Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bnei Bina Yemei Shemonah

As is well known, the reference to Binah linked to eight is grounded in Bina being the eighth sefirah from the bottom up (is'arusa d'l'sata). That is because hisbonenus lifts a person above the system of sevens that represents teva regulating avodah (olam ha'asiya) to the higher realm in which avodah regulates teva (olam ha'yetzirah, see MME vol. 1). That is th level of the bechinah of "Me she'amar la'shemen v'yidlok yomar la'chometz v'yidlok," This taps into one of the standard answers to th Bais Yosef's question on the eight days - viz., the nes is megaleh that teva itself is just an expression of Ratzon Hashem.

The eighth pasuk in the Torah is the one in which the rakia' is called Shomayim (the highest realm of which is the eighth level that is represented by the Ches in the Echad of Shma). The misbonen can see Shomayim "behind" the Artziyus, thus attaining the bechinah of Yiras Shomayim.

Bina is related to Binyan, construction, as Chochmoh, knowledge, is but unconstructed raw material that is crafted into Da'as by Binah. However, in the order of sefiros from the bottom up, there is no Da'as, and Chochmoh is higher than Binah. Why? Because there is a higher Chochmoh that transcends sheer data, which is called "Koach Mah (כח מ"ה)" (see Machsheves Charutz 37b). Thus, the seder is to come from the highest of the lower seven sefiros - Chesed - through the bechinah of "Key amarti olam chesed yibaneh" - to be misbonein in the Chesed that is the bedrock of the world, and construct one's perception to the higher bechinah of Chochmoh as Koach Mah - the realization that all Creation is in the bechinah of "Nachnu Mah" - Yeish mei'ayin, so that one who is nosei eynaim to Hashem will get ezer from the bechina of Ayin (see ibid. 16b). That is why in the array of numerical values of the spelled out Shem Havayah (45, 52, 63, 72), the 52 is k'neged Olam Ha'Asiyah, while the 45 is k'neged Olam Ha'Yetzirah - the hisbonenus in Mah Rabbu Ma'asecha Hashem is the binyan by which one attains the level of Chochmah Ilo'oh and the level at which nissim transpire.*

The basic building block (literally) of Binyan is an Even, a stone. Even=53, The fifty-third pasuk in the Torah is "Vayiven es ha'tzela" - the Binyan of the Binah Yeseriah.

Tein 'chacham v'yechkam od!

ספר בני יששכר - מאמרי חדשי כסלו טבת - מאמר ג *
מה) נוסח הברכה להדליק נר חנוכה, לפי מה שכתב האריז"ל לכוין בתיבת להדלי"ק (עם הכולל) בגימ' ע"ב ס"ג מ"ה (ותיבת נ"ר הכוונה על ב"ן, וכולם בגימ' יה"י או"ר), הנה צריכין להוסיף כולל על תיבת להדליק, ולפי זה יעלה מספר תיבת להדלי"ק נ"ר חנוכ"ה בגימ' או"ר חד"ש, להורות שהוא הארה מן האור חדש אשר הש"י יאיר על ציון ב"ב, ואעפ"כ הוא חסר אחד, להורות שעדיין חסר מאתנו האור עד אשר יתגלה בציון ב"ב, והנס הזה היה לשעתה הארה מאותו האור וניתקן לדורות לקבל הארה מאותו האור לטוב לנו כל הימים, גם כל ימי משך גלותינו עד יגאלנו גאולת עולם ב"ב אמן:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Starting Early This Year, Toras Purim 5770, קרש"ת

Kuf is the nineteenth letter in the Alef Beis. It represents the shleymus of 10 in terms of Hashem's hashpa'ah towards us, vs. our imperfect 9 - כקוף בפני אדם - There are shittos that nine people in a room that look like ten constitute a minyan but it is actually a poor parody.

Reish is the twentieth letter, thus representing a full array of zeh l'umas zeh - but without a connection, Reish therefore always represents that which breaks apart or splits open.

Shin is the 21st letter - it has a connector - 10+1+10. That is represented by the middle pen-stroke. It is used by Chazal (as 300) for a number that captures the ultimate wholeness in Olam HaZeh.

Taf is the 22nd letter. This is 10+1+10+1 = the short pen-stroke on the left bottom of the Taf represents the capacity to look beyond, much as a shalem will seek to be mashpi'a.

