Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dan's Blessing and 70 Years

Bemidbar Rabba 14:21:

ד"א למה שבעים כנגד שבעים אותיות האמורות בברכת דן מן דן ידין עמו וגו' עד ויפול רוכבו אחור על שפיטת שמשון לפי  שפסוק אחרון לישועתך וגו' לא אמרו יעקב אלא על שמשון...
Another explanation on why [did Ahiezer Ben Amishadai use a silver basin weighing] 70 [shekels]: It corresponds to the 70 letters that are said in the blessing of [Yaakov Avinu to] Dan from דן ידין עמו until ויפל רכבו אחור regarding the rulership of Shimshon - because the final verse לישועתך... Yaakov only said about Shimshon [Etz Yosef: it was a prayer - as opposed to a prophecy - about Shimshon].
If we say that the 70 letters correspond to the 70 years that began in the year 5700 (as Rav Fish has done often in other circumstances, such as the 70 words of Psalm 20, followed by ובא לציון גואל), we can construct it like this.  Note that in my table below, we are starting from 5700 and not 5701 as it seems to fit better.  I can also fit starting from 5701, but not as well.

The words לישועתך קויתי ה' are referring to Mashiah (See the Nusah Aheir in Targum Yonatan. Also see the Midrash quoted in this post).

LetterYearComment
ד5700
ן5701
י5702
ד5703
י5704
ן5705Until here was unspeakable דין
ע5706
מ5707
ו5708Here, we became a nation with a land
כ5709
א5710
ח5711
ד5712
ש5713
ב5714
ט5715
י5716
י5717
ש5718
ר5719
א5720
ל5721
י5722
ה5723
י5724
ד5725
ן5726Last year of Dinim on Yerushalayim
נ5727We start being a snake to kill the nations who go against us (see Rashbam)
ח5728
ש5729
ע5730
ל5731
י5732
ד5733
ר5734
ך5735
ש5736
פ5737
י5738
פ5739
ן5740
ע5741
ל5742
י5743
א5744
ר5745
ח5746
ה5747
נ5748
ש5749
ך5750
ע5751
ק5752
ב5753
י5754
ס5755
ו5756
ס5757
ו5758
י5759
פ5760
ל5761
ר5762
כ5763
ב5764
ו5765
א5766
ח5767
ו5768
ר5769Last war (Cast Lead) and the end of the 70 years
ל5770Here begins the period of hoping for Mashiah
י5771
ש5772
ו5773
ע5774
ת5775
ך5776

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Agalot

Updated

Here's a picture of the Agalot from Parshat Naso (Bemidbar 7:3-8):



Taken from here which took it from the Warsaw 5622 edition of the Ra"n on Perek Hazorek (Shabbat 98a).

Update 5/31/12: I added the link to the Ra"n above.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mesechet Shevu'ot and Shavu'ot

Translation of a cute thing I read on last week's Kol Emunim newsletter (bottom of p. 4) by Rav Yosef Hakohen Chesir, Montreal.

There is a holy custom in Israel to learn Mesechet Shavu'ot during Sefirat Ha'omer as it contains 49 pages, corresponding to the 49 days of the Omer.  And I thought that at first glance, it would have been more fit for it to have 7 chapters in the tractate and not the 8 that it has.  I realize that this is not a strong question, but it's still a question.  A stronger question is that the entire tractate talks about unforced oaths one makes and oaths one must make for testifying, whose source is in the book of Vayikra, whereas the oaths of watchmen are relegated to the very end of tractate even though their source is in the book of Shemot.

With Hashem's help, an amazing thing fell into my thoughts.  It is known what Rashi brings down from Rav Saadia Gaon that all 613 Mitzvot are hinted to in the 10 Commandments.  And it's also known that the 10 Commandments contains 620 letters - the gematria of כתר - corresponding to the 613 Mitzvot plus the 7 Rabbinic laws.  Then, I thought that the 8th chapter of Shavu'ot does not correspond to the days of the Omer, but rather to the accepting of the Torah, and there needs to be 620 words corresponding to the letters of the 10 Commandments.

So, I sat and counted and found that the Mishna contains 364 words - just as every tractate begins on page 2 because the א is hidden, so too the first word of the Mishna is hidden - so really there are 365 words.  And in the gemara - without the headings of the Mishna - there are exactly 255 words.  It comes out that the Mishna contains the same number of words as the amount of negative commandments - 365 - as Rashi writes on the verse ושמרתם ועשיתם: Ushmartem refers to the Mishna.  And the gemara contains the same number of words as the number of positive commandments - 248 - plus the 7 Rabbinic commandments.

