Aspaqlaria Blog

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Something you can do to help the situation

בעון נבלות פה צרות רבות וגזירות קשות מתחדשות ובחורי שונאי ישראל מתים יתומים ואלמנות צועקין ואינן נענין שנא’ (ישעיהו ט) על כן על בחוריו לא ישמח ה’ For the sin of vulgar speech many evils and harsh decrees are made anew, and the choicest of … (euphamism ellided) Israel die, and orphans and widows cry and are not answered. As...

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Hashgachah Peratis as a level of abstraction

Say you were a chip designer, and you wanted to know why this particular trace (wire) on some particular microprocessor chip went from 0 volts to 3 volts….The answer could be given at various levels of abstraction. 1- In quantum mechanical terms: We could speak of the doped gallium arsenide that the chip is made out of, valence levels, electrons,...

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Yotzeir Or, part III

See the previous discussions of Yotzeir Or here (part I) and here (part II). This week we concluded our discussion of the berakhah of Yotzeir Or, as well as the shiur’s run until after the yamim tovim. Some highlights: The process of creation is continual, and thus the berakhah is about the end of evil more than evil itself. There...

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Yotzeir Or, part II

In this second of three parts on the berakhah of Yotzeir Or we continued our look at the problem of evil. (The shiur was given during the Three Weeks.) The previous shiur focused on tragedy, the evil that we experience. This week we look at the interplay of the sun, and what it symbolizes, and the moon, and its symbology,...

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War

I am not a political pundit, so I don’t have much to say about current events. But how can we not discuss this topic?The Hebrew for war is milchamah. The root of the word is /לחם/ (bread or food in general). The gemara notes this point in Sukkah 52a, when it , and just read the conjugation, we need to...

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Yotzeir Or, part I

(I was on vacation and so there was no shiur last week.)This week’s shiur picks up with Borkhu and the question of what makes it, or any other prayer (including at least Qaddish and Qedushuah) a davar shebiqdushah (a declaration of holiness).The majority of the shiur was dedicated to opening of the berakhah of Yotzeir Or. We discussed the structure...

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Nishmas, part II

This week’s shiur picks up from “HaKel besa’atzumos uzekha”, the point where the Chazan begins on Yamim Tovim.Some of the key topics raised: The impossibility of understanding Hashem, and the resulting consequence of tending to describe Him in conflicting dialectics. Immanence — Hashem is everywhere; Trancendence — Hashem is in shamayim. The impersonal G-d of nature, and the G-d of...

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Nishmas. part I

This week’s shiur skips to Nishmas, under the assumption that davening in shul runs too quickly for slow and careful recitation, and it would be more practical to skip to around the point where we switch Chazanim and assume a more contemplative pace.Just some of the discussed subjects: Who wrote Nishmas? The Peter connection and what it says about the...

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Birchos haTorah

This week’s shiur (audio recording) concludes a series on aspects of the soul. With Asher Yatzar we looked at man’s ability to exist in and relate to the physical world. This is followed by E-lokai Neshamah, and our connection to heaven and man’s higher calling. Now we look at the universe we hold within our heads, our ability to change...

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E-lokai Neshamah

This week’s class was on E-lokai Neshamah. Some of the topics discussed: Different opinions about why the berakhah doesn’t begin with the word “barukh” The berakhah’s possible connection to Hamapil said before going to bed or Asher Yatzar Is the berakhah primarily about waking up, or the resurrection? Who is the “me” saying “the soul which You put within me”?...

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Asher Yatzer

This week’s shiur began with a continuation of last week‘s discussion of qedushah (as in “asher qidishanu vemitzvosav”) and taharah (“al netilas yadayim”).The discussion of qedushah’s “separation for” and taharah’s “separation from” was used to flow into discussing the various vectors of human personality — with a detour into the Beis haMiqdash. (That parallel between man and miqdash actually comes...

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Al Netilas Yadayim

The audio recording (b”H, much clearer than my first attempt at recording a shiur) attached is from the “Tefillah: Beyond the Words” class, a discussion of the berakhah of “Al Netilas Yadayim“. The class starts with a discussion of berakhos in general: Various opinions of the meaning of the word “barukh”, the structure, three conceptions of how to make a...

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Modeh Ani

WARNING: Recording sound quality is poor! Attached is an audio shiur on the subject of Modeh Ani.The topics covered: The meaning of the words and problems with the naive translation Two roles for prayer Yehudah and Modeh — connectedness Hakaras haTov — thankfulness and the nature of chesed

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Roads and Cities

(This is a second angle on the same topic as my earlier Semitic Perspective post, as well as Mesukim MiDevash for parashas Behar.)Do roads exist to connect cities, or do cities exist to serve the roads? We naturally assume the former, that roads are built to allow people and goods to travel from one center to another. However, historically speaking,...

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What is Judaism?

Since Mosheh received the Torah in the Sinai, the Torah has evolved. It evolved according to the rules set out in the Torah itself, but still, halakhah has grown, courts of greater number and wisdom have overruled the precedent of inferior courts, etc… As the famous story goes (Menachos 29b): When Mosheh ascended to the Heavens, he found Haqadosh barukh...

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Rav Breuer: ‘Glatt Kosher — Glatt Yoshor’

The essay below, written by Rav Dr. Yosef Breuer, Zt”l, originally appeared in volume XI 1949/50 of the Mitteilungen. It was reproduced on pages 238 to 239 in Rav Breuer: His Life and Legacy. (With thanks to R’ Yitzchok Levine for putting the text on line.) Glatt Kosher — Glatt Yoshor The conscientious and minute observance of the laws of...

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Yahrzeit and Simchah

This Shabbos is the first yahrzeit of the children Aryeh Lev ben Avraham, a”h Noach Simcha ben Avraham, a”h Adira Emunah bat Avraham, a”h Natan Yekutiel ben Avraham, a”h You may recall the story; four children, were killed when a fire struck their home in Teaneck. Firemen were at the home a mere four hours before, but declared the house...

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Chidush and Shinui

Rabbi Yochanan ben Beroka and Rabbi Elazar ben Chisma went to Peki’in to visit their rebbe, Rabbi Yehoshua. Rabbi Yehoshua asked them to repeat something they had learned in the beis medrash since their last encounter. They answered, “We are your students, and we drink of your waters.” Rabbi Yehoshua replied, “Ee efshar leveis hamedrash belo chidush — It is...

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The Rambam on Time During Creation

I thought readers might enjoy the following sources on the Rambam on Creation. The Rambam writes: The following point now claims our attention. The account of the six days of creation contains, in reference to the creation of man, the statement: “Male and female created he them” (i. 27), and concludes with the words: “Thus the heavens and the earth...

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Rav Dessler On Reality and Perception, part II

(This post is an erratum and addendum to points made in “Rav Dessler On Reality and Perception“.)1: A correction. I wrote that in order to experience miracles, one must lift themselves into a world where moral law is more absolute than physical law. This is only partly true. Alternatively, Hashem can push the person into that world — as need...

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Rav Dessler on Reality and Perception

Time — its existence is only within our perception. Creation is far more profound than our ability to grasp and far greater than that which is represented in our physical universe. Consequently, “creation” transcends any limitations of time. The concept of something being “beyond the limitations of time” cannot be fully grasped by the human intellect. Thus when considering “beyond...

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Types of Halachic Rulings

The following taxonomy of kinds of halachic ruling was culled from the Rambam, Hilkhos Mamrim ch. 2, and includes thoughts learned at a shi’ur given by R’ Yonasan Sachs (of RIETS and the Agudath Israel of Passaic). (I posted an earlier version on soc.culture.jewish, and from there made it into the group’s FAQ. I later repeated it on Avodah, and...

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Ikkarei Emunah

The Rambam lists his ikkarim in his introduction to the chapter “Cheileq” in Tr. Sanhedrin. The mishnah states “All of Israel has a portion in the World to Come except…” The Rambam is addressing the question of who is “Yisrael” in this mishnah, which beliefs keep one from their guaranteed portion in the World to Come. (See also Hilkhos Teshuvah...

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Ma’avir al Midosav — the pragmatics

In the previous entry, I tried to discuss the importance of being ma’avir al midosav, and some various approaches to defining this critical but rarely discussed middah. Although I did link to Rav Dessler’s list of possible first-steps to fulfilling this middah, I neglected to explicitly give suggestions for building this middah that someone could actually start doing today.Here’s some...

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Ma’avir al Midosav

Whoever is “ma’avir al midosav”, ma’avirin lo, they pass over his sins for him. As it says, ‘… forgiving iniquity and remitting transgression’ (Mikha 7:18). To whom does He forgive iniquity? To the one who remits transgression.- Rosh Hashanah 17a With such a promise, we would surely be motivated to master this middah, “ma’avir al midosav”! But what exactly does...