Thursday, January 31, 2008

Self Understanding

"Kol haposel bi'mumo posel" [Kiddushin 70b]

How do you know what character traits you have to rectify? The Mussar Masters give a key: See what REALLY bothers you about other people and then look deep into your own psyche and chances are that you have at least traces of this quality. Now you can get to work. [See for example Michtav Méliyahu 5/123]

Another insight I recently heard: When a person is sympathetic to a certain group of people even if he claims not to personally identify with their principles and beliefs, deep inside he does. I often wonder, for example, about Jews who devote their lives to championing the rights of Arab terrorists and never express the slightest amount of concern for suffering Jews. "Fairness" he will claim. One sided fairness. Of course such people generally do not read this blog. So the message for us is to look at the way we relate to others in order to understand ourselves better.

Love and blessings!

Does Melaben Involve Water Or Not - Answer

The answer is as follows: When one has dust on his garment and he shakes it off the garment will be completely cleaned - even without water. In such an instance melaben is done even without water.

When cleaning a garment that is muddy, merely rubbing off the garment will not completely clean the it. Traces of mud will remain. In this case water is required for a complete cleaning and a transgression of melaben.

It emerges then that Rashi did not contradict himself. He said that there is melaben even without water he was talking about dust. When he said that in order to do melaben one needs to use water he was explaining the gemara that was talking about mud. [Sha'ar Hatziyun]

So Rebbe Akiva Eiger's question is answered. Which makes a Torah Scholar wonder why RA"E didn't offer such a basic distinction. He obviously has a different understanding of melaben. That is food for thought.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Last night as I was returning home from Yeshiva in the snow I thought to myself "Self, what is the gematria of sheleg [snow] and what associations does it bring up in my mind." Answer: 333. Wow! That reminded me of the gemara in Shabbos [88b]: "Blessed is Hashem who gave a Torah of three [Torah, Nevi'im and Ksuvim], to a nation of three [kohanim levi'im and yisraelim], through a person born third to his mother [Moshe], on the third day [of abstinence], during the third month of the year."

What is the gemara teaching us??? I could tell you but I would prefer if you would see it inside. So look at the Ayn Ayah of Rav Kook on this gemara.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snow And Teshuva

I AM SNOOOOOOOOOOOW EXCITED!!! The weatherperson [my daughter Gila] told me that snow is going to descend upon Jerusalem. That inspired me to write about another type of snow in Jerusalem.

"If your sins are like scarlet they will become as white as SNOW, if they have become as red as a worm [ka'tola] they will become as white as wool". [Yishayahu 1/18] The Yerushalmi [Shabbos 9/3] explains that the first part of the sentence ["If ... snow"] is referring to the first beis hamikdash when the scarlet thread [lashon shel zehoris] turned as white as snow on Yom Kippur indicating that the sins of the Jews were completely forgiven. The latter part of the sentence is referring to the second beis hamikdash when the scarlet only turned as white as wool indicating that the sins of the Jews were only partially forgiven.

The Legendary Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk in his Meshech Chochmah [in the Haftorah to Parshas Devarim; a shout out to my friend R' Yaakov Ellis who learned Meshech Chochma with me on Thursday nights back when Netiv Aryeh was called Yeshivat Hakotel. Check out his site ""] explains as follows: In the time of the first beis hamikdash the Jews were really pure inside and only sinned externally. This was represented by a scarlet which is white on the inside and only colored red on the outside. When the Jews repented the scarlet turned as white as snow - whiter than white, as white as white can be, complete purity!

During the period of the second beis hamikdash the sins of the Jews penetrated much closer to their core. This was represented by a "tola" which is a worm with red blood inside. The Jews were impure even on the inside. They were filled with hatred and hostility towards each other. So when they repented their sins became only as white as wool - a darker shade of white than snow.

Hopefully the snow will arouse us to purify our deeds until they are completely white like snow.

And hopefully I will help my children build a snowman. I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, January 28, 2008

Who Is Really Serving

"Someone who does not possess the positive quality of constantly seeing the good and positive in other Jews and is not in the habit of singing their praises and does not always judge others favorably must know that he HAS NOT EVEN BEGUN TO SERVE HASHEM."
Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev

There is so much to say about this topic but I will allow everybody to draw their own conclusions.

Love and Blessings To All

A Surprising Communication - A Shidduch Idea

Dear alleyways,

I am seriously considering converting to Judaism. My question is, if and when I convert, should I say the bracha "shelo asani goy" ["who didn't make me a Gentile"] in the morning, because the fact is that originally I WAS made a gentile?

The Pope

Dear Reb Pope

Good question!!

The Rema [56/4] rules that a convert should not make the bracha. However many later authorities [Magen Avraham and others] disagree and say that you should. This is called a "machlokes" - get used to it.

The rationale [of the latter opinion] is that a person who converts was already born with a special soul. That is why the gemara often refers to a covert as a "ger she'nisgayer" - a convert who converted. It should refer to him as a "gentile who converted". Converts don't have to convert as they are already Jewish. The gemara is alluding to the kabbalistic idea that a convert was destined to be one from the outset and hence he may make the bracha "shelo asani goy".

Also, I was thinking of another reason. When a gentile undergoes the conversion process what makes him Jewish? Circumcision? Immersing in a mikve? Accepting the mitzvos? Yes, yes and yes. But that is not enough. Now G-d steps in and changes the persons essence from that of a gentile to that of a Jew. So after conversion it would be proper to bless G-d for not making you a gentile.

I would also suggest that at the next Mass you check out the nuns and find one you are interested in. Then get her to convert to Judaism as well. This way you can marry her. Remember what G-d told Adam? "It is not good for man to be alone." Also she won't have trouble covering her hair as per the way of traditional Jewish women - she is used to it [may I say "in the 'habit' of covering her hair"]. If she can still bear children even better. Judaism is adamantly Pro-Creation.

All the best and looking forward to seeing you in the shteibel.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

We Are All Goyim

Nechama'le was an only girl with a number of brothers. Her brothers used to fight and wrestle a great deal. One time, as two of her brothers were beating each other up, Nechama'le closed her eyes and said with great emotion "Baruch ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha'olam she'lo asani BOY."

