Yearly Archive: 2008

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Types of Thought: Dictionary

A while back, last time I had a chance to complete a blog entry, I promised a dictionary of terms for thought. When writing it up, I noticed I had MUCH more to say on da’as / dei’ah / yedi’ah than the other topics. In any case, here is the result. Da’as: According to the Rambam, yedi’ah is at the...

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Types of Thought: Gender Differences, part II

In the previous post we spoke of gender difference in terms of extending society’s reach vs developing what we have – R’ Aharon Soloveitchik’s “kibush vs yishuv” (as discussed in this devar Torah for parashas Chayei Sarah), and R’ SR Hirsch’s outside vs inside. (And Dear Abby’s goal vs process.) And in the post before that we started discussing the...

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Gender Differences

(I had more to say on the each of yesterday’s post’s two topics, so it is being replaced with this and the next post.) In a post on parashas Chayei Sarah, I included R’ Aharon Soloveitchikzt”l‘s take on gender differences as reflected in halakhah. Men have an overly strong sense of qibbush, to conqure and subsue, women have a better...

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Types of Thought: Progressions

The first of the requests of the Shemoneh Esrei is Birchas haDa’as, the blessing on understanding. We first state “Atah chonein le’adam da’as – You grant humanity understanding, umelameid le’enosh binah – and teach man comprehension.” What is da’as that is chonein, granted freely, whereas binah is taught, and therefore requires that the student participate by learning it? And why...

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Three Modes of Tefillah

From Avodah v24 n215, submitted by R’ Moshe Y. Gluck: R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz explained the Zohar that says that there are three types of Tefillos: Tefillah L’Ani [the prayer of the poor] is the Tefillah that comes from the depths of the heart, with tears and beseeching, like a pauper begging. This prayer is most accepted before Hashem. Tefillah...

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Mourning During the Omer, part II

As I wrote in the previous post, there are two events that we are commemorating by mourning during the omer, and they seem to have happened on different dates. Rabbi Aqiva’s students died in the first part of the omer, while the Crusaders reached Ashkenaz in late Iyar. Depending upon which is event you consider primary, I could see justifying...

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Mourning During the Omer

א: אלו הימים שבין פסח לעצרת, מוחזק אצל כל ישראל זה שנות מאות רבות לימי דין וימי אבל, מפני שבזמן הקצר הזה מתו שנים עשר אלף זוגות תלמידי חכמים תלמידי רבי עקיבא, כדאיתא ביבמות (סב:), וכולם מתו במיתת אסכרא (שם).ועוד: ראינו שעיקרי ימי הגזירות בשנות מאות שעברו בצרפת ואשכנז הוו בימים אלו, כמבואר מהפיוטים שעשו קדמונינו על שבתות אלו שבין...

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Another’s Gashmiyus is my Ruchnius

יענעמס גשמיות איז בא מיר רוחניות. Another’s physical needs/wants are for me, spiritual. I first heard this sentiment from R’ Shaul Margoliszt”l, the Chassidishe rav of the shul of my childhood, The Lubavitcher Rebbezt”l describes it as an old Chassidic saying (Igros vol. 13, 27 Iyyar 5716). I think the earliest source is Rav Yisrael Salanter, as quoted in the...

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In the Name of the One Who Said It

(I think this will be the last post in this series on ge’ulah.) גדולה תורה יותר מן הכהונה ומן המלכות, שהמלכות נקנית בשלשים מעלות, והכהונה בעשרים וארבע, והתורה נקנית בארבעים ושמונה דברים, ואלו הן:… והאומר דבר בשם אומרו. הא למדת: כל האומר דבר בשם אומרו מביא גאולה לעולם, שנאמר “ותאמר אסתר למלך בשם מרדכי.” Torah is greater than the priesthood...

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Ben Shishim leZiqnah

I found I couldn’t let the day go without comment, so here are two old posts of mine written originally for other fora on the subject of the meaning of Zionism. R’ Aharon Soloveitchikzt”l gave the following parable, to explain his position on the sanctity of “secular” Zionism. During WWII, a family raised just enough money to get one son...

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Ge’ulah and Accepting Hashem as King

(Significantly expanded May 6th.) When someone hears bad news, such as a death, the gemara (Pesachim 50a) tells them to say the berakhah of “Dayan haEmes“. This phrase is often translated “the True Judge” as though it were a noun-adjective pair. But that would have a hei hayedi’ah (a leading “ha-” prefix meaning “the”) on both words. If “emes” were...

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Ge’ulah and the Halachic Process

Last week I drew the conclusion from the Qetzos haChoshen that Torah is not Truth, it — combined with the Jewish People — is the process by which “Truth will bloom from the earth”. As I wrote then: One wonders if this is related to the Maharal’s explanation of machloqes (disputes in halakhah). In an earlier entry, I described his...

