Friday, December 30, 2016


From an email:

תמונה מוטבעת 1

I read the dvar Torah I sent and saw that made an error. Of course it was Shimon who was held captive by Yosef and Yehuda promised to take Binyamin down to Egypt safely and put everything on the line for him. Everything I wrote was true - just messed up about Shimon. [On my blog is the corrected version]

Nobody corrected me. I guess that means that nobody reads the email. So next week I think I will completely make lots of things up just for fun. Stay tuned.

I would also like to wish Alexander Hamilton, who will be sworn in as the president this coming Wednesday, much luck, together with his Vice President Alfred E. Newman.

תמונה מוטבעת 3

May we all avoid jail and Egypt.  

Oh - and mazel tov to my daughter Adina on her engagement [she is 2 years old]. She will be attending Harvard in the fall with her Chosson, Shlomo Zalman Einstein  - a Rosh Yeshiva, posek and astro-physicist.

Good shabbos beloved friends!

Miketz-Chanukah - Hidden Powers [Updated]

Shalooommm sweeeetest friends!!!!

A huuuuuge mazel tov to my beloved friends R' and Mrs. Daniel Simcha Bornstein on the birth of their first born baby girl!! May she grow up in good health happiness and prosperity! Being a "Chanuka baby" may she bring much light to the world!

A huuuuge mazel tooov to my beloved friends R' and Mrs. Jeremy Wernick on the birth of their daughter!! May this "Chanuka baby" be a source of light to the world and enjoy much success and happiness in her entire life!!

A huuuuge mazel tov to my beloved friend R' Michael Eisenberg who published his sefer "עיונים בתלמוד הירושלמי - מסכת ברכות"!!! WOW!! I know a lot of people who have been in kollel for years and never learn Yerushalmi [myself included] and my beloved friend [for 40 years!!] Reb Mike has a whole sefer of chiddushim on a maseches in Talmud Yerushalmi. And this is while he is the father of bli ayin hara 8, a CEO of great repute, an osek bi-tzorchei tzibbur, a baal tfilla, an ish tzdaka vi-chesed etc. etc. May he go from strength to strength together with his eishes chayil and children in good health and prosperity and hopefully soon publish his next sefer להגדיל תורה ולהאדירה! 

This dvar Torah is the last of this calender year [even though it is 5777 the Goyim think it is 2016. Odd] and it is appropriate for me to dedicate it in the honor of those who supported the various Torah projects in which I am involved [such as the Skype Yeshiva, the sefarim I am writing etc. etc.]. I won't mention names because sometimes when I mention names I forget to mention people and they are offended. Other times, I DO mention people and they are offended. They like to keep incognito "shtil a heit" as they say in Greek. But suffice it to say that without their support, I would cease to exist and it would be a victory for the Yevanim and a loss for my parents and children! With much love, thanks and appreciation I dedicate this Torah to their hatzlacha and also daven for them all the time. May Hashem bless them that they continue being a blessing to the world. 

Also, a refuah shleima to HaRav Zave Chaim ben Chaya Aidel בתוך שאר חולי ישראל . He should enjoy complete health and keep spreading his amazing torah to the world for many years to come in simcha and prosperity and have much nachas from all of his children and grandchildren. 

In this weeks parsha we read of Shimon being held captive by the Egyptian ruler [who we know to be Yosef. Shhhh - don't tell the brothers. They don't know yet. They will find out next Shabbos morning at the hashkama minyan]. Yehuda wanted to convince his father to let him go back to Egypt to free him but he had to bring Binyamin along and Yaacov was afraid to send him. So Yehuda says כי עבדך ערב את הנער - Your servant will take responsibility for the lad. He promised Yaakov that if he doesn't bring his brother back then he will lose his portion in both worlds - even if he is אנוס [prevented due to extenuating circumstances] and can't bring  Binyamin back through no fault of his own. 

The question is - What will Yaakov gain if Yehuda doesn't bring Binyamin back despite his best efforts. He will lose Binyamin and Yehuda will lose both worlds. So what did the promise help? Sometimes we try and it's just not our fault. 

The Holy Avnei Nezer [quoted in Shem Mi-shmuel Chaye Sara p. 247] answered with a GREAAATTTT lesson for life. When one is up against a wall, when EVERYTHING is at stake, when its the last minute of the fourth quarter [so to speak], people find hidden kochos, deep dormant strengths and capabilities. When Yehuda promised that he would bring Binyamin back and put EVERYTHING ON THE LINE, Yaakov knew that he could be trusted and there would be no excuses. 

This of course is the story of Chanuka. There was really NO CHANCE that a tiny Army of Yeshiva Buchrim would defeat the Greek Empire but they did it. The proof is that we are here and they are gone. There was also no chance that one vial of oil should kindle for eight days but it did. When you have no choice - the impossible becomes possible. 

That is IMPORTANT, HUUUUGE mussar. We often hear statements such as "I couldn't make it", "I didn't have time", "I forgot" etc. Those are all different ways of saying "It wasn't not important enough for me". If it really mattered - we would be there and make it happen. If I tell someone that he can finish all of Shas in a year, he will probably replay - "no chance, dude" [the "dude" if he is younger and his chevre speaks that way]. But if I sign a contract with him and guarantee him 15 Million American Dollars [in cash...:-)] he will find a way to finish - in under 6 months. One example of many. If we prioritize what really matters we will find capabilities within ourselves that we never knew we had.

With blessings for a blissful Shabbos, a reJEWvenating Rosh Chodesh, and a sweet, lichtige Chanuka,

Bi-ahava rabba,

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Candles And The War

לזכות מו"ר שליט"א לבריאותו השלימה

Says the Rambam in the third perek of hilchos Chanukah:

א] בבית שני, כשמלכי יון גזרו גזרות על ישראל, ובטלו דתם, ולא הניחו אותם לעסוק בתורה ובמצוות; ופשטו ידם בממונם ובבנותיהם, ונכנסו להיכל, ופרצו בו פרצות, וטמאו הטהרות; וצר להם לישראל מאד מפניהם, ולחצום לחץ גדול. עד שריחם עליהם אלהי אבותינו, והושיעם מידם והצילם, וגברו בני חשמונאי הכהנים הגדולים, והרגום, והושיעו ישראל מידם; והעמידו מלך מן הכהנים, וחזרה מלכות לישראל יתר על מאתים שנים, עד החורבן השני.

ב] וכשגברו ישראל על אויביהם ואבדום בכ"ה בחדש כסליו היה ונכנסו להיכל ולא מצאו שמן טהור במקדש אלא פך אחד ולא היה בו להדליק אלא יום אחד בלבד והדליקו ממנו נרות המערכה שמונה ימים עד שכתשו זיתים והוציאו שמן טהור.

ג] ומפני זה התקינו חכמים שבאותו הדור שיהיו שמונת ימים האלו שתחלתן כ"ה בכסליו ימי שמחה והלל ומדליקין בהן הנרות בערב על פתחי הבתים בכל לילה ולילה משמונת הלילות להראות ולגלות הנס

א] In [the era of] the Second Temple, the Greek kingdom issued decrees against the Jewish people, [attempting to] nullify their faith and refusing to allow them to observe the Torah and its commandments. They extended their hands against their property and their daughters; they entered the Sanctuary, wrought havoc within, and made the sacraments impure.

The Jews suffered great difficulties from them, for they oppressed them greatly until the God of our ancestors had mercy upon them, delivered them from their hand, and saved them. The sons of the Hasmoneans, the High Priests, overcame [them], slew them, and saved the Jews from their hand.

They appointed a king from the priests, and sovereignty returned to Israel for more than 200 years, until the destruction of the Second Temple.

ב] When the Jews overcame their enemies and destroyed them, they entered the Sanctuary; this was on the twenty-fifth of Kislev. They could not find any pure oil in the Sanctuary, with the exception of a single cruse. It contained enough oil to burn for merely one day. They lit the arrangement of candles from it for eight days until they could crush olives and produce pure oil.

ג]  Accordingly, the Sages of that generation ordained that these eight days, which begin from the twenty-fifth of Kislev, should be commemorated to be days of happiness and praise [of God]. Candles should be lit in the evening at the entrance to the houses on each and every one of these eight nights to publicize and reveal the miracle.

We see from the Rambam that the primary aspect of Chanukah was the victory over the Greeks in the war and the candles are lit in order to "publicize and reveal the miracle - להראות ולגלות הנס".

This is seen as well in the words of the Rambam [4/12] 

מצות נר חנוכה מצוה חביבה היא עד מאד וצריך אדם להזהר בה כדי להודיע הנס ולהוסיף בשבח האל והודיה לו על הנסים שעשה לנו.

The mitzvah of kindling Chanukah lamps is very dear. A person should be very careful in its observance to publicize the miracle and thus increase our praise of God and our expression of thanks for the miracles which He wrought on our behalf.

We see that Chanukah is primarily to commemorate the victory [as we saw in the earlier Rambam quoted from perek gimmel] and we light the Chanukah candles in order to "publicize the miracle and and thus increase our praise of God and our expression of thanks for the miracles which He wrought on our behalf." [This is also clear  from the fact that we never celebrate miracles unless they brought about some type of salvation for the Jewish people. So it MUST BE that the military victory is the ikker]. That is the "pirsumei nisa" the gemara talks about. 

There are a number of questions:

1] How is lighting the menorah going to "increase our praise of God" about the military victory when the candles relate to a completely different event?

2] How is lighting the menorah "revealing the miracle" of the war? Again - it is a completely different inyan?!

3] Rashi says that the decree of the Rabbis to commemorate Chanukah with הלל והודאה - praise and thanks, mean saying Hallel and Al Hanisim [for hoda'a]. The Rambam doesn't learn that way and instead understands the hoda'a to be the lighting of the candles, as he says [4/12] that we light the candles for "הודיה" [and so understood the Achronim]. How is lighting candles a הודיה?? Also, you give thanks for winning a war. Why would you give thanks for a miracle. Praise of Hashem's greatness - yes, but THANKS?? 

Unrelated [but ultimately related] question:

4] How can we light a shkiya when it still might be the previous day?? So we light on the 24th for the 25th and then two candles on the 25th for what may be the 26th etc. etc.

Where do we ever find that we do a mitzva for one day on what may well be the previous day??

I hope to clarify these issues b'ezras Hashem and his Chachomim!

Mizmor Shir Chanukas Habayis Li-dovid

It's a GREAT start for a perek of tehillim. But then Dovid [seemingly] COMPLETELY FORGET his title sentence and started praising Hashem for all of His salvations. Not a WORD about the Chanukas Beis Hamikdash!

Did you ever think about that?

Do you have an explanation??

Chanukah In The Death Camps

May One Love A Rasha??

לרפואת כ"ק אדמו"ר שליט"א - אוהב ישראל אמיתי, בתוך שאר חולי ישראל

The Rav ztz"l writes beautifully about loving all Jews. I have often asked myself how much we fulfill the most famous dictum of the Torah "ואהבת לרעך כמוך". Do we REALLY love EVERY JEW as much as we love ourselves?? If we did - the VAST MAJORITY of our problems, both material, emotional and spiritual would be solved. 

Materially - there would be no more poor people in Klal Yisrael who lack the basics. There are enough resources to make sure that everyone has what they need and if people cared enough  - כמוך - it would happen. 

This is true on a global scale as well. If the world wanted, we could solve the terrible problems of hunger, much disease and homelessness. But the world doesn't care enough [or often - at all]. As I wrote recently - אכזר [cruel] stems from אך זר - just a stranger. No כמוך! Instead of spending billions and billions of dollars on weapons and military every year - this same money could be used to feed children. And we would have a "side benefit" that people wouldn't be killing each other all the time:-)!

I know of numerous families where some members of the families - despite their best efforts - lack the basics. They have to skimp on food, walk around with toothaches because they can't afford a dentist etc. etc. while members of their own close family routinely go to five star hotels and live a very luxurious life. היתכן??!!! Can this be? It is. No כמוך. Not even close. אך זר. Good "frum" families -  until it comes to their wallets.

Emotionally and spiritually  - what would our world look like if there was a sense of כמוך. If people really loved and cared about each other? How many fewer divorces and broken homes, how many less rebellious kids etc. etc. How great a feeling of community and belonging. If the religious people would get their act together there would be a MASS teshuva movement. We are not all bad and have tons of tzdaka and chesed but there is MUCH left to be desired - especially in the כמוך area.  

Rav Kook writes in a number of places that one must love even the reshaim!!

Here he talks about the need of the great tzadikim [such as himself E.E.] to wear tefillin all day. These tzadikim see the light and goodness in all Jews, regardless of their actions.

ישנם צדיקים כאלה, שהם מרגישים צמאון פנימי להיות מעוטרים בתפילין כל היום, ואין מספיק להם התפילין שבשעת התפלה. והם צדיקים כאלה, שהדבקות האלהית בהתגלות הנפש היא מדתם הקבועה, ולא רק מזמן לזמן, וכל היום הנם בפנימיות רוחם מתפללים. וצדיקים יסודי עולם וחכמים עליונים כאלה, אף על פי שיזדמנו להם סיבות שלא יוציאו כל כך מן הכח אל הפועל את חפץ לבבם בהתגלות הקדושה והדבקות העליונה, ולפעמים גם חשקם בהנחת תפלין כל היום לא יעלה בידם מכמה מניעות, מכל מקום התשוקה הפנימית שבנשמתם לאור התפילין מאירה הרבה בעולם, ואור החסד מתפשט בעולם על ידם, להרבות מחילה וסליחה, וחנינה גדולה. והם הם אוהבי ישראל באמת, שנפשם צמאה לתשועת ד' ולבנין ארץ ישראל, והם נוטים כלפי חסד לכל, ומלמדים זכות על כל הפושעים, אפילו על הכופרים והמכעיסים היותר גדולים, כי הם רואים בתומת נפשם את הניצוץ של הטוב הגנוז בכל נפש, וקל וחומר בנפשות ישראל, וביותר בנפשות הדוגלים באהבת האומה בכלל, והם נוטים אל הטוב והיושר, שזכיותיהם גדולות. והתוכן של הדבקות האלהית הטבעית, שהיא ערכה של קדושת התפילין, היא היא אהבת ישראל, שהן תפילין דמארי עלמא, שכתוב בם שבחייהו דישראל, מי גוי גדול, ומי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד בארץ. ואור התורה מאיר בנפשות הללו בצורה מבהקת, לא לפי מדת ידיעתם כלל, אלא לפי מדת סגולת נפשם הטהורה העליונה.

[קובץ א תנש"א]
Here he says that the more one seeks Hashem, the more he loves Jews - even the kofrim!

כל מה שדרישת ד' מתגברת ביותר בלבו של אדם, אהבת כל הבריות כולם מתרחבת בקרבו, והוא אוהב גם את הרשעים ואת הכופרים, וחפץ בתקנתם, מפני שהוא באמת מתקנם בגדולת אמונתו. אמנם בגלוי אין בכחו של האדם להראות אהבה כ"א למי שמוצאים בו ג"כ דבר טוב, שאז יוכל להדביק את אהבתו בצד הטוב, ולא יזיק אותו כלל הצד הרע והמכוער של אותן האנשים, שהוא אוהב אותם מצד מדתו הטובה של אהבת הבריות, הכוללת בקרבה להיות טוב ומטיב לרעים ולטובים.

[קובץ א מ"ח] 

Here he writes that love has to be spontaneous and natural and not a dry, contrived love in order "to be yotzei". Sometimes one has to go DEEEPPP down into the dark places to love people. In these dark places he finds the strongest and most free Light Of Hashem.
ממקור החסד צריכה אהבת הבריות להתפרץ, לא בתור חק מצוה, כי אז תאבד חלקה היותר ברור מזהרה, כי אם בתור תנועה נפשית פנימית עזה. והיא צריכה לעמוד בנסיונות קשים מאד, לנצח סתירות רבות, המפוזרות כצורי מכשול, במאמרים בודדים, בשטחיותן של כמה הלכות, ובהמון השקפות, הבאות מהצמצום שבחלק הגלוי של התורה, והמוסר הלאומי. אבל ברור הוא, שאך מתרחקת היא האהבה ממקורה האלהי, יקמל פרחה, והמקור האלהי מופיע הוא את אורו על ידי צינורות התורה והמעשה, ועל ידי הצמצום הלאומי המיוחד. ובזה באה עבודת רוח גדולה, איך לקיים את כל הצינורות במעמדם, ועם זה ישאוב מימי החסד בטהרתם והרחבתם המקורית. כמה פעמים מוכרחים לרדת למעמקי מחשכים, כדי לחפור דוקא משם את האורה היותר חפשית, היותר גדולה ועליונה.

[קובץ א' תקס"ד]

There is more he writes about this and I just quoted a few passages as examples. 

The problem is that CHAZAL tell us in numerous places to HATE the evil doers? Did Rav Kook not know that? Of course he did!! Here is one example of such a statement of Chazal:

ושנאת הבריות כיצד, מלמד שלא יכווין אדם לומר אהוב את החכמים ושנא את התלמידים, אהוב את התלמידים ושנא את עמי הארץ, אלא אהוב את כולם, ושנא את האפיקורסין והמסיתים ומדיחין, וכן המסורות. וכן דוד אמר (תהלים קלט) "משנאיך ה' אשנא ובתקוממיך אתקוטט תכלית שנאה שנאתים לאויבים היו לי" הלא הוא אומר(ויקרא יט) "ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני ה" מה טעם "כי אני בראתיו", - ואם עושה מעשה עמך אתה אוהבו, ואם לאו אי אתה אוהבו.

So we even have a pasuk in tehillim that tells us to hate sinners. הלא משנאיך ה' אשנא!! What will Rav Kook answer to explain himself??

I found another passage בס"ד that sheds light on this dialectic. 

שנאת הרשעה, כשהיא עמוקה וגדולה, צריכה לבוא בתחילת ברייתה יחד עם שנאת הרשעים. רק אחר כך היא מתמתקת על ידי כח הדעת ומתבררת, עד שהיא עומדת על נקיונה האצילי, שאין כי אם שנאת הרשעה לבדה, והנושאים שלה, שהם הרשעים בעצמם, מתמלאים עליהם רחמים, ויתמו חטאים ולא חוטאים. אבל אם מתחילת ברייתה תבוא בצורתה האידיאלית, לכוין את מהותה רק על השנאה של הרשעה המופשטת, לעולם לא תצא אל פועל בכוחה אפילו בתור שנאת הרשעה, כי חסרון השנאה אל הרשעים יטשטש את השנאה של הרשעה עצמה, ואז כל אוצר הטוב מונח הוא בסכנה גדולה. וזה היה מקום המכשול של נפילים רבים, שנפלו מפני שהשתמשו בתחילת הוייתה של שנאת הרשעה במידה האצילית, והעדר שנאת הרשעים נתהפכה אחר כך לאהבתם, ומתוך אהבת הרשעים נפלו הם עצמם באהבת הרשעה עצמה. על כן מוכרחת היא המחשבה הראשונה להיות בתכונת הדין ואחר כך מידת הרחמים באה, וממתקת אותה בשיתופה.

[ח' רכ"ח] 

NIFLA!! First one must really hate the evil people. Otherwise there is a danger that he won't hate actual evil, which is itself evil. After hating the evil people, a tzadik advances to a point where he hates the evil in the abstract [as it says in Tanya chapter 32]. It is a progression. But if one STARTS by just hating  the evil and loving the evil doers there is a danger that he will come to love the evil of the evil doers and that is dangerous. 

Rav Moshe Tzuriel [Komemiut Li-artzeinu page 445 and see here as well] offered another resolution to this conundrum based on a different passage:

עבודה גדולה ומאירה היא להסיר את הכעס מן הלב לגמרי, להביט על הכל בעין יפה, בחמלה של חסד, שאין לה גבול, להדמות לעין העליונה, עינא עלאה, עינא דכולא חיורא, גם על מה שעושים הרשעים, גם על הרעים היותר מוחלטים ברשעות, לחמול על היותם נשקעים בבוץ הרשעה, ולמצא את הצד הטוב שבהם, ולמעט את הערך של החובה, ולהרבות את ערך הזכות גם על המסיתים והמדיחים, שעליהם נאמר לא תחמול ולא תכסה . זהו רק בעת שהמשפט נוגע למעשה, אבל בהצד העיוני יש לדון הרבה, למצא את הכונה הטובה, שהיא יכולה להיות גנוזה גם בהסתה והדחה, וכשמוצאים אותה הנקודה מסלקים בזה את כח הארסי שבהסתה עצמה, וכח המהרס שבה הולך ומתמעט, שסופן של רשעים כאלה גם הם להיות מתתקנים. וכשאנו מתבוננים על האגדה האומרת, מבני בניו של סיסרא למדו תורה בירושלם, מבני בניו של המן למדו תורה בבני ברק, אנו חודרים לעומק החסד, שאין לנו להסחף בזרם של שנאה גם על האויב היותר נורא. ומזה אנו דנים דין קל וחומר לאותם שהם גורמים לנו צער בדעותיהם ועניני הריסה שלהם, בשביל מטרות טובות לפי דעתם, וקל וחומר כשהמטרות הטובות הן יוצאות מן הכח אל הפועל ועושות דברים טובים ומתוקנים. אף על פי שעם הטוב יש בו גם כן רע וקלקול, אין הרע מבטל את הטוב. ועל ישרי לב, גבורי כח, העוסקים בעבודת הקודש, באמת ובתמים, לזכך את כל המחשבות, הפועלות בחיים ובמציאותם, מהשמרים שלהן, ולהעמידן על התוכן היותר צח וברור. ואז דוקא ממחשבות המעורבות ברשעה וטומאה יוצא אור גדול, שמחדש כח של חיים, העולה על גבי השמות הרגילים בעולם, ומתאים אל התכנים העצמיים, שהם יותר מבוררים ויותר חזקים במציאות, יותר מאמצים את הרוח, ויותר משפרים את החיים, ומרעננים אותם.

