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Lech Lecha


A Summary of the Shiur Delivered on Mossa'ei Shabbat by Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

Halachot of Meat and Milk

(The shiur was delivered by Rav Yisshak Yosef shlit"a)

The Torah repeats three times the prohibition against cooking milk and meat (Shemot 23:19 & 34:26; Devarim 14:21), which Hazal explain (Hulin 115b) as alluding to three distinct prohibitions: cooking, eating, and benefiting from meat and milk together. A cook may not accept a position cooking in a hotel or consulate - even if only gentiles eat of the food - if he must prepare dishes made from meat and milk, since cooking meat and milk itself violates the prohibition. The Kesef Mishneh (Hilchot Tum'at Met 1:2) writes that the Torah forbade cooking meat and milk as a means to prevent one from eating it. We find other similar examples of Torah prohibitions that Rishonim understood as a preventative measure, to avoid other violations. For example, the Ran, in the beginning of Masechet Pesahim, writes that the Torah prohibited the ownership of hamess on Pesah to help ensure that one will not come to eat hamess on Pesah. It should be noted, however, that these prohibitions certainly apply even in cases where the concern it addresses does not; we cannot determine that a given prohibition no longer applies just because its underlying reason is no longer relevant.

Someone working in a chemical laboratory may scientifically examine butter or chocolate to see if it contains animal fat by cooking it. Since the mixture has already been cooked, and because he has no intention of cooking meat with milk, and at the time of cooking it is not known whether or not the item contains animal fat, this is permissible. (See Yabi'a Omer vol. 7, Yoreh Dei'ah 7).

Some authorities permit using a dishwasher for both meat and dairy dishes. They argue that since the hot water that enters the dishwasher contains soap and chemical cleaning agents, any food particles are automatically spoiled on contact with the water. This then parallels the situation described in the Shulhan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 95:4), of washing meat dishes in soapy water with dairy dishes, which he permits. Although several Aharonim disputed this ruling, we have accepted his rulings. However, some authorities forbid the use of a dishwasher for meat and milk dishes together - Rav Moshe Feinstein and others required that meat and milk dishes be washed separately in the dishwasher. Although strictly speaking it is permissible to wash them together, it is proper to be stringent out of concern for this ruling.

We should note that this does not apply in situations where there are large pieces of food in the dishwasher, in which case meat and dairy dishes may certainly not be washed together in the dishwasher.

Although, as discussed, one may not cook meat and milk even if he has no intention of eating it, one may cook other forbidden foods, and we are not concerned lest he come to eat them. Therefore, when other employment is difficult to find, one may accept a job as a cook preparing non-kosher food for gentiles, assuming, of course, he does not cook meat and milk.


We find in our parashah a reflection of the current events of today, and we must extract from it the relevant lessons. Eress Yisrael fell into the portion allotted for Noah's son Shem. Therefore, Avraham Avinu, a descendant of Shem, was the rightful inheritor of the land. He was therefore commanded by Hashem to go there and walk through it, as it will belong to him and his offspring. Yet, as soon as Avraham arrives, we are told, "and the Canaanite was then in the land." As Rashi (12:6) explains, the Canaanites conquered the territory from the descendants of Shem. The Ramban comments that Avraham feared the nation of Canaan, which at that point embarked on a campaign to occupy the land.

Do we not see this very same development taking place in front of our very eyes? Is history not repeating itself? The land was desolate for two thousand years. It was passed through by Romans, crusaders, and nomads, but nobody held onto it. When the descendants of Avraham Avinu returned to their land of origin and made the desolation blossom and flourish, a group of people suddenly arose and now makes a claim of ownership, calls itself a nation and demands the right of return. Where did this people come from? What connection do they have to our sacred land? But "this parallel to that has G-d made." Sanctity operates against impurity, light against darkness. When we look into the Torah, we also know how it will end. Where are Canaanites today? Am Yisrael, by contrast, has endured. We need only to perpetuate the heritage of Avraham Avinu, to call, as he did, in the name of Hashem!


