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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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Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5776

Place: India. Date: 1890

A Jewish man once committed an offense against the king and was sentenced to death. During the days leading up to his execution, he was left to languish in prison, where thoughts of his fate gave him no rest. The image of the embarrassment he would suffer and the chilul Hashem that would be caused was too much for him to bear.

The next time his son paid him a visit, he asked him to bring him some poison so he could end his life in peace rather than be killed so brutally in public. Was the son allowed to bring his father poison, thus enabling him to end his life earlier? What does the mitzvah of kibbud av entail in such an unfortunate situation?

This halachic question reached the attention of R. Matisyahu Avraham Sormani, rov of the Sephardic community in Bucharest. He wrote a lengthy teshuvah in which he concludes that the son may fulfill his father's wishes. However, his hesitation to issue such a psak prompted him to ask the opinion of his brother-in-law, R. Rachamim Chaim Yehuda Yisrael, rov of the Jewish community of Rhodes, Greece.

R. Rachamim penned a lengthy teshuvah as well in which he argues with R. Matisyahu's decision. Not only may the son not actually take his father's life in any way, he may not assist him by bringing him poison either.

R. Rachamim disagrees with the premise adopted by R. Matisyahu that a person may take his life to prevent an "inevitable" painful death. There is no such thing as an inevitable death, he argues. A person must always place his trust in Hashem. Perhaps the king will die, be deposed, or retract the death sentence. R. Rachamim also cites an incident that took place in Damascus years earlier, in which prisoners were able to escape thanks to the chaos that arose due to a local rebellion. Since the father was not allowed to take his life, his son would transgress lifnei iver if he would assist him in doing so.

As R. Matisyahu pointed out, Shaul Hamelech instructed his weapon-bearer to take his life before he would suffer a painful death in the hands of the Pelishtim. However, there are number of reasons why Shaul was allowed to do so. One of them is because he knew that when the Jews would see the Pelishtim torturing their king, they would rush to his rescue, and this would bring about the death of numerous Jews. Knowing that Hashem had decreed that he would be killed, he was permitted to take his own life in order to save the lives of his fellow Jews.

The debate did not end there. R. Matisyahu addressed yet another teshuvah to R. Rachamim. Unfortunately, R. Rachamim had fallen ill and was unable to respond, and he passed away shortly after. Instead, a response was prepared by his son, R. Reuven Eliyahu Yisrael, where he defends his father's position. This response elicited yet a third teshuvah of R. Matisyahu where he upholds his own psak.

Interestingly, when R. Reuven printed these teshuvos in the sefer Ben Yamin, he added a note at the end of the last teshuvah, asking the readers to help formulate a conclusive psak.

Shu"t Ben Yamin, §§31-34

You Can't Decide Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5776

I was pleased to hear that you have a set time each day to learn Gemara, Rashi, and Tosafos. I am certain that you participate in an appropriate public shiur as well. However, it is obvious that this is not sufficient at all. . . .

I myself do not know you personally. I also do not know the details of your method of learning and type of work, as well as exactly how much time you set aside for each one. You should therefore consult with the elder chassidim of your community who know you well and ask them how to divide your time between the area of Torah and yiras shamayim and the area of business, and you should follow their advice.

May Hashem grant you success to find the path that is correct for you and to ascend higher and higher, in keeping with the ruling of our holy Torah that one must increase in matters of holiness.

Igros Kodesh, Vol. 6, pp. 122-123


Yud Zayin Cheshvan, 5776

A Jewish man once committed an offense against the king and was sentenced to death. During the days leading up to his execution, he was left to languish in prison, where thoughts of his fate gave him no rest. The image of the embarrassment he would suffer and the chilul Hashem that would be caused was too much for him to bear.

The next time his son paid him a visit, he asked him to bring him some poison so he could end his life in peace rather than be killed so brutally in public. Was the son allowed to bring his father poison, thus enabling him to end his life earlier? What does the mitzvah of kibbud av entail in such an unfortunate situation?

This halachic question was publicized in a contemporary Italian Jewish newspaper, and it reached the attention of R. Matisyahu Avraham Sormani, rov of the Sephardic community in Bucharest, Romania. In a lengthy teshuvah, he concludes that the son may fulfill his father's wishes.

Among the points he brings up are as follows:

  1. The son is not actually feeding him the poison. All he is doing is bringing it; the decision to actually eat it is the father's. The father's subsequent death has absolutely nothing to do with his actions.
  2. There is also no problem of lifnei iver-causing someone else to do an issur, because in this case, the father himself is allowed to take his life. Although it is forbidden to commit suicide, to the extent that the laws of mourning do not apply to a person who does so (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Dei'ah, 345:1), a person may take his life if he is forced to do so, for example, if he will otherwise be killed in a brutal fashion (ibid., 345:3). This can be compared to Shaul Hamelech, who instructed his weapon-bearer to kill him before he would suffer a painful death in the hands of the Pelishtim (I Shmuel 31:4. See Shulchan Aruch, ibid., and Shach ad loc.). Since the father is allowed to take his life, there is no problem for the son to assist him, and in fact, he should do so to carry out his father's wishes and fulfill the mitzvah of kibud av.

