Monday, December 31, 2007

Living in dangerous places

The Acharaonim discuss whether a person is allowed to put himself in a ספק סכנה to help the רבים. One of the sources they bring is the Mishna in Makos 9b which states that the killer is not allowed to leave the עיר מקלט even if the Jewish People need him even if he is the greatest General around. The Tiferes Yisrael on that Mishna asks why not? Pikuach Nefesh is דוחה everything except the big 3 aveiros, he leaves the question בצ"ע. From here the אור שמח extrapolates that a person is not chayav to put himself in a ספק סכנה to help others. The Tiferes Yisrael (and many other Acharonim) clearly argue.

The Aruch Hashulchan discusses whether he is allowed to volunteer and thinks that he can. In other words while there may be no חיוב for him to put himself in a dangerous situation he can certainly volunteer.

The Minchas Chinuch discusses the case of soldiers and war and states that since soldiers are killed in war on one hand and Hashem commanded us to fight wars on the other hand, by definition war must be exempt from the general rules of pikuach nefesh and therefore these rules don't apply.

RHS holds that we have been in a state of war with the Arabs since 1948 and therefore in EY today the situation is one of wartime and therefore we need to apply the position of the Minchas Chinuch and Pikuach Nefesh does not necessarily apply. R' Yaakov Kaminetsky made a similar comment about people living in Gush Katif (see this post More Charedi censorship):

The settlers in Gush Katif asked R' Yaakov Kamenetsky if they are allowed to live there, maybe they should move because of Pikuach Nefesh? He answered that it is a milchemes miztva (and therefore there is no halacha of pikuach nefesh like the Minchas Chinuch, my interpretation).

Based on the above, there are a number of reasons why a person can live in a dangerous place in EY.

1. According to RHS and RYK we are in the middle of a war and therefore the rules of pikuach nefesh don't apply.
2. According to many Acharonim a person is allowed to put himself in a ספק סכנה to help the רבים
3. According to the Aruch Hashulchan a person can volunteer to put himself in a ספק סכנה to help the רבים

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jonathan Rosenblum on Chareidim and Poverty

Thsi article Money Matters really surprised me. It is great that the Mishpacha magazine is delaing with this really important issue.

Here are some interesting excerpts
While the Israeli chareidi community has been largely untouched by the social pathologies associated with welfare recipients around the world, a certain “culture of dependency” – the sapping of individual initiative that accompanies long-term dependence on welfare – has not entirely passed us by.

More than twenty years ago, while returning from the levaya of the Steipler Gaon, zt”l, I asked my rosh yeshiva, why the Chazon Ish had chosen to live in Bnei Brak, rather than in the “old yishuv” of Jerusalem. He replied that the Chazon Ish felt that more than 200 years of the “chaluka” system (contributions from Jewish communities abroad) had deprived the “old yishuv” of its vitality, and he hoped to build something entirely new in the “new yishuv.” And that was before there were any government social benefits to speak of.

We tell ourselves that poverty in the chareidi world is a function of our commitment to Torah learning. And to a large extent that is true. But there are large pockets of endemic poverty in our world that have little to do with Torah learning. The majority of those who descend on every affluent Torah community abroad are not in full-time learning nor do their efforts allow them much time for Torah study.
A disconnect between effort and family income, which is one effect of government benefits, creates a sense of entitlement to even those things that would have been considered unimaginable luxuries one or two generations ago, including an apartment for every newlywed couple. Even in families struggling to make basic ends meet, it is not uncommon to find a number of children with their own cell phone and family cell phone bills of a thousand shekels or more per month. In supermarkets catering to the cost-conscious chareidi consumer, one still sees shopping carts piled high with soft drinks and junk food that are not only unhealthy but costly.

Poverty is exacting a terrible toll on the Israeli chareidi community. The government has an important role to play in reducing the deepening despair. But so do we as individuals and as a community.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Living with people who are a little different

Here is a really good article about how people should live with people who are a little different from them. Like-minded neighbors

Monday, December 24, 2007

Learning Torah tonight (eve of Dec 25th) - Nittel Nacht

Many Chasidim have a Minhag not to learn Torah tonight (Nittel Nacht). It is pretty clear that the real reason for this was that it was very dangerous for Jews to leave their house that night for fear of being attacked. Therefore, they could not go to the Beis Medrash to learn. Until very recently Seforim were very expensive and most people did not have private seforim available in their house to learn from. Therefore, the minhag evolved not to learn Torah. Today this would seem to be a Minhag Shtus, there is no real reason for a person to refrain from learning Torah. All the other rationalizations that I have seen are to be blunt very weak:
  • The Torah learned should not serve as a merit for Jesus's soul

  • As a sign of Aveilus

  • There is a tremendous כח הטומאה that night

  • ...

I will be learning tonight like every other night.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Should Diaspora Jews have a say about the fate of Jerusalem?

The Israeli government (including the current one) has always said no. On most issues I agree with this. If you don't live in the country and share the risks and sacrifices then you don't have a say.

However, Jerusalem is different. Jerusalem is something that all Jews have prayed for for generations. It is the spiritual capital of Judaism. Therefore, I think that all Jews should have a say as to the fate of Jerusalem. We can learn from Yasser Arafat, who at Camp David, said that he could not give the Western Wall to Israel, because Jerusalem belongs to the entire Muslim nation, so he first must go to Cairo and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and ask them for permission. Jerusalem certainly belongs to the entire Jewish nation and therefore Olmert has no right to give it away.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Will Annapolis succeed?

Bernard Lewis (professor emeritus at Princeton) has a brilliant article about the chances of success for the Annapolis conference.

The first question (one might think it is obvious but apparently not) is, "What is the conflict about?" There are basically two possibilities: that it is about the size of Israel, or about its existence.

If the issue is about the size of Israel, then we have a straightforward border problem, like Alsace-Lorraine or Texas. That is to say, not easy, but possible to solve in the long run, and to live with in the meantime.

If, on the other hand, the issue is the existence of Israel, then clearly it is insoluble by negotiation. There is no compromise position between existing and not existing, and no conceivable government of Israel is going to negotiate on whether that country should or should not exist.
Without genuine acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State, as the more than 20 members of the Arab League exist as Arab States, or the much larger number of members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference exist as Islamic states, peace cannot be negotiated.
A good example of how this problem affects negotiation is the much-discussed refugee question.
In the other Arab countries, they were and remained stateless aliens without rights or opportunities, maintained by U.N. funding. Paradoxically, if a Palestinian fled to Britain or America, he was eligible for naturalization after five years, and his locally-born children were citizens by birth. If he went to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq, he and his descendants remained stateless, now entering the fourth or fifth generation
Which brings us back to the Annapolis summit. If the issue is not the size of Israel, but its existence, negotiations are foredoomed. And in light of the past record, it is clear that is and will remain the issue, until the Arab leadership either achieves or renounces its purpose -- to destroy Israel. Both seem equally unlikely for the time being.

Until the Arabs accept Israel as a Jewish state there is nothing to talk about. Nothing that has happened recently has changed in terms of their accepting Israel, rather the tactics have changed. Why is it so hard for the leaders of Israel to see this?

This is why organizations like Peace Now are so misguided. They claim that if Israel really wanted to make peace then peace would happen. Unfortunately, they are sadly mistaken. As Bernard Lewis said, If the issue is not the size of Israel, but its existence, negotiations are foredoomed, if the other side doesn't want to make peace then peace will not happen. As Professor Robert Auman said The very act of running crazedly after the longed-for peace is precisely that which distances it from us.

Only decisive, unambiguous victory for one side or the other can end a long, bitter conflict. Until Israel learns this there will never be peace. Organizations like Peace Now not only don't bring peace now, but like Neville Chamberlain, actually encourage the other side to continue the battle.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hashgocha Pratis, what does it mean?

I recently saw someone make the following statement on Avoda.

I have heard from a reliable source, in the name of Dayan Abramsky, that "today, anyone who does not believe in the Baal Shem Tov's shita in hashgacha pratis [i.e. the one that the Chinuch rejected] is an apikores".

Here is the opinion that the Chinuch rejected.

Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 169:

There are sects among mankind who maintain that Divine providence controls all the matters of this world… that when a leaf falls from a tree, He decreed that it would fall…. This approach is far-removed from the intellect.

In other words anyone who doesn't believe what the Chinuch called far-removed from the intellect is an apikorsus. Anyone who doesn't believe that everything that happens (even the most insignificant thing like a leaf falling from a tree) is decreed from heaven is an apikorsus.

This kind of statement boggles the mind. Most of the Rishonim including both the Rambam and the Ramban hold like the Chinuch. They state explicitly that except for exceptional tzadikkim everyone is exposed to (chance) מקרה. The amount of hashgocha a person has is directly related to how close they are to Hashem. The average person is very much exposed to chance (the forces of nature etc.).

Interestingly enough this also comes up in this week's parsha (וישב).

When the brothers are planning on killing Yosef, Reuven saves him by suggesting to throw him into the pit. The mefarshim ask what did Reuven accomplish, the pit was very dangerous (full of snakes, etc.), even life threatening. The אור החיים and the אלשיך both answer as follows. A person has בחירה חפשית and therefore the brothers could kill Yosef even if he was not supposed to die. However, animals since they have no בחירה חפשית cannot kill someone if he is not supposed to die. In other words, בחירה חפשית trumps hashgocha pratis. A person can be killed even though there was no gezera on him to die. The Netziv gives this answer as well, however he qualifies it by saying that this only applies to someone who is not a צדיק גמור, but a צדיק גמור cannot be harmed even through בחירה חפשית (as both the Rambam and the Ramban say that the closer a person is to Hashem the more hashgacha they have).

