Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Death Of god [lower case g]

Li'ilui nishmas my great-grandmother Esther bas R' Shmuel who was sweeter than sweet. Today, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, is her 20th yahrzeit and I have tears in my eyes writing this. I, together with my family, miss her dearly. She lived for us and I wish I would have been more mature and done more to bring her simcha. As a merit for her pure Neshama I ask you to do one of three things - either learn a mishna, say a perek of Tehillim or call up an elderly person and make him or her feel special. Thank you soooooo much.

We have seen the fall of Religion in America. I am not rejoicing - this collapse has caused many people great hardships. The Religion I am referring to of course is MONEY. Yes, MONEY has supplanted G-d as being the highest value. Even, regrettably, amongst many of those who have their head covered [male or female], how much money you have is FAR more important than how much Torah you learn or how much yiras shomayim you have. I witness this very often. That is why Yeshiva students in Israel have to fight with their parents to study one more year in Yeshiva but seldom [never?] do I hear of a child who is told "The most important thing is Torah and middos tovos. Of course you have to earn a living, but that is only a means to a much greater end. The end is Kedusha, Ahavas Hashem and a kind and generous heart. So focus on G-d and when the time comes I am sure you will make a living. As a matter of fact, making an honest living is also a mitzva. But, of course, not one for which we sell our soul. Yeshiva is FAR more important that University. So even if you attend University never forget what is most important. Anyway, money won't make you happy."

Such a statement is axiomatic to Jewish belief but unfortunately all too few are faithful to it. Only after somebody dies do people talk about what really matters. The persons spiritual side is presented as being primary and nobody really cares what the persons yearly salary was or what type of car he drove.

Well, G-d doesn't value a person in proportion to his net worth. We shouldn't either. "Hatzilaini midomim Elokim" - cried Dovid Hamelech in Tehillim. This is translated by a Chassidic master as "Save me from making money [domim] my G-d." How sad it is that a Jewish child is taught both explicitly and tacitly that it is nice but be religious but don't forget what really matters. MOOLA! GELT! KESEF! To paraphrase Coach Lombardi "Money isn't everything - it's the ONLY thing."

Before we could leave Egypt we had to slaughter the Egyptian God [the sheep] and only then could we fully accept the true G-d. Maybe that is the lesson of this economic meltdown. People should realize that life is not about paper, mere pieces of paper. G-d is higher, Torah is higher, honestly is higher and frankly, money is very low on the list of important things in life. For this reason "god" had to die. Many people have no more money.

Oh no, I am aware. One needs money to live. It IS important. I don't dispute that. But so is relieving oneself [excuse the mashal] but only a fool lives in order to relieve himself. It is just about keeping things in proportion.

May we show Hashem what is really important to us by spending money on spiritual matters and in that merit may He bestow upon us economic prosperity together with good health and happiness!!

Love and blessings to all!!

PS The latest in Holocaust Responsa. Don't miss it. I didn't! You won't regret it.

Also, Parshas Vayikra and the Hagada. I guarantee you - such Torah you have never heard. A completely original approach [not mine]!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lechem Oni

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.

Henry David Thoreau

What is true freedom? When you don't NEED anything more that the basics. That is why we eat matza [lechem oni - the bread of poverty] to celebrate our freedom. All we need to be satisfied is the most basic of foods - flour and water. Then everything else we have will be viewed as a tremendous bracha. If we continue to receive, we will be eternally grateful but if we don't that will be OK, too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thoughts On Fire

The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, "You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done."

George Carlin

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.


I was at this casino minding my own business, and this guy came up to me and said, "You're gonna have to move, you're blocking a fire exit." As though if there was a fire, I wasn't gonna run. If you're flammible and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit.

Mitch Hedberg

Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.

Thomas Fuller

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.

Ann Landers

Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?

George Carlin

Well, Pesach is a holiday of FIRE. You can hear more about it. DEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Elevated Giving

If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.

Bob Hope

In this weeks Parsha we read about the people who donated to the Mishkan. They are called "nisa'o leebo" [his heart elevates him] and "nadva roocho" [generous spirit]. The Holy Ohr Hachaim explains that the Torah is describing two categories of givers. The higher level is "nisa'o leebo" - he gives MORE than he is able. The Pasuk calls him an "Ish" - a compliment due to him because of his generosity. The other category of people are called "nadva roocho" - these people give because they WANT to give and feel no pain when they give to this worthy cause. These people are also praiseworthy albeit not on the level of the nisa'o leebo group [who have gone BEYOND the call of duty]. This is why nisa'o leebo is mentioned first.

