Friday, January 7, 2011

SHABBAT plucking fruits or flowers (Kotzer)

Today is the 2nd day of Shebat , 5771

There are 39 categories of Melakha (creative tasks) that are forbidden of Shabbat. One of them is Kotser: reaping fruits, flowers, plants, leaves, etc. from the ground or from a tree or cutting branches for a fireplace, or mowing a lawn.

In other words, cutting or plucking any 'growing' thing.

This is one of the few melakhot explicitly mentioned in the Torah (Ex. 34:21), "Six days shall you work, but you shall pause on the seventh; in plowing and in harvesting, you shall stop."

Examples: During Shabbat you cannot reap a fruit from its tree, even though you intend to eat it right away. Similarly, during Shabbat you cannot cut a mint -branch while is attached to the ground. Not even to use it for smelling it and say a berakha (when using mint branches for Habdala, we should be careful to pick those mint branches, only once Shabbat is over!).

From the other side, once the fruit is already detached from the tree or a plant is detached from the ground, you may cut it or break it in smaller pieces.

For example: if you have a mint branch already detached from the ground, you may cut it 'with your hands' in smaller branches or leaves, in the same way you are allowed to cut an apple, once is not in the tree anymore.

A a fruit which falls naturally from a tree on Sabbath, may not be used on the same day (Mukse).

Shabbat Shalom!

Candle Lighting in NY: 4:26 PM

Shabbat Ends in NY: 5:35 PM

Children Singing Moroccan Habdalah

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Compulsive liars

Today is Rosh Chodesh Shebat , 5771

The Torah forbids to lie.

The Torah distinguishes between different levels of lying. In Shemot 23, 7 the Pasuk says: midebar sheker tirchak "keep yourself away from telling lies". Which our rabbis interpreted as the prohibition to tell something about the past or about one's future intentions, changing deliberately the details of it.

Lies are also classified according to the damage they cause. Although it is forbidden to lie even when no harm is caused, the more harm the lie causes to someone else, the more serious the lie is considered.

Our rabbis explain that the first victim of lies is very often the liar.
When someone gets use to lie, he builds for himself an alternative reality. A dimension he devises for himself to accommodate his wishes, fears, complexes. He will give more importance to his perception of the facts than to the facts themselves.

Sometimes -the Rabbis (and the psychologists) explain- a person might get addicted to lies. And in needs of changing reality or escaping reality in order to survive or enjoy life. This person is called 'a compulsive liar'. Someone who lies out of habit.

"Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right. Compulsive lying is usually thought to develop in early childhood, due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary". The compulsive liar many times suffers from a very low self esteem and might need therapy and counseling.

How to Stop Compulsive lying?

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gardening and shaping habits

Today is the 29th day of Tebet, 5771

Maimonides (Rambam) writes in Hilkhot De'ot Ch. 1, that we all have different habits and tendencies. In this area, the good path is the middle path. The path which is equidistant from both extremes.

But what happens when we 'naturally' lean toward one of the extremes? How can we get to be in the middle of the road? We know we have to correct it, but can we correct it? And if so, how?

Before we ask haRambam, first ask a gardener.

If you have in you backyard a small tree or a branch leaning to one side, what should you do so it grows straight?

Your gardener will first assess your tree. If your tree has a 20 degrees inclination, and it grows on a 70° angle you have to stake your tree. When you stake your tree do not tie your tree at 90°! When you are coming from 70° and you aim to get to 90° you must stake your tree at 110° angle on the opposite side! With time, the 110° you impose on your tree will balance its 'natural '70° deviation and you will get a tree growing at 90°.

Maimonides explains that a similar process will take place with our character. If we have a natural inclination to one side we need to force ourselves 'acting' for a while on the other equidistant side. In this way, with time we will attain the desired balanced 'golden' way.

How to get straight branches?

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024

Monday, January 3, 2011

HONORING PARENTS After they pass away

Today is the 27th day of Tebet, 5771

Honoring parents is a Mitzva that extends after our parents pass away. The Laws of Abelut (mourning) are stricter for parents that for any other relatives. There is a natural reason for it: unlike any other family member (spouse, children, brothers) we can only have one father and one mother. But the main reason is that this is part of honoring our parents after they are deceased.

From Me'am Lo'ez: "A person must honor his parents even after they are dead. if he mentions them or says something in their name during the first twelve months after their death he should add: hareni kaparat mishkabo ('I'm the atonement for their resting place'). Indicating his readiness to accept any retribution destined to be meted out to the parent. After the twelve moths are over one should say: zikhrono librakha lechaye ha'olam habba "May his or her memory be for a blessing in life in the future world". One should do this when mentioning his parents in speech or in writing".

More examples:

When we do the keri'a -tearing apart our clothing in sign of mourning- for any other relative we cut our right side. But for our parents we cut on our left side, specifically because that is the side of the heart.

For our parents we keep 12 months of full mourning, while for every other relative we mourn for 30 days.

When a holiday cancels out the mourning, one can shave even before 30 days are over. Except for our parents that the 30 days have to be actually counted before shaving.

Read about the book Me'am Lo'ez in Wikipedia (notice that the author's name have been mistransliterated: It is Ya'akob "KHOLI").

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024