Sunday 30 September 2012


Every adult male is Biblically obligated to eat a k'zayis of bread in a succah on the first night of Succos. The Talmud(1) derives this obligation from the similar obligation of eating a k'zayis of matzah on the first night of Pesach. Since these two obligations are closely related, their halachos are similar in many respects. Like all mitzvos, this mitzvah, too, can only be properly fulfilled if there is prior planning and clear knowledge of all the requirements. Let us review the pertinent halachos»

Weekly-Halacha, Succos - 5763 -

Gmar Tov,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Friday 28 September 2012

Some Weekly Thoughts from Derech Emet.

Yaarot Debash, Volume 1 of 2, Derush 1, page 3:

There is no mitzvah that does not bring a man to perfection.

Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeschutz was born in Kraków in 1690,
became dayan of Prague (Czech Republic) in 1736,
became Rabbi of Metz (northeast France near Germany) in 1741,
and died in Altona (Germany) in 1764.
Yaaros Devash volume 1 was published in Lvov in 1798;
Yaaros Devash volume 2 was published in 1799.


Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzensky (born 1863, died 1940)
always recited Birkat HaMazon from a siddur,
even though he enjoyed a photographic memory.

MICROBIOGRAPHY: Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzensky was
recognized as the Gadol HaDor by the Chafetz Chaim.

SOURCE: Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss on the Yamim Noraim,
page 33, year 2007, Judaica Press


Thinking about HaKadosh Baruch Hu is not that common;
and that is the purpose of Shabbat.

SOURCE: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Bnai Yeshurun
in Teaneck, New Jersey in his lecture titled:
Tehillim and Tefillah Chapter 92 The Song of Shabbat,
time 22:52 to time 23:00.


Gmar Tov,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Moshe Menachem Oppen's Yom Kippur Avodah with pictures is online

FYI: With Perission from R Daniel Yolkut

«le-zakos es ha-rabbim, Moshe Menachem Oppen's Yom Kippur Avodah with pictures is online

His pictures took me through Mishnayos Yuma for 3 years of high school (my HS rebbe insisted that we learn the three Tishrei Masechtos every year) and to this day his pictures are in my head during Mussaf.
Ka'asher zachinu le-sader oso, kein nizkeh le-asoso,


Gmar Tov,
Best Wishes for 5773!

"Do not cast us away in our old age (le'eit ziknah)..."

Guest Blogger:
Douglas Aronin, Esq.

"Do not cast us away in our old age (le'eit ziknah); when our strength is gone do not desert us."

This sentence is part of the familiar liturgical segment, usually referred to by its opening words as Shema koleinu ("listen to our voice"), which introduces the communal confession segment of each Yom Kippur service other than Ne'eila (the concluding service).   It is also recited at the selikhot services conducted on each weekday beginning at least four days before Rosh Hashana and continuing until Yom Kippur.   The sentence quoted above is taken verbatim from Psalms 71:9, except that the verse as it appears in the Psalm is phrased in the first person singular ("do not cast me away", etc.), while the liturgical passage derived from it, like most of the High Holy Day liturgy, is phrased in the first person plural.

One of my teachers during my college years had been among the founders of what was then called the chavurah movement, the Jewish version of the counterculture that had sprung up in the late 1960's.  (Its present ideological descendant, a pale reflection of the chavurah movement at its zenith, goes under the name Jewish Renewal.)  I recall my teacher commenting at one point that the early chavurah services for Yom Kippur had seemed to be missing something.

The problem, he explained, was that everyone participating in the service had been too young to experience the emotions that Yom Kippur is supposed to awaken..  He gave two examples of the defiencies resulting from so youthful a Yom Kippur congregation.  The first example was the recitation of the Shehecheiyanu blessing on Yom Kippur evening immediately after Kol Nidre and before beginning the ma'ariv (evening) service, and the second was the sentence,  quoted above, that is recited as part of Shema koleinu.  The Shehecheiyanu of Kol Nidre, he pointed out, differed from every other Shehecheiyanu blessing of the year in that it did not arise from anything concrete -- not from a cup of wine, nor the flame of a candle nor the taste of a first fruit -- but simply as a joyous acknowledgment of our gratitude for having made it, more or less safely, through yet another year.  As to the adaptation of the verse from Psalm 71, he commented that the verse needed to be led by someone for whom eit ziknah (time of old age) did not seem so distant as to be an abstraction.

I have to admit that I didn't fully understand his point at the time.  I recognized that those of more advanced years might envision the onset of old age as a somewhat less remote prospect than did I or my contemporaries, but I assumed the difference to be a purely quantitative one.  I couldn't comprehend the existential fear which can accompany the increasingly insistent intimations of mortality that the passing years may bring-- which, I now realize, was precisely my teacher's point.

Of course, chronological age is but one factor in the way we relate to our mortality and, consequently, to Yom Kippur. Individual experiences obviously play a role, as does the emotional state of the larger society. Who among us did not feel a twinge of extra kavanah (devotion) on saying the Shehechyanu of Kol Nidre for Yom Kippur of 2001?  It is difficult to imagine any events that could remind us more effectively of the seeming randomness of human mortality than the events of September 11th.

But setting aside such extraordinary events, what is it that we are requesting when we accord to this adapted verse so prominent a role in our Yom Kippur prayers?  Human mortality is an  unavoidable component of our as yet unredeemed  world.  We cannot seek  to overcome or reverse the process of aging, nor does the language of the verse attempt to do so.  So what is the eit ziknah, and what are we asking God to do about it?

The first step toward a fuller understanding of this verse, is to look at it in the context of Psalm 71 as a whole. The rest of the psalm, as far as I know, has no liturgical function, so we rarely pay much attention to it.  At first glance, this verse, in the context of the Psalm, seems straightforward.  Throughout his life, the Psalmist has depended on God's help and deliverance, and he prays that God will continue to protect him as his advancing years take their toll on his physical strength.

The Psalmist then goes on to describe the danger he faces: "For my foes speak of me, and, and those who watch for my life consult together, saying 'God has forsaken him, pursue and catch him, for there is no rescuer.'" (Psalms 71:10-11)  His enemies apparently believe that God will abandon him as age weakens him physically, but he rejects that assumption: "O God You have taught me from my youth, and until this moment I declare Your wonders."(v.17) He pleads for God's help and promises gratitude: "I shall also thank You on the stringed instrument for Your faithfulness, my God; I shall sing to You on the harp, O Holy One of Israel.  My lips shall rejoice when I sing to you, as well as my soul that You have redeemed." (vv.22-23)

On further reflection, though, there seems to be something a little off about this Psalm.  We can assume that the Psalmist's enemies reflect a pagan conception of God.  To them, it would be understandable for God to abandon the Psalmist as his physical strength ebbs --  either because protecting him despite his reduced strength would strain the limits of the deity's powers, or else because his weakness would leave him without enough to offer to make his continued protection worth the effort.  Neither of these possibilites, of course, is consistent with the Torah's outlook.

The problem is that, considering the language he uses, the Psalmist appears to share the mindset of his enemies, at least to some extent.  His eloquent pleas bespeak a real fear that his enemies could be right -- that his physical weakness will make him, in God's view, no longer worth the trouble of protecting.  But if the Psalmist really shares that quasi-pagan view of God, then what made him worthy of protecting in the first place? And, even more important, if the Psalmist's expectations of God are inconsistent with the outlook of Torah, then why should we adapt a key verse from this Psalm for so central a part of the Yom Kippur liturgy?

One approach to answering these questions requires a careful look at the wording of the verse.  The phrase eit zikna  (literally, time of old age) appears, besides this verse in Psalm 71, in only two other places in all of Tanakh.  The first, relating to King Solomon, is found in 1 Kings 11:4: "So it was that when Solomon grew old [le'eit ziknat Shlomo] his wives swayed his heart after the gods of others, and his heart was not as complete with the Lord, his God."  The second involves Asa, Solomon's great grandson and the third king of Judah after the kingdoms split, of whom it is said in 1 Kings 15:23: "All the rest of the deeds of Asa and all his heroic acts and all that he did and the cities that he built -- behold they are recorded in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.  Only in his old age [le'eit ziknato] his legs ailed."

The context of the phrase eit zikna with respect to King Solomon helps clarify the phrase's meaning in the verse in Psalm 71 as  well.  Clearly, the affliction that affected King Solomon near the end of his life was not purely a physical one.  Rather, it affected the king's mind and spirit and thus facilitated the attempts by some of his wives to turn him away from God.

The verse quoted above regarding King Asa is not much help by itself, but fortunately it points to another source to aid us in interpreting it.  A slightly different version of the story of King Asa appears in the Book of Chronicles, and although that version, unlike the version in the Book of Kings, does not use the phrase eit zikna, what it tells us about the illness in Asa's legs helps to clarify the version in the Book of Kings, where that phrase is used.

Thus, in 2 Chronicles 16:12, we read: "Asa became ill in his legs in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, until his illness spread upwards. Also in his illness he did not seek out the Lord but only doctors."  The implication of this verse, clearly, is that the illness of Asa's old age was partly mental and spiritual.  That implication is reinforced by some of the language two verses earlier.  After he imprisoned a seer who brought him a divine message he didn't like, the Book of Chronicles tells us, "Asa began to opress some of the people at that time." (16:10)

With our understanding of eit zikna thus enhanced, it becomes easier to comprehend the underlying message of Psalm 71.  Whatever his enemies may have thought, the Psalmist knew that God would not abandon him because of the physical infirmities that sometimes accompany old age.  What concerned him was the possibility that the individual will that had kept him faithful to God through all the hardships of life (which he specifically refers to in verse 20)  would weaken, whether spontaneously (as appears to have happened with King Asa), or under the influence of others, as happened with King Solomon.  If that happened, then the Psalmist would no longer be worthy of God's protection and would be forced to confront his enemies without Divine help. It is against that fear that he pleads for God's continued protection.

This understanding of the phrase eit zikna also helps us to explain our use of this verse in the liturgy  of Yom Kippur.  All of us, after all, are potentially susceptible to the same process that worries the Psalmist.  As we grow older, regardless of the state of our physical health, we may become increasingly set in our ways, unable or unwilling to undertake the difficult work of teshuva.  As we age, moreover, we increasingly fear loneliness, and thus may be increasingly unwilling to resist the temptation to follow the crowd. Younger people face these same obstacles to teshuva, but they may find it at least nominally harder to rationalize their complacency.  They are less likely to invoke the adage "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," or some variant on that theme.

Through the words of the Psalmist, we too plead for God's mercy.  Don't give up on us, we cry, even if we show signs of succumbing to the temptations to which eit zikna has made us increasingly vulnerable.  Even if our physical strength is gone, we can still summon our moral strength.  But if our moral strength is also being sapped, then please, God, have mercy on us.

May our prayers this Yom Kippur inspire us to true teshuva, and may all of us, our families and the entire people of Israel be sealed for a year of life, good health, prosperity and -- most of all -- of peace.

Gemar chatimah tovah

Douglas Aronin

P.S. [From D.A]
Jewish tradition has always emphasized the power of words. With words God created the world, and with words He revealed His will to us on Mount Sinai. The study of His words is the central imperative of Jewish life.  Modern technology has further enhanced the power of words. Through the miracles of technology, we can transmit more words to more people at greater speed than ever before. The exponential increase in the reach of our words brings with it the increased responsibility to use them with care.

As Yom Kippur approaches, we are enjoined to seek forgiveness from all whom we have hurt. If any of my words -- whether on- or off-list -- have caused hurt to any of you, that was not my intention. Please forgive me.

Ditto from all of us at Nishma.
Gmar Tov,
Best Wishes for 5773!

R Soloveitchik on Yom Kippur Avodah

Weekly Freebies: R Soloveitchik on Yom Kippur Avodah September 22, 2012

Weekly Freebies: Rosh Hashanah Books

Gmar Tov,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Monday 24 September 2012

Video: Rabbi Benjamin Hecht examines the nature of Teshuva

From Koshertube

The Week Between R"H + Y"K

From Derech Emet

Yaarot Debash, Volume 1 of 2, Derush 1, page 2:

The seven days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur match the seven days of the week.

During every one of those seven days, you should repent for the sins that you committed. on the matching day of the week.

For example, during the first day after Rosh HaShanah,you should repent for the sins you committed on. the first day of the week [Sundays] throughout the year.

On the second day after Rosh HaShanah, you. should repent for the sins you committed throughout. the year on the second day of the week [Mondays].

This way, all of your days will be corrected.

Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeschutz was born in Kraków (Poland) in 1690, became dayan [Rabbinical Judge] of Prague (Czech Republic) in 1736,
became Rabbi of Metz (northeast France near Germany) in 1741,
and died in Altona (Germany) in 1764.

Yaaros Devash volume 1 was published in Lvov in 1798;
volume 2 was published in 1799.

Gmar Tov,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Sunday 23 September 2012

Atheists vs Theists: Who Has Done More Evil?‏

The following is a reproduction of Nishma Insight 5773-02 for Parshat Vayelech and Yom Kippur. 
You are invited to receive Insight on a regular basis by clicking on the Sign Up icon in the right margin and completing and submitting the form.