R. Matisyahu ventures to say that if there is no other option (for example, if the son will not be allowed to visit again), the son may even take his father's life directly. However, he should preferably do it in a way that will not cause bleeding, to avoid the issur of bruising a parent.

Understandably, R. Matisyahu was hesitant to issue such a psak on his own. He therefore sent the teshuvah he had written to his brother-in-law, R. Rachamim Chaim Yehuda Yisrael ("Yisrael" is the family name), rov of the ancient Jewish community in the Greek island of Rhodes, and ask him for his opinion.

To be continued

Shu"t Ben Yamin, §30

There Is No Way Out! Yud Zayin Cheshvan, 5776

Not only was the Torah given to every Jew, but every Jew is obligated to study it.

This means that one must actually learn Torah. He cannot fulfill his obligation by giving tzedakah so that another can learn, thereby receiving a portion in the study of the Yissachar Jew. The Zevulun Jew must also set aside times to study Torah, and [these times must be kept] each and every day, not just occasionally.

Additionally, it is not enough to have one study session a day. One must set aside time to study twice daily, once by day and once at night.

Sichah of Purim, 5732


Gimmel Cheshvan, 5776

The Stuntman

Boaz moved to LA from Eretz Yisroel in his twenties. He was traditional but not fully observant.

Until his accident.

One beautiful summer day on a lonely highway somewhere in Nevada he hit about 130 when suddenly, from nowhere, a huge semi-trailer truck appeared in front of him. It took him a second to realize that it wasn't a mirage but then it was too late.

"This one is for sure a goner" was the last thing he heard as they pushed him into the ambulance and closed the doors... He thought to himself, "I don't want to die; I'll do what you want. Please, G-d, save me!" And everything went black.

He remained in a coma for over a month. He couldn't move because he was in a body cast from head to toe; almost all his bones had been broken. But the miracles didn't stop.

It took a lot of physical therapy and a lot of prayer but in one year he was actually back on his feet, completely recovered! He went back to work, to a new business, and bought a new bike. And completely forgot his vow! In less than a year, he was back on his feet and back to his old lifestyle as if nothing had happened.


Gimmel Cheshvan, 5776

Place: India. Date: 1890

A Jewish man once committed an offense against the king and was sentenced to death. During the days leading up to his execution, he was left to languish in prison, where thoughts of his fate gave him no rest. He envisioned the day when he would be led to the hangman's noose. Crowds would gather to witness the sight, and he could already hear the cheering and derision of the non-Jewish spectators. The image of the embarrassment he would suffer and the chilul Hashem that would be caused was too much for him to bear.

Fortunately, prison rules allowed for occasional visits from close family members. The next time his son paid him a visit, he asked him to do him a favor, probably the last one he would ever do. He wanted him to purchase some poison and bring it to him the next time he was allowed to visit. "I would rather die in peace in my prison cell," he explained, "than be killed so brutally in public!"

Was the son allowed to bring his father poison, thus enabling him to end his life earlier? What does the mitzvah of kibbud av entail in such an unfortunate situation, to fulfill a parent's wishes or to refrain from doing so?

How the Torah Cures Gimmel Cheshvan, 5776

Dovid Hamelech says in Tehillim, "The Torah of Hashem is complete, it revives the soul." We can explain this based on the Zohar that Hashem, the Torah, and Yisrael are all one, because the life of a Yid comes from Hashem Himself. Accordingly, the only way to revive the soul of a Yid, whether spiritually or physically, is through Hashem and the Torah, because that is where our life comes from.

If so, why do we see that medicine must sometimes be used to revive an ill person? We must say that the medicine, too, is included in Torah. If one would have proper emunah affixed in his heart constantly, he would be able to become cured by arousing the kindness of Hashem through davening or learning Torah. However, due to lack of emunah, chas veshalom, one sometimes needs to utilize medicine or other means.

Degel Machaneh Efraim, Bereishis, 1:1

Kovetz Limmud Vov Tishrei Daled Tishrei 5776

On Vov Tishrei we mark the Yom Hillulah of Rebbetzin Chana. The Rebbe encouraged us to learn from her ways for she was a true paradigm of an "Eizer K'negdo. This updated publication includes stories from the Rebbetzin's life, as well as a full selection of chapters of Mishnayos that begin with the letters of her name.

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

Click here to download the Kovetz Limmud for Vov Tishrei.
For Russian version Click here.

Chof Zayin Elul, 5775

"Get these rocks off my back!"

"Let me explain;

"Where I come from in Brooklyn these rocks that I just took off your back are actually worth, say half a billion. They are called jewelry. But because you are here in this remote part of Bangladesh you are not really aware of what they are. You just feel the weight and don't appreciate the value.

"If you were Jewish I would say it's very similar to Torah - it's very precious but in our dense world of materialism unfortunately it is at times seen as an annoying weight. That is why at times we have Tzaddikim who conceptually come from a different universe - a little like Brooklyn is a different universe for you - and tell us about the true worth of torah."


