Friday, July 31, 2009

The Last Class

Powerful story reprinted with permission from

The clock ticked inexorably toward Shabbos as Rabbi Yaacov Haber put the finishing touches on his preparations. Another hour or so, he assessed, and he would be finished. As he leafed through a brand new sefer searching for a quote he would utilize in his Shabbos morning sermon, the insistent ring of the phone pulled him away from his task.

“Rabbi Haber?” the voice on the other end asked hopefully. “Yes, it is. Who’s calling?” “It’s Jarom Haber,” said the caller. “I live here in Monsey and really must speak to you right away. Could I come over today?” (I assumed that the purpose of the call was to compare notes from Galicia and figure out whether we are related. Although this is a task I enjoy - Friday afternoon just wasn’t the time. When I tried to make an appointment for the following week he became desperate.)

Hearing the desperate edge in the caller’s voice, Rabbi Haber began quickly weighing the possibility of fitting one more item on his Erev Shabbos agenda. Alas, it appeared impossible. “I’d be happy to speak to you,” Rabbi Haber told the caller. “But today will not be possible. How about Sunday?”

“No, Rabbi, I’m sorry, but this really can’t wait,” Jarom replied firmly. “I need to speak to you today.” Clearly, Jarom Haber, whoever he was, would not be taking “no” for an answer. “In that case,” Rabbi Haber conceded, “come right over.” He gave Jarom his address and returned to his work, hoping he would be able to finish in the half-hour it would take for Jarom to reach him. Methodically recalling the names and faces of former members of his Monsey shul, he tried to put a face to the name Jarom Haber. However, he had no memory of anyone by that name. The mystery was soon settled by Jarom’s arrival. Entering the foreign territory of the Rabbi’s study, Jarom appeared a bit tenuous. His tall, broad frame was a bit stooped, as if he were carrying a heavy bundle on his back. Yet one could see that such was not his normal bearing; his direct, blue-eyed gaze, the thick, tousled shock of sandy brown hair and deep laugh lines framing his mouth created the image of an energetic, self-assured man.

“I hope this isn’t too much of an inconvenience,” Jarom began. “I realized on the way over here that Friday afternoon is probably a busy time for a Rabbi. But I won’t take too long. I just have one question to ask.” “It’s no problem,” Rabbi Haber assured him. “Have a seat and tell me what I can do for you.”

“Well, I just have to preface it by explaining to you that even though I was born Jewish, I am an atheist. Not just an atheist, but you might say I’m a professional atheist. I’m a professor at Rockland Community College, and I teach courses on atheism. In fact, I’ve written several books on atheism. The reason I came to you is because this morning, I went to my doctor to receive the results of some tests, and he informed me that I have pancreatic cancer. I don’t know if you know anything about pancreatic cancer, but it has an almost-zero survival rate, and mine is already in a very advanced stage. In a few weeks or at best, a few months, I’ll be finished. There’s nothing for me to do about it."

“Here is my dilemma. What I really want to do now is to pray. My problem, of course, is that I don’t know how I can possibly pray. How can an atheist pray? Who would I pray to? I am the proverbial ‘athiest in a fox hole’, I want to pray but I really can’t. I’ve been hearing about you from some of my neighbors and I thought that you might be able to advise me. What should I do?”

Observing the lively spark in Jarom’s eyes as he spoke, Rabbi Haber could hardly believe that he was speaking to a terminally ill man. Nevertheless, he was aware that this particular disease often progressed rapidly, and he had no doubt that the situation was dire. Jarom was like a drowning man struggling to find something to hold onto, begging Rabbi Haber to throw him a lifeline. “What comfort is there for an atheist facing death?” the Rabbi wondered. “How alone he must feel with his fears and pain!” Regardless of Jarom’s lifelong misconceptions, however, Rabbi Haber knew that G-d was indeed there for him. The challenge was to convince Jarom that this was so; that he, like any other person born into this world, had the ability to call out to G-d for help.

“Tell me something, Jarom,” Rabbi Haber said. “When you say you’re an atheist, what exactly do you mean? Are you saying that you are 100 percent certain that there is no such thing as G-d? Or is there perhaps a small 5% window of possibility that you may be wrong? “

Jarom drummed his fingers on the armrest of his chair and rolled his eyes upward as if searching the ceiling for an answer to the question. He had never considered his level of certainty about his beliefs. Now, using nothing but his own considerable power of logic, he had to admit that his atheism (or anything else for that matter) was not a 100 percent certainty. If it were, why would he be sitting in a rabbi’s office? “Well, I guess I could say that there’s a five percent possibility that there’s a G-d,” Jarom replied cautiously, as if the very proclamation might cause some unseen cosmic cataclysm. These were not words he had ever expected to hear from his own mouth.

“Good!” Rabbi Haber declared. “So here’s what I want you to do. Pray through that window that is open 5 percent. Aim your prayers there, and I am sure they will reach G-d.”
The Rabbi’s words painted a picture in Jarom’s mind. There was a splendid palace, and Jarom stood outside it, facing a window that was open just a few inches. From that little crack at the bottom, Jarom could sense the majesty and power residing within. He didn’t own a key to the palace; the guards didn’t know him at the gate, but he would pray through that narrow opening, and his words would be heard. Jarom Haber’s words would reach the ears of G-d. Jarom’s cool façade crumbled as he pictured himself, a lost child trying to get his Father’s attention, calling through the window from outside.

His eyes instantly overflowed with tears and he began to cry aloud, “I can pray! Thank you, Rabbi. There’s a way for me to pray.” Rabbi Haber sat quietly watching this troubled man gratefully grab the lifeline he had been thrown. Jarom regained his composure and turned urgently to the Rabbi once again. “What will I say, Rabbi? Even if I can pray, even if G-d will listen to me, I don’t know what to say!”