Every morning we all thank Hashem for not creating us as Gentiles. What is strange is that we say "shelo asani Goy". The Jewish people are referred to by the Torah as a "Goy" many times. One instance is in this past weeks parsha where Hashem says to us
"Vi'atem tihiyu lee mamleches kohanim vi'GOY kadosh." So we too are Goyim. Goy just means "nation". So why do we thank Hashem for not making us Goyim when we are really Goyim ourselves?

Rav Chaim Chizkiyahu Medini [born in Jerusalem 1833 died in Chevron 1904] in his monumental encyclopedic work "Sdei Chemed" explains that "Goy" means the Jewish people as a whole. However when referring to an INDIVIDUAL the word Goy denotes a Gentile. So the bracha makes sense. We are thanking Hashem as individuals for not making us as Gentiles. [For many sources on the topic see Piskei Tshuvos Vol. 1 Page 377-8].

Shavua Tov Sweetest Friends!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Charming And Sweet

"The Jews encamped [vayichan Yisrael] opposite the mountain" - Rashi says "like one man with one heart" [Shmos 19/2]. Chassidus explains that the word "vayichan" can also mean "charming" [from the word "chein"]. The Jews were CHARMING in each others eyes and that engendered unity.

The gematria of Yisrael plus five for its five letters, equals matok - 546 [Be'er Moshe]. Jews are charming AND sweet.

The service of this Shabbos is to appreciate the charm and sweetness that inheres within each and every Jew.


Does Melaben Involve Water Or Not?

The gemara in Shabbos [147b] says "If one shakes his garment on Shabbos he is liable to bring a korban chatas." The reason is that he is doing the forbidden labor of "melaben" - whitening. Rashi says that it is talking about shaking dust from a garment that a person wants to clean. [Tosaphos argues that he shakes the moisture of dew from his garment but if it is dry there is no melaben]. The Shulchan Aruch and Rema [302] rule like Rashi - see there.

Rebbe Akiva Eiger asks the following: The gemara earlier [141] writes that if one has mud on his garment he may rub it from the inside of the garment but not from the outside. Rashi explains that rubbing it from the inside is not a problem but when rubbing it from the outside it LOOKS like melaben but it is not actually melaben because there is no water used and there IS NO [biblical] MELABEN WITHOUT WATER. So why does Rashi say [on 147b] that there IS a biblical prohibition of melaben even without water.

So do you need water for melaben or not?! Rebbe Akiva Eiger does not answer this question. Can you?

Good Shabbos sweetest friends!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Go All The Way Up!

What did Moshe Rabbeinu say when he reached the top of Mount Sinai?

"Wow, this looks like a great place for a hospital."

Before the giving of the Torah the Jews are told "Beware of ascending the mountain and touching its edge, whoever touches the mountain shall surely die." [19/12]

The simple meaning of the pasuk is that it was forbidden for the Jewish people to come into contact with Har Sinai. However the Kotzker Rebbe read the pasuk a little differently: Beware of just touching the EDGE of the mountain. One must ascend the mountain of Hashem and reach the TOP. One must strive for greatness and eschew mediocrity!! Mediocrity is own sworn enemy.

Yearn for greatness and you will achieve it!

Love and blessings

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam


"I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done."

Steven Wright

We know that there is a melacha on Shabbos called "koseiv". If one writes two letters he has violated Shabbos with koseiv. However there is also a melacha called "tzovea" - coloring. Every time a person writes he is also coloring the page [blue pen, black pen, red pen etc.]. How come one is not liable for tzovea as well? [Rav Yitzchak Schmelkes in Beis Yitzchak chelek aleph in the mafteichos to simman aleph, os heh]

Searching For Truth

"Pesi yaamin lichol davar" - A fool will believe anything. [Mishlei 14/15]

"When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing — they believe in anything." G.K. Chesterton

I love Yisro. He was relentless!! He didn't want to believe in anything. He wanted TRUTH! He was the High Priest of idolatry. Yisro, points out the Baál Haturim, is equal to the gematria - "komer haya li'avodah zarah" [priest to idolatry]. He tried EVERY religion [see Rashi 18/11]. Nothing satisfied him until he found the Torah. Yisro is also equal to the gematria "ha'torah" [Baál Haturim].

Today when a Jew wants to learn in order to delve deeper and deeper into the truth of Torah his [sometimes even religiously observant] friends and family will tell him to stop wasting his time and start making money. After all, he is told, that is what life is about.

Ahhhhh, the Almighty Dollar supercedes the Almighty.

If we are wary of this poisonous attitude we will not be sucked up by the superficiality of modern society.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

To Hear The Divine Voice

Three men are in the desert, one has food, the second has water and the third guy has part of a wall with a window. The first guy is asked why he brought food. "To eat if I get hungry." The second fellow is asked why he brought water. "To drink if I get thirsty." The third guy is asked why he brought part of a wall with a window. He replies "If it gets hot I will open the window...." [Courtesy of Shmuli Ehrman]

Why did Hashem choose to give the Torah in the desert and not in an inhabited area?

There is so much NOISE in the world. It is hard to think and really concentrate. So much going on! Hashem wanted our UNDIVIDED attention. That is only possible in a desert. In fact the word for desert is "midbar" - which also means to speak. To really hear someone speak we need a desert. [Rav Moshe Schapiro Shlita]

Today the world is so much louder than it ever was. Television, radio, computers, cellular phones etc. etc. Everybody needs to find his own personal desert where he can think. That is the challenge of todays world - finding a time and place to think.

Have a GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Purple Galaxy: Continuation

Many years ago there was a big college basketball game where a player hit a clutch shot at the buzzer. Every single person in that building saw the ball go into the basket - except for the referees!! The basket was NOT COUNTED! Afterwards the commissioner of the league was interviewed and he said something to the effect of "I don't care if G-d Himself saw the ball go in the basket - if the referees don't see it go in, it doesn't count." That is the mashal. Now the nimshal.

Why is the new month sanctified? Because of the appearance of the new moon, one might say. If that were the case then we can say that it will have emerged that this twelve year old was really 13 at the time of testimony [if his testimony is accurate]. In such a case the beis din can receive him in order to verify the facts. HOWEVER THAT IS NOT CORRECT! The new month is sanctified because the beis din proclaims it as such. The beis din is the "referee". It is not enough for the new moon to appear - we also need the input of beis din. That being the case, when this twelve year old comes before beis din and wants to testify that he saw the new moon last night [which would make him bar mitzvah] the beis din should say "Sorry Charlie [if that is his name - it is in fact my middle name], but you are twelve years old because the new month hasn't started [even if there was really a moon last night - but we haven't proclaimed it Rosh Chodesh yet] and therefore we can't accept your testimony. Sorry. Enjoy your bar-mitzvah party later this week. Hope you get lots of very small presents" - [i.e. envelopes with a slip of paper inside with many zeros written on them. Zero is bad for school - great for checks].

