Friday, March 28, 2008

There is a time and place for everything

Every week I get a Dvar Torah from my Alma mater, OJ. While reading this weeks newsletter I happened upon a beautiful Dvar Torah based off of the words "Vayidom Aron".

By R' Dovid Schechter (Yeshivas Ohr Yerushalayim)

"Vayidom Aharon" and Aharon was silent. The midrash asks "What could he have said? and responds he could have said 'ubayom hashmini yimol b'sar orlaso' (and on the eighth day circumcise his foreskin)".
The 'Yalkut Sofer' explains this seemingly unexplainable midrash; just like we are born uncircumcised because Hashem wants our action in fullfiling the mitzvah of milah, maybe it should be better to bring a fire that a person lit to the mizbei'ach and not wait for the G-d given fire. Aharon could have said a sevara based on the mitzvah of milah to show the innocence of Nadav and Avihu who wanted to fullfil the mizvah of bringing the fire on their own. Aharon chose instead silence.

*I also saw this in the Sefer Shallal Rav, it was quoted in the name of Yisuos Malko.

The Yishuos Malko says on this same midrash that Aron's response would have been viable after the Mishkan was inaugurated. On the day of its inauguration however, which carries with it the same happiness that came with the creation of the heavens and the earth, there is no reason for one to bring of the hediot (like what we do at a bris), therefore making their offering a "foreign fire, in which G-d did not command". There is a time and place for everything.

Parshas Shemini - "It Can't Hurt To Take A Closer Look"

Vayikra 11:4 “But this is what you shall not eat form among those that bring their cud or that have split hooves: the camel , for it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split – it is clean to you;”

The famous Rav Yeruchem of the Mir Yeshiva says that one should not think that the signs of a kosher and non-kosher animal are arbitrary or that they are merely external. The fact that the animal is not kosher, that itself CAUSES the external signs to be present. The fact that an animal is not kosher, that itself is the cause of the signs. And, we see that if even one non-kosher sign is present, even though in its other signs the animal seems to be kosher, the animal is NOT kosher. Says Rav Yeruchem: wherever there is lack of purity, you will see the signs! Whenever something not kosher is present, even in only one small aspect, you will see the signs!

*From Rav Asher Balanson Shlit”a (Also can be found on

Vayikra 10:6 “… your brethren the entire House of Israel shall bewail the fire that Hashem ignited”

In his hesped for the Vilna Gaon, Rav Binyamin Wolf Lau explained the above pasuk by first explaining another pasuk from Parsha Ekev (Devarim 8:5) “…Just as a father will chastise his son, so Hashem, your G-d, chastises you.” The meforshim on this pasuk explain that it is the nature of a father not to have his child punished by someone else (lest he overpunish him and hurt his dear child). Therefore the father insists that he be the one who punishes his child.

We see this same thing by the death of wicked people, which is carried out by the malach hamaves (angel of death) who is a messenger. By the death of tzaddikim however, their deaths are carried out by Hakadosh Baruch Hu himself. We see this very clearly from the death of Moshe Rabbeinu who died with a kiss.

Hopefully we can now somewhat get a picture of what types of people Nadav and Avihu were. They were so great that the entire nation of Israel broke out into tears over the “burning that Hashem burnt”. This means to say that Nadav and Avihu were of such a high stature that their father, hakadosh Baruch hu wanted to deliver their deaths himself. This was a direct sign for all of Klal Yisrael that although they had brought a ‘foreign fire’, they were still nevertheless still held in the highest regard by Hashem. Which is why Moshe told Aron, “They are greater than both you and I.”

Sometimes we are too quick to judge, we look at people like Nadav and Avihu and we assume that because they went against the rules and were punished for them, they must be bad people (like the miraglim). After flipping around the situation and looking at it from a different perspective it turns out that these people were holier than the average man, and thus deserve recognition for their avoda.

It can’t hurt to take another look…


Aaron's Clean Hands

Vayikra 9:22 "Aaron raised his hands toward the people and blessed them..."

It seems that there is special meaning behind this pasuk. Did Aaron arbitrarily decide that he wanted to bless Klal Yisrael? Was there any specific reason for it?

We see in Tractate Brachos (32b) "any Kohen who kills a person can not [duchan] raise his hands". Furthermore we know that Aaron took part in the golden calf, which caused many people from Klal Yisrael to die. How could he duchan afterwards?

One can answer that becuase it was an Ones, Aaron could not be held accountable for his actions for he feared that the idolators would have killed him like they did to Chur. Therefore Aaron was allowed to Duchan.

Rebbi Yosef Schwartz says that this is the reason for this pasuk. "Aaron raised his hands" to show Klal Yisrael that his hands were clean from murder, and that he was fully able to bless them through Bircas Kohanim.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do We Have to Wait?

I'm sure that many of you who are reading this post are hoping that it is premised on one of mankind's many existential quandaries. Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately, this post is about something of a different nature:

Namely, does one need to wait six hours (or however long they wait) after tasting - but not swallowing - chicken or meat soup before eating dairy?