“Do you know how to read Hebrew?” asked Rabbi Haber. Thanks to a few years of Hebrew school in Jarom’s pre-bar mitzvah years, he had indeed learned alef-bais. With a small measure of pride, he answered, “Yes, I do.” “Alright,” said Rabbi Haber. He took a slim volume of Tehilim off the top of his desk and handed it to Jarom. “Let’s start right now, then, by saying this chapter of Tehilim.” Jarom took the sefer into his hands. He had handled thousands of books in his life as an academic; some of the volumes were rare antiques. Yet now, handling a simple volume of Tehilim, his hands trembled. He began to haltingly read the chapter Rabbi Haber designated, all the while imagining that slightly open window, and hoping that inside the palace, his praises were being received with pleasure.
When Jarom finished his recitation, Rabbi Haber helped him understand the meaning of what he had said. The words were full of encouragement and comfort, stirring in Jarom the beginnings of a sense of trust in G-d. No longer was the issue whether or not G-d existed; he had prayed and felt certain that his words were heard. Now the issue was how to build a relationship with G-d in the short time he had left.

“I think the most important thing we could do at this point is to learn some Torah together,” Rabbi Haber suggested. Jarom agreed, and they arranged to spend 15 to 20 minutes a day learning. “What is it that you would like to learn Jarom?” Jarom had no ready answer. He was not sure where to find what he felt he needed in this crucial period of his life. He wanted a little time to consider the possibilities. On Sunday morning, Jarom called Rabbi Haber. He had done some reading and some thinking, and had decided. “I want to learn the laws of repentance,” he told the Rabbi with conviction. Rabbi Haber was moved by the man’s sincerity. Indeed, all he wanted now was to get his affairs in order both in this world and the next. Like a man moving to a new home after many long years, Jarom wanted to shed all the useless items he had accumulated and go forward carrying only that which he would need.

Starting that day, Rabbi Haber and Jarom became learning partners, poring over the Rambam’s laws of Teshuvah (repentance) with depth and focus. Jarom’s scholarly abilities were turned in a new direction, exactly 180 degrees opposite of the path he had pursued throughout his life. Rabbi Haber enjoyed the challenge of Jarom’s insightful questions, and marveled at his quick grasp of the concepts they learned together.

As expected, Jarom grew weaker by the day. His athletic build began to shrivel, his posture to droop; his bright, intense eyes contrasted eerily with his pale face. Finally, too weak to deliver his lectures, he was forced to resign his teaching position. Nevertheless, Jarom persisted in his journey toward G-d. He purchased tzitzis and a yarmulke and began to wear them. Every day, he put on his tefillin and prayed as well as he could, injecting the overflowing contents of his heart into the Hebrew words he was just beginning to master. Rabbi Haber watched with mixed emotions as his new student’s Torah learning blossomed and flourished, and his physical presence withered away.

One morning, as Rabbi Haber and Jarom learned together, they reached a point in the Rambam’s work that describes the process of complete Teshuvah. “The final step,” Rabbi Haber explained, “is when a person has the opportunity to commit the same sin again, but he holds himself back and refrains from doing it.” “There isn’t enough time left in my life for me to revisit every sin I’ve committed,” Jarom commented somberly. “I wish there was some way I could do a complete Teshuvahh, but I’m afraid that’s just never going to happen.” The weeks passed quickly, and as they did, Jarom’s condition deteriorated further. He and Rabbi Haber completed their study of the Rambam’s work, but Jarom continued to pay frequent visits to his mentor.
One day, Jarom walked into Rabbi Haber’s study looking more energized than he had in weeks. “Rabbi, I’ve got it!” he exulted. “I figured it out! I found a way that I can do complete Teshuvah!” “That’s great!” Rabbi Haber responded. “What do you have in mind?”

“I called up the college where I had been teaching for all these years and I asked them if I could give one final class before I die. Well, of course they couldn’t say no to a request like that, so they are letting me give a lecture.” “That will be great, but what does it have to do with complete Teshuvah?” Rabbi Haber asked. “I am calling my lecture ‘The Last Class.’ With this lecture, I am going to prove to the students that (absolute) atheism is false, and I am going to prove to them that there is a (strong possibility of) G-d. I am going to do Teshuvah just as the Rambam describes it: the same place, same situation, but this time, instead of turning people away from G-d, I am going to teach them that Hashem is the Master of the World.”

A few days later, Jarom arrived at Rockland Community College to speak to the students. Standing in front of the lecture hall, the once vibrant professor was gaunt and tired looking. But when he called the class to order and began to speak, his passion for his subject opened up new reserves of strength within him. If the class had come in expecting the raspy whispers of a dying man, they would be taken aback by the clear, bold words Jarom was speaking. “Everywhere you look around you, you can see there is a Creator who designed the world,” he told them. “If you pay any attention at all to your life – to the people you meet and the things that happen to you and to others, it is clear that (there is at least a possibility that) G-d is running things. Even if you can’t be so sure, you cannot prove beyond a doubt that there is no G-d. Hold open a small window of possibility – a five percent chance – that there is a G-d,” he urged his students. “And make it your business to pray to Him. Pray through that small window you’ve left for yourself, and you will find, as I have, that it opens wider and wider for you. You’ll find some day that G-d has become a certainty in your life – that he’s there for you 100 percent.”

A few weeks later Jarom passed away. He left this world as a Torah Jew whose lips had uttered prayers, whose keen mind had been rededicated to Torah learning, and whose longing for repentance had been satisfied.

Rabbi Haber said in his public address at Jarom’s funeral, “Jarom Haber died as a great Jew.and his story is a lesson for all of us”.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beacon Of Light

A story related by Rav Yosef Soloveitchik Shlita [of the Rova].

This Tisha b'av, I was reading the autobiography, entitled "Bas Ami," of Hadassah Levine, H"YD, a great Tzaddekes, a Kedosha, who went through the gehinom of the shoah, recorded the events, and shortly afterwards died of tuberculosis. May Hashem avenge her blood and the blood of all the Kedoshei Elyon.

She was present in the Telzer camp, on the spot when all the men were brutally shot by the german and lithuanian men-beasts. By the fresh mass grave she cried Kaddish and read out the perek lamed-zayin in Yechezkel about Tchiyas Hamaisim. What gave her the strength to continue?

That night, she describes how, utterly numbed and exhausted, her spirit broken, Hadassah fell asleep... and beheld a wondrous and astonishing dream, a spectacle of splendour and of awe, a vision not of this world. A great, great clear and bright light filled the barn in which she was interned. She shut her eyes. The deceased were rising from their graves!! All the men, all the nation. They were shaking off the earth from their clothes, a huge, huge multitude of people!!


This awesome vision gave her strength to withstand her further sufferings and trials.

Let Hadassah Levine's faith be a beacon of light to us.
May Hashem avenge the blood of all His faithful servants.

Ehrman Promotes Flick!!

A good watch. Extra credit if you figure out who my brother is [he doesn't look like me - much better looking].

A side benefit will be that we should become more sensitive to the plight of those poor children portrayed in the movie.

Chazal teach us that the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov are noted by their trait of compassion.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Interesting Question

What does an Ashkenazi frog say?

Ribbis, Ribbis.

Which brings us to a fascinating halacha about interest - known in the Beis Medrash as "Ribbis". The Magen Avraham [242/2 based on the Talmud Yerushalmi in Moed Kattan Perek 2 Halacha 3], rules that one is allowed to borrow money with ribbis in order to purchase food for Shabbos. That is revolutionary! Ribbis is no less than an biblical prohibition!!

So the Machatzis Hashekel brings things back to the realm of normalcy and says that the Magen Avraham meant that one is allowed to borrow money from a GENTILE with ribbis for Shabbos [which is otherwise halachically problematic - see S"A Yo"D 159/1], but from a Jew it is completely forbidden to do so.

Many other poskim [such as the Shulchan Aruch Harav 242/9] rule that it is permitted to borrow with ribbis that is only prohibited rabbinically [such as when one doesn't explicitly set the amount in advance - known as "Ribbis Ketzutza" see Rambam Hil. Malve Vilove 6/3].

However many others take the Magen Avraham at face value and say that it is even permitted to borrow Ribbis Ketzutza for the sake of Shabbos meals.


[Major Machlokes]

See Yesodei Yeshurun Maareches Erev Shabbos Page 22.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Lesson Not Learned


People just don't get the idea!!

Some Jews NEVER miss a davening, learn daily and ... steal. What does Hashem think? Well, this past Shabbos in the Haftora we read about Yishayahu telling us in the name of G-d the He just isn't interested in the "spiritual stuff" if people aren't honest.

Thousands of years have passed and his words still resonate. But some people [WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER] relegate Hashem to the shuls and Batei Midrash [until their cell phone rings - then unfortunately it doesn't matter that they are in a shul] and in monetary matters they are - to call a spade a spade - GANOVIM.

Sweetest friends - something else to mourn about over the nine days.

Indeed, Rava said that Yerushalayim was destroyed because of dishonesty.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Destroying That Is Building

The Torah commands us to destroy idols and houses of idol worship and concludes "lo taasun keyn lashem Elokeichem" - don't do this to Hashem. Meaning - it is forbidden to destroy a Jewish house of worship. This includes all shuls and of course the Beis Hamikdash. So the question cries out to the heavens: The Medrash says that Hashem keeps the mitzvos [and that is what it means when we say "asher kiddishanu bi'mitzvosav" - He sanctifed us with HIS mitzvos], so how could He transgress the prohibition of destroying the Beis Hamikdash? Spiritually, HE did it [see, for example Berachos 3a, seven lines from the bottom] - the goyim were merely messangers of Hashem.

Rav Leibel Schapiro gave the following explanation: Let's say I want to renovate a shul. The halacha is that I am allowed to destroy it in order to rebuild it in a more beautiful way. That is called "soser al minas livnos". The act of destroying is really viewed as an act of BUILDING! The gemara in Megilla says that when zekainim [elders] destroy they are really building. A fortiori ["kal vachomer" in the Talmudic vernacular] when Hashem destroys, certainly it is in order to build.

On Tisha B'av when the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed it was really the first step in the building of the Third Beis Hamikdash and the ultimate redemption. So is Tisha B'av a good day or a bad day? Both! [Such a Jewish answer]. Are birth pangs good or bad? They hurt, but hey, no birth pangs - no baby! That is why the gemara in Taanis calls Tisha B'av a "mo'ed" - a holiday. A holiday? Yes, a holiday. As I pointed out in a previous piece - on Tisha B'av we don't say Tachanun because on a deep level it is a happy day. [For some people I know, there is no greater way to enhance their simcha than by skipping tachanun. The sense of ELATION people feel when someone bangs on the bimah after chazaras hashatz and calls out "kaddish" [meaning "no tachanun"] is palpable!!]

This is why, explains Rabbi Zev Hoberman in his "Zev Yitrof", the Navi promises that our fast days will one day in the future turn into "sasson visimcha". Yes, friends, days of great joy and not merely regular days like any other. We will understand in retrospect how these days - the saddest days of the year - were really the times when the seeds were planted for the ultimate redemption.

This of course also explains Rebbe Akivas laughter [at the end of Masseches Makos] upon seeing a fox walking on Har Habayis. What is so funny? Why do we laugh? We laugh when the unexpected happens, when everything turns around. That is the secret of a good punchline in a joke. [Example: I went to the cinema, and the prices were: Adults $5.00, children $2.50. So I said, "Give me two boys and a girl." Or another - I bought used paint. It came in the shape of a house. One more: I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time." So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.] Rebbe Akiva was able to look into the future and see how all of the destruction was really the beginning of the building. What looked so horrible was really the greatest blessing.

Maybe that is why the story appears in Maseches Makkos. To teach us that all of the Makkos we receive in life are all part of our building process. Without suffering there is no growth. Punishment from Hashem is a means to enable us to reach greater heights. It is an act of love.

That also explains why the keruvim in the Kodesh Hakodoshim were found in an embrace at the time of the destruction, expressing Hashem's love for us [see Yoma 44]. Love, now?

Yes, love now.

May we all be zoche to recognize how all of the difficulties we face individually and as a nation are really the greatest blessings.

כתוב בגמרא, וכל המתאבל על ירושלים - זוכה ורואה בשמחתה, לא כתוב "יזכה ויראה" בלשון עתיד אלא "זוכה ורואה" בלשון הווה - במבט מעמיק כמו שזכה לו רבי עקיבא, אפשר כבר היום לראות את השמחה וניצני הגאולה

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Little Bird Is Calling


My family had a little bird! A canary to be precise. I would rather have a baby [you can daven for Elchanan ben Henna Miriam] but in the meantime we will have to make do with the little bird that we bought for our son Simcha [known during the nine days as "Atzvus"]. I was reminded of the song "The Little Bird Is Calling". Here are the lyrics:

The Little Bird Is Calling

The little bird is calling
It wishes to return
The little bird is wounded
It cannot fly, but yearns
It’s captured by the vultures
Crying bitterly
Oh, to see my nest again
Oh, to be free.

