Friday, July 21, 2017

Mysim Of Gedolim

Laws Of The Nine Days

From dinonline

Making and Buying Clothes during the Nine Days

What is included in the prohibition of making clothes?

One may not make any new clothes whether by sewing, weaving, knitting, or any other method. This is forbidden even if the garment will not be completed until after Tisha b’Av.
One may not do embroidery or other needlework on clothing, tablecloths, etc.
It is permitted to cut pieces of cloth in preparation for sewing after Tisha b’Av.

Does this also apply to a professional tailor?

The custom is to permit a tailor to continue earning a livelihood by making clothes for others. If possible, he should refrain during the week of Tisha b’Av, unless it is well known that he is doing work for gentiles.

May one make wedding clothes for a chosson or kallah?

It is permitted if there is not sufficient time to do this after Tisha b’Av.

May a girl learn to sew?
This is permitted if cancellation of a class will cause financial loss to the teacher. If possible, classes should not be held during the week of Tisha b’Av.
It is forbidden to practice making clothes at home, unless the cloth will be discarded.

May one repair garments?
Simple repairs are permitted when necessary, e.g. sewing a tear, adding a patch, sewing on a button.
According to most opinions, it is permitted to shorten or lengthen a garment.

May one instruct a gentile to make or alter a garment?

This is permitted if the garment will not be ready until after Tisha b’Av. Nevertheless, it is praiseworthy to refrain from doing so.

May shoes be repaired?

Yes. Even professional shoe repairs are permitted.

May one tie tzitzis on a garment?


Which types of clothing may not be purchased?

It is forbidden to purchase all types of clothing, including those that do not require the b’racha shehecheyanu, e.g. shoes, socks, underwear. This applies even if one does not intend to wear them until after Tisha b’Av.

May one buy second-hand clothes?

This is forbidden if such clothes will give pleasure.

May a chosson or kallah buy clothes for their wedding?

This is permitted if they will not be able to buy them after Tisha b’Av.

May one buy a new tallis?

No. One may buy a tallis koton even during the nine days, if one has no other to wear.

May one buy bed linen, towels, etc.?


What if there is a special sale during the nine days?

One may buy items at such a sale, if there is a considerable saving and one will not find them again at this price after Tisha b’Av. (See also questions ‎91, ‎109, and ‎111).

What if one has no suitable footwear for Tisha b’Av?

Since it is forbidden to wear leather shoes on Tisha b’Av (see question ‎236) one must remember to buy suitable footwear before Rosh Chodesh. If a person forgot to do so, he may buy simple cheap footwear during the nine days.

May one buy clothes for children?


May one buy and/or give gifts?
It is permitted to buy and give inexpensive gifts, e.g. on the occasion of a bris or bar mitzvah.
It is forbidden to buy or give expensive gifts that will give considerable joy, e.g. an engagement ring.
Clothes may not be bought even as a gift, e.g. for a newborn baby. If they were bought before the nine days, they may be given during the nine days.

May one buy new furniture and appliances, e.g. fridge, stove, etc.?

It is usually forbidden to buy important items during the nine days, since they bring a person much pleasure. If the old item broke during the nine days and cannot be repaired, a new one may be bought if needed urgently (see also question ‎59).

May one buy small household items?

It is permitted to buy items of minor importance that are needed regularly in the home, e.g. pots, pans, plates, etc.

May one buy sefarim?

One may buy sefarim that are needed for Torah study during the nine days

From the ou:

With Rosh Chodesh Av, the more intense period of mourning for the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, known as The Nine Days, begins.

“As Av enters, we diminish our joy”. This statement of the mishna is manifest in many laws & customs observed during the first nine days of the month of Av (Actually it is for nine and a half to ten days).

There is a dispute among authorities as to whether this means that one ceases all joy during this period, or whether one is only required to diminish joy.

One way or the other, some of the manifestations of this concept are the reduction of business, the prohibition of pleasurable building, and other similar things.

One should not play musical instruments during the Nine Days. Some say that applies to singing as well. There are appropriate songs to sing during the Nine Days.

Halachically, tiyulim are forbidden only on Erev Tish’a b’Av and Tish’a b’Av itself. However, one should refrain from pleasurable tiyulim from Rosh Chodesh. Trips abroad should specifically be avoided. Trips to Israel, on the other hand, are allowed because of the mitzva aspect involved.

Concerning the conduct of business, it is generally agreed that in today’s economy, the factors of financial loss – rent, salaries, utilities, etc. – would permit business as usual during the Nine Days. Depending upon the type of business and the possible effects of “closing shop” for more than a week, the applications of the halacha may vary. A Rav should be consulted.

Giving of gifts should be avoided, if possible, during the Nine Days. If unavoidable, the gift should preferably not be used until after Tish’a b’Av.

One should not buy new clothes during the Nine Days, even if She’he’che’yanu is not involved, and even if one will not wear the clothes until after Tish’a b’Av. Simple sneakers for Tish’a b’Av is an exception to this rule. Simple sneakers!

Purchases necessary for one’s livelihood are permitted; if a She’he’che’yanu is involved, it should be postponed until after Tish’a b’Av.

“Purchases of Mitzva” are allowed, but should be made in consultation with a Posek.

Another interesting exception to the ban on purchases is the case of bargains and availability. One may buy things – even “items of joy” – during the Nine Days, if they will be difficult to find after Tish’a b’Av, or even it they will be more expensive then. The mourning during the Nine Days is not intended to cost us money; it is meant to diminish our joy.

Opinions differ concerning the extent to which some of the following rules apply. Exceptions to any of the following rules should be made only in consultation with one’s Rav.

Hair cutting and shaving are prohibited. Even those who shave during the Three Weeks should avoid shaving during the Nine Days.

One may cut fingernails during the Nine Days.

Weddings and other festive gatherings are prohibited.

One should not play or listen to music.

Pleasurable bathing is prohibited. Many apply this prohibition to regular bathing as well. One who showers during the Nine Days for hygienic purposes, should use cooler water than usual, bathe less frequently, take less time, and avoid washing the whole body at one time. Most authorities permit bathing as usual on the Fridays of the Nine Days.

Meat and wine are prohibited during the Nine Days, except on Shabbat. Meat and wine are associated both with joy AND with Temple service. Both reasons combine to explain this prohibition.

