Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Today's Revach Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Sat, 28 Nov 2015 03:00:00 -0800 240 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
Rav Meir Shapira - Blaming All The Jews The gemara Yevamos (61a) says "אתם קרויים אדם ואין עכו"ם קרויים אדם", only a Yehudi is called "Adam" and not a non-Jew. Why is this? Are non-Jews not people?

Rav Moshe Shternbuch says that the gemara is not focusing on the term "Adam" but rather the word "Atem", the plural form of "you". The whole Klal Yisroel together is called "Adam", a single individual made up of many parts. We may be spread around the entire globe but we still remain one. Non-Jews do not have this intrinsic unity. Even among a single nation living together, the pain of one does not evoke a cry from another. The plural word for a many Jews remains Adam, a single Jew, while the plural term for many Jews is no longer the singular Adam but rather the plural form Anashin, many people.

Rav Shternbuch cynically says in the name of Rav Meir Shapira that even the non-Jews apply this principle. When a single errant Jew commits any crime, "the Jews" are to blame. However even when many non-Jews of the same persuasion commit a string of atrocities, no one would dare blame their entire ethnic group. Each crime is considered an isolated incident and the person is judged only as an individual and not as a member or product of their upbringing or associations.

Thu, 19 Mar 2015 03:00:00 -0700
We Will All Be Robbed One Day

There is a famous story about a professor who gets up in front of his class with a big empty jar. He fills it to the top with a couple of large rocks. He then asks the class if the jar is full and they all respond affirmatively. He then takes out a bag of pebbles and pours it in and the same scene repeats itself. He then pours in sand with same result. Only after finally pouring water into the jar is the professor satisfied that the jar is full.

Let's borrow this parable in a negative way. If someone loses his job and ends up using all his savings, he will tell you that he is broke. If that night burglars break into his house and steal all his valuable jewelry and silver, he will then realize that he wasn't really broke since he had valuables worth a small fortune, and only now is he truly penniless. If the next week a fire breaks out and consumes his home with all its contents including furniture and clothing, while standing bereft of everything in the street as the fire man pour water on the charred remains of his home, he will realize that yesterday he was rich and only now he has absolutely nothing.

But I ask you, is he correct? Not even close! Why? What possibly could be next? When a person dies his soul, his essence will stand outside the physical world and peer down longing for the only home, the only existence it is familiar with. His neshama will desperately try to re-enter his dead corpse, for how else can it function. It will hover over his home, for where else can he go. But it will all be to no avail. All things physical have been taken from him and he is powerless to participate in this world anymore. The physical world is no longer his oyster. His body which was given to him on loan has been taken back. Just like someone whose home was robbed, he will literally turn over heaven and earth to catch those responsible and have all that was his returned to him, but obviously to no avail.

Sometimes when we go through the bumps in life we wonder why it is all worth it. We lose our lust for life, as happiness fades far into the rear view mirror. But all that is quite narrow minded for we still possess the greatest possession of them all. Any given moment is a grand opportunity to celebrate life itself. So make the best of every minute, for it would be a shame to only reflect on it when it is too late.

Wed, 18 Mar 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Rav Aharon Kotler - Hashem Looked in The Torah and Created... Fingers!

The gemara in Kesubos (5b) asks why did Hashem create man with hands that are split into fingers? The gemara answers that the pinky is to measure the correct size of the Choshen Mishpat. The ring finger is to perform Kemitza on a Korban Mincha. The index finger to measure Amos in the Bais HaMikdash. The pointer to wipe the blood of a Korban Chatos on the Mizbei'ach. Lastly the thumb is for the Mitzora to complete the process of his Tahara.

Is the gemara's question to be taken at face value or is there some mystical riddle hidden in this engmatic question? Without fingers we couldn't do anything in this world. We wouldn't be able to live or do any mitzvos, so what is the gemara's intention?

