Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rav Moshe- If You Don't Enjoy Teaching Then Find Another Job....

4.3 Billion Isn't Everything

Not so happy.

I watched the commencement address of the famous Jewish owner of a football team to a room filled with yeshiva graduates. 

One line that struck me: He related that he likes to buy a coffee at Dunkin Donuts in the morning [he added that he is not a Starbucks guy and everybody cheered - why is that deserving of applause??] and when he pays, he also covers what the people behind him in line bought. He says "It makes them feel good, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, it makes ME feel good." [Emphasis - mine]. 


He related that he was brought up religious. He clearly left that long behind. He didn't even bother to put on a kippah when speaking to a room full of religious students in a religious institution. Why is he presented as a role model?? Because he has 4.3 billion dollars?? I would rather have one daf gemara than his 4.3 billion dollars [I write that despite the fact that I am in deeper financial distress than I have ever been in my life. May Hashem extricate me soon!!].

According to his wiki page he "prays" at Temple Emmanuel. Why does a yeshiva allow someone who sits next to women in shul address a large group of impressionable young people? Is money everything?? Yes, he quoted a bit from "Pirkei Avot" but someone who waxes rhapsodic about fulfilling his childhood dream of owning a football team is far from a role model for our youth. They couldn't find a billionaire who learns every day and sends his kids to yeshiva? 

And why does a "Charedi" kiruv website post this video and encourage everyone to watch it??

As I have written in the past - let's go for the REAL, UNDILUTED, GENUINE, AUTHENTIC, TORAH and leave behind all of this superficial, materialistic, feel-good stuff. 

Ultimately - the real thing feels the best. But of course that it not why we seek it out. We seek it out because we want TRUTH. 

As for the philanthropist - אין הקב"ה מקפח שכר כל בריה  and he will receive his just reward for the tzedaka he gives. But educationally, we have to have our priorities in order.

Anyway - I grew up a Dolphins fan and hated the Patriots. But that's besides the point....:-).  


Seeing Is Believing

The accident happened in the early morning of Tisha B’Av, 1982. As I opened my closet door to get ready to go to synagogue, I noticed an old stepladder and a carpet sweeper stashed there temporarily. We were in the midst of construction, and the plumber was running new pipes through my closet up to the attic. I stepped on the rickety ladder to take a look, and I slipped. The handle of the carpet sweeper went straight into my right eye. I screamed in excruciating pain. My wife, Sharon, came running. We realized the severity of the injury: I might, G-d forbid, have lost the vision in my eye.

We called our friend, Dr. Goldstein, an ophthalmologist in Long Beach, and fortunately we caught him before he left his house. “Meet me in my office at 8 o’clock, and I’ll have a look.”

Sharon drove us over, and after he examined me, Dr. Goldstein said, “Well, I’ve got good news – it seems like your globe, the eyeball, is intact, but it’s up in your head, and you injured the lower part of your eye muscle which controls the movement of your eyeball. I have to get you to an expert right away. A world renowned expert in eye muscles, Dr. Steven Feldon, happens to be at USC here in Los Angeles. We’ll get him to examine you.”

On the spot, Dr. Goldstein called Dr. Feldon at the Doheny Eye Institute. It normally takes months to get an appointment, and we heard him say, “No, no, no, this is an emergency. Dr. Feldon has to examine Dr. Lovitch today!”

Finally they said, “Okay, Okay, send him down.”

Dr. Feldon examined me, and after they took some tests, he said: “You have a major injury, and there’s nothing I can do for you right now. I want you to wear a patch over your eye, and come back in a month. We’ll check you again and see if there’s any improvement. We’ll see then what we have to do.”

Well, you can imagine how upset I was. Here I was, a young surgeon, just beginning my career, and I had only one good eye. It’s impossible to operate with one eye; you need stereoscopic vision in order to operate. I had to close my practice since I couldn’t schedule any surgeries.

We went home, and Rabbi Newman came to our house. He said, “I heard about your injury, and I have already called the Rebbe’s office on your behalf.”

A month later we went back to Dr. Feldon. He examined my eye, and said, “No improvement. I think we’ve given it enough time. I need to operate on your eye and see if there is anything I can fix.”

I called Rabbi Leibel Groner, the Rebbe’s secretary, and I got the Rebbe’s blessing. The operation was scheduled for the following week.

After the operation, Dr. Feldon told us, “I have good news and bad news.”

“Tell us the good news,” we said.

“The good news is that the eye muscle is intact. It was severely injured, but did not become detached from your eyeball. The bad news is that I couldn’t do anything to fix it. It’s not fixable. Come to my office and we’ll get you special glasses called prism glasses which divert the direction of the light and will enable you to see with the one healthy eye.

I was devastated. I had spent years studying to be a surgeon; I was just embarking on my career. What would become of me now?

I called Rabbi Groner, and I told him, “I just don’t understand. We learned in Torah classes that everything that happens is for our good. Tell me, where is the good? I don’t see it!”

Rabbi Groner spoke to me for a long time, trying to comfort me. Then he said, ‘I’m going to speak with the Rebbe, and I’ll get back to you.”

The following Sunday we attended a celebration in the community. When we got home the phone was ringing. Rabbi Groner was on the phone. “Where have you been –I’ve been trying to reach you all afternoon! I spoke to the Rebbe, and the Rebbe has a question for you: Do you make kiddush and havdalah on red wine?”

Interview with Dr. Lovitch in Los Angeles

I answered, “Sometimes, not always. Sometimes on white wine, sometimes on grape juice; whatever we have in the house.”

“Aha,” he said. “The Rebbe told me to instruct you to always make kiddush andhavdalah on red wine.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll do that. Is that it?”

At the time, I didn’t understand that the Rebbe’s entire response to my predicament could be contained in such a short instruction.

By that Shabbos, the whole community had heard what the Rebbe had said. There was a bottle of red wine in shul for me, and I made kiddush for the entire congregation. Parenthetically, that from that day on, whatever the event is, there is always a bottle of red wine waiting for me at the synagogue.

One week went by, and I made kiddush and havdalah on red wine, and then two more. A total of six weeks had gone by since my injury. I woke up that Sunday morning and I felt a clicking in my eyeball, as if it was moving.

“Sharon’, I said to my wife, “something is going on here. This hasn’t happened before. Something is different!” It happened again and again all week, and I felt that there was definitely movement. Kiddush and havdalah that Shabbos, and one more Shabbos after that – and then suddenly the eyeball was back in its place, as if nothing had happened! I could see perfectly, without the prism glasses, just as before.

I called Dr. Feldon, and I said to him, “I have something to tell you. My eye is better. I can see.”

“That’s impossible! Come down here and we’ll examine you.”

Dr. Leonard Lovitch

When I got there, the whole crew at USC that had been involved in my surgery was waiting for me.

After they examined me, Dr. Feldon said, “You’re right, your eye is fine! It’s unheard of – it’s miraculous! Tell me, whom do you know that can make such a miracle happen?”

I told him, “The Lubavitcher Rebbe, in Brooklyn, New York.”

“Well, it’s definitely miraculous,” he said.

I was very impressed that this doctor acknowledged that the spiritual realm can affect an outcome beyond the world’s natural order . I have carried that lesson with me for my entire life, and in my careerwell.

I went back to my practice, and I was able to do what I was trained to do, and more. My career has been very profitable, and it has enabled me to give tzedaka, charity, not only locally, but to causes all over the world.

Dr. Leonard Lovitch is a general surgeon in Whittier, California. He and his wife were interviewed in Los Angeles in September, 2011.

from myencouterblog


The Avodah Of Yom Kippur-  don't miss it.

Thanks to my beloved friend Hillel Wachs for sending. 

Gradations Of Kavod

לע"נ עליזה רחל בת ר' חיים צבי

Rav Hutner in a letter gives some mussar to a talmid. I don't kow the circumstances but I gather from the letter that the person had given more kavod to a tzadik who was a lesser talmid chochom than to someone who wasn't known as such a tzadik but was a greater talmid chochom. He reprimands him [as a sign of GRATITUDE for all of the toil this talmid expended on the Rebbi's behalf. Rebuke as gratitude. DON'T try this at home....:-)] that he was wrong and guilty of disgracing a talmid chochom. There is a greater obligation to honor a talmid chochom than a tzadik who is not outstanding in Torah. 

Here is the letter: 

חביבי יקירי 

שלום וברכה 

לאות תודה על טרחתך עבורנו לפני נסיעתך מכאן, הנני מוצא את עצמי מחוייב לעורר את תשומת לבך להלכה אחת. ראובן ושמעון הם שני תלמידי חכמים. ראובן גדול משמעון במדרגתו בתורה אלא שלעומת זאת ראובן הוא במדרגת הבינוני שבתניא ושמעון הוא במדרגת צדיק גמור שבתניא. הנה אם לוי מכבד את שמעון יותר מראובן הרי הוא בכלל מבזה תלמיד חכם. ודי למבין.

בברכה ובצפיה להרמת קרנם של עמלי תורה 

יצחק הוטנר

It made me think the following: In the Torah world there are two types of teachers. One type are creators, innovators, original thinkers etc. The second type are "ibber zuggers" - people who just repeat what they see in sefarim and hear from others. It is clear that the former must be accorded a much higher level of honor than the latter [although of course all Torah scholars must be accorded a great deal of honor]. 

The average person cannot necessarily distinguish between the two. But those who can distinguish and discern are pained when they see "ibber zuggers" being accorded the same or even much more honor than the original thinkers. 

The Zohar Hakadosh and many other sefarim kedoshim greatly extol the virutes of chiddushei Torah and the importance of constantly expanding, elucidating and illuminating the Torah. 

Let us always know how much honor every person deserves and let us strive to be in the category of those who reached the pinnacle of Torah study. 

Find Hashem On Wall Street

Lirfuas R' Nosson Chaim ben Zelda

By Nosson Chayim Leff

Sfas Emes, Bechukosai, 5632

The parsha begins: "Im be'chuko'sai tei'leichu"(ArtScroll: "If you will follow my decrees.") Translated literally, the parsha's initial phrase is: "If you will walk with my decrees" -- an unusual turn of phrase. As just noted, ArtScroll deals with the problem that this unusual phrasing poses by translating "walk" as "follow". But the phrase cries out for other interpretations.

The Sfas Emes cites the first Medrash Rabba on the parsha, which tells us one way (out of several) with which Chazal reacted to the unusual turn of phrase: "If you will walk ... ". The Medrash handles this problem by referring us to another pasuk in the Torah in which "walking" is involved. That pasuk is: Tehilim, (119, 59). The pasuk there says: "Chishavti dera'chai, ve'ahshiva raglai el eidoseh'cha". (ArtScroll: "Chishaviti -- I thought long and hard -- dera'chai -- my ways, in the sense of which way to go -- and I returned my feet to Your testimonies". So much for the pshat pashut -- the literal meaning -- of this pasuk.

Now comes the Medrash: "Ahmahr David. Ribono shel olam! Bechol yohm vayohm, hah'yisi mechashev ve'omeir: le'makohm peloni ul'bais dira pelonis ahni ho'laych. Ve'hayu rag'lai moh'lichos osi le'batei ke'neisiyos u'lebatei medrashos." That is, Dovid Hamelech said: "Master of the Universe! Every day, I would think things over, and decide to go to such and such place ... But my feet led me to Shuls and to Bahtay Medrash."

Now comes the Sfas Emes, who presents his understanding of the Medrash. The Sfas Emes sees the text of the Medrash as coming in the following context. Dovid Hamelech is telling us what was going on in his life. Every day, he would decide to go to business; but his feet took him instead to Shuls or to Bahtey Medrash.

Next, the Sfas Emes presents his reading of Dovid Hamelech's experience. He sees Dovid saying the following. HaShem's chiyus (life-giving power) is present in every thing and in every place. The chiyus is there in different ways and in different forms; but the inner reality is the same all over. Thus Dovid Hamelech could say: Wherever I go, I encounter HaShem's Presence. For in fact, the world's inner reality is identical everywhere.

