Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The OK's Guidelines for Checking Strawberries

1. Cut off green stem and leaves.

2. Wash, soak and rub each strawberry in soap or veggie was solution for three minutes (maximum 25 strawberries at a time).

3. Dump out the water, rinse the strawberries.

4. Wash, soak and rub the strawberries once more for three minutes.

5. Rinse the strawberries, eat and anjoy.

Please note: Strawberries with holes should not be used.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vayeshev: Shalvah

At the beginning of Parashas Vayeshev, Rashi cites a Medrash:
 
עוד נדרש בו וישב ביקש יעקב לישב בשלוה קפץ עליו רוגזו של יוסף צדיקים מבקשים לישב בשלוה אומר הקב"ה לא דיין לצדיקים מה שמתוקן להם לעוה"ב אלא שמבקשים לישב בשלוה בעוה"ז:
 
It was further expounded concerning it, And [Yaakov] resided, Yaakov sought to reside in tranquility; there sprang upon him the irritation of Yosef. The righteous seek to reside in tranquility. Says Hashem: “It does not suffice for the righteous that which is prepared for them for the World to Come, yet they seek to reside in tranquility in this world!?”
 
The Midrash Rabba (84:3) itself reads somewhat differently:
 
א"ר אחא בשעה שהצדיקים יושבים בשלוה ומבקשים לישב בשלוה בעולם הזה השטן בא ומקטרג אמר לא דיין שהוא מתוקן להם לעולם הבא אלא שהם מבקשים לישב בשלוה בעולם הזה תדע לך שהוא כן יעקב אבינו ע"י שבקש לישב בשלוה בעוה"ז נזדווג לו שטנו של יוסף...
 
R’ Acha said: At times at which the righteous reside in tranquility and seek to reside in tranquility in this world, the Satan comes and prosecutes, and says: “It does not suffice that which is prepared for them in the World to Come, yet they seek to reside in tranquility in this world!?” You should know that this is the case: Yaakov Avinu, by his seeking to reside in tranquility in this world, was met by the vicissitude of Yosef...
 
Several questions arise upon comparing the language of Rashi with the language of the Medrash. Among them, one may ask:
 
1. What does the Medrash mean when it, a seemingly redundant manner, writes: “...the righteous reside in tranquility and seek to reside in tranquility...?”
 
2. How does a statement that is attributed by the Medrash to the Satan come, in Rashi, to be attributed to Hashem?
 
(See Shem MeShmuel 5672 for his resolutions of these issues.)
 
Perhaps we can resolve the first issue by “going Brisker:” There are tzvei dinim in tranquility: Inner tranquility and outer tranquility. The former trait is the characteristic of hishtavus. This is how it is described by the Ba’al Shem Tov in Tzavo’as HaRivash:
 
ב. שויתי ה' לנגדי תמיד, שויתי לשון השתוות, בכל דבר המאורע הכל שוה אצלו בין בענין שמשבחין אותו בני אדם או מבזין אותו וכן בכל שאר דברים וכן בכל האכילות בין שאוכל מעדנים בין שאוכל שאר דברים הכל ישוה בעיניו כיון שהוסר היצה"ר ממנו מכל וכל, וכל דבר שיארע לו יאמר הלא זה מאתו יתברך ואם בעיניך הגון וכו' וכל כוונתו לשם שמים אבל מצד עצמו אין חילוק וזה מדרגה גדולה מאד:
 
י. כלל גדול, השתוות פי' שיהיה שוה אצלו, אם ישבחוהו ב"א או יגנוהו הוא דבר גדול מאוד וכן יהיה שוה אצלו אם יחזיקוהו, לחסרון ידיעה או ליודע בכל התורה כולה ודבר הגורם לזה הוא הדביקות בהבורא תדיר שמחמת טרדות הדבקות אין לו פנאי לחשוב בדברים אלו שטרוד תמיד לדבק עצמו למעלה בו יתברך:
 
I constantly placed [ שויתי ] Hashem opposite me. “Constantly placed” is the language of equanimity. In any matter that occurs, everything is equal concerning him - whether it is a matter in which people praise him or degrade him, and so too other matters. And so too everything he eats, whether he eats delicacies or eats other foods, everything will be equal in his eyes — since he has completely eradicated the yetzer ho’ra from himself. And upon anything that befalls him he shouls say: “Is this not from Hashem, may He be blessed? And if in Your eyes it is proper...” And all his intent should be for the sake of Heaven - but as for him, it makes no difference. And this is a very high level.
 
A great principle is equanimity, meaning that everything concerning him is equal, whether people praise him or denigrate him. This is a very great state. And it should also be equal to him whether people perceive him to be bereft of knowledge or knowledgable of the entire Torah. And the state that leads to this is the constant state of connection [ דביקות ] to the Creator — to the extent that as a result of the “distraction” of dveykus he has no time to think about these [other] matters — for he is constantly focused on connecting himself On High, to Him, may He be blessed.
 
Through all his trials and tribulations, Yaakov Avinu had approached his difficulties with the sang-froid that is essential for true tzidkus. That “inner tranquility” is the tranquility in which tzaddikim already reside. Here, Yaakov sought to also enjoy the “outer tranquility,” of a calm and placid existence in this world. The Medrash notes that Hashem created an angel whose specific purpose is to disturb such outer tranquility and challenge the equanimity of tzaddikim. That angel is the Satan, and therefore it is the Satan who states (“prosecutes”) that outer tranquility is not the destiny of the tzaddik in this world.
 
