Sunday, February 27, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 2/27/2011 06:38:00 PM

G-D's presence in our world can be likened to sunlight shining through a window. Just don't use room darkeners.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 2/27/2011 06:38:00 PM

Friday, February 25, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 2/25/2011 01:18:00 PM

Skyscrapers stand on foundations made of the cheapest materials, and oak trees grow from nothing more than soil. So too, the best relationships can sprout from simplest of conversations.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 2/25/2011 01:18:00 PM

Thursday, February 24, 2011

[KollelH blog] VaYakhel - Ma'seh Shabbos

The Gemarah in Shabbos (97b) learns from the passuk in this week's parsha, (35:1) אלה הדברים , that there are thirty nine milachos that one must refrain from doing on shabbos. Rashi on the Gemarah explains that the gimatriyah of the word אלה is thirty six, plus the word 'devarim' is plural, and therefore implies two, and the ה of HAdivarim includes one more, that is three, and the , totaling thirty nine.

There is another Gemarah in Shabbos (49b) which brings an alternate source for the thirty nine milachos,
from the fact that the torah juxtaposed the parsha of shabbos to that of the building of the mishkan. We are to infer from this that those constructive acts used in the building of the mishkan are the milachos that are prohibited on shabbos.

If one transgresses one of the thirty nine milachos, the product of that milacha is forbidden to use. This is known as maiseh shabbos. There is a machlokes amongst the Tanaim whether this is forbidden by the Torah or mid'Rabanan. We paskin that it is forbidden mid'Rabanan. For example cooking is one of the thirty nine milachos, if one cooks on shabbos the food is forbidden to eat.

It is unclear as to the nature of the prohibition of the product of maiseh shabbos. Reb Chaim Soloveitchik (stencils 378) says that the prohibition of maiseh shabbos is different than other prohibitions, such as bassar b'chalav (cooked meat and milk).
With regard to the prohibition of bassar b'chalav, the Torah said that this item is forbidden (issur cheftzah). Meaning to say that by Torah law the item has a deficiency being that it is bassar b'chalav. However the prohibition of maiseh shabbos is a restriction on the person (issur gavrah) so as not to benefit from the milocha. The actual item is not intrinsically prohibited.

Another example of this type of prohibition is the prohibition not to eat on Yom Kippor where the actual food is not  prohibited, rather the person is restricted from eating it.

Reb Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe O.C.1  126:3) argues and says that the product of maiseh shabbos is intrinsically forbidden, and similar to that of bassar b'chalav.

One difference that exists between these two opinions is, whether the pot that you cooked in will become forbidden as a result of the prohibited food giving off flavor into it. The flavor of that food remains in the walls of the pot, and is then expelled into the new food during its next use. This can render the new food forbidden as well. However this will only apply to a food item that is forbidden, for if the food is intrinsically permitted and only the person is restricted from it, it will therefore be permitted.

Therefore according to Reb Chaim, who holds that maiseh shabbos is an issur gavrah, the pot it was cooked in will be permitted. Whereas according to Reb Moshe the pot will be forbidden. In this situation R' Chaim Brisker ends up being the more lenient opinion.
Another difference between if the prohibition is an issur gavrah or issur cheftzah is, whether or not we can apply the rule of mitzvos lav lihanos nitnu to ma'asei shabbos (mitzvos were not given for the purpose of personal pleasure). A classic example of this rule is a lulav of issurai han'ah (forbidden to benefit from) that one may use for a mitzvah. The Rashba and other rishonim hold that even physical benefit derived during the performance of a  mitzvah is permitted. Therefore if one were to perform a mitzvah with an item that was forbidden he would still be permitted to derive a physical pleasure from it. This only applies to an item that is intrinsically prohibited. However if the restriction is only on the person, the mitzvah cannot allow him to use the item.
Therefore, if one heated up a mikvah on shabbos, which is one of the thirty nine milochos, according to Reb Moshe that maiseh shabbos is intrinsically prohibited we may apply the rule of mitzvos lav lihanos nitnu and as a result one may enter into the mikvah for mitzvah purposes, even though a physical pleasure will be endured. Whereas according to Reb Chaim one may not enter into such a mikvah.

[The Magen Avraham (318:1) quotes a Rashba saying that the pot that one cooked in is in fact prohibited. This supports the opinion of Reb Moshe Feinstein.]

