Monday, October 31, 2016

Keeping One's Thoughts Shabbos-dig


Expanding Horizons

Dovid Hamelech said [and we say in our Hallel]: מן המיצר קראתי י-ה - From the narrow places I call out to Hashem. I look around and see so many people who just don't "get it". They are not serving in Hashem in the right way and it pains me. How can this be? Why don't they see the light??? 

ענני במרחב י-ה - Hashem answered me from the expansive, broad perspective. I elevated my perspective and saw that from up above, from the celestial, Divine viewpoint, there is much merit to other paths in Avodas Hashem that aren't necessarily identical to mine. I am not Breslov but there is much room for Breslovers. I am not Chabad but the world needs Chabad. I am not an army-serving-flag-waving-Hallel-On Yom-Haatzmaut-saying-religious-Zionist but such people have an important place in the great mosaic of our people's devotion to Torah values. Not my narrow way but part of the more broad Divine scheme. 

ענני במרחב י-ה - When you get "up there", you see that there are a multitudinous amount of ways to serve Hashem. He is [כביכול] more broad and all encompassing than we can ever imagine. 

ויש להאריך ואין כאן המקום. 

[עפ"י אורות התחיה אות י"ח]

A gut chodesh!!:-) 

Birthday Reflections

After 45 years on the planet what have I learned?

Baruch Hashem, LOTTTSSSS of things. Had I known 25 and 30 years ago what I know today, I would have saved myself some terrible mistakes. I have learned a tremendous amount about human nature in general and about particular individuals. People are complex. The same person has many often contradictory streams running through his personality. I have been coming to terms with the fact that the type of ideal person described by sifrei mussar rarely if ever exists. There are far too many good and bad middos for a person to excel at all of them. Some people are great a learning but weaker in chesed. Some are great at some types of chesed but shy away from others. Some are great to their community but not so sweet at home to their family. Most people feel a certain emptiness that they feel they must fill with constant involvement in their iphones. [I once to complained to a mechanech in a prominent position about the excessive use of iphones among students. I then saw that he is also addicted. Even during a shiur it is on and he is forever stopping to answer yet another email or the like]. Some people are really careful about what goes INTO their mouths but not what comes out. What they call in Modern Hebrew הכלה - the ability to really be there for another person is all too rare [that is why people are willing to pay 250 dollars an hour for a listening sympathetic ear. The secret is that they don't know what is going on in the mind of the person they are paying. If they cared that much then they would also do it for free if they could. Would they? I am not always so sure....].

All in all, people aren't bad or good. They are generally both. It is just a matter of percentages. Our job is to constantly increase the good in ourselves and others as much as possible. It is important to know this so that we are not disappointed when people aren't there for us. They often just have too many of there own things with which they are dealing. The notion that we are in this world primarily to make it a better place for all is not necessarily the primary focus of most people. Getting up in the morning and saying [after Modeh Ani] that today I am going to spread light and simcha in the world and specifically with anyone I interact with is not also the mindset of every Jew - although it should be. 

I think a central lesson of my life is that even if one keeps every detail of the Shulchan Aruch, if he [or she] is not self aware then they are really missing the point and are far away from closeness with Hashem. Self awareness means not only that I learn Torah but question my motives in learning. Is it about me and my accomplishments and rewards or about clinging to Divine Wisdom for no ulterior motives? Am I the spouse I am supposed to be? Is the relationship a business partnership where each side fulfills their part of the deal but doesn't truly love and care about the other or is one really dedicated to the well being of the other? What type of parent am I? What mistakes have I been making? How can I improve? What am I doing right? How do I spend my money? How do I spend my time? Am I too lax with my time? Time, after all, is a valuable commodity. Once it goes, it never comes back. THOUSANDS of questions we should be asking ourselves in order to scrutinize our spiritual and emotional level. 

The unexamined life, we are taught, is not worth living. 

After 4 and a half decades on earth [for which I thank Hashem TREMENDOUSLY], I share with the world the following suggestion: Let us examine our lives and make them more worthwhile!!

Bi-ahava rabba,
Me 珞      

Link

Check this out. 

[Note: There is a tzanua Rebbetzin in the video. If you don't look when she appears then you are kadosh...]. 

I don't work for this place and am not soliciting funds for them but I know a lot of the families of kids who are there. Great Charedi families whose kids fell down deeeeeeppppp. 


HALEVAIIIIIIIII that I should have the money to support the place on my own. There are thousands of such kids all over the place who need to be saved. May Hashem help them.....

Rare Political Commentary By Mevakesh

I will not publicly support either candiate. As one friend told me - "Why alienate half of your readers?!"

I know little about politics except for the fact that is is almost completely sheker, so why spend time on sheker?! I'd rather learn Torah....

But this I will say. We have two candidates for the most important and influential position on earth and both are EXTREMELY flawed human beings [although Donald's ties truly enhance my Shabbos wardrobe...]. I think that everybody would agree with that. It is just a matter of choosing the lesser of the two evils. 

The fact that they both made it this far is a sad commentary on the state of the nation.    

WE WANT MOSHIACH NOW!!!

For Real Or A Show?

I entitled a recent post "Act Now".

My long time theory is that most of us are "acting" most of the time. This is a larger discussion and will leave it for another time, maybe.....

Perspective

Today I went to visit my future home. 

Har Menuchos.

No kitchen, no bathroom, no living room. No closets or cabinets. Just a tiny-tiny "bedroom" for one. 

Really gives a person perspective. I am a week away from another birthday and closer than ever....

AD MEAH VI-ESRIM FOR YOU AND ME!!!!

In the meantime let us CHAP-A-REIN and take advantage of the priceless gift we have called "life". 

BI-SSIIIIIIMCHAAAA!!!!!!!!!

Image result for pictures happy faces

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Act Now!

Last chance to join Yeshiva Gedola D'skype for the winter zman. Almost all spots taken. 

BS"D!

Mistakes Parents Make

R' Yoni Lavie 

Before a person can drive a car the law requires many things of him or her. It is necessary to take dozens of driving lessons, to take a test in theory, to pass an internal test with his teacher, then to pass a formal licensing test (and another... and another...). Only after a long and expensive training course does the candidate achieve the goal and receive a license. Similar actions take place with respect to almost every important realm in life. However, there is one exception to this hard and fast rule: "Educating the children." In order to bring a child into the world and raise him or her in your home for twenty years or so, there are no minimum requirements of any kind. There is no written approval or academic degree, no need for a matriculation exam, and not even a basic "parenting" course. There is a basic assumption that you will know what to do. You will react precisely as needed and in an educational way to every situation, you will know how to give advice and guide the child and the maturing adult through all the ups and downs of life, and you will cope successfully with all difficulties and challenges, along with all the other "surprises" that your child throws at you.

The only problem is that in practice this often doesn't work very well. It is true that some things are instinctive even if we have not learned them formally, but unfortunately educating children is not one of them. The process is based on a deep and complex set of rules, which in our generation have become more complicated than ever before. When somebody tries to react spontaneously and depends on things "coming out okay," there may be grave mistakes, which can exact a high price from us and from our children. The following are five common mistakes that should be avoided:

* "The whole game of soccer is total foolishness. All the players are nothing more than ne'er-do-wells whose only brains are in their shoes..." Even if we think that what interests our child is unimportant to say the least, it is wrong and unsuitable to disparage it with a wave of our hand. If some subject is important to our child, it is wrong for us to put it to shame and to show him or her that we want to clomp all over it. In addition, some parents who encounter a difficulty or problem that the child faces tend to disparage it and treat it as unimportant. They seem to think that by doing this they will help the child overcome the problem. This is a bad mistake. We can help our child much more by inclusion – by incorporating his or her feelings within ourselves and discussing them together, we can really link up to his or her position, and their needs and fears. We should never hide within our own private space, from which we chop away what they feel is important as if with a cleaver.

