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Monday, May 31, 2010

ויקרא משה להושע בין יהושע

Last year I had 2 posts about this (ויקרא משה להושע בין יהושע and ויקרא משה להושע בין יהושע II) where I discussed the difficult Rashi.

I just saw that Torah Temima has a similar answer to the Keren Ora. He says that Moshe davened for Yehoshua because Yehoshua was from Yosef and it says in וישב that ויבא יוסף את דבתם רעה אל אביהם and therefore the sin of lashon hara was something that Moshe thought Yehoshua needed special protection from. He also explains that the derasha in the Gemara is using 20/20 hindsight. Moshe really just davened that Hashem should save Yehoshua, he had no idea about what the Meraglim would do. Later the Gemara looking back added on that he should be saved from the עצת המרגלים.

In truth, this answer is also very difficult. To say the Gemara is looking back with 20/20 hindsight and Moshe didn't say that is very difficult. In addition, according to the Torah Temima why didn't Moshe daven for the representative of Menashe as well as he was also from Yosef.

I saw that others ask, how could Moshe daven for Yehoshua not to sin? הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים and therefore you can't daven for someone else not to sin, it his choice.

The bottom line is that for me עדיין צ"ע how to understand the Rashi and the Gemara in Sota.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mishpacha Editor: Everyone knows Kollel only is a הוראת שעה

In this weeks English Mishpacha magazine Rabbi Moshe Grylak wrote the following:

...we have constantly heard from gedolei yisroel since the time of the Chazon Ish, who insisted that that universal torah learning was obligatory for several generation in order to rebuild the Torah world that was destroyed in the Holocaust. The reconstruction has succeeded beyond all expectations and legions of torah scholars have filled the Earth. Our Gedolim knew however, that full time learning is not for everyone. Even Maran Harav Shach ztz"l the great disseminator and defender of Torah in our times, said on many occasions that Klal Yisrael consists of Torah scholars and balabatim who support Torah learning. "Everyone is required to serve Hashem," he said, "but not everyone can do so by means of learning all day."

What refreshing words, I hope that it is really true.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What should we daven for, עולם הזה or עולם הבא?

The impression I get from many people, articles, etc. is that a person needs to daven for spiritual things for himself and his family.

The fact is that there is an explicit Gemara that says the opposite.

The Gemara in Shabbos (10a) states:
רבא חזייה לרב המנונא דקא מאריך בצילותיה אמר מניחין חיי עולם ועוסקים בחיי שעה

Rava saw that R' Hamnuna was davening for a long time, he told him you are neglecting olam haba and spending time on olam hazeh

Rashi explains:
חיי עולם תורה, תפילה צורך חיי שעה היא לרפואה לשלום ולמזונות

chayei olam is torah, tefilla is chayei sha'ah as it is for health, peace and money

You see explicitly from the Gemara that tefilla is considered dealing with worldly matters (peace, health, and money) and only torah is chayei olam haba. If Rav Hamnuna was davening that he should understand the sugya or that is children should succeed in learning why is that called חיי שעה? You see from the Gemara that Rava had no hava amina that Rav Hamnuna was davening for that but Rava understood that R' Hamnuna was davening for worldly matters and that is why he rebuked him.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Charedim and working in Israel

The Mishpacha newspaper had pages upon pages of articles about Charedim working. The gist of the articles was that Charedim want to work and that the chilonim/government don't want them.

I would like to give my take on this.

One of the more effective claims that the Chiloni politicians and media have made in the past few weeks is why in Brooklyn can Charedim be doctors, lawyers, accountants etc. but not in Bnei Brak. The Charedi representatives only answer has been discrimination.

There is no question that there is discrimination against Charedim but the fact is Charedim can't get jobs for other reasons. Here are some of the differences that I see between Brooklyn and Bnei Brak.

