Monday, August 31, 2009

Cold Feet

Recently the world lost a tzaddik named Rav Moshe Chait. [Please read the link and the comments.] Although I wasn't zoche to be his student, I was the student of his students. I hope his spirit permeates my being and that I am able to pass it on to my sweetest friends.

In shul I saw a dvar torah in which a beautiful story was related about the Rav. A student came to his yeshiva [Chofetz Chaim] for the year and planned to attend college the following year [old story...]. He ended up staying for a number of years. When asked why, he explained: One time the student was at the kotel with his Rebbe Rav Chait. The Kohanim took off their shoes to duchen. The boy noticed that the Rav gently moved the shoes closer to where the kohanim were duchening so that they would not have to step on the cold floor. He decided that if he has the opportunity to be around a person of such refined character he would not give it up.

May we be zoche to refine our own character and make this world of ours a better place.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Sister Of A Giant

Sweetest Friends Shalom!!

Today I was talking to a friend who was just a Rabbi in Poland for two years. He related to me that recently he conducted the funeral of Rochel Hutner [I believe he told me that she was 98]. She was the sister of the great Gaon Rav Yitzchak Hutner ztz"l [in my humble opinion one of the three most original thinkers of the 20th century. We have quite a few audio shiurim dedicated to his thought]. Since I feel especially close to the Rav, I view it as a great merit to ask you to PLEASE learn mishnayos, say tehillim, give tzedaka or do other mitzvos in her memory. I don't think she had any religious descendants [or any descendants at all].

Her full name was Rochel bas Chana.


Love and blessings!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul.

Wayne Dyer

At the beginning of selichos we say "Haneshama lach vi-hagoof poalach" - "The soul is Yours and the body You created". The soul is "Lach", it is Godly, whereas the body is only "poalach" - G-d created it but it can't be described as Lach. Lach implies a direct and constant relationship and poalach implies a certain distance.

Our souls are Lach - Godly and real. Our bodies are mere creations - not unlike a tree or a lake.

Chaviv adam shenivra bitzelem - Beloved is man who is created in the image of G-d.
G-d doesn't love us because we have white blood cells or ankles but because we have a Godly soul. We should love ourselves for the same reason!

Some Jewish mothers [usually Sephardi] call their children - "Neshama'le" or "Neshama Sheli".

They are on to something.

Good Shabbos Sweetest and Most Beloved Neshamos!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Learning A Mishna

The Mishna in Kiddushin teaches us that there are three ways to marry a woman - Kesef [money or something with monetary value], Shtar [document] and Bi'ah [relations]. I believe that these are also three methods to SUSTAIN the marriage and not just to create the bond in the first place.

1] Kesef - I once heard that the secret to "Shalom Bayit" is: You want Shalom? Tell your wife - "buy it". Marriage means being generous, as the Rambam says [when talking about how to treat a wife], "kifee kocho" - commensurate with ones financial means. We know that a man can even marry a woman with a sheveh prutah - a nickel. If that is all he can afford, such a sum is also significant. But if he can afford more, he should certainly give her more. The important thing is that he is GIVING.

2] Shtar – A marriage is ALSO like a business partnership. He must remember that he has obligations towards his wife [to support her etc.] and she also has obligations towards her husband [in the olden days it meant to grind flour and spin wool as the mishna says in Kesubos. Today it means to prepare dinner and keep house]. Marriage is not just fun but also places serious obligations upon each party and they must not be derelict in the fulfillment of their duties.

3] Bi'ah – Experts [I have sources but for the sake of modesty I will not quote them] say that if a couple has a successful intimate relationship it will carry over to other areas of their marriage and they will be happy together. If not – oy va'voy! One must not underestimate the importance of this area.

In addition, in order to get married, the man must DECLARE "Harei at mekudeshes" etc. He must SPEAK to his wife in order to marry her. This is the basis of their marriage in the future as well. Good communication is indispensible. A man must learn how to talk to his wife. Women, by nature, are usually better communicators, but she too must learn how to talk to him. Many marriages break up because of a lack of proper communication. People just don't know how to talk to each other. Each spouse must remember that one doesn't speak to a man as one speaks to a woman and vice versa. I learned this from my daughter [among others]. I used to like punching fists [gently of course] with my kids. My boys did it with simcha while my daughter didn't like it. It's a "guy" thing. Guys aren't girls and girls aren't guys and this is not just a physiological difference but a psychological one. Communication is an ART that one must learn. For some it comes more naturally than for others but everyone must master it. [For a lomdishe shiur on amira you can click here].

May we all merit to have success in all areas of human relationships - UMEIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love and blessings!

Waldo's Wisdom

Every man I meet is in some way my superior.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

[What were his parents THINKING when they gave him the middle name "Waldo"?]

The new year has begun in Yeshiva. The job of the teachers is to educate by word and by example. One mistake I believe that many educators make, is to think that they are superior to their students. Of course they have a lot to offer the students but they must NEVER lose sight of the fact that every student is the teacher's superior in some way. Not just in order to make the student feel good which will inspire him to further improve and grow but because it is TRUE.

As Reb Elimelech Milezhinsk prayed: Yehi ratzon shenire maalas chavereinu vi'lo chesronam - We should see our friends superior qualities and not their faults.

If you want to jump out of your socks, see the Ramban in Parshas Shemos [4/13] on the pasuk "shelach na biyad tishlash".

Love and blessings!!

