Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Today's Revach Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Wed, 25 May 2016 03:00:00 -0700 240 Parshas Tazria: Rav Itzele Volozhin - Behind the Different Forms Tzoraas

Why must one go specifically to a Kohen when he sees a potential Tzoraas? Why can he not go to any Talmid Chochom who has mastered the halachos of Nega'im?

Rav Itzele Volozhin says that the five kinds of tzoraas is a result of five fundamental sins. Tzoraas on one's body comes from overindulging in bodily desires. Tzoraas of Begadim is a result being obsessed with external beauty and constantly running after new clothing. Tzoraas of the head is caused by bad character, corrupt thinking, and haughtiness. Tzoraas in the beard is for sins of the mouth such as Lashon Hara and mockery. Lastly Tzoraas on the walls of one's home, where one is required to remove all his possessions, and ultimately destroy the house, is a punishment for chasing after wealth and possessions.

A person afflicted with tzoraas does not need someone to treat his nega, he needs someone who can heal his mind and soul. While any expert can distinguish a tamei nega from a tahor one, only a Kohen, the Ish HaChesed and the embodiment of Ahavas Yisroel, can get into the head of the Mitzora and help him climb out of his misery and make him whole again.

Fri, 08 Apr 2016 03:00:00 -0700
Intro to Eishes Chayil Journey along with us on our tour of Eishes Chayil. We will explain each pasuk and the symbolism of the letter the pasul begins with. For full  hard copy version of the Eishes Chayil you can contact us.

Eishes Chayil intro

Thu, 18 Feb 2016 03:00:00 -0800
Personal Tefilos During Shmoneh Esrei - What You Should Know

There is a Mitzva to daven to Hashem for all your needs. The Anshei Knesses HaGedola created a standard Nusach for Shmoneh Esrei, to cover all the essentials. Nevertheless Hashem still wants to hear our personal requests from our heart, especially since Shmoneh Esrei, that is repeated three times a day is often said by rote.

How and when is this done? The Shulchan Aruch (OC 119) mentions three places in Shmoneh Esrei where perosnal tefilos can be added. First, and best, is during each bracha, where one can make a personal request which is related to that bracha. There are a few rules one should know before doing this.

- One must start with the Nusach of Chazal, and only then insert their personal tefila.
- The tefila should be personal and not for the Tzibbur.
- It is preferable to add things right before the Chasima (Boruch Ata) but then to add words after that match the Chasima.
- One should only add requests that are for now and not for the future. For example if a person needs parnasa he can ask, but a wealthy person should not ask Hashem to let his wealth continue.
- It preferable to add a Tefila in Lashon Kodesh, but the most important thing is that it should come from the heart, in any language he can communicate.
- The request should be succinct.
- One should not add a tefila that he says all the time, since it will look like he is adding to the Nusach of the davening. At the very least he should skip any additional tefilos once a week.

Although the best time to ask personal requests are during the relevant Bracha, during the bracha of Shomei'a Tefila one can ask whatever he wants, including request for the future and the tzibbur, but he should still keep it to a minimum. Lastly one may add personal tefilos after Yihiyu L'Ratzon and add as much as his heart desires!

Tue, 16 Feb 2016 03:00:00 -0800
Parshas Trumah: Rav Moshe Feinstein - Make Yourself Big, but don't Take up Space

Chazal tell us (Yuma 21a) that the Aron HaKodesh took up no space in the Kodesh HaKedashim. If you measured from each side of the Aron to the wall, you would get the total of the entire area, with no space left for the area the Aron sat on. This was a great Nes.

Rav Moshe Feinstein in Darash Moshe asks, if the Aron which held the Luchos took no space then certainly the Luchos themselves should warrant such a miracle and take no space. Yet the Gemara in Bava Basra (14a) tells us specifically that the Luchos filled up the entire space inside the Aron.

We learn from here, says Rav Moshe, a very important lesson. A person must be like the Aron Kodesh. He must fill up his entire being with Torah. If he leaves any part of himself lacking Torah and does not learn the Torah in its entirety, then he will be "missing something" and will be rendered incomplete.