If this is true, then really the 49 pages and 7 chapters correspond to the days of the Omer and the 8th chapter corresponds to the acceptance of the Torah, which is Yom Tov itself.  And since the acceptance of the Torah is similar to the concept of "the oaths of the watchmen" since we had the oath of the Torah placed upon us at Mt. Sinai (מושבעים ועומדים מהר סיני) to guard the Torah and we were made into paid watchmen over the Torah, therefore, this chapter waited until the end of the tractate.

It comes out according to this, at first glance, that those who learn Mesechet Shavu'ot during Sefirat Ha'omer should only learn a few lines on page 49a on the 49th day of the Omer and finish it up on Yom Tov itself.

May it be Hashem's will that we should all merit to accept the Torah completely and to greet the face of Mashiah Tzidkenu and our king at our head with the coming of the redeemer - Bimheira Veyameinu, Amen.

Did Rav Mordechai Sharabi ZT"L Distribute Amulets?

There seems to be an argument between Rav Benayahu Shmueli and others on whether Rav Mordechai Sharabi distributed amulets or not.  There is apparently a famous amulet that is attributed to Rav Mordechai Sharabi.  Rav Shmueli, who took over the Nehar Shalom Yeshiva from Rav Sharabi, claims that it is a forgery. 

A family who asked Rav Shmueli for a blessing for their ill son also asked for the amulet.  He responded that there was never such an amulet and whoever claims that Rav Sharabi made such an amulet is frauding the public and using Rav Sharabi's holy name falsely.  All his life, Rav Sharabi opposed amulets, Rav Shmueli claims.  He further stated that whoever claims to have such an amulet is not telling the truth and is preying on innocent victims in their time of need.

The Refaeli family, who are in charge of the amulet, told Kikar Hashabat that they don't want to cause Mahloket, but they assert that they are holding onto the amulet that they received directly from Rav Sharabi, who told them to help people with it.  And it has helped people with health, fertility, and Shidduch issues, they say.   It also has support from Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a,  Rav Kaduri ZT"L and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu ZT"L.

So in this Mahloket in Metzi'ut, who's right?

Recent Interesting Links - Naso 5772


Friday, May 25, 2012

Rav Grossman Blesses Raheli Atias

Kikar has pictures and a very short video of Rav Grossman blessing Raheli Atias.

The article mentioned that after the Shiva is over, she is planning to visit Rav Chaim Kanievsky in Bnei Brak.




To all my readers, have a Shabbat Shalom and Hag Same'ah.

How Much Torah Did Avraham Avinu Keep?

There was recent discussion on Avodah about how much Torah Avraham Avinu and the Avot kept.

The question posed to the group:
: Obviously the sheva mitzvos b'nei Noach they observed but how did
: they know about the chukim and korbonos, as well as tzitzis, mezuzah,
: tefillin, etc. etc. etc.?
An answer given by the moderator:
(Mefarshim on the chumash generally address this on Bereishis 26:5.)
Rashi says they kept all the mitzvos. But if you turn to the gemara
Yuma 128b, there are three opinions.

1- Rav: The avos keps the entire Torah
2- R' Ashi: ... even the derabbanans.
3- R Shimi bar Chiya: Avraham only kept the 7 mitzvos and beris Milah.

(If we're talking all three Avos, presumably the only variation is
Yaaqov and his sons keeping gid hanasheh.)

Rashi is quoting Rav Ashi. But he is in the minority. Most rishonim hold
like RSBC. Including: the Rambam (Melachim 9:1), his son, the Me'iri
(intro to Avos), the Ramban, Seforno, IE, Radaq, Chizquni and the Ramah
(okay, not a rishon).

According to RMMS's understanding of RYYS (Sefer haMaamarim 5697, pg 282
in a hagah titled "beruchnius velo begashmius), Rav and R' Ashi aren't
being fully literal. The avos accomplished the spiritual objectives of
the mitzvos, and not for every mitzvah did they physically fulfill it
as we would.

RCVolozhiner holds like Rashi, and answers your question in NhC 1:21. He
holds that they were aware enough of their souls to detect what was
missing and intuit halakah.
I will add that one Kabbalistic approach to this goes even further than Rav Ashi. According to Ribbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira ZT"L in Mahsof Halavan, Avraham Avinu even kept Tikkun 4 Olamot of Shaharit based on the writings of the Ariza"l.  "And it's not Shayach - has veshalom - that anything - big or small - would be hidden from him as he was a Merkava for the Shechina and the beginning of the structure of holiness and the world existed only upon him..."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Instant Replay of the Asifa

I agree with about 90% of Rabbi Adlerstein's posts.  Not only is he batting a whopping .900, on his last at-bat, he knocked it out of the park:

Citifield: A Scorecard

Excerpt:
In the run-up to the original kabbolas ha-Torah, the Bnei Yisrael prepared themselves by three days of perishus, as an exercise of kedushah. I would like to believe that despite any errors, HKBH responded to the earnestness of Rav Salomon’s effort, and lit a fire under a great number of people and subgroups. Each in its own way will come up with solutions that will BE”H work in its locale and circumstances. Ironically, it will mean that the kinus, for all its flaws, will have importantly united all halachic Jews in the pursuit of kedushah.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Recent Interesting Links - Bemidbar 5772

Updated

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Horrific Tragedy in Northern Israel

Picture found on VIN

8 members of one family died in an accident where the vehicle's brakes were not functioning. One 7-year-old girl survived.

