Friday, July 30, 2010

Shabbat Shalom

One Way Street

Seen in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke


Parashat Ekev teaches us how successful the Jewish people and the Holy Land could be if every Jew fulfilled the Mitzvot. Listen to them and not step with one's feet onto the easy Mitzvot we may consider as not so important. This is Rashi's opinion and I read somewhere that "speaking Hebrew" is one of those easy Mitzvot we usually don't think about too many times.

While going through all these Parash commentaries yesterday I wasn't able to concentrate on all those religious sayings but rather thought about the present. How does the content of Parashat Ekev influence our daily lives today ? Do we have to suffer and thus Israel has a bad time because not everyone is fulfilling the Torah Mitzvot ? There are Rabbis who say YES ! If we were perfect we wouldn't have the trouble with the Palestinians, for instance.

I don't have a perfect answer to this and in my opinion, we are not able to determine why such and such is happening to us and our country. In fact, I haven't found any answer to the entire issue and will thus study the Parasha again.

"Shabbat Shalom" to all of you !

"LECHA DODI" - Ashkenaz

Sephardi Kabbalat Shabbat

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Guest Posting: Rosh HaShana is coming !


A story from Rav Tzvi Zilberberg. Rosh HaShanah is coming!

A person meets his friend after Rosh Hashana and asks him "Nu, so how did your Rosh Hashana go?"

He replies "It was beautiful. The baal tefila didn't leave a dry eye in the shul. The meals were full of divrei torah and zemiros. The afternoons we learned straight without dozing or schmoozing for a minute. The kids behaved like angels"

"Wow! Gevaldig. Sounds like it was perfect" his friend replies.

"Well almost perfect. The kid next to me in Shul couldn't stop making noise during Musaf and the father the "Groisse Tzaddik" was so busy shukling away that he didn't do anything besides keep shuckling. I had to shissss the kid half of Mussaf, besides that it was perfect."

To this Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg says, "Fool! That was your whole test of Rosh Hashana. Maybe your whole year depended on your reaction to the kid. The rest of Yom Tov was not your Nisayon!"

“The entire purpose of our existence is to overcome our negative habits.” - Vilna Gaon, Commentary to Mishlei 4:13

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ohad Rosenberg (Ovadiah) and his struggle for Acceptance

Left: Eliyahu Avermann
Right: Ohad Rosenberg (Ovadiah)


About two weeks ago, Ohad Rosenberg (30) first killed his friend Eliyahu Averman (19) and then committed suicide. This happened in Tel Aviv, near Ibn Gavirol Street, and no one seems to know why the two had gone to Tel Aviv in the first place.

I have been reading through many articles about the murder. A week ago, the father of Eliyahu Averman, the Kaliver Chassid Rabbi Aharon Leib Averman, was interviewed by a secular local Jerusalem paper where he stated that all those accusations against his son Eliyahu are nothing but lies. Last Friday, the Tel Aviv part of MAARIV published an interview of Ohad Rosenberg's father and brother. The two made very harsh accusations against the born haredi society but they agreed with Rabbi Averman in one point: The two friends were not gay !
Many press articles claim that Averman and Rosenberg had a homosexual relationship and that this was the cause for the murder and suicide. However, others claim that Rosenberg and Averman had a dispute about the car they were traveling in. A third opinion is that Rosenberg accused Averman of having destroyed his Shidduch. However, it looks like we will never know the truth.

Ohad Rosenberg was born in December 1979 into a secular family. He grew up in Rishon LeZion (near Tel Aviv) and became religious at the age of 17. He even became haredi and started studying at different programmes in Rishon. His older brother didn't like the idea and told him to go to the university and learn a profession. Ohad, however, became more and more fanatic.

Ohad Rosenberg's family name was NOT Rosenberg but OVADIAH. Some time after entering the haredi world he had changed his name from OVADIAH into ROSENBERG !

Why ?

After some time of studies in Rishon LeZion, Ohad decided to enroll in a haredi Yeshiva in Jerusalem for further studies.
As far as I heard it was the MIR Yeshiva but you are welcomed to correct me in this case.

The MIR Yeshiva is litvish and has thousands of students - also Baalei Teshuva. I assume that Ohad joined the Hebrew programme and he claimed that he was made fun of all the time because he was Sephardi.

We have been hearing lately about the dispute between haredi schools belonging to the Ashkenazi and Sephardi community. The latest example was the "Emmanuel case" and now the accuser Yoav Lalom is going wild about the same separation reason in Kiryat Sefer.

What one has to understand, and not too many Baalei Teshuva like to hear that, that, as soon as you enter haredi society as a newcomer, you are possibly considered as "SUG BETH - Second Class". Born Haredim will look down on you. If not in an open outspoken way, then in a hidden way. Example: They use certain phrases when they talk to you.

Not only that Ohad Rosenberg (Ovadiah) was a Baal Teshuva but he was also of Sephardi origin. Meaning that Ashkenazi Haredim may look down on you and that you won't necessarily marry an Ashkenazi Shidduch. Unless the Shidduch is divorced, has health or other problems.

Ohad Rosenberg (Ovadiah) dreamt of being accepted and he did everything he could in order to reach his goal. This is why he changed his name into something totally Ashkenazi. The reasons seems to be completely ridiculous because Ohad looked Sephardi and other people were aware of his origin from far away.

The only thing missing for his false completion was an Ashkenazi Shidduch. Some time ago he had left the Yeshiva in Jerusalem (because he couldn't stand the rassicm anymore) and moved back to his parents to Rishon LeZion. His brother says that Ohad finally succeeded in finding an Ashkenazi girl he got along with. The former Yeshiva, however, spoke to her parents and thus the Shidduch went down the drain.

In Rishon, Ohad Rosenberg (Ovadiah) started volunteering for ZAKA. There he met the born Haredi Eliyahu Averman (another Zaka volunteer). Both became friends and the haredi society denies any homosexuality between the two friends.

Ohad's family says that they didn't really like Averman. Ohad's mother had bought a laptop for her son but only Averman used it. The same with Ohad's new car. He didn't have a driving license and Eliyahu Averman became his driver. Once he gave the car to Averman who disappeared with it. Ohad's brother had even called up Averman's father in order to investigate where his son disappeared with the car. Rabbi Averman didn't have an answer.

A short time later, the murder took place in Tel Aviv. Before the two friends had been on a trip to Eilat and I am asking myself why would anyone Haredi go to non - kosher Eilat. The same with Tel Aviv.
Ohad Rosenberg (Ovadiah) killed his friend in the middle of the street and then committed suicide. Israel's haredi society is shocked but no one dares to speak.

What did really happen at the Yeshiva and what was the true connection between the older Rosenberg and the only 19 - year - old Averman.
Eliyahu Averman was closed to the Kaliver Rebbe Menachem Mendel Taub and, again, I am asking myself why he was so friendly with the Sephardi Baal Teshuva Rosenberg (Ovadiah). I imagine that Rabbi Averman was surely not too happy about Eliyahu's new friend.

Haredi society made a big fuss about Eliyahu Averman's funeral but no one came to Rosenberg's funeral. Not even one official representative from Zaka and the Ovadiah's are very disappointed. Ohad sacrificed all of his time to Zaka and they ignore his funeral. However, one person from Zaka came but he told the family that he only came because he was a friend of Ohad.

For haredi society, Ohad Rosenberg (Ovadiah) is and never was one of them. You have to be born into haredi society and as a Baal Teshuva you are just not the same. Many times, the Ovadiah's told their son Ohad to go to a Sephardi Yeshiva and mix with other Baalei Teshuva so that he would be accepted and happy. No, Ohad wanted the Ashkenazi society and suffered from his environment looking down on him.

As Rosenberg was not born into their society, the born haredi society, once again, complains about Baalei Teshuva entering with all kinds of personal problems into their society. No one is learning from the tragedy because Ohad Rosenberg (Ovadiah) was not part of the haredi society but just an outsider.

Machnovke on its way to the Supreme Court


Officially Chassidut Machnovke (Bnei Brak) is calling itself "Belz - Machnovke". Fact is that Machnovke and the "real" Belzer together with their Rebbe Yissachar Dov Rokeach have been fighting for many years. Machnovke wants to be part of Belz but the Belzer don't want them.

Two years ago, a Belzer Chassid (some say a donor of Machnovke) was attacked by Belzer Chassidim when he went to the grave of the former Belzer Rebbe Aharon Rokeach (the uncle of the present Rebbe). The Belzer, on the other hand claim, that they didn't attack the particular Chassid.

The Belzer Beit Midrash in Jerusalem

Now the Machnovke Rebbe asked the secular Israeli Supreme Court to allow the police to protect the Machnovke Rebbe while he is visiting the grave of Rebbe Aharon on his Yahrzeit. Just in case that the Belzer may attack him as well.

Details HERE (in Hebrew only) !

Tuesday, July 27, 2010



On Monday night, 9 August 2010, we are celebrating the beginning of the new Jewish month ELUL. Rosh Chodesh ELUL is taking place on the 10 as well as the 11 August. 

With the new month we are entering the Teshuva period before the upcoming high holidays. This doesn't mean that we are unable to do Teshuva (Return to G - d) throughout the year; however, who doesn't want to do a least a bit of Teshuva before Rosh HaShana is coming in ? G - d is going to judge the entire universe for the next upcoming year 5771: Who is going to live, who is going to die, will we be healthy, who is getting married, will there be war, peace or natural catastrophes … Everything concerning the new year, G - d is going to decide on Rosh HaShana (Erev Rosh HaShana is on Wednesday 8 September).

A few days later, Rosh HaShana is followed by the highest Jewish holiday YOM KIPPUR. Whereas G - d judges his whole creation on Rosh HaShana, the Jews are going to be specially judged on Yom Kippur. Then He is, so to speak, signing His final decision.

This is one of the differences between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur: Rosh HaShana is a day of judgement for the entire planet. No matter if someone is Jewish or not - Jewish. Yom Kippur, however, is an entirely Jewish holiday because it only concerns the Jews and their final judgement.

Who then doesn't want to make a good impression before G - d ?
The month of Elul is a great opportunity for us of doing so. Sephardi Jews already start their Selichot prayers with the beginning of Elul. Ashkenazi Jews only start their Selichot on the Mozzaei Shabbat (Saturday night after Shabbat ends) before Rosh HaShana.

The month of ELUL is a time of looking back and return. Have we reached our goals during the year ? What mistakes did we make and how can we make everything better in the future ? Where have we failed and what did we accomplish ?

G - d is not interested in us being the most perfect people in the world. What He is interested in is that we realize our mistakes, regret and follow the intention to make everything better in the future.
Elul is the big month of Teshuva where we have to realize that there is more to this world than eat, drink, work and sleep. In Elul, Moshe went up to Mount Sinai in order to ask G - d for forgiveness for the Golden Calf. Elul is the month of awareness in connection with the sincere intention of correcting and perfecting oneself.

Guest Posting by Rabbi Yechiel Goldhaber: תורה שבכתב ובעל פה

תורה שבכתב ושבעל פה – אחת דין ואחת רחמים

ניצני חכמת הקבלה החלו להנץ כבר בשלהי תקופת הראשונים, וניכרים לראשונה בכתבי חכמי פרובנס; היא התפתחה בגוונים שונים בספרד ואשכנז, ועסקה בעיקר בביאור התורה והמצוות. במקביל החלו אורחות חייהם של חכמי הקבלה לחדור טיפין טיפין לכל שדרות העם ולשנות את מנהגיהם. התפשטות ספרי הזוהר, אשר מהם עשו המקובלים כנפיים הן לדרכי ההגות הקבלית והן לצורת ההנהגה, גרמה לשינויים המעשיים להשפיע באופן מובהק יותר על בני העם. הצעד החריף לקראת התפשטות הקבלה והפיכתה לנחלת הכלל, נעשה לאחר גירוש ספרד, כאשר שני המאורות הגדולים, הרמ"ק והאר"י, פתחו את שערי תורתם, ומאז התפשטה חיש מהר בכל קהילות ישראל.

