Friday, May 30, 2008

Achieving a Harmonious Shabbos Table Part 1 - Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern



Part 1

by Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern

Reprinted from the booklet with permission by the author.

The Shabbos seudah, when the entire family is together, provides a tremendous opportunity for parents to build and strengthen three vital areas of family life: 1) the kesher with their children, 2) their children’s self-esteem, and 3) family harmony. Additionally, it can be used for training children in derech eretz, good midos and the mitzvos of honoring and revering their parents.

These objectives can only be accomplished, however, when the right atmosphere prevails at the seudah.With many families, especially ones with small children, the Shabbos table is a real challenge to keep orderly, while with others it is a struggle to survive in one piece.Without an orderly table, it is impossible to reap the many benefits that the Shabbos table has to offer. The following guidelines can help parents to have an orderly Shabbos meal.



Before dealing with this issue, parents should be aware of one of the most important priniciples of chinuch. Rav Shlomo Wolbe writes that chinuch must match the child's intellectual level. We learn this from Chazal, who set specific times for teaching children Torah: Chumash when he is five years old; Mishneh at 10; at 13 years, he is obligated to keep the mitzvos; at 15, we teach him Gemara; and at 18 years, he is ready for marriage (Pirkei Avos, 5:23). The reason for this delineation is that the child's intellect and understanding determines when and what he should be taught. A young child, for example, can only comprehend Chumash. As his intellect develops, he will be ready to learn Mishneh at 10, and only at 13 will he be developed enough to be obligated in mitzvos. Thus, concludes Rav Wolbe, if this is true for Torah and mitzvos, how much more does this principle apply when training a child in midos and derech eretz? (Alei Shur, Vol.1, p. 263; Vol 2, p. 339)

The skill of chinuch, he concludes, is to pair the proper chinuch to the child's development, i.e., when to teach him what is mutar and assur, and when to train him in proper conduct and behavior. If anxious parents try to train or demand of their young children to behave in a manner that is not yet suited for their age, even if they succeed, they can harm their children’s emotional development. Parents should be aware that any demand of a child that is made before he is ready can cause him emotional scars in the form of fears, depression and low self-confidence. This even includes simple demands, such as training a child in cleanliness, sitting orderly at the table and the like, which parents often require many years before their young children are ready. This is one of the reasons why parents are not successful in the chinuch of their children.

Since young children cannot sit orderly at the Shabbos table for a long time, parents must determine the length of time that they should be at the meal. A young child who feels that he is forced to stay at a meal will become restless and disruptive. (Rav Wolbe also told me that we cannot expect young children to sit for a long period of time at the Shabbos table; even 45 minutes is too long.)

Here is my advice on this matter:

· For toddlers below five, it is usually best to feed them before the meal. Try to have them hear Kiddush and Hamotzi, and let them stay at the table for short periods during the meal to participate however they can. If they show interest, they can sing zemiros or give over what they learned in kindergarten on the parsha.
· When the child is a bit older, set time limits at the table based on his ability to sit orderly. For example, start with Kiddush and Hamotzi, part of the meal, one of his favorite zemiros and perhaps add a few extra minutes to hear a d’var Torah from the father or for the child to give over something his rebbe taught him. Allow the child to leave the table and go play if he gets restless. By knowing in advance that he will only have to sit orderly and participate in the meal for a short while, the child will find it easier to behave properly. As the child gets older and more settled, the limits can be extended.
· Do not force a young child to sit through the entire meal if it is too strenuous for him. Otherwise, parents only stand to lose in the long run, as the child will grow up with resentment and an aversion toward Shabbos meals.
· When it comes to bentching, require the child to say only what he bentches in school and no more.
· After the meal, give each child who behaved properly a nice treat. This will give them an incentive to do the same or better the next time.

(Picture courtesy of Ari Sutton Studios)

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Whole World Was Created for My Sake - What Does This Mean to Me?

Guest Post by Lazer Herson, from our Dixie Yid reader's Yeshiva Bochurim division:

I recently took part in a discussion, where the main topic was the Mishnah in Sanhedrin that "Kol Echad V'Echad Chayav Lomar: Beshvili Nivrah Ha'olam" - Every person is obligated to consider himself as the Raison d'Être of the universe. In that discussion, each person advocated his personal take on the mishna. As always - two Jews, three opinions. Some interpretations included:

-Every person has to have a "personal G-D". That is the meaning of "world" in this context.
-Or: Every person must realize that G-D created this world for his pleasure. Ma Rabu Ma'asecha Hashem... etc...
-Or: Purely egotistical. I rule. You have to get out of MY way.
-Or: It is meant to serve as an ego boost when you are feeling blue. On the flip side, one must also keep in mind that: "Ani Afar V'Efer" - I am nothing but dust and ashes in the grand scheme of things.
-Or: the Gemara's take on B'Shvili; Namely, that every man is a potential progenitor of the entire world, he is therefore the equivalent of an entire world.
-Or: The preferred explanation of my teachers: The shirt I am wearing, the table I am sitting at, and the computer I am using, all were created for me to use to better serve G-D.

Now, it may be just because I heard it from my teachers, but I have a problem with the last explanation: It explains why MY shirt, table, and PC were created, but what about YOURS? Where do they fit in? How do they better enable ME to serve G-D? Do they serve no purpose?

Also, it explains where tangible objects fit in, but what about the intangible? Going by Ha'olam, meaning the WHOLE world, how do the 2008 elections help? A conversation YOU had with YOUR friend? And even more importantly: YOU!! Why were YOU created? If I never meet you, and you have zero effect on my life, what purpose do you serve in this "master plan"??

Thinking about all this, I came up with a slight variation on the theme. Try this one on for size!

Maybe.... Just maybe, the world was created and Adam and Chava placed within it. They had children who had children who had children... etc.... Every event that ever took place was ordained, every encounter pre-conceived, and every life course was mapped out, all that two people should meet, get married, and have a child.


And every human and non-human event, encounter, discovery, sight, etc.. were all put into place to shape my enviroment, friends and family, all to enable me to become a better me!

Just think about the implications!

That conversation that you had with a friend, was to cause someone else to say something to me, and shape MY life! And it can be even more indirect! Think "butterfly effect", where a butterfly in Brazil flaps its wings and causes a tornado in Texas. Think Ian Malcolm's Jurassic Park, or Ray Bradburys The Sound of Thunder!

On the flip side: Think about the *responsibility* involved in this. G-D created this whole world *just for me*. How can I NOT accomplish what I am meant to? What possible excuse is there for not fulfilling my potential????? I'm no longer insignificant me! No longer do I have the *right* to fail! If I'm the linchpin in this whole Dira B'Tachtonim thing, who am I to disregard my divine mission? Are you going to turn your back on 5768 years? On countless people, animals, events, conversations, and wars? Try telling the Dor Hamidbar that they left Eygpt and trekked through the desert needlessly! Try telling the Marranos that their fight was for naught! Try telling any Holocaust survivor you know, that he lived for nothing! See what kind of reaction you get!

There is another element here: Caring. G-D caring. If G-D went through all this effort to set you up in the ideal position to fulfill your mission, you think he isn't watching with bated breath? You don't think he knows and cares about every little move you make?

If you feel all three elements of: Privilege, Responsibilty, and G-D's Love for You, then, in my opinion, you are good to go.

I just wish it was as easy to feel as it is to write....

(Picture courtesy of battin)

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Refa'einu Part 3 - Refuah Directly From Hashem - Audio Shiur

Dixie Yid is proud to present the latest edition of the Baltimore Community Kollel Tefillah Chaburah with Reb Yerachmiel.

In lieu of seven-plus years in medical school, Reb Yerachmiel's latest shiur, on the topic of berchas "Refa'ainu" in Shemoneh Esrei, explained the opening words of this vital tefillah (borrowed from Yermiyahu Ha'Navi's words from last week's Haftorah, parshas Bechukosai): "Refa'auin Hashem V'Nayrafeh, Hoshiainu V'Nevashayah", and discussed kavanos involved in asking Hashem Yisbarach "directly" for refuas ha'guf (physical healing) as well as refuas Ha'Nefesh (spiritual healing).

May this shiur and all of our Torah learning be a zechus for a refuah sheleima for all cholay Amo Yisroel bimhayrah.

