No 1426: 12 Sivan 5772 (2 June 2012) AS SHABBAT APPROACHES
Self Mortification or Asceticism? - by Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg, Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavne
"'And he shall be atoned for sinning with respect to (coming in contact with a dead) person' [Bamidbar 6:11] – according to one interpretation in the Midrash, the sin was more general in that he refrained from drinking wine. But this leads us to a kal vachomer – a logical inference. The nazir, who only suffered by avoiding wine, is called a sinner. Thus, somebody who suffers by refraining from all food must surely be considered a sinner! The conclusion is that anybody who fasts can be considered a sinner." [Nedarim 10a].
On the other hand, many other statements praise asceticism, implying the opposite of the above declaration of Devarim. "One who fasts is called holy, a kal vachomer from a nazir" [Taanit 11a]. If he is called holy for refraining from wine, than clearly one who fasts from all food should be considered holy.
The Ramchal discussed this contradiction in his chapter in Messilat Yesharim on the subject of perishut – asceticism. He notes a number of other apparent contradictions in the words of the sages. He concludes that some types of asceticism are permitted and some types are prohibited. Pursuit of worldly pleasures as such is a danger and may put a person on a path of decline, and therefore this should be avoided. But there is a type of asceticism that is inherently bad, and that happens when a person refrains from partaking of things that are permitted to him or her, making his body suffer for a lack of things which are appropriate for him. Here is how he ends his words:
"And there you have the real principle. Whatever a person does not really need in this world should be avoided, but with respect to whatever he or she needs - for whatever reason – it is a sin to refrain from enjoying it."
A person's body belongs to the Master of the World, who gave it to him or her as "a garment" for the soul. Therefore, not only is harming the body prohibited, our task is to make sure that the body remains healthy and strong. We must eat well, rest, exercise, and maintain our fitness. This is our obligation with respect to the Holy One, Blessed be He, who gave us the use of the body. And that is why Hillel commented on his morning meal with the words of the verse, "one who provides for himself is a man of kindness" [Mishlei 11:17]. At the same time, one should avoid glorifying the body and transforming it into a goal in itself.
Many industries have grown up in modern times related to exercise and nutrition. We should remember the motto, "A healthy soul in a healthy body." As the Rambam writes, "If somebody loses his appetite, he should wake it up with spicy food. And if somebody becomes melancholy, he should remove the feeling by listening to music and by walking through gardens. The point of this is to keep his body healthy. And the objective of having a healthy body is to be able to gather wisdom." [Shemona Perakim, Chapter 8].
The Torah did not call every nazir who abstained from drinking wine a "sinner" – but only one who became ritually impure during the time of his vow. That is, not every nazir is a sinner, only one who became impure. In this way, he was given a heavenly message that he was not worthy of having taken the vow of abstinence, and that he wanted to reach a station that is beyond his real value. Since he took on himself self mortification beyond his true value, his vow was interrupted in the middle.
POINT OF VIEW
The Wrong Battleground
The line of fire in the controversy between settlements and the Israeli Supreme Court has moved from Migron to the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, where it is burning brightly at the present time. From there the front is scheduled to move on to Givat Assaf and Amona, and then to spread to the entire area of Yehuda and the Shomron. The relevant settlements were all built with government approval and with official support of government offices. Only after several years were legal questions raised about the ownership of the land. Everybody admits that nobody was forcefully removed from this land. No buildings were erected on agricultural land or on any land that was known to belong to specific owners, nobody was knowingly rejected from the land. It is also well known that political organizations which object to the settlement stand behind these efforts and fan the flames of controversy, something which they feel is justified. Thus, everybody is aware that the real issue here is the vision of settlement expansion as opposed to the leftist pro-Palestinian front, and that the Supreme Court is an artificial arena for this struggle. Actually, to say that "everybody knows" that this is an artificial arena is not really true. This statement may be true for everybody except the Supreme Court judges. The judges, led by Chief Justice Asher Grunis, act as if they have just landed from Mars and as if nothing else is relevant except for the papers before the courts.