בשבוע שבין יום השנה לבעל 'ישמח משה' (כט בתמוז) ליום השנה של האריז"ל (ה באב), אתמקד בהנהגה מסוימת שחידש האר"י, ויש לה זיקה כלשהי לתורת בעל 'ישמח משה'.

נאמר בתורה (שמות כא כד-כה): "עין תחת עין, שן תחת שן, יד תחת יד, רגל תחת רגל, כויה תחת כויה, פצע תחת פצע, חבורה תחת חבורה". פשוטו של מקרא הוא דין של עונש גופני על מעשה חבלה באדם, בעוד בתורה שבעל פה ההלכה היא שהחובל חייב ממון בלבד, ועונש הגוף איננו מתבצע. הלכות אלה נחשבות בין המקרים הבולטים של פער בין תורה שבכתב לתורה שבעל פה.

בפירוש הרקאנטי על אתר עמד על קושי זה: "כבר ידעת כי זה הפסוק אמרו רבותינו ז"ל שאינו כפשוטו אלא לממון, גם פסוק 'כאשר יתן מום באדם כן יתנן בו', הכוונה בו לממון, דבר הניתן מיד ליד, וכן 'וקצותה את כפה' וכן 'בעליו יומת'. ואולי תשאל, אחרי שאין הכוונה בו ככתבו – למה נכתב כך, לתת מקום למינים לרדות? והתשובה היא מה שאמרו רז"ל שבעים פנים לתורה, ופירוש המצוה כפי פשוטה ניתן בתורה שבעל פה ואחריה נלך, אמנם בא לשון הפסוק בענין אחר – שיובנו בו הפנים האחרים שלא היו מובנים בלתי הלשון ההוא. דוגמא לדבר, אמרו 'עין תחת עין', האמת הוא כפי הקבלה כי החובל בחברו חייב בחמשה דברים, אמנם נכתב כך לסוד גדול מאוד... כי דברי תורה יש להם פנימי וחיצון, גלוי ונסתר, שנאמר: אחת דבר אלהים וכו'".

בספרו 'ישמח משה' (פרשת משפטים, קעג טו"א), מנסה רבי משה טייטלבוים מאוהל למזג בין פשוטו של מקרא זה לבין קבלת חז"ל, באופנים שונים. האופן האחרון המובא בדבריו הוא על פי מה שכתב האר"י, "שתורה שבכתב היא דין מפי גבורה שמענו, ותורה שבע"פ הוא רחמים", ועל כן משורת הדין שישלם עין תחת עין ממש, אלא שתורה שבע"פ מקילה מצד הרחמים.

הבחנה זו בין תורה שבכתב ותורה שבע"פ היא חידושו של בעל 'ישמח משה', ששנה אותה ושילשה; לא זו בלבד שלא מצאנוה בדברי האר"י, אלא שדברים הפוכים למדנו. בישמח משה סוף פרשת אמור (לד טו"ב), מביא מאמר מופלא מספר 'קהלת משה'1 המבאר בתוך דבריו מאמר חז"ל (סוכה ו ע"ב): "כי אתאי הלכתא [הלכה למשה מסיני] – לגרע", היינו להקל, שבמקום דופן שלישי לסוכה, דיינו בטפח. ומוסיף עליו בישמח משה ומבקש לבאר מדוע אכן הקילו חז"ל ממה שכתוב בתורה, ושוב מקדים את דברי האר"י הנזכרים, שתורה שבכתב היא בחינת דין ועל כן היא מחמירה, ואילו תורה שבע"פ היא בחינת רחמים ולפיכך הקילה. רבי משה טייטלבוים מוסיף ומספר שבדרשתו ל'הושענא רבה' השתמש במאמר זה כדי לעורר רחמים, שמתוך כך אפשר להסיק את גודל רחמיו ית' עלינו, שהעניק לחכמים כח להקל לפנים משורת הדין.

בפרשת דברים (צ טו"ב) חוזר בעל 'ישמח משה' על שני מאמריו המוזכרים, ובהתאם לזאת מנמק את הנהגתו של האר"י שאין ללמוד מקרא בלילה: "ידוע שתורה שבכתב הוא דין, על כן אין ללמוד בלילה, ושבע"פ הוא רחמים", ולפיכך זמן לימודה של תורה שבע"פ היא בלילה.

אחרי חיפוש רב מצאנו שכל חכמי הקבלה כתבו בדיוק להיפך, שתורה שבכתב היא בבחינת חסד ותורה שבע"פ בחינת דין. ואלו הם: רבנו בחיי כותב על הפסוק 'כי ענן ה' על המשכן יומם ואש תהיה לילה בו': "בא לרמז על מידת יום ומידת לילה... לרמז כי ספר תורה כלול מן הרחמים והדין: תורה שבכתב ותורה שבעל פה"2; רבי יעקב סקילי (תלמידו של הרשב"א) מפרש את הפסוק 'להגיד בבוקר חסדיך ואמונתך בלילות', שהיום והלילה הם כנגד תורה שבכתב ושבעל פה: "תורה שבכתב היא החסד, והיא ניתנה בבוקר, ותורה שבעל פה היא האמונה, כי לא ניתנה בכתב אלא להאמין בקבלתה"3; רבי מנחם רקנאטי (ראש פר' יתרו) מביא את דעת ספר הבהיר (סי' קלג): "מאי ניהו חסד היינו תורה... ותורה שבע"פ ממדת הגבורה"4, אמנם הוא עצמו מביא דעה קצת שונה: "וי"א כי תורה שבכתב יוצא ממידת הרחמים... ולדברי הכל תורה שבע"פ משמעותה דין ושבכתב חסד ורחמים".

וכן מפורש בזהר (ח"ב קסא ע"ב): "תורה שבכתב איהו הוי"ה [שהוא רחמים], תורה שבע"פ איהו דכתיב אלהים [שהוא דין]". וברע"מ (משפטים דף קיח ע"ב): "תורה שבכתב אתיהבית מימינא, ותורה שבע"פ אתיהבית משמאלא"5.
וכן מפורש אצל הני תרי מארי דרזין: הרמ"ק6והאריז"ל, ואחריהם כל גדולי המקובלים7.

אך מצאנו דברים דומים מעט לדברי בעל ישמח משה אצל "הרב החסיד המקובל קדוש יאמר לו" (לשון שה"ג בערכו), רבי רפאל עמנואל חי ריקי, שביאר את ההבדל הפנימי בין שתי התורות, בביאורו לפסוק 'כל אורחות ה' חסד ואמת': "חסד זו תורה שבכתב שהיא נמשלת למים – סוד החסד, ואמת היא תורה שבע"פ הכלולה בש"ס, משנה בואו [כנראה שכוונתו לאות וא"ו] של אמת, ואף היא אמת, כי כולם ניתנו מרועה אחד, ואינה חסד בתורה שבכתב, כי התורה שבע"פ להחמיר באה ולא להקל, ואע"פ כן אינו ראוי לקרוא אותה בשם דין, שיורד שני מדרגות מחסד, כ"א אמת שיורד מדרגה אחת, שסוף סוף 'אין גוזרין גזירה על הציבור אלא א"כ רוב הציבור יכולים לעמוד בה', וזו היא מידת הרחמים, שהיא מידת אמת ולא מידת הדין"8.

על כל פנים נמצא שדברי בעל ישמח משה מחודשים ביותר, ובודאי שאינם ממקורו הטהור של האריז"ל.

מכל מקום החרה החזיק אחריו נכדו בעל ייטב לב שכתב באותו סגנון, ומן הסתם שאב מבארו הזך של זקנו הגדול, על אף שלא הזכירו, ואקדים לדבריו הקדמה קצרה.
מפורסמת דעת האריז"ל שאין ללמוד מקרא בלילה, ודבריו גרמו להדים רבים בעולם ההלכה, ורבים מבעלי הלכה קיבלו את דבריו וגם פלפלו בהם9.

ואלו דברי האריז"ל בשער המצוות (פר' ואתחנן): "שתורת הקבלה באצילות, והתלמוד בבריאה, המקרא בעשיה... לפי שהמקרא בעשיה אין ראוי בלילה לעסוק בהם, כיון שהלילה עצמה היא בחינת שליטת העשיה והכל הוא דינים, ואין ראוי לעורר אז את הדינים".

איברא, בהנחה שתורה שבכתב היא בחינת חסד ורחמים, אדרבה יש להעדיף ללמוד אותה בלילה דוקא, כדי למתק את הדינים. החיד"א כבר עמד על קושיא זו, ואלו דבריו: "לכאורה יפלא, כי תורה שבכתב היא כנגד שם הוי"ה ותורה שבע"פ נגד שם אדני, וא"כ מקרא הוא רחמים ומשנה דין, ונראין הדברים הפכיים ח"ו". ומשתדל החיד"א ליישב: "וזה שנים רבות ששמעתי משם הרב עיר וקדיש מהר"ם פאפריש ז"ל, דבחינת המקרא עליונה מאוד ומתפשטת עד העשיה, וע"י לימוד מקרא מברר מן העשיה, ולכן אין לקרוא מקרא בלילה לפי שמבררת מן העשיה והלילה בחינת עשיה, ואין ראוי לעורר הדינין. ע"כ שמעתי לפי הרשום בזכרוני. ולפי זה בחינת המקרא היא רחמים מדת יום, אך שיש לו כוח לברר בעשיה ומשו"ה אין לעורר הדינין"10.
ביאור הדברים כך הוא: אכן שורש התורה הוא חסד, אבל ההתעסקות בתורה שבכתב מעורר את התיקון בעולם העשיה ומעורר דינים.

רבי יקותיאל יהודה טייטלבוים, בעל 'אבני צדק', רבה של סיגט (תקס"ח-תרמ"ג), נשאל מאת רבי נפתלי שרייבר מו"צ בקליינורדיין, בעל 'מעטה נפתלי' (תלמיד בעל כתב סופר), היות והתחיל להרצות שיעור בלילה בחומש עם פירוש רש"י, לבו נוקפו שמא אינו נוהג כראוי ויש לחשוש לדעת המקובלים. רבה של סיגט דן בדברי המקובלים והוסיף להם תבלין: "על פי מה שכתב האר"י במקו"א כי תורה שבכתב הוא דין, ותורה שבע"פ הוא חסד... קורין מקרא שהוא דין, ובלילה שליטת הדין (פע"ח שער טו פ"ב) קורין משנה שהוא חסד לאכללא זה בזה ולהמתיק הדין", ומוסיף שלאור הקדמה זו מפרש האר"י את דברי הגמרא (מכות כב ע"א) "בספר תורה כתוב ארבעים יכנו, ואתי רבנן ובצרו חדא"11.
רבי שבתי ליפשיץ מו"ץ בעיר אורשיווא12תמה על דברי 'אבני צדק', מהמובאות בזוהר, שהתורה שבכתב היא בחינת חסד ושבע"פ היא מצד הדין, ונשאר בצ"ע, וממשיך: "וכן הראיתי דברי מרן לפני אדוני אבי [ר' יעקב יצחק] הק' המקובל13, ואמר לי שלא מוזכר כן בשום מקום בדברי המקובלים כמו שכתב מרן ז"ל"14.