For some great shiurim on Chassidus from my friend Rav Moshe Tzvi Weinberg - click the word peyos.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Don't Fear

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.

Anne Frank

"Oy, I am afraid!!"


"What are you getting theological on me for. I just said I am afraid because the Iranians are developing weapons of mass destruction, there are so many diseases going around, I could die suddenly of a heart attack or cardiac arrest [parenthetically - I never understood why the police never show up when somebody has cardiac arrest], my boss might fire me any day etc. etc. There are SO many things of which to be afraid! Why are you calling me an atheist?!"

"I got it from Tehillim! "LiDovid - A song of David, Hashem ori viyishi - G-d is my light and salvation, Mimi ira - whom shall I fear?! Hashem maoz chaya mimi ephchad - G-d is the strength of my life, whom shall I dread?!" If you have G-d, you have nothing to fear. As Rabbi Solveitchick said, on the Yomim Noraim we say "uvicheyn teyn pachdicha" - G-d, instill your fear on Your creation. There are countless fears! One fear erases all others - fear of Hashem. The absence of this fear invites countless others to your doorstep."

May we be zoche not to fear anything or anybody - except for the Source Of Existence!

Love and blessings!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Keeping Perspective

Boss to employee: Don't you care about this job?!

Employee: Of course! It is the most important thing in my life!!

Boss: So how come you are so rarely in the office? You barely ever come in, and when you do, you are so tired you barely get any work done!

Employee: But I am busy. I have a wife and children and I spend most of my time with them.

Boss: What is more important – your family or your job?


Boss: Well, if it was so important, you would make it your business to be in the office more and invest more time in the company and less time at home.


Now, sweetest friends, substitute work for home and home for work and you will get what I am driving at [despite my lack of drivers license that I mentioned in the previous post. If I "drive" at a point without a license or while intoxicated – would I get arrested?].

People claim that their families are important to them but are rarely home. Excuses? They have loads! But excuses won't make their marriages successful and won't provide their children with the time and attention they crave.

Work is important but all too often people lose sight of what REALLY matters. Work is a MEANS to an end. Family is the end. Don't forget your wife and children. They need you the most and ultimately you need them most as well.

Work is overrated.

Love and blessings!!

Small Man Arriving In Big Country

Sweetest friends Shalom!!

It is ASSUR!!


Most poskim [Ramabm, Shulchan Aruch, Mishna Brura etc.] hold that it absolutely forbidden to leave the land of Israel [if you live here] unless one has a good reason [vacation doesn't count].

My dear parents have requested that I come to America for my sweet nephew's Bar-Mitzvah. That is a valid reason.

I am writing this to inform my dear friends that from Thu. September 3rd until Sunday the 6th I will be in New Jersey/ New York. I can be reached at 973-471-8544 [my brother's house]. I apologize to the people who left me messages last time I was in the States and I didn't return the calls. It is rude not to return telephone calls [even though I know quite a few otherwise fine people who don't], but I simply didn't get the messages because I didn't know how to access the messages on the cell phone I had borrowed. I still don't. I also don't know how to text message or how to drive or how to fix a leaky faucet - but I am stilll a happy guy.

Love and blessings!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Arms And Brains

Sweetest friends - I couldn't resist.

On my gmail page I saw a quote from Mike Ditka [football coach]: "If G-d had wanted man to play soccer - he wouldn't have created him with arms."

I add: "If G-d had wanted man to watch television - he wouldn't have created him with a brain."


Big Day

Today is gimmel Elul the yahrtzeit of Gaon Yisroel Vikdosho HaRav Kook Ztz"l.
A movie about his life here.

His Neshama should have an aliyah - and so should ours....

Let Go

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

Lao Tzu

We all have a self perception of who we are. Doing Teshuva means allowing ourselves to become someone much greater.

Friday, August 21, 2009

More Responsibility

Two retailers go to their wholesaler to purchase merchandise on credit. One buys 5,000 dollars worth and his friend buys 10,000 dollars worth. The man who bought 10,000 dollars worth says to his friend "Ho ho, I am richer than you! I have TWICE as much".

"No, no," his friend answers, "not so simple. You also OWE more than I do."

In this weeks parsha, Parshas Shoftim, we read that a king is not allowed to be a baal gaiva [haughty] [17,20]. Yes, indeed, he is in a position of power and authority but that just means that more is expected of him. By extension, if you are gifted you cannot feel superior to your friend because more is expected of you. With talent comes responsibility. If you make a lot of money that means that you must give more to tzedaka. If you have a good head that means that you are expected to reach high plateaus in learning.

[Based on a mashal of the Dubno Maggid]

For more on gaiva and this weeks Parsha - here.

A Blissful Shabbos to all of my beloved, sweetest friends!

Kefirah On The Internet

There is a very depressing phenomenon on the internet. Heresy. Apikorsus. Kefirah. There are many deniers of G-d and His Torah who find a forum to spread their poison on the internet – free of charge, with a wide ranging eager audience.

The tragedy is that people don't realize the ramifications of their heresy. Yes, they can now enjoy many of life's pleasures without restraint [it won't bring them happiness but on the surface it seems appealing]. But there is much more than that. Now they must live with the belief that we are all nothing more than advanced monkeys. Life has NO meaning. We are living in a senseless world where people suffer terribly – and then die.

