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Parashat Hukat
The Clouds of Glory
After the High Priest Aharon's death, the Clouds of Glory (Ananei Hakavod)
dissipated. In the past, these clouds had surrounded Benei Yisrael, and protected
them from external dangers. Amalek took advantage of this situation, and
attacked the Jews, and was even able to take Jewish Prisoners of War. Benei
Yisrael regrouped, promised to give a portion of the spoils to Hashem, and were
able to conquer their enemy. This story has a message for us today as well. The
merit of a Sadik protects the entire nation. Also, when Moshe sent the spies
among the wicked Cana'anim he asked, "Do they have an Etss?" a protector
among them who can save them. The same is true about Sedom. Had there been
ten righteous people in the city, everyone would have been saved. We have a
debt of gratitude towards our Sadikim, as well as to all those who learn the Torah,
whose merit protects us!
However, there is another equally important idea here as well. The book of
Kohelet compares man to a "Small City." The Medrash even call Man a "Small
World." People have various qualities, and act differently, and at times do not act
properly. If G-d punished us accordingly, how would we be able to survive?
The answer is, our "cities" as a whole must all be judged as being righteous.
Through our learning the Torah and its laws, we can come closer to Hashem and
His laws. Through having part of our time devoted to righteous acts, we can be
considered as being a righteous "city." In this way, the "Clouds of Glory" are able
to protect us, and even our families!
The Continuity of Generations
We all believe that G-d is all-powerful. He can perform miracles as easily as He
controls nature. G-d uses Nature to run the world because He so determined that
it is the best way to run the world. Therefore, we know that miracles are an
uncommon occurrence. Our Rabbis have taught us (Germara Shabbat 53) that
there once was a person whose wife died and left behind a young child. The
husband did not have the money to pay for a nurse for the child, and was in great
need, until a miracle occurred and the father himself was able to nurse the child.
Rav Yosef proclaimed, "Come and see what a great person this was who G-d
performed a miracle for him!" Rav Yosef's student, Abayai, said to him, "Just the
opposite! This person is not righteous, he caused the course of nature to be
altered!" We do not pray for miracles, Hashem has decreed that the world should
be ruled through natural occurrences, and it is not our place to ask for anything
otherwise. The Gemara tells us another story about Rabbi Yosef from Yukeret who
hired workers to work in the desert for him. One day, Rabbi Yosef was late in
bringing his workers their food. The workers were hungry and impatient. Rabbi
Yosef's son found a date tree, which he asked, "Date tree, give forth your fruits so
my father's workers may eat." Immediately, the tree produced fully ripened
dates, which the workers ate. Eventually, Rabbi Yosef came with the food, and
explained that he was late because he was tied up doing a Misvah. The workers
exclaimed, "May you be blessed with food, just as we have been!" - and they

explained to him the miracle that had occurred. Rabbi Yosef became very angry.
"My son, you bothered your Creator to change nature, your nature will also be
changed, and you will not live to your full life expectancy." We learn from here
that even though Hashem is not truly "bothered" by performing miracles, it his
not His Will to do so.
The miracles that happened to Benei Yisrael throughout our generations
happened when it was the only way to save them. This explains the miracles at
the Red Sea, the Mann in the desert, and even the miracles that were needed for
national unity, like the sprouting forth of Aharon's staff in last week's Parashah.
However, we see in this week's Parashah a tremendous miracle, and we do not
know why it was done. Moshe Rabbeinu climbed up the mountain Hor Hahar with
Aharon, and Elazar his son, and entered a cave. Inside, Moshe took off the High
Priest's garments from Aharon and dressed Elazar with them. Aharon was happy
seeing the transition of the High Priest's position from him to his son. The
Ramban quotes a Midrash, which explains that a great miracle took place at this
time. Normally, people undress with the outermost layer first. Consequently, if
one person waits for the clothes of another, he will have to wait for the first
person to completely undress before putting on the new clothes. But here, a
miracle took place. First, the Shehinah surrounded Aharon, acting as a layer of
clothing. Then, his clothing was transferred to his son, with his undergarments
first, and the outer garments last.
What was the purpose of this miracle? There was no threat to life, or even
personal honor to Aharon, as the Shehinah was already clothing him. Why
couldn't Aharon undress as normal people do?
It must be that this miracle was meant to teach us a basic lesson for all
generations. There is never even a moment's gap between the continuity of the
generations even the few seconds between the undressing and redressing of
clothes! Kohelet teaches us, "The sun rises and sets." Before Hashem
extinguishes the light of one Sadik, he "lights" the beginning of a new leader.
Before Moshe passed away, Yehoshua led. Before Yehoshua died, there was Atniel
the son of Kenaz. Before Eli expired, Shmuel's "light" began. And so forth
throughout all the generations (Beresheet Rabbah 58b).
Similarly the Torah teaches us, "The Pillar of Cloud will not dissipate during the
day, nor will the Pillar of Fire be extinguished at night." The Rabbis teach us that
there was never a moment when one of the Pillars was not lit. The Pillar of Fire
began at the very end of the day (when the Cloud was about to dissipate), and
the Pillar of Cloud began immediately before the day (before the Fire was
extinguished). The Gemara (Shabbat 23b) learns from here that it is imperative to
light Shabbat candles (which are compared to the Pillar of Fire) from before
sunset - just like the Pillar of Fire began a few minutes before the end of daylight.
This is similar to the idea found here. Hashem ensures that the Pillars of
Protection are always existent - there is never a moment between the Pillars of
Fire and Cloud.
Just as our protection from Hashem is always uninterrupted, so must our service
of Hashem. The changing of the Lehem Hapanim every week was done with one
group of people removing the old bread, while at the same moment the next
group of people brought in the new loaves (Gemara Menahot 99b). Let this be a
lesson to us to never take a "vacation" from our service of Hashem. We must

always make sure that there is never an interruption in our performance of

Hashem's laws.
Based on the Rulings of Rabbi Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Cereal and Beer
Last week, we explained that on porridge that has a thin consistency, even
though it is made from flour, one must recite the berachah of "shehakol." But, if
the porridge is thick (similar to molasses), and cannot simply be drunk, (even
though one does not need to chew it), it needs the berachah of "mezonot."
The Mishnah Berurah writes (208:23), that the above is only correct when dealing
with porridge that is made from flour, as the wheat content is dissolved in water,
and is therefore not recognizable. However, cereal that has whole wheat or
barley particles, such as is the case with oatmeal, the correct berachah is
"mezonot." Even though the oatmeal might be very thin, the correct berachah is
still mezonot, as there are whole particles of grain within the mixture. The correct
practice is in accordance with the Mishnah Berurah regarding this issue, and this
is what Hacham Ovadia Yossef shlit"a's practice is.
The proper blessing on beer still requires explanation. Beer is made from soaking
barley in water. One might therefore compare beer to the following halachah: The
Mehaber writes (205) that the proper blessing on water which was cooked with
vegetables has the same berachah as the vegetables, even though he is not
eating the vegetables. Since the vegetables gave the water its taste, the water
also has the same berachah as the vegetables. Thus, it would seem that
according to the Mehaber, the proper berachah on beer as well would be
"mezonot", as its taste is derived from barley.
However, the Taz differentiates between the cases. In the case of beer, the actual
taste of barley is not present in the water. Since beer has a new taste, which is
different than the original barley, beer has a different status from barley.
Therefore, the proper berachah is "shehakol." But, in the case of the cooked
vegetables, the original taste of the vegetables is present in the water. Therefore
the water has the same berachah as the vegetables. The Taz's argument is even
more relevant to us, as there are those who do not agree with the Mehaber even
in the case of the cooked vegetables, unless there are vegetable particles within
the water. According to this view, if one said the berachah of "ha'adamah" on the
water cooked with vegetables, and there were no vegetable bits in the water,
then he has made a berachah in vain. Although the Mehaber does not agree with
this opinion, we have a rule that one follows the lenient view with berachot.
(safek berachot lehakel) Consequently in the case of beer one should make the
berachah of "shehakol."
In summary, thin cereal made from flour (porridge) that can be drunk has the
berachah of "shehakol." Oatmeal, and all cereals that have whole wheat particles,
have the berachah of "mezonot" even if they are not thick. Any thin porridge also
has the berachah of "mezonot." One says the berachah of "shehakol" on beer,
even if the beer is made from barley.
Rabbi Eliyahu Mani zs"l

On Sunday, the eighth day of Tamuz, we will commemorate the passing of Rabbi
Eliyahu Mani zs"l. After his death, we found a manuscript of one of his books
stating the following: "I have accepted upon myself not to question the writings
of the Divrei Shalom, because of what happened to me." Until recently we did not
understand why Rabbi Mani acted this way, especially as Torah is learned
specifically from asking and answering the problems one encounters when
The answer to this riddle is found within the book, "Yisachar U'zevulun," where
the following story is mentioned:
Once Rabbi Eliyahu Mani sat and learned the text of the Divrei Shalom with his
colleague Rabbi Nissim Ini zs"l. They discussed the interpretation of a difficult
Kabalistic issue that his grandfather, the Rashash Zei'ah addressed. After reading
the Divrei Shalom's understanding of the issue, Rabbi Mani proclaimed, "This was
not the Rashash Zei'ah's meaning!" Rabbi Mani, with his great knowledge, was
able to show the true meaning of the Rashah Zei'ah's work.
Immediately, after saying these words, Rabbi Mani became mute. He began to
cry, and formed the words of the Vidui with his lips. Soon afterwards, he regained
his power of speech. Rabbi Mani explained that while he was mute, he had a
vision of Rabbi Rashash who said, "What right do you have to say that my
grandson didn't understand me! You are the one who misunderstood the great
words of my grandson." Only after Rabbi Mani further asked for forgiveness, did
he become healed.
From here we learn how we must be careful about the honor of teachers and
"And they Fought in Israel, and they Took Captives"
Our teacher, the Ohr HaHayim zs"l, discussed the choice of language "And they
fought 'in' Israel" (be'Israel) and not "with Israel" (Im Yisrael). He explained that
Benei Yisrael themselves caused this war through their sin of fighting with Moshe
and Aharon in Mei Merivah. This sin caused Moshe's death, the dissipating of the
Ananei Hakavod (the Clouds of Glory), and the war with Amalek. Therefore, the
Torah intentionally wrote, "be'Israel", as the war was caused by the Jews.
Similarly, any time when there is Heaven Forbid, a time of need, we should
introspect and try to find within ourselves the sins we commit, which in turn
affect the entire community.
"Make for Yourself a Serpent, and Put in on a Stake"
Benei Yisrael sinned, "And the nation spoke against Elokim and Moshe", and
Hashem sent among the nation the poisonous snakes, who "bit the Jews, and
many from Israel died." Afterwards, Benei Yisrael thought about their sins and
asked forgiveness from both Hashem and Moshe for complaining. Then, Hashem
commanded that Moshe create a statue of a serpent and place it high on a stake
so everyone could see it. Anyone who was bitten could then look at this statue
and live. On this verse, the Ramban explains that normally if one is bitten by a
snake, it only makes him feel worse if he looks at a picture of a snake. Hashem
was trying to teach that Teshuvah is able to overcome anything, even poison.
"A Well Dug by Princes, Hollowed Out by Nobles"
The Hidah zs"l compared this verse to the Torah. The Torah has no limit. Even
after the great Rabbis in generations past taught and wrote so much Torah, there

is still room for scholars in this generation to add to our knowledge of the Torah.
The "princes" in this verse are the Rabbis of past generations, and the "nobles"
are today's scholars. Anyone, in any generation, who adds to knowledge of Torah
becomes a partner to Moshe in "digging" the well of Torah.
The Vocal Chords
The power of speech is the only quality that is unique to man, making man
superior from the other species of the world. How is sound generated in the
throat? This is one of the wonders of nature found within us.
The vocal chords are located by the top part of our windpipes. Within the vocal
chords are two delicate ligaments between which is the voice cavity.
These ligaments are always in flux. When we are silent they are furthest apart,
and when we speak they move closer together. This action is aided by throat
cartilage, which holds these ligaments in place. Sounds are made when these
ligaments vibrate the air as it is released from our lungs. The palate, teeth,
tongue, lips, and nose further modify the sounds into speech. The intensity of the
sound is dependent on the air pressure that is being forced out of the lungs. The
greater the air pressure, the louder the sound.
Sound gives man the ability to express ideas and persuade other people. It is
important that we do not abuse this power of speech, and make sure we use it for
doing Hashem's wishes. The Rabbis teach us that "v'dibarta bam" (and you
should speak about the Torah) refers to the idea that most of our speech should
be about issues related to the Torah.
The lesson of "Mei Merivah"
There are many different possibilities as to what was the exact sin of Moshe at
Mei Merivah. Some have even suggested that there are so many different
explanations about what occurred because the fight was about many different
insignificant things. Only when one combines all the different issues into one
large one, does one understand why Moshe was punished.
The Rambam raises the possibility that the Jews had been watching Moshe to
learn from his every act. When they asked him for water to quench their thirst,
Moshe became angry. There was no need for him to become angry, and because
of this the Jews thought it was acceptable to become angered easily. As a result,
Hashem became angry. If someone knows people are looking to him for direction,
he must be extra careful not to do anything that people might learn improperly
The Torah teaches us how to act. Any father or mother is similar to Moshe in this
regard. We are all role models to other people who learn from our actions. It is
impossible to know what bad habits people might learn from our mistakes. We
learn from the story of Mei Merivah the importance of being a proper role model.
Excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller
The Mind: Result of Torah Lishmah

But even those who pursue the Torah-study may overlook this important truth.
This is due to the omission of two important factors. The first is the failure to
approach the Torah-study with the attitude of Lishmah. "Whoever engages in the
Torah-study for its own sake (Lishmah) becomes worthy of many things" (Avot
6:1). In addition to the intrinsic Perfection of the Torah which G-d then bestows
upon him, this man also identifies himself with the Torah and becomes an
enthusiastic advocate for its dissemination, and practice; and certainly he seeks
to conduct his personal life according to the teachings of the Torah. But, one who
studies Torah not for its sake, is exemplified by the Talmud student who was
diligently reciting the law of double-payment (Kefel) by a thief, while studying
from a volume of the Talmud which he had taken from a synagogue without
permission. The attitude of Lishmah is exemplified by the Sage who admonished
his comrades to hold on to their top-hats when the wind blew because of a law in
Baba Kama. His scholarly comrades wondered: Where is such a law stated in
Baba Kama? The Sage (Rabbi Yisrael Salanter) replied: "One's stone, one's knife,
or one's pack which he placed on his roof, and it fell because of the wind and did
damage, obligates him to pay" (Baba Kama 3b). Because he was interested
enough in the Torah (Lishmah) to seek to apply it to himself, he perceived that
the law of "the stone, the knife, or the pack" applied also to a top-hat.
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Parashat Balak
On the 17th of Tamuz, the Korban Tamid was Nullified
This Tuesday the fast of the 17th of Tammuz will take place- may this day quickly
be turned into a day of happiness and rejoicing with the coming of redemption.
One of the terrible things that happened on this day, was the nullification of the
Korban Tamid sacrifice. The gemara (Sota, 49.) explains that when the enemy
besieged Jerusalem, the Kohanim would lower a purse full of money over the
walls, and the besiegers, in return, sent over two lamb for the Korban Tamid
sacrifice. One evil elderly man saw the enemies doing this and said to them, "As
long as the Jews continue to perform the Korban Tamid sacrifice, you will never
overcome them!" The next day, as usual, the Kohanim lowered a bag full of
money to their enemies, in anticipation of a lamb for the Korban. In return, the
enemies sent back a pig. From that day on, the Korban Tamid was not able to be
brought, and soon after, the Temple was destroyed.
The penetrating message of this story remains: it is not the "kerav" (battle) that
wins the war but rather the "korban" (sacrifice)- "Not with courage or with
strength, but with my spirit, says Hashem!"
The institution of prayer takes the place of korbanot, and the Misvot are even
more important than sacrifices: "It is better to listen [to the Torah] than to bring a
sacrifice." It is asked in the gemara, "Why was the First Temple destroyed?". The
answer is not that there was a military defeat, but rather, the First Temple was
destroyed because of three severe sins that were committed. And the second
Temple was not destroyed because of the failed rebellion and the strength of the
Romans. It was destroyed because of the sin of senseless hatred between man
and man. Both on the individual and universal level: "Man does not have a right
to the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu until we believe in all its words and the incidents
it discloses, for they are all miracles, there is nothing natural about them,
whether on an individual or public level.
But rather, if a person fulfills the misvot, he will recieve his reward, and if he
transgresses, he will be given a punishment. Everything happens according to
heavenly decree." (Ramban, Exodus 13:16).
It is for this reason that we fast before the day of the Temple's destruction, on the
17th of Tammuz- in order to think about the reasons that caused the destruction,
to contemplate, and repent!
A Lesson from the Parasha
The Zohar HaKadosh explains that the word "Torah" derives from the word
"Hora'ah" which means, teaching and guidance. Indeed, everything in the Torah
is intended to teach and to guide. To acquire knowledge, there are specific
commandments to follow such as keeping the Shabbat and wearing Tefillin. There
are also a myriad of lessons that are learned from the stories of the Torah. From

the story of "Mei Merivah", for example, we learn about the terrible ramifications
of anger, and the severity of the sin of Hillul Hashem, etc.
What can we learn from this week's Parasha, Parshat Balak...What can we learn
from the coming of Bilam to curse Israel, from the placing of Berachot into his
mouth instead, from his advice to cause the Jewish people to sin by the
persuasion of the women of Moav, from the plague that broke out among the
tribes because of this...? At first glance, it seems that this Parasha is merely
relating a historical incident. However, the Torah is not a history book, but rather
a book of guidance- what guidance may we glean from this Parasha?
When this incident is closely investigated, we find that in fact, there is a
fundamental lesson to be learned here. In order to elucidate this lesson, we will
use an example taken from the recent past.
The State of Israel engraved on its flag the words "Never Again," Messada will not
fall again, we will never again walk like sheep to the slaughterhouse. We have
built strength, the Israeli army will return strike for strike- return it seventy fold
with it's mighty army. We have an air force, tank force, paratroopers, and navy.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, a sudden alarm came. The Egyptians were preparing
for attack. The Commander in Chief pressured the government to preempt the
attack. However, the Prime Minister declared, "We will bend our heads and
absorb the attack, and then we will return the attack." And the attack was painful
and burning. Years passed, and the Gulf War broke out. In the seat of the prime
minister stood a determined man... multiple bombs exploded in the state, and
the army was not put into action. Miraculously, no one was injured. Why was the
army not put into action?
We know why, and understand the decision. The government officials knew that if
the army was damaged, they would lose the great support that the state relies on
from a political and economical standpoint. And protection is more important
than everything. The hypothesis was that if we were to attack first in the Yom
Kippur war, we would attain only short-term security.
This short term victory would be lost in comparison to the greater defeat. And
perhaps there may be some who disagree with this, but we are using this as an
And what is the lesson to be learned from this example? Balak and Bilam knew
the lesson. That the Jewish nation has a shield! "It is better to rely on Hashem
then to rely on princes." And they knew, that if they wanted, G-d forbid, to be
victorious over Israel, they should not rely on their own stength. For in those
times, there was no nation in the world stronger than Egypt, and even Egypt had
not been able to defeat the Jews. Hashem had stricken Egypt to destruction, and
brought us out of Egypt with a raised hand. If Balak and Bilam wanted to conquer
the Jews, they knew they had to find a way to create a breach between Israel and
their Father in Heaven, G-d forbid. At first, Bilam tried to awaken Hashem's
decree of Judgment on the Jewish people with his curses, but to no avail. Later,
he tried a different method, which succeeded- he caused Israel to sin. Sin creates
a separation and mutual estrangement. "For your sins separate between you and
your G-d, and your sins have hidden G-d's face from you" (Yishaya, 59,2).

Bilam said to Balak "The G-d of these people detests lewdness, go and make
them commit this sin, topple the boundaries of modesty, nullify the gates of
family purity, and thus you will remove from them the protection of the Creator.
In this way they will fall, even without a war." And, unfortunately, a plague broke
out among the Jewish people because of this.
One cannot, G-d forbid, insult the means of the State - in the military, political,
economical, or social realm. But, if we wish for these to become fruitful, we have
to act in a manner that will cause the Creator to give us his strength and
protection- we can do this only through repentance, misvot, and added Torah
learning. It is true, the army is necessary, but the people who are learning in
yeshiva add Torah, kedusha, mitzvot, and cause the shield of the Creator to be
spread over us. Only in this way can the army be victorious.
And this principle is not only true on a universal level, but also on an individual
level. One has to work in order to make a living, and one might think that if one
were to work on Shabbat, he would make a greater living. Or, one might think
that if they went to hear a shiur in Torah, they would lose an hour's worth of
making a living. Maybe one would gain a little, but in the larger picture one loses.
However, if one listens to the will of the Creator, then he will merit the Light of his
Face, and will earn infinite reward.
The Golden Column
Rabbeinu Chaim Ben Atar, zt"l
On Sunday, the 15th of Tammuz, the day of remembrance for Rabbeinu Chaim
ben Atar, zs"l, will occur. He is well-known for his book "Or HaHaim Hakadosh".
Hundreds will go up to his grave site in the heights of Mt. Olives, to pray and
request mercy, that in his merit and in the merit of his Torah, Hashem will show
mercy to his nation, and will speedily send us both spiritual and material
redemption to the nation and to each individual person.
The grave site of Rabbeinu Hakadosh is known for wondrous events. During World
War II, when Syria was controlled by the Vichy government, which was a German
ally, Haifa was bombed by the hand of the Italians, also German allies. The
Germans themselves were preparing for battle in North Africa.
The religious courts of Jerusalem announced that the people of Jerusalem would
go up to the cemetery of Rabbeinu Hakadosh, on the day of his remembrance,
the 15th of Tammuz.
Among those who had made aliyah to Zion, was the elderly Rabbi from Huseiton
the grandson of Rabbi Yisrael from Rhizin, zs"l.
It is impossible to describe the moving prayers that were said, and the tehilim
that were recited in tears. Everyone had heard the declaration of the enemies
that the western wall stood to justify its name, "The Wailing Wall".
The prayers ended and everyone descended from the mountain, depressed and
worrried. Only the face of the Sadik reflected great happiness. The Gaon of Taplik,
zs"l asked the Rabbi from Huseiton to explain his happiness, and he answered
"The danger has passed, the enemy will not enter the gates of the land!"
The Gaon of Taplik then asked, "How do you know"

And he answered, "because I saw the name of Hashem blessed is He, lighting
over Holy Zion".
Two days later the enemies suffered their downfall at Al Almein, and the wheel
was overturned, from that day on they suffered defeat after defeat until the time
of their destruction!
Asking and Expounding
The Blessing on Rice
There is a dispute among the Rishonim as to the proper blessing to be said upon
eating rice. The Ba'al Halachot Gedolot and the Ra"avia are of the opinion that
the blessing should be "shehakol", whereas the Rif, Rambam, and Rosh are of the
opinion that the blessing should be "borei minei mezonot." The Rosh justifies his
opinion by arguing that although rice is not part of the five grains that "mezonot"
is normally said over, it serves the same function of satiety. However, since it is
really not officially part of the five grains, one makes a concluding blessing of
"borei nefashot" and not the blessing of "me'ein shalosh" which is normally said
over the five grains. The Shulchan Aruch concurs with this approach.
One point in particular needs clarification. It seems that the Rosh only says that
you make a blessing of "mezonot" on rice when it is cooked and ground up into a
meal - i.e. it has lost its distinguishable form of rice. The same rule actually
applies to whole wheat stalks - even if they are cooked, one says a blessing of
"borei peri ha'adama" and not "mezonot." However, there is a significant
distinction between wheat and rice. Wheat is not normally eaten in its original
form, whereas rice is. Therefore, there is a logical argument to say "mezonot' on
rice even when it is in its original form (as is the common way to eat it today.)
The Shulchan Aruch seems to follow our last line of reasoning whereas the Rama
seems to hold by the Rosh and says that a blessing of "mezonot" is only said over
rice which has been made into flour or meal and used to make a bread or cooked
dish. However, even among Benei Ashkenaz who normally follow the Rama, there
seems to be a consensus to say "mezonot" over rice.
In summary: when one eats rice, a blessing of "mezonot" is said before hand, and
a blessing of "borei nefashot" is said afterward.
From the wellsprings of the parasha
"Those who you bless are blessed."
The "Or Hachaim" has asked: "We know that Bilam has the power to curse,
because our Rabbis tell us that he knew the time of day when Hashem is angry
and that he was given the power of the "evil eye," but where does he get the
power to bless from? The answer is that in truth Bilam did not have the power to
bless. What he would do is that every time he would see someone's luck
increase, he would give them a blessing, and then everyone would attribute that
person's success to Bilam's blessing! In reality, though, he only had the power to
"Do not go with them."
The Ibn Ezra has asked: Why did Hashem have to prevent Bilam from cursing
Benei Yisrael? Why couldn't Hashem have simply let Bilam curse the Jewish
people and then not let that curse materialize? The answer is that Hashem knew

that Bilam's agenda was to cause the Jews to sin with the daughters of Midyan
and that Hashem would have to send a plague to punish the Jews for this.
Hashem did not want people to think that this plague was a result of Bilam's
curse, and therefore he had to stop Bilam from the very outset!
"And Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey."
The Ramban points out that although the donkey complained that Bilam hit him,
the donkey did not justify its stubbornness by explaining to Bilam that there was
an angel of Hashem blocking the road. The reason for this, the Ramban explains,
is that a donkey can not see an angel. When the Torah says that the donkey saw
the angel, it simply means that the donkey felt the presence of something scary.
However, a donkey can certainly not see an angel. Only someone with a neshama
- a soul - can see an angel.
The Wonders of the Creator
The Head
Every one of man's organs has been created and designed perfectly by Hashem
for the function that it performs. Let us take the head and all of its part as an
The brain, the most lofty and complex of man's organs has been created with a
special covering - the skull. The eyes, man's gates to the world around him, have
also been encased by the skull for support and protection. The jaws, important for
speech and eating, have been perfectly designed for these functions - especially
the lower jaw which can move up and down and from side to side. The head itself
can also move around in order to see peripherally and yet is held strongly by the
cervical vertebrae. The muscles of the face are also extremely important. These
muscles are used for speaking, eating, smiling - among many of their functions.
There are even tiny muscles in our ears which control our hearing! From a
spiritual perspective, the face is the gateway to the spirit of a man - from a man's
face, we see his soul.
Ma'ayan Hahinuch
We find a Midrash in Sefer Beresheet which is connected to our parasha and
needs explanation. The midrash says: " Woe to us when the day of judgment
comes, woe is to on the day of rebuke! For Bilam, who was merely an idol
worshipper was not able to withstand the rebuke of his donkey! (after Bilam
strikes his donkey three times, the donkey says back to him, "Am I not your
donkey upon which you have ridden all your life to this very day? have I ever
endangered you?" To this, Bilam simply answered "no.") How much more so will
we not be able to withstand the rebuke when the Holy One Blessed Be He comes
to rebuke us!" The question asked on this Midrash is: What is so poignant about
the rebuke of the donkey that caused our Rabbis to parallel it to the rebuke that
we will one day receive from Hashem?
The rebuke of the donkey is so powerful because it asks Bilam a very simple
question: where is your common sense? The donkey does not point out any
specific sin. Rather, he recalls to Bilam that he has always been a faithful donkey,
and if there is anything wrong, its obviously not his fault or his malicious attempt
to obstruct Bilam's journey. The donkey is accusing Bilam of simply not
considering the situation with enough thought and sensitivity. This is the
message of the Midrash - that certainly in the future we will be judged for all of

our individual sins. But more importantly, we will be judged for simply not having
common sense. Judgment will be passed on us for all of the days spent frivolously
without properly considering our true role in the world and what our duty is as
Jews and servants of Hashem.
Excerpts from: Sing You Righteous... by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller
Behinah in the talmud
The question might be raised: If the observation of the Creator's wisdom and
kindliness is such an essential requirement, why is the Talmud not full of it? But
the same question can be asked about the subject of praise to G-d, which
certainly is obligatory at all times, as is clearly evident throughout the book of
Tehillim, such as: "Let me bless the L-rd at all times; always shall His praise be in
my mouth"(Tehillim 34:2). The answer is that the Talmud is chiefly for the purpose
of teaching the Halachot, but the Sages left the subject of Tehillim to the book of
Tehillim which teaches the importance of praise of G-d's wisdom and kindliness.
The Sages certainly studied all the Scriptures, and they relied on this and
therefore did not repeat the scriptural admonitions other than what pertained to
Halachah. The admonitions toward the observation of the Creator's work are in
the Scriptures. "Raise up on high your eyes and see Who created these" (Isaiah
40:26). "When I see Your heavens, the work of your fingers; the moon and the
stars which You established" (Tehillim 8:4). "At the work of G-d they do not look,
and the doing of His hands they did not see" (Isaiah 5:12).
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Parashat Matos/Masei
The Springs and the Palm Trees
In this week's parashah, the 42 journeys of Benei Yisrael in the desert are
counted. This corresponds to the number of letters in Hashem's holy name which
we see in the abbreviations in the Tefilah "ana b'koach."
It says in the Gemara Kiddushin (Daf 71), "we don't teach the 42 letter name of
Hashem to anyone who is not modest, humble, and middle-aged. Neither do we
teach it to someone who gets easily angered, gets drunk, or inflexible. And
anyone who knows the name but guards it in purity, is loved by Hashem and is
loved by man, is feared by man, and inherits two worlds, this one and the next."
We see how the secrets of the Torah are hidden in the Parasha! Even the names
of the places where Benei Yisrael camped in their journeys reveal lofty spiritual
secrets. The author of the "Yesod Ha'avodah" zs"l has written an entire work,
based on the kabbalah, to explain the meaning of each encampment! Every word
in the Torah has been written to learn from!
Now we will explain why the Torah only gives a list of the places where Benei
Yisrael encamped as opposed to explaining what happened at each place. Given
that only the encampments were listed, however, we must explain the following
lengthy discussion in one of the verses: "and they traveled from Mara and came
to Elim, and in Elim there were 12 springs of water and 70 date palms and they
camped there." This information is also related in Parashat Beshalah, and our
sages there wondered what significance there is in this story of the wells and the
date trees.
Furthermore, what possible benefit could 70 trees give to 6 million people?
There is a Mechilta which explains the significance of this story - the springs
represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the trees represent the 70 elders of Israel.
What is the point of this mechilta, though? Is it simply coming to teach us that
Israel has 12 tribes and 70 elders!? That is self evident! Rather, it must be
teaching us something more.
In truth, there is a great lesson to be learned. When the twelve tribes left Egypt,
they left as distinct units. Every tribe had its own place and its own flag. The Ari
HaKadosh tells us that each tribe even had its own window in the sky for its
prayers to pass through.
The potential surely existed for each tribe to separate from the others and
declare itself a distinct and separate unit - this would cause the Torah, heaven
forbid, to become 12 different Torot, and the nation to be split into 12 different
nations! By the same token, the seventy elders were all men of stature and great

wisdom, each with his own students and school. Each one also had his own
distinct style of learning. The potential surely existed for each elder to declare
that only he possessed the truth and the true interpretations of the Torah. This
could have, heaven forbid, turn the Torah into seventy Torot. However, all of this
did not happen, and it is symbolized by the wells and the palm trees.
There was significance of Benei Yisrael arriving at Elim. In Hebrew, the letters of
this place stand for "Our father Jacob has not died."
One should know that to all of the tribes their was one father! His sprit was in all
of them and served to connect them as a nation. All of the tribes declared to
Jacob at the end of his life: "Hear, Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is one" It is
true that each tribe is its own well, but it can not separate from the other wells. In
Elim, all 12 springs were in the same place to show that the entire nation could
partake of them! The date trees also were a symbol of unity. The roots of a date
tree, our rabbis tell us, do not spread out, they are unified.
This symbolizes the unanimity of our sages when it comes to issues of Torah even though there is the potential for disparity.
The lesson that we learn form here is extremely important for this time of year,
during the time we mourn for the destruction of the temple which was destroyed
because of senseless hatred between fellow Jews. The Netziv explains that part of
the problem was that each group separated themselves from the next and
thought that only they were right and everyone else was wrong. We must
remember that the Mashiah will come to redeem the WHOLE nation - not just
parts of it!!
Please, Our Master, Have Mercy On Us
We find ourselves once again in the time of "Bein Hameitzarim," the period
between Shiv'ah Asar Be'Tamuz and Tisha Be'av. Another year has gone by in the
bitter galut (exile). It is a galut which we do not even have the tools to
understand. Nearly two thirds of all Jews living in exile have lost all touch with the
Jewish people and the Jewish religion, and even the remaining third are still far
from perfect observance of the Torah. Thank G-d that we are part of the small
minority who attend synagogue steadfastly.
It is told that on this Shabbat, the shabbat in which we make the blessing of the
new month of Av, there was a gathering in the city of Tzina in which the people's
hearts were broken with words of Torah and Midrashim. The young students
would sit on the ground in the middle of the synagogue and the Darshan would
turn to them and say "Holy children, why are you quiet??!! Call out to you
merciful Father in Heaven, maybe He will hear, open up your mouths, maybe He
will listen!" Then the children opened up their mouths in crying and sighing, and
with a bitter voice said, "Our Master, have mercy on us!"
This caused the walls of the synagogue to shake. If we, today, do not have the
power to scream, let us at least whisper..."Our master, look at our travails, fight
our wars, and speedily redeem us for Your name's sake."
The Wonders of the Creator: The Liver
When we consider the largest organ of our body, the liver, we realize the deep,
infinite, Godly wisdom that is intrinsic to this organ which is so varied in function.
Just like every kitchen has a refrigerator, whose purpose is to preserve the

freshness of food until it needed, so too, is the liver's function. One of the most
interesting functions of the liver is that it stores important biological materials,
such as glycogen, which has the uniqueness of being able to be converted into
sugar at the body's demand. The liver also stores fats, absorbed from the
intestines. Some of these fats are converted into fatty acids that are gathered in
the vascular system.
These fatty acids collect in the liver until the moment that the body needs them.
In addition, the livers produces certain vitamins and clotting factors, without
which the body would not be able to function. These vitamins are absorbed from
the food that was given to us by the Creator of the Universe, and are stored in
the liver and later transferred to the blood when needed. Another vital product
collected in the liver, is iron. For as we know, anemic people are advised to eat
liver due to its iron richness. Man must learn a lesson from this, and sustain in his
nefesh (soul) collections of wisdom and ethical values in order that he may
protect his soul from the flood of evil waters.
The Golden Column: Rabbi Yis'hak Luria zs"l
The fifth of Av marks 425 years since the pasing of the Ari Hakadosh, Rabbi
Yitzchak Luria. The great gift that the Ari gave us was to convey the secrets of
Kabbalah and to give us a taste of the depth and the light of the Zohar and the
Once, on a Friday, the Ari went out to an apple orchard with his best students to
greet the Shabbat outside of Tzefat. He asked his students, "would you like to
quickly go to Jerusalem and greet the Shabbat there? The students were joyous
about the idea, but asked, "what would be with our families? What would they
think when we would not return to say the Kiddush?
Wouldn't they be worried?" They told the Ari that they would just go tell their
families and then come back. At that point, the Ari raised his hands to heaven
and cried," If we would have gone right away to Jerusalem in joy without
hesitation, we would have merited the redemption! Now we have lost our chance.
Who knows how much longer and how much more pain will come before it is
possible for the redemption to come again."
There is a tremendous lesson to be learned from this story. We all pray for the
redemption, but if the Mashiah came today and said "here I am" would we be
ready to accept him? We would probably have something else to do, to finish
something or take care of something first. This is not the proper path. We must
be ready to abandon everything and go up to the mountain of Hashem!
From the Wellsprings of the Parashah
"These are the journeys of Israel"
The Rambam, zs"l writes (in Moreh Nevuchim), that the Torah points out in detail
all the travels of Israel in the desert so that it would not be thought that even
though Benei Yisrael came out of Misraim and conquered Eres Cena'an, and they
arrived in Israel via an easy and close route from Misraim. On the contrary, the
Torah lists all the different travels in the dessert, "in a land not harvested, without
water and food," to teach that in such an environment three million people
traveled for forty years, sustained only by open miracles - by the falling of "man"
from the sky, the flowing of water from the rock, that served to provide drink for
the multitude of people for decades!

"That came out of Misraim in multitude"

The Hida, z"sl writes "Asher" in gematria is equal to "Dezach, Adash, Beachav,"
the abbreviation for the 10 plagues. One can ask, how did the Jews leave after
210 years, wasn't there a decree that they should be there for 400 years? the
answer to this is the word "multitiude." They came out of Egypt in great numbers,
and this compensated for the lack of time spent there so they were able to leave
"And Moshe wrote their goings out"
In the beginning of the verse it states that Moshe wrote "their goings out
according to their journeys" and later in the verse it is reversed - "their journeys
according to their going out." What is the reason for the switch in the order? It
has been explained that the 42 journeys of Benei Yisrael correlate to the 42
letters in Hashem's name. This is what it means by saying, "And Moshe wrote
their going out to their journeys according to the word of Hashem" - i.e., the
source of all of their journeys (the directions for their journeys) was from Hashem.
Not only this, but Hashem was also the destination of their journeys they traveled
towards the source of everything - Hashem!
The Wellsprings of Education
"There is no wiser man than he who has passed a test of life"
For how many years has the mandatory education system been established in
the Western World? Barely 100 years! Unlike Israel, whose educational system
has been running for over 1000 years. Therefore, when dignified educators invite
investigators like these to decide on different methods of teaching, we smile.
Because in a system 1000 years old, all the methods have been tested! We've
already found all the ways and learned our lessons. And the Torah system of
education has proven itself over the generations. We see the fruits of the secular
system of education, and what problems are created by it. As opposed to the
Torah way of education, which has no discipline problems, no drugs... It instills
honor and respect to our tradition and inheritance, and respect to parents and
teachers. Whoever wants a glorified son, a modest and educated daughter,
should send their children for a Torah education. The pride is promised for this
world and the world to come. But there are those who say: "these things are true
for elementary education, but afterward, why learn in yeshiva? Let a person go
out into the real world, and learn from shiurim." The answer to this is in Parashat
In the parasha there are 42 travel stops mentioned in the desert, "And they
traveled from Refidim and camped in Midbar Sinai, and they traveled from Midbar
Sinai to the Graves of Desire." Not one word on the giving of the Torah at Har
Sinai! There is a simple answer to this: in "they traveled and camped", there is no
"giving of Torah". man cannot acquire an understanding and taste of the Holy
Torah when he is weighed down and busy, running to bring home money. One
needs years of calm study in order to acquire the fundamentals of Torah and to
acquire expertise in Gemara and halacha to be a Ben Torah. Afterwards, one can
go out into the business world and will remain pure. This is the way that has been
tested successfully for 1000's of years by our fathers and forefathers. This is the
path that we will pass on to our children for their happiness and ours.

Asking and Expounding

Based on the ruling of Hacham Ovadia Yossef Shlit"a
The Laws of the Week of Tishah Be'av
1) It is forbidden by the Rabbis to take a haircut or shave during the week that
Tisha Be'av falls in.
2) It is also forbidden to wash one's clothes during this week. This prohibition
even includes towels. It is also forbidden to wash children's clothes during this
time, although we are more lenient when it comes to baby's clothing, but it is
best to do this in private, and small amounts at a time.
3) It is furthermore forbidden to even wear a freshly laundered garment during
this time, even if it was washed before the week in which Tisha Be'av falls
actually starts. If there is a need to wear such clothing (if one lives in a warm
place and needs to change clothing often because of the sweat), one should
make sure to wear the garment for an hour the week before.
4) The minhag of Sefaradim is to not wash all of one's body in warm water during
the week which Tisha Be'av falls in, but with cool water it is permitted even with
soap. The exception to this rule is someone who needs to wash in warm water for
medical reasons. The same applies to a woman who has just given birth.
5) It is the minhag of Jerusalem not to eat meat fromIuntil the tenth day of Av
(including the tenth day). This includes chicken and meat but not fish. One can
even cook in a pot which had been used for meat that day. One may feed meat to
young children who do not understand the meaning of the destruction of the
6) The Rabbis have forbidden to eat two cooked dishes during the meal before
the fast. One can not even eat one egg fried and one egg boiled, even though its
the same food.
7) It is permitted, during the last meal, to eat a few different types of fruits or
vegetables. Pickled vegetables are considered cooked. One who is stringent and
does not eat salad during this meal is praiseworthy. Cheese is permitted (unless it
has been cooked).
8) Some opinions say that tea and coffee are cooked foods and therefore should
not be eaten in the last meal. It is good to be stringent.
9) It is customary to sit on the floor during the final meal, but one should not
actually sit on the ground, but rather on a carpet or rug.
10) More than two people should not sit together during this meal, so they will
not be obligated to make a zimun. If three people sit together accidentally, they
should still NOT make a zimun.
11) Our Rabbis have said that Rabbi Yehuda Be'rebi Ilai had a custom to eat dry
bread with salt and would sit in a dirty place in the house, drink a bit of water and
imagine that a dead relative was in front of him. One should try to imitate such
behavior and should try to eat as little as possible to sustain one's self through
the fast.
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller
More examples
Four phenomena are pointed out: "The dead body putrefies (RSHI: otherwise, his
kin would keep it, and would forever see their bereavement), the dead one is
forgotten from the mind (the marvelous power of the mind, which is able to
forget), grain rots away (RSHI: else it would be hoarded and a famine would
result), and coins are accepted (in exchange for merchandise)" (Pesachim 54b).
The putrefaction of the human body is more offensive than that of any creature,
and one of the reasons for this is as RSHI explains. In addition is the important

reason of protecting the dignity of Man from the results of viewing the
disintegrating remains. By this fearful sight, men might be unduly impressed by
the idea of Man's transitoriness and would forget that the soul is imperishable;
and therefore the insufferable odor forces them to inter the body while it is yet
intact. Moreover, they noted the powerful impression created by death, when it
seemed that the kin would never recover from the blow of the tragedy; but the
Sages pointed out the Creator's providence that the survivors should be able to
forget: "He heals the broken-hearted and binds up there wounds" (Tehillim
147:3). Thus they recognized that the seemingly negative phenomena
(putrefaction: forgetfulness) are actually important positive provisions. The
apparently harmful phenomenon of the rotting of the grain was recognized by the
Sages as a great benison; for the rich would hoard their produce and refuse to
sell it unless their price was given, and the poor would starve. But now the fear of
imminent decay forces the hoarders to part with their grain at a fair price. In the
phenomenon of coins the Sages discerned G-d's kindness that He caused men to
be willing to exchange valuable things for useless pieces of metal which have no
intrinsic worth. If not for the providential agreement among men to esteem gold
and silver (despite their uselessness), men would be forced to pay a wagon-load
of wheat for a coat; no commerce could be maintained ant there would be none
of the relationships between men which are possible because of currency.
Produced by Cong Bnai Yosef
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Parashat Devarim
A question was asked in the house of study: Neither in the Musaf prayer of
Shabbat nor in the musaf prayer of Rosh Hodesh (the new month) is there a
mention of the destruction of the Holy Temple. However, when Rosh Hodesh falls
on the Sabbath, there is a mention of the destruction. One would assume that
when the new month falls on Sabbath that there would be an even greater joy, so
why is there mention of the destruction? Why do we say, " because of our sins
our city was destroyed and our temple was made desolate and our glory was
taken and the honor was taken from our house?"
The answer to this question can be explained by using an allegory. Imagine a
beautiful palace that was burning down. A passerby watching this seen would
surely be impressed by the grandeur of this palace and in his heart mourn for its
destruction. Someone who had the good fortune of once visiting this palace
would mourn even more because he would know the beautiful works of art and
priceless things that were being destroyed. However, the ones who would mourn
the most would be the owners of the palace. Only they know that what was also
being destroyed were countless certificates and coupons which in themselves
could have been redeemed for enough money to buy 100 more palaces just like
this one!
The same applies to one who mourns over the destruction of the temple. Of
course, there is no Jew that does not mourn a little bit. However, there are
different degrees. The simple Jew prays that his troubles will stop when the tine
of the building of the temple comes. The Jew on a slightly higher level is aware of
all of the spiritual influences which emanate form the temple, and as one's
understanding of the great spirituality of the temple goes up, so does one's
yearning and feeling of loss. Therefore, on a day which is spiritually greater, the
feeling of loss over the temple is also greater.
Therefore on a day which is neither Shabbat nor Rosh Chodesh, but both, one is
spiritually uplifted and feels the loss of the temple more acutely. We also know
that one who mourns more for Jerusalem is merited to have more spiritual tools
to appreciate its rebuilding!
The Torah is a book of life, and it is possible and necessary to learn an eternal
message from each verse. This can be seen from the very first verse in our
parsha. Moshe Rabbeinu gathers the nation in order to summarize the years of
travel in the desert and also to admonish them on their errant behavior. However,
Moshe does not mention the people's sins explicitly. Rather, ho cloaks them in
hints. Why? "For the honor of Israel." (Rashi). How amazing! We learn form here
the proper way to admonish someone. You want to admonish someone? Fine. But
do it in a way in which you guard the honor of that person. Don't use harsh

words, and certainly do not embarrass the person. This is actually a condition in
the mitzvah of admonishing one's neighbor. It say in the Torah," You shall surely
admonish thy kinsman." And we learn: "Can it be that you can admonish even in
a way which embarrasses them? Certainly not, and therefore the Torah continues
and says "and you shall not bear a sin." Rashi explains that this means that you
must admonish with respect. As an aside: If one admonishes his neighbor in an
embarrassing fashion, not only has he transgressed the above law, but his act is
futile. For certainly his admonishment will not be accepted if presented in such a
caustic manner - it will only lead to further estrangement and tension. It is
interesting that Moshe mentioned the sin of the golden calf - ostensibly the worst
of all of the sins committed in the desert - last. The hint which he uses to address
this event is, in Hebrew, "Di Zahav." This is hint to this event because it makes
reference to the gold that was used by the Jews to make the golden calf. Rashi
explains: "He admonished them on account of the golden calf which they made
because of the multitude of gold that they had." However, is it not strange that
Moshe did not pick some other aspect of their sin to emphasize in his hint rather
than a reference to the gold they used. What about their neglect of God and their
rejection of God's yolk? Why does Moshe emphasize that they had too much gold
and it is because of that they sinned?
The answer is that the purpose of admonishment is not to dwell in the past but to
learn from the past. Therefore, Moshe did not mention the actual sin that they
did, but rather what caused them to sin. Indeed, what caused them to sin was an
excess of material things as well as not using their time at Har Sinai
constructively. This was the root of their sin, and this is the lesson that can be
taught to all generations.
All of this takes on added significance when we realize that we are reading them
before Tisha B'av. In the temple, we had everything. It was the place for worship
of Hashem and the source for the influence on all spiritual and materialistic
matters. It was also the opposite of the experience which the Jews had in the
desert around the time of the sin of the golden calf. When Jews had free time and
material abundance, they did not become corrupt and fall into sin. Rather, they
came to Jerusalem to celebrate in the temple. When there was no mandatory
sacrifices to bring and there was still an abundance, they brought their bounty as
a voluntary sacrifice in the temple. They were able to turn material excess from a
potential danger of sin into a spiritual activity.
We must remember that every synagogue is a miniature temple. And in this
manner every man is tested to see whether his mourning over the loss of the
temple is sincere: what does he do with his free time. Does he sanctify his free
minutes to his "miniature temple" or to his "calf." Does he attend sermons at the
synagogue or does he waste his time with frivolous pleasures? When he has a
week of vacation, does he spend it in a Torah way by spending part of the time
resting and rejuvenating his body and the other time learning Torah, or does he
waste his time on excesses and purely material things. For if he chooses the
latter path, how can he dare ask for the rebuilding of the temple? They will
answer him from heaven, " You did not even want to participate in the miniature
temple... now you want the real one!!??"
The Skin
It is not for nothing that the Holy One Blessed Be He created skin to cover the
body of man. Without skin, man would have no protection against germs and

foreign bodies. The skin serves as a protective shield against infection and
bacteria that are likely to endanger the life of man. The skin also protects the
vital body fluids.
The skin is composed of two principal levels: the thin outer layer (the epidermis)
and underneath this lies a thicker, softer layer (the dermis, also called "true
The outer layer itself is composed of two layers one outer (keratin), which has no
veins and nerves. This layer is composed of dead cells, which fall off during
washing without our even knowing.
The question to be asked is- how is it that the skin does not completely
deteriorate when day in and day out dead cells are removed from the skin? Not
only that, the skin we feel today is just like the skin we would feel a few days
This is no wonder. For the lower layer of the outer layer is constantly creates new
cells which rise to the upper layer, are exposed to air, and subsequently dry out.
Underneath these two layers which comprise the outer layer, lies the "true skin."
It is comprised of different nerves which transmit sensations of pain, pressure,
and temperature. It also holds sweat glands, sebaceous glands, and white blood
cells which protect the skin from infection.
There is no end to the kindness of God to his creations. The Holy One Blessed Be
He, even created a protective mechanism for the skin that protects us.
The Laws of Tisha B'av.
Children who have not become Bar or Bat Mitzvah are exempt from fasting on
this day. The same applies to a sick person (even if there is no immediate
danger), and to a sick person who is recovering from an illness.
A mother who has given birth is exempt during her first 30 days after the birth.
However, even those who are permitted to eat should refrain from eating
delicacies and should fast until mid-day.
An elderly person who is feeling week because of the fast may eat even if they
have no specific illness.
3) On Tisha B'av it is forbidden to eat, drink, wash, use ointments, wear leather
shoes, and have marital relations. The prohibitions last from sundown to the time
the stars come out on the next day.
EVERYONE (besides the exceptions mentioned above) is obligated to fast. Anyone
who eats will not merit to see the joy of the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
It is meritorious to refrain from smoking on Tisha B'av, especially during the
reading of Eichah and the Kinot. Of course, it is ideal for health reasons to refrain
from smoking all year round. In this way, one helps fulfill the obligation of
maintaining one's health.
It is forbidden to wash on T"B, even to stick your finger in water. However, to
remove dirt, it is permitted.
When getting up in the morning, one may wash his hands, but only to the ends of
one's fingers. One should not wash one's face directly with water, but rather use
the excess water from the fingers to wipe his eyes and face.
One who uses the bathroom may also wash his hands up until the knuckles at the
end of his fingers.

One who is preparing food for after the fast after mid-day may get their hands
wet because their intention is not to wash for pleasure.
One may not wear a leather shoe or even a wooden show which is covered in
It is forbidden to learn Torah on T"B because it gladdens one's heart, as it says, "
the laws of Hashem are just, they gladden the heart."
However, it is permitted to learn the Midrash on Meggilat Eichah or topics in the
Gemara which deal which the destruction of the temple (Gittin 58). It is also
permitted to learn the book of Job and the prophets who spoke about the
destruction of the temple ( Jeremiah). Also, books which encourage one to do
Tshuvah are permitted. It is permitted to learn the chapter of "Eilu Megalchin" in
Masechet Moed Kattan.
One should know that the obligation to learn Torah is still in effect on T"B. One
should simply learn from that which is permitted.
It is permitted to read all of the sacrifices of the day in the siddur. However one
should not learn "Hok Leyisrael" or seder "Ma'amadot."
One should not greet one's neighbor. For example, one should not say "good
morning" or "how are you?" However, if your friend greets you, you should
respond with a low voice and in a serious manner.
It is the custom not to work in T"B. One who does work will not see financial gain
from that work.
Hashem should hasten our redemption, hurry our savior, and should turn the
"fast of the fifth month" into happiness and mirth!
The Golden Column
Hagaon Rabi Yehezkel Moshe Halevi Z"L Hagaon Rabi Yehezkel
Moshe Halevi Z"L, the author of the book " Yama vakedma", the Rabbi of the city
of Bagdad, was occupied his whole life with mourning over the Holy temple and
the exile of the divine presence. He was distraught by the sons who were "thrown
off their father's table" and would beg the merciful father in heaven to return to
them in mercy.
Not only would he mourn during the day, as he would never show any laughter or
levity, but also at night he did not let himself relax. He would sleep on a short
bed and his feet would hang in the air. In the middle of the night he would rise
wail about the exile of the divine presence and would say "Tikkun Hatzot." His
neighbor would hear him cry as he said the Tikkun. Hagaon R"S Agasi has also
testified that he would get up to wail and cry about the exile and then would
spend the rest of the night learning Torah until the sun rose.
Harav Moshe Chaim Shamash tells a story of the great Rabbi. He once saw Rabi
Yehezkel with a snuff box, and inquired about it, as he knew that Rabi Yehezkel
was not the type of person to indulge in such a habit. Rabi Yehezkel told him that
inside that case he kept ashes which he would put on his forehead in the place of
his Tefillin shel rosh while he said the Tikkun Hatzot, as a sign of mourning for the
destruction of the holy temple.
"Across the Jordan"
The Or Hachaim explains that if one wants to admonish a son or pupil, he should
wait some time with patience before actually doing it. That time will allow the
student's or child's heart to open up to the admonishment. This is the lesson to
be learned form the fact that Moshe waited to admonish the Jews until his

mission as a leader was about to end, as they were waiting on the plains of
Jordan to enter Eretz Yisrael. Moshe waited forty years with patience until he
finally felt it was the right time for words of summary and admonishment.
"11 days from Horev"
Rabbi Ovadiah Seforno explains that the Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years
as a result of the sin of the spies. During every leg of the journey, Moshe would
say to them: "Remember that when you were free from sin, you would be able to
travel a journey of 11 days in three days. now that you have sinned, a journey of
a few weeks has taken 40 years!!" We see from this what a sin can cause. A
righteous person has the help of Hashem and all of his efforts are blessed
whereas many stumbling blocks are placed in front of a sinner.
"Your care, your burden, and your strife"
According to the Ramban, three aspects of the leadership skills that are required
from the leader of the generation are mentioned here:
1) "Your care" refers to the guidance in teaching Torah to the people.
2) "Your burden" refers to dealing with the people's everyday problems and
blessing them and praying for them.
3) "Your strife" refers to resolving legal disputes and dispute over Torah law.
Produced by Cong Bnai Yosef
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Parashat Ve'eschanan
This Shabbat is called "Shabbat Nahamu" based on the beginning lines of the
haftarah. And this is not simply empty consolation, since, as it says in the
midrash, "they sinned doubly, as it says 'a sin did Jerusalem sin.' They were
punished doubly, since it says 'they were punished doubly for all their sins.' And
they receive double consolation, since it says 'be consoled, be consoled my
people.' And one may learn that if the sin is doubled then the punishment is
doubled--as is the consolation."
It seems that they are referring to the Gemara (Shevuot 37) based on the verse
"and the woman said, amen amen." When one says a word twice, it is considered
as a promise. Thus repetition suggests permanence; likewise, there is temporary
and permanent sin. There is temporary and immediate consolation, which lasts
only for a short amount of time, but then there is more permanent consolation
which is referred to by the repetition of the word 'consolation' in the first verse of
the haftarah.
We should remember that before the coming redemption, every change that
occurs should be seen as a change for the better. And the meaning of this
statement may be better seen from a short story. An important man came to a
sandal maker and while waiting for his sandals to be ready engaged in
conversation with the sandal maker. The sandal maker told the man how he had
once been so poor that he had no bread and his wife was extremely afraid. So he
went to see the rabbi, the 'Divre Shemuel' and cried to him about his misfortune.
The rabbi gave the man a gold coin and told him to go to the market, buy a
fattened chicken, and have his wife prepare the chicken. He should then eat the
entire chicken alone - not leaving one bit - and then come back to the rabbi. The
sandal maker was very happy that he would soon be saved from his poor
condition. He went to the market to buy the chicken, and all the people there
laughed at the poor man arriving with a gold coin, and accused him of stealing
the money. He ignored their jeers and brought the chicken and took it to his
home. His wife prepared the chicken and she and the children were very excited
about finally ending their hunger. But when the chicken was ready the many
insisted on eating the chicken himself, pushing his family away with one hand
and eating with the other. His wife and children began crying but the man
insisted that he had to eat the chicken himself. The man went back to the rabbi,
crying about his family and bearing a terrible pain in his stomach. The rabbi
asked the man if he had enjoyed the chicken and he responded that he had not
because of all the tension in his home and his own physical pain. The rabbi then
asked if he ever thought about the problems of the wealthy people and their
pains when he saw them eating to their heart's content. The sandal maker saw
the rabbi's point and decided to remain a sandal maker.

The moral of the story is that one is never happy with his lot and that the grass is
always greener on the other side, except when one receives true and lasting
consolation (like the sandal maker did) which leaves one happy and content for
The ninth of Av is now behind us, and the days of comfort have begun. Yet for
many of us the mourning must continue, for we remain within the thirty days of
mourning after the most recent terrorist attacks in Israel. We should have
thanked Hashem for the lag in terrorist attacks! And we should now pray to
Hashem that nothing like this will happen again. When the angel of Hashem
appeared to Gideon, the savior of Israel, he said "Hashem is with you, great
What he meant was that even though you are a great soldier, you are still in need
of the help of Hashem, because without Hashem you are nothing! You should
know that everything is in the hands of Hashem. If we indeed realize that
Hashem is the one in control and only he has the final say, and if we pray for the
future, then Hashem will help us. Just as it says regarding Yoseph, "And his
master saw that Hashem was with him and everything that he did was
successful" - his success was due to Hashem .
Surely you have seen a spider's web in a corner of your home or in other places.
When insects land on the sticky web they stick and are unable to escape, and
thus the spider is able to capture its prey. How does the spider make the web?
Near the back of the spider is a sort of nozzle which sprays out a stream which,
when in contact with air, turns in to a web.
When a spider falls it may use its web to catch itself from a potentially dangerous
fall. Spiders also use their web-making ability to move from place to place over
relatively great distances, since the wind can catch one edge of a web and send
it great distances which it can then traverse by moving along the web.
As it is written in Proverbs 30, "There are four small things and they are very wise
. . . the spider clambers up with his hands and he is in king's palaces." As the
Mesudat David explains, the reference to hands touches on the spider's weaving
of its web in which it catches flies; even though the spider lives in the king's
palace it prefers to eat what it catches by itself. And we should learn from this
that it is better to enjoy the work of one's own hands than that of others.
Rabbi Raphael Moshe Elbaz zs"l
The Gaon Rabbi Raphael Moshe Elbaz, known as the Rema, was born in Morocco
about 180 years ago, and already from his youth it was realized that he was
destined for greatness. At a young age he decided to cling to the Torah and
studied with his uncle, Rabbi Amram Elbaz. When he was 28 years old he was
ordained by the great scholars Rabbi Amram Elbaz and Rabbi Abisabul, and he
acted as a judge even at so young an age. He later served as a Rabbi, answering
many legal questions, some of which were published in his works. He edited
twenty volumes but only saw a few of them printed in his lifetime. His books
covered many, many topics, from responsa to kabbalah.

The Rema has his own synagogue where he taught his congregation, and he had
many connections to the royal family. On the 22nd of Tamuz 5656 he passed
away, leaving no children, but a substantial legacy of books, and the synagogue
was named after him -- may we benefit from some of his merit.
"Hashem, You have begun to appear..."
The Hid"a wrote that this is an acrostic for "Eliyahu." Moshe hinted here regarding
the way in which Eliyahu ascended heavenward and did not die like most people.
But Moshe himself was buried on the other side of the Jordan River so that his
descendants would one day come and bring him into Israel. This is why Hashem
said to Moshe that he had a great deal, meaning that he was the leader of his
own generation and needed to be concerned with their welfare.
"And Hashem was angry at me for your good..."
The kabbalist Rabi Meir Paprish explained based on the words of our sages (Sotah
14) that Moshe's work was not for naught and that the tabernacle that he built
was not destroyed. And if he had entered Israel and built the Temple then his
detractors would not have been able to stop him. Therefore, Moshe was not
allowed to enter Israel, so that Hashem could pour out his anger on the Temple
and the children of Israel would be saved.
"And Hashem said to me, 'Enough'"
The wise men of Castille explained that Moshe knew that when someone says
"please" in his prayers twice, he will be answered. Therefore, when praying for
Miriam's health, he said, "Please Hashem, please cure her." Here as well, after
Moshe said to Hashem "please let me enter the holy land" Hashem said "enough"
so that Moshe would not say please again and thus force the hand of Hashem.
Next Monday will be the 15th of Av, which is a holiday for all the children of Israel.
Among other reasons for this holiday, it is celebrated because it notes the time
when Jews stopped cutting down trees to bring sacrifices and instead focused on
learning Torah (as Rabbi Gershom says in Gemara Bava Batra 121). And they
state in the Gemara that from this day forth he that learns more will live more.
Therefore, in these coming days of judgment we should all try to learn more
Torah so that we will, with the help of Hashem, live longer and better!
The Gaon Rabbi Kemos Agiv stated that he had a tradition that this day also
marked the death of Rabbi Shimeon ben Levi, whose song "Bar Yohai" was
accepted amongst all of Israel. We cannot rise on this day to his high level of
holiness. For he wanted to move to the land of Israel and he packed up his
belongings to go there but on the way he passed through a community which
desperately needed religious instruction, and so he forfeited his plans of going to
Israel and instead remained with the community to teach Torah. He sacrificed his
personal spirituality for the good of the many.
This should come as a lesson to all of us! The nation is thirsting for Torah, and we
must help to educate the masses even if it means a degree of personal spiritual
sacrifice. Remember, when a father asks one of his sons how he let the other son

drown, the son cannot simply say that his father had warned him against dirtying
his clothes!
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller
Rain; Snow
"Said Rav Hana of Baghdad: The rain 1) waters, 2) slakes the thirst (of the
produce), 3) fertilizes (the earth), 4) imparts lustre (to the fruits), and 5) draws
forth" (Ketuvot 10b). Five benefits of rain are here enumerated; although today
we do not fully understand the exact meaning of all five, but this serves to
demonstrate the interest in studying the Creator's benefactions. The third, the
function of fertilizing, is today understood: the nitrogen and oxygen in the air
could provide an inexhaustible supply of fertilizer, if not for the inertness of the
nitrogen. But a bolt of lightning causes these two gases to unite, and they
dissolve into the rain, which thus brings down nitrates to fertilize the soil.
Concerning the snow, Rava said: "A snowfall is better for the mountains then five
rains" (Ta'anit 3b). Instead of running downhill with little effect, the snow clings to
the mountainsides and melts gradually, bestowing the optimum benefit. This is
reminiscent of David's observation: "He Who gives snow like wool" (Tehillim
147:16): which refers to the fluffy texture of snow which imprisons air just as
does wool, and therefore insulates the earth against frost, thus protecting the soil
bacteria and the invaluable soil-insects. The whit color of snow, like the whiteness
of wool, repels light and therefore retards the melting of snow. Whatever
observations the Sages made were in addition to the observations of the
Scriptures, which were constantly in the mouths of the old generations.
One Who Eats Cake and Rice
In the previous issues of this newsletter we noted that one says the 'mezonot'
blessing before eating rice, since it indeed satisfies man's hunger and satiates
him, and 'borei nefashot' after eating rice, since rice is not included in the five
types of grains.
The Hid"a, in his book "Birkei Yosef" (section 208:107), notes that: "one who eats
cooked rice and says the 'al ha-mihya' blessing afterwards has fulfilled his
obligation. Likewise, one who ate cake and rice, and said the 'al ha-mihya'
blessing afterward, also fulfilled his obligation, since the rice satisfies man's
hunger." Similarly, the Gaon Rabbi Yosef Hayyim wrote in his book "Ben Ish Hai"
(Parashat Pinhas, section 18) that even a priori it is acceptable to do this, and if
he ate a full portion of cake and of rice he may say 'al ha-mihya' alone as a final
blessing and this covers both the rice and the cake. There are some later
authorities who disagree with this ruling and who argue that it is preferable to
say 'borei nefashot' after eating rice and then 'al ha-mihya' on the cake, since
many early authorities believe that one should say 'borei peri ha-adamah' on rice.
And based on this ruling, 'al ha- mihya' does not cover the rice and one should
say 'borei nefashot' in addition to the 'al ha-mihya' which is said after eating the
cake. Still, we do not follow this opinion and saying 'al ha-mihya' covers both the
cake and the rice, as the Ben Ish Hai and the Hid"a state. (See also the opinion of
Rabbi Ovadia Yossef in "Yabi'a Omer" 7:35:2.)

It is clear that this same principle is applicable to the blessing said before eating
food, and therefore one who eats cake and has a plate of rice before him may
simply say the 'mezonot' blessing on the cake and then proceed to eat the rice
without saying an additional blessing.
Still, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef has taught us that this law is not so simple, since
everything that we have stated so far is applicable only to one who first said the
blessing on the cake. If one first says the 'mezonot' blessing on the rice, however,
then he must repeat the 'mezonot' blessing over the cake, since the blessing over
the rice does not cover the cake. Why? As the Beit Yosef wrote in section 206,
one who says the 'ha-ess' blessing on an etrog and then wants to eat an olive
must repeat the blessing, since the blessing on the less-important food cannot
cover the more important food (the olive is considered more important since it is
one of the seven species). Likewise, the blessing over rice cannot cover the more
important cake.
In summary, one who eats cake in addition to cooked rice should first say the
'mezonot' blessing over the cake which fulfills the obligation for blessing over the
rice. After eating, one should say the 'al ha-mihya' blessing on the cake which
again will subsume the rice, since one who erred and said the 'al ha-mihya' after
eating rice instead of 'borei nefashot' fulfilled his obligation. Still, if one says
'mezonot' over rice he must repeat the blessing before eating the cake.
Produced by Cong Bnai Yosef
and the Aram Soba Foundation translated from Maayan Hashavua in Israel
For advertising or dedications call 718-627-9861 between 9-12am daily

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Parashat Ekev
"He Looks at the Land and it Quakes"
When the Rebbe from Bouyan visited Eretz Yisrael he disembarked at Haifa and
was driven to Tel Aviv. Throughout his journey he looked out from the window of
the car at the landscape outside. One of his escorts turned to him and said,
"Teach us, rabbi, what do you see there?" The Rebbe smiled and replied, "It is
written (in our parasha, chapter 11 pasuk 12) 'the land which Hashem your God
looks after; His eyes are constantly upon her, from the beginning of the year until
its end.' - if God always looks at her, I also want to!"
It is known that the amount of newsworthy events that transpire in our little
country in a single week is not matched by much bigger countries in a month.
Nothing remains quiet and stable; everything changes. In all arenas - security,
politics, agriculture, finances, war and peace, strikes, successes and failures,
victories and defeats, business news. Unfortunately, and often to great sorrow,
the news is tragic. There are also rays of light, glimmers of hope.
And all this for one reason: "His (Hashem's)eyes are constantly upon her (the
land of Israel)". There is Divine providence associated with this land, immediate
effects and consequences which are related to our condition. If we are good, it
has a positive influence on the land; and if we are not, there is immediate
reaction. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to strengthen our performance of
mitzvoth in order to increase the good. We must repent in order to minimize the
evil. If we do this, the good will overcome evil and spread light and good fortune.
"Warning! Minefield!"
An old Jew spoke: Many years ago I traveled to sit in the shadow of the Rebbe
from Kloizenberg, of blessed memory. When I arrived, I found him reading the
Torah parasha according to the custom of reading it twice followed by its
(Aramaic) translation. It was an unforgettable experience - he would read a verse,
then explain in to himself in his own words. He reached the verse, "And you will
consume all of the nations which Hashem your God gives you, do not pity them
and do not worship their gods, because this is an obstacle (modern Hebrew:
landmine) to you. " (7:47) and then stopped, cocked his head as if confounded,
and then repeated the verse. Word by word, he read and translated to himself,
and did not cease his amazement and cried "This is incredible! 'Do not worship
their gods - because this is an obstacle to you" - if idol worship were not an
obstacle, would it be permitted?!" A wonderful observation. Why does the Torah
need to give us a reason not to worship idols? Furthermore, does Jewish Law not
tell us that one is not even allowed to save his life by worshipping idols?! One
should rather give up his life!

At the table, later, the Rebbe posed the question and proceeded to answer it over
the course of the following 4 hours! What did he say? What did he answer? "Who
can remember?" sighed the old man.
Therefore, great Jewish scholars have (for the most part) refrained from works of
philosophical nature written by earlier Jewish scholars, such as the Rambam's
"Moreh Nevuchim" (Guide to the Perplexed.), and others. However, there are
wonderful answers to all of the questions, castles built up to the heavens - but
that that may be why they aren't remembered and all that is left is the
While we don't know the answer of the Rebbe from Kloizenberg, but there may be
a simple answer to this question. This answer personalizes the verse to guide
each and every one of us.
Certainly, the sin of idol-worship is the most serious in the Torah, and is
mentioned over 50 times. Even if a true prophet were to command idol worship
for a temporary time-period, he would be cast as a false prophet and killed! But
those who did worship idols ascribed to them divine powers. They claimed that if
a constellation were favored, it would affect its powers on earth for the good - for
wealth, happiness, and health. It could be that people tried it, and it worked for
them. They might have said, "Sure, it's prohibited. But it's worth it because it
does work! Let's do it anyway because we'll benefit from it."
Therefore, God comes and warns, "Do not worship their gods, because this is an
obstacle to you." You should know that you cannot benefit from prohibited
activities - the fruit that you pick will be rotten! 3000 years of bitter experience
have proven this over again: no one benefits from transgressions! In the days of
Nevuchadnezzar they bowed to his idol. They thought to impress him. But the
answer was given in the decree of Haman, with the absolute decree to wipe out
the Jewish people. As it says in the Talmud (Bava Metzia 71):He who lends with
interest will suffer a loss of equity. In the short term, it seems like a gain, but in
the long term there will be a major loss or setback. "One who buys and sells fruit
from the Sabbatical year (which is forbidden to be bought or sold) will end up
having to sell his possessions, his house, eventually himself as a working slave
(Kiddushin 20a). There is no fire without Shabbat violation (Shabbat 119b). In
short: One cannot profit from a transgression. While it may look attractive in the
short term, in the long term it always catches up with you. It's a minefield. This
applies not only to Torah commandments, but to rabbinical ones, as well.
A story is told about a businessman that was careful to close his business during
Chol Hamoed. Once a big sale presented itself on Chol HaMoed at a very high
price. Despite his wife's exhortations to the contrary, the man succumbed to the
temptation of a large profit and completed the sale, profiting greatly. A short
while later, the man was stricken with sudden, unexplainable toothache. He
visited the dentist and was made to undergo several procedures to cure his
toothache. When the bill arrived from the dentist, the man was astounded. The
bill amounted to exactly that amount that he had gained from his transaction on
Chol Hamoed which had given him so much profit. "What have I gained? Not only
did I work hard to get that sale, but I suffered with pain, my family suffered too
with me, and I had to give up all my profit from then." This man learned that
which our rabbis teach us "...and God said: listen to Me, since no one who listens
to me loses!"


based on the halachot of Rabbi Ovadia Yossef Shlit"a
Eating Rice and Vegetables:
Is one who is eats a dish of whole rice with cooked vegetables permitted to make
a blessing of "ha'adamah" on the vegetables before making a "mezonot" on the
rice? We have already explained at length that there is a dispute with regard to
the blessing on whole cooked rice. The opinion of the Rosh was that only on
mashed rice does one make a "mezonot," but when rice is cooked whole it's
blessing is "ha'adamah." The Rif and Rambam, however, did not distinguish
between whole and mashed rice, and it seems that they would say that a
"mezonot" is made even on whole rice. Maran Yossef Karo in the Shulchan Aruch
(208:7) ruled like the Rif and Rambam.
From here we find that if one makes a blessing of "adamah" one would not be
able to make a "mezonot" on the rice, and if one did thus bless the rice one
would therefore have made an unnecessary blessing because according to the
Rosh the rice is included in "ha'adamah" made on the cooked vegetables.
(Although Maran ruled that one makes a "mezonot" on the rice, there is a
principle that we are always lenient when there is a doubt with regards to
blessings and we therefore go against the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch.)
However, there is a solution which circumvents the aforementioned dispute. It is
well known (as many contemporary authorities have written) that when eating
two kinds of food (as in our case), having specific intent not to include a type of
food when making the first blessing will leave intact the requirement for a
blessing on whatever was excluded. So too here, if one specifically excludes the
rice when first making the blessing of "ha'adamah" on the vegetables, one may
subsequently make a blessing of "mezonot" on the rice since it was specifically
left out of the first blessing.
Obviously, the outcome here does not lead one to say a blessing which was not
necessary to begin with, since (as many contemporary authorities have written)
when the purpose for making an additional blessing is to avoid entering into
disputes of the earlier authorities there is no issue of unnecessary blessings.
Therefore, in our case this is true as well, and the purpose of excluding the rice
from the blessing on the vegetables is to avoid the aforementioned dispute
between the Rosh and the Rif and Rambam, and one is therefore permitted to do
so (see HaRav Ovadia Yossef's responsa 'Yabia Omer' section 8 chapter 26).
In Summary: One who is presented with cooked vegetables (such as potatoes,
etc...) and rice should first make a blessing on the rice and then on the
vegetables. If one prefers to first eat the vegetables, one should have intent not
to include the rice in the blessing. This will enable one to subsequently make a
separate blessing on the rice. However, if one did not have such intent one
should not say the blessing on the rice but rather should think the blessing in his
"From the Wellsprings of the Parsha"
'All of the Mitzvah you should be careful to do'
Rabbeinu Ovadiah Seforno of blessed memory wrote: Human beings look to three
areas which determine the successfulness of one's life: 1) life with health and joy,
2) good, successful children, and 3) wealth acquired with honor. There three
areas are promised as a result of doing the mitzvoth. As it says, "All of the

Mitzvah that I command you today you should be careful to do in order that (1)
you live and (2) multiply and (3) you will come and inherit the land of Israel because keeping the Torah and mitzvoth promises happiness in this world aside
from the eternal good in the world to come!
'And now Israel: What does the Lord your God want from you?'
What does it mean when it says, "And now, Israel: What does the Lord your God
want from you? Only that you fear the Lord your God to go in all His ways...." This
injunction is constant; this is what we were created for! Why does it say "And
The Holy Or HaChayim of blessed memory that this verse is mentioned
subsequent to the mentioning the sin of the Golden Calf, after which time we
needed mitzvoth much moreso than prior to that event. This can be compared to
one needing to borrow money. If one is not in debt, one needs to leave only a
small collateral. However one who is in debt and comes to borrow money must
put up much more.
'He is your praise and He is your God'
From the Ramban, of blessed memory, we find this to be an injunction that all
praises should be directed toward God. Upon every object and event we should
say "Blessed is God, baruch HaShem." We should thank and praise him for
everything that happens; for health, for income, for happiness and for family.
"And He is your God," know that all is dependent on Him, and one should not
ascribe one's accomplishments to other causes. It is He who has given you the
wisdom and abilities to succeed, he made you look favorable in the eyes of the
buyers and businessmen, He is responsible for having provided you with
wonderful opportunities. All is from Him, all thanks to Him, and there is none but
Rabbeinu Moshe from Kuzi of blessed memory
Rabbeinu Moshe from Kuzi of blessed memory who was among the medieval
Tosafists took upon himself the mitzvah to rebuke others and circulated among
Spanish communities to awaken people's hearts toward repentance. He had
some kind of Divine assistance, and before coming to any town his arrival was
preceded by earthquakes and the townspeople would have disturbing dreams all to prepare the people to capture his rebuke and listen to his castigation.
Multitudes repented and in particular strengthened their observances of Shabbat
and Tefillin. When Rabbi Moshe from Kuzi indicated his departure from a town, he
was begged to stay in order to teach and guide the citizens in the ways of the
mitzvoth. He therefore decided to compose for them a practical guide book of
laws which, based on Divine inspiration, he Divided into two parts: the first was
positive commandments and the second was negative commandments. He called
this book "Sefer Mitzvoth Gadol" or the Great Book of Mitzvoth. When he finished
this giant composition, he had a revelation from heaven which called to him, "You
left out the most important mitzvah! The (negative) mitzvah in our parasha
(Deuteronomy 8:11): Be careful lest you forget Hashem your God!'"
Rabbi Moshe from Kuzi thought about this and saw that indeed this is an explicit
mitzvah and included it in his book. This is how he wrote it (Mitzvah #68): 'Be
careful lest you forget Hashem your God' - this is a warning that the Jewish
people should not take pride in the fact that God does good for them, and they
should not say that it is their own hard work and good fortune (separate from

God) lest they forget that they owe everything to it says, "Lest you eat
and be sated, and good houses you shall build and sit in them, and your sheep
and cattle shall multiply, and your finances will prosper - and your heart will soar
and you will forget Hashem your God. And you will say to yourself 'by my might
and the strength of my hand did I accomplish all of this.' And you will remember
Hashem your God, because he is the one who gives you the strength to do all
From here there is a warning that one should not take pride in what Heaven
provides, whether it is money, beauty, or wisdom; we must be humble and
modest before man and God, and thank our Creator that has provided us with all.
After including this mitzvah in his book after this Divine dream, Rabbi Moshe from
Kuzi found that this is explicit in the Gemara (Sotah 5a): "From where do we see a
warning against haughtiness (in the Torah)? From here (our parasha): ...and your
heart will become exalted and you will forget Hashem; be careful lest you forget
Hashem your God!"
How great are your creations, Hashem!
Often we find ourselves overcome with feelings of awe and amazement from
some experience that has struck within us deep chords of intrigue. There are also
things we encounter that we completely ignore; even similar events to those that
evoke amazement may go by unnoticed. For example, most people are
astounded upon hearing a canary utter complex humanlike sounds. However, we
should be equally amazed at the human capacity to create words, too. So much
happens in the utterance of a single word but we hardly ever give it a second
thought. We never stop to think about the different component sounds that are
needed to create a single word such as, for example, the word "shalom." Neurons
have to fire from the brain to tell several sets of muscles to coordinate their
contractions in order to produce a coherent pattern of sound. For this word there
is a progression from sounds created by teeth, tongue, then lips. And some words
are so much more complex! We should stop sometimes to think about this, how
words come out of our mouth. Once in a while we should also contemplate what
words should not come out of our mouths, and how to prevent prohibited speech,
gossip, slandering, lashon ha'ra, and taking God's name in vain!
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Parashat Re'eh / "Shabbat Mevarchim" of the Month of Elul
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Parashat Re'eh / "Shabbat Mevarchim" of the Month of Elul
The month of Elul is just about here, and we stand right in front of the gate to the
High Holidays and the decrees which are written during this period. We have in
our hands the golden key to a good life, one of health and fulfillment, the
blessings which will hopefully greet us in the coming year.
We are reminded of an event which occurred not too long ago, in the previous
generation. Whole communities were besieged and the ghetto walls were
erected. Each day, the enemy demanded a certain number of people to be placed
into the wagons of death and travel along the road of no return. As they all did
not know when their turn will come, everybody tried to find some way out, some
way to survive. The rumor began spreading that those employed in the factories
are entitled to government protection, as their labor was necessary for the
functioning of the government. Masses of people stormed to the workhouses,
desperate for work.
Our world may be compared to a giant ghetto, and, tragically, thousands are
taken from us each year. We all know people who, sadly, did not survive this year.
How can we secure protection papers to save us from the harsh decree?
If there was such a method of escape, who would not make every attempt to
seize the opportunity to save his life?
Hazal promised us, "One who increases his Torah - increases his life." Anyone who
joins a Torah class, be it on Shabbat or during the week, is included in the
illustrious category of "one who increases Torah" and is promised to have
increased life, as well. One who sends his children to Torah institutions and
programs offers them the merit of life, as well. All these people will be included in

the promise which Hashem Himself guarantees, and now, Elul, is the time to
secure the fulfillment of this promise.
The saintly Rabbi Rahamim Hai Havitah Hakohen zs"l teaches us a profound
insight in his work, "Minhat Kohen" (26). His comments shed brilliant light on the
opening passuk of this week's parashah.
He begins with a story of a child who suffered from a painful infection on his
hand. He would scratch the irritation furiously which added cuts and bruises to
his hand. The father brought his child to the doctor who warned the patient not to
scratch the infection, as doing so would prolong and intensify the problem. The
child protested. "But it itches, it bothers me so! I cannot help it!" The doctor
shrugged his shoulders and said, "Very well then, do as you wish. Just realize that
if you scratch the bruise it will not heal." Then, the doctor applied some cream to
the bruise and instructed the boy to continue to put the cream on his hand for
the next week so as to prevent further infection. "Ouch!" cried the boy. "The
cream burns!" Again, the doctor shrugged his shoulders and saw them out,
wishing them well. He did all that he could, and now the rest lies in the hands of
his patient.
But the father did not relax as the doctor did. He recognized full well the danger
to his son's health should the boy refuse to comply with the doctor's orders. He
turned to his son and said, "Let's make a deal. If you refrain from scratching your
hand for the entire day, you will receive a pair of roller skates. If you stop
scratching for two days, you will get a new bicycle. When three days pass, you
will get even a better prize. If you apply the cream consistently, we will take you
on a great trip." Ultimately, figured the father, the boy would view following the
doctor's instructions as doing a favor for his father.
The boy refused vehemently. He still insisted that he would still scratch and not
apply the ointment. The father had no choice but to resort to threats and
punishments. "If I catch you scratching your bruise you will get a slap! If you
don't let me put the cream on your hand you will go to sleep without dinner!" The
father turned, as it were, into a cruel tyrant. Did he have a choice? His son's wellbeing is at stake, and the father must do all he can to ensure his son's health.
What exactly is the difference between the father and the doctor? Why did the
doctor behave in such a relaxed and easy-going manner while the father never
let up and tried everything in his power, through incentives and threats? The
answer is simple: the doctor is, for all intents and purposes, a stranger, while the
father is the boy's flesh and blood! He is a loving, caring, and compassionate
father, who looks out for the well-being of his dear son.
This parable helps us better understand the opening verse of our parashah:
"Behold, I place before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, should
you heed the commandments of Hashem, your G-d." Moshe is telling the people,
should you wonder why Hashem punishes you for violating the misvot, should
you ask, what's it to Him if we decide to hurt ourselves by living as we please, the
answer is, "Behold, I place..." - understand that I, your loving father, who longs
for your happiness and good fortune, cannot stand by idly and watch you hurt

When we probe this idea further, we will understand the concept with more
clarity and depth. Where does the father draw the line? How far will his rewards
and punishments to his son extend? Presumably, there would have to be a limit,
based upon the father's financial resources. But even were we to be dealing with
a wealthy and successful father, he would still limit the reward to what is needed
to serve the purpose, and the same could be said regarding the severity of the
punishments which he would administer. Certainly the father would never resort
to violence or other severe behavior if his son continued to scratch his wound.
If so, then we can now better understand the series of blessings and curses set
forth by the Torah at the end of Sefer Vayikra and again in Parashat Ki Tavo.
As severe as these curses are, those calamities which Benei Yisrael will suffer,
Heaven forbid, should they fail to observe the misvot, as terrible as these ninetyeight curses are - they still pale in comparison to the curse of spiritual
contamination caused by these disasters.
And on the other side of the coin, all the wonderful blessings which we are
promised - "You will be blessed in the city, you will be blessed in the field. The
fruit of your womb, the fruit of your field, and the fruit of your animals will be
blessed. You will be blessed when you come, you will be blessed when you
"Hashem will make the enemies which rise up against you fall defeated before
you..." - may all these blessings apply to each and every one of us!! - as great as
these blessings are, they can still not compare to the great fortune and blessing
of misvah observance, a blessing which exceeds all description. The blessings
enumerated in the Torah are but a means of persuasion, an incentive. But true
greatness lies in the fulfillment of misvot and the refraining from committing
If we can internalize this message, we will merit the double blessing, that of the
actual fulfillment of the misvot and the blessings resulting from their fulfillment.
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a
The Berachah For Roasted Rice
Which berachah should be recited over rice made from rice which had been
roasted instead of cooked?
As we have already explained, there is a dispute regarding rice which was cooked
whole. The Rosh rules that one recites "ha'adamah" over such rice, and mezonot
is recited only if the rice was crushed. By contrast, the Rif and the Rambam
maintain that one recites mezonot even if the rice was whole. The Shulhan Aruch
(208:7) rules that the proper blessing is mezonot without any distinction in this
regard between crushed and whole rice. But the Rem"a on the spot rules like the
Rosh, that only for crushed rice one recites mezonot; but for whole rice the
proper blessing is ha'adamah.
The Hid"a, in "Birkei Yosef" (208:3), rules in accordance with the Shulhan Aruch,
and tells that many great authorities practiced this way, as well, and indeed this
view should be followed.

However, there is an opinion which restricts the Shulhan Aruch's ruling to a

situation in which the rice was crushed like cereal, that only then should one
recite mezonot. Despite the fact that common practice is to recite mezonot even
on whole rice, there remains a huge argument on the subject, and we therefore
can follow only that which the Shulhan Aruch discussed explicitly. Therefore, since
he wrote specifically about cooked rice, if the rice was roasted and not cooked
one should recite ha'adamah. This is the ruling of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a.
Nevertheless, if one did recite mezonot on such rice, he has fulfilled his
obligation. (See the work "Be'er Avraham" by Rav Avraham Kimhi shlit"a chapter
1.) This is because Rabbi Yosef Hayim, in his work, "Ben Ish Hai" (Balak 13) writes
that one has fulfilled his obligation if he recited mezonot on any type of food or
drink except for water and salt.
In summary, if one eats rice which was roasted he recites a mezonot, since it was
not cooked.
Rabbi Yosef Ohayon zs"l
This Monday, Erev Rosh Hodesh Elul, marks the yahrseit of Rabbi Yosef Ohayon
zs"l, author of the sacred work, "Avkat Rochel." Rabbi Yosef was one of the great,
sacred leaders of Morocco around a hundred years ago, and was known
everywhere as a saintly and righteous man. He was graced by the Al-mighty with
wealth and was able to dedicate his time towards Torah studies. He acquired a
command of all areas of the Torah, both the hidden and revealed. His
accomplishments granted him a level of "ruah hakodesh" (divine spirit). Throngs
of people would run to his door for his blessings.
His son, Rabbi Siyon Ohayon shlit"a said, "When I was younger, I made a living in
the carpet industry. I purchased carpets from all types of merchants and I sold
them in my store. One day people stormed into my store and stole several
expensive carpets. I went into a panic, as I had bought this merchandise on credit
and still had not paid the merchants. The word of the robbery spread quickly and
the merchants came to demand their money. They threatened to take me to
court and have me sent to jail if I didn't pay my loan or return the carpets.
"I hurried to my saintly father and told him of my trouble. I asked that he pray on
my behalf. Looking at me with his divine inspiration, he said, 'The stolen carpets
are in this-and-this house. Go ahead and retrieve your property!'
"'How can I just show up at a stranger's house?' I asked. 'Surely they will throw
me out.'
"My father wrote an amulet for me and guaranteed that I would be protected as
long as the amulet is with me. I proceeded to the address which he gave me and I
saw the carpets decorating the walls and floor. I rolled them up and brought them
to the store safely."
"Behold, I place before you today"
The Or Hahayim zs"l writes that when a Jew is asked to perform introspection in
anticipation of the High Holidays, his natural reaction is to feel insulted and hurt.
After all, he observes Shabbat, kashrut, and family purity. Why should he be

suspected of Torah violations? For this reason, Moshe reminds him that although
he may be better than the sinners of his time, "Behold, I" - compare yourself to
the sadikim of the generation, not to the its sinners. Then you will realize that you
still have quite a long way to go until you have reached religious perfection.
"I place before you today a blessing and a curse"
Rabbi Ovadiah Seforno zs"l explains that the majority of people belong to the
middle group, whose sins are not severe but whose misvah observance is not
quite perfect. Their prayers are not recited with complete concentration, their
learning is not done with enough consistency, and their mouths are not totally
clean of improper speech. They console themselves by saying that there's no
need to push to the front line in Gan Eden.
But Moshe is not content with this type of approach. He challenges the people,
why should you feel satisfied with this level of observance? You have before you
the opportunity for great blessing, joy, and good fortune!
"Behold, I place before you today a blessing"
Why does Moshe open his remarks with the word, "Behold" ("Re'eh")?
Furthermore, why does he begin in the singular form ("Re'eh") and then switch to
the plural form ("lifneichem")? Rabbi Yaakov Ba'al Hatuirm zs"l explains that
normally, when people draw lots, and each person is asked to take his slip of
paper, the information on the paper is concealed, so as to ensure that the lots are
drawn by random. But Moshe emphasizes to the people, "Behold!" - look with
your own eyes, everything is open and revealed. Choose the berachah, the
blessing which results from misvah observance. And keep away from the curse,
which will result from a lack of Torah observance.
If only the entire nation would choose the berachah and reject the kelalah
Every so often, volcanoes erupt and spew forth rocks which have been melted by
intense heat, leaving a path of destruction behind them. When these rocks are
thrown from the volcano in liquid form, they form a substance called lava. The
temperature of the lava can reach 1200 degrees centigrade. Deep inside the
ground, the temperature is exceedingly hot. This heat generates underground
pressure which eventually forces its way out. When the pressures find a relatively
weak spot in the outer layer of the surface of the Earth, they burst from that spot.
These bursts cause earthquakes and volcanoes. One famous volcano in Italy
erupted several times, and once it erupted continuously for eight day, covering
hundreds of kilometers with lava. The city of Pompei was covered by a layer of
ashes several meters high. It is written in Midrash Tehillim that when Benei
Yisrael follow the will of Hashem they are blessed with the fulfillment of the
verse, "The land on which the eyes of Hashem are placed," but when they fail to
follow the path of Hashem, we may, Heaven forbid, witness another verse: "He
[Hashem] looks at the land and it trembles, He touches the mountain and it fills
with ash."

"Nahum Ish Gam Zu"

Many of us are familiar with the tale of Nahum Ish Gam Zu, the teacher of Rabbi
Akiva. He was a saintly man who suffered from many ailments - his was missing
both his hands, he was lame in two feet, he was blind, and his skin was covered
with painful boils. Why did all this pain come about? Because he decreed it upon
himself. Once he was walking along the road with a donkey which was carrying
food. As he traveled, a poor person came and began taking some of the food
from the donkey and eating it. Nahum told him, "Just wait until I unload the
donkey." As he was unloading, the beggar died from hunger. Nahum fell and
cried, "My hands which did not have compassion for your hands - should be cut
off! My legs which did not have compassion for your legs - should be lame! My
eyes which did not have compassion for your eyes - should be blinded!" He was
not comforted until he decreed upon himself that his body become afflicted with
What a frightening episode, especially when seen from a spiritual perspective.
There are so many of our brothers who are putting their hands out to us, begging
for spiritual sustenance, a Torah class, to become closer. Some of us tell them,
"Wait until I unload my packages, until I complete myself, until I finish my own
learning." In the meantime, the opportunity may quickly pass, and the seekers
can be very easily swept away and lost forever. How can one who learns Torah
remain calm and passive, how can he excuse himself, and what will he tell his
Creator when he is accused, "The voice of the blood of your brother cries out
from the land!" - his blood and that of his offspring! Three months ago the Rishon
Lesiyon shlit"a requested, during a convention in preparation for Shavuot and
Kabbalat HaTorah, that each individual take it upon himself to bring one person
closer to observance. One person should help another, but not a perfunctory,
temporary exposure to observance, but a consistent process of guidance and
direction, that each of us should listen to and understand the heart of the other.
This process involves lending an ear to listen to his problems, to direct him along
the path of halachah, step by step, over a whole year. Every son of Hashem
should bring one person closer and return him to his father. This one project can
achieve incredible results. So many merits can be brought about for both people,
and so much blessing will descend. What have we done in this regard? Have we
listened to the sadik's request, have we begun fulfilling his instruction? If not, it is
worth our while to get going, so that we have something to bring with us to our
Father in Heaven this Rosh Hashanah!
from Rabbi Avigdor Miller
An appropriate opportunity for this study is the Shabbat-repast. "One who makes
the Shabbat pleasurable, is given an estate which has no bounds" (Shabbat
118a), for this is an achievement which has no bounds. Not only is the Oneg
induced by food and drink; but also by the contemplation of the food and drink.,
which greatly enhances the delights of the Shabbat. But the paramount
achievement of Oneg Shabbat is the sensory awareness of the Goodness of
Creation. Thus we sit at the Shabbat-table and look at the Shabbat lamps. What a
miraculous phenomenon! Slow oxidation produces no visible light, but the rapid
oxidation of the wick and the paraffin or oil produces the spectacular
phenomenon of light. How light can result from chemical metamorphosis is an

unsolved mystery; but even if we understood, it would still constitute a glorious

form of kindliness which the Creator bestows on Mankind. It is for this
reproduction of daylight that we give thanks to the creator on every Saturday
night when we light the Havdalah flame.
Produced by Cong Bnai Yosef
and the Aram Soba Foundation translated from Maayan Hashavua in Israel
For advertising or dedications call 718-627-9861 between 9-12am daily

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Parashat Shoftim
"You Shall Listen to Him"
"A prophet, like myself [Mosheh], Hashem will establish for you - you shall listen
to him." Mosheh promises the nation that there will never be a lack of

communication-lines between God and His people. There will always be those
who will teach the people the ways of Hashem and guide them along the path of
proper observance. Rabbeni Behaye, in his work, "Hovot Halevavot" (in "Sha'ar
Hateshuvah" ch. 6), writes that this promise is an eternal one, and not a single
generation exists without this guarantee. Hazal say, "By the time Mosheh's light
was extinguished, the light of his student, Yehoshua, was ignited. By the time Eli's
light was extinguished, Shemuel's light was ignited. By the time Eliyahu's light
was extinguished, Elisha's light was ignited. On the day on which Rabbi Akiva
died, Rabbi Yehudah the Prince was born..." Similarly, the mantle of leadership is
held in every generation in every location - there will always be one who calls to
his God and His service, one who teaches His Torah.
We are guaranteed by the Almighty Himself that not only will there never be a
generation - or even a short period of time - with a lack of Torah scholars with a
clear view of the Torah's meaning, who bring the nation closer to its Creator, and
who rule on issues of halachah, but there will be Torah leaders in every period
and in every land. We see with our own eyes, in our generation, that great Torah
leaders have risen in every Jewish community throughout the world, who lead
and guide their constituents along the path of the Torah. We are commanded,
"You shall listen to them," to follow the guidance of the leaders of each
generation. They are the emissaries of God, and He assists them in their
leadership and guidance of the nation. Let us heed their words and instruction,
and thus be worthy of the promise, "Whoever consults the elders - succeeds."
"Who are You, the One Who Fears?"
Two hundred and fifty-five years ago, the great Rabbi Hayyim Abualefia zs"l, who
reinstated the Jewish settlement in Tiberias, led a flourishing community which
was granted the protection of the sheik Daahir Al Emaar, who fortified the walls
of the community. His assistance and support for the Jews was met with great
displeasure by the governor of Damascus, who feared the formation of a new
independent force within the region of his jurisdiction. He set out to Tiberias with
a huge army, with the intention of conquering it and destroying its fortification.
The Jews of Damascus frantically sent the message to the revered rabbi asking
him to escape from Tiberias with his community and their possessions, as they
were guaranteed protection by the authorities in Ssefat. The rabbi refused to
abandon the city, "...and he trusted in the God who wishes for the good of the
Land of Israel, that the merit of all the ssadikim, tannaim, and amoraim buried in
this country will protect the people and the entire land."
The siege began and the canons started pounding the region. The attackers set
upon the city " destroy, demolish, wreck, and sack, day and night. But the
wonders of Hashem were too numerous to be counted, for not a single house was
destroyed and not a single life was lost, despite the fact that a single canon had
the capacity to destroy several homes." Most of them fell into the Kinneret, some
landed on and were buried in the ground, and still others exploded in the air.
"And at the moment when the attackers launched destructive stones, Rabbi
Hayim Abualefia zs"l held in his hand a staff upon which was written the holy
names of God, and as he pointed his staff toward the rockets they fell into the
Kinneret Sea and did no damage to anybody in Tiberias. And if two people
traveled together, the stones would pass in between their shoulders or their feet.
And when the gentiles in the city witnessed the Hand of God fighting on behalf of
Israel, they refused to listen to the general battling against Tiberias who
demanded that they destroy the wall and the tower, and he did not succeed."

After a long and frustrating siege, one which produced no result and caused
many fatalities, the governor gave up and returned to Damascus. Great joy and
celebration overtook the besieged people, they sang Hallel and recited the
prayer, "Nishmat kol hai..." The fourth of Kislev was instituted as a day of
festivities and celebration.
But the story does not end here. This mistake continued to haunt the governor,
and he soon became the laughing-stock of those around him. People wondered,
how did he lose? With all his artillery, large number of soldiers, and sophisticated
arsenal of weapons, how was he unable to defeat a lone city under siege? He felt
compelled to regain his pride, and he swore to return to Tiberias and not return
until the city was destroyed. Once again, the rabbi was warned to escape, and,
again, he refused.
In the month of Av, the general left Damascus with a huge army which included
the armies and weaponry of Aco. He ensured that the villages surrounding
Tiberias would not offer any military support to the sheik. He then set up an
embargo to siege the city from the sea. This time, he thought, the siege would
final and definitive. On Erev Shabbat of Parashat Shoftim, the governor's army
reached the village of Lubia, adjacent to Tiberias, and on Shabbat they were to
have begin building the siege around the city itself.
On Friday night, after dinner, the community gathered around in the rabbi's home
with a sense of dread. His son sat at the table preparing the next day's haftarah
reading: "I [Hashem], I am the One who comforts you, who are you, the one who
fears from a human, who will die, and from a person, who will be like grass." The
next day, the rabbi spoke in the synagogue as usual, and elaborated on the
verse, "Listen, Israel, you are coming today to do battle against your enemies.
Let your hearts not soften, do not fear, do not worry, and do not panic because of
them. For Hashem, your God, walks among you to fight for you against your
enemies to save you!" Passionately, he cried, "Who are you, the one who fears
from a human, who will die! Even if the enemy currently resides in Lubia - he will
not approach this city and will not build a siege around it. You have my absolute
Shabbat was the fourth of Elul, as it is this year. On Sunday, the fifth of Elul, the
governor took ill. On Monday his condition worsened and on Tuesday, the seventh
of Elul, he died and the plans for the siege were aborted. "Then, the people
rejoiced heartily and the joy permeated throughout the community. The rabbi
spoke on that Shabbat of the miracle and they recited Hallel as they had done
originally, and they accepted upon themselves to observe the seventh day of Elul
as a day of joy and celebration, for on this day the governor perished. So may all
Your enemies be destroyed, Hashem. So may You show us the great salvation
with the coming of the Moshiah speedily, and in our days, amen, and so may it be
Your will" (from the work, "Zimrat Ha'aress" which was composed in honor of this
We are promised that these miracles will occur, if only we follow the word of God
as transmitted by His prophet, "I, I am the one who comforts you! Who are you,
the one who fears from a human who will die - and you have forgotten Hashem
who created you, who spreads forth the heavens and establishes the land!"
If we do not forget Hashem - we are guaranteed that He will not forget us!


Based on the Rulings of Harav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a
Rice Eaten Together With Other Foods
When one has before him rice mixed with other foods (such as carrots), the
Rambam maintains that he recites the blessing on the other item with fulfills his
requirement for the rice. The Rif, however, distinguishes between a case when
the rice constitutes the majority of the dish, where one would recite the blessing
over the rice and thereby fulfill the requirement for the other food, and a case
where the other food is the majority, where one should recite the berachah over
the other food. The Shulhan Aruch (208:7) rules in accordance with the Rif, so if
the rice is the majority, then one recites the blessing over the rice and thus fulfills
his obligation for the other foods.
In any event, this demonstrates the fact that although the blessing for rice is
mezonot, we do not afford to it the same importance as we do to the five species
of grain, regarding which one always recites mezonot, even if they constitute the
minority ingredient in a dish (so long as they contribute taste to the dish).
If the rice is mixed with meat, we should, it seems, take into consideration the
two critical factors stipulated by the Mishnah Berurah (212:1): 1) which ingredient
constitutes the majority component, and 2) which is the more significant
ingredient. In our case, the meat is clearly the more significant ingredient, and
thus we would have come to the conclusion that one should recite the blessing
over the meat and thereby fulfill his obligation for the rice, as well. However, the
Rishon Lessiyon Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a (in a responsum cited in "Yalkut Yosef"
vol. 3 p. 535) quotes a comment by the Ritva in Hilchot Berachot (1:29) that
although rice does not fall under the category of "dagan," grain, nevertheless it
does contain a unique stature and importance, as it represents a significant
source of sustenance for many people. Therefore, one would recite the blessing
over the rice and thereby fulfill his obligation regarding the meat.
However, it goes without saying that were the meat to constitute the majority of
the mixture, then one would have to recite the blessing for the meat, and not for
the rice, as the Shulhan Aruch (cited earlier) notes explicitly, that no matter how
unique a stature we afford to the rice, its blessing does not take precedence
when it is the minority ingredient. This unique status comes into play when the
rice is the majority, in which case we rule that although the other ingredients
may be of greater significance than the rice, the blessing for the rice wins out.
According to this discussion, if one eats with meat food with rice stuffing, he
should recite a mezonot, as the rice is considered the main ingredient.
In summary, if one eats rice mixed with carrots, if the carrots are the majority
then he should recite the blessing over the carrot and thereby fulfill his obligation
as far as the rice is concerned. If, however, the rice is the majority, then he
should recite the blessing over the rice. The same applies if one eats rice
together with meat.
Rabbi Shalom Sseror zs"l of Algiers

In our parashah, we are commanded to appoint righteous and just magistrates,

judges who will be assisted and guided by the Almighty to rule properly, in
accordance with the halachah. Many years ago, in Algiers, a man wished to
divorce his wife but could not afford to pay her ketubah. He therefore hired two
false witnesses to testify that she had been unfaithful, so that she would lose
rights to her ketubah. The witnesses came to the court and presented the case.
As the court interrogated them, they found no contradictions in their story. The
poor woman cried and denied the allegations, and, with tears running down her
face, she swore that the accusation is false. Whereas most of the court paid no
attention, Rabbi Shalom Sseror zs"l, head of the court, listened to her and
thought to himself, "She seems to be telling the truth." Despite the clear
evidence against the woman and lack of evidence to support her contention, the
rabbi said that he wanted to look into the matter further. Day after day, the
husband would come to court to ask them to pass the ruling against his wife, but
the rabbi refused each time. Finally, the husband put his influence to work, and
had the leaders of the community approach the rabbi and express their wonder
at his inaction. Still, the rabbi ignored them.
One day, a wealthy man from the city of Blaida came before the rabbi and
claimed that he had paid one of the residents of Algiers for some wool but had
not received the merchandise. He presented he contract to the rabbi, and the
rabbi noticed that the member of his community being brought to trial was one of
the witnesses against the woman. The rabbi examined the contract carefully and
noticed that the witness had signed the contract in Blaida at the same time at
which he had claimed to have witnessed the woman's infidelity. The witness was
immediately called to clarify the issue of his sale of wool. The man explained that
the authorities did not allow him to take wool from the city. He verified the entire
transaction, including the location of the signing of the contract. The rabbi then
asked, "If, indeed, you were in Blaida at the time, how did you dare testify against
one of the daughters of Israel!?" The rabbi scolded him harshly, the plot was
disclosed, and the entire community saw that Hashem resides among the judges
of Israel!
"You shall appoint judges and law-enforcers in all your gates"
Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra zs"l notes that the previous parashah ends with the
missvah to travel to the Bet Hamikdash on Yom Tov, to visit the place of the
kohanim, the High Court, the high priest, and the leaders of the nation. Then
comes our parshah, which opens with the reminder that this is not enough;
competent authorities must be appointed in every locale.
This bears practical application for us. Despite the fact that we are bound to our
Torah leaders and visit them on occasion, a rabbi must be present in every
synagogue, to rule halachah, to teach a shiur, and to provide the day-to-day
connection to the Almighty.
"Do not turn judgment"
This expression requires some explanation. How does one "turn" judgment? A
person can turn to a different path, he can turn his body to one side, but how
does he turn a court ruling? Can one alter the truth? What's done is done! The
Hid"a explains that indeed, one can alter judgment. A judge who has an

inclination in a certain direction will alter his course of thinking in the direction
which will yield evidence for that claim, and this evidence will get priority. The
judges were therefore instructed to retain their objectivity, the way Bet Hillel
would open their arguments with the rulings of Bet Shammai, in order to balance
their perspective.
"You shall be whole-hearted with Hashem your God"
Rabbenu Efrayim zs"l notes that the words, "tamim tihyeh" ("you shall be wholehearted") has the same numerical value as "Tishrei." Meaning, we are to ensure
to do proper teshuvah during the month of Elul so that we are "whole" - complete
and free of blemish - by the time the month of Tishrei - which features the Yamim
Noraim - rolls around.
Some note that whereas a righteous person is "tam" (whole), a wicked person is
the reverse - "meit" (the result of the reversing the letters of "tam") - dead. "Tam"
begins with the last letter of the alphabet, and the second (and last letter) is
"mem" - the middle letter of the alphabet. The righteous person always looks
ahead to the future, always gives priority to the "last letter," to what lies ahead
for him in the future. He thus operates accordingly in the present and avoids
doing that which will lead to trouble in the future. But the sinner concentrates on
the present, always seeks immediate gratification, and falls into his own trap
later on down the road.
The Beaver
The beaver is a rodent which lives in Europe as well as the American Continent, in
both water and dry land. We may very well consider the beaver the best architect
in the animal kingdom. It builds its nest in rivers and lakes, from wood, small
stones, and mud. After it completes the construction of its house, it then creates
a dam to raise the water around nest. In this way it protects itself from its
enemies and at the same time allows for passageways underwater which do not
freeze in sub-freezing temperatures. The construction of the nest and the dam is
not easy by any means. To cut the wood the beaver uses its exceptionally sharp
teeth, as its front teeth never stop growing. If the beaver would not use its teeth
constantly to cut wood, the front teeth would grow slow long the beaver would be
unable to close its mouth. After the wood is cut - and the logs can be as long as
3.5 meters - it is dragged into the water. For this purpose, the beaver has to dig
several long water channels to help them carry beams. In America, channels 300
meters long were found. The beaver feeds off the bark of the wood, and from the
rest of the wood it builds its homes and dams. One dam found in America was
600 meters long!
The beaver's work symbolizes consistency and diligence. We are to learn from
this great creature, that "So long as the candle is lit, we must continue to build
and fix."
Produced by Cong Bnai Yosef
and the Aram Soba Foundation translated from Maayan Hashavua in Israel

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Parashat Ki Tesse
We find ourselves right in the middle of the month of Elul -the Days of Awe are
just around the corner. Everything regarding the coming year will soon be
determined. How have we been preparing ourselves for such an awesome and
frightening experience?
Let us remind ourselves of the advice offered by Rabbi Yisrael of Salant zs"l to his
students: the most critical preparations for the Days of Awe involve the small
mistakes, those seemingly insignificant errors which we all make. It is regarding
these "minor" transgressions for which we will be asked, "These were so easy to
avoid - how did you still manage to make the mistake? How could you have gone
wrong on such a simple matter?"

Let us therefore pay extra attention to these simple matters: reciting "birkat
hamazon" (grace after meals) with more concentration, understanding the words
we say during prayers, placing specific emphasis on the first verse of "shema"
and the first paragraph of "Amidah." Let us make more of an effort to attend
Torah classes and be more careful regarding the laws of "lashon hara"
(inappropriate talk about others). Let us increase our performance of small acts
of kindness and generosity, specifically regarding our family and friends. Let us
make a special effort to pray with a minyan on a consistent basis.
The Ben Ish Hai, the anniversary of whose death occurs this week, applies this
concept to a verse in Shir Hashirim, "Grab for us foxes, small foxes who destroy
vineyards." Specifically the "small" transgressions which seem insignificant to us
threaten to destroy, Heaven forbid, the entire vineyard. We know that the Temple
was taken from us as a result of our inability to properly get along with one
another, a sin which, tragically, we take so lightly. Therefore, in the coming
weeks, let us be extra careful in the smaller matters, and thereby merit a good
and blessed year, replete with the blessings of the Al-mighty.
The sun, moon, and stars were not created for their light alone. Eclipses - the
absence of the light of these luminary bodies - serve an important function, as
well. In fact, this function is listed in the passuk before their responsibility to
provide light to the world: "And Hashem said, 'Let their be luminaries in the
heavens...and they will serve as signs,'" which, as Rashi explains, refers to
eclipses which are seen as a bad sign for the world, "...and they shall be
luminaries in the heaven," understood by Rashi as referring to the light which
they provide.
This Tuesday night there will be a full lunar eclipse in Israel. As mentioned, Rashi
writes that such a phenomenon forebodes badly for the world, and Rabbi Meir
(Masechet Sukkah 20) says that the eclipse is a specifically bad sign for the
Jewish people, Heaven forbid. Why? Rabbi Meir explains that just as when a
teacher walks into the classroom with his discipline-rod the student who is
accustomed to being slapped begins to worry, so must we - who are accustomed
to being punished - be the most concerned when the divine whip appears on the
scene. The Maharsha adds that the student who is reprimanded the most is the
indolent student, the one whose talents are great and, therefore, so are the
expectations. Similarly, the Jewish people are granted the potential to achieve
great spiritual heights. Therefore, when we fall short, the disappointment is
greater, and, consequently, so is the punishment. The Gemara continues that the
lunar eclipse, asopposed to the solar eclipse, represents an especially negative
sign for the Jewish people, as our calendar is based upon the moon, not the sun.
Our rabbis have asked, how could the Gemara see an eclipse as a threatening
and foreboding phenomenon? After all, natural causes produce the eclipse, and
we can predict precisely when it will occur. The author of "Iyun Yaakov" zs"l
answers that indeed, certain times of the year are cut out for blessing and
goodness and other times are set aside for the opposite. The month of Adar is
specifically identified as a month of joy and salvation; Nissan is seen as the
special month of redemption; the month of Av is certainly not a month of joy. In
fact, a Jew should not go to court against a gentile during the month of Av. The
Ar"i revealed to us a whole series of dates on which one should not conduct
business. It is not surprising, then, that the period of an eclipse is marked by

Heavenly prosecution against us, Heaven forbid. Hazal did us a great favor by
revealing this to us, allowing us to refrain from dangerous activities during this
period, just as a physician advises his patient how to take care of himself during
an illness.
Even if we behave properly and follow the correct road, we must make a special
effort to avoid any form of inappropriate behavior. Rashi writes in the
aforementioned passage, "When you perform the will of the Al-mighty, you need
not worry from disaster [during the eclipses]." Hazal have taught us specifically
regarding what we need to be careful: "Because of four things eclipses occur false tale-bearers, false witnesses, those who raise small cattle [and allow the
sheep to destroy other people's property], and those who cut down good trees
[meaning, fruit-bearing trees, an act which demonstrates his lack of appreciation
to Hashem]."
What is the common denominator of these four violations? Each of them, in its
own way, constitutes an "eclipse" of its own, a transformation of light into
darkness. There is no greater eclipse of light than by darkening one's reputation
through false rumors, allegations, and testimonies. Similarly, sending one's sheep
into the property of another, ruining his trees for some immediate need, chopping
down a tree and showing disrespect for the great kindness of our Creator - all
these activities serve to eclipse our value system. When an actual, astronomical
eclipse occurs, there opens, as it were, room for the prosecutor to bring us to
task for these moral eclipses.
We stand here and wonder to ourselves - how will we survive this scrutiny?
Cutting down fruit-trees - rejecting the blessings of Hashem - is not one of the
defining characteristics of an affluent society the disrespect shown toward food,
an attitude shunned in previous generations. Those who raise small cattle - a lack
of concern and respect for the property of others and not honoring his individual
rights. Perhaps worst of all, the spreading of false rumors and allegations.
The continuing battles being fought through mass media, words transmitted
verbally and electronically - who can possibly begin to imagine the amount of
degradation, humiliation, scorn and contempt which is continually passed
through these means of communication? False rumors, created from thin air,
substantiated by false testimonies with no sense of common decency and
concern for others - and all this captures the attention of a more-than-eager
Perhaps the eclipse thus arrives at the perfect time, to turn our attention to the
moral eclipses which occur in our lives on a daily basis. Indeed, this is the most
appropriate time, the days of "selihot," a time which calls for intense
introspection, specifically regarding these four points.
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a
Bread Made from "Kitniyot" (Legumes)
When one eats bread baked from ground rice, he recites a mezonot before eating
and borei nefashot afterward. However, the Rishonim (early Medieval
commentaries) are in dispute regarding bread baked from other forms of kitniyot.
The Rif and the Rambam draw a distinction between rice and other kitniyot, and
the blessing for bread from kitniyot is shehakol, not mezonot. The reason given
relates to Rabbenu Yonah's comments regarding bread made from beans,

namely, that generally speaking legumes are eaten whole or cooked. Rarely are
they ground into flour for baking purposes. Therefore, we may safely assume that
the farmer who planted these kitniyot had intended for them to be eaten whole
or cooked. Therefore, the blessing is shehakol, as the Shulhan Aruch rules that
one recites a shehakol when eating a cooked fruit or vegetable if that item is
generally eaten raw. Here, too, since the farmer presumably had intended for the
kitniyot to be eaten whole or cooked, the proper blessing for the bread is
shehakol. Regarding rice, on the other hand, there appears in the Gemara the
opinion of Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri that rice is to be considered a species of grain.
Although we do not follow this view, the existence of such an opinion
demonstrates the unique stature of rice over other kitniyot, and therefore bread
baked from rice - but not other kitniyot - requires a mezonot.
This is the opinion of the Rif and the Rambam.
The Rosh and Rabbenu Yonah, however, argue that no distinction should be made
in this regard between rice and other kitniyot, and bread baked from all kitniyot
requires a mezonot. They contend that kitniyot satiate the appetite just as rice
does, and therefore bread made from kitniyot requires a mezonot. (Although the
Bet Yosef raises a question whether the Rosh distinguishes between millet and
other kitniyot, the "Bi'ur Halachah" cites the Tosafot Harosh which states
explicitly that no distinction should be drawn. The Bet Yosef did not have access
to the Tosafot Harosh, for it was printed only several generations later.)
The Shulhan Aruch (208:8) rules in accordance with the Rif and the Rambam,
against the Rosh, and thus bread made from any form of kitniyot other than rice
requires a shehakol, and not a mezonot.
In summary, when one eats bread made from rice, millet, or other kitniyot, he
recites the blessing of "shehakol nihyah bidvaro," as the Shulhan Aruch rules. If
the individual mistakenly recites a mezonot over such bread he has still fulfilled
his obligation, for the halachah states that if one mistakenly recites a mezonot for
any food other than water and salt he has fulfilled his obligation.
The "Ben Ish Hai" zs"l
This Monday, the 13th of Elul, marks the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi
Yosef Hayim zs"l, known as the "Ben Ish Hai." He was the greatest leader of his
generation for whom it is better to praise with silence rather than do injustice to
his greatness. He was an incredible genius with command over both the revealed
and hidden areas of the Torah, Jewish law, Midrash, in both scope and depth, and
offered many novel interpretations. It is no wonder, then, that he merited
beholding exalted visions and was graced with a degree of "ru'ah hakodesh"
(divine intuition).
Several months before his passing the leaders of Yerushalayim wrote him a letter
inviting him to accept the position of Rishon Lessiyon in place of Rabbi Yaakov
Shaul Elishar zs"l. In his response, the great rabbi wrote to his student, Rabbi Ben
Siyon Hazan zs"l of Yerushalayim, that he cannot accept the offer. He requested
that his student present the letter to the rabbi who suggested the idea, and, if he
was not available, the letter should be given to a different rabbi, who also came
up with the idea.
Rabbi Ben Siyon took the letter and proceeded to the rabbi. He was told that the
rabbi had left the city due to unforeseen circumstances and would not return for

some time. Rabbi Ben Siyon therefore took the letter to the second rabbi. When
Rabbi Ben Siyon discussed this matter with his peers, they concluded that this
must be a revelation of "ru'ah hakodesh," that the Ben Ish Hai new in advance
that the first rabbi would be out of town. Rabbi Ben Siyon wrote to the Ben Ish
Hai about the conversation he had with his peers. With great humility, the rabbi
outright denied the claim that he had merited ru'ah hakodesh and added, "Not
only am I not capable of ru'ah hakodesh, but Hazal write that once the Bet
Hamikdash was destroyed ru'ah hakodesh was annulled and given to the infants and this level is beyond me, even in my old age!"
In conclusion, we cite a different piece from the same letter which relates to this
time of year: "You should know that I am writing you this letter during the days of
teshuvah, during which each minute is as important to me as an entire month!"
"When you build a new house"
The Hid"a zs"l explains this verse in a manner relevant tothis time of year, our
repentance during the month of Elul. A person takes his religious inventory and
realizes his mistakes, seeing all the houses of vanity which he has built over the
year. He performs teshuvah, tearing down these houses and building a new,
eternal house. If he sincerely wishes that his new house remain strong and erect,
that he will never again return to his sinful ways, then " shall build a fence
around the roof" - he should build for himself guidelines and precautionary
measures to prevent him from sinning, and then he can feel confident that he will
retain his teshuvah!
"For the one who falls will fall from it [the house]"
Rabbi Azaryah Pigo zs"l, in his work, "Binah L'itim," explains that the verse here
responds to those who wish not to construct the fence around the roof, figuring
that one who deserves to fall off should, in fact, fall. Such an individual may
think, what difference does it make if I build a fence? If Hashem decreed that the
person should fall he will fall even with the fence; and if the decree was for him
not to fall than he is safe even without a fence! Thus, the Torah tells such a
person that although this is true, he should not get himself involved in these
calculations. Let the person fall "from it," meaning by himself, and you should not
take part in his downfall.
"When you encamp against your enemies"
The Or Hahayim zs"l explains that there are some serious transgressions, less
serious transgressions, and smaller violations for which one generally is not
punished. However, the prosecutor in heaven is particularly adept during times of
danger. Therefore, says the Torah, "When you encamp against your enemies" during times of danger, "you shall be careful from all bad things" - which includes
even the smallest violations and mistakes, for during these times we must take
extra precautions. Thus, we who have found ourselves in danger for so many
years, how careful we must be to avoid even the slightest misdemeanors!
Antelopes and Mountain Goats
The antelope family includes the mountain goats, those which can be found in
the region of Judea, near the Dead Sea, and in the "Aravah," particularly near

springs and rivers. These goats feature very long horns which can be a meter
Although they do not run very well, they are blessed with the ability to jump and
skip far away. They can jump two meters high in the air and skip even farther.
This allows them to climb rather easily through the mountain ranges, as the verse
states, "High mountains for the mountain goats." The antelopes found in the
Negev region (antelopes have smaller and simpler horns) are much quicker,
running sometimes as fast as sixty kilometers per hour. A certain species of
antelope found in Africa can run as fast as eighty kilometers per hour and can
skip as much as nine meters in a single bound. This allows them to escape from
their enemies, the animals of prey.
Although these animals feature the signs of kashrut - the have split hooves and
they chew their cud - we do not eat them as we have no tradition of eating them
from our predecessors.
"Do Not Take Interest!"
Heavy loans weighed down upon the residents of Jerusalem, debts which
continued to pile up according to the high interest rates charged by the Arab
money-lenders. The impoverished community found no way out, so they sent
their two spiritual leaders, Rabbi Yom Tov Algazi and Rabbi Yaakov Hazan zs"l, on
a trip outside Israel to collect money to cover the debt and assist in establishing
the community and its Torah scholars. Wherever they went they were greeted
with reverence, as their reputation of scholarship and piety preceded them. Such
was the case when they arrived in Frankfurt, where the Hatam Sofer and Rabbi
Dan Guggenheim paid personal attention to the success of their mission. As the
two rabbis left the city, these two local leaders accompanied them. The Maharit
Algazi took out from his pocket a sizeable sum of money. "This money was
received from a man named Lilnatel, and it seems to me that it is 'improper'
money. I do not want to defile Jerusalem with forbidden funds. The sanctity of the
city will not be established through such monies, so please return the money to
Startled, Rabbi Dan Guggenheim took the money and returned it to the donor.
Infuriated, Lilnatel exclaimed, "I'll show him -this money will be used to serve the
rabbi in his own Bet Midrash!" As the rabbis were collecting funds in other
communities, Lilnatel closed his business and made his way to Yerushalayim. He
entered the yeshivah of "Bet El" at whose head sat the Maharit Algazi. He spoke
to the caretakers about replacing the old furniture with new, expensive tables
and chairs. Needless to say, the caretakers were overjoyed by the offer.
Soon afterward the Maharit Algazi returned from his travels and entered the Bet
Midrash. As he began walking inside, he looked around at the new furniture, and
said, "Remove this furniture from here! An aura of contamination has been
emitted by this furniture, and I cannot possibly study Torah with purity amongst
these tables and chairs!"
Why? Because Lilnatel amassed his great wealth by loaning money on interest.
There are various ways to avoid violating this prohibition, if we accustom
ourselves to obeying the rulings of our authorities of halachah. Let us first and

foremost make ourselves aware of these halachot and consult the authorities on
a regular basis.
Sing You Righteous
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller
By-product of this study (part 1)
Those who engage in the study of the Creator's wisdom and kindliness (Gadlo
Vetuvo) are indeed rewarded 1)by happiness of great achievement in this life and
2) the happiness of the True Knowledge in the Afterlife, where "the righteous sit
with their crowns (of the True Knowledge which they gained in this life-RMBM)
ontheir heads and they enjoy the splendor of the Shechinah" (Berachot 17a).
There is, however, a by-product of this study, which affords abundant physical
reward in this life: 3) the joy which comes from deep appreciation. "He who is of
good heart (mind!) is at a perpetual banquet" (Mishleh 15:15). This verse is
quoted by RMA at the end of the laws of Purim when we regretfully bid farewell to
the happy day. RMA offers consolation to those who yearn for happiness, and he
proposes the opportunity to enjoy an uninterrupted Purim throughout the year.
This is the feast of the Good Mind, the attitudes gained as the result of the study
of the purposefulness and kindliness of the world's phenomena.
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Yom Kippur
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Parashat Noah
The Light the Dove Brought
Seven pairs of doves stayed at the biggest floating hotel in the world. Together
with the swans and the pigeons, the parrots and the pelicans. Together with the
eagles and the ducks, the crows and the vultures. With the owls and buzzards,
every feathered bird, and every flying insect. All the animals and the beasts, and
servants along with them: stewards and waiters - Noah and his sons - to serve
food and to clean the apartments. They worked brutally hard labor; they never
saw rest. For five months the ark was carried upon the strong currents of the
water until it landed on the peak of Mt. Ararat. After ten months of isolation, Noah
sent the dove to see if the waters had rested, and it did not find rest for its feet. A
week later it was sent again. That evening it returned, with a olive branch in its
mouth. "And Noah knew that the water had rested on the land."
It is interesting: the tremendous dedication of Noah and his sons, a year's worth
of hard labor without rest - is not even hinted to in the Torah. "The whole twelve
months they did not taste sleep, neither Noah nor his sons, since they had to
feed the animal and the beast and the birds; there are animals that eat two hours
into the night, and there are those that eat three hours into the night. One time
Noah delayed in feeding the lion, the lion hit him and his rib came out." (Tanhuma
Beresheet 9) There are unlimited morals that one can and must take from this
story. About the work ethic, about responsibility and demands. About "the world
will be built on kindness," kindness with every creature to the smallest of
creatures, and about the completeness of kindness necessary: to give each one
its specific food, and at the proper time! The Torah is a educational book, meant
to teach morals, and this moral was left for a Midrash. But the sending of the
dove, and its return with an olive branch - this was written specifically, to teach
us that here is hidden a greater and more important message! What is it ?!
The Gemara writes: "and behold an olive branch was in its mouth" ("in its mouth"
is a language of speech) The dove said before Hashem: Master of the world, may
my sustenance be bitter as an olive and placed in your hand - rather than sweet
as honey and dependent on flesh and blood. The Torah uses the language of

"taraf," as it says (Mishlei 30:8) "Feed me my required bread." And in the Midrash
(at the beginning of Parashat Beha'alotecha) it is explained, that with that olive
branch, the dove brought light to the world, and that is why olive oil merited to
bring light with the lighting of the Menorah. We need to understand: what light
did it bring to the world, and thundering hidden news with that lone olive branch?
At the end of the book "Torat Ohel" we find an amazing explanation of the holy
Maharil Diskin zs"l: The leaves of the olive tree are exceptional for their strength.
The Gemara says that they don't wither in the winter or the summer, and the
Gemara even talks of writing documents on the leaves of the olive tree.
Therefore, even though all trees were destroyed by the flood, as the Midrash
states that Noah brought vines to replant grapes, saplings to replant figs, and
branches to replant olives, - but the olive leaves were not destroyed by the flood
and were floating on the water when the currents and storms had subsided.
These leaves came to the dove, with them its hunger was quieted, and it brought
one of them to Noah to hint to him and to us: 'Why did Hashem create these
leaves, that can withstand even the flood? Because Hashem knew that I would
turn to Him for my sustenance, from His wide and full, rich and open hand and He
prepared these for me ahead of time!'
This knowledge - is light! Let's copy from the book "Netiv Misvotecha" one story
from a thousand: "One time the holy Ba'al Shem Tov traveled with a student to a
place with no water, and the student was deathly thirsty. He said to his holy
Rabbi, "I am very thirsty." The Ba'al Shem Tov said to him, "Do you not believe
that from the moment that Hashem created the world, He saw your trouble and
created water for you to drink?" The student did not answer immediately until he
had calmed down and said, "I truly believe!" And he answered, "Wait a little
while." They continued on their way and they saw a non-Jew carrying two large
jugs of water on his shoulder. They gave him a penny, and he let them drink. The
Rabbi asked him, "Why are you carrying two such large jugs in this desolate
desert?" And he answered, "My master went crazy and sent me to a far spring,
and I am carrying this water three miles and I don't know why!" And the Rabbi
answered, "Behold Hashem's providence, He created a lord who would go crazy
to bring you water, and all this He foretold from the moment of the creation of
the world!"
What is Between Noah and Avraham?
Our Rabbis had a criticism of Noah, for the Torah testifies that he was a perfect
sadik. They compared him to Avraham, and said, "Avraham tried and succeeded,
converted and called in the name of Hashem, brought Arabs into his tent and
even prayed for the people of Sedom. But Noah - we have not found that he
circulated to rebuke and bring people to repent, and he was unsure as to the
building of the ark. Therefore, the flood also worked against him and is called by
his name: " For they are the waters of Noah to me." (Yeshayahu 54)" But the
"Ketav Sofer" tried to judge in Noah's favor: Noah was different from Avraham, for
he had sons! Avraham was lacking sons until his old age, and therefore he tried
hard to convert the people of his generation. But Noah had sons, and when one
has sons - his first responsibility is to separate them from the depraved street, to
protect them from the wild hedonism, to build a partition between them and the
theft and robbery on the outside, the dangerous permissiveness that will bring
the flood! And our eyes see that he succeeded! "And G-d spoke to Noah and his
sons - all four were prophets" (Ibn Ezra) The whole generation was destroyed,
and these sons established a world, an infrastructure for a new humanity! What a

message there is in this, what a responsibility it places on every parent, father

and mother: Your fist responsibility is towards your children, to save them from
the environment of the street, and to guide them towards the path of the Torah!
The Golden Column
The Author of the "Admat Kodesh"
Rabbi Nissim Haim Moshe Mizrahi ZS"L
Author of "Admat Kodesh"
Rabbi Nissim Haim Moshe Mizrachi zs"l, who served as the "Rishon Le'sion" two
hundred fifty years ago, was elevated and holy, and a tremendous genius in both
hidden and revealed Torah. No less great were his kindness, modesty and his
noble traits.
Once in the heat of the afternoon, in the middle of the summer, he was walking in
the street. Across from him he saw a woman, carrying a tray of dough, ready for
baking. In those days they did not bake in their homes. The baker's assistant
would arrive to help in the carrying of the dough, and they were baked in the
bakery for a few pennies and sent to the owner's home. The Rabbi saw this poor
woman carrying the heavy tray and was shocked. "Where is the baker's
assistant!" asked the rabbi, "Isn't this his job, his work!"
"I called him," sighed the woman, "and he did not want to come. I am a widow
and I have no one to send. And the dough would have started to spoil soon..."
"Give me the tray," requested the Rabbi. The widow hesitated, and the Rabbi
said, "I command you, in the name of the holy Torah!"
She gave the tray to his holy hands, and he carried it to the bakery. When the
baker saw him, words could not escape his mouth! He cried, "Our Rabbi, what are
you doing? Why didn't you call my helper, it would be an honor for him to carry
your dough!"
"I am surprised," responded the Rabbi. "If your helper isn't careful enough in the
commandment of sensitivity to a widow, which is an express commandment in
the Torah, why would he hurry to my house? This is not my tray, it is the tray of
the widow he refused to help..."
From The Wellsprings of the Parasha
"Noah was a perfect, righteous man in his generation,Noah walked with G-d"
We learned in the Mishnah (Avot 3:10) Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa would say,
"Anyone with whom the spirit of the creations is pleased, G-d's spirit is pleased."
And its explanation: anyone who is beloved below - is certainly beloved above. In
light of this, Rabbi Yaakov Abuhassera explained our verse: "Noah was a perfect
righteous man in his generation," meaning in his dealings with his generation and this is sign that "Noah walked with G-d," that in his dealings with Hashem He
was a perfect sadik, and the spirit of G-d was pleased with him.

In the Midrash it states that there are those who interpret this positively, that
even in his generation he was righteous, and there are those who interpret
negatively, that if he were in the generation of Avraham, he would have been
considered nothing. And they are both right, explained the Hida zs"l. For it says in
the Midrash, that when Avraham heard that Noah and his sons were saved from
the flood in the merit of the kindness they showed to the animals in the ark, he
accepted upon himself to act kindly with people who are created in the image of
Hashem. We find, that in the generation of Avraham, Noah's deeds with animals
would pale in comparison with Avraham's kindness. But on the other hand, it is
he who began the acts of kindness, and Avraham learned from him, and thus his
merit is even greater!
The word "man" seems extra, for it could have written "Noah was perfectly
righteous." The Alshich zs"l explained according the Gemara, which asked about
the verse "Happy is the man who fears G-d, who desires his commandments
much." What is "Happy is the man," does it mean a man and not a woman?!!
What is the explanation: It's easy to sin when one is young, when one's blood
boils, and to repent in one's old age. Therefore: "Happy is the man," that while he
is still a man, with strength in his body he "fears G-d!" And this is "Noah the
man," while he was still a man, he was "perfectly righteous in his generation," in
every period of his life. Rabbi Bah'ya zs"l asked: "righteous," is someone who
keeps the commandments, and does not sin. But what is "perfect"? By an animal
we find "A perfect red cow - without a blemish," but what is the meaning
perfection here, in spirituality? If to say that he did not sin, that is included in
righteousness! Rather, a blemish in the soul is evil traits, and its perfection - all
the good traits!
Clear Halachah
Halachic decisions according to Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
by the order of the Shulchan Aruch
By Rav David Yossef shlit"a Rosh Bet Midrash "Yehaveh Da'at"
Chapter 1
The Laws of Waking in the Morning
Continued from last week
2. It is good to say in the morning immediately upon arising: "Modeh ani
lefanecha melech hai vekayam, shehehezarta bi nishmati behemlah rabah
emunatecha." One should pause slightly between the word "behemlah" and the
words "rabah emunatecha," as it says in the verse (Echah 3:23) "chadashim
livkarim rabah emunatecha." One can say "Modeh ani" even before he has
washed his hands in the morning.
3. "Shiviti Hashem Lenegdi tamid" is an important prinicple in the Torah and in
the ways of the righteous who walk before Hashem. This means that one should
always imagine that he is standing before Hashem, the King, King of kings, whose
glory fills the world.. The Ari Z"L says that one should imagine the four letter
name of Hashem before his eyes always, with the proper punctuation. This is the
secret of "Shiviti Hashem lenegdi tamid," and there is a tremendous gain in this

that he will have the fear of Hashem. And some have the custom of hanging the
bet keneset on the Eastern wall "Shiviti Hashem lenegdi tamid," with the psalm
"Lamenatzeach bin'ginot mizmor shir" in the design of a menorah, with the holy
names. Both the law if one is allowed to get dressed before washing one's hands,
and the question if one is allowed to walk four amot or to think words of Torah
before washing one's hands will be explained in Siman 4, with the other laws of
washing one's hands.
The Order of "Tikun Hatzot"
4. Our Rabbis the Kabbalists stressed the importance of being awake at midnight,
and of saying at midnight the Tikun Hatzot, for it is worthy for all those who fear
Hashem and who worry and despair about the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash.
Our Rabbis the Kabbalists especially stressed the importance of Tikun Hatzot.
There are those who say that if it is difficult for one to go to sleep late after
midnight and to wake up early to pray at sunrise, he should say Tikun Hatzot, and
wake up later and pray after sunrise. But of course, he should not wake up so late
as to miss the proper time for Shema and prayer because of Tikun Hatzot.
Tikun Hatzot is even more important than saying selihot during the month of Elul.
5. One should not begin saying Tikun Hatzot before midnight, because according
to our Rabbis the Kabbalists, the hours before midnight are not hours of
acceptance, they are hours of judgement in the world. But right after midnight
the traits of kindness and mercy arise in the world. The time for Tikun Hatzot is
exactly twelve hours after the midpoint between sunrise and sunset. For example
if sunrise is at 5AM and sunset is at 6PM, then midday is at 11:30 AM. Twelve
hours later is 11:30 PM, which is midnight. In any place in the world, one should
calculate sunrise and sunset according to that place. However those who live
outside Eretz Yisrael who want to pray Tikun Hatzot a little bit before midnight,
and the time for Tikun Hatzot in Eretz Yisrael has already arrived in Jerusalem,
can rely on this.
From the Wonders of Creation
Forecasting the Weather
Forecasting the weather is something that everyone talks about but no one can
do anything about. If we want to quickly describe the weather we can say it is the
"behavior" of the atmosphere, that is, the air that surrounds Earth, and the
direction of the movement of this air which is effected by various currents; Hot air
pressure which comes from the tropical regions and cold air pressure that comes
from the Arctic regions. These currents and the movement of the air caused by
them cause rain, snow and hail, and create winds and thunderstorms. Once upon
a time, a farmer forecasted the weather according to various signs, including if
he saw the chickens cleaning their feathers - then the farmer knew that the
chickens feel the rain coming by the instincts the G-d hid in them and they are
hurrying to oil their feathers with the fat that is a product of its glands, so that
the drops of rain will slide off, and not wet them.
Today, there is a special scientific apparatus for the forecasting of weather, which
is the meteorological service. Every country has this service, equipped with
different lookout points in different regions. Usually they can give over the

weather forecast for the coming 36 hours. Day or night, there are workers at the
lookout points, marking down every slight change detected by the sensitive
machines which measure the sped of the wind, the humidity in the air, the
amount of rain, etc. How perfect is the "prophecy" of their forecasting? Usually,
they are correct eight out of 10 times. The other two times that they are
incorrect, they are not to blame. For G-d is the "changer of times, and switches
the periods." After all the technical advancements and intelligence of man, they
are still just men, limited by their knowledge and their capabilities. Frankly, the
weather is managed just like every other creation in the world - by the Creator
who watches over every last detail, for what can man do against natural
phenomena? Can he stop the wind or prevent the rain from falling? Certainly not.
From this we can truly see how much man is dependent on the kindness of the
Creator; from this we can understand what our Rabbis taught - that they key to
rain lies only in the hands of Hashem.
Measure for Measure
a continuing saga (part twelve)
Flashback: A wealthy man who respected Torah, but enslaved by love of himself,
and closed off to all others, invited a wise poor man to his table to discuss
matters of Torah, but he did not offer the poor man food or drink. The poor man,
who had not eaten or drunk for several days, died from hunger. Later, the poor
man appeared in a dream to the wealthy one: "You deserve death, he told him,
for you caused my death. And since it is due to me that you will be punished,
they do not allow me to rest in peace..."
"But this I have done, after much pleading," said the dead man, "that they will
allow me to come and teach you the way of repentance. If you agree to this, we
will both be saved - and your sin will be removed and forgiven. If not - my hands
are clean. Come with me to stand before the court of Heaven, and they will allow
me to go to my place..."
The wealthy man heard, and his bones trembled in fear. The sweat poured in
buckets from his body; cold, frozen sweat. His mouth trembled feverishly before
anything could escape his lips. He said, "I...I agree accept ev...everything
that... that you will say..."
"I am very glad to hear this," answered the deceased. "Even though it is not in
my interest..."
"W...Why not?!" said the rich man in surprise.
"For if you had refused me," said the soul, "you would go up with me to Heaven,
and they would decide that I am not at fault for your refusal, and I would merit
immediate arrival to my place in Gan Eden. Now, I will remain a wanderer until
you improve. But I do not wish you ill, and I am ready to suffer to aid you. Now,
listen. Get up on your feet and go home. And tomorrow, leave the city without
telling a soul. Go to the border of the city and enter into the thick of the woods.
You will not have to look for me, for I will be there to meet you."
"Where should I enter," asked the rich man," in which path?"

But his question hung in the air. The shining image had departed. A thick
darkness settled.
Suddenly, he startled. Light was shining from behind him! What is it, what is that
light? Frightened, he turned around, towards the door. His guard was there, with a
lantern in his hand. "What happened, sir, your face is as pale as a dead man's,"
he cried.
"Shh.." trembled the voice of the rich man, "lead me to my dwelling with your
The Tower and Us
A world scientific conference gathered in the land of Shinar. His majesty, King
Nimrod honored them with his presence, and gave over words of blessing in
which he outlined their path. With restrained emotion, the scientists accepted the
directive of the Sun of Nations, the mighty ruler of the world: "We must study the
world with watchful eyes, and understand every phenomena in a logical,
intellectual way." He continued, "True science can not be satisfied with hidden
and mysterious explanations concerning some higher powers that are involved in
the creation. One must find a scientific explanation for every occurrence!" The
directive was absolutely firm and concrete, and in Ur Casdim a giant furnace was
built for scientists who would not follow in this path. They had one problem
though. Nimrod was the son of Kush, who was the son of Ham. And Ham spoke of
the year he had spent in an ark, when the flood destroyed all. Even his greatgrandfather Noah still lived, and he would tell all who would listen about the
original Adam, created by the hands of Hashem, who he had merited to know,
and about Gan Eden from which he had been expelled. He spoke about his greatgrandfather, Hanoch, who became an angel in his lifetime, and about his
grandfather, Metushelah the righteous. He spoke about the angels who had come
down from the Heavens to be the "Nefilim," and he spoke about a generation that
had corrupted its ways, and despised its inheritance - "Tell the L-rd to leave us,
we do not wish to know his ways." They were steeped in robbery and corruption.
And he spoke about his prophecy, the commandment to build the ark, the ark
that still now rests on the peak of Mt. Ararat. He spoke about the altar he had
built when he had come out of the ark, the sacrifices he had offered, and the
prophecy he had received that there would not be another flood.
The scientists sat and debated. The modern science, under the direction and
blessing of Nimrod, crowns mankind with glory, forbids the mention of the Almighty, teaches to ignore His providence, and commands the closing of one's
eyes. So there is no problem, we will explain the words of Noah as mere stories,
that's all. But if so, who commanded him to build the ark? And who told him to
gather all the animals and enter the ark, male and female? Not so terrible, we will
say that it was some feeling, some sixth sense that whispered this to him. But
how will we explain the flood itself?! That was not a natural phenomenon - and
the flood is a concrete fact, the ark didn't fly on its own to the heights of Mt.
Ararat... Shall we say that it was a punishment from Hashem? But if so then we
must admit that there is reward and punishment, admit that there is One who
watches over us and commands us, warns and punishes. And that means that
King Nimrod is not the supreme ruler, and that science can not explain
everything... No, that is impossible!

Then how can we explain that amazing event? We will say "Every 1803 years the
sky falls down!" It is so simple, a natural phenomenon like this! And science can
suggest a response too: "Let us build retaining pillars, that will hold up the sky
and prevent the next flood..."
True, Noah the righteous had calmed us all down, telling us that there was a
promise from Above that there would not be another flood. But science is in a
trap - if it does not believe in a creator, and not in prophecy, then it can not rely
on them... Thus, tens of thousands were enlisted to hold up the sky with a great
towers - as long as they wouldn't agree to a Creator of the world, and not in
reward and punishment!
It would be funny, if it weren't so sad, if there weren't "scientists" in our midst
today. Let us look at ourselves, how do we look at the events around us, the
tragedies and the suffering we have gone through. Do we understand that they
are a result of sin, a punishment and a warning, and do we try to improve our
ways? Or do we say that it was all a natural phenomenon, and we prepare some
method to prevent its repetition?...

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Vayera
Avraham stood before Hashem, pleading on behalf of the inhabitants of Sedom,
begging Him to forgive them. Perhaps there are fifty ssadikim, and on their
account five full cities should be spared. Perhaps there are forty righteous men
who can save four of the cities. Maybe there are ten, and one city may survive.
But, as we know, there were not even ten, and the decree was finalized.
Even there had been ten, so what? Why would the entire region be spared on
their account? The Torah itself testifies to the severity in quality and quantity of
Sedom's and Amorah's iniquity. They were exceptionally cruel people,
undeserving of the right to live. Why did Hashem agree with Avraham in theory,
that were there to have been ten ssadikim a city of sinners would escape its
rightful punishment?
The answer lies in one seemingly innocuous phrase included by Avraham in his
plea. "Perhaps there are fifty ssadikim in the middle of the city - would you
destroy and not have compassion for the region, on account of the fifty ssadikim
which are in its midst?" The Ibn Ezra zs"l explains, "'In the midst of the city' - that
they are G-d-fearing in public, as we find, 'Wander through the outskirts of
Jerusalem and see, know and ask in its streets, will you find a man, is there
anyone doing justice, seeking truth - and I will forgive it' (Yirmiyahu 5:1)." In other
words, the existence of a ssadik, even ten ssadikim, does not necessarily
guarantee the sparing of the city, it is not itself a reason to forgive the many sins,
unless those righteous individuals are found, "in the midst of the city," involved in
what transpires in the city, teaching Torah, publishing works of Torah, organizing
Torah activities and programs for both young and old, working towards the
benefit of the public.
Only then can we expect forgiveness, as the light outshines the darkness, and we
can feel confident that the city will return to proper observance.
Avraham was the father of the nation. Hazal say that "a father inherits to his
son." Indeed, Avraham implanted within us his characteristics. What are they?
Two principle traits have been instilled within us forever. The first is faith, as all
Jews are believers the children of believers, the children of Avraham, about whom
it is written, "And he believed in Hashem." Hazal note that this term is written in
the "hifil" verb form, indicating that he implanted this belief within his progeny.
The second defining characteristic imbued within each and every one of us is that
of generosity, that all Jews perform acts of kindness and benevolence. Our

parashah states about Avraham, "For he will instruct his children and household
after him, and they will observe the path of Hashem to do kindness and justice"
(see Yebamot 79a). One who is not merciful or benevolent cannot be considered
from the progeny of Avraham. In fact, King David employed this principle when
he decidedly removed the "Givonim" from the nation once they revealed their
cruelty, as codified by the Rambam.
When it was whispered in the ear of Rav Kaduri shlit"a that portions of the nation
have forgotten what it means to be a Jew, a great uproar ensued. However, if
"Jew" means benevolence, then we have at least one way of determining one's
Jewish identity. A recent study revealed that ninety percent of the religious Jews
in Israel donate regularly to charitable organizations. Among other denominations
the number has been tumbling steadily. There are so many charity funds run in
Israel, so many of them under religious auspices. Is this a coincidence, that these
societies were founded and are run and managed by religious people, serving the
religious and non-religious alike? There are hundred of funds which lend hundreds
of thousands of shekalim each month without interest. Do these organizations
have counterparts in the non-religious community?
The "yellow pages" in Benei Berak, for example, contains twenty-six pages
devoted to various "gemahim," charitable institutions. Each page features dozens
of entries. It contains organizations to lend bridal gowns, decorative headcoverings for brides, provide make-up for brides, supply a special car with
balloons for the newlywed couple, wedding flowers, ties for the groom (it would
be a shame to purchase a white tie for just one evening), glass candle-holders to
be held under the hupah, to assist in defraying the costs of weddings, including
bands. We now move from the wedding to "sheva berachot": There is a gemah
for utensils, cups and bowls, silverware, hot-plates, large cooking-pots,
everything you could ask for.
There is a gemah to provide cookbooks, and, of course, one that provides folding
tables and chairs, another for napkins and tablecloths, in all colors. And how can
an affair take place without photographs? So, naturally, there are gemahim for
cameras, lighting, and projectors. Oh - it may be hot. Therefore, there is a gemah
to provide fans. For the end of the affair, another gemah takes care of the
birkonim. In case some of the guests need to sleep over as the affair ends late, a
gemah provides folding beds and extra blankets.
A baby is born - Mazel Tov!! - a gemah will provide necessary assistance to the
parents, either in the form of food for the house, or people to take care of the
household laundry. Forty-three listings appear to assist in the preparations for the
berit milah, including providing the traditional chair for Eliyahu. Another gemah
provides the parents with a beautiful silver plate for the pidyon haben. And,
Heaven forbid, for times of crisis and tragedy, there are gemahim to visit
patients, to transport them, to spend time with them on Shabbat, and to bring
them food. There appear forty-eight listings of gemahim who provide various
medical supplies, and thirty-three gemahim who deal with lending out muchneeded medication.
Other gemahim help during other crises. One such gemah supplies gas-heat for
the home when the gas runs out. Another provides glasses for those whose
glasses have broke. Another gives out pacifiers for children. In return, you just
have to buy a new one and give it to the organization. There exists gemahim for
ladders and other household equipment, writing utensils, kitchen accessories,

stamps, phone cards, Shabbat-clocks, haircutting, cribs, baby-carriages, tapemeasures, toys - anything one can imagine! This is what one can find in just one
city in Israel, one of several dozen. Does there exist such activities programs in
other cities, programs which boggle the mind and exceed imagination? There is a
central gemah, which keeps people informed on which gemahim are available. Is
it a mere coincidence that all this is run by religious Jews?
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Mosheh Yosef shlit"a
The Berachah for Cake Containing a Mixture of Grain and Other Ingredients
In general, when eating a dish containing various items, the item which
constitutes the majority of the dish determines the blessing to be recited for this
dish. The other food-types in the dish, which make up the minority, may be eaten
after the recitation of this blessing, which was determined by the majority item.
However, if the mixture contains flour from the five grains (wheat, barley, oats,
rye, and spelt), then, due to the particular significance of these grains, the
berachah will be "mezonot," regardless of the proportion the grain represents
with reference to the rest of the dish. However, this provision applies only if the
grain had been included in the dish to add taste. But if it was introduced only to
add substance, to hold together the batter, such as flour placed in soup to make
it thick, then the blessing for the soup is "shehakol." This entire discussion relates
to the berachah before eating the item. However, with regard to the "berachah
aharonah," recited after eating the food-item, the Shulhan Aruch (208:9) draws
the following distinction: If one ate enough of the dish so that he consumed a
"kezayit" of grain within the time period of "kedei achilat peras," then he recites
"al hamihyah." However, if he ate the dish slowly, that he never consumed a
kezayit within this time frame, then he cannot recite al hamihyah. Next week we
will discuss at greater length the laws applying to this case.
There is a dispute among the authorities as to the definition of "kedei achilat
peras." Rashi understands this to mean that one must eat a kezayit in the period
of time normally needed to consume the quantity of four eggs. The Rambam,
however, holds that it means eating a kezayit in the time duration normally
required to eat only three eggs. The Shulhan Aruch (612:4) cites both opinions in
the name of the anonymous "yesh omrim," and we generally assume that in such
a situation he means to rule like the second of the cited views, which in the case
is that of the Rambam. Therefore, in order to recite al hamihyah one must eat
enough of the mixture that a kezayit of grain was eaten within the time
necessary to eat a quantity of three eggs. This time period has been defined in
different ways by different authorities, but Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a rules that it is
seven and a half minutes.
In summary, cake made from potato starch mixed with flour, and the regular flour
has been added for taste, requires a mezonot before eating and an al hamihyah
afterward, assuming a kezayit of flour was eaten within the period of "kedei
achilat peras," seven and a half minutes.

Rabbi Salmaan Mussaafi zs"l

Each night, Rabbi Salmaan Mussaafi zs"l would rise to recite "tikkun hassot" to
mourn for the exile of the shechinah and pray for the redemption. Afterward he
would involve himself diligently in the secrets of the Torah until morning, at which
point he would attend services.
One morning he awoke as usual, not knowing that the Jewish underground had
carried out a certain action the night before which led the British to order martial
law. He was caught by the police and thrown into prison in "Shanlar." Around him
he saw approximately three hundred Jews. Some were in prison for violating the
curfew, others were suspected of involvement with the underground. They all sat
there idly, awaiting the outcome of the investigations.
The rabbi though to himself, what a waste! What good does this do? What a great
opportunity! He began speaking before them words of encouragement, and they
all disrupted their idleness to hear his words. His words, which left his heart,
penetrated theirs. As he began reciting "tikun hassot," they repeated after him
verse by verse. They all cried bitterly for redemption, they declared together with
him, "Hashem is the G-d!" and they recited the "shema."
The British guards heard and assembled. They saw how the prison cell had
become a giant synagogue, the inmates pouring their hearts out in prayer. The
guards thought to themselves, these people are not terrorists! They freed their
The rabbi completed his prayer and returned home. His wife had been very
concerned as the hour was late. She knew the curfew was in force, and she was
afraid her husband was caught and possibly punished with an extended prison
He told her, "Yes, they caught me, but not to throw me into prison, but to allow
me to free other Jews." He proceeded to tell her the entire episode. He concluded
by saying, "The spiritual and the physical are intertwined. Once I freed the
religious spark within them, their freedom from prison came naturally. The same
applies to the nation as a whole - once the spirituality is redeemed, the physical
redemption can then unfold."
"And Hashem remembered Sarah"
Rabbi Shelomoh Amslem zs"l of Midlat, Morocco, asks, why is Hashem referred to
in this verse by the name, Y-H-V-H, but regarding Rachel the Torah writes, "Elokim
remembered Rachel and opened her womb"? He answers that the name
"Hashem" (that appears in our pasuk) represents Hashem's quality of creating
from nothing, bringing about deviations in the natural world. "Elokim," however,
refers to Hashem as the G-d of nature, ("Elokim" has the same numerical value as
"hateva," nature). Therefore, since the pregnancy of Sarah occurred in her old
age and was thus a supernatural occurrence, the name Y-H-V-H is employed.
Regarding Rahel's pregnancy, however, which was a natural occurrence, the
name "Elokim" is used.
"And Hashem remembered Sarah"

Rabbi Shalom Abuhassera zs"l notes the apparent redundancy in this pasuk. First
it says, "Hashem remembered Sarah as He had said," and then it continues,
"Hashem did for Sarah that which He spoke."
He explains based on a redundancy in a different pasuk (in Parashat Noah) "Sarah was barren, she did not have children." Hazal there explain that no only
was Sarah barren, but her body was not at all capable of bearing a child.
Therefore, she required a double "remembrance," one for the standard assistance
Hashem offers barren women, and another for a fundamental change in her
physical makeup, to be returned to her youth.
"And Hashem remembered Sarah"
Rashi, commenting on an earlier pasuk in our parashah (referring to the
destruction of Sedom), writes that whenever the term "VeHashem" ("and
Hashem") is used, it refers to Hashem and His court. Here, too, regarding the
pregnancy of Sarah, the phrase is used. But what a vast difference between the
two situations! Regarding Sedom, the Attribute of Mercy had to concede to the
Attribute of Justice, and regarding Sarah the Attribute of Justice gave in to the
Attribute of Mercy to offer salvation to Sarah and allow her to build the nation.
The Hid"a writes that this is what Hazal meant when they said that the wicked
convert the Attribute of Mercy to the Attribute of Justice, and the righteous
convert the Attribute of Justice into mercy.
The Dove
Two weeks ago we read about the dove sent by Noah to verify that the land had
dried after the flood.
We have identified no fewer than three hundred different species of dove
scattered throughout the world, except near the Poles.
All these doves share certain common characteristics, and their main source of
food is seeds and fruit. Many birds migrate as the winter or summer months
arrive, heading toward the region where they had lived in the previous season.
The dove, however, features a very strong attachment to its place of residence. It
is capable of flying vast distances in order to return to the nest it had built. This
specific characteristic enables one species of dove to serve as mail-doves.
A letter affixed to this bird's feet will reach across miles and miles to its precise
destination. This dove is trained to fly as fast as seventy kph, an very high speed
considering the fact that the general range of flying for birds is between fifteen
and ninety five kph.
The Nation of Israel is always compared to a dove for its defining characteristics
of uprightness, trustworthiness, and humility. Just as a dove returns from great
distances to its home, so do Am Yisrael return to their Father in Heaven.

The Severed Hand (3)

The victimized youth stood by the city square and cried as the soldier who had
robbed him made his way further and further holding in his hand the loaves of
bread as well as the boy's hope to feed his ill father. As he was crying, he felt a
hand on his shoulder and heard a voice asking, "What is the matter, child, why
are you crying?"
The boy raised his tearful eyes to the speaker. It was a young person, tall with
dark eyes. The boy answered, "My father is old and sick, dying, and has not eaten
in three days. I worked so hard for two loaves of bread, only to have them stolen
by the soldier." To his amazement, the stranger pulled out a giant wallet and said,
"Hurry - go bring life to your father with this money. Tomorrow come to the palace
and return to me the empty wallet."
Eli had no idea who this man was, nor did he have any way of finding out. The
one thing he knew was that his father's life was saved. He emotionally kissed the
outstretched hand of the stranger, took the wallet, and left. He hurried to his
house, and as soon as the door opened, he was seized with terror. His father was
lying unconscious on the floor right near the door. The father, seeing that his son
had left, collected his last strength and got out of bed. He crawled to the door but
fainted along the way. The boy immediately took hold of his father and led him to
his bed, and then left to buy food. He went to the doctor and showed him the
golden rings on his hand so that he come treat his father. He paid the doctor for
his services as well as the medication. He purchased plenty of food and still had
many gold pieces left. He placed them in his drawer and left for the palace. The
shouting of the soldier guarding the palace stopped him in his tracks. "Stop, poor
boy!! Leave, now!"
The boy took out the golden wallet from his pocket. "Excuse me, sir, would you
know to whom this belongs? I was instructed to return it here."
The soldier shuddered for an instant and let the boy through. A uniformed butler
came and led the boy into the palace. Suddenly, the boy found himself standing
before the Sultan Abdul Magid.
This Has All Happened Before
So what's going to be? Who does not ask this question? For most, this question is
accompanied by a heavy sigh. What's going to be with six million Jews,
surrounded by a hundred million enemy Arabs. What's going to be with a tiny
country whose land is getting smaller, in whose direction hundreds of long-range
missiles are aimed, surrounded by nations with weapons of mass destruction,
armed with chemical, biological, and -in a few years- atomic capabilities. What's
going to be with the internal strife which sees no end, jealousy and hatred on
religious grounds, producing conflicting parties. What's going to be?
What's going to be with the Jewish values? What's going to be with the mass
intermarriage which severs large portions from our people, the seventy-percent
assimilation rate outside of Israel? What's going to be with the one million Jewish
children in Israel who never learn to recite "shema," the Ten Commandments, or

the thirteen principles of faith? They are detached from their heritage completely.
Are we becoming two distinct nations?
What's going to be with the economy? What's going to be with all the personal
crises, with the burden of problems each individual carries on his shoulders?
What will be in the end with all those small debts, illnesses, and
disappointments? Problems with the family, difficulties in the office, each one
bears his own share of these problems, with no end in sight, no light to be seen
at the end of the tunnel of darkness!
The consolation, the answer to these difficult questions, is found in our parashah:
do not despair, do not lose hope, for the nation was built after all hope was gone.
The nation was born when Avraham was one hundred years old, and his wife,
Sarah was already ninety. It seems so far-fetched, that people laughed at Sarah.
The child's name is "Yis'hak," laughter, for it was Sarah who had the last laugh,
and her descendants, the Jewish people, will have the last laugh when all is said
and done. "When Hashem returns the exile of Zion it will be like a dream; then
will our mouths be filled with laughter and out tongues filled with glee!" This is a
nation which survives against all odds, against all predictions for our demise,
surmounting all obstacles. We will certainly overcome the obstacles facing us
presently, which will ultimately lead to our full redemption, may it unfold speedily
and in our days!
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Rehearsal for afterlife II
Aaron: Thus the three repasts of Sabbat are three opportunities for reflection.
Mr. Goodfriend: Another similarity of Shabbat to the Afterlife is the freedom from
material entanglement. The most serious obstacle to the Awareness of the true
issues of life is the preoccupation with worldly matters. "Limit business, and
engage in Torah" (Avot 4:10). In this, Shabbat serves as the model for all one's
days Shabbat is therefore 1) the national day of Torah-study, 2) the time to
contemplate Creation ex Nihilo, 3) the opportunity to study the wisdom of plan
and purpose in all things ("You made me happy with Your deeds; I sing at the
work of Your hands"), 4) the opportunity to recognize the kindliness in all things
and to rejoice in them, 5) and the time to consider one's debt and gratitude to
the Creator and to urge oneself toward more accomplishment in his service.
Produced by Cong Bnai Yosef
and the Aram Soba Foundation translated from Maayan Hashavua in Israel
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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Toldot
The parshiyot of Sefer Beresheet stimulate our minds each year, always providing
us with more food for thought. They serve annually as a catalyst for learning, as
guidance for our personal reflection and self-examination.
The twins, Esav and Yaakov, struggled within their mother's womb. Indeed, the
events which occurred to our forefathers repeat themselves in the lives of their
descendants. Do these two not wrestle within each and every one of us? Each
tries to pull us in his direction, to have us join his camp and carry his banner.
Imagine a scale, one end containing the birthright (symbolizing the service of
Hashem, the ceremonies of which were reserved for the firstborn) and on the
other sits a bowl of lentils. Yaakov chose one end of the scale, Esav decided on
the other. Similarly, we must each decide for ourselves, which side of the scale
will weigh down the other, and to which side we will turn. Are we people of lentils,
so-to-speak, who long merely for the flavor of a tasty dish, or are we aware that
there exists a higher value in the world, an eternal truth, more worth our while

and inherently more valuable than the dish of lentils, than a fleeting moment of
gratification, that it is worth sacrificing some lentils for an eternal birthright?
As a point of clarification, by no means are we expected to reject the physical
realities of this world or condone abstinence from all its delights, a life of
loneliness or self-affliction. We are, however, expected to "grab on to the heel of
Esav," to ensure that Esav does gain a monopoly over us, total control over every
aspect of our existence. It is expected that if an entire day is devoted to our
work, then at least at "the heel of the day" we devote some time for Torah study,
to allocate a portion of ourselves towards spirituality, the "birthright"!
If we are successful in this endeavor, then we will merit both the birthright and all
the blessings.
Rabbi Nahman of Breslov zs"l told the following story, one which relates to our
parashah as well as to the lives of each and every one of us. There once lived a
certain hard-luck Jew, who failed in virtually every endeavor on which he
embarked. Finally, his wife told him, "A fortune-teller recently arrived in town. Go
and ask him for some advice - maybe your luck will change for the better!" He
was terrified. He was an observant Jew, a true, sincere believer. "G-d forbid!" he
cried. "The Torah strictly prohibits seeking the advice of magicians and sorcerers.
We are commanded, 'You shall be whole with Hashem your G-d,' which Rashi
understands as prohibiting the use of magicians!"
But his wife did not give up so easily. She pressured him to go to the fortuneteller, and eventually he succumbed to her badgering and went.
He entered the dark room, as the sorcerer flipped his cards and muttered various
incantations. Finally, he spoke up. "I see that you will find success in one
endeavor only - thievery!"
He shuddered and ran home. His wife asked him, "So, what did he say?"
"Nothing," answered the man, "he told me there is no luck for me." The woman
sighed as she noticed a grin on her husband's face. "What's so funny," she asked.
"Nothing, I just remembered a joke," he answered. Bitterly she replied, "My entire
world is dark, and you are grinning. Tell me the joke so I can at least laugh with
you." He did not want to tell the truth about his visit with the sorcerer, and tried
to avoid telling her. Eventually, however, the truth came out. "It is funny what the
fortune-teller said..."
The wife's face became pale and she shouted, "Heaven forbid! Never!" But their
situation continued getting worse and worse. They had no food to eat, their
children cried in hunger, and she started having second thoughts. "Maybe, in
spite of everything, if this is where our luck is..."
"What are you saying!" shouted her husband. "It is better to die in honor than to
live in sin and disgrace!" The hunger intensified, and the idea stuck. The man
struggled with the issue, '...I do not want to do it...I do not want to do it...', he
thought, but in the end he gave in. He decided to steal ten coins to buy just
bread, nothing more.

The theft succeeded, though not without serious pangs of conscience. Soon
enough, the bread was finished and the pressures surfaced once again. He
debated with himself back and forth, '...I do not want to do it, I do not want to do
it...', he thought, but he went again. Only this time he was caught. As he was
being led to the gallows he saw the sorcerer, who, for our purposes, represents
the yesser hara (evil inclination). "You have no idea how much I had to struggle,"
he said, "to bring you to this point."
This is the crux of the story, but the most critical element of the story is the
sentence, "'I don't want to do it, I don't want to do it', but, in the end, he went."
Aren't we all quite familiar with this sentence? We have before us a good Jew (like
each of us!), endowed with the proper qualities (like each of us!), who makes the
correct decisions (like each of us!), but lacks the strength to follow up on those
decisions. How many times have we decided to increase our participation in Torah
classes? We know how much they contribute to our development, that Torah
knowledge is the true, eternal acquisition, the key to good fortune in both worlds.
So, what happened? "Pressures..." We didn't want to, we didn't want to, but in the
end we did. We were dragged along, we were pressured, and we gave in...
This is but one example. How many times have we decided that the secular
publications which contain such heresy and immodesty will never again see our
door post? So, what happened? Our decisions gradually begin eroding...
If we need a mirror to look at ourselves properly, then perhaps we should take a
close look at this week's parashah, specifically at the frightful image of Esav.
His righteous father asks him to take his bow and arrow and go hunt an animal to
be prepared for eating, in order that Yis'hak will bless him. Hazal tell of Esav's
special clothing, clothes which belonged originally to Adam. This clothing had
made its way to Nimrod, and Esav acquired it when he killed Nimrod. Hazal tell us
that the animals would bow down before whoever wore these clothes. Esav,
however, did not wear them. He left them in the house, and Yaakov wore them
when he disguised himself as Esav to take the blessing in his brother's stead.
Why did Esav not take this clothing with him? After all, his task was to hunt an
animal - surely it would have been easier if he had these special clothes with
him! The answer is that Esav excelled in his performance of the misvah of
honoring parents. His father had specifically instructed him to take his weapons
with him and hunt for an animal to bring him. Therefore, Esav was determined
not to take shortcuts, to exert the effort to fulfill his father's wishes. Such honor
for his father!
However, the pasuk continues, "Esav went to the field, to hunt an animal to
bring." Rashi explains that the seemingly superfluous term, "to bring," suggests
that Esav was prepared to bring the hunt for his father even if it meant resorting
to theft. Targum Yonatan explains that in fact Esav did not find what he was
looking for. He therefore took a dog, killed it, and prepared it for his father.
A dog? For our great patriarch, Yis'hak? Is this the honor of parents which Esav
had demonstrated so powerfully?
The answer is not only clear but familiar to us from our own experiences. The
decision was a clear and correct one, the drive was very sincere. But there were
pressures; the hunt was unsuccessful. 'He didn't want to do it, he didn't want to
do it', but in the end he presented his father with a dog.

Indeed, this is the path followed by Esav. But we are the descendants of Yaakov.
We must be consistent, to remain steadfast in our determination, to remain
strong and unwavering in our commitment.
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yosef shlit"a
The Blessing for Cake Baked With Grain and Other Ingredients (part3)
In the previous issue we explained that one who eats cake baked with grain as
well as honey, sugar, eggs, or something of this nature, despite the fact that one
recites mezonot prior to eating as long as the grain was included to provide taste,
the halachah regarding berachah aharonah is more complex. If the other
ingredients (other than the grain) constitute the majority, and one eats only a
"kezayit" of the entire cake, then he does not recite any berachah aharonah, due
to the fact that there is a doubt which blessing to recite. But if the grain
constitutes the majority, then if the other ingredients were included in the batter
together with the flour then they contribute to the necessary quantity of kezayit,
and then one would recite al hamihyah if he eats a kezayit. If, however, they were
not together in the batter (such as a layer over the cake, or a stuffing, etc.) then
they do not contribute to the quantity of a kezayit.
If one eats a "borekas" filled with potato, and believes that he did not eat a
kezayit-worth of dough, but knows for sure that he ate a kezayit of the potatofilling, the Aharonim (later authorities) are in dispute as to what he should do.
Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a, in "Yabi'a Omer" vol.7 (32) rules that in such a situation
one recites "borei nefashot," for although the dough represents the most
significant part of the borekas, and is responsible for mezonot being recited
before eating both the dough and the potato, nevertheless, since he cannot
recite a berachah aharonah on the most significant part (because he did not eat a
sufficient amount), and he needs some blessing for the other part - the potato of which he did eat a sufficient quantity, he recites the blessing for the potato,
namely, borei nefashot. (For further reading on this topic, read Rav Yis'hak Yosef
shlit"a, in "Yalkut Yosef" vol.3 p. 491.)
In summary, if one eats a kezayit from a cake whose batter included flour as well
as other ingredients, then the following guidelines should be followed:
If the flour constitutes the majority, then mezonot is recited before eating and al
hamihyah is recited afterward.
If the other ingredients constitute the majority, then mezonot is recited before
eating and no berachah aharonah is recited at all.
One who eats a kezayit from baked goods with a filling, for example, where the
dough was kneaded with only a small amount of sugar and the other ingredients
were introduced only later as a filling, then the filling cannot contribute to
minimum amount of a kezayit. Therefore, the following rules apply:

If the person ate a kezayit from the dough, then he recites al hamihyah. If he ate
a kezayit from the entire pastry, then he recites no berachah aharonah.
If he ate a kezayit from the filling, then he recites a borei nefashot.
(It should be clear that if the individual ate a kezayit of dough as well as a kezayit
from the filling, he recites only al hamihyah which absolves his obligation with
regard to everything.)
Rabbi Refael Elbaz zs"l
Rabbi Refael Elbaz zs"l, one of the great leader of Safro, Morocco, passed away
around one hundred years ago. Once he was traveling together with another Jew
and an armed, barbaric gentile. Suddenly, the non-Jew stopped dead in his tracks
with a look of terror in his eyes. He pointed to a tree which stood along the side
of the road, its branches hovering over the road. "Do you see this tree? Look at
its branches carefully," he said. His two companions looked but saw nothing. He
continued, "Do you see this branch? It is actually a giant snake, a serpent called
'assad.' Birds land on its back under the impression that it is a harmless branch.
Then it swallows the poor birds! It has attacked many such passersby." The man
lowered his gun from his back and aimed it at the serpent. The rabbi asked him,
"What are you doing?" The man answered, "I will try to kill him. But if I miss, he
will come after us, and we are finished!" Said the rabbi, "If so, then wait a little bit
until I give you the sign." The rabbi stood in prayer and gave a sign to the gentile.
He fired, and the bullet struck the snake's head and crushed it. He then went and
opened the snake's stomach, and he found the birds which it had swallowed, one
of them still alive.
This story contains many lessons. For one thing, we see a necessary connection
between the weapon and prayer. "Our feet survived in war, because of the gates
of Jerusalem which were involved in Torah." We see with our own eyes how much
divine assistance we need and the devastating effects of "hester panim," when
Hashem turns His back to us, as it were. Projects and operations previously
thought to be "fool-proof" fail terribly during these periods.
The second lesson relates to the scheme conducted by the snake, alluding to the
yesser hara. He disguises himself as an innocent branch, sitting idly and
motionless. With each step we take, we run the risk of landing right in its trap,
Heaven forbid...
"When he [Yis'hak] took Rivkah...for himself as a wife"
Why does the Torah choose to specify in this verse that Rivkah was, "...the
daughter of Betuel the Aramite from Padan Aram, the sister of Lavan the
Aramite"? Furthermore, the phrase, "for himself" seems superfluous. Also, why
does the Torah note that Yis'hak was married at the age of forty? Rabbi Refael
Hamalach Birdogo zs"l of Miknas answers all these questions with a single
answer. Since the majority of the people of that time worshipped idols, and given

the influence exerted on the husband by his wife, Avraham waited for his son to
reach forty, the age of wisdom, so that the daughter of idolaters would be "for
him, a wife," under his positive influence, rather than the opposite.
"Yis'hak prayed to Hashem"
Hazal say that Rivkah was not granted pregnancy until Yis'hak's prayer, in order
that the non-Jews not claim that Lavan's blessing to her - "Our sister, you shall
come to be tens of thousands" -was responsible for her fertility. Rabbi Haim
Kohen of Aram Soba, one of the great students of the Ar"i zs"l, added that this is
the intention of the pasuk, "Yis'hak prayed to Hashem opposite ['nochah," related
to the word 'hochahah,' proof] his wife for she was barren," meaning, that Yis'hak
presented Hashem with the following argument: For twenty years now my wife
has been barren, and it has been effectively proven that Lavan's blessing was of
no avail. Therefore, the time is right for You to bless her with a child...
"And thereafter his [Esav's] brother came out"
The Ar"i zs"l explains that "Esav," an allusion to the evil inclination with which the
person is born, always comes out first. Only thereafter, as he takes upon himself
the yoke of misvot, does his "brother Yaakov" come out, the yesser tov of the
person emerges. He holds Esav's heel, restraining his temptations and decreasing
its strength, until, eventually, he acquires the birthright. The individual
understands that he must then listen to the yesser tov and offer him the
authority of the firstborn, not to the yesser hara which attempts to remove the
yoke of misvot from his shoulders. And then, he merits all the blessings!
Food Storage
Many animals prepare large areas of storage for food before the long, cold winter.
The most common of such creatures is, without question, the ant. Ants generally
gather food that grows from the ground. Some ants eat mushrooms, and collect
twigs and leaves which serve as a mat for their food. Other ants collect lice in
order to use the special liquid secreted by these lice.
During the summer, the European hamster prepares a large cave for the winter in
which he stores his food. This cave is divided into different compartments, each
containing a different type of food, such as potatoes or corn kernels. The
European hamster sometimes stores before the winter as much as ninety
kilograms of food.
The woodpecker collects acorns. It pecks hundreds of holes in the barks of trees
where he hides his acorns, in preparation for the winter.
The mole, which eats earthworms, also prepares a huge storage area, in which
can be found thousands of earthworms.
The Creator implanted within these animals the knowledge and intellect, not to
mention the desire, to prepare food for the difficult times. During these periods,
the animals benefit from their previous labor. The message we learn from these
creatures is that fortunate is the one who toils in this world, which is compared to

Erev Shabbat, for he will then be granted the opportunity to eat on Shabbat - the
World to Come.
The Severed Hand (5)
Flashback: The Sultan Abdul Magid saved the young twelve-year-old, Eli, from
hunger by supporting him while he attended school as well as caring for his
father. The father was treated with honor and recovered from his illness. Eli was
eventually appointed as court supervisor, and his father earned stature and
prominence as a result.
Meanwhile, a war broke out between Russia and Turkey, the War of 1854. The
army was busy in the battlefields, and the Sultan was compelled the ensure the
loyalty of his subjects. He was no longer capable of suppressing uprisings and
could not afford to have any new battle fronts open. The Ottoman Empire
consisted of many different nations, many of which were poor and downtrodden.
The Sultan therefore announced equal rights for all his subjects, regardless of
religion or nationality. In this way, he earned the trust and loyalty of many
different people, and he began drafting them into his army.
However, this gesture did not find favor among the zealous Moslems, who were
accustomed to their exclusive stature. The upper echelons in the army felt
threatened as talented generals replete with medals and decorations from other
countries began rapidly moving up in the ranks. The officers feared that the next
step would be the inclusion of officers from other nations and religions. These
fires of aggravation were fueled by the religious leaders, who secretly incited
others against the government's decisions and warned of grave consequences.
However, the Sultan's power remained steadfast, and his fear was still instilled
within the majority of the population. No officer, no general, not even a fiery
zealot dared call for a rebellion or translated the harsh warnings into action.
There was just one individual, who was incited by the religious leaders and whose
zeal knew no limits. This was none other than Mustafah Halil Aga, Eli's father,
who forgot the kindness the Sultan had showed him and his son, and he called a
gathering a rebels into his home...
to be continued...
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Rehearsal for afterlife part VI
The foundation of piety is the Awareness of the Afterlife. Therefore, any piety
without this foundation cannot be secure. This awareness is also the root from
which grows the perfect service; without this Awareness, there is no source or
incentive for perfect service of G-d. The joys of the Shabbat are a sensory means
of gaining Awareness of the World to Come. Happy is the nation which eats and
drinks on Shabbat, and reflects on the necessity of utilizing their lives for the
attainment of Perfection in G-d's service, and they sing of His creation of the
Universe out of nothing, and they are happy in his kindliness and enjoy his

bounty with gratitude; and all the while they contemplate themselves as
rehearsing for the great Shabbat to come when they shall be rewarded for this
happiness by an immensely greater joy which never comes to an end.

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Vayishlah
Saving lives overrides all misvot of the Torah, except for the three cardinal sins.
As Yaakov confronted Esav, he sent him gifts to appease him. According to Rashi
(32:14), he even sent precious jewels and gems. He bowed before him seven

times. As the entire Torah is a book of guidance and direction, Rabbi Yehudah
Hanasi would review this section before he would meet with gentile government
officials. Sometimes, we must make concessions.
However, some parts of the nation try to assume a change of values, as well.
They assume that the enemies of yesterday suddenly turned into our allies; those
who yesterday waved axes, who just the other day prepared knives for murder,
those who danced on the rooftops as missiles descended upon us, who proudly
had there pictures taken with body parts - that they are now our good friends.
Truth be told, this issue is dealt with in our parashah, as well. Esav expressed his
anger towards Yaakov thirty-six years earlier. At his mother's insistence Yaakov
fled, spending fourteen years in yeshivah and twenty years in Haran, "until your
brother's anger is turned away from you," until the level of fury has subsided. At
this point, Rivkah sent for Yaakov (Rashi, 35:8). Just as Yaakov came down from
the mountains of Haran, Esav greets him with four hundred men, with every
intention to kill and annihilate.
Yaakov calms his brother's fury through his gifts and bows. "Esav ran to greet
him, he hugged him, fell on his shoulders, and cried." The Midrash (Beresheet
Rabbah 78:9) writes, "Why are there dots in the Torah scroll over the word, 'he
kissed him'? To teach us that he did not come to kiss him but rather to bite him,
but Yaakov's neck was miraculously turned to marble, and this 'rasha' (Esav)
knocked his teeth against them. So what are we taught by the 'and he cried?'
Yaakov cried for his neck, and Esav cried for his teeth."
Very often, the enemy gladly accepts our gift, but eagerly awaits for us to turn
our necks to him. Even thirty-six years did not do away with the hostile
The Gemara tells a story reminiscent of another story, both of which remind us of
a sad reality.
The Gemara (Avodah Zarah 25b) teaches us that one who is traveling and
confronted by gangsters, if they ask him where he is headed, he should tell them
a destination farther than to where he is actually headed. This way, they will plot
to attack him at that spot, while he leaves the road at his true destination safe
from harm. This ploy was used by Yaakov, who told Esav, "...until I come to my
master in Se'ir," but, in the end, Yaakov continued along his previously planned
route, while Esav waited for him in Se'ir.
The Gemara continues with a story of Rav Menasheh who was confronted on the
road by a group of gangsters. When asked about his destination, he told them
Pumbedita, which was further than his planned destination. They waited for him
there, while he got off the road in Bet Turta.
They asked him, "Where did you learn this tactic?" He responded, "From my
rebbi, Rav Yehudah." "Ha!" they said, "from him you learned this trick!"
Amazing! They approach a wayfarer, a respected rabbi, planning to rob him. He
escapes from their plot, and suddenly they become kind-hearted and respectful
of his behavior.

This reminds us of the well known episode of a poverty-stricken villager who said
to his wife, "Let me go to the big city. Perhaps I'll find a job and be able to save up
some money." He found work as a baker's apprentice. There he found bread to
eat and a warm place to stay. He learned the trade and saved a considerable
amount of money. The time came when he said good bye to his workplace, took
his pouch of money and headed back to his village. He had saved enough money
to pay off his debts and even open a small bakery which could bring him a
comfortable income. His hopes were jarred by a sharp command: "Stop!"
From the woods along the side of the road came a bandit holding a gun. "Your
money or your life!"
One does not argue with a loaded weapon, and a person will gladly forgo on all
he has in exchange for his life. But this villager did present one request: "Look,
this money I have saved over the course of two years which I spent away from
my family. My wife is hungry, and I worked very hard. If I come home with no
money, she will think that I wasted my time in the city while she withered away
from hunger. Take the money, but do me a favor. I will take off my coat, like so,
and hang it on the tree. You will shoot a bullet into my coat so that she will
believe my story that I was ambushed on the road."
The robber agreed and shot at the coat. "Another bullet," the man insisted. The
bandit shot again. Now shoot at my hat. He placed the hat on top of the tree, and
his assailant shot. "Another bullet," he asked. "I'm sorry," said the robber, "I have
no more bullets left."
"If so," declared the man, "then I have no reason to be afraid of you!" He
attacked the thief, delivered a blow, knocked him to the ground, and took his
As he made his way further along the road he heard the attacker's voice crying
behind him, "Thief! Robber! Not only did you punch me, but you took my money!"
Indeed, this has always been the practice of criminals. Esav sold his birthright in
exchange for lentil soup and scorned his privileges as firstborn. Then he scorned
Yaakov for pulling off the clever scheme of purchasing these rights with soup.
Their father calls Esav, the firstborn in his eyes, to give him the special blessings.
Will Esav reveal the truth, that he does not deserve the blessings as he sold them
to his brother? No, certainly not. But when Yaakov comes along and takes the
blessings which are rightfully his, Esav cries bitterly - "What double trickery! He
took both the birthright and the blessings!"
This has always been their approach. There is a law requiring education in Israel.
It is supposed to look after the people's educational needs. Magnificent edifices
have been built for the general schools, with plenty of room and beauty. They are
equipped with computers, laboratories, and special program rooms. But none of
this substitutes for values. It has not curbed the tide of violence and drug
addiction. Parents who are genuinely concerned about their children's education,
who disapprove of the rampant permissiveness of society, improper speech,
rebellion against parental authority, rejection of all that is sacred - parents who
want true education choose the beautiful Torah educational systems. But
whenever they exert any pressure for the enhancement of their programs and

schools, such an uproar is generated! Such a storm erupts! How dare the victims
dare to fight back...
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
The Obligation of "Me'en Shalosh" in Israel and the Diaspora
The Gemara (Berachot 44a) says that with regard to the blessing of "me'en
shalosh" there exists an important distinction between Israel and the Diaspora.
When reciting "me'en shalosh" for fruits in Israel, the berachah concludes, "al
ha'aress ve'al peroteha" ("...for the land and its fruits") whereas outside of Israel
the proper conclusion is, "al ha'aress ve'al haperot" ("...for the land and the
fruits"). The later commentaries explain that when we say the phrase "for the
land" we thank Hashem for giving us the Land of Israel, and the expression "and
its fruits" constitutes praise to the Al-mighty for giving us the fruits of the country
just mentioned, i.e., Israel. Thus, outside of Israel, where one eats fruits which did
not grow in the land just mentioned (Israel), he cannot say the words, "for ITS
fruit," for he did not partake of the fruits of the country just mentioned.
Therefore, he must use the more generic term, "and the fruits."
The earlier authorities are in dispute regarding one who eats Israeli-grown fruits
while in the Diaspora. Is the determining factor the location of the one eating the
fruits, and thus in such a situation he would recite "for the fruits" ("ve'al
haperot"), or does the issue depend upon the place in which the fruits were
grown, and thus in our case one would have to recite "for its fruits" ("ve'al
peroteha")? Rabbenu Yonah raises this question and writes that one should recite
the blessing that he would normally recite in his location; since he is in the
Diaspora and most fruits he encounters were grown outside Israel, he should
recite "ve'al haperot." The Rashba, however, assumes as obvious that the place
where the fruits grow is the determining factor. And thus, since these fruits in
such a case were grown in Israel, the proper conclusion to the blessing is "ve'al
peroteha." The Shulhan Aruch (208:10) rules in accordance with the Rashba, that
the determining factor is the where the fruits were grown, and the proper
blessing is therefore "al peroteha" even when eating these fruits outside of Israel.
However, the later authorities disagree regarding the halachah for fruits grown in
the Diaspora and imported to Israel. Some reason that since these fruits were
gathered in Israel, they attain the status of Israeli fruits, as the mishnah states,
that fruits imported into Israel and the final stages of production (i.e., the
collection of the fruits into organized heaps of produce) were done in Israel,
require the separation of "terumah" and "maaser," like all Israeli fruits (as cited
by the Shulhan Aruch Yoreh Dei'ah 331:12). However, other authorities draw a
distinction between the requirement of "terumah" and that of the proper
berachah aharonah. Namely, that "terumah" is a decree of the Torah, which
determined that the final stages of processing in Israel generate the obligation to
separate "terumah." Regarding our discussion, however, if one recites "al
peroteha" ("its fruits") over fruits grown outside of Israel he is, in effect, lying, as
these fruits were grown in the Diaspora. As for the final "pesak," Rav Ovadia
Yossef shlit"a rules that in such an instance one recites, "al haperot" ("for the
fruits"), and this is, in fact, the prevalent custom.

In summary , one who eats a "kezayit" of Israeli fruits must recite a berachah
aharonah with the conclusion "al ha'asress ve'al peroteha." However, one who
eats fruits grown in the Diaspora concludes his blessing with, "al ha'aress ve'al
haperot." One who is outside of Israel and eats Israeli-grown fruit concludes his
blessing "ve'al peiroteha," and, by the same token, one who eats foreign produce
in Israel concludes "ve'al hapeirot."
Rabbi Yehezkel Kohen zs"l
While still a young orphan, Rabbi Yehezkel Kohen zs"l moved from Persia to
Jerusalem. He studied and grew within the walls of the yeshivah "Porat Yosef,"
under the tutelage of Rabbi Yaakov Meir zs"l and Rabbi Ovadia Hedayeh zs"l who
formally ordained him as a halachic authority. He drew water of knowledge also
from the fountains of the "Saba Kadisha" Maharsh"a Alefandri zs"l, who was very
close with the young student and invited him to join his "seder" at his home. He
taught Torah for many years in Jerusalem, held public gatherings, and gave
"shiurim" in the Old City of Jerusalem as well as other locales. He established
groups for the recitation of Tehillim and brought many souls closer to Torah and
misvot. After much insistence, he finally agreed to the request of Rabbi Bensiyon
Meir Hai Uziel zs"l to assume the position of Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Rehovot.
Immediately, he proceeded to institute public Torah classes. He would personally
travel from one synagogue to another to deliver clear and enjoyable Torah
classes, demonstrating his great mastery of Torah and proficiency in halachah.
After his long day of intensive work in teaching Torah, serving on a court as an
arbiter between conflicting parties, bringing peace and harmony between
litigants, and writing halachic rulings, he would sit in his chair at home at night
studying Torah, sleeping only a little bit here and there. He fulfilled the very literal
meaning of the verse, "and you shall involve yourself with it [the Torah] day and
night." Few people were aware of his proficiency in Kabbalah, and he would
concentrate during prayers on all the sacred allusions in the prayers taught by
the Ar"I zs"l. Two weeks prior to his death he was informed that he had been
selected as Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivat Bet El, a yeshivah of mystical studies, in
Jerusalem. Trembling, he responded, "Me?! Who am I to accept such an exalted
The city of Rehovot was privileged to have this angelic figure in its midst, a man
whose legacy continues to this very day.
"He [Yaakov] purchased the plot of land"
Why did the Torah specify that Yaakov purchased a plot of land near Shechem for
one hundred gold coins? The Ramban zs"l writes that Yaakov wanted that his
residence on the land would be like a true owner, and not like a guest or
foreigner. Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra zs"l writes, "The text mentioned this to tell us
that the Land of Israel possesses a special quality, and one who has a part in it is
considered to have a part in the World to Come." However, this alone does not
suffice, as Yaakov built an altar to Hashem. The true special quality of Israel is
only when its inhabitants worship Hashem!
"He purchased the plot of the field"

The text notes that Yaakov bought the field because it had mentioned that he
built an altar to Hashem, and, writes Rabbi Ovadyah Seforno zs"l, "How can we
sing the song of Hashem on foreign soil?" Rabbi Hayim Vital zs"l adds that at the
end of the book of Shemuel, King David is instructed to build an altar to Hashem
in the granary of Aravnah, on the Temple Mount, in order to stop the ravages of a
plague. Aravnah was prepared to give the field to the Jewish king for free, but
David refused: "I will not offer sacrifices to Hashem for free." From here the Zohar
derives the one should purchase misvot for their proper price.
"He purchased the plot of the field"
The Hid"a zs"l writes in the name of the "Nimukei Ri"d": "Since Yaakov was
dwelling there only temporarily, why did he have to purchase a piece of land?
Would he buy land wherever he went? The answer is that since he had built and
altar, he did not want the inhabitants to destroy it. Therefore, he purchased the
From here we may learn that the synagogues and study halls which our ancestor
built and cultivated over the course of generations should be protected that they
are not destroyed.
Last week we learned of the existence of no fewer than 30,000 different types of
fish. Many of them share common characteristics. These characteristics are
shared even by the smallest of fish as well as the largest sharks in the ocean who
grow as large as eighteen meters. One of the indications of the "kashrut" of a fish
is its scales. The function of the scales is to help reduce the resistance of the
water. They are pointed backwards, and the skin secretes a smooth emission
which further reduces this resistance.
The actual movement of the fish is conducted with the help of the fins of the tail.
The swinging of the tail pushes a given quantity of water back and, in this way,
the fish swims forward. The sea horse is an interesting fish whose head tilts
forward and resembles the form of a horse. It uses its curved tail to take hold of
the vegetation of the sea. An amazing phenomenon with which Hashem equipped
fish is a special "air balloon" which helps the fish float. This balloon gets filled
according to the need at any given moment. The fish can determine at which sea
level it will float, depending on whether he wants to ascend or descend.
How great are Your works, Hashem!
The Severed Hand (7)
Flashback: The rebels against the Sultan gathered in the home of Mustafa Halil
Aga, who had benefited from the generosity of the Sultan towards him and his
son. Their anger was triggered by the granting of equal rights to all people in the
Empire, which, they feared, would threaten their stature. They forced the Sultan's
Jewish doctor to poison the Sultan at the threat of death if he refused. He agreed,
but with one stipulation:

"If you do want me to poison the Sultan, you must write me an explicit
declaration, signed by all of you, that I will be protected," said Dr. Shepisser. His
request was granted. He drew up the text of the document, and the one hundred
and twenty rebels - under the leadership of the prince Abad Al Aziz, the Sultan's
brother, who was to assume the Sultan's place after the assassination - signed
the declaration. They then formally swore him in as a member of their revolution
and the gathering dispersed. The plan was to join forces in twenty-one days, at
which time the doctor would poison the Sultan and receive his compensation.
The doctor left and walked about in a daze. The writ stung at his side like a burn.
How can he take someone's life, when his physician's oath obligated him to cure
and heal, to save people's lives? He is commanded, as a Jew, to honor the
sanctity of human life! Especially given the fact that the Sultan had always
treated him very favorably, bringing him from his country of birth for a huge
salary, and brought him closer than even the seven physicians serving in the
king's court.
On the other hand, the rebels' strength was considerable, as the bitter feelings
against the Sultan's policies grew stronger and more widespread. These feelings
were being continuously fueled by the religious leaders. At that meeting he saw
officials about whose loyalty he had been certain, and even they had joined
forces with the rebels. There were officers and generals who owed all their
success to the Sultan, very high-ranking officials, not to mention the religious
leaders at the meeting. Even if he refuses to obey their order, the revolution
would almost certainly occur, and the rebels would take revenge against the
doctor and his family. What should he do?
Soon enough, he was given a good indication as to how widespread the
revolution really was...
to be continued
"The True Honor of a Princess is Inside"
A frightening event takes place in our parashah. An event so terrifying even if it
would occur to the lowest family in Israel, and how much more unsettling it is
when such a tragedy befalls the choicest of the three patriarchs, all of whose
children grew to be righteous leaders of the tribes of our people. We refer, of
course, to the incident of Dinah. For what reason did such a terrible thing
happen? Hazal found a measure of guilt on the part of Yaakov, the slightest
oversight, and sadikim are punished by Hashem for even the slightest errors.
What was his mistake? That he did not immediately fulfill the terms of his oath
which he swore in Bet El, to build an altar (Rashi, 35:1). But, beyond this mistake,
the incident of Dinah was brought about by a more immediate cause: "Dinah
went out to see the girls of the land." Of course, she did not go to spend time
with the boys, Heaven forbid. Rather, she heard the sounds of maidens, and she
wanted to go take a look. "Shechem, the son of Hamor, saw her...and took her."
His action brought about immeasurable shame and distress to her and her entire
family, untold anguish to Yaakov, and, ultimately, devastation to himself and the
entire city. If only she would have gone together with her brothers!

As the Torah is a book of guidance, there are lessons to be learned from each and
every episode. The Zohar writes, "May the spirit leave one who says that the
stories in the Torah are just stories. They are only the exterior for the inner soul
within them." We must look deeper to find the message latent in each section of
the Torah.
Here, the message is clear: If Yaakov had instructed Dinah to remain home, not to
go out when she wasn't supposed to - he would have spared himself all the
ensuing misery, all the anguish which he subsequently suffered.
True, Dinah might have complained, "What's wrong with going outside, to get
some fresh air, to rinse my eyes a bit, to see what the other girls are doing?" Of
course, such activity is permissible. She would have certainly asked, "What's
going to happen to me?" Nothing, of course.
But when the Attribute of Justice is, Heaven forbid, in force, when there is a
prosecutor overhead working against us, then it waits for any opportunity, any
free moment. And then, even an innocent trip can become an excuse, and lead to
unspeakable horror.
We must pay attention, especially in such difficult times such as ours.
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Menucha for pursuit of da'at (part I)
Aaron: Alas that we do not possess Shelomo's words on this subject. They would
have inspired us greatly.
Mr. Goodfriend: His words had an immense effect, as can be expected from such
a study, especially when taught by a Sage of such dimension. "They came from
all the nations to hear the wisdom of Shelomo" (ibid., 5:14). But the Creator has
granted us a form of compensation. Because men's minds became stultified and
are now less capable of discerning G-d's wisdom and His kindliness in all things,
He has sent in modern times a vast abundance of additional knowledge of nature,
in order to stir the minds and to facilitate the recognition of the kindly plan-andpurpose in the Universe. Today, countless marvels of biology and chemistry and
physics have been demonstrated; and anyone who is willing is now able to
perceive the miracles of Creation spread out in a manifold panorama before his

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Mikess
On the way back from Egypt, Yaakov's sons, the founders of the sacred tribes of
Israel, stay over in an inn. One son opens his luggage to feed the animals, and
suddenly finds in his sack the money which he had taken to Egypt to purchase
food. After he reported his finding to his brothers, "Their heart left them, and they
trembled one to another saying, 'What is this that Hashem has done to us?'"
Let's imagine what would have been our reaction if such an incident were to
happen to us. Would we not have been elated, having found money which we
weren't expecting? At best we would have wondered about its source. But the
Torah here provides us with guidance how to react in such a situation: "What is
this that Hashem has done to us?" What is being told to us from the Heavens,
what is being alluded to?
This perspective allows us the comfort of knowing that nothing happens
coincidentally; it forces us to recognize that everything is destined from Above.
This is also the message of Hanukah. In the "al hanisim" prayer, we praise the Almighty for the great military victory of the small Hashmonaim armies against the
Greek Empire. But the commemoration of this miracle is accomplished by lighting
the candles, as we remember the great miracle which occurred during the time of
the second Bet Hamikdash, the reinstating of the service after the Greek

occupation. This commemoration establishes that we are aware "what this is that
Hashem has done to us." We declare our belief that this victory occurred only so
that we may serve Hashem in His Bet Hamikdash.
This, indeed, is the message for us in our age. We must ask ourselves, "What is
this that God has done to us?" Why have we merited that which our ancestors
have not, to return to the Promised Land and redeem it from its desolation, to
withstand the threat of seven powerful nations? How much does this obligate us
to commit ourselves more than ever to Torah and misvot!
Yosef was locked in prison for twelve years. For twelve years, he lived in gloom
and darkness. Then, suddenly and without warning, "Pharaoh sent, called Yosef,
and they hurried him from the pit. He shaved, changed his clothes, and came
before Pharaoh." Before you know it, Yosef is the viceroy of Egypt!
Hazal note that this trend occurs regularly to sadikim as well as to the nation as a
whole. "From crisis to tranquillity, from darkness to light, from descent to ascent."
Recall Mordechai who rose from sack-cloth, mourning, fasting, wailing, and
eulogy to being displayed gloriously throughout the city as Shushan celebrated.
When the Jews were in Egypt, from the suffering of bondage where they were not
even given straw to make bricks they were redeemed and emerged to freedom.
Similarly, during the time of the ultimate redemption, from all the crises and
difficulties of the precursor to the messianic era, salvation will emerge. This trend
we find first with Yosef, who left prison to become the Egyptian viceroy.
Furthermore, we are told, "They rushed him from the pit." The process occurred
quickly and frantically. Such was the case regarding the salvation of Shushan,
when Haman was rushed to Esther's feast which led to his downfall. Rabbi
Ovadyah Seforno zs"l writes, "They hurried him from the pit - as is the case
regarding all divine salvation which always occurs in an instant, as it says, 'For
My salvation is soon to come' (Yeshayahu 56:1), and, 'If only My nation would
listen to Me, Yisrael would walk in My ways, in an instant I would humble their
enemies and I would send My hand against their oppressors' (Tehillim 81:14). This
was also the process involved in the redemption from Egypt, as it says, 'For they
were chased from Egypt' (Shemot 12:39), as Hazal said (Haggadah), 'Our
forefathers' dough did not have a chance to rise until the Al-mighty revealed
Himself to them.' He has told us that this will happen in the future, as well, as it
says, 'Suddenly he [the Messianic King (Radak)] will come to his palace, the
master whom you seek, and the angel of the covenant [Eliyahu (Radak)] for
whom you long, behold he is coming, said the Lord of Hosts' (Malachi 3:1)."
In a well-known passage in the Midrash, Eliyahu is said to have instructed Rabbi
Yehoshua Ben Levi as to where he can meet Eliyahu. He told him how he would
recognize the prophet: his entire body would be full of wounds. He represents the
generic soul, that of the entire nation, and when the people sin and thereby injure
the national soul, their sins are perceived in the physical condition of the
Messianic King, and he is inflicted on account of our misdeeds. He deals with his
wounds one at a time, treating each wound as soon as it surfaces. Why does he
not treat his injuries like regular patients, who apply the medication all at once?
Because he is afraid lest he delay the moment of redemption for even a single
instant. He wants to be sure that he is ready the very moment of redemption,
that nobody will have to wait for him to bandage his wounds. Haven't his people

waited already for two thousand years? We can certainly wait another five
minutes! But no - this is how the divine salvation unfolds. It cannot be delayed for
even a single moment.
If we take a careful look around us, if we examine the events of our times, an era
which has brought such drastic changes in the way people live - we must ask
ourselves, technology continues to progress in leaps and bounds, reality is
changing constantly, what is the common denominator shared by all these
advances, the thread which has remained constant throughout the changes of
the last few generations? The answer is, clearly, speed, the advanced rate at
which things run. To think that just one hundred years ago the overwhelming
majority of people traveled with a horse and buggy! Roads were paved and rail
tracks were built, and suddenly vast distances between different locations
shrunk. Steam engines were soon replaced by electric-run trains, just as
steamboats were replaced by speedboats. The original airplanes were improved
and eventually the Concord was produced. The old radios which needed time to
warm up were substituted by transistors which are activated in an instant. The
original, slow computers were quickly outdated and considered archaic.
Microchips now transmit millions of bytes of information in a matter of
milliseconds, and today's progress is ancient history compared to tomorrow's
technology. The old rotary phones were replaced by touch-tone. People, too, have
become rushed, pressured, running here and there, left without time to relax,
anxious and uptight, always hurrying.
In the political world, too, processes which unfolded over a century,
encompassing two world wars and countless smaller battles, the rise of
communism and its aftermath, the death of tens of millions in concentration and
labor camps, in famine and floods, all of this was overturned in such a short
period of time, as if from Above all these processes were brought to an abrupt
All of this signifies the developing redemption, about which it is said, "Suddenly
the master whom you seek will come," suddenly the most fundamental change
will occur, and new, fresh light will shine upon siyon!
Based Upon the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a Taken from "Torat Hamoadim",
by Rabbi David Yossef shlit"a, rabbi of Har Nof, and Rosh Bet Midrash Yehaveh
Da'at The Laws of Hanukah
1) On Mosa'ei Shabbat Hanukah in the synagogue, the Hanukah candles are lit
first, and only then is havdalah recited so as to delay the end of Shabbat as much
as possible. Although the one who actually lights the candle detaches himself
from Shabbat automatically through this act, nevertheless, the rest of the
congregation, who are not fulfilling their misvah through this lighting, can retain
their observance of Shabbat for those extra moments. Furthermore, lighting in
this order contributes to the publicizing of the miracle, for if havdalah is recited
first then people will begin to leave, and fewer people will be present for the
lighting of the Hanukah candles.
2) All this pertains specifically to the lighting of Hanukah candles in the
synagogue. Regarding the lighting in the home, however, since the lighting itself
constitutes a break with Shabbat, havdalah should be recited first, as the misvah

which occurs more often always takes precedence. Hanukah candles should then
be lit following the recitation of havdalah.
3) In the synagogue, when the Hanukah candles are lit first, the berachah over
fire ("borei me'orei ha'esh") is not recited over the Hanukah candles, as it is
forbidden to derive any form of benefit from their light, and one recites this
blessing only over light from which one derives benefit. However, one may recite
the berachah over the "shamash" (though it is preferable to recite the berachah
over a torch-like candle).
4) Many particularly pious individuals are careful not to perform any activity
forbidden on Shabbat until what's known as "Rabbenu Tam" time (generally a
little over an hour after sunset). People who are accustomed to this practice
should follow this procedure on Shabbat Hanukah, as well, and thus they should
not light Hanukah candles until after this time.
Although it is preferable to light Hanukah candles as early on in the night as
possible and the custom of extending Shabbat is merely a custom, nevertheless
it is a worthy practice as it has been observed by many great rabbis, and it is also
the view of the Shulhan Aruch whose rulings we have accepted as authoritative.
5) The custom is to eat festive meals on Hanukah, and some say that these
meals are considered meals of misvah. All opinions agree that if these meals are
accompanied with songs of praise to Hashem then they attain the status of
"se'udat misvah." This is certainly true if divrei Torah of any nature are recited at
these meals.
6) Some have the custom to eat dairy products on Hanukah, in commemoration
of the event recorded in the Midrash about Yehudit, daughter of Yohanan Kohen
Gadol, who fed the enemy general cheese which made him thirsty, eventually
leading to his intoxication, allowing her to decapitate him, effectively ending the
7) We include "al hanisim" in our birkat hamazon, before the paragraph of "ve'al
hakol." If one forgets to recite al hanisim and remembers before mentioning
Hashem's name in the blessing, then he goes back and recites it, and then
continues with birkat hamazon as usual. However, once he says Hashem's name
in the berachah he does not go back to insert al hanisim. Preferably, in such a
situation, he should insert in the "harahaman" section, "Harahaman hu ya'aseh
imanu nissim ve'niflaot..." as is printed in many sidurim and birkonim.
8) Similarly, if one forgot to recite "al hanisim" during Amidah, if he remembered
before saying the name of Hashem then he goes back and recites it. However, if
he already recited "Baruch atah Hashem" then he simply continues with his
tefilah. Preferably, after "elokai nessor" he should say "Modim anahnu lach al
hanisim ve'al hapurkan..." until "'nodeh leshimcha hagadol selah".
Rabbi Yaish Kohen zs"l
On the last day of Hanukah 5758, fourteen years will have passed since the
passing of Rabbi Yaish Cohen zs"l, the son-in-law of the great Kabbalist, Rabbi
Yosef Ohayon zs"l, author of "Avkat Rochel."

Rabbi Yaish zs"l was born in Morocco around ninety years ago, and already in his
childhood he demonstrated his good manners, unusual humility, and upright
behavior. It is told that he once returned from a celebration in the synagogue and
found in his pocket left-over food which apparently fell from the table. He
immediately returned to the synagogue to bring back the remains. Due to his
extraordinary integrity, the governor appointed him to collect the taxes. He was
very meticulous to ensure that he would not overcharge the people. Although the
governor was disturbed by the fact that Rabbi Yaish would not overcharge, and
would thus bring in less revenue, he was nevertheless happy with this taxcollector, as he could rest assured that no money is being mishandled or
An exceedingly G-d-fearing man, Rabbi Yaish would fast throughout the Ten Days
of Repentance as well as every Erev Rosh Hodesh. Once he became very sick as a
result of his fast, but still refused to eat until he received "hatarat nedarim" by
three competent rabbis.
His charitable quality was particularly remarkable. Whenever he would hear of a
family in need, he would have no rest until their needs were cared for. If he came
across a neglected synagogue, he would immediately look after its renovation.
When a relative came upon hard times, Rabbi Yaish filled his store with
merchandise from his own money. When those funds were lost, as well, Rabbi
Yaish, in fulfillment of the dictum that one must give to the poor even many times
over, once again filled the store with merchandise!
He also followed in the ways of our patriarch, Avraham, with regard to the
practice of inviting guests. Once, the governor forbade the welcoming of
strangers into the area unless the host would accept full responsibility for their
actions. In order to fulfill the misvah of welcoming guests, Rabbi Yaish willingly
accepted responsibility for all his guests.
"Yosef opened all that was in them"
"The famine was all over the land, so Yosef opened all that was in them,"
referring to the storage of grain. The Or Hahayim zs"l asks, why did he open all
the storage houses? Didn't he know that seven full years of famine lay ahead of
him? We would have expected him to have distributed the grain gradually, in
rations, so as to ensure a sufficient supply throughout the years of famine. He
answers that herein lies the great wisdom of Yosef. For were he to have
distributed only a little at a time, such that people would sense the devastation of
the famine, there would be mass hysteria and people would save more and more,
resulting in even a greater lack of grain.
"That which G-d is doing He has shown Pharaoh"
Rabbi Avraham Azulai zs"l asks in the name of his teacher, the Ar"i zs"l, why did
Yosef suggest storing grain, when he was summoned only to interpret the dream,
not to offer practical advice. The answer lies in a statement in the Gemara
(Berachot 55) that the Al-mighty Himself announces three events: famine,
surplus, and the appointment of a competent leader. Thus, Yosef told Pharaoh,
"That which G-d is doing" - by Himself, referring to famine and surplus, "He has

shown Pharaoh." Therefore, you must also find the appropriate leader who was
appointed from Above: "Now, Pharaoh should appoint a wise, intelligent man..."
"Yosef remembered the dreams"
Rabbi Hayim Kefusi zs"l asks, didn't the Torah already write, "Yosef saw his
brothers and remembered them?" Why does the Torah need to add, "Yosef
recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. Yosef remembered the
dreams which he dreamt about them..."? Furthermore, why did Yosef appoint
himself as his brothers' judge, accusing them of espionage so as to bring about
the fulfillment of his dreams? In truth, one question answers the next. When he
saw that he recognized them immediately but they -all ten brothers - did not
recognize him, he said to himself, "This cannot be! This defies the natural order!
This must be a signal from Heaven that I am to bring about the fulfillment of the
The Polar Bear
All around is nothing but endless masses of snow, gigantic icebergs, and bitter
cold dipping as low as -58 degrees fahrenheit. Despite all this, there live many
animals even in these harsh conditions, among them, the polar bear.
The Al-mighty provided these animals with the necessary equipment to protect
themselves from the dangers of the severe cold. The polar bear is covered with
thick, white fur, and underneath it is supported by layers of fat, offering further
The bear's feet, too, are covered with fur which also gives it traction as it walks
on the ice. Thanks to these excellent means of protection, the bear, who is known
as an outstanding swimmer, is capable of catching its food as he swims even in
near-freezing water.
Its white fur affords it outstanding camouflage against the snowy background of
its environment, thus allowing it to sneak upon its prey unnoticed.
However, the polar bear has many enemies. Its high-quality fur has attracted
many hunters, almost to the point of extinction.
In recent years laws have been passed restricting the hunting of polar bears in
order to allow them to continue living in these frozen areas, there natural habitat
from the six days of creation.
We see how the Creator has endowed His creatures with the necessary facilities
to exist in any conditions in which they were meant to live.
The Severed Hand (9)
Flashback: Despite the Sultan's kindness to the youngster, Eli, and his father,
Mustafa Halil, the father joined the rebellious conspiracy and opened his home to
be used for meetings of the rebels. They forced Dr. Shepisser, the Sultan's doctor,

to poison the Sultan, and they signed an agreement to protect him after the
assassination. Now, the doctor's wife is speaking with a fortune-teller who is
entertaining the dignitaries' wives and wishes to impress Mrs. Shepisser.
The doctor's wife gazed at the fortune-teller and did not understand what she
was talking about. Her husband had told her nothing. The sorceress looked again
at the acorns in the ashes and muttered, "I can see...I can see that this will take
place in the next few days...Yes, I can see that in your husband's hand there is an
important piece of paper...there are many over it carefully, for
it is the source of his success and fortune. Be over it carefully..."
Suddenly she cried frantically, "If it is lost, there will fall on your heads terrible
calamity - you will be lost forever!"
From the corner of her eye she gazed at the doctor's wife and saw that she has
not succeeded in her attempt to impress her. She took a nut from the bowl,
looked at it carefully, and said, "I can see...I can see that your husband
participated this week in a very important meeting. There were officers, generals,
the heir to the throne." She glanced again at the woman before her, who
remained indifferent. Is it possible that she is just pretending? This woman must
be convinced of her magical powers! She informed her of that which was told to
her secretly: "The Sultan himself was there!" She once again gazed at the nut and
said, "Or, he who will soon become the Sultan. I see...I see that your husband kills
"Lies!" shouted the doctor's wife. "You are a liar! My husband never killed
"Ask him," said the woman with a smile of victory. "Ask him, and only then will
you realize that I speak the truth. Ask him, and you will realize that I know things
about him that his own wife does not know!"
The woman left in a fury, and her friends realized that she heard frightening
things. "We told you that she knows everything," they said...
to be continued
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Menucha for Pursuit of Da'at (part III)
Printing, and now the offset process, are of the greatest value to the
dissemination of the Torah, and jet-plane transportation is most properly utilized
by Torah-students who travel to the far-off Yeshivot. Just as radio is best
employed for the teaching of the Talmud, so also are the advances in the exact
sciences intended for our recognition of the Creator by means of recognizing His
wisdom. In Shelomo's time, the 40 years of peace were utilized as the great
opportunity for the pursuit of this study, and all the phenomena of the world
passed in review before the eyes of this noble generation: plants, beasts, fowl,
denizens of the sea and insects.

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Vayigash
This Thursday we observe the fast of the Tenth of Tevet, commemorating the
beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. One may not treat this fast
lightly, by any means. In fact, some of our rabbis have written that, theoretically,
were the fast to occur on Shabbat, a situation which is impossible by virtue of our
calendar system, then we would fast nonetheless, in spite of Shabbat. In this
sense, this fast is more stringent than Tisha Be'Av (which will occur on Shabbat
this year if the Mashiah does not arrive before then, Heaven forbid) which is
delayed until Sunday should it fall out on Shabbat.
Why is this fast so stringent? After all, no serious calamity had occurred! The
devastation of the siege had yet to surface, the ravages of hunger had yet to be
felt. However, therein lies the answer. The other fasts require introspection

regarding events of the past; they force us to reflect on the destruction of the
Temple, its causes and ramifications. This can be delayed a day, if need be. The
Tenth of Tevet, by contrast, was instituted as a warning to look ahead to the
future, to take heed of the indications of heavenly prosecution against us, of the
potential calamity which threatens to strike. Such introspection is urgent! It
cannot be delayed, not even a single day! Just as in times of severe crisis a fast
may be observed even on Shabbat (in certain instances, as governed by
halachah), similarly, introspection of this nature, which evolves from a keen
recognition of the various signals and warnings which Hashem sends us, cannot
be delayed and must be conducted at once.
So many such signals and warnings have been sent to us recently. How urgent it
is, then, that we conduct a serious procedure of introspection and repentance, to
increase our observance of misvot and protect ourselves from the divine wrath.
In our parashah, Yaakov stands before Pharaoh. Yaakov, referred to as the
"choicest" of the patriarchs, a remarkable sadik, one hundred and thirty years of
age, who defeated an angel, in whose presence angels stood in awe and
reverence, who was granted a divine blessing in a prophetic vision - was Pharaoh
capable of appreciating the privilege he had, to behold such an exalted individual
of Yaakov's stature?
The pasuk states, "Yaakov blessed Pharaoh." The Ramban explains, "Like the
custom of elders and pious individuals who come before kings to bless them with
wealth, honor, and the stability of his reign."
The Midrash (Bemidbar Rabbah 8:4) writes, "He blessed him that the famine
should come to an end," that the millions of Egyptians and inhabitants of the
surrounding countries be spared from the next five years of famine which were to
have continued. Once Yaakov arrived, the Egyptians, who had already sold
themselves as slaves to Pharaoh, ate from their grain and yielded great dividends
for the royal treasury.
It is further written (in Targum Yonatan and Tanhuma, Parashat Naso) that Yaakov
blessed Pharaoh that when the king would go to the Nile River, upon which the
nation's agriculture depended, the river should rise to greet him and overflow its
banks, thus irrigating the surrounding fields. What a marvelous blessing! How
much honor, respect, and wealth did Pharaoh gain as a result of Yaakov's
Not too many years later, Pharaoh enslaved the grandchildren of that same
Yaakov, the one who provided so much wealth and honor to the Egyptian
monarch. What happened to the blessing that the Nile should rise to greet
Pharaoh? Hazal write (Otiyot De'Rabbi Akiva, 100) that when Moshe and Aharon
came before Pharaoh to demand that he free the Jewish slaves the king
responded, "Who is Hashem that I should listen to him?" Moshe and Aharon
answered, "He is the creator of the world, the one who both brings and ends life.
By His word does the dew and rain fall, and the fruits grow and feed the Earth."
Said Pharaoh, "I don't need Him. I created myself. You say that he brings rain - I
have the Nile which rises for me and whose waters are blessed on my behalf," as
the verse states, "I [Hashem] will come upon you, Pharaoh King of Egypt...who
says, 'My river is for me and I made myself.'"

To claim, "I created myself" is utter absurdity, like the ignorance of the scientists
who claim that the world created itself. However, to claim that the Nile is his, to
point to the special blessing of having the river rise for him as a proof to his
divinity, to deny the existence of G-d who provided these wonderful blessings, to
subjugate His children - this is outright evil and gall, beyond stupidity.
The Torah is eternal. We witness this very phenomenon today. The Torah is the
source of all blessing, and Hazal write, "One who has an ill patient in his home
should go to the sage to ask for mercy." The Torah exists only in the merit of
Torah study, as the pasuk states, "If not for My covenant of day and night, I would
not have placed the laws of the heavens and earth." Military victory too comes in
the merit of Torah study, as the pasuk states, "Our feet were standing" - alluding
to military success - "in your gates, Jerusalem" - in the merit of the Batei Midrash
of Jerusalem. The industry of Zevulun enjoys prosperity only in the merit of the
Torah of Yissachar. "If there is no Torah, there is no flour."
On the other hand, "If there is no flour, there is no Torah." Those who immerse
themselves in Torah study require a portion of the blessing for which they are
responsible in order that they can continue yielding the fruits of prosperity. The
question is, are those who benefit from the blessing of these Torah scholars
aware of this, or are they like Pharaoh, who denies the source of his blessing and
attributes it instead to himself and his power, and uses it to increase the burden
and difficulty of those who study Torah!
The Baal Shem Tov zs"l presented the following example. A battalion of footsoldiers besieged a rebel city. Eventually, the city surrendered as the effects of
the siege became unbearable. When the white flag was flown and the gates
opened, the soldiers planned to storm the city and take the spoils of war.
However, before they made their way into the city, the chariots sped by and
plundered the city. Their faces radiating, they exited the city, their pockets full of
spoil and booty. As they passed the disappointed soldiers, they shouted, "Don't
worry - we will share our spoils with you. But couldn't you just give us some food
to refresh us after this long, arduous siege!"
Similarly, Torah scholars kill themselves in the tents of Torah, and in their merit
the world is showered with divine blessing. Those who work enjoy the bounty of
these blessings, but they are not willing to share it. If only they knew in whose
merit the blessing has come, so that those who study Torah can receive their
rightfully-earned portion.
If only they would not be like Pharaoh, who said, "This is my river, and the
blessing is from my own power..."
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
The Five Species of Grain Which Grew in Israel
In previous issues we have discussed the distinction between fruits grown in
Israel and those grown outside of Israel, in that the berachah aharonah for Israeli

fruits ends, "ve'al peroteha" whereas the blessing for fruits of the Diaspora
concludes, "ve'al haperot." We cited the source of this halachah, an explicit
Gemara in Masechet Berachot (44a).
The poskim are in dispute regarding "pat haba'ah be'kisnin" (baked grain foods
such as cake, pie, or crackers, which do not have the characteristics of bread). In
"Pe'at Hashulhan," a view is cited from the Tosafists that on such foods made
from grain grown in Israel the blessing ends, "al ha'aress ve'al mihyatah." The
Ra'ah, however, argues, and contends that only with regard to fruit do we
distinguish between Israeli produce and that of the Diaspora, but not with regard
to grain. The Nessiv zs"l explains the distinction between fruits and grains, that
Israeli fruits are significant in that the Torah praises the Land of Israel on account
of these fruits, but for the various species of grain the land was not praised (the
pasuk mentions only wheat and barley). Therefore, with regard to grain, there is
no reason to differentiate between that which was grown in Israel and that which
was grown outside of Israel, and the berachah aharonah for grain will always
conclude, "al ha'aress ve'al hamihyah." However, in "She'elot Uteshuvot Halachot
Ketanot" (vol. 2, ch. 55) the author writes that the prevalent custom is to
distinguish between grain grown in Israel and that grown outside of Israel, and
although there is no conclusive source to this effect, we should follow this timehonored custom. The Hid"a, in Birkei Yosef (208:10) adds that the fact that all five
grains are not mentioned as species for which Israel was praised is not relevant
to the discussion, since several Aharonim hold that bikkurim is brought from all
five species, despite the fact that only wheat and barley are mentioned explicitly
in the Humash as requiring bikkurim. The reason is that the other three species
(oats, rye,and spelt) are included under the general categories of wheat and
barley, and they may therefore be considered species for which Israel has been
Regarding the final ruling, Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a has ruled that since the
aforementioned Aharonim testified that the widespread custom has been to make
a distinction between grain grown in Israel and that grown outside of Israel, this is
the proper practice. Therefore, the berachah aharonah for grain grown in Israel
concludes, "ve'al mihyatah" whereas the berachah aharonah for grain grown
outside of Israel is, "ve'al hamihyah."
In summary, one who eats cake made from the five species of grain, if the grain
was grown in Israel he concludes his berachah aharonah, "ve'al mihyatah," but if
the grain was grown outside of Israel then the blessing ends, "ve'al hamihyah."
Rabbi Sasson Mordechai zs"l
On 6 Tevet, 5590, the prominent Rabbi Sasson Mordechai died in Baghdad. He
composed the work, "Shemen Sasson" and was one of the greatest Kabbalists.
Rabbenu Yosef Hayim zs"l cites in his various works several miracles performed
by Rabbi Sasson. Many people came to him and asked him to pray on behalf of
the ill or for success and prosperity.
He once said, "Do you think that my amulets bring about the salvation? If a
person believes in his Creator (In the merit of trust our forefathers were
redeemed,' and in this same merit we are saved in each generation) then blessed
is the one who places his trust in the Al-mighty, and it is the Creator who will

bring salvation. And if he does not have trust in the Al-mighty, then any amulet in
the world will be of no avail. Why, then, do I use these amulets? So that the
miracle will not be revealed and obvious."
He told the story of a woman whose son became terrified for whatever reason,
and as a result of his fear he closed his eyes and would not open them. They
consulted with doctors and other professionals, but nothing helped. The boy was
not opening his eyes.
One day the woman found a sheet of paper lying in an enclosed area. Being
illiterate, she did not know what it was. People told her that it was the page from
a Humash which was worn out. She figured, a page of the Humash, which Moshe
Rabbenu received directly from the Al-mighty Himself! Certainly this will help my
son more than any amulet! She tied the page to a string and hung it around her
son's neck. Immediately, his eyes opened and his fear subsided.
Everybody present was astounded, and they all rushed to see what was written
on the page. They noticed that it was from the "Tochahah" portion, which warns,
"At night you will say, 'If only it was morning!' and in the morning you will say, 'If
only it was nighttime!' from the fear of your heart which you will fear and from
the sight of your eyes which you will see." As an amulet, such a page should have
worsened his condition. However, because of her simple faith, the miracle came
about and cured her son.
"When Yosef revealed himself to his brothers"
Rabbi Avraham Azulai zs"l, a member of the inner circle of students of the Ar"i
zs"l, notes that Yosef's name is unnecessary in the pasuk, "Not a single person
stood with him when Yosef revealed himself to his brothers." The Humash has
been talking about him - why does the Torah mention his name in this pasuk? He
answers that Yosef wanted to prepare them so that they do not collapse from the
shock of his true identity. Therefore, he called, "Yosef, Yosef son of Yaakov!!" The
brothers looked around in amazement, as they did not see anybody. Finally, he
told them, "I am Yosef, and I was calling the whole time to myself." This is alluded
to in the pasuk, "Not a single person stood with him when Yosef" - that Yosef
whose name was called - "revealed" - when Yosef finally revealed to them who
that Yosef is.
"I am Yosef, is my father still alive?"
Rabbi Shelomoh Nehemiass zs"l of Markash notes that Hazal say that King David
was originally to have been a stillborn, but he received seventy years from our
patriarchs. They were each to have lived one hundred and eighty years. Avraham
died five years earlier, Yaakov twenty-eight years, and Yosef thirty-seven, which
adds up to seventy. Thus, Yosef now tells the brothers, "I am your brother Yosef,"
and if you do not believe me, and you think that Yosef died, then Yaakov would
have to give sixty-five years of his life to King David, as Yaakov said, "For I will die
mourning for my son" - and yet, he is still alive!
"Hashem has made me a master over all of Egypt"

Rabbi Refael Hamalach Bardogo zs"l of Maknas explains based on the Zohar's
comment that if Yosef had not gone to Egypt first and become the ruler of the
country, Benei Yisrael would never have been able to overcome the power of
Egypt. This is Yosef's message to Yaakov: "Hashem has made me a master over
all of Egypt," and in this way our remedy has been prepared even before the
onset of the crisis. Therefore, "come down to me," you can now come down to
Egypt, "do not delay," because my rule serves as a guarantee that your offspring
will not be delayed in Egypt and will be able to leave.
Currents in the Ocean
"Those who descend upon the sea in boats, who do their work in many waters,
they saw the ways of Hashem and His wonders in the depths." In many places in
the sea there are currents resembling powerful rivers right in the middle of the
ocean. Several factors are responsible for this phenomenon. The ocean floor does
not have one, single level. Rather, there are hills and valleys under the sea, and a
deep slant causes a current.
Winds also take part in this phenomenon. Strong currents are formed when
waters from many different rivers stream into the ocean, spilling into a narrow
The excess water bursts from the gulf and creates a "river" within the ocean.
Some currents come from colder areas, and their water is cold, whereas other
currents come from warmer regions and their water is warm.
The Gulf Stream, for example, comes from warm areas around the equator, and it
carries with it millions of tons of warm water at every moment. It can grow
hundreds of meters in width and three hundred and fifty-five meters deep. This
enormous collection of warm water directly affects the climate in the area.
Experts claim that the fact that this stream flows near the European Continent
and England has a profound impact on the climate there and prevents the rivers
and creeks from freezing. From such a huge distance warm water arrives and
changes the temperature in the place where they flow!
"You have made them all in Your wisdom."
The Severed Hand (10)
Flashback: The gathering of rebels in the home of Mustafa Halil Aga, whom the
Sultan had treated so graciously, planned to assassinate the Sultan by having
him poisoned by his Jewish doctor, Dr. Shepisser, who agreed to the plan at the
threat of death. He was given a signed document guaranteeing his protection in
the aftermath of the rebellion. The secret plot reached the ears of the sorceress,
who was trying to impress Metildah, the doctor's wife.
Metildah returned home distressed and perturbed, and she went directly to her
husband. "Is it true that you are planning to kill somebody?" The doctor's face
turned white as his wife continued her interrogation. "Is it true that you are
carrying with you a letter with signatures which you cannot lose under any

circumstances?" The doctor's pale face turned whiter, and Metildah confirmed her
suspicions: "So the sorceress can tell the future!" "Who...who told you all this?"
he asked in a panic. "The fortune-teller," she said, and went on to tell him the
entire episode. Dr. Shepisser confessed and told her about the gathering of the
rebels, the fear of the generals and officers about their posts, the fiery rhetoric of
the Moslem religious leaders, and the plot. "The Sultan's days are coming to an
end," he said, "they are after his life, and it is now but a question of time. If I
refuse, my turn will be next!" Metildah gazed into her husband's eyes and said, "I
heard from your mouth that the physician's oath prohibits desperation, and a
doctor must deal with even a patient on the brink of death, even if the disease is
contagious and threatens the life of the physician himself!"
"Indeed, this is correct," said Dr. Shepisser. "I have lost my strong resolve, and for
several days I have been walking around dazed and confused. Thank you for
restoring my common sense!"
The next day, Dr. Shepisser visited the German Ambassador in Kushta and told
him of the secret meeting. He even showed him the writ of protection. The
Ambassador made for himself a copy, and wrote a letter to the Sultan with his
signature. He handed the letter to the doctor and sent him to the Sultan with the
power of an agent. "With this license," he said, "the gates of the palace will open
for you..."
to be continued...
The Cedars and the Wagons
"He [Yaakov] saw the wagons which Yosef had sent to carry him, and the spirit of
their father, Yaakov, was brought to life"(45:27). Yaakov was shocked and baffled
by the news that his son is still alive, and it first he could not believe it. When he
saw the wagons, he was relaxed, and his spirit returned. What was so special
about the wagons? The Hid"a zs"l offers a remarkable interpretation with critical
ramifications. When Yosef left his father, he saw that he was planting cedars. He
asked, "What are these for?" His father answered, "You should know, that my
grandchildren will construct a mishkan in the wilderness from these cedars, which
will be transported in wagons." Therefore, Yosef sent wagons as a signal,
symbolic of the six wagons which carried the boards of the mishkan in the desert.
Then, when Yaakov understood the symbol, "Yaakov's spirit was brought back to
life." However, we still need to explore further the meaning of these wagons.
The commentaries find great significance in the fact that the mishkan was
constructed from the cedars which were planted by Yaakov.
The mishkan houses the Shechinah which Benei Yisrael construct - and each
person must erect in his heart a "mishkan" for the Shechinah, as well as in every
house which is established among Benei Yisrael, every family which is begun - a
mishkan must be built for the Shechinah. The essence of this mishkan is the
eternal, Jewish spark which has been implanted within us by Yaakov, a heritage of
our sacred patriarchs. True, "Moshe commanded us the Torah," and we are
obligated to study it and to grow with it and through it.

But this eternal life was not planted within us on barren wasteland, rather, on
"the heritage of the congregation of Yaakov," our world is established on
foundation of our ancestral heritage.
If this Jewish quality is already implanted within us, and Yaakov already planted
these "cedars," then what is our task?
We have to bring the "wagons," to carry with pride this Jewish heritage, to
transmit it from the previous generation - through us- to the next generation, like
those wagons which transported the boards in the wilderness from one point to
the next, getting closer and closer to the ultimate destination, the Promised Land,
to establish the permanent mishkan as a home for the Shechinah.
When Yaakov saw that Yosef was aware of his task, indicated by the wagons
which he sent to his father - his spirit was revived!
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Menucha for Pursuit of Da'at (part IIII)
Aaron: Probably they were granted peace for 40 years because of this pursuit,
which is also the purpose of the Shabbat-rest.
Mr. Goodfriend: It prophesied concerning Shelomo: "He shall be a man of rest
(Menuchah), and I shall give him rest from all his enemies around, for Shelomo
shall be his name, and peace (Shalom) and quiet I shall give to Israel in his days.
He shall build a house for My name" (I Chronicles 22:9-19). The "rest" (Menuchah)
was not merely to allow the erection of the Sanctuary, but also to facilitate the
Sanctuary of the Torah-Mind which Shelomo erected: "The more that Kohelet
(Shelomo) became wise, the more he taught the nation the True Knowledge
(Da'at)" (Kohelet 12:9). Thus the Shabbat day of rest combines the two elements:
the Sanctuary and Da'at.

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Vayhi
The Ben Ish Hai zs"l tells the story of a man who went for a walk in the woods. He
walked around, enjoyed the beauty and tranquillity of the forest, and hummed to
himself. Suddenly, he saw a bear. The bear got up on its hind legs and prepared
to pounce on the man. Gripped with fear, the man realized that he had with him a
walking stick. He thought to himself, perhaps the bear has seen hunters and
knows what a gun is. Maybe it will see the stick and fear that it is a gun! He
raised the stick to his shoulder pretending to aim, and "shot" his rifle. Suddenly
he heard gunfire and saw the bear drop dead. The man embraced his stick and
exclaimed, "You saved me!" He did not see that up on a tree sat a hunter, holding
a rifle with smoke rising from its barrel.
Similarly, two of Yaakov's sons plundered the city of Shechem and wiped out the
entire male population without opposition. They were but thirteen years old, and
yet nobody stood up against them. What impressive military might!
Twenty years later, however, their father informs them that it was he who had
captured Shechem, "with my sword and my bow," translated by Targum Onkelos
as, "my prayer and request."
In our time, too, let us ask ourselves, did we really have a chance to overcome
the seven Arab armies, to defeat our enemies in an emergency six-day operation,
to survive for fifty years and, G-d-willing, for many more years, against all
practical, military, and economic odds, if not for the prayers of our foregone
patriarchs in heaven?
Let us recognize and appreciate their prayers on our behalf and fulfill their single
wish - that we follow their example and their heritage.

Recently, an event occurred which generated quite a stir. Some of the details
have been changed here so as not to insult anybody. The episode involved a
prominent, elderly individual, a man of great dignity who had experienced many
moving and stirring moments throughout his life. Clearly, he was a source of
pride to his family and community. One of his children brought his own children
before the revered grandfather so that they be impressed and inspired by
spending time with such a dignified and special individual. The grandfather had
difficulty speaking Hebrew but spoke fluent Arabic, which the grandchildren did
not understand. Therefore, the son served as the translator. The grandfather was
very pleased with his grandchildren, and he blessed them and asked about how
things in their lives are progressing. The son then asked that the grandfather tell
some of the moving stories which had left such on impression on his life.
"Certainly," said the old man. "Listen carefully. This occurred when I was a
youngster, when my friends and I agreed one day to go together to Ziharah
Lesaali, to visit the graves of sadikim which are located there. Rabbi Hayim Ben
Atar, the grandfather of the Or Hahayim, is buried there, along with Rabbi Hayim
Tolidano, Rabbi Yosef Sabah, Rabbi Yehiya Royemi, and Rabbi Yis'hak Kurat. There
is also a large edifice over the grave of Rabbi Refael Hamalach Ankwah. Spiritual
giants are buried there, and many people go to pray at their grave sites. We took
some food and supplies with us, and we set out on the long journey. As we
traversed the wilderness, we suddenly came across a band of
vagabonds...Translate for them, my son."
His son began translating up to this point. He told them of the trip and got to the
point where the bandits appeared. He was then silent, and the children waited
eagerly for the old man to continue. "Yes, father," said the son.
"Certainly, you want to hear a story?" continued the old man. "Once, when I was
a youngster, my friends and I arranged to travel to Ziharah Saali, where many
great sadikim are buried, such as the first Rabbi Hayim Ben Atar, Rabbi Hayim
Tolidano, Rabbi David Ben Shapps, Rabbis Yosef and Yaakov Bibaas, and others,
including Rabbi Refael Hamalach Ankwah. We took with us food and supplies and
set out on our journey. As we were walking through the barren wasteland, a giant
cloud appeared. Opposite us stood a band of vagabonds. Can you translate for
them, my son?"
The son was quite confused, and told his children about how the bandits
appeared in a giant cloud, and, with the best of his imagination, he described the
threatening villains, riding on white horses, equipped with shells and bullets.
Their weapons were in their hands and the fury of violence was in their eyes.
"Yes, father," he said.
"You want to hear a story?" said the old man with a pleasant sigh of joy. "I recall a
trip I took with my friends to Ziharah Bisaali. As you know, great sadikim are
buried there. There is a beautiful edifice over the grave site of Rabbi Refael
Hamalach Ankwah, but he is already contemporary. Earlier sadikim are buried
there, such as the grandfather of the sacred Or Hahayim, and others. So listen..."
The son soon learned that, indeed, his elderly father was stricken with a form of
Alzheimer's Disease.

The devoted son was very shaken and came to his rebbe to ask if there is a
solution. Much to his surprise, the rebbe was even more troubled than he was,
and his face turned pale-white.
"What happened?" asked the man in terror. "What happened? I said something
really terrible?"
"No," replied the rabbi. "This happens at older age, and you should ask medical
experts in this area. Medicine has progressed remarkably in this field of study. I
was taken aback because I remembered about myself..."
The student did not understand and asked his rabbi to explain. "You see, each of
us has a life-story to complete, for which he was sent here from the heavens. We
are each to grow, to purify ourselves, to come closer to our Creator, to strive to
be better Jews, more complete Jews. We, thank G-d, have learned, we have
become more complete, we have accumulated a certain degree of knowledge,
have reached a certain level of observance, a certain type of Torah lifestyle. Very
nice. But from there - do we not simply go over and over the same chapter,
repeat the same thing all the time? For this I was taken aback by your story! Your
story, of the continuous repetition of the first chapter without ever finishing the
story, reminded me of our obligation: do we not constantly repeat the previous
chapter - instead of growing and progressing?"
Indeed, this is all alluded to in Yaakov's blessings to his grandchildren, Yosef's two
sons. The oldest is named, "Menasheh," related to the term, "neshiyah,"
forgetfulness, referring to Yosef's having forgotten his earlier troubles (Seforno)
and the opening of a new chapter. After him comes "Efrayim," related to the
expression "periyah," multiplying, becoming numerous. As they approached their
grandfather, Yaakov placed his right hand on the head of Efrayim, emphasizing
the increase and growth, renewal and continued progress, the concept of not
being satisfied with escaping crisis, that we've reached a certain level of religious
accomplishment; the ideal of a constant drive towards self-improvement, to
continue writing the subsequent chapters of our lives. So many good, Torahobservant Jews are committed to Shabbat, kashrut, and family purity but their
religious lives continue in a circle, as long as they do not attend Torah classes,
increase their knowledge and understanding, expand their horizons and grow. Let
us all get more involved in Torah classes, and place the "Efrayim," the spiritual
growth, before "Menasheh," the feeling of satisfaction with the status-quo.
Based Upon the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yosef shlit"a
The Conclusion of the Al Hamihyah Blessing
The rishonim are in dispute regarding the proper text for the conclusion of al
hamihyah. Whereas the Tur rules that the berachah concludes, "Baruch atah
Hashem al ha'aress ve'al hamihyah ve'al hakalkalah," the Semag rules that only,
"al ha'aress ve'al hamihyah" should be recited, omitting the final expression,
"ve'al hakalkalah." This second view is also maintained by the Rambam (Hilchot
Berachot 3:13), the Ba'al Halachot Gedolot, and the Rosh.
From the writings of the Bet Yosef (208) it appears that he follows the view of the
Semag, the Rambam, and Ba'al Halachot Gedolot, not to include "ve'al

hakalkalah." The reason behind this ruling seems to be the general axiom, "we
never conclude with two [distinct statements]," and mentioning both "hamihyah"
and "hakalkalah" in our conclusion appears to be two items in one conclusion.
The phrase, "al hamihyah" thanks the Al-mighty for the foods which He has
created to feed human beings, whereas "al hakalkalah" refers to Hashem's
providing us with clothing and other necessities, as the pasuk states, "Yosef
supported ['vayechalkel'] his brothers," and clearly he provided them not only
with food but with other necessities, as well. Thus, "al hamihyah" and "al
hakalkalah" refer to two different categories and should therefore not be
combined into a single conclusion at the end of the berachah. Indeed, as is
implied by the Bet Yosef, this is the proper halachah which should be followed.
An important question, however, arises from this discussion. Even according to
our practice, which concludes the berachah with only, "al hamihyah," we
nevertheless make reference to both categories immediately preceding the
closing blessing: "Ve'nodeh ha'aress ve'al hamihya VE'AL HAKALKALAH,
Baruch Atah Hashem al ha'aress ve'al hamihyah." In other words, the final
statement before the berachah which concludes the entire "al hamihyah"
recitation does, in fact, include both "mihyah" and "kalkalah." This seems
problematic in light of our general principle that the concluding berachah must
always correspond in content to the statement which immediately precedes it. So
why does the concluding berachah of al hamihyah - "al ha'aress ve'al hamihyah" not accurately correspond to that which immediately precedes it - "al ha'aress
ve'al hamihyah ve'al hakalkalah"? The answer is that although the two are
different, they are nevertheless related, for the term, "kalkalah," as we have
discussed, incorporates "mihyah," and therefore the final berachah, which
mentions only "mihyah," can be considered as corresponding with the phrase
immediately preceding it, and "ve'al hakalkalah" does not interrupt between the
theme of "mihyah" and the concluding blessing. Although some argue on this
point, this is nevertheless the accepted custom and the ruling of Harav Ovadia
Yossef shlit"a.
In summary, the al hamihyah blessing concludes, "al ha'ares ve'al hamihyah,"
and we leave out "ve'al hakalkalah," despite the fact that right before the
concluding berachah we say, "ve'nodeh ha'aress ve'al hamihyah ve'al
Rabbi Abir Yaakov Abuhassera
Two wealthy merchants once came before the sacred giant, Rabbi Abir Yaakov
Abuhassera zs"l, to receive his blessing for success.
He said, "I will give you a fool-proof 'segulah' for great success and prosperity in
both this world and in the World to Come: spending time in the Bet Midrash
morning and evening. The mishnah states that such a person reaps the fruits of
this misvah in this world while the principle remains in its place, ready for him in
the World to Come."
They answered, "Of course! We attend services in the synagogue morning and
Responded the rabbi, "I didn't say, 'spending time in the synagogue.' I spoke of
the Bet Midrash, a place of Torah study. Set aside some time for Torah study

together with your prayers, a chapter of mishnayot or a portion in the Humash,

and you will find success."
They said, "But we are businessmen. The Bet Midrash is the place for Torah
scholars, talmidei hachamim!"
"You are making a mistake," he replied. "True, the tribe of Yisachar spent the
entire day immersed in Torah study while the people of Zevulun worked and
supported them, and in this way the tribe of Zevulun merited a portion in the
World to Come. In fact, the word, 'Zevulun' is derived from the word, 'zevul,'
which refers to the World to Come.
"However, this is not enough. The pasuk states, 'Zevulun dwells by the shore of
the seas.' This alludes to the fact that Zevulun, too, must spend time within the
walls of the Bet Midrash and dwell at the shores of the vast sea of Torah. Only
then will he merit the next phrase of the pasuk, 'his boundaries will extend until
Sidon.' 'Sidon' has the same numerical value as, 'Elokim Hayim' [Living G-d],
meaning, that he is guaranteed that Hashem will be at his side. If you promise
me that you will study some Torah in the morning and some in the evening, and
you will spend time along the shores of the seas - the sea of the Written Torah
and the sea of the Oral Torah - then I guarantee you that the Living G-d will be at
your side, and success will accompany you on all your endeavors!"
They gave him their promise, and they became very successful, earning both
material prosperity as well as spiritual enrichment.
"A fruitful son is Yosef, a fruitful son over the eyes"
The saintly Rabbi Yosef Knaafo zs"l of Mugador warns in many of his writings of
the importance of maintaining sanctity, which begins by being careful not too
look at anything inappropriate. The eyes see, the heart covets, and the person is
spiritually contaminated, Heaven forbid. There are three covenants. The covenant
of the eye, as it says, "I have made a treaty to my eyes," and the covenants of
the tongue and the "yesod" (the foundation of human existence) which
correspond one to another. This is the meaning of our verse, "Yosef is a fruitful
son, a fruitful son over the eyes ['alei ayin']." "Alei," which is spelled "ayin"
"lamed" "yud" stands for three words - "ayin" - eyes, "lashon" - tongue, and
"yesod." All three are dependant upon the eye - "alei ayin" -and one who is
careful with his eyes will be saved from all evil!
"Gather and listen, the sons of Yaakov"
Rabbi Yaakov Hadaad zs"l explains that every father, most certainly the father of
the entire nation, Yaakov, wants his children united. However, this unison must be
on condition: "...and listen to your father, Yisrael." This "ahdut" must be one
which leads to the observance of the values of Yaakov, the following of the path
of faith. The banner of "the united nation" should not be used as a reason to
deviate from the path of Torah and misvot which is our eternal heritage, from one
generation to the next.
"And listen to your father, Yisrael"

Rabbi Ovadyah Seforno zs"l explains that Yaakov gathered his children together
to tell them, "Listen to your father, Yisrael." In other words, accept upon yourself
the path which I have outlined for you all these years, and in this way I will truly
be your father, I will maintain my eternal relationship with you and pray for your
well-being. Furthermore, Yaakov specified the name, "Yisrael" in this context
because he was given that name upon his victory over his enemies, over an
attacking angel. He now tells his children that they will enjoy the same success
over their enemies if they follow his ways!
Our five senses help us find our way in the world. Vision, hearing, smell, taste,
and touch - through them a person absorbs information about the outside world
and integrates it within his inner world. Most of the information which we absorb
from the world reaches us through our eyes. The eyes "film" the world, and they
pass these images to the brain which helps us understand and study that which
we see. Our eyes are more sophisticated and advanced than any camera ever
developed by man. They contain millions of tiny cells which are sensitive to light
and can send a million and a half messages to the brain in an instant.
The eye has sensors, tiny cells which are capable of absorbing light. The
sharpness of vision of each living creature depends on the density of the sensors
in the eyes. In the human eye, for example, each square millimeter contains
about 200,000 sensors. The eye of the lion has only 150,000 sensors in each
square millimeter.
Eyes in different creatures come in different shapes and forms. Some creatures like humans - have eyes in the front of the face, others - like birds - have eyes on
the sides of the head, while others have eyes on "stems," such as the crab.
The Creator endowed each creature with eyes suitable for its physiological
makeup and its behavior. The eyes of most vegetarian mammals such as the
giraffe and the zebra are located along the sides of the head. This increases their
field of vision and enables them to see their enemies in hiding without having to
turn their heads. By contrast, most animals of prey have eyes in the front of their
heads so they can accurately identify their prey, calculate the distance between
them, and thereby design a plan of attack. Monkeys also need very precise vision
in order to grab onto the proper branch and to take hold firmly. Therefore, their
eyes, too, are situated in the front of the head.
The Severed Hand (11)
Flashback: The Sultan's brother plotted to take the Sultan's life by having him
poisoned by his Jewish doctor, Dr. Shepisser, who was secretly brought into the
plot and given a writ of protection signed by the one hundred and twenty rebels.
With his wife's advice, Dr. Shepisser turned to the German Consul in Kushta, who
then sent the doctor to the palace as his agent.
The Consul's signature opened all the doors for the doctor. When he approached
the Sultan, the Sultan was very surprised to see his physician. The doctor decided

to use his wit, and said, "I wish to conduct a medical examination. Please have all
your servants leave the palace." The order was given, and the two were left by
themselves. The doctor said, "Indeed, I came to discuss your health. The life of
the Sultan is dear to everybody, and the threat of death has presented itself." The
Sultan was very confused and asked, "What are you talking about?" Without
saying a word, he presented the Sultan with two documents: first, the letter of
the Consul, which described the plot as he had heard from Dr. Shepisser, urging
the Sultan to allow the doctor and his family to leave the country as they are now
in danger after having revealed the secret, and, secondly, the writ of protection,
signed by the one hundred and twenty members of the revolution, headed by the
Sultan's own brother.
When the Sultan saw his brother's signature, he recognized it immediately and
said, "Yes, yes. I will repay you kindly for this favor which you have done for me.
Take twenty thousand gold coins and my chariot will be waiting for you outside
the palace to take you and your wife to Fort Triast, where you will take my boat
with an armed escort until you arrive safely in your city. You will receive your
salary for the rest of your life, only now it will be doubled, and you be paid each
The order was given and the doctor left the Sultan. His family joined him and he
returned to his hometown, Vienna, where he was appointed Turkish Consul.
The Sultan then turned his attention to avenge those who had plotted to
overthrow him...
to be continued...
What Did Yaakov Answer Yosef?
Much has been written about the episode of Yaakov's blessings to Yosef's sons,
Efrayim and Menasheh, and the symbolism of Yaakov's placing his right hand
over the head of the younger grandson, Efrayim. Here, in this column, we will
discuss this event from an educational viewpoint.
The Midrash indicates that Efrayim and Menasheh symbolize two different paths.
Menasheh, the oldest, assisted Yosef with governmental affairs. He was the
translator when Yosef, the Egyptian viceroy, dealt with his Hebrew brothers. The
younger son, Efrayim, never the left the tent of Torah, and, for those seventeen
years which Yaakov spent in Egypt, Efrayim studied Torah together with his
Which is greater, which is more deserving of the blessing from Yaakov's right
hand, wondered Yosef. He figured that Menasheh was more deserving. After all,
how difficult is it to be pious dwelling in the secure environment of Torah,
spending days and nights in the shadow of Yaakov, the choicest of the
forefathers? But to be involved in worldly affairs, proficient in many different
languages, among the most talented young diplomats in the palace, an assistant
to the viceroy - and still be G-d-fearing, Torah observant, a Jew who carries his
heritage with pride, sanctifying the Name of Hashem by the way he conducts
himself and surmounting all obstacles which stand in the way of his religious
observance - this is greatness, and he deserves the more exalted berachah!

So what was Yaakov's perspective, why did he switch his hands and show
preference to Menasheh? Did he disagree with his son's point of view?
Not necessarily. Perhaps he, too, thought that Menasheh was deserving of honor
and respect as his challenges are tenfold more difficult than those of his brother.
However, Yaakov says, "...his younger brother will be greater than him and his
progeny will fill the other nations." Not now, but in the future. You are right, Yosef,
Menasheh is deserving of the highest praise. But the guarantee of the
continuation of the heritage and the firm educational background of future
generations is the path of Efrayim.
We know that many institutions in Europe which diluted Torah education gave rise
to generations which gave it all up and left, while the halls of the yeshivot
developed the future generations who restored Torah to its glory.
Only deep-rooted, Torah education can guarantee the continuation of our
tradition, and therefore Efrayim is given precedence over Menasheh!
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Three sanctuaries (part I)
Aaron: Elucidate, Sir.
Mr. Goodfriend: "The chief divisions of (forbidden) work on the Shabbat are 39"
(Shabbat 73a). "These are parallel to the 39 forms of work on the mishkan" (ibid.,
49b). In order to erect the Sanctuary of the mishkan, these 39 forms of activity
were required; and the Sanctuary of the Shabbat day requires the abstention
from these 39 types of activity and all their subdivisions. Just as Shelomo
required Menuchah in order to erect the Sanctuary, so we need the Menuchah of
the seventh day in order to erect the Sanctuary of the Good Mind.

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Bo
This parashah features the Exodus from Egypt, the wonders and miracles
surrounding this pivotal, historic event. In truth, yesiat misrayim never leaves our
consciousness. It accompanies us wherever we go at every moment of our lives.
We refer to it twice daily, every time we recite kiddush, and we devote to it the
entire festival of Pesah, specifically the night of the seder.
Wherein lies the eternal message which we must carry with us after reading
these parshiyot?
The Ramban's answer to this question is worth repeating to ourselves time and
time again.
"Since the Al-mighty will not perform wonders or miracles in every generation in
the face of every sinner or heretic, He commands us to maintain a constant
memory of that which our eyes beheld, that we tell it to our children, and our
children to their children, until the last generation.
"Just as a person realizes the great, obvious miracles, so must he recognize the
concealed miracles, which form the basis of the entire Torah.
For a person cannot fully attain a share in the Torah until he believes that
everything which transpires is, in fact, a miracle. There is no coincidental act of
nature, be it in private or public. But if he performs the misvot - his reward will
bring him success, and he violates them - his punishment will destroy him,
everything according to the decree of the King!"

