Friday, October 31, 2008

Walking The Walk

Please sing with me: "Don't walk in front of me I may not follow, don't walk behind me I may not lead, just walk beside me and be my friend and together we will walk in the way of Hashem."

In Parshas Noach it says that "Noach walked WITH G-d" [Es HaElokim hishaleich Noach]. About Avraham Avinu it says that he was commanded to "walk BEFORE G-d" [17,1]. It also says that we are commanded to "walk AFTER G-d" [Devarim 13,5].

What's up??

"Walking with G-d" means that you are doing what G-d requires according to the level of your generation. In Noach's generation they were evil - in comparison, Noach was a Tzaddik. He walked WITH G-d.

Avraham was keeping the Torah BEFORE it was given. He prepared the world for the giving of the Torah. He was a man who was ahead of his time. Avraham walked BEFORE G-d.

Today, we are living loooong after the time the great event of Matan Torah at Sinai. [What did Moshe say when he got to the top of Mount Sinai? Wow, this looks like a great place place for a hospital.] All we can hope for is to walk AFTER G-d.

But sweetest friends, remember, the most important thing is that no matter what - G-d is in the picture.

[Based on Rav Kook in his Midbar Shoor]

Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos


For an approach to the questions about Rashi that I posed in a previous post, you can listen to two shiurim on YUTORAH.ORG Parshas Noach.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Riches And Honor

When we bentch Rosh Chodesh on the Shabbos before, we ask Hashem for "Chaim shel osher vichavod" - A life of riches and honor.

Sometimes people become very rich and lose their self respect and dignity. Such people becomes slaves to their money and their desires. Ya know, when you have a lot of money you can fill many desires. They are transformed from respectable human beings to animals on two legs.

So we ask Hashem - Good Lord make me RICH, CLEANLY RICH [I don't like the term "filthy rich"], but help me maintain my dignity and self respect. The Neshama, explains the Baál Hamaor in his preface to Maseches Brachos, is called "Kavod" [as in the pasuk "lima'an yizamercha kavod vi'lo yidom"]. Hashem, let me not neglect my kavod.

[See Ayn Ayah Brachos 1 page 79]

Love and blessings!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bless You

At the beginning of this weeks parsha the Torah says that "These are the offspring of Noach" then out of the blue it says "Noach was a tzaddik and complete...". Hey! What about his offspring.

"This is what I ate for breakfast: I really enjoy clipping my toenails." It just doesn't follow!

So Rashi noticed this [of course] and explains that when mentioning a tzaddik, we praise him as it says "zecher tzaddik livracha". [Afterwards the pasuk continues and lists his sons].

3 questions:

1] How come when we are first introduced to Noach in Parshas Beraishis we don't hear his praise [that he was a tzaddik and complete] and only in Parshas Noach we read this?

2] How come when introduced to other tzaddikim in the Torah we don't hear their praise?

3] The pasuk Rashi quotes to prove that when mentioning a tzaddik you praise him is "zecher tzaddik livracha". But that doesn't mean to PRAISE a tzaddik but to BLESS him? In fact, in Vayera 18/18 we see Rashi quoting this pasuk to show that when mentioning a tzaddik we BLESS him!!

Food for thought.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Question For Those With A "Head On Their Shoulders"


I didn't make that word up! It is one of the ingredients of Head and Shoulders shampoo. How much would you get for that in a scrabble game!! [Ask someone on a date to spell that. If he/she gets the right answer I wouldn't necessarily suggest you marry them - but I would take the person for the spelling bee.]

Why do I bring this up? Because I find myself scratching my head when I read Rashi on this weeks parsha. He says [Ch. 6 Pasuk 6] that the root Nichum ALWAYS means to change ones mind ["machshava acheres"]. Then, in the very last comment on the parsha [only a few sentences later!] he says that "nichamti" means "I considered what I should do" [chashavti mah la'asos] - not "I changed my mind".

So which one is it???

I would like to thank a certain Grand Rabbi from Brooklyn named Rabbi Schneerson of blessed memory for pointing this out to me.

Polynapthalensulfonate. Another ingredient. Who thinks of these words??

