Monday, June 22, 2020

Rischa Daraiisa-24-Spurning Dveikus -Is Diaspora Jewry making excuses for not fulfilling the Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel?

Rischa Daraiisa-24-Spurning Dveikus -Is Diaspora Jewry making excuses for not fulfilling the Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel?

Season 1Ep. 24

Rabbis Kivelevitz and Bechhofer -respond to listeners' comments and critique of Rischa Daraiisa 23 where halachic and sociological rationale was offered for not moving to Eretz Yisroel.

The conversation becomes quite heated with the Rabbis arguing over the meaning of the Ramban and Rabbeinu Chaim Kohen's positions.

Whether Rav Moshe Feinstein's defense of the Rambam's reason for not counting Yishiv Eretz Yisroel as a Mitzvah, is considered a sufficient explanation for the entrenchment of Diaspora Jewry is similarly debated.

The Rabbis agree on why Tzitzis,despite being a Mitzvah Kiyimus ,has been virtually accepted as if it is binding on all males.

Kivelevitz elaborates why a similar mindset has not taken root for living in Eretz Yisroel.

Bechhofer's insistence on a person pursuing the status of a Mashpia,and staying in the place where they are being marbitz Torah, is countered by Kivelevitz by the examples of Rav Elyashiv Zt''l and Rav Chaim Kanyevski Shlita who shunned public positions.

The pair discuss the differences and risks between youthful and older immigrants to Eretz Yisroel with scientific data indicating how risky a move at a later age can be if not buoyed by support from an institution or a healthy retirement fund.

Bechhofer puts Kivelevitz on the defensive for being evasive and equivocal in his own explanation of why he hasn't picked up stakes and headed Mizrach,at one point comparing him to former President Bill Clinton.

He further assails him for harboring over romantic delusions of grandeur for thinking that he would have written important scholarly works had he lived in Eretz Yisroel through the years.

Kivelevitz reminds his co-host how the ultimate imperatives of constant Torah study and Dveikus to God are more accessible in that environment.and how he is certain that he would have discovered kindred spirits and mivakshei daas who shared his love of honest textual analysis.

Reading from his letter to another listener,Kivelevitz states, "...despite the ugly polarization that seems to perpetuate exponentially into the social fabric of the Medinah,a strong unifying sense of shared victim hood consistently rises to the top during crisis and reveals greater bonds.....cogent Limud HaTorah will always shatter partitions and make externals irrelevant..."

Please leave us a review or email us at

To find out more about our podcasts


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Rischa Daraiisa-23-Should the Pandemic and Social Upheavals in the United States spur massive Immigration to Eretz Yisroel

Rischa Daraiisa-23-Should the Pandemic and Social Upheavals in the United States spur massive Immigration to Eretz Yisroel

After listening to this episode-please send in your opinion to whether the Rischa Team could thrive in Eretz Yisroel having a larger impact than staying in the United States.

There have been many calls for viewing the last few months as a clarion call for Mashiach.

The strident columns penned by Rabbi Chananyah Weissman calling for Jews in America to plan their evacuation from the U.S.and begin resettlement in EretzYisroel have been widely circulated.

Weissman,on the heels of the recent social unrest and protests wrote a passioned histrionic piece entitled

"Why do Orthodox Jews want to stay in America?",warning of the dismantling of the safeguards of society to the peril of the Bnei Yisroel.

(The full text can be found at Orthodox Jews against Discrimination and Racism.)

Both Rabbis Kivelevitz and Bechhofer dismiss Weissman as an extremist, and instead discuss calmly if the forced lockdowns and weakening of schools should push younger persons who are able to plan their Aliyah.

Rabbi Bechhofer succinctly reviews the Halachic opinions if one is bound to move to Eretz Yisroel,now that free immigration is offered to all Jews.

He claims persons who are engaged in important Harbatzas HaTorah and are thriving have no responsibility to forsake their life calling to merely subsist without honor in the Holy Land.

Rabbi Bechhofer asserts that both he and Kivelevitz would be considered men of mere average ability in the midst of the towering scholarship that flourishes in every corner of Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak.

Furthermore due to their eccentricities,they would never find a following or create a successful Yeshiva in the highly polarized judgmental atmosphere that permeates the country.