However after he has filled himself with Torah he needs to act with total modesty. He needs to take the major heft that he has imbued himself with, and act as if he takes up no space. And on the flip side he must also realize that the precious Torah he has filled himself with, is "Kulo Ruchni" pure spirituality, and stands above any boundaries and space in this world.

Wed, 10 Feb 2016 03:00:00 -0800
Parshas Yisro: Hashem Killed Bnei Yisroel With His Voice

Chazal tell us that at first Hashem started to say the Dibros, but His voice caused the Neshamos of Bnei Yisroel to leave their bodies. Hashem then brought them back to life by sprinkling them with dew. Why did Hashem do this? He obviously knew they would not survive and would die at the foot of the mountain before Kabalas HaTorah.

When Hashem created the world he looked into the Torah which was the blueprint. All creation, all wisdom, and all morality come from the Torah. The world is simply an illusion meant to deceive us and tempt us away from the Torah. Any morality in the world not consistent with the Torah is not true morality but rather corruption cloaked in morality.

Any person raised on worldly values cannot truly embrace and fully embody Torah until he rids himself of his worldly values and begins anew. Rather than learn from the Torah how one should live his life, instead he will try to read his preconceived notions into the Torah. This would be not only a corruption of his own life, but he would corrupt the Torah as well in order to suit his needs.

Bnei Yisroel after centuries of Egyptian exile and absorbing their mentality, could not continue to exist in their current state when confronted with pure unadulterated Torah. After "dying" and eradicating their existing notions, Hashem sprinkled them with the "Tal Torah". He brought them back into existence with a clear slate, on the basis of Torah. Only then did Hashem hand over His precious Torah to the descendents of his beloved followers.

Sat, 30 Jan 2016 03:00:00 -0800
Rav Meir Chadash - Kavod, Giving Your Friend a Poison Pill?

Kavod, we know, is something to run away from. Kavod corrupts, the quest for kavod destroys everything. So how is it that not only are we permitted to give others kavod, but we are encouraged and even demanded to do so? What about Lifnei Iveir, is there a pill more poison than kavod?

Rav Meir Chadash the Chevron Mashgiach and Talmid of the Alter of Slabodka explains with a Mashal (not exact but this is the gist of it). A poor fellow approaches a wealthy member of the community and asks him for a loan to start a business. The rich man tells him that he'd love to help, but before doing so he needs to ask some questions. What will you use the money for? How can I be sure you won't use it for the wrong purpose? How will your business grow from it? After hearing his answers and being satisfied with them, the rich man writes him a check for the amount he requested.

Six months later the rich man calls the poor man and asks him how business is, and if he ready to repay the loan. "Baruch Hashem business is great and I have the funds to pay back the loan as agreed", replies the borrowers. "However" he adds, "before writing you a check I have a few questions to ask you. What will you do with the money..."

This is almost laughable! When you give someone something out of the generosity of your heart you can ask all the questions you want. But when you give something to someone that you owe him and it belongs to him, you don't ask any questions.

Kavod is not a treat you give your friend based on the generous spirit in your heart. You owe everyone Kavod! Everyone is a Tzelem Elokim and the Kavod is theirs. So when you pay your dues, don't be so brazen to start asking too many questions. Give it to them with a smile and move on!

Thu, 28 Jan 2016 03:00:00 -0800
Shiduchim, One of Life's Hardest Tasks

Marrying off your children is probably one of the greatest challenges a person goes through in this world. If you live in Eretz Yisroel and are looking for a top learning boy, it will require astronomical sums by any standards and certainly for the average member of the frum community in Eretz Yisroel, even if they are working baalei batim. Most people are lucky to earn enough to get through the month. Even if one can save, how much can they possibly save? This is the hurdle after the engagement, and of course there are no shortage of hardships and challenges finding a the right boy and getting everyone to say yes.

But that is not it! That is not the aspect of Shidduchim that is actually difficult. That is the easy part, since it really has nothing to do with us. This is Hashem's job. "Hakosh Baruch Hu Yosheiv U'Mizaveg Zivugim." Parnasa is not in our hands either, it comes from Hashem.

So what makes Shiduchim so difficult then? Aren't we on this world to be challenged and to grow? Why does Hashem make Shiduchim such an energy spending force in our best years? Why distract us from working on true growth? The answer is that Shiduchim poses great challenges to us, as one of life's most important missions is to develop emunah, to understand that we are not in control. Marrying off children is the perfect vehicle for Hashem to teach us this lesson. Only the most arrogant can come out of it still believing that their destiny, and the destiny of their children, is in their own hands. The lesson is not only learned on the way to the Chupah, but continues to reverberate for years afterwards, as you deal with your young couple and your Michutanim whom you were sure you checked out down to the last T. The lessons in emunah taught through this process can't be learned anywhere else.

When a younger person starting shidduchim for their kids asks an older person how he managed to marry off children, the answer is always the same. "Don't ask me how I managed. I did it somehow, but unfortunately, what happened with me is a crazy story and it is not relevant to you." Someone once asked Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman why don't see open miracles in our day. He responded by looking around the room and asking, "Has anyone here ever married off a daughter?" No one needed to raise their hand, his point was self understood!

Kasheh Zivugan Shel Adam K'Krias Yam Suf. Kashem Parnasa Shel Adam K'Krias Yam Suf. Splitting the sea, marrying off children, and earning a living are all so hard. Yes indeed it is hard to see bleakness before your eyes with no earthly way out, yet somehow believe in a Hashem who you cannot see or hear, who can't in your mind be smart enough to figure it all out, when you know you are at a dead end with no solution in sight.

No one escapes the challenge of Shiduchim. For those who have already bought into this reality it is an exercise to push them to their limits as they give their guts, and sweat out the long uphill road to its successful happy conclusion. For others it becomes a road littered with painful lessons, twisting and turning their world from side to side, as they endure hardship and bewilderment at every turn, until they too come to accept the truth that awaits them at the end of the road. Either way it's a road you have no choice but to travel, and it will take you to a beautiful place.

Hatzalacha & Besoros Tovos!

Sun, 17 Jan 2016 03:00:00 -0800
Rav Binyomin Finkel: Zchus Avos, Zchus Banim, A World Apart

Upon making a Shiva visit to the young orphans of a Chashuveh Rov, the scion of a prominent Rabbinic family who tragically passed away at a young age, the Tzaddik Rav Binyomin Finkel conveyed to them the following thought.

In this world, children of prominent people often get away with many things that other people do not get away with. They get a free pass on their father's coattails. This concept is called Zchus Avos, the prestige of the father covers over the wrongdoing of their children. But that is only in this world.

In the next world when a person comes before the Heavenly throne for judgement and is found lacking, if he dare argue that his father was a great tzaddik it will only incriminate him further. How can the son of a tzaddik, who should know better, act improperly?!

In the Olam HaEmes what carries weight is Zechus Banim, the merit that a father earns from the Mitzvos and Maasim Tovim of his child. Every mitzva a son does, elevates his father higher in Gan Eden, as he has a stake in all of his son's actions, since he raised him.

As we near the end of the Galus, and B'ezras Hashem we will merit Techiyas HaMeisim very soon, orphans will be united once more with their dearly departed parent. When father and son meet again, the father who was elevated in Gan Eden thanks to his son will embrace his son with tears of joy, while the son who disappointed his father and caused him pain in heaven will not be able to face his father.

Thu, 14 Jan 2016 03:00:00 -0800
Language From Mitzrayim all the way to Yeshivishe Talk

Chazal tell us that one of the reasons Bnei Yisroel merited to be taken out of Mitzrayim was that they did not change their language. What, however, was that language? The Otzar Pilaos HaTorah discusses this at length and brings various opinions.

The Maharsha in Megila 3a says that in Mitzrayim Bnei Yisroel spoke Aramaic, their mother tongue that was their inheritance from their youth spent in the home of their grandfather Lavan HaArami. Yet in Sanhedrin 21b the Maharsha says that they spoke Lashon HaKodesh and not Aramaic. Rav Yaakov Emden explains that Avraham spoke two languages, Lashon Kodesh when he spoke Devarim Shel Kedusha, and Aramaic for any mundane conversation that he needed to have. This dichotomy was followed by Bnei Yisroel in Mitztrayim, who did not change this custom and did not change their language to Egyptian. This would explain the Maharsha.

The Meor VaShemesh says that Bnei Yisroel did speak Egyptian in Mitzrayim, however they did not speak the foul language of the Mitzrim, and thus kept their language Holy.

