Yearly Archive: 2008

1

Small Jugs

In the beginning, or a few days later, Hashem created the sun and the moon. In Bereishis (1:16) the Torah says: “And G-d made the two large luminaries – the large luminary to rule the day and the small luminary to rule the night – and the stars.” A famous gemara (Chullin 60b), quoted by Rashi, points out an inconsistency...

2

A Tzadiq Will Flower Like a Date-Palm

I had this thought while saying Qabbalas Shabbos this week. It’s a “Chassidishe Vort” in style, intentionally stretching the meaning of a quote in order to create a mnemonic for an important point — but with a mussar message. צַ֭דִּיק כַּתָּמָ֣ר יִפְרָ֑ח, כְּאֶ֖רֶז בַּלְּבָנ֣וֹן יִשְׂגֶּֽה׃ A righteous person will flower like a date-palm, Will grow like a cedar in Lebanon....

1

The True Hero of Chanukah

No, the title of this post doesn’t refer to HQBH, although clearly it could. (Or can it: Can we define “heroism” with respect to One for Whom there are no risks to take?) Nor Yehudah haMakabi, nor Matisyahu, nor Chana or any of her sons, nor Yehudis… The Beis Yoseif famously asks why we celebrate the first day of Chanukah....

0

Chanukah: Never Give Up

Chanukah tells us to never give up, no matter how formidable the challenge. When the Hasmonian family realized that they had no choice other than to confront the Greeks and attempt the impossible, they linked up with a force beyond themselves and achieved the impossible. They reached for what beyond their grasp and were thus privileged to initiate events that...

0

A Castle in the Air

(A continuation of my two Bilvavi posts [part 1, part 2]. The basic notion is the Maharal’s, that there are three aspects of the human soul, each living in a different universe: heaven, earth and the world between the person’s ears. And that each universe and therefore the corresponding aspect exists in order to enable three different relationships: between man...

0

Like one person, with one heart

For the past day and a half, all Jewish eyes were on Mumbai, formerly known to us in the west as Bombay, named for two Hindu godesses. Nine popular tourist sites were attacked, locations that attracted many American and British citizens. Nine tourist sites… and one Chabad House. Jews around the world suddenly took an interest in IBN, CNN’s partner...

0

Bilvavi, part II

To summarize part I: I opened by raising the question why such a significant portion of the book of Shemos is dedicated to the building of the mishkan. The rest of the post didn’t seem to address that question, but instead developed a structural model of the human soul, based on the Maharal’s understanding of Avos 1:2 combined with the...

3

Bilvavi, part I

בלבבי משכן אבנה להדר כבודו, ובמשכן מזבח אקים לקרני הודו, ולנר תמיד אקח לי את אש העקידה, ולקרבן אקריב לו את נפשי היחידה. In my heart I will build a mishkan to the magnificence of His honor, In this mishkan I will establish an altar to the pride of His glory, For an eternal lamp I will take for myself...

0

More on Finance and Bitachon

In an earlier post, I mentioned R’ Elchanan Wasserman’s essay on the Great Depression. ) Despite the past couple of days looking promising, it is still too early to rest comfortably. The markets are still volatile, meaning there is too much uncertainty. A 10% one day jump isn’t meaningful — people’s opinion of what the typical US company is worth...

0

Mitzvos of Sukkos

(Copied from Sukkos 5766. -micha) There are many mitzvos that are specific to Succos. Aside from the mitzvos we can observe today, Succah, Hakafos, and the Four Species, there are also a number that can only be kept in the Beis HaMikdosh, including the 70 Musaph cows, and Nisuch Hamayim followed by Simchas Beis HaShoevah. The Yom Tov has several...

0

Simchas Beis haSho’eivah

(Copied from Sukkos 5764. -micha) I There are many mitzvos that are specific to Succos. Aside from the mitzvos we can observe today, Succah, Hakafos, and the Four Species, there are also a number that can only be kept in the Beis HaMikdosh, including the 70 Musaph cows, and Nisuch Hamayim followed by Simchas Beis HaShoevah. The Yom Tov has...

0

Bitachon and Melukhah

Perhaps it is just that we have been exploring these two topics simultanously, but I think there is an interesting relationship between them. I wrote about bitachon that Bitachon is awareness that the A-lmighty is acting in a covenental partnership with you. It is from there that Rav Dessler’s formula for hishtadlus emerges, one partner only picks up what he...

1

And with what? With a Shofar

אמר רבי יהודה משום רבי עקיבא … אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא: … ואמרו לפני בראש השנה מלכיות זכרונות ושופרות. מלכיות: כדי שתמליכוני עליכם. זכרונות: כדי שיעלה זכרוניכם לפני לטובה. ובמה? בשופר. Rabbi Yehudah said an idea from Rabbi Aqiva …: The Holy One, blessed be He said, “… say before Me on Rosh haShanah, Malkhios, Zikhoronos and Shoferos. “Malkhios: so...

