Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Not Just An Airport

The following story happened to Fiorello LaGuardia in 1933: The future mayor of New York was then a presiding judge in police court. A trembling old man was brought before him. The charge: stealing a loaf of bread. The man broke down and conceded his guilt, adding, "What can I do? My family is starving."

LaGuardia turned to the man and said, "I have no recourse but to fine you ten dollars for your crime. He then reached into his pocket and said, "Well, here is ten dollars to pay for your fine." He then proceeded to place a ten dollar bill on the table. "Furthermore, I am going to fine everybody fifty cents for living in a town where a man has to steal bread in order to eat. Will the bailiff please collect the fines and give them to the defendant!"

The bailiff went around the room collecting the fines and gave the defendant the money. The shocked old man who was originally brought to the judge on the charge of stealing, left with tears in his eyes and 47 dollars and fifty cents to help feed his starving family.

Sweetest friends - may we all follow in the compassionate path of this precious Yid.

[Source: Peninim Al HaTorah Vol. 14 Page 13. Thanks to my Mother, zol zein gezunt, who gave me the book.]

Friday, April 24, 2009

Errors Of Commission And Errors Of Omission

Sweetest friends. Go to any shiva home and you will hear the praises of the niftar being sung. I often ask myself - why now? Why not when he was alive and he could have enjoyed the adulation and admiration?! But that is the sad reality. A person is only appreciated after he is gone.

In this weeks parsha we read about a person who is afflicted with tzaraas because he spoke Lashon Hara ["Metzora - Motzi Ra"]. But the Zohar adds a critical point: Not only is a person punished for all of the negative words he spoke. He is also will pay the price for every time he COULD have said something positive and refrained from doing so.

So if you have something nice to say - say it!! And if you don't - think of something.

Love, blessings And Shabbat Shalom!!

A parsha shiur about life and relationships.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Abuse In Our Community - The Trilogy

When we, through our educational culture, through the media, through the entertainment culture, give our children the impression that human beings cannot control their passions, we are telling them, in effect, that human beings cannot be trusted with freedom.

Alan Keyes

I would like to talk about another type of abuse.

Imagine the scene: A mother and father invite a female "professional" and her "friend" to their house one afternoon. They are welcomed in and shown the kids bedroom. Then the parents bring in their children aged 4, 7, 11 and 14. The parents leave the room and the couple begins to act intimately. The children observe this for 45 minutes until the couple finishes. They visit 3 times a week.

Everybody would admit that these parents are unfit to raise children and that these children will grow up, as they say in the vernacular "messed up in the head".

Sweetest friends - What is television? What is the internet? Much worse!! Not just 3 times a week but constantly. And not only acts of sexual immorality - but violence and many other harmful lessons are taught on TV and the internet. I still haven't met ONE PERSON who grew up with a TV whose parents where able to monitor what he watched. When a child has internet in his room - OY VEY. Many people get addicted to pornographic sites, gambling sites etc. etc. and it destroys their lives.

It is abusive, in my humble opinion to allow a child unlimited access to different forms of media. So instead of JUST focusing on the disgusting, villainous sexual molesters in our midst, let us also control what we and our children see.

I must make one last comment. I don't know any parent who intentionally hurts his child. They are just doing what everyone else does. But my hope and prayer is that somehow we can inspire some people to make changes "li'tov lanu kol hayomim".

A related topic which is an EXTREMELY serious problem which is swept under the carpet. Vhamayvin yavin.

Abuse In Our Community - Part 2

"Pure Tzaddikim

Don't complain about evil

Rather they add righteousness

Don't complain about heresy

Rather they add faith

Don't complain about ignorance

Rather they add wisdom"

Rav Kook Zatz"l

Some people enjoy complaining and finding fault. The way of the tzaddikim is to add light. So what can we do? Of course if we know of an offender we must do anything in our power to stop him. If we don't, there is another way.

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. Adults [particularly men - less so with women] are not generally interested in children. In the best case scenario a father is interested in his OWN child. Often - even this is not the case. What I mean by "interested" is engaging the child in conversation, displaying an interest in what he is learning in school, what he is doing for vacation and primarily trying to find ways to make the child feel special. I have observed that an adult will rarely talk to a child for more than a minute or two [except of course for a parent or teacher].

We have to remember that a child's self image is built upon the way the adult world relates to him. If he receives love, caring, encouragement and praise the child feels good about himself. Otherwise he doesn't have the capacity to feel positively [truth be told, many adults are in the same situation].

So, make a child feel loved! Our sources teach us that Hashem feels special love for children. The Kruvim in the Kodesh Kodashim [Holies Of Holies] were in the likeness of children. Children are Kodesh Kodashim. Pure and precious. That is the fact. It is our job to make them feel that way. If you have your own, then start with them. Then move on to your neighbor's and to the kid sitting near you in shul. Remember - you might love your children more than anyone elses but Hashem doesn't! So follow in the path of Hashem and try to love ALL children.

It is not hard. Children are truly lovable!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yom Hashoah

A must listen.

Especially the story at the 44 minute mark!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Strange Fires

Recently we have had a number of posts on FIRE. The Torah is fire - "mimino AISH DAS lamo". If fire is used in the right way it enLIGHTENs, warms and excites. If fire is not used properly, it can be dangerous. That is what happened this week to Nadav and Avihu who brought a "strange fire" which subsequently consumed them.

Marriage, too, is fire [see Sotah 17]. If there is peace there is enlightenment, warmth and excitement. If the fire is misused it turns into the fire of anger and the yetzer hara [see the end of Kiddushin where Rav Amram Chasida called his yetzer hara fire]. May Hashem save us from harmful fires.

