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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Ha’azinu: Giving Praise

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

“When I proclaim the name of Hashem, give greatness to our G-d (32:3). When we hear a berachah, it is proper to exclaim “Baruch Hu u’Baruch Shemo” (“He is blessed and His name is blessed”) when Hashem’s name is pronounced. But much more is intended. The mention of that most important word (in any language) should evoke the greatest reverence and love and devotion. How much should we exert ourselves in this function? “We shall sanctify Your name in the world just as they sanctify it in the heights above” where “they continually relate the glory of G-d.” But to do this requires preparation, for it cannot be done on the spur of the moment.

This requires a store of gratitude for the countless kindnesses granted to us and for the countless kindnesses to our progenitors, and for a world filled with countless devices and provisions of kindly purpose. A store of immense admiration is also required for the infinite Wisdom of the Creator, which is the most open of all the testimonies of the world.

But the verse does not state merely “Give greatness to G-d” but “to our G-d,” thereby multiplying Israel’s obligation immensely; for He has designated us as His chief interest in all the Universe (10:14), in this world and also in the Afterlife (see Bamidbar 23:10). From this infinite store of devotion and adoration for “our G-d,” we summon the expression of His greatness whenever His Name is mentioned.

David said: “Hashem is great and is to be exceedingly praised; and there is no searching out His greatness” (Tehillim 145:3), which means that His greatness is infinite. And he added: “And Your greatness I shall relate” (ibid. 145:6). Thus we follow his model to recognize Hashem’s greatness as much as we are able and to speak of it always. It is essential to know that this is the measure of our future happiness in the Afterlife.

In Shemoneh Esrei we declare: “You are holy.… Blessed are You, O holy G-d.” The expression of thanks is suitable for health or for sustenance or other benefits, but what benefit do we gain from Hashem’s holiness that we should thank Him for being holy? The answer is that His holiness includes all of His greatness, and this greatness affords the supreme happiness of gazing at Him in the Afterlife.

Rav said (Berachos 17a), “In the World to Come, there is no eating or drinking… but the righteous sit with their crowns upon their heads and they enjoy the splendor of the Shechinah.” Thus the greater the splendor of Hashem’s greatness, so much greater is the reward of those who gaze at this splendor. Because His greatness is endless, we thank Him for the endless joy that awaits us when we shall view that greatness.

Moshe therefore speaks Hashem’s words: “Give [render, attribute] greatness to our G-d,” for thus we can gain a crown of glory (Rambam explains the “crown of glory” as the crown of True Knowledge) whereby we are enabled in the Afterlife to gain the utmost in true happiness.

We must utilize all the phenomena in order to gain more Awareness of Hashem’s greatness. When we see any of the infinitely countless wonders around us, we recognize more of the Creator’s greatness. Thus we are able to acquire the Crown of Awareness of Hashem’s greatness. “Accustom yourself to saying His blessings [i.e. praises, admiration] in this world, so that you become more capable of [praising and admiring] them in the World to Come” (Rashi, Berachos 63a).

Thus this verse “Give greatness to our G-d” is the program for a life of supreme achievement. (Fortunate Nation)

Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com.

For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.

Pleasure vs. Happiness In Marriage

Friday, September 21st, 2012

If you would like to know if your marriage is relationship centered or not, the way to find out is to ask yourself about your core values. For example, what is the most important principle of your marriage? Is it your desire for money or pleasure? Do you dream about being comfortable, being honored by your spouse and having a lot of fun?

Experience has shown that couples who place their relationship at the center of their lives have the greatest chance of sharing a successful marriage. Unfortunately, our society has sold us a distorted image of marriage, one which maintains that external factors such as money or comfort are what makes the marriage work. Just think about how popular culture depicts the perfect couple – the one with all the conveniences imaginable. They have all the money, pleasure, and fun they could ever want, but are they happy? That’s the million dollar question.

I believe that there is no real way of knowing how happy a marriage is, except this: ask them how their relationship is doing. Afterwards, you’ll know if their happiness is real or illusive.

Although many people may choose wealth, pleasure and honor as core values, in the long run, experience has shown that these are temporal. True happiness has very little to do with externals, and those who focus on these values often find their relationships unsettled, lacking direction, and without the strength to last a lifetime. In fact, over the years, I have witnessed many families with little financial means who have strong, healthy relationships. Against the conventional wisdom that money alone buys happiness, these families prove that success is dependent on other variables such as spiritual values, healthy attitudes, and high levels of emotional intelligence. Above all, they are dedicated to maintaining and nurturing the most important commodity in their lives – their relationship.

