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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘TORAH’

Q & A: A Missed Torah Reading (Part III)

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Question: If a person was ill on Shabbos and unable to go to shul to hear Keri’at haTorah, must he have someone read it to him in shul upon his recovery?

Isaac Greenberg


Last week we quoted from “Prayer: The Proper Way” by HaRav Yaakov Simcha Cohen zt”l who cites the Mishnah (Megillah 23b) stating that Keriat Ha’Torah is considered a form of kedushah and therefore requires the presence of a minyan. Rabbi Cohen wonders why Torah study requires two berachot and cites the Bach who explains that the first berachah is a birkat hamitzvah while the second is a praise of Hashem that satisfies the biblical mandate (Deuteronomy 4:7-10) to never forget that we were chosen, from all the nations, to receive Hashem’s Torah at Mt. Sinai.

* * * * *

Rabbi Cohen continues: Based upon this theory of the Bach, it is possible to clarify the raison d’etre of Keriat HaTorah. Since “asher bachar banu” is the basic berachah said prior to reading the Torah, it is logical to assume that it relates to the prime purpose of Keriat HaTorah: namely, to keep the revelation at Mount Sinai alive in the minds of the Jewish people.

The Ramban specifically states that Deuteronomy 4:7-10 – “Only take heed to thyself lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart thy heart all the days of thy life, but bring them to the knowledge of thy children and thy children’s children – the day that thou stood before G-d at Choreb” – explicitly prohibits forgetting the revelation. Indeed, this exhortation is one of the 613 primary mitzvot. (Those who disagree with the Ramban contend that this verse does not refer specifically to the revelation; rather, it is a general prohibition against forgetting Torah.)

The Rambam rules that Moshe Rabbeinu enacted the original ordinance of Keriat HaTorah (Hilchot Tefillah 12:1). It seems that Moshe Rabbeinu wished to ensure that the Jewish people would cherish its holy legacy, the Torah, so he decided to make them read it constantly in a manner that would remind them of the revelation on Mt. Sinai. That is why Keriat HaTorah is classified as a form of kedushah and requires the presence of a minyan. Just like the Torah was given in public, so too must Keriat HaTorah be performed in public.

The Torah was not given to individuals on Mount Sinai; it was given to a people – Klal Yisrael – and all of them, therefore, were in attendance. Revelation, the ultimate source of our national soul and pride, is the true seed of kedushah. The blessing “asher bachar banu” does not relate to the private obligation of individual Jews. It is an affirmation that Jews are involved in Torah only because they are members of Klal Yisrael. Keriat HaTorah is a means of implanting the belief that the sanctity of the Jewish people is interrelated with the sanctity of the Torah.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Secrets of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron [video]

Friday, November 25th, 2016

See NEVER BEFORE SEEN aerial footage of the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs!

Hear EXCLUSIVE testimony from one of the only living people to have entered the actual Machpela Cave!

Walk the same 4,500 year old steps that the biblical Abraham ascended himself.

Video of the Day

When Ishmael Finally Repents

Friday, November 25th, 2016

“And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of the Machpela… (Breishit 25:9)

Rashi comments that we see from this Pasuk that Ishmael repented, as he yielded the precedence to Yaakov.

What was the sin of Ishmael that was rectified and required repentence?

There were 2 groups who denied the lineage of Isaac.

Last week, Rashi spoke of those skeptics who claimed that Avraham and Sara could not possibly be Isaac’s parents, rather they found a baby on their doorstep. A lie, but plausible.

Next week Rashi opens with the illogical claim of the cynics of the generation, the “letzanei hador”: Isaac was Sara’s child, but the father was Avimelech. This contention is absurd, as Avraham fathered Ishmael. It was Sara who was barren.

The Sforno teaches that when the Torah tells us that Ishmael was “metzachek”, it was that he spread the lies of the “letzanei hador” and poked fun of the great feast that Avraham and Sara threw in honor of Yitzchak’s weaning.

The Meshech Chochma points out that the public recognition and acknowledgement by Ishmael, of Isaac as the primary son of Avraham and Sara, corrected the travesty that he promulgated some 70+ years previously.

Today we are confronted by anti Semitism. Some manifestations, while vile, are theoretically plausible. Often they are absurd lies that are so remote from any actual possibility.

One day the perpetrators will repent and denounce their wicked ways and lies. It may be sooner than we think.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rav Yitzchak Korn

Q & A: A Missed Torah Reading (Part II)

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Question: If a person was ill on Shabbos and unable to go to shul to hear Keri’at haTorah, must he have someone read it to him in shul upon his recovery?