Rav Aharon Kotler (MiShulchan Gavoa - Parshas Vayikra) says that indeed the gemara meant, what it asked and what it answered, quite literally. "Histakel B'Oiraisa U'Bara Alma", Hashem looked in the Torah and created the world. Our existence in the world through the work of our hands is simply the product of having fingers for the mitzvos the gemara mentioned. Had we not needed a pinky for the Kohen's Choshen Hashem would have made the dynamics of the world in a completely different manner to conform to the limbs that the mitzvos require.

For example we don't need cloting to keep us warm anymore than the animals. We need clothing to wear Tzitzis and to avoid Shatnez. Nothing that we see in nature needs to be that way. Hashem is far more creative than that and, it is only the Torah that dictates every detail.

We have a tendency to see the world upside down, confusing the objective with the incidental. The nature of the world is so ingrained in us that it is hard to accept the truth of something as simple as the shape and size of our fingers. May Hashem bless us with Sechel HaYashar and let us see His world the way He made it!

Mon, 16 Mar 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Sefer HaChinuch - What Does Killing an Animal Do For Us?

To bring a Korban is considered the pinnacle of Avodas Hashem in this world. The word Korban is from the word Karov, as it brings us close to Hashem. Tefila, which is one of the three pillars of the world, is merely a replacement for Korbanos now that the Bais HaMikdash is not standing. What is it about animal slaughter that has this incredible spiritual effect? Since when does Hashem desire us to engage in violent and bloody activity?

The Sefer HaChinuch explains that the only thing separating us from animals is our intelligence. Other than that we are both physical beings that like to indulge in worldly pleasures. A human is meant to use his intelligence to serve Hashem, and when we go astray it is because we have ignored our intelligence and acted like an animal.

Our intellect is eternal and will always remain, long after our physical bodies have expired and become part of the dust of the earth. When we do an aveira we need a reminder of this lesson. We take an animal, which represents our mortal half, and burn it to remind us that it is pointless to serve our physical half. We would be wise to concentrate our efforts on our intellect, the part that makes us unique and eternal.

As our intellect is a Cheilek Elokai MiMaal, a spark from Hashem, when we choose our intellect over our bodies we are by definition becoming closer to Hashem. That is the definition of a Korban.

Sun, 15 Mar 2015 03:00:00 -0700
Rav Yeruchom: When Accepting The Torah Became a Matter of Life of Death

The gemara (Shabbos 87a) tells us, "SheKafa Aleihem Hakadosh Baruch Hu Es HaHar K'Gigis". At Har Sinai Hashem held the mountain over Bnei Yisroel and told us that if we accept the Torah all will be well, but if we don't then we will die. Why was this necessary given that a few days earlier we all jubilantly proclaimed in unison Naaseh V'nishma?

Rav Yeruchom Levovitz (Maamarim Mishpatim) explains as follows. We know that there are levels of creation; inadamate objects, things that grow, living creatures, and humans who speak. Each one is a step above the one below. What happens when the creation fails to live up to its level? If a flower stops growing it does not become inadamate, rather it dies and disintegrates. The same goes for an animal that is no longer alive. It doesn't continue to grow, nor does it remain in its same state, it decomposes.

Klal Yisroel is in a class apart from the rest of humanity, as we are a creation called "Yisroel". Yisroel is defined as Hashem's people, the people who live by the Torah. The ramification of this is that as soon as we stop living by the Torah we don't lose our status as Yisroel and become just another human being. That is not the way it works. Rather we slowly disintegrate into a nothing.

After Bnei Yisroel joyfully accepted the Torah, Hashem taught us this crucial lesson. As Torah Jews we must live by the Torah for without it we lose our entire purpose and being. We don't have an option to give up our uniqueness and live like the rest of humanity. Relinquishing our status of Yisroel is tantamount to forfeiting existence itself.

