Author: Micha Berger


Rabbi Dr Seth Mandel zt”l

There is something I wanted to check today in Chovos haLvavos, Shaar haBitachon. … My question revolved around specific wording.

And this is only a couple of days after losing the rebbe-chaver who would have explained the original Judeo-Arabic Al Hidayah ila Faraid al-Qulub, the word Rabbeinu Bachyah ibn Pequdah actually used!

R Dr Seth Mandel not only held a PhS in Linguistics from Harvared, specializing in Semitic Languages. He is a Rav I am sure pasqened for you personally. If you ever ate meat with OU shechitah, you relied on his decision as the OU’s Rabbinic Coordinator for all of Shechitah.

We met some 44 years ago….

The Tomb of Shemu'el haNavi 0

The Yahrzeit of Shemu’el haNavi

[A] custom arose, as recorded by the Radvaz, to come to Nabi Samwil, the traditionally identified location of his gravesite, tonight, on his yahrzeit. A bit north of Yerushalayim. And there children would get their first haircuts. When Shemu’el was weened, he was sent to the Mishkan to live. And he was a nazir, who did not cut his hair his entire life. So there is a logical connection between Shemu’el haNavi and haircuts. Also moved into the Mishkan after he was weened and he grew up there, thus giving the navi a connection to toddlers turning into boys, as well.


Derashos haRan – Derashah #2, chaburah #3

Next meeting is Thu 23-Apr, 8pm EDT.

In this chaburah, the Ran explained how Yaaqov and Eisav were set up to have differences and conflict. Last time we met we focused on how their birth was miraculous (and how to pray for miracles) and now the Ran is exploring why.
The Yaaqov – Eisav conflict plays out three times,,,,

Yachatz 0

Yachatz – Broken Matzos

When Moshe counts the Jews, each man of military age contributes a half-sheqel … One of the Ran’s themes in his first derashah is the idea that a compound will generally be superior to the components. … The Ran continues that what is true for elements and compounds is true for individuals and the community. … There is a similar theme to the step of Yachatz in the Seder.


Parashas Tzav and the Book of Mrs. Job

Vayiqra is about the qorban as performed by the person bringing it. Tzav is the qorban as performed by the kohein. These are two totally different things. Each of us live in our own world.

We have a book of Iyov, which tells the story of the tragedies Iyov lived through. But Iyov’s wife? There is no book explaining her tragedy. Nor that of his children. Those would have been very different books with very different stories. Every person impacted by an event is a protagonist in and of themselves, and Hashem insures that their experiences and duties make sense for them within their own perspective.


Derashos haRan – Derashah #2, chaburah #2

This derashah discusses Yaaqov, Eisav, antisemitism, Hashem’s love for the Jews, and how prophecy can tell a future that free will still leaves malleable. In this week’s chaburah, we saw the Ran’s understanding on how prayer can effect change, and the relationship between metaphysical causes and physical events.


Derashos haRan – Derashah #2, chaburah #1

This derashah discusses Yaaqov, Eisav, antisemitism, Hashem’s love for the Jews, and how prophecy can tell a future that free will still leaves malleable. In this chaburah, we learned the Ran’s understanding of the gemara’s rule that Edom hates Yaaqov. How did two twins end up so far apart?


Derashos haRan – Derashah 1

All the chaburos in which we learned the first derashah of Derashos haRan are now available on YouTube!
If I were to summarize the topic, the Ran opens with the idea that…


Neo-Chassidic Spirituality and Self-Focus – a Pothole to Avoid

A big problem, and perhaps The Big Problem, of the Orthodox community as it revived post-Shoah has been “Frumkeit”, as Rabbi Wolbe defines the term. Doing mitzvos out of an instinct that I need to be holier, rather than out of a desire that Hashem’s Will be done. It is a self-centered and self-serving orientation, as are all instincts. Rav Dessler would say it is coming from one’s Will to Take rather than one’s Will to Give. … Neo-Chassidus, with its focus on my relationship with G-d, doesn’t have many tools to fix that. Going to a kumzitz or a singing minyan to have an inspirational moment certainly don’t. All it offers is a hope that one internalizes one’s studies.