Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Drinking on Purim

In Gemara Megillah we are told that Rava z"l said that one should drink on Purim until they [get so drunk that they] do not know the difference between 'cursed be Haman' and 'blessed be Mordechai'.  Many Rishonim take this statement literally.  See here:

However, the Rama zt"l says that there are others who say that one merely needs to drink more than their custom to (and this of course varies with different people).  And he adds that whether one drinks more or drinks less, the main thing is that a person's intention is for the sake of Heaven.

HaRav Avigdor Miller zt"l was asked:

How do I utilize drinking עד דלא ידע in order to serve Hashem?

עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן לברוך מרדכי. I'll tell you one peirush. It means עד ולא עד בכלל. You drink up to the point of losing your da'as. You drink just enough. But not enough to lose your da'as. On Purim you have to have da'as. You have to have more da'as on Purim, not less. 

Now, a little bit of da'as can be gained by drinking. A little bit. Oh yes. It's like an airplane that needs high octane gas to get up in the air. A little bit of alcohol helps your spirit go higher. Yes, a little bit of mashkeh. But too much alcohol will sink you. And therefore, there's no use in falling asleep in the middle of Purim like a drunken goy and then they have to call Hatzalah. On Purim you should be gaining da'as. If you utilize the day properly, it'll be a day of da'as. And you won't be gaining any da'as lying on the floor waiting for Hatzalah to come.

TAPE # E-225 (March 2000) (Source:


Whether one drinks more or less, please stay safe.  Because getting drunk on Purim is no excuse to cause any danger.  

I wish everyone a Simchadikke and meaningful -- and safe -- Taanis Esther and Purim!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Q & A With Rav Miller zt"l on Purim

How are we really supposed to see the neis of Purim if it was a neis nistar that was hidden in the natural events? 

The answer is that sometimes a thing can be so startling that you just can't hide it. The American government is carrying out nuclear tests - nuclear explosions - and they're trying to hide it, but the scientists who have the proper instruments know what's going on, and they can tell you the details where it's going on and when. And your mind is your instrument. With a little bit of thought, you see the hand of Hashem. 

You can't hide certain things. And when Haman, who was the king's favorite, is now not only not a favorite, but he's wiped out - and not only that, but the one who took his place was the least likely person... יושב בשמים ישחק - "The One who dwells in heaven is laughing." HaKadosh Baruch Hu was playing the joke and everybody could see it. 

And therefore וראו אפסי ארץ את ישועת אלוקינו - "All the ends of the world saw that it was a salvation from Hashem." It was very clear to everyone. Only that if you don't put your mind to it, you don't see anything and you'll remain the same person you were last Purim, and the year before that, and the year before that. But the wise man will use his Purim to see how Hashem is doing everything for the Am Yisroel, and he'll fall in love with Hashem. Because the person who is the same person on the day after Purim as he was before Purim, has wasted a tremendous opportunity. 
TAPE # 110 


Sunday, February 25, 2018

BARUCH DAYAN HAEMES: HaRav Shmuel Auerbach zt"l

YeshivaWorldNews reports...

Photo courtesy of TheYeshivaWorld

HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Auerbach ZATZAL was niftar on Shabbos in Yerushalayim. He suffered a cardiac incident on Friday night while at home. EMS responders began CPR and advanced resuscitation.
The rav, who was 87, suffered a heart attack in his home on Friday night at about 10:00PM. He was transported to Shaare Zedek Hospital while resuscitation efforts were continued. Askan Rav Benny Fischer was among those summoned. He eventually suffered a systemic failure of his vital organs.
It is reported that he complained of not feeling well and went to bed on Friday night. The bochur who was with him asked if everything was okay and when he did not respond, an ambulance was summoned.
The niftar was the elder son of the late Gadol Hador HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT”L. During the years following the petira of HaGaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv ZT”L, Rav Auerbach became the leader of the so-called Peleg Yerushalmi branch of chareidi litvish tzibur. The rav did not leave behind zera shel kayama.
The levaya will begin from Yeshivas Maalos Hatorah at 11:30 Sunday morning 10 Adar, and from there to Har Menuchos for kvura near his late wife, Rebitzen Rochel A”H

Friday, February 23, 2018

Parshas Tetzaveh Messages 5778

Parshas Tetzaveh:

These Divrei Torah are dedicated to a Refuah Shleimah Mi'heira to my great Rebbe, HARAV ELYAKIM GETZEL BEN LEAH.

The Sages Say:

To kindle the lamp(s) always.’ (Shemos 27:20)

Our Sages of blessed memory said:  When they would light the Menorah, every courtyard in Yerushalayim would be illuminated by its light.

(Midrash Tanchuma Ch. 3)


A Helpful Hint:

And you [Moshe Rabbeinu] shall command the Bnei Yisroel and they shall take to you olive oil -- pure, crushed (כתית) for lighting, to kindle the lamp(s) always. (Shemos 27:20)

The Baal HaTurim zt”l notes that כתית is made up of the letters ת"י (the numerical value of 410) and ת"כ (the numerical value of 420).  This alludes to us, he explains, that for 410 years [the time that the first Beis HaMikdash stood for] and 420 years [the time that the second Beis HaMikdash stood for] the lighting of the Menorah [in the Beis HaMikdash] would be practiced.  


A “Lamdanishe” Insight:

And these are the Garments that they shall make:  A Choshen, and an Ephod, and a Me’il, and a Kesones Tashbeitz, a Mitznefes, and an Avneit…’ (Shemos 28:4)

And you shall make a Tzitz of pure gold…’ (Shemos 28:36)

And make for them [Aharon and his sons] Linen Breeches…’ (Shemos 28:42)

Tells us the Gemara (Arachin 16a):  Why is the portion dealing with the Bigdei Kehuna (Priestly Garments) near the portion dealing with Karbanos (offerings)?  To tell you that just like offerings atone, so too the Bigdei Kehuna atone [for things].  

The Kesones (Checkered Tunic) atones for spilling of blood (murder)... the Michnasayim (Breeches) atones for gilui arayos (immoral relations)... the Mitznefes (Turban) atones for haughtiness of spirit… the Avneit (Belt) atones for a [bad] thought of the heart (see Yerushalmi Yoma 7:3)… the Choshen (Breastplate) atones for [erroneous] judgements… the Ephod (Apron) atones for avodah zarah (idol worship)... the Me’il (Robe) atones for Lashon Hara (evil gossip)... the Tzitz (Headplate) atones for brazenness…


Chassidishe Vort:

And you [Moshe Rabbeinu] shall command the Bnei Yisroel and they shall take to you olive oil -- pure, crushed for lighting… (Shemos 27:20)

Says Rashi HaKadosh (from Gemara Menachos 86a):  [Crushed for lighting], but not crushed for Meal-offerings (למנחות).

In an interesting take on this all, Rebbe Yechiel Danziger zt”l (the first Alexander Rebbe) explains:  When a “preacher” gives someone Mussar (like rebuke, in this case) -- trying to humble the person a little, they need to intend to only do it ‘for lighting’, i.e. to help to illuminate and show the person the proper path [that they should take], ‘and not for מנחות’ -- [מנחות, which has the same root as to lay down or rest, teaching us that] we must make sure to not give rebuke in order to bring the person down and make them feel lowly…

(Quoted in Maayanah Shel Torah)


Mussar Message:

And you shall speak to all the wise of heart, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom…’ (Shemos 28:3)

The title “wise of heart” means a person who wants wisdom, and makes every effort to achieve it.  If a person’s heart is like this, HaKadosh Baruch Hu will give them wisdom.  

(Peninei HaTorah)


Chazak V’ematz:

This week being the special Maftir of Parshas Zachor, I wanted to do an insight on one of its main topics:  The erasing of Amalek, yemach shemo (may it’s name be obliterated):  Towards the end of Parshas Beshalach, the Torah tells us about how Amalek waged war upon us.  And the Torah relates that when Moshe Rabbeinu would raise his hand up, the Jews would be stronger -- but when he would lay his hand down, Amalek would be stronger.  

Asks the Mishnah (Rosh Hashanah 3:8); was it then Moshe Rabbeinu’s hands that made the Jews win or lose?  Rather, the Mishnah explains, it is to teach you that when the Jews looked to On High and subjected their hearts to our Father in Heaven, they prevailed.  And when not, they fell.


Many Chassidishe Masters note that the Gematria (numerical value) of the word עמלק (Amalek) is the same as that of ספק -- doubt.  This teaches us, they explain, that Amalek tries to bring Sfeikus -- doubts, into our Emunah (faith), Rachmana Litzlan. (There are other proofs for this brought, as well).

And furthermore, many Rabbonim explain that another power of Amalek is Kerirus -- coldness.  They tried to bring coldness to the Jews (see Rashi HaKadosh and many later Commentators).

But what does Amalek have to do with us nowadays?  Numerous Gedolim tell us that Amalek represents the Yetzer Hara:  We all have a personal war with Amalek.  We can probably all testify to how many times the Yetzer Hara tries to attack us and engulf us in coldness and doubt (which go hand in hand), Rachmana Litzlan.  I can tell you that it has done that to me.  But what can we do if, Chas V’Shalom and Rachmana Litzlan, we fall into this trap -- or it even just attacks us with it?

The advice comes from what we quoted above:  The way to beat our Yetzer Hara (A.K.A. Amalek) and coldness and doubt is just to turn Upwards to our Father in Heaven.  Connecting to Him -- and even just lifting our hands to Him, I might add -- helps us to overcome all wars we might encounter in our lives.  Our Father is always there, ready to help us.  Just turn to Him.


The Purim story -- the triumph of the Jews and the downfall of Haman yemach shemo; the triumph of good over evil -- is the defeat of Amalek (whom Haman was from).  And so this time I believe, is a reminder of -- and an especially good time to think about -- our war versus Amalek in our own lives, and how to prevail, B’Ezras Hashem.  May HaKadosh Baruch Hu help everyone to triumph always, Amein.

(Tal U’Matar)


Maaseh B’Rabbi…

The following is a first-person account from the great Tzaddik (righteous person) and Holocaust survivor, Reb Yisroel Cohen shlit”a (or called Srulik in the following piece), related in his book, Destined to Survive:  

“All the strain and nervous excitement had their effect on me.  I had just suffered through a bad bout of typhus and several days of high fever.  Falling back on my segment of board, I fell asleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt dizzy, and my head felt very heavy.  My bones, protruding as they did from my emaciated body, scraped against the wooden plank, stinging painfully as the skin peeled off.  But who could pay attention to such trivialities?  After six years in the ghetto and in three concentration camps, one’s body adjusts, and suffering becomes the norm.

Nevertheless, the hunger pangs were constantly renewing themselves, and since a hungry person can hardly think of anything else but eating, I began to calculate how much time remained until noon, when the “hot soup” would arrive. (This was a lukewarm liquid in which a couple of pieces of potato occasionally would float.)

With my head down on the wooden board, near despair, I began to conjure up images from my past, of my life with my parents and my two sisters, Gittel and Mirel -- how I used to learn in the Gerer shtiebel and belonged to the circle of young boys.  Mostly, I remembered my grandfather, Reb Herschel, who loved me dearly and to whom I was strongly attached, who used to take me, his only grandson, along whenever he went to the Gerer Rebbe.  I relived the memory of my entering the room where the Rebbe was, and the deep impression left in my heart by the Rebbe’s eyes, eyes that overflowed with wisdom and love, eyes that penetrated the very depths of my soul.  While still remembering this brilliant, imposing figure, I thought to myself, “Will I ever have the zechus (merit) to press myself into the crowd of chassidim gathering around the Rebbe, to frequent his beis medrash and learn from him how to be a chassid and a G-d-fearing person?”

“It’s time to daven, Srulik.”

My friend’s voice shook me from my reverie.  Immediately, my pleasant memories vanished and once again I found myself in the pit of hell.

Half-dazed, I picked myself up and said, “Yes, of course.  Let’s wash our hands and daven.”

A sudden thought struck me.

“But it’s Purim today!  We have to organize a minyan -- maybe we’ll even remember a few pesukim of the Megillah!”

And, wonder of wonders!  In that instant, I forgot my pain, my suffering, my hunger pangs. Summoning up all my remaining strength, I went to wash my hands and face and then to find some men to complete our minyan, and inform any of my acquaintances who would want to daven betzibbur (with a quorum).  Perhaps I could even find someone else who could still recall a few more verses from the Megillah, so that we could fulfill as much as we could of the obligations that are remembered and kept from generation to generation.

And then, as if to show that G-d desires those mitzvos that Jews perform with true mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice), by some miracle a small Chumash Shemos was discovered with the complete Megillas Esther at the back. (Our friend, Itche Perelman, who was in the burial commando, had discovered it in one of the blocks.)  Our elation was immeasurable!  Such a find was awesome!  It could only be a sign that our prayers had been received in Heaven and the redemption was about to begin.  Excitement grew to a feverish pitch.  Who remembered the hunger, who remembered the cold, the filth, the degradation?  No one gave a thought to the dangers involved in organizing a minyan and reading the Megillah, if suddenly the Germans or a kapo would decide to drop into our hut.  Even the irreligious ones… were filled with excitement at this great event.

“Who will read the Megillah?” the question was thrown.

The lot fell on me, for I had learned to become skilled as a baal korei (reader of the Torah) from the time I had been locked into the ghetto… And so, I found myself sitting on the edge of my piece of wooden plank, dressed in a camp uniform, a towel wrapped around my head in place of a yarmulke, reciting with my remaining strength, “and Haman sought to destroy all the Jews…” When I read aloud about Haman’s downfall, and that “The Jews had light and happiness, joy and honor,” the spark of hope deep inside every Jew’s heart ignited into a flaming torch. “Oy, Ribbono Shel Olam!” thought each person, “Make a wondrous miracle for us, too, as You did for our forefathers in those days, and we will also see the end of our enemies!”

When I finished, everyone cheered in relief.  For a brief instant, the dreadful reality of the SS death camp was forgotten, the hunger and suffering were overlooked.  Everyone realized that he was a Jew and a human being, and the savage atmosphere was transformed into a Purim atmosphere.  And I, having exerted all my remaining energy in my reading of the Megillah, remained sitting almost without breathing, but with my spirit soaring.

When people’s actions are pleasing to Hashem, even their enemies are reconciled to them.  Even the block elder, who usually strutted in with a cruel, arrogant demeanor and scowling face, allowed a smile to play on his lips as he entered that day, and handed out the soup without shouting or cursing at anyone who did not thrust out his can quickly enough.  The ever-present jealousy turned into generosity, since instead of complaining as usual that someone else had received more potatoes, everyone cried out, “Let Srulik get a bigger portion of soup today!”

Instead of dwelling on the past, we began to dream about the future, with the hope that soon the German demon would inherit his own downfall, and that the end of Jewish suffering would arrive.  And like a river overflowing its banks, its waters pouring out unchecked, so the festive atmosphere and the vision of redemption burst out of the broken hearts of the camp inmates, and, one mitzvah leading to another, more acts of heroism followed.  Someone decided to forgo a small piece of yesterday’s bread, and offered it to his comrade instead.  Another person donated a piece of potato, and these two “portions,” which only yesterday could have caused envy and hatred among friends, now became the means by which the inmates could return to what was written, “to fulfill the mitzvah of mishloach manos, one man to another.”

These precious mishloach manos were passed around from one to the other, until they finally landed on my lap.  Everyone decided that I should be the one to keep them as payment for reading the Megillah.  I thought to myself, “Ribbono Shel Olam!  Behold Your great nation, that in one second can transform itself from the level of wild animals tearing at one another, to the level of courageous men, faithful Jews.  And who is like you, Yisrael, a single nation of the earth?” With great emotion I turned to all present: “Yidden!  Brothers in suffering!  I don’t deserve this honor you have given me.  We all have but one request from our Heavenly Father: L’shanah habaah biYerushalayim!  Next year in Jerusalem!”


A Gut Shabbos and a very Freilichen Purim to all!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


My dear friends, please, please beseech Hashem to send a complete and speedy healing, a Refuah Shleimah Mi'heira to my dear, great Rebbe, HARAV ELYAKIM GETZEL BEN SARAH.

Please Hashem Yisborach, heal him completely now!

Kol Tuv and thank you everyone!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Adar and Simcha

Just as one who enters Av decreases in joy, so too one who enters into Adar increases in happiness.” (Gemara Taanis 29a).  

What is the significance of saying about decreasing our joy in Av in relevance to increasing joy coming into Adar?  Perhaps we may explain that it comes to teach us that just as our lessening of joy is because of a Torah-related mourning, so too; we increase our joy for a Torah-related reason.

And indeed, Rashi HaKadosh explains the increase of joy with regards to Adar is because when we come into this month, we enter into a time with the days of Miracles, Purim and Pesach.  


Some people, Rachmana Litzlan, always look for joy in material things -- whether it be eating, drinking, levity, etc.   But true happiness only comes from something deeper -- not such superficiality:  When we serve Hashem and connect to Him, that brings true and lasting joy. The Moadim -- Hashem’s Festivals -- come, and we increase in happiness.  This is not the fake and superficial kind; but the real joy.

In Hashem and His Torah, there is joy.  True and everlasting joy, which comes to those who follow Him.  Not fleeting happiness that leads to depression, R"L.

So now, as we come into Adar, let us all try to, with Hashem’s Help, take its lesson of true happiness -- and bring it with us for the entire year.

Indeed, The Apta Rebbe, HaRav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel zt”l taught: ‘When the month of Adar enters we increase joy -- marbin beSimcha.’ BeSimcha has the same Gematria (numerical value) as the word Shana, year. (They both equal 355.) This teaches us, he says, that the Simcha which awakens in a person during the month of Adar [indeed] carries over to the entire year! (Ohev Yisroel; Purim -- quoted in Song of Simcha).

Kol Tuv everyone, a Gut Nacht, and a Guten Chodesh!