MISC section - contents:
 Vebbe Rebbe
 From the virtual desk of the OU
The Orthodox Union - via its website - fields questions of all types in areas of kashrut, Jewish law and values. Some of them are answered by Eretz Hemdah, the Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, headed by Rav Yosef Carmel and Rav Moshe Ehrenreich, founded by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l, to prepare rabbanim and dayanim to serve the National Religious community in Israel and abroad. Ask the Rabbi is a joint venture of the OU, Yerushalayim Network, Eretz Hemdah... and the Israel Center. The following is a Q&A from Eretz Hemdah...
Q: I spent some time in Hong Kong in the fall of 2007 and since I was planning to return the following summer, I left some things there, including a bottle of scotch, which I did not give thought to until I returned in May 2008. Is it chametz she'avar alav haPesach (=ChP; chametz owned by a Jew over Pesach)? While I did not include it in my mechirat (sale of) chametz, did my bitul (nullification of) chametz help?
A: We accept Rabbi Shimon's opinion (Pesachim 30a) that ChP is a rabbinic injunction that forbids one to eat or benefit from chametz that was owned by a Jew because one (could have) violated bal yeira'eh bal yimatzei (=BYBY; the prohibition to possess chametz on Pesach). When BYBY does not apply, neither does ChP (ibid.). One would then think that if he did bitul chametz, which removes the Torah prohibition of BYBY, the ChP should not apply. The Yerushalmi (see the Rosh, Pesachim 2:4) brings a machloket on the matter. We accept R. Yochanan's opinion, who forbids it due to concern that one will abuse the system (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 448:5). The Rambam (Chametz U'Matza 1:4) and Shulchan Aruch (ibid.:3) say that ChP is forbidden even when one left the chametz b'shogeg (accidentally) or b'oness (due to extenuating circumstances). The Bi'ur Halacha (to 448:3) seriously considers the claim of some that when combining the grounds for leniency (i.e. bitul and the fact that one did not purposely violate BYBY) then ChP would not apply. However, he focuses primarily on a case of oness, whereas your case of shogeg is likely more stringent.
There is, however, an important point of leniency in your case. Since you left Hong Kong more than 30 days before Pesach and did not have intention to return until after Pesach, you were not required to do bedikat (search for) chametz before leaving (Pesachim 6a; Shulchan Aruch, OC 436:1). There is a major machloket whether this exemption is only from bedika or whether one is even exempt from removing known chametz (see Mishna Berura 436:5).
According to the lenient opinion (including the Ritva, Pesachim 6 and Pri Chadash 436), you did nothing wrong, as such a person may rely on bitul wherever he will be (although we would recommend mechira). If so, there certainly would not be a problem of ChP.
What should be according to the opinion that you should have taken care of the chametz you knew about? When you were removing the chametz from your regular house, whether by formal bedika or other preparations (including mechirat chametz) you should have sold the chametz in Hong Kong or got someone to get rid of it. Your failure to remember the Hong Kong chametz is not fundamentally different from doing bedika but forgetting to look under the couch. Regarding a case that one did an imperfect bedika and a bitul, the Mishna Berura (448:25) brings strong indications in either direction whether ChP applies. He concludes that in a case of significant loss, one can sell the chametz to a non-Jew, which is usually forbidden for ChP, but is permitted according to some opinions when one did bitul.
Depending on where you live (Western US?) and when you did bitul on the night of bedika, there could be a complication because Hong Kong is 13 hours ahead of US's Eastern Time. Bitul can only be done until an hour before chatzot (halachic midday) (Shulchan Aruch, OC 434:2). Although most poskim say that in such matters, we follow the owner's place, not the chametz's, the Igrot Moshe (OC, IV 94) says that if the chametz is in a place where the timing does not work out, it becomes forbidden (see Mechirat Chametz K'hilchato 3:17 and Living the Halachic Process, D-17). However, given the other indications for leniency (including at least one we did not mention), we still say that if the loss of an (expensive?) bottle of scotch is significant to you, you can sell it to a non-Jew.
 Candle by Day
Peace of mind should be regarded as the freeing of the mind from the demands of the body, not (as is most often the case) as the freeing of the body from the demands of the mind.
