Monday, December 31, 2007

Coming to Terms With Rabbinical Authority

Please read my guest post on the topic at Beyond BT. Enjoy!

-Dixie Yid

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Irresponsible Jewish Blogs

Cross Currents: Blogistan

The writer of a recent article in the Agudath Israel monthly The Jewish Observer... found [that Jewish blogs] display utter disregard for essential Jewish ideals like the requirements to shun lashon hora (or forbidden negative speech) and hotzo’at shem ra (or slander), to show honor for Torah and respect for Torah scholars. I would have added basic fairness to the list. And truth.

-Dixie Yid

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Yitz's Comments on "Women & Judaism" Post & Comments

Yitz, at A Waxing Wellspring, has a very nice post reflecting on the the Guest Post at Dixie Yid by the author of The Moon's Lost Light. A big part of his post, though, relates to the comments section on that original post.

Click here to read.

-Dixie Yid

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Follow-Up on "Women & Judaism" Post & Comments

I wrote the basic text here as a comment on THIS GUEST POST by the author of the relatively new book on women and Judaism (The Moon's Lost Light), Rebbetzin Heshelis. She does not have access to the internet, but she subscribes to an e-mail service. She based her responses to the first few comments, which I forwarded to her. However, at a certain point, the questions veered off onto tangential questions on statements she made in response to commenter's arguments. Those questions no longer related to the thesis of her post here or to her book so I have not forwarded those comments to her and she has not seen them. Therefore, the fact that she has not responded to certain posts raised is because she has not seen those comments.

Most of the questions relate back to an assumption which Reb. Heshelis already adressed in one of her comments. They rely on the mistaken assumption, which she corrected, that she was saying that her explanation of these times in history in general, and their application to the "women's issue," was the only true position. If you will re-read what she wrote, and, in fact, the subtitle of her book, you will see that she never said any such thing. She could have called the book, "The Torah Perspective on Women..." However, she specifically called the book "A Torah Perspective..."

The majority of the questions on her comments or what she wrote in the post are built on the mistaken assumption that she was saying that her thesis was the only valid Torah opinion and that anything else is heresy. To disprove something like that is quite easy, since all you need to show is that anyone takes a different view on anything that she said.

However, the truth is that she said that what she wrote was *a* Torah perspective and those that find it a satisfying explanation will cling to it. Those who don't will not. Her main points in the book are well sourced (I have read the book and gone through the footnotes) and, as the Rabbonim who wrote the haskamos and to whom she has spoken, show, her explanation is at least a proper Torah view. It is not she who is trying to "pasken hashkafa."

Her basic thesis is not earth-shatteringly new, such that it deserves such dismayed reactions by some. The great thing her book does is to explain that view of our times very well in English and apply that theme to the "women's issue." I have seen the basic ideas in the writings of Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern in his unpublished Kuntrus on Chochma and Bina, which I translated HERE.

I will quote part of that here:

We will [now] speak about the dispute between the GR"A, zy"a, and Chassidus. The explanation is that the GR"A was the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef (as was stated by the students of the GR"A and received by the Maharil Diskin). One of the purposes of Moshiach ben Yosef is to wage war with the Klipa (husk) of the Erev Rav (other Jews in our midst who infiltrate illegitimate ideas from within) which gets stronger before the redemption. The klipa of the Erev Rav is the klipa of the Haskala (the "Enlightenment") whose roots were beginning in those days. In truth, Chassidus was the counterpart (ze leumas ze) of the Klipa of the Haskala. And the Klipa of the Erev Rav of the Haskala was related to the 50th gate of impurity, which is the aspect of Amalek, which is called "Reshis Goyim," the first of the nations (Bamidbar 24:20), (as the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh said in parshas Shmos, that before the redemption there would be a strengthening of the 50th gate of impurity). Therefore, the Maskilim ("Englightened Ones"), may their name be blotted out, attempted to disseminate impure forms of wisdom which eminated from the 50th gate of impurity. (The wisdom of holiness is, l'havdil, a counterpoint to this, and is a revelation of the aspect of Keser, Crown, the 50th gate of holiness.) Chassidus was the cure that preceeded this disease because it was a revelation of the Yechida [the highest of the 5 "parts" of the soul], the 50th gate of holiness. Chassidus revealed the Holy Englightenment of the revelation of G-dliness in Chochma-Bina-Daas, which is the cure which preceeds the Klipa of the Haskala.

Therefore, the GR"A, who was related to the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef, is the aspect of the Sefira of Chochma (as we said earlier). The Sefira of Chochma pushes away the Chochma of impurity in a way of waging war, because the method of clarifying between good and evil is the job of the Sefira of Chochma, "כולהו בחכמה אתברירו. (Zohar)" And therefore the GR"A had to wage war with the Klipa of the Erev Rav. But the revelation of Chassidus, which relates to Moshiach ben Dovid, the Sefira of Malchus, whose destiny was planted at the beginning in the Sefira of Keser, is the remedy to the sisease of the Wisdom of Impurity. It is a repair and a remedy by spreading the Wisdom of Holiness. When the kingdom of Moshiach ben Dovid will be in its perfect state of repair, receiving [he'ora-illumination] from Keser, then he will be able to repair the world without the use of war. [As opposed to the time of] the birthpangs of Moshiach and the wars that preceed the redemption, which relate to Moshiach ben Yosef [before] he is included [joins] with Moshiach ben Dovid, about which this is not the place to expound). [The GR"A's job was to fight against the Wisdom of Impurity with war, under the flag of Moshiach ben Yosef. Chassidus is the aspect of Moshiach ben Dovid, post war, and is the aspect of Moshiach ben Dovid.]

Bottom line: These issues seem to have gotten your juices flowing. If you are truly interested in seeing whether or not her explanation is *a* kosher Torah explanation, which may satisfy many people (obviously not you!), then you really should read her book, available at the link the post its self with a 30% discount. Most of your questions about whether or not the view she espouses is a true view are answered in the book. She can't write every source for every point in this post. That would be silly. She might as well reprint her book on Dixie Yid then. :-)

-Dixie Yid

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Koidinover Rebbe on Parshas Shmos & Getting Up Early to Learn

The Koidinover Rebbe spoke Friday morning at the Kollel Dirshu in Baltimore (who learn amud yomi at 5:45am before davening) about Parshas Shmos and getting up early in the morning to learn Torah. You can listen to the audio of that shiur HERE. Thanks again Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin for the audio!

-Dixie Yid

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy "Blogoversary" to Me! (& "Why the Need to Escape")

Today marks my "blogoversary," (as A Simple Jew calls it) one year from the date I wrote my first post. First, I want to remind you and myself what my goal is with this blog. My reason for starting it was and continues to be as a venue in which to "share." Before I started Dixie Yid, whenever I heard or read a ma'aseh, had an idea or saw or hear a Torah that I really loved, I had the desire to share it. Sometimes there was someone around who I could learn it with or share it with, but very often there wasn't. This site was and is an effort to share things that I am excited about and would like to share.