Kivelevitz thinks Bechhofer is selling himself short,and points out that the activities both of them are managing in America hardly qualify as crucial work on behalf of the less learned of our people.

He cites the example of many Rabbis who adopted the strict mores of dress that was expected of them in Eretz Yisroel,yet remained true to their essence.

They were capable of disseminating their unique approach in that environment to truly appreciative knowledge loving students and chaverim .

Those Rabbanim submitted to the small minded dress expectations, yet gained in self fulfillment.

Why not two sixtyish red headed fellows like themselves?

Please leave us a review or email us at

For more information on this podcast visit

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Rischa Daraiisa-22-Reprimanding and upbraiding a Racist Rabbi

Rischa Daraiisa-22-Reprimanding and upbraiding a Racist Rabbi

Season 1Ep. 22

Rabbis Kivelevitz and Bechhofer stridently condemn the opinion piece published by Rabbi Moshe Ben Chaim

in his on line magazine.

Ben Chaim's essay,which Kivelevitz deems a screed,displays great insensitivity and recycles standard condescending racist attitudes. Ideas,both Rabbis insist,that need to be stamped out and denied a public forum.

Rabbi Bechhofer describes the racist attitudes that still prevail in his home town of Monsey in the populace and in the police as part of the larger ugly prejudice in our country.

Kivelevitz believes Bechhofer hasn't gone far enough,and while condemning the violence protesters have unleashed against police and private property,cites the instructive opinion essay penned by David Remnick and the approach offered by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. when he addressed the American Psychological association In September, 1967 in understanding social unrest and vandalism.

"Urban riots", King said, “may be deplored, but . . . they are not insurrections. The rioters are not seeking to seize territory or to attain control of institutions. They are mainly intended to shock the white community. They are a distorted form of social protest.” Even looting, he insisted, is an act of catharsis, a form of “shocking” the white community “by abusing property rights.”

King quoted Victor Hugo to deepen his point: “If a soul is left in the darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

Kivelevitz goes further in calling for education beginning at the youngest age in Yeshivos to breed tolerance acceptance and love for all mankind,including teaching the role slavery played in entrenching the odious attitudes that still filter in to our interactions today with persons of color.The Charedi schools remain neglectful in planting positive attitudes towards the African American wider community in their students.

Bechhofer attempts to see the fault lines for this development in the change of emphasis Rav Yitzchack Hutner

began in the 1950's when he rejected Rav Kook's inclusive agenda in favor of the Torah-only position of the Chazon Ish.

Hutner's Chaim Berlin produced many of the most important Jewish educators of the second half of the 20th century.

These administrators worked with blinders on,Bechhofer implies,and ignored the human compassion for others the Torah emphasizes.

Kivelevitz is quite skeptical in assuming that the roots for such endemic distrust and enmity lie in such a subtle source.

He does however describe how his Yeshiva high school education was laced with vile anti African American attitudes,and he often heard degrading racial epithets in Ner Israel bandied about by the Rabbeim.

He describes his childhood in Memphis,living in a neighborhood that due to white flight had become predominantly African American.The lessons of friendship and commonality he gained from his pleasurable innocent interactions with neighbors was cemented and enhanced by his Eastern European refugee father's displays of benevolence towards the Kivelevitz's African American tenants.

The elder Kivelevitz instructed his son that they were victims who were caught in a grip of poverty and frustration.

Sadly,that harmonious attitude was drummed out of him by his immersion in the Baltimore Yeshiva.

The school's zeitgeist was rife with the residue of anger lingering from the mid 1960's when ruthless attacks were perpetrated on Yeshiva students on the Garrison Boulevard campus.

The Rabbis make a pitch to share the ideals espoused in the Facebook group Bechhofer formed

Orthodox Jews against Discrimination and Racism.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Beautiful Drosho by Rabbi Schaffel on Current Events

Parshas Nasso - 5780

Delivered by:

Rabbi Gershon Eliezer HaKohen Schaffel

Young Israel of Skokie

What an amazing week it has been. Just when we thought that we could see the light at the end of the tunnel and life would return to normal, we now face riots and chaos in our cities. I would like to share some thoughts about the current state of affairs. Not to enter into a political discussion but a discussion about our perspectives and a possible angle for us to consider. Before we get to that topic, let us begin with a thought from the parsha.