YWN:
The family that was killed in fatal crash R”L resided in Moshav Bar-Yochai in the north, near Kever Rashbi.


The niftarim are Rabbi Rafael Atias, 42, principal of a Tzfat yeshiva, his wife Yehudit, 42, Avia (female-17), a student in a Meron ulpana (high school), twins Elyashiv and Neria Shimon (16), Shira (11), Ta’ir (girl-8) and Noah (girl – 4). Levaya details have not yet been released.

Please continue being mispallel for the lone survivor of the family, Rachel Efrat bat Yehudit.
Arutz Sheva gives some background information about the family:
Yaniv Meir, head of the Bar Yochai town council, remembered the eight members of the Atias family who died in a car crash Monday in an interview with Arutz Sheva. “The family was one of the pillars of the community,” he said. “They were here for almost twenty years and all of them, from the oldest to the youngest, were involved in giving and acts of kindness.”

“The father was the gabbai for many years… he was also the principal of a school in Tzfat. The mother ran a gemach here and helped everyone who was in need. All of the children were raised to be giving, they were leaders in youth movements and helped with every project,” he continued.

“The family left a huge gap behind,” he concluded. “This is a dark day.”
Kikar reports that hours earlier, the family was celebrating a Hanukat Habayit for a new synagogue in Migdal Ha'emek.  Rabbi Atias' father, Rabbi Shimon Atias had the merit of dedicating the new synagogue and bringing Sifrei Torah to it.  The famous Rav Grossman was there.  He related that he had talked to the younger Rabbi Atias at the event and noted that he was holding 7-year-old Rachel the entire time as she wanted to be close to the Sifrei Torah.  He had said at the time, "Of course - the Torah protects and saves."  Later, he recalled emotionally, "I had spoken, but I knew not what I had prophecied.  I had added a blessing to her that כי הם חיינו ואורך ימינו - the Torah is our lives and the length of our days - in the merit of the Torah, you should have length of days and good years."

In that same article, Rav Grossman adds that even though Aharon was silent when Nadav and Avihu died, the rest of the Jewish people cried out.  We too must cry for this tragedy.  More from Rav Grossman here and here, where he said:
Rabbi Grossman added “I am not a navi and dare not attempt to understand HKBH’s cheshbonos, but I know that this family was a kapora for Am Yisrael and we mustn’t say ‘oh another tragic accident, another tragedy’ but we must contemplate the magnitude of the event, the loss, the pain, and each of us must find ways to enhance our avodas Hashem and our actions”.
Another Kikar report says that the girl later recalled, "We read Tehilim and her mother hugged and kissed her before the car overturned."  She was able to survive because she wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was therefore thrown from the vehicle.  (YY adds: Despite this news, I personally recommend seatbelts, which save more lives than ruin them - along with the knowledge that we know and understand Who really saves us.)

Arutz Sheva adds that a Tana"ch was the only thing saved within the burning car.

According to Ladaat, Rav Amar said that the tragedy was due to Hashem's attribute of justice in the world which wipes out the innocent together with the guilty when He sees that we are busy with the mundane aspects of our lives and don't pay attention to the spiritual aspects which are eternal.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky and the Skulener Rebbe seemed to blame it on the Internet being in Jewish homes (h/t Mashiach is Coming).

Apparently, right before the accident, the mother of the family cried out while on the phone with the dispatcher on the emergency line, "אלוקים תציל אותנו, ריבונו של עולם תציל אותנו" [G-d, save us!  Master of the universe, save us!]  Who knows if this prayer had its part in saving the 7-year-old.

Devash and Neshama among others blogged about it.

Kikar has an opinion piece which talks about this tragedy and says that the Final Redemption will come after our cries just as the redemption from Egypt came after our cries.

The Degalim and 5772

Bemidbar Rabba 2:7:
באותות סימנין היו לכל נשיא ונשיא מפה וצבע על כל מפה ומפה כצבע של אבנים טובות שהיו על לבו של אהרן מהם למדה המלכות להיות עושין מפה וצבע לכל מפה ומפה כל שבט ושבט נשיא שלו צבע מפה שלו דומה לצבע של אבנו ראובן אבנו אודם ומפה שלו צבוע אדום ומצוייר עליו דודאים שמעון פטדה ומפה שלו צבוע ירוק ומצוייר עליו שכם לוי ברקת ומפה שלו צבוע שליש לבן ושליש שחור ושליש אדום ומצוייר עליו אורים ותומים יהודה נפך וצבע מפה שלו דמותו כמין שמים ומצוייר עליו אריה יששכר ספיר ומפה שלו צבוע שחור דומה לכחול ומצוייר עליו שמש וירח על שם (ד"ה א יב) ומבני יששכר יודעי בינה לעתים זבולן יהלם וצבע מפה שלו לבנה ומצוייר עליו ספינה על שם זבולן לחוף ימים ישכון דן לשם וצבע מפה שלו דומה לספיר ומצוייר עליו נחש על שם יהי דן נחש גד שבו וצבע מפה שלו לא לבן ולא שחור אלא מעורב שחור ולבן ומצוייר עליו מחנה על שם (בראשית מט) גד גדוד יגודנו נפתלי אחלמה וצבע מפה שלו דומה ליין צלול שאין אדמתו עזה ומצוייר עליו אילה על שם נפתלי אילה שלוחה אשר תרשיש וצבע מפה שלו דומה לאבן יקרה שמתקשטות בו הנשים ומצוייר עליו אילן זית על שם מאשר שמנה לחמו יוסף שוהם וצבע מפה שלו שחור עד מאד ומצוייר לשני נשיאים אפרים ומנשה מצרים על שם שהיו תולדותם במצרים ועל מפה של אפרים היה מצוייר שור על שם בכור שורו זה יהושע שהיה משבט אפרים ועל מפה שבט מנשה היה מצוייר ראם על שם (דברים לג) וקרני ראם קרניו על שם גדעון בן יואש שהיה משבט מנשה בנימין ישפה וצבע מפה שלו דומה לכל הצבעים לי"ב הצבעים ומצוייר עליו זאב על שם בנימין זאב יטרף לכך נאמר באותות שסימנין היו להם לכל נשיא ונשיא

We see from the boldface part of this Midrash that the tribe of Levi had a stone on the Hoshen - namely Bareket - and the colors of his flag was red, white, and black. (Interestingly, later by Yissachar, it says that black is similar to blue [as opposed to the real black that is mentioned by Yosef] - but I digress.) The Yad Yosef on this Midrash quotes the Rada"l who is bothered by the fact that Levi doesn't have a flag according to the verses, so we don't know what the Midrash means when it talks about Levi's flag.

(Note that the Targum Yonatan in this week's Perasha labels the stones on the Hoshen differently and seems to have Bareket associated with Zevulun while separating Ephraim and Menashe, thus avoiding the problem.)

The newer version of the Etz Yosef, however, says that the verse specifically does mention a flag for Levi in 2:17:
וְנָסַע אֹהֶל-מוֹעֵד מַחֲנֵה הַלְוִיִּם, בְּתוֹךְ הַמַּחֲנֹת; כַּאֲשֶׁר יַחֲנוּ כֵּן יִסָּעוּ, אִישׁ עַל-יָדוֹ לְדִגְלֵיהֶם.
Then the tent of meeting, with the camp of the Levites, shall set forward in the midst of the camps; as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place, by their standards.
It comes out that there seem to be 2 opinions as to how many flags there were - either 12 or 13. Therefore, we must take the lowest common multiple of both numbers, which is 156. Then, multiply that by the gematria of the word דגל (flag), which is 37, and you get 5772.

And as Shir Hashirim Rabba says on the verse מִי-זֹאת הַנִּשְׁקָפָה, כְּמוֹ-שָׁחַר: יָפָה כַלְּבָנָה, בָּרָה כַּחַמָּה--אֲיֻמָּה, כַּנִּדְגָּלוֹת, the final stage of redemption is אימה כנדגלות. Also, Shemot Rabba 15:4 compares אימה כנדגלות to the redemption from the fourth exile of Edom - and as the Midrash explains there, the nations will fear Israel just like everyone fears HKB"H and the angels.

Ultimately, נרננה בישועתך ובשם אלהינו נדגל.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ahdut Among All Religious Parties in Israel?

With National Union and Jewish Home agreeing to run together in the next elections, this sparked a new interest in unity among other religious parties.  Kikar reported the other day that UTJ is weighing joining forces with Shas.  This generated a lot of comments on that post - some were nasty toward one party or the other while some thinking that Mashiah is on his way.

The kicker quote came in a recent Kikar article:

ישי התייחס גם ליוזמה שנחשפה בכיכר השבת, לפיה יתאחדו יהדות התורה וש"ס יחד, לקראת הבחירות הקרובות. "אם ינסו ללכת לכל מיני שיטות שינסו לפגוע בחרדים, בדתיים ולהעלים את המפלגות הקטנות – אולי יקרה משהו טוב שיתאחדו כל המפלגות הדתיות: ש"ס, יהדות התורה, הבית היהודי, האיחוד הלאומי.

"בסוף, כשכולם מאוחדים יחד נקבל יותר מנדטים".