The little bird of silver
So delicate and rare
Still chirps among the vultures
Outshining all that’s there
How long, how long, it suffers
How long will it be
Oh, when will come the eagle
And set the little bird free.

The little bird is Yisroel
The vultures are our foes
The painful wound is Golus
Which we all feel and know
The nest is Yerusholayim
Where we yearn to be, once more
And the eagle is Moshiach
Whom we are waiting for.

If you would like to purchase the song as performed by my favorite chazzan EVER, click here.

Man Bites Dog!!

Shalom sweetest friends!!

The old joke goes that if a dog bites a man that is not material for a newspaper story, but if a man bites a dog - THAT is a story.

So many people are talking about the Charedim who are staging violent protests. Well, let me tell you another story. Today, I met a father of ten who had a leg amputated a number of years ago. Now his other leg is in bad shape and he recently spent an extended period of time in the hospital. He related with such delight that one day his entire daf yomi shiur went to the hospital and the shiur was conducted there. An act of loving kindness! Why isn't THAT in the newspapers? There are thousands upon thousands of such acts that occur every day! Like the woman in the Old City who has 11 of her own [including one with Downs Syndrome] who took it upon herself to take care of a man in her building who was sick with cancer - without in any way neglecting her family!

I could go on and on. But suffice it to say that there is SO MUCH positive behavior out there. So why aren't they reporting it??

Maybe because a man dressed funny spitting on a policemen and another one burning a garbage can will sell more papers.

Doesn't that say something about our society?

Now that we are on the topic, let me add: A gossipy magazine like People sells more copies that Time [or so I read]. Look at the popularity of Facebook, internet, popular entertainment, pro sports etc. etc. Who are the worlds heroes? Righteous people or entertainers who are so morally depraved, so decadent, that I simply lack the vocabulary to properly characterize the sickness of their tortured souls [I of course am not referring to anybody specific who recently died..]

Sweetest friends, we are living in a dark world.


Let us pray that the world have a refuah shleima with the coming of Moshiach!!!!!

[PS - It goes without saying that my words are in no way a justification for men who act like hooligans. The Rambam says that the purpose of Torah is to bring peace and pleasantness to the world (See the end of Hilchos Chanukah).]

Monday, July 20, 2009

Emunah Chushis

"The idea of eternity lives in all of us. We thirst to live in a belief which raises our small personality to a higher coherence - a coherence which is human and yet superhuman, absolute and yet steadily growing and developing, ideal and yet real."

Noah was a complete tzaddik! How do we know this? Because the pasuk in the Torah with Unkelus tells us so! "Noah Ish Tzaddik - Gvar zakai shlim". A Tzaddik Shalem!!

That being the case how do we explain the fact that later on the Torah tells us that Noach didn't want to go into the ark because he was of small faith. He wasn't completely sure that the mabul would actually come. So he only entered when the water forced him to do so [7/7 with Rashi].

The Navi defines a Tzaddik as one who LIVES by his faith. "Tzaddik biemunaso yichye" - The chiyus, the vitality, of a Tzaddik is his faith. So how is it that a Tzaddik such as Noach was of small faith??

???????? [Such a good question I wanted to give an individual paragraph to the question marks.]

The Mussar Masters [Rav Henach Leibowitz and others] derive a lesson from here that is the very building block of our spiritual existence. There is such a thing as Emunah Chushis [sensory, concrete faith] and something else called Emunah Sichlis [intellectual faith]. Noach had Emunah Sichlis - but it wasn't REAL enough. It remained to much in the realm of the abstract. He was lacking in Emunah Chushis.

Sweetest friends - all of us have Emunah Sichlis. But what EVERYBODY needs to work on is Emunah Chushis. That G-d should no less real and present than you yourself. One should feel that if he does an aveirah it means he will lose all of his money and his right arm. A second aveirah - left arm and kidneys. G-d is REAL. Not just a fairytale. Reward and punishment is also real. Just because it doesn't happen immediately doesn't mean it is not going to happen. The consequences of our actions are eternal. Forever. la'NETZAAAAAACH!!

When one does a mitzva he should feel tremendously elated!! A MITZVA! WOW! I connected to the Source of all Goodness. G-d Himself. We are now connected FOREVER! Pleasure that cannot be described by the feeble medium of language. All for one small act. How many mitzvos do we perform every day? Thousands and thousands!! Every word of Torah and tefilla, every second that we are wearing tzitzis, every second we are in Israel [if we are lucky enough to be here], every time a mother does a small act of chessed for her child etc. etc.

Sweetest friends, the upshot of our words is that if one has Emunah Chushis he will live a life of constant unremitting simcha. Believe your actions have meaning and you will be happy. If you do something wrong, no problemo, Chico [sorry for calling you "Chico", I got carried away], you can fix it! We call that "Teshuva". Proper teshuva turns aveiros into mitzvos.

With hard work we can get there. We can make G-d real. Not like the planet Mars - something I believe is out there but that has no real affect on my life but something concrete, omnipresent and omniscient.

The Source Of All Existence.

יה"ר שנזכה לעלות מעלה מעלה באמונה טהורה יציבה ואיתנה בבורא כל העולמים

Leaving A Wedding Feast Early

There you are at a wedding. What a BIG mitzvah!! Anyone who gladdens the chassan is as if he built one of the destroyed parts of Yerushalayim. You wait for the Shmorg to end so that the Chuppah will begin. Then finally everybody sits down with their playbill including all of the important information – who is walking down the aisle and two tefillos - one for the coming of Moshiach and [la'havdil many, many havdalos] another one that the Chicago Cubs should finally win a World Series after over a hundred year drought.

All cellphones are turned off [except for one that goes off three times]. Everybody walks SLOOOOOOOWLY down the aisle and FINALLY the Kallah make her grand entrance. Truly a "Kallah naeh vichasudah." Then the brachos, reading of the kesubah, speech of the mesader kiddushin ["Baruch is the name of the Chassan and Bracha is the name of the Kallah. You probably don't know that because you call them Brian and Lisa. I know that because I had to prepare this speech. Both of their names mean "blessing". This will certainly be a "blessed" union. Especially if Brian listens to his in-laws and goes law school so he can graduate and start billing people for 250 dollars an hour. This will bring much blessing to the house."] and more brachos. The glass is broken [on the fourth try..], hugs and kisses are given and off to the yichud room.

