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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Avraham Avinu’

Getting The Best Messages

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Suzanne called me today about the newest humiliation she had just experienced. At the gym, a personal trainer loudly reprimanded her for trying to help another person with some equipment, and he did so in front of nearly everybody who was working out there.

Suzanne doesn’t ever want to see that trainer again or ever face the people who were in the gym today while she was being berated. I tried as best as I could to give Suzanne the warm support that she needed. Later on, though, when she was insisting that she could never return to the gym, I shared an insight that popped up. It seemed like there was a clearer message than usual in this latest episode of frequently recurring humiliations, since it was a “personal trainer” who had been hurtful to her this time.

Not going back to the gym wouldn’t put an end to these kinds of pain-evoking experiences in Suzanne’s life, although it would be a good idea to avoid a person with that kind of explosive temper, and report his behavior to his superiors. The reason why these types of intimidating patterns keep repeating, though, should not be avoided.

When certain painful patterns of behavior keep repeating in our lives, it is a major clue that there is an important communication we need to receive. The personal trainers we encounter may differ radically in appearance, yet they’re all delivering the very same message we desperately need to get.

Who are these “personal trainers?” It is not just somebody spitefully out to “get” us. And he or she is not being sent directly our way by an external vindictive kind of God, trying to ultimately make our lives miserable. In fact, we, ourselves, are often, unwittingly, these personal trainers too, helping others to get the very uncomfortable messages they may not feel like getting, but are, nevertheless, vital to their greatest fulfillment.

Personal training sessions are continuously going on because our souls are yearning – non-stop – for the deepest pleasure possible. What is that pleasure? It is to blossom to our full potential.

About half of all people, for example, probably need to become gentler, more compassionate and more giving. Then there’s the other half who nearly always need to become stronger, tougher and more assertive. And each of us keeps getting painful communications – in strikingly similar patterns – throughout our lives, so that we can become more balanced in these essential qualities.

Recently I got hurt because somebody disregarded a business agreement we had made. Why did I trust the person so implicitly beforehand? Hadn’t I been in a seemingly different, but actually similar situation not so long before? Why was I again disregarding the red flags, not taking precautions, and naively hoping for the best outcome?

As hard as it is for so many to stand up for themselves, be assertive, and resist being trampled upon, there are those who find it almost just as impossible to refrain from forging ahead to gain an ever increasing power over others. It is probably as hard for the more ruthless types to take the time to pause and listen respectfully to others – and then respond with genuine warmth – as it is for the non-assertive types to demand to be heard.

In Kohelet (Ecclesiates 3:1-8) Shlomo HaMelech explains what he has come to understand:

For everything there is a season, A right time for every intention under heaven, A time to be born and a time to die, A time to plant and a time to uproot, A time to kill and a time to heal, A time to tear down and a time to build, A time to weep and a time to laugh, A time to mourn and a time to dance, A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones, A time to embrace and a time to refrain, A time to search and a time to give up, A time to keep and a time to discard, A time to tear and a time to sew, A time to keep silent and a time to speak, A time to love and a time to hate, A time for war and a time for peace.

There are times that we need to learn how to be more trusting and times when we need to be less trusting. Situations when we need to demonstrate more patience with people, and circumstances when we have been way too patient. Life seems to be so much about learning how to become more balanced and developing the flexibility to respond fluidly at the appropriate time. We are all here to help each other become our most actualized selves, even though the growing pains can really be excruciating at times.

How Did Yaakov Live In Mitzrayim?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

The opening pasuk in this week’s parshah states: “Vayechi Yaakov be’eretz Mitzrayim sheva esrei shanah… – Yaakov lived in Mitzrayim for 17 years…” The Gemara in Kiddushin 82a says that Avraham Avinu kept the entire Torah, even the mitzvos that may not have applied. The meforshim assume that this was the practice of the other avos and their descendents as well. There are three pesukim in the Torah prohibiting one from living in Mitzrayim. This question is raised: How were Yaakov and his sons allowed to live in Mitzrayim when it is in fact prohibited?

