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									Shabbat-B'Shabbato – Parshat Vayechi
        No 1353: 11 Tevet 5771 (18 December 2010)


"Pakod Yifkod" - by Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg, Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavne

Yosef spoke to his brothers using a double phrase, which turned out to be a
code: "Pakod Yifkod" – "G-d will remember you, and He will raise you up from
this land and bring you to the land which He promised to Avraham, Yitzchak,
and Yaacov" [Bereishit 50:24]. According to the Midrash, "Yisrael had a
signal. If any prospective redeemer came with this double phrase, 'I have
remembered...' they would know that he is the true savior." [Tanchuma Yashan
21]. Is this phrase merely a motto passed on from one generation to the next
as a test of the candidates for the role of one who would redeem the nation?

In the Shabbat prayers we say, "You have chosen us from among all the other
nations... and You raised us above all other tongues." [Holiday Amida
prayer]. Rav A.Y. Kook explained that the choice from among the nations
consists of the way we were guided to remove ourselves from all the other
nations and their abominable ways, and to live an upright way of life. But
we did not leave Egypt merely in order to achieve a moral position higher
than that of the other nations, but rather to lift us up to a status which
is higher than the most cultured of the other nations. "You raised us above
all other tongues." Our goal is to be unique among all the other nations, to
have Divine traits and not to accept human perfection as being sufficient.

Sforno proposes a similar idea with respect to the verse, "Yisrael is my
firstborn son" [Shemot 4:22]. It is true that in the distant future all the
nations will have the status of children of G-d, as is written, "When I will
turn to the nations in clear language so that they will all call out in the
name of G-d" [Tzefania 3:9]. But Yisrael will always maintain its position
as the firstborn among all the sons.

And that is the meaning of the double promise given to Yaacov when he went
down to Egypt. "I will descend with you, and I will surely raise you up"
[Bereishit 46:4]. Two ascents are mentioned. One is in order to bring them
once again to the original status that they maintained before they went down
to Egypt, and the second one aims higher than their original point, to a
greater peak. This exalted peak can only be obtained by moving to Eretz

And this is also the significance of the double symbol mentioned by Yosef,
Pakod Yifkod. The first step was to bring them out of Egypt, to make Yisrael
a free nation, like all the others. The second step was making Aliyah to
Eretz Yisrael, to fulfill the promise, "I will surely raise you up." And
that explains why Yosef adds the promise, "He will raise you up... to the
land which He promised to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov." This is the code
which the nation heard in their traditions from their ancestors, that the
only true redeemer would be one who is striving for a double redemption –
release from the yoke of the other nations together with a journey to Eretz

"The nation as a whole, with all its greatness and spiritual strength, with
its exalted soul, will never be able to constrict itself to the narrow
confines of the dream of the late Dr. Herzl, in spite of its innate beauty
and strength... An echo declaring that a despised nation is going to search
for a safe haven from its enemies is not by itself worthy enough to bring
this eternal movement back to life. Rather, a holy nation, unique among the
nations, Yehuda the Lion Cub [Bereishit 49:9], is awakening from its long

slumber and will now return to its homeland, 'to the pride of Yaacov, whom
He loves' [Tehillim 47:5]." [Igrot Hare'iya 571].


Preparing for National Emergencies - by Zvulun Orlev, MK

Near their deaths, the leaders of our nation – Yitzchak, Yaacov, Moshe,
Yehoshua, and David – blessed their children or the followers who would
continue in their ways, looking towards the future.

Ignoring Future Dangers

We can quite often predict the future based on past experience, but it is
human nature to ignore future dangers that are intangible. Mankind is used
to struggling against day to day difficulties and solving mundane problems,
but as far as organizing in advance for future disasters is concerned, what
usually happens is weakness, denial, and repression. As an example, smoking
is a recognized cause of disease and terminal illness, but every smoker
tells himself "It will never happen to me" and finds many reasons to deny
that there is any danger.

What is true for individuals is also true of the entire nation. The national
leadership tends to postpone the preparations for disasters which are not
tangible at a given moment in time. Everybody knows that there are several
important dangers, first and foremost the nuclear danger from Iran and the
threats by Ahmedinejad that he will destroy Israel. The dangers of war with
Syria and with the Hizbullah are also very serious, including a downpour of
very powerful missiles which can reach almost all of the settled areas in
the State of Israel.

On a completely different level, Israel is exposed at a very high level to a
possibility of earthquakes, mainly along the Syrian-African fault line from
Dan to Eilat, and along the fault lines between Beit She'an and the Haifa
bay. Geological forecasters claim that the frequency of serious earthquakes
in our area is about one every eighty years. The last big earthquake took
place in 1927.