As you see, the Sfas Emes is reading the Medrash in a radically innovative way. Most (Almost all? All?) people would understand this Medrash as saying: "I decided I was going to Wall Street. But my feet took me to Lakewood instead". By contrast, the Sfas Emes is reading the Medrash as saying: "I decided to go to Wall Street, and I went to Wall Street. And there I encountered the exact same Presence of HaShem -- albeit in different guise -- that I would experience in Lakewood!"

(Parenthetically, note that the Sfas Emes views his way of understanding the Medrash as so self-evident that he does not think it necessary even to mention the conventional way of reading the Medrash. Also, note that wth this incredible intellectual boldness and subtlety, the Sfas Emes attracted -- and retained -- thousands of Chassidim. The success of the Sfas Emes as Gerrer Rebbe indicates how thirsty people were -- and are -- for the "Hashkofa for adults" that he provides.)

Moving on, the Sfas Emes works with the pasuk quoted earlier from Tehilim (119, 59). "Chishavti derachai" ("I considered my ways ... ") The Sfas Emes uses the perspective gained from this pasuk to comment on Chazal's dictum that danger lurks on the roads. He notes that the pasuk tells us how to avoid such danger. How? By thinking things through (i.e., "Chishavti") beforehand. (Note that the verb "chishavti" is not in binyan kahl -- the simple construction -- but rather, is in binyan pi'eil, -- the intensive construction. In this context, binyan pi'eil implies: thinking things through thoroughly.)

Thus the Sfas Emes is telling us that to travel safely along life's highways requires intellectual activity. By thinking ahead and anticipating the problems he/she is likely to encounter, a person can indeed find HaShem's Presence everywhere and in every thing. The Sfas Emes's advice -- "chishavti" -- is relevant to all of us; for we are all travelers on the highway of life.

The Sfas Emes continues to work with the pasuk in Tehilim. He reads the words "... el eidosecha" as coming from the word "eid" -- "witness". Hence , the Sfas Emes tells us that that we have an obligation to bear testimony that the entire cosmos draws its existence from HaShem.

The Sfas Emes concludes this paragraph of his notes by presenting his perspective on Learning. The Sfas Emes's view here is complex. On the one hand, he feels very strongly that we should subordinate our intelligence and knowledge totally to the service of HaShem; that is, to His will. On the other hand, the Sfas Emes recognizes that to reach that state, one must start with intellectual activity. Thus, the pasuk in Tehilim begins with "Chishavti".

The Sfas Emes attempts to resolve this inconsistency by saying that, at any rate, the goal of our cogitation should be non-intellectual, but rather to subordinate our intelligence to HaShem. But true to his intellect, the Sfas Emes recognizes that reaching that objective requires "da'as ve'cheshbon" (knowledge and analysis); i.e., intellectual activity.

The Sfas Emes leaves us with the picture of a person constantly seeking -- and attaining -- higher intellectual levels in order to achieve ever greater degrees of intellectual subordination to HaShem. In fact, this is how the Sfas Emes understands the famous phrase (quoted in the parsha's first Rashi): "Sheh'tiheyu a'meilim baTorah". That is, we are enjoined to "toil" in learning Torah. As the Sfas Emes reads it, that statement is telling us to view Learning as a religious activity -- a form of serving HaShem -- rather than an intellectual activity.


דבורה רבקה בת מלכה

Suffering greatly emotionally and physically. 

Taste And See

Rav Kook wrote a wonderful sefer of drashos that he gave in his earlier years called מדבר שור. Midbar Shur is a place mentioned in Chumash and an allusion to the Rav's name. "Shur" means to see and Kook in Yiddish means to see. Speaks [Midaber] The One Who Sees [Rav Kook].

Unfortunately, the manuscript was STOLEN from his son Rav Tzvi Yehuda. He didn't want to make a big deal out of it because he assumed that it was a Talmid Chochom. Eventually, it was surreptitiously [which is a GREAT opportunity to use that wonderful Scrabble word] returned. 

For many years it lay dormant until one night close to the end of Rav Tzvi Yehuda's life, when he had a dream and his father appeared to him and told him to publish the manuscript. [Related in the Itturei Kohanim journal].  

Here is the wonderful result. 

It is not written in Rav Kook's famous poetic style but in a more traditional Rabbinic style. But still sui generis

We Need Healing

Can you imagine what this family has gone through after seeing the suffering and then loss of four siblings - HASHEM YERACHEM.

Here and here

Something to think about next time you get up to רפאנו....

Monday, May 30, 2016

Wonder Of Wonders

Oh What A World It Would Be If Every Rosh Yeshiva Supported Other Yeshivos....

Our Holy Soldiers ה' ינקום דמם

Keep Going

Don't watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going. - Sam Levenson

Never Too Old

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. - C. S. Lewis

Improve Your Tomorrows

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows. - Ralph Marston

How You React

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. - Charles R. Swindoll

Why Are People Unemployed?

"Why are people unemployed? Because there is no work. Why is there no work? Because people are not buying products and services. Why are people not buying products and services? Because they have no money. Why do people have no money? Because they are unemployed."

Feeling A Contradiction

Presently listening to a shiur someone is giving from the great USA in Kisvei HaRav Kook [as I go about my business]. 

I am not being critical of people who live in Chutz La-aetz. Everyone has their own reasons and rationale. I am far inferior than many people I know who live in Chutz La-aretz.

But I feel that living in Chu"l and learning Kisvei HaRav is like learning Yoreh Deah Hilchos Basar Vi-cholov at a McDonalds while munching on a cheeseburger.

Against - no criticism of people not living here. But it is only flight away and so many people COULD live or at least visit more - or at least support it better. And then to sit in an air conditioned room in Tumas Eretz Ho-amim and learn the holy Ksavim of the Rav strikes me as odd. 

Then at the end of every wedding at the fancy mafia owned hall the band plays Yerushalayim songs, the kids dance with much enthusiasm - and then go home and continue life on a trajectory of only coming to Eretz Yisrael after one is motionless and his soul is in the עולם שכולו טוב. Strikes me funny.

My own little hergesh.   

What Is "Noh"?