You can CLICK HERE to download the shiur (by "right clicking" and selecting "Save Target As" or listen to it online by left-clicking.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Purim Hero)

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shalosh Sheudos at Aish Kodesh Woodmere - Guest Posting

(Guest Posting by Neil at Modern Uberdox)

Several months ago I spent a Shabbos in Woodmere and I'd like to share my thoughts about one particular experience.

As I walked downstairs at Congregation. Aish Kodesh after davening Mincha on Shabbos, I expected a typical Shalosh Seudos. I should have known better. After spending an entire Shabbos in Rav Moshe Weinberger's kehillah, I should have known that nothing is really typical (in a good way) when it has something to do with Aish Kodesh.

Tables and chairs were set up to hold the two hundred plus men that has come downstairs to join their Mora D'asrah for the last moments before Shabbos Kodesh would leave them. After I was wisked by my friend to wash and quickly take a seat, I grabbed a piece of bread from the table and some cake. I took in the whole scene. As during all of the davening over Shabbos there were a mix of men with beards, men clean shaven, men with long payos, men with knitted kipot, men with velvet yalmukas, men with hats, men with shtrimelach, men in white shirts, men in jackets, ...a true mix of Kenesses Yisrael.

To my right my friend was discussing issues concerning Sh'mita with someone across the table and to my left there were two men were reviewing that morning's section of Daf Yomi. After a few minutes of shmoozing and eating my friend told me to get up and grab my chair, quickly. Just as I got up, the lights when out in the room and we quickly took our chairs (along with everyone else) and formed rows in front of the table were Rav Weinberger was sitting.

I remembered reading that it was the minhag among Chassidim to have Shalosh Seudos in the dark, especially when it came time for niggunim and d'vrai Torah. As we sat, the entire room began singing. Of couse we sang Mizmor L'David three time to three amazing tunes. It was an emotional experience, especially when everyones' voices blended into one voice singing praise to Hashem. After the third time, we sang the tradtional Yedid Nefesh.

Then the Rav of Congregation Aish Kodesh spoke. Having attended Rav Weinberger's shiurim in Queens when I single and for many years being part of his teleconferenced classes, listening to tapes, CDs, and now mp3s I thought I was fairly use to hearing him give over Torah. As I look back now, hearing him speak at Shalosh Seudos was like hearing Rav Weinberger speak for the first time. It was intense, intimate, and electric! There was a connection he seemed to have with every Yid in the room. His message that Shalosh Seudos was one of hope and trust in Hashem. He said over an idea that each one of us has the ability to accomplish great things because Hashem gives us an inner strength that we need to unlock and tap into. It was a perfect message to give over as we left a state of Kodesh and re-entered a stale of Chol.

It is said that Shalosh Seudos bei the Rebbe of Piazeczna, Harav Kalonymous Kalman Shapiro, zt"l (for whom Rav Weinberger's shul is named after) was truly the highpoint of Shabbos Kodesh. In my humble opinion, that Shalosh Seudos I experienced is a living tribute to the Aish Kodesh!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Yitzi Mayer [not taken at Shalosh Sheudos])

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My Favorite Pasuk - A Guest Posting by Me at ASJ

Click on over to A Simple Jew, where he put up my answer to the following question:

A Simple Jew asks:

ודובר אמת בלבבו ("...and speak the truth within his heart")
Seeing these words in the siddur each morning reminds me of this and this. I am grateful that these words confront me before I start the day and help keep my thoughts, speech, and actions in check. Without them, I would be more prone to following the illogical logic and rationalizations of my mind.

Is there a verse in the siddur or in sefer you learn regularly that serves a similar function for you?

Dixie Yid Answers...

(Picture courtesy of israblog)

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Ein Aroch Lecha & Rachel Mevakah - YU Acappella Version

HT to Gruntig

-Dixie Yid

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Why the Preoccupation with Food/Eating?

I received an e-mail the other day from a woman who reported to me that she had attended a women's event in her Shul and that everyone had a great time. The Rebbetzin's speech was enjoyed by all. But she was a little upset about the fact that virtually all conversations (about 95%) for the entire evening revolved around two topics; Food/recipies and Weight Watchers/Points. Both topics are related to concerns about physical beauty and it's relationship to eating, or to actual eating. Now I know that men have their own mishigas'n, nonsense, which could be as bad or worse than what the ladies chat about when they get together. Whether it's sports or work, or whatever, we have our own issues. But right now I'm curious about this phenomenon by the Yiddisheh Veiber, our heiligeh Yiddisher Tochter, Jewish ladies.

How common is this phenomenon?

What's the reason for this preoccupation?

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

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Bilvavi Author Coming To America - Available to Come to Your Area

Sunday, May 25, 2008

K'Shoshana video - Razal, Sarachik and Katz

This is the title song, "K'Shoshana," from Azriel Ganz's album by the same name, by Shlomo Katz, Chaim Dovid and Aaron Razal.

-Dixie Yid

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Satisfaction from Child Raising and Housekeeping - Part 4

Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern
Part 4

(You can see Part 1 here)

In Conclusion

When combining all the above factors that:
1. The Jewish home a miniature sanctuary with the potential of housing the Shechina,
2. The Jewish mother becomes beloved to Hashem through her child raising efforts,
3. For these efforts she receives a special reward in olam haba, and will constantly be meriting rewards from her children’s mitzvos even after she departs from this world and
4. Each child that she invests has the potential to be another Torah leader in the Jewish nation, and her influence can have a lasting impact on hundreds of her descendants.

We come to the conclusion that there is no greater feeling of accomplishment, fulfillment and pride that the Jewish mother can have from raising a family in her home.

Can any job in the world compare to this?


I wish to conclude with a powerful vort that I heard from Rav Y. Frand. (From the shiur “Jewish Women in the Workforce”)

When the Aron HaKodesh was returned to our nation from Plishtim captivity, the prophet relates that Dovid Hamelech danced and leaped from joy in a manner which seemingly did not befit a King, and as a result, his legs were exposed. His wife Michal peered out of the window, and when she noticed her husband rejoice in this manner, she scorned him in her heart. When he returned home, she sarcastically remarked, “How honored was the King of Israel today who was exposed in the presence of his servants’ maidservants as one of the boors would be exposed!” (Shmuel II 6:14-23)

The Midrash comments that the word used for maidservant is “amhos” spelled exactly like imahos, inferring that that Michal was regarding the Jewish mothers as maidservants. After explaining to his wife why he danced in this manner, Dovid Hamelech remarked that the Jewish women, who you termed as maidservants, are the mothers of the Jewish nation, and I wish that I can be together with them in olam haba! The navi continues that as a punishment for her arrogant manner of speech, Michal was henceforth childless. (Midrash Rabba Bamidbar, 4:20)

Rav Frand explains that this punishment was mida kneged mida (measure for measure). Michal did not appreciate what it meant to be a mother. To her, cleaning a child, wiping his/her nose for the tenth time and rocking the child to sleep is the work of a maidservant, not of a Jewish mother. Therefore she did not merit being a Jewish mother again.
We must realize that creating, raising and molding a Jewish family is the most important and rewarding endeavor of our lifetime.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Most Important Shiur You'll Ever Hear in Your Jewish Life

I have to share with you a certain speech given by Rav Moshe Weinberger at the Philadelphia Community Kollel (former link was to this shiur - now different). It was given at exacly this time of year, right after parshas Behar and leading up to Shavuos. If you're not already a "chassid" of Rav Weinberger, (or even if you are, as a reminder) you have to hear this speech. Much of it is the same as the shiur I first heard by him at a Hashevaynu Retreat about 10 years ago, that first made me "fall in love" with what he was teaching. When you listen, you will see why.

CLICK HERE to listen to or download the shiur. This has a couple of classic stories from Rav Weinberger, including the hilarious "jukim" story, and the must-listen "Lost Horse" story. It is so fundamental to Yiddishkeit to hear this shiur.

Update 3/16/10: It was pointed out by a commenter and in an e-mail today that the shiur that I had previously linked to here is no longer hosted by the Philadeplphia Community Kollel website. Therefore, I just changed the link above to another shiur which is equally fundamental. Enjoy.

