Sunday 31 March 2013

Friday 29 March 2013

"What's so Great About the Gra?"

A chossid challenged me to explain to him "What's so Great About the Gra?"

Here is an answer from an esteemed frum Professor of Jewish History, R Dr. David Berger
Dear R. Wolpoe,

«I really can't say more than the standard answers, but I think they are pretty impressive: Total bekiut in absolutely all sacred texts of Judaism: Tanakh, Bavli, Yerushalmi, Tosefta, Sifra, Sifrei, aggadic midrashim, and all the texts of nistar. Unparalleled creativity in dealing with those texts. Familiarity with and even command of mathematics and some other secular subjects to the degree that this was obtainable without formal training. Hasmadah and piety on a level hardly ever seen even among great tzaddikim.

Other than being a sports fan, [SMILE] I don't see what more one can ask or even imagine in a traditional Jewish society.
Chag kasher ve-sameach.
Best regards. David»

What more can I say?
But I might say some more later anyway!

Best Regards,

Thursday 28 March 2013

Proof of Heaven?

From a Facebook Article...
Is there anything on the other side of the veil after physical death? Dr. Eben Alexander III has been an academic neurosurgeon for the last 25 years trained by Harvard. He did not believe in consciousness, free will or the existence of a non-physical spirit. Trained in western medical school and surrounded by medical colleagues who are deeply invested in the materialism view of the universe, Dr. Alexander believed that so-called "consciousness" was only an illusion created by the biochemical functioning of the brain.
Dr. Alexander would have held this view to his own death bed had it not been for his experiencing an event so bizarre and miraculous that it defies all conventional scientific explanation: Dr. Alexander was in a coma for seven days and experienced a vivid journey into the afterlife. He was guided by an angelic being and shown the Divine Source. He then returned to his physical body, experienced a miraculous healing, and went on to write the NY Times #1 best selling book "Proof of Heaven." What Dr. Alexander confirms is that our life on planet Earth is a "test" of personal growth, and that the way to make progress in this test is to overcome evil while spreading love and compassion.
Here are some other notable points he made.
• The experience of the afterlife was so "real" and expansive that the experience of living as a human on Earth seemed like an artificial dream by comparison.
• The fabric of the afterlife was pure LOVE. Love dominated the afterlife to such a huge degree that the overall presence of evil was infinitesimally small.
• In the afterlife, all communication was telepathic. There was no need for spoken words, nor even any separation between the self and everything else happening around you.
• The moment you asked a question in your mind, the answers were immediately apparent in breathtaking depth and detail. There was no "unknown" and the mere asking of a question was instantly accompanied by the appearance of its answers.
We could say he was "just dreaming". But would a Harvard neurosurgeon really throw his credibility out the window for a mere dream? There are other cases, such as the case of Al Sullivan, who left his body at death and then returned to his physical body after it had been revived. Before entering back to his physical body, he was able to look around the room and made very specific and precise observations of what was occurring in the room while having zero brain wave activity. He woke up and asked the doctor why he kept wiping his hand under his armpit, along with other strange verifications that could have only been known through direct observation.
Children, Atheists, brain surgeons, psychologists, doctors, and other credible believable people have these experiences all the time and have changed professions and lifestyles because of them. Is it fair to say they were all figments of their imagination just because they don't have physical proof of it? How are they able to make precise and accurate observations of what is taking place in the room while being clinically dead?

Carl Jung NDE:
51 evidences to suggest NDEs are real:
Dr. Eben Alexander III, a neurosurgeon who had a near-death experience that he says revealed God to him, has recounted his experience in "Proof of Heaven," a No. 1 best-seller.

Best Regards,

The Vilna Gaon 1

«From time to time in his commentaries on the Talmud, the Vilna Gaon would even disagree with that source over its interpretation of the Mishnah, therein picking a fight with his predeccessors by about 1500 years. As a teacher, he also criticized the stifling educational methods of pilpul (hair splitting dialectic) and chilluk (sophistry). Under the leadership of the Gaon, Vilna became Europe's premiere center of Torah study, acquiring the honorific nickname "the Jerusalem of Lithuania". The Vilna Gaon's student, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, founded the Volozhiner Yeshiva, also an influential institution. »
Vilna Gaon -

Best Regards,

Monday 25 March 2013

Some of Minhagei Taimanim-Baladim at the Seder

Hasdei Hashem! My Baladi Teimani friend just came by via "Hashgachah P'ratith" to answer many of my Questions...