From "A Candle by Day" by Rabbi Shraga Silverstein
A Candle by Day - The Antidote - The World of Chazal by Rabbi Shraga Silverstein
Now available at 054-209-9200
 Wisdom and Wit by Shmuel Himelstein
The Maggid of Kelm was once asked to speak in a small town which was known for its saintliness in all matters - except for tzedaka, where its members were quite miserly. In his speech, the Maggid told them:
"My friends, if a person has a garment which is missing something - a sleeve, the collar, or even a button - the person will be ashamed to walk about wearing it. If the garment is whole, he will not have any such hesitations. There is one exception to this rule. If a person had a tailor sew him a new suit, where the suit is completely ready except for the white temporary stitches that had been placed in it as the tailor worked - and these are only removed when the tailor is paid - no person would walk about with the white stitches showing, indicating that the garment has not yet been paid for.
"The same is true in our entire lives. Each time we perform a mitzva, we are adding to the 'garment' that we will be 'wearing' in the World to Come. Now, despite the performance of many mitzvot, as long as he has not paid the tailor, his 'garment' is incomplete. And do you know how one 'pays the tailor'? It is by giving tzedaka. And as long as one does not give the proper tzedaka, one's 'garment' for the World to Come will remain incomplete and will be an embarrassment to him."
R' Shmuel of Sokolov was a very pious and devote man. His children, who had gone into business, were very successful, and had accumulated a great deal of wealth. R' Shmuel was very much afraid that their wealth would lead them away from the true path, so he came to his Rebbe, R' Yechezkel of Kuzmir, and asked the Rebbe to pray that R' Shmuel's sons would lose their wealth, and thus remain Torah-true. "That is totally unnecessary," said R' Yechezkel. "Hashem has His ways of ensuring things. If you are so concerned, pray to Hashem simply that your children will remain true to their heritage."
Shmuel Himelstein has written a wonderful series for ArtScroll: Words of Wisdom, Words of Wit; A Touch of Wisdom, A Touch of Wit; and "Wisdom and Wit" - available at your local Jewish bookstore (or should be). Excerpted with permission
 CHIZUK and IDUD for Olim & not-yet-Olim respectively
The laws of Parshat M'tzora relating to the nega'im of an individual have been explained at times, including by some m'forshim, as pertaining to a physical malady. Most, however, see all of the laws of tzara'at as referring to a spiritual deficiency of some kind. But all agree that tzara'at of the home is a purely supernatural phenomenon that occurs only in Eretz Yisrael
Chazal give three reasons for nega'im in a house.
1) They come as a punishment for one who refused to lend his things to his neighbor claiming that he did not own such items. He will ultimately be embarrassed when he has to remove all his belongings from his home and reveal those items to the public.
2) They expose items which a person stole and hid.
3) When the affected stones are removed, treasures hidden by the Canaanites will be revealed, enriching the homeowner.
The first two reasons seem meant as punishments and the third as a reward. Yet the Sfas Emes says that all nega'im are beneficial. This is true whether the nega'im affect a person, his clothing, or his home and whether the result is a "good" or a "bad" one. In every case, a person is warned of a spiritual deficiency and is therefore given an opportunity to correct it.
Similarly, we sometimes experience unpleasant physical symptoms that fortunately allow us to discover a potentially serious physical disease in time to do something about it.
Likewise, someone whose house in Eretz Yisrael is affected by tzara'at will see this as something terrible and may wonder why he deserves this fate. If he is, indeed, innocent of spiritual taint, then he will find that the tzara'at was inflicted to allow him to uncover treasures that are a reward that he would not otherwise have revealed.
Eretz Yisrael, with Hashem's constant and direct hashgacha pratit, is the only place where tzara'at of the home occurs. In chutz la'aretz, we have often found, historically, that what seems to be blessings turned out to be curses. In Eretz Yisrael, what seems, at first, to be "curses" turn out to be true blessings.
Chaya Passow, Jerusalem
TORAH THOUGHTS as contributed by Aloh Naaleh members for publication in the Orthodox Union's 'Torah Insights', a weekly Torah publication on Parshat HaShavu'a
 Parsha Points to Ponder - Tazri'a-M'tzora
1) Why does the section of laws dealing with a mark which a person finds on his head or beard begin with the words AND A MAN OR A WOMAN, V'ISH O ISHA (13:29), as opposed to simply A HUMAN (ADAM) as was used in the previous case (13:2)?
