Friday, November 27, 2009

New Shiur

We started our series of shiurim on marriage, here. If you have any constructive criticism or comments I would love to hear.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Amazing Story!

Check this out!!

And this.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Believe In Your Dreams

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.

Christopher Reeve

In the coming parshiyos we read a lot about dreams. The dream about the angels ascending and descending the ladder [in this weeks parsha] refers to the nations who will rise but fall. Yaakov was afraid that the same would happen to Am Yisrael. But the fact is that once when we ascend, we will never fall again. Believing it will make it happen!! "Vi'karno tarum bishu'asecha, ki lishu'usicha kivinu kol hayom" - You will save us because we believe in it ALL DAY!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Four Endowments

"Every human has four endowments - self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change.”

Stephen R. Covey

May I add that one must invest effort in cultivating and developing his four endowments. The more developed he is - the greater his capacity for change. Some sefarim say that our Tzelem Elokim is expressed in our ability to choose.
Yehi ratzon that we should become more Tzelem Elokim'dig!

Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos!!

Advance, Never Halt!

Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood.

Kahlil Gibran

A shiur on the topic.

Rav Simon on the wells. Strage parsha - requires much explanation. As one of my chavrusas said - "Who give wells names?".

Love and blessings!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Internet Is ....

"Ehrman is close-minded. He should leave his ghetto and get with the program. We are living in a modern world."

That is not an actual quote but one that could be elicited by the following. But since I believe it is true I will say it anyway. B"H I don't subscribe to the view that it matters what people think about you but rather one should show complete fidelity to what he sees as truth. So here goes.

The internet is filled with filth. This filth in a very strange way ensnares men into its trap. The Torah warns us to stay away from "gilulim" - translated as idols. The literal translation is "feces". Why must we be warned to distance ourselves from feces? Somehow - people are attracted to filth. The internet is filthy. I know I said that already but I repeated it for effect. The internet is filthy. Again.

The internet is breaking up marriages and frying pure Jewish souls.

Solution: Get rid of it. I would. But then how would I post my shiurim? I also listen to shiurim. I don't want to have to fly to America every time I want to here an American Rov give a shiur. So I have internet - filtered of course. My children can't use the computer because they don't even know the password. I would NEVER let them use it unsupervised. It is inviting the devil to take up permanent residence in their souls. Baruch Haba Reb Devil! The internet is filthy.

So if you are still going to keep your internet [some people really need it for work and for other reasons], please remember. It is dangerous. Some of the finest people I know have fallen. LOW!! [I would share stories but it is not necessary.]

The internet is filthy.Gilui Arayos - loads. Shfichus domim - violence? Endless! Avoda Zara - the Christians spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convert us via the internet.

Lord save us!!

Love and blessings!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Death And Marriage

The Gemara at the beginning of maseches kiddushin derives from the acquisition of Mearas Hamachpeila that one can marry a women with money [or something of monetary value]. [In the context of the acquisition of the cave it says "kach" - take, and then says that it was taken with money. So too with respect to kiddushin where it says ki "yeekach" eesh eesha - when a man "takes" a woman, we understand it to mean money as it does with respect to the cave.]


We learn how to get married from Avraham buying a BURIAL PLOT for his wife. MORBID! Is that what a chosson is suppposed to think about under the chuppah?! Burying her??


Marriage is Chessed. From beginning to end!!

That is what we learn. A spouse must never stop bestowing kindness - even after expiration.

Love and blessings! Good Shabbos Sweetest Friends!!!

A shiur on the parsha.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The World Of Falsehood

How does a true student of mussar think?

Rav Eliyahu Lapian was a tzaddik/angel who died in Eretz Yisrael 40 years ago and taught countless students. [His "Lev Eliyahu" is HIGH on the Alleyways reading list. If you learn it because of this "shout-out" please tell me.] One friday night he was singing Aishes Chayil and when he said the pasuk "noda bashearim baala bishivto im ziknei aretz" he suddenly became silent and pensive. Afterwards his wife asked him to relate what was going through his head.