 For questions and comments about this column email:

Posted By Dovi milstein to KollelH blog at 2/25/2011 02:00:00 AM

Friday, February 18, 2011

Machatzis Hashekel

The beginning of the parsha discusses the mitzvah of machtzis hashekel. There is a mitzvas assay for every man to give a half of a shekel yearly. We find something more stringent with this mitzvah than with most others. The Rambam (hilchos shikalim 1:1) writes that even a pauper who benefits from tzedakah is obligated in the mitzvah of machtzis hashekel, and is even required to sell the shirt off his back to pay for this mitzvah. We learn this from the pasuk of hadal lo yamit. There is a general rule regarding the amount one is obligated to spend for a mitzvah. The Gemarah in kesubos (50a) says one is not obligated to spend more than one fifth of his wealth on a mitzvah. Why is it that for the mitzvah of machtzis hashekel one must spend even more than a fifth of his wealth in order to perform the mitzvah?

The Shulchan Aruch Harav in his igeres hateshuva (chapter 3) writes, that although one should normally not spend more than a fifth of his wealth on a mitzvah, a bal teshuvah who wishes to give tzedakah to atone for his soul may spend more than a fifth of his wealth in doing so. He compares this to one that has medical expenses that he is allowed to spend whatever he can. Based on this p'sak the sefer Harirai Kedem suggests that we can understand why for the mitzvah of machtzis hashekel one must spend even more than a fifth of his wealth. Since the mitzvah of machtzis hashekel is also to atone for ones soul as it says lichaper al nafshosaichem, one may spend more than a fifth of his wealth in order to perform it

It should result from the p'sak of the Shulchan Aruch Harav, that for a korban chatas and other korbanos that bring atonement one should be obligated to bring them even if it will cost him more than a fifth of his wealth. I have not found anyone that discusses this point.     

The Chofetz Chaim in the  Be'ur Halacha (656 d"h afilu) says that the logic behind the spending limit of one fifth on mitzvos is so that one will not give away too much of his money and as a result become needy and be forced to rely on others. In a situation where a half of a shekel is more than one fifth of ones wealth, he is already needy and already relies on others. Since giving the machtzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his wealth.


Reb Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim 5:41) explains that actually one is not exempt of any mitzvos even if they cost more than a fifth of his wealth. He explains that there are two types of mitzvos. One type is where the mitzvah is the spending of money i.e. pidyon haben. The second type of mitzvah is performed with an item i.e. essrog. With the second type, the money spent on obtaining that item is not part of the mitzvah. When one does not have the item required to perform a mitzvah, he must try to obtain it. Should there be no such items available he will be exempt from performing that mitzvah. The rule that one is not required to spend more than a fifth applies only in this type of mitzvah, where the spending is not part of the mitzvah, rather a means of obtaining it. Since one is not obligated to spend more than a fifth, we consider it as if there are none available. The rule is not an exemption to any of the mitzvos, it merely renders an item unavailable for purchase.

On the other hand with regard to a mitzvah in which the actual spending is part of the mitzvah, such as machtzis hashekel, there is no exemption, and he must spend the money even if it will cost more than a fifth of his wealth, for that is what the Torah has obligated us to do.


The following scenario signifies the difference between the p'sak of the Bear Halacha and the Igros Moshe. If a poor man who is currently not reliant on others for his finances, is obligated in the mitzvah of pidyon haben, and the five sla'im needed for the mitzvah amounts to more than a fifth of his wealth. According to the Igros Moshe he would not be exempt from the mitzvah, for the mitzvah is to spend the money. The Beur Halacha would however disagree and exempt the man from the mitzvah, since by spending money for this mitzvah he will become needy and reliant on others.


For questions or comments about this column email:





[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 2/18/2011 06:33:00 AM

Different substances have unique quality & purity tests. PERMANENCE tests the purity level of spirtuality. True spirituality should last.... Forever.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 2/18/2011 06:33:00 AM

Monday, February 14, 2011

[Ein Yaakov Highlights] Tetzaveh 44-45

This edition of EYHighlights is written for the z'chus refuah of our dear friend יעקב צבי בן נחמה רחל.

איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם - R' Yonah in Avos explains, that a chacham is one who truly loves wisdom enough to learn and glean some wisdom from any source. The people of Modai (do you hear addar in the background?) were exemplary in three ways, which allowed R' Akiva to say he 'loved' them for the lessons they taught.

1. They showed great respect for their guests by bringing a full piece of meat to the table and cutting it only there. (Yifas Toar on beraishis rabbah 74.2)

2. They would hygienically kiss their friend only upon the back of the hand.

3. They would advise on private matters only in the complete solitude of an empty field.

Perhaps the common denominator was a very keen sensitivity to other people's concerns. Quite the expected trait to be noticed by the one who so famously said ואהבת לריעך כמוך – זה כלל גדול בתורה .

