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Guard Your Eyes
Heichal Halimmud

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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Yud Beis Adar, 5777

Throughout the ages, humans have always been fascinated by the notion that there might be other worlds out there somewhere, populated by unknown civilizations and strange creatures. In the past these ideas were mere figments of imagination, but with the advent of the Space Age, advanced technology allows us to probe the distant corners of the universe, searching for the elusive sign of life on another planet. Although science has yet to find proof of any such existence-even in the form of a miniscule microbe or bacteria-the search is still on, and humans everywhere are eager to see what findings lie ahead of us.

What is the Torah view of extraterrestrial life? Can it be that life exists elsewhere, aside from on our planet? If yes, what type of creatures inhabit these other worlds? And what does all this have to do with us and our mission in serving Hashem?

One of the first to discuss this topic was R. Chisdai Crescas, a Rishon who lived in Barcelona, Spain, during the fourteenth century. In his sefer Or Hashem (4:2), he devotes an entire chapter to the possibility of the existence of numerous worlds. After discussing at length the philosophical pros and cons of both sides, he concludes that there is no logical argument that rules out the existence of more than one world. Therefore, if we can prove from Chazal that additional worlds do exist, there is no reason to believe otherwise. And R. Chisdai proceeds to cite a proof from Maseches Avodah Zarah.

Yud Beis Adar, 5777

Arrange a Checking Today

One of the first things we do if a medical issue comes up chas veshalam is to check our mezuzos. The Rebbe ingrained in us the oneness between ruchniyos and gashmiyos, and for that reason if there is a physical issue there might be a spiritual issue that must be rectified.

Besides checking our tefillin and mezuzos we can also check our Torah learning. For the Rebbe tells us that increasing in our daily torah learning greatly increases Hashem's blessings for all of one's personal needs, both for the life of the body as well as for the life of the neshama (Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 129 and other places).

Contact your Mashpia or Rov to arrange a checking today!

"Torah Brings Healing" Yud Beis Adar, 5777

Surely you will find the right words with which to explain to ... that his response of "I am entirely incapable of learning Torah at present because I am in pain," is similar to one who is ill and refuses to take medication with the excuse that he is ill.

Similarly, our Sages, of blessed memory, have informed us that "Torah brings healing to the world," and "He whose head or body aches should study Torah."

While it is understandable that in-depth study is difficult while one is in pain, an effort should nevertheless be made. Surely, one can at least study with less concentration - at least [study and recite] the three well-known daily lessons that apply to all, those of Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya, as established by my father-in-law, the Rebbe.

All rights reserved to From Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 175
Originally adapted by S.B. Wineberg in his book Healthy in Body Mind & Spirit - Vol. 1

Chof Tes Shevat, 5777

Right on Schedule

The two famous Rebbes, Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg and Reb Pinchas of Frankfurt were brothers, the sons of the Rabbi of Tchortkov, Reb Tzvi Hirsh Halevi Horowitz. Even as small children they were known as prodigies.

When they were quite young their father took over the duty of teaching them Torah.

It was a challenging job and he taught them as quickly and as much as their brilliant minds could absorb. When they were both well below ten years of age, they were already learning the Talmud with several commentaries.

As part of their schedule, they would learn the laws which pertained to the next approaching holiday. And so, when the holiday of Chanukah ended, their father began the study of the tractate Megilla. Having completed it by Purim, they began learning the tractate dealing with the laws of Passover, which they finished right on target; the day before Pesach.

Shmelke, the elder of the two boys then said to his father, "Now we have to begin learning the tractate Shevuot if we want to finish it by the time Shavuot comes along."

"Do you think that Shevuot deals with the laws of the holiday?" asked their father smiling, for that was not the case.

"No," replied the boy. "I know it deals with the laws of oaths, but I have a reason why we should study it now. On that first Shavuot, all the Jews took an oath at Mount Sinai to keep the commandments of the Torah, and that promise has been binding ever since. I want to learn the laws of oaths so I can understand how important it is to keep a promise and how serious it is to break one. I figured out that there are forty-nine double pages of this tractate and forty-nine days between Pesach and Shavuot, and if we learn a double-page every day, we will finish in time for Shavuot.

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh was pleased by his son's erudite reasoning and he happily agreed to learn according to his suggestion.

