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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘rav’

Greatness Is Humility

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

There is a fascinating detail in the passage about the king in this week’s parshah. The text says that, “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he must write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll before the levitical priests” (Deuteronomy 17:18). He must “read it all the days of his life” so that he will be God-fearing and never break Torah law. But there is also another reason: so that he will “not begin to feel superior to his brethren” (Kaplan translation), “so that his heart be not haughty over his brothers” (Robert Alter). The king had to have humility. The highest in the land should not feel that he is the highest in the land.

This is hugely significant in terms of the Jewish understanding of political leadership. There are other commands directed to the king. He must not accumulate horses so as not to establish trading links with Egypt. He should not have too many wives for “they will lead his heart astray.” He should not accumulate wealth. These were all standing temptations to a king. As we know and as the sages pointed out, it was these three prohibitions that Solomon, wisest of men, broke, marking the beginning of the long slow slide into corruption that marked much of the history of the monarchy in ancient Israel. It led, after his death, to the division of the kingdom.

But these were symptoms, not the cause. The cause was the feeling on the part of the king that, since he is above the people, he is above the law. As the rabbis said (Sanhedrin 21b), Solomon justified his breach of these prohibitions by saying that the only reason that a king may not accumulate wives is that they will lead his heart astray, so I will marry many wives and not let my heart be led astray. And since the only reason not to have many horses is not to establish links with Egypt, I will have many horses but not do business with Egypt. In both cases he fell into the trap that the Torah had warned about. Solomon’s wives did lead his heart astray (1 Kings 11:3), and his horses were imported from Egypt (1 Kings 10:28-29). The arrogance of power is its downfall. Hubris leads to nemesis.

Hence the Torah’s insistence on humility, not as a mere nicety, a good thing to have, but as essential to the role. The king was to be treated with the highest honor. In Jewish law, only a king may not renounce the honor due to his role. A parent may do so, so may a rav, so may even a nasi, but not a king (Kiddushin 32a-b). Yet there is to be a complete contrast between the external trappings of the king and his inward emotions.

Maimonides is eloquent on the subject: “Just as the Torah grants him [the king] great honor and obliges everyone to revere him, so it commands him to be lowly and empty at heart, for as it says: ‘My heart is empty within me’ [Psalms 109:22]. Nor should he treat Israel with overbearing haughtiness, for it says, ‘so that his heart be not haughty over his brothers’ [Deuteronomy 17:20].

“He should be gracious and merciful to the small and the great, involving himself in their good and welfare. He should protect the honor of even the humblest of men. When he speaks to the people as a community, he should speak gently, for as it says, ‘Listen my brothers and my people….’ [1 Chronicles 28:2], and similarly, ‘If today you will be a servant to these people…’ [1 Kings 12:7].

“He should always conduct himself with great humility. There was none greater than Moses, our teacher. Yet he said: ‘What are we? Your complaints are not against us’ [Exodus 16:8]. He should bear the nation’s difficulties, burdens, complaints and anger as a nurse carries an infant” (Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6).

The model is Moses, described in the Torah as “very humble, more so than any person on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12: 3). “Humble” here does not mean diffident, meek, self-abasing, timid, bashful, demure, or lacking in self-confidence. Moses was none of these. It means honoring others and regarding them as important, no less important than you are. It does not mean holding yourself low; it means holding other people high. It means roughly what Ben Zoma meant when he said (Avot 4:1), “Who is honored? One who honors others.” This led to one of the great rabbinic teachings, contained in the siddur and said on Motzaei Shabbat:

Dealing With Your Daughter’s Troubling Relationship

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

I am concerned about my daughter. She is dating a boy whom she is crazy about, but I see certain things in him that make me nervous. He tries to control her and wants her to spend all her time with him. If she has plans with friends or family members, he will often become upset; as a result, she cancels her plans so she can be with him.

As I see this intense connection between them, I understand why she likes him; but to me it does not seem like a healthy relationship. I am worried that she is going to take the relationship with him to the next level – namely, get engaged – and I am not sure how to proceed. I do not want to alienate my daughter and am not sure that this boy is abusive, but I know that his being controlling is a red flag.

What can I say to my daughter and how can I get her to listen to me? When I expressed disappointment that she canceled certain plans in order to go out with him, she became very defensive. I know that her life is her own, but this kind of mistake is not one I am willing to let her make.

A Distressed Mother Dear Distressed Mother:

It appears from your letter that there are definitely some signs that this relationship is not healthy. Isolating someone from their friends and family is definitely a red flag and is usually the first step that abusive spouses take to exert their control over their wives or husbands. Once a person is cut off from her or his support system, it is very easy to manipulate the person and make her or him feel badly about herself or himself, while convincing the manipulated individual that it is her or his fault.

People in an emotionally abusive relationship become entrenched in this cycle of abuse and often do not realize what is happening. Generally it is their friends and family who are the ones to pick up on the abuse and help them out of their situations; however, if they are cut off from family and friends, an extremely dangerous situation ensues.

There are organizations that are very helpful in these matters, such as Shalom Task Force and Shalva. Shalva offers some questionnaires on their website (www.shalvaonline.org), which may help you approach your concerns about your daughter.

The first step is to evaluate what is really going on. Some signs of an abusive relationship are:

* Isolation of a partner from friends, family and community.

* Conflicts are resolved by one partner, who dictates the solution in a demeaning manner.

* Disrespect and denigration of a partner’s values and beliefs.

* Use of criticism and humiliation to reinforce the partner’s shame and guilt.

* Lack of communication is prevalent, as the partner does not feel that she or he can raise issues that are bothering her or him.

* The use of threats and coercion to solve problems.

It may be helpful to share this information with your daughter and print out a screening questionnaire from the Shalva website (see above). This must be done very gently and with much sensitivity. Perhaps you can approach your daughter when things are calm and when she is not feeling torn between her feelings for her boyfriend and those toward her family and friends. Express how much you love her and that you want the best for her. Tell her that you understand why she likes him and you can see some very nice qualities in him. Then explain to her that you see some things that are making you nervous.

Give her, and ask her to read, copies of the questionnaire and the signs of an abusive relationship. Urge her to consider whether she believes that her relationship with her boyfriend is healthy. You must ensure that you do not come across too strongly. However, it is important to remember that even if she becomes upset with you, she may be reacting to shame and insecure feelings – and may look at the paperwork you gave her later on. Show her physical affection (i.e., hugs) if she seems receptive and assure her that you will be there for her regardless of her decision. This will show her that you are not trying to take her away from her boyfriend (something that he may be telling her if he is indeed controlling and abusive) but rather that you care about her and want to support her.

Crossword Puzzle – Walking Advice

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Across

1. Face points?

6. World-weary

11. They’re found in this paper

14. Big deal rav

15. Division signs

16. Y

17. Where not to walk

19. U.S. med. group

20. Doohickey

21. Padan ___

22. Australian anteater

26. Another place not to walk

29. Con

31. Inventor of the stock ticker

32. Kind of rock music

33. Ancient

36. Reason for 17-Across

42. Blood line

43. His head is in Hebron, according to some

45. Apprentice

49. Whitewater riders

52. Preferred walking locale

55. Some tags

56. Equal

57. Downy duck

59. Backstabber

60. Person giving the advice about walking

66. Driver’s lic. and others

67. Ice cream flavor

68. Set up

69. ___ International (professional org.)

70. Sports figures

71. Produce places

 

Down

1. Special effects movie letters

2. ___ Solo of “Star Wars”

3. Israel’s protection

4. ___’wester

5. Motto

6. Scribbles (down)

7. WWII ender

8. “Roxana” author

9. Stately tree

10. Conk out

11. Academy and Tony

12. Go-getter

13. Sailors

18. Pesky insects

21. “Wheel of Fortune” buy

22. Bother

23. Wrinkly, “unattractive” fruit

24. “Yes, ___”

25. Shul altar

27. Parade honoree

28. Romantic interlude

30. “Avengers” superhero

34. Baseball’s Mel

35. A long way off

37. Place to play

38. Bar ___

39. Answer to “Shall we?”

40. ___ Shalom

41. Pottery

44. Battleship letters

45. Flowering plant that sounds like a peninsula near Spain

46. Reno state

47. African fly

48. “Ich bin ___ Berliner”

50. “Beg pardon …”

51. Distant

53. Hajji’s destination

54. Southernmost city of Israel

58. Burrows

60. Good times

61. Gerald Wallace, e.g.

62. Certain investment, for short

63. Mediterranean isl.

64. Thinking sound

65. “Amen!”

 

The Crossword puzzle appears on this page the first week of every month.

(Answers, next week)

Yoni can be reached at yoniglatt@gmail.com.

 

The Twelfth Siyum HaShas Of Daf Yomi

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

This coming Wednesday evening, August 1, will see the largest convergence ever of American Jewry at a daf yomi Siyum HaShas celebration. The event, the Twelfth Siyum HaShas, to be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford in the New Jersey Meadowlands, is sponsored by the Daf Yomi Commission of Agudath Israel of America.

The concept of daf yomi, a daily daf study of each of the 2,711 folios of the Babylonian Talmud, was the brainchild of the Lubliner Rav, Rabbi Meir Schapiro, zt”l, and was both unique and historic when it was first proposed at the Knessia of Agudath Israel in Vienna, August 16, 1923. It meant to unite Jews worldwide in a daily study regimen that would reach its completion every seven years and five months. Needless to say, the project received the overwhelming support of the delegates, who saw this as an opportunity not only to unite world Jewry in one study program but also to assure that all tractates of the Babylonian Talmud would be studied.

While previous siyumim were held on a somewhat grand scale in Eretz Yisrael, in America it would only be in June of 1975 that the first large gathering, the Seventh Siyum, was held in New York’s Manhattan Center with an attendance of 5,000. Realizing that daf yomi was fast taking hold, the Daf Yomi Commission began planning for a larger venue that would accommodate the expected larger crowd at the next scheduled Siyum event.

In reporting on the subsequent siyumim, we cull from archives of The Jewish Press. The Eighth Siyum HaShas was held Sunday, November 14, 1982, in New York’s Felt Forum, where 10,000 people assembled in the presence, and with the participation of, gedolei haTorah, to complete Shas, studying the last folio of Tractate Niddah and then starting the next daf yomi cycle by studying the first mishnah in Tractate Berachos.

The Torah personalities participating in the program were the late Bluzhever Rebbe, Rabbi Yisroel Spira, zt”l, who said that limud daf yomi serves as a link to the nearly decimated Polish Jewry; Rabbi Shimon Schwab, zt”l, rav of K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Washington Heights, NY; Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, zt”l, Rosh Hayeshiva Telshe (Wickliffe, Ohio), who referred to daf yomi as the hatzalah of Klal Yisrael; the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam, zt”l, who delivered the hadran (completion) of Shas; and Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky, the patriarchal rosh yeshiva of Mesivta Torah Vodaath, who began the ninth cycle of daf yomi by reading the first mishnah in Berachos.

The program concluded with Cantor David Wedyger’s recitation of Kel Malei for all the kedoshim brutally murdered by the Nazi beasts during the Holocaust. He then led the singing of “Ani Ma’amin.”

The Jewish Press also reported on the new innovation by Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum, zt”l, the Dial-a-Daf program, a telephone subscription service that became a very popular aid for daf yomi learners.

A portion of the crowd from the 1990 siyum at Madison Square Garden, in the May 10, 1990 issue of The Jewish Press. (Photo by Sender Schwartz UMI)

In 1990, with an even larger crowd anticipated, the venue was changed to the Madison Square Garden Arena in Manhattan. Indeed, on April 26, 1990, 20,000 people gathered for an event that Rabbi Chazkel Besser, zt”l, described as reminiscent of ma’amad Har Sinai.

Torah personalities participating in this program were the rav of New Square, Rabbi Moshe Neuschloss; the Novominsker Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow; Rabbi Shimon Schwab, one of the few to speak in English; Rabbi Yosef Harari-Raful, Rosh Yeshivat Ateret Torah (representing the ever-growing Sephardic community); the Phladelphia rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Elyah Svei, zt”l; Rabbi Osher Greenfeld, rav and rosh kollel, Imrei Chaim Vizhnitz in Montreal; Rabbi Aharon D. Dunner, dayan of Hisachdus Ha’kehillos in London; Rabbi Elyah Fischer, rosh kollel of Gur; and Rabbi Zvi Spira, Bluzhever Rebbe.

The Tenth Siyum HaShas, Sunday, September 28, 1997, saw a large assemblage re-converge not only at Madison Square Garden but at a second location as well, the Nassau Coliseum, with 25,000 people at the former location and 20,000 at the latter.

The two events, which were connected via large screens in live hookup, featured the following Torah personalities; Rabbi Chazkel Besser; Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, the evening’s chairman; Rabbi Yosef Frankel, Violepolla Rebbe; Rabbi Moshe Sherer, the late president of Agudath Israel; the Novominsker Rebbe; Rabbi Mechel Silber, rosh yeshiva, Zhvil in Eretz Yisrael, who was honored with the hadran; Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, rav of the Telzer Minyan in Boro Park; Rabbi Portugal; the Skulener Rebbe; Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Rosh Yeshivas Tifereth Jerusalem; Rabbi Herschel Schachter, rosh kollel, Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan; Rabbi Kassin, chief rabbi of the Syrian Sefardic community; Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, the Matersdorfer Rav; Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh Yeshivas Ner Yisroel; Rabbi Elyah Svei; Rabbi Nosson Scherman, general editor of the ArtScroll Talmud, which has proven to be quite instrumental in the learning of daf yomi; Rabbi Avrohom Pam, Rosh Yeshivas Mesivta Torah Vodaath, who began the 11th cycle; Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Halberstam, the Klausenberger Rebbe; Rabbi Matisyahu Solomon, mashgiach, Beis Medrash Govoha, Lakewood; Rabbi Yissachar Frand of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel in Baltimore; and Rabbi Eliezer Ginsberg, rosh kollel Mirrer Yeshiva and rav of Agudas Yisrael Zichron Shmuel in Flatbush. Cantors BenZion Miller and Yisroel Wulliger also graced the session with their heartfelt renditions.

