Monday 30 September 2013

So Much for Objectivity

«Nyan and his collaborators have been running experiments trying to answer this terrifying question about American voters: Do facts matter? 

The answer, basically, is no.  

When people are misinformed, giving them facts to correct those errors only makes them cling to their beliefs more tenaciously.»
The Most Depressing Discovery About the Brain, Ever | Alternet

Best Regards,

Sunday 29 September 2013

Beyond Synthesis

Back in June, on The Blog of Garnel Ironheart, 'Garnel' wrote a piece, The Necessary Synthesis, at, arguing for the importance for the Modern Orthodox world (followers of the Rav zt"l) and the Dati Leumi world (followers of Rav Kuk zt"l) to develop a synthesis of their positions. After reading his piece, I told him that while I agree with his basic assertion, I believe that the path he offered to further his suggestion was not the one that needed to be taken. I, at the time, offered to write a guest post on his blog to present my view on what is needed.

Recently, I fulfilled my pledge, and I invite you to read it at

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Sunday 22 September 2013

Chief Rabbi Yoseph: No to Bothersome Airplane Prayers

"If there is any disturbance to passengers or to the stewards, then people should pray individually rather than in a minyan [prayer quorum]," he wrote. "Especially if [the prayer quorum] would cause elderly or exhausted passengers, or children, to lose sleep," he added.
Chief Rabbi: No to Bothersome Airplane Prayers - Israel National News

Best Regards,

Saturday 21 September 2013

Mussar: Teshuvah, Tfillah Tzedakah

I'd to share this idea from my Rebbe, R S Pecaric...
A person has three key relationships

With oneself,
With Hashem
With one's fellow human beings.

Teshuvah - Fixing Oneself.

Tefillah - Fixing one's Relationship Bein Adam LaMakom.

Tzedakah- Fixing one's Relationship Bein Adam Lachaveiro.

Best Regards,

Wednesday 18 September 2013

OU Issues CO Safety Warning for 3-Day Yom Tov/Shabbat


OU Issues CO Safety Warning for 3-Day Yom Tov/Shabbat | | Orthodox Union

Best Regards,

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Sukkot: Searching for A Missing Halachah

Over the years we've had informal discussions re: the completeness of the Talmud and/or the Shulchan Aruch. Of course, not every contingency could possibly be foreseen but this one "Missing Halachah" has been on my mind for many years.

The case involves two cases of Halachah that often converge on Sukkot:

Principle #1
That of changing venues during the midst a S'udah. Which is address by the Classic Codes.

Principle #2
The concept of leaving the Sukkah to go inside the house, and sometimes vice versa. This is also explicit in the Codes

The cases addressed in the Codes re: #2 seem silent re: the impact of Principle #1

Here are 3 instances addressed by the Codes with regard to changing venue on Sukkot.

1. When the First Night of Sukkot has inclement weather we recite Kiddush and Hammotzi in the Sukkah before moving back to the house to complete our meal

2. Conversely, when the Second Night of Sukkot has inclement weather, we make Kiddush, Hammotzi, and eat inside, and then go into the Sukkah to eat a k'zayit of lechem.

3. During the Chag: when we eat inside the Sukkah and get interrupted EG by a sudden rain shower.

And so I asked -
Does anyone know of a popular Halachic Seifer that does address the case of shinnuy makom in the specific situations related to Hag Sukkot!

The answer I received from a Colleague
It's in Kitzur S"A! Where I found several useful passages on point:

135:3 v'yesish lo l'chavein bish'at n'tilat yadayim ... sheda'ato le'echol gam babbayit.

A bit on point...

135:12 addresses going in and out of Sukkah. However, the bottom line seems to be more about leaving ara'i with da'at to return.

OK End of Search,

Hag Samei'ach to all!
Best Regards,

Jewish Tribune: Identity of a Jewish State - Part II

Determining that Israel should be a Jewish State rather than just a State of Jews must demand of us -- given the reality of the heterogeneous nature of the modern Jewish world -- a method by which we can meet such a determination. In this Tribune article, I continue my investigation into this matter, identifying further yardsticks by which to measure this very concept of a Jewish State.