* "I have told him a thousand times to stop playing on the computer and to go and take a shower, but he continues to bang away at the keyboard as if I was talking to the wall." It is really surprising that understanding and intelligent parents repeat over and over some actions which they can plainly see doesn't accomplish anything... "Madam, why did it reach a thousand times and you didn't stop after five hundred or even after the first hundred?? Don't you see that this method has no effect on him at all?"

The operative principle is very simple: Never tell a child something more than twice. The first time we will give him or her the benefit of the doubt, and we may assume that he was caught up in the game, and we will repeat our demand one more time. But once the message has been delivered, there is no reason to keep repeating the demand like a broken record. (And it really doesn't pay to raise your voice and start to yell.) What can we do? After speaking to the child twice, it is time for us to "recalculate our route" and to change our tactics. For example, we might move to direct action, by turning the computer off and taking it with us on the way to the shower. The next day we might allow him to go to the computer only after he has taken a shower. Just say, "I see that you have trouble stopping in the middle of a game, so from now on you take your shower first." And so on...

* What nonsense they teach in school today... This teacher really doesn't know how to teach..." The members of the educational staff of the school are our stand-ins. They do their work in a dedicated and faithful fashion, with only moderate pay and while coping every day with complex situations. It is true that there is no guarantee that they do not make mistakes, but it is a serious mistake on our part to disparage the staff and show a lack of respect for them in front of our children. How can we expect our son or daughter to listen attentively to what they are being taught in school after their father has loudly declared, "The teacher is an idiot!" and "The rabbi is crazy"? We pay a high fee for sending our children to school. It is a shame to waste all that investment by our own actions. A basic feeling of respect between parents and the educational staff is a strong requirement for the success of our children.

* "I want to see you back here by 11 o'clock, do you hear me?? / Excuse me, but you are not leaving this house in that skirt!" Quite a few discussions take place with terrible timing. The classic place for this is at the front door, a moment before the boy or girl tries to sneak out without being caught. And this is our cue to begin a nervous discussion in a stressful atmosphere – where the chances that something positive can come out of this is similar to the possibility of signing a Middle East peace treaty next month. Even if you are a thousand percent correct, it is vital to carefully choose the right time to speak to the children, as well as the proper framework for the talk. If we do this with enough advance warning and not at the very last second and if in addition we manage to create a positive atmosphere of listening and remaining close to each other, there is a chance that we can achieve our objective.

Another important principle is the balance between negative and positive issues. If most of the conversations with a child are about criticism of his bad points, he will learn to close the door tight and stop listening. It is very important to make sure that the main contact between the two of you should involve good things, related to happy events and the family. Do this and it is possible now and then to slip in some criticism, and there is even a chance that it will have a positive effect.

* "And now for the job of head of the opposition..." Quite often parents are frustrated when they explain some educational principle to their son in a very clear and detailed way, while he remains obstinate and rejects point after point in a way that seems to them to be weak and unimpressive. We should not get excited or become upset! Sometimes this is just part of the game. Some young people enjoy playing the role of the "opposition leader." Say "black" and they will say "white," say "hot" and they will insist on "cold." This does not mean that they don't listen, and that at least some of your arguments didn't sink in. Perhaps you will even hear them quoting you word for word in a conversation with their friends. Do not despair of the labor of education, even if at first glance it appears that you are talking to the wall...

Is Having Half A Child A Mitzva? - A Question Of Fractions

לע"נ הרב החסיד ר' ישראל צבי בן הרה"ח ר' צדוק

If a man married a half Shifcha half Bas Chorin and they have a child, half the child belongs to him. Half the child belongs to the Shifcha side of the woman because when a Jew has a child with a Shifcha the child follows the mother and doesn't relate to his father. The other half of the child belongs to the father [as well] because it relates to the Bas Chorin side of his mother. 

So here we have a case where one essentially has half a child. Asked the Minchas Chinuch [Mitzva Aleph], is he yotzei the mitzva of Pirya Va-rivya?

Rov Genechovski ztz"l answered that we apparently see from Tosfos [Bava Basra 13] that it is a mitzva. The gemara says that if one is half an Eved, half Ben Chorin, we must free him in order that he fulfill the mitzva of Pru U'rivu. Asked Tosfos, why don't we allow him to marry a Bas Chorin and even though she will be doing the aveira of marrying an Eved [לא תהיה קדשה], let us say עשה דוחה לא תעשה and the mitzva of Pru U'rivu will override the aveira?

We see from Tosfos' question that when half a Ben Chorin has a child, even though he is only a half, the mitzva is fulfilled. So too let us say that having half a child [a Ben Chorin marrying half a shifcha] is also a mitzva!!

The Rov ztz"l rejected this and said that maybe there is a difference between half a person having a complete child which is a mitzva and a whole person having half a child which is not.

Any thoughts?? 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance

לזכות הק' אלחנן בן הענא מרים שיחזור בתשובה שלימה יחד עם כל בית ישראל

People spend countless hours in shul davening before Rosh Hashana, on Rosh Hashana, Aseres Yemei Teshuva and then Yom Kippur. 

These same people only days later spend tens of thousands of dollars to pamper themselves in five star hotels while almost completely immersed in their physical pleasure, spending countless hours in idle chatter, destroying any relic of shmiras einayim [the way the women look and dress make it possible only for blind people not be stumble] and act as if they were not supposed to be on the level of angels only days before. 

So on one hand - every one of these people is MUCH better than I am in countless ways [I just can't afford hotels but if I could, who knows - maybe I'd be there too]. There is no doubt about that. Nobody knows better than me how much I am filled with רע and how little good I do. 

On the other hand I am using this forum in order to cry out "YIDDEN - don't lose all of the great madreigos you reached over the last month and a half." It is really not worth it. This world is soooooo fleeting. If you have extra money - I can think of a few mitzvos you can spend it on and you won't lose out. All you need to be TRULY happy is an internal world filled with meaning. 

ודי למבין ואין כאן מקום להאריך אם כי צריך להאריך בזה מאד. והדברים נוקבים עד עמקי תהום!

Parshas Breishis - The True Meaning Of Rest

Shhhaaalooommmmm sweeeeetest friends!!!!!

A huuuuuge mazel toooov to R' Yosef Tzvi and Myra Ehrman on the engagement of their daughter Esti to Aharon Gewirtzman!! May they be zocheh to build a beautiful home filled with simcha and ahava. A special mazel to the grandparents R' and Mrs. Yitzchak Yonah Ehrman on this special simcha! May they go from simcha to simcha in good health and prosperity!!


This dvar Torah should be a zchus li-ilui nishmas HaRav Hechossid R' Yisrael Tzvi ben R' Tzadok, the father of Mori Vi-rabi Ha-Admor Shlita who was niftar on the first day of Succos. 


Also li-zchus refual my beloved friend and pillar of Torah and chesed R' Yehoshua Meir ben Rochel Soroh, R' Noach ben Chaya Liba and Naomi bas Tova bi-toch shear cholei yisrael!!!!


