Subscribe: Havolim
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: Hebrew
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Havolim


AS OF DECEMBER 2013, NEW DIVREI TORAH WILL NOT BE POSTED HERE; THEY WILL BE POSTED AT MY OTHER WEBSITE, BEIS VAAD, Existing posts on this website will not be updated, and if there will be any new posts here, while they will be Torah

Last Build Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:49:15 +0000



Thu, 28 Sep 2017 22:27:00 +0000

1. Why do so few kosher products have "sell-by" dates that are clear and intelligible?
2. Why is it that frum kosher food companys are still selling products with trans fat, always hidden in the zero per gram or other legalistic food labelling trick?
3. Who has a more pathological delusion - Muslims that deny their religion encourages bloody mayhem, or Jews that claim that we don't have a dinei momonus problem?

It was not for nothing that the Smag said that he found two problems in his travels among Jewish communities - some had abandoned the mitzva of tefillin, and some had embraced the culture of gneiva, to the extent that the gentiles could say, as William Norman Ewer said,  "How odd of God/To choose the Jews."  -  יאמרו ראו מה עשה הקב״ה שבחד לחלקו גנבים ורמאים .
Mitzvas assei 74

כבר דרשתי לגלות ירושלים אשר בספרר ולשאר גליות אדום כי עתה שהאריך הגלות יותר מדאי יש לישדאל להבדיל מהבלי העולם ולאחוז בחותמו של הקב״ה שהוא אמת ושלא לשקד לא לישראל ולא לגוים ולא להטעותם בשום ענין ולקדש עצמם אף במותר להם שנאמר (צפני׳ ג, יג) שארית ישראל לא יעשו עולה ולא ידברו כזב ולא ימצא בפיהם לשון תרמית וכשיבא הקב״ה להושיעם יאמדו הגויים בדי ן עשה כי הם אנשי אמת ותורת אמת בפיהם אב ל אם יתנהגו עם הגויים ברמאות יאמרו ראו מ ה עשה הקב״ה שבחד לחלקו גנבים ודמאים ועו ד כתוב )הושע נ, כה( וזדעתיה לי באדץ כלום זודע אדם כוד אחד אלא למצא כמה כורים כך זור ע הקב״ה ישדאל באדצות כדי שיתוספו עליהם גרים וכל זמן שהם מתנהגים בהם ברמאות מי ידבק בהם והרי הקפיד הקב״ה על גזל הרשעי ם שנאמד )גראשיא ו, יא( ותמלא האדץ חמס. עו ד אני מביא ראיה מירושלמי דפרק אלו מציאו ת )ה׳׳ה( שאומד שם דבנין סבייאי זבנין חד כרי דחטין מגוים ואשכחן ביה צררא דזוזי והחזידו ם להם ואמרו הגוים בדיך הוא אלההון דיהודאי וכיוצא בזה מספר שם מעשים הרבה מאבד ת הגוים שהחזירום מפני קTוש השם עיקרי מצו ת השבת אבדה בפרק אלו מציאות

ISIS and Eric Hoffer

Fri, 24 Jul 2015 19:34:00 +0000

Two things Eric Hoffer said struck me as particularly relevant to the ISIS phenomenon.

From Wiki:
Hoffer argued that fanatical and extremist cultural movements, whether religious or political, arose under predictable circumstances: when large numbers of people come to believe that their individual lives are worthless and ruined, that the modern world is irreparably corrupt, and that hope lies only in joining a larger group that demands radical changes.

And something he's quoted as saying-
"You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you."

So the ISIS tactic of public atrocity and public execution, and their taking and selling their female captives as chattel, is a good indicator that it is precisely such things that they fear most.

Chanuka Gift from my Shiur

Tue, 23 Dec 2014 17:47:00 +0000

I am blessed with a chevra of good friends and good talmidim.  They all know that there is no need to buy me presents, but over all of my objections, they often express their friendship, and their appreciation for the shiur, through generous and creative gifts.  Last Chanuka, they bought me a massive snow blower.  This year, reason prevailed (though it was a close call, as you'll see below,) and they bought me a beautiful hand-made (and very substantial) sterling mezuza case by the artist Michael Kupietzky.

The interesting thing, and proof positive that my shiur is unique, is that when I spoke to my wife on the phone, she asked me what the shiur gave me, and I told her, a beautiful sterling mezuza case, and she asked "Why?"   I answered, truthfully, that the guys told me that it was because they wouldn't ship the crossbow to Illinois.

A Patriotic Menora

Thu, 11 Dec 2014 16:51:00 +0000


Mark Urbin's photo, taken at the National Heritage Museum.  The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, MA, is an American history museum founded and supported by the Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. I don't know its provenance.

The figures are standing upon a star-spangled surface, over layers of red, white, and blue.

In response to my inquiry, I received this from Ms. Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Exhibitions and Audience Development at the Museum:

I believe this object was displayed in an exhibition called “American Visions of Liberty and Freedom” that was on view at the Museum from July-October 2006.  The Virginia Historical Society organized the exhibition.  The object is not part of our collection—from a photo caption in the book that accompanied the exhibition, the menorah appears to have been part of a private collection.  There is not much information about the object in the publication.  I can check the archives for the exhibition labels if you are curious to see if there is further information available.  Since the menorah is not in our collection, we don’t have any requests about crediting the photograph on your blog—but I appreciate your taking the time to ask!  If you are looking for a place to start for with a caption, the photograph in the publication (attached) notes the artist’s name, etc. 

 Ms. Stelling kindly attached a pdf of a book in which the menora is titled "Mother of Exiles" and attributed to Mae Rockland Tupa, 1995, from the collection of Marie L and Robert J. Cotton.

Ms. Rockland Tupa is a resident of Brookline, Massachusets.  If she's a neighbor, tell her you saw her menora on Havolim.

A reader directed me to a page at the Smithsonian Website, which has another expression of this concept.  Thank you, R' DL.
To me, and this point is made at that website, there is something particularly poignant in seeing this menora, which was made by a holocaust survivor that immigrated to the United States.  For a man like that, and for many others like him, the statue of liberty was a potent symbol; it embodied the spirit of a country that defeated the Nazis, and, unlike his neighbors in the old country who had murderously turned on him, welcomed him and enabled him to make a new life.  Some accuse United States citizens of the sin of "exceptionalism."  That accusation is nothing more than envy cloaked as criticism.

I am aware that some might see an incongruity in celebrating our victory over the Hellenists with a statue of the human form that reflects the Grecian aesthetic.  It doesn't bother me.  A symbol is what you make of it.

So the New York Times is Not Entirely Useless

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 21:21:00 +0000

From an article on December 11 2014. We might never have known about Slivovitz and Gribenes.