וראה זה פלא. מצאתי כמה מגדולי רבני הונגריה שכתבו בדיוק כהני שני צדיקים לבית התמר, אם בשמם ולפעמים בעלום שמם. רבי יהודה מודרן מסיגט כתב מאמר בענין 'ונשלמה פרים שפתינו' בהקדם "על פי מ"ש האריז"ל כי תורה שבכתב דין, ותורה שבע"פ חסד"15, ובטוחני שלקחו מבעל ישמח משה. רבי שמואל דוד יונגרייז רבה של יארמוט (כיהן שם בין השנים תרכ"ח-תרנ"ב) נשאל מאת תושב עירו – רבי שמואל בלוי, האם נכון לחשוש לדברי האומרים שאין ללמוד מקרא בלילה, "והטעם הוא כי תורה שבכתב הוא דין, ותורה שבע"פ הוא חסד ולילה הוא שליטת הדינין...", הרי שנגרר בתר טעמו וחידושו של 'אבני צדק'16. רבי שאול בראך אב"ד קאשוי כותב בדרוש על הפסוק (תהלים יט יא) 'הנחמדים מזהב ומפז רב', שזהב מרמז לתורה שבכתב, "כפי שכתבו בשם האר"י הקדוש שהוא בבחינת דין" (מקורו בתקו"ז, תי' א), וכן מראה הזהב הוא דין, ו"מתוקים מדבש מנופת צופים" מרמז לתורה שבע"פ, (וכן כתב בזוהר פר' ויחי שתורה שבע"פ מרמזת לדבש17. רבי שלמה זלמן עהרנרייך, רבה של שאמלוי, ביאר את הרמז המפורסם על אותיות 'גמרא': גבריאל מיכאל רפאל אוריאל, על פי דברי הזוהר (?) שתורה שבכתב היא בבחינת דין ותורה שבע"פ היא בבחינת רחמים, ואסמכתא לכך, שעל פי תורה שבכתב אסור לעמוני ועמונית לבוא לקהל, ובאה תורה שבע"פ ודורש עמוני ולא עמונית! לפי זה מבאר את הרמז של אותיות גמרא, שאפילו גבריאל הוא מלאך של מידת הדין, מתהפך לרחמים, לכן גבריאל קודם למיכאל, שמתהפך מדין לרחמים18.

רבי ישראל אב"ד פיקוב ובארדיטשוב, בנו של בעל 'קדושת לוי', כתב כעין מהלכו של בעל 'אבני צדק', שלפעמים תושב"כ קודמת ולפעמים תורה שבע"פ קודמת. והכלל, כאשר ישראל צריכים למידת גבורה לעשות נקמה באויביהם – תושב"כ קודמת, וכשצריכים לרחמים – תורה שבע"פ קודמת. וכן מבואר בספר 'שערי אורה', כי תושב"כ מדת גבורה ותורה שבע"פ מדת הרחמים. וכן מרומז בזוהר (בראשית מח ע"ב): "אשר לקח מן האדם, בגין דהא מתורה שבכתב נפקת, לאשה דהא אורייתא מסטרא דגבורה אתייהבת"19.
אוסיף כאן שתי פרפראות הקשורות לענייננו.
יש אומרים שכפיית הר כגיגית היתה רק על תורה שבע"פ, מפני שיש בה דקדוקי מצות ויגיעה וצער, ובכך מתורצת קושיית התוס' למה היה צריך לכפות ההר כגיגית, הרי קיבלוה מרצון באמירתם "נעשה ונשמע", אלא שהקבלה מרצון היתה על תורה שבכתב, והכפייה היתה על תורה שבע"פ דייקא20. ויש לנמקו, הואיל ותורה שבע"פ היא ממידת הדין, קבלתה קשה טפי מתורה שבכתב!21.

חז"ל מוסרים (ירושלמי שקלים פ"ו ה"א) שהתורה היתה כתובה לפני הקב"ה אש שחורה על גבי אש לבנה, ורבי חיים פאלאג'י הוסיף על כך תבלין, שזה בא לרמז שתורה שבכתב היא אש לבנה שהיא בבחינת חסד, לעומת תורה שבע"פ שהיא בבחינת גבורה, היינו אש שחורה22

Guest Posting by Rabbi Yechiel Goldhaber


Blogger is not perfect and this is the reason why I switched the Guest Postings by Rabbi Yechiel Goldhaber from the top menu back into the regular label section (on the right side of the blog) ! Hopefully it will look more organized in the future !

Jerusalem's Chief Rabbinate (Rabbanut)

The main building of Jerusalem's Chief Rabbinate (Rabbanut HaRashit). The departments are divided between Sepharadim and Ashkenazim.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Picture of the Day


Photo: Kikar.Net

Monday, July 26, 2010

Planning for ELUL

Seen in the Machane Yehudah Market / Jerusalem: Rabbi Israel Odesser - the former spiritual head of the Nana - Breslovers.

Photo: Miriam Woelke


For one reason I cannot really figure out, I am always glad when the month of ELUL is coming in. Not necessarily because every other month is so bad but because of certain Baal Shem Tov ideologies. "The King is in the Field" - Who can resist this particular ELUL concept ?

We are going to celebrate Rosh Chodesh ELUL in about two weeks and I am planning many articles on the entire ELUL, Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot subject. Especially from the Sephardi as well as the Ashkenazi haredi point of view.

ISRAEL MUSEUM re - opened


It took three years of construction work to modernize the ISRAEL MUSEUM in Jerusalem. All those years, the museum just opened a few of its exhibitions. Last night, a big re - opening celebration took place. Now the visitors are able to see a modernized museum but what I noticed on the museum's homepage is that the entrance free was raised. From 40 to 48 Shekels for an adult !

Within the next weeks, I am going to see the new exhibitions despite the high entrance free. I hope it is worth the money !

Stolen Phone found its way Back


Almost three weeks, my brandnew cell phone got stolen in Tel Aviv. It wasn't easy for me at all to grasp that I had been robbed. I bought a new phone (a much better one) but I still preferred the camera in the stolen phone over the new model. 