Supreme Court Justice It may surprise my readers to hear that in principle I agree with the reasons given for the recent decision refusing to give the government an extension on the order to destroy five large buildings in the Ulapana neighborhood (with thirty families). The government's request for an extension was accompanied by a bumbling statement that "every case of building on private Palestinian property will be analyzed in accordance with a new evaluation of priorities in enforcing the law in Yehuda and the Shomron." The panel of judges, led by the Chief Justice Asher Grunis, rejected this appeal, making use of a recurring theme about the importance of "finality of court proceedings," without any hint that the matter has political overtones. Here is what they wrote:
"The government has not brought any exceptional reasons for reopening the discussion after the decision was reached. An injunction was declared, and the government replied with a guarantee to act in a certain way... The principle of fulfilling government promises and maintaining the integrity of a formal ruling is of great importance... The main point of departure is that a judicial ruling limits any further discussion. This is based on the principle of 'an act of a court of law'... Aside from considerations of the finality of a judgment and protection of the personal rights of the plaintiff, there is also a basic principle of observing court rulings. This basic principle guarantees that no judicial proceedings will be made into a useless act..."
As far as I am concerned, the above statement is correct, and the state's attorney and the government "deserve" what they got, receiving a cut-and-dry response to their cut-and-dry request. There is absolutely no reason for the court to rule otherwise, except that I would have expected to have seen a "public side" to the ruling which would also mention the true political background of this matter. Perhaps the judges should have sent the two sides to try and solve the dispute in a more appropriate venue.
To Bypass or to Follow the Lead And so it is – in the appropriate forum, the Knesset, a law has been proposed which offers other land as a replacement ("as close as possible to the residence of the private owners") together with compensation of 50% of the value of the disputed land. It may surprise my readers to learn, as I did, that the proposed law is not written in principle and for a general case but is rather specifically linked to the four settlements in the area of Binyamin that I listed above. Perhaps the appropriate name for the law would be a variation on the theme of "what Binyamin said" – with an intentional hint of the name not only of the area involved but of the man who stands at the head of the government...
All things considered, people who uphold the laws in principle, such as myself, are justified in feeling that the law should not be turned into a laughing matter, and that "the finality of judgment" is indeed an important principle. Let us thus be explicit and take the bull by the horns: Making a law to bypass the Supreme Court – such as a general law arranging matters ("chok hasdara") – is not a dirty word. This is a legitimate and perfectly acceptable device. Perhaps the word "bypass" is not very elegant and is a bit sharp for the lips of legal minds. I would call such a law one that "corresponds" to the principles of the Supreme Court. (In Hebrew, the difference is a single letter: a bypass law is "okef," while we propose a law that is "okev," following the lead of the court.)
Decrees that Bypass the Halacha
The Torah of Yisrael, often called the "Hebrew legal system" in government and court circles, is absolutely full of "decrees that bypass the halacha," and this is legitimate. Such decrees are testimony of the vitality and fresh approach of the halacha. In an article that I wrote in Volume 21 of Techumin ("Halachic devices in public decrees"), I list 18 such "bypass" decrees – starting from the time of the "Pruzbull" instituted by Hillel, through the "eiruv wire" and on to "gramma" mechanisms used by the Zomet Institute. All of these devices are accepted and in use, and they are real. In no way do they encroach on the principles of the halacha – rather they are an expression of the fact that the Torah is a living and vital approach and does not appear as the picture of an angel holding a threatening sword.
Well, the Binyamin settlements, which are indeed under threat of a sword, have been graced with legitimacy in the halls of the "Hebrew legal system." In Voluem 32 of Techumin, which has just been published, Rabbi Yaacov Ariel wrote an article on the topic, "A Settlement Erected on Stolen Land" (page 203). He tends to think that such a settlement can continue to exist, based on land decrees by our sages – such as the law of "a stolen beam" used to construct a home, and "one who builds in a field belonging to a colleague," among others. This approach is also valid in the private sphere, without any link to ideologies or politics.
Shame on dry and destructive legality – Long live the law of the Torah, which supports expanded construction!
SOMETHING FOR THE SOUL
Why do we Depend on a Miracle? - by Rabbi Shlomo Levy, Rosh Yeshivat Hesder Rishon Letzion and Head of the Torah Garin
This week's Torah portion includes the process of examining a Sottah, a woman suspected by her husband of infidelity. "And the Kohen shall bring her and stand her up before G-d. And the Kohen shall take holy water... and the Kohen should take some of the earth on the floor of the Tabernacle and put it in the water... and He shall give it to the woman to drink..." [Bamidbar 5:17-18,27].
