Author: micha

1

Mourning the Three Weeks

The point of mourning during Bein haMetzarim (“between the tragedies”, a/k/a the “Three Weeks”) is not to be miserable in-and-of itself. How many politicians and other famous people recently said “I’m sorry” only to continue their announcement in a way that implies that they mean “I’m sorry I was caught?” Now picture the criminal who is caught and actually repents...

2

Bil’am the Frummy

The Medrash Tankhuma (Balaq 1) says: … וְאִם תֹּאמַר מִפְּנֵי מָה הִשְׁרָה הַקָּבָּ”ה שְׁכִינָתוֹ עַל גּוֹי רָשָׁע? כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה פִתְחוֹן פֶּה לָאֻמּוֹת לוֹמַר, אִלּו הָיוּ לָנוּ נְבִיאִים, חָזַרְנוּ לְמוּטָב, הֶעֱמִיד לָהֶם נְבִיאִים וְהֵם פָּרְצוּ גֶדֶר הָעוֹלָם,… And if you ask: Why did the Holy One blessed be He, let his Shechinah rest upon so wicked a non-Jew? So that...

1

Day 22 – Lev Tov

The Mussar Institute is doing an omer series based on the 48 skills necessary to acquire Torah, listed in Avos 6:6. I was given the task of writing two entries — day 5, eimah (fear) and this one for day 22 — Leiv Tov (A Good Heart). Here’s the email:   Counting the Omer with Rabbi Susie Moskowitz Day 22...

0

Waiting before Prayer

כמה ישהה בין תפלה לתפלה? רב הונא ורב חסדא. חד אמר: כדי שתתחונן דעתו עליו. וחד אמר: כדי שתתחולל דעתו עליו. [Minimally,] how long must one wait between [one] prayer to [another] prayer? Rav Huna and Rav Chisda [both spoke on the subject, but we lost the record of who said which]. One said: long enough that one would be...

0

Day 5 – Eimah

The Mussar Institute is doing an omer series based on the 48 skills necessary to acquire Torah, listed in Avos 6:6. I was given the task of writing today’s — day 5, eimah (fear). My guess is because no one else wanted to touch a middah so far from the warm fuzzies. (See here for my submission for day 22...

3

Irrational Rishonim

I was kind of surprised by the reception this answer on Mi Yodeia got; the questioner didn’t even think I answered his query. Here’s the exchange: Eli asked: Are there any Rishonim who believe that God´s existence cannot be proven rationally? Here is my reply, which I was happy with, even if no one there was: It depends what you...

0

Gratitude – Natural and Learned

“If he shall offer it as a todah, a thanksgiving offering…” (Vayikra 7:1). The gemara reads, “Rabbi Yehudah said that Rav said: There are four who have to thank [Hashem] — those who go down to sea, those who traverse the desert, one who was sick and was cured, and one who was trapped in jail and was freed.” (Berachos...

0

A Lesson of Shushan Purim

Rabbi Meir Simchah haKohein from Dvinsk (1842-1926, Lithuania), in his Meshekh Chokhmah (on Shemos 12:16, s.v. “uveyom”), writes that Jews do not celebrate even the vanquishing of our enemies. As the verse in Mishlei (22:17) says, “בִּנְפֹל אויביך (אוֹיִבְךָ), אַל-תִּשְׂמָח — when your enemy falls, do not rejoice”. And this is why the verse he is explaining does not say...

0

If I’m unconscious about it should I still apologize?

user4762 asked the above question on Mi Yodeya, and I liked how my answer turned out so I’m sharing it here. Question: If I’m unconscious about it should I still apologise? Someone else points out to me that I have hurt another person by something I’ve done or said, but any of the following apply, then how should I deal...

0

Phenomenalism – Baruch sheKivanti!

The central thesis of this “Phenomenalism” category of this blog was built on two parts. The first is Rabbi Aqiva Eiger’s (RAE) explanation (shu”t, mahadura qama #136) that the ways in which uncertainty in halakhah is resolved come in two different kinds. And from that perspective we looked at testimony, migo, chazaqah demei’iqara, rov, chazaqah disvara, etc… The second part...

0

Post-Modern Orthodoxy

Modern Orthodoxy is based on an integration of Orthodoxy with life in the modern world. However, with R’ JB Soloveitchik’s passing, the movement was left without a luminary who analyzes and discusses matters of worldview. Consequently, Modern Orthodoxy’s thought is that of the mid 20th century, when Neo-Kantian and Existential answers addressed the kinds of religious questions people on the...

0

The Greatness of a Person

Bereishis 1:27: וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹקים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹקים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃ And G-d created the man in his mold; in the image of G-d He created him; male and female He created them [on the sixth day, forming Eve from Adam’s side]. In His description of the creation of humanity, Hashem tells us of our own...

1

Rising to the Test

וַיְהִ֗י אַחַר֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְהָ֣אֱלֹקִ֔ים נִסָּ֖ה אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֑ם; וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֔יו, “אַבְרָהָ֖ם!” וַיֹּ֥אמֶר, “הִנֵּֽנִי!”׃ And it was, after these events, that G-d put Abraham to the test; He said to him: “Avraham!” and he said: “Here I am!” – Bereishis 22:1 Just stop and thing about this… Hashem presents Avraham with a test, a challenge, a nisayon. Avraham does not try to...