Tasting: Merely tasting and not swallowing or chewing solid or liquid meaty foods does not render on "fleishig"(Tzitz Eliezer 14:47; Be'er Moshe 2:28). As long as one drinks and rinses their mouth they may eat dairy products without having to wait. One can "clean" their mouth by eating a chunk of parve and chewing it thoroughly. "Rinsing" the mouth cmeans washing out the mouth with water or taking a drink of water or any other beverage. (Pischei Halacha says that Brushing teeth does this as well)

Chewing: One who chewed meat or chicken but did not swallow any, should clean and rinse his mouth and teeth and wait at least one hour before eating dairy. (R' Akiva Eiger 89:1, the Pischei Teshuva is more stringent and says that one would have to wait their full waiting time)

Swallowing: One who swallowed even without cheing any solid or liquid meaty food, should wait however long he normally waits after eating meat before eating dairy.

* Taken from R' Neustadt's Diyunei Halacha - The Daily Halachic Discussion
**Please consult your Local Rabbi on the matter before coming to any Halachic Decisions

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Birthday

I have been meaning to write something on Birthdays for quite some time now. This idea was sparked by a friend of mine who told me (after I had exuberantly wished him a happy birthday) that there was no source for celebrating ones day of birth.

In short, I began a mission in order to find a source of celebrating Jewish birthdays. I quickly got my hands on an article that was written on Friday August 22, 2003 by Mark Mietkiewicz, titled Judaism's rich traditions of birthdays. It was an interesting article but I wasn't sure about the credibility of many of his sources. (If anyone wants to read the article please post a comment on the matter and I would love to send it to you.) This morning I was "surfing" the web and I found myself reading a fascinating article about celebrating birthdays in Halacha on I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

“Most people cherish the day on which they were born and make a party on that day.”[1]

Judaism teaches that a birthday is not just another day. The Torah even offers some insights and party tips on how a birthday is to be observed.[2] Everyone should be sure to know the date of his or her Hebrew birthday. One is advised to send a greeting card to others on the occasion of their birthday.[3] Oddly enough, the only time we find a birthday party mentioned anywhere in Tanach is in relation to the wicked Pharaoh,[4] though historically Jewish kings would celebrate their birthdays as well.[5]

The Jewish nation as a whole celebrates its birthday every year – Pesach! This holiday of liberation and redemption has often been referred to as the birthday of the Jewish nation. Indeed, no less a personage than the prophet Ezekiel recommends that we observe Pesach as a national birthday party.[6] Rashi even suggests that we should each imagine that we’re newborn babies every year at Pesach.[7] Pesach is also the birthday of Yitzchak Avinu.[8] In fact, the inauguration of the Mishkan was delayed from it's completion in Kislev until Nissan in order that the inauguration serve as both a dedication of the Mishkan as well as a celebration in honor of the birthday of Yitzchak Avinu.[9] Similarly, Shavuot is somewhat of a birthday party for King David as well.[10] It is interesting to note that the date on which the world was actually created remains unresolved, and hence, we don’t truly know when to celebrate its birthday.[11]

While a birthday party should include some delicious birthday cake, one might want to consider avoiding the practice of lighting candles on the cake, as it's actually an evil pagan custom, according to Philochorus, the Greek historian. It was even believed that birthday candles have the power to make dreams come true, hence the custom of making a wish before blowing out the candles.[12] It is also worth noting that blowing out candles at any time is to be discouraged, due to the close symbolic connection between a candle and a soul.[13]

The day of one’s birth offers that individual the mystical benefits and powers of what is known in Kabbala as “ascending fortune.” In fact, when having attacked the Jewish people, the evil Amalekites sent those soldiers who were celebrating their birthday to the front lines in confidence that the merit of their birthday would make them victorious and protect them from harm.[14] Similarly, to Haman's dismay, it was the merit of Moshe Rabbeinu's birthday that the Jewish people were saved from Haman's evil plot.[15] It is therefore considered worthwhile to seek a blessing from one celebrating their Hebrew birthday. Such blessings are said to have a better chance of being fulfilled.

It is appropriate on one’s birthday to focus on one’s individuality and reflect on one’s personal interpretations of the Talmudic teaching that “the world was created for me.”[16] It is also appropriate to hold a celebratory meal on one's birthday. When one says Divrei Torah at such a meal, it turns the entire experience into a Seudat Mitzva.[17] We are told that even the angels celebrate the birthdays of Tzaddikim and consider the day a Yom Tov.[18]

The acceptance of good resolutions in honor of one’s birthday contributes to the Jewish nation as a whole, and helps bring Mashiach closer. The power of change in one's behavior on one’s birthday has the potential of bringing the redemption on that very day.[19] It goes without saying that the 12th birthday for girls and the 13th birthday for boys have special significance. The Zohar teaches that from the perspective of joy and celebration, the day of one's bar mitzva is comparable to the day of one’s wedding.[20]

Just as the birthday of our people is celebrated each year with rites and rituals, so too, the birthday of every individual Jew should be observed accordingly. In recent years, rabbinical authorities, most notably the late Lubavitcher Rebbe,[21] have compiled a number of customs to be observed in honor of one’s birthday, which include to endeavor to be called to the Torah on the Shabbat before one’s birthday (when the birthday occurs on a day that the Torah is read, one should be called to the Torah on that day, too), to dispense extra charity on one's birthday, and to throw a party with one's family and friends. Any mitzvot that one performs one's birthday, especially the giving of charity, will have a greater impact both in terms of accomplishment as well as character development.[22] Some authorities suggest making a siyum in honor of the occasion.[23]

