Monday, June 18, 2007

What Rabbi Zemba Was Thinking About On The Day He Was Murdered - Answer

There is a difference between lacking the beis hamikdash and having strings for only one corner. When there is no beis hamikdash and no korbanos we have an intrinsic lacking ["cheser mahuti"]. Whereas when a person by chance lacks strings for all four corners of his tzitzis, it could be because the store is closed or because he hasn't been payed yet this week or for any other technical reason. However the reason is not intrinsic but rather something that can be taken care of over time. For example, if he doesn't have strings now then he can tie them tomorrow. This is different than our inability to bring korbanos [for the metzora] which is not merely a technical problem but an intrinsic one - we have no beis hamikdash.

So now we understand why the mitzva of wearing tzitzis on even one corner overrides the sin of shatnez even though we lack the whole set in contrast to the mitzva of purifying the metzora which cannot be done if we lack the whole set [i.e. the korbanos].

[The Tolna Rebbe Shlita]

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What Rabbi Zemba Was Thinking About On The Day He Was Murdered

Rav Menachem Zemba was one of the greatest Torah scholars in pre-war Poland and a Gerrer Chossid. He participated in the Warsaw ghetto uprising and was killed by the Nazis on Seder night in 1942. On Erev Pesach he wrote down a question on a piece of paper that was found afterwards. The paper was ripped and only the question was recorded. This was the question Rav Menachem Zemba was pondering before he was killed.

The Rambam [who was a Doctor and knew a thing or two about skin diseases] believed that tzaraas exists even in our day and age. Based on this assumption the Rambam wonders why we don't have the metzora go through the purification process after the tzaraas disappears. In other words he should shave off all of his hair, have a kohen slaughter a bird and send one away, and sprinkle on him seven times . There is also a mitzva to bring korbanos which cannot be done today, but the korbanos are not absolutely necessary ["me'akeiv"] for the purification of the metzora - he can be purified without them.

The Rambam's answer is very interesting. Part of the purification process is shaving off all of his hair. That is a transgression of the sin of shaving off a person's sideburns [lo takifu peas roshchem]. Normally it is overriden by the mitzva of purification as per the rule "aseh docheh lo taaseh" - a positive mitzva pushes a side a negative mitzva [as the mitzva of tzitzis pushes aside the sin of wearing shatnez]. But this rule is only operative if the mitzva is done in its entirety. We need a complete "set" in order to push away a lo taaseh. In our situation, even though the korbanos are not meákev, since the mitzva cannot be performed in the ideal way [due to the absence of the beis hamikdash], the prohibition of shaving off one's sideburns remains in force. That is why a metzora doesn't go through the purification process in our day and age. [The Rebbe Shlita asked that according to this explanation a woman should have no problem doing the purification because she isn't prohibited form shaving off her sideburns. Yet we don't see women metzora's being purified.]

Asked Rav Menachem Zemba in 1942: The mishna in Menachos teaches that according to Rebbe Yishmael the mitzva of wearing tzitzis is composed of four different mitzvos, one mitzva for each corner. The Chachomim argued that all four corners constitute only one mitzva. The gemara wonders what the practical difference [nafka mina] between the two opinions might be. The gemara answers very simply: The garment is made of wool, the strings are linen and the person only has strings for one corner. If all four corners are one mitzva then it would be forbidden to hang the linen strings on one corner. That is the opinion of the Chachomim. But Rebbe Yishmael holds that that every corner is a distinct, separate mitzva and it would hence be permitted to tie one corner with linen strings despite the fact that the garment is made of wool and the mixture would constitute shatnez because the lone corner with strings is a separate mitzva.

Now Rav Zemba dropped his bomb. According to Rebbe Yishmael a single corner with tzitzis is indeed a mitzva but where is the "set"?! The Rambam established that in order for a mitzva to override an aveirah the mitzva needs to be performed in the most complete way with ALL of its components [even those that are not critical]. Of course even Rebbe Yishmael agrees that ideally tzitzis should have strings on all four corners. So in order to permit the aveirah of shatnez we require a complete mitzva of strings on all four corners, just as we require the bringing of korbanos in order to override the aveirah of shaving off the sideburns of a metzora?!

