Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah #4

There is an opinion in the Acharonim that maintains that sometimes one should not mention Yaale V'Yavo in Maariv on Rosh Chodesh. When?

[That would also mean that many a Jew would miss out on what many consider an exquisite pleasure - banging on the table before Shmoneh Esrei! Incidentally, according to the Mishna Brura at Maariv one can announce any "hosapha" and one need not bang. But what can we do - some people love to "klop".]


Why was Mordechai not living in Israel? One of the commentators suggests that in the absence of Nefesh B'Nefesh it was just too difficult to make Aliya.

However Targum Sheni [pasuk 7] explains that Mordechai was living in Israel but he returned to Chutz Láretz to take care of Esther who was an orphan.

In other words the whole Purim story would not have happened if Mordechai had not been a caring and concerned individual who was willing to give up his own dream of living in Eretz Yisrael [the Kabbalists teach us that he had the spark of Moshe Rabbeinu and we know how much Moshe wanted to come. 515 prayers offered for the zchus] in order to take care of someone in need.


It is clearly a Mitzva of great importance. Some say it is Biblical, some say it is Rabbinic. But it carries tremendous weight beyond its formal status as a Mitzva. It is the place where ALL of the other Mitzvos are supposed to be kept!! The Torah says that Hashem gave us the Torah in order to keep it in Eretz Yisrael. So Shabbos in Eretz Yisrael much more significant than Shabbos in Chutz Láretz and davening in Eretz Yisrael cannot be compared to davening in Chutz Láretz. I personally cannot live in Chutz Láretz knowing that the Torah that I learn there is only second rate in Hashem's eyes.

But sometimes the contingencies of the situation demand that one live outside of Israel. Chesed is MAJOR!!!

And we must remember that in order to leave Israel, Mordechai was granted a hetter by a member of the Sanhedrin - namely himself. So for us I think the lesson is: Ask a Gadol - then act.

May we all be zoche to live in Hashem's palace!!!!!!!!!

Love and Blessings

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah #3 - Answer

If a Megilla is written on parchment that was served as Avodah Zara on does not fulfill their obligation even if it was written according to Halacha. [Rav Eliyashiv Shlita]

People will serve anything. I like the Second Commandment!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah #3

What would be a case where one heard parshas zachor from a Sefer Torah written in accordance with Halacha and does not fulfill his obligation?

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah #2 - Answer

It is permitted to send Mishloach Manos to the Rabbi if he is, lo alenu, an avel. The Mishloach Manos are more payment for services rendered [literally - as in "morning service"] than they are a present. [Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstien]

Gift idea - give the Rabbi in your neighborhood money. He is probably struggling.

Is A Lawyer A Job For A Good Jewish Boy?

When I was a child when someone wanted to make conversation they would say something to the effect of "How about those Yankees!" Today people will say to me "What is the "hoc" in the Rova?"

Well, tonight I asked Rav Nevenzahl Shlita a question that was presented to me in order to ask the Rav concerning a law student. Rav Nevenzahl said "Who says that it is permitted to be a lawyer?" [See the third Rashi in Parshas Mishpatim.] He refused to answer the question.

Interesting hoc.

Anyway I am not taking a position on this topic as Rav Nevenzahl is a world class Talmid Chacham and I am dust under his feet [on a good day] so I remain silent. But given the fact that there are many, many Torah Observant lawyers I will recommend a book that was recently published entitled "The Pursuit Of Justice And Jewish Law". I have not read it but I know that it deals with issues that a frum lawyer will encounter [including the rectitude of being a lawyer at all. The author is himself a lawyer and Talmid Chacham so I am pretty sure what his conclusion is].

What is instructive for us - even the non-lawyers - is that one should consult Hashem Yisborach before choosing a profession, as the Gemara at the end of Kiddushin teaches.

The Good Lord is not only in shul and in the Beis Medrash - but in the boardrooms and offices too.

Monday, February 26, 2007

When Secrets Are Divulged

Interesting. There are three hebrew words that contain the same letters מגילה גלימה לגימה

We all wear garments [glima] that hide our true selves. On Purim we drink alcohol [legima] which exposes [megilla] the greatness that reposes within each and every one of us.

The Gemara teaches "nichnas yayin yatza sod" - when the wine is ingested the secrets are revealed. Asked Rav Hutner zatza"l what are those secrets? He answered "v'amech koolam tzaddikim". On Purim it is revealed that we are all Righteous!!

A Frielichin Purim Tyere Zeesa Yidden!!!!

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah #2

One is not allowed to send Mishloach Manos to an avel [Rema 796\6]. Under what circumstances is it permitted?

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah - Answer

One should not eat meat on Purim night so that they don't think that they have fulfilled their Seudah obligation [which can only fulfilled during the day]. But this year Purim falls out on Motzaei Shabbos [in most places]. It is recommended that one should eat meat for Melave Malka. Hence if one eats meat this year on Purim night it will clearly be for Melave Malka and is thus preferable. [Rav Yitzchak Zilberstien Shlita]

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Mazel Tov to Michael Eisenberg on the birth of his daughter. Michael is the only person on earth who is: A Talmid Chacham, Partner in a Venture Capital Firm, Chesed activist, father of seven AND he still finds time to be an insightful commentator on Alleyways!!!

Shalom Yitzchak Chaim Dworkin on his marriage!! He is a true Ohaiv Torah who still finds time to keep in touch with me! Also if you add the word "Mar" to his name you come up with a very interesting roshei taivos.

R' Chaim Walfish on his engagement. I would write that he is one of the 36 hidden tzaddikim in whose merit the world stands - but then he wouldn't be hidden anymore! So Iwill just say that he is a true "omel b'Torah" and a very special person.

Rav Shimon Peretz on the birth of his son. R' Shimon is my partner in feeding the hungry. [His wife also helps by feeding their hungry children]. He is also a Talmid Chacham and Tzaddik.

Yehuda Leib Grunbaum on his engagement. One day in the not so distant future Yehudah Leib will be a MAJOR Rosh Yeshiva. I don't know if I have ever seen a lamdan like him graduate our Yeshiva. His Kallah should speak to the likes of Rebbetzin Knyevsky to find out what it is like to be married to a Gadol!

Dovid Katzper on the birth of a girl. R' Dovid loves Hashem and I love him!

And to ALL Yidden who are celebrating simchas.

Amoraim Knew Mishnayos!

I spent this Shabbos in Tveria. Only once a year I willingly leave the Old City to spend an uplifting Shabbos with my beloved Rebbe and a few hundred Chassidim. Which obligates me to relate the following story.

Two foreigners are walking down the street in midtown Manhattan where they see men with beards, payos, long black coats etc. So the man says to his friend "Who dem people is?" His friend answers "Hasidim". The first man replies "I see dem too, but I asked you who dem is!"

