Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Cell

The cellular phone is a very important invention but is often misused. Since Rabbi Yosef Karo didn't live in the age of the cell I will take the liberty of adding halachos pertaining to this contraption.


1] Don't answer your phone while conversing with someone. It is rude. It shows the other person that he is not very important to you. Now he must wait idly while you finish your conversation.

2] DEFINITELY don't answer the phone while on a date. It is doubly rude.

3] Don't answer the phone while learning or davening. G-d is not calling you. Nobody on the phone could be more important than what you are doing at the present moment.

4] Don't answer the phone while someone is giving a speech or shiur. A persons phone goes off and he answers and starts talking while the everyone notices and is distracted from listening to the shiur. I have witnessed this countless times [not only during my own shiurim] and am constantly amazed by the level of insensitivity displayed by such people.

5] Turn it off during a chuppah. Let the couple get married in peace. Also during a funeral. Yes, many people speak on their cell phones during funerals.

6] Use it only when necessary. Own your phone but don't let your phone own you.

7] Many people have told me that they WISH that they didn't carry a phone around! Who is forcing you?!

8] There are exceptions to these rules.


I would love to hear differing opinions or additions to this list.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


My Pesach was GRRRREAT!

Firstly because of the last three letters of the word great. So much and such a big mitzva! I am now fat [five ten and a half and about 132 pounds]. Every kezias of matza was another mitzva according to many. So many mitzvos! Not to mention all of the other delicious food which was also a fulfillment of the mitzva of Simchas Yom Tov.

Now I have no more appetite. No mitzva - no appetite.


I also had a lovely time in Hawaii! EXOTIC!!! And my daughter did extensive kiruv on the Hula girls who greeted us upon arrival. Four of them actually bought clothing [!!] and are considering spending time studying in Neve Yerushalayim.

All seriousness aside....

In the Haftora bracha we say "Rachem al tzion ki he BEIS CHAYENU". Tzion - Yerushalayim is the HOUSE OF OUR LIVES. Our lives are rooted in Yerushalayim. That is why the gemara relates that when Titus stuck his sword in the Holy of Holies, blood spurted out. When Yerushalayim was destroyed our life force was sucked out of us. [Rav Moshe Schapiro Shlita]

May we merit to live there and to personally see the COMPLETE GEULAH!


Friday, April 18, 2008

Burning More Than Just The Chametz

"The best way to make a difference in the world is to start by making a difference in your own life."

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Chametz symbolizes the evil inclination. By burning our chametz we are symbolically burning the evil inside of us. So if the chametz is substantial [at least a kezais -olive size] we must burn it.

Television is mostly evil [except when it is off]. There is much explicit sexual content and violence. Negative lessons are imparted about family, marriage, love and our general value system which obviously shapes the way we view the world. Many studies have been conducted about the many harms inflicted by television and I have yet to see one that promotes its use as being positive. One need not be frum to accept that TV is bad for you. Only honest.

So if your television is smaller than a kezais it might not be a problem. But if it is larger than a kezais it should be burned with the chametz. Chametz only symbolizes the yetzer hara - television IS the Yetzer Hara.

The internet has caused the breakup of many marriages. Many good religious people have become addicted to pornogrophy, gambling and other destructive behaviors through the internet. It also wastes a mammoth amount of time. Time is life - wasting time is suicide. So unless a person absolutely needs the internet, I would recommend disposing of it with the chametz [ramifications affecting Alleyways notwithstanding].

Musical cd's with inappropriate lyrics, DVD'S and magazines with immodest pictures are other possibilities for our biyur chametz fire.

Sweetest friends!!! Please understand me! I am a radical. I want our environment to be cleansed of spiritual pollution. Call me "A Radical Spiritual Environmentalist." I want our society to be pure and holy - KEDUSHA VI'TAHARA.

I am looking for people who are like-minded. There are certainly many of you out there. We CAN make a difference.

Chag Kasher Vi'sameach!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love and blessings to all!

P.S. Isn't it ironic that the opening quotation I used was made by a television actress...

P.P.S. Why is the root of the word "ironic", iron. What does irony have to do with iron?? Why not "metallic", "plastistic" or "copperic"?

Isn't it copperic that the opening quotation I used was made by a television actress.....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Great Rosh Yeshiva

Today was the funeral of Rav Henach Leibowitz Ztz"l, Rosh Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim. There are many things that have been and will be said about this tzaddik but I want to say something from a personal angle.

I owe him a lot. 19 and 20 years ago I learned in a Yeshiva [Ohr Dovid] where my Rabbeim were students of his. That was the beginning of my Yeshiva career and it left an indelible impression on me. More than anything else I learned about the importance of the study of Mussar. Since then I have studied Tanach, Chassidus, Philosophy, etc. all through the lens of Mussar. I always search for the Mussar angle. The question that always accompanies me is, how can what I am learning help make me and those around me better people?

