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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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Hei Shevat, 5776

Place: Lausanne, Switzerland.
Date: 1963

The Swiss government once decided to put together an exhibition including various artifacts and items of interest which would be displayed before the public. One of the items they wanted to display was a sefer Torah, and they asked Rabbi Schwartz, a Rabbi in one of the local communities, for permission to borrow a sefer Torah from the shul. Was it permitted to hand over a sefer Torah to be displayed as an exhibit?

Rabbi Schwartz posed this question to R. Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, from the nearby city of Montreaux. R. Weinberg confirmed Rabbi Schwartz's reservations about transporting a sefer Torah to another location where it will not be used for kriah purposes (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 135:14 and commentaries ad loc.). In fact, there are two more halachic considerations as well:

It's Obvious Hei Shevat, 5776

...Besides the obvious that a Jew must constantly add to the amount and quality of his students, and not be satisfied on how much he accomplished until now even if he made plenty of students - still so as long as he has the capability to cause another Jew from any denomination to participate in a shiur - he simply has to do it. What's the question?!

From the Sicha of Parshas Lech Lecha 5752

Kovetz Limmud Yud Shvat Hei Shevat, 5776

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.

Compilation for Chof Daled Teives Chof Beis Teves 5776

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.


Chof Teves, 5776

Rambam's Childhood

Moshe was dreaming again. He stood next to his father and brother by the eastern wall of the synagogue. This was a place of honor, for Moshe's father was the Chief Rabbi of Cordova, just as his father and grandfather had been. But Moshe was not praying. His eyes wandered.

A sharp tap on his shoulder made him look up guiltily. His father looked at him with a stern gaze, full of disappointment and sadness. Moshe knew it was because he, the eldest son, could not learn Torah.

Every day his father would give away precious hours to learn with him. But at the end of the lesson, he would just sigh and shake his head. Yesterday it had happened again. Moshe had been sent away from his lesson. His eyes stinging with un-shed tears, he made his way to the kitchen where Batsheva, their housekeeper, was frying cakes in hot oil.

"Did it not go well today?" she asked gently. "Not everyone is cut out to be a scholar. Maybe you take after your mother's side of the family."

"You mean my mother's father, the butcher?" Moshe asked.

"Yes, but that's nothing to be ashamed of. Your grandfather was a kind, honest, and G-d-fearing man, as generous as the day is long. Little wonder G-d sent him such an honorable son-in-law as your father."

The congregation was already rising for the silent prayer. Quickly Moshe turned the pages, wondering if his father had caught him daydreaming again. Moshe bent his head in prayer--and came to the words "Grant us wisdom, understanding, and knowledge..."

The words seemed to spring at him from the page. Perhaps G-d would grant him wisdom and understanding so that he would remember every word, and his father would be proud of him. Moshe resolved to try. During the lesson that morning Moshe concentrated on his father's words, "And G-d said, 'Let there be light, and there was light.'" Light. Through the open window, Moshe saw his familiar world. The fountain glistened in the sun, palm and myrtle trees swayed over the patio.


Chof Teves, 5776

Place: Lausanne, Switzerland.
Date: 1963

The Swiss government once decided to put together an exhibition including various artifacts and items of interest which would be displayed before the public. One of the items they wanted to display was a sefer Torah, which they knew was the holiest object in the Jewish religion. They contacted one of the local Jewish communities and asked the Rabbi, Rabbi Schwartz, for permission to borrow a sefer Torah from the shul, promising to treat it with the utmost respect and return it in perfect condition.

Rabbi Schwartz was unsure how to respond. On the one hand, it is questionable if one may transport a sefer Torah to another location where it will not be used for kriah purposes (see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 135:14 and commentaries ad loc.). On the other hand, refusal to consent might offend the authorities. Furthermore, this exhibit would create a kiddush Hashem, as it would give hundreds of non-Jews the opportunity to appreciate what a sefer Torah is all about.

