Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Please Help Me:I want Yaakov and Leah to be legally married

Marriage [like any other kinyan] requires intent. If the person did not acquire what he thought he was acquiring the act of purchase is null and void. "Mekach taus" in rabbinic terminology.

So, dear friends, how was Yaakov married to Leah??? He thought he was getting Rochel. Yet, the Torah indicates clearly that they were married. [I saw what the Chizkuni said but I have trouble with his pshat.]

Please Help Me.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Please Attend

Dearest Friends

Please attend a Tehillim Rally for my precious friend Dovid Yifrach Ben Freeda at the Rubin Hall Beis Medrash in YU this wed. night at 9:40 pm [dvar torah] followed by tehillim at 10:00 pm.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please Help Me:Hebrew Is My Favorite Language #30

The Torah [Five Books of Moses] is written in Hebrew. In this weeks parsha Lavan calls the monument "Yagar Sahadusa". ARAMAIC. Why does the Torah choose to write these words in Aramaic even though normally even if words were said in a different language the Torah tells us what happened in Hebrew?

Please help me.

Please Help Me:I Am Not A Seedy Fellow #29

Rashi [Pesachim 25a] says that one transgresses the prohibition of kilayim only AFTER the forbidden seed that he placed in the ground takes root.

But on Shabbos one transgresses the prohibition of planting the moment he places the seed in the ground even BEFORE it takes root.

Please Help Me.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Change In Focus

Yeshiva University is a great institution. It affords the student an oppourtunity to study Torah at a high level while at the same time receiving a college education.

Recently a number students complained to me that most of the conversations that take place among many of the students concern either: Money, Girls or Lashon Hara. This is very disturbing. Many of these same young men only a short time ago were in Yeshiva in Israel immersed in Ruchniyus.

Now it could be that they meant that people are discussing Dinei Mammonos, Seder Nashim, and Sefer Shmiras Halashon.

Maybe. But since many of those who walk down the "Alleyways" are YU students I was very interested in hearing your comments. [Not ONLY willworkforfood. All are invited to to offer their perspective.]

Friday, November 24, 2006

Toldos:Bless You - Not Just For Sneezers

A recurring theme in Sefer Beraishis is BRACHOS. Hashem blesses the Adam and Chava. Then he repeatedly blesses the Avos. The Avos themselves bless their children. In this weeks parsha we see how important the bracha of Yitzchak was to both Yaakov and Eisav.The entire sefer concludes with Yaakov blessing his children and grandchildren.

We are exhorted to walk in the ways of Hashem. Chazal also famously teach that everyone should say "Masai Yageu maasai Lmaasay avosai" - When will my deeds be like those of my forefathers. What a wonderful way to emulate the Holy ones - bless a Jew!! Also it costs nothing and can be done wherever you are.

I was told of a Maggid Shiur in a yeshiva in America who walks around the Beis Medrash silently blessing individual students. How special!

May Hashem make you a source of blessing to all - including yourself!!!!!!!!

Good Shabbos To All Of My Beloved Friends.

Báhava Rabba

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Mazel Tov to Rebbetzin Naomi Weberman upon the birth of a baby girl!!

Besides being a Holy Rebbetzin and all around tzadekes, she is also my little sister!

A special Mazel Tov to her parents - known as Bubby and Grandpa.

And of course to my brother in-law, the Esteemed Talmid Chacham Rav Yossi Shlita. Now that he must spend the next couple of days at home helping with the kids it appears that he will not be able to learn his usual 20 hours a day.

Also mazel tov to Avraham Zvi ben Tzippora Leah [Gelnick] on the occasion of his wedding!!! At the wedding there will be a special Pre-Thanksgiving feast - traditionally known as a "Seudas Mitzva".

Pancakes And Zionism

Mr. Freidman's family was very worried about him so they sent him to a psychologist. The doctor asked Mr. Friedman what the problem is. He replied that he doesn't have any problem but his family forced him to see the psychologist and that is why he came. Upon being asked why his family thought he should come, he answered "Because I like pancakes". The psycholgist remarked "That is totally normal. I also like pancakes". "Well then," answered Mr. Friedman, "you should come to my house. I have a whole basement filled with pancakes."

The key to emotional and spiritual health is BALANCE. Spiritually this means that one should not stress any mitzva too much. For some the mitzva of living in Israel is the focus of their Judaism to the exclusion of all other mitzvos. For others it is Talmud Torah. For others it is chesed. For yet others it is the mitzva of giving tzedaka. People become so absorbed in "their mitzva" that they forgot about the others and - maybe worse - they belittle those who are not as careful as they are.

Every mitzva is important, not only the ones that we connect to. I am lucky in that Hashem has given me many great spiritual opportunities. I live in the Holiest city in the holy land. I learn Torah in a yeshiva with wonderful boys etc. etc.

But when I hear of friends of mine who live in America [what Rav Kook called ama raika - empty nation] but spend sleepless nights in the hospital to be available for their sick friend - I am truly humbled. Maybe their selfless acts of love and chesed are greater in the eyes of Hashem than MY mitzva of yeshivas Eretz Yisrael and Talmud Torah. Who knows. When I hear of the mesirus nefesh that some baalebatim have to learn Torah daily despite their demanding schedule, I wonder if my mesirus nefesh is up to par. And when I hear of a young woman who says the entire sefer tehillim from the depths of her heart - in her friends merit, I ponder that maybe Hashem enjoys her Tehillim more tham the Rabbeinu Chaim Halevi Al HaRambam that I learned.

Our job is to try to keep the Torah in its entirety to the best of our abilty - not to judge others.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Please Help Me: I Love Making Brachos #28

The Beis Halevi posed a contradiction in the shitta of Rabbeinu Yerucham. In hilchos netilas yadaim [simman 158] he says that one makes the bracha after washing ones hands but before drying. But in Yoreh Deah [28] he says that the bracha on covering the blood after shechita is to be made only after covering the blood. The reason is that one cannot make the bracha before the covering because the slaughtering and covering is one mitzva and one is not allowed to make a bracha while in the middle of a mitzva.

However drying ones hands after netilas yadaim is also part of the mitzva of netila so why is one permitted to make the bracha in between?

Please Help Me.

Please Help Me:I Want To Be Koneh Torah #27

In Pirkei Avos our Rabbis enumerate the 48 ways to acquire Torah. The last one is "haomer davar b'shem omro" - quoting the source of the Torah that you repeat.

I understand why it is ethical to repeat Torah in the name of the author and not in your own. But how does this help one ACQUIRE Torah?

Please Help Me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Father Chaim Yankel

Once upon a time there was a jew named Chaim Yankel who decided that in order to get ahead in life it would be worth his while to convert to Christianity and become a priest. So he did and he became Father Christopher O'Rankel.

After his first sermon in church he approached the Cardinal who was present and asked how he did. The Cardinal answered "You were very good. Just one thing - next time don't begin your sermon saying "fellow Goyim".

Moral:If you are a Yid you can't escape it. It is part of your essence. The tragedy of our history is that when Jews did try to escape their Jewishness they were brutally reminded - by their "fellow Goyim".

Please Help Me:# 26

In Masseches Kalla [quoted in Tosafos Kesubos 7b] we learn that we make a brachos at a wedding [Birchos Ayrusin] from .... Lavan.

The Haggada says that Lavan was worse than Pharoh!! How can we learn halachos [this is not the only one] from [Rav???] Lavan?

Please Help Me.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Parshas Chaye Sarah:Victory

Question: How can we best answer the Gay-Pride parade, beat Hitler and Nassrallah, find our shleimus and bring the Shechinah down to earth - all at once?

Answer: Get married and build families!!!

So boys [of marriagable age] - go down to the well, find a girl who reeeeeally loves to help and propose.

Girls - make sure the boy has fine character, loves Hashem and His creations, learns Torah and davens wirh kavvana. Then extend the index finger of your right hand and PRESTO.

By the way - it is also mekarev the Geula.


Lactose Intolerant

I would like to to utilize Rav Herschel Shachter as a true example of Yiras Shamayim!!

He learned the sugya and he concluded that milk products are not kosher - so he stopped eating them. Wow!

He could have relied on the many Torah Giants who disagree with him [such as Rav Asher Weiss and Rav Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg - their teshuvos are printed in the journal Habe'er 5763] - but that would not be intellectually honest.