Additionally, in the spirit of the day, it is commendable to pray with greater intensity and concentration (especially with the recitation of Tehillim), to accept upon oneself some new act of piety or Torah observance, and to make resolutions for the coming year. One should study the Psalm that corresponds to one's age, along with the traditional commentaries, on one's birthday. For example, one who is 30 should study Chapter 31 of Tehillim. It suggested that one recite the chapter of Tehillim which corresponds to one's age every single day.[24] It may just be that one's 60th birthday celebration should be the most joyous.[25] Other sources, however, seem to suggest that it is the 50th birthday that is especially significant,[26] while other authorities list the 70th,[27] and 80th birthdays as the most significant.[28]

It is interesting to note that there exists a view that a birthday is actually no cause for celebration at all.[29] This idea being based on the famous Talmudic dispute which concludes that it would actually have been better if man had never been created.[30] It is also noted that in light of the fact that the only scriptural mention of birthdays is in relation to Pharaoh, it may be reason to suggest some hesitation in celebrating them.[31] Other authorities consider celebrating birthdays a Gentile custom.[32] There is also a view that one should consider making the anniversary of one's bris the occasion for an annual celebration rather than one's birthday (a brisday party?).[33]

Nevertheless, the normative Torah approach is not like these views. A Jewish birthday is indeed to be considered a very special day.[34] It is certainly not a day to be wasted, but rather a day to be maximized with Torah study and mitzvot. We must also be sure to thank God for our milestone, which some do by reciting the blessing of Shehecheyanu in conjunction with new clothing, or the like.[35] There were even great sages who celebrated their birthdays.[36] The Talmud even notes the birthdays of our forefathers which conveys to us the importance of a birthday.[37]


[1] Midrash Sechel Tov, Bereishit 40:20.
[2] Bereishit 40:20.
[3] Iggeret Tiferet Yisrael 6, Sefer Mayim Hahalacha
[4] Bereishit 40:20. See also Avoda Zara 10a
[5] Hoshea 7:5;Metzudat David. Cited in "Yom Huledet L'or Hamekorot" by Rabbi Efraim Weinberger
[6] Based on Yechezkel 16:4.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Bereishit Rabba 48:12, Shemot Rabba 15:11, Tosfot;Rosh Hashana. Cited in "Yom Huledet L'or Hamekorot" by Rabbi Efraim Weinberger
[9] Pesikta 6, Midrash Rabba Pekudei 52:2. Cited in "Yom Huledet L'or Hamekorot" by Rabbi Efraim Weinberger
[10] O.C. 490:9, Sha'arei Teshuva 494:7
[11] Rosh Hashana 10b.
[12] Cited in Rabbi Avrohom Blumenkrantz, The Laws of Pesach, 2001.
[13] Mishlei 20:27.
[14] Yerushalmi Rosh Hashana 3:8, cited in:
[15] Megilla 13b;Rashi
[16] Sanhedrin 37a.
[17] Pitchei Teshuva Y.D. 217:16, Be’er Sheva 72, Kaf Hachaim 223:29, Kaf Hachaim 568:25, Yabia Omer O.C. 6:29
[18] Sefer Hasichot 5703, p. 90 and p. 186
[19] Based on Tehillim 95:7.
[20] Zohar Chadash, Bereishit.
[21] Sefer Haminhagim (Chabad) Birthdays
[22] Rabbi Chaim Paladgi, cited in:
[23] Ketav Sofer Y.D. 148, Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 225
[24] Igrot Kodesh Vol. 3, p. 451
[25] Mo'ed Katan 28a, Kaf Hachaim 223:29
[26] Ketav Sofer Y.D. 148
[27] Chavot Yair 70
[28] Beit Yisrael #32, cited in:
[29] Arugot Habosem 215, Sefer Divrei Torah 5:88, cited in
[30] Eruvin 13b
[31] Sefer Otzar Kol Minhagei Yeshurun. Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg of Ner Yisrael noted however that it is not foreign for the Torah to associate even legitimate ideas with wicked people. He endorsed the celebration of birthdays.
[32] Arugat Habosem 215, Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 225
[33] Chatam Sofer;Torat Moshe to Parshat Vayeira, Ben Ish Chai;Parshat Re’eh 17 both cited in
[34] Ketav Sofer Y.D. 148, Ben Ish Chai Vayera #17, cited in Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 225
[35] Ginzei Yosef 1:4:2
[36] Hakatan V'hilchotav 84
[37] Rosh Hashana 11a

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The Beur Halacha asks the question, how can Chazal say that people should drink if they run the possibility of hurting themselves?

The Eliya Rabba answers that people do not have to drink it is just Lichatchila to. This is a day of Kedusha, not a day to be idiots, a cheshbon MUST be made so that no brachos are missed!

