offering (korban) is because all transgressions bring disgrace to the soul, tainting it.... Therefore a soul that erred brings an offering, so that it may merit to become close (le-korvah) to its Creator.']  This Ne'ilah prayer refers to these offerings as nichochei ashmateinu, ‘guilt-offerings.’ This term indicates that our actions have tarnished the soul, as it says, “And the soul that was guilty ("ashmah")” (Num. 5:6). These offerings are nichochim since they produce a ‘pleasing fragrance’ as they cleanse the soul and enable it to once again draw close to God.

Repairing the World

There is, however, a second aspect to our spiritual failures. In addition to defiling the soul, our sins also debase and pollute the universe. Even private failings have a negative impact on the moral and spiritual state of the universe. For this reason the Sages categorized the wicked as those ‘who destroy the world’ (Avot 5:1).  The universe demands that we repair that which we have damaged. This repair is accomplished through teshuvah and offering a chatat offering. The Ne'ilah prayer refers to these offerings as ishei chovoteinu, ‘our required fire-offerings,’ since they reflect our duty and obligation to correct that which we have damaged in the universe. (Silver from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. II, p. 364)

The Seder Ha-avoda

Rabbi Kaganoff
Rav Goldberg was discussing the tefilos of Yom Kippur with the shul’s chazan, Reb Hershel.
“Probably the least understood part of the Yom Kippur davening is the Seder Avodah recited in the repetition of Musaf.” The Rav began. “Although it is one of the most important parts of the Yom Kippur davening, I have seen many shuls race through it at a pace too fast for comprehension.”
“Let me quote you the Me’am Loez,” continued Rav Goldberg, pulling a sefer off the shelf. “He writes, ‘Many people doze off during the recital of the Avodah. They don’t realize that the most important part of Yom Kippur is during the repetition of the Sh’moneh Esrei, when the Seder Avodah is recited.’”
“I didn’t realize it was that important,” admitted Reb Hershel, “but it is very hard to understand.”
“Dozens of piyutim (liturgical pieces) have been written describing the Seder Avodah,” explained Rav Goldberg. “Most shuls that daven Nusach Ashkenaz recite the piyut that begins with the words Amitz Koach, which is indeed a very difficult, poetically-written piyut. The piyut used in Nusach S’fard, Atah Konanta, is much easier to comprehend.”
“So why do we recite Amitz Koach?”
“That is an excellent question that I cannot answer fully. Already in the time of the Gemara, we see that the Seder Avodah was recited, presumably from some type of piyut, although the text they used is long lost. The Geonim and Rishonim refer to many different piyutim that they had in their times. Amitz Koach was authored by Rabbeinu Meshulam ben Klonymos, who is quoted by Rashi with the greatest respect (see Rashi, Bava Metzia 69b s.v. Mafrin; Zevachim 45b s.v. h.g.). In the course of time, Minhag Ashkenaz accepted the use of Amitz Koach, presumably out of respect for the author.”
“Why is it so important to recite the Seder Avodah? Is it a Takanas Chachomim?”
“There is no specific Takanah requiring the recital of the Seder Avodah. However, reciting it fulfills the concept of ‘U’neshalma Parim Sefaseinu,’ ‘And let our lips replace the (sacrificial) bulls’ (Hoshea 14:3). The Midrash teaches that when we are unable to offer korbanos, our recital of the Avodah is accepted by Hashem as a replacement for the korbanos (Midrash Rabbah, Shir HaShirim 4:3). This implies that we accomplish kaparah (atonement) by reciting the Seder Avodah with kavanah. Therefore, a person who recites the viduy of the Seder Avodah and truly regrets his sins can accomplish atonement; this would be similar to the viduy recited by the Cohen Gadol.
Reb Hershel was curious. “What did the viduy of the Cohen Gadol accomplish?”
“Different korbanos offered by the Cohen Gadol atoned for different sins (see Gemara Yoma 61a). However, the greatest atonement was accomplished by the goat sent to Azazel, which atoned for all the sins of the Jewish people (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 1:2; Mishnah Shevuos 2b).”