The tikkun of this letters is the reverse order in which they form the acrostic of many piyutim. The shefa should flow from the beyond to our system, neutralize the duality, and provide an impetus for the mimic to internalize.

More to come, IY"H

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Al da vadai kabachina!

19:21 10/20/2009, Jewish News
53% of Jews and 83% of Muslims responded they were satisfied with their religious leadership.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

While I was at

I figured I would look for one of my favorite references to the ancestral birthplace, Bechhofen, and what a bunch of "cheapskates" my "forefathers" were (not direct ancestors, B"H, as we have no parnas named Chaim in our family tree!), in the Chida's Ma'agal Tov:

I had no idea I was actually in the Rivevos Efraim!...

...until I stumbled across myself tonight, courtesy of, in Chelek 4. A teshuva written to me back in '82 (or perhaps the beginning of '83)! Here it is (the pages are in reverse order, that's my fault for uploading them that way):

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Great Inyana d'Yoma Post on Chol HaMoed from RSK!

What Yekkes are doing today for fun:

Standing in front of 770, stopping Lubabvitchers and asking,

"Did you put on tefillin today?"

Moadim L'Simcha!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Erev RH Flight of Fancy: New Siman

I bought wine made in Cyprus, Yayn Kafrisin, for RH. I was thinking of the siman that it might represent - besided the obvious Kaparah.

So Reb Tzadok writes in Likutei Amarim:

[וכמו ששמעתי גם כן על קנמון תשעה כי באמת הם רק עשרה סממנים נגד עשר ספירות וארבעה שנתפרשו בכתוב צרי ציפורן חלבנה ולבונה הם נגד עמודא דאמצעיתא כתר תפארת יסוד מלכות שנגדם ארבעה לשונות שכי נדרשת (ראש השנה ג'.) אי היינו כתר שאינו יודע כלל, דלמא הוא תפארת שיש בו ספק ואינו מבורר, אלא הוא יסוד דרצה לומר דוקא כך ולא בענין אחר, ודהא הוא מלכות שנקרא זאת רצה לומר שמבורר לעין שודאי הוא כך, ולכך החלבנה נגד יסוד שהוא עקשות דוקא כך וקנמון תשעה היינו כשהעקשות נמשך מן החכמה הוא טוב והקנמון הוא המתקה לחלבנה הוא תשעה שחכמה ויסוד היינו מעילא לתתא ומתתא לעילא תשיעי וההמתקה ליסוד הוא בחכמה]

So tziporen, for which the Yayn Kafrisin was brought into the ketores making process to make more powerful, corresponds to Tiferes.

And the Be'er Mayim Chayim writes in Parashas Balak:

