Friday, June 8, 2018

Shelach. The Damage Caused by Lashon Hara

This is from Rabbi Moshe Dovid Berman, Laureate of the Kollel Hora'ah of America.
I think it is a wonderful insight!

Seeing the Good
R' Moshe Dovid Berman
The sin of the spies in this week’s Parsha is juxtaposed with the story of Miriam at the end of last weeks Parsha.  Rashi quotes from the Medrash that this is in order to highlight the fact that the spies didn’t learn from Miriam the severity of speaking Lashon Horah.  One may ask: What sin is there speaking Lashon Horah regarding a land?  A land is inanimate, has no feelings and cannot be hurt, so what is wrong with speaking negatively about it?  We could understand if the spies were punished for doubting Hashem’s ability to bring the Jewish people into Eretz Yisroel; but why were they punished for speaking evil about the land?

In truth one can ask the same regarding Miriam: When Miriam spoke Lashon Horah about Moshe, Moshe was not in any way harmed, nor did he feel slighted, as the Torah testifies והאיש משה עניו מכל אדם אשר על פני האדמה.  Yet she was still punished.  Perhaps we could infer from this that aside for the harm done to the one spoken about, there is the fact that one focused on negative aspects of someone else. Hashem wants us to look upon others benevolently, with an עין טובה.  When one speaks Lashon Horah one is highlighting the negative in someone else, and that is in itself a sin.  It is this concept which the spies should have learned from Miriam: not to focus on the bad, rather to look at everything with an עיין טובה.  When one looks at every thing with an עין טובה he will not speak evil even regarding inanimate objects.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Hard knots of spicy sweetness - honey, raisins, and ginger. Real Litvisheh Teiglach, not those decadent piles of soft, sticky, teiglach you see in the bakery.

If I had to relate this to the Parsha, I would talk about the mitzva of Challah on items that are boiled, not baked and have no water but do have honey (see note at end), or, for last week's parsha, the mahn being described as tzapichis bidvash. But mostly this is just because I'm proud we finally grasped the nettle and made them. And then we ate them.

Here are twelve recipes I found that are similar to ours. Ours is mostly like the ones from The Women's Guild of the Sydenham Shul. We used considerably more vodka than any of the recipes call for, both in the flour and the baker.

If the individuals whose recipes I placed here wish to assert their intellectual property rights, such as they may be, I encourage them to contact me.  Once contacted, I will immediately remove their recipe.


By Gwen Beinart

6 eggs
1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Tablespoon Brandy
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
½ teaspoon baking powder

Flour: 3 cups to start
Syrup: 2 lbs or 1 kilo tin golden syrup,
3 cups sugar, and 2 ½ cups water

1. Slightly beat 6 eggs with oil, add brandy, salt, orange rind and then baking powder.

2. Add 3 cups flour sifted (one at a time).

3. Take a little bit on a small heap of flour and work in flour until dough is soft, slightly sticky but pliable. Roll into shapes in floured hands.

4. Put into floured tray to dry – preferably in sun for approximately 20 minutes, s turning over after 10 minutes

5. In the meantime, put syrup, sugar and water on to boil in large heavy pot (or weighted lid).

6. When boiling fast add teiglach. Close lid and boil on high for 5 mins

7. Then turn down to medium/high (low to medium on gas) to boil for 30-35 mins (26 – 30 on gas) before lifting lid. (Very important to weigh down the lid!)

8. Wipe lid and stir in quick motion every 5 mins until done (an additional approximately 20-30 minutes, or six stirs). Total time on the stove is 1 hour 10 mins according to Mommy but on gas probably a total of 55 mins)

9. Special note for gas : after 1st 5 min fast boil move pot to medium size plate on medium gas for 30 mins. Then do the lid/wipe/stir @ 5 min interval either 5 or 6 times in total.

10. When done take off 1 ½ cups of syrup for next batch

11. Then put in 1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger andhalf to ¾ cup boiling water down the side of the pot.

12. Stir until bubbling stops and take out teiglach onto damp board or plate. Leave to cool.

13. Can roll in chopped nuts if desired.

14. Store in plastic air tight container.

15. If making further batch add ½ used syrup and ½ new to same other ingredients – usually better


BY Tina Wasserman

3 egg, beaten
3tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
2tbsp. water
1/2tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2cup all-purpose flour
1/4tsp. Kosher salt
1/4tsp. baking powder
1/4tsp. ground ginger
1lb. honey
1/2cup sugar
2tsp. orange zest
 rainbow sprinkles or nonpareil decorations (optional)
 nuts or candied cherries (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, oil, water and vanilla, and beat with a fork or whisk until light and well-combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, ginger, and baking powder. Add the egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir with a fork until well incorporated. Knead inside the bowl, using your hands, until the dough feels smooth and looks shiny. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, roll out small handfuls of dough into long, 1/2-inch wide ropes. Cut each rope into 1/3 inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into balls and place balls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20–22 minutes or until golden brown.
While the dough is baking, making the honey syrup: In a large, heavy, 3-quart saucepan, add the honey, sugar, ginger, and orange zest and slowly bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for exactly 10 minutes.
Add the teiglach balls to the honey mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the teiglach is well-coated. (If you want to add nuts or candied cherries, add them now.) Spoon into paper muffin or cupcake cups and sprinkle with nonpareils or colored sprinkles if you are using them.


By Rebecca Firkser

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups all purpose flour, 1½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of kosher salt. Beat in 3 eggs and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Use your hands to form the mixture into a sticky dough, then turn out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough until it just comes together, then form the dough into a long log. 

Cut the dough into 12 pieces, and roll each piece into a strip about 3 inches long, then pull each in half. Stretch those 24 strips out until they’ve doubled in length, then tie each into a knot (similar to garlic knots you may find in a pizza place), tucking the edges into the center as well.

Mix 2 cups honey with ½ cup granulated sugar, ⅓ cup water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and a 1-inch knob of peeled and grated fresh ginger in a large stock pot. Heat the mixture over low, whisking all the while to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. 

Drop the prepared dough knots into the boiling honey syrup and then reduce the heat to a high simmer. Cook the teiglach for 40-50 minutes, giving the mixture a stir every 10 minutes. After every 15 minutes or so, add ⅓ cup water to the pot.

For a crunchier pastry, raw teiglach balls can be fried in hot canola or grapeseed oil until golden brown or baked at 375ºF for 25-30 minutes minutes, and then simply dunked in the honey syrup.

Teiglach are finished when the dough is a deep golden brown, so depending on the heat of your honey syrup, they may require up to an hour of boiling to finish cooking completely.

While the teiglach are cooking, fill a shallow bowl with ½ cup sesame seeds ⅓ cup chopped toasted almonds, ⅓ cup chopped toasted walnuts, ¼ cup diced candied ginger, and ¼ cup chopped dried cherries. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper, then butter or grease the paper with cooking spray.

Fish the teiglach out of the pot with a slotted spoon and drop them a few at a time into the bowl with sesame seeds and almonds. Roll 3 teiglach at a time into the nuts and fruit mixture then place each mound onto the greased cookie sheet.

Use the leftover honey syrup in any place you’d use maple syrup: on pancakes or waffles, yogurt, or to sweeten drinks. It also makes a killer cocktail sweetener: try whisking it into a hot toddy, a bee’s knees, or an Old Fashioned.


From Gil Marks’ The World of Jewish Cooking


3 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
About 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour


1 cup honey
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, blanched almonds, or hazelnuts (optional)
1/3 to ½ cup minced candied fruit (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet or two small ones. Oil a large plate or second baking sheet.

To make the dough: Combine the eggs, baking powder, and salt. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft, workable dough. Place on a lightly floured surface and, using floured hands, knead until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.

Cut the dough into 1/3-inch thick strips and roll into ropes. Cut into 1/3-inch pieces and roll each piece into a ball. (The dough will still be a little sticky at this point but simply roll the dough in a little bit of flour. It is okay that the dough pieces are not smooth, as this will allow the honey to seep inside.)

Arrange the dough pieces in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet. Bake, until very lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.

To make the syrup: Stir the honey, sugar, and ginger in a large saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the dough pieces and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes. Add the nuts and fruit if desired, and cook until the syrup is a deep brown and the dough pieces sound hollow when tapped, about 10 additional minutes.

Pour the teiglach along with the syrup onto the oiled plate or baking sheet and let stand until cool enough to handle.

Using wet hands, shape into 2 to 3 inch mounds or shape into 1 large mound. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


by Katherine Romanow
My grandmother, who lived with us for around 10 years, in Bayside, Queens, made teiglach every Chanukkah for many years, and my Mother after her, for probably almost as many years. The ingredients in the Teiglach recipe I got from my Mom are almost identical to the one above by Katherine, but our preparation process is quite different: We always roll the dough out into 1/4 or 1/3 " ropes (rather than strips). These are chopped to about 5 - 6 " long / ea .... and are then tied into loose knots. I lay these dough knots out carefully on a broad, floured platter, while tying more of them, and bringing a large pot of the honey and ginger to a boil. Once most of the dough is tied into knots, I begin dropping them, 1 at a time, into the biggest bubble of the boiling honey syrup. Once all of the remaining dough knots have been tied and dropped into the boiling the dough knots, allow them to boil for around 20 minutes, until golden brown. Once done, can add around 1/2 C water for each 2 C's of honey, to thin down the syrup. Then cool in a casserole dish, and once cooled, cover and store, or serve. The Teiglachs will become more crunchy once they are completely cooled, and will continue getting more crunchy as the days pass, which is how I like them best. However, you may prefer them in the more tender phase just after cooling.

1 lb. honey
¾ cup water (plus more if needed)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 Tablespoons ginger
½ Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons oil
1 tsp baking powder
3½ cup flour (plus ½ cup or more for rolling dough)
¾ cup slivered almonds
½ cup whole glacéed cherries
½ cup sesame seeds
Line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and oil lightly. Set aside.
In a large, heavy pot (at least 6-quart capacity*) mix together the honey, water, lemon juice, and sugar. Heat to boiling.
* (This pot size may seem too large; however, the syrup would overflow a smaller pot later in the recipe.)
While the honey syrup is heating, beat together the eggs, oil, ginger, and salt until blended. Sift together the baking powder and 3½ cups flour. Add to the egg mixture to form a sticky dough.
Cut into 8 pieces. Dust each piece with flour and roll between your hands until it forms a “snake” about ¾ inch in diameter. Slice each snake into about 10 slices, ¾ inch thick.
Add to the boiling syrup and simmer slowly for about an hour. It is important to cook the dough for the full time.
At the end of the first half hour, the teiglach will be an attractive golden color , but they will not be hard and crisp. Further cooking will improve their texture and make them a beautiful dark mahogany color.
Stir gently every 10 minutes or so during the cooking period. If the liquid seems close to evaporating, add more water, about 1/3 cup at a time. Ten minutes before the end of the hour, add the almonds and cherries. Stir frequently until done, to make sure that the syrup doesn’t burn.
When the cooking is complete, remove pan from heat. Immediately place the teiglach, almonds, and cherries on the oiled pans, keeping as much of the leftover syrup as possible on the pot.
Separate the teiglach so that they don’t stick together.
Stir the sesame seeds into the leftover syrup, adjusting the quantity to the amount of syrup that remains, if necessary. When the sesame-syrup mass cools enough to be handled, form it into spheres the size of gumballs.
Work quickly but carefully: the syrup is extremely hot at first, but will become too hard to shape as it cools. Form the teiglach into pyramids–one large or several small–and decorate with the cherries, sesame balls, and slivered almonds.
Note: Teiglach keep very well and make an excellent gift. If it is necessary to cover them, use lightly oiled aluminum foil. Some cooks roll the finished teiglach in finely chopped nuts or coconut, which makes them less sticky. Others form the teiglach dough into shapes, such as spheres or knots. They can be stuffed with bits of nut or dried fruit before they are cooked.