“Do you mean that a person could achieve atonement even if he did not do Teshuvah?”
“Although there is such an opinion in the Gemara, the halacha is that Yom Kippur’s kaparah is only effective for those who do Teshuvah (Gemara Shevuos 13a). A person who does complete Teshuvah, which means that he regrets his sins, makes a decision that he will never commit this sin again, and recites viduy is forgiven for his sins.”
“Does this mean that he will never be punished for them?”
“Not always. For very serious sins, including Chilul Hashem, (desecrating Hashem’s name) he may still be punished in this world. But, someone who completely repented his sins in this world is guaranteed that he will suffer no punishment in the next world (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 1:3-4).”
“At the time of the Beis HaMikdash, did people know when their sins were forgiven?”
“When the Cohen Gadol was a tzadik, part of the Yom Kippur Avodah included a procedure that showed Klal Yisrael whether they were forgiven. Let me provide some background. The Beis HaMikdash treasurers purchased two goats at the same time that were identical in height, appearance and value (Mishnah Yoma 62a). One of these goats was a Yom Kippur korban, offered in the Beis HaMikdash, and the other, was the Azazel goat.
“The Cohen Gadol drew lots to determine which goat would be the korban for Hashem and which would be the Azazel. This was an elaborate procedure. The Cohen Gadol stood in the courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash, near the courtyard’s entrance, facing the two goats, one opposite his right hand, and the other opposite his left. The S’gan, the Associate Cohen Gadol, stood on the Cohen Gadol’s right, and the Rosh Beis Av, the Head of the family unit of Cohanim on duty that week, stood on the Cohen Gadol’s left.
“The Cohen Gadol thrust his hands into a small wooden box containing two gold lots, one marked ‘for Hashem’ and the other ‘for Azazel,’ and removed the lots, one in each hand. He then raised his hands, exposing the lots to the S’gan and Rosh Beis Av. If the lot saying ‘for Hashem’ was in his right hand, the S’gan announced, ‘Master Cohen Gadol, raise your right hand.’ If it was in his left hand, the Rosh Beis Av announced, ‘Master Cohen Gadol, raise your left hand.’
“The Cohen Gadol then placed each lot on the head of the goat nearest that hand, and decreed, ‘For Hashem, a Chatos offering.’ The Cohen Gadol used the Ineffable Name of Hashem in this declaration, and everyone assembled responded by shouting ‘Baruch Shem K’vod Malchuso L’Olam Vo’ed’ (Mishnah Yoma 37a and 39a).
“The Cohen Gadol then tied a red thread to the horn of the Azazel goat, and another red thread around the neck of the Chatos goat (Mishnah Yoma 41b). Much later in the
procedure, the Cohen Gadol rested his hands and full weight on the head of the Azazel goat, and recited aloud a viduy on behalf of the entire Jewish people. He concluded his viduy by stating, ‘Because on this day He will atone and purify you from all your sins. Before Hashem shall you become pure (Vayikra 16:30),’ once again using the Ineffable Name of Hashem. When the assembled people heard the Name uttered in purity and holiness by the Cohen Gadol, they all bowed and prostrated themselves until their faces were pressed to the ground. They then recited again ‘Baruch Shem K’vod Malchuso L’Olam Vo’ed’ (Mishnah Yoma 66a).
“At one point in the procedure, the red thread tied to the Azazel goat was removed, torn in half, and one part tied again onto the Azazel goat’s horns.  At the exact moment that the Jews were forgiven, both halves of the thread turned white” (Yoma 67a).
“You mentioned that the red thread was torn in half,” Hershel asked. “What happened to the other half?”
“This depends on the period of Jewish history. When the Cohen Gadol was a great tzadik, the Jews were forgiven on Yom Kippur, and the red thread turned white. During those years, the thread was left displayed in a prominent place in the Beis HaMikdash for everyone to see the miracle. However, in the later years of the Second Beis HaMikdash, when the Cohanim Gedolim were often not suitable for the position, the thread did not turn white. To save themselves embarrassment, the thread was placed where it would not be seen (Yoma 67a).
