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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Rambam’

Rambam Hospital Doctors Save Gaza Girl with Congenital Heart Defect

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Haifa – When Aya Almasal, 12, left her Gaza home approximately one month ago and headed for Rambam, she didn’t know that this trip would save her life. For several years Aya had suffered from sudden bouts of unconsciousness, and her doctors couldn’t find the cause. About a month ago, Aya set out for Rambam to treat this problem, which had accompanied her since birth. Upon leaving Gaza, she felt ill and the situation steadily deteriorated. As the girl neared Rambam, in Haifa, her heart stopped working and she was, in effect, dead. After repeated attempts at resuscitation, the girl’s heart began to pump and she arrived at Rambam, artificially respirated and in serious danger. At the hospital, Aya was diagnosed as suffering from Long QT Syndrome, a disorder of the heart’s electrical system that causes irregularand rapid heart rate, and had prevented blood from reaching her brain. This had caused Aya to lose consciousness suddenly, and could have killed her.

Shortly after the diagnosis, Aya was hospitalized in Rambam’s Department of Pediatric Intensive Care, where she remained for a week. Doctors there stabilized her condition, and Dr Munder Bolus, director of the Unit of Electrophysiology implanted her with a defibrillator pacemaker. Accompanying drug treatment, the pacemaker supplies an electrical shock which ‘jumpstarts’ the heart during irregularities. After almost a month of hospitalization, Aya felt better, was discharged last Thursday (February 2) and returned to her home in Gaza, standing on her own two feet.

According to Aya’s treating physician, Professor Avraham Lorber, who is head of Rambam’s Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Adult Congenital Heart Defects, Long QT Sydrome is a widespread heart defect that can be controlled with appropriate treatment. “Aya will need a pacemaker all her life,” said Prof Lorber. “She will be monitored to be sure the pacemaker and battery are working correctly.”

Fortunately, Aya had arrived at Rambam in time to receive life-saving treatment. But the girl did not have to die in order to live. Aya’s congenital defect should have been detected earlier. “Every year we treat a number of children with these types of problems,” says Prof. Lorber. “Some patients are diagnosed when they seek treatment for their irregular heart rates, and others in regular check-ups. This early detection of life-threatening problems illustrates the far-ranging implications of preventive medicine.”

Rambam’s Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Congenital Heart Defects treats a wide range of disorders, like Aya’s. A large number of patients,
some 650 children and youth, arrive from neighboring countries and are treated on a humanitarian basis. A number of Palestinian patients are
currently at the department, among them a three-week old infant scheduled for heart surgery, and a 40-day old baby who needs a stent procedure. “Other Palestinian patients are now receiving treatment here or will soon be transferred to Rambam,” states Prof Lorber. Our experience in general
medicine, and in cardiology, specifically, allows us to help most of these patients.”

David Ratner

The Rambam

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

On the twentieth day of Teves we mark the 808th yahrzeit of Rabeinu Moshe ben Maimon, the Rambam (Maimonides). The Rambam (Maimonides) lived from 1135 to 1204. His scholarly works are world-renowned and it is about him that we say, “From Moses to Moses there never arose so great a person as Moses.”

The Rambam was gifted in the study of science, philosophy and medicine. It was in this latter field that his fame spread throughout the Arab world. So much so, that the Sultan of Egypt commanded him to appear in his court. Recognizing the Rambam’s brilliance, the Sultan wanted to appoint him as a minister.

The Sultan had seven categories of ministers, each in charge of a special branch of science and each an expert in his field. The categories were listed as follows: Literature, Philosophy, Geometry, Numerology, Astrology, Music and Medicine.

Appointed Court Physician

The Sultan realized that the Rambam’s knowledge far surpassed that of his ministers and was not sure to what position he should appoint him. The Rambam requested that he be allowed to serve the Sultan directly and be responsible for his health. The plan found favor in the Sultan’s eyes and he appointed the Rambam as court physician.

This immediately evoked bitter antagonism and hatred from all the ministers, especially the leading physicians of the empire. A non-believer, a Jew dared to attain such a high office in the personal life of the Sultan! Soon a plan was set in motion to trap Rambam and cause him to lose favor in the eyes of the king.