The following, remarkable story is told in the book, "U'Shmuel Be'kor'ei Shemo." During the turbulence of World War II, the yeshivah of Pinsk was exiled to the city of Vilna. When the communists took over Lithuania, the yeshivah once again had to relocate, and this time it went to some distant, far-away town. The Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Shemuel Weintraub zs"l, went to pray at the local Bet Kenesset. He didn't ask for any honor or request a special seat along the eastern wall of the synagogue. He stood in a corner and later testified that the "gates of light" opened for him. He attained great understandings and received a unique bounty of sanctity - a prayer he had never before experienced!

With Hashem's great mercy he was saved from the valley of death and arrived in the Holy Land. Coincidentally, he met someone from that town and told him of the unique prayer he experienced there.

The man asked him, "Could this have been at such-and-such bench, in such-and-such seat?"

"Yes, it was" the rabbi answered. "How did you know?"

"We have a tradition," the man said, "that when the Gaon of Vilna prepared to go off into his 'exile,' he came to our town and prayed there once, at that very spot."

Several generations had already passed since that prayer of the Gaon, but the sacred impact remained.

In his work, "Mili De'Avot," Rav Itzele of Volozhin zs"l explains the pasuk in Tehillim (1:1), "and who did not sit in the seat of the insolent." The pasuk does not mention that the individual did not sit among children or jokers, but rather than he did not sit in a place where frivolity was spoken, as such as place is impure and has an adverse spiritual effect. By contrast, a place used for spirituality earns a special level of sanctity: "Two people who sit and there are words of Torah spoken among them - the Shechinah rests among them" - and does not leave that location!

It is told in the book, "Ma'aseh Ish" that the Hazon Ish zs"l once walked in the street with one of his close disciples, and he suddenly pointed to a street corner, a place on the sidewalk near a tree. He said with great emotion, "Here two people stood and spoke words of Torah!"

"How do you know?" asked his companion.

The Hazon Ish replied, "There is a radiance there."

We can now understand the interpretation of the Or Hahayyim Hakadosh zs"l in our parashah. Avraham Avinu constructed an altar to Hashem after He had appeared to him. Then, "He moved from there on to the hill country… and he built there an altar to Hashem." The Or Hahaim explains the word, "vayatek" (translated in our citation as "he moved") to mean "he transferred." Meaning, Avraham transferred the original altar that he had constructed. He took it apart and carried the stones with him to his new location where he rebuilt the altar. Imagine the trouble Avraham went through in this process. Was there a lack of stones in the hill country? Of course not. But the original altar had sanctity, as Avraham had already offered sacrifices on it. This sanctity would be useful in the next location, the next time Avraham calls out in the name of G-d. All the trouble was thus warranted.

Upon hearing all this, we might ask, true, the prayers of the Gaon of Vilna and the offerings of Avraham Avinu bring about a unique level of sanctity; but for us, would it not constitute arrogance to attribute the same type of power to our prayer?

But how wrong that is, to undermine our own importance. The Gemara (Berachot 6b) says: "Whoever establishes a place for his prayer - the G-d of Avraham assists him. When he dies, it is said to him, 'Woe, such a humble one; woe, such a pious one - among the students of Avraham Avinu!' And how do we know that Avraham Avinu established a place [for his prayer]? As it says, 'Avraham arose early in the morning, to the place where he had stood.'" Rashi explains, "The G-d of Avraham assists him - just as He helped Avraham." Why does such a person earn this special assistance? The Noda Bi'yehudah (in his work, "Siyun Le'nefesh Hayah") explains that when any person prays in a given location, that location attains a status of kedushah. That kedushah helps him concentrate better, and purify himself better, in the next prayer. This then continues the next time, and so on, and the individual's tefilah is accepted more and more every time.

We can now gain a greater appreciation of the Gemara's comment (Berachot 6a), "A person's prayer is heard only in the Bet Kenesset." The Bet Kenesset is saturated with tefilot, with kedushah - who does not want his prayers to be accepted? Who, therefore, would forego on a prayer in the Bet Kenesset?

