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What B'rakha on Massa? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rav Bar-Hayim   
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:30

What B'rakha on Massa?


When I lived in Israel I was taught that on matzot after pesach one said mazonot before and birkath hamazon afterwards if the person ate a shiur. I think this is the sefaradi psaq. What should I say?


1. Shalom 'Alekha. This is a relatively new idea, and is accepted only in certain S'pharadi circles. Both Ashk'nazim and Temanim have always said Hamossi on massa.

2. The argument that one should say m'zonoth on massa is extremely weak. How can something be m'zonoth during the year and HaMossi on Pesah?  

3. This all began because people began wondering what the difference between crackers and massa is. One difference is that a cracker is not considered bread by anyone, and only if eaten as a bread substitute is it considered to be bread. See Rambam's MT B'rakhoth 3:9. Hard massa is a form of bread, just like hard, dry toast is a form of bread.

4. Another difference is only apparent to someone who appreciates the fact that real massa is soft and pliable more or less like a lapha or pitta, except that it's not hamess. That is the type of massa referred to in TB P'sahim 7a where the Talmud discusses what to do if one finds some mouldy bread-like substance during Pesah and is unsure if it is bread (hamess) or massa. No-one would suggest that that type of massa is m'zonoth.

5. This is the type of massa we make in my home. This year I bought 1 pack of Rav Mahpud's soft massoth out of curiosity; I wanted to see what the "competition" is doing. Their massa was quite good, like a heavy saluph, but ours are just as good... if not better.

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 April 2012 13:22
To Whom Qabala May Concern — The Authenticity of the Zohar –Update 02 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Webmaster   
Sunday, 20 May 2012 00:00

From the Rav's Blog published 2012-05-20



To Whom Qabala May Concern — The Authenticity of the Zohar –Update 02

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim 28-02-65 │ 20-05-2012

Shavu’a Tov. And a meaningful Yom G’ulath Y’rushalayim.

I wish to recommend a series of lectures by Rabbi Alan Brill entitled “Introduction to the Kabbalah”, which can be found at http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/712013/Rabbi_Alan_Brill/Introduction_to_the_Kabbalah_01. This link was sent by a reader – whom I thank – in the wake of my recent post “Response to a reader regarding Qabala and the Zohar”.

I cannot vouch for the entire series of over 20 lectures. I can tell you, however, that I listened to the first lecture, and my impression is that this series may be helpful to many seeking to come to grips with and reach their own conclusions regarding Qabala, the Zohar and related issues.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 11:33
Understanding Kabbalah-Sefiroth: Ten in One? PDF Print E-mail
Written by HaRav Mikha LIndenberg   
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 20:01


Sefiroth: Ten in One?

HaRav Mikha Lindenberg

One of the thorny issues in understanding Kabbalistic doctrine involves the ten sefiroth.   There are two fundamentally different ways one can relate to the sefiroth: either they are created entities, tools brought into existence by God in order to create the world and direct it, or they partake of the essence of God.  This is not a new discussion, and was the subject of much debate, some of it quite acrimonious, among Jewish sages and kabbalists in the Middle Ages and afterwards.

Some Kabbalists, notably the Ari, distinguish between different elements of the sefiroth.  The "body" or vessels of the sefiroth are of a different nature than their "soul"; according to this system, the latter can be said to partake directly of the essence of God.  However, a close look at the system of the Ari presents a more complex picture; in his expositions on the world he called "Aqudim", he explains in great detail how the vessels of the sefiroth are in reality coalesced expressions of the same light that inhabits them, "hardened" because of their initial distance and separation from the light.  In other words, the vessels of the sefiroth also are comprised of the essence of God, yet in a more conceptually corporeal form in relation to their lights, or "soul".

The essential problem with this outlook, and others like it, is that it "splits up" the essence of God into separate entities.

One can respond that even the "souls" or "lights" of the sefiroth do not actually partake of the essence of God.  For this we must quickly survey the concept of Simsum, or self-contraction of God or His light to create a "place" as it were for creation.

According to the Ari, the "space" cleared out by this original act of contraction was perfectly spherical.  Following this contraction, a "ray" of the surrounding, infinite light of God ("or En sof") entered the cleared-out space (the "Halal") and the interplay between ray and halal created the primordial sefiroth.

One of the predominant characteristics of the Ari's Kabbalistic system is the existence of a continuum from God to all levels of reality, between God and the infinite light surrounding the halal and the ray that enters the halal.

This gets us onto some very dangerous ground.  Because, if we posit an essential relationship between the sefiroth and God, we cannot avoid the conclusion that God's essence split up into ten.  Some Kabbalists have come up with ingenious ways to mitigate this dilemma, but the problem nevertheless stares us in the face.