The Chasam Sofer (Parshas Naso) says that when Chazal say "Devarim Hayotzim Min HaLev Nichanasim El HaLev", words that emanate from the heart have the ability to penetrate the heart, it refers only to Lashon HaKodesh. No other language has that ability to penetrate a heart. Nevertheless the Lev Ivri (on the Tzava'a of the Chasam Sofer) writes that this applies to Yiddish or any other language adopted specifically by the Jews. He adds that although the Arizal would not speak Divrei Chol on Shabbos, he would speak Divrei Torah in the adopted language of his time.

To corroborate this, the Chasam Sofer himself in his Drashos praises the Jews of Russia and Poland whom hundreds of years after being expelled from Germany, still spoke Yiddish and did not pick up the local language.

From these opinions we see that there are three aspects of language. First the intrinsic kedusha itself. Second, as a tool to keep ourselves separate and apart from the other nations. Third to keep it clean. May we be zoche for Chazal to say on us one day,that we brought the Geula because we did not change our language!

Tue, 12 Jan 2016 03:00:00 -0800
Nishmas Kol Chai: Sustaining Us Through a Bull Market

Shabbos morning we say the moving piece, Nishmas, where our hearts burst forth in appreciation for all Hashem does for us. Among other things, we thank Hashem for feeding us through famine, saving us from the sword, sparing us from plague and disease. Curiously we thank Hashem that "B'Sava Kikaltanu", for supporting us during times of abundance. Feeding us in times of recession is truly something to be thankful for, but how does sustaining us during boom times rival that?

A businessman was once on the way to the most important meeting of his life. The meeting was to be held in a fancy hotel in the middle of Manhattan. He knew parking would be a problem. He silently prayed during the entire drive that Hashem would help him find a parking spot and not cause him to be delayed. Just as he nervously pulled onto the block of the hotel, a parked car moved out of the spot directly opposite the hotel. As he triumphantly maneuvered his car into this premium spot, he looked up to Hashem and said thanks for Your ear, but I already found a spot myself!

Earning a living is gift from Hashem, even in times of prosperity. Each individual has his own fate and destiny, no matter how high the stock market rises. One must be thankful to Hashem for only he provides us with sustenance even in the best of times. If you don't believe me, surely you can ask the unfortunate, to whom the good times have totally passed them by.

No matter your plight and no matter the economic outlook, a Jew must always be thankful Bira'av Zantanu U'BiSava Kilkatanu!

Mon, 11 Jan 2016 03:00:00 -0800
Revach Tours Now in Eretz Yisrael!

Revach L'Neshama is proud to announce that we have started offerring tours in Eretz Yisroel. If you'd like to see the sites through the eyes of Revach, and have a great time doing so, join us on our enlightening, inspiring, fun and adventurous tours. Currently you can select from 8 different tours covering the entire country, including the Old CityGalilGolanMidbar YehudaNegevShfelaNew Yerushalayim, and the Mediteranean Coastal Cities. We always have more surprises up our sleeve.

See more details on our new site Revach Tours. Contact us for more details or any questions. We can also help you find the perfect Israel vacation apartment in Yerushalyim & Tzfas  as well as provide world class Shabbos and weekday food during your stay. And if you are bringing your Bar Mitzvah boy we can help you plan a truly memorable trip!

Wed, 11 Nov 2015 03:00:00 -0800
Kiddush on Shabbos: Forgetting the Wine During your Bracha Achrona If one drinks the shiur of wine during kiddush and then eats cake, the bracha achrona is Al HaMichya while adding Al HaGefen as well. What happens if he makes an Al HaMichya and forgets about the wine, must he make a separate Al HaGefen?

Rav Moshe Shternbuch (Tshuvos V'Hanhagos 2:147) says that the Be'er Heitev (OC 208:23) says that if you drink wine and make an Al HaMichya, it suffices for the wine as well, even if you didn't say Al HaGefen. This however is when you were aware you drank wine and mistakenly said the wrong Bracha Achrona. But if you forgot you drank wine, would Al Hamichya on cake suffice for the wine as well?