As a young yeshiva student, I learned a lesson about true happiness when I spent one of the most rewarding Shabboses in my life volunteering in an old age home in Sanhedria Murchevet, a small ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem. My predicament that weekend was that I wanted to spend Shabbos visiting the old age home, but didn’t have a place to stay. Thinking out of the box, and knowing I was in an ultra-orthodox community that was famous for its chesed and hachnasos orchim, I decided to take a chance by asking some elderly chassidim, who frequented a small shopping mall in the neighborhood, if they would be kind enough to take me in as their guest for Shabbos. After waiting for about five minutes in front of the store, an elderly chassid from the Viznitz community walked by with his younger daughter. In my broken and heavily American-accented Hebrew, I tried to explain to him where I volunteered and what I needed. Without blinking, the man said that he would be delighted to have me as his guest.

The elderly chassid met me just before sunset at the local shul and brought me home to meet his wife and family. At first, when I walked into his home, I felt that I was entering one of Roman Vizniak’s scenes from pre-war Poland. Despite my initial discomfort at feeling out of place, my fears were quickly relieved when I was warmly welcomed and asked to bring my suitcase into the room where I would be sleeping. After arranging my clothes, I was served a pre-Shabbos treat: a hot cup of coffee and some chocolate rugelach. Just as I finished my last bite, the Shabbos siren blew and I ran off to daven Kabbolos Shabbos at the old age home.

After davening, I returned to my host’s apartment to sleep in a very comfortable bedroom. The next morning I awoke and realized that, despite the fact that they had seven children, there were only two bedrooms, and I was sleeping in one of them! It turned out that they had set up their children’s beds in the living room and the parents had slept in the one remaining bedroom! Embarrassed and overwhelmed by their generosity, I walked out of the living room to wish a good Shabbos and, once again, my hosts insisted I sit down for another cup of coffee. That Shabbos, we spent hours eating, drinking tea and talking about our lives. They were devoted members of the Viznitz community. The father worked as an accountant for the local Chevra Kadisha and his wife was an assistant in the community kindergarten. They were married during the War of Independence and for many years lived in Meah Shearim. About ten years ago they had bought this apartment, and one of their dreams was to have special guests over for Shabbos. I happened to be one of the lucky individuals who would benefit from their kindness and hospitality.

Vayelech: Giving Thanks

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

We live in an age of conveniences – and dangers. Our affluence presents dangers to our quest for spiritual perfection, which the Torah cautions against and which Rabbi Avigdor Miller elaborates on in Parshas Vayelech.

“And he shall eat and become satiated and shall become fat…” (31:20). This warning is already stated before: “And you shall eat and be satiated. Beware for yourselves lest your heart be deceived and you shall turn aside” (11:15; also 8:14). And it is reiterated: “And Yeshurun grew fat and he kicked” (32:15). This aspect of the perils of prosperity emphasizes the selfishness and arrogance that are engendered by being overfed.

Thus, even the blessed communities of the loyally observant must be constantly on guard, especially today when the comforts and luxuries have increased beyond the experience of previous generations. No previous era has ever witnessed as much satiation and opportunities for happiness as we have today, and therefore the admonition “Beware for yourselves” is now more appropriate than ever.

Today’s conveniences and abundance impose a responsibility beyond that of all previous generations. Man’s chief function in life is to recognize Hashem’s kindliness: “It is good to give thanks to Hashem and to sing to Your name, O Most High” (Tehillim 92:2), meaning: What is the highest good? To give thanks to Hashem. How much must we give thanks and sing? “To narrate Your kindliness in the morning, and Your steadfastness in the nights” (ibid. 92:3), which actually means to begin in the morning to declare Hashem’s kindliness and His steadfastness, and to continue throughout the day into the night.

This fundamental duty is incumbent not only upon the blessed people of Hashem, but also upon all of Mankind. “For thus is the obligation of all the created: to give thanks, to acclaim, to adore, to glorify, to exalt, to honor, to make supreme and to praise” (Shabbos-morning prayers). “Praise Hashem, all you nations” (Tehillim 117:1); but Israel is even more obliged: “For His kindness upon us is greater” (ibid. 117:2).

Therefore even the loyal observant Jew must constantly exert himself to fulfill his function of always being mindful of Hashem’s constant kindliness. But especially today, and even more when dwelling in lands of abundance and total liberty, how great becomes the necessity to busy ourselves with the study of Hashem’s countless benefactions and with endless praise both in thought and in words, and also in increased performance of Hashem’s Torah obligations.

This presents a very real challenge. Thus: “Beware for yourselves lest your heart be deceived” to fail to understand this obligation.