Only two weeks ago huge fires broke out on the Carmel Mountains, taking the
lives of 43 prison officers, firefighters, and policemen who were on their
way to rescue others from the fire, destroying 50,000 dunams of forest, and
damaging and destroying the homes of many inhabitants of the area. The fire
also caused grave damage to agricultural lands and to businesses in the

Decreasing Damage by Planning

We have not been privileged in our generation to have a leader in the image
of our Patriarch Yaacov, who called out to his sons, "Gather together and I
will tell you what will happen to you in the end of days" [Bereishit 49:1].
In our time, every person is responsible for his own personal fate, and the
national leadership is responsible for the fate of the country and its
citizens – to predict what threats and dangers await us, and to try to
prevent them or to limit the damage as much as possible, if a tragedy does
occur, G-d forbid. It is clear to all of us that preparedness involves
questions of priorities and of the price that we are willing to pay to
accomplish a specific result.

In this article we will not discuss preventing the Iranian nuclear threat.
But we must take the time to openly discuss the need to be prepared and to

decrease any damage that may be caused by other threats, and not to refuse
to talk about such matters. If we depend only on our national leaders, we
may be in for some very unpleasant surprises.

Many years ago, innumerable committees and many expert reports concluded
that the best integrated defense for protection against missile attacks in
the north of Israel and against earthquakes is to strengthen public and
private buildings. Israel has had a building code to protect against
earthquakes since 1976, but many of the houses in Israel were built before
that date. And since 1991, the building standard has required all individual
homes to have a private shelter. And more than half the buildings in Israel
do not have a security room.

The National Outline Plan ("Tama 38") was amended in 2005 to provide credits
and incentives to encourage strengthening existing buildings against the
danger of earthquakes and for building of individual shelters for each
apartment. Up to now, fewer than 200 buildings have been strengthened in the
entire country. What is needed is a basic change in the plan, and I have
proposed a law that was approved in a preliminary reading and is being
prepared for the next stage, a first reading in the Knesset. This is a good
opportunity to thank my friend, Advocate Yitzchak Natowitz, who helped write
the proposed law. The goal is to lead to a situation where the majority of
the buildings in Israel will be strengthened and protected with shelters, so
that the homes will act as a fortress for those who dwell in them and to
prevent the homes from becoming their graves. For the information of my
readers, more than 250,000 people were killed in the earthquake in Haiti,
while in New Zealand and in California not a single person was killed or
injured in stronger earthquakes, because of strict adherence to the building
codes which protect against earthquakes.

As to the great fire on the Carmel, not much can be said. The recent report
of the State Comptroller reveals all the failures and the lack in the
national firefighting services, without holding back at all. The Comptroller
did not see that as sufficient, and he also outlines the main features of a
proposed national program to guarantee the establishment of a worthy
national firefighting organization. It is our task, as with all the other
dangers and threats, to do everything that we can so that this report will
not gather dust but rather will be put into effect as soon as possible.

Public Opinion has a Critical Effect

Civil involvement which can help formulate public opinion has a very strong
influence on the way the public leadership acts and on setting priorities.
This means that the citizens of Israel must meet the challenge of forcing
their leaders to make adequate preparations to counter the dangers and
threats discussed in this article. Even though this involves fateful events
and natural disasters, we have the power to limit the damage significantly.
And no time should be wasted in this matter.

Next week's Torah portion is Vayechi – and he lived. We must observe the
command, "Let him live by them (the commandments)" [Vayikra 18:5]. As the
Rashbam comments, "But if he does not act, then the souls who participate
will be cut off from their nation."


The Blessings for Pleasure and the Blessings for a Mitzva - by Rabbi
Yehoshua Shapira, Rosh Yeshivat Ramat Gan

Reciting a blessing is a common experience in our daily lives. But if we
take a careful look at this phenomenon we will see that it gives us an
opportunity for a very unique experience. Is it really such a simple a
matter to turn to the Holy One, Blessed be He, and address Him with the
phrase, "You are blessed" – in the same way that a person turns to a friend
who is next to him at the time?

It is true that we use the same phrase in our prayers. But when we turn
towards the ark in the synagogue and dedicate our hearts in the direction of
Jerusalem and towards the Holy of Holies – it is easier to understand that
we feel that we have the right to use familiar language in our contact with
the Almighty. This, after all, is the praise of Yisrael with respect to the
other nations, "For what other nation is so great that it has G-d close to
it, like our G-d, whenever we call out to Him?" [Devarim 4:7]. The fact that
we stand opposite G-d with a feeling of being close and in His presence is a
wondrous shattering of the borderlines, closing the gap between the Creator
and His creatures.

But a blessing, as opposed to prayer, goes one step further. Reciting a
blessing does not require a person to abandon all other pursuits, to go to a
House of G-d, and to stand before the Almighty in a special pose that shows
respect for the Divine. Rather, a blessing is part of the normal process of
life, while a person eats and enjoys other pleasures, almost as if the king
himself accompanies the human being and is present during all of his or her
activities. A blessing lifts up daily life to such a status that – as it
were – all human actions take place in the presence of the Holy Master.