A. Layl HaSeder In Shul -
Hallel Shaleim without a B'rochoh

B. Karpas -
B'rochoh AN"Y before washing
Eat a K'zayith
B'rochoh BN"R afterwards
[no connection to Marror]

C. Marror -
No Borei P'ree Ha'adama

D. 4 Kossoth -
4 times BPH"G
4 times Al Haggeffen

E. Maggid IS deemed a Hefseq

F. They follow the Rambam's Seder w/o any [known] deviation

G. Year Round:
Davar Shetibbullo b'mashqin *Pahuth mik'zayith* -
Wash but w/o B'rochoh AN"Y

This matches Mishnah B'rurah and 1 opinion in Kaf HaChaim.

Hag Kasher v'Samei'ach
Best Regards,

Karpas - Issues and Sources

Poskim Debate the following issues re: Karpas

1. Washing Before
Issue: with a B'rachah or without?

2. Eating Kapras
Issue: K'zayit or Less?

3. When eating a K'zayit of Karpas -
Issue: Making a B'rachah Acharonah [BNR] or not?

Which in turn relates to having in mind the Marror when reciting Borei P'ree Ho'adamah

Preliminary Sources:

Rambam M"T Hil. Hameitz uMatzah 8:1

Rambam La'am there quoting the Ga'onim, the Haghaot Maimoniyyot and the Maggid Mishneh.

SA O"Ch 473:6

B'er Hagolah there "qof" quoting Rosh et al.

Ba'er Hetev 18 quoting the Tur M"B 53

Bei'ur Halachah D"H Pachot mikkazayit

There the Rashbatz is quoted that The Rambam requires a K'zayit Karpas in order to trigger a b'rachah of al N'tilat Yadayim.

Similarly the Shaar haTziyyun 473:70 quoting the GRA - who does make a b'rachah Al N'tilat Yadyaim - opines there that the b'rachah on washing would be "davka im ocheil k'zayit"

Mashma, if one washes sans a b'rachah, it's arguably better to NOT eat a k'zayit. 

Best Regards,

Sunday 24 March 2013

Four Cups vs. Five Cups

«Some explain that while the Four Expressions of Redemption were lasting, while the Fifth Expression was temporary as we were eventually exiled from our Land. Today, the Cup of Elijah represents this Fifth Expression. We long for his arrival to herald in the Final Redemption. »

Chag Sameach from Jerusalem!

Best Regards,

R Dr Eliyahu Safran: The Hillel Sandwich

«It was Hillel who, to honor the gift God presented to the Jewish people in redeeming them from their bondage in Egypt, combined the Pesach offering, matzah, and maror, at the Temple to remind himself of the blessing of geulah without losing sight of the bitterness of galut. »

The Hillel Sandwich - Judaism - Israel National News

Best Regards,

Machine Matzah and Why was the Mishna Brurah silent? 

«One last question remains.  Why was the Mishna Brurah silent?  This author would like to suggest that at the time the Mishna Brurah was written, the other underlying issues were still a factor and had not been adequately resolved.  We can conjecture that as far as the Lishma factor, it seems likely that the Mishna Brurah would have voiced his opposition to the Matzos if he held that the Lishnma issue was truly unbridgeable.  He didn't permit it at the time because it was still loaded with problems and had he voiced his view would have been used to permit all sorts of problematic Matzos.  The wiser choice would have been silence – which the Chofetz Chaim did choose.  The Chofetz Chaim was one of the wisest of the generation and Chazal do tell us in Pirkei Avos – s'yag l'chochmah shetika – a good boundary for wisdom is silence.
This then may be the lesson of the Matzoh issue for Pesach.  Matzoh is called by the Zohar as "Bread of Emunah."  Emunah means belief and closeness to Hashem.  Pesach is the time where we draw ever closer to Hashem and this bond will hopefully continue with us throughout the year.»
New York - Halachic Analysis: Man Versus Machine --

Best Regards,

Friday 22 March 2013

All Night Long...

What do You do all the Seder Night Long?

Haggadah [Rambam M"T]:

ד  מעשה ברבי אליעזר ורבי יהושוע ורבי אלעזר בן עזריה ורבי עקיבה ורבי טרפון, שהיו מסובין בבני ברק; * והיו מספרין ביציאת מצריים כל אותו הלילה, * עד שבאו תלמידיהם ואמרו להם, רבותינו, הגיע זמן קרית שמע של שחרית.