1. In Brooklyn, Charedim go to real Universities whether it is Touro, Brooklyn College, Queens, etc. These are regular accredited universities with decent reputations. In Israel, Charedim will not go to University. They go to to all kinds of special Charedi programs that offer some kind of degree, the equivalent in NY of going to a place like Devry's. Many employers in Israel want a degree from a recognized University which the Charedim don't have.
2. In Brooklyn Charedim are much more open to the world. Guys who learn in the Mir, Chaim Berlin, etc. follow sports and generally know what is going on. Chafetz Chaim Yeshiva in Queens (certainly considered a Charedi Yeshiva), when they built their new building included a beautiful gym, that would never be done in Israel.They see non-Jews in the neighborhood and interact them. They see women dressed not so tzniusly. Therefore when they go to work, they have something in common with their co-workers. They can talk about sports, politics, technology, or whatever. In Israel, Charedim are very very sheltered. If you live in Bnei Brak, Kiryat Sefer, Beitar, many neighborhoods in Yerushalayim, RBS, etc. you basically hardly ever see a non-Charedi person let alone a woman dressed non-tzniusly. Their also is no openness to sports or anything else in the general culture. Therefore, it is very hard for a Charedi person to fit in, they have absolutely nothing in common with the other people and have no idea how to interact with them.
3. Jews in America are stereotyped as smart and non-violent. This helps in the job market. Charedim in Israel are thought of as violent (rioting all the time) and ignorant.
4. In Israel, the Charedi parties are constantly pushing for religious coercion, whether it is not selling chometz on Pesach, no public buses on Shabbos, mehadrin buses etc. This causes the general public to worry that the Charedim are trying to take over and create a Taliban like state. In Brooklyn, there are no worries about religious coercion.

The bottom line is that the Charedim want to have their cake and eat it too. On one hand, they want to have the freedom to educate their children however they want, but then when it comes to getting a job, they want their education to be considered. It doesn't work that way. If you want to join the world you need to play by the rules and one of the rules is education.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Girls should not go to the Kotel Shavuos night for tznius reasons


My translation

We have been asked by the Gedolei Yisrael to publicize the following in their name:

כה תאמר לבית יעקב ותגיד לבני ישראל

Yisrael are holy and many go to the Kotel on Shavuos night, especially to daven at vasikin.

Since the route to the Kotel is through narrow streets and alleys, it creates a serious mixture (men and women) and the pitfalls are many until the bad outweighs the good.

Therefore we are calling on the girls who are pious and holy not to go to the kotel on Shavuos until 10AM on Shavuos morning.

(Those who must go should go through the Jaffa gate).

The route using the Nablus gate is for men only

It ir preferable that boys do not go by themselves but rather should be accompanied by an adult because of off the derech kids and other people who are hanging around.


The rest discusses the separation of the sexes at the Kotel.

The big question is going to be what happens to girls/women who decide to go tonight and go through שער שכם (probably not even knowing about this)? Are they going to be harrassed/attacked? Is this going to create another big controversy?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why do we need to keep dinim d'rabbanon?

This seems like a pretty obvious question but the answer is not so obvious. The Rambam in the Sefer Hamitzvos explains that we need to kepp dinim d'rabbanan based on לא תסור. In other words there is a חיוב מן התורה to keep dinim d'rabbanan. The Ramban there disagrees and asks on the Rambam, if there is a חיוב מן התורה then why are we מחלק between dinim d'rabbanon and d'oraysas? If every din d'rabbanan is really a d'oraysa then why do we say ספקא דרבנן לקולא?

We see clearly from the Ramban that he holds that there is no חיוב מן התורה to kepp dinim d'rabbanan. If so what is the מחייב?

R' Elchanan in קונטרוס דברי סופרים has the following fascinating suggestion. He suggests that there really is no מחייב. He says that why do we keep d'oraysa's? Because we want to do the רצון hashem. The same applies to dinim d'rabbanan. we assume that whatever the חכמים were מתקן is the רצון hashem and therefore we keep them because we want to do the רצון hashem.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A refreshing take on the business of Tzedaka

http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/hamodia/yissachar_zevulun.pdf

Indeed, these false values have already begun to leach into our thought processes, and the partnership arrangement” described in the article is symptomatic of a creeping trend toward facile religious devices that are expected to yield instant and foolproof gratification. It is akin to other contemporary manifestations of the same disease: seeking “segulos” as a “push-button” means to achieve desires, consulting “mekubalim” in the expectation of immediate results, responding favorably to flyers from tzedakah organizations filled with “case studies” of people who, with disaster staring them in the face, make desperate pledges and are miraculously and instantly saved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Israel is accepted into the OECD

This was the big news yesterday as everyone was very happy and congratulatory. I thought the most interesting reaction was from Yated Neeman. They were 100% positive stating how it is a good thing for Israel, etc. They quoted Moshe Gafni (MK from Degel Hatorah) taking a little credit as head of the Knesset Finance Committee.