I believe that the author of the Haggadah alluded to this question in the following drasha: The Haggadah expounds on the pasuk in Devarim (26:6): “Va’yeired Mitzraimah va’yagar sham – And he went down into Mitzrayim and sojourned there.” The Haggadah says that we are to learn from the word va’yagar (sojourn) that Yaakov Avinu did not go down to Mitzrayim with the intention to live there permanently, but rather to sojourn there. The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 5:7,8) says that it is only prohibited to live in Mitzrayim lehishtakya (permanently); one is allowed to temporarily visit Mitzrayim. Apparently the author of the Haggadah alludes to this question, and answers that Yaakov did not live in Mitzrayim in a permanent manner – but rather his dwelling was temporary. Therefore Yaakov was not transgressing the prohibition of living in Mitzrayim.

I suggest that this is the reason that the Torah chose to write the word “vayechi – and he lived.” The pasuk does not write “vayeishev – and he dwelled” because Yaakov was merely living there temporarily, not permanently.

The Radvaz, in his commentary on the Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 5:8), asks how the Rambam was allowed to live in Mitzrayim. He suggests that perhaps he was forced by the country’s king to remain since he was the doctor of the king and many other officials. He then proceeds to ask the same question regarding himself, how he (the Radvaz) was allowed to live in Mitzrayim. He responds that he built a yeshiva and learned and taught Torah, and under those circumstances there is no prohibition.

This answer is perplexing, for building a yeshiva and learning and teaching Torah does not grant one a license to transgress a Torah prohibition. Perhaps the Radvaz’s logic is based on the Rambam’s ruling that if a king of Yisrael conquers Mitzrayim, there is no prohibition of dwelling in Mitzrayim. It is only prohibited to dwell in Mitzrayim while it is under non-Jewish rule. The reason for this is because the actions of the people of Mitzrayim were the most immoral, and thus the Torah did not want individuals to dwell there under their influence. Perhaps the Radvaz extended this halacha to one who is living in a yeshiva, since he is not affected by the corrupt world that surrounds him. It is comparable to the scenario whereby a king of Yisrael conquers Mitzrayim, negating Mitzrayim’s cultural influence. Therefore, the Radvaz ruled that he was permitted to live in Mitzrayim under those circumstances.

Based on this, we can suggest an alternate p’shat in explaining how Yaakov and his sons remained in Mitzrayim. In last week’s parshah, prior to Yaakov’s descent to Mitzrayim, he sent his son Yehudah “lehoros lefanav” (Bereishis 46:28). Rashi quotes a medrash that explains that Yaakov sent Yehudah to establish a yeshiva prior to his arrival. This was seemingly a strange practice. Why could Yaakov not have waited until everyone arrived before the yeshiva was built?

According to the Radvaz we can understand why it was necessary for the yeshiva to be established, even prior to everyone’s arrival. Since the building of a yeshiva is what would ensure that they would not be influenced by the people of Mitzrayim, Yaakov arranged that it should be established prior to their arrival.

This yeshiva remained for the entire time that Klal Yisrael were in Mitzrayim. The Rambam (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 1:3) says that after recognizing Hashem as the Creator and the one who controls everything, Avraham Avinu started educating others about Hashem. Eventually Yitzchak Avinu assumed that role, and Yaakov followed. Yaakov taught all of his sons, and later appointed Levi to be the rosh yeshiva. It was this yeshiva that kept the teachings of Avraham Avinu intact during the galus of Mitzrayim. This was made possible because shevet Levi was not subject to the physically torturous labor; thus they were able to remain in the yeshiva. The Rambam adds that if not for this yeshiva, all of the fundamentals that Avraham Avinu set forth would have otherwise been forgotten.

For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.

A free people in our land – Hebron

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Can we be a free people in our land without the first Jewish city in Israel?

Several years ago, on the anniversary of the liberation of Hebron in 1967, I was interviewed by a journalist who queried me about various problems facing Hebron’s Jewish community. His concluding question/statement was, “Well, I guess you’re not celebrating today?”

“Why not?” I replied.

“Well, you have all these problems and issues, how can you celebrate?”

