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March 05 Kosherpages launches 

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Do you have a Dvar Torah you would like to share on KosherPages?

If so we would love to include it, please use our contact form to send it through to us.


Vayishlach

Thursday, 12th December 2019

Yaakov's (Jacob's) parent's told him to go to the house of Lavan and find a wife.  He did that, but only after a 14 year detour to the Yeshiva (college) of Sheim and Eiver.  Why did he stop over for 14 years instead of going direct and getting the job done that he set out to do?

Rabbi Elyashiv (Divrei Aggada) says that Yaakov had big plans and intended to carry on the legacy of his forefathers.  He wanted to go to Charan, a city of Avodah Zara (idol worship), and do what Avrohom (Abraham) did.  He had planned to call out in G-d's name and convince the people to become Baalei Tshuva (to return to Judaism).  

However, on his way, he was robbed by Elifaz and was left penniless.  Yaakov understood that to be successful in kiruv (winning people over), you need money.  Avrohom won people over with his very successful hotel and hospitality.  After wining and dining the people, he turned them towards G-d.  Without the financial clout, Yaakov knew he didn't stand a chance in Charan.

Yaakov had to forge a new path of kiruv and decided that he would bring people close to G-d through Torah.  To succeed using this method one has to be very well versed in the Torah. 
 
He did not yet feel that he was well enough equipped to even stand up to Lavan, let alone having the capability of being able to convince others.  To accomplish this he needed new training in the form of Torah learning without stopping even to sleep, for 14 years. Only then was he able to continue his journey and carry out the original job that he had set out to do and look for a wife for himself.

Vayeitze

Thursday, 5th December 2019

"...And he [Yaakov - Jacob] loved Rochel (Rachel) more that Leah ... and Hashem (G-d) saw that Leah was hated ..." (29:30-31)

From the fact that Yaakov loved Rochel, does that mean that his other wife Leah should be hated? And is this the attitude of Yaakov our Forefather - to hate his wife?

Rabbi Pam, speaking particularly to parents and teachers, suggests that the lesson we should take from this is that when we show extra love towards one person, even one of our own children, the others will feel hated even if it is not the case.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky however takes a more severe approach from this verse. He explains that there is no such thing as 'a middle road' when it comes to love, any lacking in the Mitzvah (commandment) of "loving a fellow Jew" is the equivalent of hating him; even if he loves him 70%, the remaining 30% is within the boundary of hatred.  This verse is therefore telling us that Yaakov did love Leah very much, but perhaps it was only 99.99%, therefore Leah was in fact hated.

This, explains Rabbi Kanievsky is the depth and the severity of the Mitzvah of Loving our fellow Jew (Veohavto Lereacho Komoycho) and how hard we need to work on it!

Toldot

Thursday, 28th November 2019

"So Esov (Esau) went to Yishmoel (Ismael) and took Mochlas (Mochalot), the daughter of Yishmoel son of Avrohom (Abraham), sister of Nevoyos (Neboath), in addition to his wives, as a wife for himself." (28:9)

After Yitzchok (Isaac) instructed his son Yaacov (Jacob) not to marry a Canaanite woman Esov realized his father's displeasure with him having married a Cannanite woman, so he then married from the house of Avrohom, the daughter of Yishmoel.  However, the verse clearly states that Esov didn't divorce any of his Cannanite wives.

What did Esov therefore gain by listening to Yitzchok and marrying a non-Canaanite?

We find a very interesting quote in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud) (Nedarim 3:8), as follows: "Rabbi Acha says in the name of Rabbi Huna: In the future, the evil Esov will don his tallis and go sit among the righteous in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), and G-d will drag him out of there."

Esov wanted to please his father so he married Yishmoel's daughter, yet he didn't divorce his Canaanite wives. Esov entered Gan Eden wearing his Tallis (prayer shaul) demonstrating that he had fullfilled his father's wishes by marrying a descendant of Avrohom, yet G-d drags him out because at the same time he is still married to Canaanite woman.

Esov wanted it all, righteousness and material pleasure, but to G-d this is unacceptable.  Esov is dragged from Gan Eden because he is like the person who immerses himself in a Mikva (ritual bath) to purify himself, while is still holding on to an unclean object.

We must realize that to do honest Tshuva (repentance), we must be willing to let go of the sin, otherwise it is meaningless.