Rashi, however, only mentions tranquility once. It seems, then, that Rashi is discussion only one type of shalvah. As reason dictates that it would be the more significant type of shalvah, it would seem that according to Rashi, Yaakov sought inner tranquility — and the turmoil of Yosef impeded his accomplishment of that level of equanimity (as was, in fact, the case — seeing that Yaakov was in mourning all the years that Yosef was missing). This kind of challenge does not come from the Satan — he can only attack the outer tranquility of a person (as he does so completely in Sefer Iyov). Hashem Himself, however, will undertake to provoke inner turmoil within a tzaddik. When that is the case, it is not called, as in the Medrash, שטנו של יוסף , but, as in Rashi, רוגזו של יוסף .1 Sometimes the purpose of Creation — in this case, the saga of Yosef — requires a tzaddik to suffer inner turmoil as a corollary of the master plan. It was this inner turmoil, for the ultimate good that would emerge from it, that Hashem Himself decreed here for Yaakov.
 
 

1. See Pri Tzaddik, Chanukah #17:
איתא בספר יצירה המליך אות ע' ברוגז כו', גדי בעולם וטבת בשנה וכבד בנפש כו', ואיתא ברעיא מהימנא (זח"ג רלד א) דכבד איהו דרגא דעשו הוא כניש כל דמין כו', ולהבין הענין הלא כל האיברים המה כדוגמא דלעילא כמו שנאמר נעשה אדם בצלמנו וגו', ואיך שייך הכבד שהוא עשו מדת הכעס בשורש הקדושה, אמנם יש לומר שבאמת יש ב' ענינים ברוגז. ענין הרוגז של כעס הוא דרגא דעשו שהוא הפסולת דגבורה דיצחק שבקדושה. ויש רוגז בקדושה שנקרא פחד יצחק, והיינו היראה והפחד מהשם יתברך לבל יעבור רצונו יתברך וכמו כן נמצא בכתוב לשון רוגז על ב' אופנים על ענין כעס וגם על לשון פחד כעין מה שנאמר שמעו עמים ירגזון, והיינו שהיה להם פחד ומורא ועל דרך זה אמרו (ברכות ה.) לעולם ירגיז אדם יצר טוב על יצר הרע שנאמר רגזו ואל תחטאו. והיינו רגזו של יוסף שנאמר בו את האלהים אני ירא שכדי להתגבר על היצר הרע נצרך להתלבש ברוגז ופחד ביראת ה'. ואמרו (בבראשית רבה) על פסוק וישב יעקב שביקש יעקב לישב בשלוה קפץ עליו רגזו של יוסף והוא כמו שאמרו (תענית טו.) לא הכל כו', צדיקים לאורה וישרים לשמחה, היינו מי שכבר לבו ישר ואין לו שום נטייה להרע יוכל להיות תמיד בשמחה אמנם הצדיק שהוא מי שיש לו עוד מלחמות ואין לבו מבורר עוד אין לו שמחה עדיין מפני שנצרך להתלבש ברוגז ויראת ה' ורק נשלח לו הארה מן השמים שהוא דבוק להקדושה. ויעקב אבינו ע"ה שהיה לבו מבורר שלא היה לו שום נגיעה ליצר הרע ביקש לישב בשלוה בעולם הזה להתענג מהקדושה וקפץ עליו רגזו של יוסף. שהראו לו מן השמים שעוד נצרך בירור בזרעו שכל זמן שהאדם בחיים יש לו עוד עסק שנצרך להתלבש ביראה ובחינת הרוגז שבקדושה. וזה ענין החודש הזה שנברא ברוגז וכבד בנפש...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Downloading: An Essay for the MTA Academy News

This issue's ethical dilemma is:
“Downloading from LimeWire. You're not paying, but you're not taking anything tangible. Is this kosher?”
Technical note - LimeWire is a "P2P" or peer-to-peer networking service, in which users upload anything - movies, music, games, software - and can be downloaded, for free, by virtually anyone.

In my experience whenever I hold a Q&A session with a group of teens or college students, the question of downloading music, etc., is one of the first questions that will be raised. Moreover, even boys and men who in other issues are meticulous in their quest to act lifnim me'shuras ha'din (beyond the letter of the law), when it comes to this issue, they very much want to know the minimalist Halachic position – i.e., how much they can “get away with” and still technically be within the bounds of Jewish law.

Accordingly, let me begin by stating that from an ethical perspective, it behooves a Be en Torah who aspires to rise above mere technical compliance with Halacha, to refrain from any form of downloading which is questionable. Most of us – although we may deny this when we are in rationalization mode – know very well when what we are doing falls into that gray area. If you are still unsure as to the definition of this category, by all means consult one of your Rabbeim.

Returning, however, to the question of the minimalist Halachic position in this area, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef shlita (the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef shlita) refers to the Gemara in Bava Metzia (24a-b) that discusses an object that was swept away by a tidal wave (zuto shel yam). In that case, we regard the object as a lot item whose owner has given up all hope of retrieval (l'achar yei'ush). This is the case even if the owner watching the tidal wave sweep away his possession declares and affirms that he is not giving up the hope of retrieving his object. Under the circumstances, his declaration is meaningless, as the hope of retrieval is regarded as little more than a fantasy.

Any music that is freely and widely available on the web falls into this category. Any hope that the owner may have of retaining or retrieving his intellectual property is futile and meaningless. Hence, one would be permitted to download such music for personal use.

Please note that this is not carte blanche. This logic will not permit:

  1. Uploading music to such sites.

  2. Copying from CDs or DVDs.

  3. Selling the downloaded music to others or sharing it with people who cannot access it themselves over the Internet.

  4. Downloading music from hacking sites.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cheating

"The Academy News" - the MTA student newspaper - asked me to answer the following question:

"I know my friend cheated on a test. What should I do?"