The halacha says that they must be in the room for approximately 9 minutes. People are machmir and stay for about 50 minutes and since it is lonely in there, for much of the time they invite the photographer to join them and together with their families take pictures. And more pictures. They already spent 3 hours before the wedding taking pictures - but that doesn't count. At that time the couple was still single. Now they are a married couple. MAZEL TOV!!

But now it is getting late – and you have to get up tomorrow morning for work. You have already eaten 3 courses [not including the 4 helpings at the Shmorg] and are full. Finally, the excitement builds. The Chassan and Kallah are about to make their grand entrance!

Ahhhhh, fake-out breakout. Nothing doing. They still have to photograph Uncle Marty and Aunt Roza [who haven't spoken in 15 years]. Beautiful! "Aunt Roza" – says the photographer, "could you get a little closer to your brother Marty?" "No!!" she answers.

FINALLY. The band starts playing a Yiddishe Niggun with a catchy beat [such as "The Final Countdown" from the Swedish hard rock band "Europe"] and everybody runs to the door to welcome them. The lead singer cries out "Please welcome, for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Brian – uhhh, I mean Baruch and Bracha Steinkreizshwartzfeldberg."

The dancing begins. Leibidik!!!! A half hour later your wife says to you, "When are we going home?" You want to go home. She wants to go home. You have to get to work tomorrow. She does, too. Try paying Yeshiva tuitions on one salary!! But you have TWO halachic problems.

Number one: You are obligated to hear the sheva brachos at the end of the meal. Number two: You have to make a zimmun. Ten people that started eating together must make a zimmun. Do you have to stay until the end?

This is a common problem and is discussed by the Poskim. There is a way to avoid the two problems. Solution to Problem One: Many poskim say that one is only obligated to hear the sheva brachos if he BENTCHED with everybody else. So if one leaves earlier he is not obligated.

Problem Two: The Rema [293/3] says that if a group sat down and had in mind from the beginning that they would not make a zimmun together they are not obligated to do so. Rav Moshe Feinstein extends this [Igros Moshe O"H 1/56] to our case and says that even if an individual does not intend to make a zimmun from the very beginning he is not obligated to do so. One can make a distinction between our case and the Rema's case. The Rema was talking about a case when ALL of the people intended not to make a zimmun as opposed to our case where only an individual had such intentions. But Rav Moshe doesn't make this distinction. So that is what one should do. When making hamotzi at the beginning of the meal, he should intend to bentch alone.

If he can get three people together – even better! But one should not do it PUBLICLY in such a way that those who are making the Simcha are offended. It should be done discreetly!

One more point – if one isn't going home because he NEEDS to [either for work or to learn etc.] then it is nice to remain until the end. The longer one stays – the greater the mitzvah! Plus, you get a bonus!


[Sources: Tzitz Eliezer 11/84, Igros Moshe O"H 1/ 56, Tshuvos Vihanhagos 1/742 and 3/402 and Piskei Tshuvos 2 Page 737]

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Erasing Hashem's Name

The pasuk teaches us in Paeshas Re'ah that one should destroy idols but it is forbidden to do so to holy items ["lo taasun keyn lashem Elokeichem" – 12/3].

The Mishna in Gittin [32a] teaches that a husband may void a get that he wrote for his wife [I call it the sugya of " 'Get' out of here"]. Is it possible for a sofer stam to void a sefer Torah that he wrote [by nerbally declaring it unholy - shealeh bashem]?

Interesting question! Tosphos [Gittin 32b] thought of it already and they ruled NO! It doesn't work. Some suggest that if it would be effective [against the opinon of Toshphos] to nullify the holiness of the sefer Torah, then one who does so, would be guilty of erasing G-d's holy name. The Rav Yosef Engel compares this to uprooting ones declaration of Terumah. Such a person is guilty of the sin of "meabeid Terumah" – destroying Terumah. The Rogchover agrees that it is a no-no.

The Shulchan Melachim writes that it is possible that if one writes the name of Hashem it is permitted to nullify it within two seconds of the writing [affectionately known in Talmudic literature as "toch kidei dibbur"] but after this time has elapsed "eeeeeeeee" buzzer sounds and it is too late.

The Minchas Chinuch [437/11] derives from the aforementioned Tosphos that only with a verbal declaration it is impossible to nullify the name of G-d that was written lishmah. But if one would do a maaseh [concrete act] then it would be effective. An example of this would be adding a letter to the name or filling in dots [nekodot]. See there.

The Kli Chemdah [page 66] suggests that if we assume that it is POSSIBLE to uproot the holiness of G-d's name, it would be PERMITTED do so. A proof for this is the halacha that one may uproot a declaration of his possessions to the Beis Hamikdash [sheailah bi'hekdesh] and there is no prohibition of destroying kedusha ["lo taasun keyn"]. Similarly, asserts the Kli Chemda, it is permitted to uproot the sanctity of G-d's name in a sefer Torah.

In conclusion there is a dispute if it is permitted to uproot the holiness of a sefer torah [if we assume that such an act is possible]. According to Rav Yosef Engel and The Rogochover Gaon – it is forbidden. According to the Kli Chemdah it is permitted.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Change Direction

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

Lao Tzu

Sweetest Friends! A Jew must never be content with his spiritual state. We pine for shleimus - spiritual perfection. To begin to approach that perfection we need to take stock of our life and we may well conclude that in certain areas we need a change. A change in direction. It is often hard but much better than the alternative.


May Hashem give us the koach to change.

And to remember the serenity prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

[Feel free to fill me in, in the comments section.]

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Freilichin Tisha B'av!

A revised version of an earlier post:

A parable given by Rabbi Lau [based on what he heard from Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Herzog]:

Imagine an Olympic aircraft arriving at Athens airport. An old man from the aircraft has received permission to leave the aircraft and sightsee in his home city. This old man has permission from heaven to come and see Athens.

