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

The Halachot of "Mashiv Haru'ah" and "Veten Tal U'matar"

We begin adding "mashiv haru'ah u'morid hageshem" to the second berachah of Amidah during the musaf service of Shemini Asseret; we stop reciting mashiv haru'ah during musaf of the first day of Pesah. If one did not recite mashiv haru'ah and instead recited "morid hatal," then if he remembered in the middle of the berachah, before reciting "baruch Atah Hashem," he should go back, recite mashiv haru'ah, and continue from there. If he recited Hashem's Name in the berachah before he remembered, then he continues Amidah and does not go back.

In EressYisrael, we begin adding the request for rain - "veten tal u'matar livrachah" - during Arbit the night of the seventh of Heshvan, and continue through minhah of Erev Pesah. The custom of the Sefaradim and Eastern communities is to recite during the summer months the berachah "barchenu" and in the winter months "barech alenu," which includes "veten tal u'matar." This is the proper practice according to Kabbalah. The Ashkenazim always recite "barech alenu," only in the wintertime they add "veten tal u'matar livrachah." The Rambam's version of Amidah has the berachah of "barchenu" even during the winter, adding "veten tal u'matar livrachah" during the wintertime. This is the practice among the Yemenite communities, who follow the Rambam's rulings.

If one forgets to recite "veten tal u'matar" and remembers before mentioning Hashem's Name at the conclusion of that berachah, he goes back, recites "veten tal… " and continues from there. If he remembers only after he completed the berachah of "mevarech hashanim," then he recites "veten tal u'matar" right there and then and continues with the next berachah - "teka b'shofar gadol." If, however, he did not remember until after he began "teka b'shofar," then he continues the Amidah and adds "veten tal u'matar" in the berachah of "shema kolenu," before the phrase, "ki Atah shome'a… "

If one forget to add it in "shema kolenu" and remembers after reciting Hashem's Name in the berachah but before reciting the words, "shome'a tefilah," then he should immediately say, "lamedeni hukecha," say "veten tal u'matar," and continue "ki Atah shomei'a… " If he remembers only after he completed the berachah of "shome'a tefilah" but before he began "resseh," then he adds "veten tal u'matar" right there and then and continues as usual. If, however, he did not remember until he said "resseh," then he must go back to the berachah of "barech alenu" and continue from there. If the person did not remember until after he recited "Yihyu lerasson imrei fi" for the second time, right before taking three steps back - he must repeat the entire Amidah. In a case when one remembers during "Elokai nessor" that he did not recite "veten tal u'matar," then if he hears kaddish and kedushah he should not answer, as he is still in the middle of his Amidah (since he must go back to "barech alenu"). He should think of the words, rather than say them verbally.

One who forgets "veten tal u'matar" must repeat Amidah even if this occurred during Arbit, despite the fact that, strictly speaking, Arnit is not obligatory. Tosafot writes that when the Gemara considers Arbit "optional," it referred only to a situation where one has another misvah to perform during the time of Arbit; otherwise, Arbit is an outright obligation.

These halachot apply to women, as well; they, too, must repeat Amidah if they forgot to add "veten tal u'matar."

Some authorities maintain that on the night of the seventh of Heshvan (in Eress Yisrael), one need not repeat Amidah if he forgets "veten tal u'matar"; others disagree. As for the final halachah, if one remembers during Amidah he should follow the standard procedures, outlined above; if, however, he remembers only after completing Amidah, he should repeat Amidah with the intention that if halachah does not require this recitation, it should be considered a "tefilat nedavah" (optional prayer).

Communities south of the equator, where winter and summer occur in reverse fashion than they do in Eress Yisrael and other places north of the equator, should never recite "veten tal u'matar" in the berachah of "barech alenu." Instead, during their winter they should add "veten tal u'matar" to the berachah of "shome'a tefilah."


A remarkable Midrash relates that as Avraham's visitors ate, he stood over them as a tree to provide them with shade and protect them from the hot sun. Clearly, this does not undermine the straightforward meaning of the pasuk, that Avraham had planted trees for this purpose, to provide shade for his guests, and he thus invited his visitors to sit in the comfort of the shade. In fact, this incident occurred during the afternoon, when the sun is situated directly overhead, when a person's body can hardly provide sufficient shade for three other people. But in this passage Hazal wished to convey to us a message, and a powerful one indeed: we are the children of Avraham Avinu, and we seek to perform kindness for others with our own selves. If we have an extra bit of money, we donate it to charity. Why not - we have a little extra. We also invite guests for Shabbat - and this too is laudable. But Avraham Avinu absorbed with his own body the scorching rays of the sun in order to provide some comfort for his guests. He was prepared to go hungry so that his guests could eat heartily - this was his approach, the approach that he sought to transmit to us, his offspring.

From physical and material kindness we move to spiritual kindness - which is even more important.

One who learns and grows spiritually, and through his growth he brings merit to others, as well, guiding and teaching - this is indeed praiseworthy. But we learn from Avraham Avinu to forego to some extent on one's own growth in order to assist others: "as he stood over them" - he froze his growth in order to help them. This is true "mesirut nefesh" - devotion of one's soul. The obligation of our time period is to save our generation, to deliver Torah classes, to provide spiritual light in every corner that we can, to increase the honor of Torah - and every individual bears the personal obligation to bring merit to the masses!


The people of Sedom were annihilated. As far as we know, this happened suddenly, without warning.

The generation of the flood was warned one hundred and twenty years in advance, during which time Noah warned them incessantly of the disaster. But Sedom was overturned in an instant, demolished by a torrent of rain, fire and limestone.

And here a question arises. Let us assume that no warning was necessary given that their conduct violated the most basic human ethic. But why did they deserve such a grave punishment - total destruction? This question is based on the comments of the Midrash concerning Kayin's murder of his brother, Hevel. This was an intentional, criminal act of murder, for which Kayin was punished with exile - the punishment generally issued against inadvertent killers. The Midrash explains that although Kayin murdered, he had no one from whom to learn. Thereafter, however, whoever kills is liable for the death penalty (Beresheet Rabbah 22:12). The people of Sedom kept their wealth for themselves and offered no support to the poor (see Yehezkel 16:49). The Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 4:1) writes that they said, "Let us obliterate wayfarers from our midst!" They instituted a policy forbidding the entrance of beggars. We are not a welfare agency, they announced. This was outright cruelty and evil. But why were they not judged as inadvertent violators, given that no one before them had been punished for selfish insensitivity, and they thus had no one from whom to learn?

Perhaps one could answer that they should have learned from their great neighbor, Avraham Avinu, the pillar of kindness. This cannot be. Can such a standard of generosity be demanded from anyone?

Slaughtering an entire calf for each guest, so that he can eat a tongue with mustard, as the Midrash describes? Running to welcome guests, bowing before them, calling them, "My lords," pleading with them to eat with him? Avraham's conduct is extraordinary by any standard. Even the sacred amora'im wondered, "Are we expected to learn from Avraham" - to follow his standard? (Yoma 28b). The people of Sedom - all the more so!

The answer emerges from the following story. One day at dawn a group assembled to travel together to Sanz, to visit the great sadik, the "Divrei Hayyim" zs"l. They planned to pray "vatikin" (at sunrise) and reach Sanz after the sadik completed his tefilah, in order to receive his blessing, and then return immediately in order not to miss a workday. A certain elderly Jew heard of the plans and expressed his desire to join. When they reached Sanz, the tefilah was still in progress. They stood by the doorway and waited for its completion. The elderly man looked and saw the men praying.

By the eastern wall, there stood a Jew wrapped in a tallit dancing, clapping and loudly singing. He found this to be a remarkable spectacle, and he wanted to get a better view. He drew nearer and nearer until he stood right opposite the man, and stared. Suddenly, the Jew stopped his celebration, grabbed the old man's hand, took him to the doorway and threw him out.

The sadik returned to his place and completed his prayer with fervor and enthusiasm, but the old man did not know what to do with himself. When the tefilah concluded, the visitors stood in line.

The sadik went and bestowed a blessing upon each one. When he came to the old man, he took him by the hand to the entrance of the courtyard, and threw him out.