לזכות חנה בת הילה לברכה והצלחה בכל מעשי ידיה!

What is נא?

Meaning - the korban pesach may not be eaten raw [נא]. What is the shiur?

The Minchas Chinuch [מצוה ז] wonders about this. He entertains the thought [assuring that the thought will have a good time...] that even כמאכל בן דרוסאי is נא but leans towards the notion that מאכל בן דרוסאי is no longer נא. 

Rav Gifter ztz"l in his comments to the MC [פתי מנחה] wonders how one could have a הוה אמינא that roasted כמאכל בן דרוסאי would be considered נא. 

But that is in fact the clear implication of the Yerushalmi [סוף פ"א דשבת], Rashi in Chumash and numerous other sources. 

עי' קבא דקשייתא בהוצאת הר' מנדלבוים ח"א עמ' ק"ח ושם נסמן 

The Other Side Of The Coin

On the other hand, they didn't have to support their families afterwards. 

הכל לטובה


If we would publicly record the daily thoughts of the average man - we would have to take him away in handcuffs and lock him up in an insane asylum.

The Holy Piasetzna

Hall Of Fame

Why don't we have a "Hall Of Fame" for great Jews??

Because the "Hall Of Fame" is all about getting kavod.

Kavod is death. Why would we want people to die??

A Thought On Losing One's Job

All of the people trapped in the Twin Towers on 9/11 ALSO lost their jobs.

So it could be worse...

Getting Fired

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

Steve Jobs

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why We Fall In Love

“One rarely falls in love without being as much attracted to what is interestingly wrong with someone as what is objectively healthy.”

How To Achieve Love

Why do Torah marriages work [if done correctly] and non-Torah marriages all too often don't work?

Non-Torah marriages are based on "love". "Love" is beautiful. It is the BEST. It is the sugar and spice of life. We can wax so poetic about love and not scratch the surface. The only problem is that LOVE IS FLEETING. Here today, gone .... at some unknown point in the future [or the next time the guy sees a pretty girl walking down the street or on the screen or the girl gets offended by something he did or didn't do].

According to the Torah, marriage is NOT about love - at least not at the outset. Marriage is a financial agreement. Learn all the masechtos that talk about marriage and nary a word about love. Here is the crux of the issue. The man is OBLIGATED to the woman. The woman is OBLIGATED to the man. It is IRRELEVANT whether they feel love or not. Sexual relations are a religious obligation. One may forgo it as one may forgo keeping Shabbos or eating kosher. Financial support is an obligation. Buying presents is an obligation [at least every yom tov]. Cooking and cleaning are obligations. Lots and lots of obligations. 

AFTER both sides are fully committed to fulfilling their obligations regardless of the circumstances, then we hope a deep love will slowly develop. It takes time, hard work, patience, good will and dedication.

When it happens it is the best - and it lasts.

Does everybody do it right? No. Do most people do it right? No. But you can be the exception and be exceptional. 


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Chezkas Issur And Bi-yado - The Maharik For President

לזכות שושנה בת דבורה גיטל לברכה והצלחה בכל מעשי ידיה!!

The Maharik [in order to answer Tosfos' question on Rashi Gittin 2b that he should not have brought examples of believing one witness from cases where there is a חזקת איסור] says that if there is a חזקת איסור then בידו לתקן comes and knocks it off [מגרע את החזקת איסור] and we can then believe one witness making it the same as if there was no חזקת איסור where we also can believe one witness.

The Shev Shmatsa, Beis Halevi and many others understood that the following Ran was saying the same thing. But was he???

My PUUUUNYYY brain isn't so sure.

Read carefully and decide for yourself:

 "ע"א נאמן באיסורין פרש"י ז"ל שכל אחד הימנתו תורה על הפרשת תרומה ונקורי הבשר וגיד הנשה ושחיטה. ולא הי' לו ז"ל לומר כן אלא דבהני אתחזק איסורא, וכי תימא הא בידו לתקן וכמו שכתב ז"ל בסמוך, אינו נוח לי דלישנא דגמרא משמע 'דכי אמרינן עד אחד נאמן באיסורין היכא דלא איתחזק איסורא' אלא אם כן תאמר איתחזק אסורא ובידו לתקן שוה ללא איתחזק איסורא ואין בידו לתקן, ופשרה היא זו אלא מוספרה לה - לעצמה נפקא לן דעד אחד נאמן באיסורין וכו'".

This gets less press but is far more interesting than anything any of the Presidential candidates are saying...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

הכל בחביבותא תליא

Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. - Franklin P. Jones
Rashbi said - Ha-kol bi-chavivusa talya
It is all about love

To Love And To Be Loved

To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides. - David Viscott

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tzniyus And Whatsapp

From Dixieyid based on a drasha of R' Weinberger

The greatest ideal in our lives is captured in one word found throughout our parshah– holiness. The Ramban (on Vayikrah 19:2) explains that the exhortation to be holy “because I am holy” “means that we merit to attach ourselves to Him when we are holy.” But what does it mean to be holy? As Rashi explains on the passuk, it means to be separate from sexual immorality and sin. At the beginning of the chapter calledShaar HaKedushah, Reishis Chochmah writes that holiness means “making a fence within a fence in order not to go outside.” What does this mean? Can it mean that it is G-d’s will that we always remain indoors?

Rav Yerucham Levovitz, zt”l, gives us a further insight into holiness by explaining, “‘You shall be holy’ means that we are commanded to be inner-focused people. Externality is the nature and essence of impurity.” We see that not going outside has nothing to do with staying indoors. For the majority of our history, most Jews have worked and done many of their activities outside. Holiness, not going outside, means something completely different: we must be deep people with rich inner lives.

The essence of exile and diaspora is not being in our place, in our true home. Why has it been Hashem’s will that we have not merited to live where we belong, in our national home where Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov dwelled 4,000 years ago? Moshe Rebbeinu asked himself this question when he saw his brothers enslaved in a foreign country (Rashi on Shmos 2:14).