[ג' קנ"ח]

In practice one may not have mercy on the reshaim, as the pasuk says [Dvarim 13] about those who subvert to avoda zara לא תחמול ולא תכסה  - no mercy. 

But in the world of thought, we must know HOW MUST LIGHT EMERGES FROM DARKNESS!! Chazal tell us that the grandchildren of HAMAN were learning Torah in [of all places] BNEI BRAK!! A fellow in Ponivitch is giving chaburos in Kodshim and his zeide is none than Haman Ha-rasha [his nickname is actually "Hymie"]. And the grandchildren of Sisra learned Torah in Yerushalayim. One has to search out for the light deep in the souls of evil doers and extract it. If we are successful, then who knows how much good can emerge. 

As the Rav writes in his letters [cited by Rav Tzuriel]:

"וחלילה לנו שירד ערך הישוב של ארצנו הקדושה, אשר עיני ה' בה, בעינינו; מפני שאיזה צעירים מקלקלים את מעשיהם. שגם כל הקלקלה של הצעירים היא רק מפני מהומת הזמן, שאין מי שיאיר את עיניהם באור תורה ואהבת אמונה וקדושת שם השי"ת. ומובטחני שסוף כל סוף יחזרו הכל למוטב, ומכולם יתקדש קדוש ישראל, באמת ובצדקה (כהבטחת הנביא) 'ובא לציון גואל ולשבי פשע ביעקב'. המה ישובו ויזכו להיות בוני חרבות עם ה' וארצנו הקדושה" 

(אגרות, ח"א דף רנד).

"כי כל זמן מאיר בתכונתו. ועצת ה' אשר יעץ להחל (להתחיל) אור גאולה, מעולפת במטמוני מסתרים (הוספת המעתיק: עצת ה' להביא את גאולתנו מעוטפת ומוסתרת בחיצוניות הפוכה) כמו שאנו רואים בעינינו, ומוקפת בהמון נגעים של עניי הדעת, סובלי חטאים רוחניים (הוספת המעתיק: כמו שהיו בימי שבי ציון בתחילת בנין בית שני, עיין "אגרות הראי"ה", ח"א עמ' שמח). ודאי לא יועילו כל חשבונות העולים בלב אדם שמחשבותיו הבל, נגד עצת ה' אשר דיבר טוב על ישראל, לכונן אור גאולה ודרך חיים לשאר עמו, העתידים להיות כולם שבי פשע. וכל חולשת נפש, פחדנות, רפיון רוח ומוגת לב, כליל יחלוף" עכ"ל ("אגרות", ח"ב עמ' לז).

There is going to be a happy ending!!

A GREAT place to start would be by loving regular Jews. Really loving. Then we can advance and work on our love of reshaim. 

And we conclude with a shtikel Rav Tzadok:

"אל יתמה האדם אם יראה רשעים מתרבים בעולם והולכים ומתגדלים בכל יום. כי ידע שהש"י הוא 'בעל הכרם' (בבא מציעא פג ע"ב) ויודע טיבו של כרם יותר ממנו, ומתקן צרכיו בכל עת ורגע. והנה רז"ל אמרו (סנהדרין צח.) שבן דוד אפשר שיבוא בדור שכולו חייב, דיעמיד (הקב"ה) מלך קשה כהמן שישובו בתשובה. והרי אמרו חז"ל (מדרש שה"ש זוטא, ב', הביאני אל בית היין, זה דורו של משיח, ואח"כ "ודגלו עלי אהבה") איזה דור חביב מכל הדורות? וכו' דורו של משיח ודאי יהיה חביב. ואפשר שיהיו 'כולו חייב' ויתהפכו לדור חביב ע"י שהש"י יביאם לתשובה (הערת המעתיק: ואז זדונותיהם נהפכות לזכיות). ועל כרחך ששרש נשמתם ממקום גבוה מכל הדורות. וכו' וכו' ויתגלה שגם מה שהיה מקודם, היה הכל לצורך" ("צדקת הצדיק", פסקא נ"ב).

ויש עוד להאריך!!!

Malchus Chashmonaim

Read this Torah. What makes it so amazing was that the author ztz"l was blind.

On the same topic - here and here

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Please daven for the refuah of 3 tzadikim:

Ha-Admor Rebbe Yitzchak Menachem ben Gittel Mirel Breindel Leah

Ha-Admor Rebbe Shlomo Ben Esther Shaina Rochel [the Zviller Rebbe Shlita of Union City]

Ha-Rav Binyamin Yehuda ben Rochel [ALS רח"ל]

And for a close relative who has been suffering for many years:

Sara Leah bas Rivka

Betoch She-ar Cholei Yisrael

The Limmud Zchus Of The Centuries!

Today [day five] we read the Nasi of Shimon - שלומיאל בן צורישדי. Chazal say that he was the "infamous" Zimri ben Salu who publicly had relations with a Midianite woman.

Please note one of the most remarkable passages in the history of Chasidus from the Ishbitzer!! 



The U.N.

I thank my sweet friend who sent me this. 

Mixing Drinks

לזכות ידיד נפשי ר' שמואל צבי בן ר' דוד עקיבא לברכה והצלחה בכל מעשי ידיו הוא אשתו וכל אשר לו!!
לזכות ידיד נפשי הרב יונתן שי בן הניה לברכה והצלחה בכל מעשי ידיו הוא אשתו וכל אשר לו!!

The gemara in Bava Kamma [4b] lists the various damagers including המנסך - one who pours wine as a libation for avoda zara which renders it forbidden. Simply this means that anytime one pours someone's wine for avoda zara, he is considered a damager [known in polish as a "Mazik"]. Also, if one mixes up his friend's wine with avoda zara wine he is also a damager. 

MAZIK!! Off with his ... money! [We will keep his head attached to his shoulders]. 

Like they told me when I was a teenager - DON'T MIX DRINKS!

But wait. Rashi precludes the second case I mentioned and says that if he mixes in his friend's wine with avoda zara wine he is NOT a Mazik since he can sell it to a Goy [excluding the value of the יין נסך]. Rashi writes:

"ליכא למימר שניסכו ביין נסך שזרק בו דלא קמחסריה ולא מידי דהא מזבין ליה בר מדמי יין נסך שבו".

What is Rashi talking about??? 

Once the יין נסך is mixed in, the wine is devalued because he can't sell it to anyone at the regular price and has to sell it to a Goy at a reduced rate?? So OF COURSE he is a Mazik???

