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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

All Headlines

Beis Tammuz, 5776

Reish Lakish to the Rescue

The great Sage Reish Lakish had once lived among the wild people called Loddites.

Known for his bravery and prowess, the Loddites wanted him to be the leader of one of their fierce robber bands. Reish Lakish, however, was destined for greater things.

He fled from those wicked people and changed his life completely, becoming a great baal teshuva and dedicating his tremendous intellect and power to the study of Torah.

He married the sister of Rabbi Yochanan, the greatest Sage of the time, and excelled so much at his learning that he was appointed to a high position in the yeshiva at Tiberias.

Although Reish Lakish now spent all his days and nights in the study hall, he had lost none of his fire and strength. He feared no one but G-d, and would stand up to deceit or corruption whenever he encountered it, no matter what danger he had to face.

One morning, as Rabbi Yochanan walked to the Study Hall, he was attacked by a band of robbers who stole all his money. When he finally arrived at the Study Hall he was very shaken by the incident, and, although he tried to lead the class as usual, he was unable to concentrate on the questions his students posed. It became obvious that the great Sage was troubled by something.

Noticing that his teacher was deeply troubled, Reish Lakish pressed Rabbi Yochanan for an explanation. "What is wrong? Has something happened to you?" Rabbi Yochanan answered by way of a hint, saying, "The whole body depends on the heart, but the heart depends on the pocket." Reish Lakish didn't understand his teacher's allusion, and he repeated his question.

This time Rabbi Yochanan explained clearly, "I can't gather my thoughts because as I was coming to study today, I was set upon by a band of robbers. I was carrying a great deal of money, and they stole it all. Now I will have to spend my energy trying to support myself and my family, and I'm afraid I won't be able to learn Torah as I did before."

Reish Lakish was outraged. "Where did they attack you and which way did they go?" he demanded to know. They went out to the road and Rabbi Yochanan pointed to the location of the attack. Not bothering to bring any weapons, Reish Lakish set out to find the robbers.

Beis Tammuz, 5776

Date: 5719 (1959)
Location: Brooklyn, New York

Rabbi Nissan Telushkin was the Rov of Congregation Beis Yitzchok of Brooklyn. Although the official nusach of the shul was nusach Ari, and therefore birchos hashachar were not recited in shul by the chazan, many congregants davened according to nusach Sefard, and they were not used to saying these brachos at home (before coming to shul).

Rabbi Telushkin was concerned that these congregants were not saying these brachos at all. To solve this problem, he considered instituting that the chazan should recite birchos hashachar in shul (as per the custom of nusach Sefard), following which the services would continue according to nusach Ari, as usual. Would this be an appropriate way of dealing with the issue?

Rabbi Telushkin sent a letter to the Rebbe describing the situation. The Rebbe replied that although this institution would ensure that these congregants would recite (or hear) birchos hashachar, it would create problems for those congregants who do follow nusach Ari:

Lights, Action Beis Tammuz, 5776

A shul is a lamp [that illuminates] life. It is by the light of those who teach Torah in public that the Jewish nation will travel on all the journeys of life. [Studying Torah in public supplies a Yid] with sustenance and nourishment, [reinforces his commitment to] observe the mitzvos, [and guides him] in directing the household, in family life, and in the education of his sons and daughters.

Igros Kodesh of the Frierdiker Rebbe, Vol. 3, p. 111

Tes Zayin Sivan, 5776

You Promised

We all have different things that start our engines; for some it's the handshake.

I recently read about a closing which was followed by a higher offer with a legal avenue to renege on the first commitment. The seller however wanted to keep his word and let the additional fifteen thousand go.

Now what does that have to do with us?

The amount of years minus your age ago you made a promise; a promise to learn Torah whenever possible. This promise also famously comes with satiation and energy (the word swear and satiation are spelled similarly in Hebrew, hence the hint).

You made the promise, make good on it. Fair?

Tes Zayin Sivan, 5776

Date: 5719 (1959)
Location: Brooklyn, New York

Rabbi Nissan Telushkin was the Rov of Congregation Beis Yitzchok, located in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Although the official Nusach of the shul was Nusach Ari, many congregants davened according to Nusach Sefard.