So it is quite difficult to understand why the MC was in doubt about this question.

[Rav Eliyashiv Shlita]

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tu Bishvat

I am sorry but I must share this riddle with you. What joke is almost as old as Tu Bishvat?: What day follows Tu Bishvat? Three Bishvat!

Not a joke: What day precedes Tu Bishvat? Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

On Tu Bishvat Jews eat fruits. What do you do on Martin Luther King Jr. Day? Have a DREEEEAM!!!

We all know that after the fact [bidieved] if you made a shehakol on any food you can eat it. What is less well known is the opinion of the Chaye Adam [58/3] that mezonos also covers all foods outside of water [and other beverages] and salt. This is based on the gemara [Eruvin 26] that says that if one makes an oath that he will not eat mezonos, he may not consume anything but water and salt, so we see that all foods may be categorized as "mezonos".

However some argue this point [see Aruch Shulchan 167/19 and Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Part 4/40].

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Purple Galaxy

"Do you daven in that shul?"

"Yes, but only once in a blue moon."

Master of the Universe!!!!!!!!! When has there ever been a blue moon?? What about a green sun? Or a pink star? Where does this expression come from?? Where is Neil Armstrong when we need him?!

Which brings us to our [more serious] question!

A famous Minchas Chinuch in mitzva 4: It is the 30th day of the month and potentially [if witnesses testify to that effect] Rosh Chodesh. Yossi is twelve years old and his birthday is on Rosh Chodesh. He comes before the beis din [with another witness] and testifies that last night he saw the new moon. The question is, do we accept Yossi as a witness and sanctify the new moon based on his testimony? On one hand, right now he is twelve years old and not old enough to testify. On the other hand, if we accept his testimony it will emerge that he will have been retroactively bar-mitzvahed from last night [because on Rosh Chodesh he turns 13] and is thus considered a kosher witness. Do we accept his testimony? Ad kan divrei haMinchas Chinuch.

Th very fact that the MC raises such a question is problematic. Why?

Sunday, January 20, 2008


What do you call maror after you take it out of the fridge?

Bitter cold.

There are many bitter Jews in blogosphere. Angry at G-d, parents, teachers and community. It is not good to be bitter. In Beshalach we read the when the Jews arrived at Marah they could not drink the water because "marim hem" which means [according to the simple meaning] that the waters were bitter. The Kotzker reads the pasuk differently. It wasn't the waters that were bitter - it was the Jews themselves. When you are bitter everything you drink will be bitter!

Zeesa Yidden - let's be sweet!!

Like the fruits of Eretz Yisrael!

A happy tu bishvat to all.

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam


It's A Plane, It's Superman - No It's A Bird!!!

"A person is like a bird - if he stops flapping his wings he will fall." Rav Yisrael Salanter.

Flap Yidden, flap!!!!!!!!! Life is short and there is a lot of work to do.

Gut Voch and Shavua Tov to my sweetest friends!


Some answers to previous posts.

"I"m Stumped" - See the words of the wise commenters.

"Benching On The Mon" - Wise commenters again.

"Is Silence Always Golden" - The Maharil Diskin suggests that the pasuk should be read rhetorically: G-d will fight for you and you will remain silent [of course you should daven]?! There are other answers. This is one.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I'm Stumped

Two antennas got married. The shmorgasboard was only OK but the RECEPTION was great!! [Heard from my friend Nosson Melech]

Anyway, my friend Aharon Yehoshua ben Michal Batya stumped me with the following question on the parsha: Hashem told Moshe to split the sea with his STAFF ["mateh"] [14/16] but when he actually executed the command [14/21] he used his hand only. Why didn't he follow Hashem's command to the letter and use his staff?

Do you have an idea?

Elevating Torah

"Wow, those right-wingers have gone too far!! A mezuza on the entrance to an elevator??"

Yes indeed, in certain places in Israel you will see a mezuza hanging by the elevator. Is this because a mezuza goes on the RIGHT side of the entranceway so the RIGHT wingers like it or is there more to it?

Well, one could learn from Rashi in Menachos 34a [d"h lul] that one must hang a mezuza there. However it isn't so simple and straightforward. Rav Moshe Shternbuch [Tshuvos V'hanhagos 2/547] says to place the mezuza but without a bracha. Of course, if the building belongs to gentiles no mezuza is necessary. The Bi'tzel Hachochma [quoted there] rules that no mezuza need be placed on any elevator [even belonging to Jews].

The term "right wing" or "left wing" or any other label for that matter mean nothing. What really matters is the depth of our relationship to Hashem. The mezuza reminds us every time time we enter a new situation that the only thing that has value in this world is spirituality and those physical acts that will help advance our higher ideals. [See the beautiful passage in the Rambam hilchos mezuza 6/13!]

Maybe placing a mezuza on an elevator symbolizes that whether we are going up or down in life we always must remain connected.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is Silence Always Golden?

Child says to usher at the entrance to shul on Yom Kippur "I want to call my father out to tell him something." The usher replies "Where is your ticket?"

"I don't have one."

"So you can't go in."

"Please! Just for a minute to get my dad."

"OK! But don't let me catch you praying."

Is there a biblical mitzva to daven? You guessed it [unless you already knew]. Disagreement. The Rambam says that there is and the Ramban contends that there isn't [of course midirabanan there is a mitzva]. However even the Ramban agrees that if one is in distress ["ais tzara"] then there is a biblical mitzva to daven [hasagos to the sefer hamitzvos mitzva 5].

In this weeks parsha the Jews are being pursued by the Egyptians and they are told by Moshe to remain silent [14/14]. I don't get it. This is no time to remain silent. This is the ideal time to pray! Being pursued by an army of bloodthirsty Arabs can definitely be considered a time of distress. So why does Moshe tell them to remain silent?

We must answer this question. We must not remain silent!

Retaining And Understanding The Daily Folio

There are many wonderful things to say about the study of daf hayomi. Many many. The consistency, the endless number of topics covered, the dedication required [imagine a job with no days off!] etc. etc.