2) Why does the Torah add the seemingly extra words WHICH I GIVE TO YOU AS A POSSESSION when describing our arrival in Israel and the appearance of tzara'at on the houses (14:34)?
3) Why does G-D command Moshe and Aharon to TELL THE JEWISH PEOPLE regarding the laws of the impurity of ZAV (15:2) but does not instruct them to do so when teaching the impurities of tzaraat marks (see 14:33 and 13:1)?
Ponder the questions first, then read here
1) The Ohr HaChayim explains that since women do not generally have beards, had WOMAN not been specified, we might have mistakenly thought that a woman was not impure if she did grow some beard hairs with these qualities.
[Ed. note: Contrast this with the prohibition of shaving one's face with a razor - even if a woman does have facial hair, she is not forbidden to remove it with a razor; the prohibition applies only to men.]
2) The Kli Yakar answers that these words hint to the reason why this affliction comes. Our Sages teach that these afflictions come as a result of stinginess and not using our homes to help others. The Torah reveals this by emphasizing that G-D is the One who has provided the Jewish people with these homes to be their possessions and expects us to be giving and caring and using our homes to assist others who are in need.
3) The Baal HaTurim understands that these afflictions are only able to impact the Jewish people because of the level of impurity we descended to with the sin of the golden calf. Since Aharon led the Jews in creating that calf, the message of the impurity of these afflictions was very much directed at him as captured by G-D not instructing him to tell the Jewish people even though, of course, Moshe and Aharon would teach these laws to the nation.
Parsha Points to Ponder is prepared by Rabbi Dov Lipman, who teaches at Reishit Yerushalayim, Tiferet, and Machon Maayan in Beit Shemesh and RBS and is the author of "DISCOVER: Answers for Teenagers (and adults) to Questions about the Jewish Faith",just re-published by Feldheim, email@example.com
 Portion from the Portion by Rakel Berenbaum
FEEDback to firstname.lastname@example.org
SHE GIVES BIRTH TO A BABY AND BECOMES IMPURE
The beginning of this week's portion starts off with laws pertaining to childbirth. We are told that after giving birth a woman becomes ritually unclean. Why should having a baby make a woman TAMEI? What in the process of childbirth - bringing new life into the world - is connected with impurity? We would think the opposite - that with a new life life comes more purity.
TUM'A - impurity is a result of the absence of TAHARA. TUM'A, so to say, fills the void of the lack of holiness. The highest level of TUM'A is a dead body - where the person's NESHAMA has left. The lack of that holy soul makes the body impure.
So how is a woman who just brought a new NESHAMA, a new life, into the world impure? Our Rabbis teach that the key to birth is in Hashem's hand alone and He doesn't share it with any of His helpers. When a woman is giving birth, G-d is there with her - He doesn't send a SHALI'ACH or anyone else to help HIM in this task. G-d Himself is there with her through her labor, as the verse says: "VAYIFTACH ET RACHMAH" - G-d himself opened up her womb to let the baby out. So at each birth there is a special aura of holiness with G-d's SHECHINA hovering there. The Kotker Rebbe explains that since G-d's presence is at each birth, at the end of the birthing process, when G-d ,so to speak, departs, there is a lowering of holiness and TUM'A fills this gap. That is why the woman becomes impure.
Baby Carrots with Green Beans and Roasted Garlic
16 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 lb. (350g) green beans, trimmed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 lb. (350g) baby carrots, peeled
Freshly ground pepper
To prepare garlic, bring 2 cups water to boil in small saucepan. Add garlic. Boil 3 minutes. Drain, peel garlic. Drizzle olive oil over garlic cloves and wrap loosely in foil. Bake 30 minutes at 180C. Let cool.
Cook beans in boiling salted water till tender (about 4 minutes). Drain.
Cook carrots with sugar and salt till tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and cool. Combine garlic, beans and carrots. Saute in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until heated through. Add salt and pepper to season - serve hot.
 from Machon Puah
The Status of the Embryo
Last week we started looking at the unusual case of the Octomom who recently gave birth to octuplets. Prior to discussing whether one can perform a fetal reduction, we started looking at the sources that discuss the halachic status of the embryo.