Believe it or not people defend the original statement (anyone who does not believe in the Baal Shem Tov's shita in hashgacha pratis is an apikores) as follows.

Many rishonim lived before the discovery of the Zohar, and all lived before the AriZal and the Baal Shem Tov, so they were missing information. The AriZal was taught by Eliyahu Hanavi, and the Baal Shem Tov by Achiyah Hashiloni, and therefore knew things that had been completely forgotten in previous generations.

In my mind this is very dangerous if not apikorsus. This destroys the whole idea of the mesora. What happened to לא בשמים היא? How can we believe that the Rishonim מפיהם אנו חיים for life and death issues could be so mistaken on such a fundamental issue? How can we think that they were missing such a vital chunk of the mesora?

It is also based on "chassidishe maases". Was the Baal Shem Tov really taught by Ahiyah Hashiloni? The Gra and all those who opposed (and still oppose) chasidus obviously did not think so.

In any case the fact is that many Acharonim after the Ari and the Besht agreed with the Rishonim.

The Meshech Chochma( Shemos 13:9)writes:

Divine Providence is manifest for each Jew according to his spiritual level as the Rambam explains in Moreh Nevuchim (3:18): Divine Providence is not equal for everyone but rather is proportional to their spiritual level. Consequently the Divine Providence for the prophets is extremely powerful each according to their level of prophecy. The Divine Providence for the pious and saintly is according to their level of perfection. In contrast the fools and the rebels lacking spirituality are in essence in the same category as animals... This concept that Divine Providence is proportional to spiritual level is one of foundations of Judaism...

The Meshech Chochma died less then a hundred years ago, did he not know the Ari and the Besht?

What is even more interesting is that the Or Hachaim Hakadosh was a Kabbalist after the Ari and he still says what he says in this week's parsha (see above). The Alshich was a talmid of the Ari, and the Netziv bases this idea on the Zohar. They didn't know the Ari's shita?

This is historical revisionism at it's worst.

I think that the Besht's shita has been accepted in the last 50 years for the following reasons:
1. It is theologically simple. It is a very black and white answer which fits into the current Charedi mindset and it promotes emuna peshuta
2. It is as the Chinuch wrote far-removed from the intellect, which fits the current anti-intellectual climate
3. It fits very well with a Torah only mindset. If everything (even a leaf falling) is from Hashem then Torah only makes a lot of sense. Everything else doesn't count anyway.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Now Olmert is giving them armored vehicles

Believe it or not Olmert is giving the PA armored cars. PM agrees to give PA 25 armored cars. Every day that passes he sinks to a new low. It was bad enough to give them automatic weapons and ammunition but armored cars? Does anyone have a doubt that these will be used against Israel? It is amazing how the 1990's is repeating itself right before our eyes, I feel like I am in the movie Groundhog Day. A peace conference that has no chance at succeeding. Concession after concession to the Palestinians. Giving the PA weapons to "fight" terror. We tried all of these in the 1990's and they all blew up in our faces. Why can't we learn from history?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dina and Yosef

In last week's parsha (ויצא) we have the story of the birth of Dina. Rashi there comments (based on the Medrash) that Leah understood that she was pregnant with a boy and if she had another boy then Rachel would only have 1 of the shevatim, therefore she davened and Hashem made a miracle and turned the baby into a girl, Dina.

There are a number of problems with this Rashi as well as with the whole story of Dina.

In Parshas ויגש, the Torah writes when it lists the descendents of Yaakov, ואת דינה בתו. Rashi comments (based on the Gemara in Nidda) that we see that the Torah calls Dina the daughter of Yaakov to show us that the father is responsible for having a daughter. The Maharsha there asks, what is the proof from Dina, after all Dina started off as a boy (per the medrash in ויצא) and therefore how can any proof be brought from Dina?

Another problem that comes up in Parshas Vayigash is that Rashi comments (based on the medrash) on the pasuk ושאול בן הכנענית, that after what happened with Shechem, Dina made Shimon promise to marry her. The obvious question is how could Shimon marry Dina, his full sister? Even though there is a machlokes whether the shevatim had the status of klal yisrael and had to keep all the mitzvos, they certaionly had to keep the 7 mitzvos of בני נח, and one of those is arayos which prohibits them to marry their sister from their mother.

Both the Tur and the Maharsha answer based on the תרגום יונתן in ויצא. The תרגום יונתן explains the birth of Dina as follows. Both Leah and Rachel were pregnant, Leah was pregnant with Yosef and Rachel with Dina and miraculously the fetuses were switched. Therefore, Dina was always a girl and the proof from the pasuk (that the man is responsible for girls) is fine because Yaakov caused Dina to be a girl. Also, since Yosef and Dina were switched, על פי הלכה Leah was not Dina's mother, rather Rachel was and a בן נח is allowed to marry his sister from his father.

This Tur however, raises another question, what about Yosef? Who על פי הלכה is considered to be his mother? If it is Leah, then what good was the נס? Rachel still ended up with only 1 of the shevatim. Therefore we need to differentiate and say that both Dina and Yosef were Rachel's children.

When we consider how the halacha determines who the the mother of a baby is there are 3 possible alternatives:
1. Whoever conceives the child
2. Wherever the fetus is 40 days after conception (as until then it is considered מיא בעלמא and for example you are allowed to daven for the sex of the child)
3. Whoever gives birth

We see that the Tur cannot hold from 1 because even though Yosef was conceived by Leah he is considered Rachel's son. The Tur cannot hold from 3 either as the Tur holds that Dina was considered Rachel's daughter even though Leah gave birth to her. It would seem that the Tur holds like option 2.

With this we can say the following about Yosef. Leah was pregnant with Yosef but it was before 40 days while Rachel was pregnant with Dina and it was after 40 days. Therefore when they switched Yosef was less then 40 days so he was considered Rachel's son as on day 40 he was in Rachel's womb, while Dina had already passed day 40 in Rachel's womb so she was considered Rachel's daughter even though Leah gave birth to her.

It turns out according to the Tur that Rachel was the mother of both Dina and Yosef.

This Tur clearly has ramifications l'halacha with regards to surrogate mothers etc.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yated Neeman - Anyone who criticizes us is criticizing the Gedolim

A short time ago Yated Neeman printed a nasty caricature criticizing Shas. They were heavily criticized by Shas as well as by some in the Ashkenazi Charedi community. Last week Yated Neeman fired back. They wrote the following editorial(translated from the original Hebrew):

The written and pictorial rebuke that was printed in Yated Neeman against the other party (Shas), is not a result of the capriciousness of the editors and writers. rather it is a direct command from our spiritual leaders (the Vaad Haruchani) whose every action is guided by the Gedolei Hador ... and they approve every word written and every caricature printed. They decide when to be silent and when to attack. They also decide the strength and type of criticism.
Therefore any criticism of the newspaper no matter who the person is, is not directed at the editors of the paper but rather at the spiritual leaders of the paper which have at their head the Gedolim.
Everyone who criticizes the paper whatever their title is cannot be considered part of the camp of those who are faithful to the Gedolim. ... the simply cannot be considered as part of the Torah camp.

Below you can see the Mishapcha's take on the whole story.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When did the malachim come to Avraham about the birth of Yitzchak?

The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (11a) seems to say that they came on Sukkos (or according to Tosafos 2 days before Sukkos) and that is when the whole story at the beginning of this weeks parsha (וירא) happened.

Tosafos and other Rishonim are bothered by a number of questions:
1. The medrash tanchuma (quoted by Rashi on Chumash) contradicts the Gemara and says that the whole story happened on Pesach
2. The pasuk at the end of Parshal Lech Lecha (right after Hashem commands Avraham to do a bris mila) says that Sarah will have a baby "למועד הזה לשנה אחרת". If Avraham's bris was right before Succos (on YK according to Tosafos) and Yitzchak was born on Pesach how is that "לשנה אחרת" it is the same year.

Tosafos and the Ritva answer that the gemara here is according to R' Yehoshua and the medrash is like R' Eliezer. According to R' Yehoshua that the world was created in Nissan, the story happened on Succos and the next Pesach is in the next year. However, according to R' Eliezer that the world was created in Tishrei, the story could not have happened on Succos, because Pesach is in the same year, therefore it happened on Pesach like the Medrash.

This is very difficult because the Gemara in Rosh Hashana is detailing all the נפקא מינא and machlokes between R' Yehoshua and R' Eliezer based on when the world was created. If Tosafos is right why didn't the gemara list this as well?

The Maharsha has a different p'shat and tries to reconcile the Medrash and the Gemara as follows:
The Gemara and Medrash don't conflict they are talking about different things. The pasuk in לך לך that says "למועד הזה לשנה אחרת", happened on Pesach. The malachim came on Pesach. However, when Hashem asks Avraham why Sarah laughed and then says "למועד אשוב אליך" that happened in Tishrei on Succos. This answers the contradiction but raises additional questions.

It is very difficult to read the pesukim this way. The malachim come on Pesach and tell Avraham that he will have a son and Sarah laughs. Six months later on Succos Hashem comes back and asks Avraham why Sarah laughed and promises again that he will have a son on pesach. Then the story shifts back to the malachim leaving on Pesach and Avraham arguing with Hashem about S'dom. You have a very strange shift in time from Pesach to Sukkos, back to Pesach.