Please go to

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Monday 16 September 2013

From a Place of Purity to a Place of Peace: Yom Kippur to Sukkot

«Many have the custom to begin building the Sukkah immediately following the conclusion of Yom Kippur. After fasting and praying all day, they eat something and get to right to work - going from one mitzvah to the next - not delaying or missing the opportunity. It is a labor of love, which expresses the desire to carry over the inspiration of the past twenty-five hours. There is something magical that takes place on these Jerusalem rooftops and balconies, lit by the moon and stars. Here in Har Nof, you can hear hammering (and singing!) well into the night. It's an intense ending to an intense day.»

Best Regards,

Sunday 15 September 2013

Israel – The happiest country on Earth?

«If you research the happiest country in the world, Israel tops the list.»

That's because it's home to Rabbi Zelig Pliskin! :-)

Best Regards,

Saturday 14 September 2013

Mussar: The Sukka Test

The Sukka Test
By Guest Blogger
Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen 
The gemora relates that at some time in the future, the Jewish people will be rewarded for their observance of Mitzvot. This reward disturbed  the gentile nations of the world, They contended that had G-d given Mitzvot to them they would also have observed them. As such the very fact that they never were offered Mitzvot to observe  should not be held against them. To test the integrity of such claims HaShem offered them a Mitzvah to observe: the Mitzvah of Sukkah. As the nations of the world entered their Sukkah, made the sun shine directly on the Sukkot. The heat became so unbearable that everyone simply fled from their Sukkah. As they left the Sukkah, they kicked it to manifest their utter disgust. (Avoda Zarah 3a).
Two questions may be leveled against this incident.
1.   Usually HaShem helps people observe Mitzvot. In this incident, HaShem generated the cause for not observing the Mitzvah. The implication is that HaShem didn't want such observance. Why?
2.   How could the nations of the world blatantly contend that they were never offered Mitzvot to observe? Is it not part of our Torah Mesorah that HaShem offered Mitzvot (not to steal nor Kill) to nations  and both were rejected?
Yes, it is true that nations were offered Mitzvot and they rejected the offer. But what did they actually reject? They were offered Mitzvot between man and man (bain adam l'chavairo). They rejected morality and ethical behavior. Yet, they still had a claim that they were never granted ritual religious Mitzvot. Torah has two components; moral and ritual. They openly noted their inability to observe morality, yet, could not understand why ritual laws were not given to them. HaShem understood their sensitivities. That's why He selected the ritual Mitzvah of Sukkah for their test.
Yet, why did HaShem make the Sukkah Mitzvah so difficult to observe? Why did not HaShem encourage and help the observance of the Sukkah Mitzvah?
HaShem manifested dramatically the fact that ritual without moral values is not acceptable to HaShem. A frum immoral person is not deemed a religious man. That is the true message of the Sukkah test.

Best Regards,

Friday 13 September 2013

The Conclusion of Yom Kippur

* * * * *  

Chapter 16
The Conclusion of Yom Kippur

The Teki’at Shofar of Yom Kippur
For many, the concluding moments of Yom Kippur are the most powerful part of the day’s prayers – the congregation declares “Shema Yisrael” and “Hashem Hu HaElokim” in unison, the azan concludes Ne’ila with the festive Kaddish, the shofar is sounded, and all join in singing “Leshana haba’a biYerushalayim.” The blowing of the shofar stands out – why is the shofar, generally associated with Rosh HaShana, sounded on Yom Kippur? Furthermore, shouldn’t it be prohibited to sound the shofar on Yom Kippur, just as it is prohibited when Rosh HaShana falls on Shabbat? (Rosh HaShana 29b).