Dear Brothers,

"Yehoshua said to all the people: Thus said Hashem, the God of Israel: In olden times, your forefathers - Terah, father of Avraham and father of Nahor - lived beyond the river… But I took your father Avraham from beyond the river and led him through the whole land of Canaan and multiplied his offspring. I gave him Yisshak" (Yehoshua 24:2-3). Our parashah opens with this story, with the migration of Avraham Avinu. He is called "Avraham Ha'ivri" because he came "me'ever la'nahar" - from across the river (see Rashi, Beresheet 14:13). His descendants are likewise referred to as "Ivrim" - "Should your Ivri brother, or Ivri'a, be sold unto you… " (Devarim 15:12); "two Hebrew men quarreling" (Shemot 2:13). The gentiles called Benei Yisrael by this name, as well (Shemuel I 4:6; 14:11) - some eight hundred years after Avraham Avinu's initial migration. The prophet Yonah introduced himself with the title, "Ivri." (It is specifically our language that is not called "Hebrew" - "Ivrit" - but rather "Yehudit" - "Jewish" - Nehemiah 13:24). Avraham Avinu is commanded to detach himself from his country, his homeland, and his family, as he binds his destiny to Eress Yisrael, which is his inheritance. Then why do we not forget, neither with regard to him nor concerning his offspring, that he actually came from Iraq?

Upon further reflection, we will uncover a profound message latent within this idea. Eress Yisrael is our land, our beloved land, the land that has everything, a land flowing with milk and honey, a sacred land. But in order to recognize its greatness and understand the obligation to thank the Al-mighty for it, we must always remember from where we got to this land - from the valley of Shinar, from the depths of Babylonia, from the deserts of Iraq.

Similarly, Adam was not created in Gan Eden: "Hashem Elokim planted a garden in Eden, to the east, and He placed there the man that He fashioned." Why? The Hizkuni writes: "For had he been created in Gan Eden, he would have thought that the entire world was the same. He therefore created him outside [the garden], and he saw the world filled with thorns and thistles. Afterwards He brought him into Gan Eden, the greatest place."

This affords us an additional perspective, and perhaps an additional reason, as to the hardships of exile in general, and the period of "ikveta demeshiha" - the heels of the Messiah - in particular. Why will conditions become so severe in the generation prior to the redemption? Why have we been informed long ago that "inflation will skyrocket, the vine will yield its fruit but wine will sell at high prices, the government will turn to heresy, the young will humiliate the old, a child will have no shame in his father's presence" (Sotah49b), and "there will be no coins left in the pocket, and there will be no one to help or support Israel" (Sanhedrin 97a)? Why? In order that when the redemption comes, we will appreciate it, we will realize its greatness in all respects - social, spiritual, political, and economic. In all these areas, we will emerge from darkness to light, from crisis to tranquillity, from subjugation to redemption, and we will sing a new song of praise for our redemption!

David Hamelech requested from Hashem, "Save us, Hashem our God, and gather us from among the gentiles, to acclaim Your sacred Name, to glory in Your praise" (Tehillim 106:47). In order for us to know what to thank His sacred Name for, the Al-mighty gives us a taste of "hester panim," the concealment of His countenance, the polar opposite of redemption. We hope that it is all behind us by now, that we have already experienced the taste of economic recession, of rampant unemployment, of accelerating inflation; that we have already felt enough diplomatic isolation, weapons embargoes, the feeling of the entire world standing against us. We hope that we have had enough sounds of war, bloody terror attacks, loss of pure lives, mortally wounded victims, and innumerable injuries. Master of the world, You have already given us a taste of famine, the drying-up of the Kinneret; Master of the world, we have already seen so much evil. You can now lift the curtain, the redemption can now arrive. "Satiate us with Your goodness, bring joy to our souls with Your salvation" - shine Your face upon us, and we will be saved!

Shabbat Shalom

Aryeh Deri


Chemical Warfare

When we speak of this dreadful notion of chemical warfare, we do not speak only of military operations. There are many, interesting examples in nature of chemical warfare - the venom of snakes and spiders, the wasp's sting, the jellyfish, and the painful poison of a scorpion. But these are just a small handful of examples. In the natural world there are many other, far more deadlier, examples.

