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What Is The Reason: Gotcha! Adon Olam, Food in the Bathroom, The Song of The Sea, Angels, and A Parent's Love Print E-mail

What Is The ReasonThis has been a week of people asking me questions about things I said long ago. I guess they are testing me. Thanks a lot people!: When you were the rabbi of our synagogue, you would always sing Adon Olam aloud, except on certain occasions. I can’t remember the reason for the exceptions. O.C.

I cannot believe you remember! There was an ancient custom for the Chazzan to sing Adon Olam aloud in a well-known tune, except when someone in the community had passed away. Rather than directly announce the bad news, the Chazzan would whisper Adon Olam so that all would figure out on their own that someone had died. We do not want to say aloud the words, “With my spirit shall my body remain, Hashem is with me, I shall not fear,” when the spirit of someone with whom we used to pray no longer remains in his body. We never do this on Shabbat or a festival, when there is no mourning. (Based on Mateh Moshe, Chapter 30)

I recall you telling me that it is OK to bring food and drink into a bathroom as long as you say the blessing outside. Another rabbi recently told me, when he saw me carrying a can of soda into the men’s room. that it is absolutely prohibited. Can you please give me some sources for your ruling? B.R.

The Tzitz Eliezer, Volume 14, #2, writes that there is no mention anywhere in Halacha that it is prohibited to bring food into a bathroom. The B’eir Heitev (3:2) speaks of eating in a bathroom, but does not mention any prohibition on bringing the food in.

The Mahari Algazi, Shalmei Tzibbur, Laws of Washing Hands #3, writes that according to the mysteries of Torah there is no “ruach ra’ah,” destructive spirit, in a bathroom that will rest on food. He simply questions the hygiene issue. He recommends covering the food for health reasons.

The Responsa Lev Chaim 3, considers arguing with the Shalmei Tzibbur, but concludes that the only Ruach Ra’ah present can rest on a person, not food. (See too, Responsa Maharam Brisk, Volume I #10, and Torah Lishma #23.)

The Responsa Salmat Chaim, Volume III #9 rules that there is definitely no halachic prohibition on bringing food into the bathroom, but does not think it is tasteful to so do.
I hope this helps.

You once mentioned in a prayer class that there is a hint in the Torah indicating that we should sing the Song of the Sea everyday. Where is it? G.Y.

The Chizkuni (Exodus 15:1) says that, “Vayomru laimor,” “They said to say,” is a hint that we should sing the Song of the Sea everyday.

You once gave an explanation of why one angel will not be assigned two missions at once, and I am embarrassed to say that I don’t remember what you said. Do you? A.C.

The explanation I used to mention was that of the Siftei Chachamim (Genesis 18:2): “To make it clear that God has infinite angels to use and He does not practice poverty, meaning using one angel for many missions, where He is wealthy.”

You once discussed the concept of a parent loving a child more than he loves himself. I have seen parents love their money even more than they love their children. Isn’t this inconsistent with the Gemara you taught? D.B.

First of all, there are certainly people who are not well, and their behavior does not indicate that the Gemara is wrong. Although the shiur was almost 20 years ago, I recall teaching a Chidah (Midbar Kadmut, page 11) who quotes the Ra’avan (Page 31) that actually the debate between Rabbi Akiva and Ben Azai about the verse of, This is the book of generations of man,” is a debate regarding the love of a parent for a child. Rabbi Akiva holds that a father will love himself more than his children, and Ben Azzai argues. The Chidah mentions a footnote in Mahari Berona, Chapter 198, that quotes the Talmud, (Bava Batra 131b) that a son is more precious to a parent than his own life. The Chida insists that this Talmudic dictum refers specifically to a father’s desire that his son achieve greater financial success than did he. However, there is no indication that a father loves his child more than himself.
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