One of the differences between Nusach Ari and Nusach Sefard involves the recital of Birchos Hashachar in the morning. According to Nusach Ari, each individual recites them at home before coming to shul, while according to Nusach Sefard, they are not recited at home and are recited instead by the chazan at shul, before beginning Shacharis.

Since Rabbi Telushkin’s shul followed Nusach Ari, Birchos Hashachar were not recited in shul by the chazan. Rabbi Telushkin was concerned that this would create an issue for these congregants. On the one hand, they were not used to saying Birchos Hashachar alone at home. On the other hand, they wouldn’t say them in shul either, since they were not being recited by the minyan!

To solve this problem, Rabbi Telushkin considered instituting that the chazan should recite Birchos Hashachar in shul (as per the custom of Nusach Sefard), following which the services would continue according to Nusach Ari, as usual.

Would this be an appropriate way of dealing with the issue?

Pinnacle of Truth Tes Zayin Sivan, 5776

Our love of the Torah must be unconditional. It shouldn’t even be because the Torah is “your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations.” The epitome of a human is when he is passionately involved in matters of wisdom and intellect to the extreme. We find this concept even with secular wisdom, and certainly with wisdom of kedushah, as Chazal describe based on a possuk in Mishlei [5:19. See Eiruvin 54b]. However, all this is not enough, as it is still shelo lishmah in a subtle form. The goal is to eventually reach the level of learning Torah lishmah in the ultimate manner.

Motza’ei Shabbos Parshas Vayeishev, 5717 (Toras Menachem, Vol. 18, p. 257)

Daled Sivan, 5776

A Quick Horse

The court of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, was located in the small, White Russian town of Lionzna. His many chasidim flocked there to be near him, to pray, to celebrate the festivals, to receive his blessings and to benefit from his Torah-wisdom.

Once, a chasid came to the Rebbe with a heavy sorrow weighing on his soul. When he entered the Rebbe's chambers, he couldn't restrain himself, and tears flowed from his eyes. "Rebbe," he sobbed, "my son has turned away from everything we have taught him. He no longer follows mitzvot, and I'm afraid that he will be completely lost from the path of truth. Please, Rebbe, give me some advice how to get him back."

The Rebbe felt his chasid's pain, and he was silent for some moments. Then he replied, "Do you think that you might be able to persuade the boy to come to see me?"

"I don't know," the man sighed. "The way he's been acting recently, I'm afraid it might be very difficult. He has some wild friends, and he hardly listens to his parents."

"Nevertheless, I want you to think up some way in which you can get him to come here. Maybe there's some errand you can send him on that would bring him to Liozna. When he gets to the town, a way will be found to bring him here to me."

The prospect of the Rebbe taking charge of his wayward son lifted the chasid's spirits. He returned home in a far brighter mood than the one in which he had come.

The man spent the whole return trip to his village deep in thought, trying to hatch some plan which would draw his son to the Rebbe. Suddenly he had an excellent idea. Much to his dismay, his son was very fond of horse-back riding, an activity considered improper for a Jewish boy. The boy, however, cared not the least for public opinion, and to his father's consternation, he took every opportunity to ride into town. This seemed a perfect ruse to get his son to the Rebbe. He would ask the boy to go and pick something up in town.

When he asked his son to go on the errand, the boy responded, "I'll go only if I can go by horseback." This time the father quickly acquiesced.

The boy happily galloped into town, unaware that his father's friends were on the lookout for him, and that the errand was merely a signal to them to bring him to the Rebbe's house.

Daled Sivan, 5776

Date: 1965.
Location: London, England

Preparations were underway to rebuild a yeshiva in London that had been destroyed by fire. However, the yeshiva leaders, R. Meir Ostreicher and R. Pinchas Herzka, encountered a dilemma. The new blueprints called for the removal of a fruit tree that was growing in the area, which is generally forbidden (see Shoftim 20:19; Bava Kama 91b). Instead of cutting it down, they considered removing it with its roots and replanting it elsewhere. Was it permitted to do so for the sake of rebuilding the yeshiva?