When one takes a closer look into his life, he will be able to testify to this effect.
Let him tell all his acquaintances, one does not yield profit from his work on Hol
Hamoed, and one does not lose money by giving to charity. We see Divine
Providence in every step in life. "Behold, I place before you today a blessing," by
observing the misvot, and the opposite, Heaven forbid, by neglecting them. "And
it shall be a blessing!"
The saintly tanna, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, reveals many profound secrets in the
Zohar regarding the opening pasuk of our parashah. The Zohar writes (vol. 2,
34a), "Rabbi Shimon said, now I will reveal the secrets which are rooted in the
heavens and the earth." He asks, what is meant by, 'Come to Pharaoh'? It should
have written, 'Go to Pharaoh'! Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai answers that Hashem
asked Moshe to enter into the innermost "chambers" until he reached the forces
of impurity and the palace of Pharaoh which is rooted in the source of impurity
and wickedness. Moshe, however, was afraid, and wouldn't accept the mission.
He was prepared to "go" to Pharaoh, to sit there honorably, but not to "come to
him." He did not want to contend with the forces of evil, for even one who cleans
filth absorbs some of the dirt.
Even the sacred angels, says the Zohar, refused to involve themselves in this
endeavor, and therefore the Al-mighty Himself, as it were, had to descend into
Egypt to destroy the source of evil, metaphorically represented by the snake's
head, as the verse states, "Behold, I will come upon you, Pharaoh, the great
serpent, which lies in the midst of his rivers." These are the swamps of impurity
and contamination of Egypt, which result in the deterioration of those residing
there into the forty-ninth measure of impurity.
This is not the first time that Moshe ran away from confrontation. When he cast
his staff and it changed into a snake, the Torah writes, "Moshe ran away from it."
Now, Moshe is not afraid of snakes; the snake doesn't kill - the sin kills. But the
"snake" here symbolizes the snake of Gan Eden, which seduced others to sin, and
Moshe remembered well the disastrous results of the first human confrontation
with that snake. He wanted nothing to do with it. This is the interpretation of the
Tikkunei Hazohar (end of Tikkun 60).
The Torah does not simply tell stories - it teaches us lessons. It teaches us to run
away from trials, to keep our distance from the snake, to escape from it. But we,
as it were, think that we are smarter than Moshe. We will not be affected, we are
immune to its venom.
We have already been told that all the awful "abominations of Egypt" about which
the Torah warns were committed in private, as the Zohar writes, "A chamber
within a chamber." Today, all these abominations are committed in public, on
every stage, in every newspaper. There are those who are prepared to play with
fire, to fool around with a poisonous snake, assuming that they will be unharmed.
Is this possible?
The story is told that Rabbi Hayim of Brisk zs"l was informed that a certain
student, who excelled in his studies, had the tendency to read the newspapers
and advertisements of the secularists which promulgated heresy. The rabbi
approached the student to ask if such rumors were in fact true. The student

confirmed the allegations. "How?" asked the rabbi in fear. The young student
confidently calmed the rabbi's nerves: "This will not affect me, I am confident in
my faith, firmly entrenched in my beliefs. This will not affect me, so I am just
expanding my horizons. There is no reason to fear anything."
"Heaven forbid," clarified the rabbi, "I was not suspecting that you would be
impacted by such literature. But I was wondering, how can you stand having such
filth with you? How do you manage with its foul odor?"
The student was dumbfounded. "Odor? I don't smell anything!"
"Aha!" exclaimed the rabbi. "I now realize that it has had an effect on you!"
Let us think for a second, if Moshe would have picked up one of the contemporary
magazines or papers and flip through the pages, with what fervor would he throw
it aside! Why should we go so far as Moshe Rabbenu - if Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi,
Rabbi Yehudah Sadkah, or the Baba Sali would take even a slight glance - how
many fasts would they observe to atone for even this glance? And us? Perhaps
we don't run away. Perhaps we have lived comfortably in the swamps, we have
grown accustomed to the foul odor. We have become desensitized.
Let us make an effort, during these days of "Shovavim," to detach ourselves from
the quicksand of the swamps, to cleanse ourselves, and we are guaranteed that
then we will have no desire to return to it, that we will run away from it!
Based On the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
The Insertion for Hanukah and Purim in the Me'en Shalosh Blessing
In the previous issue we discussed the halachah that we do not insert "al
hanisim" in the berachah aharonah on Hanukah and Purim. The reason we
presented is that in birkat hamazon "al hanisim" is inserted as a continuation of
the berachah, "nodeh lecha," but in birkat me'en shalosh there is no text of
"nodeh lecha," and thus "al hanisim" has no appropriate place where to be
inserted. Therefore, it is not recited at all in birkat me'en shalosh.
We should add that although the end of birkat me'en shalosh does feature the
text, "venodeh lecha Hashem elokeinu," this phrase corresponds to the fourth
berachah of birkat hamazon, "hatov vehametiv," and not to the berachah of
"nodeh." However, one who mistakenly thought that this phrase in the berachah
aharonah actually does correspond to the blessing of nodeh and, due to this
misconception, recited "al hanisim" in birkat me'en shalosh after this phrase, Rav
Ovadia Yossef shlit"a (Shu"t Yabia Omer vol. 3, Orah Hayim 36) rules that he has
fulfilled his requirement since he did, after all, recite the proper text. Although
one may have argued that the insertion of "al hanisim" should be considered an
interruption between the end of the blessing and the "hatimah" (concluding
berachah), and the hatimah must always thematically relate to that which
immediately precedes it, nevertheless this requirement of linking the hatimah to
that which precedes is not indispensable for the fulfillment of the obligation to
recite the berachah, as concluded by Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a. Therefore, after
the fact, if the hatimah did not relate to the phrase preceding it, the person does
not have to repeat the berachah. This indeed is the ruling of the Hikrei Lev, the

Ma'amar Mordechai in the name of the Ritva, as well as other aharonim, and this
is the proper practice. Therefore, if someone incorrectly inserted al hanisim after
"venodeh lecha," he has fulfilled his requirement and does not have to repeat the
berachah. Even if he incorrectly mentioned Hanukah or Purim towards the
beginning of the berachah, next to the words, "ve'al eres hemdah," which
correspond to the "nodeh lecha" blessing in birkat hamazon, one needs not be
concerned about an interruption and does not have to repeat the berachah. (For
further discussion, see Shu"t Yabia Omer vol. 3, Orah Hayim 36. There Rav Yossef
brings further evidence to support the Mehaber's ruling (208:12) that al hanisim
should not be recited in berachah aharonah, rejecting the view which contends
In summary, in birkat me'en shalosh we make reference to the day on Shabbat,
Yom Tov, and Rosh Hodesh, but on Hanukah and Purim no reference is made to
the day. Nevertheless, if one did mistakenly insert the reference to Hanukah and
Purim in birkat me'en shalosh he does not have to repeat the berachah, no
matter where he made the insertion.
The Rashash zs"l
The new president of Iran is now trying to put forth a gesture of reconciliation. In
a recent interview he claimed that anti-Semitism began in Europe, while under
Arab rule the Jews knew no suffering. In a single breath he erased hundreds of
years of distress. It was forbidden for a Jew to ride a horse, to wear shoes within
the city limits. In Yerushalayim, for example, Jews were forbidden to wear the
color green, as this color was reserved for the Moslems. Once, one of the rabbis
of the Yeshivah of Kabbalah, Hacham Yis'hak, wove some silk around his turban
without realizing that there was a single, thin thread of green. As he walked to
the Bet Midrash a Moslem jumped at him, grabbed the turban, and ran to the
sheriff. The sheriff was infuriated by the rabbi's audacity, and, rather than
imprisoning him, decided to punish the entire Jewish community. He called a
meeting of all his officers to decide upon a suitable punishment.
Hacham Yis'hak was tormented by the knowledge that because of him the entire
community would suffer. He rushed to his rabbi, Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, known as
the Rashash. The great sadik heard what happened and calmed his visitor's
nerves. "Do not worry, Hashem will save us."
Indeed, the meeting never took place. Pitmah, the only daughter of the sheriff,
suddenly took deathly ill. The doctor gave up on her, and told the sheriff that
there is but one man who can save her - the great rabbi of the Jews. Without any
alternative, the sheriff turned to the sadik and asked him to visit his daughter.
Just as the sadik entered the room, the patient opened her eyes. He prayed, and
she gradually recovered.
"How can I repay you?" asked the sheriff emotionally.
"That you behave mercifully to my people," answered the sadik.
The sheriff understood, and immediately handed him Hacham Yis'hak's turban.

This week, on Friday, we observe the anniversary of the death of the Rashash.
May his merit protect us!
"Please speak in the ears of the people, that they ask..."
In the "Berit Bein Habetarim" with Avraham, the Al-mighty promised that after
the years of exile Benei Yisrael will leave their bondage with immense wealth. At
this point, when they leave Egypt, this promise is fulfilled. But why was the
promise carried out by Benei Yisrael asking the Egyptians for their riches? If the
plagues were administered to Egypt with force, then certainly the transfer of
wealth could have occurred forcefully, as well. The Hid"a zs"l answers that the
wealth which Benei Yisrael took from Egypt was actually the property of the firstborn who were killed in the final plague, since the halachah is that the property of
those who are killed by the order of the king is given over to the king's treasure.
Thus, Benei Yisrael borrowed the property from the first-born until after the
plague, at which point they acquired it legally, as a gift from Hashem Himself.
"And this is how you shall eat it - your loins shall be girded"
The Alshich zs"l cites the comment by Hazal that Benei Yisrael were redeemed in
the merit of their faith. Therefore, on the night of the Exodus, Hashem wanted
them to demonstrate their intense faith in the redemption so that they be worthy
of its unfolding. He therefore commanded them to publicly take a sheep, the god
of Egypt, and slaughter it in full view. Furthermore, on the night of the plague of
the first-born, already before the first-born were killed, Benei Yisrael were to gird
their loins, put on their shoes, and take their walking sticks in preparation for
their departure so that, in the merit of their faith, their redemption will finally
"You shall take a myrtle-branch and dip it in blood"
Rabbi Yosef Hayim of Baghdad, the Ben Ish Hai, writes that the prerequisite for
redemption was that Benei Yisrael repent at least for those transgressions which
they violated intentionally. This repentance had to have been complete, with
purity of thought, speech, and action. That is why they were bidden to take this
myrtle-branch and dip it in blood. "Ezov" (myrtle branch) and "dam" (blood) have
a combined numerical value of "mezid" (intentional transgression). The following
pasuk states, "You shall affix it to the top and sides of the door post." The top of
the door post represents the human head, the center of our thoughts and speech,
and the two sides symbolize the two hands, the power of action, which all work
together to purify one from his sins.
Thunder and Lightning
During one stormy, winter night, our entire family sat together to warm up from
the bitter cold outside. There was hardly a soul walking about outside, and we
heard nothing but the drops of rain. Suddenly, a flash of lightning struck and
blinded our eyes, and soon thereafter we heard a powerful crack of thunder that
shook the walls of the room and our insides. I truly sensed the expression, "The
strongest of hearts is broken with fear." Hazal explain that the purpose of thunder

and lightning is to straighten people's hearts from their negative qualities and
thus do teshuvah. I was then inspired to think about all I need to improve...
What do we know about the development of thunder and lightning? Water vapor
which ascends from the earth contains a tiny quantity of electricity. Sometimes
the clouds contain a huge amount of water and thus a lot of electricity. When this
happens, an electric stream bursts from the clouds to the ground in immense
speed and we see the flash of light. The lightning cleaves through the air as it
travels at its remarkable speed, causing the air to contract.
The sound waves in the rippled air is heard as thunder. In effect, the lightning and
thunder are created simultaneously, but we hear the thunder only after the
lightning because light travels much faster than sound.
Although thunder is harmless, lightning can be very harmful should it strike a
human or other living organism. Lightning and thunder remind us that there is a
Master over the world, who each day controls the forces of nature, and His might
and strength fill the world.
The Repaid Loan (2)
Flashback: The young Naftali, just seven-years-old, hurled a pebble into the
officer's chariot and injured him. The infuriated officer had the boy thrown into
For a long time the youngster sat in his prison cell, in the cellar of the city jail.
The word of his imprisonment aroused quite a stir. His parents, rabbi, and local
leaders allowed themselves no rest. They pleaded with the officer to forgive the
young boy, to have compassion, not to follow through with the sentence. They
exerted their influence in the capital city, and their pleas reached even the king
and queen. Naftali knew nothing of these efforts. He was confined to his small
cell, the cold, damp air of the cellar, eating stale bread and drinking the small jug
of water he was given each day. He saw the fulfillment of the pasuk, "If your
Torah was not my delight, I would surely have been lost in my distress." His
memory was fantastic, and all that he had learned was engraved in his mind in
its original form. His talents were remarkable, the power of concentration and the
sharpness and quickness of his thought were widely acclaimed. He became
known as a genius and he lived up to his reputation adequately. As he sat in
prison he reviewed all that he learned, he went over the pages of Gemara and
delved deeper into the concepts, asked questions to himself, established
important principles and paved new paths for understanding difficult topics. In
this way he forgot the rest of the world. He forgot about his hunger, his thirst, he
forgot the cold and dampness surrounding him. "This is my comfort in my
distress, for Your Word has sustained me."
In the meantime, the activities on his behalf intensified. They tried to invoke
mercy, to offer money for his release, until finally the ruling was passed: the boy
would be brought to the capital city where he will stand trial. However, the
danger had not yet subsided. Human life was not respected in those days, and
death sentences were issued haphazardly, all the more so against Jews.

And so, one day the door to his cell was opened, and the boy was given over into
the custody of a guard who would take him to the capital.
To be continued...
The Wellspring of Education
The Infiltration of Locust
The Alshich zs"l developed a most insightful and thought-provoking approach to
the development of the plague of locust. Moshe said in the name of Hashem,
"Behold, I will bring tomorrow locusts throughout your boundaries.
They will cover the face of the land and one will be unable to see the land, and
they will consume the rest of the produce which was left by the hail.
They will fill your houses, then houses of your servants and the houses of all of
Egypt." The Alshich comments that the plague began with a miraculous
overcrowding of locust, one level on top of another, until the locust themselves
were unable to see the land around them. They ate everything and left over
In Goshen, however, where Benei Yisrael resided, everything was quiet, there
were no locusts. Generally, when a swarm of locusts consumes all there is to eat
in one field, they proceed to the next piece of land on which to live. These
locusts, however, went into the Egyptian homes, filling them to capacity.
We have a tradition that the plagues in Egypt contain important lessons which
need to be learned. The plague of locusts reflects the spiritual plague of Egypt
which destroys everything. It begins outside, as the house still remains safe. But
once the corruption outside has been completed, it infiltrates into the homes and
causes terrible damage.
This process is so familiar to us. Once they would go to the movie or show. Today,
however, the channels come into the home. The corruption has found a place in
the family nest, and lives are conducted in the dark room, around the remote
control, as the young people are swept away by the filth and disgust.
Who will take these locusts and drive them into the Red Sea?
When will we be smart enough to leave the plague-infested "Egypt," to be like
the land of Goshen, the residence of Benei Yisrael, where everything is quiet and
secure, both inside and outside?
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Three Sanctuaries (part IV)
Just as the Sanctuary is made for the purpose of providing a dwelling-place for
the Shechinah, (Shemot 25:8), so also is the Shabbat day a Sanctuary for the
Shechinah, and so is the Good Mind a dwelling-place for G-d's Presence.

Concerning the noble generation of Israel in the Wilderness it is stated:

"All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and G-d is in their midst."
(Bamidbar 16:3), meaning in every one, for this was the generation of Deah.
Aaron: Thus the Sanctuary, the Shabbat and the True Knowledge (Deah) caused
the presence of G-d to dwell among men and Israel is required to erect these
three Sanctuaries.
Mr. Goodfriend: But even the Sanctuary and the Shabbat are greatly enhanced by
the application of the Good Mind. The lack of proper understanding coulod cause
men to regard the Sanctuary as a cattle-slaughter house where the Kohanim eat
there portions of meat. Such men are better off without a Sanctuary.

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Parashat Beshalah
Benei Yisrael traveled in the desert, encircled by the Clouds of Glory, nourished
by the "mann" which descended from the heavens, but they were thirsty. They
needed water. Did they turn to the Al-mighty, the One who controls the entire
Universe? No. They yelled at Moshe: "The nation fought with Moshe and they
said, 'Give us water so that we could drink...' The nation complained to Moshe,
and it said, 'Why did you bring us out of Egypt?'" How could they ignore Hashem,
who miraculously rescued them from the bondage of Egypt and sustained them
in the wilderness? "This maybe compared to a man who carries his son on his
shoulders and goes along his way. His son sees an item and asks, 'Father, please
give me this,' and his father gives it to him. And a second time, and a third time.
They encounter another person and the boy asks, 'Have you seen my father?' His
father tells him, 'You do not know where I am!?' and the father throws him off his
shoulders. The dog then comes and bites the vulnerable child. Therefore, 'Amalek
then came and waged war against Yisrael'" (Rashi, 17:7).
The Torah serves as an eternal source of guidance. Is history not repeating itself
in our times? We wonder about the crises which unfortunately face us, both
individually and collectively, financially and politically. However, when we take a
closer look, we will realize how much good the Al-mighty has done for us, in all
areas of our lives. Have we learned to appreciate His kindness? Do we realize that
all our blessings come from Him? Do we not forget to thank Him, to ask favors of
Whoever recognizes that we "ride on His shoulders," so-to-speak, then we can
call to Him and He will answer. But if we go around asking, "Have you seen my
father?" and ignore the source of our good fortune, we arouse His anger.
Let us thank Him and offer His praise, and He will then shine His face upon us
Every Friday night, the students of the Lomzah yeshivah would visit the rabbi of
the city, Rabbi Aharon Bakst zs"l, to hear inspiring words regarding the weekly
parashah. On the Friday night of "Shabbat Shirah," they visited the rabbi as
usual, but were quite surprised to see him walking back and forth in his room,
disturbed and excited.
"What happened?" they asked.
"I don't understand," he cried, "I simply cannot understand! I am trying to
understand what Pharaoh was thinking when he went into the sea." He explained,
"He had already tried to resist, and consequently suffered ten plagues. In the
dark of night he had to wake up and chase the people out of Egypt. He saw with
his own eyes that Hashem has the power to kill and give life. Three days later,
when Benei Yisrael turned around, he figured that they were trapped, that divine
providence had left them. He then ran after them, but soon found that he was
wrong. The Clouds of Glory surrounded Benei Yisrael, a pillar of fire guided their
every step, a pillar of cloud stood behind them to protect them. Why did he
continue his chase? Did he not realize that he stood not a chance? And when he

continued further, the sea split before Benei Yisrael and they walked right
through. How did he walk right into the trap? Did he really think that the same
sea which split for them would allow their enemy to chase after them and kill
them? What was he thinking?"
Rabbi Aharon banged on the table and exclaimed, "I will tell you the answer. It is,
in fact, quite simple - he didn't think! He wasn't thinking!"
A person can see, know, and perceive but still fail to reach the proper
conclusions. He may still walk straight into the trap. It is well known that the
ostrich, when the hunter approaches, buries its head in the ground as if the
danger will go away if it can ignore the threat. But the human being is sometimes
even less intelligent - he sometimes ignores the threat without closing his eyes,
without burying his head.
For example: "All of us, principals, teachers, the Ministry of Education, and
parents, are acting like the ostrich," said a veteran teacher in the general school
system in Israel in a recent interview which was published in the Israeli
newspaper, "Ha'aress." She continues, "The sense is that we have not gone down
a level, but we have fallen down into the lowest abyss. In my mind, there has
been a total breakdown of the entire system. Teaching today in school is an
impossibility. I know teachers who stand there in shock. In the schools there is
some crazed spirit, an environment of profanity. There are riots as if in a war. It is
already impossible to figure out who is the aggressor and who is the victim.
Teachers, out of concern for their jobs, lower themselves before the students to
the point of flattery. A teacher will not run the risk of trying to calm a violent
outburst. Fear and concern have overcome us. The environment is simply
despicable." This is the testimony of someone involved in the system. "A
generation is growing whose inner world is pure vanity, made of purely artificial
matter - fashion, luxuries. In their lives there is nothing real for which they get up
in the morning. No one is working on behalf of the other, they are lost and foreign
to even themselves. This is a generation which arouses compassion." It is simply
a horror how some youngsters mistreat others. In just the last year there were
reported 1,200 incidents of serious physical injury as a result of attacks on fellow
classmates. But this is only the tip of the iceberg: "Once they used curses,
stones, and chains. Today they are armed with knives, and there have even been
incidents of grenades being thrown in the school yard," said Dr. Hurvitz, head of
the department of education in Negev University.
So, what is going through the minds of the parents who register their children in
the public schools? Would they be prepared to invest all their savings in a project
which is in the process of "total breakdown of the entire system"? Certainly not!
And their children, their most precious treasure of all, for whom they work so
hard, in whom they place their hopes for the future, the source of their pride and
joy, these children they are prepared to send to such a system which is falling
apart at the seams? To a place of violence and total disarray?
Wake up, parents! Stop and think for a moment. Send your children to Torah
educational systems, bring them along the safer path, and protect them from
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a

One Who Forgot to Mention Shabbat or Yom Tov in me'en Shalosh
One who forgets to recite "me'en hameora," the insertions for Shabbat, Yom Tov,
etc. in birkat me'en shalosh, but remembers right after he says, "Baruch atah"
before he recites the name of Hashem, should he go back and recite the me'en
hameora and then finish the berachah, or should he complete the berachah
without the me'en hameora? Rabbi Yosef Hayim, in "Ben Ish Hai" (Parashat
Mas'ei, 3) cites a dispute among the later authorities. The Eliyah Rabbah rules
that in such a situation the individual should not go back to recite the me'en
hameora, but should simply continue and complete the berachah as is. The
reason given is that the phrase in the berachah aharonah, "ki atah tov umetiv..."
parallels the fourth berachah of birkat hamazon. So, just like one who forgot
me'en hameora in birkat hamazon and remembers after saying "hatov
ve'hameitiv" does not go back, similarly with regard to berachah aharonah, once
"ki atah..." has been recited, one does not go back. However, the author of
"Hesed La'Alafim" argues that there is a distinction between birkat hamazon and
berachah aharonah in this regard. The third berachah in birkat hamazon
concludes, "boneh yerushalayim, amen," which concludes the main body of birkat
hamazon. Therefore, if one realizes at any point thereafter that he neglected to
recite me'en hameora he does not go back. However, in me'en shalosh the entire
berachah is one unit. Therefore, as long as the individual has not yet said
Hashem in the conclusion of the berachah he still has the opportunity to go back
and insert me'en hameora and continue from there. The Ben Ish Hai rules that
one should think in his mind the insertion of me'en hameora and then conclude
the berachah. However, Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a, in Halichot Olam vol. 2
(forthcoming) Parashat Mas'ei, writes that Rabbi Yosef Hayim did not have to
advise against actually verbalizing the me'en hameora, since, after all, this is not
a situation where one runs the risk of mentioning Hashem's name in vain, for the
individual has not yet said "Hashem" in the closing berachah. Therefore, one
should follow the ruling of the Hesed La'Alafim, and one should go back to recite
the me'en hameora and then continue from there. This is also the ruling of Rabbi
Mordechai Karmi in "Ma'amar Mordechai" (208:24) and Rabbi Yaakov Hayim Sofer
in "Kaf Hahayim" (208:27) and is, indeed, the correct ruling. In summary, one
who eats on Shabbat or Yom Tov and must recite a berachah me'en shalosh, but
forgets to recite the insertion for Shabbat/Yom Tov in his berachah, and realizes
his error just before reciting "Hashem" in this final berachah, he recites the
insertion and then finishes the berachah.
The Martyr Benito Garcia
It has been reported that missionaries are increasing their efforts to capture pure
souls who look for faith but, rather than turning to their ancestral beliefs, are
educated according to the false, heretical beliefs. A minister in the Israeli
government went to invite the pope to visit Israel. This is just what we need.
Beyond the Israeli media's infatuation with foreign culture, we forget the rivers of
blood which Christianity has brought upon us, we forget the torch of the
Inquisition on which so many were burnt. Let us therefore quote the speech of
Benito Garcia before he was burnt at the stake: I was born a Jew but was forced
to convert to Christianity. I have been living falsely now for forty years.
Christianity is a cheap form of idol worship. I saw the torch of the Inquisition
which filled my heart with compassion for the victims who were murdered, and

contempt for the murderers. Truth be told, I uphold the laws of Yisrael, I observe
Shabbat, I eat and drink only kosher foods, even in prison. I fast on the Jewish
fasts, and I pray their prayers. The torture which I suffer now I accept upon
myself with love. I deserve them for I did not give up my life so as not to convert,
and I allowed my children to be educated according to the Christian faith. It is
accepted that one sentenced to death is granted one final wish. I have but one
wish: That my children's eyes be opened so that they leave this cursed religion
and return to their ancestral faith, the one true faith, the eternal Law which was
given by the true Creator on Har Sinai. Forty years I lived a life of lies and
falsehood, but now I am about to die a proud Jew, one who proudly returned to
the faith of his forefathers. I will soon meet up with my parents, and I will tell
them, "I am with you. For our faith I have given my life." Let the whole world hear
my voice: Hear Israel, Hashem, our G-d, Hashem is One!" And with these words
on his lips he was consumed by flames, and his soul departed. May Hashem
avenge his blood.
"Look, Hashem has given you the Shabbat"
The Or Hahayim zs"l writes that Moshe was told from the outset that on Friday
the people would collect as usual but would find a double portion of mann. So
why didn't he tell this to the people? He understood that Hashem did not instruct
him to do so, because "Hashem wants to implant within them the plant of faith of
the misvah of Shabbat, that its acceptance and knowledge be from Him, the
Exalted G-d, and not through a messenger. Therefore, they would find a double
portion and will see with their own eyes that Hashem does not want them to have
to go out of their way on Shabbat."
"Look, Hashem has given you the Shabbat"
"Has given," explains Rabbenu Ovadyah Seforno zs"l, refers to a precious gift, not
just a commandment. The Gemara in Masechet Shabbat says that the Al-mighty
said to Moshe, "I have a wonderful gift in my storage room called Shabbat. I want
to give it to Yisrael - please go tell them." Shabbat itself is an absolute
commandment, but the spiritual enjoyment of Shabbat is a precious and special
gift. That is why the pasuk says, "Benei Yisrael will keep the Shabbat" - referring
to the commandment, "to perform the Shabbat" - referring to the enjoyment, the
precious gift. "Look, Hashem has given you the Shabbat."
"Look, Hashem has given you the Shabbat"
Rabbi Hayim Kohen zs"l of Aram Soba, one of the students of the Ar"i zs"l,
explains that in order for Hashem's abundance from the heavens to have an
impact down below we must prepare the receptacle. We must take the first step,
take the initiative. Therefore, on Fridays, Benei Yisrael had to go out and prepare
for Shabbat, and only then could the blessing take effect: "Look, Hashem has
given you the Shabbat, therefore He gives you on Friday food for two days."
The Egyptian Eagle

The Egyptian eagle is a bird of prey, which feeds off the bodies of animals which
have died in the fields. Occasionally, the eagle will descend upon an elderly or
sick animal and attack it.
This bird is especially known for its affinity for egg yolks. Therefore, at every
opportunity it has, when it sees an egg with no birds around, it immediately gets
to work.
The eagle prefers the large egg of the ostrich, despite the fact that many times it
will have to work laboriously to crack the shell. This egg weighs around a
kilogram and a half and its shell is particularly hard. The eagle's beak is not
strong enough to break it. Therefore, its Creator has endowed it with the wisdom
to use a stone for this task. It hurls a stone against the shell once, twice, or as
many times as necessary until the shell cracks open. The eagle then thrusts his
beak inside and enjoys the yolk.
Clearly, the wisdom of animals is limited and we cannot possibly compare the
intelligence of other creatures to that of humans, even regarding animals which
seem to have more intelligence than other creatures.
Each morning we recite a berachah thanking Hashem for giving the rooster the
wisdom to distinguish between night and day. This way we appreciate the wonder
and depth laden within each creature in the world, from its physical, external
appearance, to its internal being, its wisdom.
The Repaid Debt (3)
Flashback: Naftali threw a stone into the general's chariot and injured him. By
order of the general, the boy was imprisoned. After much effort on the part of the
community, he was brought to the capital city for trial.
It was winter time. A thick array of clouds covered the skies, and pouring rain fell
incessantly. The roads became swamps of mud, through which the guard and his
prisoner trudged, soaked down to the bone. A treacherous wind blew, raw and
chilling, as the fiery streaks of lightning accompanied the echoes of thunder.
Their path was constantly interrupted by rivers of floodwater. They had to go out
of their way to avoid the flash floods, to look for little islands on which to cross
the huge masses of rainwater. And so, drenched and shivering, worn out and
fatigued, they sought out a place to lodge for the night. As they traveled around
and around they lost their way, and had no idea where they were. They knew not
of any place nearby to lodge. "At least let us find a cave for protection,"
suggested the guard to his prisoner. Naftali, his hands locked in chains and his
knees trembling, answered nothing. A cave could be a hideout for wild animals,
and a haven for dangerous snakes. Certainly it would have been better to be
back within the protective walls of his prison cell....What is this? he snapped at
himself. Where is your trust in the Creator, where is the expression, "This, too, is
for the best"? Where is the firm belief that "Even when I walk in the valley of the
shadow of death, still I will not fear for You are with me"? "Keep up your spirits,"
he said to himself, "straighten your head proudly. Remember the words of the
Midrash that a Jew, no matter where he is, his G-d is with him!" He picked up his
head and continued walking. He pointed to the distance, to the dark horizon, and
said to his guard, "Look, over there, is that not smoke in the distance?"

Smoke means that there is a bonfire. Is it a settled area or a gang of bandits?

"Come," said the guard. "Let's see where the smoke is coming from."
to be continued...
The Educated Patient
Once there was an intelligent, well-educated individual who had to know
everything. He had to know how flowers grow, how the birds fly, why the sky is
blue and why bread sustains life. He researched, studied, and became very
knowledgeable. One day he became sick and his condition deteriorated steadily.
The doctor came and found his patient fighting for his life. He quickly took out his
syringe, took the patient's arm, and was ready to inject some penicillin to save
his life. "Stop," ordered the intelligent patient. "What are you doing? I want to
know how this works!" "It's a very lengthy, involved and complicated
explanation," said the doctor. "I would first have to explain to you what the illness
is, its causes and repercussions, what penicillin is, and how it deals with the
illness. By the time my presentation is over and you understand everything
properly, who knows if you will still be alive! Trust me, there is good reason why I
have been paid for so many years to practice medicine. I have been in the field
for several decades and I have saved hundreds of lives. Give me your arm, and
allow me to save your life. Afterwards, I will explain everything to you." "No,"
insisted the patient. "I never do anything without knowing how it works." "Very
well," said the doctor, and he began his presentation. In the meantime, the
patient closed his eyes, forever... This is what is said in our parashah, as
explained by the Hid"a zs"l: "He said, if you will listen to the voice of Hashem,
your G-d, and that which is right in His eyes you will do, and you heed His
commandments, and you observe all his statutes, every illness which I placed in
Egypt I will not place upon you, for I am Hashem, your physician." You should
know, that the misvot are the cure. A person must trust the expert physician and,
before anything else, must take the medication as prescribed by Him. Only
afterward, if he wants, he can apply himself to understand how they work. But,
before anything, he must follow them completely, without trying to outsmart
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Five Kinyanim (part I)
Aaron: That is perhaps a reason for the lack of a Sanctuary today.
Mr. Goodfriend: Yes. It is better for them not too view the service of the offerings
with their own eyes; but when they read the Talmud and see the Sanctuary
service through the eyes of the great generations of the past, they better
understand the importance of the offerings. Without Deah one possesses nothing;
with Deah, one has everything. The true awareness brings the Shechinah closer.

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Yitri
"You saw that which I did to Egypt; I carried you on the wings of eagles, and I
brought you to me" (Shemot 19:4). The great Tanna, Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel,
explains that "You saw that which I did to Egypt" refers to the slaying of the firstborn. He continues, "I carried you upon the Clouds of Glory, I carried you out of
Egypt and I brought you to the place of the Bet Hamikdash to perform the korban
pesah, and that night I returned you to Egypt, and from there I brought you to
receive my Torah." Amazing! In miraculous fashion the entire nation was brought
to Yerushalayim, they offered the korban Pesah in the place of the Bet
Hamikdash, and they were transported again to Egypt. The question begs to be
asked: why didn't they just stay in Israel? They could have avoided the entire
trauma of being chased by the Egyptian armies, the sin of the golden calf, the sin
of the spies, the incident of "Kivrot Hata'avah," and forty years of exhausting

travel through the desert. The answer is written explicitly and contains therein a
critical lesson.
Hashem wanted to teach us that there is no value to settling and inhabiting the
land unless the settlement is preceded by the acceptance of the Torah. Even if we
were to distribute Eres Yisrael to the various tribes with Moshe in charge, the Bet
Hamikdash standing in all its glory, this would not have been enough. We would
still have to turn around and go back to receive the Torah. Only thereafter can we
turn our attention to the settling of Eres Yisrael.
Let us engrave this lesson onto our hearts. In our generation we have merited the
resettling of the Land of Israel. But this cannot be accomplished without one
prerequisite - the acceptance of the Torah.
The Sadik and His Clone
One hundred and fifty years ago there lived a saintly sadik, a leading authority of
halachah as well as master of Kabbalah, the author of "Divrei Hayim," zs"l. His
prayers stirred people's hearts, his Torah was flawless, his rulings were accepted
by all, and his blessings were not returned without accomplishing their goal.
Masses thronged to his home to receive his blessings for various needs, and
barren women conceived, sick patients were cured, and the rays of success
shone on the impoverished.
The "Divrei Hayim" had a son named Rabbi Baruch, who was the rabbi of
Goreliss. Rabbi Baruch tells that when the "Sitra Ahara" (the prosecutor against
us in the heavens) saw the masses converging to the residence of the Divrei
Hayim to receive his blessings, he trembled in fear. The obvious miracles
performed by the sadik in the merit of the Torah would surely lead the hearts of
the people to teshuvah. The Satan therefore stood before the Divine Throne, as it
were, and argued, "Master of World! Man's capacity of free will is one of the
principles by which the world is conducted. A person always stands at the
crossroads, having to decide which path to take - the right one or the wrong one,
to choose blessing or curse. But now free choice is being taken away, the balance
has been disrupted, and this foundation of free choice is being undermined!" The
argument seemed strong, so the Sitra Ahara was authorized to present its own
"sadik." This sadik was a perfect replica of the Divrei Hayim, a "clone" of the
great sadik. He also prayed with amazing intensity, he also learned Torah
diligently, he also greeted crowds and bestowed blessings upon them. The Sitra
Ahara granted him supernatural powers so that his blessings would be carried out
completely. And so, by his word, as it were, sick patients were cured, infertile
parents had children, and countless other wonders were performed by the
impostor. From this point on, the masses split into two groups: one went to the
sadik, the other went to the other man.
Indeed, free choice was restored. What was the difference between the two men
whose blessings were sought?
After all, they both wore beards and "pe'ot," they both immersed themselves in
the mikveh regularly, carried themselves with the distinction of religious
leadership, and both gave the impression of being true dignitaries. So what was
the difference between them? There was one critical difference between them.
When a Jew would come before the Divrei Hayim to discuss his crisis - a sick
child, an unsuccessful business, slanderous rumors circulating about him,

whatever the situation was - the Divrei Hayim would ask him, "Does your
business close on Shabbat? Do you observe the laws of family purity? Where do
the children go to school? Do you set aside time for Torah study?" If it turns out
that one of these basic tenets is being violated, the sadik would say, "How can I
beseech the Al-mighty on your behalf if you violate his commandments and
ignore his statutes? Let's make the following arrangement: you accept upon
yourself to improve your behavior, in the observance of Shabbat, family purity,
and Torah education, and I will intercede on your behalf that Hashem bestow his
blessings upon you." With the other man, however, things worked a little
differently. People would come, present their problem, pay some money, receive
their blessing, and leave to continue their lives with no move towards selfimprovement. Truth be told, this story finds its roots in this week's parashah. Yitro
questions Moshe why people line up to speak with him all day. He asks Moshe,
"What are you doing? About what are you talking to them?" Moshe answers, "For
the nation would come to me to seek out the Al-mighty, and I will tell them the
laws of Hashem and His Torah." The Ramban zs"l explains that "to seek out the
Al-mighty" refers to, " pray for their ill, or if they lost something, they would
come to me and I would tell them with divine inspiration where to look.
Furthermore, that I judge any argument which would arise among them." Moshe
continues, "I will tell them the laws of Hashem and His Torah." Meaning, Moshe
took advantage of this opportunity to strengthen their observance of the Torah.
That is why the conversations took such a long time, and the people stood over
Moshe from the morning until the evening.
Indeed, we must always remember that there are sadikim of purity and sanctity,
and there are impostors who have been established to deter the people away
from the proper path. If the sadik attempts to bring the hearts of the people
closer to their Father in Heaven, to bring them closer to the misvot and the path
of our patriarchs, to increase sanctity and holiness, Shabbat observance and
Torah education, then his righteousness is one of kedushah, continuing the legacy
of Moshe, and his wonders are not those of the Sitra Ahara, Heaven forbid.
Parents tend to split into two groups, as well. Clearly each parent wants only the
best for his/her children and longs to give them what they want. However, do
these parents just give continuously and without discretion, or do they also
concern themselves with the spiritual necessities of the children, combining
blessing with instruction and guidance, fulfilling the children's wishes together
with educating them along the ideals of the Torah?
Based On the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
The "Berachah Me'ein Shalosh" for Several Different Species
Someone who eats a "kezayit" of cake and, before he recites a berachah
aharonah, eats a "kezayit" of fruit from the seven special fruits which require a
berachah me'en shalosh, and, furthermore, he drinks a "revi'it" of wine in one
sitting, regarding such a case the Shulhan Aruch writes (208:12) that the person
recites just one berachah me'en shalosh and mentions in the blessing all three
items. Thus, he does not have to recite an individual blessing for each item which
he ate/drank. He opens the berachah with "al hamihyah" for the grain, then he
says, "al hagefen" for the wine, and finally, "al haperot" for the fruits. Similarly, at

the end of the blessing, he follows this order. The Turei Zahav explains that the
mentioning of the grain product comes first because the blessing of "borei minei
mezonot," which is recited on grain products, is considered more important and
clearer. Furthermore, in the pasuk which mentions the seven special species of
Eres Yisrael, grain products are mentioned first, implying that they are considered
more important than the other species. Next in importance is wine, as evidenced
by the fact that Hazal instituted a special berachah for wine (borei peri hagefen).
And thus, "al haperot" is mentioned last.
The Magen Avraham writes that since the halachah is that one who accidentally
recites "al haperot" instead of "al hagefen" for wine he has still fulfilled his
obligation as wine is included in "al haperot" (it, too, is a fruit, as we have
explained in early issues), therefore, when one eats fruit of the seven species and
drinks wine, he should not recite "al hagefen" at all, but should simply mention
"al haperot," for, as we have seen, the wine is included in "al haperot." The
Mishnah Berurah (208:61) writes that since common practice is not in accordance
with this ruling of the Magen Avraham and most authorities argue on his position,
one should recite both "al hagefen" and "al haperot." However, if one erred and
recited only "al haperot," he does not need to recite a new berachah. In
summary, one who eats a kezayit of cake, a kezayit of fruits from the seven
special fruits, and drank a revi'it of wine, he incorporates all three into a single
berachah me'en shalosh, mentioning all three items in the berachah. However, if
one forgot to mention "al hagefen" he has still fulfilled his requirement and does
not need to recite a new berachah.
Rabbi Moshe Galanti zs"l
The 21st of Shevat marks the anniversary of the death of one of the saintliest of
our leaders, Rabbi Moshe Galanti zs"l, known as the "Magen," who died in
Yerushalayim in 5449, three hundred and nine years ago. In a publication in
Yerushalayim it is told of a terrible drought during which there was no rain and
the ground yielded no produce. The water in the wells was used up and
Yerushalayim was suffering from thirst. A delegation was sent to the Magen
declaring that if no rain fell in the next three days all the Jews would be driven
out of the city, for, it was believed, because of them the drought has occurred.
The rabbi gathered the community leaders who were seized with terror upon
hearing the decree. They decreed a fast for three days during which the
community would pray and cry. On the third day the rabbi instructed that
everybody come with him to pray at the grave site of Shimon Hasadik. He added
that they should take with them their winter clothes, for on their way back it
would be pouring rain. As the Jews left Damascus Gate, the guard asked them
why there were carrying coats. When they told him that the rabbi had instructed
them to do so, he scorned them, approached the rabbi, and slapped him across
the face.
The rabbi ignored him and continued. When he arrived at the grave he prayed for
salvation, and suddenly a stormy wind started blowing through the branches of
the trees. The skies darkened and raindrops started falling. The rabbi did not
leave until the rain started to fall in torrents. They all put on their coats and
returned to the city amidst joyful singing. When they reached Damascus Gate
they were greeted by the guard who asked the rabbi to forgive him for his

disrespectful behavior, and he, himself, carried the rabbi on his shoulders to his
house so that his feet would not get wet walking through the streams of water
which flowed through the city streets. The rain continued unabated for three days
non-stop. The Moslem guard came before the rabbi and expressed his desire to
convert. The rabbi sent him to Damascus where he converted and became an
observant, G-d-fearing Jew.
The Magen died on 21 Shevat, and he is buried on Har Hazetim near the grave of
Rabbi Ovadia Mibartenura zs"l.
"Yisrael encamped there across from the mountain"
Rabbenu Yosef Hayim zs"l noted that "neged hahar" (across from the mountain)
may be interpreted as the letters which correspond to the letters of "har," which
are "dalet" and "kuf" on one side and "vav" and "shin" on the other. When all the
letters are combined together they spell, "kadosh." The implication being that
when Benei Yisrael encamped at Har Sinai before the receiving of the Torah there
were on a high level of sanctity, which must be attained before receiving the
Torah and beholding the Shechinah.
"Yisrael encamped there across from the mountain"
Rabbi Yehudah Birdogo zs"l, in his work, "Mayim Amukim," cites Hazal's comment
that Moshe was instructed to teach the men separately from the women, as the
verse states, "So shall you say to the house of Yaakov" - referring to the women "and you shall say to Benei Yisrael" referring to the men. Why did the women
precede the men in this context? Because, as the pasuk states, "Yisrael
encamped there across from the mountain," which refers only to the males. The
women, in keeping with the proper observance of "seni'ut," were a little further
away. Therefore, to emphasize that their distance was not, Heaven forbid, a
demonstration of disrespect towards the women, they were instructed first, to
show that this is the proper path of service of Hashem, by separating the
"Yisrael encamped there across from mountain"
The Hid"a zs"l asks, why did Moshe refuse so emphatically when he was charged
with the mission to take Benei Yisrael out of Egypt, but yet he did not refuse
when he was asked to receive the Torah on behalf of Benei Yisrael? The answer is
that he saw that the nation encamped across from Har Sinai, the shortest
mountain, and they learned from the mountain the quality of humility so that
each person looked up to the other, and they became like one person with one
heart. Moshe thus understood that the lowest of people should be the one to
receive the Torah on everyone's behalf. That is why Hazal say, "Moshe received
the Torah from Sinai" - from this mountain he learned this lesson.
The Repaid Debt (4)
Flashback: The child, Naftali, playfully threw a rock into the officer's chariot and
injured him. The furious officer threw him into prison. After much effort he was

given to a guard to be taken to the capital city to stand trial. On the way they
encountered an intense storm and lost their way. Nightfall was approaching when
they suddenly saw a pillar of smoke rising in the distance. They headed toward
the source of the smoke.
The path was not an easy one, and it was even worse for these two travelers.
Naftali's hands were locked in chains and the armed guard held the boy with one
hand and his weapon in the other. They splashed in the mud and hopped around
in the huge puddles which formed from the water coming down from the
mountains. Meanwhile, the rain continued pouring mercilessly. As they
approached, they saw beyond the torrents of rain a small settlement with smoke
rising from the homes. They headed toward the village, and, as they walked,
night fell. It was pitch black, with only the flashes of lightning to help them see
where they were going. After a long hour they found themselves in the outskirts
of the village, exhausted and worn out, all their limbs aching. The houses were
dark, as the villagers go to sleep at nightfall and wake up at daybreak. "Come,"
said the guard, "we will knock on the door of the first house. We will wake them
up in the name of the king so we can get some food and a place to sleep."
"Wait," answered Naftali, "I see some light!"
Indeed, there was a beam of light visible in one of the homes. A glimmer of hope
pounded in the boy's heart. "What villager doesn't go to sleep at nightfall? Who
stays awake on such a stormy night?" He guessed an answer and hoped he was
right. "Very well," sighed the guard. "Let's go there. Maybe they're having dinner
and we can join them." They went and stumbled until they finally arrived at the
house. They walked across the yard and knocked on the door. The guard knocked,
and Naftali moved his hands along the sides of the door post, celebrating in his
heart: he was right, there was a mezuzah on the door post!
to be continued...
The Crane
The crane has earned a special place among the family of birds.
The crane distinguishes itself by being a fantastic shouter, as its shrieks can be
heard several kilometers away.
Its windpipe is exceptionally long and part of it extends into the chest cavity. This
is why its voice is so unusual.
Why does the crane yell? This bird is widely known for its beauty, which attracts
many hunters. Whenever it senses that its life is in danger it shouts deafening
cries, causing the hunter to leave the hunt, thereby saving its own life by
We are all familiar with the prohibition of causing unnecessary harm to other
creatures, so a Jew does not need to hear these or any other cries to keep us
from hunting. Knowledge of the prohibition should suffice. We must be
exceedingly careful in this matter. The story is told of Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi who
was staying in Sipori. A calf ran out from a nearby slaughter house and hid inside

the rabbi's jacket. Rabbi Yehudah told him, "Go, as for this you were created."
Because he did not show enough compassion for this animal it was decreed that
he would suffer from a disease of the teeth, which he endured for no fewer than
thirteen years, until he was cured through a miracle.
And what about us?!
"I Have Brought You To Me"
"I carried you on the wings of eagles." Rashi cites the Midrash which explains this
pasuk as a metaphor: "Like an eagle which carries its young on its wings. Other
birds put their young in between its legs, since they fear other birds which fly
overhead. But the eagle is not afraid of other birds; only from men who shoot
arrows, as no other birds fly higher than it. Therefore, it puts its young on its
wings. It says, better the arrow goes through me and not my children. Similarly,
the Al-mighty does this, as the pasuk says, 'The Angel of Hashem who was
walking in front of the camp traveled and went behind them, and he came in
between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Yisrael.' The Egyptians would hurl
arrows and stones, and the cloud would catch them."
This explanation, itself only a metaphor, requires further elucidation. The cloud
which caught the arrows certainly did save Benei Yisrael, but it is quite clear that
the Glory of Hashem, as it were, is beyond any physical qualities. What, then, is
the comparison between Hashem and the eagle which takes the arrow through its
body to protect its young? Indeed, a deep message is being conveyed here. The
Egyptians were not the only ones chasing Benei Yisrael. "Benei Yisrael raised
their eyes, and behold Egypt is chasing after them." In this pasuk, the verb form
is in the singular. The Zohar explains that it refers to the angel of Egypt in
heaven. The angel in charge of the Egyptian nation chased after Benei Yisrael
and fired arrows at them. These arrows are spiritual ones, accusations against
Benei Yisrael that they were not worthy of redemption, for they, too, were sinners
who had sunk to the forty-nine "gates of impurity," contaminated by all the
idolatry and other abominations of Egypt. These arrows are truly lethal, and had
the potential to withhold the advent of Yesiat Misrayim. The Al-mighty said, as it
were, "Better that the arrows go through me." Meaning, I am prepared to have
the accusations against Me and the way I conduct the world, rather than have the
arrow penetrate My children! Why? As the pasuk concludes, "I carried you on the
wings of eagles - and I brought you to Me."
Even if they weren't worthy at that point in time, soon they would stand at the
foot of Har Sinai to accept His Torah, to declare in unison, "We will do and we will
hear!" The coming redemption, too, will be like the Exodus from Egypt: "Like the
days you left Egypt I will show you wonders." Even with all the accusations
against us the redemption will unfold, so together we could accept upon
ourselves the yoke of Heaven with love and joy.
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Five Kinyanim (part II)

"Five Kinyanim did G-d makein His world: Torah, heaven and earth, Abraham,
Israel and the Bet Hamikdash" (Avot 6:10). Kinyanim are acts of attaching objects
to the personality (ownership) by these five ways, the Presence of G-d rests upon
the world. They all have in common the ability to cause Da'at, the True
Knowledge and awareness of G-d; and it is this True Knowledge which brings the
Shechinah closer. The heaven and the earth, when viewed by men cause them to
recognize the Creator. "The heavens relate the glory of G-d" (Tehillim 19:2); "and
G-d made so that they should fear Him" (Kohelet 3:14).

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Mishpatim
"You Shall Not Utter A False Report"

The Nation of Israel is holy. On Yom Kippur it is forbidden to eat, so we fast. On

Shabbat work is forbidden, so we refrain from doing forbidden activity. However,
there is a pasuk in our parashah which has not merited quite the same level of
attention. "You shall not utter a false report," which also includes the prohibition
to accept slander, evil talk about another (lashon hara). It is a Torah violation to
believe an unverified report or to listen at all to gossip. For example, the grave
transgressions of which Jews are accused, which the media reports with such
wicked passion and excitement, all the hype generated by the press over
unconfirmed rumors and allegations, as they pass judgment before trial and
derisively scorn people for unverified crimes. They claim, like the executioners
during the French Revolution, "The public likes it, this is what they want." This
brings the ratings higher, it increases their readership. And so, the masses who
read the reports are swept into the slander and become participants in this
disgrace. We all share some of the guilt. If we bought the papers, and thus
increased its readership, we have expressed our acceptance of the way the paper
is conducted and encouraged the corruption. If we turned on the radio and paid
attention, we have become part of the supporting group of listeners. Not to
mention how the slander contaminates the soul, desensitizes our feelings,
distorts our peace of mind, and, as Hazal say, "Lashon hara kills the three people
Not to mention also the many Torah violations involved: "You shall not utter a
false report."
If we do not have the ability to stop the wave of slander, we can at least close our
ears and turn off the radio!
"You revealed Yourself with the cloud of Your glory to Your nation to speak with
them...from the heavens You sounded Your voice, and You revealed Yourself to
them in Your fog of purity...when You, our King, revealed Yourself at Har Sinai and
taught Your nation Torah and misvot." This is how we begin our description of
"Ma'amad Har Sinai" in the third berachah of Amidah on Rosh Hashanah, the
berachah of "shofarot." The moving, powerful experience which is forever
engraved in our national awareness. Benei Yisrael already had somewhat of a feel
for Torah and misvot, as they had been taught several of them already. At Marah
they learned about such lofty concepts as Shabbat. They had been told the laws
of purity when they studied the halachah of the Parah Adumah (red heifer). They
were aware of the misvah to honor one's parents whose honor is likened to that
of the Al-mighty Himself. They anxiously awaited to hear the details of the
misvot, all six hundred and thirteen of them.
With what did the Torah begin its discussion of the details of the misvot? With the
punishment for murderers, the punishment for one who beats his parents, the
laws regarding kidnappers, and how to deal with barbarians who beat others to
death. And so on.
We read about the thief who is caught and the hired watchman who is held
responsible when he is lax in his duties.
We are told to be sensitive to the feelings of others. Not to persecute a foreigner,
orphans, widows and the poor. Not to accept bribes, not to offer false testimony.
Simple, elementary, humane rules which are shared by every upright society. Are

these the first misvot which we need to be told? We would have expected to hear
about the service of Hashem, prayer and sacrifices, the laws of the festivals,
tefillin and sisit. Instead, the Torah focuses first on the "don'ts" rather than the
"do's." And even so, it deals not with the more serious transgressions of violating
Shabbat, idol worship, or promiscuity. It does not even mention laws of kashrut,
shaving with a razor or wearing sha'atnez.
Instead, the Torah opens with "simple" prohibitions and an elementary system of
punishment: the punishments for murderers and thieves, for corruption among
judges and witnesses. Benei Yisrael must have asked themselves, "For this we
stood at the foot of Har Sinai? For this we experienced the wondrous events of
Matan Torah?"
But perhaps the most difficult question is, the parashah opens, "These are the
statutes which you shall place before them." Hazal add, "Before them - and not
before the gentiles" (Gittin 88b). One must wonder, is it not possible to come up
with such a system for the other nations, ways of punishing the violent murderer,
the thief and the larcenist? It is well understood that the laws of sisit, tefillin,
massah and shofar, the prohibitions of kashrut, sha'atnez and laws of agriculture
- these are special, and it is well understood, "Before them and not before the
gentiles." But can the same be said about laws regarding proper societal
A good question, indeed, but, sadly, we all know the answer. About one hundred
years ago, when the first wave of secularists decided to change the face of the
nation and turn us into "a nation like all other nations," the high moral standards
of the people bothered them terribly. This is a nation which is not "normal": there
are no murderers, thieves, or crime. One of them went so far as to say that he
longs for the day when the first Jewish murderer will be imprisoned, for then he
will know that his mission has been accomplished, that his life dream has been
brought into fruition.
Wherever he and his friends are now, there are probably celebrating. The reality
has far exceeded their dreams. Worst of all, according to police estimates in
Israel, a murder occurs in the Jewish State every other day. This does not include
the murder of fetuses through abortions. Every six hours a robbery is carried out,
and every two minutes some form of felony occurs.
The Torah institutions bothered them to no end and allowed them no rest. They
expanded their own network of schools with some very impressive results: the
rampant permissiveness knows no bounds, violence prevails with no restraint,
knives and fists have been replaced by sophisticated accessories. Students return
home still under the effect of drugs. We have exceeded the hopes of being "a
nation like all other nations" - we have become first in the running, leading the
race to the lowest depths.
Do not say we weren't warned in advance. Three thousand years ago, when the
Torah was given, we were told, "These are the statutes which you shall place
before them." Which statutes? The most basic, elementary laws of a just society,
laws of relations between people, the most basic guidelines of proper behavior.
"Before them and not before the gentiles." Only a life of Torah and misvah
observance can prevent rampant crime, dangerous violence, and the corruption
of values. The misvot of the Torah sanctify us and cleanse us, they exalt and
purify, but, first and foremost, they prevent deterioration down the lowest abyss.

Every parent is faced with the decision to where to send his child. He must
choose between ascent or descent, up or down. Torah education, or the absence
of values. The responsibility is great, and the first pasuk of our parashah is the
warning sign.
Based Upon the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Mosheh Yosef shlit"a
One Who Eats Fruits and Vegetables
The Rambam (Hilchot Berachot 8:16) writes, "One who eats fruits of the seven
special species, and it is a quantity which requires a berachah aharonah, and also
eats with them other fruits which are not of the seven species, he recites one
'berachah me'en shalosh' which fulfills his obligation for both." The Rashba
explains that since the individual says in the blessing, "for the trees and the fruits
of the trees," this includes all fruits which he ate, even those not of the seven
special species. However, Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a in Halichot Olam vol. 2
(Parashat Pinhas, 9) demonstrates from Shulhan Aruch that only the central part
of the berachah is the determining factor, not the text of the opening or
conclusion of the berachah. Only those foods included in the central, main part of
the berachah can have their requirement fulfilled by that berachah. However,
foods which are included in a different part of the berachah require a separate
berachah. For this reason the Shulhan Aruch (208:13) rules that one who eats
vegetables together with fruits of the seven species recites a berachah for each,
just as one who drinks a "revi'it" of wine and eats other fruits must recite two
separate berachot. However, the Magen Avraham (202:26) brings the opinion of
the "Agudah" that if one eats a grain product as well as vegetables, he should
first recite "borei nefashot" (for the vegetables) and only then recite "al
hamihyah," for it may be that his "al hamihyah" would fulfill his obligation for the
vegetables, as well. Therefore, it is best to recite "borei nefashot" first to get
around any doubt. Even though the main component of the berachah is "al
hamihyah" which refers to grain, nevertheless it may fulfill the requirement for
the vegetables, as well. Apparently, he is following the view of the S'mak as cited
by the Kaf Hahayim(208:73) that the phrase, "al tenuvat hasadeh" ("for the
produce of the land"), recited towards the beginning of al hamihyah, fulfills the
obligation for any foods which grow in the field. Other Rishonim express this view,
as well, though many others argue. In any event, we never recite a berachah
when in doubt as to whether it is warranted, so here, too, we must be concerned
for this view. It turns out then, that only when a person eats a fruit such as an
apple together with fruits from the seven species can he fulfill his requirements
with one berachah, me'en shalosh. But if he ate vegetables with the fruits of the
seven species, or if he ate cake together with fruits which are not from the seven
species or vegetables, he should first recite borei nefashot and only thereafter
recite a berachah me'en shalosh. Despite the fact that berachah me'en shalosh is
more specific than borei nefashot and therefore should take preference,
nevertheless in these cases we are concerned that maybe "al tenuvat hasadeh"
fulfills the obligation for borei nefashot, and the recitation of borei nefashot would
then be unwarranted. Therefore, in these cases borei nefashot is recited first. If
one did, in these cases, recite berachah me'en shalosh first and, while he did, he
intended to fulfill his requirement of borei nefashot through the recitation of "al
tenuvat hasadeh," he should not recite a borei nefashot thereafter. In summary,

one who eats a quantity of fruits from the seven species which requires a
berachah aharonah and, together with the fruit, he ate other fruits, such as an
apple, he recites afterward only one berachah, the berachah me'en shalosh.
However, if he eats vegetables with cake or he eats fruits from the seven species
together with vegetables, he recites borei nefashot followed by berachah me'en
Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra zs"l
Rosh Hodesh Adar marks the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra
zs"l, who passed away eight hundred and thirty-four years ago. The Rambam zs"l,
in his famous letter, wrote to his son Rabbi Avraham, "You, my son, I command
you not to study any commentaries or works and do not bother your mind except
with the commentaries of Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, his essays and books. They
are very good and help anyone who reads them with intensity, purity of mind,
and meticulous concentration. They are not like other works, for he was like
Avraham our patriarch in spirit. Everything that you read from his words and his
allusions which he speaks, study thoroughly, and pay very close attention to it
with clarity of mind and pure concentration. For this scholar was afraid of nobody
and showed no favoritism to any creature...I was told about him that he
composed commentaries on the Torah in which he reveals deep, powerful
secrets, to be understood only by those on his level, the remaining few to whom
Hashem calls...The commentary on Mishnah, the Mishneh Torah, and Moreh
Nevuchim was arranged on his secrets to which he alludes in his works and
books." Rabbi Zecharyah Ben Saruk zs"l writes in his commentary to Megilat
Esther about Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, "Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, after the
compilation of the Talmud, was as great as all the geonim despite the fact that he
was not one of the geonim of Bavel. He was a comprehensive, complete scholar
of all fields of wisdom. I saw his works on Masechet Kiddushin and they are
written with the utmost depth and truth." Rabbi Yedayah Hapenini zs"l writes,
"The scholar, Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, rises above all scholars in the
understanding of truth and his diligence in the pursuit of wisdom, the distancing
of all distortions of understanding in that which is written in the Torah and the
Prophets." Rabbenu Tam zs"l, the greatest of the Tosafists, also held Rabbi
Avraham Ibn Ezra in very high esteem. They met and even continued a
correspondence. He composed many works, over twenty of them. The most
famous is his commentary on the Torah, and the Ramban zs"l deals a lot with his
writings. He was seventy-five years old when he died, and he said about himself
before his death, "Avraham was seventy-five years old when he left 'Haran'
-referring to the anger ('haron af') of the world."
"And these are the statutes which you shall place before them"
Hazal note that the extra letter "vav" ("and") in the beginning of the pasuk
means that this parashah continues last week's parashah, the account of Matan
Torah. Rashi adds that it teaches us that just as the Ten Commandments were
given at Har Sinai, so were these misvot of behavior among people are not just
sensible, pragmatic laws. They, too, were given to Moshe at Har Sinai.
Rabbi Ovadyah Seforno zs"l writes that this parashah flows naturally from the end
of last week's parashah. The last of the Ten Commandments is "You shall not

covet...all that belongs to your friend." It is only natural to then proceed to

present the laws governing property so that everybody knows what belongs to
them and what belongs to other people.
"And these are the statutes which you shall place before them"
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 7a) asks, what does it mean, "...that you shall place
before them?" Shouldn't the pasuk be written, "...that you shall teach them"? The
Gemara answers that the pasuk refers to the various means of punishment which
the leaders use to enforce their rulings. Rabbi "Abir Yaakov" Abuhassera zs"l adds
that the first letter of the words in this pasuk spell, "leta'avah," desires,
suggesting that a person whose desires begin overpowering him should remind
himself of these whips and rods ready to deal with the sinners in Gehinnom. The
individual will then prevent himself from following his desires and will improve his
"And these are the statutes which you shall place before them"
The Gemara (Gittin 88a) explains that "before them" implies that we should not
settle our disputes in non-Jewish courts, those who rule according to legal
systems other than Torah law. It further indicates that we should not bring our
cases before judges who rule not based on any legal system but according to
their own intuition. It is therefore forbidden for a Jew to bring another Jew to a
court which does not rule according to the Shulhan Aruch. However, writes the
Ramban zs"l, there is a difference between these two rules: If the two litigants
agree, they can bring their case before those who rule based upon their intuition,
but to bring it to a non-Jewish court is forbidden even if they both agree.
The Heavens
The world was created with ten proclamations of Hashem, culminating with the
creation of Man. Everything is created for the human being and he is the most
important creature of them all - the crown of creation.
On top of our heads are intricate systems of stars, stars which, miraculously,
revolve one around the other. There are stars which exist relatively close to us
while others lie hundreds of millions of miles away. There are stars whose light
and heat far surpass that of the sun, but the vast distance between them and us
cause them to appear like tiny speckles of light. Earth, one of the planets, rotates
around its own axis with tremendous speed which causes the difference between
day and night. If the Earth would rotate just a bit slower, the days would be
much, much longer and many things would burn from the scolding heat of the
sun, and we would freeze from the long, cold nights. It is difficult to describe what
would happen if the distance between us and the sun would shrink by just a few
thousand miles (a very small amount in relation to the distance between Earth
and the sun). In the center of all this stands the human being, and the creation
supplies him with everything he needs. He receives his food and clothing from
the animals and vegetation, as they all stand prepared to serve his needs.
Regarding this Hazal write in the Midrash (Kohelet Rabbah) that when Hashem
first created man he took him to all the trees in Gan Eden and said, "Look how
beautiful My creation is. Everything which I created, I created for you. Be careful
not to become corrupt and destroy My world."

The Repaid Debt (5)
Flashback: Young Naftali, during a game with his friends, threw a rock into the
officer's chariot and injured him. The angry officer threw Naftali into prison. After
a lot of effort by the community, the boy was taken by a guard to stand trial in
the capital city. On the way, they encountered a terrible storm and lost their way.
At nightfall they came across a small village. As the guard knocked on the door,
Naftali felt a mezuzah on the door post, indicating that this was the home of a
The door opened before them, and a wave of warmth burst forth from the home
and enveloped them. An older Jewish man appeared and said, "Please, come in."
They entered the house and stepped into the sitting room. An old book was open
on the table by the light of an oil lamp which stood nearby. "Sit by the oven,"
suggested the host. "I will set the table for you to eat." He kissed the book and
closed it. He brought out bread and put a dish on the fire. "You will have to undo
his chains," he told the guard. The guard refused. "I was instructed to guard him
so he does not escape. If he escapes, my head will be severed instead of his!"
The host smiled. "Escape? On such a stormy night? I accept the responsibility for
him. You can undo his chains." The guard agreed. As he was busy unlocking the
chains, the host brought a bowl full of water for netilat yadayim. The guard
grumbled that his hands had been washed thoroughly by the rain and frantically
attacked his food. Naftali washed his hands, recited the berachah, and dried them
with the dry towel which was offered to him. He dipped his bread in salt and ate
graciously. The man looked at him compassionately and sighed. "Why was
chained up?" The guard's answer burst out of his mouth which was still busy
eating: "For rebelling against the government. He led a youth revolt and the
group of youngsters attacked an officer's carriage. He succeeded in seriously
wounding the officer before he was stopped. He is being escorted so he can stand
trial in the capital city." Despite all his effort, Naftali could not help but break out
in a smile. Throwing a small pebble during a throwing contest was suddenly
turned into leading an organized revolt. But the host did not share in Naftali's
laughter. "Rebellion, that is a very serious crime. After the meal you must chain
him up again so he does not escape!"
to be continued...
"Be As Careful With Light misvot As With Serious misvot"
"Suf Devash" is the important work by Rabbi Vidal Hassarfati zs"l, among the
great Jewish leaders of the west four hundred years ago. Commenting on our
parashah, he asks, why does the section after Matan Torah begin with the
"simple" laws involving monetary matters, rather than the more exalted laws of
sisit, tefillin, shofar, lulav, sukkah, massah, Shabbat and Yom Tov? He answers
based upon a beautiful story found in the Midrash. A merchant who dealt with
jewels went to the capital city where there lived the king, his officers, and the
aristocracy. He expected that they would buy his merchandise and he would
make a huge profit. Unfortunately, the road to the capital city passed through a
wilderness outside the city, and a gang of bandits blocked his way. "Stop! What

do you have with you?" He said, "Please, have compassion. I am a merchant who
deals in children's toys. I sell them for very cheap and just barely make a living."
They said one to another, "For a just a few coins we won't kill anybody." They left
him and he continued along his way. When he approached the city he sold a
diamond for a huge profit and bought with the money a magnificent store in the
center of town and his business began to flourish. The court supervisor and the
highest-ranking officials were among his regular customers. After some time,
those same bandits needed some food. They dressed up as respectable people
and came into the city. As they passed through the center of town, the beautiful
jewel-shop immediately caught their attention. Suddenly, they said one to
another, "Wait - don't we know that man?" They went inside and asked, "How
much does this stone cost?" He answered, "This one is worth twenty-thousand
gold coins, this one thirty-thousand." Their eyes popped out of their sockets. They
asked, "Didn't you tell us that all you carry are small items worth just a coin or
two?" He said, "Of course, my life was in danger and I had to save myself. But
now, if you don't give me the money I am asking I will not sell them to you!" They
looked at each other and said, "What a glorious treasure we had right in front of
us, and we let it slip." Similarly, says the Midrash, in this world we do not
appreciate the full value of the misvot. We trample on them with our feet.
However, in the World to Come, our eyes will be opened and we will see how
precious each misvah really is, that the whole world could not be worth even a
single misvah! Therefore, the Torah begins its discussion of misvot specifically
with the "simple" misvot, to teach us not to disregard the value of even the
"smallest" misvah. For each one of them is truly a gem, there is no value which
we can ascribe to it. Each one is a treasure of which the entire universe cannot
be worth even a fraction!
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Five Kinyanim (part III)
Abraham is a Kinyan because his ways and thoughts live on and are emulated
forever (Beresheet 18:19), and thereby the awareness of G-d is maintained in the
world. The people of Israel have furnished a multitude of righteous and wise men,
and their history has supplied so many lessons af G-d's providence, that by
studying the history of Israel and by contemplating them today one gains an
awareness of G-d. The Bet Hamikdash is a Kinyan; for when one views the house
where the Shechinah resides, and when he sees the Avodah performed in the
deepest awe by the Cohanim, he learns to fear G-d all his days. The Torah is the
first of these five, because it is the most effective teacher of the awareness of Gd, and because the Torah lends effectiveness to all the other Kinyanim. Included
in the Torah are the Misvot, of which the Shabbat is one of the most important.
The common denominator of these five is Deah.

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Terumah
In our parashah, Am Yisrael is commanded a misvah which involves sacrifice:
"They shall take for Me a donation." They were commanded to donate materials
for the construction of the mishkan, and Hazal commend them for their response:
"They were asked regarding the mishkan, and they responded." From where did
they get the gold, silver, and dyes? From the Egyptians. And how did they get
these treasures? After all, they were but downtrodden slaves in Egypt! Obviously,
the Al-mighty provided for them. We are told that every member of Benei Yisrael
had ninety camels carrying treasures. Now, six hundred thousand men, who
owned a total of about fifty-million donkeys carrying riches, are asked to
contribute to the construction of a single mishkan. So what is so flattering about
their generosity? Hazal tell us that precious jewels fell from the heavens together
with the mann. Each day, while they would collect tasty goods, they would also
help themselves to diamonds! And yet, Hazal compliment so highly the tribal
leaders who donated a handful of precious stones for the priestly garments.
Should we be so surprised? What about us? The Creator has graced us with such
good lives, Baruch Hashem, health and security, and yet, how many of us donate
an hour a day for Torah study? A Torah class which is, after all, for our own
benefit, to enhance our lives and increase our merit. Do we not take all our time

for ourselves? Let us take this message and remember - an hour a day for the
study of Torah!
Hazal write (Midrash in our parashah) that when Hashem instructed Moshe with
regard to the mishkan he said, "Master of the World, can Benei Yisrael make it?"
Hashem answered, "Even a single member of Yisrael can make it," as the pasuk
states, "From he whose heart moves him..." What exactly was Moshe asking, and
what was Hashem's answer? Moshe's question is easy to understand. After all, he
was familiar with all the secrets of the Torah in all its intricacies and subtleties.
Even the meaning behind the misvah of "parah adumah," which eluded Shelomo,
the wisest of all men, was revealed to Moshe. Furthermore, the mishkan and all
its accessories allude to many profound and deep concepts, to the very essence
of creation. Hazal have taught us this in their usual, subtle manner: "Above 'serafim' stand, and down below - sycamore wood stands." Every detail of the
mishkan alludes to a heavenly being, and for further discussion of this topic one
should read the commentary of the Malbim zs"l. However, the mishkan not only
symbolizes the upper world, but affects it as well. It intensifies their impact and
the blessing which flows forth from them. It is for good reason that we weep for
the darkness which has befallen us in the aftermath of the destruction of the Bet
Hamikdash and so desperately yearn for its rebuilding. On one hand, Moshe
erected the mishkan, and yet the pasuk states, "...the mishkan was erected,"
implying that it stood by itself. The Zohar explains, "The mishkan which Moshe
built in the desert to bring the shechinah down to this world - on that same day
another mishkan was erected as its parallel in the heavens and illuminated all the
worlds. The world was beautified, all the gates of light were opened, and there
was no greater joy than the joy of that day" (Zohar, vol. 2, 143a).
We can therefore understand very well Moshe's question: "Master of the World,
can Yisrael make it," can they really understand and have the proper intentions to
illuminate all the worlds? And what was the answer? "Even a single member of
Yisrael can make it." Each member of Benei Yisrael! But how can this be? We are
totally unfamiliar with the hidden areas of the Torah! But this is precisely the
power of the misvot. Do we really understand what is behind the concept of our
tefillin, about which it is said, "The Name of Hashem is called upon you"? They
are more sacred than the head-plate worn by the kohen gadol! Can we possibly
comprehend the impact they have in the upper worlds or what light they shed on
our souls? We have no idea, nor do we need to. It is like turning a switch to
activate nuclear power. One who turns the switch does not need to know how the
system operates. He didn't build it. He just has to do his job, and the rest will
happen automatically.
If the punishment for the desecration of Shabbat is so severe, "...its violator shall
surely die" - and we know that Hashem's attribute of reward far exceeds that of
punishment, then we cannot even imagine how much light we shine on the upper
worlds through our observance of Shabbat, by our very refraining from doing
"melachah" in accordance with the Al-mighty's command. The impact is so strong
that, we are told, if Benei Yisrael would observe just one Shabbat properly we
would be redeemed! Mashiah would come, a Bet Hamikdash of fire would
descend from the heavens, the Glory of Hashem would be revealed to the world,
we would all become prophets, we would enjoy boundless wealth and prosperity all the result of the observance of Shabbat! Now we can understand the comment
of the Gaon of Vilna zs"l: "Each moment at which a person blocks his mouth [from

speaking lashon hara or slander, or to be drawn into an argument] he merits the

hidden light which no angel or creature can possible imagine!"
This is the power of a misvah and the refraining from sin. They bring about the
illumination of the upper worlds and great reward, the merit of the hidden light.
What is our share in all this, what do we have to do? We just have to observe the
misvot and thereby merit this great treasure, worlds full of light.
What a great dividend from such relatively minimal effort! It is as if we are asked
to turn the switch so that money would start pouring into our bank accounts! And
this is a poor example, as all the wealth in the world cannot possibly equal the
reward of even a single misvah! "A wise man will take misvot," he will collect two
handfuls, and then more, and then even more.
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
One Who Recites a Blessing and Tastes - May He Speak?
One who recites any berachah may not interrupt until he tastes from the food for
which he recited the berachah. Even if after one recites a berachah he hears the
berachah of someone else, he may not recite, "amen," even if that berachah is
the same berachah as he, himself, had recited. Answering even amen would
constitute an interruption between the berachah and the eating. However, since
there are opinions otherwise, if one did inadvertently recite amen before eating,
he does not recite a new blessing, since we never recite a berachah when its
requirement is in doubt.
The authorities are in dispute regarding one who tastes his food after the
berachah but hears the berachah of another before he swallowed the food. On
one hand, perhaps the enjoyment of his mouth should be the determining factor,
and since his mouth did taste the food the berachah has been followed up by an
action and thus the individual should be allowed to speak. On the other hand, one
may argue that the enjoyment of his stomach determines, and since he has not
swallowed, the berachah has not been carried out, so-to-speak, and therefore
one may not speak until after he swallows.
Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a, in Yabia Omer vol. 5 (16) rules that the enjoyment of
one's stomach is the determining factor, and he demonstrates that this is the
view of many rishonim, including the Rambam. Therefore we should have
concluded one may not recite even amen before he swallows at least some of his
food. However, one may still argue that the taste in one's mouth is to be
considered the beginning stage of the enjoyment of one's stomach, and therefore
the berachah has already taken effect when one tastes, even before he swallows.
In fact, many aharonim write that this is the halachah. Furthermore, the author of
"Tal Orot" testifies that the general custom is to speak as soon as one tastes the
food. And nobody ever suggested that one who sucks a sucking candy may not
speak until he finishes the entire candy. Rather, the assumption seems to be that
the enjoyment in one's mouth is considered the beginning of the enjoyment of
one's stomach and, therefore, as soon as one tastes he may, strictly speaking,

Nevertheless, optimally one should certainly not engage in unnecessary talk until
he swallows that for which he recited the berachah, since this is the ruling of the
Shelah as well as many other aharonim. Only with regard to the recitation of
amen or other necessary recitations do we permit speaking before swallowing.
The Mishnah Berurah adds that ideally one should not speak at all until he eats a
complete "kezayit" (around 30 grams), but, strictly speaking, once one has
swallowed even a little bit he may speak. In summary, one may not speak at all,
even recite "amen," after reciting the berachah before he eats. Once he tastes
the food, even if he did not swallow, optimally he should not speak except
necessary speech such as the recitation of amen, since he already tasted.
Rabbi Misod Hakohen Hadaad zs"l
"In every generation they rise against us to destroy us, and the Al-mighty saves
us from their hands," especially during the month of Adar, about which Hazal
testified, "Its luck is powerful." Rabbi Moshe Hadaad zs"l tells that the mayor of
his town had his heart set against the Jews. He imprisoned the sons of the
respected Moshe Parinati on false accusations and demanded an enormous
ransom. At that time Rabbi Misod Hakohen Hadaad zs"l, a representative of
Yeshivat Bet-El, came to the town to raise funds for the maintenance of the
yeshivah. Rabbi Moshe, who told this story, escorted him as he went to the
homes of various wealthy members of the community. When they came into the
Parinati home they encountered a severe, depressed aura. The family spoke
about the current crisis and expressed their desire to achieve salvation through
the merit of supporting Torah scholars in Eres Yisrael: "We have heard of the
great rabbi that he works miracles. Please, will he beseech the Al-mighty that he
save us from this crisis and remove this wicked mayor from our town." The man
then broke out in tears.
The rabbi engaged in quiet thought and then said, "Let your heart rest assured in
Hashem. In another three days the mayor will be gone." "Amen," answered the
man emphatically. Three days later a telegram came from the capital that the
mayor was to immediately appear in the capital city. The town was amazed by
the miracle! So may Hashem help us defeat all our enemies, and may all the
salvation which we have experienced, such as the miracle of Purim, bring us to
the ultimate redemption - "In Nissan we will ultimately be redeemed"!
"They shall make for Me a sanctuary"
The Ramban zs"l, in his introduction to the book of Shemot, writes that the
Exodus from Egypt itself did not free the nation, nor was it the complete
redemption, as there is no difference between a slave of Pharaoh and a slave to
his inclinations. However, "When they came to Har Sinai and constructed the
mishkan, and the Al-mighty had His Shechinah reside among them, then they
reached the level of their forefathers, and only then were they considered
redeemed." This is true on both the individual and national levels: independence
by itself does not mean freedom if it is not accompanied by a strive toward the
level of the patriarchs!
"Everyone whose heart moves him"

The Bet Yosef zs"l explains that not everybody's donation was accepted for the
building of the mishkan. Contributions were taken only from those whose hearts
moved them, who gave willingly and fervently. How were they to know who gave
willingly and who didn't? Those who gave without being pressured, who came by
their own initiative and demanded from the collectors to take their donations,
they were the ones who gave willingly. Indeed, this was the response of Benei
Yisrael: "Everyone who had [wealth] with him brought," by their own initiative
and their own spirit of giving.
"From every person"
The word, "ish" (person) in this pasuk seems superfluous. The pasuk could have
simply written, "From everyone whose heart moves him." Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai
(Zohar) explains, "From every person - one who overcomes his evil inclination, he
is considered a person." The message is so powerful. One whose inclinations
control him, who cannot suppress his desires, is an animal, not a person. A
person is one who controls his instincts, who can withstand his inclinations, as
the pasuk states, "You shall be strong - and be a person!"
The Marten
The marten is a small animal of prey from the mammal family. It has a long,
extended body, short legs and a long, hairy tail. It feeds of mice and birds, but its
main battles take place against snakes. Despite the fact that the marten is no
bigger than a cat, it can fearlessly take on a cobra even though cobras can be as
large as six feet. After it defeats the cobra with great zeal, which is one of this
animal's defining characteristics, it sits quietly and eats the snake in its entirety,
including its head and venom. Should the snake try to bite it the marten slips
away with amazing haste and waits until the snake relaxes and lies down on the
ground. The marten then once again approaches the snake, pounces on it, and
digs its teeth into the snake's head, delivering the fatal blow.
From this animal we learn the important quality of zeal in the service of Hashem,
in the performance of misvot and acts of kindness.
A person who acquires for himself this attribute merits the ability to fight against
the evil inclination which is likened to a snake. The yesser hara tries to effect the
person, and he, with his great zeal, can defeat the enemy.
The Repaid Debt (6)
Flashback: The young Naftali, who, during a game, injured the officer who was
riding in his carriage, was sent to the capital city to stand trial. On the way, he
and the guard got lost during a torrential rainstorm. They came upon a small
village and were staying with a local Jew. After the meal, the host urged the guard
to put the chains back on the prisoner.
Naftali could not believe his ears, but the host repeated, "An accusation of
treason is no small matter." The guard enthusiastically agreed, and soon enough

the chains snapped and locked around the boy's hands. Naftali looked at the host
with obvious disappointment and noticed the wink of his eye which was obviously
intended for him as the guard was busy with the chains. He felt calm. He still did
not understand what the host had in mind, if he was afraid that he would escape,
that he himself would be accused of helping the boy, or if he was planning to
save him. He did not understand, and he was outright exhausted. His fatigue
clouded his thought process. In any event, the wink confirmed that the man is not
mean-spirited, and he is sensitive and feels the boy's suffering. This alone was
enough to comfort him. "It is late," said the host, "and tomorrow you two have a
long road ahead of you. You should take advantage of all daylight hours
tomorrow. I will make your beds so that you can rest after such a difficult
journey." The beds were wooden boards with cloths spread out to soften the hard
surface. But this did not disturb the weary guests one bit. Just as the final words
of "keriat shema al hamitah" were on his lips, Naftali fell into a deep sleep.
When he opened is eyes, his entire body ached. The room was cold and the wind
knocked against the windows. The host sat by the table and learned by
candlelight. Did he not go to sleep or did he wake up early? His voice was quiet
and serene. Naftali paid close attention - he remembered the "sugya" very well...
to be continued...
Who Can Build the Bet Hamikdash?
There is a well-known story of the Ar"i who, while walking with his students to the
field to greet Shabbat, asked if they would go with him to Yerushalayim. They
were a bit hesitant and asked if they could go ask their wives and tell them that
they are leaving. He responded, "Too bad, there was a moment for great potential
which has been lost. If only you would have agreed to come immediately, the
redemption would have come!" They would have been spared the devastation of
the Chmielnicki uprising, two world wars, all the rivers of blood, the terrible pain
and suffering, the widows and orphans, the anguish and despair. But the chance
was gone. But, what can be done? The students didn't know. Imagine if they
would have known and would have missed the opportunity out of pure apathy.
How harshly would we have condemned them!
Truth be told, there are many such people around today. The Gemara states, "The
school-children are not disrupted [from their studies] even for the building of the
Bet Hamikdash" (Shabbat 119b). A youngster educated with Torah education
builds the Bet Hamikdash in his heart, he constructs his inner, spiritual world, and
one is forbidden to interrupt him, even for the sake of the Bet Hamikdash, the
place of residence for the Shechinah. Why? Because the establishment of the
Shechinah in the youngster's heart and his identification with our ancestral
heritage are far more important for us. What shall be said, then, about parents
who are deciding where to register their children for schooling, knowing full well
that the child's future is at stake. He will either be educated along the ways of
our belief or taught to scorn all that is sacred, Heaven forbid. With which crowd
will he become friends, from which teachers will he learn, what curriculum will he
study and in what type of environment. These parents stand at a crossroads: to
build in the hearts of their precious children a golden link in our historic chain, to
build within them a Bet Hamikdash, or, by contrast, to build a pub. What can be
said about such parents who, because of insignificant concerns, or out of pure

apathy, decide upon the second choice? What can they tell themselves? How will
they explain this to themselves years down the road when they see the results of
the education and they suddenly realize that this could have been avoided so
easily, by having sent their children to Torah institutions! What can we say about
them - they could have redeemed their children, but they missed their chance.
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Shabbat and love of Israel (part I)
Aaron: Therefore Deah is everything.
Mr.Goodfriend: It is this that makes one close to G-d. "If this he has, he has
everything; if this he lacks, what does he have?" (Nedarim 41b). He has no
Mikdash or Shabbat.
Aaron: Sir, hitherto you have stressed the Shabbat as a time for reflection on the
Creation of the Universe and on the endless wisdom and kindliness of the Creator.
But in the verses which you quoted, two kinds of signs (Ot) are mentioned: 1) "A
sign between Me and you for all your generationsto know that I the L-rd make
you holy, and 2) "A sign forever that six days the L-rd made the heavens and the
Mr. Goodfriend: Well said. This brongs us to a great subject: The love of the
people of Israel as one of the forms of the love of G-d. He who loves the nation of
the Jews thereby approaches near to the Creator. The Shabbat is a sign whereby
1) the Creator reminds us of the Creation and 2) of His love for Israel, and we
demonstrate by means of the 39 abstentions 1) that He is the Creator and 2) that
He has elected Israel.