And also as a zchus for my most beloved friend R' Yosef Ezra ben Esther and his family who have just moved to a new home, new town, new neighbors, new lots of things. May all of this newness bring in its wake limitless simcha, hatzlacha and prosperity. May R' Yosef be rich like Bill Gates, a talmid chochom like Rav Ovadiah Yosef and a tzadik like the Chofetz Chaim!!!


"If there was a reward for laziness I'd probably have someone pick it up for me".


In this weeks parsha we read about Shabbos [or "Shabbat" or "The Sabbath"]. Chazal [based on the pesukim] tell us that we rest just as Hashem rested [הכתיב על עצמו מנוחה]. In our tfilas mincha on Shabbos we say יכירו בניך וידעו כי מאתך היא מנוחתם - We have a special prayer asking that we RECOGNIZE that our rest is from Hashem. We find this NOWHERE else. We don't ask that we should recognize that we are wearing tzitzis or giving tzdaka which are from Hashem. Why specifically here? 


They say that hard work never killed anyone but why take the chance? - Ronald Reagan 


Here is a CRUCIAL message! 






People often mistakenly think that to rest on Shabbos is just Religious-Divine license to be lazy. 


Not so!!


The sefarim are FILLED with warnings and exhortations not to be lazy. Shabbos should be the BUSIEST day of the week. "Menucha" doesn't mean "doing nothing". That is the dream of many who have no idea what life is about. A goy will often wait anxiously for retirement so he can finally "chill" and do nothing. He can finally sleep late and have little or no responsibility. Jews retire in order to learn in Kollel FINALLY [I am hoping to start a Kollel for retirees - all I need is the funding and it's DONE!! If anybody wants to stand behind it please tell me]. 


Shabbos - aahhhhhhhhhh Shabbos - is about resting the BODY in order that the soul should get busy. Just as Hashem doesn't keep Shabbos in the material sense of doing nothing so our Shabbos is not about doing nothing. As the sefer Ksav Vi-kabbalah says, Shabbos is designed in order that one can focus on ענינים אלוהיים - G-dly matters. Shabbos is a time to put away the smartphone [you are blessed if you don't have one to put away...], turn off the computer, forget Facebook and ... FACE THE BOOK!!! Open up holy books and reconnect with their help to you core being - נשמה שנתת בי - that holy eternal soul with which we are all endowed. The Medrash Tanna D'bei Eliyahu says that we should make Shabbos - כולה תורה - completely devoted to learning. 


Rest means feeling that we are in our "zone". About Yisachar it says יששכר חמור גרם וכו' וירא מנוחה כי טוב ויט שכמו לסבול - Yisachar is like a donkey. He saw that menucha - rest - was good so he went ot work HARD.


So odd!! Why would one work if he sees that REST is good? Chazal say that the rest the pasuk refers to is Torah study. He saw that he was at peace when he was plumbing the depths of G-dly wisdom so he got to work.


We opened with the tefilla יכירו בניך וידעו כי מאתך היא מנוחתם - We need to know that Shabbos comes from Hashem. It is a time to become more spiritual and less material. It doesn't matter how much money you have or what your social status is. All that matters is that you have a day to get to the essence of who you are and find Hashem in that place. 


Beloved friends!!!! We are SOOOOO LUCKY! We have this special GIFT [see Shabbos 10] that has so much potential. If we do it right then our entire week is permeated with the simcha and elevation of Shabbos. Let us take advantage of every second. Take your Shabbos shluf and tell your body "this is to make you happy" but when you awaken it is then time to get to work. Holy G-dly work. 


A blissful Shabbos to ALLLLL of my holy friends !!
Bi-ahava rabba,
Me

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Kiddush in The Desert

בקשר לתירוץ הראשון - יש לחלק [כפי שכתבו האחרונים] בין מי שבודאי מחוייב וספק אם יצא ידי חובתו לבין מי שיש לו ספק בעצם חלות החיוב. אם אכל כדי שביעה חייב לברך בתורת ודאי [לדעת הפרי חדש ודלא כדעת רעק"א] אבל המסופק אם היום שבת וכן אם לא יודע אם אכל פת רגילה או פת אורז, שיש ספק בעצם חלות חיוב ברכת המזון, חייב רק בתורת ספק ואינו יכול להוציא חבירו אם חייב חברו בתורת ודאי כי הוא חייב רק בתורת ספק. 

אבל עצם ההערה שלו נכון וצריך לברך מספק. ויש להאריך ואכ"מ. 

E.G.O.

Non-ruchani people have their ego bound up in their job, money, social status or other silliness.

Ruchani people have their ego bound up in how well and how much they learn, which famous rabbonim they are close to and how many mitzvos they do. 

Emes-dikke ruchani people, true Bnei and Bnos Aliyah - eradicate their ego and realize that it's not about them at all.

The gemara says that there is no room for Hashem when people are full of themselves.

Simman la-davar: E.G.O. roshei teivos Edge G-d Out.


Bi-ahava rabba,
Me:-)    

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Who Is The King?

Rav Zweig 

“He became King over Yeshurun” (33:5) The Ibn Ezra renders the verse, “Vayehi bishurun melech” – “He became King over Yeshurun (i.e. Israel)”, as a reference to Moshe being the King of Israel.1 The Ramban points out that this interpretation contradicts the following Talmudic discourse: A major component of the Rosh Hashona prayers is a section known as “malchiyos”, which declares the existence and total sovereignty of Hashem. One of the verses that the Talmud lists which should be recited within this section is the verse, “Vayehi bishurun melech”2,3 Clearly, the King being referred to in the verse is Hashem, not Moshe. How does the Ibn Ezra resolve this apparent contradiction? 

A more striking contradiction can be found in Rashi’s commentary on the Torah. When explaining the verse “He became King over Yeshurun”, Rashi defines “King” as “Hashem”.4 

In Parshas Beha’aloscha, Hashem commands that a set of trumpets be fashioned for Moshe’s exclusive use. Rashi comments that they were used in a manner befitting a king. Here Rashi cites the verse, “He became King over Yeshurun” to prove that Moshe had the status of king.5 

The Talmud teaches that, although a scholar may waive the honor which is due to him, a king is not permitted to do so.6 The Mordechai, one of the early Talmudic codifiers, sheds some light on the reason for this. A scholar, who earns the right to be honored, may relinquish this right. However, the honor due to a king is Hashem’s honor: “ki laHashem hamlucha” – “For sovereignty belongs to Hashem”.7 Therefore, a king has no right to waive the honor due to him.8 The Jewish notion of monarchy is that the king functions as a conduit for Hashem’s sovereignty over the world. This is what is meant by sovereignty belonging to Hashem. Moshe Rabbeinu epitomizes the notion of the Jewish king being the conduit for Hashem’s sovereignty over this world. As Chazal say “Shechina midaberes mitoch grono” – “The Divine Presence speaks through Moshe’s mouth.”9 Therefore, there is no contradiction in interpreting the verse “He became King over Yeshurun” as referring to both Hashem and Moshe, for Moshe’s sovereignty is, in reality, the sovereignty of Hashem. 

1.33:5 
2.Ibid. 
3.Rosh Hashona 32b 
4.33: 
5.10:2 
6.Kiddushin 32b 
7.Tehillim 22:29 
8.Gittin Perek Hanizakin see also Maharsha Kiddushin 32b 
9.See Mechilta Shemos 19:19
[From Torah.org] 

No Such Thing

The Fusco Brothers

If It Tastes Good

The Born Loser

Time For A Diet

The Born Loser

Whatta Comeback!

Peanuts

Friday, October 21, 2016

Succos - A Time When We Have Special Hashgacha

Shaaallloooooom sweeeetest friends!!!

