Saturday, March 31, 2007

When One's Neck Hurts

Funny the way the four sons are presented. One of them we know only his name - Tom - and one of them we are where he is from - Russia. But the other two we don't know their name or where they are from.

Anyway, the Gemara Yerushalmi has a different version than what we have in our Hagada of what the Rasha says. מה העבודה הזאת לכם - מה כל הטירחה שאתם מטריחים עלינו.
In other words: Keeping all of these mitzvos is a MAJOR PAIN IN THE NECK!!

How can we bring this Rasha back into the fold [or maybe that little Rasha that dwells within us]? Show him the JOY of Mitzva observance. It is fun. If it is not fun we are not doing it right! So especially if you have children - be creative. Think of ways to show them how exciting Torah and Mitzvos are. Pesach time - and all year round.

Friday, March 30, 2007

When It Costs You

There is a beautiful story about R' Shlomo Carlebach. One time he was in the Catskills in a restaurant. He ordered a drink which cost a quarter and gave the waitress 3 Dollars and told her to keep the change. A person who was with R' Shlomo said "That is quite a hefty tip for a 25 cent drink!!" R' Shlomo smiled and said "You don't understand, I am giving a large tip to make up for all those other Yiddelach who don't tip at all". [The story is in the book "Holy Brother". I hope I got all the details right.]

Rashi says at the beginning of this weeks Parsha that when it comes to mitzvos that involve "chisaron kis" - monetary loss, people need extra encouragement to do those mitzvos. And he is talking about the kohanim in the Beis HaMikdash!! A fortiori [fancy word for kal vachomer - certainly] us!! People are generally VERY attached to their money.

The Gemara gives Iyov [in English they call him Job. Why don't they call him by his job. Like "Lawyer" or "Doctor". Why the ambiguity?] a mammoth compliment. Iyov vatran bimamono haya" - Iyov was very easygoing when it came to his money. He was the sort of guy who tipped generously, gave his workers nice bonuses , didn't haggle over the last quarter when buying his lulav and esrog etc.. A lovely characteristic!!!

How does one do this? There was once a fellow who wanted to change his name to "Lee". Why? Because the pasuk says "Lee hakesef v'lee hazahav nioom Hashem" - "Gold and silver are mine ["Lee"] says Hashem. He wanted the pasuk to be understood that Lee has all the gold and silver!!

We just have to remember that our money is not ours. We are given Hashem's money to spend on good things. And it is much easier to spend someone elses money!

Good Shabbos Beloved Friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yours Truly

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

P.S. Please daven for Chaim ben Chaya, Aharon Shlomo ben Devorah and Pessa bas Chana Leah

Nobody Is Perfect

For many years I had the following question: Let's say someone learns a masechta but doesn't understand a certain sugya [or maybe dozed off for a few lines], can they still make a siyum? It would seem not because they haven't properly learned [at least on a simple level] the totality of the masechta. But that would make life difficult because just about every masechta has at least one really really difficult sugya.

How glad I was when I saw the other day that R' Shlomo Zalman ruled that in such an instance one can still make a siyum! [See Halichos Shlomo Page 181]

So First Borners - A hearty appetite!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

We Are Still Here

Today a friend quoted to me a famous line of Mark Twain :"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

This reminded me of the Jewish people. We say in the Hagada שלא אחד בלבד אלא שבכל דור ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותינו והקב"ה מצילנו מידם - Not only ONE but in every generation they try to destroy us and Hashem saves us from their hand! Wow! And the Hagada was compiled over a thousand years ago - and what we have seen since then. They really DO try to destroy us in every generation.

The Sfas Emes learns a little bit differently: Shelo echad bilvad - Only the fact that we are not united [!!} is what threatens to destroy us in every generation.

My sweetest friends!! Hashem wants to send Mashiach. He is just waiting for us to be worthy. And Eliyahu HaNavi teaches in Sefer Tanna D'Bei Eliyahu that the moment we truly love each other, Mashiach is here.

An Issue That Has Been Bugging Me

Looking for An Easy Salad? No problem. Rip open a bag of
lettuce, add dressing, and voilà – you’ve got your salad. Want
something more exotic? Try the freezer section – broccoli, cauliflower,
asparagus, frozen strawberries – all strictly kosher and ready to use. No
big deal, you think. Couldn’t be easier.

See the following article on the ou website. If one is going away for Pesach one should ask the Mashgiach in the hotel how carefully the vegetables are checked for bugs. Remember, bugs are a great source of protein. But they are gross!! And five biblical prohibitions per bug! And our vegetables are INFESTED. So beware.

Inspired Too

The name of the film I made reference to in an earlier post is "Inspired Too". Go to for a preview and purchasing details. At the 1.42 mark my brother Jonathan appears on the screen. I know that he is much better looking than I am. That is why he is a movie star.

Get the film and spread it around! I heard that it is really something. [I might break my many year streak of not seeing movies for this one.]


When little Moishe was born his parents decided that they are going to raise him in complete holiness. In a completely cloistered environment. He remained at home until age 3 while his mother watched him. Then he was taken care of by his father and rabbeim WITHOUT SEEING ANY FEMALES. And so he grew up learning and davening in the privacy of his home. At the age of 18 after Moishe completed his study of Yoreh Deah his father wanted him to be tested by the local Rabbi in order to receive his smicha. But for that he had to leave his house. So, his father took him out to the Rabbi's house and on the way there Moishe saw a group of teenage girls walking by. Moishe asked his father "Tatte, what are those?" His father answered "Katchkes" [geese]. "Tatte, can you buy me some of those katchkes."

The Gemara teaches that only those foods which can potentially become chametz , are kosher for matza. So for example, rice cannot become chametz, so it is also not kosher for matza. The question is, why take the risk? Wouldn't it be better if we could bake matza without the danger of it becoming chametz? It seems that the Torah wants us to play with fire.

The Tolna Rebbe Shlita explained that chametz represents the yetzer hara. Matza is the food of purity. Hashem wants up to deal with our Yetzer Hara and emerge victorious. The yetzer hara is a necessary part of life. Indeed the Medrash calls the yetzer hara -"good". We bake flour that could theoretically become chametz and we defeat the yetzer hara by acting with zrizus [alacrity] ensuring that the flour does not leaven.

Of course, of course we don't bring the yetzer hara upon ourselves but our encountering it is inevitable [as we learn from the story about Moishe]. Our job is to overcome!!

Good luck!!!!!

Love and Blessings

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Nissan Quest - 5767

What a profound advertisement. Finally the superficial world of Madison Avenue has touched upon deeper spiritual issues!!!

"Nissan Quest 2007"

What is our quest this Nissan?

The holiday is called "Pesach" - Skipping Over. The books of Chassidus [based on the Medrash] explain that we have the opportunity to "skip" towards Hashem above and beyond our natural capabilities. "B'Chipazon Yatzasem MiMitzraim" explains Unkelos "Bibehiloo" we left Egypt. While "rushing". [See the Rambam's version of the Hagada.] We go in one night from "Mitchila Ovdei Avoda Zara Hayu Avoseinu" - At the beginning our fathers were Idolators - and then boom - "Váchshav Kervanu HaMakom Lávodaso", G-d has brought us close to His service. We made the jump!! We did it then - and we can do it today!!

So what is our Nissan Quest? To elevate ourselves above our narrow straits - "Mitzarim" - to the hights of spirituality and joy!!

By the way the Nissan Quest is a car. A mini-van. Not as exciting as leaving our personal and national exile.

Making Sure Augustus Marries A Holy Jewish Girl

The famous humorist Art Buchwald once remarked "The New Times is a dirty paper. When you pick it up you get ink all over your hands."

I find that the two most depressing parts of the N.Y. Times are the obituaries and the wedding announcements. The obituaries for obvious reasons. And the wedding announcements because it shows how the Jewish People are being lost. Augustus Cohen marries Tiffany O'Donovan. Rabbi Marcia Fisherman and Father Patrick Spiderman officiated. [Incidentally their names are misleading - she doesn't go fishing and he is not a father.] Their future children [Olivia, Edward and Peter - the latter named after the kallah's grandfather - an Irish bartender] will be raised as Goyim. Good thing. They ARE Goyim.

Anyway what can we do - practically?

A] Invite a not yet religious Jew from work/neighborhood etc. to your house for a Shabbos meal. Then invite them back. Cholent is a very effective kiruv tool.

B] Get involved in some organization such as Partners in Torah which arranges a chavrusa between a Jew who knows and a Jew who would like to know.

C] Aish HaTorah just made a movie [I am not sure what it is called] about laymen doing kiruv. It stars [among others] R' Yoseph Tzvi ben Henna Miriam - my brother and Master - and highlights his successful kiruv activities. R' Yoseph Tzvi has a very taxing job - but he still finds time to share with others the light of Torah. Watch the flick.

D] Daven [in the bracha of Hashevainu] that Jews should return to Hashem. And mean it.

E] When you meet someone - anyone - smile, be friendly and kind. In other words, be a walking Kiddush Hashem.

F] Add your own suggestions.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

When Punctuality Pays Off

For many the slowest day of the year is a day when we can't eat. So why is it called a FAST DAY?

We all know that on Erev Pesach the first-born boys fast. However, if there is a siyum then the Bechor can join and does not have to fast. Here is what happened: Baruch Brechyahu Becher who is a Bechor goes to shul on Erev Pesach to daven Shachris. Lo and behold - there is no siyum [the Rabbi already went away for Pesach with his family and nobody else thought about it.] But Baruch loves his Bagels [the last ones before Pesach!!] for breakfast. So he makes a bee-line to the neighboring shul and as he walks in everyone has just started eating!! The siyum [when he finishes the Masechta and mentions the Pappa Family] has JUST ended. Baruch is a minute late. Can he join?

Rav Shlomo Zalman and Rav Moishe Shternbuch say [and so implies the Mishna Brura] - NO WAY. In order to eat he must hear the actual siyum. He can't just come for the eats. The Steipler says WAY. He can eat.

Curing Insomnia

The Rashba was a scholar of great repute. A prized student of the Ramban and Rabbeinu Yonah and the teacher of the Ritva. He penned numerous works on Gemara and Halacha which are extremely popular until this very day. A great gaon!! No doubt about it.

So how is a Jew able to sleep at night when he sees the following Rashba: In Brachos [15a,d"h v'Rebbi Yossi] the Rashba writes that one "DOES NOT THINK IN ANY LANGUAGE". What??? I think in english [when I am relaxed] and in Amharic [when I get excited] and on occasion in Hungarian or Polish [when I feel like connecting to my roots]. But OF COURSE I think in a language. So do you!! So what does the Rashba mean?

The Roaring Lion [Shaágas Aryeh in simman 7] writes that it simply doesn't make sense. But wait!! We have established the credentials of the Rashba. He wouldn't say something in his Talmudic commentary unless it was compatible with logic. So lets try not to hear the roar and explain the Rashba. But how? Remember, a good explanation will cure the insomnia of many serious Talmudic Jews. So check out the Rashba inside, consult with other Torah Scholars and send in your conclusions.

I think that this Rashba is going to turn into an audio shiur on alleyways. But what should I say in the shiur?

That is the problem.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Going Krazy With Kiruv

Imagine that a man was walking in midtown Manhattan and started throwing fistfuls of HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS in the air while screaming "HEFKER" [or the english equivalent]. There would be a mad rush the likes of which has never been seen, to grab a few of the sought after pieces of paper [remember, money is just paper. Green paper with a picture of a dead politician]. The Zohar says that if we knew how much reward G-d has in store for someone who brings a Jew closer to Torah there would be a similar mad rush!! "Where is a Mechalel Shabbos? I need to speak to him now."
People, says the Zohar, would go crazy with kiruv!!

Kiruv is for EVERYONE!! Some full time. Some part time. But everyone is obligated. There are no less than 9 Mitzvos that one fulfills when they bring a Jew closer to Torah. And remember the Mishna in Pirkei Avos: Ohev es Habriyos Umikarvan LaTorah" - Love people and bring them close to Torah. It doesn't say [as Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook pointed out] to love people IN ORDER to bring them close to Torah. It says "love them" - sincerely and genuinely - and the outcome will be that they will come close to Torah. The following article is posted on the simple to remember website.

Our grandparents prayed for a melting pot. What they got instead was a meltdown!" - Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, Founder, National Jewish Outreach Program
As the year 2000 fast approaches, North America's Jewish population faces a disturbing set of trends that threatens the viability of Judaism on this continent in the next century -- The J2K (Jewish 2000) Problem. Unlike the persecution that the Jewish people have endured by the hands of others for over 3,000 years, Jews on this continent now face a "silent holocaust" stemming from within their very own communities and their very own households.

Today, of the approximately 6 million Jews in the United States, about 2 out of 3, either do not identify themselves Jewishly or maintain an affiliation with a synagogue. This staggering portrait of American Jewish life is perpetuated by a host of disturbing national trends, including a quickly growing rate of Jewish intermarriage, an extraordinary low birth rate, and a sharp increase in the number of children being raised as non-Jews.

In the past, Jews rallied together around a core of religious and ethnic traditions, such as synagogue affiliation, lighting of Shabbat candles and giving charity to Jewish institutions. These practices were first learned in the home and were enhanced over a lifetime of familial and communal interaction.
However today, North America's Jewish population has experienced an internal breakdown of both the family unit and the concept of community, that have unified the Jewish people for so long. As these ancient practices and rituals disappear, so do the number of Jewish people on this continent who consider themselves Jewish. So powerful is this meltdown of Jewish life, that Judaism in America, as we have known it for the last 300 years, will likely cease to exist in the new millennium.

Consider the following statistics*:

Jewish identity is declining sharply.

Of 5.6 million Jews, 2 million American Jews live in households identified as non-Jewish

60% of Jews below 40 years of age live in households identified as non-Jewish

20% of Jews over 60 years of age live in households identified as non-Jewish

Intermarriage rates are increasing dramatically.

Before 1965, 10% of Jews who married, did so outside the faith.

Since 1985, 52% of Jews who married have done so outside the faith.
Children are being raised as non-Jews.

1 million, or 54% of all American Jewish children under the age of 18 are being raised as non-Jews or with no religion.

Fertility Rates are not high enough to replenish the religion.
The average fertility rate of American Jewish women is 1.4 children per household.

The replacement level is 2.1 children.

Less emphasis is being placed on a Jewish education.

In 1962, 540,000 Jewish children were attending afternoon weekend schools, and 60,000 were enrolled in day schools. By 1990, fewer than 240,000 Jewish children attended afternoon /weekend schools and 140,000 attended day schools.
NET LOSS -- 220,000 Jewish children.

Traditional Shabbat observance is extremely low.

Only 36% of Jewish households light the Shabbat Candles.

Of the population that consists of people who were born Jewish and are Jewish by choice, only 11% attend synagogue weekly.

* All Statistics taken from Council of Jewish Federations' 1990 National Jewish Population Survey. This is the most comprehensive source of American Jewish data available

[My addendum- I think things have gotten MUCH worse since 1990]

When Hearing Aids - An In Depth Look

I couldn't do it!! I just couldn't.

I couldn't give a pat 2 line answer to the question posed in the post entitled "When Hearing Aids". Instead a shiur was posted in the Halacha section called "Hear-say". It was also a great excuse to escape from the intense Pesach cleaning which is rendering my house a true "Balagan Zone". [My wife permits this. She wants to be married to someone who doesn't only clean but learns also.]

I hope ya like it.

Forever Yours

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

It's Only A Niggun

My Father-In-Law z"l enjoyed the following story: A family was singing L'shana Haba'a BÝerushalayim at the conclusion of the Seder. The wife looked sorrowfully at her husband and said "But I don't want to be in Yerushalayim next year!! I love our beautiful house [4 floors] three cars, swimming pool etc. etc."

The husband answered "Don't worry darling, it's only a niggun. It's only a niggun."

I am so excited. I am having my seder in Yerushalayim. I was invited by my son's grandmother's husband's daughter-in-law's daughter's father's spouse. In other words - my wife. What luck. Great invite. But how am I going to say in the Hagada "Hashata Hacha, L'shana Habaá B'arah D'Yisrael." This year we are here [outside of Israel] next year we will be in Eretz Yisrael. But THIS YEAR many of us are in Israel?

The answer obviously is [and this is discussed by the Holy Tzaddik Rav Chatzkel Levenstein] that geographically we might be in Israel - but spiritually Israel is NOT YET what it is supposed to be. Hopefully, we pray at the seder, next year will be different!!

"Ya Gotta Believe"

It is 1973. The N.Y. Mets are celebrating in their locker room. A champagne drenched Tug McGraw [I don't know why he capitalized the G in the middle of his name. And it seems that I will never be able to ask him] screams exhuberantly into the T.V. camera "YA GOTTA BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!!!"

How right you were Reb Tug!!! We DO have to believe!

But it is not always so easy. Tuggy went to the grave without telling us how to deepen our belief.

But worry not - Dovid HaMelech enlightened us. "Heémanti ki ADABER". I believed because I spoke about it. Try it. You are eating breakfast, say "Thank you Hashem for Rice Krispies and milk. And this OJ is so refreshing. And Vitamin C included." Then when you go outside say "Thank you Hashem for the warm sun. Perfectly positioned!! Any closer we burn to death. Further - we freeze to death. It is so pleasant to enjoy the light and warmth of the sun. And that tomato that I ate last night could not have grown without it. Oh!!! A cool breeze! Thank you dear G-d for that cool breeze. I am walking. Wow!!! Thank you Hashem for not being paraplegic" etc. etc.

I could go on but there is not enough room in blogosphere to list the myriad of kindnesses that Hashem performs for us every second of every day of our life.

Of course that is what Seder Night is all about. Heémanti ki adaber. We want to inculcate ourselves and those around us with belief in Hashem. So we talk. And talk. And talk. V'chol hamarbeh lisaper b'yitzias Mitzraim harei zeh mishubach. Dayeinu. Dayeinu. Dayeinu.

Thanks for the inspiration Tuggy. And thanks for the advice [L'havdil] our dear King David. You make life special and meaningful!!

Love and Blessings for the Highest and Holiest Pesach ever.

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Sunday, March 25, 2007

When Hearing Aids

A man tells his friend "I just got a really great new hearing aid!!". "Terrific, what kind is it?" "Oh, a quarter to eleven."

We all know that there is a concept called shomea kóneh. If one hears a bracha with the intention to fulfill ones obligation the listener does so and can rely on the bracha as if he had said it himself. [There is question as to the exact mechanics of shomea kóneh. Does it mean that the listener is considered as if he has SAID the bracha or that he is still considered a listener but he nevertheless fulfills his obligation as if he had said it. See a brilliant tour de force on this issue in the sefer Siach Hasadeh which was written by the author of the Eretz Tzvi, Rav Aryeh Tzvi Frommer ZTZ"L HY"D, Rosh Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin].

So let's say Binyamin listens to a Bracha from Baruch on a banana and then decides [Binyamin] that he doesn't want to eat a banana after all. Is it a bracha l'vatala for Binyamin. [Baruch ate the banana so don't worry about him].

Sleeping And Bedikas Chametz: A Solution To Riddle-In

The answer to the Riddle-In is as follows. When we say HaMapil there is a possibility that we won't fall asleep. Yet we say it anyway since the bracha is said by one who INTENDS to go to sleep. And even if we are unsuccessful in our quest to catch some zzzz's it does not constitute a bracha l'vatala.