The champion of this type of warfare is a certain species of frog called the poison dart frog. These frogs run free without fear in the depths of the tropical forests in South America, as they carry on their tiny bodies - which do not exceed five centimeters - skin glands that contain a poison whose strength is hard to describe. A single gram of this substance can kill one hundred thousand people. Thirty grams of the poison produced by these frogs could kill over two and a half million people. This is the strongest poison known in the natural world. In ancient times, the Indians would smear their arrowheads with the poison extracted from these frogs. A single frog was enough for the preparation of five arrowheads. A living creature hit by this poisonous arrow had no chance of surviving, and would lose its life within just a few minutes.

There is sure to be someone who will hear of this chemical world of animals and think to himself, "Well, it's a good thing that we need not worry about bumping into someone carrying a chemical poison!" But, as it turns out, even in the human world there are those who contain poison inside them, and they inject it into the poor victim who then becomes confused, hurt, and lost to the point of spiritual death. Such a person can present himself in the friendliest of ways, he can smile and even offer a financial grant - and thereby trap the soul whom he leads to destruction. These are the types of people who try to infuse foreign elements into the pure Judaism practiced by G-d-fearing Jews. We must therefore stand guard, remain alert. Above all, we must continue our Torah study - for it, ultimately, is what protects and saves the Jew.


The Dowry (1)

The story we begin this week was told by the great sadik, Rabbi Avraham Simhah zs"l, the rabbi of the city of Barnia, the grandson of the sadik Rabbi Eliezer of Tschikov, the son of the sacred Rav Naftali of Rupshiss zs"l. When he reached his sixtieth year, he bade his community farewell, and they appointed in his place his son, Rabbi Yaakov Yis’hak zs"l, as their rabbi. He moved to Yerushalayim, where many righteous people gathered around him, among them the great Kabbalist, Rabbi Yeshayah Asher Zelig Margaliyot zs"l. The rabbi told many stories that he heard from his fathers and mentors, and his disciples recorded them as he spoke. This story is one of them.

There once lived a certain pious, young student, G-d-fearing and pure of heart, who invested all his time and energy in Torah learning, intensive prayer and fulfillment of misvot. Every so often he would travel to his holy rabbi, the Hozeh of Lublin zs"l, to draw as much spirituality and sacred emotion as he could. He grew to great heights in his rabbi's circle together with his holy disciples. He would then return home to apply himself with even greater diligence and intensity to his learning and avodat Hashem in the Bet Midrash. Hashem provided him with a devoted wife to assist him. She rejoiced over her lot and encouraged him in his spiritual endeavors, as she independently bore the burden of supporting the family. Their needs were few; they were content with the little profit the wife earned by selling apples in the market. They raised their sons to Torah study and their daughters to proper middot, and they enjoyed a wonderful life together.

But the years passed, and the children grew. The oldest daughter reached marriageable age, and people began speaking of her great virtues. Unfortunately, every matchmaker with whom they consulted began with the question of a dowry. Indeed, this is explicit in the Gemara: "How much do you give to your son, such-and-such amount; how much do you give to your daughter, such-and-such: these are the things that are consummated with speech alone" (Kiddushin 9b). Whenever the scholar was asked this question, he had no reply. Thank G-d, they had enough to eat, but he had not a penny for a dowry.

So, what did they do? The wife said to him, "Is our rabbi called the 'Hozeh' [which means, 'seer'] - for nothing? His vision is keen and he sees that which is hidden. Go to him and ask how we will come up with a dowry for our daughter."

"Indeed," he said, "women are granted unique wisdom." He set out for Lublin to consult with his rabbi. But when he arrived, he forgot everything in the world. He followed the rabbi intensely, grew spiritually, and experienced a taste of the world to come.

When he returned home, his wife asked him, "So, where is our dowry?"

"I forgot to ask," he confessed. "Next time," he promised, "I will remember."

But during his next journey he was no less inspired than during the previous trip, and again he returned home empty-handed. When this was repeated a third and then fourth time, the wife lost her patience.

"Our daughter is not getting any younger. If you forget, then I will go with you. I will come before the rabbi and I will ask him."

"Let me try once more," he said. "In order to make sure that I don't forget, I will tie a knot at the edge of my handkerchief. The knot will definitely remind me of why I had come."

He tied the knot and set out towards Lublin.

To be continued


"You shall surely know that your offspring will be foreigners in a land not their own"

Rabbenu Avraham Ibn Ezra zs"l provides an insightful explanation of the concepts of "ezrah" (citizen) and "ger" (foreigner). Both, he writes, are taken from the plant world. The tree produces branches that extend in every direction, like the sun's rays - "zerihah." The word "ezrah," which evolves from "zerihah," refers to a resident who branches out into a large family but is rooted in a single location. The word "ger" comes from the word "gargir" - a grain, or particle, that has been detached from the branch and is now alone and isolated - like a foreigner. The Ibn Ezra concludes, "Some foolish people find this reason distant in their eyes; if they knew the reason behind every letter and its form, they would recognize the truth."

"You shall surely know that your offspring will be foreigners in a land not their own"

The Ramban zs"l writes that we must read the pasuk as follows: "Your offspring will be foreigners in a land not their own for four hundred years, and they will enslave and oppress them." No specific time was stipulated for the period of enslavement and oppression. If they are meritorious, this would last as short as a single day, or two hundred and ten years instead of four hundred - as in fact occurred. We find other examples where we must rearrange the sequence of the clauses in a pasuk, such as, "For whoever eats hamess - that soul will cut off from Israel, from the first day to the seventh day" (Shemot 12:15), which clearly must be read as, "For whoever eats hamess from the first day to the seventh day - that soul will be cut off from Israel." Thus, Hashem here tells Avraham two things: that his descendants will not inherit the land for another four hundred years, and, secondly, that for a period within those four hundred years they will suffer slavery and oppression.

"You shall surely know that your offspring will be foreigners in a land not their own"

The Ar"i Hakadosh zs"l explained that "a land not their own" refers to the Egyptians. Before Benei Yisrael descended to Egypt, the Al-mighty made Yosef ruler over the country, such that all the Egyptians sold themselves to Pharaoh as slaves in return for grain, due to the famine. Yosef resettled the population, moving them from one place to another (see Beresheet 47:21). Hazal explained that he did this so that when Benei Yisrael came down to Egypt they would not be looked down upon as foreigners, since the entire population had become foreigners (Hulin 60b). This is what our pasuk means: "You shall surely know that your offspring will be foreigners" - but they will not experience shame or humiliation despite their foreigner status, since they will be "in a land not their own," meaning, in a land that is not the Egyptians' - for everyone will be foreigners!

"You shall surely know that your offspring will be foreigners in a land not their own"

The Hid"a zs"l cites a reason for the Egyptian exile in the name of the "Yalkut David." Given the spiritual nature of the Torah, it cannot reside within the heart of a human being whose thoughts are directed towards physical indulgence, desires and arrogance. The exile wore down the power of the evil inclination and ego such that Benei Yisrael could receive the Torah. He adds, "From here we have an answer as to the reason behind this long, bitter exile, the inexplicable suffering and poverty. With Hashem's help, when the Mashiah will come, we will have the great merit of learning spirituality directly from Him, as it says, 'and all your children are students of Hashem' (Yeshayahu 54:13). The subjugation and suffering is thus necessary in order for us to merit the secrets of the sacred Torah."

This is what the pasuk means when it says, "they were beaten by Your feet" (Devarim 33:3) - they suffered in exile in order to wear down their physicality, for thereby "they bore Your commandments" - they could receive the spiritual Torah. David Hamelech therefore declares, "It is good for me that I have been oppressed - in order that I learn Your laws" (Tehillim 119:71).


