Sunday, November 29, 2015

Listen And Live

So many new shiurim BS"D. Some linked on the side of the page. 


Things You Shouldn't Do On A Date

Everything I say applies to both genders equally....

1] Don't fall asleep on her.

2] Don't not show up

3] Don't come late.

4] Don't text [or certainly have conversations on your phone] as she is speaking to you.

5] Don't look in every possible direction except at her [unless you are makpid on shmiras eynayim as you should be. Ask a big Rov first.....].

6] Try your best to be interested in everything she has to say. Don't show signs of boredom.

7] Try not to walk out on her. Go to the bathroom before the date and if you can last until after - great. 

8] Be involved and participitory. She is not here to entertain you and you should be equally engaged.

9] Remember that she is a person too with feelings and try to make her feel good and important. 

10] If she says something intelligent or meaningful - tell her! 

11] Avoid all types of rudeness.

12] Add your own.


What I wrote above is OBVIOUS! 


It goes without saying that all I wrote applies equally to rabbbeim and mageeddei shiur [which is the point I wanted to make. If you should treat a girl with respect - a rav requires no less]. 

Here is the kicker....

EVERYTHING I described, all of the negative behavior that is insulting and offensive, is practiced by talmidim on countless occastions - and they don't even realize that they are doing anything wrong.

As someone who has been zoche to give many thousands of shiurim, I can say that in just about every shiur there are sleepers, iphone users [sometimes even as I learn bi-chavrusa one on one, the person willl be using his phone above or below the table], escapees in the middle, late-comers, no-shows, people that stare at me and don't react when I ask them a question in order to encourage participation and exhibit other acts of rudeness and disrespect [outside of calling me insulting names like "Stupid-Al". At least not to my face:-)]. And I must add that these are good, solid people who have no malicious intent.

I am not alone. I observe this in many shiurim that I don't give - even from very chashuv rabbanim. 

I lament the disgrace to Torah and to those who teach it and use this forum to register a protest and to exhort all of my beloved-sweet-holy readers to be vigilant in preserving kavod hatorah umilamdeha. The Rambam [in the Ya"d] defines the mitzva of Torah as 1] teaching and learning and 2] honoring those who teach it.


זאב חיים בן חיה איידל

From an email....

Rabbi Zave Rudman shlit"a is undergoing a very serious surgery this Wednesday.
Please daven for the refuah shelaimah of Zave Chaim ben Chaya Aidel.
Please forward this to your friends and relatives, especially to those who have benefited from his wisdom and Torah.

If you are in Yerushalyim, we will be be"H gathering at the Kotel this Tuesday evening at 10:30 pm to say Tehillim for his refuah Shelaimah. We will be davening near the mechitza so that ladies can participate as well.


He was my first gemara rebbi when I came to Israel [bkiyus Brachos] and is now a relative through marriage.

Believe In Hashem And Yourself

R' Betzalel Naor

Ours is an age of lack of self-esteem. we don’t trust ourselves. We want to be protected, for we feel small, afraid, far from the center of spirituality. In being humble, we think we are modest, but really we are weak. In being excessively cautious, we think we are being exceptionally frum, but really we just don’t trust ourselves. We see ourselves as vulnerable enclosures whose boundaries must be clearly demarcated, whose territory must be secured, whose way in the world must be defensive.

Excessive fear of sin destroys the goodness in a person, and makes of him a lowly creature, who does nothing but lie there, shaking.” So writes Abraham Isaac Kook, in the opening paragraph of Orot Ha-emuna. “A person must believe in his life, in both his physical and moral powers.” The lack of emunah in oneself is the greatest of all the curses in the Torah, “Your life will be in the balance…and you will not believe in your life.” You will be plagued by self-doubt (Your life will be “in the balance”) and lack inner confidence. Because of this inner anxiety, “In the morning you will say, ‘Who will give evening?’ and in the evening ‘Who will give morning?’ “katnut ha-emunah,” “insufficient emunah,” is a lack of confidence in oneself, and “comes from the inability to raise one’s own self-worth to the point of understanding how he is deserving of the Divine Greatness.”

When we believe in ourselves we are not afraid-cautious, yes, but not afraid. And when we are not afraid we can look at the world again, and see in it the kaleidoscopic possibilities of existence. We can look outside, and see beneath the surface. And beneath that surface, we may even find something of ourselves.

 “When a person believes in himself he discovers great contentment in his spiritual endeavors, and ascends upward.’’ In this work Rav Kook explores emunah by comparing and contrasting it with kefirah (atheism, denial), avodah zarah (idol worship), and “minut,” which is the term favored by him to refer to Christianity, and by examining its relationship to the doing of mitzvot, and to general culture.