The Persians (do you hear addar sheini?) were exemplary in their Tznius with regards to eating, the use of the restrooms, and (un)marital relations. However, they are referred to as being designated for Gehinom, as this wonderful trait was actually abused by them, as a means to just enhance their selfish interests. (R' Tzadok in tzidkas hatzadik 296)

There were two forms of Geulah in Yetzias Mitzrayim. At chatzos they were freed from Pharoah's slavery and instead became servants of G-D. In the morning they were physically freed from the Egypt.

Hashem did not want Avraham avinu to experience any temporary uncertainty about the promise made to him for his descendants to leave Egypt in great wealth. So, although the true fulfillment of this would be from the spoils of the split sea, G-D also asked the Jews to get the riches from their oppressors immediately upon their departure as well.
Hashem asked the Yidden to "please" do this, (as apposed to the other mitzvos with which Hashem just tells us what to do) since He knew they would feel laxed about doing something for their own purpose. (Maharshah)

Mitzrayim's loss of their wealth is likened to a bird trap without any grain (to attract them), or like the depths of the ocean which are empty of fish. [Any insights into these mishalim are welcome.]

Posted By Dovi milstein to Ein Yaakov Highlights at 2/14/2011 11:55:00 PM

Thursday, February 10, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 2/10/2011 01:27:00 PM

Those who have a constant awareness of G-D's Awesomeness, are humbled to the point of minimal self expression.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 2/10/2011 01:27:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 2/10/2011 01:18:00 PM

Self expression is the trait of those who are not aware of their own faults. The Loud & Outlandish are as blind as bats.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 2/10/2011 01:18:00 PM

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fwd: [Ein Yaakov Highlights] Mishpatim 40 - 41

There are 903 forms of death. The harshest is called Assachrah which is
reserved for those whose souls have become so attached to their
materialistic body that they have become practically inseparable. The
departure of the נשמה therefore is comparable to a woolly garment
entangled in a thornbush. The clothing can be forced out but not
without tearing and leaving some of itself behind. This also makes the
deceased feel much more pain in the body's deterioration, as the soul
is still somewhat attached. The lightest form of death is מיתת נשיקה,
which resembles a hair being pulled out of a cup of milk. There is no
difficulty whatsoever, since that soul was never really attached to the
body in the first place.

Burial serves as a Kapparah and one should pray for himself in advance
to have this carried out peacefully, 'down to the last shovelful'!

Curiously, the Gemara gives credit to Mar Zutra's example of בית הכיסא
- the restroom - as the best subject for the passuk על זאת יתפלל כל
חסיד לעת מצוא . One explanation is that he was hinting to the very
delicate 'balancing act' of using and/or disposing of the מותרות
- 'extraneous matter' in our lives. Regarding this a chassid definitely
should pray for Hashem's guidance. Luxuries can endanger one's
spirituality greatly, yet so too, the inappropriate overdose of
minimizing one's pleasures can have a boomerang effect upon himself as
well. Another explanation for Mar Zutra is that he meant to say that we
must pray to Hashem for everything in life, not just the aforementioned
very important parts of our lives. Even asking Hashem to ensure we have
an available restoom for when the need arises!

After the Churban, the place Hashem 'likes' the most is שערים מצוינים
בהלכה . R' Tzadok says this refers to the ד' אמות of anyone who is
carefully fulfilling the halachah. The R'Y.F. explains this in
referance to a שער of Tefillah which is also used as a makom Torah.

Only if a person would be humbled by his Rebbi's presence, is it highly
reccomended that he take residence nearby. Otherwise, His Rebbi's
presence would serve as a קיטרוג against the Talmid.

One who eats the fruit of his own labor is greater than a ירא שמים . Of
course the laborer must have Yir'as Shomayim as well, however since his
fear of G-D is challenged more by his involvement in business, he is on
a greater level than one who has not been so challenged. The בני יששכר
offers an interesting pshat. A posek who labors to understand the
intricacies of Halachah, and is therefore capable of giving a reliable
lenient ruling, is much greater than he who is fearful to do so because
of his lack of effort or understanding.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 2/01/2011 07:27:00 PM

The simplest and most universal form of acting in the Way of G-D, is by GIVING.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 2/01/2011 07:27:00 PM

[Tinsights.....Torah insights] 2/01/2011 07:14:00 PM

Life's challenges & their lessons can be deflected or absorbed. Rejected or learned from. One response is natural, the other is smart.

Posted By Ploni to Tinsights.....Torah insights at 2/01/2011 07:14:00 PM