Shabbat-B'Shabbato – Parshat Pinchas
No 1382: 14 Tammuz 5771 (16 July 2011)
AS SHABBAT APPROACHES
Fanaticism for G-d and a Covenant of Peace - by Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg,
Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavne
The Torah has only praise for the zeal of Pinchas, while at the same time
the sages talk of the importance of peace. But this leaves us with a
dilemma. What is more important for Judaism – fanaticism or tolerance?
In his essay, "The War of Opinions and Beliefs," Rav A.Y. Kook explains that
there is a type of tolerance that stems from our understanding that we are
only partial beings, and this leads to a feeling that we must accept other
people the way they are. On the other hand, there is zeal based on the
conviction that we alone are in possession of all the righteousness and the
Judaism is opposed to both of these approaches. We do not accept tolerance
which is based on weakness. We also believe that everything is in the Torah,
and we are fanatics about defending this position. But the fact that we
possess everything does not deny the possibility that others also share some
parts of our "whole."
"It is a bad sign for a group of people to think that they have exclusive
possession of the source of all wisdom and righteousness and that everything
else is vain and chasing after the spirit" [Igrot Hare'iya volume 1, page
In addition, every ideological movement rests on a point of truth and good
that is part of it. If not for such a point the movement would not exist at
all. "Falsehood does not have a leg to stand on." [Shabbat 104a]. Therefore,
when we come to fight against opposing movements, we must never reject the
movement as a whole, since it stands for some truths that we also accept. We
must find the positive elements of the movement and only fight against its
This is how Rav Kook explained to the people of Agudat Yisrael what he felt
was the proper way to fight the nonreligious nationalistic movement. If we
oppose the movement as a whole, we will at the same time be opposing the
ideas of Eretz Yisrael, the return to Zion, the ingathering of the exiles,
and the use of Hebrew. But these are all foundations that stem from the
Torah. Therefore, instead of rejecting the entire concept we must react
positively to the elements of truth and oppose only the bad elements that
have been added to them. In an era when there is an attempt to deny the
relationship between spirit of G-d and the land, the language, and the
customs and to simply accept the "spirit of the nation" – "What should the
righteous people of the generation do? To revolt against the spirit of the
nation... is impossible... Rather what is needed is a tremendous effort to
reveal the light and the holiness that rests within the spirit of the
nation." That is, it is necessary to broaden the view of the Torah to show
that it is the true source of all the ideals that are considered so lofty.
Here is what Rav Kook explained to parents whose children had abandoned
Judaism and joined the socialist movements. "You should show the trait of
pure kindness, and say to them that their preferences involve some good
elements. Their only mistake is that they think that the good things they
feel are against the words of the Torah, while the truth is that these
concepts are the main body of the Torah." [Igrot Hare'iya volume 1, page
With respect to the question with which we began this article, we can say,
we are not infected with a "rabid fanaticism" that claims that we are the
only ones with absolute truth or with a "feeble tolerance" that feels that
Judaism is merely part of the truth. Rather what we feel is a high level of
tolerance, where we know that we have everything but that does not deprive
the other people of also having sparks that emanate from this truth.
POINT OF VIEW
The Sub-Culture of Leisure Time - by Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, Dean of the Zomet
"For six days shall you perform labor" [Shemot 20:8]. "Rebbi said: Just as
Yisrael were given a positive mitzva of Shabbat, so were they commanded to
perform labor" [Mechilta D'Rashbi 20].
A Religious Temptation for a Weekend
One of the deputy Prime Ministers must have been bored, and he therefore
threw out a revolutionary proposal: Making a shorter workweek and a longer
weekend in Israel, which will last from Friday afternoon until Monday
morning. He gave us a number of reasons, based on society, economics,
culture, and religion. (1) Synchronization of our banking days with the rest
of the enlightened world; (2) Creation of new jobs as a result of increased
need for support of leisure time; (3) The wellbeing of the workers; (4) A
clear bonus for the religious people – the availability of Sunday for proper
types of recreation; (5) And so on...
Knowledgeable opponents of the idea raised the problem of a shorter school
week which can be assumed to be one of the results of this proposal. This
would lead to an enhanced need for watching over the students and keeping
them busy during the newly-available free time, or as an alternative
allowing the children to expand the existing cultures of whiling away the
time by "sitting on the corner" or on the fences. But we would like to raise
additional reasons for opposing this proposal, both on principle and from a
practical point of view.
At first glance, it would seem reasonable that for a religious person the
fourth consideration listed above would be convincing and very enticing –
the proposal opens up the possibility for family outings to parks, family
visits to museums and nature preserves, visiting relatives who live far
away, "religious" sports, and so on. As one who gives preference to the
general good over my own personal desires, I might be convinced by this line
of reasoning, but only on one very important condition: That Shabbat must be
bound by legal restrictions – no business, no sports or cultural gatherings,
no entertainment, and no public transportation. All of these activities will
be moved to Sunday, and this will be achieved by ironclad enforcement of the
law. But since I fear, and in fact I am quite convinced, that this is not
going to happen, and that there will now be two days for shopping (with the
added need for more workers!) in addition to increased numbers of two-day
trips and other events – I cannot accept the "Shabbat benefits" that seem to
be incorporated into this proposal. I am willing to forego my own personal
benefit in order to be saved from the social and cultural downfall that the
proposal will bring about.