We saw three sources that gave milestones in the development of the embryo that could be the beginning of life; conception, forty days, and end of the first third of pregnancy, called the first trimester.
Each of these can be related to biological milestones of the developing embryo. Obviously conception is when the two gamete cells meet to form a zygotic cell. Each of the gametes contains half of the genetic material necessary for life, so only when they meet and form the full cell of the gamete can life begin.
At around forty days after conception one can observe limbs developing in the human fetus and the heart beat can be detected. So here we have a being that does not yet appear human but it can be seen to be alive. Interestingly the Rambam notes this in his Mishneh Torah (Hilchot Issurei Biy'a 10:3) and gives quite an accurate description of the stages in the developing fetus.
At the end of the third trimester the fetus looks human and all the limbs are present and continue to develop. So this can be called true life.
However, despite all of these important milestones, the halachic discussion of the unborn child centers on the understanding of a Mishna that discusses the permissibility of performing a very late abortion.
"The woman who is in danger during childbirth, we cut the child in her womb and remove him limb by limb, since her life comes before his life. If she gave birth so that the majority of the child was outside her body, then we cannot touch him since we do not push off one soul before another soul." (Ohalot 7:6)
This Mishna describes a sorry situation where the woman's life is in danger due to childbirth, and we can only save her by killing the child. In this case. we save her life even at the horrific cost of the child's life.
Yet if the child is mostly born then we cannot do anything and we step back and cannot determine who to save. The Mishna gives the reason for this, since we do not push off one soul before another soul.
From this we can deduce that the soul enters the body at birth and before this the child does not possess a soul and therefore is not alive.
According to this, even up to the last moment before birth the unborn child is not considered alive and only achieves this status at birth.
More on this next week.
The Puah Institute for Fertility and Gynecology in Accordance with Halacha is based in Jerusalem and helps couples from all over the world who are experiencing fertility problems. Puah offers free counseling in five languages, halachic supervision, and educational programs. Puah has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Paris. To contact the Puah Institute please call 1-800-071111 in Israel or in the US 718-336-0603. website: www.puahonline.org
 Pirkei Avot
12: RABBI YOSSI OMER, YEHI MAMON CHAVERCHA CHAVIV ALECHA K'SHELACH/ V'HATKEN ATZMECHA LILMOD TORAH, SHE'EINA YERUSHA LACH. V'CHOL, MAASECHA YIHIYU L'SHEM SHAMAYIM:
There are probably ways to weave together these three teachings of R' Yosi - but let's take a look at the second of the three as a stand-alone teaching -
Prepare yourself to study Torah, for it does not come to you as an inheritance.
The word in Hebrew for inheritance is Y'RUSHA. When one is an heir, he inherits - without toil, with out merit.
But the word for Torah (in D'varim 33:4) is MORASHA. Here the connotation is acquisition through one's hard work to earn an achievethe "heritage".
Besides Torah, one other thing is called a MORASHA - Eretz Yisrael. Both the Torah and the Land of Israel are ours by our birthright. But they can be truly ours only if we work for them and are deserving.
 Guest Article by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students, Diaspora Yeshiva
How to Prevent Evil Eye (Ayin Hara)?
Where does the Evil Eye come from? Does it really exist? The Evil Eye is not just a mystical concept, but has a rational explanation, too. A person who flaunts his wealth and possessions becomes the focus and an object of envy. This can cause enmity and hatred between the "haves" and the "have nots". Thus, the Evil Eye could lead to vandalism, theft, and even violence. The remedy is not to brag or boast, but to keep a low profile in all matters.
However, the mystical side and notion of an "Evil Eye" stems from antiquity and remains one of the most prevalent beliefs in various cultures around the world. While it takes on many connotations, its most popular versions include attributing the Evil Eye to certain mysterious, powerful, negative, spiritual forces that are unleashed by the gaze of jealous onlookers. Colloquially, many Jews use the Hebrew expression "Bli Ayin Hara" (without the Evil Eye) when speaking about their good fortune, to avoid arousing its wrath against their health and wealth. There is even a women's clothing store in Jerusalem called "Bli Ayin Hara"!