Criticizing While Respecting

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

My parents, who I love dearly, constantly contradict what I say to my children. They constantly interfere with the way my wife and I raise our children. For her part, my wife is very frustrated with this situation. What makes it harder for her, her parents live out of town while my parents live close by and are thus more involved with our children.

My mother is forever criticizing my wife, who is a wonderful mother and very caring and compassionate with our five beautiful children. My mother has a different view of how to raise children, and honestly, that makes we wish I had a mother more like my wife.

I struggle with low self-esteem, which my wife tries to bolster with her enormous love and sensitivity. I believe that my low self-confidence emanates from having critical parents who never complimented me.

My children are, Baruch Hashem, doing well in school. They have derech eretz, clearly showing that my wife’s childrearing techniques are working. My parents, conversely, are nervous people, and believe that children should be seen and not heard. They believe that we are wrong in not hitting our children. They are so critical that it drives us both crazy. I have spoken to them numerous times about not interfering in the way we raise our children and he last things I want to do is keep the children away from them.

We have spoken to our rav who has made it clear that while we do not have to accept their child-raising suggestions, we are obligated to respect them. Please help us with this challenging situation.

Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

It appears that your parents need to control you in some manner and choose to do so through criticizing the way you raise your children. Critical people are often insecure and need to control others in order to bolster their own self-esteem. Is it possible for you to change the subject when your parents begin to criticize you? If their criticism persists, you can respectfully disagree by saying, “Mom, Dad, is it possible that even if you don’t agree with our childrearing techniques, you can respect our methods and not criticize us? We feel hurt when you constantly criticize the way we raise our children. It is also not healthy for the children to see this disagreement.”

In my professional practice, I see grandparents who were very strict with their own children and then undermine them when they are disciplining the grandchildren. This is incredibly in appropriate. It is only in situations where grandparents witness their children damaging their grandchildren in some way or, chas v’shalom, acting abusively or neglectfully toward them do they have the right to intervene. Even then, they should tread lightly to ensure that their interventions are taken the right way.

I support your efforts to respect and love your parents by not severing the important bond between them and their grandchildren. However, you must demonstrate derech eretz toward your parents when discussing with them their inappropriate, meddling behavior and when telling them that you do not want to ever be faced with the possibility of having to sever that very important bond. If your parents realize how serious you are, they will hopefully back off. Continue to be supportive of your wife by working with her in continuing the successful chinuch that you are giving your children.

As for hitting your children, I too do not generally believe in that technique. Sometimes, though, hitting young children gently in order to explain a point may be appropriate. A rav I once spoke to about hitting shared this perspective. The rav felt that American parents who generally hit their children do so in order to pacify their own frustrations, i.e., they hit to rid themselves of their self-anger.

Al pi halacha, we are not allowed to hit children when we are angry. Some tzaddikim were known to hit their children gently when they were not angry in order to teach them. Since we are not on their madreigah and we generally hit our children to alleviate our own frustrations, it is forbidden for us to do so.

Here is a beautiful story that I learned from Project Derech: The eight sons of Rav Shlomo Carlebach, a rav in Germany, all grew up to be rabbanim. Whenever one of his sons was late to minyan, his punishment was to not get jam on his toast. But Rav Carlebach also did not put jam on his own toast, to show the child that he felt his pain and would thus deny himself that eating pleasure as well. This level of childrearing is one that we should aspire to. If we deny ourselves of a small privilege and therefore share the pain with our children, they will be less likely to have punitive feelings toward us and will ultimately have a very deep regard for us, their parents.

Azkara Held For Rabbi Yoseph Oziel

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

The Shul of Bal Harbour, 9540 Collins Avenue in Surfside, held an askara (commemoration) marking seven days since the passing of Rabbi Yoseph Oziel on Tuesday, July 10. Minchah services were followed by divrei Torah from prominent rabbis and concluded with Arvit.