In his commentary on the Torah, the Ramban notes the unique character of the mitzva of the Sottah, in that it is the only commandment that depends on the occurrence of a miracle. He adds that this miracle continued to occur as long as the nation observed the will of G-d. The Ramban explains the goal of the miraculous examination as follows: "Out of His desire for justice, He wants to purify Yisrael, so that they will be worthy of having the Shechina appear among them."
That is, in general the legal system, including Hebrew law, is based on the rules of evidence. The judge hears testimony, studies it, and makes a ruling based on his impression. But since this reasoning by the judges is a human process there is a possibility that a mistake will be made. In spite of this consideration, the Torah allows the judges to decide the law because "He gave the earth to human beings" [Tehillim 115:16]. The task of man is to try to reach true justice and to repair creation as much as he can. And even if some mistake is made in the details, this does not negate the general principle that justice has been served.
However, in deciding whether a Sottah is impure or not the Torah refused to accept the reasoning of the judges. This is a case which requires absolute and Divine judgment, without any room for a mistake. The existence of any unfaithful woman who remains with her husband can block the appearance of the Shechina in the community of Yisrael, and such a level of national harm cannot be tolerated. Therefore, the Ramban writes, G-d kept the process of judgment in His own hands, since the Almighty knows all and nothing is hidden from Him. Such a trial cannot be left in human hands.
And this also explains why the existence of the miracle is dependent on having the majority of the nation observe the will of G-d. If this is not true, G-d forbid, then the people as a whole have prevented the Shechina from appearing in their midst. In that case, the miracle of the Sottah to facilitate the appearance of the Shechina would not serve any purpose.
The lesson to be learned is that the evil actions of a single woman have the power to harm the entire nation. All of Yisrael are united into a single entity, and any fault of a single person harms the entire community.
The Retribution of the Water Or Hachaim has another deep insight, based on another element that appears in this week's Torah portion. The entire world, at all levels, yearns to be close to G-d. The earth of the floor of the Tabernacle and the holy water that was consecrated in the basin are privileged to become close to G-d and they are therefore very happy.
When the water and the earth enter into a woman who sinned and descend from their high spiritual level close to G-d in the Tabernacle to the low pit of the insides of a woman who did such a serious sin, they sense this downfall. The resulting disappointment is beyond description.
The natural reaction to this situation is for the earth and the water to want to avenge themselves on the woman who brought them such humiliation. They therefore become transformed into "bitter water" which brings about her death.
The Unity of Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Elements We can conclude from the approach of Or Hachaim that not only is the entire nation of Israel a single unit, but the world as a whole is a single entity and that human actions have an effect on all elements of creation - animal, vegetable, and mineral.
This idea is expressed by Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin in the book "Nefesh Hachaim" in a remarkable way, adding a deeper level to our understanding. Not only is our existing world a single entity, but all the worlds taken together are a single unified entity:
"Here is the way of the world. Let no man say, 'Who am I, what power do I have with my lowly actions to make any change in the world?' A person should understand in his heart that all the details of his actions, his speech, and his thoughts at any moment in time... rise up to correspond with their roots and act at the highest levels – in the glow of highest level of light."
A WOMAN'S ANGLE
Everybody is Perfect – They all Received the Torah - by Molly Green, Author and Journalist, Beitar
"Dear Mother: You are invited to a Shavuot party that will take place in our kindergarten this Tuesday at nine o'clock."
As soon as I saw this, I immediately conjured up the images of all the hyperactive "perfect" mothers, who always prepare a home baked cake for the parties – those who are always on the parents' committee, whether officially or not, women whom I admire so much. You can always read about them in articles and columns. Like the mother who goes to work at eight o'clock but is back home by one o'clock to greet her children. She will always turn up at the kindergarten party with a glorious homemade cake.
I thought about this perfect woman, the object of jealousy by many other mothers, while I finished telling Oshri a story, dropped Shoshi off at her dancing lessons, and rushed to our local bakery to buy a simple marble cake. With the help of my girls, I added some icing to the cake, and it was ready for the party.