From these writings there emerges a profound teaching that belief in oneself is conceptually and existentially inseparable from emunah in God. For first and foremost, for Rav Kook, emunah is a state of being. As he writes elsewhere, “Emunah is the most basic self-revealing of the essence of the soul.” And this self-revealing is really the Divine within us made manifest: “Too much fear spoils emunah, because one doesn’t trust himself and his understanding, thereby diminishing his awareness of the Divine spark in his soul.” The essence of emunah is an awareness of the perfection of the Infinite and that “whatever experience of the infinite] enters the heart is but a minute spark of what can be imagined.” Emunah, then, is a self-affirmation in which one experiences one’s own self-revealment as the revealing of the Divine within. Emunah is a state of being.

It follows that emunah is not constituted by an act of “belief” or by a linguistic, cognitive affirmation. The latter are important both as external expressions of emunah, and as a means of bringing to emunah.

But even in their absence, emunah can be alive. And more, emunah can live even where there is no conscious awareness of one’s self divinity and even when one denies the Divine: “Sometimes you will find a kofer with an inner, shining strong emunah, flowing from the source of transcendent holiness, stronger than a thousand believers, who are “small of emunah.” How is this possible? Because “the inner spiritual basis of the holiness of emunah transcends all language.” A kofer can manifest the Divine power of his being even while denying faith with his mouth, and a believer can be lying, shaking with fright, all the while proclaiming his faith through chattering teeth.
Kefrah can itself even emanate from holiness. This can happen for example, when linguistic affirmations are rejected precisely because they are sensed to be inadequate, as but a weak shadow of the power of being. Thus, “there is denial (kefrah) that is like consent, and consent that is like denial.” Inadequate articulations of Judaism may force their own rejection, out of the depths of holiness. If we are to return the kofer to the practice of Torah, our elucidations of Torah contents must be adequate to the power of his being.

Rav Kook’s concept of emunah provides hope for our seemingly faithless world. For, “There are many apikorsim who are deniers, in accordance with the standards of Halacha. However, when we examine their soul we will discover in them a connection to the Divine content, in a hidden form. And that is why in our generation there is a tendency toward merit and kindness even toward absolute deniers.”

That does not at all mean that it does not matter for Rav Kook if you are atheist or believer, as long as the inner emunah manifests its power in you. Far from it. Linguistic affirmations of faith lead in the direction of transcendent truth, whereas protestations of atheism lead in the direction of falsehood and inauthenticity. He who is faithful to conceptual assertions of emunah has a covenant with God that he will merit that emunah which is beyond conceptualization and language. From that high vantage point he will apprehend the correspondence between the elements of the conceptualized emunah and its transcendent counterpart.

Yet sometimes, when we look outside, and beneath the surface, we do see something of ourselves.

Idol worship, too, in its deepest essence knows the power of being of emunah, but covers it over with corruption and evil: “In the filth of avodah zarah great is the spirit of emunah, in its wildness and coarseness, its frenzy and horselike power. Avodah zarah knows the visceral, immediate engagement with the Divine in the world, and total, passionate, self-actualization and self-affirmation.

... To believe that which can be practiced is the special genius of Jewish spirituality. This is the “balance of the Torah” which knows how to weigh the ideals against possibility of implementation.

Emunah is an ineffable state of being. How does it relate to the details of Torah practice? “Emunah is the highest poetry (shira) of the world, with its source in the Divine nature in the depths of the
soul. High poetry is unstructured, without meter and rhyme. It has total freedom of imagination without restrictions. It is a spontaneous outpouring of individual creativity. 

The Torah is the translation of the higher poetry into measure and beat, into conventions and rules. Torah is the poetry of emunah in its practical rhythm. “There are those filled with the glory of the poetry, who are pained by the restrictions of the practical life, but they accept the yoke of the kingdom of heaven.

But there are also impatient souls “who cannot bear the measure, and they are full of rebellion. But even in this rebellion the Divine pleasantness lives, albeit in an unclear way.”

Rav Kook once wrote  "Just as there are laws in poetry, there is poetry in laws.” When one loves a poem, he does not experience the restrictions of its form. The possibility exists to live a life of mitzvot as a form of poetry.

The poetry of emunah is not to be found exclusively in Torah. It informs every aspect of human endeavor that is “Divine creativity”: “The pure understanding sees the appearance of the Divine in every improvement of life … It is all included in Divine creativity.” The realization of our humanity is included in the power of emunah— “Everything is included in her, and everything exists in her.”

The bifurcation of reality into that which is the Lord’s, and that which is Caesar’s, originates in the anti-life of Christianity which severs the material world from its foundation of holiness. This poison has also infected the body of the Jewish people. For there are those amongst us who in their zealousness to fight evil believe we must suppress science, arts, and political activity because they are not part of the Divine aspect of the world. Hence, “They hate culture, the sciences, and statecraft, in Israel and in the world.” This is a lack of emunah.

The Jewish people excels at integrating opposing forces into a balanced whole, the power of Torah, the power of Tiferet. Therefore we must not stifle any talent, any human propensity, from developing to its fullest. It must first be allowed to exhaust the individuality buried within it. Once its full nature has been revealed and drawn out, then, and only then may the Jewish genius for integration and synthesis, including the rolling back of excessive development, be brought into play. If we impede the power of human creativity in the name of “faith” we sin against emunah.