In the same way, if we make a bracha before we search for the Chametz and don't find any it is not a bracha l'vatala because the is made with the intention that if we find Chametz we will destroy it. Hence, according to the strict letter of the law it is not necessary to put out 10 pieces of bread [which is done to avoid the problem of bracha l'vatala in the event that we don't find anything else].

However practically speaking we put out the 10 pieces anyway.


Pursuant to the post 'Our "Leaders"' the following thought occured to me. If you wanted to use one adjective to describe someone REALLY horrible you could definitely come up with something better than "he doesn't fear G-d". It is not a compliment but there are worse appelations. Yet when the Torah describes Amalek it says "v'lo yarei Elokim" - they don't fear G-d?! That's all???

The answer is that if one doesn't fear G-d then any act of evil can be perpetrated. There is no restraint. And that is more dangerous than anything else.

To quote Dostoyevsky: "If there is no G-d - then anything is permitted."

After the Akeidah, Hashem says "now I know that you [Avraham] fear G-d." That is all? Is there no higher praise. Apparently - not!! If one fears G-d [truly] then he MUST do the right thing in any given situation. There is no choice.

A happy and successful week to all!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Vacationing - The Jewish Way

One time Rav Moshe zt"zl came to test ten year olds in M.T.J. on the perek of Shnaim Ochazim. When he enterd the classroom the first question he asked them was "What do you do after school?". One child piped up "Mir shpilen ball" - [We play ball]. Rav Moshe enjoyed the childs answer and said "Zayer gut. Ir darft shpilen ball, uber vee a Yid shpilt ball un nicht vee a Goy shpilt ball. Nicht vee vilder chayas, un nicht tzu shryin!! Ir darft shpilen ball, uber vee a Yid shpilt ball." [Very good. You should play ball, but like a Jew plays ball and not like a Goy plays ball. Not like wild animals, and no screaming. You should play ball, but like a Jew.]

Now is vacation time for many of us. And I echo the sentiments of Rav Moshe. Go on vacation. But like a Jew vacations. The food should be kosher. Those in the know will tell you that some establishments with kosher certification are kosher on paper only. The food itself is not. Find out. Remember - hotels are run in order to make money. Not in order to worry about the finer details of Halacha. Therein lies the problem. When it comes to money [as we have written in the past] peoples sense of propriety goes out the window.

Socializing like a Jew should socialize. The Rambam says that they used to appoint POLICEMEN to make sure that men and women do not mingle during the holiday. Indeed it is not a new problem. The fast of B'hab was enacted to atone for sins committed during the holiday. Remember, when we are on vacation our Yetzer Hara works overtime! What constitutes improper socializing? A good place to start is the very first pasuk of Tehillim. And if you don't know what he means I would be happy to privately share with you my understanding. Boys - find nice boys with whom to "hang out". Girls - find nice girls! You can really enjoy the company of someone of the same gender. Some of my best friends are male. If I try to explain to a female that during a certain game it was a "do or die situation" she will wonder why one would die because of a game. Is a game a matter of life and death. But many guys understand that it is!! If a female tries to explain to a male that she was simply MORTIFIED when she walked into shul and not one but TWO other girls were wearing the EXACT same dress that she bought for the yontiff, the male will not understand. He was wearing a navy-blue suit like 80 percent of the other men in shul and it didn't bother him at all!! But many a female will understand why it will take MONTHS to recover from such a humiliating experience.

Learning: What a great opportunity to finally learn Trei Asar. Remember boys, Tanach is not the exclusive domain of girls! Also, if you are single you can impress a girl by quoting Radaks in Yirmiyahu.

Mixed Swimming: Sorry. The steering commitee of the Hebrew Union College has not yet succeeded in convincing G-d that it is O.K.

Davening: Finally, nowhere to rush. Take your time. The words will taste like candy in your mouth.

Family: Get to know your parents, children, siblings etc. They are really neat people. Connect. Pesach is family time. "Seh L'bayis" - A sheep for the household. Listen to them speak. It will be mutually enriching. One of the foremost motifs of Pesach is GRATITUDE. Show your family how much you appreciate them. Mom - thanks for shlepping me around for nine months - and since then too. Dad - thanks for supporting me. According to Torah law you are only obligated to support me until age six. And you generously supported me until the day I told you that I am returning to Israel to learn for a second year! You're the greatest!! My dear sister - thanks for making me dinner when Mom is not home!! You get the picture.

And put on sun-screen. Sunburns can be painful.

Love and blessings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Email this post to a friend. I think it could be beneficial!!

Try!!!??? - The Resolution

Why can a person with glasses anticipate the future? Because he has "four-sight".


In a previous post I asked why the Rambam says that one should TRY [yishtadel] not to leave over any meat from the Pesach offering. It is forbidden!! "Try" doesn't express the severity of the act.

The Tolna Rebbe shlita was bothered by this question for many years and asked numerous people until he finally realized what the Rambam means. The Rambam is not referring to the prohibition when he says "try". He is referring to the means that one takes to prevent a transgression. If one has a big animal he should make sure to invite enough people to eat with him. The bigger the animal the more people. That is "yishtadel". So the issur itself is severe and absolutely forbidden. Therefore one should have the foresight to do "hishtadlus" in advance to prevent the averah.

[Note: 2 very hungry Yeshiva Bachurim will almost always suffice no matter how large the animal].

May we be zoche to eat a delicious korban pesach this year. [For me it will be easy. I can still have my seder at home.]

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Avoiding Waste - A Non-Ecological Study

A while back I asked why Chazal use the strange language "Hamevazbez" al yevazbez yoser michomesh". - If one "wastes" money on tzedaka it should not be more than a fifth of ones money. Why is giving tzedaka called "waste"? It should say "hamechalek" - if one dispenses, or "hanosen" - if one gives?

I saw an answer in my Rebbe Shlita's sefer on Chumash in the name of the great Sefardi Rav, The Chida. A person who gives tzedaka might not be doing it out of the goodness of his heart. He might be doing it because he is naturally a wasteful person. And this might lead to wastefulness in other areas [renovating an already renovovated home, buying a new car six months after the last car etc.]. Therefore Chazal told us that even with respect to tzedaka one should not "waste" more than a fifth.

[My addendum: There are numerous "kulos" to give more than a fifth. [I LOVE Yidden who search for such kulos.] One is to save a life. Another is if one gives in order to receive atonement for ones sins. Which greatly narrows the application of this halacha.

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

How does the bracha of HaMapil [that we say before we go to sleep] impact the Mitzva of Bedikas Chametz?

[If you can answer this one you are as smart as the Vilna Gaon and you are my Rebbe and Master]

Finding Time For Everyone

A lady used to come periodically to Rav Moshe Feinstein's office in Yeshivas Tiferes Yerushalayim on the Lower East Side. Someone asked her why she came. She explained that she received letters from Russia which were written in Yiddish. She did not speak the language so she brought the letters to Rav Moshe to be translated.

A man who was one of the leaders of world jewry. A Rosh Yeshiva. A Posek who had to deal with the most complex questions. But he still had time for the "small" person.

That is a true leader. And a true Tzaddik.

Crime Doesn't Pay

A Jew committed a serious crime and it looked like he was going to be sentenced to 20 years in jail. His lawyer told him that if he tells the judge how his father abused him as a child it will likely shorten the sentence. Is it permitted?

Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein [Rav Elyashiv's son-in-law and Rav of Ramat Elchanan in Bnei Brak] answered that it is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. The Torah says "Arur makle aviv vímo" - Accursed is one who degrades his father or mother [Dvarim 27/16]. Even though it would mean sitting in jail if one refrains from doing so.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Bomb On The Ran - Defused!!

The question on the Ran that I presented in a previous post tickled my fancy. A shiur was given on the topic in the Chagim section entitled "When You Are Not Sure: A Study Of Rabbinic Doubt".

Our "Leaders"

Can they be trusted?

In Parshas Vayera we read about how Avraham told Avimelech that Sara was his sister. Avimelech takes her and then G-d appears to Avimelech in a dream and tells him "Don't touch her!! She is a married woman." Avimelech goes back to Avraham and demands to know why he wasn't forthright with him and instead deceived him by saying that Sara was his sister. Here Avraham says words that resonate throughout history.
רק אין יראת אלקים במקום הזה והרגוני על דבר אשתי

There is BUT no fear of G-d in this place and they will slay me on the matter of my wife."[20/11]

Avimelech, explained Avraham, I couldn't tell you the truth for only ONE reason. You don't fear G-d. And someone who doesn't fear G-d is liable to do ANYTHING. How could I trust that you wouldn't kill me.

People used to think that if one was educated and cultured then they would be moral. This theory was proven spurious by the Nazis. I once heard that two thirds of the leaders of the Nazi Party had doctorates. They listened to classical music. Art. Philosophy. They had it all. And world history has never seen such beasts in the guise of human beings. There are still some people who make that claim. It is absurd. An education does not make one a better person. If one doesn't fear G-d there is nothing preventing them from commiting the most heinous acts.

Some people say that you CAN be a moral person without faith in G-d. Maybe, maybe not [that is for another post bezras Hashem]. But there is nothing COMPELLING such a person to be moral. All of ones scruples easily go out the window when confronted with a large financial gain or an attractive woman. There is only one thing that can stop a person: A strong internal sense of Yiras Shomayim. There is a judge and there will be a day of judgement. And the judgement is for eternity!!

That is more compelling than a few million dollars or the prospect of a few minutes of sensual pleasure.