He says this is a machlokes between Hagr"i Zilberman and Rav Eliyahu Rom. In a similar case where someone makes a Borei Pri Ho'adama on a fruit, he is only yotzei if he clearly meant to make the Hoadama on the fruit he planned on eating. However says Rav Shternbuch this case is different since a Bracha Rishona goes on the food you intend to eat whereas Bracha Achrona goes on everything you have eaten, so specific intent is not necessary.

Rav Shternbuch says however that it seems from the Mishna Brura that even for Bracha Achrona you need to have in mind which food you are making the bracha on. The Piskei Tshuvos brings that most poskim hold like the Pri Megadim that you don't need to say Al HaGefen again, and you are yotzei with Al HaMichya. He adds that even if you only remember at the end, in the Chasima, it is good to end by saying Al HaMichya V'Al Pri HaGefen, even though you didn't mention Gefen in the body of Al HaMichya itself.

Important Note: We bring this tshuvah as a starting point for discussion and not to convey any halacha. We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. One should learn the tshuva to verify the accuracy of our interpretation. Please understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.

Wed, 16 Sep 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Parshas Bahaloscha: Chizkuni - Shevet Levi, A Family Tradition of Excellence

Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu to designate Shevet Levi for Avodah in the Bais HaMikdash. The pasuk (Bahaloscha 8:19) then says, "ולא יהיה בבני ישראל נגף בגשת בני ישראל אל הקודש", so that a death will not spread when the Bnei Yisroel approaches the Mishkan. Rabbeinu Bachaye and other Meforshim explain that the Levi'im will act as guards not allowing Bnei Yisroel to come too close, because a Zar who comes close will die.

The Chizkuni takes a unique approach in explaining this pasuk. He says that before Levi was designated as the overseers of the Avodas HaMishkan, the natural choice was the Bechorim. However, says the Chizkuni, that presents a problem. Since a bechor can be the son of a non-bechor and the grandson of a non-bechor, he would have no family tradition regarding the avodah. This can cause him to do the avodah in an improper way that would make him liable to death.

Because of this, Hashem in His mercy, designated a Shevet to be in charge of the avodah so that they would have a long and rich tradition of avodah, ingraining it in their family genes for generations, thus saving many casualties in this highly sensitive and dangerous workplace!

Sun, 31 May 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Parshas Naso: Kli Yakar - The Explosion of the Sotah's Stomach

If the Sotah is guilty of the crime she was accused of by her husband, then after drinking the Mei Sotah her stomach explodes. Why is this so?

The Kli Yakar answers that the Mei Sotah was very holy water. The water itself comes from the Kiyor in the Bais HaMikdash that is used by the Kohanim to purify themselves before Avodah, while the main additive is the Name of Hashem that is erased into the water. As this water is so holy, says the Kli Yakar, surely it is not fit to travel through the organs of intimacy in the usual manner that water is passed out of the human body. Since it is trapped inside the Sotah's body, her stomach blows up and then explodes.

However if the Sotah is innocent, and has been completely faithful in her relationships, then she reverts back to the Kedusha of Adam HaRishon before he sinned. At that juncture all the organs and limbs were holy and there was no shame, which is why they did not have clothing. That being the case, the holy Mei Sotah flowed right through her system and out.

Maybe this also explains why the innocent Sotah is blessed with children if she is still childless, or healthier and stronger children if she already has children. Since the Mei Sotah is pure Kedusha, it cures any of the woman's internal physical imperfections that it passes along its route out the body, and paves the way for beautiful, healthy, and holy children.

Thu, 28 May 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Rav Moshe Feinstein & The Shoel U'Maishiv: When You are Chazzan in a Shul with a Different Nusach

If you are Nusach Sefard or Sefardi and are Chazan in an Ashkenaz minyan, or vice versa, as Shaliach Tzibbur you must daven the Nusach of the Shul you are davening in. But what about the quiet Shmoneh Esrei where no one hears and it strictly for yourself? Must you also daven that Tefila in the foreign Nusach of the Shul?

The Shearim Mitzuyanim B'Halacha brings from Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 2:29) that you must say the quiet Shmoneh Esrei in the Nusach that you will say Chazaras HaShatz. This he bases on the Mogen Avrohom who says that the Chazan's quiet Shmoneh Esrei is to prepare for Chazaras HaShatz, and if he says it in a different Nusach then he will get mixed up during Chazaras HaShatz. The Shearim Mitzuyanim B'Halacha questions this, since the Rema says that if a Chazan daven from a Siddur he need not prepare the davening beforehand since he can look in and follow. Even the Mogen Avrohom himself says in two places that when davening from a Siddur the Chazan will not make mistakes.

