Jan 31, 2017

Timely Vort

This vort catches my fancy. I do not guarantee that the people cited as saying them are the correct sources. I would love if someone could verify it for me.

A thought from the Chozeh of Lublin:

The parshiyos of Bo, Beshalach, Yisro, Mishpatim, Terumah, Tetzave and Ki Sisa, all contain within them different Yomim Tovim. If you make the effort, you can experience the aura and inspiration of that particular yom tov during these coming weeks.

Parsha Bo has the story of the Exodus from Egypt which corresponds to Pesach. 
Parshas Beshalach has the Splitting of the Sea which happened on Shvii shel Pesach (the 7th of Pesach).
Parshas Yisro, has the Ten Commandments, corresponding to Shavuos.
Parshas Mishpatim, which has numerous laws, dinim, corresponds to the Yom HaDin and Yimei HaDin, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur   
Parshas Terumah has instructions for the building of the Mishkan and with it came the cloud that hovered above it, which corresponds to Succos.
Parshas Tetzave has the lighting of the menorah which corresponds to Chanukah. 
Parshas Ki Sisa which has the mitzva of giving the machatzis ha'shekel corresponds to the month of Adar when the half shekels began to be collected.

Another version or point to the vort, cited in the name of the Spinka Rebbe, is that the weeks of these parshiyos with yetzias Mitzrayim, kerias Yam Suf, and Mattan Torah, are more spiritually potent than the actual yomim tovim of Pesach, Shevii shel Pesach, and Shavuos! 

This is because the parshiyos contain the the koach (power, spiritual strength) of Torah while the yomim tovim are the koach of zeman (the time of year that they fall).

Jan 29, 2017

Mentch Before Ruchnius?

I have read the idea "emotional health comes before spiritual growth" several times and have wondered about it.  Sometimes it's couched as "first he needs to become a mentch, then we can work on his ruchnius." It is in the context of those off the derech or those having personal problems.

I can see that if someone is an emotional mess, they are in no position to listen to a shiur.  But they could very well be encouraged to do a mitzvah!

In the book Incredible, the story is told of Yossi Gevili, an inmate in an Israeli prison who showed up at an Arachim seminar.  He was on furlough, only his second one in seven years because after he was allowed out the first time and got into a fight, they were hesitant about letting him out again.  This time, he figured the safest place for him was at an Arachim seminar.

Yossi Gevili had been one of the worst prisoners at the prison.  He did not get along with anyone, he argued constantly, was mean, and broke all the rules.  When he returned to the prison after the seminar, he was a different person, polite, and he started using a siddur.  Four days at the Arachim seminar made him into a baal teshuva and model citizen.

Arachim personnel found him a job when he was released and gave him the support he needed to stay on track. He married and settled down and gave his mother nachas.

So here was a man who was difficult inmate in a prison who did not first undergo therapy or any sort of program to address his emotional state of being, his obnoxious behavior, and his anger.  He was exposed to Torah lectures and this changed his life.

Jan 28, 2017


On Shabbos, I was talking about the kal v'chomer that Rashi notes appears in this parsha, saying it is one of ten that appear in Torah (Tanach).  I commented, I wonder why Rashi first comments about this here, the second time a kal v'chomer appears, when the first one is in parshas Mikeitz.

Then I looked up the first one in Mikeitz and saw that Rashi actually does comment there, the first time a kal v'chomer appears.  That led me to thinking how absurd and embarrassing it is that after decades of reading Rashi, I still don't know the basics, i.e. what Rashi said.  That is amaratzus (being an am ha'aretz, ignoramus).  L'havdil, a medical student has to know far more information than what is contained in Rashi on Chumash, and he studies it and knows it because it's important to get good grades.  What I (we?) do is passively read it without committing it to memory (beyond what we had to study for school decades ago).  So yes, I know many Rashis, but it still surprises me what I don't know.

Jan 27, 2017

Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh

Many are unaware that it's a halacha brought in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that it is a mitzva "l'harbos b'seuda" - to have something additional to eat on Rosh Chodesh, and if it falls out on Shabbos, to make one extra "tavshil" - cooked dish, more than you have on other Shabbosos.

This is a mitzva I like :) I have made it a point now for years to have an extra treat on Rosh Chodesh.