The enslavement of human reason and its silencing destroys the world. The holier the source of enslavement, the greater the damage.”

What are we to do? It is not enough for intellect and emunah to dwell side by side within our soul. For we must not allow emunah to settle in a corner of ourselves where our intellectual powers have not reached. Our emunah would then be weak, and not worthy of us. We must unite intellect with emunah, so that in proportion to our intellectual achievement, emunah will be raised up.
This is true not only of the individual, but also of the nation in general, and of the whole world, in the generality of humankind.”

These are the teachings of Rav Kook in Orot Ha-emunah.

The Purity Of Children

From my archives....

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

המאמר קרבת אלהים בספר מאמרי הראיה עמ' 32-39

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

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

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

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

Igros Haraayah 3/19

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

Little children laugh easily - so should we.

Little children are completely themselves - we should be too.

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

Little children live with wonder - we should also.

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

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

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

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


Defining Victory

Rabbi Frand

זיכוי הרבים לעילוי נשמת יהודית נחמה בת ר' מנחם ע"ה
Defining Victory / Diverse Motivations
Victory Is Defined As Achieving One's Stated Objective
After fighting all night with the guardian angel of Eisav, the malach tells Yaakov "Let me go, for dawn has arisen."  Yaakov responds, "I will not send you free unless you bless me."  The malach asks Yaakov his name. Yaakov answers that his name is Yaakov. The malach responds "Your name will no longer be called Yaakov; it will be called Yisrael, for you have struggled with the Divine and with men and have overcome."  [Bereshis 32:27-30]
Yaakov has struggled with Divine refers to his wrestling with the malach.  What does it mean "he has struggled with men and has overcome"?  Rashi says this refers to his struggles with Eisav and Lavan.  Yaakov has emerged victorious from his confrontations with both Eisav and Lavan. 
Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, zt"l, (Lucerne/Zurich, Switzerland) asks an interesting question.  It is understandable to say that Yaakov Avinu was victorious with his uncle Lavan.  Lavan tried to cheat him; he tried to rob him; he gave him trouble.  At the end of the day, at the end of the sojourn in the House of Lavan, Yaakov was in fact victorious.  Yaakov came out intact with his family and with his children and he was very successful financially. 
But how can we term what happened in Parshas Vayishlach (in terms of the encounter with brother Eisav) as a victory?  Yaakov is afraid of Eisav; he is subservient to him; he is servile; he bows down to him continuously; he appeases him.  This isn't victory.  This is appeasement!  How can the Torah describe this as "Sarisa im anashim vatuchal" [you have striven with men and have overcome]?  How is Yaakov victorious if Yaakov had to pay Eisav off and act like a slave to him?
Rav Moshe Soloveitchik offers a very interesting thought:  If we ask this question, we do not understand the meaning of the word "victory".  Victory does not necessarily mean that one vanquishes his enemy.  The definition of victory is achieving what one started out wanting to achieve.  Victory is achieving that goal regardless of how it is achieved.  Yes, Yaakov could have in fact tried to tough it out with Eisav, but it may have cost him his family or part of his family.  Yaakov Avinu was not interested in boasting rights, such as "I showed my brother!  I really gave it to Eisav!"  Yaakov was interested in remaining alive.  He was interested primarily in being a servant of G-d.  He was interested in preserving his family.  At the end of the day he achieved all of those goals.
Rav Moshe Soloveitchik told this idea over to a couple that had come to him for marital counselling.  In marriage, as we all know, there are many times disagreements between husband and wife.  Often the issue about which they argue becomes secondary to the larger issue of "Who is going to win?"  Each side digs in their heels because they want to achieve victory.  Rav Moshe Soloveitchik told the couple that they should each define victory as achieving Shalom Bayis [Domestic tranquility] in their home. 
As we all know, when peace dwells between husband and wife, the Shechinah [Divine Presence] dwells between them.  The desired goal should not be "I want to go to my parents for Yom Tov and you want to go to your parents for Yom Tov" or "I want to do it this way and you want to do it that way".  Victory is when the Shechinah dwells between them.  If the way to achieve "Shechina shreyua beineihem" is in fact to give in, then that is not considered a defeat, it is considered a victory.
This does not only apply in relationships between husbands and wives, but it applies in relationships between other people as well.  When people get into arguments (machlokes), the desire to win is so overwhelming that, at the end of the day, nothing else counts. 
All of us need to realize that when we have an adversary, the real adversary is not the person with whom one argues; the adversary is the yetzer harah [evil inclination] that tells us to prolong the machlokes.