In addition to asking the opinion of the local Rov, R. Ostreicher and R. Herzka addressed the question to the latter's relative, R. Shmuel Vosner, author of Shevet Halevi. R. Vosner answered that it was permitted for them to do so without a problem, for three reasons:

  1. The Rosh (Bava Kama 8:15) writes that it is permitted to uproot a fruit tree if one needs the place where it is located. In fact, the Taz was once approached by a certain individual who possessed a piece of property with trees and wanted to build a house there. Based on the above premise, the Taz ruled that he was allowed to cut down the trees for this purpose (Taz, Yoreh Dei'ah 116:6).
  2. As mentioned above, the plan was to remove the tree with its roots and replant it in another location. In such a case, the tree is viewed as having never been uprooted (see Orlah 1:3), and it is therefore permitted.
  3. According to Kabbalah, there are neshamos that descend to this world as gilgulim and reside in trees and other plants, and this is why it is forbidden to cut them. However, if the tree is being cut for the sake of a mitzvah-such as to build a shul or yeshiva-not only does this not affect these neshamos negatively, it elevates them and helps them achieve their rectification.

R. Vosner concludes that it is permitted to cut down the tree for the sake of building the yeshiva (in concurrence with the ruling of the local Rov), and blesses them with success in their endeavors to bolster the study of Torah.

Shu"t Shevet Halevi 2:46

CPR is what it is Daled Sivan, 5776

Fortunate is the man who chooses life by dedicating and devoting himself to teaching Torah in public in general, and particularly to explaining words of Chassidus. By doing so he is reviving souls!

Igros Kodesh of the Frierdiker Rebbe, Vol. 3, p. 110

Yud Tes Iyar, 5776

Suitcase of Cash

"You must be holding the suitcase for the same reason as me, I am waiting for a delivery."


"You see, the marketing guys at Kellogg's didn't realize that by giving a week to get a three-dollar rebate on every cereal means I can buy the cheapest cereal box at 3.25 and pretty much end up with as many as I want at .25 apiece.

"I took advantage of the opportunity and ordered from all the stores in town. I am now awaiting delivery which they asked be in cash due to large order, hence the suitcase.

"I must point out that I don't think the guys at Kellogg's are out for lunch - they just know that people are not keen for a treasure of a deal. They just didn't know that I would be."

"You know what? In a way, this is similar, but not exactly, to what I just saw in chapter five of Tanya that one who learns Torah is in an unbelievable unity with Hashem at the time. To the non-keen mind that sounds abstract, spiritual and not for me.

"However, when given some thought by the keen intelligent mind it's a treasure chest for the cashing and hence I have this suitcase of seforim and I am heading to the Beis midrash to learn!"

Yud Tes Iyar, 5776

Date: 1965.
Location: London, England

The Torah tells us, "When you lay siege to a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees" (Shoftim 20:19). The severity of cutting a fruit tree is emphasized by the statement of Rabbi Chanina (Bava Kama 91b), "The reason my son Shivchas died is because he cut a fig tree before its time [i.e., when it was still producing fruits]."

A certain yeshiva in London had suffered a terrible calamity: a fire had broken out, destroying the building and resulting in the loss of precious lives. When setting out to rebuild the structure, the yeshiva leaders encountered a dilemma. The new blueprints called for the removal of a fruit tree that was growing in the area. Knowing that the Torah forbids cutting a fruit tree, they considered removing it with its roots and replanting it elsewhere. Was it permitted to do so for the sake of rebuilding the yeshiva?

Clear and to the Point Yud Tes Iyar, 5776

When teaching Torah in public, the subject material should be presented clearly and concisely, enabling the listener to receive it easily and drawing him to listen to what is being studied.

True, teaching in such a way necessitates hard work and much preparation, [preparing the material] once, twice, and a third time. However, then and only then will the study produce the desired benefits with Hashem's help, and the teacher is then performing the work of Hashem faithfully.

Igros Kodesh of the Frierdiker Rebbe, Vol. 3, p. 110

Learn For and About the Rebbe's Brother on his Yahrtzeit
Yud Aleph Iyar, 5775

Iyar 13 is the day of passing of R' Yisroel Aryeh Leib, third son of the Rabbi and Mekubal R' Levi Yitzchok and Rebbetzin Chana Schneersohn and brother of our Rebbe.

R' Yisroel Aryeh Leib was known by the Chassidim of his time for his unique genius, especially in explaining deep concepts in Chassidus thought.