How frequently did the thread turn white?”
“Apparently, during the period of the Bayis Rishon and the early period of the Bayis Sheni the thread always turned white. In this period, the position of Cohen Gadol was awarded on the basis of merit. However, after the Cohanim
Gedolim in the Bayis Sheni began purchasing the position, the thread often did not turn white.”
“You mentioned that there was a vast difference between the Cohanim Gedolim of the First Beis HaMikdash and those of the Second. Could you explain this better?”
“Yes, indeed. The Cohanim Gedolim of the First Beis HaMikdash were all great tzadikim who were worthy of their
exalted position. Most of them had long tenures as Cohen Gadol. In contrast, most of the Cohanim Gedolim of the Second Beis HaMikdash bribed the government for the position. Because they lacked the kedusha the position required, they died within a year of securing the appointment (Yoma 8b; 9a).”
“And yet they were eager to bribe the government for the job?”
“People do very strange things for kavod. As Chazal teach us, it is one of the three things that remove a person from this world.”
Reb Hershel had many other questions. “What part of the Avodah of Yom Kippur was the Cohen Gadol obligated to perform himself?”
“Certain procedures took place in the Beis Hamikdash every day, such as clearing the two mizbeichos (altars); bringing the daily offerings (Korban Tamid); burning k’tores (incense) twice a day; and cleaning, setting up and lighting the Menorah. In addition, on Shabbos and Yom Tov, there were special korbanos called Korban Musaf, the origins of our Musaf prayers. The Torah mentions these korbanos in Parshas Pinchas. All these could be performed by any cohen.
“On Yom Kippur, in addition to the daily and Musaf korbanos, there was a special procedure unique to Yom Kippur, which is called the Seder Avodah, or the Seder Avodas Yom Kippur. This Avodah, involving the offering of several special korbanos and a unique offering of incense, is described in Parshas Acharei, the Keriyas HaTorah for Yom Kippur morning, and in great length in Mesechta Yoma. For this Avodah, the Cohen Gadol wore special white garments that were worn no other time. Although it was preferred that the Cohen Gadol perform everything in the Beis HaMikdash on Yom Kippur himself, the only part absolutely mandatory for him to perform was the special Yom Kippur Avodah.”
“I am confused,” admitted Hershel. “The Piyutim of Seder Avodah mention drawing lots to determine which cohanim will bring korbanos on Yom Kippur. But why draw lots, if the Cohen Gadol was doing everything anyway?”
“A lottery system was used each day to determine which cohanim would perform the different tasks in the Beis HaMikdash. Most poskim contend that the Cohen Gadol performed ALL the service in the Beis HaMikdash by himself on Yom Kippur (even though he was only required to perform the special Yom Kippur Avodah). In their opinion, there was no lottery on Yom Kippur to determine who performed any tasks. Other poskim contend that although the Cohen Gadol was to perform all the tasks in the Beis HaMikdash himself, if he was unable to perform the entire Avodah himself,  other cohanim could do some parts of it in his place. When this happened, the lottery system would determine which cohen was appointed to perform the avodah.”
“It is interesting to note,” continued the Rav, “that to perform every part of the special Seder Avodah of Yom Kippur, the Cohen Gadol was required to wear his special Yom Kippur vestments (described in Parshas Acharei). However, for every part of the service that was not part of the Yom Kippur Avodah, he wore the eight vestments described in Sefer Shmos. Thus, the Cohen Gadol changed his clothes five times during Yom Kippur. According to a special commandment received by Moshe Rabbeinu (Halacha l’Moshe mi’Sinai), he immersed himself in a mikveh each time he changed his clothes and also performed a special procedure involving washing his hands and feet twice each time.”
