Friday, January 28, 2011

Pearl bas Feige Rivka needs our prayers.

Consumers of OU products are advised not to consume 7 Seas Gravlax Smoked Salmon, as it appears that a non-kosher ingredient was used in that product. Consumers that see the product in the market should please contact the Orthodox Union at 212-613-8344.

Parsha Yisro left over

To receive the Law at Har Sinai we needed a level of holiness aka Kedushah to do so. Rabbi Meir Kahane HY”D wrote on this as he studied the book Torat Kohanim thanks to Tzipora in her weekly writings: “You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” “Everything that Hashem has spoken, we shall do!” (Ex. 19:6, 19:8)

G-d is holy. He is the climax of Kedushah, the well from which Kedushah flows to the world. In the world He created, He fixed the extent of Kedushah and separateness. He gave Kedushah to Israel, as it says, “be holy people to Me “ (Ex. 22:30), “You must be holy” (Lev. 19:2), and, “Your camp must be holy” (Deut. 23:15). Seforno comments on this last verse, “From impurity and loathsomeness”.

G-d decreed that Israel must sanctify themselves. He, therefore, further decreed separation from the nations and from the profane, because without it, Kedushah is impossible, as it states explicitly, “You shall be holy to Me, for I, the L-rd, am holy, and I have separated you out from among the nations to be Mine” (Lev. 20:26).

We also learn (Torat Kohanim, Shemini, 12), “Just as I am holy, so are you holy. Just as I am set apart, so must you be set apart.” Here we find Kedushah defined: It means separating oneself from the abominations, impurity and bestiality of the world, and instead clinging to purity and spiritual loftiness, goodness and the yoke of Heaven, intent on ascending and becoming holier.

Kedushah is the foundation of the world, because kedusha is perfection and purity, without a trace of abomination, spiritual baseness, selfishness, or bestial lust. Kedushah involves preparation, readying oneself to become holy, to fill one's soul with Kedushah, as was said, as was said at Sinai, “Go to the people and sanctify them” (Ex.19:10), and Rashi comments, “Ready them, so that they can prepare themselves”. Kedushah means being ready for holiness and purity to enter the heart and soul.

Our sages said (Torat Kohanim, Kedoshim, 1):

If you sanctify yourselves, I will credit you as having sanctified Me. If you do not sanctify yourselves, I will treat you as not having sanctified Me... Abba Shaul says, “Israel are the King's retinue, and they are required to emulate the King.

In other words, Israel, as G-d's retinue, have the task of imitating Him, of being as similar to Him as it is possible for a man to be similar to G-d, and of coming close to Him. If they do so, then, so to speak, G-d as well, ascends spiritually and becomes holier. G-d decreed this upon Israel: "Remember and keep all My commandments and be holy to your G-d” (Num. 15:40). The Sifrei comments (Shelach, 115), “This is the Kedushah of all the mitzvot.”

Parsha Mishpatim

The most privative of humans had their own rules or laws starting with the family of father and mother setting down boundaries for the children whether it was not to stray far from the house or to be attached on the back of a mother in infancy to don’t eat or touch harmful plants or animals. The next higher level was the clan where there were elders in the family unit. As the population of humans grew so they formed villages and structures and other boundaries. Our Parsha opens with the freed slaves from Egypt needing a national structure. The laws of Egypt were null and void but anarchy could not prevail for the people were given through the advice of Yisro Judges of 10, 50, 100, 1000 and a Sanhedrin of Elders either existed or was about to exist.

At Sinai the Bnei Yisrael not only had the 10 Dibros but were also given other rules that made they cry. For up until the giving of the Torah a man could marry two or more sisters at once, his aunt and other forbidden relationships which existed and it was common in Egypt for the Ptolemy family to maintain the Pharaoh line through father/daughter and sister/brother relationship. Even though almost all the family units of the Bnei Yisrael were similar in structure to what we have today. Many families that had to cry over the break ups of couples and we have an oral tradition of a lot of crying by both men and women and greater families after the giving of the Torah. For although the structure of the human relationships were to be written in Vayikra from then end of Acharei Mos through Kedoshim and Emor; the Oral Tradition almost immediately via prophecy or with the words “You should not commit Adultery” came into being with the rest of the relationship. We only have to look at our ‘modern’ Bnei Yishmael neighbors and their behavior with the animals and among themselves to know what forbidden acts this slave society had to repent over.

Having been given teaches and Judges in Parsha Yisro, the Bnei Yisrael began to learn the Halachos of daily life. The Torah is called Etz Chaim (a tree of life) to those who cling to it. Now the Halachos of daily life would necessarily involve ownership and damages henceforth Mishpatim (laws or Judgements) where the Bnei Yisrael were prepared for Nationhood. Now that Courts of Law, under the supreme court of the Sanhedrin, Judges and policing via the elders of the tribes and their followers and Moshe as the ruler, it was time for the everyday laws to come out.

The Torah speaks of 4 categories of damages: (1) Trespass damages that destroy property (2) Damages through movement on public property (3) Obstacles on a public way (4) Damages caused by ones actions that get out of hand like a fire, chemicals, air pollution, etc. Stealing a man and smiting a parent are in direct violation of last week’s commandments.

21:1 Now these are the ordinances which thou shalt set before them. 2 If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve; and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.

