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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘TORAH’

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

Thursday, December 15th, 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: The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 135:7) refers to Sefer Sha’arei Ephraim which discusses whether a congregation that missed Keri’at haTorah must make sure to hear it. It argues that it must if the majority of its members missed it. If the majority, however, heard Keri’at haTorah in another synagogue, it need not make up the missed keri’ah. It seems from this ruling that Keri’at haTorah is a public obligation of the congregation, not one incumbent upon each individual.

Rabbi Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss (Responsa Minchas Yitzchok Vol 7:6) was once asked about a bedridden patient who was given permission by his physician to depart his house on Shabbos for just one half hour. He did not know whether he should go to shul for a portion of davening or for Keri’at haTorah (since, for davening, he still had the option of praying at home at exactly the same time as his shul – see Mechaber and Rema, Orach Chayim 90:9).

The Radbaz (Responsa 13, cited by the Mishnah Berurah) was once asked a related question by a prisoner who was given permission to leave prison for just one day. He ruled that the prisoner should not wait for Yom Kippur or a Yom Tov to take his furlough; rather, he should leave prison immediately and pray with a congregation. He should not let the mitzvah before him pass him by.

Based on this ruling, Rabbi Weiss argues that the ill patient given permission to leave his house for half an hour on Shabbos should leave immediately and daven Shacharit with his congregation and not concern himself with Keri’at haTorah. He notes as well that although the Mishnah Berurah maintains (Bi’ur Halacha, O.C. 146), in accord with Shibolei Ha’Leket, that the requirement to hear Keri’at haTorah is on each individual, he himself writes elsewhere (Bi’ur Halacha, O.C. 135) that an individual unable to go to the synagogue is not required to hear Keri’at haTorah.

Rabbi Weiss cites numerous views concerning which take precedence: tefillah or Keri’at haTorah. According to the Bach, cited by the Magen Avraham (O.C. 135), Keri’at haTorah is a Biblical obligation since it was an enactment of Moshe; tefillah, in contrast, is a rabbinic obligation. The Mechaber, though, dismisses this reasoning and rules that both are rabbinic obligations. If so, which one takes precedence? The one that is more common (tadir): tefillah.

Keri’at haTorah, though, is considered more sanctified than tefillah. What is more important: frequency or sanctification level? The Gemara (Zevachim 90b-91a) does not resolve this question.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

TORAH SHORTS: Parshat Vayishlach: The Darkness Will Pass

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016
As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. -Carl Gustav Jung
After twenty years, Jacob escapes from his treacherous father-in-law, Laban, only to approach his deadly brother, Esau. The night before his fateful meeting he is accosted by an angel. They wrestle the entire night, and only with the approach of dawn does Jacob get the upper hand on his otherworldly opponent. It is at that momentous encounter that Jacob is named Israel, the name we carry to this day.
Rabbi Hirsch on Genesis 32:27 explains that throughout the night, the adversary appears to be stronger. With daybreak, suddenly Jacob sets the terms to end the conflict. The single request is the recognition that Jacob is deserving of a blessing and not of persecution. Rabbi Hirsch elaborates: “…only by paying him such recognition will the nations bring blessings also upon themselves, and only thus will the promise, “and through you will all the families on earth be blessed, and through your seed” [Genesis 28:14] be fulfilled.”
The enemy fights ceaselessly throughout the night to destroy Israel. When morning approaches the enemy is ready to give up, but Jacob will not cease his struggle until he is accorded recognition by being blessed.
Rabbi Hirsch continues:
“The goal of history is not that Jacob should be forced to merge into the mass of nations, but the reverse. The nations must come to understand that precisely those principles which Jacob has championed and held aloft amidst all these struggles hold also the happiness of those nations which adopt them as their own.”
The night will pass, daybreak shall come. We will emerge stronger and victorious and will both receive and bestow blessings. It is already coming to fruition.
Shabbat Shalom,
To Bob Dylan on his Nobel Prize


Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

Pro-Koran Reform Rabbi Yoffie Says Torah Causes Terrorism

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

{Originally posted to the FrontPage Magazine website}

A few years ago “Rabbi” Eric Yoffie, a Reform clergyman spoke at an Islamic Society of North America convention, an anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood organization that supported Hamas, and denounced Dennis Prager for criticizing the Koran.