Was it permitted to hand over a sefer Torah to the government for this purpose?

We Found Something New For You Chof Teves, 5776

Every Jew must exercise his full potential for Torah study and find new insights in Torah.

However much a Jew has already learnt, he must always be in the state of adding even to the state of a chidush in Torah. This is due to Torah having no bounds and especially being that it his Hashem's wisdom. It can therefore give strength to give birth -as it were- to new ideas to no end.

From the Sicha of Parshas Lech Lecha 5752


Vov Teves, 5776

Three-Year-Old Lawyer

"Joe, what are you doing poring over those law tomes?"

"I am studying for the bar."

"Seriously?! The bar!? You didn't even learn how to write yet and you can barely speak."

"Is it my fault I am 3?"

"I am sure you know some people end up changing their mind about what they want to do. This is just one issue among others that make it important to carefully consider if this is the career path you want to take"

"I agree but I enjoy studying anyways."

"But wouldn't it make sense to first learn how to write and speak?"

"Come to think of it you are right - I just didn't have my wheeties yet today..."

Chazal say all Torah that doesn't include Derech Eretz will eventually be nullified; how much more so one can reason Derech Eretz without the source of all - Torah...


Vov Teves, 5776

Place: Yerushalayim. Date: 2002

There was once an individual who undertook the project of calculating the times of netz hachamah for every day of the year in his location. Among other procedures, he would take photographs of the sun from various angles for the sake of further study and examination.

Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei'ah, 141:4) rules that it is forbidden to shape the form of the sun, moon, or stars, whether the form is protruding or engraved. Many poskim hold that drawings that are neither protruding nor engraved are forbidden as well (see Nekudos Hakessef and Pischei Teshuvah, Yoreh Dei'ah ad loc.), and photographs would presumably fall under the same category. Are there any halachic issues involved in carrying out such an endeavor?

This shaalah was presented to R. Pinchas Zevichi, a contemporary rov in Yerushalayim. R. Zevichi offers a number of reasonswhy this is permitted:

1. The Mishna (Rosh Hashanah 24a) relates that R. Gamliel had forms of the moon hanging on the wall of his attic, which he would use when interrogating the witnesses who testified that they had seen the new moon. The Gemara questions his practice from the halacha that one may not shape the form of a celestial being, and the Gemara answers (ibid. 24b) that it is permitted for educational purposes. (This hetter is quoted in Shulchan Aruch [ibid.] as well.)

In our case, the photographer's motive was to prepare a luach with the times of netz hachamah, something which isundoubtedly an educational purpose. In fact, he should be commended for investing time and effort into this public service.

In addition to this primary hetter, R. Zevichi adds two additional reasons why it is permitted:

2. It can be argued that taking a picture is gerama, an action which will indirectly lead to an issur. No image can be seen on the camera at the time the picture is taken, and the development of the film and printing of the photograph are accomplished later, via machinery and not through the photographer's own actions. (It should be noted that this hetter may not be applicable today, with the advent of digital photography.)

3. The prohibition of depicting the sun is limited to depicting the sun in its entirety, as it is seen in the sky. It is permitted, however, to portray only a portion of the sun. (This is in contrast to the moon, which may not be portrayed even partially. The reason for this stringency is because the moon is viewed in the sky incompletely as well.) In our case, the photographer snapped pictures of the sun at sunrise, when part of the sun was still below the horizon, and it is therefore permitted.

Parenthetically, Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) rules that it is also forbidden to depict the form of a human. Although taking pictures of people has become an accepted practice, some posit that this is why there were tzaddikim who were against having their pictures taken.

(Shu"t Ateres Paz, Vol. 2, Yoreh Dei'ah, §5. Shu"t Mishneh Halachos, Vol. 7, §114)

Shver to be a Shver Vov Teves, 5776

In general, a son-in-law is supposed to look up to his father-in-law. Accordingly, if the son-in-law has set shiurim in Tanya, the father-in-law must certainly have set shiurim as well, not only in Tanya but also in Lekutei Torah, maamorim, and so on.