When we recite a blessing giving thanks for a benefit, we - who do not have
anything in this world that is really our own – achieve the status of people
who have been invited to the King's table because we are close to Him. If we
know to look at the blessings that come out of our mouths in this way, we
must certainly begin to have feelings of thankfulness, comfort, and joy, for
the great kindness shown by the King and for the right to approach so close,
even though in reality we are very far removed from Him.

This is true of blessings recited to thank G-d for a benefit. But the
blessings recited when we perform a mitzva are at an even higher level. With
such blessings, we are no longer enjoying a royal feast or benefiting from
the good and the kindness of the Almighty, rather we are doing what He wants
us to do. This act of compliance carries with it an unparalleled clinging to
G-d, and it is hinted at by the added words in the blessing for a mitzva, as
opposed to the blessings for a benefit. These extra words, which guide us to
a very exalted position, are the phrase, "He who sanctified us with His
mitzvot and commanded us..." The author of the Tanya, the first Rebbe of
Chabad, explains this wording of the blessing in the following way: "He who
sanctified us with His mitzvot – this can be compared to a man who marries a
woman who will be tied solely to him, as is written, 'And he will cling to
his wife, and they will become as one flesh' [Bereishit 2:24]. This is an
exact description of how the soul that is involved in Torah and the
mitzvot... is enveloped in the infinite holy light. This explains why King
Shlomo compared this clinging in Shir Hashirim to the unique relationship
between a bride and groom – in clinging, yearning, desire, hugging, and

In line with this approach, it should be clear that with respect to the
blessings for the mitzvot, G-d's proximity to us is not related to how He
wants our good, provides us with abundance, and looks after our wellbeing,
but rather to the fact the He chose us – the community of Yisrael – as His
mate. Each and every person in Yisrael, when observing the mitzvot and
performing the will of G-d, is privileged to receive a renewed wedding ring

which is an expression of the Divine love and of G-d's desire to see us as a
mate who can join the King in His own room and become part of His flesh.

Every mitzva has an external side which appears as a command, telling us how
to put G-d's will into practice. But beyond the external aspect, to which we
dedicate ourselves willingly, there is also an entire internal world of the
intentions of the mitzva, which emphasizes not a command but a way of acting
together. At this point, G-d is asking us to perform His will just as a
groom asks his bride to wear his wedding ring and to become sanctified to
him and be his wife. And this is the meaning of the phrase, "He sanctified
us with His mitzvot."

ONE ON ONE – Interview of the Week

A Garden of Eden for a Psychologist - by Nachum Avniel

Prof. Elchanan Meir (74) is a somewhat unexpected figure among the students
of the yeshiva at Otniel. After a career for many years as an occupational
psychologist, this indefatigable professor took his place on the benches of
the Beit Midrash. He says, "This is a Garden of Eden, you can study all day
long with fantastic teachers and with a huge library. You walk down twenty-
five steps and you even get three meals a day here."

"The very fact that you are talking to me can be credited to the wisdom of
my father, Of Blessed Memory," Prof. Meir says. His parents fled from the
open arms of the Nazis. They decided to move to Eretz Yisrael after the
infamous newspaper "Der Sturmer" printed an article that a Jewish doctor,
Aharon Karl Meir, would not let his children take candy from the hands of a
Nazi. Seventy-seven later, after this article appeared about his father and
the family moved to Eretz Yisrael, Prof. Meir has this to say: "Even before
Krystallnacht any Jew mentioned in the paper would have been killed."

Elchanan studied in the Chorev School in Jerusalem. He remembers British
armored cars moving along the streets and declaring a curfew at the time of
the execution of Dov Groner. He also has fresh memories of the blockade of
Jerusalem during the War of Independence. He spent most of his army service
as a counselor in the Ezra movement to which he belonged. "We did our basic
training in Tzerifin. At the time we still practiced with Chech rifles and
Sten guns." This memory amuses Elchanan.

At the time of the Sinai Operation, Elchanan was given half a day off in
order to register at the university. This young man chose a profession that
was almost unheard of at the time – psychology. But there was a problem –
the department did not open up, since the head was murdered in the convoy to
Hadassa Hospital. Following the advice of Moshe Zanbar – who later became
the Governor of the Bank of Israel – Elchanan started his first year in the
university majoring in statistics and sociology. In his second year he
returned to the study of psychology. He later continued to study psychology
for a Masters Degree.

Q: What were you able to do with a degree in psychology at the time?