Filling a Void with a Larger Void
Aside from young children who may well gain additional outings to the zoo or
to the parks, I estimate that everybody else, youths and adults alike, will
not act during the newly added leisure time to enhance their quality time in
the family or the spiritual culture in any significant way. There can be no
doubt that what will happen is that our national culture of leisure will
descend to ever and ever greater depths of the sewers of drunken behavior
and drug addiction, of crime, and of violence. At the very least, what will
increase is the boring times spent with heavy piles of newspapers or
watching unspeakable television. Is the free time of Shabbat today filled
with a positive type of "cultural leisure" that draws in large crowds of
participants? And please don't try to tell me about the suppressing effect
of the current work laws and their limits on working hours, which a long
time ago were bypassed and are no longer relevant with respect to culture
and entrainment. Are the theaters filled to the brims with the sounds of
folk songs or some sort of cultural singer? Will the youths who fill the
bars on Friday and Saturday nights suddenly stand in line to get tickets for
a nature hike on Sunday, the next day?
In general, adding say another half an hour of work each day other than
Friday will put new limits on the ability of the parents to see their
children in real time. And we have not yet said a single world about the
increased numbers of fatal accidents that are so common on holidays.
The Commandment to Work
At the beginning of this article we quoted the words of Rebbi, that the
verse "Six days shall you perform labor" includes two positive mitzvot: to
rest on the seventh day and to work on the other six days. From the strictly
halachic point of view, there is no problem in adding more free time, but
the basic concept of the above verse is clear. Just as the nation of Yisrael
gave the world the weekly day of rest, so we should give the "enlightened"
world the concept of six days of labor every week, days which include time
for family values and for "putting the kids to bed" after a bedtime story.
We should not adopt leisure as a culture. We have been taught in the Mishna,
"Idle time leads to lust... idle time leads to 'shi'amum'" [Ketuvot 5:4].
The last word is usually translated as boredom, but Rashi translates it here
A NOTE ABOUT ADVERTISING:
A strange advertisement appeared in last week's printed edition of Shabbat
B'Shabbato, one that led to raised eyebrows on the part of many of our
readers. It appealed to "those interested" in taking a second wife, "with
the consent of the first wife." The advertisement was signed by some rabbi,
and it gave the address of a website and a telephone number for "client
We hereby declare for all to see that the editorial management of Shabbat
B'Shabbato does not see the advertisement that appear in the bulletin in
advance, and we are not responsible for their contents or for the judgment
of the production and marketing company which controls the finances of the
bulletin. When we first saw the ad we thought it was a satire, possibly a
sophisticated jibe at the book "Torat Hamelech," based on the idea of some
obscure law that is not meant to be taught in public. In this spirit, I
might expect to see a further ad for a stand that sells human flesh with
halachic approval, or for purchase of a dual-purpose Holy Ark – Torah
scrolls on one side, alongside a space for chickens that lay holy eggs.
Sources for these items will be given at a later time.
But no: It turns out that there really is somebody who wants to promote an
agenda of "two wives." The management of the bulletin therefore joins the
protest of the many readers who turned to us in utterly denouncing this
esoteric advertisement, which promotes deviant behavior that would cause
great harm to the family values that we want so much to strengthen. Let this
matter be forgotten and never repeated, and let the mouth of the instigator
RESPONSA FOR OUR TIMES
A Blessing of Thanks when a Person's Children are Saved - by Rabbi Re'eim
Hacohen, Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi, Otniel
Question: Should a parent recite the "Hagomel" blessing in order to express
thanks for his son or daughter being saved from danger?
Answer: There are two parts to this question. First of all, is a minor
obligated to recite the blessing at all? And, second, can a parent make the
blessing for a son or a daughter who is a minor?
Reciting "Hagomel" for a Person who has no Obligation
The first question to be discussed is related to the text of the blessing.
The wording that Rav Yehuda gives in the Talmud is, "Blessed is He who
rewards with good kindness" [Berachot 54b]. The RIF and the ROSH add the
word "chayavim" – "Blessed is He who rewards with good kindness those who
are obligated". This is the wording given by the Rambam (Hilchot Berachot
10:8) and the Shulchan Aruch (219,71). At first glance, according to the
text of the Talmud a minor can recite the blessing, but according to the
second version a minor is not "obligated" (since he or she is not liable for
any punishment) and therefore cannot recite the blessing. This is what the
Magen Avraham writes in the name of Maharam Mintz. Shaarei Teshuva, the
Mishna Berura, Kaf Hachaim, and the Ben Ish Chai (Eikev 4) all wrote that
the custom is for a minor not to recite the blessing. On the other hand,
Rabbi Akiva Eiger wrote in his notes on the Shulchan Aruch (in the name of
Lachmei Torah) that a minor can recite the blessing. And Birkei Yosef writes
that this is indeed the practice in our lands.