The Plot

It came to pass that the king became ill. The Rambam prepared a medicinal potion for the king to drink. However, the ministers bribed one of the trusted servants to put a powerful poison into the medicine. This same scoundrel was then told to warn the Sultan that the Jewish physician was prepared to kill the king by poisoning his medicine. He was told that Rambam had joined forces with the Sultan’s enemies and was promised a rich reward for this dastardly act.

The Sultan was overwrought. He could not believe it of his most trusted physician. However, when the Rambam appeared with his medicine, the Sultan ordered the medicine to be given to a dog. One sip and the dog died.

The Sultan was angry. He would not listen to the Rambam’s pleas that it was the doings of his court enemies. The Sultan condemned the Rambam to death.

“However,” said the Sultan, “because of your years of loyal service, I will grant you the choice of choosing the manner of your death!”

The Plan

The Rambam begged for three days grace to plan his death with his disciples. It was granted. The Rambam immediately went home, gathered his pupils around him and told them of his plan.

“I will permit my enemies, the court physicians, to sever every artery in my body and, in this way, they will be convinced that I must bleed to death,” explained Rambam. “However, due to their ignorance, they will overlook one of the main arteries near the heart. This artery will contain enough blood to enable me to live a while, although my pulse may appear to have stopped. Rush me home and give me the following herbs and medicines and stop the bleeding. With G-d’s help I will survive.”

The Rambam returned to the court and offered his plan of death to the Sultan. The court physicians gleefully accepted it. In the presence of the Sultan, they severed all of the Rambam’s arteries and watched him bleed to death. Feeling no pulse or heartbeat, they allowed the students to remove the Rambam’s body. The pupils obeyed their master’s instructions and within a few days the Rambam was recuperating.

The Sultan was overwhelmed when he saw the Rambam walk into his chambers. Now he was convinced that the Rambam was innocent. He accused the court physicians of the dastardly plot on both his and the Rambam’s lives.

The Contest

“Only in one way can you convince me of your superiority over the Rambam,” said the Sultan. “I will arrange a contest. You will all prepare poison and put it in each other’s cup. The person who will not die will be the winner, and it will be G-d’s sign that he is the innocent one.”

The enemies of the Rambam were frightened. They pleaded with the Sultan. “He is one and we are many,” they said. “Therefore permit us to drink last and he should be the first to drink our potion.”

The Sultan agreed. The Rambam then requested a few days time to prepare himself. When his pupils heard of this new edict, they rend their garments, fasted and prayed to Hashem.

Every day for one week, the Rambam began tasting various poisons to accustom his body to them. On the day of the contest, the Rambam drank a powerful antidote, which would line his stomach with preventative acids and thus delay the effect of the poisons. He also instructed his pupils to give him other antidotes immediately after swallowing the poison.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Why Did They Kill The Entire City?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

In this week’s parshah we read of the incident involving Dinah and Shechem, the son of Chamor, the nasi of the city of Shechem. Upon learning that Dinah was abducted by Shechem, Shimon and Levi killed all the male residents of the city, including Shechem and Chamor. There are various opinions that explain what the rational of Shimon and Levi was in killing all the inhabitants of the city.

 

The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 9:14) says one of the seven commandments that the bnei Noach are obligated to follow is to set up a judicial system that will judge people who transgress any of the mitzvos that bnei Noach are required to follow. It is also the role of these courts to carry out punishment when a ben Noach transgresses. The punishment of a ben Noach for transgressing any of their mitzvah obligations is sa’if  (decapitation). If a ben Noach witnesses a transgression by another ben Noach, he must bring him to judgment. If he does not do this, the witness is deserving of punishment for not enacting judgment on the transgressor. The Rambam concludes that it is for this reason that the entire population of the city of Shechem was deserving of the death penalty, for they all knew that Shechem kidnapped Dinah – but did not judge him. Therefore they were all guilty of not enacting judgment, thus deserving of the death penalty.

 

The Ramban disagrees with the Rambam and asks the following questions: If everyone in the whole city was guilty and deserved the death penalty, why then did Yaakov Avinu not kill them himself? And if he was afraid of them, why did he disapprove of Shimon and Levi’s actions? After all, they believed in Hashem and did what was right. Additionally, the Ramban disagrees that a ben Noach is not killed when he does not bring another to judgment, since it is a positive commandment and bnei Noach are only killed when they transgress a negative commandment.

 

The Ramban writes that the residents of Shechem in fact deserved death, but for other reasons. He says that all of the seven nations of Cena’an worshiped idols and transgressed with arayos (immoral relations) and many other abominations whereby they deserved death. However, Yaakov believed that the penalty for these actions was not for Shimon and Levi to carry out. Additionally, Yaakov knew that they did not kill them for this reason, but rather in retaliation for what happened to Dinah. Thus he disapproved, and scorned them for acting out their anger.

 

The Ramban adds that when Yaakov initially heard all of his sons telling Shechem and his father to circumcise the entire city’s populace, he did not object because he thought that they would only use this ploy to rescue Dinah and then leave. Indeed while the rest of the brothers only intended to rescue Dinah, Shimon and Levi intended to take further action.

 

I want to suggest that according to the Rambam we can better understand the reason that Shimon and Levi did not kill the women of Shechem. The Rambam writes (Hilchos Melachim 9:14) that a woman cannot testify against, or judge, a ben Noach. Therefore the women of the city were not guilty of not trying Shechem, since there was nothing they could have done about it. However, according to the Ramban it is not clear why Shimon and Levi did not kill the female inhabitants of the city, since in his view they too deserved the death penalty. Perhaps they felt that in order to achieve retaliation it would suffice to only kill the male inhabitants, even though the females deserved death as well.  Additionally, this may have been an indication to Yaakov Avinu that they were acting solely out of retaliation and not to carry out the penalty that was due them.

 

The Ramban, in his dispute with the Rambam, said that although the residents of Shechem and the rest of Cena’an deserved the death penalty, it was not incumbent on Yaakov or his sons to carry out the judgment. I believe that the Rambam disagrees with the Ramban on this point. The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 10:11) writes that the beis din of Yisrael is obligated to arrange judges for the gerim ha’toshavim that will judge them according to their laws, unless they see that they have their own judges. The Rambam adds that this is for the sake of the world.

 

The Maharam Shik (Teshuvos Orach Chaim 142) writes that according to this Rambam, beis din in Eretz Yisrael has an obligation to establish courts for the gerim ha’toshavim, comprised of either fellow gerim ha’toshavim or Jewish judges. Outside Ertetz Yisrael, beis din does not have this obligation. But if beis din wishes to establish a court system in order to maintain the correct lifestyle, they have this right – and are “zocheh la’shamayim.”

Rabbi Raphael Fuchs

Q & A: Ayin Hara (Part II)

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Question: I know there is a dispute in the Gemara regarding ayin hara, the evil eye. Can you discuss the origin of it?

Ben Glassman

(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Rambam (Hilchot Gezela v’Aveidah 13:11) and the Mechaber (Choshen Mishpat 267:18) write that one who finds a garment must periodically air it out, but not when there are guests around. This halacha is based on Bava Metzia 29b, where the gemara mentions two reasons for avoiding displaying a found garment before guests – either because of ayin hara or because of possible theft. Neither the Rambam nor the Mechaber mention the ayin hara concern. The Aruch Hashulchan (Choshen Mishpat, Hilchos Hashavat Aveidah 267:11) records the same halacha but adds that the finder may air out the garment before guests if he is sure they are people of integrity, in which case, there is no concern of theft or the evil eye. The Bach, to the Tur (C.M. ad loc.), mentions that the Rambam and the Mechaber only mention theft and not ayin hara because the concern of theft is easier for the general populace to understand. (The Rosh and the Rif mention both reasons.)