I responded:

The Gemara (Bava Metzia 83b) relates that R' Elazar the son of R' Shimon, was authorized by the government to arrest thieves. The Gemara then records that R' Yehoshua ben Korchah criticized him, writing to him: “Vinegar son of wine!” [I.e., the bad son of a good father (Rashi). R' Elazar's father was the great R' Shimon bar Yochai.] How long will you hand over the people of our God to their execution!?”

R' Elazar the son of R' Shimon wrote back to R’ Yehoshua ben Korchah: “I am ridding the vineyard of its thorns!” [I.e., I am ridding the Jewish people of its evildoers. The metaphor of a vineyard is based on a verse in Isaiah (5:7): For the vineyard of Hashem of Hosts is the house of Israel.]

To this, R' Yehoshua ben Korchah, in turn, responded: “Let the Master of the vineyard come and get rid of His thorns Himself.” [I.e., God can deal with the wicked without your assistance.]

Of course, the penalty here (death) was out of proportion to the crime (theft). Rashba and Rivash both state in their responsa (3:393 and 251, respectively) that R' Elazar the son of R' Shimon's actions were an example of the extraordinary powers a leading rabbi may exercise under extraordinary circumstances. If crime is so rampant that it threatens to cause a breakdown in society, the leading rabbis and courts are empowered to use all means necessary to repair the breach (see also Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 2). This is true all the more so when they are authorized to take such measures by the secular government. R' Elazar the son of R' Shimon held that thievery of his generation was in such a category and he thus was permitted or even obliged to turn over these Jewish thieves to their deaths at the hand of the government (cf. Ritva). On the other hand, R' Yehoshua ben Korchah presumably disputed the necessity of applying these extraordinary powers (see Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 388:9; see also Teshuvos Mishneh Halachos 9:380). Thus he condemned R' Elazar the son of R' Shimon's efforts to have these thieves killed.]

It would thus seem that a student should not take into his own hands the responsibility of alerting the “authorities” to the cheating of another student. The case may be made, however, that under certain circumstances a student may reveal to a rebbe or teacher that another student has cheated, if he does so for the purpose of the cheating student’s benefit — viz., so that the rebbe or teacher will demonstrate to him the error of his ways and help him to develop proper integrity and character (see Chafetz Chaim, Be’er Mayim Chaim 10:34).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Eid Echad Ne'eman b'Issurim

בס"ד

בענין ע"א נאמן באיסורים, גיטין ד"ב ע"ב

דוד ווייס, עם הוספות מאת בעמח"ס בגדי שש



  1. Three way machlokes in Sukkah, 34b:

משנה: רבי ישמעאל אומר שלשה הדסים ושתי ערבות לולב אחד ואתרוג אחד אפילו שנים קטומים ואחד אינו קטום רבי טרפון אומר אפילו שלשתן קטומים רבי עקיבא אומר כשם שלולב אחד ואתרוג אחד כך הדס אחד וערבה אחת: גמרא: תניא רבי ישמעאל אומר פרי עץ הדר אחד כפת תמרים אחד ענף עץ עבת שלשה ערבי נחל שתים ואפילו שנים קטומים ואחד שאינו קטום רבי טרפון אומר שלשה ואפילו שלשתן קטומים רבי עקיבא אומר כשם שלולב אחד ואתרוג אחד כך הדס אחד וערבה אחת אמר לו רבי אליעזר יכול יהא אתרוג עמהן באגודה אחת אמרת וכי נאמר פרי עץ הדר וכפת תמרים והלא לא נאמר אלא כפת ומנין שמעכבין זה את זה תלמוד לומר ולקחתם שתהא לקיחה תמה ורבי ישמעאל מה נפשך אי שלימין בעי ליבעי נמי כולהו אי לא בעי שלימין אפילו חד נמי לא אמר ביראה אמר רבי אמי חזר בו רבי ישמעאל אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל הלכה כרבי טרפון ואזדא שמואל לטעמיה דאמר להו שמואל להנהו דמזבני אסא אשוו וזבינו ואי לא דרישנא לכו כרבי טרפון מאי טעמא אילימא משום דמיקל ולידרוש להו כרבי עקיבא דמיקל טפי תלתא קטומי שכיחי חד ולא קטום לא שכיח.

  1. Shmuel threatened to paskin like R' Tarfon if the sellers didn’t lower their prices. But how could he change the halacha just because he was upset at the price? Tosfaos say it was merely a threat, but other Rishonim that take Shmuel literally.

  2. The Chelkas Yoav asks, since a rav is an eid echad, and an eid echad is not believed in a case of eeschazeik, how can a rav ever paskin against eezchasek [both l'kula and l'chumra]? The Chelkas Yoav doesn’t address Shmuel's threat, but we can apply the question here: How can Shmuel, as an eid echad go against the eezchasek that the halacha is according to R' Yishmael?

  3. There is a general, global question as to the status of an eid echad vs. rov or chazaka (discussed by the Shev Shmytsa and Shaarei Yosher).

  4. Another general, global question is what is the nature of eid echad ne’eman b’eesurim? Is it a birrur or an hanhaga (this is discussed by the Rogatchover, and the Maitchiter Illui)? If it’s a birrur, then it's mevarer the reality. It tells us what the thing actually is. If it's an hanhaga, it just tells us the law: I.e., you just rely on the eid echad to tell you what to do even though he has no impact on the ascertaining the reality.

