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"Yaakov said to his brethren, 'Gather stones'" (31:46). Rashi explains that "brethren" here refers to none other than Yaakov's own sons, who resembled his "brothers" in that they would join him in times of crisis and war. Rabbenu Yossef Hayyim zs"l (Ben Ish Hai, Vayesse, shanah 2) notes that Yaakov initially takes a single stone and erects it as a monument. Afterwards, he instructs his sons to gather stones, which would join the single, large stone to create an entire mound. To what does this allude, and what does this teach us? Why does the Torah make a point of all of this, and what lesson are we to extract? The Ben Ish Hai offers an answer, but here we will suggest our own.
Kelal Yisrael is at times called a "stone," as the pasuk states, "there, the shepherd, the rock of Yisrael." The Hebrew word for stone, "even," has often been interpreted as a contraction of two words: "av" and "ben" - father and son. Yaakov Avinu raises the first stone; he establishes the twelve tribes of Hashem as a testament to Yisrael, to praise the Name of Hashem. He then instructs his children to continue along his path, to "gather stones," to build families of ovdei Hashem, that they become a link in the golden chain, the heritage that passes from father to son and from grandfather to grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Every parent who affords his child a strong Torah education effectively "picks up a stone" and combines it with the original cornerstone, the very first stone laid by Yaakov Avinu! Parents who send their sons and daughters to Torah youth groups add onto the building begun by our great patriarch!
And then, when they stand in prayer and ask for salvation in the merit of our forefathers, the avot will themselves intervene on their behalf, as these parents perpetuate their heritage!
Imagine a eulogizer who stands at the podium to eulogize a great, renowned and accomplished ssadik and sage, and he cries, "This is a great loss that can never be replaced! He had such immense wealth - and in such remarkable fashion he managed all his property! Oh, how he paid attention to every detail, so many profits did his businesses yield!" We can reasonably assume that the audience would not let him get much further. With loud objections they would drive this peculiar eulogizer from the podium. And for good reason: even if all this were true, his business was clearly a secondary and peripheral feature of his life, and even after his life. The main characteristic of his life was the Torah, missvot, good deeds, faith and devoted service to Hashem. This is what we must learn from a revered giant and implant within our hearts.
Given that, asks the Rambam zs"l, why did the Creator see fit to inform us in the sacred Torah that Avraham Avinu was "very rich in cattle, silver and gold" and that he owned cattle and sheep (Bereishit 13:2)? Will this information impact upon our attitude towards the "giant of giants" (Yehoshua 14:14) - a flaming servant of Hashem, who burned with love and fear? And why must we hear that Yisshak Avinu planted and "reaped a hundredfold" despite harsh agricultural conditions (see 26:12 and Rashi there)? Is this the Torah's praise for the pillar of "yirah"(fear of God), Yisshak Avinu? And Yaakov Avinu, the "perfect" one among the patriarchs, whose image is engraved upon the Heavenly Throne - is this what he is praised for: "The man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, maidservants and menservants, camels and donkeys" (in our parashah, 30:43)?
The Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:51) answers that to the contrary, herein lies the greatest praise and exalted stature of the sacred avot: "The three of them would carry the Heavenly Throne in their hearts, for they truly comprehended it" The Rambam writes that they were so attached to the Creator that even when they were involved in cattle, silver and gold, in planting, harvesting and shepherding, "they would perform their work with only their limbs; their hearts and minds never left Hashem. About this level it is said, 'The voice of my Beloved knocks'!"
But how, truthfully, does one reach such a level, where even during his physical and mundane activities he is attached to the Creator and places Hashem opposite him at all times? The Rambam provides an answer for this, as well: "Their ultimate intention in all their actions was to approach Hashem with great closeness; for their ultimate intention throughout their lives was to found a nation that would recognize Hashem and serve Him, as it says (Bereishit 18:19), 'For I have loved him, because he instructs his children and his posterity to keep the way of Hashem, to perform kindness and justice.' Therefore, these activities were great and total avodat Hashem." Eliyahu Hanavi has demanded of us to longingly declare, "When will my actions reach the actions of my forefathers, Avraham, Yisshak and Yaakov?" (Tanna D'Bei Eliyahu 25). According to the Rambam, this entails the elevation of our physical lives, our activities and work, to the status of avodat Hashem. We must say and repeat to ourselves: we are going out to work, but for what purpose? In order to receive a salary, to make money. And why do we need money? In order to support our families, and building a family is Hashem's will. By His will, I have been obligated by the ketubah to support my wife and build our home as a residence for the Shechinah. And I must raise generations loyal to Hashem and His Torah and educate my offspring according to our heritage of faith and missvot, adding a link in the golden chain of generations. If this is how we think and how we direct ourselves, then our work and toil will earn the status of "great and total avodat Hashem." We will thus receive great reward for all our work, as it facilitates the performance of missvot.
