Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Author U.S. Tour - Elul/September 2008 Schedule

Rav Itamar Shwarz, the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim (many of which are available HERE), will be in the United States for a speaking tour. The following is a list of the venues which are open to the public. Please attend! If you haven't heard him speak or learned his seforim before, you're about to experience a perspective on Avodas Hashem, and learning how to attain closeness with Hashem, which is different than what you may have experienced or learned before. All of his Drashahs will be given in a clear and easy to understand Hebrew. The Rav will be available for private appointments on Tuesday night, September 9th at Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY. Call Benyomin Wolf at 516-668-6397 for appointments or more information about the trip or the Boro park location as it becomes available.

Boca Raton, FL
Sunday, September 7th, 8-10:15 PM
Boca Raton Synagogue, 7900 Montoya Circle

New York City
Monday, September 8th, 8 PM
Congregation Ramath Orah, 550 W. 110th St. (corner Broadway)

Baltimore, MD
Wednesday, September 10th, 8 PM
Congregation Shomrei Emunah, 6221 Greenspring Ave.

Monsey, NY
Thursday, September 11th, 8 PM
Kahal Ahavas Yitzchak (Rabbi Rudinsky's Shul), 73 Forshay Rd.

Woodmere, NY - Shabbos Sept. 12th
Friday Night Tisch at the Perkal home - 9:30 PM - 858 Fiske St.
Shabbos Hashkafah Shiur at Cong. Aish Kodesh - 5:35 PM (Corner W. Broadway & Woodmere Blvd.)
Mincha/Shalosh Sheudos Drashah at Cong. Aish Kodesh - 6:35 PM

Five Towns/Far Rockaway Motzoi Shabbos Drasha
Motzoi Shabbos, September 13th, 9 PM
Yeshivas Shor Yoshuv, One Cedar Lawn Ave, Lawrence, NY

Englewood, NJ
Sunday Morning, September 14th, 9:15 AM (After 8:30 Shacharis)
East Hill Synagogue, 255 Walnut St.

Boro Park, NY
Sunday Evneing, September 14th, 7:30 PM
Blumenfrucht Home, 1615 40th St.

For high resolution pdf of the below image, click on the image
-Dixie Yid

(Pictures courtesy of

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dying With the Words "I Would Rather Dwell in the House of the Lord"

Imagine Dying with the Words "I would rather be a servant in the house of the L-rd." I listened to a report on NPR yesterday which really touched me about Truman's Vice President, Alben Barkley. THIS CLIP (8 minutes) includes the audio leading right up to the moment of his death. I was really affected by it. Here is NPR's blurb about the audio report:

Alben Barkley served in Congress for close to 40 years and was Harry Truman's vice president from 1948-1952.

Although he wanted to be president, Barkley never made it to the pinnacle of power.

Only 14 vice presidents have gone on to the presidency. The majority has, for the most part, lapsed into relative obscurity once their term ended.

Barkley too might have been forgotten except for two things: his nickname and the remarkable circumstance of his death.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of geneology)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Communication– Key to a Happy Marriage - Part 1


Communication– Key to a Happy Marriage
Part one
By Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern

Marriage is one of the most important areas in our lives where proper speech plays a vital role. One of the prime goals of marriage is to create an inner unity– kesher pnimi– between husband and wife, which, when attained, will give them the true simchas hachaim, as mentioned in chazal (Mesechta Yevamos 62b). However, the right tools are required to reach this goal. One of these tools is proper communication between husband and wife. In most, if not all of shalom bayis problems with married couples, there exists a communication problem as well. And the fact that books that deal in family communication are usually best sellers clearly indicates that communication problems exist even in marriages that are not "on the rocks." Conversely, when couples can communicate effectively, they are usually able to successfully solve their differences themselves. Thus we can conclude that proper communication is one of key factors in establishing a successful marriage.

Defining communication

Communication from a Torah perspective differs from what many people understand it to mean. A common misconception is that if one cannot say what he means or mean what he says, then he is lacking communication. For example, if I think that my spouse is lazy, clumsy or did something stupid and I cannot tell him/her so, then I cannot communicate properly. Since statements like these violate the Torah prohibition of ona'as devarim (hurting another's feelings with words) and will probably initiate an argument between the couple. Obviously, this not the type of communication that is conducive for shalom bayis.

Proper communication in marriage can be broadly defined as the ability to:

a) Express yourself and be understood without hurting your spouse's feelings,
b) Discuss issues and differences with your spouse and arrive at conclusions and/or compromises which are suitable and agreeable to both sides without developing into a quarrel,
c) Share experiences, dreams and problems with your spouse, and
d) Listen and understand your spouse so that he/she feels understood and that you're listening.
It is quite obvious that a couple, who can converse with each other in the above manner, will set forth a chain reaction towards a positive relationship, beginning with mutual understanding of each other. This feeling of being understood will cause a husband or wife to feel happy and content with each other. The happiness and contentment will bring on closeness between the two and automatically strengthen and solidify their marriage bond. Thus they will experience the peace, tranquility, bliss and harmony in their marriage as described by chazal.

Developing Communication

The first step in developing proper communication is for the couples to commit themselves to spend time talking with each other, which is termed by the Chazon Ish as "ribui sicha"(Letter published in the chasan guides of Rav Shlomo Wolbe and Rav Chaim Friedlander).

Just as a novice swimmer or driver improves his skills by swimming or driving, the more a husband and wife converse with each other, the more they will perfect their communication skills. For this reason, the Chazon Ish writes that couples must spend time together conversing during the first year (shana rishona) of their marriage when they are working on building the foundations of their new life. During this year, since couples are usually free of the pressures and responsibilities of supporting and raising a family, they are advised to spend an hour a day in a relaxed atmosphere, preferably over a meal engaged in social conversation with each other. The time should be exclusively theirs with no interruptions with telephones and cell phones put on “voice mail”. This will enable them to transform this time into "quality time"– i.e. relaxed and focused n each other's conversation. At times they could go out together for a walk or to dinner for a change of pace, as long as they are alone and talking socially, and not about business matters, for example, who will pay the bills, bring the auto in for repair, etc.

One should realize that this shana rishona period of one year is not a fixed time – zman –which terminates one year after marriage. Rather, it's a stage– matzav– that a couple must achieve in their relationship, and can very often extend well beyond the shana rishona. If after years of marriage, a couple still have difficulty communicating and discussing differences with each other, and there is no mutual trust between them, then they should realize that they haven't yet achieved the goals of the shana rishona.

One roadblock in developing communication, which is also detrimental to the marriage relationship in general, is the "monotony of the daily routine." We observe a married couple living together, sharing space and responsibilities, and most of the conversation between them is about managing their finances, and division of the household chores– cooking, cleaning, shopping, picking up the children, garbage removal, etc. They may also operate on different schedules so that they hardly see or speak to each other during the day because the husband or wife has a second job or other commitments during the time that their spouse is free. The result? Instead of feeling that they are growing closer to each other, they seem to be drifting further away. Many years ago I was told that a well known newspaper published a report stating that the average couple spends only eleven minutes a day talking with each other. More recently, I read a book on family communication that lowered the figure to a half hour weekly. That’s than 5 minutes per day! Is there any wonder why there are so many problems in today's marriages? How can a couple live together in harmony when they have never learned to communicate properly with each other?

Therefore, it is incumbent upon newlyweds to set aside "quality time" during their shana rishona as part of their daily routine in order to develop this most vital area of marriage. Couples who are past their shana rishona and are experiencing difficulty in communication must make a resolution to set aside time from their busy schedules to make an artificial shana rishona in order to start the ball rolling of learning how to properly converse with each other.

(A complete treatment of family communication is discussed in my shiurim: “Communication – Key to a Happy Marriage”, “Understanding Your Spouse’s different Nature” (separate men’s & women’s version) and ”The Art of Communication” – available in, CD tape & MP3 format.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of wikimedia)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Sweet Home Sweet Jerusalem by Menachem Herman

Courtesy of R' Lazer Brody

-Dixie Yid

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Klipas Izbitz" - It's All G-d or It's All Up to Me?

A Simple Jew has posted a Question and Answer session. His question is below, and in my answer, I addressed an approach for how to understand the tension between when to realize that "It's All G-d" and when to realize that "It's all up to me." CLICK HERE for my answer to his question.

A Simple Jew asks:

As someone who has been greatly influenced by Mei HaShiloach, how have you been able to find the right balance between engaging in your own hishtadlus (efforts) and seeing the world through the Ishbitzer lens that "It's all Hashem"?

Dixie Yid Answers....

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of infoborder)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

The Other Type of Assimilation - Facebook - By Neil Harris

Neil Harris's Guest Post at Beyond BT: The Other Type of Assimilation

-Dixie Yid

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bilvavi Author in Monsey on Thursday September 11th!!!

Rav Itamar Shwartz, the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim will be in Monsey, NY on Thursday, September 11th at 8 PM at Rabbi Rudinsky's Shul, 73 Forshay Rd. Above is the flyer. You may contact Rabbi Doniel Coren at for more information!

-Dixie Yid

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Barech Aleinu": A Reorientation to Prayers for Parnasa - Audio Shiur

Reb Yerachmiel's latest Chaburah from the Baltimore Community Kollel Tefillah Chaburah is now online!

In this latest audio shiur, Reb Yerachmiel provides an introduction to berchas "Barech Aleinu" in Shemoneh Esrei, the bracha in which we beseech Hashem for our basic financial needs and for much more. With the backdrop of the old adage that "Money can't buy happiness", and by refuting the often related remark that "Money can't buy happiness, but it sure doesn't hurt", Reb Yerachmiel utilizes the simple pshat of another livelihood-oriented tefillah, the special addition to Shema Koleinu, to help reorient us to Chazal's intended focus of prayers for parnasa, and in that way to feel comfortable and confident in asking Hashem "for the gold"!

CLICK HERE by either left clicking to listen online or right clicking and selecting "Save Target As" to download the shiur.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of worstedwitch)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Is It Appropriate for a Professor to Call On Me As "Young Jew!"?

I was sitting in my Real Estate Transactions course the other night (this past week was our first week back). The Professor asked something and I raised my hand to answer the question. The professor pointed at me and called out "Yes, Young Jew, what's the answer?"

I was a bit taken aback by the way he called on me so I hesitated, but before I could begin answering, a Chinese student behind me began answering and the professor didn't object that he'd called on someone else. So I didn't say anthing. After class, another frum guy commented on how funny it was that the guy's first name behind me actually is "Yung Ju"!!! (Though I know I'm not spelling it right) Whodathunkit?!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of inmagine)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Don't Think That Understanding Something is Synonymous With Acquiring It

Rav Mordechai Yosef of Izbitz, in Mei Hashiloach, says at the beginning of Parshas Devarim (third piece)that even after the Yiddin received the Torah, their hearts were not totally pure. Instead of being emotionally drawn to serve Hashem perfectly, they merely understood on an intellectual level that it is good to do Hashem's will.

This is an ongoing problem for many people. Even some of us who try to serve Hashem and grow b'pnimius, in an inner way, still often feel satisfied with merely understanding, intellectually, the Ratzon Hashem, Hashem's will.

Rav Itamar Shwartz, in Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh 5, in Yesodos Ha'Avodah #17, focuses on this problem. In that paragraph, he says:

With regard to any point that one works on for some time, and speaks and thinks about with his Creator, he must check whether his heart truly feels it deeply, or whether the feeling is only in his intellect and speech. If one doesn't feel that his heart has been completely transformed to the simple new understanding [that he is working on], then he should not move forward [because any level of avodah after that] would just be a building floating in the air [lacking any foundation]. Only a feeling of simple understanding can testify that one's level has been truly acquired. But if a person merely feels that his new understanding [that he's working on] is just another good trait that he has added on to himself, [then this is a sign that] he has not truly acquired this level in his heart. This is a pitfall that many people fall into, Rachmana L'tzlan. They think that understanding something is the same as acquiring it. (Emphasis added)

In fact, when working on the Derech Avodah of the Bilvavi seforim, it's very easy to turn it into a "seder in learning," and thereby turn it into merely another means for intellectual growth. But this is not what those seforim were meant to do! Yes, his tefisa, understanding of the world, is so much greater than many of us are accustomed to, and this is very exciting and stimulating to learn, but this is not the tachlis. Impelementing the teachings is the tachlis. I must do the hour a day of hisbonenus, focusing on the level in avodah that you are up to. I must do the every-half-hour mini-hisbonenus'n to reinforce what I worked on during the hour. I must fill my days with thoughts of Kirvas Hashem and doing everything for its ultimate tachlis. But I musn't just learn it so that I can better understand Ratzon Hashem. I must do it so that I can DO Ratzon Hashem!

Hashem ya'azor!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of montalk)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Guide to Asking & Answering Questions on Shidduchim



Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern

Many people have been hurt in the past, and are being hurt every day, by lashon hara. This is especially the case when it comes to giving out information relevant to shidduchim.

Sometimes a person suppresses particulars that he is obligated to pass on according to the halachah, because he imagines that he is not allowed to speak. Other times, all kinds of intimate details are handed out "for shidduch purposes," when actually passing on this information is prohibited.

We must be sensitive to the power we wield when conveying shidduch information. Our words could easily cause the shidduch to be abandoned. Alternatively, withholding crucial details could result in a shidduch going through that will only bring pain and trouble to the innocent.

We may be called on at any moment to divulge information about an individual or family when a shidduch is being considered. Therefore we are obligated to familiarize ourselves with the halachos of what we may and may not say, and also of how to provide the necessary details, or to obtain them for ourselves. Finally, we need to know when to speak: what is permissible to relay in the early stages of a shidduch may not be permissible to say later on, or may require a shailah to a rav.


1. Before answering, find out where the two sides are holding: before, in the middle, or after settling the shidduch; each stage must be handled differently and rabbinical guidance is needed as to how to give over the relevant information.

2. Before replying, verify:
a) That the information is לתועלת – beneficial, i.e., that is, the information must be relevant and important to the decision being made the shidduch. It is אסור to give irrelevant information or to reply to people asking out of curiosity.
b) If your information can still influence the decision of either side. If the shidduch is going to be made regardless of what you say, then it’s lashon hara to mention anything negative, since this will cause harm by putting the young person in a negative light.

3. If you think that they are not a match and your opinion will be accepted without mentioning a גנות (derogatory information) – e.g., by saying “This shidduch isn’t for you”, or “There’s a personality clash” – then you are prohibited to mention any details. However, if you must elaborate, say the minimal information necessary to stop the shidduch. Be careful not to exaggerate. If you are aware of any זכות – merit – you must mention it.

4. If the נשאל's information is second-hand, it cannot be presented as something certain, since it could be a false rumor. Rather he must say, “This is only something that I heard about Ploni but all the same, be careful just in case it's true.” When the information is uncertain, it is a mitzvah, but not obligatory, to give it.