Chazal take note of the juxtaposition of two seemingly unrelated topics in this week’s parsha. The first topic is the sotah. A sotah is a married woman who was warned against going into seclusion with another man and she violated that warning so that we now have strong reason to suspect her of infidelity. In order to demonstrate her innocence and restore shalom bayis, she must drink the bitter waters. The next topic is the parsha of the nazir. The nazir is an individual who vows to refrain from consuming grape products, cutting his hair and having contact with a corpse. The nazir could vow to observe these restrictions for a month or longer. Following a successful term of nezirus the nazir cuts his hair, offers some korbanos and resumes normal life again.

Taking note that these two topics do not seem related, Chazal (Sotah 2a) wonder why, in fact, did the Torah place them next to one another. They answer that שכל הרואה סוטה בקלקולה – anyone who witnesses the disgrace of a sotah, יזיר עצמו מן היין – he will take a vow of nezirus and refrain from wine, שהוא מביא לידי ניאוף – because wine leads to promiscuity. In other words, the reason why the parsha of nazir is not presented in the general parsha of nedarim is that a vow of nezirus is the appropriate response to seeing a disgraced sotah. One who is present when the sotah is brought into the bais hamikdash and is witness to the humiliation and disgrace that she must endure, must reflect and internalize the event. That contemplation and consideration must lead someone to commit to improve and change something about their lives with the goal of assuring that he will not allow himself to fall into a similar compromised position where he is suspected or perhaps commits some serious transgression.

This principle, that we must reflect on the events of our lives and use it as a springboard for growth, isn’t limited to one who sees a sotah in her disgrace. As believers of Divine Providence, we believe that Hashem orchestrates the events of our lives so that we see or experience specific things that will help us actualize our potential. Nothing happens in our lives that is mere coincidence or irrelevant. Everything is purposeful and planned. Our job is to reflect on our experiences so that we can grow from those events. This is the lesson the Torah teaches by juxtaposing the parsha of sotah and nazir.

The events of this week cannot pass over us like a wave without taking pause to think about a lesson or a thought that we can take in our personal journeys. There is a basic principle of halacha called kavod habriyos. Commonly, kavod habriyos is translated as human dignity. It is rooted in the belief that each person deserves honor and respect, simply by virtue of being a human being. Every person was created b’tzelem Elokim in the image of Hashem. It is not a status or privilege that one must earn or work to achieve. It is something that we are endowed with by our very existence. The principle of kavod habriyos is so essential that it can, at times, override Rabbinic prohibitions. This means that in terms of the hierarchy of halacha, maintaining and supporting human dignity, kavod habriyos, is a higher, more weighty principle than a Rabbinic prohibition. Another value that potentially suspends Rabbinic prohibitions is pain and illness. When one is in severe pain or suffering from an illness, there are times that the Rabbinic prohibition is pushed aside so that the patient can seek relief from their pain or illness. Maintaining human dignity, honoring the tzelem Elokim that each human being is endowed with is on par with, if not greater than, the consideration that is given to someone who is ill or in pain. The reason for this is obvious. To disrespect or disregard someone’s tzelem Elokim undermines the very essence of their existence, as endowed by Hashem. It is a rejection of Hashem’s efforts and that is a terrible transgression.

How exactly we restore kavod habriyos and the tzelem Elokim to a group that feels that it has been withheld or denied to them is a question that is well beyond my paygrade and way to politically charged at the moment for me to even consider addressing. However, there are some steps that we can take. The Gemara in Berachos (17a) relates the following:

מַרְגְּלָא בְּפוּמֵּיהּ דְּאַבָּיֵּי: ... וּמַרְבֶּה שָׁלוֹם עִם אֶחָיו וְעִם קְרוֹבָיו וְעִם כָּל אָדָם וַאֲפִילּוּ עִם גּוֹי בַּשּׁוּק, כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהֵא אָהוּב לְמַעְלָה וְנֶחְמָד לְמַטָּה, וִיהֵא מְקוּבָּל עַל הַבְּרִיּוֹת.