Even though havdala is officially after Shabbat, one is permitted to drink wine. It is preferable to give the wine to a child who is old enough to understand brachot but not yet old enough to understand the concept of “mourning for Jerusalem”. Alternately, some authorities recommend the use of a substitute beverage for havdala such as fruit juice, beer, etc. Other authorities insist on wine as usual.

It is the practice not to wear freshly laundered clothing during the Nine Days. Undergarments, for health reasons, are generally not included in this ruling. One can “prepare” several changes of clothing before Rosh Chodesh by wearing them briefly. One may dress for Shabbat without the above restriction.

Speaking of She’he’che’yanu…

There is an interesting dispute concerning this joyful bracha during the Three Weeks. The Shulchan Aruch and the ARI z”l prohibit the saying of the bracha. What follows is a ban on new fruit and other purchases which require the bracha.

The Vilna Gaon allows the bracha throughout the Three Weeks (including the Nine Days), even during the week.

The Mishna B’rura allows the bracha on Shabbat, but not during the week.

The Aruch HaShulchan allows it during the week as well, but only until Rosh Chodesh Av. In other words, only on Shabbat during the Nine Days.

If withholding a new fruit because of the bracha issue will cause a reduction of Oneg Shabbat, then even the Shulchan Aruch would permit She’he’che’yanu during the Three Weeks.

The purchase of S’farim should be avoided during the Nine Days, if joy in their purchase produces joy.

This has not been an exhaustive list of the rules for the Nine Days nor have all variant opinions been expressed. It is best to consult one’s LOR for more complete information.

Most importantly, we must ponder the causes of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash and work towards “repairing the damage” caused by past (and present) generations so that we may be privileged to rejoice in the Geula, speedily in our time.

The laws and customs of mourning the Churban are not meant to overburden us nor are they picayune. They are meant to keep our thoughts and feelings focused on the Churban and its causes, and the resolutions towards improvement that should follow those thoughts and emotions. Use them well.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bikkur Before Hekdesh Or Only After

In honor of the yahrtzeit of the Shaagas Aryeh, a GEVALLLLDIK הערה on his sefer Turei Even from Rav Geshtetner ztz"l. 

Life Is REALLY Good - So Why Do We Need Geulah?

הרב זאב חיים בן חי' אידל
מרים בת שושנה 
גולדה בת אסתר
ר' נחמיה בן שרה 

We all have problems. Whether they be emotional, spiritual, financial, familial, health, etc. etc. וחדלו לספור כי אין מספר. Some people have a lot of trouble sleeping but you would never know because you don't see them in bed. Some people are haunted by difficult experiences of the past. Some are in difficult marriages or have trouble with children [if you have children then you have trouble with children]. Some people are consumed by envy when they see the success of other vs. their own failures. The list goes on and on. 

On the other hand - life has NEVER been this good. Every single one of us is living MUCH better than a king lived a hundred years ago. We have countless comforts that were never dreamt of in world history. Think about it - indoor plumbing, iphones, super comfortable automobiles with a GPS or Waze, computers, air conditioning, heating, ELECTRICITY, washing machine, dryer, fridge, freezer etc. etc. All relatively new inventions. We have food galore. We have more food prepared for one Shabbos meal than our ancestors had for months. Then we spend Shabbos afternon snacking....

In ruchiniyus life is also REALY good. We all enjoy complete religious freedoms. We have free access to hundreds of thousands if not millions of recorded shiurim. Not to mention blogs [like these] and websites where you have limitless Torah and inspiration offered to you completely free of charge. We have all the Artscroll and other books to make learning easier and more enjoyable etc. etc. We have kosher food, clean, comfortable mikvaos, shuls that are well lit, air conditioned and heated, well stocked with sefarim, often with a kitchen for those who want a snack or drink. We don't have to go to work until we are at least 22 years old, so we can expand our education. There is so much to enjoy and be thankful for.

So do we really want the geulah? Why should we - things are so good as they are [putting aside all of the problems we have:-)]?!!! Asks the Tiferes Shlomo [ח"ב שבת קודש ד"ה ממקומך]: How can we say every Shabbos morning ממקומך תופיע עלינו וכו' כי מחכים אנחנו לך - Please Hashem redeem us for we are waiting for you. But we are not, so how can we lie???

He answers that we are asking for Hashem that He should shine His light upon us so that we in fact start to genuinely wait for His redemption. Moreover, once the geulah comes and the light, clarity and holiness of Hashem shines on our souls we will realize that ALL ALONG this is what we really wanted. All of the other solutions we sought out for our problems were only partial solutions. Only the complete geulah is the absolute solution to all of mankind's ills.   

When Will The Geulah Come?

The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh says that the geulah will come when we realize how misrerable it is to be so far from Hashem. That all of the palaces we live in, all of our comfortable cars, all of our lavish simchas, all of our exotic vacations, are worth nothing compared to what we would have if Hashem would already redeem us. 

כי ימוך אחיך ומכר מאחוזתו'. אומר 'אור החיים' (ויקרא כה כה): 'פרשה זו תרמוז ענין גדול והערה ליושבי תבל, כי ימוך על דרך אומרו (קהלת י יח) בעצלתים ימך המקרה, ואמרו ז'ל (תענית ז ב) עשיתם לאותו שנאמר בו (תהלים קד) המקרה במים עליותיו מך, כי כשהתחתונים מטין מדרך הטוב מסתלקים ההשפעות ומתמסכן עמוד הקדושה, כי העיקר תלוי בהתחתונים, ואמר ומכר מאחוזתו ירצה על המשכן משכן העדות אשר הוא אחוזתו ית' שבו השרה שכינתו ובעונותינו נמכר הבית ביד האומות, וכמאמרם ז'ל (מדרש תהלים עט) בפירוש פסוק מזמור לאסף באו גוים וגו', והודיע הכתוב כי גאולתו היא ביד הצדיק אשר יהיה קרוב לה' על דרך אומרו (לעיל י ג) בקרובי אקדש, הוא יגאל ממכר אחיו, כי האדון ב'ה יקרא לצדיקים אח כביכול דכתיב (תהלים קכב) 'למען אחי ורעי', והגאולה תהיה בהעיר לבות בני אדם ויאמר להם הטוב לכם כי תשבו חוץ גולים מעל שלחן אביכם ומה יערב לכם החיים בעולם זולת החברה העליונה אשר הייתם סמוכים סביב לשלחן אביכם הוא אלהי עולם ב'ה לעד, וימאיס בעיניו תאוות הנדמים ויעירם בחשק הרוחני גם נרגש לבעל נפש כל חי עד אשר יטיבו מעשיהם, ובזה יגאל השם ממכרו, ועל זה עתידין ליתן את הדין כל אדוני הארץ גדולי ישראל ומהם יבקש ה' עלבון הבית העלוב.