We find numerous suggestions regarding the reason for this practice. Tosafot[i] record that contemporary Mazorim (prayer books) related this practice to the blowing of the shofar on Yom Kippur of the Yovel year.[ii] They reject this suggestion – if the shofar blowing is really related to the Yovel year, then it should not be blown every year![iii] Hagahot Maimoniot adds that according to this reason, one should blow the shofar on Yom Kippur itself, and not at its conclusion. Alternatively, he suggests that the custom to blow shofar is based upon the Midrash that teaches that at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, a heavenly voice (bat kol) proclaims, “Go and eat your food in happiness” (Eccl. 9:7) Similarly, Tosafot explain that the shofar is blown to declare that the fast has concluded, and therefore children may be fed and the festive meal to be eaten after the fast should be prepared.[iv]

Others offer different interpretations. Rokeaḥ writes that the blowing of the shofar symbolizes our victory over the “Satan.”[v] Kol Bo explains that the shofar is intended to “confuse Satan,” who regains “control” after Yom Kippur.[vi] Finally, Smag[vii] writes that the blowing of the shofar corresponds to the Shekhina’s ascent through the seven heavens, parallel to each “Hashem Hu HaElokim” that we declare, as the verse says, “And God ascends with the terua” (Ps. 47:6).

There are two customs cited by the Rishonim[viii] regarding this shofar blowing – blowing one long sound, or blowing a set of teki’a-shevarim-terua-teki’a (tashrat). The Shulḥan Arukh rules that one should blow a tashrat upon concluding Ne’ila, while Rema records that it is customary to sound one long blast.[ix] These customs appear to correspond to the reasons we have suggested. If the sounding of the shofar corresponds to the ascent of the Divine Presence or serves as a proclamation regarding eating or preparing food, then one long sound should suffice. However, if the blowing of the shofar parallels the blowing of the shofar on Yom Kippur of the Yovel year, then a proper set of tashrat should be blown.

As for the permissibility of blowing the shofar, the Rishonim explain that blowing the shofar is a “ḥokhmah” (a skill) and not a melakha (labor), and it is therefore permitted during twilight (bein hashemashot) of Yom Kippur.[x] While some question this practice, as generally this leniency only applies before Shabbat begins, during bein hashemashot, and not as Shabbat ends, it is customary to blow the shofar before the fast is completely over. Some explain that one may certainly blow the shofar twenty minutes after sheki’a, the time established by the Geonim as tzeit hakokhavim (the halakhic end of the day).

Kiddush Levana
Birkat HaLevana, known as “Kiddush Levana,” may be recited within the first sixteen days after the appearance of the new moon (the molad). While the Shulḥan Arukh writes that one should not recite the blessing until at least seven days have passed since the molad,[xi] the Aḥaronim rule that one may recite this blessing as early as three full days (i.e., seventy-two hours) after the appearance of the molad.[xii]

The posekim cite different opinions regarding whether Kiddush Levana should be recited before or after Yom Kippur. Rema records that one should not recite Kiddush Levana until after Yom Kippur.[xiii] Some explain that one who fears the upcoming judgment cannot recite the Birkat HaLevana with the appropriate joy and happiness. After Yom Kippur, however, when one’s sins have been absolved, one should recite the Kiddush Levana.

Many Aḥaronim disagree. Rabbi Mordekhai Yoffe (15301612) explains in his Levush Malkhut:

The custom is to not to sanctify the new moon until after Yom Kippur because we are suspended in judgment and sanctifying requires happiness. I heard from one sage that on the contrary, it is preferable to sanctify the moon during this time so as to add this mitzva to one’s merits and perhaps tip the scales in favor of one’s merits.[xiv]

In other words, Levush argues that one should preferably perform the mitzva during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva in order to “tip the scales” in his favor. Similarly, Rabbi Eliya Shapira (1660–1712), author of the Eliya Rabba (an important commentary on the Shulḥan Arukh), wrote in his commentary on Levush, known as the Eliyahu Zuta:

There is a story of a person who encountered an idolater at night, and the idolater wished to kill him. The Jew requested from his captor that he be allowed to perform one mitzva before his death, whereupon he sanctified the new moon; while jumping up and down, as is customary, a miracle occurred and the wind picked him up and took him away to safety. I also heard that one who recites the sanctification of the moon is guaranteed to survive the month. I cited this to support Levush’s argument that it is better to sanctify the moon before Yom Kippur so as to ensure that a decree of death will not be issued against you for the coming year.[xv]

In Eliya Rabba, he similarly rules that one should preferably recite Kiddush Levana before Yom Kippur.[xvi] The Gra concurs.[xvii]