According to the Maharsha the Gemara in Rosh Hashana by פקידה is also very difficult. The Gemara says that Sara was נפקדה on Rosh Hashana. Yet, the malachim came on Pesach and told Avraham that he would have a son, when was the pekida? It would seem that it was 9 months before (the Rosh Hashana before). However, Sarah did not actually become pregnant until after the next Succos (as the Gemara says), over a year after the pekida! The Maharsha answers that even though on Pesach the malachim told Sara that she would have a baby,the pekida (the gezera that she would get pregnant) was only 5 months later on Rosh Hashana. IMHO, this is very difficult. The malachim are bringing a message from hashem on Pesach that she will have a baby next Pesach. She is going to have a baby, Hashem said so. Therefore what on earth does the pekida on Rosh Hashana mean? It already happened on pesach that she is going to have a baby.

In fact, the Maharasha refers you to a Tosafos in Bava Kama 92a (ד"ה כאשר) who makes exactly this point. Tosafos asks, if the malachim came on Pesach how could the pekida be later on Rosh Hashana? Tosafos answers the pekida was not that she would become pregnant but rather that the pregnancy and birth would be easy. Tosafos is explicitly against the Maharsha.

Tosafos's (Bava Kama) answer is also very difficult. The gemara says that 3 women were nifkad on Rosh Hashana (Sara, Rachel, and Chana). By Rachel, the pasuk says explicitly that Hashem remembered her (זכירה) and ויפתח את רחמה. The pasuk explicitly states that the pekida was with regards to getting pregnant. Since the gemara equates the 3 women (and learns them out 1 from the other) the pekida by Sarah must be the same thing, regarding getting pregnant and therefore how can Tosafos say that the pekida was with regards to having an easy pregnancy and birth.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When was the ברית בין הבתרים?

If you just read parshas לך לך you would think that first Hashem told Avraham to go to Eretz Yisroel, then came the story with לוט etc, and then came the ברית בין הבתרים. However, the Rishonim point out that if we take a closer look at the chronology we see that this is not true.

Hashem tells Avraham by the ברית בין הבתרים that his descendents will be in golus 400 years. Rashi points out that we were only in Egypt 210 years and therefore explains based on the medrashim that the 400 years started with the birth of Yitzchak. However, the Torah says in Parshas Bo that we were in Egypt 430 years. Rashi there explains (again based on medrashim) that the extra 30 years is from the ברית בין הבתרים, in other words the ברית בין הבתרים was 30 years before Yitzchak was born. We know that Yitzchak was born when Avraham was 100 years old which means that ברית בין הבתרים had to be 30 years earlier when Avraham was 70. However, at the beginning of parshas לך לך the Torah tells us that Avraham was 75 years old when he left Charan. This means that לך לך had to be 5 years after the ברית בין הבתרים. Tosafos in Shabbos 10b makes this calculation and says this is what happened. Avraham came to EY when he was 70 and went through the ברית בין הבתרים, and then he returned to Charan for 5 years until Hashem told him לך לך.

The question we have now is why is the Torah written this way? What is the lesson we are supposed to learn from the way the Torah ordered things? Tosafos points out the discrepancy but doesn't explain why.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

War between Shas and Degel Hatorah

Yated Neeman on Friday printed a very nasty caricature about Shas on Friday.

This may lead to a full blown war between the Sefardi and Ashkanezi Charedim.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Not one, not two, not three, but four criminal investigations ...

have now been started against Prime Minister Olmert.

I know that many times an investigation is started and does not lead to an indictment and an indictment does not always lead to a conviction. However, when there are 4 criminal investigations against the PM there is a problem. Where there is smoke there is fire.

Now we have a situation where the PM has 4 criminal investigations against him plus the Winograd Commission and he is going to Annapolis to have a fire sale of pieces of Israel to the Palestinians. What mandate can he possibly have? In any other sane democracy Olmert would have either resigned or have been forced out of office long ago.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Abu Mazen's demands for the Palestinian state

In a television interview, Abbas said the Palestinians want to establish a state on 6,205 square kilometers of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It was the first time he has given a precise number for the amount of land he is seeking.

"We have 6,205 square kilometers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," Abbas told Palestine TV. "We want it as it is."

According to Palestinian negotiating documents obtained by The Associated Press, the Palestinian demands include all of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, east Jerusalem and small areas along the West Bank frontier that were considered no-man's land before the Six-Day War.

He wants everything and more. What everyone fails to point out is that in on June 3, 1967 there was no passage from Gaza to the West Bank, so he not only wants the 1967 borders but he wants more, a passage from Gaza to the West Bank. He also wants small areas along the West Bank frontier that were considered no-man's land before the Six-Day War.

This is a non-starter even for Olmert and the left.

It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

The biggest joke is that anyone believes Abu Mazen can actually deliver something. The man is not even in control of Ramallah let alone Gaza. Any agreement with him isn't worth the paper that it is printed on because there is no way for him to enforce it or abide by it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Understanding davening: Geshem or Gashem

We all just started saying משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם, should we say geshem or gashem? R' Yaakov Kamenetsky says that it should be geshem. He explains as follows. When you have 2 סגול at the end of a word, when that word is the end of a sentence or has a hard stop (אתנחתא) the first סגול becomes a קמץ, for example derech becomes darech. Therefore for משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם we need to see if there is a stop after גשם or not by analyzing the second beracha of שמונה עשרה.

The second beracha is גבורות and starts with the ultimate גבורה, resurrection of the dead, then continues on to more mundane matters and then concludes with resurrection of the dead.

The initial phrase אתה גבור לעולם ה' מחיה מתים אתה רב להושיע is the introduction with states the ultimtae גבורה, resurrection of the dead. Then we have משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם and then מכלכל חיים ... סומך נופלים רופא חולים etc., all more mundane physical things. It is clear that משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם belongs with these physical matters, and not with תחיית המתים. Therefore there should be no stop after משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם but rather it continues right into מכלכל חיים. If so, then the word should be pronounced geshem and not gashem.

If this is correct how did so many people come to say gashem? The answer is that in תפילת גשם the chazan says ואתה הוא ה' אלוקינו משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם and there he says gashem because it is the end of a sentence. Since people hear the chazan say gashem in תפילת גשם they assumed that that was the correct pronunciation in davening as well.

RHS brings down in Nefesh Harav that RYBS also said geshem, I believe for a similar reason.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some halachic points regarding building a succah

Much of this is taken from last years posts, however, I added some additional material.

As now is succah building time I would like to post some common halachic issues that come up when building a succah.

When I was growing up, canvas succahs were very prevalent and in fact, are still widely used. These kinds of Succahs (as well as other non-wood succahs) have a number of halachic problems which I would like to address. For those who aren't familiar, a canvas succah is made of a frame of metal (or fiberglass, etc.) pipes on which canvas is hung to create the walls.

There are 2 issues with this kind of succah:
1. The walls move which may invalidate the wall completely which would invalidate the succah. The gemara, shulchan aruch etc. write that if a wall moves 3 tefachim (about a foot) in the wind then the wall is considered invalid. Every canvas succah that I have seen has walls that move 3 tefachim in the wind and therefore many poskim are not happy with them.

There is an easy solution to the problem which I used for many years. The solution is based on 2 halachos related to walls.
1. לבוד - this means that if you have 2 objects within 3 tefachim of each other the halacha considers it as if the intervening space is filled in.
2. A wall only needs to be 10 tefachim (40 inches) high. Once it is 10 tefachim high we look on it as if it extends up to the sky.

Given these 2 halachos we can construct walls of string for a canvas succah. What we do is tie string/rope from 1 pole to another. We space the string around 8.5 inches apart so that they are within 3 tefachim of each other. With 5 or 6 strings like this we have a wall of greater then 10 tefachim. It works because starting from the bottom, the bottom string is within 3 tefachim of the ground and therefore the intervening space is considered to be filled in. Each subsequent string is placed less then 3 tefachim above the previous one again using לבוד so that we look upon the space as solid. We repeat this until the top string is above 10 tefachim. We have created a wall that is halachically kosher and in actuality serves as the wall of the succah. We repeat this for all the walls.

There is 1 very big caveat that needs to be mentioned. The acharonim (Magen Avraham סי' תר"ל ס"ק א) say that a wall created just by לבוד one way (e.g. strings across the wall like I suggested) is called a מחיצה גרועה a weak (for lack of a better translation) wall. Therefore they say that if you are creating walls like this you need to have 4 walls even though normally, a succa does not require 4 walls (like for a reshus hayachid on Shabbos), rather it only requires 3, and really only 2 plus a tefach.

This means that if you want to be machshir your canvas succah using string and לבוד you have 2 choices: must do this on all 4 walls.
2.In addition to the strings across, you put string going up and down less then every 3 tefachim the length of the wall, you end up with a real mechitza. The reason being that the strings go both ways (you end up with squares less then 3 tefachim in length and width, שתי וערב) and there is no big gap of space. Therefore you no longer need 4 walls.

There is 1 other point to keep in mind. the סכך has to be placed after you create the walls of strings, otherwise it is a problem of תעשה ולא מן העשוי. If the סכך was already put down, then you need to move the scach around to avoid this problem.

I did this for years and it worked well.

2. מעמיד הסכך על דבר טמא - the gemara has 1 opinion that you are not allowed to support the סכך on something that cannot be used for סכך. There is a machlokes harishonim whether we pasken like this opinion. The Mishna Berura mentions that l'chatchela a person should try to be machmir and the contemporary poskim also say that a person should try to be machmir. This problem applies to any non-wood succah (canvas, fiberglass, etc.) as well.