The Kuzari [5/27] expresses a similar sentiment:

This sacred place serves to remind men and to stimulate them to love God, being a reward and promise, as it is written: 'You shall arise and have mercy upon Zion, for the time to favor her, the set time is come. For your servants take pleasure in her stones and embrace the dust thereof'. This means that Jerusalem can only be rebuilt when Israel yearns for it to such an extent that they embrace her stones and dust.

Man Vs. Animal

An animal is called a בהמה because בה-מה - what you see is what you get. No potential. No significant development. No dog going to Harvard [even though I wouldn't consider that something to strive for even for one of us - but that's besides the point]. No mouse writing a book on Physics. 

But a human is complete potential. Hence he is called "אדם" - from the אדמה which produces fruits. Man's task is to constantly expand his potential for future achievement. If it is just about [today the popular phrase it "it's about..." so I use it:-)] who you are now when that is where the animals are holding as well. The here and now. But with man there is a whole future. 

When one kills an animal he just killed the present. When one kills a human being [G-d forbid] he kills the entire future development of this אדם.  

What Is Greatness ?

How does one measure greatness? Is it based on the number of pages of gemara someone learned? How long his shmoneh esrei is? How many times he can wrap his peyos around his ears?? 


Greatness is measured by how much one is connected to the KLAL - the greater community. 

Not Getting Crushed

Sometimes we have spiritual desires that exceed our natural abilities. This can cause a great emotional crisis in our lives when we appreciate the gap between our desires and the reality of our capabilities. 

When you compare yourself to great people and realize that you just don't have the stuff it takes to reach such heights, it can be PAINFUL. 

The solution is not to minimize one's strivings and desires but rather to find a balance between being satisfied with what you have and at the same time constantly striving for more. This way you will remain happy while at the same time aspiring for more. 

The Sha'agas Ayeh - Make Sure People Don't Suspect You

Yesterday [כ"ה תמוז] was the yahrtzeit of the Shaagas Aryeh zt"l. 

Here is a story told about him by Rav Nosson Geshtetner ztz"l:

שרה אורה בת שרה

Please daven for Sarah Orah Bas Sarah who was diagnosed with cancer. 

Immersing Aluminum And Electric Pans

From "halacha yomit". 

[Note - Copying over the halacha does mean that necessarily I agree or that you should necessarily follow what it says. If you have a shyla you can speak to those who know. I post it להגדיל תורה and not because it is necessarily what I think....Keep in mind that this is written by and for our holy Sefardic brothers and sisters].

In previous Halachot, we have explained that vessels purchased from a non-Jew, such as those produced outside of Israel, require immersion in a Mikveh before using them. We have also discussed which types of vessels require immersion and which do not. We shall now continue discussing this topic.

Regarding plastic vessels, we have already mentioned in previous Halachot that the reason earthenware and clay vessels are exempt from immersion is because when the Torah discusses this obligation in reference to the vessels of Midyan, only metal vessels were included in this commandment. The Gemara tells us that Rav Ashi says that since when glass is broken, it may be repaired by melting it down and forming it into a vessel, it shares the same law as metals. We see then that according to our Sages, glass vessels must likewise be immersed. Based on this, it would seem that the same should apply to plastic vessels; since they can be melted down and formed into vessels, they should be comparable to glass and require immersion in a Mikveh.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that since glass only requires immersion by virtue of a rabbinic enactment and not by Torah law, only a substance that existed during the times of our Sages can be included in the enactment requiring them to be immersed. Plastic, however, which did not yet exist in the times of our Sages cannot be included in this enactment although they are indeed similar to glass vessels in this aspect. On the other hand, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss zt”l, head of the rabbinical court of the Eidah Ha’Charedit, rules in his responsa that plastic vessels indeed require immersion. Nonetheless, he later writes (in his Responsa Minchat Yitzchak, Volume 4) that after seeing the opinion of Maran zt”l, he has changed his mind and now rules in accordance with Maran zt”l that plastic vessels do not require immersion in a Mikveh and they may be used immediately after purchasing them.

Regarding porcelain vessels and dishes, the Sefer Kenesset Ha’Gedolah (authored by Hagaon Harav Chaim Benbenishti zt”l, pupil of Hagon Harav Yosef of Tarani, who lived approximately four-hundred years ago) writes that the custom is to absolve them of immersion, for only vessels which are actually glass and are able to be repaired by melting them down and forming them into vessels require immersion since they are similar to metals; however, since porcelain vessels cannot be repaired once they are broken, they are similar to wooden and earthenware vessels which do not require immersion.

Therefore, porcelain vessels (i.e. genuine porcelain; not all glazed earthenware or china vessels or dishes are considered porcelain) do not require immersion and one may be lenient and use them immediately after buying them.

We will now discuss the law regarding disposable aluminum vessels (such as pans, cookie sheets, and the like) and whether or not they require immersion in a Mikveh.

We find a similar discussion regarding the Mitzvah of Kiddush on Shabbat which must be recited on a cup of wine. The Poskim discuss whether or not a disposable cup can be considered a “vessel” regarding this matter. If a disposable cup is considered a “vessel” regarding Kiddush, it should follow that the same is true regarding immersion in a Mikveh. If so, disposable aluminum vessels would halachically require immersion.

Maran zt”l discusses this topic in his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat (Volume 2) and he concludes that disposable cups are indeed valid for the Mitzvah of Kiddush according to the letter of the law as they are indeed considered “vessels” and the same would hold true regarding the status of disposable vessels with regards to immersion in a Mikveh. Nevertheless, Maran zt”l adds that since there are several Poskim who differentiate between the laws of Kiddush and immersion, such vessels should be immersed without reciting a blessing in order to avoid a possible blessing in vain.