“You just don’t understand,” I answered. “Look at where were we 70 years ago, or 60 years ago. Were we in Hebron? Today I’m here, in the first Jewish city in Israel. I live here, I work here, I’m bringing up my children here. This is my home. True, we have problems. There are ups and downs. Issues must be dealt with. And they will be overcome. But I’m here. And as long as I’m here, I have what to celebrate, and that’s exactly what I’m doing today!”

One of our most special celebrations will occur this weekend. The Torah portion of Hayei Sarah, otherwise known as “Shabbat Hebron,” is an extraordinary event. It is not an ordinary shabbat (which in Hebron is also unique). Rather, it is an event.

Over the past decade, some 20,000 people have capitalized on this special Sabbath to crowd into Hebron and nearby Kiryat Arba to rejoice. Starting on Friday morning, Israelis young and old will begin flocking to the city. Jews from the United States and other countries fly to Israel to be in Hebron for this exceptional occasion.

Well over six months prior to this Sabbath we begin receiving phone calls and emails requesting places to sleep and eat on this auspicious day. Dozens of tents are pitched outside Me’arat Hamachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs, and Matriarchs. Public buildings are transformed into dormitories, with separate facilities for men and women. It’s the only time of the year when my living room is wall-to-wall people sleeping on the floor.

One year, on Saturday night, a young woman walked into our kitchen to thank my wife. She asked what for. The woman said she had slept in one of our rooms. We had no idea she was there, or where she slept, because the room was already packed.

A huge tent is constructed outside the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, providing meals thousands of guests. Literally every nook and cranny in Hebron is utilized, with people sleeping and eating wherever they can find a few free meters.

All hours of the day and night the streets are full of people walking to and from the various neighborhoods in Hebron. Saturday afternoon, multitudes tour the city, visiting the Hebron Heritage Museum at Beit Hadassah, the tomb of Jesse and Ruth in Tel Rumeida, and the Avraham Avinu synagogue in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Special Casba tours are also included in the day’s agenda.

The heart of the day’s events takes place at Me’arat Hamachpela. On Friday night, literally thousands of people gather at this holy site, inside and out, to offer joyous Sabbath prayers. Singing and dancing during a huge “Carlebach minyan,” conducted in the Machpela courtyard, is unbelievably uplifting.

But the pinnacle and actual raison d’être for the ingathering begins early Saturday morning.

By 5:15 a.m., thousands make their way to early morning prayers at the Machpela. The entire building is open to Jewish worshipers, including “Ohel Yitzhak,” the Isaac Hall, available to Jews only ten days during the year. The first vatikin service, with the sunrise, is a spiritually inspirational way to start the day.

However, the peak takes place about an hour into the service. A Torah scroll is removed from the Holy Ark and opened. The first person, usually a cohen, or priest, is called up to the Torah. Following recitation of a blessing, the reader begins:

Why Was Avraham Allowed To Perform Hachnasas Orchim?

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

At the beginning of this week’s parshah the Torah writes extensively about Avraham Avinu’s act of hachnasas orchim for the three men who were passing by his tent. Several Achronim are bothered by this action for the following reason: The first pasuk in the parshah says, “Vayeira eilav Hashem – And Hashem appeared to [Avraham].” The Gemara in Baba Metzia 86b says that Hashem had come to visit Avraham in fulfillment of the mitzvah of bikur cholim, as it was the third day after Avraham’s bris milah and he was considered sick. The presence of Hashem, however, did not stop Avraham from performing the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim. The Gemara in Shabbos 127 says that we learn from this that the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim is greater than kabalas p’nei haShechinah.

Achronim ask that since Avraham was in the middle of performing the mitzvah of kabalas p’nei haShechinah, why did he stop and start another mitzvahhachnasas orchim? The rule is osek b’mitzvah patur min ha’mitzvah (while one performs one mitzvah he is exempt from another). The question is even stronger according to the opinion of the Ritva in Sukkah 25 that one who is performing one mitzvah is not allowed to perform another mitzvah.

