Archive for April 2016


There is a Hassidic tale which relates beautifully to our topic. It was told by our newest of consultants to the “Cup of Coffee” team, Rabbi Asher Hurtzberg
There was a young Chassid who was enamored by the rituals of Pesach. He would be anticipating its arrival for months. He was fascinated by the participation of all present at the Seder night, especially his father at the head of the table who was orchestrating the evening. Everybody dressed in their best. But what struck the Chassid most was Eliyahu Hanavi. His arrival was quite a dramatic event. The arrival of the great Eliyahu to his home was mesmerizing. What can we offer him? What does he like? When he departs what kind of bracha will he bless us with? What message did he bring with him and how can we become better Jews from his visit? Those were all questions that raced through his mind.
This Chassid was in his early twenties, not yet married. The young man was intense in his learning and was able to grasp spiritual concepts, drawing them to him like a vacuum. He was starving for more spirituality and he asked his Rebbi a question which he wanted to ask for quite some time. “Rebbi” the Chassid said approaching his Rebbi in private, “I would like to see Eliyahu when he comes in at the Seder. Please tell me, how can I meet him?” Now this was not a child asking to see Eliyahu and anticipating a chocolate bar from the great prophet, this was an adult who wanted to explore the essence of the being, of the spirit.
The young man pressed the Rebbi more. “Perhaps I can come to the house of the Rebbi, I’m sure there’s a better chance to meet him there.”
The Rebbi stroked his beard and answered the young student. “Well, if you really want to meet Eliyahu, then perhaps I can arrange it.  There is a town not far away and in that town lives this very pious Jew. Eliyahu most likely will come to see him.”
The young man was very exited at the potential meeting, however he had some concerns. Pesach is a very stringent holiday in terms of kashrus – dietary laws, especially since various groups had their own chumras – stringencies. No one ate outside their own home in those days. Boy, times have changed. These days Eliyahu has to book a flight to Miami and be directed to Collins Ave.
The Rebbi responded “Don’t be so concerned. Why don’t you bring your own food?” The young Chassid was thrilled at the opportunity to meet Eliyahu Hanavi face to face, perhaps maybe just in the spiritual realm. This was his childhood dream with a grown up sophisticated attachment; “Wonderful!” he proclaimed as he left the Rebbi’s quarters.
The young man arrived at the address which the Rebbi had instructed. He knocked on the door whereupon he was greeted by the owner. The owner was taken a back at the sudden guest. “I would be honored to spend the Seder by your home” the young man said.  The owner was dirt poor and was wondering for months how he was going to make Pesach now this unexpected person arrived. The host was horrified “What am I going to feed him, I can barely feed my own family?” he thought.
The young Chassid realized the poor condition of his host. Not only did the Chassid assure him that he will eat his own food, he also offered food for the host and his family, since he brought extra.
However, the Chassid was disappointed with his trip, for both nights of the Seder, Eliyahu Hanavi did not show up. There was no vibe; there was no spiritual awakening; there was just a long journey back.
Upon arriving at his Rebbi’s house, he said in disappointment, “K’vod HaRav, Eliyahu did not come.”
The Rebbi was surprised. “Are you sure?” the Rebbi responded. The Rebbi suggested that they both go back to the poor man’s house and get to the bottom of this.
The two men set out and journeyed back to the nearby town. As the approached the man’s house they over hear the man telling his neighbor. “I did not know how I would make Pesach; I didn’t know how I was going to feed my family. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, Eliyahu Hanavi showed up with food for us!”
It’s a beautiful story and I especially was taken aback for it also touches a personal cord, my family also experienced a similar “act of Eliyahu”.
One example is a story I’ve been told countless times since I was a kid. A month after my parents immigrated to this country, my mother quickly got a job in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Kol haKavod to many New Yorkers who have these daily rigorous commutes to and from work. My mother had to quickly learn this new system, which was obviously most difficult since she did not speak a word of English. For this job route, she needed to switch numerous trains to get to this location. During the first week of this new experience, instead of taking the local train, she mistakenly took the express and ended up north of the City. It was a culture shock to be in a train station and not seeing one familiar face. Imagine yourself in this woman’s shoes – a month ago, she was in a familiar setting of the comfortable confines of her own people, her own language, and her own country. And now, she is getting a guided tour by the New York City transit system of one of the worst neighborhoods in the country. Welcome to New York! Then, out of nowhere, comes this Chassidic old man who just happens to speak Hebrew. He calmed my mother down and guided her to the right train en-route back to her life.
It’s a powerful message that the Rebbi taught the Chassid. We must not look for Eliyahu for we ourselves have the capability to be that savior. It’s our jobs as Jews to look after our fellow perhaps then that will bring the redemption