Marriage has no meaning. She is a monkey, I am a monkey, we are just accidents. If I find a better looking monkey – why shouldn't I go to her?! If she finds a monkey who will be a better provider – why shouldn't she go to him. There can be no moral code. How can you tell me what to do?! You think it is wrong to kill – and I think it is right [as long as you do something to deserve it – like cutting me off on the road]. If you can kill an animal for dinner why can't you kill a person for dinner. If I kill him then I will have more than dinner, I can have lots of dinners, depending on how much money he has.

The Holocaust was six million people who died because of fairy tales! Yes, they went to the gas chambers because they were Jewish and they were only Jewish because some sinister people made up some nonsense a few thousand years ago in order to fool a nation into keeping stupid paganistic rituals.

The Middle East conflict – dumb. This land belongs to no one! Over 20,000 soldiers died because the fairy tale writers decided to invent that Israel is the Holy Land – but it is not Holy at all and CERTAINLY not worth dying for.

A person is in his hospital bed dying of cancer and asks why? Why?! Bad luck dude. Suffer and then die. Monkeys die. No purpose. Sorry.

So I don't understand the GLEE expressed by those who have found the "truth" and discovered the falsehood [afra lipoomaihoo] of our tradition. Now what do you have? Nothing! A life empty of meaning. You are going to bring children into a senseless world and can't teach them any values because values are all contrived, subjective inventions of my animalistic mind.

If one realizes this he will not be so quick to dismiss our tradition. To such a person I say the following. Learn! There have been many intelligent people in history who believed in the veracity of the Torah. There are scientists who believe, archeologists who believe, historians who believe and people from all disciplines who believe. Rav Soloveitchik was an intelligent man and he believed. The famous story they tell about him is that one Shabbos he accidentally turned a on a light and then fainted when he realized what he had done. He was aware that science says that the world is billions of years old and that the bible critics say that the Torah has numerous human authors. But it didn't bother him [as he stated]. He was SURE that the Torah is the word of G-d and was willing to die for his belief. So learn the Moreh Nevuchim, Kuzari, Sefer Haikkarim, Chovos Halevavos, Maharal, Ramchal, Kisvei Harav Kook etc. etc. Speak to Talmidei Chachamim and analyze the issues. You will find yourself enriched by the discussions. The more people you speak to the wiser you will become. And remember that not all questions have easy, readily digestible answers. Iyov was very bothered by questions he had on G-d and the answer was – you don't understand anything! You are only a human being with a limited intellect. You don't have to understand EVERYTHING! As it says in this weeks parsha – "Tamom tihiye im Hashem Elokecha" – Walk simply with G-d.

We don't know that the Torah is true because of intellectual prowess – we know that the Torah is true because of our experiences. The Prophets didn't philosophize about G-d – they experienced Him.

May we all be zoche to experience the wonders of Hashem and help all of those lost tortured souls who are so distant, return to our Maker.

To conclude with one of my favorite quotes: "People who stop believing in G-d don't believe in nothing, they believe in everything."

Love and blessings!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

G-d Pays You Back

I saw this story on "" and the author asserts that the story is absolutely true and he has the real names on file. So we will give him his "chezkas kashrus" and likewise assume that the story is true. Besides, it is too incredible to make up!

Yoni, an Israeli Defense Force soldier stationed in Hebron , was shot by an Arab terrorist. It happened very early in the morning, and no one else was awake to hear it. Yoni passed out and was bleeding steadily, his life heading toward a silent end.

But another soldier stationed nearby heard the shot and went to investigate. He found a fellow Israeli soldier bleeding to death. He tried the best he could to stop the bleeding and called for help. Waiting for help to arrive, he kept applying pressure to the wound--literally holding Yoni's life in his hands.

Yoni was taken to a hospital in Be’er Sheva where he underwent surgery. Yoni's parents were notified and they rushed to the hospital. Imagine the fear of the parents who were only told "your son has been injured and is in the hospital." When they arrived the doctor told them that Yoni was shot but will be alright. However, had it not been for the immediate actions of the other soldier, their son Yoni would have bled to death.

It was a miracle that the other soldier heard what no one else heard, and managed to locate Yoni as quickly as he did. The parents wanted to thank that soldier, but he had just left the hospital after hearing that the soldier he helped would survive.

While recuperating at home, Yoni and his parents called the army to find out the name of the other soldier so they could thank him personally. Unfortunately, that soldier's name was not recorded and although they tried to ask around they simply couldn’t track down who that other soldier was.

Yoni's mother knew that the important thing of course is that Yoni is well, yet she could not help feeling that as long as she couldn’t meet and thank the solider who bravely saved her son’s life--the entire frightening episode would not be fully over. Not being able to thank the soldier continued to give her an empty feeling…but then she had an idea.

The couple owned a grocery store in Kiryat Malachi (a town near Ashdod ), so they decided to put up a sign in the store, describing what happened, figuring that Israel is a small country and eventually they might found out who the mystery soldier was.

Months passed with no response. Finally, one morning about a year later, a woman customer noticed the sign hanging by the door of the store. She recalled how happy her son Yair was when he came home one Friday night and told them how he heard a shot and was able to save another soldier’s life in Hebron . She went back and told the owner of the store. The story matched. The two women now decided to try to reach their sons on cell phones and see if they could meet at the store. Fortunately it turned out that both the young men and even the fathers were able to all meet that afternoon at the store.

The families soon gathered for an emotional "rendezvous". The soldiers recounted army experiences and finally after all this time Yoni’s mother could stand up and thank Yair for saving her son’s life or as she put it, “You saved my world”. She looked forward to feeling “completion” after all this time by thanking the soldier, but little did she know that the story was hardly complete.

