Monday, December 31, 2007



Rabbi Meir used to say: How is Techeles [blue color used in Tzitzis] different from all other colors? The Techeles looks like the sea, and the sea looks like the sky and the sky looks like a sapphire stone and the sapphire stone looks like the Throne of Honor (of the Almighty).

Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Chullin 89a. One of the leading orthodox lecturers on Jewish thought, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, explains why we are given this relatively long chain of association: Because we all must take one step at a time. Brilliant color and light can stimulate us, inspire us, and like all things that compel the soul make us want to absorb them and transcend. We are swept up by beauty and want to meld with it. This is after all a kind of love. (Read more.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Likelihood of Hatzlocha

What with R' Chaim in EY holding up the whole world, I would hate for this blog to be written into the wrong book, chas v'shalom, in the coming year.

I'm R' Chaim's frum grown-up lawyer friend from Passaic, and he has asked me to help out here from time to time. Now that he is focusing entirely on reality instead of this world of falsehood we inhabit, you are left, in part, with me.

Well, it happens that my own blog, Likelihood of Success, has taken a decidedly Jewish turn in the last week or so -- could it be Elul? You may want to stop over and take a look. I have recently commented on or linked to:

I'm big on hachnasas orchim, too, so feel free to stop in, leave a comment, start up with me, put your feet on the furniture -- just remember, we're already holding by slichos around here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Let's Get Some Answeres.

As our dear friend Reb Chaim is doing us all proud in the Mir, I thought I’d take up the questions he was recently asked regarding blood transfusions and the like. Let’s go over some of the points now. Come along, won’t you?

“Live by the law not die by it," correct? But Shagra Simmons said the opposite. What Rabbi Simmons said is more to what the truth is, because it’s the written Torah, Gods spoken word, and that supersedes oral Torah, any day.”

There are two very important points here that I think must need to be addressed. Both Rabbi Simmons and Reb Chaim are correct. To save his life, a Jew may disregard any of the 613 commandments, including eating blood. There are however, three exceptions to the rule. 1) Murder 2) Idolatry 3) Certain types of sexual relationships (i.e. incest homosexuality, bestiality adultery, ect) For example, If a gentile were to hold a gun to my head and command me to eat pork, I would be required by Jewish law to eat it. However, if he told me to shot my friend, I must die rather than listen. If you e-mail Rabbi Simmons, He can explain this in more detail.

The second point is important, in that it addresses the core of Judaism, namely the oral law. You said, “It’s the written Torah, Gods spoken word, and that supersedes oral Torah, any day.” This is making a massive mistake in understanding both G-d and his relationship to mankind.

At Mt. Sinai, Hashem gave the Jewish people the Torah, however, contrary to your belief, it was given in two forms, oral and written. The written Torah is the bare bones facts and is impossible to understand without the oral Torah. For example, we are commanded to slaughter an animal as G-d command, but nowhere in the written Torah is the procedure described. We are ordered to keep Shabbos under penalty of death, but are never told what it entails. Moreover, the Written Torah is filled with contradictions and logical errors.

The oral law, just was much as the written law came from G-d and was given as a special gift to his people, Beni Yisrael. A none Jew is forbidden to study it, and may only learn the written law. A Jew is commanded to keep the Torah as best he can, including its oral laws. Most of the Torah in fact is oral and both the laws that a Jew my break a commandment and the exceptions to that rule were given by the mouth of Hashem to Moshe at Sinai.

For more info, check out

“Just imagine how we, here can get some sort of sickness from these people, just like the bird flu?”

The sad fact is, in every surgery there are risks and things that can go wrong. In fact a good number of hospital deaths occur every year due to infections that were caught at the hospital. However, by that logic, we could never see a doctor for anything.

“Take a look at the symbol of the blood donor? It’s a red cross isn't it? A Idolatry symbol...Hmmmm, see something wrong with this picture yet?”

In Israel, the simple is a red magan dovid. In addition, the symbol is the symbol of an organization, not of blood donation itself.

“God made us with this built in feature to repair itself by our own immune system, our blood and tissues working day and night, trying to make a mends and repair what is damaged.”

G-d also commanded us to see a doctor. We learn this from the fact in the written Torah that if a man injures his fellow, among the restitutions he must make is the medical bill. If there is a medical bill, obviously the sick person went to a doctor.

“This is my favourite scripture....”

It’s dangerous to learn Torah without a Competent Orthodox Rabbi. It’s impossible to understand beyond a very surface level, and must the time people make mistakes. They mean well. However, without an understanding of the Torah and its principles, and without the high level of devotion and good character must rabbis have, it’s all but impossible not to interpret it according to our own views, instead of G-d’s.

“The question is. Do you care? Do you care about Gods and his creation? Do you care about life and people, and everything he made for you and has given to you?”

Sadly the answerer in many cases is no. I don’t mean me personally, I am referring to the fact that although Torah learning is growing, over 80% of American Jews are ignorant of their Judaism and are totally assimilated. The average Jew in the reform and conservative movement has no understanding of even basic Torah laws. Trust me, I grew up conservative, and thy go out of their way to exclude G-d was the equation. Although there is massive outreach, we still loss many to intermarriage and other religions.

I hope this helps. Feel free to e-mail me with any other questions at

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Reb Chaim Haqoton has moved.

I have recently re-located from the United States of America to Jerusalem, Israel. Interestingly, I sat next to Avshalom Katz on my plane trip from New York City to Tel Aviv. I want my readers to post in the comments section of this post some ideas for future articles on Reb Chaim HaQoton.

Blood Transfusions in Halacha (an email discussion)

On 7/29/07, dt catherine taylor manna <> wrote:

So nice to have found your post.
I had made a comment on the birthdays from your blog.
I am a student of the Torah, and observer and would very much like to covert formally, although i have done so in my heart.
also, i am learning so much and it is a blessing.
I would like to ask you if there is a blog on blood transfusions. this is something i am opposed to, I beleive it is an offense to God, to do this from my understanding of the tanak and the torah, are there any rabbi who are against this invented proceedure to try to temporarily save a humans life? and is there any debates on this subject like the birthdays. are there any jews that believe like i do? or rabbis:? If saving one life is performing a mitzvot, would it really be saving if you had to break a mitzvot that God has felt so strongly about?
for example God says, in lev chapter 17 you must not eat "or take into our body" blood of any living creature, if you do you must be cut off. because the life of every living creature is in its blood, you must pour it onto the ground you must not eat it if you do i will turn my face from you. on the ground it must be poured, it is used to make attonement for you, that all, thats it.
just in this last hundread years, of the almost 6 thousand since the creation of mankind, has this been invented, the blood transfusions to save ones life.
this is not wright. how can this be an acception to Gods rules or laws after he clearly states how he feels about blood.? about life? since God is all knowing and powerfull, he knew we would be capable of the intellegence on inventing all kinds of ways to preserve our temporary life here on earth, he knew what we are capable of, but the question still is, are Gods people supposed to sucome to the ways of the world? its practices? absolutly not. Gods people are a clean people, who are supposed to stay free and clear of Idolotry. and if one thinks that they can give there own blood to save someone who is loosing there own blood and is near death and if someone thinks that all they have to do is give there blood to save you, that is a form of Idolotry. saying, i will save you with my blood, over steping Gods authority on this one thinking its ok, im performing a mitzvot, playing God, its not like someone is drowning and you perform mouth to mouth resesitation, thats different or, you dodged a bullet to save your brother or friend, or you took the blow to the head to defend someones life, or you spoke out abouts GOds words stood firm and followed his ways, till your death reciting the shema, as many of Gods true faithfull followers did during the inquisitions and holocost, this is different. do you know what i mean rabbi?
anyways, i share my thought with you. I love our creator, and study his word daily. thank you for listning...
here is a free music site me and my husband have wrote songs for hashem and share them with his people...
shalom catherine manna
I responded:
Life is the most important concept and thus life supersedes any commandment in the Torah. Maimonides writes (Laws of Foundations of Torah, Ch. 5) that the Torah is something by which one is supposed to live, not die. Therefore, in order to save a life, even for a short amount of time, all prohibitions and commandments are suspended. Therefore, even if the prohibition of consuming blood included a blood transfusion, violating this prohibition would be REQUIRED in order to save an individual's life. Furthermore, the prohibition not to consume blood, only means not to eat/drink blood anyways, it does not include other forms of consumption. Remember, the prohibition includes even your own blood (so if, for example, you finger is bleeding, you are not allowed to suck on it).
Please forgive me for not expanding thoroughly on the topic like I usually attempt to do because my grandfather's sister died earlier today (interestingly, her name was Katherine, like yours) and I delivered a eulogy, and then I went to visit my cousinwho is terminally ill in the hospital.
Good Luck on your quest towards Truth...
Reb Chaim HaQoton