Reciting a Blessing for Somebody Else
With respect to the question of whether a parent can recite the blessing for
a child, it is written in the Talmud that a person can recite the blessing
for another person (Berachot ibid). In fact, this is what Rav Yehuda's
students did when he was cured, when they said, "Blessed is G-d who sent you
back to us and did not send you back into the dust" [Berachot 54b]. This
leads to the following conclusion in the introduction of "Shiltei Giborim" –
"It seems to me that if a person wants to thank G-d and to recite 'Hagomel'
for someone whom he loves and a relative for whom he feels pain, he is
allowed to do so." This was quoted in Darkei Moshe and in the notes of the
RAMA. In Berachot, the Rashba writes, "For a miracle that happened to his
teacher one should recite the blessing, following the opinion of Rav
Channa." The Beit Yosef understands him to mean that only for the rabbi can
the blessing be recited, but the Shulchan Aruch does not quote this opinion.
This leads the Magen Avraham to conclude that Rabbi Yosef Karo, the author
of the Shulchan Aruch and Beit Yosef, changed his mind and in the end gave
permission for anybody who is happy about salvation to recite the blessing.
However, in Responsa Bnei Banim (volume 2, 4) it is correctly noted that the
Shulchan Aruch does not give a priori permission to make the blessing. The
BACH disagrees with the Beit Yosef, and he feels that even according to the
Rashba anybody who is happy can recite the blessing, and not only if it
refers to his rabbi. The Tashbetz writes this specifically about a person's
son (volume 4, 4), since the son is considered part of his own flesh. Rabbi
Akiva Eiger quotes the Tashbetz as the definitive halacha. The conclusion
would seem to be that a parent can indeed recite the blessing for a child.
However: Biur Halacha quotes from the Alya Rabba that the main opinion is
that of the Beit Yosef, that the only blessing that is permitted is for a
person's rabbi (as opposed to the opinions of the TUR and the RAMA), and he
adds that a person should not recite any blessing for which he or she has no
obligation. The Chida, in Birkei Yosef and Machazik Beracha, agrees with the
In Responsa Bnei Banim it is written that we should not understand the
Rashba to mean that one should only recite the blessing for his rabbi (as
the Beit Yosef wrote). He proves this from the Orchot Chaim in Berachot who
in Paragraph 45 quotes the Rashba but even so writes later on (65), "One who
sees his friend rise up from a sickness says, 'Blessed is G-d who sent you
back to us and did not send you back into the dust.'" The Meiri comes to the
same conclusion in Pekudat Halevi'im.
The Text of the Blessing for Another Person
According to those who rule that one can recite the blessing for another
person, the text (as given in the TUR and the Shulchan Aruch) is, "Blessed
is He who rewarded you with all the good." Based on this wording, there is
no problem for a father to recite the blessing for his child, since the
concept of "one who is obligated" does not appear, and this is a blessing of
thanks and praise.
Since an important group of early commentators feels that a person can
recite this blessing with respect to somebody he loves or about whom he is
concerned, and in addition this is also the opinion of the TUR and the RAMA,
we conclude that a father can indeed recite the blessing on the occasion of
his son or daughter being saved from danger. This is true even though the
Beit Yosef seemed to oppose those who would recite the blessing, since there
is no definite proof that he meant to prohibit the blessing, as noted by the
BACH and the Tashbetz. (In addition, the Magen Avraham feels that Rabbi Karo
changed his mind.) This is also the ruling of the Aruch Hashulchan.
In practice, one who wants to recite the blessing for his son or daughter
has a strong basis for doing so.
HALACHA FROM THE SOURCE
Interrupting Pesukei D'Zimra with Talk Relevant to the Prayers - by Rabbi
Yosef Tzvi Rimon, Rabbi of Southern Alon Shevut and a teacher in Yeshivat
A question appears in Responsa Igrot Moshe (by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein) about
synagogues where the gabai regularly announces the current page of the
prayers to the congregation (Orach Chaim 1:22). It is clear that between
"Yotzer Or" (the first blessing before Shema) and the end of the Shemona
Essrei such announcements are forbidden, but is he allowed to announce the
pages during Pesukei D'Zimra, the Psalms at the beginning of the prayer? At
first glance this would seem to be forbidden, since the RAMA forbids any
interruption, even for the purpose of a mitzva. But Rabbi Feinstein rules
that it is permitted:
"In any case, if it is necessary for the prayers it should be permitted.
