Friday, February 29, 2008


Chesed opportunity: If you know of a religious male who would be willing to spend two weeks at the Dead Sea with an autistic man who desperately needs skin treatment, please call me a 02-6289-148.

Thank you

United We Stand

I recently heard about a terrible divorce battle between a dentist and his manicurist wife.

They fought tooth and nail.

Ba Dam Chhhhhhhhhhhhh!

At the beginning of this weeks parsha we read that Moshe "gathered" [Vayakhel] the Jewish people. Rashi teaches us that this occurred on the day FOLLOWING Yom Kippur.

A Chassidic Rebbe once remarked that the Torah is teaching us that we shouldn't be united only on Yom Kippur but even AFTER Yom Kippur....

Let's UNITE! We are one!! One with the tzadikim in Sderot. But also one with the tzadikim in Bnei Brak, Teaneck, Efrat, New Square, Manhattan and everywhere else.

Vi'ameich kooooooooooooooolum Tzadikim. All Jews are tzadikim.

Yes, even you.

Good Shabbos my sweetest Tzadikim!!!!!!!

Love to all!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nobody Said That It Would Be Easy

It has been noted that a person sees more inappropriate things during the course of a fifteen minute stroll in Manhattan than a Jew saw in his Polish shtetl in seventy years. In two minutes on the computer the same feat is accomplished. Scary!

The foundation of our holiness is predicated upon "Shmirat Habrit" - guarding our holy covenant with G-d by being vigilant that we shouldn't see, hear, say or do anything immodest or impure. Many of us live in the USA known in hebrew as "Artzot haBrit" - The Land Of The Brit. That is a misnomer. It should be known as "Artzot Bli Brit".... Of course living in our global village the USA has spiritually invaded Israel. Today there is no "Busha" - Shame [soon there will be no "Bush" either. Go Reagan, go!]. Anything goes. We are a little bit [understatement?] desensitized but that should not prevent us for striving for purity.

Many young men are struggling with this issue [so are many middle aged and old men as well]. The struggle with the yetzer hara is nothing new but the bombardment with sexually explicit material at every turn is a modern innovation. Try reading ANY magazine or watching ANY movie or TV show without seeing female flesh [and much much more]. Better! Don't try. You won't find any. [Excluding the Jewish Observer, Jewish Action and other Orthodox publications.]

What should we do?

1] If you heave your computer into the Hudson River it is not the end of the world.
[Unless you hit a fish in the head in which case it will be the end of the world for him...]

2] If you need your computer then subscribe to a Kosher internet service or use this new service I heard about that sends your friends a list of all of the sites you visited. Others suggest to use your computer only in the presence of others. No Yichud.

3] Focus on learning, chessed, tefilla and exercise. Make sure that you don't have five free minutes in your schedule to see anything inappropriate. KEEP BUSY!!!

4] Get married. It is healthy. Good. Otherwise - "Not Good"! So sayeth the Lord.

5] Find someone in whom to confide. [You may call me if you like. I am not important, so I am not "too busy".]



Assur li'hityaesh - you must never give up hope. We all stumble. In order to become great you MUST stumble. Hashem still loves you so don't stop loving yourself.

I have a lot to say on the topic but "Yishma chacham vi'yosif lekach" - I will let the wise reader use his own G-d given mind to think of more ways to pass the myriad of tests that we ALL face daily.

Love and blessings!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Going Overboard - Answer

Everybody should wait for Mikey to be revived and only continue reading afterwards because the people reviving Mikey are essentially the agents of the congregation. This is similar to the halacha [M.B. 284/12] that states that we don't start reading the haftora until the gelila is completed so that the magbiah and golel can listen. [Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein]

One can possibly argue that the two cases cannot be compared. In the Haftora case, hagba and gelila are part of the structure of davening and the whole congregation has an interest and obligation that the Sefer Torah be neatly rolled up and covered. Therefore they must wait. In the Megilla case however Mikey is being attended to by the Hatzala people and the congregation is not necessarily obligated to wait. Tircha ditzibura is a serious issue. Maybe it would depend on whether there is another place that Mikey would be able to hear the Megilla reading afterwards. Of course the people may choose to be nice and wait but it may not be obligatory to do so. If Mikey is brought to the hospital then the people definitely don't have to wait.

If we follow R. Zilberstein's ruling and kindly wait until Mikey comes back to his senses it is forbidden to talk in the interim. The best thing to do is learn the Megillah and its commentaries quietly. [See Igros Moshe 1/192 and Chashukei Chemed Megilla Page 229]

Moral of the story: It is better not to faint if only to avoid halachic questions....