May we be zocheh to always find ourselves amongst the givers!!!

Good Shabbos Sweetest Friends!!!!!!!

Maschilim Bi'gnus?!

A boy is set up with a girl. He receives the number of one of her teachers at Seminary as a reference. He calls him up.

"Hello, my name is Moshe Chaim Gutyid and I am calling about a Shidduch with Chana Leah Elzar. Can you tell me about her."

"Ahh Chana Leah. She has a thing for cults. When she was fifteen she started hooking up with various cults: Scientology, the Moonies etc. etc. She then became the chapter leader of Jews for Jesus [as opposed to Jews for Cheeses which is an organization for Jews who love that dairy product in its endless forms]. Then she entered a convent and studied to be a nun. Finally she got out of the "habit" [pun intended!] and came to Seminary "Bnos T'horos". Today she is a fine, upstanding, modest and pure bas yisrael. I highly recommend her!"

Would you want to marry such a girl?

We start telling our story in the Hagada "Mitchila ovdei avoda zara hayu avoseinu" -"Our forefathers were originally idolators". As the Mishna in Pesachim says - Maschilim bi'gnus - We must start the Hagada by remembering our ignominious past.

Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy???????????????????????????? It's EMBARRASSING and brings no credit to us!!

Love and blessings!!!!!!

P.S. The latest of our Holocaust Responsa series with a GREAT story.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cumulative Effect

The Torah calls Hashem a Doctor as it says "Ani Hashem ROFECHA". Keeping that in mind, what do you think Hashem said to Moshe when he gave him the Luchos?

"Take two tablets and call me in the morning".

Anyway, Chazal teach that for forty days Moshe was learning the Torah from Hashem and forgetting it [until Hashem gave it to him as a gift]! Which compels us to ask - what was the point of learning it if he was going to forget?

Says the Heilige Shem Mishmuel: Every time he learned, it made an roshem [impression] on him. It wasn't a complete forgetting but a partial one. In the same way when we do any mitzva or anything positive - even a positive thought about someone else - it has a small effect on us and over time all of these small rishameem will add up to something SPECTACULAR.

We just need to be persistent in our goodness.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009



P.S. Why is he SMILING????

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shu"t Hashoah

It is VERY IMPORTANT to remember the holocaust. To this end Hashem has had me give a series of shiurim on the various Halachic questions that were asked during this horrible period and the ensuing discussions. This is a sample.

Love and blessings!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

True Knowledge

This week we read Parshas Parah. Parshas Parah always follows Purim. What is the connection?

On Purim the mitzva of the day is "Ad d'lo yada" - to reach a point where we don't know. We lose our ability to discern, to understand, to analyze and to comprehend. This is strange, normally we do everything we can to understand???

The answer is that of course we try to understand but we must realize that after everything is said and done, "mir farshtaisin GORNICHT!!" - we understand NOTHING [I hope the Yiddish is accurate]. We are sooo limited in our knowledge of even the physical world - a fortiori [kal vachomer] the spiritual world.

Take the BIGGEST Professor in his field. He might know more than other people about his area of expertise but there are still many many things he doesn't know. What about other fields? He knows almost nothing! Have you ever met a Professor of EVERYTHING?? Even if he would exist there is still so much knowledge that has not been discovered. The GREATEST Doctors on earth have one or maybe two specialties. But if you go to the biggest brain surgeon alive and tell him that you have a toothache he will send you to any dentist. Dentistry is not his thing. Nor is Cardiology or Opthamology etc. etc.

The Parah Adumah is a mitzva about which Shlomo Hamelech the wisest of all men exclaimed "Amarti echkama vihee richoka memenee" - I tried to understand but it is beyond me. In fact many reasons have been given for this mitzva. What Shlomo is saying is that this mitzva is special in that our job is to constantly understand and then conclude after all of our explanations that we still don't fully understand.

We know that the Parah Adumah is burned and then sprinkled upon an impure person who then becomes purified. There is nothing more purifying than HUMILITY!

From the Ad d'lo yada of Purim to the puzzling mitzva of Parah Adumah which purifies the contaminated and at the same time contaminates the pure we reach the pinnacle of knowledge, in the words of our Sages - "Tachlis Hayidea Shelo Nayda" - The purpose of all knowledge is to know that we don't know!

Heavenly Shabbos Sweetest Friends!!

PS - I mentioned Doctors. If you suffer from a stiff-neck [or you live in TeaNeck, Great-Neck, or once knew someone who was chayav CheNeck], this might interest you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hanging On The Tree

Someone told me in the name of a certain Chassidic Rebbe that vomiting on Purim is a tikkun. For what, I haven't the foggiest!! I don't even know if he said it.

