Friday, August 29, 2008

Parshas Re'eh - "Every Quarter Counts"

QUICKIE/FUNFACT: Why does the Torah teach that IT WILL BE GOOD FOR YOUR CHILDREN specifically with regards to the command not to eat blood? (12:25)

A: The Kli Yakar explains that the reason why the Torah doesn't allow eating blood is because ingesting blood leads one to develop negative character traits. That, in turn, would certainly impact one's children as well. Thus, the Torah relates that refraining from eating blood will BE GOOD FOR YOUR CHILDREN as opposed to the negative results which would result from eating it.

*Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a

(Devarim 15:7 )"If there be a destitute person among you, of one of your brothers in any of your cities, in your land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, you shall not harden your heart not shall you close your hand against your destitute brother."

From the above verse we learn that the Torah instructs Klal Yisrael to give Tzedaka . Charity is an incredibly important mitzvah (commandment). This also can be seen in Mishlei 21:3, "Doing tzedaka and justice is preferable to HaShem than a sacrifice". In addition the Prophet Isaiah (1:27) says that It is through the mitzvah of tzedaka that the Jews shall be redeemed, as it says, "Zion will be redeemed through justice, and those who return to her through tzedaka". Giving tzedaka however is not just a noble act, giving tzedaka demonstrates a basic principle in Judaism. The statement is that our money and possessions are not truly ours, but are merely given over to us by HaShem to use as He commands us to.

The Alshech says that the above verse contains an additional moral lesson for man, which comes to explain the logic of the mitzvah of Tzedaka. The Pasuk says, "You shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your brother who is poor; rather, you shall surely open your hand to him." The Alshech expounds that whatever we do now, when we die we will have to open our hands. At that time, none of our material riches will go with us. All that will go with us are our good deeds. Why then, the Alshech posits, should we refrain from opening our hands when we have the ability to open them to others who are in more need than we are?

The Alshech seems to strike a nerve when he explains this mitzvah. In our day to day lives, we seem to live through our money and our material positions. Baruch Hashem many of us have been blessed with good fortune but how often do we think about our brothers and sisters who are living off of welfare when we get something excessively expensive? We should teach our children at a young age the importance of putting a quarter in the Tzedaka box. For Chazal say that "a person should grow accustomed to giving tzedaka by giving time after time, and then giving will become second nature with him, and he will not attempt to avoid giving by using various excuses."

May we receive chizuk from these words of Chazal and may our perspective change ever so slightly so we can not only help others but also help ourselves.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Parshas Va'eschanan - "Looking In All Directions"

QUICKIE/FUNFACT: (Devarim 5:12-16) "Shamor EsYom HaShabbas Likadsho…Kabeid Es Avicha V'Es Imecha…"

Why are the commandments of honoring ones father and mother and maintaining the sanctity of the Shabbos juxtaposed to one another?

The Baal Haturim in his commentary on the Chumash answers that just as one is supposed to honor his father and mother by dressing them nicely and by feeding them fine delicacies they are also supposed to celebrate the Shabbos by dressing beautifully and eating lavish meals.

(Divarim 3:27) "Aleh Rosh Hapisga V'Sah Enecha Yama V'Tzafona V'Teimana U'Mizracha V'Rieih BiEinecha Ki Lo Taavor Es HaYardein HaZeh"

The above Pasuk requires some explanation. After being told by Hashem that he wasn't going to be able to enter into Eretz Yisrael, Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu to go up on the mountain top and to look out to Eretz Yisrael. To the east, north, south and west. It makes perfect sense that Hashem would tell Moshe to look out onto Eretz Yisrael from the east, north and south because that was holy land that he was not going to be able to touch. Why would Hashem tell him to look in the east? The east isn't Eretz Yisrael?!

Rav Shimon Schwab Tz"l answers that it is correct to say that the land in the east is not Eretz Yisrael. It is however a land known as Ever Hayardein, which was later to be occupied by Bnei Reuven and Bnei Gad. A land that after the capturing of Eretz Yisrael contained a degree of Kiddushas Eretz Yisrael.

For this reason Hashem instructs Moshe to look onto the west as his final measure. Only after Bnei Yisrael captured the land in the east, north and south was the land in the west considered holy. Moshe was being told to first look at Eretz Yisrael proper and all of its borders and afterwards to look at Ever HaYarden fore there also there is an element of kiddusha. First comes the complete holiness of Eretz Yisrael and then the partial holiness of Ever Hayarden.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Anonymous On The Parsha

לא תגנב

The famous story of Solomon's wisdom in threatening to split a child in half is known far and wide. There is another story of lesser, but similar wisdom that is told of the Maharal of Prague. There was a Pauper in Prague who because of lack of funds was forced to go to Hungary on business. On the journey home he was traveling home by foot and he happened upon a well to do citizen of Prague. The kindly man offered him a ride in his wagon. The pauper was only too happy to accept the offer. The wealthy citizen was transporting Barrels of wine back to Prague and the pauper hid his savings in one of the barrels for safe keeping for the duration of the trip. Upon arrival back to Prague the pauper went to retrieve his earnings and saw it was missing. Sensing foul play he called "The Kind Sir" to the Maharal of Prague for a Din Torah. The Maharal understood the situation and right away came to his decision. He said since the man who owns the barrels says he did not take the money I can only draw one conclusion on the trip one of the Gentile workers opened the Barrel looking for money. Then it would seem that I must rule all the Barrels to be Yayin Nesach, as he most probably went through all the barrels looking for money. Now our "Kind Sir" broke into a sweat, as the mere penance he had stolen from the pauper was hardly worth the thousands of rubles the wine was worth. The Mahral's decisions meant his shipment would be almost worthless. It was at this point the Sir made a wise decision and asked to see the Rabbi in his private study and the kind Rabbi was only to happy to oblige his request. There he admitted to the indiscrepency, but the Mahral told him that all is good and fine but I can not believe you to change my judgment because of the Talmudic law that a person can not incriminate himself.The only way he would accept his repentance and reverse his decision was if he got up publicly in the Shul and admitted in front of all to his heinous crime.

*Talelei Oros

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Parshas Balak - "One Step in the Wrong Direction"

This is the first of a series of catch up posts that I am doing while on vacation with my family. I'm sorry for missing these Parshios. I will Bli Neder try not to make this a habit in the future.

FUNFACT/QUICKIE: “VaYomer Moav El Ziknei Midian Ata Yilachichu HaKehal Es Kol Sivivosav Kilachech HaShor Es Yerek Hasadeh…etc.”

It makes sense to explain why the parable of the ox eating the vegetables is specifically apropos in this case. The reason for this is because it is not the way of an Ox to eat vegetables, they usually just eat grass. The vegetable is in fact unique to the diet of the human. When the ox eats the grass on the edge of the garden he reaches with his long tongue and subsequently eats a few of the vegetables from the side of the field. This is what the Moabite elders said to Midian. They said that after the Israelites beat the Amorite people and after they inherit the lands of Sihon and Og (they were the crux of their inheritance) they will subconsciously destroy all of the nations on their borders. Just like the ox eats the vegetables on the side of the garden.

“VaYiftach Hashem Es Pi HaAson VaTomer LiBilaam Ma Asisi Lach Ki Hikisani Shalosh Rigalim”

Rashi on this Pasuk emphasizes that the pasuk specifically says the terminology shalosh regalim because it is a hint that Bilaam is trying to uproot the nation that celebrates the three rigalim. Nevertheless this still requires further explanation. In what way does this pasuk specifically point to it being that Jewish people who specifically believe in these three holidays?

It seems that the donkey truthfully wanted to explain to Bilaam why he refused to move. It didn’t want to move because it did not want to go even one step against the will of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. It is written in Sota 22a that if there are 2 Synogogues, One close, and one far, it is appropriate that the man walk to the farther house of prayer because there is more of a reward for walking more steps to get there. It must be mentioned at this point that there is no idea like this anywhere else in the Torah. Only by this case when talking about the length between the 2 Synagogues is there discussion concerning excess reward that would be received.

The truth is that the idea of receiving a reward for walking somewhere is not concerning the walk to Synogogue but it is because of the shalosh regalim and the aliyah laregel. The farther that people came to pay homage to the temple the greater the reward. Therefore it is important to mention this by Shuls also because they are considered to be a small Beis HaMikdash.

This is exactly what the donkey was telling Bilaam. He was telling Bilaam, “You want me to walk extra steps to go against Hashem.” In response the donkey responded negatively by refusing to walk even an extra inch to walk against the will of Hashem. He was saying that just like there is a reward for every step there is also a punishment for every negative step taken.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Crocs For Tisha B'Av?

Crocs For Tisha B'Av? - Rav Elyashiv and Rav Shternbuch On Tisha B'Av it is assur to wear leather shoes. Crocs are synthetic and do not contain any leather. However there is a Machlokes between Rashi and the Rambam if wooden shoes that are not wrapped in leather, are assur on Yom Kippur because since you cannot feel the ground they are like shoes even though they don't have leather. The Shulchan Aruch (614:2) paskens like the Rambam who says that it is permissible while the Mishna Brura (5) says we should be Machmir like Rashi.

On one hand, Tisha B'Av is not as stringent as Yom Kippur, which is Min HaTorah, so maybe we need not be machmir. On the other hand, Crocs are worn by millions of people as shoes every day of the year. The Gilyon Halacha U'Maaseh asked the leading poskim their opinion.

Rav Elyashiv said that since Crocs are worn all year round you are not permitted to wear them on Tisha B'Av. Rav Moshe Shternbuch said that while technically you may wear them, on Tisha B'Av it is better not to. Similarly Rav Nissim Karelitz and Rav Meir Brandsdorfer held that it is not assur but Yirei Shamayim should not wear them.

Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.
* From

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg

(Devarim 1:17)"...Lo Saguru mipnei ish ki hamishpat lelokim..."
"...You shall not tremble before any man for the judgement is G-d's..."

When Reb Shmelke first moved to the town of Nikolsburg to be their Rabbi and Judge he immediately hung a staff and pouch up next to his stand. He said, "I want everyone to know, especially the Parnassim that my judgment will not be swayed by shochad (bribes) or individual relationships."

The staff and pouch were a sign to everyone that the Rabbi would not find immediate favor in their eyes. That he would leave town before judging a friend or confidant favorably without knowing the truth.

* The above image is a picture of Reb Shmelke's 6th generation descendant, Rav Mechel Lebowitz Shlit"a

* Here is a Wikipedia entry on Reb Shmelke: (link)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

R' Enkin on Tisha B'Av ~ Rashash Story

Rabbi Ari Enkin over at Hirhurim has written a beautiful piece on the prohibition of learning Torah on Tisha B'Av. He finishes the post by relating the following story:
The Rashash was once “caught” studying Torah on Tisha B’av by some of his students. Sure enough, the students quickly rebuked the rebbe for studying Torah on the day of mourning, thereby violating the halacha, as well as what he had taught them. The rebbe, not to be outdone, quipped back: “Yes my students, you are correct, Torah study is forbidden on this day and I have violated the law. But let me ask you, how could God possibly punish us for studying His Torah?”

H.T : Onthemainline for the picture

Eleh Hadevarim - AL"H

(Devarim 1:1) "Eleh hadevarim asher diber Moshe el kol Bnei Yisroel..." "These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Israel"
The words Eleh as is mentioned above means 'these' in English. But what is it in the word eleh that Moshe has to specifically mention to everyone?

The Gemara Bava Metzia 156a says that "many people steal, some enter illicit relationships, but everyone speaks Avak Lashon Hara."

If one were to break up the first word of this weeks Parsha (Eleh) they would be left with three seperate hebrew letters. Aleph. Lamed. Hey. which stand for the words Avak Lashon Hara. Moshe is telling Klal Yisrael that Avak Lashon Hara is something that he has to speak to ALL of Bnei Yisrael about.

Devarim OR Devorim (Bees)

I was just perusing the Internet and while on one of my favorite sites ( I found something that was very interesting and true.

The beginning of this weeks Parsha begins with the word Devarim. Rebbi Yehuda HaChassid however reads it differently. He suggests that perhaps the word is really Devorim (Bees). Moshe begins this parsha by bringing multiple admonishments against Bnei Yisroel. What R' Yehuda HaChassid is saying however is that his mussar was like dvash.

(I found it to be most interesting because the gematria of Mussar and Dvash are equal to each other at 306).
ASIDE: Rashi says that Moshe's mussar was in a sense his last will and testament to the Jewish people. When he was admonishing them he purposely neglected to mention the actual sins that they partook in and instead hinted to them by just mentioning the location where they took place.

You are Sorely Missed!

You are Sorely Missed!