Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jelly Donuts – With a Fork and Knife???

The Elya Rabbah writes (170:11) that one should use utensils to eat with and refrain from using their hands. Additionally, one should refrain from taking large bites of food and make sure not to get any food particles caught in their beard or on their clothing. The Elya Rabbah concludes by stating all these guidelines should be followed even when one eats alone in his home.

The Piskei Teshuvos writes (170:11) that if it is accepted by the general public to eat a certain food with one's hands (i.e. jelly donuts, bagels, or pizza), there is nothing wrong with eating without utensils. However, the Piskei Teshuvos quotes others who say that it is best to be stringent in this area and always use a fork and knife.

Courtesy of

Saturday, December 20, 2008


In light of all of the terrible things that have happened in our holy community-- I strongly urge everyone to get involved in this beautiful effort to bring achdus and Torah to our nation.

Learn Torah for Klal Yisroel!

Do Mitzvos for Klal Yisroel!

Do Chessed for Klal Yisroel!



On February 24th 2009 (Rosh Chodesh Adar), the first yartzeit of the Mercaz Ha'Rav massacre, eight sifrei Torah will be dedicated in honor of the eight boys and young men who
were killed. Jews all over the world will unite to commemorate and celebrate
these students and the Torah to which they were so committed. The event will
take place in Jerusalem while schools, yeshivot, college campuses, and
institutions around the world participate in this event via a live
broadcast. The event will also conclude a worldwide learning initiative and
worldwide mitzvah project.

*This event will be an unprecedented celebration of unity as schools and
communities all over the world come together as one. Sign up your school or community. Sign up as a volunteer. RIGHT NOW at

Please post comments to this post if you have any questions about this project or are interested in volunteering.

Tizku LiMitzvos!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Parshas Vayeishev - Q & A

1)Why does the Torah use the root SHAV (VAYEISHEV) to describe Yaakov living and GUR (MEGUREI) to describe his father living? (37:1)

2)Reuven never told his brothers that his plan was to rescue Yosef from the pit. What, then, could Reuven have meant when he discovered that Yosef was missing and he proclaimed, AND I, WHERE WILL I GO? (37:30)

3)Why does the Torah interrupt the narrative about Yosef with a seemingly unrelated story, specifically about Yehuda? (chapter 38)


1)The Kli Yakar explains that SHAV refers to a more permanent dwelling while GUR is more temporary. Yitzchak viewed his dwelling in this world as completely temporary and he never felt at home in this world. Yaakov's mistake was desiring a more permanent and comfortable dwelling in this world as captured by the use of SHAV and this led G-D to bring him struggles and challenges which eventually uprooted him and forced him to live in a more temporary manner.

2)The Ohr HaChayim answers that Reuven was saying that now that Yosef is gone, he, as the first born would be asked by Yaakov to search the world for Yosef. Had Yosef been killed by an animal in the pit as appeared to the brothers to be Reuven's plan, then they could simply bring the dead body to Yaakov. But now that Yosef is missing, Reuven asks, WHERE WILL I GO in the search which Yaakov will demand of me? This is why Reuven was pacified with the plan to dip Yosef's coat into the blood which would stop Yaakov from asking for a search.

3)The Seforno teaches that Yehuda, as a leader of the tribes, could have saved Yosef by convincing the brothers to simply return him to Yaakov. Instead, Yehuda led the brothers in the selling of Yosef into slavery thereby causing Yaakov years of grief and sorrow with Yosef missing. G-D punished Yehuda immediately for this and two of his sons die in this chapter. Thus, this interruption in the story shows G-D's attribute of justice at work.

*Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a
*Picture from

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Q & A on Parshas Vayishlach

1)G-D has related that the Jews will be like the stars, the sand, and the dust. Why does Yaakov choose the symbolism of the Jews as sand when praying to G-D prior to his encounter with Eisav? (32:13)

2)The Torah teaches that since Yaakov was injured in his thigh, THEREFORE Jews should not eat the GID HANASHE. (32:33) Why should we refrain from eating this part of an animal simply because Yaakov was injured? What message or lesson can this possibly convey?

3)Why does the Torah bother relating that the city was named SUKKOT because Yaakov built booths (SUKKOT) for his animals? The name, itself, seems meaningless and it certainly seems to be lacking any eternal message!

1)The Kli Yakar teaches that the symbolism of the stars captures the times in history when the Jews are the dominant force in the world. The dust captures when we are suffering immense persecution and dark exile. The sand refers to those times when we are being persecuted but where G-D steps in and provides salvation. The ocean water threatens to wash away the sand but then recedes with the tide. Since Yaakov is about to face Eisav which presents a danger to him and his family, he evokes this image of the sand, with the hope that G-D will save them from this time of difficulty.

2)The Da'at Zakainim MiBaalei HaTosafot explain that Yaakov was left open to the attack because he was left alone. The Jewish people were negligent and left someone unaccompanied and this resulted in the injury. Thus, we refrain from eating that part of the body to remind us of the importance of the mitzvah of not leaving people unaccompanied.

3)The Ohr HaChayim answers that at this time and place, Yaakov became the first person in world history to build shelter for his animals to provide them with comfort. This extra level of care and concern was worthy of being captured in the name of the city and it certainly teaches us a lesson about the importance of caring for all living thing.

