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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘learning’

An Open Letter to MK Rabbi Dov Lipman

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

By Rabbi Avraham Edelstein

My Dear Reb Dov,

Even prior to your standing as a Knesset Member, we met in my office and had a positive conversation. From afar, I saw you as a man who had served his nation well in the USA, who had written an excellent book for the unaffiliated, who had gotten involved in trying to make peace between the parties in Beit Shemesh, and who, at some stage, risked parnassa to become a full time social activist. After your election, I sent you a blessing and a message that, among other things, you would use your new-found power for the sake of the Jewish people.

Although I already had doubts about your direction—for Yesh Atid got 19 mandates based on hatred of the Haredim—I still felt that you would engage the Haredim in dialogue, and that you would use your oft-claimed status as a Haredi rabbi to be a bridge between all of our brethren in the State of Israel.

Now I know that that is no longer the case. From the first missed opportunity during your opening speech in the Knesset, you have relished your newfound role in certain circles as being the brave hero who says unpopular things to, and about, your own. Your new friends generously provide you with hourly confirmation that your positions are correct.
The problems you express regarding the lack of parnassa in the Haredi community are real and admitted to by every intelligent Haredi leader. But, as I shared with you when we met, solutions to these problems were being executed even as we spoke. Haredim were going to work in increasing numbers. In fact, last year alone, there were five thousand Haredi males engaged in courses and degree programs that represented a full range of careers. The mainstream Haredi communities no longer stigmatize those men who go to work.

For better or worse, the Haredi community in Israel is in rapid transition, with the Gedolim helping to guide the visionaries who serve to facilitate the process. And in conjunction with the State of Israel, operations like Kemach and Keren Canada, among others, have provided the financial backing.

We Haredim really and truly believe in the Torah. We believe in maximizing its study and we believe in giving up a great deal to do so. Many of us are willing to live in poverty for the sake of learning, and I so admire all those who make that choice. What we want is that others who want or need to go out to work can do so without stigma. This is what is happening now.

But along came MK Dov Lipman and decided to stage a show-down. “There will be war!” came the message. “We must get those Haredim out of those yeshivos!” “We will only allow a tiny amount of the elite to stay in learning, as a grand concession.” “We will starve them out – we will cut their funding if they don’t do the core curriculum, and we will cut their social security, and we will cut their children’s allowances… ” “And we will do all of this for their sakes, for they do not know what is in their own best interests.”

Reb Dov, I am perplexed. How did you move so far away so rapidly?

Did you think that all of our Haredi brethren who were shteiging away in yeshivos would rush into the arms of the army, leaving one avreich here and two there to switch off the lights?

Did you think we were going to give up our daily sacrifice for Torah because you tightened the screws a little bit? Did you think that Gedolim, such as Rav Aron Leib Shteinman, were not deeply concerned, day and night, about the issue of the public’s parnassa? Believe me, the most desperate avriechim go to him, not to you!

I won’t repeat the claims of those who have built a much larger case against you, because once there is a pattern, there is no need to point out every instance thereof. What I am glad about is that you are still calling yourself a Haredi, because it means that you and I can still have a dialogue. What I do worry about, though, is that you are moving so fast out of our realm, you will begin to see us as the enemy that you and your Yesh Atid brethren have to fight. After all, your voters tell you that this is why they elected you.

In Hebrew: ‘To Dial’

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

לְחַיֵּג As language develops, words sometimes depart from their original meaning to take on a similar but new meaning.

Take, for example, the English verb to dial meant something else to do with the word day in its original Latin, but today its main meaning is to press numbers on a keypad.

Likewise, the Hebrew word for to dial - לְחַיֵּג (leh-khah-YEG) – comes from the root ח.ו.ג (kh.w.g), which has to do with circles. This root appears in the children’s song, עוּגָה עוּגָה עוּגָה (OO-gah, OO-gah, OO-gah) - Cake, Cake, Cake, in the word נָחוּגָה (nah-KHOO-gah) - we shall go around (see a translation and transliteration as well as a video of the song).

What do circles have to do with dialing? You may recall the ancestor of the iPhone, the rotary phone, which had a round dial.

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Daf Yomi

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Sow The Seeds Of Repentance
‘This Potted Plant’
(Shabbos 81b)

The minhag to shlag kapparos before Yom Kippur is an old and accepted in many communities. The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 605:1) dismissed this custom and urged that it be abolished. The Rema (ibid.), on the other hand, encouraged it, writing: “Some Geonim and many Achronim cited this custom. It is practiced in all these countries [Ashkenaz], and it should not be abandoned since it is the custom of the pious.”

The earliest known source for this minhag is a Rashi on our sugya. The Gemara discusses a potted plant called parpisa. To define this term, Rashi (s.v. “hai parpisa”) writes, based on teshuvos of the Geonim, that in Talmudic times people customarily made wicker baskets and filled them with earth and fertilizer – one basket for each member of the household. The baskets were called parpisa. Grains or legumes were planted in the baskets 22 or 15 days before Rosh Hashanah, which sprouted by the time Rosh Hashanah arrived. On erev Rosh Hashanah, each person would take his or her designated basket, circle it around his or her head, while reciting, “This is in place of that. This is my redemption, this is my substitute,” and then throw the basket in the river.

What was the significance of this custom? The Chasam Sofer (ibid.) explains that the seeds planted in the parpisa baskets represented a person’s children. People prayed that if a Heavenly decree had been passed against their seed, it should fall it upon the parpisa seeds and not upon their children. This concern was especially prevalent in the time of the Gemara when an epidemic of ascara, a fatal breathing disorder (tuberculosis?), claimed the lives of many children.

People would cast these parpisa baskets into the river because when beis din is unable to carry out the punishment of death by strangulation, Hashem brings about the guilty party’s death by drowning or ascara. They thus prayed that the “drowning” of the plant take the place of the drowning or ascara that might afflict their children, G-d forbid.

Kapparos With A Chicken

Many years later, the custom changed, and people performed kapparos with chickens instead. The Rosh (8:23) cites this custom, and asks why specifically a chicken is used and not a different animal. He offers a simple explanation: chickens were the most common animals to among the impoverished Jewish communities of Europe. Indeed, in more affluent communities, horned animals were used in order to recall the merit of the horned ram that was sacrificed in place of Yitzchak Avinu. Another reason why a chicken was used is because the Hebrew word for rooster is gever, just like the Hebrew word for man. Therefore, a chicken is the most appropriate substitute for man.

Additionally, the Acharonim write that one must never use an animal for kapparos that would be kosher as a sacrifice on the mizbe’ach (such as a dove, sheep, goat or cow) in order to avoid the mistaken impression that one intends to sanctify the animal as a korban (Mishnah Berurah ibid. s.k. 4).

Objections

The Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 605:1) suggests that the sources for the Mechaber’s negative assessment of kapparos are the Ramban and Rashba who sensed a tinge of “darkei Amori – Amorite custom” in this practice (as cited by the Mechaber himself in his longer Beis Yosef commentary to the Tur, O.C. 605).

Widespread Acceptance

Nevertheless, the minhag of kapparos is prevalent today among both Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities. Although Sephardim generally follow the rulings of the Mechaber, who opposed the custom of kapparos, in this case they follow the Rema since the Arizal also attached great importance to kapparos (Kaf Hachayyim 604, s.k. 5)

Interestingly, R’ Yaakov Emden (Shaar Shomayim 112b) writes that even today, if someone does not have chickens or money with which to perform kapparos, he should follow the custom of parpisa and perform kapparos with seeds.

Kapparos On Erev Rosh Hashanah

We conclude with the following interesting note. Although the prevalent custom today is to perform kapparos on, or before, erev Yom Kippur, Rashi writes that it was customarily performed on erev Rosh Hashanah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/daf-yomi-56/2012/12/19/

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