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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tzel Heharim - Laws of Tzitzit

Rabbi Yitzhak learns in the same Beit Midrash as me, so I thought I'd plug his new book: Tzel Heharim - Tzitzit.

From Feldheim's website:

This highly praised book is the first comprehensive scholarly work in English to address exclusively the laws of tzitzit. In easy-to-understand text, the author elucidates the complex laws and concepts of Tzitzit according to the Sephardic tradition, making them accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Over seventy photographs and illustrations accompany the discussion of the minimally required dimensions of the tallit katan and tallit gadol; the step-by-step procedure of donning the tallit; four-cornered garments made of different materials; affixing the ritual strands; what to do if the ritual strands are torn, and other important topics. The first of a multi-volume set, this work is destined to become an indispensable reference for layman and scholar alike.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Land of Magog posted a scholarly article on where the land of "Magog" is. (It should be in English soon as well.) It is now available in English here.

His conclusion:

Magog includes the land of southeastern Iran, southern Afghanistan, and much of the western half of Pakistan.

At the end of the article, he also proves that Gog does not necessarily come from Magog. This would mean that "Gog Umagog" is Gog fighting against Magog. This is what many present-day rabbis are saying will be the war of the U.S. against Iran.

Read it here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Update: DO NOT go to his blog as it seems to be downloading a virus - via Oleh Girl


No, not quite, but close enough.

This, after he tried to pull the wool over American T.V. viewers.

Hashem Yerahem.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Humility Brings Geula

The Ben Ish Hai writes in his book בן איש חיל:
When Moshe was asked to take the Jewish people out of Egypt, he asked Hashem what Zechut the Jewish people had to leave Egypt.

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה, אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים, מִי אָנֹכִי, כִּי אֵלֵךְ אֶל-פַּרְעֹה; וְכִי אוֹצִיא אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִמִּצְרָיִם

Hashem answered him:

וַיֹּאמֶר, כִּי-אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ, וְזֶה-לְּךָ הָאוֹת, כִּי אָנֹכִי שְׁלַחְתִּיךָ: בְּהוֹצִיאֲךָ אֶת-הָעָם, מִמִּצְרַיִם, תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת-הָאֱלֹהִים, עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה

In the merit of receiving the Torah will they be redeemed. However, Hashem hinted another message by adding the words "על ההר הזה". We know that Mt. Sinai was the most humble of all the mountains. Hashem hinted to Moshe that in the merit of the Jewish people being humbled and downtrodden were they redeemed from Egypt. This is also understood from the verses in Tehillim:

שֶׁבְּשִׁפְלֵנוּ, זָכַר לָנוּ: כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ
וַיִּפְרְקֵנוּ מִצָּרֵינוּ: כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

Because we were downtrodden, that's why Hashem redeemed us.
We know that the future redemption will also occur because of humility, as it says:

כִּי-אַתָּה, עַם-עָנִי תוֹשִׁיעַ; וְעֵינַיִם רָמוֹת תַּשְׁפִּיל

It is logical to say this too, since the greater the oppressor and the more downtrodden the oppressed, the greater honor is given to the Redeemer. This is why we plead in the Tahanunim for Hashem to look down on our low status among the nations and for the redemption to come as a result:

א-ל! הביטה דל כבודינו בגוים ושקצונו כטומאת הנדה
עד מתי עוזך בשבי ותפארתך ביד צר

We also know that the oppressors of Israel become great. We know this from the Gemara in Gittin that says

היו צריה לראש וגו' כל המיצר לישראל נעשה ראש

However, the greatness of the oppressors of Israel is another sign of the redemption, as it says:

הִרְבִּיתָ הַגּוֹי, לא (לוֹ) הִגְדַּלְתָּ הַשִּׂמְחָה

and we can be דורש both the קרי and the כתיב to say: לא לו הגדלת השמחה - when Hashem makes a nation great, He does not increase the joy for that nation; but rather the joy increased for us, the Jews.

This piece from the Ben Ish Hai has a lot of interesting ramifications for our day.
We just had the Mitz'ad Ha'anavah (Humility March) from Rav Amnon Yitzhak this past week. That's the most obvious connection.
However, perhaps there's a deeper meaning and a deeper lesson for us all. We all know that the war is not going so well on the Israeli side. Maybe Hashem needs us to be humbled and downtrodden in the eyes of the world in order to redeem us. Maybe Hashem needs to raise Nasrallah and Ahmedinejad up in the eyes of the world by achieving military parity with Israel in order to redeem us.

Let's pray to Hashem that our humility and lowliness has been enough already throughout the years. Let's hope our lowliness throughout the years will bring about our redemption sooner than planned (Ahishena). As the end of this week's Haftarah says:

כִּי-נִחַם יְהוָה צִיּוֹן, נִחַם כָּל-חָרְבֹתֶיהָ, וַיָּשֶׂם מִדְבָּרָהּ כְּעֵדֶן, וְעַרְבָתָהּ כְּגַן-יְהוָה; שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה יִמָּצֵא בָהּ, תּוֹדָה וְקוֹל זִמְרָה

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tu Be'av

The Mishna in Ta'anit (4,7) says לא היו ימים טובים לישראל כחמישה עשר באב וכיום הכיפורים - There were no greater days for the Jewish people like the 15th of Av and like Yom Hakippurim.

