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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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Chof Tes Adar II, 5776

Running on Empty

Perusing a business news column, I saw that my friend's business was doing quite well. I decided it was a good time to give him a visit, and coincidentally he called me from a store in a nearby shopping mall. He told me to meet up with him at the Hills Shopping Mall and I drove over seeing him standing next to a gleaming Bentley.

"Why not take a ride to your house?" I asked, only imagining what type of mansion he had. "Sure. But we'll have to take your car as I don't have money for fuel". Super confused I got into my car with him and drove up to an estate beyond imagination. Even more confused I followed him to the front door into which he put in the key and entered.

He led me through a dark yet marvelous hallway into his living room where the magnificent opulence dazed me. "Can I turn on the light?", I asked. "No. Sorry. I didn't pay the electric bill so there's no electricity in the home."

Dizzy from confusion I could no longer hold back and blurted "You look like you're on the Forbes 400 but can't pay for gas and electricity?!"

He took a deep breath and responded calmly, "I always wanted this kind of lifestyle so I saved every last penny and borrowed all I could to get the car, the yacht and this mansion. So I simply cannot squeeze another penny to pay for fuel, electric, food, and the like..."

Tanya chapter 5 tells us that Mitzvos are a levush and Torah is the food; or in other words mitzvos are the car, yacht and home whereas Torah is the fuel (besides being a Mitzvah) that allows us to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

In other words, if we want our Mitzvos to truly accomplish their purpose we need to fuel it in every sense with the learning of Torah.


Chof Tes Adar II, 5776

Location: Vienna, Austria.
Year: 1831

A certain Jew decided to try his luck in the art of sculpting as a profession, and he attended the local university and studied the skill. In order to acquire a degree, it would be necessary for him to sculpt numerous complete human figures, something usually forbidden due to the concern that they may be worshipped (see Rambam, Avodah Zarah, 3:10. Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Dei'ah, 141:4). Was he allowed to do so?

The Jew turned to the rabbi of the city, R. Elazar Segal-Horowitz, who in turn forwarded the question to his teacher, R. Moshe Sofer, better known as the Chasam Sofer. R. Segal-Horowitz added that the questioner had found a possible heter, based on the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (24b).

The Gemara there quotes the possuk (Devarim 18:9), "When you will arrive at the land Hashem is giving you, do not learn to do similar to the abominations of those nations." From the wording "do not learn to do" we can infer that studying the practices of idolatry is only forbidden if one is studying them with the intent of performing them. However, if he is studying them for educational purposes, it is permitted. (This heter is quoted in Shulchan Aruch [ibid.] as well.) The Jew assumed that this allowed study for the sake of mastering a profession.

R. Segal continued that he had replied to the Jew that this is incorrect, for two reasons:

Even If You're Correct... Chof Tes Adar II, 5776

Even if the reasons you provide why you don't have set times to study Torah are correct, ultimately, the study is lacking!

From a letter of 8 Adar, 5712 (printed by Lahak for Shabbos Tzav 5776)


Tes Vov Adar II, 5776

Before Their Eyes

Sometime after the war and after the creation of the State of Israel, a Gerrer chasid, a survivor of the Holocaust, arrived in Israel. He had lost all of his family and was embittered and disillusioned. He ceased the observance of mitzvot, shaved his beard, gave up his chasidic garb, and conducted himself as a secular Israeli. Yet, somehow, one day, he felt such a strong a longing to have contact with the Gerrer Rebbe that he appeared at the back of the synagogue of Grand Rabbi Yisrael Alter, the Bais Yisroel. Not willing to be a hypocrite, he came dressed as a secular person. He was certain that no one would sense his origins and that he would merely have an opportunity to see his Rebbe, unobtrusively and incognito.

However, the Bais Yisroel would typically scan the people attending his synagogue, and he had a special ability to remember people he had met. He recognized the man despite all the time and circumstances that had passed, and from his seat in the front of the room, he sent his aide to bring the man to him.