Love, blessings and good health to all of my sweet friends!!

Amazin' Aleph!!

The letter "Aleph" symbolizes Hashem. It is the first letter of the alphabet and Hashem is One and the root and beginning of everything. Chazal say that Aleph alludes to "Alupho Shel Olam" - The Chief Of The World. Aleph is also the letters of "Pele" - Wonder. G-d is truly wondrous.

The unity is expressed in the gematria of aleph - 1. Also, if you spell out aleph you get aleph, lamed, pheh. Aleph = 1, Lamed = 30, Pheh = 80, 1=30=80= 111!! More ones!

The Aleph is composed of one long line [a vav] and two short lines [yuds]. Vav = 6, Yud = 10, Yud = 10 = 26. What is the gematria of Hashem's special name Yud - Heh - Vav - Heh? 26! Even the form of the letter alludes to Hashem.

Hashem says in the pasuk "Ani rishon v'ani acharon" - I am first and I am last. This is expressed in the letter Aleph. The gematria of Aleph is one. "I am first". Now, there are 27 letters in the alphabet. 22 regular letters and five end letters [otiot sofiot]. The gematria of yud is 10, kuf - 100, reish - 200, shin - 300, tuf - 400, mem sofit - 500, nun sofit - 600, tzadi sofit - 700, pey sofit - 800, chuf sofit - 900. Now you come around to the beginning and start with Aleph which equals 1000. 1000 is the largest number with a proper name in The Holy Tongue [10,000 is called "revava" which just means a lot. A million is only a word in modern hebrew taken from english]. What is 1000 in Hebrew? ELEPH!!! "I am first and I am last" - The first number and the last number.

Ya'akov Avinu was a man of truth [Titeyn EMES Li'Yaakov]. That is why he never died [see Ta'anis 5]. Truth is the name of Hashem and one who is connected to truth never dies. Hashem is called Elokim Chaim - The living G-d. "Vi'atem Hadveikeem Bashem Elokeichem Chaim Kulchem Hayom" - You are living today because you are clinging to G-d. The gemara in Sanhedrin [97] tells about a place where everybody told the truth and NOBODY died. Truth is life.

A dead person is called a meis. How do we prevent death? Very simple! Put Hashem's Aleph into the equation. Add an aleph to meis and what do you get? Emes!!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Going Overboard

Mikey really likes to have a good time! On Purim he goes all out. One year Mikey had such a good time that he went a little too far and fainted - right in the middle of Megillah reading!!

The question is, does the congregation have to wait for him until he is revived? If they do, then for how long? Also, what should they do when they are waiting?

More to come....


A student of Rav Shach's once approached him and said "My wife had a daughter and this Shabbos I am making a Kiddush'l" [small insignificant Kiddush]. Rav Shach answered sharply "If you would have waited 10 years for a baby would you also tell me that you are making a Kiddush'l?!"

Rav Shach was trying to convey to his student that we must appreciate Hashem's gifts and not to make light of them. Twelve years ago today my first child Gila was born and I don't want to be guilty of ingratitude. So I want to publicly thank Hashem for the miracle that is the creation of a new human being and for allowing me the exquisite pleasure of fatherhood. It is the source of limitless pleasure.

I want to bless all of my sweet friends that you should all have many healthy happy children and merit many good long years to watch them grow and flourish!

Love and blessings to all and particularly to the apple of my eye, Gila Shoshana - the Bas Mitzva girl!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Essence Of Our Being

The first mishna in Bava Kamma calls a human being "mahveh" which means one who davens, a "davener". The essence of man [and woman] is that he is one who prays. In fact, the mekubalim teach that our neshamos are constantly davening [see Rav Kook's essay "Haneshama Tamid Mitpalelet"].

Hebrew letters may be spelled out. If we take the word "Adam" [man] Aleph, Dalet, Mem, and spell out each letter we will find something fascinating. "Aleph" is spelled aleph, lamed, pheyh. What is the pnimius, the depth, the hidden part of the aleph? Lamed, pheyh [the aleph doesn't count because it is visible]. Next. Dalet is spelled dalet, lamed, tuf. The pnimius, the depth of the dalet is lamed, tuf. The last letter is mem which is spelled mem, mem. What is the hidden part? Mem.

If we take the hidden part of Adam we get lamed, pheyh, lamed, tuf, mem. That spells "Mitpalel" [Daven]. Yes indeed, the pnimius of man, the deepest part of man, is prayer. That is who we are. Now we just have to learn how to do it.... It is NOT easy!

