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The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"

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T'kheleth Radzin PDF Print E-mail
Written by Webmaster   
Friday, 03 September 2010 14:58


מה דעת הרב על התכלת של ראדזין? והאם אני יכול להטיל אותה בציצית?

תודה רבה,

א' מ'


אין ספק אצלי – וכן היא דעתו של כל חוקר וחכם הראוי לשמו שראיתי – שה'תכלת' של ראדזין אינה התכלת הכשרה לציצית. ואין כאן המקום להאריך בכך. אין כל איסור בהטלתו, אך גם אין בכך טעם. התכלת המופקת מן הארגמון קהה-הקוצים (Murex Trunculus) המשווקת על ידי עמותת 'פתיל תכלת' היא התכלה המוזכרת בתורה.

בברכה המשולשת בתורה

דוד חנוך יצחק בה"ר חיים רפאל

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Last Updated on Friday, 03 September 2010 15:24
Choosing Between Conformity and Truth PDF Print E-mail
Written by HaRav   
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:14



I don't remember exactly the source, but I learned that when one is learning Torah, he should
begin learning like an apikores and question everything he learns. I was almost positive this was from the forward to the Mishne Torah, but I was mistaken...



1. It was during my first year of y’shiva study in Israel that I first heard this thought expressed. My R’am said: “When you learn G’mara you should learn like an apiqoros. If Abaye says something, you have to ask how he knows it, what’s it based on. Don’t just accept without thinking.”

2. I do not know of a source for this statement, but it is good advice. It is not condoning apiqorsuth. The purpose of such a statement is to encourage a person to think and question, and not to stop asking until an answer is forthcoming.

3. By ‘answer’ I mean a real answer: one that is serious and not an insult to one’s intelligence. Don’t be put off by people who prefer not to think; if necessary, find another teacher or hevrutha.

4. You probably thought that this statement originated with Rambam z’l because this was Rambam’s approach: to have the highest respect for the human mind and intellect which according to Rambam (More HaN’vukhim 1:1) is the Sselem Elohim in us.

5. When one fully appreciates this, one is truly free to think and understand, and act on that understanding – even if others hold otherwise.

6. There are two kinds of people: a) those who place conformity above all else, wanting to be able to live with others, and b) those who place truth and mind above all else, wanting to be able to live with themselves. The former are the overwhelming majority of humanity; the latter are few and far between.

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:15
Maror: Lettuce or Horseradish? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harav   
Sunday, 17 April 2011 02:31


Kvod HaRav,

Is it preferable to use horseradish or lettuce for maror at the seder? I have heard different opinions and am confused, and so are many people I know. I have heard of people who use both. How can the Jewish people not know what to use for maror?


1.       Maror comes from the word ‘mar’ meaning bitter. As everyone knows ‘bitter’ is distinct from ‘hot’ or ‘sharp’. Horseradish and wasabi are sharp but most certainly not bitter; grapefruit and coffee are bitter but most certainly not sharp.

2.       The Mishna (P’sahim 2:6; TB 39a) lists several species of Y’raqoth which may serve as maror. Y’raqoth are not ‘vegetables’ as the term is used in English (or as the term y’raqoth is misused in spoken Hebrew today). Y’raqoth, literally ‘greens’ (from the Hebrew word for green ‘yaroq’), are leafy, green vegetables, which is why according to R. Y’hudha one says “Bore Mine D’shaim” (Who created different types of greenery) on y’raqoth as opposed to “Bore P’ri Ha’Adhama” (Who created the fruits of the earth) for foods such as potato or onion (Mishna B’rakhoth 6:1). The Mishna states further that one may use the stalks as well as the leaves; the roots, on the other hand, may not be used for maror  (see R. Ya’aqov Emden’s Sidur Beth Ya’aqov, Hagada). From all the above we know with certainty that maror is an edible leaf, such as lettuce, and not a root such as horseradish (which is also not green).

3.       The Y’raqoth listed in the Mishna are: Hazereth (Romaine lettuce), Ul’shin (chicory), Tamkha, Harhavina (eryngo), Maror (sonchus). The B’raytha quoted in the Talmud provides the following signs for maror greens: a white, milky substance is exuded by the stalks/ribs when cut, and leaves that are silvery green (i.e. not very dark green). See Pisqe Riaz P’sahim 2:5:2. This fits precisely with the following description of Romaine lettuce: “The thick ribs, especially on the older outer leaves, should have a milky fluid which gives the romaine the typically fine-bitter herb taste… Romaine is the usual lettuce in Middle Eastern cuisine.” None of the above is remotely reminiscent of horseradish which “is mainly cultivated for its large white, tapered rootThe leaves of the plant, while edible, are not commonly eaten, and are referred to as "horseradish greens.”