Although rendering poultry fat is a simple task for chefs, the technique is a lost art for many home cooks. To help remedy this, Alana Newhouse, the editor of Tablet magazine, has an annual schmaltz-making party at her home in Brooklyn that she calls the “schmixer.”
Not only does she show people how to make traditional schmaltz, she also encourages guests to flavor individual batches with herbs, spices and even chiles. Everyone takes home a small Mason jar of the gorgeous fat.
All her guests love it. “One can easily peg this to nostalgia, and maybe that’s part of it,” Ms. Newhouse said. “But it’s also real engagement.”She added that the newfound interest in schmaltz may parallel the resurgence of interest in tradition among Jews in their 20s and 30s, who, unlike their immigrant forebears, are not afraid that a display of Jewishness is a threat to their American identity. And schmaltz is delicious, which can come as a surprise to the uninitiated.
But the real showstoppers at the party, Ms. Newhouse said, are the gribenes, which guests wash down with shots of slivovitz, Eastern European plum brandy.
“There’s nothing quite like a slivovitz-gribenes high,” she said. “It turns out our ancestors were quite wise.”

Two Magazine Covers: Light and Darkness

Fri, 05 Sep 2014 16:06:00 +0000

In this time, when everyone in the world is being given the choice to make the final decision whether to join the forces of absolute good or absolute evil, here are two magazine covers.  The first below came out today.  The other magazine cover is from several years ago, but the subject of the article has been in the news again in the last several weeks, and I think he's going to be showing up in the mainstream press very soon.  I, and the individuals portrayed below, happen to have all been born the same year.Yeshaya 45:אני ה' ואין עוד זולתי אין אלקים; אאזרך ולא ידעתני.  למען ידעו ממזרח שמש וממערבה כי אפס בלעדי:  אני ה' ואין עוד.  יוצר אור ובורא חשך עשה שלום ובורא רע; אני ה' עשה כל אלהI am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God: I will strengthen you although you have not known Me. In order that they know from the shining of the sun and from the west that there is no one besides Me; I am the Lord and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil; I am the Lord, I make all these.The caption reads "The Kaplan Way."This is Harav Tzvi Kaplan, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Kodshim in Eretz Yisrael, which combines the lomdus of Brisk and the mussar of his grandfather Reb Yerucham and the Mir.  He exhibits, and expects from his talmidim, absolute ameilus in iyun and hasmada and Yiras Shamayim, and he's a true baal chesed and rachaman.  He is holding up his right hand, his fist is closed over intangible, but powerful, words of Torah, and he is inspiring his students to become decent, holy, spiritual people.**********************************This caption reads "The Kaplan Case."  Lehavdil elef havdalos, this is Metin Kaplan, called the Caliph of Cologne.  He is a bloody murderer.  As I said, he's in the news again, and my guess is that he will find a way out and join the leadership of ISIL.He is holding up his right hand, his fist is closed over a sword, and he is inspiring his followers to wage a bloody war against anyone that does not share their particular brand of soul-deadening, conscious-cauterizing dementia. Kaplan, in Turkish, means Tiger, and it's a name his father, whose birth name was Hacaoglu, chose, so the coincidence probably doesn't mean anything, just one of those things.  Who knows?  The Ribono shel Olam runs the world.  In any case, it shines a bright light on the contrast.   As Chazal (AZ 17b) say,  אי סייפא לא ספרא ואי ספרא לא סייפא.  Also, there is the Medrash (Bechukosai 35:6)  תני בשם ר' אלעזר הסייף והספר ניתנו מכורכין מן השמים אמר להם הקדוש ברוך הוא אם שמרתם מה שכתוב בספר זה הרי אתם ניצולים מן הסייף ואם לאו סוף שהוא הורג אתכםIt all boils down to the same thing.  If the sword, not the book.  If the book, not the sword. [...]

Our Adopted Fledgling

Thu, 07 Aug 2014 15:02:00 +0000

Walking from my mother's house to ours, my grandchildren found a young bird hiding in the bushes.  It had fallen out of its nest, and although it had feathers and wasn't injured, it couldn't fly. I warned them that it is almost impossible to keep fallen birds alive, and that most likely it would die within a few days, but they brought it home anyway.We decided that it was a cedar waxwing, and the kids spent a great deal of time finding bugs and berries, including pieces of cherries from our refrigerator.Remarkably, it did survive the week, somewhat bedraggled, and began to fly around the porch.  When I would go outside in the morning, it would be there impatiently waiting.  Once, it hopped on to my shoulder.  When I tried to wave it off, it hopped on to my yarmulka, and it was in no mood to get off.Finally, we convinced the kids to let it go, and after a few days of false starts and hops into the neighbor's back yard, they put it into a basket wedged into the crotch of a mulberry tree, and it seemed to settle into its wild life.This morning, I went outside to clean out the barbecues, and I heard a high pitched warble from above my head.  Our waxwing was sitting on the door frame and expecting to be fed.  It fluttered down to the barbecue, and my granddaughter came out.  It got very excited, fluttering its wings and opening its mouth, and it consumed several cherries.  Between the demands of our newest grandchild and this waxwing, it's been lively around here.  From other waxwings that I've seen, they're very social birds.  I do hope that the bird eventually meets others of its kind and accepts the fact that it's not a human.After breakfast, it went back to its nest, and had brunch there.[...]

Mussar: A Comedy of Errors, and Why Nekudot Matter.

Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:37:00 +0000

I saw this article in Bechadrei Chareidim, on July 31, 2014.  It deserves contemplation. מה קורה ב'ארומה': חיילת כונתה 'זבל'חיילת כונתה בקבלה 'זבל' • עובד לכאורה של הרשת, הביע שמחה על הרג חיילים • הרשת מנסה להסביראלי שלזינגר 13:21 31/07/2014קצינה מחיל האוויר שהגיעה אתמול בשעה 18:35 במדים לסניף של ארומה בהרצליה, כתבה בדף הפייסבוק של "ארומה", כי המוכר העונה לשם סעדאת בחר להתעלם משמה "והדביק לי שם חדש..".הקצינה, צירפה לפוסט את תמונת הקבלה שקיבלה מהמוכר, עליה נרשם שמה בכינוי מעליב במיוחד "זבל". הפוסט שכתבה, גרר למעלה מ-1,200 שיתופים וכ-3,500 לייקים.לדבריה, היא הזמינה קולה זירו. וכשהביטה בקבלה, הופתעה לגלות שבמקום שמה האמיתי היה מצוין שם גנאי. "סניף ארומה הרצליה מסביר פנים לקציני צה"ל..." כתבה באירוניה.בעקבות כך, דף הפייסבוק של החברה הוצף בעשרות פוסטים בהם קראו הגולשים לצלצל לסניף ולדרוש את פיטורי העובד. בנסיון להשיג את תגובת הסניף, מספר הטלפון היה תפוס במשך מספר שעות.מ'ארומה' נמסר בתגובה: "הבוקר קיבלנו תלונות רבות על מקרה שארע בסניף ארומה בהרצליה פיתוח. נטען כי אחד מעובדי הסניף קרא לקצינה בצה"ל בשם גנאי, דבר אשר אינו מתקבל על הדעת לכל אדם באשר הוא, לכל לקוח באחד מסניפי הרשת ובמיוחד לא בימים טעונים אלו."יצאנו לברר את המקרה בדחיפות המירבית. ניסינו ליצור קשר עם הלקוחה אשר פירסמה את הפוסט, אם כי עד עתה לא קיבלנו מענה. ביררנו את המקרה יחד עם זכיין הסניף, בדקנו את רשימת שמות העובדים, את מצלמות הסניף, את הקופה הרושמת ודיברנו עם העובד שעמד בקופה באותה העת."מהבדיקה שערכנו התברר שהעובד שירת שירות צבאי מלא, של 3 שנים ואין לו שום דבר נגד חיילי צה"ל. שמו של העובד אינו השם שצוין על ידי הגולשת. לטענתו, כאשר שאל העובד את הלקוחה לשמה, שמע את השם IZABEL או ZABEL ולכן זהו השם שרשם בחשבונית. העובד התנצל על אי ההבנה, ואף פירסם פוסט בעמוד הפייסבוק שלנו עם התנצלותו."בשבועות האחרונים ארומה ישראל תורמת ומפנקת את חיילינו בדרום, וכמובן שאנו מגנים כל ביטוי גנאי מכל סוג שהוא ומתנצלים במידה ומישהו נפגע מהמקרה".בנוסף, אדם בשם מוחמד נאסר Mohamed Naser, שבפרופיל שלו נכתב כי הינו עובד ברשת ארומה, כתב בפייסבוק "עד כשיו 52 חיילים אולי יגיעו ל-520? כיף".ברשת ארומה אומרים "אנו מגנים כל פוסט המבטא דברי גנאי, אלימות וגזענות. אנו כמובן מתייחסים לפניות הגולשים בכובד ראש, בודקים כל פוסט אליו הופננו באופן מעמיק ויסודי ומגיבים בהתאם ועם כל הכלים העומדים לרשותנו"."כרגע, מבדיקה שערכנו לא נמצא כי הפרופיל של מוחמד נאסר אכן שייך לעובד ארומה.כמו כל בית ישראל, אנו מ[...]

Light Vice Versa Verse

Wed, 18 Jun 2014 02:40:00 +0000

"How odd / Of God / To choose / The Jews."
         British journalist (and communist) William Norman Ewer, 1885-1976

“It’s not so odd.  The Jews chose God.”
        -variously attributed

"But not so odd / As those who choose
A Jewish God / Yet spurn the Jews."
        -reply from Cecil Browne

“Not odd of God. / Goyim annoy 'im”
        Leo Rosten's perfect final words on the subject

An Oral History of the Invasion at Normandy

Sun, 08 Jun 2014 17:03:00 +0000

I've had the great honor of having Mr. Lothar Kahn in my shiur for the past twenty seven years.  Before coming to my shiur, he attended my father's shiur for fifteen years.  Mr. Kahn came to the US from Germany in 1940, and three years later, at nineteen, he found himself on the beach in Normandy as a member of the combat engineers.The recent article about Mr. Kahn in the Huffington Post is good, but there are many, many other amazing and wonderful stories about his years in the army that are not in the article.  While part of the Allied government, he founded the post war Jewish community in Bamberg, and as a native German speaker was a tremendous asset to the Jews and to the Allies.One example of a story that didn't make it into the article- Mr. Kahn had the bad luck to be assigned to a unit that was entirely composed of Southerners- from Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and so forth.  Picture a young man with a German accent, coming from New York, joining this cadre of rebels.  He was immediately labeled a "Damn Yankee."  But this was only until they found out he was a Jew.  At that point, he became a Damn Yankee Jew."  They did everything to make his life miserable, until he finally picked out the biggest one among them, who hated him more than any of the others, and told him, look, we're going to fight it out.  So the other one put up his hands and began boxing.  Mr. Kahn said, if we want to prove who's strongest, we really ought to wrestle, because that proves strength more than boxing.  The guy said fine, I'll kill you either way.  Mr. Kahn was an athlete who had a great deal of experience wrestling, and he soon had the man on the ground with his boot on his neck.  He said, "Am I still a damn Yankee Jew?"  The guy said, no, not any more you're not.Here's the article, from the Huffington Post. Veteran's Brother Was Holocaust's First Jewish VictimLothar Kahn, D-Day Plus 70 YearsLothar Kahn's backstory has all the ingredients of a Hollywood movie -- the Jew from Nazi Germany who returns in the vanguard of war to face his sworn enemies on D-Day. Inglorious Basterds proved it a marketable plot-line, but the reality is far more tragic, complex, and even unremarkable. But Kahn has, in fact, lived two of the most compelling narratives of the 20th century: the Holocaust and the D-Day invasion.Seventy years ago, on June 6, T/3 Kahn approached the Normandy coast in an LCM filled with 28 seasick army engineers from the 146th Engineer Combat Battalion and sailors from a Naval Combat Demolition Unit. Orders were to land at low tide on "easy green" and destroy all obstacles -- Belgian Gates, posts capped with Teller mines, and rows of steel hedgehogs -- and create gaps for the infantry.Gap Assault Team from the 146th ECB prior to the invasion"[The 146th] landed in the first wave with floating tanks from the 741st and 743rd Tank Battalions, literally, in the first minutes of the invasion," said Joseph Balkoski, author of Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944.After weeks of rehearsals in Devon, the army's V Corps selected the Kahn's outfit to lead the initial assault on D-Day.Some may even call it poetic justice, but Kahn's Gap Assault Team No. 7 could not effectively perform their tasks."The engineers knew very well that they would have 30-40 minutes to blow the obstacles because the tide was rising."The settling smoke and dust from the massive Allied bombardment, which ended minutes earlier, afforded a clear view of Omaha Beach, but not the catastrophe that awaited them."The minute we jumped out of the boats the shooting started," Kahn told us. "Two or three German machine guns, overlapping, and raking the beach. All you hear[...]