Pil'ei Pla'os - Wonder of wonders!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Monkey Torah

Just a thought. If McCAIN would be running against McAbel would history repeat itself and McCain would "kill" McAbel in the election?

Anyway, I always encourage people to be independent and not to follow the masses in their mindless pursuits. In other words, not to be monkeys "Monkey see monkey do".

Which brings me to the following question: May one send a monkey with mishloach manos to give to his friend on Purim. You know some monkeys are capable of being trained and we can teach them to deliver packages!

Believe it or not the Chasam Sofer in his commentary to Masseches Gittin [22] addresses this issue. He establishes a principle: If the Torah requires that the person himself perform the act [such as marriage or divorce] then in the event that he appoints an agent in his place, this agent must fulfill all of the requirements of a valid agent [such as being human]. But if the Torah explicitly says that an agent may perform the act, then any agent [such as a non-jew and l'havdil a monkey] is valid. The Megillah calls the food we send to our friends "MISHLOACH manos" and thus some authorities understand that the ideal way to send it is with an agent [shaliach] and not personally. It would emerge then that one may send mishloach manos with a monkey since the usual requirements of agency do not apply.

This is based on the understanding of the Chasam Sofer. But everyone would agree that if YOU are wearing a monkey costume you may still deliver mishloach manos....

Suggestion: Put a banana in the mishloach manos basket.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What Is Shabbos Doing Here?

Right in the middle of Parshas Ki Tisa the Torah starts talking about Shabbos. What is it doing there totally out of context [ this is especially difficult considering the fact that the Torah tells us about Shabbos numerous times]? Rashi says that it teaches us that one should not build the Mishkan on Shabbos. But at the beginning of Vayakhel the Torah talks about Shabbos and Rashi says the same thing - that it teaches us that the building of the Mishkan does not override Shabbos?! Why do we need to learn this lesson twice?

I have no answer. Do you??

Good Shabbos!!!!!!!

Love and blessings to all!

The Root Of All Evil

How did the Jewish people fall so low, make a golden calf and proclaim "These are your Gods O Israel"??

Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel [32/1] says that the problem was that they became excessively proud. As my ninth grade rebbe Rabbi Kerner used to say "Gaivah is the root of all evil." Haughtiness. Conceit. OY VEY!!!!!!!

I think that part of the problem was that Moshe was absent. Moshe was the epitome of humility. Since he was "out of town" [or better "out of this world"] the Jews fell into haughtiness.

The antidote: Always keep your Holy Rebbe and his ideals in your heart so that even in his absence you remain connected. That was what saved Yoseph from succumbing to the seduction of Potifar's wife. That is what will save us from our greatest nemesis - our yetzer hara.

[See the Sefer Zikaron of Rav Dessler, page 314]

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

Mortality Strikes - Continuation

Yesterday I quoted a psak from a Torah Luminary that when a ba'al koreh read the Megillah on Friday [when Purim is on Shabbos] and subsequently died on the same day everybody who heard him read must hear the reading again.

Originally, I understood that his reasoning was that the persons reading was hanging in limbo until Shabbos at which time he fulfilled his obligation. [This would be akin to giving a women money and saying that the marriage should take effect tomorrow.] Since he died before the morrow came, he and everybody else do not fulfill their obligations. Based on this understanding I was ready to bombard him with questions.

But alas, upon further reflection I realized that I was mistaken. What I think he really meant was that since the whole obligation of reading Megillah stems from Shabbos and the reader was dead on Shabbos, it emerges that he was never obligated in the first place. Not that the reading was originally a valid reading and was retroactively uprooted but that [we realized retroactively] it wasn't a valid reading in the first place.

This would seem to depend on the following chakirah: How do we view the obligation of reading the megillah when it is pushed back from Shabbos to Friday. Is it a LATER Rabbinic decree that transfers the day from Shabbos to Friday but as far as the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah [who are responsible for the original decree to read the Megillah] are concerned the correct day remains Shabbos and Friday is just a makeup day. Or do we say that the original decree of the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah was to push it back to Friday. If we say the former then the reader must remain alive until Shabbos because that is the locus of the primary obligation. If we say the latter then it doesn't matter what happens after the reading on Friday - everyone was yotzei.

Moral of the story - Eat healthy, exercise a lot, focus on spirituality and live a long life.

The Har Tzvi analyzes this chakirah in his second volume. I love the Har Tzvi!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mortality Strikes

We all know that if Purim falls out [I don't know about "falling out" but I know a lot of people who FALL DOWN on Purim] on Shabbos we read the Megilla on Friday instead of Shabbos [we are concerned lest someone carry the Megilla on Shabbos].