The Gemara in Messeches Megilla 7b tells the story of Rava and Rav Zeira who ate their Seuda together. Rava drank so much that he ultimately killed Rav Zeira. Rav Zeira came back to life. Upon being asked to rejoin him the next year, R’ Zeira responded, “We do not depend on Miracles”. The Q is…….

Q: How much should one drink on Purim?

- The Gematria of Arrur Haman and Baruch Mordechai is 502 – When you can no longer figure out the Gematria you have drunk too much.

- (Taz and Gr”a) Until you can no longer contemplate which victory was greater: The win of Mordechai or the demise of Haman.

- (Yad Efraim) Drink enough that you still understand (Ad Bichlall) the difference between Arrur Haman and Baruch Mordechai. Once you pass this point you have lost the ikkar mitzvos hayom.

- (Tosafos) Until you no longer know the words to Shoshanas Yaakov

- (Baal Hamaor) The Gemara tells the story of Rava and R’ Zeira to show that Chazal were entirely mivatel the Chiyuv to drink. (Problem: If this was true then why did R’ Zeira turn down Rava the next year?)

- (Rambam) Until one falls asleep from being drunk.

- (Rama) Until one can fall asleep/ a little bit more than one is used to.

Please Do not Drink and Drive!

*All Heard from R' Shaya Greenwald Shlit"a (Yeshivas Ohr Yerushalayim)

This is Why We Call Our Holiday Purim

Megillas Esther 3:7 “In the first month, which is the month of Nissan, in the twelfth year of King Achashveirosh, pur was cast in the presence of Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.”

“Tanna: When a lot was pulled from the month of Adar, Haman was incredibly happy. He said, ‘I picked a lot that represents the month that Moshe died.’ He didn’t know however that on the 7th of Adar, Moshe died and that on the 7th of Adar he was also born.” – (Megillah 13b)

Why was it such a great thing that Moshe was born in Adar, regardless he also ultimately died during that month? Also, why is the holiday called Purim, don’t we usually name our holidays based off of the miracle that happened to us; the Pur was the key to our supposed downfall?

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l explains in the introduction to his work Darash Moshe, that the other Nations of the world believe that there are specific people who are considered to be ‘holy’. These people wear distinct clothing, they don’t get married, and they don’t drink alcohol. All of this however is fake holiness. Using this system, the rest of the people can respond that only the holy people have to keep the commandments of morality and trust but normal people are free to do whatever they please. Not only that but if by chance one of these ‘holy people’ slips and sins all of their observers will rationalize that because this clergyman can sin, so can they. The rules of modern society are thus dictated by these ‘holy people’ who can toy with the rules as they please.

The Torah however is not like this. The Torah tells us that everyone must abide by the same laws and moral code. We are all on the same level. This can be learned out from Moshe Rabbeinu who was born and who had a wife. He matched everyone else. Every person whether they be great or simple has the same laws. From this it can be that a great person learns from a simple person and vice versa. For both of them were born and their present stature is only a testament to the amount that they have worked.

As a result of this, if a great and knowledgeable Torah scholar slips from the path of the Torah, people do not follow his ways because they realize that all of the scholar’s greatness is from the Torah. Once this person leaves the path of the Torah he is no longer considered to be a Gadol. (As discussed in, “A Nation of Mordechais”)

Now we can understand why Haman was ecstatic to see that the lot fell in Adar. Haman was of the understanding that since Moshe, the great leader of Klal Yisrael had died their grasp of the Torah had weakened as well. The truth however was the complete opposite. Just like Moshe died during this month he was also born. Each and every Jew, from the moment of their birth has the potential to be great like Moshe. Moshe’s death was just a reminder to the Jewish people that Moshe was not supernatural but that he was a great person. Not only that but when people see that a great Talmid Chacham has died they feel the need to fill this void with more Talmidei Chachamim. A Tzaddik’s death only strengthens Klal Yisrael.

We therefore see that when Haman picked the “pur” and it was the month of Adar, He made a tremendous miscalculation. This miscalculation was our fortune. This is why we call our holiday Purim.


A Nation of Mordechais

Megillas Esther 3:6 “However, it seemed contemptible to him to send [his] hand against Mordechai alone, for they had told him of [Am Mordechai] the people of Mordechai”

It is said over in the name of Rav Itzele Blazer that at the beginning Haman’s plan was to force Mordechai to bow down to him. He wanted to do this because he realized that Mordechai was their leader and if he bowed then they would all ultimately bow down.

Haman eventually learned of ‘Am Mordechai’, i.e. Klal Yisroel, a nation that had a strong tradition and had stood the test of time. Only then, did Haman realize that even if Mordechai were to succumb and bow down to him, HIS NATION still would not. Jewish law dictates that if a Talmid Chacham violates the Torah he is considered to be a weak link in the congregation. If Mordechai were to make the decision to bow down to Haman, Klal Yisrael would immediately lose respect for him. Not only would they not bow, but they would become a stronger force than they had previously been. After coming to this realization, Haman refocused his hatred not only to Mordechai but to the Nation (Am) Mordechai as well.

Was Esther Crazy?