The Shoel U'Meishiv and Netziv both pasken that during the quiet Shmoneh Esrei a person is always obligated to daven his own Nusach regardless of the Nusach he will repeat during Chazaras HaShatz. Furthermore says the Shearim Mitzuyanim B'Halacha, even if the Chazan were to say a few word from the wrong Nusach during Chazaras HaShatz, his Shmoneh Esrei is still valid since the Nusach is not brought down in the Gemara. Additionally he says that Chazaras HaShatz for the past few hundred years is only a Minhag and no one is Yotzei with it anyway.

Important Note: We bring this tshuvah as a starting point for discussion and not to convey any halacha. We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. One should learn the tshuva to verify the accuracy of our interpretation. Please understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.

Sun, 10 May 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Kli Yakar - Isn't Shavuos The Day of Kabalas HaTorah?

In Parshas Emor when the Torah discusses the Yom Tov of Shavuos, it makes no mention at all that we are celebrating the day that we received the Torah. All it talks about is the completion of the Sefira and the special Korban we bring that day. Why is this, asks the Kli Yakar?

He answers that Chazal tell us that Kabalas HaTorah should be daily event. Each day we should open up our Gemara, and we should learn with the enthusiasm of receiving a present for the first time and playing with it, "כאילו אותו היום קיבלה מהר סיני", as if that day we received it from Har Sinai.

The Kli Yakar says that although the Torah doesn't talk about Kabbalas HaTorah explicitly, the entire Korban of the day is all about this concept of Kabalas HaTorah. The Torah refers to the Korban Shtei HaLechem as "Mincha Chadasha", a new present, referring to the idea that the Torah is to be regarded as a new present each day.

Furthermore, says the Kli Yakar, although Chametz represents the Yetzer Hara, the Shtei HaLechem is made of Chametz. The reason is that when Moshe wanted to bring the Torah down to Am Yisroel, the Malachim did not let him. Moshe's winning argument was that since the Torah is the antidote to the Yetzer Hara as Chazal say, "בראתי יצר הרע בראתי לו תבלין", I created a Yetzer Hara and I created a remedy to protect people, therefore the place for the Torah is in this world where the Yetzer roams free, and not in Shamayim which is totally pure. So in essence, says the Kli Yakar, by not referring to Kabbalas HaTorah on Shavuos, the Torah is imbuing in us the real Kabalas HaTorah and the purpose of Kabbalas HaTorah.

Wed, 29 Apr 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Reb Elchonon Wasserman Insists on Door to Door Service

While in New York fundraising, Reb Elchonon Wasserman's host offered to give him a ride to his meeting in Mid-Manhattan. Although Reb Elchonon was not one to take favors at the expense of others, he agreed, since the host also needed to go the vicinity of Reb Elchonon's destination.

As they got close to the building where Reb Elchonon's meeting was to take place, the host pointed out the building, and suggested that Reb Elchonon get off at the corner since the building was very close and the traffic situation made it not really worthwhile to go around the block.

Reb Elchonon politely told the driver that he should take him around the block to the front door. The driver was quite taken aback at this shocking out of character demand of the noble and gracious figure that he knew Reb Elchonon to be. Reb Elchonon explained to him the Chazal tell us, "המתחיל במצוה אומרים לו גמור", when someone starts a mitzva we tell him to finish. Chazal, explained Reb Elchonon, were not only talking to the person who started the mitzva but also to the people around him as well. Chazal said that there is an obligation to "tell him to complete it". Despite running contrary to Reb Elchonon's personal nature, Reb Elchonon forced himself to fulfill his own personal obligation by telling the driver to finish his mitzva!

Important Note: Stories are not checked for factual accuracy and are told as heard and remembered through the generations. It is the lesson that can be learned from the stories that we strive to pass on.

Wed, 29 Apr 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Rav Zalman Sorotzkin - The Hardest Challenge in Chinuch, When Everyone Does It!

Parshas Emor begins with the prohibition of Kohanim to defile themselves to a dead body. Hashem tells this to Moshe in a unusual language, first saying "אמור אל הכוהנים", say to the Kohanim, and then once again, "ואמרת אליהם" say to them. Rashi says this redundant language is to tell the Kohanim that they must watch over their children as well. This rule of Chinuch applies to all Mitzvos in the Torah, so why does the Torah teach this to us specifically by the mitzva of Tumas Kohanim?

It is said over in the name of Rav Zalman Sorotzkin that Chinuch is not a difficult task. When a parent teaches a child right from wrong, it becomes quite obvious to the child that we are special people and we should not act like the non-Jews who have no boundaries. For whom is Chinich truly difficult? For the Kohanim. Why? Every parent has heard, when trying to teach his child right from wrong, something to the effect of, "But so and so's father lets him do it, and his father is a Rosh Yeshiva!"

For the Kohanim the task of Chinuch is very difficult. The Kohen is telling his child that he cannot do things that are permitted for the other children in his class. If being in the same room as a dead body is so defiling, how is it that best boys in his class can do it and it doesn't affect them in any negative way?

Here also the Torah commands us that even when the child has a hard time grasping the concept, we must still teach our children right from wrong. And moreover since they do not understand, it is incumbent upon us as parents to guard them even more carefully.

Sat, 25 Apr 2015 03:00:00 -0700
The Paradox of Rewarding Torah Study

In the first parsha of Shema it says that you must love Hashem, "בכל לבבך ובל נפשך ובכל מאודך", with all your heart, soul, and your physical possessions. In the second parsha it say you must love Hashem, בכל לבבכם ובכל נפשכם", omitting the requirement to love Hashem with your possessions. Why?

Rav Mattisyahu Solomon in his Sefer on the 48 Kinyanei HaTorah explains, that a central aspect of acquiring Torah She Baal Peh is limiting ones pleasures in this world, including sleep, food, and even business. Indulging in worldly pleasures is a contradiction to acquiring Torah, which is only acquired through toil and deprivation.

Therefore says the Medrash Tanchuma (Noach 2), the first parsha of Shema which refers to learning Torah SheBaal Peh, as it says "the words that I command you should be in your heart", requires that you sacrifice your possessions. However, the second parsha is referring to keeping the other mitzvos, and to accomplish that one need not in principle sacrifice his worldly possessions. All that is required is heart and soul.

Furthermore this why the second parsha talks about earthly rewards, while the first parsha does not, for these rewards would thwart further growth in Torah. The reward for learning Torah can only be paid in divine pleasures and is reserved for Olam Haba!

Tue, 21 Apr 2015 03:00:00 -0700
The Donkey and the Dirt

A man came to his Rebbe crying that his donkey fell into a pit and he didn't know what to do. "Why don't you lift it out with a rope", asked the Rebbe. "Because it is too heavy", answered the Chosid. "Why don't you ask some of the townspeople to help", asked the Rebbe. "They are too busy or not interested", sighed the Chosid. In that case, said the Rebbe, this is what you should do. Take a bucket and keep filling it with dirt and keep pouring it into the pit. The Chosid was a bit despondent that his Rebbe had given up on his donkey and was telling him to bury it alive, but if that is what the Rebbe said, that is what would do.

The Chosid went home and filled up an old bucket with dirt and poured it into the pit. From down below he heard the donkey let out a shrilling bray and jump up and down wildly. The sound and thought of his poor donkey made him distraught, but with no other choice, other than to listen to the Rebbe, he again filled up a bucket and the scene repeated itself. After the fourth bucketfull all was quiet and he didn't hear any noise. "My poor donkey must be buried already", sighed the Chosid. Regardless, he carried on through the afternoon pouring bucket after bucket for hours.

Suddenly towards the evening as he poured a bucket, he again heard the shrilling bray of his beloved donkey and then he heard a wild jump, and poof, in a cloud of dirt the donkey suddenly appeared on the edge of the pit! The ecstatic Chosid's happiness knew no bounds. "Tell me", said the Chosid to the donkey, "what happened"? I thought you were dead and buried hours ago when I no longer heard you making any noise!"

The donkey turned to the Chosid and explained. At first when the dirt was thrown on me it was uncomfortable and insulting, and I was furious. But then I realized that if I shake it off and pat it down, I can lift myself higher, getting closer to the entrance of the pit. So with each bucket you poured on me I slowly lifted myself. After each time I prayed that you'd throw more dirt on me so that I can get out of my dark grave.

Our initial instinct when someone heaves dirt upon us, or if life seems to go wrong, is to scream and yell and try to shake it off. But the smart donkeys among us will realize that the source of the dirt is our loving Master, and if we use it wisely we can lift ourselves up from the deep hole we dug for ourselves. But if we don't get it, and instead sulk in insult, it will very quickly turn into our burial grounds.

Wed, 15 Apr 2015 03:00:00 -0700
The Secret of Two Candles To Good Children

The gemara (Shabbos 23b) says, "הרגיל בנר הווין ליה בנים תלמידי חכמים". One who religiously fulfills the mitzva of the candles will merit children who are Talmidei Chachomim. Rashi says "Ner" means Ner Shabbos and Ner Chanukah. What is the connection between these Neiros and good children?

Rav Avrohom Abba Weingart (Gachalei Eish on Hagadas Sridei Eish) explains that Ner Shabbos and Ner Chanukah come to address two fundamental different issues. Ner Shabbos is the symbol of Shalom Bayis. It represents a person's attitude and behavior behind the closed doors of his private life. How much light he shines in his own home speaks volumes of his behavior when he is not on the public stage and drops his guard. Ner Chanukah on the other hand is all about Pirsumei Nisa, the face that one shows to the public.

In order for a person to properly raise his children, he must radiate both these two faces. If he puts on a righteous public demeanor, yet doesn't live up to it in his own home, while he may fool himself and the whole world, his children will not be fooled. On the other hand if he acts as a true Ben Torah in his own home, but in public he is embarrassed to show his true face and adapts himself to the level of society around him, his children will get the impression that the Torah lifestyle is something to be ashamed of, and will not choose it as their own path in life.

With these two lights, the light of Shabbos which is the light of a fine home, as well as the light of Chanukah which proudly projects its own light onto a dark world, one is assured that his children will grow to be true Bnei Torah and exemplary Jews.

Sun, 05 Apr 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz - A Measure of Comfort in Real Poverty

Dovid HaMelech says in Tehilim (119:49), זאת נחמתי מעניי כי אמרתך חיתני, this is my comfort in my poverty for your words keep me alive. This seems to imply that wealth is the goal in life, and Dovid HaMelech is consoling himself that at least he has Torah. If a person has Torah and lives in poverty does he need comfort? On the contrary, maybe a wealthy person who has no Torah can comfort himself that at least he has material comforts in this world if not the next. What is Dovid HaMelech trying to teach us here?

The famed Mekubal Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz says that we can explain B'Derech Remez that Dovid HaMelech is teaching us a valuable lesson about our need to keep learning at some level no matter our situation in life. He explains that in fact עניי in this case refers to poverty in Torah, as the gemara Nedarim (41a) says, "אין עני אלא בדעה" a poor person is one who is lacking knowledge and wisdom. During difficult times, he says, a person must keep learning even if his learning is not on the level it was during his better days. A person who goes out to work and cannot plumb the depths of the Talmud can still learn each day on some level. Or even a Yeshiva who has a difficult day and is forced to be outside Yeshiva can still pick up a sefer and learn something. Moreover even a person who does not have the intellect, the experience, or the fortitude to learn in depth, can and must learn Torah on his own level.

This is what Dovid is teaching us. Dovid uses the word אמרתך as opposed to לימודתך, your words as opposed to your teachings. Even if a person is only capable of a poor shallow reading of the gemara as opposed to toiling over its intricacies, still the words of Hashem's Torah bring him comfort and can carry him over until the good days return once more.

Maybe we can add that this is the meaning of the following pasuk as well. זדים הליצוני עד מאוד, the wicked and haughty ones will laugh at my low level of learning, yet מתורתך לא נטיתי, from your Torah, at any level, I will not stray. For Torah is close to my heart, as it is my connection with you, and not a crown to glorify myself with. Even if it means that when I learn people will laugh!

Sun, 05 Apr 2015 03:00:00 -0700