After that uproariously funny story I will share with you a kashya I heard. Before Shachris we were zoche to hear a shiur from the Rebbe Shlita. I was very delighted when he discussed the sugya that I had been learning this week [and posted two shiurim on in the Chagim section]. The Gemara in Megilla [4a] relates that there were Amoraim who were [seemingly] unaware that we read the Megilla during the morning. Asks the Turei Even: There is an explicit Mishna later on in the masechta [20] that states that we read the megilla during the day [from netz hachama and on]!! It is not plausible that the Amoraim did not know an explicit Mishna.

Food for thought.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah

The Shaar Hatzioon [795/12] says that one should preferably not eat meat on the night of Purim. Why might this year be different and we SHOULD eat meat on Purim night?

Making Lemonade From Our Lemons

Many people have obstacles in life and find themselves frustrated. I once heard a great piece of advice based on the words of a cabbie. Many people are mildly annoyed when they encounter a red light. They want to advance but they can't. This cab driver said that when he encounters a red light he thinks to himself "one shekel and eighty agurot". [In other words the meter is running and he is going to earn money from this seeming "obstacle".]

If we looked at our difficulties as a boon to growth that ultimately enable us to reach higher, we would be much happier. That is essentialy the story of Purim. Everything that seemed to be leading to the downfall of the Jews ultimately lead to their salvation and the building of the Beis HaMikdash!! The very tree on which Mordechai was supposed to hang eventually found Haman and his children hanging. The very day on which our enemies were supposed to kill us became the day we vanquished our enemies. The party in which [according to the Gemara] Achashvairosh was celebrating the fact that the Beis HaMikdash will not be rebuilt eventually brought to the rebuilding of the Second Beis HaMikdash [through the union of Achashveirosh and Esther a child named Daryavesh was born. He gave the o.k. to build the Beis HaMikdash] etc. etc.

The pasuk states "עת צרה ליעקב וממנה יוושע"
"It is a time of distress for Jacob and "from it" he will be saved". The Sfas Emes points out that if we scramble the letters of "mimena" - from it, we read "MayHaman" - from Haman. It is all of our "Haman's" who are the source of our salvation.

Red light = a shekel eighty.

Good Shabbos Sweetest Most Beloved Friends!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Answer: Megilla Reading In Yericho

Megilla reading in Yericho: In L'horos Nossan [vol. 2/55] there is a fascinating responsa on the topic. [The question is also discussed by Rav Yoseph Lieberman in the first volume of Mishnas Yoseph simman 53. I am so impressed that Senator Lieberman took time out from his busy schedule to write such a learned halachic work...] He rules that the reading should take place on the 14th.

1. The Ran says that in order to be considered a walled city it must first have a wall and then be inhabited by Jews [with a wall]. By the time the Jews settled in Yericho it no longer had a wall.

2. We are not sure that the place we call Yericho today is the Biblical Yericho.

No connection but I can't resist. A quote I saw in a friends email: "If at first you don't succeed - then don't try skydiving".

A freilichin Adar tyere yidden!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why I Am Not Charedi: The Continuation

A Reform Jew once explained to an Orthodox Jew "I am Reform therefore I am allowed to drive on Saturday. You are Orthodox - so you cannot." The truth of course is that if G-d commanded us to keep Shabbos even a Reform Jew is not allowed to drive. And if He didn't then even an Orthodox Jew is allowed to drive. [You know where I stand on the issue.] The question is: What is the EMES? - not irrelevent meaningless labels.

There are some segments of the Jewish community who allow themselves to enjoy all forms of entertainment and when questioned as to the Halachic validity of such behavior will dismiss the question by saying "I am a Modern Jew so I am allowed to watch this movie/hear this opera/read this magazine. Only the fanatics [best definition I have heard of "fanatic": Someone more religious than myself...] don't allow themselves to enjoy this form of entertainment. BE NORMAL." [Normal is best defined as what I deem normal. Abnormal is what my neighbor deems normal.] People hide behind a label to allow themselves to act according to their hearts desire.

Other people feel completely comfortable living in Chutz Láretz even though every time they daven, bentch and usually when they learn - they mention Eretz Yisrael. It is the thread that runs throughout the entire Tanach and much of Torah Shebeál Peh. They might explain that they are not Zionists so they are exempt from coming to Israel. It is not their "thing". Funny. The Chofetz Chaim definitely did not identify himself as a Tzioni but his fervent wish was to come and live in Israel - even before Moshiach!! He explained that [besides the Mitzva of living in Israel] every Mitzva that one performs in Israel is worth many times that of a Mitzva performed outside of Israel. I am not saying that every Jew must come to Israel right now. I am saying that one should not hide behind labels to justify ones behavior. One should clarify what Hashem wants from them and act accordingly.

The examples abound but I think my point is clear. Our task in this world is to fulfill what Hashem wants of us personally without regards to the dictates of society. Even if that society happens to consist of Jews.

So lets drop silly meaningless labels and attempt to become TRUE OVDEI HASHEM B'SIMCHA. For this we need the guidance of a Talmid Chacham who is open enough to realize that not everyone is cut from the same cloth. Some people should be in Kollel learning day and night. Others should be taking the mantle of Zevulun and supporting Torah. But they to must learn. The Rambam rules that every male is obligated to reach the level where he can paskin!! [See Hil. Talmud Torah Ch. 1] Loshon Hara is categorically forbidden - even about those people with whom we disagree. Every Jew and Jewess is obligated to be HOLY. Not cool. Not with it. Holy!

After 120 years we stand before Hashem and He will want to know if we were generous with our money, kind to others, in control of our anger, if we truly believed in Him etc. etc. etc. Not if we were "Yeshivish" or "Modern". Those are terms that are VERY important to superficial people. Not to those who visit Alleyways - namely YOU.

Love and Everlasting Friendship

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Black And White - Religious Implications

Dear Rav Ally

I really liked your post on why you are not Charedi. But if you don't mind my asking - why do you dress Charedi?


Dear I.D.F.

Are those your initials or the initials of the army in which you served?

Anyway, to answer your question: I dress in such a way that immediately upon seeing me I will be identified as a Torah Observant Jew. Then I hope to act in a way that will bring honor to Hashem and His Torah. Although it is not forbidden to dres like the Gentiles dress today, I nevertheless believe that it is preferable to avoid it. I am aware of the fact that Moshe Rabbeinu and Rebbe Akiva did not wear a dark suit, white shirt and black hat but in our day and age Torah observant Jews are the only ones who do so. I am also aware that our kippah and tzitzis differentiate us from the Gentiles but the more the better. And if one chooses a more modern mode of dress I urge them to dress in a respectable manner. I cringe when I see a yeshiva boy [or girl] who looks like a "shloomp". The way we dress influences not only the way others perceive us but the way we perceive ourselves.