Tes Vov Adar II, 5776

Location: Vienna, Austria.
Year: 1831

A certain Jew, searching for a profession with which to sustain himself and his family, decided to try his luck in the art of sculpting. He began attending courses from professional craftsmen at the local university, and before long he grew adept at the skill.

The Jew was aware that one may not fashion a protruding form of a complete human, due to the concern that it may be worshipped (see Rambam, Avodah Zarah, 3:10. Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Dei'ah, 141:4). His plan was that when he would eventually open his own shop, he would fashion incomplete figures and leave the final touches for his non-Jewish workers to finish. However, in order to acquire a degree at the university, it would be necessary for him to sculpt numerous human figures to demonstrate his knowledge of the craft. Was he allowed to do so?

Stay Connected Tes Vov Adar II, 5776

A person can find himself in a situation where he is drowning in worldly matters, chas veshalom, either in action or in thought, by being involved in them day and night. To avoid this, Yidden must connect themselves either with the Torah or to talmidei chachomim, the leaders of the generation, to elevate them so they do not remain in such a state, chas veshalom.

Degel Machanei Ephraim, Bereishis 32:4


Alef Adar II, 5776

The Real Jeweler

Say your friend a jeweler wants to sell you precious stones much less than the going rate, would you buy it? Sure you would. You know that he is only selling it to you for cheap because you are his friend, but not for free; he wants you to value it to an extent.

The real Jew-eler is the one above, he loves the Jews and can be called a Jeweler just for that.

He gave us the Torah which as Dovid Hamelech says is more valuable than thousands of units of gold and silver, but wants us to put an effort into it. Not because there is no way for him to provide stress free evenings where we can learn like the neshamos in Gan Eden. He just wants us to value it.

Let's thank him for the high value at a comparably negligible cost and take advantage of every moment we can squeeze to accumulate more and more of these precious stones.


Alef Adar II, 5776

Date: 1962.
Place: Bnei Brak, Eretz Yisrael

A teacher once devised an innovative method of taking attendance. Instead of the standard time-consuming method of calling out each boy's name, he decided to have his thirty students sit in three rows of ten. Starting with the first row, the boys would count from one to ten, thus enabling him to quickly know who was present.

Is this method problematic, since it involves counting the students, which could instigate an ayin hara, chas veshalom?

The teacher turned to his rov, Rav Shmuel Vosner OBM for a ruling on the matter. R. Vosner writes that the first issue that must be clarified is whether this case constitutes an indirect method of counting. As the Gemara states in Yuma (22b), one may count Bnei Yisrael in an indirect fashion (such as Shaul did when counting his soldiers, once using pieces of pottery and another time using lambs). In this case, the teacher is not counting the students himself; he is merely having them count from one to ten. Can this be viewed as an indirect method of counting?

If we will assume that this is considered indirect, the next issue to consider is the fact that this counting is unnecessary. In Shaul's case, it was necessary for him to know how many soldiers he had, so it was permitted for him to count (indirectly). In our case, however, the teacher has the option of reverting to the standard method of taking attendance. May one count (indirectly) if there is no need to do so?

The answer to this question can actually be found in a story in Sefer Shmuel. The Tanach (II Shmuel 24) relates that Dovid Hamelech counted the Bnei Yisrael unnecessarily, and as a result a plague broke out among the Jewish nation. The mefarshim differ whether he used items to count them or counted them directly (see Ramban, Shemos 30:12. Radak, II Shmuel 24:1). If he counted them directly, it can be inferred that indirect counting is permitted even if it is unnecessary; it he counted them indirectly, it is clear that even this can produce negative outcomes.

R. Vosner concludes that even if indirect counting is always permissible, in this case it would be forbidden. He provides three reasons for this:

We Do the Studying; They Do the Work! Alef Adar II, 5776

"[Yitzchak] said, 'The voice is the voice of Yaakov, and the hands are the hands of Esav!'"

Chazal (Bereishis Rabbah 65:16) explain this possuk as follows: when "the voice is the voice of Yaakov," i.e., when they engage in Torah study, "the hands are the hands of Esav," meaning that the hands of Esav cannot dominate us.

