Category Archives: Archives 5766


Teves 5766 – Hilchos Netilos Yadayim – by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

15 Teves 5766

QUESTION: Are men or women required to remove their rings before washing their hands for the morning netilas yadayim (negel vasser)?

DISCUSSION: L’chatchilah, all the rules that govern netilas yadayim for a meal apply to the morning netilas yadayim as well.(1) Just as a chatzitzah (halachic obstruction) invalidates netilas yadayim for a meal, so, too, it invalidates negel vasser, l’chatchilah. Generally, a ring is considered a chatzitzah since the water cannot easily touch all parts of the finger when a ring is on the finger. Even though a loose-fitting ring does allow the water to reach all parts of the finger, the poskim maintain that it is difficult to assess what, exactly, is considered loose and what is considered tight. All rings, therefore, should be removed before washing negel vasser.(2) But b’diavad, a chatzitzah does not invalidate the morning netilas yadayim and a woman who forgot or failed to remove her rings need not repeat the washing.(3) Moreover, if a woman has a hard time removing the ring from her finger, she may leave it on when washing netilas yadayim in the morning. A ring is considered a chatzitzah only for men or women who sometimes, even on rare occasions, remove it from their finger. The occasional removal signifies that the person is sometimes particular about having the ring on his finger, rendering it a chatzitzah. But men or women who never take their rings off, even when kneading dough, swimming or performing manual labor, may l’chatchilah wash their hands while wearing a ring.(4)

1 O.C. 4:7.
2 Igros Chazon Ish 1:4.
3 See Eishel Avraham O.C. 4.
4 Based on Mishnah Berurah 161:19 and Aruch ha-Shulchan 161:6.
[A woman who removes her ring only when immersing in a mikveh may still wash with a ring on her finger.]

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt, Rabbi of Young Israel in Cleveland Heights,
and member of faculty of Yavneh Seminary in Cleveland, Ohio.


Yom Kippur 5773 – When the Going Gets Tough – by Rabbi Yisroel Roll

Yom Kippur 5773
When The Going gets Tough
by Rabbi Yisroel Roll


When the going gets tough……..the tough do not get going. They don’t even go shopping. They don’t? No. Then what do they do? They get…thinking. You mean to tell me that when I lose my job, my marriage is on the rocks, my kids are on drugs and I am two months behind in my mortgage or rent payments that I am not supposed to “get going” and push myself to solve the problem? Right. Just “think”? You got it. “And that is supposed to help?” It is the first step. “Tell me more.”

When I am faced with a crisis, or major problem the first step is my “thinking” or “mind set”. If I see the issue before me as a crisis or problem then I have adopted an adversarial or “fighting” attitude against the problem. A more productive attitude is that the crisis is a “challenge” or “puzzle” that is being presented to me, for me to solve or at least to deal with. It is not there to “break” me but to bring out some hidden strength or ability from within me. I am not evil or bad or a loser. These difficulties are not only sent to me. Everyone has their particular challenge at any given point in time. I can now “make friends” with the challenge. With this new positive attitude I am now much better equipped to meet the challenge.

Isn’t this just a mind game? By calling something a challenge instead of a problem am I not just fooling myself – using semantics? No. Once I develop the mental attitude that “they” are not just out “to get me” I will release negative potential energy and transform it into positive practical energy which I can then use to help me solve the problem. My challenge is to harness as much of the mental and emotional energy at my disposal and make it “work for me” instead of having the pent up anger and negativity drain me. This is not only a psychological tool but it works medically and hormonally, as well. Something like : it takes 38 facial muscles to frown and 18 facial muscles to smile-so it makes sense to save my physical and emotional energy-and smile at the problem.

“But why me? Always me! Why does everyone else have it so easy?” Again, negative energy. First of all it’s not true. Even though it may appear to me that my neighbor, friend or boss has everything go smoothly, it is simply not true. That person may not be going through what I am, but he or she is facing challenges tailor made for him or her to bring out their unique hidden strengths and abilities. Each person has a unique array of inherited DNA, genes and chromosomes and a unique set of parental, social and economic circumstances which make up his or her unique personality. Just as there are six billion different human faces in the world so too there are six billion different, special and unique individuals in the world , each with his or her unique challenge. This means that I am unique in the universe. No one else has my set of abilities and weaknesses, therefore no one else has my array of personal challenges.

Now , when a difficulty of problem comes my way I must realize that it has never been presented to a person with my genetic or behavioral makeup ever before in world history. This is my special project or mission – for better or for worse. It has my name on it. Only I can solve it or deal with it in accordance with my unique set of abilities and weaknesses. My neighbor’s marriage, job, house and all of his or her issues are his to deal with. My looking over my shoulder or envying the situation of my neighbor is merely a waste of personal energy that I should be conserving to deal with my own challenges.