We have seen a few times when the deep connection between the Rebbe and R' Yisroel Aryeh Leib came out into the open for all to see. Throughout the years, the Rebbe assisted in initiating and coordinating various projects in his memory. On Yud Gimmel Iyar, 5751 the Rebbe spoke an entire sicha expounding on the name of the Baal Hayahrtzeit.

The Yagdil Torah organization has compiled a publication with Mishnayos, selected stories, and rare correspondents of R' Yisroel Aryeh Leib in honor of Yud Gimmel Iyar.

Hei Iyar, 5776

Kosher Wine

Once the Baal Shem Tov had a dream in which a deceased man appeared to him. The soul was deeply troubled because his son had forsaken the path of Torah. "I cannot rest because of my son. Please, rebbe, try to help him."

The Besht lost no time. He harnessed his famous horses and in hours the carriage was standing outside the mansion of the wealthy son in Paris. The Besht's attendant knocked forcefully on the door, but was repeatedly rebuffed. Finally the master and mistress were awakened. The mistress peered into the carriage, and overwhelmed by the stately appearance of the man seated within, she entreated her husband to invite him to stay.

"We have such a large, empty house. Please let him stay."

The Besht was given a comfortable room, word soon spread that a great wonder-working rabbi had arrived. People began to converge on the grand home. The mistress was very curious about the goings on, and engaged many of the petitioners in conversation. People began to speak about the wondrous cures that were effected by the potions and blessings of the rabbi, and the mistress of the house began to hope that she, too, could be helped.

That night she asked her husband to go to the Baal Shem Tov for his blessing and advice. "For so many years we have been denied the blessing of children. Perhaps this holy man can help us."

Her husband was uninterested. After all, the best doctors on the continent were unable to help them. What could an itinerant rabbi do for them? But his wife was relentless, and in the end, he acceded to her wish.

The Besht received the man and inquired about his business. "I manufacture wine," the man replied.

"Do you make kosher wine?" inquired the Besht.

"No," he answered.

"Well, then, at the next harvest, I want you to make a run of kosher wine. When you bring it to Medzibozh I can guarantee you a good profit."

The man just snorted. He did quite well, thank you, without the bother of kosher wine. Then he made his request to the Besht. The Besht produced several vials of medicine for the man's wife, and promised that in a year she would bear a son. The merchant was skeptical, but at least he had satisfied his wife. His wife was overjoyed and took the medicines at once. The Baal Shem Tov left, but true to his word, within a few months the woman conceived.

The merchant decided that since the Baal Shem Tov's blessing bore fruit, he would make the kosher wine and bring it to Medzibozh. He loaded the barrels of kosher wine onto several wagons and set out for Medzibozh.

After several days on the road, he lost his way. When the merchant alighted from his wagon to check directions, the driver unwittingly set off without him. Realizing that his master was lost the driver returned and frantically searched for him, but to no avail. He was forced to return to his mistress alone. The wife resumed the search, but was also unsuccessful. It seemed that the merchant had vanished.

The merchant wandered around for some time, but finally found shelter in a small shack. There he found a group of men playing cards and joined them. It wasn't long before he lost not only his money, but some of his expensive garments as well. Dejected, he resumed his travels, searching for someone who might take pity on him.

He wandered for hours until he came to the small cottage of a shepherd and his family. Out of the goodness of his heart, the shepherd supplied him with new clothing, food and drink.

The merchant wandered for many months from village to village in his attempt to return home. It seemed that each time he neared his home some perplexing situation intervened. From time to time he stopped at Houses of Study where the local Jews extended their warm hospitality. This experience humbled him and he began to examine his own heart as he had never done before. He felt drawn to Torah and especially to the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, of whom he became something of a chasid.

One day at a gathering of the Besht's chasidim the Rebbe himself offered the man a glass of wine. The label on the bottle was that of his own company--a non-kosher wine!

The Besht laughed. "Don't worry about the wine. Although it is your own manufacture, this is the kosher wine which I requested of you. Your own wagons loaded with the wine are standing just outside the city. Know that it is now time for you to return home. Hurry, for your wife is ready to give birth to your son.""

Reprinted from Lchaim #292 with permission.