Parashat Terumah 5768

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Snow at the Kotel
06 Feb 2008

Parashat Terumah 5768

Rabbi Aviner: Divorcees are just as valuable, if not more so

[Written by Kobi Nahshoni, this article appeared on this week (27 Shevat 5768)]

Rabbi of Bet-El speaks out against the ‘evil stereotype’ attached to divorcees in Judaism, calls on followers ‘not to judge anyone by past marital status’

In an article recently published in the Rosh Yehudi (Weekly parashah sheet distributed in shul each week in Israel) pamphlet, the Rabbi of Bet El and spiritual leader of the Religious Zionist movement, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, called on Orthodox Jews to change their deeply entrenched prejudices against divorcees, and to start judging people based upon their character rather than their past marital status.

“Divorcees are just like all other women, they do not have horns,” the rabbi noted. “As a matter of fact, these women are probably more worthwhile because of their previous experience with married life.” [Rav] Aviner went on to state that divorcees have “feelings and emotions like all other women, and are just as G-d-fearing, dependable and worthy as their never married counterparts.

“I have no idea where all of the evil stereotypes regarding divorcees originated,” said the Rabbi. “These women do not have horns on their heads; in fact they probably have a far broader and more mature outlook on life.”

Addressing Orthodox men’s reluctance to marry divorcees, Rabbi Aviner stated that “one must naturally take the time to find out whether there is some character flaw in the person in question that brought about the divorce, but as a general rule you should always take the time to assess your future spouses’ character and nature before marriage, whether or not they were previously married.” Strong faith, fear of G-d, and dependability, explained the Rabbi, are all traits that one can most definitely find in a divorcee. “Divorcees do not fall short of other women in this respect, and their feelings and emotions must also be respected.”

In that vein, the Rabbi stated that divorced Orthodox women should be allowed a second chance at marriage, not only with a widower or fellow divorcee but even with a single man.

“One must not marry right off the bat like a blind fool,” advised the Rabbi. “A couple who marries must be well matched and compatible. That being said, “We must judge each individual based on their character rather than their past marital status.”

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Be Slim!

Be slim! I’m not worried about beauty, for there is no arguing about appearances. Rather, I am arguing about health and life itself. Obesity causes all sorts of malevolent illnesses, amongst them heart disease, the leading cause of death in the world. So please, take off weight! Get off that fat! With every gram you take off, you add several hours to your life. That’s right. I’m not exaggerating. So please run away from tasty fast foods, full of salt, sugar and fat. They’re poison! They steal a lot of hours of life from you. Also don’t believe in wonder diets. They’re nonsense and a waste of money. Rather take off a bit of weight each day. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (Mishlei 4:18). In the end, you will be slim.

Please keep a daily chart. Eat normally, and only at meal time. Avoid between-meal snacks, but water is good to drink. Drink at least eight cups of water every day. The best food in the world is fresh vegetables with peels. Eat a lot of delicious salad. Fruits are also something wonderful. Fresh fruit with a peel, dried fruits, prunes, carob and raisins — but not a lot because of the sugar. Altogether, even healthy food should be consumed in moderation, apart from vegetables, which are unlimited. “On all other nights we eat all the other vegetables.” Grains are important. In other words, whole wheat bread, spelt, oats, brown rice, millet, whole wheat crackers. Yet one should not eat white-flour products like bread, noodles, macaroni, cake, cookies, and all sorts of sweet and salted baked items. The meaning of “not” is “not at all”, or very little, and the less the better. Milk products – certainly, but milk, yoghurt and leben should be low fat, as well as white cheese and yellow cheese. The “meat and fish and every delicacy” of the Shabbat refers to lean meat, like poultry, and lean fish, but not fatty meat, organ meat, sausage or eggs.

There’s a story of a good-hearted soul who saw someone stranded with his car alongside a road, and made a great effort to extricate him from his plight. “I am very grateful,” said the driver, and took out a large sum of money from his wallet. “Perish the thought,” said the goodhearted soul. “In that case,” said the driver, “I’ll give you something worth more than money. I own a sausage factory, and I’ve got some advice for you: Never eat sausage if you want to live.”