There is a constant debate in the world about the value of religion. There are those who maintain that it has been, in general, a positive force in the advancement of humanity. There are those, though, who strongly disagree, maintaining that religion has actually had more of a negative effect in that it has promoted strife, hatred and warfare. Defenders of the value of faith, respond that-while admitting that there has been, no question, great evils done in the name of religion-what would have occurred without religion would have been much worse, pointing to the extreme evils done by such atheists as Hitler ym"s as examples. The critics of religion then answer with the assertion that Hitler was really a theist1 and what he did is actually a further support for their contention that religion is overall a negative. And so the debate continues, touching upon all eras in history - the Inquisition, Stalin, our modern fanatical Muslim terrorists - who has done more evil, atheists or theists? Is religion, generically, good or bad?

From a Torah perspective, we may wonder: why would this debate even matter to us? The issue is not an argument about the effect of knowledge of Hashem on the world but, rather, a debate regarding, from our perspective, which has had the worse effect, the rejection of God or the false perception of Him. To us, both options are problematic and it is, as such, not surprising that both have had their terrible effects on humanity - and which one was worse would seem to be, in many ways, quite irrelevant. It is the very fact, though, that there is such a debate that may be of interest to us. The issue is not really God but the nature of human beings. The one group is contending that the human desire for religion has had, ultimately, the more positive consequences. The other, maintains, though, that this is not so and, in fact, this desire has had the worse effects. They argue that it is actually humanity's rejection of the supernatural and subsequent acceptance of the challenges of life independent of deities that has resulted in the more positive results. This, in turn, is met with the counter-argument that it is this perceived independence that has actually had the worst effects. This is the debate. It is about the nature of human beings. Which human drive has had the worse effect or the better effect: the desire for a spiritual realm2 or the desire for independence?3

It would seem that the simple answer from our perspective would be the former, that obviously the drive for the spiritual has more value than a drive for independence. This, however, may not be as straightforward as one may seem. It may be that both these drives have equal importance and that both, dominating in the extreme, can have catastrophic effects. In the extreme manifestation of the drive for religion, one may find a total negation of human ability, a turning to the spiritual in total helplessness.5 The result could then be a total negation of responsibility with its dire consequences. In the extreme manifestation of the drive for independence, one could find a total negation of a Divine realm with its subsequent rejection of not only the Reality of God but His direction. Humanity may then value responsibility but lack the vision of how to apply this value. The demand of Torah would actually seem to be, again, the shvil hazahav, the middle path4 - and it may be that one of the most powerful examples of this demanded, middle path is teshuva, the Jewish concept of repentance. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Shiurei HaRav, Shechora Ani V'na'aveh points out that for teshuva to be possible, a human being must believe in his/her ability to do so. While teshuva obviously reflects a commitment to God, which would be a reflection of our human connection to the Divine realm, it must also reflect an acceptance of our abilities, a reflection of our understanding of a somewhat independent responsibility. In that teshuva is ultimately the force of Divine growth in humanity - the very purpose of existence - it may be clearly the shvil hazahav between these two necessary human drives.

This recognition may also assist us in better understanding the tragedies of history, both in terms of the evils perpetrated by theists as well as those done by atheists. The fact is that, even as both sides may have championed one drive at the expense of the other one, this actually is not what occurred. These two basic drives within humanity are so strong that they ultimately cannot be ignored. So the adamant, extreme theist who declares a negation of self cannot ultimately do so - with the result being a Torquemada or a bin Laden who, because of his perceived sole desire for the spiritual, interprets his lust for being into a directive from this spiritual realm-it is thus not I who desires these murders but God. So also, the adamant, extreme atheist who declares a negation of a spiritual realm cannot ultimately do so - with the result being a Stalin or Pol Pot who, while still rejecting a spiritual realm, effectively actually creates a new religion to which all are to subjugate themselves. The reality is that we are called upon to both emulate God and serve Him - the former demanding a recognition of our abilities while the latter demanding a subjugation of these abilities. To this we must apply the proper shvil hazahav.

Rabbi Benjamin Hecht


1 I remember reading, although I don't remember the exact source, the contention that Hitler was actually a devout Roman Catholic with the author bringing numerous proofs for this assertion.

2 Of course, in this regard, the famous gemara in T.B. Sanhedrin 64a describing how God destroyed the drive for avoda zara, idolatry, must be noted. If this was so, how are we then to understand the existent drives for spirituality or religion that would seem to be at the root of this argument? For the purposes of this Insight, though, in that the destruction of this drive would seem to have been connected with the culmination also of more positive spiritual pursuits such as prophecy - see David Zolty, Understanding the Biblical World of Idolatry, Prophecy and Sacrifice, Nishma Journal X - the significance of this event may lie in this base understanding of a drive for religion as actually generic, which can then be fulfilled in a positive or negative manner. The resultant question then becomes: how we are to look at the generic value of this drive given that it can also be applied negatively as has sadly happened throughout history? The answer of the gemara regarding the drive for avoda zara in that context was that it was better for this drive not to exist than to be applied negatively. The answer regarding the sexual drive was that it was actually better for it to exist even with the potential for it to be applied negatively. In the same light, it would seem that we can conclude that it is also better for the modern drive for religion - which has also brought people back to Torah - to exist even in spite of the potentially negative consequences.

3 One might wish to perceive the base drive of the atheist to actually be hedonistic with a desire to reject a spiritual realm in order simply to bask in orgiastic pleasure. The fact is, though, that, especially in regard to this argument, the yardstick of measurement of the atheists would seem to be ethical, human development. As such, it would seem that this drive to reject the Divine must be articulated in some manner that also promotes this ethic. It may also be interesting to note T.B. Sanhedrin 63b which would seem to connect sexual hedonism to idolatry, i.e a drive for religion.

4 Christianity immediately comes to mind in that it contends, in broad terms, that human beings cannot save themselves and thus need an intercessor to save them. The very idea that a human being could think that they could do so is then seen as a reflection of haughtiness. The result is that this manifestation of the spiritual drive inherently negates any value in the independence drive. The latter would simply be seen as a reflection of this haughtiness in the belief that one can actually act.