One drawback however is that it is very difficult to retain such a large amount of material after hearing it only once. Last week a special Jew passed away in the Old City. He found a solution to the problem. He attended THREE [!!] daily daf hayomi shiurim.

Wow , I told his wife and children at the shiva, he didn't just learn to "get through the daf". He really wanted to know it.

Now he is in the world of truth enjoying his eternal dessert for that and a myriad of other good deeds.

The Power Of Imagination - Answer


Hearty appetite!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Power Of Imagination

The holy books say that a Jew should "live with the parsha". This week I have been really into the mon that we read about in Beshalach. We know that the mon tasted like whatever food the person desired. He wanted pizza - pizza it was. Steak and potatoes - ummmmmmm. Parmajwili ala runi [a favorite French dish of mine that I just conceived of] - so it was.

Let us say the person thought to himself - I want this to taste like a Big Whopper from Burger King - with fries. Would that have been permitted? How about shrimp [which in my opinion resembles a large cockroach - and is only slightly less appetizing]? Or any unkosher food for that matter [why is spell check telling me that I misspelled unkosher. Let me try this one. Treif. Yeah, they got me on that one too. Well, how would you spell treif?]

The Rogochover Gaon was asked this question and he brought a proof from the gemara in Sanhedrin 59b that it is absolutely ---------.

I will keep the suspense going until next time. Of course you can look it up and figure it out for yourself.....

The First Stage Of Tshuva


If someone were to approach me and say "I am ready! I want to return to Hashem. Where do I start?" What would I say?

Well, first I think I would kiss the person [assuming of course that we share a gender]. Then I would explain "I am a Kookie. I am a follower [or at least I try] of the teachings of my revered Rebbe, Rav Kook ztz"l. Unfortunately he passed away over 35 years before my birth but left us a lot of his teachings to ponder. This is what I would recommend based on the first chapter of Oros Ha'tshuva: Stop consuming white flour, white sugar, soft drinks such as Coke and Pepsi, fried foods, limit portion size, wait a few hours in between eating and sleeping [good for digestion], sleep a minimum of seven hours a night [unless you really need less] and exercise at least three times a week.

"Hey, I want to do teshuva - not stop living!" I am scolded [by the man I just kissed moments ago...].

"Hey, sweetest friend, I can't change reality. The reality is that tshuva begins with your body. You take care of your body and your body will take care of you. Afterwards we can start talking about your soul."

Holy brothers and sisters, yesterday a nice young man was at my house who followed this regimen [more or less - nobody is perfect..] and he said that he feels LIKE A MILLION BUCKS. Now, how a million bucks feels I don't know. I have never interviewed a million bucks. ["So Mr. Bucks, how does it feel being you? Do you enjoy that fact that so many people dream about you? Do you have any hobbies besides sitting in foreign banks so that people don't have to pay taxes on you? Doesn't it get stuffy sometimes in peoples wallets?"] But he [and many others] claim to feel great.

Maybe, maybe, maybe, give it a shot. Then tell me how it went. One caveat! Giving it a shot doesn't mean trying for one afternoon from 3:00 until 3:45 [in between meals of course]. A real prolonged shot.

Good shooting!!!!!!!

Love and blessings to all!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The President Is Right!

I am really trying to avoid controversy but I feel that I must comment.

I don't really follow politics but I overheard somebody saying the other day that President Bush [is Reagan no longer in office??] proposed a "two state solution". I can't agree with him more!!!

We always need to be in a state of 1] LOVE OF G-D and 2] FEAR OF G-D. Two states. Otherwise, the Zohar says, our mitzvos will not have the two "wings" they need in order to elevate to the heavens and will remain down here.

Thanks Reb George. Ahava and Yirah. That indeed is the solution to our spiritual impoverishment.

Good Guess!

This is EXCITING! You are in sixth grade and are participating in the "brachos bee". Why they would name a bracha contest after an unkosher animal is beyond me but we will avoid that issue. Anyway, brachos bee sounds better than "brachos mosquito".

They ask you what bracha to make on Techina. You answer "Shehakol". "Blintzes?" "Mezonos". "Tzimmes?" "Ha'adama". "Napolean cake?" "Mezonos on the cake, shehakol on the cream". [Amazing! He was a leader, general and - pastry chef!!] You are on a roll.

Now you are asked [for the win!] "Mon?" "What?" You ask. "Mon, manna," you are told. "The heavenly food that fell for the Jews in the desert. What was the bracha made before they ate it?"

Well, this has practical ramifications. When Moshiach comes we will take out the jar of mon which was preserved by Aharon [Shemos 16/33] and eat it.

Well you can't say hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz. It doesn't come from the earth.

You venture a guess "Hamotzi lechem min hashomayim" - [He takes bread from the heavens]. DING DING!! Correct. The great kabbalist the Rama Mi'Pano ruled that way.
[See sefer Chavatzeles Hasharon on Shemos page 290 for a detailed discussion.]

The prize? A years supply of honey [in honor of the "bee"]!!

Mazel Tov!!!!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Benching On The Mon - How So?

The gemara says in Brachos [48] that when the "mon" fell Moshe Rabbeinu instituted the first bracha of benching called "ha'zon". [Benching is what Jews do after they eat - and what I did on the high school basketball team. I should have brought a sandwich along to the games, then I could have "benched on the bench". In the end I didn't do so. The result was that our team lost a lot of games - and I remained skinny.]

That is lovely, the only problem is that halachically one can only bench as long as the food has not been digested. The mon, however, was IMMEDIATELY absorbed into the body of the eater [Yoma 75], so there was no opportunity to bench. That left the great Chazon Ish [and us in his footsteps] wondering how Moshe could decree benching on such food.

Bonus Question: What MVP of the 1976 world series is connected to our query?


Sweetest friends I am so GLAD! A good friend sent me the following post from Hirhurim. Indeed, Seinfeld IS funny [notwithstanding what I wrote in a recent post]. I must add that I firmly believe that anyone with a TV should donate it to the local Salvation Army but certainly not have one at home. Here it is:

There was a 1993 episode of Seinfeld that focused on a specific area of hygiene and entered a phrase into the common lexicon. It is now common to hear people speak of "double-dipping" and its lack of social acceptability. Here is a transcript of that brief exchange (from here):

[George, attending a wake, takes a large tortilla chip, dips it into a bowl of what appears to be sour cream, takes a bite, dips it into the bowl again, and then eats the remainder of the chip.]