Believing that God's essence is ten-in-one is of course a most pernicious, grievous form of heresy. 

One cannot ultimately avoid this theological pitfall except through the following: the ray which entered the halal is entirely a created entity, brought into existence by God in order to create the world.  It does not partake at all of the essence of God.  And therefore, the sefiroth are entirely created entities.    

A line in Sefer Yesirah, a Kabbalistic work with a greater pedigree than perhaps all others, sheds light on this issue.  It says (Chapter one), "[the sefiroth] prostrate themselves before His throne".  How are we to understand this if the sefiroth are not created entities? The sefiroth are conceptualized as entirely distinct not only from God, but also from His throne!

If one wishes, one can see a parallel between this and the aforementioned doctrine of the Ari. A throne is used for the king to present himself to his subjects.  This can parallel the ray that entered the halal, as it too is described as a tool or means for presenting the King of Kings to the entire created universe. However, the Sefer Yesirah is unambiguous: this throne is entirely separate and distinct from God.  Likewise, if there is room for the Ari's system, it must be based on an unequivocal statement that the ray that entered the halal, and by consequence the sefirot it generated, are created entities. 

All else opens the door to entirely unacceptable notions about God.

In conclusion, it should be noted that this position was espoused by many renowned Kabbalists over the centuries, including Menahem Recanati, the Ramak, and the Gra.  In confirming it, one cannot be accused of resorting to relying upon a little-known, tenuous “minority opinion”. The only novelty here, if any, is adding the author or authors of Sefer Yesirah to this venerable list.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 March 2013 19:21
Baking Bread in "Fleischig" Oven PDF Print E-mail
Written by harav   
Monday, 16 July 2012 06:33

Baking Bread in "Fleischig" Oven

Yom 2, 26-04-65 — 26 Tamuz 5772 — 15-07-2012


We have a single oven in our home, which we cook basari in. The oven is clean - there are no "meat splatters" all over the insides. I cook bread in this oven (I found a source for grain grown in E"Y, and the bread is just supreme).

Question 1: Can I toast the bread cooked in the oven in our "halevi toaster"? And, if so, can I put butter on the toast?

Question 2: If I toast the bread in the basari oven, can I put butter on the toast?

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!


1. Some Pos'qim hold that according to the Talmud Bavli (P'sahim 76b) all agree that l'khathhila one may not roast a piece of kosher meat together with a piece of non-kosher meat in the same oven. B'dhi'avadh, i.e. where this has been already done, Rav forbids eating the kosher meat and Lewi permits it.

2Other Pos'qim, such as the Ran (to Riph Hulin 32a), prove from the above-mentioned discussion of the TB that Lewi permits the roasting of the kosher meat in the same oven as the non-kosher even l'khathhila. This is borne out by the Talmudh Y'rushalmi (T'rumoth 10:2) which says so explicitly.

3. The G'onim and most of the Rishonim were poseq like Lewi b'dhi'avadh, including Halakhoth G'dholoth, Riph, Rashi, Rambam, Rashba and Ran. L'khathhila, according to these Pos'qim, we do not do so.

4. The TB in P'sahim also discusses the status of bread baked in the same oven together with meat. Some Pos'qim hold that it may be eaten with milk, others forbid this.

5. The above applies to the two items being in the oven simultaneously. If the non-kosher meat was roasted first and removed, and only then was the kosher meat placed in the same oven and roasted, there is no basis to claim that it is asur even according to Rav. The claim that some remnant of the former may be still present in the oven is far-fetched and incorrect for a number of reasons: a) if it's not the same day, it cannot impart a desirable flavour (nothen ta'am liphgham), and b) even if meat was roasted in the oven that very day, the matter that may still exist on the walls of the oven is minute in amount and irrelevant. Not one of the Rishonim claims that this is an issue. The same applies to bread and meat.

6. You may therefore bake bread in your 'b'sari' oven and later eat it with butter. You may also toast it in your 'halavi' toaster. It is advisable, but not essential, to put foil or a baking pan under the bread when baking.

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 18:27
Car Accident – HaGomel? PDF Print E-mail
Written by HaRav   
Thursday, 06 December 2012 18:21

Car Accident – HaGomel?


Yom 5, 22-12-65 — 22 Kislew 5773 — 06-12-2012



Shalom Mori

Yesterday I was involved in a car accident. Another driver ran the light and smashed into my driver’s-side door. Flames started coming out of the back of the car. I thought I was dead. I jumped out the passenger-side.

Do I need to say HaGomel? What about saying something every time I pass that intersection?