My translation:
[Interior Minister Eli] Yishai also related to the initiative that was exposed on Kikar HaShabbat, according to which UTJ and Shas will join together for the next elections.  "If they will try to go toward all types of ideologies that will try to harm Haredim and the religious and to sideline the small parties - perhaps something good will happen that all the religious parties will be united:  Shas, UTJ, Jewish Home and National Union.

"In the end, when all are united together, we will get more mandates."

Halevai such a day will come!  Then we know Mashiah is on his way.  I don't know why we need to wait for them to try to harm us - let's do it right now!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Recent Interesting Links

(This should be the last one of these without the name of the פרשה included in the title.  It gets too confusing when Hu"L and E"Y are different.)
  • Rafi blogged about people asking Rav Chaim Kanievsky about the source of Avraham Fried's new song's lyrics.  He said that it was not in Haza"l.  VIN reports that Avraham Fried answered the question - it came from the Ohel Moshe.
  • Chicago Jewish News interviews Mayor Emanuel.
  • The Mashiach Is Coming blog notes that In the Vanguard commented:
    Apropos to this verb you bring, note it also finds itself in the word "Moshiach" - as if to suggest the more we all talk about Moshiach the more certain is his speedy arrival - where Moshiach is pronounced "Mee-Siach" - from talk!
  • "King Bibi" is on the cover of "Time".
  • Elder of Ziyon breaks down the BBC poll where Israel is tied for third most negative global influence.  (Only 3% of Japan thinks Israel is a positive influence???  Really???  Worse than Egypt???) 
  • Chicago prepares for NATO.  Who needs it?  May it be Hashem's will that it passes without incident.
  • Busy day Sunday.  Besides the Asifa, Yom Yerushalayim (כמנין גאולה), the NATO summit, and a couple of shul dinners that I was invited to, there's also a ring of fire solar eclipse on the West Coast of the US to watch out for on Sunday (which is also ironic because the West Coast of the US is part of the tectonic plate "Ring of Fire").
  • Help Neil bike for Chai Lifeline.
  • Hamodia (on p.9) quotes someone who is giving good advice to people going to the Asifa:
    "If approached by a reporter, think before you speak," another askan pleaded.  "Don't say anything that may be misinterpreted or misunderstood."
  • Don't forget about the famous Or Hahayim on Behar (25:25-28).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yosef Hatzaddik, The Asifa, and Yom Yerushalayim

The Asifa for protecting against the negative effects of the Internet is scheduled for this coming Sunday, May 20th, 2012 - Iyar 28, 5772 in Citi Field in New York.  Many a critic has what to say about it, but I'm not coming to criticize it.  I'm looking at the positive motivation for the Asifa and I understand a lot of it.

The only problem that I will say about it is that it seems to come way too late in the game.  It should have been done 18 years ago.  The Mahane is already impure, so it's hard to now bring about its purity without some serious effort.  The previous years have brought with them decrees which the Tzibbur could not withstand and therefore rebellion of the decrees took place and much time was wasted.  Therefore, the current effort to bring about purity and holiness will be enormous.  But it is a great start to this effort and whether it is naturally successful or not, it is an unmatched אתעררותא דלתתא that will certainly make waves in Shamayim.

In my humble opinion, it is no coincidence that the Asifa is taking place on Yom Yerushalayim.  The Asifa represents being עומד בנסיון - withstanding the temptation of the time - namely, the negative aspects of the Internet.  This idea of withstanding temptation is what Yosef Hatzaddik is best known for.  The temptation that he withstood with Potiphar's wife has been used throughout the generations as a measuring stick for us to live up to (as they say, he is מחייב את הרשעים - obligates the wicked). 

In addition, Yom Yerushalayim represents the return to ציון - Tzion - another name for Yerushalayim.  Many Midrashim (including the Tanhuma on Vayigash) compare Yosef and Tzion, and say that everything that happened to Yosef happened to Tzion - both negative and positive events.  This is besides the fact (or due to the fact) that their gematrias are the same. 

One can add in the fact that the Benei Yissaschar says that since the month of Iyar coincides with Mazal Shor (Taurus) and Yosef is compared to an ox so it is no wonder that his progeny Yehoshua defeated Amalek during this month.  In fact, Wikipedia says that the war with Amalek happened on the 28th of Iyar - the same day as Yom Yerushalayim.

And 2 days before Yom Yerushalayim, many people have the custom of going to Kever Yosef for the 41st day of the Sefirat Ha'omer in which Kabbalists call "Yesod ShebeYesod" - the sefira that represents Yosef Hatzaddik.

I also have good reason to believe that the whole episode between Yosef and Potiphar's wife occurred during this time1 (or perhaps only a bit later) even though I couldn't find any sefer discussing when in the year this episode occurred (although according to most authorities, it occurred in the year 2117, when Yosef was 18 years old) .