Timmy: What are you doing?
George Costanza: What?
Timmy: Did, did you just double dip that chip?
George Costanza: Excuse me?
Timmy: You double dipped a chip!
George Costanza: Double dipped? What, what, what are you talking about?
Timmy: You dipped a chip. You took a bite. And you dipped again.
George Costanza: So?
Timmy: That's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip. From now on, when you take a chip, just take one dip and end it.

The point is that we should be careful about spreading our germs and considerate of fellow eaters. There is an interesting parallel in a talmudic passage, that not only makes this point but does so in a fairly humorous way.

Here it is in Nedarim 49b:

R. Yossi and R. Yehudah. One was eating porridge with his hands and the
other [from the same bowl] with [a utensil fashioned out of] tree bark. The one eating with bark said to the one eating with his hands: "Until when will you keep feeding me your excrement?" The one eating with his hands said to the one eating with bark: "Until when will you keep feeding me your saliva?"

These two rabbis were eating from the same bowl. One pointed out to his fellow that his hands were dirty, jokingly referring to them as being full of excrement (Rashi says that there was dirt under his fingernails). The other retorted that every time he put his utensil back in the bowl, i.e. double dipped, he was putting his saliva back in. I can picture this exchange happening and find it hilarious. But the Talmud's point is simple: Be hygienic and be considerate. And, clearly, take just one dip and then end it.

Forgive Me Father For I Have Sinned

Sweetest friends shalom!!

A good friend told me that my post "Open Letter To Netiv Aryeh Alumnus - Happy Epilogue", was sarcastic. OY VEY IZ MIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In my book sarcasm is a BIG SIN!! I am working very hard to erase it from my repertoire.

Please forgive me for any spiritual pollution that I might have caused you.

I thank my Rebbe and friend "MEHBYH" for bringing this to my attention and encourage you all to correct me if I stumble in this or any issue.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Question That Will "Box" You In - Answer

For this question, like any other good question - you have to try to think "out of the box". I was thinking that we can answer the question based on a principle of the Rogochover Gaon. He said that the mitzva of the arm tefillin is fundamentally different than the mitzva of the head tefillin. The former is a mitzva to perform the ACT of laying the tefilin. This is expressed by the bracha "li'haneach tefillin" - to LAY the tefillin. The latter is a mitzva that the tefillin should be resting on the head [and the act of placing them is just a means of fulfilling the mitzva].

[The practical difference [nafka minah] would be if one must put tefillin on during the night due to extenuating circumstances. The gemara [Menachos 36a] says that in a such an instance one should touch his tefillin [yimashmesh] after daybreak. The Rogochover asserts that the gemara is referring only to the ARM tefillin where the mitzva is to do an ACT of placing [if the tefillin are already on touching suffices]. But such an act would not be necessary with respect to the head tefillin because all that matters is that after daybreak the tefillin are resting on the persons head.]

If we accept his premise then it would emerge that one bracha on the tefillin would not suffice because each of the two brachos expresses the different nature of the each respective mitzva. That is different than terumos and ma'asros where one bracha would cover both mitzvos.

[If you are interested in another few resolutions see the excellent sefer Birkas Ya'akov on Birkos Hamitzva Page 148.]

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Question That Will "Box" You In

In this weeks parsha we will read about the mitzva of tefillin. Many Rishonim hold that when putting on tefillin one should make a bracha on the arm tefillin and another bracha on the head tefillin. That is the opinion of the Rema and the Ashkenazic custom.

However many argue and say that only one bracha is made on the arm tefillin and if he didn't speak in the interim no second bracha is necessary. That is the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch and the Sephardic practice.

The opinion that says to make two brachos [i.e. the Rema] is very problematic.

1] The halacha is that when separating terumos and maásros one makes only ONE bracha - even for multiple separations [Rambam Maáser 1/16, S.A. 331/78]. The reason is that all of the acts of separating are connected, thus mandating one bracha. The same should apply to tefillin. Since the arm and head tefillin are really in the same category only one bracha should be said.

2] The very same Rema who argued with the Shulchan Aruch and insisted that two brachos are made on tefillin didn't argue about terumos and maásros when the Shulchan Aruch said to make only one bracha. He seemingly agrees then with the S.A. which prompts us to ask why that case is different from tefillin?

3] When one puts on two pairs of tzitzis together he makes one bracha even though he is fulfilling two mitzvos. The same should then apply to tefillin. Why is tefillin different and we make two brachos?

These questions were posed by a prominent Orthodox Rabbi from Vilna, a certain Rabbi Elijah Kramer in his famous Biur HaGra commentary.

Please help answer these questions by sunday morning when we will once again put on tefillin and most likely [if you are Ashkenazi and male or female and VERY liberal] make two brachos.

Love, Blessings and Good Shabbos to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Darshening" Frank

"It's up to you...."

Frank Sinatra

What did ol' blue eyes mean when he said that? Maybe the following.

In Parshas Bo the Jewish people are called Hashem's "bechor". The first born child MAKES his father into a father. Until he came around the father was not yet a father.
Our job in this world is to be Hashem's bechor. We are to proclaim to the world [and primarily to ourselves] the Hashem exists and runs the world. [See Meshech Chochma]

There is a scary medrash. It quotes the pasuk "Atem aidai vi'ani kel" - You are my witnesses and I am G-d. The medrash comments "If you are my witnesses then I am G-d, if you are not my witnesses then ......" [logic will dictate the rest].

Big job. Kviyachol G-d NEEDS us in this world. Without us the entire purpose of creation is not fulfilled. It really is up to us!!

If you switch around the letters of the word "aid" - witness, you get "da" - know. First we must know then we can serve as witnesses. To know means to read G-d's "autobiography" - the Torah. Lots of it.

No time to watch Seinfeld.

Good Shabbos most beloved friends!!!!!!!!

Elchanan ben Henna Miraim

P.S. I was at a chavrusas house today and he had the TV on and "Seinfeld" was showing. Please don't tell anybody but I watched for about 30 seconds. IT WASN'T FUNNY AT ALL! If someone thinks that it is funny please tell me something funny that you have seen. It is not fair to judge after only 30 seconds. It was the first and most likely last time I will see the show and I would like to have a more positive impression just in case I ever run into Jerry in the Old City Mikve on erev Shabbos or at the famous Ramban shul. Then I can say "Wasn't it great when Elaine....." [I was told that the maidel's name is Elaine. Is she a daughter of Sarah, Rivka and Rochel?]