One of the two thieves came back to the place where he stole the phone and he was recognized. Confronted with the pictures of the security camera, he admitted the theft and returned the phone. The people who caught him took his name and passport number and told him to leave immediately. Hence, he is still around in Tel Aviv. Rather stupid I have to say, after the things I was told about him. The phone is back and now I have two. What the thief did steal is the SIM card but never mind. 

Why no one went to the police ? In order to understand this, you have to know Israeli mentality. The police wouldn't do anything but just throw your complaint into the garbage can. Most places confronted with a theft deals with the matter alone. I have experienced this before.

Watch your belongings wherever you got !!! Even if you just go washing your hands in a cafe or restaurant !

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kamtza & Bar Kamtza


Tisha be'Av (9th Av) is over and we are already celebrating the "happy day" of Tu be'Av (15th Av) but I would still like to tell you a Talmudic story regarding Tisha be'Av. The famous story about "Kamtza and Bar Kamtza". The Gemara (Rabbinic discussions) in Gittin 55b - 56a teaches us that, as a result of the incident involving Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, Jerusalem was destroyed.

A certain man, who had a friend named KAMTZA and an enemy named BAR KAMTZA, made a banquet. He told his attendant: "Go and bring KAMTZA to join me at the banquet". The attendant went and mistakenly brought him BAR KAMTZA. When the host arrived at the banquet and found Bar Kamtza sitting there, he said to Bar Kamtza: "Look here, that man (you) is the enemy of that man (me). What do you want here ? - Get up and get out !" Bar Kamtza said to him: "Since I have come, let me stay, and I will give you of whatever I eat and drink".
The host said to Bar Kamtza: "No, I will not let you stay !"
Bar Kamtza said: "I will give you the value of half your banquet".
Again the host said no.
Bar Kamtza: "I will give you the value of your entire banquet".
The host said NO. He grabbed Bar Kamtza and threw him out.

Bar Kamtza said to himself: "Since the Rabbis were seated at the banquet and did not rebuke him for the way he treated me, it is evident that what he did was acceptable to them. I will go and spread slander against the Rabbis in the royal palace.

He went to Caesar (the term is sometimes used for a Roman emperor but also for those acting as his representative) and told him that the Jews have rebelled against Rome. Bar Kamtza said to Caesar: "Send them an animal as a sacrifice and see whether they offer it in their Temple !"

Caesar went and sent a fine calf with Bar Kamtza. As he was going to Jerusalem, Bar Kamtza caused a blemish in the calf's upper lip, or, as some say, he caused a cataract in the eye. The Rabbis considered offering it for the sake of peaceful relations with the Roman government. Rabbi Zechariya ben Avkulas said to them, "But people will then say that blemished animals may be offered on the Altar !"
The Rabbis considered killing Bar Kamtza so that he would not be able to go and tell Caesar that the offering had been refused. Rabbi Zechariya said to them, "But people will then say that one who blemishes consecrated animals is put to death !"

Rabbi Yochanan said: "The tolerance displayed by Rabbi Zechariya ben Avkulas in refusing to have Bar Kamtza put to death destroyed our Temple, burnt down our Sanctuary and exiled us from our land.



It states in Talmud Yoma 9b that the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred (Sinat Chinam).

The Talmudic commentator Maharsha states that the Rabbis were not in a position to speak up when the man threw out Bar Kamtza because of the host's great power.

Rashi states that a Gentile (in this case CAESAR) may voluntarily bring offerings to be sacrificed on the Altar in the Temple, the same as a Jew.

It is a Biblically prohibited to blemish an animal designated as an offering (Talmud Bechorot 33b). The prohibition carries the penalty of lashes; it is not a capital offense. People might mistakenly assume that Bar Kamtza was executed for violating this prohibition (Rashi).

In fact, the destruction of the Temple had already been Divinely decreed. This incident was effective only in causing the destruction to take place at that particular time. As far as the Temple was concerned, Caesar would have spared it had his sacrifice been offered in it. Now that his sacrifice was refused, he decided to destroy the Temple, arguing that it served him no purpose (the Maharsha).

Tu be'Av - 15th Av


Tonight (Sunday) + Monday, we are celebrating Tu Be' Av, the 15 of the Jewish month of Av.

Tu Be' Av is the so - called "Day of Love" and could be compared to Valentines Day. To many Jews, Tu Be' Av is an unknown holiday. Mourning the destruction of both Temples on Tisha Be' Av a week earlier is much more common than celebrating the Jewish "Valentine's Day" on 15th Av.

Tu Be' Av is a minor holiday from the Temple times. Then, Jewish singles use to go out into the fields and look for someone to marry. The Talmud explains the whole procedure and compares Tu Be' Av with Yom Kippur. It says in the Mishna in Taanit 26b as well as in the Gemarot in Taanit 30b and Bava Batra 121a that Israel had no days as festive as the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur.

What do have the fast day Yom Kippur and the happy day of Tu Be' Av in common ?First of all, both days are joyful days. On Yom Kippur, G - d forgives us our sins and we are thankful about it. Singles used both days to meet each other. Single meetings on Yom Kippur afternoon were quite common in those days. People would sit and talk, as there was not much to do anyway.

The above mentioned Talmud Tractates also teach that the singles dressed up in white clothes. Each of them wore the same having the advantage that no one could tell if someone was rich or poor. Everybody looked just equal and had the same chances. The Talmud also teaches that the clothes were borrowed and, therefore, had to be immersed into the Mikveh.
According to Rashi, the white clothes had to be immersed as there might be a suspicion that the real owner did not keep the family purity laws (Taharat HaMishpacha). Then female and male Jewish singles went out into the fields finding their match.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Today, we do not necessarily go out into the fields finding someone but maybe we should still see the day as something special. In Israel it is a great day because Israelis always look for something to celebrate. They do celebrate the regular Valentine's Day but also Tu Be' Av. Remembering Tu Be' Av is even more special, as it is a day our ancestors celebrated in Talmudic times. People usually buy flowers and cook a nice meal in the evening.