The Nesivos Hamishpat (72:19) says that the general rule of osek b’mitzvah patur min ha’mitzvah only applies in a scenario in which one was performing an obligatory mitzvah. When one is involved in performing a non-obligatory mitzvah, he may perform another mitzvah if he wishes – even according to the Ritva. Therefore, if one is involved in a voluntary mitzvah and a poor man approaches him, he will be obligated to give him tzedakah.

Based on the opinion of the Nesivos, we can answer the question that was posed regarding Avraham Avinu’s engagement in the act of hachnasas orchim. Since the mitzvah that Avraham was performing (kabalas p’nei haShechinah) was not obligatory, he was allowed to engage in another mitzvah. The reason that Avraham chose to engage in the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim over the mitzvah of kabalas p’nei haShechinah presumably is because it is greater, as the aforementioned Gemara in Shabbos stated.

However, many Achronim were bothered by the ruling of the Nesivos. They state that the Gemara in Sukkah 26a says that individuals who sell tefillin are exempt from all other mitzvos. Selling tefillin is not an obligatory mitzvah, and yet the Gemara extends the rule of osek b’mitzvah patur min ha’mitzvah to those individuals. This seems to be a direct contradiction to the ruling of the Nesivos.

Perhaps we can suggest that the Nesivos agrees that even when one is involved in a voluntary mitzvah, the rule of osek b’mitzvah patur min ha’mitzvah will apply, as is evident from the Gemara in Sukkah. However, the exemption differs when one is performing an obligatory mitzvah as opposed to a voluntary mitzvah. When one is involved in performing an obligatory mitzvah, all other mitzvos are considered as if they are davar rishus (not mitzvos) for him; therefore he is exempt from performing them. There is even a discussion as to whether he would make a berachah on another mitzvah, since it is not considered a mitzvah for him.

When one is involved in a voluntary mitzvah, he is exempt from engaging in other mitzvos. However, we do not render all other mitzvos as if they were not mitzvos. It is merely a right to continue performing the mitzvah that he had started earlier. If one was involved with performing a voluntary mitzvah and decided to engage in another mitzvah, all would agree that he should make a berachah on the new mitzvah since it is a mitzvah even for him.

An Act That Echoes Through Time

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

“And Avraham awoke in the morning, hitched his donkey, and took his two lads, and Yitzchak with him. He split wood for the sacrifice and went to the place that Hashem had commanded him to.”  – Bereishis 22:3

 

Avraham Avinu was commanded with a supreme test, and one of the greatest challenges ever presented to man: “Take your son, your only son, the son that you love…”

One has the right to ask, “What was so great about this act?” Even today we witness people who are willing to slaughter themselves – or their children – in the name of their beliefs, and we certainly don’t consider them great! Why is this act considered one of the ultimate accomplishments of man?

The answer to this question lies in understanding not so much what Avraham did, but how he did it.

Avraham lived to serve Hashem. His every waking moment was devoted to spreading Hashem’s name and bringing others to recognize their Creator. However, he knew that only through a distinct and separate people could the name of Hashem be brought to its glory. His destiny and ultimate aspiration was to be the father of the Jewish nation.

Yet for many years that dream didn’t come true.

Avraham was 100 years old when he had Yitzchak. He waited month after month, year after year, begging, beseeching, and imploring Hashem for this son – but to no avail. Finally, in a most miraculous manner, at an age when both he and his wife couldn’t possibly parent a child, the angels told him the news: “Your greatest single ambition, to be the father of the Klal Yisrael, will come true through this child Yitzchak.”

Avraham’s Relationship With His Son From the moment Yitzchak was born, he was the perfect child. Not only was he nearly identical to Avraham in look and in nature, from the moment he came to the age of understanding, he went in the ways of his father. Avraham had many students, but there was only one who was truly devoted to knowing and understanding the ways of his teacher. That was Yitzchak. The bond of love and devotion Avraham felt toward his “only” son is hard to imagine. The nature of a tzdadik is to be kindly, compassionate, and giving. When a tzaddik connects to an almost equally perfect tzaddik, the bond of love and devotion between them is extremely powerful. For years, this relationship grew. It wasn’t until Yitzchak was 37 years old, in the prime of his life, that Hashem tested Avraham.