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Tesaveh
Moshe's name appears nowhere throughout Parashat Tesaveh, somewhat in
fulfillment of his request, "If You forgive their sin fine; otherwise, erase me from
Your book which You have written." This request underscores the selfless
commitment which the great shepherd of Israel demonstrated towards his flock.
It was Moshe himself who coined the expression, "Let a thousand 'Moshe's die
rather than the fingernail of even a single individual from Yisrael be injured."
This week we celebrate the holiday of Purim which also stresses the unwavering
devotion of our leaders. We will read of Mordechai's impassioned plea that Esther
approach the king uninvited, despite the fact that "...every man or woman who
comes to the king unscheduled is put to death regardless of his religion, except
for those for whom the king waves his golden scepter, who lives." Esther put her
own life in danger and, with the Al-mighty's help, she succeeded in saving her
people from annihilation.
However, we must remember, that just as Moshe, Mordechai and Esther led their
followers and were prepared to sacrifice their lives for their people, so is each
parent, each father and mother, the leaders of their families and must devote
themselves entirely to their flock. The children rely on them, and it is their
obligation to make sacrifices for the welfare of the children, for the sake of their
education. Many parents choose to enroll their children in lower quality school
systems, schools with less of a focus on Torah, for reasons of convenience,
because the school is closer to the house and other such considerations.
These parents must weigh his decision very carefully. Are they not hurting their
own children? Are they not turning away from the path established by the leaders
of our nation throughout the generations who endured all types of difficulty for
the sake of their people? The first responsibility of parents is to provide for their
children the best possible education, an education of the highest Torah quality.

More so than any other holiday, Purim is a festival for the children. They are
dressed in costumes, they parade around with excitement, they are armed with
their noise-makers ready to drown out the name of Haman, they carry the
mishloah manot to different friends, they are the busiest ones on the day of
Purim. And for good reason. They played a critical role in the miracle of Purim.
They, too, were part of Haman's decree of annihilation. When the decree was
issued, we are told, Mordechai assembled thousands of children, prayed with
them for the annulment of the decree and studied Torah with them. The purity of
their speech, and their words of Torah, ascended to the heavens and defeated the
heavenly prosecutor. It was the children who carried the banner of, "They fulfilled
and accepted," the banner of the unconditional acceptance of the Torah with
extra fervor and zeal.
However, the question must be asked: why were they included in the decree to
begin with? What was their sin?
The Gemara records, "Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai's students asked him, 'Why was
the decree issued against the Jews of that generation?'
"He answered, 'You tell me.'
"They responded, 'Because they took part in the feast of Ahashverosh.'
"He said to them, 'So only the Jews of Shushan should have been [decreed to be]
killed. Why would the Jews of the other regions be killed?'
"They said, 'You tell us.'
"He answered, 'Because they bowed down to an image during the time of
Nevuchadnessar.'" He continued to explain that since they prostrated themselves
before the image only out of coercion, their repentance was effective in nullifying
the decree. In any event, both reasons for the decree against the Jews did not
apply to the children. The feast of Ahashverosh occurred nine years earlier, and
the incident of the image took place during the time of Nevuchadnessar, dozens
of years earlier. After Nevuchadnessar, ruled Evel Merodach. Then Belshassar
ruled, after him Koresh, then Daryavesh, and only then came Ahashverosh. In
fact, the majority of the people against whom the decree was issued were not yet
born at the time when the Jews bowed down to the image!
The answer lies in a pasuk in the Megilah. Mordechai pressures Esther to
endanger her life by appearing before the king without having been invited, a
crime punishable by death under normal circumstances. Mordechai explained to
Esther, "For if you are silent at this time, deliverance and salvation will surface for
the Jews through some other means, and you and your family will be destroyed.
And who knows if specifically for this moment you have reached royalty?"
What was Mordechai's point? How did this justify his insistence on her
endangering her life by appearing before the king? Hazal explain (in "Targum
Sheni") that Mordechai was telling Esther, do not think that you can escape the
decree which was issued against the rest of the Jews. It was your ancestor, Shaul,
who caused this entire crisis. For if he had fulfilled the command of the prophet,
Shemuel, and destroyed all of Amalek, Haman would never have emerged. If
Shaul would have killed Agag, the king of Amalek, when he was supposed to,
Haman would never have been born and we would not be subject to his decrees.

And who knows if you reached royalty only because the sins of your family have
finally been repaid?
In this passage, a critical lesson is taught, a corner-stone of the operation of the
world. Everybody has a job to fulfill, each soul has a destiny and purpose. Shaul,
the first king of Benei Yisrael, was to eradicate evil from the world, to destroy
Amalek. He fulfilled his task, only insufficiently. He allowed the Amalekite king to
live, and Agag was not killed until the following day, by Shemuel. The night in
between, Agag ensured the continuity of his wicked heritage which yielded fruits
of evil for many generations to come, in the form of his descendant, Haman.
Shaul thus failed in his mission. But the critical point is that when somebody falls
short of the complete fulfillment of his task, this is not the end. The responsibility
falls onto the shoulders of his progeny. During the time of Haman, Mordechai and
Esther, descendants of King Shaul, were chosen to complete his work. "And who
knows if specifically for this moment you have reached royalty?"
This also answers our question. If one generation or several generations earlier
the Jews failed the test of faith and partook of the feast of Ahashverosh, then the
responsibility of correcting this error falls onto their children's shoulders. The
children, too, were included in the decree. They were assembled in the Bet
Midrash of Mordechai, they prayed together with him, and they learned Torah
from his mouth. Their cries penetrated the heavens together with their pure,
innocent faith. The sin was corrected and the decree was annulled.
It is understandable, then, why the children are such a focal point on Purim. They
are our future and hope, and through them the mistakes and errors of past
generations will be corrected.
This message relates ever so strongly to us, in our generation. Past generations
have faltered and stumbled. They have detached themselves from the chain of
our heritage, and who knows how the prosecution against us in the heavenly
court works against us. Our teshuvah must involve the commitment to instill pure
Torah education within our youth, by increasing our Torah youth programs and
enrolling our children in Torah institutions, so that the next generation will restore
the glory of Torah to its rightful place. ASKING AND EXPOUNDING
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
The Laws of the Reading of the Megilah and the Half-Shekel
1) A person is obligated to read the Megilah both at night as well as Purim day.
The nighttime reading may be done throughout the night until daybreak, and the
daytime reading may be done throughout the day, from sunrise to sunset. 2)
Both men and women are obligated in the reading of the Megilah. Children should
be educated by coming to hear the reading even though they are not obligated to
do so. One who reads the Megilah for women recites the berachot just like the
one who reads in the synagogue.
3) A minor may not fulfill the obligation for adults by reading for them.
Furthermore, the "gabbai" in the synagogue is responsible for ensuring that the
children who make noise when Haman's name is recited do not undermine the

sanctity of the Bet Kenesset or disturb others form hearing every word of the
Megilah, which is necessary for the fulfillment of the misvah.
4) It is forbidden to eat prior to Megilah reading, regarding both the nighttime
and daytime readings. Therefore, women who do not attend the synagogue
should make sure not to eat until their husbands come home and read the
Megilah for them. However, one may eat some fruit or less than a "kebeissah" of
cake and drink tea or coffee prior to the reading. Nevertheless, one who is
stringent in this regard and does not eat anything will be deserving of blessing.
5) Some communities have the custom to collect a commemorative "half-shekel"
prior to Megilah reading, so that anyone who did not contribute to the fund before
Purim will contribute before Megilah reading. One should be careful not to refer to
this donation as "Mahassit Hashekel" (half-shekel), rather, "Zecher leMahassit
Hashekel," only a commemoration of the misvah of half-shekel which was
obligatory during the time of the Bet Hamikdash. One must give an amount
equivalent to the value of nine grams of silver(which today equals about ten
shekalim in Israel). Preferably, one should give three metal coins to recall the fact
that in the discussion of this misvah in Parashat Ki Tisa the Torah employs the
term, "terumah laHashem" (a donation to God) three times. Women, too, should
give mahassit hashekel. Although generally only those of twenty years of age and
older are obligated in this misvah, some authorities rule that anybody over the
age of bar misvah should give, and one should preferably follow that view.
Furthermore, it is preferable to give on behalf of one's small children, as well.
The revenue from this fund should be allocated for Torah institutions and yeshivot
which produce Torah scholars for, as we are told, once the Bet Hamikdash was
destroyed Hashem resides within the study of halachah.
6) One should wear Yom Tov clothing on Purim night, and "al hanisim" is inserted
in Amidah, even though the Megilah has not been read.
The Hid"a zs"l
On Monday, 11 Adar, we will commemorate the anniversary of the passing of the
Hid"a zs"l, Rabbi Hayim Yosef David Azulai. He was a brilliant scholar of both the
revealed and hidden areas of Torah, and he amassed a comprehensive knowledge
of all realms of Torah scholarship - Talmud, halachah, Midrash, and Kabbalah. He
was like a fountain, continuously rising in his Torah knowledge, and composed
dozens of important works in all areas of Torah. His humility and modesty were
remarkable, and he was greatly disturbed by the honor which was constantly
bestowed upon him as he traveled on behalf of the communities of Hevron and
Yerushalayim. Wherever he would go, people would purchase the honor of having
the great rabbi stay with them by giving money to the poor of Eress Yisrael.
Once, he ate at the home of a certain prominent man and was invited to sleep at
a different house. As he arrived in the second house, he remembered that he had
left his box of tobacco, which he would smell regularly as did many people in
those days, back in the first home. He returned to the first house to retrieve the
box. Upon his return to his host his mind was very troubled. He could not sleep all
night, and in the morning he asked to assemble the entire community in the
synagogue so that he could speak with them. The people gathered in the
synagogue wondering what had happened. The Hid"a went to the pulpit and

declared emotionally, "My friends, for so long I have complained that you grant
me undeserved honor, but you did not believe that I do not deserve the honor.
Now I can prove it. Imagine, that out of my desire to smell tobacco I walked all
the way back to my first host to retrieve my box which I had forgotten. Woe unto
a person whose wants control him - is he any greater than an animal? Therefore,
you see clearly how undeserving I am of your honor, and you have been making
a mistake. In order that my teshuvah be complete, I publicly take upon myself as
a 'neder' never to smell tobacco forever, and Hashem should forgive me!"
Needless to say, they paid no attention to his pleas that they stop honoring him,
and the inspiring assembly glorified him in their eyes all the more so.
The Hid"a passed away on 11 Adar, 5567, and he is buried on Har Hamenuhot in
"It shall be when Hashem allows you to rest from all your enemies"
During the period of Yehoshua, the time was not yet right for the destruction of
Amalek, and only Shaul was instructed to complete this mission. He did not
complete his task fully, and King David, who ruled after Shaul, appointed Yoav to
once and for all complete the job. Yoav spent six months in Edom but,
unfortunately, he killed only the males. He made this mistake because when he
was still a schoolchild, his teacher had erroneously read the pasuk, "Timheh et
ZECHAR Amalek" - "Eradicate the males of Amalek" - instead of "ZECHER
Amalek" - "...the memory of Amalek." The author of "Bechor Yaakov" zs"l notes
that this, too, is alluded to in the Torah, as the first letters of the first words of the
pasuk, "It shall be when Hashem allows you to rest from all you enemies around
you, eradicate the memory of Amalek" spell, "Yoav."
"On the way as you left Egypt"
Rabbi Hayim Meshash zs"l of Mekans, in his work, "Nishmat Hayim," asks, why is
the entire section about the misvah to eradicate the memory of Amalek written in
singular form with the exception of this phrase - "Baderech be'setchem
mimisrayim" - "On the way as you left Egypt" - which is written in the plural form?
He explains that the Torah stresses that when Benei Yisrael arrived at Har Sinai to
receive the Torah, immediately after their battle with Amalek, they encamped like
a single person, with a single heart. The implication is that prior to their
encampment they were divided, they were not united. Therefore, this phrase is
written in the plural, emphasizing that Amalek can successfully launch a
campaign against us only when we are not together. Esther's instructions to
Mordechai, "Go, gather all the Jews together" is the guarantee for our victory over
"Do not forget"
Why does the Torah command us, "Do not forget" specifically with regard to this
misvah, that of the eradication of Amalek? Rabbi Mekikass Sheli zs"l, of the great
leaders of Djerba, explains that Yehoshua fought against Amalek before the time
for Amalek's extinction had arrived. Therefore, he was successful only in
weakening them. The Torah therefore commanded that later in history Benei
Yisrael would have to eradicate Amalek completely. It stresses, therefore, "Lo
tishkah" (Do not forget), since the letters of "tishkah" may be read, "tash koah,"

weakness, implying that we should not be content with the weakening of Amalek,
and with the effects of Yehoshua's battles against them.
"El Nino"
In the beginning of the winter, all the newspapers, including the religious ones,
warned that a harsh winter was in store for us due to vicissitudes of streams and
winds over the Atlantic Ocean. It was predicted that they would cause strong,
powerful storms, extreme cold and snows. This year's phenomenon was
compared to other such cases in years past and it was expected that the effects
this year would be far more harsh than in previous years. It seems that with
Hashem's help we passed this winter peacefully and it was no worse than any
other. There were storms in America, heavy snows in Europe, but the Kinneret in
Israel did not flood its banks, and nothing unusual occurred in Israel this winter. If
the scientists disappointed us, this is certainly not the first time. However, the
question still needs to be asked, is it at all possible to predict how rainy the
season will be? After all, as the Gemara states in the beginning of Masechet
Ta'anit, the key to rains lies strictly in the hands of the Al-mighty Himself. Thus,
did the religious newspapers act properly by publishing the threatening
The answer is, yes. In Masechet Shabbat (75) we are taught that all scientific
wisdom is alluded to by the Torah, and thus our scholars can foresee ahead of
time how rainy the winter will be. When their words are confirmed, the other
nations will recognize the great wisdom of the Torah and the Name of Hashem
will be publicly sanctified. Thus, it is possible to know ahead of time if the season
will be dry or rainy.
But isn't the key to rain in the hands of the Al-mighty and nobody else? Of course,
and our discussion poses no contradiction to this principle. The Gemara writes
that even when it is decreed that it will rain, the waters can fall over the sea or
desert, or they can be lost. Alternatively, they can fall over the areas which need
it desperately.
As an Israeli meteorologist once said, we can see the cloud cover approaching
our country, we can calculate when it will arrive, we can predict the temperature,
and everything - except one thing: will the clouds rain over us, will they unload
their waters over the sea, or will they continue to the Kingdom of Jordan.
The Repaid Debt (7)
Flashback: The young Naftali, who, during a game, threw a rock and injured an
official, was imprisoned. He was brought for trial in the capital city, but he and his
guard got lost on the way during a torrential rainstorm. They found refuge in a
Jewish home, and early in the morning Naftali woke up to the sound of his host
Naftali lay silently, his eyes closed, listening intently to the sweet sound of Torah
study, to the pleasant melody which he had not heard in so long. Suddenly, he
opened his eyes and cried in a whisper, "No! No!"

The host lifted his eyes from the large book which he was reading and said
calmly, "You must have dreamt a bad dream. Go back to sleep." "No," whispered
Naftali passionately, "My dear host has made a mistake in the understanding of
the 'sugya'!" "Really," he responded, "what mistake?" "I cannot say," answered
Naftali, "as I have not yet washed my hands or recited birkat haTorah."
The host immediately got up and brought a bowl of water for Naftali. The sound
of the splashing water did not disturb the guard who was still sleeping deeply. Not
even the banging of the metal chains against each other stirred the guard from
his slumber. Naftali got up and approached the table. He recited birkat haTorah
and began speaking. He began by learning the sugya according to the way the
host had learned it. He cited the Gemara by heart and lead the sugya to a dead
end. "Not to mention that this approach to the sugya raises several other
problems," he said quietly, so as not to wake up the guard.
The host was astounded. "So, what is the explanation?"
Naftali offered his explanation and the sugya was developed beautifully, as
everything fell into place. The host's eyes sparkled. "Already from the outset I
had planned to keep you here," he said, "but now - my decision is final. A Torah
scholar has come into my quarters, and the Gemara says that after a talmid
hacham comes blessing! Now, quickly go lie down so that the guard does not see
us conversing in a foreign language. He will think we are planning something and
his suspicion will be aroused. I want him to think that I am on his side. That is
why I told him to lock you in the chains."
to be continued...
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Shabbat and Love of Israel (part II)
Aaron: From where do you derive that the love of Israel is a form of love of G-d?
mr. goodfriend: When Pharaoh's host was drownedd in the sea, Moses and Israel
sang: "In the greatness of Your majesty You overthrew those that rose up against
You" (Shemot 15:7). Pharaoh dod not rise up against the Creator, but against
Israel. Yet, this is declared as an uprising against G-d, "for whoever rises up
against Israel is considered as if he rose up against the Holy One" (Mechilta,

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Ki Tisa
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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Ki Tisa
"Thirty days before the festival we ask and expound regarding the halachot of the
festival." The laws of Pesah are particularly complex and intricate and their study
should begin on Purim. The Hid"a zs"l, in several places, cites his grandfather,
Rabbi Avraham Azulai zs"l, who commented that thirty days before Pesah the Almighty begins taking the souls of Benei Yisrael from the halls of impurity where
they have been residing. One-thirtieth of the process occurs each of these thirty
days, so that on Erev Pesah the souls are removed completely. For this reasons,
the sacred books teach us that the ultimate eradication of Amalek takes place on
Erev Pesah. On the night of the seder, we will therefore sit with sanctity and
purity. This is perhaps the meaning of the Haggadah when it says, "In every
generation a person must see himself as if he himself left Egypt." Every year we,
ourselves, leave the prison of impurity and enter a state of purity, we are freed
from the bondage of the evil inclination and become free men.
Thus, these days are particularly conducive for more intensified kedushah,
repentance, and an increase in our Torah study. We must properly take advantage
of this period of purification so that we can absorb the power of the night of seder
and the entire festival of Pesah. With this charge we will then be able to continue
growing throughout the days of Sefirat Haomer, reaching Shavuot in a state
suitable for the acceptance of the Torah.

This message is particularly critical for yeshivah students. Do not allow the final
days before Pesah break to become a time of laxity or fatigue. These are sacred
days, whose power and potential must be brought to fruition!
The story is told of a king with a single son, the heir to the throne. The prince was
the king's pride and joy, everything he lived and hoped for. He looked very
carefully after the growth and development of his son throughout his childhood.
When the time came for the child's education, the king said to one of his closest
advisors, "I want to hire the most experienced educators to develop a special
curriculum for my son. He will need a lot of knowledge, he will have to learn
proper behavior and protocol, and will need proficiency in various languages and
cultures. In the general educational system he will not receive this special
training." The king's advisor respectfully kneeled before the monarch and said,
"As you wish, my king. I have but one question to ask. Once the best educators
are coming into the palace to teach the prince, why should he sit and learn by
himself? The palace supervisor has a son the same age. Why not he join the
prince so that he, too, may acquire valuable knowledge and expand his
The king was very distressed by the proposal. The palace supervisor was a
talented general, gifted and accomplished, but not a member of the nobility. His
manners were not those of the royal family. The king would not want such a boy
as a friend for his dear son. But, he did not object and said, "As you wish, but
remember that I am entrusting with you the education of my son, my precious
treasure, the future of the kingdom!" The advisor's intentions were certainly
sincere - he wished to allow for another youngster to receive an enriched
education. Why shouldn't the supervisor's son join the prince in his studies? To
the contrary, it would be boring for the prince to sit by himself. Surely he would
need the friendship and company of another boy his age. But, tragically, the
king's worst fears came true in the most severe fashion. The supervisor's son
was, indeed, influenced by the brash conduct of his parents, by his older brothers
and their friends, from their frightening stories of crime and gluttonous partying.
These incidents sparked the prince's imagination far more effectively than any of
his classes in the palace. He would listen to the stories with his curiosity peaked,
and in his free time he would roam the streets, looking for the boys on the street
his age whose world had caught his attention. One day, the king's advisor was
called to the palace. The king handed to him a detailed description of an intense
curriculum for his son, carefully designed to ensure that the prince would receive
the best training and acquire the knowledge necessary for his future of royalty. As
they were talking, the chief of police appeared in the doorway. The placid look on
his face stood in sharp contrast to the devastating news he brought. "What is it?"
asked the king. The chief approached the throne, kneeled and whispered into the
king's ears. The king's face turned white.
The chief of police kneeled and silently left the room. The king turned to his
advisor and said, "Remember how you suggested that the supervisor's son study
together with my son?" "Yes," answered the advisor, already sensing trouble.
"Well, he was arrested tonight for stealing," continued the king. At this point the
advisor's face, too, turned white. But the king was not finished: "That is not all he persuaded my son to participate. They were both caught." The advisor's eyes
darkened. The story was told as a parable by Rabbi Moshe Alshich zs"l in his

commentary to our parashah, in the context of the sin of the golden calf. The king
in the story represents the King of Kings, and the prince is the Nation of Israel,
the children of the Al-mighty. The advanced education, obviously, symbolizes the
Torah and its beautiful misvot. The son of the palace supervisor is the "erev rav,"
the other nations which Moshe, the close advisor to the King, asked Hashem to
include in Yessiat Misrayim. It was they who brought out of Egypt the idolatrous
culture which was ingrained in their heritage, and it was they who introduced
these practices to Benei Yisrael. The Al-mighty said to Moshe, "Go down, for your
nation which you brought out of Egypt has become corrupt," referring to the erev
rav which Moshe had insisted on taking out of Egypt. "They made a metal calf,
and they bowed down to it and sacrificed to it." But this is not all - "They
declared, 'This is your god, Israel!'" They dragged My son with them, telling them
that this is their god. This cannot be forgiven!
This story occurred some thirty-three hundred years ago, but its destructive
results affect us to this very day. Hazal tell us that no calamity befalls Am Yisrael
which does not involve some form of punishment for the sin of the golden calf. All
this has transpired because of a bad "hevrah," a corrupt influence on our people.
Around this time of year, parents begin the process of registering their children
for the upcoming academic year. Our children are our most precious treasures.
We know that in the Torah educational systems they will receive the best
education, including a superior secular education as well as religious education
which connects them to our rich, ancestral heritage of Jewish learning and
tradition. Moreover, parents must consider the influence of the crowd in which
their children will interact. The religious schools are those without the knives and
fist fights, without foul language, physical violence among the students, and
other phenomena all too common in other schools. For this reason alone, Torah
education is the better choice!

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei
This Shabbat, we read as our maftir reading the section dealing with the "parah
adumah" (red heifer). Why? Because during the time of the Bet Hamikdash,
everybody was required to travel to Yerushalayim and offer korbanot. Since
sacrifices may not be offered when one is "tam'e," everybody would have to
become "tahor" prior to the onset of Pesah. Therefore, the laws of tum'ah and
taharah were reviewed each year before Pesah, in fulfillment of the dictum, "You
shall keep Benei Yisrael away from their impurity." If the Mashiah arrives in the
coming days and the Bet Hamikdash of fire would descend from the heavens, we
would be obligated to become tahor in anticipation of the sacrificing of the
korban Pesah. If Mashiah arrives too close to Pesah to allow for purification before
Pesah, then we will employ the principle that sacrifices may be offered when the
nation as a whole is tam'e, and the korban will be offered even though we are
In any event, as long as we do not have the Bet Hamikdash, the laws of "tum'ah"
and "taharah" affect us in only two areas. First is the outright prohibition to
ascend the Temple Mount in Yerushalayim. So long as we are tam'e, we may not
step foot upon the holy site. The second area involves the laws of family purity,
about which the Zohar says there is no impurity like it, and the tum'ah leaves
only through immersion in a halachically-acceptable mikvah. Neglect of these
laws adds strength to the forces of impurity and fuels the prosecution against us
in the Heavenly Court, G-d forbid. We can only imagine how many tragedies
result from this prosecution, how it threatens the stability of the couple, and how
success and happiness are withheld on its account. Therefore, on this Shabbat,
which is designated as a time for increased awareness of issues of purity, let us
reinforce our commitment to the observance of family purity in all its detail.
Generally, when we are asked, "How are you doing?" we respond, "Baruch
Hashem." We live, put food on the table, purchase homes and clothing, and enjoy
the love of our families. If we are asked if there is more that we want, we would
answer, for sure there is more. Goodness has no limits, be it wealth, health, or
general contentment. We can only pray that Hashem fulfills all our wishes.
However, the main point is missed. In the work, "Sha'arei Armon," a parable is

told of a wealthy, successful merchant who provided for his family an impressive,
high standard of living until he came upon hard times. He lost a huge fortune in
bad investments.
His wife suggested, "Look, you have come upon hard times and hit hard luck.
Don't start another business - we can live off our savings." He listened to his wife
and stayed at home. The family lived off the money they had saved until that,
too, was gone. His wife asked, "How long will this continue? For how much longer
will you just sit around with your arms folded?" "What can I do?" he asked. "I was
ready to invest, to open a business, but you told me to stay home. I listened to
you and I stayed here. If you want me to go, I will listen to you and go. However,
if I would have gone earlier, I could have taken with me our savings to help start
an enterprise.
Now, that everything is finished, how can I go make money with nothing?" His
wife answered, "To the contrary! If you would have gone then, you would have
lost it all since you had hit bad luck. Now your luck is back and will shine. I have
some precious jewelry - an expensive ring, earrings, a necklace, and bracelets.
They can be used as collateral and we can get money for you to begin your new
business affairs." Being a good husband, the merchant agreed. She pawned her
jewelry, gave him the money, and warned him a thousand times over, "Be
careful! Do not lose this money! Do not be lured to invest in a risky business
venture. If you lose this money, we have nothing left. This is our final hope."
Once again, the merchant listened to his wife and saw the fulfillment of Hazal's
dictum, "Honor your wives and become rich." He purchased some merchandise
and returned to his city. He sold his goods for a large profit and went back to the
market. He bought even more commodities, returned to the city, and once again
sold his merchandise for a profit. The smiles gradually settled once again into the
household, and the family's standard of living was restored to what it had been.
When the time came to calculate his assets, the merchant sat and went through
his dealings. He returned home with his face beaming with joy. "Why are you so
happy?" asked his wife. He answered, "Just a short while ago we had nothing even our savings had been used. Now, Baruch Hashem, we have returned to our
previous lifestyle, we are living comfortably and my stores are filled with more
merchandise. And yet, the principal money is still intact, and I can open another
store. I am therefore ever so grateful for my success!" Upon hearing her
husband's words, the woman broke out in tears.
She moaned, "How can you rejoice? Did you forget that my jewelry is still pawned
- the bracelets, the rings, the earrings and the necklace? I removed my jewelry
and they are still gone, yet you rejoice. Have you forgotten about redeeming
them?" The smile was torn off the man's face. How did he forget her sacrifice for
the sake of his business, how did he forget about her jewelry? Similarly, we used
to enjoy both material and spiritual success. We had prophets, the Sanhedrin,
kohanim and levi'im serving in the Bet Hamikdash. All this has been lost on
account of our misdeeds. When the Al-mighty saw our suffering, He removed, as
it were, His jewelry, and pawned it for us: "These are the countings of the
mishkan, the mishkan of testimony." Hazal understood the repetition of the word,
"mishkan" as referring to the two Batei Mikdash which were offered as collateral
(the word "mishkan" is related to the word, "mashkon," collateral) on account of
our sins. Hashem vented His anger on the physical structure of the Bet
Hamikdash in order to allow us to continue to exist as a nation. We have been
through a long, difficult exile. Now, in our times, the light of success is shining.

Blessed is Hashem Who has not withheld bread and clothing from us, nor will He.
When we review our assets and put forth our requests to our Father in Heaven,
we generally ask for just our basic necessities. We often do the same regarding
our spiritual needs. As long as we prayed, we studied Torah, and we fulfilled the
misvot - we are happy and content with our lot, and we offer our thanks. But we
forget that we have yet to redeem the collateral. The Bet Hamikdash is still
Therefore, on this Shabbat, on which we read Parashat Pekudei Hamishkan, the
Shabbat on which we bless the month of Nissan, let us look towards the
redemption - "In Nissan they were redeemed; in Nissan they will be redeemed!"

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Vayikra


This Shabbat marks Rosh Hodesh Nissan, the first of the month in which Benei
Yisrael were redeemed and will be redeemed in the future. This is the month in
which the mishkan was consecrated and in which the Bet Hamikdash will be
rebuilt, speedily and in our days. Starting on Rosh Hodesh, the nesi'im (tribal
leaders) of Yisrael began offering their special sacrifices, each one on his specific
day. The entire nation (the members of these tribes,) refrains from saying
"tahanun" throughout this period. Why? Because the sacrifices of the nesi'im
symbolize absolute unity. Each nasi offered the exact same sacrifice as each of
his colleagues, and not one of them tried to outdo the other. This unity was so
powerful that despite the fact that each sacrifice was that of an individual, it
nevertheless took precedence over Shabbat, just as a community sacrifice does.
For good reason, the nesi'im brought one wagon for each two nesi'im, and a
single ox for each nasi. The wagon could not move if each ox headed in a
different direction.
We can now understand why to this very day Benei Yisrael observe these days as
a joyous period. We rejoice over the beautiful harmony which existed among the
nesi'im of Yisrael, the harmonious cooperation with which they worked. We now
also understand why this event in particular opens for us this most exalted
month, the month of wonders and miracles. It reminds us of the path towards
redemption - the elimination of all senseless hatred and divisiveness. These awful
phenomena are still all too prevalent and keep us even further away from our
ultimate redemption. Only with the coming together of our people, when the
tribes of Israel are united, will our king be crowned once again, and our redeemer
will come to Siyon! May we observe this period as a time for heightened
awareness of ahavat Yisrael and the power of Jewish unity, and like days we left
Egypt we shall see miracles! THE FRUIT BASKETS
This Shabbat, we begin reading Sefer Vayikra, the book dealing with the laws of
korbanot. Pesah is nearby, and we will soon read the Haggadah, in which we offer
thanks for all the wonderful favors with which the Al-mighty has blessed us. We
add to our songs of praise, " for us the Bet Habehirah [Bet Hamikdash] to
atone for all our sins," referring to the korbanot, about which we begin reading
this week and which bring us atonement. The Hid"a zs"l, in the newly-printed
Haggadah, "Peninei HaHid"a," asks, if the service in the Bet Hamikdash is truly an
atonement for our sins, then why were Benei Yisrael thrown into exile on account
of their sins? Weren't all their transgressions atoned for by the korbanot? To see
the Hid"a's answer, the reader is referred to the Haggadah, "Peninei HaHid"a."
Here, we will answer the question with a story cited in the work,
"Ohel Yaakov."
A farmer once sent his cows to graze in a certain field. It was soon reported to
him that his cows intruded onto the property of the governor, who promptly
ordered their confiscation. The farmer's face turned white. The cows were his
treasure, practically all his property! What could he do? How could he retrieve his
cows? The governor was strict and cruel. His word was the final say, no questions
asked. He asked his friends for advice. They told him, "Relax! Last week a similar
incident occurred, when someone's cows wandered into the governor's fields and
were confiscated. He went to the governor's palace with a gift, a basket full of
fruits, and the governor then agreed to give back his cows." And so, the farmer
quickly took a giant basket, filled it with large apples, carried it on his shoulders

and headed towards the palace. The butler opened the door and the farmer said,
"I have a gift for the governor." The butler stood aside, allowing the farmer to
come in. The farmer placed the gift on the carpet and left. He went to the stables
and asked for his cows. The supervisor, who saw him coming from the palace,
assumed that the issue had been resolved, and gave the cows back to the
farmer. The farmer took them back to his farm, overjoyed. A short while later, the
governor came down from his room and was shocked to see a basket in the
entrance. "What is this?" he asked. "This farmer left it here and took his
confiscated cows," came the reply. The governor's servants came to the farmer's
stables and disrupted his celebration. They confiscated all his cows and chained
him to a fence to be stoned with his apples. "Stop!" he cried bitterly. "This is a
mistake! I can prove it! Bring me before the governor and everything will become
clear." The servants were confused, but they agreed to take him to the governor.
Upon seeing the farmer, the governor's anger was kindled. "Throw him into
prison!" he ordered. As the guards took hold of his arms, the farmer exclaimed,
"My dear governor, this is not fair. Last week a certain person's cows wandered
into your fields, but you freed his cows in return for a basket of fruits. Now, I also
brought you a basket of fruit, and yet you order the confiscation of all my cows
and that I be stoned with apples and imprisoned. Where is the justice?" The
guards hesitated, waiting for the governor's response. He answered, "How do you
not understand? The cows were confiscated legally, as they caused damage to
my field. Your friend recognized the loss he caused, he came and promised that
he would be more careful in the future, he expressed sincere regret over the
damage, he guaranteed me that it will not happen again, he asked forgiveness
and offered me a gift. I agreed to return his cows. But you, first your cows intrude
onto my property as if you owned it. Then you come and leave a basket of fruit
on my carpet, as if you owned it. Then you go into the stables and take your
cows, as if you owned the stables. I will show you who is really in charge!" The
korbanot are merely a sign, a reflection of one's submission to Hashem. If they
are offered in this manner, they can arouse mercy and compassion, they can
atone for our misdeeds. But the moment we entertain the possibility that the
korbanot allow us to commit the sins, then, "'Why do I need all you sacrifices?'
says Hashem." To the contrary, they arouse His anger. Today, our prayers take
the place of korbanot. It is erroneous to think that one can behave as he pleases
outside the synagogue and then erase everything inside the Bet Kenesset. To the
contrary, prayer must lead to furthering our relationship with Hashem even
during the hours in between one tefillah and the next.
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Taken from "Torat Hamoadim" by Rav David Yossef shlit"a
The Laws of Bedikat Hamess
At the beginning of the night of the fourteenth of Nissan, we check for hamess
with the light of a candle. The proper time for the bedikah is twenty minutes after
sunset. One must check in all the cracks and holes and in all the corners of the
house, including the balconies. If it is too difficult to search all the rooms himself,
he may have other family-members stand next to him when he recites the
berachah at the beginning of the search and then have them search around the
house. There is a particular misvah on the head of the household to perform the
search himself, as misvot are always preferably fulfilled by the individual himself
rather than his emissaries. If, for whatever reason, he cannot search at all, he
may appoint someone to search for him, and the agent who performs the search

recites the berachah, not the head of the household. The search must be done
with a wax candle. If one does not have a proper candle, he may use a small
flashlight which can fit into small holes and cracks, and a berachah may be
recited on such a search. One may not eat a meal consisting of more than a
"kebeissah"(about 56 grams) of bread or cake from a half-hour before the time of
the bedikah until he actually performs the search. Fruits and vegetables of any
quantity, even more than a kebeissah, may be eaten prior to the bedikah.
Needless to say, one may drink tea or coffee, as well. It is also forbidden to begin
learning Torah from the time the requirement of bedikah has begun until the
bedikah has taken place. However, if one had been learning prior to the time of
bedikah, he does not have to interrupt his learning for the bedikah. This applies
to private learning. A daily, public shiur, however, may be conducted even after
the time of bedikah has begun, because the people in the class will remind one
another to perform the bedikah, and there is no concern that someone will forget
to check his house for hamess. Preferably, after the class someone should
announce to the participants that they should do the bedikah. Immediately
before the bedikah, the blessing, "al bi'ur hamess" is recited. We say, "al bi'ur"
and not, "al bedikat" because the bedikah is only for the sake of the bi'ur, the
destruction of the hamess afterward. One may not speak between the recitation
of the berachah and the actual bedikah, and if one did speak during that period
of matters not pertaining to the bedikah he must recite a new berachah. In the
middle of the bedikah one may speak about anything which is relevant to the
bedikah, but nothing else. However, once the bedikah has begun, if one did
speak about matters not related to the bedikah he does not need to recite a new
berachah. "Shehehiyanu" is not recited on the bedikah. However, since some
authorities maintain that a shehehiyanu is to be recited for the bedikah, ideally
one should buy a new fruit and place it on the table when the bedikah is about to
begin and the blessings are recited, including shehehiyanu. Then, after the
bedikah, the individual recites the standard berachah for the fruit and eats it.
However, this practice is not required, only as an extra measure of piety ("midat
hasidut"). After the bedikah one should renounce his ownership to his hamess,
reciting the "kal hamira" passage found in most siddurim and haggadot. The
nullification of rights to the hamess must be recited in a language which the
person understands, so that he realizes that he is considering all his hamess as
something of absolutely no value. The custom is to recite the "bittul" three times
for further emphasis. During one of the three recitations one should add the
word, "hefker" (ownerless) before the term, "ke'afra de'ara" (like the dust of the
One can nullify his hamess even if he is not home. One can also have his wife
recite the "bittul," and she, too, must recite it in a language she understands and
should say, " the possession of my husband" rather than, " my
Rabbi Shaul Sadkah zs"l
In 5708, like this year, the seventh of Nissan occurred on Erev Shabbat Hagadol,
and on that day Rabbi Shaul Sadkah zs"l passed away. He was the father of the
great Rabbi Yehudah Sadkah zs"l. This reminds us of the story of the father of the
great "Gadol of Minsk" zs"l who was a simple baker. Once, as he entered the Bet
Kenesset, the rabbi of Brisk stood all the way up in his honor. When asked why he
stood, the rabbi of Brisk answered, "Whoever has a son like the Gadol of Minsk
cannot be just a simple Jew!" The same can be said of Rabbi Shaul Sadkah zs"l.

Indeed, Rabbi Yehudah Sadkah zs"l would comment, "If you want to see the
spiritual stature of somebody, see how he prays." He would tell of his father who
was a merchant who dealt with "lulavim." Needless to say, the most pressured
season was from after Yom Kippur until Erev Sukkot. His shop was so crowded
with customers that he did not have time to come home to eat. Therefore, his
family would send him food from home. On many occasions the food remained
intact, as he could not find even a few moments to sit and eat.
For eating he did not have time. But for tefilah with the "sibur" he always found
time, and he would pray slowly and with intense concentration, even during this
period of intense pressure. In the morning he would pray in the Bet Kenesset at
his slow pace without rushing, and in the afternoon he would assemble a minyan
in his shop. Once the tefilah began he would invest all his energy into the tefilah
and stood for a long while, forgetting everything else. Around him the commotion
continued, as merchants from Jericho came to bring their lulavim, his staff
awaited his instructions, customers wanted to arrange their credit, people
needed his advice, and all the people already concluded their tefilot - only the
shopkeeper still stood before his Creator. His son would tell those around him,
"Look - this is how one is to pray!"
"A person from among you who offers a sacrifice to Hashem"
Rabbi Yosef Gabbai zs"l of Buzad, Morocco, writes in his work, "Bigdei Shesh" that
the note over the word, "adam" (person) is a "ravi'a", and on the word, "mikem"
(from among you) is a "tevir." "Ravi'a" is Aramaic for "hover," and "tevir" in
Aramaic means "break." Thus, this pasuk alludes to the fact that the yesser hara
hovers over a person like a lion waiting for its prey, and the person's task is to
break it. If he is successful, this is his "sacrifice to Hashem," in this way he comes
closer to his Creator and will be considered to have brought a korban. Indeed, this
is how the Gemara (Sanhedrin 43) learns the pasuk, "One who sacrifices a
thanksgiving offering honors me."
"A person from among you who offers a sacrifice to Hashem"
The Gemara (Sotah 5) says that during the time of the Bet Hamikdash, if a person
offered an "olah" sacrifice, then he received reward for an "olah"; if he offered a
"minhah" sacrifice, he receives reward for a "minhah"; but if one carries himself
with humility, then he is considered to have brought all the sacrifices, as it says
(Tehillim 51), "The sacrifices of Hashem are a broken spirit." The author of,
"Michlal Yofi," one of the great leaders of Algiers, notes that this is alluded to in
the word, "adam" (a person). The three letters of this word stand for, "Avraham,"
"David," and "Moshe." These three men were famous particularly for their
humility. Avraham said, "I am dust and ashes," David said, "I am a worm, not
even a man," and Moshe said, "And who are we?", and this is the ultimate
sacrifice to Hashem!
"A person from among you who offers a sacrifice to Hashem"
The saintly Rabbi Yehudah Elbaz zs"l of Morocco cites the Midrash that when
Benei Yisrael heard the parashah dealing with the korbanot they became very
frightened. Moshe reassured them, "Involve yourselves in Torah and you will not
be afraid." That is what is meant by the pasuk, "This is the Torah for the olah." He

explains that they feared the time when there would be no Bet Hamikdash. How
would their sins be forgiven? Moshe therefore answered them that Torah study
atones like korbanot, as Hazal say (Menahot 110) that one who involves himself
in Torah study does not need an olah, minhah, or hatat.
"Study It, For It Contains Everything"
The Gemara (Bechorot 7) tells of Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Hananiah who went to a
gathering of the Wise Men of Athens, and he was astounded to see that the
younger scholars stood in the front while the elders stood at their feet. In truth,
according to their logic this is the proper procedure. Science continues to
progress, and the younger scientists make new discoveries and new horizons
open up before them. From their perspective, "The world belongs to the
youngsters." However, this is only true in their perspective, that the world
originated from nothing, and man was created walking in the darkness. In each
generation, they believe, another dimension of the wonders of creation is
discovered. But we believe in a Torah which came to us from heaven, and
everything is contained therein. In his remarkable introduction to his commentary
on the Humash, the Ramban zs"l writes that King Shelomoh, the wisest of all
men, knew all the secrets of creation from the Torah, because the Creator
granted him the insight to see everything from the Torah. Therefore, we are
commanded to honor the elders, who are closer to Matan Torah than we are, and
the scholars who are proficient in the Torah. The mishnah says, "Torah scholars the more they age their knowledge grows." Rabbi Yosef Hayim zs"l, the Ben Ish
Hai, gave an example from the pasuk, "To make a weight for the wind" (Iyov 28),
which was explained by Rabbi Hayim Vital zs"l as a proof that air has weight, as
demonstrated by Kabbalah. The scholars of other nations scorned him for this,
arguing, if air had weight, we would be crouching under the mass of air on top of
us. However, years later, scientists revealed that, in truth, air does have weight,
and when a balloon is filled with gas which is lighter than air it will float, just as a
log of wood floats on top of the water. It took the scientists so many years to
make this discovery and considered it a major breakthrough, whereas we knew it
all along from the Torah. This is the meaning of the mishnah in Avot (end of
chapter 5), "Study it thoroughly, for it contains everything." One who learns Torah
will learn everything from it, and slowly science reveals that which is contained in
the Torah and what Hazal knew centuries ago.
Flashback: The boy, Naftali, threw a rock during a game which injured the
general. On his way to the capital city where he was to stand trial, he and his
guard encountered a terrible storm and found refuge in a Jewish home. The Jew
bribed the guard into lying and saying that the boy drowned while crossing the
river. The guard returned to his city and the boy stayed in his savior's home, and
the savior promised the guard that the boy would never return to his city, and his
family will mourn for him.
Naftali was all of eight years old, but his talents were remarkable. Complete
Masechtot were fluent in his mouth, and his mind was as sharp as a razor. His
diligence knew no bounds, and as he studied he continued to uncover new
concepts from the sugyot. He came up with brilliant approaches and his novel
ideas flowed like a spring. His eyes sparkled like the stars and his face shone. The

host's wife and their daughter, who was seven years old, stood in between the
study and the kitchen, struck by the boy's joy over his studies. They listened to
his sweet voice as he chanted the material. "How fortunate we are," she said to
her husband, "that we can raise a Torah scholar in our home."
"Indeed," he agreed, "let us thank Hashem who gave us the merit to save him
from his captors, and that we have the privilege to raise him. You should know,
that we have here with us not merely a talmid hacham, but a leader of the
From the outset they feared that their neighbors would be very suspicious of this
boy who suddenly joined their household. They were afraid that the word would
spread and the authorities would find out what had happened. But the boy did
not leave the house, as he was attached to his learning day and night. When he
turned twelve, he politely asked if he could learn in the storage room in the
outskirts of the yard, as he was uncomfortable spending the entire day in the
same quarters as a girl around his age. The host gladly agreed and from that
point on the boy closed himself up in the storage room, where he had his meals
brought to him and from where his sweet voice was heard from the early morning
hours until late at night. Six years passed, until the host turned to his seventeenyear-old daughter and asked, "So, what do you think..."
to be continued...
An Appeal to the Yeshivah Students
I recall during the "War of Attrition" by the Suez Canal, how every day we heard
of more casualties and injuries. We heard of more widows and parents who lost
their children. This was at the end of the month of Nissan, the month when the
yeshivot have their vacation. Some yeshivot started a few days earlier. Rabbi
Yehezkel Abramski zs"l, head of the Council of Yeshivot, came to give the first
shiur of the new semester. After the shiur he said, "My dear students. You have no
idea how much fear and trepidation I have experienced over the last month!"
They were all very surprised. What happened? He continued, "A full month I sat
trembling. By the Suez Canal our brothers, the Jewish soldiers, sit, as bombs are
falling and their lives are in danger. And the yeshivah students, whose studies
protect our soldiers, have left for vacation! You should know that my fear made it
difficult for me to enjoy the holiday. I was counting the days to when the students
return to the yeshivot. Now, the curtain of protection has once again been
established, our dear soldiers are protected once again." He then said, "I know
that not all the students stopped learning. There is certainly an obligation to
assist the parents in their preparation for Pesah. There is no limit to the great
value of this misvah, and we learn in order to perform. Indeed, the misvah of
honoring one's parents is of paramount importance! But many yeshivah students
still took advantage of every spare moment to learn and they set aside time for
Torah study even during vacation. To them I cite the Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot
9:5), "If you see that people have been lax in Torah - stand up and strengthen
yourself in it, and you will receive reward for all of them." Those students who
studied during vacation, their Torah protected our land and its defenders, and
they receive reward of all great Torah scholars!" This week Pesah vacation begins
in the yeshivot. May these words of one of the great Roshei Yeshivah ring in the

ears of our students. Please, use all your spare time for Torah study, and in your
merit we will be saved from every woe and injury!
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Shabbat and love of Israel (part IV)
Aaron: All this is to be considered on the Shabbat day?
Mr. Goodfriend: The Shabbat is not only a memorial to the work of Beresheet
when creation took place, but it is also a memorial to the going out of Egypt when
Israel was elected. It was then that the ddeclaration was made: "So said the L-rd:
My first-born son is Israel" (Shemot 4:22). It was then that the body of every
Israelite bacame sacred, for all time to come.
Aaron: How do you know that their bodies became sacred?
Mr. Goodfriend: "You shall do all My commandments, and you shall be holy to
your G-d" (Bamdbar 15:40). The doing of the Mitzvot causes them to be holy.

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Parashat Sav
This Shabbat is called, "Shabbat Hagadol" ("The Great Shabbat") because of the
miracle which our nation experienced on this Shabbat. On this Shabbat we were
commanded to take a sheep and tie it to our bedposts, in preparation for the
korban Pesah. Despite the fact that the Egyptians worshipped the sheep and saw
us preparing their deity for slaughter, they did not object. This miracle is
commemorated on this Shabbat, Shabbat Hagadol.
This is well known. However, one question remains. Since the sheep were tied to
the bedposts for four days, from the tenth of Nissan through the fourteenth, the
miracle actually took place over the course of these four days. So why do we
single out Shabbat in particular for the commemoration of this miracle?
The answer is clear and presents a critical message for us. True, the sheep
remained in our homes for several days. However, the miracle was only on the
first day. After that first day, the Egyptians were already accustomed to the
notion that Benei Yisrael were slaughtering their deity. They had no reason to
Indeed, this is human nature. When the Hafess Hayim zs"l witnessed the
desecration of Shabbat for the first time (during World War I) he cried bitterly.
When he saw it for the second time he cried even more. He explained that on
that second time he cried not only for the hilul Shabbat but also for the fact that
he wasn't as troubled the second time as he was the first time.
This message is especially critical for the yeshivah students who are currently on
vacation. Do not spend too much time roaming around the streets, and your
spiritual sensitivities which you worked so hard to develop all these months do
not wear off. Take care of these sensitivities, ensure their purity in preparation for
the experience of Matan Torah on Shavuot.
In another week we will conduct the seder, in celebration of our Exodus from
Egypt and our transformation into a nation. However, in order to properly
understand the true significance of the event, in order to understand more clearly
what exactly we are celebrating by this annual, family gathering which has been
observed for over three thousand and three hundred years, the Sages instituted
that on the Shabbat immediately preceding Pesah, Shabbat Hagadol, we read as
the haftarah an interesting, perhaps even peculiar, conversation between the Almighty and His nation, us. This piece is taken from the very last book of the
Nevi'im, Malachi, and relates to our period, the eve of the ultimate redemption.

Hashem casts rather harsh allegations against us: "Your words have overpowered
Me, says Hashem," meaning, "You have spoken harshly against Me." "And you
say, 'How have we spoken against You?'" In other words, we respond, "We haven't
said anything!" Strange, considering the fact that the Al-mighty knows everything
we say and do, as Hazal say, "Know what is above you - an eye that sees, an ear
that hears, and all your deeds are recorded in a book." Hashem sends His prophet
to criticize us for having spoken harshly against Him, Heaven forbid, words of
scorn and heresy. "You have said, 'There is no purpose to serve G-d, and of what
avail is it when we observe his statutes?'" You have said that there is no need, Gd forbid, to observe the Torah. So, when the prophet comes to condemn this
attitude, shouldn't we have kept silent and bury our heads in shame? How could
it be that when he comes and tells us, "Your words have overpowered Me" we
insist that we are innocent, pretending that we have no idea what the prophet is
talking about? "And you say, 'How have we spoken against You?'" As if to say,
"We didn't say anything!" This denial is as brazen and audacious as the actual
opposition to the Torah! Instead of recognizing the presence of the ear which
hears everything and burying our heads in shame and submission, instead of
keeping quiet and then asking forgiveness, we dare respond, "What? We didn't
say anything!" The answer is that this haftarah is a most frightening example of
the truth and eternal nature of our prophecies. The prophet said these words
around two and half thousand years ago, and yet they extend beyond the
boundaries of time and speak to us today. There have always been individual
Jews who have turned their backs to Torah and misvot. However, they and
everyone around them knew that they had distanced themselves from Judaism,
they have severed themselves from the rest. The path to teshuvah was always
open for them. Unfortunately, before they did teshuvah they rejected their
Judaism and moved away from the Jewish people. This was the way it always was.
Until the renouncing of Judaism which occurred in the last generation.
Writers and orators assumed for themselves the authority as the spokesmen for
Judaism and those who determine its laws. "You do not have a monopoly over
Judaism," they said to those who followed the word of Hashem. They spoke as if
the Orthodox Jews created something, rather than realizing that they merely
have been transmitting the heritage from one generation to the next for
centuries, giving over our tradition as it was given at Har Sinai, where we were
bidden, "Do not add to that which I command you and do not take away from it."
We always knew the severity of the desecration of Shabbat, we always
recognized the centrality of the thirteen principles of faith as defining one as a
believing Jew. Suddenly, many Jews have gotten up and said, "What? Judaism
should determine what Judaism is? We are good Jews even if we desecrate
Shabbat, eat non-kosher food, ignore the guidelines of proper dress and modest
behavior, "There is no purpose to serve G-d, and of what avail is it to observe His
statutes?" This falsehood has become so entrenched that when the prophet
accuses, "You words have overpowered Me," the people do not understand what
the big deal is - "How have we spoken against You?"
This distortion has reached the point where a law has been suggested whereby a
Christian family whose son has fallen during battle (and, no question, the pain
and sorrow are great, as is his reward) will be proclaimed to be Jews. All that is
needed is a few members of Kenesset - and who made them Torah authorities? to raise their hands and the law will be implemented. With the stroke of the pen,
all the family members of that fallen hero will suddenly become Jewish! Is there
any greater distortion of our tradition? This is the message of our haftarah, and

we must take it with us to the seder. When the son comes along and says, "What
is this service to you?" insisting that one can be a good Jew without performing
the misvot, we must respond, "Because he took himself out of the whole he has
rejected the principles. You must chastise him and say, 'Because of this Hashem
did for me when I left Egypt, for me and not for him, if he would have been there
he would not have been redeemed.'" There is but one Judaism, and one can
either subscribe to it to reject it, but not distort it.
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Taken from the booklet, "Min Hamaayan," by Rav David Yossef shlit"a
The Laws of "Koshering" Utensils for Pesah
Utensils which are used with hamess throughout the year may not be used on
Pesah unless they are properly "koshered," since hamess is absorbed into the
utensil. A utensil is koshered in the same manner in which it was used with
hamess. If the utensil was used with fire, then it must be koshered by exposure to
fire. If it was used with boiling hot water, then it is to be koshered by being
immersed in boiling water. The underlying principle is that the hamess which was
absorbed into the utensil leaves the utensil in the same manner in which it got
there to begin with. Some utensils, however, cannot be koshered, as will be
discussed. There are six different methods of koshering, and utensils are
koshered through one of these methods, depending upon how it is used. The
methods are:
1) Exposure to fire until sparks are produced.
2) Immersion in boiling water over a fire.
3) Pouring boiling water over the utensil from the pot in which the water was
4) Immersion in a "keli sheni," meaning, a pot into which boiling water was
poured from the original pot in which it was boiled.
5) Rinsing in cold water.
6) Soaking in cold water for 72 hours.
Metal pots which are used over a fire, including their covers and handles, are
koshered through immersion in boiling water over a fire. Meaning, water is boiled
over a fire in a large pot, and while the water is still boiling, the hamess utensil is
lowered into the pot. Similarly, the grating over the stove (which is over the fire
and under the pots which are cooked) and gas stoves are koshered in this
manner. If boiling water was poured onto them from the original pot in which the
water was boiled, this also suffices.
However, the Ashkenazim are more stringent in this regard, and insist on
koshering the grating and gas stoves through exposure to fire. One may use the
grating or gas stove without koshering them by placing a strip of metal on them.
Some wrap the stove in aluminum foil after they were immersed in boiling water,
and those who follow this stringency will be blessed. The custom is to rinse the
utensils in cold water after their immersion in boiling water.
Marble counters are koshered by pouring boiling water (from the original pot in
which the water was boiled) over them. If one is afraid that they will be ruined by
boiling water, he should wrap them in aluminum foil or plastic after cleaning

them thoroughly, and this suffices. Similarly, sinks in which dirty dishes are
placed for washing are koshered by pouring boiling water over them. Some have
the practice, as an extra degree of piety, to line their sinks with plastic "sinks"
(basins) throughout Pesah, and those who do so are deserving of blessing. An
electric hot plate is koshered, as well, by pouring boiling water over it, though, as
an extra degree of piety, it is preferable to line it with aluminum foil. An electric
refrigerator is koshered by thoroughly rinsing it with cold water, and no hot water
is needed, as is the case regarding utensils used for making seltzer.
Tables used for eating hamess throughout the year with a tablecloth do not need
koshering at all, and one merely needs to wash it thoroughly and cover it with a
new cloth. If it was used during the year without a tablecloth, then the custom is
to kosher it by pouring boiling water over it (from the original pot in which the
water was boiled). If one is afraid that the table would be ruined, then he may
just clean it thoroughly and place a new cloth on it.
Rabbi Moshe Alshich zs"l On Thursday, 13 Nissan, 5360, the saintly Rabbi Moshe
Alshich passed away in Sefat. He was known especially for his important works
on Tanach. He was also a popular orator, and the Ar"i, who listened to Rabbi
Moshe's speeches, testified that he reached the ultimate truth in Torah.
In his work, "Madregat Ha'adam," the "Saba" of Nevarduk zs"l tells that once the
Alshich spoke of the great quality of trust in Hashem. A digger was so inspired by
this talk that he decided he wouldn't go to work anymore.
Rather, he sat in the Bet Midrash and recited Tehillim. Having no choice, his wife
rented out the donkey and carriage to an Arab who would dig and give her half
his salary. The Arab left the city, dug, and found a hidden treasure. He placed it
on the carriage and covered it with dirt. He returned to the dig to see if there
were anymore riches, only to be killed by an avalanche. After waiting for a long
time, the donkey eventually turned around and returned to its owner's house. The
entire city of Sefat was shocked when, suddenly, this digger was among the
wealthiest men in the city. His trust in the Al-mighty proved itself beyond
anyone's expectations.
The Alshich's students turned to him and asked, "We learn Torah diligently, we
have been studying your Torah for years, we have heard your talks about faith,
and yet, none of us have had such an experience. This digger, a simple, 'Tehillim
Jew,' hears just one talk, and suddenly has reached such a level of faith that he is
deserving of such a miracle?! How could this be?" Their great rabbi answered,
"My talk about faith is like a nail, which I try to drive like with a hammer into the
hearts of my audience. But, what can I do, your hearts are like sand, and the nail
goes in so easily. But, once it is in, it is not held tightly. But the heart of this
simple Jew is like a stone. And once the nail has penetrated the stone it is
implanted there permanently. His faith was therefore so strong that he was
deserving of such a miracle!
"Command Aharon"
Hazal tell us that the word, "sav," command, implies specific zeal and meticulous
observance regarding which Moshe had to remind Aharon and the kohanim. The

Or Hahayim zs"l explains that since the daily sacrifice ("korban tamid") was the
first sacrifice offered each day, it may happen on occasion that at the time when
it is to be sacrificed no sheep will be available yet, as happened during the time
of siege of Jerusalem. Therefore, the kohanim had to be reminded not to sacrifice
any korbanot before the korban tamid even in such a situation. This serves as a
lesson for all time, that one does not have the right to make his own
arrangements in the performance of misvot. Rather, he must subject his will to
that of the Torah.
"On loaves of hamess-bread he shall sacrifice [the thanksgiving offering]"
Generally speaking, no hamess was allowed to be brought as a sacrifice. Only
with regard to the korban todah (thanksgiving offering) did the Torah require
hamess, as ten loaves of regular bread were brought with thirty massot. They
were not offered on the mizbe'ah. Rather, one of every ten was given to the
kohen and the rest was eaten by the individual offering the sacrifice. Rav Ovadiah
Seforno zs"l explains that hamess represents the evil inclinations which swells
one's temptations like yeast in dough. One who brings the korban todah
expresses his gratitude over having been saved from danger, and so he is
reminded that the danger evolved as a result of his sin, which was caused by his
yesser hara.
"And the fire of the mizbe'ah should burn in it"
It is told that when the author of "Imrei Emet," one of the celebrated rebbes of
Ger, zs"l, was a five-year-old student, he asked his teacher, why does the Torah
write that the fire of the mizbe'ah should burn "in it"?
Shouldn't it have written, "upon it"?
The teacher did not know the answer and told the boy to ask his father, the
author of "Sefat Emet" zs"l. The father asked his son, "What do you think the
answer is?" The child answered, "I thought that the expression actually refers to
the kohen, meaning that the fire should burn within him, that the misvah should
shine and burn in all its force and warmth within the heart of the kohen!"
The Tale of Two Customers
It is told that the rabbi of Kuneshtat zs"l, one of the Roshei Yeshivah of Yeshivat
Kol Torah, wanted to purchase a hat. He entered a hat shop in Yerushalayim and
found it empty. The owner had left his desk for a few minutes, so the rabbi stood
and waited for him to return. Suddenly, a secular Jew entered the store. He was
very cold and needed a hat to keep his head warm. He looked around, saw the
rabbi, and asked, "Are you the owner of the store? I need a hat. What do you
have to offer?" The rabbi told him, "Look around, pick out what you want, and
take. There is no owner here." The man was amazed. "What do you mean? How
can I just take a hat? Who is the owner of the store?" "It belongs to nobody,"
responded the rabbi. "Do you see the dust? The air is full of dust, right? The dust
came together into blocks of solid. Some of it took the form of hats, some of it
turned into boxes, of all different colors, and this is what you see around you. It
all happened by itself; it doesn't belong to anybody."

The man was rather perplexed. "Listen, I don't know you, but you look like a very
respectable man," he said. "But from the way you are talking, I am sorry to say, I
think you need some treatment. What are you talking about - dust collecting
together, turning by itself into hats - are you normal?"
The rabbi was not insulted one bit. To the contrary, he expressed further interest
in what the other had to say. "Really?" he cried. "I need help when I claim that the
store came into existence by itself, by chance. And you, who believe that the
entire world was brought into existence in this way, what about you? If you
declared my insanity because of what I said about one store, what about the
entire universe? But, you are right, the owner of the store is coming. You should
know, that soon enough you will stand before the owner of the world, as well."
The Repaid Debt (10)
Flashback: A Jew from a remote village saved young Naftali who was being
brought to the capital city to stand trial for having injured a general during a
rock-throwing game. The man reserved the storage room on the outskirts of his
property for the boy who stayed there studying Torah day and night. As Naftali
reached adulthood, the man asked his daughter if she would agree to marry the
boy, and she expressed her consent.
The host made his way to the small cabin on the other side of the yard and heard
the sweet sound of Torah, a resonating voice filled with excitement and emotion,
the boy's voice which did not stop day or night. The man warmly knocked on the
door and asked if he could interrupt for a brief moment. He emotionally spoke to
the boy, who lifted his head from his book, and said, "The Sages are in dispute as
to whether a person should learn Torah before getting married or vice-versa.
Regarding somebody like you, however, there is no dispute. You will learn before
and after the wedding.
I have a daughter who is ready to be married. I will be honored to have you as my
son-in-law. You may continue to learn as you please, as this is also the desire of
my daughter. You will be supported by my table, as long as Hashem blesses me
and takes care of my needs."
To his surprise, the young man did not respond. He kept quiet for a long moment.
Finally, he answered, "I cannot give you an answer right now - "
"I understand," interrupted the man, "after all, Hazal say that one may not
betroth a woman until he sees her. My daughter is waiting in the house. You can
come in and speak with her. If you do not want to come now, then please tell me
The young man's face became even more intense and was confused. "No, this is
not what I had in mind. I need time to think about the proposal even before I
meet your daughter. Do not think at all that I have any doubt regarding her
qualities and I owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude. But do not pressure me,
give me some time to think it over."
The host was very surprised and even a bit insulted. "Very well," he said, "I will
come back tomorrow."

to be continued...
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Holy Bodies (part I)
Aaron: Perhaps their minds or Souls became holy, but not their bodies.
Mr. Goodfriend: "They shall eat meat on this night" (Shemot 12:8). This was the
first time in history that any offering to G-d was eaten by men.
Hitherto, no men were holy enough that their bodies should be worthy of
consuming the flesh of the offerings, and therefore all the offerings had been
Olot, which were consumed by the fire on the altar,. "Noah erected an altar to the
L-rd...and he brought up burnt-offerings (Olot) on the altar" (Beresheet 8:20).
Isaac said: "Where is the lamb for the burnt-offering (Olah)?" (ibid., 22:7). But in
Egypt, at the Exodus, they received G-d's commandment of the Pesah offering,
and they therefore became physically holy. The blood of the Pesah was not put on
an altar, as with all other offerings, but on the doorposts and the lintels of the
Israelites' dwellings, for henceforth the homes of the holy nation were sacred.
The flesh was consumed in the bodies of the holy people, for their bodies are
tantamount to a holy altar.

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On the night of the seder, there seems to be some redundancy. First, we eat
massah, commemorating our redemption, and then we eat marror, recalling the
bitterness of bondage. Although it may seem that we have then fulfilled our
obligations of massah and marror, we combine massah and marror together for
"korech." Wherein lies the significance of combining the symbols of bondage and
redemption together? Once we have already eaten massah and marror, why do
we need to eat them again, together in the form of a sandwich?
A critical message lies therein, one which may be demonstrated through a story.
A certain Jew, who happened to have been a first-born, fasted on Erev Pesah.
That night, he attended the seder of the "Avnei Nezer" zs"l. When the host
distributed the "karpas," celery dipped in salt-water, the hungry guest devoured
his portion hastily. The Avnei Nezer observed the manner in which his guest ate
his karpas and said compassionately, "I cannot understand how somebody can
celebrate the festival of freedom when he is enslaved to a piece of celery."
This story illustrates a critical point. True, we left the Egyptian bondage and we
were rescued from the contaminating forces of Egypt. However, we are still quite
a distance from total spiritual freedom. We are still bound by the chains of our
yesser hara and physical desires, we still confront a bitter and fierce battle
against our internal drives and inclinations, we find ourselves struggling
constantly with "korech," the conflict between massah and marror, freedom
against our enslavement to our bodies. We still have a long while left until we eat
the afikoman, which consists of massah alone, symbolizing the ultimate
redemption. This redemption has yet to come. It will be followed by "barech,
hallel, nirsah," and the taste of the afikoman will forever remain in our mouths.
"Rabban Gamliel says, whoever does not mention the following three items has
not fulfilled his obligation: Pesah, massah, and marror." The korban Pesah recalls
for us how the Al-mighty passed over the homes of Benei Yisrael, saving them
from the plague of the first-born. Massah commemorates the fact that the dough
of our forefathers did not have the opportunity to rise, and the marror reminds us
of the bitterness of slavery. Many scholars have already asked the obvious
question. If these are, indeed, the symbols of these three misvot, then shouldn't
the order be different? Shouldn't the marror, which symbolizes our bondage, have
been mentioned prior to the massah, representing the redemption? Why does the
pasuk - "...on massot and marror you shall eat it [the korban Pesah] - place
massah before marror, and why do we eat the massah before the marror? As is
the case regarding all the misvot, the order here teaches us a profound insight. A
slave, given his lowly status and loss of dignity, becomes accustomed to his life
as a slave, to the point where he does not even sense his misfortune. To the
contrary, at times a slave reaches the point of, "I love my master" and prefers
slavery over independence. As Benei Yisrael told Moshe, "We remember the
onions and garlic which we ate in Egypt for free." Very often, a slave cries to be

released only from the suffering of his labor, not his slavery. For example, the
Russian Czar once visited an army base where he was greeted with an elaborate
display. The Cossacks stood in two rows with their swords drawn. Suddenly, one
of them thrust his sword toward the Czar's head, attempting an assassination.
Instantly, the soldier next to him deflected the sword and knocked it to the side,
saving the monarch's life. With utmost self-control, the Czar completed his survey
of the base. When he reached the general's tent, he ordered the execution of the
attempted assassin and asked to bring him the one who had saved his life.
"The Czar owes you his life, and he does not like remaining in debt," he
remarked. "What do you want as a reward?" "My dear Czar," answered the
soldier, "my general is very rough with me. He punishes me whenever I do
anything wrong and gives me even more difficult responsibilities. Please have
him deal with me more kindly." "You can rest assured that this will be taken care
of," said the Czar. The Cossack thanked him warmly and left. The Czar then
whispered under his breath, "What a fool! He could have asked that I appoint him
general!" In truth, the Czar was incorrect. The soldier would have - and could
have - never asked such a thing. His perspective was one of a private, one who
receives orders, whose only ambition is to lighten his workload.
The same can be said about Benei Yisrael's bondage in Egypt. "They did not
listen to Moshe out shortness of breath and hard work." As if they were saying,
leave us to finish our work for the day so we can go home. In fact, as Hazal tell
us, after the first eight plagues, when the difficult labor came to an end on Rosh
Hashanah, the majority of the people still refused to change their status, and
four-fifths of the nation perished during the plague of darkness. It then becomes
clear why we eat massah to commemorate the redemption before we proceed to
recall the bondage through the consumption of marror. Only after the redemption
can we fully appreciate how bitter the slavery really was, how dreadful the
situation in Egypt was for our forefathers.
The same is true regarding spiritual bondage, as well. The "Divrei Hayim" zs"l
would tell of a certain rabbi who arrived in a city only to find rampant drinking.
Men would spend the nighttime hours drinking and roaming the streets
intoxicated. They would come home and beat their wives. He instituted a rule
that nobody may drink even a drop of the bitter liquid, and severe punishment
would be administered to anyone found violating this code. Not even a single day
passed before the first drunkard was found roaming the streets. They grabbed
him and brought him before the rabbi.
"What do you have in your mouth to justify your actions?" asked the rabbi. "I
swear," groaned the drunkard, "nothing but the taste of liquor." The rabbi
wondered, perhaps this is a valid argument. Maybe the taste is so overpowering
that one cannot stay away. He asked for some liquor and placed a little bit on his
tongue. Immediately, he choked and spit it out. "Ah! It is bitter as anything! I see
no better punishment than to make this man drink this awful beverage!"
Similarly, someone in whom sinful behavior has become ingrained sees no
greater pleasure than these transgressions. Only after he separates from them
does he realize how filthy such behavior really is. Only after the "Pesah" and the
"massah" can one truly understand the bitterness of the marror

Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

Taken from the pamphlet, "Min Hama'ayan" by Rav David Yossef shlit"a
The Laws of the Night of the Seder
The Laws Regarding "Massah shemurah":
The massah used for the misvah of massah on the night of the seder must have
been carefully watched from the time of the harvest. In other words, the wheat
used for the massah must have been protected and watched to ensure that no
water was mixed with it. If there is no such massah available, it suffices if the
wheat was watched from the time it was ground. Throughout the rest of Pesah,
however, "massah shemurah" is not required. Some, however, do have the
custom to eat only massah shemurah throughout Pesah, and those who have this
custom and wish to change their custom to be more lenient must perform
"hatarat nedarim." One must be careful to separate "hallah" from the dough
when he bakes massah. As long as the dough used weighed 1.6665 kilograms
(3.67 pounds), hallah must be taken and a berachah must be recited. Preferably,
hallah should be taken - albeit without a berachah - starting from 1.6153
kilograms (3.5 pounds).
The Four Cups of Wine:
Women, as well as men, are obligated in the misvah of drinking the four cups of
wine and all other misvot pertaining to the night of the seder. Therefore, if a
group of women, who are knowledgeable and proficient in the halachot, wish to
conduct their own seder, they may do so and recite all the appropriate berachot.
Parents should educate their children with regard to the misvah, as well, and
children who have reached the age at which they understand the significance of
the Exodus should be given wine. Although parents are not required to give them
a full "revi'it" of wine, children should, preferably, drink a revi'it of grape juice so
that they will not get drunk or fall asleep. Children should also be given treats
and candies on the night of the seder so that their interest is maintained and
they will ask questions and participate. The custom is that everyone has
someone else pour his wine for him as a symbol of our freedom. One must recite
his berachah over a full cup of wine, as Hazal say that one who does so earns a
boundless portion in the World to Come, and inherits a portion both in this world
as well as in Olam Haba. Nevertheless, a full cup is not indispensable for the
misvah, and as long as a revi'it of wine is in the cup, the misvah is fulfilled.
The Laws of Reclining
On Pesah night, one must behave as if he, himself, left Egypt. Therefore, we
introduce elements of royalty and luxury at the seder to emphasize our freedom.
Hazal instituted the specific practice of "hesebah," that one must recline on his
left side during the seder, as this was the custom of the ancient kings. Even a
pauper who does not own a pillow or cushion must recline on a bench, the floor,
or on his friend. He should not, however, lean on his own leg, for this gives the
impression that he is in mourning, Heaven forbid. Hesebah must be performed
specifically on the left side, no matter whether the individual is right-handed or
left-handed. One who reclined on his right side, straight back, or forward, is as if
he did not recline at all. Hesebah must be done while eating the massah and
drinking the four cups of wine. One who ate the massah without reclining must
eat it again while reclining, and one who drank one of the cups of wine without
reclining must drink another cup with hesebah. Additionally, one must perform

hesebah while eating the "korech" and the afikoman. Throughout the rest of the
meal, it is preferable to recline but not necessary. While eating the marror,
however, one should not recline, as the marror symbolizes the bitterness of
bondage, not our freedom. One should not recline during birkat hamazon, either.
Hesebah while eating the karpas is optional. The authorities are in dispute
whether one should recline while reading the Haggadah and reciting Hallel. One
who wishes to rely on those poskim who do allow for hesebah during these points
in the seder may do so. A woman of such stature in the home that her husband
would not object to her reclining must do so. Today, the widespread custom
among both Ashkenazim and Sefaradim is for women to recline. However, if she
neglected to recline while eating the massah or drinking the wine she does not
have to eat the massah or drink the wine again.
Rabbi Meir Abuhassera zs"l
Monday, the second day of Hol Hamoed, marks the fifteenth anniversary of the
passing of the saintly Rabbi Meir Abuhassera zs"l, the son of the Baba Sali zs"l.
He was both a brilliant scholar as well as a great sadik. Already at a young age,
he was appointed by his father to deliver shiurim in his yeshivah in Bodniv. While
still a youngster, he was involved in community affairs. When his father went to
Demanhor and from there to Israel, Rabbi Meir was engaged. The Baba Sali
requested that the wedding not be delayed, so his brother, the Baba Haki zs"l,
made the arrangements. Even throughout the period of his engagement and
marriage, Rabbi Meir was in charge of the yeshivah and taught regular shiurim.
When the Baba Sali was the rabbi of Arpod and the surrounding region, Rabbi
Meir stood at his side as Rosh Yeshivah and head of the Jewish court. And when
the Baba Sali first moved to Eress Yisrael in 5711, the position of rabbi was
passed down to Rabbi Meir. In 5724 the Baba Sali moved to Israel for a second
time and settled in Netivot. His son moved to Israel, as well, but he resided in
Ashdod, preferring to close himself off in his home, dedicating his life to the
sublime service of Hashem. Masses of people thronged to the home of the Baba
Sali to ask him to pray on their behalf. When he became ill and could not handle
all the requests, he asked his son, Rabbi Meir to open his doors and offer
salvation for those who needed it. Rabbi Meir obeyed his father, and his house
turned into a source of salvation for scores of people.
However, a difficult illness took his life still while his father was alive. His sons
shlit"a continue his tradition as was promised by the prophet, "My spirit which is
upon you will not leave your mouth, the mouths of your children, or the mouths
of your children's children, said Hashem, from now and forever."
For the sake of the yeshivah students we cite his promise: "One who guards the
sanctity of his mouth and eyes is guaranteed success in his learning and will
merit completeness in his fear of G-d."
"You shall tell your children on that day"
The "Sefer Hahinuch" writes, "There is a misvah to tell the story of yesi'at
misrayim on the night of the fifteenth of Nissan, each individual according to his
own linguistic capabilities, and to praise and exalt Hashem for all the miracles
which He performed for us there, in order that one recall the miracles and events

which occurred to our forefathers during yesi'at misrayim, and how the Al-mighty
avenged for them. One is obligated to articulate these matters, in order that his
heart be aroused through his words. This is a fundamental precept in our Torah
and our faith, and that is why we say constantly throughout our berachot and
tefilot, ' a remembrance of yesi'at misrayim.'"
"You shall destroy all leavened products from your homes"
The Ar"i zs"l writes that "Pesah" may be seen as a combination of two words "peh sah" - (the mouth which speaks) alluding to the missvah to tell of the events
of yesi'at misrayim on Pesah. Furthermore, during this festival, one must be extra
careful how he speaks, not to speak any lashon hara, gossip, falsehood, or
silliness. The Alshich zs"l saw a further allusion to this point in the mishnah which
discusses the laws of searching for hamess which says, "If the house was already
checked, and a mouse came with a piece of bread in its mouth and enters the
house - the entire house must be checked again" (Pesahim 10). The implication is
that even after a person is clear from all suspicions, he must still stand guard
against the evil inclination, lest it come and enter one's mouth, in the form of
forbidden speech.
"For seven weeks you shall eat massot"
The Abarbanel zs"l writes that the seven days of Pesah symbolize the seven
decades of a person's life. On the first night there are many misvot, especially
that of teaching one's children the miracles of yesi'at misrayim, alluding to the
emphasis on education during the early, formative years of a person's life. The
entire first day is a Yom Tov, symbolizing that the first ten years of a person's life
must be dedicated to kedushah, to Torah education. During the next five days, we
observe Hol Hamoed, where work is permitted but hamess remains forbidden.
Similarly, during the middle stage of one's life, he goes out to work and earns a
living while being careful not to violate any averot. At the end, there is another
Yom Tov, just as the end of one's life can once again be dedicated to the pursuit
of Torah study and kedushah.
Hands are specially constructed for taking hold of objects.
Hashem equipped our hands with opposable thumbs, or thumbs that can be
moved against the fingers. This action makes it possible to grasp things in the
hand and make delicate motions. To help to understand the work thumbs do, try
to pick up a pen with your thumb motionless alongside your hand. If you
accomplish that, then try to pick up a dime in the same way.
Hands are also used to feel things. The human hand contains at least four types
of nerve endings that make the fingers and the thumbs highly sensitive. Blind
people rely entirely on their sense of touch when reading Braille books.
Surprisingly, there are 27 bones that make up the hand: eight in the wrist, five in
the palm, and fourteen make up the fingers and thumb. Thirty-five powerful
muscles move the hand, with fifteen of them in the forearm, rather than in the
hand. This allows the hand to have great strength, without making the fingers
thick with muscles that would make them difficult to move. Twenty muscles
within the hand itself are arranged so that the hand and fingers can make a
variety of precise movements. In the hands, we see the astonishing

completeness of Hashem's creations. Many engineers, and inventors have tried

to mimic the design of the hand, its adaptability, and capabilities, but without
success. A robotic hand made to weld will not be able to spray paint, or hammer
nails. But a human hand can do innumerable tasks of all different nature. We
have to thank our Creator for giving us such intricate tools, and we have to
remember to always use them to serve Hashem, and to do His misvot.
CONTINUING STORY (11) Flashback: The boy, Naftali, was on his way to stand
trial for accidentally injuring a general and was saved by a warm, caring Jew. The
man brought Naftali into his home and allowed Naftali to study Torah day and
night. When Naftali reached adulthood, the man approached Naftali in his private
room and asked if he would marry the man's daughter. Much to his surprise,
Naftali asked that he come back the following day.
The next day, Naftali's host once again approached the young man's room, in the
outskirts of the yard. Many different thoughts circulated in his mind. Why did
Naftali not give him an answer right away? Why would he not approve of this
match? Perhaps he simply didn't feel ready for marriage. But why not? After all,
the man offered to support him and provide all his needs so he continue his
progress in becoming a Torah scholar. With a sense of confusion and concern the
man gently walked up to Naftali's door.
Just as his hand was about to knock, he came to an abrupt halt. He heard crying,
wails of panic and desperation. Where were these cries coming from? He listened
carefully, and noticed that these sounds came from Naftali's room. Listening even
more carefully, he heard that it was Naftali's voice.
"Please! Please!" cried the young scholar bitterly. "I plead with you, please allow
me to say yes. Please!"
The man, concerned for the boy's well-being, opened the door, only to find Naftali
sitting there by himself!
to be continued...
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Holy Bodies (part II)
Aaron: The Pesah-offering, then, was a tremendous innovation.
Mr. Goodfriend: It shook the world. "Bestir yourself, O North! and come , O
South!" (Songs 4:16). "Bestir yourself, O nation which performs only northofferings (the Olah, or burnt-offering, was slaughtered on the north side of the
altar -- Vayikra 1:11), and make way for the nation whose offerings are either
north or south (the Shelamim offering, which is eaten, was slaughtered on any
side of the altar)" (Zevahim 116a).
Aaron: The Exodus therefore, even before the giving of the Torah, was a
tremendous elevation of Israel.

