Monday, July 30, 2012

הדרן עלך תלמוד בבלי

I just returned from the Modi’in City Siyim HaShs, together with the city Chief Rabbis, as well as Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau (who in Modi’in is known as “Rabbi Lau’s Father"), Rabbi Bakshi Daron, and about 300 other people.DafYomiCertificate

This wasn’t in a football stadium or large hall, rather it was a deliberately smaller affair in the Yeshiva Beit Midrash for the Rabbanim and participants who have spent the last 7 1/2 years working our way through the 2711 pages of the Talmud Bavli.

However, with great sadness, I have decided that after 7 1/2 years of effort, I won’t be continuing with the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi (although אי”ה I will return to Daf Yomi at some point).

Daf Yomi is an excellent learning cycle, the gruelling pace means that you are always struggling to keep up, always looking for an extra 10 minutes to learn, always have a book to open if you have some free time.

Also, for children in a family to see their father (or mother?) going out to a shiur every evening or morning (or both) is an important educational message.

However Daf Yomi comes at a price. The many hours and fast pace mean that there is little time for real learning; you almost never use your thumb in a Daf Yomi shiur. Even a serious student will only understand a limited amount of each daf, some students not even that.

It is for these reasons that I have decided that for the next while, instead of Daf Yomi, I’ll start learning some of the things that I’ve wanted to learn but never had time. This includes:
  • Mishna Yomi – 2 Mishnayot a day only takes a few minutes, however in those few minutes it is possible to get a good understanding of the Mishna and within a few years it is possible to finish all of Shas Mishnayot (even without booking a football stadium)
  • Nach Yomi – A Perek of Nach each day, also only takes a few minutes, and in just over a year it is possible to finish all of Nach – how many people are Baki in Gemara, but aren’t familiar with basic stories in Tanach?
  • Gemara B’Iyun – Instead of a Daf a Day, I’m planning to join Rabbi Lau’s weekly Baba Metzia Shiur. He doesn’t cover a daf each session, on a good day he will cover a few lines. To learn gemara and build a personal relationship with someone who has a serious understanding of Shas has enormous value.
  • Learn with a Chavruta – I have set up two Chavrutot, one to learn Nach, the other Gemara. The active process of learning with a Chavruta is far more valuable than have Maggid Shiur do all the learning for you
  • And Acharon Acharon Chaviv, learning with my kids – last year I started learning Rosh Hashana with my son, and nothing gives me greater joy. If I have time in the evening when I’m not running out to Daf Yomi, that would be an excellent opportunity to learn with my other kids, each at there own level.
Even with this limited learning schedule (and we’ll see if I can keep any of it up), I think that I will get more value out of my time learning and still have more time free to spend with my family or help out around the house.

And אי”ה I will still be able to return to Daf Yomi (Hadran Alach), maybe not this year, but maybe next year or the year after – or maybe not until the next cylcle in 7 1/2 years time.

So, if you have 40 minutes extra each day to learn Torah - how would you spend the time?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Laws of Tisha B’Av After Shabbat

Rabbi David Lau, Rav of Modi’in just publicized a summary of the Hilchot Tisha B’Av B’Motzei Shabbat.
Following is my translation (original Hebre below):

Rabbi David Lau – Rav of Modi’in – Appropriate behaviour for 9th of Av on Motzei Shabbat

We should treat this Shabbat as every Shabbat of the year.

1. On Shabbat, after mid-day, even though according to the Rama it is permitted to learn only things that are permitted to learn on 9th of Av. However According to my teacher the Gaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach זצ”ל I learnt that we should rely on the Taz and the Gra who wrote that on Shabbat you can learn whatever Torah the heart desires.

It is appropriate not to cancel regular classes, however it is correct to learn topics relevant to the day.
People who recite a chapter of Pirkei Avot, if you didn’t recite it before mid-day, you can recite it in the afternoon.

2. The Shulchan Aruch (552:10) rules that if the 9th of Av falls on a Sunday or on a Shabbat, you can eat meat and drink wine at the final meal (Sudat Mifseket) [on Shabbat afternoon] and fill your table even like a banquet of King Solomon during his reign.

The Mishna Brura (Sif Katan 160) quotes the Magen Avraham, who says that this meal should be eaten alone, but the Bachor Shur argues that if you avoid sitting with friends and singing Zmirot, it has an appearance of public morning on Shabbat, which is forbidden.

So, the Halacha is that it is appropriate to sing in honour of Shabbat, even at Sudat Shlishit, even though this is the Sudat Mifseket.