Kedoshim, and a Plan for a New Restaurant: FLAG Kosher

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:21:00 +0000

In consideration of the limits of internet attention spans, I have to make this clear from the beginning:The Divrei Torah are valid, and the beginning and the end are serious, but the middle is written satirically, ironically.  The purpose of the post is to raise an important question, to highlight issues, and to stimulate intelligent and informed conversation.On Pesach, our family discussed the marvelous products of food science available now- items that have no grain or kitnios but look and taste exactly like bread.  With a palette of various root starches and quinoa, and the use of chemicals and appliances that can make smoke into a brittle foam, making kosher for Pesach ersatz white bread and bagels and pizza is becoming practically quotidian.  The illusion improves every year; a friend told me that at one of the programs where kosher for Pesach beigels were offered, he saw a guest wash and say hamotzi on his shehakol bagel. I was told that before Pesach, Rabbi Elefant was interviewed on a Jewish radio station in New York, and he said that one factor in the OU allowing quinoa was that quinoa is the only reasonable alternative to rice for making sushi, and if they couldn't make sushi, the caterers that run Pesach programs would lose a lot of money- ergo, hefsed meruba and the decision of the OU to be mattir.  It's easy to self-righteously say that such chametz replacements are inappropriate, and not in keeping with the spirit of the issur chametz.  But who among us doesn't have Shick's seven layer cake, or rainbow cookies?  They look like chametz too.  Our Mexican cleaning lady, who has gone through eighteen Pesachs with us, was shocked when she saw them.  But by now, we're all pretty used to them, and to other pseudo-foods, such as Bacos. Instead of merely reacting instinctively, let's think about what issues may be relevant, and then decide whether the issues are problematic. 1.  Mar'is Ayin- it is assur to behave in a way where a reasonable observer might think you are doing a sin.2.  Foods that the Torah prohibited are disgusting, and foods that mimic them ought to be equally disgusting to the Jewish sensibility.  Eating them diminishes our refinement, it makes us callous.3.  If one eats what looks and tastes like a prohibited food, it weakens the psychological barrier and increases the likelihood he will eat real issurim.4.  Issurei achila serve to create a vital psychological and social barrier between us and the gentiles, and without that barrier, our sense of separateness, our unique identity, will be attenuated.Issue 1.  Mar'is Ayin.Analysis:The Gemara (Kerisus 21b) says that if you serve a container of fish blood, you must make it evident that it is not from an animal by floating some scales in it.  The Maharshal in Kol Habasar says that similarly, when you serve chicken in almond milk, as was the local minhag on Purim, you must have some blanched almonds in or near the milk so that nobody mistakes it for real milk.  The Rama in 87 argues with the Maharshal and says that this is only necessary by meat, not chicken, which is at worst an issur derabannan.  This is why some caterers put placards next to coffee whitener at a fleishikeh meal.Even more lekulah, the Pri Chadash (there in YD 87 on the Rama) holds that we don't prohibit based on Maris Ayin beyond what we find explicitly prohibited in Chazal. True, many poskim disagree (such as Reb Moshe in the Igros OC 3:25 and the Maharik 115 and poskim brought in the Shaarei Teshuva OC 460:10,) but in any case, everyone agrees that all that matters is that people not make the mistake of thinking that what you're eating is treif.  The fact that it looks and tastes treif does[...]

Humor and Learning Torah

Mon, 24 Mar 2014 21:37:00 +0000

When we began this website, many people were drawn here by divrei Torah, but then they were put off by the humor.  Since they could only recognize serious divrei Torah when they're bound in a black book, they never came back.  Others were drawn by the name Havolim, looking for letizanus, for jokes, and were put off by the serious divrei Torah.  What can I do.  The Beis Halevi first printed his teshuvos together with his divrei torah on the parsha, but in the later editions he separated them into two volumes, saying that the audience that was interested in the one was totally uninterested in the other.  Lehavdil, I've done something similar, and have begun posting the serious Divrei Torah on my other site, Beis Vaad.But the truth is that there is no contradiction between humor and learning Gemara. Stimulating the mind through humor is mentioned in the Gemara (Shabbos 30b) where it says that before he would begin the shiur, Rabba would say something that would make the students smile, and then his tone and demeanor would change, the mood in the room would shift from light-hearted to an extremely tense focus, and he would begin the shiur, expecting absolute attention, unforgiving of even the smallest lapse. כי הא דרבה מקמי דפתח להו לרבנן אמר מילתא דבדיחותא ובדחי רבנן לסוף יתיב באימתא ופתח בשמעתאRashi says that one should begin with something comedic, and the rabbis/students would laugh, and their minds would open from the happiness. ובדחי רבנן. נפתח לבם מחמת השמחהI don't think most people realize how wise and effective this method is.  It sounds, to some, like just another quaint story in the Gemara.  So for us, the modern thinkers, who don't believe anything if it's anecdotal, here are some interesting studies.A 1976 study by the late professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, Avner Ziv, (the author of the entry on Humor in the Encyclopedia Judaica) found that those who listened to a comedy album before taking a creativity test scored 20% better than a control group that had not heard the routine.A 1987 study by Isen, Daubman and Nowicki asked participants to solve a creative logic problem.  In the control group, two of fifteen solved the problem.  The other group was shown a comedy film before being presented the problem.  In the latter group, nine of the fifteen solved the problem.Remarkably, there are very highly regarded studies that show that laughter and humor increase the immune response significantly- not by some meaningless scale, but by increased lymphocyte blastogenesis and killer-cell activity (a good thing.) So in that light, when you read the Gemara about Rav's method of teaching, you realize that no, it's not just another quaint habit of those ancients.  Chazal's life was the pursuit of wisdom and they lived to discern the truth; they were well aware of the benefit of humor in opening the mind, and they used it as a very serious means to enhance their students' learning.Briefly, I want to point out that there are many ways to understand what Chazal mean when they say that בדיחותא enhances learning.  First we have our famous Gemara, as we brought above, where a humorous word opened their minds.  The Gemara seems simple enough.  But it's not, because there's a fascinating Ran on that Gemara in Shabbos 30b that has a very different way to learn it.The Gemara goes like this:כתיב טוב כעס משחוק וכתיב לשחוק אמרתי מהלל כתיב ושבחתי אני את השמחה וכתיב ולשמחה מה זה עושה לא קשיא טוב כעס משחוק טוב כעס שכועס הקב"ה על הצדיקים בעוה[...]

Green Kreplach and Self Portrait. Purim 2014

Sun, 16 Mar 2014 14:42:00 +0000

I don't think my Litvishe mother shetichyeh will touch them, to say nothing of eating them, so we made the usual kind too.

And the test-

My Rebbitzen's verdict:

My mother's verdict:
Vos ee dos???

Here's the Purim self portrait, as a shikereh poyer, but wearing a fedora.

It's not really me, although as a symbol, it may succinctly portray my life's work.  In any case, the statue is of Mr. Booker Noe, sixth generation bourbon master.

A Freilachen Purim.