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Precondition For All Spiritual Growth

We say it every day : ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם ... למען תזכרו ועשיתם את כל מצוותי והייתם קדושים לאלוקים

"Don't go after your eyes [see inappropriate things] .... in order that you will remember and fulfill my mitzvos and be holy to your G-d."

A mashal. You go into the kitchen and pour yourself a refreshing glass of clear delicious water. MMMMMMM! DEEEEEEELICIOUS!! One problem. The glass is filthy and muddy. You drink.


A person fulfills all of the mitzvos. He should be purified. But it doesn't work if he contaminates his soul by seeing inappropriate sights. His soul is muddy and so are his mitzvos. OY VEY!!

If one is visually pure then so are his mitzvos. The opposite ....

The foregoing was an advertisement for television. That every Jew who cares about his soul use it as firewood for a seudas mitzva. Also, keep all reading material with pictures out of the house. The street looks bad enough. Why bring the filthy street into your home.

Love and blessings!!!

[Based on the Chafetz Chaim]

PS If you have noticed many posts on this topic appearing on alleyways it is because I believe that it is the most critical spiritual problem facing our generation and people don't even realize that something is wrong.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Humble And Happy

On Yom Kippur we read the piyyut about the order of the service of the kohen gadol in the Beis Hamikdash. When he is about to mix the blood of his bull ["Par Shel Kohen Gadol"] and the goat sacrificed on behalf of the Jewish people, we read that he experiences great joy ["sos"]. What is so special about this particular part of the service that it was done with so much joy?

The Kohen Gadol felt uncomfortable. He had a SPECIAL korban just for him and his wife [ "vicheeper baádo unbiad beiso"]. It is like having a special "Limo" when everybody else is walking. He didn't want to feel extraordinary, he wanted to feel like one of the regular people. Now he mixes the blood of his korban together with the blood of the korban brought for the masses. WOWEE!! he feels. Finally, I am like everybody else. That is why he was so happy.

The joy of humility.

[Heard from the Rebbe Shlita in the name of Reb Herschel Zidichover - if my memory serves me correctly.]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Power Of A Jewish Soul

There is a group of young "Religious Zionist" Jews who started an organization called Ma'ayanei Hayeshua. The goal is to bring other Jews closer to Judaism. "Kiruv" in our lingo.

About a month ago, they set up a stand with at the Malcha Mall. Not exactly a religious environment to say the least! A storekeeper approaches them and asks to put on the tefillin. Of course they responded in the affirmative with great joy. Suddenly they notice a line of storekeepers getting longer and longer. They all want to lay tefillin. So the boys went to get their own personal tefillin so the people wouldn't have to wait too long. Each one of the men had a story. One man related that he hadn't put on tefillin for many years but still remembered the brachos by heart.

The most beautiful story was told by a 72 year old man. When his turn came he began to cry. He related that he was a holocaust survivor and from the time of the war he is FILLED with anger at Hashem and thus it is so hard for him to fulfill mitzvos. "I feel and know that my Neshama is suffering from the distance from Hashem that I imposed upon it," he said. "This morning I decided to give my Neshama a present and lay tefillin."

[Source: Ma'ayanei Hayeshua parsha booklet, Parshas Haazinu]

Friday, October 10, 2008

What We Are Doing Here

In Parshas Haazinu there is a scary idea. It says [Chapter 32, Psukim 26-27] that Hashem would destroy the Jewish people if not for the fact that the Gentiles would misinterpret and think that it wasn't the hand of Hashem. Thus, He is compelled to save us. It seems to be saying that the only reason we are here is because of the wickedness of the Gentiles and not because of our specialness.

However a deeper look indicates that the pasuk is really revealing to us how special we are. The purpose of the Jewish People is to remind the world of G-d's existence. If we are not here - He is not here [kiviyachol]! The pasuk says "Atem aidai vi'ani kel" - You are my witnesses and I am G-d. Chazal explain that the pasuk means that if we are G-d's witness only then He is G-d, but if we don't testify to His existence then ... Can't say it. [See Ramban there and Pachad Yitzchak Rosh Hashana Maamar 12].

Sweetest friends, we have a big job.

A gitten kvittel to all!!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

No More Rationalizations

Sweetest Friends, Shalom. The topic of copyright and halacha is a vast one and I am not paskening a Halacha here but the following is food for thought. For a final halachic desicion you should consult a competent Rov. Honesty in money matters is a big step in the Tshuva process.