“I understand that when the Cohen Gadol entered the Kodesh HaKodoshim (The Holy of Holies), no one was allowed to be inside the entire Beis HaMikdash building, even the Kodesh (Vayikra 16:17),” interjected Hershel.
“Not only were no humans allowed in, but even angels could not enter (Yerushalmi Yoma 1:5, cited by Tosafos Yeshanim Yoma 19b).”
“I remember learning that the Cohen Gadol had to swear an oath before Yom Kippur,” queried Hershel. “Why was that?”
“The first time the Cohen Gadol entered the Kodesh HaKodoshim, he did so with a ladle of specially refined k’tores (incense) and a censer, a type of coal pan for burning incense. According to Halacha L’Moshe M’Sinai, he had to enter the Kodesh HaKodoshim first and then burn the k’tores inside. However, the Tzedukim, who did not accept Torah she-bal peh, believed that he should kindle the k’tores first and then enter the Kodesh HaKodoshim. In the period of the Second Beis HaMikdash, when the position of Cohen Gadol was often purchased, there was concern that the Cohen Gadol might be a clandestine Tzeduki. Since no one could enter the Beis HaMikdash building while the k’tores was offered, there was no way of knowing what the Cohen Gadol actually did while inside. Therefore, he was required to swear before Yom Kippur that he would perform the service as instructed by the Gedolei Yisrael.”
“Were there any recorded instances of a Cohen Gadol who was a Tzeduki?”
“The Gemara records two such instances. In one case, the Cohen Gadol proudly told his father, who was also a Tzeduki, that he had offered the k’tores according to their practices. The Gemara records that this Cohen Gadol soon died a very ignominious death.”
“What happened in the other instance?”
“The Gemara records that the cohanim heard a loud sound in the Beis HaMikdash. They raced in to find the Cohen Gadol dead, with obvious signs that he had been killed by an angel (Yoma 19b).”
“But I thought even angels could not enter the Beis HaMikdash while the Cohen Gadol offered the k’tores?”
“This is an excellent question, and it is asked by the Gemara Yerushalmi. The Gemara answers that since the Cohen Gadol had performed the service incorrectly, the angels were permitted to enter.
“How many times did the Cohen Gadol enter the Kodesh HaKodoshim on Yom Kippur?” asked Hershel.
“Most people don’t realize that the Cohen Gadol entered the Kodesh HaKodoshim four times on Yom Kippur. The first time was with the special Yom Kippur k’tores, the second time to complete the kaparah of his special Yom Kippur bull offering, and the third time was to attend to the kaparah of the goat offering. During each of these last two visits he sprinkled eight times. These sprinklings have a significant place in the piyutim. These are the places when the chazan, followed by the congregation, shouts out, ‘Achas, achas v’achas, achas u’shtayim,’ until ‘achas va’sheva’ to commemorate this part of the Avodah.”
“You said that the Cohen Gadol entered the Kodesh HaKodoshim four times, but we mentioned only three.”
“Much later in the day, the Cohen Gadol changed into a different set of special Yom Kippur white garments and entered the Kodesh HaKodoshim to pick up the censer and the ladle that he had brought in earlier. This was a required part of the Yom Kippur service.”
“I reviewed the description of the Avodah mentioned in Parshas Acharei,” continued Hershel. “I notice that the Torah does not mention Yom Kippur until the twenty-ninth pasuk of the discussion. Why is this?”
“Although Aaron and the later Cohanim Gedolim never entered the Kodesh HaKodoshim, except on Yom Kippur, the Midrash says that Aaron was permitted to enter it at other times, provided he followed the procedure described in Parshas Acharei. On Yom Kippur, he was obligated to offer these korbanos and enter the Kodesh HaKodoshim. Thus, the beginning of the reading explains how Aaron could enter the Kodesh HaKodoshim, whereas the end teaches that this procedure must be performed on Yom Kippur.” (Note that Rashi on Chumash seems to disagree with this approach.)
“Is it true that a rope was tied around the Cohen Gadol’s waist before he entered, so that they could pull him out if he died?”