We must nevertheless point out that many aluminum vessels produced in Israel are not produced by non-Jews; rather, they are manufactured by Jewish companies. Even regarding aluminum vessels produces outside of Israel, there is indeed basis to exempt them from immersion in a Mikveh, for aluminum was a metal which was not yet discovered in earlier generations and the Torah does not delineate an explicit commandment to immerse aluminum. Maran zt”l himself uses this rationale to rule leniently on an unrelated matter (regarding the laws of impurity of a corpse, see Chazon Ovadia-Avelut, Part 2). He quotes that Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l rules likewise. Thus, one need not protest vehemently against those who customarily use such disposable aluminum vessels without first immersing them in a Mikveh, for they indeed have on whom to rely (this is especially true if one is unsure if the owner of the company is Jewish or not).

An Electric Kettle

The Poskim disagree whether or not an electric kettle requires immersion, for we have a rule that anything attached to the ground does not require immersion in a Mikveh since a vessel which cannot become impure does not require immersion and anything attached to the ground cannot become impure. Thus, several Poskim, including Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l,write that since the primary usage of an electric kettle is when it is plugged into the outlet, it is considered attached to the ground and does not require immersion. However, halachically speaking, even Hagaon Harav Auerbach did not wish to rely on this reason alone to exempt electric kettles from immersion, for they are used even when they are not connected to the outlet.

Indeed, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that it is preferable to act stringently and immerse an electric kettle in the Mikveh. If one is worried that immersing it in water will ruin it, one should give it to a non-Jew as a gift and then ask him to lend it back to him, for one who borrows or rents a vessel from a non-Jew need not immerse the vessel since he has not purchased them fully and this is no longer comparable to the vessels of Midyan which the Jewish nation took full ownership of. [My not: If the goy thinks you are weird - don't worry about it.:-)]  

Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach adds another way to exempt the electric kettle from immersion and that is by giving it to a licensed Jewish electrician who will then take it apart in a professional manner that not just anyone could try at home. The electrician should then put it back together and this will be considered as though one had purchased the kettle from a Jew and it will not require immersion.


Summary: Disposable aluminum vessels produced outside of Israel require immersion in a Mikveh without a blessing. (Some rule leniently on this matter.) An electric kettle likewise requires immersion without a blessing. One can exempt it from immersion by giving it as a gift to a non-Jew and then asking the non-Jew to lend it back to him. Another way to exempt the kettle from immersion is by having a Jewish electrician take it apart in a professional manner and then putting it back together again.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Woman's Role - Part 6

It is assumed by many that today things have changed. Woman are no longer the weak creatures they once were who need the strength of  man to keep them going. Today women are strong, educated and independent. There was a saying popularized in the 60's when the feminist movement took off [led of course, by Jews - as is just about every movement except for Nazism]: "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle".

I never knew how much fish needed bicycles...

The reality is that society has changed but a woman's basic nature has not. 

Let me illustrate. Sheryl Sandburg is by all accounts a very strong, independent, free thinking, outspoken woman. She is the COO of Facebook and she has over a billion more dollars than either of us. Power, prestige, influence and, the most important in our crrrrazzzzy world - MONEY!!!

What does she lack??

Ask her. She would tell you that she lacks her husband who suddenly died in 2015 and would give up her job, prestige and money to have him back. She describes him as being her "rock", a strong person who was there for her whenever she needed him. She gets teary eyed in front of millions of people talking about him.  

Facebook, Shmacebook. She remains a woman and a woman needs a strong man. She wrote a book about dealing with her loss and grief. She speaks of how shattered she was and how hard it was to continue. What gives her strength to move on is - here is another womanly attribute - her children. Now she is actively looking for another husband because a woman needs a man like fish needs water. And a man without a woman is not a person!! [Yevamos 63] 

The healthiest thing for society would be to encourage women to cultivate their feminine traits and to let the men be men. This world needs manly, masculine men and feminine women. 

It is bad for everyone when gender lines are blurred.

This doesn't mean that men shouldn't help take care of their children or cook meals or women shouldn't go to medical school. But it does mean that by being who one is and not who society dictates that they should be is a great boon to mental health and personal satisfaction.  

The Use Of Language - Part 3

Another misleading use of language is when people are called "very religious" or "really frum". Very often, this is just a description of their external appearance. If a man is wearing black and white, with a black hat, beard and peyos or a woman has her hair completely covered and is wearing long sleeves with a long skirt and high neckline, the assumption is that they are very pious. 

Sometimes this is true. Other times, it is not. 

There are countless middos and mitzvos and wearing a certain type of clothing doesn't cover the entire gamut but is rather a tiny minuscule fraction of what is required of a person [sometimes - it is not even required]. 

Middos - honesty, care, compassion, empathy, patience, anger, generosity, warmth, arrogance, humility, desires [food, women etc.], jealously, simplicity, gratitude, sensitivity, orderliness, cleanliness, calm, focused etc. etc. etc. Every person is on a different scale on every individual middah and only G-d knows where they are holding.

The same goes with mitzvos. Some people are more lax about wearing tzitzis but are extremely careful about honoring their parents. Some people are super careful about keeping Shabbos but speak lashon hara or waste a lot of time they could have spent learning. 

You can have a simple Jew who has a bigger heart and is more generous than a great Rosh Yeshiva who is far greater in Torah learning. I have a friend who is very lax about much of what it says in the Mishna Brura but is far more kind hearted and generous than a lot of people I know who wear black hats and walk around with a Mishna Brura [or the like] in hand. 

You can have a clean shaven guy, accountant, rabid Knicks fan, who never gets angry, while a big Rav with a long beard who never wastes his time with the frivolities of the NBA occasionally lets off steam on innocent members of his family. 

One guy never misses a minyan but he often misses his wife's birthday while another misses a lot of minyanim but EVERY DAY he makes his wife feel as if she were the queen of the universe. 

Who is greater? Who can ever know all of a person's deeds and thoughts? 

Nobody except for Him. 

Life has taught me that externals are important but often misleading.  

Please Daven


I heard that a study was conducted where they checked the health situation of parents who had to establish boundaries for their children. They discovered that the feeling was as someone who was about to have a heart attack. 

Meaning - the parents felt powerless and sick. 

We live in a generation where the boundaries are falling everywhere. 