  5. A chazaka tells us what to do when we have a safek. It doesn’t tell us what the metzius actually is, it just tells us how to conduct ourselves. It is an hanhaga. Generally speaking, rov is also an hanhaga (although a rubba d'leisa kamman can be a birrur). However, explains Reb Shimon (heard by RYGB from R' Yisroel Zev Gustman zt”l), these two hanhagos can never be relevant simultaneously: A chazaka is an hanhaga we were given to use in cases in which we have a balanced safek. A rov is an hanhaga that by definition indicates an imbalanced safek. They are thus mutually exclusive. (This is the omek ha'pshat in rov adif me'chazaka).

  6. However, explains Reb Shimon, eid echad is a birrur. I.e., the eid is believed to tell us that there is no safek! Therefore, eid echad adif over both chazaka and rov: Since the safek has been eliminated via the birrur, there is no need nor room to apply hanhagos.

  7. Now let us address eeschazeik. Eeschazeik is the equivalent of an Anan Sahadei: I.e., we are the witnesses.” An Anan Sahadei is an assumption so strong that in serves in lieu of witnesses. [A famous example is the case of a nonreligious husband and wife who had a civil ceremony, do we say that an Anan Sahadei, that we know that they want to be married, operates in lieu of eidim? (This was a big machlokes between Reb Moshe Feinstein and Rav Henkin).]



  1. In terms of birrurim, an Anan Sahadei is considered the equivalent of two witnesses. It’s therefore a superior form of birrur to an eid echad. So what does b'yado do? b'yado means, that which you assumed to be the reality, is not necessarily the case. Rav Amiel says that there's a difference between yesod u'binyan (foundation and building) vs. seeba u'mesuvav (cause and effect). An example of yesod u'binyan is the meego of, “Believe me, for if I wanted to lie I could've lied a better lie.” That’s a yesod u'binyan: If I don’t have the second lie at my disposal right now, then the concept of having a better lie does not exist. Here we apply the seeba u'mesuvav approach: if a chicken is dead, we can't schecht it again, but the fact that I could've schechted it yesterday means that I was the master of the situation. This would not work under the approach of yesod u'binyan, as in that approach if the foundation no longer exists the structure falls. But under the cause and effect approach, once the cause did exist at one point, even if it no longer does,the effect continues to be operative. Thus, since I could've schechted the chicken yesterday (the cause), I continue to be believed against eeschazek (effect).

  2. This is the meaning of b'yado: Since at some point, I possessed mastery over the status of a thing, and had the capacity to halachically manipulate it, I continue to possess the capacity to clarify to you that your Anan Sahadei was based on a mistake.

  3. How halacha works:

ירושלמי סנהדרין כ”א ע”א-ב: א"ר ינאי אילו ניתנה התורה חתוכה לא היתה לרגל עמידה. מה טעם וידבר ה' אל משה אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם הודיעני היאך היא ההלכה אמר לו אחרי רבים להטות רבו המזכין זכו רבו המחייבין חייבו כדי שתהא התורה נדרשת מ"ט פנים טמא ומ"ט פנים טהור מיניין ודגל"ו. וכן הוא אומר אמרות ה' אמרות טהורות כסף צרוף בעליל לארץ מזוקק שבעתים ואומר מישרים אהבוך.

רבנו חננאל סנהדרין ל"ו ע"א: א"ר ינאי אילו ניתנה תורה חתוכה לא היתה עמידה לרגל מאי טעמא וידבר ה' אל משה לאמר אמר לפניו רבון כל העולמים הודיעני היאך היא הלכה א"ל אחרי רבים להטות. רבו המזכים זכאי. רבו המחייבים חייב כדי שתהא התורה נדרשת מ"ט פנים טמא ומ"ט פנים טהור מנין ודגלו וכן הוא אומר אמרות ה' אמרות טהורות כסף צרוף בעליל לארץ מזוקק שבעתים ואמר מישרים אהבוך. א"ר יוחנן כל מי שאינו יודע לדון את השרץ לטמאו מאה פעמים ולטהרו מאה פעמים אינו יכול לפתוח בזכות. תלמיד ותיק היה לרבי והיה מטהר ומטמא השרץ מאה פעמים. אמרי ההוא תלמיד קטוע מטורא דסיני הוה.

ריטב"א עירובין י"ג ע"ב: שם אלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים שאלו רבני צרפת ז"ל האיך אפשר שיהו אלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים וזה אוסר וזה מתיר ותרצו כי כשעלה משה למרום לקבל התורה הראו לו על כל דבר ודבר מ"ט פנים לאיסור ומ"ט פנים להיתר ושאל להקב"ה על זה ואמר שיהא זה מסור לחכמי ישראל שבכל דור ודור ויהיה הכרעה כמותם ונכון הוא לפי הדרש ובדרך האמת יש טעם סוד בדבר.

  1. Hashem thus says that’s its up to the Chachamei HaDor of each generation to decide which logic is most applicable. [It doesn’t meant that someone from a later generation can come up with a different perspective, but he often can determine between preexisting multiple perspectives. Fore example, nobody in this generation can say the halacha is not according to the Shulcahn Aruch, but poskim today can still paskin against later poskim.] So if your rav says something, you follow what he says. Thus, halacha is effectively in “his hand” - b'yado.

  2. So in the case of Shmuel, it was b'yado, to go back to any legitimate Tannaic position. Meaning that Shmuel, as the posek of Neharda'a, who lived in first generation of Amoraim, had the capacity to choose among the three legitimate opinions. (Although he couldn't sustain his own personal opinion against the Tannaim, because Amoraim cant argue with Tana'im.)