Rav Henach stressed character improvement and his students - my Rabbeim - conveyed that to me and I try to pass this on to the next generation. If I had to sum up the central teaching of Mussar in one sentence it would be with the Chazal that says, "If a Torah Scholar has faulty character then the carcass of an animal is better than he." [him? Never learned grammar... Mussar, yes. Grammar, no. So if I don't know grammar I have an excuse, but if I don't act properly I have none....] Who wants to be worse than a dead animal?! [And if somebody is IGNORANT of Torah and has bad middos to what can HE be compared?]

As the wisest of all men said "Hold fast to Mussar; do not let it go. Guard it for it is your life." [Mishlei 4/13]

Yehi zichro baruch.

PS - One of the Rabbeim I referred to is very ill and suffering. Please daven for him until further notice. R' Chaim Moshe ben Minia.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mechiras Chametz

Orthodox Rabbis have ruled that smoking is STRICTLY forbidden. But the Yidden aren't worried. They will just sell their lungs to a non-jew and can thus continue to smoke uninhibited.

Baa dam chhhhhhhhhhhh!

When a person sells his chametz there is a custom to pay the Rabbi who acts as the agent who performs the transaction. There is also a Halachic basis for this practice.
Selling the chametz is an act of Biblical import because we are selling the chametz that we have not nullified. But how can we be sure that the Rabbi will carry out his task and actually sell it. The presumption [chazaka] that an agent can be trusted to do his job does not work for Biblical mitzvos! So by paying him we make him a worker [po'el] who CAN be trusted according to the Halacha.

So put your money where your chametz is!!!

[See Tshuvos V'hanhagos 2/218 and the sources quoted therein]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bittul Chametz

"He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure."

James Lane Allen

The Rambam holds that nullifying unknown Chametz is Biblically mandated. How can this be? The Rambam is of the opinion that in cases of doubt we may be lenient [safek di'oraisa l'kula min hatorah] and unknown Chametz is - by definition - doubtful. So why is nullification necessary?

The Place

"Our Creator is the same and never changes despite the names given Him by people here and in all parts of the world. Even if we gave Him no name at all, He would still be there, within us, waiting to give us good on this earth."

George Washington Carver

Someone asked me this question and I have yet to hear or see a satisfactory answer. In the Hagada we say: "Baruch Hamakom, Baruch Hu" Hashem is called "Hamakom". Why do we choose this name for Hashem at this juncture of the Hagada? [The question is NOT what is the meaning of this name but why it is used here as opposed to a more common name.]

Tyere Yidden - Please help!

Monday, April 14, 2008

An Israeli Goes Diasporatic For The Holiday

One might think that since one who lives in Chutz L'aretz and is visiting Israel must not do melacha on Yom Tov Sheni as is his practice in Chutz L'aretz [according to the majority of poskim] it follows that if one who lives in Israel is visiting Chutz L'aretz for Yom Tov is ALLOWED to do melacha on Yom Tov Sheni as he does in Israel.

This is erroneous! The overwhelming consensus of Poskim is that an Israeli is not permitted to do melacha in Chutz L'aretz on Yom Tov Sheni - even in private!

[See "Yom Tov Sheni Ki'hilchaso" for sources]

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Organ Harvesting

The world should be shaking!

If news reports are correct then there are presently 36 concentration camps in China where organs are harvested from living people who are then thrown into crematoriums in order to destroy evidence. The largest camp has 120,000 prisoners.

Where is the UN? America? Israel? THE WORLD??????? We Jews know how it feels when the world remains silent in the face of indescribable human cruelty so why isn't something being done? Why does history constantly repeat itself? Are people foolish or cruel or both?

How can a person sleep soundly at night when this is going on. Hashem is merciful to ALL of His creations - ורחמיו על כל מעשיו.

Are we so desensitized that such stories don't bother us?? Isn't it G-dly to feel compassion?

I usually try to write upbeat posts but I just heard about this and am shocked to the core. [I don't buy newspapers or own a TV and I am usually behind the times so even though this may be an old story it is new to me.]

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why Wait? - Answer

Maybe the Sefer Hachinuch is telling us a special chiddush here regarding matza. One might think that if a person is FORCED to eat matza then it is no longer considered "derech cheirus" - the way free men, eat and therefore there should be no obligation to coerce a person to do so because he wouldn't fulfill his obligation even if he eats [because it is not derech cheirus]. In order to dispel this notion the S.H. teaches us specifically here that nevertheless we coerce him to eat matza if he refuses.

