Monday, December 31, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Shovavim - Eating Suggestions

We are now in the days of Shovavim. (With the help of Hashem, I hope to have a more detailed posting in the near future.) Many of the Seforim mention the custom to fast many days in this period. For those of us that don't (and also for those that do), I would suggest that we at least try to make our eating a little more spiritual. Here are a few suggestions. Try to do at least one; every "little" thing counts.

 

1) There is a custom of some not to eat any animal products till nighttime or some don't eat any for a 24 hour period, once a week during Shovavim.

 

2) Review the laws pertaining to Netilas Yodaim, breaking the bread, brochos, Birchas Hamazon and other meal related issues.

 

3) Have in mind that when you say a brocha on the food or think of Torah while eating, you might be fixing neshomos that came back as gilgulim in the food. The Seforim Hakedoshim speak about the amazing tikkunim a simple person can accomplish by eating, especially if we have kavana in the brochos.

 

4) Rabbeinu Yona in Yesod Hateshuva says in the name of the Raavad that if one stops eating his meal while he is still a little hungry, for the sake of Hashem, then that is a very lofty thing. (It sounds easier than it is.)

 

5) Noam Elimelech in Tzetel Koton #15 says that when eating, have in mind the Hebrew word for food, מאכל, and that it equals 91, the numerical value of י־ה־ו־ה with א־ד־נ־י.

 

If you have any additional suggestions, please comment.

19-25 Teves Yartzeits

19 Teves - R' Aryeh Leib ben R' Yosef HaKohen Heller (1813) author of Ketzos Hachoshen, Avnei Miluim and Shev Shmaitsa. All very famous seforim on halacha.

19 Teves - R' Avrohom Shmuel Binyamin Sofer (1871) oldest son of R' Moshe, the Chasam Sofer

19 Teves - R' Menachem Mendel Zaks (1974), son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim

20 Teves - R' Moshe ben R' Maimon (1204) the Rambam

20 Teves - R' Yaakov ben R' Masoud Abuchatzeira (1880) Great mekubal and the grandfather of Baba Sali

21 Teves - R' Yisroel Dov Ber ben R' Yosef of Vilednik (1850), author of Shearis Yisroel, great tzadik and miracle worker, primary talimid of R' Mottel of Chernobyl, his kever in Vilendnik, Ukraine gets many visitors.
21 Teves - Rav Matzliach Mazuz of Djerba HY"D, author of Ish Matzliach (1971)

21 Teves - R' Yitzchok ben R' Abba Abuchatzeira (1991) Great-grandson of R' Yaakov Abuchatzeira


22 Teves - R' Sholom ben R' Mordechai Yosef Moshe Moskovitz, the Shotzer Rebbe of London. He promised to help anyone who comes to his kever and lights 3 candles(1958)
22 Teves - R' Shmuel Heller, Rav of Tzefas (1884)
22 Teves - R' Yehuda Leib ben R' Shlomo Eiger of Lublin (1888) grandsonof R' Akiva Eiger, talmid of the Kotzker and Izhbitza, author of Toras Emes and Imrei Emes

22 Teves - R' Avrohom Elchonon ben R' Dovid Shlomo Spector (1973) descendant of the Chozeh. Breslover Tzadik who knew the whole Shas, Medrash, Zohar and more by heart.

23 Teves - R' Refoel Yitzchok Zerachia Azulai (1765) father of the Chida
23 Teves - R' Mordechai Gifter (1991), Rosh Yeshiva of Telz


24 Teves - R' Naftali ben R' Yitzchok Hakohen Katz (1719, some have the date as 26 Teves), author of Semichas Chachomim and Rov of Ostraha and Frankfurt-on-Main. He is buried in Istanbul, where he died, en route to Eretz Yisroel. He was a descendant of the Maharal of Prague. R' Nachman of Breslov was one of his descendants
24 Teves - R' Shneur Zalman ben R' Boruch of Liadi (1813), first Lubavitcher Rebbe, author of the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch Harav
24 Teves - R' Shmuel Borenstein of Sochatchov (1926), the Shem MiShmuel son of ben R' Avrohom, the Avnei Nezer
24 Teves - R' Avraham Shmuel Binyamin ben R' MosheSofer, author of the Teshuvos Divrei Sofer (1948) descendant of the Chasam Sofer
24 Teves - R' Moshe Mordechai ben R' Shimon Noson Nota Biderman of Lelov (1987) Great tzadik from a family that was in Yerushalayim since 1850.