I don't buy newspapers because newspapers talk about politics. And I don't trust politicians. I see people who believe in politicians. "He will save us!!" Those who know what is going on in Israel sees that our "leaders" are a band of common thieves [sorry if I am offending anyone]. Corruption is ubiquitous. Right Wing, Left Wing Hawks, Doves, one common denominator - SHEKER. Some have been caught. Some have not yet been caught. But anyone who knows Chumash [or read Rav Elchanan Wasserman's "Kovetz Maámarim"] is not surprised at all of the financial and sexual indiscretions. There is no Yiras Shomayim. So maybe there are honest politicians. But who knows how long they will remain honest. And have you ever heard of a humble politician. Being elected entails bragging about and publicizing your accomplishments!! Putting your face on buses, street signs, TV etc with the caption reading something like "I AM THE BEST". Showing that you excel over all others. [Can you imagine Rav Moshe Feinstein or any other gadol embarking on an advertising campaign lauding their achievements and proclaiming that they are the Greatest Rabbi Of The Generation. Everybody should follow their psakim. The very thought is laughable]. The only exception would be politicians who not only dress as religious Jews but their externals honestly represent their deeply held beliefs.

So I take Dovid HaMelech's advice. I trust in G-d. And people who live with a constant awareness of his presence. Anyone else? I try not to waste my time and energy thinking and talking about them. And I certainly can't trust them. That is what my Grandpa taught me.

My Grandpa Avraham.


There is a SEEMINGLY wacky formulation of the Rambam in the tenth perek of Hilchos Korban Pesach [halacha 11].

"One should "TRY" [yishtadel] not to leave over from the Pesach offering until the morning [of the fifteenth of Nisan] as the pasuk says "lo sosisru mimenu ad boker".



One should TRY not to marry a Roman Catholic girl named Christina. One should TRY not to eat pork chops on Yom Kippur. One should TRY not to rob a bank. One should TRY not to wear shaatnez on a mixed beach while lighting a match for his cigarette on Shabbos. IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. And nowhere else does the Rambam express himself this way. If it is forbidden - he says so. Why here does the Rambam say that one should "try"?!

"Shtarka Kasha" as they say in the Yeshivos!

To Be Holy

Why did they bury the Arab terrorist 12 feet under instead of the usual six feet under?

Because deep down he was really a good guy.

On a more serious note: The period in between the death of a close relative [lo aleinu] and the burial is called "aninus". During this period a person is exempt from fulfilling all of the mitzvos. Why?

The purpose of a mitzva is to make us holy ["asher kiddishunu b'mitzvosav"]. One can only be holy if they are focused OUTSIDE of themselves. The root of the word aninus is "ani" - I. Immediately after the death of a close relative one is [understandably] focused on themselves and their own sense of loss. This leaves no room for the kedusha that one wants to achieve by the performance of mitzvos. Hence the Torah exempted one from their obligation at this time. [Heard from Rav Zwieg Shlita]

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sharing Is Caring

Great news!!

I have joined forces with a Rav in the Old City, Rav Tzvi Aryeh Ingber, a tremendous ba'al chesed who already is running an expanded operation of tzedaka dispensation. Now all donations are tax deductable!!!

He is running a special Pre-Pesach drive for families in need. He has found someone who has agreed to match every dollar up to fifty thousand dollars. Thus far he has raised forty thousand. You have the zchus of helping raise the ante.

I am posting all of the information. The most important part is at the end. But worry not - I am not planning to approach any individuals. I am a lousy shnorrer. But I do encourage you to give as every cent goes to people who really need it. In Yerushalayim, which halachically is accorded special status with respect to the mitzva of tzedaka. And their is no overhead. And no salaries. Those in need receive the max! If you have any special requests feel free to contact me.

Impotant Note: All of the donations that I have received until now will be going only towards the purchase of chickens for the poor families as originally intended.

And remember, according to the Rambam if one does not feed the poor on the holiday they have not fulfilled their OWN obligation to be happy on Yom Tov. As was explained in a shiur posted in the Chagim section. So if you don't give to us - give to someone else.

9 Adar 5767

Shalom u’vracha.

Hope you and your families are all well.

This Pesach we will be processing all donations through “In His Image Foundation”, but before we discuss the new Matching Funds being made available now, I want to update everyone with the reports regarding The Northern Campaign and 5767 Rosh HaShana-Succos distributions.

During the Hizbullah War many of you were involved in our Northern Campaign Matching Fund Project for Jews in the North. Boruch Hashem, we joined forces with Barry Friedman of “In His Image Foundation”, Rav Chaim Goldberg and gabbaim, just like ourselves, across the north. With the help of the Matching Funds that Barry sought out and provided, our small group made a distribution that totaled $2.8 million. We followed our traditional criteria of every penny going to the people with no overhead expenses covered by donors.

Through the combined efforts of an outstandingly resourceful team, we did something that I think is unique in the annals of tzedaka distribution on this level. All gifts were made directly into recipients’ bank accounts with no middlemen and no duplication. In many cases people whom we knew were in need received these funds without ever knowing it was coming! Yasher kochachem.

On a much smaller monetary scale but equally important mitzvah scale - our 5767 Rosh HaShana-Succos distribution was very respectable. With the help of matching funds from “In His Image Foundation”, we covered our expanded lists of cash distributions to the Family Fund and put together the largest Holiday Food Project distribution to date. In addition to our concentrated efforts in the Old City, we helped residents of Betar by building a completely separate mirror organization in their city.


Recently, I was shown a psak of Rav Chaim Kanievski’s, shlit’a, by one of the Vaad HaRabbanim of our Food Project. Citing the Chassam Sofer’s and the Pe’as HaShulchan’s rulings that the Jewish poor of Yerushalayim take precedence over poor of all other locations for tzedaka purposes, Rav Elyashiv, shlit’a and Rav Kanievski, shlit’a, while holding opposing positions as to the ‘definitive boundaries’ of Yerushalayim, agree on one crucial matter that affects us. Yerushalayim Bein HaChomos, the Old City of Yerushalayim, does take precedence over all other locations.

How fortunate we are to be operating right at the source. Together, we, the donors, gabbaim, volunteers and recipients comprise the instrument through which, according to all opinions of Gedolei Yisroel, the mitzvah of tzedaka can be carried out at its highest standard. I’d be happy to forward a copy of the original letter from Rav Chaim Kanievski if you wish.

Although we haven’t finalized our ceiling amounts, In His Image has again expressed its solidarity with our methods and goals and offered to match funds in both Family Fund cash distributions and in our expanded Holiday Food Project. Clearly, your tzedaka allocated for the Old City of Yerushalayim will not only conform to the highest standards of the Chassam Sofer, the Pe’as HaShulchan, Rav Elyashiv, shlit’a and Rav Kanievski, shlit’a but can also represent a greater net gift as a result of the matching funds.

In order to take advantage of our unique location and to afford all donors the fullest mitzvah - all distributions will be allocated to Jews living in all quarters of the Old City. Anyone wishing to contribute outside of the Old City must discuss it with us prior in order to assure your goals are realized.

As in the past, we remain willing and able to be your tzedaka eyes and ears. Unlike most tzedaka organizations, our Funds are modeled in the interests of the donors and are completely staffed by volunteers, affording donors the fullest benefit of their mitzvah with NO administrative and/or ANY other costs.

Family Fund:

(At this time this fund is the most relevant.)
For the past 17 years we have been dispersing monies on behalf of people who want to know that their Maos Chittin is being dispensed with no overhead and directly to Jews in need.

Most families cannot afford new clothes or shoes for themselves and their children throughout the year. This is also true for what may seem to most of us like minor housekeeping expenses and repairs.

Before Pesach, as well as before Rosh HaShana, we distribute to a great list of families within the Old City. Allocations are determined depending on family size. We cover every combination of single individuals, single parents with kids at home up to families of 14.

Please consider Family Fund a.s.a.p. so that the monies can be distributed before the very last minute.

The need is great and the time is short.

Food Project:
Boruch Hashem the Food Project has continued uninterrupted from its inception approximately 4 years ago. The services include a weekly shipment of fresh fruits and vegetables delivered on Wednesday night that is calculated to serve the family’s needs through shabbos and into the coming week. Thursday nights, chickens are delivered and freezers stocked for recipients. Recipients receive the hechsherim that they normally use. When funds allow, we arrange delivery of between 25 and 30 food staples, which we call the “Supermarket Shop”.

Our internal Vaad HaRabbanim makes all decisions regarding qualifications. The only universal criterion is that recipients be Jews in need. In addition to our own research, our Vaad is in constant communication with the Kupat Tzedaka of the Rova under the supervision of Rav Nevensahl, shlit’a. In the vast majority of cases, recipients need not apply. Our extensive committee of gabbaim and gabbaos (including teachers, rebbes, local doctors and employees at the local Kupat Cholim) is designed to preempt requests and provide information directly to the Rabbanim, as it is our goal to catch families before they fall through a very insufficient safety net. All efforts are made to protect the identities of recipient families as well as the sources that provided their names.

The intervention of rabbis and friends is often essential in getting families to agree to accept the food they need. Much of our distribution is under the heading of “Tomchin d’Oraisa”, which circumvents the problem of families who refuse to accept “tzedaka”.

Families are constantly being added and subtracted from our lists. We service approximately 60 families between 450 and 550 people a week.

As our supporters are well aware, our project has been challenged by the professional organizations that compete for donor dollars. Unlike those organizations, which also do good work, we have no salaries, no overhead and no PR/advertising budgets.

Our current budget for non-holiday months is approximately $10,000 (at the 60 family level). Holiday months are more.

In discussions conducted last month with the “Kupat Tzedaka of the Rova” under the supervision of Rav Nevensahl, shlit’a, we were informed that if funds permitted, they would recommend an additional list of newly qualified families almost equal in number to what we are already servicing. We realize that this rise in needy families is contrary to the glowing economic reports regarding the Israeli economy. The reason is that while the upper rungs on the economic ladder have had more disposable income, the price of food has risen very sharply (fruits and vegetables by 25% this year!) and their disposable income has in fact been reduced.

Thanks to a special donation to cover Adar’s costs we were able to service and additional 20 families with a special Purim Supermarket Shop which they will receive before Purim.

This Food Project is not glamorous but it is indispensable. It is ongoing and can fit in with your long-term tzedaka planning throughout the year.