Article by Rabbi Eli Teitlebaum

One doesn’t have to be very smart to make copies of tapes, CD’s, books, or computer programs. Modern technology makes it so easy for us to cheat or steal that the temptation is very great. Why pay $500 for a computer program if we can make a copy of it for only a few dollars? Why buy a tape or CD if we can make a copy of it for pennies? Why buy a coloring book if we can make photostat copies of it for half the price. The chances of our being caught or prosecuted are very slim. While we may know that copying is a form of theft, we make many rationalizations for it. Firstly, we have the “everyone does it” syndrome. Some believe that the producers charge too much or are making plenty of money anyway. Others rationalize that they wouldn’t have bought it anyway so the producers are not really losing any money. That’s like the person who steals a cookie from the bakery with the excuse that he wouldn’t have bought it anyway or the person who stole a car that was parked in front of a cemetery in the belief that the owner had died. When I once saw a yeshivah student making copies of a CD for all his friends I asked him on what he based his heter? He explained that he buys the tape “b’shutfus” ( in partnership ) with all his friends and therefore they all own a share in it. This, he said, gives him the right to make copies for them. After all, he reasoned, he is only making copies of his own possession. This reminds me of the person who was arrested for counterfeiting $100 bills. When the judge asked him why he did it, he replied that the original $100 bill belonged to him and therefore he had a right to make copies of it. It seems that modern technology has brought along with it a new morality and sense of ethics. As long as you can get it for free, it doesn’t really matter how it’s done.

Because of modern technology, the piracy of other peoples property rights have become endemic, yet it is just as forbidden as picking someone’s pocket and is forbidden both by Torah law and American and international copyright law. When selling a product, one has a right to attach a condition to the sale. According to Halachah, it is absolutely forbidden to copy a product that was sold on the condition that it not be reproduced.

Of all the sins of Noach’s generation, which included the three cardinal sins, their fate was sealed because of the sin of theft! The makers of these books, tapes, programs, and the like, spend thousands of dollars to produce them. Billions of dollars a year are lost on account of this type of theft. One of the seven Noachide commandments is to make laws for the public’s good and welfare. Why would anyone produce a tape, book or computer program if everyone can make himself a free copy?

Despite the lawsuits recently filed against hundreds of people accused of distributing music over the Internet, millions of others continue to copy and share songs without paying for them. The lack of guilt over online copying suggests that people don’t see anything wrong with it when in fact it is no different than stealing a CD from a music store. In a recent survey, 63% of the people surveyed said they did not care much about the copyright on files they copied onto their computers and they felt that it was perfectly acceptable to share copyrighted files. Legality seems beside the point as they click their way through licensing agreements, impatient to receive the software at the other end. Many experts argue that legal prohibition alone is rarely effective in getting people to behave differently if it runs counter to strong societal beliefs. ”It’s wrong to be downloading hundreds of songs, but if you only want one or two, it’s no big deal,” said a young student I asked. That’s the philosophy of the people of Sedom I replied. Everyone would take only one brick from the large pile of bricks standing in the street and soon there would be none left. If they download just a little bit, and not a lot, then it’s less wrong goes their Chelemite logic.

One wonders why some that are so very stringent and keep every custom even when it may have little basis in halacha are so very lenient with questions that involve theft that is based on Torah law?

One yeshivah student told me that he used to make copies but stopped doing it when his rebbi told him it was genaiva. He even destroyed all the copies he had made and called the copyright holders to ask them for forgiveness for what he had done. This is true teshuvah! People must realize that this kind of theft has real victims and robs artists and producers of their livelihoods.

It’s extremely important that parents and rebbeyim discuss the moral and ethical applications of these matters so that we are not taken to task for our complacency. Certainly, any yorei Shomayim would stop doing it if he knew the din is very clear on these matters. When the school gets permission from the copyright holders to make copies of a particular page, it’s important that they write “copied with permission” on the paper so that their students don’t get mixed signals from those who are responsible for teaching them right from wrong. For all the halachic ramifications see the sefer titled Mishnas Zechuyos Ha’yotzrim .

P.S. Permission is hereby granted to make copies of this article.

