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Ki Tetze
Are Women Permitted to Carry Weapons? Print E-mail
Tuesday, 22 August 2023

Sponsored by Laura Csillag with praise and thanks to HaShem on Daled Elul

In Parshat Ki Tetze, Dvarim 22:5 we read:

No male article (kli gever) shall be on a woman, and a man shall not wear a woman’s garment...

In the Talmud, Nazir 59a, the Braita teaches:

Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov says: From where do we know that a woman may not go out wearing weapons of war? It is learned from the verse “No male article shall be on a woman.”

The commentary on Nazir which is Meyuchas L’Rashi (associated with Rashi) points out that in Shoftim 5, Yael, the wife of Hever HaKeini didn’t kill Sisera with a weapon. Rather she killed him with a tent peg since women aren’t supposed to use weapons.

The Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvot Lo Taaseh 40 points out that “klei gever,” men’s articles can include armor and weaponry.

Does this mean that women can’t use weapons or are there exceptions?

Shu”t (Responsa) of Maharsham, Section 2: 243 explains that since Yael had the tent peg handy she used it to kill Sisera. However, if she needed to use a sword for protection then that would have been acceptable as well.

We see from here that if a woman needs a weapon for protection then she would be permitted to carry it.

Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 182:5 teaches: A woman may not clothe herself in men’s clothing (put on a helmet, wear armor etc.). Rama points out that this is what men wear according to the local custom.

We can learn from here that if it is the local custom for women to use articles such as guns then they would not be forbidden as they would not be in the category of men’s articles.

In Israel today, we see both men and women on a regular basis wearing army uniforms and carrying guns. These items are not considered men’s articles as they are commonly used by men and women.

May we merit to see true peace in Israel and throughout the world and may the prophecy of Yishayahu 2:4 be fulfilled: “…They shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not raise a sword against nation; no more will they learn to make war.”

Don’t tip the scales! Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 September 2022

Sponsored by Sharona and Josh Halickman commemorating the 27th Yahrzeit of Reva Margolin z”l 

In Parshat Ki Tetzei we learn about mitzvot that assure a fair and honest society as God abhors dishonesty.

In Dvarim 25:13-16 we read:

You are not to have for yourself in your pouch varying weight stones (ehven), large and small. You shall not have in your house varying measures (eifah), large and small. A fully accurate, just weight, you shall have, you are to have whole and honest measures; in order that you live long on the Land that HaShem, your God is giving you. Because HaShem, your God’s abomination, are all who do these things; all who do falsehood.

Sforno comments: After having mentioned the ways in which the benevolent presence of the Shechina (Divine Presence) can be assured for the Jewish people, the Torah reminds us that God will not tolerate corrupt justice. God does not even want us to own or keep instruments which are designed to be used in a corrupt, deceptive, manner, so that even without putting these instruments to use the owner/keeper has become guilty of violating a negative commandment.

Dvarim 25:17 states the famous verse: “Remember what Amalek perpetrated against you on the way when you went out of Egypt.”

Rashi explains why Amalek appears here: If you are deceitful with your measures and weights, you should dread harassment from the enemy as we learn in Mishlei 11:1: “Deceitful scales are an abomination to God, but a perfect weight is His desire” and in the following verse: “When pride comes, then comes shame...”

In Mishlei 20:23 we are taught: “False weights and false measures are an abomination to God and scales of deceit are not good.

Unfortunately there are many “religious” people who do not conduct themselves properly when engaging in business transactions. Therefore it is necessary to reread these passages every year. It should not only be about avoiding getting caught by the authorities, it should be about following the mitzvot between a person and God as well as following the laws between a person and their fellow person.

Even though most business today is no longer conducted with weights and scales and even cash is becoming a thing of the past, the same logic still applies. We must not cheat our fellow person!

Does marriage take precedence over the military? Print E-mail
Monday, 16 August 2021

Dedicated in Memory of my grandmother, Reva Margolin z”l on her 26th Yahrzheit

In Parhsat Ki Tetze (Dvarim 24:5) we are taught:

When a man marries a new wife, he shall not go out to the army, nor shall it obligate him for any matter; he shall be free for his home for one year, and he shall gladden his wife whom he has married.

This reminds us of the verses that were recited on the border of Eretz Yisrael that we read in last week’s Parsha, Parshat Shoftim (Dvarim 20:5-7) about those who are unqualified to fight:

Who is the man who has built a new house and has not inaugurated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the war and another man will inaugurate it. And who is the man who has planted a vineyard and not redeemed it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the war and another man will redeem it. And who is the man who has betrothed a woman and not married her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in war and another man will marry her.

There is a difference between the case in Shoftim where the couple is engaged and the case in Ki Tetze where the couple is already married. As we see in the Talmud, Sotah 44a:

The rabbis taught in a Braita: The verse in Ki Tetze states “he shall not go out with the army.” It could be thought that it is with the army that he does not go out, but he must go out to supply water and food to the troops and he must go out to repair the roads for the passage of the army. The Torah therefore states “nor shall [army service] be placed upon him regarding any matter.”

This teaches that the army has no claim on the groom who is within his first year of marriage whatsoever, not even for rear-echelon duties. Unlike the man who betrothed a woman but did not marry her yet, the man who built a home and did not yet inaugurate it or a man who planted a vineyard and did not redeem it yet. Those three categories would still be obligated in going out to perform the rear-echelon duties.

The Mishna, Sotah 44b states: The cases above, where the man would be exempt from fighting in the war all refer to a “milchemet reshut”, a voluntary war. However, in the case of a “milchemet mitzvah”, an obligatory war, all go out, even a bridegroom from his chamber and a bride from her chuppa.

The wars fought in Israel today fall under the category of “milchemet mitzvah”, obligatory wars (as described by the Rambam in Hilchot Melachim 5:1) since we are conquering the Land of Israel, protecting it and saving Israel from the enemy. Therefore, the groom would be obligated to go to war and according to some opinions even the bride, if not to fight, then to supply food and water to the soldiers.

During the last war in Israel, “Shmorei HaChomot,” there was at least one case of a bride and groom who had just gotten married that went directly to serve in the army. This is the reality that we live with.

May the time come when we will have true peace in Israel and will no longer have to send our brides and grooms out to fight.

Are Uggs Kosher? Print E-mail
Monday, 24 August 2020

In Memory of Netanel Vayzer on his First Yahrzeit.

May his neshama have an aliya

Last year, there was a controversy over whether Uggs brand boots and shoes were “kosher”. Why would there be an issue with clothing and footwear needing to be “kosher”?

We are commanded in Vayikra 19:19:

A garment that is a mixture of Shaatnez, combined fibers, shall not come upon you.

And in Dvarim 22:11:

You shall not wear Shaatnez, combined fibers, wool (tzemer) and linen (pishtim) together.

The Mishna (Kilayim 9:1) teaches:

The prohibition of kilayim (mixture of species) in garments applies only to wool and linen. No other kinds are forbidden to be mixed. Wool is restricted to that of a ewe or a ram.

If camel’s wool and sheep’s wool have been hackled together-to produce mixed cloth- if the greater part is camel’s wool, it is permitted to mix them with linen since the sheep’s wool is annulled (batel) by the preponderance of camel’s wool, so there is no kilayim. But if the greater part is sheep’s wool- it is forbidden to mix the wool with linen on account of kilayim. If it is half and half- it is forbidden to mix it with linen, on account of kilayim, since the sheep’s wool is not annulled.

The same applies to linen and hemp (kanbos, a fibrous plant) hackled together- if the greater part is hemp it may be mixed with wool, since hemp is not classed as linen.

Are shoes subject to the laws of kilayim?

In the Talmud, Beitzah 15a, Rav Papa said: Ardalin, undershoes, are not subject to the laws of kilayim.

Rashi explains that he saw in Tshuvot HaGeonim that Ardalin were placed under the shoes and goat leather was attached beneath them. The section near the heel was sometimes made of wool. According to Rav Papa, even if it also contained linen, it would not be considered kilayim as it was very hard.

Rambam points out that the skin of the heel is very hard and does not warm up the way that the rest of the body warms up. If it doesn’t warm you up, it doesn’t count as kilayim.

Uggs are for sure not Ardalin as they are very soft, not hard and they warm up the foot. So although there was discussion in the Talmud, Rashi, Tur (Yoreh Deah 301) and Rambam about Ardalin, a part of shoe not being susceptible to kilayim, it was definitely not in the Ugg family.

Since shoes traditionally have been leather, this has not come up very much until now.

What did they find to think that Uggs may be a problem?

There were seven styles of Decker’s Brand Uggs and slippers that a Shatnez lab in Lakewood, NJ tested and found to be problematic:

1. Blue Canvas linen Sneakers, 2.Black Ladies Slipper, 3.Pink-Red Canvas Shoe, 4.White Woolen Boots, 5.Striped Gray/White Woolen Slipper, 6.Pink Australian Shoe-Sneaker, 7. Black Moccasin/ Wool Fleece Lining.

However, according to the lab in Flatbush, Brooklyn, although there was a trace of linen, it was already batel before it was put into the shoe (like we saw in the Mishna above in Kilayim that if the majority is not wool or not linen and is spun together with another fabric it becomes nullified) so there is nothing to worry about. The lab in Williamsburg said that you only have to be concerned about something which has issues in at least 10% of the products that it produces. Seven styles are a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of Uggs footwear that has been produced over the years.

Unless you have one of the seven styles listed, you have nothing to worry about. Even if you have one of those styles you could follow the leniencies of the Flatbush and Williamsburg labs. If you want to be strict, you can get the Uggs tested to see if your pair even has linen or you can choose to stop wearing them.

So the answer is: Most Uggs are kosher as far as the laws of Shaatnez go. If you are uncomfortable wearing products that come from animals, then that is a whole other story.

Some things never change Print E-mail
Friday, 13 September 2019

War, violent teenagers, divorce, negligence, rape, mistreatment of the weaker populations, crooked courts…

These sound like the headlines of newspapers across the world today.

These relevant topics and many more are found in Parshat Ki Tetze. The parsha teaches the reality which is that all of these situations can happen and we have to be careful to prevent them. If they do happen, we must correct them and seek justice. The Torah does not mince words. These situations are out there and we need to know how to handle them.

Unfortunately, we have seen many wars since the establishment of the State of Israel and the IDF must continue on the path of being ethical despite what the rest of the world is doing. This can often be a big challenge, but our soldiers need to be taught what is right. Pre-army training programs, Mechinot, Yeshivot and Midrashot which prepare the soldiers before they enlist are often relied upon to teach the future soldiers proper ethics. These programs must be checked out to make sure that they are teaching correct values.

Over the summer, Israeli teenagers were accused of rape in Cyprus. These seventeen and eighteen year olds did not have a grasp on proper morals before setting off on their trip. I hope that these teenagers and others who have followed the story have learned from their mistakes. Rape or what may appear as rape should not be taken lightly.

The Torah was very open about divorce at a time when other cultures were not. The cases where the Rabbinate makes it difficult to carry out divorce procedures honestly and properly are very upsetting and we have to stand up for justice in order to carry out what the Torah requests of us.

The idea of negligence, especially at building sites in Israel is a big problem. This year alone, thirty two workers were killed due to negligence at building sites. We need to change the standards to ensure that this does not continue.

Often the weaker populations are mistreated as there is nobody to stand up for them. The Torah understood this and told us to specifically take care of the stranger, the orphan and the widow. We must go out of our way to make sure that they are not being abused.

The Torah is very clear about issues with crooked courts. We can’t allow twisted behavior to happen and both the religious and secular courts must be called out when they do not comply with the law.

With the elections upon us, we must follow the light of the Torah and work on correcting injustices that are taking place. Our goal should not be to separate from the Torah but rather to use the Torah’s values and true intentions as our guidebook.

he Mitzvah of Returning a Lost Object Print E-mail
Friday, 31 August 2018

Sponsored in Memory of Reva Margolin on her 24th Yarzeit

In Parhat Ki Tetze (Dvarim 22:1-3) we learn about the mitzvah of returning a lost object:

You may not observe your brother’s ox or his sheep lost and hide yourself from them; you must surely return them to your brother. But if your brother is not near you or you do not know him, gather it into your house and let it stay with you until your brother seeks it, when you must return it to him. And so are you to do for his donkey, and so are you to do for his garment, and so are you to do for any lost object of your brother’s that is lost from him which you find. You may not hide yourself.

What does the Torah mean by the “vehitalamta”, “hide yourself?”

Rashi explains the word “vehitalamta” to mean do not avert your eyes as if you did not notice it.

I have seen firsthand how this mitzvah can make a difference in people’s lives:

A few years ago, my husband, Josh was on a bus in Jerusalem and noticed a wallet lying on the floor. He picked it up and saw that it belonged to a student who attends a school near our home. He took the wallet and called the school for the contact information of the student. They made a time to meet and Josh returned the wallet. The student’s mother was so happy that she wrote a beautiful card and gave us a plant (totally unnecessary). She was shocked that anyone would go out of their way to return a wallet with money in it.

Last year, when a group of family members visited for my son Moshe’s Bar Mitzvah, we went on a TaNaCh Tiyul which began at the Begin Center. We sat outside waiting for the tour to start and when we went inside we did not notice that one of the family members left his TaNaCh and water bottle in a bag outside. When we got to the part where we had to read the Biblical passages from the TaNaCh, we noticed that the TaNaCh was missing. I quicly ran outside to bring it in but it was already gone. I felt bad that we lost a good TaNaCh but there was nothing that I could do.

A few days later, I received a phone call from a stranger who said that he was walking by the Begin Museum and saw a bag with a TaNaCh in it. He found our phone number inside of the TaNaCh. He asked if it belonged to us. He told me that he had it with him at work in the Old City and I went to pick it up. Everything was there, including the water bottle! I was so happy that the TaNaCh was not lost after all.

We see from these incidents that people in Jerusalem take the mitzvah of returning a lost object seriously, no matter what the value of the object and both the person who lost the property and the person who found it are happy when the mission is accomplished.

May we hold tightly onto our possessions but if they do get lost, let’s hope that other will take the mitzvah seriously and help return the objects to their rightful owners.

Judaism and Social Justice Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 August 2017

In memory of my grandmother, Reva Margolin z”l on her 23rd yahrzeit

Judaism is a religion that promotes social justice. We are taught to be giving throughout the year. During the high holidays in the “Unetane Tokef” prayer we recite the words: “Repentance, Prayer and Charity annul the evil decree”. On Sukkot, we invite “Ushpizin”, spiritual “virtual” guests as well as physical guests into our sukkot. On Purim we give “mishloach manot”, gifts to friends as well as “matanot l’evyonim”, gifts to the poor. On Pesach we invite all who are hungry to come and eat and the list can go on and on.

