Time for Mechila: nobody is perfect

This statement most certainly includes me. When writing my blog posts, I’ve occasionally unintentionally upset someone or have been misunderstood given the fact that perhaps I unwisely tend not to spend too much time actually writing my posts or proof-reading them. Sometimes people send me a private email, and I act on it. Other times they send me a fake comment and when I try to reply, it bounces because there is no such address. Given that it’s Erev Yom Kippur, if there is a current or past post that you feel is unfair or has stepped over a halachic boundary, I ask you sincerely to email me, and most certainly, if it is a real email address and doesn’t bounce, I will reply accordingly. I chanced across a comment about two? years ago where someone said I had it in for Rav Beck of Adass. Let me be very clear. Rav Beck is a holy man, a Yirei Shomayim,

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matos masei 

After Jewish men illegally consorted with Midianite women, we find a strange offer from the sinners. Instead of the usual animal or flour/incense based sacrifices, they suggest that atonement for their sins should be granted by bringing the jewellery and concealed body ornaments proudly adorning the Midianite women and used to cajole them to a sordid bed of iniquity. This is a most strange and irregular “sacrifice”. From whence did they assume that such a notion would be acceptable? The sons of Aaron died for bringing a “strange fire” as a sacrifice! There was no Torah precedent for this style of offering to atone for the injunction against iniquitous cohabitation. Precious Jewellery represents the enticement embodied by the physical being. Man and Woman are attracted to beauty. This, in of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, without appreciation of such, there might be no procreation. The danger is born when physicality alone conceals and constricts the spiritual essence and

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Beautiful D’var Torah on Shlach

[hat tip MT] “And [the spies] began to speak badly about the land that they had explored.” (Num. 13:32) A dispirited discussion took place at Beit HaRav, Rav Kook’s house in Jerusalem, not long after the end of World War II. The Chief Rabbi had passed away ten years earlier; now it was his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who sat at the head of the table. One participant at the Sabbath table had brought up a disturbing topic: the phenomenon of visitors touring Eretz Yisrael and then criticising the country after returning to their homes. These visitors complain about everything: the heat, the poverty, the backwardness, the political situation – and discourage other Jews from moving here, he lamented. Rav Tzvi Yehudah responded by telling the following parable, one he had heard in the name of the famed Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever, the rabbi of Bialystok. The Failed Match There was once a wealthy man who sought the hand of a

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Which accent in Ivrit/Ivris did Rav Kook prefer

It may come as a shock to some, but Rav Kook was vehemently against anyone changing their pronunciation. Rav Kook acutely felt that the issue of 12 gates/approaches to the Beis Hamikdosh, despite the concept of Shaar Hakolell (the 13th gate for those who knew not what their tradition was, and which the Ari felt was his Nusach, and which the B’aal HaTanya refined) was Kodesh Kodoshim. If your father/grandfather pronounced things a certain way and/or followed a certain Nusach, Rav Kook was implacably against the Ben Yehuda approach of creating a universal style new pronunciation. This is known by anyone who spoke with Rav Kook. Rav Kook preferred to speak in Loshon Kodesh. That’s another matter. I feel though that people need to understand that this icon of Jewish Rabbinic History was far less malleable despite his extreme and burning Ahavas Yisrael and Ahavas HaTorah and Eretz HaKodesh than people realise. Certainly Poskim including Reb Moshe and the Minchas

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The Hetter Mechira for Shmitta (Part 2)

[Hat tip from RDS] If you can read Hebrew you will understand how they have taken Rav Kook and twisted his words, as they always have and always will. And why? Two reasons: he loved the Land, and he loved all Jews, both with a fiery enthusiasm. As I recall the Ridbaz below was from Tzfas Ir HaKodesh. The emphases in bold are mine. ט.        משגלה העם היהודי מארצו, ובהיעדר חקלאות יהודית משמעותית בארץ בימי הגלות, כמעט שלא עמדה על הפרק – במובן לאומי אופרטיבי – שאלת השמיטה; עם זאת מוצאים אנו פולמוסים בעניינה בעת חידוש היישוב היהודי בצפת במאה הט”ז, וחילוקי דעות לא מעטים בין פוסקי הלכה (ראו הרב זוין, שם קי”ג-קט”ז). ואולם, משהחלה בשנות השמונים למאה הי”ט הקמתן של המושבות היהודיות (מושבות העליה הראשונה), שהתפרנסו מחקלאות ונתקיים בהן “ואתם הרי ישראל ענפכם תתנו ופריכם תשאו לעמי ישראל כי קרבו לבוא” (יחזקאל ל”ו, ח), עלתה שאלת השמיטה לראשונה בשנת תרמ”ב-1882, ובמלוא עוזה בשנת תרמ”ט-1888. המושבות, שחלק ניכר מאיכריהן היו

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The Heter Mechira in Shmitta

This may come as a surprise to the nidertrechtikte soinim of Rav Kook, but the common fallacy is that when he became Chief Rabbi of Yaffo-Tel Aviv, he introduced the Heter Mechira. This is of course one of a string of lies and distortions that Israel/ZIONIST hating so called Frummer Hungarians in Israel would have you gullibly swallow to this day. But their world isn’t a world of Torah even remotely approaching the supreme and holy Tzadik that Rav Kook was, so I am not surprised that they peddled and continue to peddle their outright lies and disrespect for a very holy Rov.

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Who are the Gedolay HaTorah

The following is an editorial from Arutz Sheva in 2012 based on the view of Rav Eliezer Melamed, Rosh Yeshiva of Har Bracha Occasionally, people from the hareidi community question or attack my articles. Even though they are well aware that I strive to follow in the path of Maran Harav Kook zt”l, nevertheless they argue: “Why don’t you accept the authority of the Gedolei haTorah (eminent Torah scholars)?” The simple answer is: I don’t consider them Gedolei haTorah. They definitely are important talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars) whose fear of sin precedes their wisdom, educate many disciples, and it is a mitzvah to respect them. But they are not Gedolei haTorah. Gadlute beTorah (Torah greatness, eminence) necessitates an all-embracing, fully accountable handling of serious issues facing the generation, including: the attitude towards Am Yisrael in all its diversity and various levels – both religious, and non-religious; the attitude towards mitzvoth of yishuv haaretz (settling the Land) and the on-going war which has surrounded it for over a century;

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Dvar Torah for Shoftim

Tomorrow, is Rav Kook’s ז’ל Yohr Tzeit, so it is fitting that the Dvar Torah includes his thoughts, The Dvar Torah is from one of the Roshei Yeshivah of Kerem B’Yavneh (my alma mater), Rav Motti Greenberg. Ironically, last night at Ma’ariv, there were a few international Tzedoka collectors from Israel in Shule. I was in my usually “straight ahead” mood, and asked one of them (a Chossid, with peyos) What are your thoughts on Nachal Charedi His responded with a pained look and said Anyone who supports Nachal Charedi should not be allowed to enter a Shule The problem with people like that is that they think that when they go to the toilet, it doesn’t stink. They live in la la land. He effectively stated that I had no place davening Ma’ariv in Shule if I thought Nachal Charedi was a valid approach.  I said, well, I support them, and you don’t come up to the level of their shoe

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Yair Lapid goes too far

I don’t feel programmed to reject everything Yair proposes, nor do I feel that I should accept his proposals because “democracy is a religion”. With that in mind, the article below from Yediot, if reported accurately, demonstrates poor arguments. Using Grandad as an example, is nice emotive politics but it doesn’t make it a better argument. Yair, what you need to tell us is what Sabbath does mean in the context of a Jewish State albeit in a Secular neighbourhood. Does it mean that children can’t pick up their grandfather? Does it mean that grandparents should come over and stay with their families and vice versa on Sabbath Does it mean that in a Secular area Sabbath is no different to any other day when one walks out on the Street? Does it mean that in a country where there is no Sunday, [I am a very strong supporter of a Sunday in Israel, as this not only will enhance

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New Science and Prophecy

“If the New Science brags that it has been liberated from Theology, it must know that by the same token, Theology has been freed of Science, which bound her in human chains. However, certainly a new name is required for the sublime subject, not a name coined by men, but a new name given by God. Theology freed of the fetters of Science is Prophecy, the treasure of Israel, which will be revealed to us soon” Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook ז’ל, ‘Arpiley Tohar’, page 40.

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The Cloud of Torah and Geulah (Redemption)

The following Dvar Torah is from the current Rosh Yeshivah of Kerem B’Yavneh, Rav Motti Greenberg. Back in the day’s when I was at KBY, Rav Motti was a Ram and senior member of the Kollel. I remember that he never sat up top near my Rosh Yeshivah Rav Goldvicht ז’ל because Rav Goldvicht insisted that those who sat on the מזרח wall near him, had to wear the clothing of a Talmid Chacham (which included a hat). Rav Motti felt that either a hat had passed its used-by-date as a Levush (piece of clothing) or that he wasn’t sufficiently a Talmid Chacham. The rumour was that the former was the main reason. I recall that in those days he wore a suit on Shabbos but always had an open neck (without a tie) and the collar was folded out over the outside of his suit lapel. When I met him a few years ago after many years, that’s exactly

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Drinking on Purim

Rav Kook gave the following Dvar Torah in his Siddur, עולת ראי’’ה  : The Talmud in Megillah 12a states that the near destruction of the Jews in the time of Ahasuerus was a punishment for participating in the royal banquet and bowing down to the Persian idols. What led them to perform these disloyal acts? The Jews of that era thought that the root cause of anti-Semitism was due to xenophobic hatred of their distinct culture and religion. As Haman explained his rationale for destroying them: “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people; neither do they keep the king’s laws.” (Esther 3:8) In order to overcome this hatred, the Jews decided it would be prudent to adopt the customs of their idolatrous neighbors. They demonstrated their allegiance as loyal Persian subjects by attending the royal banquet and bowing down

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This should happen once a month

I applaud R’ Metzger for this initiative, although, I believe that this was originally the journey undertaken by Rav Kook ז’ל in 1913. Bridging gaps is efficacious; spitting and sending to the back of the bus, breeds resentment. Just to name drop, R’ Metzger sat a few rows behind me at Kerem B’Yavneh, although he was in fifth year, as I recall. The story is told of how Rav Kook, upon one of his visits to an anti-religious kibbutz, was approached by one of the leaders who greeted him as follows: “With all due respect Rabbi, you shouldn’t waste your time trying to convince us to be religious. It’s not that we don’t know what Torah is, most of us were raised in observant homes. We know Torah, rabbis, mitzvot and we don’t like them!” Rav Kook questioned,”Why?” The kibbutznik replied: “We simply can’t stand your old-fashioned, meaningless, outdated rituals!” Exclaimed Rav Kook, “I agree”. “What?”, asked the surprised rebel.

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On the יום הילולא of Rav Kook זי’’ע

The following is republished without permission from OROT Vol. 1 5751/1991 by Joshua Hoffman In March, 1924, Rav Avraham Yitzhak Hakohen Kook came to America as part of a rabbinic delegation whose purpose was to raise funds for Torah institutions in Eretz Yisrael and Europe. The other members of the delegation were, Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein, head of the Slabodka Yeshiva, and Rav Avraham Dov Baer Kahana Shapiro, the Rav of Kovno (Kaunas) and president of the Agudat Ha-Rabbanim of Lithuania. The three rabbis were brought to America by the Central Committee for the Relief of Jews Suffering Through the War, better known as the Central Relief Committee (CRC). The Central Relief Committee was founded by leaders of the Agudat Ha-Rabbanim, the Union of American Orthodox Congregations, and other Orthodox Jews on October 8, 1914, to raise funds for the assistance of the masses of Jews overseas left homeless and impoverished as a result of the upheavals of World War I. On

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Gedolim and Rav Kook ז’ל

I received an email from a reader who asked if all that stuff mentioned in a comment by Yisroel was true. We need to understand the times. The difference between the secular zionists and the haskolo was miniscule, except that the latter were not nationalistic. Accordingly, they removed themselves from the yoke of heaven, tried to assimilate and removed themselves from their land. Rav Kook was wise and spiritual enough to understand that the secular zionists, by virtue of still being associated with the land, were associating with Kedusha. Once a Neshama is touched by such Kedusha there is every chance it can be further stirred and influenced. Rav Kook, accordingly, never turned his back on secular zionists. Many other Gedolim, and here it spans most groups including Chabad via the Rashab, thought that the secular zionists were a dead loss and one had to fight them with polemics and protestation. Rav Kook fought them with love; he overcame many

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Is this why the Geula is delayed?

This never ceases to shake me up. I did a nice wedding last night. There were  a number of members of the local Adass Israel congregation present. Most were the modern/litvish type but a number were your run of the mill hungarian chassidim from Adass. They are unmistakeable because they stare. They stare and stare at you. Their kids stare at you. Only their wives don’t stare, but that’s because you can’t see :-) I went outside to have a breather during the main course (and to hear the cricket score) and two young guys, probably abut 25 years of age were standing nearby. I asked them what type of chassidim they were: the first was Satmar and the second was Munkacz. I asked the Satmar guy if he had read any of the rejoinders to ויואל משה the well-known critique of Zionism by the first Satmar Rebbe, R’ Yoel ז’ל.   He said he had heard of them but

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