The day of the party arrived. Before bedtime, we all suddenly woke up to the fact that it was already a quarter to eight!
"Hurry up, we have a party to get to. Where is the white blouse that we got ready yesterday? Where is it?" With a beating heart, I pulled a white blouse from a pile of (clean) laundry which I had not yet managed to fold. I rushed to iron it, while everybody else moved around quickly, getting ready. Hurry! Hurry! Comb her hair, give her a special ponytail, put a ribbon in her hair. It goes without saying that I did not have the time to give my very precious daughter the special hairdo that I had planned.
I arrived at the party at five after nine (we had been invited at nine). This was perfectly acceptable.
"With the other one, the perfect mother, this would not have happened," I said to myself, as I put the malicious marble cake from the bakery on the table. I could feel the icing winking at me. I was trying to fool everybody.
"You look wonderful!" Shiri said as she slapped me on the back. Shiri's breakfasts were stiff competition for all the leading hotels. She took a breakfast snack out of her bag, because she did not have any time to eat it before. "A very special mother," Tamar added. She really was the most perfect mother of the entire kindergarten – her children were always perfectly groomed. "How do you manage it all? I spend all day long in a race against time and chasing myself."
And only then did everything fall into place. The perfect mother does not really exist. We invented her to make ourselves feel better (you must admit that self pity is a pleasant feeling).
The truth is that everybody looked at me as the perfect mother, and they refused to hear any of my stories. The cake that I bought and decorated with my own icing was prominently displayed on the table that the kindergarten teacher had provided. Efrat said to me with great enthusiasm, "Wow, Molly. You even had time to make a cake!" She was holding a tray of blintzes filled with cheese and berries, and her voice had a touch of jealousy. Could it be that she bought the blintzes too and the only thing that she prepared was the whipped cream?
And my daughter, even without the very special blouse with the silver-plated buttons and without the magnificent hairdo that I had planned, sat there glowing and clean, in a freshly laundered white blouse. She looked like a million dollars.
Anybody looking on from the sidelines would think, "Wow! She managed to bake a cake, dress her daughter – one of eleven children – and even to arrive on time!"
What is my point? I want to share with you my insight about the affair. There is no such thing as a perfect mother. Every mother is perfect in her own way.
You bought a cake and knew how to cut it, to make your children happy. You are careful to speak kindly to your children and tell them stories, even if this happens while you are doing other work and not reading from a book. You may have made a decision not to be on the parents' committee because you do not have much time, and you prefer to spend quality time with your children and not with other parents. You are also a perfect mother. And the other one, you who are on the committee and know how to schedule your time in a way that shows how dedicated you are to the community – without a doubt you are a perfect mother.
Every one of us is perfect, and every one of us is not perfect. And that is the essence of real perfection.
A LESSON FOR THE CHILDREN
Taking Holy Things out of the Mouth - by Rabbi Yikhat Rozen, Director of the Or Etzion Institute – Publishing Torah Books of Quality
"Harness the horses, get onto the carriage, and get going," the Rebbi, the "Holy Jew," said to his disciple, Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Pshisscha (who would later become a famous Chassidic rabbi on his own).
Rabbi Simcha Bunim did not understand these instructions. Where should he go? Why? But he had learned long ago that when the Rebbe gave a command, you listened. Asking questions was pointless. The Rebbe clearly knew what he was doing... And Simcha Bunim could only hope that he, the messenger, would know the answers to all of his questions at the end of his journey.
So Rabbi Bunim went outside and prepared the carriage and the horses for a trip and asked several of the Chassidim to join him. The wagon flew over the road for hours, without the riders knowing where they were going. The sun set, night came, and at a turn in the road they could see some light. They were approaching a small village. The men decided to spend the night in the village and to continue on their way in the morning. After a short search they found the local inn, which as was quite common in those years, belonged to a Jew.
The Chassidim stopped their carriage next to the inn. They went inside and asked to stay for the night. The owner, a very heftily built Jew, came out to them and roared, "Welcome, friends, what would you like to eat?"
The men looked at each other, bewildered, wondering if they could be sure that the food in this place was kosher. To be on the safe side, they asked only for cheese and bread, knowing that even a simple village Jew could be trusted about such food.
But the man said, "We do not have any cheese. The menu here is only meat: breast, shoulder, ribs, broiled. You can have whatever you want." One of the Chassidim asked, "Who slaughtered the animal?" the man said, "Everything here is kosher, you can trust me, Moshiko! If Rabbi Shmuel, the shochet of the village, slaughtered the animal and took care of the meat you can accept it calmly! Do you really think that I would feed fellow Jews unkosher meat?"
One man whispered suspiciously, "Who is this Rabbi Shmuel? Does he really know the laws of slaughtering?" And another replied, also whispering, "How can we know the answer? Here is this tiny village, with a handful of Jews, among all the non-Jews who raise pigs. What kind of a Jew would want to live here? I cannot believe that any Torah scholar would live here."
And then another man turned to the owner of the inn, and he asked: "Tell me, please, what do you do to the meat after you slaughter the animal? Do you salt it and 'kasher' it, do you rinse the salt off? Do you broil the liver? Is there anybody here who really knows the details of all these laws?"
Suddenly, a quiet voice could be heard. "My Chassidim..." Behind the large furnace there was a depression in the wall with a cot in it. An old man suddenly sat up on the cot. His beard was disheveled, his clothing was torn, and his worn-out shoes had seen better days. "What righteous men you are. I see that you are very careful about checking anything that enters your mouth." And by now, everybody was listening carefully to his words. "You did not forget to ask who slaughtered the meat, you tried to determine what he really knows, you asked about salting the meat, and about broiling it. I can see that you are experts in the laws of kosher meat, and you know what to ask and what to check out."
The Chassidim smiled at each other, satisfied and enjoying the compliments that the old man who they did not know had given them.
And then the old man raised his voice. "But, my brothers, the question is if just like you so carefully check what goes into your mouths you also check what comes out. Do you know what it means to show respect for the person standing opposite you? You want to gently probe to see if the local shochet knows the details of the halacha? Okay, but why do you show disrespect? Why do you whisper to each other and make jokes? Why do you ask in such a haughty way and give the impression that you are the only ones who know anything, that nobody else knows the law? I agree that G-d wants us to watch over the purity of the food we put into our mouths, but at the same time He demands that we watch over the purity of our speech, whatever comes out of our mouths."
The old man finished speaking, and he returned to his cot in the depression in the wall.
The Chassidim looked down at the ground in shame. Now they knew exactly why their Rebbe had sent them on a journey to this village...
(Source: Simcha Raz, "Stories of Tzadikim")
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HALACHA FROM THE SOURCE
The Blessings for "Krembo" and an Ice Cream Cone - by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, Rabbi of Southern Alon Shevut and a teacher in Yeshivat Har Etzion
Note: "Krembo" is a popular Israeli snack consisting of chocolate-covered beaten egg whites on a wafer.
What is the blessing for a Krembo? What blessing should be said for eating ice cream in a cone?
In the previous article we saw that the blessing for a baked cheese cake is "mezonot," even though the cheese is the important element for us, because the base of the cake, which is made of dough, is halachically considered the "main element." The same is true for any chocolate snack where the taste of the flour is substantial and adds to the enjoyment – in this case the blessing is mezonot.
However, we are now discussing a different case: This is not really a mixture but two separate elements, the cone and the ice cream. There are three possibilities: (1) Recite one blessing, mezonot, because the cone is made from an important material; (2) Recite only "shehakol," because the cone is there merely to hold the ice cream, and it is therefore a minor item; (3) To say shehakol for the ice cream and mezonot for the cone, since each component is a different food.
It is written in the Shulchan Aruch that one who eats cooked fruit on top of a wafer should not recite any blessing for the wafer but only for the fruit (168:8). The question is why this is so, since the blessing for the wafer is mezonot, and it is a more important food. The Mishna Berura explains, "One does not intend to eat the wafer, rather it is used to protect the hands from becoming dirty from the fruit. Therefore the wafer is considered to be a minor item." . That is, no blessing is to be recited if the person does not derive pleasure from the dough.