We are involved in social justice during life cycle events as well. The mitzvah of “hachnasat kallah”, provides whatever is needed for a poor bride to have a respectable wedding and the mitzvah of “levayat hamet” makes sure that everyone has a proper burial.

On a daily basis we are obligated in honoring parents, visiting the sick and doing “gmilut chasadim”, acts of loving kindness.

In Parshat Ki Tetzei, we see many mitzvot that protect the convert, orphan and widow especially when it comes to how they are treated in court.

Our parsha also teaches us the mitzvah of shichecha: if we are reaping and forget a sheaf in the field, we may not return and take it. Rather, we are commanded to leave it for the convert, widow or orphan, who were often poor as they did not have anyone to take care of them.

Today the mitzvah of shichecha may not be as relevant as many of us do not have fields, yet the message is very clear. Rashi explains that if we are blessed for unintentionally dropping a sheaf and not returning to pick it up, then we will be even more blessed if we drop something such as a coin intentionally so that a poor person may find it.

Acts of social justice are not limited to our own backyards. Exactly three years ago, during the Tzuk Eitan war, Rabbi Barry Gelman came to Israel on behalf of his congregation in Houston to help us deliver packages to the wounded soldiers in Israel’s hospitals. In a strange turn of events, now in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Houston community needs Israel’s assistance and many Israeli groups have already gone to Houston to help out.

Social justice is not new to Judaism and the concept really affects every moment of our lives. Whether it is a holiday, life cycle event or natural disaster we must continue to help those in need in our own communities and throughout the world.

Why I send my kids to public school Print E-mail
Friday, 23 September 2016

In Memory of my grandmother, Reva Margolin on her 22nd Yahrzeit

The story of the Ben Sorer U’Moreh (Wayward Child) which can be found in Parshat Ki Tetze (Dvarim 21:18-21) is every parent’s worst nightmare. A child who won’t listen to his father or his mother, is removed from the city, judged to be guilty and stoned to death. Although the Talmud (Sanhedrin 71a) states that there was never a case that was so bad that the child had to be stoned, the fact that this is in the Torah reminds us that we have to do our best to educate our children on the right path.

The right path does not have to be the expensive path.

With the start of the back to school season, there has been a lot of talk about the high tuition prices of Jewish day schools in the United States.

Twelve and a half years ago, my husband, Josh and I decided that we didn’t want to pay sky high prices for the same education that we had growing up in New York and Montreal. We wanted to fulfill the values that we were taught in day school by moving to Israel.

We packed up our four and a half year old and a new baby and started anew in Jerusalem with a large choice of schools. At that time, kindergarten was free. Now three and four year nursery schools are free as well.

For first grade, we chose Efrata, the local Dati Leumi (national religious) public school. Although it is a public school, there are still some fees which amount to a few hundred dollars a year.

In addition to the national religious school, there is also a secular public school as well as a TALI school which brings Jewish culture into the school without officially being religious. For those who are looking for something out of the box there are schools where religious and secular students study together as well as a school which integrates Jewish and Arab children. There are also Chardal (Charedi Dati-Leumi) and Charedi schools. Special education and special needs integration programs are also available for those who qualify.

Once the children hit junior high and high school, the fees go up in the religious schools (as they increase the hours) to about $2000 a year per child.

The classes in Israeli schools are large, with thirty-something students per class yet the students have all kinds of special classes and enrichment programs including music lessons where students learn to play the instrument of their choice for a nominal fee. Students who speak, read and write English study in advanced English for English speakers classes. There are even high schools for students who have just made aliya to help them slowly adjust.

For families who are willing to move to Israel, I suggest researching the schools in the city that you are considering moving to. Not every community has such a wide range of choices as Jerusalem but all you need is the school that is right for your child.

The future of the Jewish people is in Israel. The more people make aliya from the United States and Canada, the more North American values will be introduced. Israel is especially looking for English teachers so if you are looking for a career move you could really help Israelis of all ages brush up on their English.

In Mishlei, Proverbs 22:6 we are taught: “Chanoch lanaar al pi darko”, “educate your child in the way that suits his or her own unique nature”. There is no better place to do that than in Jerusalem.

Do We Have to Send Away the Mother Bird? Print E-mail
Friday, 28 August 2015

In Memory of Reva Margolin on her 21st Yahrzrit

In Parshat Ki Tetze, Dvarim 22:6-7 we read: “If you should chance upon a bird’s nest before you on the road in any tree or on the ground with fledglings or eggs, and the mother is sitting on the fledglings or on the eggs; do not take the mother with her offspring. You must surely send away the mother and the offspring take for yourself, so that you will benefit and you will live long.”


Does this mean that we are obligated to send away the mother bird even if we don’t need the fledglings or the eggs?


According to the Rambam (Guide 3:48): “The eggs which the bird sits on and the young that are in need of their mother, are generally unfit for food…in most cases this command will cause man to leave the nest untouched.”


Chatam Sofer and Chazon Ish are of the opinion that the mitzvah of sending the mother bird away is not an obligatory mitzvah , it only needs to be done if one should “chance upon a nest” and wants to take the fledglings or the eggs. Therefore, one does not need to search far and wide to find a nest in order to perform the mitzvah and even if one sees a nest, they only need to send the mother bird away if they plan to eat the fledglings or the eggs.


The formula of how to send the mother bird away is given to instruct those who want to take the fledglings or the eggs so that no anguish is caused to the mother bird. If one has no use for the fledglings or the eggs it is best not to disturb them.


Some may be zealous in trying to perform this mitzvah as the reward for performing it is long life. However, there are plenty of other mitzvot with rewards. Another mitzvah that promises long life is honoring your parents.


The mitzvah of sending away the mother bird is to protect the mother so that she doesn’t suffer from seeing her babies taken away from her. Surely if one doesn’t need the babies there is no reason to separate her from her young.


We can learn from here that if God wants us to be so careful about how we treat birds, how much more so should we be careful with how we treat other human beings.


I Love Lucy and Parshat Ki Tetze- What is the Connection? Print E-mail
Friday, 05 September 2014

I Love Lucy and Parshat Ki Tetze- What is the Connection?


In Memory of Reva Margolin (a fan of I Love Lucy) on her 20th Yahrzeit


Every I Love Lucy fan has seen the episode where Lucy and Ethel are supposed to be working in a chocolate factory but they end up spending most of their time eating the chocolate instead of working.


(If you haven’t seen the episode click on the following link) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnbNcQlzV-4


Are workers permitted to eat on the job?


In Parshat Ki Tetze, Devarim 23:25 we read: “When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat grapes as you desire, to your satisfaction; but you shall not put any in your vessel.”


According to the Rambam, this verse is referring to a hired laborer, as only a hired laborer would be permitted to go into his neighbor’s field.


According to the Mishna in Bava Metzia 7:2, Biblically, workers are permitted to eat from the produce that they are working with.


Torah Temima teaches that a person can eat the produce while he is on the job since eating will give him the strength to continue working all day.


Nechama Leibowitz points out that the Torah is protecting the laborer who should not have to endure the sight of appetizing fruit forbidden to him while at work.


If the sight of the fruit distracts him, the laborer will not be as focused as he should be on the job.


However, there are limits. Rashi says that you can eat as much as you want, but not gluttonously. Alshich says that if you overdo it and eat too much your body will get sick. Rather than satisfying your body, you should focus on satisfying your soul.


According to the Mishna in Bava Metzia 7:5, Man should not be ravenous. Even though he is technically allowed to eat as much as he wants, if he overdoes it, he will not make a good impression on his employer.


Permission to eat is only granted to the workers while they are working. They are not permitted to take any of the produce home for themselves or for family members without paying.


These laws only apply to one who is working in a field with produce that is attached to the ground. The Mishna in Bava Metzia 7:1 states that feeding the workers in other circumstances would depend on the local custom.


In I Love Lucy the boss clearly did not want Lucy and Ethel eating on the job. Therefore, Lucy and Ethel are obligated to listen to her and not eat the chocolate. As well, they ate way too much which could have caused them to get sick and they hid more chocolate in their hats and clothing which is never permitted.

Compassion for Animals Print E-mail
Saturday, 17 August 2013

In Parshat Ki Tetze we learn about compassion for animals from the following psukim (Devarim 22:6, 7): “If you should chance upon a bird’s nest before you on the road in any tree, or on the ground with fledglings or eggs and the mother is sitting on the fledglings or on the eggs; do not take the mother with her offspring. You must surely send away the mother and the offspring take for yourself, so that you will benefit and will live long.”


According to the Sefer HaChunch, we can learn from here that God’s desire is for the endurance of all of his species.


If we as people can ensure that the animals are well taken care of and that none of them will become extinct then we will be rewarded with a long life in this world as well as eternal souls in the world to come.


This reward is measure for measure. If we watch over God’s creatures, then God will watch over us.


I saw a beautiful story about a panda researcher in China who wore a panda costume to give mother like feeling to a baby panda who lost her mother.


I am not saying that we have to go that far out of the way, but it is important that we respect all of the creatures that God created.


The Gemara in Avoda Zara 3b talks about what God does during the during the day: For the first three hours of the day, God sits and involves Himself with Torah study, during the second three hours, He sits and judges the entire world, once he sees that the world is deserving of annihilation He stands up from the Throne of Judgment and sits instead upon the Throne of Mercy, during the third three hour period, He sits and provides nourishment for the entire world- from the horns of the antelopes to the eggs of the lice, during the forth three hour period, He laughs with the Leviathan sea creature.