Avraham wasn’t asked to kill his child; he was asked to bring him as an olah, to perform all of the details that are done to a sacrifice in the Bais HaMikdash. Many a person has difficulty learning the particulars of bringing a korban when it is done to a sheep or a goat, but this wasn’t an animal. This was his son.

This refined, caring, loving tzaddik was asked to slaughter and then prepare his most beloved child and talmid as a sacrifice – not to sit by and allow it, not to witness it, but to do it with his own hands.

You would imagine that if such a person could actually muster the self-mastery to do this, it would be with a bitter and heavy heart.

Yet that isn’t how the Torah describes the events.

“And Avraham got up early in the morning, hitched up his donkey,” and set off on his journey.

Rashi quotes the Midrash that explains this was out of character. Avraham was an extremely wealthy and honored individual. He had hundreds of loyal students, and many, many slaves. Hitching up his donkey was not something he normally did. It was done for him by a servant. Yet this time was different because “love blinds.” Avraham was so enraptured with this great act that he got carried away and did something he never would have done himself. He hitched up his own donkey.

The Crescendo With a calm demeanor and joy in his heart, Avraham set out on a three-day expedition to accomplish this great mitzvah. Along the way, Yitzchak discovered he was to be the sacrifice. He said to his father, “Please bind me so that I don’t twitch and spoil the sacrifice.” A korban must be slaughtered in a particular manner. Any deviation and the sacrifice is invalid. Yitzchak was afraid he might inadvertently move and spoil the process. Therefore he said, “Please bind me.” (Hence the term “akeidas Yitzchak,” the binding of Yitzchak.) Avraham did just that. He tied Yitzchak’s arms and legs behind him, put him on the mizbeach, and raised up the knife to kill his son.

Why Did Avraham Not Perform A Bris Earlier?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

In this week’s parshah, Hashem commands Avraham Avinu to perform the mitzvah of bris milah. We once discussed a question that several Achronim ask regarding this mitzvah, and I want to share some new thoughts on the matter. The Achronim ask that since the Gemaras in Kiddushin 82a and Yuma 28b say that Avraham kept the entire Torah, even though it was not yet given, why then did Avraham not perform a bris milah on himself earlier? Why did he wait until he was commanded to do so at age 99?

The Mizrachi, on this pasuk, answers that the Gemara in Kiddushin 31a says that the performance of a mitzvah when one is commanded to do so is greater than its performance when he is not commanded. Thus, to gain the mitzvah, Avraham decided to wait until he was commanded to perform it.

The Brisker Rav answers that Avraham kept the entire Torah even though it was not yet given. However, certain mitzvos, due to the lack of their physical existence, were impossible for him to perform – and therefore were not considered as if he didn’t perform them.

The mitzvah of bris milah is to remove the orlah (foreskin). Before Avraham was commanded to perform a bris milah, there was no concept of orlah. Prior to the commandment to remove the orlah, there was no distinction between the foreskin and the rest of the skin, since the foreskin was not yet considered orlah. Only once the Torah commanded him to remove the orlah did the foreskin become orlah. Thus, prior to the commandment, Avraham could not perform the mitzvah of bris milah.

With this understanding we can also answer another question. The pasuk in this week’s parshah (Bereishis 17:3) says that when Hashem spoke to Avraham regarding the mitzvah of bris milah, Avraham fell on his face. Rashi explains that this happened because he was an arel (uncircumcised male). As we find that Hashem spoke to Avraham many times before this episode, why only now did Avraham fall on his face because he was uncircumcised? According to the p’shat of the Brisker Rav, that prior to the commandment that he be circumcised the foreskin was not considered orlah, we can understand why Avraham never felt the need to fall on his face while talking to Hashem until this time: because before this commandment, he was not considered an arel.