CEO of Starbucks Howard Shultz and the Rabbi

The following story was told over at an awards ceremony for Howard Schultz, chairman and chief global strategist of the famed coffee company, Starbucks Corp. Schultz received the Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics from Columbia Business School in 2000, and during his acceptance speech, he related a fascinating insight into how he became a better person.
“When I was in Israel,” Schultz related, “I went to Meah Shearim, the ultra-Orthodox enclave within Jerusalem. Along with a group of businessmen I was with, I had the opportunity to meet with the head of the Mir Yeshiva, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel. I had never heard of him before and didn’t know anything about him. We were ushered into his study and waited for close to fifteen minutes before the Rabbi came in. What we did not know was that Rabbi Finkel was severely afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. He sat down at the head of the table, and immediately we looked away. We didn’t want to embarrass him. Suddenly, the Rabbi banged on the table and said, ‘Gentlemen, look at me, and look at me right now!’

“His speech affliction was worse than his shaking. It was really hard to listen and look at him at the same time. He said, ‘I have only a few minutes for you because I know you’re all busy American businessmen!’ You know, just a little dig there.

“Then he asked, ‘Can anyone tell me what the lesson of the Holocaust is?’ He called on one guy – it was like being called on in the fifth grade – and not knowing the answer. The guy said something benign like, ‘We will never forget?’ “The Rabbi completely dismissed him. Rabbi Finkel was looking around the table to call on someone else. We were all sort of under the table, looking away, hoping he would not call on any one of us. Personally, I was sweating. He called on another guy, who I thought had such a fantastic answer. ‘We will never, ever again be a victim or bystander.’ “But the Rabbi said, ‘You guys just don’t get it. Okay, let me tell you the essence of the human spirit. As you know, during the Holocaust, the people were transported in the worst most inhumane ways imaginable. The people thought they were going to a work camp but we know they were sent to concentration camps. After hours and days in this horrific corral with no light, no bathroom and extreme cold, they arrived at the camps. The doors were swung wide open, and they were blinded by the light. Men and women were separated, mothers from daughters, fathers from sons. Eventually, they were sent to the barracks. “As they went into the sleeping area, only one person was given a blanket for every six. The person who received the blanket had to decide before going to sleep, ‘Am I going to push the blanket to the five other people who did not get one, or am I going to pull it towards myself to stay warm?’ These are the types of questions they asked themselves. “Rabbi Finkel paused for a moment. Then he said, ‘Gentlemen, it was during this defining moment that we learned the power of the human spirit, because we pushed the blanket to five others. That is the lesson of the Holocaust!’ “With that, he stood up and said, ‘Take your blanket. Take it back to America – and push it to five other people!'”

There is a follow-up to this story. Apparently Mr. Schultz later returned to Israel and visited Rabbi Nosson Tzvi again. This time, he pulled out a blank check, signed it and told Rabbi Finkel to fill it out for whatever he wants. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi asked him, “I can fill out this check for whatever I want?” Mr. Schultz answered in the affirmative. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi picked up his pen and wrote out the check for $1400. Then, he handed the check to Howard Schultz, and told him to take it across the street to the scribe (Sofer), use it to buy a pair of Tefillin, and promise to put it on every day. His Yeshiva was millions of dollars in debt, and Rabbi Nosson Tzvi worked very hard to raise money for the Yeshiva, but he thought about his fellow Jew first


This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of  Rabbi’s, Yonossan Zweig, Berrel Wein,  Yossi bilus, Akiva Tatz, Asher Hurzberg, Ilan Feder