This beautiful, thought provoking question was published in the sefer "Chiddushei Rebbe Menachem Zemba" but to our great dismay the holy tzaddik took his answer with him to the heavens. Maybe you can help?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Mental Issues - Answer

There is a fundamental difference between a constructive bittul and a destructive bittul. When one nullifies his chametz, he is saying that the chametz is nothing - like the dust of the earth. That is destructive. To destroy the chametz a mental bittul is enough.

When one abandons his dirt or straw on the floor of his succah, he is doing a constructive act. He is adding to the structure of the succah. Constructing requires a more significant act than destructing. Therefore, a verbal declaration is required when "being mevattel" the dirt to the succah. [Nosson Piryo on Masseches Succah]

From this principle, we can learn a lesson for life. It is much harder to build and create than it is to destroy and ruin. Our lives are about building - ourselves, others and society. That requires a great deal of hard work.

We Can Fix It

One thing I love about Judaism is that you can fix anything! This idea is so special for me because I am always messing up!!

There is a concept called "tshuvas hamishkal" meaning repenting parallel to the sin. For example: If a person desecrated the name of G-d then tshuvas hamishkal says to sanctify the name of G-d.

In this weeks parsha we read about the spies who slandered the land of Israel [and our ancestors who cried needlessly]. Our tshuvas hamishkal is to advertise to the world at large that Israel is holy, glorious and splendrous!! [Rav Kook Igros Hariah, Letter 96]

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Supernatural Healing

There was a well known rabbi in Brody, Galicia named Rav Shlomo Kluger [1783-1869] who wrote a remarkable 160 volumes of Torah novellae!! [He probably didn't have time to watch too much T.V. Amazing how much a person can accomplish if he doesn't waste time.] In his time there was a deathly ill Jew in dire need of a refuah. Another rabbi in town ruled that it is permitted to have a gentile write down the name of the sick person and send it to a holy tzaddik in a different town on Shabbos [normally it is forbidden to have a gentile write on behalf of a Jew on Shabbos]. This rabbi felt that it is permitted in this instance because the prayers of the holy tzaddik might save the sick person's life.

The great Rabbi Kluger was infuriated by this ruling. "No, no, no!!" he said. We are only allowed to violate the shabbos for the sake of a natural means of healing and not a supernatural means. [Shut Uvacharta Bachaim 87] But see the Tzitz Eliezer [Vol. 4 Simman 4 Os 17] for a slightly different perspective [although the conclusion is identical].

Bush Trumps G-d

Imagine you had a meeting with the President of the United States and you were told that you can ask him for WHATEVER you want. A tax break, a parking permit anywhere in the U.S., twenty million dollars, a senior position in his cabinet [in MY cabinet I have crackers, soup nuts and salt. I hope he has really good stuff in his cabinet!] etc. etc. You are told in advance that he might grant your requests and he might not, but he will definitely give what you ask for serious consideration. How you would prepare!! You would put a great deal of thought into your wardrobe. What is appropriate dress for a meeting with the President? [For me personally the question is misleading because I don't think any type of dress would be appropriate. Maybe a dress is good for my wife and daughter but I think I would go with the pants. If, however I were meeting the President of Scotland I might wear a dress.] When the meeting actually took place you would be sooo focused. It would also be exciting. You would remember it for the rest of your life. I met the President of the United States!!!!!!!!

Where am I going with this? The suspense builds...... O.K. Here is the point that I want to bring out.

Prayer. G-d. Master of the universe. Can grant any request. Yet it is not so thrilling for us. For many the experience of prayer is flat out boring. Some people wear shorts and a t-shirt for the meeting. The quicker - the better. Like root canal. Is G-d no less powerful than Mr. Bush? Can Mr. Bush heal the sick, help a barren women conceive or enable a blind man to see [we are all blind without the Divine gift of sight]?