Megillas Esther 7:6 “And Esther said, a despicable man, this terrible Haman”

“Rabbi Eliezer said, we can learned from here that Esther originally pointed to Achashveirosh when she said, “a despicable man”, immediately an angel came and pushed her hand in the direction of Haman” – (Yalkut Shimoni Esther)

It seems rather crazy, how is it possible that Esther HaMalka ever would have considered pointing at Achashveirosh?! Didn’t she realize that by doing so, she was putting herself and the rest of Klal Yisrael in danger?

Rav Shlomo HaLevi Alkabeitz answers in Manos HaLevi (his work on Megillas Esther) that Esther wanted to give herself up for death.

Esther knew the law, that if anyone in the royal family dies all of the Kingdom’s edicts and decrees were relinquish, she therefore wished to give up her own life, so that Klal Yisrael would not have be annihilated.

Charvonah Zachor LaTov!

Megillas Esther 1: 10 - “Charvonah”

Interestingly, in Megillas Esther when speaking about Achashveirosh’s Servant, Charvonah, his name is spelled in two different ways. In the first Perek ( 1:10)an ‘Aleph’ is at the end of his name and in the seventh Perek, (7:9) “Charvonah one of his officers said before the king, here is the tree that Haman had made for Mordechai…” his name is spelled with a ‘Hey’?!

In his Responsa, Mayim Chaim, Rav Chaim HaKohen Rappaport answers that in the Sefer Beis Shmuel on Gittin it is written that when a name ends with an ‘Aleph’ it means that the name is a secular name, but when it ends with a ‘Hey’ it is a holy name.

Rav Rappaport continues to answer that at first Charvonah’s name was mentioned with an ‘Alef’, because that was his true essence, he was a gentile officer of the King. In the seventh Perek however Chazal say that the Charvonah that was mentioned was not the gentile officer but that he was Eliyahu HaNavi coming in the form of Charvonah to tell Achashveirosh that Haman should be killed on the gallows that he had set aside to kill Mordechai on. Therefore he was truly a holy person, and the name Charvonah is written with a ‘Hey’.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How did Mordechai feed Esther?????????

2:7 “Vayihi Omein Es Hadasa Hi Esther Bas Dodo”

The Medrish in (Breishis Rabba, Parsha 30) mentions a “Peledicka Zach”: Mordechai looked around all of Shushan for a wet-nurse for Esther. After much time spent-- he couldn’t find one. In the end, Hashem did a miracle and gave him the ability to nurse her.

Where in the Megillah can this interesting Medrish be learned out from?

Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlit”a writes that it is possible that this Peleh can be learned out from the pasuk, “Vayihi Omein es Hadassa Hi Esther”. We know that every time that the term Vayihi is used it connotes something negative (See [Va]yihi vs. [Vi]haya). What was the negative thing that happened here?

Rav Chaim answers that Mordechai needed an Omenes (wet nurse) but could not find one. When it said Vayihi Omen it connotes that he himself fed Esther.

After discussing the matter with my friend Gabi, he told me about a Rama Mipanu in Shaar Hagilgulim which quotes a story about a man who needed a wet-nurse. After much time searching, he still could not find one. One day, “out of the blue”, Hashem gave him the ability to nurse his child. The Rama MePanu says that this person was a gilgul of Mordechai!

[Va]yihi vs. [Vi]haya

Megillas Esther 1:2 “Vayihi Bimei Achachveirosh” – “And it was in the days of Achashveirosh”

(Esther Rabba, Psichtos, 11) Every place when it says “Vayihi” – it connotes sorrow. What is the sorrow that is suggested at the beginning of Megillas Esther? Haman HaRasha began his ruse to destroy the Jewish people.

Adding on to the above Midrash, the Nachlas Dovid points out that every place it says, “ViHaya” it is a connotation of happiness that is to come.

The root of the word Vayihi = Yihi (will be) however is clearly connected with something that is to happen in the future. By simply adding a vav at the beginning of the word we change the word from future tense to past tense – [Va]Yihi.

The same has proven to be true with the word ViHaya. By simply adding a vav infront of the word haya (it was) the word becomes – [Vi]Haya, which has a connotation towards the future. (“Vihaya Biacharis Ayamim” – “And it will be in the end of days”)

Now that we understand that the added Vav entirely switches the meaning of the word. We can begin to understand as to why the word Vayihi = sorrow and why Vihaya = happiness.

One who is left in sorrow wishes to switch the circumstances of their present situation to the way that it used to be in the past. On the flipside, one who is presently in a state of happiness wishes that their happiness and good fortune will stick with them into the future.

Megillas Esther leaves us with mixed feelings. At the beginning we started with a VaYihi nevertheless at the end we had feelings of a Vihaya. Iy”H, we should only have to say Vihaya and no longer be forced to say the painful and sorrowful term - Vayihi.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Parshas Vayikra - "Putting Yourself Out There"

QUICKIE/ FUNFACT: Vayikra 1:2 "…When a man among you brings an offering to Hashem…"

The Sforno commenting on this passage says that an animal offering is not only an offering of one's animal but it is also an offering of oneself. An obvious question is, how does a person bring himself as an offering to G-d? Rav Eliezer Man Shach Zt"L answers that we can learn a tremendous lesson from the bringing of Korbanos. A person brings themselves as a Korban before Hashem when they stand before G-d and admit their nothingness with a broken heart. When a person shows this humility, even if they have a physical imperfection, which would disqualify them as a karban in the mikdash, they are still considered to be a perfect Sacrifice before the Lord. Not only are they Kosher as a Korban but they are considered to be an Olah offering, one that is most desired by the Ribbono Shel Olam.

