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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘TORAH’

Why I Chained Myself to the Temple Mount

Friday, January 13th, 2017


Don’t Bury Me in Hackensack!! As Jacob is on his deathbed in Egypt, he makes his son Joseph swear to bring his remains to the Land of Israel. But why not be buried in Egypt? Rabbi Mike Feuer joins Rabbi Yishai for “Spiritual Cafe” where they discuss Jacob’s final blessings, Joseph’s promise that a redeemer will come, and a wrap-up on the whole book of Genesis.

Then, Yisrael Medad, Educational and Information Resources Director at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, joins Yishai to discuss Jewish rights in Jerusalem, the potential US Embassy move, and why he was arrested on the Temple Mount in 1979.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

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

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

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: Rabbi Weiss (in his Minchas Yitzchok) writes: “Now, indeed, Keri’at haTorah is without doubt a rabbinic requirement considering that it exists due to the enactments of Moses and Ezra (as we find in the Gemara, Bava Kamma 82a, and Rambam, Hilchot Tefillah 12:12). However, it is a congregational requirement. As regards to an individual, though, we might say that the necessity of Keri’at haTorah is not comparable to that of tefillah. So it would seem to me.”

He continues: “I have found in the sefer Leket Ha’kemach Ha’chodosh (90:52) that its author also deliberated about this matter but did not reach a definitive conclusion. We might, however, prove from the Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 135:14 and in his commentary Biur Halacha op cit., s.v. ‘ein meivi’in’) that the reason we do not bring a Sefer Torah to prisoners is because we say that the obligation to hear Keri’at haTorah, according to the letter of the law, is not incumbent on the individual when matters beyond his control prevent him from going to shul.”

The Mishnah Berurah in his Biur Halacha commentary states as follows: “It also seems evident that when someone is absolved from any obligation to go to shul, it follows that is he absolved of any need to organize a minyan to come to him in prison, even if doing so entails little or no effort. Only when there is already a minyan of prisoners are we to bring them a Sefer Torah.”

(A side note: We know that it is common practice nowadays to bring a Sefer Torah to a house of mourners. However, we only do so because in most instances there is a specific Sefer Torah designated for that purpose. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, a minyan specifically assembles in a house of mourners, not only to console them, but to assure that they are able to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish on behalf of the departed soul. Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukaccinsky [Gesher Ha’Chayyim Vol II. 8:3] maintains that we would not bring a Sefer Torah to a mourner’s home if the minyan consists entirely, or even mostly, of mourners. Such a minyan need not hear Keri’at haTorah.)

Concerning tefillah b’tzibbur, the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 90:9) states: “If due to matters beyond a person’s control he is prevented from joining the congregational prayer, he should align his tefillah with that of the congregation and pray at the very same time they pray.” The Magen Avraham adds: “This leniency only applies if gathering a minyan entails a measure of difficulty; otherwise we always opt for strictness in regards to tefillah b’tzibbur.”

We thus see that when confronted with a choice between the tefillah b’tzibbur and Keri’at haTorah, we should opt for the former.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

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

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

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: I received an email from a reader who took exception with our citation of the Mechaber (Q&A, part V, 12-16-16) to the effect that tefillah is a rabbinic, not a biblical, obligation and therefore doesn’t supersede Keriat haTorah. He argued that there is no such statement in the Mechaber’s writings.

Indeed, he is correct; this citation was based on my misreading of the Minchas Yitzchak. The Talmud (Ketubot 19b) teaches that one is not allowed to possess a sefer with mistakes (that is uncorrected), as Job 11:14 states: “ve’al tashken b’ohalecha avlah – let not evil dwell in your tent.” So, it is imperative that I correct my error. The authority who states that tefillah (and Keri’at haTorah) is a rabbinic obligation is Rabbi Meir Arik (Responsa Imrei Yosher, vol II:171-173, published in Krakow in 1925).