Hachnassas Kallah Fund:

This is fund was instituted to help families avoid the potential for degradation that can come as a consequence of “the simcha”. Of course, the goal is not to provide apartments for the parents to give the young couple but, rather, to provide basic relief and cover some of the basic wedding expenses, which understandably will vary from case to case.

Over the past year we have made 10 grants that have contributed as much as $1000 to a single wedding. On separate occasions we have arranged raising funds for specific situations. Just 2 weeks ago we arranged to raise funds for a man who earns his parnassa working out of a shop built onto his home. He needed a total of $15,000, which he didn’t have to pay his share of his daughter’s wedding and apartment setup costs. He didn’t ask anyone for help. He was in the process of selling his home, thinking to buy a smaller one when it came to our attention. It is a near certainty that he would have lost his business and parnassa in the process. B”H, as soon as we heard of it we contacted the people whom we know are interested in this mitzvah and raised the funds for the wedding after Purim, b’shaa tova u’mutzlachas. Now, the father, who has health issues, will be able to stay in his home where he raised his children and keep his business.

Please discuss with your Rabbanim how the mitzvah of Hachnassas Kallah positively influences the donors in health, shalom bayis and other matters. Also, consider this plan when planning your own simchas (may they be many and great) as a way of sharing the possibilities with those less able.

Note: Sometimes this fund services people outside of the Old City. This Fund is not eligible for matching at this time.

Medical Fund:

With the same “no overhead” criteria, there are ongoing needs for medical help and advice that is not covered by local insurance plans. The services of the Kupot Cholim have been reduced due to overall national budget cuts. Essential medicines have been cut from the Kupot Cholim basket of services. There are families who cannot afford medicines on and off the Kupat Cholim lists, as well as other medical and therapeutic services. In addition to some immediate support that we give, we have 2 ongoing cases that we support. One is a 21-year-old girl with a rare form of cancer that affects her spine and brain and needs physical therapy beyond her coverage. The other ongoing case is a 6-year-old boy with a condition mimicking MS who needs special medication from the States.

In the past year we have had doctors, in Israel and in the States, donate free consulting services to people who have turned to us.

May Hashem bless the volunteer doctors, the donors and all Clal Yisroel, with good health.

Note: Sometimes this fund services people outside of the Old City. This Fund is not eligible for matching at this time.


There you have it. This our versions of a “Fund of Funds”, the opportunity for Clal Yisroel to network and join one side with another in order to make the connection and complete the mitzvah. One cannot be a successful donor without a worthy recipient and every dollar that one allocates to tzedaka should arrive that way and not reduced by commissions or other costs.

Tizku L’mitzvos.

After your Freilichen Purim enjoy a Chag Pesach kasher v’sameach,

Tzvi Aryeh


To contribute to any of these services you can write a US tax deductible check to:

In His Image Foundation

c/o Realty Data Processing

303 Merrick Road

Lynbrook, NY 11563

Wire instructions:

JP Morgan Chase

52 Broadway
New York, NY

ABA: 021 000 021

Account: In His Image Charitable Trust

Account # 777376911


Please indicate on the memo line of your check or wire whether your intention is for:

Food Project

Family Fund

Medical Fund

Hachnassas Kallah Fund

PS Please notify me if you intend to participate (amount and to which fund). Also, think of keeping this letter (or at least my email address) handy so that when the tzedaka situations arise for you we can carry out your wishes.


Today is the yarzheit of my Great-Grandmother. She was a very special woman. I called her Nani [pronounced Nunny. It is short for grandmother in hungarian]. She had a hard life [who in the previous generation didn't]. In her lifetime she lost both of her parents [at a young age if I am not mistaken], two husbands, her only daughter, and all of her siblings. Yet, she was always in good spirits. I used to visit her in a Home in Netanya. Her main concern was always for me, a young healthy Yeshiva boy. One time she insisted that I take an orange from her fridge. I saw two oranges, one a smaller one and the other a larger and jucier one. I was coming from a Yeshiva which placed a strong emphasis on mussar. Mussar teaches that you leave the larger orange for the other person so I took the smaller one. She noticed and insisted that I take the larger one leaving the smaller one for herself. A small deed which was indicative of a much deeper feeling of love.

I miss her greatly. I would much appreciate it if you would do a mitzva today or say a perek Tehillim Lílui Nishmas my dear Nani: Esther bas R' Shmuel.

Thank you!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ain't Nobody Like You!

What do you call a monkey who copies from his friends test paper? A Cheetah.

Many people are like monkeys. Monkey see monkey do. We must be original. Rav Solovetchik says that Tzelem Elokim means that just like Hashem is completely unique so must we be. We must forge our own unique path in Avodas Hashem using the special mixture of talents and abilities that only we have!!

Anochi Hashem ElokeCHA - your personal G-d. First "zeh keli vánvehu" this is MY G-d and I will glorify him, and only then "Elokei Avi Váromimenhoo" - the G-d of my father and I will exalt Him. Avraham was call Avraham HaIvri - He was May'ever Echad [on one side] and the rest of the world was on the other side.

Enough of the herd mentality. Follow Hashem - not the masses!! You can do it! Be confident in your abilities. There is nobody like you. You will discover qualities that you have that you never knew about!

Love and Blessings

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

A Bomb On The Ran!

What is it called when Mrs. Klein gives birth to another child? Re-Klein-ing.

In the 1970's there was a popular show called the "Gong Show". People would perform and if the judges weren't enjoying they would pick up a stick and GONG on a big bell. That joke would have gotten gonged.

Anyway, the Gemara [Pesachim 108a] says that we only have to recline for 2 of the four cups. But since we are not sure whether we must recline for the first two or the last two in order to be safe we recline for all four. The Ran asks: We know that reclining is only a Rabbinic obligation and the rule is that when in doubt we are lenient. So we should not have to recline at all. He answers that if we are lenient and don't recline at all then the entire law of reclining will be rendered obsolete. That cannot happen! And if we recline for only two out of the four cups, what basis do we have to prefer one pair over the other. So we are compelled to recline for all four.

The Mishna Lamelech dropped a bomb on the Ran!! The very same Ran says in Megilla that if we are in doubt as to whether a city is walled from the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun [and reads Megilla on the 15th] or not [and they would read on the 14th] we read on the 14th only!! But you Rabbi Ran [reminds me of an old Bruce Springsteen song "Born To Ran"] taught us in Pesachim that we have no reason to prefer reclining for two of the cups over the other two and we therefore recline for all four. So why do we prefer the 14th over the 15th. According to the principal of the Ran in Pesachim we should read on both days??!!!

More answers have been given to this question than the number of security guards in Israel.

What do you think.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Power Of A Blessing

One day a non-jewish journalist was walking down the street in England when he saw a VERY OLD man RIDING A BIKE. He smelled a scoop so he approached the man and asked him "Excuse me, but how old are you?" "One hundred and eleven years" was the answer. "What do you eat?"

"My old age has nothing to do with my diet. When I was a little boy of about 3 I lived in a small town in the Ukraine called Tolna. I was in the synagogue and they were reading the Torah. Suddenly they came to a letter which was not clearly written. According to Jewish law when there is a doubt about a letter in a Torah scroll they ask a child to read the the questionable letter [because he doesn't know what the letter is supposed to be he will innocently read it. An adult will automatically read the letter as it should be, not necessarily as it is.]. If he reads the letter as it should be read the Torah scroll is kosher. So they called me up and I read the word correctly rendering the Torah kosher. The Rabbi there was a Holy Man named R' Dovid'l. He was so happy that I made the Torah kosher that he put his two hands on my head and blessed me. "You should live and live and live and live!!!"

This man's story and accompanying photograph appeared in an English newspaper.

Hirhurim Muttarim

In a previous post ["A Question Filled With Heart"] we asked about a seeming contradiction with respect to making a bracha on a mitzva done b'hirhur [in ones heart].

Answer: There is a basic distinction between the nullification of chametz which is an act of "hashbasa" according to Rashi, meaning that you WANT TO RID YOURSELF of the chametz or according to Tosaphos it is an act of HEFKER meaning that you are making the chametz ownerless. So bittul chametz is essentially a negative ["shlila"] act. In such a case you don't make a bracha on hirhur.

In contrast, the study of Torah and the seperation of Terumah are POSITIVE acts. In such cases a bracha is called for - even though they are done non-verbally. [Based on Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz ztz"l and Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg shlita]

However it must be noted that the self-same Rav Yosef Karo who rules that one does not make a bracha on bittul chametz because it is done b'hirhur also rules that one does not make a bracha on the study of Torah when it is only done b'hirhur.

May we all have positive thoughts!!!!!!!!!!

They Probably Took The D Train

Duvie and Dovie run into each other on a sweltering hot day in July at the 72nd Street subway station. Sadly, they are surrounded by women who apparently had been struck with an acute case of amnesia - they forgot to get dressed that morning!!!
These two Yeshiva bochrim are so happy to see each other. After exchanging pleasantries they enter into an animated Torah discussion.

Uh oh! Sorry guys. As the King was told in the Sefer HaKuzari - your intentions are terrific but your actions leave something to be desired. It is forbidden to talk about Torah in the presence of immodestly clad women. Their only recourse is to SILENTLY ponder Torah issues - non-verbally. A practical Halacha for the summer months. [Based on Sefer Halichos Shlomo]

Friday, March 16, 2007

Say It Again Sam

In the prayer we say on the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh we ask for a lot of nice things. One of them is Yiras Shomayim. Then a few words later we ask for Yiras Shomayim - again.

Why the repetition and the redundancy. And why do we say the same thing twice. Why? Why?

IMPORTANT NOTE: In the previous post I made the egregious error of saying that Steve Alford played for Ohio State. That is like saying that Winston Churchill was Italian. So even though it has no cosmic signifigance for the sake of my two favorite letters in the alphabet - M and S - I want to set the record straight. Indiana Hoosiers. All the way.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March Madness: A Dual Meaning

March Madness has begun. This means that we have to know two things.

1] Betting poses serious Halachic problems relating to Gezel. "Asmachta lo kanya" - if I may wax Talmudic for a moment. So ask a competent Rav before placing bets.[If you could bet I would tell you to go with Ohio State. But then again I heard that my old idol Steve Alford is no longer playing for them. Fortunately, I no longer worship idols.]

2] Another type of March Madness - cleaning for Pesach! Remember: Dust is not considered chametz!!! Nor is a non-sparkling toilet bowl. Or rust on the car. Examples abound. Chametz is only considered chametz if it is really chametz. [Deep.] So relax. B'Simcha uvi'nachas. No nervousness. Peace in the home is a paramount mitzva. And if this doesn't apply to you - then show it to someone for whom the message is relevant!!

Thanks - For Everything!

There are two ways to express gratitude.

1] To thank someone for what they did for you here and now.

2] To thank someone for the here and now while keeping in mind everything what they have done for you in the past and that they will remain faithful to you and your needs in the future as well.

The second approach is definitely the preferable one. And that is the meaning of our prayer "hodoo lashem ki tov" thank sooo much Hashem, you are so good to me. But that is not all - "ki liolam chasdo" you kindness is eternal!!!!! [Based on Rav Kook]

A Question Filled With Heart

The Beis Yoseph says that we don't make a bracha on bitul chametz because nullifying the chametz is done in ones heart which does not mandate a bracha.

However the Gra rules that one makes a bracha on learning Torah in ones "heart" [i.e. thinking Torah without uttering words] because that too is part of the mitzva. But I thought that we don't make a bracha on thoughts of the heart?!

Also, we make a bracha on seperating Teruma even though that too can be done in ones heart alone.

Nu Yidden. Help a Jew in the Old City with a Halachic conundrum.

Defining A True "Tzaddik"

In davening we say עושה משפט לעשוקים נותן לחם לרעבים ה' מתיר אסורים ה' פוקח עורים וכו'

Hashem does justice to those bereft of rights, He gives bread to the hungry, He frees those who are bound, Hashem opens the eyes of the blind etc. Hashem who loves Tzaddikim, Hashem protects strangers, Hashem encourages the orphan and widow etc.

A list of sad cases. The question is - Why are Tzaddikim included in this list of unfortunates? A Tzaddik is anything but a "nebach" case?!

Chassidim say that the psalm is teaching us that Hashem loves those Tzaddikim who place THEMSELVES amongst those who are suffering and downtrodden.

True Heroism

The following was sent to me by R' Mordechai Eliyahu Hillel ben Yosef Halevi:

During World War Two, countless Jewish parents gave their precious children to Christian neighbors and orphanages in the hope that the latter would provide safe havens for them. The parents expected that they, or their relatives, would take these children back if they survived the war. The few parents who did not perish in the Holocaust, and were able to reclaim their children, often faced another horror. While the parents had summoned the strength to survive the slave labor and death camps, or had hidden out for years, those who took their children were busy teaching them the ways of other religions.

[Additionally,] many Jewish children who were taken in by orphanages, convents and the like, had no parents or close relatives left after the Holocaust. When rabbis or distant relatives finally tracked down many of these children, the priests and nuns who had been their caretakers insisted that no children from Jewish homes were in their institutions. Thus, countless Jewish children were not only stripped of their entire families, they were also stripped of their souls.

In May, 1945, Rabbi Eliezer Silver from the United States and Dayan Grunfeld from England were sent as chaplains to liberate some of the death camps. While there, they were told that many Jewish children had been placed in a monastery in Alsace-Lorraine. The rabbis went there to reclaim them.

When they approached the priest in charge, they asked that the Jewish children be released into the rabbis' care. "I'm sorry," the priest responded, "but there is no way of knowing which children here came from Jewish families. You must have documentation if you wish me to do what you ask."

Of course, the kind of documentation that the priest wanted was unobtainable at the end of the war. The rabbis asked to see the list of names of children who were in the monastery. As the rabbis read the list, they pointed to those that belonged to Jewish children.

"I'm sorry," the priest insisted, "but the names that you pointed to could be either Jewish or Gentile. Miller is a German name, and Markovich is a Russian name, and Swersky is a Polis name. You can't prove that these are Jewish children. If you can't prove which children are Jewish, and do it very quickly, you will have to leave."

One of the rabbis had a brilliant idea. "We'd like to come back again this evening when you are putting the children to sleep."

The priest reluctantly agreed.

That evening the rabbis came to the dormitory, where row upon row of little beds were arranged. The children, many of whom had been in the monastery since the war started in 1939, were going to sleep. The rabbis walked through the aisles of beds, calling out, "Shema Yisrael - Hear, Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One!" One by one, children burst into tears and shrieked, "Mommy!" "Maman!" "Momma!" "Mamushka!" in each of their native tongues.

The priest had succeeded in teaching these precious Jewish souls about the Trinity, the New Testament, and the Christian savior. Each child knew how to say Mass. But the priest did not succeed in erasing these children's memories of their Jewish mothers now murdered - putting them to bed every night with the Shema on their lips.

-From Miriam Swerdlov

There are no words evil enough, no images graphic enough, no imagination sick enough, to possibly depict what our grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, infants and unborn children, endured at the claws of their murderers.

Six million Jews were murdered for one reason and one reason only. Because they were Jews. To our enemies, it didn't matter if the Jew cared that he or she was Jewish. It didn't matter if the person was the most assimilated or the most religious. A Jew was a Jew was a Jew.

Our enemies were able to rip off beards, torch skin, brand arms, pull teeth, and gas bodies. But they were not able to penetrate minds, hearts, souls and spirits. The Jewish neshamah was never diminished and only strengthened.

Remarkably, perhaps miraculously, there were Jews who clung to the Torah--the moral and legal code that has instructed our lives since Sinai--throughout their ordeal. In the ghettos, in the concentration camps, in the midst of the death marches, they continued to refer to the Torah for guidance, posing questions to their rabbis and spiritual leaders. From practical to moral to philosophical, the questions demonstrate the faith these martyrs had in their Creator, and the length they went to fulfill His will.

Most of the questions and responses were never recorded, and of what was, virtually all was lost in the rubble and the ashes. Fortunately, a few precious volumes survived, testament to what our people endured.

[One such work is Rabbi Ephraim Oshry's Responsa from the Holocaust.]

These Jews cared to know what they should do or not do, according to the Torah. When the world made no sense, they still sought to ensure that their actions, their words and their thoughts were pure and holy. When the world ignored G-d and His commandments, they determined that they would not.

Reading these questions and answers, one is struck by the sensitivity, the caring and the thoughtfulness of the responses. But perhaps even more remarkable than the answers themselves is the very fact that the questions were ever asked, and the way in which these precious souls seem to see nothing "heroic" in the fact that they're asking them, regarding themselves simply as Jews living as Jews.

A woman in the ghetto who had just given birth wanted to know if she could circumcise her newborn baby boy before the eighth day, since she feared he would not live even a week. This loving mother wanted to ensure that at least he die a circumcised Jew.

People asked whether or not they should recite blessings over food when the food was not kosher, or if they could recite the morning prayers before the sun came up since it was the only time they wouldn't be noticed.

A very sick man who was told that he was too weak to fast Yom Kippur, and thus forbidden to do so according to Torah law, begged to know if he could nonetheless refrain from eating. Though he had been completely non-observant his entire life, he wanted to die knowing he had fasted for his final Yom Kippur.

A father needed to know if he was permitted to save his only son, slated for certain death, through bribery, when he knew that if his child was saved, another innocent child would be taken in his place.

A mother asked if she could painlessly kill her own baby, since the next day they were coming to take all the children, and would either throw her three-month-old daughter off a rooftop or directly into the fire.

There were Jews who asked for the most proper wording, and then carefully practiced reciting and memorizing the blessing which is recited as one is being murdered al kiddush hashem, sanctifying G-d's name.

These questions were not answered on the basis of personal opinion or feeling. These Jews wanted to know what Torah law had to say on these matters, and it was the rabbis' duty to find the answers. This was not the first time these questions had been asked or answered. We are a people who have known much suffering and persecution. And we are a people who have always wanted to do what was right, what was holy, regardless of our circumstances.

With each year that passes, we must remember the horror, and how our people died. But more importantly, we must remember how they lived. And in doing so, we honor the dignity, the power and the faith that these Jews had.

Our enemies tried to make us untermenschen--sub-humans. They tried to annihilate us, to rid the world forever of the Jews. But they didn't know who they were dealing with. They didn't know what it means to be a Jew. For the Jew is not one who merely strives to be human. The Jew is one who strives to be G-dly. And that can never, never, be destroyed.

-from Sara Esther Crispe

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Join Us

This is an part of an email I received from a friend:

"I wanted to tell you that you really summed up David Yamnick in your post. He really was a true mentsch. I lived next to him in Y.U. for one year. I would come into his room about 10 times an evening (usually to mooch some food or to hock) and everytime I would enter, he would get up and give the biggest 'Hey what's going on' as if he hadn't seen me in a few days. My wife and I can't stop thinking about his wife and child. It is very sad".


R' Ariel Edelstein has taken initiative and organized the learning of Shas Lílui Nishmas R' Dovid. Please take part!!!! It will not only elevate his pure Neshama but will elevate yours as well. A true Chesed Shel Emmes. A kindness you can do perform him which he cannot return. So don't wait until 120 when others will learn for your Neshama. Learn for your own Neshama today!!!

More info on the Netiv Aryeh website.

Forever yours


P.S. There is only one excuse not to take part. You are too busy. I am also too busy. But I am doing it anyway. Please join me.

Eat It But Only A Small Amount!!!

The suspense that you have experienced since the last post has probably been very difficult. So here is an email that R' Yitzchak Dayan Shlita, a good friend and chavrusa sent to me. His love for Torah is exceeded only by his sterling character!

