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15 Shvat, 5781 - January 28, 2021 | Mordecai Plaut, director | Bereishis- 5781 Published Weekly
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The Holy Aspect of Vaccination

We must be vigilant and obedient to the call of the `eyes of the flock`; our spiritual shepherds, to be careful and be vaccinated! Whoever takes lightly the directives of medicine, especially if he does so intentionally through idealism, can possibly be carrying the virus, spreading it throughout his environment, wreaking havoc and death.

Theoretically, if it were clear to all that he had in his possession a vial of bacteria or viruses and was circulating in our midst, threatening to release the stopper in a public place, like in even worse scenarios, wouldn't everyone closet himself in his home for protection? So how can it be that people continue to dance in mass events without internalizing the so obvious significance of their deeds, especially when sometimes they even delude themselves into thinking that they are performing a mitzvah?





Bundists in the Slobodka Yeshiva

In this piece, the author of the Seridei Eish, HaRav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg zt"l, describes an incident that took place in the early days of Communism in Russia, in the beis medrash of the Slobodka Yeshiva. It was first published in Haneeman, Teves 5688 (1928), and the incident took place somewhat earlier.





Bearer Of The Undying Torch: An Appreciation of Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman zt'l, in the Seventy-fifth Year Since His Petiroh

The story of Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman, who passed away over seventy-five years ago, contains important lessons for understanding about the survival of Torah in the spiritually barren and desolate land that America was a hundred years ago. Rabbi Drachman grew up in a thoroughly American environment, but he nonetheless became firmly and deeply committed to Torah true principles that were, in his person, completely at ease with his all-American heritage. Rabbi Drachman saw, with a fresh and open American eye, the flowering of HaRav Hirsch's Frankfurt, as well as the vitality of eastern Europe. He attended the funeral of Sir Moses Montefiore, officiated at the funeral of Harry Houdini and was on familiar terms with Seth Low, one of the legendary presidents of Columbia University. He also translated Hirsch's The Nineteen Letters and was responsible for Mordechai Kaplan's dismissal from his post as a rabbi in New York City in an Orthodox congregation solely because of the latter's heretical views. His fascinating story helps us understand some of the important roots of the American Jewish community.





Rain and Kinneret Watch

by Dei'ah Vedibur Staff

Our weekly report of the rain and the level of the Kineret - Winter, 5781.

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From Our Archives

Mitzvos, Miracles and Prayers

Compiled from the lectures of HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt"l

In the first part, HaRav Scheinberg explained that when we put on tefillin we are supposed to think about what Hashem did for us in taking us out of Mitzrayim. The Ramban teaches us at the end of Bo that, "As a result of the tremendous open miracles, a person will acknowledge concealed miracles -- for they are the fundamental basis for the whole of Torah. A person has no share in the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu until he believes that all things and every occurrence, all of them, are miracles; that they do not operate by any natural or automatic process, either for the masses or for the individual."

"You redeemed us from Egypt . . . and liberated us from the house of bondage. In famine you nourished us and in plenty you sustained us . . ." (Pesukei Dezimroh of Shabbos; Nishmas Kol Chai)


by R' Zvi Zobin

R' Nosson was an elderly Jew who used to daven in our Beis Medrash. Our minyon was comprised mainly of teenagers and we felt litle in common with him. Sometimes he frowned at some of our antics, but mainly he would come into the shul, take a gemora from the shelf and was soon lost to the world.

One day he became ill and was taken to the hospital. We went to visit him. We came to his bed -- and there he was with a gemora propped up against his knees, learning as calmly as if he were in the Beis Hamidrash.

R' Nosson learned gemora because he enjoyed it. He did not need newspapers or videos or computer games to make him happy -- he was content with just a blatt gemora. Learning was his favorite recreation.

One of our main goals is to make learning so enjoyable for the talmid that he will learn gemora because he enjoys it; to feel the challenge of first grasping the plain meaning of the gemora and then thinking deeper and deeper into it, spontaneously finding himself amongst the Rishonim and Acharonim.

Tu Bishvat: Man as a Tree

by HaRav Arye Leib Shapira

Part III

In the first part, HaRav Shapira quoted the Chidushei HaRim and others who say that the essence of Tu Bishvat is chidushei Torah. They also note that the trees grow on Tu Bishvat based on the rain that falls earlier. The Maharal says that the cycle of crops that is referred to in the Regolim of the year parallels the cycle of man's development, from the beginning at Pesach to the final ingathering on Succos. Why this parallel? Because Hashem wants to tell us that all the material world has a spiritual parallel; when we are showered with rain down here, there is a corresponding spiritual blessing being showered upon us Above. That also underlies the entire expression of the Torah which is written referring to material blessings but alluding to the parallel spiritual blessings.

The second part carried this further and noted that there are four characteristics definitive of a tree: 1] Its roots always absorb [nutrition from the ground] even if it does not grow any fruit. 2] It grows tall. 3] It provides its surroundings with shade. 4] Its branches may be replanted in the ground. In the second part, HaRav Shapira explained how the first two characteristics have their parallel in man: 1] He must always retain his connection to his spiritual roots, and 2] "We must use deeply entrenched roots in order to cultivate pride, but any intelligent person understands that a person's pride is only a means for submitting himself to the Creator by being humble at heart."

Your Shadow is Pleasant

Let us now move on to the third quality: "Your shadow is pleasant." The gemora in Eruvin (43b) says, "If someone wishes to ascertain the height of a palm tree, let him measure his own height and the length of his shadow as well as that of the shadow of the tree, and he will thus ascertain the height of the palm tree." We see that the third quality is dependent on the second quality. The tree's powers of absorption are responsible for its great height and its great height creates a big shadow. The higher a tree, the larger is its shadow.


Av, 5765 - Kislev 5766 (August-December 2005)