כי נודע אשר בחינת המלכות הנקראת כה הוא האספקלריא שאינה מאירה שאין לה אור מעצמה כי אם מה שמקבלת מהשמש. וכל הנביאים שנבאו נבואתן ממדתה כולם ראו באספקלריא שאינה מאירה. ולא כן משה רבינו ע"ה שנקרא איש אלהים בעלה דמטרוניתא וקיבל אור השמש מאספקלריא המאירה. ועל כן אמר לו לכה ארה לי פירוש כי אתה ודאי תקבל הנבואה מבחינה כ"ה אספקליא שאינה מאירה והוא בחידות ולא במראה ותוכל לאררם לי כלומר עתה בשבילי תראה להשים מחשבה לרעה בנמשל החידה ובצירוף האותיות מעין הנבואה. ואמנם זה הכל כשאין היחוד שלם בין תפארת ומלכות. ואז הענן מכסה הירח ומפסיק בינה לבין השמש ונקראת אספקלריא שאינה מאירה. אבל כשהיחוד הוא שלם בתפארת ומלכות ומקבלת אורה על נכון. אז והיה אור הלבנה כאור החמה. וגם הוא אספקלריא המאירה כמו השמש, והנבואה ממנה הוא במראה ולא בחידות:
והנה נודע שעיקר הפירוד בין השמש והירח הוא ח"ו כשהדינים גוברים בעולם ונעלה הענן לכסה הירח ואז נקרא בכסה ליום חגינו ואמרו חז"ל (ראש השנה ח'.) איזה חג שהירח מתכסה בו הוי אומר זה ראש השנה. כי ראש השנה הוא יומא דדינא והקב"ה יושב על כסא משפט לדין. וכשהדינים מתגברים אז הירח מתכסה בענן ואין מקבלת אורה מבית בעלה. אבל כשהחסדים מתגברים והדינים מתבטלים. אז נקרא והעלה אור שמשה ונסו הצללים ואורה כאור החמה. ועל כן באותן הימים שבלעם רצה לקלל שלא זעם ה' כלל ולא היה בחינת הדינים בעולם, ממילא היה היחוד בין תפארת ומלכות ולא היה נבואה אחרת כי אם נבואת אספקלריא המאירה במראה ולא בחידות. ועל כן וישם ה' דבר בפי בלעם דבר שלם ולא חצי דבר כנזכר והבן. כי בעת הפירוד חלילה נקראת המלכות חצי דבר שאין קומתה שלימה. אבל בעת היחוד קומתה שלימה מכל וכל ונקראת דבר שלם. וזה שם בפי בלעם בכדי שלא יוכל להשתנות ועל כן ויאמר שוב אל בלק וכה תדבר. כי בלק ברשעו שאמר לכה ארה וגו' שכיוון על נבואת אספקלריא שאינה מאירה אבל עתה הקהה את שיניו ואמור לו וכה תדבר. לא כה לבד כי אם וכה שהיא התחברות הו' בחינת התפארת אור השמש אל כה. ואז דבר שלם במראה ולא בחידות. כי האספקלריא שאינה מאירה, מאירה עתה מכל וכל:

So din is the disconnect between Tiferes and Malchus. That is why the tikkun of RH is the Hamlachah of HKB"H. With that isarusa d'l'sata we make an effort to make the connection.

And by drinking Yayn Kafrisin we are making a siman for a converse isarusa d'l'eila: We are asking that the middah of Tiferes be empowered, for it to extend towards us in Malchus.

We can be mosif concerning the azus (k'dei she'tehei azza). and also concerning the body of Adam lifnei ha'cheit that was made of tziporen.

אשרי אדם עז לו בך! ישמע חכם ויוסיף לקח. כוח"ט

Din Nimshach

Is it possible to say that by Rabbanan instituting the second day of RH, a ramification of its shem "yoma arichta" is tnat the judgment is continuous from sunrise of the first day until three hours into th second day? This would be helpful in explaining some Rosh Hashanah inyanimi.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Acharonim (and Mussar) as TT, Redux

Way back in the previous century, I posted the following:
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 13:03:38 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer"
Re: Just What is Talmud Torah Anway?

I would assume that it means engaging in the study of either Torah
she'b'Ksav or Torah she'b'al Peh. TSBK is easy = Tanach. TSBAP is more
tricky. I assume it definitely includes everything up to "Rav Ashi
v'Ravina sof Horo'oh" but I do not know how it extends betond that.
Nevertheless, the understanding of Talmudic texts and opinions inherent in
the study of Rishonim and Acharonim is likely TT l'kol ha'dei'os, but
what, indded, would the struggle to understand a passage in the Ktzos that
did not relate to Rishonim and Acharonim constitute? I think it still
fulfills the mitzva me'divrei kabbala of "V'higeisa ba yomam va'lyla",
i.e., to occupy oneself with thoghts that relate to Torah.
Some discussion ensued, but never achieved any finality, so far as my perusal of the archives just now discovered. Moreover, I seem not to have come up with any source to back myself up at the time.

This came up in shiur in OS last week. I again asserted that, say, Mussar bereft of pesukim and/or ma'amarei Chazal does not fall into the category of TT, strictly speaking (but that as th DE that is kadma laTorah it is of utmost importance nonetheless!). I was severely challenged on that assertion.

I did find today that in Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hil. TT 3:4 he writes that only Mussar works that are based on Chazal are considered Torah, not ones based on "Seichel Enoshi."

My question remains, however, if one were to learn an Acharon of some sort that had no pesukim and/or ma'amarei Chazal, would it in and of itself somehow be considered a "Cheftza shel Torah" or not. Any mare mekomos or ra'ayos anyone?


Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Fourth Yahrzeit of Gush Katif

Although I was for the retreat from Gush Katif, and remain convinced that it was the right thing to do, it is heart-rending to watch such expressions of pure Emunah in the face of a modern-day Churban. At the same time, it is heartening to know that there are, even in these jaded times, truly idealistic young men and women.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ma Rabbu Ma'asecha Hashem

True, some of this is pretty gross, but how anyone can see this kind of stuff and attribute it to evolution boggles the mind!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Score one for the boss! (I work p/t fpr AS)

Tisha b'Av and Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

Tisha b'Av and Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

...a disorder in which a person deliberately causes injury or illness to another person,
usually to gain attention or some other benefit. (Wikipedia)

Completely separate from the issue of whether the mother in the episode that is ongoing in Yerushalayim is obsessed by MSbP or not, is the question of the message that Hashem is trying to send us by having had this episode unfold specifically in Bein HaMetzarim.

The answer is rooted in the Cheit HaMeraglim, the “original sin” of Tisha b'Av in which all the day's later tragedies are rooted. What was the cause of that sin? As I heard many years ago from Mori v'Rabi Rabbi Shimon Zelaznik zt”l, the Zohar HaKadosh explains that, great individuals that the Nesi'im who were sent to be the Meraglim were, they were concerned that upon entering Eretz Yisroel all Jews would be holy and lofty, and their nesi'us would no longer be necessary. This negi'a led them to mistakenly conclude that it would be better – not only subjectively but even objectively – for Am Yisroel to remain outside of the Land of Israel, so as to benefit from the leadership of the Nesi'im.

Thus, the Meraglim deliberately attempted to inflict the terrible injury of the loss of Eretz Yisroel upon Am Yisroel – in order for them to retain the attentiveness of the people to their leadership and direction. In short, the Meraglim were guilty of the sin of MSbP. Rather than seek to retain their status by elevating themselves, they sought to retain their superior status by degrading others.

This is the yesod ha'yesodos of Sinas Chinam. What is the difference between your everyday, plain old Sinah and Sinas Chinam? There are people that I am entitled to hate – say, a Haman or a Hitler. But Sinas Chinam means that I hate someone who I really have no reason to hate, and who is not deserving of hate (see the Siddur Otzar HaTefillos on Al cheit she'chatanu lefanecha b'Sinas Chinam). The problem is, that this may make him my equal, and my ga'avah and kavod will not allow me to see anyone else as my equal (as my better, perhaps yes – that's a different story, but not as my equal!). So I seek to retain my superior status by degrading him. Sinas Chinam=MSbP.

Societies can self-define in two different ways: By who they are, or by who they are not. They can say: “We are different because we have a certain superior aspect;” or they can say: “We are different because they have a certain negative aspect.” At first glance, these might seem like two sides of the same coin, but they are not: When we define ourselves by what we are not, we accentuate their flaws. This approach has two pretty negative corollaries: Complacency (i.e., just by me being me I'm the greatest, so there is really no need for me to change anything, is there?) and dehumanization (i.e., those guys are such lowlifes that we obviously don't need to treat them with mentchlichkeit!). In short, societies that self-define in the latter manner are engaging in MSbP wholesale.

When frum Jews call non-frum or less-frum Jews “Erev Rav,” or “Nazis,” or “Amalek,” they are engaging in MSbP. They are defining themselves and rationalizing anything they might be doing by dehumanizing others. In fact, even if I just say: “Well they do the same thing, they're no better than us,” or charge them with maintaining a double standard (both of which may be perfectly true), I'm still guilty of MSbP: I'm not engaging in introspection to see if I'm worthy, or in and self-growth to become worthy, of attention and respect – I'm great, you've/he's got problems/issues; are anti-frum/anti-Charedi/anti-Modern Orthodox; are a self-hating Jew; are antisemitic; are a mosser.

Which leads us to the other messages that Hashem has sent us during this very unique Bein HaMetzarim:

First, the protests in Yerushalayim. Again, I am not getting into whether the protests are justified or not. But how could they have come to overturning garbage bins and setting them on fire, and to the wanton destruction of public property, etc.? Would these same people under the same circumstances have protested so violently in another country? I think we all know that the answer is, no. So why in Eretz Yisroel? MSbP. Because that segment of Orthodox Judaism has long defined itself by what it is not (“Tziyoinim,” “Mizrachistin,” etc.) and in the course of that self-definition they have succeeded in delegitimatizing and dehumanizing the State, its society, its institutions and its representatives to the point that they are unworthy of mentchlichkeit.