Does the message of Pesach have any relevance in today’s day and age?
Why is the Halach Ma’anya written in Aramaic?
When is the best time to say Halach Ma’anya?
How do we answer the question that the four sons ask?
The much anticipated, much glorified, and if you’re a housewife (or for that matter in today’s day and age houseman) somewhat scary holiday is at our threshold. Pesach! Such wonderful childhood memories invoke yours truly of this glorious holiday. I must say my parent did a fine job; the singing, the rituals, the education, the entertainment, the tradition, the food!  A package deal is what my parents so artfully delivered to us every Pesach. We didn’t go away like most families. The home always had a very intimate flavor that naturally glorified the holiday so much more than any vacation package in Florida could offer.
Pesach marks the uniqueness of the Jewish people – a people delivered from centuries of bondage through miraculous Heavenly intervention. One of the main functions of Pesach is to connect us to an event that occurred millennia ago in a distant land.
However, if one doesn’t have the fond child memories, the natural inclination of people is to feel disconnected to that event.  Even if there were memories, they may be “lukewarm”, so to speak, so how can one muster the stamina to sit through an entire Seder?  How much juice is left in the clown outfit that the father wears, the Uncle Moishe type Seders with lots of singing, or as what my son’s past Pre-1A Rebbi who suggested, having little plastic frogs and use small super balls for the plagues to stimulate the interest in the kids?  Even the classic traditions like hitting each other with scallions during the recitation of “Dayenu” can grow “stale” over time. There are some who even march around the table carrying a sack of cloths as if they left Egypt. All these props are childish but loads of fun and carry much great memories.  Nevertheless, is it enough to keep the interest?  Life is such that kids grow up, Teens grow up and need more sophisticated stimulation. They start asking serious question.  What do we do then? This is implicit in the questions raised in the section of the Hagadah devoted to the four sons. Their basic question is: “What is the relevance of this long-ago event to me?” And this has remained the basic question in all of Jewish life throughout the ages.z
The enormous number of Jews who are completely disconnected from their faith and their people, from their homeland of Israel and from the values and observances of Torah, testifies to the intensity of the difficulty posed by this question. They say “If the Exodus from Egypt does not speak to me, then the rest of Judaism is pretty immaterial to me as well.”
 Perhaps, one can take a look at some cues in the Hagadah where one can seek a valuable lesson and the answer to that age old question of “What’s the relevance!?”
As we begin the Maggid – the telling over of the story of our history section of the Seder, we recite the very peculiar paragraph of Halach Ma’anya. Although it is a unique moment for every individual sitting at the Seder who each actually have their own turn to simultaneously say the proclamation and to physically hold the Matzahs, surprisingly enough, the recitation is not in Hebrew. Why do we recite it in Aramaic? It is a language no one understands!!
Secondly, one of the messages in the short paragraph is that we invite whoever is hungry to come and eat – “kol dichfin yesei v’yeichol”, and whoever requires a place to eat Korban Pesach to come and partake – “kol ditzrich yesei v’yifsach”. So, aside from the language issue, this invitation is not only presented at the wrong time, for Kiddush has already been recited and the meal has already begun, but it’s in the wrong place as well, for it is issued in the privacy of our own homes. If we want to invite people, perhaps we should recite the proclamation out on the street and catch some of the passersby where then we’ll invite them in. Furthermore, to partake in the Korban Pesach one had to be a member of the group from the time the Korban was slaughtered earlier in the day. What purpose do this invitation serve?
One of the conversations which we discuss at the start is about the individual “Lavan HaArami” the brother and no-goodnik of our sacred matriarch Rivka. Why start with him, out of all people, when we have some of the most colorful characters in history in our past? Purim was just a few weeks ago. Let’s use Haman instead!
The Torah describes Lavan as a “ramai” – trickster.” The entire region was known for this quality; the Hebrew letters of the word “Aram” when rearranged spell the Hebrew word “ramai”. A ramai is not the same as a “ganav” – “thief”. A thief maintains no pretenses that his actions are in the victim’s best interest. A ramai is a confidence man, possessing the ability to deceive the victim into believing that he is gaining from the actions of the ramai. It is only later that the victim realizes that he has been victimized. The ability to perpetrate such a crime requires the ramai to know exactly what the victim is thinking, to see the victim’s perspective. He has to be an expert on human psychology. It’s a sensitivity issue that the ramai has to proficient in.  This quality of sensitivity can be utilized in a positive manner. The greatest “chesed” – “acts of kindness” are performed by an individual who is sensitive to the needs of the recipient.
One of our forefather Avraham, the first Jew, greatest achievements is when he hosted the three angels. It was tremendous feat of kindness. It just so happens that the pinnacle of chesed incident, the “hosting the three angels” occurred on Pesach. Interestingly, a year later on the very day of Pesach G-d destroyed the city of S’dom and Amora (Sodom and Gomorra to use the English names for them). These two cities represented the antithesis of chesed.
A Jew essence is built on the philosophy of chesed this was passed down from Avraham. The importance of the virtue of kindness is immeasurable. We find that our Patriarch Avraham made it his number one priority by sending his trusted servant Eliezer to find his beloved son a wife.  The prime directive is that she should possess is the quality of chesed.
Incredibly, with the negative environment surrounding her it seemed miraculous that Rivka emerged as quintessence fit for Avraham’s family of chesed and for his heir apparent, his son Yitzchak.
How can that happen? How did Avraham know that a treasure lies among the swamps? The mainstream commentary, Rashi, sites that the Torah in its repetition of where Rivka came from praises her by noting that although she had been brought up in such adverse surroundings, she was not influenced by the actions of the wicked. Generally, Rashi’s comment is understood to mean that in spite of her environment she was able to maintain her righteousness. Analyzing the Midrash we see however that this cannot be the entire meaning of the message, for the Midrash from which Rashi derives his comment cites the verse in King Shlomo’s Shir Hashirim to describe Rivka’s qualities “kashoshana bein hachochim” – “like a rose among the thorns.” If the intent of the Midrash is to point out that Rivka retained her righteousness in the face of adversity, then the thorns would represent the adversity. This analogy is difficult for the rose does not thrive in spite of the thorns, rather because of the thorns that protect it and allow it to thrive. What then is the message of the verse?