The Rambam there concludes his remarks with a certain novel theory that he arrived at regarding this issue - "A beautiful idea was revealed to me," he writes. This idea inspired the great sage! He writes that a person who is connected to his Creator earns special Providence at that moment, such that the Creator protects him from all harm. This is what it says in the pasuk, "I place Hashem before me at all times - He is at my right hand; I shall never be shaken" (Tehillim 16:8). It thus turns out that if a person works for a living in order to support a family in accordance with Hashem's will and to teach his children to serve Hashem, then he is attached to his Creator even while he works, and thus Hashem's blessing will be bestowed upon his work. Indeed, the Torah writes about Yossef, "Hashem was with Yossef, and he was a successful man."
Thus we have before us a clear road to follow in order to be blessed by Hashem in His great Name, just as our sacred patriarchs, Avraham, Yisshak and Yaakov, were blessed with everything.
"A ladder set on the ground, its top reaching the sky"
The Rambam zs"l (in Moreh Nevuchim 1:15) writes that this ladder alludes to the stages of growth of the prophets, as they would rise from the mundane reality of this world to pure spirituality, the divestment of physicality and revelation of the Shechinah. "Behold, the angels of God" - this refers to the souls of the prophets, who are called angels, as the pasuk says in reference to Mosheh Rabbenu, "He sent an angel who took us from Egypt" (Bemidbar 20:16). The prophet Hagai is similarly called "malach Hashem" (the angel of God). The prophets "ascended and descended on it," meaning, they ascend to acquire great, spiritual wisdom, and then they descend to teach others the path of Hashem.
How inspiring it is that the sacred Torah stresses the importance of the prophets' descent, just as it notes their ascent. In fact, their ascent to the heavens is meant specifically for the purpose of descending thereafter: "Did I grant you greatness for any reason other than [for the benefit of] Yisrael?!" If one studied a lot of Torah, he acquired knowledge and grew spiritually, he mustn't keep it for himself; he has received this knowledge in order to impart it to others!
"A ladder set on the ground, its top reaching the sky"
Rabbenu Behayei zs"l cites the comments of the great scholar, Ben Tibon zs"l, who said that this ladder symbolizes the various stages of human comprehension. Scientists and researchers may be classified into three groups. Some cross oceans and deserts to study the poles, they collect data, draw maps and gather information. These researchers are spread throughout the world doing their work. The second category consists of those who study material in depth. They closely analyze findings, conduct searches and follow-up explorations, carefully and precisely studying the information to reveal its innermost depths. These forms of study do not raise one's spiritual heights; they do not improve his character nor do they provide him eternal life. The best path is the third method - not to scatter about in all directions, and not to delve into the innermost depths, but rather to be a "ladder set on the ground, its top reaching the sky," as the pasuk states, "For an intelligent man the path of life leads upward" (Mishlei 15:24).
"A ladder set on the ground, its top reaching the sky"
Rabbenu Yaakov Ba'al Haturim zs"l notes that the word "sulam" (ladder) has the same numerical value as the word "kol" (voice). The voice of prayer sounded by Benei Yisrael are a ladder, on which the heavenly angels make their way up to appeal on our behalf before Hashem's Throne. Similarly, the angel ascended in the flame of fire arising from Gidon's sacrifice; our tefilot take the place of korbanot, and thus the angels ascend to the heavens through our prayers. They then descend down that ladder and in its merit, bringing salvation and redemption.
However, there is one condition for this ascent and descent of our prayers - that the ladder's rungs are all intact. If some of the rungs are missing, then nothing can ascend the ladder. To what do these "rungs" refer? Our "kavanah" (concentration during tefilah)!
"A ladder set on the ground, its top reaching the sky"
The Ran, in his "derashot" (5), understands the word "arssah" (on the ground) in this pasuk as a reference specifically to Eress Yisrael. The Creator thus informed him of the unique quality of this land, that through its spiritual nature the ssadikim, who are compared to angels, ascend to great heights of comprehension. They are not deterred by temporary "descents" and lapses - they instead gather strength to renew their efforts and ascend once again.
"A ladder set on the ground, its top reaching the sky"
The Mabit zs"l (in his work, "Bet Elokim,'' Sha'ar Hayesodot 56) writes that since sleep marks one-sixtieth of death (Berachot 57b), awaking from sleep constitutes renewed life of sorts, as the pasuk states, "Arise and sing, those who sleep in the dust." Yaakov saw in his sleep the souls departing their bodies and ascending the ladder to the upper world to enjoy the glory of the Shechinah in Gan Eden. But Gan Eden serves as just an interim station - the main thing is the descent when the time for the rejuvenation arrives, when the body and soul will together earn immense, eternal reward!
Rabbi Yaakov Hagiz zs"l
Rabbi Yaakov Hagiz zs"l, author of "Halachot Ketanot," was born in the year 5380 (1620) in Livorno, Italy, to a prominent family descending from the Spanish exiles. During his thirteenth year his father passed away, and he was his mother's only son. His father left his family a large fortune, allowing the widow to buy her son all he needed and provide him with anything he wanted. But she had planned for him a glorious future as a leading Torah scholar in accordance with his potential. She therefore limited their meals to minimum quantities in order to accustom the boy to a simple life and avoid the temptation of luxuries that threaten to move a person from the world of Torah to the dizzying world of competition and the endless pursuit of higher standards of living. When he emerged as a great rabbi, he thanked his mother for her wise decision.
His son, the renowned Maharam Hagiz zs"l, tells (in his work, Mishnat Hachamim, 370) that his father would award considerable prizes to the students in his yeshivah to encourage them to learn the entire Talmud - as well as the Rif, Rambam and Shulhan Aruch - by heart. He also tells (351) that he solicited funds from wealthy donors for prizes and scholarships for the children in the Torah elementary school so that they would review the material with greater zeal and take tests. He writes, "My father received reward for both doing and leading others to do - for the individual attention he gave teachers and students, granting them both bodily and spiritual delights." Rabbi Yaakov tells in his work several incidents of Divine providence that occurred during his lifetime. Once there was a butcher who did not wear tefillin. One day lightening struck a wooden wall, and a piece of wood fell and punctured his brain - at the precise spot where tefillin is worn - and he died! On another occasion, several Jews journeyed out to sea on a raft and one of them told how during his youth he had once slandered a woman, rendering her forbidden to her husband. At that very moment, the beam under him slipped from its place and he plunged into the water, leaving his wife an "agunah" - a "chained" woman who cannot marry (Korban Minhah, 344).
A Treasury of Halachot and Customs of the Festivals of Yisrael, Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
by Rav David Yossef shlit"a
The Missvah of Lighting Hannukah Candles
During the time of the second Bet Hamikdash, the Greek government issued decrees against Yisrael, rising against them to lead them to forget the missvot of the Torah and eliminate their religion. They did not permit them to involve themselves in Torah and missvot. They also entered the Sanctuary [of the Mikdash] and defiled it. Yisrael suffered great distress on their account until the Almighty had compassion on them and delivered them from their hands. The sons of the Hashmonaim, the kohanim gedolim, overcame them and killed them, saving Yisrael from their hands, and they appointed a king from among the kohanim. When the Hashmonaim overcame the Greeks, they entered the Mikdash and sought to light the sacred menorah. However, they could find only one jug of pure oil that contained enough oil to light the menorah for just a single day. But a miracle occurred and they lit from this jug for eight days, until they were able to press olives and manufacture pure oil from them. That day on which the jug of oil was discovered was the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev. The Sages of that generation therefore instituted that a festival of praise and joy be observed during these eight days, starting from the 25th of Kislev. We light candles each night during this period in order to publicize the miracle. These days are called Hannukah.
One must be very meticulous in the missvah of lighting Hannukah candles, as this missvah is very beloved, as it publicizes the miracle by thanking Hashem. Hazal say (Masechet Shabbat 23b) that one who fulfills this missvah properly merits sons who are Torah scholars, as it says (Mishlei 6:23), "For missvot are a candle, and Torah is light."