There is a very interesting connection between the year 5727 (the year of the Six Day War) and this year - 5772.  The Tomer Devorah blog already discussed this.  However, we can now add another dimension to this.  Namely, that the Asifa, which is a united stand against immorality, is a repeat of what happened to Yosef, but will now be enhanced as it will now be for all of Kelal Yisrael.  Similarly, this is the case with Tzion.  The Six Day War was a victory against our enemies, but alas, it was not complete.  We are still missing the most important part - the Beit Hamikdash.  To complete Yosef's charge, we waited 3655 years.  For Tzion, we pray that in the merit of the Asifa where we stand up for holiness - that the full Redemption will merely be גאולה years later.



1 The verse says that Hashem's blessing was with Yosef בבית ובשדה - in the house and in the field.  The Seder Olam says that this proves that Yosef was in Potiphar's house for 12 months - in the house because of the sun and in the field because of the cold.  Even though the Gr"a changes the girsa to "in the house because of the cold and in the field because of the sun" and that view is backed up by the Zohar Hadash Parshat Hukkat, there are those like the Yefeh To'ar who keep the Seder Olam's girsa as is and explain that Yosef was placed in the house in the summer because Potiphar was in the field then and he was placed in the field in the winter because Potiphar was in the house then. 


(As an aside, I'll add that this would explain the verse וַיָּבֹא הַבַּיְתָה לַעֲשׂוֹת מְלַאכְתּוֹ - and he went to the house to do his work - it is the first day that he went to the house as it was the first day of summer.  Of course, this makes perfect sense according to the Gr"a as well.)

We can assume that בבית ובשדה is in order - first the house and then the field.  According to the Yefeh To'ar's understanding of the Seder Olam, this would mean: first the summer and then the winter.  But when is the winter over and when does summer begin?  Would this mean Pesah-time?


Let's look at another Midrash.  This one explains why Potiphar's home was empty.
  ר' יהודה אומר יום ניבול של נילוס היה והלכו הכל לראות והוא לא הלך - Ribbi Yehuda says that the day was the day that they have [an Avoda Zara holiday with] frivolity because of the Nile and everyone went to see, but Yosef did not go.
Various commentators explain it in one of 2 ways: either it was the day that 1) the Nile started to rise or 2) the Nile overfilled its banks.  I prefer the first explanation - that it started to rise.  Even up to modern times, Egyptians celebrated June 17th as the "Night of the Drop" - an idolatrous idea that an Egyptian god cried and a tear dropped and caused the Nile to rise.  This idea, though, has roots in holiness, as sefarim say that HKB"H puts a drop in the Nile and causes it to rise every year during Tekufat Tamuz.


This shows that Tekufat Tamuz is when summer begins and when the Nile starts rising.  It is possible that the end of Iyar reached within a couple weeks of Tekufat Tamuz - the summer solstice.  If looking further upstream, the river definitely starts rising earlier - even during May.  May is called a "transition month".


This timing doesn't work very well according to the Gr"a unless he holds בבית ובשדה is not necessarily in order.  Alternatively, he could say that the בבית ובשדה Midrash holds like Ribbi Nehemia against Ribbi Yehuda.

Some may want to prove that it occurred at the end of the summer since הבור רק אין בו מים implies the end of the summer which is when there is no water in the pits.  Add 12 months to מכירת יוסף and we're still at the end of the summer.  I disagree.  If it were the end of the summer, why would anyone have looked in the pits for water like the Midianites did?  It appears to me that only this pit had no water, but others around did - this occurs during the beginning of the summer.

If anyone has a clear source as to when in the year this took place, I'd be interested.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Earthquake Felt in Israel

An earthquake measuring 5.5 whose epicenter was around the Cyprus area was felt from Be'er Sheva to Tzefat.

In Israel, the Perasha read this week is Behar.  The second verse of Behar contains:
וְשָׁבְתָה הָאָרֶץ, שַׁבָּת לַיהוָה
then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD
The earthquake doesn't seem like much of a sabbath by the land until you see that the gematria of this phrase equals that of:
היה רעידת אדמה כ' אייר תשע"ב
There was an earthquake 20 Iyar, 5772
I'm not sure how meaningful this is.  I'm just thinking out loud...

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Obama, Marriage, and Noah's Flood

The views of the President of the United State have "evolved".  He now supports a man "marrying" another man. Well, I'll tell you what has not evolved - the Torah (see the Rambam's 9th principle of faith).  According to the Torah, the act involved in these unions was, is, and always will be - an abomination.

Not only that, but the Midrash tells us that what caused the Generation of the Flood to become wiped off the earth was the fact that they started writing marriage contracts for males and animals.  (See also Hulin 92a-b.)

In the writings of Rav Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin, he writes in a couple places that those in the Generation of Mashiah have the same souls as those in the Generation of the Flood.  Our task, therefore, is to rectify the sins of the Generation of the Flood - and specifically sins that are connected to the Berit Milah.