Sensitivity is an important trait in elevating ourselves in developing relations with G-d and our fellow man. The greatest “chesed” – “acts of kindness” are performed by an individual who is sensitive to the needs of the recipient. Although Aram was notorious for their trickery, Avraham wanted a wife for Yitzchak who would possess this same sensitivity that a Lavan uses for his trickery, when performing kindness. It was this genetic quality that Avraham wanted to infuse into Klal Yisroel, and it was this quality that Eliezer was looking for when testing Rivka. This is the message of the Midrash; the thorns reflect the quality of the “ramai” by which Rivka was surrounded, but which enabled her to achieve the great levels of chesed of which only she was able. She had the gift of sensitivity as did her brother. However she used it for kindness and good while her brother used it for trickery and evil.
Many of us are proud to host guest on Shabbat and Holidays. We have to understand that a guest or for that matter a family member is very special on Pesach, for the objective is to perform for them a mitzvah of the highest level, which is the section in the Seder called “Maggid”.  The Pesach Seder is a celebration of our redemption and we are all guests of honor. To prevent the guests from feeling beholden to the “Baal Habayit” (host) which would hinder, and repress their involvement and participation in the evening, we begin the Seder by allowing the guests to invite others. The Talmud states “ein oreyach machnis oreyach” – “a guest is not permitted to invite other guests.” However, a guest of honor has the right to invite whomever he chooses. The message we are relaying to all the participants is they are not merely guests obligated to the homeowner. Rather, they are all guests of honor, celebrating their own redemption. It is imperative that all the guests feel comfortable, for they have to speak freely and engage in the conversations of the evening to fulfill the mitzvah of “Tzipur Yetzias Mitzrayim” – Maggid. In the same vein, the Tosafot Yom Tov had a custom to spill wine on the clean tablecloth so that the guests would feel at ease. The purpose of the invitation is for the guests already assembled, not for those who are absent.
Rashi explains the term “chesed” as an Aramaic word meaning “shame”. However, in Hebrew “chesed” means “kindness”, a term with positive connotations. When a person does chesed he receives fulfillment from the act, while the recipient feels shame. The Hebrew and Aramaic meanings are therefore not contrary, but, in fact, complementary. The Hebrew translation focuses on the perspective of the giver while the Aramaic translation focuses on the perspective of the recipient. By using the Aramaic word “chesed”, the Torah is teaching us that when we do chesed, we should be SENSITIVE to the recipient’s shame. This way, we will do chesed in a manner which will diminish the recipient’s shame. It is therefore appropriate to begin the Seder in Aramaic for this is the language that symbolizes the sensitivity of seeing the perspective of another.
The prime directive is to make the guest or family member feel as comfortable as possible so he’ll have the inner strength to “ask”.  Much of the Seder is designed to sprout those feelings. One of the reasons we drink the four cups of wine is for that very reason. Everyone is born with a certain defense mechanism where he or she has to a certain degree a feeling that makes one self-conscious and unable to act in a relaxed and natural way. We just don’t disclose our deepest and darkest secrets to the world. It’s unbecoming.  Wine, though, has the some element within to relieve ones inhibitions. We, depending how much is consumed, let our guard down when we drink wine. This is the optimal scenario at the Seder night for we are not afraid to ask questions; its designed that way. We have to be pro-active in conversation, speaking of course about Jewish or Torah topics.  All of a sudden, everyone at the Seder is your friend. Wine brings unity. We just have to be careful not to drink a little too much, not to spill the beans. For this reason we are forbidden to drink with non-Jews. We have to realize our place and our commitment to G-d.
Aside from the sensitivity required of the host to give the participants the feeling that they are guests of honor, the very nature of Tzipur Yetzias Mitzrayim – the telling of the story requires seeing the perspective of another. The mitzvah must be performed “derech she’eilah uteshuvah” – “by question and answer”, i.e. the Socratic Method. The only way for such an approach to be effective is if the listener is sensitive to the questions being posed. Very often a person’s only interest is to make heard what he is thinking, and he does not address the question at all. The most important Jewish literary work after the Torah is the Talmud. The Talmud is also presented in the Socratic Method, question and answer. It is therefore most appropriate that the Talmud is written in Aramaic and in the region of Aram for this is the language and region that lends itself to seeing the perspective of others, crucial when attempting to respond to the queries and difficulties which are the basis of the Talmud. In other words, the Seder is all about questions. This is represented by the Four Sons.
So, what do we answer the Four Sons?
Incredibly the Hagadah is out of character answering the Rasha, Wicked Son. It is very negative to him. What happened to super-duper outreach? The Rasha is treated that way because he is negative. He asks a question but he doesn’t seem to seek an answer. Therefore his question is not a question, it’s a statement.  Seemingly, he doesn’t want to listen. Even more so, the Rasha is making fun of it all. The Torah does not want have anything to do with scoffers and distractors. However the other sons are sincere about seeking an answer and should be approached differently.
Our fun ancient traditions, such as the scallions at the recitation of “Dayenu”, the sack on the shoulder, as well as our creative razzle dazzle new props of today, plastic frogs and so forth  are right on the money in answering the question. Granted the Hagadah has the answers describing our illustrious past and describing some of our ancestor’s pain and triumph, however, frankly I’ve been in this business many years and pardon me if I’m a little bold when I say there are more Jews returning to Judaism after spending a Shabbat meal and experiencing the warmth of a family then an intellectual debate whether G-d exist.
We are human and not perfect. You, the host, may not have all the all answers to the questions but it’s irrelevant for the true answer lies with the kindness, warmth and sensitivity. That’s the answer they want to hear.  Then they will hear the Exodus, the Matzah speak to them with all the traditions and all its glory.

