Thursday, March 31, 2011

Miracles, Parshiyos Tzaria & HaChodesh, Halacha, Stories

A little miracle a film of Moshe Feiglin’s son who was in a Coma for two months and still has rehabilitation to go through:

Another Miracle this last week, was a man named David Amoyal phoned in regarding the suspicious object in Yerushalayim. He was a short distance from the blast he was moderately wounded after bearing the brunt of the sideway explosion he told the people to run away as he was on the phone with the police. The foreign tourist did not understand him and unfortunately died. Not one of the nails from the bomb touched Moshe. He intends to return to work at the kiosk next to the bus stop as soon as he recovers.

Avraham Yehida ben Esther has no more medical treatments planned and is recuperating nicely the PET scan showed him free of the horrible disease. We can remove him from the Tehillim list.

The power of prayer and the concern of a nation caused a miracle to happen. While the practice of Islam has the individual nullified in the over-all picture of the religion and to become a Shahid is their belief. In Judaism from Perkei Avos and The Rambam Hilchos Teshuva we are told that the whole world is based on an individual, Adam. Therefore if one saves a life it is like he saved the whole world and if one repents he tips the scales in favor of the whole world.

Shirley Marda took a few Nurofen pills to deal with headaches or pains that she was having. Since 1969 there were only 3 documented cases of millions of people who were affected by Nurofen. Her liver was going and she needed a transplant pronto, post haste, like day before, etc. No donor in Israel could be found so she was on a plane for France with a doctor and about to take off in critical but stable condition when a donor was found. She was brought back but this time not the distance to Petach Tikva but to Tel HaShomer Hospital.

Overnight the doctors were able to stabilize her condition. The liver was found not to be acceptable to her body but in the meantime her own liver began functioning again. WAKE UP EVERYBODY, THE WOMAN WAS DYING AND ON A PLANE AND THEN THE LIVER RECOVERS ON ITS OWN AS A NATION PRAYERED AND WORRIED ABOUT THE 27 YEAR OLD WOMAN. IF YOU DON’T SEE THE NES (MIRACLE) PLEASE GET YOUR EYES CHECKED QUICKLY AND BRAIN REWIRED.

Yet another miracle for when one does things for the sake of heaven he protects himself and his seed:

From Holly: BREAKING NEWS: Family in Texas massacred in their sleep, bomb hits bus #74 on Conn. Ave. in D.C. injuring dozens and killing at least one; over 50 rockets and missiles continue falling in Fairfax, Virginia. Do I have your attention? Is this completely insane and far-fetched? Then why is it allowed to be commonplace in Israel? if you agree, post this further and let it go around the world a few dozen times if needed.

Parsha Tazria & Parsha HaChodesh

I asked Rabbi Barak Kochavi Shlita the following question and his answer at first went right over my head so I will try to simplify the answer in my words to my understanding.

Question: The Torah is talking about the initiation of 7 days of the Mishkan and the Divine Fire coming down on the 8th day only to be spoiled by the death of the two sons of Aaron. Why does HASHEM break off from telling the narrative and go into the laws of childbirth and Tzaras (Leprosy or a Lashon HaRa caused disease)? Only two Parshiyos later do we return to our narrative.

Answer: There are two ways of understanding Torah. One of logic and belief such as I can see logically that for 7 days Aaron and his sons need preparation for being Cohanim and logical reasons and perhaps psychological reasons for Korbanos for sin, guilt, thanksgiving etc. That is on the level of intelligence and belief. This is why when things are above logic one cannot fully comprehend them. (My wife asked me about Parah Aduma – the Tumay becomes Tahor and the Tahor becomes Tumay – it is not logical. I replied that it is a Chok or legal axiom of the Torah – perhaps I should have gone further into what is Tumay and what is Tahor and that they are also based on axioms.)

The second level of understanding is to completely nullify ones being before G-D as our soul and life come from him. (Ayn ode Bilado – there is nothing besides HIM) In this context the ingredients of the Torah elevate to a level higher than time, place, before, after, sequence, etc. Everything becomes part and parcel of G-D. The thinking of the greatest minds and philosophers are blurred by the bitul (making into nothing) of oneself. This is the level of true faith. For if faith is limited by logic, order, rhyme or rhythm it is not true faith. Since the Torah is the recipe for our existence in the physical universe one must go with the flow of the order in which it was given. Sometimes it makes sense to the average human brain and sometimes it is above human knowledge and logic. For our bodies only catch a small spectrum of light, sound, smell, taste, and even touch.

Certain animals see and hear more than we do. A dog can out smell sensitive robots in detecting explosives. I am sure this extends to taste and some microbes can exist in a nuclear environment and not die and also extreme heat and cold. So man fails at all the five senses.

An alternative thought on the subject: On a simple level it is human nature to block out tragedy like the death of the two sons of Aaron and go on to a more pleasant subject like a woman who gives birth. Therefore the Chumash moves on to the subject of birth this week.

There is one connection between this coming section and our last Parsha. The last Parsha started off on Yom Ha Shemini and Pasuk 3 deals with another but different Yom Ha Shemini. The natural world revolves upon things up to 7 for on the 7th day G-D rested. So the number 8 is above the Teva [nature]. Having a Bris on Yom Ha Shemini elevates the child into the covenant of Avraham. (Note the reason why it is so difficult to overcome our Yishmael enemies is that they too are part of the covenant and monotheistic. – HASHEM has given them wealth in this world for their one Mitzvah all the more so for our 605 more Mitzvos than them in the next.)

12:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If a woman be delivered, and bear a man-child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of the impurity of her sickness shall she be unclean.

The Torah gave a mother of a son compensation to become ritually clean via the Mikvah on the 7th day after childbirth so that she could attend the Bris and serve the food as a hostess. However, there are exceptions such as multi-births with both sexes.

3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 And she shall continue in the blood of purification three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled.

This leaves the woman time to heal.

5 But if she bear a maid-child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her impurity; and she shall continue in the blood of purification threescore and six days.

This is more for the male than the woman. I think it is so because the male is psychologically wishing for a son and turned off by a daughter (not in all cases of course, for there are a percentage of men who don’t care what sex is born after the first son come along). The added separation brings on added yearning for the wife.

6 And when the days of her purification are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtle-dove, for a sin-offering, unto the door of the tent of meeting, unto the priest. 7 And he shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the fountain of her blood.

A person from the middle-class can afford a lamb which costs a few hundred shekels in modern money. However, somebody below the poverty level could not afford this.

This is the law for her that bears, whether a male or a female. 8 And if her means suffice not for a lamb, then she shall take two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons: the one for a burnt-offering, and the other for a sin-offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

A little reminder here: The chapters of the Holy Scriptures were arbitrarily made by a Priest sometimes to prove his belief in Yeshu and sometimes according to what is going on in the Torah. This case is short and sweet about the women giving birth. The Jewish Parsha and first reading on Shabbos does not distinguish and goes on to the Metzora or Nega of what is translated as Leprosy.

13:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying: 2 When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, or a scab, or a bright spot, and it become in the skin of his flesh the plague of leprosy, then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests.

Rabbi Shraga Simmons speaks out on Lashon Hara which causes “Leprosy”.

3 And the priest shall look upon the plague in the skin of the flesh; and if the hair in the plague be turned white and the appearance of the plague be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is the plague of leprosy; and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.

The first step in repairing a problem is to know that something is wrong. The person has been in society listen to or broadcasting Lashon Hara. What does the Torah tell us, send him to the Cohain. The Cohain gives him Mussar and pronounces him Tumay so that he/she must leave the public area and be isolated for a week until the next visit by the Cohain. This allows the person to realize what is the punishment for Lashon Hara and to make Teshuva.