Kiddush Question for Adar: Beer and Herring Pairing

Fri, 07 Mar 2014 15:35:00 +0000

When it comes to food and wine pairings, there are those who carelessly match any dish with any libation and those who painstakingly try to balance the flavors of the food with the perfect wine. But all would agree that a good understanding of ways to properly pair wine with your food can intensify the enjoyment of eating.For example, here are fifteen rules I found in Food & Wine.1. Champagne is perfect with anything salty.2. Sauvignon Blanc goes with tart dressings and sauces.3. Choose Grüner Veltliner when a dish has lots of fresh herbs.4. Pinot Grigio pairs well with light fish dishes.5. Choose Chardonnay for fatty fish or fish in a rich sauce.6. Off-Dry Riesling pairs with sweet & spicy dishes.7. Moscato d'Asti loves fruit desserts.and so forth.  As Adar begins, the question that I've decided to boldly address is:  shouldn't we be giving more thought to herring and beer?  An almost-frozen cold beer with herring is a true oneg Shabbos.  But there is, after all, a plethora of disparate herrings, ranging from hot pink matjes to chopped brown to gray herring in cream sauce.  Clearly, each deserves its own particular kind of beer, and Beer and Herring Pairing deserves serious thought.  I am assuming that the therapeutic value of this blog will be needed more than usual in the coming weeks, and perhaps I will be able to offer a pictorial tutorial.As always, I solicit reader input.  On questions such as this, there is no intellectual or scholarly threshold for suggestions.Here what I've seen so far, but these are just suggestions for what beers go with herring in general.Hansa pilsSour Flemmish Red Ale, whatever that is.Berliner WeisseBerliner Weiss, New Glarus Brewing CompanyMakeweight, Furthermore BeerPilsenerWhole Hog Imperial Pilsner, Stevens Point BreweryJinx Proof, Three Floyds Brewing Co.Honey Pils, South Shore BreweryPontius Road Pilsner, Short’s Brewing CompanyHome Town Blonde, New Glarus Brewing CompanyCzech Pils, Royal Oak BreweryBohemian Lager, New Glarus Brewing CompanyThis is fine, but too general!   I need specific pairings for specific herrings, not generic "herring."Here's what came in so far:1.  Lambic (sour) beer with herring in wine sauce.  Good luck trying to find lambic beer, whatever that is.2.  This is being written after Pesach, and has nothing to do with beer.  I found that a chilled Chardonnay goes very well with herring.3.  Again, nothing to do with B/H, but I saw an article in the New York Times that quoted the editor of Tablet magazine as saying "There's nothing quite like a slivovitz-gribenes high."  This is a very worthy contribution to this oeuvre. [...]

A Rare Opportunity For Our Special Friends

Thu, 06 Mar 2014 16:11:00 +0000

For those of you that nebach didn't make it to Uman, here's a great opportunity.  This poster just appeared in my local shul.

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="420">

They've been doing this for a while.  See this article, from two years ago.  I particularly liked this comment there:
 . ישנם דעות על שתי מקומות בארץ שהם קבורים שם, האם שלחו גם לשם מנין ? לא אתפלא אם ביום מן הימים ישלחו מנין לקברו של מרע"ה .

A New Law

Mon, 23 Dec 2013 18:50:00 +0000

Since I am moving the serious divrei Torah to Beis Vaad, the opportunity presents itself to use this site for things that do not fall under that heading.  In that spirit, I want to present a novel theory.Analysis of fossil evidence reveals the existence of a massive dinosaur, named Argentinosaurus huinculensis.  This is the largest dinosaur ever discovered for which there is substantial physical evidence.  There is also Amphicoelias, but that is more speculative, being based on extremely scant fossil remains. Argentinosaurus huinculensis is estimated to have been 115 feet long and weigh 100 tons.  Now please look at the drawing of it and other similar dinosaurs.Please note how small their heads are.  Now think about how disproportionately small their mouths are. What I don't understand is how a plant eater with such a small mouth could ingest enough calories to produce such a massive body.  Plant material is not calorie dense, even assuming a symbiotic or inherent means of metabolizing cellulose- I assume that however it was metabolized, it was done no more efficiently than what we have now.  It would have to eat ceaselessly, and even then, I don't understand how it could possibly get so big.  I've read that a 7.5 ton elephant eats around three hundred pounds of plant material a day to maintain that weight, and even that requires that the elephant grasp and push his food into his mouth with his trunk.  The equivalent here would be 4000 pounds a day.  Judging from the illustrations I've seen, their mouths were no larger than those of modern-day elephants.  This is like inflating an air mattress through a pin-hole.To resolve this quandary, I propose the following.Many of our Rabbeim tell us that these dinosaurs never existed  Therefore, their metabolic requirements were zero, and their net caloric surplus was 100%.  This net caloric surplus enabled them to accumulate enormous amounts of mass over time.great Unknown proposed a fascinating corollary to this law:You can determine if something never existed by seeing how massive it is.In fact, one could postulate that an object's mass is directly proportional to how much it never existed.This, he says, also helps to explain another phenomenon. The reason I am accumulating mass is that I also am not all there.I think we may have stumbled upon something important here.  This proposed law deserves a name. Rabbi Dr. Stone suggests "The Mamash Doctrine."  This is an excellent name, neatly comprising the essence of the theory.  It economically describes the proposed mamashus that is associated with non-mamashus.  The name also alludes to one of the baalei hashkafa that says dinosaurs may never have existed, an essential element in explaining their mass.  I say that this proposal is יש בו ממש.[...]

Change of Address

Mon, 16 Dec 2013 21:57:00 +0000

The name of this website, Havolim, is no longer appropriate for either its content or its writers.  Despite numerous reasons for having chosen that name, its denotation is at such odds with what it identifies that any symbolic or philosophical connotations don't matter.

That being the case, all content that was originally posted here has been copied to a new website, Beis Vaad, titled Beis Vaad L'Chachamim, at

I chose that name because while I initiated most of these Divrei Torah, the comments and letters I then received almost always resulted in the posts being rewritten and dramatically improved.   Over the years, I have benefited from the he'aros and mar'ei mekomos of Rabbis and Doctors and Rabbi Doctors great Unknown, Eli, Chaim B., Nachum Stone, Lakewood Guy, and many that remained anonymous.  Personal conversations with my children and sons in law, with my shiur, and with my friends, have added at least as much.  The classic example is the dvar Torah on Bris Milah, here and now here as well. In several cases, people let me know that not only did they disagree with me, but that what I wrote was a form of Avoda Zara.  In light of the collaborative character of these posts, and the quality of the criticism and comments, the name Beis Vaad LeChachamim fits.

This site has been up long enough to have developed a particular flavor, and I might begin posting other people's insights that have that sort of ta'am.

As I update the divrei Torah that are here, I am going to erase them from Havolim and leave them only on Beis Vaad.

For the moment, most posts will remain in both places.  Eventually, I'll remove the serious divrei torah from here and leave everything else.   That won't be as easy, because it's hard to definitively categorize many of these pieces as being one and not the other.