The reader noted as well that this statement flies in the face of the Rambam who in the very beginning of Hilchot Tefillah (1:1) states: “It is a biblical command to pray every day.” The reader, though, is over-simplifying matters. Just a few lines later, the Rambam states that the obligation to pray is based on Exodus 23:25: “Va’avad’tem et Hashem Elokeichem – You shall serve Hashem your G-d,” which according to tradition refers to tefillah – as does Deuteronomy 11:13: “u’l’ovdo b’chol l’vavechem – and to serve Him with all your heart.” Our sages (Ta’anit 2a) explained: “What is a service with all one’s heart? Tefillah.” The Rambam writes that the number of tefillot in the course of the day is not of biblical origin, nor is the text of the prayers. Biblically, there isn’t even a set time for prayer. All these are of rabbinic origin. From a biblical standpoint, a person fulfills his tefillah obligation if he says a very short prayer (tefillah kol d’hu) of his own composition which recognizes the Creator. Such a prayer would not require a minyan, much less attendance at shul.

So neither contemporary tefillah nor Keri’at haTorah is a biblical obligation and, as such, neither obviously supersedes the other. Tefillah is more common (tadir) but Keri’at haTorah is more mekudash. It’s not clear which is more important; the Gemara (Zevachim 90b-91a) leaves this question open.

Rabbi Weiss (in his Minchas Yitzchok) was asked whether an ill person allowed to leave his sickbed for a very short period of time should daven with a minyan or hear Keri’at haTorah. In his answer, he quotes the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 90:9): “One should make every effort to pray in shul with the congregation; however, if he is anus (subject to matters beyond his control) and unable to go to shul, he should fix his prayer [and concentration] to the time the congregation prays…”

The Mechaber is actually quoting (and obviously agreeing with) the Tur whose own words in this matter are as follows: “A person should exert himself utilizing all his physical strength (b’chol kocho).” Thus, it seems that the Mechaber is telling us that insofar as tefillah is concerned, even though one is required to go to great lengths to daven with the tzibbur, it is clear that doing so is not an imperative. It thus seems clear-cut that, given the choices, Keri’at haTorah should take precedence.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

TORAH SHORTS: Parshat Vayigash: Party Sacrifice of Peace

Thursday, January 5th, 2017
Up until the time of Jacob, the animal sacrifices that our ancestors brought to God were completely consumed by fire. The entire beast was burnt in a ceremony known in Hebrew as a Korban Olah. This act demonstrated a total submission and entreaty to God. It all went to God. Jacob does something different.
Jacob is informed that his beloved long-lost son Joseph was alive and not dead as he was lead to believe for twenty-two long years. As he rushes down to Egypt to reunite with Joseph, Jacob offers a different type of sacrifice, which is called Zevachim and also Shelamim (peace offerings). In this sacrifice, part of the animal is burnt upon the altar, but here man also partakes of the meat of the sacrifice.
In the words of Rabbi Hirsch on Genesis 46:1:
“[The peace offerings] express a loftier concept, that of “God coming into our midst.” They are therefore offered in the happy awareness that wherever a family lives in harmony, is faithful to its duty and feels that it is being upheld by God, there God is present. That is why the spirit of the Shelamim, the “peace offerings” of a family life blessed by God, is so typically Jewish. The concept of surrendering to God and permitting oneself to be absorbed by Him has begun to dawn also upon non-Jewish minds. But the thought that everyday life can become so thoroughly pervaded by the spirit of God that “one eats and drinks and while doing so, beholds God,” that all our family rooms become temples, our table altars, and our young men and young women priests and priestesses – this spiritualization of everyday personal life represents the unique contribution of Judaism.”
“The reason why Jacob-Israel at this point did not offer a Korban Olah, but Zevachim, is that now, for the first time, Jacob felt happy, joyous and “complete” (“Shalem” in Hebrew also means “complete” or “whole”) within the circle of his family. It was under the impact of this awareness and this emotion that he made a “family offering” to God.”
Part of the point of the Shelamim sacrifice was to share it with family and friends in a festive celebratory spirit: to consecrate the meal, to make the meal itself holy and have God as part of the celebration.
May we have many causes of celebration and holy festivities.
Shabbat Shalom


Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

The Soul of Israel: The Arduous Path to Redemption [audio]

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Rabbi Shlomo Katz is joined by Rabbi’s Ari & Jeremy in this powerful program. Learn how strength and wisdom can be drawn from the epic drama of Joseph and his brothers. How does this story help us to make sense of the confusing times in which we live.

