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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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Everlasting Flavor Tes Zayin Kislev, 5777

Rebbi Chiya bar Abba said in the name of Rebbi Yochanan: What is the meaning of the possuk, "He who guards a fig tree will eat its fruits"? Why are the words of Torah compared to a fig tree? [Figs do not ripen at once, rather some ripen today and others ripen tomorrow. Accordingly,] a person will always find ripe figs in the fig tree whenever he handles it. Similarly, a person will always find flavor in the words of Torah whenever he studies it.

Eiruvin 54a-b

Beis Kislev, 5777

Why Reb Nochum Fell from His Horse

The Mitteler Rebbe, was known for his penchant for joyfulness. He even had a group of chassidim who formed a kapelye (choir), and another group who were trained to perform tricks on horseback. On special, joyous occasions, he would ask these groups to perform, and he would stand on his balcony watching. The rebbe's son Reb Nochum happened to be one of these horsemen.

Once, for no apparent reason, the rebbe suddenly instructed both of these groups to perform. This was extremely unusual. Yet the chassidim performed while the rebbe stood in his usual spot and watched the horsemen carefully.

Suddenly the rebbe's son Reb Nochum fell off of his horse. Informed that his son was in grave danger, the rebbe merely motioned with his hand to continue the festivities.

After a while the rebbe asked them to stop, and stepped into his private office.

Beis Kislev, 5777

Date: 1953.
Location: Elizabeth, New Jersey

A blind Jew who would walk around with the assistance of a guide dog was faced with a dilemma. He desired to attend services in shul, but it didn't seem respectable to enter a mikdash me'at with a dog (or with any other animal, for that matter). On the other hand, that was the only way he would be able to participate in all of the devarim shebi'kedushah taking place in shul. Was he allowed to enter the shul with his dog?

The man presented his query to the local Rov, R. Pinchas Mordechai Teitz OBM, who in turn asked the opinion of HaRav Moshe Feinstein OBM.

In his teshuvah, R. Moshe cites a Yerushalmi (Megilah 3:3) that states that talmidei chachomim may make use of a shul for their personal needs. The Yerushalmi continues that Rav Imi instructed the schoolteachers (who taught in shul): "Even if a 'mediocre' talmid chochom arrives to the shul, allow him to enter along with his donkey and utensils." From this Gemara we can deduce that bringing an animal into shul is no worse than making use of it in other ways (such as through eating or drinking there). Since our shuls today are built with the stipulation that they may be used for other purposes (even by those who are not talmidei chachomim), it follows that one may bring an animal into a shul, at least in a case of a sha'as hadechak (such as ours).

R. Moshe brings another interesting proof as well. The Gemara (Brachos 62a) relates that Abayei's mother raised a sheep that would constantly accompany him. (This way he would not enter thebeis hakiseialone and would be protected from mazikin.) Since Abayei certainly spent most of his day in the beis midrash, the sheep probably accompanied him there as well.

R. Moshe concludes that the man was allowed to enter the shul with his dog, but he recommended that he sit near the entrance, to avoid disturbing the congregation.

When R. Moshe's teshuvah was printed in the first volume of Igros Moshe in 1959, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kasher OBM, compiler of Torah Shleimah, sent him a letter with a number of comments on the sefer, including this particular teshuvah. R. Moshe's heter was based on the premise that a dog is no worse than a donkey or sheep. R. Kasher argues with this premise.

The Most Effective Medicine Beis Kislev, 5777

Rav Yehudah beRebbi Chiya said: Come and see how the measure of Hashem is different from the measure of a man of flesh and blood. When a man of flesh of blood provides another with medicine, it can be beneficial for one organ and harmful for another [for example, it can be beneficial for the heart and harmful for the eyes]. But Hashem is different: he gave the Torah to Yisroel, which is a medicine of life for one's entire body, as the possuk says, "It is a cure for his entire flesh."

Eiruvin 54a

Yud Zayin Cheshvan, 5777

Puppet Solution

Thanks for sending me the encouraging emails to get more involved in learning.

For lack of a better word I wish to share with you that I am really like a puppet. I don't see why I need to be learning if I can simply ask a Rov if a shaila comes up and, so to speak, be a puppet to his learning.

Dear puppet,

Look, if you put the other reasons to learn on a scale opposite the reason of knowing what to do - it would swiftly catapult that reason flying to a distant place.

Still, for the sake of argument let me address just that reason; imagine all the times that asking a Rov is not possible, On Shabbos and Yom Tov, when you have no phone (or battery), when a moment's notice is needed, when you are in middle of Shemone Esrei; I am giving these examples cause they all pretty much happened to me.

I can accept your argument about Hilchos Mikvaos which I imagine you are not constructing and Hilchos Toen and Nitaan as I sense you aren't sitting at din Torah's and such; but before dismissing leaning any other halachic topics think - can I honestly get away without this knowledge?

Gloves are more useful than puppets.

Yud Zayin Cheshvan, 5777

Date: 1953.
Location: Elizabeth, New Jersey

A blind member of the Jewish community in Elizabeth, New Jersey, would walk around with the assistance of a guide dog. As a frumme Yid, he strongly desired to participate in the tefillos in shul and be able to answer Kaddish and Kedushah, hear the reading of the Torah and Megillah, and so on. However, since he was dependent on his dog to help him make his way, this would only be possible if the dog would accompany him to shul.

The Yid was faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, it didn't seem respectable to enter a mikdash me'at with a dog (or with any other animal, for that matter). On the other hand, that was the only way he would be able to participate in all of the devarim shebi'kedushah taking place in shul.

Was the blind mispalel allowed to enter the shul with his guide dog?

Beruriah's Advice Yud Zayin Cheshvan, 5777

Beruriah [the wife of Reb Meir] once found a certain student studying quietly... She said to him: "Doesn't the possuk say, '[It is] arranged in all and protected'? This teaches us that if the Torah is arranged in all of one's 248 limbs, it will be protected; but if it is not, it will not be protected."

It was taught in a Beraisa: Rebbi Eliezer had a student who would study quietly. After three years, he forgot his learning. [...]

Shmuel said to Rav Yehudah: "Sharp one! Open your mouth and read [Chumash]; open your mouth and study [Mishnah]. This way, what you study will remain with you and you will have a long life, as the possuk says: 'For they are life for those who find them [למוצאיהם], and a cure for his entire flesh.' Do not read it as למוצאיהם, but rather as למוציאיהם, those who recite the words of Torah verbally." [...]

Rebbi Yitzchok said: We can deduce [the importance of studying Torah aloud] from this possuk: "For [the Torah] is extremely close to you, in your mouth and your heart to do it." When is it extremely close to you? When it is in your mouth and your heart to do it.

Eiruvin 54a

Gimmel Cheshvan, 5777

Torah Education for Women

Devora Leah was the aunt of Rabbi Schneur Zalman, known as the Alter Rebbe. Her mother, Rachel, was a very unusual woman for her time.

Educated secretly by her unconventional father, Rachel eventually mastered not only Chumash, but the Talmud and the writings of Maimonides, and was especially expert in the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law.

Her erudition in Jewish legal matters is illustrated by an incident in which her husband and father were walking on Shabbos.

Suddenly, someone came running to tell them that the city's eiruv had broken.

The two rabbis stood still, unable to remember the law under such circumstances. Rachel's father asked her what they should do.

At first she didn't want to reply, since it was frowned upon in those days for a woman to be learned and she didn't want to alienate her new husband.

But when her father pressed her, she answered and everyone abided by her instructions.

Gimmel Cheshvan, 5777

The first successful manned landing on the moon in 1969 opened up a new area of halachah- how are Torah and mitzvos to be kept on the moon. One of the many questions that can arise is whether a Jewish astronaut on the moon can recite Kiddush Levanah.

This question was raised by R. Avraham Maimon, a Rov in Marseilles of Tunisian descent, in a sefer published seven years after this event. R. Maimon is of the opinion that an astronaut can, indeed, recite this brachah. After all, the halachah is that one who sees the new moon should recite this brachah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 426:1), and the astronaut can certainly see the moon; in fact, he is actually standing on it! R. Maimon takes this a step further: since the waxing and waning of the moon is not noticeable on the moon itself, perhaps this brachah can be recited throughout the month.

The Key is At the End Gimmel Cheshvan, 5777

May it be a year of light, a year of blessing, a year of geulah, a year of happiness, a year of glory, a year of good assembly, a year of merit, a year of good life, a year of goodness, a year of promise, a year of sustenance, a year of successful study, a year of kingship, a year of victory and miracles, a year of good signs, a year of strength ("Hashem will give strength to his nation; Hashem will bless his nation with peace"), a year of redemption, a year of jubilation, a year of holiness, a year of supremacy, a year of great joy until it reaches the level of ad delo yada, and a year of praise.

All this is included in and derives from the fact that it is a year of Torah and a year of tefillah, and before that-a year of teshuvah.

Birchas Habonim of Erev Yom Kippur after Minchah, 5744 (TM 5744, Vol. 1, p. 137)

Yud Beis Tishrei, 5777

Learning, Giving or Both?

There is a fascinating maamar (Torah Ohr, Toldos) where the Alter Rebbe discusses natural inclinations. He quotes the Rambam which states that generally there are two types of gall bladders which result in two types of tendencies; one which likes learning but dislikes giving while the other likes giving but dislikes learning.

I feel safe to say that this is the exact balance which the Samech Mem relies upon; that the people who learn won't do much about it and the people who are willing to do won't learn much to know what and how to do.

As we are all in the business of eliminating the samech mem and his interests it behooves those with an inclination to learning to make a concerted effort to add in doing and those who (because my personal "business" is to inspire learning I will add the adjectives:) are lucky and fortunate enough to incline to doing should make a (again the extra adjectives) tremendous and focused exertion to squeeze learning past their natural inclination to decline.

Yud Beis Tishrei, 5777

On July 20, 1969, science and space exploration reached an unprecedented milestone when man set foot on the moon for the first time. Millions of people the world over sat glued to their radios, as Neil Armstrong said his famous words: "A small step for man; a huge leap for mankind."

In the world of Torah, this small step created another type of leap. It opened up a new area of halachah that had never been explored before: how are Torah and mitzvos to be kept on the moon?

One of the many questions that can arise relates to a brachah pertaining to the moon itself: the brachah of Kiddush Levanah, said once a month, from (three or) seven days since the molad until the moon becomes full. Can a Jewish astronaut who is on the moon recite this brachah?

User-Friendly Seforim Yud Beis Tishrei, 5777

Regrettably, today is different from earlier generations, which were relatively peaceful and without upheaval and the like. In those days, the Torah and its seforim possessed the most important spot in the home of each person (even those who did not understand what was written inside), and they gladly gave them precedence over everything else.

Therefore, in my opinion, today it is the mitzvah and obligation of every person who publishes seforim [related to] Torah and mitzvos, yiras shamayim, and the like to publish them in a format that is easy to use and carry from one residence to the next, to a small seforim room, etc. The smallest deficiency in the ease of using the sefer may prevent many people from buying the sefer and studying or reading it. We cannot neglect such people either, as the possuk says (Koheles 11:6), "You do not know which one will succeed," and perhaps he will have worthy offspring.

Igros Kodesh, Vol. 11, p. 294

Chof Zayin Elul, 5776

The Third Partner

Once there was a husband and wife who lived together in a little village, one of the hundreds of little villages which peppered the countryside of Russia and Poland in the times of our grandparents, and great-grandparents and the dozens of generations which preceded them.

Like many such couples, they were very poor, subsisting from day to day by the work of their hands. And although life was hard, their eyes ever turned upward to their Father in Heaven, beseeching Him to remember them, and never to forsake them. Thus they lived for many years, in harmony, with peace and love reigning between them.

And although they thanked G-d every day for the goodness He bestowed upon them, they suffered from one great sorrow which cast its shadow over their placid lives--they had no children.

For this one thing they prayed every day.

On Shabbat and the holidays, when the wife would don her pure white kerchief, cover her eyes and bless the candles, she murmured a prayer begging G-d to grant her a child. And when the husband stood in silent prayer, he, too, would remind the Creator of his craving for a child.

After many years had passed, their greatest wish was granted, and the wife gave birth to a baby boy. Their joy and thankfulness were unbounded as they watched their little son grow.

The days and months passed by joyfully, until the day came when the child was ready to be weaned. The parents consulted each other as to how to embark on this new step.

They wanted to purchase the proper food for their precious child, but were unsure how kosher it would have to be to qualify as kosher enough for a child.

The couple was quite poor, and so, they decided that if it were kosher, but not exactly up to the very highest standards, it would certainly be good enough.

But then, the mother piped up and said, "You know, it isn't enough to decide between ourselves, for there is a third partner in the creation of a child -- G-d Himself takes part; without Him, no child enters this world.

Her husband agreed, and so they looked in the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, where it is written: It is preferable to feed the child food of the highest standard of kashrut.

The loving parents, wanting to do the very best for their son, bought the most kosher food available.

They also decided that it would be proper to consult the Third Partner each time they made a major decision in the child's upbringing.

Days and months passed and it was soon time to choose a teacher for the little boy. The parents wondered, where should they look for a proper teacher, one who would instill in their precious boy a love of learning and values which the Torah held dear.

They looked here and there, spoke to this melamed (teacher) and that, but when it came time to choose, they again decided to do what the Third Partner would wish, and they selected a fine G-d fearing young man, who they felt sure would lead their child on the path of righteousness.

The little boy grew and matured into a fine young man, but his parents still watched over him as carefully as before.

When the time arrived to choose a bride, they came upon a problem: the poor couple had no money to establish a home for their son. What could they do? Finally, the mother spoke up: "From the time of our son's birth, until now, we always did what G-d wanted, without any regard to cost. No matter what sacrifice it entailed, we went ahead, and we footed the whole bill. Now, it is time for the Third Partner to pay His share in the upbringing of our child."

The father agreed, and he went into the fields and prayed from the bottom of his heart. "G-d, You know that we always put Your will before our own in the rearing of the son You gave us. Now, we are unable to find our son a bride without Your help, and so we call upon You to join in the mitzva of bringing our son under the marriage canopy."

No sooner had he completed his prayer, when a pure gold coin miraculously descended from the Heavens, and the father knew that his prayer was accepted. The mother, the father and the Third Partner rejoiced at the wedding of the beloved son and his new bride.

Taken from L'Chaim #339 with permission