4 And if the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and the appearance thereof be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white, then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days. 5 And the priest shall look on him the seventh day; and, behold, if the plague stay in its appearance, and the plague be not spread in the skin, then the priest shall shut him up seven days more. 6 And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day; and, behold, if the plague be dim, and the plague be not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is a scab; and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean. 7 But if the scab spread abroad in the skin, after that he hath shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall show himself to the priest again. 8 And the priest shall look, and, behold, if the scab be spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is leprosy.

If the isolation and repentance has cured the man/woman, then the person will be cleaned and come back into society but if not the isolation continues longer. One can try all ointments and antibiotics etc. but this is a spiritual disease and until the Teshuva is complete, it will continue.

9 When the plague of leprosy is in a man, then he shall be brought unto the priest. 10 And the priest shall look, and, behold, if there be a white rising in the skin, and it have turned the hair white, and there be quick raw flesh in the rising. …

Just as there are degrees of gossip such as Miriam in private with Aaron talking about her beloved sister-in-law so too there are levels of Nega that comes upon the teller of insulting tales.

28 And if the bright spot stay in its place, and be not spread in the skin, but be dim, it is the rising of the burning, and the priest shall pronounce him clean; for it is the scar of the burning.

29 And when a man or woman hath a plague upon the head or upon the beard, 30 then the priest shall look on the plague; and, behold, if the appearance thereof be deeper than the skin, and there be in it yellow thin hair, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a scall, it is leprosy of the head or of the beard. 31 And if the priest look on the plague of the scall, and, behold, the appearance thereof be not deeper than the skin, and there be no black hair in it, then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague of the scall seven days.

Since there are 14 positive, 3 curses and 17 negative commands (34 of the 613 Mitzvos) related to Lashon Hara, tale bearing, gossip, being a gadabout, etc. it is not surprising that there are 4 types of Negaim.

32 And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the plague; and, behold, if the scall be not spread, and there be in it no yellow hair, and the appearance of the scall be not deeper than the skin, 33 then he shall be shaven, but the scall shall he not shave; and the priest shall shut up him that hath the scall seven days more. … 40 And if a man's hair be fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean. 41 And if his hair be fallen off from the front part of his head, he is forehead-bald; yet is he clean. 42 But if there be in the bald head, or the bald forehead, a reddish-white plague, it is leprosy breaking out in his bald head, or his bald forehead. 43 Then the priest shall look upon him; and, behold, if the rising of the plague be reddish-white in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, as the appearance of leprosy in the skin of the flesh, 44 he is a leprous man, he is unclean; the priest shall surely pronounce him unclean: his plague is in his head. 45 And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and the hair of his head shall go loose, and he shall cover his upper lip, and shall cry: 'Unclean, unclean.'

Now he is unclean and crying out words against him/herself.

The plague of leprosy can effect a garment or house as one has talked about somebody’s clothing or living quarters so that he or she will be punished in kind.

46 All the days wherein the plague is in him he shall be unclean; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his dwelling be. 47 And when the plague of leprosy is in a garment, whether it be a woolen garment, or a linen garment; 48 or in the warp, or in the woof, whether they be of linen, or of wool; or in a skin, or in any thing made of skin. 49 If the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin, or in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin, it is the plague of leprosy, and shall be shown unto the priest. 50 And the priest shall look upon the plague, and shut up that which hath the plague seven days. 51 And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague be spread in the garment, or in the warp, or in the woof, or in the skin, whatever service skin is used for, the plague is a malignant leprosy: it is unclean. 52 And he shall burn the garment, or the warp, or the woof, whether it be of wool or of linen, or anything of skin, wherein the plague is; for it is a malignant leprosy; it shall be burnt in the fire. 53 And if the priest shall look, and, behold, the plague be not spread in the garment, or in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; 54 then the priest shall command that they wash the thing wherein the plague is, and he shall shut it up seven days more. 55 And the priest shall look, after that the plague is washed; and, behold, if the plague have not changed its color, and the plague be not spread, it is unclean; thou shalt burn it in the fire; it is a fret, whether the bareness be within or without. 56 And if the priest look, and, behold, the plague be dim after the washing thereof, then he shall rend it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof. 57 And if it appears still in the garment, or in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin, it is breaking out, thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is with fire. 58 And the garment, or the warp, or the woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean. 59 This is the law of the plague of leprosy in a garment of wool or linen, or in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin, to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean.

When the Torah ends a Sedra with the words ritually impure it is a most strong warning unto us. Those who understand will understand and in short regarding the Satan’s hook, “Even a fish would not get into trouble if he kept his big mouth shut.”

Halachos from Danny Shoemann

The intermediary days of Pessach and Sukkot are known as Chol HaMoed. Some types of work are permitted, others are forbidden. Chazal (our Rabbis of blessed memory) have some harsh words for those who don't honor Chol HaMoed properly. Honoring Chol HaMoed includes eating meals and wearing clothes that are closer to Yom Tov standards than regular weekday standards. On Chol HaMoed one may do all work needed to prevent a monetary loss. Preparing food for other days of Chol HaMoed or for the last days of Yom Tov is allowed. Gardening is forbidden besides for picking fruit for Chol HaMoed or Yom Tov, and to prevent plants dying, e.g. if they need to be irrigated. Planting is forbidden. Cutting hair is forbidden on Chol HaMoed. Cutting nails is only allowed if one also cut them before Yom Tov. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 104.

The intermediary days of Pessach and Sukkot are known as Chol HaMoed. Some types of work are permitted, others are forbidden. Writing is only allowed in cases of need:

- Writing down information so that it won't be forgotten is allowed.
- Writing letters to friends and family is allowed.
The custom is to write the first line at an angle as a reminder that writing is only partially permitted.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 104.
Based on the writing letters to friends and family it appears that writing on the internet would be permitted as it is for enjoyment. For one is supposed to be extra happy on Yom Tov and Chol HaMoed.

At the Seder one reads the entire Haggada. However, there's no Mitzva per se, to read the Haggada. There's a Mitzva in the Torah to tell one's children the story of the Exodus from Egypt in Question-Answer format on Seder night. The Haggada gives a framework so that one covers all required parts of the story, which is why it's important to understand and explain all those parts of the Haggada that recount the slavery, 10 plagues and deliverance, in a language that all participants understand.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 119:4
more details later

On Seder night there's a Mitzva in the Torah to eat a piece of Korban Pessach on Matza with Marror (bitter herbs). Until the Bet HaMikdash (temple) is rebuilt we only have the Matza and Marror. The minimum Torah requirement is to eat a Kezayis (an olive's worth) of Matza, which is approximately one-third of a square machine-Matza. At a typical Seder it's customary to eat 2 Kezeitim for Motzei-Matza, a 3rd for the Hillel-sandwich and a fourth for the Afikomen. On Seder night there's also a Rabbinic requirement to drink 4 cups of wine. All the above - besides for the Marror - must be eaten while leaning on ones left side.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 119:4, 5, 7
more details later
May we merit to eat the Korban Pessach soon, in our lifetime.

This Shabbos we take out 2 Sifrei Torah. In the first we will read weekly Parsha of Tazria, in the second we will read Parshas HaChodesh (Exodus Ch. 12, Verses 1-20). Parshas HaChodesh reminds us of the following upcoming Mitzvos:
- The month of Nissan (which begins on Tuesday) is the first month on the Jewish calendar, as the opening words of Parshas HaChodesh proclaim: "This month is for you the first month".
- The laws of Korban Pessach; sacrificed on Erev Pessach in the afternoon; it has to be roasted whole and then eaten on the first night of Pessach with Matza and Marror (bitter herbs).
- Korban Pessach leftovers have to be burnt on the first day of Chol HaMoed.
- Matza needs to be made carefully to ensure it doesn't become Chametz (leaven).
- The first and last days of Pessach are Yom Tov.
- One may not own Chometz, nor eat it, during Pessach.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 140:2 Shabbat Shalom uMevorach - Danny

Halachos of Pessach Part 2

These and other Halachos can be found on the website of the Torah Organization (Project Genesis)

Chapter 111:1
The Search and Nullification of Chametz

1. One should search for "Chametz" (1) on the night before Erev Pesach (that is, the night of the 14th of Nissan) (2). We are obligated to conduct the search at the beginning of the night (3). One should not eat (4), nor perform any work, from a half hour before nightfall onward [until he finishes the search].