According to the Midrash (Shmos Rabah 1:29), after Moshe killed the Egyptian, he looked around and saw that some Jewish people saw what happened. He said to them, “You are compared to sand. Just as [with regard to] sand, a person takes it from one place and places it somewhere where else and it makes no sound [during the transfer], so too this matter will remain hidden among you and it will not be heard.” Moshe assumed and expected that the Jewish people would be true to their nature and not reveal what he had done to the Egyptian.

But when he learned that certain Jews had circulated – “posted” – the secret, he said (Shmos 2:14) “The matter has become known.” The Midrash (Shmos Rabah 1:30) explains that Moshe understood why the Jewish people were in exile, outside their place, being persecuted by a strange nation: “There is lashon harah among them. How can they be worthy of redemption? ... Now I know why they are oppressed.” What is the essence of lashon harah? And why is exile and oppression its natural result?

A few pessukim after the commandment to be holy, Hashem tells us “Do not go tale-bearing among your nation” (Vayikra 19:16). The Rambam (Hilchos Deios 7:2) explains the nature and full impact of the prohibitions against lashon harah and tale-bearing – rechilus: “What is a tale-bearer? This is one who carries ‘merchandise,’ going from one person to another and saying, ‘Poloni said such-and-such.’ ‘I heard such-and-such about Ploni.’ Even though it is true, this destroys the world.”

Lashon harah and rechilus mean habitually revealing others’ secrets, speaking about things and people which are not their concern. Such a quality goes against the true nature of the Jewish people. We are deep people with powerful inner lives. That is why Moshe thought the Jewish people who witnessed his killing of the Egyptian thought they would keep it a secret.

People who have no inner life of their own have “no choice” but go outside of themselves and speak constantly about others. Redemption is when we have our own place. And exile is when we are outside of our true place. When the Jewish people go outside of their true place, their inner spiritual world, this manifests itself in exile – our removal from our physical place.

This focus on talking about externality, other people’s business, or other superficial matters, is the ultimate betrayal of the essence of the Jewish people. Moshe realized that this was why they were in exile. In fact, the Hebrew word for exile, galus – גלות, comes from the word לגלות – meaning “to expose.” When we jabber about others’ lives, exposing their private business, the natural result is exile. But after a couple of people revealed the fact that Moshe killed the Egyptian, the Jewish people learned their lesson and returned to their true nature. And this was the key to their redemption. How do we see this?

Most people are familiar with three things the Jewish people did that caused them to merit redemption (not changing their names, clothing, or language), but fewer know about the fourth one (Bamidbar Rabah 25:22): “They did not reveal their secrets." They returned to their true inner-focused natures. Once again, they began to live lives of “a fence within a fence,” not going outside of themselves to prattle endlessly about others’ lives.

There are two Jewish ideas that most young women returning from seminary would be content never hearing again: “the whole honor of the daughter of the King is inside” (Tehillim 45:14) and tznius – modesty. And while these ideas are often applied to sleeve lengths and hemlines, appropriate clothing is only the edge of the tip of the meaning of these concepts – which are applicable to both men and women.

Rav Yerucham explains tznius this way: “The secret of the idea of tznius is to be hidden, internal.” As we have already seen, this has nothing to do with remaining indoors and not going out into the street, though unfortunately many have misinterpreted the concept this way. The deeper meaning of “the whole honor of the daughter of the King is inside” is that we access holiness when we direct our attention to our inner life and away from things and people outside ourselves that do not truly concern us.

But what are these inner ideas with which we should occupy ourselves? How does one distinguish between superficial and essential concerns?

One deeper focus is the study of Torah. The Gemara (Sotah 49b) says, “What does the passuk (Shir HaShirim 7:2) mean, ‘the curves of your thighs?’ Why are the words of Torah compared to the thigh? To teach you that just as the thigh is hidden, so too the words of Torah are hidden.” What does it mean that the words of Torah are hidden? Isn’t sharing the Torah far and wide a great ideal?

The Gemara means that the words of Torah are called “hidden” because they are not superficial or external. They go to the heart of life. The more one is focuses on superficial things, the less he can focus on putting his full energy into understanding Hashem’s will as expressed through the Torah.

But maintaining a rich inner life has become a rarity. Today, in frum communities, everyone must discuss and have an opinion on whatever everyone else is doing. I heard this past week that at one Shabbos table, one person brought up the tragic decision by a newly married couple to get divorced. No one knew what truly happened, so everyone felt the need to express an opinion about why they were getting divorced. The women assumed that the young groom must have been a monstrous secret abuser. The men assumed that the wife must have been a wicked woman suffering from terrible and insufferable psychological problems.

But why must we discuss other people’s tragedies at all? What does it have to do with us? Do people even begin to think about the pain of the parents of this bride and groom, knowing that the whole world is talking about them? Do people consider how this talk and speculation destroys the lives of the young man and woman involved? Or how it affects the other relatives who are broken-hearted over this tragedy? Do we realize that we are destroying the world? Why must we prattle on, behind the guise of a concern for other Jews’ welfare, about other people’s business?

We live in a world where parents learn that their children are engaged only after the whole world has seen the 40 pictures they posted of themselves sitting inappropriately close to one another on a simchah website or Facebook. And who says it is a mitzvah to post every picture from their private simchah for the whole world to gaze at?

Why are our inner lives so empty that everyone must post every little thing that happens on their favorite WhatsApp group? “My baby had solid food for the first time today!” Following the big news, everyone feels like they would be callous and uncaring if they ignored this important announcement. “Wow!” “What a big baby!” “Congratulations!” “What did she eat?” The endless, pointless chatter goes on and on.

How much value do we really add to the world by talking with our friends or commenting somewhere online about the latest banality uttered by Hillary or Donald? Do we actually believe our political analysis on Twitter or Facebook will turn the tide of the election? The reason we become so obsessed with what is going on outside in the world is because our own inner life is completely barren.

But our nature as Jews is to bring out the depth and inner-focus with which we merited the redemption from Egypt. We can become holy and cling to G-d by turning away from focusing on what other people are saying or doing and turning our attention inward. We can set aside time to improve the quality of our davening or our motivations for doing the things we do. We can dedicate our attention to rectifying our own personal characteristics. In doing so, we begin to turn inward, working to become the people we want to during our one hundred and twenty years on this earth.