Judaism and Loyalty

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of  Rabbi’s, Yissachar Frand, Yossi bilus, Asher Hurzberg and Mrs. Leah Kohn

L o y a l t y

We’re loyal to our jobs; we’re loyal to our country; we’re loyal to our spouse; we’re even loyal to our sports teams (Go, Mets)!!  Loyalty is something we do.  There are even loyalty programs that reward buyers for sticking with company brands.  Perhaps we should even start a loyalty program with our “Cup of Coffee” newsletter. This notion of loyalty programs proposed by major US companies has steadily grown in popularity.  Between 2008 and 2012, U.S. loyalty memberships increased by 10 percent per year – reaching on average over 23 memberships per household.
However, a McKinsey study showed that those that spend more on loyalty, or have more visible loyalty programs, grow at about the same rate – or slightly slower – than those that do not.  Oops! Never mind about that proposal for our “Coffee”.  Despite relative underperformance in terms of revenue growth and profitability, over the past five years, market capitalization for companies that greatly emphasize loyalty programs has outpaced that of companies that don’t.  In other words, companies are still hoping and yearning that they will be rewarded with customer loyalty in due time.  Nevertheless consumers, for the most part, are not loyal.  Perhaps, human nature is such that, people want to believe that loyalty is important to all and therefore companies are banking on that premise.
The beginning of Parshas Tazria deals with the laws of purity and impurity associated with childbirth. At the end of the 40 day period of impurity and purity following the birth of a male, or at the end of the 80 day period of impurity and purity following the birth of a female, the mother is required to bring “a sheep within its first year for an olah-offering and a young dove or a turtle dove for a sin-offering” to complete her purification process [Vayikra 12:6].
 Even though there are many kinds of kosher birds, the only kinds of birds that may be brought as sacrifices on the Altar are the young dove [ben-yonah] and the turtle dove [tor].
The Ramban writes that the Torah singled out torim as an appropriate species for karbanot-sacrifices, precisely because of their loyalty to each other. The tor [turtle dove] has a unique quality in the fact that it mates for life. If its partner is taken away from it or killed, it will not seek out another mate, but will seemingly mourn – as it were – for the first mate for the rest of its life. This unique quality makes them the optimum choice for spiritual elevation sought by the one bringing a bird sacrifice. The Ramban adds that even though bnei-yonah do not share this quality, they have an alternate characteristic which makes them appropriate. The young dove (the only kind of “ben yonah” which may be brought) has the trait that they always return to their nest. Most birds will never return to their nest once a human being touches it. The bnei yonah are an exception. They have such loyalty to their nests that they will return despite the fact that human hands may have tampered with the nest. The Ramban writes “So too Israel will not switch from loyalty to their Creator and His Torah forever.” Therefore, according to the Ramban, torim and bnei Yonah are the bird species used in the Bait HaMikdash because they share the quality of loyalty with the Jewish people
Of course, how is it possible to talk about loyalty and not discuss the most sacred union built on loyalty, namely the one between husband and wife?
Our beloved and popular king, whom we often associate with royalty, David had a wife who was the daughter of the previous king, Shaul.  When David beat Goliath he was rewarded, as promised, the king’s daughter Michal. Now, Shaul was under much pressure from having to deal with the popularity of David, as David killed the heavily favored Goliath, and Shmuel’s prophecy which said that it was David who will reign after Shaul.
We learn in the Navi that Shaul was jealous of David and wanted to kill him. Interestingly, both David and Shaul were hailed righteous and have their sacred place in heaven.  Hence the reader has to realize the difficult situation the two are in for, as there is no good guy or bad guy in this historic chain of events.  Saul knows this prophecy to be already in motion, given that he has already experienced a loss of the special divine connection granted by God to leaders of the Jewish people. Even so…..
“…Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with a spear; but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the spear into the wall; and David fled, and escaped that night. And Saul sent messengers unto David’s house, to watch him and to slay him in the morning; and Michal David’s wife told him, saying: ‘If thou save not thy life tonight, to-morrow thou shalt be slain.’ So Michal let David down through the window; and he went, and fled, and escaped. And Michal took the teraphim, and laid it on the bed, and put a quilt of goats’ hair at the head thereof, and covered it with a cloth. And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said: ‘He is sick’. And Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying: ‘Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.’ And when the messengers came in, behold, the teraphim was in the bed, with the quilt of goats’ hair at the head thereof. And Saul said unto Michal: ‘Why hast thou deceived me thus, and let mine enemy go, that he is escaped?’ And Michal answered Saul: ‘He said unto me: Let me go; why should I kill thee?'” (I Samuel, 19: 10 – 17)
 The above passage relates one incident in the ongoing conflict between David and Saul. In this instance Michal (who is both David’s wife and Saul’s daughter) is directly involved in the sequence of events. She finds herself in the middle of the struggle between the two men and is forced to choose between two family members whom she loves and admires and who are important pillars of the Jewish nation. Because of her equally deep connection to Saul and David, Michal will most likely cause great pain to whomever she does not ultimately assist.
Michal’s decision is a difficult one, but her responsibilities under the circumstances in which she finds herself are outlined by Jewish law. The Torah obligates a married woman to act first and foremost in support of her husband, if he is in need. As the text relates, Michal does so by helping David to escape from their home, and then creating a “stand-in” so to speak for her husband, by disguising a life size statue with a wig of goat’s hair and placing it in bed under the covers. She next tells Saul’s men who have come for David that her husband is sick and cannot be extradited to the palace. This ruse buys time enough for David to escape to safety.
Michal’s obligation to her father, Saul, runs diametrically opposite her responsibilities to David. Specifically, the Torah prohibits a child from causing pain to a parent – and Michal knows her father will suffer, once he finds out she has orchestrated David’s escape. Thus, under the inordinate pressure of a life or death situation, Michal must quickly make her decision and act. She does so, with great loyalty to Torah, by saving David, as Torah dictates she must. And having acted within the parameters of Jewish law, Michal might have stopped at this point and found consolation for her own distress as well as for the inevitable pain of her father. She might have admitted to herself that – like many difficult decisions in life – this one involved human suffering.
While others in her position may have chosen this route to resolution, Michal pushes onward, and this is where she distinguishes herself as a great Jewish heroine. She insists upon re-evaluating the situation and in doing so, she comes up with a plan to spare her father any pain, by relating to her father a second version of what has transpired with David. When Saul realizes that Michal has enabled David’s departure, he asks her, “Why hast thou deceived me thus, and let mine enemy go, that he is escaped?” The answer Michal contrives – “He said unto me: Let me go; why should I kill thee?” – implies for Saul’s benefit that David did not want to harm his wife in order to prevent her from informing Saul of his escape. In addition, her response conveys the message that, even when his own life is in danger, David is careful not to inflict harm on another. Michal suggests to her father that, for the sake of their marriage and because of his true love for his wife, David had virtually begged Michal to assist him and to gain for him the extra time necessary for his escape to safety.
Michal suggests to her father – hoping he will conclude on his own – that David is a person of high caliber, who has a high regard for the life of each and every individual, who cherishes his marriage, and whose character Saul might well reassess. From this point of view, Saul may reconsider his own decision to kill David. Seeing how David cares so deeply for the life of others, Saul may ultimately conclude that David wants neither to harm him nor rebel against him. Michal’s subtle appeal to Saul takes place on an emotional level, as a daughter’s request that her father reconsider his opinion of the husband she so loves and esteems.
Michal’s plan works. For the moment she convinces Saul to cease his pursuit of David.
There is an amazing story pertaining to the great Rabbi Chaim Berlin. He would often read the Shir Hasirim to the congregation on Shavuot, as per the Ashkenazi custom, and would get choked up when reading the passage “Your eyes are beautiful like a dove”.  The Sages suggest that King Shlomo was referring G-d talking his children, bnei Yisrael.  When asked, why he would react that way, he respond that as a mohel he was once approached, discreetly, by someone who wanted him to perform circumcision on his son. However the father emphasized “there will not be a minyan (quorum of ten men) present” for he did not want anyone to discover that he was Jewish.  The Rabbi complied and the circumcision was performed with only the Mohel the father and a close friend present.
Sometime later, the Rabbi reached out to the father and asked “I don’t understand. It seems like you’re completely removed from Judaism where you don’t even resemble in any way, being a Jew, why would you care then if your son is circumcised?
The father answered, “I made my choice not to practice Judaism however if my son ever decides to pursuit the idea of being Jewish I don’t want the brit Milah to be an obstacle, to stand in his way, if he wants to return.”
Rabbi Chaim Berlin would cry when reading this particular passage, for a dove never strays too far from the nest for he knows that no matter what, he’ll always return. The same thing applies to us Jews. Even though we stray a bit far in our hearts we always know we can return. That is loyalty!
Michal offers today’s couple an example of exemplary conduct, even under duress. Given that we spend a great deal of time under the duress of day to day life in our fast paced world, Michal remains a role model who performed loyalty to her husband, a trait that G-d seeks in all of us.

A final story. When Rabbi Pinchas Sheinberg’s wife was very ill laying in a coma at the hospital, the old and frail Rabbi would make it his business to visit her every day. One of the nurses asked the Rav Sheinberg, “Rabbi why do you come here every day? She doesn’t see you”. He replied “I’m not here so my wife to see me; I’m here to see my wife”..


On the seder night one can basically ask and receive a favorable response more so than on any night. The reason is G-d had mercy on the Jews that night even though we didn’t deserve it. It says USHMA TZA’AKATAM-he heard our screams and he had mercy.
Speech is a gift given to humans that thereby differentiates them from other species. It connects the heavens (spiritual) to earth (physical). In essence this is how we communicate with G-d. Anyone who understands the laws of prayer is aware that without verbalization our prayers are not as potent. Speech connects the world of thought to world of action. We then have to ask a basic question – If speech is essential for prayer to reach the eavens, how then did G-d just,hear our screams and respond? Didn’t we say verbalization is required? We see how clever Pharoah and the Egyptians were. They worked the poor Jews to exhaustion till they couldn’t think and express themselves. This was done by design. They knew the power of the Jew is through his mouth and they planned to stifle that weapon.
Now we see what a merciful night the seder is. Even without the speech, without the bridge between heaven and earth, G-d still listened and released us from bondage. However, today is our chance to correct, or perhaps one should say, fill the void, of not having speech that night. On the seder night we use our speech as a vehicle that transcends our prayers, our love, our commitment to G-d. We use the seder as a platform to accomplish the power of speech. The fifth step of the haggadah “Maggid-to tell over” so we can V’HEGADEDA L’BINCHA-tell our children. We arouse our children’s curiosity and encourage them to ask questions. Any child would automatically ask question after they recite the MA NISHTANA. How many fathers have come to me and asked me “What do I answer my son when he recites the 4 questions? This night is a night where everything is open for disscussion. Apparently the section following the MAH NISHTANA is the response by the patriach of the family, answering the child.

Miss Lorraine Schwartz wishing a happy Passover to all and would also like to dedicate in loving memory of her beloved grandfather Hanan ben El-Chanan and Ester, also in loving memory her beloved grandmother Rachel bat Tziporah, her mother Shulamit bat Rachel, her aunt Nava and her uncle Shmuel and Pinchas ben Efraim Cohen. MENUCHTAM BEH GAN EDEN…on behalf of their merit may the whole family see much success
Mr.and Mrs. Rafi Fouzailoff for peace and unity in the world especially among our Jewish nation, wishing all a chag kasher v’sameach to all of am Yisrael and we would also like to dedicate for refuah shelema Nomi bat Mazal and Yehuda ben Tzipora and Meyer our beloved brother in law
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Gad hatzlacha to all.

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Gad in loving memory Diana bat Sophie and for the hatzlacha, bracha and refuah shelema to all of klal Yisrael

The Alibayof family dedicating in loving memory of their father Shmuel Naman ben Yael and Joe’s mother-in-law Ruth bat Rivka and the brothers Aunt Aliza MENUCHATAM B’GAN EDEN

Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Gil in loving memory and honor of his parents Akiva and Esther Gil MENUCHATAM BEH GAN EDEN, may their ZECHUT be a bracha on the children, grandchildren and great grandchild

Mr. Jimmy Fellus and family dedicating in loving memory of his grandmother Rachel bat Shalm MENUCHATA B’GAN EDEN may on her zechut the family see much bracha

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph and Tali Ambalu in loving memory of the seven children that were killed NISHMATAM B’GAN EDEN

Anonymous for the health, parnasa AD BLI DAI- B’SHEFA, hatzlaha bracha, and abundance of Torah to Rafael ben Yehuda, Gavriel ben Yehuda, Yehuda ben Avraam, and their entire family as well to all of klal Israel. BEKAROV also a refuah shelema to Riva bat broocha Berta bat Osnat

Mr.and Mrs. Jack and Nora Abraham wishing everybody a chag kasher v’sameach

Ramin Nassimian and family would like to wish MAZAL TOV!! on the marriage of Robin and Mikey Rendel as well as Esther and Jason Rachmanim…..may both couples build a BAYIT N’EMAN B’YISRAEL, AMEN!!
MAZAL TOV!! to Kordvani and Ebrani families on the engagement of Mirriam to Mark…may they build a BAYIT N’EMAN B’YISRAEL…AMEN!!
Kordvani family would like to wish a refuah shelema to Shimon ben Chana
Mr.and Mrs. Isaac Cohen may all the revakim and revakot find their true zevugim this year AMEN!!
Mr. Michael Assouline, wishing success and a happy Pesach o all of am Yisrael may Michael have success in all his endeavors and parnasa ad bli dai!!!
Mr. and Mrs. Lev ((Larry) Kimyagarov wishing all of am Yisrael a Happy and kosher Pesach….and may Hashem bless us all with briyut and abundance of parnasa
Mr. and Mrs.Boris and Bella Kikov in loving memories of he seven children that were killed MENUCHATAM B’GAN EDEN
Dr. and Mrs.Yitzchak Rachmanian wishing parnasa and well being to his family and to all of klal Yisrael also l’lui nishmat Sion ben Nissan, Eliyahu ben Mashiach
Mr. and Mrs. David Itzhakov wishing a chag kasher v’samech to all
The Inoyatov family would like to dedicate l’ilu nishmat their grandfather Avraham ben Frecha MENUCHATO B’GAN EDEN
Mr.and Mrs. Yitzie Laub and family in loving memory of his father Aharon ben Yitzchak and also his father-in-law Avraham Yaacov ben Aharon MENUCHATAM BEH GAN EDEN
MAZAL TOV ON THEIR ANNIVERSARY!! TO…Mr. and Mrs Yehuda an Elana Aharonov, may they have hatzlacha bracha and see much nachat from their children..AD MEAH V’ESRIM AND ALWAYS K’MO ZUUG YONIM

The Abraham family would like to dedicate in loving memory of their father Yehuda ben Rachel MENUCHATO B’GAN EDEN

Mr. and Mrs. Yves (Avi) and Bracha Behar in loving memory of his mother Devorah bat Rina MENUCHATA B’GAN EDEN

Anonymous refuah shelema Gavriel ben Yocheved

Anonymous for the safe release of our beloved Rachamim
Mr.and Mrs. Eduard Kurayev for hatzlacha and bracha to all of klal Yisrael

Mr. and Mrs, Michael Aharonoff wishing hatzlacha bracha shalom u’briyut to the whole wide world

The Yusupov family in loving memory of their beloved mother Raya bat Mazal Yosipov MENUCHATA B’GAN EDEN

Malidani Jewelers, the meirov family for the refuah shelema Liza bat Sara Moshe ben Adina Yaffa bat Rivka Shlomo ben Yaffa and all of klal Yisrael

The Natanov family wishing hatzlacha to all of Am Yisrael

Anonymous for the refuah shelema of Avraham ben Rachel

Rabbi and Mrs. Uri and Ricky Sklaar for the well being of yours truly and all of klal Yisrael and may there be more Cups of Coffee this coming year

Mr. David Bodenhiem in loving memory of his father Naftali ben Avraham MENUCHATO BEH GAN EDEN

Anonymous hatzlacha to all of klal Yisrael


Shoshana Roza bat Ester
Shura Yoshua bat Chusni
Frumit bat Esther Malka
Yissachar dov ben Tzipora Faiga
Nissim ben Rachel
Oshrat bat Esther
Aliza Ruchama bat orly
Rachel Esther bat Mirriam
Ruth bat Keshuar
Tovah bat Mirriam Leah
Liza bat Sara
Moshe ben Adina
(Jerry)Chaim Yaacov Lev ben Sarah
Ruth bat Ahuva
Yitzchak ben Minu
Channa Leah bat Sarah
Avraham ben Karmela
Tzvia bat Leah
Yechezkel ben Bracha Parvoneh
Shimon Yaacov ben Henya Faiga
Asher ben Nurit
Shmuel ben Bat Sheva
Meir Chai ben Menashe and Mazal
Avraham ben Rachel
R’ Efraim ben Rachel
Ruth bat Aliza and Jacob
Baruch ben Tamara
Daniel Refael ben Channa
Devorah bat Rachel
Anonymous refuah shelema to all of klal Yisrael
Tovah bat Mirriam Leah.
Gavriel ben Yocheved
Jack Nager
Leah Taub bat Mirriam
Irina bat Sonya
Shura bat Mira
Elana Bracha bat Adina

Sharon ben Shmuel Sarah
Irina bat Sonya
Ruth bat Keshvar
Yitzchak David ben Shulamis


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One of the flavors of pesach

charosetCharoset is a delicacy that is one of the delicious, if not thee delicious flavors of Pesach

We eat it at the pesach seder. Our family actually consumes it throughout the holiday. It makes a healthy snack and could be considered enough for a meal.
Its color and texture are meant to recall mortar (or mud used to make adobe bricks) which the Israelites used when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt as mentioned in Tractate Pesahim (page 116a) of the Talmud. The word “charoset” comes from the Hebrew word cheres – חרס – “clay.”

Charoset is one of the symbolic foods on the Passover Seder Plate. After reciting the blessings, and eating a matzah “sandwich” combining charoset andmaror, the remainder is often eaten plain, spread on matzah.

Take dates, raisins, pomegranates, dried apricots, apples, dried plums, all kinds of nuts( walnuts, almonds etc.) place them in a blender or food processor in small batches. Pulse (turn the machine on and off quickly) several times until the nuts, dried fruits and apples are the desired size. Ad wine before serving