Aspaqlaria Blog

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Infinity and Thought

A little transfinite math as a prelude to the main point: Georg Cantor divided the concept of infinity into a number of subtypes. The number of integers (whole numbers) he called אo (read: alef-null). (Legend has it that he was tired of overloading meanings to Greek letters, and since he was Jewish, he chose alef.) Any infinite set that can...

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Reason and the Tripartite Soul

This post will draw from ideas found in two earlier ones. So, I’ll open with a repetition of some points. Reason (from Ru’ach Memalela): By my own experience, conscious thought happens two ways: the internal monologue we call a “stream of consciousness”, and by setting up thought-experiments to run through. For example, there are two ways to think through the...

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35

61 years ago today, 5 Shevat 5708 (Jan 16, 1948), 35 Hebrew University students set out to the besieged settlers of Gush Etzion. A previous convoy had been attacked a month before, and the settlers of Ramat Rachel themselves were attacked twice in the previous week. So, at an age when most of us don’t have bigger worries than keeping...

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You only have 15 seconds…

From mopocket.com: GET A TEXT MESSAGE EVERY TIME ISRAEL IS FIRED UPON January 6th, 2009 by Justin Oberman As the conflict in the Middle East continues rockets fired by Hamas continue to fall into the Israeli city of Sederot where countless of innocent victims have 15 seconds to find shelter and or find their children and loved ones. Mobile Technology...

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The Pursuit of Happiness

Rabbi Noah Weinberger of Aish haTorah, in the summary of his 48 Ways to Wisdom (an elaboration of the 48 steps to acquiring Torah listed in Avos, beraisa 6:6) on aish.com, writes: Did you ever begin a stimulating physical activity and then discover you somehow can’t extricate yourself? You pick up a bag of potato chips, and start eating two,...

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Sheloshah Pish’ai Azah

(This pasuq is making the rounds on the web. I believe original credit for pointing it out goes to R’ Shmuel Rosenberg, a sofer in Tzefat.) כֹּ֚ה אָמַ֣ר יְ-הוָ֔ה עַל־שְׁלֹשָׁה֙ פִּשְׁעֵ֣י עַזָּ֔ה וְעַל־אַרְבָּעָ֖ה לֹ֣א אֲשִׁיבֶ֑נּוּ עַל־הַגְלוֹתָ֛ם גָּל֥וּת שְׁלֵמָ֖ה לְהַסְגִּ֥יר לֶאֱדֽוֹם׃ וְשִׁלַּ֥חְתִּי אֵ֖שׁ בְּחוֹמַ֣ת עַזָּ֑ה וְאָכְלָ֖ה אַרְמְנֹתֶֽיהָ׃ וְהִכְרַתִּ֤י יוֹשֵׁב֙ מֵֽאַשְׁדּ֔וֹד וְתוֹמֵ֥ךְ שֵׁ֖בֶט מֵֽאַשְׁקְל֑וֹן וַהֲשִׁיב֨וֹתִי יָדִ֜י עַל־עֶקְר֗וֹן וְאָֽבְדוּ֙ שְׁאֵרִ֣ית פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים אָמַ֖ר אֲ-דֹנָ֥י...

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Kehunah and Unity

Back on Chanukah I wrote: Chomos migdalei, the walls of my citadel [mentioned in the poem “Ma’oz Tzur“], were not the mighty walls around the Temple Mount or the walls of a fortress. They were a see-through mechitzah, the realization that the Jew, as one of the Mamleches Kohanim, has a higher calling. One possible reaction to assimilation is to...

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Mi sheBeirach…

I was just sent the following list of names of wounded soldiers. These men were wounded late Monday evening, in street clashes with Hamas gunmeny”sh in northern Azza. Dvir ben Laya – seriously injured Noam ben Aliza – one leg amputated; doctors fighting to save the other Li’el Hoshea ben Miriam – serious head injury Neriya ben Rivka – serious...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...