Saturday 27 June 2015

Mussar: Competitiveness Drives Away the Truth

"Those who possess the characteristic of always desiring to outdo others cannot accept the Truth. When people have the desire to always be right, even when the truth is plain before their eyes, they will distort in order to maintain their imagine superiority.

This applies in all areas of life."
~ Rav Nachman of Breslov
Likutei Moharan I 122 

Kol Tuv,

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Hillary Milhous Clinton - WSJ

"The similarities between Richard Nixon and Mrs. Clinton go well beyond their hostility toward the press."


Kol Tuv,

Saturday 20 June 2015

Mussar: How and Why Arguing with Most People is a Waste of Time

"The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it."

~ George Bernard Shaw

Only a sincere Seeker of Truth seems to get past this

Rav Nachman of Breslov noted that arguers often become overtaken by "Ko'ach Hannitzachon" and thereby lose their objectivity to understand or to value counter-arguments. Beth Hillel were deemed "Anv'sonnim", perhaps due to this peculiar meedah.

I have given colleagues "ultimatums" as follows

Either be a passionate advocate for a position


Be passionately objective about the truth.

But don't conflate the too. If you wish to be an intellectually honest researcher, then drop your prejudices and follow the trail of the evidence. If you go in with your mind made up, forgetaboutit.

Kol Tuv,

Thursday 18 June 2015

RCA Condolences to Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC
Jun 18, 2015 -- The following letter has been sent to the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, in the wake of the horrific shootings there:

To the Members of the Emanuel AME Church,

As fellow human beings created in the image of God, as fellow Americans, and as members of a people that shares the experiences of discrimination and murder based on faith and ethnicity, we, the largest collection of Orthodox Jewish rabbis in the nation, express to you our outrage at the murders of nine of your brothers and sisters, including your pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

We extend to you, and to their families, our deepest expressions of condolence and pledge to work with you, and other people of faith, to bring an end to violence and discrimination, and to the hatreds that so many of us hoped had waned which have returned with virulent force. We act in the spirit of consolation that came to us in our recent time of need, when Palestinian terrorists entered a place of worship during services and massacred four rabbis, and letters of support came to us from fellow Americans.

May the prophecy of Isaiah be fulfilled for you and your community, "The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted (30:26)" and "Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end (Isaiah 60:20)."

Sincerely yours,
President Rabbi Leonard Matanky
Executive Vice President Rabbi Mark Dratch

The RCA is to be commended for this.

Monday 15 June 2015

United with Israel: I Cannot Be Charlie Hebdo

The natural response to the attack against Charlie Hebdo is to stand in support of those who were terrorized. The challenge, though, is that, while one can defend Charlie Hebdo's right to do what it does, in response to this terror, are we also called upon to agree with it? This is an issue I address in my latest blog on United with Israel at (with 2 comments). It can also be found on Facebook at where it has 159 likes, 22 shares and 14 comments (including one of my own). Feel free to comment here or there.

A further issue that I did not address in the UWI blog but would like to mention here, in that it must also be addressed, is the balancing of Western values with Torah values. In the blog, I speak as one who favours the Western value of freedom of religion which includes the respect of variant religions. I therefore inherently have problems with Charlie Hebdo's mocking of Islam. How, though, we can ask, does Torah values actually look at this mocking? It would seem to me clear that Torah values would look upon Charlie Hebdo's mocking of Judaism negatively. The question is actually not how Torah would view the mocking of Islam in a vacuum but, rather, how to view it within the context of living within the Western world. This explains my approach with the UWI blog but the full position is actually much more complex

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Saturday 13 June 2015

Mussar: Understanding The Sources Of Anger

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin wrote:
Have compassion on people who become angry easily. The person may have negative feelings about himself. By understanding the source of his anger, you will be able to deal with him more effectively.

As regards yourself, if you have chronic feelings of guilt or inadequacy, you are apt to lose your temper easily. For this reason many perfectionists have bad tempers. Since they make almost impossible demands of themselves, they feel tense and strained, which often leads to anger.