In Kabbalistic sources, the eye frequently serves as a metaphor to describe G-d's metaphysical awareness as well as the interest people take in each other. The Bible depicts the watchful eye of G-d over the Jewish people (D'varim 11:12, T'hilim 33:18) and further demands that people not close their eyes to the needs of the less fortunate (D'varim 7:16, 15:9). It cautions us from being led astray by the wandering eye (Bamidbar 15:39), understanding that visual sensations cause the most sinful temptations (Sota 8a).
Within the Talmud the Sages admonish one for possessing an Ayin Hara, clearly connoting the vice of an Evil Eye (Pirkei Avot 2:9,11). One should instead adopt the trait of an Ayin Tova (good eye), taking satisfaction with one's lot in life and wishing the best for one's friends and neighbors (Avot D'Rabi Natan 16).
Numerous Talmudic sources depict an "Evil Eye" with harmful and destructive spiritual powers. The sage Rav, for example, attributed many fatal illnesses to the Evil Eye, with the Talmlud even contending that he could enter cemeteries and determine that 99 out of 100 people died prematurely from Ayin Hara causes (Bava Metzia 107b).
These sages affirmed that certain eyes possessed natural baneful potencies, or alternatively believed that the envious glare of onlookers, even with no evil intended, could cause Divine negative repercussions.
These beliefs were widespread in both antiquity and medieval times, and extended to both the learned elite and the masses. Significantly, Rashi (1040-1150, France) and many other medieval scholars explained that the Bible prohibited directly counting the heads of population groups to avoid inflicting an "Evil Eye" (Exodus 30:12). Many medieval philosophers affirmed this power of Ayin Hara. Both Gersonides (1288-1344, France) and Rav Yitzhak Arama (15th century, Spain), for example, elaborately explain how eyes can emit certain vapors that wreak havoc on their objects. Others, like Rav Ovadia Seforno (1475-1550, Italy) adopt a more spiritual approach, contending that escalated individual attention causes G-d to examine the actions of the given person, increasing the possibility of divine reproach, since no one is without sin.
Maimonides directly challenged the notion of an Evil Eye and other folklore beliefs by minimizing the impact these types of beliefs had in Halachic matters. The Talmud, for example, forbids one from overly admiring another's field crops, lest the Evil Eye damage the crops. While Rashi, Nahmanides, Rav Yosef Karo (Hoshen Mishpat 378:5) affirmed this explanation, Maimonides explained the prohibition as a protection of another's privacy, and utterly dismissed the Talmud's reasoning. Similarly, while the Talmud forbids caring for lost property while in the view of strangers, lest the Evil Eye destroy the property (Bava Metzia 30a), Maimonides only mentions the second reason offered in the Talmud, that the onlookers might steal it.
Despite Maimonides's opposition, many popular customs based on belief in the Evil Eye became part of Halacha - Jewish Law. Double weddings within families or congregations are not held to avoid the harm of noticeable celebration (Even Ha'ezer 62:3). Fathers and sons similarly refrained from reciting consecutive blessings over the Torah reading. While Rav Yehiel M. Epstein permitted one to forgo this custom if he was not concerned with the Evil Eye (Aruch Hashulhan 141:8), the majority of contemporary scholars believe that this custom should never be waived (Mishna Brura 141:19).
Some contemporary scholars clearly continue to affirm the historic belief in the Ayin Hara. Rav Meshulam Roth (d. 1963) chastised another scholar for dismissing its significance and importance (Kol Mevaser 2:7). Rav Ovadia Yosef gave a fascinating dvar Torah detailing the measures one can take to avoid the Ayin Hara. The main precaution one can take to prevent the Evil Eye is to lead a modest lifestyle. This includes dressing and behaving with Tzniut (modesty), not showing off, and not boasting about one's accomplishments, achievements, and possessions.
Bilingual lesson: What do you call the conical, ridged projection of a citrus juicer? In Hebrew, MASCHEIT.
Makes sense. In English? the REAMER.
 Chol HaMoed Jottings... (for lack of a catchier title)
I am following a psak I have received (and confirmed) in past years concerning typing on the computer during Chol HaMoed. Basically, one can do so, but there is a halachic problem in printing out from the computer. This should not be taken as a blanket psak; one should ask his/her own SH'EILAT RAV, since different circumstances and reasons might impact on the psak.
