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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Yosef’

Q & A: Ayin Hara (Part III)

Thursday, December 8th, 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.), argues 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.)

    We find that our forefathers’ and mothers’ actions at times have been influenced by the evil eye. According to the Midrash Rabbah, Hagar miscarried due to the ayin hara that Sarah cast upon her. And the Talmud (Ta’anit 10b, see Rashi) states that the only reason Jacob sent his sons to go down to Egypt to buy food was to ward off the evil eye (Jacob, in fact, had enough food to eat). According to Bereishit Rabbah 91:6, he also instructed them enter Egypt through separate gates for the same reason (they were all tall and handsome).

* * * *     We have discussed instances referring to the power of ayin hara. There are also sources, though, pointing to its inefficacy. Thus Berachot 20a states that R. Yochanan (who was famous for his good looks) was accustomed to go and sit at the gates of the mikveh. He said, “When the daughters of Israel come up from their immersion they look at me and have children as handsome as I am.” The Rabbis said to him, “Is not the Master afraid of the evil eye?” to which he retorted, “I am of the seed of Joseph over whom the evil eye has no power, as it is written (Bereishit 49:22), ‘Ben porat Yosef, ben porat alei ayin.’ ” The Gemara continues, “And R. Abbahu said in regard to this verse: Do not read ‘alei ayin’ but ‘olei ayin’ ” (literally, “rising above the eye,” i.e., above the power of the evil eye).

Berachot (ad loc.) also states: “R. Yossi son of R. Chanina derived [proof that the evil eye has no power over the descendants of Joseph] from the verse [containing Jacob’s blessing to Joseph’s sons]: ‘Ve’yid’gu larov bekerev ha’aretz – And let them multiply like fish throughout the land.’ Just as the fish in the sea are covered by water and the evil eye has no power over them, so, too, the evil eye has no power over the seed of Joseph. Or, if you prefer [namely, another reason], I can say: The evil eye has no power over the eye that chose not to partake of that which did not belong to it [Joseph resisted the advances of Potiphar’s wife].”

Berachot (55b) also discusses various remedies for bad dreams and other matters: “If a man entering a town is afraid of the evil eye, let him take the thumb of his right hand in his left hand and the thumb of his left hand in his right hand, and say: I [inserting his name], son of [his father’s name], am of the seed of Joseph over whom the evil eye has no effect, as it is written, ‘Ben porat Yosef, ben porat alei ayin.’ ”

The Maharsha (ad loc.) points out that R. Yochanan (ibid. 20a) clearly stated that he was Joseph’s descendant. Tractate Sotah (36b) also refers specifically to “bnei Yosef.” But this Gemara seems to be talking about a remedy for all Jews entering a city, many of whom obviously do not descend from Joseph! Some argue that, indeed, the suggested remedy is effective only for those who turn out to be descendants of Joseph. Others, however, maintain that all Jews are considered the children of Joseph, as it says (Tehillim 80:2), “Ro’eh Yisrael ha’azinah, noheg katzon Yosef – Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, who leads Joseph like a flock.” Rashi and Metzudat David explain that since Joseph sustained his brothers and their families in Egypt, they are referred to by his name.

This last explanation implies that since we are all immune to the destructive power of the evil eye, it is impossible to cast an ayin hara upon another Jew. How, then, do we explain the statement in Tractate Bava Metzia attributed to Rav (107b): “Ninety-nine [of the dead in the cemetery where he was standing] died as a result of the evil eye, and [only] one from natural causes” as well as the other statements and examples mentioned above?

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

A Graduate Of Eiver’s Yeshiva

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

These are the generations of Yaakov, Yosef being seventeen years old….

Seventeen years old? We are struck by this information. Why would the Torah deem it necessary to inform us about Yosef’s age? No word, no pasuk, no paragraph is out of place in Torah, so we know the information is necessary and important. But what is its importance? What do we gain by this kernel of biographical information about Yosef?

To understand, it benefits us to first examine the conclusion of parshat Toldot, where Yitzhak advises Yaakov to escape from his brother, Eisav, by fleeing to Padan Aram. In commenting on this passage, Rashi notes that here we learn Yaakov sojourned in the House of Eiver for more than fourteen years studying Torah and only then, at the conclusion of his study, did he continue on to Padan Aram.