Isaac Greenberg


Answer: My late dear friend, colleague, and Jewish Press columnist HaRav Yaakov Simcha Cohen zt”l was asked (Prayer: The Proper Way, p, 177): “Is it necessary to have a minyan present for Keriat Ha’Torah? What is the purpose of Keriat Ha’Torah?”

He responded: “Yes. The Mishnah rules that Keriat Ha’Torah may not take place unless a minyan (quorum of ten Jews) is present, The Gemara provides the rationale by contending that Keriat Ha’Torah is a form of kedushah (sanctification of the holy Name) and there is a general rule that all matters of kedushah require a minyan (Megilla 23b). What is not immediately apparent is why Keriat Ha’Torah is categorized as a form of kedushah, while the personal study of Torah is not vested with such status. One may assume that even if a Rabbi taught Torah to a thousand students, this would not transform the Torah study to a status of the same type of kedushah. At issue is the fine distinction between Keriat Ha’Torah and the mitzvah of Talmud Torah.”

The Tur (Orach Chayim 47) discusses the various berachot that must be recited prior to Torah study each day. He notes: “There is another berachah over Torah, namely “asher bachar banu – who has selected us [the Jewish people].” When reciting this blessing one should keep in mind the revelation on Mount Sinai when He selected us from all the nations, brought us to Mount Sinai, and made His words heard…and gave us His Holy Torah, which is our life and treasure.”

The Bach contends that the Tur is actually providing a solution to a major halachic question, namely: Why does Torah study require saying more than berachah when every other mitzvah requires only one berachah to be said beforehand. The Bach suggests that:

“The first berachah [“la’asok b’divrei Torah”] is a typical birkat hamitzvah recited before the observance of a mitzvah. The second berachah [“asher bachar banu”] is not a birkat hamitzvah. It is a form of thanksgiving and praise for receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai. Scripture states, ‘Only take heed to thyself lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart thy heart all the days of thy life. Bring them to the knowledge of thy children and thy children’s children – the day that thou stood before G-d at Choreb…’ (Deuteronomy 4:7-10).”

Thus, concludes the Bach, the second berachah is a means of observing the Biblical mandate of never forgetting the revelation at Mount Sinai (Orach Chayim 47).

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: A Missed Torah Reading (Part I)

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Question: If a person was ill on Shabbos and unable to go to shul to hear Keri’at haTorah, must he have someone read it to him in shul upon his recovery?

Isaac Greenberg


Answer: No, but let us look at the sources on this topic. The Rambam (Mishneh Torah 12:1) writes: “Moses enacted that the Jewish people read from the Torah in public on Shabbos, Monday, and Thursday in order that three days not go by without hearing the Torah. And Ezra enacted that they also read from the Torah every Shabbos afternoon at Mincha as a benefit to the idlers. He enacted, as well, that three people should read the Torah on Monday and Thursday and they not read less than 10 verses.”

The Kesef Mishnah (ad loc.) refers us to a baraita (Bava Kamma 82a): “Ten ordinances were enacted by Ezra: that the Torah be read publicly at Mincha on Shabbos; that it be read on Monday and Thursday; that the Courts sit on Monday and Thursday….” He then writes that the Gemara states that the enactment to read the Torah on Shabbos at Mincha was made for the yoshvei keranot (lit., those who sit at the corners). Rashi writes that this term refers to shopkeepers who are so occupied with their businesses the entire week that they are unable to go to shul on Mondays and Thursdays.

The baraita states that the enactment to read the Torah on Mondays and Thursdays was made by Ezra, but the Gemara finds this difficult to believe and asks: “Was this an enactment of Ezra? Surely, this was enacted earlier. As we were taught in a Baraita: The Torah (Exodus 15:22) states: ‘vayel’chu sheloshet yomim ba’midbar v’lo motz’u mayyim – and they traveled three days in the desert and they did not find any water.’ Those who expound the verses explain that ‘water’ refers to Torah as Isaiah 55:1 states: ‘hoi kol tzomei l’chu la’mayyim – Ho, everyone who thirsts go to the water.’ When three days passed without Torah, they immediately became exhausted. Therefore, the prophets among them rose and enacted that they read the Torah on Shabbos, skip a day, read on Monday, skip Tuesday and Wednesday, read yet again on Thursday, and then skip Friday, in order that they not go three days without Torah.”

The Kesef Mishna explains that “the prophets among them” actually refers to Moses who was the greatest of the prophets. Now if Moses enacted the thrice-weekly reading, what did Ezra enact? The Gemara answers that the original enactment was that one person read three verses, or that three men read three verses corresponding to the priests, Levites, and Israelites. Ezra enacted that three men be called up and between them a minimum of 10 verses be read corresponding to the 10 batlanim (lit. idle ones).

Important to this discussion is how many people are called up to read from the Torah on Shabbos morning when we read the entire parshah. The Mishnah (Megillah 21a) states: “On Monday, Thursday, and Shabbos at Mincha three are called to read, no fewer and no more, and we do not call to read the Haftara from the Prophets. The one who is called to read recites the opening blessing and the closing one. On Rosh Chodesh and Chol ha’Moed four are called to read, no more and no fewer, and we do not call to read the Haftara from the Prophets. The one who is called to read recites the opening blessing and the closing one. This is the rule: Any situation where there is the additional [Musaf] service and it is not Yom Tov, four are called to read. On Yom Tov five are called, on Yom Kippur six are called, on Shabbos seven are called. We may not detract from that number but we may add to it. Additionally, regarding Shabbos and Yom Tov, the additional aliyah of maftir is not included in any number limitations of those called to read from the Torah.”

The Rema (Orach Chayim 282:1), based on the fact that the Mishnah sets no upward limit on those called to the Torah for the Yom Tov reading opines (in the name of the Rambam, Maharam, and Beit Yosef ) that the number of those called may be increased – just like on Shabbos. He also cites the Ran, though, who rules that we may not call up more than five people on Yom Tov; he states that not doing so is the custom in Ashkenaz lands. The only exception is on Simchat Torah when many additional people are called.

Regarding the 10 batlanim: Rashi (sv “asara batlanim”) explains that these were 10 people of fine, impeccable character who were engaged purely in the needs of the community and, as such, were charged to come posthaste to shul to always assure the presence of a minyan. In consequence of their service, the community provided for their livelihood.

The Rambam – with his statement that “Moses enacted that they read from the Torah in public” – infers very clearly that the reading of the Torah may only be with a minimum quorum of 10 since 10 people constitutes a rabim/tzibbur.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Praying for Sodom

Friday, November 18th, 2016


First, Knesset Insider Jeremy Saltan on how Trump might effect Israel’s policies, how the Muslim call to prayer in the middle of the night might be noise pollution, and how the small community of Amona is making big waves. Then, on Spiritual Cafe, Rabbi Mike Feuer joins Yishai to discuss Abraham’s adventures including praying for Sodom not to be destroyed, having a baby at a hundred and laughing about it, kicking out the “Egyptian” son, and finally, almost sacrificing the miracle child to God.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

Torah Shorts: Weekly Biblical Thoughts: Parshat Vayera

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

The ancient biblical city of Sodom was considered particularly evil. God eventually decides to destroy the city and almost all of its inhabitants. However, before He does so, He notifies our patriarch Abraham. What then ensues is a surreal haggling between God and Abraham as to how many righteous people in Sodom it would take to save the city.

Abraham starts the bidding at fifty people and God agrees. Abraham quickly lowers the bid to forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty and finally ten. God agrees to each of Abraham’s offers. Abraham stops at ten, apparently understanding that he can’t ask for less than ten righteous people to save Sodom. It turns out there aren’t even ten. Sodom is subsequently destroyed in a dramatic telling in Genesis Chapters 18 and 19.

Rabbi Hirsch on Genesis 18:1 wonders as to why God informs Abraham of His plans and enters into the bizarre negotiation. Rabbi Hirsch explains that God wanted Abraham to understand and be aware of the evil of Sodom so that Abraham’s descendants should never become like the people of Sodom. They should beware of the horrendous example of those people.

However, the episode also demonstrates Abraham’s love of humanity. It didn’t matter to him how despicable the Sodomites were. They were human beings created in the image of God and he would make every reasonable effort he could, even arguing with God, to save them. Abraham was not an isolationist looking out exclusively for his own interests. He did look out for his family and allies first, but he did not turn a blind eye to the suffering of others.

May we surround ourselves with and look up to good examples.

Shabbat Shalom

Dedication: To the memory of Leonard Cohen. His music reached and inspired many.

Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/torah-shorts-weekly-biblical-thoughts-parshat-vayera/2016/11/16/

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