Let us consider how we can build fences within fences to separate ourselves from superficiality. Let us turn inward because Hashem is telling us that this is the way to access holiness. In the merit of our efforts to turn our focus and attention where they belong, may Hashem return his entire nation to where they belong, Eretz Yisroel, with the coming of Moshiach and the complete redemption, may it arrive very soon in our days!

Two Parts Of Sleep

לזכות רבי אהרן ישראל בן ר' משה מרדכי ורעייתו היקרה
ולזכות רבי יהודה יעקב בן דינה חאשע ורעייתו היקרה

Every day we thank Hashem who is מעביר שינה מעיני ותנומה מעפעפי - He removes sleep from my eyes and dozing from my eyelids. 

1] Why do we thank Hashem for BOTH removing SLEEP from our eyes and DOZING from our eyelids?

2] What are our eyelids only dozing while our eyes sleep?

When we sleep, two things happen. 

1] We process and work through the events of our days. It is a time to rest from the daily battles and to deal and react to our circumstances. If we wouldn't sleep and process - we would go nuts. 

2] We rest our weary physical bodies from life's daily toils.

The eyes are the window to the soul. It is true that when we sleep, all of our body sleeps but we emphasize our eyes because that denotes the spiritual and emotional part of ourselves that is resting. The spirit is much deeper than the body so it requires an actual deeper sleep [as opposed to the lesser dozing off]. 

The eyelids represent the PHYSICAL, bodily part of us that has dozed off. The eyelids protect the eyes so we mention specifically that part of the body which is closest to the spiritual aspect [because the primary aspect of man is his soul]. Just as the emotional and spiritual part of man has slept - so has the physical. But here we intone the concept of "dozing" - תנומה, because the body requires less of a rest than the more intense soul.  

Thank you Hashem for giving us this dual rest and refreshing us daily!! 

Let's read how the Holy Rav ztz"l puts it: 

בא"י, אמ"ה, המעביר שנה מעיני ותנומה מעפעפי.

ההכרח של השינה בא בתכונה כפולה. העיפות הנפשית, אחרי אשר מלאה חקה בעמלה החיוני, לקבל רשמים מכל הסביבה, לעבדם עבוד רוחני, ולהביאם לאוצרה הרוחני פנימה, זאת היא הגורמת לדרוש בחזקה מנוחה נפשית פנימית, להעתק מן העולם הסובב ומכל רשמיו המרעישים בחקיקתם. זאת היא הפעולה הנפשית של השינה, הבאה בעקרה ביחש להעינים, הכלי המקשר את הנפש אל כל העולם החי והרוגש אשר מסביב לו. זאת היא השינה העמוקה, הבאה מתוך תביעתה של המרגעה הנפשית. אבל עם זה מתחברת היא התביעה של התנומה, הבאת בעקב הלאות של הכח החמרי, הניכרת על האברים החיצונים, שהמקום היותר מסוים וקודם לכל האברים להיות מורגש בהם הכרח דרישה זו הם העפעפים, בתור כלים להאבר הפלאי, ראי הנשמה, העין, שעליהם שוכנת היא התנומה הקלה והחיצונה. שתי אלה יחד הן המפריעות את המשכתן של פעולות החיים הערים והרעננים, בצד הרוחני והחמרי גם יחד. הרוח המתאזר חיל ע"י מנוחת השינה וכלי הבשר המתכוננים להיות כלים מכשירי המפעלים הנכבדים לתעודת החיים, שניהם יחד מוצאים את מטרתם בברכת ד' ע"י המנוחה המבורכה של השינה, שהאדם מתחדש ע"י כבריה חדשה בכחותיו הרוחניים והחמריים. והננו מברכים ע"ז : המעביר שנה מעיני ותנומה מעפעפי.

The Crown Of Glory

לזכות רבי יהודה יעקב בן דינה חאשע
ורבי אהרן ישראל בן משה מרדכי

The gemara [brachos 60] says that when you put on your hat in the morning, you are supposed to make the bracha of עוטר ישראל בתפארה - He crowns the Jews with glory.

What is so glorious about a Borsalino??

There are two levels of intellect. There is the natural, IQ intellect. that is common to all people [except for professional boxers after too many blows to the head and offensive linemen after a long string of difficult Sunday afternoons] and all nations. And there is the prophetic "supra-intellect" that is unique to Klal Yisrael.

The bracha refers to the latter. We thank Hashem for our crown of glory - the capacity to be so close to Hashem that time is no longer a boundary and the future is as clear as the past and present. 

Thank you Hashem for crowning us with this glory of prophetic power that resides in our heads!!! We say this when we embellish our heads by wearing a hat which accentuates the importance of the head.

In the words of the Rav ztz"l:

בא"י, אמ"ה, עוטר ישראל בתפארה.

התפארת העליונה היא תפארת הרוח העליון, שלאור השכל האלהי, הכשרת רוח הקודש של אומה קדושה זו, שהיא כולה שקויה בטללי אורות של קדושת הנבואה, המושרשת בסגולתה, בשכלה הבהיר המלא ברוחה העצמי, המאיר את דרכה, לדעת באפיה הפנימי ידיעה עצמית מקורית את ד' אל אמת, עד כדי נשיאת דגל קודש זה, שהוא תפארת כל ההויה כולה, ברמה לעיני כל אפסי ארץ. זאת היא עטרת התפארת המיוחדה לישראל, נתונה בטבע המקודש של ברכת ד' החופפת על ראשינו, שבשביל כך יש מקום לכסוי הראש בתכונת המוסר הקדוש של ישראל, להורות על אצילות מיוחדת, השרויה בשכל הישראלי בפנימיותו, העודף ביתרונו על השכל הטבעי, אשר לכל אדם באשר הוא אדם, בעל שכל הגיוני לבדו, שאין בו אותו הפאר העליון, המצטין בתפארת ישראל, "עם זו יצרתי לי תהלתי יספרו", שזהו הודנו והדרת כבודנו, שאנו מברכים עליהם : עוטר ישראל בתפארה.