מסכת פסחים פרק י

י,ח  אין מפטירין אחר הפסח [אפיקומן] כגון [אגוזים] תמרים [וקליות]

* חייב אדם [לעסוק בהלכות הפסח] כל הלילה אפילו בינו לבין בנו אפילו בינו לבין עצמו אפילו בינו לבין תלמידו מעשה ברבן גמליאל וזקנים שהיו מסובין בבית ביתוס בן זונין בלוד והיו [עסוקין בהלכות הפסח] כל הלילה עד קרות הגבר הגביהו מלפניהם ונועדו והלכו [להן] לבית המדרש *

איזו היא ברכת הפסח ברוך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לאכול הפסח איזו ברכת הזבח ברוך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לאכול הזבח.

Best Regards,

RMF Igrot Mosheh on Kashering Dishwashers

שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ג סימן נח
בדבד דיש וואשער להגעלה לפסח כ"א מנ"א תשכ"ו. מע"כ ידידי הרב הנכבד מהר"ר דוד סטאווסקי שליט"א רב בקאלומבוס.
הנה בדבר דיש וואשער אם רשאין להגעיל מחמץ לפסח, ידע כתר"ה שיש שני מינים אחד מפארצעלאיי ואחד שהוא ממתכות שנקרא אלומיני, ואותו שהוא מפארצעלאיי אין רשאין להגעיל אף אם יוכלו לנקות היטב שלא יהיה שום חשש בעין, ואותו שהוא מאלומיני יכולין להגעיל אם יוכלו לנקות היטב אחר המעל"ע, וההגעלה תהיה דוקא קודם הפסח וגם טוב שתהיה בזמן היתר אכילה דחמץ. והמים שיגעילו יהיה חם יותר מכפי הרגילות להשתמש להדחת הכלים, ולפי המנהג צריך שיהיו רותחים ולכן יניחו בתוך הדיש וואשער אבן מלובן או ברזל מלובן ואח"כ ישפוך מים החמין שהולך להדיש וואשער שברוב הפעמים הם רק ק"פ גאר"ד ולרותחין הוא בחום של רט"ו לכל הפחות, ומכיון שיעברו מים החמין על האבן והברזל המלובן יהיו רותחין כהעצה שנזכר ברמ"א סימן תנ"א סעיף ו'.
וכן הדין בדיש וואשער שהודחו בו כלים שבשלו ואכלו בהם טרפות ושאר איסורין. ובדיש וואשער כשר והנידון הוא אם יכולין להדיח בו כלי בשר וכלי חלב בזה אחר זה, הנה מכיון שהוא נ"ט בר נ"ט דהיתרא שאין לחוש מצד הבליעה דבשר שהיו בתוך הכלים שנפלטו לתוך המים והבליעו זה בהדיש וואשער וכן לא להבליעה דכלי החלב, אלא מצד חשש הבעין שמא נשאר שם באיזה מקום, לכן צריך שהדבר שעומדין עליו הכלים יהיו שנים אחד מיוחד לכלי בשר ואחד מיוחד לכלי חלב כי כשנשאר עליהם איזה בעין הרי יגע בכלים אבל אם נשאר על הדיש וואשער בעצמו שהוא על כל סביביו אין לחוש כי אף שנשאר הרי יתבטל בכמה אלפים, ונזכר דין זה בספרי אגרות משה באיזה מקום.
ומה ששמעתי שיש חוששין על כלים שנעשו מאלומיני שמא לא יועיל להם הגעלה שאומרים שיש שם איזה תערובות שלא ממתכות, הנה מאחר שאנו מגעילין אחר מעל"ע שאף בלא הגעלה הוא רק אסור מדרבנן נמצא שאף אם יש ספק בזה הוא רק ספק דרבנן, ובפרט שאפשר שאינו ספק כלל, וגם יש ספק לאידך גיסא דשמא אינו בולע כלל דהם שיע טובא לפי מראית עינינו, אין מקום להחמיר בהגעלה לכלים אלו, וכשהן בני יומן והם כלי ראשון היה מן הראוי להחמיר אבל אין מנהגנו להגעיל כלים שהן בני יומן.
משה פיינשטיין.

Best Regards,

Rabbinical Council of America Warns of Passover Price Gouging, Stringencies   

«Mar 14, 1997 -- In advance of the Passover holidays, the Ethics Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America has called on its membership and the public to resist any excessive price increase and the promulgation of stringencies that extend far beyond halachic (Jewish law) requirements.»