I saw that RSZA said that this din does not apply to walls that are permanent. In Israel it is very common for people to build a succah on a porch, 1 wall is the wall of the building and the other 3 walls are the walls off the porch. The walls of the porch are usually either stone or a metal type railing and the scach rests on top of the walls. In either case RSZA said that since it is permanently connected to the building the gezera of מעמיד הסכך על דבר טמא would not apply in that case.

To get around this the minhag evolved to place wood poles on top of the metal walls and then rest the סכך on top of the wood poles. This makes the wood the מעמיד of the scach and the metal a מעמיד דמעמיד. There are 2 problems with this approach:

1. If the סכך would not fall without the wood then the wood is not considered a מעמיד. In other words if your succah is 6 feet wide and your סכך is 6.5 feet wide, if you just rest the סכך on wood poles it doesn't help, if you took away the wood the סכך would not fall it would rest on the metal. Therefore the metal is called the מעמיד of the סכך. The way to get around this is to make sure that the סכך would fall if you remove the wood, namely, move the סכך to one side so that it doesn't overlap the other wall (it is just very close). In that case, the סכך is truly being held up by the wood.
2. A number of acharonim point out the following. The wood that is used to hold up the סכך is in and of itself kosher סכך. therefore, why should we consider the wood a מעמיד of the סכך, rather it should just be considered סכך which is resting on the metal. I have not seen a good answer for this claim. I saw that RSZA argues on this sevara, I didn't have a chance yet to see why.

The Chazon Ish has an unbelievable chumra. The Chazon Ish understands (based on the Ramban in the milchamos) that even if you have a wooden succah, if the walls are held up by metal screws, that metal is considered to be a מעמיד of the סכך because if you took that metal out the walls would fall down and so would the סכך. In other words, if you have something that is mekabel tumah holding up any part of your succah such that without this piece the סכך would fall down (e.g. the walls would fall down causing the scach to fall) the Chazon Ish considers this to be מעמיד the סכך with a davar hamekabel tumah and no good. Basically according to the Chazon Ish you cannot use any metal to build your succah.

Almost no one holds like this Chazon Ish, it makes building a succah an absolute nightmare, you need to use wooden screws, etc. I remember in KBY everyone was amazed that the posek held from this Chazon Ish.

The bottom line is that with a wooden succah you avoid almost all of these problems and are yotze the mitzva. It is not difficult to build and therefore I highly recommend it.

The מקראי קדש raises the following issue which is halacha l'maase for me. He quotes an opinion that if you use the wall of a tall building as one of your walls (taller then 20 amos), even if the scach is below 20 amos (supported by something else) the wall is פסול because it is taller then 20 amos. The מקראי קדש disagrees and brings a number of sevaros.
1. The fact that the wall continues up is irrelevant, for your purposes you could take it away and your succah will not be affected.
2. The gemara (succa 2a) comments that you can build your succah out of metal (e.g. a permanent structure) even though a succa has to be a דירת עראי. If so why is taller then 20 amos no good? The answer is that taller then 20 amos can only be built as a דירת קבע, the halacha requires that you build the succah in a way that it could be built as a דירת עראי. therefore, the building wall even though it is above 20 amos, since the schach is below is kosher because it could be built as a דירת עראי.

The acharonim point out that you only say דופן עקומה when the wall reaches the scach. However, if the wall does not reach the schach you don't say דופן עקומה and you don't have a wall. This is very relevant especially in the situation I described above, if you are using לבוד to make walls and you have an overhang, you can't use דופן עקומה if the wall doesn't reach the scach and therefore you won't have a wall.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Picking your battles

This is something that the Charedi world has not yet learned. The Charedi world makes everything into a big issue and fight. A perfect example is the switch from Daylight time to Standard time. In the Western world this happens at the end of October beginning of November. In Israel, it already happened, why? So that Yom Kippur would end an hour earlier. This provoked some tremendous battles between the Charedi MK's and secular ones. The question we need to ask is, is it worth it? Is this really that important that we need to provoke a fight with the secular public?

I was very happy to see that Rabbi Horowitz Is Everything a 10? makes the same point.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What sound is a תרועה?

The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (34a) seems to offer 3 possibilities.
1. What we call a תרועה
2. What we call a שברים
3. What we call שברים-תרועה

The Gemara there quotes an interesting statement from ר' אבהו that he instituted the practice of blowing all 3 because of a ספק which is the correct תרועה.

The Rishonim ask a very fundamental question. What happened before ר' אבהו? Before ר' אבהו, some communities only blew שברים and some only תרועה. Were they not יוצא? How did this ספק come about? Everyone hears shofar every year so how did they forget what it was?

R' Hai Gaon has a fascinating answer. He says that really all 3 are called a תרועה and you are יוצא the mitzva by blowing any one of the 3. תרועה means a crying type of sound and all 3 fit the bill. ר' אבהו was bothered by the fact that since different communities blew differently people would not understand and think that the other person is not יוצא, he also felt that it made it look like there are different Torah's. Therefore, he instituted a common practice of blowing all 3 different possibilities. This is how the Ritva and others explained that in Musaf the minhag was to blow תשרת for מלכיות and תשת for זכרונות and תרת for שופרות. If there really was a safek then you should need to blow all 3 after each section of the שמונה עשרה. However, according to R' Hai it makes perfect sense, since you are יוצא with any of them we are not מטריח the people to blow so many קולות.

Tosafos and the Rambam however disagree. They hold that ר' אבהו had a real safek and you are only יוצא with one of the 3, the other 2 are wrong. It comes out, that before ר' אבהו it would seem that many people were simply not יוצא the mitzvah. The obvious question is how could this have happened? In truth, we can ask this on many cases. For example, everyone wears tefillin every day and yet there is a machlokes what is the order or the parshiyos. You have to say that over teh years the mesora was lost or got corrupted and there was a genuine doubt as to what is called a תרועה.

What does המלך הקדוש mean?

Wednesday night we are all going to start saying המלך הקדוש, what does it really mean? I refer you to an old post What does המלך הקדוש mean? which addresses this issue.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The שיר של יום

Every day we say the שיר של יום which is what the לויים said in the Beis Hamikdash. The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (31a) details the שיר של יום for every day of the week and for Shabbos. The simple understanding of the Gemara on (30b) is that in addition there was a special שיר של יום for Yom Tov as well.

The Minhag Ashkenaz for the שיר של יום on Shabbos and Yom Tov is very difficult. We say מזמור שיר ליום השבת after musaf. However, the Gemara says that מזמור שיר ליום השבת was the שיר for the תמיד של שחר, for the תמיד of musaf they said the שירה of האזינו (split into the six aliyos one aliaya a week). Therefore, really we should say מזמור שיר ליום השבת after shacharis like nusach sefard as that is it's place. To ay it after musaf and say that this is what the Leviim said is simply not true. The Aruch Hashulchan makes this point and says he doesn't understand the minhag. It's also interesting that we don't say the שיר mentioned in the gemara for shabbos musaf or mincha.

On Yom Tov it is not clear whether there was a different שיר at shacharis, there definately was one for musaf. Therefore, again our minhag of saying the regular שיר של יום on Yom Tov is difficult because that was not what was said at musaf.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Shofar on Shabbos

The Mishna in Rosh Hashana (29b) states that they blew shofar in the mikdash but not בגבולין (for our purposes outside of Yerushalayim, there is a big machlokes rishonim what it means exactly). The Gemara asks why don't we blow on Shabbos? The Gemara first brings R' Levi Bar Chama that it is a דין דאורייתא based on pesukim, the Torah says in one place יום תרועה and in another place זכרון תרועה. One is on a weekday one is on Shabbos. The Gemara rejects this and says it is because of Rabbah's gezerah that he will carry. Interestingly enough the Yerushalmi does not reject the hava amina and the simple understanding of the Yerushalmi is that not blowing shofar on Shabbos is a דין דאורייתא. What is even more interesting is that when Rosh Hashana does fall out on Shabbos, in davening we say זכרון תרועה.

Tosafos asks why is it that after the churban habayis the חכמים allowed blowing the shofar on Shabbos in a place where there is a בית דין, while by לולב after the churban we simply don't take it on Shabbos even where there is a בית דין? They answer that the shofar's purpose is to bring our זכרונות up to שמים and therefore Chazal felt that they could not completely abolish the practice of blowing shofar on Shabbos, there had to be somewhere where the shofar was blown. Based on this, what about today? We don't blow shofar anywhere when Rosh Hashana falls out on Shabbos.

As I mentioned above the Gemara explains that we don't blow on Shabbos because of גזירה דרבה. However, it is clear from the Mishna that this was a much earlier גזירה as רבה is one of the late amoraim and the Mishna states that in the time of the Beis Hamikdash they did not blow shofar on Shabbos outside of Yerushalayim. We see that the גזירה was in existence for a long time before רבה, it is a little strange that the Gemara attributes it to רבה.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What is the מצוה of שופר?

At first glance there are 2 possibilities, שמיעה or ,תקיעה. The mitzva is either to hear the shofar or blow it.

This seems to be a machlokes harishonim. The Rambam and others emphasize that the mitzva is שמיעה and therefore the beracha is לשמוע קול שופר. The Rosh on the other hand quotes Rabbenu Tam that the beracha is על תקיעת שופר strongly implying that the mitzva is the תקיעה.

The acharonim point out that both opinions are quite difficult.

The acharonim ask a number of questions on each opinion. If the mitzva is שמיעה then why does the תוקע have to be מכון to be מוציא you? After all, you heard the shofar, who cares what the blower's kavana was. On the other hand if the mitzva is the תקיעה then how can somene else blow for you? We know that by a מצוה שבגופו you can't appoint a שליח. For example, someone else cannot put on tefillin for you or sit in the succah for you or shake a lulav for you. If so, how can they blow shofar for you? Also, according to R' Tam why does the mishna say that if you blow in a בר and you hear an echo you are not יוצא, why not? After all you blew the shofar.