(1) "Chametz results when one of the five species of grain - wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt, or one of their derivatives - is allowed to remain undisturbed in contact with water for 18 minutes or more. Chametz results instantly when these grains are exposed to hot or salted water." ("Laws of Pesach" by Rabbi Blumenkrantz Z”L). Foods like bread, cake, cereals, noodles, whiskey and beer are Chametz.

(2) Based on a verse in the Torah (Exodus 12:15), on the morning of the 14th of Nissan, before Midday, there is a mitzvah to mentally view all Chametz in one's possession as owner-less ("Hefker") and as useless as dirt. This activity is called "Hashbasah" (or "Bitul") and if done correctly, with full mental commitment, will prevent one from violating the prohibition to possess Chametz on Pesach (we articulate this mental commitment verbally). However, the Sages were concerned that not everyone would be able to perform the "bitul" with full mental commitment, and therefore, they ruled that in addition to mental bitul, we are all obligated to search ("bedikah") for the Chametz in our possession, and to dispose ("biur") of what we find (Mishna Berura 431:2). As we shall see in Chapter 14, one can sell his Chametz to a Gentile before Pesach.

(3) Immediately after the appearance of three stars (Mishna Berura 431:1).

(4) A small snack is permitted (Ibid 431:6).

Chapter 111:2
The Search and Nullification of Chametz

2. [When searching for Chametz on the night of the fourteenth] one should use only a single-wick beeswax candle for the search (1). One should not use a braided candle, because it is considered like a torch ("avukah") (2). In a pressing situation, when there is no beeswax candle available, one may use a tallow ("Chelev") candle (3).


(1) The sages of the Talmud enacted that a candle should be used for the search, because daylight is insufficient for searching in holes and crevices. Nowadays, a flashlight may be used, however, in order not to deviate from the traditional custom, many begin the search with a candle and then use the flashlight for places where the candle would be inadequate or dangerous ("Halachos of Pesach" by Rav Shimon Eider VII D7).

(2) A torch is too large to be brought into holes and crevices. Alternatively, the light produced by a multi-wick candle is not conducive for this type of search. If one conducted the search using only a multi- wick candle, the search is invalid and must be conducted again (See Pessachim 8 and Mishna Berura 433:8 and 10).

(3) When other types of candles are available, one is not permitted to use a tallow candle because people would be concerned that the fat would drip on the dishes and render them non-kosher. Consequently, one would not search properly in cabinets containing dishes (Mishna Berura 433:9)

Chapter 118:1
Preparations for the Seder

1. One should do one's best to obtain choice wine for the mitzvah of drinking four cups of wine [during the Passover Seder] (1). If red wine is available that is of the same quality and level of kashrut (2), as the available white wine, then the red wine is preferred for the mitzvah; this is because the verse states: "Look not after wine, when it is red" (Proverbs 23:31), which implies that red wine is considered more significant (3). In addition, [red wine] reminds us of the blood of the Jewish children Pharaoh slaughtered (4).

In countries where the ignorant population foolishly invent slanderous accusations, the Jews refrain from using red wine for the Passover Seder.


(1) It is a mitzvah on the night of Passover to act and feel as if you, yourself, were just freed from slavery in Egypt. The Sages established the mitzvah of drinking four cups of wine during the Seder, as an outward expression of this newfound freedom (Rambam, 'Yad', Chametz U'Matzah 7:7). Even if drinking four cups of wine will cause someone slight discomfort, such as a mild headache, one is still obligated to do so. One may dilute the wine with grape juice or water (preferably grape juice), but one should try to do it in a way that the alcoholic taste of the wine remains. Also, when diluting with water, one must be careful to use the ratio required to retain the blessing of "Borei Pri HaGefen" (more than one part wine to six parts water; the fact that some modern wines are already diluted must be taken into account). One is not obligated to do anything that will cause him to become bedridden. Therefore, if one is unable to drink any wine (or can only drink a small amount), one may fulfill the mitzvah of the four cups using just grape juice. If one is allergic to grape juice, one may fulfill the obligation by drinking four cups of "Chamar Medina" ("beverage of the country"), which is generally defined as a drink one would serve to a guest even when he is not thirsty, such as alcoholic beverages (make sure they are not Chametz), tea, and coffee ("Halachos of Pesach" by Rabbi Shimon Eider Z”L, Vol II, pg 220-225; for further details, ask your local orthodox rabbi).

(2) That is, the kashrut supervision of the wine is just as reliable.

(3) Tokay wine is considered red for this mitzvah ( "Halachos of Pesach" by Rabbi Shimon Eider, Vol II, pg 220-225).

(4) According the Midrash, Pharaoh developed "Tzaras" ( a specific skin disease mentioned in the Torah), and would slaughter Jewish babies and bathe in their blood as a remedy.

Chapter 118:2
Preparations for the Seder

2. For the first dipping [at the Seder] (1), which is called "Karpas", many people use parsley. It is preferable to use celery, which also tastes good when eaten raw. The choicest vegetable to use is a radish (2). My mother used Parsley but I use small pieces of both celery and radish and distribute them to the family. For the younger grandchildren my wife makes potatoes.


(1) The Sages instituted this dipping of a vegetable in salt water before the meal begins (that is, before eating the Matza), something that is not done on other nights of the year, in order to stimulate the children's curiosity and draw them into asking why this night is different from all other nights there are many customs such as the head of the Seder rising and taking on his shoulders the larger half of the second Matza as a burden for the Afikomen and hiding this. There is also a custom of distributing nuts for the children to play with - "Ma Nishtana Halaila HaZeh..." Asking the "Four Questions" during the Seder is not supposed to be a ritual formality; rather, there is an obligation to do things that will stimulate actual curiosity and questioning, because answers do not make a difference to people who don't have questions (See Rambam, Yad, Chametz U'Matzah 7:3).

(2) The species called "Karpas" includes both celery and parsley; one of the reasons this species was originally chosen for this dipping, is because if we reverse the Hebrew letters of the word "karmas," we get the letter "Samech," which has a numerical value of sixty, alluding to the sixty myriad (60 times 10,000) of Jewish males above 20 years old who left Egypt, and the word "Perech" (lit: "break-apart") which alludes to the "back-breaking" labor. We dip it in salt water to allude to the fact that the Jews walked through the split Red Sea in order to escape the Egyptian army. The salt water also alludes to the tears and sweat of the bondage.

Since this pre-meal dipping was instituted primarily to arouse the curiosity of the children, one may use any vegetable not included in the family of bitter herbs, that requires a blessing of "Bore Pri HaAdamah," and that is used as an appetizer. The potato was introduced in some countries where there were no other affordable vegetables; those whose ancestors used a potato for "Karpas," continue to do so at present. As my wife does.

Chapter 118:3
Preparations for the Seder

3. For "Marror" ("bitter herbs") (1), it is customary to use horseradish ("Tamcha") (2). Since it is very strong, one may grate it, however, one should be careful that it does not completely lose its strength. [For this reason,] one should grate it when one returns from the synagogue [after the evening service]. (See Chapter 98, Law 3, which states that one should grate it in an abnormal manner). [When Pesach falls] on Shabbos, and thus, it is forbidden to grate it [after nightfall], one should grate it during the day and cover it until the evening (3). A small amount of vinegar is used in some cases for preserving the strength of the horseradish. Some people will not use vinegar at all during Pessach because in Hebrew it is called Chometz or Chumetz and sounds like Chametz.