Ideally you should bentch before sunset, however if you do not manage to bentch in time, you can still bentch after sunset.

You should stop eating before sunset on Shabbat which is 7:41 pm [in Modi’in].
It is correct to delay the time of Maariv in shul so that preparations for the fast will not take place on Shabbat.

When Shabbat ends, at 8:20 pm [in Modi’in] you should say “Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh Lchol”, remove shoes, change out of Shabbat clothes and into weekday clothes, and take you Kinot book and Megilat Eicha with you to shul.

In shul, after the Amida of Maariv, before reading Eicha, someone should light a candle and the chazan should recite “Borei Morei Ha’aish” on behalf of everyone else. Any man or woman who didn’t hear the chazan make this bracha, should make the bracha for themself.

Anyone who is not fasting should make Havdala on Motzei Shabbat, or on Sunday morning before they eat, but not use spices. Ideally they should make havdala on a “Chamar Medina” (for example beer or natural fruit juice). If there is no other suitable beverage for havdala, it is permissible to use grape juice and drink the minimum shiur, and no more.

And the end of Tesha B’av which falls on the 10th of Av, it is permissible to have a haircut at night, wash, and do laundry. The custom is to avoid eating meat and drinking wine until the next day.

הרב דוד לאו רב העיר מודיעין - ההנהגה הראויה בתשעה באב שחל במוצאי שבת היא כדלקמן:

 אנו נוהגים בשבת זו כבכל שבתות השנה.

1. בשבת אחרי חצות היום, אמנם דעת הרמ"א היא שמותר ללמוד רק דברים שמותרים ללמוד בתשעה באב. אבל ממו"ר הגרש"ז אויערבך זצ"ל למדתי שסומכים על דברי הט"ז והגר"א שכתבו ללמוד בשבת תורה היכן שליבו חפץ.
ראוי שלא לבטל שיעורים קבועים, אם כי נכון ללמוד בעניינים הקשורים למהותו של יום.
אומרים את הפרק בפרקי אבות. מי שלא אמרו לפני חצות היום יכול לאומרו אחר חצות.

2. פסק השולחן ערוך (סי' תקנב ס"י), חל ט' באב באחד בשבת או בשבת וכו', אוכל בשר ושותה יין בסעודה המפסקת, ומעלה על שולחנו אפילו כסעודת שלמה בעת מלכותו.
המשנה ברורה (ס"ק פג) מציין שהמגן אברהם ישב בסעודה זו בדאבון נפש, אבל הבכור שור הוכיח שאם לא יישב בסעודה זו עם חברים, וישיר ויזמר, יש כאן גילוי אבילות בפרהסיא, ואסור הדבר.
לכן להלכה ראוי לשיר ולכבד את השבת, כראוי, גם בסעודה שלישית, למרות שהיא סעודה מפסקת.
רצוי לברך ברכת המזון לפני השקיעה, מי שלא הספיק יכול לברך גם אחרי השקיעה

מפסיקים לאכול לפני השקיעה ביום השבת, בשעה 19:41.

נכון לאחר את זמן תפילת ערבית בבית הכנסת, כדי שההכנות ליום התענית לא יתחילו בשבת.

בצאת שבת 20:20 אומרים "ברוך המבדיל בין קדש לחול", חולצים נעליים, מחליפים את בגדי השבת לבגדי חול ולוקחים את ספר הקינות ומגילת איכה לבית הכנסת.

בבית הכנסת, אחרי שמונה עשרה של ערבית, לפני קריאת איכה, מדליקים נר ומברך החזן להוציא את כל הציבור "בורא מאורי האש". איש או אישה שלא שמעו את ברכת החזן יברכו אחר כך בעצמם.

מי שאינו צם יבדיל במוצאי שבת, או בבקר יום ראשון לפני האכילה, ללא בשמים. לכתחילה ראוי להבדיל על חמר מדינה, משקה (כגון: בירה, מיץ פירות טבעי!). אם אין משקה אפשר להבדיל על מיץ ענבים ולשתות כשיעור הנדרש ולא יותר.

במוצאי תשעה באב השנה, שהוא י' באב, מותרים בלילה בתספורת, רחיצה וכיבוס. נוהגים להיזהר מאכילת בשר ושתיית יין עד למחרת.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A new class opened in the Heavenly Beit Midrash

Yesterday, a new class arrived to the Heavenly Beit Midrash. Five Israeli tourists holidaying in Europe, who died על קידוש השם, together with their guide and bus driver tragically had their vacation end in tragedy.  And the Maggid Shiur in that new class would be none other than Rav Elyashiv זצ"ל.

Rav Elyashiv was escorted to his final resting place by quarter of a million mourners. The tourists in Bulgaria, like Eliahu HaNavi, were taken in a chariot of fire.

I don't know anything about the identities of the victims of yesterday's terrorist attack, but if they are admitted to the World to Come together with Rav Elyashiv, together they will be able to answer the questions, "Did you set aside time to learn Torah" and "Did you see My Alps".

What to me was tragic about yesterday's news, besides the loss of life and families in morning, was the divisions within Israeli society that were highlighted. While driving home yesterday, the radio stations that I tuned in to all had a dedicated broadcast to the breaking news story. The only problem was that some stations were talking about Rav Elyashiv and the legacy he left behind without mentioning terrorism in Bulgaria, while other stations talked about the tragedy in Bulgaria, without mentioning the death of one of the leaders of our generation.

It seemed like the radio stations were broadcasting to audiences who lived in different worlds from each other. Unfortunately, that is the reality of today's society in Israel, we have broken into different groups living completely different existences. Not so much "Sinat Chinam" as just oblivious to the reality that other people live in.

Rav Elyashiv married in the courtyard of Merkaz HaRav; the shadchan that introduced him to his wife was Rav Tzvi Yeuda Kook.
Today it is almost inconceivable that a student of Rav Elyashiv would even visit Merkaz, let alone meet his Bershet through one of the Rabbanim of that Yeshiva.

I didn't attend the funeral last night (I was at a shiur on Web Yeshiva - highly recommended), but from the pictures it looks like it was a sea of black hats,with very few people with other headcoverings. Similarly, at Rav Mordechai Eliahu's funeral 2 years ago, there were few people there without a Kipa Sruga.

As we approach Rosh Chodesh Av and the 9 days, we should all take a few minutes to stop and think about "the other", those people  who don't think or dress the same as us.
As soon as their news is our news and their pain is our pain, maybe, just maybe their joy will be our joy as we dance together in Jerusalem this Tisha B'Av.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Don't challenge Bibi to a game of chess

I think that the whole country woke up this morning to the surprising news that after 70 days in the coalition, Mofaz has had enough.

When Mofaz joined the coalition I though that it was a great life saver for him; the only thing that could stop Mofaz was if he was unable to implement a new draft law.

I though that passing a draft law would have been the easiest undertaking of any politician ever, given the support of the three biggest parties, the supreme court, and a large percentage of the population.

To make it even easier, the irrational opposition from the Chredi leadership (e.g., claims that it was based on antisemitism, or that there was an unprecedented attempt to eradicate Torah from Israel) meant that their objections had lost all creibility.
 But always able to grab defeat from the hands of victory, Mofaz decided to go for an "all or nothing" approach to the negotiations (negotiations with supports of universal draft, not with opponents), and as most negotiators know, if you adopt an "all or nothing" approach, you probably won't get "all".

Now the ball is in Bibi's court, if he was really smart, he should sit down quietly with Liberman and over the next 2 days hammer out the details of a draft law. Think where that would leave him:
  • Mofaz and Kadima would be history - 70 days of negotiations and committees and headlines to create a universal draft bill couldn't achieve as much as 2 days of quiet backroom talks.
  • Bibi would get the support of the majority of Israelis who favour a universal draft.
  • The Charedi politicians would reluctantly accept the new law, which at least saved them from  Plassner, which would have been worse
  • Yair Lapid would have the wind taken out of his sails as he was a one-issue party and the one issue would have been taken off the national agenda
  • There would be opposition to Bibi's new law from both Charedi and anti-Charedi politicians (no matter what the details of the law), which would prove that Bibi hadn't given in to extremist demands on either side. 
  • While the headlines are dominated by the new Bibi-Liberman bill, and the whole country is distracted (especially if there are colourful demonstrations in Kikar Shabbat and Kikar Rabin),  Bibi could quietly implement whatever economic and security measures he thinks necessary, and no one would even notice.
Bibi - the ball is in your court.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Amazing Meeting - where?

I was just reading about "The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM)", a "celebration of science, skepticism and critical thinking" that just took place in Las Vegas (Apparently even atheists have a problem with Hadarat Nashim).
Anyway, I found it very confusing - I thought that everyone knows that this type of conference isn't suitable for Vegas, isn't the Atheist Conventionin LA?

PS - sorry that this blog has been so quiet lately, I recently started a new job and have had less free time :)