Saturday 31 May 2014

Shavuot: To Teach, To Learn, To Repent

Originally posted 5/18/13, 9:59 PM.

R Eliyahu Safran
« For the thoughtful Jew everyday is a Yom Matan Torah and Yom Hadin. Such an attitude might also help us understand Lag B'Omer, the thirty-third day of the counting of the Omer when, according to the Talmud, the plague that caused the death of 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva ended.

24,000 brilliant young scholars! Lost! Our Sages ask why so many scholars died. According to Talmudic and Midrashic sources, they died because they did not sufficiently respect one another. Their scholarship, Torah learning, and erudition were taken for granted. For them, Torah learning was pursued as if any other knowledge, without an excitement, enthusiasm, and fire resulting in new insights, renewed motivation, and novel ideas. They reveled in their Torah brilliance rather than the brilliance of Torah. »

Shavuot: To Teach, To Learn, To Repent - Judaism - Israel National News

Best Regards,

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Nishma-Parshah: Nasso

Take a look at what's on
for Parshat Nasso

P. Nasso, The Nazir - Living in Moderation



Originally posted 5/30/08, 7:02 PM.


By Farley Weiss,
National President of YI
«Yom Yerushalayim is a monumental day in Jewish history.  It is a celebration of the first time in 2,000 years that Jews regained sovereignty over the Kotel, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount, which is Judaism's holiest site.  And it is a time to thank G-d for giving us the extraordinary gift that is Jerusalem.
We were overwhelmed and outnumbered by our enemies in 1967, yet the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces achieved a miraculous victory when they reclaimed and reunited Jerusalem in a defensive war after Jordan launched an attack against them.  We salute and remember the brave Israeli soldiers who battled our antagonists and prevailed in just six days, retaking Jerusalem and the Kotel along the way.
Many of us, young and old, sometimes take it for granted that we have control over Jerusalem and unfettered access to our holy sites.  However, it is important to always recall that there was a time, not that long ago, when Jerusalem was off limits to Jews.


Given that Yerushlayim is the Heart and Soul of Israel
Then I'd say
The Makom haMikdash is the Heart and Soul of Yerushalayim.

Best Regards,

Tuesday 27 May 2014

For Yom Yerushalyim

Originally posted 5/8/13, 12:12 PM.
«....the Arabs constantly work (with success) to destroy any traces of the Bet Ha-Miqdash and to deny that it was even there....

Hence, Jews absolutely Jews MUST go up to the mountain to assert our inalienable rights to place where, according to our Rabbis, Heaven and Earth meet. This is especially so on Yom Yerushalayim, for Jerusalem is an extension of the Temple itself.»
Jerusalem's Heart: For Yom Yerushalyim | Jeffrey Woolf | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel

Comment: And so did Dayan's surrender of the Temple Mount facilitate the Temple Denier's success in eradicating its Jewish Heritage and Legacy?

Best Regards,

Monday 26 May 2014

JVO: Daughter's Jewishness

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 this 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.

* * * * *
My daughter has a child with a non-Jewish man with whom she has since split. She leads a totally non-Jewish life, although she comes for Seder, etc. Her own father, who died at the age if 24, was not Jewish. I have since married a Jewish man. I truly hope and wish that my daughter ends up with a Jewish man, but given her choice of lifestyle I do not see how this can ever happen. Should I give up hoping and accept that this is a lost cause? She is my only child and I sense that she feels lost and is unhappy. All she wants is to have a family life. My own father was the only father figure in her life, but he died when she was six years old. I blame myself entirely for this situation as I was hardly a good example.