A: "When I finished studying I took a job in the 'Hadassa Career Counseling
Institute' as head of the research department. I wrote tests and developed
research tools for thirty-five years. After I received my advanced degree, I
began to teach in Tel Aviv University, where I spent thirty-nine years. In
1968 I was ready to get a doctorate, but there was no senior lecturer in
Israel who had the knowledge to be my advisor, so I went to Holland."

Between getting his first and second degrees he met Rachel. She was a
registered nurse in Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, an expert in treating diabetes,
and the daughter of Rabbi Professor Binyamin De-Peres. They were married,
and they have five children. "Now I have six times as many grandchildren,"
Prof. Meir says, sounding very happy about this turn of events.

Q: Do you see the expansion of mental treatments as a good thing, or does it
increase the dependency of the patients?

A: "Support is a good thing, and it does not matter if it is given to a
child who falls down, to a couple who are getting a divorce, to a Prime
Minister who does not know how to negotiate, or to a commander who does not
know how to be authoritative. Today the field of occupational psychology is
very interesting, because even if a person remains in the same profession
all the time, the work itself changes. The materials used change, the
technology becomes more sophisticated. It is necessary to continue learning
new things all the time."

After a long career, including   stints as a major in the Navy and as head of
the Union of Psychologists and   the Psychological Council, Prof. Meir left
the profession in 2001. He had   the right to spend two years on a sabbatical,
but instead he decided to join   the Hesder yeshiva in Otniel.

Q: What is it like to be together with such young students?

A: Elchanan doesn't hesitate for a moment. "It is wonderful! This group has
many talents and is very intellectual. It includes musicians, paramedics,
and actors. I study twelve hours a day. I am currently in the first year
class, and I am older than the total ages of four of the other students. I
could go to a higher class, but I want to study with a number of teachers.
Once a week I give a lecture on the weekly Torah portion. I feel that my
academic style of thinking helps me to understand better. Both the young and
more advanced students in the yeshiva can see how a person can study out of
a love for Torah. With the support of the yeshiva, I have published booklets
called 'Shavat Vayinafash' – short notes about the weekly Torah portion from
a psychological point of view."

Q: Does your experience in psychology help you in your relationships with
the other students?

A: "Our connection is based on our Torah study, but the fact 'that there is
a psychologist in the group' is definitely helpful. After a terrorist attack
that took place in the yeshiva several years ago, a student came to see me
at twelve-thirty, in the middle of the night. He told me that he was in
contact with a girl and that they were going to be married, but that when he
told her about the attack he felt that she pulled away from him. I asked him
if his level of excitement when he was speaking to me was similar to his
emotional level when he talked to his girl friend. When he answered in the
affirmative, he realized that it was his own preparation before talking to
her that had interfered with his emotions and not defective contact with the
girl. That Friday night, when we sang the words 'Come, my bride' in the song
Lecha Dodi we looked at each other. He winked at me and I responded with
another wink. They are now married and they have a number of children."

E-mail: zenachum@gmail.com


by Bar-on Dasberg

The Missed Opportunity

At the end of this week's Torah portion we read about returning from Egypt.

No, I am not confused about the weekly portion. All of the people of Bnei
Yisrael (except for the infants) left Egypt in order to bury Yaacov in
Chevron. Rashi notes the parallel between this journey and the future one
after the redemption. "'And his sons carried him' [Bereishit 50:13] – He
arranged their positions – three to the east and same number for every
direction. This was the same as the way they journeyed carrying their
banners later on in the desert. Levi did not participate since his tribe
would carry the Holy Ark, Yosef did not carry the body since he was a
viceroy, and Menashe and Efraim took their places of these two. This is what
is meant by 'Each man by his banner, according to the signs' [Bamidbar 2:2]
– according to the signs that their father gave them, how to carry his
casket." (It is interesting to note that the parallel of the Tabernacle at
the time of the Exodus from Egypt was Yaacov's casket during his funeral.)

At this point in time, the exile in Egypt could have come to an end. (And to
those who ask, how the prophesy that "They will enslave them and make them
suffer for four hundred years" [Bereishit 15:13] would have been fulfilled,
we have been taught that a harsh prophesy can be cancelled under appropriate
circumstances.) However, to our sorrow, all of Bnei Yisrael returned to
Egypt, and they were enslaved for another 193 years.

Evidently, in spite of the possible alternative, Bnei Yisrael did not have
any intention of returning to their homes, since they "left their infants
and their sheep and cattle in the Land of Goshen" [Bereishit 50:8]. When a
Jew's financial base is outside of Eretz Yisrael, he might be drawn into
remaining there. For the future, the prophet promises us, "... to bring your
sons from far away, together with their silver and gold" [Yeshayahu 60:9].

Jewish Mourning

After our Patriarch Yaacov passed away, he was given the "final honors" in
two different ceremonies, that of the Egyptians and that of the Hebrew
family. This gives us an opportunity to compare the two sets of rites.

"And Egypt wept   for him" [Bereishit 50:3] as opposed to "And they eulogized
there... and he   mourned for his father" [50:10]. The goal of weeping is
emotional calm,   while the purpose of a eulogy and mourning is to channel the
emotions into a   better understanding of the dead person and his life.

The Egyptians wept for "seventy days" [50:3] as opposed to "seven days"
[50:10]. In the Tanach, seven days is the time span of a process, a time for
closure. This must then be followed by a return to the normal life cycle.
Seventy days gives the appearance of a sanctification of the concept of

"And they embalmed him" [50:2] as opposed to "and they buried him" [50:13].
Even after death, human beings try to "keep in touch with eternity" and to
keep the dead person in their minds. The Egyptians tried to preserve the
body and therefore embalmed it, but in our tradition the body has finished
its task and can be buried, while the spirit and the heritage of the dead
person remain alive. "Yaacov our Patriarch did not die... Just as his
descendents are alive, so he still lives" [Taanit 5b].


Resting from Running around in Circles - by Rabbi Shlomo Shok, teacher in
the Nokdim Prep-school

Usually when an author composes a poem the result is not totally reflected
in the exposed surface layer that is clearly visible on the page. Short
lines that consist of a few solitary words will have several layers of
meaning. Even a poem that appears to be quite innocent can be very full of
various levels of significance. The question is whether we have the time and
the inclination to peek within, to understand in depth, and to reveal the
inner meanings, or if we are always rushing to some other place. Who has
time today, beyond the daily rushing around, to find out what might be
hidden within the printed words?

Prof. Zali Gorovitz has a novel way of looking at innocent children's songs
which we heard as we grew up, with which we raised our children, and which
we all sang. Prof. Gorovitz reveals to us that the songs are not as innocent
as they appear. For example, take the well known song "Ugah, Ugah," by
Aharon Ashman:

                               A circle, a circle
                        Let us go round in a circle.
                         We will turn around all day
                             Until we find a place
                           To sit down, to stand up
                           To sit down, to stand up

The words "a circle, let us go round in a circle," describe our circular
movements from one morning to the next. We chase our own tails and we cannot
find a place for us... And even when we find a place in the end of the song,
we still continue to sit and stand. (Note that the root of the word to
"stand" is "kum," which appears in the word "makom," a place.) But if so,
when will the respite of redemption from the circular journey come? When
will we understand that like cats we can never catch our own tails? How can
we step back, even partially, from the dizzying circle of life, especially
in view of the mounds of whipped cream that we usually associate with this
song (interpreting "ugah" as referring not to a circle but to a cake),
leaving us no room on the top of the cake?

                             Go to the big city
                           Along the quiet river.
                             Perhaps a conflict
                             Will come upon you
                                Here and now.
                             I am in this place
                         But not in order to catch
                          Something that is vital.

In the big city, the amount of running around can be tremendous. "We will
turn around all day" ... to look for contrasts sharply with the tumult of
the big city. This contrast can induce within us a feeling of calm that will
free us from the dizzy spin of "going round and round in a circle." And then
we may be overtaken by the possibility of experiencing the "here and now"
without our feeling that we must give up something vital.

Then, we can "sit down and stand up," for we have finally found a place of
our own. We can spread out within the moments of time. There is no reason to
hurry. Even when we get up, we do not have to disconnect from our own place.
We can continue moving along the quiet river and stop running around the
cake, thinking all the while that the whipped cream is someplace else.


The Dependable Women of Yisrael - by Rabbi Yikhat Rozen, Director of the Or
Etzion Institute – Publishing Torah Books of Quality

"Dear Women of Yisrael: Light Shabbat candles! The time for candle lighting
this week is ..." This ad appeared every Friday on the front page of the New
York Times for many years. Many Jewish women read this ad and knew when to
light candles. They very much appreciated the fact that this newspaper, even
though it belonged to Gentiles, set aside a space to let the Jews know when
to light candles.

Only a few people knew the truth about these ads.

The editor of the New York Times did not care at all about candle lighting
time. A few years before, a group of Jews had tried to convince him to put
in a regular notice about the time. They explained to him that this was
important information for the many Jews who read the paper, and they claimed
that it would increase the circulation among the Jewish readers. But the
editor refused. "No," he said. He explained that "I cannot waste the space
for an announcement that only interests a small number of Jews. What do the
readers of my paper care about the exact minute when the Jews light the
Shabbat candles? Go advertise in a Jewish newspaper."

But the Jews did not give up easily. "How much would an ad on the first page
cost?" they asked. "It is very expensive," the editor replied. "A small
advertisement will cost at least $2,000 every time it appears. After all,
everybody reads the first page, and the price for such ads is very high."
And the Jews answered, "We will look into it."

It did not take very long for them to find a Jewish philanthropist who was
willing to pay the large sum of money in order to advertise the candle
lighting time. He paid for an ad every week, and the text that he put in was
what we quoted above: "The time for candle lighting this week..."

Many years passed. For various reasons, the man could no longer pay for the
ads, and they no longer appeared.

Before the new year of 2000, a number which attracted a lot of attention,
the editors of the New York Times decided to print a special edition with
some very unusual articles. The lead headline was: "Continuing arguments
about the law giving robots the right to vote for Congress." Another
headline was about a proposal to add Cuba as one of the United States.
Everybody knows that Cuba is a fierce enemy of the United States, and the
article about it joining the country was indeed surprising. But the entire
first page was filled with unusual and imaginary future headlines. To
understand these stories, all the readers had to do was to look at the date
on the page: January 1, 2100 – that is, a hundred years in the future. This
was a futuristic prediction, based on the imagination of the reporters on
the newspaper who tried to predict what would happen in another hundred

The strangest item in this imaginary page was an ad that appeared at the top
of the page: "Dear Women of Yisrael: Light Shabbat candles! The time for
candle lighting this week is 4:27." This seemed to be so weird and out of
place in this futuristic newspaper that journalists from other newspapers
were astounded. One stubborn reporter was able to reach the editor of the
Times and he demanded to know: "Tell me - what is the meaning of this Jewish

advertisement that you put in your festive newspaper for 2100? Your rich
philanthropist certainly didn't pay you for the ad, did he?"

"No, he didn't pay," the editor replied with a smile. "I put the ad in
myself. I have no idea if a hundred years from now there will be an argument
about whether to give robots the right to vote. All the other articles which
appeared are the figments of our imagination, and there is no way to know
which ones will turn out to be real and which will not. But I am sure of one
thing: On January 1, 2100, which happens to be a Friday, no matter what else
is going on, Jewish women will light candles at 4:27 pm."

(Source: As told by the musician, Mussa Berlin)

Reactions and suggestions for stories: yikhat1@smile.net.il


Trapped by the Net – by Yoni Lavie, Manager, "Chaverim Makshivim" Website

I finished giving my lecture and I started putting everything away in my
case. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him standing off to the side. A
young boy, perhaps better described as a child, with an innocent face and a
look of embarrassment. He hesitated. Should he approach me or not? I looked
at him with a friendly smile and invited him to come closer. I had given a
lecture on the subject of "Struggling with the Internet." I asked the boy to
walk with me to my car. I could see that he had something bothering him on
the inside that was waiting to come out, and all that was needed was some
encouragement. And then the boy started with a slow stammer and went on in a
steady flow. He had celebrated his bar mitzva only half a year before. He
was in the seventh grade, an excellent student, the oldest of four children.
What subject would he want to talk about, if not a downfall on the internet?
With lowered eyes, he told me how in recent months he had been drawn into
the depths of the abominations of the net. He was exposed to materials that
are not suitable for children, that in fact are not suitable for any age.
His innocence was gone, he felt how the poison flowed through his veins. He
had no idea how he could extricate himself from the slippery slope.

"Tell me," I asked him gently, "Are there any blocks on the internet in your
house?" He picked up his eyes and we looked at each other. I could see the
pain that engulfed him. "No," he replied in a voice full of suffering. "My
parents say that there is no need, that they trust me to know how to surf
only to appropriate places..."

     * * * * * *

From The Marker, 2008: "Sixty percent of the children in Israel surf to
pornographic sites." Yediot Acharonot: "Most of those who surf to sex sites
are between 12 and 17 years old." The statistics are shocking, the numbers
are frightening. In most homes in Israel, including in the religious sector,
the internet lines are completely open. Israel lags far behind most other
countries in the realm of laws to protect children from internet harm. This
means that the responsibility falls on the parents. But when you ask in
wonder how they allow such a dangerous situation in their homes, the typical
answers that you hear are:

- "The blocking systems are not worth anything at all. Today's young people
know how to bypass everything." (The truth is that most of the children do
not have the skills of international hackers, and most of the time they are
not searching for negative material. If blocking unwanted internet sites can
save them from random accesses to pornographic material, isn't the effort
worth it? To take another example, safety belts in a car do not provide
hermetic protection against death in accidents, but what fool refuses to use
them anyway?)

- "We want to teach our children to be able to cope for themselves." (Don't
worry, they will have plenty of opportunities for similar struggles in their
lives. Would you send a six-year-old out into a busy street alone, so that
he will learn how to cope with traffic?)

- "I know my child, he is a good boy. Such things do not interest him at
all." (Why shouldn't a good boy or girl be interested in such things? They
are young, healthy, and curious. Aside from this, even without meaning to,
they may encounter semi-pornographic material on regular news sites.)

- "We have a contract for a year with an internet provider and we can't move
over now to a safe provider." (Well, this seems to be a convincing argument.
A loss of money is involved. How much do you pay for school during the year?
Isn't it a pity to throw the whole sum away in a single unguarded night in
front of a computer?)

     * * * * * *

Experience has shown that the average young boy or girl is not capable of
fighting alone against the temptations of the internet. They need us, the
parents, to be there for them, to help them, to protect them. Dear mothers
and fathers, nothing is more precious to us than our children. I am
expressing a silent cry of many boys and girls who are wonderful, talented,
charming (your children, right?)... and miserable. "Help us, save us, we
cannot stand up to this test!" Will we abandon them in this matter, where
they need so much help from us??

P.S. This article specifically mentions children because it is perhaps
easiest to discuss them. But just between us, don't we as adults also need
this protection?


"Every Girl Climbed to the Peak to See" [Bereishit 49:22] - by Rabbi Uri
Dasberg, the Zomet Institute

The father of the generation of the "knitted kippa," the founder of the Bnei
Akiva yeshivot is a well known figure – Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neria. But every
"knitted kippa" is accompanied by somebody who made the kippa, and it can be
assumed that this was a girl who studied in an Ulpana. Who, then, is the
father of those who do the work? The answer is: Eli Sassar. He did not want
to be called by such titles as rabbi or doctor, simply by his name: Eli. He
was chosen by Rabbi Neria to establish the first Bnei Akiva Ulpana in Kefar
Pinnes. Before he started this project at the age of 28, in the year 5720
(1960), he had a long list of accomplishments: he made Aliya from Germany
with his parents (with the name Sharshavsky) at the age of two; he graduated
from Tzeitlin High School in Tel Aviv; he was a counselor and the head of
the Bnei Akiva branch in Bat Yam; he performed his army service; he studied
geology in the Hebrew University; he worked in the youth department of
Hapoel Hamizrachi together with Pinchas Kehati during the time of the
Maabarot, the tent cities for new immigrants during 5712-5713 (1952-1953);
he studied in Yeshivat Chevron in Jerusalem, including studying once a week
with Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook and with the "Nazir"; and he was part of the
first class of renewed studies in Yeshivat Merkaz Harav.

In order to establish the Ulpana there was no need for a long beard or for a
long list of titles. What was needed was a person who was modest, decent,

and honest – one who would be a role model for the girls. And this figure
was found: Eli Sassar. This led naturally to the "honor system" of tests of
which the Ulpana is so proud to this day, and to the Sheirut Leumi service
which the graduates adopted as a standard in their lives. The first class
had 26 graduates, and Eli continued as the principal for seven years. He
then decided to participate in settling the abandoned lands of Yehuda and
the Shomron, and he moved to Karnei Shomron. He was the principal of the
high school in Kefar Sava, then he was the head of the religious department
of Aliyat Hanoar. Afterwards – how could he stay away from the job? – he
became principal of the Ulpana in Elkana, in the Shomron. He was one of
those who proposed to establish a Hesder Yeshiva in Karnei Shomron, based on
his conviction that a settlement needs a yeshiva and a yeshiva needs a

After he left his job for early retirement, he did not abandon the field of
education, and he continued with lectures to teachers, in the yeshiva and
not an ulpana, in Kiryat Arba, even though this was far away from his home.
He spent one day a week on this volunteer task. Actually, it was a day and a
night – even though he had family in Kiryat Arba, he slept one night a week
in a prefab hut in the yeshiva, in order to experience the same living
conditions as the yeshiva students. He died suddenly in a prefab, on the
sixteenth of Tevet 5757 (1997), at the age of 64.

The Eli'a Midrasha in Charish is named in his honor. This institution
organizes field trips in the areas of the Carmel and the nearby valleys,
works to enhance the Jewish identity in religious and nonreligious schools,
and runs seminars on the topic of Judaism.

Words of Torah by our Subject:

"And I buried her there, on the road to Efrat" [Bereishit 48:7]. Efrat can
be viewed as an acronym: Irua – an event; Peirush – an explanation; Regesh –
feeling; Teguva – reaction. When a man has the traumatic experience of
losing his wife at a young age, he is affected in three stages: He first
searches for a rationalistic approach to what happened to him; It influences
his feelings; And this is followed by a practical reaction. Yaacov first
reacts in a rationalistic way by deciding, "I buried her there." Rashi notes
that in this way she will in the future help her descendents on their way to
exile. Yaacov expresses his feelings with the phrase, "Rachel died on me" –
"Rachel's death is the worst of all the troubles that I have suffered" [Ruth
Rabba 2:7]. And his practical reaction was, "And Yaacov placed a monument on
her grave" [Bereishit 35:20].

The rationalistic or emotional interpretations of a traumatic event are not
always the right ones. Yaacov crossed his hands when he came to bless Efraim
and Menasheh (Bereishit 48:14). Yosef felt that logically Yaacov was showing
a preference for Efraim and he reacted in an emotional way, "It was bad in
his eyes" [48:17]. His reaction was, "And he took hold of his father's hand
in order to move it" [ibid]. But Yaacov shows Yosef that the logical way he
understood the event was wrong: "He will also be a nation, and he will also
be great" [48:19]. And the emotional interpretation was wrong too: "But his
younger brother will be greater than he will be" [ibid]. The proper reaction
is therefore that "He put Efraim before Mehasheh" [48:20].

Source: Avner Sassar, in his father's name.


Are the Morning Blessings Thanks for a Benefit or Praise for the Almighty? -
by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, Rabbi of Southern Alon Shevut and a teacher in
Yeshivat Har Etzion

The Rambam writes (Hilchot Tefilla 7:9) that the morning blessings can be
recited only when a person has a direct obligation. For example, only one
who hears a rooster in the morning should say, "He who gave the rooster
understanding..." And one who did not sleep does not say, "He who opens the
eyes of the blind" or other blessings related to sleep. In addition, the
Rambam insists that the blessings should be recited as soon as the
obligation is incurred, as is noted in the Talmud, and they should not be
recited in the synagogue as an independent set of blessings. According to
the Ramban (Innovations on Pesachim, 8a) and the RAN, one is permitted to
recite the blessings even if he has not incurred a direct obligation.

What is the basis for this disagreement? The early commentators explain that
the Rambam and the others do not agree whether the early morning blessings
are to be considered as praise of G-d or as giving thanks for a benefit.

The TUR (46) gives as a reason for the morning blessings, that one should
not derive any benefit from this world without first reciting a blessing.
This implies that the purpose of the morning blessings is to give thanks.
This corresponds to the approach of the Rambam, that the blessings should be
recited only in response to a direct obligation, as is true of all blessings
giving thanks for a benefit. On the other hand, the explanation of the
Ramban implies that the morning blessings are praise for G-d, and they can
thus be recited even without any direct obligation.

In the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon it is written (25) that the blessings should
be recited in the synagogue. The Shulchan Aruch also writes that this is the
proper custom (46:2). He explains that the hands are not pure in the early
morning, and also that the uneducated people do not know how to recite the
blessings. On the other hand, the Shulchan Aruch rules like the Rambam, that
the blessings should not be recited unless an obligation has been incurred

Evidently the Shulchan Aruch ruled in principle according to the Rambam and
therefore tried to avoid reciting a blessing without an obligation to do so.
However, from the point of view of reciting the blessings in the synagogue,
he evidently felt that the hands are not pure first thing in the morning,
and he therefore accepted the custom of reciting the blessings together in
the synagogue.

It may also be that the Shulchan Aruch sees these blessings as personal
praise of G-d. He therefore rules leniently, that a person is not required
to recite them as he wakes up (since perhaps it is not necessary to recite
blessings of praise at the precise moment of the obligation), but on the
other hand he is stringent in that they should not be recited without a
specific obligation. Evidently the students of Rabeinu Yona agreed with this
approach (Berachot 89). (This can be discussed further in view of what
appears in the Talmud Yerushalmi, Berachot 9:2, but it will not be expanded

The RAMA disagrees with the Shulchan Aruch. He feels that the blessings are
related to the nature of the world, and that they can therefore be recited
even without a specific obligation (46:8).

In practice, the approach of the RAMA has been accepted not only by the
Ashkenazim but also by the Sephardim. The ARI agreed that the blessings
should be recited even without a specific obligation (Shaar Hakavanot 73a),

and this is accepted in Birkei Yosef (12), Kaf Hachaim (9:2), and Responsa
Rav Pe'alim (2, Orach Chaim 8). This is the accepted custom of the Sephardim
(as noted by Terumat Hadeshen (34), when there is an accepted custom to
recite a blessing, it is not overridden by a desire to be lenient when in


According to the Ramban and the RAN, the early morning blessings are praise
for the nature of the world, and everybody should recite them. They should
be recited as a single unit in the synagogue. The Rambam feels that these
are individual blessings for receiving a benefit, and they should therefore
be recited only by those who have incurred an obligation, and as soon as the
obligation occurs. The Shulchan Aruch rules in an intermediate way: only
those who have a direct obligation should recite the blessings, but it can
be done in the synagogue.

In practice, both the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim recite the early morning
blessings even if they have not incurred a direct obligation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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
To subscribe, write to dan@zomet.org.
    Visit the Zomet Institute web site: http://www.zomet.org.il
Contact Zomet with comments about this bulletin or questions on the
link between modern technology and halacha at: zomet@netvision.net.il
Or: Phone: +972-2-9931442; FAX: +972-2-9931889 (Attention: Dan Marans)
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