This dvar Torah should be in memory of HaRav Hechossid R' Yisrael Tzvi ben R' Tzadok, the father of the Rebbe Shlita who was niftar of the first day of Yuntiv. תהא נשמתו צרורה בצרור החיים ויזכה בקרוב לתחית המתים!




The pasuk [Tehillim 33/18] says הנה עין ה' אל יראיו למיחלים לחסדו - The eyes of Hashem are on those who fear Him to those who wait for his chesed. This alludes to Succos.  


It is interesting that the word סוכה also means to "see". So the same word means "Tabernacle" [or "Jewish tent in October"] and "see". 


When we sit in the Succah it is Hashem who is lovingly looking upon us. Succos is a time of Ahava while the earlier days of the Yomim Noaraim were days of Yirah. When we sit in the Succah we need to have both feelings. The Fear we acquired over the days of Awe and the Love of Succos, our most elevated time of simcha. If we do that then the "eyes of Hashem" will be focused on us. This means a heightened level of siyata di-shamaya [my favorite drug is "LSD" - "Lotsa Siyata Di-shamaya"] and an auspicious time to receive all of the Divine blessings. 



We often think small and that is our mistake. Hashem unlimited and our tfillos should be in the realm of the unlimited. As the pasuk says למיחלים לחסדו. We have to wait for the greatest chesed possible. Don't just ask Hashem for little things but ask Him for EVERYTHING, knowing that He can give it to you. Whether or not you get it doesn't matter as much as the recognition that His desire to bestow chesed upon us is unlimited and He has unlimited capabilities. 


We sit in a Succah which has more shade than sun. Shade represents the shadow of Hashem and trust in Him in all circumstances [השם צלך]. Sun represents צמצום - contraction, as the pasuk says השמש בגברתו - The sun in its gevurah. Gevurah- might - represents in Kabbalah that act of contraction. [Yitzchak's middah was gevurah which meant that he was afraid of sinning and thus contracted himself for fear of extending himself beyond permitted limits]. On Succos, when Hashem is סוכה on us, there most be more trust in Hashem's kindness that even the fear we have. We need lots of both but especially an extra abundance of trust and hope. 


Succos corresponds to Yaakov Avinu as the pasuk says ולמקנהו עשה סוכות - He was the only one of the forefathers to have explicitly built Succos. About Yaacov it says ופרצת ימה וקדמה צפוני ונגבה. First he made techum Shabbos [contraction, limits - gevurah] and in that merit was promised unlimited territory - exactly what Succos is about.


How fitting it is that the gematria of the first letters of ע"ין י-ה-ו-ה א"ל י"ראיו equals 91 which is exactly the gemtria of סוכה!!!


[Based in part on a Torah of Rebbe Leibele Eiger Shabbos Chol Hamoed 1870] 

A happy chag and sweeeeeeet Shabbos!





Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Succos - After Yom Kippur - Anti-Cold-Climate - Released From Prison‏

Shallloommmmm sweeeetest friends!!!



This Dvar Torah should be a zchus for my most beloved friend and chavrusa from decades past R' Eytan Feldman. He and his family should experience limitless joy and success in all that they do.


It should also be a zchus for my present-and-past-long-distance-skype-chavrusas in the "Yeshiva G'dola D'skype" [name coined by Rabbi Akiva Balk Shlita]. They keep me connected to them and Torah. It is one of the highlights of my life.



How CRAZY exciting! Tonight we enter our mini beis hamikdash that we call a succah [see Succah 9 - שם שמים חל על הסוכה] and host AVRAHAM AVINU!!! This year I have the VERY SPECIAL zchus to spend Succos in ISRAEL!!! About the 40th in a row but I try not to take it for granted. I hope you are here too but if you are not, fear not - the sefarim that that the Succah is a בחינה - a small taste of Eretz Yisrael [and the Beis Hamikdash as we mentioned].


7 [or 8] days of SIMCCHHHHAAAAAAAAAA, food, song, more food and more song. Tfillah, shaking the four heretics [ארבע מינים?] until we make them frum, yet more food and a slumber party with all the guys, uncles and ants [although without the aunts - li-havdil] in our Tabernacle hut - followed by a meal. Some tiyulim thrown in and מ'לעבט א טאג - that's the life.


What, may I ask, is Succos, a time of unbridled joy, doing after the serious and somber day of Yom Kippur?? Sort of anti-climactic [I am "anti-cold-climate" which is why I live in a tropical middle eastern desert town called [by the UN] "Palestine". I was thinking of Miami, a suburb of Israel, but then "Matthew" convinced me otherwise...] to say the least.


Let us examine.....


In the Hallel that we will be singing for seven days with our vegetation in hand [it might look like a lemon but no lemon costs a hundred bucks] we say אודך ה' כי עניתני ותהי לי לישועה - I will thank you Hashem that you answered me and were a salvation for me.


It could also mean "I will thank you Hashem that you afflicted me [עינוי is affliction and suffering] and were a salvation for me".


Thanks Hashem for suffering?? Thanks but no thanks!!:-). I'll take a rain check [or if I am lucky - a fat check:-)].


Ahhhhaaaaaaa! The pasuk calls Yom Kippur a day of affliction [ועניתם את נפשותיכם]. We are thanking Hashem for Yom Kippur!!! Thank you Hashem for the suffering of Yom Kippur. This is borne out but the continuation of the pasuk "ותהי לי לישועה". Chazal say on the pasuk לדוד ה' אורי וישעי that אורי is Rosh Hashana and ישעי is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is our day of salvation.


We were imprisoned by our sins and Hashem freed us from incarceration!!:-). As the pasuk says והוא יפדה את ישראל מכל עוונותיו - He REDEEMS us from our sins that had us in captivity. Yom Kippur is indeed the day of salvation. When Succos comes around we realize that we only merit these great days of simcha [the Rambam says that Succos is the HAPPIEST time of year - even more than Yom Haatzmaut!!] BECAUSE we had the Divinely imposed infliction. That was the cleansing process that had to proceed our days of joy.


That also sheds light on the pasuk ושאבתם מים בששון ממעיני הישועה - We will draw water with joy from the springs of salvation. The simcha of the Simchas Beis Hashoeva [the joy of drawing the water] is from the springs of ישועה i.e. Yom Kippur.


It is only after we have been cleansed by Yom Kippur [literally "day of cleansing" - see Gittin 56a בעי לכפורי ידיו] that we can experience the joy of Succos. It is also only after the cleansing of Yom Kippur that we merit sitting in Hashem's shade צלא דמהימנותא - the shadow of faith.


I take this as a paradigm for life [despite that fact that people refuse to let on that there is a "g" in the word when they say it]. It is ONLY after עינוי, some suffering and hard times, that we can truly rejoice. הזורעים בדמעה - Those who plant with a tear, ברינה יקצורו - will reap with joy.


So if anything is getting you down, you must know that you are only being prepared for a ישועה that you never imagined. It is therefore critical to keep that in mind in order to sweeten [המתקה - in Kabbalese] the rough times.


With much love and wishes for a SPEEDY salvation in any area where you seek one,


A FRIELICHIN CHAG. Hope to see you....


Bi-ahava rabba,


Me






Loving Rebuke - My Problem

A few minutes ago I called a very chashuv Rov and before I could get to what I wanted to ask he said [he is a straןght shooter] "אתה יודע מה הבעיה שלך?"

I braced myself. "You know what your problem is?" is NEVER a question but a lead in for someting you usually don't want to hear.