Rabbi Hecht's answer
There would seem to be two parts to this type of question. The first part would be: what is your obligation, as a Jew, in promoting Jewish identity in another Jew, in this case your daughter? The answer to that is straightforward; a Jew clearly has an obligation to assist another Jew in his/her observance of Torah. One argument for this is found in the halachic principle: kol Yisrael areivin zeh b’zeh, ‘all of Israel are guarantors for each other’. See Rashi, Rosh Hashana 29a where this principle is used to explain why one Jew, in various circumstances, can fulfill a mitzvah for another even though the one performing the mitzvah has already previously fulfilled his/her own obligation. As long as another Jew is under an obligation to perform a mitzvah, it is as if we all are so obligated – and responsible. See, also, T.B. Shavuot 39a.
In addition to this principle, an obligation of one Jew for the observance of another also arises from the command of hoche’ach tochi’ach et amitecha, ‘rebuke your fellow’, See Vayikra 19:17 and, for further  details, Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 239. While there are many practical rules that have to be considered in regard to the application of this law, its basic principle is that a Jew is responsible to take steps to correct or prevent another Jew from violating Halacha. In this regard as well, you would have an obligation to try and further your daughter’s Jewish identity.
The real issue, however, is, I believe, the other part of this question. Answering that you, as a Jew, have an obligation to promote Jewish identity in your daughter actually seems to present your daughter as an object, someone you are to act upon. The law seems to be telling you that you have an obligation to affect another – and that would seem to be without even a consideration of this other as a seperate person, an independent human being with a will of her own. So we must consider the other part of this question: in the interest of your daughter, should you attempt to promote her Jewish identity? Is it to the benefit of your daughter to promote her Jewish identity? This leads into the question of how you actually see Jewish identity, personally and in general. If you see it as a good thing that would benefit your daughter, how could you not promote it within her?
We have a principle within Jewish Law that we can convert non-Jewish children. The question still emerges: how is this possible for conversion demands the free-will acceptance by the candidate to become Jewish and children are not deemed able to make such a free-will decision? The answer lies in the halachic concept of zochin l’adam shelo be’fanav, ‘one can benefit another even without their consent.’ While transactions demand the free-will acceptance of the parties, such an acceptance is not deemed necessary from a party when the transaction would be fully and totally beneficial to this party. Applying this principle to the laws of conversion, it is deemed permissible to convert a child -- even as a child is absent the ability to make a reasoned, adult, free will decision of this nature -- because becoming Jewish is deemed to be a total benefit to the child. See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 268:7. Within the principles of Torah, being Jewish is a good thing.
This, I would say, is the real issue with your daughter. Jewish thought believes that a Jew identifying as a Jew is good for that person – and if this is so, how could you then not further promote the furtherance of your daughter’s Jewish identity? Of course, there are many practical issues that would have to be addressed in determining how you would proceed from such a perspective. This is not a time for imposition or for the lack of recognition of your daughter’s own will. In the way you framed the question, though, it seems that you do believe that promoting your daughter’s Jewishness would be good for her. Jewish thought would agree and inform you that regardless of the past, it is never too late to assist others in improving their lives. Never stop hoping for the good – and more so, do whatever you can, properly and correctly, to bring it about.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Yom Yerushalayim

Originally posted 5/30/08, 3:25 PM.

As Yom Yerushalayim approaches and amongst the storm of controversy that currently surrounds our most holy city, I have begun to wonder how much of my feelings and motivations in regard to Yerushalayim are affected by the lack of access to our holy sites by the Arabs prior to 1967. Of course, there is a desire for Jewish sovereignty over Jewish land and especially over this city -- but is that desire for sovereignty the essential deep motivation for not letting Yerushalayim out of our control. How much are we still affected by the pre-1967 barring of Jews from going to the Kotel? Is our reluctance to even discuss giving away any part of Yerushalayim solely motivated by our feelings of Jewish nationalism and our desire for Jewish sovereignty over our holy sites or does it also reflect our lack of trust in others to not bar us from our holy sites, ensure that we are not barred or even simply to treat our holy sites without respect.