  3. In our Gemara, Rashi evidently holds that eid echad is a birrur while Tosafos hold that eid echad is an hanhaga.

  4. In the case of a sotah, Tosafos evidently hold that eid echad is an hanhaga, while Rambam holds eid echad is a birrur. So in a case in which she drank and did not die, and then an eid echad testifies that she was mezaneh, according to Tosafos the eid echad is accepted, while according to Rambam the eid echad is rejected. For if you hold that eid echad is an hanhaga, while the water is a birrur, they do not clash, and we default to the principle that the birur of the water is only effective in the absence of an alternative manner of clarification. However, if an eid echad is also a birrur, they do clash, and we cannot simply default to relying on the eid echad. On the contrary, the water, being a miraculous procedure, would be a better birrur than eid echad. [The question is why, if she drank the water and came out alive, even according to Rambam two subsequent witnesess supersede the water. RYGB initially explained that this is because two witnesses are a better form of birrur. At the time of this writing, however, he tends to think that it is because two witnesses have tzvei dinim: both a din of birrur and a din of hanhaga that they supersede the water.]

  5. Back to our Gemara: Tosafos complain that Rashi shouldn't have thrown in terumah and schechita with other examples of eid echad, since these are cases of eeschazeik issura in which the eid echad is only believed on account of b'yado.

  6. It seems that according to Rashi in a case of eeschazek b'yado, the ne’emanus is that of eid echad; while according to Tosafos in a case of eeschazek with an eid echad, the ne’emanus is that of b'yado.

  7. Tosafos continue: How am I ever supposed to trust woman on schechting??? Tosafos extend b'yado to say that perhaps she can learn how to schecht, or can hire others. Evidently, Tosafos have to employ b'yado much more l'ma'aseh than Rashi.

  8. Rashi says eid echad is logic; you assume the food you eat at someone's house is kosher. Tosafos say we learn from a gezeiras hakasuv from a woman who was a needah. According to Maharsha, the derivation is as follows: In the case of needah there are two issues: 1. Her seeing blood; 2. Her becoming tahor. Say Tosafos: She's not eeschazek issura in terms of seeing blood because she naturally cycles back and forth in seeing and not seeing it. She is, however, eeschazek issura in terms of being tamei until she goes to a mikveh. On the other hand, it is not b'yada to stop her bleeding, while it is b'yada to go to a mikveh. We thus derive from needah both that an eid echad is accepted when lo eeschazek issura (in regard to her seeing blood) even if it is not b'yado, and that an eid echad is accepted when eeschazek issura (in regard to her becoming tahor) if it is b'yado.

  9. Review: Tosafos' point that Rashi shouldn't have thrown terumah and shechita together with other forms of eid echad is l'shitasam that this is a different type of ne'emanus derived from the second aspect of needah, as opposed to the other forms of eid echad that are derived from the first aspect of needah. Moreover, according to Tosafos, both types of eid echad are hanhagos, and are only effective because of the Gezeiros HaKasuv. Furthermore, since b'yado is the basis of the ne'emanus when eeschazek issura, it must be very much l'ma'aseh – viz., that she could've learned the halachos of schechita or hired someone.

  10. But according to Rashi, eid echad is a sevara, and the eidus is always in itself the basis of the ne'emanus. It is just that sometimes you need b'yado to eliminate eeschazek issura so that it is not a case of two witnesses (Anan Sahadei) against one. To eliminate the Anan Sahadei even a very theoretical mastery suffices, so the b'yado does not need to be as l'ma'aseh.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Simchas Torah/Bereishis Tidbits

ולכל היד החזקה ולכל המורא הגדול אשר עשה משה לעיני כל ישראל
last pasuk in the Torah, has 47 letters. Last line in the Sforno:
לעיני כל ישראל. כאמרו וירא אהרן וכל בני ישראל את משה כי קרן עור פניו וייראו מגשת אליו
eilav in gimatriya = 47.


בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ
first pasuk in the Torah, has 28 letters, see Ba'al haTurim:
ויש בפסוק בראשית כ"ח אותיות וכן ביהא שמיה רבא. וכן בפסוק וידבר אלהים את כל הדברים האלה לאמר (שמות כ, א) יש בו ז' תיבות וכ"ח אותיות. זהו שאמרו ז"ל כל העונה אמן יהא שמיה רבא בכל כחו נעשה שותף להקב"ה במעשה בראשית וכאילו קבל תורה בהר סיני. וכנגד זה אמר שלמה ז' פסוקים שיש בהם כ"ח עתים, זהו מעת ללדת עד עת שלום (קהלת ג, ב- ח). והם כנגד ז' ימי השבוע שיש בהם כ"ח עתים משתנים מבקר עד חצי היום אחד, מחצי היום עד הלילה ב', מתחלת הלילה עד חצי הלילה ג', מחצי הלילה עד הבקר ד', וכן בכל יום, הרי כ"ח עתים
First Rashi:
אמר רבי יצחק לא היה צריך להתחיל את התורה אלא מהחודש הזה לכם שהיא מצוה ראשונה שנצטוו בה ישראל ומה טעם פתח בבראשית משום (תהלים קי"א) כח מעשיו הגיד לעמו לתת להם נחלת גוים שאם יאמרו אומות העולם לישראל ליסטים אתם שכבשתם ארצות שבעה גוים הם אומרים להם כל הארץ של הקב"ה היא הוא בראה ונתנה לאשר ישר בעיניו ברצונו נתנה להם
וברצונו נטלה מהם ונתנה לנו
and, as Rashi here justifies conquest, the 28th pasuk in the Torah:
ויברך אתם אלהים ויאמר להם אלהים פרו ורבו ומלאו את הארץ וכבשה ורדו בדגת הים ובעוף השמים ובכל חיה הרמשת על הארץ