Also by Tina Wasserman
(but these are the pyramid kind.)
Growing up on Long Island meant that before the High Holidays almost every bakery had a sign in its window that implored people to place their challah and Teiglach  orders early. In Dallas it was a little known treat but I taught how to make it every chance I got.  You will enjoy sitting around the table and picking the sticky balls off their pyramid.  Here’s to a sweet year!

3 eggs

3 tablespoons oil

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 Tablespoons water

2 1/2 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1/4-teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pound wildflower honey (any honey is O.K. but wildflower is the best)

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon ginger

1 piece of orange zest 2″ long 1/2 inch wide

1 cup toasted hazelnuts

1/2 cup candied cherries or raisins


Preheat the oven to 375F.
In a small bowl combine the eggs, oil, water, and vanilla and beat with a fork or whisk until light and combined.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, ginger, and baking powder.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until well combined.  Knead with your hands for a few minutes until dough is smooth and shiny.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
Roll out small balls of dough into long 1/2-inch wide snakes and cut into 1/3 inch pieces.  Roll dough pieces briefly in your hands to make balls and place them on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely or freeze until later use.
When you are ready to complete recipe, combine the honey, sugar, orange zest and ginger in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and bring slowly to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the teiglach balls, nuts and cherries or raisins to the honey mixture and stir to coat well.  Place in a pie plate or individual tart tins mounded to form a pyramid.


Rene Price got this recipe from her mom’s best friend, Sylvia, who Rene referred to as “Aunty Sylvia.” The recipe calls for 4 pounds of syrup, a syrup that Rene remembers being different than honey. A good substitute might be cane sugar syrup, which can be found at Global Foods Market or Whole Foods.  

·      6 eggs
·      1 tsp ginger
·      1 tsp sugar
·      1 egg cup oil
·      Flour - about 3 cups (Flour needed depends on egg shell size, and the amount of oil it measures. Dough must be a sticky consistency.)

1.     Roll pieces of dough and then shape into round doughnut shapes with a hole in middle.
2.     While you are working the dough, please keep bowl of dough covered with a wet cloth. You want to keep dough moist.
3.     Place doughnut shaped teiglach on floured baking tray and when dough is complete place tray in 150-degree oven to dry outside of dough.
4.     Leave in oven 2 to 3 hours. You want the outside to be dry and the inside will be moist. You are not cooking the teiglach.

·      4lbs syrup
·      1tsp ginger
·      1 cup sugar
·      2 cups boiling water

1.     Heat syrup mixture in very wide pan across multiple burners of stove.
2.     Bring syrup  to boil.
3.     Add teiglach to syrup.
4.     It will cook fast.
5.     When they are ready switch off stove and add 2 cups boiling water to boiling syrup pan.
6.     Take teiglach out and put on a damp board. 
7.     Sprinkle with sugar, small quantities at a time.
8.     The boiling process should take about 1 hour.

Important tip: When you think the teiglach look ready, leave it for a few more minutes, then add the water.


By Rachelle Urist of Ann Arbor, Michigan 



1 cup sugar
1 cup honey

2 cups flour
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil (Grapeseed oil is good for this.)

raisins and nuts

Mix dough ingredients to make a soft dough just stiff enough to handle. Divide dough into several parts and roll each into a long rope about ½ inch in diameter. Cut into ½ inch pieces. Bring honey and sugar to a rolling boil in a deep kettle. Drop pieces of dough in, a few at a time, to prevent lowering of temperature. Cover and simmer ½ hour, shaking pan occasionally to prevent sticking. When top layer has browned, turn gently with a wooden spoon to bring bottom ones to top. Cook until all are golden brown and sound hollow when stirred. Add raisins and nuts. To test, break open a teigel, and if inside is crisp and dry, remove from heat. Add ½ cup boiling water and stir just before turning off heat. Let cool slightly. Remove teiglach with a perforated spoon, and heap in bowls. Pour some of the syrup over the teiglach. Serve. Eat.


Once you get the hang of it, it’s nice to double the recipe. Then you get lots of bowls of it, and you can give some as gifts.
1/4 tsp ginger is optional. I don’t happen to use ginger in this recipe, because the honey gives it enough bite for me.
The proportions of honey and sugar can vary. It can get expensive using lots of honey, and it tastes just fine using more sugar – so long as there’s SOME honey, and so long as there’s enough water added at the end to turn the sugar (and honey) into syrup. The cookbooks never mention adding hot water. If you don’t add hot water, the results will be that the cooled honey/sugar mixture and the honey-coated teiglach will be hard as rocks and inedible.
Any kind of nut works. Filberts, Hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds – whatever you like. You can also add bits of dried apricot. Or you can use a combination of dark and light raisins.


By Lynne Jacobson


Dough Ingredients:

6 large eggs, minus 1 white 
1 Tbsp. corn oil 
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1/8 tsp. vanilla 
1/8 tsp. ground ginger 
pinch of salt 
3 cups all-purpose flour

Syrup Ingredients:

2 cups water 
3 cups Lyle's Golden Syrup, a South African sweetener that can be ordered on, or substitute with honey 
2 cups granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add the remaining dough ingredients. Beat until a soft dough forms.

Take a small amount of dough and roll it in your palms, forming a ball 1/4-inch in diameter. Continue until no dough remains. (If the dough is sticky, moisten hands with water.) Place teiglach balls on a platter and reserve.

To Prepare Syrup: Place all syrup preparation ingredients into a large, deep pot. Stir to blend. Cover the pot; bring it a low boil. Remove the pot from the flame. One by one, carefully slide each teiglach ball into the syrup. Give the pot a quick stir and then cover it. Return to the flame and bring to low boil. Do not uncover the pot for 20 minutes. Watch the pot almost continuously to avoid a spillover. Should the syrup rise more than halfway up the pot, lower the flame immediately.

Open pot and stir the contents. Teiglach should be brown. If not, simmer a few minutes more. Remove from flame; cool to room temperature. Serve immediately or place in an airtight container.

Makes about 100 teiglach.

X, XI, and XII

Thank you to Adinah Oschry of Yerushalayim for sending me the Women's Guild Recipe Book from the Sydenham Shul in Johannesburg. It dates from the early seventies, when her father, Rabbi Leonard Oschry, was the Rabbi in that shul, and her mother, the saintly Rebben Oshry, encouraged the ladies to take part in shul activities.
Unfortunately, we have no record of Rebben Oshry's heavenly oatmeal cookies.
Sydenham Highlands - North Recipe Book


This recipe is from the book A Taste of Israel: From Classic Litvak to modern Israeli by Nida Degutienė, published in 2015 by Struik Lifestyle. For more information on the book, click here.

6 eggs
4 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons vodka
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
4½ cups cake flour (or more if the dough is very soft)
2 cups water
2 cups runny honey
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts) and desiccated coconut, or sesame seeds or poppy seeds
In a bowl, beat the eggs together with the oil, vodka, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the baking powder and flour, then mix well. Add the flour mixture, bit by bit, to the egg mixture, mixing all the while. The resulting dough should be soft but not sticky. Divide the dough into three pieces. Coat your hands in flour and roll each piece into a long rope. Shape the ropes into whatever shape you like for the teiglach:Some roll the dough out in thin cylinders and slice them into 2cm-long gnocchi-shaped chunks; others shape their teiglach into little knots – they roll the dough out into even thinner cylinders, slice them into 3- to 4cm-long strips and then tie the strips into little knots.

For the syrup, combine all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to the boil. When it begins to bubble, carefully place the teiglach, one by one, into the pot. Reduce the heat and cover with a tightly fitting lid. Without removing the lid, boil for 40 to 45 minutes, then stir. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the pastries are a dark, reddish shade. This is the true teiglach colour. During the boiling, be careful not to burn the honey syrup. If it seems too thick, add a little water.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the boiled teiglach from the honey syrup and place on the prepared tray. Make sure the pastries do not touch one another or else they will stick together. If you like, pour the remaining honey syrup over the teiglach. Sprinkle with nuts and coconut, or sesame or poppy seeds, and leave to dry for at least 1 hour. They will never fully dry out and are meant to be enjoyed sticky.

Halacha note:
Kneadable dough that is boiled: We pasken it is not chayav Challah but are machmir like Rabbeinu Tam, so we take without a bracha. As for fruit juice but no water in the dough, see Aruch Hashulchan 329:1, that the Mishna says chayav, the Rosh etc say we don't seem to pasken like the mishna so take without a bracha, the Rashba that we do pasken like the mishna so do make a bracha, and the Aruch Hashulchan that says that even if you don't take on flour plus fruit juice, you would make a bracha when it's of the seven mashkim including honey, and Reb Moshe that says in the name of the Beis Hillel in YD there that even then you should not make a bracha.
What bracha? Generally, cooked dough is mezonos, but only because it's not to'ar lechem / turisa d'nahama. But waffles and doughnuts are turisa d'nahama, and probably so are teiglach. See OC 168:3 and 13. So even though the psak is mezonos even if you are kovei'a, it's better to make a mezonos and then hamotzi on a piece of bread. To reverse is problematic because that kind of snackey thing would need its own bracha during a seuda.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Shlach, Bamidbar 15:41. Tzitzis and Marital Sanctity

In the end of Parshas Shlach the Sifri brings the story of the famous courtesan.

Sifri 115:2
רבי נתן אומר אין כל מצוה ומצוה שאין מתן שכרה בצדה צא ולמד ממצות ציצית מעשה באדם אחד שהיה זהיר במצוות ציצית שמע שיש זונה בכרכי הים מיתה נוטלת ד' מאות זהובים בשכרה שיגר לה שבע מאות זוזים וקבעה לו זמן כיון שהגיע זמנו בא וישב לו על פתח ביתה נכנסה שפחתה ואמרה לה אותו האיש שקבעת לו זמן הרי הוא יושב על פתח הבית אמרה לה יכנס כיון שנכנס הציעה לו שבע מטות (אחת) [שש] של כסף ואחת של זהב והיא היתה בעליונה. ובין כל אחת ואחת (ספסלים) [סולם] של כסף ועליון של זהב. כיון שהגיע לאותו מעשה באו ארבע ציציותיו וטפחו לו על פניו נדמו לו כארבעה אנשים מיד נשמט וישב לו על גבי קרקע אף היא נשמטה וישבה על גבי קרקע אמרה לו גפה של רומי איני (מניחתך) [מניחך] עד שתאמר מה [מום] ראית בי אמר לה העבודה לא ראיתי בך מום שאיו כיופיך בכל העולם אלא מצוה (קלה) [אחת] צונו ה' אלהינו וכתוב בה אני ה' אלהיכם אני ה' אלהיכם ב' פעמים. אני ה' אלהיכם אני עתיד לשלם שכר. אני ה' אלהיכם עתיד ליפרע . אמרה לו העבודה איני מניחתך עד שתכתוב לי שמך ושם עירך ושם מדרשך שאתה למד בו תורה וכתב לה שמו ושם עירו ושם רבו ושם מדרשו שלמד בו תורה עמדה ובזבזה את כל ממונה שליש למלכות שליש לעניים ושליש נטלה עמה [חוץ מאותן מצעות] ובאת ועמדה בבית מדרשו של (ר' חייא) [ר' מאיר] אמרה לו רבי גיירני אמר לה ושמא עיניך נתת באחד מן התלמידים הוציאה לו כתב שבידה אמר (לו) [לה] זכי במקחך אותן המצעות שהציעה (לך) [לו] באיסור (תציע לך) [הציעה לו] בהיתר זה מתן שכרה בעולם הזה ובעולם הבא איני יודע כמה:

Essentially the same in Menachos 44a
מעשה באדם אחד שהיה זהיר במצות ציצית שמע שיש זונה בכרכי הים שנוטלת ד' מאות זהובים בשכרה שיגר לה ארבע מאות זהובים וקבע לה זמן כשהגיע זמנו בא וישב על הפתח נכנסה שפחתה ואמרה לה אותו אדם ששיגר ליך ד' מאות זהובים בא וישב על הפתח אמרה היא יכנס נכנס הציעה לו ז' מטות שש של כסף ואחת של זהב ובין כל אחת ואחת סולם של כסף ועליונה של זהב עלתה וישבה על גבי עליונה כשהיא ערומה ואף הוא עלה לישב ערום כנגדה באו ד' ציציותיו וטפחו לו על פניו נשמט וישב לו ע"ג קרקע ואף היא נשמטה וישבה ע"ג קרקע אמרה לו גפה של רומי שאיני מניחתך עד שתאמר לי מה מום ראית בי אמר לה העבודה שלא ראיתי אשה יפה כמותך אלא מצוה אחת ציונו ה' אלהינו וציצית שמה וכתיב בה (במדבר טו, מא) אני ה' אלהיכם שתי פעמים אני הוא שעתיד ליפרע ואני הוא שעתיד לשלם שכר עכשיו נדמו עלי כד' עדים אמרה לו איני מניחך עד שתאמר לי מה שמך ומה שם עירך ומה שם רבך ומה שם מדרשך שאתה למד בו תורה כתב ונתן בידה עמדה וחילקה כל נכסיה שליש למלכות ושליש לעניים ושליש נטלה בידה חוץ מאותן מצעות ובאת לבית מדרשו של ר' חייא אמרה לו רבי צוה עלי ויעשוני גיורת אמר לה בתי שמא עיניך נתת באחד מן התלמידים הוציאה כתב מידה ונתנה לו אמר לה לכי זכי במקחך אותן מצעות שהציעה לו באיסור הציעה לו בהיתר זה מתן שכרו בעה"ז ולעה"ב איני יודע כמה

Note that the Tzitzis didn't merely warn him about the sin he was about to commit, it reminded him of the two ends of the spectrum.
אני ה' אלהיכם אני ה' אלהיכם ב' פעמים. אני ה' אלהיכם אני עתיד לשלם שכר. אני ה' אלהיכם עתיד ליפרע.
It would seem that the message that mattered at that moment would have been the warning. The idea that good deeds bring schar was not really what mattered at the moment!   Evidently, the Gemara wanted to make the point that one act has within itself two entirely opposite potentials. The very same act might be the reason for schar or it might be the reason for onesh.
Chazal do use this method of contrast to instruct in several places, such as Reb Yochanan in Nazir 23a and several other places,
אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר רבי יוחנן מאי דכתיב (הושע יד, י) כי ישרים דרכי ה' וצדיקים ילכו בם ופושעים יכשלו בם משל לשני בני אדם שצלו פסחיהם אחד אכלו לשום מצוה ואחד אכלו לשום אכילה גסה זה שאכלו לשום מצוה צדיקים ילכו בם זה שאכלו לשום אכילה גסה ופושעים יכשלו בם
לוט ושתי בנותיו עמו: הן שנתכוונו לשם מצוה, וצדיקים ילכו בם. הוא שנתכוין לשם עבירה, ופושעים יכשלו בם.