* Courtesy of Rabbi Dov Lipman Shlit"a

Monday, December 8, 2008

Michael Medved: Chanukah

I happened to have been going through my daily blog searching routine when I happened upon the following blog post on, a political online publication. It was written by Michael Medved:

In this holiday season, Americans hear lots of talk about “Hanukkah” but most Christians—and most Jews, for that matter—don’t know what that word actually means. No, Hanukkah doesn’t mean “Festival of Lights,” or “Festival of Tolerance” – the Hebrew word means, simply, “dedication.” It refers to the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C., after its desecration by Hellenists who worshipped Greek Gods in the shape of men. The holiday calls for our re-dedication to resisting secularism and assimilation, and recommitting to God’s commandments. The word “Hanukah” has the same root as “Hinukh” –education—emphasizing that there’s no meaningful education without dedication to divine truth. At the darkest time of each year, the glowing candles of Hanukkah signal dedication to bring light to a world that too often worships men, instead of God.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Heroes of Mumbai

Mumbai....Let's Make a Difference

My Dear Fellow Jew,

On Wednesday night I logged onto Reuters on my Blackberry and I saw
something about terrorists in Mumbai. No connection to me. Or so I thought.

The next morning the news slammed home when my chavrusa told me that his
cousin is the Chabad shaliach in Mumbai and that there was some kind of
attack and they can't seem to get him on the phone.

For the next 24 hours I, my family and everybody I know had only one thing
on our minds - the fate of the Chabad shaliach, his wife and the unknown
number of hostages inside the Chabad house.

Information was so conflicting. We tried to make sense of it all, grasping
at straws, hoping against hope that somehow, somehow they would come out
alive. And we davened. Hundreds of thousands of Jews. We all poured out
our hearts in Tefilah in every country, city, neighborhood, yeshiva, shul
and home. An unprecedented outpouring of Tefillah.

And then the news came that the counterattack had begun and commandos were
storming the building. How we sat on edge, imaging in our mind's eye the
commandos fighting room to room…through the bullets and the explosions…

And while all this was going on I thought to myself…

"Ribono Shel Olam, look at your amazing people. Hundreds of thousands of
people gripped by fear, davening for people they never knew and from
sections of Klal Yisrael that they don't belong."

Last Thursday it didn't matter if you were Chabad, Bobov or Toldos Avrahom
Yitzchok. OUR brothers were in that house and we reacted instinctively -
with the love of brother.

And so I wonder, my dear brothers and sisters:

Imagine we could always be this way!

…Imagine we walked in the street and gave a smile and a Sholom Aleichem to
every Jew, even if he didn't look like we did.

…Imagine there was a way we could hold onto the incredible Ahavas Yisrael
that was displayed this past Thursday, that showed we are one nation!

Yes, I know. I realize it's not so simple because tragedy has a way of
uniting people – but it's not impossible! Consider this:

If there wasn't Ahavas Yisrael in our hearts in the first place we wouldn't
have reacted so powerfully and instinctively with nonstop Tehillim…We
woudn't have listened to the news 20 times that day!

If we can just shake loose of the yetzer hora that pushes us to be
divided…If we just took a good look in the mirror we would see that under
that tough exterior we are all really Ohevi Yisrael - lovers of Jews.

My Rav spoke about Mumbai yesterday. He quoted an excerpt from the sefer
Amud HaAvodah. This is a quote from the sefer:

"It is a fact that when Yidden in one city hear that tzaddikim in another
city have been tortured and killed by gentile murderers, the Yidden in the
first city are certain to be terribly pained and anguished. Even if they
had never known them. Even if they had never seen them. Their hearts ache
upon hearing of Jews killed with cruelty.

This phenomenon is rooted in the unity of the souls of the Jewish people.
This is indeed a proof to the existence of this unity.

And so now the horrific truth of what happened in India has become revealed
to the world. My brother died in that Chabad house as did yours…

…and the immense Ahavas Yisrael that we Jews have for each other was
revealed - to the world, and more importantly to ourselves!

But we must not let this event slip by like a ship in the night!

Let's each make a kabalah – a personal resolution - that starting right now
we and our family will take something on that shows we care about every
single Jew.

Not just lip service - but a real goal. One that we write down and post in
our house, tell our friends about, and monitor weekly to see how we're

For instance:

…Maybe we should work on the way we greet tzedakah collectors at our door –
you know, put ourselves in their position of having to knock on a
stranger's door…

How we would we like people to greet us?

…Or maybe to really daven for specific people from our shul for their
childrens shidduchim or livelihood. And certainly to work on not speaking
loshon hora about individuals and certainly not sections of Klal Yisrael.

Hashem thrust the kedoshim who died in India on the stage of Jewish history
for a few days last week. But their impact can last a lifetime i f w e a
c t!

The last few months have seen major calamities befall the world at large.
They are affecting – and could further affect - Klal Yisrael very

Let each Jew as an individual and as a family take on one resolution - a
single kabbalah - of Ahavas Yisrael, so that in these trying times Hashem
will look down at us and see the love we have for each other. The love
that proves we're a family. His family. And with that impetus may Hashem
redeem His children from all the tzoros and bring us, as the one family
that we are, to our home in Yerushalayim.

Let's just do it NOW! Please pass on this letter to as many people as
possible so together we can keep the flame of Ahavas Yisrael burning.

With a sad but hopeful heart,

Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

You are Sorely Missed!

You are Sorely Missed!