However, the rule is different if the baked food has its own taste and is eaten because of this taste. The Mishna Berura adds:
"Recent rabbis have written that in our country, where the fruit is put on honey cakes that are tasty and also eaten as a separate food – such that the person intends to eat the honey cake too – this becomes the main ingredient and the blessing is mezonot, which then also covers the fruit. It is clear that all of this is true when the two foods are baked together. But if the honey cake is baked separately and the fruit is added on top later it does not become minor as compared to the honey cake, because the person intends to eat both foods (and the purpose of the fruit is not merely to flavor the honey cake). Then a blessing is required for the fruit too."
Thus, the Mishna Berura explains that a blessing of mezonot is sufficient only if all the ingredients are baked together. But when two items are prepared separately and then put together, like ice cream and a cone, the person enjoys each one separately. Then two blessing are required – mezonot (before taking a taste of the cone) and shehakol (before tasting the ice cream). The same rule applies to Krembo – two blessings should be recited because it consists of two separate items.
If a person does not like to eat the dough in a cheesecake (or the cone of an ice cream) and uses it only to hold the main ingredient (cheese or ice cream), then he or she should only recite the shehakol.
Blessings for food items combining "mezonot" and "shehakol"
1) When baked together
1a – For example: cheesecake, chocolate-coated snacks with grains
1b – One blessing: mezonot
2) When prepared separately
2a – For example: an ice cream cone, Krembo
2b – Two blessings: mezonot and shehakol
3) The person does not enjoy the mezonot at all
3a – For example, the cheesecake was not successful, or the person does not like the cone
3b – One blessing: shehakol
SOMETHING ABOUT BOOKS
A Literary Rabbi - by Rabbi Yoseph Leichter, The National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
Before the giving of the Torah, Moshe was commanded, "This is what you shall say to the House of Yaacov and tell the Children of Yisrael" [Shemot 19:3]. Rashi explains, "The House of Yaacov refers to the women, who should be spoken to in a pleasant voice." The question of teaching girls about the mitzvot was a constant issue for the great men of Yisrael. The general practice was for the girls to learn the traditions from their mothers and to pass them on to their own daughters. But during the long years of exile there were times of great upheaval, exile, and forced conversions, and there was a danger that the traditions might be forgotten. Some Torah scholars therefore wrote books especially geared to the women of the nation. At the time of Rabbi Yosef Karo and Rabbi Moshe Isserlish, a special book was written in Yiddish for women by Rabbi Binyamin Aharon Solnik (author of the book Mas'eitBinyamin). His book in Yiddish was MitzvotHanashim – the mitzvot of women (Krakow 5337 – 1577). Other known books are MaayanTohar by Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum and Amira L'vait Yaacov by Rabbi Yitzchak Dov Bamberger. Both books were appended to prayer books meant for women.
Rabbi Yissachar Dov (Ber) Frank (5537 – 7 Nissan 5605, 1777-1845) was a prolific author who wrote several books in Yiddish in order to teach women. Rabbi Yissachar Dov was born in Pressburg (Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia). His father, Rabbi Gershon Halevi, was a descendent of a rich Sephardi family in Turkey. As a young man, he was involved in commerce. In his travels he reached Pressburg, where he encountered a religious and G-d-fearing community. The young merchant decided to remain there and married a local girl. He was called "Frank," meaning Sephardi, and this became the family name. In his youth, his son Rabbi Yissachar Dov studied with the rabbis of the city who were also the heads of the local yeshivot. When he was about twenty-five he was appointed the "shamash" of Pressburg, in the capacity of the secretary of the community. He wrote the records books in a beautiful handwriting and in a unique style. He decorated his writing with his own drawings. He drew the most famous picture of Rabbi Moshe Sofer (the Chatam Sofer). In order to pay for the wedding of his daughter with Rabbi Menachem Katz Prostitz, Rabbi Yissachar printed the picture and sold it. The Chatam Sofer criticized him for this, but it is to his credit that we still have a likeness of the Chatam Sofer. Rabbi Yissachar served as the shochet, the ritual slaughterer of the community.