* * * * *

“Take this book of the Torah and you shall put it at the side of the ark of the covenant of Hashem your G-d, and it shall be a witness against you” (31:26). This is an important function of the Book of the Torah (in addition to its function as the authentic model for all future copies): that the nation of the Torah must never attribute any of its misfortunes to any reason other than a retribution for transgressing the words of the Torah. Instead of merely blaming our persecutors and saying “We do not understand Hashem’s secrets,” this testimony stands forever as the sole and true explanation of all that transpires.

Thus the catastrophe which came upon European Jews must impel us to “search out our ways and investigate” and understand that never before had European Jews become estranged from Torah loyalty as in the last 80 years. And the travails experienced by Jews in the Holy Land must open their eyes to recognize how far the State of Israel has travelled away from the Torah. This is precisely that which this verse declares (Fortunate Nation).

Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com.

For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.

Head of the Iranian Nuclear Agency: I Misled Foreign Intelligence

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Iran’s Vice President Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, who heads the Iranian delegation taking part in the 56th session of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, told the newspaper Al-Hayat: “We sometimes gave false information to protect our nuclear sites and our interests. This inevitably misled other intelligence agencies.”

It appears that Iran has been regularly giving false information to the IAEA, assuming that it had been infiltrated by intelligence agencies interested in Iran’s nuclear program.

The Iranian VP blamed these infiltrators for two explosions that took down the electric supply to two nuclear plants.

“The IAEA says it gets its information from the intelligence services belonging to the member states, and we monitor and followed up seven years ago activities of the British foreign intelligence service, which gathered information for people, which then exposed [Iranian nuclear scientists] to assassination at the hands of Zionist intelligence agents. Some of the information provided by the agency related to these events. For our part, we sometimes gave false information to protect our nuclear sites and our interests. This inevitably misled other intelligence agencies,” Davani told Al-Hayat.

Shaul Chorev, director of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, announced that Israel would not attend a conference on the creation of a nuclear-free Middle East which will take place in Finland. AFP reports that the conference is scheduled for later this year or early in 2013, and it is backed by the U.S.

Chorev told the IAEA meeting in Vienna that a nuclear-free Middle East “will be possible only after the establishment of peace and trust among the states of the area, as a result of a local initiative, not of external coercion.”

“Such a process can only be launched when peaceful relations exist for a reasonable period of time in the region,” Chorev said. “Regrettably, the realities in the Middle East are far from being conducive.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization chief Fereydoun Abbasi says he has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to provide Iran with information about Israel’s nuclear installations, the Tehran Times reported.

“I told [IAEA director Yukiya] Amano to allow (Iran) to defend its achievements on an equal footing (with Israel) in view of the situation in the region and the danger that exists for Iran,” Fereydoun Abbasi told reporters after a meeting with the IAEA director in Vienna on Monday.

First Week Of Hebrew School At Chabad Chayil

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Children enjoying activities at Chabad Chayil.

Chabad Chayil-Highland Lakes Jewish Center has completed the first week of afternoon Hebrew school. Children enjoy a variety of classes, Judaic instruction and activities in the warm and caring atmosphere of the award-winning Chabad Center at 2601 NE 211 Terrace in North Miami Beach.

For more information call (305) 770-1919, e-mail office@ChabadChayil.org or visit www.youtube.com/chabadchayil

Netzavim: Choose Life

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

The Torah’s injunction to Choose Life may be one of its best known and quoted commandments. But is it completely understood? Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains its depth and its relevance to every act a person makes.

“The life and the death I have given before you…in order that you should live, you and your seed.… And you shall choose life” (30:19). “Choosing life” is one of the highest accomplishments (Shaare Teshuvah III:17). This means that not only does Hashem allow us the free will to choose (a principle that materialist psychologists deny), He also gives us the information that we possess free will.

Further, Hashem in His great kindliness also urges us to choose life. This means that when we keep His Torah we not only are choosing life, we are pleasing Hashem who “desires life” (Yecheskel 18:23) for us. Thus, whenever a good deed is done, we can beforehand add the intention of fulfilling this mitzvah of “choosing life” in order to bring pleasure to Hashem Who is interested in the life of every one of His beloved (10:14-15, 14:1, 23:6, 33:26 and elsewhere) people.

To add this intention to our Mitzvos and good deeds, and to keep this intention in mind as much as possible, is one of the highest accomplishments. Thus instead of eating and sleeping by mere force of habit, or instead of being polite to our fellowmen because of custom alone, and instead of Tefillin and Mezuzos and Shabbos-observance and Kashrus without any additional thought, if we add the intention of causing pleasure to Hashem Who wishes that we choose Life, then we are attaining a very high degree of perfection.

