Maran Hai! Our Hiyuv to the Gedol Hador

Maran Harav Ovadia Yosef Zasa”l. It is heard to say the “Zasal” after saying the name of Maran Harav Ovadia. I really don’t feel worthy to say anything about Maran so all I want to say is the few things he would be telling us if he were with us today.

A) Learn Halacha- people don’t learn enough Halacha LeMaaseh. Is is that hard to take out a Yalkut Yosef which is found in virtually every Sefaradi Shul in the world or a Kisur Shulhan Aruch Gantzfried and to get down some basic Halachot every day? For those who don’t speak Hebrew there are still tons of Sefarim you can find- they have Kitzur Shulhan Aruch in English from many publishers. For Sefaradim, they have Yalkut Yosef in English, they have HaRav Reuven Amar’s Kisur Shulhan Aruch, they have Anshe Hayil and many many more. I think this is one of the things that Maran really devoted his life to as you can see from his Sefarim. Most of his Sefarim were published on Halacha. If you’re a Lamdan take out a Yabia Omer or Halichot Olam and see his beauty. For those who don’t understand there is Daily Halacha of Mori WeRabi HaRav Mansour Shelit”a which has 1000’s of Halachot Al Pi Pesakav Shel Maran HaRav Ovadia Zasal. Maran writes in Yechawe Da’at 6:52 about this Inyan and writes that instead Baale Batim getting taught Daf Yomi in their Zeman HaLimud they should Halacha. See what Harav Moshe Levi Zasal says about this in Wehaer Enenu. That’s it, there are no more excuses- if you love Maran, learn Halacha and become an expert. There is much more to say about this ואכמ”ל.

B) Daven that our Bene Yeshivot will not get drafted. Maran Zasa”l, as we know lost his eldest son Rav Yaakov Zasa”l who was by the way an unbelievable Talmid Hacham, never mind the fact that he was the son of Maran. Maran said to Bibi Netanyahu who came to visit him (paraphrase) “I have a lot of pain over the loss of my son, but the Gezera over the Bene Yeshiva pains me more.”  Enough said. 

If I missed anything, comment.


Sefarim Pesulim # 2

Question to Harav Meir Mazuz Shelit”a: יש לי בבית סט ספרי הזוהר של ההוצאה של ברג עם פירוש הסולם (זה סט בצבע כחול שיצא לפני שנים), שזה הוצאה חיצונית שאין רוח חכמים נוחה מהם, ולא הוסכמה לדעת רוב הרבנים. ואני רוצה לקנות לי סט חדש ולהוציא אותה לגניזה, אך מור אבי ז”ל שהוריש לי כמות גדולה של ספרי קודש, ציווה אותי בצוואה לשמור על ספרי הקודש לא ליגרוע לא למכור ולטפחם ולשמרם. האם ספרים אלה בכלל הקודש? או שכן וצריך לחשוש לצוואה?

Answer of Harav Mazuz Shelit”a: אם תוריד את הדף הראשון שכתוב בו השם של ברג המוציא לאור – הספר עצמו כשר.

WARNING against…


Some rules when learning the Shulhan Aruch

In the Sefer Shulhan Arukh of Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575) there are some principals that are necessary in order for proper applications can be followed. First a small introduction on how to he ruled will also be presented. When Maran (“our master” sometimes Rabbi Yosef Karo is referred to in this way) wrote the Shulhan Aruch, he based his rulings mostly on three Rabbis: Rif (Rabbi Yis’haq Alfasi), Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon), and the Rosh (Rabenu Asher). When comes to the conclusion he bases it on the majority. Of course, sometimes he bases he conclusions on the other Rishonim (such as Tosafot, and the Rashba).             When it says the Halakha without saying “Yesh Omerim- some say” that is the way he holds (Yad Malakhi, Siman 14). The only reason Maran  stated this second “some say” practice was to show honor to those that hold so (Helqat HaMehoqeq, Eben Ha’Ezer 1:11). There are those that say that the reason that Maran writes “some say” in the cases where it is meaning in a way of Humra (stringency), it is to show the Mahmir (stringent) opinion and there is to follow them even though it is alright to be lenient (Or Lesion, Heleq 2).

  •  However, when he writes “Yesh Omerim, WeYesh Omerim- some say, and some say” it means that we follow the second opinion (Birke Yosef).
  •  When it says “Yesh Mi SheOmer- there are those that say” it means that this is his opinion on the matter (ibid. 103).
  •  Wherever it says “Yesh LeHezaher- there is to be careful”, it means there is to be careful from the beginning, however after the fact it is okay (Mahziq Berakha, Siman 630).
  •  When it says “Tob- it is good” it means this the Halakha from the beginning, however after the fact it is alright.
  •  Whenever its says “Loqeh- lashes” it means even in our times, this person is not kosher to be a witness.                                        Lastly, if it says in Maran or Rama “Hefsed Merubeh, O’Sha’at HaDahaq- a large loss, or an emergency” they mean it is really permitted, however usually in these cases the other Posqim are very stringent on the matter. (Sede Hemed, Siman 16).

Parashat Wayishlah: The fight with the Angel…

The Torah tells us (1) “And Yaaqob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn…And he (the mystery man) said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking,” but he (Yaaqob) said, “I will not let you go unless you have blessed me.” First off, who was this man? Second, why did he fight Yaaqob? Didn’t he know that Hashem said that he would guard Yaaqob? Third, why did Yaaqob ask him for a blessing?

These questions are answered by three different Mefarshim: the first by Zohar (2) ,the second by Rav Yaakov Abuhasira (3) Rav Elchonon Wasserman, and the Shela (4). Let us briefly answer the first answer: the “person” that fought Yaaqob was the “Samech Mem”, also known as the Satan.

The second question has two different answers. The first goes as follows (Rav Abuhasira). The word Yaaqob is: Yod Ayin Kof and Bet, while the word Yaabeq (wrestle) which is used in the Pasuk is: Yod Alef Kof Bet. What is the difference between the two? The Ayin and the Alef. Each letter represents something. Yod- Yihud (oneness), Ayin- Anawa (humility), Kof- Kedusha (holiness), and Bet- Beracha (blessing). A few chapters ago we learn that Yaaqob married two sisters, Rahel and Leah. The word Ahayot- sisters is what this Pasuk is trying to tell us; Yaaqob married two sisters, and that is why he went after him! The Satan thought that if he married two sisters he will have power. Why? Because the only thing that get rid of the Satan is Anawa- humility, and once Yaaqob married two sisters, he removed the humility from his name leaving space for the Satan to attack him.

The second answer teaches us a very important Yesod-foundation of Judaism. Rav Elchonon Wasserman tells us something brilliant. Why did the Satan wait for Yaaqob? Why didn’t he fight Abraham or Yitzhaq? The answer is, because the only thing that separates us from the other nations is the Torah! What did Yaaqob represent? Torah, that is why the Satan chased him. It isn’t that Abraham-Hesed and Yitzhaq-Tefila/Aboda aren’t important, it is that the Torah separates us from the nation and promises us the continuity of our nation. THE LESSON: set times to learn Torah because it is the only thing that will keep our nation lasting.

The answer to the third question goes as follows. All angels have at least good, some have evil, but all angels have some good in them. At the end of Yaaqob wrestling the angel, he said something strange: “bless me”. Why did he ask for a blessing at that exact time? The Shela answers, because that was the Satan time of his good. Because as we mentioned before all angels have good, but when the portray it is only at specific times. Yaaqob knew that this was the time of good for this angel and wanted to capitalize and get that blessing.  THE LESSON: the lesson here is, for example, one can have a very funny joke but if he says it while someone is in mourning it won’t be that funny. However, one can have not so funny joke, and says it while people are already in a joking mood, people will laugh because it is timed correctly. Same thing in life, we have to learn how to be wise and time things correctly.

1) Bereshit 32:15-18

2) Wayishlah 170a

3) Mahsof HaLaban Wayishlah

4) Shela pg. 128

Shabbat Shalom


Where people went wrong with Kaballah…

The Arizal (1), the Gemara (2), the Rokah (3), the Sefer Hassidim (4), Rav BenTzion Abba Shaul (5), Rav Ovadia Yosef (6), Shach (7)Rav BenTzion Mutzafi Shlit”a, and the list goes on of Torah genius who warn against the improper teaching and learning of Kaballah. In my opinion  is based on what I read from the Sefer “Matan Torah” by Rav Yehuda Ashlag with comments by Rav Avraham Gottleib. In the first chapter of his book, he states why he started writing all these works on Kaballah and why he made them so accessible to the common man.  The problem is, people misunderstood what he was writing in that first chapter; people thought it meant that everyone should be studying Kaballah. However, he clearly stated that the purpose of his projects in Kaballah was to explain Kaballah authentically (to those who should learn), because in the past few hundred years the printing press has been very accessible to anyone who wants to write anything they can think of about just about anything.

To summarize where people went wrong: I think most people went wrong on purpose using this beginning chapter as a basis for their directionless learning of Kaballah. However, there are those who may have misinterpreted the words of this holy Sadik.

1) Hakdama to Etz Haim

2) Hagiga 13-14b (see Maharsha to 13), Kiddushim 71 (see Maharsha), talking about learning the Shemot

3) Sefer HaShem, he was talking about the learning of Shemot

4) Sefer Hassidim 471

5) Or LeSion, Mussar, Torah ch. 7

6) Yechawe Daat 4:47

7) Yoreh Deah 246:6