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18 Cheshvan 5773/November 3, 2012
Beit Midrash Zichron Dov
Toronto TorahToronto TorahToronto Torah
Parshat Vayyera
Vol.4 Num. 7
declares that G-d "visits the iniquity of parents upon children and children'schildren, to the third and fourthgenerations." Does Hashem punishpeople for others' sins? The Talmud answers that Hashem'sactions vary by circumstance. If the sonwill change and behave according to G-d's will, he won't be punished for hisfather's actions. But when he continuesin his father's ways, he will be punishedboth for his sins and for his father'ssins. However, this answer, whileresolving the contradiction betweenverses, does not address the moralquestion: Why should the son bepunished for his father's deeds at all,even if he is personally wicked? The answer, I think, lies in the idea of collective judgment, as opposed tocollective punishment. We can assess asociety's righteousness in two differentways:1. We can inspect and judge every individual separately, or2. We can examine the society as awhole.Both ways can be correct and just
it'sa matter of our point of view.Sons who walk in their fathers' pathsare considered members of a singlesociety with their fathers. This society will be judged as a whole, and thepunishment for the society's collectivesins will be to the whole. Individualsmay suffer for more than their personalsins; as they are part of this society,they bear its punishment. On the otherhand, sons who would break with theirfathers' sins, affiliating themselves to adifferent culture, would be judgedaccordingly as unique individuals.Interestingly, this might be the reasonbehind the angels' mysterious warningthat Lot and his family not look backwhile escaping from the burning city.Looking back serves as a sign of identification and solidarity, andconsequently will cause the observer tobe judged together with the city'spopulation. Indeed, a very similarregulation is set in the case of Korachand his followers, "Distance yourselvesfrom the tents of these wicked men, anddo not touch anything of theirs, lest youperish in all of their sins." (Bamidbar16:26)Let us now take another step: Until nowwe have spoken about the ability of each one to define himself as anindividual or as a part of society, butfrom the arguments of Avraham andMoshe it appears that one can also bedefined by others. Avraham and Moshesee the righteous as apart from thewicked citizens of S'dom, and fromKorach's cadre. When others identify the whole group as one homogenousblock, Divine judgment will likewisetreat them as one. But when others candistinguish between the good and thebad, the righteous and the corrupted,then so will G-d.If this idea is correct, then a heavy responsibility lies on our shoulders. Theway we see others can affect the way Hashem will assess them! Are wegenerous enough to see good withinevil?
Collective Punishment, Personal Judgment
Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
MAZAL TOV TO SARA AND ADAM FRIEBERG ON THE BIRTH OF A BABY GIRL!We welcome the shlichim of Torah miTzion visiting Toronto for the annual North American Convention
In Avraham's effort to rescue Sodom,his fundamental argument is, "Would you even destroy the righteous withthe wicked?" (Bereishit 18:23) Thisargument presupposes that killing therighteous because of the wicked is animmoral act, inappropriate for the"Judge of the entire earth (ibid 18:25)".Moshe and Aharon echo this challengeregarding the punishment of Korachand his followers, "If one man sins,shall You be angry with the wholecongregation?" (Bamidbar 16:22)However, we must ask ourselves: If inflicting pain on the righteousbecause of the wicked is so clearly immoral, how can it be that Hashem iswilling to do it again and again? Evenmore so, how can our sages tell us(Mechilta Bo 11), "When the angel of death is permitted to act, he does notdistinguish between the righteous andthe wicked"? Will the Judge of theentire earth not perform justice?A similar question is asked in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 27a): On the onehand, the Torah (Devarim 24:16) tellsus, "Fathers shall not be put to deathbecause of sons, and sons shall not beput to death because of fathers; eachman shall be put to death for his owntransgression." On the other hand, thesame Torah (Shemot 34:7) also
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Mitzvah 214 requires that we not createidols for those who might use them,whether Jewish or non-Jewish. Whilethere are leniencies regardingconstructing a building which will housean idol, one may not construct the idolitself, and one may not act as acontractor, hiring others to perform theactual work. (Mishneh Torah, HilchotAvodah Zarah 3:9; Minchat Chinuch 27:1)
We have already learned (in mitzvot28 and 29) that one may neither bowto an idol nor worship it in any otherway. Mitzvah 213 requires us to domore, refraining from turning towardidolatry even in our speech orthoughts. As part of this mitzvah, amidrash (Sifra Kedoshim 1:11) rulesthat one may not intentionally look atidolatrous activities and symbols. Asthe Sefer haChinuch (213) explains,this is due to a concern that learningabout their worship might createattraction for us, and due to a generalinjunction against wasting our time.
613 Mitzvot: #213, 214
 Stay away!
Rabbi Mordechai TorczynerHitoriri: Jewish Spirituality
Tainted Grain
Adam Frieberg
The king’s stargazer saw that the 
grain harvested that year was tainted; anyone who would eat  from it would become insane.