Rav A.Y. Zilberstein

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Where The Perfect Spouse Exists

I am not an expert on dating. [I am not an expert on most things - although I am quite proficient at giving people directions to the Kotel. I have done it about 26,000 times.] But I do have a great deal of interactions with people who are looking for their mate.

So I would like to share the following thought with singles. Many unmarrieds have this picture of the IDEAL mate in their minds. Shocking revelation: He/She indeed exists! But only in your imagination. NOBODY [!!!!!] can give you EVERYTHING you are looking for. She [or he] should be the warmest, most gentle, kindest, most beautiful [for guys], from the best family, understanding, fun to be with, religious like you - not more, not less, super-accepting-nurturing-sensitive-responsible, a good provider [for girls], a good cook [for guys] and the list goes on and on. I have never met anything close.

Everyone who gets married realizes, either before marriage or after, that nobody has everything. And you can still be very happy, even though your spouse is a limited mortal being, riddled with flaws and imperfections - just like you!

You want perfection?

Marry G-d.

You want to get married to a human being? Find a good person to marry and then spend your life focusing on all of his/her positive qualities.

Love and blessings to all!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Complaint Season

"Isn't all of this preparation for Pesach a major pain."

The evil son says "Ma ha'avodah hazos lachem" - The Yerushalmi interprets his words as meaning "What is this big pain in the neck." ["Ma kol hatircha hazos she-atem matrichim aleinu."]

Based on this the Sefer HaRokeach [Simman 223] says that one shouldn't complain about the Pesach preparations or about all of the Matza we have to eat etc. That is the way of the evil son. Fortunate are we that we are able to do all of these mitzvos!

Love and blessings to all!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Why Wait?

The Sefer Hachinuch mitzva 6 says that the Beis Din has the right to coerce a person to eat matza. The Minchas Chinuch asks - Why did the Sefer Hachinuch wait until mitzva 6 to talk about the right of Beis Din to coerce? It is true of the earlier mitzvos as well?

He answers that in this instance the Sefer Hachinuch is telling us a special chiddush. When talking about the earlier mitzvos such as having children or bris milah there is no reason to think that if coerced one would not fulfill his obligation. But if one is forced to eat then on might think that such eating is called "achila shelo kidarka" - unnatural eating and therefore he would not fulfill his obligation. That is why the S.H. tells us that even in this case a person fulfills his obligation.

But we may wonder why we would think someone who is forced to eat is considered eating "shelo kidarka". "Shelo kidarka" means that for instance a person mixes something very bitter into his food and eats it or if he eats something so hot that he burns his throat while eating. But in this case he is eating normally. The reason he STARTED eating was because of coercion but the actual eating is normal - "kidarka". [Sefer Avnei Chein]

So the question resurfaces [How does a question resurface? Is a question in the construction business? Isn't it called "resurfacing" when you put a new floor down?]. Why only now does the S.H. tell us that the Beis Din may coerce an individual to perform a mitzva when it is true of the earlier mitzvos as well?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Crowning Him

Li'iluy nishmas Esther bas R' Shmuel.

In some places the custom is for everyone to take off their tefillin before Mussaf on Rosh Chodesh. In more traditional circles only the men do so [for obvious reasons...]. But there is clearly a practice to remove the tefillin at this time. The question is - WHY?

Answer: In the kedusha of the repetition of the shmoneh esrei we say "Keeeeeeesser, yitnuuuuuu licha-a-a....." [that is my favorite part!] - We will give YOU the crown.
It is not appropriate to say that to Hashem when WE are wearing a crown [i.e. the tefillin].

We should think about this as we are removing our tefillin. "G-d, YOU are the King". [Sorry Elvis and Martin Luther Junior] Otherwise, what's the point of taking off our tefillin.

[Rav Simcha Ziskind Briode Ztz"l Rosh Yeshivas Chevron]

Love, blessings, a Chodesh Tov and a Gut Chodesh to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Big Days Are Coming Up!!!!!!!!!!!

The time is coming near.



THE FESTIVAL OF BREAD-CRACKERS [Chag hamatzos?]!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


But wait. There are very serious halachic problems that arise at this time of year.

Let me mention two:

1] Anger. People [especially those of the female persuasion] get so involved in the fast and furious cleaning that at times tempers flare. "AHHHHHHHHHHH, CHAMETZ!! GET THAT OUT OF HERE! ARE YOU NUTSO! NUTS! KITNIYOS! GET THAT OUT OF HERE, TOO!" [Please note that all types of nuts are not considered kitniyos except for peanuts. The Iggros Moshe says that even peanuts aren't kitniyos but that some people are stringent. But then again dust is not chametz and yet is treated as such by many....] So holy are the Yidden that they want to make sure that the house is chametz free on Pesach - and the Yetzer Hara rejoices. He gets people angry.