Mr. Goodfriend: Indeed it was. "For I am the L-rd Who took you up (Hama'aleh
etchem) from the land of Egypt" (Vayikra 11:45), was said in the admonition
against eating the crawling things and other forbidden foods (ibid.). "Said the
Holy One...: Had I taken you up from Egypt solely because of this that you should
not defile yourselves (by eating the abominable things), it would have been
sufficient" (Baba Metziah 61b); "that you should be elevated...and not be
rendered unsightly by these abominable things; therefore it is written in an
expression of elevation, for this is a great elevation (Mala'ah) for you" (RSHI,
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Shvi'i Shel Pesach
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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Shvi'i Shel Pesach

The saintly Rebbe of Sochochov zs"l, the author of "Avnei Nezer," conducted his
Yom Tov table on the night of the seventh of Pesah, the night during which the
Red Sea split, allowing Benei Yisrael to walk safely in its midst. Suddenly, his ears
caught the whisper of one of his guests: "If only the rebbe could grant us the
wealth which Benei Yisrael seized at the Red Sea!"
The rebbe glared at him and said, "If you will grant yourself the fulfillment of the
verse, 'They believed in God and Mosheh His servant,' the belief which Benei
Yisrael achieved at the Red Sea, you will be granted the spoils, as well."
This story presents us with a critical lesson. We are all familiar with the Gemara's
comment that finding a spouse is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea as is
our sustenance and livelihood. We often fail to realize, however, that the splitting
of the Red Sea was "difficult," impossible, until the people girded themselves with
absolute faith, until the Almighty ordered Mosheh, "Why are you crying to Me?
Tell Benei Yisrael that they should travel [into the sea]!" - until they traveled into
the sea with total confidence in Hashem's power. We need only to rely on Him,
the One Whose force and majesty fills the world, at Whose word everything
transpires, and nothing is beyond His capability.
Pesah is the festival of faith. The Zohar refers to the massah as, "food of faith."
On the first night we tell of the miracles of the Exodus and on the last night we
commemorate the wonder of the splitting of the Red Sea. On Pesah we have the
ability to strengthen and solidify our faith, and to use this faith to prepare for the
days that follow. With this strength we will merit the blessing of Hashem
throughout our lives, with health, happiness, prosperity, "nahat," and joy.
What is the essence of song in the Torah? Writing about a song is a bit like the
comedy routine of the mime who wouldn't stop narrating his own actions, or the
great playwrite who, when asked his intentions in a certain play, replied that if he
were capable of explaining he would not have had to write the play! In pedestrian
life we speak in prose such as "how was your day?", "what's for dinner?" or
"there's a phone call for you!" etc.
When is song expressed? Imagine an individual who has just learned that his
Lotto ticket was the $80,000,000.00 winner. When he calls home to his wife will
he express himself in prose or poetry? Will he say "dear, we won the Lotto
today!"? To this she'll reply "and I made your favorite eggplant Parmesan for
dinner tonight". "It was $80,000,000.00 dear" he'd insist, and she'd calmly wish
him a safe trip home from the office.
Who would imagine that style of dialogue!? More likely he would begin with some
stuttering to hold back the sudden cascade of emotion. At once he would blurt
out almost incomprehensible combinations of words, that could only and be
understood by those who knew the true context. After years of financial struggle

and hardship, the wildest fancy has come true. Those standing nearby will surely
discern that something wondrous has occurred. "Dear, it happened...I can't
believe it..80 big ones and it's all ours...all ours...just what you hoped...just what
we dreamed ...and do we begin? can we begin to
ever?...oh my G-d, I can't believe it ....$80,000,000.00!!" His wife would probably
join in echoing some refrain from his spontaneous burst of original poetry,
repeating "where do we begin? do we begin? absurdium.
What is song? Rabbi Sampson Raphael Hirsch defines it as "an inspired or
rapturous expression of what some external event has revealed to the inner self,
that which the physical eye can not see, but what has become clear to the mind's
Perhaps this helps to explain why "The Song" of the Jewish nation by the sea is
written in a block form with intermittent open spaces. Sometimes the silence of
what is not said is often more profound than what is actually expressed. The
"bank account" of emotions and ideas is an ocean compared to the few drops of
ink scrawled on the tiny "check". When the inner world of feelings swells beyond
what the mouth can express, the result is
What was the depth of emotion which expressed itself as the Song at the Sea?
What was revealed to the inner-self in the collective soul of the Jewish Nation?
There is a controversy recorded in the Talmud regarding the scriptural book "Song
of Songs", written by King Solomon. There were those who did not want to
include it in the scriptures because its content can be misunderstood. The book is
an analogy of the love between G-d and the Jewish People in terms of the love
between man and woman. The Talmud quotes the great Rabbi Akiva who spoke in
defense of the inherent holiness of King Solomon's "Song of Songs". He said that
all of "Ketuvim" are holy and "Song of Songs" is the holy of holies.
The Torah is filled with many harsh rebukes and criticisms of the Jewish people
and it's leaders. We are called a "stiff necked" people, and almost no one, not
even Moshe escapes sharp and scathing criticism for a seemingly slight error.
One might wrongly conclude, that somehow we are the least-favored nation in
the A-lmighty's world. King David reminds us in his book of Psalms: "Praiseworthy
is the man whom G-d disciplines etc." The superficial appearance is that the one
who is haunted with difficulty and criticism is despised. That is the superficial
mask. What is the heart of the matter, however? The Song of Songs tells us that
an intense love exists deep down. The caring teacher drives the promising
student to fulfill his or her potential. Loving parents correct their child's
imperfections for the sake of the child. More love is contained on the inside than
can ever be understood by those who do not see the true context."Song of
Songs" is the expression of the inner world of feelings between G-d and the Jews.
It is the world behind the mask. That is what makes it "Holy of Holies".
The Jewish nation stood by the Sea of Reeds in the surprising repose of safety,
only a short time earlier escaping for dear life. They expressed in exalted song
their clearest cognition that the pain and suffering of the Egyptian exile was truly
not punitive, but in fact, rehabilitative. The dawning recognition of divine love
instantly eclipsed 210 years of physical and spiritual privation. This resulted in
spontaneous song. This is the essence of the song in the heart of hearts of the


Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Taken from "Min Hamaayan" by Rav David Yossef shlit"a
Laws of Doubts and Errors Which Arise During Sefirat Haomer
Regarding the common case of an individual who forgets to count sefirat haomer
one night and does not remember until the next night, the rishonim are in dispute
whether or not he can continue counting from the next night on with a berachah.
Some maintain that since the seven weeks of counting must be "temimot," whole
and complete, one who misses a day may not resume his counting with a
berachah. Rather, he continues counting without a berachah. This is the ruling of
the Mehaber in the Shulhan Aruch.
Nevertheless, if there is another factor which may be introduced as a reason to
be more lenient, the individual may continue with a berachah. For example, if one
remembers during the day that he forgot to count the previous night, there is a
dispute among the rishonim whether or not he can count during the day. The
halachah is that he counts during the day without a berachah, and from that
night on he may count with a berachah, for this is a case of a "double doubt,"
perhaps the halachah follows the opinion that each night constitutes an
independent misvah and one can continue with a berachah even if he forgets a
day. This is the ruling of the Shulhan Aruch.
Similarly, if one counts the wrong number on a given night, and remembers
during the next day, he may count the correct number during the day and then
resume his proper counting that night and so on with a berachah, since he
counted properly during the day. Furthermore, one who, during the day, cannot
remember whether or not he counted properly the previous night, should count
the proper counting that day without a berachah and should then continue his
counting that night with a berachah. However, if one counted the incorrect
number at night and did not realize his mistake until the following night, he may
no longer continue to count with a berachah.
Some communities have the custom to recite the omer counting in the morning
after shaharit, in case someone in the community neglected to count the night
before or counted the wrong number, he may now count with the congregation in
the daytime and then resume his normal counting that night, with a berachah.
Communities of Sefaradim and those of Middle-Eastern descent have adopted
this minhag, and it is, in fact, a commendable custom.
One who forgot to count at night and did not remember until twilight the next day
(the period in between sunset and nightfall), he should immediately count the
counting of the previous night, without a berachah, and may count with a
berachah that night after nightfall and continue accordingly. He should then
ensure that for the rest of the omer that year, that he will not count until after
dark (even though we generally rule that when there arises a need one may
count during twilight, before dark). The reason for this is that once he counted
during twilight for the previous day, he thus considers it daytime, and he
therefore cannot contradict himself by counting the nighttime counting during
twilight for the rest of the omer period.

If one forgets to recite the omer on a Thursday night and remembers on Friday
before sunset, he may count the omer for that day (Friday) even if he has already
accepted Shabbat, but in such a case where he did accept Shabbat, the omer
should be counted without a berachah. Later that night he may resume his
normal counting with a berachah.
If late at night someone cannot remember whether or not he counted the omer,
he should count without a berachah, and the next night he resumes his normal
counting with a berachah.
Rabbi Yehiya Saalah zs"l
Friday, 28 Nissan marks the anniversary of the passing of the saintly Rabbi Yehia
Saalah zs"l, more commonly known as "the Mahari"s," or by his work, "Pe'ulat
Sadik." He was one of the great spiritual giants of Yemen around two hundred and
fifty years ago. His father was the renown Rabbi Yosef Saalah and his grandfather
was the author of "Peri Sadik." His Bet Midrash featured the "Yeshivah Kelalit"
which continued uninterrupted since the beginning of the Jewish settlement in
Yemen, before the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash, except during the
period of "Galut Muza" when the Yemenite Jews were exiled to a desert island. As
soon as they returned to their land they reestablished their yeshivah, first in the
"Alshich" synagogue, and subsequently in the Bet Midrash of the Mahari"s. From
that point on the yeshivah was called by his name, and he recorded the
"hiddushim" which were said in that yeshivah.
The Mahari"ss was the spiritual shepherd of the Yemenite community and his
works on Tanach, halachah, and tefilah constitute the corner stone of scholarship
for Yemenite Jewry. His works, "Es Haim," "Pe'ulat Sadik," "Zevah Todah," and
"Helek Hadikduk" are fundamental works regarding halachah and minhagim of
the Yemenite community. "According to the ruling of the Mahari"s it is worthy to
instruct for practice of halachah, for his strength was great, and, as it is known,
he was the leader of the entire exile, and from his teaching we should not budge"
(from a "teshuvah" of the rabbis of Sina, cited towards the end of "Sh"ut Divrei
Hachamim"). "Who is greater than the Mahari"s in his proficiency regarding the
customs of Yemen!" (taken from "Sh"ut Ten Tov, 3). "The rabbi, the prodigy of his
generation, who uproots mountains with his wisdom, the head of the court and
yeshivah of Sina, from whose waters we drink to this very day, who dug countless
wells and gave others to drink from the waters of his Torah, his rulings, responsa
and commentaries on the prayers according to the tradition of our forefathers,
the great rabbis of Sina - there is no one like him in this generation" (Sefer
Hamahshavah, p. 131). Recently, Rabbi Yisshak Rassaabi shlit"a arranged the
rulings of the Mahari"s according to the order of the Shulhan Aruch with an
expanded commentary, in which all Torah scholars can rejoice.
"He Changes the Sea into Dry Land"
Through the plagues in Egypt, the Al-mighty demonstrated that He controls the
entire universe, on the land, in space, and in the waters. He changed the waters
in Egypt to blood, the dust of the earth to lice, He darkened the luminaries, He
showed that everything is in His hands like clay in the hands of the craftsman, as
He said, "In order that you know that the world is Hashem's." Apparently, though,

all this was not enough. Even after the ten plagues, He brought Benei Yisrael and
the Egyptians to the shore of the Yam Suf to show them yet another great miracle
- the splitting of the sea. What does this miracle add beyond what was
experienced during the ten plagues in Egypt?
Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky zs"l offered an interesting answer. The pasuk states,
"For in six days Hashem made the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything
contained therein." This pasuk seems redundant. Once it already mentions "the
heavens and the earth," why does it specify "the sea"? Apparently, the sea
constitutes an independent creation unto itself, a world of its own. Indeed, the
Gemara states, "Everything which is on dry land is contained within the sea."
Hashem placed a limit on how far the waters of the ocean can extend, because
each world has its boundaries, and one cannot intrude upon the boundary of the
Therefore, during the plagues the Creator demonstrated that He rules over each
universe. He turned the waters of the river to blood, and the dust on the ground
to lice. Now, at the Red Sea, He showed that the border which sets the ocean
apart from the dry land can also be crossed at His command. He changed the
waters to dry land and then, once again, changed the land back into a sea. He
thus demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that no law of nature is
beyond His power. Blessed is He, Who does everything according to His will!
Flashback: The young boy, Naftali,, was on his way to stand trial in the capital
city for injuring a general during a game. He and his guard encountered a terrible
storm and found refuge in the home of a Jew who managed to save Naftali and
kept him in his house so that the boy can study Torah unencumbered. When the
boy reached adulthood, the man offered his daughter in marriage. Naftali asked
for some time to think about it, and the next day, when the man returned to get
an answer, he found the boy crying bitterly, begging from invisible people that
they let him agree to the marriage.
"Where are they? Where did they go?" he asked in terror. The boy raised his
head. His eyes were red and watery from crying. "Who?" he asked, rising
respectfully. "Please, sit," said the man. "Before I came in you were talking to
people. Who were they?"
The boy turned pale. He kept silent for a moment and then responded, "From the
moment you offered your daughter in marriage, I have had no rest. I feel that
from Heaven they are warning me not to accept the offer, this is not my rightful
partner. They demand that I answer no. But I cannot listen to them, for Hazal say
that one who opens who doors for another the beneficiary owes his life to his
benefactor. You saved my life, graciously opened your doors for me, and withheld
nothing from me. But they insist that I answer in the negative." The boy was torn
between expressing his gratitude and the demands he has been hearing.
The man approached the boy, hugged him warmly, and said, "My son, I know that
you have a clean, precious soul. It is not for naught that I have chosen you as my
son-in-law. I knew that my daughter would find happiness in your home, and that
she would inherit both worlds if she builds her home with you. But if in the
heavens this match has been disqualified, how can we force it? Do not disobey

those who warn you to refuse. Hashem, who finds matches for everyone, will find
for each person their appropriate mate.
To be continued...
Datan and Aviram on the Shores of the Sea
Once, the great "maggid" of Yerushalayim, Rabbi Shabtai Yudleviss zs"l, gave a
"derashah" in which he cited Hazal's comment that when Benei Yisrael left Egypt,
Datan and Aviram were left behind. They separated themselves from the rest of
the nation and decided to remain in Egypt, under the care of Pharaoh. To the
contrary, when the nation turned around as Hashem had commanded, in order to
trap Pharaoh, they interpreted this move as the loss of their trust and advised
that Pharaoh chase after them to return them to their servitude. The end of the
story is known to all. Pharaoh drafted his army and chased after Benei Yisrael,
right into the sea. The walls of the sea descended upon them, and the Egyptians
received their due punishment. The eyes of Datan and Aviram opened as they
recognized their new reality. They decided once and for all to join Benei Yisrael,
the nation surrounded by the Clouds of Glory, led by the pillar of fire, with
Mosheh at their head, the glory of Hashem hovering over the people. They left
Egypt and arrived at Yam Suf. They stood on one side, the rest of the nation on
the other.
The sea, which split before Mosheh and the rest of the people, split once again
for Datan and Aviram, the two Jews who turned their backs on their people and
then, after defeat, decided to rejoin.
When the maggid finished his speech, one person in the audience turned to him
and asked for the source of this story. Rabbi Shabtai remarked that he does not
remember. He said that he had heard it once, but does not recall the source.
However, he said he would ask his father, Rabbi Shemuel Aharon Yudleviss zs"l,
who would certainly know the source. Rabbi Shemuel Aharon answered, "This is
cited in the work, 'Sse'enah Ur'enah,' in the section for the seventh of Pesah, in
the name of the Midrash."
This Midrash could have easily been written regarding our generation. So many
Jews stand opposed to the authentic Judaism and proudly wave the banner of the
foreign culture. They prostrate themselves before this lifestyle and virulently
condemn the religious community. However, the day is not far in coming, when
their idols will be destroyed and they will decide once and for all to join us, to
return to our camp. Hashem Himself will pave the road of their return, and we will
accept them with love and affection.
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Holy Bodies (part III)
Aaron: According to this concept of physical holiness, it follows that when there
are more Jews, there is more holiness.

Mr. Goodfriend: "One who does not engage in the begetting of children causes
the Schechinah to depart from Israel; for it is written: 'To be to you a G-d, and to
your seed after you' (Beresheet 17:7)....When your seed does not follow, (when
you have not begotten children) upon whom should the Shechinah rest? On trees
or stones?" (Yebamot 64a). The concentration of G-d's holiness upon this earth
depends on the number of Jews. Because of this even the eminently righteous
king, Hizkiah, was at first condemmed by G-d to death and to loss of the afterlife:
"You are dying, and shall not live." (II Kings 20:1) Because his preoccupation with
the dissemination of G-d's Torah had made him to busy to take a wife. The
necessity of spreading the Shechinah by means of the sacred presence of Jews is
encumbent even on those engaged in the holiest of pursuits. Only when Hizkiah
accepted this duty, was the decree retracted (Berachot 10a), because they alone
are "A nation of priests and holy people" (Shemot 19:6), they alone are permitted
to enter the sanctuary of Shabbat, which they erect every week, by abstaining
from the 39 forms of work by which the Sanctuary of the Mishkan was fashioned.

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Parashat Tazria - Metzorah

"Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon and said, 'When you come to the land of
Canaan which I give you as an inheritance, and I will place a plague of leprosy in
a house of the land of your inheritance..." What kind of news is this? It is as if the
Al-mighty were saying, "I am about to give you a gift, which will result in more
trouble and crisis!" The Or Hahayim zs"l asks, "Is this a piece of information [that
Hashem will afflict Benei Yisrael's homes with leprosy]? The pasuk should have
stated, 'If there will there be an affliction in the walls of a house in your
inheritance,' as the Torah states regarding the other forms of leprosy!"
Hazal's comment on this pasuk is well-known. When the Canaanites learned that
Benei Yisrael were to inherit their land, they concealed their treasures deep
inside the walls of their homes throughout the forty years that Benei Yisrael
wandered in the wilderness. When Benei Yisrael came and occupied the land,
they settled in those homes, never even imagining that valuable treasures are
hidden within the walls. The Al-mighty afflicted the walls with leprosy. So much
anguish must have been felt, so many tears must have been shed when the
owner discovered the blemish, resulting in the house having to be torn down.
Only later were the treasures found, and only then did the owner realize that
even this, too, was all for the best.
This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of our state. Hazal
consider fifty years as comprising a "world," a lifetime. Like every person, the
state experienced illnesses of childhood, the rebel tendencies of adolescence,
and difficulties of adulthood. There is now a feeling that the state begins to suffer
from the fatigue of old age, in the spirit of the pasuk, "At fifty years old he [the
Levi] will return from his duty of labor and will not work anymore" (Bamidbar
8:25). People claim that the joy and celebration are artificial, and, in reality,
sadness has replaced our enthusiasm.
What happened? Why is it that fifty years ago the nation burst out into the
streets with song and dance, despite the fact that there was not all that much to
celebrate? Recall that seven powerful Arab nations stood prepared to attack, the
economy was in shambles, the Arab boycott strangled our country, new
immigrants lived lives of poverty as people worked laboriously to scramble for a
living. Yet, there was genuine joy. For what, for the "national home" which was
now secured and, once and for all, built upon our homeland. Indeed, this was the
cause of the joy then and, truth be told, this is the reason for its demise now, fifty
years later. Scholars have uncovered many grave errors and miscalculations of
the early leaders of the state, mistakes which were paid for in blood and money.
Furthermore, they discovered that the attempt to "settle in the Canaanite
homes," to assimilate and become one with the other nations of the world, to
introduce Western culture into our land - these schemes were unsuccessful. This
generation has grown children bereft of values, detached from their heritage,
foreign to their own parents. A pleasure-seeking generation has grown, whose
heroes are the computer experts and whose idols are addicted to drugs. These
are not the children for which we hoped, this is not what we had in mind.
The "kibbussim" have become real estate businesses, agriculture has become
just an ordinary field of study, the children raised in the kibbussim have fallen far
short of expectations. What is there to celebrate? How can we rejoice when the
dream for which so many gave their lives seems to be dwindling?

However, fifty years is a rather short period of time when dealing with an eternal
nation, and it represents just a brief moment even in the life of a state. In the
broader perspective, we stand at the forefront of a process, we are watching it
unfold. True, the mood is melancholic. True, the hopes of many have backfired
and have been frustrated, the cracks in the house have split open. However,
deep within those cracks, behind the destruction, there lies a treasure. Just like
the events 3300 years ago when Benei Yisrael's homes were afflicted with
"sara'at," we look beyond the disappointment and the unfulfilled dreams. The
nation conducts an intense self-introspection and reveals a great treasure. It
becomes clear that one needs to trust only in Hashem Himself, only His shield of
faith protects us. We begin to recognize that a national home not built upon
foundations of religion relies upon flimsy planks. The nation reveals the treasure
which lies beyond the destruction and returns to its heritage. It returns to its
roots, to its basic essence, and it continues to fuel the flames of faith with the
Jewish spark which will never be extinguished.
And thus, fifty years later, there is good reason to rejoice.
One who looks around and sees the spiritual revival, the continued growth of
shi'urei Torah in the yeshivot, the waves of teshuvah and return to tradition,
realizes that we stand on the brink of a new age, an age of spiritual
independence. The next fifty years should be ones of blessing and prosperity,
years of massive return to our national heritage, and the restoration of the glory
of the Torah to its proper stature.Y
The wonders of the creator
The Stomach
A common Hebrew expression says, "The army marches on its stomach." In a
sense, it could be said, "The world marches on its stomach." Among the most
fascinating features about the human stomach is the liquid it produces.
This liquid breaks down the food. It turns even the hardest substances into a
smooth texture with no form. This liquid is so potent that a single drop of it which
comes into contact with the human skin will leave a wound, the same effect as
boiling water. And yet, surprisingly, the stomach withstands the pressure of these
juices. Obviously, all this has been carefully designed by the Al-mighty. Despite
the fact that we have learned a lot about the human digestive system, the most
critical piece of information remains a mystery: how does the food we put into our
mouths become blood, flesh, bones, teeth, hair, and fingernails? As Jews, we
recognize that just as food strengthens the body, so do Torah and misvot sustain
the soul. Just as we cannot explain how food turns into blood, flesh, etc.,
similarly, it is not easily understood how one's soul is nourished by Torah and
misvah observance. Just as an intelligent person would not refuse to eat until he
fully understands how the food is transformed into blood and flesh, it is likewise
absurd to claim that first a person must understand how the soul is nourished
before keeping the laws of the Torah. Food of the spirit does, however, have one
advantage over food of the body: the more a person eats, the excess quantity of
food does not help him understand the secrets of digestion. Regarding Torah,
however, the more one observes the missvot and studies Torah, the more he will
understand that "they are our lives and the length of our days."
The Repaid Debt
a continuing saga (part fifteen)

Naftali insisted that his host calculate all the expenses incurred on his behalf.
"Even if you are not prepared to accept a reimbursement - and, to be honest, I
have not a penny to give - I want to know the precise sum. This is not so that I
know how much I owe you, because, honestly, this cannot be calculated in terms
of money!"
The man agreed and sat down to do the calculation. Needless to say, the
expenses amounted to a huge fortune. He presented the bill to Naftali,
emphasizing that he will in no way accept any payment for the tremendous
missvah which he merited to perform.
Naftali thanked him from the bottom of his heart, and left him with emotional
words of thanks. He thanked the man's wife, as well, blessing them that the
Almighty should soon find them a suitable match for their daughter, that they
marry her off in prosperity and joy. With tearing eyes and blessings, the host and
his wife went to escort this young man who had illuminated their home over the
last few years.
Naftali entered a yeshivah and his broad knowledge, sharp mind, and fine
character turned him into the top student in the yeshivah. His remarkable
diligence and intense tefilot, his impeccable fear of Heaven and superb qualities
earned him quite a reputation. Soon enough, he was married and continued his
Torah studies with sanctity and purity. His name became quite famous, and he
was invited to be the rabbi of Pozna and its environs. There he established a
yeshivah, to which students flocked from near and far.
The girl, the daughter of his former host, also found a match, a deserving young
man from a good family, and the father-in-law guaranteed the couple three years
of support. Those three years were very special, but, soon enough, they came to
a close....
to be continued
The Golden Column
Rabbi Yis'hak Alfasi zs"l
This Wednesday, 10 Iyar, marks the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Yis'hak
Alfasi zs"l, more commonly known as "the Rif." He passed away in Spain around
nine hundred years ago, in the year 4863.
The Rif was born in Algeria and studied in Kiroan. He was a student of Rav Nissim
Gaon and Rabbenu Hananel. He settled in Fez, Morocco, and for this reason he
was known as "Al-fasi." At the age of seventy-five, he was forced to flee to Spain
to escape false accusations against him. He was installed as the head of the
yeshivah of Rabbi Yis'hak Ibn Giat in Alisanah.
The Rif was a contemporary of Rashi. While Rashi composed his enlightening
commentaries on Tanach and the Talmud, the Rif wrote "Sefer Hahalachot"
according to the order of the Talmud. He included in this work only the
conclusions of the sugyot in the Gemara which are relevant for practical
purposes. He omitted the Talmudic discourse, disputes, and proofs back and
forth. The Rambam zs"l, who was the student of the Rif's student, testified about
himself that he did not deviate from the rulings of the Rif more than twelve times.

The Raavad zs"l wrote, "I rely on the words of the rav [the Rif] even when he says
about the right that it is the left."
Much later, when the Bet Yosef composed his masterpiece, the Shulhan Aruch, he
based himself upon three pillars of halachah, on which all of Am Yisrael relies, the
first of which being the Rif. The other two were the Rosh and the Rambam.
Communities from Spain and North Africa sent their questions to the Rif, and
about five hundred responsa on all areas of halachah have been preserved. Three
hundred of them have been translated in Hebrew.
He passed away on 10 Iyar, 4863. It was engraved on his tombstone, "In this
grave is buried the source of wisdom, and the world has come into blindness."
He Shall Dwell in Solitude
This week's parashah is integrally connected to this time of year. The parashah of
sara'at deals with afflictions which result from speaking improperly about others,
and during the days of the omer we commemorate the passing of the twenty-four
thousand students of Rabbi Akiva who perished because they did not treat each
other respectfully. As Hazal say, after their death, "The world was desolate."
The Torah prescribes that the messora dwells in solitude, outside the camp. He
may be compared to a boy sitting at a meal to which his father's friends were
The boy asks his father, "Father, when will they leave? I want to be here by
The father responds, "If so, then get up and leave. It is better that you go away
and be alone rather than send all these people away."
Similarly, one who spoke wrongly about others, exposing their negative qualities why should he live among them? He should be sent outside the Jewish camp, to
live by himself.
We hear from our parents of the love and harmony which characterized their
homes and communities, how they all lived together peacefully, uncles, aunts
and cousins, families working together in beautiful unity. How is it today?
We hear from our parents of what community life was, how the Bet Kenesset was
like a big, happy family, how each member celebrated with the semahot of others
and shared in their pain during times of loss and crisis. What is community life
like today?
We have heard of the mutual respect and willingness to help which was felt by
one and all, the love which governed all activities. Where did it go? How did
alienation and suspicion replace the feelings of closeness and affection? How did
alarm systems and security bolts replace the open doors of the communities of
There seems to be but one answer - our hearts have been corrupted, we have
become stingy, and we now suffer from the punishment of, "He shall live in
We do, however, have the ability to leave this state of solitude and break the
locks which isolate us from others

. If we can only show a loving, affectionate face to others, if we could only take an
interest in the well-being of our fellow Jews and treat them respectfully.
"He shall be brought to Aharon the priest"
Why is the messora brought before Aharon? Rabbi Hayyim Vital zs"l, in his work,
"Ess Hada'at Tov," explains based on Hazal's comment that the messora
contracts sora'at as a punishment for spreading lashon hara. Therefore, he is
bidden to come before Aharon, who was known as the lover of peace, a person
who constantly worked to increase love and harmony among Benei Yisrael.
Aharon would influence the messora and guide him away from his improper
traits, thereby raising the level of love and unity among the nation.
"On the eighth day he shall be circumcised"
Rabbenu Bahyah zs"l discusses the relationship between this misvah and the
parshah of the kosher and non-kosher animals which preceded this parashah. A
person digs, puts up walls, builds a roof, applies plaster and cement, and finally
moves in - only then is it demonstrated that this was the intent of all the hard
work. Similarly, when a person works a field, only when he eats of his fruit has
the intent of all the work been realized. In Parashat Shemini the Torah discusses
all the different animals of creation, and Parashat Tazria opens with the
discussion of the birth of the human being. Only when the human being has
come into existence has it been determined that the ultimate purpose of all of
creation is for the human being, so that he can fulfill the misvot.
"And behold, the affliction has not changed color"
Rabbi Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad zs"l, the Ben Ish Hai, notes that the only
difference between the word, "nega" (affliction) and "oneg" (pleasure) is that in
the word "nega" the letter "ayin" is at the end whereas the word "oneg" has ayin
as its first letter. This is what is meant by the pasuk, "A wise man has his eyes
[his 'ayin'] in his front," meaning, he places the "ayin" in front, thus changing
"nega" into "oneg." Thus, when the kohen sees that "the affliction has not
changed its color," that the ayin has stayed in its placed and the nega has not
changed into oneg, then "he will declare it impure." This is why the pasuk states,
"Behold, Hashem's eye is directed to those who fear Him, to those who anticipate
His kindness." The sadikim have the ability through their prayers to move the
ayin and transform the nega into oneg.
excerpts from Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
For Aristocrats only (part II)
Aaron: And what of the other commandments of G-d?
Mr. Goodfriend: They are not designated as signs (ot), but they are indeed
dignities and privileges. Non-Jews are not culpable for performing these acts, but
they lack the privilege of being commanded. "Greater is he who is commanded"
(Kiddushin 31a)
Aaron: Is voluntary virtue not superior to comulsory virtue?

Mr. Goodfriend: To this, there are two answers. 1) It is more difficult to do that
which one is commanded, because the Evil Inclination and the human obstinacy
are aroused. It is when some act is forbidden, or some act is obligatory, that a
counter-urge arises. "Stolen waters are sweet" (Mishle 9:17) merely because they
are forbidden. 2) In addition, the fulfillment of G-d's commandments confers an
especial aura which no voluntary act of man-made origin can confer : "You will do
all My commandments and you shall become holy to your G-d" (Bamidbar 15:40)
The Laws of Sefirat Haomer
1) The Torah writes (Vayikra 21:15), "You shall count for yourselves from the day
following the 'Shabbat,' from the day you bring the 'omer' of waving, seven
complete weeks they shall be." Hazal (Menahot 65b) have taught us the tradition
that "the day following the Shabbat" refers to the second day of Pesah, the day
following the first day of Yom Tov. And thus, there is a misvah to count the omer
starting from the second night of Pesah through the end of seven weeks.
Nowadays, in the absence of the Bet Hamikdash, when we do not have the
cutting of the omer or the omer sacrifice, the misvah of counting of the omer is of
rabbinic origin, in commemoration of the misvah which was observed during the
time of the Bet Hamikdash. This is the ruling of the majority of the authorities,
including the Shulhan Aruch. Therefore, one should omit from the introductory
paragraph ("leshem yihud...") the words, "misvat aseh," and one should simply
recite, "We are coming to fulfill the misvah of sefirat haomer..."
2) One who recites the berachah prior to the counting under the impression that
it was such-and-such day in the omer, and immediately after completing the
berachah he realizes that he was thinking the wrong day, he should just recite
the proper counting and does not need to say a new berachah. Since, as we
explained, the misvah nowadays is of rabbinic origin, we may be lenient in this
3) Before counting, one recites the berachah, "asher kideshanu bemisvotav
vesivanu al sefirat haomer." Even though the counting is of rabbinic origin
nowadays, we can still recite this text of the berachah (which implies that
Hashem, Himself, ordained this misvah) since the Torah writes elsewhere, "You
must be careful to perform all that they [the sages] teach you." This pasuk is the
Biblical source of our obligation to adhere to the dictates of Hazal. Therefore, we
recite in the berachah, "vessivanu" (and You commanded us) even with regard to
rabbinic misvot, such as sefirat haomer nowadays, netilat yadayim, and the
lighting of Hannukah candles.
4) One who is standing in a dirty place and therefore cannot recite the berachah
over sefirat haomer, should count without a berachah. Therefore, one who is in
prison should count without a berachah, rather than miss the misvah altogether.
Since we follow the principle that the berachah is not indispensable for the
fulfillment of misvot, one should count without a berachah rather than not count
at all.
5) Optimally, one should count in a language which he understands. Even when
counting in Hebrew, one should understand what he says, according to some
opinions. Others argue on this ruling.

6) Women are exempt from this misvah, as they are exempt from all time-bound
misvot. Nevertheless, women may count the omer without a berachah. According
to Kabbalistic sources, women should not count the omer, even without a
7) There is a misvah to have children count the omer as part of their education.
They should be trained to count the omer with a berachah. If they forgot to count
a certain day, they should continue counting without a berachah as part of their
8) A boy who becomes a bar misvah during the omer period should count without
a berachah from that point on. Even if he had been counting all along and did not
miss a day, since there is a doubt regarding his obligation in the misvah in this
case, he should not recite the berachah.
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Parashat Aharei Mot Kedoshim
One of the students of Rabbi Aharon zsl, author of Shomer Emunim, sent his
rebbe a deep question regarding his first work, Shulhan Hatahor. In his
response, which was published in a collection of his letters, the sadik revealed
something fascinating: You should know, my son, he wrote, that when I wrote
my book, I beseeched the Al-mighty that the answer to every question which
arises in the book should be found on the same page as the question. Indeed, the
answer to your question is found on that same page. True, it is amazing, but this
is not anything new. We have a tradition that the answer to any question can be
found in the weekly parashah, as it will always offer insight into a Torah
perspective on any issue.
The State of Israel is currently covered with flags in celebration of the fiftieth
anniversary of the founding of the state. Although fifty years is not all that much,
still, something is happening here. Throughout this period we have not lived in
peace, be it politically, strategically, or economically. The impression is that from
every perspective the blanket is a little too small. When we finally got inflation
under control, unemployment rose. As soon as we made progress securing our
borders, we faced political crises. No matter where we go, something starts to
crumble. We are in trouble if we leave Lebanon, we are in trouble if we stay. It is
not in our best interest to seal off the territories, nor is it wise to lift a closure.
Whats going on here?
The answer may be found in the parashah, and is related to the following story of
a wealthy man who had but one son. The father hired the most experienced
teachers and tutors for his son, and he adopted an orphan boy to be his sons
At first, the orphan was very grateful for this opportunity, and he studied
diligently. Gradually, however, he began feeling too comfortable in his new home,
and his enthusiasm started weakening. He caused trouble for his tutors, his
games became wild, he walked the streets and befriended the wrong crowds, and
introduced vulgar speech into his benefactors home, threatening to drag the
mans son along with him.
Upon realizing what is happening, the man immediately drove the mischievous
boy from his house, sending him to the streets whose inhabitants he had already
The orphan left the house, but the seeds of mischief which he implanted in his
friends heart grew and flourished. He, too, began rebelling against his teachers,
he behaved disrespectfully towards his parents and tutors, and, following his
friend, joined the wild street-gangs.
Eventually, the father took his son by the arm into his room, grabbed the rod and
hit him fiercely, until the boys shrieks filled the house. Only when the boy
promised to improve his behavior did his fathers anger subside.

His servant asked him, Why were you so much more angry with your son than
that orphan boy, who was the one who incited your son to behave this way in the
first place?
The father responded, That boy was a stranger - what do I have to do with him?
As long as he helped my son, I kept him here. Once he left the proper path, I let
him go. But my son is my own flesh and blood. How can I send him from my
house? I will punish him until, whether he likes it or not, he returns to the proper
mode of behavior.
Similarly, we read in our parashah (chapter 18): Speak to Benei Yisrael and say
to them, I am Hashem your G-d. As if to say, You are my sons, and I cannot
allow you to collapse! The pesukim continue, Do not do like the ways of Egypt
which you left, and do not do like the ways of Canaan to which I am bringing you,
and in their ways you shall not walk. You shall observe my statutes and laws to
walk with them, I am Hashem your G-d.
What follows is a series of warnings: For all these abominations were done by
the inhabitants of the land before you, and the land was defiled. Perhaps you will
think that if you behave this way you will be driven out, as well?
Wrong! The land will not discharge you when you defile it like it discharged the
nation before you. They were like foreign children who were then sent away. But
you are sons to the Al-mighty, and, whether you like it or not, you will be
punished until you return to the proper path: For anyone who does these
abominable activities will be cut off from their nation. Therefore, you will have
no choice but to obey. You will observe my warning not to do any of these
abominable acts which were done before you so that you will not be defiled by
them, I am Hashem your G-d. I am your father who loves you dearly, and I will
not leave you until you improve your ways and return to Me.
Parashat Kedoshim opens with the directive, You shall be holy. The parashah
concludes with the commandment, You shall be holy to Me. Likewise, we find in
the middle of the parashah, You shall become holy, and you shall be holy.
Explaining the significance for this repetition, the Midrash presents a story of a
king who owned a large wine cellar. He hired watchmen to guard the wine.
Among the watchmen were several nezirim, who are forbidden to drink wine,
while the others were alcoholics. At the end of the day, when their shift ended
and the king paid them for their work, he doubled the salary of the alcoholics.
The nezirim asked him, Your Majesty, didnt we all guard the cellar together?
Why did the others receive double pay? The king answered, They are
drunkards, and therefore had a far more difficult struggle to overcome. They are
therefore entitled to double salary. Similarly, the angels, who do not have a
yesser hara, are described with only one expression of sanctity. Humans, who
must constantly struggle with their evil inclination, receive the mention of two
kedushot - You shall become holy, and you shall be holy. Their reward is
doubled and tripled, as we fulfill a misvah each time we hold ourselves back from
indulgence, each time we observe the proper degree of seniut and sanctity.
Similarly, we might add, in the earlier generations the lifestyle more closely
resembled that of angels - the streets were clear of immodest dress and
behavior, people were constrained. Nowadays, however, the opposite can be

said. Therefore, with every limitation which we take upon ourselves, with every
added degree of seniut which we observe, our reward will be multiplied again
and again.
The wonders of the creator
The Kiwi
Have you heard of the kiwi? No, we are not referring to the fruit which has
become more and more common at our tables. Rather, we are dealing with a
strange, winged creature, who shares the same name as the aforementioned fruit
- the kiwi. The kiwi is an awfully strange bird which resides in New Zealand. Its
wings are completely non-functional and thus it cannot fly. The Creator, in His
infinite mercy, ensured that it will not have to fly. Most birds fly in order to run
away from various enemies. Others need to travel vast distances in order to find
food, while others need to travel to change climates. The kiwi, by contrast, lives
in a comfortable climate on a permanent basis with no need to migrate.
Furthermore, its food is easily secured and it faces no danger as it lives in thick
forests and remote places, where there exists no threat to its life.
The most interesting question regarding this creature is, how does a bird which
does not fly and whose vision is impaired find its food? The answer is just as
interesting. At night, the kiwi goes out using its beak like a cane. Leaning on its
beak, it walks around slowly in the dark. When its smells a worm, it thrusts its
beak into the ground and waits. When it captures the worm, he raises it ever so
carefully to ensure that it does not break on the way up. Apparently, the kiwi
prefers it food whole and not cut.
Another interesting method of the kiwi to catch food is by stamping on the
ground with its strong legs. The worms down below think that the rain season has
begun and come out of their holes, right into the kiwis beak.
We see, therefore, how the Al-mighty provides for even a bird who cannot fly and
whose vision is impaired, ensuring that it is nourished.
As Jews, we realize that the key to livelihood is held by Hashem alone, and we are
therefore not only confident that we are in the best hands possible, but we are
also careful not to violate any prohibitions, as we need merely to turn to the
source of all wealth, since prayers are always helpful.
The Repaid Debt
a continuing saga (part sixteen)
Flashback: Naftali, the boy who was on his way to stand trial for accidentally
injuring an officer, was saved by a Jewish villager who took him into his home and
supported him. When the boy reached adulthood, the man offered his daughter in
marriage but Naftali said that it was revealed to him that she is not his proper
mate. He left the mans house and joined a yeshivah where he became the best
student. He married and became the rabbi of Pozna and the head of its yeshivah.
The daughter of the man who had cared for Naftali, too, was married, and the
couple was supported by the father-in-law. Afterward, they moved to the city,
where the husband started a beverage company and supported the family

One night, the woman was walking in the street. The street was dark, and there
was not a living creature to be seen. Suddenly, she heard the sound of galloping
horses. She quickly turned to the side to avoid the oncoming carriage. Then, she
felt a pair of hands descend upon her. The horseman kneeled from his horse and
raised her onto the carriage. The horses then continued on their way to the
palace in the outskirts of the city.
Upon their arrival, the horseman called and his servant came. The foreign
dignitary gave him the woman, who had fainted, and the servant carried her
through the maze of chambers. He eventually reached an enormous room and let
her down on the couch. When she regained consciousness, she was looking at
her kidnapper. In an attempt to stall for time, she wailed in a weak voice,
Please...bring me some water. The official left the room and she looked around.
She saw his hat and jacket, and reached her conclusion. She quickly put on the
hat with its wide rim and wrapped herself in the jacket, which weighed heavily
upon her. She left the room, praying that she would find her way through the
complex without getting caught.
Indeed, her prayers were answered. Opposite her she saw a servant carrying a
torch. In the dark, he figured that the person he saw was his master in his official
garb ready to go outside. He immediately showed her the way to the palace
to be continued...
The Golden Column
Rabbi Meir Baal Haness zsl
Sunday, 14th Iyar (Pesah Sheni) marks the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi
Meir Baal Haness, one of the greatest of the tannaim. The Gemara writes
about him, It was clear to the One Who created the world that there was none
like Rabbi Meir in his generation.
Why was he called, Baal Haness (the Master of the Miracle)? Rabbi Meir was
married to Beruriah, the daughter of Rabbi Hanina Ben Teradyon, one of the ten
martyrs. The government ordered his and his wifes execution for teaching Torah
publicly. They decreed that his daughter should live a life of shame. Beruriah
asked her husband to save her sister. He disguised himself as a Roman
horseman, took a bag of gold coins, located the place where his sister-in-law was
held captive and offered the money as a bribe to the guard. The guard replied,
When my supervisor comes, he will notice one missing and kill me. Rabbi Meir
answered, Take half the money for yourself, and use the other half to bribe the
officials. The guard continued, And when there is no more money, and the
supervisors come - then what will I do? Rabbi Meir answered, Say, The G-d of
Meir - answer me! and you will be saved. The guard asked, And how can I be
guaranteed that this will save me? Rabbi Meir replied, Look - there are maneating dogs over there. I will go to them and you will see for yourself. Rabbi Meir
walked over the dogs and they ran over to him to tear him apart. He cried, G-d
of Meir - answer me! and the dogs retreated. The guard was convinced and gave
him the girl. When the group of supervisors came, the guard bribed them with
the money. Eventually, the money was used up, and it was publicized what had
happened. They arrested the guard and sentenced him to death by hanging.
They tied the rope around his neck and he said, G-d of Meir - answer me! The

rope tore, much to everyones amazement. He told them the incident, and they
went after Rabbi Meir. The guard was saved.
From then on, we have a tradition that when a Jew finds himself, Heaven forbid,
in any sort of crisis, he should give charity for the benefit of Torah students in
Israel, which ever yeshivah it may be, and should dedicate the charity in memory
of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness. He should then say, G-d of Meir - answer me! G-d of
Meir - answer me! and will merit salvation from his crisis.
Do not conduct yourself as a tale-bearer among your nation
The Rambam writes (Hilchot Deiot chapter 7), One who speaks gossip about
another violates a negative commandment and causes the killing of many Jewish
souls. Therefore, the Torah writes immediately next to [the prohibition of talebearing], Do not stand idly by the blood of your brother. A tale-bearer is one
who collects information and goes from one person to another, even if it true.
This is a most severe sin, which is included under this prohibition, and this is what
is known as lashon hara. This refers to one who speaks badly about another, even
if he speaks the truth.
Do not hate your brother in your heart
Rabbi Yishak Abarbanel zsl connects these pesukim together: Do not conduct
yourself as a tale-bearer among your nation, do not stand by idly over the blood
of your brother, do not hate your brother in your heart, and not bear a sin over
him. First, there is a prohibition to fight and cause embarrassment or murder.
And even should the tale-bearer himself violate this prohibition, and tells
someone that somebody else spoke wrongly about him, the victim should not
hate him. Rather, he should approach him peacefully and clarify the issue, and
more often than not he will find that the rumors had distorted the facts.
Do not take revenge and bear a grudge against other members of your nation
Rabbi Moshe Alshich zsl continues to connect the next few pesukim: You shall
reproach you friend and not bear a sin over him; do not take revenge or bear a
grudge against other members of your nation, and you shall love your neighbor
as yourself, I am Hashem. In other words, if someone shared with you gossip,
telling you that someone spoke wrongly about you, do not decide automatically
that he has wronged you, before you approach him to discuss the matter. And
even should it turn out that it was true, still, Do not take revenge or bear a
grudge, do not hate him. Why? You shall love your neighbor as yourself remember that he is your friend, as you, too, most likely spoke improperly about
another at some point.
How to Earn the Blessings of Heaven
Our parashah presents the prohibition of speaking lashon hara, a prohibition
about which Hazal remarked that all the misvot which a person performs
throughout his life can turn into ashes as a result of this sin, the sin of
inappropriate speech.
In general, we can say that any derogatory speech about another is considered
lashon hara. Furthermore, very often this also involves the prohibition of
embarrassing another (if the slander was said in his presence), or libel (if the

rumors being spread are false). The Hafess Hayyim zsl counts in the introduction
to his book no fewer than seventeen negative commandments and fourteen
positive commandments which are related to lashon hara, not to mention the
verse, Cursed is the one who smites his friend in secret, about whom the
Gemara (Shavuot 36b) says that he is cursed and excommunicated.
Masses of Jews flocked to Radin, the hometown of the Hafess Hayyim, to receive
his blessing and be saved. The sadik would say, Why do you come all the way
here? You spend so much time and money, and who knows if they will, in fact,
listen to my prayers on your behalf in Heaven? Who knows if my words will bring
you blessing? You have the capability to receive the blessing from Hashem
Himself, without all the effort and money of travel, if you would only guard your
tongues against evil speech. The Torah presents a blessing corresponding to
every curse. Therefore, there is a blessing for those who do not smite their
friends with their tongues. But if you do not guard your tongues from evil speech,
and you enter the curse of those who speak inappropriately about others, then no
blessing of a sadik will help you!
And, in truth, he would point out, guarding our tongues is not all that difficult. It is
permissible to say everything as long as we omit the identity of the person about
whom we are talking. In this way, the speech will yield no harm. Let us accept
upon ourselves to be careful and stay away from derogatory speech about
others, not to harp on the faults of others and not to take revenge from them.
Certainly, we must never embarrass another. In this way, may we merit the
blessings of Heaven which will accompany us in everything we do!
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlita
Aristocracy of commandments (part I)
Aaron: What is meant by the expression holy to your G-d?
Mr. Goodfriend: It denotes the personal aura which brings one closer to G-d.
Therefore, He relates His words to Jacob; His statutes and judgements to Israel;
this He did to no nation (Tehillim 147:19), An Israelite that sinned, is still an
Israelite. (Sanhedrin 44a) because he is still obligated in all commandments; but
one who is deprived of the obligation of even one Mitzvah loses the name of
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlita
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlita
The Laws of Sefirat Haomer
1) Sefirat haomer should be recited standing. Hazal found an allusion to this
halachah from the pasuk, From when your sickle begins on the grain, begin to
count... The word, kamah (grain) may be read, komah, implying an erect
position. In any event, one who counted sitting has fulfilled his obligation and
does not need to count again. Therefore, an elderly or sick individual who has

difficulty standing may count sitting (even lechatehilah), as is the case

regarding other misvot which are to be recited standing (hallel, milah, etc.).
2) The misvah is for each individual Jew to count himself, as the pasuk about
sefirat haomer is written in plural form, suggesting that all members of the Jewish
people must count the omer. Nevertheless, one can fulfill his obligation through
the counting of another if both parties had in mind that the single counting
should fulfill the obligation of the listener.
3) The counting is to be done at night. Ideally, it should be done after nightfall,
approximately eighteen minutes after sundown. However, a congregation which
concluded Arbit services immediately after sundown but before nightfall, a
period about which we are unsure if it is night or day, and there is a legitimate
concern that members of the community will forget to count later, they may
count then with a berachah. However, under no circumstances may they count
the omer before sundown, even on Erev Shabbat after services if the sun has not
4) One who forgets to count the omer at night but remembers the following day
and counts then without a berachah, may continue counting throughout the rest
of the omer with a berachah. However, if the individual failed to count a complete
day, he may no longer continue counting with a berachah, for the Torah requires
that the counting be complete. The same applies to one who counted incorrectly
and did not correct his mistake throughout the entire day. He, too, may no longer
count with a berachah.
5) One who is in doubt whether or not he counted on a given night, and knows
that he did not count during the following day, he may continue counting the
next night with a berachah, since we have a double doubt. Since there are some
views that this misvah is Biblical even today in the absence of the Bet
Hamikdash, we may rely on the double doubt and continue counting with a
6) When who realizes during twilight (between sundown and nightfall) that he did
not count the previous night or that entire day, should count immediately without
a berachah and should then wait until after nightfall and count with a berachah.
7) One who counted the days but did not properly count the weeks may continue
counting with a berachah.
8) One who is unsure of the day to count and has no way of clarifying what day it
is in the omer should not count, as a doubtful counting is not considered a
counting at all. If, however, he counted without a berachah and discovered on the
following day that he was correct, he may continue counting with a berachah


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Parashat Emor
Hashem decreed to Avraham, "Your offspring will be foreigners in a foreign land,
where they will be enslaved and tortured for four hundred years." Ya'akov and his
children went down to Egypt, and Levi outlived the rest of his brothers. As long as
he lived, the slavery did not begin. Once he died, Pharaoh asked for volunteers to
help with construction. Benei Yisrael, demonstrating their good citizenship, were
the first to volunteer. Only the tribe of Levi did not get involved, as they were
busy with other pursuits. They had a scholarly tradition, even before the giving of
the written Torah. Avraham had a Masechet Avodah Zarah with four hundred

chapters. Their tradition contained secrets and mysteries of wisdom which were
transmitted from the forefathers. The result was that the volunteers were turned
into slaves, while only the tribe of Levi was free to continue their studies.
This tribe produced Amram, the Torah leader of his generation, and his sons were
Moshe and Aharon. When the nation was redeemed by the Al-mighty, this tribe
merited special closeness to Hashem, and they became the tribe which would
serve Hashem in the Bet Hamikdash. They earned a special place in the camp, as
they were situated around the mishkan. From this tribe, Aharon and his sons were
chosen as the kohanim, and they were to abide by special guidelines which are
presented in our parashah. The nation was instructed to show respect to this
group of kohanim - "You shall sanctify him, for the bread of Hashem he offers. He
shall be sacred to you, for I, Hashem who sanctifies you, is Holy." Rashi explains
that this pasuk obligates the rest of the nation to honor the kohanim with special
rights, as being the first in all sorts of activities.
In seven years, Benei Yisrael conquered their land, and they spent the next seven
years dividing the property. They planted fields and vineyards, they plowed and
sowed, planted and harvested - as the tribe of Levi sat off to the side. They
received ready-made cities and did not participate in the cultivation of the land.
Rather, they were immersed in the study of the Torah. They studied and taught,
the fulfillment of Moshe's blessing to them, "They will teach Your laws to Yaakov,
and Your Torah to Yisrael." Their livelihood was provided by the Jewish farmers
who, after completing the harvest of their grain, vineyards, and olives, brought
terumah and ma'aser to the kohanim and levi'im. After their trees bore fruit, they
brought "bikkurim" to the kohen. When their sheep or cattle gave birth to a
firstborn, it was given to the kohen. When they slaughtered an animal, the kohen
received a portion. When a Jew offered a sacrifice, the kohanim received a
portion. And yet, no political leader ever rose and asked, "Wait a minute? How
many kohanim do we need? Why do they not take part in the agricultural efforts
of the nation? Why do the rest of the nation have to take responsibility for their
livelihood? Way back when, when they were but one family, an arrangement was
made for them. But now they are so many - how many kohanim do we need?"
Why did they never ask these questions? Because they knew the answer. "He
shall be sacred to you, for I, Hashem who sanctifies you, am Holy." The Ramban
zs"l explains, "...for through him [the kohen] I sanctify all of you." The Or
Hahayim zs"l adds, "Through the means of the sanctity of the kohen, Hashem has
His Shechinah reside in our midst and blesses us." They understood that the
kohanim give to the people far more than what the people give to the kohanim. If
there is a tribe of people which dedicates itself to Torah and pure worship of
Hashem, it shines upon all its surroundings and has an effect upon all the other
tribes. The Gemara (Berachot 63, cited by Rashi, Bamidbar 5:10) says, why was
the portion dealing with ma'aser placed next to the section dealing with the
sotah, the infidel woman? To teach us that one who withholds his terumah and
ma'aser will, G-d forbid, experience immorality in his family.
For what does this awful punishment surface? One who does eat "tevel,"
separates his terumah and ma'asrot properly, but withholds them, he does not
give them to the kohen and levi right away, leaving it to lose its freshness - why
would he do this? Because he does not fully understand why he must include the
kohen in his work. He does not understand the bilateral agreement between
them, that he receives his spirituality from the kohen, a priceless gift of spiritual
fulfillment, and, in turn, he gives a portion of his income to the kohen.

One who fails to understand this lacks a sense of spirituality and is too absorbed
in this material world. In such a world, it is all the more likely that immoral
behavior will erupt.
The Rambam (end of Hilchot Shemitah Veyovel) applies this not only to the tribe
of Levi but to all those who apply themselves to Torah study. The more this tribe
grows and flourishes, the more the nation will grow, as they inspire their
surroundings. If someone tries to withhold their support, he testifies upon his lack
of understanding and spiritual insight.
The Wonders of the Creator
Interesting Facts About the FROG
The frog leads a double life - it can live both on dry land and in the sea. Fish, by
contrast, cannot live outside of the water. In the summer, the frog lives in the
water. Interestingly, the fact that the frog breathes fresh air while on the ground
is quite a disadvantage while it lives in the water. Underwater, it needs once in a
while to come up to the surface and breathe some air into its lungs. Otherwise, it
will suffocate. In the winter, however, the frog sinks under the brook, somewhere
under the mud, and falls asleep, just like the bear hibernates throughout the long
winter in its cave. The frog lives this way even when the stream and mud covers
it completely and does not allow the frog to pull its head out. Clearly, this "sleep"
is not your ordinary sleep. It sleeps underwater and sinks into a state of near
death - a deep sleep, where he is unconscious. It sleeps in this way for the entire
winter, and during this time it does not need to breathe any air. The frog comes
back to life in the beginning of the spring and jumps out of its "grave," the small
enclave where its spent the winter.
The Jews knows that there is no situation in which he can allow himself to fall
asleep, physically or spiritually. Service of Hashem must be performed with the
utmost awareness and enthusiasm, every moment of one's life, for this what our
Torah teaches, for our benefit in this world and the next.
The Golden Column
The Saba Kadisha, Maharsha Alefandri zs"l
After the Spanish Inquisition, the country's economy deteriorated steadily. The
Jews, with their energy and talent, were the "salt of the land," and their
banishment from the country proved fatal to the country's economic stability. The
Ottoman Empire, recognizing the treasure which the Jewish presence provides,
invited the Jews to live within its boundaries. In exchange, the Jews demanded
the right to conduct their lives in accordance with their religion and that they
would not be drafted into the army. The Sultan gladly agreed, and gave them a
signed, official agreement.
Two hundred years later, a messenger of the Sultan appeared in the home of the
great Hacham Bashi of Constantinople, Rabbi Moshe Halevi zs"l. The messenger
requested, in the name of the Sultan, to see the ancient charter which
guaranteed the Jews their rights. The reason of this request was clear and simple:
the Sultan decided to draft the Jews into his army.

Hacham Bashi replied, "I wasn't given the charter personally, and not even to the
Hacham Bashi of that time. It was given to the community as a whole. I will ask
Hacham Bashi called for an assembly, and the panic was widespread. The
Sultan's word was law, and he could not be prevented from issuing any decree he
wished, be it taxes or forced evacuation. Suddenly, the young rosh yeshivah,
Rabbi Shelomoh Eliezer Alefandri zs"l, stood and declared, "The Sultan has no
need for Jewish soldiers. This is clearly a decree instituted to coerce us to
abandon our faith. According to the halachah, we may not obey!"
Hacham Bashi heard the rosh yeshivah's "pesak" and announced, "There is
nothing which needs to be said after the ruling of Rabbi Shelomoh Eliezer. The
halachah follows his view always."
One of the prominent members of the Jewish community, who strongly supported
the Sultan's initiative to draft the Jews, was warned by Rabbi Shelomoh Eliezer to
withdraw from the discussion. He disobeyed the sadik's order, and died that day.
Rabbi Shelomoh Eliezer hesitated not a moment to enrage the Sultan or to pray
the price. He was exiled from Constantinople and became the rabbi of Damascus.
Later, he moved to Eres Yisrael and lived in Yerushalayim, where he reach a very
old age. Neither his eyesight nor his remarkable intellectual capabilities suffered
the effects of aging, and they remained intact until his final day of life, 22 Iyar,
5690, at the age of one hundred and fourteen years. He is buried on the
Mountain of Olives.
The Repaid Debt
a continuing saga (part seventeen)
Flashback: Naftali, the young boy who was on his way to stand trial for
accidentally injuring an officer, was saved by a kind-hearted, Jewish villager who
took the boy into his home. Upon the young man's departure, he asked his host
to calculate the expenses which he incurred on Naftali's account. Naftali went to
yeshivah and eventually became the rabbi and rosh yeshivah in Pozna. In the
meantime, the villager's daughter married and moved to the city. One night, she
was abducted by a horseman and taken to his palace. When he left the room for
a moment, she put on his hat and coat and sneaked out of the palace.
In the dark of night, the woman appeared in her house. Her husband was shocked
to see her, dressed in the dignitary's cloak and adorned with his hat. Before she
could tell him the story, a band of gentiles started banging on the gates of the
pub which adjoined their beverage company. The man opened the door and in
rushed an angry dignitary and his friends. The dignitary offered them all drinks
on his account, and he drowned his anger with the intoxicating beverages. He
told his friends how he captured a Jewish woman and brought her to his palace,
but when he went to bring her some water she took his cloak and hat and
escaped. When they tried consoling him, he exclaimed, "Don't you understand,
she left with my cloak! All my savings were sewn in the inside!"
The raucous group left the pub and the man went back home. He opened the
cloak and found bills of money sewn on the inside - an enormous fortune! He was
overjoyed at his wife's courage and her escape, but wondered why the incident
had happened, for what purpose did the Al-mighty bring about the scare? He
suggested to his wife that they go the rabbi, who was a saintly and pious man.

Despite the late hour, they knew he would still be awake, learning diligently, so
they set out to the rabbi's home.
They came to the revered rabbi and told him their story. He asked how much
money was found in the cloak, and they told him. He said, "I will tell you the
reason behind all this." He put his hands into his pockets and took out a piece of
paper which his benefactor had given him, the account of all the expenses
incurred on his behalf. The amount was the exact same as the money found in
the dignitary's cloak.
"Relax," he said, "from the heavens the debt was repaid."
The End!!
"Do not desecrate My sacred Name, and I will be sanctified in the midst of Benei
The Rambam zs"l writes (Sefer Hamisvot, negative commandment 63) that when
a Jew commits an averah not as a result of an overpowering drive, but willingly
and with a sense of denigration for the prohibition (as is the case regarding most
violators of forbidden speech), then he violates, in addition to the transgression
itself, the averah of hilul Hashem and must receive "malkut" for this sin, as well.
In Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah (5:10) he adds, that anyone who fulfills a misvah or
abstains from committing an averah because of the realization that Hashem
commanded him such - he sanctifies Hashem's name, and there is no limit to his
reward, in addition to the reward for the misvah itself.
"Do not desecrate My sacred Name, and I will be sanctified in the midst of Benei
The author of "Kaf Hahayim" zs"l cites (in his work, "Yismah Yisrael") a proof for
the idea posed by the Rambam, as cited earlier, from the pesukim. The pasuk
writes, "You shall observe my misvot and perform them, I am Hashem. Do not
desecrate My sacred Name, and I will be sanctified in the midst of Benei Yisrael"
-meaning, that if you observe the misvot and abstain from sins, not because of
any external reason but simply because, "I am Hashem," and you do not
desecrate My Name with foreign thoughts or inclinations, then you fulfill, as well,
the misvah of Kiddush Hashem, for which the reward is boundless.
"Do not desecrate My sacred Name, and I will be sanctified in the midst of Benei
Rabbenu Behayeh zs"l writes that hilul Hashem is the most serious of all
transgressions. Although, as we know, Hashem forgives for many serious
misdeeds, He does not forgive for this sin. Hazal write that not even Yom Kippur
day can atone for this averah, and not even teshuvah and punishments atone
until death itself. The only antidote for the sin of hilul Hashem is to affect a
kiddush Hashem of the same nature as the hilul Hashem. Therefore, the violation
of hilul Hashem is immediately followed in the Torah by the phrase, "I will be
sanctified in the midst of Benei Yisrael," like an illness which is cured only by its
reverse. In this way the person can save himself from harsh judgement and tip
the scales in his favor.

"Yisrael, In Whom I am Glorified"

In our parashah, we find an interesting halachah: a kohen who has a physical
blemish is unfit for the avodah, the service in the Bet Hamikdash. The question
begs itself, why? Is it the kohen's fault that he has a defect in his eye, for
example? Is it not enough that he suffers from the constant discomfort presented
by this defect that he is also shunned from the kedushah of the Bet Hamikdash?
Furthermore, as we know, suffering serves as a means of atonement. Certainly,
this kohen who bears the pain of his defect all day every day, unquestionably he
has achieved atonement. "Every arrogant heart is an abomination to Hashem,"
and there is certainly no more humble, submissive person than one who is
deformed. Wouldn't he be especially suited for the service? Why must he keep his
All these factors are true, but, alas, "A person sees with his eyes." If those who
come to the Bet Hamikdash see a deformed kohen, the sanctity of the avodah
would be undermined in their eyes, causing a hilul Hashem. As we know, only the
tallest, best looking guards are chosen to guard the Kennesset building in
Yerushalayim, as is the case regarding the guards of Buckingham Palace in
This concept places an enormous responsibility upon each and every one of us.
Each religious Jew serves, in the eyes of his secular onlookers, as a
representative of the Jewish religion. This is true all the more so with regard to
yeshivah students, not to mention those who hold public, religious positions. If
such a person appears with unkempt attire, if he speaks abruptly and ignores
conventional guidelines of etiquette and courtesy, he may very well cause a hilul
Hashem, a sin for which there is no atonement, regarding which Hazal have
applied the pasuk, "All those who make others hate Me love death," Heaven
forbid. On the other hand, if his behavior is proper, his appearance always tidy
and pleasant, the pasuk says, "Yisrael, in whom I [Hashem] am glorified." Such
behavior brings about a kiddush Hashem, a misvah loftier than any other.
Fortunate is such a person, who in one moment secures for himself a place in the
World to Come!
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Aristocracy of commandments (part II)
Aaron: Illustrate this. Sir.
Mr. Goodfriend: Everywhere in the Scriptures, we are called Israelites (down to
the exile of the 10 Tribes, when the remnant was called also Judeans, or Jews.
Also with the exception when eords are spoken to gentiles in the Scriptures; for
the gentiles avoided the honor-title Israel and used instead the general word Ivri,
or Hebrew).There is, however, one exception: the man who is sold into temporary
bondage is called Eved Ivri [Hebrew slave] (Shemot 21:2). This demotion is due
to his inability to serve freely his true master, for which inability he is deprived of
the privilege of one prohibition: the prohibition against taking the slave-woman.
Because he is now permitted a slave-woman(ibid 21:4), he no longer deserves

the title of Israelite. Rav Joseph, who was blind, declared: "If I should be told that
the law is not as Rabbi Judah said (that a blind man is absolved from the Mitzvot),
I would make a feast for the Torah-scholars". He would celebrate his obligation.
One Who Eats of the Seven Species With Other Fruits
The Rambam (Hilchot Berachot 8:16) writes that one who eats an amount of fruit
from the seven species which requires a berachah aharonah, and, together with
that fruit, eats other fruits which are not of the seven species, he recites one
berachah "me'en shalosh" for everything. The Rashba explains that since the
berachah me'en shalosh contains the phrase, "al ha'ess ve'al peri ha'ess" (for the
trees and fruits of the trees), the berachah covers all fruits which he has eaten.
The Semak and the Agudah (cited by the Kaf Hahayim 208:73) write differently,
that the phrase, "tenuvat hasadeh" (produce of the field) includes all products
grown from the ground.
However, this halachah applies only if the fruits from the seven species as well as
other fruits which grew on trees. With regard to vegetables, however, one who
eats fruits from the seven species with vegetables requires a separate berachah
aharonah for each item. Indeed, the Shulhan Aruch (208:13) writes that one who
eats from the seven species as well as apples does not require a borei nefashot
on the apples, for they are included in the berachah me'en shalosh for the seven
species. However, if the person ate meat or vegetables with the seven species,
he must recite a separate berachah aharonah for each. Even though the
conclusion of the berachah me'en shalosh contains the expression, "al haperot,"
which seems to include vegetables, nevertheless, Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a, in his
work, Halichot Olam vol. 2 (forthcoming, Parashat Pinhas 10) demonstrates that
that view of the Mehaber is that the determining factor is the not the text of the
conclusion of the berachah, but rather the text of the central portion of the
berachah. Therefore, since the central body of the berachah includes fruits from
trees but not vegetables, one who eats vegetables with the seven species
requires a separate berachah whereas one who eats apples with the seven
species does not.
One who does, in fact, eat vegetables with fruits from the seven species recites
first a borei nefashot, to fulfill his requirement for the vegetables, and should
then recite the berachah me'en shalosh for the fruits of the seven species which
he ate. Although the berachah me'en shalosh is considered a more significant
berachah than borei nefashot, as berachah me'en shalosh is, according to some
opinions, a Biblical requirement whereas borei nefashot is of rabbinic origin, one
should still recite borei nefashot first, because if he recites beracha me'en
shalosh first, he has, according to the view of the Semak and the Agudah, fulfilled
his requirement even with regard to the vegetables, as the phrase, "al tenuvat
hasadeh" covers the vegetables, as well. Furthermore, according to the Rashba,
the phrase, "al haperot" fulfills the requirement for the vegetables. And although,
as we have seen, the Mehaber disagrees, it is preferable to avoid this issue, and
thus recite borei nefashot first.
In summary, one who eats a quantity of apples which requires a berachah
aharonah, and he eats such a quantity of fruits from the seven species, as well,
he recites a berachah me'en shalosh, which covers both the apples and the fruits
from the seven species. However, one who eats vegetables together with fruits of
the seven species, he recites a borei nefashot and thereafter he recites a
berachah me'en shalosh.

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Behar - Bechukosai
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Parashat Behar-Behukotai
This Shabbat, we read the list of berachot which we will enjoy if we observe the
misvot as well as the opposite, Heaven forbid. Upon taking a closer look, it
becomes clear that the "tochahah" (as this section is called) divides into two
sections. The first stage of retribution for our misdeeds is suffering and anguish in
Eres Yisrael itself, Heaven forbid, through enemy attacks and natural disasters.
The second section describes the next phase of punishment: "I will scatter you

among the nations...and you will be in your enemies' land...and those of you who
remain will wither in their sins in their enemies' land..." Heaven forbid.
Why? Why couldnt all the punishments surface within Israel itself? Why do we
need to be exiled to a foreign land as part ofour suffering for our transgressions?
The Maggid of Duvna zs"l offered an answer to this question through a parable,
one which touches upon an all too familiar condition.
There was once a wealthy man who was particularly noteworthy for his
hospitality. He would invite all types of guests into his home, and he noticed a
marked difference in behavior between various guests. The peasants who ate in
his home ate large quantities of basic necessities - bread and basic cooked
dishes. They would not be satisfied with quality, salty fish and other fine foods.
Furthermore, their table manners left much to be desired. The wealthy
businessmen whom he would host as they traveled, on the other hand, were
more accustomed to fancy delicacies and were very careful about proper
etiquette as they ate. They always preferred fine china and silverware, and
conducted themselves with dignity. They were appalled by the rash, uncivilized
eating habits of the peasants, by the way they used their hands, licked their
fingers, and chewed noisily. Meanwhile, the peasants could not understand the
restrained, disciplined manners of their aristocratic counterparts. The use of
silverware seemed to them like a healthy person walking on crutches.
Therefore, the host decided to divide his table. His wealthy guests were invited to
the front of the table, where the dishes and silverware were set properly with
napkins and a fancy tablecloth. Food was served at this side of the table in
expensive, luxurious utensils. The paupers sat at the end of the table, with some
plates and cups, as bread and hot stews were served. These guests would tear
the bread into pieces and dip them into the stew, eating in their accustomed
manner and to their heart's content.
Once, as the host sat in his usual seat at the head of the table, and scores of
guests sat around, a man dressed in distinguished garb respectfully entered the
room. The host greeted him warmly and invited him to wash his hands and sit
next to him. The guest was somewhat struck by this show of respect, recited the
berachah and began eating. He noticed all the small plates of different types of
salads served at his end of the table in contrast to the plain bread, raw
vegetables and stew at the other end. He took note of how the guests on the
opposite end took everything with their hands and shoved the food into their
mouths hungrily. Following their lead, he reached over across the table, grabbed
a handful of vegetables, and stuffed them into his mouth.
"Please," send the host, "go over there and sit at the other end of the table." The
guest was so taken aback he almost choked. Insulted, he asked his host, "This is
the hospitality for which you are so well-known? Is this proper, to insult your
guest and drive him to the end of the table?"
"No, please don't be angry, you misunderstood," replied the host. "There is no
such thing as 'the end of the table' in this house. There are two sections at this
table, and I had initially thought that you belonged to this side, with those who
eat more delicately. When I saw that this is not the case, that you prefer the food
and habits of the other side of the table, I figured it would be easier for you to sit

at the other end, rather than having to reach over. This way, you can eat what
you please and how you please without any trouble!"
Eres Yisrael is a sacred land. "The air of your land is the air of the spirit," declared
Rabbi Yehudah Halevi zs"l. There is no Torah study like that of Eress Yisrael
(Beresheet Rabbah 16:7) and its air gives wisdom to its inhabitants (Bava Batra
158b). Prophecy occurs only in Eres Yisrael (Moed Katan 25a) and it is the piece
of land suitable for Benei Yisrael (Bemidbar Rabbah 63).
This is fine and good, but when is all this true? When we come to the country to
take advantage of its sacred quality, tostudy Torah and enhance our performance
of misvot, to live enriched, Jewish lives therein, to follow the path established by
our forefathers, and to continue our holy tradition. But when we live in Israel
glancing over to the corrupt behavior of the other nations, when we live in Israel
but pay closer attention to the sporting events of the rest of the world, when we
live here but imitate the dress and lifestyle of the people out there, when we
adopt all the habits and values of foreign cultures, then we are asked, "Why are
you here? You dont belong at this end!"
Let us return to our roots, to our source. Let us restore our heritage to its place,
and the Al-mighty will restore our exiles to their homeland!
Two Women At Meron
Around one hundred and thirty years ago, Rabbi Shemuel of Selonim, who was
then a young man, visited Eres Yisrael and went to Har Meron, the grave site of
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai. As he approached, he encountered two women standing
near the holy site. One was poor and embittered, whereas the other seemed well
off. The impoverished woman cried, and poured her trouble-stricken heart out to
the great "Tanna." Her husband was unemployed and her children were hungry.
Her daughter had reached adulthood but the mother cannot afford to marry her
off. When she finished her prayers, the wealthy woman turned to her and asked,
"Tell me, my dear friend, how much money do you need?" The poor woman could
not even speak. The stranger continued, "How much money do you need to
marry off your daughter? How much do you need to feed your family for a year,
or to pay your rent?" The woman was shocked and began listing her needs. The
wealthy money made the calculation, opened her wallet, took out some gold
coins, and gave her the complete amount, generously adding more to the final
The poor woman could not find the words to thank her benefactor, offered her an
emotional blessing, and left. The wealthy woman then turned to the great Tanna
and said, "This woman who was here, she turned to you for salvation, she
pleaded that you beg before the Al-mighty on her behalf. But I was in a position
to help her, and I did. I have no children. I know that you can help me, that you
can plead my case in the heavens. Therefore, just as I did what I could for that
impoverished woman, please, do what you can to help me!" The woman then
burst out in tears.
Rabbi Shemuel said that he has no doubt that the womans wish was granted.
She asked properly, and, in truth, she deserved to be answered. If she helped
another, she deserves to be helped, and, indeed, whoever shows compassion on
others - Hashem will have compassion on him. May each individual do what he
can on behalf of others, be it financially, offering a loan, or simply

encouragement and sound advice. Give a helping hand when there are difficulties
in someone elses home, take more of interest in the children, and take care of
parents. If everybody does what he can to help others - he will be assisted many
times more from Hashem, with an abundance of berachah and salvation.
The WOnders of the Creator
The Ear
The ear contains three parts: the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. Every sound which
enters the ear is amplified by the hammer which beats on the eardrum. If every
single sound would actually reach a person, he would become deaf from the
noise of the drum. Therefore, the Al-mighty provided the ear with the Eustachian
tube which is full of fluid which moderates the force of the sound. It also contains
a pipe which brings air to the inner ear. The drum can function only when there is
a balance of air pressure between the two sides of the ear, and, in effect, one
would not be able to hear properly otherwise. Inside the air lies the snail-shaped
cochlea which contains up to 20,000 fibers, ranging in size from 1/20 to of a
millimeter. They act like the strings on a guitar, which receive the sound waves
and result in what we hear as sound. These chords can distinguish between
40,000 different sounds. If they are even the slightest bit damaged, the persons
hearing is impaired. Think for a moment how smart it is that a person has two
ears, one on either side of his head, so that he can identify from which direction a
given sound is coming. We wont even get into the details of the inner ear which
affords the person the ability to discern weight and maintain his balance. If this
part of the ear does not function properly, the person gets dizzy and could even
For us, all we can do is pray that we will know how to properly use our ears, so
that we never reach the state where halachah, mussar, or wonders of nature
reach our ears with no subsequent effect. The ears must never be forgotten or
left on a passive mode.
They should be transformed into an integral part of Jewish existence, guiding us
to follow the Word of Hashem, and then will our ears have fulfilled their ultimate
The Rabbi's Blessing
a continuing saga (part one)
Three hundred years ago, there lived a poor family in Tripoli. In this sense, they
were not an unusual family, as there were as many impoverished families in
Tripoli as there were well-to-do ones. However, the head of the Goite household
was not content with this arrangement. His family's poverty and suffering pained
his heart. He thought to himself that by moving to a new location his fortune
would change. He had heard so much about the wealth of the Jewish community
in Italy, across the sea, and decided to try his luck there. He saved one penny at
a time until he finally herded his family on a ship, on their way to Italy.
The port in Triast was an exceptionally busy one, as it was the window from
Europe to other continents. There were merchants who would travel to and from
the port, many different types of travelers would pass through. The commerce
was flourishing, and the Jews took a prominent role. The Goite family arrived and
joined the huge Jewish community. However, the process of absorption was a
difficult one. The language was foreign and the job opportunities were scarce.

The father made a living by doing odd jobs and waited every day for his fortune
to change. In the meantime, he could not afford to provide an education for his
son, Yis'hak, and he had hardly enough to feed him. Heartbroken, he gave him to
one of the wealthy families in the community where he would work. There he
would be well fed and his needs would be provided. "Each week come and
receive his salary," said the man to the father.
"No," said the father passionately. "I cannot do that. Give the salary to him. Let
him save some money for his future so that he will be able to marry and build a
family, so he wont be like me, poor and distraught" The wealthy man was
overcome with emotion, as well, as guaranteed the father that he would treat the
boy kindly and graciously. Indeed, there was no way he could have treated him
The boy was constantly happy, upbeat and pleasant, with a good spirit and smile.
He was upright and disciplined, G-d-fearing and clear of all suspicions. His sweet
personality was truly a delight, and, in his innocence, never suspected anything..
to be continued...
The Golden Column
Rabbi Haim Shaul Hakohen Dweck zs"l
One hundred and forty years ago, the saintly Rabbi Haim Shaul Hakohen Dweck
zs"l, was born in Aram Soba. At the age of thirty-two, he moved to Yerushalayim
where he became a distinguished leader, the head of the Kabbalists at that time.
During the First World War, he developed an illness in his eyes, and the doctors
recommended that he travel to Alexandria, Egypt, for an operation to restore his
vision. But the great sadik refused, insisting that he would rather be blind than
leave the holy land.
Rabbi Noah Gad Weintraub zs"l of Yerushalayim, son of the saintly Rabbi Yaakov
David of Radumask zs"l, told the following story in his work, "Even Hen":
When Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Satrikov zs"l visited Yerushalayim, Rabbi Noah
Gad approached him and asked what he should name his father's work on Sefer
Tehillim, which he had arranged and was soon to be published.
Although the sadik was at first reluctant to answer, he eventually responded,
"Name the work, 'Imrei David.'"
Rabbi Noah Gad left and, on the way home, decided to visit Rabbi Haim Shaul
Hakohen Dweck. He asked him, too, what name he should give to his father's
work. Immediately, the sadik answered, "Call it, 'Imrei David.'"
Rabbi Noah Gad was stunned and said, "I just came from speaking with the rebbe
of Satrikov, and he came up with this name only after reflecting for some time. It
seems that my rabbi came upon this name with ruah hakodesh!"
Rabbi Haim Shaul agreed and said, "Indeed, this is called ru'ah hakodesh."
Rabbi Noah Gad used to say, "This is no wonder. Anyone who ascended the
ladder of Rabbi Pinhas ben Yair, step by step, will naturally reach the level of
ruah hakodesh."

"The One Who Builds Jerusalem"

This Sunday marks "Yom Yerushalayim," the anniversary of the reunification of
Jerusalem. Whose heart didn't pound with excitement upon hearing the dramatic
declaration, "The kotel is in our hands!" when the young, kibbuss-born
paratroopers broke out in tears upon approaching the kotel? How symbolic it is,
that this day occurs precisely one week before Shavuot, the commemoration of
our receiving the Torah! Only with our increased Torah study and meticulous
misvah observance will Jerusalem remain in our hands as an eternal capital. Only
then will our enemies retreat, and the Glory of Hashem will shine upon us forever.
The Bet Hamikdash, a building of fire, will descend from the heavens. When will
this happen? It will come down when it is built. From what materials in this Bet
Hamikdash built? It is constructed from our misvot, our Torah study. Each misvah
adds a brick to the edifice. Each Torah class we attend adds another dimension.
For this reason we refer to Hashem in our prayers as, "the One Who builds
Jerusalem" and "the One who redeems Israel," in the present tense, for the
Temple is built on an ongoing basis through our misvot ("Divrei Shemuel" 132).
The story is told of the "Divrei Hayim" zs"l who sat at his table and said, "The
construction of the Bet Hamikdash in the heavens has been completed. Only the
'parochet' [curtain] is missing." One of the rabbis at the table responded, "We are
confident that our rabbi, through his Torah and tefilah, will finish it." The sadik
remained silent. A little while later, he remarked, "A war is currently taking place
in the heavens, like the war which led to the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash.
Each misvah adds a brick of fire, but each violation, every act of Shabbat
desecration, every slanderous comment about another, destroys and interferes
with the construction."
As we said, Yom Yerushalayim has significance only insofar as it serves as a
preparation for Shavuot, the commemoration of our acceptance of the misvot.
Let us all increase our attendance at Torah classes and misvah observance, and
we will thereby increase the number of bricks in the heavenly Bet Hamikdash, to
bring even sooner the rebuilding of Yerushalayim!
"Hashem said to Moshe on Har Sinai"
Hazal ask a famous question: "What does 'shemittah' have to do with Har Sinai?"
Why regarding this misvah specifically did the Torah explicate that it was given at
Har Sinai? The Hid"a zs"l explains that so many Jews, due to their financial
pressures, cannot find any time to dedicate for the study of Torah. Therefore,
Hashem required that every seventh years the land not be worked, so that we
abstain from work for the entire year, and our needs will be taken care of
miraculously. In this way, we will be reminded that the key to livelihood lies in the
hands of Hashem alone, and we should therefore not be concerned if we take
from our work time to study Torah.
"Hashem said to Moshe on Har Sinai"
Although this pasuk clearly introduces the parashah of shemittah, the Kaf
Hahayim zs"l suggests that this pasuk relates as well to the previous section, that
of the blasphemer. Hazal disagree as to why the blasphemer resorted to such

behavior. It is possible that the juxtaposition of the section of shemittah to the

incident of the blasphemer teaches us that a person should not be troubled by
the fact that so many misvot - most notably Shabbat and shemittah - seem to
require a substantial financial loss. A person must never become distressed over
this loss, for one never loses by performing a misvah - he has only to gain!
"If you walk in My ways and Observe My misvot"
Rabbi Mordechai Sigron zs"l of Midenin notes that the final letters of the first four
words of our parashah spell "yamut" (will die), alluding to Hazal's remark on the
pasuk, "This is the Torah, one who dies in a tent...," that Torah knowledge is
acquired only by one who "kills" himself over it. Generally, people have sympathy
for the scholar who kills himself in the tent of Torah, abstaining from worldly
pleasures. But specifically this lifestyle is the one which brings all the blessings of
the Torah, yielding success and prosperity. "Long life is in its right, in its left wealth and honor."
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Aristocracy of commandments (part III)
Aaron: That is probably the reason why a feast is made when a lad becomes 13
years old. The commandments which he did before, he continues to do; but now
he is privileged to be obligated.
Mr. Goodfriend: And the greater a man is, the more are his privileges of
obligation. Thus a Kohen has more commandments than other Israelites, and the
Kohen Gadol has more obligations than the other Kohanim.
Aaron: But why was Israel, more than any nation, privileged with these
Mr. Goodfriend: "In the way one wishes to go, he is led" (Makot 10b). The
forefathers desired to do G-ds commandments, therefore, "the Holy One desired
to give Israel merit and therefore He increased for them the Torah and the
Misvot" (ibid., 23b). He said to Abraham, after he had made haste to sacrifice his
son ("Abraham rose up early in the morning"-Beresheet 22:3) "I shall indeed bless
you...because you hearkened to My voice and he kept My keeping, My
commandments, My statutes and My teachings" (ibid.,26:5).
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlita
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlita
One Who Eats Fruits of the Seven Species With Other Fruits
In the previous edition we explained that one who eats a fruit (such as an apple
or orange) of a quantity which requires a berachah aharonah together with a
similar quantity of fruits from the seven species (such as a date), he does not
recite a borei nefashot for the apple or orange, and the "me'en shalosh" which he
recited for the date fulfills the requirement for the apple or orange. However, one
who eats a vegetable together with a fruit from the seven species recites a borei

nefashot for the vegetable and thereafter recites a me'en shalosh for the fruit.
However, if he recited the meen shalosh first, he does not then recite a borei
Some, however, argue and insist that the aforementioned procedure constitutes
the recitation of an unnecessary berachah. Since, as stated, one who recites the
meen shalosh first may not then recite borei nefashot, why should we
recommend that optimally he should say borei nefashot and then the meen
shalosh? This view, therefore, contends that the person should simply recite
me'en shalosh and not borei nefashot. Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a, in "Halichot
Olam" vol. 2 (Parashat Pinhas 9) rules that we generally assume that in a
situation where we want to recite two berachot on different items in order to
satisfy conflicting opinions we may do so, and this does not constitute an
unnecessary berachah. Since, in this instance, the recitation of borei nefashot
would be to fulfill the view that this berachah is required, he may do so, and he
should thus recite borei nefashot followed by me'en shalosh.
Many have the custom to eat one of the items by itself, recite the berachah
aharonah, and only then proceed to eat the second item and then recite its
appropriate berachah aharonah. In order not to enter into a situation of doubt,
they avoid the problem by ensuring not to eat a fruit from the seven species
together with a vegetable. Rather, they eat them separately. This is the
preferable procedure, as it avoids all disputes.
In summary, one should optimally avoid eating vegetables together with fruits of
the seven species so as not to enter into a situation of doubt. Rather, one should
first eat the fruits from the seven species and recite the proper berachah
aharonah, and only then proceed to eat the vegetables with a borei nefashot
afterward. However, if one did eat a quantity of fruits from the seven species
requiring a berachah aharonah together with such a quantity of vegetables, he
should first recite borei nefashot and then a me'en shalosh. If he recited the
me'en shalosh first, he does not then recite the borei nefashot.