Good Shabbos Sweetest Friends!!!!!!!!!!

For those who EAT the following shiur on the parsha may interest you.

Sadly, I inform you that it is no longer necessary to daven for Dovid Chaim Yoseph ben Simma Perel.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Heart Problems

From Rabbi Yitzchak Alderstein on Cross-Currents:

“The heart wants what the heart wants.” – Woody Allen

“The heart has its own rules and ways” – Sheikh Yusef Al-Qaradawi

Qaradawi - is an icon in the Muslim world, and a leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. He is a popular authority on Islamic law on both Al Jazeera and IslamOnline. is the head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), and the president of The International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS). He is a consistent critic of the decadence of the West. He supports suicide bombings, and has ruled that Muslims must boycott American goods. He is barred from entering both the US and the UK, but is supported here by CAIR, which passes itself off as a moderate Islamic defense organization, but has recently been pointed to by the FBI for its terrorist connections.

Qaradawi is 82. Some years ago, he was impressed by the presentation of a student at a school where he lectured. These are his words: “”When I saw her up close, I said [to her]: ‘Praise Allah, who endowed you with physical as well as moral beauty. Allah gave you intelligence, rhetorical ability, an impressive presence, beauty, and a good figure. May Allah bless you, my child, for He has endowed you with talents, eloquence, courage and erudition…”

Ten years ago, at age 72, he took her as a second wife. She was roughly the age of his youngest daughter. The quote above is part of his defense of his actions.

Allen – Woody Allen is the iconic director, actor and writer. In 1997 he married Soon-Yi Previn, who was his adopted daughter (although never officially registered as such) since she was ten. At the time, he was 56 and she was 22. The quote above is part of his defense of his actions.

I [A.E.] add: That is what we say twice daily - "vi'lo sasuru acharei livavchem" - Don't stray after your heart. This pasuk is in Parshas Shelach after the story of the spies. They, too, followed their hearts. They went "latur" es ha'aretz.

We should all be zoche to always follow the laws of goodness and morality - and not just our hearts desires.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

No doubt unity is something to be desired, to be striven for, but it cannot be willed into being by mere declarations.

Theodore Bikel

Find out how to make it HAPPEN!

Or maybe you only had 4 cups at the seder and want more.

Chag Sameach Sweetest Friends!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

First Born

"B'nee Bichoree Yisroel" - The Jewish People are my first born.

The Torah

You can only have one first born child. You may love all your children deeply and with passion, but there is something unique about the first born.

Raymond E. Feist

Tomorrow is Taanis Bechorim. Strange. Normally, on a regular fast day, when I break my fast I have to continue fasting. But on Erev Pesach by virtue of the siyum the bechorim may eat not only as part of the siyum but ALL DAY. I would say - have a seuda after the siyum but fast the rest of the day. Why does the Shulchan Aruch say differently??

See the brilliant answer of the Shu"t Eretz Tzvi in Simman 79 and the comments of Rav Frank in Mikraei Kodesh Vol. 2 Page 83.

Love and blessings!!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Please Help!

Please daven for Dovid Chaim Yoseph ben Sima Perel [bisoch she'ar cholei yisroel] who is a 20 year old boy on life support. He desperately needs our tefilos!

Thank you and tizku l'mitzvos!!!

Flying Pudding

Rabbi Avraham Baharan was a famous educator in Israel. I recently read a story he told about his youth.

He was 10 years old and a student at the Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah. There was a rule in the lunchroom of the school. The students were only allowed to receive a second helping of pudding if everybody else had already ready received a portion. One day he wanted MORE! The lady in the kitchen refused his request as not everybody had received. So, in order to exhibit his displeasure, he overturned the entire pot that contained the pudding and the pudding FLEW! The lady screamed and shouted at him. She was no happy camper. Boy, did he get it. He was then told that the next day he was to see the Mashgiach of the Talmud Torah. Uh oh!

That night he was so scared that he couldn't sleep. The next day he showed up in the small, simple office of the Mashgiach, Rabbi Aryeh Levin Ztz"l [whose Yahrtzeit is the ninth of Nissan]. He was shaking! The Rav said to him "I hear that you like pudding?" "Yes." "So here is a bowl of pudding for you to enjoy."

That, says Rabbi Baharan, was his first lesson in education.

Halevai that we should have more educators like that.

A thought for Pesach - the holiday of Chinuch.

Love and blessings!!

PS - A shiur on Shechting Your Bed!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Turtles And Commandments

I am now a turtle. Virtually everything I own is on my back and suffice it to say I am one ton lighter and therefore 2,000 pounds happier. All houses are gone.

Bobby Darin

This weeks Parsha is Tzav. Tzav can mean "Command". It can also mean "Turtle".

My favorite vort for Parshas Tzav - "Vi'haesh al hamizbeach tookad bo" - The fire on the Mizbeach should burn [literally] on it. But it can also be translated "bo" - in the Kohen. The Kohen has to be on fire!!

In this vein - a shiur for SHABBOS HAGADOL.

Good Shabbos Beloved Friends!!!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Live It

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

Henry David Thoreau

What Reb Henry says about a book - we may apply to the coming holiday. After the Pesach Seder and the EXPERIENCE of Yetzias Mitzraim [which is what the Seder is all about] ends - we must LIVE the lessons learned. It is not enough to remember the matza balls and fun songs.

After Pesach you should permanently be a different person. Higher, holier, more free, happier - and not just fatter.

Love and blessings to all!!

The Unparalleled Simcha Of Pesach. Don't listen if you want to be unhappy on Pesach.

And a shiur from a book that is truly frightening.

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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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