2007 Annual Rabbi Frand Teshuva Drasha/Shiur

The sound quality isn’t great and the volume is a bit low, but here it is! As always, Rabbi Frand gave his shiur to probably well over a thousand people, all crammed into Shomrei Emunah. Enjoy, and have an easy fast.

The actual mp3 is around 18mb (didn’t have time to shrink it too much), so give it time to load.

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/16572823/view]

(link to last year’s drasha: https://aishel.wordpress.com/2006/09/29/rabbi-frands-2006-annual-teshuva-drasha/)

(link to  2003 drasha: https://aishel.wordpress.com/2006/09/28/rabbi-frands-2003-annual-teshuva-drasha/)

Praying for Health

I never noticed this until now, but when we say the Asher Yatzar bracha (blessing said after going to the bathroom), we say at the end:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ רוֹפֵא כָל בָּשָׂר וּמַפְלִיא לַעֲשֹוֹת

Blessed are You, Hashem, Who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.

However, during Amidah, we pray to Hashem by saying this:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ , רופֵא חולֵי עַמּו יִשְׂרָאֵל

Blessed are You, Hashem, Who heals all the sick people of the Jewish nation.

The first bracha in Asher Yatzar is a prayer to Hashem for healing all of mankind but the second bracha in the Amidah is only a prayer to Hashem for healing the Jews.  Why is this?

The gemara in Megillah 18b answers that each bracha in the Amidah is there for a specific reason.  The bracha on healing the Jews is the eighth bracha of the Amidah.  This corresponds to the eighth day of a Jewish baby, when he is circumcised.  Since only Jews have the commandment of having a circumcision, this blessing only applies to Jews and not the rest of mankind.  Therefore, the blessing only refers to healing of Jews.  However, the bracha of Asher Yatzar, which refers to blessing Hashem for allowing our bodily orfices to function properly is something that applies to everyone.  That’s why that bracha refers to all of mankind.

Haman is the Pits

For those of you not following Daf Yomi, we just started doing the whole gemara in Megillah that discusses the story of Purim. Of course, with Purim coming in three weeks, this is very apropos. On Daf 14, the gemara discusses Haman’s ‘bargaining’ to Achashverosh to allow Haman to kill all the Jews. Haman offered plenty of good reasons to kill the Jews, including a large amount of money, but at the end, Achashverosh tells Haman to keep his money and that he too had wanted the Jews annihilated.

The gemara then goes on to compare the above exchange to two neighbors; one has a large pile of dirt and is looking to get rid of it, and the other has a large hole in the ground and is looking to fill it. When the neighbor with the hole in the ground finds out that the other guy can help him, he offers him money. The neighbor refuses the money because he is quite happy to get rid of his pile of dirt.

There’s an obvious question here. Why do we need the story following the one about Achashverosh and Haman? It’s obvious that they were both getting something they both wanted and that no money needed to change hands. So what is the story regarding the dirt teaching us?

Like many questions in Judaism, we answer this with another question. We see that both Achashverosh and Haman both equally wanted to wipe out the Jews. Yet at the end of the story, we see that Haman and his sons and followers are all destroyed, and Achashverosh not only maintains his dynasty, he also emerges as a part-hero! Why is this so?

So there are those that want to say that the pile of dirt is analogous to Achashverosh, and that Haman is analogous to the ditch. Achashverosh had a deeper understanding of the power of the Jews. and understood that Hashem played a big role in the final outcome. He had a respect for the power of Hashem. Achashverosh was therefore hesitant to kill the Jews unless he knew that they were in a state of constant sin. Achashverosh also knew that if things were going to go well for the Jews, that there was no way they could be defeated. That’s why Achashverosh is compared to the pile of dirt. The pile of dirt is elevated from the ground signifying his being on a higher level. On the other hand, Haman’s hatred for the Jews was so intense that no rational thought could motivate him NOT to kill the Jews. For Haman, the only thought on his mind was to wipe out every last Jew from the face of the Earth. Therefore, in the final outcome, Haman was killed and Achashverosh was allowed to live. Additionally, that is why Haman is compared to the ditch, which is something that is on a lower level.

We should all strive to be doing good stuff, so that the ball can be on our court.

Talking to God

Today, I attended the CJE‘s annual Yom Iyun, where the theme was God. After the initial keynote address by Rabbi Kushner, a reform rabbi from San Francisco, the 400+ participants broke up into several groups for talks by other community leaders. I attended a talk by Rabbi Goldberger, of Tiferes Yisrael, about talking to God, and the way we communicate with Him. The audience included people from all sorts of Jewish backgrounds and denominations.

He opened up with three basic questions.

  1. Who can daven? Does it have to be someone special? Should it be someone who does the davening for you?
  2. Are there specific times that one should daven? Meaning, is it something that should only be done mornings, set times, etc.
  3. What should we daven about? Can we/should we only daven about the ‘important stuff’ like world peace or the health of the sick?

Read the rest of this entry »

Black Friday overachievers

I was reading this story in the news today:

Two armed thugs tried to rob of line of people waiting to buy the new Playstation 3 gaming console early Friday and shot one who refused to give up the money, authorities said.

The two confronted a “bunch of people who were in line” outside a Wal-Mart store shortly after 3 a.m. and demanded money, said Lt. J. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the state police. The new Sony consoles are selling for around $500 to $600.

“One of the patron’s resisted. That patron was shot,” Vance said.

I just posted yesterday about the Thanksgiving day sales and all the deals, and I know that this is the type of stuff that happens on Black Friday. I think its insane. If there’s a great sale, I’ll admit, I’ll be there at 6am. But if it comes to pushing, shoving, and now shooting, forget about it, I’m not interested. I’ve heard only great things about the Playstation 3 (except for the price tag), but to get in line at 3am just to be able to say that “I had it first” seems extreme to me.

As a rabbi in Detroit once told me a few Thanksgivings ago, upon completion of a masechta (tractate), we say in the Hadran, “She’anu mashkimim v’heim mashkimim. Anu mashkimim l’divrei torah, v’heim mashkimim l’devarim biteilim…Anu ratzim v’hem ratzim. Anu ratzim l’chayei haolam habah, v’heim ratzim l’b’air shachas.” – We wake up early and they wake up early. We wake up early to learn for words of torah, and they wake up early for idle words….We run and they run. We run to the life of the Next World, and they run to the well of destruction. (I’ve got to figure out how to type in Hebrew)

Like I said above, I’d get up early if there was a great deal (which I might be doing this year…I need blank CD-R’s). I’m just complaining about the Black Friday overachievers.

Two days of Yom Tov in Chutz L’Aretz

As most of us know, we celebrate two days of yom tov in chutz l’aretz (CL”A).  The famous question is asked, that if nowadays we rely on Hillel’s calendar, what is the purpose of having two day’s of yom tov?  We all know exactly when things are going to fall out, so we should have only one day of yom tov.  This would be great for a bunch of reasons, including no 3-day yom tov’s, extra day of expensive food, and not overeating.

The classical answer is given that since in the olden days, when we weren’t sure exactly when Rosh Chodesh was, thus we were unsure of the exact date of yom tov, even though we now know when things fall out, we’re just doing it k’minhag avoseinu.

I was listening to the OU daf yomi podcast from yesterdays daf (Beitza 4b) and the maggid shiur brought what I thought was a great answer from the Meshach Chuchma.  He said then in the days of Mashiach, things are going to return to the old ways, including rosh chodesh and two-day yommim tovim.  If were were to rely solely on Hillel’s calendar, it would be showing a lack of emunah regarding the coming of Mashiach.  By continuing to have the two-day yomim tovim, we’re showing our emunah that Mashiach will come soon by continuing the schedule as we have it today.

Parsha Question

My mother recently found buried in one of her bookshelves a notebook of mine from 7th grade.  Looking through it, I found the following question, with no answer written down.  For all I know, its very obvious, but I’m not sure what the answer is.

The Pasuk says that Hashem smelled Noach’s korban and was so pleased that he promised never to bring a mabul again.  Why did Noach get such a reward for a simple korban?  Hevel, Kayin, and Adam also brought korbanos, but they didn’t get such a promise.  What was different about Noach’s korban?