Friday, July 30, 2010

THE SHABBAT TABLE. (Part 1) Friday night dinner and Parenting

Today is the 19th of Av, 5770

"A core predictor of which families produce children who grow up to be described as "mentchen" (decent and good) children is the amount and quality of time spent by parents with their children.

In a fascinating series of studies that have recently received media attention, researchers have found a direct correlation between the number of times a week parents eat dinner with their children and the risk of abusing drugs. Families that eat dinner together once a week have children with lower risk for drug-abuse than those that never do.

With each increasing night that parents and children eat together, drug abuse risk decreases to the point that there is virtually no risk for drug abuse in families in which parents and children dinner together every night.

The importance of eating dinner together is not the 'eating' or dinner; it's the uninterrupted, focused interaction that seems to bear such valuable fruit" (from the book 'Balanced Parenting' by R. and D. Pelcovitz).

Shabbat dinner -among other things- creates a sense of belonging and responsibility: a young adult who spends quality time with his family will think twice before doing a wrong thing. Because he realizes that whatever negative action he might do, it will bear unwanted consequences to all his beloved relatives.

Shabbat dinner is a God-given gift -a night which enriches our souls and strengthens our family.

Shabbat Shalom!

Candle lighting 7:55 PM.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

LASHON HARA: Does it apply between husband and wife?

Today is the 18th of Av, 5770

In his wonderful book, Shemirat haLashon, the Chaftez Chayim found it necessary to discuss the matter of conversations between husband and wife and the impact of Lashon haRa in their relationship.

What should a woman do if, for example, someone close to her tells her something derogatory about her husband's personality? Should she tell her husband about it? Should we assume that Lashon haRa does not apply between husband and wife?

Definitely NO!. The Chafetz Chayim warns that the rules of Lashon haRa should be strictly kept -especially between husband and wife- and that the consequences of not observing this Halakha might be devastating.

The classic example: Too often, big family battles have started by a husband telling his wife what his mother or his sister said about her, or by a wife men­tioning a criticism which her parents voiced at her husband.

A wise spouse should convey perfectly clear that negative talk about his/her spouse is completely unacceptable. And if one can't avoid listening derogatory information about one's spouse, at least one should have the intelligence not to 'report' back to his/her spouse!

Such situations would ultimately lead to resentment and distress and might cause unnecessary anguish and tensions in our families.

On building positive 'spouse - mother in law' relationship:

(Thanks to N. B. for sending it!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What makes a fish ‘Kosher’?

17th of Av, 5770

The Torah says that fish or any creature that lives in the water must have both scales (kaskekset) and fins (senapir) in order to be considered Kosher. The rabbis of the Talmud teach us that all fish that have scales also have fins, so in practice Kosher fish are identified simply by their scales. Obviously, crustaceans (such as lobster) and other shellfish (such as clams) are not Kosher because they lack scales.

Not all scales are considered Kosher by Jewish Law. It must be removable without damage to the skin of the fish. Sturgeon, although it has primitive bony plates on its sides, is not considered Kosher because the scales cannot be removed without damaging the flesh. Sharks are similarly not Kosher, because their skin is covered with tiny teeth-like armor, which are not considered scales at all.

Jewish Law requires only a minimum number of scales to accord a fish Kosher status. Tuna, for example, have very few scales, yet are nevertheless considered a Kosher fish.

There are a few more factors that complicate this determination. For example, a given species of fish may be known by five or more names, some of which are common to known Kosher species. "Rock Salmon", for example, is a non-Kosher fish (otherwise known as Atlantic Wolfish), and bears no relationship to the common Kosher species of true salmon.

For a list of Kosher and non kosher fish see:

Adapted from The Fortunes of a Fish by Rabbi Blech.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


16th of Av, 5770

I've got a few new books in Israel. One of them is BET ELOKIM written by Rabbi Moshe ben Yosef Miterany (Salonica 1505- Jerusalem 1585)

In section # 1 he talks about Tefila and the first thing he teaches us is about the attitude of humbleness that we have to show when praying to God Almighty. We cannot 'demand' from God to fulfill our needs or requests. We must realize that God Almighty does not owe us anything. Humbly, we approach Him, asking Him and begging Him to hear our prayers knowing that we don't necessarily deserve His attention or response… We should see ourselves like a poor person asking for charity, requesting a 'favor' not a 'payback'.

All the Mitzvot we do are not 'favors' for God for which we should expect God's attention. On the contrary: a Jew 'owes' God the privilege of having being chosen by Him and every Mitzva we do, it's ultimately for our own benefit: to refine our character and to feed our soul with the nutrients necessary for the world to come. God Almighty is like a father that loves his son and if he demands from his son, for instance, to study, is having his son's interest in mind, not his own!

Similarly, every Mitzva we do by the command of God it was given by Him for our benefit.

This attitude of humbleness and acknowledgment to HaShem is a prerequisite for a sincere prayer.

Read more about rabbi Moshe Miterani, the MABIT:

Monday, July 26, 2010

TU BEAV: The happy side of the month of Av...

Today is the 15thof Av

The Talmud in Masekhet Taanit says that today, Tu BeAv, the 15thof the month of Av is one of the happiest days of the year. No special customs or celebrations are performed, except for the omission of Tachanun (the confessional prayer).

Why is the 15thof Av such a happy day?

Many positive things happened to the Jewish people on this day.

1. As we know from the story of the 9thof Av, when Am Israel complained about their every person older than 20 who had left Egypt was condemned to die in the dessert. Well, on the 15thof Av, 40 years after they left Egypt they stop dying.

2. In order to ensure the orderly division of the Holy Land between the twelve tribes of Israel, restrictions had been placed on marriages between members of two different tribes. (Bamidbar chapter 36). This restriction was lifted, on the 15th of Av.

3. Av 15 was also the day on which the tribe of Benjamin, which had been excommunicated for its behavior in the incident of the "Concubine at Givah," was readmitted into the community of Israel, as related in Judges 19-21.

For these two last reasons, the 15thof Av was known as a day of ‘dancing and dating’. The girls would go to the fields and dance among themselves and the guys would come and ask them out.

To read the whole story of the 15 of Av please see: