web analytics
January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘judah’

Vayigash: The Epic Confrontation Between Judah and Joseph

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Judah once allowed a son of Rachel to be taken, but in this week’s parsha, he offers to sacrifice himself instead of Benjamin, because Jacob’s soul is bound up in the soul of Benjamin. Where do we see the same language used centuries later? In this video, Rabbi Fohrman explores a fascinating Biblical echo and helps us answer, what is heroism?

This video is from Rabbi David Fohrman.

For more on Vayigash, see https://goo.gl/Rrl5mZ

Link to last week: https://goo.gl/rQtjRZ

Want More?
Join our growing community: https://goo.gl/xv0UbG
Help us grow and support what we do: https://goo.gl/NRLN3d

Follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/Alephbeta123

Rabbi David Fohrman

‘God Has Sent Us The Jew From Judah To Help Us’: An Interview with Malawi’s Israeli MP

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

An Israeli in an African parliament? It sounds bizarre, but it’s true. Malawi, a small landlocked country in southeast Africa (population: 17 million), counts exactly two whites in its 193-member parliament. One of them is 50-year-old David Yakov Bisnowaty, a former IDF soldier and the son of a Holocaust survivor.

While here in New York last week for the opening of the UN General Assembly’s 71st session, Bisnowaty, who is married with three children, spoke to The Jewish Press.

The Jewish Press: What’s your background?

Bisnowaty: My father worked as a mechanical engineer for a big multinational company, which sent him to Africa. So I was born in Israel but grew up in Kenya. And when you grow up in Africa, you have a bond with Africa.

Eventually I went back to Israel and served in the Israeli army. But later I returned to Africa and lived in South Africa. Then, in 1993, I found myself on a business strip to Malawi and fell in love with the place. So I decided to move there, and since then I’ve probably been the single largest investor in Malawi. I have a pharmaceutical factory which manufactures generic drugs – it’s the biggest pharmaceutical factory in Malawi – and I also distribute medical equipment to hospitals.

How did you wind up in Malawi’s parliament?

I entered politics in 2014 because I felt something had to be done. What triggered me was nearly running over a young boy with my car. He was licking the road because he had spilled the food he was carrying, and my heart broke. I couldn’t believe poverty was so bad that people had to lick the road just to get a little bit of food. So I told my family, “I’m going to enter politics to help the poor Malawians.”

Everybody said, “You’re crazy. A white man, a Jew, a non-indigenous person, is going to be elected a member of parliament? You’ll never make it.”

But I ran against 11 other contestants and won by an overwhelming majority. I became the first Jewish member of parliament in Malawi for the biggest constituency, which is Lilongwe, the capital of the country. I serve close to a million people.

Are you the only Jew serving in a parliament on the continent of Africa (excluding South Africa)?

According to the information I have, yes.

As a member of Malawi’s parliament, what causes do you try to advance?

I have many projects. We just passed a marriage bill that a young girl cannot marry before the age of 18. That was a big success. I also was able to get running water for 23 villages in my area. The women in these villages used to go to the stream to collect water, which they then brought home on their heads. Now they have tap water next to their homes. So that for me is a big success story.

I’m also advocating for democracy. We have democracy obviously, but Africa got it quite late [so it needs improvement]. I also fight corruption. It’s not easy and it will take time, but that is one of my struggles as well. Finally, I focus heavily on education. I believe that if we educate the people, Malawi will change.

What do people in Malawi think of Jews in general and Israel specifically?

Israel was one of the countries that assisted Malawi from the time it got its independence [in the late 1960s]. It sent doctors and others to help Malawi, so the ties between the two countries have been very strong since then.

Regarding Jews: I don’t see any anti-Semitism in Malawi. People actually love that I’m a Jew. They see me as a businessman who didn’t go into politics because of money but because of ideology, because of love for the country. I think they have more trust in me for that reason; they believe that I’m genuinely coming to help them.

In general, they believe the Jewish people are blessed and are here for a purpose by G-d. People in Malawian villages actually say [about me], “G-d has sent us the Jew from Judah to help us.” And that might be why I ended up in Malawi. If you believe in God – and I do believe in Him – then [surely] I didn’t end up in Malawi for nothing.

Are there any Jews in Malawi besides you and your family?

No, unfortunately we’re the only ones.

If you wanted to observe Judaism in Malawi, are there any resources at all to do so?

We keep a kosher home in Malawi; we get our meat from South Africa. I’m not very religious but I keep the tradition, so this Rosh Hashanah, for example, I will be spending in South Africa where I have a house that is close to a shul.

Why do you have a house there?

It’s for my daughter, who is more frum and teaching in a Jewish school in South Africa. So she uses the house, and then when I come down to South Africa, I use it as well.

What’s the official language of Malawi?

English. They have a local language – Chichewa – but the official language is English.

What’s next for you?

I plan to run for at least another term when this one concludes in 2019. After that, God knows.

Elliot Resnick

Everything You Wanted to Know about the Mitzvah Tantz

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Hundreds of Hasidic Jews on Thursday attended the wedding of the grandson of the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rebbe in Bnei Brak, where this mitzvah dance was performed.

The mitzvah tantz (mitzvah-dance) is the Hasidic custom of the men dancing with the bride on her wedding night, after the wedding feast. The bride stands perfectly still, holding one end of a long sash while rabbis, the groom’s father, her own father or her grandfather holds the other end and dances with her.

The source of the custom is in the Gemorah Ketubot (16b-17a):

They said of R. Judah b. Ila’i that he used to take a myrtle twig and dance before the bride and say: “Beautiful and graceful bride.” R. Shmuel the son of R. Isaac danced with three twigs. R. Zera said: The old man is putting us to shame. When he died, a pillar of fire came between him (R. Judah b. Ila’i) and the rest of the world. And there is a tradition that a pillar of fire has made such a separation only for one in a generation or for two in a generation. R. Zera said: His twig benefited the old man, and other said: His habit benefited the old man, and some say: his folly benefited] the old man (the gemorah is playing on the words for twig, foolishness and method). R. Aha took her (the bride) on his shoulder and danced with her. The Rabbis said to him: May we also do it? He said to them: If she is on you like a beam (meaning you are not enticed by her), then it is all right, but if not, you shouldn’t.

During the mitzvah tantz, the bride and her relatives are brought into the men’s section without a mechitza separation. In fact, often the mechitza is removed altogether, and all the women present share the same space with the men on the other side.

Some Orthodox groups are uncomfortable with this custom.

That’s OK.

Yori Yanover

Artifact Found in Time for Shavuot Proves Bethlehem Existed During First Temple

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Ir David Foundation announced that a clay seal was discovered bearing the name of the city of Bethlehem, evidence that the city existed during the period of the First Temple in Jerusalem.  The find fortuitously coincides with the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, during which time Jews from around the world focus on the story of the biblical figure Ruth, set in the city of Bethlehem.

The 1.5cm seal – called a bulla – was discovered during sifting of soil removed from the archeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the City of David, just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.  The sifting is underwritten by the Ir David Foundation, which treated The Jewish Press to a private tour.

The clay bulla was meant to seal a document or object, used as a way of showing that the private item had not been tampered with.

The new bulla bears the words:   בשבעת   Bishv’at    בת לים    Bat Lechem [למל[ך   [Lemel]ekh

Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “it seems that in the seventh year of the reign of a king (either Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah), a shipment was dispatched from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem.”

“The bulla we found belongs to the group of “fiscal” bullae – administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE,” Shukron said.  “The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat”.

According to Shukron, this is the first time the name Bethlehem has appeared in an inscription from the First Temple period, proving that Bethlehem was a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly in earlier periods.”

The first mention of Bethlehem in the Bible occurs in regard to the matriarch Rachel, wife of Jacob, sister of Leah, and mother of Joseph, who died while giving birth to Benjamin “in Ephrat, which is Bethlehem, and was buried there (Genesis 35:19; 48:7).

In later generations, when the region was settled by the descendants of Jacob and Leah’s son Judah, a man named Boaz made Ruth, a Moabite convert and daughter-in-law of Naomi, his wife (Book of Ruth).  The couple’s great-grandson, David, became the most celebrated king in Jewish history, and made his capital in Jerusalem, on the site of the modern day “Ir David” – City of David.

Malkah Fleisher

Archeologists Find Evidence of 8th Century Fortress Near Ashdod

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of massive walls — likely the remains of a fortress — near Ashdod, dated to the eighth and early seventh century BCE, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.