This is because the prohibition of talking at this point is not like that of
Shema, which is an independent prohibition, but rather stems from the laws
of reciting blessings. We find, for example, that one is permitted to speak
about a matter pertaining to the meal after the blessing Hamotzi, as is
written in 167:6. In this case too one is permitted to interrupt after
Baruch She'amar because of the needs of the prayers... But once he has
started Yotzer Or this is forbidden even between separate sections, until
the end of the Shemona Essrei.
"But it is better to write the page numbers on separate sheets of paper.
Then, when an announcement is needed he can hold up the paper with the
correct page number for all to see."
Thus Rabbi Feinstein feels that since this is needed for the prayer itself
it is not considered an interruption. Of course one is not allowed to
interrupt a blessing itself even for this reason (and therefore no
interruption is allowed after the beginning of Yotzer Or, which is
considered the start of a long blessing). However, one may even interrupt
between a blessing and the observance of the mitzva if the need is related
to the mitzva itself. For example, a person who needs salt for his bread is
allowed to ask for it, even between the recitation of Hamotzi and the start
of eating (167:6).
Talk that is necessary for the prayers themselves is not only not considered
an interruption but is not even disrespect for the praise of G-d, since it
is needed for the praise. It is best to try to avoid the need to interrupt
(see RAMA 167:6), and therefore one should try to have markers in the siddur
itself so that there will be no need to interrupt (see Igrot Moshe, ibid).
In a similar way, Rabbi Moshe Sofer allows calling people in the middle of
the prayers in order to gather a minyan:
"I have been asked: If men are in the middle of the prayers and a full
minyan of ten men is not yet there... It seems to me that (calling more
people) is permitted. As is written, Rabbi Eliezer freed his slave in order
to fulfill the need for a minyan (Berachot 47b). The Talmud asks, Isn't it a
sin to free a slave, as is written, 'Enslave them forever' [Vayikra 25:46]?
... The answer is that a public mitzva is different. And we can conclude
that it is certainly permitted to violate a rabbinical decree to gather a
full minyan, even though in general speech is forbidden because it shows
disrespect for G-d. But in this case the purpose is respect for Him, so that
the congregation will be able to sanctify His name with Kedusha, Barchu, and
the Kaddish." [Hitorerut Teshuva 4].
Thus, in view of the fact that one is permitted to free a slave (even though
this is in general forbidden by Torah law) in order to have a full minyan,
one is also allowed to call out to people to join a partial minyan in spite
of the general prohibition to talk during Pesukei D'Zimra, since the
interruption is for the purpose of enhancing the honor of the Almighty. (The
rabbi even allowed calling out for people to join the minyan during the
blessings for the Shema – but this is a surprising innovation. See Pri Sadeh
Even the gabai, the sexton in charge of the prayers, should try to avoid
speaking during Pesukei D'Zimra. If an urgent matter that concerns the
congregation as a whole comes up, he is allowed to talk about it briefly,
but if possible it is better to prepare signs in advance to be shown to the
One should not talk during Pesukei D'Zimra, even for the purposes of a
mitzva. However, one is permitted to speak if needed for the prayer itself.
(An example would be to announce the current page number, something which is
forbidden during the blessings of the Shema.) One is also allowed to speak
if this is needed for a public mitzva (such as gathering people to complete
a minyan or to allow the Kohanim to bless the congregation).
Next week we will discuss the rules for answering Amen, Barchu, and reciting
other holy items.
A LESSON FOR THE CHILDREN
The Holy Land (Part 3) - by Rabbi Yikhat Rozen, Director of the Or Etzion
Institute – Publishing Torah Books of Quality
The story so far: Shimon, who came from Yemen, grew up in a kibbutz, and he
adopted a nonreligious lifestyle. Years passed, and then his son announced
that he would soon marry a girl from the Druze nation. Shimon refused to
* * * * * *
When he had calmed down a bit, Shimon asked his son, "What attracted you so
much to this girl Ouda? She is not a Jew, she is a foreigner! A Gentile! She
is not one of us! What connection can the two of you have?"
"What does that mean, 'What connection can you have?'" Doron was quite
angry. "I told you that she is my friend! She is not foreign and not a
Gentile, and there is no difference between the way we live!"
"But we are not Druze, we are Jews! To be Jewish is to be different, we are
special. We are a nation..." Shimon found it hard to find the right words,
and he asked his son a question: "Tell me, how can you expect her to sit
with you on the night of the Seder? What will she do on Yom Kippur? What
will she say to her child before putting him to sleep? Will she talk about
Moshe or about Nebbi Shuib?"
"This is getting interesting," Doron replied with a smile. "Since when do
Pesach and Chanukah mean anything to you? Or the stories of the Tanach? Does
it really matter so much to you? Let me ask you some questions: What do you
care about all this? Did we suddenly turn religious?"
Shimon did not answer. He went to the closet, climbed up to the top shelf,
and took down a box with an ancient appearance. He rummaged around until he
found what he wanted. He took out a few old and dusty pictures and he showed
them to his son. "Do you know who these people are?"
