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"Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm." Graham Greene

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The Attack On HaRav Shteinman-Where Did We Go Wrong? PDF Print E-mail
Written by HaRav   
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 19:56


HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman was physically attacked in his home by a haredi avreich.

HaRav David Bar-Hayim explains in the following video interview how this shocking event could have transpired:











Last Updated on Sunday, 10 November 2013 20:11
What Is Torath Eretz Yisrael? PDF Print E-mail
Written by HaRav   
Saturday, 26 October 2013 19:19

The phrase "Torath Eretz Yisrael" is bandied about so often that some may not realize 

to what it actually refers. Rabbi David Bar-Hayim clears the haze in the

following video interview:


In English:



In Hebrew:



Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 10:10
Praying For Rain & The Non-Existent Pilgrims PDF Print E-mail
Written by HaRav   
Saturday, 19 October 2013 22:05


When should we begin asking for rain in Israel? The answer is the same in both the Talmud Yerushalmi and the Talmud Bavli as Rabbi David Bar-Hayim explains in the following video interview:


In English:



In Hebrew:



Last Updated on Sunday, 10 November 2013 20:13
Updating Prayer and Piyutt Composed in Galuth-Exile PDF Print E-mail
Written by SIR   
Monday, 07 February 2011 01:07


This article, and the suggested rewordings of the piyuttim mentioned herein, were authored by a scholarly rabbi, who, due to his humility, signed his initials only as, in his words, “I did not want the good name of the illustrious authors to be cheapened in any way by the mention of mine”.

In a responsum which was published during Chanukah 5771, Rabbi David Bar-Hayim wrote:

“L’kha Dodhi is a beautiful piyutt; the problem is that several stanzas describe a reality that is, B’H, a thing of the past. For example:מִקְדַשׁ מֶלֶךְ עִיר מְלוּכָה. קוּמִי צְאִי מִתּוֹךְ הַהֲפֵכָה. רַב לָךְ שֶבֶת בְעֵמֶק הַבָכָא. וְהוּא יַחֲמוֹל עָלַיִךְ חֶמְלָה.. So too:לֹא תֵבוֹשִי וְלֹא תִכָלְמִי. מַה תִשְתּוֹחֲחִי וּמַה תֶהֱמִי. בָךְ יֶחֱסוּ עֲנִיֵי עַמִי וְנִבְנְתָה עִיר עַל תִלָהּ. . .

When R. Sh’lomo AlQabess z’l wrote these lines they accurately described the reality of a helpless and hapless people, persecuted, at the mercy of its enemies, with no control over its destiny. This is not our present reality. What we need is an alternate text. We are able today in Eress Yisrael to discern an awakening of  Tora thought and culture. A similar problem exists regarding Ya Ribon that is sung by many on Shabath. The words וְאַפֵיק יַת עַמָךְ מִגּוֹ גָלוּתָא are inappropriate...”

I saw these words as a challenge.  Would I be able to "update" any of these beautiful lines? I thought that it was just possible that the result might justify the effort.

Lekha Dodi is a piyyut composed by Rabbi Shelomoh ben-Moshe ha-Levi Alkabetz z"l, who lived more than 400 years ago. Although he was born in Greece he came on aliyah to Eretz-Israel and settled in Safed among the kabbalists who assembled around the Ari, Rabbi Isaac Luria z"l. The prayer rite that we now know as Kabbalat Shabbat was created by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero z"l at the request of the Ari. (In the ancient nusach of Eretz-Israel there was a different kind of Kabbalat Shabbat ceremony.) After the psalms which represent the six working days Rabbi Cordovero included Lekha Dodi, the piyyut composed by his son-in-law. (The poet's name is an acrostic formed by the first letter of each stanza.)

There are two major themes in the piyyut: Shabbat and Redemption. The former needs no further explanation, but the latter theme needs a few words of explanation. The era of the Safed kabbalists was an era when a great yearning for the redemption of the Messianic age was most pronounced. There was a general feeling that surely the time was nigh when God would take pity on his people, restore them to Eretz-Israel, rebuild Jerusalem and send King-Messiah. If the present world was to last one week of Divine years each of one thousand years [Psalm 90:4] then the era of the kabbalists represented Friday (Erev Shabbat) before the advent of the Great Shabbat. (According to this kind of reckoning in our time we are but a couple of hours before "candle-lighting"!)

The first two stanzas of the piyyut are about Shabbat.  In the third stanza the payyetan encourages Jerusalem: too long has the city awaited her redemption. In the fourth stanza the people of Israel are assured that the ultimate descendant of King David is very soon to appear. This theme is continued in the fifth stanza. In the sixth stanza Jerusalem is encouraged yet again: soon her children will return and rebuild her ruins. The next two stanzas indicate the expected downfall of Israel's enemies and the good fortune that awaits the suffering people when the long-awaited descendent of King David's ancestor, Peretz, will appear. The last stanza returns us to the theme of Shabbat with its clear reference to the customs of Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Yannai described in the Gemara (of the the diaspora) [Shabbat 119a and Bava Kamma 32b].

Two stanzas in particular are problematic nowadays, as the Rav pointed out in his responsum. Surely we are privileged at this time to live during the beginning of the process of redemption. Our nation has returned to our homeland and Jerusalem is no longer a ruined city, but the vibrant capital of the State of Israel. Redemption is not an instant process: in the Gemara of Eretz-Israel we are told that "this is how Israel's redemption will come about: to begin with it will be little-by-little, but then it will increase in brightness stage by stage." [Berakhot 1:1, Yoma 3:1]. Much of the process towards the ultimate and complete redemption has already been accomplished. It follows that not everything that was true when Rabbi Alkabetz was alive is true today. Not to recognize the wonderful developments of our own day and age are ingratitude at best and downright untruthfulness at worst. So, I decided to try and rework those two problematic stanzas.

