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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Q & A: Yotzrot (Part II)


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Yet, we should be aware that our present day practice of omitting yotzrot would not be looked upon favorably by the Rishonim. Rashi in Parshat Terumah (Exodus 26:15) asks where the Jewish people in the desert were supposed to get the shittim wood that G-d commanded them to use to build the Mishkan. He answers by citing a midrash (Tanchuma Shemot 9) that Jacob foresaw that the Jews would need wood in the desert and therefore planted shittim trees in advance in Egypt. Rashi notes that this midrash is the source for the piyut of R. Shlomo bar Yehudah which we recite in birkat yotzer or of Shacharit on the first day of Pesach: “Tas mata mezorazim korot bateinu arazim – Rapidly did the plantings of [the Jewish people] grow to become the cedars used for the beams of our House.” It is thus obvious that Rashi and his contemporaries would, without fail, recite these piyutim.

May the piyutim and yotzrot that we say inspire us to spiritual growth and bring melech haMoshiach speedily in our days.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


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Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

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Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

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Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

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