Seemingly, the wording of the possuk implies the opposite: when "the voice is the voice of Yaakov, the hands are the hands of Esav," meaning that they do have the ability to dominate us, chas v'sholom!

I believe the possuk can be explained as follows:

It is known (Berachos 35b) that when Bnei Yisrael fulfill the will of Hashem their work is performed through others, as the possuk states (Yeshayahu 61:5), "Strangers will stand up and pasture your sheep." In other words, the nations of the world prepare the needs of Bnei Yisrael as slaves serve their masters.

This, then, is the meaning of the possuk. When "the voice is the voice of Yaakov," i.e., when they engage in Torah study, "the hands are the hands of Esav," meaning that the other nations perform their work and prepare their needs as a servant serves his master. Consequently, the opposite can be implied as well.

Degel Machanei Ephraim (Bereishis 27:12)

75,000 Seforim At Your Fingertips!
Chof Daled Adar I, 5776

We have recently upgraded our Otzar Hachochma Library to the latest edition! With an easy to use program our Heichal users have access to more than 75,000 seforim. From looking for a sefer that is out of print to finding out how many times a topic is talked about through the generations. It has graciously been sponsored by Oren Popper.

Let's Hakhel Together Yud Zayin Adar I, 5776

Especially as this year is a Hakhel year we encourage everyone to add in public Torah learning of all sorts; by learning in a public venue such as a Shul or Heichal Hallimud, by joining a shiur, or by learning with a chavrusa

Yagdil Torah is here for you with two Heichal Hallimuds open from 6am - 2am daily, a bunch of shiurim to choose from, a system which matches chavrusos and much more

We also have one of the largest lists of public learning resources available (places, phone-lines, programs and more) anywhere at yagdiltorah.org/links or by calling our office.

We can also refer you to a shiur based on your preferences

Please contact our office or visit our website for more information.


Yud Zayin Adar I, 5776

Salmon on Shavuot

Among the followers of Rebbe Yecheskel of Kuzmir was Rebbe Shlomo HaCohen of Radomsk, author of the "Tiferet Shlomo". One year, word reached Kuzmir that Reb Shlomo was planning to come to Kuzmir for Shavuot. The Kuzmirer Chassidim began feverishly preparing for the event.

That year Shavuot came out on Sunday night through Tuesday. Reb Shlomo and his entourage, as well as many other Chassidim, arrived in Kuzmir for the preceding Shabbat. The tumult in Rebbe Yechezkel's court was great, with tremendous preparations being made for both Shabbat and the holiday which followed. Chassidim would say that on Shavuot in Kuzmir, one could experience the same spiritual arousal as the Jews had on Mount Sinai when they received the Torah.

Special attention was given to the preparation of fish for both Shabbat and Yom Tov meals in Kuzmir. Often the Rebbe himself would "meditate" on the fish before allowing it to be brought into the kitchen. In addition, he always came into the kitchen to add salt and pepper to the huge copper pot in which the fish was being cooked.

On Friday morning, the Rebbe's attendant came to him with a query from the Rebbetzin: since the coming Sunday was Erev Yom Tov, and the [non-Jewish] fisherman wouldn't be bringing their fish to town that day, should she leave over some of the Shabbat fish for the Yom Tov meals?

"G-d forbid!" answered the Rebbe. "The fish that have come to us for Shabbat cannot wait for their tikun (rectification) until Yom Tov. For Yom Tov, the Almighty will provide us with other fish."

Towards sunset, as the Rebbe was making his final preparations for Shabbat, he summoned his distinguished guest, Rebbe Shlomo of Radomsk, to his room. "Radomsker Rebbe! I order you to harness your horses and return to Radomsk to spend Shavuot with your Chassidim!"

"Really, Rebbe?" replied Reb Shlomo. "I've just come, and I still have much to learn from the Rebbe in serving G-d. I need to see how the Rebbe receives the Torah! And now you're sending me home, to all the common folk? Now that I'm here, please allow me to spend the holiday with you!"