“There are two possibilities regarding who inhabited the fortress at that time: one possibility is that it was controlled by the Assyrians who were the regional rulers in the Iron Age. Another possibility is that Josiah, king of Judah, occupied the fort at the time, who we know conquered territory from the Assyrians and controlled Ashdod-Yam in the seventh century BCE,” said Sa’ar Ganor, an archaeologist from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Jewish Press Staff

Q & A: A Sabbath Desecrator Leading Services (Conclusion)

Wednesday, January 19th, 2005
QUESTION: What are the requirements for a sheliach tzibbur? May someone who desecrates the Sabbath lead the services?
C.M. Siegel
Rockland, NY
ANSWER:We discussed the importance of the Sabbath and its centrality in Judaism as well as the Jewish people’s love for and awe of the Sabbath, which are legendary. Tremendous self-sacrifices were made in honor of our Shabbat. We continued with the Biblical commandment to observe the Sabbath and its relevance to choosing a sheliach tzibbur.Last week we listed some well-known qualities of and requirements for someone who leads services, as they appear in Yitzchak “Izzy” Broker’s booklet, “To Stand Before Hashem: How To Lead The Prayers.”
* * *
My uncle, HaRav Sholom Klass, zt’l, whose yahrzeit is on the 10th of Shevat, noted that he would include a mechallel Shabbat in a minyan (a quorum of ten) but he was not comfortable with such a person leading the services. To shed some light on his view, he referred me to the She’elot U’teshuvot HaBach (the classic work of the Bach, the author of Bayit Chadash – R. Yoel Sirkis), where we find the following actual case discussion in the very first responsum (Orach Chayyim):
If an individual stole or seized bread from his fellow man, may he say the benediction of Hamotzi prior to eating it or the Birkat Hamazon after consuming it?
After a lengthy discussion of the issues, he rules that such an individual may not make a blessing before eating the bread because he did not acquire it with any shinui (change in the bread’s essence) but he may make a blessing after consuming it, as there is no greater shinui than its being consumed – though he must pay for what he took.
He cites the Gemara (Bava Kamma 94a, Perek Hagozel Etzim), where we find the statement of R. Eliezer b. Yaakov who asks: if one misappropriated a se’ah of wheat, kneaded it, baked it, and set aside a portion of it as challah, how would he be able to recite a blessing on it?This surely is not considered a blessing but rather a blasphemy, as the verse states, “. . . u[b]otze’a berech, ni’etz Hashem – … and the brazen robber pronounces a benediction but in fact he blasphemes Hashem” (Psalms 10:3).
The Bach seems to imply that even one who has made a substantial change in the item, causing him to acquire it, is still one who blasphemes Hashem. Thus, we may be able to apply this concept to a Sabbath desecrator who leads the services.
The rule regarding blessings over a stolen item is found in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayyim 25:12, Hilchot Tefillin), where R. Yosef Caro states that one may not recite the blessings on tefillin if the tefillin were stolen. The Mishna Berura (ad loc. 25:54) refers to this as ‘mitzva haba’ah be’avera,’ a precept fulfilled through the violation of a prohibition. As the verse states (Psalms 10:3), such a person is not blessing Hashem, but engaging in blasphemy.
Similarly, this applies to the mitzva of lulav, the Four Species used on Sukkot, where the first Mishna in Perek Lulav Hagazul (Sukka 29b) states that in the event one steals a lulav to accomplish the mitzva, the lulav becomes disqualified for him and he may not use it.
Rashi (ad loc. s.v. Gazul) explains that the lulav would not be valid because the verse (Leviticus 24:3) states, “U’lekachtem lachem… – You shall take for yourselves…” (it has to belong to you).
The Gemara in its discussion specifies that this is the halacha for the first day of Sukkot (the first two days in the diaspora), for the verse continues, “… bayom harishon… – … on the first day… [of Sukkot].” However, on the remaining days of Sukkot, on which the obligation is Rabbinical, a stolen lulav would be invalid on the grounds that it would serve a mitzva haba’ah be’avera.
The above ruling follows the opinion of R. Shimon b. Yochai. However, Shemuel rules that since it is only a Rabbinical obligation, it is not considered a mitzva haba’ah be’avera.
According to the view of R. Shimon b. Yochai, we might similarly assume that if one who desecrates the Sabbath is leading the services, he is not blessing Hashem but rather blaspheming Hashem. We thus might classify such a tefilla as a mitzva haba’ah be’avera.
The Gaon R. Yitzhak Yaakov Weiss (Minchat Yitzhak III 26:4) discusses Sabbath desecrators in a responsum addressed to Rabbi Aharon Westheim of Paris, who had noted the following in his question:
“There are many different categories of mechallelei Shabbat.
“There are some who are completely unaware that there is a prohibition to do any labor on the Sabbath, especially regarding hotza’a [carrying from one domain to another].
“There are others who have heard of the prohibition against doing any sort of labor on the Sabbath, but are completely unaware of the gravity of the situation, especially in regard to such labors as turning on an electric switch or carrying. Many of the masses do not understand what type of labor is involved [note: assuming that if it is effortless, it is not considered labor].”
