Friday, March 30, 2007

The Torah calls it "Chag Hamatzos" but we say "Pesach"

Reb Levi Yitzchak ben Sorah Sasha from Barditchev asks the following question in his Sefer Kedushas Levi, chelek beis, in the Sefer Hazechiros section on Zechiras Yitzias Mitzrayim.

He asks why it is that the Torah always calls Pesach, "Chag Hamatzos," but the Chachamim and we today always call it "Pesach?" This is in contradistinction to the other two Regalim. Shavuos is called by that name in the Torah (Devarim 16:16). Sukkos is called by that name in the Torah as well. But Pesach is different. Why?

He says that the love that exists between the Jewish people and Hashem is so great that we are constantly saying each others' praises. For instance, in our Teffilin, it says "Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad," so we're praising and declaring the oneness of Hashem. But in the Master of the World's Teffilin (kevayachol) it quotes the pasuk, "Mi k'amcha Yisroel, goy echad ba'aretz!" (Devarim 6:4) (Brachos 6a) So His enjoyment and glory is in singing the praises of His special people.

With this principal, Reb Levi Yitzchak answers the question he asked above. Hashem wrote the Torah, so in it, he refers to Pesach as "Chag Hamatzos," because the matzos are a reminder of the great love and trust that the Jewish people have for Hashem. The Jewish people were in such a rush to fulfill Hashem's command to leave Mitzrayim, even though they had virtually no provisions for the journey, they left right away without giving their bread time to rise. This is refered to in the pasuk in Yirmiyahu (2:2) "Zacharti lach chesed ne'uraich, lechtaich acharai bamidbar, b'eretz lo zarua." So Hashem continues to call Pesach "Chag Hamatzos," to continually tell over these praises of the Jewish people.

But we and Chazal refer to Pesach as "Pesach," because re're refering to the great chesed Hashem shows for the Jewish people when the pasuk says (Shmos 12:27) "asher posach al botei Bnei Yisrael..." that Hashem jumped over the houses of the Jewish people during makas bechoros [even though halalu ovdei avoda zara v'halalu ovdei avoda zara].

So we Jewish people calling it Pesach to sing Hashem's praises and Hashem calling it "chag Hamatzos" to sing our praises makes the Pesach story one big love story betwee Hashem and the Jewish people!

(Perhaps this is related to why we read Shir Hashirim on Pesach)

-Dixie Yid

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dangers of the Internet - The Internet Buddy System

I want to share a vital shmira, and I received this from my rebbe, that any Jew who must expose himself to the internet, for whatever reason, must make sure that he does not access the internet without some sort of supervision or accountability. This would usually be accomplished in the form of some kind of internet buddy, where you install software on every computer you have access to, which reports any problematic sites you may visit to whatever trusted person you designate (wife, chevrusa, whatever).

I heard one person comment that if computers existed in the time of Chazal, then they surely would have made an issur yichud with a computer. Since that is not the case, for those of us who do need to use the internet, I'm putting this out there as an important safeguard on what we look at with our eyes.

I don't feel comfortable sharing the link to the software that I use for this purpose at this time, until I can find out if it is appropriate to share the name of the website that manufactures it publicly in the Jewish community.

I did just want to share this idea to help us not fall into the various pitfalls of blogging and being involved with the internet. Kol tuv!

-Dixie Yid

Why I started this blog

I was thinking about Shimon ending his blog (which he explains here), so I asked myself (1) why I started this blog, (2) what I intend to accomplish with it, and (3) whether yatza scharo b'hefseido (whether the benefits outweigh the pitfalls). According to my own cheshbonos, the answers to the questions are these:

1) I started this blog primarily because I often learn something, have an insight, or hear a ma'aseh that I really enjoy and feel excited about. That feeling creates in me a desire to share that Torah, thought or insight. In some circumstances and with some Torahs or thoughts that I have, I have someone to share it with. For instance, I started learning some Shabbosim with a local bacur the Torahs of the Meor Einayim. But since circumstances often don't allow me to share what I learn, hear of, or think, I started this blog as a place to share those things with anyone who cares to read it.

2) I merely hope that some others who read what I share here are uplifted by those Torahs or thoughts, or find them as fascinating as I do! I also hope to simply fulfill my own desire to share certain things that I learn with others.

3) Do the detriments outweigh the benefits? This is a bit harder. I'm not a big blogger, posting 3, 5, or even 10 posts a day. I post one or two things 2-3X per week on average. Mostly I do this during my lunch breaks at work or sometimes in the evening before I go to sleep. Neither one of those times takes away from any time when I would have been learning or spending time with my children or wife, had I not been blogging. So at this point, according to my cheshbon, this activity does not create significant problems, which might counterbalance the gains.

One other important thought.

I believe that I cannot trust myself to make this cheshbon alone. I believe that it requires Daas Torah and I intend, when things are a little calmer for him after Pesach, to ask my rebbe this question.

-Dixie Yid

Update: Please see the answer I got for my own situation in this post, Dixie Yid will remain.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Jewish Blog closes up shop - Hear Why

Shimon at A Jewish Blog closes up shop. Click here to hear his reasoning. It's something for us to think about.

-Dixie Yid

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Ma'aseh About the Meor Einayim

My rebbe tells a story about an alter Litvak that used to learn in the same Bais Medresh that he did. He told my rebbe that many years earlier, he started to lose his eyesight, to the point where he could not read and everything in front of him was covered with a white haze.

He was most defnitely not interested in going to Rebbes, and he did not intend to do that at all. But his wife insisted that he at least go to the Satmar Rov, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum. He finally agreed since the Satmar Rov was a great talmid chacham, so altz that, he would go to see him.

When he got there, he explained the problem, and the Satmar Rov told him to learn the sefer Meor Einayim every Friday night. And even if he couldn't read it because of his eyesight, someone should read it to him, and he would soon get better. This was not the kind of advice he was looking for, but since he'd already gone, he decided to do it anyway.

The first Friday night, someone read it to him, and his eyes started to get better! He kept it up every Friday night for about a month, till his eyesight was back to normal and he could see again.

My rebbe and the others there who heard the story asked him, "Nu, so did you continue learning the sefer Meor Einayim?" He answered, "No, it worked and so I didn't need it any more!"

Cute story. But may the Torahs of the Meor Einayim be a light to our eyes!

-Dixie Yid

Revelation in Stages - Parshas Vayikra

Rav Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl asks in a short piece on Parshas Vayikra in Meor Einayim, "Why is it that the pasuk starts out "וַיִּקְרָא, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה" and then says " וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֵלָיו, מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר?" It starts out saying that He called to Moshe, but doesn't specify who is calling out to Moshe, like the Torah usually does when it says something like "Vayomer Hashem el Moshe Laimor." Then, in the next phrase, the pasuk reveals who is calling to Moshe. Why does the Torah word the pasuk this way?

He answers that sometimes a person is so accustomed to darkness and a lack of revelation of Hashem's presence, that he can't handle Hashem revealing Himself to the person all at once. Reb Nachum gives the following mashal: There was a person who grew up his entire life in complete and utter darkness. If you would lead him outside into the light, he would not be able to tolerate it at all. Therefore, you should make a slight crack in the wall, to let a little bit of light through. Once he gets accustomed to that, widen the crack, and so on until it is the size of a window. At that point, the person will be ready and you can lead him into the light.

So too with the Jewish people, Hashem first brought the ten makos, then took them out of Mitzrayim, then split the sea, and only some time after that, did Hashem reveal Himself at Ma'amad Har Sinai.

And so too with each individual, we are so steeped in avairos and darkness, that Hashem wants to call out to us to do teshuva, and reveal himself to us. But we wouldn't be able to handle it. So Hashem reveals himself in "small" signs of Hashgacha pratis. For instance, a person is about to do an aveira, and one particular time something outside his control prevents him from being able to carry out his plans. Hashem is calling to the person though that event, but at the beginning we don't realize the message we're hearing is from Hashem. Only later, do we realize that Hashem was with us and calling out to us to leave our darkness the whole time. (See Yitz's piece at A Waxing Wellspring on this topic here)

That is why the pasuk starts off by saying "he called to Moshe" without specifying who was calling. At the beginning, a person doesn't realize it's Hashem calling out to him. But the "vayidabair Hashem eilav" later reavels its self and we can become aware that it was Hashem speaking to us from the beginning, calling out to us to do teshuva.

-Dixie Yid

-The picture is of Rav Dovid Twersky of Tolna, grandson of the Meor Einayim, courtesy of

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Not Your Ordinary Traffic Jam

Okay, things got too crazy tonight to be "coincidence." Though I know that everything that happens is through Hashem's hashgacha pratis, sometimes that fact is easy to overlook when seemingly ordinary things are happening. But when many events seem to come together in some sort of strange confluence of occurances, Hashem's hand becomes more obvious.

As I may or may not have mentioned in a previous post, I attend law school in the evenings. I was on my way from work to law school tonight when I got a flat tire. It hasn't been so long since the last one which I wrote about here. My schedule is very tight so as soon as I got the flat, I knew I'd be late for school. But given the time it takes AAA to come, I changed the tire myself. 20-30 minutes later, I'd changed the tire and was ready to go to school, albeit late. That was delay/problem/Yad Hashem #1.

However, when I went to start the car, delay #2 kicked in. The car wouldn't start. Which is wierd because the car is an '05 and has been working fine until now, and "it" picks exactly that moment when I just had a flat tire and need to get to law school to fail to start. Fine, I call AAA and they come in pretty good time. They jump my battery (which B"H was the only problem, nothing major like the starter or something).

Then I get off at my exit when here comes delay #3. There's a concert at my exit, near the law school and I sit on the exit ramp for over an hour because of the traffic. I finally get to the law school in time to catch the last 45 minutes out of the 3 hours of class I had.

Now just one of these things wouldn't have made me think twice (which is my deficiency since everything is hashgacha, not just the big unexplainable "coincidences"). But 3 crazy things that almost never happen to me occuring on the same night must mean something. I figure there is some reason why Hashem didn't want me to be at the law school for my first 2 hours and 15 minutes. Perhaps there was some physical or spiritual danger that I averted because I was prevented from being where I planned to be at that time. I don't know what the reason is but I'm grateful and thankful to Hashem for making me late!

-Dixie Yid

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Amazing Animated Video of 2nd Bais Hamikdash

-Courtesy of Avakesh-

-Dixie Yid

Guidance all bloggers need from Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky

"Not Everything that one thinks should be spoken. And not everything that is spoken, should be spoken publicly. And not everything spoken publicly should be written down. And not everything written down should be published."

-Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky

(In commemoration of the Yarzeit of Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky on Adar 29)

Getting Up Before the Yetzer Hara

A friend of mine told his uncle, who's the Menahel of a Seminary in Eretz Yisroel what time I get up each morning. He then told me a vort from the Chidah, Rav Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai.

It says in the gemara, "Haboh l'horgecha, hashkaim l'horgo. (Sanhedrin 72a)" (If one comes to kill you, get up to kill him first.) And who comes to kill you each day? The Yetzer Hara. (Kiddushin 30b)He says, therefore, that when you get up very early each morning, it's a segula that you'll get up to beat the Yetzer Hara before it get you!

-Dixie Yid

Picture courtesy of

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Shabbos = Meleches Hamishkan - Reb Nachum from Chernobyl

Reb Nachum from Chernobyl teaches in the first piece Meor Einayim on Parshas Ki Sisa:

“Ach es Shabsosai tishmoru” (Shmos 31:13) - On this pasuk Rashi says l’ma’ait Shabbos mi’meleches hamishkan. In other words,” ach” always excludes something and here it excludes Meleches Hamishkan from being done on Shabbos.

Reb Nachum Chernobyler asks: This isn’t a mi’ut at all. It should have been marbeh (included) a prohibition of meleches Hamishkan. If it was a mi’ut, it would be taking away isurim from Shabbos (i.e. making them muter). But it’s adding isurim. So why does the Gemara/Rashi call the “addition” of an isur of meleches Hamishkan a “mi’ut?”

He answers that the whole purpose of building the mishkan is to cause hashro’as Hashchina, the dwelling of G-d’s presence within the Jewish people. He also points out that Shabbos means Hashem’s perfection dwelling in the Jewish people. Since Hashem’s presence is perfect and lacks nothing, there is nothing lacking in Hashem’s presence in the Jewish people on Shabbos. It is whole and perfect. The whole idea of doing melacha of meleches Hamishkan is that we don’t currently have hasho’as Hashchina, so we’re building the Mishkan to fill in that void.

Therefore, by working on the Mishkan on Shabbos, one is impliedly saying that Hashem’s presence on Shabbos is lacking and we still need to bring hasho’as Hashechina through meleches Hamishkan! This takes away from and minimizes the value of Shabbos since it’s purporting to accomplish what Shabbos already achieves.

That is why the Rashi uses the term “l’mai’ait Shabbos mimeleches Hamishkan.” Because working on the Mishkan does “lessen” or “minimize” the value of Shabbos, it is called an lessening “mi’ut” of Shabbos, so it is forbidden.

This teaching of Reb Nachum teaches us a great Yesod. The purposes of Shabbos and building the Mishkan are the same. They both are the building of a dwelling place for Hashem. There is a piece in Shema Yisroel quoting the Sfas Emes making a similar point here.

My rebbe teaches that many of the things we do on Shabbos reflect this fact. We smell hadasim or some other besamim on Shabbos as a bechina of the Ketores. We have Challah corresponding to the Lechem Hapanim. We light the neros Shabbos corresponding to the Menorah. We eat meat corresponding to the korbanos. We drink wine and have Kiddush corresponding to the wine libation. We make our beds before Shabbos (as mentioned in the Rambam) corresponding to the Kodesh Kodashim which the pasuk calls the “cheder hamitos.” We eat on a table corresponding to the Shulchan.

And after Shabbos we say “Vayehi Noam,” which is a pasuk in Tehilim to be said upon the completion of the building of the Bais Hamikdash. We do this because after Shabbos we have truly brought Hashem’s presence into our lives and built a mishkan in our homes. Therefore, upon completion of this accomplishment, we say a pasuk referring to building the Bais Hamikdash.

May we all keep Shabbos in a way of binyan Bais Hamikdash and bringing down hasho’as Hashechina, and in this zechus, may we merit the real binyan Bais Hamikdash bimehaira b’yameinu.

-Dixie Yid

A thought on an Agadata about early Xianity

I saw the following fascinating Gemara in Avoda Zara 17a and I had an observation about a possible reason why this particular story was chosen and what it says about the difference between Xianity and Yahadus (l'havdil elef alfei havdalos).

אמר לו עקיבא הזכרתני פעם אחת הייתי מהלך בשוק העליון של ציפורי ומצאתי אחד {מתלמידי יש"ו הנוצרי} ויעקב איש כפר סכניא שמו אמר לי כתוב בתורתכם (דברים כג) לא תביא אתנן זונה [וגו'] מהו לעשות הימנו בהכ"ס לכ"ג ולא אמרתי לו כלום אמר לי כך לימדני {יש"ו הנוצרי} (מיכה א) [כי] מאתנן זונה קבצה ועד אתנן זונה ישובו ממקום הטנופת באו למקום
הטנופת ילכו והנאני הדבר על ידי זה נתפסתי למינות

Rebbe Elazar was captured by the Roman in an effort to convert him. The gemara goes into the story of what happened, but eventually he was freed. He was very upset afterwards and didn't know why this had happened to him. His talmidim tried to comfort him. But Rebbe Akiva came and reminded Rebbe Elazar of something he, himself, had taught Rebbe Akiva. "Perhaps you heard words of heresy and you enjoyed them?" Rebbe Elazar responded that indeed one time it happened that he was walking in the Upper Market of Tzippori when a student of Yeshu HaNotzri (Yaakov Ish Kfar Sachania) engaged him in conversation. He asked Rebbe Elazar, "It says in your Torah that you cannot use something used to pay the fee for a zona in the Bais Hamikdash [as a korban]. Could you use it for building a bathroom though (in the area the Kohain Gadol lives in, in preperation for the Yom Kippur service)? Rebbe Elazar didn't answer. Yaakov answered it himself (quoting Yeshu). Since the pasuk in Micha says, "From the fee of the zona it came, and to the fee of the zona it shall return." This teaches that when something comes from a place of disgustingness, it shall return to a place of disgustingness (and therefore you can use zona's fee in the building of a bathroom in the Bais Hamikdash). I enjoyed his answer and that must be why I was taken captive.

I was thinking; What's wrong with this pshat? It doesn't seem to have anything to do with proving Xianity or any type of heresy. It's simply giving a teretz to a sha'ala from a pasuk. Also, why is this particular teaching of Yeshu's used in the gemara as the one Rebbe Elazar wrongly got hano'oh from?

A possible way of understanding this: In Yahadus, everything is or can be kodesh, holy. There is nothing, whether it comes to food, marriage relationships, work, sleeping, the bathroom, etc. that can't be and shouldn't be used for kedusha, holiness. Therefore, the Jewish view would be that the bathroom the Kohain Gadol uses in preparation for service in the Bais Hamikdash is also holy, just like the rest of the Bais Hamikdash.

Xianity on the other hand separates good and evil. There's satan, the "god" of the bad things, and there's G-d, who's in charge of the good things. But the two don't mix. When you're in church, you're religious. When you're home, hanging out with friends, or in the bathroom, you're just a regular secular guy. There's no such thing as sanctifying the secular. This is why their priests and nuns are celibate. They don't believe that the "secular" aspects of married life can be sanctified.

Therefore, the bathroom of the Temple can't be holy to them. It's just a place of disgustingness, just like the fee paid to a zona. Therefore, he was able to say about it that since the fee came from a place of disgustingness (tinofes), it shall return to a place of disgustingness.

Our view, however, is not that way, and we must view even the "bathroom of the Bais Hamikdash" as a holy place. Because everything, if used l'shem Shamayim, has kedusha and shouldn't be defiled by the zona's fee.

Perhaps this is why it was wrong for Rebbe Elazar to have enjoyed that peshat, Since it goes against our whole hashafas hachaim. This can also explain why this particular teaching and story was taught by the gemara, because it teaches us a great deal about the difference in approach to life between Xianity (l'havdil) and Yahadus.

-Dixie Yid

The picture at the top is from a fortress in Tzippori, where the story took place.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Legal Ethics - A Question by A Simple Jew

Here's an answer A Simple Jew posted on his site, where he asked me, as a law student, to answer a question for him. I think the comments there were more informative than my answer though!

-Dixie Yid

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Relationship Between Purim and Pesach - Power Point Presentation

We find ourselves now between Purim and Pesach. Here is a power point presenation I put together on the topic for some college students a couple of years ago.
-Dixie Yid

How to daven for one's children

The Imrei Yosef, Rav Yosef Meir Weiss of Spinka was once seen by an almana, with her only son. She asked him for a bracha. And especially because she was an almana and this was her only son, he gave the boy a real hartzigeh bracha that he should grow up to be a real erlicher Yid.

She got up a little more nerve, and pointed at the young son of the Spinka Rebbe who was sitting there (he was later to be known as the Chakal Yitzchak and that’s his picture to the left). She said, “Give my son a bracha that he should be like him!”

The Imrei Yosef paused, then removed his large yarmulke from under his hat. He then held it in his hand with the open side up, like a cup. He said, “I have filled up this kepel 10 times with tears, davening that I should have a son like this. I’m sorry but I cannot promise that I can do the same for your son. If you want him to be like my son, it is dependant on your own tefilos. Only you can do that.

-Dixie Yid

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Amazing Post by Yid With Lid on ADHD

Please read this post. It's a great read, especially if you or your children are dealing with A.D.H.D.

-Dixie Yid

Story w/Rav Aharon from Belz relating to Purim

I heard the following story from my rebbe.

Rav Aharon from Belz was the holiest of the holies. He survived the war through nisim and niflaos and all Chassidim and Tzadikim were afraid to approach him because of his holiness. And yet when he came to live in Eretz Yisroel, and everyone expected him to live in Yerushalayim, he instead moved to Tel Aviv. This hurt many of the Yershalmi yiddin very much, but who could say anything to Reb Are'le Belzer?!

Eventually, one of the Kano'im from Yerushalyim came to Reb Are'le and asked, "B'mechilas kvodo, why have you moved to Tel Aviv, the city of Tumah? The only thing one sees here are goyim!"

Reb Are'le was shocked and taken aback. He responded, "These Jews that you call 'goyim," they give me so much simcha. When I am walking down the street, I think that the people I see are goyim. They look like goyim. And then when they get closer they say, "Shalom alecha rebbe!" And then I see that they really are Yiddin! It gives me so much simcha. Moshiach is coming soon and when he does, they will sound the shofar, and all of those Yiddin that you call 'goyim' are going to rip off their goyishe costumes and run to welcome Moshiach.

That was Rav Are'le.

May we be zoche this Purim to see through the sometimes scary costumes and masks of the Jews around us to the true Yiddin inside!

-Dixie Yid

Purim story w/ Chidushei Harim and the Rizhiner

The Chidushei Harim asked R' Yisroel from Ruzhin, in relation to the haftarah of Parshas Zachor, "How could Shaul Hamelech have said 'Kiyami es dvar Hashem."? Shaul knew that he had not fulfilled the Dvar Hashem when it came to failing to kill Agag, the king of Amalek, not to mention "meitav hatzon."

The Rizhiner answered him in the following way: Because Shaul Hamelech didn't kill Agag, he lived one more night, long enough to make his wife pregnant. And that child eventually led to Haman, who tried to kill the Jewish people. And it was because of that attempt, that the whole Jewish people did tshuva in the Megilla, and the pasuk says "Kimu v'kiblu," the Jewish poeple accepted the Torah She'baal Peh. So you see that through Shaul's aveira of not killing Agag, Hashem's Torah was indeed established many years later, and therefore Shaul was truthfully able to say, "Kiyami es dvar Hashem."

All of us make mistakes, but this teaches us that Hashem transforms our errors, mistakes and aveiros, in the big picture, to something which will be for the good. This is similar to that idea that I quoted here from Kedushas Levi, that everything is good, no matter what people's intentions are in the beginning. Hashem will transform everything for the good.

-Dixie Yid

The picture is of The Tiferes Yisrael Synagogue in Jerusalem which was named after Rabbi Yisrael Friedman who instigated its construction - Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Full Text of the Megilla in PowerPoint Slide show

Courtesy of NCSY Montreal originally...

-Dixie Yid
hopefully solve a problem in loading my main page.

Slichos Mystery: What did Yitzchak daven for at the Akeida?

Picture courtesy of The Temple Institute

In slichos this morning for Taanis Esther (and every slichos) we say "mi sheana yitzchak avinu keshene'ekad al gabai hamizbeach, hu ye'a'aneinu!" What does this mean? What did Yitzchak daven for? And in what way was he answered? Did he daven not to be killed? If so then he was indeed answered. But it seems strange with all we hear about him stretching out his neck for slaughter and asking to be bound up not to pasel himself as a korban. Did he daven that he be killed and the fact that it's as if his ashes were burnt on the mizbeach is the way in which he was answered? I'm just not sure what to make of it.

-Dixie Yid

Update: I just asked my rebbe this question. He told me that the Divrei Yoel, by Rav Yoel Teitelbaum of Satmar, gives the following explanation:

As Yitzchak Avinu was about to be slaughtered in order to perform Hashem's will, he was davening that all future generations would have the kochos hanefesh (inner strength) to be moser nefesh if they were called upon as well. And about this, the Payet can say, "He who answered Yitzchak when he was bound on the alter, may he answer us."