While always trying to improve, accept yourself. This will lead to the most healthy growth.
(Rabbi Pliskin's Gateway to Happiness, p.196)

Kol Tuv,

Monday 8 June 2015

Aisles of Holiness

Dear Rabbi Wolpoe,

It has become clear to me from all the HOLY people davening in the Aisles of the Shul and at the Beemah, that Hashem is not there in the pews, or that Hashem cannot hear anyone davening from the pews....

Iyyei Hayyam

Dear Iyyei Hayyam,
AISLE bet you're right!!!


Kol Tuv,

Sunday 7 June 2015

Recognizing Diversity In Islam

As we must continue to be vigilant in our battle with those who wish to harm us, we must also be clear in identifying exactly who are our enemies. To link together all who in a specific group without acknowledging the reality of the diversity that may exist within the group is simply wrong. It is racism at its worst and cannot be tolerated. It is therefore most praiseworthy that Arutz Sheva is presenting a series of articles,  "Op-Ed: Giving Voice to Muslims Who Support Peace", showing the diversity in Islam and that there are large segments of the Moslem world who do wish a peaceful solution with Israel and a positive connection with the Jewish People. The first two articles in the series can be seen at:

Article One -
Article Two -

We invite you to take a look.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Saturday 6 June 2015

Mussar: Don't be So Sure of Yourself

"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

~ Susan B. Anthony

Kol Tuv,

Friday 5 June 2015

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Stove and Oven Use on Shabbat and Yom Tov

The Halakhot of Stove and Oven Use on Shabbat and Yom Tov
By Rabbi Meir Sendor

Our stoves and ovens get a lot of use throughout the month of Tishrei in preparing Yom Tov meals, in addition to our weekly Shabbat preparation. This is a good time to review the halakhot of oven and stove use on Yom Tov and Shabbat, and to correct some common misunderstandings when it comes to the use of ovens with the Sabbath Mode feature.
The Star-K Kashrut organization, pioneers together with appliance manufacturers in the development of the Sabbath Mode setting for ovens, acknowledges that the trade name for this feature is unfortunate and has led to misunderstandings, and has appealed to rabbis to help correct the problem. The real advantage of the Sabbath Mode feature is for Yom Tov, and even here it is subject to halakhic rules that define a very limited set of parameters for oven use.
Let me quote directly from warnings issued on the Star-K website:
The Sabbath Mode does not allow us to turn these appliances on or off on the Sabbath. The Sabbath Mode also does not allow us to use these appliances completely at will on Shabbos or Yom Tov. Rather, it enables us to use these appliances within the guidelines of Halacha…
Ovens with the Sabbath mode on will not shut off after twelve hours of continuous operation. In many cases this mode will prevent the oven light from going on/off as the door is opened/closed. In some models, however, the bulb must be unscrewed or the light left on for the entire period. No lights, digits, solenoids, fans, icons, tones or displays will be activated/modified in the normal operation of the oven.
For these Sabbath mode models, the set  temperature can be raised or lowered on Yom Tov (but not on Shabbos) for cooking purposes at any time, because there is a built-in delay between the request for temperature change and its actual implementation.
The following rules apply to oven use, with or without the Sabbath Mode:
1. No adjustment to the temperature is permitted on Shabbos even in the Sabbath Mode.
2. All food must be fully cooked and placed in the oven before Shabbos. No food (cooked or non-cooked) may be placed in the oven on Shabbos to re-warm or cook. This is true regarding ovens, as well as warming drawers.
3. It is the opinion of Rabbi Heinemann that on Shabbos, for the thermostatically controlled oven that is running (as opposed to one shut off by timed bake), the door may be opened once at any time and all the food removed at that time. The oven may not be used any further for that Shabbos. [This refers all modern ovens, regular and Sabbath mode, and to food  that is fully cooked that was placed in the oven before Shabbos to stay warm].
4. The controls of an oven that is left on for Shabbos (or part of a Shabbos with a timed bake) should be covered with something like a piece of aluminum foil. Caution: Please be careful not to cover the vents.
With these warnings and corrections from Star-K in mind, let's review the rules of cooking and keeping food warm on Shabbat and Yom Tov, and how they apply to ovens and stove tops with the Shabbos Mode feature.

Kol Tuv,