The Agudah put out a statement explaining that the President's views are not consistent with those of Judaism, regardless of how others may try to spin our religion to match their liberal viewpoints.

May Hashem save us from any Pur'anut that may arise from this.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Recent Interesting Links

R' Pinchos Winston with a multi-chapter book called Drowning in Pshat (which talks about many Geula concepts for our day).

R' Dov Bar Leib has his unique take on the matzav on Mystical Paths and on his own blog.

R' Yaakov Bar Nahman on Shirat Devorah has some amazing stories in A Holy Nation.

Rafi hikes the breadth of Eretz Yisrael and has a great quote from Moshe Feiglin.

Hirhurim has Internet Filters for the Orthodox Jew

Monday, May 07, 2012

Rabbanit Kanievsky in a Dream: Don't Throw Away My Clothes - I'll be Back Right Away

Here's an audio clip (in Hebrew) from the Kol Berama radio station, where the speaker tells over a story that he heard from Rav Yitzchak Kolodetsky about his wife, Rabbanit Leah Kolodetsky, the daughter of Rabbanit Batsheva Kanievsky A"H.  Note that Rabbanit Kolodetsky is taking her mother's role in giving out berachot.  According to the story, her mother (Rabbanit Kanievsky) came to her in a dream and the daughter asked her mother what she should do with all her clothes that she left behind.  Rabbanit Kanievsky answered her in the dream, "Don't touch them - I'm returning immediately."

Click on the link below and if it doesn't download right away, click "Download" on the right panel.

(h/t email from Tzvi who got it from Rav Fish Shlit"a)

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Rav of Tnuva Says We are Already in an Advanced Stage of the Geula

Ben Waxman on Avodah:
Google docs link

Rav Vitman (long I), a member of Tzohar and the head of kashrut of Tnuva (I think), wrote an article in which he asks if we not in the Messianic Period itself (meaning not just itchalta d'geula or ikvata d'meshicha). Rav Vitman tries to show that according to the Rambam, the ikkar of Yemot HaMashiach is kibbutz galiyot, return of Jewish sovereignty, and the ability to defend ourselves.

The Rav feels that if this indeed true, than we have to start dealing with questions such as what type of government does the Torah want, should we build the Beit HaMiqdash, and more.

I scanned the article (in Hebrew), which is an examination of the relevant Rambams, and uploaded it to Google. Hopefully it will be clear enough for you to read.

Ben

Friday, May 04, 2012

NATO Messes Up Chicago Before the Summit Even Started

See here.

Makkot 2 & 7

Toads in China

JINGZHOU, China (CNN/CCTV) - Thousands of toads have invaded central China's Hubei Province.

Residents are worried the thumb-sized toads may spread parasites and diseases.

The sight of thousands of toads has frightened many of the townspeople, who say there are so many on the roads, it turns them black.

Scientists say the invasion may be the result of abnormal weather conditions.


Chicago-area hail:

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — A round of heavy spring storms caused serious damage in some areas overnight, including the collapse of a façade at a church in downtown Evanston that left a person injured.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros says as of 5 a.m., the more intense storm activity had left the area, and the remaining storms were expected to track to the south. Flash flood warnings in the immediate Chicago area had expired, although wet roads still posed a risk for the morning commute.

But the National Weather Service says a chance of showers and thunderstorms remains through 7 a.m., and through the night Friday and into Saturday.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the storms caused particularly severe damage in the near north suburbs.

In Morton Grove, wind snapped a tree and knocked it onto a roof. No one was injured.

In Lincolnwood, streets were filled with water, and air was visible bubbling up from the sewers as cars made their way through.

But the most severe damage was seen at St. James Armenian Church, at 813 Clark St. in Evanston just southwest of the Northwestern University quads.

Severe weather caused bricks on the front of the church to come crashing down. Firefighters rushed to the church around 8:20 p.m. Thursday.

Evanston Fire Department Division Chief Tom Janetske said the first 911 callers told dispatchers that the building itself had collapsed. Emergency workers arrived to find that bricks and masonry from the top third of the façade crashed to the sidewalk, also covering several parking spaces in front of the church.

Firefighters immediately cordoned off the area with yellow warning tape, and hundreds of bricks were scattered on the sidewalk and front lawn behind the tape. A building inspector will check the church Friday to determine the severity of the damage.

Janetske said one person was nicked by the falling debris as she scurried to seek cover from the high winds and heavy rain. Paramedics transported her to St. Francis Hospital for observation, but Janetske said the injuries appeared to be minor.

A neighbor, Graham Murphy, said he came out right after he heard the collapse.

“I heard a bang, but there was so much hail banging against the window, you couldn’t even hear the TV in the apartment, so it was pretty loud and pretty bad,” Murphy said. “I didn’t know what happened; I mean, I wasn’t sure if the road had blown up or some gas line had exploded.”