The opening of the third book of the Torah begins with something unique and special. We are left to understand the small aleph that is written at the end of the first word of the parsha, Vayikra. After working on the Mishkan, and its construction was complete it was still lacking something. It was lacking the appeasement of G-d. Within this Calling (Vayikra) which Hashem did to Moshe, the Mishkan was now officially complete. It was until this point in history that Klal Yisrael waited for this Calling from Hakadosh Baruch Hu to Moshe. This calling was Hashem's notion of breathing life into the Mishkan and deeming it a valid resting spot. To make note of this point a small aleph is written in the Torah.

Why was this calling that was done by Hashem, specifically one that related to the Karbanos? If a person wants to be forgiven for a sin the Karban is not the most essential part of the offering but it is the Viduy and the Charata that comes with it that is the most important part! The Ramban answers that when a person brings a Karban it is not just like he is bringing the animal but it is like what we said earlier, he is bringing himself. A person should feel that his atonement is coming because all of the things that he is presently doing to the animal are also happening to him (Slaughtering, Skinning, spilling of the blood). therefore the giving of the Karban is one in the same with the Viduy and the Charata.

It says in the Midrash at the beginning of this Parsha that we should start teaching our children from Parshas Vayikra and not from Breishis and Shmos. Why is this? One would assume that they should try to amuse their children with the beautiful stories of our forefathers and then make an attempt at teaching them the more complicated details of the sacrifices. The Shulchan Shlomo answers, that quickly after commencing the studies of the Karbanos a person realizes that there is only so much that a Karban can fix. If one sins by mistake then he brings a Karban Chatas. If he sins on purpose however, he either pays with his life or some other sort of physical affliction. The Midrash says that we should start teaching our children from Parshas Vayikra because they will instantaneously realize the sensitivity of sin and they will distance themselves from it.

We are too teach our children the message of, Sur Meira Viasei Tov. This message is not only important to the children but it is equally as important to us as adults. When reading the Karbanos we are too imagine the scene as if we are being sacrificed on the mizbeach. The messege is clear we just have to internalize it.

HAVE A FANTASTIC SHABBOS! and a Shabbat Shalom ~

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Letter From The House Of A Mourner

Sent: Monday, March 10, 2008 4:33 PM
Subject: wrote this about one of the murdered in Israel on Thurs...

To my dear friends and family,
_____ and I just got back form paying a shiva call to the family of Segev Avichayil, the young boy murdered in the terrorist attack Thursday night. I was expecting a terrible scene of crying and shouting, of blaming and lots of unanswered questions. What we encountered was the exact opposite.
the apartment was a modest one, the only interior design being the sefer lined living room walls. this was clearly a home of torah and yirat shamayim. at least a hundred people were crowded into the room, all listening while the father of this young man spoke with total composure and clarity. Segev's mother and sister sat quietly listening to words which are difficult to imagine coming from a man whose son had been so cruelly torn from him. I tried to absorb every word, knowing that I was in the presence of greatness and would probably never encounter strength like this again.
Rav Avichayil was telling all the heartbroken people who came to comfort him that he was not broken. He said that he and his wife, and all of their remaining children were stronger in their faith and love for Hashem than ever. He said that Hashem has chosen this time for the Jewish nation to return to its borders, and the terrorist was just a shaliach to test our resolve to resettle the land. Hashem had now chosen a new path for him and his family to embark on, and all he could do was thank Hashem for having been graced with such a precious neshama for the years his son lived.
someone there asked if he had questions for Hashem. He said that the gemara is written in a way that there are always more questions to be asked, deeper layers to reveal and understand. He said that he did not have questions of Hashem, he just knows that he can not understand everything yet. he said that he had no questions, just perhaps he felt a lack of clarity. He went on to describe his son Segev, a boy so connected to torah at just 15 years old. he loved to learn with his father, and had deep respect for his father. He stood when his father entered the room, and always was very interested in how his father was doing. He called from yeshiva all the time to speak to his parents and siblings aways caring so much for what they were doing and how they were. He went regularly to the hospital to dance and sing and make people happy. His father asked him once if he was embarrassed to do it, and he could not understand the question. Why should he be embarrassed to make people happy. We have truly lost a special neshama.
Segev's Rav from Merkaz Harav was there. He told us that the reason Segev had been in the library the night of the shooting and not in the Bait midrash was because the Bait midrash was crowded and he did not want to be distracted from his learning. the terrorist killed all the students who could not escape the library fast enough. Segev died with his sefer still open in his hands.
May Hashem bring a nechama to this beautiful Jewish family, who raised their son with the most beautiful torah values and love for yidishkeit. May we see the yeshuah quickly in our days. We must all continue to daven for Shalom for klall yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, and for protection from the evil reincarnation of Haman and Amalek.
Besurot Tovot,

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunday, March 9, 2008

ADAR @ Mickey D's!!!!!

