Monday, January 31, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/31/2011 01:22:00 PM

As clothes mask your body, the body too, clothes your true self. EVERY item's physical form is a 'skin' of its true spiritual skeleton.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/31/2011 01:22:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/31/2011 10:37:00 AM

The purpose of clothing is to hide the body and its form, not to express it.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/31/2011 10:37:00 AM

Sunday, January 30, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/30/2011 11:16:00 PM

The Word of G-D teaches us about Himself. His laws for society teach us about our fellow man.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/30/2011 11:16:00 PM

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/26/2011 02:05:00 PM

Though the downtrodden are quite used to their predicament, they remain accutely sensitive to their mistreatment.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/26/2011 02:05:00 PM

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/25/2011 09:39:00 PM

When a person conforms to the law, eventually the law REFORMS the person.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/25/2011 09:39:00 PM

Thursday, January 20, 2011

[KollelH blog] [BELATED] Bishalach - What a pleasure! - the Manna

While going over Parshas HaMann, I could not help but remember my days in Yeshivah K'Tanah dreamily wondering about the flavors I would fancy for that day's lunch. Looking at it from a somewhat (I hope) more mature perspective.... I find myself doing the same thing! There is some fantasy-like enchantment that the story of the Mann seems to arouse within us (or at least in me) that perhaps can use a little clarifying. Though my taste has changed, the magical notion of the variety of flavors of the Mann still inspires me to daydream....

What seems so unreal about the Mann is not so much the lack of scientific explanation for the phenomenon, for Yitzias Mitzrayim and much of our history has had many equally impressive miracles. What is so unique about the fabulous flavors of the Mann is that it seems very uncharacteristic of our Torah which speaks of " פת במלח תאכל" - "Bread & salt you shall eat." To compliment the Mann about its unlimited tongue tantalizing potential seems, at best, somewhat materialistic if not absolutely childish!

To make matters worse, Chazal tell us "לא ניתנה תורה אלא לאוכלי המן" - That the Torah was specifically given to the people who ate the Mann. This seems like an outright contradiction to the minimalistic approach of acquiring the Torah through pas bamelach!

Why was it necessary to provide such a surreal fantasy-land experience for the sustenance of Klall Yisrael in the midbar? Though one may argue to say that Hashem wanted to prevent future complaints about the food, we know the complaints continued later anyway so this was probably not G-D's intent.

The R' Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin writes (צדקת הצדיק רסב) that there are different forms of 'food' for the three parts of a person; גוף, נפש, ונשמה . The גוף - the body, gets its sustenance from simple matter, such as carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients found in regular food. The נשמה - the lofty and holy soul, is sustained by providing it with spirituality, such as Limud HaTorah and fulfilling Mitzvos.
However the נפש, which is (actually quite hard to describe) the energy of life that actually makes us feel lively or 'dead', is fed by something else entirely. Its sustenance is...... PLEASURE. This is illustrated well by the difference of liveliness felt in ourselves when he hear wonderful news or, G-D forbid, a tragedy. An even better example of this, though, is of two patients recovering in a hospital. Both can be receiving the same exact nutritional diet prescribed by their physicians. However, we know that the patient who enjoys his meal or is humored with good company will almost definitely recover quicker and better than his counterpart. This is due to the vital nutrient of pleasure offered to the נפש.

[It is for this reason, says R' Tzadok, that the joy and pleasure associated with mitzvos or aveiros have such an impact upon us. We are feeding and living off of those acts! In this manner, any aveirah we draw pleasure from has the similar severity to eating non-kosher food; timtum halev. It is because of this, that yesurim - pain, has the cleansing attribute that we call "kapparah'. The suffering one has, G-D forbid, actually and noticeably diminishes that liveliness. In this regard even a minor frustration, is, on a smaller scale, considered a form of 'death'. The implications of this add great importance to simchas hamitzvos and kabolas yesurim (lo aleinu).]

This may explain the need for salt at the table of even the most simple of meals. We cannot ignore the needs of the spirit for at least some level of basic taste and pleasure in our food. Therefore the Mishnah includes salt - פת במלח - even in the simplest diet.

With this in mind we can understand the uncharacteristic importance placed on the taste [and the many other wonders (see the medrashim)] of the mann. Since the mann was not food made of regular physical matter, to feed the body, as chazal refer to it as the nourishment of the Angels, it had to offer an enormous amount of pleasure, to energize and enliven the spirit. To keep Klall Yisrael alive in the vast and somewhat depressing desert the mann had to nourish their נפש without ANY dissappointment! Any boredome or displeasure  would greatly effect its ability to nourish them.