Now there were two cases where a man became a slave or servant. (1) Being sold into slavery for stealing. (2) Becoming a slave voluntarily for either education in the household of the elite and/or to work for a certain period as a slave and at the end of that time become free with what we call today workers compensation so that he would have enough to start his own family. It was not uncommon for a servant (slave) of the same tribe who was smart and diligent to be freed by the master to marry the daughter. We need not go any further than Rabbi Akiva, the servant shepherd, and Rachel the daughter of Kalba Savua to see that it was not uncommon for these things to happen.

When would one sell himself into slavery? Most likely during a drought or famine so that a man would be able to support his family with honor as a servant and the translation of servant is a good one as basically that was what a Hebrew slave was. Moshe is called Eved HASHEM or slave to the L-RD but by anybody’s standard he was a freeman and really a servant unto G-D. Not every servant had to work full time in the fields, cowsheds, wagon driver, etc. of the master for he might be even a poor scholar who then taught the children of the master as a teacher of Judaism, mathematics, bargaining, etc.

I wonder if a father or young teen would sell himself to a doctor or builder to become an apprentice to learn a trade for the six years of servitude one could learn to be a doctor, master carpenter, master chef, master builder etc. There were no trade schools in the times of the Bible and doing work with honor was the rule of the day.

3 If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he be married, then his wife shall go out with him.

In return for the master supporting him and perhaps his family work was in return. The equivalent today would be for a couple to work for a company or for two modern employers and receive a salary. After all aren’t all of us somewhere along the line working as servants? Think about what we call professionals today teachers, engineers, doctors, accountants, lawyers are actually in some way servants. For we all send our children to schools and the teachers become public servants and when we go to the hospitals doctors and nurses serve us whether it be in the operating room or visiting our bedside. How do we treat our lawyer or accountant who is serving us – as slaves? Of course not, we treat them with great respect. The same was for the master-Hebrew servant attitude in the times of the Bible. In fact in modern society sometimes we treat our Cardiologist serving us even on a higher level than ourselves.

4 If his master give him a wife, and she bear him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. 5 But if the servant shall plainly say: I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free; 6 then his master shall bring him unto God, and shall bring him to the door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.

This section deals with a non-Jewish female slave who already was sent to the Mikvah for conversion upon purchase and was required to follow the 7 Mitzvos of Bnei Noach. Of course the freed Jewish Slave could purchase or request to purchase the slave girl and set her and the children free and then marry her as a Jewess. Forever was not forever but until the Yovel (Jubilee) year. For even if the man sold his fields at first to survive during the Yovel they would return to him and he was now able to work as a free man on his own land. If we assume that he was not an imbecile, he would have enough management skills from his owner to know how to run a farm or rent the land and work elsewhere.

7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maid-servant, she shall not go out as the men-servants do.

Meaning upon reaching the age of 12 years old which is considered maturity, she is to be freed and married off. This was not modern pedophilia but a marriage of Chessed.

8 If she please not her master, who hath espoused her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed; to sell her unto a foreign people he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. 9 And if he espouse her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.

The mistress of the house finding favor with this servant girl thought that she might make a wonderful daughter-in-law would convince as wives know how her husband to have the son marry her. On our modern level this is sort of Cinderella marrying the Prince but on a biblical level “He took her in, he was compensated for his mother and he loved her – first they lived together among themselves established their own little family unit and then become one for another. Of course there was a period of infatuation of being a young couple but they were a family unit from the start and in those days not much courtship. Rachel and Akiva were not the rule but the exception. Yitzchak had no say in the matter of marrying Rivka (she did have a say if she wanted to go with Eliezer or not). It is a simple fact based on Rashi that they were married for a mere 130 years or on Ibn Ezra for a mere 119 years. Funny with our modern romance and marriage we have a tremendous divorce rate so somebody is doing something wrong while the ancients were doing something right. Perhaps we are chasing after the wrong thing for perhaps my wife should be reasonably tall, no glasses, a thin waist, slender legs, large torso and the other features of happily ever after films dreams. However, by marrying somebody to talk to on your intelligence level somebody to be with and be there for you and you for her is never mentioned in a Hollywood Film.

10 If he take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and her conjugal rights, shall he not diminish.

There may be 106 male births for every 100 female births but unfortunately there is a tendency of males to do risky things such as over indulgence in sports, traffic risks and wars so that by maturity there are more females than males. Society has a choice of having these excess females with hormones do hanky panky with married men or become second wives to the wealthy. It was a solution for the poor bachelorette and a solution for a man during the confinement of his own wife.

11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out for nothing, without money.

This Jewish Servant girl or even former non-Jewish now Jewess slave girl cannot be sold for money rather she shall go out with 200 Zuz as he Ketuba money. In modern terms the 200 Zuz might mean a small apartment and a sum of money or alimony.

12 He that smites a man, so that he dies, shall surely be put to death.

From the next Pasuk we learn that this rule is for first degree homicide.

13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God cause it to come to hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he may flee.

Today we would treat such a case as second degree murder or man slaughter to varying degrees for most cases among normal people are not first degree homicide but accidental. How could it be second degree homicide? The man had a grudge against the other and perhaps got bad mouthed or wanted to beat the guy to a pulp but not murder him, but in this case he over did it.

14 And if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die. 15 And he that smites his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. 16 And he that steals a man, and sells him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

Shimon wants to kill Yosef and Yehuda convinced Shimon to sell him for profit instead of murdering him. Since most of us are descendants of Yehuda at this point our mouths are like filled with water and we have no answer but to say we are lucky that this occurred under the laws of Bnei Noach and prior to Matan Torah (giving of the).