The Malbim in Rus 3:9 points out that when Rus made her proposition to Boaz, she used the metaphor of "the corners of your garment" to make this very point to him.
ויאמר מי את ותאמר אנכי רות אמתך ופרשת כנפך על אמתך כי גאל אתה
Rashi says that this was a refined way to propose that he marry her.
וּפְָרַשְׂתָּ כְנָפֶךָ. כְּנַף בִּגְדְּךָ לְכַסּוֹתִי בְטַלִּיתְךָ וְהוּא לְשׁוֹן נִשּׂוּאִין:
The Malbim adds that it was a reference to Tzitzis. By mentioning Tzitzis, Rus was making the point that the relationship she was proposing would embody holiness.
ותאמר אנכי רות אמתך, ר"ל בל תחשוב זאת לפריצות אם נקבה תסובב גבר כי אני אמתך, שכמו שיש קשר בין האמה העבריה ובין האדון שמחויב ליעדה כן יש קשר ביני ובינך מצד מצות יבום וע"כ ופרשת כנפך על אמתך, היא מליצה נלקחה מן העופות שפורשים כנפיהם על בני זוגם בעת הזווג. וגם רמזה שאין זה ביאה שלא כמצות התורה שכנפי הבגד שיש בהם ציצית מצילים מביאה זו כמעשה המוזכר בספרי סוף שלח בזונה שהיתה בכרכי הים שהיתה נוטלת ד' מאות זוזי בשכרה, כי בהפך בביאה זו תפרוש עלי כנפי בגדיך כי היא ביאת מצוה כי גואל אתה:

So you see Chazal's point in making the contrast. Tzitzis represent the potential for both the uplifting spirituality and the degrading animalism of sexual congress. In the case of Rus and Boaz, it was used as a symbol of sanctity. In the case of that person with the zonah, it reminded him that he wasn't just being bad, he was abusing something that ought to have tremendous kedusha. Ultimately, he was able to experience the relationship with her in a matzav of kedusha and tahara instead of degrading hefkeirus and tumah.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Behaaloscha, Bamidbar 12:15. Honoring Miriam

Rashi brings the Mishna in Sotah that Miriam was shown great honor.

מרים המתינה למשה שעה אחת שנאמר (שמות ב, ד) ותתצב אחותו מרחוק לפיכך נתעכבו לה ישראל ז' ימים במדבר שנאמר (במדבר יב, טו) והעם לא נסע עד האסף מרים

Reb Moshe, in the Darash asks, why is it that this honor, this singular public demonstration of the gratitude and love Klal Yisrael had for Miriam, was bestowed in this low point in her life? Would it not have been better if this sort of demonstration would have taken place at a good time?

Reb Moshe answers that the Torah teaches us that davka when Miriam was being punished, she became a Metzora'as for her Lashon Hara against Moshe Rabbeinu, do we need to realize that she was still the great Miriam, and that her sin and punishment do not diminish the degree of respect and hakaras hatov we have to her.

Darash Moshe:
והעם לא נסע עד האסף מרים [יב טו] תמוה לכאורה מה שהשי"ת הראה הכבוד למרים בעת צרעתה שבא על ידי החטא שלה, וכי אם לא חטאה לא היה חולק לה כבוד שרוצה  לחלוק לה.     אבל נראה שהוא להודיע שכל כך חביבה היא לפני השי"ת שגם בעת חטאה הוא אוהבה ביותר מצד מעשיה הטובים ואף אז רוצה לכבדה וליתן לה שכר. וזהו אולי גם מה שנאמר בשאול שתבע העונש וגם השכר כדאיתא ביבמות [עח ב] מקרא דאשר משפטו פעלו, באשר משפטו שם פעלו, ובאשר שהוא ענין גדול ניתן לד הכבוד עתה.

That Gemara in Yevamos:
ויבקש דוד את פני ה' מאי היא אמר ריש לקיש ששאל באורים ותומים מאי משמע א"ר אלעזר אתיא פני פני כתיב הכא ויבקש דוד את פני ה' וכתיב התם (במדבר כז, כא) ושאל לו במשפט האורים לפני ה' ויאמר ה' אל שאול ואל בית הדמים על אשר המית הגבעונים אל שאול שלא נספד כהלכה ואל בית הדמים על אשר המית הגבעונים וכי היכן מצינו בשאול שהמית הגבעונים אלא מתוך שהרג נוב עיר הכהנים שהיו מספיקין להם מים ומזון מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו הרגן קא תבע אל שאול שלא נספד כהלכה וקא תבע על אשר המית הגבעונים אין דאמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב (צפניה ב, ג) בקשו את ה' כל ענוי ארץ אשר משפטו פעלו באשר משפטו שם פעלו 

We offer another simple and true mussar haskeil. It is human nature to not appreciate things until we are about to lose them. Davka when we were so close to losing Miriam were we able to realize how much we owed her, how great she was, and how much she meant to us.  Same with Moshe Rabbeinu. When he was alive and healthy, עוד מעט וסקלוני. When we were about to lose him, we said we would not let the Ribono shel Olam take him from us.  (This is not a criticism, it is just a fact. I don't even know if it's kedai to try to overcome it. Samei'ach b'chelko is wonderful, but to realize how many things we ought to be endlessly grateful for might be a problem. There's just so much to be grateful for - vision, hearing, mobility, the ability to breath easily, having food to eat, people that care if you live or die even when you don't - it would be either paralyzing or it would suppress any desire to improve our lives.)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Shelach, Bamidbar 15:38. Tzitzis and Tulips

In Targum Onkelos, the word "Tzitzis" is translated "Kruspedin."
במדבר טו, לח - 
דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת עַל כַּנְפֵי בִגְדֵיהֶם לְדֹרֹתָם וְנָתְנוּ עַל צִיצִת הַכָּנָף פְּתִיל תְּכֵלֶת 
אונקלוס - 
מַלֵל עִם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְתֵימַר לְהוֹן וְיַעֲבְּדוּן לְהוֹן כְּרוּסְפְּדִין עַל כַּנְפֵי כְסוּתְהוֹן לְדָרֵיהוֹן וְיִתְּנוּן עַל כְּרוּסְפְּדָא דְכַנְפָא חוּטָא דִתְכֶלְתָּא 

Strange word. There's an Amora Rav Kruspeda'i, brought in RH 16b,
אמר רבי כרוספדאי אמר רבי יוחנן: שלשה ספרים נפתחין בראש השנה
who is brought in the Yerushalmi there (1:3) as רבי קריספא. Who knows? Maybe he was an ancestor of Rav Scheinberg zatzal. 

In Latin, Crispa means curly, not exactly how it's used in Onkelos, but the Targum is Aramis, not Latin, and the meaning is close enough. But today, May 31 2018, I got my annual John Scheepers flower bulb catalogue - and it's used there exactly as Onkelos used it!

(On a side note, I've grown them, and they are even more beautiful in real life than they are in the pictures. Cummins is amazing.)

I have since learned that the use of the term is not unusual in botanical nomenclature. Another example is Hibiscus schizopetalus, which is also called Hibisco-crespo. But again, in those cases, it simply means curly or serrated. 

When I first posted this, someone sent in a link to a website that mentioned a family called Kruspedin in the sixteen hundreds. I checked further and learned that the family apparently existed as recently as 1885. 
בנו של ר' זאב וואלף הוא ר' אברהם ישראל איינהורן, זוגתו מרת פרומע חיה בת ר' מנחם ישראל כרוספדין, נפטרה י"ד ניסן תרמ"ו. ר' אברהם ישראל גם הוא מכר את כתב ידו של אביו לאלמנה והאחים ראם, והזכירו זאת בראש המדרש רבה שלהם. והוא גם הביא לדפוס את הספר מעייני יהושע, מהרב הגאון המאור הגדול הצדיק המפורסם מו"ה יהושע העשיל כץ הנקרא בפי כל ר' העשיל ריינעס [תלמיד חבר לר' אלכסנדר זיסקינד בעל יסוד ושורש העבודה] , והוא פרוש ובאור על ספר שנות אליהו למשניות זרעים שחברו הגאון מוילנא. וילנא תרמח. בהסכמות לספר מאריכים רבני וילנא והוראדנא בשבחו. בספר יש גם רשימה ארוכה של פרענומעראנטן, בהם רבים מבני משפחתו.

I also found out that the Septuagint uses the same word. 

I also found that the disciples of Yeshu שם רשעים ירקב use the term as well. In one of their stories, the ignorant, hearing that he can perform miracles, crowd around him and try to touch the tzitzis/kraspedou on Yoshkeh's begged. Here it is in context:

the fringe 
κρασπέδου - kraspedou 
a border, tassel (of uncertain origin)

of His cloak 
ἱματίου - imatiou 
an outer garment, a cloak, robe dim. form of heima (a garment)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Aharon and Miriam's Mistake

Reb Elchonon asks: The Rambam says that one of the 13 ikrim is to know that Moshe's darga of nevu'ah is higher than all other nevi'im. If so, besides the lashon hara issue, why weren't Aharon and Miriam guilty of kefira in one of the ikrim, which, as Reb Chaim says, nebach and apikorus is also an apikorus?
He answers that it was only after Hashem chastised them and explained why they were wrong that we learn that Moshe was greater than them or then any other navi in the future.
But he asks, if so, what was the lashon hara?
He answers that their error was judging Moshe by their standards. He was in fact far greater than they were, and their criticism, which was based on an assumption of parity, demonstrated and proclaimed a diminishment of what he actually was.

This answers a question that bothered me for forty five years. We all know the Tosfos in Shabbos 87a:
ואתה פה עמוד עמדי - וא"ת מנלן דפירש משה מדעתו קודם ושוב הסכים הקב"ה על ידו שמא זה הוא צווי גמור שצוה לו לפרוש ותירץ ר"ת דאם איתא דמחמת צווי הקב"ה פירש ולא מדעתו היאך היה מערער אהרן ומרים דכתיב ותדבר מרים ואהרן במשה אלא ודאי מתחלה פירש ממנה לגמרי משה מדעתו ואע"ג דהסכים הקב"ה על ידו מ"מ נתרעמו עליו לפי שאילו לא פירש מדעתו לא היה הקב"ה מסכים דבדרך שאדם הולך בה מוליכין אותו שהרי לאהרן ומרים לא אמר לפרוש אע"ג שגם עמהם היה מדבר ומיהו קשה דמשמע במדרש שלא ידעו זמן גדול שפירש ממנה גבי אלדד ומידד שהיו מתנבאים שאמרה מרים אשרי נשותיהן של אלו שנתמנו בעליהן פרנסין על הציבור אמרה צפורה אוי להם לנשותיהם של אלו שמיום שנתייחדה שכינה עם אחיך פירש ממני מיד ותדבר מרים ואהרן במשה משמע שלא ידעו קודם לכן וכי לא ידעו הא דכתיב ואתה פה עמוד עמדי ואור"ת דודאי ידעו אבל היו סבורין שפירש ע"פ הדבור עד שאמרה להם צפורה שמדעתו פירש ממנה מתחלה:
that even though everyone knew that Hashem agreed with Moshe's prishus and commanded him to maintain it, Miriam and Aharon assumed that the tzivui was only pursuant to and a result of Moshe's initiative, and they criticized that initiative.

So it bothered me, what was Korach's great sin? If Aharon and Miriam thought that some tzivuyim given were a result of Moshe's desire, why couldn't Korach think so? and what was the big sin in the first place? The answer, as Reb Elchonon says, was that Aharon and Miriam viewed Moshe in the context of their madreiga of kedusha, and as such, they felt that his initial voluntary prishus was unnecessary and unfair to his wife. They were told that they could not judge him by their perception of what was necessary or appropriate.

Once Hashem taught this lesson, the whole בדרך שאדם הולך בה מוליכין אותו pshat was thrown out the window, and Korach's attack was an attack against the whole gilui of Har Sinai.

Here's the Reb Elchonon, almost the end of his דוגמאות לביאורי אגדות על דרך הפשט

רמב״ם סוף הל' טומאת צרעת בענין לשה"ר ומה מרים שלא דיברה בגנות אחיה אלא שהשוותה אותו לשאר הנביאים וכו' ק"ו וכו' עיי"ש ומקורו בספרי והנה בעיקרי הדת שמנה הרמב"ם בפיה"מ (פ' חלק) מנה שם עיקר אחד שכל דברי נביאים אמת ועוד עיקר אחר שנבואת מרע"ה היתה למעלה מנבואת כל הנביאים ולפי"ז האומר כי נבואת מרע"ה שוה לנבואת כל הנביאים ה"ז כופר באחד מעיקרי הדת ודינו כמומר לכל התורה ואין לו חלק לעוה"ב וקשה איך אפשר ללמוד בק"ו ממרים לענין איסור לשה"ר שהמספרו לא יצא מכלל ישראל וגם איך אפשר לומר על מרים הנביאה שיצתה מכלל ישראל ח"ו וי"ל שהעיקר הזה למדנו מפרשת מרים שאמר להן הקב"ה לא כן עבדי משה פא"פ אדבר בו במראה ולא בחידות וגו' אבל בשעה שדיברה מרים עדיין לא נאמרה הפרשה ההיא ולא נודע עדיין העיקר הזה ודיבורה אז לא היה בו כפירה בעיקר מעיקרי הדת אלא לשה"ר שמיעטה מדרגת מרע״ה מכפי שהיה באמת אבל עכשיו אם יאמר אדם כמו מרים שנבואת מרע"ה איננה גדולה מנבואת שאר הנביאי ה״ז כופר באחד מעיקרי הדת

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Shavu'os 5778/2018

Rav Moshe in the Kol Rom points out two unique characteristics of the avoda of Shavuos, singularities among Korbanos Tzibbur.  Harav Mordechai Eisenberg and I combined his two explanations to highlight an additional lesson.
One unique avoda is the hakrava of not one but two Se'irei Izim see Rashi Vayikra 23:19), in contradistinction with every other Moed. The other is the use of Chametz in a Korban Minchas Tzibbur, the Shtei Halechem.

The Gemara in Zvachim 6b explains that the Sa'ir is always used to for Kappara for tumas mikdash v'kadashav. The reason we have two here is to remind us that we really ought to bring this kappara every moment, but the Torah had pity on us. But why, he asks, is this lesson taught davka on Shavu'os?
He answers that with Mattan Torah, Klal Yisrael became a Mikdash and they became Kodoshim. In order to properly receive the Torah, they needed to be mekadesh themselves. (We added that after they received the Torah, they were seen as examples of what the Torah does to a person.) Just as Mikdash v'kadashav require total focus and care, and the slightest hesech hada'as needs kapara, so too Klal Yisrael, to be worthy of the Torah and as representatives of the Torah, the slightest hesech hada'as is like tumas mikdash v'kadashav. This is why on Shavuos we have two se'irim. One if to be mechaper for failings in shmiras Mikdash, and the second one is to remind us that if we are not constantly vigilant, our hesech hada'as is also tumas mikdash v'kadashav.

The Korban of Shtei Halechem relates to Reb Elozor's words in Pesachim 68b,
א"ר אלעזר הכל מודים בעצרת דבעינן נמי לכם מ"ט יום שניתנה בו תורה הוא.
Rashi -
דבעינן נמי לכם - שישמח בו במאכל ומשתה להראות שנוח ומקובל יום זה לישראל שנתנה תורה בו:
The limud is that the first korban mincha after yetzias mitzrayim was barley, which is edible but not really fit for humans. Before we got the Torah, we had to view spirituality as incompatible with physicality. But the Torah teaches us how to convert gashmiyus to ruchniyus - that instead of mortification of the body and asceticism, we can and must use all the physical pleasures of this world in the service of the Ribono shel Olam; not because we are driven by a hedonistic drive for gratification, but because these things are gifts from Hashem that enhance our lives and make us happy and grateful and better Avdei Hashem.

We pointed out that these two lessons seem incompatible. On the one hand, we are told that Kabbalas Hatorah means that we have to be constantly vigilant to be like malachim, and not be mei'si'ach da'as from our tafkid to be holy even for a second. On the other hand, we are told that we may and should enjoy this world. The answer is that davka through limud hatorah can we resolve the apparent contradiction. It is indeed possible, like Rabbeinu HaKadosh, to have all sorts of hanaos from this world and yet to not be neheneh even one finger's worth.

Dr. Meir Zahtz threw in a complication. I made the mistake of introducing this vort by asking my shiur if they could name two unusual things of the Avoda that are done only on Shavuos. I was looking for the two se'irim and the Chametz. But Dr. Zahtz said that the Shelmei Tzibbur, the two kvasim that accompany the Shtei HaLechem, are unique. You don't find Shelmei Tzibbur ledoros other than here, and the fact that it's kodesh kodoshim is surprising as well. As is, the vort is gold, but he's right. I'd love to find an explanation for these shelmei tzibbur as well, but so far, I have nothing satisfying.