5 See Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De'ot 1:4.

© Nishma 2012

Friday 21 September 2012


From the archives of Nishma's Online Library at, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Lech Lecha and the topic is the self. We invite you to look at an article on this topic at

Thursday 20 September 2012

Book Review: Gateway to Happiness

Guest Reviewer
Lionel Ketchian

Gateway to Happiness
by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin*
Brief Bio Below
I would like to introduce you to the most comprehensive book on happiness I have ever read. The book is called Gateway to Happiness and the author is Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. I never thought I would say that one book could be the best on the subject of happiness, but I can definitely emphasize this point. I have almost 400 books that I have read and that I recommend on happiness on my Happiness Club web site. There are many good books and great books that have been written on happiness. I want to tell you why this is the best book on the subject.
Rabbi Pliskin does a skillful job helping us to understand happiness with thoughts
like this one, "The person with greater control over his thoughts will have greater
control over his emotions. Anyone who claims that one does not have a large amount
of control over one's emotions is merely saying that he does not have much control
over what he thinks about and how he perceives events."
I am not Jewish and I bring up this fact because the book has many references to
the Jewish religion and tradition and you can skip these parts if you choose. I
think that this book does the most comprehensive job of explaining happiness of
any work I have ever read. To begin with, the book is not like most books that are written to tell you about the author's experience. This is a book of happiness, facts that are categorized in chapters that make it easy to look up any particular topic you want to focus on and learn more about.
Gateway to Happiness is actually more like a reference book that you can work with. Let's say you are not feeling particularly happy today, then just think about what it is exactly that you are not happy about, and let's say for example that someone
insulted you. Than open the book and look up the chapter called, "Insults." and you will learn the basics of dealing with insults from the perspective of being a happy person.
Rabbi Pliskin has chapters dealing with everything you could imagine that could
rob you of your happiness. He has chapters dealing with worry, sadness, friendship,
living in the present, anger, guilt, suffering, preventing problems, envy, desires,
grief, discouragement and many more.
In his chapter on "Approval Seeking," Rabbi Pliskin writes, "If you seek approval,
ask yourself why you want approval in the first place. The answer is ultimately,
you want to be happy and you feel that approval is pleasurable and will give you
happiness. Realizing how much needless suffering your approval seeking causes you,
will motivate you to strive to master an attitude that allows you to feel happy even when people fail to show you honor and approval. It is ironic that something you want for happiness causes you so much unhappiness. By giving up your demand for approval, you will ensure yourself greater happiness in life." This chapter was of significant benefit to me. It taught me that I do not have to seek approval in order to be happy. Why should I put my happiness in the hands of others in order to gain their approval? Why should I allow other people to have control over my happiness?
I got a note from one of the Happiness Club members that said he went to the library
to look for Rabbi Pliskin's book, Gateway to Happiness, and said that they do not
have it. In the meanwhile another member has requested that the Fairfield Library purchase the book. At one of our Happiness Club meetings someone told us about having ordered the book from a local bookstore and was told it had come in. When she went to purchase the book, she found out it had been taken by one of the workers. The store offered to get her another one at no charge. The book appears to be hard to get on Amazon. You can order the book from a store in New York called Eichler's. The book is available for purchase online at:
The most incredible components of this book and the segments that make it great are the first four chapters. They are -
• Chapter 1: Happiness is an obligation,
• Chapter 2: Appreciating what you have,
• Chapter 3: Happiness is dependent on your thoughts,
•Chapter 4: Peace of mind. These four chapters include the best thinking and
teaching explanations on happiness I have ever read.
As Rabbi Pliskin says, "Would you rather feel worse than you have to? Do you want
to choose to feel happy? At the root of complaining is thinking that the situation
could be better. At the root of satisfaction is being aware that the situation. could be worse. In almost all instances things could be worse and they could be better. To master happiness a person needs to have a constant awareness that things are better than they could be."
The wisdom contained in Gateway to Happiness is essential for the individual seeking the happy life. As Rabbi Pliskin says, " Happiness is a skill that can be learned.
The essential factor as to whether or not you will live a happy life is based on
your attitudes toward life, toward yourself, toward other people, and toward events
and situations."
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin is a Self Talk Coach and Happiness Teacher and has generously made his book: Gateway To Happiness, (A Condensed Edition) available to you as. a free e-book. It is Rabbi Pliskin's vision to see as many people as happy as possible.
You can download a 60 page FREE Condensed Edition of Gateway To Happiness at:

*Brief Bio
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin was born in Baltimore, Md. in 1946. He attended the Tamudical
Academy, from 1950 to 1959. He attended Telshe Rabbinical College from 1959 to
1969. He studied in Brisk Yeshiva in Jerusalem for advanced Talmudic research from 1969 to 1974. He was an a founding teacher in Aish Hatorah in Jerusalem where he continues to lecture on topics related to happiness and building a positive self-image.
He received a BA from Empire State (affiliated with State University of New York)
in 1981 in the field of Counseling Psychology. They give evaluations rather than
grades and he has received an evaluation as an expert in the field of cognitive therapy. He has written 24 books, including the classic, Gateway to Happiness, a comprehensive guide to happiness and other positive emotions based on the writings of Jewish scholars throughout the ages.
He is also the author of Conversations with Yourself (a comprehensive book on upgrading self-talk), Life Is Now, Building Your Self-image and the Self-image of Yourself, Anger The Inner Teacher, Consulting the Wise, Growth through Torah, Guard Your. Tongue, Love Your Neighbor, Gateway to Self-Knowledge, The Power of Words, Happiness,
Courage, Kindness, Patience and Marriage to name a few of his other book titles.
His work on spreading ideas for living a meaningful happy life have predated the
modern interest in positive psychology. He is the host of the Joy Club of Jerusalem
(affiliated with Happiness club International). He has a lifelong mission to spread
happiness clubs throughout the world.

Gmar Tov,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Wednesday 19 September 2012

K'dushah d'Yotzeir w/o a Minyan

I frequently attend the Minchah Minyan at the Anshei Lubavich of Fair Lawn. People come from all kinds of backgrounds, including several Yekkes, Sephardim, Israelis etc.

The topic of how to recite K'dushat Yotzeir [aka K'dushah dimyushav] w/o a Minyan came up recently.

1. With trop
2. Plain as is
3. Skip etc.

I had my Hayyei Adam with me, and yet I couldn't find anything there. Then I went back to work and checked my Kitzur SA which has mar'eh m'komot, and from there I found the Makor in SA/Rema and M"B

Mare'h M'komot
Kitzur SA 15:9
Goldin's fn 9 ==>
SA/Rema O"Ch 59:3
B'er Hagolah 4,5,6
M"B 10 [MGA]
11 [GRA, PMG b'sheim L'vush]

Informal survey -

What do you do?
I usually just read it as is with its trop.

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Mussar: Occupy Your thinking with Thoughts of Teshuvah

From the Derech Emet Yahoo Group:

Yaarot Debash, Volume 1 of 2, Derush 1, page 1:

Fortunate is the person who does not allow one minute of them. [the ten days of repentance from Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur]to pass by without occupying himself with the service of G-d and thoughts of repentance.

This concept probably also applies to the entire month of Elul.

Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeschutz was born in Kraków (Poland) in 1690, became dayan [Rabbinical Judge] of Prague (Czech Republic)in 1736, became Rabbi of Metz (northeast France near Germany)
in 1741, and died in Altona (Germany) in 1764.
Yaaros Devash volume 1 was published in Lvov in 1798;
Yaaros Devash volume 2 was published in 1799.