That is Facebook and twitter. Everybody wants to follow and be followed every second of the day. 

No boundaries.

The most important thing to establish in every relationship is boundaries. Not too close - but never too far. 

Big topic. Once gave a long lecture about it. 

Then I retired [or was retired:-)].

Gotta run:-). 

Link - Do Something For Your Late Bubbe

I cannot tell you what a zchus it is to release these divrei Torah. 

Sponsors always welcome. Schar in this world and the principle remains in the next world. Win-win. Sure thing. Investment of a lifetime. Raise the neshama of a loved one. They are probably up there in shomayim wondering how come we aren't doing more for their neshamos.... Heck, it is good for YOUR neshama. And that of the tens of thousands [slightly exaggerated:-)] of readers. is the place to go. 

The Use Of Language - Part 2

I once read that a mechaneches said that when speaking to girls about tzniyus one should never use the word "sin" or "aveirah".   

I don't understand why not. One should of course stress the positive of how elevated a woman is when she dresses like the holy Bas Melech she is but that is often not enough. 

Why can't we just say that something is wrong and immoral?? 

We live in a post-modern world when there is almost no such thing as wrong and immoral, only illegal. But as the people who gave humanity the concept it has of morality, I see no reason why we should not continue using that language. Does Hashem Himself not?? 

See the "Tanach". 

The Use Of Language

The words we use have a powerful effect on our actions, outlook and beliefs.

Let me give an example: "She is more modern". What does this mean? SOMETIMES it means that she doesn't really care about what is spiritual and holy and prefers instead what is comfortable or feels good. So if she wears a short skirt then she is "modern". 

No she is not. She is sinful and causes others to sin as well. When she walks down the street [this won't sound nice but it's true] she puts a wedge between a man and his wife [not to mention between him and G-d]. How? A married man sees her, is aroused and then thinks about his less attractive [I would use other words for attractive but this is a Torah blog and I try my best to use clean language] wife and is turned off. Why? Because he saw the more "modern" girl's flesh. How is he now going to relate to his wife??  

Is she evil? I don't like to brand people reshaim and I also prefer to assume that people don't have nefarious intentions. But she is definitely doing something wrong. 

Who died and appointed me king or G-d? Nobody. I am not judging. But G-d [the real one] told us how to behave, what is sinful behavior and what is not.

Some people don't believe in G-d or in His Torah רח"ל. With them I would have a different conversation than the one I am presently having with you. I am referring to people who believe but call themselves "modern" in order to allow themselves a more permissive lifestyle. 

Or a guy calls himself "modern". What does that mean? He watches movies. That is not "modern", that is contaminating and polluting his mind and soul, being an ingrate for the gift of sight that G-d gave him and using it against G-d's wishes. It is destroying his marriage because no normal wife can compete with all of the beauties he sees onscreen in various forms of dress and undress [I haven't watched a movie in decades and still believe that watching PG movies in the 1970's and 80's has had a deletorious effect on my marriage]. It is someone who undermines the very foundation of his avodas Hashem, all of his davening, learning and chesed for a few minutes of feeble viewing pleasure. The middah of sexual purity is called "yesod" [foundation] and if there is no yesod the whole structure collapses. [Not to mention the time wasted burning brain cells that could be used in productive activity]. 

I am not referring to people who are called "modern" because they wear colored shirts, a kippah sruga or have a job. There is nothing wrong with all of the above [it is actually a mitzva to work, wear a kippah and all of my shirts are also colored - they are just colored white. But that is only so because it matches so well with the black suit I wear daily]. I am referring to people who willingly sin and justify it by giving themselves a label. It could be "modern", "Modern Orthodox", "Centrist Orthodox" or any other term. Jews in Bnei Brak and Scarsdale, in Kiryat Sefer and New Rochelle have to follow the same G-d and keep the same Torah. Rav Shteinman is no more Jewish than a lawyer from Engelwood. 

In Israel there is a term called "החרדי החדש". What does this mean? It means that he doesn't have to learn seriously anymore. His wife can wear shorter skirts and tighter clothing than she did as a Beis Yaakov girl. They can go out to restaurants that are frequented by people far from G-d and spirituality, they travel to exotic locations on vacations where they would not go as a חרדי ישן - old fashioned Charedi.  

Calling yourself חרדי חדש doesn't make G-d any less present or permit any sins. It doesn't free a person from the obligation to watch his eyes, to be makpid on learning and davening etc. But people have this label so they feel that now that are in this new category the rules changed. Just as calling oneself "Reform" doesn't permit chilul Shabbos or intermarriage even though a Reform Jew migh think it does. "I am Reform so I am permitted to drive on Saturday". Maybe - but only if your mother isn't Jewish. 

Now that I have successfully alienated many readers I must make a CRITICAL POINT!

Some people don't know any better. Nebuch. It is not their fault and I am not talking about them.

Other people are well meaning and are trying their best. Dressing modestly is a challenge for many women - especially in the summer. Shmiras Einayim for men is an extremely challenging test. Is there a man alive who can say that he hasn't had an improper thought in his life? In the last month?? In the last half hour??? Not many. NOBODY IS PERFECT. My point is that just because we are all going to fail doesn't mean that we shouldn't be trying our best.  However, due to the cognitive dissonance one experiences when not doing what is right, there is a tendency to create a new philosophy, language and label in order to justify what has always been known as wrong and improper behavior. [Such as the movement to grant legitimacy to Homosexuality. Being attracted to men doesn't permit one to have sex with one. But many Jews who experience same-sex attraction want a stamp of approval. Only G-d can grant that and He hasn't. Li-havdil, it is like when I hear people talking about "forgiving" the Nazis. We would need all six million and their families to do that].  

Hashem loves and values EVERY ONE OF US - Modern, Yeshivish, Charedi, Chasidic, Open Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. We are equally capable of becoming as spiritual and pure as we can. Our obligation is to never give up, always strive upwards, never forget why we are here on earth and if we fall - dust ourselves off and get right back up. 

With love, simcha and a sense of purpose. 


Everything From Hashem

Sfas Emes blog

The Midrash[1] teaches that there are two ways a person can have wealth. He can receive a gift from heaven or he can grab it for himself. A gift from heaven lasts. When he grabs it for himself it is likely to be taken from him. The Midrash gives examples. Korach and Haman were wealthy yet, not only did their wealth not last, they too, were destroyed.