“What can we do?” said the king.“It is not possible to destroy the 
crop, for we do not have enough grain stored to feed the entire 
“Perhaps,” said the stargazer, “we 
should set aside enough grain for ourselves. At least that way we 
could maintain our sanity.” The king replied, “If we do that,
be considered crazy. If everyone behaves one way and we behave 
differently, we’ll be considered the 
not normal ones.
“Rather,” said the king, “I suggest 
that we too eat from the crop, like everyone else. However, to remind ourselves that we are not normal,we will make a mark on our  foreheads. Even if we are insane,whenever we look at each other,we will remember that we are 
 This story (available at http://breslov.org/rebbe-nachmans-stories-the-tainted-grain/), like all of theamazing, fairytale like, stories told by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, has alwaysstruck me; I believe it is filled withsymbolism and meaning. RebbeNachman stated explicitly on multipleoccasions that the purpose of hisstories was to arouse people from theirspiritual slumber; he believed a story could accomplish this in a way thatnothing else could.One of this story's messages speaks tothe Jew in the modern world, whoneeds to work hard to support a family.Long days and endless emails oftenmake us forget our true purpose -
making us “insane”. Pirkei d’Rabbi
Eliezer (11) explains that in placing
Adam in Gan Eden “to work it and toguard it (Bereishit 2:15)”, G
-d wasasking him to work the garden throughthe study of Torah and the performanceof mitzvot, and to guard it by refrainingfrom sin. Yet our exile from the Garden,
and the curse that “by the sweat of your
brow you shall eat bread (Bereishit
3:19)”, created a new reality where our
ideals are easily forgotten. We may,unfortunately, drift from those idealsdue to our labour, but like the king inthe story, let us keep them as ourcompass.
The Authority of Custom
Yair Manas
 There are at least three approaches tothe authority of custom. The Rif (Responsum 13) and the Rosh(Responsum 55:10) both argue that theforce of custom stands upon a halachicfoundation. The Rif says that weobserve custom because at one time ourelders made an edict; even when thereason is forgotten, the practicecontinues. Thus, custom reflects anancient enactment that we continue toobserve because we presume that it wasenacted with the formalities of a validrabbinic law. Similarly, the Rosh writesthat we follow custom because weassume that earlier authorities decidedthat the custom was the halachah. The Chatam Sofer (1:145) offers asecond approach to the authority of custom. In his discussion about thesecond day of Yom Tov, observedoutside of Israel, he writes that thiscustom possesses the authority of acommunal vow. This approach and theprevious approach establish customupon halachic foundations.Under the first and second approaches,we should disregard customs whichclash with halachah, because halachahis what gives the custom its validity inthe first place. For example, the Talmud(Sukkah 47a) rules that one who livesoutside of Israel must sit in a sukkahon Shemini Atzeret. However, somepeople have a custom to not sit in thesukkah on this day. Using the approachof Rif and Rosh, or that of ChatamSofer, those people should disregardtheir custom, because it stands againstthe halachic system which authorizescustom. Rabbeinu Tam writes that even
a “fitting custom” does not override
halachah (Responsa of Baalei haTosafot11). Thus, when custom confrontshalachah, we should disregard thecustom and observe the halachah.A third approach may validate somecustoms which run counter tohalachah. Rav Hai Gaon writes (citedin Tmim Deim 119):More than any other proof, go out andsee what the people are doing. This isthe essence and the basis. Only afterwards do we consider all thatwas said in the mishnah or in thegemara concerning the matter. If whatever follows from them can bereconciled with our establishedpractice, fine. And if they containanything that does not match what isin our hearts [i.e. what we practice]and cannot be clarified with proof, itwill not override the essential thing.
[translated by R’ Chaim Navon].
 Rav Hai Gaon argues that custom isthe basis for halachah. If so, thenthere is room to argue that an already established custom, such as notsitting in the sukkah on SheminiAtzeret, can override a halachah.Clearly, Rav Hai Gaon's approach isfraught with danger; it is clear that wecannot invent practices which runcounter the halachah and then claimthe authority of custom, but at whatpoint would an existing custom gainthis legal authority? While Rav HaiGaon's words must be taken seriously,this position is difficult to support.Indeed, Rabbi Soloveitchik (NefeshHaRav pg. 220) concluded that thepractice to sit outside of the sukkah on
Shemini Atzeret is a “mistakenpractice,” because it directly 
contradicts the conclusion of thegemara. Still, the multiplicity of viewsregarding the nature of customdemonstrates that we have much tolearn regarding this basic componentof Jewish practice.