Victory is not achieved by getting one's way and not by vanquishing one's opponent or not by getting him to admit that he is wrong.  The real victory is achieved when machlokes ends and the yetzer harah is defeated.  We must always keep in mind:  The adversary is not my landlord; the adversary is not my boss; and the adversary is not my neighbor.  The adversary is the yetzer harah that continuously tells us "Don't give in.  Don't be a wimp.  You need to stand up for your rights!"
A Parting Of Company Between Comrades In Arms
The Torah records the terrible incident that happened to Dinah, daughter of Leah.  She was violated by Shechem, son of Chamor.  Shimon and Levi, two of Yaakov's sons, were terribly upset about this and wanted to defend the family honor.  They devised a plan to have all the males of the town circumcise themselves and when they were weak, killed all of them.
It would seem that Shimon and Levi were cut from the same cloth, so to speak.  They apparently had similar natures, similar desires, and similar temperaments.  Neither could stand for such injustice towards a family member.  Although Dinah was a sister to all the brothers, it was Shimon and Levi who became comrades in arms in devising and executing the plan for revenge. 
In Parshas Vayechi, when Yaakov blesses his children, he lumps Shimon and Levi together.  In fact, he seems to curse them rather than bless them and tells them "therefore I will divide them in Jacob and I will disperse them in Israel." [Bereshis 49:7]  They were the only two tribes that did not get their own portion of land in Eretz Ysrael.  Shimon had a portion of the inheritance that was granted to the Tribe of Yehudah and the Tribe of Levi was dispersed among the different cities of Israel.  It thus seems that throughout their lifetime, Shimon and Levi were two peas in a pod.  They shared this common temperament of zealousness and that's the way it was throughout their lives. 
And yet we see that there was a demarcation and a parting of company between Shimon and Levi.  During the incident in the desert when Zimri, Prince of the Tribe of Shimon, publicly preformed an act of immorality, Pinchas, grandson of Aharon, of the Tribe of Levi took up the mantle of zealousness and killed him.  In that incident, Chazal tell us, the members of the Tribe of Shimon sided with their prince.  Ironically, a descendant of Levi took up arms here against his old comrade in arms, his old ally from the battle of Shechem.  In this incident, they split and went on divergent paths. 
The Netziv makes an observation on the pasuk "And it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Yaakov's sons (shnei bnei Yaakov), Shimon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword and they came upon the city confidently, and killed every male."  [Bereshis 34:25].  The Netziv asks why the pasuk needs to tell us that Shimon and Levi were "two of Yaakov's sons" (shnei bnei Yaakov)?  We can count!
The Netziv answers that there were two motivating factors.  Shimon and Levi were upset, as the pasuk describes "for he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with a daughter of Yaakov – and such a thing is not done" [Bereshis 34:7].  The Netziv identifies the two factors as follows.  Number one it was a shame for the family (lishkav es bas Yaakov).  Then there was another crime as well:  "Ki nevalah assah b'Yisrael" – the holiness of the Jewish people was violated by this act of immorality.  One factor was Kavod Mishpacha [family pride] and one factor was Kedushas Yisrael [Jewish sanctity].  The Netziv suggests that they both did the same act of revenge but the motivations of Shimon and Levi were different.  Shimon did it because of the affront to the family.  Levi did it because of the violation of the sanctity of the Jewish nation, which must remain intact. 
The difference, says the Netziv, manifested itself generations later with the incident of Zimri and Pinchos.  Shimon was always more interested in family honor and dignity.  He was not motivated by Kedushas Yisrael, Jewish sanctity.  When the prince of the House of Shimon was involved in an immoral act, the tribe members rallied around their prince.  They came to the defense of their family member.  Levi and his descendants did not focus on Kavod Mishpacha – but on the larger issue that was at stake here – Kedushas Yisrael.
Shimon and Levi parted company over Kedushas Yisrael versus Family Pride.  Shimon said "Family comes first.  This is our man.  This is our prince.  We must stand up for him and do what's right for the family."  Levi said "Shimon, sorry.  This is where we need to go our separate ways." 
This is Levi following his own approach throughout all of the Torah (l'sheetoso).  When a Tribe was needed to fight the battle of the Golden Calf, it was this very tribe.  "Who is for G-d, gather around me.  And the entire Tribe of Levi gathered around him (Moshe)" [Shmos 32:26].  Levi had the genetic capacity – when it came to defending the Holiness of Israel (Kedushas Yisrael) – to put aside all other considerations."  This is what Moshe alludes to at the end of the Torah when blessing Levi:  "The one who said of his father and mother, 'I have not seen him'; his brothers he did not recognize and his children he did not know; for they kept Your statement, and Your covenant, they would preserve." [Devorim 33:9]
As long as their agendas coalesced, Shimon and Levi were comrades in arms.  But at the incident of Pinchos and Zimri, there were two divergent agendas – Kavod Mishpacha versus Kedushas Yisrael.  Levi came out on the side of Kedushas Yisrael and zealously defended the Honor of G-d.

Get A Bracha From Your Yetzer Hara

R' Reisman 

In Parshas Beraishis in 4:6, the Torah introduces us to the Yeitzer Hora by way of a discussion that HKB"H has with Kayin. (וַיֹּאמֶר יְרוָר, אֶל-קָיִן) Hashem says to Kayin. (הֲלוֹא אִם-תֵּיטִיב, שְׂאֵת) If you behave everything will go well (וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב, לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ). It depends on what you do now and he tells him (וְאֵלֶיךָ, תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ). The Yeitzer Hora has a (Teshukah) desire to convince you to do bad things. (וְאַתָּה, תִּמְשָׁל-בּוֹ) and you have the ability to be superior, to defeat him. Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch Teitches as follows. He says that when HKB"H created the Yeitzer Hora, the Yeitzer Hora has a job to entice people to sin. However, the Yeitzer Hora itself Kavayochel has the will to fail. As with all of Hashem's creations, the creations want that there be a world in which the Kiyum Ratzon Hashem, in which HKB"H's Kavod and glory is obvious. So that in a sense the Yeitzer Hora is given the job to entice, however, its goal is not to succeed. The success of the Yeitzer Hora is to fail so to speak. So that, Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch Teitches (וְאֵלֶיךָ, תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ, וְאַתָּה, תִּמְשָׁל-בּוֹ) the Teshukah of the Yeitzer Hora is to entice and that you should succeed against him. It is an insight that Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch is not unique, is not alone in offering.
Rav Schwab (in Mayan Bais Hashoeva on page # 268 - 269) brings this in Parshas Acharei Mos 16:8 in the discussion of the Azazeil. There, the Ramban reveals to us what he calls the secret of the S'ir L'azazeil, that Azazeil is Sarei Shel Eisav. It is the Yeitzer Hora, Eisav's power. The Korban to Azazeil is not a Korban on the Mizbaiach but the Azazeil S'ir is destroyed and killed, it is an offering so to speak to the Sar Shel Eisav. How does that work?
Rav Schwab explains based on this Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch. Azazeil is Az Azeil, meaning the strength of the Yeitzer Hora is gone. Yom Kippur, the Yeitzer Hora, the Sar Shel Eisav is happy that his Tafkid was done perfectly. He entices Klal Yisrael and on Yom Hakkipurim those who come to the Bais Hamikdash and successfully do Teshuva, they have in a way accomplished that which the Sar Shel Eisav, the Yeitzer Hora is created. And that is Mirumaz and symbolized by the fact that we say thank you to the Azazeil, thank you to the Sar Shel Eisav having enticed us and as he wants, not succeed. 
Rav Schwab says as we turn back to Parshas Vayishlach, that that is the secret to the epic battle between Yaakov Avinu and the Sar Shel EIsav which is a part of the Chumash which we don't understand. It sounds like there was some scuffle between Yaakov and this angel the Sar Shel Eisav and at the end Yaakov asked the Sar Shel Eisav for his name. To which the Sar Shel Eisav says (לָמָּה זֶּה תִּשְׁאַל לִשְׁמִי; וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ). Why do you ask my name and he gave him a blessing and as Rashi says from there he went to sing praise to HKB"H in heaven.
What took place here is that Yaakov Avinu succeeded in his battle with the Sar Shel Eisav. He succeeded in not being enticed, not being reduced by the Sar Shel Eisav. When he said what is your name, the Sar Shel Eisav replies what is the difference it doesn't matter anymore. My mission is over. Now is the time for me to go and sing the praise to HKB"H. When a person is given a job and completes it he returns to the one who sent him. The Sar Shel Eisav says you have overcome the Sar Shel Eisav and then he goes to HKB"H and says I have done what you wanted me to do. (וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ) At that point he gave him a Beracha. The Sar Shel Eisav really wants for the success of Yaakov. This is Rav Schwab's insight into this battle. 
The truth is that we all experience this. We only need to stop and think for a moment and realize it. The Sar Shel Eisav, the Yeitzer Hora is constantly in a scuffle with us. Situations come up in which we have a choice to serve Hashem or not to serve him. To behave arrogantly to other people or to behave properly.
Let's say for example that a person is in a situation where he feels justified to speak out angrily against his friend, against his wife, or against his parent's. The Sar Shel Eisav is here, he entices him to speak out angrily. Now any thinking person who thinks back and remembers a time that he wanted to speak out with Kas and he restrained himself. It must have happened to you once in your life, will remember that it was a good feeling. That being able to control oneself and not speak angrily. Being successful is a good feeling. What is that good feeling? (וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ). That is when the Yeitzer Hora tries to entice you and you withstand it (וְאַתָּה, תִּמְשָׁל-בּוֹ). What happens then is (וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ). The Yeitzer Hora gives you a blessing. The struggle is over and a person feels good.
A person has a Seder, he needs to go out to the Seder. He is enticed not to. A person who will remember and when he is successful with his battle against the Yeitzer Hora, when he goes and he puts aside all of his weekday thoughts and he concentrates on his learning. Afterwards there is a Geshmak, a feeling of accomplishment. What is that feeling? (וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ) That is the Sar Shel Eisav giving a Beracha. We all need to remember that at the end result of us succeeding is an enticement not to go to a Mishmar. Remember that when you go to a Mishmar and you put in the hour or the hour and a half and you go home you feel that you have done something worthwhile, there is a certain Geshmak. That Geshmak is (וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ). A person has to remember that, remember that there is a Geshmak so to speak at the end of the rainbow and to try to be successful by remembering the battle of Yaakov with the Sar Shel Eisav a battle which takes place over and over. Every Thursday night I would guess that there are 200 people who have the battle and about 100 of them appear at our Mishmar, the other 100 could do so as well. They fail. They could have had that Beracha. That Beracha from the Sar Shel Eisav and they failed. 