It is, however, preferable to use "chazeret" ("romaine lettuce"), which is also called "chasah," because it is easy to eat, and can be defined as "Marror" ("bitter herbs"), because when it is left in the ground for a long time, its stem becomes bitter (4). One may also fulfill one's obligation with "la'ana," which is called wormwood. ([One may also use] endives (5) ("Alushin") or date ivy ("charchavinah"). These, however, are uncommon in our lands (Hungary in the late 19thC).

All the [five species mentioned above which] may be used to fulfill one's obligation of "Marror," may be combined [to make up] the size of an olive ("Kezayis") [that one is obligated to eat at the Seder]. One may fulfill one's obligation by eating either the leaves or the stem [of these vegetables]. The obligation cannot be fulfilled by eating their roots.

The exclusion of the roots applies to the small roots that branch off in either direction, [but not to] the main root, from which the leaves grow. Although it grows within the ground, it is considered part of the stem. Nevertheless, if possible, it is preferable to use the leaves and the portion of the stem that protrudes from the ground, because some authorities maintain that any portion that grows in the ground is considered a root.

A person can fulfill his obligation with leaves only when they are fresh. In contrast, one may fulfill his obligation with stems whether they are dry or fresh, but one may not use them (or leaves) if they are cooked or pickled.

Chapter 118:3
Preparations for the Seder

3. For "Marror" ("bitter herbs") (1), it is customary to use horseradish ("Tamcha") (2). Since it is very strong, one may grate it, however, one should be careful that it does not completely lose its strength. [For this reason,] one should grate it when one returns from the synagogue [after the evening service]. (See Chapter 98, Law 3, which states that one should grate it in an abnormal manner). [When Pesach falls] on Shabbos, and thus, it is forbidden to grate it [after nightfall], one should grate it during the day and cover it until the evening (3). For those who will not use vinegar, in this case I would suggest lemon as all the sharpness will completely disappear but not the bitterness. However, many people enjoy the sharp taste.

It is, however, preferable to use "chazeret" ("romaine lettuce"), which is also called "chasah," because it is easy to eat, and can be defined as "mirror" ("bitter herbs"), because when it is left in the ground for a long time, its stem becomes bitter (4). One may also fulfill one's obligation with "la'ana," which is called wormwood. ([One may also use] endives (5) ("Alushin") or date ivy ("charchavinah"). These, however, are uncommon in our lands (Hungary in the late 19thC).

All the [five species mentioned above which] may be used to fulfill one's obligation of "Marror," may be combined [to make up] the size of an olive ("Kezayis") [that one is obligated to eat at the Seder]. One may fulfill one's obligation by eating either the leaves or the stem [of these vegetables]. The obligation cannot be fulfilled by eating their roots.

The exclusion of the roots applies to the small roots that branch off in either direction, [but not to] the main root, from which the leaves grow. Although it grows within the ground, it is considered part of the stem. Nevertheless, if possible, it is preferable to use the leaves and the portion of the stem that protrudes from the ground, because some authorities maintain that any portion that grows in the ground is considered a root.

A person can fulfill his obligation with leaves only when they are fresh. In contrast, one may fulfill his obligation with stems whether they are dry or fresh, but one may not use them (or leaves) if they are cooked or pickled.


(1) Exodus 12:8 states: "...and they must eat [the meat of the Pesach sacrifice] along with Matza and bitter herbs." Although nowadays, without a Temple in Jerusalem, there is no Pesach sacrifice, the Sages instituted the eating of bitter herbs at the Pesach Seder as an allusion to the fact that the Egyptians embittered the life of our forefathers in Egypt.

(2) The Mishna lists 5 species of plants with which one can fulfill the obligation of bitter herbs on Pesach: a) Chazeret (Romaine lettuce) b) Alushin (endives or escarole) c) Tamcha (horseradish) d) Charchavinah e) Marror (many authorities feel that these last two species are no longer known to us through tradition).

(3) So that it doesn't lose its strength.

(4) According to the Jerusalem Talmud, the development of the species "chazeret" parallels the development of the bondage in Egypt. Just as the "chazeret" is at first sweet, but then becomes bitter after being left in the ground for a long time, so too the Jews in Egypt were at first treated royally and lived luxuriously, and then gradually descended into slavery.

Also, the other name for "chazeret" is "chasah," which means "mercy" and alludes to the fact that Hashem had mercy on the Jews and saved them from the bondage. Actually, the word, "Pesach," which some say comes from the root which means " to pass over," is translated in Targum Unkelus (Onkelos or Achilles) as "Eichos," which comes from the root meaning "mercy" or "love" (See Targum on Exodus 12:13 and Rashi). It would have been interesting had this second meaning been accepted as the primary one - we would then be celebrating the festival of "Love" rather than "Passover."

Although many authorities use the word "salatim" to refer to "chazeret", which could include all kinds of lettuce (crisp-head and iceberg lettuce), nevertheless, the common practice is to use Romaine lettuce. Whatever lettuce one uses, it must be checked thoroughly for bugs before using it.

The reason is was customary in many communities to use horseradish was either because lettuce was hard to find, or because it was hard to check it for bugs.

(5) The endives sold in the U.S are apparently not the true endive or escarole, but rather what is known as French (Witloof) or Belgium endive, which are grown on the chicory root. Since there is a question as to whether or not our endives are included in the species called "alushin" listed in the Mishna, it is recommended that they not be used for the mitzvah of Marror ("Laws of Pesach" by Rav Avraham Blumenkrantz).

Chapter 118:4
Preparations for the Seder

4. The "Charoses" must be thick to commemorate the mortar [used by our ancestors in Egypt]. Before one dips the Marror into it, one should pour wine or vinegar into it so that it will be soft and serve as a reminder of the blood [of the Jewish children slain by the Egyptians]. This also facilitates the use of [the Charoses] as a dip.

The "Charoses" should be made from fruits that were used as metaphors for the Jewish people, for example, figs, as [the Song of Songs 2:13] states: "The fig tree has blossomed forth with tiny figs"; nuts, as [ibid. 6:11] states: "I descended into the nut garden"; dates, as [ibid. 7:9] states: "I will climb up the date palm"; pomegranates, as [ibid. 6:7] states: "As a split-open pomegranate..." All this is well and good in theory. In Israel for the past few years the figs have come from Turkey. Due to the consumer boycott many people refuse to use Turkish Products and Pomegranates are unavailable during this season so unless one froze some around Rosh Hashanah they never get into the Charoses.

Apples should also be used as an allusion to [ibid. 8:5]: "I aroused you beneath the apple tree," for [in Egypt, the Jewish] women would give birth to their children in such places without the natural birth pains. Similarly, almonds should be used [because the Hebrew for almond, "shakeid”, comes from the root meaning "to diligently apply oneself]. G-d "diligently applied Himself" to bringing the end [of the exile].

It is also proper to include spices that resemble straw, for example, cinnamon and ginger. They cannot be ground thoroughly and have strands that resemble straw. This commemorates the straw [the Jews were forced] to mix into the mortar.

On Shabbos, one should not pour wine or vinegar directly into the Charoses (1). Rather, one is required to do this in an abnormal manner - for example, one should pour the wine [into a dish and] place the Charoses in it. (With modern refrigeration, one prepares everything before Shabbos even if Yom Tov is Motzei Shabbos)

(Even when Pesach falls during the week,) it is proper to prepare the salt water [in which the Karpas is dipped] before the commencement of Yom Tov. [If this was not done and one is required] to prepare the mixture on Yom Tov itself, one must do so in an abnormal manner, for example, one should pour the water [into a dish] first, then add the salt (2).


(1) When Yom Tov does not fall on Shabbos, the Charoses should ideally be prepared before Yom Tov begins, but if one forgot, one may prepare it on Yom Tov itself (Mishna Berura 473:47).