Nevertheless, common practice seems to be to recite Kiddush Levana after Yom Kippur. The Mateh Efraim suggests eating a bit before reciting Kiddush Levana, although he acknowledges that one should not separate from the community if they recite the blessing immediately after the fast.[xviii]

Havdala on Motza’ei Yom Kippur
On Motza’ei Yom Kippur, like after Shabbat and Yom Tov, one must recite Havdala both in one’s Shemoneh Esreh and over wine (or grape juice). The Rishonim discuss the differences between the Havdala recited after Yom Kippur and the Havdala recited after Shabbat. On Motza’ei Shabbat, we recited a blessing over a fire and over besamim (spices) in addition to the Havdala blessing recited over a cup of wine (Berakhot 51b). Although the Mordekhai implies that one should recite the blessing over besamim on Motza’ei Yom Kippur as well, in accordance with the custom of Rabbeinu Gershom,[xix] most Rishonim disagree. It is therefore customary not to recite the blessing over besamim after Yom Kippur.

The Gemara explains the reason for the blessing recited over fire on Motza’ei Shabbat God intended to give man fire on the sixth day, but He waited until after the first Sabbath instead:

R. Yossi said:…The Holy One, Blessed be He, bestowed understanding upon Adam HaRishon…and he took two stones, rubbed them one upon the other, and fire emerged. (Pesaḥim 54a)

Each and every Motza’ei Shabbat, we acknowledge God as the one who endowed us with the ability to create and use fire by reciting the blessing “borei me’orei ha’esh” (Blessed be He…Who created the lights of the fire).” Since the fire used for Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat commemorates both the phenomenon of fire and its creation by Adam HaRishon after the first Sabbath, one may use a pre-existing flame that remained lit for the duration of Shabbat – known as a “ner sheshavat or a newly lit flame – known as an “esh hayotzei min ha’etzim umin ha’avanim” – for the Havdala flame.[xx]

The Gemara explains that after Yom Kippur, however, one must use a ner sheshavat (Pesaḥim 54a). The flame used after Yom Kippur comes to contrast kodesh leḥol on Yom Kippur, lighting this fire was prohibited; it is now permitted. What is considered a “ner sheshavat”? It would seem that a ner sheshavat refers to a fire that remained lit for the entire duration of Yom Kippur. Rashi, however, explains that “[even] if it was lit in a permissible manner [on Yom Kippur], such as for a new mother or a sick person…one may recite the blessing upon it after Yom Kippur.”[xxi]

The Rishonim write that one may also recite the blessing over a fire that was lit from a pre-existing flame. Nevertheless, the Maggid Mishna[xxii] cites Naḥmanides, who writes that although on Motza’ei Shabbat one may recite the blessing of borei me’orei ha’esh over a fire lit from a flame which was lit on Shabbat by a non-Jew,” on Motza’ei Yom Kippur, one may not. The Shulḥan Arukh concurs.[xxiii] Rabbi Avraham ben Natan HaYari (twelfth century), in his Sefer HaManhig, records a custom to light extra-long candles before Yom Kippur in order to recite the Havdala blessing upon them after the fast.[xxiv]

Some Rishonim record that it was customary to recite the blessing over the candles in the synagogue, which remained lit for the entire Yom Kippur. Rema cites two opinions regarding whether one may recite the blessing over these candles, as they were lit for “kavod,” and not in order to provide light. He concludes that one should preferably light another candle from that fire, and then combine them and recite the blessing over both flames, in which case one’s blessing includes both the original ner sheshavat as well as a flame lit exclusively for light.[xxv] The Arukh HaShulḥan, however, records that it was customary to recite the blessing over the candles of the beit knesset, as they are also generally lit in order to provide light.[xxvi]

May one, bedi’avad, recite the blessing on a flame that was lit after Yom Kippur, which did not “rest” for the duration of Yom Kippur? Some Rishonim[xxvii] cite a view that permits one to recite the blessing over a flame that was lit from a fire lit after Yom Kippur. The Shibbolei HaLeket cites a similar view in the name of Rabbi Yehudai Gaon.[xxviii] The Shulḥan Arukh cites this view,[xxix] although he seems to reject this opinion further on.[xxx] Some Aḥaronim rule that in extenuating circumstances, one may rely upon the opinion cited and recite the blessing of “borei me’orei ha’esh” on a flame lit from a new fire.[xxxi] The Mishna Berura,[xxxii] Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,[xxxiii] and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein[xxxiv] write that one should not rely upon this minority opinion, but rather one should simply recite Havdala over the wine, and recite the blessing of “borei me’orei ha‘esh” if and when a ner sheshavat becomes available.