On the other hand it is refreshing when someone tells you something that you don't want to hear provided that it is coming from a good place.

One of the 48 kinyanei Torah is אוהב את התוכחות - loving rebuke. 

Unfortunately he didn't say "Your problem is that you have tons of money in the bank and you don't even know about it. Withdraw the money and start writing million dollar checks to tzedaka".  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My Biography - Finally Out!!!

image1.JPG
Thanks to R' S.F. for sending

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ha-azinu: How To Make Changes - Terminal - Dinner On Mars - The Dodgers - A Big Club‏

Shalllooommmmm swweeeetest friends!!!!


This Dvar Torah should be a zchus li-rfuas R' Yehoshua Meir ben Rochel Soroh and R' Noach ben Chaya Leba!!


Also a zchus for
R' Shmuel Binyamin Ben Tishna Rochel Leah
R' Aharon Yisroel ben Moshe Mordechai
R' Moshe Yehuda ben Pesha Dina
R' Yehuda Yaakov ben Dina Chasha
R' Yaakov ben Avigdor
R' Yisroel Tzadok ben Shulamis
R' Avraham Yitzchak ben Esther
R' Yosef Ezra ben Esther
R' Moshe Gavriel ben Yehudis
Elana Simone bas Miriam


In this weeks parsha, Haazinu, we read that Hashem is correct in His judgements: אל אמונה ואין עול צדיק וישר הוא - He is a G-d of faithfulness and there is no injustice with Him, He is righteous and honest.


The gemara [Tannis 11a] relates what will happen after we depart from this world. [I suffer from a terminal illness called "life". What about you?? Li-chaimmmm!!!! I often think of the word "terminal" when I see them at airports. Like, why would the airline companies want to remind people who are afraid of flying that they are in a "terminal". Li-chaimmmmm!!!]. We will come before Hashem and He will tell us every last deed we did and we will say "Hein" ["Yessir - we did it!!"]. We will then sign on it as the passuk says ביד כל אדם יחתום. We will also justify Hashem's judgment and say "Hashem - you are 100 million percent correct in judging me severely for what I did".


This gemara strikes me as odd [but then again I am under slept, overfed, under worked, not paid, with an affinity for singing really loud in the public mikva showers, so given all of the variables of my life, many things are odd. I am also a lefty and am called "Ally" by family and friends which is a girls name]. Would we think for a second that we would DENY doing what we did? How can one deny reality?? And why is it necessary to tell us now what will happen THEN. I mean, live and let live!! Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you will have a hangover!!


There is a very important message here. 

IMPORTANT MESSAGE

People are often inclined to deny or at least fudge their indiscretions, faults, failings, inadequacies etc. etc. One of the most powerful experiences a person can have is owning up completely, 100 percent, absolutely, to one's failings, without any justifications or excuses. Not blaming one's spouse, parents, society, teachers, Obama, traffic, the Dodgers [is it true that they moved out of Brooklyn?? Last time I was in Flatbush I davened in Landau's and asked around where Giants stadium is and people just looked at me funny. Do religious Jews not follow baseball or did the Dodgers move?? Or both?] etc. etc.


A man goes to a church basement and proclaims to a few dozen people "My name is Justin and I am an alcoholic". [Did you hear about the "plastic surgery anonymous" meeting? The leader of the group said "Hello and welcome. I see a lot of new faces here and I am NOT happy about it". Credit - Eli Ginsburg]. That is the FIRST STEP to recovery. Owning up to our mistakes. Otherwise we just relegate everything we do wrong to the back of our minds, blame other people, make a million excuses etc. etc. and therefore never grow. How utterly pathetic...


So the gemara says that at the end of days we will see things as they really are with nobody else to blame. We will take complete responsibility for our wrongdoings. No fudging, no excuses.We even sign on it. It is completely binding. We don't even blame Hashem [as we often do] but accept that He was 100 justified in giving us the judgment He did.


The medrash says that when there is judgment on earth then there is no judgment up in heaven. This means that if we own up to our mistakes and wrongdoings HERE then we will be saved from the extremely uncomfortable fate THERE. HERE, we can fix things. Here, we can make amends. We can ask forgiveness for those who wronged us. [I notice that is almost always the people who have the least to ask forgiveness for that usually ask. The people who REALLY hurt us usually don't ask.... It is often the same model in the Bein Adam La-makom realm. It is the people with the fewest aveiros who are doing the most teshuva and the habitual sinners who seem a peace and at ease on Yom Kippur].


So this is GREATTTTTTT!!! All we have to do is ADMIT that we are not perfect, get specific and then start making changes.


I will take the plunge....


Here goes. [I hold my nostrils closed and close my eyes and JUMP!]


"My name is Elchonon and I get annoyed at Hashem and at the life He gave me because my life is not exactly as I would like it to be". There!! I did it. Welcome to the club. A club of seven billion people whose lives are not exactly as they envisioned.


Now stage two. Accept that Hashem is SMARTER than I am and knows EXACTLY what I need in order to make my tikkun. He also gives me BILLIONS of blessings that I routinely take for granted. [Every cell. Oxygen in the atmosphere. Two guys ate in a restaurant on Mars. The food was GREAT but the atmosphere was lacking... Kidneys that work SUPER. A PANCREAS. Food. Lots of it. Although it doesn't really show on me. Running water. A subscription to Mishpacha Magazine. OK - the last one isn't true. But thank G-d I have a MISHPACHA!! Spell check Etc. etc.]

Now when I get up there I will hopefully be saved from judgment because I fixed it here...


SWEEEETEST FRIENDSSSSSS!!! It is OK to be imperfect. It is WONDERFUL to constantly admit our faults, to apologize to others and to Hashem and to then move on with simcha knowing that we are constantly improving and growing. We become more humble, more grateful, more patient and understanding. A blissful life indeed!


Wishing EVERYBODY a Shabos of bliss.


Bi-ahava rabba,
Me

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Is Moshiach Here?

I have a weakness for using humor in public addresses. Sometimes the laughter is constant and heavy [at which point people suggest an alternative career in standup comedy. But since stand up comedy is almost always הוללות and ליצנות for the pure sake of הוללות and ליצנות I pass]. I then ask myself if this is permitted, for Chazal said that one may not "fill one's mouth with laughter" [ימלא אדם שחוק פיו] in this world. It requires a broad discussion to define what the paramters of this issur are. 

I accidentally found this heter from a Chabad source. Not being a diehard Chabadnik, I can't say that it flies for me.... 



Was There A Mechitza At Hakhel?

I did a google search and all I found was this.

Any ideas?

Destroying One's Parents TV?


Is It Permitted To Hate Evil People?


Vote Donald!! Vote Hillary!! VOTE HASHEM!!!

People often have an innate belief that certain politicians will save them. I have my reservations...

This was printed in the Hapardes Torah journal in 1944. 

Today we know that Roosevelt tacitly approved of the slaughter of our people.


Geirus Without Kabbolas Mitzvos


Rav Avraham Shapira

Rav Yisrael Rosen 

“Ask ... your elders, and they will say to you” [Devarim 32:7].

Nine years have gone by since the passing of our mentor Rabbi Avraham Shapiro, the Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav, during the Succot holiday in the year 5768. Among other things, “Reb Avrum” had the privilege of serving as the Chief Rabbi of Israel for a decade, filling the position established by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, who was the father-in-law of his brother-in-law (Rabbi Natan Raanan). Before this, Reb Avrum served many years as a judge in the rabbinical courts.