I hope that this site will be not only a place for me to share, but also a place where others can benefit and be inspired to do something extra in their avodas Hashem. In the spirit of sharing, I would like to re-share my first post, which I wrote to share a concept I'd been thinking about for several years beforehand. Here it is:

Why the Need to Escape?

Why is it that there is such a huge industry for movies, TV shows, and novels? People spend hours and hours each day and week watching these things, instead of living their own life to the fullest. Is it only the desire to escape daily life? I think that's part of it, but I think there's something that comes before that.

It is in the nature of every Yid, and every human being to want to "live" life, and feel like they're really living. I think that the essential element of truly living life is facing obstacles and challenges and then overcoming them through work and perseverance. I think that it is the essential need of the human being. Though this runs counter to our desire for comfort and rest.("Noach lo l'adam shelo nevroh meshenivroh.") It is partly because effort, stress, and toil are difficult for us and run against our nature for comfort and laziness that it gives us a sense of really living when we do it anyway.

In movies, TV shows, and novels we can watch other people facing loss, failure, challenges, bad guys, etc. and through their skill, hard work, perseverence, they win out in the end. I learned in college that what makes a really good book is when the reader really identifies with the author. People like to live life vicariously through the characters they read about or watch in various media. If for just two hours, I can feel good while watching someone on the big screen (or the little screen) fight off evil enemies against all odds, then I can get that feeling of really living without actually having to do it. Really living means facing defeat, and beating it with hard work. So by watching others do it, I can vicariously have that feeling without having to do it in real life.

That's where escapism comes into it. When I am tired of facing life's challenges and I don't want to have to "live" anymore, I can still get that feeling watching someone else do it. It's great to watch someone who trained for 20 years to learn martial arts, use his skills to outsmart and outfight all the bad guys. But I would never do that myself!

I think it's the same thing with thrill seeking like bungee jumping, crazy roller coasters, climbing dangerously high mountains, etc. By going through an experience where I feel like I'm going to die, and then living through that, it helps me feel more alive without having to actually live life.

But normal people don't face bands of dangerous ninjas, airplane hijackers, or wicked super-vilians in the course of their life. So if I can't fight evil and win to feel like I'm living, then how can any of us truly live and fulfill that deep-seated need to live life? More on that in my next post.

-Dixie Yid

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Koidinover Rebbe's Speech in Baltimore on Shovavim - Audio Shiur in Hebrew

The Koidinover Rebbe spoke at the Baltimore Community Kollel last night (Thursday) on the topic of Shovavim. The shiur is in Hebrew. Once again, thanks to Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, who's coordinating the Rebbe's trip to America and who provided me with the audio to this shiur. Tizku l'mitzvos!

You can download the shiur in wav format HERE. Enjoy!

-Dixie Yid

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Guest Post by Author - Women from the Fall of Eve to the Full Redemption

It is my pleasure to present this article, written by the author of a new book, The Moon's Lost Light, by Rebbetzin Devorah Heshelis. In it, she tells the amazing story of how she had been bothered her entire life growing up in Bais Yaakov in the Lower East Side by the apparant inequality of women in Yiddishkeit. Her example of constant searching, learning and davening are a tremendous lesson for us. My sense is that this book is different from any other and will begin to truly open up your understanding of this topic through sources from both Niglah and Nistar. You can get ahold of her book from Targum HERE (for 30% discount). You can also read a great review of the book by Meyer Twersky in Jewish Action Magazine HERE.

-Dixie Yid

It’s no secret that women’s status in Judaism is one of the most difficult areas for modern people to deal with. When one looks at the Torah’s treatment of women one gets the impression that although women are considered important - Jewish women are called G-d’s daughters - they are not on the same level as men. There’s even a blessing for men to say for not having been created a woman.

But if women are not equal with men, then how do we reconcile the Torah’s relegating women to a secondary position with our belief in the Torah’s goodness and perfection?

In times gone by this wasn’t a pressing issue. No society considered women entirely equal, but Jewish women were much better off than non-Jewish women, enjoying many more rights and privileges, than their non Jewish counterparts. Furthermore, life had so many more difficult issues to struggle with, like abject poverty or blatant and dangerous anti-semitism. Under the circumstances, pondering women’s equality or inequality was far from being top priority on people’s minds.

Times have changed. The world around us has gone all out for total equality, considering any inequality as unfair and cruel. Suddenly the Torah world found itself in a very difficult position.
Those who were not loyal to Torah had no problem with this.. They said, “Change the Torah and make women equal.” This makes as much sense as saying that if you don’t like the fact that diabetics can’t eat sugar you should change your policy and let them eat sugar. G-d’s laws - which include the laws of the Sages whom He appointed to be his agents - cannot be changed to our likes and dislikes, any more than one can change the laws of physics or chemistry. They all come from the same source. Just as the scientist cannot change the laws of nature, he can only learn to understand and apply them, so the rabbi cannot change the laws of the Torah, he can only show us how to understand and apply them.

How did those loyal to Torah respond? The old world response was “This is from G-d, the Creator of the world who gives all life and existence. If this is the way He wants it, who are we to ask questions on G-d?” Although there is much truth here, the problem was that it required more faith than most people had..

Others who realized that this answer wasn’t enough, pointed out the many positive, and complimentary things the Torah has to say about women. They showed how those who virulently criticized the Torah’s attitude towards women were uninformed and/or misinterpreting things. The critics thought women were being treated as inferiors because they were judging the Torah’s attitude by non Torah standards. For example, child bearing and child raising, doing chesed and being modest are not considered prestigious in the modern world - but in the Torah world they are considered very lofty spiritual goals which place those who adhere to them on a lofty spiritual level. On the other hand, the defenders pointed out, the “feminist” ideals have left most women robbed of those things which would give them real happiness - a loving , loyal, stable, family, that honors their wife and mother.

Yet, while all of this was very true, it still didn’t cover all the sore points. Yes, men and women are by nature different and so it makes sense that they should have different tasks. And yes, the Torah does have wonderful things to say about women. Yet there still remains the fact that there really are some ways in which women do have a secondary position...

If this wasn’t enough to have to deal with, the Talmud and later rabbinic sources sometimes describe women in a way that doesn’t correspond with our reality. For instance, men were seen as generally having intellectual capabilities while most women were seen as has having practical common sense but incapable of abstract intellectual achievements. Traditional Jewish life was designed to correspond to this. Men were expected to learn Torah and women were expected to do practical things.

But the pattern didn’t fit. There were too many exceptions - intellectual women and not so intellectual men.

I was sixteen years old when I began to be bothered by questions on the Torah’s attitude towards women. Having been born to a religious family on New York’s Lower East Side and attended the local Bais Yaakov, I was able to learn Torah commentaries directly from the sources. Being an avid reader with a philosophical bent, I searched for answers, but I couldn’t find ones that satisfied me, not from the modern writers who wrote in defense of the Torah, nor from the traditional commentators. My teachers didn’t have answers for me, nor did anyone else I asked. Eventually, I realized that no one around had the answers I was looking for. Then, out of sheer desperation I did something I thought was very daring. I turned to Hashem and explained that I had done everything humanly possible to find the answers I needed to make me love His Torah, but I was unsuccessful, so I asked Him to give me the answers Himself. Over and over again, I asked Hashem to answers my questions. I prayed at the kosel. I got up for forty nights after midnight and said tikun chatzos (psalms and prayers about the exile and our hope and longing for the ge’ula). Perhaps I fasted too, I don’t remember. Again, and again I begged Hashem to help me.