5. It is אסור to mention any גנות if it results in damaging the person, e.g., others will treat him badly, or he will get a bad name. Similarly, one must not give such information to a gossiper (הולך רכיל), because he will spread the גנות unnecessarily, or repeat it to the person himself

6. If you are asked details about one’s appearance, height, weight, etc., it is מותר to say anything they could see for themselves. This is no worse than showing a photograph. However, be careful not to exaggerate your description, e.g., “fat”, “ugly”. (Sometimes you may think that a person is overweight while others may view him as “solidly built”.) Regarding personality traits, be careful not to give a negative description which can be interpreted as a fault – חסרון, e.g., if a person is naive, don’t say he/she is an idiot or fool. If he is quiet, don’t describe him as depressed or peculiar.

7. Answer questions based on who is asking them, and what they are looking for. If you’re asked whether a boy is a talmid chacham, to another talmid chacham this would mean the boy is a genius or a potential rosh yeshiva, while to an average person it might mean merely that the boy learns and is knowledgeable in Torah. If possible, it is best to ask the שואל specifically what sort of person he is looking for.

8. You don’t have to answer questions regarding Torah knowledge because the inquirers could verify this through the boy’s Rebbeiyim. (However, if a wide gap exists between the שואל’s request and the reality, e.g., the girl’s side is looking for a genius and the boy is average, it must be mentioned.)

9. Be careful when answering about a person’s emotional and physical health. You could ruin a person for life because of a passing or non-genetic health condition. If any health condition exists in the family, a rav should be consulted to decide how and when it should be mentioned. Caution! Exaggeration is also common in this area. Don’t dramatize the situation.

10. Think before replying! Weigh your words carefully, and don’t blurt out the first thoughts that enter your head. An added word or exaggeration can convert something מותר to lashon hara , besides the irreparable damage you might do to a fellow Jew by a simple slip of the tongue.

The rule is: be careful what you say, how you say it and to whom you say it.


1. The שואל must inform the נשאל that he is inquiring for shidduch purposes, and ask questions regarding the shidduch only. 10

2. If the שואל knows that the information will not affect his decision, i.e., even if he hears anything derogatory they will still pursue the shidduch, then he not permitted to inquire.11

3. The שואל is prohibited to believe anything derogatory said about the person in question, even if he can’t find any זכות – merit. He may only suspect (be חושש) that the information may be true for the sake of self-protection.12 (Nevertheless, try to find a זכות).13

4. You should avoid using a third party if the information can be obtained directly(This also depends on the difficulty involved).

5. When the שואל gives over any derogatory details (דברי גנאי), he must be careful to say it in an uncertain manner, e.g., "I heard something derogatory about Ploni, but don’t take it as a fact since it may not be true.”15 He should also not mention his source of information, e.g., “Yaakov said this about Ploni.” This could be rechilus and result in causing harm to Yaakov. 16

6. It is prohibited to ask someone who has any enmity towards the person you are inquiring about.17 (Under certain strict conditions, this is permitted if there is no other way to obtain the information. In this case, a rav should be consulted).

7. It is permissible to ask about personal appearance. However, the נשאל should be cautioned to state facts and not his opinion of how the young person looks (See #7 of נשאל).

8. Once the shidduch is finalized, it is prohibited to hear or say anything derogatory about the boy or girl, especially if it can break off the shidduch. If something serious has been discovered, e.g., health condition or serious character flaw, a Rav should be consulted.18

סוף דבר – In conclusion:

Until you clarify beyond any doubt that a statement isn’t lashon hara, assume that it is (ספק דאורייתא). Many people are faced with a dilemma: To tell or not to tell? Whatever is lashon hara is prohibited to mention. Whatever is לתועלת – beneficial – is not only permissible but a חיוב, an obligation, to tell. A person withholding this information transgresses the לאו of על דם רעך לא תעמוד (You shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed).19 However, in between what’s prohibited and what’s permissible lies a large gray area; so just as you wouldn’t pasken (decide) complicated שאלה (halachic question) in hilchos Shabbos or kashrus, certainly don’t decide without consulting a Rav.

Our goal is, that shidduchim, which by all accounts ought to proceed smoothly, should not terminate solely because we spoke lashon hara, while ill-fated shidduchim should not be allowed to continue because we remained silent when we were obligated to speak up.
Condensed from an article מרפא לשון Torah Journal, vol. 3, and a lecture by Rav Moshe M. Lowy of Toronto.

1. הל' לשוה"ר ד: י"א
2. הל' רכילות ט:ג תנאי ג' ושם בסוף ציור שלישי - ז'
3. הל' לשוה"ר י : י"ד ובאמ"ח ססק"ט, הל' רכילות ט :ב תנאי ד'
4. הל' רכילות כלל ט' באמ"ח סק"ט ובהג"ה
5 שם ט :ב תנאי ה' ובבאמ"ח
6. Rav Y. Y. Fisher (quoted in the article)
7. ibid. based on באמ"ח הל' רכילות כלל ט' ציור ג' סק"י
8. ibid. Based on הל' רכילות פ"ט ציור ג' ס"ו
9. הל' לשוה"ר י : ט"ו, רכילות ט :ב תנאי ב'
10. הל' לשה"ר ד : י"א
11. הל' רכילות ט : ג תנאי ג' , ושם בסוף ציור שלישי - ז'
12. הל' לשוה"ר ו :י , רכילות ה :ב
13. הל' לשוה"ר ג : ז
14. הל' רכילות ט : י"ב תנאי ד'
15. שם כלל ט באמ"ח סק"ט
16. שם סע' ב' פרט ג' בסוגריים, ובבאמ"ח סק"ה, ובסע' י"ב אופן ה'
17. הל' לשוה"ר ד : י"א בהג"ה
18. הל' רכילות ט : ה
19. שם ט':א' ובבאמ"ח. This is also alluded to by the fact that these two
prohibitions appear in the same pasuk (Vayikra 19:16)

(Picture courtesy of

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Friday, August 22, 2008

High School for Teen Girls at Risk Needs Assistance

I received the following e-mail from Rabbi and Rebbetzin Micha and Yehudis Golshevsky, who have known Basy and Raviv Shaked, the founders and heads of Tzofiah High School, for years. With their word about the importance and credibility of this organization, I know for sure that it is extremely worthy. Please read the e-mail below and consider donating online or mailing a check to one of the addresses below.

Q. Who is helping young girls from frum families in crisis? Girls abandoned, orphaned or raised in extremely dysfunctional homes, who turn to drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, petty theft, self-mutilation & eating disorders?

A. Tzofiah High School in Ramat Beit Shemesh, founded by Rabbi Raviv & Basy Shaked.

Tzofiah's students, girls from "glatt kosher" homes…

Meet Malki, the youngest of eight children from NY. One Friday night, when Malki was ten years old, her parents got into an argument. Huddled outside the bedroom, she & her twin brother were petrified by their mother's screams. Peeking through a crack in the doorway, they watched their father beat their mother until she was no longer screaming. While their father sat in prison for murder, Malki lived with a single relative who expected her to help with expenses by stealing from local supermarkets. By the time she got to Tzofiah, Malki was full of rage, tearful, distrustful & almost incapable of engaging in any form of relationship. To make matters worse, her life skills were non-existent & she was reading at the level of a second grader.

After two very challenging years at Tzofiah, Malki was able to say: "I don't do stupid things anymore because I love myself too much! I never thought I'd be able to read & now I'm getting A's just like all my friends! I have a job & it doesn't overwhelm me. I can't believe this is me!"

An unusual story? Unfortunately I can easily tell you sixty more tales of severe crisis in the Jewish community.

