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Pirkei Avos

Face the book

Pirkei Avos Face the book

גי הנשמ ,א קרפ

אלידו ,ףוסי ףיסומ אליד ,אמש דבא אמש דגנ ,רמוא היה אוה” “.ףלח אגתב שמתשידו ,בייח אלטק ףילי

“Hillel used to say: He who aggrandizes his name, loses his name. He who does not increase his Torah learning decreases it. He who learns not, forfeits his life. He who makes unworthy use of the crown (of the Torah) shall fade away.” The Meiri on this Mishna comments that if one does not chazer (review) that which he has learnt during the day then it would be as if he has not learnt it properly in the first place. In order to grow in Torah observance and study, one must try to be on the ball as much as possible. To illustrate, if you wish to boil a kettle to make hot water, we all know that you need it to be placed on the source of heat for a certain period of time until it is ready. Placing it and then swiftly removing it from said source is going to have a counter effect on the water. It will never get that much hotter. The same is true with learning. If one is con- stantly on and off, he will never grow.

[Before continuing, I would like to explain that personally I think access to the internet is fantastic (when under con- trol) and I am not attacking the usage of such facilities.] 800 Million People around the world are members of the estimated $5 Billion dollar webpage, Facebook. For those that are unaware of Facebook, it is a social networking site which allows members to converse, share photos, videos and more all in an uncensored environment. This rather recent brain child of Jewish 27 year old, Mark Zuckerberg has proven to be a huge yetzer hora for some users. You see those that waste multiple hours at a time on this re- source waiting for something to happen. There are those that have been taken over so much that they have the Facebook on their mobile devices meaning that they are constantly able to check what is going on in the world of social networking. This has led to disastrous results. One cannot go through a shiur or lesson without checking their

blackberry. They cannot concentrate throughout a seder (learning period) as every few moments they feel that someone else might have changed their status or upload- ed a new photo which they MUST disturb their time to see. GEVALT!

Stepping deeper, users on Facebook feel un-popular if they do not have anyone to contact, referred to as friends. Before my deactivation, I was the proud owner of a Face- book account with well over 800 friends… of which I spoke to maybe 10 on a regular basis, of which none of those conversations were overly deep or meaningful be- cause it is very difficult to schmooze intensely with a friend by typing. My life was pretty boring and empty as I found myself watching my computer screen to fish out any changes on my homepage. What could I have been doing instead?

“He who does not increase his Torah learning decreases it” Every day we are given the most incredible opportunity, life. The Almighty genuinely feels that today we are going to be able to make a positive impact on mankind and therefore it is worthwhile us being alive. He can see that on any given day we will be able to learn so much and perform masses of mitzvos. But of course this is all down to our bechira – free will. We can utilise our time like real menschen by learning, relaxing in a kosher manner or positively making a difference to Klal Yisroel / the world, or we can do the exact opposite.

Friends, I urge all those that have accounts on Facebook to limit the time you use it or delete it once and for all. You know full well that it is not really helping you in your strive for greatness. To conclude with words from our Mishna, “he who exploits the crown of the Torah shall fade away.”

Good Shabbos!

(The views expressed in this article are that of the author.)

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Living Torah

The Hasmonean High School Weekly Sedra Sheet

חלשב תשרפ

ב“עשת טבש אי 4th February 2012



ימיר נהילא

גרפ הללאד



ל דנד

ר תמשנ ינללל

ר נייאנ ה

ל דנד

Issue No:


Shabbos In:


Shabbos Out:


Dvar Torah

Diving in at the deep end

Dvar Torah Diving in at the deep end

Exactly what happened when the B’nai Yisrael left Egypt and crossed the Reed Sea (Yam Suf) is not clear. The Talmud presents a disagreement between R’ Meir and R’ Yehudah: R’ Meir believes that each tribe wanted to be the first to enter the water, whereas R. Yehudah is of the opinion that none of the tribes wanted to be first. Accord- ing to the latter opinion, it was Nachshon ben Aminadav, the leader of Yehudah, who was the first to go in and show the rest of the Jewish people what needed to be done.

If we read R’ Yehuda’s teachings carefully, we see that it was not that the B’nai Yisrael did not want to go into the water, but rather that they did not want to be the first to do so. It is an interesting facet of human nature that cre- ates a fear of being the first to do something, because we take a certain chance of being the only one to do an ac- tion, even if everyone else knows that we are doing the right thing. We risk being the butt of ridicule, and even scorn, if our example is not accepted. As a result, there are many things that everyone knows to be right but that simply do not get done.