His greatness in Torah, both erudition and halachic decisions, is engraved within the pages of his books – “The Lectures of our Mentor GR’A Shapiro” on the tractates of the Talmud and “Minchat Avraham,” a collection of his responsa. His rulings in the rabbinical court are outstanding examples of learned decisions that show intimately involvement in current reality. Some of these rulings have appeared in the volumes of Techumin, published by Zomet, a total of twenty-two articles on the subject of halacha. Some of these were given to us by his son after Reb Avrum’s passing. (Here are two examples from the most recent volumes: “One who brings a case to a secular court and then comes back to a rabbinical court,” and “Is the priority for receiving charity the same as that for an inheritance?”)

Even though he never served in a “classic” rabbinical position, Reb Avrum was the admired teacher and rabbi of hundreds of students. I venture to suggest that this is especially true of those students who were appointed as community rabbis or became teachers in the educational system. Such people could always expect a warm welcome in his home, with constant overflowing of practical advice and a sprinkling of stories of the wisdom of the great men of Yisrael “in the previous generation,” always with amusing anecdotes and a significant lesson. It seems to me that no former student who started on a task of teaching or a new position of a rabbi was ever allowed to leave without being “scolded” by the rabbi: “Where are your felt hat and your rabbinical frock?” In my eyes, this constantly repeated question was meant to give a message of a required link between the chain of Eastern European rabbis with the wise men of Jerusalem “in previous and earlier generations” and the Torah scholars who are part and parcel of religious Zionism. The verse quoted above from this week’s Torah portion, “Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders and they will say to you,” is an appropriate theme for a major segment of his educational legacy.

Indeed, as far as I am concerned Rabbi Shapiro was a perfect symbol of this connection, launching an approach that stands strong, without any twists and no “if, and, or but.” Reb Avrum was a man of religious Zionism with all his soul, of the type of the rabbis who founded “Chovevei Tzion,” which raised the banner of Zionist redemption years before the Zionist Congress was held in Basle. His family relationship to Rav Avraham Kook, the visionary Kohen and greatest religious Zionist of all, drew Reb Avrum into the same realms of activity with love, and led him to fill the same post as his predecessor. This is intimately linked with his outstanding contribution in his calls for settlement in all the regions of Eretz Yisrael. His declarations of “Daat Torah” that opposed surrendering to our enemies even went so far as to allow refusing an order in the IDF.

May his soul be bound above the living.

* * * * * *

The next issue of Shabbat B’Shabbato is scheduled to be published for the Torah portion of Noach. We will take this opportunity to take leave of an author who will no longer be with us next year. Mussa Berlin, who has been with us for only one year, has asked for “respite” from writing his excellent articles based on stories and their connection to music.

Who will replace him? See our bulletin starting next year.

Happy holidays to all!

You Are Fat, You Are Thick [No Offense:-)] - שמנת עבית

Rav Mordechai Greenberg

The words of the sages with respect to the above verse were a source of great worry for Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, and he wrote about this matter to his father-in-law, the “Aderet.” “I will openly state to my honorable sir, that I am bothered by the Midrash Sifri in the portion of Ha’azinu which quotes the verse, ‘And their land will be filled with silver and gold,’ in commenting on the verse, ‘You are fat, you are thick,’ writing about three generations before the coming of the Mashiach. And you will understand my thoughts. However, in any case the Holy One, Blessed be He, will do what is necessary for the good of His name, and He will bring His redemption closer, and G-d will act alone, let it be quickly in our time.” [Orach Mishpat, Orach Chaim 48].

Here are some more details from the Sifri which caused Rav Kook to be so afraid. “‘And Yeshurun became fat and kicked’ [Devarim 32:15] – The people rebel when they are satiated. You can see this with the people of the Deluge, who only rebelled before the Holy One, Blessed be He, out of an excess of food and drink, and out of calm... And when you enter the land, you will only rebel in response to food and drink and calm... And another point: It is written, ‘You are fat, you are thick...’ [Ibid] – These represent three generations before the days of the Mashiach, as is written, ‘And their land is full of silver and gold...’” [Sifri Ha’azinu 318].

The last verse quoted above in the Sifri is the following: “And their land is full of silver and gold, with no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses, with no end to their chariots. And their land is full of idols, they bow down to their own handiwork.” [Yeshayahu 2:7-8]. The prophet is describing moral decay. First the land fills up with treasures of silver. In the next stage the excessive wealth is used to buy luxuries – horses, chariots (and cars?). The way is then clear for the third stage – silver and gold become idols, and the people become enslaved to them. All of this happens three generations before the coming of the Mashiach.

This subjugation to silver and gold can even be attributed to intellectuals and Torah scholars. The Netziv wrote that the main ones who influenced the others to sin were Torah scholars, “and that was the trait of the love of wealth in the Second Temple, and it still dances around among us to this very day” [Harchev Davar, Devarim]. This also appears in Sforno in this week’s Torah portion: “‘And Yeshurun became fat’ – People who are skilled in analysis are called Yeshurun... you have turned the community of Torah masters and analysis to physical pleasures, and you have thus become too fat to understand the details of the truth... ‘And he abandoned the G-d who made him’ – therefore the multitudes have abandoned G-d, and they have ‘shown contempt for the Rock of their salvation.’ [Devarim 32:15].”

Evidently these words of the Sifri were in Rav Kook’s mind when he wrote the following: “We accept that there will be a spiritual revolt in Eretz Yisrael and within Yisrael at the time when the beginning of the revitalization of the nation will begin. The physical calm that will be achieved by part of the nation... will diminish the soul... the yearning for exalted and holy ideals will cease, and as a consequence the spirit will decline.” [Orot Hatechiya, 44].

It is interesting to note that the poet Chaim Nachman Bialik also blamed the love of wealth for the sickness of the new settlement Tel Aviv. When he moved away from the inhabitants of “sick Tel Aviv,” he said that the signs of the illness, among other things, included recent events when people took advantage of the poverty of new Olim in order to increase their own wealth, stealing their last prutot by increasing the rent. “The result is internal disintegration of the nation, a rise in the number of political parties, unfounded hate, and more. The entire settlement movement is sick, and our Tel Aviv is sick.”

Circumcising The Son Of A Gentile Mother And Jewish Father - From The Rav Ztz"l


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mechilah

Please forgive me for any sins of omission or commission that I may have committed this year or in the past. It was certainly not intentional but definitely requires forgiveness if I hurt or offended you in any way. If there is something specific that I said, wrote or did that bothered you and you want me to apologize directly you may feel free to contact me and inform me. 

If you don't like me and wish me harm in any way I will gladly inform you that I had an extremely difficult year on many levels [if that makes you feel better]:-). I thank Hashem for the challenges and thank Him for the infinite blessing of which I am the recipient every second of my life.

 If you wish me well [as I wish you] I can assure that that I hope and pray that this year will be a better one for all of us. Our klalos will turn into brachos and our brachos will grow exponentially. 


I davened at the Kotel on Rosh Hashana for all who sent in names and will gladly do so on Yom Kippur as well [but not at the Kotel].

