By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz | Wednesday, December 17, 2014
As we observe the Yom Tov of Chanukah, it is interesting to note that there is a mitzvah of zeh Keili ve’anveihu to perform a mitzvah in its most perfect form.
We find in hilchos Chanukah that the hiddurim in the mitzvah of lighting involve the type of oil and wicks used to light the menorah and providing a menorah for every member of the family. After the fire burns for a half hour, it may be extinguished. The Mishnah Berurah [672, 6] writes that there is no hiddur mitzvah in having it burn longer. I have long wondered why. We would think that the longer the candles remain lit, the more of a hiddur mitzvah it would be.
During the month of Cheshvan, Rav Shmuel Reich z”l passed away in Kiryat Sanz. He was 90 years old at the time of his passing, although based on the story of his life and his vast accomplishments, he could have been mistaken for being 200 years old. Like many others, I went to his home in Netanya to offer my condolences to his twelve sons. His sons have all carried on his legacy, and he was proud of them all. One is a dayan in Antwerp, another is a rov in a shul in Tzefas, and a third was known for being the gabbai of the Rebbe of Sanz-Klausenberg, the Shefa Chaim. The main purpose of my visit was to see his son Moishe.
The split between Aryeh Deri, chairman of the Shas party and the man who occupied that position until 13 years ago, and Eliyahu Yishai, who took over for Deri on a temporary basis, was unavoidable. The rift between them began after the elections for the Fifteenth Knesset, when Shas received a record 17 mandates, but Ehud Barak insisted he would not negotiate with the party unless it fired Deri, who had been convicted in a criminal court, from his position of leadership. Who gave Barak this idea?
Our Chachomim explain the Hellenist’s decree against keeping Shabbos, Milah, and Rosh Chodesh as follows. One can understand that Shabbos and bris milah are the tenets of Yiddishkeit, bringing emunah into the hearts of our brothers. Shabbos proves that the One Above created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh, while the mitzvah of milah is a fundamental one, for which Klal Yisroel have risked their lives throughout the generations. However, what of Rosh Chodesh?
By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz | Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Of course the headline grabbed my eye, a bold caption announcing the arrest of several rabbis. The article described how a group of female clergy from Manhattan’s Upper West Side had been taken into custody after causing a public disturbance.
Their crime? Blocking traffic in protest of a jury decision not to indict a police offer who had contributed to the death of a black New York City resident who was selling illegal cigarettes.
For years since and preceding the inception of Open Orthodoxy, the neo-Conservative movement started by Rabbi Avi Weiss, and the creation of its institutions, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), Yeshivat Maharat (which gives semichah to women), and International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), liberal Rabbis Avi Weiss and Marc Angel have been clamoring for relaxed geirus standards. Lessened kabbolas mitzvos requirements was Angel’s clarion call, while Weiss demanded that geirus procedures not be standardized, so that any rabbi can run his own geirus system and apply his own standards. Weiss and Angel consistently attacked the Rabbanut and the RCA for insisting on uniform standards, and Weiss went so far as to demand last year that even non-Orthodox clergy be licensed to perform geirus in Eretz Yisroel.
During the week when we read about how Rochel Imeinu was buried at the side of the road, the Yated took a tour of Kever Rochel and were surprised to find that we hardly recognized the place. The entrance has been relocated to a spot close to the tziyun, and the corridor that used to lead inside has now been turned into a lavish bais medrash. The mikvah has been refurbished, at a cost of about half a million dollars, meeting the highest halachic and hygienic standards.