Finally, for now, first pasuk in Yehoshua:
ויהי אחרי מות משה עבד ידוד ויאמר ידוד אל יהושע בן נון משרת משה לאמר
fifty-three letters, corresponding to the 53 parashiyos of Chamishah Chumshei Torah.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sukkah q&a

Chag Sameach Rebbe, I hope you enjoy Succot and may we all be in Yerushalaim to see the Beit HaMikdash bm"b. Also, my cousin raised a question; we sepcifically sit in a succah now becasue it's nots so nice at as opposed to nissan when it is nice out. But when it rains, which is a norm for this time of year, it is a siman rah and we are patur from sitting in the succah. So why do we celebrate Succot now at the beginning fo the rainy season if we are putting orselves at risk of encountering this siman rah?


It's a good question, to which I never really paid any attention. I think that the logic is that the lack of rain is thus clearly indicative of Hashgocho, as would not be the case at another time of year.

KT, GYT!
YGB

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Spicing your cholent on Shabbos

This came up recently at our table. So I looked around a bit and found in Yesodei Yeshurun, p. 96,that the Zekan Aharon (2:21) was asked if one can pour cold soup onto hot potatoes in a keli sheni, and he wrote that the Maharshal (Shach, YD 105:5) who paskens that a davar gush is in a mevashel in a keli sheni is not oisgehalten l'ma'aseh - and especially not b'makom Oneg Shabbos. Moreover, he says, even the Maharshal only meant that it is mavli'a and maflit in Issur va'Heter, but not that it is actually mevashel, so it is not relevant to Hilchos Shabbos in any event!

Numbers and Letters on Bottlecaps

I've been wanting to see this psak for a while, and finally looked it up today. In Yalkut Yosef Hil. Shabbos vol. 2 p. 519 ROY paskens that if letters are printed on a bottlecap so that when one opens the bottle one rips the letters it is nevertheless permitted to open the cap on Shabbos! He says it is Middas Chassidus to open it prior to Shabbos, but that if one forgot to do so he may do so on Shabbos itself. His rationale (note 21) is that since he does not intend to erase the letters, even though it is a pesik reisha, since he has no hana'ah from the mechikah, and since this mocheik shelo al menas liktov is only assur me'd'Rabbanan, it is permitted. He refers to Tosafos in Shabbos 103a and Yoma 34b, to the Rashash to Kesuvos 6a, and to the Netziv, the Divrei Malkiel, and R' Yitzchok Elchonon in Be'er Yitzchok #15.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Another tidbit, from Y-mi Sotah 34a (7:8)

The Yerushalmi (according to the Ridbaz) assumes that one must make Havdalah on Shemittah! It concludes that the Havdalah of Rosh HaShanah serves as the Havdalah for Shemittah as well!

Tidbit from the Korban HaEdah to Yerushalmi Sotah 33a

The Yerushalmi states that in Yavneh, the Sanhedrin at the end of the Second Temple period asked Hashem to exempt them from the responsibility on Nistaros that Yehoshua had compelled the nation to take when they crossed the Yarden. The KhE posits that this took place when the Sanhedrin went into Galus 40 years before the Churban. Accordingly, when R' Yochanan ben Zakkai says to Vespasian: "Tein li Yavneh v'chachameha," he is referring to the Sanhedrin that had already been there for years.

Monday, August 25, 2008

An Aha! Moment

In his most recent posting at the Tradition Seforim Blog, which, as usual, is both enlightening and entertaining http://seforim.traditiononline.org/index.cfm/2008/8/12/Marc-B-Shapiro-A-Tale-of-Two-Lost-Archives, my friend Marc Shapiro writes, cryptically:

Since my book appeared I have also discovered many more letters, including a collection sent to one of the leaders of the yeshiva world (whose identity I am not at present able to divulge). In my Note on Sources, found after the preface, I mentioned that while such letters might cause me to reevaluate some of my conclusions, I was confident that the picture I presented would not be substantially altered. I was happy to see that nothing in these letters caused me to change any of my earlier thoughts.

WADR to Marc's judgment, I would like to see an impartial third party be the judge of whether and to what extent these new sources should "change any of [his] earlier thoughts"...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

On the plus side...

It's always good to get emails like this. Maybe they'll help me get in Olam HaBa!

Dear Rabbi Bechhofer
I just wanted to give you a yasher kochacha and Mazal Tov. I have just completed Seder Zraim of your Yerushlami Shiurim. It's taken me just under a year to get through the Seder. I listen to the Shiurim on my way to and from work and it has turned my many accumulated hours of being stuck in traffic into countless hours of Limmud HaTorah. Thank you for the wonderful Shiurim and the way you present the material. In addition, thanks and yasher kochacha to the people who uploaded the files to the Web sites and who recorded the Shiurim in the first place. I've now moved on to Shabbos.
May you continue to be Marbitz Torah.
A Talmid
(name deleted)
Ramat Bet Shemesh

From one of my talmidim at OS

I'm not sure I have an answer... :-(

Hello RYGB,
If you have time can you please answer a big question ?

On divisions within Judaism

It is very funny and sad, that when people's opinion differ there is what I call random categorization that happens. For some reason people have a need of labeling other people? Your a left wing and I am a right or you are Haredi and I am not, Ultra Orthodox and modern.