But anger is a sin. A big sin. I could start quoting sources but if I start I will never finish. Take my word for it. It's a really serious sin. So let's banish short tempers from our homes as we banish Chametz. And let's keep it out after Pesach as well.

2] Torah. People who normally learn lots of Torah during the rest of the year take a vacation during Nissan. The Chazon Ish said that we should take a vacation: Only learn 12 hours a day. The rest of the time we can help clean and prepare for the holiday.

Hashem took us out of Egypt for one express purpose, namely to give us the Torah.

L'ilui nishmas my beloved great-grandmother Esther bas R' Shmuel who died on Rosh Chodesh Nissan [today] 19 years ago and she is sorely missed by her family. I never saw her get angry at anybody. She was as sweet as sweet could be - despite the fact that she endured a very hard life. Always with a smile and often encouraging me to do what any good grandmother exhorts her grandchildren to do - eat! "Ally'kem, have some chicken." Please learn a mishna or say a perek of Tehillim L'ilui Nishmasa Ha'tihora.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Heightened Sensitivity - A Thought For Tazria

When a woman gives birth she must bring a young dove [ben yonah] or a turtledove [tor] as a korban [12/6] . Normally when the Torah mentions these two birds the turtledove is written first whereas in this pasuk the young dove is first. Why??

The Ba'al Haturim explains that in a regular case one brings both birds. However a woman after birth only brings one of them. So the Torah is saying that she should ideally take a young dove and not a turtledove. If she can't then she can take the turtledove. The reason is that a turtledove is very faithful to its spouse and if the woman takes a turtledove its partner will be very sad and won't want to find another mate. Therefore, one should preferably take a young dove to avoid causing the remaining turtledove anguish.

From here we see that one should be careful to avoid causing anguish even to an animal!! And a person? A fortiori [I think that means "kal vachomer"].

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

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Making Yerushalayim Happy

Approximately 173 years ago the city of Tzfas was severely damaged [I think that it was due to an earthquake]. The Chasam Sofer explained [See Toras Moshe Parshas Emor] that this occurred as Divine retribution to show people that they have abandoned Yerushalayim and instead have become enamored with Tzfas. This is a big sin. Yerushalayim must always remain Number One.

In the bracha said after the Haftorah we ask Hashem to redeem Yerushalayim's "Aluvas Nefesh" - Sad Soul. Imagine how sad Yerushalayim must be today when She sees all of her Jews grazing in foreign pastures [faaaaaar away - even from Tzfas] even though they can full well afford to come to Her - even if only for vacation.

May we speedily see the fulfillment of the bracha "Mesameach Tzion Bivaneha" - [Blessed are you Hashem] Who causes Tzion to rejoice in her sons!!!!!!!!

Love and blessings sweetest friends!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Suffering Can Be Good

"Tov lee kee uneysee, lima'an elmad chukecha" - It is good that I was afflicted in order that I should study your statutes [Tehillim 119].

People think that learning is supposed to be easy. NO, NO, NO! Learning is supposed to be hard. No pain, no gain!!!!!!

If you are toiling then you know that you are learning. If you are coasting then some changes should be made.

[Based on the Sfas Emes]

Love and blessings sweetest friends!!!!!!!!!!!


All new audio shiurim are being posted on [and not on alleyways] including those on Pesach.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mitzva Opportunity

Sweetest friends!

Due to the weakening of the dollar and the escalation of food prices many people are simply unable to afford the basics. I am copying an email from Rav Ingber who has a tzedaka organization here in the Old City.

Tizku L'mitzvos!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shalom u'vracha.

Time is getting very short and we are pressed to know where we stand for Pesach.
We know that there is great economic uncertainty everywhere and that financial decisions are difficult now. On the other hand, as Pesach approaches, we all open up and make the move.

Please... reply if you are sending or have already sent to In His Image Foundation for Pesach.

Please let me know by email and note on your check either "tai- Pesach Family Fund" or "tai- Food Project".

All money received on time will be matched 1:2 up to $75,000, so your contribution becomes that much more significant.

Chag Kasher v'Sameach,

Tzvi Aryeh

Write check to:
In His Image Foundation

Write on Memo Line:

"tai-Family Fund" OR "tai-Food Project"
Mail to:
In His Image Foundation

c/o Realty Data Processing

303 Merrick Road
Suite 506

Lynbrook, NY 11563

Wire instructions for - In His Image:
North Fork Bank

700 Walt Whitman Rd.

Melville, NY 11747

ABA# 021 407 912

Account # 732 403 4797
Account Name: In His Image Charitable Trust

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Segula - 40 days at the Kotel

About me

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