The sadik returned inside as the old man wept bitterly outside. The gabbai said to him, "I will try to plead your case for you." He entered the sadik's sacred chamber and said, "The old man is standing outside - "

"So let him return to his village," the sadik cried. "I do not wish to see him."

"He wants to know what his sin was," the gabbai said.

"Really?" the sadik cried. "When he sees a Jew serving his Creator, he gazes at him like he's some strange creature in a zoo?! He is not at all inspired? He stands there completely indifferent, cold, curious and entertained? Whoever is not influenced at all by the avodat Hashem of another Jew testifies on himself that any Jewish spark inside him has extinguished. I do not want to meet him."

"But he is crying; apparently, something has been awoken inside him," the gabbai pleaded. "If so," said the sadik, "then let him come inside to receive a blessing."

Herein lies the answer to our question. If the people of Sedom have a neighbor like Avraham Avinu but remain "the people of Sedom," then clearly all sparks of humanity within them have been extinguished, and there is no longer any hope for improvement…


Dear Brothers,

There was great joy in Sedom - a festive, nocturnal celebration! Lot, the new judge, was caught committing a crime. He violated the law. A criminal judge- what a strange combination! He invited guests, in violation of municipal regulations. Everyone in the city, young and old, gathered around his house for a protest demonstration. He had just been appointed as judge that day, and already he attempted to establish new, foreign norms. No, they would not let him do this! They wanted to teach him a lesson he wouldn't forget. In the end, they were all blinded and were forced to scatter. But they promised themselves that their protest would continue; they would not let this pass. They went to bed with a firm resolve to continue the next day with the necessary measures. But they never even got out of bed. A torrent of limestone and fire eradicated them from the earth. The Jordan River flooded the entire valley, forming the Dead Sea.

Their souls ascended to the heavens. They said to themselves, "We received our punishment in the physical world; at very least we will enjoy a portion in the world to come." Their paths, however, were blocked. "The people of Sedom have no portion in the world to come" (Sanhedrin 107b).

When picturing all this in our minds, people scorched by limestone and salt, appearing as if they just left a fiery furnace, we wonder, why? Why such anger and fury against these people?

Then the following, eternal pasuk is read to them: "This was the sin of your sister Sedom: arrogance! She and her daughters had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquillity; yet she did not support the poor and the needy" (Yehezkel 16:49).

We can hear them wondering to themselves, "Okay, so what? We are commanded only with regard to the seven Noahide laws, and those we fulfilled completely. We did not kill, we did not steal, we did eat meat from a living animal, we did not worship idols, we did not commit adultery. So we did not allow any guests into the city, we didn't give charity. What sin did we transgress?"

In other words, "Where is it written?"

In an incident related in the Humash shortly thereafter, Avraham settles in Gerar and introduces his wife as his sister. Avimelech, the king, sees it befitting his honor to take her as his queen. He then receives a prophetic vision in which he is told, "You will die on account of the woman you have taken!"

He protests. What do they want from him? He made a mistake. He is innocent. Why should he die? The answer is, "A visitor comes to town - should they ask him about matters of food and drink, or about his wife?" (Rashi, 20:11).

What kind of claim is this? Okay, they did not act properly; but where is this written? On the basis of what statute in the written code of law, based on which halachah in the Shulhan Aruch, did Avimelech deserve to die?

We learn that not everything needs to be written. Where is it written that one should not pray with his hands in his pockets? Where is it written that one should not speak during Torah reading? (Incidentally, both of these are indeed written.) Where is it written that when a guest comes to the Bet Kenesset, the people should extend to him a warm and friendly greeting and ask him "about matters of food and drink," if he has a place to eat and sleep?

Where is it written that one should not throw paper in the street (and it is written) and that one should not paint graffiti on the walls (this, too, is written)? Where is it written that one should not enjoy a good laugh at the expense of another (which is written) or that one should not leave the Bet Kenesset before the end of the tefilah (this is written)? Even if not everyone is a talmid hacham and knows where all these things are written, logic and a basic ethical sense, general sensitivity and natural conscience, dictate them. If we would live in accordance with all these, our lives would be much different.

And those who do not live in accordance with these - look what happened to them; we should never know.