At ISNA, Eric Yoffie sanctimoniously warned that…

There exists in this country among all Americans — whether Jews, Christians, or non-believers — a huge and profound ignorance about Islam. It is not that stories about Islam are missing from our media; there is no shortage of voices prepared to tell us that fanaticism and intolerance are fundamental to Islamic religion, and that violence and even suicide bombing have deep Koranic roots. There is no lack of so-called experts who are eager to seize on any troubling statement by any Muslim thinker and pin it on Islam as a whole. Thus, it has been far too easy to spread the image of Islam as enemy, as terrorist, as the frightening unknown.

How did this happen?

How did it happen that Christian fundamentalists, such as Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham, make vicious and public attacks against your religious tradition?

How did it happen that when a Muslim congressman takes his oath of office while holding the Koran, Dennis Prager suggests that the congressman is more dangerous to America than the terrorists of 9/11?

Mr. Yoffie knows what the real source of terrorism is. The Bible. And the Jews.

Referring to the Torah, the Jewish bible, Eric Yoffie wrote,

“The reason for Jewish terror is Torah. It is not territories and occupation that are to blame, although they are part of the picture. It is not racism or hatred of Arabs that are at fault, although they play a role. The heart of the problem is Torah, the sacred teachings of Judaism.”

Then Eric Yoffie puts on his best pair of jackboots and demands that Jewish religious schools be closed. “If a single yeshiva student is implicated in terrorist activities, the yeshiva must be closed.”

Maybe Yoffie would care to set up some sort of organization for the purpose of closing Jewish schools and synagogues he politically opposes. The Communists had a group like that called the Yevsektsia. The left’s real endgame is outlawing religion. They will, if necessary, pretend to be Rabbis and even run organizations they call synagogues, but their endgame is a war on religion.

Does Mr. Yoffie propose closing any mosques whose member commits an act of terrorism? Somehow I doubt it. The mosque and the Koran are sacred. The Bible, to bigots like Eric Yoffie, is hateful.

The left is showing its true ugly face. It doesn’t just support Muslim terrorists. It hates Jews.

This proposal comes from the same cretin who responded to Burn-a-Koran Day with shock and horror. “We can scarcely find words to express our revulsion at the Dove World Outreach Center’s “Burn a Koran Day,” scheduled for September 11. Only those whose minds have been tainted by evil and acrimony would undertake to organize a sacrilegious event such as this and to do so in the name of God and religious piety.”

They proposed burning the Koran. That’s terrible. Now if they burned the Torah, Eric Yoffie would be gleefully tossing armfuls of bibles into the flames while cackling with glee.

But Christians shouldn’t feel left out. Eric Yoffie hates you almost as much as he hates Jews.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, said “religious right” leaders believe “unless you attend my church, accept my God and study my sacred text you cannot be a moral person.”

“What could be more bigoted than to claim that you have a monopoly on God?” he said during the movement’s national assembly in Houston, which runs through Sunday.

Claiming that anyone who disagrees with you is a bigot who should be locked up?

Yoffie did not mention evangelical Christians directly, using the term “religious right” instead. In a separate interview, he said the phrase encompassed conservative activists of all faiths, including within the Jewish community.

“We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations,” Yoffie said. “Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry.”

And if there’s one thing Eric Yoffie is an expert on, it’s hateful rhetoric.

While Herr Yoffie might disagree with Hitler on banning gay groups, both anti-Semites are on the same page when it comes to banning yeshivas.

Daniel Greenfield

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

Thursday, December 8th, 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


The Rema (Orach Chayim 135:2), citing the Ohr Zarua, writes as follows. “If a Shabbos passed without the Torah being read publicly, the missed parshah should be read the next Shabbos along with that week’s parshah.”