Again, we gain a glimpse of biographical information without yet understanding its value to us. Why inform us as to the length of Yaakov’s sojourn? And why was it even necessary for Yaakov to stop at Eiver’s home in order to study Torah? There can be no doubt that, as a child growing up in Yitzchak’s home, he learned and absorbed Torah, chesed, morals and positive values. Indeed, the Torah identifies Yaakov as a scholar.

So why the additional fourteen years of study?

The answer comes when the Torah shows Yaakov wrestling with the angel of God, earning the name Yisrael and demonstrating that we all must wrestle with Torah. From this we understand that to learn Torah demands not only the pure and sanctified environment of a Bais Yitzchak but that to truly “wrestle” with Torah is to absorb it – and transplant its teachings and precepts – in the world at large.

In his father’s house, Yaakov had superior training in pure Torah, in Torah that had meaning in the rarified world of his home and other, likeminded, scholars and students. However, in parshat Toldot, as Yaakov prepares to flee his brother and his father’s house – leaving the protected environment of his home – he would be entering a foreign and threatening world. To survive and flourish in the intimidating environment of Charan, he needed first to wrestle with Torah in Bais Eiver, a place not nearly as safe and nurturing as his own father’s house.

So too, Yaakov foresaw that Yosef would also find himself among gentiles, Egyptians, in a large, intimidating and menacing society. To assure that Yosef would remain steadfast in all the Torah he had taught him even in the most threatening circumstances, Yaakov determined that Yosef, like himself, must be exposed to the same Torah in “foreign” territory. Therefore, all the Torah Yaakov learned in Eiver’s academy he taught to Yosef for fourteen years.

And so we return to the Torah’s biographical note regarding Yosef. Yosef began learning Torah at three, when every child must begin to study Torah. Thus, the Torah speaks of the point at which Yosef was prepared to confront life’s many challenges – at seventeen.

Like Yosef, we must all at some point leave the warmth and comfort of our home; we must all attain the age of “seventeen.” And, like Yosef, we must be prepared to willingly and lovingly communicate Torah in an open, “Torah-less” society.

Torah is a glorious jewel, but it is not a fragile one. It will not only survive beyond the safety of our academies, it will thrive.

A Jew’s ability to live a Torah life beyond the safety and security of “Yaakov’s tent” is the ultimate test of Torah.  Like any test of worth, it is not an easy one. A prominent Torah educator from Jerusalem was asked why he pursued and attained higher academic degrees in prominent universities whereas his sons were discouraged from continuing their general education beyond high school.

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

In Praise Of Bubby

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

The Gemara in Brachos says that one is not allowed to add his own praises of Hashem while davening. The Gemara explains that by doing so it could seem that what one added was the only praise missing, and that there are no more praises of Hashem. Similarly, Bubby, for one to try to mention all of your praises would be impossible. With that said I would like to mention a few points, without implying that this is all there is to be said.


 


In Shemos the pasuk tells us, “Vayakam melech chadash b’Mitzrayim.” Rashi explains that there is a machlokes as to whether it was a new king or the old king who made new laws. We can understand those that say it was an old king with new laws. However, how do those who say it was a new king explain that he did not know of Yosef? It was only a few years since Yosef’s death and he had saved the entire country from a famine. He was second in command and made Mitzrayim into a superpower. The answer is that, of course, he heard of Yosef but, because he had not witnessed Yosef’s greatness personally, he could not truly fathom it.

 

Bubby, this can be said of your greatness and of your chesed and maasim tovim, for they, too, were so awesome and great. Bubby, you were zoche to see five generations – for which it is said you will go to Gan Eden. But I’m worried that the next generation won’t be able to comprehend fully how great you were. For those who were fortunate to witness Bubby it is incumbent that we constantly review and remind ourselves of her great deeds, lest we forget. Hopefully, we will be able to properly pass down to our children who Bubby was.

 

When I got engaged, Bubby asked me whether I had mentioned to my kallah that we come from a long lineage of rabbis, including the Chasam Sofer, the Divrei Chaim, and the Aruch Hashulchan. I”yH, I hope to tell my children and their children, do you know who you come from, besides the above mentioned list I will tell them they come from you, Bubby and Zaidy.

