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November 21, 2014 / 28 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Pirkei Avos’

Parshas Korach

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Vol. XIII No. 25 5772

New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
June 22, 2012 – 2 Tammuz 5772
8:11 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Sabbath Ends: 9:26 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Korach
Weekly Haftara: VaYomer Shmuel (I Samuel 11:14-12:22)
Daf Yomi: Nidah 32
Mishna Yomit: Yevamos 14:1-2
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 70:4-71:1
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Nedarim chap. 10-12
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:16 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:12 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 4

Parshas Emor

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 19                                    5772

New York City CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
May  11, 2012 – 19 Iyar 5772
7:43 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

 

Sabbath Ends: 8:55 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Emor
Weekly Haftara: VehaKohanim HaLeviim (Ezekiel 44:15-31)
Daf Yomi: Tamid 26
Mishna Yomit: Yevamos 3:5-6
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim  53:14-16
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos  Ishus chap. 2-4
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:41 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:18 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 4
Sefiras HaOmer: 34

Where Is The Tzaddik? Look In The Mirror!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Let me begin by thanking The Jewish Press for inviting me to write a regular column for the Jewish world’s leading weekly, which reports the news and sets the pace on issues so important to us all.

My column is called “Charming Nation” as my goal is to make my brothers and sisters aware of how charming we are in the eyes of the Holy One Above.

I’d like to offer the following question: At the Pesach Seder we read about the four sons – the wise, the wicked, the simple and the one who does not know how to ask – but where is the righteous son, the tzaddik?

Every time we mention the rasha, the wicked son, we can’t help but think of his antithesis. But the righteous son, the tzaddik, is absent in the Haggadah.

When we get to the portion concerning the four sons, doesn’t every father and mother start looking around the table at his or her children and thinking about what category each child is in?

But do parents realize that they, too, are children? Who am I? And who is my wife (because when we talk about “son” we mean daughter, too)?

And is each son or daughter absolutely wise, wicked simple or dumb? Or are they a little of this or that?

Personally, I think there’s a little of each one inside me, and my inner struggle is to know how to control and deal with all sides of myself.

Now, in this Pirkei Avos season, let’s go to chapter four of the Ethics of our Fathers where Ben Zoma asks, Who is wise? Who is strong? Who is rich? Who is honored? Again we see the absence of the tzaddik, the righteous. Why?

The answer is found in the phrase from Isaiah we read each time we are about to study the Ethics of the Fathers: “v’amech kulam tzaddikim” – your nation is phenomenal in that each individual is a righteous person.

Let’s apply this to the Haggadah and the four sons (daughters): “One is a wise righteous son, one is a wicked righteous son.” Wait, how could this be? A wicked righteous son?

I found such a beautiful insight in the Gutnick Chumash, which quotes the Lubavitcher Rebbe as asking how we could name a Torah portion after Korach, a man who challenged Aaron and insisted on becoming high priest, dragging along so many people with him, aggravating Moshe Rabbeinu and causing the earth to swallow people alive.

And the Rebbe said, don’t look at his deeds but rather his intentions – he longed for holiness, something every Jew should do. As Ben Zoma says, “Who is wise? He who learns from all people.” Even Korach showed the “tzaddik” in himself, because Hashem’s nation is a kehilla of righteous individuals.

All of the above is actually an introduction to this newest chapter in my life.

Many of you may know that I’m on the radio in New York nightly, reporting the news from Israel on Zev Brenner’s Talkline from my home in Israel, where I’ve had the privilege to live for the past 28 years.

As was reported last week on JewishPress.com, ax-wielding intruders attempted to break into a building, directly behind Kever Rachel in Bethlehem, and I, acting in my capacity as building manager, managed to stop them.

The loud whacks were actually heard on both the Zev Brenner and Country Yossi radio programs as this time I was quite literally delivering the news live from Israel.

I had come to the rescue of a tzaddekes named Evelyn Hayes, who purchased the building over ten years ago and has now been locked out. The intruders see Evelyn as the real intruder and they think some loophole in the original sale might win them the building.

Like Korach, they see themselves as righteous even in their wickedness. They saw me as a wicked man who wouldn’t allow them into a building they believe they are entitled to.

This is one big balagan that includes the four sons of the Haggadah – the wise, the wicked, the simple, and even those who don’t know how to ask.

I am looked at by Evelyn as righteous, by the other side as wicked, all this while “A voice is heard on High, Rachel weeps for her children…. and the children will return to their borders.”

Parshas Tazria-Metzora

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 17                                                   5772

New York City

CANDLE LIGHTING TIME

April 27, 2012 – 5 Iyar 5772

7:28 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

 

Sabbath Ends: 8:39 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Weekly Reading: Tazria-Metzora

Weekly Haftara: Ve’Arba’a Anashim (II Kings 7:3-20)

Daf Yomi: Me’ilah 12

Mishna Yomit: Chagigah 2:6-7

Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 46:8-47:1

Rambam Yomi: Hilchos  Chametz u’Matzah 8 – Shofar v’Sukkah v’Lulav 2

Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 5:01 a.m. NYC E.D.T.

Latest Kerias Shema: 9:27 a.m. NYC E.D.T.

Pirkei Avos: 2

Sefiras HaOmer: 20

Today, the 5th of Iyar, is Yom Ha’atzma’ut – Israel’s Independence day. (Celebrated Thursday, 4 Iyar, one day earlier)

What We Can Learn From Trees

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Tu B’Shevat is not just “another day.” It’s the Rosh Hashanah for trees, one of four roshei hashanah that occur in the Jewish calendar year (Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1).

What’s so important about a New Year for Trees?

We live in a world filled with dark foreboding, ominous news and difficult tests. There is little obvious basis for hope, but we Jews always live with hope.

Where is the hope?

“Days are coming when Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill the face of the earth like fruit” (Yeshayah 27:6/Haftarah Parshas Shemos).

Why is Redemption compared to the growth of a tree?

Even the mightiest tree arises from a tiny seed, invisible not only because of its size but because it is buried underground. No one but Hashem knows it exists. It draws nutrients from the earth and sustenance from the rain that seeps downward. Perhaps the seed will not survive; it may be eaten by an animal or simply be too weak to flourish.

But some seeds do survive. They put out tiny, threadlike filaments, which in turn absorb more nutrients. All this takes place in darkness under the earth. And the tiny plant grows. When the air begins to warm in the world above, those filaments poke tiny tendrils above the soil. A tender shoot creeps up through the surface of the earth and absorbs the warmth of the sun. Now additional strength flows into the plant and the root branches out below, absorbing more moisture and nutrition, pushing deeper and becoming stronger.

Above and below, the plant grows, the tendrils becoming thicker and longer. As the days warm, the shoot grows more quickly.  Soon it becomes visible. As it reaches upward, it strengthens itself below, its roots thickening and lengthening to support the growth toward the sun.

What does this have to do with us?

“A righteous man will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar in the Lebanon he will grow tall.  Planted in the house of Hashem, in the courtyards of our God they will flourish. They will be fruitful in old age, vigorous and fresh they will be – to declare that Hashem is just, my Rock in Whom there is no wrong” (Tehillim 92).

Plants are not all alike. Grass is different from a tree, as we see from the same Psalm: “When the wicked bloom like grass and all the doers of iniquity blossom, it is to destroy them till eternity….” If our roots are deep and our head is trying to reach toward Shamayim, we will be strong and stable, but if our roots are shallow like grass and our head is near the earth, we may be vulnerable on the Day of the Great Mowing.

Let’s try to learn from the life of a tree. We live in a loud, brash world. It is considered commendable to be aggressive, to prevail over others, to be “number one,” to push ahead, whether on the highway or in business, where the motto is, “kill the competition.” Look at football, for example, where the idea is to push your opponent down and out of your way.

This culture is totally opposed to the culture of Torah. We say every morning (Mishlei 3:19), “What are we? What is our life?…What is our strength? What is our insight?…Are not all heroes as nothing before You, the famous as if they never existed, the wise as if devoid of wisdom and the perceptive as if devoid of intelligence? For…the days of their lives are empty before You. The preeminence of man over beast is non-existent, for all is vain….”

We can learn this from the growth of a tree. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the expanse of the sky tells of His handiwork. Day following day…and night following night bespeaks wisdom. There is no speech and there are no words; their sound is unheard” (Tehillim 19).

Everything holy is hidden.

Hashem is supremely hidden. By definition, He is not perceptible. Those who try to emulate Hashem also try to emulate His invisibility. For this reason, a tzaddik is a hidden person, always trying to flee from recognition. He does not need recognition; his status and stature are from Hashem. “Do not seek greatness for yourself and do not covet honor” (Pirkei Avos 6:5).

The more kedushah, the more hidden.

“Indeed, He will hide me in His shelter on the day of evil; He will conceal me in the concealment of His tent” (Tehillim 27).

The Aron HaKodesh was hidden even when the Beis HaMikdosh was standing, let alone today, when no one knows where it is. Only one person, the kohen gadol, entered the Kodesh HaKadoshim on only one day of the year, Yom Kippur, and that person and that day were enwrapped in sanctity.

Title: Stages of Spiritual Growth

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Title: Stages of Spiritual Growth


Author: Batya Gallant


Publisher: Urim Publishing


 


  


   For today’s Jew seeking to grow spiritually, there’s mussar, and then there is modern psychology. Armed with 20th century research on how behaviors develop and how humans create internal change, today’s Jewish do-gooder has an arsenal of tools beyond Pirkei Avos and the mussar masters to work on problems like, say, gossiping or overeating.

 

   Many frum authors, notably Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski and Miriam Adahan, have blended mussar and modern psychology in their works.

 

   Now, a new book takes this genre a step deeper – offering a serious and comprehensive approach to self-growth that includes deep Torah concepts, mussar applications and proven psychological realities.

 

   Stages of Spiritual Growth: Resolving the Tension Between Self-expression and Submission to Divine Will, authored by Jerusalem-based teacher Batya Gallant, reads like a thoughtful, insightful class lecture, and is meant to be a manual for honing one’s spiritual essence throughout the decades of one’s life.

 

   Gallant uses the text from an essay by R’ Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin (1823-1900) to develop a lifelong Torah-oriented approach towards spiritual growth for the reader, using her background in psychology to add insight, depth and practical applications.

 

   The thesis of the book, drawn from R’ Tzadok’s essay, posits that spiritual growth follows a predictable sequence through the primary middos of chesed, gevurah and emes, roughly translated as loving-kindness, strict authority and truth/integrity, respectively.

 

   Gallant explores the deeper meanings of these traits as well as the different levels inherent in each one and ways for individuals to master them. She also explains how people have natural orientations to different traits and how various stages of life are more amenable to growing in one trait than another.

 

   The section on gevurah, for example, notes the natural sequence of accepting and submitting to authority: a child first accepts authority from his parents, teachers and society. As he matures and moves forward on the gevurah-spectrum, he begins to take responsibility for his decisions and choices, and, hopefully, finds the courage to submit to G-d as the absolute authority.

 

   However, if the individual is stymied by fear of responsibility, he will refuse to choose his own values and think for himself. Thus, this person will never be able to free himself from the dictates of society and make his own choices, which is a prerequisite to submitting to the authority of G-d.

 

   “R. Tzadok’s essay gives the work structure, but I did not study his essay and then decide to explore it in depth,” says Gallant, in describing how the book came to be. “Instead, I came across R. Tzadok’s essay after years of studying the Torah perspective on spiritual growth. R. Tzadok’s essay provided me with a framework that integrated all I had previously studied about chesed, gevurah and emes.

 

   “My perception that this book needed to be written stemmed from my feeling that others were searching for the same clarity that I myself wanted: an understanding of spiritual growth as a task that is assigned to every human being on the one hand predictable and structured, yet on the other hand flexible enough to incorporate one’s individual path.”

 

   Gallant had taught much of the material in Stages of Spiritual Growth to students at the Darchei Bina Women’s School for Advanced Torah Studies in Jerusalem, as well as other classes and forums, and says her students have found that the blend of psychology, mussar and Torah-philosophy yields a very satisfying feeling of comprehensiveness.

The Illusion Of Privacy

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Anthony Weiner is the latest in a long line of public figures caught by surprise at the unveiling of their own closet misdeeds. Weiner (and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the still-presumed-innocent Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and so many others before them) lived in a bubble of false security, created in part by their own hubris. Perhaps their biggest mistake, however, was believing their personal lives were somehow sacrosanct, impermeable, separate and apart from their public lives.

The scary truth – for all of us – is that privacy is often an illusion. Even as we go about our everyday lives, minding our own business, someone might be watching without our knowing it. I am not talking about stalking here, but about the natural consequences of living in a society – any society – especially one with as few degrees of separation as the Jewish community. Unless you live underground and converse only with gophers, your zone of privacy is probably narrower than you perceive it to be.

This truth hit home for me recently when my uncle asked me what I had been doing walking alone along the East River promenade under the FDR Drive on the Sunday before Shavuos. (He was not suspicious, just curious.) For the record, I had gone to a store at the South Street Seaport to buy my son a new shirt for Yom Tov and was getting in some exercise and rare “me time” by walking home. My uncle and aunt had been driving by and had honked their horn vigorously, albeit unsuccessfully, to get my attention.

Later that same week, at the preschool pickup, another mother asked me, “Was that you walking home from Chinatown earlier?” Guilty as charged. Unbeknownst to me, she had been traversing the same route on the other side of the street most of the way.

In both of these cases, there was no snooping, no prying, no “gotcha!” moment – just one person observing another in the course of their normal activities.

And yet, learning that I had been “watched” sent a tiny quiver of discomfort up my spine. Certainly, walking down a public thoroughfare carries no expectation of privacy. Yet when we believe we are in a realm of relative anonymity, we shed some of our innate self-consciousness. That peeling away is freeing – but also a little bit risky. We might do, or not do, things that would otherwise embarrass us, maybe for good reason.

Models walking the runway in the glare of flashing bulbs and hundreds of ogling eyes calculate their every step and gesture. Though hopefully nowhere near as artificial, we, too, calibrate our behavior according to our audience (or lack thereof). But as finite beings with a limited field of vision, literally and figuratively, we can’t always gauge the reach of our words and deeds.

Privacy is much coveted by those with power – the same people who expect a media stampede at the mere mention of a news conference. And how do the scandals that spell their downfalls always break? Someone once part of the circle of trust decides to cash in. Everyone deserves a private life, but those in the public eye, and probably the rest of us, too, should remember that the only actions we can control are our own.

Reflecting on my own experiences as well as the Weiner debacle made me better appreciate the prohibition on maris ayin (doing something in public view that could lead others to sin). The classic example of violating this principle is going into a non-kosher restaurant to buy a drink or use the restroom (barring emergency, of course); even if you do not so much as touch anything treif, an unknowing observer might think the eatery is acceptable – or that religious people like to sneak in a cheeseburger every now and then.

Whether at the bus stop, the airport, or the zoo, you really never know who is watching. It could be a neighbor or it could be a stranger – perhaps one whose opinion of Orthodox Jews will change forever based on how you interact with a sales clerk or family member.

Of course, even if there is no one around for miles, we are always under surveillance from Above. The key to avoiding sin, Chazal teach, is remembering that at all times there is an Eye watching and an Ear listening, and all our deeds are being recorded (Pirkei Avos 2:1). Scary? Yes. But apparently a healthy dose of fear is just what we need to keep from giving in to our own worst impulses. It sure would have done Anthony Weiner some good.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-illusion-of-privacy/2011/06/29/

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