Igros Kodesh, Vol. 9, p. 107


Tes Vov Kislev, 5776

A Purim Secret

R. Nissan was a wealthy man who lived in Yargin, a small town near Pressburg, the capital city of Czechoslovakia. He and his wife were already married for many years, but still had not been blessed with children. When, finally, a son was born to him in 5583 (1823), it was no surprise, that he honored his former Rosh Yeshiva, the world-renowned scholar known as the Chassam Sofer, to perform the circumcision. Unfortunately, the bris mila had to be postponed because of the weak health of the baby - to Purim!

At the bris, the Chassam Sofer was glowing with "light, happiness, joy and honor." After completing the circumcision, when he dipped his finger in the wine and then in the baby's mouth (following custom), he raised his voice and called out very loudly the Talmudic expression, "When wine goes in, secrets come out."

The child Boruch Mordechai grew. At an early age he was already outstanding in character and religious observance. However, much to the distress of his parents, his ability to understand Torah was not at a par. As a boy, he didn't seem any different than his age-mates, but after his bar-mitzvah, when he entered the famous Pressburg Yeshiva, it was noticeable that he was having major difficulties in his studies.

When he turned eighteen, The Ksav Sofer (who had replaced his recently departed father as the head of the yeshiva) advised his parents to send him to the Land of Israel. Perhaps there, where "the air of the Holy Land makes wise," his studies would prosper.

His parents decided to do it. They hoped it would also enable him to make a good match.

Boruch Mordechai arrived in Jerusalem with a letter of recommendation from Rabbi Shraga Feldheim, mashgiach (study-supervisor) at Pressburg, which said that he "is truly pious, prays with great devotion, and that his desire to learn Torah is sincere and enormous."

One of the scholarly leaders of the Jerusalem community then, Rabbi Yeshaya Bardaki, 'adopted' Boruch Mordechai, concerning himself for all of his needs. His was impressed with the young man's sterling character and piousness, but he could not fathom how someone who had done nothing but study Torah diligently all his life could have retained so little.

When Boruch Mordechai reached age twenty, Rabbi Bardaki found a bride for him: a simple girl from a good family in Jerusalem who wouldn't mind that her husband was an ignoramus.

Several years after the wedding, Boruch Mordechai began to work as a water carrier. He was honest to an extreme, and as a result quickly became very popular. Every Rosh Chodesh, he would deliver water to his regular customers for free; he worried that over the course of the previous month water may have spilled, whereas he had charged for full buckets.

For more than forty years Boruch Mordechai toiled at his chosen profession, the whole time in joyous spirit and with gratitude to G-d for his lot. He took special satisfaction from servicing the many Torah scholars within the walls of Jerusalem; he considered this a great merit and refused to accept payment from them. It anguished him that the great scholar, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Diskin, refused to take water from him. "I cannot allow myself to be served by the likes of Reb Boruch Mordechai," he would say-but refused to explain his words.

On Purim Day 5653 (1893), at the time of the festive meal, most of the chassidim and notables of Old City Jerusalem crowded, as every year, into the home of Rabbi Schneur Zalman Fradkin of Lublin, the celebrated author of the scholarly book, Toras Chesed.The atmosphere was exceptionally joyous, even for a Purim celebration. The men were constantly erupting into lively song and dance, and there was a complimentary flow of wine and wise words.

All of a sudden, Boruch Mordechai called out to the host in a loud voice from the midst of the swaying Chassidim, "Rebbe! Today is seventy years exactly since my bris mila."

Everyone smiled tolerantly, figuring such an outburst from the simple water carrier could only be a result of all the Purim wine he had imbibed.

"If so," responded R. Shneur Zalman, "you deserve an extra-large measure of 'l'chaim'."

Immediately a large tumbler of a special strong wine was poured and passed to Boruch Mordechai, who speedily dispatched it as commanded. It had an immediate effect. The elderly water-carrier began to sing and dance energetically.

The sage's reaction was surprising. He looked up at Boruch Mordechai and shouted over the crowd, "it would be nice if you would stop fooling around already and honor the holy assemblage with some strong words of Jewish law and lore (halacha and agaddah)."

Suddenly there was silence. Everyone's gaze shifted in amused anticipation to the tipsy Boruch Mordechai as he climbed up to stand on the table and began to speak.

But then, all the grins slowly gave way to wide-eyed stares of astonishment as it penetrated their ears that the water-carrier was discoursing enthusiastically on scholarly Purim topics and peppering his words with learned citations from Tractate Megillah and a variety of Midrashim and works of Jewish Law. And he waxed on and on! Indeed, if the strong wine hadn't finally taken its toll, it seemed that he could have continued indefinitely.

Even before the holiday was over, the news of the extraordinary scholarship of the unassuming water-carrier had spread throughout Jerusalem. The community was in an uproar. How had they allowed such an accomplished scholar to be disdained in their midst, and to labor as a mere water-carrier for so many years. And how had his erudition remained hidden for so long?

A few of the elders of the community recalled hearing of the mysterious words of the Chassam Sofar seventy years before. Now, some clever minds were saying they could finally be understood.

"Nichnas yayin, yotzai sod"-"Wine enters, secrets emerge." Yayin (wine), spelled yud-yud-nun, has a numerical value of seventy, and so does samech-vov-dalet, the word for secret!

[Translated and adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles (and first published in Kfar Chabad Magazine - English) from Sichat HaShavuah #478.]


Tes Vov Kislev, 5776

Place: Yerushalayim. Date: 2002

Many kehillos have the custom of davening at netz hachamah, the exact time when the sun rises above the horizon. To enable this practice, known as vasikin, it is necessary to know the exact time of netz hachamah each day of the year in one's given location.

A certain individual undertook this project for his community by waking up early each morning to calculate the precise time of sunrise. In addition to visual observations, he would take photographs of the sun from various angles for the sake of further study and examination.

Although this objective is quite noble, there may be a halachic problem with photographing the sun (or any other celestial being). It is forbidden to shape the form of the sun, moon, or stars, whether the form is protruding or engraved (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Dei'ah, 141:4). Many poskim hold that drawings that are neither protruding nor engraved are forbidden as well (see Nekudos Hakessef and Pischei Teshuvah, Yoreh Dei'ah ad loc.), and photographs would presumably fall under the same category.

Are there any halachic issues involved in carrying out such an endeavor?

Hard to Decide Tes Vov Kislev, 5776

Halacha rules that the system of studying one chapter in the morning and one in the evening is limited to those who are forced, al pi Torah, to earn their livelihood in a way that requires them to devote a number of hours to it each day. However, those who are not forced to do so have the choice [to spend more time studying Torah.] More often than not, they don't have the choice; they must occupy themselves with Torah study, sufficing with devoting a few short hours to worldly pursuits.

The evaluation to which category one belongs must usually be determined by others and not by oneself, because his decision is then biased, and the clever one [i.e., the yetzer hara] finds various methods and arguments to lure a person from the correct path.

Igros Kodesh, Vol. 6, pp. 122

Tes Kislev Learning Guide Ches Kislev, 5775


The Rebbe encourages us to learn the works of a Rebbe in Nigleh and Chassidus on his yom hilula, and to learn (at least one perek of) Mishnayos beginning with the letters of his name. Yagdil Torah has compiled a publication with Mishnayos and selected pieces of the Mitteler Rebbe's Torah. The publication will be available in local shuls, at our office and on our website.

This year the publication marking Tes Kislev (the Yom Hilula of the Mitteler Rebbe) has been updated with the full Mishnayos. Keep an eye out for more easily accessible learning material and sections in English. The publication also includes stories of the Mitteler Rebbe.

Click here to download the Kovetz Limmud for Tes Kislev.