Just a thought.

Borrowing When It Must Belong to You - A Seeming Contradiction [Until You Resolve It]

Anyone who has ever been a chassan or kallah knows that the Rabbi asks the Chaasan under the chuppah if the ring that he is about to give the kallah belongs to him. The correct answer is "yes". The ring must belong to the chassan and not to anyone else. [That was the first and last time that I bought myself a piece of jewlery.]

The Shulchan Aruch says that if one borrowed a ring from his friend and made it clear that the ring will be used to betroth a woman, the ring MAY be used [Even Haezer 28/19]. The Rosh explains the rationale: The person lending the ring wants the ring to be valid for kiddushin. Since a borrowed ring can't work for kiddushin, he really intends to give it as a bonafide gift [or at least a matana al minas Lihachzir].

Cool! Mazel Tov!!

But wait! If you borrow an esrog from your friend on the first day of Succos it cannot be used because there is a requirement of "lachem" - the esrog must be the user's property. But according to the logic of the Rosh, even a borrowed esrog should be valid because we assume that the lender wants the borrower to be able to fulfill his obligation and the only way that will happen is if the esrog is considered a gift to the borrower. So why do we validate kiddushin with a borrowed ring but not the taking of a borrowed esrog?

[Incidentally, the medrash compares a wife to a beautiful esrog. We just hope that the woman lasts for more than seven days!!]

Colorful Shabbos - Answer

The melacha of tzovea is done only when the person is interested in coloring the surface. We ARE interested in knowing [in both cases] whether or not there is blood [emanating from the woman] but we have NO interest in the sheet or cloth being red. Therefore there is no problem of tzovea.

This can be contrasted with the makeup example, where the woman wants her face to be colored. That is why it is forbidden. [Can a white, caucasian woman wearing makeup be called a woman of color? Would that be politically correct?]

[Based on Chasam Sofer Ksubos 5a and Reb Arieh Friedner. Check out his website]

Love #7: Gentiles - Love Or Animosity?

There is a mitzva in the Torah to love EVERY JEW!!! Big job!

What about Gentiles? Is there a biblical obligation to love a Gentile? No.

Buuuuuuuut [say with talmudic sing-song] the Holy Kabbalist Rabbi Chaim Vital [Sefer Shaarei Kedusha] says that we SHOULD love even the Gentiles. Every human being is created in the image of G-d. If one truly loves G-d, he will also love His creations who are a "reflection" [tzelem] of Him.

Rav Kook writes that "It is impossible not to love all of G-d's creations." [Middos Haraáyah Ahava 3]. In another passage Rav Kook says that we must all follow in the path of Avraham Avinu who was "av hamon goyim" - the father of many nations, not only the Jews. Avraham loved everybody and everybody was blessed through him - and us. "V'nivrichu bicha kol mishpachos hoádama .. uvizarecha." [Oros Yisrael 8/5]


I love my wife and I love my neighbor's wife but in a quantitatively and qualitatively different way! I am crazy about my children and feel great affinity for my neighbor's children but there is no comparison! I love my parents and I love my friend's parents but we are talking about a much more intense love for my own. [Except for my brother's parents. I love them as much as I love my own.] So too, we must remember that our love for our fellow Jew must be incomparably greater than our love for gentiles. Some people blur the lines and that is a serious problem.

When Moshiach comes and the Gentiles will make themselves more lovable there will be a utopian society of love and peace for all.

Love and Blessings,


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Small Step For Man - A Large Step For Menshlichkeit

Recently we posted about mussar - the art of self perfection. We all strive for perfection but it sees like such a monumental task. Where do we begin?

Big answer: Small acts. A smile, a phone call showing you care, one bracha said from the depths of your heart etc. etc. Any tiny act that breaks in the slightest our more animalistic or self-centered nature is a step on the road to greatness. To overcome an urge is considered a true act of heroism. [See Pirkei Avos 4\1]

Medicine contains just milligrams of healing substance, but it does the job. Large dosages are in fact dangerous. The same applies to our personal growth. We cannot begin with plans to, for example, feed every hungry person in the world. We must begin by planning to feed a poor family for one week. Or even buying lunch for a poor person. We cannot begin by having kavvana for the whole davening. We should start with one bracha of shmoneh esrei and work our way up from there. You know that television contaminates the soul but you can't bring yourself to get rid of it. So every so often before you turn it on ask to yourself "Is this going to bring me closer to G-d?" The answer is obvious. Then take a Chumash and learn for five minutes. You have just done a small act of greatness. [See Alei Shor Vol. 2 Page 189]

A Colorful Shabbos

Blood is red
Violets are blue
Here's a hilchos shabbos question
From me to you

There is a prohibition on Shabbos called "tzovea" [coloring]. For example, it is forbidden for a woman to apply makeup on Shabbos. The gemara [ksubos 5a] discusses whether it is permitted for a newly married woman to have relations for the first time on Shabbos. However the gemara doesn't seem to be bothered by an obvious problem. The bedsheet will be stained by blood, which would seem to be tzovea! Why is the gemara assuming that there is no tzovea involved?

Even today the problem exists. The halacha is that a woman is allowed, on shabbos, to insert a cloth inside herself in order to determine if she is still menstruating. But if there is in fact still blood then she will be coloring the cloth. So how is it permitted on shabbos?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mental Issues

I heard that in the Arab world if a man wants to marry a woman he must build a house for the two of them and only then will her father agree to give his daughter over in marriage. I am Jewish, so I am better at owning houses than I am at building them with my two hands. But every year, I build a temporary home in which I live for seven days. I have a name for it. I call it a "Succah".

The gemara in Succah [4a] talks about a person who wants to reduce the height of his succah [that is too high] by spreading straw [or dirt] on the floor and "being mevatel" [abandoning it]. Rashi adds that this "bittul" must be done verbally. The gemara doesn't say that. If I would have read the gemara without Rashi I would have said that it is enough to mentally [b'lev] abandon the straw. The gemara in Pesachim [7a and Rashi on 4b] says that when we nullify chametz [bittul chametz] it can be done mentally. So why regarding Succah does Rashi require a verbal declaration?

I Am Not An Animal

How long must one wait to eat meat after eating dairy?

According to the strict letter of the law, one can eat immediately. But first one must do "kinuch v'hadacha" - chewing on bread [to clean out the mouth of the dairy] and rinsing the mouth [Yoreh Deah 89/2, but see the Gra there]. However the custom is to wait a half hour. The source for this custom is quite a mystery. [See "Mekadesh Yisrael - Shavuos", Rav Y. D. Harpenes, Simman 75]

Something interesting that many people don't know is that after eating hard cheese it is commendable to wait 6 hours before eating meat [See Rema 89/3]. What is considered hard cheese? I was afraid you would ask that question! Suffice it to say that this question is the subject of considerable debate. Some say American cheese is considered hard cheese. [See Mekadesh Yisrael Simman 83] Many major poskim in Israel say that after eating pizza one should wait six hours because of the cheese. However many hold that we don't have halachically hard cheeses in our day and age so no six hour wait is ever necessary.

Waiting between meat and milk and vice versa teaches us to exercise restraint. Restraint is a uniquely human characteristic. Animals [and their human counterpart] don't know how to restrain themselves. Today we live in an age of instant gratification. Learning how to delay pleasure makes us better people.

Love #6: Achieving True Love Is Hard

"Love at first sight is easy to understand. It's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle."

Important lesson! "Falling in love" requires no effort. Anything effortless does not last. To truly love someone a great deal of effort must be invested in the relationship. Remember, if you are in a relationship and you don't find it easy, that is a good sign.

New Audio Shiurim

2 new shiurim:

1] "Bumps In The Road" [Seminary girl section #18] - Dealing with life's difficulties

2] "2, 3, 4, Ivdu Es Hashem B'Simcha" [First shiur in machshava section after the Rebbe's shiurim]

Haman Resurrected

News item: The Prime Minister of Iran [whose name sounds like Ahmad Jihad, meaning Arab Man Who Wants Holy War] says that he will destroy Israel.

Alleyways color[ful] commentary: Gee, doesn't that sound familiar?!

It's FUN when G-d promises you eternity!!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Change Your Life Is Spelled: M-U-S-S-A-R

What is Mussar?

1] Mussar is both an intellectual endeavor and a focus on character improvement. With respect to character mussar is the abandonment of negative and the adoption of positive character traits. In the intellectual realm, mussar is the tenacious and relentless pursuit of understanding what is ethical and good and what are the means to acheiving and then cementing those attributes in our personality. [Ralbag]

2] Mussar is the study of sin, the harm it does to the soul and the punishment for its comission. Mussar also includes sharing the aforementioned knowledge with others in order to prevent them from sinning. [Rabbeinu Yonah Shaarei Teshuva 3/3]

3] Mussar is from the word "assir" - prisoner. By studying mussar we learn how to bind, restrain and fetter our evil inclination. [Malbim]

4] Mussar is the Torah of rectifying the impurities of our heart. [Rav Yisrael Salanter]

5] Mussar is self-knowledge. Mussar is the psychology of the Torah. [Rav Shlomo Volbe, Alei Shor Vol. 2 Page 140, see there for an in-depth discussion of this topic.]

The Vilna Gaon [who is generally perceived as a Tzaddik with a philosophy of "Torah study is everything"] writes that a person lives in order to constantly improve his character. If he doesn't do so, of what value is his life?! [Commentary on Mishlei 4/13]

After 20 years in Yeshiva, I can look back and say that what has left an indelible impression on me more than anything else is MUSSAR. I hope and pray that I can live up to the values and behaviors espoused by the mussar sefarim and it's practitioners.

Manner Of Speech

There is a beautiful formulation in the Rambam [Hilchos Shekalim 1/9]. The Rambam says that when the Machatzis Hashekel [half shekel that every male must donate to the Beis Hamikdash] is collected, the collecters "tov'in b'nachas" - "demand pleasantly". We usually think that if we must "demand" something it can't be "pleasantly" and if we speak "pleasantly" it cannot be a "demand". But we see from the Rambam that sometimes, if necessary, we can demand pleasantly.

This is an important lesson for parents, teachers, employers, camp counselors etc. Sometimes we cannot just request ["I request that you stop beating up your little brother"]. We must demand. But the demanding can still be done pleasantly - and, may I add, with a smile. [Heard from the Tolna Rebbe Shlita]

The Pesach Must Remain In The Alleyways Of Jerusalem - Answer


If you look at Rashi on the Gemara he apparently answers this very question. Remember, Rashi will almost never tell you his question, just his answer. You have to figure out the question. Rashi comments on the words "Chamei Tveria" - "Ma'ayanos Roschin" [boiling springs]. Rashi is bothered, how do you get the Korban Pesach out of Yerushalayim? We are not allowed to remove the Korban Pesach from within the walls? His answer is that the gemara does not mean specifically the hot springs of Tiberias but any hot spring. So the gemara is talking about a hot spring in Yerushalayim. [See the Pri Yitzchak, by Rav Yitzchak Blazer, a disciple of Rav Yisrael Salanter, Vol.1 Simman 20 at the end.]

The Gerrer Rebbe, the Imrei Emes [in his "Michtavei Torah"], answered that the water is taken from Tiberias to Yerushalayim in a thermos by means of which it remains boiling [enabling it to cook the meat]. His problem with that answer is that the rule is that a kli sheni does not cook. The thermos in this case is a kli sheni, so halachically it will not cook the meat [yet the gemara says that the meat is cooked].

Others answer that the gemara is talking about the period when bamos [private alters] were permitted [before the Beis Hamikdash was built]. So the Pesach was actually brought in Tiberias. [Mareh Kohen]

Much discussion has taken centered around this question and of course we only touched the tip of the iceberg.

I must note that our brilliant commenters came up with all of the aforementioned answers on their own!!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

My Youth In Alabama

I was a six and a half year old boy living in Alabama [that is how I got the nickname "Ally". It is short for Alabama]. My father was a black sharecropper [today he is no longer black, he is African-American]. My dad said "Hey, let's go out to the field and plant some trees." I answered "Sorry Papa, but I can't. I am in my seventh year and the Bible says that in the seventh year you are not allowed to plant." "No son," my father replied "the Bible says that it is forbidden to work in the seventh year of the Shmittah cycle. It has nothing to do with your age ....." [Also Alabama is not in Israel, so Shmittah doesn't apply].

Of course I made up the whole story [except for the fact that I was once six and a half].

Anyway, while we are on the topic, what about hydroponics [the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions, rather than in soil]. Is it permitted to plant in liquid during the seventh year. Is that subsumed under the Torah prohibition of planting in the seventh year?

The Chazon Ish said that it is permitted!

Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, the Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim, took issue with the Chazon Ish. The Tosefta [a body of Tannaic literature, Maasros 3/8] explicity forbids "Matalya" during the seventh year. The Gemara in Avoda Zarah [38b] explains that "Matalya" means planting seeds in water [see there for an exact description]. The Chazon Ish was asked Rav Frank's question and was not fazed. But there is no record [that I have seen] of what he would answer. What would you say?

Please hurry up. Shmittah is coming close.

Love #5: When Control Is Confused With Love

"If you love me you will do as I say."

That is the message many people send each other. Parents to children, children to parents, spouses to each other etc. etc.


You can make your own individual choices which conflict with the wishes of your beloved and still continue to love them. Example [this one hits close to home as I deal with it yearly in the Yeshiva]: A father wants his child to attend a certain university while the child does not wish to attend. In such a case there is no halachic or moral obligation to listen to the father. A child is not owned by his parents!! What absolutely infuriates me is that a parent will FORCE a child to spend four years in a place that he does not want to be, studying material that does not interest him, because the PARENT'S dream is that the child should attend this university. What I often detect is that the parent loves ..... himself. There is no real concern for the child's well being or acceptance of the child's right to make his own life choices. Of course I am not talking about asking a six year old if he feels like going to school today. I am talking about a mature nineteen year old [or older] who can make his own decisions. Of course a parent should add his input, but the final decision must be the child's. I often see parents using various tactics to coerce the child into compliance. Threatening, screaming, exerting relentless pressure, excessive guilt etc. etc. I find such behavior detestable.

If I were the child, I would say: "Mom and Dad, I love you dearly and I know that you love me, but this is the decision I have made after consulting with various adults and seriously considering your position." If the parent cannot accept the child's decision, all too often it is the parent's issue. "MY dream is that MY child should do X." Sorry, love means allowing the subject of our love to grow in his own unique way. Love does not mean insuring that the beloved fulfill our expectations. That would better be defined as CONTROL. I have observed SO MANY controlling people. Control is toxic for love.

The same applies to husband and wife. "My dear husband, I love you with all my heart, but I am unable to fulfill your request that I work full-time while at the same time having children and keeping house. If you want children and that I keep the home orderly - the job is going to have to go. Children and home are a fulltime job. If you want me to work - you are going to have to hire full-time help for the house. I love you. Nothing personal. I just can't." That is perfectly legitimate. The husband can continue to love his wife even though she is unable to fulfill his will.

Of course we should try as much as we can to fulfill the wishes of those who we love. But as they say in hebrew "yesh gvul" - there are limits.

The Third Meal

I love the third meal on Shabbos afternoon. The singing, the food, the company, the words of torah etc. etc. [It is also fun to say the word "sholoshoudis".] In Kabbalah this time is called "ra'ava dra'avin" - the will of wills. The Sfas Emes that this is when G-d is "anxious" to bestow upon us blessings. He just wants us to make ourselves worthy. He has a will to have a will to reward us. This can be compared to a father who makes a great deal of money at work one day and comes home with a bag filled with presents for the children. He does not want to spoil the children by giving them something for nothing, so he hopes that their exemplary behavior will make them deserving of his largesse.