Rabbi Oziel was the beloved and highly regarded spiritual leader of Hechal Shalom-Sephardic Congregation of Surfside. The rabbi was a respected talmid chacham and rav and had opened a kollel in his synagogue only two months ago. He was 42 years old.

Rabbi Oziel is survived by his devoted wife and eight children. His wife is expecting their ninth child.

The grief-stricken community is trying to put together a trust fund for the family. Please contribute by mailing your check to: Young Israel of Bal Harbour, POB 545985, Surfside, Florida 33154. Please make a notation that you wish this contribution to go the Oziel family.

Q & A: Tisha B’Av And Mourning

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Editor’s note: We interrupt our “Chazzan and Congregation” series for this timely discussion on Tisha B’Av. Part IX of “Chazzan and Congregation” will appear next week.

* * * * *

Question: I was taught that due to our state of mourning on Tisha B’Av, we are not allowed to learn or discuss Torah – a topic that makes us happy and weakens our mournful state. Why, then, are we allowed to read from the Torah at Shacharit and Mincha on Tisha B’Av? Also, does the halacha of not learning apply to a regular mourner as well?

Menachem
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: Yoreh De’ah 384:1 (based on Mo’ed Katan 15a) states, “During the entire seven-day period [of mourning], a mourner is forbidden to read from the Torah, Prophets, Writings, Mishnah, Gemara, halachot and aggadot – except if people need him to teach them. In such a case, it is permissible.”

We also find a similar ruling regarding Tisha B’Av, our national day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, as the Mechaber notes (Orach Chayim 554:1).

The reason behind the prohibition, according to the Shach (Orach Chayim ad loc.), is the verse in Psalms (19:9), “Pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev, mitzvat Hashem barah me’irat eynayim – The commands of Hashem are right; they gladden the heart. The commandment of Hashem is of such clarity that it enlightens the eyes.” Torah has the power of offering unique enjoyment and pleasure. A mourner in his bereavement is not supposed to enjoy this delight.

It is interesting to note that this Shach is at variance with the Mechaber who gives a different source for this halacha. He cites Mo’ed Katan 15a, where we learn that a mourner is prohibited to utter words of Torah since Hashem stated (Ezekiel 24:17), “He’anek dom – Sigh in silence.” Hashem only precluded Ezekiel from any manifestation of outward sorrow. All other people were supposed to publicly mourn, explains Rabbenu Chananel, explicating the position of our sages.

The Gemara (in Ta’anit 30a) states that all customary restrictions on an ordinary mourner during the seven days of mourning apply to the community as a whole on Tisha B’Av. However, there is a difference. On Tisha B’Av, one is prohibited from eating and drinking (Rashi s.v. “asur be’achila uvi’shetiya” explains that these two restrictions apply only to the mourning for the Temples’ destruction).

The Gemara in Ta’anit explains that one is prohibited from (washing and) anointing, donning (leather) shoes, and engaging in marital relations. One is also forbidden to read from the Torah, Prophets, Writings, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, as well as halachot and aggadot. However, one is permitted to read material that he usually does not read. (Rashi s.v. “be’makom she’eino ragil likrot” explains that since this material is beyond the mourner’s familiarity and understanding, it actually causes him distress.) One may also read Kinot and Job and the elegies in Jeremiah.

Young schoolchildren – tinokot shel beit rabban – should remain idle (i.e., we do not study with them on Tisha B’Av), in accordance with the verse (Psalms 19:9), “Pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev – The commands of Hashem are right; they gladden the heart.” R. Yehuda disagrees and states that the learning restrictions apply even to material that one is unfamiliar with. The only exceptions to the no-learning rule, he maintains, are Job, Kinot, and the elegies in Jeremiah.

In any event, we see that both verses apply: the verse from Ezekiel as well as the verse from Psalms.

Regarding the reading of the Torah in shul on Tisha B’Av during Shacharit and Mincha, the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 554:4) writes as follows: “One is permitted to read the complete order of the day [i.e., the order of the daily prayer service] as well as the portion of the korbanot, the Mishnah of Ezehu Mekoman (Tractate Zevachim, chapter 5) and the midrash of Rabbi Yishmael (Beraita, in Sifra). (The latter three constitute the portion of tefillah referred to collectively as korbanot.)

The Rema adds that one is allowed to review the parshah on Tisha B’Av. However, both the Ba’er Heiteiv and Mishna Berurah (ad loc.) note that this applies only to the chazzan, who reads the Torah publicly for the congregation. His reading and advance preparation are obviously considered tzorech ha’tzibbur (a public need).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-tisha-bav-and-mourning/2012/07/18/

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