One of the workers at the airport climbs the ladder and asks if he can be of help. “Who are you?” asks the worker. “I am Socrates, the philosopher of Athens.” The worker starts to speak to him, but they have no common language. Oh, they speak Greek, but it’s not the same Greek. It’s not the same language at all. The classic Greek of Socrates and the Greek of today are not the same language.

There is a translator. Socrates asks, “Where is the Acropolis?”

“In Ruins.”

“The Temple of Zeus?”

“There is no Temple of Zeus in Greece. There is a church. A Greek Orthodox Church. But it belongs to Christianity.

“There is no Neptune, no Mars, no Aphrodite, no Helen. Nothing of this kind. Only Christianity.”

“How many countries are under the dominion and control of Greece?”

“None. Greece is a small country in NATO.”

“What are we number one in? Sports? The Marathon? Olympia? Philosophy?”

“No. Just a country.”

Sorry, it is not the same language, not the same religion, not the same power, not an empire at all. The Greece of Komnenos and Papandreou is not the Greece of Socrates, Aristotle or Plato. There is nothing in common. Nothing in common except geography.

An Alitalia flight stops in Fiumicino airport near Rome, and an old guy deplanes. The worker climbs up the ladder. “May I help you? Who are you?”

“Julius Caesar. Veni, vidi vici.”

“May I help you?”

He doesn’t understand the question. The Latin language of Caesar and the Italian language of today are not the same language. Not the same at all.

“Will you take me to the Temple of Jupiter?”

“Who is Jupiter? We have a Vatican here.”

“What is a Vatican?”

“It’s a church. Another religion. Catholicism. There is a Pope from Germany. Yesterday he was from Poland. Not an Italian. No Jupiter.”

“The Coliseum?”

“It is in ruins.”

“Gallia — later-on France — still belongs to Roma?”

“Not at all. France is Chirac. Rome is Parodi. Yesterday Berlusconi.”

“What are the countries that are under our control? Abyssinia? Angola?”

“None of them. Italy is also a state in the Allies of NATO.

“What are we number one in?”

“No field of expertise. The Rome of Caesar and the Rome of Fellini are not the same.”

So these two personalities come to visit their own home cities. But it was not the home as they knew it.


Near Tel Aviv an El Al plane lands. An old man stands up and waits at the door. A worker from Ben Gurion Airport sees a man with a white beard. He climbs up the ladder. “Shalom Aleichem,” the worker says.

The man answers, “Aleichem Shalom.”

“It’s an honor to meet you,” says the worker.

“I am Moshe,” the old man says.

“I am also Moshe,” says the worker. “I was born in Tbilisi, in Georgia.”

“And I was born in Egypt.”

“Did you visit Israel before?”

“Unfortunately never.”

“So it’s not your homeland.”

“It is my homeland. I received a promise from the Almighty to give it to you. Are you Jewish?”

“Of course I’m Jewish. Ani Mosheke m’Gruzia.

“May I ask you a favor?”

The worker says, “Whatever you want.”

“I have come to sightsee. I have 24 hours to visit Israel and I didn’t have a chance to take tefillin with me. Do you know where it’s possible to get tefillin?”

“Tefillin? I’ll give you mine.”

“You have tefillin?”

“Of course I have tefillin,” and he shows them to him. “Only half an hour ago I finished davening Shacharis.”

“And you also have a tallis with tzitzis?”

“Of course.”

“Tallis? Tefillin?”

“Here we have a synagogue. Even three. In the new airport. Three synagogues in the terminal. You want to daven nusach sefard, ashkenaz, chassidim, misnagdim? All the words that Moshe told us 3,300 years ago are here before our very eyes.”

And the old man kisses the mezuzah. He wrote it.

The Torah is forever. Everything else is a passing fancy.

Let us quote Pascal: "It is certain that in certain parts of the world we can see a peculiar people, separated from the other peoples of the world, and this is called the Jewish people . . . This people is not only of remarkable antiquity but has also lasted for a singularly long time . . . For whereas the peoples of Greece and Italy, of Sparta, Athens and Rome, and others who came so much later have perished so long ago, these still exist, despite the efforts of so many powerful kings who have tried a hundred times to wipe them out, as their historians testify, and as can easily be judged by the natural order of things over such a long spell of years. They have always been preserved, however, and their preservation was foretold . . . My encounter with this people amazes me".

During the three weeks we relive the past destruction of the Batei Mikdash and [particularly on Tisha B'av] we commemorate other horrible catastrophes that we have endured, such as the Holocaust. This is a reason for great mourning - but paradoxically it is also a reason for great joy! After everything - we are still here!! The joy we feel is not a contradiction to the pain we experience. One can be joyful and sad simultaneously. An example of this is the halacha that when a relative dies and one receives an inheritance, he make two brachos - dayan haemes and ... hatov vihameitiv. Dayan haemes on the sadness of death and hatov vihameitiv on the 20 million dollars that the dearly departed bequethed [I heard this example from Mori ViRabbi Shlita HaAdmor MiTolna]. So is the person happy or sad? The answer, BOTH [so Jewish!].

So too, on Tisha B'av we should feel the intense pain of our spiritual impoverishment, clearly indicated by the lack of the Beis Hamikdash and hashraas hashechina amongst us. But simultaneously we should feel INTENSE JOY AND GRATITUDE TO HASHEM THAT WE ARE STILL HERE. Joy on Tisha B'av? Sounds radical? A bit to Chassidic and antinomian [anti - against, nomos - law: Lielui nishmat my high school english teacher Ms. Mayefsky who made sure that her students knew not only the proper spelling and meaning of words but their etymology as well. Any spelling and grammatical mistakes I make in my writing are not her fault - she tried her best...]. Well, two proofs from the world of halacha. [Heard from the Rebbe Shlita.]

1] We don't say tachanun on Tisha B'av because the day is considered a Moed!! Gut Yontiv!! [See Shulchan Aruch 559/4. Also, take a look at the Mishna Brura there, os yud tes!]

2] On Tisha B'av we say in psukei dizimra "Mimzor Lisoda [even if you don't like soda] ... ivdu es Hashem Bisimcha". Yes, SIMCHA!!

Simcha that we are still here and flourishing, especially in this generation when we have merited to return to Eretz Yisrael in large numbers. We are not there - yet! But we are on the way and closer than we've ever been.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Warning: Don't Read If You Dislike Puns!