 

We bless our children every Friday night, “Yasimcha Elokim k’Efraim uk’Menashe.” The question is: why do we ask that our children be likened to Efraim and Menashe over all the other shivatim? Rabbi Moshe Feinstein answered that, generally, there is an inherent yeridas hadoros. The further away one is, the weaker the mesorah. Yaakov Avinu felt that this was not the case with Efraim and Menashe. Although they were his grandchildren, he felt that they were on the same level as if they were his children, and the mesorah was not weakened.

 

Bubby, you were marich yomim and it was a zechus for everyone whose lives you were able to touch. You have helped keep the mesorah alive for us. I hope that we will be able to keep vibrant the mesorah that is from you.

 

I remember Bubby and Zaidy saying you should go m’chayil el chayil. Now it is our turn to wish it upon you Bubby, may you go m’chayil el chayil. However, I would like to add the end of that pasuk (from Tehillim), “yirah el Elokim b’Tzion.” The Gemara at the end of Brachos interprets this to mean those who go from multitudes of good deeds to multitudes of good deeds will merit to be mekabel pnei haShechina.

 

Bubby, you have definitely conducted your life in this manner – going from multitudes of greatness, good deeds, chesed and mitzvos to another. You shall now go and receive your reward, be mekabel pnei haShechina. May you bring with you your armies of zechusim and be a meylitz yosher for the family and for all Klal Yisroel and help bring the geula sh’leima b’karov.

Rafi Fuchs

In Praise Of Bubby

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

The Gemara in Brachos says that one is not allowed to add his own praises of Hashem while davening. The Gemara explains that by doing so it could seem that what one added was the only praise missing, and that there are no more praises of Hashem. Similarly, Bubby, for one to try to mention all of your praises would be impossible. With that said I would like to mention a few points, without implying that this is all there is to be said.

 

In Shemos the pasuk tells us, “Vayakam melech chadash b’Mitzrayim.” Rashi explains that there is a machlokes as to whether it was a new king or the old king who made new laws. We can understand those that say it was an old king with new laws. However, how do those who say it was a new king explain that he did not know of Yosef? It was only a few years since Yosef’s death and he had saved the entire country from a famine. He was second in command and made Mitzrayim into a superpower. The answer is that, of course, he heard of Yosef but, because he had not witnessed Yosef’s greatness personally, he could not truly fathom it.

 

Bubby, this can be said of your greatness and of your chesed and maasim tovim, for they, too, were so awesome and great. Bubby, you were zoche to see five generations – for which it is said you will go to Gan Eden. But I’m worried that the next generation won’t be able to comprehend fully how great you were. For those who were fortunate to witness Bubby it is incumbent that we constantly review and remind ourselves of her great deeds, lest we forget. Hopefully, we will be able to properly pass down to our children who Bubby was.

 

When I got engaged, Bubby asked me whether I had mentioned to my kallah that we come from a long lineage of rabbis, including the Chasam Sofer, the Divrei Chaim, and the Aruch Hashulchan. I”yH, I hope to tell my children and their children, do you know who you come from, besides the above mentioned list I will tell them they come from you, Bubby and Zaidy.

 

We bless our children every Friday night, “Yasimcha Elokim k’Efraim uk’Menashe.” The question is: why do we ask that our children be likened to Efraim and Menashe over all the other shivatim? Rabbi Moshe Feinstein answered that, generally, there is an inherent yeridas hadoros. The further away one is, the weaker the mesorah. Yaakov Avinu felt that this was not the case with Efraim and Menashe. Although they were his grandchildren, he felt that they were on the same level as if they were his children, and the mesorah was not weakened.

 

Bubby, you were marich yomim and it was a zechus for everyone whose lives you were able to touch. You have helped keep the mesorah alive for us. I hope that we will be able to keep vibrant the mesorah that is from you.

 

I remember Bubby and Zaidy saying you should go m’chayil el chayil. Now it is our turn to wish it upon you Bubby, may you go m’chayil el chayil. However, I would like to add the end of that pasuk (from Tehillim), “yirah el Elokim b’Tzion.” The Gemara at the end of Brachos interprets this to mean those who go from multitudes of good deeds to multitudes of good deeds will merit to be mekabel pnei haShechina.

 

Bubby, you have definitely conducted your life in this manner – going from multitudes of greatness, good deeds, chesed and mitzvos to another. You shall now go and receive your reward, be mekabel pnei haShechina. May you bring with you your armies of zechusim and be a meylitz yosher for the family and for all Klal Yisroel and help bring the geula sh’leima b’karov.