Havdala on Motza’ei Yom Kippur on Motza’ei Shabbat
How should one perform Havdala when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat? The Kol Bo rules that one does not recite the blessing over the besamim on Motza’ei Yom Kippur, even if Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat.[xxxv] He explains that one ordinarily smells besamim on Motza’ei Shabbat in order to comfort oneself upon the loss of the “neshama yeteira,” the “extra soul” that each Jew possesses on Shabbat.[xxxvi] One does not experience this “neshama yeteira” on Yom Kippur due to the fast, so no blessing should be recited on besamim at Havdala. Others, however, rule that one should say the blessing over besamim when Yom Kippur falls out on Shabbat.[xxxvii]

The Shulḥan Arukh rules that one should not recite the blessing over the besamim when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat.[xxxviii] The Aḥaronim, however, disagree, and rule that one should say the blessing over the besamim.[xxxix] Although the Mishna Berura writes that one should not instruct the community to say this berakha,[xl] the Arukh HaShulḥan records that it is customary to say the blessing.[xli] Sephardim do not recite this blessing.

Ra’avya writes that one does not need a ner sheshavat for Havdala of Yom Kippur that falls on Shabbat, as on an ordinary Motza’ei Shabbat one may recite Havdala upon a new fire.[xlii] The Mishna Berura writes that while one may certainly use a newly lit fire for Havdala after a Yom Kippur which fell on Shabbat, it is customary to use a ner sheshavat.[xliii]

The Aḥaronim discuss whether one may recite the birkat haner of Havdala over an electric light. The blessing certainly cannot be recited over a fluorescent light, which contains no actual “fire.” The glowing filament inside an incandescent light bulb, however, may possibly be considered to be “esh.”[xliv] Some nevertheless prohibit using a light bulb for Havdala,[xlv] while others permit it.[xlvi] Rabbi Moshe Sternbach rules that according to those who permit using electric lights for Havdala in general, one may also use an electric light on Motza’ei Yom Kippur as a ner sheshavat when necessary.[xlvii] Interestingly, Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg disagrees, arguing that a filament “fueled” by the constant flow of electricity does not constitute a ner sheshavat.[xlviii]

While one should generally not eat or drink before Havdala, one who is thirsty or weak may drink water after the conclusion of the fast even before hearing Havdala. This is especially pertinent to women whose husbands may be delayed at the synagogue. Furthermore, they may also make their own Havdala and then eat or drink regularly.

Rema writes that one should eat and drink on Motza’ei Yom Kippur, as it is a “minor Yom Tov.”[xlix] Beit Yosef attributes this to the Midrash cited above, which describes the heavenly voice that declares upon completion of the fast: “Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works” (Eccl. 9:7).
The Geonim,[l] as well as the Rishonim,[li] record that it is customary not to recite Viduy or Taanun during the months of Nisan and Tishrei (after Yom Kippur). Rema writes that Taḥanun is not recited until Sukkot,[lii] although it is customary to omit Taanun until after Rosh Ḥodesh eshvan.

Finally, Rema records that “the meticulous should begin building the sukka immediately after Yom Kippur, in order to go from mitzva to mitzva.”[liii] We will discuss the mitzva of building the sukka and why the metituclous begin to buld their sukkot immediately after Yom Kippur in the next chapter.