Abaye was wont to say: One must … take steps to increase peace with one’s brethren and with one’s relatives, and with all people, even with a non-Jew in the marketplace, so that he will be loved above [in Hashem’s eyes], pleasant below [in the eyes of the people], and acceptable to all [of Hashem’s] creatures.

אָמְרוּ עָלָיו עַל רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי שֶׁלֹּא הִקְדִּימוֹ אָדָם שָׁלוֹם מֵעוֹלָם, וַאֲפִילּוּ גּוֹי בַּשּׁוּק.

They said about Rabban Yoanan ben Zakkai that no one ever preceded him in issuing a greeting, not even a non-Jew in the marketplace, [as Rabban Yoanan would always greet him first].

This gemara has a lesson for everyone. Those who regularly greet others as well as those who do not regularly greet others. For those who do not make it a habit to smile and say hello to everyone you meet, make a greater effort to do so. When you look at them, take just a moment to remind your self that within the person that you are looking at is the image of Hashem, a tzelem Elokim. There are qualities and characteristics that this person possesses that are Divine. You may not be able to discern what they are, but that is your inability to recognize them, it has nothing to do with their possession of them. For those of you who are generally friendly and regularly greet others, remind yourself before doing so that what you are doing is a mitzvah. By smiling and saying hello to someone, one is promoting peace, as Abaye was wont to say. I saw a sign this morning that said, “pray for peace and pursue justice.” Although it is true that one should pray for peace, we must also, as Abaye instructed, pursue peace. We must make a greater effort in the area of kavod habriyos and learn to recognize the tzelem Elokim with which every human being was endowed.

IY”H all of the issues that surround us, both the medical and social, should come to a peaceful resolution and we should make sure to do our part to position ourselves to become worthy of that. That includes ongoing vigilance to safeguard our health and the health of our families, as well as make a concerted effort to be מרבה שלום to promote and pursue peace with everyone who crosses our path.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Aruch HaShulchan Yomi Cycle begins on Shavuos

I have recorded shiurim of the first few days (see below).
If there is interest, I will continue. Please let me know.

Start date:  -    │ 

The AishDas Society is happy to announce
the start of a cycle of

Arukh haShulchan Yomi!

Covering Orach Chaim and the parts of Yoreh Deah relevant at home…. The halakhos of daily life from waking up in the morning to going to bed, from kashrus in the kitchen to honoring one’s parents to taharas hamishpachah to aveilus.
With the Arukh haShulchan’s analysis of how the halakhah came to be what it is.

Starting Shavuos – May 29th, 2020


(Download the calendar here, and a version of the calendar with chazarah one week later, here)

Video Shiurim and Podcast:

See the play list on YouTube. (Like and/or click the bell for alerts when new shiurim are donated to the cause!) Or, select a shiur using the menu in the upper right corner, below.

Or, if you just want audio on the go, try subscribing to the podcast version.

Printable Text:
(Assembled on demand from the Sefaria edition)

To take when traveling, of for days you just don’t have a copy on-hand:

ערוך השלחן יומי – אורח חיים

הלכות השכמת הבוקר

סימן א׳

Friday, May 29th 2020

א כתיב (משלי טו כד): ״אורח חיים למעלה למשכיל, למען סור משאול מטה״. וביאורו נראה: כי המלאכים נבראו בשני כמבואר במדרש, וכן מבואר במזמור ״ברכי נפשי״: ״המקרה במים עליותיו… עושה מלאכיו רוחות״. והבדלת המים היתה בשני, והבהמות נבראו בחמישי. והמלאכים עובדים את בוראם ואין להם יצר הרע, והבהמות יש להם יצר הרע ואין להם דעת. וממילא דלהמלאכים אינו מגיע שכר בעד עבודתם, אחרי שאין להם יצר הרע, ולבהמות לא שייך עונש אחרי שאין להם דעת.