All what these labels and categorization do is separate and distance people to the point that each has to go to his own shul, and live in a different community, and has his own shulchan aruch.

I often wonder when 600,000 Jews received the Torah did they all started labeling each other.

Did 600,000 Jews with 600,000 opinions started separating from each other due their hashkafas. Did say you are lefty (therefore wrong) and I am righty (therefore right).

Why is there a need to label different Jews? Why does disagreeing with another Jew we feel a need to separate ourselves. Do people honestly believe that calling somebody a liberal or a modern Jew makes you go to Heaven because you are more strict on Judaism while for whatever reason you give yourselves a Heter to say Loshan Hara about a group of Jews.

Anyway a person spins it, whenever he refers to a somebody as a lefty or a modern he has a negative connotation when he uses that term. He treats them differently and speaks to them differently, and I know we all think we are tzaddikim that we have only the most holy thouhgts in mind when say this but the bottom when we label somebody, we try to distance ourself, and inferiorize them.


There is joke, 2 Jews get stranded on a island and live there for 5 years togather. One day they are discovered, and they look at the place they build. There is 1 house, 1 hospital, 1 gym, etc.. and 2 shulls, They asked why do u have 2 shuls, they respond this is the 1 I go to, and this is the 1 he goes to.

On a more serious note a very interesting thing I read on exile of Jews from Spain, that may clarify what I am saying.

The following is taken for Anti-Maimonidean demons by Jose Faur

R. Solomon Al'ami (c. 1370-1420), himself a foe of philosophical studies, described the new ministry produced in Spain:

Some of our recent sages lost their way in the wilderness! They erred[even with] the most obvious! Because they hate and are jealous of each other, and put up for sale the Torah for presents. Their goal of their curriculum is to know how to read [the Torah] meticulously and
expand their own innovations. The study of Talmud and other works [also is wanting] because they are concerned with every minute detail of the law and the diVerent views and opinions [not with its sub-stance]. They thrust aside the humility of the virtuous, temperance
and holiness. What [one rabbi] instructs the other darkens; what [one rabbi] permits the other prohibits. Through their quarrels the Law had become two! They knit [their views] on a spider's web, embarrassing themselves and exposing their wickedness: their eyes are closed and cannot see; their hearts fail to understand. They show favor [when
issuing legal decisions] of the Law, and fail to tell the people their disgrace. Because God had poured over them a spirit of foolishness and had close their eyes. This is what disgraces the Torah in the eyes of all those who see and hear [them].
R. Solomon Al'ami, Iggeret Musar, A.A. Haberman, ed. ( Jerusalem, 1946), pp.40-41

Have a good day.

Rav Elyashiv shlita serves notice...

הגרי"ש אלישיב "אין לסמוך על תשובותי בעל פה"


שמעתי מפי עדים נאמנים ששמעו מחתנו של הרב אלישיב הגאון רבי עזריאל אויערבך שאמר להרב גלבר בעל האורחות שבת שלא יכתוב בספר אורחות שבת פסקים ששמע בע"פ מהגרי"ש אלישיב בשנים האחרונות.

ר' עזריאל נימק ואמר כי הרב אלישיב אמר לו שלא לסמוך להלכה למעשה על השאלות שנשאל בשנים האחרונות בעל פה (רק מה שבכתב), וזאת בגלל שהרב אלישיב אמר לו שמשיב לשואלים מה שנראה לו מסברה (הם הרי שואלים מה נראה לי נימק) ולא מתוך ידיעה ולכן לא לסמוך על הדברים הלכה למעשה.

עם זאת ציין כי השאלות שנשאל בעל פה בשנים מוקדמות יותר ניתן לסמוך גם הלכה למעשה, מה שאין כן בשנים האחרונות בהם הגרי"ש חלש יותר.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

שקעה חמה

http://www.zemer.co.il/song.asp?id=118

The niggun used for RAEK's Shak'a Chama in its "original" (albeit this is subject to dispute, see the comments) usage for Tchernichovski's distinctly anti-religious "Ani Ma'amin." There is a Kol Isha issue with the main recording, although it is strictly speaking permissible (for me, at least), since I have no idea what the singer looks like. With the alternative recording there's much less of an issue, in any event, since it is sung by a large, mixed group.

The tune is actually pretty generically Russian folk-style. Frankly, I was always unhappy with RAEK's being so intextricably linked to this really out-of-character poem. Oh well, azoi hoht dehr Hashgocho ge'firt, v'im kabbalah he nekabbel.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Respository of many MP3 files, mostly of talks I have given at OS

Reuven Meir Caplan has graciously compiled a repository of many of the MP3 audios of the shiurim that I have given at Ohr Somayach in Monsey. He has also included many of the shiurim I have given elsewhere that are available on the web.