As they say in the classics: וצריך עיון גדול. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Semicha Examination

Lzchus Rav Meyer Simcha Ben Leah

1] The Magen Avraham [607/4] says that one must stand when saying vidui and leaning so much that one would fall if the object he was leaning on were removed, it is NOT considered standing. 

The question is that one must perform Semicha [leaning] on the korban with all of his strength [Chagiga 16b] and one says vidui on the korban while leaning. So this would seem to contradict the Magen Avraham who says that leaning is not considered standing and one may not lean while saying vidui. It is clear that if the animal were taken away the leaning person would fall, so how is he considered standing?

2] The gemara in Chagiga [ibid] says that in order to make women feel good they brought the korbanos to the Ezras Nashim and the women leaned on the korban.

However the gemara in Zevachim [33a] says that Semicha may only be done on the Azara and not the Ezras Nashim? So how could the Semicha be done in the Ezras Nashim. 

The Theme Of Breishis

Rabbi Dr. Sacks

One of the most fundamental questions about the Torah turns out to be one of the hardest to answer. What, from the call of God to Abraham in Genesis 12 to the death of Joseph in Genesis 50, is the basic religious principle being taught? What does the entire set of stories about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives, together with Jacob’s sons and daughter, actually tell us? Abraham brought monotheism to a world that had forgotten it, but where do we see this in the actual text of the Torah itself?

Here is the problem. The first eleven chapters of Genesis teach us many fundamentals of faith: that God brought the universe into being and declared it good; that God made the human person in His image; that God gave us freedom and thus the ability to do not only good but also bad; that the good is rewarded, the bad punished and that we are morally responsible for our actions. Chapters 8 and 9 also tell us that God made a covenant with Noah and through him with all humanity.

It is equally easy to say what the rest of the Torah, from Exodus to Deuteronomy, teach us: that God rescued the Israelites from slavery, setting them on the road to freedom and the Promised Land; that God made a covenant with the people as a whole on Mount Sinai, with its 613 commands and its purpose, to establish Israel as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. In short, Genesis 1-11 is about creation. Exodus to Deuteronomy is about revelation and redemption. But what are Genesis 12-50 about?

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all recognise God. But so do non-Jews like Malkizedek, Abraham’s contemporary, described as “priest of God most high” (14:18). So even does the Pharaoh of Joseph’s day, who says about him, ‘Can there be another person who has God’s spirit in him as this man does?’ (41:38). God speaks to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but He does likewise to Avimelech king of Gerar (Gen. 20:3-7), and to Laban (31:24). So what is special about the patriarchs?

They seem to teach no new principle of faith. Other than childbirth and rescue from danger, God performs no world-transforming miracles through them. They deliver no prophecies to the people of their generation. Other than an ambiguous hint when the Torah says that Abraham took with him on his journey “the souls they had gathered” (12:5), which may refer to converts they had made, but may equally merely refer to their servants, they attracted no disciples. There is nothing explicit in the text that says they sought to persuade people of the truth of monotheism or that they did battle against idolatry. At most there is a story about how Rachel stole her father’s teraphim (31:19) which may or may not have been idols.

To be sure, a persistent theme of the patriarchal stories is the two promises God made to each of them, [1] that they would have many descendants and [2] they would inherit the land of Canaan. But God also makes promises to Ishmael and Esau, and the Torah seems to go out of its way to tell us that these promises were fulfilled for them before they were fulfilled for the children of the covenant (see Gen. 25:12-18 for the account of Ishmael’s children, and Gen. 36 for those of Esau). About Esau’s children, for example, it says, “These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Israelites” (36:31).

So the question is real and puzzling. What was different about the patriarchs? What new did they bring to the world? What difference did monotheism make in their day?

There is an answer but it is an unexpected one. One theme appears no less than six (possibly even seven) times. Whenever a member of the covenantal family leaves his or her own space and enters the wider world of their contemporaries, they encounter a world of sexual free-for-all.

Three times, Abraham (Gen. 12 and 20) and Isaac (Gen. 26) are forced to leave home because of famine. Twice they go to Gerar. Once Abraham goes to Egypt. On all three occasions the husband fears he will be killed so that the local ruler can take his wife into his harem. All three times they put forward the story that their wife is actually their sister. At worst this is a lie, at best a half-truth. In all three cases the local ruler (Pharaoh, Avimelekh), protests at their behaviour when the truth becomes known. Clearly the fear of death was real or the patriarchs would not have been party to deception.

In the fourth case, Lot in Sodom (Gen. 19), the people cluster round Lot’s house demanding that he bring out his two visitors so that they can be raped. Lot offers them his virgin daughters instead. Only swift action by the visitors – angels – who smite the people with blindness, saves Lot and his family from violence.

In the fifth case (Gen. 34), Shechem, a local prince, rapes and abducts Dina when she “went out to visit some of the local girls.” He holds her hostage, causing Shimon and Levi to practise deception and bloodshed in the course of rescuing her.

Then comes a marginal case (Gen. 38), the story of Judah and Tamar, more complex than the others and not part of the overall pattern. Finally there is the sixth episode, in this week’s parsha, when Potiphar’s wife attempts to seduce Joseph. Failing, she accuses him of rape and has him imprisoned.

In other words, there is a continuing theme in Genesis 12-50, a contrast between the people of the Abrahamic covenant and their neighbours, but it is not about idolatry, but rather about adultery, promiscuity, sexual license, seduction, rape and sexually motivated violence.

The patriarchal narrative is surprisingly close to the view of Freud, that eros is one of the two primal drives governing human behaviour (the other is thanatos, the death instinct), and the view of at least one evolutionary psychologist (David Buss, in his books The Evolution of Desire and The Murderer Next Door) that sex is the main cause of violence amongst humans.

This gives us an entirely new way of thinking about Abrahamic faith. Emunah, the Hebrew word normally translated as faith, does not mean what it is taken to mean in English: a body of dogma, a set of principles, or a cluster of beliefs often held on non-rational grounds. Emunah means faithfulness, loyalty, fidelity, honouring your commitments, doing what you said you would do and acting in such a way as to inspire trust. It has to do with relationships, first and foremost with marriage.

Sex belongs, for the Torah, within the context of marriage, and it is marriage that comes closest to the deep resonances of the biblical idea of covenant. A covenant is a mutual act of commitment in which two persons, honouring their differences, each respecting the dignity of the other, come together in a bond of love to join their destinies and chart a future together. When the prophets want to speak of the covenantal relationship between God and His people, they constantly use the metaphor of marriage.

The God of Abraham is the God of love and trust who does not impose His will by force or violence, but speaks gently to us, inviting an answering response of love and trust. Genesis’ argument against idolatry – all the more impressive for being told obliquely, through a series of stories and vignettes – is that it leads to a world in which the combination of unchecked sexual desire, the absence of a code of moral self-restraint, and the worship of power, leads eventually to violence and abuse.

That domestic violence and abuse still exist today, even among religious Jews, is a disgrace and source of shame. Against this stands the testimony of Genesis that faithfulness to God means and demands faithfulness to our marriage partners. Faith – whether between us and God or between us and our fellow humans – means love, loyalty and the circumcision of desire.