We discussed this issue in Penn recently. We didn’t really resolve it. There are a number of factors to consider. First, let’s consider the issue of the beracha, and the ramifications of letting it be levatala. Ashkenazim in general maintain that a beracha levatala is d’rabbanan, while Sephardim tend to maintain the position of the Rambam that beracha levatala is d’oraita. Given that the person in question is named Yanki, we will assume that he is of ashkenazic descent.

Rav Ovadia [Yabia Omer vol. 2 yoreh deah 5 and vol. 10 yoreh deah 3] has written that in such a case a person should eat a tiny bit of ice cream because the waiting period between milk and meat is only of rabbinic origin while the proscription against beracha levatala is d’oraita, and it is better to taste a small amount. However, yanki is Ashkenazi, and presumably does not rely upon the ruling put forth by Rav Ovadia because of his differing views on the nature of the prohibition of beracha levatala.

Thus, Yanki should probably say “baruch shem kevod malchuto le’olam va’ed” to minizmize the damage of his beracha levatala since he seems to have realized within the time period of “toch kedei dibbur”, and he should not taste the ice cream since the injunction against doing so is on the same level as the prohibition of making a beracha lavatala.

And he should definitely marry the girl—12 dates means that they are getting along very well, and everyone should marry a girl frummer than he is.

Shalom uBracha

My addendum: Even though my Mother was born in Czech. and my father in Belgium which I guess would qualify me as Ashkenazi. If an hour had passed since I had eaten meat I too would have a drop of ice cream to avoid a bracha l'vatala. See [besides the breathtaking responsa in the Yabia Omer] the sources cited in Sefer Piskei Tshuvos page 838 [don't worry, you don't have to read the first 837].

Maybe Yanki is the son of a Ashkenazi mother and Sefardi father. Or maybe both of his parents are Sefardi but his dad is a big Yankee fan. So when he was young they called him "Babe" [after Babe Ruth] and now that he is older he goes by Yanki.

I too would advise him to marry her if he really likes her.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Yanki has just returned home from his 12th date with Tzuri. Things are beginning to get serious. Tonight he took her out to a Meat restaurant. That means things are getting REALLY serious! Yanki's philosophy is - Why spend money on someone elses future wife?!

But he is unsure. On one hand she has so many of the qualities that he is looking for. On the other hand a tad bit too frum. Doesn't want a T.V. in her house, no internet connection and wants to move to Israel right away. On the third hand he wants a girl who possesses oodles and oodles of Yiras Shomayim who will be a source of religious inspiration. On the fourth hand ..............

Yanki needs to think this over. He decides that a snack will help trigger the thought process. So he approaches the freezer and takes out a large tub of Hagen-Dazs ice cream [which reminds him that SHE only eats Chalav Yisrael products]. He digs his spoon in the delicious Vanilla Bean makes a bracha - woops!!!!!!!!!!!!! then remembers that he is "fleishig". He just had a meat meal a short time ago.

What should he do? Eat the ice cream to prevent a bracha l'vatala or not eat the ice cream because he just ate meat?

Monday, March 12, 2007

What Hashem Places In His Inner Chamber

Today I was reminded of an amazing story. About 20 years ago there was a fire on a bus and a woman named Rochel Weiss and her three children tragically died. When the great Mashgiach, Rav Meir Chadash heard what had happened he cried FIVE seperate times. Once for the mother, once for each of the children and once - for the husband who lost his family. [Today Baruch Hashem he has since built a new family and lives in the Old City.]

The Gemara in Maseches Shabbos says that when we cry over the loss of a "Kosher" person Hashem counts the tears and places them in his inner chamber. A person who lives Torah has to learn how to cry for others. To the best of my knowledge Rav Meir did not even know the family. We are desensitized because we hear of so many tragedies and might have lost our ability to cry sufficiently. And that in itself is something to cry about.

Wishing all of my sweetest friends a life filled with Simchos and Glad Tidings.

Yours Truly


Even The Angels Were Crying

This morning was one of the saddest mornings of my life. I witnessed the burial of a young man, a son, brother, husband, father and personal friend. But above all - a Tzaddik. Before the funeral I was thinking how I could best characterize R' Dovid Yamnick. I kept thinking "Mentsch". He was the consummate Mentsch. Above and beyond his mentschlichkeit he was also a yarei shomayim, Kovea itim l'Torah etc. etc. Unfortunately there are many who keep the mitzvos but lack the basic mentschlichkeit. But R' Dovid had it all. Not only Torah but also derech ertz shekadma l'Torah. Everyone liked him. It was impossible not to. In fact I see I am not alone in my perception because one of his Rabbeim who eulogized him expressed the same thoughts.

I loved you R' Dovid and I hope I can be more like you were. Selfless, caring, unassuming and modest. I have so much to learn from you.

R' Dovid also knew how to choose his friends. His friends showed such dedication to him throughout his illness. They deserve a great Yashar Koach!! Not to mention his unbelievable wife and devoted family. Such fine people. Like R' Dovid.

R' Dovid was niftar on Shabbos Parshas Parah. The Parsha that talks about the purification of the Jewish people. I don't think it was a coincidence.

There was no Neshama as pure as that of R' Dovid Yifrach ben Tuvia, zecher tzaddik l'vracha. I could write more but my eyes are flooded with tears and I can barely see the computer screen.

Yehi Zichro Baruch.

Are You Involved??

Oftentimes people learn Torah and are frustrated when they don't understand - either at all or quickly enough. However there is a basic error in the premise that underlies such feelings. Our job is to be BUSY learning Torah. Of course there is an obligation to learn and understand the entire Torah - Written and Oral [as the Shulchan Aruch Harav rules] but there is value in the very act of studying - even if one does not comprehend.

And that of course is what we mean when we say the daily bracha "Laások bidivrei Torah" - to be INVOLVED with Torah. We can compare it to a relationship. You don't necessarily UNDERSTAND the other person fully [especially if they are of the opposite gender] but you love and find value and fulfillment in being involved with them.

So if you get a telephone call in the middle of learning, you can't answer - you are presently INVOLVED in a relationship - with Hashem!! [Based in part on the teachings of Rav Kook]

Love and Blessings

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Sunday, March 11, 2007


When I saw the advertisement on alleyways to buy an apartment in Israel I was reminded of a funny picture posted on my friend R' Shlomo Hubscher's blog [ And check out the Yericho joke he posted. It cracked me up]. It was a sign at the entrance of a well known city in "Jew" Jersey. It reads: WELCOME TO TEANECK




And I quote Herzl:" If you want it, it is not a legend"

אם תרצו אין זו אגדה

My bracha is that everyone who so desires should find a phenomenal Parnassa in the Holy Land!!!!!!!!!!!

Spiritual Guidance

One of the main lessons I try to impart to the young men and women with whom I learn is the importance of having a Rebbe. The reason many people are detached from spirituality is because they are detached from a spiritual guide. The converse is also true. Those attached to Ruchniyus only achieved their heights thanks to the guidance and inspiration of a Rebbe.

It sounds like a Chassidic idea - but what can I do if Judaism is Chassidic. [To those who might accuse me of having a Chassidic bias making me unable to be purely objective, I plead guilty!]

Today we read in the Torah that Moshe set up his tent outside the camp and anyone who searched for G-d went to the tent. The Yerushalmi points out that the pasuk doesn't say "anyone who searched for Moshe" went to the tent. Rather anyone who searched for "G-D" went to the tent. From this we learn, explains the Gemara, that anyone who receives the countenance of his Rebbe it is as if he received the countenance of G-d. [Eruvin Perek 5 Halacha 1].

And if you want to see something REALLY wild check out the Zohar in Parshas Bo [38 a].

Whoa!!!!! [Can't tell you what it says. Self-Censorship.]

Friday, March 09, 2007

Yaale Viyavo In Major And Minor Jewish Venues

Some people enjoy saying "Yaale Viyavo" in a loud voice DURING davening [in an earlier post I talked about calling it out BEFORE davening]. I like it! It reminds me. But I saw recently that the Chazon Ish is quoted as saying that it is inappropriate. Then yesterday a friend bought me a Halichos Shlomo and I saw that R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach said the same exact thing as the Chazon Ish!

So whether you are from Bnei Brak, Yerushalayim or - Honolulu Hawaii, a halacha of interest.

Love and Blessings!!!!!!!!

P.S. But there is no problem when the Miami Boys Choir sings it. That is one of my favorite songs!!! What about you?

A G-dly Perspective

The Red Heifer. Hooooooooly Cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many of the sefarim explain that the Parah Adumah purifies because it teaches humility. It purifies only after it has been completely burned. Ashes. Nothing left. That purifies.

We too become pure when we realize our smallness. Humility. How do we achieve humility?

The Tolna Rebbe Shlita had never been on an airplane until two years ago when he was invited to speak at the Siyum Hashas in England. He noticed that when the plane was in the sky everything below looked small. Low buildings, tall buildings - everything. Miniatures.

So that, teaches the Rebbe, is how to achieve humility.

Take a view from the Heavens. From that perspective nothing down here is very impressive.

Good Shabbos My Beloved Friends!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. Great Minhag Idea for Parshas Parah. Take a piece of steak, douse it in ketchup and presto - you have a Red Cow!!

P.P.S. Please daven for Tinokes bas Shaindel Rivka.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Passover Preparation

Make this Pesach count!!

Join me and my family in Nevada, Las Vegas where I will be serving as scholar-in- residence and will be giving shiurim at the "Freedom Hotel".

Am I joking? You bet! [Get it]

But I do recommend that you start doing spiritual preparation. One way - listening to Pesach shiurim on alleyways in the Chagim section. B'ezras Hashem more will be posted as we approach Pesach.