17 And he that curses his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death. 18 And if men contend, and one smite the other with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keep his bed; 19 if he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.

That man is sued and is required to pay for healing, loss of work, disability if injured for life, embarrassment for being wounded and pain.

The following sentences if taken literally most of us will never have a chance to deal with it. But instead of Ox we substitute Tractor, Bulldozer, Truck or Car we have a different prospective and the Halachos in their final form would be similar. When one reads deeper the possibilities become large in a modern society.

20 And if a man smite his bondman, or his bondwoman, with a rod, and he die under his hand, he shall surely be punished. 21 Notwithstanding if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his money.

We are not talking about punishment from heaven for this Pasuk but in this world.

22 And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if any harm follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

All this is financial compensation which originally was (1) embarrassment (2) loss of work (3) healing costs (4) pain costs and (5) the loss of one’s ability to be productive aka 5% or more disability. The Rabbinical Court calls in experts on this but is not on the same level of the ancient courts to judge it as the tradition has been lost over the centuries and also claims and compensation have changed.

26 And if a man smite the eye of his bondman, or the eye of his bondwoman, and destroy it, he shall let him go free for his eye's sake. 27 And if he smite out his bondman's tooth, or his bondwoman's tooth, he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake.

Modern Halacha takes into account work related injury.

28 And if an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die, the ox shall be surely stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. 29 But if the ox was wont to gore in time past, and warning hath been given to its owner, and he hath not kept it in, but it hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 If there be laid on him a ransom, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.

Taking into account a modern vehicle we have to look into the man’s driving record, road conditions and automobile maintenance. It is obvious to anybody that an unexpected ice storm could cause conditions that make a vehicle go out of control. In a recent case in the civil court in Israel a driver was initially charged with hitting and killing a motorcyclist who was a popular sports figure. It was determined that the safety helmet was not secured in place and that from traffic cameras on the area, the motorist was cleared of all charges. But think what would have happened if under good driving conditions he would hit a motorcyclists with a helmet secured but he did not maintain his brakes. The possibilities are open for more and more damages and injuries just based on this.

31 Whether it have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him. 32 If the ox gore a bondman or a bondwoman, he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

This is the value of a slave at the time of the writing of the Torah – but what about a chief engineer or important technician or MD from a hospital in modern terms?

33 And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein, 34 the owner of the pit shall make it good; he shall give money unto the owner of them, and the dead beast shall be his.

Placing an object on a public through fare or sidewalk can cause damages.

35 And if one man's ox hurt another's, so that it dies; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the price of it; and the dead also they shall divide. 36 Or if it be known that the ox was wont to gore in time past, and its owner hath not kept it in; he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead beast shall be his own.

A car crash into another vehicle or the recent film of a NYC sanitation truck banging into a parked car or two during snow removal requires compensation. In the case of the sanitation truck it turned out to be one city vehicle crashing into a vehicle belonging to a person from a different city department.

37 If a man steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it, he shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.

Cattle and sheep rustling exists today especially among Arabs towards Israeli Jews they view it as a Mitzvah to steal.

22:1 If a thief be found breaking in, and be smitten so that he dies, there shall be no blood guiltiness for him.

The laws of trespass apply here

19 He that sacrifices unto the gods, save unto the LORD only, shall be utterly destroyed. 20 And a stranger shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

This refers here to the Ger Toshav (7 Mitzvos of Noach living in Eretz Yisrael) and in some ways to a Ger Tzeddik so that one is forbidden to poke fun of him for his background.

21 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 22 If thou afflict them in any wise--for if they cry at all unto Me, I will surely hear their cry-- 23 My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

Now one cannot give charity to every widow or orphan in Yisrael but one is forbidden to take advantage of them.

24 If thou lend money to any of My people, even to the poor with thee, thou shalt not be to him as a creditor; neither shall ye lay upon him interest. 25 If thou at all take thy neighbor's garment to pledge, thou shalt restore it unto him by that the sun goes down; 26 for that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin; wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he cries unto Me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.

No loan sharks or oppressing of the poor. Again one cannot be expected just because he has $1,000,000 to give a dollar to 1,000,000 poor people but he is expected to help where he can and treat them as children of the L-Rd.

27 Thou shalt not revile God, nor curse a ruler of thy people. 28 Thou shalt not delay to offer of the fullness of thy harvest, and of the outflow of thy presses. The first-born of thy sons shalt thou give unto Me. 29 Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep; seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it Me. 30 And ye shall be holy men unto Me; therefore ye shall not eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.

No eating of trafe.

The Parsha ends with Moshe being on Har Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. It is hard to understand a physical body nourishing from some sort of osmosis from the Shechina where Moshe neither ate, drank, sat or stood, slept nor relieved himself for this time period but was sort of antigravity suspended and the soul kept the body alive.