The Sfas Emes has difficulty with this Midrash. Does not everything come from God? What then is the difference between a gift from heaven and a gift that one grabs for himself?

The answer is alluded to this very same Midrash. The Midrash says that when the gift comes as a result of the strength of the Torah, it survives. The strength of the Torah permeates the entire world. The Zohar[2] teaches that God created the world with the Torah. Therefore, of course, a person’s wealth exists through the power of the Torah that inheres in it. Everything exists due to the power of the Torah within.

The difference between a gift of heaven and a gift that one grabs can only be in a person’s own attitude towards it. As long as we understand and internalize the knowledge that what is ours is a result of the power of the Torah, it survives. When we forget this and begin to believe in the effectiveness of our own actions, we are on dangerous ground.

The tribes of Gad and Reuven were involved with their cattle and flocks to the extent that they were unwilling to enter the land of Israel. They believed in the effectiveness of their own actions. Had they entered the land they would have merited their portion in the land and the portion that they received on the eastern bank of the Jordan River. Instead, they lost everything. Reuven and Gad were the first tribes to be exiled.[3]

Practical Application

We understand intellectually that everything comes from God. Applying this understanding to our daily lives is difficult. The Sfas Emes implies, though, that the difficulty is because we do not internalize this idea. It remains outside of us. Because we do not internalize it, when we are under pressure we tend to forget and then we act, like the children of Gad and Reuven, as if our actions can be effective while leaving God out of the picture.

So, our work is to internalize the fact that everything we have is from God and will survive specifically because of our undying faith that this is true. When this understanding informs our approach to situations and decisions, we know that we need not fear loss.

[1] Bamidbar R. 22:7
[2] Zohar 1:5a Introduction
[3] Divrei Hayamim A 5:26

במדרש חוטפין להם כו'. אף שכל דבר הוא רק מהשי"ת. רק מדייק בזמן שבא בכח התורה כו'. אבל אח"כ נשכח זאת באדם. ועי"ז אין לו קיום. כי כפי מה שזוכרין שהוא מהשי"ת זה קיומו. וז'"ש מקנה רב הי' כו':

Everything Lishem Shomayim

לרפואת גולדה בת אסתר ומרים בת שושנה 

Sfas Emes blog 

The beginning of parshas Matos details the laws of vows. The first Midrash on the parsha teaches us that not just anybody is permitted to take a vow.[1] The prerequisite traits that are needed before a person may take a vow are derived from a pasuk in Devarim (10:20), “אֶת־ה' אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ תִּירָא אֹתוֹ תַעֲבֹד וּבוֹ תִדְבָּק וּבִשְׁמוֹ תִּשָּׁבֵעַ/You shall fear God your Lord, serve Him and cling to Him, and swear by His name.” The Midrash says that to take a vow one must be God-fearing like Avraham Avinu, Iyov and Yosef whom the Torah refers to as God-fearing. One must serve God through Torah and mitzvos to the exclusion of all else. Finally, one must cling to God.

Regarding the last required trait of clinging to God the Midrash asks, “How is it possible to cling to the Shechina?” The Torah calls God a consuming fire[2]. Is it possible for a physical being to connect to a consuming fire? The Sfas Emes elucidates the Midrash’s question. He explains that it is based on the premise that connecting to God involves distancing oneself from the physical, since God is far removed from physicality. The Midrash notes the difficulty with this direct approach to clinging to God. The Midrash answers that the only way a physical being can connect to God, is indirectly, through activity in this world. We connect to God in this world when our actions are done for His sake. 

This explains how we can experience God in this world but why must a person’s every action be done for the sake of Heaven in order to take vows? What is the connection between dedicating our actions to God and taking vows? Understanding the nature of vows will shed light on this question. A vow is a verbal expression of a person’s desire to do a given action. The Torah gives such a declaration the status of a legal commitment. Chazal tell us that vows can be used as a tool to encourage us in the performance of mitzvos.[3]

Avraham Avinu, Iyov and Yosef, the people the Torah explicitly refers to as God-fearing, were on a level at which awe of God permeated and motivated their every action. Everything they did was for His sake. Since everything they did increased God’s glory in this world, every one of their actions, even the most mundane, was transformed into a mitzvah.

The Midrash is teaching us that when all of a person’s activities are for the sake of Heaven, when one’s desires and God’s will are in complete alignment, he has transformed his actions into mitzvos. It is appropriate for this person to declare his desire, which mirrors God’s will, in the form of a vow. 

However, for many of us, our desires are not totally aligned with God’s will. Our actions may be motivated by other factors such as personal desires. These actions are not mitzvos. It is thus not appropriate to declare such desires as vows. What can we do to align our desires with God’s? The Sfas Emes advises us to work on performing our routine daily activities because we need to (e.g. we need to eat to live) rather than because we desire to. This is the first step in aligning our actions with God’s will. May we merit it. Amen!

ב"ה מטות בקיצור במדרש ונשבעת כו' אם יש בך מדות הללו כאותן שנקראו יראי ה' כו' האיך אפשר להדבק בשכינה כו' ע"ש. פי' שנקראו שמם על היראה ע"כ שהיראה עיקר פנימיותם שאין בהם מקום בלי יראתו ית'. א"כ גם דבר רשות שלהם מצוה הוא. וז"ש יהיו בך כל המדות כו' בך דייקא לא בדרך ידיעה חיצונית רק להיות כל מעשה בהתקשרות חיות פנימיות מהשי"ת. וזהו עיקר פי' יראה פנימיות. וז"ש ובו תדבק שאין הפי' ע"י פרישות. כי מצד עצם הפרישות הלא אש אוכלה כו'. רק ע"י שיהי' כל מעשה גשמיות ג"כ רק לשם שמים. זהו ההתקרבות אליו ית'. וז"ש אל ראשי המטות ג"כ הפי' שמטין הכל להפנימיות שמקרבין כל דבר לשורשו. וכן בפשיטות האבות הם שורש והתחלה והשבטים ההתפשטות וראשי המטות הם שמחברין כלל ישראל בשורש הי"ב שבטים שדבקין בההתחלה כנ"ל. ושבועה ונדר הוא הסכמה ברצון האדם כנודע וזה לא צריך להיות רק לדבר מצוה. אבל מי שאין דברי רשות שלו לשם שמים בלבד אין לעשותו בהסכם וכוונה פנימיות רק עפ"י ההכרח:

גולדה בת אסתר

A three month old child was airlifted from the Catskills after she stopped breathing on Tuesday evening.