For those of you who still enjoy milk with your Corn Flakes - don't feel guilty, you have plenty of poskim on whom to rely. And if you want to emulate Rav Shachter - emulate his hasmada. I was told by an inside source that one Pesach he learned all of Masechtos Pesachim Chagiga and Beitzah. And of course he found time to have two sedarim, Yom Tov meals, to daven and - to answer questions from all the "hockers" [is that how you spell it?].

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ki Eshmira Shabbos - Kel Yishmiraini!!!

This was sent to me by R' Elie Mishaan.

Last night, Rav Frand told over an unbelievable story that I thought you'd all appreciate. He received a letter from a rabbi who lives in Israel. This rabbi was sitting on a bus one day recently when a soldier sat down next to him. The soldier asked: "Are you a rav?" They ended up getting into a deep conversation and the soldier revealed a story that happened to him and his shipmates during the recent battle with Hezbollah. This soldier was on the Israeli boat that was hit by a missile (it was all over the news when it happened because it showed Hezbollah was stronger than the world thought). Anyway, all who were on that boat witnessed a nes from Hashem.

It was a Friday night and several of the Orthodox Israeli soldiers on the ship approached their captain with a request. They explained how crucial they felt it was that everyone eat a Shabbos meal that night. That is apparently not the norm for that ship, but these few soldiers begged their captain to not only permit this request, but also allow everyone to do it together. They said they need Hashem's help to stay safe in this battle. Furthermore, to have all the crew members of a war ship together eating at once was never done. Normally, they ate in shifts so as not to be vulnerable to the enemy at any point. However, nes number one occurred when the captain granted these frum yiddin their wish (only caveat was that there had to be 4 soldiers on the deck at all times watching the situation outside).

The soldier then explained where he was in all this. He had been very tired and his next shift of duty was at 12am midnight that Friday night. So he was planning on getting to sleep and skipping dinner so that he could be re-energized for his shift. However, when he heard everyone was eating together he decided to pop in for a few minutes before his nap. When he got there every soldier (less the 4 outside) was davening together. It was an unbelievable scene to see all these Israelis on different points of the religious spectrum answering kaddish and saying l'cha dodi in unison. Following kabbalat shabbat, they all sat down to have the shabbos meal together. Not only are the meals usually in shifts, but they are also a bit rushed. Similar to eating lunch in the middle of a work-day, these soldiers have many responsibilities and cannot take their time. This time, they were all together laughing, eating, enjoying and singing for several hours. When the meal ended, they started the bircat hamazon.

The soldier told the rabbi on the bus that he ended staying for the entire meal and blessing afterwards. His plans to sleep were foiled. However, he now has great appreciation to Hashem. The soldier told the rabbi on the bus that he ended staying for the entire meal and blessing afterwards. His plans to sleep were foiled. However, he now has great appreciation to Hashem that he missed his nap. Moments after bircat hamazon began, the ship was smashed by a Hezbollah missile. The soldier explained several possible scenarios that should have happened. First of all, the size of the missile should have sunk the ship. A big enough hole should have been created to drown the vessel. But, the missile hit a huge anchor being stored on the deck that absorbed a lot of the impact. Another nes. He also explained that the ship cought fire and the tons of stored fuel in close proximity to the flames should easily have exploded... they did not. Nes number three. Then the most obvious of the nissiim- if the crew had eaten according to their normal schedule, tens of soldiers would have been killed. They were saved because everyone was eating together in one room on the opposite side of the ship from where the rocket hit.

The soldier ran down to his quarters and found his entire room, belongings, and bed melted to ashes from the heat of the fire. He personally knew what his fate would have been had the big shabbos meal and davening not taken place. He has become an orthodox Jew from the experience. But there's more to the story. Upon searching the ship after sustaining the missile attack, soldiers found an open book in one of the rooms. It was Sefer Tehillim. What was it open to? Chapter 124. Rav Frand was explaining how we may be powerful, smart, etc., but it is Hashem taking care of us and giving us success that allows us to survive. That is exactly what that kapitel tehillim is saying. But the language used is what is so eye-opening:

"A song of ascents, by David. Had not Hashem been with us- let Israel declare now! Had not Hashem been with us when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their anger was kindled against us. Then the waters would have inundated us; the current would have surged across our soul. Then they would have surged across our soul- the treacherous waters. Blessed is Hashem, who did not present us as prey for their teeth. Our soul escaped like a bird from the hunter's snare; the snare broke and we escaped. Our help is through the name of Hashem, maker of heaven and earth."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Goodwill - G-d's Will

Parshas Vayera

Ahhhhh the Akaidah!!!!