In addition to his many formal duties, Rabbi Yissachar Frank continued his writing. In 5566 (1806), he translated Megillat Matityahu, which is about the story of Chanukah, into Yiddish. This was reprinted several times. In 5566 (1806), he published Machaneh Yisrael. The first word is an acronym for "kashering, chalah, nida, and candle lighting" – mitzvot that are the responsibility of the woman in the house. His books interspersed halacha with lessons of Mussar and Agada. Here is a quote from the introduction:
"I have translated these mitzvot into Yiddish so that the women will know how to read them... I wrote in a clear language so that the women who read it will not be disgusted by what is written, as I saw happened to another ancient book, which gives the laws of nida and challa in Yiddish, as brought by the RAMA and in Darchei Moshe in Yoreh Dei'ah 190. But not one woman in our days brings this book home... because they do not know Yiddish well enough..."
The Chatam Sofer, the rabbi of Pressburg, wrote a letter of approval for the book. But when it was published Rabbi Yissachar had many fears, as he notes in the introduction to his book Machaneh Yissachar:
"It is about five years since I published the book Machaneh Yisrael... From the time that it was published I did not stop worrying that I would incur the anger of the scholars... lest the critical eye of a wise man would see it... and he would view me as a fool, as an uneducated man... who tried to rise to the heights of the authors... But for the last two years I have seen that my fears were groundless... My book Machaneh Yisrael... has been sold and has gone to the buyers... and the book was even published two times in other lands..."
In his book Machaneh Yissachar he collected stories of ethics from the Talmud and from the Midrash and translated them into Yiddish. His literary success led to the publishing of other books: Machaneh Levi, on the Ten Commandments; Chut Hameshulash, on the laws of Keriyat Shema, tzitzit, and tefillin; Muda Alei Derech, instructions about prayers for travelers; MatehYosef, a collection of stories about Moshe; Beit Chorin, about the Hagadda; and Or Ha'emunah, commentaries on the Torah. When they were published, these books were distributed widely.
HOLY AND SECULAR
Yossi – a Fantastic Child - by Rabbi Amichai Gordin, Yeshivat Har Etzion and Shaalvim High School
Yossi as a baby: His kindergarten teacher said, "Shalom, Yossi's mother. He behaved very well. He almost finished his mashed potatoes. In the sandbox he played with his toy car. Oh, and I almost forgot – while we were eating one of his friends bit him."
His mother was quite upset. "Oy, who did that to him? Poor Yossi." But the teacher would not tell her. "We cannot tell you who bit him, that is our policy." The mother left the kindergarten, quite angry. "What a nerve – somebody bit Yossi!"
Yossi's mother did not hear the thin voice of his soul, "Mommy, why are you worried only about the fact that I was bitten? Why don't you ask if I bit anybody else? The bite that I suffered will go away in a few days, but the bites that I took out of other children will remain with me..."
* * * * * *
Yossi as a boy: The principal said, "Shalom, Yossi's father. Yossi has not found his place in our school. He does not come to the lessons and he does not do well on the tests. It would be best to find him another school for next year."
The father was quite upset. "Hold on there. You will not throw my boy out of your school. What gives you the right to do that? My Yossi is a great success, and he will continue to study here in spite of what you say."
Yossi's father did not hear the thin voice of his son's soul. "Father, check out what is best for me very carefully. I am not sure that your struggle against the principal is for my own good. Perhaps I really would be better off in another school."
* * * * * *
Yossi as a young man: "Shalom, Mother and Father," Yossi said. "I think I will study social work or teaching next year. These subjects interest me very much. Next week I am going to Dugan College to check out the program there."
His parents were quite upset. They said, "Oy, that's terrible. You will not end your life as an unimportant social worker or as a worn-out teacher. You must go and study a respected and important subject. This is not the reason we invested in you and we raised you for so many years. This is not why you got such good marks on your matriculation exams.
His father and mother did not hear the thin voice of their son's soul. "Why do you force me to study things that do not interest me? Why don't you want me to be happy? Why does your happiness matter to you more than my own?"
* * * * * *
In an interesting coincidence, several years ago two lists were published at the same time, one in the University of Chicago and the other in Forbes Magazine. The university list was based on research that studied the ten professions that were most loved by the people who worked in them. The prestigious Forbes magazine summarized a poll of several thousand people who worked in the United States, concentrating on what the people felt were the most wretched jobs in existence.