Lekha Dodi is a piyyut that has an aura all of its own. Any attempt to meddle with even one stanza of the poem must try to maintain something of that aura. The poem is full of biblical quotations or allusions; furthermore it follows both a kind of metre and a rhyme scheme. However we try to reword a problematic stanza must maintain all three of these: metre, rhyme and biblical allusions.

I showed my reworking with some trepidation to the Rav and he was gracious enough to ask me to write these words of explanation. Here is my reworking of the first problematic stanza:

מִקְדַּשׁ מֶלֶךְ, עִיר מְלוּכָה,

כְּלִילַת יֹפִי, קִרְיָה נֶאֱמָנָה,

קוּמִי אוֹרִי, עִיר לֹא־נֶעֱזָבָה,

עֲטֶרֶת צְבִי, צְפִירַת תִּפְאָרָה.

Sanctuary of the King, regal city,

Perfect in beauty, Faithful Town,

Arise and shine, city never-forsaken,

Crown of beauty, diadem of glory.

I decided to keep the first line of the stanza  because there is no need to change it and also because it maintains the author's acrostic signature. "Perfect in beauty" is a phrase from Lamentations (2:15); "faithful town" comes from Isaiah (1:21). "Arise and shine" is, of course, a phrase that we easily recognize from Isaiah 60:1, and "city never-forsaken" comes from Isaiah 62:12. Isaiah also provides us with the last two epithets for Jerusalem: they come from 28:5.

* * *

The other problematic stanza in Lekha Dodi I have reworked as follows:

לֹא תֵבֽוֹשִׁי וְלֹא תִכָּלְמִי,

שִׂישִׂי מָשׂוֹשׂ, צַהֲלִי וָרֹנִּי,

בָּךְ יִפְרְחוּ כָל בְּנֵי עַמִּי,

כִּי נִבְנְתָה עִיר עַל תִּלָּהּ.

No longer ashamed or downcast,

Exult, shout for joy and chorus aloud:

All my people prosper in you,

For the city has been rebuilt on her ruins.

"Exult" is an allusion to Isaiah 66:10 and "shout for joy and chorus aloud" is to be found in Isaiah 12:6. "All my people prosper" is an allusion to Isaiah 66:14. The meaning of the last line of the stanza is completely altered by the addition of the first word.

It should be possible to sing these stanzas regardless of the melody selected.

* * *

Another problem mentioned by Rabbi Bar-Hayim in his responsum  is that of a stanza in the piyyut Yah Ribbon Olam, that we sing at the table on Shabbat. The problematic stanza reads:

אֱלָהָא דִּי לֵהּ יְקַר וּרְבוּתָא, / פְּרוֹק יַת עָנָךְ מִפּוּם אַרְיָוָתָא,/ וְאַפֵּק יַת עַמָּךְ מִכָּל גָּלוּתָא, / עַמָּךְ דִּי בְחַרְתְּ מִכָּל אֻמַּיָּא.

The problem is, of course, that here we sing a plea that God take His people out from their exile. We, living in Eretz-Israel, in Medinat-Israel, are certainly not in exile! It is true that we are still beset all around by foes who would destroy us, so surely our plea to God should be that He save us from our foes. I have changed only one line in this stanza, which now reads:

אֱלָהָא דִּי לֵהּ יְקַר וּרְבוּתָא,

פְּרוֹק יַת עָנָךְ מִפּוּם אַרְיָוָתָא,

וְשַׁזֵּב יַת עַמָּךְ מִכָּל עָרַיָא,

עַמָּךְ דִּי בְחַרְתְּ מִכָּל אֻמַּיָּא.

God of prestige and might,

Deliver Your flock from the lions' mouth,

Save Your people from all foes,

The folk that you chose from all peoples.

* * *

Another problematic stanza is the first one of the piyyut "Barukh El Elyon". This beautiful poem begins by praising God for having given us the wonderful day of rest, which delivers us from "horrors and sighing". We pray that God will seek out Zion, the rejected City, which will then relieve the soul which aches for redemption. Here, again, I have changed very little. The problematic stanza now reads:

בָּרוּךְ אֵל עֶלְיוֹן אֲשֶׁר נָתַן מְנוּחָה

לְנַפְשֵׁנוּ פִדְיוֹם מִשְּׁאֵת וַאֲנָחָה,

הוּא יִשְׁכֹּן בְּצִיּוֹן עִיר הַנִּכְבָּדָה,

וְיָסֵר תּוּגְיוֹן מִנֶּפֶשׁ נֶאֱנָחָה.

Praised be God Supreme, Who gave the rest,

That saves our soul from horror and sighing.

He resides in Zion, the noble city,

And removes the ache from a sighing soul.

In offering my meagre efforts I rely on the merits of the original authors: Rabbi Shelomo ben Moshe ha-Levi Alkabetz z"l, Rabbi Israel Najara z"l, Rabbi Barukh ben Shemuel z"l from Mainz.

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Last Updated on Friday, 22 November 2013 13:29
Army & Torah: Is There A Contradiction? PDF Print E-mail
Written by harav   
Saturday, 12 October 2013 22:27






The haredi establishment claims that army service is at odds with Torah values.

Is this indeed the case? Hear Rabbi David Bar-Hayim in the following video interview:





Last Updated on Monday, 14 October 2013 21:35
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