Now, when the “going gets tough” I consciously step into my “thinking mode” and view the tough going as my unique challenge. I will be able to factor out any “why me” issues and be able to focus on the task at hand- of dealing with my challenge. I will not waste physical or emotional energy by comparing myself to others but I will harness all of my unique strengths and abilities to enable me to concentrate and to deal with the issues before me. Therefore, “When the going gets tough….the tough get thinking……and step into the positive mind set that is best suited to help meet the challenge. Mystical Let’s come clean. God Himself has sent you the challenge you are currently facing. God has put you into the universe at this particular time, in this place and with a certain set of strengths and weaknesses in order to invite you to make your unique contribution to the world, in fact to change and uplift the world. God personally engineers events and tailor makes a challenge just for you so that you can develop your personality and actualize your potential by facing, dealing with and growing through the ordeal. The going does get tough because God is sending you the the challenge, in order to have you focus on the issue at hand in order to change your personality through dealing with the issue and become a better person through this process.

Let’s go deeper. God is only one of the names of God. God’s real name is Ein Sof-which means Endless One or Infinite One. He sometimes relates to us as “God”-which is a play on the word Good. He treats us mercifully and graciously and therefore is known to us-at that moment as God. Sometimes the Ein Sof relates to us -with ordeals and challenges and is then known to us as the True Judge. Sometimes the Ein Sof treats us as a guiding parent and then is known to us as Our Father. All of these are merely terms for us to be able to come to terms with and to grasp our relationship with Ein Sof, at a particular point in time. The common denominator of all of these names for Ein Sof-is that Ein Sof is never ending, unfolding and expansive-hence the name Infinite. The purpose of life-and you heard it here first-is to become sa close to the Infinite One as is humanly possible. In order for us to become like Ein Sof we have to expand, unfold and grow in our personalities, values, knowledge and character. In order to put ourselves in this state of being, the Ein Sof of necessity, must challenge us with issues, ordeals and “problems” so that we can work through these issues and grow and “expand” our personal abilities and horizons-as the Ein Sof is expanding. Therefore, issues, ordeals and crises are part of the process of becoming the person you are supposed to become.

When the Ein Sof sends you a challenge the basic question you must answer is the question implied within the challenge itself: What do you want from me Ein Sof? What are you teaching me with this challenge? How can I become a better person through dealing with the issues that You, Ein Sof, are presenting to me. A challenge is Ein Sof’s way of tapping you on the shoulder and saying: Expand, grow and achieve your potential–become like Me.

Hold it. What if I don’t believe in , Ein Sof,, God, the Creator, the Force or Something Up There? Let’s analyze this for a moment.There are many things in life that we believe in even though we don’t see them. Electricity, radio waves and gravity, for example. They are invisible forces which exert energy on the world-but cannot be discerned- only felt or experienced. You can experience the Ein Sof by becoming aware of the Ein Sof quality within you-called the God in you-which we call the soul. Ein Sof plants part of Himself in youcalled the Chelek Eloka Mimaal–in order for you to be able to relate to Ein Sof. Whenever you experience a surge of meaning within your being-whenever you feel that there is something more to life than what you see-that is the movement of the Ein Sof within you. For example, whenever you feel the sunset speaking to you-that is the soul within you being activated. If you feel the mountain air give you renewed energy as you view the panaroma from the mountain ridge-you are experiencing the Infiniteness not outside you-but within you.

Not only is the Ein sof the creator of this amazing universe He is also the Parent, guide and supervisor of the world and everything in it. The Creator aspect of Ein Sof did not create the world, give it a spin and then take a holiday on one of His sandy white beaches on the Mediteranean.. The Ein Sof is involved in Guiding each and every individual in his Created world toward its destiny and potential. He is a personal God. It is through the challenges and issues that God presents us with that he has a personal relationship with each of us.

This is an excerpt from Rabbi Yisroel Roll’s latest book, “When The Going gets Tough”. 224 pages Available through Judaica Press


Elul 5766 – The Man in the Moon – by Rav Asher Yaakov Sinclair

4 Elul 5766
The Man in the Moon
by Rav Asher Yaakov Sinclair

It’s uncanny how much the full moon resembles a human face. It wasn’t so long ago that artists routinely depicted the moon as a man.

In October 1608, the Dutch government debated two patent applications – that of Hans Lipperhey of Middelburg, and that of Jacob Metius of Alkmaar. The application was for a device for “seeing faraway things as though nearby.” It consisted of a convex and concave lens in a tube which magnified objects three or four times.

The news of this new invention spread rapidly through Europe. By April 1609 three-powered spyglasses could be bought in spectacle-maker’s shops on the Pont Neuf in Paris, and four months later there were several in Italy. Later that year, Thomas Harriot took his six-power telescope and pointed it at the Moon. And that was the end of the Man in the Moon.