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Defining Ge’ulah

R. Shimon said: When the Holy One, blessed be He [– HQBH], came to create Adam, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups and parties. Some said, “Let him be created,” while others urged, “Let him not be created.” Thus it is written, ” חֶֽסֶד־וֶאֱמֶ֥ת נִפְגָּ֑שׁוּ, צֶ֖דֶק וְשָׁל֣וֹם נָשָֽׁקוּ׃ — Love and Truth fought together, Righteousness and Peace kissed each...

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Sipur

There are three words for counting that factor prominently in the Torah. Parashas Pequdei gets its name from Moshe Rabbeinu’s accounting of all the material collected for the mishkan. The root \פקד\ has three meanings altogether: To count out inventory To remember, “veHashem padas es Sarah ka’asher amar — and Hashem remembered Sarah [so that she could conceive Yitzchaq, as...

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Hagaddah

A couple of years ago I collected some of my own thoughts and others from around the web into a commentary on the Haggadah shel Pesach. I took special care to give the seider a definite structure, as in this blog entry, in accordance with the meaning of the word seider, order. Blogged Divrei Torah about Pesach are all available...

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Tam, what does he say?

The text of our Haggadah for identifying the third son is somewhat ambiguous. The word “tam” means “simple”. It could refer to someone who is simple minded. And this is the interpretation assumed in most translations of the Haggadah — “The simple son”. And then there is the frequently repeated thought on the words “At pisach lo — you shall...

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Shetir’u baTov

(10-Apr-2008: Added a significant point near the end.) The Bostoner Rebbe (of Boston) commented once on the expression “Shanah tovah umsuqah – a good and sweet new year”, which is related to the famous custom of having apple and honey on Rosh haShanah.What does “umsuqah — and sweet” add, beyond the notion of “tovah — good”? As Rabbi Aqiva often...

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Nine Qavim at the Buffet

  אמר רב כהנא, “אדם רוצה בקב שלו מתשעה קבים של חבירו.” Rav Kahanah would say, “A person desires one qav [a unit of volume; roughly 60 fl.oz.] of his own than nine qavim of his friend’s.” -Bava Metzi’ah 38a Rav Kahanah’s truism is an aspect of human nature that reflects our being in the “image” of G-d. The Ramchal...

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Purim and Permanence

One of the questions that have pried on my conscience is exactly how we managed to let life return to normal in the past 6 years. 9/11 was supposed to make everything different, but no longer to we see all that much of the friendliness and helpfulness that was our culture for those first months. And now, just two weeks...

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Tziduq haDin

Tziduk Hadin Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Yated Ne’eman March 13, 2008 Yerushalayim in shock Numb with grief Frozen hearts Disbelief In the heart of Yerushalayim A yeshiva under attack Unarmed students Shot in the back Rifle blazing No escape Vicious death trap Savage hate Gunfire roaring Young men falling Massacred No escape On Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheini. Yeshiva bochurim Close to...

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The Efficacy of Prayer

Last Thursday morning, hours before the attack at Mercaz haRav, there was a tefillah rally at the kotel featuring a number of well known rabbis. On Avodah, R’ Eli Turkel repeated this provocative question: My wife spoke this morning with a former terrorist victim (lost husband and 2 sons). She asked my wife that thursday morning there was a public...

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Vera’isa es Achorai

After the Golden Calf, Moshe asks Hashem if he could see His “Face”. Hashem then said, ‘I have a special place where you can stand on the rocky mountain. When My glory passes by, I will place you in a crevice in the mountain, protecting you with My power until I pass by. I will then remove My “Palms”, וְרָאִ֖יתָ...

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Mi sheBeirakh

When someone is found guilty of a crime, he may be sent to jail. But that person isn’t the only person who gets punished. His wife loses his companionship. His children lose access to their father. They and his parents are shamed. His employer loses out on an employee, and his customers on his services. The person he used to...

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The Kindness of Hashem

For many years — from before my bar mitzvah until my marriage — I had the honor to learn with Rabbi Matis Blum (who was a teen when we started) on Shabbos morning. Yesterday I had the heartwrenching experience of attending his wife’s funeral. Rebbetzen Etty Blum was 45 at the time, a mother of ten children. I just want...

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Recognizing Your Friend in the Dark

Rav Hutner, in the Pachad Yitzchaq for Purim, addresses the famous medrash (on Mishlei 9) which says that after moshiach comes, all the holidays will cease except Purim. This is derived from the verse (Esther 9:28) “the memory of Purim will never cease from among their descendants.” The notion that all the holidays in the Torah are not permanent is...