Best Regards,

Thursday 21 March 2013

How Obama Became Netanyahu - The Daily Beast

«Bibi's fear? That alienating his core supporters will cost him his job, and maybe even his life. He watched the first scenario come to pass in 1999 when Bill Clinton pressured him into signing the Wye River Accords, the right rebelled, and his government fell. Former Ariel Sharon adviser Talia Sasson has gone further, claiming that since the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, every Israeli prime minister has feared that a confrontation with the settlers could end their life. In the film The Gatekeepers, former Shin Bet head Carmi Gillon predicts further assassination attempts against Israeli leaders who attempt to give away land.»

Best Regards,

Behr Manischewitz and Machine Matzah in North America

«Meanwhile, in America, even those rabbis skeptical of machine matzot judged that they were better than nothing for the nation's many unlettered Jews. In 1888, Behr Manischewitz, an astute and pious immigrant from East Prussia, opened a matzah factory in Cincinnati. Soon facing local competition, he cut costs, improved quality, and burnished his image. His factory introduced the first square matzot, unmistakable products of industrial automation. Advertising his technology to English readers, he simultaneously won rabbinic endorsements in Yiddish and Hebrew periodicals. »

Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features » Thoroughly Modern Matzah

Best Regards,

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Recognizing Modern Slavery

I recently received the following email from David Bronfman, under the heading: 

Before Passover: modern-day slavery of millions of people‏
Dear family and friends:
Before we all embark upon the holiday or Passover, let's not feel too 
smug about our freedom from Egypt 3000 years ago. Stop and think 
about the appalling situation of MILLIONS of people, women, children 
-- enslaved or virtually-enslaved today.
Well before the first night of Passover, click on this link and think 

In my response, I commended David  in sending this around and I informed him of my desire to post his email on the Nishmablog.

Throughout the Torah, we are told to remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, strangers in Egypt, precisely for the purpose that Mr. Bronfman displayed in sending around this email. We are clearly not to feel smug about our freedom from Egypt but we are to constantly remember our enslavement and freedom in order to motivate us not to tolerate any such negative situations as described in this website. A person indeed should see this before Pesach in order to speak about this on Pesach.

Rabbi Ben Hecht



Are Paper Plates permitted on Passover?


(R Padwa of the London Beis Din explains why they are meikel,
R Sharf of Kedassia why they are chametz)

Best Regards,

Tuesday 19 March 2013

A Handy List of Kosher Symbols

Nishma does not endorse any particular Hashgachah. This post is for informational purposes only

Kosher Symbols -- Jewish Cooking

Best Regards,

The Great Matzah Controversy: Should Matzah Be Made By Hand Or Machine?

«By the beginning of the twentieth century, virtually the entire non-Chassidic world accepted the use of machine matzah peshutah for the eight days of Passover. Most Chassidim continued to disagree. The debate about using machine matzah shemurah at the seder continues until the present day.»

Best Regards,

Monday 18 March 2013

A Hareidi Defends Avoiding Military Service

«While the empire of Rome fell, the hate-fueled Fiscus Judaicus did not die with it. The concept was reformed to '"tolerance tax," common in Russia, Poland, Galicia and many other countries.»

'Et Tu Bennett' - A Hareidi Yeshiva Student's View - Op-Eds - Israel National News

Best Regards,

Sunday 17 March 2013

The Passover Seder - Jewish Symposium?

Daily Kos :: About Freedom: 5th Questions for Passover Seder-

Best Regards,

Caution: Arabic Hackers Steal Passwords

This blog in Arabic lists close to 1000 names, email addresses, and passwords.

Be aware that if your name is on this list, that your password may have been compromised.

The page is at this link.

Best Regards,

Saturday 16 March 2013

Mussar: Bless the Work.

Derech Emet:

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, chapter 183, end of paragraph 5:

It is proper conduct [Derech Eretz] that when you see
your fellow occupied with his work, you should bless him
by saying:

May you succeed in your activities [Tatzliach BeMaasecha].

May you be successful with your work.

Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried lived in Hungary from 1804 to 1886 CE.

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch was first published in year 1864 CE.


Sort of like
Veehee Noam... 

Best Regards,

Friday 15 March 2013

Religion and Science

"There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other. Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognized and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect balance and harmony. And indeed it was not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls"
~ Max Planck

Max Planck Quotes (Author of Eight Lectures on Theoretical Physics)

Best Regards,

Thursday 14 March 2013

Same old, same old?

Guest Blogger
By Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

"And today in 2013, we are in December of this year. 100 years since the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank and the Internal Revenue Service and the AD, America's debt has gone from $2 billion to more than $16 trillion. Now they set these institutions up to work in unity: the Federal Reserve the IRS and the ADL. One was to create debt, the other was to enforce a tax policy to take from the American citizens enough to pay that debt, and the watchdog of the whole thing was to see who would recognize who did this and that's when the ADL raised the cry of anti-Semitism, and now America is seeing herself in ruins because of it... Special interests along with Zionist AIPAC are robbing America of. the principle of democracy and representative government. You need a man like Senator Hagel, as US Secretary of Defense because a man with a mind like that will keep you out of fighting someone else's wars. You need a man in government that has another opinion that is not controlled, and if the Senate does not confirm him as Defense Secretary because of his opinion on Israel, that only proves that the Senate and the US Congress is controlled by the Israel lobby, and it also sentences America to war with Iran for the State of Israel."  
Rev. Louis Farrakhan at his recent Annual Savior's Day event in Chicago attended by more than 8,000 individuals.

The recent Oscar awards celebration saw Seth McFarlan doing a standup comedy routine with Ted the bear, a puppet, star of his own two successful movies. Ted turned to Seth, his straightman, and asked him if he was Jewish. Seth replied that he is Catholic. Ted's response, "I'm Jewish." Playing off the well-known truth, a fact we Jews are generally proud of, that the American movie industry is, in the main, the product of Jewish entrepreneurs, Ted indicated that if you're not Jewish, you haven't got a chance in Hollywood.

This evoked an immediate response from the ADL decrying his routine. It implied that the Jews, as an identifiable group, are not only very cliquish but are unwilling to give non-Jews an equal chance in the movies, something we know is far from the truth. It was the movie industry that opened the way for many minorities to get their chance to "make it" in show business. It was the "Hollywood crowd" that enjoyed the special scrutiny of Senator McCarthy, seeking to uncover those on the left of politics – at the time, as well associated with the support for the rights of all individuals.

The criminal code of Canada states in Section 319 "penalties from a fine to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years for anyone who incites hatred against any identifiable group."

More than 20 years ago, I was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show as part of a discussion regarding the refusal of Kansas City to allow the neo-Nazis free time on public broadcasting. To avoid giving them the time, the City Council voted to curtail public broadcasting. Of course, the neo-Nazis were highly offended that their rights to freedom of speech had been taken away from them by Kansas City. Advocating that we in the United States adopt law similar to section 319 of the criminal code of Canada, which, as it clearly states, prescribes legal prosecution for those who incite hatred against an identifiable group, I became a target for verbal abuse by the Nazis onstage and those in the audience. Fortunately, I did not suffer the physical abuse showered upon Geraldo Rivera who but a few weeks prior to Oprah's show, had gotten into a brawl with them on his own T.V. show and was gifted with a broken nose. It was an experience I shall never forget. At the time this law had recently been enacted by the Canadian Parliament. It was subsequently tested in the courts of Canada and prevailed.

And while I, as an American, am extremely proud of the fact that we in the United States are strong proponents of the right of each citizen to freedom of speech, as are our neighbors to the north, I think it is time for us to look to Canada for some sage advice on the subject.

Racists, bigots of all kinds hide behind the right of freedom of speech to spew forth their diatribes of hate. And while the response to their heinous verbiage has traditionally been "everyone knows they are crazy", I fear we may not rely on this assessment any longer.

One need but check out the Internet to confirm my fears. There is a massive amount of horrific hate material being propagated on a daily basis on the Internet. The Internet has given everyone an equal bully pulpit. Prior to the rise of the Internet as the medium of choice for information by the vast majority of Americans, the bigots and the haters were resigned to publishing their own material. It generally stood separate and distinct from the mainline media and means of communication and was more easily pointed out for what it was. It was crudely done, its range of influence was quite limited.
Today the anti-Semite, the racist, the hater, shares the same "international bully-pulpit"

Wednesday 13 March 2013

The Sistine Chapel and the Beit Hamikdash

R Benjamin Blech:
«More remarkable still, and a fact that most visitors to the Chapel do not realize, is that in keeping with the intent to simulate the sacred site that existed in ancient Jerusalem, the sanctuary was built on two levels. The Western half, containing the altar and the private area for the Pope and his court, is about six inches higher than the Eastern half, originally meant for the common onlookers. This elevated section corresponds to the farthest recesses of the original holy Temple – the Kodesh Kodoshim , the Holy of Holies – where only the high priest could enter, only once a year, on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.»

Choosing a Pope

Best Regards,

Tuesday 12 March 2013

JVO: Esther

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: In the story of Purim, why was Esther willing to marry a non-Jewish king? What do we learn from this?