What the stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs tell us is that faith is not proto- or pseudo-science, an explanation of why the natural universe is as it is. It is the language of relationships and the choreography of love. It is about the importance of the moral bond, in particular as it affects our most intimate relations. Sexuality matters to Judaism, not because it is puritanical but because it represents the love that brings new life into the world.

When a society loses faith, eventually it loses the very idea of a sexual ethic, and the result in the long term is violence and the exploitation of the powerless by the powerful. Women suffer. Children suffer. There is a breakdown of trust where it matters most. So it was in the days of the patriarchs. Sadly, so it is today. Judaism, by contrast, is the sanctification of relationship, the love between husband and wife which is as close as we will ever get to understanding God’s love for us.

I Voted Trump:-)

A Successful Diet

1] Turn your head to the left.

2] Turn your head to the right.

3] Every time you are offered food - do 1 and 2. 

Link - Deeeeep Maamar!

The Good Daughter

Rabbi Ron Eisenmann

Late night calls and midnight visits are just one of the many ‘perks’ of being a rabbi.

I actually am pleased when people call or make contact, after all it shows they care about Halacha and trust me to help them.

Nevertheless, no one can be available 24/7 and even rabbis sometimes have to sleep.

So it was on this past Shemini Atzeres that I had already ‘gone up and retired’ for the evening when a knock was heard by my daughter.
Upon hearing the knocking she went downstairs and asked who was there. When she opened the door she saw the face of a man who had a concerned look in his eyes. When he asked her if I was available she replied that I was upstairs however, if need be she could wake me.

The fellow thought for a moment and then replied hesitantly, “No, I guess you shouldn’t wake him.”
Upon noticing his hesitance, my daughter again offered to wake me. Once again the petitioner thought for a moment and said again, “No, it’s alright, you don’t have to wake him.”

I was in dream-land when this conversation occurred and had no idea what had transpired.

The next morning my daughter fills me in on the details of last night’s visitor, including his name.
She made the point of informing me that, “It seemed to be something important; not just a question about an air conditioner…”

That day I looked in Shul for the visitor, however, he was not there.

Simchas Torah came and went and many other questions came my way and before I blinked Yom Tov was over and it was already Shabbos Bereishis.

On Friday evening I suddenly saw the mysterious visitor and I approached him.
“Is everything alright? I heard you came to my home on Yom Tov evening?”
He looked at me somewhat surprised and said, “Yes, Baruch Hashem all worked out. I see that your daughter recognized me and told you about our conversation.”

“Yes”, I answered, she was concerned. “I am sorry I was not available; however, you know you could have told her to wake me.”
“I know that, however, I did not think it was necessary. Thank you for asking.”

The incident was forgotten and life went on. That was until a few days later.
I met ‘the visitor’ in the Shul again and he came over to me and said the following: “Thank you again for your concern and please thank your daughter for being very considerate.”

I thanked him for his appreciation and again mentioned to him that I am sorry he came in vain and that he should know that it would have been fine to have my daughter wake me.

He said he understood and we were about to part ways.

He then turned to me and said to me the most heartfelt words I have heard in a long time.

“Rabbi, you mentioned that you are sorry that I came in vain. You must know that it was not in vain. Your daughter offered a number of times to wake you and I could tell that she was genuinely concerned and that she felt my pain. The fact that someone listened to me and cared was appreciated. You don’t see that too often anymore; a young person who feels the pain of someone she doesn’t even know. The visit was not in vain; for as I left your house, I realized that I did not get the answer I was looking for; however, I received something more valuable. 

I knew I am not alone; that someone truly felt my pain and cared. That recognition was comforting. The visit was not in vain; I came looking for a halachik answer, and left feeling comforted.”

All Part of the Plan

Rav Lipman Podolsky z"l 

Chanukah -- They rested on the twenty-fifth (Ran, Shabbos). Because they rested on the twenty-fifth, we celebrate. Implicit, though, is that before the twenty-fifth they did not rest. On the contrary, for fifty-two years of Syrian-Greek rule, they did not rest; they could not rest. They endured a religious persecution of unprecedented proportions. They hid away in underground caverns for years at a time to maintain a life of Torah and mitzvos. To remain Jewish was a risk to life and limb. This was no joke.

On the twenty-fifth we celebrate the fact that Hashem allowed us to rest. But what about the fact that for fifty-two years Hashem caused us to suffer?

Allow me to illustrate: You're walking down the street, and out of the blue some guy smacks you upside your head, knocking out most of your teeth. As you writhe on the asphalt in agony, he cheers you up, "Don't worry, I happen to be an expert orthodontist. I'll have your teeth back in shape in no time!" When, six months later, your teeth are perfect once again, do you thank him? If not for him, you wouldn't have needed dental surgery in the first place!


Ever see a picturesque panorama? What do you see? Mountains, valleys, topographical eccentricities. What makes the Grand Canyon so grand? Why do so many tourists pay big bucks to get there?

Imagine a vista of perfect flatness as far as the eye could see. Not a bump or bulge anywhere. How many tourists would it attract? Just plain boredom, that's all it is. That and fifty cents might get you a cup of coffee. (Just what did Orlando look like before Disney?)

Hashem incorporated into His universe an inviolable rule. No pain, no gain. Evening precedes morning. Without darkness, there can be no light. To ascend, one must first descend. Celebration results from suffering. It is specifically those Jews who live in western, liberal societies who least appreciate their ability to perform mitzvos. It is not until you have lost what you had that you begin to appreciate it.

This was the purpose of the fifty-two years. If not for all that pain and self-sacrifice for the sake of Torah and mitzvos, we never would have achieved the lofty spiritual degree of the twenty-fifth of Kislev. One who never worked has no need of rest. When we rest, we thank Hashem for the suffering as well. And we recognize that it's all part of the Plan.

Such is life. "Everything the Merciful One does is good (Brachos 60b)."

A Freilichen Chanukah!

In A Moment

Rav Lipman Podolsky z"l In 

Poor Yosef. For twelve years he rotted away in a damp, dismal, Egyptian dungeon (Bamidbar Rabba 15:12). How lonely he must have felt, how forsaken! No due process of law. No defense attorneys to appeal to the Supreme Court. Utterly and absolutely alone, in an endless, no-win situation.

So desperate was Yosef that he begged the Sar HaMashkim (Minister of Beverages) to plead on his behalf to Pharaoh. Because he placed too much faith in human endeavor, Yosef was condemned to an additional two years. As far as he could know, he would remain in that hole in the ground for ever and ever. No one would ever know what had become of him. How sad, how lonely.

How Yosef must have davened. How many tears he must have shed? "Please Hashem, rescue me from this endless suffering! Take me out like only You can!" And yet, his prayers seemed to have gone unanswered. Twelve long years, three times every day, Yosef poured out his heart for Divine mercy. At least thirteen thousand one hundred and forty times, Yosef beseeched his Creator. How many times can a person be "rejected" and continue to try? Where is Hashem? Why is He not listening to me?

And then came that last prayer. Yosef, never questioning Hashem's undying love for him, davened one more time. There was no way he could know that this prayer would be responded to any differently than before. He davened, he placed his faith in Hashem, "that if He wants to, He can surely take me out."

And then the time came. Unbeknownst to Yosef, things were happening in the royal palace. Gears were turning, orders were issued. "Pharaoh sent and summoned Yosef, and they rushed him from the dungeon (Breishis 41:14)." Yosef was free!