After the tearful thank you, Yair’s mother quietly pulled her aside and asked to speak with her outside. The two women went out alone. And she asked Yoni’s mother: “Look at me-- don’t you remember me?”

“No, I’m sorry did we meet before?”

"Yes,” Yair’s mother replied. “You see there is a particular reason I came into your store today. I used to live here, and this time although I was just passing by, I wanted to give you my business, even though I was only buying a few things.”

“What are you talking about?” Yoni’s mother asked.

The other woman answered, “Twenty years ago I used to live around here and came all the time to buy milk and bread. One day you noticed that I looked really down and you were very nice and asked me why I seemed so down and I confided in you. I told you that I was going through a very difficult time and on top of that I was pregnant and planning on having an abortion. As soon as I said “abortion” you called your husband over and the two of you seemed to forget about your own store and business, and just sat down and patiently listened to me. I still remember clearly what you said.

“You told me that it is true that I was going through a hard time but sometimes the good things in life come through difficulty, and the best things come through the biggest difficulties. You spoke of the joy of being a mother and that the most beautiful word to hear in the Hebrew language is “Ima” (mother) when spoken by one’s child. You both spoke and spoke until I was convinced that I actually should have this baby--so you see G-d paid you back!”

”What do you mean? asked Yoni’s mother”. The answer astounded and thrilled her.

“I had a boy twenty years ago that you saved by telling me to think twice before doing the abortion.” With happy tears she declared, "My beloved Yair wouldn’t have been alive if not for you. He was the one you were looking for. He was the one who grew up to save your son Yoni’s life!"


Is this not what the wisest of all men meant when he said "Shlach lachmicha al pnei hamayim, ki birov hayomim timtzi'enu" - Send your bread upon the waters because in time you will find it.

Chodesh Tov!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

True Friendship

"Friendship isn't about whom you have known the longest. It's about who came and never left your side."

We all know that if a person kills accidentally he is sent to a city of refuge [ir miklat]. The gemara teaches that his Rebbe must follow him because the Torah says that in this city he must "live" -"vi'chai" and there is no true life without Torah.
The heilige Pnei Menachem [the previous Gerrer Rebbe whose right hand man was the Rebbe Shlita] asks a "bomb kasha". The gemara says in Taanis "oh chavrusa oh missusa" – either a friend or death. If that is so, why doesn't the Torah require his friends to join him in the city of refuge? Without friends he is as good as DEAD!! What about "vi'chai"?! "Oh" boy!!!!!!!

His answer is even better than his question! He said that a TRUE FRIEND doesn't need a commandment, he will go on his own. If we have to tell him to go, then he is not really a friend so we can't command him to go as a friend!

Sweetest friends! Elul is at the doorstep. We all know the roshei teivos אני לדודי ודודי לי - I am to my beloved [Hashem] and my beloved is to me. But the sefarim teach that if we want Hashem to show his love for us, first we must show our love for each other!!!!!

Love and blessings for a "lidodi'diga" Elul.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lay Out The Cash!

The Minchas Chinuch [423/4] cites the famous halacha that one is not obligated to spend more than a fifth of his funds in order to fulfill a mitzvas aseh. Then he adds a chiddush! He suggests that for the mitzvah of mezuzah one would be obligated to spend more than a fifth.

The reason is as follows: The Ran [Yoma perek 8] says that if someone is very ill and we have to save his life with meat and we have a choice – either to slaughter an animal on Shabbos in a kosher way [a chiyuv skila] or to feed him a neveilah [a regular lo taaseh], we should slaughter the animal! Why? Slaughtering is a much more serious sin than merely eating unkosher?! The answer is, that if we slaughter the animal we are only doing ONE [albeit serious] action. Whereas if he eats a neveilah he is doing MANY actions [every kezais eaten]. We prefer one big aveirah over many small ones.

From this the Minchas Chinuch learns that just like many small aveiros are very serious, so too many mitzvos also have a different halachic status than just one mitzvah. For one mitzvah a person should spend only a fifth. But for mezuzah, which is a mitzvah every second it is on the doorpost, one should spend even more than a fifth.

Hug An Inmate

A maaseh to express the idea we talked about in the last post based on the book Holy Brother. [I read it many years ago so you can check it up to get the exact details.]

Reb Shlomo Carlebach once gave a concert in a prison. At the end of the concert he hugged every prisoner. When he finished he turned his back and started to walk out. Then, a BIG, SCARY-LOOKING BLACK MAN started running after him. "Yo, Rabbi, wait."

Reb Shlomo was afraid. What does he want? Maybe to break him into ten pieces? He turned around and the covict said "Rabbi, can I have another hug?"

After they embraced the man said sadly "You know, if I'd have gotten that as a child I probably wouldn't be here today."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Unconditional Love

Sweetest Friends Shalom!!! [Or, as one of my favorite Mageedei Shiur likes to start "Shalom Aleichem Sweetest Friends!!" The truth is I walk around the house habitually just saying "Shalom Ale..." My kids think I am funny - some of the neighbors think I am weird. OK - I made up the neighbor part. Why does neighbor have a "gh"? How did the "gh" find its way into the word laugh? Sometimes I say l-a-u-g-h - phonetically and people laugh. Just something to use if you are on a dull date and want to liven things up. Then say "A friend of mine once sent me a post card with a picture of the entire planet Earth taken from space. On the back it said, "Wish you were here."]

When A Chosson and Kallah enter the ballroom after the elongated yichud period, there is a custom for their friends to stand in two rows facing each other, hold on to oval-shaped sticks [or something like that] and the Chosson and Kallah RUN in between the two rows under the sticks and then separate to their gender appropriate side for lots of sweating and good fun. There is SOOO much simcha at a Jewish wedding! But where does this "running in between the two rows" custom stem from?

After searching high and low in our traditional sources and coming up empty I think I found the source!

Football!! Yes, at the beginning of football games that is how the players enter the field. I have found no other source. Thank G-d [!] my friends didn't follow this custom at my wedding for had they done so I fear that I would have spent the rest of the wedding tackling and blocking people. Plus, I was wearing a dark suit and the kallah a white dress, so that means that she was on the other team.

Uh oh!

Maybe people adopted this custom because the wedding hall is called a "ballroom".

In any event I would like to talk about marriage [and relationships in general]. What does a man REALLY want? What does a woman REALLY want?

Sweetest friends, please open your hearts because what I am about to say is critical and sorely lacking.


"Of course", you say, "I knew that!" I will tell you a secret. Chances are that people close to you PROBABLY don't feel loved by you unconditionally. I meet many children who don't feel that their parents love them unconditionally. I know many spouses who also don't feel that way. What about teachers towards students? How many students feel that their teachers love them unconditionally? How many students feel that their teachers love them at all? Think about your teachers and come up with a number. If all of the fingers on one hand are used up - consider yourself extraordinarily fortunate!

The constant barrage of criticism expressed makes people feel that they are only loved "if". Kritcism Kills [sic. Refuah Shleimah!]. Note that the traditional phrase we use to marry a women is NOT "Harei at mekudeshes li al minas she-aruchat erev muchana bazman" - You are betrothed to me on condition that dinner is ready on time. We say Harei At [I affectionately call my wife "Harriet" for this very reason. She calls me Xavier becuase it has such a high score in scrabble. I made that up.] mekudeshes li - you are [literally] SPECIAL to me - no matter what! [Just take this ring from me! I don't wear jewelery and have nothing to do with it.]

In this weeks parsha we read that Moshe says "Banim Atem Lashem Elokeichem" [14/1]. Rebbe Meir [whose Rebbe was the famous Acher - Alisha Ben Avuyah] interprets this to mean that we are Hashem's children even when we serve idols, even when we rebel!! Hashem loves us NO MATTER WHAT! Isn't that a great feeling! Unconditional! It is our birthright [there is the "gh" again..]. [The Rashba points out that the Halacha is like Rebbe Meir.]

Of course, as a loving father He tells us that if we sin we will be doing ourselves great harm, but NOT that he is no longer our father. I often tell my children that if they smoke they are stupid - dozens of carcinogens in every cigarette. But that doesn't mean that they are no longer my children if [Chas Vi'shalom] they foolishly choose not to listen. Hashem gives us great advice - keep the mitzvos. The Zohar calls the mitzvos "taryag etin" - 613 sound pieces of advice. But OF COURSE He loves us regardless.

That is how we must relate to those around us. Love NO MATTER WHAT, while at the same time positively encouraging proper behavior. This will drastically improve society. Many more people in the world lack even one person who genuinely loves them than those who lack bread to eat. And love is to the soul what food is to the body.

Oh, how peoples souls are so malnourished.

This blog is dedicated to the merit of the people who recently emailed me [or told me orally - or-ally, I like that word! But why the "or"?] and gave me tremendous chizzuk by telling me that the blog gives them chizzuk. Sometimes I wonder if the time I spend writing this blog would be better spent cracking a Rebbe Akiva Eiger or a Ketzos. But if even ONE person tells me they get ruchnuyis from here then it is all worth it. So thank you all! You - and Hashem - know who you are.

Unconditional Love and Blessings To All!

Good Shabbos!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gaining Control

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.

Lao Tzu

Sweetest friends! We live in a world where people try to control others. Spouses, children, students, employees etc.

G-d's way is to learn how to control YOURSELF! This is much more rewarding than controlling others.

Once one learns to control himself he can rise to a position of power. It was only after Yosef showed that he could control himself [and he didn't succumb to the passes of Aishes Potiphar] that he could rule over others and become second to the King. However, the primary area where one must wield power is over himself.

Aizehu gibbor? Hakoveish es yitzro!!

[See Shiurei Daas of Rav Bloch Ztz"l in his essay on Malchus where this idea is expanded upon.]

Love and blessings!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Love And Self-Satisfaction

"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you."

Wayne Dyer

In my life I have almost NEVER seen an instance of the true love expressed in the opening quote. What I HAVE seen is people who impose their own desires upon the object of their "love" and attempt to make that person into someone they are not.

Sad? Indeed. Is my assessment accurate? I can't be sure, but like any good sportscaster "I call 'em as I see 'em". I often observe parents [and teachers] trying to create children in their own image - and this prevents the child from fulfilling his own special potential.

Sweetest Friends - try to think of a person you love and develop a strategy to try to help that person become who he [or she] truly is. I can think of no greater act of kindness.

Conformity - like money and good looks - is HIGHLY overrated.

Love and blessings!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Human Sacrifice

Sacrifice, which is the passion of great souls, has never been the law of societies.

Henri Frederic Amiel

I once read a story that I found amazing. It was presented as true: A young girl suffered from a rare illness. The only way to save her was to perform a blood transfusion from her 5 year old brother who had already suffered from and beaten the disease so he had developed antibodies to fight it.