(2) Misgeres HaShulchon (4) states that if Yom Tov falls during the week, there is no necessity to prepare the salt water beforehand. The Seder Table should be prepared prior to one coming home from the Synagogue so as not to cause the family to wait.

Chapter 118:5
Preparations for the Seder

5. After the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) was destroyed (70 CE), the Sages ordained that two cooked foods should be placed on the table while the Haggada is being recited, one to commemorate the "Korban Pesach" (1) and one to commemorate the "Korban Chaggigah" (2), which were offered [on Pesach] when the Beit HaMikdash was standing.

It is customary that one of these cooked dishes be meat. Generally, the foreleg ("zeroa" - commonly referred to as the "shank bone" (3)) of an animal is used, as an allusion to the outstretched ARM ("zeroa netuyah") with which G-d redeemed the Jewish people. It should be roasted directly over coals (or fire) to commemorate the Korban Pesach, which had to be "roasted by fire" (Exodus 12:9).

The second dish should be an egg, because the Aramaic term for egg is "be'ah", which also means to "want" or "desire." [Thus, the combination of the egg and the zeroa can be interpreted to mean]: "The Merciful One DESIRED to redeem us with an outstretched ARM." The egg may be cooked or roasted (4).

Both [the egg and the zeroa] should be cooked or roasted before the commencement of Yom Tov. If one forgot, or the fourteenth of Nissan fell on Shabbos, one may roast or cook them at night (after Yom Tov has begun) (5). One must, however, eat them on the first day of the festival. Similarly, on the second [Seder] night, one should roast or cook them at night, but one must eat them on the second day of the festival.

[The rationale for having to eat it on the same day (6) is that] it is forbidden to cook on one day of a festival in order to eat the food on the second day or on a weekday. The zeroa should be eaten during the day only, since it is forbidden to eat roasted meat on the [first] two nights [of Pesach] (7). Nevertheless, even if the zeroa and the egg were roasted before Yom Tov began, they should not be discarded afterwards. Rather, they should be placed in a dish that is cooked on the second day of Yom Tov, and eaten then.


(1) On the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan, the Pesach sacrifice, owned and prepared by each family or group of Jews, was offered in the Beit HaMikdash, and its meat was eaten that night, the first night of Pesach, at the Seder, along with Matza and Marror.

(2) There was a Biblical obligation for every male to appear in the Beit HaMikdash on the first day of each of the three "Regalim" ("pilgrim festivals" - Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos), and to bring a peace offering ("Korban Shelamim") called a "Korban Chaggigah." On the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan, it was customary to offer a Korban Shelamim along with the Korban Pesach, and to eat the meat that night at the Seder. This Korban Shelamim, offered on the 14th of Nissan, was called the "Chaggigas Arabah Asar."

(3) If one uses a bone, it should have some meat on it.

(4) The egg is a mourner's food. Therefore, another reason the egg is used, is as an expression of mourning over the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, and our subsequent inability to offer the Korban Pesach. Also, Tisha B'Av (the day we mourn over the loss of the Beit Hamikdash) always occurs on the same day of the week as the first night of Pesach (Ramah 476:2).

(5) Cooking is permissible on Yom Tov.

(6) The Jewish "day" is from sunset to sunset.

(7) The reason for this custom, is so that one should not assume, in error, that he is eating the meat of the Korban Pesach. The custom includes not eating meat or poultry (or anything that requires ritual slaughter), whether roasted, barbecued or broiled over an open fire. Most authorities also prohibit eating pot roast (meat roasted in a pot without water). Meat which was roasted and then cooked is permissible (See Halachos of Pesach by Rav Shimon Eider, Chapt 24: K3).

Why did Mary Jean Gardner die like a Jew on a Kiddush HASHEM?

In the terrorist attack a tourists named Mary Jean was killed by the bomb. It is not the first time a non-Jew has died in a terrorist attack. So what brings a non-Jew into dying on a Kiddush HASHEM? What drove her inner being to learn ancient Hebrew? The answer is reincarnation. There are different reasons why a soul is brought back into this world. Sometimes a soul elevates based on actions in a past life and sometimes retrogrades. Such a retrograde can be in the form of an inanimate object like a rock people sit on until such a time that enough humans enjoy it for it to rise again to a plant such as a fruit tree. Higher the soul can become an animal. However, there are certain souls that become non-Jews of Bnei Noach simply because they were good people but brushed off the Mitzvos and therefore they have to elevate themselves.

Such a soul as a Goy or Goya can raise themselves into a lover of G-D and his commandments even if they are the 7 Mitzvos of Bnei Noach. The soul then has made a Tikun that it can become again a Tzaddik and enter the spiritual Gan Eden but to do so would mean that it enters on a Kiddush HASHEM. Therefore, such a soul will physically travel to Yerushalayim and be at the bus stop at the time that the bomb will kill it.

Other reincarnation notes: it is possible that the soul in the past life was a Tzaddik but looked into other people’s business and was a gadabout spreading Lashon Hara. Such a case happened in the days of the Chofetz Chaim and a baby was born similar to Helen Keller; deaf, dumb and blind. The parents wanted to know what their sins were that such a child was born unto them. Rather than tell them that they had sinned he told that up in heaven it was decreed that the soul of the Tzaddik had to reincarnate. The Tzaddik then offered to trade all his/her Mitzvos from the past life to be born deaf, dumb and blind. The Beis Din shel Maalah accepted the request and everybody in heaven was happy but in this world everybody was sad. The same goes for Autistic Children and those with Down Syndrome.

Baseball to Boston (or the Rebbe’s homerun)

The Bostoner Rebbe reports a childhood experience: Not having the vaguest idea what was baseball, I decided to just watch from the sidelines. But the teams were one man short, so soon I was surrounded by eager classmates.

Connection: none???

Baseball to Boston

The Bostoner Rebbe of blessed memory was quoted on a childhood experience from the 1930's:

Towards the end of our first year at Mesivta (yeshiva high school) Torah Vadaat, Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz (the founder, in 1926), invited our class to go to Camp Mesivta, a yeshiva-oriented summer camp he had started in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. This was a radically new idea in those days, and most of us had no idea what the experience entailed. The camp had actually opened on a smaller scale one or two years before, but ours was the first year of a full-scale, fully organized operation.

Unlike some modern American camps, Camp Mesivta usually had comparatively little time for sports. There were, however, some notable exceptions, one of which was particularly memorable for me.

One day the administration announced, "Today we are going to play baseball." Not having the vaguest idea what this was all about, I decided to just watch quietly from the sidelines. Unfortunately the teams were exactly one man short; and soon I was surrounded by eager classmates.

"Come on, we need you."

"But I don't know how to play."

"Don't worry, you'll learn fast."

I soon found myself in the outfield waiting for a ball to catch. It occurred to me, however, that once hit, baseballs travel at great velocity, are quite hard, and could cause considerable pain to a young, inexperienced yeshiva student without a mitt. So my first and only baseball game passed more in a state of high anxiety than fun.
I couldn't help but wonder, "What did I need this for?"

Later I found out.

Thirteen or so years passed and we were spending the summer in Nantasker, a beach resort near Boston. One day the non-religious son-in-law of a Chasid of ours offered me a ride into town. I hadn't really spoken to him before, and my attempts at conversation during the ride were painful failures. We simply had nothing in common to talk about. Finally I gave up trying to reach him and our non-conversation lapsed into complete silence. Then he turned on his car radio to listen to…the Sunday baseball game.

A few minutes went by and then I commented on a play. His mouth dropped open. It was as if the steering wheel had suddenly started speaking. He couldn't believe that a Chasidic rabbi in full Chasidic garb could know anything about baseball. So we talked baseball most of the way to Boston, and soon began to talk about other subjects as well. He started coming by, became religious and eventually became a Chasid of ours.