Based on the above and more the acharonim say that shofar is a hybrid, both the תקיעה and the שמיעה are part of the mitzva. Therefore, you need both aspects to be יוצא.

We are left with 1 question how can someone blow for you it is a מצוה שבגופו?

The answer may be as follows. Sofar is considered by the gemara to be avodas pnim and is considered to be tefila. The Gemara says that we say מלכויות to crown hashem, זכרונות so that he remembers ובמה בשופר. The shofar is a vehicle of tefilla and therefore maybe just like I can be מוציא you in tefilla through שומע כעונה, so too I can be מוציא you in תקיעת שופר because it is tefilla.

The machlokes about the beracha would then seem to be which of the 2 parts of the mitzva is the עיקר , more important. Although both are needed, the beracha needs to focus on one and the machlokes is which one should we pick.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cremation in Israel

The only crematorium in Israel went up in flames last night sparking a debate about cremation. Shas is introducing legislation which will ban cremation completely.

IMHO this is a very bad idea. Religious coercion doesn't work in Israel in fact many times it hurts more then it helps. We need to pick our battles and I don't see how cremation is that big of an issue. It is an issur but so is shaving with a razor. It is not an issue that has ramifications for the Jewish people at large and in fact, the estimate is that a few hundred people a most would be cremated a year. These kinds of laws just antagonize the non-religious population and don't contribute anything.

יפת תאר and כהנים

In this week's parsha we have the din of יפת תאר. The Rambam writes in Hilchos Melachim (8:4)

הכוהן מותר ביפת תואר בביאה ראשונה, שלא דיברה תורה אלא כנגד היצר; אבל אינו יכול לישא
אותה אחר כן, לפי שהיא גיורת.

A Kohen is permitted to have relations with a יפת תאר because the Torah only permitted it to appease the evil inclination, but he can not marry her because she is a convert

We see from here that the din of יפת תאר applies to a כהן. This is very interesting because the din of יפת תאר only applies to soldiers fighting in a war. The clear implication is that Kohanim fought in the army.

In fact, the Rambam earlier implies this as well. In פרק ז where he discusses who leaves the army, he writes the following:

המחזיר את גרושתו, והמארס אישה האסורה לו, כגון אלמנה לכוהן גדול, גרושה וחלוצה לכוהן הדיוט ...

Someone who remarries hios divorced wife or someone who marries a woman he is prohibited from marrying such as a Kohen Gadol and an widow a regular Kohen and a divorcee ...

Again the Rambam discusses Kohanim in the context of the army.

This seems to contradict that Rambam at the end of hilchos shemita where he seems to exempt Shevet Levi.

I looked in the Frankel Rambam and to my great surprise none of the standard commentaries on the Rambam discuss this issue. The only references were to sefarim I never heard of and have no access to.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What is the nature of דינים דרבנן?

In last week's parsha שופטים, we have the din of לא תסור.

There is a well known מחלקת between the Rambam and the Ramban (ספר המצות שורש א) about the nature of דינים דרבנן. The Rambam holds that all דינים דרבנן are based on לא תסור. In other words there is a חיוב דאורייתא to listen to them. The Ramban asks an obvious question, if so why do we say ספק דרבנן לקולא? After all, if you violate a דרבנן you are violating the איסור דאורייתא of לא תסור?

The Meshech Chochma (Devarim 17:11) explains the Rambam as follows. He says that every דין דרבנן is not necessarily a fulfillment of the will of Hashem. The proof is that the Rambam paskens based on the Gemara that a later greater Beis Din can be מבטל a תקנה of an earlier Beis Din. If every תקנה was the will of Hashem how could that be? Therefore, he explains that by דינים דרבנן what is not important is the actual mitzva act, but the fact that you listened to the חכמים and did not rebel against their words. The איסור of לא תסור is an איסור to rebel against the חכמים, to not listen to them. Given that, we understand why ספק דרבנן לקולא because the act of doing the mitzva is not the main point, the point is listening to the חכמים, once it is a ספק, there is no need to do the act because it is not so important (contrast that to a מצוה דאורייתא where the act is clearly an unequivocally the רצון השם).

Based on the above, we can answer another question, do you need to do teshuva for violating an איסור דרבנן. Based on the Mehsech Chochma's understanding of the Rambam the answer would be no. Since the whole idea of דינים דרבנן is to listen the חכמים and not rebel against them as the Meshech Chocham explains, then by definition an עבירה דרבנן בשוגג is not a problem, you did not rebel, you did not know that you were doing an issur and therefore there is no need for teshuva.

The Nesivos סימן רלד סעיף ג also holds that an aveira b'shogeg doesn't need כפרה it would seem for the same reason, that there is no מעשה עבירה.

This idea may also explain those שיטות that hold that a פסיק רישא דלא ניחא ליה is permitted by an איסור דרבנן. Since the whole idea of דינים דרבנן is to listen the חכמים and not rebel against them, a פסיק רישא דלא ניחא ליה is not called rebelling against them, you are not directly doing the action that is prohibited, in fact you don't want it to happen. Therefore, even though it will definitely happen, since you are not doing it directly, it is not an act of rebellion against the חכמים and therefore permitted.

How many people are learning full time in Israel?

According to last week's Mishpacha magazine the numbers are as follows (approximations):
Yeshiva Ketana (high school age) - 21,000
Yeshiva Gedola - 31,000
Kollelim - 56,000

These numbers are unbelievable. The big question is how much longer can this last.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What does a מלאך look like?

The Gemara in Rosh Hashana 24b and Avoda Zara 43b learns out from the pasuk לא תעשון אתי that we are not allowed to make representations of many things including מלאכים. This halacha is brought down in Shulchan Aruch in יו"ד סימן קמ"א. Since there is an issur to create a representation of a מלאך we need to know what it looks like so we know what not to do. Interestingly enough none of the commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch on the page explain what a מלאך looks like. However, the Ran in Avoda Zara comments that a representation of a מלאך is a human being with wings because this is how a מלאך is perceived by a נביא.

It comes out that this Ran would seem to be the source for the depictions of מלאכים with wings.

I addressed this gemara in a different context relating to a 7 branched menora in a previous post A 7 branch Menora

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Whatever happened to giving צדקה simply because it's a mitzva?

These days every ad that I see in Yated Neeman for צדקה is pushing how the צדקה will help you the giver. Talmidei Chachamim will daven for you, it will help your children in their learning, help you have children, help your parnasa, etc. What ever happened to giving צדקה simply because it is a mitzva? Why does the benefit to the giver need to be promoted so?

Below are all the ads that appeared for צדקה in today's Yated Neeman. You can see that every single one touts the benefits for the giver.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rap in Yiddish

Some Charedi musicians/singers took some popular rap songs and transformed them into Yiddish. It has of course been banned in Israel. You can listen to a sampling of some the songs here סערה בעולם החרדי: פיפטי סנט ומדונה ביידיש

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The collapse of Heftziba

Everyone in Israel has been talking about the collapse of the construction company Hetziba especially the Charedi world as Heftziba did a lot of construction for the Charedi world.

This past weeks Mishpacha had 2 opinion pieces about the situation, one by a former MK who is not involved and one by a Kannoi who has a regular column (for example he wrote vehemently against participating in the Israeli elections) who bought an apartment from Heftziba for his children and could very well have lost hundreds of thousands of shekels.

The contrast is startling. The former MK writes about how time after time the Charedi population tries to save/make money and ends up losing everything. He doesn't understand why the Charedi population is so gullible and easily cheated.

The Kannoi on the other hand writes an angry bitter article demanding that someone do something so that he gets his money back. While I understand his pain I would like to make a few comments.

Basically, he brought this on himself. Here are some of the things he did that created the situation.

1. The government passed a law about 15 years ago requiring that buyers of new apartments receive bank guarantees on their payments to cover exactly what happened with Heftziba. If the contractor goes bankrupt the buyer gets all his money back. Heftziba, offered discounts to Charedim if they would forgo the bank guarantees. R' Kannoi writes proudly in the article that he opted to take a discount instead of the bank guarantees. In essence, he wants to have his cake and eat it. He opted to forgo the bank guarantees to save money but now wants the protection of those same bank guarantees.
2. He signed a contract without a lawyer. Many in the Israeli Charedi world don't trust lawyers and after all, a lawyer charges 1.5% of the price. As he himself admitted he doesn't know anything about real estate and has no idea what he actually signed.
3. He bought on paper. While there is nothing wrong with buying on paper, however, he paid 80% of the total price in advance (without bank guarantees). By law, you are not allowed to pay more then 15% in this situation. In addition, it is simply not a very smart thing to do especially without bank guarantees. Why did he do this? Again, for a discount.

What is most interesting is that he expects the government and the Charedi parties/MK's to bail him out. Even though he is vehemently opposed to participating in the elections, he wants the Charedi MK's/political parties to use their clout to get him his money back. Of course, the only reason they have any clout/power is because they did participate in the elections and according to him are violating an aveira of sitting with reshaim. I guess money talks.