We see from here that in addition to studying Torah and judging the world God concerns himself with the well being of the animals and so should we.


Kosher Clothing? Print E-mail
Friday, 31 August 2012

In Parshat Ki Tetze (Devarim 22:11) we read: “Do not don Shatnez (a mixture of threads), wool and linen together.”


According to Rashi, the word Shatnez is a mixture. We learn in Nidah 61b that the word Sha-t-nez can be divided into three words, Shua (combed or smoothed), Tavui (spun) and Nuz (woven).


Shatnez is a chok. The Torah doesn’t give us a reason for why Shatnez is prohibited. However, one can try to guess.


The Sefer HaChinuch states that according to the Rambam the priests of idolatry wore combinations of wool and linen and we don’t want to imitate their ways.


According to Rabbi Shraga Simmons, “mixing wool and linen upsets the environmental and metaphysical fabric of the universe. God created different species that work together in the symphony of creation. Our job is to respect and appreciate this diversity and help maintain this special orderliness.”


Rabbi Simmons brings a Midrash that states that since Kayin brought a korban (sacrifice) of flax (linen) and Hevel brought a korban of sheep (wool) and Kayin ended up killing Hevel it is better not to mix the two substances.


I am sure that it is no coincidence that in Vayikra, Parshat Kedoshim 19:17-19 we read: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart; You shall certainly rebuke your friend; but you shall not bear a sin on his account. You shall not take revenge or bear a grudge against the children of your people. You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am God. Keep my statutes; Do not cross breed your animals with different species. Do not sow your field with a mixture of different seeds. A garment that contains shatnez you shall not wear.”


Not hating your brother, loving your neighbor and not wearing shatnez all seem to be connected.


When we go shopping it is important that we make sure that the clothing that we buy is kosher and does not contain a mixture of wool and linen. There are experts who are available to check the clothing to be sure.


We see that there is holiness both in what we put in our bodies as well as what we put on our bodies and that even our clothing needs to be kosher!



Watch Your Language! Print E-mail
Friday, 09 September 2011

In Othello 3:3 William Shakespeare writes:

Who steals my purse, steals trash;

‘tis something, nothing;

‘Twas mine, ‘tis his and has been slave to


But he that filches from me my good name

Robs me of that which not enriches him,

And makes me poor indeed.


In Parsha Ki Tetze, Devarim 22:13-19 we see an incident of “motzi shem ra”, “slander” where a husband comes to hate his newlywed wife and tries to void her ketubah by accusing her of adultery.


If it is proven that the wife did not commit adultery, the husband must be fined one hundred silver shekels and give them to her father because he defamed a maiden of Israel and she will remain his wife, he may not divorce her all of his life.


Rashi points out that one transgression engenders another. The husband transgressed the commandment “Do not hate” and ultimately he reached the point of malicious slander.


Watching what we say is extremely difficult. On Yom Kippur, (a month from today) each time we say the Vidui-Al Chet (confession) we will mention eleven sins connected with speech:

“For the sin that we have sinned before You…

-with the utterance of the lips (vitui sefatayim)

-through harsh speech (bedibur peh)

-with insincere confession (bevidui peh)

-through foolish speech (betipshut peh)

-through impure lips ((betumat sefatayim)

-through denial and false promises (bichashash uvichazav)

-through evil talk (lashon hara)

-through scorning (bilatzon)

-with idle chatter of our lips (siach siftoteinu)

-by gossip mongering (berichilut)

-through vain oath-taking (bishvuat shav)”


The opposite of one transgression leads to another is that one mitzvah leads to another so let’s focus on observing more mitzvoth!



Fashion Isn’t Black and White Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 August 2010

How many times have you heard a religious woman being asked if she wears pants? What exactly is meant by that question? Are pants men’s suit pants? Are they ski pants? Are they baggy sweatpants?  Are they pink pants with sunflowers on them? Are they jeggings (jeans + leggings combined= very tight pants)?


Depending how you define pants, you may find that some styles are halachically acceptable while others can be problematic.


In Parshat Ki Tetze, Devarim 22:5 we read the words: “No male article shall be on a woman, and a man shall not wear a woman’s garment.”


The main prohibition here is trying to resemble the opposite sex.


Tur, Yoreh Deah 182 explains that “A woman should not wear clothing that by local custom is deemed to be exclusively male”.


After reading the Tur it is clear that men’s suit pants would be forbidden.


In the Gemara in Nedarim 49b we read that Rabbi Yehuda’s wife purchased wool and made a coat. When she went to the market she would wear it and when Rabbi Yehuda went to pray, he would wear it to pray.


We see from here that a woman can wear a unisex garment.


Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in his responsa, Yabia Omer explains that women who wear pants as protection from heat or cold surely have a source upon which to rely since many great rabbis have concurred with Bach, Taz and Shach who allow it.


From here we can learn that Ski pants (even if they are unisex) would be allowed as they protect us from the snow.


However, the Minchat Yitzchak brings a stricter opinion and says that the woman should not be skiing in the first place. If she stays at home then she won’t have to worry about protection from the elements.


Baggy sweatpants seem to be OK as well as they are unisex and are used for the purpose of exercising and mountain climbing.


There are women who are stricter and wear skirts on top of their sweatpants, a safeguard attributed to the Chazon Ish.


Yabia Omer, based on Rashba points out that Kli Gever (the prohibition against wearing men’s clothing) does not apply if the pants are cut differently than men’s and are of colors that men do not normally wear.


Based on this opinion, the pink pants with sunflowers may be OK.


So why does Yabia Omer still think that women should not wear pants on a regular basis if they are not Kli Gever?


His answer is that “Fine Jewish girls should not wear them at all, especially those that cling to the body, for they cause men to stare and to entertain especially sinful thoughts”.


From here it is clear- Rav Ovadia does not want the religious girls wearing jeggings as they are not modest attire- but by wearing them they are still not transgressing the Biblical prohibition of Kli Gever rather they are dressing immodestly.


We see from here that asking a religious woman if she wears pants is a very loaded question- the answer is not black and white as there are a lot of gray areas.



Fulfilling Pledges Print E-mail
Friday, 28 August 2009

In Parshat Ki Tetze, Devarim 23:22 we read the following: “When you make a vow (neder) to God, you shall not be late in paying it, for God will demand it of you and there will be a sin in you. If you refrain from vowing, there will be no sin in you. You shall observe and carry out what emerges from your lips, just as you vowed a voluntary gift to God, whatever you spoke of your mouth”.


If you make a pledge, how much time do you have to pay it off before you are considered “late in paying it”?


According to Rashi, you can wait until all three of the Shalosh Regalim (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot) have passed before you are considered “late”.


Why would a person make a pledge to give Tzedaka and not follow through?


Sometimes people are just forgetful. Some charities therefore like to send a lot of reminders (which can be problematic since they are costly and can also really annoy the person who made the pledge).


Others may feel obligated to get up during a synagogue appeal in order to show off with a large pledge that they later realize was too high. One good reason to go to a different shul on a day when your shul is having an appeal! After the holiday, you can quietly send in a donation that you are comfortable with.


As the founder and director of Torat Reva Yerushalayim, I am obligated to raise funds in order for us to continue with our very important and crucial programming in Jerusalem.  We offer many classes to neglected segments of the population such as shut in seniors in nursing homes.  We also provide classes to people with special needs such as mentally and physically challenged individuals in group homes and mothers who join us with their babies for Mommy and Me Torah study groups.

 All these classes are provided FREE OF CHARGE! And this is where we count on all of you! 

Now is the time where we need YOUR HELP!


If you have already made a pledge, please send it in! If you have not yet made a pledge-don’t! Just log on to the “Giving Opportunities” page on www.toratreva.org and make your donation on-line or take out your check book and surprise us by sending a check made payable to Torat Reva Yerushalayim to the US address below.


In addition please take a moment to read about our Western Wall Psalms program and consider becoming a part of this very meaningful opportunity.

Aliya or Divorce? Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 September 2008

Chapter 24 in Parshat Ki Tetze opens with the laws of divorce: “If a man marries a woman and lives with her, and it will be that she will not find favor in his eyes, for he found in her a matter of immorality, and he wrote her a bill of divorce and presented it into her hand and sent her from his house. And she left his house and went and married another man. The latter man hated her and wrote her a bill of divorce and presented it into her hand and sent her from his house…”


The last Mishna in Tractate Gittin (Divorce) addresses the question of what are legitimate grounds for divorce:


Beit Shamai says “A man may not divorce his wife unless he found in her an act of adultery (as stated above 24:1) “For he found in her a matter of immorality”.


Beit Hillel says even if she burned (overcooked or over salted) his food he may divorce her (as stated above 24:1) “For he found in her a matter of immorality”.


Rashi states that matter of immorality can refer to adultery (Beit Shammai) or any other matter (Beit Hillel).


Beit Hillel doesn’t mean that if a woman burned the soup then she should be divorced. Rather he is saying that Beit Shammai is being too strict in saying that adultery is the only reason for divorce. Sometimes there are irreconcilable differences that may make living together unbearable.


We also see this from the fact that in her second marriage her husband hated her and wrote a bill of divorce (24:3) and there is no mention of adultery.


For the divorce to be valid, both husband and wife have to consent. There must be free will on the part of the husband to give the get (Jewish divorce) unless the Beit Din (Rabbinic Court) compels him to give it (in the case of a recalcitrant husband refusing to grant a divorce where circumstances require it) and there must be free will on the part of the wife to accept it.


The woman can demand a get in the cases of incompatibility (based on her husband’s mistreatment of her) as well as in the cases of his physical defects.