0

Rejoicing of the Water-Drawing House

כָּל מִי שֶׁלֹּא רָאָה שִׂמְחַת בֵּית הַשּׁוֹאֵבָה – לֹא רָאָה שִׂמְחָה מִיָּמָיו! Whomever didn’t see Simchas Beis haShoeivah did not see simchah in all his days! –Mishnah Sukkah 5:1 The talmud on this mishnah then continues describing at length the singing, dancing and juggling that lasted through the night as the water was brought from the Beis haShoeivah — the...

0

Learning and Teaching

I Rav Meir Simchah haKohein miDevinskzt”l writes in the Meshekh Chokhmah on Devarim 28:61 a comment that goes to the heart of what learning Torah is about. The translation below opens with the verse in question understood as I think one would most naturally before seeing Rashi, to provide the initial assumption Rashi and the Meshakh Chokhmah draw our attention...

0

Anavah and Anvanus

The story of Qamtza and Bar Qamtza is very well known. It is introduced by Rabbi Yochanan, who asks, “’What is the meaning of the verse in Mishlei which reads, ‘Fortunate is the one who is always fearful, but the one who is hard of heart will fall to evil?’ (28:14) It was because of Qamtza and Bar Qamtza that...

0

How Tish’ah beAv will End

The last Tish’ah beAv will end with us rushing to finally get to say “Hello!” to our shul-mates the way in years past we rushed to the table in the back with the orange juice and rugelach.

0

The Interpersonal Aspect of Parah Adumah

The most fundamental difference between the kind of reasoning one finds in the Bavli with that one finds in the Yerushalmi is “vertical” vs. “horizontal”. The Bavli will drill down to get the full depth of an opinion, whereas the Yerushalmi will refuse to speculate about the implications of a position and will instead compare statements from various discussions to...

4

Sanctuary of the King, the Royal City

Rav Shelomo al-Qabetz actually addresses much of Lekha Dodi to Jerusalem: “מִקְדַּשׁ מֶלֶךְ עִיר מְלוּכָה — Sanctuary of the King, the Royal City.” “הִתְנַעֲרִי מֵעָפָר קוּמִי \ לִבְשִׁי בִּגְדֵי תִפְאַרְתֵּךְ עַמִּי — Arise, get up from the dust / dress yourself in your glorious clothes, my nation.” “כְּבוד ה’ עָלַיִךְ נִגְלָּהּ — Hashem’s Glory is revealed upon you.” “וְנִבְנְתָה עִיר...

2

There is a Person who Craves Benefiting Others

For the past three years or so, I belonged a va’ad led by haRav Naftali Kaplan shilit”a,the mashgiach and administrator of Yeshiva Netiv haDaas in Ramot. (His sons include Rav Avraham shilit”a, the Rosh Yeshiva, and Rav Nissan shilit”a, a popular maggid shiur in the Mir.) A few months after we began, the mashgiach gave out artistic cards that contained...

0

Freedom

We learn in Bereishis 46:34 וַאֲמַרְתֶּ֗ם אַנְשֵׁ֨י מִקְנֶ֜ה הָי֤וּ עֲבָדֶ֙יךָ֙ מִנְּעוּרֵ֣ינוּ וְעַד־עַ֔תָּה גַּם־אֲנַ֖חְנוּ גַּם־אֲבֹתֵ֑ינוּ בַּעֲב֗וּר תֵּשְׁבוּ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ גֹּ֔שֶׁן כִּֽי־תוֹעֲבַ֥ת מִצְרַ֖יִם כָּל־רֹ֥עֵה צֹֽאן׃ Then you shall say: Your servants have been cattle keepers from our youths until now, both we and our fathers. (Say this) so that you be settled in the land of Goshen, for the abomination of Egypt are...

0

Pesel Mikhah

From Sanhedrin 103b: תניא רבי נתן אומר מגרב לשילה ג’ מילין והיה עשן המערכה ועשן פסל מיכה מתערבין זה בזה בקשו מלאכי השרת לדוחפו אמר להן הקב”ה הניחו לו שפתו מצויה לעוברי דרכים. A beraisa: Rabbi Nasan would say: From Gerev [the town which housed the idolatrous temple of Mikhah] to Shilo [where the Mishkan was located] was 3 mil...

0

This Month Shall Be For you

In his first comment, Rashi opens his study of Chumash by repeating a medrash that asks why the Torah start with creation rather than with the first commandment to the Jewish People: הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה׃ This month [this stage of the moon (the L-rd “pointing it out” to Moses)] [Nissan] shall be to...

0

Stan Wortman a”h

I thought I should write something about my late father-in-law. In truth, I am pretty unqualified — me, a boy who grew up in the yeshiva system and never fully left the bubble, “Pop-pop” Stan Wortman, who in his heyday belonged to such biker clubs as the “Chai Riders” and “Hillel’s Angels”. Philanthropic clubs to be sure, but still… My...

6

Not Good!

וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ ה’ אֱלֹקים לֹא־ט֛וֹב הֱי֥וֹת הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדּ֑וֹ אֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לּ֥וֹ עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ Hashem Elokim said: It is not good for the man to be alone; I shall make for him a helper opposite him. – Bereishis 2:18 וַיֹּ֛אמֶר חֹתֵ֥ן מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֵלָ֑יו לֹא־טוֹב֙ הַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתָּ֖ה עֹשֶֽׂה׃ נָבֹ֣ל תִּבֹּ֔ל גַּם־אַתָּ֕ה גַּם־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִמָּ֑ךְ כִּֽי־כָבֵ֤ד מִמְּךָ֙ הַדָּבָ֔ר לֹא־תוּכַ֥ל עֲשֹׂ֖הוּ לְבַדֶּֽךָ׃ Moshe’s father-in-law said...