Chayei Sarah

Thursday, 21st November 2019

“And G-d blessed Avrohom (Abraham) with all.” (Bereishis 24:1)

What is the meaning of “all”? If G-d blessed him without specifying a particular area, surely that means that he was blessed with all?

The true tzadik (righteous person) is, by definition, a model of selflessness. His main concern is what G-d wants of him, and what other people want and need. His own material substance, beyond maintaining his health and strength to serve G-d, is of little concern to him.

Therefore, when the tzadik prays, he doesn’t pray to G-d only for himself, he prays for the welfare of the whole community. Even if his prayers are answered, and G-d blesses him, it’s not a blessing in his eyes if others are not included.

Therefore, if G-d wants to really bless the tzadik, He will bless the whole community, as well. That’s the meaning of the verse, “And G-d blessed Avrohom with all.” G-d acceded to Avrohom’s wishes, and blessed all the people, not just him. 

Vayerah

Thursday, 14th November 2019

The parsha (Torah portion) this week begins with G-d appearing to a ninety-nine year old Avrohom (Abraham) sitting in front of his tent suffering from his recent circumcision. Chazal (the Rabbis) teach us that he was waiting for guests to pass by, so he could invite them in, and he was upset that there were no guests.

Suddenly, Avrohom looks up and notices three men approaching. He ran over to meet them, saying: "Please don't pass on from your servant. Let a little water be brought...and you'll rest under the tree. I'll bring a morsel of bread and you'll satisfy your appetite. Then you'll continue on your way." (Genesis 18:14-15)

Avrohom excitedly ran to his wife Soroh (Sarah). "Quickly knead bread and make cakes!" Then again he ran to his herd to choose a good tender calf for his guests to eat, and hurries the lad to prepare it.
Avrohom went to such great effort to satisfy his guests, yet he only offered "a little water"? Why of all things was the water limited when he offered an abundance of everything else?

Rabbi Yisroel Salanter (1810–1883) was once travelling with a close friend of his when it was time for afternoon prayers. The two entered a small synagogue to pray. As is customary, they both washed their hands before praying. First, the Rabbi's friend washed with a liberal amount of water from a basin which was filled for this purpose, then Rabbi Yisroel followed suit, using only a minimal amount of water. "Aren't you accustomed to wash with a liberal amount Reb Yisroel?" "Yes, in fact, I am. But this is a small synagogue with a small group who comes here on a daily basis. I'm concerned that the Shamash (sexton) only fills the basin with enough water for those who usually come here to pray. If I wash liberally I may leave a noticeable deficiency in the basin. Imagine if the President sees the lack of water and feels that the Shamash is not carrying out his responsibilities correctly, it can cost him his livelihood."

When it comes to the work of having guests which Avrohom and Soroh committed themselves to, and which they personally undertook, they can offer their guests as much as they like. However, in the case of the water, which someone else was bringing, Avrohom did not offer that in abundance at the expense of those who were going to have to carry it, hence "a little water".

Noach

Thursday, 31st October 2019

Our sages teach us that the construction of the ark took 120 years. Although Hashem (G-d) could have saved Noach (Noah) and his family in many ways, which would have saved much time and energy, the sages teach us that He specifically chose to have Noach go through this arduous task to arouse the curiosity of all who passed by. This would enable Noach to have a chance to explain to them that Hashem was planning a flood that would destroy the entire world because of the evil that had pervaded it. The passerby would, hopefully, be impressed enough to change his behaviour and begin to live a more ethical lifestyle. 
 
Is it not odd that from the thousands of people who must have passed by and seen Noach hammering away, not even one person allowed themselves to be inspired and to be saved from death? We know that only Noach, his wife, his sons, and their wives were protected in the ark throughout the flood. Apparently, no one else had decided to repent. If they had, they would have been saved. How could this be?

Perhaps the answer lies in another teaching of the sages. The Torah says that Noach and his family went into the ark "because of the waters of the flood" (Genesis 7:7). From here the sages derive that Noach was mediocre in his belief because it took the pushing of the waters to force him into the ark. 
 
Obviously, this statement is not to be taken at face value. The Torah itself states that "Noach was righteous and walked with Hashem" (ibid. 6:9). There is no doubt that he was aware of Hashem and knew that His word was to be taken seriously.
 
However, we are being told that Noach was lacking in his belief, a belief that was to be expected of him. Perhaps this is the explanation for Noach's inability to convince anyone to repent. One who, himself, is not totally knowledgeable of the truth he is teaching will not succeed in convincing others of its importance. They will sense that he is not firm in his own belief and will, ultimately, be turned away because of it.