People Of The Cookbook

Rabbi Emanuel Feldman - Mishpacha Magazine

The annual explosion of dairy recipes for Shavuos has come and gone. The recipes are all colorful, original, and tasty, but as they say in Yinglish, “Enough already!” I like cheesecake and blintzes as much as anybody, but Maamad Har Sinai is in danger of being flooded by the onrush of milchig recipes. It may come as a shock, but imbibing dairy meals on Shavuos is not a ticket into Heaven, though increasing one’s Torah studies and mitzvah performance might help a bit.

But here, too: Enough already! Although there is much to say about the Jewish belly trumping the Jewish soul, I had determined to remain silent, because, having by now achieved a questionable notoriety due to our unwelcome grumblings about overdone Purim mishloach manos and overemphasis on Pesach hotel physicality, I had promised myself not to add to this column’s curmudgeonly reputation by a Sisyphean attempt to rein in the creeping dominance of Shavuos food. I even resisted the temptation to lament how the People of the Book had become the People of the Cookbook.

But now a new Shavuos menu has intruded itself into my consciousness, and it simply cannot be ignored. A fascinating multicolored notice bestrides my computer screen. Atop the notice is a rendering of a mountain, obviously Sinai, at whose foot stand a multitude of people — appropriate enough for Shavuos. But wait:
The message of the ad reads: “Shavuos Night Learning, With Delicious Sushi, Chinese Food & Midnight BBQ.” Beneath this announcement are three pictures — sushi and Chinese food and barbecue. Underneath these three delicacies, this declaration: “We will explore the essence of the Ten Commandments in depth.” At the bottom is the contact information for the sponsoring (Orthodox) synagogue. (To protect its good name, let us say it is located somewhere west of Chicago.)

All of which is a prime candidate for a satiric column, a sitting duck just begging to be hit. And yet, in all fairness, the sponsors are trying to attract a certain clientele who would never show up if they were offered only Chumash and Rashi and Ramban and davening at 4:30 a.m., plus occasional black coffee and cookies. So this is an attempt to bring a new type of patron into shul, with the hope that even if they come for less than holy reasons, perhaps somehow the evening’s teachings will have a spiritual impact. 
Maybe, maybe not. But my sense is that the potential clientele will not commit to an all-night Shavuos session without clear answers to the following questions:

1. Can I have sushi and BBQ and Chinese, or must I choose only one of the three?

2. Will the BBQ be available all night, or just at a certain hour?

3. Is attendance at the study sessions mandatory, or could I just eat the sushi and go home?

4. If I don’t attend Maariv that night, can I still come to the food part?

5. How long will the study sessions be? Will you allow enough time for the food?

6. There is no mention of beverages. Could you, like, serve Chinese herbal tea, just to maintain the spirit of the evening?

7. The food sounds great, but sessions about the Ten Commandments are kind of old hat. Why not try a brand-new subject, like the mystical relationship between Chinese food, which comes from an ancient culture, and the Ten Commandments, which also come from an ancient culture. This could dovetail with a session about the connections between the Japanese sushi, the American BBQ, the Chinese food, and, say, anti-Semitism. Could be a big draw.

8. If this is a religious organization, where is the Shavuos cheesecake? I know dairy with meat is a no-no for some people, but with an all-nighter, there is ample time for both, no?

P.S. This sounds like a real fun evening. You guys are really on the ball. Maybe you could use your influence to change some of those other shuls. No offense, but if for all Jewish holidays they would cut down all those prayers and rituals and ceremonies and get right to the good food, their shuls would be packed with people like me. Anyway, please do answer my questions, because I sure would like to be with you and help you celebrate. 

I Was Wrong

Good advice for all year round. Great for shalom bayis - Rav Kluger:

Take The Hasogos Home

Very nice, but the gemara says that the shoes are referring to when they were oleh la-regel, not afterwards

The Chofetz Chaim In Color

Monday, May 23, 2016

Finding True Simcha

Binyamin Yitzchak Yosef Leib ben Feiga - Refua Shleima

We say in our davening התהללו בשם קדשו ישמח לב מבקשי השם. "Glorify in the holy name of Hashem, the heart of those who seek Hashem will be happy."

A number of difficulties with this pasuk:

1] What is the essence of קודש השם  - the holiness of Hashem, and what is the "holy name of Hashem"?

2] Why does the pasuk not say יהללו – glorify, and instead says the reflexive  התהללו  – we should glorify ourselves?  

3] What is the connection between the first part of the sentence and the second part [those who seek Hashem will be happy]?

4] Why are those who seek Hashem happy and not those who FIND Hashem? Wouldn't it be a happier experience to find Him?

Let us explain but put on your snorkelers because we are going deep. To internalize the message of this pasuk is to change your life for the better – forever!

The "holiness of Hashem" is the content of the Divine plan, the ultimate purpose of Hashem's governenship over creation.

The שם קדשו – name of His holiness, is the source of elevated desire which is at the root of His holy will from which flows everything that relates to the essence of the purpose of existence. Holiness is the plan. The "shem kodsho" is the source of the desire for this plan.

Spiritual clarity comes when once is completely immersed in this Divine light [of his "shem kodsho"] until we become filled with holy light and it deeply effects our spiritual essence until we are filled with strength and eternal joy which saturates our souls.

Through this elevated holiness, we come to a recognition that the greatest level of joy possible is achieved when we seek out Hashem.
Not when we "find" Hashem because it is impossible to "find Hashem". You can find your wallet or something else for which you are searching. You look and you find and then you have it in your hand. One can NEVER "have Hashem in his hand". There is ALWAYS so much more. You come to a point of recognition, which leads you even higher and deeper and then you go even higher and deeper, ad infinitum. There is no end to Hashem and thus any recognition we perceive is always a limited one.

Our job is not just to glorify Hashem's name but to glorify ourselves in it. Meaning, to immerse ourselves in the greatness and grandeur of His holy name and purpose for creation.
Hashem is always close to us as the pasuk says explicitly כי מי גוי גדול אשר אלקים קרובים אליו כה' אלקנו בכל קראנו אליו. Our task is to bring ourselves closer to him by constantly seeking out His name, goal and purpose for creation.