Perhaps this great level of enjoyment and happiness, which was free from any physical properties, was the reason for לא ניתנה תורה אלא לאוכלי המן . This was the true fulfillment of  אין השכינה שורה, אלא מתוך שמחה של מצוה - G-D's presence resides only within an environment of spiritual joy of mitzvos.

Enjoy your Shabbos!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 1/13/2011 01:05:00 AM

Yisro - Aseres Hadibros

Many have the custom of sitting during krias hatorah. However, twice a year when we read the Aseres Hadibros, in parshas יתרו and ואתחנן, it is the custom of some to rise for their reading. There has been much debate as to whether this custom is problematic for the following reason. Opponents of this custom argue that rising for one part of the Torah may be an indication of importance of that parshah over another.  We firmly believe that every part of the Torah is of equal importance for it all comes from Hashem.

 I once asked my rebbe, Reb Shmuel Berenbaum zt"l, if he thought the custom to stand was in contradiction to this fundamental principle. He answered that the advocates of the custom hold that by standing up for the Aseres Hadibros, one is not indicating more importance to that reading, rather more quantity of Torah contained within. Though every passuk is of equal importance, some parshios represent, and encompass more Torah than others. The Aseres Hadibros in their general form, contain the entirety of the Torah. When one stands for the Aseres Hadibros it is not an indication that they are more important than the rest of the Torah, but rather that the entire Torah is contained within them.

This question was asked to the Rambam, and is brought in his responsa. The Rambam answered that one should not stand for select parts of the Torah, as this exhibits a higher importance to them. It seems then, as if the custom of many people, to rise for the reading of the Aseres Hadibros, is not in accordance with the p'sak of the Rambam!
The Sefer Harirai Kedem offers the following explanation to assure that this prevalent custom is not a direct contradiction to the p'sak of the Rambam.
Throughout the year we read the Torah using the regular טעמים, (the "trup"), known as Tam Tachton. On Shavuos we read the Aseres Hadibros with a different "trup", called Tam Elyon. The difference between them (besides the tune) is that Tam Tachton keeps the p'sukim reading the simple way we have them, while the Tam Elyon divides or connects some p'sukim, reforming them into longer or shorter passages. With Shavuos's Tam Elyon for example, the first two commandments of the Aseres HaDibros are read as just two passages, whereas they are five seperate passages (the way it appears in the Chumash), when read in the regular Tam Tachton. There are also several separate Dibros that are all read as one passuk in the regular Tam Tachton, however when Tam Elyon is applied they are each divided appropriately into separate p'sukim.

During regular krias hatorah we are not allowed to separate the p'sukim that Moshe Rabbainu set forth. The reason that we may do so when applying Tam Elyon is, that reading the Torah in Tam Elyon is not considered regular krias hatorah .With Tam Elyon one is reenacting מעמד הר סיני (the giving of the Torah).

On Shavuos we read the Aseres Hadibros in Tam Elyon. There is a machlokes brought in the Bear Haitaiv in Shulchon Uruch Orach Chaim (494:2), as to whether one should read the Aseres Hadibros of parshios יתרו and ואתחנן using Tam Elyon or the regular Tam Tachton. We may assume that the Rambam held that one should read the Aseres Hadibros of parshas יתרו and ואתחנן in the regular Tam Tachton, thereby rendering it part of regular krias hatorah. In which case rising for that reading alone, would indicate that this part of the Torah is more significant than others. However, most congregations today use Tam Elyon not just on Shavuos, but even for the parshios of  יתרו and ואתחנן, therefore it is not regarded as regular krias hatorah and standing is permitted as part of remembering מעמד הר סיני.

 Based on this reasoning, it would seem appropriate for one to have in mind the mitzvah of remembering מעמד הר סיני, if he stands specifically when the י' דברות are being read this week. Let us use this as an opportunity to make krias haTorah a lot more than just a reading. We can make it an experience!

 Gut Shabbos!