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Parashat Bamidbar
"I am Hashem, Your G-d"
Recently, an attack directed against the secular Jews in Israel referred to them as,
"Gentiles who speak Hebrew." The secularists responded with angry protests, and
many religious Jews clarified the claim. No, the secularists are not gentiles who
speak Hebrew. To the contrary, they are Jews who speak like gentiles.
Their culture, their literature, they television networks, their media, dress and
behavior, their manner of speech, terminology and expression - are all foreign to
the Jewish heritage, imported from other cultures. They, themselves, however,
are precious as gold, fellow Jews, our beloved brothers. Many were brought up
this way. And yet, eighty percent of them attend services on Yom Kippur, eighty
percent of them observe the Pesah Seder properly, reading the entire Haggadah
beginning to end. Fortunate are you, Israel, and who is like G-d's nation, Israel!
The nation - as a whole - has sunken into the depths of impurity, is chained by
"cables," caught up in the television networks, and infused by the influence of the
mass media. Our ancestors were in Egypt, so involved in Egyptian idolatry that
the accusation was made, "How are these [Benei Yisrael] different from these
[the Egyptians]?" Although they had sunken into the "forty-nine gates of
impurity," Moshe was still harshly reprimanded for his mistrust of the people
when he exclaimed, "They wont believe me!" Hashem answered him, "Moshe,
they are believers the children of believers." Indeed, the Torah later testifies, "The
nation believed."
This remarkable nation, entrenched as it was in the lowest depths of spiritual
contamination, elevated itself in an instant to such high levels of faith that they
left Egypt and headed for the desert without arranging any provisions. "So says
Hashem, 'I have remembered for you the kindness of your youth, your love of
betrothal, when you went after Me in the desert, in an uncultivated land. "

This remarkable nation elevated and sanctified itself, underwent a process of

purification and catharsis, and just seven days later experienced prophecy and
recited the song of praise at the banks of the Yam Suf. Seven weeks later this
nation was adorned with the crowns of "We will do and we will hear!" They
merited seeing that which no eyes have ever seen, to hear that which no ears
have ever heard.
This extraordinary nation, which, during the time of Eliyahu, consisted of only
seven thousand people who did not worship the idol, Baal, fell on their faces
upon witnessing the heavenly fire and exclaimed in unison, "Hashem is the true
G-d!" When Eliyahu bemoaned, "They, Benei Yisrael, have left Your covenant," he
was ordered to anoint Elisha as his replacement as prophet. Elisha would depart
this world for speaking negatively about the Nation of Israel.
Our nation always remembers those Jews who were burnt at the stake during the
time of the Inquisition. However, we should remember that the Inquisition did not
kill all Jews. Those who insisted on maintaining their Jewish observance were
expelled from the country, all their possessions confiscated. Only those who
refused to part company with their wealth were killed. These same Jews were
those who circumcised their sons at the risk of their lives, who continued to
observe Shabbat and the festivals, and, when they were caught, tragically but
heroically gave their lives "al kiddush Hashem."
This is the nation whose most ignorant people still believe in Hashem, and even
the least committed and worst sinners give their lives for their religion and will
suffer even the most unspeakable suffering rather than deny the oneness of the
Al-mighty. As the "Tanya" writes (chapter 18), it seems beyond their capacity to
deny the principle of "Hashem Echad."
This is the nation which, when it will, very soon, hear the shofar of the Mashiah,
will follow him as one person and accept the yoke of Heaven lovingly.
This nations Creator proclaimed, "I am Hashem you G-d," and promised, "I will
shepherd my sheep, and I will lie them down," says Hashem Elokim. "I will seek
after those who are lost, I will restore the wayward sheep. I will tend to the
injured and strengthen the ill" (Yehezkel 38:15).
"For He is our G-d and we are the nation which he shepherds, the sheep of his
hand. Today, if only His voice you will heed!"
"They Shall Encamp Around the Mishkan"
Profound wisdom is contained within the system of Torah reading which Hazal
have instituted for us. Each year, Parashat Bemidbar is read on the Shabbat
immediately preceding Shavuot. Apparently, this parashah contains a message
which appropriately introduces us to Matan Torah. Which aspect of this parashah
prepares us for the momentous occasion of the receiving of the Torah?
The Torah commands us in this parashah, "Each person by his banner, according
to the signs of his fathers household, shall Benei Yisrael encamp, across and
around the 'Ohel Moed' they shall encamp." They all pointed to the same
direction - around the Ohel Moed. They all encircled the mishkan, the place of
Moshe and the Levi'im.

The same approach must be taken by each individual. Each person occupies
himself with so many different concerns. He must worry about his family, his
career. He must meet his familial as well as social obligations. Indeed, without
question, everything has its proper place and time, and all these obligations must
be met accordingly. However, we must always remember that all aspects of our
life must revolve "around the Ohel Moed." We must ensure that all areas of our
lives subscribe to the strictest standards of halachah, that our Torah lives remain
at the center of our existence. Our daily tefilot are to be considered the focal
point of our day, Shabbat must be looked at as the centerpiece of our week, and
the yamim tovim must constitute the most significant points of the year. We must
live our lives around the Ohel Moed, and our existence must revolve around
Moshe and the Leviim. We must look to our luminaries for guidance and direct
our lives according to their teachings.
This is the message of the parashah. Not everybody belongs to the tribe of Levi,
one who lives near the premises of the mishkan and devotes his life to its service.
However, everybody can, and must, live around the mishkan, directing his life in
that direction.
The Wonders of the Creator
Portuguese Battleships
No, there is no mistake in the title. A certain creature living in the sea carries the
title, "Portuguese Battleship." It was entitled such because it was first seen near
the Portuguese coast, and, when seen from afar, it looks like a sailboat. From up
close, it looks like a blue balloon of about twenty centimeters. On the surface of
the water, many thin threads extend from the bottom of its body into the sea.
These threads, which resemble long worms, have the ability to extend and
contract in accordance with the needs of the given situation. The edges of the
threads contain cells of poison which look like tiny mouths. Scientists have
discovered that these strings are used to catch fish. When a fish gets caught in
the strings and comes into contact with them, it is poisoned immediately and dies
soon thereafter. The threads then contract, serving as an elevator, bringing the
victim to the upper part of the body, where the "ship's" digestive system is
located. At this final stage of the nutrition process, the fish is digested into the
body of the "ship." Interestingly, some fish miraculously lie together with this
creature, and they are called, "fish of the Portuguese battleship." They feel very
safe and well-protected in between the threads of the battleship and are fed from
the leftovers . In turn, the battleship uses these fish as bait, luring larger fish into
its trap. As Jews, we understand that whatever transpires in the natural world has
a corresponding phenomenon in the spiritual world. The poison of the Portuguese
battleship represents the yesser hara. It, too, tries to poison the spirit, attempts
to cause the person enough damage until he forgets his spiritual consciousness
altogether. The yesser hara has many ways to lure the person into its trap, just as
the Portuguese battleship lures unsuspecting victims with its threads.
The Rabbi's Blessing
a continuing saga (part two)
Flashback: The Goite family, from Tripoli, migrated to Triast, Italy. They were so
poor that they had to send their son, Yishak, to work in the home of a wealthy,
local family. The boy worked diligently and honestly, and he earned the respect of
all those around him.

Once, a delegate from Eres Yisrael, a "shadar" which stands for "Messenger of the
Al-mighty" ("Sheluha DeRahamana") arrived in Triast. He was a messenger of the
great sadikim in Yerushalayim, the great Kabbalists who spent their days and
nights in the Bet Midrash. His title, messenger of the Al-mighty, pointed to the
fact that the sacred residents of the sacred city, through their Torah and misvot,
worked to raise the Shechinah from the dust, as it were, to arouse divine mercy
on our people and bring the ultimate redemption. For this job, the most exalted
sadikim from the community were chosen, and of such caliber was the delegate
who arrived in Triast and lodged in the home of Yis'hak's boss. He showed great
respect to honor to his distinguished guest and accompanied him from house to
house to raise funds for the community in Eres Yisrael. Needless to say, his
presence made quite an impact. The wealthy host himself gave a generous
donation, and the delegate's visit to Triast proved to be successful beyond all
The delegate gathered his belongings and left his host amidst warm blessings for
success, good health and happiness. All the family members, including Yis'hak,
came to the rabbi for a blessing.
The master of the house looked at Yis'hak and chuckled. "You want a berachah?
One who contributes to the charities of Eres Yisrael receives a berachah from its
messengers. What have you given?"
"G-d forbid!" exclaimed the delegate. "There is one berachah, and let it fall upon
the head of each Jew no matter who he is. Come here, boy, and I will give you a
The boy was insulted and ran out of the room without a berachah. The host was
very ashamed at having embarrassed the kind, well-mannered boy. He decided to
speak to him and ask forgiveness. "Where did he go?" he asked everyone.
Everybody just shrugged their shoulders, nobody knew where he was.
"Apparently he was so hurt that he ran away," they surmised.
There was a lot of confusion, and the man finally suggested that a search team
be sent.
The Golden Column
Rabbi Moshe Haim zs"l
Tuesday, 8 Sivan, marks the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Moshe Haim zs"l
of Baghdad, the grandfather of Rabbi Yosef Haim, the Ben Ish Hai zs"l, who told
the following story about his grandfather.
A man once came before Rabbi Moshe Haim zs"l, claiming that another person
owed him money. The other insisted that he owed no money and was prepared to
swear to that effect. However, the rabbi sensed that the claimant was correct and
the other was prepared to swear falsely. He said, "Do you think I will let you
swear with a Sefer Torah? Not a chance. I will have you swear with the Two
Tablets of the Covenant." He called the attendant of the Bet Din and said, "Go
and dip ten times in the mikveh, and then bring me that Two Tablets of the
Covenant - they are in my room in my house, on my table."

The litigant was terrified, knowing that the rabbi does not speak falsely. He must
be referring to the Two Tablets which Moshe took from the Heavens and placed in
the ark, which was subsequently brought to Babylonia and kept there. Now, he is
forced to hold them and swear falsely. Surely, a fire from the heavens will come
down and burn him alive! Terrified, he said, "Okay, I am willing to pay, and I will
not swear." The rabbi responded, "No, you are already obligated to swear." The
other finally admitted, "Rebbi, I lied." He then told the whole story, that he had
borrowed money and denied it. As he was preparing to pay, he asked curiously,
"The Tablets of the Covenant, where are they?"
"My attendant will come back soon, and you will see." Shortly thereafter, the
attendant returned, his hair still wet from the mikveh, carrying the book, "Shenei
Luhot Haberit" which was on the rabbi's table.
From the Wellsprings of the Parasha
"Elyasaf the son of Deuel"
Later, in chapter 2, this "nasi" (tribal leader) is called, "Elyasaf ben Reuel." The
great Kabbalist Rabbi Yisrael Serug zsl suggests that Elyasaf was a sadik who
was constantly involved in meriting others and helping them perform teshuvah.
He would chastise them, saying, "Deu el" - know G-d, know that there is a G-d
among Israel. There is nothing more precious to him than bringing others to
merit, and thus the Torah called him, "Reu El," a friend and confident of Hashem.
"Who were chosen by their names"
Rabbi Meir Bikayim zs"l of Ismir, asked, since the Torah already introduced the
nesi'im - "These are the chosen of the nation" - what does this pasuk add? He
answered that this pasuk alludes to the comment of Rabbi Meir (Yoma 83b) who
would learn the characteristics of people by studying their names. The pasuk thus
veifies to us that the names of the nesi'im testify to their greatness.
"The children of Shimon...their numbers, according to the number of names"
Rabbi Azayah Menahem zsl of Pano notes that the word, "pekudav" (their
names) appears in this form only with regard to the counting of the tribe of
Shimon. The reason is that this expression can also mean detraction, that which
is lost. Thus, the pasuk alludes to the fact that in the future many members of
the tribe of Shimon would fall in the calamity of Shittim, when twenty-four
thousand people died after sinning with the daughters of Moav.
"The children of Naftali"
The Ar"i notes that in the counting of all the other tribes the Torah writes, "FOR
the children of ShimonFOR the children of Gad" and so on. Regarding Naftali,
the Torah simply writes, "The children of Naftali." He explains that first the entire
nation was counted together. Only thereafter, they identified a given number
from the overall sum to the respective tribes - "This is for Reuven, this is for
Shimon, etc." Then, after the first eleven tribes, all who were left belonged to the
tribe of Naftali.
"Everyone who comes to work in the service"

Rabbi Haim Vital zsl notes that the service of Benei Yisrael was performed in two
areas - in battle and in the service in the mishkan. The first group defends the
nations physically, whereas the second group defend us with merits in Heaven.
The first group is called, "Those who go out to the army," because they go out to
battle, and the second group is called, "who come to serve," as they gather in the
Batei Midrash and go to serve in the Bet Hamikdash.
"The banner of the camp of Yehudah"
Hazal say that when the angels descended from Heaven at Har Sinai, they came
down in camps, each with their banners. Benei Yisrael also wanted banners, and
their wish was granted. These banner serve as a show of respect for the King,
demonstrating that He has many different groups under His sovereignty. Rabbi
Yaakov Abuhassera zsl notes that the first letters of the names of the four major
camps - Efrayim, Dan, Yehudah, Reuven - spell "adir," majesty, as the camps
serve as a reflection of the Al-mighty's majesty down on Earth.
When You, Our King, Revealed Yourself at Har Sinai...
..."When the Al-mighty revealed Himself to give the Torah to Yisrael, he shook the
entire world and its inhabitants, as it says, 'Hashem's voice is on the water, the
G-d of Glory shook" (Sifrei, Parashat Berachah)
..."On the day which the Al-mighty descended upon Har Sinai to give the Torah to
Yisrael, six hundred thousand angels descended with Him, each one holding a
crown with which to adorn Yisrael" (Shir Hashirim Rabbah, 4)
..."And Har Sinai was entirely engulfed by a cloud, for Hashem descended upon it
with fire, its smoke rose like that of a furnace, and the entire mountain trembled
very much" (Shemot 19:18). "When Hashem began to lower His Shechinah, the
mountain trembled and rose to greet Him like a servant running to greet his
master" (Or Hahayim 19:20)
..."You approached and stood under the mountain, and the mountain was burning
with fire until the heart of the heavens, darkness, a cloud, and fog" (Devarim
4:11). "There were seven layers of fire, each sparking the other" (Yalkut Tehillim,
..."Immediately, the Al-mighty opened the seven heavens and revealed to them
eye to eye with His beauty and glory, and they beheld that which was not seen
by Yehezkel and Yeshayahu" (Pesikta, Mechilta 83)
..."When the Al-mighty gave the Torah, not a bird chirped, not a bird flew, not an
ox brayed, not an 'ofan' sailed, not a 'saraf' said, 'Kadosh,' the sea did not move,
the creatures did not speak, but the world was silent and still, and the voice went
out, 'I am Hashem your G-d'" (Shemot Rabbah 29)
..."The first sound ('I am Hashem your G-d') and the heavens and Earth trembled
from it, the seas and rivers ran away, the valleys collapsed, and all the trees
bowed" (Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 41)
..."Every utterance which left the mouth of the Al-mighty filled the entire world in
the heavensYisrael's souls departed, so the Al-mighty brought down dew which

would eventually revive all the dead and revived themthey retreated 12 'mil'
out of fear from the voice, and the angels assisted them back" (Shabbat 88b)
..."G-d spoke all these words," in a single speech, what a human can never do. As
the pasuk states, "G-d spoke all these words saying." If so, then what is meant
by, "I am Hashem your G-dYou shall not have any other gods besides me"? It
teaches us that the Al-mighty said all Ten Commandments in a single utterance,
and then repeated them each separately, and Yisrael could hear only the first two
commandments. They asked Moshe that he would teach them the others.
(Mechilta, end of ch. 84, Re'em)
..."These Ten Commandments, despite their being the foundations of our religion,
it is not for this reason that they were written on tablets. Rather, because they
contain allusions to all misvot in the Torah. They contain 613 letters
corresponding to all the misvot. Each letter represents one misvah" (Mabit, Sha'ar
Hayesodot ch. 11)
..."'He taught them' (Devarim 32:10) - meaning, through the Ten
Commandments. This teaches us that the speech left the mouth of the Al-mighty,
and Yisrael looked at it and knew exactly how many Midrash relate to it, all the
Talmudic extrapolations associated with it" (Sifrei, Haazinu 8) ..."The voice of
Hashem is with strength." It does not say, "His strength,' because it is in the
strength of each individual - the elderly according to their strength, the
youngsters according to their strength, the children according to their strength,
the women according to their strength, and even Moshe according to His
strength, so that nobody was hurt by the voice. (Shemot Rabbah 85)
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Yishak Yossef shlit"a
Rosh Yeshivah, "Hazon Ovadyah"
The Laws of Shavuot
1) The festival of Shavuot takes place on the sixth of Sivan, after the period of
Sefirat Haomer which extends over the seven week period after Pesah. That is
why it is called, Shavuot, weeks. Why is the occurrence of Shavuot tied to the
counting of the omer, as is not the case regarding other holidays? Hazal explain
that when Benei Yisrael were told that they were to leave Egypt, they were also
informed that they were going to receive the Torah fifty days later, as Hashem
had told Moshe, When you take the nation out of Egypt you will serve G-d on this
mountain. The word, taavdun (you will serve) is written with an extra letter
nun, alluding to the fact that fifty days after the Exodus, Benei Yisrael would
receive the Torah on that mountain. In loving anticipation of this momentous
occasion, Benei Yisrael enthusiastically counted each day after their departure
from Egypt. Therefore, we, too, observe this counting each year.
2) Optimally, one should not recite kiddush on Shavuot night until twenty minutes
after sunset. However, when there is a need to do so, one may rely on those who
are lenient in this regard and recite kiddush early, before sunset.
3) The custom has developed among all circles of Jews to stay up all night
Shavuot learning Torah until daybreak, as the Zohar writes, "The early righteous
people would not sleep during this night, and they would rather study Torah and

say, 'Let us inherit this sacred heritage for us and our children, in both worlds.'"
The Zohar further says, "Whoever observes this service on this night and rejoices
in it, they will all be listed in the Book of Remembrance, and the Al-mighty
blesses them with seventy blessings and crowns of the Upper World." The
Aharonim explain the reason for this minhag, based upon the Midrash that the Almighty had to wake Benei Yisrael in the morning with thunder and lightening the
morning of Matan Torah. We must therefore correct this mistake by involving
ourselves in Torah throughout the night of Shavuot.
4) It is proper to observe the custom of the Kabbalists and study on Shavuot night
the "Tikkun", which is published in the work, "Keri'ei Moed," and the study of the
Tikkun takes precedence over the study of Shas and halachah. However, Yeshivah
students who wish to learn Gemara may do so, as they have authorities on whom
to rely. Nevertheless, if the majority of the community is studying the Tikkun,
individuals should not leave the group to study Gemara or Halachah.
5) Those who stay awake all night must still recite all of the morning berachot,
including birchot haTorah, after daybreak. They should wash their hands without
the berachah (Sh"ut Yehaveh Daat 3:33).
6) One should try his utmost to learn Torah even on Shavuot day, as Hazal have
taught us that half of the day should be devoted to our spiritual endeavors and
the other half to our physical needs. One should read the book of Rut (without a
berachah) with its commentaries.

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Parashat Naso
Consider an individual going to the Bet Hamikdash. He cant just go - first he
must immerse himself in a mikveh. If he has a more stringent form of tumah, the
process takes seven days. The Bet Hamikdash is located in Yerushalayim, the city
which lies "before Hashem" (Devarim 12:7), the city of sanctity, infused with an
atmosphere of holiness and purity, the city in which "..everyone is involved in the
work of Heaven and the sacred service" (Tosafot, Bava Batra 21a, citing the Sifri).
From this city one ascends to the great edifice, the place which hosts the
Shechinah, as it were, and there one encounters "the great awe - referring to the
revelation of the Shechinah," as the pasuk states, " order that you learn to
fear" (Devarim 14:23), on which Rashi comments, "When you see the place of the
Shechinah, the kohanim performing their service, the Leviim singing, and Yisrael
standing [in prayer]." There is a special misvah requiring a sense of awe of
reverence for the sacred site, and thus one must leave his shoes outside,
together with his wallet and walking stick. He walks barefoot, with awe and
reverence, to prostrate himself before Hashem, to pray in the most sacred spot,
the site directed towards the gate of heaven where all prayers ascend to the
heavens and are accepted willingly. In short, the Bet Hamikdash is to the world
what Yom Kippur is to the annual calendar - sacred to Hashem, holy and exalted.
The individual would not ascend to the Bet Hamikdash by himself. Throngs of
people would go regularly, with awe and fear. Sick patients who were cured and
those who traveled across deserts and oceans go to bring their offerings.
Nazerites bring their sacrifices when their nezirut period has elapsed. Women
who have given birth bring two bird sacrifices. Others bring shelamim or sinofferings, farmers bringing their bikkurim would arrive with song and dance what a wonderful sight!
The individuals spirit is lifted to the highest and most profound levels of
spirituality, and the impression stays with him for the rest of his life: "In order
that you learn to fear Hashem your G-d all the days" (Devarim 14:23).
From the corner of his eye, he catches another glimpse, of a "sotah" being
brought to the eastern gate of the Azarah, insisting that the entire accusation
against her is false. She is even prepared to prove her case. The name of Hashem
which had been written on the scroll is erased into the water. She drinks the
water and, suddenly, her face starts changing color, her eyes bulge, she starts

bloating, and she runs out of the Azarah. Any moment her belly will swell and
burst, and she will die, amidst great pain, suffering, and humiliation. If only she
would have agreed from the outset not to drink she could have avoided the entire
ordeal. After all, there were no witnesses to the crime, it was just a suspicion.
She would have simply been divorced from her husband and have had the
opportunity to rebuild her life again. But she insisted on going through with the
test, and thereby brought about her own downfall.
This individual, who had come to the Bet Hamikdash to elevate himself
spiritually, "to learn to fear," just received a real-life lesson in the doctrine of
reward and punishment. Right in front of his eyes an obvious miracle took place,
the misdeed of a sinner was revealed before everyone, and the culprit was
punished with a painful and horrifying death. Unquestionably, this man will return
home reawakened, and he will now stay away from sin as if it were a raging fire.
Wouldnt we think so?
Not necessarily. Hazal teach us, "Why was the section of the nazir juxtaposed to
the portion dealing with the sotah? To tell us that one who sees the sotah in her
shame will abstain from wine (as he accepts upon himself to be a nazir)." Not
only will his fear of sin itself be insufficient, but he now sees himself in danger,
and must find drastic means of prevention.
Why? Because he saw. True, he saw how the sotah was punished. But the yesser
hara will lead him to forget the sight of the punishment and retain the memory of
the woman herself. How awesome is the power of sight!
If the impression is so strong upon someone who specifically traveled to
Yerushalayim to elevate himself, who undergoes an involved process of
purification, walks up to the Bet Hamikdash with awe and reverence, and comes
to the home of the Shechinah, and sees what should, ordinarily, intensify ones
Then what can be said about one who walks casually through the city streets,
sees with his own eyes the breaching of all barriers of modesty, the shameless
display of "perissut" - clearly he will not return the same as when he left. How
much "nezirut" must he accept upon himself, how many hours of "mussar" study
must he undertake!
We must remember that Hashem promised to help a person in his battle against
his drives. But this protection is not guaranteed to one who specifically places
himself in a dangerous situation. Therefore, one who does not need to spend time
in the city streets should avoid it as much as possible.
The Wonders of the Creator
Maintenance of Equilibrium
Anyone who has seen someone suffering from severe dizziness is well aware of
the critical nature of the sense of equilibrium, a sense whose value is often
overlooked while it is of paramount importance. One who is dizzy cannot stand up
straight, move his head, eat or drink, sleep, or change position. The sense of
equilibrium is the first sense of the body which develops in the human being,
even before the senses of sight, sound, and the others. Unlike the other senses
which send messages to the brain through the nerves only when they are

stimulated, but send no messages when they are not stimulated, the system of
equilibrium sends messages to the brain even at rest. Indeed, this system can
never rest, as it must operate constantly. Three other systems of the body share
the responsibility of ensuring the proper functioning of ones sense of equilibrium:
the systems of sight, sound, and the nervous system. The most important of
these in terms of balance is the inner ear, and, in fact, the Hebrew word for ear "ozen" is derived from the word for balance - "izun." These three systems work in
tandem, with help from the brain which collects the transmitters through the
nerves, and together they watch over the bodys balance and equilibrium. When
any of these three systems does not function normally, ones balance maybe
affected, causing dizziness.
Maintaining ones balance is a key concept in ones spiritual life, as well. One who
loses his sense of equilibrium from a spiritual perspective is bound to be drawn
after one fashion or another which expresses itself in how one dresses but, much
more importantly, in the form of the rejection of the misvot for the sake of
enhancing ones physical and material well-being or an improper religious
outlook. Eventually, much later, the individual will regret not having kept his
balance. So, how does one keep his spiritual balance? It would seem that one
does this in much the same way as his physical balance is maintained - through
the same three organs: by watching our ears so that they dont hear improper
speech, guarding our eyes against seeing that which is inappropriate, and proper
maintenance of the muscles, that they dont bring one to places where he should
not be.
The Rabbis Blessing
a continuing saga (part three)
FLASHBACK: The Goite family emigrated to Triast, Italy, and their son, Yishak,
was hired as a helper in a wealthy family of the city. A messenger from Israel
came to collect funds for the yeshivot in Yerushalayim and stayed at this familys
home. Upon his departure, he blessed the entire family and Yishak, too, came for
a blessing, only to be scorned by the father of the house, who claimed that
blessings are only for those who donate money and their families. Yishak was
insulted and ran away. The wealthy man regretted deeply what he had done, and
went to search for the boy.
The family scurried about frantically to find the insulted servant. They hadnt
gone far when they saw the boy marching proudly, carrying a bag. He
approached the sadik from Yerushalayim and handed him the bag. "Here is my
donation," he said.
The "meshulah" opened the bag, untied the string, and saw that it was full of
silver coins. "What are these?" he asked softly. "This is my money, these are all
my savings! Each week my boss gives me a silver coin as a salary. Please, take it
- this is rightfully-earned money!" Yishak answered.
"But," interrupted the wealthy man, "your father requested that this money
remain with you as security for your future. Certainly you want to build a Jewish
home - you dont want to be an indentured servant for the rest of your life!"
Yishak eyes glistened. "I heard the rabbi say that one who gives charity is
rewarded in double. I heard the rabbi say that the holy Talmud states that one
who gives a handful to a poor person is given by the Al-mighty a handful of

blessing. He quoted the pasuk, You shall surely give him, and your heart should
not feel hurt when you give him, for because of this Hashem your G-d will bless
you in all your deeds and in everything in which your hands do - have I quoted it
"Correctly and accurately," answered the sadik.
"If so," said the wealthy man, "then all I can do is ask the sadik that he bring
great blessing from above onto the head of the young man."
"He is blessed and shall be blessed," said the meshulah, full of emotion. Yishak
bent his head before the sadik, who placed his hands on the boys head. He
closed his eyes and said, "May Hashem open His great treasure for you. My hope
is strong that when I come next year you will donate gold coins, like your boss
Everyone answered amen and drank for the berachah.
The meshulah went on his way, and the wealthy man called Yishak to the side to
return to him the money which he had donated...
The Golden Column
Rabbi Moshe Yehezkel Salah ZS"L
Our parashah contains "birkat kohanim," the priestly blessing. Rabbi Moshe
Yehezkel Salah zs"l of Baghdad once asked his congregation, "Shouldnt the
kohanim face the aron when they recite this blessing and beseech the Al-mighty
to bestow His kindness upon us? Why do they face the rest of the congregation
during birkat kohanim?
The audience was perplexed, and could not offer an answer.
He answered with the following parable: Once a prominent man from a
distinguished background had a son who turned his ways in the wrong direction
and began acting inappropriately. Eventually, his father had no choice but to
drive the child out of his house. Rather than improving, the boy joined the gangs
in the street.
A merchant met the father and told him, "The winter is well on its way, and your
son will be sleeping on a bench in the park wearing his summer clothes. Why
didnt you give him some money so he can rent someplace to live and buy some
The fathers eyes began shedding tears and said, "It hurts me to no end, my
friend, but you are speaking to the wrong person. I am ready to give him
everything - I have an entire wing in the home ready for him. But, his
misbehavior forced me to send him away. If you are concerned about his wellbeing, speak to him, and persuade him to come back and behave."
For this reason, the kohanim turn around and face us. They plead with us, as if to
say, improve your ways! Bring the Shechinah into your lives, as the pasuk states,
"They will place My Name upon Benei Yisrael," and only then, "I will bless them,"
with an open hand!

From the Wellsprings of the Parasha

"To transgress a transgression to Hashem"
This pasuk refers to the stolen property of a convert who subsequently died.
Since the convert has no relatives to inherit him, when the thief wishes to repent
he gives the money to a kohen. Rabbi Ovadia Seforno zs"l notes that the Torah
stresses that this crime involves a "transgression before Hashem," a "hilul
Hashem" brought about by stealing from a convert, who came to reside under the
wings of the Shechinah as a Jew only to be a victim of theft and robbery. How
much care must religious Jews take, therefore, to increase the respect for
Hashem and His Torah and not the opposite, Heaven forbid.
"The sacred portions of a person shall be his"
Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel explains this pasuk to mean that one who donates
some of his belongings to charity, then besides the reward which he receives, he
has lost nothing, as that money will undoubtedly come back to him. Rabbi David
Nehemias zs"l extends this principle to all misvot, that nothing is lost despite the
high cost often involved in the performance of misvot. "The sacred portions of a
person shall be his" - they are kept for his merit in the eternal world, forever.
"A person who suspects his wife"
Rabbi Yeshuah Shimon Haim Ovadia zs"l of Morocco asks, why does this portion
of "sotah" open with the word, "ish," man, the one who was hurt by his wifes
infidelity? Should not the parashah have begun, "A woman who is suspected"
as it appears at the end of the parashah? Rather, the pasuk teaches us that part
of the blame rests on the husbands shoulders, as well. If he himself would have
observed proper modes of modest behavior in his home, events would not have
transpired the way they did. "Afterwards, the nazir may drink wine"
The Alshich zs"l has taught us that a person should never say, why should I
accept "nezirut" for thirty days, if I will be the exact same person afterward as I
am now?! (This can be applied to all temporary heights of spirituality, such as
Torah classes, etc.) The Torah tells us that this is not so, and even after his nezirut
period, when he returns to his normal routine, the impression of kedushah
remains with him, and even his drinking of wine will be on the level of nezirut.
"One spoon, weighing ten units of gold"
Rabbi Mimon Abo zs"l of Algiers cites the story in the Gemara of a person who
slaughtered an animal and another quickly came, recited the berachah over the
misvah to cover the blood, and proceeded to cover the blood himself, rather than
allowing the "shohet" himself to do so. The shohet took the other to a "Din Torah"
and the other was forced to pay ten gold coins for stealing the berachah. An
allusion to this halachah may be found in this pasuk, for a person is obligated to
recite 100 berachot each day, which is the numerical value of "kaf" (spoon). Thus,
"One spoon" - one of the one hundred berachot - is worth "ten units of gold."
Shining Our Faces
In the sacred writings of the Ramha"l zs"l, it is explained that the berachah found
in "Birkat Kohanim," "May Hashem shine His face upon you," constitutes the apex
of all blessing, as it is all-encompassing. He writes, The root of everything is the

concept of His shining His face or His concealing His face, which is, in effect, the
existence of good and evil. >From the force of this shine abundance emerges, as
does purity and endearment, and from the force of the concealment emerges
lacking, paucity and insufficiency" (Derech 5, 2-8). The Midrash comments,
"Yisrael said before the Al-mighty, All we have to ask for is the shining of Your
face, as the pasuk states, L-rd of Hosts restore us, shine Your face and we will be
How do we merit the shining of Hashems face upon us, the blessing which
incorporates all berachot and the peak of all goodness, including success and
salvation? There is a guaranteed way. As we know, Hashem treats us measure for
measure. Thus, "Whoever has compassion for other people, the Heavens have
compassion on him." Whoever shines his face to others - family members,
friends, acquaintances - Hashem up above will shine His face upon him.
Lets remember to always smile and maintain a pleasant countenance, and deal
with others patiently and benevolently. In this way, we may merit the shining of
Hashems face upon us, which contains all the berachot in the world!
Is there an easier way to achieve all this abundance of goodness and prosperity?
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Belittling Israel (part I)
Aaron: Did not Moses censure them severely for their sins?
Mr. Goodfriend: Did not G-d censure even Moses severely for sins, although we do
not understand what the sins were? "The censure is proportionate to the
excellence of the censured" (Cuzari I:93). "Whomever the L-rd loves, He rebukes."
(Mishle 3:12). Because G-d loved them greatly, He therefore censured them
greatly. Because of this great love, His prophets denounced the slightest sin with
the very worst expressions. The superlatively severe censure by the prophets has
created the impression that the generations from Moses days down to the end of
the Scriptural era were not righteous. Actually, the extreme oppisite is true.
These generations were the most exalted in Jewish history, and it is superfluous
to say that no nation or group of men in any era has ever even remotely equalled
them in virute.
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
One Who Eats "Pat Habaah Bekisnin" and Drinks a "Reviit" of Water
One who eats some "pat habaah bekisnin" of a quantity which requires a
berachah aharonah (i.e., he eats more than 27 grams in a period of time from 4
minutes to 7.5 minutes), and, together with that, he drinks a reviit of water
which normally obligates him to recite a borei nefashot (if he drinks the entire
reviit at the normal speed of drinking), the poskim are in dispute as to the
recitation of the two berachot which he must now recite - meen shalosh and
borei nefashot. Rabbi Avraham Hakohen of Salonki, in Shut Meat Mayim (25:21)

writes that since meen shalosh fulfills the obligation of borei nefashot, one
should not drink the water until after he recites meen shalosh. Only then should
he drink the water and then recite borei nefashot. However, Rav Ovadia Yossef
shlit"a in Shu"t Yabia Omer vol. 5 (17) cites many authorities who argue that
meen shalosh fulfills the requirement only for those items which grow from the
ground, like vegetables and the like. The phrase, "veal tenuvat hasadeh" (for the
produce of the field) which appears in meen shalosh, fulfills the requirement for
vegetables, as the Semak and Agudah hold regarding one who eats apples and
figs, that he does not require a borei nefashot for the apples because they are
included in the phrase, "al tenuvat hasadeh," and this is also the halachah
regarding one who ate vegetables together with fruits of the seven species.
Furthermore, the Rashbass writes that one who eats cucumber with figs needs to
recite only meen shalosh, since the phrase, "al haperot" includes vegetables, as
well. However, water obviously does not grow from the ground, and it is therefore
not included in the berachah of meen shalosh. Therefore, in our case, he may
recite meen shalosh for the "pat habaah bekisnin" which he ate and then recite
borei nefashot for the water which he drank. This is the proper sequence, since
some authorities maintain that meen shalosh is a Biblical requirement, whereas
borei nefashot is clearly of rabbinic origin to increase our praise of Hashem.
Therefore, meen shalosh should come first.
In summary, one who eats from fruits of the seven species, or "pat habaash
bekisnin," of a quantity which requires a meen shalosh, and, together with that,
drinks a reviit of water which requires a borei nefashot, recites when he is
finished a meen shalosh for the fruits or "pat habaah bekisnin" and then recites
a borei nefashot on the water.

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Parashat Beha'alotecha
The Message Of Four Pesukim
Our sacred Torah, each letter of which contains intrinsic sanctity, which is
rendered invalid when even a single letter is missing, devotes several pesukim to
a conversation between Moshe and his father-in-law, Yitro. Yitro had left his
honorable position as priest of Midyan to come to the desert and join Benei
Yisrael. Upon hearing all the miracles which Hashem had performed, he
converted. He proceeded to propose that Moshe establish an elaborate judicial
system, and the Al-mighty agreed to the idea. And so, when the people were on
the brink of entering Eres Yisrael, Moshe asked his father-in-law to join. Yitro
answered, "No, I will not go. Rather, I will go to my land and birthplace." Moshe
insists, "Please, do not leave us, for you have known our encampment in the
desert," you have seen with your own eyes all the miracles which have been
performed on our behalf, the Clouds of Glory which have encircled us, the pillar of
fire which has shown us the way, the "mann" from heaven from which we have
been nourished, the rock which has provided us with water - how can you leave
this life to return to the culture of Midyan? Come with us, "and that good which
Hashem will do for us, we will do the same good for you." Take your portion, not
only of the good which is provided for us in the desert, about which is written,
"You have lacked nothing," but in Eres Yisrael, as well, the promised land, you will
receive your portion!
And so, was Yitro convinced? The Torah, which had allocated four pesukim, sixtyfive letters, for this dialogue, didnt see fit to tell us the end of the story. We know
what happened not from this parashah, but from somewhere else. We are told in
Sefer Shemot (18:26), "Moshe sent away his father-in-law, and he went back to
his land." Apparently, the Torah wants us to focus on Moshes words themselves,
and to learn the proper lessons from them, regardless of the end result.
Many people, thank G-d, come to Bet Kenesset. Many people are connected to
our heritage, are interested in Judaism, want to experience tefilah, Kabbalat
Shabbat, and work to transmit to their children a taste of our tradition. We watch
them come in, a bit confused, sitting hesitatingly, flipping through the pages of
the siddur. Those present in the Bet Kenneset are happy to see them, to see
every Jew walk in, but very often they choose to ignore them, preferring that the
newcomers get acclimated to the Bet Kenesset by themselves.

Our parashah teaches us that this is not the way. The rabbi, the gabbai,
community leader, or be it who it may, turn to them kindly and warmly, just as
Moshe, as we are told in Parashat Yitro, went to greet his father-in-law, greeted
him graciously, and took him into his tent.
But this is not enough. When the tefilah is over, one must approach the dear
guests, and tell them, "Come with us." Join our minyan on a permanent basis,
"Come with us and we will do good for you, for Hashem has spoken to do good
with Yisrael." We have here a vibrant community life, we have a wonderful group
of people - come and take a portion, join us! Even when Yitro responded, "No,
thank you," Moshe continued and insisted, didnt you see how nice things are
here, how wonderful it is, how can you not join? Furthermore, "You will be for us
like eyes," which Rashi interprets, "You will be as beloved to us as our eyes, as
the pasuk says, You shall love the convert." And if the convert is so dear to us,
than how much more so is this true regarding our dear brothers!
But even this is not enough. The Torah teaches us that Moshe added a promise:
"If you come with us, then that good which Hashem will do for us we will do the
same good for you." Those who come to join should be accepted with open arms
and be offered an equal share of benefits, including aliyot to the Torah,
opportunities to open the aron, as well as other "kibbudim." Indeed, Yitros
descendants sat as judges in the courtyard of the Bet Hamikdash (Sanhedrin
So, with all this, was Yitro convinced? Could he not have been persuaded to join,
after such a warm greeting?
No, impossible. Hazal (Mechilta Yitro 2) teach us that Yitro returned to Midyan
where he brought about a revolution, bringing his friends and relatives to the
recognition of Hashem, the study of the Torah, and brought them under the wings
of the Shechinah. He later returned together with them to the camp of Yisrael,
and they shared a portion of Eres Yisrael. A warm, gracious greeting, the
transmission of the sense of, you are our brother, a feeling of welcoming, can
surely bring them to join the congregation on a consistent basis.
The Wonders of the Creator
We have all seen the way uncles, aunts, and grandparents speak to, and laugh
with, a baby. They will hold and play with him, as long as the baby opens its
mouth and shows the first tooth. The tooth is a sharp, stable bone which grows
into the mouth cavity and is, in effect, the hardest material in the human body.
You may ask, what is the teeth made out of? It is made out of a white material
called enamel. Actually, enamel is only what covers the tooth. Inside is found the
actual material of the tooth itself. Several nerves pass through the tooth, which
are responsible for the toothaches from which many people suffer on occasion.
Just to be clear, the nerves do not cause the pain. They merely serve as an alarm
when there is a hole in the tooth which allows for the infiltration of bacteria which
can cause serious complications. The nerves "ring" and alert the person, through
the pain, to the fact that there is trouble. Lets face it - if not for the pain, who
would run to the dentist to fix their teeth? Not too many people, if any.

A person has 32 teeth - 16 in the lower jaw and 16 in the upper part of the
mouth. The eight front teeth - four on top and four on the bottom - are
responsible for biting food. Next to them lie the canines, 2 on top and two on the
bottom - which are the sharpest teeth in the mouth, triangular in shape. The
other teeth have a flat edge. Virtually all food which we eat would not be suited
for digestion in the stomach without first being chewed into small pieces in the
mouth. Our Creator provided that we are equipped with the front teeth which, for
example, can separate from the apple the part which can be chewed, and the
three back teeth on each side, on top and on the bottom, which grind the food in
perfect harmony. Imagine - if the back teeth were in front and the front teeth
were in the back, we would not be able to eat properly. Furthermore, if not for the
enamel, an especially hard substance, which lines our teeth, without question our
teeth would wear out after just a few years. All this the Creator did in His love for
us, so we have good reason to show off our teeth with a big, joyous, smile.
The Rabbis Blessing
a continuing saga (part four)
FLASHBACK: Young Yishak Goite worked as a servant in a wealthy home in the
city of Triast. A righteous messenger from Eres Yisrael visited on a fundraising
mission on behalf of the Jews of Israel, and the boy brought to him all his savings
as a donation. The sadik was very moved and gave him a berachah that he
should soon become wealthy.
In those days, pirating was a booming business. Pirates had fast, armed ships,
and they were often based in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Moslem
pirates would ambush ships carrying the flag of a Christian country, just as
Christians would attack boats with a flag from the Ottoman Empire. The ships
were either robbed or sunk, and the passengers and merchandise were sold in
the marketplace in the big cities. The people were sold as slaves and the
merchandise was sold in the public market.
Once, Yishak was on his way back from running some errands for his boss when
he passed by the marketplace and heard a roaring sound. The large gathering of
people aroused the curiosity of the young boy. He made his way through the
crowd and reached the main square. A line of wooden barrels blocked his way. On
the stage in front of him a person declared, "Residents of Triast, listen! We sell
here the booty of a captured ship. Time is short, as the sailors have just arrived
and soon they must leave. We have here lavish silk, beautiful, shiny silk, two
hundred cubits worth. Who would like to offer a price?"
Nobody answered.
"Two hundred cubits for fifty dinar!" he cried.
Still, nobody answered.
"Forty dinar - this is almost for free!"
One individual finally walked over to the stage, and placed his hand on the
sparkling pile.
"Who offers more?" asked the merchant.

"Forty-five," someone called out.

The tension grew, as the first one never removed his hands from the silk.
"Fifty!" shouted the other.
The first then removed his hand, indicating his pulling out of the bid.
"Fifty!" cried the merchant, and the second bidder won. "Now - these wooden
barrels. Does anyone know what they contain - wine, oil?" "Perhaps water,"
somebody said, evoking laughter on the part of the audience.
"Maybe," confirmed the merchant. "Fifty dinar, who is ready?" Everybody looked
at the barrels, on which Yishak leaned innocently, unaware that this indicated his
consent to the purchase..
The Golden Column
Rabbi Yehudah Ben Atar ZS"L
This Shabbat marks the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Yehudah Ben Atar zs"l,
who lived around three hundred years ago. The Or Hahayim zs"l is among his
The Hid"a zs"l wrote about him that he was "..accustomed to performing
miracles, and I have heard about many wonders which happened to him, both
during his lifetime and after his death. I have heard from the sacred rabbis of the
West that he was a holy man of G-d." The Hid"a tells of the following miracle. The
king of Morocco would sometimes arrest the Jewish scholars and free them only
at a high ransom. Once he ordered the arrest of Rabbi Yehudah Ben Atar and
demanded a huge fortune in exchange. If the ransom was not paid, he warned,
the rabbi would be thrown into the lions den. The rabbi told the community
leaders, "The halachah forbids paying large amounts for the ransom of captives,
in order that the captors not repeat the crime. I hereby forbid you from
redeeming me."
When the king saw that the Jews failed to pay the money, he ordered that the
lions be starved and, subsequently, that the rabbi be thrown into their den. To
everyones astonishment, the rabbi sat among the lions as they surrounded him,
not even touching him. He sat there this way all day and all night, and throngs of
people came to behold this amazing sight. Eventually, the king, himself, came to
witness the event, and was amazed. He then ordered that the rabbi be freed, and
asked for his forgiveness.
From the Wellsprings of the Parasha
"When you light the candles"
Rabbi Avraham Abuhassera zs"l notes that the numerical value of these words
equals that of "tefilin rosh, yad, petil" (referring to a pair of tefilin and sisit),
1,605. The message is that "For a misvah is like a candle and Torah is light," that
when a Jew wears a talit and tefilin, he lights the candle of misvot and shines
light in his soul, "The soul of a person is the candle of Hashem, and his prayer is

"When you light the candles"

Rabbi David Nehemias zs"l writes that the candles symbolize the misvot, "For a
misvah is a candle and Torah is light." Women who assist their husbands fulfill
their misvot share a portion in those misvot, and they therefore have a portion
even in those misvot from which they themselves are exempt. This is why the
pasuk states, Towards the center of the menorah, implying that corresponding
to the husbands misvot there are the womens misvot, alluded to in the word,
"menorah," which can be seen as an acronym: "hadlakat ner" (lighting of the
Shabbat candles), "misvat nidah" (family purity), "reisheet haisah" (the misvah
of halah).
"When you light the candles"
Rabbi Mekikass Sheli zs"l of Djerba dedicated his life to the dissemination of
Torah, and explained this pasuk as referring to the responsibility of a rabbi to his
student. "When you light the candles" - when you want to infuse your students
with the light of the Torah, "towards the center of the Torah" - if you want to know
whether or not they understood the "sugya" properly, with all its intricacies, "the
seven candles should shine" - you should inquire and expound with seven
inquiries, in order to ensure that they understood the material.
"The seven candles should shine"
In Midrash Tanhuma in Parashat Tesaveh, Rabbi Hanina Segan Hakohanim
testified, "I served in the Bet Hamikdash, and several miracles occurred in the
menorah. When they would light it on Rosh Hashanah, it would not be
extinguished until the following year!" Rabbi Shalom Hakohen zs"l, rabbi of
Zarsis, in his work, "Nahar Shalom," writes that "the seven candles should shine"
has the same numerical value as the expression, "The kohen would light it on
Rosh Hashanah and it would not be extinguished for the entire year"!
"Towards the center of the menorah the seven candles should shine"
Rabbi Ovadia Seforno zs"l explains that the candles on the right symbolize those
who study Torah, and those on the left represent people who work and support
Torah. They both face the center of the menorah, as they all together form a
single unit. The two sets of candles face each other with love and affection.
Hashems will is carried out through the combined efforts of the entire nation,
working together.
Drag Him into the Bet Midrash
Our parashah tells of the nations journey from Har Sinai. They had remained
there for about a year, from Rosh Hodesh Sivan until 20 Iyar. Besides the
unfortunate mishap of the golden calf, which occurred in a moment of frenzy and
through the initiative of the "erev rav," no transgression was committed by the
nation throughout their stay at Sinai. Just as they left the mountain, they
immediately sinned in the incidents of the "mitonenim," the spies, and the rest of
the mishaps about which we read in Sefer Bemidbar. Why? The Maharsha zs"l
(Shabbat 116) explains that Har Sinai was a Bet Midrash for them, a place where
they grew in Torah. When they left Har Sinai, they, in effect, left the Bet Midrash.

Rabbi Yeruham zs"l of Mir asks, that although it is understood how an individual
might stumble upon leaving the confines of the Bet Midrash, how could the entire
nation stumble when the entire "yeshivah," as it were, left together? They left the
mountain not to go to the streets, but to the desert, with Moshe leading the way!
We see that the confines of the yeshivah themselves offer a unique protection. A
person must make a concerted effort to spend time in this special environment,
and take extra special care upon his departure from the yeshivah.
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Belittling Israel (part II)
Mr. Goodfriend: The tendency to belittle the sublime men of Israels antiquity is
based on three factors: 1) Superficial understanding of the Scriptures; 2) Gentile
bias against Israel, especially because Israel rejected the Nazarene and
Mohammed; and 3) the Evil Inclination which seeks to deprecate Israel so that
the nations should not perceive Israels excellence and thereby learn their ways.
The Scriptural censure was due to G-ds love for Israel. The truth about the
generation of the Wilderness we can learn from the mouths of those who did not
wish to censure. The 250 leaders of Korachs assembly declared: "The entire
congregation are holy, every one of them; and the L-rd is in their midst"
(Bemidbar 16:3). Bileam declared: "He (G-d) has beheld no iniquity in Jacob, and
He has seen no wrong in Israel" (ibid., 23:21).
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
One Who Makes Ha'ess on Wine
One who eats grapes and drinks wine should first recite the appropriate berachah
for each, and at the end recites a single berachah meen shalosh which fulfills the
requirement for both the grapes and the wine. If the individual mistakenly recites
"hagefen" over the grapes he has fulfilled his obligation, since grapes are also
called, "fruit of the vine," and thus this case is similar to that of one who
mistakenly recites "haadamah" over fruit. Since fruits, too, grow from the
ground, the individual has fulfilled his obligation.
Generally, one who squeezes the juice from a fruit recites "shehakol" on the juice,
since it has lost the significance of the fruit. If he recites haess, he has not
fulfilled his requirement and must recite a shehakol, as the juice is considered
nothing more than "perspiration" of the fruit. The only exception is juice of fruits
which are entirely squeezed, in a manner so that the entire fruit is dissolved, and
after the squeezing only the rind is left, that in such a case, according to some
views, this juice is to be considered the fruit itself which has changed its form.
Since the Shulhan Aruch rules that a change of the fruits form does not yield a
change in the required berachah (Shulhan Aruch 202:7), if one mistakenly recites
haess on such juice instead of shehakol, he has still fulfilled his obligation, since
there is a dispute as to whether he should recite a new berachah, and we refrain
from reciting berachot whose requirement is the subject of doubt. However, other

juices, where much of the fruit remains after the juice is squeezed, one who
mistakenly recites "haess" must recite a shehakol, as he has not fulfilled his
What about one who mistakenly recites haess over wine? The Aharonim are in
dispute as to whether or not the individual has fulfilled his requirement. The
"Ginat Veradim" writes that he has fulfilled his obligation, since the wine has
more significance than the grapes themselves, as evidenced by the fact that it
requires a more significant berachah than do the grapes. Thus, wine is not
considered a mere outgrowth of the fruit, but should rather be seen as a fruit
unto itself, and thus the berachah of haess is appropriate, and the individual has
fulfilled his obligation. (This is similar to the halachah regarding oil, that one who
drinks oil which does not harm him recites haess, not shehakol, as it is
considered a fruit unto itself.) However, the Magen Avraham writes that the
individual has not fulfilled his obligation. The Yad Efrayim explains this position,
that since the wine has been afforded a status more significant than that of the
grapes, as evidenced by the fact that is was given a more specific berachah, it
can never lose that status. (It may be that this point is a dispute among the
rishonim - see Shaar HaSiyun 208:67). The Mishnah Berurah (208:70) rules that
since we never recite a berachah whose requirement is in doubt, we do not
require such an individual to recite another berachah over the wine, and such is
the ruling of the Kaf Hahayim.
In summary, one who recites haadamah over carrot juice must recite a shehakol,
as he has not fulfilled his obligation. However, if a haess was recited over juice
from a fruit which is completely dissolved into the juice, a new berachah is not
required, and similarly one who recites haess over wine does not recite another
berachah. Furthermore, one who recites hagefen over grapes does not recite
another berachah.

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Parashat Shelah
"It Will Not Succeed"
As we know, each letter of the Torah contains significance. Often, the Torah will
write a misvah but leave its details and intricacies to the oral tradition, such as
the misvah of tefilin, for example. It follows, then, that when the Torah presents a
lengthy discussion of the details of a given episode, each detail provides us with
a meaningful lesson. After the tragic incident of the spies, which culminated with
Hashems decree that the generation of the desert would not enter Eres Yisrael,
the people mourned bitterly. In an attempt to atone for their misdeed, they
announced, "Here! Lets ascend to the place which Hashem has said, for we have
sinned." They had sinned by not trusting the power of Hashem which would assist
them in battle, so they decided to perform teshuvah by going with total
dedication and faith. They sinned by not showing proper respect and love
towards the Land of Israel, so they now prepared to risk their lives for the land.
The Torah then records, over the course of three pesukim, Moshes response to
the people, including his simple question, "Why do you violate the word of
Hashem - it will not succeed!" And, as we know, these people were soon killed by
the Amalekim and Canaanim.
What are we to learn from this parashah? The "Saba" of Nevarduk zs"l offered the
following parable. A king once sent the national treasurer to sign a financial
agreement with a neighboring power. Just prior to the treasurers departure, the
king warned him not to get involved in any gambling on his trip. Insulted, the
treasurer asked, "Would you ever suspect me of being a gambler?!" The king
calmed his minister and reassured him, "I never accused you of anything. I am
just insisting that you promise me that you will not bet under any circumstances."
The treasurer was confused, but he gave the king his word and left.
Upon his arrival in his destination, he represented his country honorably and
succeeded in his mission. The foreign government greeted him warmly and the
king conducted a lavish affair in his honor. During the party, one of the
government officials exclaimed, "Look how wise our neighboring king is, that he

chose such a wise man as his treasurer, despite his displeasing physical
The treasurer was, needless to say, very insulted. "What is displeasing about my
appearance?" he asked.
The official answered, "Well, it is common knowledge that you have on your body
a large, repulsive birthmark!"
"This is a lie!" insisted the treasurer.
His anger knew no bounds. He looked around and saw a myriad of giggly faces.
He shouted, "This is a cheap lie, and I demand that you take back what you said!"
"Very well," answered the official. "If you insist, then so will I. If you can prove
that you do not have a birthmark on your body the size of an apple, I will pay you
ten thousand gold coins."
"You will most certainly pay, until the very last penny", cried the treasurer. True,
the king had warned him not to get involved in these bets, but this was a case of
a personal accusation, and he must disprove it. Both his own honor and that of
his country were on the line. In a fit of rage, he stripped his clothes and
demonstrated that the entire accusation was false. The official, as he promised,
paid the ten thousand gold coins in full.
Upon his return, the treasurer presented the king with the signed agreement and,
in addition, offered the king a gift - ten thousand gold coins, the money he had
one through his bet.
The king gazed at his minister angrily. "You violated my order! I warned you not
to bet!"
"Yes," said the minister, smiling, "but this was a sure victory." He proceeded to
tell the entire incident.
The king sighed and said, "Fine, now listen. When I told the foreign king that I am
sending you as my representative, he asked me, Why do you trust him? He is
such a fool! When I insisted on your fine qualifications, he responded, I am
willing to bet a million gold coins that this fool will strip his clothes right in the
middle of a gala feast, in front of all the other government officials! In defense of
your honor, I placed a bet with him, and I warned you not to place any bets. Now,
look what you have done - not only do I look like a liar, but I lost a fortune. Not to
mention the fact that you made a fool out of yourself!"
Indeed, this is the lesson of the parashah - "Why do you violate the word of
Hashem - it will not succeed!"
A person never benefits from an averah, whereas he who walks in observance of
the Torah is guaranteed security!
This nation, the nation of Hashem, is a very special people. We are believers, the
children of believers. Hundreds of thousands of our people travel long and far to

the grave site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai; thousands flock to the burial places of
Rabbi Meir Baal Haness, the Rambam, the Ar"i, and many others. May their merit
protect all of us.
And yet, when this nation wanted to enter Eres Yisrael, Moshe never imagined
that the great sadikim buried there - including Adam and Havah, Shem and Ever,
not to mention our patriarchs and matriarchs - would protect the inhabitants of
the land from Benei Yisraels attack. Moshe sent the scouts to see, among other
things, "Are there trees?" which has been interpreted by Hazal as meaning, is
there any living sadik who could protect the inhabitants. And, sure enough, that
period saw the passing of Iyov, and thus Kalev and Yehoshua declared, "There
shade has passed from them," indicating that now that Iyov has died his merit no
longer protects them.
Indeed, the merit of a living sadik protects many times more than that of a sadik
who has passed. Let us then strive to dwell in the light of our great gedolim, to
seek their guidance and their berachah, for they are our greatest protection and
source of blessing and success.
The Wonders of the Creator
Vitamin B6
Have you ever asked yourself if there exists a vitamin which can help you lose
weight? Or one that could, once and for all, stop those disturbing twitches which
wake you up in the middle of the night? Or how about something which can help
ease those lingering aches and pains? Well, guess what - it exists! This is vitamin
B6 pyridoxine. But before you run to the drug store to pick some up, there are
several things you should know about this wondrous vitamin. Vitamin B6 can be
very helpful for those with weight disorders due to the collection of water in the
body. A scientist who conducted research for many years on the effects of this
vitamin concluded that this vitamin produces a balance between nitrogen and
potassium in the body. These minerals regulate body fluids, which helps to
prevent bloating without medications which always cause adverse side-effects.
This scientist found that vitamin B6 helps both men and women, and improves
the sense of touch in the fingers and hands. What other great forces did Hashem
implant within this vitamin? Researchers have found that besides helping to cure
various diseases it helps cure certain skin diseases, hair-loss, high cholesterol,
sleep disorders, and other health problems. Some university findings have
discovered that the more one exercises, the more vitamin B6 he needs. We
should also note that this vitamin is destroyed by sunlight, oxidization, and heat.
It is important to point out that one should not take too much of this vitamin, as it
could cause problems later in life.
Furthermore, vitamin B6 taken by itself could disrupt the balance of B vitamins in
the body and cause problems. Therefore, one should consult with a doctor, keep
a rich, balanced diet, including all the major food groups, vitamins, and minerals.
Vitamin B6 is found in bananas, avocados, greens such as lettuce, and, perhaps
most of all, in pecans.
The Golden Column
Rabbi Masoud Hakohen Alhadad zs"l

Nearly a century ago, in the year 5662, a serious crisis befell the city of
Yerushalayim. The great Kabbalists of Yeshivat Bet-El, the great yeshivah where
the sound of study and prayer never ceased, suffered from grave difficulties.
They asked one of the most prominent personalities of the yeshivah, Rabbi
Masoud Hakohen Alhadad zs"l, to travel to the distant communities and ask them
for their assistance in supporting the yeshivah. Wherever he went he was greeted
with great respect, and his brilliance and holiness led to a most successful
mission. He completed his work in the city of Spaks and boarded a ship to Tunis.
First he sent his luggage onto the boat, and then, when the time came, he
stepped onto the ship. When he asked for his belongings, the sailors said that
they know nothing of any of his belongings. He said nothing and took his seat.
The captain gave the order to lift the anchor and sail, when suddenly the sailors
became frozen, unable to move. The skipper was petrified, and asked them if
some unjust activity had taken place. They confessed to having hid the rabbis
luggage, and they told the skipper exactly where it was hidden. The skipper
quickly returned the stolen goods to their rightful owner, begging his forgiveness.
At that moment, the sailors were once again able to move about.
Upon his return he was appointed as Rosh Yeshivah, at the age of eighty. He
composed many works, including "Koah Maasav Higid LeAmo," "Ben Mechabed
Av," "Simhat Kohen," and others. He remained at the head of the yeshivah for
twenty-five years, until his death at the age of one hundred and seven years, on
24 Sivan, 5687.
The Rabbis Blessing
a continuing saga (part five)
FLASHBACK: Yisshak Goite, whose family emigrated to Triast, Italy, was hired as a
house-attendant in a wealthy home and earned much respect through his fine
character and integrity. He saved his earnings for his future, but when a sadik
came to collect funds for the yeshivot of Jerusalem and stayed in his home,
Yishak gave all his savings to the sadik and in return received a blessing that by
the time the sadik returns Yishak will be among the wealthy people of the
community. Soon afterward, Yishak found himself at a public auction of
merchandise which was taken from a ship by pirates.
"Maybe tell us what is in these barrels," cried someone from the audience. The
auctioneer responded, "I dont know - there was no time to open them. Maybe
some fine, aged wine, maybe spices from the Far East." Several people gathered
around the barrels to smell and immediately straightened up. "These arent
spices, not even salted fish," they announced, as the rest erupted in laughter.
"Maybe its flour, or water," said the auctioneer. "Fifty dinar - who is ready?"
Who would offer fifty dinar for a cat in the hat? All eyes were transfixed on the
boy leaning against the barrels, signifying - in their eyes - that he agrees to join
the bidding. Yishak himself was the only one unaware of this.
"Who are you, boy?" asked the auctioneer.
"Yishak Goite, messenger-boy of the merchant, Refael." A stir overcame the
crowd. The auctioneer raised his hand and said, "Very well. Who is prepared to
offer a higher bid?"

Nobody moved, including the young boy. "If so," said the auctioneer, "then lets
move on to the next item." Yishak then decided that he had rested enough. He
straightened up and left, followed by the curious gazes of the audience.
He returned to his work, stood before his boss, and gave him an account of all
that he had accomplished that afternoon. Just as the merchant was listening to
Yisshaks detailed account, the sound of approaching chariots was heard. A
convoy of wagons arrived, and they were loaded with barrels. "Is this the home of
the merchant, Refael?" asked the drivers. They nodded in the positive, and the
drivers began unloading the barrels off the wagon.
"Fifty gold coins," they said to the dumbfounded merchant. "For what?" he asked.
"No turning back now," they responded threateningly. "Your messenger bought
these barrels at an auction. Oh - here he is!" They grabbed Yishak with their
strong, forceful hands.
to be continued......
From the Wellsprings of the Parasha
"One man, one man...each [tribal] prince among them"
Rabbi Yehudah Elbaz zs"l suggests that in this pasuk Hashem alluded to the fact
that only two of the spies, Yehoshua and Kalev, would succeed in their mission
and not stumble with the other scouts. What is meant, then, by the phrase,
"..each prince among them"? Just as we know that "when a sadik earns [his
portion] he takes both his portion and those of the others in Gan Eden," such as
Avraham who received reward which was taken away from the ten previous,
sinful generations, similarly, Yehoshua and Kalev received the reward which
would have gone to the other scouts. This is further alluded to by the pasuk,
"[Yehoshua and Kalev] lived from those people who went to scout the land."
"Moshe called Hoshea Bin Nun [by the name], 'Yehoshuah'"
Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel writes that Moshe saw Yehoshuas humility he prayed
on his behalf. Rabbi Sevi Didi zs"l of Tiberias (the anniversary of whose death
occurs this week, on 1 Tamuz), in his work, "Eres Sevi," explains that a humble
person often thinks that he is inferior, and will therefore reject his opinion in favor
of those of others. That is why Moshe was particularly concerned, and thus
prayed that Yehoshua be protected from the sinful plot of the spies.
"Be strong and take from the fruits of the land"
Rabbi Avraham Azulai zs"l writes that this pasuk serves as the source of the
Midrash which states that Moshe told the scouts, "Do not go in like thieves."
Rather, they were to go with strength and confidence, taking the fruits openly, for
all to see. This would enhance their faith in their Creator as they behold overt
miracles, and would thus be dissuaded from bringing back a negative report.
However, as we know, even this did not help. We see that even after witnessing
great wonders and miracles, the heart can still be hardened and refuse to
recognize them, a frightening message which should arouse our hearts to
rigorous self-introspection.

"They went and came"

Rashi explains that this pasuk compares the scouts departure to Eres Yisrael to
their return to the desert. Just as they returned with an inaccurate, negative
report about the land, so was their intention immediately upon departure. Rabbi
Yehudah Birdogo zs"l of Miknaas, a colleague of the Or Hahayim zs"l, in his work,
"Mayim Amukim," asks, how is it possible to say such a thing about all the scouts,
including Yehoshua and Kalev? He answers that all the pasuk teaches us is the
comparison between the scouts departure and their return. The ten who
returned with a negative report left with that same evil intention. And Yehoshua
and Kalev, who returned with high praise for Eres Yisrael and unwavering trust in
Hashem, had left with that same intention
The Container of Flour and Torah
When King Ahav introduced idol-worship into Eres Yisrael, and tried to prove his
case by pointing to the fact that Hashem had not withheld the rain as he
promised to do when Benei Yisrael worship idols, Eliyahus anger was aroused
and he declared, "As Hashem lives - in these years there will not be dew or rain,
except by my word!" Ahav tried to kill him, so the prophet hid in Nahal Kerit,
where he lived until the stream dried up by the drought. Hashem instructed him
to go to the city of Sarfat, where a widow would sustain him. Indeed, upon his
arrival in the city, he encountered a widow chopping wood. He asked her for
bread and she responded, "I swear by Hashem your G-d if I have any baked
goods, except for a handful of flour in a container, and a little oil in the dish. I am
now chopping wood so that I can come and bake for myself and my son - and
then we will die."
Eliyahu told her, "Do not be afraid. Do as you said, but make for me from the
flour a small pastry first, and only then bake for you and your son. For so says
Hashem the G-d of Israel, the container of flour will never empty, and the dish of
oil will never be lacking, until the day Hashem brings destruction upon the entire
world." And, indeed, there was enough flour and oil for all of them, when the child
was sick Eliyahu revived him, and Eliyahu lived there for three years during the
famine (Melachim 1, 17).
The question we must ask is, if he knew that there would be enough flour and oil,
then why did he insist that she bake for him first? He should have allowed her to
first prepare food for her and her son, and only then bake for him. Or,
alternatively, he could have asked her to bake for all three of them at once!
Two answers may be given, answers which are very much related and which
compliment each other.
The Radak zs"l cites a Midrash of Hazal relevant to our parashah. Eliyahu was a
kohen, and he was telling her to first give "hallah" from the dough, which is to be
given to a kohen as long as he is ritually pure, which Eliyahu clearly was.
Secondly, the Ralbag zsl suggests, "Eliyhau instructed her this way, for in
exchange for her feeding him Hashem will then bring the blessing upon the flour
and oil. Were she to have baked for herself and her son first, the flour and oil
would have been diminished."
Imagine - if she would have given him to eat, but only together with herself and
her son, she would not have been deserving of the berachah. Only if supporting

the prophet was her primary concern, first and foremost, preceding everything
else - only then would she merit the blessing.
This is true regarding the totality of ones life. One may not begin any work in the
morning prior to tefilah, nor may he eat anything before tefilah. Why? To
emphasize that spirituality is of paramount and primary importance. Everything
else is secondary.
Perhaps we can now understand why, after it was decreed that Benei Yisrael
would remain in the desert for forty years, they learned the misvah of hallah as a
sort of consolation. This taught them that forty years of Torah study with Moshe
during the dawn of our nations history served as the basis for the subsequent
generations, as represented by hallah, which is given before the dough is eaten.
Certainly this applies, as well, to a persons life. If the earliest years are devoted
to Torah education, without any interruption, if these years are ones of growth in
Torah, the acquisition of proper midot and a thorough and comprehensive
knowledge of halachah, if ones parents are smart enough to send him to a Torah
educational institution, this helps to ensure his spiritual and material success for
the rest of his life, and they will merit wonderful children, and much blessing and
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
Rosh Bet Midrash "Meor Yisrael"
Does the Berachah for Wine Fulfill the Requirement for Grapes?
In the previous issue we discussed that one who recites "borei peri hagefen"
before eating grapes, or recites "al hagafen.." after eating grapes, has fulfilled his
requirement even though he did not recite the correct berachah ("peri haess";
"al haess"). The Bet Yosef adds that this is the halachah also for one who has
wine and grapes before him and recites peri hagefen with the intention of
fulfilling the requirement for both the wine and the grapes. He has fulfilled his
requirement and does not need to recite peri haess over the grapes. However,
this is true ONLY if the individual had specific intention that the berachah of
hagefen would fulfill the requirement for the grapes. But if he recited the
berachah of hagefen with the intention that it would fulfill only the requirement
for the wine, and not the grapes, then the "hagefen" does not fulfill the
requirement for the grapes, since the grapes require a berachah of "haess." This
situation is similar to a case of one who recited "haadamah" for vegetables, who
then recites "haess" over fruits, even if they were there before him when he
recited the haadamah. The reason is that the halachah that haadamah fulfills
the requirement for fruits applies only when there was specific intention to do so.
Since Hazal instituted different berachot for different types of foods in order to
further enhance our praise of Hashem, the berachah for one type of food does
not fulfill the requirement for another type of food without specific intention. (For
this reason the Shulhan Aruch writes in 211:3 that one may recite a haadamah
before a haess, and he need not worry about the haadamah fulfilling the
requirement for the fruit, thus rendering his haess an unnecessary berachah.
This is also the implication of the Shulhan Aruch 206:2, that the berachah for one
food-type fulfills the requirement for another type only with specific intention.)

If one mistakenly recited a haadamah over wine, he has, it would seem, fulfilled
his obligation, and this is, in fact, the ruling of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a (Yehaveh
Daat vol. 6 ch. 13, in a footnote). He cites this ruling from the Raah in Berachot
(40) who explains that Hazal instituted that he mention in his berachah over wine
the word, peri (fruit), and therefore we recite, "borei peri hagefen." And so, one
who recites "borei PERI haadamah" has fulfilled his obligation. This is also the
implication of the Ritva and the ruling of the Hida (in Shiyurei Berachah 207), as
well as many other aharonim.
In summary, one who recites hagefen when there were grapes before him, as
long as he had specific intention to fulfill his obligation for the grapes with the
"hagefen" he has indeed fulfilled his obligation.
Furthermore, one who recites "bore peri haadamah" over wine has fulfilled his
obligation and does not require a berachah of hagefen.

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Parashat Korah
The Torah is eternal. "The sons of Korah didnt die." Indeed, they have
trustworthy successors, people who are jealous of the Moshe of every generation
and speak against Aharon. There are those who fight and bicker, bringing about
downfall for, first and foremost, themselves. They cut themselves off from the
tree of life, they further distance themselves from the fountain of Torah, risking
punishment in this world and tenfold in the World to Come.
Korah was jealous of Aharons stature, say Hazal. In the end, what did his hatred
accomplish? Did he undermine Aharons prominence in any way? Did he damage
Moshes honor? Not at all. He hurt only himself, his family, and followers.
"Korah, who was a wise man - what did he see that he resorted to such
nonsense?" Didnt he know that Moshe was the appointed messenger of God,
that with his stretching of his arm miraculous plagues befell Egypt and the walls
of the Red Sea came crashing down, that when he lifted his hands Amalek lost
the battle?
Korah was a prominent member of the community, wise, well-respected, and
wealthy. Why did he resort to such foolish behavior?
Rabbi Yosef Hayyim zsl, the Ben Ish Hai, explains, that one cannot ask rational
questions regarding the behavior of one stricken with jealousy. An individual who
is overcome by the passion of jealousy has the capacity to destroy everything, to
lose everything he has, for the sake of hurting the other.
The author of "Reishit Hochmah" (in "Shaar Haanavah" ch. 7) presents the
parable of two people walking together, one of whom was gracious and giving
whereas the other was always jealous of those around him. A certain king crossed
their path and said to them, "One of you request something, and I will give the
other double. Which of you is ready to ask?"
The gracious one thought to himself, "if I place a request, I will get only one
portion. But if my friend asks, I will get double!"
And so, he asked for nothing.
The jealous one thought to himself, "If I ask, he will receive double." He was
already disturbed by the possible success of the other, and so he, too, asked for
The king smiled, as the events turned out just as he had predicted, and continued
along his way. The jealous traveler saw the king leave and finally called, "Your
majesty! I have a request!"

The king stopped to listen what the man had to say.

The jealous person continued, "Your majesty, please order that one of my eyes be
Indeed, this is how jealousy works. He would agree to have one eye pulled out
so long as the others would lose two eyes.
"The sons of Korah didnt die." We see today with our own eyes how jealousy
blinds all forms of reason, how it causes people to launch attacks against
successful people and movements who work to restore the glory of Torah. They
attempt to undermine the authority and dignity of Torah leaders, to fabricate
accusations against a leader of Torah and teshuvah in our generation. They try to
stifle the growth of this great movement of repentance and return, the growth of
sanctity and purity. They risk meeting the same tragic end as Korah, who brought
about their own destruction, and who eventually conceded, "Moshe and his Torah
are true, and we were wrong."
The population of observant Jews can be divided into two groups. There are those
who rejoice in their commitment, who sincerely feel in their hearts, "Blessed is
our God Who created us for His honor, Who separated us from the mistaken ones,
Who gave us a true Torah, and implanted within us eternal life." They experience
the great joy of Shabbat, the uplifting sensation of tefilah, the sanctity of tefilin,
and the radiance of the Torah. But there are those for whom the misvot are a
burden, Heaven forbid, who see themselves as forced against their will to abide
by the rules. They are even jealous of those who do not follow our guidelines,
who have removed from themselves the yoke of heaven and carry on with no
restraint. One must never feel this way. The Torah warns us against such an
attitude in a pasuk in this weeks parasha. When Benei Yisraell expressed their
fear over the harsh punishment for those who come into contact with the sacred
objects in the mishkan, and thought to themselves that they would have to serve
Almighty with a sense of awe of dread, Hashem commanded, "I will make your
priesthood a service of a gift." Meaning, do not serve with a feeling of coercion,
and not out of a sense of fear. Rather, our observance must emerge out of a
feeling that we are given a precious gift, a priceless opportunity."It is not service
of slavery for you, but it is rather a great gift which I have given you through this
service, for honor and glory from Me" (Ramban). So must each and every Jew feel
about Torah and misvot.
The Wonders of the Creator
Anyone who looks at his fingers immediately notices a series of lines drawn in a
most interesting shape. One who has trouble seeing the lines can touch a clear
window and see the design which he has created. Some peoples fingerprints
have the shape of an inverted Hebrew letter "pei," while other prints consist of
lines extending one next to the other like waves in the ocean. In short, there are
many different shapes and classifications of fingerprints, and each classification
breaks down further into sub-categories. Whats most fascinating about
fingerprints is that no one in the world has the same fingerprint as anyone else, a
fact which testifies as strongly as one thousand witnesses to the infinite

greatness of the Creator. One institution which is greatly assisted by this

physiological fact is, of course, the police. Even in instances when a person
cannot see a fingerprint it is, of course, there, and investigators will then use a
special dust which they throw over the area which was touched to find the
fingerprint on the given object. However, this mechanism is used not only to
identify criminals. Many people will give their prints to the police knowing that
they can be very useful for identification purposes in an unfortunate situation of
memory loss or other tragic situations where the identity of a person cannot be
determined by his face. In some countries, all visitors must submit their
fingerprints to the police.
When someones fingerprints are found, there are no longer any possibilities of
denial. He can no longer claim that he did not touch the object. How much more
so does this apply to our spiritual lives, as well. When a Jew goes to sleep at
night, his soul departs, as it were, and stands trial for everything it did over the
course of the day - the misvot and averot - and then signs the account. Any
intelligent person would undoubtedly prefer to sign on having done that of which
he is proud, behavior for which he will not be ashamed. How does he ensure this?
Very simply, the Torah guides us along every step, how to find favor in the eyes of
both man and G-d.
The Golden Column
Rabbi Yosef Shelomo Dayan zs"l
This Friday marks the anniversary of the death of the sadik Rabbi Yosef Shelomo
Dayan zs"l, a Kabbalist who lived in Yerushalayim and passed away just thirteen
years ago. He was well-versed in the secrets and hidden mysteries of the Torah.
We cannot fully comprehend his genius and depth, his sanctity and purity, and
we cannot know the full extent of his righteous deeds.
We can, however, strive to be among his students, and in this way merit our
portion in the World to Come. Specifically, he stressed the importance of tefila, to
pour ones heart before the Al-mighty for any problem which may arise, with the
full recognition that Hashem hears our tefilot.
Rabbi Yosef was the spiritual leader of Bet Keneset Nezer Aharon in the Bayit
Vagan section of Jerusalem. He would always pray, "Master of the World, build my
hechal!" He finally found a contractor whom he liked, and would still pray, "Build
my hechal!" He needed money, and prayed, "Please, provide the funds for the
construction of the hechal!" In the front was placed a triangle, symbolizing Har
Sinai, with two tablets on top. The triangle was to be affixed with nails, but Rabbi
Yosef insisted on nails that wouldnt rust. He pleaded, "Please, provide for me
special nails, suitable for our holy hechal!" He beseeched the Heavens the
provide a marble crown. The contractor suggested a metal crown, made with just
a thin layer of marble. Rabbi Yosef didnt give in. He recited Tehilim passionately,
pleading, "A crown, a crown for my hechal, a crown for my hechal!" Suddenly, the
contractor thought of a way to build a beautiful crown from high quality marble.
In such a manner he prayed for beautiful doors, magnificent handles, and even a
lock for the hechal. All his tefilot were answered. Let us learn from him and follow
his lead, and may Hashem accept our tefilot and fulfill all the wishes of our heart
The Rabbis Blessing
a continuing saga (part six)

FLASHBACK: Yishak Goite, the young, innocent boy, who served as a house
attendant for a wealthy family in Triast, Italy, gave over his lifes savings to a
sadik who was visiting the home to raise funds for the Jews in Yerushalayim. The
sadik gave him a beracha in return, that by his next visit the boy will be among
the wealthiest people in the community. After some time the boy found himself at
a public auction of pirated goods, and leaned against some barrels, which, little
did he know, indicated his willingness to purchase them. The barrels were
brought to the home of his master who was now expected to pay for the
The wealthy man looked back and forth at the workers and then at Yishak, and
asked, "What is in the barrels?"
"I dont know," responded the dumbfounded boy. "They didnt say, they claim
that they themselves had no idea."
"Then why did you agree to pay fifty gold coins for them? Maybe all they contain
is water, which was taken on the boat for drinking. Maybe they contain wine from
which we are not allowed to drink or sell. How did you buy this without consulting
with me, without my permission? Who appointed you as my representative at this
auction?" "Nobody..I.." stuttered the poor servant.
"Who - you?! Good, because if you bought it, then you must pay for it. You will
work a full year to pay the price, an entire year during which you will earn
"No, this is not what I was going to say. I didnt buy anything, I didnt even
participate in the auction!"
"What?" cried the man. "If you didnt participate, then what are these barrels
doing here? How did they get to my house? Tell me!" Turning to the workers, he
asked, "Did he buy these or not?"
"Of course he bought them, Sir. Everybody in the market can testify to that. Fifty
gold coins, sir, plus shipping expenses."
"Here," said the man, disgusted, "Enough words. Take the fifty gold coins, and
they will be deducted from your salary. Maybe then you will learn for the future
never to buy for me without asking."
He counted for them fifty gold coins and added payment for shipping. "Bring the
barrels into the storage room," he instructed the workers. Yishak, the servant,
turned to his boss and said, "Im sorry Sir, I think you should conduct a heshbon
hanefesh [introspection]."
"For what?" exclaimed his boss.
The boy responded sincerely, "I was punished from Heaven for having tarried
along the way, which a servant is never allowed to do. I should have come back
from my errands immediately, not to stop and rest on these barrels watching the
auction. But you were also punished, by having to pay now my salary which you
would have paid over the course of an entire year."