Monday is the 20 
of Cheshvan 
Lord Moyne (born Walter Guiness)was appointed to serve as GreatBritain's Resident Minister of Statein the Middle East in January 1944.In this capacity, Moyne oversaw theBritish policy of prohibiting Jewishrefugees from arriving in then-Palestine. Even beforehand, in hisrole as deputy Resident Minister, heplayed a role in blocking theimmigration of Jewish refugees onthe
in February 1942; theship was ultimately torpedoed by the Soviets, killing 768 passengers.In June of 1942 he addressed theHouse of Lords and spoke forcefully against creation of a Jewish state,comparing those who would "forcean imported régime upon the Arabpopulation" to Nazis.On the 20
of Cheshvan, 1944,Eliyahu Ben-Tzuri and EliyahuHakim, members of the Jewishresistance group Lehi, assassinatedLord Moyne in Cairo. They werecaught, tried and hanged. Lehideclared, "We accuse Lord Moyne,and the government he represents,with murdering hundreds andthousands of our brethren; weaccuse him of seizing our country and looting our possessions... Wewere forced to do justice and fight."Historians note that Lord Moyne'sassassination was more about theBritish than about the man. Thegoal, as explained by Yaakov Banai,then-commander, was todemonstrate that Jewish resistancewas not limited to battling theBritish Mandate, but was againstGreat Britain itself. The plan wasactually initiated in 1941, anddelayed until the British wouldappoint a native Briton as ResidentMinister of State.In the aftermath of theassassination, Winston Churchill (afriend of Moyne) voiced secondthoughts about support for a Jewishstate. Ironically, per historianBernard Wasserstein, a British planto create a Jewish state was up for avote in the British cabinet duringthe week of the assassination, but itwas tabled and never revisited afterMoyne's death.
Born in the Slovakian town of Verbo in1843, Rabbi Dovid Zvi Hoffman was acollege-educated intellectual as well as a Torah scholar. He studied in theUniversities of Vienna and Berlin andreceived a doctorate in 1871. Hereceived his Torah education under theMaharam Schick as well as Rav EsrielHildesheimer.Rabbi Hoffman served as a teacher inRabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's schoolin Frankfurt and then moved to Berlinto join the Rabbinical Seminary, wherehe eventually became a teacher after thepassing of Rav Hildesheimer. He alsoserved as the community's Rabbi. RabbiHoffman earned great esteem in thelarger community, and he received thetitle "Professor" from the Germangovernment upon celebrating his 75
 birthday.Known as one of his country's greatesthalachic experts of the time, RabbiHoffman wrote most of his works in hisnative German. His three-volume set of responsa,
Melamed L’hoil,
was publishedin Hebrew after his death. One of thoseresponsa is translated here.
I saw in Vayilaket Yosef (3-4:74) that R'Yehudah Leib Marmorstein discussed thecase of a youth whose father had not allowedhim to be circumcised. The youth now hasdied at the age of sixteen, and RabbiMarmorstein ruled that his grave should bedistanced nine cubits from the other graves;see his reasoning there. In my humbleopinion, one should agree with him inpractice, but not due to his reason. Hedecided that it was obvious that this youthwas a wicked individual, and we do not bury the wicked alongside the righteous.(Sanhedrin 47a). One cannot argue that the youth was a "child held captive among non- Jews" [who is not viewed as responsible for
his actions], for it is well known… and that
 Jews need to be circumcised.However, who could tell us that [this youth]definitely knew he wasn't circumcised? Doesevery sixteen-year-old child know the natureof circumcision and the visual difference?Perhaps he was modest and never looked atit his entire life. Think about it [further], due to our many sins there are areas in Germany where the
are severe sinners and do notperform
[lit. revealing; peeling off theepithelium]! Many children are therefore asthough they were not circumcised [at all], forwe learn, "One who circumcised without
is as if he had notcircumcised." (Mishnah Shabbat 19:6)However, none of them know that they arenot circumcised; certainly, they are like"children held captive among non-Jews".Further, even if they were to learn afterwardthat
is necessary, they wouldn't knowthat
had not been performed on them.Moreover: Even if you would say that heknew that he wasn't circumcised and despitethat he didn't circumcise himself, one couldargue that he did so because he didn't wantto to pain himself, and not because he kicked[i.e. rejected] the commandment of circumcision. If so, all would agree that hewas only a rebel concerning one matter, dueto his desires.It seems to me that even in Hungary thecustom is not to distance the grave of such arebel from other graves - in Germany, the
This Week inIsraeli History
Cheshvan 20, 1944
Lord Moyne Assassinated
R’ Mordechai Torczyner
Torah in Translation
Burial of anUncircumcised Youth
Rabbi Dovid Zvi Hoffman
Melamed l’Hoil 2:115
Translated by R’ Ezra Goldschmiedt
custom is certainly not so - and so thereis no legal reason to change the youth'sburial from the burial of other Jewishsinners.However, it seems to me that in order tofence in the matter one should preventhis burial among other graves. This ismeant to punish those heretics whonullify the covenant of our forefatherAvraham, not circumcising their sons, sothat they shall understand and fear thatthis will cause their sons to be entirely separated from the seed of Israel. Evenafter death, they will not have a graveamong the children of our forefatherAvraham. Particularly in our time, whenthis wickedness has spread due to ourmany sins, there is [a need] to establishboundaries in order to distance thosewicked ones from Jewry as much aspossible...
Biography: Rabbi Dovid Zvi Hoffman
R’ Dovid Zirkind
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