Last but not least, I was disappointed by a lack of emuna. When it comes to money people seem to lose their emuna. After all הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים and כל מזונותיו של אדם קצובים לו מראש השנה. Whatever happened was a גזירה משמים, he was meant to lose this money, if so, why such anger, frustration and pain? Why didn't instead he write a column about this explaining the lesson he should learn from this?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Israeli Supreme Court is at it again

Naomi Blumenthal was convicted of bribery and was sentenced to a few months in jail. She appealed to the president for clemency because of her personal situation (her husband died etc.) and the President agreed and canceled her jail term. The organization for good government petitioned the Supreme Court to cancel the clemency.

The law (a Basic law) specifically gives the President the power to grant clemency with no reservations. In other words, there is no absolutely no room for the court's intervention. The law give the President the power of clemency with no reservations. The fact that the court even agreed to hear the case is a travesty.

Bill Clinton before he left office pardoned a whole bunch of people including Marc Rich. There was a lot of criticism but no one would have dreamed of appealing to the Supreme Court and if someone would have they would have been throw it. There is simply no legal issue. The President has the absolute right to pardon who he wants, the same thing applies in Israel. The fact that the court is even hearing the case highlights the judicial tyranny of the Supreme Court in Israel.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Arabs, Jews to be subject to same airport security check

Mofaz: Arabs, Jews to be subject to same airport security check

This is so stupid it would be laughable if it wasn't so serious. The system here has worked for 60 years but let's throw it out the window because it is not politically correct. The bottom line is that Israeli Jews are not terrorists and are not trying to blow up planes while Arabs are. No amount of skating around the issue can change this fundamental fact. Given that, it makes perfect sense to subject Arabs to more stringent security checks.

I have a great idea for Mofaz, let's bring in the TSA.

This cartoon sums up Olmert nicely

From today's (8/7/2007) Jerusalem Post.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Are R' Chaim Soloveitchik's analyses of the Rambam historically true?

When R' Chaim (or any other Rosh Yeshiva) explains the Rambam with a Brisker lomdus is that really what the Rambam meant?

The שרידי אש in both a teshuva and a published letter says no. He writes that it is clear that the Rambam's derech was not R' Chaim's. All you have to do is look at the Teshuvos Harambam where he deals with some of the issues/contradictions. The Rambam never gives any lomdus to explain his psak, rather he gives what we would call Baal Habatish answers. He had a different girsa in the Gemara, their copy of the Mishne Torah was wrong, he made a mistake, etc. Not once does he employ anything close to Brisker lomdus.

What does this mean for us? Does it matter?

The answer would seem to be it doesn't. This is the way that Torah works. The Mishen Torah as a sefer has been accepted and meaning can be found in it even if that was not the Rambam's intent. Call it whatever you want (רוח הקדש, סייעתא דשמיא), the great sefarim take on a life and meaning of their own.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Mishpacha Magazine discusses the internet

The Mishpacha magazine (in English) has a fascinating article on the internet. Here are some important quotes:

“A blanket ban on home computers is as foolish as a blanket ban on electric saws. But it is just as foolish to leave an electric saw plugged in, out in your living room here there are children. Chinuch is all about teaching our children how to use life’s tools" — Rabbi Leib Kelemen
A prominent rabbi and thinker consulted by Mishpacha feels that "there is no force stopping the Internet from being global — it is far too useful a device. It is one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind. Although there are those in klal Yisrael who think that they will be able to keep the Internet out of their homes and lives, they must realize that it will never go away. A person must learn to adapt. The way to win the war of the Internet is not getting rid of the Internet itself. How can we?" He goes on to state: "The initiative to ban the Internet outright is crumbling, because people are beginning to understand how incredibly useful it is. The Internet can be compared to a light bulb. While light bulbs have infinite positive uses, the light they provide can also make it easier for a thief to steal. Is that potential robbery enough of a reason to outlaw the light bulb?" According to this rav, the mass rallies against home Internet usage won’t stop the trend.

The article advocates filters and careful parental supervision and states that there is no foolproof solution.

It is very heartening to see the magazine address the issue in a realistic way.

Daas Torah - Concerts are Assur II

This weeks Mishpacha in Hebrew has more information. It is crystal clear that this is not an old issur being resuscitated but a new issur.

The article asks R' Mordechai Bloy what is so bad about these concerts?

According to people who work in the field, 60-80% of kids who leave the derech start the process by going to a concert.

Below is the article in Hebrew.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Daas Torah - Concerts are Assur

Even if they are separate seating.

For those of you who don't believe this is authentic, here it is on the front page of today's (August 1, 2007) Yated Neeman.

When these kinds of activities are assur it is no wonder that you hear stories like this, Party On… Dude!


Here is an article in today's (August 2, 2007) English Hamodia about this as well. It is clear that there is no misunderstanding here as some want to claim.

Update II

Now the Gedolim are calling on young people to avoid hikes if at all possible. What is left to do during Bein Hazmanim?

The Supreme Court and democracy

Former Justice Minister Dan Meridor made an incredible statement today (Ret. justice Cheshin to Friedmann: Quit).

We want a democracy of the type the Supreme Court has designed

That is democracy? Unelected leftist judges basically making the laws and deciding how they are enforced is democracy? Meridor seems to have forgotten that the basic task of the judiciary is to interpret the law not create it. Why should unelected judges "design a democracy"? With opinions like Meridor's it is no wonder Israel has a dictatorship of judges.

The ending of Harry Potter, Christian?

Spoilers for Harry Potter 7

After thinking about the ending of Book 7 it seems very Christian to me. Harry needs to die to save the world. His sacrifice will protect everyone else. Harry accepts his fate/mission to save the world out of a sense of love, his sacrifice protects his folowers from Voldemort, and then he is "resurrected" (according to Dumbledore he didn't actually die, but it is close enough) from the dead and returns and slays Voldemort.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

RBS B - Majority of residents are opposed to violence and demonstrations

Mishpacha (Hebrew) had an article where they said that the overwhelming majority of the residents of RBS B are opposed to the ongoing violence and demonstrations. If so why don't they make their views known? It is not simple to oppose the "kaanaim" and people are afraid. Below is the article:

The silent majority is posting pashkevilim. Here is one translated from the article:

Breders (Yiddish word, I don't know what it means), is it worth it at any price? Go out in the street and look at our neighborhood, it has been lowered to the dumps, filthy and destroyed. Who are we fighting? Until now we have lived in an beautiful neighborhood, now destruction rules the neighborhood. Our houses are disgusting from the graffiti written on the walls, the sidewalks are destroyed, the streets are full of rocks, the fences are broken, the trees have been uprooted and destroyed. In one fell swoop we have fallen 77 levels backwards so that instead of living in a neat and tidy place we are living in a desolate city and anyone who sees it will not want to step foot in it. Is this how we make our neighborhood beautiful?

With no public transportation because the roads are blocked and rocks are being thrown, righteous women are being forced to walk with their packages and sons on the street.

Is it not enough that the government oppresses us that we need to harm ourselves as well? Are we conducting a holy war by throwing rocks that can kill, on other Jews?

What was actually written on the לוחות, the word זכור or the word שמור?

We know that they were both said at the same time, but what was actually written on the לוחות themselves. It is clear from the gemara that only 1 of them was written as the gemara comments that the ם and the ס were בנס, if both זכור and שמור were somehow written בנס the gemara certainly would have mentioned it.

R' Yaakov Kamenetsky addresses this question (in ואתחנן) and claims that זכור was written but the קרי was שמור. He says this would apply to all the other differences as well (קרי וכתיב).

However, this is very difficult as the end of the דברה of Shabbos is completely different, in יתרו it talks about the 7 days of creation and in ואתחנן it talks about יציאת מצרים. On one word I can see saying קרי וכתיב but not on a whole pasuk.

Has anyone seen any other mefarshim address this issue?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A government of cowards II

A year ago I posted A government of cowards and The pathetic leadership of Israel where I described how pathetic the government was in the handling of the war. Chaim Ramon's testimony to the Winograd commission, released today to the public, drives home this point. If you remember, all of the important votes on the war were unanimous in favor. Ramon in his testimony states that even though he opposed the ground action at the end of the war he voted for it to support the Prime Minister (see רמון לוינוגרד: לא רציתי להצביע נגד אולמרט). Imagine, Chaim Ramon votes for an action that he doesn't believe in and that he knows is going to result in the deaths of a large number of soldiers. Why? Because he wanted to support the PM. What kind of person sends soldiers to their death to show support for their friend the PM? What happened to the good of the nation? Who needs 25 ministers if they are just a rubber stamp for the Prime Minister?

The rest of his testimony is interesting as well as he decries the decision making process of the government as a whole. What is sad is that I don't see him doing anything to change it. In fact, he never even publicly stated any of this. All of this came out only because his testimony which he thought would be kept secret was publicized.

Deja Vu - Israel allows the transfer of 3000 rifles to the PA

Didn't we do this in the past and have it blow up in our faces? Hundreds of people were killed by those rifles that we gave them in the mid 1990's. Everyone knows that in the near future these rifles will be turned against us. How blind can people be?

See הלילה: 3000 רובים הועברו לפלסטינים ביריחו for details on the transfer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Drinking soda at a kiddush

There is a well known halacha in Hilchos Berachos (סימן קע"ד) that wine is פוטר other drinks from a beracha. However there is a fundamental machlokes why this is so.

The Magen Avraham explains that since wine is important and it has it's own beracha therefore it is פוטר other drinks (even if you drink a little). The Chayei Adam, Aruch Hashulchan and R' Akiva Eiger hold that it is the same as the reason for bread, namely that you are קובע your meal on wine.

The Mishna Berura tries to make a פשרה and requires that you drink a shiur. The Mishna Berura is difficult because he is going with neither shita.