Much News That Is Not Fit To Print

Gossip columns. In secular Israeli newspapers they are called "Turei RECHILUT". What an ugly disgraceful concept. A column devoted - ala Chofetz Chaim - to killing the writer, the readers and the unfortunate people written about. What is worse, there is no shame. It is published in a prominent part of the newspaper [page 6?] and unabashedly called "Gossip Column". The only way one can improve is if they realize that they are doing something wrong. If there is no shame but pride there is little hope.

One possible benefit. If the only Lashon Hara is in the gossip column then one could safely read the rest of the newspaper. The problem is that the slander and disparaging of others is not confined to the gossip column alone.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Did You Hear?"

"Did you hear who is getting divorced?"


"Mr.and Mrs. -------."

"Reeeeealy! What happened?"

"Well, Mr. ----- was caught ---------. And in order to take revenge Mrs. ----- went -------."

"Whoa!!! Whose side are the children on?"

"Well, two of the kids are on the mothers side and are no longer talking to the father. One of the kids is on the the fathers side and is no longer talking to the mother - and his siblings. And one child still hasn't decided." [Indeed it is not easy deciding whether to break off contact with ones mother or ones father.] "And get this!! Mr. ----'s mother is on her daughter in-laws side!!"

In certain neighborhoods such gossip spreads like wildfire. Fotunately I don't live in such a neighborhood. Recently I was speaking to a woman who lives a block away. I asked if her husband could help me with a certain matter. She replied that her husband left her. I was shocked. "When?" "Six months ago". "What happened?" She told me something very tragic. This woman has young children and is very poor. She is a widow with a living husband. Sad.

The light in this story is that I wasn't aware. I knew that she was on my list of the needy who receive free chickens [as are her parents, so they can't help her much]. But I didn't know how desperate the situation is. Gossip is poison. I am glad that generally I am able to avoid it [unless I can help in some way].

So I take this opportunity to thank all of those who have donated to the "Tomchei Shabbos Of The Rova Fund".

And to encourage people to try to avoid gossip that spreads like wildfire - as one would run away from wildfire.

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah #5 - Answer

After the downfall of Haman, Mordechai was given Haman's home. What was the first Mitzvah he fulfilled? Obviously Mezuza!! [Lubavitcher Rebbe]

Stayin' Alive ["Niggun" from the 70's] - The Torah Way

When the Gentiles want to memorialize the dead they have a "Moment of Silence".

When Jews want to remain ALIVE they have a moment of silence [and then change the subject].

מי האיש החפץ חיים ...... נצור לשונך מרע

Who is the man who desires life..... guard your tongue from [speaking] evil.

Pesach is coming up. The Arizal explains "Peh Sach" - [mouth speaks]. Let our mouths always speak good things.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah #5

Where is the Mitzva of Mezuza alluded to in the Megilla?

It's Cool When Your Clothing Matches Your Tzitzis

In a recent post I talked about the power of clothing. I realized that tonight when I put on my Mets cap [courtesy of my friend Yaakov ben Avigdor Shlita] and Mets tee-shirt. [Incidentally when I put the tee-shirt on my wife pointed out to me that it was ripped. I explained that I ripped kriyah once when the Mets lost. She asked if I was serious . I answered in the negative.] I realized that my dream of playing for the Mets has not totally died. It would be great. I could learn full-time and would only play a few times a week for a couple of hours. Plus, there is so much dead time during a game. I could learn in the dugout. And the pay isn't bad... I could finally build Tolna the Beis Medrash they are dreaming of.

The Mets color is close to tcheles. When the Jews saw Mordechai's tcheles they rejoiced [Shoshanas Yaakov tzahala visamecha birosam yachad tcheles Mordechai]. Why were they so happy when they saw his tcheles? The Torah says that when we see our tzitzis we remember all of the mitzvos. Some commentaries understand that the pasuk is referring to the white strings of the tzitzis. But others understand that the pasuk is referring specifically to the tcheles. Tcheles reminds us to keep all of the Mitzvos.[I wonder if everyone understood the depth of my costume.]

The Midrash relates that the Gentiles decreed not only to kill the Jews but to prevent them from keeping the Mitzvos. When they saw Mordechai's tcheles they were reminded that now they can keep all of the Mitzvos.

Truly a reason to rejoice!!!!

A Freilichin Purim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What's Up Mon?

The Gemara in Chullin [139] asks where Haman is alluded to in the Torah. There is an alternative text of the Gemara that answers from the pasuk "And [Hashem] gave you "the mon" ["haman"] to eat" [devarim 8].

In light of this Gemara we can see a deeper meaning in the pasuk in Yehoshua [ch. 5] that relates that the mon stopped on the 16th of Nissan. Indeed, Haman met his ignominious end on the 16 of Nissan. "The Mon" was stopped. [Rav Nossson Geshtetner Shlita].

כן יאבדו כל איוביך השם

Friday, March 02, 2007

Time To Act



We must prepare for Purim! No. I don't mean to practice taking food and transferring it from basket to basket and making sure to remember not to return to somebody exactly what you received from them. I mean to learn.

Tonight a shiur was given in the Beis Medrash on the topic of, Amalek: A Laughing Matter? You can sample it and numerous other shiurim in the Chagim section.

Make your Purim count!!!

This vort is courtesy of the apple of my eye known as Gila Shoshana Ehrman [who will be celebrating her 11th next week and I publicly thank Hashem for such a bracha in addition to my other brachos]:
Why are Hamantashen not filled with meat? [A famous Rebbetzin who needs a Refuah - not my own - added that he should be because he was a Meathead. Remember Archie Bunker's Place?]

Because the passuk says "vayemalay Haman cheima" - which can be translated as "Haman was filled with butter". We cannot use meat because then it would be a mixture of milk and meat. It can also be translated as "Haman was filled with fury". But shivim panim for Purim Torah.

Young Men With Knitted Skull Caps Seen From A Fire Escape

An email I received from a very good friend namely R' Aharon Yisrael ben Moshe Mordechai who taught me the sefer Alei Shor when he learned in the Yeshiva. He himself personifies the refined character promoted by the sefer.

Rav Finkelman told a very nice story today in the shiur that he gives to the Baalei Batim that I thought you would enjoy. When he was a Kollel Yungerman, he went to Israel with his wife. He said that when he was a child, his parents could never afford to take him to Israel but his wife had gone there for seminary and understood what was so special about the country. They decided to take their wedding gifts and go to Israel for the Yomim Noraim and Succos. He said that this trip changed his life and gave him a greater appreciation for Israel and helps him yearn for the Moshiach even more so than before. He also said that all Jews in Israel that are Shomrei Mitzvos have a special ruchnius and are not preoccupied with the Gashmius that we are in America. For example, he said that one Shabbos night, his Rav, Harav Wolfson, who spends summers in Israel took him in the Old City to a fire escape. They went up the escape and peered in through a window and saw some Mizrachi boys singing niggunim with such warmth that was amazing. He said that this was the home of Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hakotel and this was before the Yeshiva was as large as it is now. He even continues to go to the oneg at the Yeshiva when he returns to Israel. He then further elaborated about how ALL shomrei torah Jews in Israel are special and he doesn’t feel the same materialism in the shuls that he davens in Israel. He said that frum jews in Israel make time for learning and are moser nefesh for Torah…

I thought that this story was very interesting and very appropriate to the theme that you have been discussing about achdus and labeling oneself.

My addendum: If you live in the N.Y. area try to create a connection with Rav Finkelman. He is one of the most special Tzaddikim in America.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Amoraim Knew Mishnayos!: Answer

The Turei EVEN rocks. Get it?

Anyway in a previous post I quoted the Turei Even's question. How can the Amoraim assume [megilla 4] that one need not read on purim day. The Mishna says explicity that we read during the day?

The Turei Even answers that one would only have to read during the day if they did not read at night and that is when the mishna requires us to read during the day. But if one already read at night it is no longer necessary to read during the day.
[Of course the conclusion is that both the night and day readings are obligatory.]

On a related note: It is axiomatic that an Amora cannot argue with a Tanna and that a Rishon cannot argue with the Gemara [on Halachic issues]. Far Voos Nicht???? [WHY NOT???? - Alleyways goes trilingual].

I posted a shiur about this question in the Halacha section entitled "Why listen to the Rabbis" but would be indebted to anyone who would further enlighten me on this topic.

Riddle-In: A Riddle Designed To Keep People Focused On Torah #4 Answer [sub-title: Pass The Tissues]

Rav Aryeh Zvi Frommer zatz"l the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin [which they recently reopened after more than 60 years] said a tremendous chiddush. If one davens Maariv on erev Rosh Chodesh from plag hamincha [which is close to night but it is still light outside and one is permitted to daven then if they repeat shma after dark] they should not say Yaale Výavo even though it is technically the maariv of Rosh Chodesh!!!! [Tell the press. This should make headlines.] He explained that even though we can add on to Shabbos and Yom Tov ["tosephes Shabbos vÝom Tov] there is no possibility of adding on to Rosh Chodesh.

On a side note if one is davening Al Hanissim on Purim and he wants to say "gesundheit" it is forbidden. When would one want to say "Gesundheit"?

"Al Ha"TSHUOS"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Removing The Mask

Many people are going to be wearing masks ["masecha"] on Purim. A Gemara is also a mask. Masechta. That means a mask. What is a masechta masking?

When you learn a mesechta superficially it can seem deceptively simple. People attend shiurim where they learn two sides of a page in 25 minutes. Easy. But when you go deeper you see that there is SO MUCH there. In Yeshivos and Kollel's worldwide people spend days on one line of a Gemara. So a Masechta is "masking" infinite depth and profundity. Tens of millions of hours have been spent learning Shas and yet as I type people are discovering and uncovering new insights that nobody has seen before.

A Masechta masks something else. When Rav Soloveitchik taught his students Masechta Baitza he quoted the Arizal: Beitzah = Bei [in it] Tzur Haolamim [The Rock of The World]. Hashem is hiding in the Masechta [See Tanya ch. 4-5]. Our job is to remove the mask.

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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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