Thursday, November 29, 2018

Non-Jewish Music

Part of an extracurricular shiur to girls at YBH. My inexperience with recording with the phone. Sorry the rest of the shiur wasn't captured. But this part is pretty much complete and self-contained.

Monday, November 19, 2018

בין ישראל לאומות

This is a post I recently made on Facebook:

One of our group’s respected members wrote me directly (lightly edited):
“After just reading about the gentile who gave away the prize money I attempted to write a comment three times. Each time I erased it before posting. This needs to stay private. How many of us would do anything remotely close to this for gentiles, other than Jewish federations? Instead we write articles about the failure of the Tikun Olam direction of the non-Orthodox, which has some truth but also creates confusion about being an Ohr LaGoyim. And then there's the actual issur of Lo Sechanem. And in light of things like this, what exactly is meant by Chesed Leumim Chatas? RSRH writes in many places of the light of the Torah influencing the rest of the world. Would he say that such kindness is proof of that and that Chesed Leumim Chatas isn't a blanket statement, but the way it often is, which will ultimately change by the Torah's influence? And what can be said about Lo Sechanem? And while I'm asking questions, if we are an Ohr LaGoyim, why is it assur to teach Torah to gentiles (without creative heterim)?”
These are excellent questions that must be aired and considered. I will leave any answers to these questions to the comments or to later posts. First I would like to include here a recent discussion in which I participated. I believe it is self explanatory, and very pertinent. All names are changed and the conversation is lightly edited.
The concept of “Esav sonei Es Yaakov”, is the root where all the hatred of the non-Jews toward the Jews stems from. Throughout my life, I never really felt the hatred. The tension was always in the news, in countries not close to home. The text messages would come through saying “please daven for…. Major attack on the Jewish community in the shul in France…” I would stop, say my Tehillim and move onward with my day. Until one day that all changed. It was an ordinary Tuesday morning in ABC Seminary in Jerusalem. The teacher who was teaching began to wrap up her lesson a couple of minutes early and she said that Rabbi X the school principal would like to speak to the entire school together before the class is dismissed. We all sat in our seats patiently. What can Rabbi X want from us all today? We were anxious to get out and go enjoy our lunch break outdoors. That plan changed during Rabbi X’s speech. “Girls the Arabs are out to get us Jews, this is a serious situation. Stabbings are occurring left and right in our neighborhood to our neighbors. No girl is to leave the school building without my permission. Just this morning in front of the supermarket about three minutes away from our school an Arab stabbed a young Jewish man who is now in critical condition and the Arab was not yet found.” This is when it hit me hard. “Esav Sonei Es Yaakov,” this time it wasn't just in the news or far away. It was my neighborhood where I was currently living, and my fellow neighbors being stabbed. This shook all my classmates and I tremendously. The persecution was felt enormously. All we could do at that point was say Tehillim and daven for the salivation of the Jews.
It seems that Rabbi Bechhofer would disagree with the basis of your post. He writes that Esav sonei es Yaakov is not a Maamar Chazal and that Rashi brings it solely to explain the relationship between the brothers....
However I would agree with you. Rashi uses the expression "Halacha Beyadua" that Esav sonei es Yaakov. If Rashi was just mentioning a hatred that was not for generations but just between Esav to Yaakov he would not have gone out of his way to add "Halacha Beyadua." Also the Term Halacha makes it sound like its a binding statement. For example we say Halacha Moshe Misinai, these Halachos are not said for one generation but rather for all generations!
That being said I still believe your use was not entirely correct. The Arabs are not descendants of Yishmael, not Esav. So although they also hate us that use would not be the way to bring it out.
These are diyukim for Rishonim to make. Not for us. Especially since the "Halacha" is in all likelihood a typo. I don't find the diyuk particularly compelling in any event...
Thank you for the comment.
After doing a little bit of research I was delighted to find that Reb Moshe Feinstein in Igros Moshe CM 2:77 makes the diyuk I wrote earlier.