What is the din in the following case. You go to a kiddush and you drink a little of the wine from kiddush. You now want to drink soda. Do you make a שהכל or not? According to the M"A no, since you drank a little wine it is פוטר all other drinks. However, according to the Chayei Adam etc. you would be חייב to make a new beracha as you were not קובע your meal on wine. You just drank a little wine for kiddush and that is not a קביעות. To be יוצא a mitzva they write does not create a קביעות, you need to really want to be קובע your meal on wine.

What happens if you are the one making kiddush? Here the Aruch Hashulchan writes that since kiddush has to be במקום סעודה, making kiddush is considered to be a קביעות. R' Akiva Eiger may argue with this as well and may hold that since nowadays we only make kiddush to be יוצא the mitzva and not to be קובע our seuda on wine that even if you made kiddush you would need to make a שהכל.

The best advice in this situation is not to make kiddush and certainly not to drink from the wine of the מקדש. This way you have no safek. If you do make kiddush you should try to find some food to make a שהכל on before you drink anything else.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wearing crocs on Tisha B'Av

מעיקר הדין we pasken that only leather shoes are prohibited. However, nowadays, we have shoes that are not made of leather which are as comfortable or more comfortable then leather shoes. Crocs are a good example, I see people wearing them everywhere. Give this, it may very well be that they are prohibited on Tisha B'Av. Leather is not a הלכה למשה מסיני. Leather is prohibited because that is what shoes used to be made of and people did not walk around with non-leather shoes. Today, where people do wear non-leather shoes all over, the din may change because the facts changed.

In any case, there is no question that wearing the same shoes that you wear all week on Tisha B'Av certainly violates the spirit of the din. Not wearing leather shoes is supposed to be an עינוי, you are supposed to feel uncomfortable. If you wear super comfortable non-leather shoes you have defeated the whole purpose of the din. By Aveilus there is supposed to be a kiyum balev, you are supposed to feel something. If you wear your regular shoes there is certainly no kiyum balev.

Leather shoes on Tisha B'Av

Why are leather shoes of all things prohibited on Tisha B'Av? RSZA has a fascinating answer based on the של"ה.

The Beracha of שעשה לי כל צרכי goes on shoes (in fact according to the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch you make it after putting on your shoes). The obvious question is why? Are shoes your only need? A person who has shoes has no other needs? He has everything? The של"ה explains that leather shoes represent man's dominance/rule over the world. The fact that man can kill an animal and wear it's skin to protect his feet is the ultimate expression of dominance. Therefore leather shoes represent man's dominance over teh world and the fact that the world provides all of man's needs.

Based on this, we can explain why there is an issur to wear shoes on Tisha B'Av, Yom Kippur an Avel, in the Bei Hamikdash. All of these are times/places where man needs to show humility before Hashem and therefore to wear leather shoes the symbol of man's dominance would be inappropriate.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

On Making Money - A Followup

The Mishpacha Magazine (in English) printed a very good letter in response to Jonathan Rosenblum's article (see On Making Money for my response to the article) which appears below:

The letter writer's main point is that the world has changed and while in the past (especially right after WWII) it was possible to succeed with "hondling" ability, today it is very difficult to succeed with no education.

I am very glad to see that Mishpacha printed this letter. For the past few weeks I have bought both the English and Hebrew edition, it is amazing how different they are. The following ad appeared in this past week's English Mishpacha, in the Hebrew Mishpacha forget about such an ad appearing, secular studies are assur.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Please daven

Wearing Shabbos clothes on Shabbos Chazon

The Gra has a famous comment about Shabbos Chazon. The Rama based on the Rishonim paskens that a person should not change their clothes for Shabbos Chazon, but rather wear weekday clothes. The Gra disagrees and says that אבילות בפרהסיה is assur and wearing week day clothes is אבילות בפרהסיה. The minhag nowadays seems to be like the Gra.

Recently, I heard that a number of Charedi rabbanim are going back to the psak of Rama for the following reason. Anyone who knows the (non-Chassidish) Charedi world, knows that there is very little difference between weekday clothes and Shabbos clothes, especially for Rabbanim, Roshei Yeshiva, etc. They wear a dark suit and a hat all the time. When I see the Rabbanim in my neighborhood I can never tell the difference between weekday clothes and shabbos, many of them wear a long black frock 7 days a week, and those who don't wear dark suits. Therefore, for them, it is not אבילות בפרהסיה to wear weekday clothes, very few people if anyone will be able to tell the difference.

The same sevara applies to the more modern world in America where many people wear suits all week to work and a similar type suit on Shabbos. Again, very few people would notice if they wore a weekday suit on Shabbos and therefore it would not be אבילות בפרהסיה.

This sevara is brought down by the Aruch Hashulchan where he uses it to explain how the minhag changed.

Summer Advice - How to keep your kids from spiritual disaster

I received the following pamphlet in my mailbox with a bunch of tips/advice for how to keep your kids from spiritual disaster.

I am not going to translate the whole pamphlet, it is too long. I will try to summarize each paragraph.

קייטנות - These are summer camps. You need to check out the other kids and make sure that everything is being run al pi torah

חופים - Beaches
There is a list of kosher separate beaches

בריכות - Pools
Be careful of the following:
1. That the kids don't read newspapers
2. There are no TV's in the area

עיסוק - Keeping busy
Make sure that the kids don't just hang out in the city (who knows what they will see)

קריאה - Reading
A library that has no supervision is a terrible danger. Also dangerous are all the newpapers/weeklies that have no rabbinical supervision.

תקשורת - Communication
Students in seminaries and yeshivas are not allowed to have cellular phones (even kosher ones).

Girls should not answer the phone if they don't know who the caller is (caller id) because the person might offer them a job (baby sitting) or ask them to participate in an opinion poll.

Don't give your children walkie talkies

רדיו ונגונים - Radio and music players
1. Radio is known to be one the biggest destroyers of the chinuch and neshama of children.
2. When buying a tape player you must disable the radio
3. mp4 players have been declared by the Gedolim to be destructive and you are not allowed to have one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

There they go again

The Israeli Supreme Court is once agin overstepping it's boundaries. The Attorney General, after reviewing all the evidence decided to reach a plea bargain with the former President Moshe Katzav. As expected, a whole host of people ran to the Supreme Court to overturn the plea bargain.

This is again, judicial tyranny. There is no legal issue here. It is solely an issue of judgement, is there enough evidence to bring Katzav to trial. The Attorney General is by law allowed to enter into a plea bargain when he believes it is the best outcome. In this case after evaluating all the evidence exhaustively he decided on a plea bargain. What is the legal issue that the Supreme Court will decide here? The Supreme Court is again going to replace the judgment of the official who is designated by law to make this decision, with their own. Why is Dorit Beinish's judgement in this matter better then Mazuz's? He obviously believes that the decision is reasonable, why should we care what the Supreme Court Justices think, that isn't their job. Their job is to interpret the law and Mazuz broke no law.

It may be that Mazuz is wrong in this case, however, it is not the Supreme Court's place to decide.

Let's think about this for a minute. The Supreme Court is now going to force the prosecution to bring an indictment and go to trial. Imagine Katzav appeals to the same Supreme Court after the trial, the same court that indicted him will now hear his appeal? Let's just get rid of the prosecution and let the judges do it all.

Can the גואל הדם kill the רוצח before the גמר דין?

In last week's parsha (מסעי) we had the dinim relating to a רוצח בשוגג. The question comes up can the גואל הדם kill the רוצח before the גמר דין?

At first glance it makes no sense, who says the guy is even guilty? However, the simple reading of the Gemara in Makos (10b) would seem to say yes.

This is actually a machlokes in the later acharonim. R' Shach (Avi Ezri Hilchos Rotzeach 5:9) states as a דבר פשוט that the גואל הדם cannot kill the רוצח before the גמר דין. After all, maybe he is פטור from גלות (e.g. קרוב לאונס). He explains the Gemara as saying that the גואל הדם can kill the רוצח after the גמר דין on the way to the עיר מקלט. The Chazon Ish (Likutim on Choshen Mishpat Siman 23) disagrees based on the Rambam (Hilchos Rotzeach 5:10) who seems to say that he can be killed even before the גמר דין. The Chazon Ish also brings a proof from the Gemara in Sanhedrin 49a (ע"ש). The Meiri also seems to say like this.

The קצות (Chosehn Mishpat Siman 2 Sif Katan 1) discusses a similar situation. He points out that by a רוצח במזיד without התראה or even שוגג קרוב למזיד, there is no psak din and yet the גואל הדם is allowed to kill the רוצח. We see from here that the גואל הדם can kill even without a גמר דין. On the other hand the קצות says that it doesn't make sense to say that he can be killed before the case even comes before בית דין, we haven't even established the facts. The קצות would seem to support the position of R' Shach that in the initial flight of the רוצח the גואל הדם would be prohibited from killing him because the facts have not yet been established. The Chazon Ish (based on the Rambam and Gemara in Sanhedrin) seems to disagree. The
Chazon Ish does not offer any סברה and his position seems very difficult, how can the גואל הדם kill the רוצח before the facts have even been established? Maybe he is not חייב גלות?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Can the רוצח בשוגג leave the עיר מקלט for any reason?

In last week's Parsha (מסעי) we have the dinim of עיר מקלט.

The Gemara in מכות learns out from a Pasuk (in מסעי) that the רוצח בשוגג cannot leave the עיר מקלט even to save the Jewish people. Why not? Some say because he would be putting himself in danger fron the גואל הדם.