Vayechi, Devarim 49:15-16. The Tribe of Yissachar and Military Service. אי ספרא לא סיפא

Mon, 09 Dec 2013 04:52:00 +0000

The basic thesis of this post is that the tension between a life immersed in Limud HaTorah and military service is as old as Klal Yisrael- perhaps even older. The antiquity and obduracy of this tension imply that it is a fundamental and creative element of our national identity.In Yaakov's brachos in Parshas Vayechi, he says to Yissacharיששכר חמר גרם רבץ בין המשפתים וירא מנחה כי טוב ואת הארץ כי נעמה ויט שכמו לסבל ויהי למס עבדYissachar is a broad-boned donkey, lying between the boundaries.  He saw a resting place, that it was good, and the land, that it was pleasant, and he bent his shoulder to bear [burdens], and he became an indentured laborer.The Ibn Ezra, echoed by the Abarbanel, says that the tribe of Yissachar did not join the army.  They were deeply bound to their land, and psychologically unfit for battle.  Because of the inequity of their not participating in the wars fought by Klal Yisrael, they paid a high tax to cover their share of the war effort- or they gave a tribute to placate threatening neighbors.Ibn Ezra:וירא מנוחה . כאשר ראה ארצו ומקום מנוחתו נעימים נטה שכמו לסבול כל משא כאשר ישא החמור ושב כעבד נותן מס וזה הטעם על יששכר שלא היו גבורים ולא ירצו לצאת למלחמה לעזוב מקומם. וכן אמר משה ויששכר באהליך.והיו נותנים מס למלך ישראל שלא יצאו או לגוים שלא יבאו להלחם עליהםAbarbanel: והיה תכלית מאמר הזקן שזבולון  יהיה טבעו נוטה לסחורה ולכן לא תאות  לו המלוכה ואמנם יששכר היה גם כן בלתי  ראוי למלוכה לפי שאנשיו רובם יהיו עובדי אדמה ולכן קראו חמור גרם רובץ בין המשפתי׳  כי בביתו לא ישכנו רגליו אבל הוא כחמור  נושא סבל רובץ בין המשפתים שהם מערכות  האדמה לעבדה ולשמרה. בי משפתים הוא לשון  מערכה כמו י״י ישפות שלום לנו. ואמר וירא מנוחה כי טוב ר"ל שהיה יששכר אוהב המנוחה לא עמל המלחמות ואת הארץ כי נעמה ויט שכמו לסבול כחמור נושא הסבל ויהי למס עובד ר"ל שהיו אנשי יששכר נותני' מס למלך ישראל כדי שלא יצאו למלחמה וכמ״ש  הראב״ע וכמה רחוק זה ממה שיאות למלך ואפשר לפרש וירא מנוחה כי טוב ואת הארץ כי נעמה שהיו מבני יששכר חכמי' כדבריהם  ז״ל ולכן אמר עליהם וירא  מנוחה כי טוב  כי  מנוחה האמתית היא הנפשית והיא הטוב  האמתי וכן יהיו מהם עובדי אדמה רבים לכן  אמר ואת הארץ כי נעמה ויט שכמו לסבול  ולא היה דבר זה ראוי למלך. וי״מ שרצה  הזקן לשים הבדל בין זבולון שהיה יוצא למלחמה  ובין יששכר שלא ירצה להלחם עם האויבים  אבל ירצה לתת להם מס כדי שלא יבואי  עליהם למלחמה וזהו להיותו רובץ בין המשפתים שהם תחומי האויבים. The Sforno says almost the same thing.  But with his addition of one new idea, he presents Yissachar in an entir[...]

Chanuka. Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis- מזמור שיר חנוכת הבית לדוד

Sun, 01 Dec 2013 19:22:00 +0000

This post and the comments were moved to Beis Vaad.

Chanuka. Ma'oz Tzur- The Thirteen Breaches

Thu, 28 Nov 2013 18:50:00 +0000

Yasher Koach to Harav Micha Berger, who sent me his Dvar Torah for Chanuka.  Reb Micha tells us that when in Ma'oz Tzur it says ופרצו חומות מגדלי, that the Greeks breached the walls of my tower, this refers to the Mishna in Middos.  Here is the beginning of Reb Micha's post:The 5th verse of Ma’oz Tzur describes the Chanukah story. One phrase in this verse is “ufortzu chomos migdalai“, which would be literally translated “and burst open the walls of my citadel”. Mentally, I used to picture breaking down the walls of the Beis haMiqdosh, or perhaps a fortress. However, I found the following mishnah in Middos (Ch. 2, mishnah 2 in the Yachin uBo’az edition, mishnah 3 in Kahati’s — who splits up the Yu”B‘s mishnah 1 into 2 parts). The second chapter describes the Beis haMiqdosh as it would appear to someone walking in from outside the Temple Mount to the Altar. This mishna picks up right after you walk through the gate and onto the Temple Mount.Inside of it is the soreg, 10 tefachim [appx 2'6"] high. It had thirteen peratzos (broken openings) there, that the Hellenist kings partzum (broke open). They returned and closed them off, and legislated corresponding to them 13 prostrations.To help you picture what a soreg is, the root means woven. The Bartenura describes the soreg as a mechitzah woven out of thin wooden slats running at diagonals. The Bartenura compares it to the part of the bed used to support the mattress, with plenty of open space inside the weave.He goes on to say that the Hellenists opened up holes in the soreg opposite each of the gates in the outer wall to let anyone see in. Note the shoresh used /p-r-tz/, the same as in the piyut. The soreg marked the limit for gentiles, they were not allowed in beyond that point. To the Hellenist mind, this havdalah bein Yisrael la’Amim, separation between the Jews and the other nations, was repugnant. It ran against their assimilationist efforts.Reb Micha then weaves together ideas from Rav Hutner and Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch to teach a lesson about the symbolism of the Soreg wall and the role of the Jewish People, with special relevance to the victory of Chanuka.This pshat in Ma'oz Tzur is discussed by Rav Gedaliah Shor in his Or Gedaliyahu, by Rav Mordechai Vinkler in his Levushei Mordechai, and by Rav Mordechai Ezrachi in his Birkas Mordechai.I only want to make a minor observation.  In one of the Megillas Antiochuses (מגילת אנטיוכוס) that we have, a reference is made  to breaches being made in a wall called "shaar bas rabbim."   This can be seen here, four lines from the bottom.  What it says isויהרגו מהם רבים וחומות ירושלם נתצו ויפרצו בתוקפם י״ג פרצות בשער בת רבים וקצץ הפרכת ובטל המערכה והסיר התמיד והרס המזבחותThe term שער בת רבים might refer to the Soreg as well.  After all, it follows a description of their having ruined the walls of the city, and immediately afterwards talks of the damage they did within the Beis Hamikdash. But it might not.  Most people that use the term, and the mefarshim in Shir Hashirim 4:5 where the term appears, understand it to refer to the gates of Yerushalayim, not the Soreg. Anyway, if the words of Maoz Tzur refers to the Soreg, the expression חומות מגדלי is odd, because the Soreg was certainly not a choma. If the description in Megilas Antiochus refers to the wall of the Har Habayis, or the Azar[...]