Halachos from Danny Shoemann

One is not allowed to chop down fruit bearing trees without a good reason. Besides for the transgression of wasting, doing so is also considered to be dangerous.
If a tree is preventing other trees from growing, then it may be chopped down. If lots of trees are growing together in a small area, then one may chop down some of them so that the others can flourish. If one needs the space that the tree is growing on, then it may be chopped down. If the wood of the tree is more valuable than its fruits, it can be chopped down for the wood. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 33:11

The correct Bracha before eating grapes is בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָעֵץ - "who creates the fruit of the tree". The correct Bracha before drinking wine is בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגֶּפֶן - "who creates the fruit of the vine". If one mistakenly says בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגֶּפֶן on grapes, one can eat the grapes without making another Bracha, since grapes are also the "fruit of the vine." If one mistakenly says בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָעֵץ on wine, then one should try correct it immediately (within the time it takes to say 3 words). If one delayed longer than that, one can still drink the wine without another Bracha. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 56:1,3

After eating grapes, dates, pomegranates, olives and figs one says the "short 1-in-3 Birkas Hamazon" (often referred to as "Al HaMichya") with the עַל הָעֵץ ועַל פּרִי הָעֵץ - "on the trees and the fruit of the trees" option. If one ate grapes and mistakenly used the עַל הַגֶּפֶן ועַל פְּרִי הַגֶּפֶן - "on the vine and the fruit of the vine" option, one does not need to correct it, since grapes are also the "fruit of the vine." On all other fruit, the after-Bracha is "Borei Nefashos". Fruit eaten during a meal are covered by the Birkas Hamazon.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 56:1

The correct Bracha before eating truffles and mushrooms is שֶׁהַכּוֹל נִהְיָה בִּדְבָרוֹ Even though they usually grow on the ground, they do not grow from the ground; they get their nourishment from the air. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 52:3

The same way that writing is forbidden on Shabbat, so too is erasing forbidden. There are opinions that it is forbidden to open books that have writing along the edge. The custom is to allow opening such books - even though the writing will be "broken" and again "repaired" when one closes the book. However, it is best to not write along the edge of books that will be used on Shabbat. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:63-64 Shabbat Shalom - Danny


I went through a youthful period when I read histories of the Holocaust. Now, I just can't read how primitive and awful are our enemies. I made an exception when my own Rabbi, Samuel Cywiak released his Holocaust memoir just two weeks ago. It was painful yet fulfilling to read the story of my 89 year old rabbi being a 19 year old youth outsmarting and outrunning the Nazis. I had underestimated the man. He had the guile, savvy and strength to survive, when, frankly, I may not have.
My city of Saint Augustine has 3 synagogues. The Reform and Chabad attract a younger crowd but I was most comfortable in Rabbi Cywiak's Conservative synagogue with its older worshipers. If I may add, my synagogue must own the world record for the oldest bar mitzvah boy when 93 year old Benjamin Rosenfel, "became a man."
Rabbi Cywiak's book is called Flight From Fear and was written with the good help of Jeff Swesky. Without this book I would never have known of my rabbi's privileged lineage. His father was one of the founders of a serious political movement to this day, Agudat Yisrael, while his cousin was the revered Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Goren. The book's horrors are balanced by humor and optimism, yes, apparently you could find an occasional funny and optimistic side of the Holocaust, and that makes this memoir special.
We'll let the Rabbi tell us how he was the sole survivor of a Nazi massacre, after his father shoved him into the death pit a second before the machine guns started blasting:

"Can anyone hear me? Anyone? Anyone at all?" Out of sixty or so Jews marched into the woods by the Germans, I was the only survivor. I was surrounded by death; the senseless murdering of Jews. What kind of evil does these things? "Oh dear G-d, why is this happening to us?" I cried out to the silent night.

He fled to a nearby city and found the burnt remains of the synagogue.

Inside the charred destroyed building were hundreds and hundreds of burnt bodies, skeletons. The Nazis to get rid of many Jews in one shot, packed them into the synagogue, barricaded them inside, and set fire to the building, burning the inhabitants alive.
(This is not new in Blois France if I am not mistaken this was done on an island in the middle of the river in the Synagogue in the 1300’s)

The horrors of his journey never ended. He entered another city:

There were maybe fifty or more Jewish men, women and children piled in a gutter with their throats slit from ear to ear.

Rabbi Cywiak shows far more compassion to the gentiles of his country than to their religious leaders who prepared the ground for the slaughter.

There were plenty of good Polish people along my travels who wanted to help, who truly felt bad about what was happening to the Jews. They felt sorry, even cried at times. Some went out of their way to help. They had good hearts. Sometimes I felt sorry for them! They were so openly broken up; they showed their emotions.


Who used to start these rumors of us killing Christ and drinking the blood of Christian children? A handful of Christian priests and bishops with an agenda. That's who. These religious leaders were responsible for creating the environment that made it possible for Hitler to attempt his Master Plan.


Too much religion can be as dangerous as too little religion. The best example I can give is the blind faith the Hasidic Rebbes had that G-d would not allow Hitler and the Nazis to do all the horrible things that they threatened to do. They believed the Messiah would come and save us all. Of course, that did not happen. The Hasidic Rebbes were wrong!

Several times a year, Rabbi Cywiak lectures to Christian audiences about his Holocaust experiences. One asked, Did you ever wish you were a Christian so you wouldn't have had to experience the Holocaust. His answer is succinct and logical, far more so than the query.

"What if I was born in a family of Nazis? I could have ended up killing Jewish children. Could I possibly wish for something like this?" The girl opened her mouth but didn't say anything. Not a word.

Rabbi Cywiak is eventually told that his family was shipped to Auschwitz.