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Criterion For The Forbes 400

Pursuant to the previous post we must mention that if riches are used for good purposes then one should definitely try to acquire them. We [my yetzer tov and I] just meant that money should not be deified.

So it behooves us to define what it means to be wealthy. The gemara in Shabbos [25] says in the name of Rebbi Yossi [in the Soncino gemara I used in high school to help me study for gemara tests, Rebbe Yossi is translated as "Rabbi Jose" - ostensibly a Puerto Rican sage] that one is rich "if his lavatory is situated near his dining room table".

WHAAAAAAAAT????????????? That is wealth? A bathroom near his table. Au contraire! Rich people have such big houses the bathroom might be a mile away. POOR PEOPLE have homes in which all the rooms are close to each other. And what type of definition is that? A large Swiss bank account, a private airplane, thirty thousand shares in Google - now that is rich! As a child [last month?] I read Richie Rich comic books. I have no recollection that "Rebbetzin" Regina Rich made sure that her restroom was near the dining room table - and the Riches were really rich. I used to watch Robin Leach hosting "Lifestyles Of The Rich And The Famous" and I don't remember that the fantastically wealthy people featured on the show had such a setup.

As they say in the Yeshivos - What's pshat???????

Who Is Hashem?

Something to learn from Pharoh. He is always talking about G-d. Sometimes he denies Him, sometimes he acknowledges Him but G-d is always Pharoh's main focus. He thought that G-d was so important that he even crowned HIMSELF god!!

Today most people aren't terribly interested in G-d. People talk about money, sports, entertainment, food, who is divorcing who and ..... money [and sometimes, who is divorcing who FOR MONEY...]. Our task in this world is to try to understand G-d as much as possible [the very first of the 613 mitzvos according to the Rambam is belief in G-d. What that entails would require MANY MANY BOOKS to even begin to understand] and He has been almost forgotten. People are much more interested in todays newspaper and what is happening with the stock market.

"Do not make for yourself gods of gold and gods of silver" [Shemos 20/20]. Explained the Kotzker: Do not make gold and silver your gods.

Ahhhh, the god of Mammon. So popular, so sought after, so desired - and oh so temporary. It won't bring you true happiness in this world and as the cliche goes "you can't take it with you." At the end, all we have for eternity is our relationship with Hashem. Let us not exchange false temporal gods for the real deal.

Yes indeed, "In G-d we trust."

Love and blessings from His very own backyard,

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Face To Face

Communication is a central part of our lives. The quality of our lives is determined to a great extent by the quality of our relationships. The quality of our relationships is determined in a large part by how successful we are in communicating with others.

You knew that. But there is more. People often communicate via email, telephone or other technological means. If you want to have a meaningful conversation then such means serve as a barrier to true connection. It is extremely difficult [or well nigh impossible] to fully understand another human being. We need all the help we can get. That means not only HEARING the other persons voice but also SEEING his face as the dialogue is being conducted. There are so many nuances that a person misses when not speaking face to face.

A theological insight to help bolster our [I think self evident] thesis. The Torah says that Hashem spoke to Moshe "face to face" [panim el panim]. This means that while all other Prophets communicated with Hashem without achieving true clarity, Moshe conversed with Hashem as if [kviyachol] he could see his face, symbolizing a much higher level of clarity. Just as when conversing with a person you understand him much better when seeing him, so too Moshe had a superior level of understanding of Hashem. [Rav Simcha Zissel Broide in "Som Derech" Shmos Page 295]

Panim also comes from the word "pnimius" - the inside. You can see a persons "insides" if you can see his face.

The lesson: If you want to have a meaningful conversation with someone - face to face is desideratum. Of course that is not always possible so in such instances we thank Hashem for the modern miracle called "technology".

In modern hebrew a face to face meeting is called "pgisha bi'arba einaim" [a meeting with four eyes]. I have four-eyes even without another person. I prefer a "pgisha bi'shesh einaim" or even "bi'shmonah einaim". I like other people. I get bored of myself after a while.....

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

Love and blessings,

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Words From The Temple

"Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it." Bill Cosby

Sweetest and most beloved friends! Bill Cosby studied at Temple University. Listen to a man who spent a few years in Temple. HOLY!!

[He is also my personal M.D. - Dr. Huxtable. Every time I complain about an ache or pain he tells me to blog one of my [in]famous puns.]

Smile and find the bright side of life. There is going to be a very amusing ending.

"Az yimalei SCHOK pinu" - At the end of days our mouths are going to be completely filled with laughter. We will then realize that we were so mistaken about life. It was soooooooooooo good. Boy will we rejoice. Let us start the process now!

Redemption begins with a sense of renewal. That is why before Hashem took us out of Egypt, He gave us the mitzva of sanctifying the new moon. That moon which just recently disappeared but now once agains shines brightly. There is always hope. There is always a chance for a better tomorrow. We can make it happen, together with our partner in life - The Almighty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chodesh tov and boundless simcha to my Tyere [precious] Yidden!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Why? - Answer

There is a principle that I heard once from the Tolna Rebbe Shlita and also saw in the writings of the Rogochover Gaon in a different context, but it could be applied to our question as well.

Most mitzvos HAVE a shiur. For example, there is a mitzva to eat matza on Pesach and the shiur is a kezais. However, there are some mitzvos where the shiur IS the mitzva. The shiur DEFINES the mitzva. Without a shiur there is no mitzva to talk of.

In the former instance we can consider whether or not "chatzi shiur mitzva". In the latter case where the shiur IS the mitzva, in the absence of a complete shiur everybody would agree that there is no fulfillment at all, not even a partial one.

The Sefer Avnei Chen suggests that with respect to the chavitin of the kohen gadol the shiur of issaron IS the mitzva. That is why there is no reason to bring it if the kohen has only a half of an issaron.

Subtle difference - major ramifications.

WHY? And Noah Feldman

I found out who didn't like the blog. It was Noah Feldman!! Yes, he of the Korean wife and Gentile children who complained about being cropped out of the Maimonidies alumni picture. He knows how stridently opposed I am to intermarriage so he spread the word that my blog is "pasul".

Well, at least he didn't attack me in the New York Times.


I MADE THAT UP. I THOUGHT A LITTLE SENSATIONALISM WOULD LIVEN THINGS UP HERE AT ALLEYWAYS. The true "tzaddik" has not yet come forward but I was assured by the Rosh Yeshiva Shlita that although I may no longer teach in the Yeshiva, I may clean the bathrooms and receive ONLY 40 percent below the minimum wage for the privilege!


[I know that you know that I am joking but there is always that one person who doesn't know me and will take me seriously.]

Seriously now: We know that the Kohen Gadol had to bring a complete issaron [an amount] of flour every day as a korban called a "minchas chavitin". Half an issaron was brought in the morning and the second half of the issaron was brought in the afternoon. The Minchas Chinuch asked what the halacha would be if all the Kohen Gadol had available was a HALF of an issaron of flour. Is he still allowed to bring the chavitin?

Apparently, the answer would depend on a famous argument in the Ahachronim. Everybody agrees that one is not allowed to do an aveirah even with less than the required shuir. It is forbidden, for example, to eat less than a kezais of unkosher food [even though there would be no lashes incurred]. What about doing a mitzva with less than a shiur. For example, if one has less than a kezais of matza on pesach should he still eat it even thought he has less than the required amount. This is called "chatzi shiur mitzva". Of course he would not be fulfilling the mitzva in the ideal way, nevertheless he would have half a mitzva, which is better than nothing. Some Acharonim say that there is a concept of "chatzi shiur mitzva" and others argue that chazti shiur applies only to aveiros and not to mitzvos.

Our argument would depend on the two opinions. If there is a concept of "chatzi shiur mitzva" he should bring the chavitin even though he only has a half of an issaron and if there is no such concept then the kohen should not bring it. So said the Pardes Yoseph.

However the Minchas Chinuch [136/10] seems to say that even according to the opinions that maintain that there normally is a concept of chatzi shiur mitzva, this mitzva is different and the kohen should NOT bring this deficient offering.

That compels us to cry out - WHY??? Why can we not say chatzi shiur mitzva with respect to the chavitin.

This is no joke!!!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hashem Is Truly Everywhere

Many people relegate G-d to the shuls and batei midrash but when it comes to "real life" such as business G-d has no place. That explains how SOME people who daven three times a day and set aside time for learning are ethically corrupt. Their awareness of G-d's presence is limited to certain places. But the truth is that G-d is everywhere and our obligation to be aware of his presence is constant.

That is what we mean we we bless the new month by saying "chaim sheyesh bahem yiras chet", we desire that our LIVES should be filled with fear of sin. ["Yirah", explains Reb Tzaddok, comes from the word "ri'iyah - seeing. To fear G-d is to see him i.e. be aware of His presence]. Our "LIVES" is referring to the gemara in Yoma [71a] "Es'haleich lifnei Hashem bi'artzos hachaim [Tehillim 116/9], amar Rav Yehudah zeh makom shevakim" - I will walk before Hashem in the land of the LIVING, this means the marketplace!

Torah is not just about "ritual" G-d forbid, but rather encompasses every area of life.

[Based on Rav Kook's Ayn Ayah Brachos Vol. 1 Page 79]

A sweet month filled with simcha, wealth, honor, love of Torah, fear of heaven, rainfall, good health and the complete redemption to us all!!

Love and blessings,

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Friday, January 04, 2008

There Is More To It Than You Think

I am about to turn off my computer until after Shabbos but I could not resist presenting a question for everyone to think about and research over Shabbos [I don't promise to write an answer as many, many have been offered].

At the beginning of the Parsha, Hashem tells Moshe that "I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov". On the words "I appeared" Rashi writes an astounding chiddush! I appeared - to "the avos". In other words Rashi is saying that Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov are our forefathers!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow! I didn't know that - until I turned three.

Rashi's works are studied more than any other Rabbi in Jewish History. Nobody learns Chumash or Gemara without Rashi. There must be something that he is telling us here. He didn't have time to waste by writing the obvious.

Let us find the hidden teaching.

Love, blessings and an awesome Shabbos to my most beloved friends!!

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

No More Waiting For The Number 1 Bus - Continuation

Before we get to the problem with the Minchas Chinuch ["MC"] it is worth mentioning a chiddush of the Beis Yitzchak [Rav Yitzchak Shmelkes]. The mishna in Horiyos says that if a Kohen Gadol Am Ha'aretz and a Mamzer Talmid Chacham are eating together - we honor the Mamzer and [for example] serve him first. However, in Avos Di'Rebbi Nosson it says that a Mamzer is not allowed to enter Yerushalayim. So how can the Mamzer and Kohen Gadol ever be together? The Kohen Gadol is not allowed to leave Yerushalayim and a Mamzer is not allowed to enter??

Based on the MC the Beis Yitzchak resolved the problem. If some sort of ones occurred and the Kohen Gadol didn't bring his flour offering that day then there would be no problem if he left Yerushalayim. That is how he could theoretically encouter a Mamzer.

The problem with the explanation of the MC is that a careful reading of the Rambam that I mentioned [Bikkurim 3/14] will reveal that on the day that a person brings a korban he may not RETURN HOME but rather must sleep over in Yerushalayim. But if he wishes to leave for a few hours [to go to the mall in Mevasseret?] there would be no halachic problem. So we still have no source that teaches that a Kohen Gadol may not leave Yerushalayim at all. Saying that the fact that he brings a daily korban prevents him from leaving doesn't help us because that would not explain why he is not permitted to leave at all, it only explains why he must sleep over.

So we are stuck.

[Heard from the Tolna Rebbe Shlita. There are more resolutions offered but maybe for next time.]

Thursday, January 03, 2008

No More Waiting For The Number 1 Bus!

This post should be a zchus for Zev Eliezer ben Chaya Sheindel, a young boy who is very sick and desperately in need of a yeshuah.

Do you absolutely LOVE the Old City of Jerusalem? Yes? Then I have a job for you.

Kohen Gadol. [If your father is not a kohen or if when you were born the doctor proclaimed "It's a girl" that might be a problem.]

The Rambam [klei hamikdash 5/7] says that the Kohen Gadol is never allowed to leave the confines of the Old City. Many a torah scholar has lost sleep over that one. Where did he get that from? Nowhere in Chazal is such a halacha mentioned.