Sweetest friends! Chazal tell us in Pirkei Avos that there are 48 ways to acquire Torah. One of them is "Miyut Schok". One must laugh a little in order to acquire Torah! I recently learned a Yiddish expression - "Lachen is gezunt, doctoirin heisen lachen" - Laughing is healthy, doctors hate laughter.

So laugh, be healthy - and then learn.

This has been circulating [sent to me by my punny priend - Corey Adler]:

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

21. A backward poet writes inverse.

23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mareh Mikomos

Pursuant to the previous post - a very "chashuv" website for Shmiras Habris.

Also, have you ever heard a Chassidic Rebbe talk about Communism. Well, here it is. The Rebbe Shlita [in hebrew]. With a little about evolution, too!

I copied the following from a website called

It is called a "lisheym yichud" to be said before watching a movie.

A caveat before reading: This is only worthwhile to read if a person is completely committed to living a life of kedusha and tahara and believes in the words of the Torah and Chazal who tell us about the harm done by a looking at inappropriate sights. One who doesn't will scoff at this. But alleywaystotorah is not meant for skeptics or cynics, so I automatically assume that those reading this are sincere in their desire to get close to G-d and fulfill His will.

Lisheym yichud

I am herby willingly and readily preparing to bind myself to the Sitra Achra. To give power and strengthen the klipot and the forces of evil that reside in the world, with the movie that I am about to watch. And may it be, that for the next two and a half hours I will unite myself totally and completely with the movie and bind
myself to it in total concentration.

I am herby ready and prepared to be Pogem Anayim and gaze at immodestly dressed women for the next two and a half hours. I am fully prepared to be over on the Lav Doraysa of “Lo sasuro achary levavchem vachari anachem” I am also willing to transgress the Lav of “Heshumer Mkal Dvar Ra”. I am ready and prepared to
be over a Deraysa of looking and thinking about women as brought down by all the Poskim, including but not limited to the Ramban, Rambam, Rabbanue Yonah, and Shulchan Aruch. I am also more then ready to be over on “Vehyisem Kedoshim” and “Kidoshim Tihyo”. I am also ready and prepared to look at the face of Reshaim even though the Holy Kabbalah warns that it is very damaging to the soul.
I am ready and prepared to funnel impure thoughts into my mind that will cause me to heaven forbid be Pogem Habris. If that will not happen, then I am fully prepared and ready to see Keri while I sleep. I am fully ready to contaminate my mind day and night with impure thoughts and recollections from the movie that I am
about to watch. I am ready and prepared to spend countless Shmoni Esrehs, spaced out from beginning to end having the impurity of the movie overtake my mind. I am ready and prepared to have hiruray Znus with my Tefillin on.

I am herby making myself a vessel to fully receive and absorb all the impure essence of the defiled actors and producers that created the movie. I am ready for it to be integrated and impressed upon my body, soul and emotions. I am ready to absorb all the non Jewish culture and the bad traits of the seventy nations. I am willing
and ready to bring into my mind confusion and Kfirot, I will confound my mind with wicked philosophy until I will start not believing in Hashem and the Tzadikim. I am ready and prepared to start uttering the vulgarity and slang that I will hear throughout the movie and fully plan on integrating it into my daily conversations. I am prepared and ready to adore and idolize the wicked Reshaim in the movie who wish to destroy Yisroel and whose ancestors committed gross murderous acts against our nation. I am ready to totally bind myself to their fake impure and
empty culture and commit to live it, myself and my family.

I am fully ready and prepared to cause great damage and destruction in the Spiritual words. I am ready to cause great flaws in many of the various Holy Shemot. I am fully ready to create great havoc, in the worlds of Azilut, Briah, Yitzirah and Asiyah. I am ready to damage and mutilate all parts of my soul composed of
the Nefesh, Ruch, Neshamah. I am ready to delay the arrival of Moshiach and to bring much suffering and poverty to the world.

I am ready to waste the next hours funneling impurity into my soul instead of spending the time studying Torah and doing Avodas Hashem. I am ready to lose all sensation and awareness of Kedusha as well as nullify my Emunah in Hashem and the Tzadikim. I am ready to strongly lower my ability to concentrate and learn
Torah as well as damage my memory for all things Holy. I am also giving the Chitzinim a permanent share of all the Torah and Mitzvot that I do until the point when I do Teshuvah. I am ready to create demons and other negative
entities that will steal all my substance. I am ready to further away my ability to find my Zivug and make her completely opposed and rebellious to me if I do find her. If I am married then I am willing to have my children considered semi Mamzarim since I will not be able to control my thoughts.

I will do all of the above willingly and gleefully sitting
relaxed in the sofa.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shiur On Purity During The Summer [And Winter!]

A shiur on gidrei tzniyus. Very important!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Traffic Violations

Two religious Jews are riding together on a motorcycle. A cop pulls up next to them and says "I'm going to follow you and catch you violating a traffic law." He follows them but doesn't catch them doing anything wrong.

The cop says "How can it be that I didn't catch you doing anything against the law?!"

One of the men answers "Hashem was with us".

The cop cries out victoriously "Gotchya! Three on a motorcycle!!"

Ba dam chhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Sweetest friends!! That is how we must live our lives. Hashem is with us everywhere. He is not just an abstact idea.




In my thoughts, too.

Love and blessings!

The Essence Of A Gadol

An essay by Rabbi Avi Shafran:

The unaffiliated Jewish woman attended three of the rabbi’s lectures in the 1950s, visibly intrigued by the ideas he put forth, about the historicity of the Jewish religious tradition. Then she abruptly stopped coming.

Another woman who had also attended the lecture series tracked her down and asked why she was no longer showing up. The first woman answered straightforwardly: “He was convincing me. If I continue to listen to this man, I will have to change my life.”

What a remarkably honest person. (I like to imagine that she came, in time, to pursue what she then fled.)

And what a remarkable man was the rabbi who delivered the lectures. He was Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, of blessed memory, whose tenth yahrtzeit, or death-anniversary, will be marked on the fast day of Shiva Asar BiTammuz (July 9). He later became the Rosh Yeshiva, or Dean, of the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore. He was my rebbe.