A big thank you to Yoni Henner who (originally) pointed me to this shiur!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Yitzi Mayer)

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Lag BaOmer as Hilula for Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai - R' Zvi Leshem

Received by e-mail from Rav Zvi Leshem



Rav Zvi Leshem

Friday is Lag B’Omer (LBO), the 33rd day between Pesach and Shavuot. On this day marriages and haircuts are permitted, as the 24,000 students of Rebbe Akiva, who died from a plague due to internal dissention, ceased dying. In addition LBO is celebrated as Hilula d’Rashbi, the Yarzeit of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai, student of Rebbe Akiva and author of the Zohar, the foremost book of the Kabbala. Bonfires are lit throughout Israel, especially at his grave in Meron, children have their first haircuts and a great celebration is held.

According to the Bnai Yissaschar and Rav Zaddok HaKohen, Rashbi not only died on LBO, he was born on the same day. It is brought in the name of the Ari that Rebbe Akiva ordained Rashbi and his colleagues on LBO, thus insuring the continuity of the oral law after the death of his earlier students. The Gamara (Shabbat 33(!)b) narrates how Rashbi and his son hid in a cave for twelve years after he fled the Roman decree of death. There, covered in sand, fed by a carob tree and drinking from a spring, the greatest secrets of the Tora were composed. Emerging from the cave, Rashbi perceived Jewish farmers working. Dismayed by their lack of Tora study, he “burned them up”! His shock is understandable in light of his position that Jews should only study Tora and not work. He is considered the one person whose Tora study is so great that he need not pray (although he did pray in the cave). Nonetheless they are ordered to return to the cave for another year, after which a mellower Rashbi emerges, whose love for every simple Jew is apparent. This too, writes the Aruch HaShulchan, was on LBO!

The Zohar relates how on the last day of his life, the sun stood still as Rashbi revealed the greatest secrets of the Tora. Dying happily, he encouraged his followers to make his Yarzeit a celebration. Thus the Ari, the Ohr HaChaim and other great Kabbalists would journey to Meron to celebrate on LBO. We light bonfires, explains the Bnai Yissaschar, in honor of Rashbi, known as Bozina Kadisha, the Holy Candle, and in honor of the Zohar, the Book of Splendor. We also remember the great light of the day that the sun did not set, and mark the final stage of preparation for the giving of the Tora on Shavuot. Seventeen days before, on LBO, the light of that Tora begins to shine. Thus Rav Baruch of Mezebizh would finish the Zohar on LBO, and in his Bet Midrash they would dance hakafot for the Simchat Tora of Kabbala. Rav Zadok tells us that as Rashbi continued the Oral Law of Rebbe Akiva, himself killed by the Romans; this is a day when every Jew has great potential for internalizing the Oral Law in all its manifestations. It seems to me that the reason for haircuts (as well as the ancient Sephardic custom of burning garments) is to symbolize our desire to throw off externalities (chizoniut) and connect with the deeper reality (penimiut) that Rashbi teaches.

Parshat Bechukotai begins Im Bechukotai Talachu, If you will walk in My statutes. The Mai HaShiloach, uses play on words on the root chkk, which in addition to statutes, means to engrave. He writes, so that My statutes will be ingraved upon thy heart. The Tora that flows from the heart is expressed when we reach the level of spiritual perfection that enables us to naturally flow with the mizvot in all aspects of our lives. Rashbi is the greatest example of this aspect of Tora. May we merit to appreciate the holiness of LBO and to internalize Rashbi’s message. May we merit that HaShem’s statutes will be engraved upon our hearts. Shabbat Shalom.

(Picture courtesy of a bit of light)

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Lag BaOmer - Why Celebrate on the Yohrtzeit of a Tzadik?

Anonymous Guest Posting by "Marbitz Torah"

The Simcha of Lag Baomer is a strange concept. The Shulchan Aruch says on the day A Tzaddik dies you make a fast. Where did this day of happiness come from? The GR"A says it was the day that the Students of Reb Akiva Stopped dying. The Question still stands. Reb Shimon Bar Yochai died on this day, so what is the Celebration about?

The answer brought by the Kadmonim is that Reb Shimon Bar Yochai himself said there should be a celebration on the day of his death. The Shach in Hilchos Aveilus also brings down a similar premise that if a father says not to act like an Avel the full 12 months we follow his command. This is because the whole Halacha of mourning is only in honor of the parent. Therefore if he asks you not to act in a manner of mourning then of course you listen.

Now we must understand why did Reb Shimon say to celebrate his death when we know when a Tzaddik dies it like the Destruction of the Beis Hamikdash? There is yet another problem with the Lag Baomer Celebrations the Shoel Umashiv and the Chasam Sofer in their Seforim in a very strong language say that the Minhag of burning clothing which is prevalent at the Kever of Reb Shimon Bar Yochai in Miron is a problem of Baal Taschis (Destroying things without Purpose) and worse Darchei Amori (Behaving as a Idol worshipper). In defense we have a Mesorah that the Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh followed the Minhag of burning the clothing.

The Aruch Hashulchan provides another reason for the Celebration of Lag Ba'omer; that that it was the day Reb Shimon and his son where finally allowed to leave the cave in which they where hiding. A remez to this concept is that the Gemora that says the story of Reb Shimon leaving the cave is on Daf: Lamed Gimmel. The Mon also started falling on Lag Ba'omer. There is a Zohar in Parshas Hazinu that says that the day that Reb Shimon said over the secrets of the torah was on Lag Ba'omer and that was the day he died ,The students where afraid he would die before he would give over all the secrets, so when it happened they where overjoyed. In his final conversation he said "The whole day is in my control and now I have the right to say over all the secrets before I go to the next world in order that I not be embarrassed when I go up to Shmayim."

There are two thousand two hundred and twenty five Teachings from Reb Shimon Bar Yochai in Sifra, Bavli, and Yerushalmi. But the Secrets of the torah the SOD he was only able to tell over the day he died.

In conclusion, what is the answer to all the above questions? The reason the day the Tzaddik dies is such a sad day that it is considered similar to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash is because of the loss of Torah to the people in this world. The Tzaddik is going to Gan Eden. The only people who lose out are the people he left behind in this world. The day Reb Shimon died is fundamentally different. That is because as the Zohar says the secrets of the Torah the actual text of the Zohar was able to be said and copied over on this day so it is not a day of sadness and fasting but a day like Purim and Shavous a day of receiving the torah of Nistar (the hidden aspects of Torah) and therefore a day full of joy happiness and a celebration.

The significance of the Mon was as the Mamar Chazal says the Mon was only given to those who ate the Mon. Now to the final question why burn the clothes? When Reb Shimon bar Yochai left the cave everything one looked at got BURNT thereafter the other would look at it and return it to the way it was. The reason why everything was burnt up was that they where so separated from the frivolity of this world they could not stand to look at it. The burning of the clothes symbolized that we should aspire to be like Reb Shimon and try to separate ourselves from Gashmius of this world and try to live on a higher spiritual level. The burning of clothing is being allowed to teach a moral lesson would still seem to be a problem. This too can now be answered.

The gemara in Meseches Tomid states when the Kohanim had Guard duty and they feel asleep on the job the Gemara says "Reshus Hayah Lisrof Es bigadav" Therefore we plainly see a source that allows the burning of clothing to teach a lesson in Halacha. This is as long as there is a lesson to be learnt hence the Chasam Sofer and the Shoel Umashiv are answered.

There is also the question of what is the reason for the fires? The simple answer given is just as we know we light a small candle for a soul on a Yahrtzeit like the Chazal say "Ner Hashem Nishmas Adam" therefore for a great soul we light a large fire. There is another answer given that Reb Shimon was on such a level that with his Ohr Hatorah he was able to stop the Night from coming therefore we light fires to symbolize the light of his torah that is still here.

(Picture courtesy of chairotel)

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rav Mordechai Eliyahu Needs Our Tefillos

Received from Yitz at Heichael Haneginah:

15:36 PM - 16 Iyar 5768, May 21, '08
Rabbi Eliyahu Suffers Stroke

( Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, former chief rabbi of Israel and a widely respected leader of the national religious movement suffered a stroke a short time ago. He is partly unconscious and is hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit of Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem.

Psalms are to be said for a recovery for Rabbi Mordechai Tzemach ben Mazal Tov.

-Dixie Yid

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Refa'einu - Part 2 - Hashem's Healing - Audio Shiur

This past Sunday, the Baltimore Community Kollel Tefilla Chaburah enjoyed its second shiur from Reb Yerachmiel on the topic of berchas "Refa'ainu", the 8th bracha of our cherished Shemoneh Esrei.