* Maybe the sign should say rarely or usually not Kosher....who knows!?
**Click on the Title for more info on Adar!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Torah from Benjy's Room

While snooping around my little brothers room today I found the following piece of Torah.

Shemos 38:21 "These are the accounts of the Mishkan"

After reading through the beginning of this past weeks Parsha, you will read something rather peculiar. Why did Moshe only render detailed accounting for the silver? Didn't people also donate gold and copper?

R' Yonason Eibeshutz answers that Moshe specifically had to count the silver because the gold was derived from voluntary donations while the silver consisted of half shekels that every Jew had to bring. Moshe felt that some people who had made the obligatory donation may have been skeptical and therefore demand an exact accounting of what had been done with their money, but generous individuals who had made voluntary donations of gold would not be so petty as to insist on such a report.

Friday, March 7, 2008

MiShnichnas Adar Marbim BiSimcha

It says in the Shulchan Aruch ( Siman 686 Sif 3 M"B S"K 8) "MiShenichnas Adar Marbim BiSimcha" "When Adar starts everyone should be overtaken with happiness".

It is therefore a mitzvah to be overcome with joy during this month. We should feel this wholeheartedly both through our feelings and our actions. There are those that even go so far as to say that the month of Nisan also carries with it this obligation to be overcome with joy. The reason for this is because miracles happened for Klal Yisrael during both of these months.

The most common practice in Jewish communities is to hang up signs that say Mi Shenichnas Adar Marbim BiSimcha". Some however, make a point of placing this sign directly on top (covering) of the heker that they have in their house to remember the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. We do this specifically to make it known that this is not a time to be downtrodden but it is a time to be truly happy.


Parshas Pekudei - "Living With G-d"

FUNFACT/ QUICKIE: Shemos 38:21 "These are the accountings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of Testimony, which we counted at the word of Moses; the work of the Levites in the hand of Ithamar, son of Aaron the Kohen"

Why did Moshe Rabbeinu have to do these accountings? Why wasn't he believed by everyone that all of the money that was given to him was going to be used for the Mishkan?

Rav Baruch Simon answers in his sefer Imrei Baruch that Moshe knew that there were going to be scoffers, he therefore felt that if he wanted to be trusted by Klal Yisrael as their leader he had the responsibility to show them where each and everyone of their charitable donations had been allotted within the building of the Mishkan. Moshe felt that it was his responsibility as a role model for generations to come to exemplify the pasuk, (Bamidbar 32:22) "And you shall be clean amongst Hashem and Israel"

The Mishkan (Tabernacle) as we know it, is the place within the camp of Israel in which G-d dwelled (Mishkan = Shachen). This being the case, it was a common practice that many members of Klal Yisrael would come and bring offerings there to the Ribbono Shel Olam. Seemingly however the Mishkan was only effective as G-d's dwelling place only so long as the Luchos (Tablets) were there. Why is that?

The Ohr Hachaim HaKadosh along with many other commentators answers that the Mishkan was only effective as G-d's dwelling place so long as the tablets were there. This was because the Luchos were all encompassing. They featured the commandments that were between man and the divine as well as between man and man.

In order for the Shechina to dwell amongst Klal Yisrael it was/is imperative for both of these ideas to be together. There had to be a firm understanding amongst the people that they did not only have a religious responsibility to the Lord, but that they also had a responsibility to mankind. This is exemplified in the passage, (Bamidbar 32:22) "And you shall be clean amongst Hashem and Israel". When there was no Aron with the tablets inside of it there was no true judge of the Mishkan. If Klal Yisrael did not truly understand the difference between Bein Adam Lichaveiro and Bein Adam Limakom then there was no place for the Shechina to dwell there.

It is said in Meseches Shavuos 30a that it is important that everyone judge their friends virtuously. In addition it says in Meseches Avos (1:6) and in the Torah (Vaykira 19:16) that we must be "Dan Likaf Zechus". Meaning that if we see one of our friends doing something openly that may seem in our minds to be abominable both religiously and personally, it is our responsibility to analyze the situation fully and come to a positive conclusion that places our friend in a meritorious light.

The Mishkan, with the Luchos inside, was symbolic of Klal Yisrael's dedication to valuing their relationship with both G-d and mankind. This can be shown through the pasuk, "And you shall be clean amongst Hashem and Israel" nevertheless even if one person amongst us makes a mistake, the Torah also tells us that we have to be give them the benefit of the doubt and be "Dan LiKaf Zechus".

Many of G-d's commandments regarding the building of the Mishkan seemed meaningless and sometimes strange. Nevertheless after looking deeper and using the two concepts that are learned from Shavuos 30a (it is everyone's responsibilities to judge their friends virtuously) and Avos 1:6 (giving everyone the benefit of the doubt) the Mishkan made a lot more sense.


MiShEnIcHnAs aDaR MaRbIm BiSiMcHa!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Acheinu - Mercaz Harav

Today, R"L, there was a terrorist attack on Yeshivat Mercaz Harav which is located at the entrance of Yerushalayim. The Torah of Yeshivat Mercaz Harav has most definately touched each and everyone of us in a special way. May our Tefillos and Talmud Torah be Liilui Nishmas those who perished in the attack and for the speedy Refua Sheleima of those who were injured.