If you have ever seen a Pro Basketball game you will notice that even though the players are wearing only their undergarments, the coach is wearing a [usually very expensive] suit. And if a player is injured he is sitting on the bench wearing a suit. From this we learn that even they realize the importance of respectable clothing when trying to present a positive image.

Many years ago the Lubavitcher Rebbe was walking in the pouring rain without an umbrella. Upon being asked why he replied "Have you ever seen a soldier carrying an umbrella?!". "Charedi" clothing is also such a uniform.

I am not trying to convert you to my way of thinking, but I do want you to understand.

Love and Blessings!!!!!!!!!

When Shofar Blowing Impacts Purim

We know that if a city had a wall at the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun the inhabitants read the Megilla on the 15th of Adar and all other cities read on the 14th of Adar.

What is the status of Jericho? Of course there are no practical ramifications because who would want to spend Purim on a turnpike?!!!

But what about the biblical Jericho [when he is called up to the Torah he goes by "Yericho"]. On one hand it was walled in the time of Yehoshua. On the other hand the wall came tumbling down in Yehoshua's time. So when is the reading. Please answer soon. Purim is coming up!!!

Why I Am Not Charedi

I am also not Ultra-Orthodox, Religious Zionist, Dati-Leumi, Chardal [meaning either mustard or Charedi-Leumi (Nationalist Ultra Orthodox)], Yeshivish, Yeshivish Machmir, Yeshivish Modern, Modern Orthodox, Centrist Orthodox, Right Wing, Left Wing [although in my hockey days I did prefer playing left wing], Post Modern, Pre-Historic Caveman, Chasidic, Litvish, Chavakuk [popular in Israel, meaning Chabad - R' Nachman - Rav Kook. I think. Or maybe Carlebach is in there somewhere.] Brisker [although I drink Lipton], Chazon Ish-nik, Merkaz-nik, Religious Intellectual [although on rare occasions I enjoy using the intellect that Hashem in His great kindness gave me] etc. etc. etc.

I believe that we are much too fragmented. And all of these groupings just exacerbate the problem. There is so much anomosity between the various groups and even within each group. And even where animosity isn't present there is often apathy. THEY are strange, or fanatic or sinners etc. etc. Example: How much affinity do a Satmar Chossid and a Modern Orthodox lawyer feel for each other when they are placed next to each other on an El-Al flight. The Modern Jew is dreading the long flight because he knows that Chassidim smell. [I once got into an argument with a very intelligent young man who insisted that Chassidim smell. My argument that they go to mikva daily and that thay shower beforehand was to no avail. I tried arguing that I spend a lot of time in close proximity to Chassidim and I never noticed. He replied that I am so used to the smell that I don't notice anymore. I wanted to ask him if he subscribes to "der shturmer" the Nazi propaganda newspaper. Bauch Hashem I held my tongue.] The Chossid might be thinking "Oy, I have to sit next to a modernishe Yid for the whole flight". An exaggeration [I hope] but my point is clear. Or at best they are not really interested in the person sitting beside them and pay them no heed.

But I have news. WE ARE ALL BROTHERS [AND SISTERS] !!!! I have a halachic obligation to love this person AS MUCH AS I LOVE MYSELF. WHOA!!! [For the precise halachic ramifications I refer you to the shiur in the Halacha section on V'ahavta L'reyacha Kamocha"]

All of these "labels" seperate us. Purim is coming up. On Purim we learn in so many ways that we are all one. Mishloach Manos, Matanos Lévyonim, eating and drinking together ["gdola legimah shemikareves es halevavos"], Esther insisted on GATHERING TOGETHER ALL OF THE JEWS, for the decree was to kill ALL of the Jews etc. etc. [See the Machshava Sefarim on Purim where this idea is developed.]

And maybe, just maybe that is what Chazal are alluding to when they say that one should drink until they don't know the difference between Haman is cursed and Mordechai is blessed. Between those Jews with whom we identify who are akin to Mordechai in our eyes and those Jews from whom we feel estranged who are akin to Haman in our eyes. On Purim they are all the same.

Important note. There are certainly exceptions to this rule. There are some Jews who love and care about all other Jews but I think that there is definitely room for improvement. Therefore I will start with myself and to that end I will merely define myself as a "Jew". This way I can feel love for and identify with every other person in this category even if they dress and think differently than I. I hope that you will join me. [It also increases your opportunity for a good shidduch if your are searching for one!]

There is another reason that I am not Charedi. But that is for a future post bézras Hashem.

Love and True Brotherhood

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

P.S. Please go to and see what you can do for our soldiers.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shvat's Identity Crisis

Regarding the question I asked about the status of the 30th of Shvat which is also Rosh Chodesh Adar - It would seem to be a matter of dispute amongst the Poskim. I talk about it [among other things] in greater detail in the "Chagim" section in the shiur entitled "Mishloach Monkeys".

Incidentally, during the shiur I mentioned the opinion that one does not fulfill ones obligation if they send Mishloach Manos to a minor [affectionately known as a "katan", but my son Simcha takes umbrage when I call him "katan"]. I neglected to mention that this too is debated by the Poskim.

Faithfully Yours

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

The Limits Of Merriment

Every Jew has a portion in the world to come!! Eternal bliss for all of us. YEAH!! This is well known. What is not so well known is that there are exceptions to this rule. One of those exceptions is one who disgraces a Talmid Chacham, or a Torah Scholar. Either one. [See Sanhedrin 99b].

On Purim there is a very lamentable custom -מנהג אותיות גהנם - that has taken root, namely that people make fun of, mock and ridicule Talmidei Chachamim. And I ask myself - Why? The Torah still applies - EVEN ON PURIM!! We don't eat unkosher food on Purim, we don't wear shaatnez etc. etc. So why has this terribly serious transgression fallen by the wayside.

One year on Purim the zealots conducted a mock trial and execution of HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook zatza"l. Everyone in that group suffered greatly in their lives until some even went to ask him for forgiveness. [Related in Sefer Hanishkafa Kimo Shachar]

One SHOULD have fun on Purim. But KOSHER fun [Learn Sfas Emes on inyanei purim?]. In Shushan they also had fun at the party. But that is what we are trying to fix anually.

[The Rama says you should always conclude b'davar tov - on a positive note. This post doesn't seem to conclude thusly. But if you read the last four letters you will see something which I personally view as VERY positive].

Monday, February 19, 2007

Solving The Identity Crisis Of The Last Day Of Shvat

The Shulchan Aruch [788\7] rules that if one is going on a trip and will be unable to read the Megilla on Purim he can read it from the beginning of the month.

What is the status of the first day of Rosh Chodesh. On one hand it is the 30th of SHVAT. On the other hand it is the first day of Rosh Chodesh ADAR. Can one read the Megilla. Ma atah [oh ot] choshev [oh choshevet] ?

Besides Everything Else - Haman Was VERY Materialistic!!