24 Teves - R' Yosef of Yampola (1812 some have the date as 20 Shvat) ben R' Yechiel Mechel of Zlotchov

24 Teves - R' Meir ben R' Yehuda Leib Greenwald (1852) Maharam Ash


25 Teves - R' Moshe Tzvi ben R' Shimon Shlomo Giterman of Savran (1837) was a talmid of R' Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev and R' Boruch of Mezibuz. He was a fierce opponent of R' Noson of Breslov, though interestingly his son, R' Shimon Shlomo was on good terms with the Breslover Chassidim.

25 Teves - Rav Eliyahu Eliezer ben R' Reuven Dov Dessler (1954), author of Michtav M'Eliyahu and Mashgiach in Gateshead and Ponovezh

25 Teves - Rav Moshe Tikochinsky, Mashgiach of Slabodka

Woman in Judaism - A New Book on the Subject

See Dixie Yid's posting about a new book, by a Rebbetzin, on the role of women in Judaism. It sounds fascinating.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bnei Yisaschor

Chai Teves is the yartzeit of Reb Tzvi Elimelech Shapira of Dinov (1783-1841) ben Reb Pesach, known to many as the "Bnei Yisaschor". When his mother was pregnant with him, her mother went to her illustrious brother, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, to get a brocha. The Rebbe told her that she should name the baby, who will be a boy, Elimelech. She got scared thinking that this meant her brother will die, since the custom of European Jews is usually not to name after the living. The Rebbe said that instead they should call the baby Tzvi Elimelech; this put her at ease since it wasn't the exact same name. After the baby was named, the Rebbe told her that if the baby would have been named just "Elimelech", then the baby would have been "mamash" a "Melech", meaning exactly like himself. Now, he said, the boy would be half like him. He went on to become a talmid of the Chozeh of Lublin and Reb Mendel of Rimanov. The Dinov, Munkatch, Bluzhev and Bertch dynasties descend from him.

 

Why Bnei Yisaschor?

Reb Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov used to feel a more than usual "high" when it came to Chanuka. He knew he wasn't from the family of the Chashmonoim, because he wasn't a Kohen. He decided to travel to the Chozeh of Lublin to inquire about this. As soon as he walked into the room of the Chozeh, the clairvoyant tzadik told him that he descends from the tribe of Yisaschor (Yissachor); the reason he feels such a high on Chanuka is because many of the judges in the court of the Chashmonoim were from the tribe of Yissachor. That's why he named his sefer on the Yomim Tovim, Bnei Yisaschor, and that answers our question why there is such an enormous amount written about Chanuka.

 

The Sefer 

Besides Sefer Bnei Yisaschor, Reb Tzvi Elimelech wrote many seforim on many different subjects; Chumash, Nach, Gemara, Mishnayos, Mitzvos, Kabbalah and more. They are all great works but Bnei Yisaschor is the most famous, quoted heavily by many Litvishe and Sephardishe Rabbonim. This sefer helps you get a feel as to the inner workings of every month of the year. Even for the month of Cheshvan, he gives you an understanding of what the month is about. You can go through the whole year, and instead of each day being "just another day", each day has real meaning, even if it isn't a Yom Tov.

 

When it comes to a Yom Tov, and you read what he has to say (at least part of it, as there is a huge amount on each Yom Tov) it gives you a whole new feeling and understanding as to what the Yom Tov is about and the reasons for many customs. This sefer really gives flavor to the calendar and he gives reasons why each Yom Tov falls out in a specific month. Bnei Yisaschor is definitely one of those seforim that helps one go through the seasons without doing everything by rote. I feel indebted to this great tzadik for making the Festivals of the year come alive, at least a bit more, for me. This and his other seforim are available in PDF form at HebrewBooks.org.

Dubno Magid Gives Mussar to the Vilna Gaon

17 Teves is the yartzeit of R' Yaakov ben Zev Wolf Kranz ZY"A(1804), the legendary Dubno Magid. He was once asked by R' Eliyahu, the Gaon of Vilna ZY"A, to give him mussar. The Dubno Magid refused, saying, who is he to give musar to the holy Vilna Gaon. The Gaon insisted until the Magid agreed. He said something along the lines of the following: "You get to sit all day indoors learning Torah and davening. What's so difficult about that? You don't have to spend time in the marketplaces with the tests of being honest in business and seeing things in the streets. How well would you fare there?" The holy Gaon broke down crying and said: "You're right. That would be more difficult."
 
The lesson from this is that if we do spend our time in the "outside" world and pass the many tests that we get, we are really accomplishing a huge amount in the spiritual realm. It's not just working anymore but Avodas HaKodesh.

Monday, December 24, 2007

R' Chaim Kreisworth - A Walking Shas

R' Chaim ben R' Avrohom Yosef Kreisworth ZY"A (2001) was one of the great Torah giants of recent times. 16 Teves is his yartzeit. Here is a small story to illustrate how our Torah Sages are so intamately familiar with the words of the Talmud.

 

Chacham Benzion Abba Shaul ZY"A and yblch't Chacham Ovadia Yosef Shlita once went to Belgium together. R' Kreisworth accompanied them back to the airport, for their return trip, and inquired as to the source of the name "Abba Shaul". Chacham Bentzion said that the name came from the Talmudic Sage by that name. Chacham Ovadia mentioned to R' Kresisworth that the first time Abba Shaul is mentioned in Shas is in Brochos at this and this place. R' Kreisworth responded with the second place where Abba Shaul is mentioned. Chacham Ovadia countered with the third place. This went on for some time. How did it come to an end? They were in the middle of Tractate Shabbos when Chacham Ovadia said that in a certain place Abba Shaul is mentioned next. R' Kreisworth responded that one of the meforshim (I think it was Tosafos but I don't remember) say that the Abba Shaul mentioned there is not the same one mentioned elsewhere in Shas. They had a good laugh and bid their farewells.

 

Think about the amout of time spent learning, and with what passion it must have been. Our great Torah leaders literally have Shas, Poskim, etc. on their fingertips. They literally know it the way most people know the names of their family members. So, the next time some mechutzif with a website wants to show how bright he is by "proving" that Gadol Ploni is incorrect in a ruling, think twice. If I may use the analogy, not just anybody can step into the ring with a heavyweight champ. May we be worthy of having great Torah leaders to guide us.

 

Friday, December 21, 2007

13-15 Teves Yartzeits

13 Teves - Rav Moshe ben R' Dovid of Lelov (1850) was the first Chassidishe Rebbe to settle in Yerushalyim. Previously they had settled in Tzfas. The Rizhiner told him that although many great tzadikim moved to Eretz Yisroel previously, their dynasties didn't survive, but Lelov would last till Moshiach comes. R' Moshe said that if he could make it to the Kosel Hamaravi then Moshiach would come. Unfortunately, he never made it there and passed away shortly after his arrival in Eretz Yisroel. He was the son-in-law of the Yid HaKodosh. The Lelover and Bostoner Rebbes are his descendants.
13 Teves - Rav Yitzchak ben R' Asher Anshel Hakohen Huberman, the tzaddik of
Ra'anana (1977)
13 Teves - Rav Yechiel Mordechai Gordon, Rosh Yeshivas Lomza (1965)
13 Teves - R' Shraga Feivush ben R' Boruch Hager of Zelishitshick (1936)
13 Teves - R' Menachem Mendel ben R' Yisroel Hager of Vishiveh (1941) Rosh
Yeshiva of Vizhnitz
13 Teves - R' Tzvi Hersh (Shmelkes) of Ostroh (1789) ben R' Shmuel, talmid of the Baal Shem Tov. He was considered the greatest chosid in Ostrah, was a great mekubal and is the subject of many miraculous stories

14 Teves - R' Alter Elazar Menachem ben R' Moshe Mordechai Biderman of Lelov (2001) Beloved tzadik from Bnei Brak.
14 Teves - R' Reuven Dov Dessler (1935) father of R' Eliyahu Dessler
14 Teves - R' Tzvi Hirsh of Teplik (1928), Breslover Tzadik
14 Teves - R' Mordechai Twersky of Lavoi (1905)

14 Teves - R' Aryeh Moshe Eliyahu ben R' Shmuel Kaplan (1983) author of many seforim and translater of Meam Loez

15 Teves - Mesharshia bar Pakud, Amora
15 Teves - Rav Huna, Amora
15 Teves - Mari bar Mar Zutra, Amora
15 Teves - R' Chaim Mordechai ben R' Itamar Rosenbaum of Nadvorna (1978)

15 Teves - R' Noson Nota Natkin ben R' Asher (1887) was a grandson of the Shaagas Aryeh and son-in-law of R' Yosef Zundel of Salant. Although he lived most of his life in Yerushalayim, he is buried in NY at Union Field Cemetery, (near Rabbi Jacob Joseph) because he died while collecting money for the Yishuv in Eretz Yisroel.

15 Teves - R' Refoel of Barshad (1827) ben R' Yaakov Yukel was from the greatest talmidim of R' Pinchas Koritzer. The website Two Tzaddiks has lots of information on them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Update from Uman

Rabbi Nassan Maimom updates A Simple Jew on the situation in Uman.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Likutei Tefilos

Reb Nachman of Breslov says (Likutei Mohoran II, 25) that it is very good to make prayers out of your Torah study. When one hears or studies Torah, he should ask Hashem to help him fulfill what he learned. Reb Nachman's leading student, Reb Noson Sternhartz, wrote Likutei Tefilos, based on this. He wrote numerous tefilos based on the teachings of Likutei Mohoran and Sichos HaRan. Besides the usual prayers for livelihood, health and children, there are tefilos for thing not usually seen. There are tefilos asking Hashem to help us observe Shabbos properly, for emunah, for help in tefila, for Moshiach, for finding "True Tzadikim", etc. The list goes on and on; prayers for every need. These tefilos are really beautiful; even if you only have a basic understanding of Hebrew, you can see this.

 

Reb Noson said that since the prayers of Likutei Tefilos are now available, one will have to give an accounting for every day that he didn't recite them. Reb Avrohom B'Reb Nachman Chazan said that these tefilos are higher than Ruach HaKodesh, because they come from the 50th Gate of Kedusha. (Kochvei Ohr) Most of all, these tefilos are a way for us to daven to Hashem for thing we may not normally ask for outside of our required thrice daily prayers. This is a good day to start saying thes tefilos, on the yartzeit of the author, Reb Noson of Breslov.

 

Parts of Likutei Tefilos have been translated into English, and are available from Breslov Research Institute. You can see Likutei Tefilos online at the following links:

 

Likutei Tefilos online.

 

PDF of Likutei Tefilos arranged by subject.

Pittsburgher Rebbe Reveals the Loftiest Kavana of the Mikva

10 Teves is the 18th yartzeit of Reb Avrohom Abba Leifer ZY"A, the Pittsburgher Rebbe. His father, Reb Yosef, was a grandson, ben acher ben, of the legendary R' Mordechai of Nadvorna. R' Yosef lived in Pittsburgh for some time, hence the Pittsburgher Chassidus. Reb Avrohom Abba was Rebbe in Pittsburgh and New York before making aliyah to Eretz Yisroel and settling in Ashdod, where the chassidus is currently led by his son, Reb Mordechai Yissachor Ber shlita. Reb Avrohom Abba authored sefer Emunas Avrohom. I don't know a whole lot about him, but from one thing I heard in his name, I believe we can see the greatness of this tzadik.

In Uman, I heard Reb Lazer Brody speak and he said he heard from the Pittsburgher Rebbe the following: As is known, there are many different kabalistic meditations that one can have in the mikvah. The Pittsburgher Rebbe said that the greatest "kavana" one can have in the mikva, better then all the kabalistic meditations, is to think about the person standing outside the mikva because there is no room for him, waiting to go in. That is the greatest "kavana" of the mikva. Rav Brody added that the same applies by Reb Nachman's tzion. In the days around Rosh Hashona, there is a mob of people around the tzion of Reb Nachman 24 hours a day. It is relatively easy to get within a few feet of the tzion, but to actually get right up against it can take along time. Everyone wants an opportunity to be "mishtateiach" on the tzion. There is much pushing and jockeying for position, but once someone leans against the tzion, no one touches him. So, Rav Brody said, when you get to the tzion, spend a short amount of time and let the next one go. Even if you're not directly at the tzion, it's just as good, and by letting someone else have a turn, that is the best "kavana".

For someone who understood the loftiness of kabalistic meditations to make such a statement shows the great Ahavas Yisroel that the Pittsburgher Rebbe had. This is along the lines of what the Mesilas Yesharim speaks about in the chapter of "Mishkal Hachasidus" (chapter 20), which basically says not to be a "tzadik" on account of someone else. The Ramchal says that if "not doing" will do more to sanctify the Name of Hashem than "doing", then you must refrain from "doing". Don't mistake this with actual obligations which must be done no matter what. But, to try to better ourselves, by going beyond the law, on account of someone else is not "Chassidus". This small statement of the Pittsburgher Rebbe, speaks volumes about the tzadik, and is a lesson that can teach us all volumes. Zchuso Yogen Aleinu!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

10-13 Teves Yartzeits

10 Teves - Zecharia ben Berachya ben Idu Hanavi
10 Teves - Malachi Hanavi, end of the era of prophecy (317 B.C.E.)
10 Teves - R' Nosson ben R' Naftali Hertz Sternhartz of Breslov (1844), the leading talmid of R' Nachman of Breslov, compiler and author of many seforim 
10 Teves - R' Raphael Wexelbaum, Rosh Yeshiva of Itri
10 Teves - R' Avraham Abba ben R' Yosef Leifer (1989), Pittsburgher Rebbe, lived in Pittsburgh and New York before moving to Ashdod in Eretz Yisroel

11 Teves - R' Shlomo Eiger, author of Gilyon Maharsha (1852) son of R' Akiva Eiger
11 Teves - R' Yehoshua ben R' Meir Horowitz of Dzikov, author of Ateres Yeshua (1912)
11 Teves - R' Yaakov Yosef Shlomo ben R' Chaim Dov Halperin of Vasoloi-Tel Aviv (1984) descendant of R' Yisroel of Ruzhin

12 Teves - R' Moshe Margulies, author of Pnei Moshe on Talmud Yerushalmi (1781) Rebbe of the Vilna Gaon
12 Teves - R' Moshe Halevi "Sofer" of Peshvarsk (1805) Talmid of the Magid of Mezritch
12 Teves - R' Mordechai Chaim ben R' Yehuda Leib Kastelanitz of Slonim (1953) was one of the closest of the talmidim of the Slonimer Rebbes

 

Reb Noson of Breslov

Rabbi Lazer Brody at Reb Noson's Tzion
(photo courtesy of Emuna Outreach)

10 Teves, Asarah B’Teves, is the yartzeit of Reb Noson ben R’ Naftali Hertz Sternhartz ZY”A, the leading talmid of Reb Nachman of Breslov ZY”A. Here are several beautiful articles have been put together in honor of his yartzeit:

Rebbe Natan’s Yahrtzeit – 3 Articles

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tenth of Teves - A Major Fast Day

The Abudraham says that if the fast of 10 Teves, Asarah B'Teves, would fall out on Shabbos, we would still fast, just like by Yom Kippur. (According to the way our calendar is presently set up this can't occur.) Why by this fast, specifically, does it say we need to fast? Asarah B'Teves, after all, is always thought of as a very "minor" fast. After reading what the Bnei Yisaschor (Kislev Teves, 14) says about this, my whole outlook on this "minor" fast day changed, and I hope it will have more meaning this year.

 

In Gemara Taanis 29a there is a discussion why the fast of Av is on the ninth of the month, when the burning of the Beis Hamikdash started; it should be on the tenth, when most of the burning took place? The reason we do fast on the ninth is that the beginning of the destruction is what counts more. Similarly, says the Bnei Yisaschor, the tenth of  was the beginning of the siege on Yerusholayim that culminated in the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash on Tisha B'Av three years later. Therefore, this fast day is actually very important and we would actually fast on Shabbos if it would fall out then. Furthermore, the month of Teves is connected to Shevet Dan, who were the ones involved with the avodah zora of Pesel Micha. (see Shoftim 18)

 

One final thought. Asara B'Teves is the fast day with the least amount of daytime; consequently, it has the most hours of darkness. Tisha B'Av and Shiva Asar B'Tamuz have the smallest amount of night hours, but the most amount of daytime. As is known, "night" represents golus; "day" represents geulah. Asarah B'Teves, has the most "nighttime", indicating that there was much destruction to come. In the fasts of Tamuz and Av, when the actual destruction took place, Hashem was indicating to us that there is less "darkness" and more "daylight", a positive sign to us of the ultimate redemption, which will be a time of light. May it happen speedily in our days. Amen!

Friday, December 14, 2007

6-9 Teves Yartzeits

6 Teves - R' Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam of Shiniva (1895) ben R' Chaim of Sanz, author of Divrei Yechezkel
6 Teves - R' Yaakov Reischer, author of Chok Yaakov and Shvus Yaakov

7 Teves - R' Moshe Dovid Vally, talmid of the Ramchal, who wrote a Kabalistic peirush on Tanach
7 Teves - R' Boruch of Kaminka, talmid of the Baal Shem Tov
7 Teves - R' Tzvi of Mezhibuz-Pinsk (1779) ben R' Yisroel Baal Shem Tov
7 Teves - R' Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izhbitza (1878) ben R' Yaakov
 
8 Teves - R' Yechezkel HaLevi Halshtuk HY"D of Ostrovtza (1942) ben R' Yechiel Meir (some have the date as 10 Teves)
8 Teves - R' Shmuel Hellman (1765) was the Rov of Metz, France