Who says she was? There is no indication in the text that she had any type of choice in accepting Achashveirosh as her husband. The clear implication is that it was in fact solely Achashveirosh’s choice as to whom he wished to marry – with the girl chosen not having any say in the matter, that is whether she would like to or not. The verses in Esther, Chapter 2 speak of the officers of the king collecting girls to present to the king with Esther 2:14 indicating the sad fate and any girl not chosen, i.e. to be part of the king’s guarded harem. There is really no indication of choice.
Reading between the lines, one could perhaps still maintain that there may be some indication that a woman would still want to have been chosen. In the preparation time before meeting the king, the women were given anything they wished to highlight their beauty (Esther 2:13). In making such a request, a woman was obviously hoping to be picked. In regard to Esther, though, Esther 2:15 states that she emphatically did not request anything. The actual indication, as such, regardless of what may have been the case with the other women, is that Esther did everything she could to avoid actually being chosen.
This is all from the simple reading of the text. The Rabbinic literature on the subject clearly further indicate that Esther had no desire to marry Achashveirosh and that her participation in the marriage was solely because of the fear that otherwise she would be killed. From a halachic perspective, her relations with Achashveirosh were deemed to be akin to rape. See, for example, T.B. Sanhedrin 74b. Simply, she did not want to be Achashveirosh’s wife; she was forced to become the queen under the threat of death.
This actually forces us to recognize the personal tragedy of Esther’s life and how much she sacrificed herself for the benefit of the nation. This recognition is specifically noted in the manner in which the ending words of Esther 4:16 are read in the synagogue. The tune that is used is not the regular tune for the reading of the Megilla but rather the tune for the reading of the Book of Eicha (Lamentations) on Tisha B’Av. She sacrificed her personal and spiritual quality of life for her nation.
The reason that these few words are particularly singled out is because up until this point, Esther only came to the king when she was summoned. Any sexual relations with Achashveirosh were, thus, clearly initiated by him, effectively against Esther’s desire. In this case, she would be the the one initiating contact with the king which, invariably would include sexual relations. This yields a major discussion in Jewish Law about how Esther could do this, however a powerful mitigating factor was the fact that this was undertaken to save the nation. Nevertheless, we recognize Esther’s specific personal tragedy of having to undertake this action – even to save the nation – by reciting these words in the sad tune that marks the tragedies of our history. See, further, T.B. Megilla 15a.
So in answer to your question – there really is no question because Esther did not want to marry a non-Jewish king.
One final note, though, it is also understandable that you may have thought that she did because that is clearly the way the story is presented in its fairy tale rendition found in the general market place. I recently saw a Hanna-Barbera cartoon on the Book of Esther and it clearly presented Esther as wanting to be queen. It should be noted, though, that this cartoon series about Bible stories was actually developed by Christians and presents the text with that slant. (I really noticed this in a cartoon from the same series about Moshe that had a cross in the hat worn by the cartoon Moshe.) It is important to recognize that presentations on the Bible in the general media do not necessarily present a Jewish perspective and, even more so, that the difference between a Jewish and a Christian perspective – even on the stories that both religions may share – can be vastly different. This case of Esther is but one example of this.

Media Review: Hank Greenberg, Designated Mensch

«Greenberg's courage was called upon more during his baseball days than during the war. When he began his professional career, anti-Semitism, rife in American life, was especially virulent in Detroit, where Henry Ford published the Dearborn Independent. Ford had the Jew-bee in his bonnet. He blamed the advent of jazz ("Moron Music") on Jews and claimed that Jews were natural traitors: "The Jewish Associates of Benedict Arnold" was a characteristic Dearborn Independent headline. Father Charles Coughlin, the radio priest and another professional anti-Semite, broadcast out of suburban Detroit.»
Book Review: Hank Greenberg -

Best Regards,

Monday 11 March 2013

OU Pre-Passover Webcast

OU Kosher – Pre Pesach Webcast  
PESACH: Preparing the Home, Preparing the Head

 OU Poskim: Rabbi Yisroel Belsky and Rabbi Hershel Schachter

Tuesday, March 12  - 2:30
Log in:

The OU Poskim respond to YOUR questions about house cleaning, kitchen preparation, and the Seder. PLUS: the philosophy and values of Pesach – and anything else YOU want to know!

EMAIL your questions to: or             

Best Regards,

Sunday 10 March 2013

Web Yeshiva - Passover Classes Start Today

PREPARE FOR PASSOVER Prepare for Passover with new classes
Starting today at!  