Catskills Hatzolah requested the Medevac at around 8:30 to land at the Fallsburg High School to fly the child to Westchester Hospital.

Please be Mispallel for Golda Bas Esther.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

מרים בת שושנה

A child is in critical condition after she was pulled from a swimming pool in Pomona (near Monsey) on Tuesday afternoon.

Rockland Hatzolah rushed the 7 year old child who was reportedly in cardiac arrest to the hospital.

Please say Tehillim for Miriam bas Shoshana.

A Woman's Role - Part 5

עולא אקלע לבי רב נחמן כריך ריפתא, בריך ברכת מזונא יהב ליה כסא דברכתא לרב נחמן. אמר ליה רב נחמן לישדר מר כסא דברכתא לילתא. אמר ליה הכי אמר רבי יוחנן אין פרי בטנה של אשה מתברך אלא מפרי בטנו של איש שנאמר (דברים ז, יג) "וברך פרי בטנך" פרי בטנה לא נאמר אלא פרי בטנך. תניא נמי הכי, רבי נתן אומר מניין שאין פרי בטנה של אשה מתברך אלא מפרי בטנו של איש שנאמר "וברך פרי בטנך" - פרי בטנה לא נאמר אלא פרי בטנך. אדהכי שמעה ילתא קמה בזיהרא ועלתה לבי חמרא ותברא ארבע מאה דני דחמרא. אמר ליה רב נחמן נשדר לה מר כסא אחרינא. שלח לה כל האי נבגא דברכתא היא. שלחה ליה ממהדורי מילי ומסמרטוטי כלמי. [ברכות נ"א:] 

UIla was once at the house of R. Nachman. They had a meal and he bentched, and he handed the cup of bracha to R. Nachman. R. Nachman said to him: Please send the cup of bracha to Yaltha [his wife]. He said to him: Thus said R. Yochanan: The fruit of a woman's body is blessed only from the fruit of a man's body, since it says, "He will also bless the fruit of your body". It does not say the fruit of her body, but the fruit of your [i.e. the man] body. It has been taught similarly: From where do we know that the fruit of a woman's body is only blessed from the fruit of a man's body? Because it says: He will also bless the fruit of your body. It does not say the fruit of her body, but the fruit of your body. Meanwhile Yaltha heard and she got up with anger and went to the wine storage place and broke four hundred jars of wine. R. Nachman said to him: Let the Master [i.e. Ulla] send her another cup. He sent it to her with a message: All that wine [from the barrels] can be counted as a benediction. She returned answer: Gossip comes from peddlars and vermin from rags.

This gemara is quite puzzling for many reasons which we won't enumerate. 

The Rav ztz"l explains [I thank my beloved chavrusa R' Aharon Feit Shlita for helping me understand the Rav's words] that Ulla believed that a woman's job is to receive from the man, so if he is blessed then she is blessed. Therefore there is no reason to give her the כוס של ברכה if her husband already drank from it. 

Yalta felt VERY STRONGLY that this isn't always so and at times the man needs the input and blessings of the woman. 

Even after Yalta's powerful protest, Ulla continued to maintain that she not drink from the כוס של ברכה so he sent her wine from the barrels.

She explained in graphic terms that he was incorrect and without a woman - things don't work. Ulla, said Yalta, is like a traveling salesman who is often away from his family and thus doesn't fully comprehend family matters as does his wife [ממהדורי מילי]. We also need her aesthetic input, otherwise lice will grow [ומסמרטוטי כלמי].  

This was recorded in the gemara because BOTH Ulla and Yalta are correct. Yes, a woman must must receive from the man. But it is also true that he times it is the man who needs the woman. There are certain special women who have a tremendous amount to actively contribute and not just receive. 

It is better צו קיקן אינווייניג - to look inside.  