Another example of a mitzvah where the concept did not exist prior to it being commanded is the mitzvah of kiddushin. Although there was a form of marriage before the Torah was given, it was of a different status. With this the Brisker Rav explains how Yaakov Avinu was permitted to marry sisters. He explains that only under the new status of kiddushin is it forbidden to marry sisters, whereas the marital status that existed prior to the giving of the Torah did not prohibit marrying sisters.

There is another answer as to why Avraham did not perform the mitzvah of bris milah prior to being commanded to do so, even though he kept the rest of the Torah. Bris milah is a bris (covenant) between two parties. Before the other party agrees to a covenant, there cannot be a covenant. Therefore, prior to being commanded to perform a bris milah, Avraham could not do so on his own – for it would not be a covenant.

On this pasuk, the Panim Yafos (who also authored the Sefer Hafla’ah) offers another answer to this question. He says that the prohibition of not wounding oneself extends to bnei Noach as well. Therefore, prior to being commanded to do so, Avraham could not perform a bris milah on himself, as it was prohibited to wound himself. He explains that this was the reason that the people of Avraham’s generation protested Avraham’s performing a bris. Since they were not aware of the new commandment, they argued that it was prohibited. Thus Avraham had to perform the bris, as no one else heard the commandment.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/11/11

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Colorless Or Colorful? Readers Speak…

Initiated by Stand-Up Guy (see Chronicles Feb. 11 & 25)

 

Dear Rachel,

A concerned writer innocently asked, “What is wrong with a guy wearing colored shirts?” and cited girls who won’t date “such boys” but yet are adorned in Uggs and Juicy attire. He wanted to know what it really means to be open-minded and who really embodies that mindset. Then came your answer.

You used the description of the Bigdei Kehuna in the parsha as your justification for why your clothes really do make a difference. But isn’t the Kohen still the Kohen when he is not in his Kohen uniform?

I was surprised to see how much credence you give to the color of one’s shirt. I didn’t really personalize what you wrote until this sentence, “…If a girl turns you down on account of your jeans, just see it as a sign…you are more likely to find your right fit in your own backyard.”

This is where I felt it: the closing of the Jewish mind. And I AM one to talk. I just got married at the ripe young age of 30. My husband and I do not share religious backgrounds, but we share future goals and hashkafic compatibility. I mostly dated men who wore black hats, but their attire didn’t define their middos. Each individual was just that: an individual. There were men wearing “the pure” black and white uniform whose behavior was not congruent with Torah, and there were those in jeans who acted as descendants of Avraham Avinu.

If I would have married someone from a more yeshivish background who looks like all of my friends’ husbands, but who internally wasn’t as refined and lacked the yirat shamayim of the man in a “pink shirt” who I did marry, I don’t think I would have been at peace with it. I probably would have wished that I had looked “outside my own backyard” to find the right person for me.

We live in a world of color and no one is forced to wear any color they do not want to, but I’m pretty sure that Hashem’s expectations are “Hatznea lechet im Hashem Elokecha.Tzniut, humility and following in the ways of Hashem; color is not mentioned. Perhaps dates would go better if people were just a bit color-blind.

Married in living color

 

Dear Married,

Mazel tov on the occasion of your marriage!

Your disappointing dating experiences just go to prove that clothes do not make the man. Appearances can be deceiving and so we go to great lengths to get to know the person before making up our minds.

Common background between marriage partners is definitely a plus but is not a guarantee for long-lasting wedded bliss.

While we may live in a world of color, one might say that the issue of “black and white” in the Jewish orthodox world is a gray area. Most men instinctively carry on their family tradition, dressing in the way of their fathers. This goes for both the color and white shirted kind — and neither preference attests to the wearer’s moral fiber.

 

Dear Rachel,

I’m hesitant to waste time writing to you, but the opinions you expressed are not only misguided; they’re objectively wrong. I’m talking about your assertion that black-and-white clothing is preferable for yeshiva boys and men.

The Mishna in Masechet Megilla (4:8) states specifically: “If one declares, ‘I will not step before the Ark in colored raiment,’ he may not go even in white garments.” In other words, the clothes do not make the man and colored garments are completely acceptable for those leading the services.