“In actuality, the source, which is a Zohar, mentions that a rope was tied around his foot,” responded Rav Goldberg.
“Thanks a lot for all your time,” Reb Hershel concluded.  “I now understand the importance of reciting the Seder Avodah carefully, and why some people study the mishnayos of Meseches Yoma before Yom Kippur.”
“You are absolutely correct. Indeed, the Mateh Efrayim maintains that one’s main learning during the entire month of Elul should be devoted to understanding the Seder Avodah properly. So, don’t forget to study the mishnayos and gemaros we’ve just been discussing yourself.”

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Saying slichos bi-yechidus.

More On Forgiving

It is much easier to forgive when you realize that nobody in the world has a perception of reality which equals yours. Nobody has the exactly same attitudes, belief system, behavioral patterns etc. etc. Don't judge others by your standards.


The pasuk says אין צדיק בארץ אשר יעשה טוב ולא יחטא - EVERYBODY sins. The gemara says אין אדם חוטא אא"כ נכנס בו רוח שטות - Every sin is a case of temporary insanity.

If everybody sins and every sin is a bout with insanity, that means that EVERYBODY IS AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT CRAZY.

Remember that.

Then forgive with love.

Speak Up

Re this post:

The Zohar Hakadosh says that not only will we be taken to task for all of the things we said which we should not have - we will also have to give an accounting for all of the good things we could have said but didn't....

Why I Am A Jew

As I take issue with much of what R' Dr. Sacks writes and preaches - I take issue with this as well. Of course much of what he said is true but there were a number of things that bothered me.

He said that he respects what other religions have to teach and this statement was accompanied by a drawing of a christian cross and muslim crescent. What do we like about those two religions [and the others] that don't already exist in Judaism? I abhor this religious "openness" making room for other religions when there is no source for this in the Torah. A goy doesn't have to convert nor is he encouraged to but he is also not allowed to serve idols which is what Christianity preaches. Yoshke, the Trinity, immaculate conception etc. etc. are all anathema to any believing Jew. As for Islam - I don't have to tell you what it teaches.

He also says that there is nothing special about the Jew but about Judaism. This goes counter to all of the books of Chasidus and Kabbala which teach about the unique Jewish soul. Not only is Judaism special but so are Jews. בנים אתם לה' א-להיכם. אהבתי אתכם אמר השם. And many other psukim and maamarei chazal וחדלו לספור כי אין מספר.  [We discussed this not long ago and I hope ברצות השם דרכינו to return to the topic at a later date. ועוד חזון למועד.]

He also says that we never stopped wrestling with G-d. We don't wrestle with G-d. That is how he interprets the story of Yaakov and the angel but that has [to the best of my knowledge] no source in our tradition and sounds quite blasphemous.

Lesson: Just because they play pleasant background music and someone with a British accent is talking doesn't mean that what he is saying is necessarily true.

Skipping Bi-sefer Chaim

What is the halacha if a person is davening during the aseres yemei teshuva and the chazan is about to reach kedusha. Should he skip בספר חיים [before the final המברך את עמו ישראל בשלום] on order to get to kedusha or not?

If he started with the tzibbur then he should not because such a person has the right to daven for as long as he wants and need not rush in order to make kedusha. However, if he started after the tzibbur and the only way he was allowed to start is because he will finish before kedusha [if he will not be able to say kedusha with another minyan], the question arises if he should skip.

This requires a discussion....

[הגרא"ג הגרש"ז ועוד רבים]

Remember The Miracles

41 years ago the Yom Kippur war broke out [I was here but couldn't fight due to the fact that I needed to be next to my mother who would periodically change my diaper]. The Arabs attacked when most of the soldiers had been sent home and the Jews were an easy target. The roads were clear and they could have conquered from Eilat down south until Kiryat Shmoneh up north. Their dream of wiping out the State of Israel and all of its Jews could easily have been realized חס ושלום.

לולא השם שהיה לנו - If not for Divine intervention which saved us. The clear roads made it easy for the soldiers to return to their bases. But on a deeper level - the fact that the attack was on Yom Kippur ensured that we would have the zchus of all of the Jews fasting and davening on Yom Kippur that saved us. Hashem planned it that the attack should be on this holy day so that we would have many great merits and be saved.

זה היום עשה השם נגילה ונשמחה בו!

[The Rebbe Shlita in the name of the Beis Yisrael of Gur].