Tzofiah…pikuach nefesh, every day…

Tzofiah, a dormitory school, founded in 2000 for English-speaking girls from the US , Israel and other countries, addresses their mental health needs as well as offering them a high school diploma, a certified vocation & an opportunity to re-explore Judaism & become productive members of society.

Thank G-d, our success rate is astounding, with happily-married alumni raising healthy children in Jewish communities around the world, alumni who have graduated college with degrees in psychology, education & business, alumni who have moved on to nursing school & other Masters programs.

It's hard to believe that these successful, put-together young women were once loud, red-eyed, pierced & hooded angry teens, hanging out at street corners till the wee hours of the night.

Most of the presently-enrolled girls are planning to return for a 2nd year of growth & support. Indeed, many feel that Tzofiah is a 2nd home & the Shakeds & other staff members are like family.

Why am I writing this?

Because the Shakeds face a serious dilemma:

After a year of building trust & telling the girls that finally someone is there for them, can Tzofiah refuse them for a 2nd year due to lack of funds?

Can they say: "Yes, we care about you but only if you can foot the bill."?

Must love come with a price tag???

And what about the many girls praying to begin in Tzofiah next year? Girls holding on by sheer will to survive a summer of neglect & abuse, until they can get to Israel?

Caring for these needy teens is a costly effort for Tzofiah & the debts are mounting. But what is the alternative? To send these precious Jewish souls back to the streets? To lawlessness & violence? It is time for all caring Jews to help the Shakeds shoulder this burden.

Rabbi Shaked will be happy to contact you & tell you more about this special school. Please see this as the emergency it is & do your part for Klal Yisroel.

You May Mail Your Tax-Deductible Donation (Specify at Bottom of Check "Student Scholarships") To:

American Friends of Tzofiah
874 East 9th St.
Brooklyn, NY, 11230 USA
718-258-8659 - 917-846-1941 (cell)

In Israel (only $ checks are tax-deductible):

Tzofiah-Machon Rivkah
13/1 Nachal Micha
Ramat Beit Shemesh 99000 Israel

Shoshana Lepon
Ramat Beit Shemesh

For more information about Tzofiah, please visit our website.

-Dixie Yid

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Author in Baltimore September 10th!

Thanks to the hard work of Reb Yerachmiel, Gad Frenkel and Rabbi Yaakov Drang, and a number of sponsors in Baltimore, Rav Itamar Shwartz will be speaking in Baltimore at Congregation Shaarei Emunah on September 10th at 8 PM. I hope everyone in the Baltimore area will be able to make it! You may see a larger version of the flyer by clicking on its image above. And you can get more information on that event by contacting the three aforementioned contact people whose phone numbers are on the flyer. Kol tuv!

-Dixie Yid

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Former Talmid and Talmida are Marrying Jewish! (And Each Other!)

6 and 7 years years ago respectively, when I was doing college outreach work at several campuses in the midwest, I ran a couple of New York trips for the students, similiar to the ones described in this article. Out of the blue, after not being in touch with this guy in several years, I get the following e-mail. What nachas!!!!!!!!!!

Rabbi "Dixie Yid",

Long time no talk! How are things in New York? I hope all is well with you and "Mrs. Yid" and the children. What's new with you?

You remember "Plonis bas Ploni" and I, right? Now seven years after the New York trip that you put together in which we met, we're finally going to be getting married. We got engaged 9 days ago.

We're trying to find a wedding date and we've heard many different things regarding which days we are not supposed to get married by the rules of the Jewish calendar. We figured you would be the best authority for this information?

I look forward to hearing from you and thanks for your help!

~"Ploni ben Ploni"

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

"Teka B'Shofar"- Upteitch and Post-Shabbos Nachamu Inspiration

I am pleased to present the latest Chaburah by Reb Yerachmiel from the Baltimore Community Kollel Tefillah Chaburah.

This past Sunday night at the Baltimore Community Kollel, Reb Yerachmiel presented the third of a three-part series of shiurim on Berchas "Teka B'Shofar" in Shemoneh Esrei. In this shiur, Reb Yerachmiel teitched-up the words and deeper kavanos contained in this bakasha and presented post-Shabbos Nachamu aitzos to inspire us to continue yearning for Moshiach Tzidkainu every day of the year.

CLICK HERE to get the shiur by either "left clicking" to listen to the shiur online or "right click" and select "Save Target As" to download the shiur.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of jewishstlouis)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Tribute to My Radical Sister - Guest Post by Yosef Hakohen

Dear Friends,

This letter is dedicated to the memory of my beloved younger sister, Dorothy Oboler, whose full Jewish name is Alta Chaya Yocheved Devorah bas Shlomo. My sister’s yahrtzeit – the anniversary of her passing – is on the 17th of Av, which this year begins on Sunday evening, August 17th. When my sister began to study Torah, “Devorah” became the first name that she used the most.

When Devorah was about 20 years old, she began to suffer from an illness which was later diagnosed as a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy – an illness which physically disabled her for the rest of her life. Although her body became very frail, she maintained her strong spirit. She always had a passionate and loving concern for any suffering individual or group that was being ignored or mistreated by others, and she would arise on their behalf like a mighty warrior. Her disability caused her to be mostly homebound, and she therefore developed a special sensitivity and concern for the needs of those who were in a similar situation.

Even before Devorah was stricken with this disability, she was a radical rebel against the trend in modern western society to idolize youth, physical beauty, and physical strength. She had the old-fashioned Jewish appreciation of elders, spiritual beauty, and spiritual strength, and most of the students at the public school she attended did not have this appreciation. This was a major reason why she decided to switch to a Torah-committed high school. She initially had difficulty finding one that was prepared to accept her, for she was years behind in her Torah studies. The one high school that lovingly welcomed her was the Beth Jacob High School for girls, which was located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and which was in the large Chareidi (Fervently Orthodox) section of the neighborhood where the majority of Jews were Chassidim. Most of the teachers and students at Beth Jacob were also Chassidim. At first, it was quite a culture shock for my sister, who had grown up in a family of leftist social activists. She was pleased, however, that the staff and the students had a deep appreciation of elders, spiritual beauty, and spiritual strength. In addition, she was happy to be in a school which stressed the importance of doing acts of loving-kindness. It was a relief for her to be at Beth Jacob, for the atmosphere there was much more gentle, loving, and spiritual than the atmosphere at the public school she had previously attended.

At the beginning, it was a culture shock for the teachers and the students to have my sister as a student in their school, as due to her background, she questioned everything, including the Chassidic customs which the students had grown up with. Fortunately, her teachers were wise enough to realize that her questioning was due to her sincere searching, and not because she was disrespectful of their beliefs and customs. They therefore began to admire her spirit, and she experienced not only their love, but also their respect. As the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos states in the name of Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua, “Let the honor of your student be as dear to you as your own” (4:15).

After Devorah graduated from Beth Jacob High School, she attended their seminary for teachers. She began to do some teaching; however, she was not able to continue, due to the development of the illness, Muscular Dystrophy. Her friends from Beth Jacob got married and began to raise children, but they did not forget my sister. They remained loyal friends throughout the years of her suffering, and this was a source of comfort to her. A year before Devorah passed away, she received a special honor from the members of her Beth Jacob graduating class. They asked her to be the guest speaker at the class reunion, and they hired a limousine to bring her to the gathering in the Boro Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. She spoke to them about the dignity of the elderly and the disabled who are often forgotten in our modern society, and she urged them to become pioneers in the mitzvah of honoring these precious human beings. She herself was a precious human being, and I miss her very much.