For questions or comments about this vort e-mail:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/18/2011 10:32:00 PM

There is creative power in any physical act of kindness. It CREATES a UNIT from two individuals and it builds a bond of love.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/18/2011 10:32:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/18/2011 01:31:00 PM

Keeping silent offers room for wisdom. LISTENING provides the wisdom.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/18/2011 01:31:00 PM

Thursday, January 13, 2011

[KollelH blog] Bishalach - Amalek

At the end of this week's parsha, we learn of the attack of Amalek on the Jewish people in the desert. There are two mitzvos associated with Amalek. In parshas Ki Saytzai the Torah writes "זכר את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך בצאתכם ממצרים". We learn from here that there is a positive commandment to remember that which Amalek had done to us upon leaving Mitzrayim. Here the torah also commands us "תמחה את זכר עמלק" - to wipe out any existence of Amalek. It is unclear from the torah whether the mitzvah of "remembering that which Amalek did to us" is a prerequisite to fulfilling the mitzvah of "wiping out any existence of Amalek", or if they are mutually exclusive. In other words is there a mitzvah to remember even if it will not lead to the annihilation of Amalek.

The Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvos asay 189), discusses the mitzvah of "Remembering that which Amalek did to us". He writes that we must awaken our souls with these words of remembrance, to wage war against Amalek. The Rambam concludes his explanation of this mitzvah by quoting the incident when Shmuel Hanavi commanded Shaul Hamalech to wage war against Amalek in order to fulfill the commandment of "Timcheh ais zaicher Amalek". Prior to doing so, Shmuel Hanavi first recalled all the bad that Amalek had visited on the Jewish people upon leaving Mitzrayim. It is evident that the Rambam is of the opinion that the mitzvah of "Remembering that which Amalek did to us" is a perquisite in the fulfilling of the mitzvah of wiping them out.

Another Rishon as well, the Sefer Hachinuch, (mitzvah 603) writes that the mitzvah of "Zachor" - remembering, is only applied to men and not to women. He explains the reason for the exclusion of women in this mitzvah is that, war pertains to men and not women. By using the "War against Amalek" as means to exclude women from the mitzvah of "Zachor" the Chinuch is also connecting the two mitzvos. We must infer from his reasoning that he too is of the opinion that the mitzvah of "Zachor" is a means of fulfilling the mitzvah of "Timcheh".

The Minchas Chinuch (a sefer written by an acharon which comments on the Sefer Hachinuch) is bothered by the ruling of the Sefer Hachinuch. Among many questions, he asks: Who told anyone what the reasons for the mitzvos of Hashem are? We don't know whether the reason for the mitzvah of "Zachor" is in order to bring us to wage war against Amalek, or if it is for some other reason. In which case, even after all of Amalek is completely annihilated perhaps there will still be a mitzvah of "Zachor" to remember that which Amalek did to us. Similarly, women should be obligated in the mitzvah of "Zachor" even if they are exempt from the mitzvah of "Timcheh".

The way we fulfill our obligation in the mitzvah of "Zachor" is by reading the parsha of "Zachor" on the shabbos preceding Purim. One can also fulfill this obligation with the reading of parshas "Zachor" found in parshas כי תצא, when it is regularly read. The Magen Avraham (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 685) says that one may also fulfill his obligation of reading parshas Zachor with the story in this week's parsha -Bishalach,which is known as parshas "ויבא עמלק". The Mishna Brurah (685.16) argues with the Magen Avraham, and paskins that one may not fulfill the obligation of reading parshas Zachor by reading " ויבא עמלק". In explaining his opposition, the Mishna Brurah cites a Ramban from his commentary to divarim 25:17 that says: "We must tell to our children and future generations what the bad people (Amalek) did to us and as a result we were commanded to wipe them out". The Mishna Birrurah concludes, due to the fact that the parsha of "ויבא עמלק" contains no mention of the war against Amalek, one cannot use it to fulfill his obligation of reading parshas Zachor.

It would seem that the machlokes (dispute) between the Magen Avraham and the Mishna Birrurah is dependent on the discussion above. The Magen Avraham is of the opinion that the mitzvah of Zachor is exclusive to the mitzvah of Micheyas Amalek. He holds that there is a mitzvah to remember that which Amalek did to us even if it will not lead to the annihilation of Amalek. That is why he is not bothered by the fact that there is no mention of the war in "ויבא עמלק". The Mishnah Brurah on the other hand is of the opinion that the mitzvah of Zachor is a prerequisite in fulfilling the mitzvah of Micheyas Amalek. Therefore he rejects fulfilling one's obligation of reading parshas Zachor by means of any parsha lacking mention of war, or Micheyas Amalek.

It should be mentioned that the Chasam Sofer (ש''ות Even HaEzer 119), holds that the mitzvah of hearing parshas Zachor is applicable not once a year, but rather once every 12 months. Therefore, he says that in a leap year, (as this year is), one should have in mind to fulfill his obligation with either parshas כי תצא, or this week's parsha – Bishalach, with the reading of "ויבא עמלק" (in accordance with the Magen Avraham).

Gut Shabbos!


Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 1/14/2011 12:41:00 AM

Thursday, January 6, 2011

[KollelH blog] BO - Pidyon Haben

The passuk in this week's parsha (13:1), says קדש לי כל בכור - We learn from here the mitzvah of pidyon haben. As the passuk says the first baby boy to be born is holy and belongs to Hashem. Later in the parsha, (pasuk יג) we learn that one can redeem his son with five סלעים (silver coins) from a kohen. The boy is thereby no longer considered holy or 'belonging' to Hashem.
The Rema ( יו'ד ס' ש'ה סעיף י ) quotes a Rivash that says, the father cannot assign a שליח – an agent, to redeem his son from the kohen. Many achronim were very disturbed by this ruling. They asked, that we know that in all other aspects of the Torah one is able to appoint a שליח, so why should pidyon haben be different?

The Shach and Taz were among those achronim who opposed the ruling of the Rema, and they indeed rule that one may appoint a שליח to perform the mitzvah of pidyon haben.

The Chasam Sofer (Yorah Deah 293), writes that there is a significant difference between the mitzvah of pidyon haben and all others. The mitzvah of pidyon haben is a commemoration of the plague of the firstborn in Egypt. The Jewish bichorim, (firstborn) were saved, while the Egyptian's were killed. The Torah tells us that this plague was carried out by Hashem Himself, without any angelic agents. As it says in the Haggadda, ani vilo malach ani vilo shileyach. Therefore, in performing this mitzvah there is reason for us as well, not to use an agent, but rather to do it ourselves.

The Aruch Hashulchan (Yorah Deah ש'ה) offers two other explanations for the ruling of the Rema. First, the passuk explicitly says תפדה - you should redeem. Whenever the Torah explicitly says one should do a mitzvah, one may not appoint an agent. Secondly, the gemarah makes a drasha connecting the mitzvah of pidyon haben with the mitzvah of oleh regel, which is a mitzvah שבגופו – one that is performed with one's actual body. The Aruch Hashulchan says that the Torah wants to connect the mitzvah of oleh regel to the mitzvah of pidyon haben in this regard as well. Just as one cannot appoint an agent to perform the mitzvah of oleh regel on his behalf, so too one may not appoint an agent to redeem his son. Although the gemarah uses this drasha to teach us something else, we can add to the drasha and say that there is another similarity that the Torah wants to draw upon.

I wanted to offer a new approach in understanding the p'sak of the Rema, and answer the question of the achronim. The Sefer Hachinuch explains all of the six hundred and thirteen mitzvos. In his explanation of the mitzvah of pidyon haben, (מצוה יח ), he writes, that the intention of this mitzvah is to remind us that everything that we have comes from Hashem. He similarly explains that the mitzvah of bikurim (offering of the first fruit) is to serve the same purpose. Often, after a person toils very hard to produce, there is a natural pride he may take in the fruit of his labor, especially in the very first product of his efforts. At that point one is vulnerable, and may come to forget that after all his hard work, still, everything comes from Hashem. To counter this possible outcome, Hashem gave us these mitzvos of pidyon haben and bikurim to give us the opportunity to thank Him at this crucial time. In summation, the mitzvah of pidyon haben is to remind us that everything we have comes from Hashem, and to thank Him for giving it to us.

Based on this explanation, we can now understand the p'sak of the Rama. Although with regard to most circumstances one may appoint an agent to act on his behalf, regarding giving thanks and showing gratitude one may not. If one would be permitted to redeem his son or his bikurim through an agent he would be missing the entire point of the mitzvah!

We find this idea as well by the bracha of modim in the shimoneh esray. The shileyach tzibor in his repetition of the shmoneh esray is motze (fulfills the obligation of) the congregation in davening. However the bracha of modim everyone must say to themselves, as the chazan cannot be motze them. The אבודרהם explains, that the bracha of modim is the bracha of thanking Hashem, and as mentioned above one cannot use a שליח to act on his behalf for showing gratitude to Hashem.

Gut Shabbos!


Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 1/06/2011 11:30:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/06/2011 08:35:00 PM

It is no feat for G-D to sustain the entire universe. What IS 'burdensome' to G-D, is purposeless speech.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/06/2011 08:35:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/06/2011 07:53:00 AM

Money can't buy everything, but it can and should be used to 'buy' good friends.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/06/2011 07:53:00 AM

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 1/04/2011 01:24:00 PM

Humans are created to be dependant. We are supported to the extent of the capabilities of the one who WE rely on.
Rely on G-D.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 1/04/2011 01:24:00 PM