Have a great and successful (finding the right match) Tu Be' Av !

Photos from The Old City in Jerusalem


A few more pictures I took on Tisha be'Av last Monday night:

A model of the Temple Menorah: Now it can be found exhibited right across the Kotel (Western Wall) but in previous years, the Menorah was exhibited in the Cardo. According to the Rambam (see Mishna Torah, the Temple Menorah had a totally different shape !

The rebuilt CHURVA Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter.

The CARDO - a former Roman shopping street


In the Jewish / Armenian Quarter of the Old City.

Photos: Miriam Woelke

Friday, July 23, 2010

Parashat Va'etchana

Photo: Miriam Woelke


I feel a kind of guilty because I haven't even found the time writing about the ARI (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria) who had his Yahrzeit exactly a week ago. However, I am just a "one - man - show" with my blogs and don't have too many guest articles. Unfortunately I am not a full - time blogger but need to work besides the blogging.

Moreover, I am going to publish a famous Talmudic story on Tisha be'Av on Sunday.

This week's Torah Parasha is called "Va'etchanan". Moshe is asking G - d if he (Moshe) could not at least see and enter the Land (of Israel). G - d doesn't want to change His mind but allows Moshe to see the land.
"Look at it with YOUR EYES", G - d says.
Rashi is asking the question why G - d tells Moshe to look with HIS eyes. What other eyes could he have used but his ?
Rashi answers that this way, G - d granted Moshe at least one of his two requests: Seeing the land.

The Or HaChaim and also kabbalistic sources ask what effects it would have caused, if Moshed had entered the land. Some say that Meshiach would have come right away. The Or HaChaim states that G - d may have not destroyed the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) in case Moshe had been around. However, G - d had other plans and wants every individual Jew to fulfill his own Tikun (soul rectification). If Moshe had entered the land, he may have rectified all Jewish souls and this is exactly what G - d doesn't seem to want. He wants each of us getting involved and acting and not only one individual for all of us. Everyone has his own task in life and this is why he was created.

Going to Jerusalem in a few hours, I wish you a great Shabbat with lots of rest.

"Shabbat Shalom - Gut Schabbes" to all of you !

"Kinderjohren" - Yiddish Cracow


For those stressing modesty (Zniut):

The following song is sung by a woman !



The famous CAIRO GENIZAH went online

Warning: False Tour Guides in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv


A Tel Aviv local paper is mentioning a problem I have been noticing for a longer period of time. Although the paper is only referring to false tour guides in Tel Aviv, I want to do the same for the haredi / chassidic world.

False tour guides are walking around in Jerusalem. Seemingly tours around the haredi / chassidic world attract many people and false guides have discovered the topic as an income source. Without any deeper knowledge about religion, without ever having studied at Yeshivot or seminaries, without ever having been part of the haredi world, totally secular tour guides offer their services. For plenty of money and I am sure that none of them is paying any taxes on that but just putting the money into one's own pocket.

Googling through Wikipedia, stealing information from this and other blogs, secular tour guides present false tours in order to cheat their listeners and make money.

In case you are planning to book such a tour:

1. Check whether the tour guide is a real historian or specialist on the subject. If he / she has recommendations, certificates, university degrees.

2. Check whether the tour guide has an official permission from the Ministry of Tourism.

3. Get receipts for the money you paid. Say that you need a receipt for the tax office.

4. If you are interested in REAL information, get in touch with some chassidic communities such as BELZ and book a tour. Stress that you want a chassidic guide from the particular group. Some haredi communities offer tours mostly for free. If you are interested in Belz, I am able to get you any further information. The same with Karlin - Stolin, Dushinsky, Toldot Aharon, Toldot Avraham Yitzchak, Rudzhin - Boyan,Vishnitz (Bnei Brak) or Kretchnif (Jerusalem).

5. Be aware because today, many unqualified people start calling themselves experts, kabbalists or historians. Most of them are not but just fakes (Cash Cows).

6. Interested in a great author on the chassidic world ? Get hold of the books wirtten by YITZCHAK ALFASSI (a Gerrer / Gur Chassid). Alfassi is THE absolute authority !!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Are Baalei Teshuva better than FFBs ?


I know a young Sephardi woman running a certain kind of business in Jerusalem. She must be in her 30ies and, a few years ago, she became religious. This kind of Breslov - Rabbi Arush type.
For her, Baalei Teshuva are the greatest people ever and I usually avoid talking to her about religious matters. At least since I had a fight about Rabbi Arush with her. About his money collecting system and that most of his students are rather weird figures. In Jerusalem, Arush is well - known for his "kind of students".

However, the woman admires Rabbi Arush and I am fine with that as long as she keeps quiet when she speaks to me. Yesterday she caught a Haredi guy in a not too modest situation but a few minutes later it turned out that the Haredi was completely innocent. The particular situation had just left a false impression but when you looked closer, nothing had ever happened.

The woman started telling me how first she thought bad about the haredi guy but then got to know the whole picture. I told her that she should come to Tel Aviv and have a look how certain Haredim from Jerusalem or Bnei Brak behave there. At the public beach, for instance.
I should have known better and kept quiet because immediately the woman accused me of "Lashon HaRah - talking slander". I would only look at the bad sides and how do I know at all. Because I surely don't know anything about religion and the haredi world.

I responded that, first of all, I have been in that world and secondly, we are all human beings and thus have our faults. Also Haredim.
"Well, she said, if someone haredi is sinning, so it is just those who were born haredi. A Baal Teshuva doesn't stare at bikini wearing women at the beach because he has seen enough in his life and is now making Teshuva. There would be such incredible stories about every Baal Teshuva and a guy at the age of 39 becoming religious doen't sin anymore but only the Frum from Birth.

I told her that this is not true at all. Everyone has negative ideas and thoughts. A FFB Haredi may be curious about an unknown world but a Baal Teshuva may suddenly miss his old life and continue his misdeeds. Why should he be better than a born Haredi ?