Of course, if we want to lead by example, and not simply engage in eccentric behaviour, we need to look more carefully at Nachshon's leadership. What is most signifi- cant about Nachshon is his willingness to be the only one, out of hundreds of thousands of people, to pursue his course of action. The social pressure against doing his act must have been tremendous. Whilst it may have been logistically impossible to find a secluded spot to try out his adventure, it would certainly have made it a great deal easier. It is the very public nature of his act, however, that made it so courageous and, even more importantly, so effective.

Thus, leading by example must be calculatedly visible, not

only regarding where it is done, but, even more im- portantly, when and how. Doing something privately may be a very praiseworthy thing, but it is not an act of leader- ship; since it is not known, it cannot be repeated by oth- ers.

The Torah tells us little about Nachshon. However, it does inform us that he was the leader of his tribe and the brother-in-law of Aharon, which gives us more than enough grounds to assume that he was someone of out- standing moral character. A second critical component of leading by example is cultivating a character that will inspire imitation. If we wear a clown’s suit, no matter how impressive a feat we perform, our appearance would have undermined the example that we are trying to set.

If we are trying to accomplish change, it must be done by putting ourselves on the line, by attaching our good repu- tation – which we have worked so hard to develop – to the change that we are trying to promote. Of what pur- pose is a good reputation if it is not used for the greater good?

As Nachshon led the way through the Yam Suf, he can also lead us in our efforts to provide leadership for the Jewish people. It can be asked why Moshe didn’t do this act of leadership and courage; why did he stand by and watch Nachshon do it? I would like to offer the answer that it is not always the recognised leaders that will lead; sometimes the lesser known people must take a step forward to do what needs to be done. Those who really want to lead need to accept a difficult road – one that calls for publicly doing what is right precisely when no one else is doing it. At the same time, such courage will be pitifully wasted if these future leaders do not spend the required time and energy to refine themselves into the impeccable men and women that will inspire imitation.


Belief in one

Story Belief in one

ודבע השמבו הב ונימאיו” “And they believed in Hashem, and in His servant, Moshe" - Shemos (14:31)

R' Menachem Mendel of Kotzk was once visited by an impoverished man who was in desperate need of funds for the impending wedding of his daughter.

The Tzaddik gave the poor man a Brocho and handed the man a letter of endorsement ad- dressed to the wealthy brother of R' Yitzchak Meir of Ger, R' Moshe Chaim Rotenberg. As well as being the Chiddushei Harim and the first Reb- be of Ger, R' Yitzchak Meir was the brother-in-law of the Kotzker Rebbe. The letter asked R' Moshe Chaim to extend a helping hand to his visitor, according to the means with which he had been blessed with by Hashem.

The poor man immediately set out on foot and trudged from town to town until he reached R' Moshe Chaim's house in Chenshin. Upon arrival, he was received warmly.

After a brief rest and something to eat and drink, the poor man handed R' Moshe Chaim the letter. As he watched his wealthy host's eyes scan the letter, he was confident that he would receive enough to cover all the wedding expenses. He had brought endorsement from the great Rebbe of Kotzk after all!

After reading through the letter quietly, R' Moshe Chaim took out the modest sum of one ruble, and handed it to the astonished guest.

The man was shocked. He had made the long and treacherous journey to R' Moshe Chaim's house and this was all he received in return! After failing to convince his host to even just reconsider his stance, the man grudgingly left the house and set out disgruntled and in low spirits, homeward bound.

The second the door shut behind the man, R' Moshe Chaim sprang into action. He immediately bought every item of clothing, furniture, utensils and every item a young married couple would need and loaded them onto several wagons. He also compiled enough money to pay for the wed- ding expenses and more. He set out at full speed after the visitor; whom he proceeded to present all these remarkable gifts to.

In a state of sheer awe and amazement, the man asked R' Moshe Chaim why he had him put through all the anguish earlier at the house?

Reb Moshe Chaim replied: "Listen, my dear friend. I saw in your eyes that you were extreme- ly confident because you were equipped with a letter from the holy Rebbe of Kotzk, and in the process you forgot that we Jews have a G-d who we turn to in times of distress."

"I simply wanted to provide a reminder to you to only place your trust in Him and Him alone. And now, my dear friend, I wish you a safe trouble- free journey and a hearty Mazel Tov!"

GematriaGematriaGematria ofofof thethethe Week:Week:Week:

From the beginning of this week’s sedrah we can learn an important lesson about how to conduct our lives in a manner that will maximise Kiddush Hashem. The first pasuk says “Vayehi beshalach Paroh es ho’om” - Bal Haturim points out that this has the same gematriah as the words “gam eiruv rav”. Moshe was, more likely than not, aware of the fact that these people were to later cause problems. Moshe did not focus on the future but took the eiruv rav as they were. We can learn from here the upmost importance of tolerance. It is not our job to push people aside because their opinions differ from ours, rather we must embrace them as brothers and friends and change their opinions and actions by being positive role models. Gut Shabbos—Yoir Chalk

Dvar Torah

101 times

Dvar Torah 101 times

“And he said if you listen well to the voice of God your Lord and you do what is just in His eyes and you listen to His commandments and you observe all His decrees, then all the ills I placed upon Egypt I will not place upon you, for I am God your healer.” (15:26)

The Gemorah Brachos (daf mem, amud aleph) infers from

the Hebrew usage here, “if you will listen to the old you will listen to the new (if you do Chazarah you will be able

to master new topics) but if you are oblivious, you will no

longer listen.”

A man once observed Rabbi Zalman of Vilna doing

Chazarah of a certain Torah subject three hundred times.

A short while later he saw him reviewing it again a dozen


The man gathered up his courage and asked Rabbi Zal- man, “Didn’t I see you reviewing this very same subject three hundred times? Why are you reviewing it again so many times?”

“I will explain it to you,” replied Rabbi Zalman. “The

Gemorah Pesachim (daf ayin beis, amud aleph) remarks that ‘he learned it from him forty times, and it was as if he had it in his pocket.’ Why do the Chachamim utilize the phrase ‘in his pocket’ in this context, rather than the more common phrase ‘in a box?’ How is something preserved in

a pocket different from something preserved in a box?”

“Elsewhere, the Gemorah Baba Metzia (daf chaf aleph, amud beis) tells us that a person checks his pocket regu- larly. Though he knows his money is there he checks them nonetheless, to reassure him that it did not fall out or get lost.”

“This is what is the Gemorah means by ‘in his pocket.’ Even when a person has completed a subject in the Torah

and implanted it in his mind, he still checks regularly to reassure himself that he has not forgotten it. On the other hand, something preserved ‘in a box’ no longer receives attention. It simply lies there. The Torah which is more precious than thousands in Gold and Silver deserves to be checked on all the time.”

On another occasion, Rabbi Ber of Vilna asked Rabbi Zal- man, “the Gemorah Chagiga (daf tes, amud beis) tells us, ‘there is no comparison between someone who learns his topic one hundred times and one who learns it on hun- dred and one times.’ But is there any mention anywhere of an advantage of learning something more than one hundred and one times?”

Rabbi Zalman replied, “The number one hundred and one mentioned by the Chachamim is for the purpose of reten- tion in the memory. But for learning Torah out of sheer love and delight, there is no limit to the number of times it can be reviewed. If I had enough time I would review each element of the Torah again and again for a full year – and even more.”

When Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin was nineteen years old he told the Vilna Gaon, “I have learnt the Order of Moed nineteen times and it is still not clear to me.”

The Gaon was astonished, “Do you expect perfect clarity after only nineteen timed?!”

“Then how many times?” Rabbi Chaim asked.

“There is no limit!” the Vilna Gaon exclaimed. “You must review again and again all your life.”

If this is how the greatest Rishonim saw the importance of Chazarah, we should learn and strive until even we can love to learn the same topic numerous times.

RiddleRiddleRiddle ofofof thethethe Week:Week:Week:

In Hebrew, if you subtract 30 from 30 you get 60. How is this?

AnswerAnswerAnswer tototo LastLastLast Week’sWeek’sWeek’s Riddle:Riddle:Riddle:

Two characters in Tanach: one's name makes him sound as though he's his own uncle, and the other's would have him appear to be his own grandfather. Who are they?

King Achav ("Ach" means brother, "Av" means father; hence "Achav" means "Brother of father" or "uncle.") (Melachim I 16:28) Avner son of Ner ("Avner" sounds like "the father" (Av) of Ner) (Shmuel I 26:5).