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Chalukas Hashas 5773   Giving has never been easier

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Yud Shevat, 5775

Brokenhearted Chassid

By Mendy Kaminker

Chassidim would say that when learning Torah, one must take utmost care not to forget the Giver of the Torah, but to study in a state of humble awe.

There were once two men named Eizik. Both were great Torah sages as well as venerable chassidim of the first Chabad rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lyadi. Since one of them hailed from Homel (Gomel) and the other from Vitebsk, they were known as Reb Eizik Homler and Eizik Vitebsker respectively.

In his youth, Reb Eizik Vitebsker had studied Torah at the feet of his learned uncle, Reb Zemle, whose reputation for erudition and insight was known throughout the land. But that was before Eizik had become a chassid and begun learning from Rabbi Schneur Zalman.

Reb Eizik of Homel once asked his friend from Vitebsk, "What is the difference between the Torah that you learned from your uncle and the Torah that you now learn from our rebbe?"

Reb Eizik of Vitebsk burst into tears and replied, "Aside from the actual learning - with his piercing logic, our rebbe opened our eyes to how Torah must be analyzed and applied - the main difference is how we feel after we finished learning."

"Nu," said the man from Homel, "what is the difference in how you feel after study?" Reb Eizik, still sobbing, replied, "After my uncle would conclude a lecture, we would all feel elated. Thank G-d, we have mastered another Torah thought and made it our own. But after hearing a Torah class from the Rebbe, we feel a new awareness of the one who gave the Torah--G-d Himself--and a great sense of humility. We are broken-hearted over our own unrefined state, and recognize how much harder we have to work to connect to the Giver of the Torah."

Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org


Yud Shevat, 5775

The members of an early-twentieth-century shul once decided to renovate the ezras nashim, which was located in a small, cramped room adjacent to the ezras anashim. The proposed plan entailed elevating the roof of the ezras nashim, which would cause two-thirds of the height of the shul's windows to be obscured, significantly decreasing the illumination of the shul. Were they allowed to continue with their plans?

The rov of the community, R. Dov Te'omim, sent a letter to the famous Galician rov, R. Meir Arik, detailing the question under discussion. In the last issue we explained that obstructing the windows and thus diminishing their ability to illuminate the shul was not tantamount to destroying them, because they still can bring in a certain amount of light to the shul. B'ezras Hashem, we will now examine an additional problem, based on the premise of horadah mikedushah chamurah likedushah kalah-decreasing the holiness of an object. Until now, the windows had served the ezras anashim; now, they will serve the ezras nashim as well, which possesses a lesser degree of holiness. Might this reason obligate them to withdraw their plans?

R. Meir quotes the Magen Avraham who writes that one may place possul sifrei torah in the aron kodesh together with the kosher sifrei torah (Orach Chaim 154:14). The reason this is not considered as a decrease in the holiness of the aron kodesh is because it is still being used for the kosher sifrei torah. The same is true in our case. Since the windows will continue to serve the ezras anashim as well by bringing in some degree of light, there is no issue of horadah.

Upon contemplating the matter further, though, one can differentiate between the two cases. In the case of the aron kodesh, placing the possul sifrei torah inside does not diminish the capacity of the aron to house the kosher sifrei torah; but in our case, allowing the windows to serve the ezras nashim will decrease their ability to illuminate the ezras anashim. So perhaps this can indeed be seen as a reduction in the holiness of the windows.

Nonetheless, R. Meir concludes that the community may elevate the roof of the ezras nashim. The Alter Rebbe rules that the issue of horadah is only mid'rabanan (Orach Chaim 34:9), and in our case there is a distinct need to renovate the ezras nashim to provide the women with much-needed light and air. Another factor to take into consideration is the fact that large windows will be built in the outside walls of the ezras nashim, enabling light to enter the ezras anashim as well. In light of all the above, the proposed renovations may be carried out.

(Shu"t Imrei Yosher 1:22)

Wealth and Life Yud Shevat, 5775

Rav Yosef bar Chama said in the name of Rav Sheishes: What is the meaning of the verse, "In her right hand is long life, in her left hand are wealth and esteem"? Is it possible that in its right hand there is long life but not wealth and esteem?! Rather, those who approach it from the right [who study the Torah profoundly and intensively; just as the right hand is stronger for work - Rashi] merit long life, and all the more so wealth and esteem. Those who approach it from the left [whose motivations are less pure] merit wealth and esteem, but not long life.

Shabbos 63a

Kovetz Limmud Yud Shvat Aleph Shvat 5775

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 for the Frierdiker Rebbe, along with a specially selected portion of the Frierdiker Rebbe's Torah.

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.


Chof Hei Teives, 5775

Careful! You're sitting with the high society.

Ever meet a high ranking official or another famous person and was in awe? When you actually get the courage to ask him something, you don't just wait for an answer. You are thinking what a great privilege you have to be talking to such a person.

This is also true when it comes to Tzaddikim.

To quote the Rebbe Rashab "Chassidus should be studied with intense involvement; it should be taken to heart. It is not meant to be treated with the pedestrian casualness of those who sip coffee or chicory on Shabbos morning while looking through a passage of Torah Or or Likkutei Torah... This way of learning also overlooks what our Sages said that "Whoever quotes a teaching in the name of its author should picture him as standing before him." When a Chassid studies Torah Or or Likkutei Torah, the ... Alter Rebbe, ... the Mitteler Rebbe, and ... the Tzemach Tzedek, are ... standing before him! "(Editorial note: this may not apply to looking rather to actually saying)

This can be applied to any Torah learning. If the Rashbi is quoted he is there as well, as well as Rabbi Akiva, Moshe Rabbeinu and any other of history's greatest Tzaddikim! Rabbi Meir, Rabbeinu Hakodosh, Rashi, Rabbeinu Tam and many more! While we must focus on the awe of what we are learning, we should also focus on the privilege of what is happening and use out our unlimited access to the real high society.


Chof Hei Teives, 5775

The members of an early-twentieth-century shul once decided to renovate the ezras nashim, which was located in a small, cramped room adjacent to the ezras anashim. The proposed plan entailed elevating the roof of the ezras nashim, which would cause two-thirds of the height of the shul's windows to be obscured, significantly decreasing the illumination of the shul. Were they allowed to continue with their plans?

The rov of the community, R. Dov Te'omim, sent a letter to the famous Galician gaon, R. Meir Arik, detailing the question under discussion. One possible issue was the halachah that one may not destroy any portion of a shul (see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 152:1). Perhaps obstructing the windows, thus diminishing their ability to illuminate the shul, was tantamount to destroying them?

R. Meir brings a proof that this might indeed be the case from a law dealing with an eved kna'ani. An eved kna'ani earns his freedom if his master strikes him and severs one of his limbs. The gemara states that if a master struck his slave on the eye and blinded him, the slave has earned his freedom, because disabling the eye is equivalent to severing it (Kiddushin 24b). The same can be said in this case as well: obstructing the windows is the same as breaking them and should be forbidden.

However, one can reach the opposite conclusion by examining the very same gemara. The gemara continues that if the slave can continue to see with his eye, he does not earn freedom. Even if his eyesight has suffered as a result of the blow, being that some quality of sight remains, the eye is not viewed as having been removed.

This rationale can be applied to our case as well. Although the ezras nashim will obstruct the windows of the ezras anashim, the windows will still retain their capacity to illuminate the shul to some degree, by allowing light to enter the shul via the outside windows of the ezras nashim. The renovations are thus not to be seen as an act of destroying the windows.

There is an additional problem, based on the premise of horadah mikedushah chamurah likedushah kalah-decreasing the holiness of an object. Until now, the windows had served the ezras anashim; now, they will serve the ezras nashim as well, which possesses a lesser degree of holiness. B'ezras Hashem, in the next issue we will see if this reason might call for them to withdraw their plans.

The Difference Chof Hei Teives, 5775

A person who learns so that he can teach ultimately enjoys two benefits. The first benefit is that since his intention is to teach the material, he will master it, along with all its generalities and particulars, so that it will be secure in his heart and on his tongue. He will make no error concerning it, or concerning what emerges from his lips and tongue so as best to teach it. He will then acquire colleagues and his knowledge will proliferate.

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 6, Commentary by Rabbenu Shem Tov ben Shem Tov


Yud Aleph Teves, 5775

"The candle burned, so I sat and learned"

Yisrolik was a young Jewish boy who just loved to learn Torah. At the age of seven, he was already so advanced that he graduated from learning with his teachers and began individual lessons with the rabbi of the town. In a very short time, he no longer needed even these lessons, but spent his time learning alone. He turned to the rabbi for help only when he came across a difficult text in the Talmud. Yisrolik was such an ardent student, that he was ready to learn day and night. His father, Reb Shabse, was worried that his son would get sick from too much study and insufficient rest and sleep.

At first, Reb Shabse tried to insist that his son should leave the beit hamidrash (study hall) at a certain time. But when Yisrolik sat down and began to study the Talmud, he forgot about everything else, even about his promise to his father. Very often his father had to go out late in the night to bring him home. So Reb Shabse arranged with the shamash (caretaker) that when Yisrolik came to study after supper, he should give him one candle by which to learn, which should burn not more than one hour. When the candle would burn out, Yisrolik would have to go home and stay home till it was time for him to go to bed.

That evening, after supper, Yisrolik went to learn as usual. More than an hour passed and Yisrolik had not yet come home. Reb Shabse became worried. He tried to tell himself that Yisrolik must have gone to the rabbi about some problem in his studies, for he surely would not remain in the dark alone in the study hall.


Yud Aleph Teves, 5775

The members of an early-twentieth-century shul once decided to renovate the ezras nashim, which was located in a small, cramped room adjacent to the ezras anashim. The proposed plan entailed elevating the roof of the ezras nashim, thus providing the women with much-needed light and air.

The projected renovations aroused a halachic question by the rabbi of the community, centering on the affects these renovations would have on the shul. Until now, the windows of the ezras anashim were located above the roof of the ezras nashim, enabling sunlight to enter the shul. (Needless to say, the Polish shtetl had yet to experience the convenience of electrical lights.) But by raising of the roof of the ezras nashim, two-thirds of the height of the windows would be obscured, significantly decreasing the illumination of the shul.