Some of the Acharonim (Tiferes Yisroel, Meshech Chochma and others) ask a very simple question on this. Why can't we take away the danger? In other words make sure that the רוצח is not endangered by the גואל הדם. They even offer some concrete suggestions:
1. Make a הוראת שעה that the גואל הדם is not allowed to kill the רוצח and if he (גואל הדם) does he will be killed
2. Lock up the גואל הדם so he can't kill the רוצח

If we do one or both of the above there would then be no danger for the רוצח and he should be able to leave.

The Ohr Sameach (Hilchos רוצח perek 7) deals with suggestion 1 as follows. The Torah specifically allows the גואל הדם to kill the רוצח because כי יחם לבבו. The Torah understands the person and therefore allows him to do this. Therefore we cannot, even as a הוראת שעה, prohibit him from killing the רוצח and/or punish him for doing so as the Torah explicitly permitted it.

The Meshech Chochma (in Masei) has a fascinating solution for the second
suggestion. He suggests that it is not the danger to the רוצח that
we are worried about but rather the danger to the Kohen Gadol. He says
that if we let the רוצח out to save the Jewish people, he may try to
kill the Kohen Gadol in some devious way to free himself from Galus, and
therefore we don't let him leave, because of the danger to the Kohen Gadol.

The Baalei Musar answer the questions as follows. We need to realize that the fate of the Jewish People does not rest on the shoulders of 1 person. As Mordechai said to Esther, רוח והצלה יעמוד ליהודים ממקום אחר, the Jewish People will be saved by someone. Therefore, we don't let the רוצח out of the עיר מקלט to emphasize this point, we should not put our trust in any one person but rather in Hashem.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Not eating meat during the 9 days, how should we feel?

I have seen 2 reactions to no meat during the 9 days. One is to whine about how hard it is and the other is to say how easy it is and it is great as someone once said and best of all, there's always ice cream or cheese cake for desert.

Both of these attitudes completely miss the point of not eating meat during the 9 days. The point of not eating meat is for us to feel sad and feel the aveilus for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. To whine about it shows that you missed the point. You should accept it as a hardship and use the hardship to think about why you are doing this.

Those who feel that it is easy and great and they get to eat ice cream all the time, are also missing the whole point. They may be doing the minhag but by Aveilus there is supposed to be a kiyum balev, you are supposed to feel something. These people feel no aveilus because they are not eating meat, in fact they are happy. This is a perversion of the minhag. The minhagim are supposed to help you feel aveilus, if they don't you should do something else that will help you feel the aveilus as well.

I know it is very hard for us, but during the 9 days a person is supposed to feel very sad about the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, that is the main thing, the minhagim are supposed to help us reach that state.

The war with מדין

In last week's parsha (מטות) we find that Moshe sends בני ישראל out to war against מדין. There are 2 very important points here:

1. The pasuk says that the army should be taken from all of the shevatim, לכל מטות ישראל, Rashi comments on this from the Sifri, לרבות שבט לוי, Shevet Levi also sent out soldiers to fight against מדין.

Everyone always quotes the Rambam that Shevet Levi did not go out to war, however, he we see Rashi based on the Sifri, argues with the Rambam and says explicitly that Shevet Levi did go out to war like all the other shevatim.

2. After the war, the soldiers come back with the women and children as captives. Moshe tells them kill all the adult women and all the male children. According to today's Western morality Moshe was committing war crimes and was doing something deeply immoral. And yet, Moshe did it and the Torah recorded it. It is clear that Moshe Rabbenu, who spoke face to face with Hashem and was בכל ביתי נאמן הוא, did not do anything immoral but did what the Torah required him to do. We see from here that Torah morality and Western morality don't go hand in hand and in fact many times are in conflict.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Charedi Hooligans

Toby Katz on Cross Currents, Charedi Hooligans, writes

Even in the most insular chassidishe communities, little boys didn’t used to throw stones at cars for entertainment. I don’t know when we started having this plague of young hooligans somehow sprouting up from our most charedi communities.

and wants to know why this is happening.

I believe one of the main reasons is that there are no permissible outlets for Chareidi male teenagers and young adults. They aren’t allowed to play ball, read books, etc. only Torah. They can never let loose at all. Teenagers have a lot of energy and need an outlet. Protests, throwing rocks are something that is seen as fun, lets them burn off energy and run wild with the participant feeling that he is doing a mitzva and being a kannoi (zealot) for Hashem.

When you combine this with the us vs. them attitude of the Charedi community, the complete delegitimization of everything non-Charedi, and the feeling that everyone is trying to get them the phenomenon is understandable.

I went to the Morasha Kollel for a number of summers both High School and College. The schedule (College) was as follows:

7:30 - Shacharis
8:15 - 9:00 - Breakfast
9:00 - 12:30 - preparation for shiur
12:30 - 1:30 - Shiur
1:30 - 1:45 - Mincha
1:45 - 2:15 - Lunch
2:15 - 5:00 - free time, most people played ball (basketball, softball, tennis, swimming), some days R' Willig would play with us
5:00 - 6:30 - Bekius seder
6:30 - 7:30 - Dinner
7:30 - 8:30 - Chavrusa with a HS guy
8:30 - 10:00 - Night Seder
10:00 - 10:15 - Maariv
after night seder you were officially free, most people kept learning, I personally had a seder until 12:30.

I was learning over 10 hours a day in the summer. For me and many others, what made it work was the 3 hours in the afternoon that we could play ball. That free ball playing time gave us the ability to sit and learn the rest of the day. Not everyone needs it. There were a few guys who learned during the break as well. But for most of the guys, the free time and the ball playing contributed to their learning by giving them an outlet for their energy etc. and gave them the peace of the mind to sit and learn the rest of the time. This is something that is sorely missed in the Israeli Charedi world.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On Making Money

Jonathan Rosenblum wrote an article On Making Money where he writes that he admires businessman more then professionals. The more I think about this article the more it bothers me.

First of all we need to understand the context. The Charedi world is fighting very hard for a Torah only curriculum, no secular studies and certainly no college. Without a secular education the only option is business. There is no doubt that this is one of the (if not the main) motivations for the article.

The main theme of the article is that businessman are better people and have more emuna then professionals.

The obvious implication is that Jewish boys should go into business and not a profession.

I think this is incorrect for a number of reasons and in fact against the Gemara.

The Gemara in Kiddushin (30A-B) writes
חייב אדם ללמד את בנו אומנות
A person is obligated to teach his son a trade

The Gemara has a dispute whether teaching your son business fulfills this obligation. According to R' Yehuda it does not. In other words, according to R' Yehuda it is explicit that being a professional/tradesman is preferable to being a businessman.

The Mishna later (82a) says
ר' מאיר אומר לעולם ילמד אדם את בנו אומנות קלה ונקיה
A person should teach his sons an easy and clean profession

The Gemara gives specific examples of trade not business.

We see clearly that Chazal's preferred occupation was a profession/trade not business.

He quotes the following from a Satmar Chasid
"An education is helpful for earning a living, but it’s irrelevant if you want to make MONEY." He made clear that he preferred the latter.

It seems that he agrees with this statement.

IMHO, this statement is hashkafically wrong for a number of reasons.

A person has a mitzva to support his wife and family (read your כתובה). There is no mitzva to get rich. The person who works to make a living is מקיים a mitzva, the person who works to get rich is not.

We believe that wealth comes from Hashem and therefore, if Hashem wants you to be wealthy you will be wealthy as a professional, and if he wants you to be poor you will be a poor businessman. The statement of the Satmar Chasid stinks of כחי ועוצם ידי, you can't get get rich unless you are in business.

In fact this is an explicit Mishna in Kiddushin (82a). The Mishna states

ר' מאיר אומר לעולם ילמד אדם את בנו אומנות קלה ונקיה ויתפלל למי שעושר והנכסים שלו שאין אומנות שאין בא עשירות ועניות שלא עשירות מן האומנות ולא עניות מן האומנות אלא הכל לפי זכותו
A person should teach his sons an easy and clean profession and daven to the one to whom wealth and property is his (hashem) because there is no profession/trade that doesn't have rich people and poor people, as riches are not base don the profession nor is poverty, rather everything is based on your merits

The Mishna says explicitly that money comes from heaven and whatever profession/trade/business you will get what you deserve.

He claims
Businessmen are far less likely to attribute their success solely to their own abilities.

His view of professionals is very outdated. In my father's generation a person got a job at a big company or the government and was set for life. Today it is just not so. People lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

This personally happened to me. I worked for a large company and was doing quite well. I had a very good relationship with my manager and had good performance ratings. However, in the end none of that helped me. The company was losing money and therefore, decided to close down the product I was working on. One day I came to work and they told all of us in that group that we were laid off. It didn't matter if you were a superstar or a regular employee, everyone was gone. This taught me a tremendous lesson in emuna at least as much as a businessman.

In his praise of businessman he leaves out a few very important points.

For every story of a businessman making it, there are 9 stories of businesses closing down or going bankrupt. 9 out of 10 small businesses fail.

Running a business can be very challenging in terms of keeping halacha and acting ethically. There is a famous story about a shochet who came to R’ Yisrael Salanter and said he doesn’t want to be a shochet anymore the responsibility is too great. Instead he wants to open a store. R’ Yisrael told him that he is making a big mistake. A storekeeper has a much bigger responsibility vis a vis halachic obligations and responsibilities then a shochet.

Running a business is more then a full time job, it can easily take over your life. Many professionals on the other hand are able to devote a few hours a day to learning Torah.

Last but not least, he writes
Perhaps the maxim “buy cheap sell dear” is genetically encoded in many Jews.
That hondling gene ...

If a non-Jew had written these words Rosenblum would be the first one screaming anti-semitism.