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Drop some coins each morning into the Yagdil Torah פושקא located in 770.
Pushka location: Walk down the main aisle toward the doors, it is on your  on the right side at shoulder height.

Chalukas Hashas 5773   Giving has never been easier

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Chof Beis Sivan, 5774

A wealthy man passed away, leaving his immense fortune to his young son. The child was extremely limited in his mental and social abilities, and the doctors recommended that he be sent to an institution where he would achieve significant growth. However, the only food available to him there would be non-kosher food. Were the child's relatives allowed to send the boy to such an institution?

The rabbi of the city, Rabbi Hirsh Openheim, relayed the question to Rabbi Moshe Sofer, famously known as the Chassam Sofer. The Chassam Sofer replied that if the child could halachically be defined as a shoteh-a mentally deranged individual who is exempt from performing mitzvos-it would be permitted to send him to the institution. Although the gemara deduces from a passuk that it is prohibited for an adult to feed non-kosher food to a child or shoteh (see Yevamos 114a), it would be permitted in this scenario, as doing so would enable him to eventually reach a level of mental awareness that would enable him to perform mitzvos. Halachah allows for the temporary waiving of this prohibition in order to reach this long-term benefit.

However, to define the child as a shoteh is not that simple. A shoteh is characterized as one who exhibits bizarre conduct, such as ripping his clothing or sleeping in the cemetery (see Chagigah 3b). In this case, however, the child wasn't displaying idiotic behavior; he was merely cognitively inhibited. Sending him to an institution would thus not have the advantage of enabling him to fulfill mitzvos, as he would be obligated in them regardless; it would just enable him to properly function and deal with others. This by itself would not warrant the transgression of feeding a child non-kosher food.

In this situation, however, the relatives would not be feeding him the food themselves; they would merely be transferring him to the care of the institution, without actually instructing them to feed him non-kosher food. The Chassam Sofer therefore concluded that halachically, it was permitted to send the child to the institution. However, he would need to be removed upon reaching the age of thirteen, because he himself would then be forbidden to consume such food.

However, concluded the Chassam Sofer, he would not recommend them to send the boy to the institution at all. It is known that non-kosher food taints the heart and produces negative character traits. Said the Chassam Sofer, "It is better he remain mentally delayed all his life than to be a rasha for one moment before Hashem!"

(Based on Shu"t Chasam Sofer, Orach Chaim §83)

Love Your Fellow as Yourself Chof Beis Sivan, 5774

One should inspire others to increase their Torah study. Indeed, influencing others is an expression of the commandment, "You shall love your fellow as yourself" which is an important principle of the Torah. In fact, "This is the entire Torah and the rest is commentary"

Toras Menachem 5748, vol. 2, p. 169ff.


Ches Sivan, 5774

True or False?

"Come on Yossi!"

"Yes you can!"

"You can do it!"

"You are THE most energetic and agile runner!"

At first, these comments encouraged Yossi and helped run at his absolute fastest speed. Then, he realized these comments weren't true. He wasn't THE fastest runner (though he was plenty fast). He slowed down and ended up coming in 5th place. Torah is not there to inspire us-though it certainly does; instead, it tells us what IS.

When Torah tells us that through Limmud Torah we are fulfilling our primary purpose in life, this isn't an embellishment meant to encourage us to go faster and further. Rather, it is telling us the truth! So while the goal isn't inspiration, per se, the result is majorly so.


Ches Sivan, 5774

A prosperous man in the city of Temeshvar (in present-day Romania) passed away at a young age, leaving his immense wealth as an inheritance to his only son, then five years old. The son was far from capable of handling his new fortune; in fact, aside from his young age, he had severe social and mental disabilities. At the age of seven, although able to speak, all he did was mumble a mixture of unintelligible words, and his actions and conduct pointed to an extremely low level of comprehension.

Being that money was not an issue, the child's relatives summoned the greatest doctors in the city to evaluate the boy. After a thorough analysis, the doctors suggested that he be sent to an institution either in Vienna or near Pest (part of present-day Budapest), where he would be provided with the necessary tools to achieve mental and social growth. Although he was not expected to ever reach the level of comprehension of an average adult, the doctors predicted that he would see much progress, and perhaps even be able to live and provide for himself independently one day.

There was one issue, however: One of the policies of the institution was that each patient was required to fully integrate with the others; as such, he would be forced to partake of the non-kosher food served to the people living there. Were the child's relatives permitted to send him to the institution?

Don't work, invest! Ches Sivan, 5774

Torah study must be pursued as a business, and a Jew must see himself as the owner of that business, perpetually animated by an intense desire to aggrandize his enterprise. This sort of drive cannot be achieved by a salaried employee. Though this employee may be dedicated, the inner workings of the business are simply of no concern to him.

Toras Menachem 5742 P. 88


Chof Iyar, 5774

What Would You Do?

Let's take a look at Reuven. His friend, Shimon, has saved him numerous times, in several areas:

He has loaned Reuven $150 K to help him get "back on his feet," and invest in a new business.

Shimon has rescued him from a life of loneliness by finding him a shidduch long after all the shadchanim had considered him a lost cause.

One day, Shimon frees up some time and requests a favor of Reuven: Would he be his chavrusa for an hour a day? In truth, this is something which Reuven has wanted to make time for anyway, but his schedule is chock full and he finds it difficult to acquiesce.

Should Reuven show his gratefulness for all Shimon has done for him and "squeeze" time out to learn with him, or should he keep life simple and decline? What do you think?

However much Shimon has bailed out Reuven, Hashem has saved us immeasurably more so. Hashem is constantly liberating us, in all areas of our lives. We thank him daily in Modim "for the miracles that are with us every day." Yet, though he asks of us to be his "chavrusa," as Chazal say, "One who learns, Hashem learns with Him," it's something we want to do, we'd love to do, but find ourselves just a bit too busy and tired to do...


Chof Iyar, 5774

The "Trolley Problem" is a well known scenario that has been widely debated. The case, briefly, is as follows: a trolley cart is traveling down a track towards a group of five people-about to run them over. You are able to divert the cart onto a different track by pulling a lever, thereby saving these five lives. However, on this second track is one person who will be killed if you divert the cart.

Do you pull the lever and save the five? How would Halacha deal with this issue?

The Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 5:5) deals with a similar case (based on the Yerushalmi, Terumos, end of chapter 8). He writes that in a case where gentiles demand one Jew from a certain city be handed over to be executed and if not the entire city will be destroyed, it is nevertheless forbidden to give up a single Jewish life, even though doing so would save the entire city. Seemingly, the same rationale could be applied to our case: It would be forbidden to pull the lever, as it would enable one to "give up" that one person, as specified in the Rambam's case.

The Chazon Ish (Sanhedrin, 25) cites a case perfectly analogous to our trolley case. He writes that if someone sees a projectile sailing through the air towards a group of people, and he is able to intercept this projectile, but in doing so he would have to divert it towards a single person-what should he do? This case is an exact match to our "Trolley Problem."

The Chazon Ish suggests that this case may be different from the case of the Rambam, as in this case you are directly saving someone with your action. Therefore, this act may be considered an "act of saving," even if it leads to an individual death. In the case of the Rambam, the act of handing someone over to be killed is an act of killing. Yes, the rest of the town would be saved, but it's not your act directly which saves them; it is merely an outcome of your act of killing. Therefore, suggests the Chazon Ish, this case is not analogous to the case of the Rambam. Here, it would be permitted to divert the projectile (or in our case, pull the lever), since it would be considered an "act of saving" [five lives] and we generally try to minimize [Jewish] death.

The Rebbe, however, (Reshima #123) seems to understand the Rambam as we originally thought, and does not take into account the suggestion of the Chazon Ish. He writes-quoting the Rambam's din-that we see from here that Torah does not value multiple lives over a single life. He understood the Rambam to be setting out a basic premise, and therefore, even in our scenario, the Rambam's din would apply and one would be forbidden to pull the lever. The Rebbe goes on to explain the rationale behind this law, saying that since a Jew's soul is part of the infinite Hashem, two souls are no more an expression of Him than is one soul. Infinite plus infinite is still infinite.

Actually, Zevulun's Torah is greater than Yissachar's Chof Iyar, 5774

"I will lead you, I will bring you to my mother's home ..." (Shir ha-Shirim 2:8)

A businessman, too, must aside itim la-Torah, time for Torah study. True, the businessman performs avodas Hashem primarily by being conscientious in his work. However, he must first saturate his thoughts and his speech with Torah, by setting aside itim la-Torah. Only then can Torah fully penetrate his actions. This is expressed by the pasuk with the words "I would give you spiced wine to drink": the nourishing sustenance of the Torah is absorbed first and foremost by setting aside time to learn.

A businessman, though, is not merely required to set aside itim la-Torah like other Jews. On the contrary: more than individuals with passive occupations, when a businessman sets aside time to learn, he is capable of achieving askafya, the highest level of avodas Hashem. Therefore, the businessman's pursuit of Torah is described as yayin ha-rekach, spiced wine-a fragrant, all-encompassing mitzva.

Toras Menachem 5742 P. 604