Even a poor person who lives off charitable donations must borrow or sell his clothing in order to purchase oil for lighting at least one candle each night. He must similarly hire himself out as a worker in order that he can purchase oil for lighting at least one candle each night. Those in charge of charities must therefore ensure that the poor are supplied with oil for the lighting of Hannukah candles, that they have at least enough for one candle every night.
Women are obligated in the lighting of Hannukah candles, for they, too, were included in the miracle. Therefore, if one cannot light the candles in his home, such as one who had to travel, he should preferably have his wife light the candles in his stead. He thereby fulfills his obligation even if he is not present at the time of the lighting. Even if he knows that he will return home late that night, he should preferably have his wife light candles at the proper time, right at "sset hakochavim" (nightfall), rather than waiting until he can light himself later at night. In such a situation, when the woman lights in her husband's stead, the husband does not light in his location. However, according to the custom of the Ashkenazim that each member of the household lights, if the husband is in a place where he has the ability to light, he should do so without a berachah and try to hear the berachot from someone else lighting. He may not, however, recite the berachah over lighting when his wife lights at home.
Limulus polyphemus, more commonly known as the horseshoe crab, is considered among the most interesting and remarkable creatures in the world. Despite the fact that this most fascinating creature is named after a one-eyed Greek hero, it actually sees the world with ten eyes. It has two outer, protruding eyes on the sides of its shell, two smaller eyes in the middle of the shell, another five light-receptive organs beneath the shell, and one more eye with which it navigates, and this eye is located on the tail. The outer eyes are quite large and allow the crab to see in all directions. It is sixty cm long, colored dark brown and features an impressive, smooth and arched shell. The shell's shape allows the horseshoe crab to push its way through sand and mud. The shell also protects the softer, lower body parts. As for legs, the Creator equipped the horseshoe crab with five pairs of legs, each of which contains pincers. Let's face it - if we would ask someone if he has ever seen a creature with ten eyes, one of which sits on its tail, as well as five pairs of legs and an arched shell, he would take it as some kind of joke. This description of a creature sounds like it's taken from some children's tale composed by an author with a wild imagination. Yet, the fact remains that such a creature actually exists. What does this tell us? It's one thing for someone never to have heard of or seen this strange creature called the horseshoe crab. But when dealing with the living Torah - this, already, is a different story entirely. Then the feeling of contentment and notion that "Me? I already know what Judaism is" can be very dangerous and cause one to forfeit his eternal life. This explains the wondrous phenomenon of many Jews who demonstrate genuine openness and return to their Father in heaven, knowing that there is still what to learn, it could very well be that they haven't learned everything - that the living Torah is deep and broad, and one can find answers to his questions.
A Match Made in Heaven (1)
In the city of Pinsk there was, for many generations, a well known yeshivah known "Yeshivat Tuvia Ve'Havah Devorah." Many generations of leading scholars basked in the glow of the local rabbis who served as well as the Roshei Yeshivah. Whenever they would inquire as to the peculiar name, they would be told this most remarkable story.
In the outskirts of the city of Pinsk, a suburb of the large city of Karlin, a river flowed through several fields and empty meadows. Across the river stretched the city of Kubrin. Among its residents was a Jewish widower named Nissan who sold honey for a living. He spread some one hundred and twenty hives in the green fields around the river. These fields were laminated with nectar-laden flowers that lent the honey its unique fragrance and taste for which it had become famous. The blessing was manifest as well in the considerable quantities of honey that the hives produced, bringing in a comfortable income. His son, Tuvia, helped him in his work. Tuvia loved the open expanse of the fields, the scent of the forestry and multicolored flowers. He relished the sight of the deep, blue sky and the coasting clouds, the flowing river and fish ponds. Most of all, his father taught him to appreciate the beauty of nature and praise its Creator, to be awed by Hashem's kindness and turn to Him both with feelings of gratitude and with prayers and supplications. The father was himself a very simple Jew, the simple Jew of foregone years. He knew only how to pray from a siddur and recite Tehillim, but it was for him like reading a passage from the Zohar Hakadosh - completely unintelligible. He understood only a word here and there, but he knew that his reading pleased the Creator of the world - and what can be greater than pleasing the Almighty to whom we owe so much? These were the concepts by which the father lived and which he transmitted to his son, Tuvia.
But when his only son reached his seventeenth year, the father took ill, and the illness gradually worsened. The doctor could no longer help, the patient did not respond to medication, and Nissan took leave of his dear son: "The bee is a fool," he whispered as the lesson of his life. "It works incessantly, produces sweet honey, and then a person comes and takes it away... Tuvia, my son, do not be like a bee."
Tuvia did not understand.
The father breathed heavily and struggled to explain: "A person toils his entire life and accumulates wealth, but he takes nothing with him when he leaves. Other people enjoy the fruits of his labor, just like it is with the bee... Only the charity one gives during his life is truly his... I never told you this until now; I kept this secret even from you, but throughout my life I donated one-fifth of my property to charity. I gave it to the rabbi of Pinsk to distribute to the poor. This money I take with me." The father's eyelids closed, and Tuvia was left orphaned from both his parents.
To be continued
Lavan chases after Yaakov Avinu, planning to kill him, as we recite in the Pesah Haggadah, "Pharaoh sought only to kill the males, but Lavan wished to eradicate everything." The Almighty appeared to him and issued a very stern warning. Yaakov, too, harshly admonishes Lavan, who then replies, "Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I, and it will serve as a testament between us."
Yaakov Avinu accepts the offer: "Yaakov took a stone and erected it as a monument. Yaakov said to his brethren, 'Gather stones and make a mound.' They took stones and made a mound... Lavan said to Yaakov, 'This mound is a witness, and the monument is a witness." Rashi explains that Yaakov's "brethren" were actually his own sons, who acted like brothers in that they came to his assistance during times of crisis and battle. We learn from here the true meaning of "brotherhood": it is not determined during times of joy or prosperity. As we know, a wealthy man has many friends. A true brother is one who helps out during the rough times, and even during times of war. The Ramban zs"l explains that "brethren" here refers to Lavan's brothers whom the Torah had mentioned earlier: "Lavan took his brothers with him and chased after Yaakov." The Maharal of Prague (in his work, "Gur Aryeh"), however, does not accept this view, because "it is not respectful for Yaakov to tell others to perform this labor" of collecting rocks. He therefore prefers Rashi's interpretation, that he issued this order to his own children, who were always prepared to help their esteemed father.
However, the Nessiv of Volozhin zs"l asks an insightful question. If collecting stones is considered demeaning labor that one should not order upon strangers, why does Yaakov have his children do it, rather than instructing his many servants (see end of chapter 30 and beginning of Parashat Vayishlah)? After all, this is precisely the servants' job, to help and exert themselves whenever they are called upon!
His answer is ever so poignant and instructive: Yaakov Avinu stands face-to-face with the chief trickster, Lavan, who spent twenty years trying to swindle him, his own flesh and blood, demonstrating the most brazen lack of appreciation. He "sold" his daughters as military captives, promised one and gave the other, he changed Yaakov's salary ten times - and in the end he chases after them to destroy his daughters and son-in-law - and even his own grandchildren! He is a lowly idolater, who has no qualms about confessing to his murderous plot, which was foiled only by a divine revelation and strict warning. Even at the end, he still has the gall to cry, "The daughters are my daughters, the sons are my sons, the sheep is my sheep - and everything you see is mine!" I recall when the Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Elazar Mann Shach zs"l would say in the name of the Hafess Hayyim zs"l with such fervor: Yaakov Avinu cries, "What is my crime and what is my sin that you have chased after me?" and this criminal replies, "I owe you an answer: everything is mine." And in his infinite kindness he offers a peace treaty... How would we have responded to such audacity? We would say, "You are but a diplomatic liar; your word is no word at all, you have shamelessly violated so many promises. This 'treaty' will require only my compliance, for I am an honest man. Why should I bind myself when your heart is full of innumerable tricks, pranks and evil plots?"
But Yaakov, however, is a man of peace who foregoes on that which was done to him. Lavan here disguises as a lover and pursuer of peace? Yaakov is prepared to outstretch his hand. He wants to open a new page? Yaakov is prepared to forget one hundred tricks. But not only that - he wants to implant this quality within his children. He doesn't ask his servants to collect stones, but rather his sons. He wants them to take part in the peacemaking, to exert themselves within this context, in order that they learn and follow his lead - not to seek revenge or harbor ill will, but rather to forgive and forget. Even when dealing with Lavan, even when he cannot be trusted, we are still prepared for peace and ready to exert ourselves towards that end.
A Summary of the Shiur Delivered on Mossa'ei Shabbat by Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
The Halachot of Havdalah on Mossa'ei Shabbat
The Rambam rules that the recitation of havdalah constitutes a Biblical requirement, but unfortunately there are many people who are not careful with regard to this obligation. Some hear havdalah in the Bet Kenesset but do not recite it on behalf of their families, despite the fact that women are included in this obligation. Therefore, even one who fulfills his obligation by hearing havdalah in the Bet Kenesset must repeat it for his family, though it is preferable for him to have in mind not to fulfill his obligation through the recitation in the Bet Kenesset.
The procedure for havdalah follows the acronym, "yavneh": "yayin" (wine), "besamim" (spices), "ner" (candle), and havdalah - the final berachah of "hamavdil... " This also follows the arrangement of one's face from bottom to top: the mouth - which tastes the wine, the nose - which smells the spices, the candle - which is seen and benefited from by the eyes, and finally havdalah, which requires the mental faculties of the brain to comprehend the concept of distinction and separation.
The Gemara (Shavuot 18b) writes that whoever recites havdalah over wine on Mossa'ei Shabbat merits having sons worthy of rendering rulings of halachah. This certainly applies as well to one who himself is a Torah scholar, that the merit of this missvah will help him arrive at proper conclusions in his learning. Therefore, one must be especially meticulous in his observance of the halachot of havdalah, including the recitation of "Atah honantanu" in arvit of Mossa'ei Shabbat.
As noted above, women are included in the obligation of havdalah, and indeed the practice has become widespread for women to recite or hear all the berachot of havdalah. Therefore, when Purim falls on Mossa'ei Shabbat, in which case the congregation must recite the berachah over fire before the reading of the Megilah, so as not to derive benefit from light before having said this berachah, women, too, must recite this berachah before hearing the Megilah. One who does not have wine for havdalah, or someone who cannot drink wine, may recite havdalah on any other intoxicating beverage. Under no circumstances, however, may one recite havdalah over other beverages that are not intoxicating. The same applies to kiddush.
If one forgot to recite "Atah honantanu" during arvit on Mossa'ei Shabbt and he knows that he will not have wine for havdalah that night or the following day, then he must repeat shemoneh esreih, as his recitation of "Atah honantanu" fulfills his obligation of havdalah. If he remembers his mistake after concluding the berachah of "Atah honen," he may add insert at that point and then continue with "Hashivenu." Generally, however, when one has wine for havdalah, he need not repeat shemoneh esreih if he forgets Atah honantanu. If he does not remember his mistake until after he concluded the berachah of "Atah honen" (even if he said only the words, "Baruch Atah Hashem" of the concluding berachah), he should not say it, as he relies on his havdalah over wine. However, even such an individual, who forgot "Atah honantanu" and will recite havdalah over wine, must repeat shemoneh esreih if he eats before reciting havdalah. Some authorities extend this provision to someone who performed work before havdalah. Although the halachah follows the first position, one who forgot "Atah honantanu" in arvit should preferably make a point not to engage in any form of work before reciting havdalah. If a woman forgot "Atah honantanu," then even if she ate before havdalah she need not repeat shemoneh esreih. Since she is not, strictly speaking, obligated in arvit anyway, in such a case we may rely on the lenient authorities who do not require the repetition of shemoneh esreih even in such situations. Some women have the custom based on Kabbalah not to drink wine from the havdalah cup. Since even with regard to kiddush those who hear kiddush do not, strictly speaking, have to drink wine from the cup away, it is preferable to follow this custom regarding havdalah. Needless to say, however, if a woman recited havdalah for herself, then she must drink the amount of the majority of a revi'it of wine from the havdalah cup.
One should not dilute the wine used for havdalah with water at all. If a revi'it of wine or more was poured into the cup and did not fill it, then rather than adding water one should add some kind of food item, such as sugar and the like. One may add water only when there is no alternative. By contrast, the kiddush cup should, according to Kabbalah, have three drops of water added to it.
If a gentile turned on a light on Shabbat for his own purposes - such as in the stairwell, a Jew may benefit from that light. If, however, the gentile turned on the light specifically on behalf of the Jew, the Jew must wait for it to extinguish, as he is not permitted to derive benefit from a melachah performed on his behalf. If, however, there was already a little bit of light in the room, and the gentile simply added more light, the Jew may derive benefit from the additional light.
Yosef Ben Hanom
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