ב ולזה ברא הקדוש ברוך הוא ביום הששי את האדם. ובראו משני הקצוות: נתן בו את הנשמה שמאירה לאדם לדעת את הבורא יתברך כמלאך, כמו שנאמר: ״כי נר ה׳ נשמת אדם״. ויצר אותו בגוף שהוא חומר עב כבהמה, לאכול ולשתות ולישן. ולזה יתעוררו מלחמות גדולות בהאדם כל ימי חייו, שהנפש הבהמי מסיתו לתאוות עולם הזה כבהמה, והנשמה הטהורה נלחמת כנגדו ומראה לו שלא לכך נברא אלא לעבוד את הבורא כמלאך. ואף הדברים הגשמיים שמוכרח לעשות כאכילה ושתייה ושינה – תהיה הכוונה כדי שיוכל לעבוד את בוראו. ועל זה נאמר: ״שויתי ה׳ לנגדי תמיד״. ולאחר מות האדם מראין לו שכל מעשיו נכתבין בספר, וחותם יד האדם בו. ואם הלך בדרך התורה והמצוה – נוחל גן עדן שהוא תענוג בלתי גבול ובלתי המשך זמן. ועליהם נאמר: ״ירויון מדשן ביתך, ונחל עדניך תשקם; כי עמך מקור חיים, באורך נראה אור״. ואם חס ושלום להיפך – יורש גיהנם, שכל יסורי עולם הזה כאין נגדו. ועליהם נאמר: ״ויצאו וראו בפגרי האנשים הפושעים בי, כי תולעתם לא תמות ואשם לא תכבה, והיו דראון לכל בשר״. ושבעה שמות יש לגיהנם, ואלו הן: ״שאול״, ו״אבדון״, ו״באר שחת״, ו״באר שאון״, ו״טיט היון״, ו״צלמות״, ו״ארץ התחתית״ (ערובין יט א). וכל המתפתה ביצרו נופל שם, ולכן נקרא גם ״תפתה״, כדכתיב: ״כי ערוך מאתמול תפתה״ (שם).

ג וזהו שאמר שלמה: ״אורח חיים למעלה למשכיל, למען סור משאול מטה״. כלומר: אתה האדם המשכיל אחרי שיש לך שני דרכים, או לשאת עין ולב למעלה אל הבורא יתברך והיא דרך החיים, או להביט למטה על תאוות הבהמיות, לכן אצוה אותך שאורח החיים שלך תהיה רק למעלה, למען סור משאול מטה. כלומר: אם תביט למטה – תפול בשאול שהיא המדריגה הראשונה של הגיהנם, ומשם תפול עוד מטה מטה.

ד וכל בר דעת יש לו להבין: כמו שאם נראה מלך בשר ודם בונה בנין יקר המורכב משני הפכים, שבנה בתוכו אבנים יקרות שוהם וישפה וכל אבן יקרה, וגם מטיט ועפר, היעלה על הדעת שתכלית כוונת המלך הוא לשם הטיט והעפר? ובודאי התכלית של הבנין הם האבנים היקרות, והטיט והעפר אינם אלא לחיזוק הבנין. כמו כן מלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא, שברא את האדם מורכב מנשמה טהורה שהיא חלק אלוה ממעל, והיא תשוב אל האלהים אחרי מותו, וגם מגוף עב שהוא טיט ועפר, היעלה על הדעת שהתכלית הוא הטיט והעפר? וכל הסובר כן אינו אלא כסיל ומשוגע. וזהו שאמר עקביא בן מהללאל: הסתכל בשלושה דברים ואין אתה בא לידי עבירה: דע מאין באת, ולאן אתה הולך… כלומר: הנשמה היא חלק אלוה ממעל ותשוב למקורה. ולהיפך הגוף: מאין באת? מטיפה סרוחה. ולאן אתה הולך? למקום עפר רמה ותולעה. ובזה הבירור שהתכלית הוא הנפש האלהית. ולכן קודם כל צריך האדם לדעת יסודי תורתינו הקדושה והטהורה.

ה יסוד התורה ועמוד העבודה לידע שיש אלהים אחד יחיד ומיוחד, והוא ברא כל העולמות, והוא משגיח עליהם בכל עת ובכל רגע. ואלמלי יצוייר חס ושלום סילוק השגחתו – אף רגע היו כל העולמות חוזרים לתוהו ובוהו. וזהו שנאמר: ״שמע ישראל ה׳ אלהינו ה׳ אחד״. ונאמר: ״וידעת היום… כי ה׳ הוא האלהים בשמים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת אין עוד״. כלומר: שאין שום כוח זולתו יתברך, והוא המהוה כל העולמות, והוא המחיה את כל העולמות, והוא המקיימם. ובמתן תורה ראינו זה בחוש, כדכתיב: ״אתה הראת לדעת כי ה׳ הוא האלהים, אין עוד מלבדו״. כלומר: כי ה׳ שברא כל העולמות – הוא המשגיח והמנהיג עליהם לעד ולעולמים. ו״אלהים״ ביאורו: השגחה והנהגה, ואין שום כוח גדול או קטן זולתו יתברך.

ו את האלהים הזה אנחנו מחויבים לאהבו אהבה גמורה וחלוטה, עד שכל האהבות כמו אהבת עצמו, אהבת אשתו, אהבת בניו ובנותיו, אהבת הממון – יהיו בטלים נגד אהבתו יתברך, והמה כלא ממש. וזהו שאמר הכתוב: ״ואהבת את ה׳ אלהיך בכל לבבך, ובכל נפשך, ובכל מאדך״. והוא לשון ״מאוד״, כלומר: כל החביב עליך מאוד מאוד – תבטל נגד אהבתו יתברך. ״ובכל לבבך״ דרשו חכמינו ז״ל: בשני יצריך, ביצר הטוב וביצר הרע. כלומר: שלא תאמר שהיצר הרע כיון שמסית אותך לעבור על רצונו יתברך, אם כן איך בראו? דהאמת הוא דגם כוונת היצר הרע שלא תאבה לו ולא תשמע אליו, אלא שכך גזר עליו הבורא יתברך שיסיתך לעבור על רצונו יתברך, כדי שבבחירתך תעבוד ה׳ ולא כמוכרח. שזהו עיקר תכלית בריאת האדם, ובכוח זה גדול ממלאך כמו שכתבתי בסעיף א (וכן מבואר בזוהר).

ז ובספרי דרשו: רבי מאיר אומר: הרי הוא אומר ״ואהבת את ה׳ אלהיך בכל לבבך״ – אהבהו בכל לבבך כאברהם אבינו, שנאמר: ״אברהם אוהבי״. ואומר: ״ומצאת את לבבו נאמן לפניך״. ״ובכל נפשך״ – כיצחק שעקד עצמו על גבי המזבח. ״ובכל מאדך״ – הוי מודה לו כיעקב, כענין שנאמר: ״קטנתי מכל החסדים…״. ועוד אמרו שם: ״ואהבת…״ – אהבהו על כל הבריות כאברהם אביך, כענין שנאמר: ״ואת הנפש אשר עשו בחרן״. כלומר: כמו שאברהם מפני שהיה אוהבו בלב ונפש קרא את בני אדם להאמין באלקותו, כן תעשה אתה לאהבהו על הבריות, ולקרבן לעבודתו יתברך. עוד גרסינן בספרי: לפי שנאמר ״ואהבת״ – איני יודע כיצד אוהבין אותו? תלמוד לומר: ״והיו הדברים האלה אשר אנכי מצוך היום על לבבך״, שמתוך כך אתה מכיר את מי שאמר והיה העולם. כלומר: שעם ההתבוננות בתורה – תתיישב האהבה בלב בהכרח (חינוך).

ח וכן נצטוינו ליראה מפניו יתברך, דכתיב: ״את ה׳ אלהיך תירא״. וזה לשון הרמב״ם בספר המצות מצוה ד׳: שצונו להאמין יראתו יתעלה וליפחד ממנו. ולא נהיה ככופרים ההולכים בשרירות לבם ובקרי, אבל נירא ביראת ענשו בכל עת. וזהו אמרו: ״את ה׳ אלהיך תירא״. עד כאן לשונו. ובחיבורו הגדול ריש פרק שני מיסודי התורה כתב: והיאך היא הדרך לאהבתו ויראתו? בשעה שיתבונן האדם במעשיו ובברואיו הנפלאים הגדולים, ויראה מהן חכמתו שאין לה ערך ולא קץ – מיד הוא אוהב ומשבח ומפאר, ומתאוה תאוה גדולה לידע השם הגדול, כמו שאמר דוד: ״צמאה נפשי לאלהים לאל חי״. וכשמחשב בדברים האלו עצמן – מיד הוא נרתע לאחוריו, ויירא ויפחד, ויודע שהוא בריה קטנה שפלה אפלה, עומדת בדעת קלה מעוטה לפני תמים דעות. כמו שאמר דוד: ״כי אראה שמיך מעשה אצבעותיך, מה אנוש כי תזכרנו?״ עד כאן לשונו. ובספר המצות ביאר ״יראה פשוטה״ שהיא יראת העונש, ובכאן ביאר ״יראת הרוממות״. ועל זה שנינו בספרי: אין לך אהבה במקום יראה, ויראה במקום אהבה, אלא במידת הקדוש ברוך הוא בלבד, עיין שם. כלומר: דיראה ואהבה הם שני הפכים, אלא ביראת הרוממות שפיר יכולים שניהם להיות, דעל ידי גודל מעלת רוממותו יתברך – מתיירא ממנו יראת המעלה, ואוהבו בכל לב ובכל נפש.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Hilchos Moshiach part 2

This is an enrichment class I delivered for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely. It is the second (IYH) in a series on Hilchos Moshiach, following along the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim perek 11.

Ba'al Shem Tov parts 1-2 (Chassidus and Misnagdus)

These are classes I prepared for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely. These are the third and fourth shiurim in a series on Chassidus and Misnagdus. These shiurim are the first two on the Ba'al Shem Tov. The handouts mentioned are at

Shabtai Tzvi parts 1-2 (Chassidus and Misnagdus)

These are classes that I prepared for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely. These are the first classes (in which I contributed personally - there were earlier shiurim of Tach v'Tat, but largely taken from other sources) in a series on Chassidus and Misnagdus. These shiurim deal with the antecedent phenomenon of Shabtai Tzvi.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Hilchos Moshiach part 1

This is an enrichment class I delivered for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely. It is the first (IYH) in a series on 
Hilchos Moshiach, following along the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim perek 11

Avos 5:19 Talmidav Shel Avraham, Talmidav Shel Bilam

A shiur on Avos 5:19 (the number of the mishnah varies from edition to edition):

 כָּל מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדוֹ שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים הַלָּלוּ, מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ. וּשְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים אֲחֵרִים, מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע. עַיִן טוֹבָה, וְרוּחַ נְמוּכָה, וְנֶפֶשׁ שְׁפָלָה, מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ. עַיִן רָעָה, וְרוּחַ גְּבוֹהָה, וְנֶפֶשׁ רְחָבָה, מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע. מַה בֵּין תַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ לְתַלְמִידָיו שֶׁל בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע. תַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ, אוֹכְלִין בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְנוֹחֲלִין בָּעוֹלָם הַבָּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי ח) לְהַנְחִיל אֹהֲבַי יֵשׁ, וְאֹצְרֹתֵיהֶם אֲמַלֵּא. אֲבָל תַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע יוֹרְשִׁין גֵּיהִנֹּם וְיוֹרְדִין לִבְאֵר שַׁחַת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים נה) וְאַתָּה אֱלֹהִים תּוֹרִידֵם לִבְאֵר שַׁחַת, אַנְשֵׁי דָמִים וּמִרְמָה לֹא יֶחֱצוּ יְמֵיהֶם, וַאֲנִי אֶבְטַח בָּךְ

This is an enrichment class I delivered for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely. It is the third (IYH) in a series on Pirkei Avos.


Latest Rischa Daraiisa Podcast, No. 18

Monday, May 11, 2020


I heard from Rabbi Avrohom Braun shlita that he once went to Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky zt"l to discuss an issue he had with the conduct of a certain person. Reb Yaakov responded: "Ehr iz a illui, und a illui hoht dehr recht tzu zein a mishuggener" - "He is an illui, and an illui has the right to be eccentric." (The translation is not precise, but accurate.)