Money had no role to play in either of the lists. The most preferred professions in the university list included priests, teachers, fire fighters, physiotherapists and psychologists. The worst jobs in the Forbes list were sales managers, information technology managers, electricians, and internet site developers.
Modernization has transformed the people providing services in the fields of computing and technology into the most important people in the organization where they work. However, those who work in these technologies are very unhappy. They do not feel that what they do is useful in any way. They may have high salaries, but they are not happy.
The two lists (which were published in Maariv, 18/9/2011) have one factor in common: satisfaction and accomplishing a significant task. Those who felt satisfaction with their job appeared in the college list of happy people. Those who were not satisfied appeared in the other list.
It turns out that many jobs which do not have a high social status and a high salary make the people who do them very happy. Our joy is not linked to the salary for the work or to the social status of the profession. Rather, it stems from how satisfied we are with the job. That is all that is needed: satisfaction and significant work. Nothing more.
* * * * * *
We love our children very much. We are willing to go to the ends of the earth for them. But do we always do what is best for them? I am not sure. We are duty bound to check ourselves very carefully and to try to decide whether our worry for our children is for their own good or not.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org INSIGHTS FOR THE SHABBAT TABLE
Hair and Tempests - by Bar-on Dasberg
Note: Hair is sei'ar, spelled with the letter "sin," while a storm is sa'ar, spelled with the letter "samech."
It seems that in the Tanach people with long hair tended to be more lively and full of vitality, and people with less hair tended to be calmer. Eisav, the hairy twin, was a hunter, while Yaacov, who did not have body hair, was a simple man who dwelt in the tent. Eliyahu ("a hairy man" – Melachim II 1:8) had a tempestuous nature and was zealous for G-d, while Elisha, who was bald (II 2:23), managed his wars with wisdom and in a calm way.
A man should point his internal forces and energy along positive channels and not suppress them. This is not always easy to do. The story of Shimshon shows us that his struggle against his internal forces was more difficult than his fights against the Pelishtim, until in the end he revealed his secret and his hair was cut, thereby making him weak. Avshalom was hanged in the end from his hair (both physically and metaphorically).
Perhaps this is the secret of the nazir, who took a vow to abstain from wine and all grape product. He channels his hair (that is, his energies) towards G-d. "He wears the crown of his G-d on his head" [Bamidbar 6:7]. And when he no longer wants to continue his stormy way of life, he will calm down and "he shall be brought to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting" [6:13] – "he" refers to the person himself (according to Rabbi Yishmael). He offers his hair to G-d: "And he shall take the hair from the crown of his head and place it under the flame of the Shelamim sacrifice" [6:18].
(Source: Aharon Goldberg, Diaspora Winner of the Tanach Quiz 5772)
HAPOEOL HAMIZRACHI NEWS
During the summer, we will be active organizing vacation activities for the members of the Histadrut Hapoel Hamizrachi and religious Zionist people and their families. Details are available from Hapoel Hamizrachi office. There will also be a number of events celebrating 90 years since Hapoel Hamizrachi was established. The year will be opened with a festive ceremony in the Knesset, with the participation of rabbis, Knesset members, government ministers, and veteran members of the Histadrut who will be honored for their labors to establish settlements and support the workers.
The Histadrut Hapoel Hamizrachi together with the Fishler Foundation and the "Tiferet Banim" organization awarded a prize to Mr. Yaacov Soler for his life's work and his great contribution to the national religious community. Soon prizes will be awarded together with the "Aminoach" Foundation (named for Nechemia and Miriam Aminach) in various fields: Rabbi Avraham Wasserman will receive an award for halachic research on the relationship between religious and irreligious people. Advodate Gilad Korinaldy will receive a prize for his labors trying to defend the synagogues in Gush Katif. Mrs. Yehudit Hanshaka will receive a prize for her research on the history of communities within Yisrael, and Menachem Rotstein will receive an award for his study of the history of the moshavim of Hapoel Hamizrachi.
The Histadrut Hapoel Hamizrachi puts great emphasis on showing our appreciation to members from among the religious Zionist camp for their many activities and for active support of the various communities.