Around Chanukah time I asked what it means [in Maoz Tzur] "rov banav v'kinyanav al haáytz taleesa" not only were Haman and his children hanging but his "possessions" as well. Why hang his couch, dining romm table and television. Well come to think of it I understand the T.V. part, but why the rest of his possessions?

I once saw an answer [I don't remember where] based on he Gemara in megilla [end of 15a] that teaches us that Mordechai actually owned Haman [as a slave] and Haman had a record of his treasures hanging on his heart. So whenever he saw Mordechai he became extremly agitated because he was reminded that all of his wealth belonged to Mordechai [for all of the possessions of a slave belong to his master].

That is what "kinyanav" means - the record of his treasures hanging on his chest!

I personally thought "kinyanav" could be explained based on the last Rashi in parshas ki seitzei which states that we may leave no remnant of Amalek - including their animals. So maybe it was Haman's three dogs and two cats hanging on the tree -[Sorry A.S.P.C.A. people - but a mitzva is a mitzva] with his T.V., d.v.d.'s and Rap Music collection of course.

Now that you are definitely learning inyanei purim I am confident that you will enlighten me if you come up with any more answers!

Love and Peace from the Holy City!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oz Vi'Chedva Bimikomo [Strength and JOY in Hashem's place]

"Doctor, I have a ringing in my ears". "Don't answer" - Henny Youngman. [If his name had been Henna he could have been my mother.]

Get a LAUGH!! [Instead of get a LIFE]

It is healthy! "When we laugh, natural killer cells which destroy tumors and viruses increase, along with Gamma-interferon (a disease fighting protein), T-cells(important for our immune system), and B-cells(which makes disease fighting antibodes). As well as lowering blood pressure, laughter increases oxygen in the blood which also increases healing." Science of Laughter , Discovery Health Website.

"Laughter lowers blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, is a great workout for your diaphragm, abdominal facial , leg and back muscles. It stimulates both sides of the brain to enhance learning." And much much more! [See]

Husband to wife "Close the vindow, it's cold outside." "And if I close the vindow it von't be cold outside?!"

Fast, get a Maseches Taánis! [Get it?] On Daf 22a none other than Eliyahu HaNavi points out to Rebbe Broka [no relation to Tom Brokaw] two men who are going to Olam Haba [this means that they are spiritual people, otherwise there is nothing for them to do in Olam Haba]. Rebbe Broka asks them which Mitzvos they perform? [Apparently they weren't such Talmidei Chachamim, otherwise the reason for their eternal reward would be self-evident.] They answered that they are JOVIAL PEOPLE and they make it their business to gladden the hearts of sad people!! [They also make peace between two people who are fighting.]

Indeed, Rav Chaim of Volozhin was wont to say that our purpose in this world is to improve the lot of others ["lihoeel liachareenee"]. So here is a great Avodah that I highly recommend. Find a Yid [or a Yiddene - depending on the circumstances] and make them happy. Compliment them, tell them what you admire about them, say something to put a smile on their face. By the time a child reaches nursery school, a study has shown, he or she will laugh about 300 times a day. Adults laugh an average of 17 times a day.

There are a lot of people who could use some more simcha - share some of yours. And like all acts of giving - the giver benefits infinitely more than the receiver!

With Love and Simchahood

Elchanan ben YITZCHAK [get it?] Yonah

P.S. And a very Happy Fourth Birthday this week to my son - you guessed it - Simcha!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Wear A Smile And Have Friends, Wear A Scowl And Have Wrinkles. What Do We Live For If Not To Make The World Less Difficult For Each Other" [G. Eliot]

That's it. It's over.

Anyone who is: dejected, depressed, despondent, disconsolate, melancholy, downcast, sad, forlorn [two lorn + two lorn], low, in the doldrums, gloomy, disheartened, discouraged, grieving, sorrowful etc. etc. etc. No more.

IT'S ADAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FREILICH, TYERE YIDDEN! [I won't overwhelm you with all of the synonyms for happy, joyful, merry, jovial, elated, cheerful, jocular, buoyant, exhilarated etc. etc.]

A sign we put on the wall in the childrens bedroom:


It doesn't cost anything, but it's worth a fortune
It enriches the receiver, while not impoverishing the giver

There is no person so strong
who can exist without it

There is no person so powerful
For whom a smile will not add

There are some tired people that in order to enable them to smile at you

Because -

There is no person who is in need of a smile
as much as a person who is unable to smile.

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Honesty Pays, But It Doesn't Seem To Pay Enough To Suit Some People" [Kin Hubbard - Journalist]

Stay FAR away from falsehood - cries out the Torah in this weeks parsha. The commentaries point out that normally the Torah lays down the law and the Rabbis create a fence. But with respect to falsehood, due to its severity the Torah itself creates the fence. Stay FAR away!!

My Top 7 contemporary examples. [Please feel free to send me your own. I'd love to hear.]

1] "We'll keep in touch".

2] [Answering machine] "Please leave a message and I will get back to you AS SOON AS POSSIBLE". [Really? Better say "Please leave a message" and leave it at that. You don't even have to mention the beep. Everyone knows already.]

3] [Advertisement] "Lowest prices anywhere" [Have they looked EVERYWHERE to verify that claim?]

4] [Shidduchim] "He comes from a wonderful family!!" [Father currently serving 15 to 25 in prison. Brother a not yet recovering drug addict. Sister living somewhere in California. Nobody knows where. Including her. Mother has dubious distinction of having fulfilled - due to all of her tzoris - all three signs of a mentally impaired person mentioned at the beginning of Maseches Chagigah. Only the family's pet lizard has remained normal [for a lizard]. But the family has a PET LIZARD!!].

5] I would like to make Aliyah some day. [Indeed. In the event that America sinks into the ocean. Better say "I really admire those who do but I am going to support Israel by praying for its safety, donating money and rooting for the Israeli teams in the Olympics].

6] [From our prayer liturgy] "Ki hem chayainu etc." [Don't know if I can offer an alternative. Maybe we should change our attitude so that the words emanating from our mouths ring true.]

7] [Politician] "I will bring a lasting peace to the Middle East". [One should only make such a claim if his first name is Moshiach and his last name is Tzidkainu.]

I would add the Israeli wedding invitation which reads "Chuppah will be promptly at 6:00 PM" which means that the Chuppah will begin at approximately 7:40. But the Poskim say that since everyone knows that 6:00 PM means 7:40 this is not falsehood!!

[For more insight into the topic I refer you to the shiur in the Seminary Girls section entitled "Truth". See also Alei Shor Chelek Beis at length. Incidentally what is the "g" doing in length??????? To be truthful maybe we should start pronouncing the "g".]

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"Send Your Bread Out On The Waters, For You Will Find It After Many Days" [Koheles 11\1] - A Story For The Shabbos Table

This story was sent to me by Mordechai Eliyahu Hilliel ben Yoseph HaLevi. I thought it might inspire others as it inspired me. [I don't know where he saw it.]