The man smiled and said, "Im glad that you diverted my attention away from all
this. I will see to it to look into my behavior and do teshuvah."
"Yes, Sir, and if you do this then all your money will be returned in full," answered
the boy innocently.
to be continued...
From the Wellsprings of the Parasha
"Korah took"
Rabbi Shimon Veknin zs"l of Tiberias explains the juxtaposition between the end
of last weeks parasha and this weeks parasha. Hazal say (Sanhedrin 109) that
anyone who argues on his rebbe is considered to have argued against the
Shechina, as it were, as the pasuk says regarding Korah and his followers,
"..when they fought against Hashem." Last weeks parasha concluded, "I am
Hashem your G-d," and this weeks parasha begins, "Korah took.." Meaning,
Korahs rebellion against Moshe was tantamount to a rebellion against the Almighty Himself, as it were, as if he was refuting the authority of the Shechina.
"Korah took"
The Midrash says, "Why did Korah rise up against Moshe? Because he saw the
para aduma (red heifer). Rabbi Yehudah Albez zs"l explains that, as we know,
the first-born were to have been the priests serving in the mishkan. But due to
the sin of the golden calf, this privilege was taken from them and given to the
kohanim, who refrained from worshipping the egel hazahav. Hazal say that the
para aduma serves as an atonement for the sin of the golden calf. Korah
therefore reasoned that now that the sin had been atoned for, the rights of
priesthood return to the first-born. His mistake, obviously, was in his failure to
realize that a sin is not atoned for in a single instant; rather, it involves a long,
difficult process of forgiveness.
"Korah took"
The author of "Darchei Shalom" zs"l explains the aforementioned Midrash
differently. Elsewhere, Hazal point to the fact that Korah ridiculed the misvot,
Heaven forbid. He asked, why does a room filled with Sifrei Torah require a
mezuzah? Why would a talit made entirely of techelet require a string of techelet
with the sisit? Thus, his argument was sparked by the para aduma, a halacha
which defies all human logic. We must remember that we cannot possibly
understand everything, for our minds will never fully comprehend our Creator. We
must simply do that which we are commanded.
"Korah took"
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 109) explains this expression to mean that Korah
purchased a bad acquisition for himself. Rabbi Moshe Alush of Titawin zs"l notes
the peculiarity of Hazals usage of term, "for himself," and explains that this
statement is based on another comment of Hazal, that the wife of On Ben Pelet
(one of Korahs cohorts) saved her husband from his alliance with Korah. Korahs
wife, on the other hand, turned her husband against Moshe, and she was
therefore destroyed together with him. As we know from Beresheet, the woman

was created from mans rib. Therefore, Hazal use the term, "leassmo" (for
himself), which is related to the word "essem" (bone), indicating that the uprising
was triggered by his wife.
"They Shall Not Be Like Korah And His Followers"
It is worthwhile to pay attention to the difference between the way Korah was
punished and the other punishments about which we read in the Humash.
The Jewish scholar was asked by the Khazar, how is it possible that the
generation of the desert, the people who received the Torah, who experienced
miracles on a daily basis, surrounding by Clouds of Glory and fed by mann from
the heavens, how could they have sinned such serious sins? The scholar
answered, "Fortunate is the generation whose sins can be counted." Over the
course of forty years, they sinned ten times. This is far fewer than our sins on any
given day! And yet, they were punished in a variety of ways. The worshippers of
the golden calf died by swords, the spies died in a plague, those who complained
for meat were killed by a divine fire, those who complained in Parashat Hukat
were bitten by poisonous snakes, those who violated Hashems order not to go to
Eres Yisrael after the incident of the spies were wiped out in battle. The only
similarity between all these tragedies is that the people died as a result of their
Regarding Korah and his followers, however, the situation is different. Hashem
caused the ground to split, swallowing them alive. Around fifteen hundred years
later a small opening opened for Rabbah Bar Bar Hannah to see them, and he
saw them turning over in Gehinnam like meat in a pot, without any respite.
Why? What is behind this horrible punishment? What does this teach us?
There are two types of sins, and, corresponding to them, there are two types of
punishments. There are sins which a person can transgress while still remaining
essentially part of the Jewish camp, without dissociating himself from the nation.
His punishment will therefore come, as well, in the midst of the Jewish camp. He
will achieve atonement through his punishment, unless he avoids punishment
through the process of teshuva.
But there is a different type of sin through which the sinner removes himself from
the whole, he detaches himself from the nation. Korahs sin can be classified in
this second group. He denied the authority of Moshe, the one who gave us the
Torah from Hashem, and he refused to accept Moshes rulings in all areas of
All the movements which have followed Korahs lead, be it the Sadducees, the
Karaites, or the European Reformers, they all cut themselves off from the nation,
and they have disappeared. Either they were simply lost or they assimilated.
In this way, their punishment was very appropriate. The ground, as it were,
opened its mouth and swallowed them; they were lost from the rest of the nation.
In the place to where they were lost they have no peace; but from the sacred
nation they are cut off entirely.
This serves as a warning to all of us. First of all, we all must live our lives
attached to the nation, recognizing its heritage, the authority of the Torah, and

the authority of its scholars. If a person does attach himself in this way, even if
he may not be perfect, even if he commits averot, he is still attached, he is like a
limb of a body which has been injured but will be healed through its connection to
the rest of the body. But if one turns his back to the authority of the Torah, he
may then be considered a detached limb, G-d forbid, lost from the rest of the
This is especially pertinent during this season, as parents plan their childrens
education for the coming school year. The basic responsibility of parents towards
their children involves providing for them an education based on Torah authority,
faith, and a strong link to our heritage, to the glorious chain of generations
extending from Avraham, to Moshe, straight to us.
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
Arranged by Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
Rosh Bet Midrash "Meor Yisrael"
The Beracha For Wine Fulfills the Obligation for Other Beverages
One who recites "borei peri hagefen" over wine and drinks, and afterward wants
to drink other beverages, does not need to recite a shehakol. The Rosh (Berachot
41) explains that wine is the most prominent among all beverages, and therefore
it is the most significant as opposed to the others which are considered
secondary in relation to wine. Therefore, other beverages have their requirement
fulfilled by the beracha over wine, as long as the individual had intended during
the recitation of the beracha that the beracha should apply to other beverages,
as well, or at least if the other beverages were in front of him during the time of
the recitation. The "hagefen" then fulfills the requirement for the other drinks,
and he may not recite another beracha, as it would be an unnecessary beracha.
(Similarly, regarding beracha aharona, one who is required to recite an "al
hagefen.." no longer requires a beracha aharona for other beverages which he
has drunk.)
Even though the halacha is that when one who recites a "haess" over a fruit, and
then another fruit requiring a haess is brought before him, he does need to recite
another haess despite the fact that the fruit was not before him when he recited
his beracha, and he did not have intention to eat more fruit (Shulhan Aruch
206:5), nevertheless regarding one who drinks wine and then decides to drink
other beverages, the beracha of hagefen is effective for the other beverages only
if they were before him during the time of the beracha or if he had intended that
they be included in his beracha. The reason for this distinction is that Hazal
instituted separate berachot for wine and other beverages - hagefen and
shehakol, respectively. Therefore, in order for hagefen to be effective for other
beverages, we require one of these two conditions, either that he intended for
the other beverages to be included in his beracha or that they were there before
him when he recited the hagefen. However, regarding the aforementioned case
with the fruits, since all fruits have the same beracha, these conditions are not
required for the original beracha to fulfill the obligation for the subsequent fruits.

One who eats foods which require different berachot, such as grapes and wine, or
fruits requiring haess and vegetables requiring haadama, he should recite each
appropriate beracha for each species. But if he intended for his "hagefen" to fulfill
the obligation for the grapes, as well, or that his "haadamah" should fulfill his
requirement for the fruits, he has fulfilled his requirement "bediavad" (only if he
had done it in such a way, but optimally this should not be done).
One who drinks wine and other beverages may (even optimally) recite the
beracha for the wine and thereby fulfill the requirement for the other beverages,
despite the fact that they have different berachaot, provided that he had
intended during the recitation that the beracha should apply to the others
beverages, as well, or that the other beverages were in front of him during the
beracha. Needless to say, this applies only if he did, in fact, drink wine after the
recitation of the beracha.
If one eats from two different foods who have the same beracha, such as one who
eats an apple and then decides to eat an orange, as well, he does not require a
new haess over the orange, even if the orange was not in front of him during the
time of the beracha and he did not intend for the beracha to apply to the orange.

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Parashat Hukat
The commentaries struggle to identify the sin of Moshe at the incident of Mei
Merivah, which resulted in his being denied permission to enter Eres Yisrael. The
angel revealed to the Bet Yosef zs"l that the very fact that there exists such
ambiguity testifies to the minute nature of this misdemeanor. And yet, Moshe was
punished severely, and was not granted the opportunity to see the final stage of
his life-long mission. Rashi writes that Moshe's comment to Hashem in Parashat
Beha'alotcha, "Can enough sheep and cattle be slaughtered for them [Benei
Yisrael]?" to which Hashem responded, "Is the Hand of Hashem incapable?!" was
a more serious sin that that of Mei Meriva. Yet, for that he was not punished
because the comment was made in private. The incident of Mei Meriva, by
contrast, occurred in public, and Moshe was therefore punished so
severely.Although we can never fully comprehend or appreciate the spiritual level
of Moshe or his "transgressions," we can, and must , learn the proper lessons and
apply them to our lives. Inappropriate behavior in a public setting, such as a
religious Jew cutting a line and arousing ill will, is considered a "hilul Hashem," an
aveira more severe than any other. As we know, there are no "down payments"
when it comes to the punishments for this violation. Rather, the punishment
surfaces immediately, Heaven forbid.And if one did violate the sin of hilul
Hashem, Rabbeinu Yonah has taught us that atonement can be achieved by
doing just the opposite - by bringing about a kiddush Hashem.
Generally speaking, the book of Vayikra is the one containing the laws relating to
the korbanot, tum'a and tahara, forbidden foods and relations. Bemidbar is
generally a compendium of stories which occurred to Benei Yisrael in the desert
from which we are to learn. Thus, the inclusion of the laws of the "para aduma"
(red heifer) in Sefer Bemidbar requires some explanation. Should not this parasha
have been placed in Sefer Vayikra?It seems that this section serves as a direct
response to last week's parasha and the events contained therein. Last week we
read of the jealousy of Korah and his rebellion against the authority of Moshe.
Everyone saw Moshe ascend Har Sinai to receive the Torah, how Moshe spoke
and Hashem's voice responded, as it were, how he brought down from the
mountain two sets of tablets. But Korah was the first reformer. He claimed that
although Hashem did, in fact, ordain the misvot, He required only the
generalities. The details, however, were added by Moshe himself. He thus figured
that Hashem had ordered to build the mishkan but it was Moshe's decision to
appoint his brother as kohen gadol. Korah even provided several "proofs" to his
theory: The Torah is, after all, divine wisdom. If it were all from the mouth of the
Creator, then there would not be any misvot whose rationale could not be
understood by the human intellect. Therefore, Korah wore a talit made entirely of
techelet, and has his two-hundred and fifty cohorts do the same. He stood before
Moshe and asked, does a talit made entirely of techelet require sisit with a thread

of techelet like other garments, or not? Moshe answered that it does, and Korah
responded, "If a single thread of techelet suffices for an entirely white garment,
certainly a garment made solely of techelet should not require a thread of
techelet! You could not possibly have been commanded in this regard - you made
all of this up!" (Midrash Bemidbar Rabbah, 18:3). He could not understand that
just the opposite is true. This actually proves the divine origin of the Torah and its
misvot. Did Korah really think that he was smarter than Moshe, who was "The
father of wisdom, the father of Torah, and father of prophecy" (Megilah 13a) and
reached the "forty-nine gates of understanding" (Rosh Hashanah 21b)? If Moshe
would have designed the misvot on his own accord, surely he would have done so
in a manner which would have been easily understood by the masses. He would
have ensured that they would have been acceptable to potential dissenters such
as Korah, particularly when he and his followers come before him with techelet
garments. He could have assessed what their intention was. Yet, he did not
hesitate and responded immediately, "Yes, they require sisit with techelet."
Clearly, he was the true, faithful servant, and he transmitted the tradition just as
he received it, whether or not they made sense to him.Korah proceeded to
ridicule the misvot and was punished accordingly, together with his followers.
They were swallowed by the earth or burned together with the ketoret.
Nevertheless, "The sons of Korah did not die." Apparently, this ridicule found a
home in the hearts of some, and perhaps left some doubts with some people. For
this reason, the Creator presented immediately following Parashat Korah the
parasha of the para aduma, a misvah which is characterized by its irrationality,
the inability of the human intellect to comprehend the underlying wisdom behind
its guidelines and principles, as the ashes of the para aduma make "tamei" those
who are "tahor" and make "tahor'' those who are "tamei." Furthermore, the Or
Hahayim Haikadosh zs"l (the anniversary of whose passing occurs this week)
writes that Moshe informed the people of all the misvot. He revealed to them the
intricate secrets behind the misvot. Regarding this misvah, however, although he
understood the underlying rationale and concepts, as Hazal tell us, Moshe was
instructed to conceal the rationale behind this misvah from his audience. In this
way, they would recognize the fact that misvot are, essentially, beyond the
limited intellectual capacity of the human being: "For My thoughts are not like
your thoughts, and your ways are not like My ways, said Hashem. For just as the
heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than yours"
(Yeshayahu 55:8-9).For example, this misvah of techelet (which today we cannot
observe as we have lost the identity of the hilazon snail ), if its value was purely
intellectual, looking at the color and the ramifications thereof, Korah would have
had a valid argument. But could we claim a thorough understanding of all the
hidden meanings behind the threads of sisit, their knots, their effect in this world
and the upper world?Korah's argument reminds us of the story of the truck-driver
who asked a rabbi the following question: One morning he woke early and, before
praying Shaharit, he recited the entire book of Tehilim. Was he required to recite
Pesukei Dezimra? The rabbi smiled and answered, "If you would be asked to
transport in your truck several tanks of gasoline, how would you do it?" "With
joy!" answered the driver. "And before the trip," continued the rabbi, "Would you
fill the tank of the truck with gas?" "Of course," came the reply, "otherwise, I
couldn't drive the truck." "But isn't the truck already filled with gasoline," asked
the rabbi. "Of course," responded the driver, "but the tanks on top of the truck do
not help the tank inside the truck." The rabbi continued, "So certainly you could
understand that the Tehilim recited early in the morning do not relate to Pesukei
Dezimra recited later. They are two separate institutions, and what is
accomplished by one is not accomplished by the other."


"They should take for you a red heifer"
The Or Hahayim zs"l writes that when we come to eradicate the forces of
impurity, we take the symbol of absolute judgment, a cow which is entirely red,
including its horns and hoofs, for red is the symbol of judgment. We then burn it
and mix its ashes with water which symbolizes benevolence. This procedure
symbolizes the fact that only those who are entirely wicked should be destroyed,
who possesses not an ounce of good. But most sinners, who are still full of
misvot, should be worked with and brought along the path of teshuva.
Furthermore, even the totally wicked person is hopeless only if he never bore a
yoke, like the red heifer, meaning, if he never suffered any punishment. But
punishments subdue one's heart, and will motivate one to return to his Creator
with complete teshuva.
"They shall take for you a red heifer"
Rabbi Yosef Suso Hakohen zs"l, assistant head of the rabbis of Tunisia, asks, what
role did Moshe play in the preparation of the para aduma that Hashem said,
"They should take for YOU"? He answers that when Moshe saw the worship of the
golden calf, accompanied by song and dance, he broke the tablets. He thought,
the tablets are like the wedding contract between Hashem and His nation, so it
would be preferable for the contract to be torn, thus retroactively nullifying the
wedding, and Benei Yisrael would be like a single woman who defiled herself,
rather than an infidel married woman. Afterward, he reasoned, since the
Commandments are written in singular form, he, Moshe, was commanded, not
the rest of the people. But by this argument, he should have never broken the
tablets! Therefore, now that the para aduma was being prepared, a procedure
which served to atone for the golden calf, Moshe was now justified for the
breaking of the luhot.
"They shall take for you a red heifer"
Rabbi Ovadyah Seforno zs"l explains that misvot lead the individual along the
proper path. One may eat, but he must abstain from the forbidden foods. He
must separate a portion of his produce for ma'aser, recite berachot before and
after eating, as everything leads one along the path of moderation. The sinner
has veered to one extreme and he must, therefore, as part of his teshuva
process, temporarily veer to the opposite extreme. After his teshuva, he should
then return to the usual routine of moderation. The para aduma, which is
completely red, represents the extreme. The burning of the para aduma facing
the Ohel Moed symbolizes the opposite extreme. In the end, the ashes - the
results of the burning - are mixed with water, a mixture which symbolizes the
proper balance and moderation which is required from this point on.
"Thus is the statute of the Torah"
The Abarbanel zs"l writes that the para aduma process alludes to the Torah. The
cow is unblemished, just as the Torah is perfect. Whoever accepts the yoke of
Torah is released from other mundane burdens, just as the para aduma had never
been subject to a yoke. The Torah requires the expertise of a scholar from whom
to learn, just as the para aduma was prepared under the supervision of Elazar.
The Torah requires diligence and occasional contemplation in solitude, just as the

heifer was prepared outside the camp. The Torah requires one's thoughts to be
directed towards heaven, symbolized by the blood which is sprinkled specifically
towards the Ohel Moed. The Torah should be studied enthusiastically, alluded to
by the burning of the para aduma. The Torah gives life to those who study it, just
as live, fountain water is placed into the ashes. Finally, the Torah purifies a
person, just like the sprinkling of the ashes of the para aduma.
Rabbi Hayim Ben Atar zs"l
Thursday, 15 Tamuz, marks the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Hayim Ben
Atar, the Or Hahayim Hakadosh, who is buried on Har Hazeitim (Mount of Olives).
May his merit protect us and all of Israel, amen!Rabbi Hayim Ben Atar was born in
Saali, Morocco, three hundred years ago, in the year 5456. He moved to the city
of Menaas where he taught many students who drank his teachings thirstily.
During his lifetime barbaric Arabs plundered the community. They robbed,
murdered and raped. Rabbi Hayim lost all his possessions during the riots. He
then moved to Eres Yisrael, stopping along the way in Italy in order to publish his
works.In Italy he attained much notoriety and throngs of people came to study
from his mouth, and it reached the point where people could no longer fit into the
Beit Kenesset to hear his shiurim. After he published his works, "Or Hahayim and
"Peri Toar," he decided to continue his journey to Israel accompanied by thirty
exceptional students, and after a group of contributors agreed to support
Yeshivah Kenesset Yisrael in Yerushalayim.On Rosh Hodesh Menahem Av 5501 he
reached the port of Acre, and after visiting the graves of the sadikim in the
Galilee he moved to Yerushalayim and established his yeshivah, to which throngs
of students flocked from all parts of the world. These students included the Hida
zs"l. However, not even five years after his arrival he returned his soul to the Beit
Midrash of above, in the year 5503, at the age of forty-seven, and was buried on
Har Hazeitim.
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
By Rav Moshe Yossef shlit"a
Rosh Beit Midrash Meor Yisrael
When the Beracha for Wine Fulfills the Requirement for Other Beverages
In the previous issue we explained that the beracha of hagefen recited over wine
fulfills the requirement for other beverages, as well. The reason given is that wine
is the most prominent among all drinks. Therefore, other beverages are
considered less significant, and their blessing is fulfilled through the blessing over
the wine, even "lechatehilah."Therefore, it would seem that those who recite
kiddush in Bet Kenesset after mussaf, and those who listen to the beracha to
fulfill their obligation of kiddush, if they drink some wine they do not have to
recite shehakol on other beverages. But if they only heard the beracha, but did
not drink any wine, even though the principle is that one who hears the beracha
is considered to have recited it himself, and these people have therefore fulfilled
their misva of kiddush, nevertheless, since they did not drink of the wine, they
must recite a beracha over the beverages which they drink afterward. Although
they fulfilled their requirement of kiddush, they did not fulfill the requirement of

the beracha. The whole reason why the beracha for wine can fulfill the obligation
for other drinks is, as explained, that the other beverages are less significant
when wine is drunk together with them. Therefore, one who does not actually
drink wine has no way of fulfilling the requirement for the other beverages. Just
as if they were to speak after hearing the beracha they would require a new
beracha should they want to drink wine, certainly they must recite a new beracha
should they drink another beverage. However, there is an authority who argues,
and maintains that just as their listening to the beracha fulfills their obligation of
kiddush, so does the tasting of the wine by the one reciting kiddush works for
those listening. However, Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a, in Yehaveh Da'at vol. 8 (ch.
20) writes that the majority opinion does not follow this view, and therefore one
who did not drink wine must recite a beracha over other beverages. This is the
proper ruling to follow.(Parenthetically, from these authorities it emerges that
when the one reciting kiddush tastes the wine, all those listening fulfill their
obligation of kiddush, even without drinking, and this applies even to the daytime
kiddush, where the critical point is the drinking. Although one authority rules
otherwise, the predominant ruling is that one fulfills kiddush by listening to the
recitation, even if he does not drink.)However, needless to say, when kiddush is
recited in Bet Kenesset, and those listening wish to fulfill their obligation of
kiddush, they must eat at least a kezayit of "pat haba'ah bekisnin" in order to be
considered as having recited kiddush in the place where they ate, or they can
drink a revi'it of wine. If they fail to do this, then their listening to kiddush is
meaningless, and they have thus violated the prohibition of eating prior to
making kiddush, and one should be very careful in this regard.In summary, the
beracha of hagefen fulfills the requirement for all other beverages, but this
applies only to one who actually drinks wine. But one who merely hears the
beracha without drinking wine must recite a beracha on other beverages, as the
beracha of hagefen does not fulfill his requirement, since he did not drink from
the wine.
Who knows how much sleep a person needs over a twenty-four hour period? For
how long can a person last without sleep? What does one do if he has trouble
sleeping? We will discuss these and other similar question in this week's
column.A person sleeps for about a third of his life - i.e., most people sleep eight
out of every twenty-four hours. Or, in other words, out of every three hours of a
person's life, one of them is spent sleeping. From one perspective, this is lost
time, but, on the other hand, without sleep a person simply cannot survive. We
can survive longer without food than we can without sleep. In this sense, the
human is no different from any other creature. Hazal say that when one takes an
oath not to sleep for three days the oath is considered null and void, and the
individual is therefore punished for having uttered a wasteful oath. The Creator
created man in such a way that he needs sleep. Over the course of the day the
body exerts itself in so many different ways. The head works, so do the heart and
muscles, the nerves are under stress and the person becomes fatigued. At night,
as he goes to bed, the body rests and refreshes itself. For this reason, we recite
every morning the beracha, "...Who restores the souls to dead bodies." Meaning,
we thank the Creator Who restores our souls to us, Who refreshes our tired
bodies.How much sleep does a person require? This depends on the person.
Some can function on just a few hours of sleep, such as some famous people who
studied Torah diligently day and night and operated without any problem on just
a few hours of sleep. Most people, however, require an average of eight hours of

sleep. Age also plays a role. Babies sleep for the majority of the day, small
children sleep for about sixteen hours out of every twenty-four, and the time
needed shrinks as the child grows older. At age six the time is more or less split in
half, and from age 15 through 50 the average time needed is eight hours. At an
older age, less sleep in needed.A good sleep is very valuable, and people find
different ways in which to sleep properly. Some insist on a comfortable bed,
others worry about the temperature, others are particularly sensitive to noise.
However, the most important thing is that a person should go to sleep in a
relaxed state, not under stress or anxiety. Otherwise, the comfortable mattress
won't help. He will not sleep well, he will toss and turn and have bad dreams. This
may cause him to wake up cranky and uptight. It is difficult even to look at such a
person! As we believe, Hashem Who created the world looks out for each and
every one of us, and we can sleep easily knowing that He will take care of our
needs. Especially as we read "shema" right before we go to sleep, and we believe
that, "...the Guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers," we can sleep restfully
without any worries.
The Rabbi's Blessing (7)
FLASHBACK: Yishak Goite, a young house-attendant in a wealthy home in Triast,
Italy, gave all his savings to a visiting sadik who was collecting money for the
Jews in Jerusalem. The sadik blessed the boy that by his next visit the boy will be
among the wealthiest people in the city. Soon afterward, the boy came upon a
public auction of pirated goods, and he rested against some barrels whose
contents were unknown. Little did he know that the leaning against them
indicated his agreement to purchase them. The barrels were delivered to his
master's home who was furious at the boy for having made an expensive
purchase on unknown items without his permission. He ordered that the boy work
a full year without pay to make up for the lost money, fifty gold coins. .The
barrels were brought to the storage room where they took up quite a large
amount of space. Later, a new shipment of merchandise was delivered, and,
when no room could be found for it, the man's patience ran out and called his
servant. "Come," he said, "let's check what you bought and we'll see how you
invested your money - for water, forbidden wine, or expensive spices from the Far
East." "Spices are sold in boxes, not in barrels," said the servant humbly. He took
the torch to help his master find his way, and the man proceeded to the back of
the storage room. He removed the first lid and cried in disgust, "Bundles of flax!
These are not worth anything!" "Pardon me, Sir," said the boy respectfully, "but if
the barrels contained nothing but flax, the workers would not have struggled so
much to carry them."The man threw a glance at the boy and quickly removed the
flax which seemed to have no end. When he finished, the boy held the torch over
the barrel and the man kneeled close, squinting from the reddish glow which
shone from the depths of the barrel. The barrel was filled to one-third of its
capacity with gold coins. He quickly covered the treasure with the flax and he
turned his voice into a whisper. "Do you have any idea why they put the flax
here?""Yes," responded the boy, "in order that the barrels weight would be
equivalent to a barrel full of water.""Hmmm...I wonder," muttered the wealthy
man."What are you wondering, Sir, what is contained in the other barrels?""Not
necessarily," the man answered. "This barrel alone contains a huge fortune. If
they are all like this one, than you are without question the wealthiest man in
Triast. Let's check another barrel." He slammed the hammer against the next
barrel and removed the cover, and once again quickly took out bundles upon

bundles of flax. Again, gold coins shone in their faces. "It seems that we should
change places," muttered the man. "I will hold the torch for you!" "God forbid,"
shuddered the boy. "I am your faithful servant. But, please tell me, what were you
just wondering a few moments ago, Sir?" "Oh, that...I asked a question and you
answered such an intelligent answer, and I saw with my own eyes the expression,
'The one with wisdom is the one with wealth..."
to be continued...
The great Tanna Rabbi Meir was the son-in-law of Rabbi Hanina Ben Teradyon,
one of the ten martyrs of the Roman persecution who assembled large gatherings
of Torah against the Roman decree. The enemies grabbed him and sentenced him
to be burnt wrapped in the Sefer Torah. They took bundles of wool, soaked them
in water, and placed them near his heart so that he would not die quickly. They
killed his wife, as well, and sentenced their daughter to a life of shame. May
Hashem avenge their revenge and the revenge of the blood of all his
servants.Beruria, Rabbi Meir's wife, asked her husband to save his daughter from
such a shameful captivity. He dressed as a non-Jewish soldier, drove to the camp
of captives, and asked that the guard give him so-and-so captive. The guard
answered that he was afraid, lest a battalion of supervisors come and notice the
missing captive. The guard would then be sentenced to death. Rabbi Meir handed
him a sack full of gold and said, "Take a half for yourself and use the other half to
bribe your supervisor." The guard asked, "And when the money runs out, what
will I do then? I will be executed!" The Tanna responded, "Say, 'God of Rabbi Meir,
answer me!" and you will be saved. The guard continued, "How can you assure
me that this will work?" Rabbi Meir continued, "I will try it on myself." He went
into a den of hungry dogs. As soon as they saw him, they pounced to devour him.
He cried, "God of Rabbi Meir, answer me!" They immediately retreated. The
guard agreed and gave him the girl. A group of supervisors came, and he bribed
them. Eventually, the money ran out, the missing captive was noticed and the
guard was sentenced to death. They tied the noose around his neck and he cried,
"God of Rabbi Meir, answer me!" Immediately, the rope tore. They were all
amazed, and he told to them the entire incident. They attempted to capture
Rabbi Meir, and he was saved through a miracle. (Avoda Zara 18) From then on, a
tradition has developed that whenever a person encounters a crisis or has a
certain request, he should give charity and say twice, "God of Rabbi Meir, answer
me!" Many have merited salvation in this way.Rabbi Menahem Azayah of Pano
zs"l explains what these words mean: "Master of the World, answer me based on
the same intentions which Rabbi Meir intended." He thus explained the pesukim,
"Fortunate are those who dwell in Your home, they will continue to praise You,
Sela! Fortunate is the one who is strong with You, paths are in their hearts"
(Tehillim 84:5-6). Meaning, fortunate are all those who entered the house of
Hashem, referring to the profound, deep intentions, and turned themselves into a
dwelling place for the Shechina, in the spirit of, "This is my God and I will be a
dwelling place for Him" - and fortunate are those who trust in the "paths of their
hearts," those who are familiar with these deep concepts.From here the Hida zs"l
learned ("Petah Enayim" Avoda Zara 18) that it is a worthwhile practice to say, as
many do, before performing misvot or saying a tefila that they do so " the
knowledge of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai," meaning, by the knowledge and
intentions of those who were familiar with these deep intentions. Why do we
mention this on the week of Parashat Hukat? Because all this is found in
commentary of the Or Hahayim in this week's parasha. Hazal tell us (Bemidbar

Rabba 19:6) that the deep meaning of he para aduma was revealed only to
Moshe and the Almighty instructed him, "Speak to Benei Yisrael and tell them to
take for you a red heifer." What does it mean, "They shall take for you...?" It
means that besides the actual taking of the para aduma, they should have in
mind that the taking should be according to all that you know regarding the
deepest meaning behind this misvah. In this way, the misvah will be considered
complete with the proper intention, and in every generation one who performs a
misvah will do so having in mind that which Moshe understood about the misvah.
In this way, our misvot are combined with the sublime thoughts of Rabbi Shimon
Bar Yohai and even Moshe!
excerpts from
Sing You Righteous...
by: Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlit"a
Israel Among The Nations (part III)
Mr. Goodfriend: The boys were subjected to forcible conversion to Christianity ,
and many perished while resisting .One of them relates : "Did you pass through
the departments of Hell through which we passed? Did they ever smear you with
turpentine ,and then put you upon the top step in the sweat-room under a
burning and suffocating cloud of steam? Did they beat you with whips because
they discovered you whispering the prayer 'Modeh Ani'? Did they force you to
kneel on sharp stones for hours, because you refused to kiss that which they
commanded you to kiss? Did they find you secretly kissing an Arba Kanfot and
they sentenced you to lashes in the number of the threads of the Arba
Kanfot? . . . But not one day passed without our saying Modeh Ani; and we
refused to eat pork, until . . . they gave us no food or water for two days . . . and
this little Shimeon here attempted to eat the grass"(Zichron Yaakov I, p. 222).

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Parashat Balak
This Shabbat marks the seventeenth of Tammuz, and the fast is observed the
following day, on Sunday. Five tragedies occurred on this day: the breaking of the
luhot, the cessation of the korbanot during the siege of Jerusalem, the breach of
the city, the introduction of an idol into the Bet Hamikdash, and the burning of
the Torah. After the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash, the fast was observed
not on this day but on the ninth of Tammuz. It was on this day when
Nevuchadnessar's army broke through the city. During the destruction of the
second Bet Hamikdash, Titus' armies breached the city on the seventeenth, and
the fast was thus transferred to this day as the second destruction is the more
significant one for us today. (See Ta'anit 28b; Rosh Hashanah 18b.)
The question begs itself, why did the people fast on the seventh of Tammuz in the
aftermath of the first Bet Hamikdash? The luhot were broken on the seventeenth.
Was the breach of the city more significant than the breaking of the luhot?
The answer is clear, and very relevant to us today. Were the fasts to simply
commemorate tragic events, then unquestionably, the episode of the golden calf
and the breaking of the luhot are worse. But the main focus of the fast is
teshuvah and self-retrospection, a concerted effort to correct our shortcomings.
In this regard, we look first and foremost to returning from exile, to the gathering
of the entire nation to our sacred land, dedicated to our faith and our Torah,
sanctity and the missvot. We look primarily to the building of the Bet Hamikdash,
speedily and in our days. For this reason we fast on the days marking the
conquest and destruction, so that we focus on their cause, and, God willing, bring
ever so quickly the ultimate redemption.
Our lives are so pressure-ridden, like a sharp piece of glass piercing a fresh
wound. This is the curse of the modern age, the age of relentless progress. It is
very unpleasant to read the forecasts of how the three most common causes of

death will soon be heart-attacks, depression, and automobile accidents. Maybe

our standard of living continues to rise, but this rise is both exhausting and
debilitating. Its price is too high, and we pay for it with our health and our nerves.
We Jews are fortunate in that we still have, at very least, Shabbat and hagim,
days to relax and live in sanctity. We have days during which we can rest and
spend valuable, quality time with our families. How miserable are those whose
humdrum of daily life continues into these days of rest.
Indeed, our lives are pressured. Importing requires the payment of import tax,
the home requires the payment of a mortgage, the telephone requires the
payment of a bill, the car requires the payment of insurance and gasoline, and
the credit cards often cost overdraft charges. One never reaches the point where
he can say, "Enough!" The race simply never stops. We are caught in the current
and cannot escape. Everybody owns a cellular phone, everyone is exchanging
their car for a better one. There has emerged a subtle social pressure,
expectations from the family, and so many homes have resorted to a dual
income, by both spouses. They work beyond their capacity, put in extra hours,
and submit themselves to the pressures of two jobs, in order to bring in the
salary, to submerge their debt, cover their expenses, and continue the race
The pressures of the workplace continue without stop, the boss demands high
standards, the consumers insist on only the best, the employees complain
continuously, each one with his own perspective. The slightest setbacks bring
about such distress and disappointment. Jealousy and competition intensify. It
sometimes appears as though nobody smiles anymore, everybody is nervous and
anxious. Eventually, the individual says to himself, maybe I can forget everything
once in a while, maybe I can look forward to at least a few minutes of peace and
quiet, when I come home in the evening I will be greeted with smiles, calm, and
understanding. This will make up for all the hours of anxiety throughout the day.
True, it's a much smaller period of time, but it is ever so critical. This anticipation
gives one the strength and wherewithal to get through the rigors of the workday
and, in effect, this hope gives one the wherewithal to get through life on a daily
But he opens the door, and the dream quickly fades. The hope and anticipation
disappears into thin air. No, not always, and certainly not always at the first
moment. But let's face it - the pressure of modern life has found its way into the
home, and tension has found its home in ours. Alienation, indifference, and
fatigue, not to mention the occasional arguments and squabbles, anger and
Why? Weren't these homes built upon strong foundations of love, with such
glamorous hopes, and the family sincerely longs to live in peace and harmony?
What happened? How did the spirit of alienation and discontentment creep into
such homes?
Rabbi Baruch Dov of Kaminess zs"l found the answer in our parashah. In fact, he
found both the answer to this question and the solution to the problem. Bilam
had the power of curse and hatred within him. He looked upon Benei Yisrael with
his scornful eyes and tried to hurt them with the poison of his curse. He failed, he
was unable to fulfill his mission. Why? "How great are your tents, Yaakov, your
dwelling places, Yisrael!" As Hazal explain, he saw that the openings to their
tents do not face each other, in keeping with appropriate standards of modesty.

Others explain that he saw them gathering in the Batei Kenesset and Batei
Midrash for tefilah and Torah study.
Said Rabbi Baruch Dov, a person possesses both a body and a soul. The soul is
pure, but what about the body? If one's prays properly, if he attends Torah
classes, and observes the proper standards of sseniut, then the body, too,
becomes pure. Peace, tranquillity, and harmony then exist between body and
soul, in fulfillment of the pasuk, "Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its
roads are peace." Otherwise, Heaven forbid, the body resembles that of an
animal, and tension emerges between it and the soul. As the pasuk states, "There
is no peace in my bones because of my sins."
The Almighty punishes in a manner commensurate with the sin committed. If the
individual disrupts the harmony between his body and soul, then this relationship
will erupt in his home, as well. This is not the way. Let us strengthen our
commitment to proper sseniut, especially with regard to how we dress. Let us not
neglect our attendance to Torah classes, and we will then merit true, genuine
peace, and we will eradicate tension and disunity from every Jewish home.
The Crying-Bird
The "crying-bird" is a most interesting and unique bird. The sound it makes is
very sad and resembles the cry of a baby. The sound is full of agony, almost like
the one producing it is carrying all the pain in the world on his shoulders.
Scientists have nicknamed this bird as "the crybaby." It is an egg-laying bird,
which resides in the warm, tropical regions of America, especially along the
Florida coast. Like many other birds, this bird has been blessed with a long beak
and long, thin legs, similar to those of a stork. This allows the bird to stand in
shallow water and in swamps to search for food. This special bird's favorite food
is snails, which it catches with its long beak. Sometimes it will stamp in the mud
with its legs until it finds a snail to its liking. When the crybaby decides upon its
chosen snail, it places it on a piece of wood, sticks the wooden slab into a narrow
place, like in between two leaves or in a crack, and waits patiently. It has no
choice but to wait, because so long as the snail remains inside it is safe from all
harm. Only once the snail irresponsibly sticks its head out to see what's going on
does the bird catch the snail's head with its beak and drags it out. Interestingly
enough, it doesn't swallow its prey immediately. Rather, it keeps it in its beak for
a minute or two as if it were engaged in deep thought and concentration.
As stated, this bird's sound resembles the cry of a baby, a cry which arouses
compassion. However, babies who fall or need a parent are not the only ones who
cry. Today, many Jews have fallen from their crib, so-to-speak, they have fallen
from true Judaism, the path of Torah and missvot. They cry. Some cry loudly,
aware of their having done wrong and interested in returning. They deserve our
help. Others cry secretly, through an inner, inaudible weeping of the soul which is
a part of our God above. This soul, which yearns so much for even a slight
experience of Judaism, cries bitterly when there is no one to provide it with its
spiritual necessities, an education of purity and sanctity. Indeed, many of these
people who cry are adults biologically, though from a religious standpoint they
are still children, as they have yet to learn the ways of Torah and missvot. They
souls cry out of the emptiness in which they find themselves, and we may not
shut our ears from hearing t his bitter wailing. We must make our top priority to
help them, to direct them to the study of the Torah.

The Rabbi's Blessing (8)
Flashback: Young Yisshak Goite, a house attendant in a wealthy home in Triast,
Italy, gave his life's savings to a ssadik who was visiting to collect funds for the
Jewish community of Yerushalayim. The ssadik blessed the boy that by his next
visit Yisshak will be among the wealthiest people in the city. Soon later, Yisshak
came across a public auction of pirated goods, and leaned against some barrels
with unknown contents which, little did he know, indicated his willingness to
purchase them. The barrels were delivered to his master's home who was angry
with the boy for having made the purchase. When the barrels were opened, the
boy and his master were shocked to find that they were filled with gold coins.
The man's eyes glistened, and he reminded the boy of the rabbi's blessing, that
by his next visit to Triast the youngster will be among the wealthiest people in the
city. Suddenly, the man's face turned pale.
"What happened?" asked the boy in a panic.
"It occurred to me that this whole incident with barrels must never be known to
the authorities, because through their thirst for money, they are likely to cause us
trouble and spread false accusations against us," answered the wealthy
merchant. He then decided to introduce his young attendant to the secrets of the
trade. He took a handful of gold coins and secretly sent them to his contacts in
the distant cities, who, in return, sent him merchandise. He kept a precise record
of all the transactions, and, in this way, the boy learned about trading. In
amazing fashion, the boy demonstrated great acumen and natural talent.
A year later, when the ssadik returned, the boy had already distinguished himself
as a prominent and wealthy merchant, and his donation was equivalent to that of
his master, just as the messenger from Yerushalayim had said in his berachah.
When the ssadik left, the boy said to his former master, "What will be with me? I
am ignorant in Torah. Can I remain this way forever? So long as poverty forced
me to work, I was absolved from devoting my time to study. But now, what is
stopping me?"
His master agreed, so the boy kept his savings with the man. The merchant
conducted business on behalf of himself and the boy with these funds, giving the
boy a generous, monthly stipend, which allowed to boy to support his parents
comfortably and honorably, support himself, and hire one of the local scholars to
learn with him.
With diligence, patience, enthusiasm, and devotion, he applied himself to the
study of Torah. Talents which had been hidden for so long were finally disclosed
and flowed like a fountain of spring water. Soon he became a talmid hacham, a
renown expert, and people began referring to him as, "Rabbi Yisshak Goite," both
in his presence and not in his presence.
Rabbi Yisshak continued to grow in Torah and published his work, "Sedei Yisshak,"
which contained his "hiddushim" on Shas.

To be continued...
"How great are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places, Israel"
The Alshich zs"l explains that here Bilam prophesied about the Shechinah
establishing its residence among Benei Yisrael. First, "the tent," referring to the
mishkan in the desert. Then, after Benei Yisrael's entry into Eress Yisrael, the
mishkan was established first in Gilgal, and subsequently in Shiloh, Nov, and
Givon. All these locations are included in the expression, "...your tents, Yaakov."
Afterward, the Shechinah resided in the two Batei Mikdash, which were
permanent structures, and are therefore referred to as, "dwelling places," as the
pasuk states (Tehillim 132:5), "Dwelling places ('mishkenot') for the Strong One of
"Water will flow from its buckets, and his seed will be in many waters"
The Alshich continues to explain that even during the destruction, the Shechinah
continues to reside among Benei Yisrael, through the Torah, which is compared to
water - "'Water' refers only to Torah" (Bava Kamma 82). This is what is meant by
the expression, "Water will flow from its buckets," as Torah is transmitted from
the scholars who received it from their teachers to their own students." "And his
seed will be in many waters" - this refers to the people who study Torah, whose
numbers will rise and in whose merit the redemption will come. This is why it is
said that the Moshiah will be " a poor man riding on a donkey," meaning,
that the nation will have few merits, and therefore he will resemble a poor man.
But he will ride on the merits of those who study Torah, as the tribe of Yissachar
is compared to a donkey who bends its back to bear the burden of Torah
(Bereishit 49:14) - "and its kingship will be raised" - speedily, and in our days!
"How great are your tents, Israel, your dwelling places, Israel"
The "Siftei Kohen" zs"l explains that "tovu" is related to the expression, "hatavat
hanerot," the lighting of the candles of the menorah. "Ohalecha" is related to the
word, "orah," light. Meaning, "Yaakov," referring to each and every Jew, is like a
vessel, prepared to receive the Shechinah - "your dwelling places, Israel," that
the Shechinah will reside within each Jew, as the pasuk states, "I [Hashem] will
reside among them." This will occur only if the individual applies himself to grow
by abstaining from evil, symbolized by the lighting of the candles, and the
performance of good, by increasing the light of Torah and missvot.
"How great are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places, Yaakov"
The Hid"a zs"l explains that Yaakov, related to the word, "akev," ankle, refers to
the lower aspects. "Yisrael," which is related to the word, "serarah," superiority,
symbolizes the higher levels. In other words, "Yaakov" symbolizes the body,
which originates from the ground, whereas "Yisrael" represents the soul which
originates from the Heavens.
Furthermore, "tent" refers to that which is temporary and fleeting, while "dwelling
places" implies permanence. And thus, our pasuk says, "How great" - how
wonderful it is, when "your tents - Yaakov," when the person recognizes the fact
that his body is only temporary and does not invest all his time and energies into

his body. And "your dwelling place - Israel," he realizes that the soul is eternal as
are its acquisitions, and he therefore works to build the soul rather than the body.
Rabbi Yehudah Sadkah zs"l
The problem of ignorance among the Jewish children in Israel was solved. The
problem of their abandoning their tradition was already near its end, and the
millions of Jewish children who did not know, "Shema Yisrael" did not both the
Minister of Education. Nor did the problem of violence in the Israeli schools. The
Minister of Education of the time was focused on just one goal, one top priority allowing for meetings between Jewish and Arab children, to establish mutual
understanding and mixed marriages. This was the most important goal.
"Bilam's plot!" cried Rabbi Yehudah Sadkah. Bilam was the first to initiate
meetings between Benei Yisrael and the girls of Moav. As a result, twenty-four
thousand people died in a plague. Rabbi Yehudah arranged a delegation of rabbis
to meet with the Minister of Education to try to persuade him to give up this plan,
which included summer camps for Jewish and Arab boys and girls.
The Minister of Education greeted them warmly. After all, he was a believing Jew,
and he understood that the state survived through overt miracles. He spoke of
this during his conversation with the rabbis.
"Do you want these miracles to continue?" asked Rabbi Yehudah Ssedakah.
"Of course," answered the minister.
"How will they continue," asked the rabbi, "if these meetings will cause the
Shechinah to remove itself from our people? The Torah determined, 'I have
separated you from the nations to be for Me,' which Rashi explains to mean, 'If
you are separate from them, then you are for Me. If not, then you are for
Nevuchadnessar and his cohorts!'"
And the Minister of Education did not know what to say...
Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
By Rav Mosheh Yossef shlit"a, Rosh Bet Midrash Meor Yisrael
Does the Berachah For Wine Fulfill the Requirement For Other Beverages?
In the previous issue we explained that just as the berachah, "borei peri hagefen"
recited over wine fulfills the obligation of berachah rishonah for other beverages,
so does the berachah aharonah over wine - "al hagefen..." - fulfill the requirement
of berachah aharonah for other drinks. The reason is that wine is considered the
most prominent of all beverages. Since all other drinks are considered less
significant, they are included in the berachah recited over wine, both before and
However, this applies only if the individual first drank from the wine and only
then drank other drinks. In this case, the berachah for wine fulfills the

requirement for the other beverages. However, if the person first drank the other
drinks and only thereafter drank from the wine, it is not so simple that the
berachah of "al hagefen" over the wine will fulfill the requirement of berachah
aharonah for the other drinks. For the Shiltei Giborim writes that in such a case
one must recite independent berachot for the wine and the other drink. And,
many Aharonim follow this ruling, that if one drinks water and only thereafter
drinks wine, he must recite a "borei nefashot" for the water and then the
berachah al hagefen for the wine. (Even if he drank some more water after he
drank some wine, still, the berachah aharonah for the wine does not fulfill his
requirement for the water, and he must still recite a borei nefashot for the water.)
However, from the Kol Bo and Orhot Hayyim it seems that even if the
requirement of borei nefashot for the water preceded the obligation of al hagafen
for the wine, the berachah aharonah for the wine still fulfills the requirement for
the water (against the position of the Shiltei Giborim). And several Aharonim rule
accordingly, that the berachah aharonah over wine fulfills the requirement for the
borei nefashot for the water, even if the water was drunk before the wine.
And so, we face in this regard a dispute between both Rishonim and Aharonim. As
we have mentioned many times before in the name of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a,
whenever we face an argument with regard to the requirement to recite a
berachah, we follow the principle of "safek berachot lehakel," and we do not
recite the berachah when in doubt whether or not it is warranted. Therefore, one
who drinks water and afterwards drinks wine, recites only the berachah aharonah
for the wine and thereby fulfills his requirement for the water. (See Yabia Omer
vol. 5, 17:6.) Optimally, however, one who drank water and now wants to drink
wine, he should first recite borei nefashot for the water and only then recite borei
peri hagefen and drink the wine. In this way, he avoids the question entirely. This
is not considered an unnecessary berachah, for with regard to the laws of
berachot, whenever we try to avoid any questionable circumstance we may do so
even if it involves a berachah which otherwise would not have become
necessary, and this does not constitute an unnecessary berachah. (See Kaf
Hahayim 208:82.)
In summary, one who drinks wine and afterwards drinks water, he does not
require any berachot for the water, neither before or after he drinks. However, if
he first drinks water and only then decides to drink wine, optimally, he should
first recite borei nefashot over the water and then drink wine with proper
berachot before and after the wine. However, if he did drink the wine without
having recited a borei nefashot for the water, rather than reciting a questionable
berachah, he should simply recite the berachah aharonah over the wine and not
recite the borei nefashot for the water.
"The Fifth Event"
"Listen, our brothers, Benei Yisrael. The fast of the fourth month will take place
this Sunday, and may the Almighty transform it into a day of joy and celebration."
Five calamities occurred on this day, say Hazal. The luhot were broken in the
aftermath of the sin of the golden calf, the daily sacrifice in the Bet Hamikdash
was canceled during the siege of the city before the destruction of the first Bet
Hamikdash (as there were no more sheep to be brought), the city of Yerushalayim
was broken through by enemy troops prior to the destruction of the second Bet

Hamikdash, the Roman general burned the Torah scroll, and an idol was brought
into the Bet Hamikdash.
This list seems to suffer from a serious imbalance. Some items involve
cataclysmic events which changed the course of history, tragedies for which we
continue to mourn to this very day, and other events listed seem relatively minor
in proportion. How do we include all these events together, in a single list?
"Had the luhot not been broken, Torah would never be forgotten from Israel, and
no nation would be able to rule over them" (Eruvin 54a). Because of our limited
intellect, we cannot grasp the full impact of our forgetting the Torah. But we can
understand the significance of the ability of other nations to govern over us. Had
the luhot not been broken, we would not have been subject to the rule of Sisra
and Yavin, Ammon and the Pelishtim, Shishak and Pharaoh, Sanheriv and
Nevuchadnessar, Antiochus or Titus. We would not have been exiled to seventy
nations and spread out over the five continents. We would have been spared the
flames of the Inquisition and the gas chambers, the concentration camps and the
ghettos. Furthermore, "Had the luhot not been broken, the Angel of Death would
have had no power over them" (Tanhuma, Shelah 13) and "...punishments would
have no power over them, for they would be like angels" (Tanhuma, Ekev 8).
Imagine - a life without problems, without any pain or suffering. A life like that of
an anglel, a life without measles, high blood pressure, cancer, or any form of
illness, depression, or lethargy. A different world completely, one full of good
health and exuberance. All this was lost because of the sin of the golden calf. All
this was lost when the luhot were broken.
The truth is, that as much as we think we understand, that is how far we are from
a total picture of the reward which could be ours, just as we cannot fully
appreciate the tragedy of an idol being brought into the Bet Hamikdash, or the
calamity of the cessation of the daily korbanot, in whose merit the entire nation
and the whole world existed (Megillah 31b), and in whose absence the nation and
the world descended to the lowest depths.
We can understand the magnitude of the tragedy which ensued when the
enemies broke through the walls of the city which contained masses of people,
leaving hundreds and thousands of starving people open for murder and
captivity, God forbid, may the Almighty avenge their blood.
And together with these four events, the historic significance of which is clear, we
mention a fifth, an event about which we know few details, only speculation - the
burning of the Torah scroll. One of our enemies threw a Torah scroll onto the fire.
True, this is terrible and frightening. But it seems strange that for this a fast day
would be decreed upon the entire nation. Hundreds of millions of Jews over the
last two millennia fasted on account of this single, isolated incident? Can this be
equated with the sin of the golden calf, the breaking of the luhot, the placing of
an idol in the Bet Hamikdash, the breaching through the walls of the crowded
This question could be asked only by one who does fully appreciate the value and
sanctity of a Sefer Torah, and does not understand what the burning of a Torah
scroll really means.

The Maharil Diskin zs"l said about himself that he is like vinegar compared to
wine when he compares himself to his father, Rabbi Binyamin Diskin zs"l. And he
told the story about a neighboring city which had suffered a fire, and many
homes, as well as the Bet Kenesset, went up in flames.
The residents found among the ashes some remnants from the Sefer Torah and
they turned to Rabbi Binyamin for guidance as to how to proceed. Outside his
room, they found his son, the Maharil Diskin. He heard their question, looked into
the matter, and muttered an answer. He then took them into his father's room, to
see if he had guessed the correct answer. "So, what do you think, did he rule as I
did?" asked the Maharil when he was telling this story.
"We don't know," said his audience. "Either do I. He fainted as soon as he saw the
destroyed parchment of the Torah scroll."

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Parashat Pinhas
A Priestly Lineage
"G-d spoke to Moshe saying: 'Pinhas the son of Elazar the son of Aharon the priest
has dispelled my anger from the children of Israel by being zealous for my sake
among them; I have not destroyed the children of Israel in my zeal. Therefore tell
him: I am granting him my covenant of peace.'"
Rashi attempts to explain why Pinhas' father and grandfather are referred to
here. "The Jewish people mocked Pinhas, saying, 'Have you seen how this
descendent of Yitro, who fattened calves for idolatrous worship, has killed a
prince of one of the Jewish tribes?' Therefore the Torah pointed out that he was
not only a descendent of Yitro, but also of Aharon."
Why did the Jews mock Pinhas? Why was G-d's personal assurance that Pinhas
had averted His anger insufficient? Had they not seen with their own eyes that a
plague had wiped out twenty-four thousand Jews, only stopping with Pinhas'
To explain this reaction of the people, we must realize that religious zeal is not
enough, even if it produces positive results. The only time zealotry can be viewed
in a good light is if its motivations are pure. Thus, the Jews mocked Pinhas'
motivations: "Do you know why Pinhas intervened? Do you know why he took
that spear in hand? It is because non-Jewish blood flows in his veins! Foreign
motives move him! After all, his ancestor fattened calves for idolatrous
Therefore the Torah provided Pinhas' lineage. G-d Himself, Who knows the depths
of man's heart, made known to all that all of Pinhas' feelings were pure. He was
entirely a spiritual descendent of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing it, loving all
people and drawing them close to Torah.
The Talmud recounts that Rabban Gamliel once came before the sages of his
generation and asked them: "Can anyone here compose a benediction against
the Sadducees [a Second Temple era heretical Jewish sect who often persecuted
the Rabbis] and the Jewish traitors? Shemuel HaKattan, one of the Rabbis,
responded by composing the blessing. [We still say it today in the Amida prayer.]
Rabbi Yehezkel Abramsky, of blessed memory, asked a basic question about this
talmudic account: What was so difficult about composing the blessing? True,
Shemuel HaKattan was renowned as one of the outstanding sages of his time, "a
pious and humble man, a student of Hillel about whom a heavenly voice
proclaimed that he would have been as worthy to receive prophecy as Moshe,
had the generation been deserving of such a phenomenon (Sanhedrin 11)." But
why was such greatness necessary to compose the blessing against heretics?

The answer, Rabbi Abramsky explained, lies in Shemuel Hakattan's personality,

reflected in his oft-repeated adage: "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and
when he stumbles, do not let tour heart be glad." (Avot 4:19) This verse from
Proverbs (24:17) was a frequent saying of Shemuel HaKattan. Only such a man
could compose a prayer against heretics, because his war against them was
totally free of any feeling of gloating at their defeat.
Rabbi Haim of Brisk made a similar point. How can we discern, he asked, whether
a given public figure's battles against evil and corruption stem from pure motives,
or if it is merely an outlet for his cravings for battle and controversy? Rabbi Haim
provided a yardstick by which to measure his sincerity, using the charming but
penetrating example of mice. Mice have two natural enemies, he explained. The
cat lies in wait to pounce on them, while the housewife also tries to obliterate
them by setting traps. Yet an enormous difference exists between the two
predators: The housewife despises mice; when she finds them she is disturbed.
She wishes they had never lived, and regrets the battle in which she has been
caught. Yet the cat -- ah, the cat rejoices over the fact that he has mice to hunt.
He is happy when he finds them, joyous when he pursues them, and elated when
he catches them ...
True zealotry, of the kind of Pinhas and Shemuel HaKattan, brings peace as its
reward, because it, too, yearns for peace. Our way should be that of Aharon the
priest: "Loving peace and pursuing it, loving all people, and drawing them close
to Torah."
From the Wellsprings of the Parasha
"Pinhas the son of Elazar the son of Aharon has dispelled My wrath ..."
"Therefore tell him: I am giving him My covenant of peace." The Sages explain: "It
is only fitting that Pinhas receive his reward." Rabbi Yosef Gabbai, of blessed
memory, asked: Don't the Sages teach us that "we perform the mitzvot in this
world, but receive their reward in the World to Come"? If so, why did Pinhas
receive his reward in this world? He explained that Pinhas restored peace
between G-d and His nation, and bringing peace among those who quarrel is an
example of a mitzva which one receives some measure of reward for in this
world, even though most of his reward in reserved for the World to Come. Hence,
"it is only fitting that Pinhas receive his reward."
One would think, said the author of the "Holy One of Israel," that Pinhas' deed
would distance him from the priesthood, because Jewish law dictates that a priest
who kills another person cannot recite the priestly blessing; yet, Pinhas' action
was exactly what granted him the priesthood. The explanation lies in the fact that
the murderous priest cannot perform his priestly functions for the same reason
that a sword cannot be used in building the altar -- the Temple service brings
good and life, not death and the sword. Pinhas, however, dispelled G-d's wrath
though his deed and stopped the plague which was destroying the Jewish people.
Thus, he increased life, and was therefore deserving through his act of the
covenant of the priesthood.
The holy Rabbi Ya'akov Abuhatzira explained that the Jews were mocking Pinhas,
as his mother's father Yitro had fattened calves for idolatrous worship. The
Talmud, however, tells us that Pinhas' mother had two ancestors -- Yitro and
Yosef. Both are hinted at in Pinhas' name; the gematriya of Pinhas is "ben Yosef,"

the son of Yosef, while that of "ben Elazar ben Aharon" is "ben Yitro." Instead of
looking at the idolatrous ancestor, the people should have considered Pinhas'
other, righteous, ancestor.
Rabbi Avraham Abuhatzira asked: If G-d was so angry at the Jewish people that
He was ready, G-d forbid, to destroy them entirely, why did Pinhas only kill the
prince of the tribe of Shimon? He answered: True, they had all sinned, but at least
the others left the camp when they behaved inappropriately. The prince of
Shimon was the first who wanted to bring a Midianite woman into the midst of
the camp, and that could not be passed over in silence ...
The Golden Column:
The Sage Rabbi Yehiya Yitzhak HaLevi of blessed memory
Rabbi Yehiya Yitzhak HaLevi, the rabbi of Tzinaa, followed Pinhas' lead in his own
time by defiantly preventing those who would have weakened Judaism from doing
so. It was a dangerous time of wars and upheaval, and many Jews faltered in their
observance of mitzvot and attempted to imitate non-Jewish ways.
Rabbi Yehiya saw to it that they were isolated from the community; they decided,
in response, to ensure that he would never bother them again. They bribed a
Muslim judge so that he would accuse the rabbi falsely and cause him to be
arrested. The judge agreed and sent a troop of soldiers to bring the rabbi.
Rabbi Yehiya wisely discerned what was happening, so that when the soldiers
came, he greeted them with food and drink and made one request of them: that
he be allowed, in accordance with his honor, to walk in front while under arrest,
with the soldiers following behind. They agreed, and Rabbi Yehiya was thus able
to choose the path they would take to the prison. They walked around and
around, until they reached the palace of the Imam who respected Rabbi Yehiya.
Suddenly Rabbi Yehiya turned quickly and entered the palace! The Imam received
him warmly, while Rabbi Yehiya told him that the soldiers were standing outside,
ready to arrest him by order of the judge, who, it seems, had been bribed by the
rabbi's opponents. The Imam immediately commanded that the judge be
summoned; upon his arrival the judge confessed that he had accepted a bribe to
falsely imprison the revered rabbi. The enemies of the rabbi were discredited ...
This story teaches us a penetrating lesson. Often Heaven sends our way a "troop
of punishments" to rebuke us for our various sins, and we are "imprisoned" in
their hands. Yet when we come to the gates of the synagogue, we are slipping
away to the palace of the King, and we can beseech Him to free us from any
distress and annul any evil decree.
Question and Answer
-- based on the decisions of former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel
Rabbi Ovadya Yosef
Written by Rabbi Moshe Yosef, Head of the Beit Midrash "Me'or Yisrael"
How much wine must one drink in order to exempt other beverages from a
Last time we explained at length that if one pronounces a "borei peri hagefen" on
wine, he need not (and should not) make a blessing on any other beverages

which he is drinking at that time. Some of the later authorities write that this is
only true if he drinks a substantial amount of wine -- i.e. a cheek's full -- but if he
merely tastes the wine, he still must make a blessing on the other beverages.
However, other authorities argue and opine that even a tiny sip is enough to
exempt one from making a blessing on the other drinks. (This debate is cited in
Bi'ur Halacha chapter 174 in the paragraph beginning "Yayin poter.")
There is a general principle in the laws of making blessings that if we are unsure
whether one should make a blessing or not, it is better not to make it, rather than
risk uttering G-d's name in vain. Thus, here too, since this uncertainty exists, if
one drinks even a small amount of wine he should not pronounce a blessing on
other drinks which he has afterwards. This is especially true in light of the fact
that the Kaf HaHaim (174:5) points out that this is the opinion of Rabbi Yosef
Karo, author of the Shulhan Aruch, who merely states that drinking wine absolves
one of the need to make a blessing on other drinks without specifying that he
drink a certain minimum amount of wine.
Nonetheless, it is proper that one who wants to use his blessing of "hegefen" to
cover other drinks should drink at least a cheek's full of wine first. This way he
will avoid any controversy. If he has already drunk a small amount of wine, and
now wants to have other drinks, he should ask someone who has not had any
wine to recite the blessing on the drinks -- "shehakol" -- on his behalf (i.e. the
other person should recite the blessing of "shehakol" and the one who had some
wine should answer "Amen" and then drink the other beverage). Alternately, the
one who had a little wine should have some solid food which requires a blessing
of "shehakol" in order to absolve the drinks from needing a blessing beyond any
shadow of a doubt. However, one who cannot practice any of these strict ways of
avoiding the controversy is entitled to drink other beverages after having a little
wine without reciting a "shehakol."
Once he has finished his drink -- having had a sip of wine but a substantial
amount of the other beverage -- the Sha'ar Hatziyun raises the issue of what final
blessing he should make. Rabbi Ovadya Yosef taught us that since he did not
have a substantial amount of wine (i.e. a "revi'it" at one sitting) he cannot make
the special final blessing for wine. Since, however, he did have that amount of
the other beverage, he should make the final blessing for most beverages -"bore nefashot." (See Yalkut Yosef section 3.)
To summarize: One who wants to have wine and thus not have to make a blessing
on other drinks, should preferable drink a cheek's full (i.e. most of a "revi'it") of
wine first. If he only sipped the wine, without drinking a cheek's full, he should
ideally try to absolve himself from making the blessing on the other drinks in
some other way (e.g. asking a friend to recite "shehakol" for him, or eating some
solid with the blessing of "shehakol"), but if he cannot do so, he may drink the
other beverage without a blessing, since we rule that in a case of uncertainty we
avoid making an additional blessing. As long as he has not had a "revi'it" of wine,
however, he does not make the special final blessing for wine. Thus, if he had
less than this amount of wine but a "revi'it" of the other beverage, he makes a
"bore nefashot" when he is done.
The Blessing of the Rabbi
(Part 9 -- A continuation from last week)

Rabbi Yitzhak Goite of blessed memory, who as a servant boy had an especially
warm and kind heart and merited to be blessed by the righteous Sadik with
tremendous wealth, excelled in his Torah studies and authored a seminal work,
"Sede Yitzhak," on topics in the Talmud.
Rabbi Hai Gabizon recounted how Rabbi Goite, while studying assiduously in the
yeshiva of Rabbi Avraham Afadi, once found himself unable to understand a
complicated talmudic discussion about identifying non-kosher birds. Suddenly, a
raven -- one of the non-kosher birds described in the text -- perched itself on the
window next to Rabbi Goite, and allowed him to examine it, until he was able to
fully understand the talmudic discussion.
Rabbi Yitzhak continued to grow in Torah, yet he never forgot his roots. "I was a
simple lad," he recounted. "We were poor and my family could not afford for me
to study. Yet I learned how to read and write, and I was sent to work. Had I not
merited the blessing of the Rabbi, and not merited such great wealth, I would still
be a mere messenger boy, totally ignorant of Torah! Just think -- how many
"Yitzhak Goite"s there must be in the city, and how many "Sede Yitzhak"s which
have not been written!" He decided, therefore, to devote his life to educating the
youth of his town. Even though he was a renowned sage and scholar, he chose to
become the principal of the local school. Through this institution he guided the
local youth, and any student who could not afford his education was paid for from
money out of Rabbi Goite's own pocket -- the money which had come about due
to the Rabbi's blessing.
For many years he served as principal of the school in Triast , until he went to
Israel in his old age. It was only a few years after a terrible earthquake had
leveled Tzefat, killing many and causing many to leave the ruined city and move
to Jerusalem. Rabbi Yitzhak, however, chose specifically to settle in Tzefat, in
order to rebuild the ruins with his own money. He helped many families, and, as
was his wont, invested in the area of education.
He established a stunning yeshiva in town, constructed from Italian marble. He
helped, as well, to build and restore other synagogues. Tradition has it that he
build the structure around the grave of the holy Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai in
To this day Rabbi Yitzhak Goite is remembered with pride by the residents of
Tzefat, who have been holding memorial services for him in the various local
synagogues since his passing two hundred and twenty three years ago. May his
soul be bound up in the bind of eternal life.
The Greatest of All
Who was the greatest of all the students of Rabbi Yehuda the Prince, our holy
master? Who was known as the "Great One?" It was the great and holy Rabbi
Hiyya. When the prophet Eliyahu appeared to Rabbi Yehuda the Prince, we are
told, he appeared in the form of Rabbi Hiyya.
When Rabbi Yehuda the Prince died, he commanded that the political leadership
of the Jewish people should be assumed by his son. But whom did he appoint as
Rosh Yeshiva in his stead? It was not Rabbi Hiyya, but rather Rabbi Hanina bar
Hama. Rabbi Hanina refused the position out of modesty, and in turn the position
was offered -- not to the great Rabbi Hiyya, but to another rabbi, Rabbi Afas.

Why was this greatest of Rabbi Yehuda's students, the author of the Tosefta,
passed over? We should not think that he was overlooked, G-d forbid.
Instead, he was involved in a task much greater than that of heading the yeshiva,
and the rabbis did not want to disturb him from that task. What could be more
important than teaching Torah in the great yeshiva of Rabbi Yehuda, which at the
time comprised luminaries such as Rav, Rabbi Yohanan, Rabbi Hanina, Rabbi Afas,
and Levi, angelic rabbis about whom we are told that the least important among
them had the power to resurrect the dead? What could Rabbi Hiyya have been
He taught Torah to the children of Israel!
He taught in holiness and purity, ensuring that the Torah would never be
forgotten by the Jewish people.
The Jewish people need teachers in the tradition of Rabbi Hiyya, who will teach
the youngest children about their heritage. It is the mission of our generation one
of saving countless generations of Jewish souls.
The Wonders of Creation
The Heart
The human heart is unique. All the events in a man's life are expressed through
his heart. The heart is horrified, it can be described as soft or hard, warm or cold,
pure or impure. The heart is a muscle which is in the chest between the lungs
and above thewindpipe. It looks like an upside-down pear with the wider side on
top. It is about as big as the human fist and weighs about 300 grams. It contains
four chambers, two upper chambers and two lower chambers. The dividing wall
between them will not allow even a drop of blood to penetrate.
The primary function of the human heart is to pump the blood throughout the
various parts of the body. It begins to work even before man is born, while he is
still in the womb as a fetus -- and continues until his last breath. When we
consider the heart even as a mere automatic pumping machine, we realize how
incredible it is, above and beyond human comprehension. Any man-made
machine must inevitably be shut down at least once a year in order to clean it
thoroughly; yet the heart does not stop, pumping about seventy times a minute
day and night. Each heartbeat carries blood to the lungs, where it absorbs the
oxygen from the air and leaves behind the carbon dioxide which is then expelled
when the person breaths. Then the blood returns to the heart fresh and purified
from the "dross" which had previously been a part of it.
We do not have space here to detail all of the wondrous activities of the heart
and how it circulates the blood. But dear readers, when it comes to the Jewish
heart we must realize without a doubt that the position held by certain
individuals, that it is enough to be a Jew "at heart," is totally false. One
periodically hears a statement like, "In my heart, I am a true Jew," or "What really
matters is what's in your heart." Such people think that since they do not cheat
anyone, they give charity, and act ethically, that they need not act like a Jew in
their daily lives. Such a person is seriously mistaken; he is indeed not complete
as a Jew. A complete Jew, in addition to his high ethical behavior, puts on tefillin
every day, wears tzitzit, and fulfills all the practical mitzvot which are the only

vehicle by which a Jew can be distinguished from mankind in general. This is true
as well for Jewish women, who should perform all of the mitzvot in which the
Torah obligates her.

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Matot - Mas'ei
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Parashat Matot-Mas'ei
The Passing of the Righteous Hurts like the Destruction of the Temple

These three weeks of mourning the loss of the Temple have recently brought an
additional reason to mourn with the passing of the righteous sage, a pillar of
Torah and fear of G-d, Rabbi Bensiyon Abba Shaul of blessed memory. Our sages
tell us (Sota 37) that four covenants were made regarding each missva -- the
people were sworn to learn it, to teach it, to protect it, and to actually practice it.
Rabbi Bensiyon Abba Shaul fulfilled each of these mandates to its fullest extent.
We really have no concept how all-encompassing the notion of learning each
missva is, how time has to be used productively, both quantitatively and
qualitatively -- how every minute, each second, has to be used to the utmost.
This, however, was the approach he inculcated in students. "Someone once
showed me in a book that in the Yeshiva of Kelm they had a certain learning slot
that lasted only five minutes! A complete study period -- of five minutes. I think
that we should open a "five-minute Kollel"; if one would come five minutes late,
he would miss the whole thing.
... How important is every minute that one comes early to learn. The mishna tells
us about such devotion that "man will enjoy the 'dividends' of performing the
missva in this world, while the 'principle' awaits for the World to Come." So too
with regard to staying until the last minute of a study period. A certain person in
the Yeshiva would always leave a few minutes early. I told him that the halacha
states that a storekeeper has to add on a little more when he sells something by
weight to ensure that the buyer is not being cheated -- and certainly here, one
can afford to add a little bit onto the learning period ..." He used very minute,
quantitatively and qualitatively, to penetrate the depths of a talmudic discussion,
exploring both its theoretical and applied aspects. To learn -- and to teach. Rabbi
Bensiyon Abba Shaul taught with unusual devotion, delivering complex lectures
which lasted four or five hours straight. When they concluded he lacked the
strength to get up from his chair. He proposed novel explanations of classical
commentators and original explanations of his own. Once he was able to explain
a difficult passage in the writings of the Maharshal (Rabbi Shlomo Luria, a
sixteenth-century commentary). He exclaimed, "This is a moment of special
heavenly grace! Anyone who wants can make a request of G-d, and the
Maharshal, pleased by the explanation we have proposed for his difficult words,
will plead his case in Heaven."
His devotion to teaching included a special concern for the education of the
thousands of children of Sephardic extraction who had been estranged from their
heritage and religion. About fifteen years ago, a week before he was stricken with
the dreadful illness at the funeral of Rabbi Ya'akov Musafi, he publicly decried the
laxity with regard to the education of hundreds of thousands of these pure and
innocent souls. "We must set up schools in every place," he declared, "and I
accept upon myself to found the first ten schools!" A week later he became ill, a
state which dragged on for months. Yet, despite his afflictions, he did not forget
his vow, and worked with all his might, together with his childhood friend, the
renowned Rabbi Ovadya Yossef, to establish the Torah educational network
"Ma'ayan." He rejoiced over every school that opened, each Torah center that
was added.
To guard -- and to practice. He was a pillar of halacha, not merely through the
halachic decisions which he rendered, but also by way of his practices and the
whole way in which he carried himself. How many other people can say about
themselves that they never spoke a word of falsehood or slander? He was a
perfectly righteous man, one who brought benefits to the entire community.

Rabbi Bensiyon Abba Shaul assured any parents who provided their children with
a Torah education that they would derive great joy and satisfaction from them.
During his lifetime, as a patron of the Torah educational network he always
showered blessings of long life and happiness on the boys and girls in the
network's kindergartens and schools and on their parents. Our sages teach us
that the righteous are even more powerful in death than in life; we are thus sure
that Rabbi Bensiyon Abba Shaul will certainly act as a heavenly advocate for
anyone who enrolls his or her children in a Torah institution.
Their Journeys According to their Goings Forth
In the beginning of Parashat Mas'ei the Torah tells us that "Moshe wrote down
their [the Jewish people's] journeys according to their goings forth at G-d's
command; these are their journeys according to their goings forth." What exactly
does this phrase -- "their journeys according to their goings forth" -- mean? Rabbi
Bensiyon Abba Shaul used to explain it based on the following parable: An artist
once drew a beautiful portrait which awed all who saw it. They asked him,
"Whose portrait did you draw?" He responded that it was a portrait of a certain
rabbi. The crowd immediately lost some of their former awe, since although the
picture was indeed beautiful, it bore absolutely no resemblance at all to the rabbi
whom the artist had mentioned.
Similarly, a traveler will often make stops along the way. Even if everything at his
rest stop is pleasant, if he had not planned initially to stop there, all of the beauty
and excitement at being at that place will melt away. The Torah tells us that the
various stops of the Jewish people were fortunate enough to be "according to
their goings forth." G-d had told them ahead of time when they left each place
what their next stop would be, so that they did not merely "happen upon" any
place where they stopped off. This is the intent of the Torah's added phrase.
the wonders of the creator
The diamond is considered the most valuable of all the precious stones. A
polished diamond set in a ring or necklace, or at times in a royal crown, is
considered a most valuable piece of jewelry. People recognize thousands of
different varieties of diamonds. The diamond was among the twelve stones in the
breastplate of the High Priest. In physics, the diamond is considered a mineral,
the crystalline form of carbon, and the hardest of the minerals.
It is transparent and colorless -- or sometimes yellow, reddish, greenish, or black.
It is found in rocks and tunnels near streams in South Africa, Brazil, India, and the
like. Diamonds are measured in carats, which are each two milligrams. A diamond
is the hardest ore in the world. This fact can be used for various purposes. Thus,
for example, one can use a diamond to cut iron and steel, to saw rocks, and to
smooth down many kinds of surfaces. This industrial diamond, although unusable
for jewelry, is essential for modern industry, which cannot manage without it, just
as it could not manage without electricity. The process of polishing a diamond is a
lengthy one. A skilled artisan might take a complete year to complete the task.
The work demands great patience, expertise, and nerves of steel.

First the quality of the stone is assessed, and only after making the initial
markings is the job undertaken. A single improper blow, one should realize, can
destroy a beautiful stone and shatter it into shapeless pieces. Today special
surfaces are used to smooth down the diamond. These consist of delicate wheels,
thin as paper, covered with diamond dust which has been moistened with olive
oil. These wheels turn constantly at the speed of lightening and smooth down the
Dear readers, the special qualities of a Jew shine like the diamond, but just as a
diamond in the rough requires polishing and cleansing to bring out its full glory,
so too the Jew often needs "polishing." Sometimes the beautiful Jewish qualities
are covered with a layer of mud, of earth. What is needed then is a vigorous
scrubbing, cleaning, and polishing, so that the inner shine can be revealed. This
process, like that of polishing a diamond, requires much patience and love. A lot
of ahavat yisrael -- love for fellow Jews -- is necessary in order to reveal the good
hidden in every Jew. Here, too, we must discover the tiny inner strength within
each person which can be used to produce sparks. And just as every diamond
can only be polished with another diamond, so too only a Jew can inspire another.
For every Jew is a diamond.
The Rabbis Blessing
a continuing saga (part ten)
A Lesson For US
Last week we concluded the series "The Rabbis Blessing" which focused on
Rabbi Yishak Goite of blessed memory. The story can be found in Rabbi Kamus
Agiv's book "Kamus Imadi."
The story tells of a young servant boy. He was a simple and honest person, but no
one would have imagined that this boy had the potential to become one of the
greatest rabbis, educators, and Jewish leaders of his generation -- a man
distinguished in Torah, philanthropy, and deeds of loving kindness. When this boy
grew up to greatness in Torah and wealth, he did not seclude himself in an ivory
tower, but walked among the people and encouraged the youth. He headed the
local school, and sponsored the learning of the poverty-stricken children.
We did not choose this story arbitrarily.
I once heard a rabbi make a startling observation. When Pharaoh's daughter went
once to bathe by the river bank, the Torah tells us, she discovered a basket
floating on the water, among the reeds. She stretched out her hand, opened it up
-- and ended up raising Moshe, the redeemer of the Jewish people, giver of the
Torah, a man of G-d.
How many such baskets, asked this rabbi, go unopened in our own time? How
many pure souls are thrown into the river -- a life of empty secularism untouched
by the light of tradition; corrupting faith and ethical behavior? They are pure
souls, but their baskets have not been opened -- and will not be opened, to our
profound misfortune.
We call upon every Jewish parent, every young father, every concerned mother:
G-d has granted you a priceless treasure -- a pure, delicate, and noble soul.
Realize that you have a responsibility to raise your children with a proper

education. This is especially true in our degenerate generation, where the

atmosphere of the street is so poisonous and seeps into the soul of an
impressionable young child.
Public schools in our day are often places where violence reigns, accompanied by
drugs and permissiveness. A Torah day school erects a wall between its students
and this erosive societal ethic. It teaches its charges to show respect to their
parents and elders, to speak properly and avoid cursing and profanity. It imparts
the Torah's teaching that one who even raises a hand against another is called
wicked, and that one who shames his fellow man loses his share in the World to
Come. It teaches that the world is not a free-for-all and that not everything goes.
Dear parents, Rabbi Yishak Goite's parents sent him to work at a young age -- but
in that generation, they were assured that he would still grow up to be a believing
and practicing Jew and an ethical person, even if he was not learned. In our own
time, however, the only hope for a child to grow up as a practicing Jew is through
a Torah education. For you child's sake, send him or her to a Torah kindergarten,
elementary school, and high school.
The Golden Column
Rabbi Haim Ya'akov Sofer of blessed memory
Rabbi Bensiyon Abba Shaul used to speak about how he personally knew the
sage Rabbi Haim Ya'akov Sofer, author of Kaf HaHaim [a seminal halachic
commentary]. "His behavior was extraordinary. During the summer he would
recite the evening prayers at about eight o'clock, while concentrating on all those
thoughts prescribed by Kabbala. He would not go to sleep until about three hours
after prayers had finished. Before retiring to bed he recited a special prayer in
order to awake before midnight, and then would recite Shema with all the
appropriate Kabbalistic intentions -- yielding only about half an hour to sleep. He
would awaken around midnight, recite the special Tikkun Hassot prayers and
mourn over the destruction of the Temple, and then go back to sleep until some
time before dawn. He would recite the morning prayers with all the Kabbalistic
thoughts, and then come home and eat something quickly, so as not to come late
to the Yeshiva. He would then go to theYeshiva and study and write -- all of his
time was spent in the holiest of ways.
"Then he would eat for about an hour and a half. This was not due to his eating
much, but because he recited a special prayer on every aspect of the meal.
Before he washed his hands he recited a LeShem Yihud, washed his hands with
Kabbalistic intentions, made the blessing with Kabbalistic intentions, and even
ate with Kabbalistic intentions, to the point where he did not think about the food
at all. Then he would learn eighteen chapters of Mishna, recite "Pitum Haketoret,"
"Ezehu Mekoman," and the Birkat HaMazon -- all with the appropriate Kabbalistic
thoughts. He was so absorbed in these thoughts that he would never receive
anyone during the meal, even if someone wanted to donate money to the
"The most extraordinary thing, however, is how Rabbi Sofer was able to compose
such thorough works. His writings are not mere collections of other material, but
original works which require diligent study on the part of the reader. He reflected
the Sages' assessment of the pious men of old, that 'since they were so pious,
their Torah learning made an indelible impression.'"

"Your Testimonies are Exceedingly Trustworthy"

The following citations are short excerpts from Rabbi Bensiyon Abba Shaul's book
of discourses, Or L'Siyon, Hochma uMussar -- A Light to Zion. They provide a
glimpse into the man and his ways, and we hope that they will inspire us to follow
in his footsteps.
Using Time Productively
"I doubt whether we use half of our time, or even a quarter thereof, properly.
Thank G-d, the day is long -- fourteen hours, besides that needed for sleeping,
eating, and praying. Hence, one who learns a page of Talmud a day is actually
doing very little. After all, one need learn only three lines per hour to cover a
page over the course of fourteen hours -- very little indeed! When we were young
we would get up early to pray, and then learn a daily page of Talmud plus a page
of Tur-Beit Yosef [a classic halachic work] in the remaining time before we began
our daily regimen of studies. When we would walk to yeshiva in Jerusalem's Old
City, together with my friend, the renowned Rabbi Ovadya Yossef, we would orally
review the entire lesson from the previous day during the twenty-five minute
walk. When the Yeshiva was officially on vacation, I would go to the synagogue
with something to eat and study continuously from the morning until evening.
During long summer Fridays and fast days I had the pleasure of finishing an
entire tractate."
Halachic Decisions
"It is well known that when a rabbi has to render a halachic ruling, he receives
special heavenly assistance so that he not, G-d forbid, issue an incorrect ruling. In
this vein, an amazing story once occurred involving one of Jerusalem's sages.
One of his students once took a cloth with menstrual blood on it and bleached it.
He then took it to the rabbi, who declared that it was not menstrual blood and
thus "pure." The student proceeded to confess what he had done. The rabbi
responded, 'If so, I have erred, but I am sure that had the question been a
practical one, I would have rendered a correct decision. The story is told about
Rabbi Yehezkel Landau, author of Noda BiYehuda, that he was once learning with
his students when one of them misquoted a passage in the Rambam -- he added
a word to the text. Based on the falsely added word, Rabbi Landau gave a
detailed explanation of the passage and came to a final halachic decision. He saw
subsequently that the word was not in the original text, rendering his entire
explanation invalid. Rabbi Landau informed his students, concluding that when
one discusses a topic theoretically he might err, but if he has to issue a practical
halachic ruling, he merits a special form of divine assistance.'
"I myself experienced this special divine assistance; a great miracle once occured
at a circumsion which I performed. I noticed that the infant had a slight eye
infection. I discovered that the child's father had a student who was an
optometrist and had determined that it was fine to circumcise the baby.
Nonetheless, I did not want to perform the circumcision, because the Shulhan
Aruch (Yore De'a 262:2) rules that even a minor eye infection is enough to
postpone the circumsion until the baby heals. It was subsequently discovered
that the baby's blood was entirely infected -- who knows what would have
happened if we would have circumcised him? It turned out that he was only