Doron looked at the pictures. He did not recognize anybody. He saw pictures
of people who seemed to be religious, but they were wearing very strange
clothing. One of them was wearing a strange-looking fez and had long and
curly sidelocks, and long strings hanging down from both sides of his
clothing. Another one held a very old book in his hands. All the images
appeared to have come from another world.
"This is your grandfather Yaacov, who died when you were very young. This is
his brother Moshe. And this is my grandfather." Shimon pointed at the
different pictures and told Doron the names of all the people. "All the
years, I thought that you could grow up without religion, without worrying
about the past, that you would be a healthy son of our nation, without any
need for the mitzvot that were necessary in the exile. But look how far we
have come! Look at what I did! I raised a son who is disconnected from his
own nation, a boy who doesn't know anything about his own grandfather. A Jew
who knows nothing about his own people, who does not have any feel for what
is so special about his nation – how can I put it best? A son who does not
understand how holy a nation we are!" Shimon finished his emotional outburst
and fell onto a chair. He burst out crying.
Doron did not know exactly what was happening to him, but he felt a pull
towards the pictures he had just seen. He felt that his father's words were
very important. He began to understand that there is nothing trivial in
being called a Jew. It was important that in the picture his grandfather,
whom he had never met, was holding a book that the Jews felt was holy and
looked at it in a way that was full of love. Something in Doron's heart
Doron decided to delve more deeply into the little bit that he knew about
the Jewish nation, about Torah and the Jews, about why the Jews are
different from other people. He did not break his ties with Ouda, but the
wedding was put off for an indefinite time. The more he learned, the more he
wanted to study, and eventually he changed his life around and began to
observe the mitzvot and follow the Torah.
It goes without saying that Ouda in the end was forced to find a different
husband. It was not easy, but Doron told her that even though he liked her
on a personal level he preferred to look for a wife from among his own
people. Today Doron is married to a Jew and they have three children. His
father Shimon is very proud of him and of his grandchildren, and he is very
happy that he himself found the way back to traditional Judaism.
(With thanks to Eliyahu Cohen, Bat Yam)
Reactions and suggestions for stories: firstname.lastname@example.org
A WOMAN'S ANGLE
Doing Something Good to Save the World - by Tirtza Frankel, a teacher in
Tehilla High School, Jerusalem
Every year the Torah portion of Pinchas brings reminds me of a very painful
subject: How far can extremism go? On one hand, the Holy One, Blessed be He,
praises Pinchas for his courageous act and even "rewards" him and the entire
nation by stopping the plague. The very thought of what might have happened
if not for Pinchas makes me sick. Many more would doubtless have died, but -
even worse – tens, hundreds, and thousands of the men of Bnei Yisrael would
have been led astray by the women of Midyan into idol worship, and our
nation might have been destroyed. So in the end Pinchas, son of Elazar, son
of Aharon the Kohen, was the right man in the right place, who "put his
finger into the hole in the dyke" just in time and saved the Chosen People
from destruction. This was truly a great deed.
On the other hand, the sages themselves hint to us that the actions by
Pinchas can be viewed in more than one way. And if we consider the matter
carefully we can see that even if we would consider doing such a heroic act
today, nipping the ever increasing number of sinners in the bud by a single
chop of a sword – not only would it be impossible, we would not want to do
such a drastic deed. But then why do we hold up the actions of Pinchas as an
example to teach our children and ourselves? Is it so good to be the one who
interrupts the flow of evil, even by using violence, or is it dangerous, not
ethical, not moral, and possibly even a sin in terms of our Torah of life?
The dilemma becomes greater when we consider the here and now – for example,
if our leaders take terrible actions that we are convinced will lead us down
a path of physical and spiritual destruction. Or, in a very different
situation, when our children choose to follow a path that differs from our
own and there is a danger that they will drag along their brothers, their
friends, and even all the other children of our town, and then the entire
community. What do we do then? Do we put them to shame and cut them off from
the community, in order to teach everybody a lesson? Or do we continue
treating them with kid gloves with the hope that one day they will see the
light, while we meanwhile sit on the sidelines?
In order to meet such a challenge in our lives, we should draw an imaginary
line. One end of the line is the absolute, the one and only clear truth
which can never be doubted in any way. In opposing sin as viewed by this
yardstick, the one who holds it in his hands must act in a decisive way and
with a strong voice. Perhaps he will not avoid any means in order to make
his position clear. At the other end of the line is relativity, the feeling
that there is no such thing as absolute truth, and that perhaps the other
side is right. In this approach we can never know what is absolutely right,
and therefore it is legitimate for any person to choose to be different from
us. One who tends toward this end of the line will never judge anybody else,
and he will certainly not take any action against them, since this approach
implies that the concept of absolute sin does not exist at all. Anything and
everything is legitimate according to this approach.
Okay, where am I on this imaginary line? Not at either end. First of all, I
think it would be good for each and every one of us do adopt some modesty
and humility, to know that it is just possible, as a fleeting shadow of a
doubt, that we are wrong and that the other side is right. This is even true
with respect to halacha and the mitzvot – it is a good idea now and then,
just a little, to take on an approach of doubt. But on the other hand we
cannot ignore the fact that there are some matters that are absolute, clear,
basic values, things which we never want to abandon. I think that when the
Almighty gave us the Torah and told us about the deed of Pinchas He was
asking us among other things to check where we are on my imaginary line. Are
we on the side of total relativity or at the other end, stark fanaticism?
Are we open to choose every new idea that comes into the world, or will we
act like Pinchas and prevent the slide down the slippery slope before it
What I prefer in this case, and let's call it by name, is to adopt a point
of view based on tolerance. Tolerance does not mean that we accept or even
agree with the approach, behavior, or specific acts of a sinner. Just the
opposite: the tolerant person sees the other person as mistaken, spreading
an error, and a sinner, while he himself is righteous and upholds the truth.
And he says this to everybody around him, without shame, with great pride.
But in a heroic act, at the same time that he rejects the terrible error and
the act of sin in absolute and definitive terms, the tolerant person is
willing to tolerate the sinner and his actions. He is willing to sacrifice
his own feelings and let the other person continue in his erroneous way,
even though it causes him great suffering. I think we will be greatly
rewarded by our studies of the Torah portion of Pinchas if we understand
that the proper way to act in our day and age, the deed that will save our
nation, the very essence of heroism, will be to manage to tolerate the
mistakes of the others – to have tolerance and to leave them to their own
PEOPLE OF YISRAEL
The Late Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Meltzer - by Rabbi Uri Dasberg, Z"L, the Zomet
Would you agree to change your job and instead of being the Chief Rabbi of a
city take on an appointment as principal of a yeshiva high school? Perhaps
the readers would not like this, but in a manner of speaking Rabbi Tzvi
Yehuda Meltzer did it twice. After he became rabbi of Pardes Channa in 5696
(1936), he founded the post-graduate yeshiva of Klotzk. Later, he initiated
the founding of a new yeshiva, Midreshet Noam, and he took on the position
of head for a while. Both religious and secular studies were taught in the
school. This was at a time that Rabbi Neria was still saying, "hair will
grow on the palms of my hands before I will allow secular studies in the
Bnei Akiva yeshiva." At the time, there was one grammar school in Pardes
Channa, a combined school for all sectors, religious and nonreligious. All
the pupils, religious or not, joined in the prayers every morning, recited
the Grace after Meals, and wore kippot on their heads. When the demand came
to establish a separate religious school system, Rabbi Meltzer consulted the
Chazon Ish. The decision was not an easy one. The nonreligious students
would become separated from all contact with any religious symbols, but on
the other hand all around the land there was a struggle to maintain the
religious school system. The Chazon Ish told the young rabbi that he would
have to make the final decision. Perhaps this was one of the considerations
in Rabbi Meltzer's decision to leave Pardes Channa and to take on the
position of Chief Rabbi of Rechovot, replacing his father-in-law, Rabbi Tzvi
In this city too Rabbi Meltzer encountered problems with education and with
young people who abandoned the traditions. This was one of the factors in
the decision to open "Yeshivat Hadarom," to later add to it a teachers
seminary, and then to develop the concept of the Hesder – a combination of
Torah study and army service (which yeshiva should be considered the arch-
type of the Hesder yeshivot?). One of the teachers in the yeshiva was Rabbi
Elimelech Bar-Shaul, and after serving as chief rabbi of the city for four
years Rabbi Meltzer traded places with him. Rabbi Bar-Shaul took on the
position of Chief Rabbi of the city.
We very often see people who become completely attached to the chair on
which they sit, without any possibility of moving them away. This was not
true of Rabbi Meltzer. Before his appointment as Chief Rabbi of Pardes
Channa, he was a teacher in Yeshiva Tiferet Yisrael, in Haifa, led by Rabbi
Meir Robman. On the day that the Rosh Yeshiva told Rabbi Meltzer that his
sister had married a Torah scholar, Rabbi Meltzer quit his job. "Why?" Rabbi
Robman asked. And Rabbi Meltzer replied, "You surely promised the groom that
he would be able to work in the yeshiva, but since I know that there is no
room or budget for another teacher, I am leaving." And that is exactly what
Rabbi Meltzer's background was in the old world of the yeshivot. His father
was Rabbi Issar Zalman Meltzer (we wrote about him in issue 1299, Toldet
5770). But the young man was deeply involved in the life in Eretz Yisrael.
For example, he prayed with a "Sephardi" accent because he feared that
praying in an "Ashkenazi" accent might lead to a separation between his
generation and the younger people. He taught Torah lessons to the members of
Kibbutz Beerot Yitzchak when they were spending time in Pardes Channa in
preparation for their move to their own land, and he continued teaching them
when they moved to the area of Azza. (And there his daughter married Rabbi
Yehuda Amital.) At the dedication ceremonies of Heichal Shlomo in Jerusalem,
after everybody finished singing Hatikvah, Rabbi Meltzer stood up and sang
"Shir Hamaalot" to the same tune.
In the year 5714 (1954), Rabbi Meltzer became sick and Rabbi Aryeh Levin
visited him. Rabbi Levin suggested that he should perform the ritual of the
"Lottery of the GRA" (which had been performed by Rabbi Levin in order to
identify the fallen in the Convoy of the Thirty-Five in Gush Etzion). The
verse that came up in the ritual was what King Chizkiyahu had been told when
he was sick: "I have added fifteen years to your life" [Melachim II 20:6].
And Rabbi Meltzer indeed passed away fifteen years later, at the age of 71,
on the fifteenth of Tammuz 5729 (1969).
Words of Torah by our Subject:
"Therefore, I give him my covenant of peace" [Bamidbar 25:12]. "In general
compromise is very good with respect to such matters. And remember that
'shalom' is one of the names the Holy One, Blessed be he. Let G-d guide you
with good advice in all your endeavors and I hope you will be wise and
successful in all that you do." This is what Rabbi Issar Zalman Meltzer
wrote to his son Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda. There are many disputes within the
nation of Yisrael, and there is really no need for a disagreement about
which version of the prayers should be recited, whether Ashkenaz or Sephard.
Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Meltzer organized a combination of the two versions. On
Friday night, both "Bameh madlikim" (Ashkenaz) and "Kegavna" (Sephard) were
recited. Before Aleinu, at the end of the evening prayers, a psalm would be
added (Mizmor LeDavid – Ashkenaz - on Friday, and Shir Lamaalot – Sephard -
on weekdays). In Mussaf on Shabbat, the Kedusha started with "Keter" – based
on the Sephardi custom. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda checked all of these matters with
Excerpts from this Column in Previous Years:
"He was not in the community of Korach... but he died for his own sin"
[Bamidbar 27:3]. By law Moshe was considered a king, and therefore if
Tzlofchad had been among the group that joined Korach in their revolt
against Moshe he would have been judged as a revolutionary against the king,
and his property would have been confiscated. But since he died for another
sin of his own, he is considered as one who was executed by the court, and
his property belongs to his heirs. [Meshech Chochma].
HOLY AND SECULAR
Sergeant Rishonski - by Rabbi Amichai Gordin, Yeshivat Har Etzion and
Shaalvim High School
Sargeant Rishonski, the commander of the patrol, reported in to the command
office. The the battalion commander and his deputy sat at the table, and
they had very serious looks on their faces. "Only one demonstrator was
there," the sergeant explained. "He went wild and approached the fence. He
appeared to be a bit crazy. We called out to him to stop, but he kept
After his opening sentences, which were delivered with signs of hesitation,
Sargeant Rishonsky's voice grew stronger. "I had to choose between two
alternatives. We could shoot him and fill the news with pictures of a
freedom fighter lying in a pool of his own blood, or hold back and let him
pass." He was now showing pride in what he said. "We chose the second path.
We prevented great damage to the image of our country."
The battalion commander was stunned. "Are you aware of the fact that you
acted against orders? The regulations are completely clear. Anybody who
approaches the border should be shot with intent to injure." The sergeant
began to answer but he was interrupted by the ring of the telephone. The
commander told him to wait and answered the phone.
* * * * * *
The commander finished talking and angrily put the phone down. He told his
deputy, "Thousands of demonstrators are crossing the border right now. They
are rushing forward wildly with cries of 'Bilady, Bilady!' (My country!)."
The commander turned to the sergeant: "Sargeant Rishonsky, this phenomenon
did not start out of the blue. Even if the damage that a single demonstrator
could have caused was miniscule, the story did not end there. The indirect
damage that your insane demonstrator caused is tremendous. He destroyed our
deterrence! We can handle a single infiltrator without any problem. But we
do not have any good way to cope with a loss of our deterrent power. Until
today, they were afraid to come close to the border fence. Now, they are not
* * * * * *
After a wait of about an hour, he went into the room of the elderly rabbi.
The rabbi could see the despair in his eyes. He asked warmly, "How can I
help you?" The man replied, "I don't know what to do. The doctors tell me
that I must stop smoking. They say that my lungs have the appearance of a
The rabbi nodded his head. "This is indeed a very difficult task. You can do
it, but it will require a large effort on your part. There is no other way,
and there is no magical cure." The man rose up, angry. "Why is life so hard
on us? Why can't things be simpler?"
The rabbi's face took on a very serious look. After a long and troublesome
silence, he turned to the man with anger in his voice. "The fault for this
entire situation lies with you and with the first cigarette that you ever
smoked. The first cigarette was the first hurdle to be crossed. Before you
smoked your first cigarette you didn't have any problem. You lowered the
barrier, now it is up to you to cope with the problems that you brought on
* * * * * *
It is true that many people are able to smoke a single cigarette and then
stop forever. One cigarette does not necessarily lead to addiction. But it
is also true that no person ever became addicted unless he first smoked that
Not every demonstrator that crosses the border brings thousands more after
him. Not every cigarette is followed by thousands more. But the first one to
cross the border damaged the deterrence factor of the IDF, and the first
cigarette lessened the resistance of the person in the face of the evil of
becoming addicted to cigarettes.
Sargeant Rishonsky is a criminal – no less. He opened up the border of the
country. Because of him, thousands of demonstrators burned the fence along
the border. In the same way, the first cigarette is also no less than a
crime. The first cigarette opens up the way for all the cigarettes that
follow. The first cigarette causes dramatic harm to our ability to cope with
the awesome addiction to smoking.
The crime of the first cigarette is not that it will lead to addiction but
rather that it broke down the fence...
* * * * * *
Before the First World War, lung cancer was a very rare disease. Most
doctors never saw a case of this sickness during their entire career. After
the war, when cigarettes increased in popularity, lung cancer also became
more common. Statistics show that 87% of all lung cancer patients are
In Israel, about 10,000 people die every year as a result of the effects of
smoking. Ten thousand people every year! But even this astronomical number
is dwarfed by the following statistic: The life expectancy of a smoker is on
the average fourteen years less than the life of a nonsmoker. A person who
smokes is consciously giving up fourteen years of his life! (Source: a
report by Dr. Richard Carmona, Surgeon General of the United States).
* * * * * *
In spite of these frightening statistics, a person who is addicted to
cigarettes finds it very hard to stop smoking. Unfortunately, human will
power is very weak. The way to prevent these problems is not to allow an
initial assault on the fence. Do not smoke the first cigarette. The fence
must not be broken down. Do not smoke the first cigarette! It is a terrible
thing to do!
INSIGHTS FOR THE SHABBAT TABLE
Cancelation of the Tamid Sacrifice - by Bar-on Dasberg
This week's Torah portion includes two contrasting ways to serve G-d. One is
a spontaneous outburst of zealotry and the other is the daily offering of
the Tamid sacrifice.
It seems that in the time of the First Temple many prophets operated from a
feeling of fanatic passion, while the subject of a sacrifice that is
repeated every single day did not seem very important to them. On the other
hand, the prophets of the Second Temple scolded the people but the subject
of the Tamid sacrifice was a central one for them (see Ezra 3:5; Nechemia
10:34). When Daniel describes future disasters (8:11-13; 12:11), he also
concentrates on the cancellation of the Tamid (Rashi ties this to the
destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans, while Ibn Ezra feels that it
refers to the desecration of the Temple by the Greeks).
It may be that the difference between the eras of the two Temples is related
to the presence of the Shechina in the First Temple, leading to religious
ecstasy, for good and for bad. Since the Shechina did not appear in the
Second Temple, the nation concentrated on the routine of daily sacrifices.
Based on this reasoning and from the straightforward meaning of the Talmud
in Taanit, it seems that this week we mark the fast of the seventeenth of
Tammuz mainly because of the cancellation of the Tamid sacrifice in the
Second Temple. I will be happy to hear from any reader who can explain to me
why the Rambam writes that on the seventeenth of Tammuz "the Tamid was
cancelled - in the First Temple" [Hilchot Taanit 5:2].
Brief Comments by Our Readers
* I want to compliment MK Zvulun Orlev for his fine article. In my opinion,
the only thing that was missing was a call for unity, which is the only way
at all that it will be possible to regain the hearts of the people. The
inability (or lack of will) to unite harms the possibility of achieving the
goals that Orlev so aptly presented in his article...
* * * Reactions to last week's Hebrew advertisement promoting marriage with
two wives – see note by Rabbi Yisrael Rozen * * *
* At first I thought that it was a joke, but when I realized that it was
real I was shocked, and so were all my friends. As you know, bigamy is
explicitly prohibited by Israeli law.
(Shlomo Tzeviel, Tel Aviv)
* Even though advertising is an important means of paying for the costs of
publication, I would have hoped to see some selection process based on the
basic values of Zomet Institute which would make sure that such items could
* I was astonished to see the advertisement which is opposed to about a
thousand years of halacha and accepted Ashkenazi custom, in addition to the
laws of the country. Are we to believe that "money takes precedence over
(Chaim Wachsman, Jerusalem)
* I wonder if you would have allowed an advertisement promoting child brides
or advocating that the use of drugs is not prohibited by Torah law.
* I am convinced that the rabbis who write in the bulletin are absolutely
opposed to this idea... I request that in the future you check the contents
of the advertising in advance.
(Yossi Gruber, Karnei Shomron)
(Comments refer to last week's issue of Shabbat-B'Shabbato – they must be
sent to Zomet Institute, in Hebrew, by Sunday morning at the latest.)
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SHABBAT-ZOMET is an extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, a weekly bulletin
distributed free of charge in hundreds of synagogues in Israel. It is
published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel, under the auspices
of the National Religious Party.
Translated by: Moshe Goldberg
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