The doctor explained the need for the transfusion to the little boy, who said: "If it will save my sister, I am ready."

As the procedure was underway the boy grimaced and said "Am I going to die little by little or suddenly?"

The child had misunderstood! He thought that they were going to take ALL of his blood and he was going to die. But in his childhood purity he was willing because he wanted to save his sister!!! A five year old boy!

Sweetest friends! According to Jewish law it is forbidden to give up ones life in order to save a friend [save for special circumstances - vi'ain kan hamakom lihaareech bazeh..], but what strikes me about this story is the expression of love for his sister. He was willing and ready to die for her without any convincing.

Halevai that we should learn how to love and sacrifice for our fellow Jews and hopefully in that zchus the ENTIRE WORLD will be redeemed and man will know no more suffering.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Coke - And Cellphones


A new Israeli study reveals that too much sweetened soda and fruit juice may cause long-term liver damage. Switching to water is the best preventive measure to contribute to long-term health. It may be a good idea to replace the juice in your kid’s lunch box with a bottle of water. A health conscious Israeli physician has bad news for the beverage industry. According to Dr. Nimer Assy, people who drink more than one liter (about four cups) of sweetened beverages a day have a five times greater risk of developing fatty liver.

Soda and soft drinks also cause cavities and have a host of other problems. My advice: Avoid 'em altogether!!

And another health hazard: Cellular Phones

From Haaretz: A recent study documents a sharp rise in the incidence of salivary gland cancer in Israel that researchers believe may be linked to the use of mobile phones.

The study was commissioned by the Israel Dental Association and directed by Avi Zini of the community dentistry department at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine. The study included examination of the incidence of oral cavity cancers in Israel from 1970 to 2006. Among salivary gland cancer cases, researchers found a worrying rise in the number of cases of malignant growth in parotid glands - the salivary gland located under the ear, near the location where cell phones are held during conversations.

The study also noted there was a drop in radiation levels through the use of accessories such as earphones.

Vinishmartem MI'OD Linafshosechem!!!

Love and Blessings!!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Eating Hekdesh

In earlier posts we talked about the prohibition of "Lo ta'asun keyn lashem Elokechem" - not to cause destruction to holy items [as opposed to idols where it is a mitzva to destroy].

What is the halacha if one EATS kodshim [that he is not allowed to eat]. Do we say that he is destroying Hekdesh and he would be guilty or maybe since the person benefits it is not considered an act of destruction?

The Chelkas Yoav [O"C 4] says that he is definitely guilty of meilah but not the prohibition of "lo taasun" - because as long as the person derives pleasure it cannot be considered an act of destruction. The rationale is that the prohibition is connected to the mitzva of destroying idols and the halacha is that if one EATS or DRINKS what was sacrificed to the idol one does not fulfill a mitzva [Ramban Pesachim 2a], so too, one does not transgress if he eats or drinks hekdesh.

The Chelkas Yoav asks from the gemara [Makkos 22a] that says that if one cooks with the wood of hekdesh he receives lashes because of "lo taasun", so we see that even if we destroy for the benefit of a person it is considered destructive? He answers that there we are talking about a case where he cooked meat and milk together [which is forbidden for one to derive benefit from] and therefore in the end he will receive no benefit from what he cooked.

Open Mindedness

People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.

Charles Kettering

Many people extol the virtues of open mindedness. Being called close minded is never a compliment. Sweetest friends! I am sorry to note this, but there are VERY few people out there who are truly open minded.

In Jewish circles open minded is really just a euphemism for someone who doesn't believe so strongly in G-d or His Torah, enjoys contemporary entertainment [read: movies, television, internet] and is in favor of attending University - the more open minded, the more secular the University. In short, someone who is "chilled out" about Avodas Hashem. If he is excited and passionate about his beliefs then he is called a close minded fanatic.

I know many such open minded people. Many are amongst the MOST close minded people out there! They aren't interested in any opinion other than their own! Proof positive: Try gathering evidence from completely non-Jewish sources about the harms of modern entertainment [like the research that shows that someone who sees sexual promiscuity is more likely to be sexually promiscuous, ditto with violence] and present it to someone with a you know. See how receptive he is to the very idea that he might have to change his lifestyle.

Many shuls will invite a scholar-in-residence to address the community if he is "left of left" but NEVER a Rabbi from Bnei Brak or Monroe [not Earl The Pearl but a Chassidic enclave]. I want to ask the Rabbis of these shuls - why don't you try to open up peoples minds and allow them to hear something DIFFERENT! [Of course, this goes both ways. Many on the "right" also don't want to hear anything different.] It is FUN to hear that Charedim are a bunch of crazy fanatics still living in their caves and that WE are the enlightened. "Look at those parasites! They don't work so they steal." But maybe WE are living in spiritual darkness?! OUCH! People don't want to consider that - and if you suggest it then YOU aren't enlightened. Maybe it is your fault that in Yeshiva High Schools drug use is so prevalent? No! Let's talk about how Rabbis are really a bunch of money hungry, child molestors.

Sweetest friends! As long as people are close minded they wil only want to look at others and ignore the mirror in front of their own faces. This is why so many people have fractured relationships - they are unable to understand things from someone elses perspective.