Mechila - How Low Am I? - Is Anyone Against You?

I would like to take advantage of this forum to request-beg-ask-forgiveness from anyone I might have offended over the last year - and before.

The Sfas Emes [at the end of his commentary on Meseches Yoma] says a HUUUUGE chiddush. The Holy Rebbe writes that on Erev Yom Kippur one must ask forgiveness even if he was justified in what he said or did to the other person. As long as the other person was offended - he is obligated to ask forgiveness. All year long one must only ask forgiveness if what he said or did was actually wrong. Erev Yom Kippur has a special chumra that even when he was 100 percent on the mark, forgiveness must be requested.

In this light I will ask that if I hurt ANYONE in ANY WAY by anything I said, didn't say, did, didn't do, PLEASE forgive me. If you have something that you have been holding inside and want to tell me how much I bothered you, you may contact me directly and I will not get defensive or deny any wrongdoing. If you were hurt, then you deserve to be placated and appeased. A precise reading of early sources reveal that the foundation of asking for mechila is הכנעה - submission [ואכמ"ל]. It is critical that a person lower himself to the other person and thus redress the wrong that he did.

I will be happy to lower myself to you. I am so low that I can play handball on the sidewalk. Please just tell me so that I can make amends.

My life experience has taught me that the people who hurt me the most, NEVER ask mechilah or ask in a perfunctory way without any real sense of regret and willingness to change. There are profound psychological explanation for this which are not the topic of this post. However, I don't want to be guilty of the same - so PLEASE tell me what I have done so that I can correct it for the future.

For who offended or hurt me - I am mochel mechilah gemura! It might not help because a careful reading of a gemera at the end of Yoma [ואכמ"ל] teaches that without asking, the mechila is limited in it's effectiveness [or not effective at all], but for all it is worth, I am mochel.

What I have learned over the years is that it is very rare that a person is AGAINST me. Why would anyone be DAVKA against me?! It is that people are FOR themselves. This self-love and absorption comes at the expense of others but should not be taken personally. Paradoxically, people are far too immersed in themselves to have an interest in being against me. I am a nobody so what is there to be against? It is not like we are competing to be President of the US or for a specific job. It is this same self-immersion that might cause others at times to act in ways that cause offense or hurt feelings. That is the paradox.

Nobody is against you either [in all likelihood]. They are just in favor of themselves. So please together with me, drop all feelings of hostility and anger, let go, and put yourself in a world of complete, unbridled, unconditional love לכל אשר בשם ישראל יכונה - for all Jews [in the category of those one must love].

Bi-ahava and wishes for a great Yom Kippur filled with tremendous elevation,


Great Links

Can one logically prove G-d and the giving of the Torah - 100 percent?

Should a teenager study philosophy and kabbala?

How to overcome illicit thoughts.

Articles on Yom Kippur. An aliyah for someone who isn't fasting/ Simcha on R"H and YO"K/ Teshuva may-ahava/ The Pnimiyus of the Avoda on Yom Kippur.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


A sobering thought:

It could be that G-d decided last week that this will be my last year on earth. I have 4 days to undo the decree.


What have I done that would justify keeping me here? I can openly and with a great deal of embarassment admit that this year I spent a great deal of time complaining to Hashem Yisborach for the various struggles, disappointments, frustrations, pains, distresses etc. etc. from which I suffered a great deal on many different levels. It was not an easy one [following the previous one which was also no walk in the park - excluding the day I went for a pleasant walk in Central Park]. Maybe He said "Hey Elch, if you don't like the way I run my world, I will take you out of it".

So I think part of my avoda [and yours?] over the next few days is to fill myself with gratitude to Hashem for all of the BILLIONS of blessings I enjoy daily [every healthy cell, the sun, wind, gravity, knees, kindneys and countless other body parts and functions, food, a roof over my head, intellect, family and friends, shoes, water, RUNNING water, electricity, automobiles instead of horses etc. etc. etc.]. If we appreciate His blessings we receive the right for more.