Bi-ahava rabba,
Me

[Elchanan Ehrman]

Hakhel

By Rabbi Kaganoff

In parshas Vayechi, Yehudah is blessed by his father Yaakov: “The scepter will not depart from Yehudah, nor will the lawmaker [depart] from his descendants, even when Shiloh [Moshiach] arrives. To him will the nations gather” (Bereishis49:10). Some explain the pasuk in the following way: “Both the monarchy and the teaching of Torah will remain among the descendants of Yehudah, both in the short term, and certainly when Moshiach (Shiloh) arrives. Also, he will be the one who teaches the Jewish people when they gather every seven years for hakheil.” Thus, the blessing received by Yehudah is: Dovid Hamelech and the royal Jewish family will be his descendants, they will reign over the Jewish people, both early in Jewish history as the monarchs of the Kingdom of Judea; later, for a thousand years inBavel, under the title of Reish Gelusa; and then, eventually, for the rest of history, when Moshiach rules over the Jewish people and, indirectly, over the entire world.

One of the manifestations of this rule will be the mitzvah of hakheil, when the entire Jewish people — men, women, and even babies — gather to the grounds of the Beis Hamikdash to hear the king of the Jewish people read selections of the book of Devorim to the entire nation. This was done on Chol Hamoed Sukkos in the year followingshemittah (see Devorim 31:10-13 and Mishnah, Sotah 41a). Indeed, one of Shelomoh Hamelech’s names is Koheles, because of his central role in the mitzvah of hakheil. Similarly, we have a Biblical allusion to the fulfillment of this mitzvah by Yoshiyahu Hamelech in Divrei Hayamim(2:34:29-33).

Questions:

With this introduction, let us examine the following questions:

What exactly is done at hakheil?

When is hakheil performed?

Why was hakheil not observed on Shabbos?

Who is obligated to attend hakheil?

Was the reading of hakheil performed only by kings of the house of Dovid?

Is hakheil one mitzvah or two?

What is done at hakheil?

Hakheil is a public gathering and ceremony whose focal point is akerias haTorah read by the king of the Jewish people on the grounds of the Beis Hamikdash. When we have a Beis Hamikdash, bimheirah veyameinu, this mitzvah will again be performed. The king of the Jews will read selections of the book of Devorim from a special sefer Torahkept in the Beis Hamikdash area.

The procedure

As reported by the Tosefta (a source of halachah dating back to the era of the Mishnah), prior to the reading, “a wood platform was constructed in the Azarah (an inner section of the Beis Hamikdash), and the king sat upon it” (Tosefta, Sotah 7:8). The fact that anyone was permitted to sit in the Azarah area was unique, because no one other than a king of the line of Dovid Hamelech was ever permitted to sit in the Azarah or any of the holier sections of the Beis Hamikdash (Yoma25a et al.). This halachah is derived from a verse in the Book ofShemuel (2:7:18).

According to an alternative opinion quoted by the Tosefta, the platform was constructed on the Har Habayis, the Temple Mount area, which is outside the Beis Hamikdash, and, therefore, anyone may sit there. Thus, we have a dispute whether hakheil was performed in the Beis Hamikdash itself, or right outside. Either way, the area where hakheil is performed requires that all the people who attend be tehorim, ritually pure as defined by halachah.

The kohanim and hakheil

As should be appropriate for a public reading of the sefer Torah, there was much pomp and circumstance preceding the mitzvah of hakheil. To continue the Tosefta: “On that day, the kohanim stood on the fences (of Yerushalayim), and in the breaches (between the fences), holding golden bugles. (I translated the word chatzotzeres as bugle, because trumpets that use valves or keys were not invented until relatively recently. The word trumpet used to mean an instrument that had no valves, but today all trumpets have valves.) They blew tekiah, teruah, tekiah. People said that any kohen who was not holding a bugle might be accused of being an imposter. The people of Yerushalayim made considerable money by renting the golden bugles at the price of a golden dinar each.” The kohanim’s blowing was to make sure everyone remembered to come for hakheil, somewhat reminiscent of the soundtrucks that blast their way through Yerushalayim to announce everything from funerals, sifrei Torah dedications, andtzedakah collections to sales and chol hamoed entertainment.

There is a question here about the bugles, because the Torah requires that chatzotzeros be manufactured from silver, not gold. Why should inviting people for hakheil require gold bugles?

I was told an answer in the name of Rav Avraham Sherman, a prominent dayan in Eretz Yisroel, that the chatzotzeros for hakheilwere, indeed, made of silver, not gold. They were called the “goldenchatzotzeros” not because they were made of gold, but because the rental fee was charged in gold, as the Tosefta states.

Taking out the sefer Torah

The sefer Torah was taken out with much ceremony, as should always be done. On the occasion of hakheil, the sefer Torah was first brought by the gabbai, called the chazzan hakenesses, who then handed it to a higher official, called the rosh hakenesses. In turn, the rosh hakenesseshanded the sefer Torah to the segan, the associate kohen gadol, who handed it to the kohen gadol, who then handed the sefer Torah to the king. The king received the sefer Torah while standing and then sat down to read, which, as we mentioned above, was a special prerogative allowed only to kings who were descendants of Dovid Hamelech (Sotah 41a). The king recited a brocha as we do before the reading when we receive an aliyah. He was the only person to receive an aliyah for this reading, and he himself read the Torah. After the reading, he recited a series of eight brachos (Sotah 40b-41a).

Date of hakheil

When exactly is hakheil performed?

Actually, there are two versions of the Mishnah as to exactly on which date hakheil took place. According to the more common text, hakheilwas performed on the first day of chol hamoed Sukkos, or, in the words of the Mishnah, motza’ei Yom Tov harishon shel chag, the sixteenth of Tishrei (which corresponds to the second day of Yom Tovin chutz la’aretz). However, there is another text that reads motza’ei Yom Tov ha’acharon shel chag (cited by Yerushalmi, Sotah, and Rashi,Megillah 5a). According to this text, hakheil occurred on isru chag, the day after Yom Tov, the 23rd of Tishrei. (This date corresponds to the date celebrated in chutz la’aretz as Simchas Torah.) From the wording of the Rambam (Hilchos Chagigah 3:1), it appears that one could fulfill the mitzvah either way, although he rules that one should performhakheil at the beginning of Chol Hamoed.

Hakheil on Shabbos

The Mishnah (Megillah 5a) notes that sometimes hakheil was postponed. When and why was it postponed? The Gemara Yerushalmiand Rashi explain that when the preferred day for hakheil (which was the day after either the first or last day of Sukkos) fell on Shabbos,hakheil was postponed to the next day.

But, check your calendar — neither the second day of Sukkos, the 16thof Tishrei, nor the 23rd of Tishrei can ever fall on Shabbos! Since this can occur only if Rosh Hashanah were to fall on a Friday, this violates the calendar rule of lo adu rosh, that the first day of Rosh Hashanahcan never fall on Sunday, Wednesday or Friday.

The answer to this question is historical. The mitzvah of hakheil was observed while the Beis Hamikdash stood, which was prior to the establishment of our current calendar. Our contemporary Jewish calendar was instituted by Hillel Hanasi, the great-grandson of Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi (not to be confused with Hillel Hazakein, who was their ancestor), about 250 years after the destruction of the secondBeis Hamikdash (Rambam, Hilchos Kiddush Hachodesh 5:3). In our current calendar, the second day of Sukkos cannot fall on Shabbos. However, prior to Hillel Hanasi, the Jewish calendar was determined by the Sanhedrin, and Rosh Hashanah, Sukkos and all other holidays could fall on any day of the week. When Rosh Hashanah and Sukkosfell on Friday, the first day of chol hamoed and isru chag in Eretz Yisroel would fall on Shabbos. It is this situation that the Mishnah is discussing.

Never on Saturday

Why was hakheil not observed on Shabbos?