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Sunday 16 September 2012

Presidential Rosh Hashanah Remarks

«Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the spiritual calendar and the birth of the world.  It serves as a reminder of the special relationship between God and his children, now and always.  And it calls us to look within ourselves – to repent for our sins; recommit ourselves to prayer; and remember the blessings that come from helping those in need.»

Remarks by the President on the Occasion of Rosh Hashanah | The White House

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Shanah Tovah Greetings from Mitt Romney on You Tube!

BE"H we will get the corresponding greetings from the President

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו
Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Long Selichot on Erev Rosh Hashanah

During my Yeshiva days this question was posed several times during Elul...

Given that:

1. R"H is the day of Judgment
2. Y"K is the day of atonement
3. Why not get forgiven BEFORE getting judged? IOW Y"K should precede R"H, and we'd be judged with a Clean Slate.

The answer I usually heard was:
A1. It takes the serious nature of the Yom Haddin on R"H in order for us to take Y"K seriously

Without disputing that rationale I have a different approach

A2 Namely, that this issue was actually the impetus for Y"K style S'lichot which precede R"H.

EG The Rambam mentions saying S'lichot AFTER R"H before Y"K. Subsequently, someone may have reasoned that model as inadequate and pushed S'lichot to an earlier date.

This also helps to explain the long Erev R"H S'lichot as a common minhag to fast at least part of the day on Erev R"H, in order to provide a form of Y"K Katan before the Yom Haddin

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Saturday 15 September 2012

Mussar: Forgive, so that You Too Shall be Forgiven! סימן זה יהא בידך כל זמן שאת רחמן המקום מרחם עליך אינך מרחם אין המקום מרחם לך

Rambam M"T Hil T'shuva 2:10
Mechon Mamre Text
הלכות תשובה פרק ב
יד  [י] לפי שאסור לאדם שיהיה אכזרי ולא יתפייס, אלא יהיה נוח לרצות וקשה לכעוס, ובשעה שמבקש ממנו החוטא למחול, מוחל בלבב שלם ובנפש חפצה; ואפילו הצר לו הרבה וחטא לו הרבה, לא ייקום וייטור.  וזה הוא דרכם של זרע ישראל, וליבם הנכון.  אבל הגויים ערלי לב אינן כן, אלא "ועברתו שמרה נצח" (עמוס א,יא); וכן הוא אומר על הגבעונים לפי שלא מחלו לישראל, "והגבעונים לא מבני ישראל המה" (שמואל ב כא,ב).
Does withholding Mechilah following an apology actually demonstrate a form of Kasheh Lirtzos and Achzorius?

Story 1
I recall when I was a Mashgiach in Hartford and I burned a large pan by making Cholent
"See what you did?" Remonstrated the Gentile Chef.
"Wow I'm sorry I had no idea."
"That's it?"

"Yes, you apologized it's over"
Years later I skidded on I80 and sideswiped a car.
"Wow I'm sorry! I lost control and I did not even realize that I hit you during the accident"
"No problem," said the stranger. "Accidents Happen"
No sign of him being Jewish either
Later I got a ticket for the very same accident. B"H the trooper saved my skin from a VERY difficult judge
"Your honor! I ask that you forgive this man. 5 others wiped out that day on that same spot on the highway.
Should the Xtians have a lower threshold of Mechilah than EG the case of a frum Jew asking a fellow frum Jew before Y"K?
Talmud Bavli B"K 92:1
מסכת בבא קמא פרק ח

דף צב,א משנה  אע"פ שהוא נותן לו אין נמחל לו עד שיבקש ממנו שנאמר (בראשית כ) ועתה השב אשת וגו'
ומנין שאם לא מחל לו שהוא אכזרי שנאמר (בראשית כ) ויתפלל אברהם אל האלהים וירפא אלהים את אבימלך וגו'

Talmud Yerushalmi B"K 8:7

תלמוד ירושלמי -
מסכת בבא קמא פרק ח
ף לו,ב פרק ח הלכה ז משנה
אע"פ שהוא נותן לו אינו נמחל לו עד שיבקש ממנו שנאמר ועתה השב אשת האיש כי נביא הוא ומניין שלא יהא המוחל אכזרי שנאמר ויתפלל אברהם אל האהלים וגו':
סימן זה יהא בידך כל זמן שאת רחמן המקום מרחם עליך אינך מרחם אין המקום מרחם לך.  רב אמר אדם שסרח לחבירו וביקש ממנו ולא קיבלו יעשה שורת בני אדם ויפייסנו דכתיב שור על אנשים וגו'.  ואם עשה כן מה כתיב תמן פדה נפשו מעבור בשחת וגו'
Kitzur SA 131:4

סימן קלא – דיני ערב יום כיפור

סעיף ד
עבירות שבין אדם לחבירו אין יום הכפורים מכפר עד שירצה את חבירו. שנאמר מכל חטאתיכם לפני ה' תטהרו, כלומר חטאתיכם שהם לפני ה' לבד, יום הכפור מכפר אבל מה שבין אדם לחבירו אין יום הכפור מכפר עד שירצה את חבירו, לכן צריך כל אדם לדקדק שאם יש בידו ממון של אחרים שלא כדין, יחזיר לו ויפייס אותו. ואם יש בידו ממון שהוא מסופק בו אם הוא שלו על פי דין או לא, יודיע לחבירו שהוא רוצה לעמוד עמו מיד לאחר יום הכפורים לדין תורה הקדושה, ויקבל עליו באמת לקיים כאשר יצא מפי הבית דין. וגם אם לא חטא כנגד חבירו אלא בדברים, צריך לפייסו ומחוייב ללכת בעצמו לפייסו, אך אם קשה עליו או שהוא מבין כי יותר קרוב שיתפייס על ידי אמצעי, יעשה על ידי אמצעי,
והאיש אשר מבקשין ממנו מחילה ימחול בלב שלם ולא יהא אכזרי, כי אין זה ממדת ישראל אלא ממדת עשו, שעליו נאמר ועברתו שמרה נצח, וכן הוא אומר על הגבעונים לפי שלא מחלו ולא נתפייסו, והגבעונים לא מבני ישראל המה, אבל דרכן של זרע ישראל הוא להיות קשה לכעוס ונוח לרצות, וכשהחוטא מבקש ממנו למחול ימחול בלב שלם ובנפש חפצה, ואפילו הצר לו הרבה לא יקום ולא יטור, ואדרבא אם החוטא אינו מתעורר לבא עליו לבקש מחילה, יש לו להאיש העלוב להמציא את עצמו לאותו שחטא כדי שיבקש ממנו מחילה. ומי שאינו מעביר שנאה ביום הכפורים אין תפלתו נשמעת חס ושלום. וכל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל פשעיו.

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Friday 14 September 2012

Shiftu Yatom, v’Rivu Almanah

R David Wolpe* in his DNC

«As your prophet Isaiah taught us: shiftu yatom, v'rivu almanah—defend the orphan and fight on behalf of the widow.»

Some have used the fact that D'vorah was a "Shofetet" to justify Semicha for women.

My take is that during the Period of the Shof'tim, the Shof'tim acted as "champions" and not so much as Dayyanim. Think of Shimshon, Yftach, Gid'on, etc.

As such I translated this passage

"shiftu yatom, v'rivu almanah— Champion the orphan, and fight on behalf of the widow."

This hypothesis is nice. It shows a different side of "justice", namely championing the weak, and avoids giving D'vorah Yadin Yadin [Tadin Tadin?]

However, is there any substance to this hypothesis? Can linguists and experts in Parshanut defend this?

*R David Wolpe is no close relation AFAIK. It's conceivable that we are related quite distantly.

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Thursday 13 September 2012

JVO: Teshuva in Torah vs Repentance in Christianity

Jewish Values Online ( is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members of their Panel of Scholars.

This post continues the weekly series on the Nishmablog that features responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. This week's presentation is to one of the questions to which Rabbi Hecht responded.

* * * * *
Question: During the High Holidays, in the process of Teshuvah, we repent for past sins. I understand that in our (Jewish) view, repentance means that we are sorry for the sins that we have committed, we try to repair the injuries we have caused, we ask forgiveness from God and man, and we resolve to do better in the future. Christianity appears to have a very different idea of what it means to repent and atone for a sin, and how a sin is forgiven. Can you try to explain this difference, please (I understand that I am asking Jewish rabbis, and not Christians to speak to these differences)?

In approaching this question, it should first be recognized that, while most people may think of Judaism and Christianity as large monoliths, the reality is that they are not. There are, in fact, many significant distinctions between the various branches of each religion. As such, it is actually most difficult, because of the broad assumptions that need to be made, to answer such a general question in a complete manner within the constraints of this venue. In that you are asking this question to rabbis from different groupings within Judaism, though, you actually will be by-passing one side of this problem in that each of the ones responding to your question will be answering through the lens of his/her specific formulation of Judaism. (One of the most important values of the Jewish Values Online website is, in fact, the opportunity readers have to see the existent different views within the broader parameters of this monolithic Judaism – something which is, not only, not often seen but often almost intentionally ignored.) As to the presentation of Christianity, however – and in this regard I can really only speak for myself – we are left with the broadest of strokes. It is only with this caveat that I can continue.
In addition, it must also be recognized that I am not an expert on Christianity. I answer with a recognition of my limited study of this faith. It is, as such, only with my limited and broad, general understanding of that faith that I, indeed, can continue. At the same time, though, living within Western society with a culture founded on Christian, religious perspectives, I do believe that I still have somewhat of a general perspective on this faith and its distinctions from Judaism. I also asked my close friend, Rabbi Michael Skobac (Director of Education for Jews for Judaism in Canada) to review my answer specifically in regard to my assumptions about Christianity. This final answer, though, is, of course, still my own and my sole responsibility.
A possible starting point for our investigation could be the simple recognition that human beings sin – that is, do not act as God commands them or wishes them to act. This is clearly a serious matter and both Judaism and Christianity look upon sin most negatively. The greater question, however, is: how are we to look upon this reality, that human beings do sin? How are we to look upon this inherent imperfection in our being that even allows us to sin?
This is where the two part ways. Christianity believes that this imperfection within human beings that enables them to continually sin, that makes sin part of their inherent nature, was a product of the Fall of Adam and Eve. There was nothing positive about this event; the only consequence being the inherent imperfection of humanity as marked by their continuous involvement in sin. The further belief is that there is also no possible human way to correct this problem and so human beings need Divine Grace to save humanity from the consequences of its imperfection, its now evil nature. To repent within Christianity, as such, is to ask God to bestow this forgiveness on His totally unworthy creation.
While Judaism also acknowledges that Creation went through a massive upheaval (see, for example, the description in Ramchal, Da’at Tevunot) after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, its understanding of what occurred is very different. (For a further investigation of this event from a Jewish perspective, I would direct you to my Tree of Knowledge, Nishma Journal VII, VIII and IX – the last part being available online at The fact is that, in the very reality that Adam and Eve could have had even the ability to not follow the Word of God, human beings must have been inherently created imperfect, i.e. with the ability to sin. This actually is a fundamental principle within Jewish thought, that human beings were created imperfect as God wished to create a being that could perfect itself – or, at least, move in that direction. Simply, in order to give humanity the ability to grow, God had to create it with the need to grow – with a consequence of possible sin which reflects this weakness. Repentance, as such, within Judaism is this basic energy and process of growth with a focus on the individual improving oneself as well as forging a better relationship with God through this process. To illustrate, it is said of Rabbeinu Sa’adiah Gaon that as an act of chastisement in his daily teshuva process, he would roll in the snow (obviously during this time of the year). When asked why he did this, he responded that he was doing teshuva for not being the person yesterday that he was today.
To further illustrate this idea, allow me to reference Rambam, Perush Hamishnayot, Makkot 3:16. This is the famous mishna that states that God wished to benefit the Jewish People and so He gave them many mitzvot. The classic question on this statement is: why is this inherently beneficial? With many more mitzvot, there is also the possibility of more sins? Rambam explains that with many more mitzvot, there is a greater possibility of a person finding that one mitzvah that can be done in the most superlative way, that way that ensures full entry into the Future World. What Rambam seems to be saying is that it’s not about getting everything right but, rather, getting something right – and that what God bestowed upon the Jewish People was many more possible ways of getting that one thing right.
Human beings are imperfect and can never – especially on their own -- achieve perfection (after all, if they were perfect, they would be God). They, though, can make movements of growth. The Torah idea of teshuva is a recognition of this, not only as a truth but as the very essence of the Divine Purpose of Creation.

S"A O"Ch 10:7, Hetzyo Satum..

Mar'eh M'komomot
S"A O"Ch 10:7
BH"T 9, 10
M"B 26,27
Sha'ar Hatziyyun 34,35
Citing L'vush MGA, Eliyah Rabbah etc.

In a recent M"B Yomit I came across the case of a a beged "Hetzyo satum and Hetzyo patu'ach"

In this case one is hayyav b'tzitzit missafeik, no b'rachah is made, and one may not wear them outside on Shabbat. The Acharonim dispute if this prohibition applies to Carmelit or not.

Given, since these Tzitzit are a Hiyyuv [albeit misafeik]

Q: Now why are the Tzitziyot deemed a Massuy, a burden? Since one is Hayyav to have them,  shouldn't that obviate them being a massuy?

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Attack on US Embassy in Libya, timed for 9/11?

Obama vows to track down ambassador's killers

Obama vows to track down ambassador's killers -,0,5073859.story

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Samuel Adams, Free Speech, Consistency

Recently I commented to some friends..

I'm reminded of my tour of Faneuil Hall

There, they told us [tongue in cheek] how Samuel Adams would persistently quash anyone who opposed free speech!

I'm fairly sure there's a sermon there somewhere!


Then I also recalled what a very wise manager told me when I first started as a Programmer at Aetna Life and Casualty

"Rich, watch out when companies declare platitudes like 'We're a company that welcomes suggestions,' Or 'we are open-minded, etc' The more they loudly protest something, usually the worse they are at it."


Indeed. It is the converse, the flip-side of "kol Happoseil passul... b'moomo poseil.". IOW there are hypocritical fault finders who identify their OWN faults in others.

Similarly there are those who project their own shortcomings as strengths. Closed-minded they protest that they are open-minded. Short-tempered they claim to be patient. Stingy they claim to be generous.

The issue of hypocrisy is complex. In term of doing Teshuvah, being in denial, denies oneself of the ability of Haratah, to be mitchareit. Full Self-Honesty therefore, is perhaps THE very first pre-requisite to T'shuvah.

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Matchless, Martian Humour!

Originally published 9/11/12, 12:34 pm.
Two astronauts land on Mars. Their mission: to check whether there is oxygen on the planet.
"Give me the box of matches" says one. "Either it burns and there is oxygen, or nothing happens."

He takes the box, and is ready to strike a match when out of the blue, a Martian appears waving all his arms yelling "No, no, don't!" and grabbing the match away.
The two guys look at each other, worried. Could there be an unknown explosive gas on Mars? But he takes another match...and now, a crowd of hysterical Martians is coming, all waving their arms yelling "No, no, don't do that!"
The astronaut says to his buddy, "It looks serious. What are they afraid of? He turns to the Martian and says "We mean you no harm but we're here for Science, to know if man can breathe on Mars". Before the Martian can react, he strikes the match, which flames up, burns down, and...nothing happens. "Why did you try to prevent us from striking a match?"
The leader of the Martians says, "Today is Shabbos!"

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Monday 10 September 2012

The DNC Awkward Moment?

It is being referred to as the DNC Awkward Moment -- the voice vote to amend the platform to include mention of God and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Maybe, though -- and being a Canadian (whose government just withdrew its embassy from Iran!), one could say that its not really any of my business -- its not really what it may seem to be. See the below and take a look at the moment:

 Now what occurred: either the Democratic Party is very foolish or somewhat cunning. On the surface, it seems the former. Publicly, it would seem that they have pie on their face. They overlooked these items on the agenda -- so, they say -- and then they try to correct it with what you would think they would hope for, a resounding voice vote in approval of the amendment. That's clearly what it would seem they wanted and so they just called for a voice vote. But that's not what they got. Right there, in front of CNN's cameras, three times they called for the vote. Do you think that from the voice vote it was so obvious that they got the 2/3rds majority they needed? Well, the chair said they did -- but what did the tv audience see? Again, it just looks like pie on their face -- especially with CNN showing an Arab American Democrat (with sign) yelling No.

Ah but what potential cunning -- could it be that the message was 'wink, wink' we had to say this in our platform -- finally -- but you and I both know what we really are thinking. What a way to have your cake and eat it too. The Democrats can say that they are pro-Israel while they can also say that they are also the party that is pro-Arab -- and there is the proof right on the screen. So the rhetoric was pro but you can see what is really happening. Was it an oversight or was it staged?

But just to be on the safe side, watch the other approach CNN took to reporting the vote:

The issue wasn't Jerusalem but God. That's what people were upset about -- they were atheists upset about this new inclusion of God in the platform. Everyone is obviously pro Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Just next time, CNN should perhaps not show the obvious Arab American yelling No. If you notice on the latter link, you don't see his Arab American Democrat sign. Its just an atheist opposing the God platform. And to make that point, no mention of Jerusalem in the latter link.

Awkward moment. Perhaps -- perhaps, better presented as a bumbling moment. Or, perhaps, a cunning moment -- to keep the ambiguity while also trying to show all the sides that they are really the one that the Democrats favour.

Isn't politics grand?

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Aseih L'cha Rav

We are admonished to make for ourselves a "Rav".
Q: What if one is already a Rav?

Recently I was told that a prominent MO Rabbi had three "mentors"
The Lubavicher Rebbe
R Moshe Feinstein
R Yosef Dov Soloveichik [the Rov]
Zichronam Livrachah

Then it occurred to me. If you're already a Rav, then you need a Beit Din. The Beit Yosef himself devised one - namely
The Rif
The Rambam
The Rosh

Not bad and hard to beat

Reputedly the Kitzur SA had a B"D of
Derech Hayyim [N'tivot]
SA Harav
Hayyei Adam

A Colleague similarly suggested a B"D of
Mishnah B'rurah
Aruch Hashulchan
Kaf HaHayyim.

The three major early 20th century codes.

If you had to choose just 3, which ones would you choose? More contemporary or further back in time?

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Sunday 9 September 2012

Jewish Identity - Missing the Point

Every now and again, I come across various articles that attempt to deal with the problems facing the Jewish world in regard to the issue of "Who is a Jew?". What I always find surprising is how all these articles delve mightily into the conflict without ever dealing with what really is the essential question - "What is a Jew?" You can't deal with the definition of membership in a group without first defining the very nature of the group -- and yet this is what, it would seem, everyone dealing with this issue does. And while these two articles are not written by Orthodox individuals, the same critique applies to us as well.

Please take a look.

This is a point I make over and over again -- yet the problem continues.  Maybe its time I just face it -- people really do not want to ask the 'What' question -- for then we would have to face the consequences of the answer.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Allison Josephs: Breaking down stereotypes about Orthodox Jews

Jew In The City -- breaking down stereotypes about religious Jews and offering a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Friday 7 September 2012

The Lance Armstrong Tragedy

R Benjamin Blech:

«Tainted wins are no substitute for eternal legacies.»

The Lance Armstrong Tragedy

Note: R Blech has some related posts on this matter that may be found on the Internet.

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Thursday 6 September 2012

Hebrew National and the Law

A while back, I saw an article describing a case against Hebrew National, challenging their label as kosher.

Recently, I saw another article touching upon the same subject, this one dealing with the American constitutional issue of whether a question of kosher can be before the secular courts.

What I find interesting about all this is not specifically the kashrut issue but on how all this may affect or promote the concept of eilu v'eilu. The very fact that legislators enacted a kashrut law in many states leads me to believe that indeed government can get involved in the general world of kosher foods. Not to, in any way, get involved in the definition of what is or is not kosher -- that would be a violation of the separation of church and state -- but in the legal value of fraud. You can't say that something is kosher when it is not -- the definition of kosher to be defined by the religion.

But here is the problem for the courts -- within the religion there are many definitions of kosher. So, in regard to the challenge of the Conservative definition of 'kosher', legislation started to include the more specific definition of kosher as defined by Orthodoxy. (Could this then be a new issue of religious freedom, the right of the Conservative Jew to use this term?) The problem for the courts, though, still continues -- for within Orthodoxy there are also a spectrum of definitions. So what to do?

There is a conundrum for the court and I can only see this being resolved in some acceptance of this spectrum My question will now be: how will this acceptance of spectrum within the legal system then impact the Jewish world? Will this force a greater investigation of the topic of eilu v'eilu?

The reality is, though, that the reality of different hechkshers have not impacted positively on a knowledge of eilu v'eilu in themselves. How many people still declare the hechkshers they don't use as treif and these machshirim as ones who are machteh et harabim so why should I think the courts may make a difference? The fact is that, through these court decisions, the general populace -- not just the Orthodox -- may begin to see things about Jewish Law of which they have no idea. They may begin to see the definition of kosher as a legal term -- subject to legal dispute -- and not just an issue of facts. It is the advancement of this perception that may begin to then even impact on dogmatism within Orthodoxy.

Then again, maybe not. I just think that all this brings the very nature of Halacha to the fore -- and that could be interesting.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Klezmer Argentina Style?

If you're not offended by watching mixed dancing, then please take a look at this cute video of an Argentinian Shopping Center.

No Kol Isha as far as I can tell

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Wednesday 5 September 2012

B'rachot on Tallit Koton and Tallit Gadol

I recently came across this during M"B Yomit

Mar'eh M'komot
SA O"Ch 8:10
M"B 24

The issue:
Making a B'rachah on BOTH Tallit Katan AND Tallit Gadol

1. If one blesses on BOTH, the M"B is concerned re: B'rachah Shei'eino Tz'richah

2. Secondary Concern - that the T"K might not be a 100% Tallit, therefore it is best to make B'rachah on T"G only.

The M"B never addresses the case of wearing ONLY a T"K


Sh'ma Mina, that the M"B presumes that one will wear both T"K and T"G! Furthermore, it implies that bachurim wear a T"G - unless every boy marries at age 13.

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

IV Drips - Exploiting a Loophole, or Implementing a Good Eitzah?

« On Yom Kippur ..
Rabbis have traditionally allowed exceptions for those who are frail or ill, encouraging people to eat rather than gamble with their health. Some Jews ignore their cautions, which explains why Yom Kippur is one of the busiest days of the year for Hatzolah, the volunteer ambulance corps located in many Jewish communities; too many elderly or sick people try imprudently to fast. Yet many of those who are rigorously Orthodox say they feel guilty for breaking the tribal taboo against eating.

Enter Mr. Fleischer, who is active in the Bobov sect's communal efforts to aid the sick and homebound. Ten years ago, after a frail friend told him that he needed an intravenous feeding to get through the day, Mr. Fleischer, with the help of Maimonides Medical Center nearby, set up virtual clinics at the Bobov synagogue, five other locations and people's homes. Medical technicians at the clinics administer IV nutrient drips as worshipers lie on 20 hospital cots for half an hour or so each before returning to prayer. »

NYT: Ailing Yom Kippur Fasters Are Helped by IV Drips

Gmar Tov,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Daf Yomi for Yeshivot

Can Yeshivot combine a focus upon Iyyun / Amkut and also join the Daf Yomi Revolution?

I say YES!

Take the average afternoon seder of 3.-3.5 hours, Sunday through Thursday.

This allows plenty of time to do a typical daf with
Rashi and also selections from:
M'eiri / Ritva

Even if done just those 5 days a week, Sun- Thu, it would be k'dai. Those who wish, could make up the Fri/Shabbat dappim quickly or even omit them entirely as needed.

Some of the benefits include
• Keeping up with the worldwide daf
• Learning some valuable b'kiut w/o sacrificing much iyyun
• Learning enough Dappim to be able to teach it when needed.
• Covering the many Masechtot not ordinarily covered in Yeshivot EG Kodoshim.

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Monday 3 September 2012

Results of Poll on: Reciting Birkot Hanehenin

In our last poll, we inquired

New Poll: Reciting Birkot Hanehenin

 What is our primary focus or gain from recting birkot Hanehenin?

1. To enhance our Attitude of Gratitude towards HKBH by constantly reminding us of what HKBH provides us.
2. To enhance our awareness of HKBH by constantly reminding us of Hamakom's Omnipresence

3. To make the sensual enjoyment of food and aroma a spiritual experience.

4. To keep our mind occupied so as avoid or prevent idle or evil thoughts.

Your Responses (total 2)
Choice 1 - 100%  (2)
Choice 2 - 00%  (0)
Choice 3 - 00%  (0)
Choice 4 - 00%  (0)

Rabbi Wolpoe
While there was not much response to this poll, please note that Nishmablog polls are designed more for introspection/reflection and less for "stats".

Concerns over Daf Yomi focus

«First, study in the daf yomi style, involves a relentless push to complete what can be a very complicated matter in a limited (45-60 minutes) period of time. Is this then the triumph of superficial learning?»

Phorum :: Lookjed List Archive :: Concerns over Daf Yomi focus,20779,20779,quote=1

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Sunday 2 September 2012

Torah Jews in Israel, a New Demographic

«Deputy Education Minister (Yahadut HaTorah) Menachem Eliezer Moses on Monday morning addressed a chareidi forum in Elad, directors of mosdos addressing the coming school year.
He explains that in 5773, for the first time ever, the chareidi and dati leumi tzibur will represent the majority among preschool children, 52%. Just 15 years ago, the chareidim represented a mere 12.6% and today, that number stands at 32%. The dati leumi community adds the 20% to bring the shomer shabbos preschool community to the majority.»

| Deputy Minister Moses Points Out the Simple Demographic Realities | Yeshiva World News

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Saturday 1 September 2012

Mussar from the Mishnah B'rurah on Tzitzit.

About 3 decades ago R Hecht and I had a conversation over bout the M"B's tendency to mix in Mussar into his Halachic commentary...

In a recent M"B Yomit (8:26) the M"B stresses the Mussar of wearing Tzitzit out. He cites no sources in Sha'ar Hatziyyun, though he does cite several ma'amarei Hazal that might lend support to his thesis. WADR, I would choose to see these supporting the importance of treating Tzitzit with respect and even mindfulness, and not necessarily requiring them to be worn outside at least when wearing a Tallit Koton.

BE"H, I will try to find other specific examples of the same while going through the Sefer.

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!