Letter signed by R' Yechezkel Roth, shlit"a, Rabbi Moshe Stern,

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Can't Fool The Ribbono Shel Olam

The other day I received a phone call from a father of a young lady who called me up about a shidduch with a boy who once learned in the Yeshiva [and is presently in America].

"Is it true that he is a genius?" he asked.

Now, this boy is a genius like I am the Queen of Tanzania.

I told the father that he is a wonderful, sweet, diligent boy - but not a genius. [By the way, I don't think that intellectual superiority makes for a good husband but that's besides the point.]

The father was surprised, "But he was presented to me as a genius?"

That got me thinking. Aren't people EMBARRASSED to lie??? Especially a lie that is so easy to uncover.

We stand before G-d on Yom Kippur and spend a whole day confessing. But do we really mean it??

Example [one of many]:

"Al chayt she-chatanu lifanecha bisikkur ayin" - I am SO SORRY for all of the forbidden things I saw this year. Am I getting rid of my TV, the repository of so many inappropriate sights? No. Am I getting rid of, or at least a filter, for my internet? No. Am I going to make sure that my eyes are firmly planted on the pavement when I walk down the street on those hot days when [presumably due to the effects of the scorching heat] so many young women forgot to get dressed that morning? No.


Maybe the answer is that hopefully when I hear the words coming out of my own mouth the stark contradiction between what I am saying and my true intentions will be too much for my soul to bear and that will be the catalyst for a real change for the better.

So the secret is to say it like you mean it, ponder the words and then develop a concrete plan to overcome those destructive behaviors that serve as a barrier between you and your Neshama and between you and G-d.

Have a sweet day beloved friends and remember -


Monday, October 06, 2008


I am so frustrated with G-d! I keep davening for something and He is not answering me.

Mazel tov!

Why Mazel tov?

You just invented a new religion.

Which religion is that?



Yes. When you go to a restaurant and order a burger, fries and coke you want the waiter to give you PROMPT and courteous service. "Waiterism" is the religion that demands that G-d proffer prompt and courteous service. If not - He is in trouble.

But if he loves me then why doesn't he give me what I need?

He DOES give you what you need. He doesn't always give you what you WANT.

Why not?

Are burger, fries and coke GOOD for your body?


Are they what you WANT?

Absolutely [with lotsa ketchup]!

G-d gives you what is GOOD for you, not what you want. He is better than a waiter who [often] isn't interested in your health - only in your tip. G-d gives you what your SOUL needs. So you keep davening for what you think you need and leave it up to the Source Of All Knowledge to decide if it is good for you.

So I should order from G-d a fillet of SOUL - Blessings filled with "soul". Things that are good for my soul and let Him decide if I really need it.


Hey, if I do that I can be part of a religion based on the name of a waiter I once had.

What's that?


Friday, October 03, 2008


This weeks parsha is Vayeilach. If anybody can tell me what Rashi wants in the very first Rashi in the parsha it would be great! It is so S-T-R-A-N-G-E.

Only Sometimes It Goes Away

Sign in a dentists office: A picture of teeth and the following message "If you ignore the problem - it will go away."

We all have defects in our character. We may choose to ignore it - but it certainly won't go away. It will just continue to haunt us as we go through life. Many people consistently sweep their problems under the carpet and the bottom of the carpet gets filthier and filthier. The bottom of the carpet is an analogy for our mental state. The person who suffers the most from faulty character is himself. Example: Tension and nervousness. You don't get ulcers from what you eat but from what eats you! Learning how to relax is a valuable tool.

The solution is deep, honest, introspection and the development of a concrete plan to overcome the defect and to turn the defect into a positive attribute.

Love and blessings!!!!!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

More Than Just Better

A big misunderstanding is prevalent about the power of tshuva. People often talk about "improving". Improvement is certainly important but tshuva is not limited to just that. Tshuva means to engage in a complete transformation of ones spiritual being. Or in the words of the Holy Rabbis of the previous generations "Tshuva iz nicht der teitch besser verren, tshuva iz der teitch andresh verren." [Tshuva does not mean becoming BETTER, tshuva means becoming DIFFERENT.]

See Pachad Yitchak [Rosh Hashana Maamar 29] for a detailed and profound exposition of this topic.

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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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