I guess one could ask what difference does it make what the motivation is for a strong stand in regard to Yerushalayim. I am also not sure. It may reflect our attitude to the galut in general. Do we desire Eretz Yisrael because we need a haven from being subjected to the whims of others which is our status within the galut? Or is our desire for our own country with our own sovereignty so we can simply express ourselves? One difference that may arise from a contemplation of this issue may surface in how we act towards the sites of other religions in Yerushalayim. If we wish a unified Yerushalayim because we are concerned about how another will treat our sites, there is a greater call for us to treat the sites of others with respect. But if our desire is simply to express ourselves, we may find these other sites on our land a circumvention of our own spirit. Of course, there most likely will be no practical distinciton in this regard based upon motivation. There are many other reasons to maintain a certain position even simple political good will. Yet, at least on a theoretical level. it may be interesting to consider how much we are affected by our perception of what has transpired in the last 60 years.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Friday 23 May 2014

Hashkafah: A Peirush We Need Today

Sefer HaChinnuch is a basic text containing a wealth of Hashkafah

We already have a solid, technical, Halachic work in the Minhat Hinnuch

Maybe the time has arrived for a more "Spiritual" approach emphasizing the Ethics, Hashkafah, and maybe a touch of Basic Kabbalah, too.

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 22 May 2014

Poverty in Israel is a Problem

«How can I mislead those wanderers with bad advice, for from the first day they arrive in Eretz Yisrael they will lack both food and water. There is no place in Eretz Yisrael to earn even a single agora. Their Arab neighbors will not buy anything from them. Not so in America. True, they won't earn a princely salary from the start, but they can break their hunger with their peddling from the first day. And whether or not they stay religious, depends on their choice, for even there it is possible for them to remain faithful to Hashem. Not so when living in poverty, for it causes a person to transgress al da'as kono with certainty," Reb Yisrael explained.
(Tenuas HaMussar, Vol. I, pp. 213-14.)»
Yes, Poverty is a Problem :: Jewish Media Resources

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Gittin - Paris-Style

«It should also be noted that the according to the internal rules of the Paris beis din, gittin are uncoupled from financial proceedings, so that cooperating with the execution of a get or entering mediation at the suggestion of the beis din in now way sets any party back financially, except for the administrative costs of the proceedings. There is thus no prejudice for or against any party to the get, and fear of such prejudice cannot explain the refusal or initial refusal of spouses from cooperating with the beis din. This policy was reportedly instituted by Chief Rabbi Sitruk during his administration.»

In the Paris Jewish community, more women than men are recalcitrant spouses. | Mikolot Mayim Rabbim

Kol Tuv,

Monday 19 May 2014

Lag B'Omer - Yahrtzeit of The Rema - 3

«Until the Second World War, thousands of pilgrims visited his grave annually on Lag Ba'omer, his Yahrzeit (date of death).»

Moses Isserles - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 18 May 2014

Lag B'Omer - Yahrtzeit of The Rema - 2

Lag B'Omer - Yahrtzeit of The Rema « YWN Coffee Room

«And another interesting thing is that the Rema's Yartzhiet always comes out the Shabbos of Parshas Emor......osios of R M A»

Well this year The 33rd of the Omer came the day after B'chukotai....

Kol Tuv,

Lag B'Omer - Yahrtzeit of The Rema - 1

Lag B'Omer - Yahrtzeit of The Rema « YWN Coffee Room

The Rem"a was nifter on 33 Omer, wrote 33 Seforim, and died at the age of 33.

Kach Mikublani MiRaboisai...»

The Rema was niftar after 33 years of being the Rav Av Bet Din of Cracow. Not at age 33. We see how stories can easily be musunderstood and those misunderstandings perpetuated

Kol Tuv,

How Lag Ba'Omer has Shfited

The Spreading Fires Of Lag Baomer: Tempting Quick & Easy 'Spirituality' vs. Enduring Ruchnius | TREASURES OF ASHKENAZ

Kol Tuv,

Saturday 17 May 2014

Mussar: The Joy of Character Development

Derech Emet:

Sefer Emunah UBitachon, chapter 4,paragraph 15:
"..for a wise person, there is no joy like. the joy of correcting his character traits. ..."
Sefer Emunah UBitachon was written by Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz (Orthodox), popularly known as the "Chazon Ish" because that was the title of an important book he wrote. 

He lived from 1878 to 1953 of the Common Era.