For those who want to make a good hachlata/kabbala in life, this is an enjoyable one.

Jan 26, 2017

Saving a World

continued from previous post

A woman said that many years ago, her sister went to an Israeli abortion clinic to dissuade women from aborting their babies.  She met a woman who was there for a scheduled abortion.  Her sister said don't do it; give the baby to me! The woman instinctively said, it's my baby! Then she realized the irony in what she said, considering what she was about to do, and said her husband lost his job, and they were in the middle of renovations which they could not continue and were exposed to the elements. She felt desperate.

Her sister pledged to raise money for the woman and did so and the woman gave birth to a boy.  They kept in touch and the sister went to the child's bar mitzva and wedding.

"Whoever sustains one Jewish life is like one who sustains an entire world."

Jan 25, 2017

Save Jewish Lives

I received a few emails promoting Efrat's fundraising campaign in which donations received were tripled in value.  I think they run a campaign every year around parshas Shemos, the parsha where Pharaoh decrees that baby boys should be killed.

I have written about my outrage over the lack of protest about Jews killing Jews daily in Israel here . We are horrified and upset, rightly so, when Israelis are murdered by terrorists, but I fail to understand why Jews killing Jews through abortions is not as horrifying or upsetting to people. Maybe if pictures of babies were posted every day with reminders that they're being killed, and their deaths are paid for by the Israeli government, something would happen.

In the meantime, Efrat and Just One Life do what they can to prevent abortions.  Here is what the founder of Efrat, Dr. Eli Schussheim, writes:

In 1977 when new laws about abortions came out and I found out that 60 thousand  abortions are done yearly in Israel, I was totally shocked.  I thought what I can do to stop this terrible plague but I had no means with which to proceed.

I felt it my obligation to act and not stand by the side. And so I stepped ahead and started to work on the matter by notifying people of the terrible situation. 

In this way, we reached where we are today saving  more than 68,600 terminations.
The amount of abortions shrank to  a third of the amount it was then.

It is not only with contributions that we can try to minimize abortions in Israel.  The main problem is that most of the Jewish population is unaware that 100 babies are lost daily due to abortions.

Jan 24, 2017

Having a Life

Overheard from two women who each have two children around the same ages.

Lady 1: I am older already, in my thirties, and I got married later.

Lady 2: I got married at 19. Right after high school.  I'm 24.

Lady 1: So you haven't had a life.

Lady 2: Basically ...

Lady 1 meant that Lady 2 went directly from her obligations at school to her obligations as a wife and mother, without having years to "do her own thing," which usually includes studying a profession, work, some travel.

I understand that, but it still sounded awful.  Maybe I should have piped up and asked, "Why do you think being a wife and mother isn't a life?" and seen where that went.  She may have said, I did not have any time for myself.  I might have responded, why then did you choose to meet someone and get married when you did? I don't know what she would have said.  I might have had the opportunity to say, if you want to study a field, you still can.  If you want to work, that is still possible (and I think she was working in the store I was in). So what do you think you missed out on that you cannot do now? She might say, a sense of freedom, being able to come and go and explore my interests. I might then say, there are hundreds, thousands of frum single girls who do just that.  Many get married along the way. Too many do not.  What do you think is more important than raising Yiddishe children?

Jan 22, 2017

Watch What You Pray For

In a shiur given by Rabbi Reisman he said a person he corresponded with told him that he wanted more time to spend with his family.  He became sick and spent more time with his family.  Lesson: watch what you pray for.  This is why we ask that our requests be answered l'tova.

I just read two other examples of this in an article about Yitzi Hurwitz in Mishpacha.  He is immobilized by ALS and his wife was interviewed and said, when they were dating, she had spoken about wanting to live in America as opposed to somewhere where they'd have to send the kids to school in another country.  They ended up in California but she still had to drive a thousand miles a week to take her kids to and from school.  The lesson, she said, "You really need to be specific when you ask G-d for things."

Even scarier is when she says, "The two things in my life that I wished for were not to have to worry so much about money, and that I'd have more time to spend with Yitzi because he was never home, he was working so hard.  And now, I have a lot more time to spend with Yitzi, and thanks to a lot of good people, I worry very little about money.  It's not exactly how I thought it would be ..."