In fact, he later became an important local Jewish leader, both within our own New England Chasidic Center and within the broader Boston Jewish community. Then I understood how one can retrieve stray souls even with baseball: A home run can become a run home.

Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from "And the Angels Laughed: Biography of the Bostoner Rebbe"[Mesorah].

Biographical note:
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, the Bostoner Rebbe (1921 - 18 Kislev 2009), a direct descendent of Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke of Nicholsburg, led two communities: in Boston and in the Har Nof district of Jerusalem. He was known for the vast help he has extended to people in medical emergency situations, and his open, friendly nature made him beloved to Jews of every type.

The fifth of Nissan is a week from Shabbat, so you can save this story for then too. However, the reason I chose it because Sunday this week was the yahrzeit of Rabbi Zevin, one of the most important rabbinical figures of the 20th century, and this story, from his collection, includes a deeply personal note. – Y. Tilles

It was in Mezhibuzh, on the night of the 5th of Nissan, ten days before Passover, 1829, that Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, the Ohev Yisrael of Apta, departed this world. On the very same night, in the holy city of Tiberias on the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee, Israel), people heard a knocking on the windows of Kollel Vohlin, one of the organizations responsible for the fair distribution of funds in support of the struggling religious Jews from Europe in the Land of Israel. Inside was the caretaker, alone, the one who held the keys to the gates of the cemetery. The voice from outside said: "Go outside and follow the bier of the Rabbi of Apta!"

He ventured outside and was chilled by terror, for the bier was being followed by a grim retinue of myriad human forms from the Other World. One of these followers intimated to him that this was the funeral procession of the Tzaddik (righteous one) of Apta; he had died in Mezhibuzh, and angels from Above had borne his coffin here for entombment in the soil of the Holy Land.

The beadle repeated his story in the morning. People refused to believe him, until on the suggestion of an elderly sage they went together to the cemetery, and there they found a newly-covered grave.

Letters from Apta later confirmed that the Tzaddik had indeed passed away on that very day. Before his passing he had cried out to heaven in bitter protest over the length of the exile. Why was the Moshiach tarrying so long? And in his heartache he had wept and said: "Before Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev left This World he promised that he would not rest, nor allow the Tzaddikim in the World of Truth to rest, until their insistent pleas would bring about the Messianic Redemption. But when he arrived there, the saintly souls in the Garden of Eden found spiritual delight in his company, and ascended with him to the palaces of supernal bliss - until he forgot his own promise. But I will not forget!"***

* * *
When Reb Chaim Eleazar of Munkatsch visited the holy sites in The Land in 1930, he asked about among the oldest citizens of Tiberias as to whether any of them knew where the Apter Rebbe was buried. They led him to a certain stone slab in the old cemetery which their hoary elders, who were now in the World of Truth, had shown them - the place where the Ohev Yisrael had been brought to rest.

[Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (Artscroll), as translated by our esteemed colleague Uri Kaploun from Sipurei Chasidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin.]

Connection: This week (21 Adar) fell the 33rd yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin, founder and first editor of the ongoing Encyclopedia Talmudit project, and author of many significant and popular works on Jewish Law, who somehow also managed to find the time and care to pen a multi-volume set of traditional Chasidic stories, upon which the above version is based.

Original note from Rav Zevin attached to this story:
***When it was granted me some [twenty plus] years ago [1934] to leave the Vale of Tears which was known as the USSR on my way to settle in the Land of Israel, and I had to visit Moscow in order to arrange the formalities, my fellow Chassidim there arranged a farewell gathering. On that occasion, on the eve of my departure, they told me the above story, and then added the following words: "We do not have to tell you, rabbi, that here in this wretched exile we live a life of torment and anguish. We are supported only by the hope that our Father will one day deliver us too out of this dungeon. And bring us to the Holy Land. But all our friends from here who were fortunate enough to go there, and who promised that from the moment they arrived they would never rest until they found some way of getting us out of here -- when they arrived, they same happened to them as happened to Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev in the World Above: they savored the spiritual delights of the palaces of bliss, and forgot us completely. But on you, our friend, we rely. You will not forget us!"
By reason of my imperfections, no doubt, the hope they placed in me bore no fruit. They probably assumed that I too spent my years in the Holy Land disporting myself in the quest of spiritual or other delights…My heart bleeds for them.

Biographic note:
Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel (1755- 5 Nissan 1825) the Apter Rebbe, was a main disciple of the Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhinsk. He is also often referred to as "the Ohev Yisrael," both after the title of the famous book of his teachings, and also because its meaning ("Lover of Jews") fits him so aptly. The story and the picture of Rabbi Zevin can be found on:

From Lenny a book the Israeli Left never touches is required in Korea:

A happy ending from Bergen Belsen as seen on TV a 7 minute film thanks to Harry H.

Nancy and Howard Kleinberg

Judenrat who deported Jews

George Soros was thirteen years old in March 1944 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary. Soros worked for the Jewish Council, which had been established during the Nazi occupation of Hungary to forcibly carry out Nazi and Hungarian government anti-Jewish measures. Soros later described this time to writer Michael Lewis:

The Jewish Council asked the little kids to hand out the deportation notices. I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper...It said report to the rabbi seminary at 9 am...And I was given this list of names. I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. This was a list of Hungarian Jewish lawyers. He said, "You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported."

In 1944, at age 14, Soros lived with and posed as the godson of an employee of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. On one occasion, the official was ordered to inventory the remaining contents of the estate of a wealthy Jewish family that had fled the country. Rather than leave the young George alone in the city, the official brought him along. The following year, Soros survived the Battle of Budapest, in which Soviet and German forces fought house-to-house through the city. – Know your Kapo and what they did to stay alive by betraying their people. (They could also have joined the underground) from the Wikipedia and also see:

Take it or leave it the spiritual cause and effect for a Tsunami:,7340,L-4050133,00.html

Inyanay Diyoma

From Seth – Iranian missiles that can destroy ships:

From William E. – Tamar Fogel speaks out on the Murders of her parents and siblings:

Allen West speaks up about Libya and Israel:

This man scammed Jews for tens of thousands of dollars:


From E. Winston:

I personally found out over the course of the years that while the new “energy saving bulbs last longer and burn less energy, they don’t last super long” I am wondering if they are worth it. Inside the bulb is deadly mercury that can enter our water system. They are darn expensive especially in Israel. They would have to outlast 10 regular bulbs and save a few thousand kilowatts to justify their outlay – but do they?

Still you don’t believe in reincarnation?

Who wrote Obama’s “Dreams of my father”?

From Shona: 11 years ago I thought that Gore or George (Bush) could be the leader Gog because Gog sounds like George but perhaps this man is the real Gog:

The attack on Kaddafi is putting in Al Qaeda for oil. It was no problem in Sudan or Rwanda for genocide without oil i s OK. Syria it is OK for Alawi to kill Sunni as it is genocide without oil.

US continues to push its nose where it does not belong:

The billionaire wonders. My birth certificate has a hospital with an address a doctor a delivery time and the names of my parents:

Who is behind Obama’s Libyan Policy outside of the USA:

Al Qaeda is behind the Libyan uprising:

Facebook can help spread good but sometimes it can be used for evil:

New trends in Arab Anti-Semitism:



INTIFADA MEANS WAR by Asaf Romirowsky

Forwarded with comment by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East Analyst & Commentator

We have been urging the “Monitoring of the Media” since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. We have been denoting the malapropistic use of words by the MSM (Main Stream Media) for many years. These two essays by Daniel Greenfield and Asaf Romirowsky define terms and meanings with laser-like attack.

An experiment: while reading a usual article in the New York Times/Washington Post (so-called literary arbiters on language) about Terror attacks against Israel, circle the words “militant”, “gunman”, and “terrorist”. I bet you will find 10 to 12 “Militants” and none or few “Terrorists”. Remember, you picked an article about a real Terror Attack against Israel.