Several reasons are provided:
As I mentioned above, to help the people hear the recital of hakheil, a platform from which the king read the Torah was constructed in theBeis Hamikdash. This platform could not be constructed on Shabbosor Yom Tov. Furthermore, were they to construct it before it was needed, it would have gotten in the way of the crowds that attended the Beis Hamikdash on the yomim tovim. Therefore, if the first day ofchol hamoed fell on Shabbos, hakheil was postponed to Sunday, so that the platform could be built that day (Yerushalmi, Megillah 1:4, quoted by Rashi, Megillah 5a).
Another opinion, also quoted in the above-mentioned passage ofTalmud Yerushalmi, contends that hakheil was postponed fromShabbos so that the bugles could be blown.
A third reason is that the people were required to carry their young children to hakheil, which they would have been unable to do onShabbos (Rashi, Megillah 5a).

Who is obligated to attend hakheil?

The Torah states clearly that “Men, women and children” are obligated in hakheil. Even someone who does not understand any Hebrew is obligated to join the assembly for hakheil (Rambam, Hilchos Chagigah 3:6). Nevertheless, not all men and women are obligated to make the trip to Yerushalayim to hear hakheil. Themitzvah of hakheil does not obligate people who are exempt because of medical reasons from the mitzvah of re’eiah — the commandment incumbent on all Jewish male adults to come to the Beis Hamikdashand offer korbanos on the three regalim (Pesach, Shevuos, andSukkos). Therefore, the elderly, the ill, someone who has difficulty walking, one who cannot hear (even if only out of one ear), and someone who cannot see (even if only out of one eye) — all of whom are exempt from the mitzvah of re’eiah — are exempt from hakheil(Rambam, Hilchos Chagigah 2:1, 3:2). Many authorities rule that someone who does not own land in Eretz Yisroel is similarly exempt from hakheil (Turei Even, Chagigah 3a s.v. Kedei). However, theRambam rules that this is not a factor, and that someone who does not own land in Eretz Yisroel is required to observe hakheil.

Someone who is tamei is exempt from coming to hakheil, and, indeed, is forbidden to do so, since he is forbidden to enter the Beis Hamikdash where hakheil was held (Rambam, Hilchos Chagigah 2:1, 3:2).

There is a major difference between the various categories of exemptions from hakheil. People excused from the mitzvah for medical reasons may perform the mitzvah, and if they do so, they will be rewarded as einam metzuvim ve’osim, those who perform amitzvah that they are not obligated to perform. However, someone who is tamei is forbidden to participate in hakheil, since doing so would cause him to violate the sanctity of the Beis Hamikdash. He should try to make himself tahor as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, in our day, it is very common for people to desecrate this sanctity, as there are groups actively involved in causing and encouraging Jews to ascend Har Habayis, notwithstanding thehalachic prohibitions involved.

Which children should hear?

There is a dispute among the acharonim whether every child is required to be brought to hear hakheil, or only children who, when they become adults, will be obligated in the mitzvah. According to this latter opinion, held by the highly respected author of the classic work,Shaagas Aryeh, one is usually not obligated to bring children tohakheil, unless the child already owns his own real estate in Eretz Yisroel (Turei Even, Chagigah 3a s.v. Kedei). However, other, later authorities contend that one is required to bring any minor to thehakheil ceremony (Minchas Chinuch, Mitzvah 612). Indications are that a much earlier authority, the Rambam, held in accordance with the second approach.

House of David?

Could the reading of the hakheil be recited by anyone other than a king of the House of Dovid? The explanation I shared above to interpret Yehudah’s blessing in parshas Vayechi suggests that thehakheil reading could be done by Dovid and his descendants.

However, this approach runs contradictory both to a Mishnah and to a passage of Gemara. The Mishnah teaches that when Agrippas, who was not a descendant of David, was king over the Jews, he readhakheil, although he read it while standing, because he was not of David’s royal line (Sotah 41a). This demonstrates that a Jewish king not from David’s dynasty could read hakheil. Thus, hakheil was performed during the entire period of the second Beis Hamikdash, notwithstanding that there was no king descended from Dovid Hamelech.

Moreover, the following passage of Talmud Yerushalmi implies that someone not descended from malchus beis Dovid could read hakheil,even when there is a king from David’s dynasty!

“Rabbi Yosi ben Yaakov said: Yeravam became king over the Kingdom of Israel in the year after shemittah. He realized that should he arrive in Yerushalayim and demand the honor due him as king, the local gentry of Yerushalayim would contend that the local king (Rechavam, the son of Shelomoh) comes first. Yeravam then said: ‘If I read second, I will feel mortified, and if I do not read at all, it will be a public humiliation. If I allow the people to go on their own to Yerushalayim, they will accept Rechavam, Shelomoh’s son, as king.’ What did Yeravam do? He constructed two golden calves” (Yerushalmi, Avodah Zarah 1:1; see also Sanhedrin 101b). This passage of Yerushalmiexplains the events of Melachim I 12-27.

Yeravam was not from the tribe of Yehudah, and yet the Gemaraimplies that, even with Rechavam, David’s grandson, as Jewish monarch, it would have been appropriate for Yeravam to have read part of the hakheil.

Thus, from the Mishnah and this passage of Gemara we see mitzvas hakheil could be fulfilled even when the Torah was read by someone other than a king descended from Yehudah (Minchas Chinuch).

By the way, the Talmud Bavli (Sanhedrin 101b) recounts the story of Yeravam with a slightly variant version: “We have a tradition that no one may sit in the Azarah area of the Beis Hamikdash but kings who are descended from Yehudah. When the people see Rechavam sitting in the Azarah while I am standing, they will say that he is the king and I am his subject. If, on the other hand, I sit down, they will kill me for rebelling against his monarchy.”

Too distant

As mentioned above, almost all of the Jewish people came to hakheil. The number of people was vast, and the king’s voice could carry only so far. How did the people hear him, in the days before the invention of a microphone?

The answer is that one was required to strive to hear the king to the best of one’s ability. If you tried as hard as you could, and you could not hear the reading, you fulfilled the mitzvah (Lechem Mishneh, Hilchos Chagigah 3:6 and Shu”t Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 1:32).

Is hakheil one mitzvah or two?

We are all aware that the Torah commanded the Jewish people to observe 613 mitzvos. These mitzvos are listed by many different early authorities, and, in many instances, there are disputes among them as to what qualifies as a mitzvah, or how to count them. In the case ofhakheil, there is a dispute whether hakheil should be counted as one or as two of the 613 mitzvos. According to many authorities, hakheil is counted as two of the 613 mitzvos. One mitzvah is that it is incumbent upon the king (or other leader) to read the Torah, as described above. The other mitzvah is for the Jews to assemble – thus requiring each individual member of the Jewish people to make sure that he attends the hakheil service, and to bring along his children (Behag, Yerei’im). According to the Rambam’s opinion, both of these aspects of themitzvah are included under the heading of one mitzvah (Rambam, Chinuch, Semag). In other words, there is a mitzvah for the individuals of the Jewish community to perform hakheil, with each individual having a different aspect of the mitzvah to observe. The king is required to do the reading, whereas the individual members of klal Yisroel have a requirement to attend and to listen.

Conclusion

As Rav Hirsch notes (Commentary, Devorim 31:11), the mitzvah ofhakheil is not intended to teach people the basic laws of the Torah. Rather, its special purpose is to have the nation’s supreme representative develop in our people an awareness of the goals ofHashem’s nation. When the king, the “political leader,” led the religious ceremony of reading from the Torah, it reinforced to the whole nation the idea that the Torah is our guiding light.