Note that Yosef's emancipation was not a gradual process. They rushed him! "Like the way of all Divine salvation, which comes in a moment... (Sforno ibid.)." Prayer has a build-up effect. No one prayer saves; they all do. When the deluge of tears starts to break through the dam of sins, nothing can stop it. All it takes is one tiny crack through the iron curtain -- our prayers inundate the heavens. "For My salvation is soon to come (Yeshaya 56:1)!" We are saved! As Rav Aryeh Levin used to say: "Hashem's salvation comes in the blink of an eye!"

The secret is not to give up. Keep trying, keep crying. "Suddenly, the L-rd Whom you seek will come to His Sanctuary... (Malachi 3:1)." Salvation is at hand, we just have to earn it.

Hashem, please listen to the tears of your children, and bring peace upon us. "He Who makes peace in His heights, may He, in His compassion, make peace upon us, and upon all Yisrael, Amen!"

Monday, December 26, 2016

The 13 Principles - Part 12: Geirim

There is a pli-ah atzuma for which I have no resolution and would be indebted to anyone who helps. I know that it is hard for people to part with their money - otherwise I would have had a Chanuka drive and raised tens of thousands for the many poor families I know - but all I ask for is your wisdom. I have limited intelligence and need all the help I can get... 

The Rambam says that if one doesn't actively believe in all 13 principles of faith he is not a member of Klal Yisrael. Beyond the pale. Out! Rav Chaim Soloveitchik [as we have discussed] says that this applies even if one is shogeg. there are NO EXCUSES! One MUST know all of the principles. 

If so - the halacha should be that in order to convert one must know and accept all 13 principles. But that is NOT the halacha. The Rambam says that we teach a prospective convert about the prohibition of Avoda Zara and Yichud Hashem, a few mitzvos and aveiros and that's about IT! So if by not believing one is out of the "club" - how does one get IN without believing??


My computer crashed. I am using a borrowed computer.

I am telling you this in order to thank Hashem!! If something has to go - let it be a machine and a few dollars and let my body and soul remain intact!! 

Remember a lesson for life: If you ever have car trouble or computer trouble or washing machine trouble or refrigerator trouble [or even money trouble] - it is instead of your body or soul. A GREAT trade. Machines are just machines.  


I made a mistake and had to update this post.

A Wise Man Asks A Wise Question - 10 Consecutive Sleepless Days??

According to one opinion in the gemara [Zevachim 20] a Kohen need only wash his hands and feet [קידוש ידים ורגלים] once and it can last for EVEN TEN DAYS as long as he has no היסח הדעת in the interim. [According to the second opinion of Rebbe, he needs a new קידוש every morning].

My wise skype chavrusa

asked - The gemara says that one cannot go 3 days without sleeping [and if he takes an oath that he won't sleep for that long he gets מלקות] and sleeping requires a new קידוש ידים ורגלים so how can the gemara say that he can go on for even 10 days??

Any ideas??

Cultural Assimilation

חנוכה בחצר הקודש טאלנא  (11)
The Rebbe Shlita distributing chocolate coins to the kinderlach [you may or may not know the guy in the left background]

In parshas Mikeitz we read that the Sar Hamashkim came before Paroh who was befuddled by his dreams and offered relief. When he was in jail, Yosef proved very helpful with dreams.ושם איתנו נער עברי עבד - "And there was there with us a young man, a Hebrew, servant .....; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret."

Rashi explains that his intentions were really to "shtuch" Yosef and besmirch his name. When he said "a young man" he meant that he is foolish. When he said "a Hebrew" he meant that he doesn't even speak Egyptian. When he said "a servant" he meant that there is no way that he will ever become king because servants may not rise to a position of royalty.

A number of questions:

1] If the Sar Hamashkim was trying to impress Paroh with his ability to help him and find a dream solver, why was the deeper meaning of his words that Yosef is really worthless? It was the opposite of his intentions. He was trying to convince Paroh that this person can help him and yet all of his words were a double entendre. The undercurrent was that Yosef doesn't know what he is talking about. Weird....

2] The Sar Hamashkim said that there is no chance that Yosef can become king because he is a slave. What put in his brain that Paroh would want to appoint him king. Did he have ruach hakodesh?? Do birds read Shakespeare??

3] He said that Yosef doesn't speak Egyptian. For goodness sakes - Yosef obviously spoke to the Sar Hamashkim and Sar Ha-ofim when he interpreted their respective dreams. What language did he speak to them in - Yiddish?? Of course he spoke to them in their native Egyptian tongue so what sort of bubbe-myses was he telling Paroh?? Yosef was appointed the head over the house of the Sar Hatabachim - the chief butcher. He was involved in buying and selling food so of course he spoke Egyptian. This was a poor, easy to uncover falsehood. He could not have been that stupid... [Although one should never underestimate the dimensions of human stupidity - עפ"י איינשטיין]

The approach of the Rebbe Shlita:

Many foreigners know English from a dictionary or from a course they took. They can translate all of the words they hear. But you can always tell that they are foreigners because they don't understand the nuances of the language. It is quite entertaining to hear someone speak a language you know as a native and he only knows as a foreigner. A group of kids from camp Sdei Chemed once went into a fast food place in Israel and one of the kids demanded a "kelev cham". Now in English, that is the right way of saying it. "Hot dog". But in Hebrew they don't say that. Somebody was once trying to describe what a good head his son has. He said "Ha-rosh shel haben sheli - ain zman" - My son's head - there is no time. What did he mean?? In Modern Hebrew there is an expression used when something is really awesome: "חבל על הזמן" meaning, literally "it's a waste of time". This person misused the expression and said "ain zman" which in Modern Hebrew implies "there is no time...." To really master a language is to know the slang, the context of word usage etc. etc.

Yosef knew Egyptian - but as a foreigner. He didn't WANT to master the language because a language carries with it an entire cultural milieu. A language is, very subtly, a philosophy, an attitude, a perspective on life [this is a very deep topic expounded upon by masters of the psyche]. If you fully integrate into a society and adopt their form of speech, there is already a degree of cultural assimilation, whether we are aware or not. [This explains the insistence many have until this day to speak Yiddish. Hence born and bred Americans who have never been on foreign soil who speak English as if the just arrived for the first time yesterday. I once asked someone in Williamsburg for directions and he painfully tried to tell me in Engish where to go. "Ahhhh-yaaahh - Eden Peles? Yaaawww. Take a shaaarrrrp rrrriiiight [hard "r"], den go like dis [moving his body] den der, der is ahh bildin' daht is next to vere you is goin'. Eden Peles, yaaawwwww?" "Yaaawww":-)] Yosef wanted to have NONE of that. He learned Egyptian because he had to get by, but he didn't want to culturally assimilate. He didn't want to speak colloquial Egyptian.

The pasuk says in Tehillim in reference to Yosef in Mitzraim שפת לא ידעתי אשמע The language that he knew [אשמע] he didn't want to know properly [שפת לא ידעתי]

That is what the Sar Hamashkim meant when he said that he doesn't speak the language. And since Yosef doesn't speak Egyptian properly and the Paroh dreams in Egyptian, Yosef won't FULLY understand the meaning of the dreams. He added that Yosef can't be a king, telling the king that since a king dreams in the context of a king's frame of reference, there is no way that Yosef will fully comprehend the meaning of the dreams.

What was he trying to accomplish? He knew that Yosef can interpret dreams well, but since there are things he can't fully grasp, Paroh would appoint him [i.e. the Sar Hamishkim] as a top aide. It was all about elevating his own personal status. Yosef was just a puppet in his eyes to be used in order to catapult himself to power. His job was to serve wine so he was the master of knowing people's secrets [when the wine comes in - the secrets come tumbling out] and he felt that he could really be a great asset in Paroh's court.

Rashi writes "ארורים הרשעים שאין טובתן שלימה" Cursed are the evil ones for they can't even properly do a good deed, even when on the surface it seems like they are. He didn't have the ayin tova to just tell Paroh what a great dream interpreter Yosef was. He had to imply that he really "doesn't get it".

The message is, of course, that Yosef didn't want to assimilate.

That of course is the message of Chanukah as well. Rashi in Daniel says in the name of Josephus that anyone called by a Jewish name in the time of the Greeks was killed. [The Rebbe Shlita once received a kvittel - "Steve ben Helen"]

Only in the galus of yavan do we find a concept called "misyavnim" - Jews who were "Greecified" while we don't find that in the galus of Persia [for example] there were מתפרסים - wanna be Persians [See Pachad Yitzchak מאמר ה].

Rav Kook ztz"l in his Mishpat Kohen writes that a seven armed candelabra was a Greek symbol and that is why we celebrate 8 days of chanuka - so that our menorah won't have seven arms [even though the miracle was only seven days because they had enough oil for the first day and the miracle was that it remained burning an extra seven].

The Bnei Yisaschar writes that ראש השנה is the same gematria as מתתיהו [the Kohen Gadol of the Chashmonaim]. This can be explained by the Shem Mi-shmuel [Rosh Hashana page 45] who says [based on the gemara] that on Rosh Hashana we are judged by how much we are separate from the gentiles. That of course is the lesson of Chanuka - to be different and not to assimilate.

Yosef withstood the test. He came before Paroh and said "בלעדי אלהים יענה את שלום פרעה" - It is not me - only Hashem can answer Paroh. He spoke like a Jew. In fact, our Rabbis teach us that he was freed from jail on Rosh Hashana. This is the day when we must prove our Jewishness. It is interesting that in Kabbala sfarim [such as Bat Ayin] it says that on Chanuka our judgement for the previous year is sealed. For on Chanukah, the question of whether we are Jews or Hellenists [or Americanists] is decided and that is how the judgement also started on Rosh Hashana. [See also the Sfas Emes Mikeitz תרמ"ד]

[Based on a shiur by the Tolna Rebbe Shlita on the second night of Chanuka תשע"ד.]


The first day of Chanukah was the 18th yahrtzeit of the helige Tolna Rebbe ztz"l Rebbe Yochanan Twerski. He often repeated the story of the Antinia Rebbe who would ask why we don't make שהחיינו upon dying. The time of death is a magical moment for which we prepare our whole lives and we should be rejoicing in the fact that we finally meet HKB"H. 

After lighting the Chanukah candle on the first night and making שהחיינו the Antinia Rebbe passed away.

Wonder of wonders.

More wonders.

The Rebbe ztz"l was very ill on the first night of Chanuka תשנ"ט and after he made the brachos - including שהחיינו - he refused to talk. His family members came to say goodbye and he made bodily motions but would not utter a word. It was STRANGE. That night he passed away and the family understood that he didn't want to speak after שהחיינו creating a הפסק between שהחיינו and his demise. So he too was זוכה to say שהחיינו before death like the Antinia Rebbe in the story he was fond of repeating. 

There is also a famous question, why chosson and kallah don't make she-hechiyanu on the occasion of their wedding. Those who are getting married the first night of Chanukah have an eitza. They say the bracha on the candle and can also have their holy union in mind.

May all of our lives be filled with occasions for she-hechiyanu!!

The Avoda Zara Of The Days Of The Week

The pasuk says that one is not allowed to say the name of foreign gods: 

וְשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לֹא תַזְכִּירוּ לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל פִּיךָ. [שמות כ"ג י"ג]

If so, how are we allowed to say [in English] the names of the days of the week - all of whom are named after deities??

Rabbi Yehuda Henkin Shlita has a very interesting teshuva about saying names of Avoda Zara [and other related topics, Bnei Bonim 3/35] where he permits on to say names of place and streets named after Avoda Zara because one is not intending to refer to the Avoda Zara but the place. He also says that it is permitted for one to say names of the days of the week because the service of these deities has fallen out of use. 

A quick google check revealed that plenty of people still worship the sun. So that disqualifies "Sunday"......


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Tefilla In Aramaic - Part 2 - Yekum Purkan

The gemara says that we may not ask for our personal needs in Aramaic. So how can we say יקום פורקן on Shabbos? Kaddish in Aramaic is not a question because the gemara says that bi-tzibbur we may ask in Aramaic and Kaddish is only said bi-tzibbur. But what about [the first] יקום פורקן?

So queried the man Rav Ovadiah habitually called the "mofet ha-dor" - wonder of the generation, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank [who had a very recent yahrtzeit]. See also here.

Tefilla in Aramiac Part 1 - Vi-al Hapurkan

I was asked by a special Jew why we say the word הפורקן in Aramaic as opposed to the rest of our tefillos that are in Hebrew. The zchus of this learning of the klal should be for he and his family. 

This question opens up a Pandoras box and makes one wonder about the tefilla we say on Shabbos יקום פורקן מן שמיא and other tefillos said in Aramaic. Hopefully more about that in the future. In the meantime - ועל הפורקן:

It is Hebrew and means to "lighten a burden":

Rav Soloveitchik similarly explained that since geulah only applies to Hashem, Chazal substituted the word פורקן meaning "lighten a burden". 


Calvin and Hobbes

Dire Consequences

Calvin and Hobbes

A Question To Ponder

Calvin and Hobbes

Grammer Court

Non Sequitur

Forbidden Names

I recently posted a teshuva of a Yemenite posek about saying "X-mas" or the name of the X-tian "savior". 

The pasuk says that one is not allowed to say the name of foreign gods: 

וְשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לֹא תַזְכִּירוּ לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל פִּיךָ. [שמות כ"ג י"ג]

I have heard over the years that it is permitted to say Jes-- but not his second name. So growing up I was very makpid and in general only call him Yoshke. But I wonder: His first name is just a non-Jewish form of Yehoshua and his last name means "annointed one". So if one is not allowed to use his name then because the Goyim think he is god then both names should be forbidden. But if his first name is permitted then why is his last name worse? It just means "annointed one". That isn't god or even necessarily the Moshiach. A Rebbe in high school told the boys that it means god but it doesn't. So I don't get why it is forbidden?

Not that you should say it - or even talk about him. I was just wondering - more to come בעז"ה. 

And for those who live in places [and even those who don't] where people celebrate his supposed birthday [even though historians say that it wasn't] - my bracha is that the world should be cleansed of Avoda Zara and you should get off work - for good. Because Moshaich is here!!