Chof Zayin Elul, 5775

In the 1920s, the use of automobiles had yet to become widespread, and the bicycle was a common method of transportation in many countries. This was true of the countries of North Africa as well, where numerous Sephardic communities flourished at the time. It was not uncommon to find cyclists, both Jewish and lehavdil non-Jewish, riding their bicycles down the street.

This instigated a question for the Jews of Medenine, a town in southern Tunisia. May a bicycle be rented to a non-Jew on Erev Shabbos? Riding a bicycle on Shabbos is equivalent to carrying in a reshus harabim and is therefore a melachah. May one rent out a bike when it is certain that the goy will ride it on Shabbos?

Rejected Chof Zayin Elul, 5775

"A time to act for Hashem; they have rejected Your Torah.".

I have seen an Aggadah that explains this possuk as follows: An idle, relaxed person who occasionally studies Torah has rejected the bris [between Hashem and the Yidden], because a person who has time on his hands must toil in the study of Torah at all hours of the day. [This is the meaning of the possuk: 'עת לעשות לה, He who acts for Hashem on occasion, הפרו תורתך, has rejected Your Torah.]

Tehilim 119:126 with Rashi


Yud Gimmel Elul, 5775

POPULAR NAMES

Moshe Shlomo, a village merchant, was a simple, good-hearted person, as was his wife Rivka.  Although they had been married for fifteen years they didn't have any children.

Many times during that decade and a half, Moshe Shlomo had gone to the Baal Shem Tov and entreated him to pray for them to have children. The Baal Shem Tov always showered him with blessings-for wealth, for long life, for health, for happiness-but never for what he so dearly hoped to hear.

Ten more years went by. The Baal Shem Tov's blessings all came to fruition. Moshe Shlomo's business affairs prospered and expanded. The couple, however, grew even more unhappy. They still had no children, and no encouragement from the Rebbe.

One day, they both went to see him. "Why do you two look so sad?" asked the Baal Shem Tov. Hasn't G-d blessed you with great prosperity, good health, and pleasant dispositions? And you have made the most of these blessings to do many mitzvos and good deeds."

"It may be true, all that you say," they both answered, "but still, we have no children. What do we need all of this wealth for?" They burst into tears. "After 120, there will be no inheritor and no one to remember us."

The Baal Shem Tov did not respond directly. He simply said, "Tomorrow I'm leaving on a little journey with a few of my students. Why don't you two come along also?"

They were surprised by the invitation but they quickly agreed. The travelers set out the next morning. For two days they were on the road, until finally they arrived at a certain town. After a short rest, the Baal Shem Tov suggested that they all go out and have a look around.

As they walked, they came across a bunch of children playing in the sand. The Baal Shem Tov went over to them and said to the nearest one, "What's your name?"

Six of the little boys were named Boruch Moshe, while most of the rest were Boruch or Moshe or one of those two names in combination with another. They went into a few more schools, and also a yeshiva that had students from all the surrounding villages, and found the same pattern of names. Not only that, whatever girls they encountered along the way were mostly named Brocha Leah, or one of those names singly or in combination with another.

By now it was time for the afternoon Mincha prayer. The men went into a shul. As soon as the minyan ended, the Baal Shem Tov asked one of the local men why all the children of the town had the same names. The man answered obligingly that he would be happy to tell them the whole story.


Yud Gimmel Elul, 5775

Although sugar looks quite similar to salt in color and texture, the taste it provides is extremely different. Does this mean that it belongs to a different category, or is it perhaps to be viewed as a salt derivative? The practical ramifications of this question are twofold. First of all, can a korban be "salted" with sugar? And second, if a piece of chicken or meat was accidentally "salted" with sugar instead of salt, is it kosher?

The first question was asked by the students of R. Yaakov Chagiz (1620-1674), the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Beis Yaakov in Yerushalayim, at one of the weekly erev Shabbos question-and-answer sessions he conducted with them. R. Yaakov asserts that sugar is undoubtedly a type of salt. Just as there are both sweet and sour lemons, oranges, and pomegranates, so too there is salt that is salty and there is salt that is sweet. The defining quality of salt is its ability to preserve, a characteristic present in sugar as well.

But considering sugar a type a salt doesn't mean that it can always be sprinkled on a korban.

The Book of Life Yud Gimmel Elul, 5775

The Zohar teaches us that the Torah and the name of Hashem are one; similarly, the Gemara says that the entire Torah consists of "the names of Hashem." Since the names of Hashem include both the levels of chessed and gevurah, it follows that the Torah possesses these two levels as well.

The Torah is called Adam, and the 248 mitzvos asei and 365 mitzvos lo saaseh are the source of a Yid's neshamah. Accordingly, when a Yid learns Torah sincerely and connects his neshamah with the Torah, he will also receive these two levels of chessed and gevurah.

This is expressed in his ability to bring about both death and life. As the Gemara (Shabbos 88b) explains the possuk (Mishlei 8:6),"Listen, for I will speak noble things": "Just as a nobleman has the ability to end a life or keep someone alive, so do the words of Torah have the ability to bring about death and life." This means that through the Torah, talmidei chachamim have the abilityto bring about death and life.

Degel Machanei Ephraim, Bamidbar 21:14