Why is this so interesting? Because acceptance into the OECD was only possible because of all of the economic reforms that were put into place by Netanyahu and his successors which the Charedi world fought tooth and nail against. It was also only possible because Israel has a good University system and produces top quality graduates who can produce on a level equal to or above the rest of the world. If Gafni and friends had had their way Israel would not be an OECD member.

In short, if the Charedi world had it's way Israel would have had no chance of joining the OECD yet the Charedim are perfectly happy to reap the benefits.

It is patently clear that a Charedi society could never be self sufficient and that is clearly not what the Torah wants from us. The Torah is supposed to be a blueprint for an independent religious state that can be self sufficient not a ghetto relying on other Jews and Goyim. This was exactly the dispute between Rivka and Yitzchak regarding giving teh Berachos to Esav. Yitzchak thought that Yaakov didn't need to be self sufficent that Esav would provide for him and Rivka felt that Yaakov needed teh berachos of gashmius as well. We all know who was correct.

The tzedaka wars are escalating

In the past few years the fight for tzedaka money has become a never ending series of escalations. The Kupat Hair Beni Brak started with having Kvitelach for special days, now every one is doing that. The Kupat Hair Beni Brak has escalated again. Now they are promising that someone will daven at the Kever of Rashbi for a whole year for anyone who donates. I can't imagine what will be next.

Here is an ad from a local Kupa:


Here is the latest Kupat Hair ad:



It is absolutely unbelievable that Misnagdim are now talking about giving Kvitelach to Rabanim.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Charedim work and education

For the past week this has been a major topic of discussion in Israel. IMHO the Charedi responses have been disingenuous at best. Eli Yishai (Head of Shas) was interviewed a umber of times about this, his answer was come visit our Shas school in Ramat Gan where we had the highest test scores in the country. That answer, while true, is very misleading and not indicative of the state of Charedi education. That Shas school teaches secular studies at a high level because the clientele demands it. Ideally, all Shas schools would be Torah only like the Ashkenazi schools. However, since Shas appeals to a much wider audience they have schools which have a high level of secular studies. Other Charedi spokesman have made similar comments. The bottom line is that the Charedi ideal is Torah only and anyone who says anything else is lying.

When it comes to working and jobs, again the Charedi spokesmen want to have their cake and eat it too. You can't provide no secular education and then complain you are shut out of jobs because they require a degree.

There is no question that a lot of what is learned in secular studies in high school is a waste and can be skipped. However, there are core subjects that are very important. The Charedi world thinks that in a few months people can learn what is needed to get a job. That is true for some things but not for many and certainly not for the jobs of the future. They seem to believe that secular knowledge is easy to acquire and there isn't much of it. As R' Aryeh Kaplan described Another approach is that which many Chassidim have. They say, “What do scientists know? Do they know what’s happening? Do they know what’s going on? They’re a bunch of phonies, a bunch of bluffers, a bunch of stupidniks! Do they really have a way of finding out the truth? They find a bone and they think it’s from a monkey.” But, I think to somebody who knows what science is, this is a very unsatisfactory approach. much of the Charedi world has no clue about how much knowledge there is out there.

There is a very elitist attitude that if someone can learn a sugya in Bava Kama he can surely learn x (x being any secular discipline). This is simply not true. Learning Torah definitely is helpful in teaching certain modes of thinking but is certainly not the be all and end all of knowledge.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I am back

For the past few months I have been working almost non-stop on a very big project at work and therefore have had no time or energy to blog. Things have finally calmed down a little and I hope to be back blogging.

One thing I learned over this period is how important Shabbos is. This project was being worked on by people all over the world (India, Israel, US East Coast, US West Coast), which meant that someone was working on it 24 hours a day. This made the project a 24x6 job for me as I had to keep track of people all over the world and interact with them. Shabbos allowed me to get away for 25 hours and not think about work, check e-mails etc. On Shabbos I could truly get away. I feel bad for the othe rpeople on the project who don't have that. They were literally on call 24x7 for a few months, at least I had 1 day a week off.