Monday, December 31, 2007

Delicate Situation

Dovid and Chana are going out seriously. This seems like a match made in heaven [and Teaneck as well]. He is a diligent learner who is well liked by all of his friends and teachers in Yeshiva. She is a true Bas Yisrael whose sterling character and modest demeanor make her a role model for all.

But wait, it is not so simple [is it ever...]: When Dovid was in high school he suffered from mental illness and was taking medication to help manage his problems. The question is, must he tell her of his past before getting married. Of course if he must and refuses to do so then it would be a MITZVA for someone else to come forward and inform Chana [if the person is certain that the information is correct and he has approached Dovid who has nevertheless refused to comply and inform the unsuspecting kallah].

Apparently it would depend: If he still suffering from this illness, or there is reason to assume that there might be a relapse then he is obligated to inform her. If he is still taking medication he also must tell her. But if he has completely recovered and his past will not affect his wife in the future then he need not tell her. [See Tshuvos V'hanhagos 2/624 who suggests that the halacha would be different if the kallah is the one who was ill.]

Two important points:

1] If this ever comes up please consult a major Torah scholar and ask what the correct course of action is. Sometimes when one is overly careful about lashon hara he transgresses the prohibition of "Don't stand by idly when your brother's blood is being spilled" - Spilled blood includes a bad marriage or business partnership. When one DOES speak lashon hara he is guilty of murder. Sometimes one must speak up. At other times - remain silent.

2] Dovid and Chana are fictitious characters. They were invented tonight on my computer. I have never met a Dovid or a Chana with mental illness. I wish them much success in their fictitious life together. Mazel Tov!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Sometimes you may feel no desire to learn, daven or do other mitzvos. What do you do then??? [Common problem....]

Answer: Perfect opportunity!!!!!!! Turn to Hashem and say "I need your help. I can't do it without you. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!"

When He sees you in this state of need He will help. It is considered a great virtue to realize your smallness [shiflus]. In that merit you will earn Divine assistance.

See Tzidkas Hatzaddik 135 for more on this topic.

Love and blessings to one and all!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Jewish Perspective On Santa Claus

This poem was written by my good friend Reb Aryeh Friedner:

As most Coke bottles will proudly display,

There is one main theme of Christmas day.

His original green suit didn't go with the red,

So they decided to go with that color instead.

Children are told, "Be a nice boy,

And be a nice girl, and he'll bring you a toy!"

It's not until later when they're older and grown,

That the true essence of Christmas and Santa is shown.

You see, Adam HaRishon, the first man around,

Let out a loud cry to Hashem from the ground-

"I can't believe I made such a mark,

Since that first sin the world's gotten dark!"

For on Rosh HaShana, Adam was made,

In his first fall season he saw daytime fade.

He thought that the nights would continue to grow,

And the light of the sun would soon cease to show. [See Avodah Zara 8a]

But then, at this very time of year,

The name "Winter Solstice" rang in his ear,

For then the trend turned the opposite way,

And the long nights began to give into day.

He saw that this was a natural thing,

As he turned to Hashem and started to sing,

The songs of praise that we joyfully say,

Around Chanukah time, OUR Holiday.

This moment surely never lost fame,

As pagan religions soon did the same.

The most important god to serve, they surmised,

Should be the sun, which reigned alone in the skies.

The Egyptians had Ra and the Romans had Sol,

Others put Gabal in their godly bowl.

Some celebrated "Yule" in the honor of Thor.

(That's why some Christians burn a log on the floor.)

And then came along one, that's the point of this tale,

Who adopted a religion that was more or less pale.

All the other ones threw a big bash for their boss,

And all this one had was a big wooden cross.

So Constantine (the first), the Emperor of Rome,

Stole all their ideas, brought them into his home.

Not having fun was beginning to hurt,

And how else would he convince the whole world to convert?

For the real truth is of little debate,

Jesus was simply not born on this date.

Some scholars say in Apr. and some say in Mar.,

But it's generally accepted that Dec. 25 is a farce.

When the facts are studied, the truth comes out clean,

And the reason for Santa Claus is easily seen.

What better choice is there for them to insist,

Than a big jolly man that doesn't exist.

So remember the true reason why Christmas is here,

Not to spread joy, not gladness, not cheer.

But because our society doesn't care for what's real,

What's truth and what's fact, they don't generally feel.

Thank G-d we have Torah to show us the way,

To give us real meaning for every part of our day.

Now, why on Chanukah do we light candles at night?

I wish the truth to all, we should all see the light.

The Following Blog Is For Males Only [Females Will Not Understand - Unless They Are Male]

Did you ever have a really powerful taiveh [illicit desire] for something forbidden. You said to yourself after the thought - "Boy - you are a pervert!!" You were disgusted by yourself. How can I desire such immorality [aishes ish etc.]?!