Friday, November 27, 2015


From an email....

Shalom sweeeetest friends!!!!

With all of the tzaros in Klal Yisroel we musn't forget how many smachot we have. Every day more and more Jewish children are being born, more and more couples are getting engaged and married, more and more young boys and girls celebrate their birthdays and Bar-Mitzvahs etc. etc. וכאשר יענו אותם כן ירבה וכן יפרוץ!! Here are a few of my beloved friends who recently had smachot! 

A huuuuuuge mazel tov to Rav and Mrs. Moshe Gavriel Bernstein on the birth of their son Yisroel Simcha!!! May he grow up to be a light unto Israel and enjoy the addition of many holy siblings!!! He has such holy parents I am sure that we will all see much nachas from him!

A huuuuge mazel tov to Rav and Mrs. Aharon Hakohen Finkelstein on the birth of their son Nosson Aryeh!! May he become a great talmid chochom like his father and always be bi-simcha!! May his holy parents and family experience only simcha!!! 

A huuuuge mazel tov to R. and Mrs. Zevi Blumenfrucht on ther birth of their daughter Simcha Sara!! May she provide limitless "simcha" to her special parents and grandparents and entire family!!!

This dvar torah should be a zchus for Shoshana bas Devorah Gittel for bracha and hatzlacha in everything together with her husband and children כן ירבו!!

It should also be a zchus for the refuah of Tzvi Dov ben Chaya - a young man who was supposed to get married this Chanukah and was just found to have throat cancer רח"ל. 

Speaking of children.....

In this weeks parsha Esav meets his brother Yaakov after many years and sees all of his wives and children and exclaims מי אלה לך!! How can it be that you have a family?? Yaacov answers that these are the children that Hashem gave your servant

Why is Esav so surprised that Yaacov has a family. He was already an older man and it is only natural that he should get married and produce children. Esav had PLENTLY of women and children so why should Yaacov be any different???!

Chazal teach us that Yaacov and Esav made a deal - Esav gets this world and Yaacov the next world. Esav was shocked! If Yaacov was willing to forgo the blessings of this world how did he have such a nice a family??

Yaacov answered that Esav has it all wrong. These are the children that Hashem gave me! These are pure holy children! They are not this-worldly blessings but other-worldly blessings.

You will look at the pure faces of many children from Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh and notice that there is something so sublime and holy about him or her. Not only Yerushalayim but many a Jewish child that has not been contaminated by the impurity of this world retains that pure, soulful look. They are primarily holy angels who are just enclothed in a human body. The Kruvim in the holy of holies were formed in the shape of a child's face.

Holy of holies. 

We should all merit to have and to appreciate the holiness of a Jewish child and always make sure to help them maintain they pure, pristine state.


[Adapted in part from a talk the Rebbi Shlita gave this week at a tehillim gathering li-rifuas his grandson Chaim ben Chana Reizel]

Biahava rabba and blessings for a Shabbat Shalom,

Thursday, November 26, 2015

People Can Be Soooooo Silly

Emunah Is Everything



How One Text Message Would Have Changed The Course Of World History

"Hey guys, have some patience. I'll be down from the mountain tomorrow.


Thank You

Thank you so much for all of the added maasim tovim and tfillos for Alta Sarah Chaya bas Leah Avigail.

All you did will be a zchus for her neshama in in the holy place it is in now and will also be a zchus for you and your family. 

May we only hear bsuros tovos.  

