Halacha for Thursday 12 Elul 5779 September 12 2019

Establishing Times for Torah Study During the Days of Selichot

We have already mentioned in previous Halachot the words of the great Acharonim as well as Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l that the main goal for us during the month of Elul and the Ten Days of Repentance in our generation is to repent for our sins. Emphasis should not be placed solely on fasting, completing Tehillim several times, or reciting many supplications; rather, one should repent fully by sorting through one’s deeds and mending one’s ways. This will subsequently give meaning to the aforementioned things.

King David said: “I do not fear severe transgressions, for they are severe. Of what am I afraid? Of light transgressions, for they are light.” This means that King David said that there is no need for me to distance myself from severe transgressions, for I know that they are severe and I will not come to transgress them. However, I do fear light transgressions which bring one to transgress more severe sins. Rabbeinu Yehonatan Eibeschitz zt”l explains this concept in his Sefer Ya’arot Devash where he writes that it is clear that any G-d-fearing individual would never come to transgress a serious sin, such as adultery, G-d-forbid, and it would never even cross one’s mind. Rather, one starts off by looking at forbidden sights and tells one’s self that it is not such a terrible sin to gaze at a woman’s beauty. Then, one sins by speaking words of nonsense and tells one’s self that this too will not cause him to transgress any sin. This pattern continues until one transgresses the most grievous sins in the Torah. This is what is meant by “fearing light transgressions,” for one does not fear serious transgressions since one would not even think of performing them; only light sins bring one to transgress the severe ones.

Thus, one must prepare many fences and boundaries around specific sins one feels he must distance himself from so as not to transgress them, throughout one’s life and especially during these days. One must think deeply which things cause one to stumble and distance himself from these things. (If one has unfiltered internet access at home, one must filter it so as not to come to sin.)

Nevertheless, one cannot be saved completely from the Evil Inclination without learning Torah, for one who is connected to the Torah by establishing a set Torah class or learning partner for one’s self every day is guarded from sinning and will never stray from the path of Hashem. Rabbeinu Yehonatan Eibeschitz writes that not only must men establish set times for Torah study; rather, women must also establish some sort of set learning schedule for themselves from a Mussar work (such as Peleh Yo’etz and the like) whenever it is convenient for them. This will serve as a fortified wall so that one will not easily fall into the trap of the Evil Inclination.

We shall now recount a tale in order to emphasize the importance of daily Torah study:

Approximately twenty-five years ago there was a certain community in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem where all the residents were wealthy businessmen who sent their children to secular schools. A certain rabbi arrived there and tried his utmost to teach Torah to the members of this community. He would go and speak to the wives of these men in order to convince them to encourage their husbands to attend his class every day. Additionally, he would commission young Torah scholars to learn with the men every night, encourage them to attend Selichot services every morning, and other things of that nature.

On the other hand, there was another community in Jerusalem which was very similar to the former community besides for the fact that the community members did not learn Torah; the local rabbi would do his job by delivering a sermon on Shabbat night as well as a class on Tuesday after which he would return to his home to deal with his own issues. Now, twenty years later, we can see precisely what has emerged from each of these respective communities. The children of those businessmen from the Ramot community now consist of many G-d-fearing Torah scholars, especially their grandchildren. Working individuals now establish set times for Torah study and send their children to be educated in religious schools. Those who learn spend all their time immersed in Torah study.

In contrast, it is quite unfortunate to see the members of the other community of whom many of their children are irreligious, very few of which attend synagogue on Shabbat, and all of which show blatant disregard for modesty, adherence to Halacha, and respect for Torah scholars. All this was caused by a lack of connection to Torah study and a Torah scholar who is completely dedicated to the Torah. This message speaks volumes.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

The Pesach Seder-“Maror”, “Shulchan Orech”, and “Tzafun”

Maror Everyone is obligated to eat a Kezayit (olive’s volume, approx. 27 grams) of Maror on the night of Pesach. There are several kinds of vegetables that one may use for Maror, however, the predominant custom today, especially among Sephardic Jewry, is to use the leaves and stalks (spines) ......

Read Halacha

Magid-Motzi-Matzah

The order of the night of Pesach printed in Haggadot is as follows: Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rochtza, Motzi, Matzah, Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech, Tzafun, Barech, Hallel, Nirtzah. Magid Upon reaching the point of the Seder entitled “Magid,” the entire household shoul......

Read Halacha

Hallel on the Night of Pesach-The Laws Regarding Men and Women

The Tosefta (Chapter 3 of Sukkah) states: “There are eighteen days and one night throughout the year when the (complete) Hallel is recited, as follows: The eight days of the Sukkot holiday, the eight days of Chanukah, the first day of Pesach as well as the first night of Pesach, and on the hol......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Koshering Vessels for Pesach

One may not use Chametz vessels on Pesach since vessels which have been used to cook in or have had hot Chametz placed in them have Chametz flavor absorbed in them. Thus, just as we separate between meat and dairy utensils all year long, we must likewise separate between the utensils we use all year......

Read Halacha

Arriving Late to or Skipping Some Portions of the Megillah Reading

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

Some Detailed Laws Regarding Kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach

In the previous Halacha we have briefly discussed the primary laws of Chametz and Kitniyot (legumes) on Pesach. We have explained that according to all communities, legumes such as rice and chick peas are not actual Chametz, for only grain products can be considered Chametz. However, Ashkenazim cust......

Read Halacha

Koshering Sinks and Kitchen Countertops

We have previously discussed that just as one should designate vessels for milk and meat respectively, likewise, regarding the holiday of Pesach, one should not use one’s regular Chametz vessels that were used all year round; rather, one should designate special kosher for Pesach vessels. N......

Read Halacha