The Magen Avraham (op. cit. 135:4) adds: “And the same ruling applies if a congregation began reading the parshah but did not conclude it due to some sort of quarrel. If that Shabbos’ reading, however, consisted of two parshiyot, the congregation shouldn’t read three parshiyot the next Shabbos as we don’t ever find an example of halacha requiring us to read three parshiyot. And reading two of the three parshiyot is not tenable because we never find a corrective remedy that only goes half way.”

The Magen Avraham continues: “If the portion involved is Parshat Vayechi, it should not to be read together with Parshat Shemot because when two parshiyot are read we need to call someone up for an aliyah which will extend from the first parshah into the second so that they be joined together; doing so, though, is improper if two different sefarim [Bereishit and Shemot] are involved.”

The Ba’er Heitev (op. cit. 135:4) essentially agrees with the Magen Avraham, but

refers us to the Ateret Zekeinim (op. cit. 135) who writes as follows: “It seems to me that if the congregation missed the Monday reading due to uncontrollable circumstances, it may read it on Tuesday so as not to violate Ezra’s enactment that we not go three days without reading from the Torah.”

He continues: “One may only make up a Monday reading on Tuesday if the reading was missed accidentally. If it was missed intentionally, it should be treated, it seems to me, like a tefillah missed intentionally (discussed in Orach Chayim 108) which cannot be made up.” He then goes on to dismiss the comparison as one surely should not freely violate Ezra’s enactment.

Notwithstanding, Ayshel Avraham (op. cit.), citing Mas’at Moshe, rules that there is no remedy, the proof being that when a Shabbos reading is missed, we read it on the following Shabbos rather than Sunday. Why? Because there are only certain days on which it is proper to read the Torah.

Dagul Mirvavah (op. cit.), referring back to Rema’s original statement about a missed Shabbos Torah reading, states that if whatever issue prevented the Torah from being read in the morning – perhaps a strife – was later resolved, the parshah should be read at Minchah with the full seven aliyot.

Rabbi Shlomo Luria (Chochmat Shlomo op. cit.) relates that he was once asked in a certain town about making up Parshas Pinchas the following week when Matot-Massei was due to be read. He said no in accordance with the Magen Avraham’s ruling. The Magen Avraham discussed making up two parshiyos the following week when one parshah was due to be read. The case presented to Rabbi Shlmo Luria was the exact opposite, but the principle behind both rulings is the same: We don’t read three parshiyot on one Shabbos.

He raises the suggestion of reading two parshiyot the next week and another two parshiyot the week after that. The problem with this solution, he writes, is it would entail reading Pinchas with Massei and Matos with Devarim. But we learned above that we cannot read two parshiyot from two different sefarim (Bamidbar and Devarim, in this case) on the same Shabbos.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Women of the Wall: Warring Against Torah

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Before I proceed with the topic of this article, I should clarify that I oppose many contemporary and popular versions of “Wall Worship” associated with the Kotel (Western Wall). For one, I consider the practice of inserting kvitlach (letters to G-d) into the ancient stones to be a distorted one, which has no place in proper Jewish thought. This isn’t my personal position but one shared by many genuine Torah scholars. On a more basic level, I am also concerned with the unbridled religious fervor many people have for the actual physical structure, which people sometimes deem as something fit to venerate and worship.

In many ways, I view the wall in the same manner as I do the graves of the righteous. It has its place in Jewish context, but usually not in the popular way that it is manifested. On the contrary, those who visit graves as “holy sites” are often the last people who should be visiting them. And oftentimes those with connect notions are reticent to engage in such activities, because they are aware of the many halachic and hashkafic problems relating to such visits. Certainly, at the very least, one who visits graves or the wall should be careful that their thoughts and actions accord with proper Torah notions. Proper deyot (thoughts) make for a proper visit. False notions ensure a less than ideal experience.

The Kotel is a sign of the enduring churban. A place which reminds us and in certain cases mandates the tearing of kriyah as a sign of mourning. Yet our energies should be focused on the Arab Waqf’s control of Har Habayit (the Temple Mount), which is our holiest site. This should be the true battle, not Herod’s lone retaining wall which remains firmly in our hand. The presence of The Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque are an intolerable chillul Hashem and the greatest example of the destruction of the Temple, and of the current degradation of self-imposed dhimmitude to appease the Jew hating world.