With the advent of the telescope, the Man in the Moon was struck a mortal blow. Now it was revealed for all to see that the “face” of the moon was not a face at all but an agglomeration of inert rock and dust.

Do We Know What We See? Or Do We See What We Know?

The Man in the Moon may have passed into folklore, but in some very fundamental ways, he is still very much with us.

Look at the world. Do you know what you see? Sometimes it’s difficult to be sure exactly what you’re looking at. Preconceptions can often lead our eyes astray. Is the world really the way we see it? Do we recognize what’s in front of our eyes? Or are we creating a virtual reality based on what our eyes expect to see?

In other words, do we know what we see? Or do we see – what we know?

*The Way Of The World*

Nothing, it would seem, is more incontrovertible than our own existence. I exist. I am here. I am an independent reality. Aren’t I?

Twice a day, a Jew covers his closed eyes with his right hand and proclaims “Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokenu, Hashem Ehad!” “Hear O Israel, Hashem our G-d, Hashem is One!” When we say that G-d is One, we are not just declaring that there is only one G-d; we are affirming that nothing else exists except for Him or outside Him whatsoever. Nothing. His is a Oneness that allows for no “other.”

When a Jew says Shema he gives over his very existence to the Creator. He declares that, on the ultimate level, he has no separate existence whatsoever.

The message of Shema runs counter-intuitive to everything that our eyes tell us. Our physical senses do not teach us that nothing else exists except for Him. Quite the reverse. Our senses tells us that if anything exists at all – it’s me. From my point of view, the world could be an Ultra-High-Definition 3D movie with SurroundSound. My instinctive perception is that nothing else exists except for me. The Shema is the way we reverse this paradigm; the Shema is the way the Jew ‘sees’ beyond the picture that his five senses paint.

*Sense Beyond Perception*

How, you will ask, can we perceive something that is beyond our senses? If our senses are the sole agents of perception, how can we perceive anything beyond them? More – how can we perceive something that totally contradicts them?

The Torah teaches us that there is an extra-sensory perception, a channel to that higher reality:

“A G-d of faith and lacking sin; Righteous and Straight is He.” (Devarim 32:4)

A cursory reading of this verse would suggest that “a G-d of faith” means that G-d keeps his word, that He’s “faith”-ful. However, there is another, deeper meaning here.

“A G-d of faith” means that G-d “believed in the world and created it.” What does it mean that G-d “believed” in the world? Surely it is the world that believes (or doesn’t believe) in G-d – not the reverse?

*A World Called Emuna*

Before this physical creation, G-d created another existence, another world. The name of that world is Emuna – belief.

When the Torah teaches us that “G-d believed in the world and created it,” it means that before this creation, G-d brought into being an existence called Emuna, and within the boundaries of Emuna, within that non-physical world, G-d created the universe. In other words, this entire physical existence from its absolute beginning till its ultimate end is created within, and depends upon, another system. Not a solar system. Not a galactic system. A system called Emuna. Contained within that world is all of this world. Nothing can exist outside of Emuna. * The Other End of the Telescope*

When we look at the world through physical eyes, it seems that the world’s existence is self-evident, and within the world is a thing called belief, Emuna. Furthermore, our physical eyes would tell us that Emuna is optional: You can choose to believe, or you can choose not to believe. This is the way the rest of the world looks at reality. From the Jewish perspective, however, the world is looking through the other end of the “telescope”. The world has mistaken that which is optional for that which is perforce, that which is necessary for that which is incidental. The world has mistaken the rocks and dust of this world for the Man in the Moon. Judaism takes the world’s view of itself and reverses it. It takes the telescope and turns it around.

Judaism sees that Emuna doesn’t exist in the world – the world exists in Emuna.

*Solid As A Rock *

We tend to think that nothing is as solid as a rock. Nothing is as certain as what our eyes see. We think that these are the certainties – and Faith, Emuna, is not something “certain.” The world’s paradigm is that Emuna is something we can choose to subscribe to like some ultimate cable channel from the world above. You can channel hop. Or you can just turn the whole set off.

The reverse is true. G-d created Emuna as a truth, a reality, and then placed within that creation every rock and mountain, every sea and shore. * The Day Of The King*

It is with this sensitivity that a Jew draws close to Rosh Hashana.

Rosh Hashana is the day that we crown the Creator as King of the world. What does it mean to crown a non-physical, non-spiritual Being of whom we can ultimately know nothing? Where is there a stadium that can contain His coronation? Where is there a crown large enough to place on His Head?

The crown that we give to the Almighty is our gift of ourselves to Him. When we place our very existence within the world called Emuna, we place the Crown on the Creator.

[JemSem would like to thank Ohr Somayach International for permission to use this article.]