Second, the alleged criminal activity of the arrested Rabbonim and other Orthodox Jews. Again, I am not getting into whether they are guilty or not. Let us hope,even assume, that they are not. But in orchestrating the arrests in and of themselves, Hashem clearly intended to send yet another MSbP message. We bandy about catchphrases (usually irrelevant and misapplied!) such as Eisav sonei l'Yaakov or Atem keruyim Adam. Sometimes it's for a “worthy” cause – to caution us in regard to our public behavior, or to castigate the others' immoral behavior, etc. But this too is ultimately a manifestation of MSbP. We thus delegitimatize and dehumanize our non-Jewish neighbors (or kidney donors), which leads too often to dishonesty, fraud, racism, etc. So Hashem says to us: “Hello?! Is this what you think I meant when I told you to be a Mamleches Kohanim v'Goy Kadosh?! Do you really think this is being Ohr LaGoyim?!” So let's even stipulate that the crimes are all trumped-up charges (halevai!) – but do we seriously deny the middos problems that could lead to such crimes?

Third, the curious phenomenon of the focus on the heinous act of the moser. We have seen this focus exaggerated to such an extent that the message one might be excused for getting is that the real problem is the mesirah! It is reminiscent of the Gemara that states (not l'maskanah!): “It is not the mouse that steals, but the mousehole.” Again, let us stipulate that the moser is a rat fink of the lowest kind. But in essence, focusing on him is like saying that even if the crimes were (chas v'shalom!) committed, the real problem is that they were exposed. Is there any greater manifestation of MSbP?! Moreover, somewhat on a tangent, do we really think mesirah is such a problem amongst us that the Hashgachah made this happen to highlight that problem? And, by the way, I would like to propose a daherr: The Gemara says the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza. In calling the missing guest “Kamtza” and the moser “Bar Kamtza,” it is evident that it was the matter of Kamtza that was the primary and major cause – the “Bar” (son of) Kamtza matter was but the secondary and minor cause.

The Torah itself alludes to MSbP. (By the way, we also suffer from Munchausen Syndrome in its non-by-Proxy strain, but that's not for now. And the book “The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen” is very engaging reading, but that's certainly not for now.). The way in which Munchausen is spelled in Hebrew (מינכהאוזן) equals 189 in gematria. This is equivalent to the words לא ימצא טוב in the pasuk (Mishlei 17:20): עִקֶּשׁ לֵב לֹא יִמְצָא טוֹב וְנֶהְפָּךְ בִּלְשׁוֹנוֹ יִפּוֹל בְּרָעָה. Of course, the person afflicted with MSbP will not find good in others – on the contrary, he will seek to accentuate the bad. Thus, 189 is also equivalent to the words ילעג למו in the pasuk (Iyov 22:19): יִרְאוּ צַדִּיקִים וְיִשְׂמָחוּ וְנָקִי יִלְעַג לָמוֹ, for the quest to accentuate the bad is in order to denigrate the other as an excuse for not focusing on building oneself. Finally, the 189th pasuk in the Torah (Bereishis 8:5) is the first pasuk in Tanach to reference the 10th month – the month of Av...

All of us are guilty of MSbP in some way or another. It's impeding the Geulah. Hashem has brought it out in the most blatant ways possible. What can we do about it?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Great Inyana d'Yoma Post on Havolim

and part 2:

Ben Brafman, tzum zach!

Wow! From a Yated Columnist!

New York - The Elephant in the Room

Published on: July 29th, 2009 at 11:58 AM
News Source: VIN News By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

New York - Agudas Yisroel sponsored an event last night in Borough Park entitled, “VeAsisah HaYashar VeHaTov.” The conclusions of course were that the bottom line is that Chassidim and all Hareidi Jews should conduct their financial activities lawfully. Whether one is in business for himself, or works for someone else, or whether one is in the lofty field of AVodas HaKodesh, there is no excuse to cheat.

There is an expression known as “an elephant in the room” and clearly, even though the hall was packed there was a rather large elephant in that room. The expression means that there is an important and very obvious topic, which everyone present is thoroughly aware of, yet for some reason it is never discussed. It is too uncomfortable to discuss, and it will not be discussed.

So what is this elephant? You can see it in virtually every comment that is posted on VIN News. You can see it on the labels of packaged kosher Heimish produced food. You can see it in the demographics of bank managers in Borough Park.

One Shabbos after I bought my first house I bought a number of packaged Heimish cakes to bring home. They were fairly good tasting cakes but my wife knew that it was out of character for me to buy packaged cakes. They were labeled “Spunch Cake” and were produced by a Heimishe bakery in Borough Park.

Go into any bank in Borough Park and you will see a bizarre reality. Of all the branches of every bank in the community there is only one Hareidi bank manager. There are no Hareidi tellers. Why is that?

The answer is quite simple and is also the never discussed elephant in the room. Chassidim cannot spell. As a general rule, Chareidi English skills are notoriously deficient at best, and completely non-existent at worst.

Our secular education in Borough Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, Kiryas Joel. Lakewood and the many other Charedi communities ends at 6th or 8th grade. Sure, sure, the system allows you to study for ninth grade regents examinations, but it is always optional. Usually, study time is limited to about thirty minutes and to a time when the other boys have their supper break. What kid wants to study for regents when every single one of his friends are running around eating and generally enjoying themselves? Teachers are present to help, but no instruction is given.

Some drop out immediately. Some drop out in tenth grade. And those are the better ones.

There is a Gemorah in Kiddushin which lists the obligations a father has toward his children. There are five obligations and it is debatable whether swimming is a sixth. The list, however, should not be a list that remains stagnant. As society and technology has changed, the too have the obligations. We should be teaching our kids how to get along in life so that they will be able to earn a parnasa and serve Hashem properly. We need to get with the program and in this case it means making sure that we have decent communication and writing skills.

As the situation stands now, the socio-religious atmosphere in Chareidi circles actually discourages education. Kollel Yungeleit are discouraged from leaving Kollel and even preparing for a Parnasa until they have a family to support. At that point, who has the time or money available to get an education?

Touro College has a program called the Parnasa Institute, and it is shameful that the people behind this initiative are not treated as heroes that are addressing a real social problem – indeed, a crisis.

Even in the Litvish world, our Roshei Yeshiva are not encouraging the Kosher programs that are available to their students for those that will not be entering Klei Kodesh fields, or even to have it as a backup plan.

Those in the Chareidi world who did enter the fields of medicine, accounting, or the job force in the general corporate world did so against all odds and despite our system of education – no because of it.

Some former yungeleit are, in fact, successful. They enter businesses of their father or father-in-law. But most do not have these options. One writer wrote in and explained how right out of Kollel he obtained a job in a medium sized company where the principals were Chassidish. After a few years he was laid off due to the economic crisis. He needed another position. To his shock the only positions available due to his lack of English skills were entry-level positions.

I quote from his letter below:

“The reason why I don't stand a chance at a decent job is simply, because the education side of my resume ends after 8th grade. No company would look at a resume for any worthy position with a (sic) education that doesn't even include any high school.”

Shlomo HaMelech tells us “Soneh Matanos Yichyeh” – one who disdains gifts will live. Rav Dessler zatzal interprets this verse as a philosophical recommendation for life. Let us always be givers and never be takers.

This is, of course, excellent advice but without an education we cannot step into the general workforce. Chareidim are forced to be takers – section eight housing, food stamps, wic, school vouchers and much more. And then come the challenges of maintaining our principles of honesty and integrity.

In stressing this point, a common and typical response is, “But there are thousands of people that have made a fortune without having an education! Bill Gates never graduated college. There are plenty of millionaire businessmen, many of them Chassidim that never had an education – and they fabulously successful!”

The answer to this is that it is true. There are many millionaires that did not have an education. But it is also true that there are many, many, people that never brush their teeth and have no cavities. Dentists cannot and should not deny this. However, it is also true that overall it is a terrible mistake not to brush your teeth and it is a terrible mistake not to get an education.

The stark conclusion is that we need to retool our entire education system and we need to retool it now. Our high schools have to teach English, writing and communication skills, and math skills. They have to do it and do it well. Our parent body has to demand it. They cannot be embarrassed about demanding excellence in education, either. Perhaps they should band together in groups and approach the principals of the schools with their desires.

Our elementary schools have to destroy the atmosphere that is pervasive in many chareidi elementary schools that English classes should be derided and abused. They are the life line that will vouchsafe the future honesty and integrity of our children.

This is the undiscussed “elephant in the room” that existed in the room last night. The problems addressed in the Agudah sponsored meeting will never be resolved until and unless the underlying causes are addressed.

The dire and terrible incidents of the past week should be viewed as wake-up call. We must act and act now. Perhaps another Asifash should be called. These issues are as important as any and they are necessary to ensure that our children have the skills necessary not only to thrive but to survive.

Just like in gardening one cannot resolve a weed problem by merely cutting the weeds in the middle. They must be pulled by the roots. So too must we resolve the underlying social problem in our system. We need to value the skills of communication, reading, and writing and to realize that education is the key to the future.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another Interesing Article, Kind of an Obit on PAI

The Poalei Agudas Yisrael movement

Rav Binyomin Mintz was the founder of the Poalei Agudas Yisrael movement

Motty Meringer 07/06/2009 14:00
The Poalei Agudas Yisrael movement was founded for the purpose of addressing the needs and concerns of the chareidi worker. Whilst still based in the diaspora it fought its first battles for the rights of chareidi workers, and transplanted later to Eretz Yisrael the movement founded numerous organisations and settlements all across the country, in every location where chareidim had settled.

The ‘Poalei Agudas Yisrael’ movement (PAI) was originally founded as a branch of the Agudas Yisrael political party that was to cater specifically to the chareidi worker, but it later broke away from Agudas Yisrael and began to operate independently. Fourteen settlements in Eretz Yisrael were at one point associated with the movement.

The movement was founded in the year 5693 in the city of Lodz, Poland, with the stated objectives of encouraging chareidi business and fighting against the phenomenon of chareidim establishing business partnerships with gentiles, so that they could operate their businesses as usual on Shabbos and Yomim Tovim. Many chareidi Jews in Lodz joined the new movement, and it quickly spread to additional cities. Although the Agudas Yisrael movement was very active in protecting Jews in Poland, in general it refrained from opposing Jews who had formed partnerships with gentiles – it was in fact this point that was the source of many of the disputes between the two movements that occurred throughout the years. In the Thirties, unemployment soared among the chareidi population, as it did also among the general population, and Poalei Agudas Yisrael intensified its battles, until at one point, the disputes entered the walls of the batei knesses, and prevented the tefillos from commencing, finally, the Jewish manufacturers agreed to employ chareidi Jews in their businesses in place of their former gentile workers.

During this period, Rav Yehudah Leib Orlean hy’d, who was one of the founders of Poalei Agudas Yisrael, composed his essay ‘To the Satiated and to the Hungry’. In it, he wrote; “The phenomenon of lack of available employment and poverty is especially prevalent among chareidi workers, who are discriminated against simply due to their being chareidi. Not just non-Jewish employers, or even non-religious Jewish employers, but also even religious employers refuse to employ them in their businesses. These religious employers are simply driving away the religious workers, since they are unable to work on Shabbos, and in their place, they employ christian workers on the basis of a ‘document of sale’ [similar to the ‘Heter Mechirah’ used in Shemitta years, against which battles are still being fought today], and in this way they operate their businesses on Shabbos as during the week. Chareidi Jewry must now internalise that to conduct oneself in such a way, in which one makes a living at another’s expense, is a grave sin, and that mitzvos between one’s fellow man and oneself are beloved by the Creator no less than mitzvos between oneself and one’s Creator.” Later in his essay Rav Orlean attacked Agudas Yisrael for its lack of support of the struggle and its insufficient concern for the welfare of the workers. 

The initiator of the idea of establishing a movement was Rav Binyomin Mintz, who united the worldwide movement and was also a minister and a member of the Knesset as a representative of the party.

Rav Mintz was born and grew up in Poland where he associated himself with the Gerrer chassidus. In the year 5693, after he immigrated to Eretz Yisrael, he established, together with other activists, the Poalei Agudas Yisrael movement. When the Second World War broke out, Rav Mintz was one of the first to sound the alarm at the danger hanging over the heads of the Jews of Europe, and when the Vaad Hatzolah was founded in Eretz Yisrael he was one of its main activists.

On the twenty-fourth of Shvat 5709, following the establishment of the State of Israel, the first elections to the ‘Organised Gathering’, as it was then known, took place in the Holy Land. (Later it would be known as the Knesset haRishonah). In these elections all the religious parties competed under one banner, as the ‘United Religious’ list. The list was comprised of members of the parties of Agudas Yisrael, HaPoel HaMizrachi, Mizrachi, Poalei Agudas Yisrael and the Religious Union. This list gained sixteen seats in the Knesset, of which three were allotted to Poalei Agudas Yisrael. Their three Knesset members were Rav Avraham Yehudah Goldrot, Rav Kalman Kahane and Rav Binyomin Mintz. Rav Mintz was also appointed as chairman of the Knesset Committee of Internal Affairs.

In the elections to the second Knesset, Poalei Agudas Yisrael stood independently for election and gained two seats. In the two ensuing election campaigns, Poalei Agudas Yisrael ran together with the Agudas Yisrael party under the title of ‘the Religious Front for Torah’. In both of these elections, the list gained six seats, but during the term of the fourth Knesset, the two parties split, and each faction subsequently acted independently in the Knesset. During the fourth Knesset, Poalei Agudas Yisrael alone of the two parties decided to join the Mapai government headed by David ben Gurion, and Rav Mintz was appointed Minister of Communications. It was during his stint in this position that, on the 15th of Sivan in the year 5721, Rav Mintz was niftar. The settlement of Yad Binyomin which was established by the Poalei Agudas Yisrael movement as a central settlement for all farmers of the area of Shurak was called by this name in memory of Rav Mintz.

In the coming election campaigns, up until the eighth Knesset, Poalei Agudas Yisrael competed alone. In the elections to the eighth Knesset, another attempt was made at creating a combined Poalei Agudas Yisrael – Agudas Yisrael list, but again it ended in failure when, during the term of the eighth Knesset, the parties again split and Poalei Agudas Yisrael went its own way as an independent party. Therefore, Poalei Agudas Yisrael ran alone again in the elections to the ninth Knesset, but it only gained one seat – in the elections to the tenth Knesset, it failed to pass the threshold. In the elections to the 11th Knesset, Poalei Agudas Yisrael ran together with the Meitzad party which had been established by former members of the Mafdal, who had been disappointed with it – together they called themselves ‘Morashah’. This list gained two seats in the Knesset, but in the course of the Knesset’s term, the Meitzad representative Chaim Druckman returned to the Mafdal, and the remaining representative of Morashah, Rav Avraham Werdiger, renamed the party ‘Morashah – Poalei Agudas Yisrael’. Later still, he united his party with that of Agudas Yisrael.

Over the years, Poalei Agudas Yisrael aroused the opposition of the Gedolei Yisrael, the leaders of chareidi Jewry, such as the Chazon Ish zt’l, Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky (the Steipler), Rav Eliezer Menachem Man Shach, and Rav Yosef Zev Soloveitchik zt’l, the Brisker Rav. The Brisker Rav dealt the organisation a crushing blow when he ruled that it was forbidden to vote for them.

Yet despite this formidable opposition of the Gedolei hador, there continued to be those who did support Poalei Agudas Yisrael, largely those living in peripheral communities, chareidi farmers and other religious manual labourers who found the stance of Agudas Yisrael too extreme. For such people, Poalei Agudas Yisrael seemed to be a suitable alternative.
The movement of Poalei Agudas Yisrael established many organisations in many towns all over the country. In areas such as Bnei Brak, Rechovot and Haifa, there are still synagogues standing that were set up by the movement. Poalei Agudas Yisrael even brought out its own journal, called ‘She’arim’ (Gates) which could be found in chareidi and other religious homes across the country.

Over the years, the political wing of the Poalei Agudas Yisrael movement represented a sizeable section of the chareidi and religious populations in Eretz Yisrael, who saw reflected in the party their own ideals and views. Today, however, the party is no longer operational, the organisations it established have shut down, the journal is no longer in existence and even the many synagogues it established no longer identify themselves with the movement, but are instead affiliated with the various kehillos within the towns where they are located.

Interesting Article! (Especially the Last Three Paragraphs)

Last update - 00:00 23/03/2006
United they stand - for now
By Yedidia Meir