Yet the Western Wall is indeed important, historically, symbolically, and religiously. The custom of praying and crying out to G-d at the Wall is well entrenched, and in that sense, it has become the world’s most prominent synagogue. For those who won’t halachically ascend, for one reason or another, it is the closest location the average Jew will approach to the site of the Temple. As such, basic standards of Halachah should be enforced, and the site should certainly be regulated by religious figures. (I will not get into a discussion of political religious forces which unfortunately exist and typify the dilemma of the invariable clash when religion becomes politicized.) And those who would seek to publicly trample upon Jewish mores should be stopped. The “Woman of the Wall” are one such feminist group.

Feminism’s War Cry

I oppose feminism and the proponents of this subversive ideology, be it the standard secular version, or the supposed Jewish version which even draws religious women to their ranks. “Women’s rights” is the purported desire, but in truth, it is an ideology opposed to the most basic constructs of a Torah life. The basic premise is that men have imposed a patriarchal chauvinistic template of societies throughout history, a system which supposedly oppresses and limits women’s expression.

Invariably, women who abide by this ideology have radical beliefs when it comes to what they call freedom of choice, namely that abortion is the right of a woman. We Jews are not Catholics and the Torah recognizes degrees of viability of life, and so in Judaism the mother’s physical welfare always comes first. Regardless of whether the Torah views the life of the fetus in precisely the same manner as the life of the mother, the Torah mandates strict regulation to ensure that the baby isn’t harmed. In fact, deliberate abortion is a capital punishment for the Noachide. So, one of the most important issues of feminism has no place whatsoever in a Torah Jew’s ideology. Nor can many of their notions be reconciled with Torah, despite the pathetic attempts of “religious feminists” to use strained distorted pilpulistic tactics (despite it being an invention of “patriarchal Rabbis”!) to further their agenda.

Shrill Angry Feminism

Each month, we are forced to endure orchestrated l’hachis (deliberate) stunts from the angry shrill feminists of the “Women of the Wall” who seek to alter traditional religious customs of prayer and decorum at the Kotel. The more recent controversies with these troublesome malcontents involves the prohibited smuggling of Torah scrolls into their designated prayer section. They have no interest in concessions or designated spots which they choose to ignore. They want to cause provocation in the main plaza. These women refer to themselves in Hebrew as “Nashot Hakotel” and the reason given shows that they are a definite byproduct of Western feminism with a Jewish face. Consider their explanation for the linguistically incorrect term “nashot”:

Why Neshot Hakotel?

In Hebrew, the word for women is nashim. Since – ‘im‘ is generally a masculine plural ending and –’ot’ is generally the feminine plural ending, nashim is an exception to the linguistic rule. We chose to use neshot, similar to the way second-wave American feminists have chosen to use womyn for woman and wimmin for women. It is a pro-female assertion that seeks to remove the linguistic dependency of the word woman or women on the word man or men, since unfortunately these female words have largely and historically been characterized as a derivative of the male, a statement with social implications.

Their agenda is naked. Theirs is a carbon copy of the American version of this malady. Which gets to the crux of the issue, many of the leadership are radical American Jewish women and men and they are importing their distorted philosophy to Israel. While some were born in Israel and many have been olim for many years, their ideology is a Western movement which doesn’t even resonate with most secular Israelis. But in time, if left unchecked, their impact will only grow, and yet another anti-Torah voice will be given a chair at the table of Jewish thought. It won’t be long before a renegade “open orthodox” Rabbi will publicly join their movement and give it a troublesome stamp of something that can accord with Halachah.

Why trample upon Halachah if only to agitate? Is the wall so critical for those who would have deemed the halachic system of male Kohanim and male Leviim to be misogynistic? Were there any women in Sanhedrin? Those who would have a problem with the historical background of what they would deem “male chauvinism” should have no say in matters relating to an ancient religious Jewish site, or the mores of religious practice pertaining to the location.