Don't think that the really great stories are the ones that are written by the world's greatest writers. The really great stories are the stories that really happened to real people and they are really and absolutely true. The following is one of the many really great stories. Great because it's really true!

America had finally entered World War I. Troops poured into Europe to put an end to the war. The war was in it's final stages. American troops were dispatched through out Germany. The year was 1917.

A lone Jewish soldier from Duluth, Minnesota, Alex Lurye, found himself in a small German town called Seldes. It was Friday night. Being far away from home was lonely. The young Jewish soldier had some time on his hands. Feeling out of place, he decided to see what the local Jewish population was like. Entering the local village synagogue must have created a stir. An American soldier in uniform!. The Americans fought the Germans in bitter combat. The lone soldier felt out of place. He was greeted by a kind German Jew by the name of Herr Rosenau who made him feel at home in the synagogue.

After the services, Herr Rosenau invited the serviceman to his house for kiddush and the traditional Friday night meal.

Seeing the beauty of a traditional Shabbat together with the warmth and kindness of this German-Jewish family made a deep impression on this young soldier. He was a stranger, a foreigner, even an enemy Yet because he was Jewish he was invited to another Jew's home, given a delicious warm kosher home cooked meal, complete with wine and the traditional Shabbat songs. Herr Rosenau's family, together with his teenage daughter, gave the soldier the feeling that he was not alone, certainly not an enemy, even in such a far and distant land.

The soldier was never able to come back again to see this kind family again. However, the warm impression that he had received, the experience of the Shabbat in a warm and caring Jewish home did not leave him. It meant so much to this young soldier that when he finally returned to Duluth, Minnesota, his home town, he took time out to sit down and write a letter to the German Jew who had touched his life with such kindness. This was is 1917. For some unknown reason, although Herr Rosenau received the letter it was never answered. It was placed in a desk drawer and there it rested for twenty one years.

Time moves on. Ruth, the teenage daughter of the German Jew, has grown up and married a German Jew by the name of Eugen Wienberg. She now has three small children. The oldest is a boy of eleven. The time is a bad time for the German Jews. The year is 1938. The dreaded Adolf Hitler has taken hold upon Germany and anti Jewish proclamations are being contrived and enforced on a continually regular basis. Herr Rosenau is now a grandfather. He is bothered about the dark and dismal future for himself and his fellow Jews in Germany. He doesn't pay attention to his eleven year old grandson, Sigbert, as he is rummaging through his desk looking for something of interest. Suddenly a foreign postage stamp catches his eye. He pulls out the envelope with the postage stamp from America. "Grandfather, can I have this?"

Twenty one years have past since he received the letter. "Yes, take it," the grandfather replies. After years of giving, an old forgotten envelope makes his grandson happy. He takes it home to his mother. "Look, look what grandfather has given me!"

The mother and her husband, Herr Wienberg eye the envelope with curiosity. The letter is still inside. They remove the letter and read it. It is the thank you letter from the American service man, from twenty-one years ago.

The mother remembers the young man. "Let's write to him! Maybe he will remember us and sponsor us, enabling us to immigrate to America" (It must be remembered that the U.S.A. did not let refugees come to it's shores freely. However if some one would sponsor you, then there was a chance.)

Looking on the envelope, they saw that there was no return address only the name, Alex Lurye, and the city and state, Duluth, Minnesota. "We have no future in Germany, we must get out before this mad man, Hitler, begins to do worse things to the Jews".

So they wrote a letter addressed only as follows:

Alex Lurye
Duluth, Minnesota
What can you do? Can you send a letter to a person in a large city without a street address and expect it to be delivered? Of course not. You would have to be foolish to think that it would get to its destination. But sometimes it works out. In this case, Alex Luyre had become a wealthy businessman who was well known in Duluth, a town of over a hundred thousand people. The postmaster delivered the letter.

When Alex received it, after a lapse of twenty one years, he quickly sent a return letter acknowledging his receipt of their letter and pledging to help bring the Wienberg family to Duluth. Alex kept his promise. The entire Wienberg family was brought over in that year and arrived in May of 1938. Shortly thereafter, the Rosenau family came over to America.

In Duluth, the Wienberg family began working hard to make life bearable through the depression era. Sometimes two jobs were necessary for both the father and mother in order to make it through the week. Yet in Duluth as in Seldes, Germany, the family made sure that the Shabbat would be joyously honored.

The rest of the family was quickly brought over to the states. Unfortunately, the horrible World War II swiftly came. The rest of German Jewry was destroyed.

Yet the kindness that Herr Rosenau had given to a stranger twenty one years earlier had come full circle. Because of their kindness, with out any thought of personal gain, Herr Rosenau and his family were spared from the horrible fate of their fellow German Jews. The chessed that they had so warmly given to others without desiring payment in return had come back to them with dividends. The entire family was saved.

Today that family has sprouted and grown. A family blessed with many children and grandchildren and great-grand-children (Bli Iyin Hara). All have taken upon themselves always to honor the Shabbat.

Doing chessed is the Jewish way. Helping another Jew, without trying to receive a thing in return. Pure and unadulterated kindness.

Mussar Sefarim

There are many great mussar sefarim. Shaarei Teshuva [Rabbenu Yonah], Chovos Halevavos [Rabbenu Bechaye], Messilas Yesharim [Ramchal], Ohr Yisrael [R' Yisrael Salanter], Chochma U'mussar [Alter Mi'Kelm], Ohr Hatzafun [Alter Mi'Slabodka], Da'as Chochma U'Mussar [R' Yerucham Levovitz], Sichos Mussar [R' Chaim Shmuelevitz], my personal favorite Alei Shor [R' Shlomo Volbe] and many many more!! These books can inspire, enlighten and edify - if learned properly.

But the most powerful mussar sefer of all is called "Sefer" Beis HaCholim.

You learn to appreciate what you have, what you don't have, what really matters and what your priorities should be. But in order to learn the right lessons it helps immensely to learn the other sefarim. So even though my son and I just went through two very trying days both physically and emotionally I hope that we are better people for it.

One more lesson it brings home very powerfully is how important it is to daven for others. Ill people are out of sight - out of mind. Even when we hear that someone is suffering it cannnot be compared to seeing their suffering first hand. I was lying in the children's ward in the hospital listening to sweet innocent children crying the whole night. It is heartbreaking and reminds one how much we need the Geulah.

May we be zocheh to see a speedy fulfillment of the pasuk in this week's parsha "vihasirosi machala mikirbecha".

Refuah But Not Yet Shelaimah

I thank everyone who davened for my son. BARUCH HASHEM he has returned home!!

In Modern Hebrew an appendix is called a "Tosephtan".

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What Does An Appendix Have To Do With Tosaphos?