9 Teves - Ezra Hasofer (320 B.C.E.)
9 Teves - Nechemia ben Chachilya (372 B.C.E.)
9 Teves - R' Yehosef HaLevy (1067) ben R' Shmuel HaNagid
9 Teves - R' Ezra (1227), one of the Baalei Tosefos and Rebbe of the Ramban
9 Teves - R' Avrohom Chaim Shur (1632) author of Tzon Kedoshim

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

4-5 Teves Yartzeits

4 Teves - R' Gershon Chanoch Henoch Leiner of Radzin (1890) ben R' Yaakov of Izhbitza was the The Baal Hatecheles and author of many seforim

4 Teves - R' Chaim Shaul HaKohen Dweck (1933) One of the great Syrian mekubalim of Yerushalayim. Rosh Yeshiva of Beit El.
4 Teves - R' Yaakov Shaul Kassin, head of New York Syrian community
4 Teves - R' Mordechai Pinchos Teitz (1995), Rov of Elizabeth, New Jersey.


5 Teves - R' Shlomo Molcho HY"D (1534), arrested by the Inquisition in Spain, he recited
Shema with great joy as he was burned at the stake.

5 Teves - R' Ahron of Titiev (1828) ben R' Tzvi ben R' Yisroel Baal Shem Tov

5 Teves - R' Avrohom Yaakov ben R' Yisroel Friedman of Sadigur (1960)

5 Teves - R' Yerachmiel Tzvi ben R' Yechiel Yehoshua Rabinowitz (2003) Biala-Peshischa Rebbe of Har Nof

 

Reb Yitzchok Mayer Morgenstern on Chochma & Bina - Final 2 Parts

See the last two parts of Dixie Yid's translation of R' Itchie Mayer Morgenstern's piece on how the sefiros of Chochma and Bina manifest themselves in modern Jewish communities.
Part 7

Part 8

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Chanuka Segulas

The Gemara (Shabbos 23b) says that one who habitually lights candles will have sons that are Talmidei Chachomim. Rashi explains that the posuk (Mishlei 6, 23) says כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה וְתוֹרָה אוֹר - "the candle is a mitzvah and the Torah is light". By lighting candles of mitzvah, Shabbos candles and the Chanuka Menorah, one will merit what the Gemara says.


After Kindling the Menorah

The Baal Shem Tov to say וִיהִי נֹעַם and יֹשֵׁב בְּסֵתֶר עֶלְיוֹן, (last posuk of Tehilim 90, and the whole Chapter 91, with the last posuk of chapter 91 repeated twice) 7 times after lighting the Menorah. This is a segula to protect from many calamities. (Ramban says to say each word 7 times, but I haven't seen anyone do it like that. I've only seen people saying the whole chapter 7 times.)


Healing - Refuah

Chanuka is connected to the sefira of "Hod", because there are 10 sefiros, and the 8th is Hod, making the connection to Chanuka, which is 8 days. In the brocha of Yotzer Hameoros, before Shema of Shachris, it says (according to the Nusach of the Arizal, which would include Nusach Sefard and Edut HaMizrach): כִּי הוּא לְבַדּו (1)מָרום (2)וְקָדושׁ (3)פּועֵל גְּבוּרות (4)עושה חֲדָשׁות (5)בַּעַל מִלְחָמות (6)זורֵעַ צְדָקות (7)מַצְמִיחַ יְשׁוּעות (8)בּורֵא רְפוּאות (9)נורָא תְהִלּות (10)אֲדון הַנִּפְלָאות. According to the Kavonos in the Siddur, each one of these praises of Hashem corresponds to another sefira (1-Keser, 2-Chochma, 3-Binah, 4-Chesed, 5-Gevurah, 6-Tiferes, 7-Netzach, 8-Hod, 9- Yesod, 10-Malchus), making the 8th praise, בּורֵא רְפוּאות - "Creator of cures", correspond to Hod. This makes Chanuka an auspicious time for bringing about healing.


In Shulchan Aruch (570, 2) it says that eating a meal for Chanuka is a
סעודת הרשות, a non-obligatory meal. Chazal (Berachos 60a) say that Hashem gave רשות (permission) for doctors to heal. This is what סעודת הרשות alludes to; eating a special meal in honor of Chanuka, which is a special time for healing, can bring about healing. (Shaar Yisaschor, Yimei Orah 72)


Remembrance of Barren Women

Chanuka, and especially the last day, Zos Chanuka, is an auspicious time for the remembrance of barren women, just like Rosh Hashona. One allusion to this is that מתתיהו is numerically equal to ראש השנה. (Bnei Yisaschor, Chanuka 2, 10)


Zos Chanuka - Teshuvah

The days of Chanuka, as brought in many seforim, is the actual final judgment period from Rosh Hashona, making the last day, called Zos Chanuka, because of the Torah reading that day, the final day of judgment.


Reb Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov in Sefer Deverim Nechmadim (Chanuka, 4) brings proof from the Zohar that Chanuka is a time of Teshuva M'Ahava, repentance out of love for Hashem.


Reb Yisroel of Ruzhin, as quoted by his son, Reb Avrohom Yaakov of Sadiger, says that a simple Jew can receive from Hashem on Zos Chanuka, what Tzadikim can on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. (Ner Yisroel 2, 18)


Reb Eliezer of Dzhikov says in the name of Reb Elazar of Lizensk (son of the Noam Elimelech) that Zos Chanuka is an especially auspicious time. (Reb Itzikil of Peshavrsk)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Playing Cards & Klipos - Well Connected

One shouldn't use the shamash for a disgusting use, and certainly not for levity, by playing cards, chas v'chalilah. (Ba'er Heitiv 573:7)

 

Certainly, one will have to stand judgement for the terrible sin of playing cards by the light of the shamash. (Kav Hayoshor 96)

 

Every man that fears the word of Hashem, should keep his sons, from when they're young, from these klipos, cards. (Yesod Veshoresh Ha'Avodah 12:1)

 

Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev says: Due to our many sins, a terrible breach has been made among Acheinu Beis Yisroel to play with cards. It's a light thing in their eyes, but it's known that in each card there is definitely a big klipa… There are many downfalls from this:

1) You lose fear of Hashem.

2) In my eyes you are definitely a thief.

3) You make yourself tamei with klipos that shouldn't even be mentioned. (Kedushas Levi, Chanuka – "Yadua")

 

Here we see the greatness of the prohibition, and the damage of the soul that comes from playing cards, קרטן (which is the numerical value of שטן)… (Bnei Yisaschor, Kislev 4:90 Hagah)

 

The Chidushei HaRim of Ger said over the following story one Chanuka night by candle lighting: One Chanuka, someone gave the Chozeh of Lublin a kvitel with the name of a friend on it. The Chozeh looked at it and spit. A while later he handed the kvitel to the Chozeh again. This time the Chozeh looked at the name and said: "this person is illuminating the world". He then added: "before, when you handed me the kvitel, your friend was playing cards; now he's lighting the Chanuka menorah." (Sipurei Chassidim)

 

I am defiantly not one to tell people what they should or shouldn't do; everyone has their own yetzer hora and I don't judge anyone. HOWEVER, don't come and try to make it into a religious thing to go play cards on Chanukah. Some people actually have it in their head that this is a special "frum", or perhaps "heimishe" thing to do on Chanukah. The Seforim Hakedoshim, as mentioned above, are pretty straight forward about the terrible klipos that come from playing cards. Ironically, many of these same people run around to mekubalim trying to get rid of the klipos that they brought on themselves. On Chanukah, of all times, when we celebrate victory over outside influences, is the most ridiculous time for one to go and play cards. Besides, it's also the final judgment period; would anyone play cards on Yom Kippur? May we all be worthy of seeing the Ohr Haganuz, the hidden light, this Chanukah. G'mar Chasima Tova!

Chanukah Yartzeits

25 Kislev - R' Avrohom Mordechai Nissim Harari Raful (1991)
25 Kislev - R' Yochanan ben R' Dovid Mordechai Twersky of Tolna (1998)
25 Kislev - R' Shlomo Zalman (1758), father of the Vilna Gaon (1758)
25 Kislev - R' Avrohom (1808), son of R' Eliyahu, the Vilna Gaon (1808)
25 Kislev - R' Chaim Chizkiyahu ben R' Refoel Eliyahu Medini (1904), Sdei Chemed
25 Kislev - R' Yaakov Etlinger (1871), author of Aruch Lener and Binyan
Tzion

26 Kislev - R' Avrohom bar Dovid, the Raavad, Baal Hasagos (1197)
26 Kislev - R' Yehoshua Zelig Diskin, Rov of Pardes Chana (1970)
26 Kislev - R' Elazar ben R' Moshe Elyokim Briah of Koznitz (1861)
26 Kislev - R' Yosef ben R' Ahron Perlow of Koidenov (1915) Descendant, ben acher ben from the Lechovitcher.

27 Kislev - R' Chaim ben R' Shlomo of Tchernowitz (1816) author of Be'er Mayim
Chaim, Sidduro Shel Shabbos and others.
27 Kislev - R' Avrohom Yitzchok ben R' Ahron Dovid Kohn, the Toldos Aharon
Rebbe (1996) son-in-law of R' Ahron Roth, the Shomer Emunim

28 Kislev- R' Uziel Meizlish of Ritshval ben R' Tzvi Hirsch (1785) talmid of
the Magid of Mezrotch and author of many seforim, including Tiferes
Uziel, Eitz Hadaas Tov and Menorah Hatehorah
28 Kislev - R' Boruch Dovid ben R' Mordechai Dov Twersky of Hornesteipil (1925)
28 Kislev - R' Moshe Torgeman, a Rebbe of Baba Sali

29 Kislev - R' Chizkiyah diSilva, author of Pri Chodosh
29 Kislev - R' Avrohom Meyuchas (1767) Great Mekubal and Posek in Eretz Yisroel
29 Kislev - R' Gedalia ben R' Yitzchok of Linitz (1803) The Baal Shem Tov, who he saw several times, regarded him very highly. Talmid of the Toldos Yaakov Yosef and the Mochiach of Polonya. R' Nachman Breslover held of him very highly as can be seen from Likutei Moharan 14, which was originally given over after R' Gedalia's passing.
29 Kislev - R' Avrohom ben R' Nachman Chazan (1907), leader of Breslov after R' Noson. He wrote many seforim, including Kochvei Ohr and Biur Halikutim on Likutei Mohoran.
29 Kislev - R' Shlomo of Vilna, author of Cheshek Shlomo
29 Kislev - R' Tzvi Mordechai ben R' Avrohom Moshe of Peshischa (1866) son-in-law of R' Yitzchok of Vorka
29 Kislev - R' Yisroel ben R' Mordechai Shraga Feivish of Husyatin (1948) See
this famous story.
29 Kislev - R' Shlomo Dovid Kahana of Warsaw-Yerushalayim, Known as the "Father of
agunos"
29 Kislev - Rav Zushe Waltner, Rosh Yeshiva in Sunderland and Tangier

30 Kislev - R' Dovid Halberstam of Sokolov (1939) ben R' Moshe of Shiniva, the son of the Divrei Yechezkel of Shiniva. He is buried in Queens, NY at
Union Field Cemetery.
30 Kislev - R' Elazar ben R' Shlomo Yehuda Weitzhandler (1984) one of the Chashuvei Breslov
30 Kislev - R' Nochum ben R' Yehonoson Starkis (If this is the correct one. I saw the name also written as Nachman) Legendary figure in Breslov. He was tortured by the Russian communists y's' but made it to Eretz Yisroel.
30 Kislev - R' Dovid Oppenheim, Av Bes Din of Reznitz

1 Teves - Avrohom Avinu (Bava Basra 91a). 1 Tishrei or Nissan according
to others (Moed Katan 28a)
1 Teves - R' Yair Chaim ben R' Moshe Shimshon Bachrach (1702) author of Chavos Yair and Rov of Worms. He was a descendant of the Maharal.
1 Teves - R' Yosef Hamaaravi, Baal Mofes and talmid of the Arizal, buried in Kfar Elchamama in
Tunisia
1 Teves - R' Avrohom Moshe ben R' Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (1828)
1 Teves - R' Moasoud Refoel Alfasi (1774) Great tzadik of Morocco and Tunisia

2 Teves - R' Yaakov Ibn Tzur, author of Mishpat U'Tzedaka L'Yaakov

3 Teves - R' Chaim Leib ben R' Refoel Alter Shmuelevitz (1978), Legendary Rosh Yeshiva of the Mirrer Yeshiva
3 Teves - R' Avrohom ben R' Yehuda Tzvi Brandwein of Stretin (1864)




Breslov Mesorah

See what Rabbi Dovid Sears has to say about "The Breslov Mesorah" at A Simple Jew.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Wisdom & Simplicity

See my guest post at A Simple Jew on Wisdom and Simplicity.
 
A Simple Jew asks: The Tcheriner Rav once wrote, "Paradoxically, only by restraining the desire for wisdom and choosing to serve G-d with simplicity can one acquire the ability to grasp the perceptions that formerly remained beyond his ken." In your opinion, what practical steps could a person take to implement this advice?
See here for my response.