As of June 24, 2015, they are at http://shiurim.sumseq.com/RYGB/

Index of /RYGB

Icon  Name                    Last modified      Size  Description
[DIR] Parent Directory - [SND] 01-19-04_l'olam_vs_d..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 12M [SND] 01-22-04_Melech_def-..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 13M [SND] 03-14-04_renewal_rec..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 8.4M [SND] 05-03-04_concentrati..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 14M [SND] 05-03-04_concentrati..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 1.1M [SND] 06-28-05_RamBam-phil..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 7.3M [SND] 06-28-12_Obamacare.mp3 29-Jun-2012 00:54 15M [SND] 07-07-05_read-isnt-l..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 7.8M [SND] 07-07-05_souls-goyim..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 14M [SND] 07-08-12_17Tamuz_Tzo..> 08-Jul-2012 20:13 33M [SND] 07-14-04_yellow-pink..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 12M [SND] 07-19-12_Rav_Elyashi..> 19-Jul-2012 23:55 18M [SND] 07-26-12_Kelm_Mussar..> 27-Jul-2012 01:36 16M [SND] 08-02-12_Tu-b-Av.mp3 03-Aug-2012 00:48 17M [SND] 08-27-07_darshining-..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 9.6M [SND] 09-08-04_Chayai-ha-m..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 11M [SND] 09-17-07_Talmud-Hist..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 9.2M [SND] 09-22-04_Yushka_cenc..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 13M [SND] 10-31-04_Smichah_ori..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 8.8M [SND] 11-10-03_timelessnes..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 8.3M [SND] 11-12-03_levels_of_r..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 9.9M [SND] 11-29-04_HaShems-ess..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 9.3M [DIR] 13 Principles of Faith/ 19-Jun-2011 20:57 - [DIR] Aggadata/ 19-Jun-2011 21:05 - [DIR] Alu v'Alu/ 19-Jun-2011 21:10 - [SND] BadOrthodox-calcontr..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 13M [DIR] Careers and Torah Life/ 19-Jun-2011 21:12 - [DIR] Chabad/ 19-Jun-2011 21:17 - [SND] Drugs_rambam-on-ange..> 27-Nov-2008 23:39 29M [SND] Goyish Music.mp3 15-Jun-2008 01:21 11M [DIR] Halachic Times of Day/ 19-Jun-2011 21:25 - [SND] Hashkafah-rant_apiko..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 13M [SND] History-israel-rebbe..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 13M [DIR] Lag_bOmer/ 09-May-2012 23:50 - [SND] Levaiathon_abominabl..> 27-Nov-2008 23:39 11M [SND] Magic_real-or-no.mp3 15-Jun-2008 01:21 9.6M [SND] Magic_superstition_a..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 3.7M [DIR] Mishpatim-Justice/ 19-Jun-2011 21:28 - [DIR] Monetary_Obligations/ 25-Oct-2011 20:10 - [DIR] Mussar/ 19-Jun-2011 21:37 - [DIR] Nach_Ovadiah/ 09-May-2012 23:45 - [DIR] Nachash/ 16-Feb-2012 23:52 - [SND] Overview-shas-commen..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 12M [SND] Overview-shas-pg-com..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 13M [DIR] Pesach/ 30-Mar-2012 00:32 - [DIR] Prayer/ 25-Feb-2012 23:53 - [DIR] Purim/ 30-Mar-2012 00:29 - [DIR] Rabbeinu Gershom's D..> 19-Jun-2011 22:07 - [SND] RavDessler-giving-ta..> 27-Nov-2008 03:54 26M [DIR] Rov_and_Kavua/ 28-Jul-2011 23:59 - [DIR] Science and Torah/ 19-Jun-2011 22:14 - [DIR] Techelis/ 19-Jun-2011 22:16 - [DIR] The Nature of Sin/ 19-Jun-2011 22:31 - [DIR] Torah Scripts - Ashu..> 19-Jun-2011 22:35 - [DIR] Torah_Im_Derech_Eretz/ 15-Jun-2012 00:03 - [SND] Ways2learnGemara-uni..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 12M [DIR] Women/ 19-Jun-2011 22:42 - [SND] Zera-valatala-bad-or..> 27-Nov-2008 23:39 17M [SND] chassidim-no-learn-e..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 10M [SND] chassidus_daven-late..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 14M [SND] crazy-story-of-tryin..> 27-Nov-2008 23:39 27M [SND] devorah_bitachon.mp3 27-Nov-2008 23:38 31M [SND] evangilize-goyim_for..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 14M [SND] gan-eden_gehennum-mo..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 10M [SND] gilgulim-true-or-no_..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 12M [SND] green-book-cheat_bei..> 27-Nov-2008 23:38 29M [SND] history_shabsai-tzvi..> 27-Nov-2008 23:39 13M [SND] learn-nach-like-neva..> 27-Nov-2008 23:38 24M [SND] levaiathon_chazal-co..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 12M [SND] levels-of-holiness_k..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 8.1M [SND] lillith-demons_wasti..> 27-Nov-2008 23:39 24M [SND] maharal-no-make-gole..> 27-Nov-2008 23:38 13M [SND] manna_holy-eating_dr..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 12M [SND] misc_devora_girsa-ch..> 27-Nov-2008 23:38 28M [SND] misc_search4kula_gem..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 12M [SND] misuse-of-rambam_ola..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 12M [SND] moshiach_chutzpah_as..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 6.5M [SND] moshiach_rambam_goan..> 27-Nov-2008 23:38 7.9M [SND] mussar-vs-brisk_chab..> 27-Nov-2008 23:38 21M [SND] nach_kiruv-bad-or-go..> 27-Nov-2008 23:39 22M [SND] old-eurpoe-contraver..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 13M [SND] origins-kabbalah-zoh..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 13M [SND] paos-razer-beards_ks..> 27-Nov-2008 23:38 16M [SND] papersmicha_shulchan..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 12M [SND] pinchas-eliyahu_avra..> 27-Nov-2008 23:39 24M [SND] pre-purim_daven-drun..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 14M [SND] ramchal-keeps-gettin..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 12M [SND] reason4reform-cons_e..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 13M [SND] secular-studies_viln..> 28-Nov-2008 00:39 11M [SND] visions-angels-medip..> 27-Nov-2008 23:39 23M [SND] yoshon_chadash_hecsh..> 15-Jun-2008 01:21 13M