Thursday, August 9, 2012

our Olympic champions Siyum HaShas

I heard a rabbi here in Israel comment about the contrast between the focus of the world at large vs the Jewish world these last 2 weeks

The entire world is focused on the Olympics, brawn, muscle, might, physique, lithe, atheltic, sportsmanship, teamwork, competition and all that physical gashmiyus which the Greeks and Romans championed.

The Jewish world's heroes were not awarded gold medals, did not participate in any sports-like competition and yet their achievement was much greater, for in ruchniyus and spirituality they defeated and competed against an ancient enemy, the yetzer hara, and succeeded for 7 long difficult years through all manner of weather, seasons and days to learn that daf, attend that shiur and study that Gemarra.

So I salute our gold medal winners the mesayimim of the Daf

I was zoche to hear Rav Aharon Feldman the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore as he surprisingly quoted from the Maor VaShemesh a Hasidic work regarding the differences between Us and Them.

I then looked up the Sefer and the Maor vaShemesh is actually quoting the Chafetz Hashem -  a work by Rav Chaim Ben Attar better known for his work on Chumash as the "Ohr HaChaim haKadosh"

The following is my own understanding of the sefer:

In Chafetz Hashem on Shas the baal Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh teaches us

that the prayer we recite after leaving the Beis Midrash has a unique interpretation

The Baal Maor vaShemesh explains how the Ohr HaChaim points out that it repeats itself seemingly unnecessarily by saying:

we get up early and they get up early, we work hard and they work hard, we run and they run,

it would suffice to sum it up and say in one clear sentence we get up early to study Torah, and therefore we run to everlasting life in the coming world whereas they get up for idle matters and therefore they end up in the pit of gehinom.

However the Ohe HaChaim asks further why does the prayer open with the words thanking Hashem for placing us "MiYoshvei - from among those who sit in the Beis HaMidrash,"  why doesnt it simply say "BeYoshvei - along with those who sit in the Beis Midrash,?" then he ask about the running and the work which seem superfluous

He explains that the world is made up of 4 groups: Talmidei Chachamim who study all day like Rashbi, and those who work for a living yet also set aside time for Torah study, and those whose life is consumed by the drive to work and earn more and more money and finally the last group who are idle good for nothings, who dont bother working hard and waste their lives away criminally full of mischief without any responsibility at all.

Whereas there are those like Rashbi who study Torah as a way of life, the majority of us do not. This prayer is referring to those indivduals who work for a living yet set aside time to study Torah and serve Hashem. That little but of Torah whoch they study before their workday infuses and permeates the entire workday sanctifying it so that their work is also purely to earn a living in order to learn more and study more and serve Hashem more, thus im ayn Kemach ayn Torah - since if there is no flour there is no Torah - one cannot learn if he cannot support himself and his family and even his amal in work is thus cpounted to be rewarded for in ruchniyus as well as his learning, it all becomes part of the same equation, says the Ohe HaChaim.

This is why it says MiYoshvei "from among those", as opposed BeYoshvei which refers to those whose Torah study is their occupation, since they are the few in the Beis Midrash - those who also work and also study.

This is also what the double wording means, it refers to the other two groups. We get up early and so do they, those who work for a living and toil for sheer love of money also work hard and get up early except that "we get up early and study Torah and receive reward, they get up early and work hard and do not receive this spiritual reward," we are rewarded for our work as well as Torah study since the one is done for the sake of the other as we explained above.

Finally we run and they run, we run to the everlasting life in the olam haba - the coming world, whereas they run to a pit of darkness and despair in gehinom - this refers to the idlers, and criminals whose life is not in pursuit of Hashem and not even spent working and earning a decent living.

May we merit to sit among those in the Beis Medrash and that our Torah study sanctify our entire day!

You just gotta love Eretz Yisroel

So the other day I go to pump gas and my credit card says denied (guess I reached my credit limit I say) and pay cash. The next day on Erev Shabbos I go to check out at the supermarket and say lets try my card just in case, well the cashier takes it and it goes thru, so I say to myself, wow, look at that for the gas it did not work but now it did? The chashier looks at me, nice young lady (did not appear religious) and says in all seriousness, off course it worked for you now, you are shopping for food lekavod Shabbat! but for gas it wouldnt work because thats not lekevod Shabbat! - what Emunah - and Pashtus - gotta love it!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Siyum HaShas some thoughts

I was zoche to escort my Rebbe, The Clevelander of Raanana to yesterday's English Siyum HaShas in Jerusalem organized by Kollel Iyun HaDaf.

This gave me amazing front row seats (I kid you not as I actually sat behin him among all the chassuve Rabanim and Admorim on the dais!).

Well it was amazing to the see the achdus dancing in the crowd from this angle, (I was happy to dance with my good friend on stage the gabbai of the Trisker rebbe) and to be on the dais with some of today's greatest English speaking Gedolim and Rabbanim such as Rav Aharon Feldman, Rav Kushelvesky, The Pitsburger, Trisker, Bostoner, Boyaner, Monistritcher Rebbe (to name a few that I recognized and heard speak) and many many others no less great.