On 7/31/07, dt catherine taylor manna <> wrote:
Im sorry to hear that your sister has passed away. thank you for writing to me. I understand, but is it allright if i choose to disagree with Maimonides on this one, and still become a convert? I agree with everything else, just not this one.
respectfully yours

I responded:
She was my grandfather's sister, not mine. She was 93 years old, I visited her hours before her soul returned to its Creator...
I cannot possibly understand your position. How can you be so inhumane? Saving people's lives is one of the basic tenents of Judaism, the Torah itself says you MUST save someone's life even it means you wil be committing a sin in doing so, because such a sin is not considered a sin, rather it's a Mitzvah of saving someone's life. In order to be a Jew, one must possess the attribute of mercy, what type of mercy is it to not save someone because you think that a certain prohibition about consuming blood applies to a blood transfusion? The prohibition only applies to eating/drinking blood, and that's it. Surely, for the above two reasons there is nothing wrong with a blood transfusion according to Torah Law. Perhaps before converting to Judaism, you should do a lot more research on how Torah Law, called Halacha, works, because one does not simply "choose to disagree with Maimonides" on a certain law. Maimonides' rulings are based on the Talmud, which is the essential book of the Oral Torah which was given at Mount Sinai. I have the contact information for a Rabbi in Los Angeles who specializes in conversions, if you would like, I can give you his synagouge's phone number and address.
On 7/31/07, dt catherine taylor manna <> wrote:
THank you sure i would love the contact information of the rabbi speciallizing in converstion. can you also tell me where it says in the tanak that you can break the torah laws if it is to save someones life? Its not that i am being inhumane, its just that i see in the passages of Lev 17-10 how God feels so strongly about the consumption of blood and of course they didnt have the technology such as blood transfusions back then, so I personally feel that i dont want to violate Gods ways and i dont quite understand living by the law and not dying for it.
I thought Moses said, directed by God, Today I put befor you the blessings and maledictions, if you are carefull to follow all my ways, i will bless you, I will be your God you will be my people, and i will defeat your enemies, and not put the diseases that are put upon the rest of the people {who dont follow his ways, and laws?} After doing my own research on the subject of blood transfusions, theres a major risk involoved in this proceedure too, its not guaranteed save either. and it makes sence, the blood of all of us has everytihing in it. so when we take this that belongs to someone else, we become like someone else, so is it really saving your life? or is it actually killing you? How does God feel about this? is this really a clean thing for his people to do? everyone does it, but i dont care about everyone I care about his people and i feel i am one of them.
I think it is an offence to God, to play with lives like this. the blood of every living creature, belongs not to us but to God, he gives specific instuctions on what to do with blood, to pour it on the ground, you must not partake of it, in any way consume it...what if your wrong, will God forgive this? Or does he expect us to repent and turn back to him. and to trust him, in everything including this one. I personally think that Gods people should be discusted in this practise and i personally view this as Pagan. If I was God and im not, i would be very hurt over my people doing what the rest of the nations do. WHen are Gods people going to listen to his word and actually have respect for it. Life is a gift, and we have lost something in the process of it. but i believe its never too late. I beleive he loves his people Israel, and i do too. Im not here to condem or argue with you Rabbi,. in fact I dont even know at times why Im where I am at. but i say what i feel, and its from my heart.
sincerly, Catherine.
I responded:
According to your reasoning the following should be true: Since it is forbidden for one to drive through a red light or a stop sign without stopping, even if one is driving an ambulance with a critically ill patient, one should not be allowed to drive through without stopping because the law says not to do it and anyways, it's not a guaranteed fact that you can save the critical patient. Is such a conclusion true? Obviously not. The laws were given to apply under normal circumstances, when circumstances are extrenous, then the laws do not apply and certain things which could normally be forbidden could become permitted and even obligatory in order to save the life of a fellow human being.
And anyways, the prohibition of consuming blood applies specifically to eating/drinking blood, other forms of consumptions (including, for example, annointing with blood or even transfusing blood) are not included in the prohibition of consuminh blood.
When the Torah tells of a law, it is not our job to figure out the reasoning behind the law, rather it is our duty to merely carry out what the Torah tells us to do, without analyzing WHY we are supposed to do it. Accordingly, your explanation of the prohibition of the consumption of blood (that one cannot take something from someone else and if he does he becomes like that someone else) might be a nice explanation, but through your explanation you are changing around the actual law by applying it to cases where it doesn't apply, and not applying it in cases where it does apply.Why then do we fulfill G-d's commandments? G-d is the Master of the Universe and the King of the World, so just as when a king would command you to do or not to do something, you would never dare question the reasoning behind his commandment (WHY the king commanded you to do so), so too when G-d commands certain laws, one is not supposed to ask WHY one should fulfill them, rather one should simply fulfill them as he would fulfill any edict commanded by a king. Ignore the WHY, the WHY is irrelevant.
With your permission, I would like to post this to my website to ask other peoples for their opinion on this matter. By the way, I am not a Rabbi, so please do nto refer to me as such.
She then wrote back:
Thank you for your time and reply.
I would be honoured if you would post my letter for discussion.
I would like to know if there is anyone else that thinks the way i do?
I think its good to talk about spiritual things, Gods laws and ways, we could help each other and in the end become closer to the almighty.
I read everyday on I love there writings and participate very much there.
Like I said i am a Torah observer and student and I am loving it!
Iv never felt closer to God ever, and I thank his people that have guided me in the wright direction. I feel there is so much that i didn't know about our creator. but now i have the opportunity to learn from the best, his people!
I love the Torah, I love his people and I love Him. I know that no one is perfect, and even Gods people can make mistakes, but the difference is, he chose one people for his name, and no matter what...he will always keep his promise and they will always be his people, even if they make mistakes , he always has and always will correct his people when there wrong because he loves them, just like a father loves his children, and like a child loves his father, we will eventually see his way.
That's the way history was, and is today.
God has a theme, a message he sends to his people, Faithfull "Israel", 1/ repents 2/ changes or turns back to him, then 3/ he forgives them...but what must Israel need to repent of?
What is His people guilty of, if anything?
Do we need to take a look at ourselves and question what we are doing , how we are living and is it according to Gods ways or someone elses?
Is that not a part of Judaism? To question everything? To make sure we are not being like the nations that are all around us.? That practise Idolatry, and pagan customs?
Gods people. Are a clean people, that stand out in this world, they always have, and yes they have been persecuted for it many times over, atrocities, inhumane crimes, all because they stood up for Gods name, they didn't bow down to anyone, they didn't forsake there God.
Don't you think these ones well be remembered by God and that he will bless them for it ?
How many stories have we heard of faithful Jews, who died, because they wouldn't kiss the cross. or accept Jesus as there God or convert to pagan religions? That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.
They really loved God with there whole heart,they didn't care what was being done to them, even till there agonizing painfull death, they would rather die in this temporary life, knowing that they loved there God, whole heardedly, the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Joshua, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, they would rather die, than disappoint there creator, who is all knowing all power full and almighty.
There is nothing more pleasurable than having a close relationship with God. I believe that.
Shalom! See you at the wall someday! where Gods presents Shekina, is and awaits us all there.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tu B'Av: A Qoton Qlassic