They say about Rabbi Yaakov Ruderman zt"l that in Slabodka [this seems to be my mistake, and the story actually took place in Baltimore - see the comments to this post] he was wont to take long walks, immersed in thought. One day he realized he was lost, and went into a phone booth to call the yeshiva to find out the way back. His friends asked him to step outside the phone booth and tell them at what street corner he was standing. He came back and told them, "I am at the corner of Telephone and Telephone."

I highly doubt the story is true, but they don't tell it about me or you. They tell it about illuyim like Rabbi Ruderman or, say, the Rogatchover zt"l.

Reb Chaim Zimmerman zt"l is said to have said that the greatest illui in America was Reb Yaakov Safsil zt"l, the Vishker Illui, who would walk the streets of the Lower East Side looking like a shlump, muttering to himself clasping a brown paper lunch bag.

They say about Reb Chaim Kanievsky shlita, that he was once at a rabbinic conference with his father, the Steipler zt"l and other rabbonim who were discussing matters of political moment. Reb Chaim stood up and declared, "We must work to bring down Golda Meir, she is terrible." His father responded, "Sit down, she's been dead for years."

Again, I don't know if the story is true... But Reb Chaim is definitely an illui!

The stories in this week's Divrei Si'ach prove this point:

See the boxes on the bottom right and top left.

ומכאן תשובה to all those who are critical of Reb Chaim's comments during the current pandemic. Reb Chaim, as a true illui, is on a different astroplane, in an alternative universe that is כולו תורה. He is not the right person to consult about מילי דהאי עלמא. Those who did consult him were consulting him to further their own agendas.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Avos 4:21 Kinah, Ta'avah, Kavod

A shiur on Avos 4:21 (the number of the mishnah varies from edition to edition):

רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר הַקַּפָּר אוֹמֵר, הַקִּנְאָה וְהַתַּאֲוָה וְהַכָּבוֹד, מוֹצִיאִין אֶת הָאָדָם מִן הָעוֹלָם

This is an enrichment class I delivered for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely. 

It is the second (IYH) in a series on Pirkei Avos,

B'Tzalmainu K'Demusainu

This is not my idea. It is the idea of Pat J. Heil

It is very intriguing! 


...But I’m very proud of myself for having the perseverance to dig out the evidence. In Genesis 1:26 where it uses b’tsalmenu and ki-d’mutenu, most people assume that it’s the royal “we”, Gd saying in our form and likeness.


But look at Genesis 18:22, odenu omed, he was still standing, Genesis 44:14 hu odenu sham he was still there, and Genesis 43:9, eervonu for Yehudah going bail for Binyamin as far as bringing him back.


So -nu is not always “our”.  As in Genesis 1:26 naaseh is a nifal 3rd masculine singular with adam as its grammatical subject and logical object, so you have to look deeper into the context before deciding that -nu has to be 1st plural.


Turn it over and over, you never come to the end of it.


Yes, I have documented these citations in my book.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Avos 3:12, Rabbi Yishmael Omer

A shiur on Avos 3:12 (the number of the mishnah varies from edition to edition):

 רבי ישמעאל אומר הוי קל לראש. ונוח לתשחורת. והוי מקבל את כל האדם בשמחה 

This is an enrichment class I delivered for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely. 
It is the first (IYH) in a series on Pirkei Avos,

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut

This is a class I prepared for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely.
This is the lesson for April 28 and is on inyana d'yoma,

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut

Monday, April 27, 2020

Halachos and Hashkofos of Sheker part 1

A Toras Dovid (formerly Ohr Somayach) shiur. 

First (IYH) in a series on Sheker 

following the sefer Emes Knei
by Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Silver

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Spanish American War (and the Jews) part 2

This is a class I prepared for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely. This is the lesson for April 21 and is the second in a projected series on "The Spanish American War (and the Jews)." It focuses on the American Imperialism and Jewish patriotism.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Spanish American War (and the Jews) part 1

This is a class I prepared for the YBH students who are currently learning remotely. 

This is the lesson for April 20 and is the first in a projected series on 

"The Spanish American War (and the Jews)" 

It focuses on the outbreak of the war and Jewish involvement in the American navy and army.