In preparation for Lag Ba'Omer, Reb Yerachmiel drew from the Zohar Ha'Kadosh and utilized Rav Shimshon Pincus' heartfelt and emotional writing to explain the distinction between Hashem's healing through His many sheluchim (doctors, medicine, exercising, etc.) and Hashem's healing via His "Personal" involvement. Also discussed was Rav Pincus' profound chiddush regarding "how" Hashem's "Personal" healing actually works!

Listen and you'll be treated to a beautiful combination of Torah designed to awaken an awe-inspiring "Lovesickness" and longing for "Kirvas Elokim Le Tov"; closeness to Hashem.

You can CLICK HERE to listen to the shiur. You can "left click" to listen to the shiur right away, or "right click" and select "Save Target As."

-Dixie Yid

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Don't Bite the Hand that Feeds You - The Ultimate Partner

The head partner at the law firm in which I am a Law Clerk seems to have decided to take me under his wing. In between discussing various assignments related to his law practice, he teaches me the ropes in various aspects of practicing law, which I very much appreciate and it's a great experience.

The other day, he told me about the politics related to being a partner in a "big firm." (His wife is the managing partner in a "big firm.") He told me that there is a heirarchy of power among the partners in the firm. And he said that this heirarchy of power is reflected in the assigned seating arrangements at partner meetings. I've put together this diagram up above to help my dear readers understand what I mean. The #1 most powerful partner in the firm sits at the center head of the conference table. The 2nd and 3rd most powerful partners sit on either side of him. And the newer and less powerful partners sit increasingly farther and farther away from him. Assuming a 19 partner firm, the diagram above illustrates, number ordered according to power-position, how the assigned seating arrangement would look.

He said that one's prestige and position as a partner is carefully guarded. New partners can only be chosen when one of the partners nominates him and then the rest of the partners take a vote on whether that associate will be elevated to partner or not. Therefore, since a partner doesn't want to lose face by appointed a partner who doesn't get "confirmed," he makes sure to pre-garner all the votes necessary to get that person chosen as partner before he nominates him (or her).

Since that new partner's status as partner is due to the efforts of that one other partner who put his name behind getting him nominated as partner, there is a constant status of gratitude that is owed to that partner. The junior partner is then expected to tow the line on any position his nominating partner takes. If he's ever disagree publicly with a strong position taken by his nominating partner, he will likely find himself out of the firm within a couple of years. The junior partner would be considered an ingrate and one who has bitten the hand that fed him.

This got me to thinking. Just as one would never bite the hand of the partner who fed him his partner position, kal va'chomer, how much the more so, should one be conscious of the feeling of gratitute to Hashem for everything that Hashem has given him?!

A senior partner may "give" a person their position. But it is Hashem who decided to use that senior partner as the kli to give you the job. And it is Hashem who gives you your parnasa. So just as you would hesitate going against the will of your nominating partner, who is only a vessel for your parnasa, you should certainly not do anything against the will of the "Ultimate Partner," the Melech Malchei Hamelachim, Hakadosh Baruch Hu!

And it would follow from that, that if your senior partner asks you to take a position which the Ultimate Partner disagrees with, that the Ultimate Partner should certainly overrule the mere "senior partner!"

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Me)

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Satisfaction from Child Raising and Housekeeping - Part 3

Part 3
Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern

(You can see Part 1 here)

The Jewish Home

The Zohar writes "When the Jewish nation was building the Mishkan, the craftsmen verbally dedicated each item saying, 'This is for the Mishkan, this is for the Paroches,' etc. This was done in order to sanctify their labor. Similarly, when a person builds his home, he should say ‘this is (being built) for avodas Hashem’ (meaning that the home will be utilized for serving Hashem to attain spiritual growth). He will then merit Divine assistance, and sanctity and peace will enter his home." (Parshas Tazria with translation of Hasulam pp. 146, 150)
The Zohar is conveying a very important message: The sanctity of our homes can echo the holiness of the Mishkan.

Moreover, we can actually merit having the Shechina (Divine Presence) in our homes. Chazal write that the Shechina resided in the tent of Avraham Avinu and was indicated by the presence of a cloud above his tent (Midrash Rabba Bereishis 60:16, Rashi 24:67). After our forefathers passed away, the Shechina no longer had a place to reside until the Mishkan was erected when our nation reached the spiritual level of our forefathers (Ramban, end of Bereishis).
Rav Avigdor Miller notes that their tent had no ceiling, floor or beams and was small enough to fold together and transport on the back of camels (Awake My Glory, p. 339).

Thus, by creating the proper atmosphere in the home, a family can transform their plain and simple home into a Sanctuary with the presence of the Shechina in it. (This is similar to the concept that the shechina dwells in a home where there is shalom bayis – family harmony, Sotah 17a and commentary of Eyun Yaakov ad. loc.).

An additional factor which personifies the sanctity of the Jewish Home is the custom of placing salt on the table when eating. The Rama explains that this is because the table is like the mizbayach (altar) and the food is compared to the korbanos (sacrifices). The Mishna Brura, quoting chazal, explains that during the time of the Bais HaMikdash, the sacrifices atoned for our sins. Today, our table atones for them (either in the merit of serving food to the poor or the Torah discussed at the table.)

Thus, the Jewish Women’s workplace, which is her home, is unique because it has the potential of being a miniature sanctuary and merit the presence of the Shechina with the table and food as substitutes for the mizbayach and korbanos.

The Eishes Chayil

An accomplished woman is referred to as an eishes chayil, a term taken from the well known chapter in Mishlei (31:10-31). The commentary of the Metzudos translates chayil as zriza ve’yeshara, which perhaps can be loosely translated as conscientious, skilled, and honest – traits that certainly befit the title. (The standard translation of "woman of valor" appears to be incorrect. Valor is defined as "strength of mind in braving danger," which more befits a soldier and is totally out of context in how the above chapter describes her.)

By perusing through Shlomo Hamelech's description of an eishes chayil, we discover that she is portrayed and characterized as an efficient housewife.

The following explanation is based on the commentary of the Metzudos:

"Batach bo lev baala" etc. – her husband relies upon her – she efficiently manages the home so that there is nothing lacking.

"Dorsha tzemer u’fishtim" etc. – she seeks wool and flax etc., she tends to her family's clothing needs.

"Ha’yisa ke’a'niyos sochair" etc. – she travels like a merchant's ship to bring sustenance to her family.

"Vatakom be'od layla" etc. – She arises during the night to feed her household.

"Yodeh'ha shilcha bachishor" etc. – Her hands work with sewing and weaving utensils, etc. Even though she travels to earn a livelihood, nevertheless, she doesn't remove herself from her household duties.

"Tzofia halichos baiso" etc. Rashi explains that she keeps a watchful eye over the activities in her home, meaning that she is the mashgiach of her home.

Thus, it is quite evident that even though the Eishes chayil assists with earning a livelihood for her family, nevertheless, she does not neglect her maternal and household duties and obligations.

The Jewish woman's career is tending to the needs of her family as a loyal wife, mother and homemaker; and, if she must go to work, the purpose is to help support the family, and not to look for a career outside her home.

(Picture courtesy of karjo)

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rav Moshe Weinberger on "Da Es Atzmecha," Getting to Know Me

The following words from Rav Moshe Weinberger, from Cong. Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY, were given over to introduce the sefer Da Es Atzmecha, which Rav Weinberger is giving a weekly shiur in (which is also available on their website) in an e-mail from the Aish Kodesh Audio Division:

On Shabbos afternoon, Parshas Kedoshim 5768, Rav Weinberger began a new series of shiurim based on the sefer "Da Es Atzmechah" (Know Yourself) by the author of the s'forim "Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh," Rav Itamar Schwartz of Yerushalayim. Rebbi repeated the shiur during the week so that it could be recorded.

In the words of Rav Weinberger, "The s'forim hakedoshim tell us that every introduction to the sefer is the neshamah of the sefer; that's the place where the author, in a few words is giving himself over in such a way that we understand who he is...and what is he trying to convey to us."

For this very reason, the members of the Audio Division decided to transcribe the first few minutes, Rav Weinberger's introduction to the first shiur, in their entirety. Hebrew words are translated following their first appearance.
Note: Other than removing repeated words of phrases, no editing was done. Nonetheless, any inaccuracies or mistakes are solely the fault of the transcriber.

"Over the past year and a half or two we've been learning here in the Beis Medrash some of the basic yesodos (fundamentals) of the kochos hanefesh (powers of the soul); we're learning different pieces from Tzaddikim (righteous men), from different sforim (books); and before that I've been giving for almost two years shiurim (talks) on the inyan (topic) of menuchas hanefesh (inner peace). It has become very clear to us over time, how, in order to achieve menuchas ha'nefesh, we really have to understand what the nefesh (soul) is.

And it's hashgachah pratis (personal divine attention), something that is very clear to me that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has sent into my personal life and into our lives, a Jew who is able to write sforim that have the most incredible way of opening up the most difficult inyanim and laying them out before our eyes in a very beautiful and clear way. Therefore I was so grateful to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, that davka (especially), as we were coming to the crossroads of this entire sugiya (specific topic) which is the sugiya of our lives, of who we are, the entire sugiya of the nefesh (soul) and of kochos hanefesh, to be able to achieve menuchas hanefesh and to live our lives in the way that each and everyone of us is supposed to, each person in her way, in his way, that exactly at the time of the crossroads, Hakadosh Baruch Hu sent this particular sefer, "Da Es Atzmechah" (Know Yourself) written by the author of "Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh" which is very different from all his other s'forim.

[Note: During the introduction on Shabbos, Rebbi also said: "I believe that klal Yisrael (the Jewish nation) has been waiting for this sefer since Ma'amad Har Sina (receving the Torah at Mount Sinai)"] Those of you who are familiar with his s'forim - we've been learning them very carefully over these past few years - will notice immediately how different this sefer is. The mechaber (author) himself discusses this in the p'sichah, in the introduction to the sefer that we are going to be learning in a minute.

Even though the sefer actually consists of two parts, and, l'chatchilah (a priori) the mechaber wanted us to begin with cheilek (part) aleph, otherwise it would be cheilek beis; so it must be that he wanted us to learn cheilek aleph; for reaons that I'm not going to go into right now, and I don't believe it's necessary, we're going to begin with the second cheilek. I personally see that the second cheilek is what is nachutz (urgent) for us right now, it's what's urgently needed for us right now, and it's the hemshech (continuation) of what we've been working on these past few years.

You know that the s'forim hakedoshim (holy writings) tell us that every introduction to the sefer is the neshamah (deepest soul) of the sefer; that's the place where the mechaber, or the author, in a few words is giving himself over in such a way that we understand who he is, and what he wants from this sefer; what is he trying to convey to us. What does he want us to learn from this sefer and how does he want us to grow from this sefer. So the second cheilek begins on page 65; and he writes a p'sichah klallis (general introduction), he writes an introduction to the second cheilek which is really an independent sefer; it could have been printed separately. So he writes a p'sichah klallis to this.

Two technical things: a) I'm going to try as much as possible, and Hakadosh Baruch Hu should help me, as much as possible to explain the sefer and to learn the sefer. Whereas in the past and even in the present when I learn other sforim with the chevreh (group of friends), I'm adding a lot of things that come to my mind as we're learning, from the Parshah (weekly portion), from the Yom Tov (holiday), from that time, things that are olim al haperek (are connected to this matter), things that are noge'ah (of concern) to that particular time; and as a result of that things can take much longer and I understand that it can often disturb or disrupt the natural flow that was intended by the author of the sefer. In this particular case, because of the nature of the limud (study), I'm going to try especially hard not to introduce outside inyanim, as much as a temptation there is to do that, because the entire Torah, and everything in Torah is connected, one to the other and that's our whole simchah (joy) in learning Torah. But it would be very counterproductive to do this. In the earlier years all the years, I'd give shiurim on Shabbos, a separate shiur each shiur on something that was noge'ah to that particular Parshah, that particular time. And then it was sort of left up to each and everyone of us to weave these inyanim together.

The author here is basically introducing us to ourselves and who we are; and as we'll see in a few minutes in this hakdamah already, without having that information, that yecholes, that ability to enter into ourselves, da es atzmechah, our avodas Hashem (divine service) and the years that we spend in this world could chalilah, chalilah (heaven forbid) be l'vatalah (a waste).

Also, at this time of the year, meaning after Pessach until after the Yamim Nora'im (Days of Awe), the shiurim are given on Shabbos, and that's really when I feel they should be given, and it's very Shabbosdig; in order that we should be able to chazer, to review, I'm going to be giving, as now, a review, a chazarah (review) during the week. The original shiur is Shabbosdig, and of course, Shabbos itself infuses every single word with the or (light) of Shabbos. So Hashem Yisborach should help that on these chazarah shiurim , that at least the yesod of what the mechaber is conveying to us, Hashem Yisborach should help me to give that over."

We hope that you will be as inspired as we were.
The Aish Kodesh Audio Division.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of a Talmid of Rav Shwartz)

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cosmology Explained According to Torah - Video Series - Bar Ilan

These great cartoon videos explain, according to Torah and Science, the nature of Cosmology, evolution, the Big Bang, and the Creation of the Universe. It's based on a book by Prof. Nathan Aviezer. Worth watching! HT to Rabbi Bechhoffer.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of XYZ)

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Which Is First? Self Nulification or Self Knowledge?

Here's what I wrote in response to a post at A Simple Jew, entitled: The Moment Your "I" Disappears. Any thoughts?

Everything you're saying is true.

With that said, you cannot be mevatel your "I" to G-d before you even know who that "I" is that you are being mevatel.

I came to this realization when trying to understand something that Rav Itamar Shwartz, shlita, wrote at the End of Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Vol. 2. He wrote there, in the context of making everything that you do "Lishma," i.e. for the sake of giving nachas ruach to Hashem, that one first must clarify to himself why he is doing everything, and only then can he begin to work on being mevatel all of the other reasons and only doing things for the sake of giving nachas ruach to Hashem.

I wondered why this is. If the whole purpose is to rid one's self of all of the external "I's" reasons for doing things, then why not just immediately begin working on davening and working on serving Hashem for Hashem's sake.

The reason, ostensibly, is that until I understand all of the personal reasons why I do various mitzvos, I can't work on being mevatel them. Until I understand what it is that I must rid myself of, I can't target and eliminate those aspects of "myself."

Although you are right that total bitul is the ideal, the vast majority of us will not reach that goal if we skip the necessary pre-condition, which is understanding the self that we are to be mevatel.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Shavuos Learnathon for One Family Fund for Terror Victims

Received by e-mail:

There are two main goals of the project; trying to get shuls, schools and yeshivot across the Jewish world learning b'achdut (no political content at all, the aim is to purely increase the learning of Torah worldwide), while raising funds to support the families & students of the Mercaz HaRav High School.

Our project website is also now live at

We are also working on Ivrit versions of the material, and also a version which does not require email or internet access to participate (rather we will distribute paper flyers & forms in charedi communities and participants can drop forms and money collected to our office or pay by credit card over the phone).

I have also attached a draft of our starter pack that shuls and schools can use to facilitate their participation in this project.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like further information.

Kol Tuv,

Yaakov Cohney
Mob: 054-262-9454 (Israel)

-Dixie Yid

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Collection of Divrei Torah on Parshas Bahar - Anonymous Guest Post



וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה בְּהַר סִינַי לֵאמֹר דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לָכֶם וְשָׁבְתָה הָאָרֶץ שַׁבָּת לַיהוָה שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים תִּזְרַע שָׂדֶךָ
What is the significance of seven years? The Matteh Moshe has an interesting answer. The solar Year is 365 days .Within this time period there are 52 Shabbosim. Therefore it comes out that the number of Shabbosim in a Shmitah cycle is 364 days rounded you get the Shmitah year. The Chida has a more exact answer. The Gemara in Brachos says Rava told his students during Nissan and Tishrei don’t come to Yeshiva to learn, work the fields so you have the means to learn for the rest of the year. If you do the math over the six years it adds up to twelve months. Therefore the seventh Year is Shemita.

וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֶת-חֻקֹּתַי וְאֶת-מִשְׁפָּטַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם וִישַׁבְתֶּם עַל-הָאָרֶץ לָבֶטַח
Why does the torah change the language from the חוקים to the משפטים by the חוקים it says עֲשִׂיתֶם and by the משפטים it says תִּשְׁמְרוּ? Rabbi Frand offers an interesting Pshat. The difference between a חוק and a משפט is that a חוק is without logic we do it because Hashem told us too. A משפט is a logical law like not murdering or stealing. Now the change in the Posuk makes sense. A חוקwhich we do without logic and are done without reflection into its logical reasoning we say to do it ַעֲשִׂיתֶםor to continue doing it. Then there are משפטים which are logical, but here we are thrown a loop if the logic does not make sense to our modern sensitivities we are no longer so sure. The advocacy for euthanasia is a simple case in point as is abortion, so maybe murder is not so simple after all the a person is suffering, and the child will just be a drain on society. Stealing is also not so simple we all grew up on Robin Hood. His motto was steal from the rich and give too the poor this makes perfect sense to most of us .Now it becomes clear that when it comes to משפטים we have to watch them and make sure we don’t loose our torah Ethics to our modern Sensibilities.

וְכִי תֹאמְרוּ מַה-נֹּאכַל בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת הֵן לֹא נִזְרָע וְלֹא נֶאֱסֹף אֶת-תְּבוּאָתֵנוּ.
The question seems to be wrong, in the seventh year we eat the crop of the sixth year so what is the posuk asking what will be in the seventh year, it is the wrong question? The Sefer Peh Kodesh has an amazing Psychological insight. The Gemara in Yoma saysאינו דומה מי שיש לו פת בסלו למי שאין לו פת בסלו .That means that a person who knows that he is provided for in the future is more psychologically fulfilled. Now we understand the Posuk easily. It is talking about the seventh year but since in his mind he is concerned about the upcoming year he is unfulfilled so Hashem in the next posuk
says וְצִוִּיתִי אֶת-בִּרְכָתִי לָכֶם so he knows this year and next year he will be fulfilled.

כִּי-לִי בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲבָדִים עֲבָדַי הֵם אֲשֶׁר-הוֹצֵאתִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם
Why does the Posuk have a double wording עֲבָדִים עֲבָדַי? There is a din in the Rambam that a slave immerses himself and he has in mind for his freedom he goes out free. The din only applies when he was sold by his previous owner, but if was sold by the government "גבהו הגוי בחובו" his intention by the immersion does not affect the status of the Slave and he does not go free. In our Posuk Hashem is saying I bought you as Slaves but you can't immerse to be free like the din of a slave because I bought you as a governmental purchase מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.

אֶת-כַּסְפְּךָ לֹא-תִתֵּן לוֹ בְּנֶשֶׁךְ וּבְמַרְבִּית לֹא-תִתֵּן אָכְלֶךָ. אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר-הוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם לָתֵת לָכֶם אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן לִהְיוֹת לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים
The Yalkut says on this Pasuk whoever lends with interest it is as if he is saying he has nothing to do with Yetizas Mitzrayim. What is the connection between Yetizas Mitzrayim and interest? The first answer is if someone gives you a lot of money and tells you my gift is conditional. The condition is if any of my children need money in the future you will lend it to them without interest so to says the Chasam Sofer Hashem when we left Mitzrayim Hashem took us out with great wealth. There was a condition in the torah lending without interest to Jews who are Hashem's children. This is the connection between Yetizas Mitzrayim and interest The Darash Vihaiyun has another answer. They ask why where the Mitzrayim Punished for enslaving the Jews after all Avraham was told in Golus the Egyptians would ועבדום וענו אותם the Ravad answers they added the work was בפרך and now we understand the connection between Yetizas Mitzrayim and Interest that is the Egyptians worked us בפרך hence taking interest.

וּבַשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן יִהְיֶה לָאָרֶץ שַׁבָּת לַיהוָה שָׂדְךָ לֹא תִזְרָע וְכַרְמְךָ לֹא תִזְמֹר
The Har Tzvi points out a inconsistency in our Parsha. When talking about Yovel all the Issurim are written in plural לא תורעו ולא תקחו .Then by Shmitah it speaks in singular. The answer is simple the Din of Yovel is Only when most Jews are in Israel the din of Shmitah is if even one Jew is there he must keep Shemita. Therefore the Posukim are exactly to this point.

וְקִדַּשְׁתֶּם, אֵת שְׁנַת הַחֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה, וּקְרָאתֶם דְּרוֹר בָּאָרֶץ, לְכָל-יֹשְׁבֶיהָ; יוֹבֵל הִוא, תִּהְיֶה לָכֶם, וְשַׁבְתֶּם אִישׁ אֶל-אֲחֻזָּתוֹ, וְאִישׁ אֶל-מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ תָּשֻׁבוּ
The Pnei Yeshouah asks what does it mean לְכָל-יֹשְׁבֶיהָ.It is only the slaves are going free? He answers based on a Gemara in Kiddushin. The Gemara says "whoever buys himself a Jewish slave Buys Himself a Master". This is Because Halacha says if there is one pillow in the house the servant gets it, and the servant must be served food of equal or greater quality then his master. Therefore now the Posuk is clear לְכָל even the masters of the slaves.

לֹא-תַעֲשׂוּ לָכֶם אֱלִילִם וּפֶסֶל וּמַצֵּבָה לֹא-תָקִימוּ לָכֶם וְאֶבֶן מַשְׂכִּית לֹא תִתְּנוּ בְּאַרְצְכֶם לְהִשְׁתַּחֲו‍ֹת עָלֶיהָ כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֶת-שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ וּמִקְדָּשִׁי תִּירָאוּ
The Chasam Sofer asks if Hashem dislikes stone floors why did he command that the Beis Hamikdash be made with them and what is the connection to Shabbos? The answer is simple stone floors in the Beis Hamikdash are needed because of the blood of the Korbanos would muddy a sand floor. The connection to Shabbos is because on Shabbos you would need to clean it up. That would mean you would be Desecrating Shabbos it is this very reason that Hashem wants the stone floors. Therefore the Parsha ends talking about the stone floors and Shabbos.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

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Berachos "Refa'ainu"- Nafshi Cholas Ahavasecha - Audio Shiur

Here is the latest edition of Reb Yerachmiel's Community Kollel of Baltimore Tefillah Chaburah!

This past Sunday the Chaburah began its first shiur on the 8th bracha of Shemoneh Esrei, berchas "Refa'ainu", the blessing in which we beg Hashem to heal us, and Am Yisroel, in both body and soul. Quoting from the Sefer Chareidim and translating from Rav Shimshon Pincus' zt"l sefer "Nefesh Shimshon" on "Seder Ha'Tefilah", Reb Yerachmiel utilized Rav Pincus' heartfelt and emotional writing to also awaken our longing to be "Lovesick" for Hashem; "Nafshi Cholas Ahavasecha".

CLICK HERE to listen to the shiur. You can either "left click" to listen to the shiur now. Or "right click" and select "Save Target As" to download the shiur.

-Dixie Yid

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Monday, May 12, 2008

New Blog Explaning the Words to Well-Known Songs!

I want to share with y'all a relatively new blog that I found called "Know the Words," by a blogger called "CR." CR bascially set it up to address the fact that many people sing songs at Chasunahs and elsewhere, but they don't know what they're singing about and aren't able to be "mechavein libo lashamayim" as much because of that. To address this, he takes 2 or 3 songs per week and writes up a great background on what they mean, where they come from, and what they're about. Hatzlacha raba CR! Check it out!

-Dixie Yid

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One Cannot Know Hashem Until He First Knows Himself

My rendition of some words from my rebbe:

Rav Kook said, "'אם אין 'אני', אין 'הוא', ואם אין 'הוא', אין 'אתה." "If there is no "I," there can be no 'He.' And if there is no 'He,' then there is no 'You.'"

Pronouns like "You" and "He" imply a relationship between the one who is speaking and the one being referred to by the pronoun. If I do not know who "I" am, then it is meaningless to talk about "him" or talk to "You." When I say "Baruch Atah Hashem" in a bracha, Rav Kook is saying that it is senseless to say "You" to Hashem when I don't even know who the "I" is who is supposedly talking to Hashem!

We know from many places, including the Ramchal, and methodologically guided by the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim, that our avodah in this world is to be misdaveik, cleave ourselves to the Master of the World. However, If my whole avodas Hashem is just a collection of imitations of others, doing things that I've seen in seforim or aspects of avodas Hashem that I've read about which were shiach to big Tzadikim, but none of what I've done has been ME doing it for the sake of who I am, then it was never me who connected to Hashem. It was someone else.

If there is no "I," there can be no "You" in my "Baruch Atah Hashem."

The ultimate goal is indeed to connect to Hashem. But as I've written about before, until one knows himself, he won't have anyone to whom to connect Hashem to. So the pre-requisite avodah for many of us should be (in addition to our regular avodas Hashem, which should of course not be suspended) attaining self knowledge.

This is because when we can finally uncover our neshoma, our soul, we will know ourselves. And when we open the door to our own soul, inside of it we will find the "nishmas kol haneshamos," the Soul of all souls, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the Holy One.

My rebbe highly recommends the sefer by the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh author, "Da Es Atzmecha," "Know Yourself." He says that one could learn thousands of seforim and never find any guide to this pre-requisite avoda of self-knowledge which is as clear and simple as this sefer. (I think he's saying that from un-exaggerated personal experience!) He told the author that Klal Yisroel has been waitinf for this sefer since Ma'amad Har Sinai. He also recommends starting with chelek beis, the second half of the sefer, before going on to the first chelek.

IY"H, I think this needs to be a priority.

-Dixie Yid

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rav Kook's Version of Hatikva, "HaEmunah"

Received by e-mail from Neil at Modern Uberdox:

Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook did not particularly care for Hatikvah (The
Hope). He objected to its inherent secularism. However, Rav Kook respected the
secular Zionists and felt there was an aspect of holiness to their work, even if
they did not intend it. He therefore abstained from opposing the use of Hatikvah
as an anthem. Nevertheless, Rav Kook wrote an alternate poem in response to
Hatikvah, entitled HaEmunah (The Faith), and hoped that it would ultimately
replace Hatikvah as the Israeli national anthem. That has not occurred and
Hatikvah has since been further sanctified by its continuous use over many
decades. With time, it has taken on a distinct religious patina even for the
Religious Zionist community. It is nevertheless appropriate that we study and
reflect on Rav Kook's poem and the Torah values it embodies, particularly on Yom
Haatzmaut. The text of HaEmuna appears above in Hebrew, English transliteration
and English translation:

HaEmunah (transliteration)

Le'ad chaya bi'lvaveynu
ha'emuna ha'ne-emana
Lashuv el eretz
Ir bah David chana.

Shama naavod le'goraleynu
av hamon
shama nichye chayenu
chayay adat mi manah.

Shama naavod
be'chedva be'gila ubirnana
shama na'ale leragleinu
paamim be'shana.

Torat chayim chemdateynu
mipi elyon nitna
netzach hee nachalateynu
mimidbar matana.

(English translation)

Eternally there lives in our hearts,
the steadfast faith
to return to our holy land,
the city where David

There we shall work our inheritance,
[which the] father of
many [nations] acquired,
there we shall live our life
the life of the
innumerable community.

There we shall serve our God
with joy,
happiness and song
there we shall pilgrimage
three times each year.

Torah of life is our desire,
given from heavenly mouth,
it is our heritage,
A gift from the desert
-Dixie Yid

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Friday, May 9, 2008

New Website! - R' Pinchas Koritzer & R' Refael of Bershad

Shoshana Bershad has come out with a new website which presents her extensive research into the Tzadikim Reb Pinchas Koritzer and Reb Refael of Bershad. It's worth a look-see!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of A Simple Jew)

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Guest Dvar Torah for Emor - Why Give Thanks

Received this Dvar Torah in a comment to this post from this morning. Can you tell me who wrote this?

Parshas Emor

וְכִי-תִזְבְּחוּ זֶבַח-תּוֹדָה לַיהוָה לִרְצֹנְכֶם תִּזְבָּחוּ

The Posuk structure is very strange what does it mean "When you give a Korban it should be willingly? The answer is Profound the Korban we are referring to is a Todah which is given after going through a life threatening experience. The person might say to himself, why should I thank God After all the reason I got out of this situation is because God put me into this situation? The Posuk foresees this situation and says no that is not the case you must give it לִרְצֹנְכֶם, and you must recognize that even though in your limited life view it was a negative experience your belief in Hashem tells you needed it.

בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי הַזֶּה חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים לַיהוָה
וּלְקַחְתֶּם לָכֶם בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן פְּרִי עֵץ הָדָר כַּפֹּת תְּמָרִים וַעֲנַף עֵץ-עָבֹת וְעַרְבֵי-נָחַל וּשְׂמַחְתֶּם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם שִׁבְעַת יָמִים

The Sefer Bnei Yissachar has some very interesting Remazim for Succos. It is said that the Lulav includes all of the Torah. The Bnei Yissachar Illustrates this point .The Torah starts with the word בְּרֵאשִׁית and ends with the words לְעֵינֵי כָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵלthe navi starts with וַיְהִי אַחֲרֵי מוֹת מֹשֶׁה and ends in Divrie Hayomim with אֱלֹהָיו עִמּוֹ וְיָעַל you put together the last and first letters you get Lulav. It is also interesting to note that Lulav is an Acronym for the words וטהר לבנו לעבדך באמת take the first letters and again you have Lulav. Another interesting one comes from the word Sukkah the structure of the letters can actually teach you the Halachos of how many walls are required to have a kosher Sukkah. There are 3 types of Kosher Succos one a Samech which has 4 walls first letter of the word Sukkah. Then a Mem which has three and half walls the second type of kosher Sukkah and then a Heh 2 and a partial wall the Third type of Kosher Sukkah and making up the word Sukkah.

וּקְרָאתֶם בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם כָּל-מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ חֻקַּת עוֹלָם בְּכָל-מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם
The Posuk makes a very strange comment "and you call in middle of this day" what is its significance? The Brisker Rav answers based on a Rambam months are sanctified based on two witnesses. It would happen every once in a while that the witnesses would come late and say a while back I saw the moon and it was Rosh Chodesh. The Rambam says in this situation we declare the day the witnesses saw the moon Rosh Chodesh. This means in middle of the day it can theoretically become a day of Yom Tov. This Posuk is talking about Shavous which is not based on Rosh Chodesh but on Sefirah meaning once Pesach happened count Sefirah and in the end is Shavous. Therefore our Posuk says בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה on Shavous is the only day you can be מִקֹדֶשׁ in middle of the day because it is definitely Shavous because Rosh Chodesh does not affect it.

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Satisfaction from Child Raising and Housekeeping - Part 2

Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern
Part 2

(You can see Part 1 here)

A Career of Chesed

Children give their parents much more than nachas in this world; each child has the ability to merit their parents nitzchius –eternal reward in the next world.
From the day one when a child is born, the Jewish mother embarks on an incredible career of doing chesed. Just to think about the myriad chasadim of feeding, diapering, dressing, kissing, cuddling, hugging, comforting and bathing that she does during the day is mind-boggling. To get a glimpse of the proportions that we are talking about, an average of 8 diapers changed per day totals almost 3,000 changes a year.

Moreover, each second of caring is another mitzvah. Thus, when adding all the sleepless nights spent tending to a crying or sick child and the moments that a mother is in the home so that the child doesn’t feel alone brings us to figures beyond our comprehension, especially when we multiply this by each child in the family. This constant caring also develops many noble qualities and middos tovos such as self-sacrifice, responsibility, patience, loyalty, persistence, creative talent and similar gems of achievement that she will pass on to her children.

Moreover, all of these chassadim are only part of the picture, since each one of them involves numerous preparations. Take the simple act of preparing vegetable soup for dinner. First, the mother must go to the store to buy vegetables which involves selecting, weighing and paying. Then she brings them home, washes and peels them, puts them on the fire, seasons them and cooks them. Then, she serves her family, puts the extras in the refrigerator and finally, washes the utensils.

Thus, the mother can be termed as a “24/7 chesed machine.”

Furthermore, when a mother sends her children off to school and cares for their well being to enable them to continue in their Torah studies, she receives a special reward in olam haba (Brachos 17a, Rashi ad loc.). The Rama compares her to the tribe of Yisaschar, who shared Zevulun’s share in Torah by supporting him, (Y. D. 246:6).

Perpetual Rewards in the Next World

Chazal say that when a person dies and leaves behind a child like him (i.e. shomer Torah and mitzvos) he is termed as “resting.” However, if he doesn’t, he is considered “dead” (Bava Basra 116b). The Maharsha explains “resting” to mean that it is as if he didn’t die and is resting in a state of sleep. This can be understood by the words of Rabbeinu Yona who writes that when parents are in the next world and their children are learning Torah and fulfilling the mitzvos, it is as if the parents are still alive and fulfilling mitzvos (Iggeres Hateshuva #79). Moreover, the Menoras Hamoar writes that children have the unique ability to free their parents from the punishment of Gehinnom (Third ner #87). This concept explains why, on Rosh Hashana, the Sifrei Maisim – books of the dead – are opened even though they are not judged. Hashem observes the descendants of the deceased to see if they are going in the way of the Torah in order to further merit them in the next world.

A child’s special ability to merit his parents posthumously is underscored by the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (26:22) who writes, “The most meritorious mitzvos that children can do for their deceased parents is not the reciting of Kadish and davening for the amud, but to go in the proper path (of being a shomer Torah and mitzvos).”
(Click here for Part 3)

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Big Life Changes As Distraction From the Real Avodah of the Moment

Check out my answer to the following question posed to me by A Simple Jew.

A Simple Jew asks:

Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin once wrote, "We humans chase over the world to find things: We climb high mountains; we descend to the nethermost depths of the sea; we trek to the wilderness and to the desert. There is one place where we neglect to search - our heart. But it is there we will find Hashem."

Similarly, in an e-mail conversation on the topic of making changes in our lives you wrote, "In my experience, often making big external changes are often just a way of distracting one's self from the point of the inner work…"

Could you elaborate on this point a bit further and describe an experience or experiences that led you to this conclusion?

Dixie Yid Answers:

-Dixie Yid

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Three Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself Before Doing Anything

Rav Mordechai Yosef of Izbitz comments on the pasuk in Parshas Kedoshim (Vayikra 19:3), "אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ, וְאֶת-שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ," "One must fear his mother and father and observe my Sabbaths." He says that each of these three mitzvos (honoring 1) one's mother 2) one's father and 3) keeping Shabbos) refer to three levels of questions one should ask himself before taking on any activity or project that he think will be good for him.

"Honoring Your Mother" refers to asking yourself the question, "Is there anything about what I would like to do that would harm any part of me personally either now or in the future?"

He says that "Honoring Your Father" refers to asking one's self the question, "Is there anything about what I'm about to do which would harm Klal Yisroel, the Jewish people as a whole?"

And the third question, which corresponds to the mitzva of keeping Shabbos, is "Is there anything about what I'm going to do which would contradict Hashem's will?"

The truth is though, says the Izbitzer, that there really isn't anything which would be fine for you personally, but would be bad for Klal Yisroel. This is because each individual Jew is an integral part of Klal Yisroel. And therefore, anything a Jew does which would be bad for Klal Yisroel, would also be bad for him personally since he is also a part of Klal Yisroel, and he will be just as affected as the rest of the nation!

Similarly, there is nothing that would be against the Ratzon Hashem, Hashem's will, which would not concomitantly be harmfull to both Klal Yisroel in general and himself in particular. Since Hashem is the root, from which every branch/individual of Klal Yisroel grows, there can't be anything which would be against Hashem's will which wouldn't negatively affect the whole Jewish people and one's self.

The main thing is to ask one's self these questions before deciding what is going to be good for one's self on all three levels, which are really one.

-Dixie Yid

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Re'ay V'Anyainu": Basic Training - Audio Shiur

Here is the latest shiur by Reb Yerachmiel from the Baltimore Community Kollel Tefillah Chaburah.

In this fourth and final shiur on berchas "Re'ay V'Anyainu" in Shemoneh Esrei, Reb Yerachmiel reviewed the somewhat unintuitive yet widely accepted focus of this bracha, and explained the various meanings and kavanos of the bracha word-for-word, taking us through a "basic training" of sorts and arming us with "sword and shield" in an effort to confront, combat and conquer all problems, evils and enemies which are so rampant in this final galus.

You can CLICK HERE to either listen to the shiur (by left clicking) or downloading it (by left clicking and choosing "Save Target As.")

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HaRav Elazar M. Kenig Visiting the States

Received by e-mail:

We are happy to announce the arrival of

HaRav Elazar Mordechai Kenig, shlita,
the Rav and Spiritual Leader of
Nachal Novea Breslev Tsfat

The Rav will be visiting the States from
May 6th until May 20th.

For more information call 845-425-6274.

-Dixie Yid

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Bilvavi Author Availble to speak in US/CA in Early Elul/September

I received the text below via e-mail. This sounds like a great opportunity to bring Rav Shwartz to your community. Those who have learned the seforim know that his way of teaching practical avodas Hashem is something new, and yet yet it is seems that his approach was always there. Hopefully even more people will benefit from his teachings on this trip than last time, which went exceedingly well, from everything I heard.

I am pleased to announce that we, in the United States will, IY"H, have the privilage of having Rav Itamar Shwartz, shltia, the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim, available to speak at Mosdos, Shuls, Yeshivos, Seminaries, etc. this year in early Elul/September.

His trip last year was a tremendous success. The Rav was invited to numerous locations in New York, New Jersey and Maryland. Baalabatim, college students, Yeshivaleit, Kollel Yungerleit, seminary students, ladies, Chassidim, Sephardim and Modern Orthodox have all benefited from Rav Shwartz's practical approach to actually attaining Deveikus with Hashem. He tailors every speech to the exact needs and nature of the people to whom he is speaking. You can listen (for free) to the shiurim he gave during his last visit here. The upcoming trip will not be geographically limited and he will be available to travel to Mosdos anywhere in the United States and Canada.

Rav Shwartz speaks in a clear and easy-to-understand Hebrew.There will be a speaking fee. Also, even if we have spoken in the past, please contact me again about this opportunity in your community/Shul/Mosad.

If you are interested in having Rav Shwartz speak at your institution, please contact me by e-mail or at 516-668-6397. I look forward to hearing from you!

-Dixie Yid

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

"You Shall be Holy." - Command or Promise?

There are two questions on the second pasuk in Parshas Kedoshim, Vayikra 19:2, "דַּבֵּר אֶל-כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם--קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ," "Speak to the whole congregation of Israel, and say to them, 'You shall be holy.'" I'll bring down the approach of the Satmar Rov, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum in Divrei Yoel, and of the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh on these two questions: 1) Why does the same pasuk say both "דַּבֵּר" and "וְאָמַרְתָּ?" The First implies a harsh message and the second term implies a gentle message. It seems contradictory to find both terms used in the same pasuk! And 2) What is the pshat in the words "קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ," "You Shall be holy."?

The Satmar Rov says, based on the story with the Nesius of Rabban Gamliel and Reb Elazar ben Azaria in Brachos 28a, that the Shechina, Divine Presence only dwells in a community where everyone is equally sincere as they appear to be on the outside, and no one is living a a lie, where they appear to be very religious while they are not that way on the inside. He also said that the pasuk "קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ," "You shall be holy" is not a command, but rather, a promise! Hashem is promising the Jewish people that they will indeed be holy, and will be worthy of being called "תוכו כברו," equally as sincere on the inside as they appear to be on the outside. Therefore, pshat in the both harsh and gentles words used in that pasuk is to reflect the mixed message that the pasuk contains. On one hand it says "דַּבֵּר" since it is a bit of a harsh message to hear that the Shechina will not dwell among them unless they are totally sincere inside and out. Yet, it's a gentle and comforting message to hear the promise that they will be worthy to be called "holy" and be as sincere as is demanded of them. And it is that gentle and comforting message that is found in the kind word "וְאָמַרְתָּ."

Another interesting take on these questions is the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh. He says that the pasuk "קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ," "You shall be holy" is coming to add a positive commandment, a mitzvas aseh, to be holy and avoid all of the Arayos, the forbidden relationships mentioned at the end of Parshas Acharei Mos and in Parshas Kedoshim. So now, not only would a person transgress the applicable "lav," prohibition, but he will now be over on an "Issur Aseh," a prohibition derived from a positive commandment, as well. On the other hand, one will now be fulfilling a positive commandment when he abstains from engaging in a forbidden relationship. Whereas without that mitzvas Aseh of "Kedoshim Ti'hiyu," one would simply be "doing nothing" by avoiding the prohibition. So that's the meaning of the harsh language of "דַּבֵּר." It's a harsh message to know that there is now an additional sin involved in these forbidden relationships. On the other hand, it's a big chizuk to know that by avoiding those avieros, we can now fulfill an additional mitzva. And that's the reason for the gentle language of "וְאָמַרְתָּ."

-Dixie Yid

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