My heart sunk. The glimmer of hope I held that they had found safety disappeared. Instead my worst fears had come true. Mom, Nechama, my three young brothers, were all murdered in Auschwitz.

In their honor, the survivor of the family, now my rabbi prints a poem by another victim of the Nazis, Erwin Kirshbaum, called AUSCHWITZ. Its last two lines read:
The surprise is not that so many died, the true surprise is that any survived.

The following story Elizabeth posted is from Aish HaTorah click and enjoy:

A related story is:

The book called the Path of the Just mentioned in the first story can be found on line:

Also on audio:

My gun license is about to expire and with my eyesight able to see the target but not the gun tip without glasses and shaky hands as I age, I am giving it up. A gun used in security is considered Pekuach Nefesh but what is the Halacha for a gun, sword or other instrument when this is not so on Shabbos?

From the OU – Yisro – Weapons on Shabbat By Rabbi Asher Meir

The Shulchan Aruch writes that a sword (or other weapon) is not considered an ornament, and therefore may not be worn on Shabbat outside the eiruv (SA OC 301:7).

This Halacha is the topic of a fascinating discussion in the Mishna and Gemara (Shabbat 63a). Rebbe Eliezer’s view is that a sword is considered an ornament. Historically, in many times and places a sword was considered a vital accompaniment for a gentleman; it was a symbol of his status and independence. It was not worn primarily for protection against any kind of common threat. In fact, the Sages acknowledge this fact; their claim is that a weapon is a disgrace and not an ornament because in the future, in Messianic times, weapons will be abolished, as the Prophet tells us, “And they will beat their swords into plowshares” (Yishayahu2).

Rebbe Eliezer acknowledges that in the future weapons will be unnecessary, but as long as they are needed they are a kind of ornament. Furthermore, the Gemara points out that it is far from obvious that weapons will be abolished in Messianic times. According to Shmuel, who states that the only difference between our era and the time of Moshiach is the subjugation of Israel to the nations, even in Messianic times weapons will still exist! They will be abolished only in the more distant “world to come”. Furthermore, Rebbe Eliezer can bring support from a verse in Tehillim (45) which tells us that a sword girded on a man of might is his splendor and glory.

It is important to note that the dispute is not if weapons are necessary or important in the current historical time. The Sages do not dispute this fact, and don’t forbid carrying a weapon on weekdays, or inside the Eruv. The question is if a weapon can be considered an ornament, something that dignifies its wearer. On the one hand, a sword does demonstrate a positive character trait, namely courage. On the other hand, ultimately the sword is used to destroy, and this is certainly not very dignified.

Rav Kook in Ein Ayah gives some profound insights into this complex topic. The basis of his explanation is that an essential part of Hashem’s plan for the world is for human beings to live in harmony, not in monotony. That is, the differences between individuals and even between nations should be preserved and cultivated, not eliminated. But these differences need to coexist in harmony; one trait or nation should not strive to negate or eliminate others.

Weapons thus have an ambiguous significance. Since in the current historical period weapons are used by nations to oppose and dominate others, they are a negative phenomenon. Yet weapons are also used for protection; ultimately weapons are a force that helps preserve diversity. Most people, and nations, are armed for protection rather than aggression, so we may say that the primary use of weapons is to preserve the precious and essential distinctions among nations. We could even view them as a symbol of independence, which dignifies humanity.

Yet ultimately even this use is necessitated only because of man’s violent nature. In the distant future, whether in Messianic times or in the world to come, each nation will know to esteem the unique characteristics of the others. No nation will seek to dominate others; it follows that no nation will feel a need to defend itself against aggressors.

Despite all of the proofs which the Gemara brings to defend the position of Rebbe Eliezer, and despite the fact that the Rambam explicitly adopts the view of Shmuel, the ruling is in accordance with the Sages. From an ethical point of view, Judaism is reconciled to the fact that weapons are a necessary means to safeguard freedom and diversity. But from an aesthetic point of view, the inherent connection of weapons to violence and aggression means that we can never consider them an ornament that dignifies us; ultimately, weapons are an affront to our inner nature.

Rabbi Asher Meir is the author of the book Meaning in Mitzvos, distributed by Feldheim. The book provides insights into the inner meaning of our daily practices, following the order of the 221 chapters of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.

Shona sent me this quote which I loved regarding the USA: A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country. Well, there's a very simple answer. Nobody bothered to check the oil. The reason for that is purely geographical. Our OIL is located in Alaska, California, Coastal Florida, Coastal Louisiana,
North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas. Our dipsticks are located in DC. Michael Dorstewitz

For those who know Halacha this is a landmark decision:,7340,L-3911420,00.html

Italian Jewish anti-fascist passes away in Switzerland:,7340,L-4017502,00.html

Dear Jewish and Brother,

You are confused. There is a lot of emotion, dissatisfaction and grudge involved in your doubts about what it means to be Jewish, much more than plain ignorance because it is your emotions that prevent you from learning. You look onto the nations and see no difference, and therefore no reason why you should set yourself apart – and what's more, suffer for it constant blows because they mark you as the Jew! You wish to be like them, but you can't. Being like the gentiles is a glove that does not fit you!

And so you are confused… and what's more guilt-ridden...

Amending Torah commandments just because some anti-Semite get inflamed by them is giving in and you don't do that because you are honest. You just put the commandments aside, as irrelevant to your being Jewish.

In spite of the fact we lost many Jews to assimilation, you dear Jewish brother, remained Jewish. That Jewishness has endured and overcame all attacks and the drop-outs were on the fringe. When scratched, every Jew will stand by his Jewishness, and even with a not un-certain dose of pride. He might stand on the verge of the cliff but he will never throw himself over. We must see to it that no one will push them over – no Christian missionary, no Karaite, no enlightened democrat and no pacific mystic.

Those about to undermine Judaism know exactly where to hit: our circumcision and our ritual slaughter. The pretext is that both are cruel, inhuman, and primitive. The real reason is that it is Jewish. The argument that animals suffer and that babies are infected for life is simply not true. But truth and reason will not sway a mind that is blinded by his hatred of what separates Jews from non-Jews. Neither does the aversion of the nations for Jewish practices sway Jews to abandon them completely, and their decrees have never prevented Jews from circumcising their babies and slaughtering their animals – both after pronouncing a blessing to the God who commanded us to do so, thereby proclaiming that His commandments are superior to the orders of the nations. (Go to a slaughter house and watch the face of a Kosher slaughtered animal vs. the non-kosher animal and then judge.)

Dear Jew, on your left you have the nations siren-calling you be like them, and on your right you have religious Jews - some of them in antiquated garb and others with superior looks. You do not see yourself for either… you doubt, you rebel, you are insecure, but not for long for every man wants to stand on his own two feet. So you stand up and proclaim: I am who I am - see this picture? That's me! I think what I think - read this post? It's mine! And I do as I please! Whoever does not like me, leave me! - All the while counting how many friends you have on FB.

It's me, it's mine, like and share, are mottos that have become your survival kit in a cruel world and they replaced in your heart the Voice you heard at Sinai where you were stamped "Jew". And now, you carry this stamp like an albatross his wings. What a picture!

What I am saying to you, Dear Jew Is: You are Jewish and not the Gentiles made you so. Find your identity. This is certainly a challenge, but it is not dogmatic, not provocative, and it has no strings attached. I am not telling you to become "religious", because that too has lost its meaning. Judaism, through time and sorrows, has become a mere garment tattered with many rags and holes. But there is a garment that fits you like a glove: the one that makes of Israel the sanctified, wise, strong and holy nation it (potentially) is.

Would you look at yourself in the mirror and say: "I betrayed my people and my God"? If you want to be like the Gentiles, be like them in that: In the same way as they carry their gods on their heads, so too you, carry the Name of the Lord your God on your head, as an exposed proclamation: I am a Jew!!/notes/elisheva-barre/letter-to-a-confused-jewish-brother/197248710290627

Fanatics call MP4 Players trafe and harass store owner:,7340,L-4018990,00.html

Chelle Cordero has been a friend of mine from my College Days she is a paramedic and an author of Romance Novels she wrote a little note which I thought I would share with you. It is advice about a second marriage for everybody and could not have been put better by most Rabbis.

Does being able to love again after losing your mate mean you didn’t love well enough the first time?

I had this discussion once with a friend who said quite simply that she is so happy with her husband that if she ever lost him she couldn’t see not being married, so she probably would look to marry again and hopefully with love.

I was watching a new show the other night and there was a discussion between the two female leads, one who played the step-mother. Now widowed, the step-mother asked the daughter why she always hated her so. The daughter’s reply was “I thought my father loved my mother enough… until I saw him

with you.”

It’s an unfortunate fact that spouses rarely die together which leaves one with the task of living. Sometimes living means having a new relationship. What happens when the people around you, the ones you love like your children, have difficulty accepting that new love? What happens when you have difficulty accepting that love?

My grandmother, she should rest in peace, was married five times. My grandfather, the one she called the love of her life, left her a young widow with three children. I never knew him or the next three. Years after I was already married and a young mother she called me and wanted to talk. She had met a wonderful man that she enjoyed spending time with, but he insisted on getting married. She was afraid she would lose him if she kept saying no.

I told her that she had to decide if he was more important than the “single life” she was enjoying. She decided he was and they were married. Sam and Kay lived several very happy years together and she never regretted her decision. My sister and I, grandchildren through her daughter who was now gone, were thrilled for her and even learned to call Sam “Zeyda” which is Yiddish for grandfather.

Witnessing this beautiful romance from courtship through Zeyda’s eventual passing was a wonderful and uplifting experience. You’re never too old to fall in love – and you never lose the love you hold in your heart.

Inyanay Diyoma

Lebanon is unstable as ever with Hezballah having military drills to take over Beirut now Hariri challenges them:

Iran is not leaving the west with too much of a choice:

You come and you pick a rope Banana Republic daylight come and I want to go home:

Getting rid of other garbage:

The Iranian Navy heading this way:

Muslim terrorists in Moscow:

Mighty Mouse and Mighty Putty could not save the day:

This is dangerous also to Israeli strategy:

Moslems have a slightly declining birth rate but are growing thanks to less other birth rates:,7340,L-4020217,00.html

Now for M. Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos Stories “Miracle Cure” and “Janitor to Rabbi”

Good Shabbos Everyone. Almost every Jew is at least willing to accept upon himself the 10 Commandments, which we read in this week's Torah portion Yisro. However, only if a Jew keeps Shabbos does he keep all 10 of the Commandments. Otherwise, he is only keeping 9 of the 10.
The Holy Chofetz Chayim writes in his introduction to the laws of Shabbos, quoting the Sages, that one who keeps Shabbos is counted as if he has fulfilled all the mitzvahs; while one who does not keep Shabbos is considered as if he has violated the entire Torah and all the mitzvahs.
Why is that so? Because, keeping Shabbos represents a belief that in six days Hashem created the world and on the seventh day, He rested. If Hashem created the world, he is the Boss of the world and we must do what the Boss says. Subjugating our will to the will of Hashem is the foundation of existence as Jews. The following true story illustrates one Jew's dedication to Shabbos, the foundation of belief in Hashem.
Yankel Rosengarten from Yerushalayim, was apprehensive about his trip to America. He had never been there before but now he had no choice.
His school in Jerusalem, part of an orphanage for young girls, needed funds desperately and he had exhausted all other financial options. He had therefore resolved to make the long journey himself.
He would spend the first few days in New York and then move his way westward to the Midwestern cities of Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. He would conclude his fundraising trip with a flight to Los Angeles, where he had a few wealthy supporters who had pledged generously to the orphanage.
As soon as he landed in Detroit he called a certain wealthy man named Reb Berel Gross. Before long, he reached Reb Berel's house. Yankel spoke with Berel for a while, discussing the school's dire financial situation and then sharing some thoughts of Torah learning. Yankel was pleasantly surprised that Berel was a scholarly individual who was well versed in every Torah topic they discussed.
Berel was sympathetic and understanding of the school's needs and wrote out a generous check. Yankel was pleased with the donation but even more satisfied that he would be able to stay with such a fine family for the next few days.
However, one comment caught Yankel off guard. Berel had mentioned something about the standard of kashrus in his home perhaps not being up to Yankel's standards. Yankel was confused. This was a man who was well versed in Torah learning and appeared to be a strictly observant Jew.
Yankel felt he could control himself no longer and asked Berel what the problem could possibly be. "I'm not sure if my Shabbos observance was always what it should have been," Berel answered, while averting Yankel's gaze, but he knew that an explanation was necessary.
Yankel sat back, quite puzzled, and listened closely to every word Berel said. "Many years ago I lived in a small shtetl in Poland. The poverty was extreme and although my parents tried, supporting the family was very difficult. I tried to help out as much as I could but as a young boy of 12, I was limited. Finally my father decided to send me to my uncle who lived in America. There, he figured, things would be better. America was the land where they had 'streets lined with gold.' My father felt that this would be my only chance to break free of my impoverished life.
"The trip by boat took several weeks and finally I arrived. My uncle came to greet me at the dock but his appearance startled me. Instead of the long beard that I had expected to see he sported a trimmed goatee. As a replacement for the long black coat my father wore he dressed in a stylish double-breasted herringbone gray sports jacket.
But perhaps what startled me most was the fact that he walked around with his head uncovered. I tried to hide my shock, though the contrast between what I was expecting to see and the reality was overwhelming. "He quickly used his connections to find me a job and I enjoyed being a carpenter's apprentice. However, when I did not show up for work on Shabbos morning I was immediately fired. This happened for three consecutive weeks.
Each time, my uncle would lecture me on responsibility and each time I would defiantly refuse to go to work. I couldn't believe that my uncle had forsaken his heritage. He entirely dismissed the notion that Shabbos was non-negotiable, rationalizing that during the era of the depression 'making a living' was not something that could be taken for granted. "On my fourth Sunday morning I was warned by my uncle to guarantee my boss that I would show up for work on the following Saturday.
The pressure was so great and I was a lonely 12-year-old with no family other than an uncle who was urging me to give up the most sacred tradition I had known, and so I gave in. When I showed up for work, I told the boss that I would work on Shabbos. "He kept on asking me throughout the week if I would come to work on Saturday and I answered him that I would, sincerely believing that I was in fact prepared to sacrifice the holy Shabbos for the security of my job.
Finally, on Shabbos morning I tearfully left the house with every intention of going to work. Instead of taking the train as I normally had, I walked toward my place of employment, crying the entire time. But as I walked up the steps and stood on the threshold of the shirt factory where I worked, the image of my father flashed before my eyes and I heard him warning me in his soft, loving tone, 'Guard the Shabbos, Berel. Guard the Shabbos.'
Suddenly I stopped. What was I thinking? How could I have even thought of desecrating the holy Shabbos? I turned around and ran as fast as I could, though I had no idea where I was going. I finally reached a park bench and begged Hashem for forgiveness. I knew I could never return to my uncle's house — but I had made a choice about what was dearest to me."
Berel looked up with red eyes at his guest and painfully recalled the event of which he was so ashamed. "I did not work that Shabbos. But every day of the preceding week I had planned to work on Shabbos, to desecrate its holiness. Shabbos isn't one day a week. You have to prepare a whole week for Shabbos and in that respect — I had failed. So if you want to eat in my house, that is your choice."
Yankel stared at his host for a long while, overcome by the holiness of this man who had suffered for so many years not because he actually desecrated the Shabbos, but because he had planned to. He gently embraced his new friend and realized that, aside from the financial benefit of meeting him, he had gained in many more important ways from being in the home of Reb Berel Gross. (Touched by a Story, p. 98 R. Yechiel Spiro)
The Fourth Commandment tells us "Remember the Shabbos Day to keep it Holy." (Shemos 20:8) The Sages teach us that one of the aspects of this mitzvah is preparing for Shabbos both spiritually and physically, throughout the entire work week. Good Shabbos Everyone.

Good Shabbos Everyone. One of the unfortunate victims of the social upheaval of the 1960's was young Moshe Kleinberg (not his real name). Moshe attended the finest yeshivas in Europe.
However, Moshe got caught up in the times and eventually left yeshiva. Once out of yeshiva, young Moshe began to slip in his mitzvah observance. The yarmulke came off, the hair grew long, Shabbos was desecrated... in a short time, Moshe became a totally secular Jew. Moshe had gone off the way of Hashem.
Moshe wandered around Europe searching for meaning. Eventually, Moshe found himself in America. Soon after arriving in America, Moshe ran out of money. He had nothing to eat and he became desperate to get a job to feed himself. One day,
Moshe picked up a newspaper and saw an advertisement which caught his eye. A yeshiva in the area was looking for a janitor. The thought of stepping foot inside a yeshiva again was a little difficult for Moshe. It had been several years since Moshe had left Yiddishkeit. However, at this point he was literally starving, so he would try anything for money. So, a little while later, Moshe walked into the yeshiva of Reb Shlomo Freifeld, of blessed memory and applied for the job of janitor.
Reb Shlomo greeted Moshe warmly and the two sat down together to speak about the position. Reb Shlomo was not surprised by the raggedy appearance which Moshe presented. In those days, all types came to learn at the yeshiva of Reb Shlomo.
However, Reb Shlomo sensed that there was something different about Moshe, he was no ordinary candidate for the job of janitor. Reb Shlomo could see into the soul of Moshe; the light was faint, but it was definitely still burning. Reb Shlomo instinctively began to ask Moshe about his background and schooling. Soon, Reb Shlomo found out what he had suspected from the very beginning: Moshe came from a religious background and had attended the finest yeshivas in Europe.
Reb Shlomo then surprised Moshe by offering the long haired young man a position as Magid Shiur. Moshe was shocked! "Me, a Magid Shiur? I have long hair. I am not religious. I have not learned for so long." Reb Shlomo would not take "no" for an answer.Moshe had learned for several years in yeshiva, surely he was qualified. And besides, Moshe was hungry and needed a job. Moshe agreed to show up a couple of days later to begin giving a shiur in Bava Metzia.
There was little time to prepare for the lesson, so Moshe hurried to begin learning again. Moshe got a hold of a Bava Metzia and began preparing for the lesson.
Moshe thought it would be funny for him to show up for the first day of work without a yarmulke, so, Moshe went out and got a yarmulke. The first day went well enough, the three students asked questions and Moshe seemed to really understand the learning.
Soon after, Moshe approached the Rosh Yeshiva Reb Shlomo and told him that he felt bad that he was not wearing tzitzis. "So get a pair of tzitzis" said Reb Shlomo. Sure enough, Moshe went out and bought a pair of tzitzis and began wearing them all the time. Eventually, Moshe felt ashamed of his long hair and so he got a more appropriate haircut for a Jewish young man. Slowly but surely, Moshe began to take on more and more mitzvahs. Shabbos, tefillin and kosher eating became a part of his life again after so many years of being away from Hashem.
Today, Moshe is a fully observant Jew with a large family with several orthodox grandchildren. Moshe and the world will forever be thankful to Reb Shlomo Freifeld, who gave a young long haired man a second chance.
Reb Shlomo saw a spark in Moshe. The long hair and the messy appearance of Moshe did not fool Reb Shlomo. Reb Shlomo felt that Moshe had potential in his soul. Reb Shlomo was right. (heard from Reb Ephroim Wachsman who heard it from Reb Nosson Deutsch)
The Yaaros Dvash explains that most of the mitzvahs of the Torah are dependent on the mitzvah of loving our fellow Jew. Every Jew should be like a brother in our eyes, for we are all the sons of Avrohom Avinu. Yisroel is one body, with one soul. (Yaaros Dvash, Drush 5, p.115 Even Yisroel Edition)
Hashem wants us to get along and show love for each other. This idea is mentioned in our portion this week Mishpatim, when the Torah uses very strict language to teach us how to treat widows and orphans. Hashem tells us "Do not cause pain to the widow and orphan. If you do cause him pain, when he cries to Me, I will hear his cry. And I will become very angry and I will kill you with a sword, and your wives will be widows and you children will be orphans" (Shemos 22:21-23) Hashem so much wants us to treat others with compassion, that Hashem actually threatens to kill us if we mistreat another Jew!
Therefore, we should train ourselves and our children to look at the potential that lies in every Jewish heart. Every Jew was created in the image of Hashem no matter what his background, no matter what he dresses like, no matter how far off the way he has gone. As the Torah tells us in parshas Bereishis: "Hashem created the man in His image, in the image of Hashem did He create him" (Bereshis1:27) Why does the verse repeat itself? The Torah repeats itself to emphasize that all Jews were created in the image of Hashem. The verse is telling us "Hashem created the man in His image, in the image of Hashem did He create him. Even him! Who looks like he is so far away from Hashem." Let us strive to treat our fellow Jews with love and compassion always. It all starts with saying...
Good Shabbos Everyone.

M. Wolfberg’s stories are sponsored by: Refuah Shleima to Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi.

In memory of my blessed father Felix ben Yitzchak who passed away 23 of Shevat 5729. Have a wonderful Shabbos and pray hard for rain in Israel,

Rachamim Pauli