In honor of her memory, I would like to share with you some information about the organization, “Yad Sarah” – Israel’s largest voluntary organization. It began as a mitzvah project of a young Chareidi teacher, Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky, who decided to acquire and lend medical equipment, free of charge, to anyone who needed it. He called the project “Yad Sarah” – the Hand of Sarah – in memory of his grandmother, Sarah, who was killed in the Holocaust. His grandmother was known for her acts of loving-kindness. (The word “Yad” is also used as a term for a remembrance or a memorial.)

Today, Yad Sarah has many lending stations throughout Israel where people can borrow medical or rehabilitative equipment free of charge and free of prejudice; thus, people of all faiths and nationalities use its service. As the organization developed, Yad Sarah expanded its program to include various service projects for elders, for individuals with disabilities, the homebound, and other segments of the population whose needs were not being met.

Yad Sarah’s mission is to keep the ill and the elderly in their homes and out of institutions as long as possible, for home care in their natural environment with the help of family members, neighbors, and/or volunteers is often the most conducive to healthy recuperation, both physically and emotionally. It also costs both family and State much less.

Yad Sarah realizes that the family members who care for their loved ones who cannot function on their own also need support. In order to prevent burnout in the family members resulting from the heavy burden of caring for their dear ones, Yad Sarah has recently begun a support service for them including: strengthening the sense of security and capabilities of family caregivers, providing tools for coping with the patient’s functionality, teaching ways to provide efficient care without wearing down the caregiver, and helping them in exercising their rights. They also started a program in Jerusalem where trained volunteers come once or twice a week to give family caregivers a break. The purpose behind the project is two-fold: to give family caregivers a chance to step out and care for their own needs, and to provide, at the same time, a social experience for the housebound patient.

The Israeli government awarded Yad Sarah the Israel Prize in 1994 for its unique contribution “to the Society and the State.” The prize committee specifically cited its great impact on Israeli life and the fact that it is completely non-sectarian and non-discriminatory in providing help to all who need it. In addition, Yad Sarah is a Chareidi-sponsored organization which has brought together volunteers from all the diverse communities living in Israel. Orthodox Jews and non-Orthodox Jews, as well as volunteers who aren’t Jewish, are working together in a spirit of unity to serve other human beings who are in need. It is a project that has won international acclaim, and officials from many countries have come to Israel to study Yad Sarah’s innovative programs in order to see how these services can be provided in their own countries.

Yes, the work of Yad Sarah reminds me of the loving spirit of my sister, Devorah. You can learn more about their work by visiting their website.


Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

Hazon – Our Universal Vision

(Picture courtesy of

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

10 Ways Torah Can Become "Torah Nefulah," Fallen Torah - Guest Post

(Guest Post by Rabbi Micha Golshevsky from A Fire in Breslov. He wrote me with 10 ways one can have Torah Nefulah, fallen Torah, through each of the 10 midos/sefiros. This is in response to my post here, where I posed the question to people to point out some practical examples of Torah Nafulah.)

I saw your question regarding toros nefulos and decided to jot down ten ways.

1) Through fallen Chesed. Someone wants an illicit desire so much that he twists his learning so that it is moreh heter to him as in the following story: Rav Huna made a fairly well known statement. One who did a sin and "shanah bah," repeated it, the sin has unfortunately become "k'heter," something that no longer smacks of sin to the sinner himself. The Satamar Rebbe would explain this in a novel way: "There are some people whose lack of yiras shomayim drives them to try and 'purify a sheretz'—to illegitimately rationalize improper behavior. Such people think that they are accomplished scholars, and they are willing to concoct a 'halachic' way permit almost any wrong. Rav Huna means that if one did a sin and knows how to learn (v'shanah), he will find a way to justify his misdeed. Then he can say in all innocence, 'hutra'—it's permitted. His ability to learn is what keeps him sinning!"

2) Through fallen Gevrah: one twists halacha to allow his anger, spite, jealously etc to surface. A story to illistrate: once a chasid was sitting next to a non chasid who was holding the shmiras halashon. The non chasid said, "You are correct but there are five situations when it is permissible to speak lashon hara. If one doesn't work hard on ahavas Yisrael, he will find that he learns these halachos to apply to every person he has an inner (hidden) desire to speak against."

3) Through fallen Tiferes: Learns Torah without ever giving a thought to come to lishmah. This kind of shelo lishmah will never become lishmah. (Chidah Rav Yisrael Salanter etc.)He is not thinking about bringing splendor into the world by yearning for balance and completion through his learning which is the essense of Tiferes.

4) Through fallen Netzach: One who learns or is meiyen in order to defeat another.

5) Through fallen Hode. he learns only to nly about learning for self beautification.For example he learns only to attain a position. If he does not become a dayan he will virtually regret all the work he put into it. (E.g: Why don't I get any respect around here?)

6)Through fallen Yesod: he only learns to give over to others and get honor that way. The moment he no longer needs to give a shiur etc he stops learning. It is only the pleasure of being the big shot that gives this person the impetus to learn.

7) Through fallen Malchus. One who has such low self confidence that he is always sabatoging himself by feeling frozen up and not asking when unsure because of self doubt. This type of false humiilty allows one's Torah to get him no where.

8) All the above leads to fallen Chochmah Binah and Da'as. Rav Nosson explains (in a different context but it seems to me to apply here as well) that at this state one learns only to "attain levels or prophecy" but much like Bila'am one has feels no desire to change. More than that one doesn't even feel a need to change since spirituality for this person is only the "high" of learning and feeling puffed up without any real change. This learning is patently false and the oppositie of Torah for in the Shulchan Aruch we pasken that a Rav without yiras shamayim is like the most ulearned person (k'kal shebitzibur!)

Rav Tzadok Hakohain writes that the seven Shabbosos of nechamah represent the seven lower midos-Sefiros. (Pri Tzaddik parshas Ma'asei #11. The first three are the three haftoros of puranios that just passed.) So one who is willing can work on one aspect per week starting right now!

Of course there are many many levels of all the above and many other ways to get Torah nefulah but that's probably enough for one to work on for now.

-Dixie Yid

Picture courtesy of Abhinav Jain. Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shabbos Nachamu and Nechama- The Secret Formula For Healing and For Everything Else- Audio Shiur

I am pleased to present a shiur from Reb Yerachmiel given last year at the Baltimore Community Kollel's Tefillah Chaburah about Shabbos Nachamu.

In this audio shiur given last year on the topic of "Shabbos Nachamu", Reb Yerachmiel teaches the Torahs of the Ramban, Ramak, Shelah Ha'Kadosh, the Mishna Berurah and Rav Shimshon Pincus, which are all linked in that they reveal the mysterious and miraculous formula that words of Torah have to heal, protect and assist us in literally every aspect of of our lives.

While placing his usual emphasis on Shemoneh Esrei and the need for continued tefillos for Moshiach, particularly in the post-Tisha B'Av months, Reb Yerachmiel explains how the opening words of the Haftorah, "Nachamu Nachamu Ami, Yomar Elokeichem" have the unique power to console, and also provides a fresh look at Parshas Va'Eschanan opening our eyes to the pure D'Vaykus Ba'Hashem that this week's parshas ha'shavua contains.

CLICK HERE to get the shiur, either by "left clicking" to listen now or "right clicking" and selecting "Save Target As" to download.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of daylife)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What are "Toros Nefulos" and How Does One Lift Them Up?

In the second piece in the Likutei Halachos Chumash in Parshas Maasei, Rebbe Noson writes that many of a Jews travels are for the purpose of being blown around through the winds of the world to be exposed to "Toros Nefulos," fallen Torahs. These fallen Torahs contain elements of truth, that must be grasped, while their chaff must be thrown away.

I was speaking about this Torah with a friend who learns a lot more Breslov chassidus than I do, and he suggested that Toros Nefulos are, for instance, Torahs taught by people who were learning shelo lishmoh, i.e. for ulterior motives. I also suggested that it might mean Torahs that were taught from an academic or historical perspective. There is much sheker, apikorsus and ga'ava in this type of perspective, but there may be true points that can be gleaned from these Torahs and thus lifted up. (See also, Rav Tzvi Leshem's answer to me on the topic of academic Torah study, which he wrote right after getting his doctorate.)

Can anyone out there give me any additional insight into what these "Toros Nefulos," fallen Torahs, are? Shkoyach!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Me)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Are You Doing it B/C of a Natural Inclination or to Serve Hashem?

Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, in his introduction to Mesilas Yesharim, says disparagingly that "if you meditate upon the reality of the majority of the world, [you will see] that most intelligent, bright and sharp people invest most of their energy into investigating the fine points of wisdom and deep research, each person according to the inclination of his intellect and his natural inclinations." Rav Itamar Shwartz clarifies in the 4th Maamar of teh "Pirkei Avodah U'Machshava" section of the 5th Chelek of Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, that this implies that people generally invest their time according to their natural inclinations, and not according to the truth.

He points out that in order to understand how to internalize the words of the Ramchal, one must first ask himself why he wants to do whatever it is that he wants to do. Is it because it is the desire of his body or because it is the desire of his neshoma? And even if it is the desire of his neshoma, there is an even higher and truer level. There is the etzem haneshoma, the essential soul, and there is the levush haneshama, the external aspects of the soul. For instance, one may want to do good things because it is the natural inclination of the soul, irrespective of whether that thing is being done in the service of Hashem or not.

One may do something because of the natural inclinations of the external aspect of the neshoma, as opposed to doing it because of the essential neshoma's desire, which is only to give nachas ruach to the Creator. Examples of this would include serving Hashem because it is enjoyable or serving Hashem because one wants to personally be privileged to be close to Hashem. There is a test to determine whether one is serving Hashem because one wants to give nachas ruach, pleasure, to Hashem or as an expression of some natural inclination of the levush haneshoma, the external aspect of the neshoma. Would you give up personal closeness to Hashem or give up the pleasure of being davek to Hashem if it were Hashem's will that you do so?

I think this is the vort in the final test of Avraham Avinu, the killing of his son Yitzchak. Avraham devoted his life to serving Hashem through the mida of Chesed, kindness and love. He loved Hashem and the desire of chesed and love is to expand and share that love. Therefore, he devoted himself to sharing his love and devotion with Hashem with others, till he had brought thousands into the service of Hashem. But there's a problem. If Avraham's whole nature was one of kindness, was he only serving Hashem because it was just an expression of his nature, in which case he might have done most of what he did even if there was no G-d? Or was he actually doing it to serve Hashem? The only way Hashem "could tell" was by telling Avraham to do something in the service of G-d that was completely and totally against his nature. In doing so with the same zrizus that he approached his other mitzvos, Avraham showed that he was indeed serving G-d in order to do G-d's will, and not his own. Thus, he revealed that not only the Akeida was done just for Hashem's sake and not his own, but also every act of Chesed was revealed to be an act of serving G-d, and not merely acting out his "natural inclinations."
May Hashem help us clarify to ourselves whether our desires are l'shem shamayim, for the sake of doing Hashem's will, or are just to express our own individual inclinations, regardless of the Ratzon Hashem. And once He helps us gain that clarity, may He assist us and cause us to do His will for the sake of giving Him nachas ruach, not not for any personal motivation!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Remembering the Churban Beis HaMikdash - Part 4 - Tisha B'Av -

Remembering the Churban Beis HaMikdash

Torah Insights for Enabling Us to Feel the Loss and Yearn for the Rebuilding
of the Beis HaMikdash


Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern

Reprinted from the booklet with permission by the author.

Part Four


The Shelah Hakadosh(End of Mesechta Succah [Amud Hashalom]) adds another insight into why we don’t feel the churban or await Moshiach. He writes, “My heart was always ablaze upon seeing the Children of Israel building homes like castles and making permanent dwelling places for themselves in this (transitory) world. This appears as if one is inattentive (maisi'ach da’as) of the redemption! Therefore my children, if Hashem blesses you with great wealth, don’t build extravagant homes, rather build yourselves houses that conform to your (real) needs and necessities, and no more.” The Shelah’s message is that the more we become preoccupied with worldly matters (olam hazeh), the more we become “embedded” in them. Preoccupation with olam hazeh results in becoming oblivious to awaiting Moshiach’s arrival.

Even though the Shelah is addressing wealthy people, nevertheless his principle can apply to anyone. A person who gets involved in his own materialistic world can eventually become so attached and involved in it that he can totally become – chas veshalom – uninterested in the coming of Moshiach.

This concept is illustrated by a story of a traveling Rav who found lodging in the attic of a farmer’s home. After midnight, the farmer was awakened by strange sounds emanating from the Rav’s room. He ascended to the attic and found the Rav wailing and moaning. Slightly bewildered, the farmer asked the Rav if he was feeling well and offered some medical assistance. The Rav replied that he was merely reciting his nightly tikun chatzos, and then started to explain the essence and purpose of the tefillah to the farmer who was unfamiliar with it.

As the Rav concluded, with an outburst of emotion he suddenly asked the farmer, “Tell me, if Moshiach were to appear suddenly, would you be ready to pack your belongings and come with me immediately to Eretz Yisrael?”

After a moment, the farmer replied, “This is impossibility, as our livelihood depends on our chickens, geese and livestock.”

Taken aback, the Rav exclaimed, “What would you do if the Cossacks, who are presently on the rampage, approached your estate with the goal of killing every Jew in sight? Would you then think twice about your chickens, geese and livestock?”
The farmer thought again and replied, “Rebbe, I hear your point. Let Moshiach come now, but when he comes, let him take the Cossacks to Eretz Yisrael, and I’ll remain here with my farm, chickens, geese and livestock!”

We too should honestly examine ourselves to see if we are ready to abandon our present lifestyle and start a new life of total spirituality centered around avodas Hashem.

Underscoring this sentiment, the Midrash comments on the psukim stating that the Jewish nation will find no rest in its exile (Devarim, 28:65; Eicha 1:3). The Midrash (Midrash Eicha ad. loc) writes that had Klal Yisrael found peace and tranquility in its exile, the people would not long to return to Eretz Yisrael. Rav Avigdor Miller adds that the cause of baseless anti-semitism throughout our exile is Hashem’s way of constantly reminding us that we are in galus and to instill a desire for the building of the Beis Hamikdash. (cf Siddur Bais Yaakov, ibid. )


What should we do if we have tried our utmost and are still unable to feel the churban and properly yearn for Moshiach’s arrival?
One idea given by the ba’alei mussar is to think of something distressing that will arouse our emotions and then superimpose these feelings on the churban Bais Hamikdash.

This idea is based on a story told in the Midrash of a widow who resided near Rabban Gamliel. When she lost one of her sons, the sounds of her sobs echoed through the silence of the Babylonian night reaching the ears of the Rabban Gamliel and stimulating him to join her and cry for the churban Beis Hamikdash (Midrash Eicha, 1:24).

Therefore we should read about the atrocities that our Nation suffered by the murder and torture of millions of men, women and children during the holocaust that happened so recently. Once these stories arouse our inner emotions, we should transfer these heartbreaking and painful feelings to the churban Bais Hamikdash.
If this method is unsuccessful, Rav Shlomo Brevda once remarked that if a person cannot feel distressed and troubled over the churban, then at least he should feel distressed and troubled about the fact that he cannot properly mourn the destruction.
With the liberation of the Old City during the Six-Day War, Israeli soldiers, weeping with emotion, fell upon the Kosel Hama’aravi and stood in awe at the last remaining segment of the Beis Hamikdash. The picture of those weeping soldiers is etched forever in the minds of those who saw it. In the rear of those huddled close to the Kosel were two soldiers who came from a non-religious kibbutz. They looked around, overwhelmed by emptiness as the holiness and significance of the Kosel had no meaning for them. Suddenly, one of them began to cry uncontrollably. The second soldier, surprised by the sudden outburst, asked his colleague, “Why are you crying?” With tears rolling down his cheeks, the soldier replied, “I am crying because I don’t know what there is to cry about!” (Around the Maggid’s Table p. 105)


We conclude Kinos with words of consolation so that we should finish with a feeling of comfort and hope for the future. (Rama O.C., 559:5)
Rav Avrohom Shag, one of the gedolim of Hungary, had a lifelong dream of retiring in Yerushalayim. His dream became a reality in 1873 when he arrived in Yaffo accompanied by his loyal talmid Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld.

Rav Zonnenfeld vividly relates their first Friday night at the Kosel: “Words cannot describe the Rebbi’s deep emotions during the Lecha Dodi prayers. When he came to the phrase, ‘Mikdash Melech ir Melucha – Sanctuary of the King, Royal City (i.e., the Beis Hamikdash, Yerushalayim), come forth from amidst your ruins, too long have you dwelt in the valley of weeping… (i.e., the churban),’ he lifted his hands heavenward, while streams of tears descended from his eyes. The Rav was totally enveloped in the cloak of emotions, which expressed his longing for Klal Yisrael’s speedy redemption and the Shechina’s glory reinstated.

“Afraid for the Rav’s health,” Rav Zonnenfeld continues, “I was about to awaken him from his trance, when suddenly his countenance changed, a ray of happiness lighting up his face. Thus, he concluded the phrase in a loud voice, ‘Vehu yachmol alayich chemla’ – And He will have compassion on you.” (Adapted from Guardian of Jerusalem, Artscroll, p. 68)

This beautiful story depicts a duality that is the essence of our avodah on Tisha B’Av – on one hand, the expressions of anguish over the churban, tzar haShechina, and the dark galus. On the other hand, the hope toward the glorious sunlight, the light of Moshiach, the Beis Hamikdash and the Divine presence.
May we merit a speedy redemption bimheira veyameinu.

וצום החמישי . . . יהיה לבית יהודה לששון ולשמחה)... זכריה ח:י"ט)

…And the fast of the fifth (month) …will be to the house
of Yehuda for joy & gladness…( Zechariah 8:19)

2085,1674 BCE – Avrohom Avinu binds Yitzchok on Har HaBayis
2185,1574 BCE – Yaakov Avinu dreams of the ladder to heaven on Har Habayis
2921,840 BCE – Dovid Hamelech buys land for the First Beis Hamikdash
2928,833 BCE – Shlomo Hamelech builds the First Beis Hamikdash
3338,423 BCE – (9 Av) Nevuchadnezer destroys the First Beis Hamikdash and exiles Jews to Bavel. The Kosel remains
3390,371 BCE – Persian King Koresh temporarily allows rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash
3408,353 BCE – King Daryavesh, Queen Esther’s son, permits rebuilding the Beis Hamikdash (70 years after destruction of the First Beis Hamikdash)
3448,313 BCE – Alexander the Great conquers Eretz Yisrael
3699,143 BCE – Antiochus IV plunders the Beis Hamikdash and sets up idol
3621,139 BCE – Yerushalayim recaptured and the Beis Hamikdash rededicated (Chanukah)
3725,836; 33 BCE – Hurdos makes the the Beis Hamikdash the most beautiful building in the Roman Empire
3828,68 CE – (9 Av) Romans under Titus besiege Yerushalayim, the Second Beis Hamikdash destroyed but The Kosel remains (Some say it was in the year 3829)

Some dates are approximate. Source: Toldos Am Olam, Vol. 1 pp 38-54

1840,1911 – Turks ban Sifrei Torah and chairs at the Kosel to inhibit Jews from davening there
1917 – To pacify the Arabs, British reconfirm ban on Sifrei Torah, etc.
1948 – Jews surrender the Old City to Jordan (War of Independence). Jews’ access to the Kosel guaranteed, but revoked. No Jews allowed for 19 years
1967 – Old City liberated. The Kosel returns to Jewish hands

All that remains is a remnant of our crowning glory. This illustration approximately shows the part of the Kosel visible today, in comparison to its true size.

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

He Guides Us Like Children - Learning to Make It On Our Own

The Toldos Yaakov Yosef has a teaching at the beginnig of Parshas Maasei that really reflects my experience over time from intially becoming religious until now.

He's addressing the question, "How could it be that all Jewish people experienced the highest levels of Nevuah, prophecy and relelation, immediately after Yetzias Mitzrayim when they will weren't terribly distinguishable from the Egyptians? How could they experience levels of prophecy as great as Yechezkel Hanavi even while awake, when the Torah later says that only Moshe Rebbeinu merited such a level?"

He essentially answers that Hashem, at the beginning of our nation's existance as sevants of G-d, temporarily just handed us a great spiritual level without any real work or attainment on our part. He just wanted us to understand what kind of level a human being who serves G-d is capable of attaining so that we would know what our goal should be for the future. We then had to work, step by step, slowly but surely, back up to that level through the 49 days of the sefirah, up to Har Sinai, where we, again received the full relevalation of Hashem because "pasku zuhamasan." However, again, this level was only temporary and we were left on our own to slowly and gradually re-attain those lofty levels that we were initially just handed "for free," to get us hooked, so to speak.

He compares it to how a father initally trains his child to walk by holding the child's hand and helping the child walk at first. But at a certain point, the father withdraws his help so that the child can learn to walk on his/her own. (I can relate to this as well since we're almost up to this with our youngest daughter who was born just over a year ago.) The child will fall a few times, but this is necessary so that they child will learn to attain that skill on her own.

I can certainly relate to this. When I was first becoming religious, I was able to make huge strides in my mitzvah observance with relatively little effort. At one point, for instance, I had just read The World of the Yeshiva and Tradition in a Rootless World: Women Turn to Orthodox Judaism, two books which weren't meant to be so positive towards Frumkeit. Reading more about the orthodox life though, made me realize that I would be terribly stunted in my growth if I didn't start keeping "shomer negiah" and "kol isha," i.e. abstaining from physical contact with women and not listening to women singing. So in a very short period of time, while still in high school, I gave those things up. It wasn't a total breeze, but compared to the improvements I try to engage in now, it was much easier.

I definitely feel like for those first couple of years, Hashem was holding my hand and just leading me along the path till I got to a point where I could stay basically religious on my own. However, after those early stages, I feel like he said to me, "My dearest Yid from Dixie, it is time for me to let go now. If you want to keep growing closer to me, you're going to have to do it on your own now." It's a sad transition, but it is obviously the whole purpose of why we are created; to attain closeness with G-d through our own efforts, sacrifices & hishtadlus.

May Hashem help us attain the highest levels even after He has let go of our hands and expexts us to do it on our own. And may He continue to give us little nudges in the right direction!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of timbarcz)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Memo From THE Managing Partner re Billable Hours

From: THE Managing Partner

To: All Associates

Re: Billable Hours

Dear Associates:

It has come to My attention that we have not yet reached full complience with My last memo, issued in 1313 BCE. Therefore, I want to institute a billable hours system, similar to the system used by law firms. I have observed that associates in law firms with an annual billable hour requirement for bonuses and partnership-track-advancement use every second in order to work for their clients so that they can bill the time.

In order to be able to bill enough hours to get their bonuses, law firm associates work on the train, on planes, they think about their client's case on the way to the restroom, they stop going out to lunch and many other innovative ways to maximize their time, and thus, their billable hours.

It stands to reason that if more of My associates would adopt this approach, that spiritual productivity and profits would be up significantly. If everyone took the "billable hours" approach to their service in My firm, it would be a much better place.

So I encourage all of My associates to do Shnayim Mikrah on the train, listen to Daf Yomi in your mp3 player, and the like, mentally review the morning's (or the night's sugya on the way to the bathroom [but not in it!]) and work nights and weekends as well to build up your billables.

I look forward to seeing the results of this new aproach.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of futureofthebook)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Southern Dixie Yid Logo :-)

Inspired by Dan Weinstein's Jack Daniels-inspired logo for Dixie Yid, I went and created another one just for fun. Enjoy!

-Dixie Yid

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Introductory Shiur to "Da Es Atzmecha" - Rav Weinberger - Free download

With thanks to Neil Harris at Modern Uberdox for pointing this out to me, y'all might be interested in knowing that the first shiur by Rav Moshe Weinberger from Cong. Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY, on the sefer Da Es Atzmecha, is, for the time being, available for free download from Aish Kodesh's website.

Getting to Know Me (1) - An Introduction to Self Knowledge and Self Repair

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Yitzi Mayer)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Teka B'Shofar- Yearning To See the Nais (Bain Ha'Mitzarim) - Audio Shiur

I am proud to present the latest shiur from this past Sunday's Baltimore Community Kollel Tefillah Chaburah with Reb Yerachmiel.

In his latest shiur given at the Baltimore Community Kollel, Reb Yerachmiel discussed the bracha of "Teka B'Shofar" in the context of the Bain Ha'Mitzarim, and borrowed from the seforim of Rav Pincus, the Sifse Chaim, Rav Chazkel Levenstein, the Aish Kodesh and divre Chazal in an effort to ensure that each of us and our loved ones, not only hear the sound of the Shofar, but have the cognizance to see Hashem's "Nais" (Banner/Miracle) and follow it to Yerushalayim Rebuilt.
May we all be zoche, bimhaira beyomainu.

CLICK HERE to download the shiur by either left clicking to listen right away or "right clicking" and selecting "Save Target As."

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Lazer Beams)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Keeping My Head on Straight When Applying for Summer Associateships

I'm in the process now of seeking out and applying for summer associateships for next summer as part of my law school's fall recruitment program. That's with the goal in mind of ultimately finding a firm to work in once I finish law school. With all of this going on, it's hard to get a proper perspective on reality. Unfortunately, many of the things that I've hard are required to do well in law firm life, long term, lead to a mindset of mochin d'katnus, small mindedness.

I know that this idea is the opposite of what most people think. What could be better than being a "rainmaker" in a big firm, spending hours at ballgames, golf courses, or Nicks' games with clients worth millions of dollars, and which could bring millions of dollars in legal fees into the firm, all thanks to you!? Hey, the small timers deal with small clients, small cases & small courts. But the "big firms" deal with "big" clients, "big" deals and "big" courts. The problem is that the more I or we get caught up in the "big" things of this world, we start to think of them as truly the big and important things of the world, and forget about the fact that they are meaningless in reality.

Whether we work on "small things" in this world or the "big, important" things, why should we be doing them? Because they are big or important things, inherently? No. They aren't. Rather, we only do it because it is Hashem's will. I must remember that whether I'm writing a Legal Memorandum for an attorney in a case where $5,000 is on the line, or $5,000,000 is on the line, I must do a good job because it is the Ratzon Hashem, Hashem's will, to do the right thing and make a kidush Hashem by doing excellent work.

But if I ever end up doing these "big" things, and thinking of only them as "big" and feeling big and important because of the job I have or am doing, I must remember that this is the biggest mochin d'katnus, small mindedness that I could fall into, R"L.

In parshas Matos, we read that the people of Gad & Reuven had much wealth in the form of cattle and told Moshe (Bamidbar 32:16) that they would "גִּדְרֹת צֹאן נִבְנֶה לְמִקְנֵנוּ פֹּה, וְעָרִים, לְטַפֵּנוּ," build pens for their sheep and cities for their children." It is well known that Moshe rebuked them for their bad order of priorities, since they placed their sheep (their wealth) before their children in telling Moshe what they would do before coming to help the rest of the Jewish people conquor the land of Israel. Therefore Moshe told them (id. at 24)"בְּנוּ-לָכֶם עָרִים לְטַפְּכֶם, וּגְדֵרֹת לְצֹנַאֲכֶם." "[First] build cities for your children [and then] pens for your sheep."

Similarly, the Gemara in Bava Basra 10b tells the following story: "יוסף בריה דר' יהושע חלש אינגיד א"ל אבוה מאי חזית א"ל עולם הפוך ראיתי עליונים למטה ותחתונים למעלה א"ל עולם ברור ראית." "Yosef, the son of Rebbe Yehoshua [had a near death experience]. His father said to him, 'What did you see?' He said, 'I saw an upside-down world. Those who are high were down low and those who are low, were up high.' He said to him, 'You have seen a clear world.'"

The light of this world's brightest and most important-seeming things have the strongest ability to blind us from our own knowledge of the truly important things in life and turn our sense of our priorities upside-down. May Hashem help me and others keep our propper perspective in life and recognize the things of this world as the small things that they are. May he help us do our best to do an excellent job in them despite our consciousness of them being small things, while having in mind that we are doing so because it is the Ratzon Hashem, Hashem's will.
-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of ctemploymentlaw)

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Rav Mottel Zilber's Shiur at Yeshivas Derech Hamelech on the Three Weeks

With thanks, again, to Reb David Levy, I am happy to share this shiur given during the three weeks at Yeshivas Derech Hamelech, by Rav Mottel Zilber, the son-in-law of Rav Moshe Wolfson. CLICK HERE to listen.

-Dixie Yid

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Help Needed to Disseminate Bilvavi Audio CDs Online & In Stores!

Rav Kosman, of the Master Daf and Master Mishna series, has produced a full set of audio shiurim on mp3, translating and explaining Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, volume one. He is also in the process of creating a similar set of shiurim for the Da Es Atzmecha sefer. The translation/explanation of Bilvavi Vol. one is already available on one CD for $20, which includes the translation/explanation of the whole sefer.

The problem is that there is no one marketing these CDs for sale either online or in stores. My friend Zev Polansky has spearheaded the effort to create these mp3 shiurim on CD. But now, he needs help in getting them out to people both online and/or in stores. If you would be willing to help Zev out with this, it would be greatly appreciated. You may e-mail Zev to inquire about helping out with this. It will be a big mitzvah for anyone willing to help. Tizku l'mitzvos!

Update: As of now you can order these CDs with all of the shiurim in mp3 form of the whole Volume 1 of Bilvavi translated and explained directly from Rav Kosman by e-mailing him.

-Dixie Yid

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox.