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Section: Questions   Category: Hashkafa
  A r c h i v e s
Hashkafa - quote
Submitted by Alisa Avruch  Answered by

This sentiment has been achoed many times in various forms since the Ramban wrote of the concept of being a Naval B'Rishus HaTorah, an abomination of a person without violating a single commandment.

Although I don't know off hand who said this particular quote, surely a person can be technicaly perfect in his mitzvah observance while not putting any G-d into it.

I once read from Rav Dessler in Michtav MeiEliyahu regarding a person who with anger berates his children for their halachic wrongdoings as a clear example of a person who keeps the Mitzvos as a family tradition and not as service of Hashem. He cannot tolerate his children turning from HIS OWN ways and therefore out of frustration berates them, which is far from the will of Hashem.

posted:2015-07-16 23:29:37  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - follow up
Submitted by Yosef  Answered by Rav Peretz Moncharsh

HaRav Moshe Feinstein zatzal writes a number of places that even a handshake is not permitted. While ostensibly it is not "derech chiba", who can be certain of themselves that they will not have hirhurim.

Certainly massage is much more problematic than a handshake.

posted:2010-04-04 08:46:54  (2) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - mashiach
Submitted by shlomo  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank
Answer: Apparently, you do not feel like you’re in galus if you can ask why we are “obsessed” with moshiach.

Baruch Hashem we are indeed currently living in a generation of religious tolerance and we are thankful to Him for allowing us to practice our religion and learn Torah in relative peace.

But, there have always been pockets of time throughout our long and painful history where Jews have enjoyed relative calm not unlike the present for a good number of years/decades/centuries and Yiddishkeit flourished. We have sporadically been under the protection of the various monarchies that we found ourselves. We have periodically been elevated in our social status as advisors to rulers and have been respected as a wise and learned nation. Inevitably this has always come to an end and anti-Semitic persecution reared its ugly head once more.

The Ramban writes in Parshas Vayishlach on the pasuk, V’revach tasimu bein eider l’eider, that maaseh avos siman labonim and Yaakov was beseeching Hashem to create a “revach” a calm peaceful existence between tzoro l’tzoro.

This is where we find ourselves at the moment. We are in the revach stage of galus. May Hashem continue this stage until the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

We have been persecuted and downtrodden for thousands of years and you ask why we yearn to return to our homeland and world peace shall reign?

But you don’t even need the history lesson to feel that we’re in galus. Israel’s neighbors want to drive us into the sea. The world seriously expresses the view that Jews in Israel are committing heinous and barbaric crimes against their timid Arab neighbors. Have they lost their mind? Where do you think this viewpoint comes from? Love of the Jewish people? I recently read a poll taken in Europe and Australia and a whopping 35% declared that Jews are the root cause of the current world economic crisis! Where do you think that ridiculous viewpoint stems from? Eisav Sonei L’Yaakov!

I believe the underlying basis for your question is that you are viewing Moshiach as a reward for our actions and therefore you ask is olam haba’a not reward enough?

The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim Ch. 22 and in Hilchos Tshuva Ch. 9 explains why Klal Yisrael, our Neviim and our Gedolim have always yearned for Moshiach. He writes that it was not for physical enjoyment, not so we can dominate others and not for the respect we shall surely earn. Rather, it is simply so we can at last be free of tyrannical rulers who have prevented Klal Yisrael from properly immersing themselves in Torah and Mitzvos. We will finally be able to focus on Torah and flourish, unfettered by shibud malchiyos. Clearly, we are not asking for reward. We are merely asking of Hashem the opportunity to serve Him better.

Two more points to ponder if I may.

If you examine our daily tefilos and even our daily mitzvos we find that we do many things zecher l’mikdash. We are only performing the mitzvos to the best of our ability here in galus without our Beis Hamikdosh. But is this perfection? We are currently serving Him with a watered down version of the real thing! Shouldn’t we yearn for the beis hamikdash to be rebuilt and we can once again be m’kayim the Torah k’tikunah?

Pesach is almost upon us. We will have to make do with pointing at the karah instead of sacrificing and eating the Korban Pesach. We will have to imagine eating the chagiga instead of looking at an egg. We will have to say zecher l’mikdash k’Hillel instead of eating the real thing. We will wash our hands before Karpas to show the children how we used to conduct ourselves when we were makpid on tumah and taharos. The mitzvah of maror is downgraded to a D’Rabanon without the Pesach. Is it any wonder that we invoke Tisha B’Av on this exalted day of cheiros by eating a mourner’s egg dipped in saltwater?