The Rambam states that “a man should honor his wife more than he honors himself and love her as he loves himself. He should seek to provide for her according to his means. He shall not unduly impose his fear upon her, but he should speak to her gently and he should not be overly sad or angry.”


Tractate Ketubot 110b adds that if a husband wants to make aliya (settle in the Land of Israel) and the wife refuses then the husband has grounds to compel divorce. By the same token, if a wife wants to make aliya and the husband refuses, then the wife has grounds to compel divorce.


We see from here that it is important to seriously discuss any possible interest in making aliya before you get married or you can make aliya and then look for a spouse in Israel (who hopefully will not be looking to get on the next flight to America!)

Getting Paid on Time Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 September 2007

Sponsored by Isaac and Amy Halickman in memory of Phyllis Dalfen Silver

Parshat Ki Tetze emphasizes the mitzvot of treating others with respect and looking out for those who may be less fortunate.

In Devarim Chapter 20 sentence 14 we read: "You shall not cheat a poor or destitute hired person among your brethren, or a convert who is in your land or one who is in your cities. On that day shall you pay his hire; the sun shall not set upon him, for he is poor and his life depends on it; let him not call out against you to Hashem, for it shall be a sin in you".

Vaikra 19:13 already dealt with a similar theme: "You shall not cheat your fellow and you shall not rob; you shall not withhold a worker's wage with you until morning".

The pasuk in Vayikra deals with not withholding wages in general (and does not specify the rich or poor) and the psukim in Devarim specify that the wages of those who are less fortunate certainly should not be withheld.

The idea here is that just because a person may be more vulnerable doesn't mean that they should be taken advantage of.

In Israel today, many people live from paycheck to paycheck. If they are not paid on time then they will not be able to cover their bills. The law in Israel states that every worker must be paid by the tenth of the month. There is no differentiation between the rich and the poor.

Unfortunately, there are people in positions of power who try to take advantage of others. It is up to us to stand up for those who are more vulnerable and ensure that they are treated with respect and dignity.


Don't Rely on Miracles Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 August 2006

Dedicated in memory of Yoni Siegal z""l

Parshat Ki Tetze, Devarim 23:10 states: "Ki tetze machaneh al oyvecha v'neeshmarta mikol davar ra". "When you go out to encamp against your enemies take precautions from every evil thing." Sentence 15 continues "For HaShem your God is moving within your camp to save you and to defeat your enemies before you so your camp must be holy".

The first words of our Parsha, Devarim 21:10 state: "Ki tetzei lemilchama al oyvecha unetano HaShem Elokecha biyadecha v'shavita shivyo", "If you should go to war against your enemies and God puts them in your hand and you capture prisoners from them".

There is a difference in the wording between these two phrases. In Devarim 23:10 it says "Ki tetzi machaneh", "When you should go out to encamp", while in Devarim 21:10 it says "Ki tetze lemilchama", "If you should go to war".

Why does the Torah choose to use the word "machaneh" in reference to holiness as opposed to "milchama" which is used earlier? According to Sifrei D'bei Rebbe's comment on the Sifrei, the holiness comes from the group going out as a "machaneh". When the nation is at war, a large group should go out together in order to protect and strengthen each other. We should not send just a few soldiers in at a time relying on a miracle.

During all of Israel's wars, including this past one, we have seen many examples of soldiers going out of their way to help and protect each other. This has brought a tremendous amount of Kiddush HaShem, sanctification of God's name. There is a unique holiness that exists in the Israeli army.

However, we must not forget the three missing soldiers Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev who were kidnapped at the beginning of the war. There is not a bus stop or billboard in Israel that does not have a picture of one or all of these soldiers in order to raise awareness of the fact that we can not sit still until we know where they are. We must all do our part and continue to petition their safe return.

Why Was Ruth Allowed to Convert? Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 December 2005

In Parshat Ki Tetze (Dvarim 23:4) We are told "lo yavo amoni umoavi bikhal Hahsem", "An Ammonite or Moavite should not enter into the congregation of God". The reason that they are not allowed to convert to Jusaism is given in the next verse, "Because they did not meet you with bread and water when you came out of Egypt".

If Ammonites and Moavites are not allowed to convert, then how was Ruth, a Moaviah able to convert? The Gemara in Yevamot 76b teaches that the verse is only referring to the men. Therefore, a female Moavitess would be allowed to convert since the women were not the ones who were cruel. It was only the men who withheld the food and water.

Despite this fact, many in Ruth's generation believed that the rule applied to all Moavites, both men and women. Many believed that Ruth's conversion was not legitimate.

Boaz, the most important person at the time, married Ruth in order to show that her conversion was in fact legitimate. For those who still didn't accept her conversion, a few generations later her grandson King David was born. At that point there was no more denying it.

The Torah says over and over "veahavta et hager", "you shall love the convert".

Unfortunately in Israel today people with legitimate conversions are being discriminated against and told that they are not really Jewish.

We must stand up and help these converts in the spirit of the mitzvah of "veahavta et hager".