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8 Tishrei 5776 - September 22, 2015 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly

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The Center of the Universe
At The Center of the Universe
by Mordechai Plaut

Gmar chasimah tovah to all. Chag somei'ach. Please note that the next regular issue should appear the week of parshas Noach. We have a simchah that week, but we will try to put out at least a small issue.

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Turn Away from Evil: The Real Problems with the Internet

Three prominent Rosh Yeshiva discuss the issues with the Internet.

HaRav Boruch Weisbecker (Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Matisyahu): In order to understand the specific action of the Yetzer Hora in these devices, one has to consider the intent of those who make them. What did they have in mind? And I mean to address the original intent latent in the technology itself, without even considering the serious temptations that can be presented. What is latent even in an instrument that has no such stumbling blocks?

Reflections on Shmittah Observance

Shmittah came to the world and all work came to a halt. No sowing and no harvest. The vineyard awaits. "The grapes of the sixth year were harvested and now is the time to prune the vines so that the next crop can grow. But Ayal is a champion; he restrains himself and waits. In the middle of the winter, when the time is ripe for pruning, he brings a team of workers to cut back the entire trees, that is permissible according to halachic guidelines. The branches are chopped off before his eyes and the entire vineyard loses its vibrant greenish-purple hues, to stand bare and parched, small and pale.

Israel Population at 8.4 Million Citizens

The Central Bureau of Population Statistics released interesting statistics about the population of Israeli citizens at the turn of 5776.

For the Love of a Mitzva: A Succos Story

Introduction: Ever since I was a little girl I used to look forward to hearing the "Succos Story." My father, shlita, told this story only once a year and even though we already knew the ending and all the nuances and lines almost by heart, we children never let a Succos go by without hearing it again. When I grew up and had children of my own, I waited eagerly for the day that they would be big enough to understand the "Succos Story." And when I saw how much they loved the story, I decided to share it with a wider audience of children of all ages.

From Our Archives

Opinion and Comment
Sukkos, Time for Splendor

Based on the Sichos of Morenu veRabbeinu HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Shlita

Succos is unique among yomim tovim in the degree of simchah that Hashem expects us to achieve. The Rambam at the end of Hilchos Lulav writes about the Simchas Beis Hashoevoh: "Although it is a mitzva to rejoice on all the moadim, on chag haSuccos in the Beis Hamikdosh there was an additional simchah, as it says `You shall rejoice before Hashem, your G-d for seven days.' "

Opinion and Comment

Seeking Simchah on Succos

by Mordecai Plaut

When some non-Jewish people enjoy someone else's company, they express their approval by suggesting that the person would make a good drinking buddy, and they would like to go out for a night on the town and hit the bars with them sometime.

The Jewish concept of simchah and the non-Jewish concept of having a good time are quite different, and simchah is one of the main aspects of Succos.

Opinion and Comment

Simchas Torah with Rabboseinu in the Yeshiva Halls: An Internal Joy

by B. Re'em

Kelm - Mir - Chevron - Kaminetz

Maran HaRav Eliyohu Dessler ztvk'l writes about the world of Kelm that is no more, in a letter to his son. He describes in detail the Beis Talmud Torah of Kelm:

"I remember the olden days and how Simchas Torah was celebrated in the yeshiva. The rabbonim would exit the gate and go out into the street, dancing their way through the city. They danced with all their might with exuberant enthusiasm and joy, singing full throatedly. "Ashreinu - How fortunate are we and how goodly is our lot . . . "


Seeing Hashem in His Creation

By Mordecai Plaut

Although many people today do believe in G-d, the modern world is definite proof that even deep knowledge of the material world does not force one to be a believer. Nonetheless, if someone has a healthy mind (as HaRav Elchonon Wasserman calls it in Kovetz Ma'amorim) and has "perfected his mind" (as the Rambam calls it in Moreh Nevuchim) to be able to see things clearly, he can find many things in the world that lead to emunoh.

We truly live in an amazing world. There are many things that cannot be dismissed as coincidences. There are many things that, when normal people see them, they feel that they see the work of a Higher Intelligence, and not just the result of blind, random nature. I have catalogued some of these here.


Observations: The Cadaver Business in the US - Why Not to Leave one's Body to Science

By Mordecai Plaut

The Torah teaches us that even after the soul leaves, it is not through with its body and what happens to its Earthly remains is of ongoing concern to the departed soul even in its new abode. Because of this it is vital to ensure that all of the remains are buried together, and as soon as possible. This is one of the major chessed functions of Zaka: to gather up absolutely all of the remains of those murdered by terrorists in order to bring them to kever Yisroel. This is very important to the departed soul.

Not everyone sees things this way. About 10,000 Americans leave their bodies to science each year following their misguided impulses to do something good, and expecting that their remains will advance knowledge and help cure disease. There is, however, no supervision of what academic do with the bodies that are willed to them, and the reality is often far from what they expected when they made the donations. Many donated bodies serve no higher purpose than to bring high profits to dealers.

Readers are advised that some of the descriptions of the abuse in the article are moderately explicit. Many things were left out, but it was felt that it is important to bring some of the somewhat gory details in order to provide information to discourage those who may consider willing their remains to science.


Av, 5765 - Kislev 5766 (August-December 2005)

May-July, 2005


The Message of an Earthquake

A Mission to Spread Daas Torah

Looking for the Best in Yiddishkeit

Can I - Should I?

The Immorality of Palestinian Combatants and Noncombatants

More Editorials . . .

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