Torah Tidbits #855, the Trippple Isuue for Tzav/HaGadol - Pesach - Sh'mini was done so long ago (not really - just seems that way), and the next one, 856, IY"H seems like a long way off still. Therefore, I am creating this column for inclusion in the abovementioned 856 (for Tazri'a-M'tzora - Rosh Chodesh Iyar) to bridge the gap between issues.
This item could have been included in the last issue - but without the end, so I held it for post facto (after the fact). Yisrael Azaria, shlita, lived and taught for many years in K'far HaRo'eh. Twenty-eight years ago, he took one of his students - an 8 year old boy - to Birkat HaChama. He told him then, that for the next Birkat HaChama, he (Yisrael) might be an old(er) man, maybe not able to get around so well, and that he wanted this student to promise to take him to Birkat HaChama. A few week's ago, this young man of 36, calls the Azarias and asks Yisrael if he remembers his 28 year old request. They met and it was arranged that the young man would pick up Yisrael and take him to Birkat HaChama. And so it came to pass. A promise of a young boy to his beloved teacher was fulfilled by a young man with three sons in tow. And what had this fellow been doing for the past many years? Yisrael had lost touch sometime after having prepared the boy for his Bar Mitzva. Somewhere along the road of life, the boy left the path of religious observance - for about eight years! He came back - partially due to the many things he remembered learning from Yisrael - and definitely from the WAY Yisrael teaches, lives, and transmits the warmth and vitality of a Torah life to others. His return took him back to Torah and Chasidut. So there it is: The Birkat HaChama effect - it may be only a once-in-28-years experience, but it is as powerful as... the Sun itself.
Speaking of Birkat HaChama... it should have been made very clear that we did not bless the sun. We blessed HaShem, as we do with every bracha, as our G-d, the King of the Universe, and - in the case of Birkat HaChama, as the Creator and continuous Renewer of Creation. It should have been made clear; it seems that some people missed that important point. And the same must be understood for every bracha. Borei Pri HaGafen is NOT blessing the wine. It is a blessing of G-d as Creator of the fruit of the vine... said on the occasion of drinking wine. Etc. Etc. and many more Etc.
To examine this topic a little more, understand the following: The brachot for bread, wine, fruit... and more, mention the "trigger" of the bracha. Before eating bread, we acknowledge G-d as the One who takes LECHEM (bread) from the earth.
On the other hand, meat and many other foods are not not mentioned specifically - or even categorically - in the bracha - that everything came into existence at G-d's Word.
Similarly, the bracha for a rainbow is "rainbow specific"; not so Birkat HaChama whose bracha is SHEHAKOL-like among the brachot said upon seeing something. This tends to de-emphasize the sun and focuses our attention on all of nature. This is a healthy way of thinking because of the powerful attraction of the sun and other heavenly bodies to veneration and worship. The sun, a tomato, a mosquito, a rock... are all part of nature, created by G-d and given to us to enjoy and benefit from (but not to abuse)...
There was more, but this will suffice for now. - Phil
 Divrei Menachem
The parshiyot of Tazri'a and M'tzora deal with the complex issue of spiritual impurity - particularly with the M'tzora, a person afflicted with an ailment akin to leprosy. The main cause of this disorder is Lashon Hara, the sinful habit of gossip, as understood from the breakdown of the Hebrew term into the expression, "Motzi Shem Ra" - 'One who spreads a bad name.'
Although for years associated with medical illness, this affliction in its multifarious occurrences on skin, clothes and the walls of houses is clearly of a different nature from leprosy, as we know it. One of the indicants of this differentiation is that until the Kohen actually declares the state of M'tzora, the "disease" does not exist.
Consequently, when malignant signs first appeared on the walls of one's home, the utensils could yet be removed from the house. And only after the affliction was deemed present would the walls confer impurity on the other items in the house. This procedure, of course, contradicts contemporary medical practice that would a priori quarantine the vessels in the building. Rashi comments on the Divine compassion here implied that would spare even the wicked prattler financial loss. From which we can deduce how much more so does Hashem have mercy on the righteous!
Shabbat Shalom, Menachem Persoff