Kol Tuv,

Friday 16 May 2014

Thursday 15 May 2014

R Arie Folger: How did Psalm 30 Land in the Morning Service

«In other words, its inclusion in Ashkenazi siddurim may have been Kabbalistically motivated, and it may be still be argued that that was erroneous. However, its recitation was likely not mistakenly taken over from 'Hanuka, as we will see in the next section.»

How did Psalm 30 Land in the Morning Service | Mikolot Mayim Rabbim

Kol Tuv,

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Jewish Tribune: Universal Messages

While we must absolutely look at our history through the lens of our Jewish identity, we still cannot ignore the universal messages we must also learn from it. For further on this, please go to

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Shabbat Table 1 - The Issur R'fuah on Yom Tov

Recently one Friday Night, we had an engaging conversation with a young man [Adam] about to graduate YU and is going to Israel next year for advanced studies. Note - Adam has recently completed all of Orach Haim with S"A-Rema and the Aruch Hashulchan.

I then proceeded to ask him for the source for the Issur of R'fuah on Yom Tov.

He answered that indeed there are no specific sources until about the 19th Century on the matter, but that "The practice is not to do it."

I disputed the idea that merely a common practice without a source for about 17 centuries, was sufficient criteria for presuming an issur. [Lo Ra'inu eino Raya]. Unless there had been a g'zeirah like Kitniyyos. EG it could just be Hiddur, or for Ba'alei Nefesh, etc. ...

Also, since we have a Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov, there has to be more to it than a mere "presumption".

He felt otherwise that the practice is sufficient criteria and a raya that this is assur.

B"H I got more information re: this dispute the very next day at the Shabbat Table. Please Stay tuned for Part 2.
Shalom and Best Regards,

"If we cannot end our differences at least we can make the world safe for diversity." ~ John F. Kennedy

Monday 12 May 2014

Yitgadeil vs. Yitgadal - 2

Yet another article by Dror Maor:
«....We will start exploring this dispute with the posek acharon, the Mishna Berura. The M"B writes in siman 47 that the correct dikduk of this word is indeed with a tzeiri, yisgadel.
נוסח הקדיש יתגדל ויתקדש שהוסד ע"פ המקרא והתגדלתי והתקדשתי האמור ביחזקאל לח לענין מלחמת גוג ומגוג שאז יתגדל שמו של הקב"ה דכתיב ביום ההוא יהיה ד' אחד ושמו אחד. ויאמר הדלית דיתגדל ויתקדש בצירי כי הוא עברי ולא תרגום
This line is a direct quote of the Pri Megodim, who quotes the great medakdek Rav Shlomo Zalman Hena, who contends that kaddish (at least the first two words) is Hebrew and not Aramaic.
The Beis Yosef has a lengthy discussion about this, going back and forth whether kaddish is indeed in Hebrew or Aramaic. ....»

Kol Tuv,

Sunday 11 May 2014

Yitgadeil vs. Yitgadal

«The Strange Repercussions of the Alteration of the First Two Words of the Kaddish Elsewhere in the Siddur.