Rafi Fuchs

Crossword Puzzle – I Was Moshe

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Across

1. Encourages

6. NOW!

10. Umpire call

14. Simple

15. Place for a chazan

16. Like Shaul HaMelech

17. Where some battles are fought

18. Pretty bird

19. Like Southern Israel

20. I was Moshe in 1956

23. Card or chain

24. … ___ customer

25. Leah to Yosef

26. I was Moshe in 1981

30. Funny lady Burnett

33. Land unit

34. With 40 Across, kiddush option

37. Say lashon hara, perhaps

38. Crest, e.g.

40. See 34 Across

41. Like Lavan

42. Makah

43. Philistine, e.g.

44. I was Moshe in 1998

47. Public high school ball

49. Paddle

50. Also

53. I was Moshe in 1995

58. Gasp

59. Kind of brush

60. Holy fruit

61. Or ___!

62. Towards the helm

63. Jerry West, once

64. Payment opt.

65. Serious stare

66. Declares

 

Down

1. Taken ___

2. Get clean

3. Part of a history regent

4. Stadium section

5. Hospital tool

6. Take in

7. Stiched

8. Torah measurement

9. Window ___

10. Feature on Facebook

11. Brother of the theme (in English)

12. Fire ingredient, at times

13. Old age

21. Word before Aviv

22. Popular possession of Pete?

26. Unruly crowd

27. Perhaps the greatest Rishon

28. Succos mth., often

29. Catan card

30. 60 Minutes airer

31. Tide alternative

32. Tampa player

34. Get

35. Gene letters

36. Asian currency

38. Bud

39. Question

40. Battle

42. Pesach animal

43. Garden structure

44. Whirlpool

45. Be idle

46. Adam, simply

47. Word by King David

48. Use Scope

50. Similar

51. ___ again!

52. Ones who make Ticheles

54. One way to get to Israel

55. River connected to the theme

56. Leg part

57. Balkan, usually

58. Pod product

 

 

(Answers, next week)

Yoni can be reached at yglatt@youngisrael.org

Yoni Glatt

Rescue Us From The Valley Of Tears

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Our forefather Yaakov is considered to have been the patriarch who endured the most suffering. Although our rabbis look to the binding of Yitzchak and the trial of Avraham as the epitome of suffering in the form of self-sacrifice, Yaakov is our greatest teacher in the difficult subject of dealing with life’s hardships.

His suffering began when, as a young man, he had to run away from his parents’ house. He fled from the treacherous Eisav into the clutches of the deceitful and poisonous Lavan. His trials continued after leaving Lavan’s domain: his famous showdown with Eisav and his army of 400 men; the violation of Dinah by Schechem; the death of his mother Rivkah at night without proper burial; the passing of Rachel and her burial on a roadside; and finally the “death” of Yosef, which was actually his abduction and slavery in Egypt.

In Parshat Vayishlach, after the death of Rivkah, Yaakov created a paradigm for dealing with future sadness in the nation of Israel.

He cried deeply and mourned the loss of his mother. It was the first tragic death in the family of the patriarchs. Yaakov’s pain is memorialized by his naming of a city after the tree where his crying took place – Alon Bachut, the tree of tears. Rav Saadia Gaon and others translate the city’s name as the plain of tears.

In the Lecha Dodi prayer we sing Friday night during Kabbalat Shabbat, we ask God to save us from Emek Habacha, the Valley of Tears, for we have been dwelling there for too long. What started as Yaakov’s flat plain of tears outside the city of Bet El, after thousands of years and the copious tears shed by the Jewish nation over that time period, became the valley of tears.

Someone who hears tragic news, like in Parshat Vayeishev where Yaakov believes that his dear son Yosef was torn apart by wild animals, is swept away and immersed into the valley of tears.

We were blessed with a beautiful child who we presumed was healthy until the age of eight months. And then Noah ascended to heaven 10 years ago on 21 Kislev, after living four years and one day in this world. So we identify with Yaakov’s situation after he was led to believe that Yosef was no longer.