Last night I pulled a not so delightful all-nighter in Shaare Tzedek hospital as I had to rush my son there for an emergency appendectomy. BICHASDEI HASHEM it looks like it went well but PLEASE daven for him - Shmuel Alexander ben Necha Gittel b'soch shear cholei yisrael [and believe me I can tell you from first hand knowledge that there are a lot of them!].

But I can't end without a little Torah. R' Shlomo Zalman Aurbach pointed out that in Shmoneh Esrei we call Hashem "Rophey cholei AMO YISRAEL" - He heals the Jews. Whereas in Asher Yatzar we conclude with the more universal "Rophe Chol Basar." - He heals everyone. Why the switcheronee?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Morasha: Not Just The Name Of A Summer Camp

On a recent post we pointed out an apparent contradiction between the pasuk which says that Torah is an inheritance and the Mishna in the second chapter of Pirkei Avos that states that the Torah is NOT an inheritance.

My friend R' Amichai Shmuel ben Elka answered that the pasuk says that the Torah is an inheritance to the Jewish people whereas the Mishna is talking about the individual. Excellent answer! Indeed it behooves us to share our Torah with other Jews and not keep it for ourselves. Torah belongs to all of us.

The Sfas Emes answers that the Mishna states "Prepare yourself to learn Torah for it is not an inheritance" - the PREPARATION is not an inheritance - while the Torah is.

Many people keep the mitzvos but the preparation for mitzvos is a lost art. Rav Soloveitchik once commented that American Jewry has recovered Shabbos but still does not have Erev Shabbos. The insight is profound, requiring expansive commentary but I like to keep these posts as I was at my bar-mitzvah - very short!!!

With Love and Deep Friendship

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

A Touchy Issue: "Shomer Negiyah" - Part 2

It is a big mistake.

People think that keeping the Torah is the RIGHT thing to do. But it is certainly not in my best interests. The best thing for ME is not to keep the Torah but I'll do it for G-d. To paraphrase a young boy in 1919 "It ain't so". [Bonus points if you e-mail me the reference].

The Zohar says that the Torah is 613 great pieces of advice. Hashem created us and whatever he tells us is for OUR best. In this world and the next. A mitzva is life. An averah is death. Period.

With that in mind we will proceed. Young people often discuss the issue of physical contact. "Are you Shomer?". There is a mistaken premise that underlies this question. That is that we get to choose. "She chooses to be "shomeres" and I choose not to be [fortunately we are not going out...]". But there is no choice!! We can choose to swallow tylenol or cyanide. But cyanide is DEATH. Negiyah is death. The former is physical death and the latter is spiritual death. Both are greatly discouraged to say the least. L'chaim!!!!

One other point [which has been made before me so I take no credit for originality]. People assume that if they don't touch members of the other gender they are home free. No more Halachic issues. But, as they say in the Yeshivos "It's not so pashut".

1. It is forbidden to act with "kalus rosh" [frivolity] towards members of the opposite gender. What is "kalus rosh"? Well if you go to certain summer camps and certain hotel lobbies and other such venues you can see examples of this.

2. It is forbidden to gaze at a women in order to enjoy her beauty.

3. It is forbidden to see those parts of a womans body that are normally covered. In other words mixed swimming is biblically prohibited!! Not a "modern chumra".

4. The Shulchan Aruch rules that men and women should stay "very very" far away from each other [for non marriage purposes]. [A tough one to explain away for the advocates of a co-ed environment who would like to remain faithful to the Halacha].

5. It is forbidden to have illicit sexual thoughts.

I have not provided sources but anyone who wants to learn more can look in the sfarim: Toras Hahistaclus [for a stricter approach] and Kdoshim Tihiyu [for a more lenient approach].

But worry not. Hashem gave us a yetzer hara but He also gave us the perfect antidote - a spouse!! When one gets married they can become truly holy. Hence the word for marriage "Kiddushin" - Sanctity.

So to refrain from engaging in physical contact before marriage is a good start but the ultimate goal is complete kedusha - before marriage and after. Those who keep the laws vigilantly will be duly rewarded - in this world and the next.

Goodness - I have sooooooo much more to say on the topic but I will leave it here and wait to be enlightened [either in the comments section or by e-mail] by my sweet friends and teachers.

With Love and Friendship

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Shomer Negiyah: Part 1

"Rabbi, I have decided to become shomer negiyah."

How many times I have heard that statement over the years. It is definitely a positive developement. The foundation of ones service of Hashem is purity in these matters. The Arizal taught that the the entire exile is to overcome the tests we in encounter in this area. Indeed, in Kabbala, purity in sexual matters is called "Yesod" - foundation. If one is not careful about Yesod even if they excel in other aspects of Avodas Hashem, their relationship with Hashem lacks a foundation. And we know what happens to a buildiing without a foundation.

What strikes me is that after 12 years of Jewish education in "Modern Orthodox" day schools there are very few students who are "shomer negiyah". I have a book entitled "The Scandal Of The Mis-Education Perpretrated By Orthodox Day Schools". Students who spent thousands of hours in a classroom cannot read basic jewish texts, do not know the rudiments of Jewish belief, have almost no knowledge of practical halacha and are not committed to a halachic lifestyle [even those halachos of which they are aware].Imagine what a outcry there would be if after twelfth grade the average student could not read and understand a basic text in english or was on a third grade level in math. The average elementary school child that I know in Yerushalayim is much more advanced than the average Shana Aleph boy. Not to mention all of the other [much more serious] problems that exist. Vehamayvin Yavin. And for this parents pay in excess of 15,000$ a year PER CHILD. Now I am NOT blaming anyone in particular. Not the teachers, not the parents, not the students and not the general culture. I am serving in the role of diagnostician and not healer. There is a problem and something must be done. [When I think back to what I didn't know when I started Yeshiva I am struck by my almost complete ignorance. My "Tikkun" is to make sure that my own children are not similarily deprived.]

How do you get your hands on this book? I haven't written it yet. And I don't think I will. Even though I am very popular with my wife and children, I am well aware that most people wouldn't really care what I had to say and would certainly not make the radical changes that I would recommend in order to amelieorate the problem. So I will stick my nose back in my beloved seforim and hope that someone more influential does something about it.

Truth is, this post was meant to discuss the issue of "shomer negiyah". But I got off on a tangent [as is my wont]. So more on S.N. in our next post bl"n. In the meantime



Friday, February 09, 2007

Beis Yaakov

The Torah is not a history book or a science book or a law book. You can learn history, science and law from the Torah. But the Torah is primarily intended to be a Toras Chaim - a guide to living life.

So here is an extemely valuable lesson that one can learn from this weeks Parsha [see chapter 19/3-7 with Rashi].

MARRIED MEN: SPEAK TO YOUR WIVES GENTLY AND SOFTLY AND TELL THEM HOW SPECIAL THEY ARE. Make a habit out of this and you will live happily ever after!!!