Smartphones Vs. Mesilas Yesharim

Yoni Lavie
Manager, "Chaverim Makshivim" Website
I received the following note in my mail from some unknown source: "Great news! Until now, in vitro fertilization was available only to couples with fertility problems – now everybody else can also avail themselves of this procedure! Any couple who wants to guarantee that they will have a healthier child can now turn to our clinic! Using a unique and advanced technique, we will perform a selection by which you can choose who to bring into this world and who not to bring. We will weed out fetuses that are genetically inclined to develop cancer, diabetes, and other medical problems. You will know in advance that your baby will not be prone to sickness."
What is your reaction to such an announcement? Surprise? Happiness? Do you immediately reach for the phone and make an appointment in this new clinic? Or do you perhaps react with greater caution? The rapid development of science carries along with it quite a few serious ethical dilemmas and moral problems which must be considered very carefully. We must not be blinded by the wonders of technology, which can lead us to ignore the significance of new developments and their cost to us.
Racing Ahead
The pace of the world's development is beyond our comprehension. Devices that twenty years ago would have seemed to be science fiction are sitting in our pockets today and we take them for granted. What will things look like twenty years from now? It is hard to say, but based on our experience we might feel that nothing is impossible. However, the enthusiasm with which we accept every innovation and the way we get excited about the latest science discoveries leads us to miss out on the critical analysis of its moral, spiritual, and cultural meaning. This may lead to terrible damage. Just imagine a nine-year-old boy who is sitting behind the wheel of a large truck and who presses the gas pedal. This might lead to a lethal result. When a driver with a fourth-grade mentality and skills takes charge of a monster with such great power, he is liable to run over many objects on the road.
In his book "Eder Hayakar," Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook describes the advances in the world in just these terms. Two forces lead the world – the "will" and the "ability." Ability refers to scientific and technological advances. "Will" refers to awareness, understanding, and the realm of morality. The world plods along on two feet, and the one that almost always leads is the one representing ability. Man has landed on the moon and sent spaceships that went beyond the solar system, he has decoded the secrets of the human genome and has achieved amazing results in the realm of cloning. He holds remarkable smartphones in his hand, and he has developed shared applications and social networks which link billions of people together.
However, the world rushed to accomplish all of this without analyzing the moral significance of it all. What impact does this rapid development have on society? What effect does it have on the family unit? What does it do to the spiritual development of children and to their social interactions? How can we utilize these inventions for the good and in an ethical way, without leading to a commercial takeover, and to a cynical exploitation of these great capabilities at the price of important values?
Which one Should Lead?
As people of faith, we have no doubt that the advancement of the world is a good thing. There is something in the world which pushes it to ever higher achievements, there is an angel who constantly demands more and more growth. The mending of the world in the Kingdom of G-d includes not only the spiritual issues but also the material side - eradication of sickness and conquering the forces of nature, improving the quality of life and the development of communications tools and transfer of information from one person to another. However, in the real world the rule is that every bit of light casts a shadow. And the gap between the two feet on which mankind advances createsan abyss which all too many people fall into.
Our task as parents, educators, and people of faith is to minimize this gap as much as possible. We must awaken the awareness of the fact that a tool is not just a technical object for our use but that it also brings with it a message that has an effect on the one who uses it, and that it forms his character. (Marshall Mcluhan said, "The medium is the message.") We must hold a broad and fundamental discussion of the spiritual and ethical significance of technological developments. We should sometimes be willing to pay the price of giving up some new invention when it has too big a moral, spiritual, or social price. It is wrong for parents to buy a smartphone for their children without first having a basic and courageous discussion about the issues involved. It is unthinkable that the Ministry of Science and Technology of our country is completely separate from the Ministry of Education or from humanists and social experts who can analyze the significance and the dilemmas which might stem from new developments, and to analyze these issues.
Perfection will in the end come from combining all the different forces – the spiritual-ethical and the technological-scientific, for the good of mankind as a whole. Meanwhile, if we must choose between upgrading an existing smartphone to the newest model and studying another chapter in "Messilat Yesharim," we should have a feeling that upgrading a person takes precedence over upgrading a machine.

The Power Of A Niggun

Moshe (Mussa) Berlin
On Friday, before Shabbat, Rabbi Yisrael Lau (as a child) and his brother Naftali traveled from their home in Pietrikov to the camp in Chenstohova. From the far end of the cabin where they were sent, they heard a tune of "Mikdash Melech" ("The Temple of the King") from the poem, " Lecha Dodi." The Chazzan Yosef (Yoseleh) Mandelbaum was singing.
The melody somewhat eased the horrible suffering of Yisrael ("Lulik") and Naftali. Naftali guarded over his younger brother, as he had promised his mother to do when they were separated.
The daily schedule in the camp included hard labor that Naftali was required to do, while Yisrael, the younger brother, was left to fend for himself in the cabin. Day by day their hardship increased, but they were "consoled" somewhat by the sweet memory of the tune that they had heard, "Mikdash Melech."
The above is a summary of the story as it appears in Rabbi Lau's book, "Do Not Harm the Child."
My friend and fellow musician Berny Marinbach was searching for materials for a program for Holocaust Memorial Day, and he came across this story. Along the way to come to me for a visit, he met Barbara Mevorach, and she told him that her father attended the synagogue where the chazzan Yoseleh Mandelbaum prayed.
Mandelbaum had survived the Holocaust, and he returned to the Chassidic sect of Bobov, where he grew up, and where he composed many new tunes. This added another element to the story, and we now knew more about Yoseleh Mandelbaum.
However, the third element was still missing. Berny asked me: "What is the melody of Mikdash Melech?" I suggested a tune to him which I had known for some time, and I gave him a recording and the music written by Yoseleh Mandelbaum, the chazzan of Bobov.
And now we had to verify that our tune for Mikdash Melech was the same melody that the two brothers heard in the camp, in Chenstohova. I asked Naftali Lavie if he remembered the tune, and he said he did not. I asked if he would recognize it if I played it, and he said he would. When I sang it, Naftali agreed that this indeed seemed to be the right melody.
When Naftali celebrated his eightieth birthday, we came to his house and played Mikdash Melech. I cannot describe the excited tremor that took hold of all the people who were present.
Rabbi Benny Lau, Naftali's son, told me: "This tune has accompanied our family ever since that wonderful birthday celebration, nine years ago." When Naftali passed away, this melody was played at the burial ceremony.
Rabbi Benny Lau said, "The burial in the earth of Jerusalem accompanied by the tune of Mikdash Melech in the background was a perfect heart-wrenching ending to my father's life story."