The Minchas Chinuch [136] offers a brilliant resolution to this vexing problem. The Torah [see Vayikra 6/13 and Menachos 50b] teaches that a Kohen Gadol must bring a flour offering every day, half in the morning and the second half in the afternoon. Now, the gemara in Succah [47] says that a person who brings a korban must remain overnight in Jerusalem and so rules the Rambam [Bikkurim 3/14].

Problem solved! Since the Kohen Gadol brings a korban every day we understand why he may not leave Jerusalem. Just like anybody else who brings a korban may not leave that night, so too the Kohen Gadol may NEVER leave because he brings a korban every day.


But alas, as they say in the yeshivos, it is not so pashut. This Minchas Chinuch is very problematic. Why?

I will let you think about it and with the help of The Rock of Israel and its Redeemer I will continue in the next post.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Anybody But Me!

This is a 850,000 dollar Ramban. I would say a "million dollar Ramban" but somehow 850,000 dollars seems like more.

Hashem wants to appoint Moshe as leader of the Jewish people to perform miracles and take them out of Egypt. Moshe argues and says "No, not me!" Can you imagine if someone was elected President of the United States and he refuses "I am not worthy". Usually, politicians spend a very long period of time trying to convince people how GREAT they are and of course how lousy their opponent is. Moshe did just the opposite.

So Rav Moshe, who IS worthy of leading the Jewish people in your HUMBLE opinion? "Shlach na bi'yad tishlach" [4/13] - Send whomever you will send, Moshe suggests to the Creator of all things. To whom is Moshe referring? Many answers were offered by our Sages . Some say he means his brother Aharon. Others weigh in with Pinchas, Eliyahu or Angels.

The Ramban says differently: "Hashem" said Moshe Rabbeinu, "there is no person on the planet earth who is not more worthy than I am! You can send literally ANYBODY. Everybody is more fitting for the job."

Woweeeeee! He wasn't kidding. He was not a kidder. He really meant it! When he met a person he genuinely thought that this person is greater than he. Every PERSON!!!

What a powerful lesson. If you internalize this message then two things [at least] will result.

1] Everyone will like you. People like those whom they feel admire them.

2] You will emulate the ways of Moshe Rabbeinu making you an even bigger tzaddik/tzaddekes than you already are.

Let us pray for such humble politicians in our midst. Closer to home, let us pray that we can reach such heights ourselves.

One of the two questions that we are asked on the day of judgement is "Did you make your friend king over you?" [quoted by the Reishis Chochma]. I hope that we can all answer in the affirmative.

Love and blessings,

Elchanan ben Henna Miriam

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hunger As Atonement - It Really Works

Many people fast during Shovavim [see previous post]. Some people fast EVERY SINGLE DAY! This should only be done if you are physically and emotionally healthy. Others fast for selected days. If one chooses to fast then during mincha of the previous day before taking three steps back he should say that he is accepting upon himself the fast [see Rema 562/6]. Rav Yisrael Yaakov Fischer [Even Yisrael 7/24] pointed out that one should not say "bli neder". If one does so then it doesn't count. But see also Tshuvos Vi'hanhagos 2/255.

There are also special selichos that people recite. Some shuls say them on selected days.

The kabbalists teach that for one "shichvas zera livatala" a person must fast 84 times [!!]. Of course I don't expect that most people will do this but it illustrates the gravity of the sin.

An irony: It is the people who are most careful in the area of their bris who are usually the ones fasting. Those who are not [and are the ones who really need it] do not. A similar phenomenom I find on Yom Kippur - it is usually the people with the fewest sins who are crying the most. The people who are FILLED with sin are usually quite relaxed and at ease.

A freilichin Shovavim!

Be Holy - This Is The Time

Sometimes a boy will tell me that he is planning to attend the University of .... "But don't worry," I am assured, "there is a Hillel house on campus and an active Orthodox community."

But wait, I want to ask, IS THE ATMOSPHERE THERE HOLY?? Of course I don't ask. I don't like to put people on the spot and make them feel uncomfortable. Plus, I generally assume that people don't quite place the value of holiness on the top of their list of priorities.

But WE CAN BE HOLY! "Kidoshim Tihiyu" - You have the ability and the obligation to be holy. What does it mean to be holy? In order to answer that question I would need not a post on a blog but a full length book of 1000 pages - and that would only scratch the surface. So for now I will suffice with Rashi's definition [Vayikra 19/2]: To be pure in sexual matters. If you are male that means you may not see a women anything but fully clothed [mixed swimming is permitted if it means Ashkenazim and Sefardim together but certainly not men and women. If somebody has a source proving otherwise I would love to see it because I have proof that it is biblically prohibited], your thoughts must remain completely clean, your desires must be for Torah and prayer, your social interactions should be limited and formal etc. etc. The great kabbalist Rav Eliashiv [grandfather of the present Rav Eliashiv shlita] said that there is not enough soap in the world to clean up the filth created by ONE illicit thought. Even if one is married he must still be vigilant in the area of holiness by always having pure intentions when intimate with his wife. I would go more into detail but I am afraid that an in depth discussion would cause alleyways to become very popular.... I am looking more for purity than popularity. This is not the forum for such a discussion. [In the Women and Marriage section there are 2 shiurim from Reb Tzaddok on this topic.]

For a woman holiness means modesty in dress, demeanor, speech etc. She must always be aware that while her mind is not in the gutter, the fellow who sees her on the street is [very likely] a permanent dweller in that venue. Some woman have a hard time believing this. Men don't.

In our world where we are inundated with explicit material in almost every magazine, [one notable exception is "Olameinu". Is Olameinu still around? If so then Mendel the Mouse is second to none.] newspaper, television show, movie, internet site etc. how is it possible to remain pure and holy? You can't even walk down the street without seeing something inappropriate [except if you live in New Square or Meah Shearim].

Answer: Teshuva - Repentance! [So fitting for a New Years post]. The period of time from Shabbos Parshas Shemos until Parshas Tetzave is called "Shovavim Tat" [an acronymn for the Parshiyos. In a leap year Terumah and Tetzaveh are added.]. A special opportunity to rectify all of our sins in this area. YAY!!!! There is hope after all! "Ain yeush bi'olam klal" - No room for despair.

O.K. So what do people do for Shovavim?

More to come in the next post bez"h.

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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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