Even assuming the custom as recorded in Masseh Rav is correct, the change in punctuation of those two words raises additional problems. As mentioned before there are other words which are either similar to the grammatical structure of the first two words in kaddish and in at least one case in the siddur the very same words appear – all of which are in Hebrew. Thus, these words should get the same treatment as the kaddish words, i.e. be punctuated with a tzeirei. But, in siddurim which claim to follow either the position of the Gra[45] or that of the Chofetz Hayyim, only the kaddish has been altered and the rest retain a patach.
As here has been a renewed interest in the Gra and his customs and those who follow him, there is no lack of siddurim which this point has been borne out. In the first siddur based upon the Gra – Ishe Yisrael – kaddish (the first two words) get a tzeirei while the other instances throughout the siddur all get a patach. In the more recent Siddur Vilna although the change appears in kaddish in the Shemoneh Esreh where the similar formulation appears there is no change.[46]
The Siddur Aliyot Eliyahu which was "edited and reset from anew . . . with great care . . . based upon the text of . . . the Gra" changes the first two words of kaddish. Yet, when it comes to both the Shemoneh Esreh and the very same words – yisgadel v'yiskadesh after the removal of the Torah – it employs a patach.[47]
In the recently printed Yom Kippur Machzor which includes the commentary and customs of R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik the same result occurs. This Machzor which also includes a list of R. Soloveitchik's relevant customs, includes that of R. Soloveitchik's views on kaddish. One these customs "based on the tradition of the Vilna Gaon that the opening two words of Kaddish" should be pronounced with a tzeirei. This is so because those "two words are Hebrew words . . . and the proper Hebrew pronunciation of each of those words is with a tzeirei."[48] The editors are not satisfied with the mention of this custom at the beginning of the book, instead, each and every time kaddish appears they make mention of this custom. While they are punctiliousness regarding kaddish they make no mention by either the shemoneh esreh nor by the very same words after the Torah is removed.[49]
To be fair at least one siddur which is based upon the Gra has been partially[50] consistent.
In the Siddur Ezor Elyiahu, when the actual words yisgadal v'yiskadah appear during the removal of the Torah, the editor changes those as well to a tzeirei. He notes explicitly that this change is an extension of the Gra's custom regarding the kaddish.[51]
The problem of altering the kaddish text but retaining the other examples in the siddur was already noted in the late 18th century!
*R. Isaac Satanow in decries the "haughty simpletons (am aratzim)" who change the kaddish to a tzeirei but fail to note the others. These who "speak in contradictions," Satanow applies the verse in Proverbs (18:2) "a fool does not delight in understanding."[52] The expression "better leave well enough alone" is extremely apt.[53]*

In conclusion, it would seem that perhaps what may be viewed as a minor change has much broader implications. These implications include the propriety of the change itself as well as the consequences of the change. It seems that many were unaware of these outcomes and both made the change without full awareness of the history. Further, they were also oblivious to the necessity to alter other portions of the text as well. As one scholar has put it "the critical study of Jewish liturgy is in any case too important to be left exclusively to the 'daveners'!"[54] In the end, unfortunately, these words have proven to be extremely prescient.

Tradition Seforim Blog

Kol Tuv,

Saturday 10 May 2014

Mussar: How to Be a Mensch

«Here are four Jewish values that can help each of us become a modern-day mensch:

Help Others....»

My late brother Ronnie A"H once told me something like this

"I don't care how frum you become, so long as you're a Mensch." I've taken that charge to heart.

Kol Tuv,

Friday 9 May 2014

Playing Ball On Shabbat and Yom Tov by R Saul J. Berman

Nishma would like to acknowledge the contributions of both Rabbis Berman and Dratch for this piece.

R Berman:
From earliest times the Jewish people apparently had great difficulty in utilizing the holy time of shabbat in a manner consistent with God's purposes for that day. The fact that Ezra introduced a special reading of the Torah for shabbat afternoon (1), and that various traditions of homiletical teachings being focused on shabbat afternoon emerged (2), are themselves indications of the struggle. The unfortunately common practice of taking long naps on shabbat is just one further indication that many people are totally baffled by the question of how to use time in a spiritually uplifting fashion.

The issue of the propriety of playing ball on shabbat and yom tov, is both important in and of itself as a halakhic question, and is vital as a barometer of the general relationship of our community to the use of spiritual time.
Here is the link:

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 8 May 2014

The Wolpoe's come from Belarus

Located 43km East to Bialistok, 48km South-East to Grodno.
Situated on the Waupianka River.
Formerly in the Grodno uzed, Grodno gubernia,
Currently in Belarus, Volkovysk (Vaukavysk) region.
Population (1990) = 1,544 inhabitants»
Volpa Jewish Community during the Holocaust

This city is probably the placename that became the family surname. Our name probably has no direct link to the name Wolf.