The NYT/WaPo don’t use proper terminology! – as is proven below. What to do?




When terrorists planted bomb in a bag near a bus station killing a Scottish Bible translator studying ancient Hebrew, and wounding dozens more including six Americans -- Reuters decided it was time to explain to its audience what that peculiar Hebraic term, "Terrorist Attack" meant.

"Police described the explosion as a “terrorist attack” — Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike," Reuters elucidated. Reuter's term for a terrorist attack turns out to be "Palestinian strike", which suggests a labor rally by terrorists demanding more virgins in paradise and more euphemistic media coverage. If such were their demands, then they got their wish.

Terms like "terrorist" have been replaced by "militant". Militant does not tell us anything more than terrorist does. On the contrary it tells us much less. Terrorists carry out violent attacks, but militants can refer to anyone from zealous environmentalists to homicidal killers. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines "militant" as "Having a combative character", which covers a rough third of the human race. And a full two-thirds on a bad day.

Why resort to imprecise language over more precise terminology? To avoid offending the people who plant bombs that kill bible translators, while dulling the impact of the event for their reading audience. A terrorist is a terrible person, but a militant is just worked up about something.

Vague language becomes the paradigm. Reuters isn't saying that they recommend that people say "Palestinian strike" rather than "terrorist attack” that would reveal their stake in the game. Instead they treat "terrorist" as a provincial term that might confuse their audience, explaining implicitly that the proper term is "Palestinian strike". The lesson is implicit, not explicit. An unstated correction that they are supposed to take heart.

From a fact based perspective, a bombing at a bus station is more obviously a terrorist attack, than it is a Palestinian strike, particularly as no Arab Muslims had been arrested yet. But it is not the facts that are being served here. It is the narrative. "Palestinian strike" equates to "Israeli strike". Two mirror images of the same. No difference between leaving a bomb at a bus station and hitting a bunch of terrorists firing rockets into Israeli towns and villages. One strike is as good as any other. Except that the latter get detailed coverage and the former get vague euphemisms

For that same reason comes the mention of this being the, "the first such bombing in Jerusalem in seven years", which sounds nice and peaceful. Just terrorists, pardon militants, scratching their seven year homicidal itch. The massacre of students at the Mercaz HaRav school doesn't qualify, that was done with an AK-47, but what about the trash pipe bomb just this month that took off a sanitation worker's hand? Well it wasn't "such" a bombing, was it? One was in the trash, the other at a bus station. Leave enough wriggle room and language can mean anything. If there's a bombing at a fruit stand tomorrow, it will be the first time in seven years too.

In his essay on politics and grammar, Orwell warned that "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible." A study of the media corps circa 2011 tells us that we can eliminate the 'largely' altogether and just turn it into the dictionary definition. The media doesn't report on terrorist attacks because it wants to, but because it has to. They have occurred and they are by definition news. This means they are obligated to fill out a few paragraphs mentioning them. And that they do. Muddied by the vaguest terminology they can find, along with justifications for the act, casting blame on the victim and mentioning that it's the settlements which are the true obstacles to peace.

The muddle spreads. Phrases such as "cycle of violence" or "militant attacks" come to be used by people who are in no way trying to excuse terrorist violence, and yet are unable to escape the widening degradation of meaning. Language designed to rationalize the irrational and defend the indefensible goes mainstream. It becomes part of how we think. We use words to express meaning and by taking on such ready-made phrases, we turn over the duty of understanding to their makers. When we use them, it is their worldview that passes through our lips.

Obama's own statement was a masterpiece of vagueness and word juggling. "The United States calls on the groups responsible to end these attacks at once", quoth the One. Does he not know which groups are responsible? There aren't so many, that naming them in a sentence would be laborious. But it would be politically inconvenient. That's followed by a call for "all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties". Whoever those parties may be. It's fairly certain that one of those parties is Israel, but the rest are a diffuse unknown. The equivalence capper comes with the condolences "for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza yesterday".

But when Biden wanted to denounce Israel a year ago, he was quite clear about it, saying, "I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem." The White House can be quite clear about who it's condemning and why when it wants to be. In that same essay, Orwell wrote that, "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity". That is obviously true of the White House, whose vagueness grows in proportion to its insincerity

Take the statements of Netanyahu and Abbas that Obama quoted during his UN address. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I came here today to find a historic compromise that will enable both people to live in peace, security, and dignity." And President Abbas said, "We will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure these negotiations achieve their cause." They both sound nice, but there are fundamental differences. Netanyahu used "I" to accept responsibility, Abbas used "We" to shift it. Netanyahu can be held accountable for failure, but Abbas can't.

Netanyahu agreed to compromise to achieve peace. Abbas agreed that "we" will work really hard to see that the negotiations achieve their cause-- whatever that cause may be. Negotiations generally achieve results. But negotiations with terrorists are only meant to serve their cause. Not achieve or effect-- but serve. The negotiations are servants of the Palestinian terrorist cause. And they will only engage in them to the service of their interests. Sabotaging those negotiations often serves the cause well too.

It's not the only possible interpretation, but deliberately vague language leads to multiple interpretations. Insincerity always needs a thousand bolt holes. Escape hatches from meaning. And it is the liars and hypocrites who need to flee meaning the most.

Dante's Inferno reserved the ninth circle of its hell for hypocrites and corrupt politicians. Today we reserve the ninth for the fourth estate. And some of the fourth estate has already wound up there on its own. Which is to be preferred, the liar or the hypocrite. That depends on whether you would rather read the newspaper or listen to a White House statement. It's propaganda either way, but with different flavors of nuance. The hypocrite pretends to be moral, the liar does not. Both invert morality, but the hypocrite does it with sleight of hand.

Time Magazine's Karl Vick, who reportedly holds a standing job offer from Hermann Goebbels, ended his first paragraph on the massacre of the Fogel family with a clumsy mixture of Der Sturmer and Der Reuters, writing of the Israeli response-- "events lurched forward with something very like vengeance." Events can lurch forward with a vengeance, but that is not the same thing as the pursuit of vengeance. Vick would like to get across both meanings, while not being accountable for either.

Vick's itemized list of Israeli "vengeance" consists of condemning the massacre, approving home construction, filing a complaint with the UN, fundraising for victims of terrorist attacks and calling on Abbas' PA to stop promoting violence. As "vengeance" goes, this is really not it at all. That's where Karl Vick has to work at transforming Israeli complaints and fundraising for murder victims into horrible acts, while minimizing the crime itself.

Vick's first tool of vagueness is the Impersonal Passive Voice. The last refuge of the moral coward from his moral reckoning.

The actual killing of the Fogel family is described as "The murder by knife of three children". Who killed the children? The knife did. Blame the knife. No reference is made to who actually perpetrated the attack. Terrorists don't kill children, knives do.

The impersonal passive voice is most often used by those trying to minimize accountability. And Karl Vick determinedly goes into 'impersonal passive voice' every time the murder of the Fogel family comes up.

"The slaughter did not eradicate the family", Vick writes. Apparently the perpetrator was someone named 'The Slaughter'. Farther down, "The means of entry into the settlement". Whose means of entry? We just don't know. Still further down, Vick finally breaks down and mention that the attack may have been carried out by people, "the identity of the attackers remains unknown". Like so much else.

But Vick isn't trapped in some hopeless verbal pacifism. He can assign blame perfectly well. So long as it's to Israelis. Vick charges Netanyahu with making certain "that the attack would, in fact, have a direct impact on Israel's West Bank settlements" and making "the clearest effort to transmute the deaths of the Fogels into politics". Again the perpetrators of the Fogel's deaths are missing, but Vick shows no such reluctance when it comes to Netanyahu. But then in Karl Vick's twisted worldview, Netanyahu is "in fact" guilty of much worse than killing children; he's guilty of being the prime minister of a country fighting terrorists.