True, the tzadikim of previous generations were great people and served Him to the best of their ability and received olam haba’ah. But think of it like an exiled king who escapes together with his servant and the servant faithfully attends to the king’s needs to the best of his abilities. The servant will be rewarded too for his dedication and service. Would he not serve his king better were he back in the palace? Would it not upset the king were the servant to intimate that the current arrangement is just fine and why should he yearn to restore the monarchy?

Which brings us to our last point.

Hashem, our King is in galus too. We long for moshiach to bring back Kvod Malchus Shomayim like it says in Yeshayahu, Vayimalu ha’aretz deah es Hashem. Tikun Ha’olam, the purpose of creation will finally be upon us when everyone recognizes Hashem as creator of the universe, follows His word and serves Him faithfully.

Nissan is the zman of Ge’ulah. We truly want Moshiach now.

Tzvi Frank
posted:2009-03-24 01:51:00  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - To shave or not to shave
Submitted by Chaim  Answered by Rav Peretz Moncharsh

It seems to me that you may shave. Even thought they may accommodate you this time, but it is likely to have repercussions down the road and label you "uncooperative". Since it seems you already mentioned the issue to your commander, you might want to tell him that you are not compromising on you religious principles, you are following them according to the ruling of your Rabbi and chaplain.

posted:2009-03-19 19:29:39  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - Kohen Funeral
Submitted by Robert  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank
Answer: Hi Robert,

That a Kohen cannot become ritually impure by coming into contact with the dead is clearly defined in the Torah itself. This is not a Rabbinic ordinance but rather a Biblical one.

However, close relatives such as a mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter and spouse have a special leniency applied (also at a Biblical level) which allows the Kohen to bury his loved ones. This leniency does not extend to grandparents and grandchildren unless there is no one else to help with the burial.

That said, this does not mean that a grandchild should not attend the funeral of his grandmother!
Accompanying the deceased on his/her final journey and comforting the mourning is a HUGE mitzvah often expounded upon in the Talmud.

There are workarounds that allow a Kohen to attend the funeral while not transgressing the law. In many funeral parlors there are loudspeakers that allow a Kohen to attend while standing just outside the building, some funeral homes have a special Kohen room where the Kohen is allowed to enter and there is a window separating the two places so he can view and be a part of the funeral. Indeed I have attended funerals that the Kohen was in that special room (constructed according to the legal guidelines spelled out in the Talmud) and delivered a eulogy to the entire audience. We all saw him, heard him and all felt that he was part of the funeral and was respectful to the deceased and to the mourners. After the funeral parlor when the deceased is on the way to be buried the Kohen joins the procession albeit at a distance from the coffin. At the cemetery the Kohen can attend again by keeping a certain distance following the halachic rulings clearly spelled out in the Talmud., if there is a gate erected he can come even closer. All he needs is a knowledgeable Orthodox Rabbi to point out to him the various ways that he can work around the Biblical Law and still be able to pay his respects.

After the actual burial, the son can no longer come in direct contact with the grave, but again, Kohanim in our community bury their loved ones in choice areas of the cemetery where they would be able to come in quite close to the grave in order to pay their respects over the following years. All that is required is the halachic education necessary to understand what he may or may not do.

I hope this addresses your concerns.

Tell me if they don't!


Tzvi Frank
posted:2009-02-17 00:23:44  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - Ahavas Hashem
Submitted by Jake  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank

Hi Jake,

You are quite right.  The mitzvah of Ahavas Hashem is certainly not a simple physical attraction.  In fact, according to classic commentaries quite the opposite is true. Inhibiting ones attraction to the physical is a precursor to working on Ahavas Hashem.


Ahavas Hashem is a work of a lifetime that requires much introspection, meditation, character refinement, perseverance and self-control.


The Chovos Halivavos dedicates the last and highest shaar to this lofty attribute and enumerates fourteen requirements that one must undertake before aspiring to become a true Ohev Hashem. There are many different levels in Ahavas Hashem. Every individual with his own personal character traits has specific obstacles that he will have to overcome to reach his own level of Ahavas Hashem. No two people are the same.


The full answer to your question is somewhat beyond the scope of this forum as it isn't a simple formula or concept to memorize. Learning through the classic sources is crucial for a thorough understanding of this mitzvah and applying oneself to the principles contained in these works takes hard work but is most definitely attainable.


Your second question regarding giving up ones life in the service of Hashem is inextricably intertwined with a good understanding of the mitzvah of Ahavas Hashem. Your premise that a person can reach greater heights by perfecting himself further were he alive is perplexing. Can a person reach a greater spiritual level than allowing his physical life be taken due to his spiritual conviction? Has this person not elevated himself to the highest possible level of spiritual perfection? A person who voluntarily gives his life has wholly internalized the idea that the spiritual transcends the physical. This person has come to the absolute recognition that his whole physical entity exists only for its spiritual potential.


How is it possible for someone to perfect himself to a higher degree than total perfection???


May Hashem never have to test us to the point that we must give our lives to demonstrate our Ahavas Hashem. May we rather have the opportunity to demonstrate our total Ahavas Hashem through LIVING Ahavas Hashem to our fullest potential as is articulated in the Chovos Halivavos mentioned above as well as in numerous other sefarim that deal with this lofty concept.


Hope this helps.


Tzvi Frank

posted:2009-02-03 07:21:56  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - Stoning a Child??
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank
Answer: Actually, I believe most people get the wrong message from the disobedient child law.

To me it is a message of hope.  Let me explain.

The talmud states that there has never been a case and there never will be a case in which a disobedient child will be put to death.

The myriad requirements to be fulfilled before he can get to this stage in the process are staggering.

One of the final requirements that is the most interesting to me, is the requirement - spelled out in the Torah, that both the father and the mother have to physically drag the child to the court and agree to the stoning. Meaning that even if all other requirements are met and this child has reached the nadir of the lowest dregs of society. Still, if either the father or the mother has any hope at all that this child can improve, if any one of them can see past his failures and discern a hidden and buried spark of potential in their child, if any one of them just BELIEVES in their child - he is completely off the hook and the death penalty is revoked.

Such is the power of seeing the good in another person. It can literally be the difference between life and death.

Like I said, I see this as a message of hope and the awesome potency of the belief a parent has in their child.

I have heard this sentiment expressed by my rebbe Rabbi E. Svei shlita.
Tzvi Frank
posted:2009-02-01 00:30:41  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - the burden of a mother's death
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank
Answer: I feel for your pain and for your and your families loss.

Sally, there is a huge difference between forbidding the removal of life support to becoming a murderer! There are numerous complex halachic issues involved and Jewish legal authorities have sparred over this ruling back and forth for many years. You assumed you were doing the right thing by not prolonging your mother's suffering. I wouldn't classify your actions as murderous by any account. That said, it is true that according to many preeminent authorities it is indeed forbidden to remove a person from life support, as life in any form or situation is so precious.

So. What happened, happened. Your intentions were admirable although influenced by a lack of Jewish education.

My recommendation to you based on my conversation with Torah personalities is as follows. The Talmud is quite clear that a person's actions can directly affect a parent's standing after their death. A mitzvah observed on this world by a child can elevate a father or mother's position in their afterlife in a most positive way. It has even been described as infusing them with "life" by your good deeds and mitzvoth which you perform in their memory and for their merit. This is a classic fundamental Jewish concept.

For your mother's merit I would start learning the laws and the mitzvos of the Torah. I am unsure of your current level of observance but you can always add something or improve upon it if you already are observant. If you haven't been observing the laws of Sabbath completely, start learning them and slowly incorporate those mitzvos and laws into your Sabbath observance. If you haven't been lighting Shabbos candles on Friday before sundown, now would be an excellent time to study the laws and meaning behind this practice and begin this special mitzvah that was performed by generations of Jewish women before you!  If prayer was never a big thing perhaps joining a study group to learn the underlying concepts and meaning of prayer can jumpstart a fresh relationship with God.

Through education, understanding and practice you will begin to truly appreciate the beauty of our religion, give your life an extra meaningful dimension and infuse your dear mother with life once more.

If you would like me to refer a number of excellent local organizations or educational material please reply to this email and I will do my utmost to help.

Warmest regards,

Tzvi Frank
posted:2009-01-22 04:32:06  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - Dreams
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank
Answer: We find in the Torah numerous examples of dreams with prophetic undertones, foretelling future events which ultimately were realized. For example, Yaakov's dreams with the ladder, Yosef's dreams about his brothers, Pharaoh's servants' dreams, and Pharaoh's dream. We also find various halachos which deal with dreams such as saying the prayer during Birchat Kohanim, the laws of Taanit Chalom (fasting for a dream), Hatovas Chalom etc. which were instituted to nullify any possible ill effects of a bad dream. So the Torah definitely ascribes significance and validity to dreams and their meaning.
Contrasting this we also find the well known Gemara that there is no dream that does not contain nonsense within it. The gemara in Berachos claims that a dream is merely a reflection of one's thoughts throughout the day. Another gemara declares that the dream itself has no intrinsic significance, rather, the interpretation of the dream is what lends it significance and importance. Meaning that the outcome of a dream can be swayed by its interpreter. If this is the case, it obviously can not be considered a communication from on high describing future events.
The Mishneh Brurah Siman 220 writes, based on a gemara in Berachos, that if a person had been suffering during the day and has a disturbing dream the following night, he need not worry as it is just a reflection of his turbulent daytime thoughts.
Apparently, according to Jewish thought, a dream MAY contain future events, warnings or messages but concurrently may also contain elements of meaningless nonsense.  Therefore, although we may certainly be perturbed about a particularly disturbing dream and the institution of Hatavos Chalom was created to address this concern, still, we cannot believe it in its entirety as some parts may have no particular validity at all.
Based on this understanding, the Shulchan Aruch states the following astounding halachah. If a person's deceased father appears to him in a dream claiming that were he to look in a particular location he would find a specific amount of money but that money does not belong to him, rather it belongs to charity. If the person awakens, searches for that money, finds it in the exact location described by his father and even sees it is the exact amount of money enumerated by his father, still, he may keep it for himself. Meaning, even if we clearly recognize the beginning of the dream as genuine and authentic, still, the second part may be the nonsense mixed in and he has no obligation to give that money away to charity!
So how does one ascertain whether his dream is true or not? Some authorities write that a person can determine whether his dream is of the prophetic type by examining the orderliness of the dream and by paying close attention to the impact it has on the dreamer. Others say the difference is between dreams that describe future events rather than past events. Most say that we cannot really establish which parts of a dream are real or not.
If the dream does agitate a person then he should follow the prescribed ritual called Hatavos Chalom the following morning and if he wishes he can accept a fast upon himself which in conjunction with tshuva (repentance) can effectively nullify a bad dream. If on the other hand it simply does not bother him, he may disregard it entirely.
Hope this helps!
Tzvi Frank
posted:2009-01-19 09:28:49  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - Massage
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rav Peretz Moncharsh
Answer: Never!!!
posted:2008-10-04 20:27:57  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - Yom Ha'atzmut
Submitted by Chaim  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank

Hi Chaim,

Apparently, the Chazon Ish felt that the Tosfos Yom Tov and the Rabbeinu Tam (who also instituted 20 Sivan as a fast day due to the Crusades/blood libels) were indeed worthy enough to propose this. For some reason the day fell into disuse after Rabbeinu Tam instituted it. The T"Y re-instituted it after tach v'tat and again it fell into disuse. Interestingly enough, the Rabbanim of Hungary re-instituted this day after the holocaust but again.....


posted:2008-05-09 14:29:33  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - brocho
Submitted by baruch  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank

Hi Baruch,

R' Aharon Kotler zt"l commented to a student on the occasion of the birth of the student's son about the phrase "The beris should be be'ito ubizmano", using both "eis" and "zeman" to denote its proper time. Similarly the famous words of Koheles, "Lakol zeman va'eis... everything has its zeman and its eis..." Rav Aharon explained the difference. If the baby is healthy, then the beris is at the pre-decided time, on the eight day.[Eis]. If not, then it will be at the right time for that individual baby.[Zman]. Ideally the beris would be at both.[Be'ito ubizmano].

An eis is a time that comes according to a prescheduled appointment, ready or not. It is a point in a shanah, in cyclic time that runs its celestial heartbeat regardless of human action. A zeman is a landmark in the course of progression. And so, one is "kovei'ah itim baTorah", one sets aside times for Torah.

The above was taken from http://www.aishdas.org/asp/mikeitz64.shtml see the rest of that illuminating article.

Hope this helps!


posted:2008-05-09 13:33:32  (1) comment   email to a friend

Hashkafa - Yom Ha'atzmaut
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank

Hi Daniel,

 We certainly should be thankful that Hashem has allowed us once more to learn and live in the Eretz Yisrael!

The question at hand is something entirely different. Since the miracle of Purim there have been many instances where the Jewish people have experienced miracles and some form of redemption. Still the gedolim of that generation felt that we have lost the power to institute a national Yom Tov to commemorate the event. Similarly, there have been many many unfortunate and tragic events in Jewish history. Still the gedolim felt that we have lost the power to institute a national day of mourning. Indeed, we find that Tish B'Av was designated as the day to mourn all the calamities that befell the Jewish people and kinos were written throughout the generations to this end. A new national day of mourning was not instituted.

What changed?

The answer to that very question is the reason why many Jews do not celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut. Think about what changed and you'll have your answer.

Kind regards,


posted:2008-05-08 18:36:05  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - Bais Hamikdash
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank

A parable if I may. Due to a horrendous accident in year 2020 in which multiple airplanes crashed, air travel was completely banned and enforced by the United Nations. Back to trains and boats. In the year 2040 a child playing with her model airplane asks, why do you yearn for air travel anyway? I am happy with my model planes as they are. Who needs the real thing?

Similarly, although tefilla is in the place of korbonos, it is only the "model arplane" of our spirituality. Can we really fly - like we know it - on a model airplane? Can we really soar spiritually - like we used to - without the Bais Hamikdash? Look around. Many many mitzvos and hanhagos that we perform today are merely modeled after how they did things in the Bais Hamikdash. It was where the Shechinah rested His presence on Klal Yisrael, it was the source of brachah for Klal Yisrael, it was divinely inspired spirituality at its perfection.

A second thing to think about. When I was younger. my Rebbe, in the name of Rabbi Schvadron, related a chazal that when Moshiach comes, everyone will remain forever and ever, on the same madreigah he was at the time. Work on yourselves while you can, he would admonish. A bochur asked Rabbi Schvadron, then why should we yearn for Moshiach? Rabbi Schvadron slapped him. Hmmm. I heard this story when I was about 15. To tell you the truth I had the same question myself! If we will not have the ability to grow in our madreigot after Moshiach comes why are we yearning for Moshiach? I was just too scared to ask my Rebbi this question for fear that he will in turn slap me!!

After a number of years the answer came to me. HASHEM IS IN GALUS! THE SHECHINA NO LONGER RESTS IN THE BAIS HAMIKDASH! Perhaps I am so selfishly looking after myself but am I seeing the larger picture? Am I so blinded by my self pity that I cannot see the heartwrenching devastation of the Shechina being divorced from the Bais Hamikdash? From Yerushalayim? From His nation?

A third point to ponder. Is she really so happy in her present state? Has she ever heard the news reporting an antisemitic incident? Swastikas spray painted on a shul or school? Has she never been shouted at in the streets? Does she ever feel uncomfortable walking alone in certain neighborhoods? Even if she herself never experienced this, Jews the world over have. Eisav Sonei L'Yaakov and we are in galus. Although we are currently in a malchus shel chesed, things can change quite rapidly. History has proven itself time and time again. There is no question about it. WE  NEED MASHIACH NOW!

Hope this helps,


posted:2008-05-05 18:34:30  (0) comments   email to a friend

Hashkafa - Davening
Submitted by anonymous  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank


I would start by just  talking to Hashem without the siddur. Hashem hears and listens when you talk to Him regardless if it's Shemoneh Esrei or your own version. Just start talking to Him. Include Him in your private conversations and start working on your relationship with Him. That is what it's truly about. Building up a relationship with Hashem.

When you have a working relationship with someone and talk to her/him every day, is it so hard for you to ask something of her? Would you help me with...? Can you pick something up for me when you...?

Start small and make a point of being in a secluded place and TALK TO HIM!!! This is considered tefillah as well according to many poskim and to some you are even yotzeh with it. If you keep talking to Him about your daily issues etc. it will start to become easier to daven properly as well.

Another idea is to start learning Peirush Hamilos of tefillah on a basic and then advanced level.

Hope this helps,

 Kind regards,


posted:2008-04-29 12:59:43  (0) comments   email to a friend

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