The problem is that many Jews don't eat the third meal! The truth is that the Shulchan Aruch [391/5] says unequivocally that we must. However, since we love Jews instead of pointing out their failures we will try to find a justification for their actions [when possible]. The Sefer Ohr Zarua [Simman 52] says that if one is not hungry he is not obligated to eat this meal. Another possible justification is that the implication of the Gemara [Shabbos 118b] is that the eating of the third meal is only a "Middas Chassidus" - an commendable act of piety, but not standard behavior.

Of course this is only a "limmud zchus" for those who are lax but of couse it is desideratum that everybody, men and women, alike should eat this meal. [See Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 16 Simman 13]

One final note. G-d is great! He tells us to eat delicious food and rewards us eternally for doing so. I would love to convert to Judaism. But I can't. I learned that when I was relieved of my foreskin one happy morning many moons ago. The Mohel whispered into my ear "Hey Al, you are Jewish. Forever! Welcome to the club. Hope you don't mind persecution too much." I answered "Thanks Mo!" and fell into a deep relaxing sleep. I have been having a ball ever since.

To Err Is Human, Not To Admit That You Have Done So Is Morally Reprehensible

Recently, I wrote about the importance of apologizing and admitting that you were wrong. Well here is my opportunity!

I am sorry. I was wrong!!!

I must correct what I wrote in the last paragraph of the previous post. It is clear that the mitzva is not just to remember that Miriam spoke lashon hara but also that she was punished for doing so. [A beautiful idea lost on many in the modern world. Sin has consequences.]

The question is, must one remember that she was punished WITH TZARAÁS [which is the simple meaning of the pasuk in Devarim 24/9] or is it sufficient to remember that she was punished, without remembering the specific punishment. This question is the subject of discussion in a fascinating book entitled "Shesh Zchiros", a tome devoted to the six events that we have a special mitzva to remember. These "Super Six" are printed in your siddur after Shachris. [Thank you to my new [old?] friend beisrunner for setting me straight on this issue.]

Do you know what I love about being alive? It is the opportunity to correct my mistakes. It makes me feel so gooood!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Memorial Day

Judaism is a religion that remembers the past in order to create a better future. Many people can't even remember what they ate for breakfast this morning while we are constantly conscious of events that took place thousands of years ago. [The word for male - zachar, and remember - zachor, have the same root. I wonder what the connection is? Hey, women remember too.]

In this weeks parsha we read the story of how Miriam spoke lashon hara about Moshe and was afflicted with tzara'as. There is a mitzva to remember this event. How often must we do so?

Some say that once a year is enough. Others say that the mitzva must be fulfilled every day.

Let's say a person wants to be really sinful, how can he nullify this mitzva? Easy - by speaking lashon hara! [Minchas Chinuch]

Some books say that it is not enough to remember the fact that Miriam spoke lashon hara but one must also remember that she was punished with tzara'as. But in the pasuk printed in our siddurim [at the end of Shachris] that people customarily say after davening the tzara'as detail is omitted and in fact some say that it suffices to remember that she spoke lashon hara.

I Could - Therefore I Am : The Answer

Every Jew is obligated to keep the Shabbos. This individual has just not yet accepted this obligation upon himself. He is thus considered obligated enough to enable him to make kiddush for his friend who has accepted upon himself the sanctity of Shabbos.

However there is no obligation for a Jew who lives in Israel to move to Chutz L'aretz. Therefore he is not considered obligated [even potentially] in the mitzvos of the second day of Yom Tov. That is the reason that a Jew who lives in Israel cannot make Kiddush on the second day of Yom Tov for a Jew who lives outside the land.

Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg and beisrunner [I LOVE the name] in the comments section.

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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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