I also ask Hashem to keep me here because my children need a father. The Chasam Sofer writes that sometimes Hashem keeps a person around longer just for the sake of his kids [והותיר ה' אלקיך לטובה בפרי בטנך]. The same applies to one who serves the community.

But the bottom line [at least for me] is אבינו מלכנו חננו ועננו כי אין בנו מעשים עשה עמנו צדקה וחסד והושיענו.

My learning is pathetic, my davening yet worse, my thoughts are constantly focused on myself etc. etc. But Hashem's mercy reigns supreme. I can hope that he give me yet another chance and HOPEFULLY next year I will be better.

I need a lot of mussar and chasidus to get my soul in order.

And, of course, ALWAYS bi-simcha!

What about YOU?

Brighten Someone's Day

A remarkable occurence that I witnessed with the two blue eyes I have thanks to Hashem, mom and dad.


Thanks Hashem, mom and dad for my eyes!! Couldn't see a thing without them. They mean as much and more to me than my glasses. 


This Shabbos I witnessed a well known Rov, a gadol bi-torah and tzidkus, who was walking down a Jerusalem street when he passed by an older man walking very slowly and being helped by a younger man [ostensibly his son]. He smiled and turned to the man and said [in yiddish] with tremendous excitement [as if this man was some celebrity] something to the effect of "It is so great to see a smiling Jew before Yom Kippur!! [The Jew hadn't been smiling - he actually looked quite in distress]. I wish you an amazing new year filled with many brachos." He shook the man's hand warmly [and the son wanted a piece so he stuck out his hand and got a handshake as well] and continued on his way. The elderly man asked the younger man who the Rabbi was. The younger man said his name and he nodded in recognition.

 This scene shook me to my core.

We [at least I] are not on his learning level. For that I would have to learn continuously for a thousand years and I still wouldn't be close. [I can't imagine how long it would take me just to learn the Minchas Chinuch by heart - and that is just the tip of the iceberg]. But we CAN stop and brighten the day of total strangers. However, we generally choose not to for various reasons - maybe we are self-conscious or self- absorbed or "self" other things but the bottom line is the concept of "self".

The greatest thing we can do is STEP OUT OF OUR WORLD OF SELF [and "selfies" for that matter] and focus on what we can do to brighten up someone else's day. We ALL have that power.

Let's do it. 




Did I Really Say That?

Somebody recently tweeted that I announced at the beginning of a shiur "OK everyone, please put away your phones, unless you are going to tweet my funny lines."

I really said that.

Peyton's Compassion

I have been a little hard on football recently. here is something more positive from the Indy Star, a newspaper I read daily☺

Dear Peyton Manning,

You took the time to read her letter. A letter that I can only imagine is one of thousands you receive in a week.

You probably choked up. Kari Barnett Bollig's story is one that makes even tough football giants cry.
And then you did the miraculous. What Kari never expected in a million years you would do.

You didn't put that letter down, thinking to yourself "too bad for that woman." You didn't go out onto the field, loosen up your shoulder and start throwing.

You walked in to your people at Mile High Stadium and you told your people to call that woman. I can hear you saying it now: "Get that woman out here. I want to meet her."

I didn't love you before, Peyton. Even when you were in Indianapolis, even when you won a Super Bowl for the Colts during the 2006 season. I didn't love you even when you made me cry with laughter in "Saturday Night Live" or those goofy ESPN commercials.

I never felt a particular genuineness about you. I felt more of a robotic aloofness. I'm not sure why. I know now that was my problem, not yours.

But I want to tell you something. I do love you now. I love you for what you did for my childhood friend from Greenfield, Ind., who is dying of breast cancer.


The cancer is stage 4, the worst stage breast cancer can be. It has spread throughout Kari's bones and into her lungs.

"There's not a whole lot, they can slow it down, but there's not a whole lot they can do," said Kari, 45, who now lives in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

So, as people often do in devastating situations like these, they started telling Kari to cross things off her bucket list. But Kari didn't have a bucket list. The fiery redhead has lived a full life.
But she did have some letters she wanted to write, to send to people who have meant something to her, who have made a difference in her life. They weren't supposed to be celebrity-type letters. She wrote them to school teachers and friends and family. But she did want to write one to you, Peyton.