In order for a change to take effect, one must have the intent in his heart, as he speaks with his words. Words do not have an effect until they are spoken with sincerity. Noach had something important to teach, which should have been taken seriously, but his lack of belief (on whatever level it may have been) was enough to take the effect out of his warnings to the people. 

Yom Kippur

Monday, 7th October 2019

On Yom Kippur we wipe away our sins. On Rosh HaShana we proclaim HaShem (G-d) as King (but no sin-mention). 

Surely Yom Kippur should go first so we can proclaim HaShem as King in a state of sin-free purity? 

The Rambam - Maimonidies - (hil melachim 1;1) comments that we were commanded 3 commandments upon entry to the land of Israel; 1st to appoint a king, then to wipe out Amalek, and finally to build a Beis Hamikdash (Temple). The order is very precise here. 

So too, Rosh HaShana is compared to appointing a king (we 'appoint' HaShem as King), Yom Kippur to the removal of Amalek (Amalek is the embodiment of sin), and Sukkos to the Beis Hamikdash (a surrounding sanctuary of HaShem's Presence) .

Thus, for the same reason a King is needed to beat amalek, so too is Rosh HaShanah needed to have a successful Yom Kippur.

Ki Tavo

Wednesday, 18th September 2019

The verse states "VeSamto Bateneh" - "You shall place the Bikkurim - first fruits - in a basket". What is the significance of the baskets? Isn't it the giving away of the first and best fruits that is the proof of the farmers' self sacrifice and the important factor?
 
The answer is so as not to embarrass the poor.
Our Sages tell us that the wealthy people would bring their Bikkurim in golden baskets, the Kohanim - Priests - would remove the fruits and return the baskets to them, as opposed to the poor who would bring it in wicker baskets which the Kohanim kept along with the fruit. Why did the Kohanim return the baskets to the wealthy who did not need their baskets, and keep the poor man's basket?
The Commentaries explain, this was in order not to shame the poor. The wealthy gave expensive, beautiful fruit. Even when not in the golden basket the fruit looked impressive. Therefore the Kohanim returned the baskets to them. On the other hand, the poor gave lower quality fruit. If the fruit would have been removed from the basket, the poor man would be embarrassed. Therefore the Kohanim kept their fruit and the baskets. Hence the reason for bringing the fruit in the baskets

Ki Seitze

Thursday, 12th September 2019

In this week’s Torah portion, the Torah prohibits marrying an Ammonite or a Moabite for all generations even after conversion. LO YAVO AMONI UMO’AVI BIKHAL HASHEM, “An Ammonite or a Moabite may not enter into the assembly of Hashem (G-d)”. (Deut. 23,4) The reason given is that when the children of Israel were on their way to the Promised Land these two nations refused to provide them with bread and water, the two greatest necessities for sustaining life.

There were nations who enslaved Jews and nations who went to war against Jews. Some were not forbidden to be married by Jews and some were forbidden only for a number of generations. But none were forbidden forever as were the Ammonites and Moabites. Why? 

The Sages tell us that there are three important distinguishing characteristics of Jews. Jews are merciful, bashful and charitable. The Ammonites and Moabites demonstrated that they are neither merciful nor charitable. While other people who convert to Judaism may eventually become part of the Jewish fold, individuals of these two nations lack the basic characteristics needed to fit into our people. Conversion will not transform them into true Jews.

Jews have these beautiful traits. They have demonstrated throughout history their desire to help others in need. They have been the greatest contributors to charity. They have always felt for the underdog. They have always demonstrated these traits and never sought credit for doing so. This distinguishes Jews above other people. 

Shoftim

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019

In our parsha (Torah reading for this week) we are commanded (18:13) ‘be complete (tamim) with HaShem (G-d), your God.’ What does this mean and involve? 

Rashi writes that we are not to go looking into what the future will hold, but rather just accept everything with full trust and faith in HaShem; He takes care of us. 

This explains the connection to the next few psukim (verses), which deplores the use of magic (something often used to predict or find out the future). 

The Chofetz Chaim highlights that it only says that one must fully trust HaShem - it does not extend the same level of trust to fellow humans. This means, as the Chofetz Chaim explains, that one is not to be naïve in trusting everyone; before relying on someone, make sure they are trustworthy - one cannot merely fully assume so from the outset. 

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