In Masechet Berachot (28a), we learn that Rabban Gamliel’s policy was to bar anyone from the study hall who’s “inside did not match his outside.” In other words, anyone can dress like a yeshiva boy, but what really matters is what’s inside.

Your statement that white “exudes a purity of soul” is laughable. As is your assertion that colors in the beit midrash will distract Torah scholars from their learning. Honestly? Does the presence of color distract scholars in any other discipline or just teenage boys and men in yeshivot? Did you conduct a study? Should we ensure that all seforim are a uniform black or brown, so as not to distract the learners? What about the colors on the parochet and the Torah covers? Distracting?

You state that you like white, personally. That’s your opinion. But don’t go making blanket statements based on your personal preference.

I agree that materialism should not be a focus in yeshiva or in shidduchim. But if you notice, there are plenty of designer-label white shirts and dress slacks, not to mention high-priced hat brands, available to those whose souls are so ostensibly pure.

There’s nothing wrong with colored clothing and people in the shidduch parsha who are hung up on ‘white shirts’ should have their mistaken prejudices corrected.

True Blue Jew

 

Dear True Blue,

Since none of my colored-shirt wearing close kin found anything remotely disparaging in my reply to Stand-Up Guy, I can only deduce that you have an axe to grind (with the white-shirt wearing kind, apparently).

Anyone with an uncolored mindset will note that I simply enlightened the reader as to the logic behind the white-shirt tradition.

Regarding your Talmudic references, “in other words” doesn’t quite cut it. Open to interpretations, yes, but the samples you cite have little to nothing in common with this discussion.

One commentary focuses almost exclusively on Rabban Gamliel’s suitability as head of the rabbinic academy when he seeks to ease the overcrowding of talmidim by limiting their attendance (no mention of clothing or color). The other specifically designates the one who refuses to step in front of the Ark in colored clothing as flawed in his belief-system. Adjudged an apikores, he is deemed equally unsuited to the task whether attired in color or white.

Your rebuke of my tongue-in-cheek comment about loving the white snow that blankets our lawns doesn’t deserve the dignity of a remark. Suffice it to say that your attitude speaks volumes for itself.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

A Downpour Of Blessings

Monday, March 29th, 2010

There are many things in our lives for which we pray to Hashem. These include health, shalom bayit, nachat from our children, and parnassah.

In Israel, we have been praying for rain for a while. Israel has been suffering from a dearth of rainfall for a number of years. The waterline in the Kinneret is visibly dropping, and the government has been scrambling for ways to conserve our dwindling water supply.

I find, as others do, that it is not always easy to concentrate fully on my prayers. In my case, I find that my friend Leah helps me out. I watch her in awe as she sits, totally immersed in prayer. Whenever I see her in shul on Shabbat, my tefillah is inevitably more inspired.

Leah is a wonderful young woman in her 30s. She has, Baruch Hashem, been successful in many areas of her life. She enjoys a challenging career, is surrounded by family and friends, and has good health. The one major thing she felt lacking in her life was not finding her zivug (life partner). Leah had been on my tefillah list for quite a while.

Recently, Hashem answered our prayers, and Leah and her chattan stood under the chuppah. She fulfilled her dream of getting married in Hebron, at the Me’arat Hamachpelah (Cave of the Patriarchs). It was so special seeing her sitting in such a holy site, giving heartfelt blessings to all who approached.

I had wandered over to pray at the room dedicated to Avraham Avinu when I heard the singing. It was time for the badeken (part of the wedding ceremony, where the groom covers the bride’s face with a veil). Suddenly, a drop of rain fell on myTehillim. The much-needed rain continued to fall throughout the chuppah, which was held outdoors.

A sea of umbrellas swayed in the strong wind, and the roshei yeshivot held tightly onto their hats. The chuppah ended with the blasts of a shofar. And the rain stopped.

The rain did not take away any of the pleasure of watching the couple wed. Rather, it enhanced the experience. It was as if Hashem was wedding the miracle of rain to the miracle of a young couple’s union. May their love continue to flourish, as Hashem sends forth His blessings from the heavens.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/a-downpour-of-blessings/2010/03/29/

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