* * * * *

Let us delve into the biblical source for ayin hara (since there would be no halachic basis for being concerned about the evil eye if our sages did not find this concept grounded in scripture). We read in Parshat Lech Lecha that our Matriarch Sarah, childless after many years of marriage to Abraham, gives her maidservant Hagar to Abraham as a wife in order that she bear him children. Hagar immediately conceives and becomes so enamored of her pregnancy that she becomes disrespectful to her mistress. Sarah then confronts her husband, “Chamasi alecha; anochi natati shifchati becheikecha, vateirei ki harata va’ekal be’eineha. Yishpot Hashem beini u’veinecha! – The wrong done to me is due to you; I gave my maidservant to you, and now that she sees that she has conceived, I became lowered in her esteem. Let G-d judge between you and me!” (Genesis 16:5).

Sarah subsequently deals harshly with her maidservant, and Hagar flees. An angel of G-d finds her near a spring in the desert and asks her where she is headed. She tells him that she is fleeing from her mistress. The angel exhorts her to return to the servitude of her mistress, promising her a multitude of descendants from Abraham. He tells Hagar, “Hinach harah veyoladt ben, vekarat shemo Yishmael ki shama Hashem el onyech – You are [will be] with child and will give birth to a son, and you shall name him Ishmael because G-d heard your affliction” (ibid., 16:11).

The term “hinach harah” can be understood to indicate the future tense as well as the present. In his commentary to the two verses quoted above, Rashi understands the term to indicate the future tense. Based on the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 48:8), Rashi explains that Hagar had suffered a miscarriage and the angel was promising her another pregnancy. The Midrash deduces that Hagar miscarried due to the ayin hara that Sarah had cast upon her.

The power of the evil eye is also alluded to in connection with the famine in the land of Canaan in the days of our Patriarch Jacob. Jacob sent his sons to Egypt (which had a huge storehouse of food thanks to the astute planning of Joseph) to acquire wheat. Jacob said to his sons, “Why should you show yourselves?” (Genesis 42:1). The Talmud (Ta’anit 10b, see Rashi) points out that Jacob’s family had enough wheat to eat. Jacob, however, was cautioning them not to appear sated before the families of Esau and Ishmael because if they did, they would envy them. Thus, the whole mission to buy food in Egypt was primarily intended to ward off the evil eye.

Scripture also tells us, “Va’yavo’u bnei Yisrael lishbor betoch haba’im – And Jacob’s sons came to buy provisions among the arrivals” (ibid., 42:5). Rashi quotes a Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 91:6) that Jacob had also warned his sons not to all enter Egypt via the same gate since they were men of stature and pleasant features, and he wanted to stave off the evil eye of those who might look at them. Thus, he was clearly concerned about an ayin hara.

 

(To be continued)

 

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is the Torah editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Crossword Puzzle – Yom Kippur

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

 

Across

1. Smooch

5. Make like a Manning

9. Adjust

14. Cookie that wasn’t always kosher

15. Fairytale starter

16. Long extinct French currency

17. You might take one on faith

18. Nasal intake

19. Where the Rambam was born

20. Yom Kippur locale (in English)

23. Anti-virus software

26. 23rd Greek letter

27. Like Methuselah

28. Way to get an aliyah on Yom Kippur, perhaps

29. Soy food

32. 1960’S war zone, for short

34. Bizarre

35. What Yom Kippur is for

40. Mr. ___ of baseball

41. Ice cream goes well on top of it

42. Lavan told at least one

43. Don’t do it on Yom Kippur

44. Where we hope we end up after Yom Kippur?

47. Sort of suffix

48. Rocky film with a Rocky loss

49. Inconclusive, as a decree

51. Notable lion

52. Received

54. Spy org.

56. Prays with a siddur, essentially

58. Yom Kippur no-no

62. A Yom Kippur chazzan should sing like this

63. Imitated

64. Positive

68. Costner had one of Dreams

69. Ripped

70. At a great distance

71. ___ up (get nervous)

72. Data on flights

73. Where to learn about Yom Kippur

 

Down

1. ___ Nidre

2. Rage

3. Red or Black

4. Jrs. previously

5. Betting group

6. Pitcher Pettitte

7. Lift out

8. Low feudal class members

9. Plus

10. Framed office item, maybe

11. To no ___

12. Intruded (in)

13. Some bank notes

21. Great Mel of baseball

22. Horse hybrids

23. Horrific weapon

24. YouTube item

25. Increase

30. Opening

31. Be sympathetic

33. Sinned big time on Yom Kippur

36. Former gymnast and sportscaster Schlegel

37. Time to stand on Yom Kippur

38. Enclosed

39. Attributes

41. Fermented Hawaiian food

45. Yom Kippur garb

46. ___ ___ tight ___

50. Anger

52. Fictional wish granter

53. Made from a certain hard wood

55. Furious

57. Written test part

58. Clichéd home for an artist

59. Literary alter ego of note

60. Hercules hater

61. Works by Keats

65. ET vessel

66. Animal giving a part to the end of Yom Kippur?

67. Time frame

 

 

(Answers, next week)

Yoni Glatt

Women, Modern Orthodoxy And Communal Leadership

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The latest round in the broader canvas of debates about the approach of Modern Orthodoxy to the role of women in communal life has focused on the issue of learned Orthodox women receiving some form of rabbinic ordination and serving as rabbis or clergy.

This has been coupled with teasing out the appropriate parameters of women serving as spiritual leaders in synagogues, in some way equivalent to male rabbis (without that actual title being used). Those in favor of pushing the frontiers forward on substance and titles have made it clear they accept the limitations of the restrictions of normative halacha, such as a woman not being able to lead the congregation in chazarat hashatz or serving as a witness for a kiddushin at a marriage ceremony.

The most substantive halachic argument generally put forward against women receiving some form of rabbinic ordination and serving as spiritual leaders in synagogues is the import of the Rambam’s famous ruling on serarah. In Hilchot Melachim 1:5, he maintains that not only are women excluded from serving as king in a halachic state, but all positions of serarah – communal authority – are barred to women.

Many commentators have noted that it is difficult to find an explicit source in our standard texts of midreshei halacha and Talmud for this far reaching position. (Such a view is found in one version of the Sifrei discovered in the Cairo Geniza.)

Indeed, as many halachic scholars of the past and present (e.g., Rav Moshe Feinstein, Igrot Moshe, YD II: 44) have noted, the Rambam’s position seems to be rejected by a good number of rishonim and is not cited as normative halacha in subsequent halachic codes such as the Shulchan Aruch.

Even if one is careful to work within the Rambam’s parameters, it is still critical to clarify what exactly is included under the rubric of serarah. Should it be understood broadly to refer to almost any communal position of authority or status, whether it involves an appointment by fiat or an elected position, as well as whether or not it involves coercive power?

Many rabbinic scholars have taken that expansive point of view. They therefore would feel that almost any position of communal authority should be barred to women. In this paradigm a woman serving as president of a shul or as a rabbi of a synagogue (or a principal of a girls school with authority to hire and fire male faculty) would raise halachic problems.

Other rabbinic scholars, however, have taken a much more limited reading of the Rambam and maintain that the definition of communal serarah (and thus the subsequent restriction) should be limited to those communal positions of authority that truly mimic the kingship model. In this paradigm, only positions that are imposed on the populace with some absolute powers would fall under the Rambam’s categories of serarah. Therefore, a rabbi of a synagogue hired by election and fired at the will of the congregation and board would clearly not fall into the category of some inappropriate position of authority, even according to the Rambam.

Other authorities of note have pointed to the concept of kaballah – communal acceptance – as obviating the restriction of the Rambam. This view of kabbalah as trumping the restriction of serarah is a position that is adopted by a number of contemporary rabbinic scholars.

Many significant Modern Orthodox poskim (though not all) have taken the lenient position over the last century on issues such as women’s suffrage and election to serve in high office or as president of a shul or a member of a religious council. Indeed, to my knowledge, a number of women have served as presidents of Orthodox synagogues.

Mori verabi Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, in a conversation with former students currently serving in the rabbinate and Jewish education, recently discussed this halachic issue. He noted that it is clear the dati-leumi/Modern Orthodox community and its rabbinic elite have clearly come down in favor of a more narrow reading of the Rambam’s restriction.

He pointed to the fact that for the past two decades religious women have run for Knesset as candidates of dati-leumi religious parties across the board and some have served as members of parliament. In addition, a few have served as ministers in coalition governments with the approval (despite an occasional rumble here and there) of the rabbinic leadership of those parties. These have included scholars such as R. Avraham Shapira zt”l, R. Mordechai Eliyahu, Rav Yaakov Ariel and others.

Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot

‘We Desperately Need To Get Back To Theology’: An Interview with Rabbi Chaim Miller

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

“My particular passion was the teachings of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.” Born to an unobservant family in London, Rabbi Chaim Miller first encountered the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings as a student at Leeds University. “His discourses impressed me in terms of their tremendous intellectual depth and brilliance,” he recalls.

Today, he is dedicated to disseminating these teachings to as wide an audience as possible. His Kol Menachem publishing house, which he founded in 2002 with philanthropist Meyer Gutnik, has already produced a number of popular works with extensive commentary culled from the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s public discourses and writings – the Gutnik Chumash, the Kol Menachem Haggadah and two books on the Rambam’s 13 principles of faith.

The Jewish Press recently spoke with Rabbi Miller about his background and Kol Menachem’s latest volume, The 13 Principles of Faith: Principles VI & VII.

The Jewish Press: What inspired you to become observant?

Rabbi Miller: I was searching. I was a spiritual seeker, philosophizing about life. It never struck me that Judaism really had it. Judaism to me was just dry ritual, attending this soul-destroying synagogue and standing up and down when the ark opened. It didn’t strike me that there was anything profound there.

But then at Leeds University I attended a series of lectures on the theological elements of Judaism run by Ohr Sameach. Then, through some Chabad shluchim, I discovered Lubavitch and the chassidic idea, which I found very compelling. It was really this strange discovery that there could be this philosophical depth in Judaism.

Why are you currently writing a series on the Rambam’s 13 principles?

Well, this is getting back to my original passion. You see, I embraced Orthodoxy because of the brilliance of its theology. The first thing all kiruv organizations teach you is theology – the meaning of life, G-d, theodicy, revelation, etc. They get to the essence of Yiddishkeit. But then, after you’re done with those introductory courses, they say, “Now you’ve graduated, go learn Gemara.”

The mainstream Orthodox community is not particularly theologically orientated and [beliefs are] largely retained by social consensus and social pressure, and there was an element of disillusionment when I discovered that. So there’s two things you can do. You can sit and grumble, or you can try to redress the balance.

How would you characterize your contribution? In what way, for instance, is your book different than other books on the Rambam’s principles?

There are two strands of theology. There’s the medieval philosophical tradition – Rambam, Saadia Gaon, Kuzari, etc. – and then you have the kabbalistic, chassidic tradition. I’m interested in both, but they’ve never really been presented together in one whole unit. So half the book is just little passages of classic texts from both the philosophical and the kabbalistic traditions. The other half is lessons, or shiurim, based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

One of the Rebbe’s passions was theology; most of his discourses veer off at some point into a theological discussion. But there’s almost 200 volumes of his teachings, and his theological discussions are scattered all over the place. They were never organized, systematically analyzed, or laid down before.

Professor Marc Shapiro wrote a popular book on the Rambam’s 13 principles, in which he demonstrates that many great rabbis throughout the generations rejected various elements of the Rambam’s principles. Have you read that work, and, if so, what’s your opinion of it?

I think he’s incorrect. In one of his footnotes he quotes the Chasam Sofer, who writes that there is an idea of consensus regarding matters of faith. [Shapiro dismisses the Chasam Sofer as a lone opinion], but I think the Chasam Sofer was essentially presenting the traditional Orthodox view.

There is a process of consensus. Obviously you can’t just decide what the truth is by a vote. But what actually happens is that the arguments get refined over the years. There’s a debate, various viewpoints are put out there, and then it’s thrashed out. So you actually get a consensus through discussion. It becomes clear what the truth is.

So although there are rishonim who held that God has a body, I think it’s universally accepted today that God doesn’t have a body.

Elliot Resnick

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