Tu Be'av (the 15th of Av) throughout history symbolized the end of a period of trouble and the beginning of a period of joy. We see this from the list of occurances the Gemara brings down that occurred on Tu Be'av.

Rav Amnon Yitzhak chose this date to hold his "Humility Parade" at Teddy Stadium - also coinciding with the planned but cancelled Abomination Pride Parade.

May Tu Be'av herald in better times for the Jewish people. May all our sorrows be forgotten starting this Tu Be'av.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Praying for a Soldier - Do you believe who I got?

The OU website says the following:
Pray for one person
A new initiative by Rav Simcha Kook, Rav of Rechovot, and the Bostoner Rebbe, calls for people to take upon themselves to pray for one specific soldier or resident of the North. Every participant in the program will be given the Hebrew name of someone in danger in Israel to pray for. This initiative has been endorsed by gedolim in Eretz Yisrael.

The Medrash Rabah and the Yalkut relate that during the war against Midyon, for every one that went out to battle there was a designated person whose task it was to pray and learn for him. Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, when asked about this tradition, pointed out that Dovid Hemelech instituted this practice as well.

Anyone that wishes to participate should email or fax 011 9722 6512950, or submit requests to the Young Israel at 212-929-1525 ext 100/101 or fax 212-727-9526 and the name of someone to daven for will be sent to you shortly thereafter.

(I mentioned the Midrash here.)

Well, they had a Tehillim gathering at a local synagogue that I attended. After the Tehillim, they had the names of soldiers on small strips of paper in a box, and everyone who wanted to picked one to pray for. They said that there were about 500 names in the box. I happened to pick:

גלעד בן אביבה

I tremble at the task at hand.

Another Sad Tish'a Be'av

It comes as no surprise that the highest death toll of the war came on Tish'a Be'av.
Along with the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, we mourn the 12 who died today:

8 civilians:

1. Shimon Zaribi, 44, from Akko
2. Mazal Zaribi, 15, (Shimon’s daughter)
3. Albert Ben-Abu, 41 from Akko
4. Aryeh Tamam, from Akko
5. Tiran Tamam (Aryeh’s brother)
6. Sinati Sinati, 18, from Maalot
7. Amir Naeem, 18, from Maalot
8. Muhammad Faour, 18, from Maalot

4 soldiers:

1. Sergeant Andrei Brudner, 18, from Rishon L’Tzion,
2. Sergeant Itamar Tsur, 19, from Be’er Tuvia
3. Sergeant Alon Fintuch, 19, from Kiryat Yam.
4. Sergeant Yonatan Sharabi, 19, from Petach Tivkah

And the head of the U.N. says that Israeli force is "Disproportionate" ???!!! quotes Rav Mordechai Eliyahu as saying that we read in last week's Perasha of Moshe Rabbeinu telling the people:

לֹא תִּירָאוּם כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, הוּא הַנִּלְחָם לָכֶם

Ye shall not fear them; for the LORD your God, He it is that fighteth for you.

Rav Eliyahu says to separate the word תיראום into 2 words: תירא או"ם. In other words, don't fear the U.N. Only fear Hashem since only Hashem will fight for us.


However, we know that Teshuva must come first, as the Zohar Hadash (mentioned in that same post) says.

On Tish'a Be'av, we read in the Haftara for Minha:

שובה ישראל עד ה' אלקיך

This is the same Haftara that we read on Shabbat Teshuva (sometimes called Shabbat Shuva). This is something we need a lot of now. See another great article by Tzvi Fishman concerning one of the sins that require rectification.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

R' Dov Bar Leib: Bint J'Beil=Gavlan

"The Gavlan will be desolate" says the Gemara Sotah.
R' Dov Bar Leib says that it refers to Bint J'beil.

Also, in the end of his latest interview with Tamar Yonah, he said that Mashiah will definitely come within 6 years, but probably before Gog's term in office is up. says that Rav Mordechai Eliyahu spoke about the situation and pretty much said that now is the time of Mashiah, so everyone should unite and do Teshuva.

May Tish'a B'Av soon turn Miyagon LeSimha with the rebuilding of our Beit Hamikdash Bimhera Veyamenu, Amen.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hazon and Nahamu


Adderabbi mentioned a nice Gematria the other day:
ציון במשפט תפדה = 1076 = תלמוד ירושלמי
ושביה בצדקה = 524 = תלמוד בבלי

The book טללי אורות in the volume that deals with Eicha and the 3 weeks mentions that this Gematria was said by R' Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld Zt"l, who argued that the only path to redemption is through learning these two Talmuds - not through taking the land by force. Even if one disagrees with that assertion, learning Torah is undoubtedly an essential part thereof.


For those who thought a cease-fire was coming, this week's Haftarah tells us otherwise:

וּלְבָנוֹן, אֵין דֵּי בָּעֵר; וְחַיָּתוֹ--אֵין דֵּי, עוֹלָה
And Lebanon is not sufficient fuel, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for burnt-offerings.