Shabbat Shalom Aryeh Deri


Salivary Glands

Everyone knows already from childhood that it is enough just to see food, or sometimes even to think of food, to fill one's mouth with saliva. Even when one just recalls the taste of a lemon, for example, and imagines a piece in one's mouth, he can feel his mouth water, and he must swallow his saliva. Also when one smells a favorite food as it is brought to the table, even before it reaches the mouth, his salivary glands begin their work.

When food enters the mouth, it stimulates the nerve endings that go to the brain. In response, the secretion of saliva begins in its familiar, reflexive fashion. Even the sight of food causes a similar reflex, only this reflex begins not in the mouth cavity, but rather in the eye, which sees the food. An essential difference exists between the reflexive response to food inside one's mouth and the reflexive response to the sight of food. The reflex that responds to food that entered one's mouth is a permanent reflex, from birth, just like the way a hand instinctively recoils when it is stuck by a thorn. The reflex that responds to sight, by contrast, must be learned; it is not instinctive from birth.

One's reflexes play an important role in the process of digestion. But reflex as a response to a stimulation, without any willful consciousness, occurs in human life in other areas, as well. Reflexes work when a person is aware that something could potentially harm him; in such situation, he operates automatically. Even though the person acts in times like these without thinking, the actions he performs are nevertheless the correct and appropriate actions to take. Thus, for example, when a Jew sees forbidden food, he does not even bother checking what exactly it is and what it consists of. The fact that it is forbidden itself causes him to lose interest. Whenever a Jew confronts a situation of a potential misvah violation, he immediately recoils, as he realizes without any shadow of a doubt that the world does not run haphazardly; everything is specifically planned and calculated, no less so than the operation of the salivary glands. In such a case, when we deal with the observance of misvot, whoever respects this reflexive conduct and is careful with regard to even "slight" violations - is ultimately rewarded.


The Dowry (2)

Flashback: There once lived a fine, diligent student whose oldest daughter reached marriageable age. His wife requested that when he goes to his rabbi, the Hozeh of Lublin zs"l, he should tell of him of his poverty and ask how he can secure money for a dowry for his daughter. But every time he went to his rabbi, he was swept by the atmosphere of kedushah, and all his private affairs flew from his mind. In the end, he promised his wife that he would tie a knot in his handkerchief, which would remind him to speak to the rabbi about their daughter.

The man traveled to Lublin and, as expected, when he stood before his rabbi he was inspired and uplifted to the point where he forget everything. He sat to learn with great intensity and diligence in order to prepare himself for tefilah, and he prayed with intense concentration that Hashem should open his heart to learn Torah. This then repeated itself several times over. Once, the tefilah with the rabbi who resembled an angel and his disciples was so intense that puddles of perspiration poured from him - like the perspiration of the angels, which creates the Dinor River.

In a brief moment of distraction, he placed his hand in his pocket to clean his forehead with his handkerchief, but it was tied in a knot. Who tied it? He suddenly remembered his family and his daughter, and his wife's request. He held the handkerchief in his hand until after the tefilah and asked to come before the rabbi. He stood before the sacred sadik and told him of his daughter who had come of age. The Hozeh asked the daughter's age. When the man told him, he exclaimed, "Where have you been until now? Why haven't you said anything?"

The man replied, "The rabbi is graced with ru'ah hakodesh; everything is revealed to him!"

The Hozeh smiled and said, "Nevertheless, you violated what is written in the Torah!"

The young man shuddered. What violation did he transgress? The Hozeh explained, "When a Jew discovers, to his horror, some discoloration in the walls of his house, the Torah commands him to come before the kohen and inform him that he spotted a discoloration (Vayikra 14:35). He does not rely on the kohen's ru'ah hakodesh… You should have come and tell me. In any event, what was done is in the past. Now, I suggest that you travel to Cracow, and there Hashem will provide money for a respectable dowry and all the wedding expenses. You will marry off your daughter honorably and enjoy much nahat from her for many generations."