Shabbos is an acronym for "shalom bayis". Good Shabbos and enjoy the shalom bayis.

Answer To "Moshe Was A Kollel Man" etc.

Look in the "comments" for answers proposed by my friends and Rabbeim.

I looked around and found that the Imrei Emes [son of the Sfas Emes] in the likkutim answered that to judge a true judgement is so difficult and strenuous that it can wear a person out even after a short time.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Where Is The Steak That I Ordered?!!

I am very fortunate to learn Torah in a Yeshiva. However, my ultimate goal is not merely to expand my range of knowledge. "Tachlis chochma teshuva u'maasim tovim". The learning must make me a better person. If not - I'm missing the point. That is why I get so excited when I hear a story that sheds new light on how to be an ethical personality [a "baál mussar" in yeshivish].

I heard this story from Rav Zwieg shlita about Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky Shlita [Rosh Yeshiva in Philadelphia]. Rav Kaminetsky was eating at a hotel and constantly thanked the waitress telling her how delicious the food is. Upon being asked why he is complimenting the taste of the food to the waitress who didn't prepare it, he explained that when a person does a favor for you they want to feel like they are doing the greatest possible favor. Therefore he thanked the waitress not only for serving the food but for serving delicious food. This way she feels even better about what she did!!

The story doesn't end here. The next meal he asked the waitress "Where are your glasses?". Wow. As Rav Zwieg pointed out, for most of us a waiter or waitress is just a pair of hands. They only have value insofar as they are serving us. Beyond that, who cares. Rav Shmuel related to her as a person. "Where are your glasses?". [By the way she answered that she was wearing her contacts.]

Rav Yaákov Kaminetsky [R' Shmuel's father] a true Baál Mussar, would be proud.

May we all truly care about each other.

Dad And Mom - You're The Greatest

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zatz"l defined the mitzva of honoring ones parents as follows:

"I have received a tradition that the mitzva of honoring ones parents is not properly fulfilled unless the child truly admires and respects his parents. A child must find qualities in his [or her] parents where they excel more than anyone else. For if a child does not truly admire his parents then even if he feeds them and serves them he has not fulfilled the mitzva of honoring ones parents at all."


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Great New Shiur

The Rebbe Shlita gave a super-duper shiur today [in hebrew] on the Melacha of Havara followed up with a discussion of how one should dress for davening. Check it out in the Halacha section!!!

Moshe Rabbeinu Was A Kollel Man!! [With A Small Job On The Side]

In Parshas Yisro the Torah teaches us that Moshe judged the Jewish people from morning until night. The Gemara in Shabbos [10] says that this cannot be !! For if Moshe was constantly judging when did he have time to learn Torah. Rather it must be that he judged the Jews for only a short time daily and the rest of the time he learned. And the pasuk is teaching that if one judges a true judgement he is considered a partner to G-d in creation. See the Gemara there and Rav Kook's profound explanation in his "Ain Ayah".

My wife asked me the following question. If in fact Moshe only judged for a short period of time then why does Yisro chide Moshe that all of this judging is going to wear him out because he is overexerting himself? He was barely working. Most of the day he was learning!? [I then saw that the Maharsha asked the same question. Should I start calling my wife Marsha?] I didn't know what to answer her. Could you help me out.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

One Reason Why I Didn't Attend Harvard

Within Contemporary Orthodoxy there are many different groups. These groups differ on a host of issues and it would be enriching if each group learned and gained from the others.

However there are a number of principles which are not subject to dispute. If one does not except these principles he or she is beyond the pale. One of these principles is the Divinity of the Torah and the acceptance of the Torah at Mount Sinai by the entire Jewish people. As none other than Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, if the Torah is not Divine then our whole religion is meaningless. Another uncontested belief is that pre-marital relations is absolutely prohibited. Even the most liberal and modern sleep-away camps frown upon such behavior.

Which brings me to my question. How is it that so many children from Orthodox homes attend secular colleges. On the college campus it is axiomatic that the Torah is not Divine and that there is nothing wrong with pre-marital relations [and a lot right with it...]. I just received an email from a friend that he forwarded to me from N.Y.U. They are now offering housing where men and woman will live together in the same apartments!!! Until now if one lived in the dorm they would at least have to visit the next room over but now the sin lives in the very same room!!! As my friend [a Penn graduate] wrote "Hashem Yerachem".

I know, I know. Our young people should be strong enough to withstand the tests of faith and sexual temptations. But the reality is that they are not doing so. [Even Abaye in the Gemara said about himself that he would not be able to withstand the temptation of being alone with a woman.] Yes, there are a number of exceptions to the rule - I am friendly with many of them. But one doesn't serve food to a child if it might very well kill him because there have been those who ate and survived.

Gadol hamachtio yoser min hahorgo - causing one to sin is worse than killing them. Physical death is only in this temporal world. Spiritual death - sin - is for eternity.

I am aware that problems also exist at religious institutions but they cannot be compared to those that exist at secular institutions.

Yes indeed. In a previous post I claimed to be open-minded. So if someone shows me that FROM A TORAH PERSPECTIVE that one should attend an institution where there are rampant breaches in sexual purity and a completely materialistic lifestyle and outlook - please do so. But please keep in mind the Rambam in hilchos deos [6\1]. And if someone is concerned that one cannot make a living if they attend a Jewish College - well, I have never met a starving Y.U. or Touro [or Johns Hopkins for that matter] graduate!

Note: This is not a personal attack against any individual chas v'shalom. I love individuals!! My intent is to point out a phenomenom that I believe to be scandalous.

With Love and Friendship

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Flattery And Fone Number - Or Phlatery And Phone Number

Recently I asked how Rabbeinu Yonah could say that the prohibition of flattery is yehareg vál yaavor. A shiur on the topic was posted in the Halacha section.

My telephone number has been changed to 646-461-1682. In Israel it remains 02-6289148.

Peace and Friendship.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Getting Hooked

Recently I heard that a radio station ran a water drinking contest. The prize - a video game. One of the participants drank to much water and tragically died.

I learn two things from this. One: Water is very good for you. But too much of any good [physical] thing is unhealthy. Two: People are BORED!! Otherwise how would they have time for such contests.

The Torah says that the "mon" was a test. The test was - explains the Chovos Halevavos - what are they going to do with all of their free time! They don't have to work - NOW WHAT?

That is an acute problem today. People have too much free time. That is one of the reasons for all of the drugs, alcohol, gambling, and myriads of other problems that afflict not only the Gentiles but also those who all too often mimic their ways - US.

The answer - get hooked on drugs.

The Gemara calls Torah a drug. It is addictive and boy can it give you a high!! But it takes hard work to get addicted. But it is worth it- for it is the greatest drug of all. A "sam hachaim" - an elixir of life. Fulfilling, meaningful and eternal!!

And free. The best things in life are free.