The Land of Israel

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

Thursday, December 29th, 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: Previously, we considered whether Keriat haTorah, which is mekudash, overrides tefillah which is not mekudash but is more tadir.

* * * * *

Rabbi Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak) writes that the Taz (Orach Chayim 681) maintains that the more frequent of the two takes precedence. He also refers us to Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Responsa 9).

It would seem that Keriat haTorah, unlike tefillah, is not an obligation of the individual. That’s why the Mechaber (O.C. 146:2, based on Berachot 8a) permits one whose “occupation” is Torah to turn away before the Sefer Torah is opened for Keriat haTorah and continue studying Torah.

The Rema (O.C. 55:22) writes that people in a town having difficulty getting a minyan may force one another to assemble via fines. That way, the “tamid” (tefillah, which is in lieu of the korbanos) won’t be eliminated.

The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc sk 73) explains: “Since there is a minyan in the town the mitzvah of tefillah b’tzibbur is incumbent upon them.” He writes that in small communities, the people may force students and others engaged in studying Torah to stop and come to shul. Only in larger communities, he writes, is it proper for students to pray in yeshiva.

So great is tefillah b’tzibbur that the Talmud (Berachot 47b) relates the following: R. Eliezer once arrived at shul and saw that there were only nine people present. So he emancipated his Canaanite slave, making him the tenth man. The Gemara immediately wonders how he could have acted in this manner considering that the Torah states “l’olam ba’hem ta’avodu – you shall work with them in perpetuity” (Leviticus 25:46). Isn’t violating a prohibition to fulfill a positive commandment a mitzvah habah ba’aveirah? The Gemara answers that freeing a slave is permitted for the sake of a mitzvah. We thus see that tefillah is so great that it even overrides a biblical prohibition.

Rabbi Weiss notes that this story illustrates how important gathering a minyan for tefillah is. Indeed, the Gemara (Berachot op. cit.) states that the first 10 people in shul receive a reward equal to that of all those who come after them. If so, we can only imagine the reward of one who labors to assemble a minyan. Our sages (Avot 5:18) have actually already told us: “Sin will never befall one who benefits the masses.”

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

TORAH SHORTS: Parshat Miketz: Joseph, Social Economist

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016
But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings. -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Joseph correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, warning of seven years of plenty followed by seven year of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed by Joseph’s abilities that he appointed Joseph as his Viceroy and put him in charge of the Egyptian empire. Joseph takes the reins of the kingdom and distinguishes himself by creating storehouses for the grain, overseeing the orderly sale and distribution of the grain during the famine, and successfully managing and developing the overall Egyptian economy.

Rabbi Hirsch, in his commentary on Genesis 41, points out two noteworthy economic policies that Joseph instituted during the years of famine.

The first policy was that people had to pay for the grain that he distributed. Though the storehouses of Egypt were overflowing with “uncountable” amounts of grain, Joseph still charged the starving population for it. Rabbi Hirsch explains that had Joseph handed the grain out for free, it would not be valued by the population. People don’t value or appreciate handouts as much as something that they have to pay for.

The second policy was that Joseph sold only enough grain to each family to feed that family. He did not sell wholesale. There were only retail sales. He wanted to prevent a situation of hording, speculative buying and enterprising capitalists cornering the grain market.

Although socialists may have preferred free handouts and capitalists would have preferred freer access to wholesale deals, investments, a fluctuating market, speculation, and letting their capital work for them, Joseph’s policies insured that Egypt survived the famine.

A balanced economic policy seems to have been exactly what the country needed.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanuka Sameach

Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/torah-shorts-parshat-miketz-joseph-social-economist/2016/12/28/

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