I will tell you what open minded truly means [according to my understanding]: Someone who is open to the infinity of G-d that he made available to us in this world. So he learns Moreh Nevuchim [Rambam], Sefer Haikkarim [Rav Yosef Albo], Ramban, Maharal, The Vilna Gaon, Rav Kook, Rav Solovetchik, Rav Amiel, Rav Reines, Tanya, Rav Tzadok, Rebbe Nachman, The Chazon Ish, Rav Chatzkel Levenstein, The Lubavitcher Rebbe etc. etc. He wants to learn it ALL! His mind is open to anything that will open up new vistas of Godliness before him. An open minded person doesn't have time for most of the nonsense in newspapers or television. He knows that such material doesn't open up his mind but contaminates it.

A open minded person spends time with various types of Jews to find out what they are really like from the inside. For example, I have yet read an accurate description of Chassidus from someone who was himself not a Chossid. An outsider just doesn't get it. The same applies to a Yeshiva. You only know what a Yeshiva truly is unless you attend one and live it.

When a person is only willing to see this world he is close minded. Open minded means to live eternity.

So, how many open minded people do you know?

Love and blessings!!

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Continuing our thoughts post Tu B'av....

Many people look for a spouse who is "fun".

Drop it.

Most of your future life you will NOT be having fun with him/her. The fact is, that even when a guy wants [and has time for] fun, he generally DOESN'T go to his wife. He goes to the T.V. [G-d save us...] or plays ball or maybe even will go with his wife to a movie [ditto..], but the fun is not his wife but the movie. If he is more of a Ben-Torah for "fun" he goes to the beis medrash.

Does a wife go to her husband for "fun". Generally not. She calls her friends on the phone to chat and giggle or opens up her cook book to try a new recipe for meatloaf. If she has a spiritual orientation then she will say tehillim or listen to a shiur on Sfas Emes. And if she is REALLY shtark then for fun she will open up her heavily annotated edition of Nesivos Shalom or R' Pinkus' Shearim B'Tefila and add more of her chiddushim. But she doesn't go to her husband for fun.

But when people are dating they look for someone whom "it is fun to be with". Fuhgedaboutit! Make sure that you ENJOY the other persons company but don't view fun as the gauge of whether he/she is for you. After dating the fun ends.

Good character, a kind heart, a forgiving nature etc etc. are what you should be searching for. Then life might not be "fun" according to the the common use of the word but it will be Fulfilling, have Unity and be a Never ending sense of

2 - 3 - 4


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Refuah Shleimah

Please daven for Bracha bas Pesha who is having critical surgery today.

Also Meir Reuven ben Shoshana who was just diagnosed with cancer and Aharon Yehoshua ben Chaya Shoshana, the soldier who was severely injured right after his wedding in the latest war -

Besoch shear cholei Yisroel

Thank you sweetest friends and good health to all!

Shidduchim - Debunking A Myth

Sweetest Friends! Pursuant to the last post I would like to raise a certain point.

Many young men are looking for a girl with a "P.H.D." [Papa Has Dough]. This is based on the erroneous assumption that he will gladly share his money and that would be GREAT!


He does NOT want to share his money with his son-in-law. He wants his son-in-law to get money the old fashioned way - earn it!! [Extra credit if you are at least in your 30's and remember which commercial I took that line from.] If he has excessive funds and wants to unload some - worryeth not!! There is not one Jewish organization or institution in the world that would not be GLAD to help.

Chances are that he LOVES his money. The way to get rich is to LOVE money [I learned that personally from the flip side... As the heilige Maharal writes - "yedias ha'haphachim achas he"]. He doesn't want to part so quickly with his love. His daughter - yes, his money - no.

But maybe he will give you money anyway. He's a generous guy! Yes, but then you get the money together with a "bonus" - strings attached. He will then feel [together with your mother-in-law] that he can tell you what to do. Control your life. Uh oh. And you might let them - because you feel guilty. Gifts RARELY [if ever] come for nothing - there is always a price and this price is often more costly than mere cash.
[Brisker Rov]

Plus, you won't have self-respect - and he won't resect you. People are respected when they make it on their own [bs"d].

"O.K.", you say, "but he will give me a job in his company and I will earn my keep." Not so simple. I tried it and my father-in-law refused!!

Alav Hashalom!

But he refused. "No, I will NOT give you a job, Allan." [He called me Allan. Now he no longer calls me...]

"But Abba", I said [I called him "Abba" out of respect], "why not?! I married your daughter. I will be the father of your grandchildren! Have a heart!!"


"Why not?"

"Because you never attended medical school!"


Let's say that he CAN give you a job. Not so simple. You DON'T [in many instances] want to work for him. When it comes to money people act meshugga and if you work for him this will put a strain on your relationship. Or you might never talk to him again. This will also not have the best impact on your Shalom Bayis.

Also, many girls [NOT ALL] from wealthy homes are HIGH maintenence. It will be tough supporting her for life.

So fuhgedaboutit!! Look for a girl with a O.T.C.[Oheves Torah Va'Chesed - it's OK if she is a O.C.T. Occupational Therapist as well].

P.H.D.'s are overrated.

And I never made it to medical school. As a matter of fact, on principal I almost never go to doctors unless I REALLY have to. I think that many M.D.'s are also overrated.

Ad me'ah vi'esrim shana!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Solution To The Shidduch Crisis

Tu B'av is coming up and we know from the mishna at the end of taanis that this was the time [together with Yom Kippur] that single Jewish men [ONLY single men - no married men would go to "check it out the chicks" - Rav Dessler] would go to the vineyards, the girls would dance and the men would choose wives. No dating for 9 and a half months followed by a five month engagement but, as they say in these parts, "chick chack" [no pun intended] - quickly and smoothly. Choose a girl and live happily [we hope] ever after.

Therefore, it behooves us to talk about the current "Shidduch Crisis" - thousands of frum [why does "spell check" tell me I spelled "frum" wrong? How would you spell it?! Frim? Phrum?], single people who would love to be married but are not. I have a deceptively profound solution to this problem!!

Drum Roll, Ringo...........

Get married!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sweetest friends, let me explain. I once read a good point. A guy starts going out and wants a girl with blond hair and not black hair, tall and not short, skinny and not fat, wealthy and not poor, sophisticated but not too much so, accomplished but not overly career oriented, frum but not too extreme or too lax, aliyah oriented but flexible. In the end he DOESN'T get a girl with blond hair OR black hair, tall OR short, skinny OR fat, wealthy OR poor, sophisticated OR overly-sophisticated, accomplished OR career oriented, frum or otherwise, aliyah oriented or not so. He ends up with NOTHING - but heartache [not to mention his poor mother...].

You want Miss Perfect - I will tell you where she is! In the cemetery. Our flawed world doesn't house perfect people [DON'T TELL MY WIFE I SAID THAT - 15 YEARS AND I'M STILL TRYING TO KEEP UP THE FACADE THAT I AM PERFECT. Unfortunately, it lasted about 10 minutes from the time I first went to her house to meet her - and for 8 and a half of those minutes she hadn't yet come out to meet me]. EVERYBODY whose respiratory system is in working order has issues. Ameobae have no issues, but would you want to marry one? Is the girl you are going out with a little crazy? I have news for you! The next one will be crazy, too. And if you don't find out before marriage you will find out afterward. I have more news for you - please don't take it personally, it is being said out of love and care - so are you! So am I. So is everyone. Who is completely perfect and has NO mishagossen? The Lord. Can't marry him. He's already taken - He's married to Klal Yisrael as a whole.

OF COURSE, you should make sure that you are compatible but people go too far - to their own [and the Jewish People's] detriment. There are MANY singles in their late thirties and older who look back and say "I shoulda married that girl I went out with when I was twenty four. But I rejected her because she wasn't the beautiful movie-star I had always dreamed about, so I ended it. Now I spend my free time watching movies - and those women aren't for me either...."

Sometimes I meet a couple who married at a very advanced age and frankly I don't sense that he couldn't have gotten such a quality girl had he married 15 years before. Sometimes the opposite is true. A person ends up settling for a lot LESS than he could have gotten earlier. As people get older they often get MORE complicated and set in their ways - not less. Also guys, she doesn't get PRETTIER [in the "sheker hacheyn vi'hevel hayofi" sense] as she gets older...

While on that topic, I will note that there has been no recorded marriage in world history that has been successful solely because she was pretty. Yet, there have been countless marriages that broke up because they were based on the false premise that beauty is the most important trait. Sweetest friends, beauty is important but HIGHLY overrated. If she has bad character she looks very ugly, regardless of her hairstyle. I know people who are happily married to GREAT wives and mothers who are [to be polite] uhhhh, less than bombshells and others who are married to beautiful women [we try not to look..] but RACHMANUS on the husband and children.

To the ladies: The female species is not so superficial to care so much about his external appearance but there is another obsession I have observed which gets in the way - MONEY. OY, MONEY!! Will he support me?

NO! He will not support you! Hashem will support you. Your husband will go to work every day and try his best to do his part, but there are NO guarantees. I have yet to meet a guy who said, "I want to get married, but I have no intention of exhibiting the slightest concern as to whether my wife and children have food to eat." Part of the male self-esteem is based on our success in supporting a family. The better we do it, the better we feel about ourselves. [One of the great Rabbonim of our generation explained that the reason many people in Kollel feel lousy about themselves is because they are not supporting a family. A male doesn't feel like one if he isn't earning his own keep. We at Alleyways generally encourage men to eventually get a job after 2 and a half years of learning, if possible.]

So don't worry about it. We know of communities where a man will have 11 children a drinking problem and no job. Then one day he picks up never to be seen again, leaving his poor wife to support everyone herself. BARUCH HASHEM [!!!] this doesn't happen in the frum world. Raizy, Chani, Blimy - I promise, he will do his best to provide for all of your needs [unless he is severely mentally ill and off his meds]. Maybe he won't be a millionaire, but hey, that won't make you happy. If he is a mentsch, then you WILL be happy. You will be a wife and mother with a husband who loves and cherishes you. Money is likewise OVERRRATED.

I once read a powerful article written by a completely secular woman in her late thirties/early forties who lamented the fact that she had insisted all of the years on Mr. Perfect and now all she wants is a regular normal guy - and can't find one! Her friends have similar feelings. She even told about two women she knew who had children through artificial insemination, and frankly, kids without a husband and father just doesn't give them fulfillment.

But we are Torah Jews. The Torah mandates that we get married. A mitzva like all other mitzvos. According to Chazal, a mitzva MORE IMPORTANT than almost any other mitzva. We don't need to think only about our sense of fulfillment but our sense of OBLIGATION.

So, let's set people up, daven for them, and hopefully cry at their chuppahs!!


Monday, August 03, 2009

A Special Man

Read about a Tzaddik who is no longer with us.

With Tu B'av and wedding season coming up, one may be interested in one of the many dating/marriage shiurim we have on-line. Here is one.

Love and blessings!

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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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