"I have followed Peyton Manning forever, especially being an Indiana girl," she said. "I just thought,
'Well shoot. I'm going to write him a letter and tell him how much he inspires me, not just because he's a football player, but for what he does off the field.

"It was very personal. It was very heartfelt and I never thought anything of it other than I wrote it and sent it," she said. "I didn't even know he would get it."


Kari got the call. That you had read her letter and wanted to meet her.
"I kind of stammered and stuttered around," Kari said. "And then I said, 'Are you kidding me?' "
It was no joke. This past weekend, Kari was treated to two days at Mile High Stadium in Denver, where she watched Broncos players get their team photos taken Saturday, sat in on walk-through practices, took a tour of the facility.

She was given tickets to the Broncos vs. Ravens game Sunday and sideline passes for before the game — all left for her by you. Your name is right there on the envelope; never mind an "l" is missing from her last name.

Because when she met you, well, her heart melted.

"He walked right over after he got his picture taken," Kari said. "It was so sweet because he shakes my hand and says, 'I'm Peyton Manning.' It was cute. It was kind of like, 'I know who you are Peyton.' "

You spent 10 minutes with Kari and her husband of 12 years, Ed (who, in a tragic twist, lost his first wife to breast cancer). You talked to her. You took her mind off of cancer, just for a bit.

"It was real easy and laid back, not at all nervewracking," she said. "He's welcoming. He's like a gentle giant. It was such a personal moment. It was a once in a lifetime thing."


Kari grew up in Greenfield right across the street from my family. She was best friends with my older sister, Lisa Bauer. By association, she became my best friend, too, or at least I wanted her to be.
We played croquet on warm summer nights, we swam in her above-ground pool that I was wildly jealous of, we went to church together.
I would sit on my front porch and watch Kari chase her cute little beagle, Dinky, around her yard. Our parents had joint garage sales, shared the bounty from their gardens.
And then, with her athletic training dreams in front of her, Kari left for Northern Arizona University. Years later, I left for Butler University. And as happens, neighbors lose touch, and I never saw her again.
But we stayed in touch on Facebook. And that's when the posts started coming. Something wasn't right with Kari. Though, at first, it seemed like she would be fine.
As breast cancer goes, Kari's was the kind you wanted to get if you had to get the dreaded disease.
She was 40 years old when she found a lump in her left breast. She was diagnosed in April 2011 with stage 2. She got a lumpectomy, went through chemotherapy and radiation.
"Everything looked really good until 2013, when I thought I had pulled a muscle in my back and it never healed up and never went away," she said.
This was no pulled muscle. This was news that changed Kari's life.
The doctors found tumors all over her spine, one touching her spinal cord. Her cancer had metastasized and she was now stage 4. Kari's had 52 radiation treatments since then.

She goes every three weeks for an infusion of chemo, not the hard chemo that you think of, but a kind of chemo maintenance program to slow the progression.

"It's all throughout my bones," Kari said.

Some days, the physical pain (not to mention the devastating emotional turmoil) makes it tough for Kari to get off the couch. She has had to quit her job as a speech language pathologist at a child developmental center in Wyoming.

Her bones are so fragile that doctors feared even a small child running into her would break her spine or her hip.

Ed helps encourage her to keep moving, as does Bristol, her 3-year-old Boykin Spaniel. Bristol nudges Kari to play Frisbee or go on a walk.

She has plenty of time to read — and to write. And that, Peyton, is how your letter came to be.
Your letter is the only one Kari mailed. The others are still tucked away in her home. She's waiting.
"I'm not mailing them yet," she said. "I could still live 10 years. I could be gone next week, but I could be here in 10 years."
I'm glad she mailed your letter.

I heard what you did for her, as you were leaving her Saturday at the stadium. I heard you leaned in for one of those awkward guy hugs. You said quietly to her as you pulled away: "Keep fighting, Kari. I'll be praying for you."

Thank you, Peyton Manning, for doing what you did. We're all hoping those prayers work.