He explained: "When I come to Yeshiva everybody stands up for me. I ask myself "Who ARE you Eliyahu Lapian that you deserve such honor?!". Then somebody places a siddur on my shtender so I will have one prepared when I get there. When the Chazzan finishes Shema he waits for me finish before continuing. I ask myself "Who ARE you Eliyahu Lapian that you deserve such honor?!". The the Chazzan waits for me to finsh Shmoneh Esrei before he begins his repetition. I ask myself "Who ARE you Eliyahu Lapian that you deserve such honor?!" Tonight, when I got to the pasuk in Aishes Chayil "noda bashearim baala [her husband will be known in the gates] etc." I thought to myself that this is a world of falsehood but in the next world the truth will be revealed. So I started to cry.

Sweetest friends, one thing is for sure. When Reb Elya arrived in the world of truth he received MUCH more honor than he ever received in this world. This IS a world of falsehood! But that is the way he viewed himself. "Who ARE you?!"

Ashreinu that we had such tzadikim in our midst!

[The story appears in Birkas Mordechai Parshas Chayei Sara]

Monday, November 09, 2009


"Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed.”

Albert Einstein

A wise man that Albert!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

From A Distance

A deep and beautiful guest article by my beloved chavrusa Tzvi Moshe Kantor:

In this week’s Parsha Hashem brings Avraham to the peak of all his tests. God commands Avraham to take from his flesh and blood, submit himself to the authority of Heaven and actively kill off his future lineage by taking Yitzchak’s life as a sacrifice. From the nature of this test we will be able to see how Hashem tests us in our personal lives, what He wants from the test, and how to tackle it.

The whole test of the Akeida is put best into context by the Zohar. It’s described there that the whole test came through to Avraham in a channel of ‘Aspaklaria D’Lo Nahara’ ‘A non-illuminated perception.’ There was vagueness in the communication from Hashem to Avraham.

The Mei HaShiloach takes these aforementioned ideas and reconnects them back to the words in the Passuk. The whole episode of the Akeida was introduced as follows (22:1) “V’HaElokim Nisa Es Avraham” ‘And Elokim tested Avraham.’ This Name of God connotes stricter judgment, shorter messages, a pulling back of God’s presence. It is through this distance that the space for test can become a possibility. And It is through this name that Hashem tests the faith of Avraham. (Parenthetically, this answers why the Akeida is a test for Avraham and not for Yitzchak. Avraham received this Aspaklaria D’Lo Nahara, a sense of distance from God. Yitzchak received the message in a crystal clear fashion as delivered by his father, so there were no feelings of doubt by him.)

The Ba’al Shem Tov explains the other side of the coin. When God test us, He slightly and temporarily drains us of our inner light and spiritual inspiration. When are we pushed down in this way, it serves us with a “wind-up” effect, pulling us back just enough that we can burst forth and shoot forwards to greater echelons afterwards.

It is through this that we understand the nature of test. God makes a gap. He pulls Himself back and pushes us down. And with distance created it provides us with the opportunity to prove ourselves.

So Avraham goes on his journey. After traveling for some time the Passuk says (22:4) ”Va’Yar Es HaMakom Me’Rachok,” ‘And he saw the place from a distance.’ But theAvodas Yisrael reads the line differently. He points out that “HaMakom” ‘The Place’ is often a reference to God. After all, God is the source of all space, so it is fitting that some level, we address Him as the entirety of the human experience, and from this we arrive at the title of Hashem, “HaMakom,” God is the totality of space. If this is true, one can read the passuk as follows: “Va’Yar Es HaMakom Me’Rachok,” And Avraham percieved God from a distance. The aspect of the relationship with God that we call “HaMakom" which is reference to the fact that He fills every facet of life, is specifically where Avraham felt a distance.

In light of the above, it is now that we arrive at the first goal of a test: God wants us to train ourselves to feel spiritual distance. He wants us to be kedusha-sensitive enough to see when things are not ok.

So how does Avraham respond to this awareness? He tells Yishmael and Eliezer to stay behind as he says to them (22:5) “Ani V’Ha’Nar Nelcha Ad Koh” ‘Myself and the child (Yitzchak) will travel out to ‘there.’’ But “Ad Koh,” ‘Out to there,’ has a very indefinite connotation. ‘Myself and Yitzchak are going to just go out to whatever ‘there’ is in hopes that there we will there be able to serve Hashem.’

This translates perfectly into what we have said until now! The whole test came through vagueness and distance. And when Avraham becomes aware of this he realizes that his Ikar Avodah, that his main job in the situation is simply to reach out into the fog of uncertainty of Aspaklaria D’Lo Nahara and not stop until he can properly serve God. And how long will this journey take? This yearning needs to be “Ad Koh.” It’s a never-ending journey.

