Monday, October 31, 2022

Rav Avigdor Miller on Voting in Eretz Yisroel


Rav Avigdor Miller on Voting in Eretz Yisroel

To participate in voting for a memsheles Yisrael lifnei bi’as haMoshiach, a Jewish government in Eretz Yisroel before Moshiach comes, is that against the Torah? 

My friend, I am not somebody to pasken such shaylos. Some gedolim hold that even though it’s forbidden to have a Jewish Commonwealth, a Jewish government, before Moshiach comes, nevertheless once there is a kehillah, even a kehillah of reshaim, we have to try to get along with them and try to utilize them in order that we should build up Torah. That's how some gedolim say. You can't just say that it's nothing and we ignore them and we'll kiss Arafat and be his good friend. No. We want to build up Torah in Eretz Yisroel as much as we can. There are a lot of tzaddikim in Eretz Yisroel, beautiful kehillos, so you do the best you can; you try to get along with these reshaim for the sake of the frummeh. That's what some say. I'm not saying that you have to love them or give them too much respect but when it comes to voting some say you should vote in order to get the best benefits. 

Others say no; they say you don't vote. You don’t vote at all in order to show that you don’t support the government. 

I'm not mixing in such a question. I'll leave it for the manhigei Yisroel. But it's not a simple question. It's a complicated question and I'm not trying to persuade anybody to do anything one way or another.

TAPE #E-147 (July 1998)

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Rav Avigdor Miller on Marrying a Convert



Based on what the Rav spoke about tonight, about how Avraham Avinu was careful to take a wife for Yitzchok only from his family and not from any of the converts he had made, would the Rav say that it’s proper to avoid being mishadeich with a giyores?

Let me tell you something. To my knowledge, there have been sometimes cases of a giyores who have produced the best families of talmidei chachomim. Many fine, beautiful families began with a giyores

Only that Avraham Avinu, at that time, was concerned with the future of a nation that didn’t even exist yet. He was creating a new nation. And therefore, it was imperative that he choose the best mother possible to be the mother of that entire nation. 

But today, the nation exists already. The Am Yisroel already exists and therefore it’s different. And Rus is the model of a giyores that produced one of the best. If not for Rus, you wouldn’t have Tehillim and you wouldn’t have the Beis Hamikdash. It was Dovid Hamelech who was the one who made the plans for the Beis Hamikdash. And if not for Rus, you wouldn’t have Shlomo and you wouldn’t have Mishlei. So many of the wonders of our nation – Tehillim, Mishlei, Koheles, Shir Hashirim are all because of a giyores. And many other achievements as well.

So today, there’s no problem with marrying a giyores. And many times you’ll find that she was one of the best. The very best! 

However, if all things are equal and there are plenty of other choices and you can marry a girl who comes directly from Avraham Avinu, then naturally that’s first. That’s the first choice. But sometimes your best shidduch will be the giyores who has chosen out of her own free will to join our People. And you’ll be successful raising a fine family with a wife who is a giyores
TAPE # E-165

All People Matter


All People Matter


Rabbeinu Yona of Gerondi (d. 1264)


Mishnah: “Rabbi Chanina, the Deputy High Priest, says: Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear of it man would swallow his fellow alive.” (Pirkei Avos, 3:2)


יוֹנָה בֶּן־אַבְרָהָם גִירוֹנְדִי :זה הענין ר"ל שיש לאדם להתפלל על שלום כל העולם ולהצטער על צער של אחרים. וכן דרכן של צדיקים כמו שאמר דוד ע"ה (תהלים ל"ה י"ג) ואני בחלותם לבושי שק עניתי בצום נפשי שאין לאדם לעשות תחנוניו ובקשתו לצרכיו לבד אך להתפלל על כל בני אדם שיעמדו בשלום ובשלומה של מלכות יש שלום לעולם


Rabbeinu Yona: “This matter is wanting to say that a person should pray for the peace of the whole world and be in pain about the pain of others. And this is the way of the righteous ones, as David, peace be upon him, stated (Psalms 35:13), "As for me, when they were ill, my dress was sackcloth, I afflicted myself in fasting." As a person should not make his supplications and his requests for his needs alone, but rather to pray for all people, that they be at peace. As with the welfare of the government, there is peace in the world.”


Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888)


"Compassion is the feeling of sympathy which the pain of one being awakens in another; and the higher and more human the beings are, the more keenly attuned they are to re-echo the note of suffering, which, like a voice from heaven, penetrates the heart, bringing all creatures a proof of their kinship in the universal G-d. And as for man, whose function it is to show respect and love for G-d's universe and all its creatures, his heart has been created so tender that it feels with the whole organic world… mourning even for fading flowers; so that, if nothing else, the very nature of his heart must teach him that he is required above everything to feel himself the brother of all beings, and to recognize the claim of all beings to his love and his beneficence." (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Horeb, Chapter 17, Section 125)


“God has dispersed Yisrael among the nations as עבד and שפחה, as 'servant' and 'handmaiden,' to labor on behalf of God's great work on behalf of mankind. Yisrael is called 'a servant' to indicate the arduous labor inherent in its outward position vis-à-vis the nations, and 'a handmaiden' to denote the joyous fulfillment of its life's task within the sphere of its own homes, families and communities. For the proper discharge of both these tasks Yisrael needs extraordinary spiritual and moral talents and energy; and it is for these faculties that Yisrael looks up to God its God even as a 'servant' and a 'handmaiden' would look up to their Master.” (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on Tehillim 123, 2)


“The more, indeed, Judaism comprises the whole of man and extends its declared mission to the salvation of the whole of mankind, the less it is possible to confine its outlook to the four cubits of a synagogue and the four walls of a study. The more the Jew is a Jew, the more universalist will his views and aspirations be, the less aloof will he be from anything that is noble and good, true and upright, in art or science, in culture or education; the more joyfully will he applaud whenever he sees truth and justice and peace and the ennoblement of man prevail and become dominant in human society: the more joyfully will he seize every opportunity to give proof of his mission as a Jew, the task of his Judaism, on new and untrodden ground; the more joyfully will he devote himself to all true progress in civilisation and culture--provided, that is, that he will not only not have to sacrifice his Judaism but will also be able to bring it to more perfect fulfilment. He will ever desire progress, but only in alliance with religion. He will not want to accomplish anything that he cannot accomplish as a Jew. Any step which takes him away from Judaism is not for him a step forward, is not progress. He exercises this self-control without a pang, for he does not wish to accomplish his own will on earth but labours in the service of God. He knows that wherever the Ark of his God does not march ahead of him he is not accompanied by the pillar of the fire of His light or the pillar of the cloud of His grace.” (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Collected Writings, Vol. VI, pp. 107-150, “Religion Allied to Progress”)


“When Abraham, the first Jew, was sent out into the world, he was commanded: 'Heyai bracha.' 'Be a blessing.' Unlike those self-centered others who seek blessings only for themselves, you are to devote yourself completely to your calling, namely, to become a blessing, to help increase the happiness and prosperity of those among whom you dwell, and to advance the work of God in your environment with every breath of your life and every ounce of your strength.” (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, "The Educational Value of Judaism")


“And, indeed, if most of our brethren would live as true Jews, then most of the conditions that now bar the Jew from so many careers could be eliminated. If only all Jews who travel or who are active in business life were to insist on observing their duties as Jews, this insistence would bring about the possibility of fulfilling all religious requirements...Why, even in official institutions of civic and political life, enlightened governments and nations would gladly accommodate a loyalty of conscience which would represent a significant contribution made by a Jewish citizen to the overall society of fellow citizens among whom he dwells.”  (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, "Religion Allied with Progress")


“At the end of Psalm 95 we were told of a negative aspect of our task while in Galuth, namely, of the errors from which we must guard ourselves during our long wanderings through exile. This Psalm, on the other hand, has as its theme the fulfillment of the great and blissful purpose of our journeys among the nations, namely the 'wakening of awe' of God throughout the world, of which mention was already made in Verse 1 of Psalm 95. It is Yisrael's task to enter into the midst of the nations with a 'new song' that is to 'behold' God's greatness, and the 'newness' of this song lies in the fact that in it, we read the call שירו לה' כל הארץ, summoning all of mankind to unite in 'beholding' the greatness of the One God.” (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary on Psalm 95)


“All thy holy ones serve as Thy instruments to this end. Not only Israel but also the rest of mankind will benefit from the educational and moral influence of those among Israel who hallow their lives by faithfully observing this Law. These individuals tacitly serve as a light to all mankind, as models showing how man's sacred calling is to be put into practice. Though we are told above that even Seir and Paran, nations closely related to Israel, were not yet sufficiently mature to accept the Law, the revelation of the Law to Israel on Mount Sinai was intended to benefit all mankind. With and through Israel, the ground was prepared for the future gathering of all mankind to perform its duty toward God .... Only through the Law, whose bearer Israel became at Sinai, will the lessons imparted to the other nations by historical experience attain their purpose ....”  (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary on Devarim 33:3, translation by Gertrude Hirschler)


Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe (1902-1994)


“In order for this be a reality a prisoner must be allowed to maintain a sense that he is created in the image of God; he is a human being who can be a reflection of Godliness in this world. But when a prisoner is denied this sense and feels subjugated and controlled; never allowed to raise up his head, then the prison system not only fails at its purpose, it creates in him a greater criminal than there was before. One of the goals of the prison system is to help Jewish inmates and non-Jewish inmates ... to raise up their spirits and to encourage them, providing the sense, to the degree possible, that they are just as human as those that are free; just as human as the prison guards. In this way they can be empowered to improve themselves ...”  (Lubavitcher Rebbe, “The Backstory of the Chassidim Who Got Criminal Justice Reform Done Inspired by the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” Dovid Margolin)


“The true and complete Redemption depends on 'bringing the entire world to recognize the sovereignty of G-d.' Every person must hasten this, and help prepare the world to serve G-d as one. Although one might think his interaction with non-Jews is mainly for economic purposes, a Jew’s real intention should be to guide and inspire them to fulfill their Seven Noahide Laws. The Seven Noahide Laws are not simply legal matters – they are principles which precede and give meaning to all other laws. Laws only apply to people who are living; once someone is alive, he can be told to follow the law. But true 'living' means being connected to Torah, which is 'our life,' and observing its Mitzvos, by which 'we live'. So, first and foremost, one must see to it that his non-Jewish neighbor is alive!”  (Lubavitcher Rebbe, 20 Menachem Av, 5745 • August 7, 1985, Disc 31, Program 123)


“Egyptian society was steeped in the pursuit of self-serving carnal pleasure, which is reduced by circumcision. Thus, by having the Egyptians circumcised, Joseph subdued their obsession with carnal indulgence. Pharaoh himself instructed them to go along with Joseph’s condition; thus, even the living symbol of Egyptian corruption was willing to be refined, at least somewhat. We follow Joseph’s example by remaining spiritually uncontaminated by our materialistic environment and even refining it. By strengthening our own commitment to Judaism, we influence our fellow Jews to strengthen theirs. Moreover, we influence the broader community of non-Jews to keep the Torah’s laws that apply to them (the 'Noahide' laws). Thus, we will ultimately transform the entire world into G‑d’s home.” (Lubavitcher Rebbe, Likutei Sichot, vol. 10, p. 141.)


“By studying the Torah regularly, we construct a 'Tabernacle,' i.e., a dwelling for G‑d, in our personal lives. By commanding the Jewish people to encamp around the Tabernacle, G‑d teaches us that we should center our lives around this inner sanctuary. The innermost point of the Tabernacle was the Ark, which housed the Tablets of the Covenant, i.e., the Torah. When the Torah is the focal point around which our lives revolve, it can positively affect all facets of our lives, as it is meant to. Furthermore, once the Torah is illuminating and influencing our lives as it is meant to, its influence can spread still further outward, enlightening and refining all humanity and the entire world.” (Lubavitcher Rebbe, Daily Wisdom, Ha'azinu, p. 429.)


“The Machpeilah Cave is the burial site of Adam and Eve, the first human beings; as such, it originally belonged to all humanity. In purchasing it, Abraham articulated G‑d’s intention that the mission originally given to humanity as a whole now be passed on to the Jewish people. By accepting this task, the Jewish people were fundamentally separating themselves from the rest of humanity and assuming the role of its mentors. It is our challenge to recognize this destiny today, as well.” (Lubavitcher Rebbe, Daily Wisdom, Chayei Sara, First Reading)


Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903-1993)


(On Nishmas prayer on Shabbos) “Although this prayer has the same theme as the blessing of Yishtabach (“May your name be praised”), emphasizing God's attributes and the privilege given to us to praise Him, it is recited only on Shabbat and Holidays simply because there is not sufficient time to recite it during weekdays. It may be described as the great universal hymn of the salvation of mankind. A Jew is not satisfied with his redemption unless everybody will be redeemed with him; the Jew feels the beat of the heart of the universe. The Jew prays even for the cosmos. Once a month, he prays that God restore the diminution of the  moon. The Jewish experience is all-inclusive, all-embracing, sympathetic to all.” (Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Days of Deliverance in Mesorat HaRav Siddur, p. 476-7)


“He [Abraham] was a resident, like other inhabitants of Canaan, sharing with them a concern for the welfare of society, digging wells, and contributing to the progress of the country in loyalty to its government and institutions. Here, Abraham was clearly a fellow citizen, a patriot among compatriots, joining others in advancing the common welfare. However, there was another aspect, the spiritual, in which Abraham regarded himself as a stranger. His identification and solidarity with his fellow citizens in the secular realm did not imply his readiness to relinquish any aspects of his religious uniqueness. His was a different faith and he was governed by perceptions, truths, and observances which set him apart from the larger faith community. In this regard, Abraham and his descendants would always remain 'strangers.'” (Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Reflections of the Rav, p. 169)


“We certainly share the concerns of man in general, but at the same time we have interests and concerns of our own. We are part of humanity and at the same time, we are alone.” (Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, “Lonely Man of Faith,” Trailer)


“And you shall say to Pharaoh, so said Hashem: Yisrael is my eldest son.” (Shemos 4,22)


“What the Almighty God said, בני בכורי, what is the conclusion that is to be drawn from it? If I say, 'he's my oldest' or 'he's my bechor', it means that I have more children. He is the oldest, but there are many more children. When God told Moshe, 'say to Pharaoh, Yisrael is my son, he is my bechor,' what does it mean? God has more children, He has many sons. Otherwise, the expression 'beni bechori' is inappropriate. If one has a single son he would say 'beni yechidi', like 'your son, your only son who you love' (Bereishis 22:2). But now it's 'beni bechor'.” (Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, The Rav Thinking Aloud on Shemos, p. 50)


“Every nation is a son of HaKadosh Baruch Hu.” (Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, The Rav Thinking Aloud on Shemos, p. 50, See also Rabbeinu Ephraim, p. 176 and Chizkuni on the passuk)


“There are religiously committed Jews who are indifferent to the concerns of the larger non-Jewish society. They are content to reside in isolated communities with unconcern, if not actual disdain, for the Gentile world and for the problems which afflict humanity. This introversion can be explained as a reaction to the centuries-old derision and persecution which have been the Jewish historical experience and to which they were subjected with particular ferocity in modern times. Nowadays, there are particular aspects of moral perversion afflicting the general society which are repellent to Jewish sensibilities. Nevertheless, this insularity cannot be vindicated as authentic Judaism even if it can be understood and justified in particular historical periods and situations.


“The fullest realization of Jewish history will be achieved in Messianic days. The Jewish vision of the Messianic era includes tranquility and fulfillment for all mankind, not only for the Jewish people. The Yalkut writes:  'Every people or nation which did not oppress Israel will partake of the Messianic era' (Bo, 212). A universal brotherhood will accompany a restored and vindicated Israel, and a worldwide regeneration was foretold by prophet Zechariah: 'And the Lord shall be king all over the earth; in that day shall the Lord be one and His Name one' (14:9). Isaiah elaborated on this universal theme: 'And many peoples shall go and say: Come, let us go up the Mount of the Lord, to the House of God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways and we will walk in his paths (2:3).'” (Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, “Man of Faith in the Modern World,” “The Universal and the Covenantal.”)


Friday, October 28, 2022

Simmy Lerner presents Rav Hirsch on parshas Noach

He discusses the danger of community for community sake as it obliterates the individual.

Friday, October 21, 2022

differences between different groups


Rav Avigdor Miller

When there are differences between different groups among the Jewish People, how are we to know who is right?

Everyone is right. And everyone is wrong. Nobody is perfect in this world. We have to live with the principle of knowing that we ourselves are not altogether right.  And we have to do our best to improve. Although we don’t have to adopt what everybody else does, and everyone should follow the customs and manners of his kehilla in the very best manner, nevertheless, he should know that there are  things to be learned everywhere.

Even though you’re a chossid, when you walk into Telshe Yeshiva, you can learn good things there too. And if a Telshe bochur goes to Williamsburg, he can learn good things there, no question about it. Therefore, everyone should try to steal from others all the good things they can. Instead of going around and saying “Well, I saw in this shteibel that they talk during davening so it’s not so bad.” Or, “In the other place they daven fast, so I can also daven fast.” So this person goes around collecting all the wrong things from all the places. No! Go around collecting all the good things from everybody – that’s what they’re there for.

And that’s the person who will succeed. That’s what jealousy is for. Kinah means to be koneh, to acquire, to be jealous of all the good things that you find. “Why is he saying a long shemonah esrei and not me?” “Why does he treat his wife so nicely and I’m so gruff?” “Why does he go out to learn at night and I’m still wasting away?” And everybody should try to steal from everyone else all the good things that they find.

And thus the first mother, Chava, gave the first child ever born in this world the name Kayin which means to be koneh, to acquire. She wanted him to think about that all the time because that’s our purpose – to acquire all the qualities that find favor in the eyes of Hashem. Because what Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants of us is shleimus, perfection. Shleimus in knowledge of the Torah, perfection in knowing His ways, perfection in recognizing Him in history and in nature. Perfection in character and self-control and perfection in kindliness to our fellow man. Every form of perfection that’s possible for a person to emulate, to imitate, to steal from all sides, he should do that. Whenever he comes into contact with people, whenever he sees anything good in the world, he should emulate it and decide that he wants to take it for himself.
TAPE # 781 (April 1990) 

Monday, October 17, 2022


Da Vinci painted one Mona Lisa. Beethoven composed one Fifth Symphony. And God made one version of you. 

Max Lucado

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Lub Rebbe on Simchas Torah from Living Jewish

 All reserve disappears in the exuberant dancing of Simchat Torah. Every Jew feels a natural desire to take a Torah scroll in his arms and celebrate. Hidden resources of joy, energies which we did not know we possessed, surface at this time. The source for this happiness, the center of attention, is of course the Torah. Yet, throughout the entire Hakkafot celebrations, the Torah is never opened; we dance holding it wrapped in its mantle. Furthermore, on Simchat Torah people do not usually add to their usual schedule of Torah study; if anything, the opposite is true. Though the Torah is usually associated with disciplined study, on Simchat Torah we approach it differently, singing and dancing in a manner that bears no apparent relationship to understanding. The reason for these innovations on Simchat Torah is that intellect is not the only means through which a person can connect with the Torah. One dimension of the Torah can be defined and grasped by our minds; another dimension is infinite, beyond all human comprehension. The infinite aspect of the Torah represents its essence, for “G‑d and His Torah are one.” Just as G‑d is infinite, transcending all bounds and limitations, so too is the Torah, extending beyond the confines of human understanding. Accordingly, for man to relate to Torah, his commitment must mirror this infinity. Thus, when our ancestors received the Torah at Mt. Sinai they declared, Naaseh Venishma (“We will do and we will listen”), thereby making a superrational commitment to follow G‑d’s will, a commitment that was not conditional upon their understanding. By first stating Naaseh (“We will do”), they demonstrated a willingness to follow G‑d’s commands without reservation. The intellectual dimension of the Torah is crucial, but does not define its essence. So that man could relate to G‑dliness, the Torah was brought down from its infinite heights and invested in rational concepts, laws and principles that can be studied, understood and incorporated into our behavior. These, however, represent merely the external dimensions of Torah and not its inner core. Garbing the Torah in intellectual categories is a process of outreach by G‑d to man. On Simchat Torah man reaches out to G‑d and attempts to connect with the aspect of Torah that is one with Him. This requires stepping beyond the restrictions of one’s own rational mindset. And this is what takes place when a Jew dances with a Torah scroll on Simchat Torah. All Jews, learned and unsophisticated alike, share equally in the Simchat Torah celebrations, because these celebrations tap a point in the soul which, by nature of its infinity, defies the entire concept of rank and gradation. At this level of soul, no difference exists between one Jew and another. The basic commonality that links us makes us join hands and dance, oblivious to the personal differences that might create barriers between individuals. 

From the teachings of the Rebbe; adapted from Timeless Patterns in Time, Sichos in English

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Beethoven Symphony No 9 in D minor „An die Freude“ „Ode to Joy“ Georg Solti Jessye Norman London Philharmonic

Impeccable performance. You gotta hand it to the British. They are an amazing people. And Beethoven, wow. Wrote this when he was deaf. Get your mind around that. 

Ode to Joy climax at around 1:06:00

Some quotes by Beethoven:

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Not for the Jews Alone

"But the Torah has also taught us not to conceive of this our destiny and of the lot which awaits us because of it and for the purpose of its fulfillment, in terms of isolated phenomena. Even as it has taught us to acquire the proper, thoughtful appreciation for nature through God, and for the place of man in nature, so it also demonstrates to us that the founding and the destiny of our people is most intimately linked with the course of the history of mankind as a whole, which is no less guided by God than is our own. It teaches us to recognize that the purpose of our founding and our introduction into the midst of the nations was that we might teach mankind, and reclaim mankind for, the knowledge and recognition of God, and of its own destiny and task as assigned it by Him. At the very beginning, Abraham was appointed to be "the spiritual father of the multitude of the nations." It was through him, and through the generations that would follow him, that blessings were to come "to all the families of the earth." At the time of His very first intervention in the course of the history of the nations in behalf of Israel, God referred to the latter not as His "only son" but rather as His "first-born" son. In the same spirit, God declared the aim of the miracles He had wrought for the deliverance of His people in Egypt to be "that His Name might be proclaimed throughout the earth" (Exod. 9: 16). And it is repeatedly stated that a reason for the preservation of Israel among the nations was that all the nations might be brought back to a purer knowledge of God (Num. 14:13 ff)."

R' Hirsch, intro to commentary on Tehillim