That may be why it says in Vayeishev that Yaakov could not be comforted from the sadness he felt in losing Yosef for 22 years, despite his great stature as one of our eternal role models. Yaakov filled the plain of tears, originally carved out with sadness for the loss of his mother, with 22 years of his deep, heartfelt tears for Yosef’s disappearance.

The tears of all our generations – from Yaakov to the Jews in the Holocaust, and those in between – are seemingly endless. And our tears cried over our dear Noah trickled down into the valley as well. We felt trapped in the valley for many years. But little by little, God helped us escape. We cannot believe that now, 10 years after Noah’s passing, we are able to look back and appreciate Him for all that we went through – but we have and we do.

You climb to the top of the valley and move away, and you leave it in hindsight. But it is always there, and the tears you cried are eternal. If you are fortunate, you are lifted high above and look at it from God’s infinite perspective.

Once you have been to the valley, you relate more deeply to those that have also been there. You speak to them without speaking. And just mentioning the valley unites you in a bonding of your souls. The tears you cried flowed into the river that lies within the valley, and your tears merge with theirs. You want to ease their sadness, but cannot. And once you have left the valley behind, you can still return in an instant. Not to cry again, but to behold the tears you once cried. Your tears that were cried once will never dry.

Sad though your return is to the valley, it is part of what makes you alive. Without your connection to it, you have no compass. You never realized it, but from the point of your sadness and forward, the valley has become your guide. Wherever you find yourself in life, you always measure yourself by how far you have come since leaving the valley. The valley may be a real entity, as we see from the tree of tears that Yaakov named. But it also resides in a part of us that we didn’t know existed. We may not want to know it’s there, and can’t believe it’s there – but it is.

We know our tears have not been shed in vain. Despite the sadness we felt from Noah’s passing, the joy of knowing that Hashem gave us this precious gift far exceeds the sorrow. Although no one would ever ask for this type of gift, once it has been given to you, you realize that you have witnessed the ultimate truth.

May we all be zocheh to the coming of Moshiach, and have all of our holy neshamot return to us in happiness – bimheirah b’yameinu, amen.

To contribute to the foundation we created in Noah Raphael’s memory to help children facing serious illness, please send a tax-deductible check to Noah’s Spark Foundation, c/o Jarashow, 5 South Myrtle Ave., Spring Valley, NY 10977.

Jonathan Jarashow

A Reason For Everything

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Yosef * had a dream. He wanted to open a yeshiva for young men like him, men who had returned to their roots and wanted to expand their learning in a relaxed, pastoral atmosphere. Gilah, his wife, had her own dream of founding a yeshiva for young women where they could grow spiritually as well as connect to nature.

Together, the couple brought their dreams to reality. Last year, in a small Yishuv ** in Israel, the two new places of learning opened their doors.

Yosef’s yeshiva attracted young married men as well as about a half dozen single ones.

It is, thanks to Hashem, doing well.

Gilah’s seminary started out very promising. Twenty-five young women, two of them married, attended the program. But then, something went wrong. After a couple of months, two of the students left the seminary. As the months went by, more of them pulled out of the yeshiva, leaving a mere four students by Pesach time. Unable to continue financially, Gilah made the painful decision to close down the school she had so recently opened.

Gilah was very disheartened. Perhaps she and her husband had undertaken too many responsibilities in too short a time. She felt like a failure. Then, she received the first of three wedding invitations in the mail.

In its early days, Gilah’s school had attracted young women from all different parts of Eretz Yisrael. These were young women who shared Gilah’s vision of a quiet, calm environment in which to grow. It was unlikely these young women would have encountered each other if they hadn’t met in the yeshiva. Thrown together, they forged bonds of friendship.

The first invitation Gilah received was from a young woman who had met her Chatan through one of her new friends in the school. The second invitation was from another former student, who had also met through her few months in the yeshiva.

The third invitation was from a couple, both students at the Yeshivot in the Yishuv, brought together by Yosef and the kallah’s teacher.

Gilah’s heart began to lift. She no longer looked at herself or her yeshiva as failures. She now understood that though its opening wasn’t planned out well enough, her yeshiva had to have opened so that six young people could find their bashert.

Gilah hopes to try and re-open her school one day. Meanwhile, she is busy attending weddings.

*Names have been changed.

** The location and names of the Yeshivot are being kept anonymous.

Debbie Garfinkel Diament

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/a-reason-for-everything/2009/02/04/

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