And He did.

It didn’t happen all at once. It took many, many years, but little by little I found the pieces that when put together created a dazzling puzzle - a puzzle which revealed a glorious Divine plan. It was no wonder that no one I knew had the answers to my questions, for those answers were in the area of Torah known as “sod”, secret. There was a great secret about women that was related to the future. But it wasn’t just the future. What almost nobody knew was that this great change in women wasn’t going to start only when Moshiach comes. It had already started!

I put what I found out into a book called The Moon’s Lost Light - A Torah Perspective on Women from the Fall of Eve to the Full Redemption. When Rabbi Zev Leff read my book he said, “It’s phenomenal! How did you do it?” The answer, of course was that I didn’t do it. It was all siyata dishmaya - assistance from heaven. It wasn’t me, it was Hashem taking me by the hand and showing it to me. Hashem answered my prayers.

But as I said, it didn’t come in a day. The process took over twenty years. First I found out from some of the tradition commentaries that I read that women’s inequality was coming from Chava (Eve’s) sin. That meant that women’s lower status was not how it was originally meant to be, and the way things are now is not the ideal. This in itself was comforting. It showed that Hashem “agreed” that women being unequal was not how He really wanted it to be.

Then I found out about the verse in Jeremiah 31:21 which prophecizes that women will become equal with men. Literally the verse reads “nekevah tisovev gever”. There are many explanations of this phrase, but the deeper commentaries explain it to mean that in the future females would have equal spiritual perception with men. (Later I found out that it also means that women would learn Torah, and would become eqaul in other ways as well.) But this still didn’t make sense to me, because as far as I could see women already had equal spiritual perception with men. Finally, when I was about 40 years old I read an amazing book called Kol HaTor. Written by a student of the great Gaon of Vilna, it contained his secret teachings on what would happen before the redemption.

This book explained that from the year 5500 (1740) the powers of the redemption begin affecting the world, and that everything that will be in the full redemption enters the world little by little from this period onward, growing stronger as time progresses. In other words, the “future” equality of women which the commentators had spoken about had already begun to materialize. That’s why the Sages descriptions didn’t always suit our reality. We were living in a different reality, the reality of ikvesa demeshicha, the turbulent period before the coming of Moshiach, and this reality things were different.

There was something else I learned as well. Kol HaTor said that the powers of evil would rise to fight against the progress towards the ge’ula. The more the powers of redemption would enter the world, the stronger the forces of evil would grow. As I found out from my chassidic reading, these sources, called klipos, outwardly resembled the holy forces, using the same powers but for opposite goals. Elsewhere, the Vilna Gaon said that the klipa, the impure side would come before the holy side. And that was just what had happened - it explained feminism perfectly.

But that wasn’t all. When I looked at Jewish history from the year 5500 onwards I saw that this pattern was affecting everything. Zionism, haskala, and every other change in Jewish life was all connected to this.

I was so full of this amazing discovery that I was bursting with it. I told it to anyone and everyone who would listen to me. People were absolutely fascinated.

Fascinated? That’s not even the word. I remember speaking to a group and one young lady literally jumped out of her seat. Eventually, I wrote down what I had learned in a book, adding more and more interesting details along the way. For instance, the book explains that even throughout most of world history, when women had a lower position, they were equally important and beloved in their essence. The book also speaks about the blessing for not having been created a woman, and the women’s blessing for having been created according to Hashem’s will, which has many secrets in it. According to kabbalah, women parallel and resemble the Shchina, Hashem’s presence in this world which is compared to a mother. Whatever happens to the Shchina happens to women and vice versa. Paralleling the Shchina isn’t a put down, it is one of the greatest (although sometimes difficult) honors there could be. Women’s lower position is because of the Shchina’s lower position, and when the Shchina rises, so will women.

The book brings 192 sources to substantiate these teachings. It has approbations from Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasswer, Rabbi Zev Leff, and Rabbi Michel Twersky. Many other leading talmidei chachamim, including Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon of Lakewood, personally told me how much they like the book. The publisher is Targum-Feldheim and it can be obtained from book stores or from the Targum website.

So if you’re interested in a different approach to this subject, happy reading.

-Devorah Heshelis

Update from D. Heshelis on 4/6/08:

About three months ago, there was a post here on my book, The Moon’s Lost Light. It caused quite a stir mainly amongst two readers. Because I do not have an internet connection I could not see the comments directly. Some of them were forwarded to me and I answered them, but there were other comments that I never saw.

Recently an acquaintance came across this post on a Google search and he printed and gave me the entire dialogue. For the first time, I became aware of questions and comments which I hadn’t answered. I am very sorry about this because my failure to respond may have deprived people of answers they needed to see and perhaps left them wondering if there were any answers. It is therefore important for me to inform the readers that my silence was not intentional. Presently, I am very busy preparing for Pesach and responses take much longer than most people realize. But I hope to answer a pertinent point after Pesach. Dixie Yid will אי"ה inform you when and where they will be posted.

A wonderful Pesach to everyone,

Devora Heshelis

Update 6/23/08: Rebbetzin Heshelis has responded to the loose ends left by the comments. You can read her detailed responses to many of the comments, including to Chaim and Ariella in particular. In a few days, there will be a short version of some of these responses as a new post.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How am I Behaving? Call...

-Dixie Yid

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Koidinover Rebbe Speaking at Baltimore Community Kollel Tomorrow Night

The Koidinover Rebbe from Bnei Brak will be speaking Thursday
night (tomorrow) at the Baltimore Community Kollel at
9:20 PM.

(Thanks Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin for the tip!)

-Dixie Yid

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A Simple Jew's Overview of His 40 Day Advice From the Sudilkover Rebbe

A Simple Jew: My Advice is This...

It was not long afterwards that I was able to see kindness in circumstances that others might have labeled as tzoros. Whether it was leaky pipes, a return of mice in my house, or my oldest daughter falling down and scaping and bruising her face, the first thing I did was thank Hashem for these things; knowing that it was tremendous act of kindness since each of these events could have all been much worse. Later, I even added these events to the "chasadim" column of my notebook.

-Dixie Yid

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Comments on One Who Thought Tzaddikim Come to Drain Jews of Their Money

E-mail from a reader:

Recently my husband had the zechus to help make appointments for people to meet with a great Rav who was in town. He gave out his phone number so that those who wanted to meed with the Rav could call and set up a convenient time for a meeting. One call he received though, was totally unexpected. The man on the phone asked him, “How much does the Rebbi plan to raise on his trip to the community?” My husband politely asked him to clarify his question but the man simply repeated, “How much does the Rebbi plan to make on his trip?” At this point my husband thought that perhaps this was a generous person who was willing to assist the Rav in his avodas Hashem. But the man clarified his intention before my husband could ask anything further. “How much money does he plan to drain from the community?” Both my husband and I were shocked at
this response. My husband, being one of those even tempered people, simply said “I’m not having this conversation,” and hung up.

I, on the other hand, fluctuated between different ways in which I would have responded to this comment.

Righteous: Rebbaim don’t drain life from a community, they give life!

Taking No Notice: OK so should I put you down for a 4:30? Great
can’t wait to see you there.

But then I thought, he’s right! A Rav coming here to raise money for Jews or even worse, for children?! So they can eat, have a warm bed, learn about the beauty of Shabbos and…I shudder to say this… Torah? Surely if these children have the chutzpah to be learning Torah, then they have enough energy to be out earning a decent living. So what if they’re only three? I mean come on, bringing people closer to Torah? Making them love Hashem? Fech!
-Dixie Yid

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Rav Kook - Teffilin All Day - Yashrus

Received by e-mail from my friend Tuvia in Yerushalayim:

I once read a story about Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha'Kohen Kook, ztk'l's days as a talmid of the the Netziv in the Volozhin Yeshiva. A couple of other bachurim in the Yeshiva came to the Rosh Yeshiva to ask permission to wear their tefillin in the bais medrash all day. The Netziv turned them down. One of the bochurim brazenly asked the Rosh Yeshiva, "Rebbe, you allow R. Avraham Yitzchak to wear his tefillin all day. Are we not talmidei chachamim like him?". The Netziv replied, "Yes, certainly you are talmidei chachamim. But Reb Avraham Yitzchak is a yashar".

-Dixie Yid

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Birchas Gevuros - A Surprising Understanding of "Nefesh" and Techias Hameisim

I am pleased to present this past Sunday's Baltimore Community Kollel Rav Pincus Chaburah by evanescent friend Reb Yerachmiel. Here is Reb Yerachmiel's introduction to the shiur in his own words:

Baruch Hashem, we had a nice shiur Sunday night. We are finding out that it's hard to teitch-up "Gevuros" without getting into inyanim of Techiyas Ha'Maysim, so it's been some uncharted territory (for us non-kabbalists). Nonetheless, be'ezras Hashem next week hope to conclude peshat and then veer off into the nuts and bolts of techiyas hamaysim- who/what/where/when/why and how!!!!

In our most recent shiur we continued studying the intricacies of the second beracha of Shemoneh Esrei, Berchas "Gevuros" on the levels of p'shat, deeper kavanos and words of chizuk, while continuing to grow in the fundamental arena of "Kirvas Elokim Le Tov". In particular we examined the words "Morid Ha'tal" through "Umi Domeh Lach", learned an Arizal/Zohar/Medrash/Ramchal (all quoted by the Sifse Chaim) which was a major chiddush to all regarding the status of the "nefesh" of a Jew upon death, and were treated to a guest appearance and classic tzu'shtels from the Rosh Kollel of the Baltimore Community Kollel, Ha'Rav Nesanel Kostelitz shlita.

You can listen to the shiur online HERE or download it HERE. Enjoy!

-Dixie Yid

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Little Jewish Boy in Need of Big Yeshua

Orthomom wrote:

This beautiful and bright child has been battling a rare form of pediatric cancer known as Neuroblastoma since he was 3. Following nine months of intensive treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital (MSKH), Zev was in remission. Fourteen months later, he relapsed. Zev has had to undergo major surgery, chemotherapy and radiation; nearly a year later, Zev's scans look good.

Unfortunately, Neuroblastoma has an extremely high rate of relapse.

Zev needs another drug to stay in complete remission. His little body is fighting the drug 3F8 with which he's currently being treated. Currently, a new is being developed. The improved drug could help cure Zev and 300 other children with this disease. But the new drug needs to be manufactured, at a cost of almost five million dollars.

Researchers have developed techniques that can be used to make antibodies like 3F8 more human-like which will be more effective and better tolerated by patients. A portion of the work will be carried out at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital Cancer Center, and part contracted to a small pharmaceutical company

Large pharmaceutical companies do not see the profit in healing only a few hundred children annually. We are appealing to you to leverage your influence, relationships and support to drive the humanization of 3F8 to benefit the several hundred children, like Zev, who fall victim to Neuroblastoma every year. When this antibody is better tolerated and more effective, and when it can be manufactured on a scale that is economical, the lives of more children will be saved from this deadly cancer.

Helen and Ranan Wolff, Zev’s parents are grateful to be a part of this community. Time and time again you have shown your generosity to the Wolff family. The meals, babysitting, blood donations, words of support.

Now I am asking for your generosity again.

Please, open your hearts to Zev Wolff. Zev has come so far, he's been so brave and so strong.

You must see this slideshow, telling his story.

For more information, please contact Asher Mansdorf at Tax-deductible checks can be made out to:

Zev’s Fund, Inc.,
P.O. Box 58, Cedarhurst,
New York 11516

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of The Jewish Star)

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The Meaning of "Nitel Nacht"

Rembember this discussion at A Simple Jew from last year's "Nital Nacht" Eve? Still interesting...

-Dixie Yid

(Picture of the latest Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt'l playing Chess with the Freidiker Rebbe, zt'l on Nitel Nacht courtesy of

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A Giores' Story - A Spiritual Orphan

A Guest Posting by A Spiritual Orphan - Without the Right Pedegree

So now ‘our community’ is our ‘old community.’

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of logantill)

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Rav Ekstein's Visualizations - Amazing Astronomical Photographs

My friend Tuvia, from Yerushalayim, sent me these pictures in the context of an e-conversation we were having about R' Ekshtein's sefer, Tenai Hanefesh l'hasagas haChassidus, which is also available in English here. Desipite what one might think from the modern cover, pictured above, this sefer was written by a Djikover Chossid before the war, in the 1930's, and talks about how to expand your perspective beyond your limited experiences. He uses a method of meditation using visualizations to accomplish this.

One of his guided visualizations from the beginning of his sefer is imaging yourself looking down at yourself just above your head. And then panning back, out, higher over your street, then looking over your whole neighborhood, then your whole city, then your whole state, then from the perspective of looking over your whole country, then your continent, then the whole earth, and then moving farther and farther out into space. Then zooming back in, in one's mind, till he goes into the person, from the organ level, to the cellular level, to the molecular level, to the particle level, to the atomic level, to the sub-atomic level, etc. (Now, if someone collected another bunch of pictures for that visualization, that would be something!) This is for the purpose of breaking one's trait of egoism, where we fail to appreciate Hashem's creation and our smallness relative to it's unbelievable majesty. I wrote about a similar topic with pictures here.

Here are some pictures Tuvia forwarded me to help with getting some perspective on our size relative to the world and relative to other aspects of the universe that Hashem created...

This picture shows the scale of Earth, which is a mere dot relative to the Red Giant, Arcturus.

In this one, our sun is merely a dot compared to the star in the Scorpia contellation, Antares.
This is an enlarged view of space, where countless stars and galaxies can be seen.
Here, one of the darker spots in the above pictures is zoomed in on.


-Dixie Yid

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Yaakov's Choice of Burial Location - Yaakov Avinu Lo Meis

This d'var Torah came from Reb Yaakov Horowitz. Thank you for sharing!

Yaakov says "vishachavti im avosy, uk'vartani b'kevurasam." Many ask:
Why does Yaakov seem to say the same thing twice?

The Rebbe, R' Heschel, explains as follows: Chazal say that a rasha may not
be burried next to a tzaddik, and by the same token a tzadik she'aino hagun (a
Tzadik on a lower level) cannot be burried to a tzadik hagun (a Tazadik on a
higher level). So how could Yaakov, who was the b'chir sheba'avos (the
choicest of the Forefathers), and therefore on a significantly higher
madregah (relative to the other Avos) be burried next to the other
avos? Chazal (our sages) say that Hashem told Yaakov that he
will lay next to his forebearers but will not die - "Yaakov avinu lo
meis." We also know from Chazal that tzadikim be'misasam are on a
higher level than be'chayeihem, in their lifetime (the righteous
attain a higher level of sanctification after they die than while they are

So from all this we conclude the following: The other Avos were on a
higher madreigah after they died than while they were alive - in accordance with
the previously mentioned Medrash. Yaakov, however, was burried despite the
fact that he has never died. So the other Avos on their higher post-mortum
madreigah (level) were on par with Yaakov in his alive madreigah. So
Yaakov says "veshachavti im avosy" - I will lay with my fathers - but not
dead according to what Hashem tells him. Therefore since he is not dead
and the others are dead - their madreigos match up more evenly. Therefore
it's ok for them to be burried next to each other! So then Yaakov goes on
to say "uk'vartani b'kevurasam" - now I can be burried next to them!

Thanks for the dvar Torah Reb Yaakov!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Feldheim)

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Why FFBs Don't Like Baalei Teshuva

(If this video does not display, it probably means the person hosting it used up his bandwidth alotment for the month. You can CLICK HERE to see the video on NJOP's website.)

I've heard about this speech since I was in high school, but I never knew there was a video recording till yesterday. It's a humorous speech by Hilly Gross on why he "doesn't like" Ba'alei Teshuva.

Update: To see the latest Dixie Yid content, click here!

-Dixie Yid

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Friday, December 21, 2007

First Jewish Service After American's victory over the Nazis in Germany

Broadcast of davening after America's victory over the Nazis in Germany.

Embedding didn't work here for some reason...

-Dixie Yid

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Mei Hashiloach on Why "Binyomin is a Wolf that Tears..."

I saw a fascinating Mei Hashiloach on Parshas Vayechi on the pasuk in Bereishis 49:27, "בִּנְיָמִין זְאֵב יִטְרָף," Binyomin is a wolf that tears." There, he explains that Yaakov is giving a great bracha, blessing, to his son Binyomin, the father of the tribe of Binyomin. He is saying that just as a wolf consumes its prey, the people of Binyomin consume the good from amidst the nations of the world and brings that good into the Jewish nation.

A footnote over there points to another Mei Hashiloach in Parshas Truma, dibur hamaschil "U'mileisa bo," (on Bereishis 28:17) which explains each of the 12 stones of the Kohen Gadol's Choshen Mishpat in light of the meaning of that stone and its relationship to the tribe to which it corresponds. For Shevet Binyomin, he says that the יָשְׁפֵה, the Yashphah stone, corresponds to the tribe of Binyomin because it is a contraction of the words "yesh" and "peh," or "there is to him a mouth." This means, says the Izbitzer, that "he has a mouth to swallow and to receive all good things which are found among the nations, and to gaze at the the good things [about] the nations and to bring them into the Jewish people.

It is interesting. I wonder if Rav Mordechai Yosef of Izbitz connected this teaching to himself. Mordechai was from shevet Binyomin and Yosef was Binyomin's only other brother from their mother, Rochel. I wonder if he saw his own tafkid as, at least to some extent, drawing in the sparks of holiness from among the nations and returning them to their proper place, within the Jewish people. Perhaps Binyomin would be a good name for a ger to take on as well, since he would also be returning kochos that were originally found among the nations, to the Jewish people.

May we all merit to find and fulfill our tachlis in life!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Update on Uman Crisis

I received this e-mail from Rav Nasan Maimon, of the Breslov Center, in Israel, with an update on the Uman Shul crisis. This links in this version of his e-mail are courtesy of A Simple Jew...

It's been around a month since you wrote expressing your concern, sympathy and willingness to
help resolve this latest flagrant miscarriage of justice being perpetrated
against us in the Ukraine and we wanted to let you know what's been

Since then we have been fortunate to have established a good relationship
with a very influential Ukrainian businessman. This person was able to arrange a
personal audience between us and the President of the Ukraine as his first stop
during his
recent visit to Israel
. We were able to secure their word that they would do
whatever is in their power (within the framework of the Ukrainian judicial
system) to see that Rebbe Nachman's gravesite remains completely under our

As of now the appeal that we submitted to reverse the court's latest
decision has frozen all legal actions against us. But the case is still pending.
As of now besides our need for your continued good wishes and prayers, there is
an urgent need for funds. The high legal costs are draining our already strained
finances and many of our other vital services are suffering.

If you can offer any concrete assistance or know someone who can, please be
in touch with me at: 972-(0)54-4862935 or via e-mail at

Donations can be sent to:

Breslov World Center
5 Meah She'arim Street
Jerusalem, ISRAEL

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Justin Jaron Lewis' Public Gallery)

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Should a Talmid Chacham Hold a Grudge? - Did Yaakov Know of the Sale?

The Mei Hashiloach in Parshas Vayechi, comments on the pasuk in Bereishis 49:1, "וַיִּקְרָא יַעֲקֹב, אֶל-בָּנָיו; וַיֹּאמֶר, הֵאָסְפוּ וְאַגִּידָה לָכֶם, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-יִקְרָא אֶתְכֶם, בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים," "And Yaakov called out to his sons and said, 'Gather, and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days.'" Why doesn't Yaakov state his intention that he is going to bless, give a bracha to, his children, as Moshe did before Moshe blessed the people with the words, "V'zos haberacha"?

The Izbitzer answers, using a Gemara in Yuma 22b (which continues onto 23a) which says that "כל תלמיד חכם שאינו נוקם ונוטר כנחש אינו תלמיד חכם," "Any Torah scholar who does not bear a grudge and take revenge like a snake is not a Torah scholar." He says that Yaakov knew that he had been hurt and wronged by his sons who made him suffer through the sale of Yosef and he felt that he was obligated by the principal announced in the gemara in Yuma, to hold a grudge and not bless his children. He felt that he would let Hashem speak through him and he would say whatever he would say, but that he could not say for sure that he was indeed even able to bless his children.

(Incidentally, the gemara there in Yuma limits the principal that a Talmid Chacham must hold a grudge to situations where 1. he was personally wronged [not his property], 2. he cannot show this openly in any way and 3. the person never asked for mechila, forgiveness. Also, the Maharsha explains there that the reason why he must hold a grudge and take revenge "like a snake," or else he is not a Talmid Chacham, is because the snake was cursed "V'ata teshufena akeiv." "You shall crush his head with your foot." This teaches that one (the snake) who wronged you should not have vengeance taken against him lightly, but rather, on the highest level [its head]. Therefore, one the Talmid Chacham who does not begrudge and avenge the one who wronged him at the highest level has not learned the lesson of the vengeance against the snake and must therefore not really be a Talmid Chacham.)

However, he saw that the source of the words he was saying when he began to speak was Hashem putting the words in his mouth. This is seen in the Tanchuma, which says on that pasuk, "l'Keil gomer alai," that Hashem completed Yaakov's words for him. Because of this obligation to keep the grudge though, Yaakov's words for his first three sons, Reuven, Shimon and Levi, were words of rebuke. However, when he got to Yehuda, whose name contains the letters of the 4 letter name of Hashem, and that Yehuda had no pretensions and viewed himself as having nothing of his own (leis l'm'garmei klum), his mercy was aroused. And once his mercy was opened up, it remained open for the other 9 brothers.

This is why he didn't start off referring to his Brachos as Brachos.

I have a few questions though on this teaching.

Mainly, it is still very difficult to come to terms with the Gemara in Yuma that requires a Talmid Chacham to hold grudges and take revenge on those who personally wrong them. It is also hard to understand the gemara's statement that he must "take revenge" when the gemara also limits the revenge to having no outward expression. In what way then is the Nekama, the revenge manifested?

Also, I thought the brothers never told their father Yaakov that Yosef was sold by them as a slave. How did Yaakov know this? And if he did, indeed know, then how, actually, could he ever forgive them (even knowing all of the midrashim about their justification for their ta'anah against Yosef)?

-Dixie Yid

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Gotta Bentch" or "Getta Bentch"?

Ever experience breadaphobia? It's when you don't want to make hamotzie because you don't want to have to bentch.

My wife and I have a little custom. When one of us says we "gotta bentch." The other responds, "You don't 'gotta bench.' You 'getta bentch!'"

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

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Basic Explanation of the 10 Sefiros

Inspired by a recent conversation with a friend and an all-around great guy, I wanted to post a good introductory explanation of the 10 sefiros in Kabbalah for people's general edification. I found one good explanation by RAbbi Immanuel Schochet at I'm quoting the first few paragraphs here and then linking to the full article.

-Dixie Yid

Two Systems of Ten Sefirot

By J. Immanuel Schochet

The sefirot
are ten spheres or classes, as it is stated in Sefer Yetzira, "Ten and not nine;
ten and not eleven." This is their order: keter (crown); chochma (wisdom); bina
(understanding); chesed (kindness); gevura (might); tiferet (beauty); netzach
(endurance); hod (splendor); yesod (foundation); malchut (kingship).

some schemes keter is omitted from the order of the ten sefirot, as will be
explained further on. These schemes understand chochma to be the first of the
ten and insert daat (knowledge) as a sefira after bina.

Keter is the
highest level or sphere of the sefirot. The term itself denotes its
significance: as a crown is on top of the head and encompasses it, so keter is
on top of all the sefirot and encompasses them all.

The analogy is
carried further: just as the crown is not a part of the head or the body but
distinct from it, so keter is essentially distinct from the other sefirot. It is
the first emanation, and as such the "lowest level" as it were, of the Emanator
Himself. That is why keter is called "the most hidden of all hidden" ("temira
dechol temirin"), and is referred to as "naught" (" Ayin"). These terms signify
the total concealment of the rank of keter due to its supreme sublimity.

Keter is so sublime and concealed that nothing can be said or postulated
of it. While the other sefirot are sometimes represented by various letters of
the alphabet, no letter can describe or represent keter. (In the paradigm where
the four letters of G-d's name Havayah represent the ten sefirot, i.e. yud -
chochma, hei - bina, vav - the unit of the six middot from chesed to yesod, hei
- malchut, keter is represented by the "thorn" of the yud, thus not by any
letter but by a mere dot.)

That is why keter is sometimes excluded from
the scheme of the sefirot. It is too sublime to be included. It is a category
and class all in itself. In fact it is called the "intermediary" between the Ein
Sof and the sefirot, bridging the gap, as it were: it is the "lowest level" of
the Light of the Ein Sof and from it, and through it, issue forth the successive
divine emanations (thus being the very root or soul of the sefirot). Keter
represents the "lever" of divine manifestations and, as such, is called "the
Supreme Will" (" Ratzon Ha'elyon") of G-d: not a particular will focused on some
specific goal but the original Divine Willingness (Ratzon) underlying the
creative will. It is the "Will of all wills", which precedes all powers or
attributes (i.e., the sefirot)...

Click here for the full article.

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James Madison on Reform Judaism

According to the Pittsburg Platform of 1999 by the CCAR, reform judaism's Central Conference of American Rabbis, reform judaism's stance on Torah is that individuals and communities must study Torah and decide whether given mitzvos "address" them or not:

"We are committed to the ongoing study of the whole array of (mitzvot) and to the fulfillment of those that address us as individuals and as a community."

James Madison, in the 10th Federalist Paper, wrote:

"No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time..."

Devarim 16:19: "וְלֹא-תִקַּח שֹׁחַד--כִּי הַשֹּׁחַד יְעַוֵּר עֵינֵי חֲכָמִים, וִיסַלֵּף דִּבְרֵי צַדִּיקִם." "Do not take a bribe because a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous."

-Dixie Yid

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reb Yerachmiel's 2nd Shiur on Birkas Gevuros - Baltimore Rav Pincus Chaburah - Audio

In this edition of Reb Yerachmiel's Baltimore Community Kollel Rav Pincus Chaburah, where they are learning about the essence of davening, he discussed the intricacies of the second beracha of Shemoneh Esrei, Berchas "Gevuros" on the levels of p'shat, deeper kavanas, words of chizuk and approaches to enhance the reality of closeness to Hashem that halacha dictates we perceive when we stand a Shemoneh Esrei.

Because this shiur was very special, it's a little longer than usual. You can listen online to Part 1 (1:05) and Part 2 (0:05) here:

Part 1
Part 2

And you can directly download the two parts here:

Part 1
Part 2

And for those of you who have had ipod troubles, I'm copy/pasting some information on this from a commenter called "maks.":

"Chava,I had the same exact problem with all the Rav Yerachmiel shiurim. I'm sure there are multiple ways to fix this, but one way I used was in iTunes, right click on the shiur and select "Convert Selection to AAC". It will take a few minutes to convert it and the resulting file will be much bigger than the original, but it will now play in your ipod.Hope that helps!
December 5, 2007 10:42 AM"

-Dixie Yid

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Gerim and Aveilus for Their Parents

Rav Moshe Shternbuch: Do Adopted Children Sit Shiva For Their Step Parents?

Rav Shternbuch reasons that if feelings of closeness caused Rabban Gamliel to sit shiva for an Eved who has no Din of Aveilus than certainly for the people who raised you and do have a Din of Aveilus.

-Dixie Yid

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Cyber-Derech Eretz - Q&A at A Simple Jew

Click here to read my response to A Simple Jew's question to me about "derech eretz in the cyber age." It also includes a partial list of suggested rules for cyber derech eretz. Enjoy!

A Simple Jew asks:

If a person is where his thoughts are, in this cyber age have cellular phones and wireless communication devices prevented us from being where we are and living in the present?

Dixie Yid Answers:

-Dixie Yid

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Guest Posting by Ronnie Samet - Special Insights into Yosef, the Brothers & Binyomin

A reader, Ronnie Samet, has sent in a very special chidush that his father, Dr. Michael Samet, shlit"a, was mechadeish in the parshios that we find ourselves in right now, Vayeshev, Mikeitz, and Vayigash. He has shared these insights with many people through the years, but B"H, I think that this is the first time that these words will be published publicly. I hope that the learning of these thoughts will be a zechus for Ronnie and his father, she'tihiyu bri'im u'krovim LaShem. I think that you will find them extremely interesting. Thank you again, Ronnie for sharing this!

-Dixie Yid

In Parshas Vayeshev, the Pasuk tells us that as Yoseif approaches the
brothers in Dosan, the brothers conspire to kill Yoseif and Reuven
objects and suggests to throw him in the pit. Before Yoseif comes
within earshot, the conversation between the brothers cease, and
Yoseif is stripped of his coat and thrown into a pit that is empty,
"with no water in it."

What truly is the significance that there was no water in the pit?
While Rashi states according to the medrash that there was no water,
but there were snakes and scorpions; the question remains why didn't
the torah just say that they threw him in a pit with snakes and scorpions.
There must be inherent value in the words, "with no water in it."

My father explains, What is the difference between a pit with water
and one without. A pit with water - a well, in essence, has water
which absorbs sounds waves and makes it impossible for someone inside
the well to hear above the ground conversations. Whereas a pit
without water - is a pit - a "valley" in which sound waves echo off
the walls and ground and magnify the sounds said above ground.

Assuming these conditions of nature - the Torah is thus stating that
Yoseif was in a pit without water which means he was able to hear
conversations that occurred above ground. There was only one statement
that was said above ground when Yoseif is in the pit. "And Yehudah
says, What benefit is it if we kill our brother and cover his blood,
let us sell him..." If, according to our new understanding, we
believe that Yoseif must have heard this statement since - he was in a
pit without water - allowing the sounds to echo, Yoseif immediately
can deduce two bits of information.
One - Someone put a motion on the table to kill him. Two - it is not
Yehuda as Yehuda is the one rejecting the idea.

Clearly Yoseif is wondering who was it that wanted to kill him. Well,
who has the greatest motive to kill him?
Likely - the one with greatest motive is Reuven. The other Bechor.
While Shimon and Levi are considered "aggressive," they don't
necessarily carry the weight in true motive as Reuven does.
Furthermore, when Yoseif is taken out of the pit and sold, who is not
there - Reuven!!

Lets turn to Parshas Miketz, when the brothers come down to Mitzrayim.
Interestingly, Yoseif recognizes them and talks to them harshly. He
accuses them of being spies. As Rashi points out, there are many
personal questions exchanged about a missing brother, etc. Yoseif,
however, maintains his demeanor througout -- until after they have
been in jail for three days and the brothers finally say to each
other, "the difficulties come to us on account of our neglect in
listening to Yoseif's cries." Even at this point, Yoseif maintains
his poker face - but then Reuven says to the brothers, "I told you not
to touch the kid (Yoseif) and you didn't listen to me." The Torah
then states, "and they didn't realize that Yoseif was listening b/c
the interpreter was between them, and Yoseif turns away and cries."
So why does Yoseif cry??
Because for 22 years he has been thinking, it was Reuven who wanted to
kill him, and now he hears in his own language, that Reuven actually
wanted to save him!! He falsely suspected him - so he turns away and
cries. When he comes back - he now has to turn his attention to the
perpetrator. Its not Yehudah. Its not Reuven. It is unlikely to be
any of the Shefachos' children - it must be Shimon and/or Levi. Rashi
points out that it was Shimon who threw him in the pit and actually
made the motion to kill him - so Yoseif figured out the mystery.

Now the question is where did Reuven really go after they threw Yoseif
into the pit?
Did Yoseif make any arguments at that time? What does the story of
Yehudah and Tamar really add? Why did Yoseif change his mind - first
he said one guy would go back to get Binyamin, then he sent them all
except for one. Why the change in plans? Also, why does he return
the money in their bags the first time down?
All these questions are tied in to one theme and it all leads up to
this Parsha of Vayigash Yehuda...

So where did Reuven actually go when he left the brothers after they
threw Yoseif in the pit? My father, shlita, a realist, believes that
Yoseif did not descend into the pit without a verbal fight. The
brothers claimed he was a dangerous verbal slanderer, always on his
own volition spying on them and reporting back to Yaakov. Well, this
one time, the Torah goes out of its way to say that Yaakov actually
sent him to check on his brothers. This one time, he was merely
following his father's orders. In fact, if he was spying, as he
usually did, would he have left a trail? - when he asks a stranger as
to where his brothers went. So - likely Yoseif argued that while it
is true - at times he spies and reports lashon hara back to Yaakov,
this time - it is not the case. To prove it, let someone verify the
information with Yaakov.

So Reuven went back to Yaakov to verify the information, to see if
Yoseif was telling the truth. But the brothers don't wait for him.
And instead of one person (Reuven) verifying the information, all the
brothers except for one (Reuven), decide to sell Yoseif - and "in
theory," subject him to a fate of eternal slavery.

Realize that Yehuda was at the head of the sale, and given his stature
could have prevented the sale as Rashi points out. We will talk about
this later.

Let's fast forward for a minute to Parshas Vayigash - As the Rambam
states, complete Teshuva occurs when one is in the same situation and
does not perform the same mistake.

Yoseif's goal is to create a near identical situation to his sale. So
he too accuses the brothers of being spies. They disagree. He says,
OK - lets send one person back to verify the information (that there
is a younger brother) - just as they sent Reuven back to verify
Yoseif's story. But just as they changed their plan and all of them
except for one (Reuven) decided the fate of Yoseif, he too changed the
plan and all of them except for one (Shimon) will now decide the fate
of Shimon. You should see the parallel. But the brothers fail again
- let me explain.

It must be clear that Yehuda could have prevented the entire sale of
Yoseif had he waited for the evidence from Reuven. Furthermore, he
felt comfortable selling Yoseif into eternal slavery and likely could
have prevented it had he stood up and intervened before they actually
sold Yoseif.

Well - Hashem gives him a second chance. With Tamar - there too, all
he had to do was verify the information regarding who impregnated Tamar. But
he doesn't. He fails again. Without asking questions and waiting for
evidence - he says, "Burn her at the stake." Interestingly, this
time, he HIMSELF is the evidence and only admits that he is wrong when
the evidence is staring him in the face.

Now Yoseif, after he hears it is not Reuven who wanted to kill him -
his focus is on Yehuda - as it was only Yehuda who could have
prevented the sale of his brother into eternal slavery. So in fact
Yoseif gives Yehuda another chance to do Teshuva.

The Torah is quite clear that Yoseif threw Shimon into jail in front
of their eyes. This was done with the focus on Yehuda. Again,
another brother was slated for eternal slavery (if not worse), but
here too Yehuda fails to stand up and intervene.

Yoseif thus sets up the final event with Binyamin. But indeed he
needs a perfect setup. So he starts by planting the money the
brothers brought down the first time back into their bags. Why did he
do this? To be a nice guy. No - it is a setup.

When the brothers come down a second time - immediately they disclose
the fact that they found the money back in their bags and they are
voluntary returning it. Once again, they plead innocence and they are
honest people.

During their second visit (with Binyamin now), Yoseif eats with all
the brothers and then sends them back on their way with his goblet in
Binyamin's bag.

He chases after them and they find the goblet in Binyamin's bag.

When they return - he accuses them of stealing. They argue that they
would never steal - in fact the first time when money was planted back
in our bags, we brought it back - We are innnocent and honest people!
You have no evidence against us.

The response - Yes you have proved your innonence - all except one.
You see, Binyamin was not here the first time - and so he has no
presumed innocence.

So Binyamin is guilty - all the evidence proves it. And he too will
now be a slave forever.

VaYigash Yehuda - now Yehuda - who has failed multiple times with
regard to evidence - finally in his moment of Teshuva - says I don't
care what the evidence shows - even if it clear that he is guilty, I
will not stand idle as my brother is sold into slavery. I will do
whatever I can to prevent it - you will not take Binyamim.

At that point, the "game" is over. The goal has been reached!!

Ani Yosef, HaOd Avinu Chai.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

OU Kashrus Seminar Coming to Town - Funny Intro Video

HT to Gil Student

-Dixie Yid

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Rav Pincas Chaburah - Birchas Gevuros/Techiyas Hameisim- Audio Shiur

In this week's shiur by Reb Yerachmiel from the Baltimore Community Kollel Rav Pincus Chaburah, he began discussing the second beracha of Shemoneh Esrei, Berchas "Gevuros", and discussed the connection between Hashem's "Might" and techiyas ha'maysim, rainfall and Yitzchak Avinu, all in an effort to further enhance our tefillos.

You can listen to the shiur online HERE (watch out for the advertisements) or download it HERE.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture of the Kamui Promontory in the Western tip of Shakotan Peninsula of Hokkaido, near Japan courtesy of

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yitz's Thoughts on My Recent Translation Post on Chochma/Bina From Rav Kook

Yitz, at A Waxing Wellspring, has a post that he says was going to be a comment on this post, but ended up being a post of its own. In it, he reflects on the potentially endless loop between the aspects on Chochma and Bina, in understanding life and Yiddishkeit. Please read his post!

The thing that always worries me most though, is what Rav Kaplan said about Ben Zoma...

-Dixie Yid

(Picture of the "pardes" courtesy of

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Chochma vs. Bina - Part 8 - Rav Kook - Putting It All Together

In this final section, translating teachings by Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern and Rav Kook on the topic of understanding Chochma and Bina and how those sefiros manifest themselves practically in modern times.

I highly recommend that you read the Introduction first. Each part links to the next, so you will be able to keep up. My rebbe connected this teaching from Rav Kook, with Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's explanation of Chochma and Bina's practical manifestations in modern jewish movements. Here, in the conclusion to this series, Rav Kook explains how the desire to unify Chochma and Bina is the prime movant behind so much of what people invest time and energy into in this world, and how you and I can learn Torah in a way which is mesakein, repairs, the world's perversion of this desire to unify.

Oros HaTeshuva 7:10

The chutzpa that exists at the end of days comes because the world is already ready, to the extent that it demands understanding, [to know] how all details are tied into the principal. There is no detail, that is not tied to some great principal, will satisfy the mind. If the world would toil in Torah, with the light of this trait, the spiritual sould would be come so great that it would recognize the right connection between every detail with the spiritual principals. Teshuva and a reperation of the world which would come with and through it, would be revealed and and reach actuality. But because of laziness, and because the light of Torah is [hidden] within, and needs to be loftiness [of spirit] and inherent holiness, [this trait] has not entered the world in the proper way. The need to organize life in this way, where the details are built on an understanding of the whole structure.

At a time like this, where the completion of the revelation of light, and a clarification of the path to this understanding has not yet come, this creates an awesome destruction. We must use the best medicine, which is increasing the power of spiritual strength, to the point that the way of understanding and measuring the connection between all types of theoretical knowledge and activity with the highest principal will be something which is understood and becomes a normal means which comes naturally through [currently] forgotten feelings of the soul. Then, the spiritual power behind life will return to actuality and intellectual connectivity, to affect the world, and overarching Teshuva will begin to give its fruits.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Learning More to Keep Up With Your Children

I happened to be davening next to a Tzadik in Shul this past Shabbos morning. He's a Baal Teshuva, a great father, and an all-around great person. I observed that he was looking over his daughter's parsha sheets. They were about 3 pages long and were all in Hebrew. He was poring over the sheets with a dictionary on one side, and a Metzuda Linear translation of the Chumash and Rashi on the other side. As he was working on the Hebrew in the parsha questions so that he could understand the questions well enough to ask them to his daughter at the Shabbos table, I was thinking what a great role model he is.

For those of us who are trying to be good fathers like this man, it's worth noting that we shouldn't take a back-seat attitude to raising our children. He could have said to himself, "If I know it, I know it. If not, not. Whatever it is, is meant to be. She'll have to get along with the parents she's got." And while all of that is true, it's great to have that assertive attitude that says, "If I don't know something that my child is learning in yeshiva/school, I'm going to learn it so we can share that together." Givaldig!

Just another story to throw in that's not related, about my own kids. The other night, my daughters were about to go spend the night with their Saba and Savta. My wife asked our almost 3 year old son whether he wanted to go too or not. He said that yes, he also wanted to go. So my wife said, "No. Stay here with Mommy. I would be so sad if you left." So he says, "I no want Mommy be sad." And then listen to this, he goes, "Okay, I'll stay." Crazy! How many children would give up on something they want to do just to bring happiness to one of their parents!? (Maybe a lot, but I'm still schepping nachas.) OF course she told him that he could go, and didn't have to stay. But it was sooooo sweet.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of the Israel Book Shop)

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Congratulations to our Oh! Nuts Gift Certificate winner, Dani Strashun

I wanted to wish a "big mazel tov" to Dani Strashun, from YU, who was the subscriber to the Dixie Yid e-mail list, who won the $20 Gift Certificate to the Oh! Nuts webiste that I posted about last week. Enjoy!

-Dixie Yid

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