But “choose life” is a mitzvah and therefore not optional. We are hereby sternly admonished to have compassion upon ourselves so that we gain the supreme gift called Life. What is this gift of Life? It is the priceless opportunity to live longer, in order to achieve more and more perfection and merit, and it includes the infinite happiness of the endless Afterlife. Thus Hashem in this verse commands “You shall choose life” for your own benefit; to neglect or waste this opportunity to gain Life is one of the greatest catastrophes that could ever happen.

To lack compassion on one’s self by failing to seek life is the crime of crimes. Hashem pleads with us to have pity on ourselves: “Choose life!” By doing that which is our duty, we are thereby gaining life in this world as well as eternal life in the Afterworld, for we have fulfilled the specific mitzvah in addition to fulfilling the general mitzvah of “choosing Life.”

A further insight: Except in certain instances (see Rambam, Teshuvah 6:3), Hashem does not interfere to cause men to choose evil. We see also that a man’s choice affects not only him but also his seed. This, though apparently a contradiction of the principle of free will, is understandable – for when a man dies, he cannot have any more children, and in this sense his deeds affect his (unborn) seed. Similarly, when one sheds his fellowman’s blood, he is held guilty for the blood of the victim and the blood of his (unborn) seed and the seed of his seed, forever (Bereishis Rabbah 22-21).

Meritorious deeds confer benefits not only on one’s unborn seed but also on the children that have already been born. Sons under the age of 13 (daughters under 12) are sometimes included in the punishment of the parent. Thus, the ” choice of life” is not only for the person alone; each man is urged to choose Life for his posterity, and for all those who may be influenced or affected by his choice.

Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com.

For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.

Daf Yomi

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Shehakol Bread?
‘One Recites A Blessing On The Primary Food’
(Berachos 44a)

The mishnah on our daf states that whenever a person eats a primary food (an ikar) and a subordinate food (a tafel), he should only recite a berachah on the ikar. For example, if someone eats salted food and subsequently eats bread solely for the purpose of absorbing the salt, he should only recite a berachah on the salted food, not on the bread. He should recite neither hamotzi nor birkas hamazon.

Set Before Him

Tosafos (sv. “b’ochlei…”) assert that the berachah on the ikar does not exempt the tafel unless the tafel was in the person’s presence when he recited the berachah on the ikar and intended to eat the tafel afterwards. However, if someone recites a berachah on salty fish without intending to eat bread at that time, and then afterwards decides to eat some bread to absorb the salt, he must recite a berachah on the bread.

Two Explanations

The Chazon Ish (Orach Chayim 27) suggests two possible reasons why a tafel does not require a separate berachah. First, the tafel is ancillary to the principal food and as such is considered too insignificant to require its own berachah. Second, the tafel, being ancillary to the ikar, is subject to the same berachah as the ikar. Thus, the berachah recited on the ikar covers the tafel as well. In other words, the tafel as not insignificant and does require a berachah according to this second explanation. However, the berachah recited on the ikar satisfies this requirement.

A Matter Of Intent

The Chazon Ish adduces proof from Tosafos that his second explanation is the correct one. According to the first explanation, even if someone did not originally intend to eat a tafel, it should still be exempt from a berachah since, in the end, it is being eaten as an ancillary to the ikar. And yet, Tosafos rule that the tafel is not exempt.

According to the second approach, however, Tosafos is more understandable. According to this explanation, the tafel is always subject to a berachah, only that the berachah on the ikar covers it. When one recites a berachah on the ikar, however, without intending to eat a tafel afterwards, the tafel cannot be subsumed under the berachah of the ikar and needs its own separate berachah.

Interestingly, the Magen Avraham rules (Orach Chayim 212 sk2) that in such an instance – where one only decides, for example, to eat bread as a tafel after making a berachah on an ikar like fish – the berachah for the bread would be shehakol, like the berachah one recited on the fish.

Berachah Acharonah?

The Shulchan Aruch Harav (op cit. sk10) notes that if someone only decides to eat a tafel after making a berachah on an ikar, he must make both a berachah rishonah and a berachah acharonah on the tafel. It is not covered by the berachah acharonah of the ikar.

This week’s Daf Yomi Highlights is based upon Al Hadaf, published by Cong. Al Hadaf, 17N Rigaud Rd., Spring Valley, NY 10977-2533. Al Hadaf published semi-monthly, is available by subscription: U.S. – $40 per year; Canada – $54 per year; Overseas – $65 per year. For dedication information contact Rabbi Zev Dickstein, editor, at their office 845-356-9114 or visit Alhadafyomi.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/daf-yomi-42/2012/09/13/

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