Thursday, December 3, 2009

Parshas Vayeitzei - "Going On The Right Path"

At the conclusion of Parshas Vayeitzei, we read the story of Lavan and Yaakov. After spending 20 frustrating years of his life working for Lavan, Yaakov flees Haran with his family in search of a better life. Upon learning of Yaakov’s escape, Lavan follows in suit while accusing Yaakov of stealing his idols and animals. After having a peaceful exchange of words, the Torah ends the story using very interesting language. The Torah says, “V’yashav Lavan Limkomo.” “And Lavan went back to his place.” What does it mean that Lavan “went back”? Where was he? Why doesn’t the Torah simply say, “And Lavan returned to Haran”?

Rabbi Dovid Rosenbaum of the Young Israel Shomrei Emunah in Silver Spring, Maryland offered some beautiful insight on this story. Rabbi Rosenbaum related that, throughout Lavan’s life he had been exposed to many important people. In his youth, he met Eliezer the servant of Avraham. He had grown up with Rivka and lived with Yaakov for twenty years. Nevertheless he continued along his dishonest path. This is what the Torah means when it says, “V’yashav Lavan Limkomo.” After spending a substantial amount of time with Yaakov and his family, Lavan simply went back to his regular lifestyle. He refused to introspect about the encounters that he had with Yaakov in order to better himself as person.

On the flipside, the Torah tells us that “V’Yaakov Holach lidarko” “Yaakov continued on his way.” Rabbi Rosenbaum explained that after Yaakov had spent nearly twenty years of his life living in the home of the wicked Lavan, he remained steadfast to maintain his religious observances and convictions. He refused to be swayed by the waywardness of his father-in law. It is for this reason that the Torah specifically chooses to use these terminologies of “V’yashav Lavan Limkomo.” and “Yaakov Holach Bidarko.”

In our lives we have many regular encounters with extraordinary people. The story of Yaakov and Lavan teaches us that instead of going about our daily lives with blinders on our eyes, we should try to take in all of these encounters, and learn from them. We must feel comfortable with who we are as people and religious Jews because only through this can we be leaders and “Holach Bidarko” like our forefather Yaakov.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New! Kosher Dining Guide

Have you ever been hungry while traveling on the road but not known where you could find Kosher food?

Gone on vacation with your family and not known which Kosher restaurant to go to?

Look no further! has just added a Kosher Dining Guide to their new beautiful and comprehensive website.

Monday, April 6, 2009


David Rottenstreich, who is currently studying at Yeshiva University, was rushed
suddenly to the hospital late last week after an infection suddenly spread in his body. He is currently on life support.

Everyone is asked to please daven for Dovid Chaim YOSEF ben Sima Perel. A
Tehilim sign-up list has been posted at THIS SITE

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Wicked Son

The Haggadah discusses four sons and provides answers for each. It is curious that the response to the wicked son is not the verse associated with the question. The Vilna Gaon explained that we don’t answer the wicked son; anything we say to him will only make matters worse. However, we have to provide an answer to all the other people at the table who heard the wicked son ask his question. We cannot let his challenge of Jewish tradition stand without a response.

* From a recent post on Hirhurim

Monday, March 30, 2009

May Woman Recite Birchas HaChama?

There is a mitzvah to recite the bracha of Birchas Hachama once every twenty-eight years, when the sun and moon return to the exact position in the sky in which they were placed at the time of creation. This phenomenon will occur this year, on April 8th, Erev Pesach. {Shulchan Aruch w/Mishnah Brurah 229:2, Mes. Berachos 59b}

The bracha to be recited is the same as said when one sees lightning: “Boruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolom, Oiseh Maaseh Bereishis.” {Shulchan Aruch w/Mishnah Brurah 229:2}

There is major disagreement amongst the poskim as to whether women are obligated, or even permitted to make this bracha. For Ashkenazim, many women rely on the p’sak of the Chazon Ish and the Maharil Diskin, who permitted women to make the bracha with the name of Hashem. For Sefardim, however, the Ben Ish Chai, and more recently Rav Ovadia Yosef, rule that women should not make the bracha on their own. Rather, they should answer Amein to the baracha made by a man.

{Birchas Hachama (citing Chazon Ish), S’U Maharil Diskin 2:KA:5:26, S’U Yechave Daas 4:18, Ben Ish Chai Parshas Eikev 19, S’U Minchas Yitzchok 8:34, S’U Chasam Sofer OC 56, S’U Ksav Sofer 34}

* From

UPDATE: I had the privilege of hearing a shiur about this yesterday from Harav Tzvi Sobolofsky Shlit"a. Unfortunately the article above neglects to go into the detail of the machlokes between those who say that woman should or should not recite Birchas Hachama.

I strongly recommend listening to this shiur to understand some of the Halachik implications of this uncommon occassion.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


This past week I received a beautiful email from a Rebbe of mine (Rabbi Dov Lipman). In it, he left a link to an article that had written on In his interesting way, Rabbi Lipman will often take sports scenarios and transfer them into meaningful lessons for us as growing Jews. Fortunately for Rabbi Lipman, the scenarios which he details in this piece required little to no explaination.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I would like to bring to your attention a new Jewish news outlet called It is a compilation of links from all of the major US and Israeli Jewish news sites. Instead of surfing the web looking for Jewish news, Jewish Updates brings all of the news to you in one simple click.

Please feel free to share this website with your friends and family and have a restful Shabbos.


You are Sorely Missed!

You are Sorely Missed!