The Chassidic approach? Baruch Hashem that I have such desires. This is an indication that I have potential to reach great heights! I will now act out on this taiveh.

Wait, not so fast. I must first modify it somewhat. Instead of desiring this woman I will desire Maseches Bava Metzia. I will be determined to fulfill my hearts deepest desire - to master Bava Metzia - with Tosaphos. I will not be stopped. I don't care what people say about me. I am possessed!!!! I will conquer.


"Taiveh. The Spice Of Life."

See Tzidkas Hatzaddik 44. [Inspired by my beloved friend D.B.B.Y.T. who asked me on the phone to tell him a "shtikel Reb Tzadok". This is what I opened to.]

Monday, December 24, 2007

Just Be Comfortable

How is an atheist different from a fox? You won't find an atheist in a foxhole. But a fox ....

How are they similar? Neither are careful to say krias shema in the proper time. [I have another similarity but maybe for a different time.]

Which brings us to today's halacha: It is permitted to read shema while sitting, standing, walking [but one should stand still until the words "al livavecha"] or travelling. One should preferably not lie down [unless one is sick G-d forbid, in which case he may lie on his side].

However if one is sitting it is forbidden to specifically stand up for krias shema in the morning or if one is standing it is forbidden to specifically sit down for krias shema at night. See Shulchan Aruch 63 and sefer Ishei Yisroel 195-6.

כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן עולם הבא

Friday, December 21, 2007

How To Relax

In this weeks parsha it says something STRANGE! Yissachar saw that tranquility was good. So if I were him I would take it easy. Chill! But then it says that he "bent his shoulder to bear and became an indentured laborer." [49/15] Why?

Big lesson! Do you really want to enjoy tranquility? First you have to work hard. If a person doesn't work hard he can't enjoy tranquility. He is empty. After a HARD day of work - in Torah and even professionally - a person can enjoy the tranquility of feeling accomplished and high-achieving. It is good to work hard.

Shabbos. Ahhhhhhh Shabbos. That is the time to look back and feel like we have successfully overcome the many tests of this meshuggena world. After working hard all week we can truly enjoy Shabbos.

May'ain olam haba!

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

[I think I heard part of the idea from the Rebbe Shlita or I saw it in Daás Chochma Umussar written by Rav Yerucham Levovitz Ztz"l - or both.]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Soprano Hallel - Answer

There is a discussion as to whether we say Hallel because of the fact that Chanukah is called a Yom Tov or because of the miracle that occurred. If we accept the former approach then we understand that women are not obligated to say Hallel. The obligation to say Hallel is a time bound mitzva [i.e. Yom Tov] and women are exempt from time bound mitzvos and thus may not read Hallel for a man. [If we say that Hallel is said because of the miracle then of course women would be obligated just like men.]

Another explanation is that the Hallel is said because of the victory in the war. Women are not warriors. That is why they are exempt from Hallel.

See Sefer Ner Ish U'veiso page 234 for a discussion.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Free Agent - Answer

Very important - affix has two f's and not one as I wrote in the original post. My apologies to the letter "f" for the omission. Maybe since I spent my childhood trying to avoid getting f's in school I subconsciously left it out. I will ask the great Psychiatrist Sigmund Reud [he he!] when I see him.

Anyway, Rav Shlomo Zalman explains as follows: A shaliach is considered as if HE has performed the mitzva after the person obligated has passed on his power and rights to the mitzva as we know that there is a law called "arvus" that means if my friend is obligated in a mitzva it is as if I am obligated. Hence the shaliach should make a bracha.

But Ner Chanukah is a mitzva on the HOME and only the homeowner is obligated to fulfill this mitzva. He cannot pass this obligation onto his friend. So when the shaliach performs the mitzva it is akin to a person who puts tefillin on his friends body. The shaliach is clearly not performing a mitzva and thus no bracha is required.

Do You Have A Light?

"God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, but an immediate insight, self-evident as light. He is not something to be sought in the darkness with the light of reason. He is the light."

A quote from a not so traditional Jew but what I think encapsulates the theme of Chanukah and what the burning candles represent. The deception and darkness [Greece is called "darkness" by Chazal] of reason - against the light of Reality.

"Ki imcha makor chaim, ba'ohrcha nireh ohr" - For You are the source of life - with Your light we will see light. [See Pachad Yitzchak Maámar 9]

Exciting!! A friend of mine bought an apartment in Israel and asked me to afix the mezuzas as he is in America

Free Agent

Exciting!! A friend of mine from America bought an apartment in Israel and asked me to affix the mezuzas. Do I make a bracha?

Avade!! [Yiddish for "Why certainly"]

Every mitzva done by an agent is done with a bracha.

One exception. Ner Chanukah! If a shaliach lights for a person in that persons home and the homeowner is not present no bracha is made. This is unlike bedikas chametz, seperating Terumah, affixing a mezuza etc. etc. where a bracha IS made by a shaliach.

Why is Ner Chanukah different???

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A "Noughtty" Question

What did the basketball player take his doughnuts to the court? So he could have fun Dunkin' Doughnuts!


The booing should be a kappara..... [That is why I like having my own blog - no editor to erase my really bad jokes.]

Numerous answers have been offered to the following question: Why don't we mention Chanukah in al hamichya? Think about it. [I thank the Holy T.Z. for sending me the question.]

To a related topic: Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach suggested that the reason we have a custom to eat doughnuts [sufganiyot] on Chanukah is not only because they are made with oil because there are other foods with oil. He explained that according to the gemara [avodah zarah 52b] the Greeks violated the stones of the mizbeach which had to be put away in storage. In al hamichya we mention the mizbeach ["al mizbachecha"] which expresses our sorrow over what happened. [I guess we could also get "stoned" to commemorate that event but then we wouldn't feel sorrow...] In bentching and borei nefashos there is no mention of the mizbeach. That is why a mezonos food was chosen.

By the way, Rav Shlomo Zalman ruled that if one eats sufganiyot during a meal he should NOT make a seperate bracha. See Halichos Shlomo Page 319.

A lovely Seventh Night to all of my beloved friends.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Soprano Hallel

Women. They are very much a part of Chanukah. Not only because of all the delicious food that they prepare. They also are obligated to light candles [or their husbands light for them]. What about Hallel? Must women say Hallel? Well, why not? Just like they are obligated in lighting despite the fact that is a time bound mitzva because they were an integral part of the miracle [af hem hayu bi'oso ha'nes]. So too they should also be obligated to say Hallel.

Well, the Rambam isn't explicit about this issue but he DOES say [Hilchos Chanukah 3/14] that a woman may not say it on behalf of a man. Why not? Her obligation should be on the same level as his?

Surprising Omissions - Possible Answer

I heard an explanation that in these parshiyos the galus begins. Hashem hides when we go into galus [our job is to reveal him, galus is from the word ligalos - to reveal]. That is why his special name is hidden.

The next time Hashem's name appears [in Parshas Vayechi] is in the pasuk "leeshuascha kivisi Hashem" - I await your salvation Hashem. That is the secret - to wait and actively hope. As we say in Yigdal "yishlach liketz hayamin mishichainu, lifdos michakei ketz yishuaso" - Hashem will send Moshiach for those who WAIT for salvation. If someone doesn't wait, according to the Rambam he is a KOFER. And a heretic. And a denier. It is not enough to believe in the coming of Moshiach. One must hope for him as well.

To paraphrase a line from a popular movie in the 80's "Hope for him - and he will come".

"Ki lishuascha kivinu KOL HAYOM" - We wait for your salvation ALL DAY LONG, we proclaim in our davening three times a day.

Do we?

Love and Blessings to all!!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Surprising Omission

Interesting. Someone pointed out that in all of Parshas Vayigash and Mikeitz Hashem's special name ["Shem Hamiyuchad"] of Yud and Hey, Vav and Hey does not appear - only Elokim. I would never have noticed. What is the meaning of this?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Impure Mixtures

לעלוי נשמת דודי היקר ר' משה חיים בן ר' שמואל פינחס

The gemara in Shabbos famously says that we should light Chanukah candles until "dikalya ragla ditarmodai min hashuk" - until there are no more Tarmodians [a nation] in the street. Why did the gemara not simply say until "there are no more people in the street." Why do we single out the Tarmodians?

The Rebbe Shlita explained this year [at the annual Siyum Hashas in honor of his grandfather] based on the gemara in Niddah [56b] that Tarmod was a nation that consisted of an indistinguishable mixture of Jews and Goyim. On Chanukah we have to spread the light so that we reach a level of self-definition that enables us to completely and absolutely define ourselves as Jews - and not Greek-Jewish hybrids. In many ways a complete Goy is better that a hybrid. What the Greeks tried to do was contaminate us with their ideas while allowing us to remain Jewish.

The contemporary signifigance of his idea should penetrate to the core of our souls. That is EXACTLY our battle today.

Good Shabbos Sweetest And Most Beloved Friends!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you

I want to thank everyone who davened for my uncle. Now I request that you learn a mishna or say a perek tehillim l'ilui nishmaso [Moshe Chaim ben R' Shmuel Pinchas].

There is a common misconception that when we daven and the answer from Heaven is negative then the Tefilla wasn't effective. This is not correct. EVERY PRAYER has some positive effect. If not for this ill person then maybe for another one. Or maybe it will help in a completely different way. But every tefilla counts and is precious. So we are taught by our Holy Sages and that should be a source of encouragement during difficult times.

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About me

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