Ceramic Knives and Tevillas Keilim

Fri, 22 Nov 2013 14:59:00 +0000

Do ceramic knives require tevilla?Earthenware does not need tevilla.  Ceramics, such as china, do not need Tevilla. Metals and glass do.  But ceramic knives might not fit neatly into any of these categories.  As a result, it is not at all clear whether they need tevila at all, and if they do, whether the tevila is midoraysa or miderabanan.To address this question you have to know basic hilchos tevillas keilim and materials science.  The chemistry issue is that ceramic knives are made of Zirconium Dioxide.  This material appears in many forms with very different characteristics.  It can be made into imitation diamonds, cubic zirconium.  It is also photocatalytic.  And it can be sintered into knives that are harder than steel.  Pure Zirconium is, in the language of science, a metal.  As Eli points out, the fact that pure Zirconium is a metal means very little.  Pure Silicon is also metallic, but, like Zirconium, does not exist in nature in its pure form.  It occurs as Silicon Dioxide- sand- which is definitely not a metal.  In halacha, are articles formed from zirconium dioxide metals, and if they are metals, are they included in the metals mentioned in the parsha of tevillas keilim?  Or perhaps halacha would categorize them as ceramics, or even glass?As I said, even if in Halacha it would be viewed as a metal, it is not clear what its status would be for tevilla.  The reason is as follows.  According to Din Torah, metallic utensils requires Tevilla.  But to say that all metal requires tevilla also is not an explicit fact.  It is an extrapolation.  The Torah only identifies gold, silver, copper, steel, tin or lead as requiring tevilla.   What about metals that are not mentioned, such has aluminum or uranium?  There are three opinions.  Some say they are obligated mi'doraysa and should be toveled with a beracha, some say with a beracha but only Miderabanan (Igros Moshe- Miderabanan.  O.C. 3:58, Y.D. 2:164, 3:22, Divrei Chachachim page 189:3:footnote 37, Chai Ha’Levi 4:56:3.)  Others say there is no requirement to tovel them at all, like plastic (Divrei Chachachim page 189:3, Emes L’Yaakov Y.D. 120 footnote 51.)  For most people, as a matter of practical rabbinics, it has been suggested that one just avoid the issue and be tovel such metals after one has already recited the beracha on metal or glass.So even if Zirconium were to be defined as a metal, the question would remain.  But I don't think that can be assumed.  To the uneducated eye, it is no more glass than metal and no more a metal than ceramic.  And we cannot look to what chemists or metallurgists or advertising departments say.  We need to prove how it would be categorized according to halacha.  Since we don't know the rationale for Tevilla, it is difficult to extrapolate. The bottom line is that it is so different from each of them, that it really ought to be in a class of its own, like plastic, and one could make an argument that it does not require tevilla at all.It happens that the status of corelle and pyrex, among other pyrocerams, is also not simple.  The crystalline structure of these materials resembles ceramic more than glass.  In fact, ceramic is subject to differences of opinion regarding kashrus, some considering it to be glass, but many hold that it is Kli Cheres (מ"ב תנא, קסג), which has very different halachos both for tevilla and kashrus.[...]

A Multi-Culti Name

Tue, 19 Nov 2013 21:21:00 +0000

In the description of the blog, we state that some of our posts require a degree of scholarship on the part of the reader.    Some don't.

My cousin in Eretz Yisrael tells me that official records indicate the arrival of a new name on the most popular list for newborns in Israel.  That name is Adele.  He writes
Adele (for a girl) was ranked #8. It turns out it is a combination of people inspired by the name of a famous current singer, and those who name their daughters after R. Nachman's daughter (who in turn was named after her great-grandmother, Baal-Shem-Tov's daughter, but Rav Nachman is much more popular today)

While the two names happen to be written the same, they are pronounced very differently.  They are homonyms, not homophones.  The singer's name is Uh-Dell', and the Yiddishe name is Ei'-dil.  I assumed that their meanings were similarly unrelated.  I was wrong.  They both stem from the German for Noble or Refined.  But I guarantee that despite the etymological synonymity, the concept of what Eidelkeit comprises differs, and the name is thoroughly multiculti.

After writing this to my cousin, he wrote
I think for Gittin Eidel and Ohdel are considered two names
Other reasons people gave for this name are simply "thanks to G-d" and (believe it or not) acronym for Esh Dat Lamo

Another funny coincidence- there was an American actress named Sarah Jessica.  I am one hundred percent sure that whoever named her did not realize that Jessica was the other name of Sara Imeinu- Yiskah.  An equivalent masculine name would be Yisrael Yaakov.  Or maybe Dov Ber or Naftali Tzvi.

On this topic- you might like to know that the United States Social Security administration offers a searchable database of babys' names since 1880.

Vayishlach, Bereishis 32:29. New Names and Irreversible Changes

Wed, 13 Nov 2013 15:20:00 +0000

Brachos 13, end of the first perek:  Once Avram's name was changed to Avraham, it was prohibited to refer to him as Avram.  But Yakov's name change to Yisrael does not create any such prohibition.תני בר קפרא כל הקורא לאברהם אברם עובר בעשה שנאמר והיה שמך אברהם רבי אליעזר אומר עובר בלאו שנאמר ולא יקרא עוד [את] שמך אברם אלא מעתה הקורא לשרה שרי הכי נמי התם קודשא בריך הוא אמר לאברהם שרי אשתך לא תקרא את שמה שרי כי שרה שמה אלא מעתה הקורא ליעקב יעקב ה"נ שאני התם דהדר אהדריה קרא דכתיב ויאמר אלהים לישראל במראות הלילה ויאמר יעקב יעקב מתיב רבי יוסי בר אבין ואיתימא רבי יוסי בר זבידא אתה הוא ה' האלהים אשר בחרת באברם אמר ליה התם נביא הוא דקא מסדר לשבחיה דרחמנא מאי דהוה מעיקרא: Sometimes, with a change we cross a threshold, and can never go back.  The change is essential, absolute, and irreversible. As far as I know, there are three instances where choosing to do something one time obligates you to do it forever.  I would love a common denominator, but I am almost sure there isn't any.One is not obligated to give the Machatzis Hashekel until the age of twenty years.  A person that gives the Machatzis Hashekel before he is twenty years old, or a father that gave on behalf of his minor child, is thereafter obligated to give it annually. (Rambam I Shekalim 7.  The Rambam there in Pirush Hamishna says שאומרים לו מאחר שנתת עליו השנה שעברה והעמדת עליו זאת המצוה תן עליו תמיד עד (שיגיע) [שיגדיל] ולא תפסוק )There is no obligation to fast on Rosh Hashanna, but one is allowed to fast.  A Taanis Chalom is certainly muttar.  However, once a person fasts Taanis Chalom on Rosh Hashannah, he is obligated to fast on Rosh Hashanna forever. (OC 597:3.  The halacha is brought in the Beis Yosef from the Hagahos Maimoniyos who says this was the minhag of the Ra"m of Ruttenberg- יש לנו קבלה מקדמונינו שהמתענה פעם אחת בראש השנה תענית חלום, יתענה כל ימיו בראש השנה שני הימים. וכן נהג הר"מ על ידי שהתענה פעם אחת בראש השנה תענית חלום התענה כל ימיו.  The Aruch Hashulchan there brings an explanation from the Agur.  And, by the way, the Chasam Sofer (168) said about this mesora  דבר זה אין לו שרש בש״ס רק קבלה קדמונית שאיימו עלינו ומי יבא אחריהם, so he apparently wasn't impressed with the Aggur's explanation.)Many people have a minhag to follow the opinion that Chadash is not assur outside of Eretz Yisrael.  Although many people adopt stringencies in halacha during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, those who eat Chadash the whole year do not avoid it during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva.  If a person chooses to be machmir on Chadash during Aseres Yemei Teshuva, he is obligated to be machmir forever- not just during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, even the rest of the year. (Aruch Hashulchan 603:2 - after discussing that a person ought to be machmir on things during Aseres Yemei T[...]