1. One does not say HaGomel in such a case. See Maharal (N’thiv Ha’Avodha Chap. 13) quoted below.

בפרק הרואה (שם נ"ד ע"ב) א"ר יהודא ד' צריכים להודות ואלו הן יורדי הים והולכי מדברות ומי שהיה חולה ונתרפא ומי שהיה חבוש בבית האסורים ויצא וכו' מאי מברך אמר רב יהודא ברוך גומל לחייבים טובות שגמלני כל טוב ואמר אביי צריך לאדויי קמי עשר' דכתי' וירוממוהו בקהל עם מר זוטרא אומ' ותרין מנייהו רבנן דכתיב ובמושב זקנים יהללוהו. ואלו דברים שצריכים להודות אל השם ית' דוקא מפני שהדברים שבאין על האדם הם ארבע, וזה כי האדם כאשר הוא במדבר ואינו מוצא במדבר מה לאכול ולשתות ואין לו צרכיו ראוי שיגיע אליו מיתה מצד זה שהוא משולל מכל דבר שצריך אל האדם, וכאשר הוא יורד לים באים הגלים לשטוף אותו בכח ואין דבר יותר גדול וחזק כמו הגלים שבאים על האדם בכח לשטוף אותו. הרי הראשון מצד ההעדר שאין לו כל והוא מצד השלילה, ודבר זה שהוא הים אינו שלילה רק בא עליו דבר בכח מבחוץ והנה זהו הפך הראשון. אמנם החולי הוא מצד האדם עצמו שאינו חסר דבר כמו מי שהוא במדבר ואין דבר בא עליו מבחוץ כמו גל הים רק החולי הוא באדם עצמו שיש בו שנוי מזג, והוא אמצעי בין הים ובין המדבר. ויש עוד דבר רביעי כאשר הוא מסור ביד האדם והוא בבית האסורים, שכאשר נתון ברשות האדם אז האדם פועל בו כל אשר ירצה והוא פועל בחירי ורצוני. ומה שאמר שצריך להודות בפני עשרה ושנים מהם רבנן, כי עיקר ההודאה היא כאשר הש"י עשה לו דבר כמו זה שהציל אותו מן המיתה ונתן לו החיים על כן נותן הודאה אל הש"י, וכמו שאנו אומרים מודים כו' על חיינו המסורים בידך ועל נשמותינו, ומפני כי האדם יש בו נשמה קדושה לכך צריך עשרה לתת הודאה בתוכם, כי לקדושה כמו שהיא הנשמה ראוי לה מספר עשרה וראיה לזה כי אין קדושה בפחות מעשרה (ברכות כ"א, ב') וצריך שיהיו שנים מהם רבנן, כי הנשמה של אדם היא שכלית אבל אין האדם שכלי לגמרי רק מקצת, ולכך צריך שיודה בתוך עשרה ושנים מהם רבנן אבל אחד אינו נחשב מקצת מן עשרה שהם רבים. כלל הדבר כי האדם יש לו נשמה שכלית והנשמה קדושה, ולכך יתן ההודאה תוך עשרה ושנים מהם רבנן כפי מעלת הנשמה שהיא קדושה. ועתה יש בני אדם שכאשר זרקו אבן עליו ולא הגיעו האבן מברכין גומל חסדים טובים, וכל זה מנהג של עמי הארץ כי אף אם רדפו אחריו בחרב ונמלט אין זה מן הארבעה אשר צריכים להודות, ולכך אמר מנינא לומר שלא יברך כי אם על ד' דברים, וזה כי אלו ד' דברים כבר היה בים, וכן כבר היה במדבר, וכן כבר היה חולה, וכן כבר היה בבית האסורין ויצא ממנו, אבל דבר אחר שלא היה בצרה רק שלא בא עליו צרה אינו בכלל הארבעה שצריכים להודות.

2. You do need to recite the following b’rakha (see Rambam’s MT B’rakhoth 10:9) whenever you pass by there:

הָרוֹאֶה מְקוֹם שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה בּוֹ נִסִּים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, כְּגוֹן יַם סוּף וּמַעְבְּרוֹת הַיַּרְדֵּן--מְבָרֵךְ בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה; וְכֵן כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה בּוֹ נֵס, לָרַבִּים.  אֲבָל מְקוֹם שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה בּוֹ נֵס לַיָּחִיד--אוֹתוֹ הַיָּחִיד וּבְנוֹ וּבֶן בְּנוֹ מְבָרֵךְ כְּשֶׁרוֹאֶה אוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם, בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה לִי נֵס בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה; אוֹ, שֶׁעָשָׂה לְאָבִי נֵס בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה.  הָרוֹאֶה גּוֹב אֲרָיוֹת, וְכִבְשָׁן הָאֵשׁ--מְבָרֵךְ בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה נֵס לַצַּדִּיקִים בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה.

I hope you are OK.

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 December 2012 18:26
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