Here is a short selection from my Qoton Qlassic essay about Tu B'Av regarding the relationship between Tu B'Av and Rosh HaShannah:

Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dinov (1783-1841) explains the Kabbalistic
significance of the holiday of Tu B'Av. The Talmud writes that forty days before one's embryo is formed, Heaven declares who his future spouse will be. In Tractate Rosh HaShana, a dispute is discussed at great length between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua. Rabbi Eliezer maintains that Adam was created on the first of Tishrei. Adam was created on the sixth day of creation; therefore, the world was created on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul. Forty days before the creation of the world, the day on which all spouses must have been divinely declared was the
fifteenth of Av. This is the cause of the celebration of Tu b'Av and its links
to marriage and matchmaking. It is from the day of Tu B'Av, that it is customary
to begin using the New Years greetings to fellow Jews in anticipation of Rosh
HaShannah, the first of Tishrei.

Continue Reading This Qoton Qlassic...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Scroll of Lamentations

In listing the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud refers[1] a book called Kinos "Lamentations" or Megillas Kinos "The Scroll of Lamentations"[2], written by the prophet Jeremiah. Scripture tells that when Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple therein, he was scorned by the people around him. HaShem commanded the prophet Jeremiah to record all of his visions about a desolate Jerusalem in a scroll. After transcribing the prophecies concerning the future of Jerusalem through his student Baruch, Jeremiah's scroll was delivered to the King of Judah, Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim's reaction was to burn the scroll, which foretold the annihilation of Jerusalem[3]. The opening verse of this book rhetorically asks about the destroyed city of Jerusalem, "How does she sit alone?[4]"

The popular name for the Scroll of Lamentations is Eicha, "How", named for the first word of the scroll. Why, in the popular vernacular, is the book referred to as Eicha, if the Talmud refer to the book of Lamentations as Kinos? The Midrash says[5] that the book of Lamentations opens with the word Eicha because the numerical value of that word is thirty-six; the Mishnah teaches[6] that there are thirty-six transgressions, which are punishable with Kares, spiritual excision. Furthermore, the Midrash says that the letters in the word Eicha allude to the uniqueness of HaShem, the Ten Commandments, the twenty generations from Adam until Abraham when the commandment of circumcision was first commanded, and the Five Books of Moses, which the masses denied, resulting in HaShem destroying the Holy Temple and Jerusalem[7]. Similarly, the Talmud teaches[8] that the book of Lamentations starts with the word Eicha and continues in an acrostic-style poem with each stanza beginning with a sequential letter in the Hebrew alphabet because the Jews transgressed every sin from Aleph through Tav. According to these understandings, one can explain that the purpose of retaining the book of Lamentations for generations is to serve as a reminder as to what destructive powers lie in the severity of a sin. The book serves as a means to arouse feelings of repentance for future generations. In order to achieve this effect, one must stress the word Eicha at the beginning of the book. Therefore, the colloquial speech of the masses styles the book Eicha not Megillas Kinos, in order to stress the effects of the word Eicha.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchack of Berditchev (1740-1809) said[9] that after the arrival of the Messiah, the book of Eicha will still be read. Why should the book that laments the destruction of the Holy Temple and Jerusalem be read even during the Messianic Era, when the Temple and city will have already been rebuilt? The Berditchever explains that it will be read with the opposite tone as it is read during the exile. He explains that when asking about Jerusalem "How does she sit alone?", one will not mean to ask in mourning "what sins caused the city of Jerusalem to lie barren", rather one will intend to ask the opposite, "what sins could have possibly caused the city of Jerusalem to lie deserted if it is now so vibrant and jovial." Thus, the Book of Lamentations contains a dual meaning, it not only serves as a book lamenting the unfortunate annihilation of Jerusalem, but it also serves as a source of hope for a time when the destruction of Jerusalem will seem so unfeasible. The former purpose of the book is represented in its name Megillas Kinos, while the latter purpose of the book is reflected in the popular name, Eicha. By calling the book Eicha, not Megillas Kinos, the masses are optimistically waiting for arrival of the Messiah who shall herald the building of the Holy Temple, speedily and in our days: Amen.
[1] Bava Basra 14b
[2] See Jerusalemic Shabbos 16:1
[3] See Jeremiah Chapter 36
[4] Lamentations 1:1
[5] Lamentations Rabbah §1:1
[6] Kerisos 2a
[7] The letters of Eicha are: Aleph, Yud, Chaf, Hey. Aleph equals one and thus alludes to the oneness of HaShem; Yud equals ten, the Decalogue; Chaf equals twenty, the twenty generations; and Hey equals five, the Pentateuch.
[8] Sanhedrin 104b
[9] [I've heard this in his name, but I cannot find the source]

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sitting in the Courtyard

The Talmud maintains a rule in many locations[1] that one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In most points of reference to this law, the Talmud then proceeds to explain that a king of the House of David is allowed to sit in the Temple courtyard. Rabbi Yissachar Ber Eilenberg (1570-1623) writes[2] that in the Jerusalemic Talmud[3] there is an opinion who understood that even a Davidic king is not allowed to sit in the Temple Courtyard. This opinion is stated by Rav Ami the Jerusalemic Talmud in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish. However, the Amudei Yerushalayim asks how Rav Ami can say such a thing in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, if he also said in his name[4] that the law is that one cannot sit in the courtyard except in the place of the kings of David. This second law refers to the fact that there was a throne near the courtyard designated for the Davidic kings, upon which anyone was allowed to sit[5]. The Amudei Yerushalayim answers based on the words of Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Fano (1548-1620)[6] that the prohibition barring one from sitting in the Temple's courtyard is only in the future in the Third Holy Temple, but until then one is permitted to sit in the Courtyard[7]. The Jerusalemic Talmud records an opinion that even if a Davidic King is not allowed to sit in the courtyard, the Kohen Gadol is surely allowed to sit there[8] because the Torah explicitly mentions Eli the Kohen Gadol sat there[9].

Rabbi Yehuda Roseannes (1657-1727) was unsure whether the prohibition that bans sitting in the courtyard is rabbinic or Biblical[10] in its origin. Rabbi Roseannes writes that the prohibition cannot be merely rabbinical in its origin because the Talmud used the existence of this prohibition to prove[11] that the prophet Samuel did not literally sleep in the Temple as a lad. Had the prohibition been merely rabbinic, it is not necessarily true that the rabbis had already decreed this prohibition in the times of Samuel. However, Rabbi Roseannes asks that if the prohibition is indeed biblical in origin, then the Mishnah[12] should have listed that the Temple's courtyard has a higher degree of sanctity as it listed all the other places in ascending order of their holiness. Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829-1907) writes[13] that the prohibition is not biblical because then there is no rationalization for it not to apply to Davidic Kings, nor is it rabbinic because then the Talmud would not have been able to prove that Samuel did not literally sleep in the Holy Temple complex. Rather, he writes that the prohibition is in a quasi-rabbinical, quasi-biblical state, for it was a rabbinical law (Divrei Kabbalah) instituted by Moses in an effort to show honor to the future kings of Israel. Indeed, Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik (1886-1959) wrote[14] that one who sat in the courtyard was considered rebelling against the king and could justifiably be given the death penalty for treason.