Vayishlach. Everything Has To Be Earned.

Tue, 12 Nov 2013 05:41:00 +0000

Bava Kamma 50a:אמר ר' חנינא כל האומר הקב"ה ותרן הוא יותרו חייו שנאמר הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דרכיו משפטRav Chanina said, whoever says that Hashem is foregoing (i.e., indulgent- that He forgives sin gratuitously, without Teshuva,) his life will be foregone.  For it says "the Rock, His acts are perfect, all His ways are Justice."Rashi:ותרן: לעבור על כל פשעם. יותרו חייו: יופקרו חייו וגופו שמורה אל הבריות לחטואThis principle is quoted in the Mesilas Yesharim (4):  והוא מה ששלמה המלך עליו השלום אומר (קהלת יב): כי את כל מעשה האלקים יביא במשפט וגו', כי כאשר אין הקדוש ברוך הוא מניח מלשכוח כל מעשה טוב קטן כמות שהוא, כן לא יניח מלשפוט ולהוכיח כל מעשה רע קטן כמות שהוא, ולהוציא מלב הרוצים להתפתות ולחשוב שלא יעלה האדון ברוך הוא בדיניו הדברים הקלים ולא יקח חשבון עליהם, אלא כללא הוא (בבא קמא נ): כל האומר, הקדוש ברוך הוא ותרן הוא, יתותרו מעוהי. וכן אמרו: אם אומר לך יצר הרע, חטא, והקדוש ברוך הוא מוחל לך אל תשמע לו. וזה דבר פשוט ומבורר, כי הנה אל אמת ה'.והוא מה שאמר משה רבנו עליו השלום (דברים לב): הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דרכיו משפט אל אמונה ואין עול וגו', כי כיון שהקדוש ברוך הוא רוצה במשפט, הנה כך הוא עבור על המשפט, העלים את העין מן הזכות כמו מן החובה. על כן אם משפט הוא רוצה, צריך שיתן לכל איש כדרכיו וכפרי מעלליו בתכלית הדקדוק, בין לטוב בין למוטב, והיינו, אל אמונה ואין עול צדיק וישר הוא, שפירשו ז"ל (ספרי): לצדיקים ולרשעים, כי כך היא המדה ועל הכל הוא דן ועל כל חטא הוא מעניש ואין להמלטThe Yam shel Shlomo (Maharshal) in Bava Kama fifth perek section 23 quotes the above Gemara and Rashi,(אמר ר' חנינא כל האומר הקב"ה ותרן הוא יותרו חייו, שנאמר הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דרכיו משפט (דברים לב, ד, פירש"י האומר הקב"ה ותרן הוא לעבור על כל פשעים, יותרו חייו, יופקרו חייו וגופו לפי שמורה אל הבריות לחטוא עכ"ל. He clarifies Rashi, saying that when Rashi says  ותרן הוא לעבור על כל פשעים he doesn't mean that the problem is only when a person says that Hashem disregards all of a person's sins.  What Rashi means is that the problem is when a person says that Hashem disregards any one, even the smallest, of a person's sins and let's it pass unpunished without teshuva.ולאו דוקא שפי' רש"י שיאמר הקב"ה ותרן לעבור כל פשעים יחד בלא תשובה וכו' יותרו לו חייו, אלא ר"ל שיאמר הקב"ה ותרן להעביר על כל פשעים, איזה עבירה שתהיה בלא תשובה, והוא הדין שאפילו אמר על עבירה קטנה הקב"ה ותרן יותרוהו לו [...]

Toldos, Breishis 27:25. The Fragrance of Gan Eden

Fri, 01 Nov 2013 04:31:00 +0000

My studies in Yeshiva never included the Zohar/Arizal.  I never felt drawn to it because I have seen, among otherwise intelligent and learned people, so many heresies and stupidities and vicious fights, all stemming from absolute confidence to their version of such studies.  I always thought that faith meant accepting that others could sincerely disagree with you, because faith, by definition, is not provable.  While believing in Torah min Hashamayim is, we believe, true to any honest thinker, and only obscured by a rebellious willful blindness, I don't think the same applies to the various shittos in esoteric tradition.  The Gaon and Reb Chaim Volozhiner and Reb Tzadok, and even the Arvei Nachal, are unapproachable without learning the basics, and I don't trust anyone to teach me the basics. I know that my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Rudderman, had a Tanya on his night table and knew it by heart.  I am told that when my wife's grandfather, Reb Moshe, visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe listed three issues in the Zohar that he had never resolved, and that he gratefully received Reb Moshe's interpretations of the three issues.   My erstwhile peers have become experts on Reb Tzadok.  But I've chosen to delimit my field of vision.Still, sometimes the two worlds impinge upon each other, and I find something that seems to be subject to analysis with the tools I do have.  I predicate this discussion with two caveats that will become self evident:  that I remain confused about most of what I discuss here,  and as for the part I think I understand, I am probably completely off the track.  So this discussion is pure uninformed speculation.  It's nothing more than intellectual tourism.  I'm not de Tocqueville, and chances are that I'm saying Naarishkeit.  But if you can't say an occasional naarishkeit, if an ignorant man can't offer his opinion about things about which he knows nothing, what's an internet for?My assessment of myself is not based on external opinions.  Even so, I am subject to some degree of embarrassment, so forgive me as I point out that an occasional naarishkeit is just what it says- occasional.  In the past I have  said   some   very   good   things   on   this   parsha.I want to discuss the idea of historical תיקון החטא- that the commission of a sin creates a global need to fix or correct the sin, and that the sin can be rectified by the actions of someone a thousand years later.  I'm not sure what this means.  Even I have read that our behavior has powerful results in upper worlds; sins cause tremendous damage, and meritorious acts create spiritual beauty and perfection.  But how does one repair damage done in the ancient past?  Is it simply a form of Teshuva?  How does Shimon's teshuva help for Reuven?  Is it like לאו הניתק לעשה, where the mitzva undoes, is מנתק, the aveira, by curing the illness that the sin engendered?  Or is it like a לאו הניתק לעשה because Reuven's sin diminished the world's spirituality by creating greater distance from the Ribono shel Olam, and Shimon, by decreasing that distance, heightens the spirituality of the physical universe, thereby being מתקן the aveira?  Did Reuven's sin tilt the world, nece[...]