בהיות הוראת כוס הברכה הוא על יסוד הרחבת החיים והנהגתם ע"פ השלימות השכלית, ראוי לחוק בזה רושם קיים שתהי' הנהגת כל בית בישראל מתנהגת ע"פ דעתו המקורית של האיש, והאשה תמלא ברגשותיה הטהורות אל המטרה שיציב הבעל החכם המקורי, ואיזוהי אשה כשרה שעושה רצון בעלה . ואף שיש מקום לדון כי המצויינות ביותר ממין הנשים, ראוי להן שתקחנה חלק בהנהגה לפי מושגיהן הפנימיות, סבר עולא כי ראוי להרשים בחותם ההלכה את היסוד הראוי בהנהגת רוב המין. וזהו תמיד שלימותו של הפרט בהיותו נכלל עם הכלל עם שימצא בו הצטיינות באופן מופלא. ילתא אמנם בהיותה בת הנשיא, מגודלת בטכסיסי מלכות וגדולה ומצויינת בשאר רוחה, סברה שראוי לתן מקום להנהגה של האשה לפי רגשותיה בדברים הנאותים ביותר אל הרגש, מבלי התלות על מקוריות האיש. ע"כ בהיותה עסוקה בהשפעתה על הכלל לפי שטתה בתהלוכות הנהגת הנשיאות, חשבה מחאת עולא לרבת ערך על שלטונה ותעודתה שהציבה לה לחינוך הבנות, וערכן בהנהגה כללית למצויינות מהנה. ע"כ עלתה לבי חמרא, ותברא, להורות שלטונה הבלתי תלוי באישה ג"כ, וכי יש מקום לה ג"כ לדון לפי עומק הרגש המיוחד למינה, בתור מנהגת עיקרית לא רק נטפלת. ור"נ להפיס דעתה בקש אמנם לשלח לה כסא אחרינא, להוראה שעם שבכלל צדק עולא ע"פ מוסדי ההלכה הכוללת, אפשר ג"כ להמצא אשה גברת ראויה להנהגה עיקרית בהרחבת החיים ע"פ יסוד השלימות השכלית, המכוון בכוס של ברכה. עולא אמנם רצה להשריש כי עם כל הצטינות אשת החיל בכשרון רוחה, היא נוטה אל הרגש שמבלעדי השכל א"א לו להיות יסוד בהנהגה, ע"כ לעולם ראוי שתכיר האשה עכ"פ גם את הצטיינותה בתור מערכה שני' אם לא נטפלת לגמרי. ע"כ בשלח לה כסא אחרינא לא חזר משיטתו, כ"א שלח לה כל כ"ה נבגא דברכתא הוא, בתור מערכה שני' נגד מערכה השכלית, כערך הכוס השני אחר הכוס-של-ברכה העצמי, ראוי להכיר יתרון האשה המצויינת. ע"כ אין מקום להזניח צד היתרון של האיש והוראת ההטפלה של האשה. היא אמנם השיגה, שישנם מקצועות הגונים בעולם המוסרי, שרק ביד האשה להנהיגן באופן מבורך וטוב לפני ד'. כי הנה חיי המשפחה בהיותו הולך באופן טוב והגון ע"י השכלות האשה וטוב לבבה, יפעול הרכה על שלילת מצבים מוסרים רעים שיש להם מקום במי שחיי המשפ חה שלו אינם על מלואותם. ע"כ אמרה ממהדורי, הבלתי חיים חיי משפחה תמידית, מילי, יצמחו דיעות בלתי נאותות ע"פ השקפותיהם הבלתי טבעיות. ומי מכיר בהוד חיי המשפחה כאשת החיל טובת השכל שהיא יסוד הבית, והיא תוכל בשכלה ושלטונה להסיר את ה"מילים" הרעים והפרעות שמסובבות ע"י החיים הפרועים של המהדורי שאין חיי הבית שלהם עומד על טבעו הנאה. ומה שנוגע לרגש, הלא האשה בעלת הרגש מטבעה, ראוי להוקיר הדרכתה לא רק בתור מרחבת ומפנקת את חוש היופי של האדם, כ"א משמרתו מניוול האפשרי לבא ע"י שפלות ידים של השגחה על ההנהגה הביתית. ומטמרטוטי, הבגדים הקרועים שמבזין את לובשיהן מצד עצמם, עוד יוסיפו בוז בהיות הגיעול מתוסף בהם בטבעם, בעזוב האדם הנקיות וסידור היופי שאי אפשר להבנות כ"א ע"י אשה צופיה הליכות ביתה. ובהיות האדם אובד את רגשו להיופי יוכל לבא עד הדיוטא התחתונה של ביזוי וגיעול, עד שגם הוד המוסר והדרת החכמה ונועם כל נשגב בדעת ויראת ד' לא יקחו לבבו כראוי. ע"כ ראוי לחשוב את המצויינת שבנשים לעיקרית בההנהגה הכללית, ולא לעשותה רק טפילה. ובאשר יש פנים גם לדבר זה באופן מצויין, נכתב למטרה זו החזיון הזה, במכתב אלקים חרות על לוח התלמוד הקדוש.


Image result for mitch albom death quotes


Image result for mitch albom death quotes

Fleeting Existence

Modern technology makes the world into a global village. I just found out that an old friend of mine from yeshiva suddenly passed away. I hadn't heard about him in about 30 years and then suddenly - BOOM - gone from this world. 

This is of course a huuuuge tragedy [he left a wife plus 5]. It also makes me wonder when my turn is. I don't know but I DO know that I also have a "due date" and better get my act together. What can really shake a person is the knowledge that no person on earth can guarantee that he or she will be alive in ONE SECOND from now. 

The most important thing to remember is to spread love. 

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The Passing Of A Gadol

Recently the great Gaon Rav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein was niftar. What made the loss especially painful was that he was never zocheh to have children. 

He was a close talmid of Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Rav Yitzchak Hutner and Rav Yechezkel Sarna among others. He wrote some very important sefarim both on Shas and on Chumash. He went to America in 1979 for fertility treatments. He was there for about a year and a half [I believe]. What did he do when he was there? He prepared the shiurim of Rav Chaim for publication and thanks to him we have the UNBELIEVABLE "Shaarei Chaim" on Kiddushin and Gittin [if you haven't learned it then you haven't truly experienced the pleasures of olam hazeh. Ksubos has since been published as well].

I heard in one of the hespedim that when he was married in 1970, Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz spoke and said that he hasn't seen such a mevakesh in 40 years. [And who was the previous mevakesh 40 years ago? HaGaon Rav Leib Mallin ztz"l] 

It is interesting: Rashi in his commentary to Avos [1,1] says that Moshe gave the Torah to Yehoshua and not to Elazar [the son of Aharon] or Pinchas or the 70 elders who prophecied because ....

.... שלא רצה למוסרה אלא למי שהיה ממית עצמו מנעוריו באהלי החכמה וקנה שם טוב בעולם וזהו יהושע שנאמר "יהושע בן נון נער לא ימיש מתוך האהל" ואעפ"י שכתוב על פינחס תורת אמת היתה בפיהו עכ"ל. 

He KILLED himself in the tent of Torah from his youth and had a good name as it says "Yehoshua bin Nun the lad did not leave the tent of Torah" etc. 

Now Yehoshua was 56 at the time he was called a lad [Ibn Ezra Shmos 33/11] yet he still had the quality of a young person, constantly striving for more.

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz has a famous shmooz [about to become more famous] where he talks about the importance of being a mevakesh. He proves that Yehoshua was originally very "low ranked" among the Talmidei Chachomim of the generation but thanks to his never ending toil and thirst for Torah he became so great. Rav Shmuel Yaakov was a TREMENDOUS mevakesh

 A talmid once came to him to share his problems. Rav Shmuel Yaakov said "look, my relatives have beautiful families and I am childless. They have health and I am sickly. But I have the sefarim I wrote. You have to be happy with what you have". And he in fact was a person who was מלא שמחה - FILLED with joy.  

We should follow in his ways.....

Here is a piece of his Torah. After you read this you will want to hear so much more from the niftar ztz"l. He explains the gemara that says that in the second luchos it says the word טוב [in the pasuk למען ייטב לך]. This teaches us that it lasts [because what is טוב lasts] and that shows that the second luchos never shattered [in the first luchos it didn't say טוב and they were shattered]. But why is this lesson taught specifically in the דיברה of כיבוד אב ואם?: