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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook

“Love and faith are always linked to each other, both radiating within the soul in all their might. When the light from one of them is complete, the second will be aroused by the first, and will emerge from the depths of the soul to shower light on the entire person.”

(Orot HaTechiyah 69)


Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

Message for Today:

Pesach – in Egypt and for All Time

The miracle of the Exodus occurred with suddenness, in starts and stops. The redemption came with lightning speed after hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt. All at once for all to see, both Israel and Egypt, G-d’s omnipotence was revealed, unlimited by time and space. All saw that when G-d wishes it, He can redeem us suddenly. We are commanded to relate this miracle to our children generation after generation:

“When you come to the land that God will give you, as He promised, you must [also] keep this service. Your children may [then] ask you, ‘What is this service to you?’ You must answer, ‘It is the Passover service to God. He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians, sparing our homes.'” (Exodus 12:25-27)

And regarding the Pesach offering it says, “You must eat it with your waist belted, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand, and you must eat it in haste. It is the Passover (Pesach) offering to God” (12:11).
Rashi comments:
“The offering is called the ‘Pesach’ [Hebrew for “pass over”] because G-d passed over the Jewish homes amongst the Egyptian homes, skipping from Egyptian to Egyptian, with the Israelites in between being spared. Therefore, you too must perform all the entire service with alacrity, skipping for the sake of G-d.”
Also the matzot were made with alacrity: “[The Israelites] baked the dough that they had brought out of Egypt into unleavened (matzah) cakes, since it had not risen. They had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had not prepared any other provisions” (12:32).

The miracle of the Exodus occurred with suddenness and with haste, and we consumed the Pesach offering hastily as well. Yet our sages teach us that Pesach offering in the future will not be consumed in haste but slowly and moderately (Pesachim 96a).

In our own generation as well, the generation of our national rebirth, we must distinguish between redemption that is akin to the Pesach offering of Egypt, miraculous, hasty redemption, and non-miraculous redemption which occurs gradually. As Rabbi Ya’akov Moshe Charlap taught:
“Since in the redemption from Egypt the main thing was the liberation of the spirit, the redemption therefore occurred hastily. Yet as far as the physical liberation, the majority of the nation, with their exilic character, feared everything and wished to return to the exile, saying, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt’ (Numbers 14:4).”

Not so the future redemption, which will be followed by no exile. There, the body as well will be redeemed. Therefore, that redemption is proceeding very slowly. All this applies only as far as the physical redemption, but the redemption of the spirit will be hasty in the future as well. Rav Charlap continues:
“‘The L-rd, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in, behold, he is coming!’ (Malachi 3:1). Nature advances gradually. Miracles come suddenly. When it comes the turn of the soul to be redeemed, the light of the soul’s redemption will suddenly begin to shine and to emanate…. And the sons will return to their Father in Heaven with remarkable repentance, with total love, following the L-rd their G-d and clinging to Him… And even those far removed from G-d and from His Torah will hear and will come to crown G-d with the crown of kingship.” (Rav Charlap, MiMa’ayanei HaYeshua 21:4).

Then, through us will be fulfilled, “A redeemer will come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob – the word of G-d. As for Me, this is My covenant with them – the word of G-d. My spirit that is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed’s seed – the word of G-d –
henceforth and forever” (Isaiah 59:20).
Looking forward to complete salvation,


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Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Beit El

Gender Separation Among Teachers

Question: Is it permissible to hold teacher-training courses for male and female teachers together? Can workshops, teachers’ meetings or teacher staff rooms be mixed gender? Can male and female teachers go on trips together or participate together in meals with the aim of fostering staff cohesiveness?
I am a female teacher and I sometimes feel that we are lying to ourselves.
Answer: A major principle of the Torah is that men and women should stay far apart. They shouldn’t just stay apart, but “far apart” (Even HaEzer 22:1). The essence of the ruling is quoted in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch by Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, in easy Hebrew:
“A man should keep himself far apart from women. He is not allowed to signal with his hands or his feet or his eyes to a woman. He is not allowed to laugh with her, be frivolous with her, or gaze at her beauty…. He is not allowed to gaze at the colorful clothing of a woman he knows, even if she is not presently wearing them, lest it lead him to licentious thoughts about her… If a man looks even at the pinky finger of a woman with intent to derive pleasure from this, his sin is very great. He is forbidden to hear a woman sing or to look at her hair. Men shouldn’t say hello to women at all, and they shouldn’t even send regards to them via the women’s husbands.” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152:8-9).

These laws are appropriate for every Jewish male, let alone for those of them who have undertaken the holy mission of educating Jewish boys and girls to Torah and mitzvoth. Therefore, all the answers to the above questions are almost superfluous: Everything we teach our children about the importance of boys and girls learning separately we must practice ourselves as educators. All the teacher-training sessions, workshops and all other activities must be conducted with gender separation, and where it is essential that all the teachers be together, we have to insist on the following rules:
1. In coeducational teacher-training sessions involving a frontal lecture, the men teachers should sit in front and the women teachers should sit in the back. The female teachers can ask questions. All the above is proper even when the teacher training sessions are going to be held over the course of a year or two.
2. Yet the places where teachers rest and have light refreshments, drinks and cake have to be separate, because it is natural that in these places a pleasant social atmosphere is created that does not go together with the separation required of men and women, let alone with what we demand of boys and girls.
3. As for workshops and other small-group discussions, when the entire discussion is going to be professional and work-related, that is legally permitted, on condition that everyone sits around a table and not in a circle. Yet in actual fact, such workshops should be conducted separately, because a pleasant, friendly social atmosphere is naturally created, especially if that same group will be meeting in additional long-range teacher training sessions. Moreover, sometimes there are immodestly dressed women, which likewise causes sin and confusion.
4. As for male and female teachers having meetings together in the framework of the school, the educational reality makes them a necessity, hence care must be taken that everything said is work related and not social, that the discussion be restricted to professional matters, that those present not meet in a circle but around a table, men on one side and women on the other, and that they avoid telling jokes and stories.
5. As far as trips or meals for the sake of making the staff more cohesive, it goes without saying that these must be gender-separate, with one set for me and another set for women.
6. When a Shabbaton is held for male and female teachers and their families, seating at the lectures over the Shabbat should be separate, as above, and recreational activities should be totally separate. At meals, only one family should sit at each table. Fostering staff cohesiveness is certainly important, but there is no purpose and no allowance for a teacher to achieve cohesiveness with his friend’s wife. Obviously, only the men should sing.

As stated, all of the above goes without saying, for what seems fitting and proper regarding our male and female pupils we must first fulfill ourselves. Doing so is both right in terms of Jewish law and also so that those we are educating will take our teaching seriously. They watch everything and they see us.

Our sages said long ago that a real educator is not someone who tells others what to do, but someone who does the right thing himself. Then, there is a chance that his students will follow in his footsteps.


Rabbi Azriel ArielGuest Lecturer at Machon Meir

“Tell Your Son!” – The Seder: A Night of Education

In the Torah there is no explicit mitzvah to educate children to faith in G-d and to mitzvah fulfillment. Yet there is one mitzvah which is an exception, and which indicates something about all other cases, namely, the mitzvah of recounting the Exodus story at the Pesach Seder. The Torah states, “Tell your son on that day saying, ‘It was on account of this that G-d took me forth from Egypt'” (Exodus 13:8). The mitzvah of making a seder is replete with educational instructions which can be applied to other spheres as well.

The law that the mitzvah of the Hagada is precisely on the 15th of Nissan our sages derive from the expression “on account of this”: “The word ‘this’ indicates that there should be matza and marror set before you at the Seder.” The value of the story is precisely when it is accompanied by the events being spelled out. The father doesn’t just deliver a frontal lecture. There has to be something you can taste with your mouth, the matza and marror.

Even though the wording of the Hagadah goes very far back, the way the story is told changes from one situation to another (we all are familiar with the different answers given to the questions of the four sons). Rambam writes (Chametz U’Matza 7:2):
“The father must teach his son in accordance with the son’s mindset. How so? If the son is unintelligent or very young, his father says, ‘We were all slaves in Egypt, just like real slaves we know about. On this night, G-d redeemed us and took us out of Egypt.’ If the son is older and wise, his father tells him what occurred to us in Egypt, and tells about the miracles performed for us by Moses. It all goes according to the son’s mind.”

The story as told to the older son must be adapted to his ability to absorb abstract concepts, while the story to the younger son must be accompanied by props for spelling it out, taken from the world that the son is familiar with. This finds expression in the special wording of Rambam (Halachaha 6):
“In every generation, a man must SHOW himself as though he himself just now exited the slavery of Egypt.”

The normal wording of the Hagada is that a man must “VIEW” himself. From this Rambam derives the widespread custom in many Jewish communities of the parents putting on a play, showing the exodus to their children, in order to bring it alive for them.



Translation: R. Blumberg


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