The fact that they are provocative and loud and insistent that men “hear” them speaks volumes. The fact that many of them oppose the alternate site, a quieter, less “touristy” location shows clearly that they aren’t interested in accommodating all sensibilities. They are fueled by anger and they want to evoke a reaction, and they have. Some reactions are coarse and aggressive. But it is hard for me to sympathize with these vindictive types. When I saw footage of a religious woman putting one of these obnoxious Women of the Wall in a headlock, I couldn’t help rooting for the judo tactician. Deliberate vindictive types are a chillul Hashem, and one woman clearly had enough.

And yet these “live and let live types” are the most intolerant of all. Reverence for the Kotel means nothing. If anything, they hope to evoke a violent response, since it will invariably weigh in their favor, if the response is vicious enough. That will delegitimize all mainstream religious efforts to oppose them, and will probably lead to some unprecedented ruling in their favor.

Many similar issues relating to women’s partnership minyanim were introduced to several prominent poskim in the 1970’s and 80’s. The general consensus was that even on issues that were deemed theoretically OK, such actions were prohibited because they would surely be motivated by un-Jewish values. There may very well be righteous women in the world who require tefillin (phylacteries) to fulfill themselves religiously, having actualized themselves in all other religious realms. Such woman may have even been granted permission from respectable mainstream gedolim (Torah sages) to engage in this worship. But such women would be unknown to us, because their intrinsic modesty would never allow it to become a public issue. They would be as far from feminism as heaven is from hell.

Fortunately, the most recent visible counter-response to the WOW were from religious women, thus saving us from the vile editorials from Ha’aretz, demonizing religious men. If the “Women of the Wall” continue their provocations next month and the authorities don’t clamp down on them, there will be more whistles, headlocks, and who knows what else. Because their l’hachis malicious nature is finally getting to people who are fed up with their chutzpah. If they persist in their brazen disregard for tradition, they should be locked up and fined. V’zehu.

The orchestrated spectacles of the notorious “Women of the Wall” has little to do with “religious rights” or equality. It is the “Jewish” version of militant feminism run amuck. These WOW malcontents are angry, bitter, people who derive pleasure from offending traditional Torah sensibilities. Militant feminism masquerading as a cause for equality. They hate men. They hate religious Jews. They hate “the rabbis” and they want you to know it. That is their cause.

Donny Fuchs

TORAH SHORTS: Parshat Toldot: Customized Teaching

Friday, December 2nd, 2016
{Originally posted to the Rabbi’s eponymous website}
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. -Sir John Lubbock


Modern parents have mostly outsourced the education of their children. We send them to schools and charge the teachers with the often thankless task of educating the next generation. Within the school system there have been endless debates as to how in fact we should educate our children, what the curriculum should be, what’s a reasonable class size, what are the best methods of instruction, what qualifications the teachers need and much more. None of this, however, absolves the parents of the responsibility of educating and raising their children as best they can.


Rabbi Hirsch on Genesis 25:27 sees fault in the righteous Isaac and Rebecca in their raising of Esau, who the Rabbis named “Esau the Evil.” He explains that they gave their twin boys, Jacob and Esau, the exact same education, without consideration of their very distinct personalities. Jacob was a natural bookworm, comfortable with studying texts, remaining absconded within his tent; a student ideally suited for explorations of the religious and the spiritual. Esau however, was an outdoorsman. He loved nature and the wild. He was physically strong, liked the rugged life, the life of a hunter and perhaps that of a warrior. The study of texts and the spiritual was completely lost on him.


Rabbi Hirsch explains that the boys’ saintly parents forgot or did not heed the dictum, immortalized around 3,000 years ago by King Solomon in Proverbs 22:6 “Instruct the child according to his own way.” Every child (even a twin) has his own unique personality. He will have his own interests, things that excite him and things that bore him. By providing Esau with the same educational curriculum as they did to Jacob, they almost guaranteed that he would come to abandon their beliefs and way of life. Rabbi Hirsch claims that if they had developed a unique curriculum that spoke to Esau’s love of nature, that took into account his strength, skills and courage, it may have directed him to become a mighty man of God, as opposed to merely a mighty hunter.


May we pay attention to and respond accordingly to our children’s’ differing educational needs.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-a-missed-torah-reading-part-iii/2016/12/01/

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