If our life's task is to "glorify in His holy name" in a relentless search to uncover the root of His desires, then we will doubtlessly discover that there is no happiness and joy on earth that compares. ישמח לב מבקשי השם   will not be just a pasuk but an existential reality.  

In the words of the Rav ztz"l:

התהללו בשם קדשו ישמח לב מבקשי ד' - קדש ד' הוא התכן של המחשבה העליונה מגמת כל המגמות, שבכללותה של ההנהגה האלהית בכל ההויה כולה. השם של הקדש הוא המקור החפצי המעולה ביסוד קדושת בחינת הרצון הנקדש שממנו נובע כל מה שיש לו יחש למהותה של מגמת ההויה. הבהירות הנשמתית באה מתוך שקיעת החפץ והרעיון המעולה בזהר עליון זה עד שאנחנו נעשים ע"י זה מלאי אור קדש ואור הקדש הזה פועל הוא בקדושתו על מהותנו העצמית להיות מלאה עז וחדות עולמים בדעת ד' הפנימית ששופעת תמיד בזרמי קדשה בתוכיות מקור נשמותינו. וע"י קדושה עליונה זו, אנו באים לידי ההכרה שהחפץ הפנימי של בקשת ד' הוא העולה על כל החיים ועל כל האושר ושהבקשה בעצמה היא התכונה המבוקשת לא המציאה שהיא תמיד בלתי אפשרית כי הננו צועדים מגודל אל גודל ומבקשה לבקשה מבהירות לבהירות ומודאות לודאות יותר עליונה.

ע"כ רק כאשר נתהלל אנו בפנימיותנו בשם של כל הקדש האלהי המתעלה בתור המבוקש האחרון של כל היצור אז נגיע למדה עליונה זו שנדע כי לא מציאת ד' יהיה החפוש שלנו שהרי הוא מצוי לנו בכל עת ומי גוי גדול אשר לו אלהים קרבים אליו כה' אלהינו בכל קראנו אליו, אבל עם כל המצאו לנו הננו תמיד עסוקים בבקשה לבקש את ד' ולהתעלות בעלוי אחר עלוי בחוזק הגלותו לנו ומבלי קץ ותכלית למבוקש הננו מלאי עז ושמחת עולמים.

התהללו בשם קדשו ישמח לב מבקשי ד'

The Psychology And Theology Of Giving

A relatively young man [younger than I], a Chabad shaliach in London, recently passed away tragically and suddenly leaving a wife and 8 orphans. Within days - over 200,000 dollars have been raised. מי כעמך ישראל!!

I know that if something would happen to me חס ושלום it would be a great boon to fundraising but I would rather stay alive and healthy. It seems from my research that it is hard to convince people to take part in the zchus of a mitzva unless there is some heart rending, tear jerking, soul shaking story. 

My personal approach is that some people just don't have even though they try hard and even though they don't die young or suffer from terrible illnesses. 

 I often think of the three boys who were kidnapped and killed a number of years ago. Imagine if there was a ransom put out to save them - 50 million bucks. It seems clear that the Jewish people would have come up with the money in a short number of hours [or even minutes]. A life is worth more than 50 million dollars. Yet, if one of these boys was not kidnapped, just his family couldn't afford rent or dental bills, it would have been difficult to raise 500 dollars. But rent and dental bills is also necessary in order to live?? Not the same as actually dying but certainly not a luxury. My point is that in Klal Yisrael there is enough to go around that everybody should be taken care of while the reality is that so many families suffer dire poverty.    

So sweet friends - this is not about me or my causes. חס ושלום. It is a general call for introspection. Chazal say "חייך קודמין" - you life comes before that of your friend. Life - yes, luxuries - no. This Pesach tens of millions of dollars were spent on luxuries while others lacked the basics. Try to extricate yourself from the attitude that so many have that they only give if the story is a tear jerker and they are overwhelmed with feelings of guilt if they don't give. People shouldn't give out of guilt but out of a sense of joy that Hashem has blessed them and they want to share that blessing with others - bi-ahava. That is the way Hashem wants it. The pasuk [and Rambam] emphasize that one must give with an open heart and feel good about it. It is not just about giving but HOW one gives. The money itself is not a problem for Hashem, he can come up with it without our help. What matters is that HEART and GOOD WILL. 

Bi-ahava and brachos you [ואני בתוככם] should always have so much to give and never need to take,
Me 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Mechaye!!!

I thank the people behind this who are mezake the rabbim [and me a million times].

A Call To My Beloved Friends

My hope was - and is - to be able to help many kallos who come from poor families that cannot afford to marry them off. Happily, people are getting married no matter what. Less happily, their parents have to go into debt that is a bottomless pit from which they cannot extricate themselves. So please help the present kallah I am collecting for and many more to come.  

I promise you, you won't lose. 

If you have one hundred dollars and give 10 dollars to tzedaka, how much are you left with? 

10 dollars.

Rebbetzin Machlis ע"ה

Here is the link for those who want the zchus.  [Note: Much of the sum listed there was from the previous mitzva of publishing the sefer "נגילה ונשמחה" so very little has been raised for the kallah. Marrying off a child with 2 thousand dollars worked back in the early 1900's....:-). Save a Jew from a lifetime of paying debts that he has no way of covering himself. Help start a new Jewish family:-)].

Rav Chaim Kreiswurth [the great gaon and Rov of Antwerp] was once sick and went to the Steipler for a bracha. The Steipler asked him why the mishna says that we are rewarded in this world and the next for bikkur cholim, hachnosos kalla and halvayas mames - visting the ill, helping a couple get married and attending a funeral. It would have been more appropriate to place the mitzva of attending a funeral immediately after the mitzva of visiting the ill. Why does the mishna "interrupt" with the mitzva of helping a couple get married?

Answered the Steipler: If a person want to push away death then the best way is to involve himself in the mitzva of helping couples get married....

Rav Kreiswurth took his holy words to heart and spent the next many years of his life giving financial aid to young married couples in need.

I thank my beloved friends who have given in the past. May Hashem help you in all of your endeavors.