One of the most hallowed events in our history. Many people read it every morning [for that you have to arrive early to minyan]. Our Yomim Noraim liturgy is replete with mentions of the Akaidah. We invoke the memory of the the Akaidah in order to merit life, livelihood, rain etc. etc. The tremendous display of devotion exhibited by Avraham Avinu who was ready to sacrifice his beloved son [and tradition bearer] at the behest of G-d is truly awe-inspiring. Except for one small detail that we often overlook.

It never happened. In the end Avraham did NOT sacrifice his son and Yitzchak lived on for many years. The Angel came and told him that is was just a test but in fact Hashem desires that Yitzchak should remain alive. So then - what great zchus inheres in this event that never happened???

The great Gaon Harav Yitzchak Hutner explained that from here we learn the potency of Ratzon - Will. Avraham Avinu was WILLING to sacrifice his son - and that is what really matters. It was not his job to "execute" [double connotation] the will of G-d but to strive and make every effort to fulfill His will. If in the end due to circumstances beyond our control we don't carry out His will - in Hashems eyes we are a complete success.

Interestingly enough we find a similar theme expressed at the beginning of the parsha. The Torah is trying to teach us the importance of chessed. So we read about how 99 year old Avraham just 3 days after his bris mila - in his overwhelming desire to find guests - stood at the entrance of his tent in the scorching heat (and the A/C was out!!). Then Hashem sends three "people" whom Avraham welcomes with open arms. Avraham RUNS here and RUNS there (have you ever seen a 99 year old RUN?? And 3 days after a painful surgery??) in order to serve them a sumptuous meal. Wow! A true lesson in chessed!

Except for one problem. These guests were really angels. And angels don't eat. [Interestingly enough, growing up my holy mother shetichye called me her little angel - and up until this very day she claims that I don't eat!!] So why did the Torah utilize this story as an example of chesed when the chesed was completely superfluous. Puzzling.

Apparently the Torah is teaching us the aformentioned lesson. It is not the ACT of chesed that matters as much as the desire to perform the chesed and the effort invested ensuring that the the chesed is carried out. Avraham did everything he could to perform an act of lovingkindness - due to circumstances beyond his control he was unable to execute his desire. But that does not detract from the mitzva.

All too often in life we have plans to do great things but due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to carry out our plans. When that happens we must remember that the final result is in G-ds hands. Our task is to desire, strive and do everything in our power to achieve results. That is what is precious in the eyes of Hashem!

ועקידת יצחק היום ברחמים ברחמים תזכור

Good Shabbos My Sweetest Friends!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Should Mitzvos Be Enjoyable

Hi Rav Ally ,

I would like to ask a couple of questions. I apologize if they are not good questions but they trouble me.

1 I understand that when a Jew does a mitzva or life in general or whatever the harder it was for him to overcome his Yetzer Hara the greater his reward. what i want to know is what about when it comes easy....e.g what's the point in learning Gemara all day if it is easy for you because you love doing it?

And even then why do you deserve a reward for doing it if there is no battle or difficulty in doing it?

2 I am told that on Shabbat we do not ask things of HaShem. if so, then what do we daven for? what's the point? what about the Brachah R'Tzei Bimnuchatenu? Ten Chelkenu B'Toratecha?

That's all for now thank you for your time



Dearest G.Y.!!!

I am so happy that you contacted me!!!!

Your questions are excellent!!

1. Learning torah is unique in that the more pleasure that you get from learning the more the reward!!! However just because something is pleasurable does not mean that it is easy. Example: many people will tell you that raising children is their greatest pleasure-and greatest challenge!!! Learning is pleasurable indeed - however it requires a great deal of mental energy and self-sacrifice as our rabbis teach us in many places (eg. the sixth chapter of pirkei avos which enumerate the 48 ways to acquire torah). אין התורה מתקיימת אלא במי שממית עצמו עליה
true torah learning is when one kills himself for it!!!! And that's the fun.....

2 Your wise question cuts to the very heart of the philsophy prayer!!!

We don't daven to get something from God!!! We daven in order to connect to God!!!!
Our means of connecting is to ask for what we need. But the goal is connection, realizing Who is in charge , appreciating our purpose on earth, showing concern for others by praying for them etc.etc.
If we also receive what we ask for that is an added bonus - but not the point.

On shabbos we are permitted to make SPIRITUAL requests. According to the Talmud Yerushalmi even material requests are permitted if it is part of the nusach hateffila.

Be well and feel free to send more questions . Kol Hakavod that you are concrened with spiritual issues!!


R' Ally

Taxi's And Taxes

Dear Rav Ally

When I get into a cab in Israel the driver will often offer me a flat fee in order to avoid using the meter thereby avoiding the payment of taxes. Sometimes the price offered is lower than it would cost me if I use the meter. Is it permitted for me to accept the flat fee [which would in turn aid the driver in avoiding taxes]?

I love the shiurim and take you with me to and from work. Hope you don't mind the trip.....

Love A.S.

Dearest A.S.

Great Question. In my many forays into Sefarim that deal with contemporary halachic issues I have [surprisingly] not seen this question discussed.

Recently I saw that HaRav Dov Lior Shlita wrote about it in a parsha sheet and he answered as follows: One is certainly obligated to pay taxes because Dina d'Malchusa Dina applies in Eretz Yisrael as well [see Encyclopedia Talmudis on Dina d'Malchusa].

However the law of the land in Israel does not require one to demand that the driver use the meter in order to ensure that the driver will pay his taxes.

Hence, one can accept the flat rate. Howver if one desires to go beyond the letter of the law he should insist on using the meter.

I am glad you bring me to work. But don't forget to call your wife from work to tell her that you are thinking about her!!!!

Your faithful servant

Note: Sweet yidden Talmidei Chachamim - Anything you can add?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Special Mitzva Opportunity:Exclusive To Alleyways!!

Please join me in this special Mitzvah opportunity to perform a Chesed Shel Emes!

I knew an elderly and kindly Jew who tragically was never married and had nobody to say kaddish for him thereby elevating his soul.

So if you can do a mitzva lílui nishmaso it would be an monumental favor for him - and me.

So next time you are about to get angry - stop and think I will remain calm lilui nishmas Aharon ben Yaakov Shachna. [Anger is an aveira according to the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva.]

Next time a poor man approaches you smile warmly at him and thank him for allowing you the privilige of giving - then donate generously - lilui nishmas Aharon ben Yaakov Shachna.

Next time you have the urge to waste time - learn a mishna lilui nishmas Aharon ben Yaakov Shachna.

Next time you have a free hour - go to the hospital and raise the spirits of the ill, lilui nishmas Aharon ben Yaakov Shachna.

Next time you see a sefer you like write the author a letter praising him and the sefer ..... Aharon ben Yaakov Shachna. [Everyone enjoys a compliment - even a Talmid Chacham.]

Next time you feel like blasting somebody - hold your tongue ... Aharon ben Yaakov Shachne.

Just a few suggestions but you can be creative.

May the improvement in our character that will inevitably result be lilui nishmas ........... you guessed right - Aharon ben Yaakov Shachne.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Neat Gematria

Coolest Gematria of the week!! [That I heard - Not my own]

אראך written in full [aleph lamed peh, reish yud shin, aleph lamed peh, choph peh] is exactly Gematria ארץ ישראל.


But Ariel Edelstein probably thought of that when he was 3 years old. [If you don't get the joke you have never heard R'Ariel darshan at an auf ruff. Wow!!!]

P.S. See Baal Haturim on אראך. The pshat is that that everything must be מעשה אבות סימן לבנים hence Avraham came with clouds.

I Have Been Helped!!!

I asked my Rebbe Shlita Please Help Me #25 and he answered as follows: There is a stage of the judicial process that many people skip over. Namely the fact that there be 2 Baale Din!

In our case the finder is not even a Baal Din [See what Rav Will wrote]. Hence he is not "shema" against the claimant. The true Baal Din is quite possibly an anonymous Jew who also has a claim of Bari. That is why simanim are required.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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