"I'll tell you," answered Reb Chatzkel, "when the Torah was given, it says, 'And Moses went down from the mountain to the people' (Ex. 19:14). Rashi explains that this indicates that Moses did not occupy himself with his own business affairs, but went directly from the mountain to the people. One could ask, did Moses have a private business? Was he a merchant, that the Torah praises him for not occupying himself with his business?"

"No!" he continued. "It means that Moses, upon receiving the Torah from G-d, didn't think about himself - he didn't consider that maybe he should grasp things 100 percent, discuss them with Yehoshua, and then transmit them to the people. At that time, he wasn't concerned with himself, with his "affairs", even though these, too, were connected to Torah and serving G-d. Rather, he went directly from the mountain to the people."

"So now, Radomsker Rebbe, you would like to ascend undisturbed to the heights. But I'm telling you, you must go down from the mountain to the people, and return home for Shavuot."

In the midst of this conversation, the two tzadikim heard a commotion from just outside the door. Someone wanted to see the Rebbe about an urgent matter; but the attendants, knowing that he was involved with the Radomsker, tried to hold him back. Upon hearing the tumult, Reb Chatzkel opened the door and asked the man to come in. It was a simple Jewish fisherman. The Rebbe remained seated in his chair, and motioned to the Radomsker to remain there while he talked to the man.


Yud Zayin Adar I, 5776

Date: 1962.
Place: Bnei Brak, Eretz Yisrael

A teacher once devised an innovative method of taking attendance. Instead of the standard time-consuming method of calling out each boy's name, he decided to have his thirty students sit in three rows of ten. Starting with the first row, the boys would count from one to ten, thus enabling him to quickly know who was present.

The Gemara says (Yuma 22b) that it is forbidden to count Bnei Yisrael. The Gemara proves this from two instances where Shaul counted his soldiers, once using pieces of pottery (or stones) and a second time using lambs. This teaches us that one may not count Bnei Yisrael directly, as this can instigate an ayin hara, chas veshalom.

Is the teacher's new method problematic, since it involves counting the students?

Greater than the Sun (Part 2) Yud Zayin Adar I, 5776

(Continuation from the previous issue)

"The Torah of Hashem is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of Hashem is faithful, making the simple one wise. The directives of Hashem are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the mitzvah of Hashem is clear, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Hashem is pure, existing forever; the judgments of Hashem are true, they are all just" (Tehillim 19:8-10).

Dovid said these three pessukim as praise for the Torah. Beforehand, he mentioned the great luminaries and described some of the accomplishments and benefits of the sun. He then continues that there is a yet greater light, namely, the Torah.

[In what way is the Torah greater than the sun?] . . .

Although the sun is bright and pure, at times it is covered by clouds, tainting its appearance. Also, sometimes it is served by the nations as idolatry, and then it is not pure. But the Torah is pure forever, and its purity has no interruption.

It is also known that the sun shines by day and not by night; however, the light of the Torah shines forever. [Even when the sun does shine,] its light is not equal: until midday its light increases, and from that point and on it becomes less. But with the Torah, "the judgments of Hashem are true, they are all just."

(Kad Hakemach [Rabbeinu Bechaye], beginning of maareches Torah)


Gimmel Adar I, 5776

Going to Israel?

Yankel! Wow that is a great zchus; I wish I can go. I imagine you will also be going to the holy city of Yerushalayim and will go to its holiest accessible area; the Kosel Hamaaravi. I say accessible because, you know, the Kosel is only the wall of the holier Har Habayis. Come to think of it, it doesn't stop there, because the place of the Beis Hamikdash is even holier - within which the Kodesh Hakodoshim is the holiest with access only allowed to the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. We just can't pass the Kosel as we are tamei (and there are questionable areas beyond the Kosel).

Here is a commentary I would write when I read this letter.

All true - quite amazing indeed. What if I told you that I found a legitimate way into the Kodesh Hakodoshim? In Tanya chapter 53 it says that the kedusha that rested in the Kodesh Hakodoshim rests on a person when he learns Torah. You may not value it as it sounds like so much for so little, however you probably know of many cases of people who netted large gains on small investments - so why not?