Best Regards,

Michelle Obama and John Kerry to Honor Anti-Semite

«Ibrahim frequently uses Twitter to air her anti-Semitic views. Last August 4, commenting on demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, she described the ruling Al Saud family as "dirtier than the Jews." Seventeen days later she tweeted in reference to Adolf Hitler: "I have discovered with the passage of days, that no act contrary to morality, no crime against society, takes place, except with the Jews having a hand in it. Hitler."»

Michelle Obama and John Kerry to Honor Anti-Semite and 9/11 Fan | The Weekly Standard

Best Regards,

Saturday 9 March 2013

Mussar: Avot 3:21, Torah and Derech Eretz

מסכת אבות פרק ג

ג,כ  [יז] רבי אלעזר בן עזריה אומר, אם אין תורה, אין דרך ארץ; אם אין דרך ארץ, אין תורה.  אם אין חכמה, אין יראה; אם אין יראה, אין חכמה.  אם אין דעת, אין בינה; אם אין בינה, אין דעת.  אם אין קמח, אין תורה; אם אין תורה, אין קמח.



Without Torah such "Life in the World" becomes the existence of a heathen or an animal, degraded from its true meaning and dignity
Without "life in the world", Torah becomes a wasted treasure, and occupation in the self-indulgence of a futile piety...

Wisdom that knows no Fear of God is self-centred and worthless.

Fear that is without wisdom is the feeling of a mere animal towards its master, not that of an intelligent and moral being towards God his Maker, Judge, and Father.

Best Regards,

Friday 8 March 2013

R Dr. Abraham J. Twerski - Healing “Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome”

Healing "Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome"
by Abraham J. Twerski
«I have come to believe that the root cause of this condition is what I have termed Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome (SDS).
As Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen explains in My Grandfather's Blessings: Perhaps the root cause of stress is not overbearing bosses, ill-behaved children, or the breakdown of relationships. It is the loss of a sense of our soul. If so, all the ways in which we have attempted to ease stress cannot heal it at the deepest level. Stress may heal only through the recognition that we cannot betray our spiritual nature without paying a great price. It is not that we have a soul but that we are a soul.
What Dr. Remen calls "soul," I call the human "spirit." And I believe that the neglect of the human spirit is not only the cause of stress, but also of enduring unhappiness. Just as a lack of essential bodily nutrients results in a deficiency condition, failure to provide the spirit with its essential nutrients results in Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome, whose primary symptom is chronic discontent.

That leads us to the core question: What is essential to the human spirit? Within the answer lies the key to happiness.
To me, the human spirit is an integral part of being human. The human body makes its needs known dramatically through hunger, thirst, anger, sex drive, pain, weariness, and more. The human spirit, however, is intangible. We cannot see nor touch it, and it is much less emphatic about what it needs.
Still, it is present in these attributes:
The ability to be self-aware. We as human beings can be introspective, analyze our psychological composition, know our strengths and weaknesses, work to develop desirable traits, and seek to eliminate the undesirable ones.
The ability to be humble. We as human beings can know truths about our knowledge, skills, and talents, yet not think of ourselves as superior to or more worthy than others.
The ability to choose. We as human beings can defy gratifying a desire when we believe it to be morally wrong....»

Reform Judaism Magazine - Healing "Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome"

Best Regards,

Thursday 7 March 2013

NYT: The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

NYT: The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

«What they have found so far has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.

The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler's reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.»


Best Regards,

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Jewish Tribune: Judaism vs. Democracy

There are many people who would like to define the present political tensions in Israel as a conflict between the advancement of Jewish values and the advancement of Western values. In my latest Jewish Tribune article, I comment upon this perspective.

Please see

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Super Charge Your Mastery of Talmud

A Young Man in his twenties expressed to me a strong desire to "finish Shas" and he did not wish to do "Daf Yomi", rather he wanted to learn Shas b'Iyyun.

Based upon my learning experiences, I summarized a learning program that focused upon:
• The texts,
• The core commentaries,
• Style or Derech of how to learn and read Shas.

I tended to avoid works that were "tangential" or who provided summaries without presenting the substantive arguments.

Also, I recommended those Rishonim whose styles resembled that of Shas itself, which is especially true for Tosafos and Beit Yosef.


To summarize my recommendations:

1 Learn G'mara with careful attention to Rashi and Tosafot, and work to "read between the lines". Constantly ask yourself - "What prompted them to say what they said?"

2 For Additional M'forshim Consider:
• Sheetah M'kubetzet [most important]
• Me'iri
• Ritva
• Ran [on Shas]

Those last 3 digest and summarize earlier Rishonim.


For B'kiut
• Don't learn G'mara for B'kiut directly, instead learn -
Mishnayot [pick your peirush]
Minchat Chinuch
• Torah T'mimah on Chumash and Megillot

For Halachah focus upon
• Tur / Beit Yosef
• SA with B'er Hagolah and Bei'ur HaGRA.

All these will provide sources rooted in Talmud and Rishonim.

Aruch Hashulchan is also good, but he rarely goes back to Shas.



While Rambams' Mishneh Torah covers many of the issues in Shas - the Rambam tends to gives just the Maskanah and not a derech. I would avoid that until later.

Except for the GRA and a few others, they are usually about 2-3 steps removed from the text of Shas.

Deriving Halachah from Shas.
If one decides to extract Halachah from Shas then I would suggest researching:
• Rif with commentaries especially
• Rosh
• Ran
• Mordechi

Best Regards,

Monday 4 March 2013

Sobering News: Baby of Williamsburg Couple Killed in Car Crash Dies

«5:30 a.m., on Monday. 
Raizy and Nachman Glauber, both 21, died early Sunday when their Toyota Camry livery cab was hit on Wilson Street by a BMW sedan headed northbound on Kent Avenue, the NYPD said.

Pregnant mother Glauber was rushed to Bellevue Hospital after the crash, where her baby boy was delivered prematurely, police said.
The young mother was declared dead on arrival at the hospital, cops said.

Nathan Glauber was declared dead on arrival at Beth Israel Hospital.

There will be no service for the child, who will be taken "straight from the hospital to the cemetery,"  Abraham said.

The cab driver, Pedro Nunez 32, was released from the hospital Sunday evening, according to a statement from the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers.

Baby of Williamsburg Couple Killed in Car Crash Dies -

Best Regards,

Rambam: Revelation and Science Don't Clash

«The principle which inspired his philosophical activity was identical with the fundamental tenet of Scholasticism:
==> there can be no contradiction between the truths which God has revealed and the findings of the human mind in science and philosophy.

Maimonides primarily relied upon the science of Aristotle and the teachings of the Talmud, commonly finding basis in the former for the latter. In some important points, however, he departed from the teaching of Aristotle;»

Maimonides - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Best Regards,

Sunday 3 March 2013

Has the Universe Always Existed?

My simple answer is -

Not when we say that Hashem created the Universe Ex Nihilo


In terms of Our Time, yes there was never a Time without a Universe because their creation was co-incidental. EG the Arizal reportedly rejects asking "What took place 5 Minutes before the Creation?". There really is no such thing.

So as long as we can measure time there has been a universe. Before that? - only Hashem can describe it.


«"[T]he concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: What did God do before he created the universe? Augustine didn't reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions." (From A Brief History of Time [1988])»

A Selection Of Stephen Hawking Quotes For His 71st Birthday - Science News - redOrbit

Best Regards,

Saturday 2 March 2013

Mussar: The Tomer Devorah

From Derech Emet:

All those who study this book [Tomer Devorah byRabbi Moshe Cordovero] and recite it every week
or every month, they are guaranteed to be worthyof the afterlife of the righteous
[Mubtach Lo SheHu Ben HaOlam HaBa].

And whoever accustoms himself to [practice] it, he will be fortunate and it will be good for him. And in truth, it is a mitzvah for every Jew to purchase this book.

Tomer Devorah was written by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, who was born in 1522, lived in Tzfat [Safed] and died in 1570, a beloved disciple of Rabbi Yosef Caro. Sefer Charedim, chapter 9, paragraph 18, calls him "perfectly wise."

Rabbi Isaiah ben Avraham HaLevi Horowitz [or Hurvitz] was born in Prague (Czech Republic) in year 1565 CE and died in Tzfat (Israel) in 1630 CE. He is often known as the Shelah HaKodesh because of the initials of the book he wrote: Sefer Shnei Luchot HaBrit.


Also Shelah may also match

Best Regards,

Friday 1 March 2013

Life Long Learning Ver. 1

Chumash with a different Peirush Every Year

Mishnah Yomit, different commentary for each cycle

Pirkei Avot - different commentary Each Year

Haggadah - different commentary Each Year

Talmud - 1 Masechta or 1 Chapter b'iyyun Each year.

Halachah - 1 Sefer a Year, EG Kitzur SA, or KSA with a different commentary each year

Mitzvot - Cycle through Sefer Hachinuch, Sefer Hamitzvot l'Rambam, Sefer Mitzvot Hakkatzar, Mitzvot Hashem.

Best Regards,