Rabbi Ezra Attieh zs"l

The sages ask why the Al-mighty informed Avraham Avinu that He will ultimately judge the nation that will oppress his descendants. Why do they deserve punishment if they merely executed the divine command? One answer given is that Hashem never appointed a nation to subjugate them. Still, one may ask, some nation had to oppress Benei Yisrael to fulfill G-d's decree; whey, then, should they deserve punishment? The answer is that Egypt owed a debt of gratitude to Yosef, who saved them from the famine, and to Yaakov, upon whose arrival in Egypt the famine ended. And for a lack of appreciation harsh punishment is indeed warranted.

Rabbenu Ezra Attieh zs"l once heard that a certain young man became very angry at his fellow. The great rabbi followed the example of Aharon Hakohen and got involved in order to bring peace between the two friends. The young man said to the rabbi, "But he insulted me very badly!"

The rabbi softly replied, "Specifically for that reason, because it is so hard to forgive, that is why is so important. For Hazal said, 'Whoever foregoes - all his sins will be forgiven.'"

He added, "Actually, we do not even know how beneficial suffering is. There was once a rabbi whose community treated him with disrespect. He was very hurt and asked Hashem that he receive the respect he deserved. His prayer was answered, and his community began showing him great respect, which made him proud. Not too long thereafter, he suddenly died. You must understand, insults are good for us; who knows how much they diminish from the effects of our sins! Hazal say that those who are insulted and do not insult back, who hear their humiliation and do not respond - regarding them the pasuk says, 'and those who love Him - should be like the sun when it comes out in all its might'!"

The young man was softened by the rabbi's words, but insisted, "But the rabbi should know that I did him a favor and he insulted me."

As soon as he heard this, the rabbi stood up on his feet and said, "Forgive me. If this is what happened, then I take back everything I said!"


A Treasury of Halachot and Customs of the Festivals of Israel, Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

by Rav David Yossef shlit"a

Pouring Onto Food That is Not Fully-Cooked

When one pours from a keli rishon (the original utensil in which the food was cooked) onto another food, the pouring cooks "kedei kelipah" - the outermost layer of the food onto which he poured. One may therefore not pour on Shabbat hot water or hot food from a keli rishon onto food that is not fully cooked, as doing so cooks a layer of the food. One may, however, pour hot water or hot food onto a dry food that has been fully cooked, even if it is now cold, since halachah does not consider it "cooking" when cooked, dry food is cooked again.

One may pour hot water into a cup that is filled halfway with cold water, even if the cold water has never been boiled, because a principle in halachah states, "tata'ah gavar," literally, "the bottom wins." Since in this case the bottom water is cold, it cools the hot water entering the cup rather than being cooked by it. Nevertheless, if there is very little cold water in the cup, one should not pour a large amount of hot water into it, since in this case the small amount of cold water may indeed be cooked by the large amount of hot water.

Some authorities maintain that if one pours hot water into cold water all at once, we do not apply the aforementioned rule of "tata'ah gavar," and we are thus concerned that the cold water in the bottom will be cooked by the hot water poured onto it. Others disagree and apply the rule even in such a case. One should preferably abide by the stringent view and refrain from pouring hot water all at once into cold water.

Pouring Hot Liquid Onto Cold, Cooked Liquid

If one has soup or boiled milk that was cooked but has now completely cooled, he may pour hot water onto it from a keli rishon in order to warm it. One may do so even if there is but a very small amount of soup or milk. Not to mention the fact that one may do so if the soup or milk has not cooled completely. Similarly, one may, strictly speaking, pour tea essence that was boiled before Shabbat into an empty cup and then pour into it hot water from a keli rishon - even if there is but a small amount of tea essence. Nevertheless, it is preferable to first pour the hot water from the keli rishon into the cup and thereafter pour the cold soup, milk or tea essence.

Pouring Hot Liquid Into a Wet Cup

One may, strictly speaking, pour hot water or hot soup from a keli rishon into a wet cup that has drops of uncooked water, and one need not dry the cup first. However, one who is stringent and refrains from pouring the water until he dries the cup is worthy blessing.

Senyar Bat Mazal and Yis'hak Shaul Ben Leah

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