4.       I do not know what ‘horseradish greens’ taste like (because they are “not commonly eaten”). Even if it were true that ‘horseradish greens’ may be used for maror, the fact is that those who use horseradish eat the root, not the leaves.

5.       The foregoing should convince all but the most obstinate or obtuse that Romaine lettuce (as opposed to round ‘iceberg’ lettuce) or the other greens mentioned are maror, whereas horseradish root is clearly not. It  follows that one does not fulfil the misswa of maror with horseradish.

6.       The reason many Ashk’nazim use horseradish is very simple: in colder European climes leafy, green vegetables were unavailable at Pesah time. R. Ssvi Ashk’nazi (the Hakahm Ssvi) makes this point explicitly. The Hakham Ssvi (Vol. 1, 119), the Ya’abess (Sidur Beth Ya’aqov mentioned above) and Hatham Sopher (OH 132) – all Ashk’nazim – write that one should use Romaine lettuce for maror.

7.       This is just one more example that clearly demonstrates the fundamental truth that Galuth (Exile) is inimical to authentic Tora Judaism. In answer to your question: the Jewish people know exactly what maror is. All Jews except those who found themselves in cold, northern climates where leafy greens were unobtainable have always used lettuce and the like. For those who became used to the Galuth-mode Judaism of northern Europe, it is high time to reacquaint themselves with the real McCoy.

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim



Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 May 2011 13:44
Written Tora or Oral Tora? PDF Print E-mail
Written by David S.   
Tuesday, 22 March 2011 19:18

Which came first - the written Tora or the oral one?

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Some Post Purim Musings PDF Print E-mail
Written by Asher Keren   
Monday, 12 March 2012 00:00


by Asher Keren

I really do not like what Purim has become, pagan mask parties, people getting drunk to no end and my ear drums exploding every time the evil Haman is mentioned during the reading of the Megilat Ester. So I, as do many others, try as hard as possible to stay focused. When someone greets me with a "Purim Sameach", I simply answer as follows: "Purim Sameach to you as well, and may God protect us from our enemies and may we and God together destroy all of our enemies, all of the modern day Amalek!".

Seems to me a reasonable enough response, but more and more the following refrain is thrown back: "First, we must destroy the Amalek within each and every one of us "(funny, I always thought we were the Children of Israel, the exact opposite of Amalek) and then comes the gematria game: "as you know, Amalek and doubt ('safek') are the same number in gematria". I just smile as I do after eating a full plate of cholent, knowing that this too will pass.

Yesterday I read how the venerable rabbi of Tekoa, Menachem Fruman, wrote that there is more than one way to skin a tiger, or an Amalekite, that is; one need not kill him, one need only to cause him to change his colors, give him some flowers, some chocolate, explain to him the evil of his ways and presto chango, we have destroyed his Amalekite tendencies and thus fulfilled the deeper Mitzvah within. After all, as it is shown in the Talmud, even some of the ancestry of the Amalekites ended up as Jews studying in the Beit Midrash.

Nice in theory, Menahem Fruman, but personally I do not plan to wait around until Ahmadinejad sees the light. I expect he will try to turn out the lights on us first. (Besides, oh spiritual Fruman the magic man, wouldn't the sainted Abraham Abulafia – yes, that's right, the one that tried to convert the Pope and almost got butchered in the process – tell you that the name Haman is contained in the name Ahmadinejad - go mediate on that for a few moments!)

At any rate, and to the point, well, you get the point. Purim is about being saved and about destroying the enemy. Very spiritual, but also very physical; just as are the commandments of the Torah. It is actually the Reform branch of Judaism that always tries to run away from the physical performance of the commandments by emphasizing the "deeper meaning", where still applicable, and thereby providing the perfect excuse for not taking the commandments literally. Further, as the first Reformer Abraham Geiger stressed, the nationalistic elements of Judaism should be suppressed and give way to the universal tendencies of the tradition. This latter "theology" is what we see when we take the concept of Amalek and channel it into our own selves and further, try to stress the destruction of the Amalekite ideology over that of the Amalekite people.

This is what Orthodox Judaism today is becoming; a "kosher" version of Reform Judaism. Obviously, the search for spirituality in the performance of the physical is an entirely legitimate branch of traditional Jewish experience and thought – but when this tendency sublimates the commandment to the spiritual realm solely, well, let's just say that the Sabbatean Geiger is probably now smiling from his grave, thinking "Purim Sameach", no doubt. As each generation is confronted by its Hitlers, Chmelnikis, Ahmadinejads , Nassers or whomever, let's praise the Israel Defense Forces and pray that they and their soldiers are up to the task of confronting Amalek, the physical Amalek; unless, of course, Menachem Fruman achieves a breakthrough in the very near future. Which he won’t, of course.

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Last Updated on Friday, 23 November 2012 16:15
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