In a responsum to the Jews of England who asked whether or not they should take money for their institutions from their government, Reb Moshe quotes this Rashi. Reb Moshe is troubled by the use of the word "Halacha." Reb Moshe explains that Just like Halacha is binding and never changing so to the actuality of Esav hating Yaakov is binding and never changing!
He cautions the questioners from bringing a lawsuit against the government so as not to spark their hatred for us.
Although It is interesting that this is not something that is found earlier than Reb Moshe, It seems their is some merit to the other side...
Nice find. Now, tell me, is that what you believe?
הרב יוסף אליהו הענקין תקף בחריפות גישה זו כפי שמובא בספר תשובות איברא סימן קט"ז. "ועוון פלילי מצד אותם המטיפים הפטפטנים שדורשים תמיד 'הלכה הוא שעשו שונא ליעקב', והשנאה עולמית. זה נגד האמת ונגד חז"ל והמקרא, שעשו גופא לא הי' רשע תמיד ושנאתו פסקה על ידי הנהגה מתאמת וכמו עשו הראשון כן הם ג"כ דורותיו שהכנעה מביאה לשלום, וזהו שאמר בן זומא (אבות פ"ד מ"א) 'איזהו מכובד המכבד את הבריות', כונתו גם נגד האומות, כשמכבדים אותם ואומרים להם אוהבי אתה הם נעשים לאוהבים על ידי זה ולהפך כשאומרים שונא אתה נעשים לשונא וזהו מעשים בכל יום". כלומר, לדעתו אין לראות במדרש זה קביעה כאילו ששנאתו של עשיו היא נצחית, אלא עשיו שינה את יחסו ליעקב לאורך חייו, ובאופן דומה גם צאצאיו של עשיו יכולים לשנות את יחסם לישראל מתקופה לתקופה.
BTW, the original is:
וישקהו, שלא נשקו בכל לבו. ר' שמעון בן יוחיי או' והלא בידוע שעשו שונא ליעקב? אלא נהפכו רחמיו באותה שעה ונשקו בכל לבו. (ספרי במדבר סט, עמ' 167 במהד' כהנא)
It is clear that the הלכה is an incorrect expansion of וה that some scribe or printer made in transcribing the Rashi.
Wow that is an incredible piece!
Building on the diyuk I made above I do believe there is an inner hatred that many non-Jews have for us. In the Holocaust many friendly Germans turned on their Jewish neighbors once the Nazis came into power. The fact that they are nice today doesn't mean that will continue in the future. I am not saying that all gentiles fall under this category. However I do believe we always have to be suspicious and careful. As we saw in Germany, most friendly Germans either turned on the Jews or did not defend the Jews when they were being mass murdered.
One of the disadvantages of Galus is that we are under the control of the non Jewish nations. We yearn for the Geulah so that we can return to being under the wings of Hashem.
Two points:
1. If Goyim have an intrinsic hatred for Jews, how exactly is "Ohr laGoyim" supposed to work?
2. Here is a question that disturbs me immensely when I come across Esav sonei l'Yaakov literalism: Suppose the tables were turned and Goyim were being annihilated by some Jewish pseudo Nazi group: How many Orthodox Jews would put their lives on the line to be "Righteous Jews " and save Goyim?
Thank you for your questions. I am enjoying this discussion immensely.
As to your first point, I am not so familiar with the sources of "Ohr laGoyim." I understand your question and I hope to do further research over Shabbos.
I do not agree with your second question at all. In the times of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash the Talmud in Gittin (55b) tells us that the Romans laid siege on Jerusalem. The Talmud relates that there was a group of people who wanted to wage war and destroy the Romans.
The Jewish people listened to the sages of those times and did not join the Baryonim. The Baryonim burned all the Jewish supplies in order to push the Jews into war. However this did not change the trust that the Jewish people had in their leaders. The war never came into being. The Orthodox Jewish people will always follow the direction of their leaders, and not follow the lowly people that want to destroy life.
in Germany we saw the opposite.
How could a civilized nation turn into a death machine?
How could a lowly man like Hitler become a role model for a prosperous country?
How could a lowly group like the SS become the accepted law enforcement of an entire country?
I would suggest that this is only possible because of this inner hatred that non-Jews have for us. All they need, is someone to bring that hatred to the surface. Millions of people joined the Nazis in killing the Jews.
The Jews are privileged to be a nation that strives for morality. We care for all people regardless of their religion. We would never allow a lowly group like the Baryonim take control of the morality and ideals that we believe in!
The mashal is faulty. You are talking about a case where there is an intact sagacious and righteous leadership. I am talking about a case like Nazi Germany where the leadership consists, just for the parallel's sake of, say, an array of Baruch Goldsteins...
The point I was trying to make earlier is that Klal Yisroel would never have such a group.
Hitler was a low life that was in prison. The original group of the SS were uneducated gangsters.
Rashi calls the Baryonim lowly individuals. they also were a small group of lowlives. Klal Yisrael would never let a group like this turn into a government of the people!
There would never be a government of Baruch Goldsteins that would want to kill out a country.
In my opinion the fact that Germany let a group of low-lifes turn a country of educated decent people into monsters is an indication that there was a hatred that was brought to the surface...
I don't blame you for trying to evade the question. It's not easy to come to grips with it.
You don't need to have a government of Goldsteins to face the question. Resistance fighters and other Righteous Gentiles who were governed by hostile invaders risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. The question is whether we would stick out our necks to save Christians similarly.
This became a more disturbing question for me a couple of weeks ago when I saw that the Oz v'Hadar and Artscroll Shas'in had eliminated the Shittah Mekubetzes in the name of the Meiri and others printed on 38a and 113a in the bottom left hand corner that had appeared in the Vilna Shas'in. Evidently the notion that Goyim should be treated well was too irksome...
The answer to your question is simple.
Although as I explained it would never happen...
If it were to happen I would ask my Rav what the appropriate Halachic thing is to do..
However as I explained earlier even if Jews wouldn't help the gentiles, you would never see thousands upon thousands of people actively helping the Goldsteins in committing mass murders...
In Germany thousands of Germans, Poles, and Ukranians joined arms with the Nazis.
Still evading...
And if people had no Rabbonim they could reach, or their Rabbonim said there is no chiyuv to place yourselves in sakkonoh...
If they said not to put my life in danger than I wouldn't... But as I said I would never join forces with these people....
In Germany they did.
Not sure what you mean that I am evading the q..
Forget Germany for a minute. Every Pole, every Dutch, every Dane, every Belgian, every French, etc. individual who risked his or her life saving Jews without asking their pastor for a ruling on the issue would seem, by your lights, to be a fool. And those who did not risk their lives were totally justified. The Avenue of Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem might as well be called The Avenue of Foolish Gentiles…
Rabbi, with all due respect, please do not talk about past Jewish leaders in such a demeaning fashion. To compare Baruch Goldstein zt"l Hy"d to the Nazis is an atrocity in itself. I ate a meal at Harav's Goldstein's best friend who was his neighbor in Chevron at the time, and he spoke very highly of Harav Goldstein. Harav Goldstein fought righteously for the well-being of the Jews in Chevron, (who were under constant attack by the Arabs,) and stepped up as the "Ish" in the place where there was no Ish. May his memory be a source of merit for us all.
Not for me. Baruch Goldstein has much Jewish blood on his hands. But if you can give him the appellation of zt"l, then we come from very different perspectives that cannot be reconciled.
I must say a very interesting topic. Thank you, Rabbi, for educating us about the different approaches to "Esav sonei es Yaakov."
Here are some comments I have about your opinion.
1. Yes as you wrote it is not a Halacha that Esav sonei es Yaakov and everyone has the ability to change there approach. It seems like that they all start with hatred too us.
2. In regards to the talk about the Nazis, how could you compare the massacre that Baruch Goldstein performed to the Nazis? As Shimon wrote the Nazis had many followers and supporters and were slowly making there way to capture the world.
Baruch Goldstein was a psychopath whose acts were condemned by all!
Here is a question I do believe should be discussed. With all the rage about the Nazis, they had beliefs. Many would disagree but they had explanations for there acts. If we were to know who Amalek was today we would have an obligation to murder all the nation of Amalek. So why are we any different than the Nazis ?
1. I don't think so. I don't think my cleaning lady hates us. I actually think she likes us.
2. I did not draw such a comparison. I posed a hypothetical question.
3. Baruch Goldstein's acts were supported by at least one participant in this discussion.
4. It is a common misconception that there is an automatic obligation to annihilate Amalek. It only pertains if and when we ask them and they refuse to accept sheva mitzvos Bnei Noach. See the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Impact of Chanukah 2008-12-24

The Dawkins Delusion 2009-12-28

Can a Baal Teshuva Pick and Choose Minhagim? Part 3 2010_11_17

Can a Baal Tehuva Pick and Choose Different Minhagim? Part 2 2010_11_1

History vs Torah part 3 2009-12-23

Questions and Answers On Jewish History: Education 2008-08-06

The Failings of the Jewish Educational System 2010-09-14

Understanding Tefillah part 2 2011-01-12

The Relevance of the Rebbe In Our Times 2010-06-15

The 12th Principle of Rambam: Mashiach part 5 2009-11-30

Introduction to Christianity and Why We Dont Believe In It (12th Princ...

The 12th principle of Rambam: Mashiach and Misnagdim part 3 2009_11_25

The Jewish Attitude Towards Women Part 2 2008-07-30

The Jewish Attitude Towards Women Part 1 2008-07-29

The Tragedy of The Jewish Observer part 2 2009-05-05

The Tragedy of The Jewish Observer part 1 2009-05-05

The Fundamentals of Judaism 2010-06-02

The 7th of the 13 Principles of Rambam 2009-11-09

The 4th of RAMBAM'S 13 Principles of Belief 2009-09-08

Should a Sefardi Jew Answer to Ashkenazi Brochos? part 2 2010-11-03

Should a Sefardi Jew Answer to Ashkenazi Brochos? part 1 2010-11-02

Sefiras HaOmer 2007-01-01

Questions on: Reincarnations, The Quran and The NewTestament 2010-10-27

Questions and Answers: Moshiach, Slaves, Cholov Yisrael 2009-02-17

Questions and Answers 03 17 09 2009-04-06

Question on Psak Halacha 2010-11-01

Noachides in the Jewish World part 3 2010-12-20

Halachic Dateline Part 3 2009-01-21

Halachic Dateline Part 2 2009-01-20

Halachic Dateline Part 1 2009-01-14

Putting Teffilin On on the Airplane 2010-02-08

Noachides in the Jewish World part 2 2010-10-11

Noachides in the Jewish World part 1 2010-10-11

New Random Questions Oct 18 5771 2010-10-22

Music, Ibn Ezra 2009-05-04

Improving My Prayer. Also: Understanding Tefillah part 1 2011-01-11

Judaism and Shariah Law 2010-09-13

Jewish Meditation 2008-09-30

Insights Into Chabad-Lubavitch 2008-09-28

History vs Torah part 2 2010-08-18

History vs Torah part 1 2010-08-17

Halachic Tidbits Part 2 2010-10-13

Halachic Tidbits Part 1 2010-10-13

Halachic Definition of Death Debate Part 2 2011-01-19

Halachic Definition of Death Debate Part 1 2011-01-18

Halacha and its Acceptance 2009-06-03-1

Free Will and General FAQs 2010-01-04

Emuna Peshuta 2009-06-23

Definition of a Talmid Chacham 2009-06-24

Daas Torah 2009-06-02

Current Themes, Stiff Necked Generation 2011-02-25

Chazal on Physiology vs Psychology 2011-01-26

Can a Baal Teshuva Pick and Choose Minhagim? Part 1 2007-11-17

Bitachon and Dating part 2 2010-05-26

Bitachon and Dating part 1 2010-05-24

Another Set of FAQs 2010-01-06

A Generation of Little Accomplishment and Meaning 2008-12-02

The Mussar Movement 2009-11-11

The 12th principle of Rambam: Mashiach and Chabad part 1 2009-11-23

Friday, November 02, 2018

Chayei Sarah Audio Shiur: Chesed and Gevurah

A talk given via Skype to the students at Shalhevet High School in Vancouver, BC


A summary of the talk, written by my daughter, Head of School at Shalhevet:

When Eliezer asks Hashem to send him the appropriate wife for Yitzchok, he davens (prays), "V'asisa chesed im adoni - and You will do kindness with my master." What kindness is he referring to?

The Meshech Chochma explains that each of the Avos (forefathers) had a defining middah that represented, as well, their relationship with Hashem.   Yitzchok'sdefining middah (character trait) was gevurah - strength and restraint. This is opposite of chessed, and each trait has its time and place. 

Avraham represented and exhibited the middah of chessed: he was outgoing, and he made active efforts in outreach. Yitzchok represented the middah of gevurah: he was very internal, introverted, contemplative, and restrained. Each of them needed a wife who would balance them out - Sara was considered to have the trait of gevurah and Yitzchok was looking for a wife with the trait of chessed. [Yaakov who had the middah of tiferes - a blend of gevurah and chessed - needed two wives who had each of these middos to balance out his character.]

When Eliezer saw Rivka and realized she was the girl who personified chessed whom he was looking for he said, "B"H asher lo azav chasdo va'amito... - blessed is Hashem Who has not removed  His kindness and truth..." The Meshech Chochma explains that at first Eliezer was asking Hashem to find the character trait of kindness he was seeking, but with this tefilla (prayer), he was thanking Hashem for not forsaking the kindness necessary to make Yitzchok into the person he needed to be.

All of us have all of these middos, and in every situation we encounter in life we have to determine what is tiferes: what is the glory for this situation? There will always be a time when one of these are necessary; often we need to use them in a mixture. More specifically, every relationship has a time for chessed and a time for gevurah, as well. When we determine who are the best friends for us to choose, how to best relate to them, and how to act in general, these are decisions to make with these ideas in mind.

We'll know we're making good choices when we use our middos l'shem Shamayim - for the sake of Hashem. We should always look to live our lives in harmony with those around us, and be"H we will be zoche to meaningful, enriching relationships!

Mrs. Meira Federgrun
Head of School
Shalhevet Girls High School
785 16th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1S8