Kol Tuv,

Modern Biblical Studies for the Observant Jew - 1

For the more Progressive-Minded Observant Jew, check out these links

R Josh Yuter has a shiur with audio and PDF mekorot here:

And a writeup here:


R Yonah Gross: A shiur and the source sheet are available here:

On issues relating to Devarim, R. Prof. Joshua Berman has written a few essays recently on this subject:


R Gil Student has put together links to various resources regarding R. Mordechai Breuer's approach:

And on the historical issue of Pharaoh's birthday:

Kol Tuv,

Wednesday 7 May 2014

In the Morning in the East, In the Evening in the West

«This shiur cannot be fully understood or appreciated without a familiarity with the historical setting in which it was delivered. Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff has lectured in detail in describing the communal and personal background leading to the Rav's embrace of Religious Zionism. See for instance a summary at YUTorah. What follows here should be seen as a complement to his analysis that adds crucial perspectives that emerge from the shiur itself.

In June 1943 American Jewry was well aware of the dire straits of European Jewry, even if it was yet fully informed of the extent of the catastrophic loss of Jewish life at the hands of Germany together with its allies and collaborators. A few months earlier Roosevelt and Churchill had met in Casablanca to set in motion a multi-front counterattack against the German and Axis armies, and at the same time the Russian military had captured the bulk of the German forces that had invaded Russia. In September of 1943 Italy would surrender to the Allied forces, to be followed by the D-Day attack on the coast of Normandy in June of 1944.

Thus, the Rav spoke (and the shiur was later readied for publication) at a time that was filled on the one hand with grief for the fate of European Jewry, but on the other with guarded hope that a turning point in the war and hence the salvation of the remnant of European Jewry had been reached. These complex contemporary realities are reflected at key points in the shiur.»
In the Morning in the East, In the Evening in the West | Torah Musings

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 6 May 2014

6th Iyyar - Yahrzeit for Ronald Wolpoe

In Memory of my late brother
Ronald Wolpoe, Hayyim ben Zvi,
I was B"H able to be M'sayyeim
Several S'farim

1. Tomer D'vorah

2. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch - Goldin 4 Volume Edition

3. Mishnah S'durah
Seder Kodoshim
Masechet Pei'ah

4. Sefer Hammitzvot - Rambam La'am Edition

Y'hee Zichru Baruch
Kol Tuv,

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut - A Day Worthy of Celebration

originally published 4/25/12

A Day Worthy of Celebration - Judaism - Israel National News

Rav Eliyahu Safran -
«So we pray that we be worthy of the second geula, one as absolute and complete as the first geula, geulat Mitzrayim. We pray in the nusach S'fard, "U'maer l'gealenu geula sh'leimah"; we pray that He speedily redeem us with a complete and whole geula. Not a geula as existed during the time of the Second Temple but an absolute geula where nothing that is required for completeness is missing.

Shalom and Regards,

Monday 5 May 2014

Hakeret Hatov and Yom HaZikaron

One of the most significant values within Torah is hakeret hatov, the recognition of a good, a benefit, that you have received from another. This important character trait of acknowledging and properly responding to how another has benefited applies even if the benefit was unintentional and cost the other nothing -- how much more so when your benefit has been at the expense of this other.

We benefit from Eretz Yisrael. Sadly, this benefit has been at the expense including the many who gave their lives. This has nothing to do with politics, with religious perspectives on the land -- Yom HaZikaron is a day of hakeret hatov.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Sunday 4 May 2014

Yom Ha'atzma'ut Humor [circa 1948]

Originally published 5/8/08, 11:27 PM.

Let's go back to the Knesset some 60 years ago where a hot debate is taking place. The Secularists favor declaring "Hatikva" the national Anthem of the newly created state; while the Traditionalists favor Shir Hama'lot [Psalm 126 -Rosenblatt's Rendition] instead.

  • Traditionalists: After all, what Mai'les [Yiddish for Ma'alot or advantages] does Hatikva have anyway?
  • Secularists: Why should we do Shir Hama'alot? It is after all HOPEless!

So Hope beat out Advantages and the rest is History!


Friday 2 May 2014

Yom Hazikaron/Yom Ha-atzmaut

'Memorial Day isn't so relevant to American Jewry'! What a horrible thing. But sadly true. »

Yom Hazikaron/Yom Ha-atzmaut | Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association

Kol Tuv,