The following episode occurred some years ago: A man read the Megilla on Friday for the congregation. Everything was GREAT. La'yihudim hayisa orah vi'simcha vi'sasson veekar. Gevaldik!

Then that same day the ba'al koreh died. Sure put a damper on the simcha. Anyway I am sorry for sharing with you such a sad story but I wanted to discuss a halacha.

One of the luminaries of the previous generation ruled that everyone who heard the Megilla must hear it again. Since the reading took place on Friday in place of Shabbos, and on Shabbos the reader [who had read on everyone's behalf] was unable to fulfill his obligation [because he was no longer alive] the people for whom he read similarly do not fulfill their obligations. In Yeshivish "If the Motzi himself wasn't yotzei then the people he was being motzi are also not yotzei." This was strictly speaking a Shabbos reading done on Friday, if on Shabbos the reader was not fulfilling his obligation then everyone who was dependent on him was also not fulfilling his obligation.

I must say that have I given this psak much thought and have serious issues with it.
I will let you think about it.

More to come bli neder.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Purim Katan!!

Today [the 14th of Adar and tomorrow as well] is a big simcha for klal yisrael. We don't say Tachanun!!!!!!

He he he!!!!! [See a previous post of mine lamenting the fact that so many Jews dislike Tachanun.]

The real reason is that it is Purim Katan. The Rema [697] says that on the 14th of Adar Rishon some have a custom to have a sumptuous meal and to rejoice. The Ksav Sofer [Parshas Tetzaveh] adds that since we give mishloach manos in order to enhance the meal it would follow that one who has a special meal on Purim Katan should also send mishloach manos.

However the Ran on Megillah [3b midapei haRif] explicitly writes that mishloach manos is only in Adar Sheni.

If you are a 15th of Adar Jew [if you live for example in Yerushalayim] then apparently the day to rejoice is the 15th of Adar Rishon, just as you will do in Adar Sheni.

Please Daven!

Please daven for the Holy Tusher Rebbe Meshulem Feivesh ben Tzirel for a refuah shleimah.

Hopefully G-d's Mouthpiece

I have been told by my superior that I must write the following:


Once we are on the topic I would like to add that I also do not represent the views of Manhattan Day School, Yeshiva University High School, Mesivta Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, Yeshivas Beis Yisrael, Yeshivat Hakotel, Camp Lavi, Camp Morasha, Lincoln Square Synagogue, Rabbi Besser's shtiebel, the Miami Dolphins, New York Knicks, New York Mets, New York Rangers or any other institution or organization with whom I have or have not been affiliated - including Yale Divinity School [that is in the "not been affiliated" category].

I am making a modest attempt to reflect the views of G-D, The Master Of The Universe, based on my understanding of His Torah with much help from our Sages past and present.

I pray that I am successful. If I am in error about any issue I urge you to set me straight.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Tale Of Two Rings - Answer

If the couple has not yet had children there is an opinion that permits them to marry on Shabbos. Also, even if it is prohibited, since this is an embarrassing situation they may transgress a Rabbinic prohibition according to the rule "gadol kavod habriyos" [see brachos 19].

So in our case they may privately get married and the sheva brachos may go on.

However, if this would have happened on Yom Tov then there apparently would be no permission to get married. The prohibition against getting married is biblical "ain mi'arvin simcha bi'simcha" - We may not have a wedding on Yom Tov. [See Moed Katan 9a] There is no way around the biblical prohibition.

But that is not so simple either. Some maintain that the prohibition is only rabbinic and the heter is thus reinstated. And some say that it is biblical only if the wedding meal takes place on Yom Tov but without a wedding meal it would only be rabbinically prohibited. [See Talmudic Encyclopedia Vol. 1 Page 672]

Problem solved. WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chosson - don't get angry at your sister! Mistakes happen. We are only human....

A Tale Of Two Rings

True story that happened last week. A very fine young man from a good family married a wonderful young woman from a similarly prominent family. The wedding was joyous, the food was plentiful and the dancing was lively. "Invei hagefen bi'invei hagefen." A match made in heaven!

The Shabbos after the wedding a large sheva brachos was made. Many, many people attended. The chassans sister put her hand in her pocket and then realized .... OH NO!! What happened was that the chosson [her brother] had given her the ring to hold on to until the chuppah. Then she was to hand it to him. The problem is that she had another ring in her pocket also and accidentally handed him this ring. This ring belonged to a different woman!! She now found her brothers ring causing her to realize that she had handed him the wrong one.