As an 18-year-old studying in the Baltimore yeshiva in 1972, I watched him from afar. His father-in-law, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman, of blessed memory, was the Rosh Yeshiva then; Rabbi Weinberg headed the Kollel, or graduate student program, and also delivered general Talmudic lectures. The depth of his knowledge, the power of his critical analyses of both Talmudic and worldly topics, his eloquence and his knowledge of history and the sciences all impressed me deeply.

But what I came to realize was that his brilliance and erudition were mere tools with which he was gifted. His essence was his dedication to truth, to Torah and to his students – indeed, to all Jews – and his humility.

When I think back on the many times I telephoned Rabbi Weinberg from wherever I was living at the time to ask him a question about Jewish law or philosophy, or for his advice, I am struck by something I never gave much thought to at those times: He was always available. And, I have discovered over the years, not only to me. As I came to recognize all the others – among them greatly accomplished Torah scholars, congregational rabbis and community leaders today – who had also enjoyed a student-rebbe relationship with Rabbi Weinberg, I marveled. In my youthful self-centeredness, I had imagined him as my rebbe alone. Who knew?

And his ongoing interactions with his students somehow didn’t prevent him from travelling wherever his services were needed. A sought-after speaker and arbitrator for individuals and communities alike, he somehow found time and energy for it all.

More telling, he felt responsible to undertake it all. He (and, may she be well, his wife, Rebbetzin Chana Weinberg) gave so very much to others (as the Rebbetzin continues to do). That, I long ago concluded, is the defining characteristic of true Gedolim, literally “great ones” – the term reserved for the most knowledgeable and pious Torah leaders of each generation: selflessness.

How painfully ironic, I sometimes think, that small, spiteful minds try to portray Gedolim oppositely. Then again, as the weekly Torah-portion of Korach recently read in synagogue reminds us, no less a Godol than Moses – the “most humble of all men” – was also spoken of cynically by some in his day. Plus ça change…

It wasn’t just in his public life, in his service to students and communities that Rabbi Weinberg’s self-effacement was evident. It was in little things too.

In the early 1980s, he was asked to temporarily take the helm of a small yeshiva in Northern California that had fallen on hard times. Although not a young man, he agreed to leave his home and position in Baltimore and become interim dean.

My wife and I and our three daughters lived in the community; I taught in the yeshiva and served as principal of the local Jewish girls’ high school. And so I was fortunate to have ample opportunity to work with Rabbi Weinberg, and to witness much that I will always remember. One small episode, though, remains particularly poignant.

Rabbi Weinberg was housed in a bedroom of a rented house. In the house’s other bedroom lived the yeshiva’s cooks – a middle-aged couple, recently immigrated from the Soviet Union.

Though Northern California has a wonderful climate, its winters can be a bit chilly, and the house’s heating system was not working. The yeshiva administrator made sure that extra blankets were supplied to the house’s residents, and an electric heater was procured for Rabbi Weinberg (the cooks, it was figured, had been toughened by a truly cold clime).

After a week or two of cold, rainy weather, it was evident that Rabbi Weinberg had caught a bad cold. Suspecting that perhaps the electric heater was not working, someone went to his room to check it. It wasn’t there.

Where it was, it turned out, was in the cooks’ room. Confronted with the discovery, Rabbi Weinberg sheepishly admitted to having relocated the heater. “I thought they would be cold,” was all he said.

Another heater was bought. And a lesson, once again, learned, about the essence of a Godol.


[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.]

All Am Echad Resources essays are offered without charge for personal use and sharing, and for publication with permission, provided the above copyright notice is appended.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Insides

"Kir'u livavchem vi'al bigdeichem" - "Rip your hearts and not your clothing"

Our Holy Prophet

Sweetest friends - the main intention of a fast day is NOT refraining from eating but TESHUVA AND TZEDAKA!!

Many people get caught up in the externals.


Love and blessings!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


The mother is everything - she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness. He who loses his mother loses a pure soul who blesses and guards him constantly.

Khalil Gibran

The Navi Yishayahu tells us that we will be consoled with the building of Yerushalayim as a mother consoles her child. A shiur on the the topic.

And a beautiful niggun.

I'll give the singer [Yaakov Young] a plug. If you make a wedding - use him!!!!

Love and blessings!!!

Monday, July 06, 2009

An Act Of Concern For A Stranger

Concern for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.

Albert Einstein

This has NEVER happened to me and I would like to record this story for the generations.

I walked in to a store recently to purchase ink for my printer. The man behind the counter brought me what I requested and told me the price. It was VERY high but I am a man who needs his ink and I didn't know where else to buy this particular ink so I took out my wallet and was ready to pay.

So he says to me "It is a lot of money, but if you go to ..... they have a good deal and you can buy it for much less. I myself bought this ink at my store and regretted it."


So when I arrived home I did a little research on the computer and found what I wanted for almost ONE HUNDRED SHEKELS LESS. [I ordered two...]

He doesn't know me but he wanted to help me. He cared.

Blessings to him and all those who help their fellow man!!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Avoiding Temptation

Most people would like to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch.

Robert Orben

What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is they don't want to discourage it completely.

Franklin P. Jones

Bilaam was SO impressed!!

"Mah tovu ohalecha yaakov - How goodly are thy tents o Jacob" [So biblical sounding!]. Rashi - He was impressed that the openings of their tents weren't facing each other, so they couldn't look in.

What was he impressed with? That the Jews aren't peeping Toms [or "peeping Moishes]??


More than that!

He was blown away by the fact that the Jews placed their tents in such a way that they wouldn't be TEMPTED to look into their neighbors tents. They knew how to avoid nisyonos.

It is not enough to pass life's tests. One must learn how to AVOID them in the first place.

As we proclaim daily אל תביאנו לידי ניסיון

[Based on the Birkas Mordechai - Parshas Balak]

Not "In A Second" - But "This Second"

"Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed."

Corita Kent

Sweetest friends!! Please! Life is NOT only about the big picture but about THIS SECOND. The gemara says in Rosh Hashana that every second we are judged [and brings a scriptual proof]. This is because we are expected to take advantage of every second. So RIGHT NOW have a positive thought [such as G-d exists or I LOVE my chavrusa/roommate/spouse] and you have had a successful moment that will be rewarded forEVER.

You messed up? FUHGETABOUDIT!! This second you can do something positive.

Love and blessings!

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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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