[i] Tosafot, Shabbat 114b; this opinion is attributed to R. Hai Gaon in Teshuvot HaGeonim, Sha’areh Teshuva 67.
[ii] See Lev. 25:9–10.
[iii] See Sefer HaIttur, end of Hilkhot Yom HaKippurim, who suggests that we blow the shofar every year, as the exact calculation of the Yovel years is unknown.
[iv] Tosafot, Shabbat 114b.
[v] Rokeaḥ 217.
[vi] Kol Bo 70; see Teshuvot HaGeonim cited above.
[vii] Smag, Negative Commandment 69.
[viii] See, for example, Maḥzor Vitri 356 and Mordekhai, Yoma 723.
[ix] Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayim 623:6.
[x] Ran, Shabbat 2a; Mordekhai, Yoma 727; Smag, Positive Commandment 67.
[xi] Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayim 426:4.
[xii] See Mishna Berura 426:20, for example.
[xiii] Rema, Oraḥ Ḥayim 426:4.
[xiv] Levush Malkhut, Oraḥ Ḥayim 602.
[xv] Eliyahu Zuta, ibid.
[xvi] Eliya Rabba 602:7.
[xvii] Ma’ase Rav 155.
[xviii] Mateh Efraim 624:4.
[xix] Mordekhai, Yoma 727.
[xx] See Berakhot 52b–53a. Interestingly, the Tosefta (Berakhot 5:31) implies that preferably one should use a newly lit flame for Havdala of Motza’ei Shabbat. One might explain that a new flame better commemorates the first Motza’ei Shabbat, during which Adam HaRishon lit the first flame.
[xxi] Rashi, ibid. See also Maimonides, Hilkhot Shabbat 9:27.
[xxii] Maggid Mishna, Hilkhot Shabbat 29:27.
[xxiii] Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayim 624:4–5.
[xxiv] Sefer HaManhig, p. 362.
[xxv] Rema, Oraḥ Ḥayim 624:5; see also Mishna Berura ibid., 12.
[xxvi] Ostensibly, a “ner neshama” (“yahrtzeit candle”) lit in memory of a deceased relative might pose a similar problem. It is customary, however, to recite Havdala over the ner neshama.
[xxvii] Kol Bo 70, Sefer HaMe’orot, Berakhot 53a, Sefer HaMiḥtam, Berakhot 53a.
[xxviii] Shibbolei HaLeket 322.
[xxix] Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayim 624:4.
[xxx] Ibid., 624:5.
[xxxi] Eliya Rabba 624:6; Ḥayei Adam 145:40; Arukh HaShulḥan 624:6; Kaf HaḤayim 624:17.
[xxxii] Mishna Berura 624:7.
[xxxiii] Yeḥave Da’at 1:63.
[xxxiv] Iggerot Moshe 4:122.
[xxxv] Kol Bo 41.
[xxxvi] See Abudraham, seder Motza’ei Shabbat; Maimonides, Hilkhot Shabbat 29:29.
[xxxvii] Maharil, responsa 34; Abudraham, seder Tefillat Ne’ila.
[xxxviii] Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayim 624:2.
[xxxix] Baḥ, ibid.; Magen Avraham, ibid., 1; Taz, ibid., 2.
[xl] Mishna Berura 642:5.
[xli] Arukh HaShulḥan, Oraḥ Ḥayim 642:1.
[xlii] Ra’avya, Berakhot 8:141. Me’iri, Berakhot 53b, and Nimmukei Yosef, Pesaḥim 54a, citing Ra’a, concur. See also Ritva, Hilkhot Berakhot, 8:23.
[xliii] Mishna Berura 642:7.
[xliv] See Maimonides, Hilkhot Shabbat 12:1.
[xlv] R. Tzvi Pesaḥ Frank, Har Tzvi 2:114; R. Ovadia Yosef, Yeḥave Da’at 2:39, et al.
[xlvi] R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski; R. Eliezer Waldenberg, Tzitz Eliezer 1:20:13; R. Chaim Solovetichik, et al. For a full treatment of this topic, see R. Howard Jachter’s and R. Michael Broyde’s “Electrically Produced Fire or Light in Positive Commandments,” Journal of Halacha & Contemporary Society, XXI.
[xlvii] Teshuvot VeHanhagot 2:302.
[xlviii] Tzitz Eliezer 1:20:13:5.
[xlix] Rema, Oraḥ Ḥayim 624:5.
[l] Sha’arei Teshuva 243.
[li] Maḥzor Vitri 73; Orot Ḥaim, Hilkhot Havdalat Shabbat 33, et al.
[lii] Rema, Oraḥ Ḥayim 624:5.
[liii] Ibid.