"Jewish settlers and Palestinians have clashed many times since Itamar was built", writes Vick. But why are the Jews listed first? To place the emphasis in the right place. A sentence later Vick notes that there have been three sets of murders by Muslim terrorists, and after the latest murder, five Muslim cars were torched by Jewish residents. Vick caps this off with an absurd quote from a spokesperson for the radical left-wing B'Tselem organization about Itamar being an ongoing scene of mutual violence. Mutual violence meaning that Israelis get murdered and Muslim cars get burned. And so vagueness triumphs again.

In an article in which, Vick manages to describe the Sabbath as "enforced rest" and "enforced public silence"-- he finds nothing bad to say about the other side. When he is forced to describe their violence, he slips into passive voice and dense formalities. Thickets of words that he knows will have little impact. But when he encounters something as awful as a Jewish house or the Sabbath, then he finds properly violent metaphors to describe them.

Propaganda complicates the simple and simplifies the complicated. Context is brought to material unfavorable to the cause, while being stripped away from already favorable material. A story about a terrorist bombing needs tinkering with, but one about collateral damage in an Israeli strike against terrorists needs none. The choice of context is utterly revealing. It is the difference between reporting and promoting. The way words are used is the way that meaning is created. To massacre meaning, all you need to do is kill the truth.

Daniel Greenfield article: The Massacre of Meaning Posted: 26 Mar 2011 07:03 PM PDT

A number of years ago, my wife and I attended a Gesher Seminary for strengthen and it helped her become more Yeshiva type of wife. Later with Rav Boyer we attended a few Seminaries for strengthening including with the people mentioned in the article. It is a great pleasure for me to present Mathis Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos Story “Pig out”.

Good Shabbos Everyone. In secular terms, Joe Wallis, or Yossi as he was known to his Israeli friends, was a model success story. Born in Eretz Yisroel, he moved abroad with his parents to New York, before his bar mitzvah, where he grew up in a rough and tumble neighborhood in the Bronx.
He graduated from City College at the top of the class. He married and returned with his wife to Israel in order to serve in the Israeli army. He rose to the rank of captain, and had nearly completed his obligatory service when the Yom Kippur War broke out in October, 1973. Years later, he was a successful business man in Eretz Yisroel, but he still felt empty. One day, as Joe was about to leave his office, he received a telephone call from his wife, asking him to pick up supper on his way home.
Joe left his office at 5:30 and made his way to the Misadah HaPil in Tel Aviv (The Elephant's Restaurant) known for its basar lavan (pork) and pita. It was a hot steamy day and the line to get into this trendy eatery was out the door. Joe figured out just how many portions he would need for his children, who devoured this kind of treat. It was going to be a humid evening, he thought to himself, as he began feeling impatient, uncomfortable and a little out of place…
Joe was surely unfamiliar with this week's Torah portion Shmini, in which the verse states, "And the pig… it is impure to you. You shall not eat it…" (Vayikra 11:7-8) The Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Jewish Law) tells us an interesting thing about the impurity of the pig. When discussing the places unfit for the recitation of holy words (such as a bathroom) the Shulchan Aruch states, "someone who has excrement brought before him, (such as in a bedpan) may not recite holy words; furthermore, the mouth of a pig is similar to excrement which is brought before him, because even if the pig has just come out of the river, the bathing in the river does not help [to cleanse] the pig, because a pig's mouth is like a bedpan." (Orach Chayim 76:3)
…Joe's mind began wandering in the pork restaurant and he suddenly he recalled a story that had taken place decades earlier. He had heard the story numerous times in the family, but now the story loomed larger than ever before. The story was about his maternal grandfather, Shraga Feivel Winkler. He came from Feldesh, a small town outside Debreczyn, Hungary, and was known as the most pious man in his town. He was a melamed (teacher of children) who was revered and respected by all who knew him.
In 1944, Reb Shraga Feivel was taken from his home by the German S.S. and interned in a slave labor camp outside Hungary. He could not contact his family members, and had no idea of their whereabouts. As the War was coming to an end and the camps were about to be liberated, German soldiers wanted to humiliate as many Jews as they could before they were freed. They decided to make an example of Reb Shraga Feivel, whom they sneeringly called "the rabbi of the camp."
The German soldiers summoned Jews from all the barracks and ordered them to form a wide circle. Reb Shraga Feivel was brought to the middle of the circle. One could already see clouds of smoke rising from the Allied tanks and trucks that were making their way to the camps. "In a few hours you will all be free." a German officer announced. "You will be reunited with your families - or whatever is left of them. But you, rabbi," he said, pointing to Reb Shraga Feivel, "you must first pass this test. I have a piece of pig's meat in my hand. If you want to live and see your family again, you must eat this in front of everyone." The German roared, as he drew his pistol, "Otherwise you will be our last victim."
Reb Shraga Feivel had starved himself throughout his stay in the camps rather than eat anything that was not kosher. He existed on water, dirty fruits and vegetables, and anything else he knew was kosher.
He had not eaten meat in years, not even soup that may have had pieces of non-kosher meat in it. Reb Shraga Feivel's fellow prisoners stood by nervously as he was confronted with his life-and-death decision. Some could not bear to watch his ordeal and looked down at the ground. "I will not eat this meat!" he announced defiantly. The sudden crack of gunfire ruptured the air, as Reb Shraga Feivel was killed in cold blood.
Now, in the hot humid evening outside the pork restaurant, Reb Shraga Feivel's grandson closed his eyes, ruminating over the events of that late afternoon, decades ago in that slave labor camp where his grandfather was gunned down. Joe thought to himself, "I am standing in a long line waiting to buy pork - meat that my grandfather gave up his life for.
Had he eaten just one piece of that pork, he would have been reunited with his family that he hadn't seen in over a year. I have my family. I have anything I desire - and I am waiting on line for this? Either I am not normal or he was not normal." And then he thought, "I cannot believe that my grandfather was not normal. I must find out why he would do something that seems to me to be crazy!" He left the line and bought supper at another store. He came home a perplexed and troubled man. After supper, Yossi had a long talk with his wife. They talked about their purpose in life, their future - and the emptiness that gnawed at their souls. They wanted a solution, but where could they find it?
A few days later, Yossi heard about a seminar called Arachim (Values) that was being given by two scientists. Dr. Sholom Srebrenik and Mr. Tzvi Inbal. The academic credentials of the men giving the seminar were impeccable. Joe, who had a scientific bent, decided to attend. For four days he listened, questioned, absorbed, discussed, evaluated, deliberated and reflected. At the end of the seminar he was convinced that the only path for a Jew is an authentic Torah lifestyle.
Yossi Wallis became determined that others would see what he saw, feel what he felt, and understand what he now understood. He asked Dr. Srebrenik, "How can you not be getting this message out to thousands of people? What you have said here is literally incredible." "It's a matter of money," replied Dr. Srebrenik sadly. "If we had the money we could get the message out." "I will take care of it," Yossi said with firm confidence. And take care of it he did. Overnight he became Arachim's General Director, a title he holds until this day.
Today Arachim seminars are given throughout the world. Over the last twenty years it has become one of the most effective kiruv (outreach) organizations in Eretz Yisroel and the Diaspora. More than 120,000 people have attended Arachim seminars and more than 50,000 of them have been brought back to authentic Judaism. Yossi recently estimated that more than 60,000 children have been born to couples who have become baalei teshuvah by virtue of graduating Arachim seminars. (From Reflections of The Maggid, R. Paysach Krohn p.222) Good Shabbos Everyone.

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

REMEMBER DUST IS NOT CHAMETZ so have an easy Pessach cleaning and shop wisely. Have a good Shabbos and a good month and stay healthy,

Rachamim Pauli