Rabbi Westheim suggests that we might compare this to the Gemara (Shabbos 69a), where R. Yochanan addresses the case of shegaga, the accidental violation of the Sabbath. R. Yochanan states that if one erred as to its karet punishment, even though he sinned intentionally regarding its lav (the prohibitory commandment), he would not be liable.
“There is another type of individual who is knowledgeable about the entire matter of hotza’a. However, due to his conceit and obstinacy, he continues to carry on the Sabbath, ignoring all reprimands in this regard.
“There are still others who, even while aware of the transgression, attempt to conceal their desecration of the Sabbath from others. The Gemara (Erubin 69a) refers to one who was carrying a jewel on the Sabbath, but when he saw R. Judah the Prince he sought to conceal it. R. Judah considered such a person to be a Jew in good standing, and not a mummar, an apostate.”
R. Westheim then asks what the rule would be regarding all the above categories of Sabbath desecrators when it comes to letting them touch wine, including them in a minyan, and allowing them to serve as a sheliach tzibbur, as well as similar situations.
In his response R. Weiss notes that some rule leniently in this regard while others rule more stringently. Referring to the case mentioned in Tractate Erubin, we find that we do not consider one to be a flagrant Sabbath desecrator unless he does not hide from the Nassi, lit. Rabbi Judah the Prince – but actually any sage (Tosefot Shabbat 385, citing Torat Chayyim). However, if he attempts to hide his transgressions from the Nassi (any sage), we refer to him as a hidden desecrator.
R. Weiss proceeds to say that he has seen a different opinion in Darchei Teshuva (Yoreh De’ah 119:34), who cites the Taharat Yisrael to the effect that this only refers to one who violates a Rabbinical law; but if a Biblical law is violated, and ten individuals know about it, he would be considered a public desecrator of the Sabbath.
There are two teshuvot of the Gaon R. Moshe Stern, zt’l, in his Responsa Ba’er Moshe (Vol. 5:94) regarding a mohel who is a mechallel Shabbat lete’avon (to satisfy his desire), but exhibits other Jewish traits, such as donning tefillin, allowing his sons to be circumcised, and praying in the synagogue. Due to the importance of milah in its proper time, it is permitted to allow him to perform circumcisions. However, if his violation of the Sabbath is intentional and he is not seen to observe any other mitzvot, then it is better to delay the circumcision for a day in order to find another mohel to perform the circumcision.
R. Stern qualifies this by stating that the above ruling was issued in the Hungarian city of Debrecen, where the rav and the congregation were regulated closely by the state authorities. However, in places such as the U.S., where we are free to accept or reject whomever we wish, there is no reason to be lenient.
Thus we see that different circumstances tend to create different rulings.
Indeed, we find R. Sternbuch’s decision (Teshuvot Ve’Hanhagot Vol. I, Yoreh De’ah 474) regarding a remote community where, due to an emergency, there was only a choice between two men to lead the services: a kohen who was a Shomer Shabbat but who lived with a gentile woman (she did not convert because, as a kohen, he would not be able to marry her in any event) and a blatant Sabbath desecrator. R. Sternbuch’s opinion was that, as a last resort, the Sabbath desecrator was preferable, for at least this does not directly lead to Jews intermarrying. Yet he adds, ‘Woe to us that we have sinned so much that we have to deal with such questions.’
Similarly, I recently heard that R. Chodokov, who was the longtime secretary to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt’l, said in a speech at a Shluchim convention that he would permit a Sabbath desecrator to lead services in extenuating circumstances, such as the American heartland, ‘because at that moment, when he leads a congregation, is he desecrating the Shabbat?’
In analyzing the theory of mitzva haba’ah be’avera in light of R. Chodokov’s statement, we cannot compare the aforesaid sheliach tzibbur with one who, for example, steals tefillin and now wishes to fulfill a mitzva with this stolen object. When the sheliach tzibbur is leading the services, he is not in the act of desecrating the Sabbath.
My uncle, HaRav Sholom Klass, was only reluctant about a Sabbath desecrator leading the services, but as far as joining the quorum, he steadfastly felt that we must extend our hand to those who come to the synagogue to pray, as that in itself is a sign of their good intentions. Indeed now, especially during the period of his yahrzeit, we apply that which we learn in Tractate Yevamot (97a), “The lips of a [deceased] scholar, in whose name a traditional statement is reported in this world, move gently in the grave (siftotav dovevot ba’kever).”
In conclusion, if there is a minyan of yere’ei shamayim, it is far better to choose an individual with an undistinguished voice who is free of taint in order to lead the prayer services than a Sabbath desecrator who may possess a fine voice.
Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-a-sabbath-desecrator-leading-services-conclusion/2005/01/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: