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Showing posts from April, 2015

Thought for the Day: Following the Laws of the Country -- Bankruptcy and Seat Belts

I was once heard to remark (I know this is true because I was there), "There is no inertia in gemara."  The remark was in response to once again having read one or two words further and -- again, once again -- finding myself in a brand new discussion.  No warnings, no dots... nothing; just a completely new discussion.  In fact, though, the frustration for us (relative) new comers to gemara, is that we think that the incidents and cases being presented are the rai·son d'ê·tre of this or that particular daf of gemara.  It's not.  The rai·son d'ê·tre for this or that daf of gemara is to discuss some deep Torah principle that is exemplified by the incidents and cases being presented.  Of course, Chazal are not going to actually tell you what deep Torah principle is being discussed (that's no fun); it is up to the interested reader to ferret that out by finding the common thread.

Many Torah lectures follow a similar pattern.  (After all, they great Torah speakers …

Thought for the Day: Being a Role Model for Your Children

In response to the TftD on serving HaShem with joy as an integral part of chinuch ha'banim, received an email giving another dimension of the attitude by some toward the Chafeitz Chaim's minyan:
If the bochurim would wake up late, they would say, "Oh well, now I guess I have to go to the Chofeitz Chaim's minyan. And those 10 minutes of mussar are gonna mess up my day!" That bothered me.  I can understand that even a gadol ha'dor of the stature of the saintly Chafeitz Chaim could seem like "just another rabbi" to his generation.  But to be feel that the mussar would ruin their day!  That means they appreciated who the Chafeitz Chaim was and even so wanted to avoid his beneficial instruction.  The very next day, on my ride to work, I had an opportunity to appreciate their feelings.  I had downloaded three shiurim on chinuch ha'banim by R' Yisroel Belsky from mp3shiur.com (do yourself a favor and listen to all of them, probably a few times).  A…

Thought for the Day: Kashering Pots and Utensils for Pesach -- הגעלה (Boiling) vs ליבון (Scorching)

Volume 5 ('חלק ה for you frumies) of the Mishna Brura concerns itself with the laws of Passover and Yom Tov in general.  It starts with siman 429, entitled: We don't fall on our faces (ie, say tachanun) the entire month of Nissan, but the first halacha in that siman is: We (start) asking about the laws of Pesach from 30 days before Pesach.  The Mishna Brura that some say that we need to start 30 days before Pesach (as opposed to other holidays, that do not have that requirement) because there are so many laws of Pesach.  30 days.  All of hilchos Pesach.  30 days.  Maybe that's why the heading of this siman talks about tachanun.  "Wow!  No tachanun for a month!  I'll have so much extra time!"  Then ... wham!  Here's something to do with all that extra time...

Being as my Hebrew reading skills are still developing, I try to learn one topic each year.  This year was הגעלת כלים; which Google translates -- I kid you not -- as "Hagalah".  The word הגע…

Thought for the Day: Protecting Your Children -- Serve HaShem With Joy

I heard a cute story on a recording of a lecture by R' Yisroel Belsky this morning.  I also heard a horrifying story.  There was also a story that initially shocked me, then saddened me.

Here's the cute story: When R' Belsky was six or so, his mother showed him a cartoon from the Saturday Evening Post with two children each holding a large cluster of grapes.  One child was beaming with joy, the other crying and whining to his mother: "He... he... he got 23 grapes and I ONLY GOT 22! "  His mother intent, obviously, was to show how ridiculous it is to cry or to even notice such and "inequity" when you are yourself holding a fortune.  The obviousness of that message is clear to R' Belsky now, but the six year old edition was struck by the tragedy of the horrible injustice.

The moral: You can't affect how your children will process information.  The same input data will be understood completely differently by a child than an adult.  In fact, I hea…

Thought for the Day: Alligators, Birds, Bees, and Citrus Fruits on Pesach

I was born in Central California (third generation on my mother's side, btw... one of the very few non-Native Americans who can make that claim), then lived in Southern California till early teens, and Northern California till early 20s.  That experience has shaped how I view Florida in (at least) three ways.  First, I have little to no desire to visit Disney World.  I grew up on the original and still -- according to many -- best theme park ever: Disneyland.  Disney World is certainly bigger, but since I never found that Disneyland was missing anything, bigger does nothing for me.  Moreover, the lack up a Matterhorn bobsled ride is simply unconscionable.  On the other hand, I am very annoyed at California's shameful treatment of orange groves.  My first school and second house were surrounded by beautiful, lush forests of orange trees.  Their decimation is horrifying and also unconscionable.  Finally, growing up in California (which is west of the old west, btw), engenders a …