18 Purims ago I made EIGHT [!] tikkunim. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friend Calev [Kurt] Stein [now of Passaic] who cleaned up after me [and I think he took me home as well].

I once asked what it means when we say in the piyyut Maoz Tzur "Rov banav VIKINYANAV al ha'aytz taleesa" - Haman's kinyanim [acquisitions] were hung on the tree. Was Haman's couch hanging? His living room table?

Today it occured to me that it means as follows: Haman BOUGHT the Jewish people from Achashveirosh [so explained the Gra]. So when he was hanging, his kinyan was also hanging [and thus nullified, because a dead person cannot own anything]. The kinyan no longer being in force opens the door for the decree of Achashveirosh to be overturned - as it was.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Some Inspiration

Tonight was a SPECIAL doubleheader at Netiv Aryeh. First, a chossid of the Tolna Rebbe.
Then the REAL THING!!

The first selection you can probably live without, but the second option [known as the "REAL THING"] is a don't miss!! [If you liked it tell a friend about it.]

Good Shabbos Sweetest Friends!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Here is a story worth more than all the diamonds in the world!!

Mi ki'amcha Yisrael!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Ad Di'lo Yada Bein HaFourteenth VihaFifteenth

We all know that cities walled from the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar and all other cities celebrate on the 14th.

The gemara at the beginning of Maseches Megillah adds that if an unwalled city is either visible from ["nireh"], or in close proximity to ["samuch"], a walled city, then their residents celebrate on the 15th. [The distance of "samuch" is defined by the poskim as a "mil" - an 18 minute walk.]


Yes, Ramot!

What do they do in Ramot???

The Old City is walled from the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun so in the Old City you read on the 15th. The Old City extends outwards so all of the other neighborhoods of Jerusalem are also going to read on the 15th. But Ramot is too far to be considered "samuch", and it isn't visible from the Old City, so it isn't "nireh" either. Also, there is no continuum of homes from the Old City [the Ramot Road is in the middle] so it cannot be considered an extension of the Old City.

So the Halacha is [drum roll...] CELEBRATE ON THE 14TH AS AN UNWALLED CITY!

Wait, not so fast Chuckie!!

When I was in Yeshiva in Ramot over 20 years ago [I am getting OLD!!] we celebrated BOTH days. The rationale was that since Ramot is considered part of Greater Jerusalem with respect to taxation, transportation etc. etc. it is really part of a walled city. So out of doubt we did everything on both days. A BRACHA was made on the megillah reading on ONLY one of the days [I don't remember which]. [The true winners were the wine merchants...]

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zatz"l ruled [among many others] in Halichos Shlomo that this is not necessary. Ramot is part of Jerusalem and hence Purim is on the 15th. Period! This is based on a Ritva in Megillah who says that if an unwalled city is "mishtateif" with a walled city [meaning same taxation etc. as we explained earlier] then the 15th is the day. I understand that this is the prevalent custom today.

But waiiiiiiiiiiiiiit a second! If you look at the Ritva [he is also quoted by the Shaar Hatziyun in simman tarpach s"k he"h] he requires that in ADDITION to the condition of "mishtateif" the city must also fulfill the condition of "nireh"! This is not the case as far as Ramot is concerned. So we could argue with Rav Shlomo Zalman and say that in Ramot the Megillah should be read on the 14th.


But Rav Ovadiah Yosef Shlita is VERY EMPHATIC [in Yabiah Omer 7/59-60] that the 14th is the day and the 15th may be done only out of doubt [meaning read w/o a bracha]. He adds that even if he is incorrect and the 15th is the correct day it doesn't realy matter because the halacha is that in doubtful cities [such as Ramot] Purim should be celebrated on the 14th. So either the Ramot is an unwalled city and the 14th is the day or it is a doubtful city and the 14th is the day.

Despite this post the Holy Residents of Ramot will celebrate the 15th!

There is not even a "REMOTE" chance that they will do otherwise [pun inteeeeeeeeeeended!!!] - except of course for Chassidei HaRav Ovadiah.

So this post is "lihagdil Torah u'lihaadirah".

Love and Blessings to all.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Don't Be Chicken!

In these trying financial times everybody is looking for safe investments that will assure solid dividends over the loooooooooooooooong term!!

I have a list of such investments!! Sure things! Can't lose! The real deal! No Ponzi and no Fonzi [even though I loved "Happy Days"]!

Here is one such investment. There are many such others. I envy the person who invests wisely. Such a person can sleep comfortably at night knowing that his money is SAFE!!


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