You can get the fat you need from vegetables, such as soy, sunflower seeds and techina, but do so in moderation, because they have so many calories. Water! Drink lots! A quart or two per day. Stay especially far away from candies, chocolate, sweet drinks, cakes and snack foods. Don’t cry. I haven’t decreed that you must be an ascetic. I’ve left you a great many very tasty foods. And altogether, being slim is a delicious feeling.

Obviously, don’t smoke! It goes against the Torah, and it’s just plain poison. Do a lot of physical exercise. If your destination isn’t too far off, get there by walking fast on foot. Take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator. Keep daily tabs. Search your soul, and watch over your body. The two go together. “The soul is yours; the body is your handiwork.”

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Parashat Bereshit 5767 – translated by Rafael Blumberg]

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Text Message Responsa

Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets “Ma’ayanei Ha-Yeshu’ah” and “Olam Ha-Katan.” Here’s a sample:

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Stories of Rabbenu – Our Rabbi: Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

Herzl’s picture which hangs in our Rabbi’s home

It is well known that our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, had a picture of Herzl hanging in his home.

Three stories about the picture:

Rav Avraham Romer related: “The picture of Herzl once disappeared from our Rabbi’s house and there was a suspicion that one of the students wanted ‘to teach him a lesson.’ When I suggested that perhaps the picture fell behind the desk, he permitted me to look there. When I found the picture, he was extremely happy and saw a need to comfort me because he saw that I had been distressed. He told me wondrous stories about Herzl and his position. He repeated the opinion of Reb Aharon Marcus z”l who said that Herzl was a descendant of Mahari Titzak (a famous Rabbi) and was from a Sefardic family. (Gadol Shimusha, p. 54)

When a particular Jew from the neighborhood of Geulah would come to our Rabbi’s house, he would flip over the picture of Herzl. Our Rabbi once caught him in the act and asked him: Why are you doing this? Doesn’t he have all five corners of his beard [which may not be shaved according to the Torah]?! (Iturei Cohanim #212)

A student of our Rabbi saw Herzl’s picture hanging in the room where our Rabbi taught classes in his house, and it was hanging among the pictures of our great Rabbis. He asked for an explanation and our Rabbi gave an entire class on the fact that Herzl was the agent of the Master of the Universe in returning independence to Israel in this generation whether we like it or not. (ibid.)

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Shut She’eilat Shlomo – Questions of Jewish Law: Hilchot Sheleg – Laws of Snow

It snowed in Yerushalayim last week and Rav Aviner spoke about the laws of snow in his talk during lunch –

Muktzeh on Shabbat?

Making and throwing a snowball

Making a snowman

Eating snow

The blessing before eating snow is “She-ha-kol,” and there is no blessing after eating since one does not eat enough (ke-zayit – approximately the size of an olive) and one eats it slowly (like tea or coffee).

Blessing on seeing snow

Immersing in snow

I once went to the mikveh and it was undergoing repairs so there was no hot water for a long time. When I came in, there was a Jew in front of me. I said: Is there hot water? He said: My commanding officer in the army said that water is always hot. It is clear: In Russia it was negative sixty degrees, the water was therefore always hot. I said: You were in the Russian army. He said: Yes. I asked him: Gehinom (Purgatory)? He said: A mini-gehinom. I said: It is better here. He said: Much better. Incomparable. Baruch Hashem.

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On Air

Every Tuesday and Thursday night Rav Aviner answers questions of Jewish Law and faith on the radio in Israel. On the Air presents a sample of these answers each week.

Vow for a meal of thanksgiving

Locusts – pareve or fleishig

Speaking “lashon ha-ra” (ill) about secular Jews

Mourner and “Sivuv She’arim” (Circling the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem)

Only a women’s voice?

Preventing adverse affects at work

Peyot (Not cutting the corners of one’s hair)

Stopping to pray for someone who is healed

“Zimun” for women

How many blessings?

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Special thank you to Fred Casden for editing the Ateret Yerushalayim Parshah Sheet

Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner is Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim. All material translated by Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig. For more Torah:

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.