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Thought for the Day: A Deep Dive into T'vila

I said that I don't know how some people got the idea they could use keili that requires t'vila once before toveling (Toveling Keilim on Shabbos).  I didn't mean that I had no inkling of how such a preposterous rumor got started, I just meant that I didn't know with certainty.  Several people commented to me that they knew, and all said basically the same idea.  Still, I wasn't completely convinced till one person told me that Facebook had conducted a survey of 100 people, and that's the answer they all gave.  I didn't even know you could run a survey on Facebook and I was shocked to learn that this chaver of mine even knew that much about Facebook.

Still and all... good enough proof for me.  So know I know; it is a misconception about disposable aluminum pans.  Let's get some facts and debunk this myth.

To require t'vila, an object must be:
A halachic keili.  The term "keili" is very broad.  Of course it includes kitchen utensils, tools, a…

Thought for the Day: Moving Muktzeh Indirectly; Heter of Kikar o Tinok

Chlorine is a greenish gas (at room temperature) that is highly toxic; in fact, it was used as one of the first chemical weapons in modern times by the Germans in World War I (The War That Didn't End All Wars).  Sodium is a grey/silver metal that burns on contact with air and will explode on contact with water; it has been used for centuries in sea to sea battles.  Lovely stuff, each of them on their own.  Combine them, though, and you get ordinary table salt; quite tame and even tasty.  (Hang on... salt is linked to hypertension, aka the silent killer; so I guess they didn't completely change their spots, just went from violent to subversive.)

When I still had children around the Shabbos table, we would learn some simple halachos of Shabbos each week at the s'uda (usually the evening s'uda, sometimes lunch also).  When we finished Shmiras Shabbos k'Hilchaso, we worked on Muktza.  You may be thinking, "aargh... that sounds so dreary."  Maybe so.  And how …

Thought for the Day: You Either Take Control of Yourself or You Are Part of the System

Here are two ways to describe how you drive a car.  One: press on the accelerator pedal to go faster, press on the brake pedal to go slower, turn the steering wheel when you want to change direction.  Two: when you press on the accelerator pedal, the throttle valve opens to increase the rate of air flow into the piston cylinders and the ECU (engine control unit) increases of the rate of fuel to match the increased air flow, the valves in the engine allow in a measured quantity of fuel/air mix, which is then ignited by the ignition system, resulting in a controlled explosion that pushes down on the piston, which in turn pushes on the piston rod, which in turn pushes on the crankshaft, which converts that translational motion into rotary motion, which turns a shaft in the transmission, which adjusts for speed and torque to transfer that motion the wheels, upon which are rubber tires that push back on the pavements, translating that rotational motion back to a translational motion propel…

Thought for the Day: Toveling Keilim on Shabbos

When you've been married as long as I have, there is a lot of non-verbal communication going on; must of which is lost on passers-by.  Take this morning, for example; I could just tell that my wife was hankering for a little halacha pop quiz.  (Sometimes I am so sensitive to her aura that I get these feeling about what she wants even before she does; and even afterward she may still not realize that that was her ratzon.  She is very lucky to have me, let me tell you.)  So I asked her, "How many strips of bacon are you allowed to eat?"  "Uh... zero...", she answered.  So far so good.  "Ok; how many bites of cheeseburger are you allowed to take?"  "I am going to still go with zero."  She's amazing, eh?  "Ok... here's a hard one, now: how many times are you allowed to use a keili before toveling it?"  "Zero, of course."

This came up in discussion of what do to about a new keili that you need to Shabbos but didn't…

Thought for the Day: Why We Need Permission to Let a Doctor Heal Us

Here's the scene.  The NASA computer system is down and the space station (with full a full crew) is out of control.  Without ground control guidance, the space station is in danger of either flying off into space or spiraling down into the atmosphere; death for the crew by freezing or incineration -- neither very attractive.  The janitor, seeing all the commotion, speaks up to the assembled scientists and engineers: "I am pretty good with machines; I've keep our washing machine and vacuum cleaner going for years!  Let me try a few things."  I am not a betting man, but odds are that they'll call security before letting that lunatic anywhere near the computers.

So why do you let a physician near you?  Your body is orders of magnitude more complex than the world's most sophisticated computer system, and much more poorly understood.  The most brilliant minds in the world know a bare fraction of what's going on in the human body; much, much less than that jan…

Thought for the Day: Olam HaBah -- Part III of Why It Matters, What It Is, How to Get There

It was the 60s; free love, if it feels good do it, down with the establishment, don't trust the man, etc, etc, etc.  There were still cigarette ads on TV, people in movies and TV smoked, and Surgeon General's warning was given about as much attention as "Don't Text and Drive" is given today.  Even so, they didn't sell cigarettes to 10 years olds; not in my neighborhood, anyway.  That is, not unless you had a note from your dad.  My dad still smoked in those days and he would sometimes have me write the note, which he would then sign, and then I'd go off to get his smokes.

When I was 12 or so I received a chemistry set for my birthday (thanks, grandpa!).  I would often go to the local drugstore to purchase chemicals for new experiments.  At some point I decided it would be fun to make gun powder (being smart doesn't make you wise), but sulfur was a "controlled" substance.  No problem, I thought, I'll ask my Dad for a note.  One little pro…

Thought for the Day: Olam HaBah -- Part II of Why It Matters, What It Is, How to Get There

He [R' Yaakov] used to say, one moment of t'shuva and good deeds in this world is as beautiful as olam haba; the smallest pleasure of a single moment of Olam HaBah is more beautiful that all the lives of this world.  - Pirkei Avos 4:22 There appears to be an obvious problem here.  One moment of each is worth all (or more) of the other?  Besides that logic consistency issue, there is also the fact that time is only relevant to this world.  What does it mean "a moment" ("sha'ah achas", just so you don't think it's a translation problem) of Olam HaBah mean?

Parshas v'yechi begins with telling us that Yaakov is approaching his last moments on earth, but it uses a funny expression: they days of Yisrael's life convened ("yikr'vu") to die.  The Ohr Chaim haKodesh explains that each day/moment of our lives is actually an eternal dimension or our soul.  We experience it as a single moment in this world and our actions/thoughts/feel…

Thought for the Day: Olam HaBah -- Part I of Why It Matters, What It Is, How to Get There

One of the first reforms of substance instituted by the Reform Jewish Religion was to modify the second bracha of the sh'mone esrei from "m'chayei ha'meisim" (resurrects the dead) to "m'chayei ha'kol" (gives life to everything).  They made a lot of non-substantive changes also -- things like sitting together and driving on Shabbos; which are just yeitzer ha'rahs -- but this was a biggy.  What is so different about this one?  The statement is still true, and it's a heck of a lot easier to say for folks who don't like talking about death, heaven, hell, and the like.  And, after all, that stuff about after death is just faith, anyway.  Right; that's the problem.  It changes the way we live our lives.

I commute to work on my bicycle.  It's not the same kind of experience as renting a bike for an hour on a beautiful spring day and taking a leisurely ride along the lake shore.  It's an hour of real physical labor.  Sometimes it…

Thought for the Day: The Bracha on the Tafel (Subordinate) Food

Such a boring title for such an exciting message... sigh...

First, some background.  Suppose one discovers (much to his shock and dismay) that he forgot to make a bracha before eating that delicious apple.  If he has already finished, then he simply makes a bracha acharona and does t'shuva.  If there is apple left, though, he must now make the bracha rishona before continuing.  Trust me, this is cool.

When eating a bread meal one only makes a bracha of "ha'motzi", even though there is lots of other food.  This is one example of ikar (principle) and tafel (subordinate).  Usually the majority ingredient is the ikar.  One exception is anything cooked/baked that contains any of the five grains (wheat/barely/oats/spelt/rye) for flavor (as opposed to binding/texture); for that sort of food, the grain is always the ikar.  Another example would be chocolate covered raisins.  If your intention is to eat chocolate enhanced by raisins, the bracha is "sh'hakol"'…

Thought for the Day: Muktzah and Whiny Children

The conversation I overheard on the train home last night is just too good not to share.  (Yes, I am still working on being not stupid... just too much ice and slush on the roads for safe biking; IMHO.)   One girl was complaining to her friend about how much work it is to plan a drive across country.  "I mean... I have to actually figure out when I'll get to Cleveland and then go look up the weather myself!  Why can't the app just figure out when I'll get there and look up the weather for me, and then give me driving directions to avoid the traffic and worst weather?!?"  I think what most impressed me what how indignant she was.

Siman 9+300 (I have no idea why the M'chaber decided to label the siman as tes-shin instead of shin-tes; he does that sometimes) discusses transporting muktza along with something else.  The first case is a child carrying a rock who will cry if his father doesn't hold him.  He will also cry if you make him drop the rock.  (Basical…

Thought for the Day: Why and What of Muktza

On the one hand, I have trouble believing I haven't written about this before.  On the other hand, I did a search and can't find anything.  Based on the data, I am going to therefore assume that I can write about it now and no one will be more bored than usual.  Besides, how bored can you get in three paragraphs?  Besides, if you were bored you would have stopped reading long ago.  Besides, this is not the first time I have seen this Mishna Brura and I had forgotten the details, so maybe you did also.  Besides, um... yeah; besides.
One of the really key "value added"s that the Mishna Brura brings is his introductions to various simanim that have a lot of details.  Siman 308 (which has 52  -- you heard right -- s'yefim/siy'fim), Which Things are Permitted and Which are Forbidden to be Moved on Shabbos, earned one of those introductions.  A topic known fondly to all us as, "muktza".

The term muktza literally means "set aside", and is intent…

Thought for the Day: The Tragedy of Thinking We Evolved

I saw the most unbelievable nonsensical report last night.  That's going some, given the nonsense that gets reported.  It was an article in New Scientist, which I only mention because that is known in the world as a reasonably reliable and sensible source science current events and how they relate our daily life.  Here's the article (link included so you don't think I am making this up adn... with a couple of juicy outtakes.
The Tragedy of Common-Sense MoralityMorality is essentially a suite of psychological mechanisms that enable us to cooperate. But, biologically at least, we only evolved to cooperate in a tribal way.Going through that reasoning process [taking a more global view] can allow our moral thinking to do something it never evolved to. Can you spot the obvious problems here?  I'll elaborate just because it's so fun.  First, he declares that there really is no morality; it's just an evolutionary trick that engenders cooperation.  Since cooperation obv…

Thought for the Day: Chinuch -- Utilizing Nature/Mazal

Shlomo HaMelech tells us, Mishlei 22:6:
חֲנֹךְ לַנַּעַר, עַל-פִּי דַרְכּוֹ -- גַּם כִּי-יַזְקִין, לֹא-יָסוּר מִמֶּנָּה. Education/train/nurture the child according to his way; also when he grows older/wiser he will not turn away. The Gr'a explains why it has to be according to the child's way.  Everyone is born with certain innate character traits, which the Gr"a says is the meaning of "mazal".  For example, a person born under the mazal of m'adem will have a nature to spill blood.  He is born with that, neither he nor anyone else can change it.  Trying to change it will only be a futile exercise in frustration.  Worse, he may do what you want while he is under your control, but as soon as he out from under your control he will throw off the training.  Truthfully, this is powerful advice even for an adult trying to work on himself.  You must know that you have a certain "hard wired" nature.  You can try to fight it, and you may win many battles, bu…

Thought for the Day: Hefsek Between the Bracha and the Eating

I have a physician friend who told me that his first big shock in med school came as he was walking out of his first exam.  Suddenly he realized that his here-to-fore successful modis operandi -- cramming knowledge into his brain before a test, locking it in there just long enough to finish the exam, then letting is ooze out as he left the classroom -- was not going to work any more.  People's lives were going to depend on his remembering what he learned!  Yikes!  YIKES!

Learning halacha is like that on steroids.  Whereas a physician can at worst only cause 70 or 80 years of pain and suffering.  Get a halacha wrong and you could get suffering with out limit and without end.  There's no words for that.  So before what I learned this morning completely leaks out, I'll write some down.  You are welcome to read what follows, but I urge you to check it up in the Mishna Brura (or Ben Ish Chai, if you prefer): Shulchan Aruch, OC, Siman 167, Syefim 6, 7.

When it comes to eating, w…

Thought for the Day: Knowing Vs. Believing It's Great to Exist

R' Noach Weinberg, z"tzl, in his 48 ways lectures proved that we are woefully decadent.  He would ask, "What's the opposite of pain?"  The answer was invariably, "Pleasure!"  "Wrong," he would say, "The opposite of pain is comfort.  You are all saying your greatest pleasure is to be comfortable.  That's decadent."  His demonstration that pain and pleasure are not opposites?  Every parent knows that his greatest source of pain and pleasure is one and the same: junior(s).

For two and one half years, Chazal (Eiruvin 13b) tells us, the debate raged: no'ach lo l'adam sh'nivra o sh'lo nivrah?  This statement is usually mistranslated to say something ludicrous; so I shan't even repeat it.  In any question that involves a side of "had not been created", one must be wary that much bigger things are going on here than meet the eye.  Another problem is the word "no'ach".  In this context, it mean…

Thought for the Day: More Frequent Comes Before, Not Instead Of, Similar Obligations

It's a real thing: tadir v'sh'eino tadir, tadir kodem.  When faced with two obligations, the more frequently occurring is executed first.  For example, that's why "r'tzei" preceeds "ya'alei v'yavo" in both t'fila and bentching when Yom Tov, Chol HaMo'ed, or Rosh Chodesh fall on Shabbos.  It is also why Borchi Nafshi added after davening on Rosh Chodesh comes after the Shir shel Yom.

What about the second day or Rosh Chodesh Elul regarding l'Dovid and Borchi Nafshi.  On the one hand l'Dovid is said for a total of 40 days, while Borchi Nafshi is said no more than 20 or so.  On the other hand, l'Dovid is said at one time during the year, whereas Borchi Nafshi is said 12 (or 13) times each year.  The halacha is to say Borchi Nafshi first (after the Shir shel Yom, of course) and then l'Dovid.  The ba'alei mussar say we see from here that "less more often" has a bigger effect than "a lot less often&qu…

Thought for the Day: Precision of Brachos

We are used to the precision of every word and even space in kisvei kodesh.  Any discrepency from expected engenders halachos and drashos.  There are whole drashos built on nothing but exploring what question Rashi is answering, how is answer addresses the issue, and even arguments on his understanding.  Anyone who learns gemara is also familiar with the way every word and case of mishnayos and baraisos are dissected and analyzed.  What may not be so well appreciated is the precision with which Chazal worded brachos.  I offer two examples, b'ezras HaShem.

Since Chanuka just passed, you may have noticed that there is no insertion to "al ha'michya" for Chanuka (nor Purim, for that matter).  Given that Chazal inserted "al ha'nisim" into the one (according to everyone) d'oraisa bracha of birkas ha'mazon, one might reasonably expect some insertion into the d'rabanan (according to most rishonim) bracha of al ha'michya.  Now that you are lookin…

Thought for the Day: Using Science in Support of Avodas HaShem

I have talked and written a lot about bad science.  I want to be absolutely clear that I have nothing at all against science as a method of investigation.  I don't even have a problem with people who use scientific data and models to support their own agenda.  The entire Sha'ar B'china of Chovos HaL'vavos is precisely that; using a critical scientific investigation of the world around us to become more aware and more inspired by the wisdom of the Creator.

For example, consider the circulatory system of the developing embryo.  In a baby living out here in the world, blood flows from the body to the right upper chamber of the heart, from right upper chamber to right lower chamber, from right lower chamber to lungs, from lungs to left upper chamber of heart, from left upper chamber to left lower chamber, from left lower chamber to the body; round and round she goes.  This is, of course, the circulation that will continue throughout the person's life from new born infa…

Thought for the Day: Chanuka Havdala -- A Little More Shabbos Vs. More Frequent Takes Precedence

This is not late for Chanuka 5744, it is early for Chanuka 5775; so there.

The headline of Shulchan Aruch OC 681 advertises the siman as explaining one last detail in the halacha that one may not make any use of Chanuka candles: it is forbidden to use the light of the Chanuka candles even for the havdala ceremony.  The lighting of the havdala candle is to demonstrate that we can now do malacha, but the bracha on the candle cannot be made until we benefit from the light; which, of course, runs afoul of the issur of benefiting from the Chanuka lights.  On the other hand, we could make havdala, then put out the candle and repurpose it into a Chanuka light.  That brings a nice benefit; namely, taking a candle that was already used for one mitzvah (havdala) and now using it for a second mitzvah (Chanuka).  That's when the trouble starts.

While it's always nice, all other things being equal, to use an object for an additional mitzvah; all other things are not usually equal.  In this…

Thought for the Day: What's Really Wrong with Evolution and Why I Care

Imagine you meet a Chinese anthropology student at Starbucks who is working on his Ph.D.  He tells you that his thesis is on "Origin of USA".  Why doesn't he just look in any history book?  "Oh, sure, I know the USA traditional creation myth.  In fact, a core section of my work concerns the roots and evolution of the founding fathers myth.  I also have some fascinating hypotheses regarding the canonization of documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution!"  Hang on, you sputter... we have a records from every epoch of our history, I can tell you every president from George Washington till today!  "Oh, sorry," he says looking at you more than a bit disdainfully, "I didn't realize that you were a religious USAsian.  I am a scientist and really don't want to interfere with your faith.  I am just surprised that even an educated USAsian can still be so tied to the old myths.  Wow!  I'll bet you really believe that Geor…

Thought for the Day: Freedom to Choose -- Moshe Rabbeinu's Triumph and Bilaam's Disgrace

My stock answer to those who ask me about astrology is, "I am a Gemini; Geminis don't believe in astrology."  It's a real conversation killer.  (I actually have quite a few conversation killers; this is one that I do on purpose.)  I have a similar reaction to conversations about whether or not we have free will.  The existence of free will is neither provable nor disprovable; it's completely a matter of blind faith.  I spent more time than usual with one of the more engaged teens at the Shabbaton in Irvine last week on that topic; the poor kid opined, "Sometimes I believe I have free will, sometimes I don't."  My final response was: (A) You do have free will, and you know it.  (B) In any case, you may as will live as if you do, because it's more interesting that way.

Free will is really only part of the equation.  The Rambam says that even the stars and planets have free will, they just never choose to do anything that isn't Ratzon HaShem.  …

Thought for the Day: Nullifying a Forbidden Substance

Sorry!  No time for stories today; too much to do and too little time.

Suppose you have 30 ounces of chicken soup simmering on your stove and your two year old throws his cup across the room, spilling one once of milk into your soup.  If you are Ashkenazi, you would say: "Darn!  If only it had been 60 ounces of soup or only 1/2 ounce of milk; then it would be bahtel b'shishim (nullified by one part on 60).  Now that it is done, though, because ein l'vatel issur l'chatchila (it is forbidden to add volume to bring the mixture to nullification once the forbidden mixture is formed)."  If you are S'fardi, though, you would say: "Soup's on!  Chicken and milk is an issur d'rabanan, ein l'vatel issur l'chatchila is also d'rabanan; trei d'rabanan mutar l'chatchila (if the action would require two rabinic decrees to forbid it, then it is permitted)."

That is the p'sak of the Shulchan Aruch, Yorah Dei'ah 99:6.  The Rema ther…

Thought for the Day: Pride in Being Chosen

Let me tell you how I feel about Nebraska.  If you were to ask me, "Which is worse, driving through Nebraska or chemotherapy?"  I would answer, "Obviously there is not comparison.  However, chemotherapy is also pretty bad."  In fact, my wife and I once cancelled a reservation and drove an extra two hours after a long day of driving with two toddlers for one reason: so we would not have to wake up in Nebraska.

That being said, while waiting at LAX for my plane home, I saw Miss Nebraska.  No, I do not collect Miss State cards.  So how did I know it was Miss Nebraska?  She was wearing a sash that said so.  Jeans and t-shirt like every other teen/early 20s in the airport, but also a bold sash emblazoned with "Miss Nebraska".  I couldn't imagine why she thought anyone in LAX would care that the duly appointed representatives of the great state of Nebraska had chosen her to bear the responsibility of that lofty title.  Given the nature of beauty pageants an…

Thought for the Day: All Your Turnings Should Be to the Right

Horace Greeley may have advised travel to the west in one's youth, but Chazal say that all your turnings should be to the right.  With all due respect to Mr. Greeley (guess how much that is), I am going with Chazal.  The question is, "Which way is right?"

What's the question?  One aspect of the question is that the right side represents strength and control.  So much so that the left hand of a left-handed person (itar yad) is called his right hand in halacha.  For example, a left handed Jew should put on their left shoe first and a man puts his t'fila shel yad on his right (weaker) arm.  On the other hand (of course the pun is intended!), they would waive their arba minim around in a circle that is clockwise from above just like everyone else; which is to their weaker/right side.  Perhaps, therefore, "all turnings to the right" is just a rule that doesn't depends on one's own handedness.  On the other hand, maybe the reason lulav goes always to …

Thought for the Day: Permission to Question -- Lowering Science from TRUE to Plausible

My son-in-law the NCSY rabbi provided me with an incredible opportunity for failure.  The task sounds simple enough, just speak on the topic of science and Torah.  Three aspects of the job transformed the task from something I always enjoy into the 11th labor of Hercules.
This was a group of teenagers.They had been brainwashed by the public school system that science is True and Torah is (at best) a beautiful tradition.They were teenagers. We decided, therefore, not to attempt to convince them that Torah is True, but simply that science it not.  Again, not that science is false, just that it's not True.
There were 20 or so teenagers; I specifically did not stand in front of them at a podium, but sat with them.  I started with a modified presentation of Pascal's wager.  Instead of couching it in philosophical terms, I asked them to imagine going to a carnival that has two games.  They can only play one of them; in fact, they must play one of them.  Both games cost a dollar to pl…

Thought for the Day: The Five Mistakes in Philosophy/Religion/Dogma That Knowing HaShem Is One Avoids

After explaining the reason that HaShem chose to reveal Himself to us via His One-ness, the Da'as T'vunos goes on to explain that there are five categories of mistakes that the false dogmas make.

First, there are two kinds of avoda zara.  The first category of avoda zara believes that there is a creator,but he is so exalted and transcendent that he doesn't have anything to do with this lower world.  Rather, he created lower powers and assigned them managerial roles.  These managers have complete control of their division, while their creator is off playing golf or living the life of a recluse in a penthouse suite eating banana nut or chocolate marshmallow ice cream; we'll call this the Howard Hughes model.

The second category of avoda zara sees the obvious contradiction between an all good creator and the evil we see in the world.  Hence it posits that there are two gods; one good and one evil.  It is their struggle with each other that results in all the churn in the …

Thought for the Day: Why HaShem Is One Is Our Mission Statement

It must be pretty important: "Hearken, O Israel!"  This one statement is the clarion call to action for our entire nation.  "HaShem is our G-d."  That sounds like a great statement of purpose for any religion; why not just stop there?  "HaShem is One!"  That's it?  If the expression "is one" simply means that there is only one HaShem, then there isn't much value added.  There is also only one United States.  "Here, O citizens!  The United States is our country!  There is only one USA!"  Umm... true, but not so inspiring, and it certainly is not a call to action.

The Ramchal in Da'as T'vunos explains why HaShem has made the revelation of His One-ness the very core and reason for being of our faith.  When measuring something, you can only get one of three results: 0, finite, or infinite.  In truth, there is really only one result: finite.  Both zero and infinite mean that it has no measure.  Finite, no matter how small, c…

Thought for the Day: Chanuka Licht When No One Is Home

I don't like traveling without my wife.  Ok... I don't like traveling at all, but it's even worse without my wife.  I have one comfort this time, though; I am traveling during Chanuka and my wife is staying the whole week with a friend a few blocks from our house.  Do you realize how many cool sh'eilos that raises?  So the ha'na'ah of basking in the glow of limud ha'Torah to discover the halacha in an intricate but dead on l'ma'aseh situation helps to make up for missing my wife.  Just a little, honey; really!  That and, of course, meeting my newest einikl and spending time with her older brother and sister, and with my daughter and her husband.  Even so, I miss you, honey; really.  Don't even think thought such as, "Methinks he doth protest too much."  Even surrounded by our beautiful children and grandchildren, I miss you.  A lot.  Really.

Here's the issue.  The basic situation that requires chanuka licht to be lit is "ish u…

Thought for the Day: Cost/Benefit vs K'fira

I sometimes feel sorry for my yeitzer hara.  I mean, he gets up every morning and sees one item on his to-do list: Entice Michael to sin.  Can you imagine a more boring job than that!?  Honestly, that's about as boring as a tic-tac-toe competition where he gets the first three moves.  So he plays with me sometimes, just to relieve the boredom.

Like this one: a driver in a 3/4 ton red pickup truck gets irritated seeing me riding a bike on "his" road.  So he lays on the horn as he roars past me and makes a point of just missing me.  But then I see him stopped at the intersection and my yeitzer hara whispers, "Just pull around him, park your bike right in front of his truck, go over to his window, tell him how much you miss having a radio on your bike, and thank him sincerely for his horn rendition.  What could go wrong?"  First of all, I have learned from bitter experience that the answer to "What could go wrong?" is the same as the answer the question …

Thought for the Day: Nachas Ruach l'Bori

The Michtav mei'Eliyahu notes that the "mida k'neged mida" can be read both ways.  That is, punishments and rewards are delivered from our Creator that match the crime or victory.  The last few days have been pretty interesting, including a near miss accident that I am taking as reward; though I suppose one could question that and consider it more a warning shot across the bow.  However, a text from my eldest two nights ago and subsequent conversation has solidified my confidence in my p'shat.

My daughter is a math teacher, and I got this text from her:
There are 10 types of people; those who understand binary numbers and those that don’t. If you get it, great; if not... go back to 8th grade math enrichment.  In any case, getting a corny math joke from my daughter warmed my soul.  I called her the next day and mentioned that I need to talk to R' Fuerst because I am going to be visiting her sister in Calif for the first few days of Chanuka and her mother will b…

Thought for the Day: Torah Guides You, Protects You, and Speaks for You

I have, Baruch HaShem and bli ayin hara, had the z'chus in the past to make a siyum now and again.  Part of the hadran is to quote the pasuk from Mishlei (6:22):
בְּהִתְהַלֶּכְךָ, תַּנְחֶה אֹתָךְ-- בְּשָׁכְבְּךָ, תִּשְׁמֹר עָלֶיךָ וַהֲקִיצוֹתָ, הִיא תְשִׂיחֶךָ.When you walk, she will lead you; when you lie down, she will protect you, and when you awaken, she will speak for you. Of course we all understand that it is referring allegorically to the Torah.  The Torah guides you in this world, protects you in the grave, and will speak on you behalf (ie, the z'chus of learning Torah and doing mitzvos) after t'chiyas ha'meisim.  True, of course, but the simple p'shat also has to mean something.  The G"ra gives some fascinating insights into that (and more).

For one, the G"ra notes that you can read the going, lying down, and awakening as results rather than situations.  That is, for positive mitzvos you need to get going and to them.  For negative mitzvos (issu…