Our hearts go out to those who lost family members in the attack, "Hamakom Yinaschem mitoch aveilei tziyom biYerushalayim". "May Hashem, who is everywhere, comfort you amongst the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem".

Unfortunately it takes times like these to remind us that Acheinu Kol Beis Yisroel....

Please say the following piece of Tehillim for those who are critically wounded:

* פרק קל
א שִׁיר הַֽמַּֽעֲלוֹת מִמַּֽעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ יְהֹוָֽה
: ב אֲדֹנָי שִׁמְעָה בְקוֹלִי תִּהְיֶינָה אָזְנֶיךָ קַשֻּׁבוֹת לְקוֹל תַּֽחֲנוּנָֽי
: ג אִם־עֲוֹנוֹת תִּֽשְׁמָר־יָהּ אֲדֹנָי מִי יַֽעֲמֹֽד
: ד כִּי־עִמְּךָ הַסְּלִיחָה לְמַעַן תִּוָּרֵֽא
: ה קִוִּיתִי יְהֹוָה קִוְּתָה נַפְשִׁי וְֽלִדְבָרוֹ הוֹחָֽלְתִּי
: ו נַפְשִׁי לַֽאדֹנָי מִשֹּׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר שֹׁמְרִים לַבֹּֽקֶר
: ז יַחֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־יְהוָה כִּֽי־עִם־יְהֹוָה הַחֶסֶד וְהַרְבֵּה עִמּוֹ פְדֽוּת
: ח וְהוּא יִפְדֶּה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכֹּל עֲוֹנֹתָֽיו

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

HAMAPIL: The Night Time Prayer

Imagine the scene, after a rough day at work you put your kids to bed, after returning to your room and reciting the hamapil prayer, your child begins to cry insistently. You jump out of bed and turn on the lights. Running to the childs room you realize that you had already said HAMAPIL!

Are you allowed to sing your child back to sleep? Can you verbally bribe your child child to sleep?

Unfortunately there is little to no time to think about the Halacha, what do you do?

Although the act of sleep is sometimes involuntary, the laws that surround it and the prayer that must be said beforehand require a deeper analysis.

The major requirement of the recitation of Shma at night, before going to sleep, is the act of saying the blessing of Hamapil.

The Mishna Brura (239:3) while quoting the Seder Hayom (order of the day) says that one is supposed to recite Hamapil during the final seconds before closing his/her eyes at night.

Although we do not rule in accordance with this opinion we do try to say hamapil as close to this time as possible. In the best case scenario a person should try to prepare accordingly so there is little to no interruptions between the recitations of Hamapil and sleep itself.

Unfortunately for some, sleep only comes after hours of tossing and turning!

How should these people appropriate the blessing of Hamapil, while distancing themselves from a hefsek?

Halacha dictates that if one forgot to daven Ma’ariv, say Bracha Achrona, or count Sefiras HaOmer, at night and mistakenly said Hamapil he can recite whatever Tefillah or Bracha that he missed and does not have to worry even though he already said Hamapil.

Based on this many contemporary Poskim come to the following Halachik conclusion: One who uses the bathroom after saying Hamapil says an Asher Yatzar afterward or if he/she hears lightening then the appropriate bracha most definitely should be said.

(As an aside, if one needs to say Hamapil in another place aside from his/her bed then it is permissible, being that we do not care about shinui makom (change of location) by this particular bracha.

Being that all of the above is allowed to be preformed after saying Hama’apil, there is almost no excuse that could excuse a person from saying krias shema at night.

There are still those however (Tos. Brachos 11b) who say that regardless of all that we have said above, one may say hamapil and continue with his night as he pleases. Tosafos comes to this conclusion by explaining the mizvah of Sukkah. When one eats in a Sukka he has a mitzvah to say a bracha of “Leishev Basukka”, why is it that when one sleeps in the Sukkah he does not have the similar mitzvah to recite a “Lishan Basukkah”?

Tosafos answers that because of the possibility of rainfall one might recite the bracha and then go inside to sleep. Some Poskim use this Tosafos as a proof for it being permissible for one to talk after reciting Hamapil.

Hopefully now after knowing a few of the sources about Hamapil you will be able to come to an educated decision about how to properly prepare for sleep at night.

*Please speak to your Rav before putting any of the Halachik ideas that are discussed above into practice.

*Click on the Title of this post to have a better understanding of what defines being "asleep".

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Maybe We Can be like Moses

Check out this article that was written by R' Gil Student on his blog, Hirhurim - Musings. It is an interesting piece about the level to which we should judge ourselves and others.

After reading the article I recommend actually seeing the Gemara Yoma 35b (a Gemara that he quotes) in the text, it gives you more of a perspective.

I would be remiss if I forgot to tell you to check out the Gemara Rosh HaShana 15a.....the Gemara is pretty clear about the pro's and con's within the chapter of judging others aswell. It's a good one not to forget.

G-d Willing I will be writing up a few more pieces soon. Thank you for your patience.

You are Sorely Missed!

You are Sorely Missed!