0

Coronating G-d

(Significantly enlarged from the 2005 version. -micha) I Melukhah (kingship) is a major theme, if not the major theme of Rosh haShanah. Aside from the ubiquity of the word in our liturgy for Rosh haShanah and the Ten Days of Teshuvah, we find another indication in the Amidah for Rosh haShanah‘s Mussaf. Three blessings are inserted to the middle of...

1

Bitachon: Trust that …?

There are three basic models of bitachon: 1- Bitachon is the belief that everything will turn out okay. This message is taught in an entire genre of stories which create the image that if you only are properly observant and had sufficient bitachon, the only airplane you would ever miss is one that ch”v is going to crash. This notion...

0

Emunah and Bitachon

There is a halakhah of semikhas ge’ulah letefillah, that one must finish the last berakhah after Shema, that about the redemption, immediately before the Shemoneh Esrei, with no interruptions. The Mishnah Berurah even advises that in Shacharis the chazan should whisper the end of the berakhah to himself, so that the congregation would not be obligated to interrupt between their...

1

Lehman Brothers and Bitachon

During last night’s commute home, someone asked me how my preparations for Rosh haShanah were going. I had to admit, not well, as I had no thoughts as to which particular issues were calling for my attention this year, which were the battles to choose to fight. Thank G-d, this morning I saw the following by R’ Chaim Brown on...

3

Shalom Aleikhem!

I I once cited a thought from Rav Dovid Lifshitz about the nature of shalom. Shalom goes beyond peace in the sense of a cessation of violence. It’s the same root as sheleimus — wholeness. Beyond “world peace”, a vision of universal shalom means one in which all the nations “will come together in a single union to do Your...

0

AishDas

I was recently interviewed by Steve Savitsky, the president of the OU, for his radio show “Around the Dining Room Table“. Here is their description of the show: Not excited about Jewish practice? Have trouble tolerating fellow Jews and their different practices? Steve Savitsky sits around the dining room table with Rabbis Benjamin Hecht and Micha Berger. My goal in...

1

Ben Chamishim le’Aitzah

… בן חמישים לעצה … – יהודה בן תימא, אבות ה:כא וּמִבֶּן֙ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה יָשׁ֖וּב מִצְּבָ֣א הָעֲבֹדָ֑ה וְלֹ֥א יַעֲבֹ֖ד עֽוֹד׃ – במדבר ח:כה שמייעץ את אחיו ומלמדם לשמור משמרתם – רש”י שם וְהִגִּישׁ֤וֹ אֲדֹנָיו֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְהִגִּישׁוֹ֙ אֶל־הַדֶּ֔לֶת א֖וֹ אֶל־הַמְּזוּזָ֑ה וְרָצַ֨ע אֲדֹנָ֤יו אֶת־אָזְנוֹ֙ בַּמַּרְצֵ֔עַ וַעֲבָד֖וֹ לְעֹלָֽם׃ -שמות כא:ו עד היובל או אינו אלא לעולם (קידושין טו) כמשמעו ת”ל (ויקרא כה) ואיש...

1

Heroism

I was recently asked for help preparing material for a va’ad on heroism. Shirah Bell, one of the other recipients of the initial email offered this as a typical definition of heroism: The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery. Nothing sprung to mind, so...

1

Three Desires

In the last entry, I quoted part of Even Sheleimah, 2:1, by the Vilna Gaon. The full paragraph reads: The sum of all evil middos are ka’as[1] (anger), ta’avah (desire), and ga’avah[2] (egotism), which are “haqin’ah vehata’avah vehakavod — jealousy, desire and honor”.[3] Each includes two [parts]. Of ka’as: ra (evil) and mirma (duplicity). Ra is revealed, and mirmah is...

4

Hatred

Do not hate your brother in your heart; לֹֽא־תִשְׂנָ֥א אֶת־אָחִ֖יךָ בִּלְבָבֶ֑ךָ; you should surely rebuke your neighbor, הוֹכֵ֤חַ תּוֹכִ֨יחַ֙ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ and do not carry a sin because of him. וְלֹֽא־תִשָּׂ֥א עָלָ֖יו חֵֽטְא׃ – Vayiqra 19:17 There are a number of questions about this verse that need to be addressed before we can understand it. First, is this verse describing one...

1

Gender Differences: Oaths

The Torah uses two different words for husband: ish, in particular when used with the feminine possessive “ishahh” (her man); and ba’al. Interestingly, in the beginning of parashas Matos, the section on annulling vows, only ishahh is used (v. 8, 9, 11, 12, twice in 13, twice in 14, 15; observation made to Avodah by Akiva Miller), ba’al is not...

8

The Halakhic Community

I would like to discuss the question of whether R’ YB Soloveitchik’s model of what his students call “Torah uMada” and his ideal of the Halakhic Man are actually usable as a goal for a community. That’s not the same as asking the question of whether it is correct, or consistent with his Brisker origins. Or whether an individual could...