We know that the ring must belong to the chosson - otherwise the marriage is not valid. In this case the ring belonged to someone else. They are not married. What now???

So if it was during the week there is a simple solution. Bring two witnesses and have the chosson marry the kallah privately and the sheva brachos may continue. But now is Shabbos. On Shabbos one may not marry a woman. This is Rabbinically prohibited [for it is similar to a business transaction].

So everybody came to the sheva brachos celebration and it turns out that we can't make brachos because the couple is not married. This is SOOOOOOOOO embarrassing. What can we do to save this couple and keep this faux pas under wraps???

Monday, February 18, 2008

Remove The Mechitza For Once And For All!

I am against the mechitza! I think it is bad for both the men and the women. It should be removed!!! Sorry for disappointing you.

Let me explain: Hashem is everywhere. In Israel, in New York [even in Times Square!], in Manchester and in Switzerland. Everywhere. He doesn't exist more in one place than in another. So why is Israel considered holier than any other place in the world? Why is Yerushalayim the holiest place in Israel? Holiness is defined as the presence of Hashem, so every place should be equally holy?

The answer is that there are barriers - mechitzas - between us and Hashem. Outside of Israel there are more barriers, in a shul and beis medrash there are fewer barriers. In Israel some of the barriers fall and in Yerushalayim even more. Once the barriers are removed Hashem becomes more manifest to us human beings. He is most manifest in the Beis Hamikdash.

The same applies to time. Hashem exists all week long but those with sensitive spiritual antennas can sense His Presence more on Shabbos.

When we purify ourselves some of the barriers are removed and no matter where we are Hashem becomes more manifest. So our job in this world is to try to remove all of the mechitzas that separate between us and Hashem.

The word "mitzva" comes from the word "tzavta" - togetherness. By doing a mitzva we become united with Hashem. A sin ["chayt" means to miss the mark] accomplishes the opposite.

So let us remove the mechitza and make sure that Hashem is no longer sitting on the other side.

Love to all!

[Based on the teachings of Rav Volbe.]

Parental Delivery - Answer

Dear Sheyna Tachpoises,

I am very impressed with your sensitivity towards the mitzva of honoring parents. Indeed the gemara [kiddushin 45b] says that it is CHUTZPAH to send a parent as a messenger. You should do everything in your power to make sure that you are serving them and not the other way around. However if your parent OFFERS and you see that they really want to do something for you, you may let them. So what I would do in your case is mention in your fathers presence that you need to deliver the Mishloach Manos to your friend Rochi and if he offers to do it himself you may accept his offer. [See Chashukei Chemed Megillah page 221, Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Vol. 1 Page 497.]

By the way, I love your name. It means "Pretty Costume". Were you born on Purim??

Love and blessings!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Pooooor David!!! He was in the desert and his throat was parched!! He needed water more than anything. Dehydration was quickly ravaging his body. The sun was beating down mercilessly. Under these conditions we understand how the average person might very well become obsessed. David was. He was longing and pining to quench his thirst.

For G-d.

"A psalm by David when he was in the desert of Judah. O G-d, You are my G-d, I seek you. For You my soul thirsts, longs for You does my flesh. In a land parched and weary no water." [Tehillim 63/1-2]

Most people would only be interested in water under such circumstances but not King David. He was infatuated with G-d to the same degree as others would be with liquid. To the extent that you desire G-d you will see Him.

"So too [proportional to the depths of desire to see Him, you will] in the Sanctuary to have beheld You, to see Your glory and might." [63/3]

Friday, February 15, 2008

Parental Delivery

Dear Alleyways,

Thank you for answering my brother Moishe's question. I have a question also. Is it permitted for me to send Mishloach Manos with my father in order to deliver it to my friend Rochi [she lives right near the shul he goes to so it is not out of his way]? On one hand it is a mitzva but on the other hand maybe it is a breach in the honor of my father to use him as a delivery man.

Sheyna Tachpoises 11 years old

Answer to come......

Jewish Fashion

Should a Torah Scholar and teacher dress like everybody else? Why not? What really matters is how much he knows, how he conducts himself, his level of fear of heaven, his vigilance in keeping halacha etc. etc. Clothing is merely external. That is not what really matters!

Mistake! Clothing DOES matter. A Torah Scholar should dress the part. Clothing influences the way we feel about ourselves and the way others view us. In Parshas Tetzaveh the Torah tells us that the kohanim had special clothing "Li'kavod U'litifares" - for honor and glory. Clothing honors the wearer. "Honor" means an external demonstration of a persons deeper value. This applies not only to the Kohanim but to Torah Scholars as well. [See Sforno 28/2] So while the most important thing is ones internal spiritual level, clothing still plays an important role. So it shouldn't be overemphasized but also shouldn't be deemphasized. A person must find a balance.

Not only Torah Scholars. Anybody who represents Torah and upholds its values [male and female] should similarly make sure to dress appropriately. Clean, neat and dignified.

Black and white? No comment at this time......


NOTE: For a certain reason I am removing all of the old posts from the blog. New ones will continue to appear with G-d's help.

Also for reasons known only to the Great Programmer In The Sky I have been unable to post new shiurim on the blog. In the meantime they can be heard on Click advanced search and then go to the list of speakers and click my name [if you want to hear me. If you want to hear someone else, click him. As far as I am concerned there are many great people on that site].

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Spiderman On Shabbos - Answer

Dear Moishe,

Thank you for your question. Rav Moshe Feinstein was asked about a mother putting on her childs pajamas on Shabbos afternoon even though the child is not going to sleep until after Shabbos. He says that this is fine because a child likes to play in his pajamas before actually going to sleep [I do too!!]. So he is not only preparing for after Shabbos but also desires to be in his pajamas now.

In the same vein, if you enjoy walking around in your costume on Shabbos you may put it on even if you plan to wear it afterwards as well.

Love Me

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spiderman On Shabbos

Dear Alleyways,

I am so excited! This year we will celebrate a three day purim. My question is as follows: Since on Motzei Shabbos I will want to wear my costume [Spiderman!!!] may I put it on while it is still Shabbos or is it forbidden because I am preparing from Shabbos to the weekday?

Moishe Tachpoises, 7 and a half years old, Yerushalayim

Dear Moishe,

Thank you for your question. I will answer it soon im yirtzeh Hashem. You are very cute and sweet.

I Love You!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Alleyways Goes Political

There is so much excessive verbiage regarding the upcoming elections. Analysis of what has happened, predictions of what will happen and endless discussions about anything and everything. Bnei and Bnos Torah have no time for this. They are too busy raising families, earning a living, learning torah and doing mitzvos. But we still have to know who to vote for, so I will give my endorsement.

The woman. We have to vote for the woman. She has a proven track record, is honest, hardworking, sincere, a staunch supporter of Israel, a promoter of family values, brilliant and above all is someone with a heart of gold who will only do what is best for the country.

The President of the U.S.A. is the most powerful person in the world. That is why I feel that this position must be entrusted in the hands of a singularly great individual: My mother. I know her as "Mommy".

Mommy for President. She would be GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elchanan ben Hanesiah Henna Miriam

Monday, February 11, 2008

Masochism And Nedarim

The halacha is that a person can make a vow forbidding himself from deriving pleasure ["muder hana'a"] from another person. What would be the halacha in the following case: Mike is a masochist. Mike makes a vow forbidding himself from deriving pleasure from Dougie. One morning Mike feels like he really needs someone to put a football helmet on and to blindside him with a vicious hit. PAINFUL! OUCH! [Ya know, football is a VERY violent sport. 97.5 million people watched the violent event that took place last week. But we are used to the violence so we even get excited about a violent hit - provided of course that it is administered by our team against the opponent. What I can tell you for sure is that many, if not all, football players live their entire lives in pain. Some can barely walk after their careers are over. The gemara says that when a person is in pain, G-d's Shechina is also in pain. Just a thought.]

For anybody else this should not be a problem as far as the vow is concerned [of course it is generally forbidden to strike another human being]. But Mike is different. Mike turns all of his pain into pleasure. He is a masochist. Would it be permitted for Dougie to administer the hit? On one hand the hit itself is painful. On the other hand Mike will enjoy it because of his mental condition. So do we look at the actual hit [in which case it will be permitted] or at Mike's ultimate [sick] pleasure [in which case it will be forbidden].

Or what about a fellow who will be paid for undergoing pain. Do we focus on the actual pain or on the ultimate payment which is pleasurable. Same question.

The Rebbe Shlita raised this question ["kler" in the vernacular] and offered a BRILLIANT proof from the Minchas Chinuch mitzva 101 [on parshas Tetzaveh].

Can you figure it out. If you can, you too are brilliant.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Different Or The Same - Answer

Generally the mitzva ACT should be done with kavanna li'shem shomayim because the act itself is significant. Tzedaka might be different. What is important is that the poor man receives the money. The act of giving is only a means of achieving the goal of providing the man with his needs. In other words it is not the ACT that matters but the OUTCOME. Some authorities suggest that for this reason tzedaka requires no kavanna. Just make sure that the needy man gets the cash. That is what matters. Kavvana Shmavanna. [Not everybody holds this way so practically speaking you should have kavvana when you give tzedaka.]

That might be why the Torah teaches [according to Rashi] that one must nevertheless have kavvana when donating to the mishkan. [L'horos Nosson Parshas Terumah]

Shavua Tov, a Gut Voch and a great week to all of my sweetest friends!!!!!!

Friday, February 08, 2008

When Giving Is Taking

The parsha begins "TAKE for me a donation". It should have said [sorry for attempting to edit you G-d..] "GIVE to me a donation"?

The explanation is that when you are giving you are really taking.

Holy taking.

Next time you have the privilege of giving tzedaka, thank the receiver for the honor! He is doing more for you than you are doing for him.

Love to all!!!

Different Or The Same?

Rashi says at the beginning of this weeks parsha that when one makes a donation to the mishkan it should be done "for the sake of my name". Hey, EVERY MITZVA should be done for the sake of Hashem and not for ulterior motives so how is this mitzva different from any other mitzva? What is Rashi teaching us?

Good Shabbos sweetest friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

High There

High there!

If you are a parent you should know the following information. If you are an educator you should also be aware of this. If you are or have been a student in the last few years you already know. There is a very high percentage of drug use amongst students in Modern Orthodox Yeshiva High Schools in the New York, New Jersey area. I live in Yerushalayim but this is what I am told by many, many people. I have never heard anyone claim otherwise. If a boy goes to high school and does NOT use drugs he is in the MINORITY! I know that some will be angry at me for publicly airing the dirty laundry but this is so well known without me that I am saying nothing new. I write in order to ask the following question. IS ANYONE DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS EPIDEMIC? By the way, it doesn't necessarily stop when the student comes to Israel. Vi'hamaivin Yavin....

I don't have a solution to the problem. My expertise is giving tourists directions in the Old City ["Excuse me do you understand English?" "If you speak slowly." "How do you get to the Kotel?" "Sorry, never been there..."] not solving rampant drug use. But I have a thought. I have never met anybody who was deeply involved in learning Torah who was the slightest bit interested in drugs. The "high" one gets from thinking of a chiddush in Torah is far more exhilarating and meaningful than any foreign substance.

So I think that part of the answer is to give our youth deep spiritual experiences and then they won't have to graze in foreign pastures. But alas the message that our youth is getting is "Life is about having fun - just don't get caught if what you are doing is illegal. And don't take Judaism too seriously lest you end up like the son of Mr. So and So who [G-D save us] never went to college [a cardinal sin in the eyes of many] and is learning in some kollel in Israel. Parasite. Be like So and So who went to Harvard and is now earning six figures." I am feeling so nauseous quoting the popular rhetoric that I must end this post soon and thus prevent myself from vomiting.

If you think that my impression is wrong I would love to hear from you.

Peace and Brotherhood from the Highest and Holiest City!

Have A Good Time

Everything a person does in this world is for pleasure. We eat for pleasure, sleep for pleasure, work in order to make money so that we can have pleasure, we get married for pleasure and we even do mitzvos for pleasure. Either the pleasure of feeling we did the right thing and "pleased" G-d, or the pleasure of being rewarded, or the pleasure of not feeling guilty if we would have done the wrong thing, or the pleasure of the mitzva act itself such as eating on Shabbos or dancing at a wedding. [Rav Dessler in Michtav Méliyahu expands on this idea].

This is fitting because the whole purpose of creation is in order to have pleasure. So let's have fun and go wild! Who needs Torah??

MISTAKE! G-d told us that in order to maximize our pleasure we should keep the Torah.
So the Torah is a guidebook for pleasure. [Ramchal]

So when a man goes to a club on a Saturday night and his counterpart goes to the beis medrash they ARE BOTH LOOKING FOR A GOOD TIME. The difference is only whether the pleasure will be a physical one or spiritual one. Our job in this world is to educate ourselves and our children to enjoy spiritual pleasure. Anyone who has experienced both knows that there is no comparison between the two. Spiritual pleasure wins by a landslide. One caveat: It takes hard work to learn to appreciate spiritual pleasure. Appreciating physical pleasure, in contrast, can be accomplished even by a horse. However once you reach the level where your pleasure is of the spiritual type, your life will never be the same!!

Love and blessings to all!!!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Urgent Message

Anybody who is: blue, blue funk, bummed out, cast down, crestfallen, crummy, dejected, depressed, discouraged, despondent, destroyed, disconsolate, dispirited, down, downcast, downhearted, dragged, fed up, glum, grim, hurting, in pain, let down, low, low down, low-spirited, lugubrious [what? A.E.], melancholy, moody, morose, pessimistic, ripped, sad, spiritless, taken down, torn up, unhappy, woebegone [courtesy of] - you have ONE MORE DAY to "enjoy" yourself!!! Then it is all over. YOU MUST BE HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!

Adar is beginning. And that means SIMCHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meeshe meeshe meeshe.......

Becoming A Giant

Yesterday was the Super Bowl. I don't know who won but I know who I was rooting for.

The Dolphins.

Although I am no longer a football fan, growing up I was a die-hard Dolphins fan. So I still have feelings towards the "love of my youth."

Ahhhhh, you will tell me, "Sorry to break the news but the Fins didn't quite make it this year [that must mean that they lost the AFC championship game. Close call!] so that is not one of the choices."

Which brings me to my point: We all have free choice. Our service in this world is to reach a point where we would no longer even CONSIDER sinning. In fact, there are some sins for which we don't really have free choice. For example - murder. Nobody reading this would ever consider murdering another human being. Likewise, every sin should be as unthinkable as murder. Lashon Hara, anger, illicit thoughts, talking during davening etc. etc. should all be completely taboo. A sin should be as likely to occur as the Dolphins winning this years Super Bowl.

But that requires a GREAT DEAL of fear of heaven. And siyata dishmaya. If you reach that point you will truly be a "GIANT".

Good Luck!!

Love and blessings

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Holy Bodies

Recently I was reading about a Jew who was veeeery far from his roots. He requested that when he dies his body should be cremated and the ashes should be placed in his favorite cigar box. And so it was. In contrast, when a Torah observant Jew is buried complete respect is accorded to his corpse. There is a prohibition called "nivul hames" [defiling the corpse]. Even though the person is dead and [apparently] feels nothing we nevertheless treat him with dignity. Why??? He is DEAD? Forget about him! Cremate him and put him in his favorite cigar box!!

The answer is very fundamental. The Torah teaches that not only are our souls holy but our bodies are as well. Guf Kadosh!!! This sanctity does not leave even after death.

The gemara relates [Menachos 43] that King David was in the bathhouse and was concerned that since he wasn't wearing tefillin or tzitzis he wasn't doing any mitzvos. Then he remembered that he had a bris milah and he felt much better. EXCUSE ME! You are in the shower King David. What are you worrying about mitzvos for. This is not the time or place! Not only that, but the mitzva of circumcising was done looooong ago. It is over! What does it mean now?

Rav Shlomo Volbe explained [Da'as Shlomo page 303]: King David was bothered. Is my BODY holy. The answer is - yes! The bris milah is on the body. A body is holy and almost all mitzvos are intended to elevate the body more and more. [The gemara says that a Jewish woman is considered as if she has a bris "isha ki'man di'mehalia dami". Women: You too are holy!] Eat cholent and kugel on Shabbos and fulfill a mitzva. Get married and live with your spouse and fulfill a mitzva. Live in a beautiful country [Israel] and fulfill a mitzva. That is the purpose of the Torah. Sanctify the body!

The pasuk says "Vi'anshei Kodesh Tihiyun Li" - You should be holy PEOPLE. The Kotzker Rebbe explained that Hashem is saying "I have enough angels up here. I want holy PEOPLE. Sanctify your BODIES. Eat with holiness, sleep with holiness, interact with others with holiness and work with holiness. Angels are purely spiritual beings. They are not the ultimate goal of creation. Humans are."

ANSHEI Kodesh!!!

Great week sweetest friends!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Foundation Of Our Souls

Rabbeinu Yonah in his classic work Shaarei Tshuva makes a very cryptic statement: "Truth is the foundation of our souls." What does that mean?

An accurate portrait would be defined as a portrait that faithfully reflects the original. If it doesn't that would be a lack of "emes" [truth]. We are all created in the image of G-d. That means that our job in this world is to accurately reflect the "Original" [i.e. G-d]. To do otherwise would be "dishonest". We [the image] would be a distortion of our Source. That is what Rabbeinu Yonah means. The very foundation of our existence is to emulate Divine qualities. [Rav Yitzchak Hutner ztz"l]

In the weeks parsha we are taught "Stay far away from falsehood". This does not only mean that we shouldn't lie. It also means that we should keep a significant distance from any non-G-dly unholy qualities.

"Just as He is merciful so too you should be merciful, just as He is benevolent so too you should be benevolent."

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

Powered by WebAds
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.
My profile