Fri, 06 Feb 2015 03:00:00 -0800
True Bitachon: What Tuesday Parshas HaMan Reveals in Us Judging from the amount of email reminders each one of us received today reminding us about the supposed segula of saying Parsha HaMan on Tuesday of Parshas Bishalach it seem like many people feel that saying Parshas HaMan is like picking up a check in the bank. They cling to it, believing it to be the source of their income. Whether this attitude is correct or not is not the subject of this article but there is a great lesson to be learned in what real bitachon is about.

The Medrash tells us that when Hashem commanded a trapped Bnei Yisroel to go into the raging sea everyone stood at the edge scared to go in. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz asks how is it that the children of Avrohom who were imbued with a a willingness to sacrifice their lives in Hashem's honor, were suddenly hesitant to listen to His clear command?

He answers that Yitzchok's command was to die Al Kiddush Hashem, whereas at the Yam Suf Hashem did not ask Bnei Yisroel to drown themselves in the Yam, on the contrary, He told them to go into the Yam and walk on the Cherava, the dry land. He demanded not a sacrifice but unequivocal belief in His ability to totally change nature on a moments notice. Until Nachshon ben Aminadav jumped in, no one was capable of putting their foot in the water with one hundred percent belief that they were going onto dry land.

In our job and our lives there are times where Halacha or Hashkafa seem to stand in the way of our parnassa. There are many fine people that past these tests and do not submit to there fears and desires. They are willing to sacrifice their jobs and careers not to violate Hashem's will.

Yet there is a much higher level of bitachon, the belief in the word of Hashem. The belief that following the Torah guidelines does not conflict with our ability to earn parnassa but rather advances it, even if it doesn't look quite that way. The belief that the Torah created the world and is the secret to success in nature not in spite of it. V'Chai Bahem says the pasuk, Torah gives life! Im Shamoa Tishma, if you heed my command, you will be blessed with an abundant crop. Hahsem promises real Gashmiyus!

Our belief in Parshas HaMan shows us that we are capable in believing in the Divine as a fact of life. Our challenge is to believe in more basic desires of Hashem. We need to express this same belief when putting borders on our work, knowing when to start and when to stop. Knowing when to learn and when to daven and when to spend time with our family. Knowing which business practices to accept and which to reject, even if it looks like we can turn a quick profit. We need to do these things as a business strategy, believing full well that the business rules that the Torah teaches are far more effective than what they teach in the best universities. That is called V'Chai Bahem. That is Mesirus Nefesh as we learned it at Krias Yam Suf.

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 03:00:00 -0800
Finding Our Own Parking Spot - The Miracle of the Eighth Night

If the Nes of Chanuka was that each time they filled the Menorah the oil remained, then why do we celebrate the eighth night, since on the Eighth night the Menorah was filled and the oil didn't remain, as the new oil was set to arrive the next day?

Maybe we can answer with a very real Mashal. Once a fellow was on his way to an important meeting that he had waited months for. Parking in the area was very difficult and since he didn't have much time to spare, he spent the entire trip nervously davening to Hashem to help him find a parking spot right away. As he pulled up in front of the hotel where his meeting was set, another car pulled out of the spot right near the hotel. At that point he looked up to Hashem and said, thanks Hashem but I just found one myself so you don't need to bother.

The first seven nights it was clearly the hand of Hashem that miraculously allowed them to light the Menorah. On the last night they could have been lulled into a false sense of "now we have it under control", when in truth even the last night was all Hashem's doing. On the last night they celebrated "Nissim B'Chol Yom", the Nes that they had oil at all, the Nes that the people who went to bring oil succeeded in their mission, the Nes of every breath we take, and the Nes of every drop of goodness that Hashem blesses us with.

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 03:00:00 -0800
The Day Our Suffering Will End

Mi She'amar L'Olamo Dai Yomar L"Tzaraseinu Dai. He who said to His world enough should say to our pain enough. What does it mean that Hashem says to His world enough, and how is that connected to our suffering?

Olam is like the word Haalem which means hidden. The definition and essence of the world is the hiding place of Hashem. Hashem created our world to challenge us to recognize Him even in the randomness of nature and the apparent unabated evil acts that are perpetrated daily without Divine reprisal.