By the time, Lag B'Omer had arrived (the thirty-third day of the Omer), they had reached a section in the tractate which mentioned a law in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

Little Shmelke jumped up from the table excitedly: "Father, Father, you see how wonderful! This is the day of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's yahrzeit, the thirty-third day of the Omer, and here his name is mentioned. Not only that, but it says '...and they laughed in the land of Israel,' and everyone knows that it's a custom to make a big celebration in Israel on this day!" The father and sons finished exactly as they had calculated, although they had to study a double-page every day.

The following year when Pesach had passed, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh again asked his sons what they wished to learn in preparation for the holiday of Shavuot. This time the younger child, Pinchas, answered: "I think we should begin the tractates of Ketubot (marriage contracts) and Kiddushin (the laws of marriages)."

Questioned his father, "What do they have to do with Shavuot?"

"That's easy. On Shavuot, G-d took the Jewish people to be His -- it was like a wedding -- and said the words, "And I have betrothed you to Me forever."

You taught us that He held Mount Sinai over our heads like a marriage canopy. The holy words of the Torah were like our marriage contract, and He gave us a gift as well -- the Oral Torah. That is why I think we should learn the laws of marriage contracts and betrothals -- so we will know that the 'wedding' of Israel and G-d was a valid one and that both G-d and the Jews are obligated to fulfill all the points of the contract."

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh couldn't help beaming with pride from his son's well-reasoned words.

The three scholars learned the two tractates in record speed, until forty-nine days later, they celebrated both the holiday of Shavuot and the successful completion of their studies.


L'Chaim 301 With slight editing by the Yagdil Torah Editing Division.

Chof Tes Shevat, 5777

The Gemara states (Yuma 38b) that one may not name his child after a rasha. May someone name his child Yisro, who was an idol-worshipper?

Perhaps it can be argued that this name can be given, based on Rashi's statement (Yisro 18:1) that the name Yisro was given to him after he converted and began fulfilling mitzvos. If so, the name Yisro is a Jewish name and it has no relation to the time when he was an idol worshipper.

Even if Yisro were to have been his original name from birth, perhaps it can still be used:

The mefarshim ask (Tosfos Yeshanim and Ritva, Yuma ad loc.): How it is possible for there to be a tanna named Rebbi Yishmael, if the original Yishmael-Avraham's son-was a rasha? One of the answers given is that the name Yishmael may be used because ultimately he did teshuvah (see Rashi to Chayei Sarah 25:9). (A second answer is that the name Yishmael is different, since Hashem was the one who gave the name-see Lech Lecha 16:11.)

Accordingly, even if Yisro was his original name perhaps it can be used, since he eventually converted and did teshuvah, to the extent that Chazal refer to him as a tzaddik (see Yerushalmi, Berachos 2:8). Indeed, the name Yisro was commonly given in the city of Djerba, Tunisia.

(This may also be the reason the names Ovadayah, Basyah, and Rus are commonly used. Although all three were originally non-Jewish, since they converted and became geirim, their names may be given.)

There is, on the other hand, a source to the contrary. R. Dovid Zacut, Rov of Modena, Italy in the mid-nineteenth century, compiled a sefer on hilchos milah titled Zecher Dovid. He writes that it is not customary to give a child the name of a geir, "such as Onkelos, Yisro, and so on," and anyone who gives such a name "arouses wonder." The reason for this, he explains, is because a person's name is connected with the source of his neshamah. Since the neshamos of geirim come from a unique source, different than other neshamos, one should not name a child after them. (It is unclear, however, why Yisro and Onkelos are different than Ovadyah, Basyah, and Rus.)

Based on Shu"t Lev Chanun 2:54. Zecher Dovid maamar rishon Ch. 91

"Torah Study as an Aid to Various Ailments" כ"ט שבט תשע"ז

Our Sages, of blessed memory, [state] in Eruvin 54a, that "If one has a headache he should study Torah, and if one has a sore throat he should study Torah." The Gemara concludes that when he does so, he will be healed.

The question [regarding this statement] is simple: We observe people who have headaches and study Torah and are not relieved of their headaches.

Of the many answers that are provided to the above question, one of them is that Torah is an entire organism, as it states: "This is the Torah - man." [Just as man is an organic whole, so too is Torah.]

Torah thus contains some elements that relate to the head and other elements that relate to the throat, etc. Thus, when one has a headache, he should study Torah. If G-d blesses him with good fortune and he happens upon that section of Torah that relates to the head, then he will be healed of his headache.

Not everyone, however, is spiritually clear-sighted enough to find the appropriate section of Torah that provides healing for one's headache, or the specific portion of Torah that relieves one's sore throat, etc. ...

All rights reserved to From Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 53.
Originally adapted by Sholom Ber Wineberg in his book Healthy in Body Mind & Spirit - Vol. 1

Chof Beis Shvat Mishnayos and Learning - all new content!
Chof Shevat, 5777

In honor of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka's yahrtzeit, Yagdil Torah is putting out a publication. The pamphlet includes full mishnayos for those who wish to learn it, expanded quotations on women's part in Torah learning, and a short sicha from the Rebbe.

The publication will be available in local shuls, at the Heichal Halimmud, and at our office.

Click here for publication.

Yud Daled Shevat, 5777

It's a Rare Find

"Chaim come check this out. I was going through my attic and I think you'll want these old cups. They were found at the yam suf and traces back to when the Yidden left mitzrayim. They could go for thousands each on the open market! If you want, you can have them."

"Wow, thanks so much Zaidy. Let me just pack them up well so they don't get tarnished."

Chaim finishes packing it all up and is ready to leave.

"Here, just hold on a second Chaim. I forgot another thing that could go for more than ten grand!"

"Whatever. It's fine. I'm already checking whatsapp..."

Imagine you just finished an hour of involved learning, you are now proficient in the opinions of Rashi and Tosfos on the meaning of "meat that has left its borders". You notice the hour is up and close your sefer, but then you notice that the rain is still tapering down. Due to the lack of rain gear it would be best to stay indoors for just one more minute. You now have a painful choice to make; should you check to see if there are any new updates on your phone or should you reopen the highly valued Sefer in front of you?

Tov Li Toras Picha Mialfei Zahav Vochesef

Yud Daled Shevat, 5777

"Viyikarei shmo beyisroel, Yisro ben Moshe..."

The Gemara states (Yuma 38b) that one may not name his child after a rasha, citing the possuk, "Shem resha'im yirkav-The name of resha'im should rot" (Mishlei 10:7). As Rabbeinu Chananel (ad loc.) explains, "A person with such a name will not succeed."

What is the din of giving the name Yisro? Yisro was an idol worshiper who worshiped every single type of deity that existed (Rashi, Yisro 18:11). May someone name his child Yisro, after the father-in-law of Moshe Rabbeinu?

"Joy Over Words of Torah" Yud Daled Shevat, 5777

It is fitting for a person to demonstrate that he is joyous over the words of Torah, both due to his diligence within its portals and because he sometimes discovers that he has studied or understood something new.

All new content in this Kovetz Limmud Yud Shvat Vov Shevat, 5777

On Yud Shvat we mark the Yom Hillulah of the Frierdiker Rebbe. One of the Minhogim the Rebbe set for the day is to learn the Mishnayos of the Frierdiker Rebbe's name.

Yagdil Torah has produced a booklet containing the full Mishnayos (all new) for the Frierdiker Rebbe, along with a specially selected portion of the Frierdiker Rebbe's Torah (all new).

The booklet will be available in local shuls, on our website and in our office.

Click here for the pdf.
Click here for the Russian Version. .

Read an amazing story which shows the importance of learning in connection to a Yom Hilulah of our Rabbeim.

Alef Teves, 5777

Purim Saragossa

The Purim of Saragossa was established in the year 1440, fifty-two years before the Jews were exiled from Spain. In the city of Saragossa, Spain, the Jews were ordered to appear at a public reception honoring the king with all of the Torah scrolls of the community.

The rabbis of the community decided that it would be safer to remove the Torahs from their cases, and were sure that the king would never know the difference.

Unfortunately, there was a Jew in the community named Marcos who was a rebel and a troublemaker. He went to the authorities and betrayed the rabbis' plan, citing the Jews' disrespect for the king as the reason for not bringing the actual scrolls.

The king was furious at this slight and ordered the Jews to open the cases at once. A terror fell upon all the Jews, for the punishment for disobeying the king was the most severe, but they had no choice but to open the cases. They were completely amazed and dumbfounded when they saw that all of the cases contained Torah scrolls.

What they could not have known was that the previous night, the caretaker of the synagogue had a dream in which Eliyahu Hanavi appeared to him and ordered him to replace the scrolls in their cases. The dream was so vivid that the caretaker did as he was instructed, but he had no time to inform the rabbis of his action.

The king saw that the Jews were innocent; the accusation was baseless. To commemorate their redemption, the rabbis established a special Purim to be celebrated throughout the generations on the 17th and 18th of Shevat.

Adapted by L'chaim #359

Chof Tes Teves, 5777

Date: 2448-2488.
Place: In the midbar,
on the way to Eretz Yisrael

One of the many miracles that occurred with the mon was that one was able to enjoy the taste of whatever food he desired. This leads us to an interesting question. What would happen if one desired to taste milk and meat together? Since this seemingly involves an issur, would a miracle occur in such a case or not?

The Gemara records a machlokes between Rebbi Ami and Rebbi Asi. According to one opinion, it was only the taste of others foods that was felt in the mon, not their substance. The other opinion holds that the substance of these foods was present in the mon as well (Yuma 75a).

Perhaps the answer to our question depends on which opinion we follow. If the substance of the desired foods would be found in the mon, one would not be able to taste meat and milk together, as that would involve an issur. But if it was only the taste of the foods that was felt, one would be able to taste milk and meat together. Since only the taste of these two foods was present and not their substance, no issur would be involved.

(There is a halachic rule known as ta'am ke'ikar, that the taste of a substance has the same status as the food itself. Accordingly, even if we say that only the taste of the food was felt, an issur may still be involved. However, this is only true if the rule of ta'am ke'ikar is mede'orayasa [see Encyclopedia Talmudis, Vol. 20, pp. 556-559]. If it is med'rabanan [see ibid.], it would not apply to the Jews in the desert, who lived before this ruling was enacted.)

However, even if we assume that the substance of the food was felt as well, it can still be argued that one was able to taste milk and meat together if he so desired.

The Gemara relates that every Erev Shabbos, Rav Chanina and Rav Oshiya would study Sefer Yetzirah and create calves, which they would then proceed to eat (Sanhedrin 65b). The Shaloh (Parshas Vayeishev, Derech Chaim Tochachas Mussar) uses this concept to explain the behavior of the Shevatim, whom Yosef suspected of eating flesh of a living creature without shechting it first. What actually happened was that they would create calves using Sefer Yetzirah, which was transmitted to them from Avraham Avinu, the sefer's author (via Yitzchak and Yaakov). Since these animals were not born from physical parents, they did not require shechitah.

Now, if the laws of shechitah do not apply to such calves, the prohibition of basar bechalav presumably does not apply either. (Indeed, some say the calves served by Avraham to the angels were created through Sefer Yetzirah, and that is why the angels were allowed to eat them with milk-see Malbim, Vayeira 18:7-8.) That being the case, even if the substance of milk and meat was felt the mon, it would not pose a problem, since they were heavenly in nature and did not originate from physical animals.

In fact, there would actually be less of an issue of basar bechalav with the mon than with a calf created through Sefer Yetzirah. In the latter case, one can still argue that it is forbidden to eat the calf with milk due to maris ayin, the concern that onlookers will mistake it for genuine meat. In the case of the mon, however, no one was able to see the food his friend had chosen to taste, and the concern of maris ayin would not apply.

As far as reaching a decisive answer to our question, we will have to ask the dor hamidbar themselves when they arise for techiyas hameisim!

Based on Luach Erez on Tana Devei Eliyahu, Ch. 12. Shu"t Lev Chanun, 1:36


"How Sweet Are the Words of Torah!" Chof Tes Teves, 5777

This is the meaning of the verse, "For the light is sweet and good for the eyes" (Koheles 11:7) ....Rebbi Abba explained [the possuk as follows]: How sweet are the words of Torah that are compared to light, as the possuk says, "For a mitzvah is a candle and Torah is light" (Mishlei 6:23). Fortunate is the person who sees the Torah as white as snow [i.e., who understands Torah clearly], for there is no end to its reward.

When Hashem will come to give the Jews their reward for toiling in Torah, and in its merit, he will bestow them [with goodness] in the future, at that time they will say to the nations of the world: "We have merited for we have studied Torah. What did you tell us? [You told us,] 'You are toiling for no reason.' See its reward!"

Midrash Tehillim, Ch. 49. Cf. Rashi, Koheles ad loc.

Entirely Updated Compilation for Chof Daled Teives Chof Teves 5777

Following the Rebbe's horaos that one should learn from the teachings of the Alter Rebbe on Chof Daled Teves, and also that one should learn chapters of Mishnayos beginning with the letters of a Rebbe's name on his Yom Hilulah, Yagdil Torah has prepared an updated learning guide for this day. The compilation features specially selected portions of the Alter Rebbe's teachings, stories, and the full mishnayos. It will be distributed throughout the Shuls in Crown Heights, in the Heichal Halimmud and in our office. It is also available for download here.

Read an amazing story which shows the importance of learning in connection to a Yom Hilulah of our Rabbeim.