Increase Light

A little too harsh with and inaccurate about the mussar movement but I present this article nevertheless...

Rabbi Atiel Gilady
Lecturer in the School for the Soul and Editor of the Writings of Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburg
On the nineteenth of Kislev, the New Year for Chassidut, the following verse is sung: "He redeemed my soul in peace from a battle against me" [Tehillim 55:19]. (This was the reaction of the Elder Rebbe when he was told that he was being released from prison.) The verse emphasizes that redemption of the soul and victory in the battle came through "peace" and not by war. How do we win wars of the soul with peace? What is the "sword of peace" (see Taanit 22a) which can bring victory?
One of the innovations of Chassidut as opposed to Mussar is the way evil in the soul (and therefore in all of reality) is treated. In general, the moral outlook of Mussar involves the revealed evil in the soul, while Chassidut also involves the hidden evil (after two hundred years, this was identified by psychology as unconscious thought). However, the way to cope with exposed evil is approached in different ways. Mussar saw direct confrontation with evil as the ideal, and only after victory was it possible to advance to strengthening the good. "Turn away from evil and [afterwards] do good" [Tehillim 34:15]. Our master, the Baal Shem Tov, read this verse differently – "Turn away from evil" by "doing good," since "a small amount of light can repulse a lot of darkness" (and "darkness cannot be sent away using sticks").
Adverse Effects
A direct struggle against evil can have adverse side effects:
  • "One who fights evil becomes evil himself" – in a war against evil, a person enters into the concepts of evil. Many times, an analysis of a problem and becoming involved in its details can move a person from a healthy way of thinking to a "sick" outlook, when "ugly" ideas occupy him and become part of his internal world.
  • In addition, the struggle itself can lead to internal constriction, since when most of the effort is geared towards solving a specific problem important sections of the soul do not develop properly (as a parallel example – see what happens when the security budget is larger than the budgets for education and culture).
  • Most important, constant involvement in the struggle against evil creates a viewpoint of the world where evil becomes real and is very threatening, while the good can only stand up to it with a constant highly focused effort (leading to a low probability of success).
Deal with the Positive
Enhancing the good in the soul – not by ignoring the reality of evil and the need to be wary of it (including the simple approach to "turning away from evil") but as an art of the best way to fight evil – can lead to much better results than the above approach:
  • When the main concern is to enhance the good, the familiarity with evil concepts becomes minimal and marginal – instead of getting involved with ugly evil concepts the soul is occupied with the good and absorbs a good fragrance.
  • Being involved with light nurtures the good and healthy segments of the soul and removes internal restrictions. Even if a person has a problem, he does not define himself by the problem and imprison himself inside it. He is involved in other matters, and he becomes free and immunized in a way that will help him cope with problems.
  • Most important, by increasing the light one nurtures a world outlook where evil is a temporary phenomenon and the good is eternal and will win. (This does not mean to whitewash or ignore evil. The belief in the power and the innate strength of light and good allows true criticism of evil and greater depth in the unconscious roots. Then, even in the innermost reaches of the soul, the unconscious good gains control over the unconscious evil.)
The "sword of peace" comes to the struggle out of a sense of perfect faith in the eventual victory of good (like Shimon and Levi who attacked Shechem "with faith" [Bereishit 34:25] – "sure of the power of the elderly one"). It can become flexible and attack the faults of the soul from behind, from within the good and powerful realms of the soul, and not in a direct fight when a person may be exposed to injury and evil.
Adding to the light, which expels and transforms the darkness, is the main message of the month of Kislev, when we "add to and steadily increase" the number of Chanukah lamps. "The path of the righteous ones is like the glow of the sun, becoming brighter as noon approaches" [Mishlei 4:18]. The same is true of the nineteenth of Kislev. The Elderly Rebbe received a heavenly message that in spite of all the hindrances and the difficulties, he must redouble his efforts to disseminate the inner light of the Torah in order to mend and improve the world. Today too, with all the internal struggles among the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, what we must do most of all is to enhance the light.