Maimonides writes[15] that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is an extension of the biblical commandment of "Fear my Sanctuary"[16]; Rabbi Moshe ben Yoseph of Trani (1505-1585)[17] and Rabbi Yosef Babad (1801-1874)[18] also write that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is an extension of that biblical precept. If the prohibition is biblical, then why did the Mishnah in Tractate Keilim not lost the higher sanctity of the Temple courtyard? Rabbi Yehoshua Yosef HaKohen of Mard, Poland writes[19] that even if the prohibition stems biblically from the commandment about fearing the sanctuary, the root of the prohibition is not the sanctity of the courtyard in the Holy Temple, rather it is the honor of HaShem, which is slighted should one sit in the courtyard[20]. Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen of Dvinsk (1843-1926) writes[21] that according to Maimonides, even a Kohen Gadol is not allowed to sit in the Temple courtyard. He explains that the opinion in the Midrash, which allowed the Kohen Gadol to sit there, did not mean that the Kohen Gadol is not included in the commandment of fearing the sanctuary. Rather, that opinion held that it is a greater honor for Heaven to allow the Kohen Gadol, who wears the Tzitz, to sit in the courtyard rather than to make him stand. These commentaries understand that Maimonides held that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is biblical, however Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575) writes[22] that just as Rashi understood (see below) that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition, so too Maimonides understood that it is a Masoretic tradition[23].

Various passages in Tosafos understand the nature of the prohibition in two different ways. In one location, the Tosafists write[24] that this prohibition is rabbinic, yet in other locations, the Tosafists seem to understand[25] that the prohibition is biblical in origin. The former Tosafos understands that although usually one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard, one is allowed to sit in the courtyard when eating the sacrificial meat of the offerings in the Holy Temple. This passage in Tosafos understands that since the prohibition is only rabbinic, the rabbis never decreed that one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard when eating from the sacrificial meat. However, the latter Tosafos understands that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is biblical and thus Tosafos required hermeneutical extractions to permit the eating of sacrificial meats while sitting in the courtyard. Tosafos explain that eating the sacrificial meats is considered part of the Temple services, and just as other components of the services are theoretically allowed to be done while sitting in the courtyard[26], so too the eating of the sacrificial meats are allowed to be done while sitting in the courtyard[27]. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky points out[28] that a third view is espoused by another Tosafos: Piskei HaTosfos writes[29] that one is not allowed to eat the sacrificial meats while sitting in the courtyard. Accordingly, this Piskei HaTosfos understands that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is not only biblical, but it is so strong that there is never justification for sitting in the courtyard—even when eating from the sacrificial meats. Indeed, Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi ben Aryeh Leib Jolles writes[30] that the discussion of whether or not one can sit down in the Temple courtyard to partake in the sacrificial meats is dependent on whether that prohibition to sit there under normal circumstances is rabbinical or biblical.

Rashi[31] writes that the law barring one from sitting in the Temple courtyard is based on a Masoretic tradition passed down orally from generation to generation, originally given to Moses at Mount Sinai. Rabbi Elazar Landau explains[32] that although the wording of the Masoretic rule was quoted as "There is not sitting in the Courtyard except for Judean kings" in Sanhedrin 101b, that was the exact wording of the tradition until King David was chosen. After the anointment of King David, the practical application of the rule changed to the more commonly quoted "There is not sitting in the Courtyard except for kings of the House of David". Rabbi Yair Chaim Bachrach (1639-1702) lists[33] the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard in his enumeration of purely Masoretic laws. Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Chajes (1805-1855) asks[34] that if this law is purely based on a Sinaitic tradition, how can there be any arguments regarding the application of the law, everyone has to agree to it. Elsewhere, however, Rabbi Chajes writes[35] that a Masoretic law is not necessarily a law that is totally agreed upon by all, rather it is a law that its basic premise is agreed upon, but its minute details in practical applications can be disputed. Therefore, even though whether or not this prohibition applies to a Davidic King or a Kohen Gadol remains disputable, one can still consider the prohibition against a commoner, which is universally agreed upon, a Masoretic tradition. However, Rashi also writes[36] that there is a Scriptural source for the prohibition against sitting in the Temple courtyard, that is, the verse that says, "To stand and to serve"[37] concerning the services of the Holy Temple. Accordingly, Rashi does not seem to understand that the source is purely Masoretic; he learns that there is even a scriptural imperative.

Rabbi Aryeh Leib Malin (1906-1962) offers[38] a radical explanation behind the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard. He explains that there is a general prohibition of needlessly entering the courtyard of the Holy Temple, but when one enters the courtyard and stands there, then such a person is fulfilling the commandment of "To stand and to serve" because merely standing in the Temple courtyard is considered a ritual service. However, if one does not stand in the Temple courtyard, rather he sits, then his entering the Temple's courtyard was pointless and he is transgressing the prohibition of entering the courtyard in vain. Rabbi Leib Malin explains that kings of the Davidic dynasty have a special commandment to be inside the courtyard—regardless of whether they are standing or sitting[39]—so their entrance into the courtyard can never be considered in vain, even if they sit there. . With this explanation, one can answer the question of Rabbi Eilenberg who asked[40] according to Rashi that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition, why does Rashi also need a scriptural source. This is because Reb Leib explains the seeming contradiction in Rashi who wrote in one place that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition, yet in another place sourced the prohibition in the verse of "To stand and to serve"; the Masoretic tradition forbids entering the courtyard unnecessarily, while the verse justifies entering the courtyard to stand. Accordingly, Rabbi Malin explains that when Tosafos wrote[41] that the Kohen Gadol is allowed to sleep in the Holy Temple during the seven-day period before Yom Kippur, Tosafos is saying that just as a Davidic King has a commandment to remain inside the Holy Temple, so too the Kohen Gadol in the week preceding Yom Kippur has such a commandment. Nonetheless, Rabbi Malin does not account for the explanation of Rashi[42] who wrote that the one cannot sit in the courtyard is simply because doing so is not honoring Heaven[43].

Rabbi Shneur Kotler (1918-1982) writes[44] that every time that one is in a situation that is considered "in front of HaShem" then one is not allowed to sit. The Talmud writes[45] that the source that Davidic Kings are allowed to site in the courtyard is that the Torah says, "King David came and he sat in front of HaShem"[46]. In the time of King David, a Holy Temple did not yet exist, yet the Talmud still understood that the prohibition of sitting in the Temple courtyard still applied. How then could such a prohibition apply, if the courtyard did not yet exist? Rather, the Talmud must have understood that the prohibition does not specifically prohibit sitting the courtyard of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, rather the prohibition includes sitting in any situation where one is "in front of HaShem". Therefore, the fact that King David sat in the Tabernacle shows that all Davidic kings are allowed to sit "in front of HaShem" including in the courtyard of the Holy Temple. Rabbi Kotler writes that according to this explanation, even if the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard were biblical, the Mishnah in Tractate Keilim would not have listed this as another level of sanctity. This is because the prohibition associated with the sanctity of the courtyard is not dependent on the actual sanctity of the geographical location of the courtyard; rather, it is because the courtyard is considered "in front of HaShem." According to Rabbi Kotler, one can explain that when Moses said to the Israelites "You are all standing in front of HaShem, you G-d[47]" that Israelites had to stand because they were "in front of HaShem". Rabbi Yeshayah of Trani (1180-1250)[48] writes that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is only in the airspace of the actual courtyard, for only then is one "in front of HaShem", so he understood that the prohibition is not bound by geographical locations, rather it is dependant on whether or not one's location is "in front of HaShem".

According to the opinion cited earlier from the Midrash Shocher Tov, who learned that even Davidic Kings could not sit in the courtyard, how then did King David sit there? One can answer that there was not yet any prohibition of sitting in the courtyard because the Holy Temple was not yet built in King David's days. Alternatively, the Midrash says[49] that King David did not literally, "sit in front of HaShem" rather he "sat in prayer", meaning "engaged in prayer 'in front of HaShem'" but did not actually sit. Additionally, the Rav Chisda answers[50] that King David sat in the Women's Courtyard, not in The Courtyard of the Holy Temple. In describing the ceremony of HaQhell, the Mishnah says[51] that King Agrippa sat while reading from the biblically prescribed passages[52]. The Talmud asks[53] how the king could have sat if sitting in the courtyard is forbidden. Furthermore, even if Davidic Kings were allowed to sit in the courtyard, King Agrippa was Herodian, not Davidic, so he should not have been allowed to sit. The Talmud answers that just as Rav Chisda explained that King David did not sit in The Courtyard of the Holy Temple, rather he sat in the Women's Courtyard, so too King Agrippa did not read the ceremonial passages of the HaQhell ritual in The Courtyard, rather he read it in the Women's Courtyard, as well.

[1] Yoma 25a, Yoma 69b, Sotah 40b, Sotah 41b, Kiddushin 78b, Sanhedrin 101b, and Tamid 27b
[2] Be'er Sheva (a Tosafos-like commentary) to Tamid 27a
[3] Yoma 3:2, Pesachim 5:10, and Sotah 7:7
[4] Midrash Shocher Tov (to Psalms) §1
[5] See Mahari Katz to Midrash Shocher Tov §1
[6] Rema mi'Panu, Asara Ma'amaros, Ma'amar Im Kol Chai part 3, §10, see also Yad Yehuda ad loc.
[7] He also writes there that King Rechavam, the son of King Solomon, was supposed to be the Messiah with Jeroboam being his viceroy, but since the latter had higher aspirations, he splintered off from the Kingdom of Judah and started the Kingdom of Israel with Ten Tribes, styling himself King Jeroboam of Israel.
[8] The Midrash says (Midrash Shocher Tov to Psalms 110:1) that HaShem told Abraham, "Sit to my right." How could Abraham have sat in front of HaShem? One can answer that Abraham was a Kohen Gadol as the Midrash says elsewhere (Yalkut Shimoni to Psalms, §869). Rabbi Avraham Abele HaLevi Gombiner (1633-1683) proved (Zayis Ra'anan) that Abraham had the status of a Kohen Gadol. He explains that the Halacha is that an Onan, one whose close relative died on that die, cannot perform the services in the Holy Temple. Therefore, had Abraham slaughtered his son Issac, he would not have been able to offer his son as a sacrifice because Abraham would have had this status of a mourner for his dead son and would be barred from offering sacrifices on the altar. However, if one explains that Abraham had the status of a Kohen Gadol, who is supposed to perform the Temple services even as an Onan, then one could explain how Abraham was Halachikly supposed to offer his son Issac as a sacrifice.
[9] Samuel 1 1:9
[10] See Mishnah L'Melech to Maimonides' Laws of Beis HaBechirah 7:6
[11] Kiddushin 78b
[12] Tractate Keilim, Chapter 1
[13] Aruch HaShulchan HeUsid, Kodshim, §14:14
[14] Chiddushei HaGriz Al HaTorah (stencil) §165
[15] Sefer HaMitzvos #21
[16] Leviticus 26:2
[17] Kiryas Sefer to Maimonides' Laws of Chagigah, Chapter 3 and Laws of Beis HaBechirah, Chapter 7
[18] Minchas Chinuch #244
[19] Ezras Kohanim on tractate Middos
[20] Perhaps then, one can explain that when Elisha ben Avuyah saw Metatron sitting in Heaven and recording the deeds of Israelites, he saw that the archangel was dishonoring HaShem by sitting in front of Him (Chagigah 15a). Perhaps this is what led Acher to apostasy.
[21] Ohr Somayach to Maimonides' Laws of Kings 2:4
[22] Kesef Mishneh to Maimonides' Laws of Sanhedrin 14:12
[23] The reason why Rashi (see below) understands that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition is that the Talmud (Sanhedrin 101b) says Gemiri before introducing the law that one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard. Rashi understands that the term Gemiri refers to a Sinaitic law. Rabbi Yosef Karo here is assuming that Maimonides follows the same understanding, however Rabbi Yisrael Lipschutz of Danzig (1782-1860) proves (Tiferes Yisroel to Yoma 2:2) that Maimonides does not understand that Gemiri means a Sinaitic law.
[24] To Zevachim 16a
[25] See Tosafos to Yoma 25a
[26] Although, usually this rule would never be applicable because most Temple services are required to be done while standing
[27] Although Tosafos only proves that eating is considered a ritual service of the Holy Temple, but does not prove that eating while sitting is, once Tosafos has proved that one is allowed to eat in the courtyard, then certainly one must be allowed to sit while eating, for eating while standing is considered a dangerous act (see Maimonides, Laws of Mental States 4:3). Alternatively, Tosafos explain that it is the way of kings to eat while sitting, so presumably only eating while seated show proper honor to HaShem while partaking from His banquet meat.
[28] Siach HaSadeh to Yoma 25a
[29] To Sotah §10
[30] Melo HaRoim, Kllalei HaShas, Ein Yeshiva B'Azara
[31] To Sanhedrin 101b
[32] Hagahos Rebbi Elazar Landau to Yoma 25a
[33] See Chavos Yair §192, Law 32
[34] Maharitz Chayes to Yoma 25a
[35] Maharitz Chajes to Bava Kamma 17b
[36] To Yoma 25a and Yoma 69b
[37] Deuteronomy 18:5
[38] Chiddushei Reb Aryeh Leib, Volume 1, §19
[39] Maimonides writes (Laws of Kings 2:4) that if a king enters the courtyard and he is of the progeny of David, he should sit. Maimonides does not say, "He is allowed to sit" rather he says, "He should sit." This implies that there is a specific commandment or purpose in a Davidic king sitting in the Temple courtyard.
[40] Be'er Sheva to Sanhedrin 101b
[41] To Yoma 8b
[42] To Sotah 40b
[43] Furthermore, according to Rabbi Leib Malin, it is difficult to explain why Rashi (to Yoma 5a) writes regarding the Kohen Gadol sleeping in the Holy Temple that the real prohibition is sitting in the courtyard, but one can logically conclude that it applies to sleeping, as well. According to Rabbi Leib Malin, the latter is not a logical assumption based on the first prohibition; rather, it is the same prohibition of needlessly entering the Temple's courtyard as applies by sitting in the courtyard. (Tosafos to Yoma 8b and Chiddushei HaRitva to Yoma 11a also mention this logical sequence.)
[44] To Maimonides, Laws of Kings §11 (Printed in Kovetz Oraysa by Yeshivas Derech Chaim in memory of Avinoam Grossman, Teves 5767)
[45] Sotah 41b
[46] Samuel 2 7:18
[47] Deuteronomy 29:9
[48] Tosafos HaRid to Yoma 6a
[49] Yalkut Shimoni to Samuel §78
[50] Sotah 41b
[51] Sotah 41a
[52] See Deuteronomy 31:10-13
[53] Sotah 41b

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Completing a Mitzvah

The Midrash maintains[1] that the fulfillment of a commandment is only attributed to the one who completed the fulfillment of the commandment. This means that if one starts to perform a commandment, but does not finish it and someone else actually finishes the performance of a commandment started by someone else, the latter is accredited with the accomplishment of the commandment. Rabbi Leib Lipschutz, the first father-in-law of the Shinover Rebbe, Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam, (1813–1899) asks[2] whether or not this rule applies even if the first person was unable to complete the fulfillment of the commandment. He asks whether the rule that a commandment is only ascribed to the one who completes it is even if the one who started it caused those circumstances that caused him not to be able to finish carrying out the mitzvah, or does it apply only if he was unable to finish it because of circumstances beyond his control. The Talmud says[3] that one who intends to perform a mitzvah, but is forced beyond his control not to carry it out, is considered as if he performed the commandment. Rabbi Lipschutz asks in this case is the one who completes the commandment given all the credit.

The Talmud[4] contrasts two Scriptural verses concerning the bones of Joseph. In one instance, the Talmud notes that the Torah says, "Moses took the Bones of Joseph with him"[5], yet in another context, the Torah refers to the "Bones of Joseph that the Israelites brought up [from Egypt]"[6]. There is a seeming contradiction in the Torah whether Moses took the bones of Josef or the Israelites took his bones. Rabbi Chama bar Chanina answers that actually, Moses initially took Joseph's bones and intended to bring it to the land of Canaan, however, when he was unable to enter the land of Canaan, the other Israelites finished his mission. He explains that the transportation of the Bones of Joseph is ascribed to the Israelites, even though Moses started it because when one starts to fulfill a commandment and does not finish it and someone else finishes it, the fulfillment of the commandment is attributed to the latter party. However, another Midrash questions[7] why the Psalmist writes "A song to David [concerning] the dedication of the Holy Temple" if King David did not build the Holy Temple, King Solomon, his son did. The Midrash explains that since King David intended to build the Holy Temple, even though in the end he did not, he is considered as having built it. This is because King David actually started the construction of the Holy Temple by digging its foundation[8]. Why does the Midrash ascribe the completion of a Mitzvah to the one who finished it (the Israelites, not Moses, in transporting the Bones of Joseph), yet in another instance the Midrash ascribed the completion of a Mitzvah to the one who started it, not he who finished it (King David, King Solomon, in building the Holy Temple)? Some answer[9] that Moses caused his situation in which he would not be allowed to enter the land of Israel to finish his mission by hitting the rock. While the circumstances, which caused King David not to be able to complete construction of the Holy Temple, were completely beyond the control of King David because the prophet simply came to him and told him HaShem said he is not to build the Holy Temple. Based on this one can answer that if one was forcibly stopped from performing his commandment by conditions which were beyond his control, he can still be considered the performer of the commandment when it is completed, just as King David is considered to have built the Holy Temple. However, if one put himself into a position where he was forcibly not able to complete a commandment, then the achievement of the commandment is credited to the one who finished, just as Moses is not considered to have brought the Bones of Joseph to Israel.

However, Rabbi Lipschutz writes, upon further examination, one will realize that Moses could not bring the Bones of Joseph into the land of Israel for the same exact reason that King David could not build the Holy Temple. The Midrash explains[10] that HaShem did not allowed King David to build the Holy Temple because had King David had built it would never have been able to have been destroyed. Therefore, had King David built it then when the Jews would later sin, HaShem would not be able to pour out His fury by destroying the Holy Temple of sticks and stones, and rather He would have had to destroy His people themselves, heaven forbid. The Psalmist writes, "A song to Asaf: G-d, gentiles have entered into You inheritance, they profaned Your Holy Sanctuary, and they have transformed Jerusalem into heaps of rubble.[11]" Rashi quotes[12] that the Midrash asks[13], why this is called a "Song to Asaf" instead of a kinah, a lamentation, to Asaf. Rashi answers that Asaf was singing about the fact that HaShem unleashed his fury upon wood and rocks instead of on the people of Israel, for had HaShem done the latter, no one would have survived, heaven forbid. Therefore, HaShem decreed that King David would not build the temple, so that it would later be able to be destroyed, as a service to the Jewish nation.

The same is true concerning Moses. Moses was not allowed to enter the Land of Israel because had he led the Jewish people into Israel, he himself would have been the Messiah, and the Holy Temple would have been built by him and such a Temple would not have been able to be destroyed. Therefore, had Moses led the Jews into Israel, they would have been destroyed, but now that he did not lead them there, the Holy Temple was destroyed in their stead. Moses describes his begging HaShem be allowed into the Land of Canaan: "I implored HaShem at that time saying 'HaShem, the G-d, You have began to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand…Allow me to cross and see the good land, which is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Lebanon.[14]" HaShem reacted angrily and said, "It is too much for you, do not continue to speak to Me more about this thing"[15]. The Midrash explains[16] that "at that time" refers to the time of the conquest of Sichon and Og, when HaShem had seemingly profaned/violated His vow. The Midrash then "Your greatness" refers to the Manna and "Your strong hand" refers to the wars against Sichon and Og. What does the Manna and the wars with Sichon and Og have to do with Moses entering the land of Israel and HaShem violating a vow? Rabbi Lipschutz explains the meaning of this Midrash. The Talmud says[17] that rain can fall in the merit of an individual, but large-scale sustenance can only occur in the merit of the population. The Talmud then asked how then did the Manna fall in the merit of Moses, if large-scale sustenance can only come in the merit of the masses. The Talmud answered that the merits of Moses were considered as great as the merits of the entire population. Moses saw HaShem allowed him to fight Sichon and overtake the Moabite territories, even though HaShem earlier told Moses[18] not to fight Moab.

From here Moses saw that the only reason that he was allowed to overtake the Moabites was because HaShem looked at him as a representation of the masses, and thus since only an unfavorable heavenly decree on the masses can be overturned, but not on an individual[19]. The unfavorable decree against Moses, which barred him from fighting for the Moabite territories had been overturned, and was able to have been overturned because Moses was considered like the masses. Accordingly, Moses saw from the battle against Sichon and the fact that the Manna fell in his merit that he was considered like a population on his own, and thus unfavorable decrees against him could be overturned. Because of this, Moses decided to pray to HaShem to overturn the decree, which barred him from entering the land of Israel, as well. In requesting to led the nation into the land of Israel, Moses asked to see the "good mountain" which is a reference to Mount Mariah, upon which the Holy Temple has stood[20], and the Lebanon, a reference to the fact that the Holy Temple was built of Lebanon wood (from the area surrounding Tyre in the modern-day country of Lebanon).