"Amen," the man answered with great excitement. He asked the sadik for a farewell blessing, and bid farewell also from the members of the sacred circle of disciples. He took his bag of tallit and tefillin and made his way to the city of Cracow. He arrived in the city and sought lodging in the first Jewish inn he found. He asked for a room, placed his tallit bag on the counter, and asked the innkeeper for a Gemara. He went downstairs to the dining room, found an empty table, opened the Gemara, and began studying in depth with intense concentration, forgetting the world around him. He had to be reminded of meal-time, and those around him watched him as he meticulously washed his hands and recited the berachah with awe and sanctity, and they observed how he ate and recited birkat hamazon. He immediately returned to his studies until the time came for tefilah.

"Fortunate are we that we have merited such a guest," the innkeeper said to his wife. "The question is, does he have any money to pay for his stay in the motel!"

to be continued


"For I know him, that he will instruct his children and his family after him"

Rashi explains "I know him" to mean, "I love him," as an expression of friendship and adoration, such as the expression, "muda le'ishah" ("a friend of her husband" - Rut 2); "va'eda'acha beshem" ("I have singled you out by name" - Shemot 33). Indeed, this meaning closely relates to the root, "y.d.a.," knowing, for someone who loves another will get close to him and know him very well.

This interpretation brings to mind the comment of the sadik Rav Moshe Leib of Sassov zs"l, who remarked that he learned what "ahavat Yisrael" (love for fellow Jews) truly means from a non-Jewish drunkard. He once traveled and stayed in an inn along the main route. He walked into the dining room, which also served as a bar, and found two farmers sitting over a bottle of whisky. They drank their fill and began opening their hearts to one another. One asked the other, "Are you really a true friend of mine?" "Of course," the other replied, "we are very good friends." But the first shook his head and said, "How can you say that you like me, if you don't even know what bothers me?"

The sadik of Sassov commented: "From these words I learned the depth of the commandment, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself' - first and foremost, you must understand what troubles him." This idea is explicit here: "For I know him" - I love him. There can be no love without "knowledge," knowledge of what the other is missing, of what his needs are.

"For I know him, that he will instruct his children and his family after him"

The Ramban zs"l explained that there are different levels of Hashem's providence over His creatures. This is analogous to a baby-sitter who watches over a group of children who play together in the group. She watches all of them, but does not get involved unless this becomes necessary. If a child falls, he'll stand up by himself. If a child loses something, he'll go find it. But if the young crown prince is entrusted to her, her attitude towards him will be much different. Similarly, the closer a person is to the Al-mighty and the more he obeys His will, Hashem's supervision over him will be closer, as it says, "He will not diminish His sight from a sadik" (Iyov 36:7); "Behold, Hashem's eye is on those who fear Him" (Tehillim 33:18).

"For I know him, that he will instruct his children and his family after him"

Rabbenu Ovadia Seforno zs"l explained this pasuk as follows. The Al-mighty declared that He loves Avraham Avinu because he guides his children to follow the path of the Creator. He therefore cannot hide from Avraham His plans concerning Sedom, since he will learn an important lesson from this, too. Namely, that although the sentence of Sedom was sealed, that it should be destroyed, the Al-mighty was nevertheless prepared to consider suspending the punishment. If He found fifty sadikim, He would forgive the entire region. If He found forty-five - also. If He found forty, He would forgive four of the cities. From here we learn not to close our ears or hearts, even after the decision has been made; we must remain open to the possibility of forgiving, to act kindly, to forgive even partially, as best we can.

"For I know him, that he will instruct his children and his family after him"

The Rambam zs"l (in his Moreh Nevuchim 3:51) explains this pasuk as the Al-mighty's testimony about Avraham Avinu. Avraham had already amassed great wealth and involved himself in all worldly affairs. Nevertheless, Hashem testifies that his intention in all his activities was but for a single purpose: "that he will instruct his children and his family after him to observe the path of Hashem to perform kindness and justice."

"For I know him, that he will instruct his children and his family after him"

Rabbenu Yis’hak Aramah zs"l (Akedat Yis’hak 94) noted that in the clause, "ki yedativ" ("For I know him") Hashem employs the past tense, as if He had said, "I have known him." Yet, the pasuk continues in the future tense - "that he will instruct… " He explains that the Torah here alludes to a critical principle. The Al-mighty gives the individual from the outset everything he needs to grow spiritually - the intellect, the talent, etc. All the individual must do is realize his destiny and justify his having received the divine gifts granted to him.


Rabbi Yehudah Sheraf zs"l

Rabbi Yehudah Sheraf zs"l was among the great scholars of Egypt around three hundred years ago.

He was the rabbi of several great luminaries, including the Peri Hadash zs"l and the Maharash Primo zs"l. It is recorded in the work, "Me'il Sedakah" (1, 682) that he once declared in a public address that if a person has only a single coin with which to buy bread to eat, he should give it to a poor person; he personally guaranteed that the Al-mighty will then provide him with his livelihood. The giving of charity in such a situation demonstrates the person's firm trust in the Al-mighty, and Hashem repays those who trust in Him.

The rabbi once came to a certain village, and among those who came to greet him was the local shohet. The rabbi got the impression that the shohet was an ignoramus and did not know even the most basic halachot relevant to his profession. Needless to say, however, he would not act upon just a suspicion alone.

One of the wealthy residents earned the privilege of hosting the revered rabbi and prepared a large meal in his honor. He invited the respected members of the community, including the shohet.

The rabbi hid a piece of paper in an envelope and asked his host's daughter to come in the middle of the meal and hand him the envelope.

During the meal, the rabbi received the envelope, took out the piece of paper, looked at it, and broke out crying.

"What happened?" everyone asked in a shudder.

"Due to my sins, I have received the terrible news that my five daughters have taken deathly ill in a plague that broke out in my city. My daughters, whom I love so - shehiyah, derasah, haladah, hagramah, and ikkur!" He turned to the shohet and asked him to lead the recitation of a chapter of Tehillim for their speedy recovery.

The shohet stood and began praying, not knowing that the five "names" the rabbi listed were in fact the five instances of invalid shehitah - even this the shohet did not know!


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

by Rav David Yossef shlit"a

Pouring Cold Water Into a Keli Rishon

One may not pour cold water into hot water in a keli rishon (original pot, in which the water was boiled). One may not do so even if he already took the keli rishon with the hot water off the fire, covered fire, or electric hot plate and placed it on a table or bench, so long as the water in the utensil is at or above the temperature of "yad soledet bo" (the point at which one's hand would immediately recoil on contact).

Pouring Hot Water Into a Keli Rishon

Similarly, one may not pour even very hot soup or water into food in a keli rishon at or above the temperature of "yad soledet bo," even if that keli rishon has been removed from the fire, covered fire or electric hot plate and placed on a table or bench.

One may pour large amounts of cold water into hot water or onto hot food in a keli rishon that has been removed from the fire, covered flame, or electric hot plate and placed on a table or bench. Given the large quantity of cold water, it is not cooked by the hot water or food, but rather cools it off. Preferably, one should pour the cold water into the hot water or food all at once. Nevertheless, when it is impossible to do otherwise, one may, strictly speaking, pour the cold water slowly, so long as the cold water ultimately far exceeds the hot water or food such that it becomes cooler than "yad soledet bo."

Cooking After Baking

The Rishonim debate the issue of whether we consider it "cooking" for purposes of Shabbat when one cooks a food item that has already been baked or roasted. According to one view, we may be lenient in this regard, just as we do not consider it "cooking" when one cooks an item that has already been cooked previously. The Sefaradim and Eastern communities who abide by the rulings of the Shulhan Aruch follow the lenient position concerning cooking after baking or roasting. The Ashkenazim, however, are stringent in this regard, and forbid cooking a baked or roasted item even in a keli sheni.

In light of this, the Sefaradim may place a piece of bread into hot soup, even while the soup is still in a keli rishon on a covered flame or electric hot plate. If, however, the soup is on an open flame, then one may not place in it anything baked or any dry, cooked food (not to mention liquid), as this resembles cooking. One may likewise dip crackers and the like into a cup of hot coffee or tea on Shabbat. The Ashkenazim, however, forbid placing pieces of bread into a hot food and dipping cookies or baked crackers into hot coffee or tea, even in a keli sheni. They permit this only in a keli shelishi.

Senyar Bat Mazal and Yis'hak Shaul Ben Leah

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