I don't know what Baalei Teshuva are being taught by their Rabbis today but we shouldn't forget that we are human beings. And humans have their faults. No matter to which society I belong.

What I have noticed in Jerusalem is a certain kind of Baal Teshuva opinion towards born Haredim. Is it due to jealousy because most born Haredim never totally accept a BT within their society ? Could be.
I was a Baal Teshuva in the haredi society but never tried squeezing myself in. Some BTs push themselves so much upon born Haredim that they simply go on everyone's nerves. A BT should take it easy, as he is doing Teshuva to perfect HIMSELF and not in order to show other how great he is. Once you follow this principle, you will be much happier with yourself and the haredi society.

Sikarikim at the Post Office


Once again, Jerusalem's Sikarikim made headlines in the haredi press. The secular press seem to have overlooked the incident happening a few days ago.

Some Neturei Karta Sikarikim entered a post office near the haredi Ge'ulah neighbourhood and demanded from the manager to turn off the advertising screens because the commercials (e.g. women appearing) shown there wouldn't be too modest. The manager refused and the Sikarikim made a fuss.

Before they even entered the post office, they had pushed the guard aside and he had called the police. Result: The Sikarikim were thrown out of the post office.

So far, no other Haredi have complained about the commercials on the screens.

New Virus in GMAIL accounts


GMAIL users watch out, as a new virus is going around !

A friend of mine sent me the following details:

* I opened my Gmail this morning and saw an email: Google Accounts: Alert (Note: it was 24 hours old)
* When I opened it the message stated that accounts were being selected at random to be deleted and if I wished to keep my account I should send in my Name, DOB, Password, etc.
* I figured it for a scam and started a check with Google forums.
* Meanwhile, a second message came in--attached to the original. This one said that Google Database was over loaded and if I wished to keep my account to send in the same info I mentioned above.
* While I was in the forums My Gmail signed off on its own
* I could not log in again
* I tried to have my password reset but that didn't work
* I had to report my account as compromised--Google uses a process to send a new password to a "secondary" contact email
* I had to clear my cache and cookies, close the browser and finally I could log in with my new password

Please Publish to your Readers:
If you receive a message with the subject: Google Accounts: Alert or just Google Accounts


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I am "JEWISH ?" and I love You


Israel's Supreme Court is planning a final verdict on an interesting subject (crime):

Is a Gentile who deliberately tells an Israeli Jewish woman that he is Jewish, guilty of committing a crime ?

More and more Israelis are complaining to the police that their partner, who is supposed to be Jewish, is turning out as a Gentile. Before the Jewish person began the relationship, the partner had claimed to be Jewish and thus lied.

I cannot say that it is common among religious circles to just grab someone from the street and starting a relationship. As we all know, frum Jews go through Shidduchim or, at least, certain ways of recommandation. The result is that such surprises wouldn't happen to them although I know cases where the Rabbanut (Chief Rabbinate) had someone registered as Jewish and it turned out later that there was a halachic questionmark.

Secular Jews, however, don't pay too much attention and when someone says he is Jewish, so they, more or less, believe it. Our present society is full of questionable halachic Jews and plenty of Israelis who come from a mixed marriage where the mother wasn't Jewish. The Reform movement as well as liberal laws are causing an identity problem in our society. Who is who in Israel ? I find it quite sad that you have to check with the Rabbanut and other institutions whether your friend / spouse is really Jewish. A sad reality today !

The Inner Mystery of Judaism


From the OROT (LIGHTS) of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (first chief rabbi of Palestine, died in 1936):

The Gentiles defiled revealed Judaism by their touch; they touched the holy oils and rendered them impure. The stones of the holy altar were made unfit. However, the inner mysteries (of Judaism) that are hidden and sealed from foreign touch retained their sanctity - but only the most soulful inwardness, for the (outer) expressions of the mysteries were already desecrated by intruders. This inwardness, which is the soul of the supernal soul, is fixed in the characteristic soul of Israel, and never moves thence, as long as the connection to the totality of the nation and its character lives in its midst, as long as it desires at all the well - being and success of the Israelite nation. Though it does not know to call by the Name and enunciate its mysteries, and even if it errs in its deeds and opinions - its inside is the holy of holies.

Despite Rabbi Kook wrote this a long time ago, nothing has changed under the sun !

Picture of the Day

Seen in Tel Aviv

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Erev Tisha be'Av in Jerusalem

"Yassam" cops were, together with the army's border police "Mishmar HaGvul" securing the annual Tisha be'Av march around the Old City walls organized by the "Women in Green" and their head, the right - wing activist Nadja Matar.

"Eretz Israel belongs to the Jews" - so the slogan of last night's march. Before the march, "Megillat Eicha" was read at the Independence Park. Afterwards we started marching down to the New Gate, Damascus Gate, Lion Gate (all in East Jerusalem) and the Dung Gate in front of the Kotel (Western Wall) Plaza.

In previous years, thousands of mostly national religious Israel participated but last night there were only about 1000 people.

Here are some impressions from last night, Erev Tisha be'Av 5770:

Yoram Ettinger (Expert in US relations) gave a speech before the march.

Down to Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem

Damascus Gate
Usually not a save place to go for Jews because the area is known as Hamas territory.

Further down at Damascus Gate used to be one of the main entrances to the Beit HaMikdash (Temple).

Israeli soldiers everywhere in order to protect the march participants from potential Arab extremists.

At the Lion Gate the march stopped and Rabbi Shalom Gold as well as Knesset member Aryeh Eldad and activist Nadja Matar made speeches. The speeches were mostly political and Nadja Matar remembered the withdraw from Gush Katif five years ago.

Nadja Matar and Knesset member Aryeh Eldad

We also passed Avshalom's grave (King David's son).

Temple Mount with Al Aksa Mosque

Mourning Kinot at the Kotel (Western Wall)

Kotel Mezuza

Further photos are following: The rebuild Churvah Synagogue and the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem !

Photos: Miriam Woelke