Exploring Judaism

This site is dedicated in memory of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg who were murdered at their Chabad House in Mumbai. This is the place to learn more and ask those questions you were always too shy to ask.

5:48 AM

Pirkei Avos Chapter 3

Posted by Scholar

"Reflect upon three things and you will not come to sin." (3:1)

QUESTION: There is a "wondrous Midrash" which says Adam sinned because he only saw two, but not three. What is the interpretation of this Midrash?
ANSWER: Akavya ben Mahalaleil says, "Reflect upon three things and you will not come to sin: From where you came — from a putrid drop; And to where you are going — to a place of dust maggots and worms; And before Whom you are destined to given an accounting — before the Supreme King of Kings."

Adam was an exception among the entire humanity. He was the creation of G-d's hands. Consequently, "From where you came — from a putrid drop" did not apply to him. Thus, the Midrash is saying that Adam sinned because only two of the three things upon which to reflect and avoid sin applied to him."

"He has no share in the World to Come." (3:11)

QUESTION: The Mishnah (Sanhedrin 10:1) lists all those who do not have a share in the World to Come, why are these not mentioned there?
ANSWER: Since our Mishnah says Hamechaleil — one who profanes — hamevazeh — one who degrades — in present tense and does not say mi shechile — one who profaned — mi shebizah — one who degraded — in past tense, it is understood that the Mishnah is talking of people who are in a constant rebellious state against Hashem. They have no remorse and do not repent. Thus, they are included in the category of apikoros — one who disparages Torah and its scholars — which is listed there in the Mishnah.

"If there is no proper social conduct, there is no Torah." (3:17)

QUESTION: Why is there no Torah if there is no "derech eretz" — "proper social conduct"?
ANSWER: According to the Midrash (Shochar Tov 8:2) the angels opposed Hashem's giving away Torah to man, and wanted it to be left in heaven for them. Hashem told them, "You cannot receive the Torah since it states, 'You shall not cook a kid in its mother's milk' and when you visited Avraham, you ate meat and milk?"

Though angels do not eat physical food, out of respect to their host they altered their nature and ate in Avraham's house, since it was properderech eretz — etiquette — as our Sages say, "When you come into a city, conduct yourself according to its customs" (Shemot Rabbah 47:6). Thus, thanks to the fact that eating is customary in this world, and it is proper derech eretz to follow the customs of the place one visits, we became the recipients of Torah and not the angels.

1:19 PM

In Praise of Education

Posted by chanie

One can rarely hope for a greater or more fulfilling project than to guide a young mind on the start of the journey of life--nothing is more deserving of praise than to invest that mind with ideas, aspirations, ambitions and values.
-from this site

2:53 AM

Love and fear

Posted by Scholar

The reason why both love and fear are necessary: If man had only love of God, he would be accustomed to being continuously with God. Moreover, the love would be so impressed upon him that it would become his very nature. By virtue of fear joined to the love, however, he will be afraid to approach.

3:47 AM

Teaching from the Baal Shem Tov

Posted by Scholar

Yisaschar chamor garem-Issachar is a large-boned donkey.” (Bereishis 49:14) This verse indicates that “yesh-sachar (there is reward; ) that garam (is caused)  by chomer (physical matter).”

11:05 AM

Live In Them*

Posted by chanie

From today's Hayom Yom:

When my grandmother, Rebbetzin Rivka, was eighteen (in 5611, 1851) she fell ill and the physician ordered her to eat immediately upon awakening. She, however, did not wish to eat before davening; so she davened very early, then ate breakfast. When her father-in-law, the Tzemach Tzedek, learned of this he said to her: "A Jew must be healthy and strong. The Torah says about mitzvot, 'Live in them,' meaning bring vitality into the mitzvot. To be able to infuse mitzvot with vitality, one must be strong and joyful." Then he concluded: "You should not be without food. Better to eat for the sake of davening rather than to daven for the sake of eating;" he then blessed her with long life. [She was born in 5593 (1833) and passed away on Sh'vat 10, 5674 (1914)].

My father told this teaching of the Tzemach Tzedek to someone at yechidus, adding: "And this must be done with joy."

In other words, Torah is not about destroying the physical, but rather refining and elevating it. Granted, this sometimes is difficult. However, it is also the purpose of creation. And though it is difficult, because of its loftiness, we must always strive to do fulfill the requirements and expectations of Torah with Joy.

Chag same'ach.

*taken from

5:36 AM

To Ponder

Posted by Scholar

It is a great kindness of G-d that man remains alive after praying. In a natural course of events, death would have to result from exhausting all strength [while praying] after exerting oneself so much by concentrating on all the great intentions and kavanot

5:13 AM

And We're Back

Posted by Scholar

We apologize for the last week, lack of posts and also the site being a bit "weird." All issues seem to be resolved and we will be making up for the lack of posting this coming week. 

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Good Shabbos