Question: Someone tried to observe Shabbat but could not hold out from violating its laws in the latter part of the day. Does he receive a reward for the amount of Shabbat he observed? Or is reward based on the principle of “all or nothing”? In other words, does Shabbat observance require a total commitment such that partial observance is comparable to not observing Shabbat altogether?
Lost In Translation ‘A Shesua Is A Creature…’ (Niddah 24a)
The Baal Shem Tov was the founder and the visionary of chassidus, but the architect who built and spread the movement was Rabbi Dov Ber, the maggid of Mezeritch.
Zohara was born in Morocco. With her husband, she raised a large family. A busy woman, she always seemed to find time to help others in need. Her daughter, Aliza, told me of the many sleepless nights her mother spent nursing babies. That is not unusual in itself, were it not for the fact that many of the babies she nursed were not her own.
Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices? A Devoted Reader (Via E-Mail)
At the conclusion of this week’s parshah, the Torah writes about the mekoshesh eitzim – the individual who desecrated Shabbos in the midbar by gathering wood. The pasuk says that since it was uncertain what the halacha was concerning one who is mechallel Shabbos, the mekoshesh was placed in custody until Hashem gave instructions as to what to do. Hashem then told Moshe Rabbeinu that the man is to be put to death by stoning; and so he was.
One aspect of Divine Justice stipulates that through the decisions we make we help shape the world around us. Good deeds bring in their wake positive outcomes and the reverse is also true. In the mitzvah of the Second Pesach (Pesach Sheni), Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, develops this understanding and finds that Hashem manipulated history specifically for the purpose of making such outcomes happen.
The episode of the spies has rightly puzzled commentators throughout the centuries. How could they have got it so wrong? The land, they said, was as Moses had promised. It was indeed “flowing with milk and honey.” But conquering it was impossible. “The people who live there are powerful, and the cities fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of the giant there … We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are … All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the titans there … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and so we seemed in theirs” (Numbers 13:28-33).
I’d like to share with you a story I believe is a wonderful gift we can present to Hashem now that the painful summer months of Tammuz and Av – months that saw the destruction of our holy Temple – are nearly upon us.
In the early days of Statehood, when Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, the famed Chazon Ish, and other leading rabbis reached a compromise with David Ben Gurion to provide military exemptions for yeshiva students, only some 400 students were exempted. Writing about a Milchemet Mitzvah, the Chazon Ish himself recognized that “if there is a need for them, they must come to the aid of their brethren.”
If you ask someone coming out of church on a Sunday, "Do you believe in G-d?" the worshipper will be shocked. "What type of question is that? Of course I do!"
Question: Why do we celebrate when a boy becomes bar mitzvah?
Each detail in the Torah is laden with meaning. Surely the service vessels of the Temple had great importance and consequence over and above their routine service. In the description of the menorah that stood in chamber outside the Holy of Holies, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, found layer upon layer of meaning.
Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushahh and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushahh out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushahh and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices? A Devoted Reader (Via E-Mail)
The Rambam, in Hilchos Beis Habechirah 1:12, derives from the pasuk in this week’s parshah, “u’veyom hakim es haMishkan… – and on the day the Mishkan was set up…” (Bamidbar 9:15), that the Beis HaMikdash can only be built by day, not by night. Further in that halacha the Rambam writes that both men and women are obligated in the mitzvah of building the Beis HaMikdash. The Kesef Mishneh explains that the source for the halacha that women are obligated in this mitzvah is from the pasuk in parshas Vayakhel: “v’kol ishah chachmas lev beyada tavu – and every wise-hearted woman spun with her hands.”
A Shabbos Treat ‘Snow Is Neither Food Nor Drink’ (Niddah 17a)
Adaptive leadership is called for when the world is changing, circumstances are no longer what they were, and what once worked works no more. There is no quick fix, no pill, no simple following of instructions. We have to change. At a certain point, Moses had to help the Israelites change, to exercise responsibility, to learn to do things for themselves while trusting in God instead of relying on God to do things for them.
During the past several weeks I have shared many of my own personal experiences and those of others. I am referring not only to my recent hospitalization following the breaking of a hip, but also to my series of articles on hashgachah pratis – events that befall us that can easily be attributed to random happenings but upon closer scrutiny and honest introspection testify to the ever-guiding Hand and mercy of Hashem.
Huge crystal chandeliers sparkled with points of light that shone like diamonds. Hundreds of ornate, gilded chairs had been arranged on the ballroom’s thick, blue and brown carpet in the palatial Miami Beach hotel. This elegant space had been converted into a temporary synagogue for the holiday.