Here are some highlights from the Pittsburgher Rebbe's speech:

The Kesav Sofer in this week's parsha (Ekev) asks a question. The Tur teaches us that women light Shabbos candles because of Chava's hand in the sin of Adam, which caused death to be brought upon all manking. Thus she "extinguished the candle of the world!" Therefore women are commanded to light Shabbos candles which rectifies and atones for this. Well, asked the Kesav Sofer, at Har Sinai we are taught that they heard G-d speak and were cured of all ailments including death. Death only returned to them because of the sin of the golden calf. Who participated in Chet HaEgel? The men! So why are they not now obligated in lighting Shabbos candles instead of the women, since their sin caused death and they extinguished the "Nero Shel Olam - the light of the world?! (The Rebbe didnt mention this but the Kesav Sofer's answer is that their sin only reinstated the original punishment of death, the proof is that after Adam sinned he was punished with the curse of by the sweat of your brow shall you eat your bread, whereas after the sin of the calf klal Yisroel stil recieved Manna from Heaven)
The Rebbe gave his own marvelous novel answer - Ner Mitzvah veTorah Ohr - thus the men who are obligated in the mitzvah of Talmud Torah study the Torah they are constantly engaged and actively partcipating in the lighting of the Nero Shel Olam - the light of their Torah study lights the candle of the world and thus women and not men light Shabbos candles!

The Rebbe concluded with a powerful message of chizuk against things like unfiltered Internet and the myriad devices which he did not mention by name but called tools of destruction which pull us away from Torah study and devotion to Hashem. He encouraged us to eschew what our Rabbis forbade, he encouraged us to only use what the Rabbis permitted.

His message was well  received by a round of applause, I hope those of us using Internet heed his call. Filters, everyone they are an obligation, not just a good idea.

Some Thoughts. . .

Have not had so much time to write lately. . .

Some thoughts on recent things:

1. Three stories I heard recently from my Rebbe Shlit"a the Clevelander Rebbe of Raanana:

The Tafkid of a Rebbe

We were discussing the hardships of working for a living and how a Rebbes parnassah and financial hardship are part of his mesirus nefesh, "A Rebbe is a Rebbe, not a businessman, my Rebbe told me," and so he continued with the following story:

When my Rebbe was a teenage bachur he was studying the beis medrash. He soon met a chassid of his father, the Strozhnitzer who took a liking to the young Rebbe's son and began to involve him in some of his ideas. He was a wealthy succesful businessman and entrepreneur, and he was eager to partner with my Rebbe. My Rebbe's mother noticed this and did not like it. One day she called my Rebbe in to her and said:

"I notice you are spending too much time with that businessman." Then my Rebbe continued to quote his saintly mother, in choked sobs with tears in his eyes he related, "Isaac'el," she said (My Rebbe is named after Rav Yitzchak Isaac of Komarno) "Isaac'el, I did not shed tears to the Ribbono Shel Olam and daven and beg Him for children so they should be businessman ! I want you to be devoted Oved Hashem and nothing else!" With tears in his eyes my Rebbe concluded: "Azay Heilige Mama! - I had such a holy mother!"

He certainly did . . .,

2.The Golden Coin Dripped Blood

and then he added regarding Pidyonos - the monetary donation handed to a Rebbe along with the kvitel - the note inscribed with the names and requests of the petitioner(s). "My zeide (grandfather) the Rebbe Reb Mordechail'e (founder of Nadworna's dynasty) once told his chassidim that if they could snap the golden reinish coin he accepted as a pdyon in half his very own blood would pour out from the coin!" (Alluding to the sweat blood and tears of toil that the tzadik did in order to grant his petitioners salvation and thus earn his keep).

3.Who's the Ba'alHaBus?
Regarding the concept of Shidduchim my Rebbe related how hos mother and father's shidduch came about.

"My Babbe, (Reb Isamar of Nadworna's Rebbitzen) once came to the zeida Reb Isamar (son of Rav Meir of Kretchnif) and said, I was told in a  dream last night that Esther'el from Satmar (my Rebbe's mother, the daughter of Reb Bertzi of Satmar [son of Reb Mordechaile of Nadworna] ) is the shidduch for our son Ber'l (my Rebbe's father). 'Well,' replied Reb Isamar, 'who do you think is the Ba'al HaBus here? (who is the master of this house?) you or me? If she is the heaven sent shidduch for our son, let them reveal to me from on High in a dream!' And so it was that night Reb Isamar dreamed that he was standing at the window and saw people running to and fro outside, he asked them where they were all hurrying off to? and they said, didn't you hear that the Rebbe Reb Bertzi is here! (who was no longer alive at the time), Reb Isamar put on his Razhvulke (the silk satin overcoat) and proceeded to the train station where the train had arrived, he stepped onto the platform and the door opened, Reb Bertzi stretched out his hand to him in greeting and said Mazal Tov Mazal Tov! and so was the shidduch, sealed. The next morning Reb Isamar wrote a letter to Satmar and his parents became engaged."

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google
Groups "Be'er Mayim Chaim" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at
AddThis Button