A Woman Must Have A Prominent Position In The Treasury Department - That Would Explain The Pink 200 Shekel Bill!!

Last night I was at a sheva brachos and I heard a cute vort in the name of R' Pincus za"l that is worth repeating.

On the dollar bill it says "In G-d We Trust". It is easy to trust in G-d when you have dollars in your pocket - the trick is trusting in G-d when there are no dollars in your pocket!!

The Four Questions

I am estimating that it is almost half-time at the Super Bowl [believe it or not I am not watching the game] so there is nothing better to do than discuss a few kashyas. For Purim - which is coming up!!!

1. Rebbi Yehuda had great difficulty drinking wine and therefore only drank it for Kiddush, Havdala and the four cups of the Seder [Nedarim 49b] . What about Purim? And Chol Hamoed? [It is a Mitzva to drink wine on Chol Hamoed]

2.In the Yerushalmi it says in the name of R' Nosson that one can read the Meggillah for the whole month of Adar. [See Shulchan Aruch 788/7.]

Problem: The first Mishna explicitly says that one can read no earlier than the 11th of Adar.

3. It says in the Shulchan Aruch [794/3] that we give money on purim to whomever asks. The Ritva [Bava Metzia 78A] explains that we don't check to see if he is poor or not. Because on Purim we give not only for tzedaka but in order to enhance the simcha and to give gifts - so we can give even to the rich - if they ask.

Goodness gracious - what does he mean? The Pasuk says Matanos Lévyonim - Gifts for the POOR.

4.The Trumas Hadeshen learns from the Rosh that the law that we require 10 people to read Parshas Zachor is biblical.

Problemo: We rule that one can read the Megillah without a minyan. Yet, in the Gemara [18a] we derive the obligation to read the Megillah from Parshas Zachr. And if one must read Zachor with ten people then it would follow that Megillah would also require ten.

4 kashas corresponding to the 4 quarters!!!! [If the game goes into O.T. please email me so that I can add a kasha.]

Go Walter Payton!!!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

How Come There Are No Women Named Imma

This week we read the Ten Commandments. It has already been pointed out that they are not called the Ten Suggestions. Sooooooooo not liberal.

Anyway let's "take the fifth". Honor thy father and mother. The Halacha is that one is not allowed to call their parents by name. What is the Halacha if ones fathers name is "Abba". Can he be called Abba? [Or if ones Bubby is named Bobby]

What do you think.


He was something special that King David. Torah Sage, Warrior, Mystic, Poet, Leader and Hotelier [one of the fanciest in the Middle East]. In Tehillim he talks of the Majesty and Supremacy of Man together with his utter nothingness [see chapter 8].

In our brain alone we have 1,000,000,000,000 cells [who was the poor guy who had to count..]. The synapses [inner connections] in our mind are virtually infinite. A Russian scientest estimated that the number of synapses we have would be one followed by 10 million kilometers of zeros. Wow!! Ma rabu maasecha Hashem!!!

The Tolna Rebbe Shlita related that he read the following story in Neil Armstrong's autobiography: Before they sent him to the moon he underwent a thorough physical examination. The Doctors discovered that he had a cold. Since they didn't feel that it would endanger him and there is no cure for the common cold he was sent to the moon. When he arrived all of the sudden he felt an irresistable urge to sneeze. He tried to suppress it because he was afraid that it would damage his mask. Finally when he realized that he was going to sneeze he prayed to G-d that he would not be harmed. He sneezed and nothing happened. He then broke out in laughter when he realized that Man is brilliant enough to build a spaceship and send someone to the moon but at the same time cannot find a cure for the common cold.

Modern science has made such great advances yet has not yet figured out how to create one cell.

Indeed מה אנוש כי תזכרנו ובן אדם כי תפקדנו - ןתחסרהו מעט מאלוקים הוד והדר תעטרהו

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Height Of Prayer

In "Biblically non sequitur" I asked why Moshe sat down when his arms were tired.

The Rosh Yeshiva answered that Moshe [according to Chazal] was 10 amos tall. The only way that Yehoshua and Chur could reach his arms [to hold them up] was if he sat down first!!!


The Rosh Hayeshiva to whom I refer is Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin - the Dean of the Volozhin Yeshiva! Every day after davening he would sit down with the students while still in Tallis and Teffilin and teach a Chumash class. He gathered his thoughts together and published a book known as "Haamek Davar". So you see, they taught "Bible" in Volozhin.

An interesting historical anecdote.

[By the way, his son R' Meyer Berlin/Bar-Ilan wrote a fascinating book called "MiVolozhin LiYerushalayim" where one can get a glimpse of life in Volozhin.]

Good Shabbos my most delicious friends!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

He Said Such A Nice Kaddish For His Coach!!

I don't believe it. Informed sources tell me that they have come out with Rocky 6!

I grew up on Rocky. He inspired and galvinized me! I will never forgot when he ran up the stairs of the Spectrum to the tune of exciting Rocky music. Till this very day sometimes I will scream in a deep, throaty, guttural voice "ADRIEEEEENNE I LOOOOVE YOOOOOOOOU". At which point my wife will look at me quizzically wondering who Adrienne is and why I feel so strongly towards her.... Little does she know that I have momentarily transformed into Rocky Balboa barely able to see after his face was battered up in a fight and who wants his beloved wife to come forward.

But in spite of many people who would like to believe to the contrary - I don't see how watching a movie will bring me any closer to my goal of cleaving to Hashem. So I will not see Rocky 6! Even though [to my great dismay] many Yeshiva students have it on their I-Pod.

But I must learn Mussar from Sly!! He is about sixty years old. Much to old to box. And yet he is still boxing!!!!

"Ki naár Yisrael vóhavehu" exclaims the Navi. G-d loves us because we remain young, vibrant and filled with vigor!! We have davened so many times - but it never gets old!! We continue to daven with such enthusiasm and excitement. Sure we said kiddush last week and the week before and the week before etc. etc. but this week we will say Kiddush as if it is the first time that we have ever said it!!! Our Avodas Hashem will never get old.


When was the last time you walked out of shul on a Tuesday morning and said "Boy, was that inspiring". Probably not in a while. So next time you are in Shul, go up to the Bima and start humming the Rocky theme song and scream "COME ON GUYS - LETS DO IT FOR ROCKY!!!"

"Baruch Sheamar Vihaya Haólam...."

Biblically Non Sequitur

There is a seemingly strange pasuk in this weeks parsha. At the end of the Parsha Moshe raises his hands to pray for the Jews. "Moshe's hands grew heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it..." When his hands grew heavy he sat down?? His legs weren't tired - his hands were!! Why did he have to sit down. The Pasuk continues to relate that Aharon and Chur supported his hands - which makes a lot of sense. But why did he have to sit down?

Let's sit down and discuss this!

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Segula - 40 days at the Kotel

About me

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