The gemara in Pesachim (50a) says that in this world we make two brachos, one bracha on good, HaTov V'HaMeitiv and one bracha for bad, Dayan HaEmes. However says the gemara, in the next world there is only one bracha since we will have the ability to recognize the goodness in everything. What the gemara is saying is that even in this world everything is good but we don't have the ability to recognize it, for Hashem hides it from us. Even people with steadfast Emuna that accept Hashem's decree and believe that it's good, still suffer and therefore must say Dayan HaEmes. That is the nature of our world.

In other words our pain is, simply put, a lack of understanding, for if we understood the reason for the seemingly bad things that happen to us we would thank Hashem for they are always good. When will we understand? Only when Hashem reveals Himself to the world and says to His Olam, His hiddeness, Dai enough.  Only then will our Tzoros be behind us forever.

Tue, 25 Nov 2014 03:00:00 -0800
Btzel HaChochma - Other People's Mitzva, Can You Eat First?

Before doing a mitzva such as Bedikas Chometz or Bris Mila you may not eat, since Chazal were concerned that due to the eating you will not end up doing the mitzva. What if you have already done the mitzva and have promised to do it for someone else, are you permitted to eat first?

Rav Betzalel Stern (Btzel HaChochma 4:60) says that you are permitted if it is not your own personal mitzva. He gives two reasons. First, since someone else may also do the mitzva and your mishap is not fatal, Chazal did not forbid eating. Moroever even in a case where it is a Bris Mila and you are the only Mohel in town, even so says Rav Stern, for those rare cases Chazal did not institute the prohibition.

Secondly, says Rav Stern, if we were to forbid someone doing a mitzva for another person from eating, he may not agree to do the mitzva and therefore this prohibition would be counterproductive. He brings an example of Chazal not placing burdens upon those doing other people's mitzva from Mezuza. Although a person should check his mezuza twice every seven years (Shmita), a mezuza in a public place need only be checked twice in fifty years (Yovel).

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.

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 03:00:00 -0800
Parshas Vayeitzei: Rabbeinu Bachaye - It All Starts From Luz

When Yaakov woke from his dream, he realized he was in a Makom Kadosh, Yerushalayim. He appropriately named the place Bais Kel, the house of Hashem. The pasuk (Vayeitzei 28:19) tells us that the original name was Luz. Rabbeinu Bachaye asks why is this relevant to us?

He answers that the pasuk is hinting to the fact that Yerushalayim was the beginning of creation, and the rest of the world continued from there. Luz, he explains based on the Medrash (Vayikra Rabba 18:1), is the bone in our spine that we will be recreated from during Techiyas HaMeisim. Just like the original wondrous creation started from Luz, so too will the miracle of Techiyas HaMeisim will start from Yerushalayim, for Yerushalayim is the center on Hashem's universe, and the closest connection to Heaven.

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 03:00:00 -0800
Rav Vosner - Tefilas HaDerech Alongside Cities

The Halacha states (OC 110) that Tefilas HaDerech is only said after a traveler leaves his city to embark on a journey of at least one Parsah. It can be said the entire journey until he arrives within a Parsa of his destination. What happens if alongside the highway that he travels, there is always a city within one Parsa? Is he exempt from Tefilas HaDerech because within a Parsa of a city there is no danger?

The Biur Halacha is Misupak and does not resolve this question. However Rav Vosner (Shevet HaLevi 10:21) says that one should say Tefilas HaDerech in this case. He explains that before leaving your city you are exempt because your journey has not yet begun. Within a Parsa of your destination it is already too late because you've already arrived. The entire road in between, is the modern day danger that is the subject of our Tefilah. The fact that the road is within the boundaries of another city does not lessen the danger as your car whizzes right by it, and therefore does not exempt you.

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.

Mon, 08 Sep 2014 03:00:00 -0700