However, HaShem did not acquiesce to Moses' prayers. This is because had Moses succeeded in his request, led the Jewish people in Israel, and built the Holy Temple, such a Holy Temple built by Moses would not have been able to be destroyed. Therefore, instead of unleashing His wrath upon a building of wood and stones, HaShem would have had to destroy the Jewish nation themselves when they would later sin. Consequently, HaShem responded to Moses' request by saying "You have enough", meaning that it is enough that Moses will lead the Jewish people in the time of the Third Holy Temple, after the Resurrection of the Dead, so he will not have to lead the Jewish people into Israel in the generation after the exodus. Accordingly, the reason why Moses could not lead the Jewish nation into Israel and bring there Joseph's bones is the same reason why King David did could not build the Holy Temple. Why then is the transportation of Joseph's bones not ascribed to Moses, yet the building of the Holy Temple is attributed to King David? Rabbi Lipschutz answers that King David was accredited with the building of the Holy Temple because the Talmud says[21] that when King Solomon wanted to bring the Holy Ark into the newly constructed Holy Temple, the gates to the Temple were closed shut. The doors did not open, even after King Solomon offered twenty-four prayer until King Solomon mentioned the merits of his father, King David[22]. Therefore, one can understand that the inauguration of the Holy Temple is attributed to King David, even though he only began the construction, but did not complete it, because it was in the merit of the King David that the services in the Holy Temple were allowed to commence. Nevertheless, usually, one who starts to perform a Mitzvah but could not complete is not credited with the finalization of the Mitzvah, just as Moses is not credited in the end with carrying the Bones of Joseph to the land of Israel.
[1] Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Eikev §6
[2] See Ateres Zekanim §5 printed the Shinover Rebbe in 1895 (printed in the back of the book Ayalah Shelucha by the son of the Shinover Rebbe, Rabbi Naphtali Halberstam).
[3] Brachos 6a
[4] Sotah 13b
[5] Exodus 13:19
[6] Joshua 24:32
[7] Yalkut Shimoni to Samuel §46
[8] Sukkah 53a
[9] Responsa Shuv Yaakov, Even HaEzer §13
[10] Yalkut Shimoni to Samuel §46
[11] Psalms 79:1
Interestingly, Rabbi Moshe Alshich (1508-1593) explains (Alshich to Psalms 79:1) the seeming threefold repetition in the wording of the beginning of this Psalm. He explains that "gentiles have entered into Your inheritance" refers to the destruction of the First Holy Temple, when the gentile-army led by Nebuchadnezzar's general, Nevuzardan, merely entered the Holy Temple, but did not destroy. Rather, the moment they entered the Temple with intention to destroy it, the Heavenly Angels descended and set fire to the Temple themselves because the Temple was too holy to have been destroyed by gentiles. "They profaned Your Holy Sanctuary" refers to the fact that the Syrian-Greeks entered the Second Holy Temple and defiled it by erecting statues and committing sins inside, but they did not destroy it. "They have transformed Jerusalem into heaps of rubble" refers to the Romans who, led by general Titus, the son of the Emperor Vespasian, set the entire city of Jerusalem ablaze and plowed over the Temple Mount.
[12] To Kiddushin 31b
[13] Midrash Shocher Tov to Psalms 79:1
[14] Deuteronomy 3:23-25
[15] Deuteronomy 3:26
[16] Sifri to Deuteronomy 3:23-26
[17] Taanis 9a
[18] Deuteronomy 2:9
[19] Rosh HaShannah 18a
[20] See Pesachim 81a which says that Abraham called the Temple Mount a "mountain." See also Genesis 22:14 where Abraham calls Jerusalem "a mountain".
[21] Shabbos 30a
[22] See Chronicles 2 6:42.
Interestingly, the Stropkover Rebbe, Rabbi Avraham Shalom Halberstam, a descendant of the Shinover Rebbe, quoted (in a speech in Los Angeles on Saturday Night, 7 Shevat, 5767) a similar Midrash (Exodus Rabbah §8) that says that when King Solomon inaugurated the First Holy Temple, he met some difficulty squeezing the Holy Ark, which was ten cubits wide into the Holy of Holies, whose entrance was also exactly ten cubits wide. In order to remedy the situation, King Solomon called upon the merit of his father, King David, so that HaShem should perform a miracle and save him from great embarrassment. He brought the coffin of his deceased father into the Holy Temple, whereupon his father, King David, arose from the dead (although, see the parallel to this Midrash at Yalkut Shimoni, Prophets, §193 which does not mention this detail). Based on this Midrash, Rabbi Halberstam reasoned that the decree that all humans are destined to die is specifically if one is alive, then he is supposed to die, but if one already died and has been resurrected, there is no decree that he should ever die again. Therefore, he explained that after King David arose from the dead, he was alive and furthermore, he shall continue to live because the limits of human mortality do not apply to one who already experienced death and returned from the dead. This explains the interpretive anomaly in the contrast between Jacob and King David, for regarding Jacob's state of living, the Talmud simply says (Taanis 5b, See Rashi to Genesis 49:33 who proves this based on the connotation of a scriptural verse), "Jacob, our father, did not die." In contrast, a popular refrain declared by the Jewish Nation for many generations, as a source of inspiration through many trying times, states, "Dovid Melech Yisrael Chai V'Kayam, meaning, "David, king of Israel, is alive and enduring." (This phrase is not only found in popular songs, but is a liturgical part of many joyous occasions (such as Kiddush Levana and its grouping with the phrase Mazel Tov).) Jacob simply did not die, but King David not only remains alive, but continues to live and will never die. May it be the will of HaShem that the scion of the Davidic dynasty shall save the Jewish Nation and bring about the building and inauguration of the Holy Temple, speedily and in our days: Amen.

הבל הבלים #קכ"ו

הבל הבלים #קכ"ו*

Since this is ה"ה issue #126, I posted 126 links in 3 categories: Torah, Israel and Reid. (Don't count them; it's not worth your time).

The MUST Gum addict decides that it MUST be that the Torah is his charm. It is the element which helps him achieve the unachievable even in the professional world.

The other Reb Chaim (not me) calculated the price of the First Holy Temple, while I discussed the building of the Third Holy Temple. This blogger discusses some of the miracles from the

Reb Gavriel has an interesting post about adding to Shabbos and Shmittah. Speaking of Shmittah, Micha brings an interesting Chazon Ish who said that the bracha given to those who keep Shmittah applies even to Shemittah MiDrabbonon.

JoeSettler writes a very special piece entitled "Feeling Jewish" about how Jewish holidays just don't give off the aura that they are supposed to--that is, until the tragic events of September 11th. From then on, one can always remind oneself of a great tragedy that happened within our own lifetimes and use that reminder as a catalyst to feel the great tragedies of the past, such as the destruction of the Holy Beis HaMikdash. This was also posted @ the Muqata.

This is a very interesting linking the mitzvah of Kibud Av to the Geulah. I'm still wondering why this blog is called Havolim if it is all Torah, which is the opposite of הבל. Anyways, here is a very touching essay about one father's attempt to teach his son about Tisha B'Av, which ended up with the son inspiring his father. Here is an interesting way to teach kids the true meaning of Tisha B'Av. Jack offers some self-reflection for the Nine Days.

Daf notes discusses a gemara that says a Mamzer will die within ten generations with an amazing vort from the Vilna Gaon.

This blogger writes about the power of Malchus, kingship, and I myself wrote a post about how Moses, Joshua, and Samuel were all kings.

Since philosophy is a very subjective matter with some many varying opinions on it, a final psak is impossible. Bottom line: There's always another valid opinion.

Shimshi quotes from a passage from a book written by Herman Wouk in which the famed author describes his experience learning Gemara (even more interestingly, it was daf yomi) with physicist Richard Feynman (see here for another interview with a Jewish author, but beware of the untznius picture of her and here's an interview with the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l).

Avakesh details three views on the Kabbalistical concept of Tsimtsum.

In discussion the divinely-ordained war against the Midianites, this radical blogger has written a post entitled "Unholy War."This was my comment that never passed the moderation: You said: "Serious students of Torah cannot fail to notice, for instance, that a very different portrayal of Midian is offered in the book of Exodus, where Moses finds refuge in Midian, marries a Midianite woman and seeks serious counsel from his father-in-law Jethro, the Midanite High Priest." The Midianites were always treacherous peoples, your proof offered from Jethro proves nothing about the Midianites. The Midrash says (Exodus Rabbah 1:32) that Jethro was ostracized from the mainstream Midianite community, so he and his family lived alone. Furthermore, even in that passage in Exodus, the Torah discusses the Midianite shepherds who were harassing the daughters of Jethro. Don’t try to argue that the Midianites were undeserving of the decree which G-d put upon them. How dare you call a war commanded by G-d Himself an “Unholy War”, on the contrary, you should have titled this post “Holy War!”?

Rabbi Lazy Brody discusses marrying one's cousin or niece.

Heichal HaNeginah presents the story of the Bobover Rebbe zt"l.

So it turns out that the famous story of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit"a outcomputing a computer is false.

The artist formerly known as the Godol HaDor, has been busying himself attempting to formulate a new type of theology. Of course, it failed.

Interestingly, a Jerusalem-based conservative think tank, which probably itself does not condone feminism, is considering using feminism as a way of breaking the unity amongst Muslims in a new front on the war against terrorism. Similarly, Jewish activists want to start using the term "Jewish refugees" from Muslim countries just as the Arabs use the term "Palistinian Refugees" from Israel. It has begun.

One philosophy says that the proper way to fight terrorism is not to fight their tactics, rather to fight their ideology, what is driving these people to commit acts of terror.

Robert Avrech warns Israel to watch the skies--especially the skies of Persia--for her enemies are numerous and waiting to strike from all sides. This warning should be especially heeded during the month of Av (see these posts about the conflicting themes on Rosh Chodesh Menachem-Av). But Israel doesn't seem to get it! Especially the recently coronated President Shimon Peres. But President Bush doesn't seem to get it either. We should just impeach the guy.

This Zionist compares the Israeli educational television programs for children, to the Palestinian educational television programs for kids.

Israel Zwick has posted information about a video on Islamic violence about the "religion of peace".

An organization in Israel has written a kinah describing the destruction of Gush Katiff. Batya compares the small Israel left after a complete disengagement to a ghetto.

Although this post about the ratio of terrorist Muslims to non-terrorist Moslems was actually submitted, after being introduced to this blog (which is by the way the purpose of ה"ה to introduce people to blogs that may otherwise have been seen), I decided to link to this post, about the truth behind Christian Zionism, as well. He also talks about a Jewish theocracy as does the Rabbi without a cause.

The noble Irina has posted a touching article about humanizing the kidnapped Israeli soldiers who, after a year, are still not yet freed (warning, untznius photos). Another blogger writes about how Israel needs Hamas. Don't worry, NPR botched up their interview with Condi Rice.

There were some interesting archaeological findings in Israel recently.

Pig and Potter are illegal in Israel (or at least on Shabbos and in Netanya, respectively)! Ben-Yehuda has put in his ten agurot buying/reading Harry Potter during the Nine Days. Interestingly, my friend told me that a prominent posek in America has ruled that even according to those opinions who permit reading a book such as Harry Potter ("Chaim Pottervitch"), it is absolutely forbidden to purchase or read this seventh book during the Nine Days. Ben-Yehuda ends of hoping to land a job as an actor for the 2010 Harry Potter movie even though he can't work on Shabbos and Yuntiff, but then again maybe he will get hired and then fired (as a side note, I will actually be flying this week to New York via JetBlue). Yeshiva World reports that in Israel, it will actually be illegal to sell the book on Shabbos, and they will enforce it.

This Arcadi guy seems bent on creating a personality cult--especially amongst Hareidi Jews in Israel. Speaking of Chareidi Jews, they aren't as bad as people make them out to be. Really.

This blogger writes about the "Goldene Medinah" and how people would rather live in the Diaspora than in the Holy Land. And yet the self-hating Israeli government is cutting funding to Nefesh B'Nefesh because they mainly recruit religious Jews for Aliyah.

In two varieties of religious fanatics, Reb Yudel talks about a man who went from Ivy league grad to ba'al teshuvah to Messianic Christian.

Rabbi Yehuda Henkin points out some silly mistakes made by the Encyclopedia Judaica concerning their entry in his grandfather, Rabbi Eliyahu Henkin. On the same blog, an interesting phenomenon in the frum world is discussed: people printing seforim to give out at weddings.

In an effort to remind us of the upcoming Geulah, this blogger has posted a description of Pesach in Lithuania, behind the iron curtain.

The BBC had decided to agree with anti-semitic propaganda that Bava Metzia is some law that allows Jews to lie to gentiles. In reality, however, Bava Metzia is the name of a tractate of the Talmud and means "Middle Gate", as one can clearly learn from the all-knowing Wikipedia. Incidentally, I also learned from the wiki that the Director of Audio and Music for the BBC is a granddaughter of Rav Chatzkel Abramsky. Oh yeah, and let's also repeat the lie that Zionism is racism.

In describing the significance of this post, mominisreal writes: "Many women have made the commitment to stay in difficult marriages. This blog was started so that they can find and support each other. Please help by posting a link on your own blog. Thanks, Mom in Israel."Here is a post about lucid dreaming, very appropriate for the Nine Days because King David writes (Psalms 126:1) that after the Ultimate Redemption, the exile will seem like a mere dream (he wrote another about Shabbos). I guess this golus is a very realistic dream. (The same blogger wrote this post, but I couldn't understand what he was saying in it.)World Zionist leaders have finally admitted what Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht and Rabbi Michel Ber Weissmandel have been telling us for years about the Holocaust.

While some of us are mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, others are bemoaning the destruction of a maon (pun intended) in the settlements.

The Argentinian Jewish community has asked their government to cut ties with Iran.

AidelMaidel, who has been going through so much over the past few years, is going through more. May HaShem speedily heal her husband. Remember, the power of davening for others can cause one's own prayers to be answered.

This blog offers some resources for those planning a bar/bat mitzvah.

Zchus Avos writes about the genealogy of Rabbi Lazer Brody, based on this post. This blogger also discusses Rav Lazer's post.

In an effort to stop U.S. jails from brewing extremist Muslims, the federal government had decided that only 150 pre-approved books for each religion will stock in prison libraries. Missing amongst the Jewish books include the Zohar and the Rambam. Some inmates have already filed suit.

Should one hide mental ilness for the puposes of Shidduchim? Speaking of Shidduchim, YeshivaWorld has a story about marrying a Ba'al Teshuva. Speaking of marriage, he's a post on planned parenthood.

Rivkah is davening, nay, pleading, that HaShem answers her prayers.

This post is so funny because it is actually an accurate description of my own mother. Does counting sheep really help one fall asleep???

DixieJew discusses the pros and cons of anonymous blogging. The celebrated Jewish copyright lawyer, Ronald Coleman, has legalistically figured out a way to stop anonymous blogging and this is by getting the SEC involved, because it is a potential risk that anonymous bloggers can reveal insider information about companies.

The sister carnivals to ה"ה has posted the newest edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival #20 and the newest edition (untznius pictures) of J Pix #12. I don't know who the next host of ה"ה will be, but you can find more information here.

*=As I wrote in my previous ה"ה post, due to controversy regarding the proper transliteration of this phrase, the author has chosen to leave it in its pure Hebrew form as intended by King Solomon in his famous work “Ecclesiastes” included in the recent compendium known as “Tanakh”.

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