So what is the goal of a test? To see how much greater we become when we do our best to bridge that gap. To venture into the uncertainty and unclarity with the aim of drawing nearer to the Source of all life. Rav Shalom Arush explains it in B’Gan Ha’Emuna that when I try to grow, and things are just not working out like I planned, it is because Hashem is temporarily holding me back, so that when he lets me go I shoot forward like a spiritual sling shot, and end up on a holier level than I would have, had I not had difficulty in the beginning.

So how do we do it? How do we bridge the gap? We can understand based on a method explained by the Yalkut Menachem on our parsha. The Passuk in Tehillim 111:6 says “Reishis Chochma Yiras Hashem” In order to achieve a clearer perception of reality I need to fear God. I need to lower myself, and take an honest accounting of what I am versus what I should be. But He contrasts this passuk to the Gemara inBava Basra 21 says that it is only because of the competitiveness of the scholars that we merit Torah growth in the world. On one side I need to make myself small, on the other side I need to attempt to be big. How do we balance the two? He explains based on a fundamental idea brought down by the Chovos HaLevavos 6:10. If a person makes himself humble and lowers himself, in no way will he be able to take his religious duties lightly. If he knows he is small, then this will empower him to strengthen himself. I essence if I am always thinking that what I am doing now is not enough, then surely I will constantly be striving for more. So through the primary level of being straight with myself and God, will I thereby gain the strength to serve God as powerfully as I can.

Rav Kook explains this idea in Oros HaTeshuva (chapter 3). He says there that when a person takes an accounting of his deeds and attempts to improve his Avodas Hashem he feels a bitterness from the pain of his past, in which has wrapped up inside of it a sense of joy for what is to come from this new aspiration to grow. As person whose soul is sensitive to moral wrongdoing I feel down and distant because of my mess-ups. The guilt weighs down on me, and I long to break free of my shackles. The longing to deal with these issues works like a force to shatter the darkness, opening a new window of light of growth. With my pain in my back pocket, I can use it, with joy as a source of happiness and growth. If I am always feeling like I am just starting out on a path of spiritual growth, then I will always be pushing for the best.

This idea is deeply rooted in the idea of ‘Ad Koh’ that we saw before. The level of growth I can achieve is nothing short of INFINITE as long as I am constantly cognizant that there more to grow. All I need to do is continually keep the mindset that I am just beginning I always have the freshness and excitement to press onward.

If I can constantly push myself to bigger and better levels, then I will see that the possibilities are endless. If I relentlessly reach out into the fogginess of Aspaklaria D’Lo Nahara that all so often clouds my life, then the amount of fulfillment that I will reach will skyrocket exponentially with every level that I strive to attain. WE ALL CAN DO THIS! And if we do there is no doubt we will live lives of meaning, raising to the highest levels of satisfaction and happiness, moving closer to the Creator and thereby closer to the redemption!


When the Holy Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz came to New York in the early 1900's, he was given the key to the city [I didn't know thay locked it..]. The Mayor, Jimmy Walker reportedly said about him [as told in All For The Boss] "Darwin could not have been correct when he said that we are descended from monkeys. This man exudes the Divine." [If you have the book check it up to see if the quote is exact and tell me].

The Sfas Emes in Parshas Bereishis says that in fact every Jew should be a witness to G-d's presence on earth through his behavior and lifestyle.

That is our lifelong task. "Vayichulu" - the world is a kli for Godliness and we must bring this out.


Is Marriage A Relic Of A Bygone Era?

Let's do away with marriage?


Baruch atah Hashem she-lo asani goy!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


I neglected to mention that the last post was in honor of the tenth yahrzheit of Walter ben Edward Charles Payton of the Chicago Bears whose nickname was "Sweetness".

Better a Hungry Bear than a foolish person.

Hashem save us!!

Love to all!

A shiur for Vayeira.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bears And Fools

"Better let a man be confronted by a bear bereft of his cubs than by a fool in his foolishness" Mishlei 17/12.

Sweetest friends! I would rather meet a STARVING BEAR than have anything to do with a foolish indivudual. So said the wisest of all men! A bear will eat a person for breakfast [a big guy counts as brunch:)], but a fool will cause him to stray from G-d!

Lord save us!

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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