The storms Thursday night pelted the ground with heavy drops of rain, and nickel-sized hail. When it was over, streets were flooded in many areas.

“It’s a lot of water,” said Niles resident Mike Galante. He came outside wearing waders, and ended up in knee deep water in the middle of his residential block.

“Typically here, this is what happens when there’s heavy, heavy storms, fast, in this area, the street floods, and my mother-in-law’s car; her house across the street, and she will get water inside the house if we don’t get the sewers clear,” Galante said.

To prevent that from happening, Galante and another neighbor spent some time unclogging the sewers.

Galante says flooding on Niles streets has been an ongoing problem for four decades, and the only way to prevent a flooded basement is to unclog the sewers manually.

The storms also prompted airlines to cancel numerous flights at O’Hare International Airport Thursday night.

Some travelers said agents told them flights were canceled because planes needed to be inspected for hail damage.

Twelve American Airlines plans are being examined for hail damage in the hangar at O’Hare, airline officials said.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

An Open Letter to Rav Aryeh Deri

To the Honorable Rav Aryeh Deri Amv"s,

It is with great disappointment that I learn that you are planning to start your own party called Kavod U’Mesoret.  It troubles me greatly that an agreement cannot be made with the party of your youth - the party of your Rav - the party where you belong - Shas. 

I am a big admirer of yours and have always felt that you were wrongly accused of wrongdoing.  You did not deserve any of the prison sentence you received and throughout the entire ordeal, you handled yourself with class.  As a Talmid of Rav Ovadia Shlit"a, you have always been loyal to his party.  It therefore saddens me that you would consider veering from your rav's path and blazing your own. 

I realize that you have been at odds with the current leader - Eli Yishai.  He too is someone I greatly admire.  In the name of Ahdut, it is time to bury the hatchet and join him.  It makes no difference who the leader is.  Will you be like Yeravam Ben Nevat and ask "Mi Barosh?"  Just join them in any capacity and you will make the party stronger.  And a stronger Shas means more means for spreading Yahadut throughout Eretz Yisrael.

Instead of Ahdut, if the reports are accurate, you have opted for division.  The name of the new party ironically is Kavod U'Mesoret.  However, if you are chasing after Kavod, you will get none, as it will run away from you.  If you seek Masoret (tradition), you will not find it by abandoning the party of Rav Ovadia, who is the guardian of our tradition. 

I know that you are a man of honor.  Do the honorable thing and join Shas, even if not as leader.  If you run away from honor, it will chase after you, and the party of the Sepharadim will be unified.

Sincerely,

Yeranen Yaakov

Disclaimer: I am not an Israeli (at this time) so I have no voting power, but I deeply care about the Jewish people.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Rif's 1000th Birthday Soon

Next year, it will be the Rif's 1000th birthday. The Rif was born in 4773 (1013). While his Yahrtzeit is known to be the 10th of Iyar (which is tonight and Wednesday), I wasn't able to find the exact date of his birth.

The Rif was one of the first of the Rishonim. He was one of the 3 Amudei Hora'a - pillars of halachic decisors that the 16th-century rabbi Rav Yosef Karo used to decide halacha himself. His composition on the Talmud, which can be found in the back of most books of gemara and is sometimes named "Talmud Katan" or "Shas Katan", encompasses the parts of the Talmud that apply to us nowadays. For example, one will not find in the Rif's composition anything that has to do with Korbanot - sacrifices - as that only applied/will apply when the Beit Hamikdash existed/will exist.

The verse in Yeshaya 60:22 states:

הַקָּטֹן יִהְיֶה לָאֶלֶף, וְהַצָּעִיר לְגוֹי עָצוּם; אֲנִי יְהוָה, בְּעִתָּהּ אֲחִישֶׁנָּה
The smallest shall become a thousand, and the least a mighty nation; I the LORD will hasten it in its time.

The word קטן could possibly refer to the Rif for a few reasons. First of all, he was one of the first Rishonim - no longer among the category of Geonim (but nevertheless, a great rabbinic figure among the Rishonim). Secondly, he wrote what was later called "Talmud Katan" or "Shas Katan". Thirdly, he only wrote his halachic opinions on a smaller-than-whole section of the Torah.

In addition, the first 3 letters of his name (אלפסי) are hinted to in the word לאלף. Also, the gematria of the boldfaced letters in הקטן יהיה לאלף והצעיר equal אלפסי plus the Kollel.

Possibly, we could say that הקטן יהיה לאלף means: "When the Rif turns 1000". The verse continues: והצעיר לגוי עצום (this will need to be explained in a future post, BL"N). The end of the verse is: אני ה' בעתה אחישנה - I am Hashem. In its time, I will hasten it.

May that time come very soon.